Friday, May 31, 2013

QotA: Elvyra Queen of Witches

While re-reading Quest of the Ancients I thought a good way to bring one of the few stated up characters back over to D&D via The Witch.   I also it might make for a nice homage if one of Vince Garcia's signature characters lived on with my rules.  Like I mentioned in my review of Quest of the Ancients it was obvious to me that we had read a lot of the same books, watched a lot of the same TV shows and listened to a lot of the same music to get to our respective witches.

Plus Elvyra has a connection to the Daughters of the Flame/followers of Brigit. So she has a "hook" in both games.

Here she is in both sets of stats, Elvyra (pronounced "EL-veer-uh" according to the book) the Queen of Witches.  In Vince Garcia or anyone with a copyright claim wants me to remove this then of course I will.

Elvyra -- Queen of Witches (25th level witch)
Gypsy Elf Li 57 by =Falln-Stock
Quest of the Ancients stats
Armour rating: 0 (-5)
Tactical move: 10' or as applicable in different form
BAR: 17/10/54
Stamina paints: 70
Body points: 13
Stots: St 12; Ag 20: Con 14; IQ 20; Ch 20: Ap 20: Lk 19
Attack 1
Dmg: 1D4+5 (dagger) or by spell
Ethics: I
Size: 6' tall
Special note: Shape change at will; possesses Artifact of Power-the Scarlet Flame: her symbol is a 4-armed spiral, eagle or hummingbird.

Elvyra appears as a tall elf with flaming red hair, typically attired in blue and white with a red sash but her waist. Upon her head she wears a silver crown over which floats large emerald acting as a device that doubles her 1st-3rd rank spell slots. She thus possesses 40 slots of each of these spell ranks, and 20 slots each of ranks 4th-7th
The flame removed from the temple was later enchanted into her wand focus, creating an Artifact of Power known as the Scarlet Flame. It appears as a wood and silver scepter with a huge ruby set into its tip, containing a burning name within. The wand absorbs all spells directed at the possessor, converting their ranks into potential that regenerates any stat loss, similarly to the Mind Sapphire of Serpen. In addition, the wielder is able to use any fire-based spell at the 35th level of skill at a cost of 1 charge off the wand per spellrank, castable in a single phase.
Elvrya's rarely used melee weapon consists of a BF 5 unicorn horn dagger, which provides the further benefit of making her immune to poison and disease of any sort.
One interesting fact about her relates to her ability to shape change (as per the witch spell) at will. When she remains in a single form, her eyes change color each minute.
The Queen has existed in legend since the dawn of time, and most believe that if she yet lives, she and her followers no longer remain on the Nexus, but instead dwell with their goddess, the Queen of Faerie, within Her enchanted realm. Nevertheless, some have claimed to have encountered the Witch Queen in the midst of isolated sylvan woodlands, and in a rugged area of volcanoes in Naz-Al. It is even been reported that she frequents the Witchwood, a forest in Avalon, but this story is given little credence.
If she is encountered, she will either be accompanied by her familiar, her chief handmaiden or both (20%/30%/50%). Last of all, Elvyra is believed to know lost spells that are vastly more powerful than many used today.

Elvyra - Queen of Witches (25th level witch)
The Witch stats

Strength: 12 Death Ray, Poison 5
Dexterity: 18 Magic Wands 6
Constitution: 14 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 5
Intelligence: 18 Dragon Breath 8
Wisdom: 18 Rods, Staffs, Spells 7
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 55
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 1 (Bracers of Defense)

Occult Powers (Faerie Tradition)
Familiar: White Dragon Tiger
7th level: Speak to Plants/Animals
13th level: Fae Shape
19th level: Curse
25th level: Shape Change

