Thursday, August 27, 2009

D&D Overload

I am sitting in my game room now, looking at my shelves. I have D&D. And by that I mean I have EVERY D&D ruleset there is. Original, Basic (3 different boxes claiming to be “Basic D&D” and none of them are very compatible with the others), Advanced, Editions 1, 2, 3, and 4. Not to mention OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, S&W, Spellcraft & Swordplay, Hackmaster, Castles & Crusades and now I am adding Pathfinder to my crowded “D&D” shelves, and this not even counting what is on my hard drive.

It has gotten insane. I NEVER need to buy another “D&D” product again. Yet I know I will.

But it has gotten so chaotic and even psychotic. If I look at the products released only in the last year on my shelf I can play 5 (maybe even up to 7) different versions of the “Largest Selling Role Playing Game” of all time. And that is not even cracking my books from back in the day. I have at least 15 different ways to play “D&D” and I am sure I have forgotten one or two.

I think I either need to choose one version of the game and stick with that (but which one) or design a simple, streamlined version of the game that fits my needs that includes elements I like from all the other versions. While that idea has merit and appeal to me, it is an awful lot of work. Plus the game has changed so much over the years that some concepts I liked in one version have no place in another.

I think I would start with fewer classes. Like in 2e, go with Priest, Rogue, Magic-User and Warrior. Then break it down into tiers like 4e. So 1 to 10 you can have 2e-like kits to allow role playing. A magic-user then takes a kit to be a wizard, warlock, illusionist and so on. Levels 11 to 20 are prestige classes (including prestige versions of core classes), Levels 21 to 30 are epic level. Use 3e as a base (I like the idea of feats), give the classes powers at each level (like Pathfinder), but start them out at a higher level. That is a Level 1 character in this version is more like a 5th level character in D&D3. In a way it is like using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and just starting everyone on 5th level. Use 4e’s skill system or use more of an “ability” check system like from 0.
But that is all surface stuff. That doesn’t tell me anything about how to redo monsters, deal with magic or the numerous other rules that are effected (Pathfinder is 575+ pages of rules. And it is not complete!)

Well maybe we can see 5th Edition work out some of these issues, or just adds to them. Or I can just stick to playing Ghosts of Albion. ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New RPG Groups on Facebook

For the fans of Victorian era role-playing games I have made two new Facebook groups.

The Victorian Gamers Association is very new and is for any game set in the Victorian Era or is at least Victorian in feel and tone. So games would in include Cthulhu by Gaslight, Victorian Age Vampire, Ghosts of Albion, Ravenloft: the Masque of Red Death, Victoriana, Rippers as well as Forgotten Futures, For Faerie, Queen and Country for the Amazing Engine and Space: 1899.

Please come by and visit.

More dedicated is The Ghosts of Albion group. It is dedicated to the Ghosts of Albion RPG as well as all the animations and novels.

Plus I feel I should mention two groups of games I am a fan of, Spellcraft & Swordplay and Witch Girls Adventures. Fan them as well!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bodhmall, the Druidess, er.. Nature Priestess

Regular readers know of my search in 4e for the best Druid class. I have been largely disappointed with the class we got in Player’s Handbook 2 and instead have expressed my fondness for the Nature Priest in Ari Marmell’s Advanced Player’s Guide from Expeditious Retreat Press.
Well now I have the Wokan from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor 4e.

A bit of background on the Wokan, the Wokani made their appearance in Mystara many years back. They were basically the witches or even witch-doctors of the world. In fact many publications set in Mystara (the Glantri books are a good example) have “witch” in older versions and “wokani” in newer versions of the same copy-pasted text. So I figured they were a good place to look too.

Now for Bodhmall nic Tadg.
Bodhmall (“Bode-vull”) is a character of mine, she is described in Irish myth as the sister of Muirne the White Neck (or sometimes Cumhail) and the foster mother of Fionn mac Cumhail. She is a wise woman and a druidess. In my games I deal with a younger Bodhmall. She is a druidess still, with a penchant for fire and weather based magic. Not quite an elementalist, but close. She also, along with Liath Luchara, form one of the enduring covens of witches in my games, the Daughters of the Flame. The Daughters appear time and time again in all my games, and I usually have Bodhmall and Liath, or their reincarnations, in my games somewhere.

For this experiment I built many different versions of Bodhmall to 12th level. This gave a wide choice in powers and a Paragon Path. Lets go to the data.

First up is the Druid from D&D Player’s Handbook 2
Short: Hate it. I am sure there are plenty of people that like it, but I never used the druid wild shape ability and this is all the stuff I didn’t like in 1st Ed Druids turned all the way up. There are some nice powers sure, but not enough to merit taking the class.

Secondly, using the Hybrid rules for Dragon/DDiThis build is a hybrid Druid/Shaman. Aw now there are more choices, but not enough fire based powers. Sure I could add Warlock into that mix, and given my success with warlock hybrids that is not a bad idea, but it isn’t what I want. Still though a hybrid fey-lock/druid might have some potential and take the Alchemy feat from Arcane Power. Druids can be ritual casters, but druids did not read, that was the deal with being a druid all this knowledge committed to memory.

