Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Class Struggles: The DM's Guild Witches

Initiation Ritual by Trishkell
I'm very deep into my D&D5 game right now and I have already scribbled out a notebook full of ideas of how to convert my Witch class to 5e.  So much so that I feel like I am in a good place now to look at other people's interpretation of my favorite class for 5e.

While there is a lot of fun D&D5 information out there, I focused my attention on the DM's Guild online store.   This is not an exhaustive list and it is not in any particular order.   Well...they are in the order they opened up in Acrobat.

General notes.  There is a lot of things you can get away with in the DM's Guild that would never fly under the OGL or in the OSR.  I am going to have to judge these on their own merits and not the merits of professional designers or even the enthusiastic amateurs of the OSR/DIYD&D crowds.

Witch Class, D&D 5e (inspired by Dragon #114 witch)
Christopher J. Ferguson, 9 pages, $1.00
I love the art for this one, but the background image makes it harder to read and difficult to print.   He starts with a bit of history of the witch in D&D, but I am not sure if the author knows how far back this class actually goes.  That's fine the focus here is on the Dragon #114 witch.
This witch uses both Intelligence and Charisma for spellcasting and is a divine spellcaster.  There is a distinction between White and Black magic witches.  I like the "A Blessing and a Curse" idea here. It's a nice touch.  The witches also get a lot of powers in addition to their spells.  Some, like the candle magic powers, really do invoke the memories of the old Dragon Magazine witch.   There are even 5 new spells.  I had hoped that since this was inspired by the Dragon witch that there would be High Secret Order spells too, but the author did not include those.
There are some good ideas here.

Witch Class (5e)
William Russell, 13 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
I rather like this one.  The layout is really nice, very professional. The witches here as presented as natural spell-casters; learning through natural ability and experiences. Wisdom is the spellcasting ability for this witch and are natural Ritual Spellcasters.   This witch also has a number of witch traditions; fey, hedge and shadow.  All provide the witch with background and provide some powers. This witch also can assume animal shape and has a spirit kin; something like a spirit animal.  There is a list of spells, but no real new ones.
There are a lot of great ideas in this one to be honest.

Witch Class
Todd D, 6 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
This witch is more like a warlock, but that is what it is advertised as.  These witches appear to be manipulators of Fate.  These witches also use Wisdom as their spell casting ability.  Instead of pacts or traditions this witch has "Heritages"; the Traditionalist, the Blighted, and the Clarivoyant.  Each one gives the witch some different sorts of powers.  Ends with a spell list.
At six pages it seems a bit thin, but does exactly what it said it was going to do.

The Shaman - A New Take
From A Point of Inspiration, 8 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
Not exactly a witch, but close. This class has spellcasting foci, like a fetish or idol, which gives it a nice feel.  Wisdom is the spellcasting ability.  This class also has some spirit based powers that are interesting.  The relationship here is similar to the cleric and druid is similar to the Sorcerer-Wizard-Warlock one.  I think I would have liked to have seen this class use something more like the Warlock style spellcasting to be honest, but what is here works fine.  It is a good class, but I am left wanting more.

Spells of the Unapproachable East
From Polaron Posadas, 12 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
This collects various spells that have appeared in some Forgotten Realms books in previous editions focusing on the lands of Thay, Aglarond, Rashemen, Thesk and the Great Dale.  If these names do not mean anything to you, don't worry, I only am vaguely aware of them myself.  The point here is that there are a lot of "new" spells for you.   The spells comprise the last 8 pages.  Some are familiar enough to me just because I have been playing for 36+ years, but some are new to me.  Twelve pages for a buck (or less) is not a bad deal really.

Glamour Mage Class
From Phoenix Bryant, 12 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
This one is nice since it comes in both screen and print ready versions.  While not exactly a witch, it covers a lot of the same ground.  Spellcasting is like a warlocks and a emphasis is given on glamour and flashy spells.   There is actually quite an interesting and unique class here and one I'd like to try playing.  Maybe an NPC would work well.