Spells
Cantrips (7): Alarm Ward, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Spark, Warm
First (7): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Command, Faerie Fire, Minor Fighting Prowess, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second (7): Alter Self, Biting Blade, Blast Sheild, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Phantasmal Spirit
Third (6): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Continual Fire, Feral Spirit, Fly, Improved Faerie Fire
Fourth (6): Air Walk, Betwitch IV, Dance Macabre, Neutralize Poison, Spiritual Dagger, Withering Touch
Fifth (5): Anti-Magic Candle, Blade Dance, Dream, Primal Scream, Song of Discord
Sixth (5): Break the Spirit, Control Weather, Find the Path, Moonbow, True Seeing
Seventh (4):  Ball of Sunshine, Breath of the Goddess, Etherealness, Serpent Garden
Eighth (4): Astral Projection, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Wail of the Banshee

In my games Elvyra didn't steal Brigit's Flame, but rescued it.   There is still a long standing cold war between the Queen of Witches and the Daughters of the Flame covens (the Eula want to forgive her, the Brenna want her to pay for what they still feel is the theft of the flame), though both factions of the coven want a better accounting on how she made the wand the Scarlet Flame.


Oh and if you don't have this song going through your head while reading this then you are not as old school as you think you are.

Blogfest: The WIP It Good: EW Cover reveal!

Today is the The WIP It Good Blogfest
http://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-wip-it-good-blogfest.html

We are supposed to talk about our current WIP or Work in Progress.


I am going to be talking about Eldritch Witchery!  AND...my big cover reveal.

Eldritch Witchery is my next book for role-playing Witches.  In this case the game is Spellcraft & Swordplay.  The book will include a Witch AND a Warlock class.

And without further ado here is the new cover!

Lilith by Isra2007
I was able to get this wonderful piece of art of Lilith from Isra2007.
It will be updated in the Spellcraft & Swordplay trade dress, but nothing else will be done to the image.  It is too perfect as is.

Like the Witch, Eldritch Witchery will have new spells, magic items and monsters.  It will have traditions, but all new ones, different from the Witch, so new Occult Powers too.   Warlocks also have Lodges they belong to.  The biggest addition is the inclusion of all the demons and devils to the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.  If you were around for my April A to Z posting then you have an idea what will be included.

The book is done, more or less.  The first part with the witches, spells and magic items is being reedited.  The demons and devils are wrapping up.  I know this one has been delayed, but we are looking for a Halloween or earlier release.

So yes if you have the Witch then there is still plenty of new material here even if you don't play Spellcraft & Swordplay.  It can be played with OD&D as well.

It is a big piece of work. Maybe larger than The Witch.  I hope you all enjoy it.

EDITED TO ADD: Forgot the template.  Been one of those weeks.

WIP Title: Eldritch Witchery
Word Count (projected/actual so far): 150,00 projected 117,588 right now
Genre: RPG
How long have you been working on it?:  Seriously about 2 years. Of on on though for only the first 6 months

Elevator Pitch (if you came across an agent in an elevator ride, what couple of lines would you use to summarize your book):  EW is the follow up to The Witch for the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.

Brief Synopsis (300 words or less):  The witch and warlock classes are detailed along with hundreds of new spells, magic items, monsters and tons of demons and devils.

Are you looking for a Critique Partner?  Not really that kind of book.

Are you looking for a Beta Reader? Same.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quest of the Ancients: The Obscure Fantasy RPGs Appreciation Day

"Look upon this, old-schoolers, and know that this path has been tread before." -  Jeff Grubb

Today is The Obscure Fantasy RPGs Appreciation Day hosted by Mesmerized by Sirens.
http://mesmerizedbysirens.blogspot.com/2013/05/announcing-obscure-fantasy-rpgs.html

oie Umu0 PWl3 Ploq

On this day I want to go back over some ground I have tread before.  Today I want to talk about Vince Garcia's magnum opus Quest of the Ancients.


QotA was the topic of one of my A to Z posts a few years ago. http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/04/q-is-for-quest-of-ancients.html. It seems I was not the only one to use it for Q, Jeff Grubb posted about it the same year and Charlie Warren the year after.   There is surprisingly little information out there about this game.  The Wikipedia article is sparse and the RPGNet database entry only has the basics.  There is very, very little else on the web and the author, Vince Garcia, seems to have no net presence I can find.  Plus there is no legal pdf of it out there. In fact if you search for "Quest of the Ancients"  + "legal PDF" you will only find me asking for it on RPG.Net.  I would also like to find a copy of the 2nd edition print.  It has different (and better) cover art but that is all I know for sure.  I have heard it was never printed and in other places I have heard it is longer by a few pages.  No idea.