Though the Keeper of the Hidden Flame is so close in concept to a Guardian from the Daughters of the Flame that I almost can’t pass it up.

Third, The Nature Priest from Advanced Player’s GuideGenerally speaking this class is weaker than the druid. The powers are about the same in terms of effects and damage done. But concept wise it is such a better fit that it is unreal. Lots of Fire-based powers, lots weather based ones. Going through and build Bodhmall to 12th level was so easy that I figured I had time to do this Blog post about it.
The cons here though are there is not a wide variety of powers to choose from, but the powers they do have a re very nice.

For a Paragon path I choose the Hierophant. Not as close as the Keeper of the Hidden Flame, but good enough and it is more “druidy” feeling.

Fourth, the Wokan from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor 4eThe Wokan is not a perfect either. To pull out something from the half remembered Miller’s Analogies Test, Druids are to Nature Priests as Shamans are Wokans. I think that is what they are supposed to be too. The powers are nice, a little more powerful than the Druid in some ways. Quite a few powers that would make good Fey-lock powers. A Hybrid Wokan/Warlock (“Worlockan”?) might be interesting to see one day.

I did not pick a Paragon path for this one since I could tell right away it was not going to give me what I wanted.

The Winner?
There is a clear winner here. The Nature Priest is exactly what I want in a druid with all the extras that everyone seems to like. Not sure if the Nature Priest could be considered another build of Druid or not. They are so similar in some ways and so different in others; like comparing Warlocks to Sorcerers.

Though I am ready to chuck the druid from 4e and use the Nature Priest instead.

Dracula, use or not?

So, I have an adventure idea that is just jelling and it might be my next Gen Con adventure.

But here is my question to you all.

Is Dracula too overused to be a credible threat anymore?

I want to use him in a Ghosts of Albion game, set in Transylvania around 1850 or so. So sometime before he meets up with Harker and the events of "Dracula".

It could be that this encounter is what has prompted his move to England.

Looking for input.


Monday, August 17, 2009


Gen Con was great.

But I only picked up ONE book my entire time there, the new 4e Blackmoor book.
Reading it back in my hotel room I was overwhelmed with the feeling I was reading a new version of the D&D Rules Compendium.

There are a lot things in this book that are familiar to me. Wokan(i), Arcane Warrior, Nobles. The races are standard 4e, and even explains how to work in some of the newer ones.

But what I like is now I have another piece of my puzzle. I am placing Blackmoor on my North Pole, past the land of Black Ice (Greyhawk). Blackmoor sits inside a crater carved out the north pole where the former Blackmoor had once stood. This explosion created a crater (in Mystara this would have blown a hole in the planet, making it hollow) and the refugees settled here. Blackmoor then becomes something like Shangri-la and Atalntis. There are people there, shut off from the world, maybe even thinking the rest of the world had been destroyed.

Some survivors of the great Blackmoor explosion went south and settled in the lands that later became the "Known World" that is why these lands know about Blackmoor, use similar names for things and why so many different cultures have settled in such a small area.

My Blackmoor is only about 500 miles across and about 250,000 square miles of area, so about the size of France. Geothermal activity keeps the area warmer than would be expected, and the high mountains keep the area remote.

Though it doesn't *exactly* fit with my plans for my world, I might keep the Dragonborn there as well. They are a different sub-species as my Dragon-isle ones. These would be more "human" for lack of a better word.

More after I read the book some more.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good Night Gen Con!!

And there is another Gen Con come and gone.
Ran some "Ghosts of Albion" games and they went great! If I can I'll be posting them here for you all to download and play at home!

Got to play in some games too. D&D4e, Victoriana. Wanted to get into a Bounty Head Bebop game, but timing didn't allow it.

I have some ideas for some new adventures for next year.
"GoA: Wilderness", based on a comic by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden.
"GoA: Synchronicity", a Buffy / Ghost of Albion crossover.
"GoA: Victoriana", a Ghosts of Albion / Victoriana dual stated adventure.
and one that sounds great to do on paper, but maybe not for a Gen Con game, "Ghosts of Albion: Ravenloft".

I did not buy a bunch of stuff this time around. I picked up an Elmore print for my game room, and Dave Arneson's Blackmoor 4e. Some dice to give out during Ghosts, and Pokemon cards for the boys.

The long drive is tomorrow.

Work is on Monday. Not looking forward to all the email that has backed up while I was gone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory, Witch Girls Adventures

Now here is something to get us through Gen Con. The Witch Girls Adventures version of Elizabeth Bathory. I can see a mini-series of adventures featuring Bathory here at the Willow-Mistt school. First with her take-over and the cast slow finding out she is not just named after the sadistic vampire, but is in fact her all the way to the final battle.

I like her numbers here but would need to playtest them to be sure.

Elizabeth Bathory
Witch Girls Adventures
Rank: 5 (or 6 depending on how the cast finds her)
Age: 449 (looks either in her late 20s or 449)
Motivation: To stay young and beautiful forever.