New Warlock Invocations
From Mad Le Fou, 8 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
Four pages of new Warlock invocations and two pages of a new Fighter archtype, the Hexblade. The Hexblade obviously gets some ability from the Pact of the Blade Warlock, but some martial ability as well.  The artist is not listed, but I found his work here: http://rodimus25.deviantart.com/art/Fantasy-Warlock-174156589

Pacts & Patrons (and eldritch invocations!)
From Pilleri Federico, 12 pages, $1.50
Two new pacts and five new patrons for warlocks.  The art and layout is nice.  The Aegis Pact is similar to Pact of the Blade.  The Pact of Concoctions makes the warlock into a brewer of potions.  The patrons are for me the more interesting part of the book.  These include The Archmage, The Ascendent (almost a god), Fate, Mother Nature and the Phoenix.  Each comes with some flaws and an expanded spell list.  The last couple of pages are devoted to new invocations.

Druid Circle - Circle of the Eremite
From Nathan England, 3 pages, PWYW (paid $0.50)
Potion brewing druids. Comes with printer friendly and screen versions.  This class has a Hedge Wtich feel about it to be honest. A bunch of new potions are listed at the end.
Not a bad idea, but feels a little off to me somehow. I have not put my finger on it to be honest.

3 Archetypes #04 - Druid
From Diego Bastet, 4 pages, $1.00
What is says on the tin. Three new Druid circles including a Circle of Witchcraft.  Interesting ideas, but not entirely sure it works for me. The Circle of Rebirth and Circle of Seasons are more interesting and come a little closer to what is expected from a druid.

Archetypes for D&D
From Donald Stelling, 7 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
Five new archetypes including a witch (sorcerer) and the witch hunter (any).  The witch gets some new spells (from other classes) and four new powers. If I were to use this with other witch classes I might call it a Witch-kin or a Witch-blooded.

The Dungeon Master's Handbook II
From Andrew Cawood,  94 pages, $4.99
The largest book downloaded from the DM's Guild so far.  Lots of lists of monsters and encounters, most of which I have no need for. Sadly that accounts for about 40 some pages.  There are about 30 pages of monster stats with minimal descriptions and no art.  If you are running Curse of Strahd I see that there is some use in this.

Wizard Tradition: The Witch
From Devlinus Productions, 7 pages, PWYW (paid $1.00)
This presents three witchcraft Wizard traditions: White, Black, and Gray and two Patron: the Fiend and the Earth Mother.  This one is more in-line with other TSR/WotC versions of the Witch, esp the 2nd and 4th editions where the witch was akin to the Wizard.   The author even states that the 2nd ed Witch kit was one of his favorites and I can see that here. The Patrons and the traditions offer mostly role-playing favor to the witch, but that is fine.  The witch gains ritual casting abilities and boons.  The odd thing about this one are the minimum ability scores required.  I don't recall any D&D class having minimum ability scores required in 5e.  There are some good ideas and certainly a witch I would like to try playing.

I think I will do something I did for Necromancers in 3.x and later witch-like classes in 4e. I'll print these all out, but them in a binder and make a character using each class.  It would be a lot of fun. Well...fun for me anyway.

I can even throw in this one from the DnD-5e-Homebrew Tumblr.
http://dnd-5e-homebrew.tumblr.com/post/138019533480/witch-class-by-zarieth


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Getting ready to start running the Giants series next week!




Since I am going to be running this under 5e I made some conversion notes and print outs to help me along.




Not to mention some great user supported material online from various sources including WotC.






It's all coming together rather nicely I have to say.

I put these all together in a binder and opted to print one side per page so I could right notes on the other blank side.   It is nice to have over 36 years of material created for these adventures to help me along today and make the experience one I know my players will enjoy.  Can't wait to get into to this!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: D&D 5e Homebrew Tumblr

Typically I don't pay much attention to Tumblr. But this is something that has popped up a few times on my feed that is too cool to ignore.

The D&D 5e Homebrew Tumblr page has a ton of really nice material for a D&D 5 game.  Including a lot of monsters.


The pages are well done and there is a lot of material here.
Including some new dragons:


http://dnd-5e-homebrew.tumblr.com/post/147797832343/how-to-train-your-dragons-nightfury-by


Princess Mononoke/San

http://dnd-5e-homebrew.tumblr.com/post/144553345402/spirit-of-the-wolf-by-jonoman3000


It's fun blog and worth your time if you play D&D5 at all.