So, obscure? Yeah. It has it in droves.
I don't even remember where I learned about it.  I am pretty sure I know how and about when though.
I was finishing up my very first netbook on Witches for AD&D 2nd ed and I wanted to collect all the AD&D  compatible witch classes that were ever made.  My idea was I was going to play test all the classes with the same character (same background and stats) and see how they all played out.  Something I still do to this day. I discovered the Judges Guild Witch Class and was not overly thrilled with it.  Somehow I discovered or was told about Quest of the Ancients. I picked up a copy on eBay and that was that.

Quest of the Ancients can be best described as an AD&D clone, an AD&D add on or as a collection of someone's AD&D house rules.  The author, Vince Garcia, had some publications before QotA came out including some material for AD&D2 and White Wolf magazine.  So he was not new to this. In deed the copyright date on this book lists 1982, so some form of these rules were around at least then.  Likely it was a collection of house rules.  What I noticed though right away was the Witch Class.

Let's be 100% honest here.  Vince Garcia loves the Witch class as much as I do.  Really.  The book is easily 70-75% class material and the class that gets the most attention and the most text is the witch.  Before I get into that let me talk about what the book has.

We start out with the title/author page.  He dedicates the the book to "Miss Stevie Nicks".  Ok. So let me be honest here.  I get this. No, I really do.  That doesn't not make it weird. But I get it.  He also thanks "Angelique".  Yeah, I did the same thing.

The QotA game (and I am unsure if this is intended to be a seperate game or as thinly veiled add-on to AD&D) characters have nine (9) stats.  They are rolled differently depending on the race of the character and sometime the gender.  Nearly everyone has the same mins and maxes (1-20), but the different dice and pluses usually mean different mean, median and modal scores.   The big stat is IQ (Intelligence) since it determines how high level you can go.  The ability adjustments for these abilities are D&D standard (+0 for average up to +3 for 18 and beyond). Our abilities are Strength, Agility, Conditioning, IQ, Charm, Appearance, Luck, Stamina, and Body (which is the average of Strength and Conditioning).
The book covers the standard races (human, elf, dwarf, half-elf, gnome) and some ideas on how to make other races like the ogre or a "furrfoot" (halfing) work.  This bit is not bad advice really and certainly expands on the ideas of races.

Chapter 2 covers the classes.  This is the reason you buy this book.
There are  Fighter classes. These include the Cossack, Gladiator, Knight, Legionnaire, Rouge (not a thief), Saracen, Viking, and Woodsman.  Another group are the Tricksters which are the Assassin, Bard (with some spell-songs), Cutpurse (this is the thief), and Gypsy.  The gypsy is interesting since there is a difference between male and female gypsies.  The males are more like a Bard/Cutpurse/Rogue while the females are more witch-like.  Lastly we have all the  Spellcasters.  Each class is presented and all their spells follow after.  This includes the Druid (different from the AD&D one), Earth Priest, Necromancer, Sorcerer, and Witch.    The Necromancer is more akin to the original idea of a Necromancer, one that speaks to the dead.  He does have plenty of death-related spells.  The Sorcerer is a "do it yourself" sort of spell using class.  No spells are even listed for this class assuming the GM will make their own or use some "from magazines".