Body: d10
Mind: d12
Senses: d8
Will: d10
Social: d8 +1
Magic: d12

Life Points: 20
Reflex: 13
Resist Magic: 15
Zap Points: 24

Skills (Rank)
Acting d8 +7
Athletics d10
Art d12
Basics d12
Casting d12 +4
Focus d10 +6
Fib d8 + 11
Fighting d10 +2
Hear d8 +1
Instrument d8 +6
Leader d8 +9
Look d8 +4
Magical Etiquette
Mundane Etiquette d8 +7
Mysticism d12 + 4
Mythology d12 + 4
Potions d12 +2
Scare d8 +6

Beautiful* (only when fed. If not then Hags Syndrome)

Alteration 1
Divination 2
Illusion 3
Mentalism 2
Necromancy 2
Offense 1
Protection 2

Signature Spell: Glamour

Common Vampire abilities
Magic Immunity: Bathory is immune to Mentalism and Necromancy type magic.
Shape Shift: Bathory can become a paragon raven or paragon wolf at will.
Special Immortality: Bathory can only die if she is forced to see herself in her “hag” state.

AttacksBite: 10 damage and drains a person of all Life and Zap points. Bathory only feeds on young witches.
Claws: 6

Plot HookElizabeth manages to get on the Board of Directors of the Willow-Mistt School. Through manipulation, magic and outright threats she manages to get Amora Mistt removed as Headmistress and herself put in her place.
Bathory then starts recruiting the best and brightest senior girls to her side, to help ease the transition, to have lackeys in the school and of course when her plans comes, to have these girls nearby so she can drain them of their life-force. She will have also vamped one of the teachers to her side, some she will be grooming as her Scion (I am thinking Connie Li, but certainly NOT Ursula Scratch, too cliché).

Once the big dance comes on Walpurgis Night, Bathory will have worked out a ritual to drain every girl in the School of their magic, blood and life.

That is of course, unless the Stars can do something about it.

The teachers can’t help since going after Elizabeth violates some magical contract they have all signed and she has manipulated to her advantage (something like teacher cannot threaten the school and since she is Headmistress and on the Board and maybe tapped into the energies of the school, she *is* the school). The senior class are all her thralls now (they will willing drain their dates for their mistress at the dance). I would have to say she had Tandy arrested for something, she looks like she is too clever to fall for Bathory’s magic. Ebony would have to be magicked somehow. Leaving Ursula and the Krofts left to help the kids. I like the idea of Ursula having to team up with Susan and Derrick.
Or just do what I did when I originally ran this, make is a inter-term like J-Term (a term in the Winter during break where students can take an extra class for more credit) or Summer Term. I like Summer better, then the dance becomes the Mid-Summer's Ball (figure a 4 week term May 21 to June 22/July 1). Most of the faculty will be away; of course only to show up at the final battle against Bathory’s vampire minions with a very pissed of Amora in the lead. Of course the Stars will need to stop (the rapidly aging) Bathory themselves.
In the grand tradition of horror movies, anime and TV shows, I might need a few red shirt teachers and students to go down in the battle. I am not one to kill characters randomly or even to make a point, but in this case it might be needed.

Elizabeth Bathory in Witch GirlsElizabeth began her life as a young woman as an apprentice witch. She enjoys the power she gains from magic, but has never had the frame of mind to complete her studies much beyond the beginning phases.
She hates the formal training witches receive (part of her reasons to attack the school) but loves that some many potential victims are under one roof.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory, Chill

Going back to my roots here for a bit. Elizabeth Bathory was one of my favorite evil characters in the old Mayfair Chill game. This was the game that convinced me (long before we ever saw Ravenloft for AD&D) that vampires need to played as characters and not monsters. Of course this is the defacto way of doing things now, but back then this was a new and powerful insight. Despite the fact that in the book Bathroy looked like Susan Lucci (and still not a bad choice), my earliest opinions on what Elizabeth Bathory acts like as a vampire come from the 1971 movie Les lèvres rouges, known here in the States as "Daughters of Darkness" (not to be confused with the movie Vampyres, which also had been called Daughters of Darkness).

