Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eldritch Witchery, Back to Basics

I am returning to work on Eldritch Witchery, my guide to witches and warlocks for the Spellcraft & Swordplay RPG. The idea is simple really; make a witch class for the game. But I want to do this class justice and not just do a retread of the material I have written for other games.

So I am going back to school.

I have been rereading old Dragon and White Dwarf magazines from the 70s to the early 80s to get a proper feel for the game as it was then. What were people talking about and doing in their games. I have also been going over my basic assumptions. Why is a witch needed if we already have Clerics and Wizards? What niche does a witch fill in a Sword and Sorcerery game? For this I am indebted to Jason Vey who has been giving me a crash course in all things Pulp related. Conan (whom I never really read and now understand I know next to nothing about), the works of Robert Howard and how they relate to Lovecraft. Plus I have been thinking a lot about my own influences for D&D. Clark Ashton Smith is a big one for me. I have been rereading all my old D&D books and notes. My first witch character was made in October of 1986, I wrote my first set of rules (20 pages) around her.

What has this done for me?

Well I have a pretty good idea what I want to do and how I want to do it and it is different than say my d20 version of the witch, or even the magic I wrote about in Ghosts of Albion. What does a witch do in the world of Spellcraft & Swordplay. Well the witch is more connected to the primal nature of magic. I hesitate to say “beyond good and evil” but maybe before good and evil. She is like nature. I also want to incorporate a lot of what is old folklore and fairy tales about witches. So these are defiantly more Baba Yaga than Sabrina.

What do Witches Do?

In any game you need to figure out where a character’s niche will be. What is it that the character will do, what can she do and what will she bring to the adventuring party. Where does she fit in this world organically. I also want keep in mind the classical or stereotypical powers of the witch; casting spells, making potions, the evil eye, curses, charms, turning people into animals, flying on brooms, consulting with familiar spirits. The witch then for me needs to provide that air of mystery in a world already full of magic and magical-using characters. She needs to have something special about her, I want the other characters in the group to say, “We need her, she is a witch!”

Hopefully players will say the same thing.

Next time, more on the occult powers of the witch class.

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