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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's A Great Time to be a Geek!

If I could send one page of my blog back in time to my younger self, it would be one where I list the dates all the major tech companies had their IPO...but  the second page I would send would be this one.  Two DC movies, four DC TV shows (more if you count Lucifer, Gotham, I Zombie and Preacher), Doctor Strange and a new Blair Witch movie.  Was Comic Con going on or something? ;)

Here are all the goodies...tip o' the hat to Tim Knight at Hero Press for most of these.




This is so good! And Etta Candy!



Aquaman looks like a bad-ass, plus a double dose of Wonder Woman?  Yes please!





Flashpoint!



Justice Society!



Not a fan of the ship design, but if it is pre-Kirk then I can live with it.


Been waiting for this one for YEARS!




Not to mention great things already out like Stranger Things, Star Trek and the new Ghostbusters.

Friday, July 22, 2016

End of July! (Sorta)

Almost.

The ENnie Voting is done.  Thanks to everyone that voted for me.

RPGNow has their Christmas in July Sale going on now and for the next week.  Check that out.
On sale, in particular, is my Sisters of the Aquarian Order for White Star (which is also on sale).


Today is also my 21st wedding anniversary.  So I'll be celebrating that today with the one thing we have done since 1987...going to see a Star Trek movie!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Class Stuggles: The Thaumaturge

I am a sucker for new classes, especially magic-using classes. So I was very pleased to hear that +Matthew Skail was releasing a new class designed to replace the magic-user in OSR games.
The Thaumaturge is a 20-level spell casting class in 10 pages for any OSR-like game.

The main feature of the titular class is their non-Vancian spell casting system.  Now  I will admit that I am a fan of Vancian magic. It is part and parcel of playing D&D in my mind.  That being said I have experimented with a number of non-Vancian and spell-point enabled systems over the years.   But I keep coming back to Vancian magic.   The Thaumatuge is a well thought out class though and the system has merit.  There is a bit of 3.0 in this class' DNA, namely extensive use of the ability modifiers, but not so much as to drive away die hard Grognards.

The class is well written and could easily be dropped into any OSR game.  In fact I think such things should be encouraged; different lands should have different types of magics.

The main feature of this class though is not just the spell-point system, but rather a system that gives the magic-user the means to do some dice-rolling just like the melee types.  Having seen this more in 4th and 5th edition for arcane types, this is not something to be underestimated.  People love to roll the dice to see if they hit or, in this case, a spell's success.   There is even something in this that I normally call a "repeated casting modifier" (called Overcasting here).  The idea of the "Mastered Spell" is also a nice one.   Again, nothing we all have not seen elsewhere, but still nice to have in one place.

Since this is designed to replace the standard Magic-User it still uses Intelligence as the primary ability.  I think though a strong case could be made to replace that with Charisma and make it a unique class.  They can use the same spells as the Magic-user does, much like how the magic-user and elf can in Basic, or the Wizard and Sorcerer in 3rd edition.

There are also a couple of new spells and some new magic items.  All for less money than a 20oz bottle of soda and a bag of chips.

There are some formatting issues with the document.  Page numbers would also be nice and I'd put in a manual page break over Optional Rules.

Thoughts on Expansion
While reading this I could not help but think that is actually two classes.  First, there is the stated design goal, an augmentation of the magic-user class.  But there is also a completely new class here as well.  We can call them the Thaumaturgic Wizard and the Thaumaturge respectively.  Now on paper there is no real difference here, but the concept opens up new possibilities.
The Thaumaturgic Wizard implies there can be Thaumaturgic Clerics, Thaumaturgic Illusionists or even a Thaumaturgic Witch.
The Thaumaturge, however, is a different sort of caster.  To go with the dictionary definition of Thaumaturgy you would almost need to add a little bit of clerical power to them without necissarily invoking some diety.  Or at least a couple of the cleric's spells.   Again, I'd base his spellcasting ability on Charisma at this point and make him something like a counterpoint to the witch.

This class as written would also gain some benefit from some of the ritual casting as presented in +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos.  If you use spell points then places of power is a nice logical extension.

I have to say there is a lot of ideas here, certainly more than it's page count suggests.

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