Delphine Seyrig really helped form the idea of vampire Bathory as a timeless aristocrat so convinced that what she was doing was right that there is no sign of psychosis at all. She was a royal and therefore all others exist to serve her. After all, she had been locked away and cheated death. Of course the memory of her imprisonment still haunted her, so she became more cautious and more selective. And that is how she was formed for me in Chill. These stats differ from her published ones but they fit better with the Unisystem ones from before. Elizabeth Bathory, Chill (these are my combined 1st and 2nd Ed version of Chill stats) BASIC ABILITIES Strength 90 Perception 100 Dexterity 80 Willpower 110 Agility 90 Luck/EWS 150 Personality 120 Stamina 120 Attack 2/90% Movement 75’ (225' as Raven or Wolf) EDGES & DRAWBACKS (2nd Ed) Name /CIPs/ Notes Attractive /4/ Psychological flaw /1/ Obsessions (stay young, stay beautiful) SKILLS Name (Rank) Score Dagger/Knife (M) 145 Acting/Drama (M) 165 Anthropology/ Archaeology (M) 160 Antiques (M) 130 Art Criticism (M) 160 History (M) 160 Hypnotism (M) 165 Investigation (M) 142 Language, Contemporary [all European languages] (M) 160 Language, Ancient (M) 150 Legend Lore (M) 160 Modeling (M) 142 Disguise(M) 155 Filching(M) 145 Graphology/Forgery (M) 145 Occult Lore (M) 116 Ritual Magic (M) 116 Movement: Varies according to form: in human form, can sprint without Stamina loss; can move 75' per round as mist or fog, 225' as raven or wolf. Disciplines: Animation of the Dead, Appear Dead (Self), Change Self (to large raven, large wolf, woman of any race, cloud of fog), Create a Feast, Darken, Dreamsend, Evil Eye, Flight*, Gnarl, Halt, Haywire, Influence, Purified Shell, Quiet, Slam, Sleep, Steal Memory, Summon, Swarm, Telekinesis, Teleport, Total Illusion, Wave of Fog, White Heat. *Bathory can use Flight any time, day or night, except for one hour after sunrise and one hour after sunset. To fly, she assumes the form of a cloud of sparkling lights that dance in the air, then materializes when the flight ends. She cannot be destroyed while in this dancing light form. IPs: 7200 Characteristics 1. Like other vampires from this region Bathory casts no reflection. Nor does her image appear on film or video tape. All paintings of Bathory have mysteriously disappeared. The quickest way to anger her is to take her photograph. 2. Daylight does not harm or affect Bathory; however, she cannot use the Evil Way for one hour immediately following sunrise, and one hour immediately following sunset. She is still not comfortable however moving about during the day. 3. Bathory can control people who are reduced to 5 or fewer Stamina points by her bite. The extent of this control equals a "C" result under the discipline Influence. 4. Bathory must rest once her Stamina or Willpower goes below 10. When she rests she appears dead. This rest need not take place inside a coffin: a crypt, the inside of a mausoleum, or any place of the dead will do. Twelve hours of uninterrupted rest restore all lost Willpower and stamina. If Bathory is disturbed before the 12 hours have passed, her Stamina and Willpower remain where they were when she began resting; she must start allover again and rest for an entire 12 hours in order to recuperate Willpower and Stamina. 5. The following items offer protection against Bathory: -A Patriarchal Cross (but no other type of cross or crucifix). This item is the holy symbol of the Greek Orthodox Church. Upon seeing this item, Bathory cowers and leaves the room or area in any manner available. Bathory cannot approach within 2-1/2' of the Patriarchal cross. A Patriarchal cross hung above the doorway to a room prevents her from entering or leaving by that doorway. -Garlic. The odor of a bulb of garlic within 2-1/2 feet causes Bathory to leave the room or immediate area. She will use the Evil Way (particularly the discipline Influence ) or her Hypnosis skill to make a subject remove the garlic. -Salt. Bathory cannot touch table salt nor cross directly over a line of table salt. However, as with garlic, she uses skills and Evil Way disciplines in order to make a subject remove the salt. Direct contact with table salt causes an automatic critical wound to Bathory with full damage results (including Stamina loss). -A Wild Rose. This flower has the same effect as garlic. It also immobilizes the Countess when placed upon her. If so immobilized, she can still use the Evil Way, except for any discipline that moves the rose or her own body. -Mountain Ash. When placed upon the Countess, this leaf has the same effect as a wild rose. 6. Bathory must drink the blood of three young (younger than 25 years old) female victims per the New Moon, or her Personality score drops by 50 points for one week. She will appear to have aged 10 years from her usual appearance (that of a beautiful 25 year old woman). For one entire week, she will appear to be a 35 year old woman. If for some reason, she cannot claim three victims from the time she appears as a 35 year old woman, she ages another 10 years and loses another 50 points from her Personality score. If she fails to claim three victims on the fourth successive week, she is destroyed forever. The victims of Elizabeth Bathory do not become vampires when they die, but remain dead after their Stamina falls to zero. The blood of a man does not fulfill Bathory's needs, so rather than perform her vampire attack on male victims, she attacks them with her skills and Evil Way disciplines. Often, she has been known to turn one male against another. 7. When draining blood from the body of her victim, Bathory drains 1d10 points of Stamina per minute. The blood drain lasts for 1d10 minutes. 8. There are several ways to destroy Bathory .If she sustains enough wound damage from table salt, she eventually dies. A wooden stake driven through her heart leaves her completely helpless for one minute. Then, she uses her Evil Way disciplines to change into sparkling lights and escape. Once the stake is driven through Bathory , her body should be set on fire immediately. Bathory's body is highly flammable in this state, catching fire and burning completely in 3 rounds, leaving no trace of its existence. 9. Bathory does not suffer wounds or Stamina loss from normal weapons. I did not see "Countess Dracula" till much later on. While it is a fun little flick in it's own right, I did gain anything new gaming-wise from it. Though a back to back Bathory film-fest might work out well one Halloween eve. Or maybe the weekend of August 21, when the Countess dashed off her mortal coil. Each of these three builds gives me something different. The Unisystem one is best at representing the fiendish side, the bloodthirsty sadist. The Mutants & Masterminds works better for me in terms of the power hungry vampire. And this Chill version is the best at figuring out how to convert a real life psychopath into an calm, cool, undead psychopath. Next up. Something that all three versions have contributed to, Elizabeth Bathory, Headmistress.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory, Mutants & Masterminds

Here is Elizabeth for Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition.

