Friday, April 30, 2010

Willow & Tara: WitchCraft RPG

I thought it would be nice on the Eve of Beltane to discuss my two favorite witches in my favorite witch rpg.

Back in the Spring/Summer of 2001 I started up a new game.  I had just purchased the WitchCraft RPG core about 16 months prior and I was looking for something new.  That something came to me in the guise of Willow and Tara.  I had been watching Buffy for a bit and I really enjoyed the character of Willow.  When she got together with fellow witch Tara I thought they were perfect.  I had become very involved in the online Willow/Tara fandom so I created a game, focusing on just them.

The game would focus on just these two, no one else from the show (which I would soon become an ex-fan of, but that is a different story).  Plus it gave me something to try out in a modern setting, something I have not done since my days with Chill.

The trickiest part of developing game stats of any fictional character that belongs to someone else is knowing how to strike a balance between the game's rules and the fictional pottrayal. A lot of "artisitc" license needs to be used in order to get a good fit. For example, how do you determine what some one's strength is when there is little to no on screen evidence? What spells would the girls have?

In the end I decided to play it a little loose, but I love where these stats ended up.  In many ways this is who Willow and Tara are to me, not the characters on TV or comics, but the ones that were my characters since that day back in May 2001 that I decided they needed their own chance to shine.

After this I went on to work on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  It should be no suprise then that the Willow and Tara stats that appear there are not that much different than my own.  I can be quite vocal in play tests.

Of course the show took a turn into suck, but game remained.  It was converted over to the Buffy system, and then eventually the Ghosts of Albion system.  Willow and Tara are as much a part of Ghosts of Albion as William and Tamara.
This work also allowed me to meet, work with and remain friends with Christopher Golden and Amber Benson.

No too bad for a little game focusing on two girls that happen to be witches and in love with each other.

Since that time I have also tried to convert the girls to a number of systems, each in hope to see how they manifest and how well does that system do to match my style of modern supernatural horror role-playing.  I will detail all that in future posts. Each one advances the girls through the various campaigns / seasons they have gone through.  "The Dragon and the Phoenix", where Tara is returned to life and a central figure in the season long arc in an alternate Season 7.  "Season of the Witch", where Willow, Tara and Tara's father must solve a 25 year old mystery that effects everyone's future and "Generation HEX" where the next generation is raised after the Earth-changing events of SotW.

Until then here are the WitchCraft versions.  These represent the girls while they are still on the show.

Willow Rosenberg
Wicce Seeker of Knowledge/Student

Age: 20 (circa 2000/2001), Ht: 5'3", Hair: Red, Eyes: Green

Attributes: Str 1 Dex 2 Con 2 Int 5 Per 2 Wil 3
Life Points 28
Endurance 23
Speed 8
Essence 20

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (+4), Addiction, Magic (-2), Attractiveness (+1), Covetous (-1, Ambitious), Emotional Dependency (-1), Fear of Rejection (-1), Hard to Kill (+1), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1), Minority, Witch (-1)(though it should be noted that Willow does not view herself as a minority in either case.), Resources (-2, Hurting).

Skills: Computers (4), Computer Hacking (4), Computer Programming (3), Electronics (1), Engineering, Robotics (2), Humanities, Psychology (1), Magic Theory (1), Instruction (1), Medicine, General (1), Occult Knowledge (2), Research (3), Rituals, Wicce (2), Trance (1).

Powers: Flame (3), Farsee (2), Search Person (2)* (4 if that person is Tara), Physical Shield (2), Create Ward (3), Soulfire Blast (3), Float (2), Sending (2), Mindtalk, Strength and Art (3), Mindhands, Strength and Art (2), Mindfire strength (3), art (1), Visual Illusion (2).

Possessions: Laptop, books on magic, spell components, Doll's Eye Crystal focus (adds 1 to Channeling).

Tara Maclay
Wicce Student Gifted
Age: 20 (circa 2000/2001), Ht: 5'5", Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue

Attributes: Str 2 Dex 2 Con 2 Int 3 Per 3 Wil 4
Life Points 28
Endurance 23
Speed 8
Essence 40

Channeling Level: 4

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (+2), Increased Essence Pool (+5), Artistic Talent (3), Cowardly (-1)*, Emotional Dependency (-2), Fear of Rejection (-2), Hard to Kill (+1), Honorable (-2), Minority, Lesbian (-1), Minority, Witch (-1)(though it should be noted that Tara does not view herself as a minority in either case.), Resources (-2, Hurting).

Skills:Cooking (2), Craft, Candle Making (2), Craft, Simple Crafts (2), Humanities, Art History (2), Humanities, Psychology (1), Magic Bolt (3), Magic Theory (3), Myth and Legend, Folk Magic (1), Occult Knowledge (2), Research (3), Rituals, Wicce (2), Singing (2), Survival, Urban (2), Trance (2), Dancing (2)

Powers: Influence Emtional State (1), Blessing of Protection (2), One with the Land (2), Flame (2), Search Person (2)* (4 if that person is Willow), Percieve True Nature (2), Visual Illusion (4), Create Ward (3), Float (2), Sending (1).

Possessions: Books on magic, spell compontents, crystal ball.

*I do want to point out that I don't consider Tara a coward here, it is just she knows she has strengths and picking up an axe and swinging it at a demon is not one of them. (that comes later).

I started each character out with the number of points aloted to starting Gifted characters. Then to figure out how they advanced through Episode 100, The Gift, I gave them 1 point per episode. I thought that it would be a good average to use. I also gave Tara the benefit of the doubt of having more points. She did come in to play until episode 66, Hush, but we know that she has been a witch longer than Willow and may have had some formal training from her mother or grandmother. Plus Tara has been living on her own for much of her adult life.

I used this same logic in playtests and in determining other characters for other Unisystem games.

Everything has a start and mine was right here.

This was the genesis of nearly 10 years of gaming, playtesting and frankly a lot of text generated by myself. In a very real sense my freelancing career began with these two.  My game writing began with other witches, but these two helped me to get published.


Daddy Grognard said...

I've been under Willow's spell for quite some time.

Tim Knight said...

Another cracking article. Always enjoy reading about your campaign(s), Tim. Looking forward to more - it's very inspirational.

Timothy S. Brannan said...


I have enough Willow and Tara stuff in the queue to keep me posting well into 2011.

So if you like this then there is a lot more to come.