Let's talk about the Witch now.
Like I mentioned the classes take up pages 13 to 157 (of 214),  the witch has 52 of those pages. Who does that remind you of?
 She has a lot of new spells up to the 7th level and about five new powers. The witch is also the only class to get a detailed NPC. Actually she gets three.  The "Queen of Witches" Elvyra, her familiar and her chief handmaiden. The rules limit advancement to 20th level; Elvyra is 25th and Night (the handmaiden) is 23rd.   Look. I am the last person that can throw stones at this one OK.  Part of me is face-palming over this, and another part is impressed with the shear bravado of it.
Notably the "iconics" from the cover are not stated up anywhere in the book.
The Witch and Gypsy are both pretty interesting classes.  I think what happened here is the author wrote all this material for the Witch and then had a bunch of spells and ideas left over that used for the other classes.  Or maybe I am projecting too much.  Hard to say.

There are some interesting rules on multi-classing.  It reminds a little of the D&D4 Hybrid class rules.  Basically you advance in two classes at the same time, taking the more advantageous options.  The experience points are a little more than 75% of the two classes added together.  So on the average a multiclassed character takes 1.5 times longer to level up than a single class character.  Neat idea on paper, not sure how it works in reality.

The rest of the book goes by fast, really just enough to call it a complete game.  There is a chapter on skills. only a couple of pages really but for an AD&D Heartbreaker it has some neater ideas.  A chapter on Equipment, one on "the Adventure" and another on Combat.  The Combat is a d30 deal which is again interesting, but not one I would ever use to be honest.
You might think the Chapter on Magic would be longer than it is. But it is only about 3-4 pages.  Though there is some interesting ideas on magical research for all classes.
There are chapters on Rewards and some Monsters.  The only thing that sets it apart is the listing of female vs. male unicorns.  One (female) is white and good and the other (male) is black and not as good.
There is also a chapter on the campaign world of Islay.  It is a typical game world where lot of quasi medieval and semi-mythical lands are clumped together Xena-style.
There is some historical  detail about the worshipers of Brigit and his witches which made me smile.  Vince Garcia and I read a lot of the same books it seems.

In the end I can't dislike the game and I admire the author intents.
I am not likely to use anything from it really,  but it is a fun book to pick up a flip through. Plus I kinda like that there is not a whole bunch known about it.  Gives me the illusion that I am some sort of occult expert in a very narrow field of expertise.  I can pull on my old professor clothes and have a snifter of age brandy; "Islay you say? Let me tell you about the lands of Islay. Her unicorns, demons and most of all about the Witch Queen.  Yes. You must hear about the Witch Queen Elvyra..."

Jack Vance

Unless you have not read all your blog roll today you know that Jack Vance has died.
http://www.jackvance.com/

Vance was one of the Godfaters of D&D to be honest.  The "cast and forget" spell system D&D has used since day one is called a "Vancian Spell system".  The Lich Vecna is an anagram of Vance.  Ioun stones and a whole host of other things I am not thinking of too.

To me though the great contribution of Jack Vance to D&D is his Dying Earth series.  There is a feel to those books are are so D&D.  Even more so than say the worlds of Connan or Elric.
If you want another good source of inspiration, try his Lyonesse trilogy.  I remember these from the 80s and thought they had a style and sophistication above and beyond the dross I was reading then.

Indeed we mark the passing of another giant.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Obscure Fantasy RPGs Appreciation Day

oie Umu0 PWl3 Ploq
Tomorrow is The Obscure Fantasy RPGs Appreciation Day hosted by Mesmerized by Sirens.

http://mesmerizedbysirens.blogspot.com/2013/05/announcing-obscure-fantasy-rpgs.html

I am just about ready to go myself.

Looking forward to this one.  I love really obscure RPGs.

White Dwarf Wednesday #66

White Dwarf Wednesday #66 takes us to June of 1985.
Up first we have a more classical fantasy cover from Chris Achilleos. Interesting that this dragon has a lot of similarity to the kobolds of 3rd ed era.

Based on the success and popularity of Citadel Miniatures and the new Warhammer, Ian Livingstone is wondering about the return of the War Game.  I don't recall if it ever really happened, but certainly Warhammer in its various guises remain popular.