It was playing M&M that I got the idea for her to be the new head mistress at a school of magical/gifted/special children. She would live of of their blood to make herself immortal. She would have taken over on Mid-winters night and had until Walpurgis Night (April 30) to get all of her required souls. Of course that is the night of the big school dance.

I plan to expand it for Witch Girls Adventures. Instead of a huge (and literal) bloodbath, I might take a page from the WitchCraft RPG and have her drain Essence instead; which to a witch is more precious than blood anyway.

Erzsébet Báthory
Mutants and Masterminds d20

PL: 12 (185 pp)

Str: 22 (+6) Dex: 20 (+5) Con:NA Int: 20 (+5) Wis: 16 (+3) Chr: 16 (+3)

Skills: Acrobatics 4 (+9), Bluff 8 (+11), Climb 2 (+8) , Concentration 2 (+5), Diplomacy 10 (+13), Disguise 6 (+9), Drive 2 (+7), Escape Artist 2 (+7), Gather Info 4 (+7), Handle Animal 2 (+5), Intimidate 8 (+11), Investigate 2 (+7), Arcane Lore 4 (+9), History 7 (+12), Art 6 (+11), Theology and Philosophy 6 (+11), Streetwise 3 (+8) , Medicine 1 (+4), Notice 6 (+9), Keyboards 3 (+6), Acting 4 (+7), Ride 4 (+9), Search 6 (+11), Sense Motive 8 (+11), Sleight of Hand 1 (+6), Stealth 4 (+9), Survival 6 (+9), Swim (+6)

Feats: Animal Empathy, Assessment, Contacts, Fascinate (2), Fearless, Fearsome Presence (1) , Inspire (1), Leadership, Minions (1), Rage (1), Skill Mastery (1)

Powers: Animal Control (wolves, rats, ravens) (8) , Drain Constitution (blood Drain) (1), Immunity (Fortitude Effects) (30), Insubstantial (dancing lights) (1), Protection (7), Regeneration (source: blood drain) (5), Shapeshift (Wolf, Raven) (2), Magic [- Emotional Control (2), Mind Shield (4)] (4+1)

Combat: Melee 10 [Unarmed +6 (Bruise)] Ranged 10 [Unarmed +6 (Bruise)] Defense 19 (14 flatfooted) Init +5

Saves: Toughness 7 (7 flat-footed) Fortitude NA Reflex 8 Will 7

Drawbacks: Weakness -Blood Dependence [Freq DC 10] [Sev DC 5], Weakness -Holy Items [Freq DC 10] [Sev DC 10] , Weakness -Sunlight [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 15], Weakness -Garlic, Salt, Wild Rose [Freq DC 5] [Sev DC 5]

Complications: Obsessions: Stay young and beautiful. Temper.
Roleplaying Complications: Erzsébet Báthory is a proud and vain woman, she will always use some form of her real name.

Breakdown: Abilities 34 + Skills 32 (128 ranks) + Feats 12 + Powers 75 + Combat 38 + Saves 7 – Drawbacks -13 = 185

Friday, August 7, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory, Unisystem

Here is my write-up for Bathory for C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG. This version focuses more on her sadistic need to cause pain (to release Essence) than some other versions.

I am pretty pleased with this version of her and it helped shape my Mutants and Masterminds and Witch Girls Adventures versions.
She is not a physical powerhouse, but she more than makes up for it with her metaphysics and she is no slouch. Typically she will have minions to help her out in more physical realm and she will have one or two special humans she has enthralled to help her out during the day.

Elizabeth Bathory
Unisystem (Classic)
Character type: Vampyre

Strength: 5
Dexterity: 6
Constitution: 6
Intelligence: 4
Perception: 5
Willpower: 5

Life Points: 63
Endurance Points: 0
Speed: 24
Essence Pool: 114

Vampyre 1 15
- Sades Curse
- Bloodthirst
Age 4
Attractiveness 4
Charisma 2
Hard to Kill 3
Increased Essence Pool 7
Nerves of Steel 1
Resources 5

Covetous - Lecherous 2 (despite lurid tales, Erzsbet is not a lesbian, though she does gain sexual satisfaction from torture).
Cruel 3
Mental Problems, Sadism 3
Mental Problems, Sanguinephilia 3
Obsession 3 (stay young and beautiful)

Acting 5
Beautician 1
Dancing (Ballet) 2
Fine Arts (Painting) 5
Play Instrument (Piano/Keyboards) 1
Acrobatics 2
Dodge 4
Hand Weapon (Knife) 2
Unconventional Medicine (Herbal Medicine) 1
Craft (Weaver) 5
Humanities (Art History) 3
(History) 5
(Philosophy) 3
(Christian Theology) 4
Instruction 3
Myth and Legend (Slav) 4
Occult Knowledge 7
Rituals (Vampyre) 4
(Voodoo) 2
Sciences (Biology) 1
Writing (Creative) 2
Intimidation 3
Notice 5
Seduction 7
Smooth Talking 3
Riding (Horses) 5

Greater Shifting 5
Manipulate Emotions 2
Bloodthirst 1
Sade's Curse 1

Alternate Forms
Strength: 2 Dexterity: 7 Constitution: 3
Intelligence: 4 Perception: 5 Willpower: 5
Life Points: 63
Endurance Points: 0
Speed: 20
Essence Pool: 129

WolfStrength: 4 Dexterity: 5 Constitution: 6
Intelligence: 4 Perception: 5 Willpower: 5
Life Points: 63
Endurance Points: 0
Speed: 22
Essence Pool: 129
Natural Attacks: Bite:1D6xStrength (12) Slashing

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Elizabeth Bathory

For the next few days I want to do something different. Given that Friday is the 449th birthday of Elizabeth Bathory the infamous Blood Countess, I figured I'd post her history as I have researched it and stats for a few of my favorite games.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction for my role-playing games.  Please do not consider this page as anything other than that.

(and portrayed in my games by Monica Bellucci)

So Happy Birthday Elizabeth. It is too bad you had to gain your infamy in such a brutal and sadistic way, but isn't that often the case.

Erzsébet Báthory
Countess Báthory Erzsébet, Elizabeth Bathory, Alžbeta Bátoriová, also known as the Blood Countess of Hungary.

She was in life, one of the most notorious serial killers in Hungarian history, with detailed accounts in her own hand of how she killed 610 servant girls.

Birth: August 7, 1560 in Nyírbátor in present-day Hungary
Death: August 21, 1614 in Castle Čachtice (Csejte) in present-day Slovakia (54 years old)

Erzsébet Báthory was descended from a long line of one of Europe's wealthiest noble families. Her family had, in the years before her birth, already began to exhibit signs of mental illness and sexual depravity. Known for their brutal acts of sadism, fiery tempers, and bizarre sexual tastes (incest, satyrism and necrophilia being the most scandalous), the Báthorys provided the young Erzsébet the perfect breeding ground for her own neuroses.
Erzsébet began her lifetime of depravity very early. Erzsébet was a Báthory from both her father and mother's side of the family. It is also claimed that Erzsébet is a descendent by blood (if one can use that term) of Vald the Impaler himself.

Even as a very young woman she was known to be cruel, manipulative and promiscuous. Early on she had been sent to live with an aunt only to be introduced to her aunt's own obsessions with bisexuality and witchcraft. While her aunt was content to being merely cruel and have sexual dalliances with the servant girls, Erzsébet had already graduated to torture. Her aunt did introduce her to the whip and flagellation of the servants. A taste she quickly grew accustomed too.

One tale of Erzsébet's early cruelty deals with her treatment of one of these servant girls. Erzsébet was only 14 but already showing the signs of her adult ways. A servant girl, a milk maid, discovered the young Erzsébet in a stable being pleasured by two young stable hands. The servant told her mistress of the deed. Erzsébet denied the whole affair of course and the girl was whipped. Erzsébet, not having satisfied her taste for revenge planned an ambush for the young girl. Once the servant girl was alone in the stable the two young men from before attacked her and ravaged her while Erzsébet watched in delight. When the milk maid later died from her trauma Erzsébet had the two men castrated and executed.

She was engaged to Count Ferncz Nádasdy at the age of 11. The count came to claim his bride when she was 15. Once married they moved into Csejte Castle situated in the Carpathians in present-day western Slovakia near Trenèín, then part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In addition to Erzsébet's illegitimate daughter (born when Erzsébet was 14, father unknown) Erzsébet had six children with the count, but only four survived to adulthood.

Erzsébet inexplicably abandoned Nádasdy to run off with a "Dark Stranger" sometime during the first years of her marriage. Erzsébet returned to Nádasdy and she was forgiven, but speculation about the identity of this dark stranger would come up much later in her life.

Nádasdy was often away at war with the Turks and Erzsébet was left as lady of the castle. She spent this time learning to read and write in four different languages, and came in contact with more horrific forms of torture. She also began to gather around her a rogues gallery of support. Her former nurse Ilona (Helen) Jó, the witches Katarína Benická, Dorota "Dorko" Sentéšová and Anna Darvulia who taught her more witchcraft, her captain of arms Thorko (with whom she was reported to having an affair) and János "Fickó" Ujváry, a twisted dwarf who also relished in the torture and murder of young girls. At times Erzsébet's "Dark Stranger" would make appearances at her torture sessions.

Her marriage did nothing to quell her sadism. She was known to severely beat any of her servants for even the most minor of infractions. Her husband would partake with her when would make his infrequent visits to their home and he introduced his young bride to even more gruesome forms of torture for their shared amusement. Soon even he was outpaced in cruelty by the young Erzsébet. Nádasdy himself came to an ignoble end, the great hero, the "Black Hungarian" feared by the Turks, was killed by a whore he had refused to pay. After his death all restraint Erzsébet had shown was now gone.

A well know, and often retold, tale of Erzsébet deals with the first servant girl Erzsébet tortured to death. While brushing her mistress' hair a servant girl pulled a little too hard and tugged out several strands of Erzsébet's hair. The Countess struck the girl so hard that blood spurted from her nose onto Erzsébet's skin. The countess rubbed the blood away and felt the skin underneath was younger, more beautiful. She quickly sent for the servant girl, had her stripped naked and drained of all her blood. Erzsébet then bathed in the blood of the dying girl. For the next few years it is claimed the Countess tortured, killed and drained the blood from her victims, all beautiful young girls and women, to fill her literal bloodbath. As many as 610 girls met their fate this way in the dungeons of Castle Čachtice.

As the inventible tide of age grew, Erzsébet went from bathing in the blood of virgins to bathing and drinking the blood of virginal girls of noble birth. It is speculated that the law of the time ignored Erzsébet when she focused on peasant girls (whom she regarded as little more than dogs or worse) and focused on noble birth girls.

Erzsébet kept a diary of every victim she killed in her sexual-sadism. She quickly went through the local crop of peasant girls and moved up through the lower gentry. She had to resort to sending out her henchmen to collect young girls from neighbouring lands. One night after an orgy of blood lust Erzsébet had the corpses of three girls tossed out the window instead of taking care to bury them. This was the last straw for the local townsfolk.

On the morning of December 29, 1610 György Thurzó, the palatine of Hungary, was sent by emperor Matthias II to investigate the complaints. Thurzó and his men invaded Csejte and caught Erzsébet in the act in the Csejte country-house; she was torturing several girls - one of them had only just died. She and four collaborators were charged with sadistic torture, as well as mass murder. Despite the overwhelming evidence found by investigators, Elizabeth herself was not brought to trial.

Except for Katarína, all of Erzsébet's collaborators were executed at Bytèa on January 7, 1611. Katarína's guilt could not be proven, and according to McNally's sources from recorded testimony by all witnesses, she seems to have been dominated and bullied by Dorota Sentéšová and Anna Darvulia. Two of the women had their extremities hacked off before being thrown onto a blazing fire, while Fickó, whose guilt was deemed the lesser, had the mercy of being beheaded before being consigned to the flames. A public scaffold was erected near the castle to show the public that justice had been done.

Erzsébet herself was walled up alive in her castle, kept alive only by food poked through a slit in her door. On August 21, 1614 one of her guards took a peak to see the famed beauty of the countess saw that she was dead.

Erzsébet was burned at the stake after her death and placed in the family crypts. It was then that her dark stranger, none other than her own distant relative, Dracula, returned. Having infused Erzsébet with his own vampiric blood during their initial tryst he called to her to join him in unlife.
Erzsébet remained with Dracula for many years, but they had a disagreement over his "harem". She demanded to be his one and only bride, an equal in his endeavours, he refused and she left. At least that is the story that Dracula scholars tell. It must have been much more than that since there exists a great animosity now between the two noble vampires.

Erzsébet has since travelled throughout Europe, often accompanied by a young woman or man. These thralls are not vampires, but under her control. Erzsébet also has numerous allies that will aid her in dozens of countries.

Every new moon Erzsébet (now using Elizabeth for the most part) must feed on the blood of three virgins or she will begin to age. She appears as a hauntingly beautiful woman in her prime (25-30). However every month she does not feed she appears to age 10 years. This is similar to the aging that Dracula does, but while the Count uses this as a way to keep people from realizing he is a vampire, the Countess is very vain and cannot stand to be anything but perfect.

In life Elizabeth had long black hair. Given the style of the time she died it blonde very often and it sometimes appears to be red. In undeath her hair is black right after feeding but changing quickly to iron grey to white as her month progresses.

Elizabeth has been searching for a permanent solution to her aging problem, one that will allow her to stay forever young. There was a time in 18th century France that she felt she had a solution, draining a virgin girl a day. But even that did not stave off her aging effects. Elizabeth was also known to be in London in the 1840's, Ireland soon after, Russia in the 1900's to 1920, and Germany in up to 1945. It was believed that she was working with the Nazis on their Gegengeistgrüppe, though she had her own motives and plans. She was seen again in her native Hungry during the late 1970's and then she vanished, believed to have been destroyed.

Erzsébet Today - Mid-Semester's Nightmare
Elizabeth was recently spotted in Boston, her first recorded American encounter. Here she worked her way into a position at BLANK* Academy. Of note in this particular class were a large number of Gifted and magic wielding girls. Elizabeth had moved not only to the "blue bloods" of America, but ones that were magical as well. Elizabeth's plan was to drain the blood and magical essence of these young girls in order to achieve her ultimate goal of everlasting immortal beauty.

Notes: I had this idea of her finding a job at a school so she could feed on all the young virgins there. I thought I might go BESM with it, but I started to play M&M and Claremont looked like it fit rather well. I would also love to try this in Witch Girls Adventures, though the tone of that game is much lighter than the plot of a depraved blood fiend feeding on all the magical girls she can get her hands on.

The game, "Mid-Semester's Nightmare", was my "crossover" mini-season where I dual (or tri-) stated most things. Chill, d20, BESM and M&M were all worked in to my normal Unisystem game.

Bathory was my big bad from Chill and I thought that she would be perfect to bring back.

Of course she was defeated at the end of "Mid-Semester's Nightmare", but that is not the first time someone has thought that.


*It was "Claremont Academy" under Mutants & Masterminds, "Eden Girls' Academy" under Unisystem, the "New School" for BESM, and "Boston Academy for Girls" in Chill.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Witch Hunter Robin for Witch Girls Adventures

Here is one that I have wanted to try for a while.

It is Robin Sena, the titular character of the awesome anime series Witch Hunter Robin for the Witch Girls Adventures RPG.
Robin Sena
Witch Sorceress

Body: d4
Mind: d6
Senses: d4
Will: d10
Social: d4
Magic: d12

Life Points: 8
Reflex: 10
Resist Magic: 15
Zap Points: 24

Skills (Rank)
Basics d6 +2
Computers d6 +1
Drive d4 +2 (Vespa, bike)
Science d6 +2
Streetwise d6 +1

Casting d12 + 4
Focus d10 +5
Magical Etiquette d4 +3
Mysticism d6 +3
Spellbreaker d12 +3



Elementalism 2
Mentalism 2
Offense 5 (all fire based)
Protection 3

Signature Spell: Zap (manifests as fire)

Glasses, Vespa Scooter, Messenger Bike
Occupation: Witch Hunter / Witch
Age: 15 (in 2002)
Gender: F
Height: 5'1"
Weight: 105#
Eyes: Green
Hair: Auburn

Mother: Maria, dead
Father: Toudou, dead.
Grandfather(maternal): Juliano Collegrie, priest and high ranking officer of Solomon HQ.
Allies: Amon, Nagira, hunters from STN-J
Enemies: Rogue witches, rival hunters

Ethnicity: European/Japanese
Languages: Japanese, Italian, English

All in all, I like it. I think what WGA now needs are more elemental based powers/spells that manipulate the elements to do different things. That way we can get at something closer to Avatar or W.I.T.C.H. Yes there is an elemental section, but it is not quite what I need at the moment. I'd do a new Elemental magic and rename the old elemental to "Nature Magic" or something.
Here are the stats I did for Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy, Angel and Ghosts of Albion):

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Few Updates

Here are bunch of updates all at once as I am getting ready for Gen Con.

Hybrid Class Playtest and Character Concept IVb

Tried out Bodhmall as a straight Druid out of PHBII. HATED it. Didn't fit her at all. I also tried the shaman by itself, hated that one too. So in this case the hybrid Shaman/Druid is greater than the sum of it's (half) parts. I still will try this with Expeditious Retreat's "Nature Priest", which I think will make a much better fit in terms of her concept. Oddly enough I find myself once a again moving towards a Bard/Warlock or Bard/Sorcerer hybrid to do this. Hmm. Lots of choices really.

The Old School Renaissance Will Eat Itself, Part 2

I was not expecting the amount of discussion this one would bring me. In particular very useful insights from posters D7 and Thasmodious. I am still certain that the biggest hurdle that the OSR faces is not new editions of the game (those are hurdles we should not even try to go over) but rather the in-fighting and exclusionist nature. I am still very interested in what people have to say on this subject, I just don't always expect to agree with what they say.

Quest for the Dragon Part 4

This one is totally new and an update only in the broadest sense. Today my son and I did Part 4 of his great quest in D&D 3.0. His characters (I am letting him run a couple) and his hirelings (a bard to record their deeds and three goblins hired to carry their stuff) were in the deserts today searching for the fourth item they need to be able to summon Tiamat so they may defeat her. Today it was the scale of a green dragon located in a desert. We decided that there are five relics of Tiamat's greatest consorts, but they betrayed her so she killed them all and disperse their bodies amongst her cultists. Each relic was found in a place where that dragon type is never found. So a white dragon claw was found in a volcano range, the blue dragon skull on a tropical island, the green dragon scale in the dessert and a black dragon wing in a dungeon full of undead. He needs a red dragon tooth, found deep in the arctic, to complete the ritual, summon Tiamat and defeat her once and for all. After this he is retiring all of those characters and we will begin a new game where his heroes are the stuff of legends. I give the little guy credit, yeah I normally would not let a player detail the game so much, but this has been a lot of fun.

After this who knows? A retro clone or D&D RC? Maybe 4th Ed? I am sure whatever it will be it will be fun.

Gen Con

Getting ready. Blight is done and ready to go. Obsession has a few more props I need to print out, but looking good! I am running more games this year than ever before and playing in less. I want to stop by and see the guys at Starkweather Studios and check out their Shadow Girls project. I want to stop by and say hi to Jamie Chambers and Malcolm Harris, and hopefully get a game in with all of them. And yes of course, stop by and see the guys at Eden Studios!