Open Box is up first and it does something interesting.  It brings in computer games into the reviews. Something that had been handled by a separate column.  Reviewed are:  Battledroids (part of what will become Battletech) by Trevor Mendham, 7/10.  The Talisman Computer Game for the Spectrum 48k.  Also a 7/10 by Trevor Mendham. The Halls of the Dwarven Kings is a generic game aid designed for many games (but AD&D in particular) B Y Rowe gives it 8/10.  Two Fighting Fantasy books are also reviewed, House of Hell and Talisman of Death.  Chris Mitchell gives them both 9/10.   Finally, we get a review of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Second Edition.  Robert Alcock praises the changes, even if he does call them "predictable" and gives it an 8/10.

Critical Mass has praise for the "newest" Piers Anthony book "On a Pale Horse" the first part of his massive Incarnations of Immortality series.  I will admit a love/hate relationship with Anthony myself.  I loved the Immortality books, even if I thought the last book was actually kind of terrible.  I read his Xanth books and they became part of the backdrop of my gaming past.

There is a full-color ad for a new game called GURPS from the American Steve Jackson.  Wonder if it will catch on?

Graham Staplehurst has a long form review/advertisement of the Middle Earth Role-Playing Game from ICE. He makes a case on how MERP is better at MERP than AD&D would be.  Ok.  Though he is quick to mention that he doesn't like the magic system and gives too many powers to characters.  I can see that.  That is actually the issue I have with most Middle Earth games.

Heroes & Villains details two powers not found in Golden Heroes, Webslinging and Darkness Control.
Crawling Chaos has some clippings of clues for investigators in Call of Cthulhu, but could work with any horror/pulp game.

A larger article on Ambushes in Warhammer is up.  One of the larger ones I can recall.  Warhammer is certainly making a name for itself in the pages of WD.  Wonder why...(not really, I know).

We have a nice long Call of Cthulhu scenario, The Horse of the Invisible.  Again I want to point out that CoC has changed so little in the years I could run this without much in the way of edits under my newest 6th ed rules.

A long AD&D scenario (not "adventure"), The Philosopher's Stone, for 1st and 2nd level characters is next. It also includes some ideas for alchemy in AD&D.  A nice touch really.

Fiend Factory looks like it is back to its old form with some interesting monsters and a short connected adventure.  Most are swamp and marsh related creatures.

Treasure Chest has a good article with an interesting idea. The five rings of Alignment.  There are rings of Law, Good, Evil, Chaos and Neutrality.   Each is an artifact and each is also guarded by a specific spirit.   This, of course, reminds me of Fred Saberhagen's Twelve Swords.  The idea certainly has some merit and could be fun.

We end with some ads.

In general, I felt this was a much better issue of White Dwarf than we had been getting of late.  The extended look into MERP was very interesting, the adventures all had some good utility and regular features like Fiend Factory and Treasure Chest were more enjoyable.

Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue for a while longer.

Kickstarter Roundup

Here are some of the Kickstarters I have been keeping an eye on.  Most of these are funded now so it is about the stretch goals. Most of these are also ending soon.

Tome of Horrors Complete - 28mm Heroic Scale Miniatures
For 200 bucks you can get close to 50 minis.  They are white metal, like the old days, but not (as far as I can tell) painted. They look awesome, but even in my 3e game I am moving away from minis.
Still though these are very nice.

Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
This one should be well known to all in the OSR crowd.  900+ monsters in a format that should be easy to translate to any old-school game.
The more backer's this one gets the more art it gets.  See to me this is how to do a Kickstarter.
Joesph delivered on all his promises for his last Kickstarter and even got them in early.  The next book in the series he didn't even need a Kickstarter for.  So Bloch is quietly building his game, delivering quality books and supplements and generally just getting it done.  So backing this one is the right thing to do.  Really he kind of is the model of what you should do in a Kickstarter.

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3
Loved Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2, so this one is a no-brainer for me.

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition
This one is just crazy.  First off it needs $60k for the book.  They go on to get close to half a million bucks!
I liked Exalted 2nd ed but I never got a chance to play it. 

Jeff Dee: Re-Creating AD&D Module Cover Paintings Part 1
This one has not met it's funding yet.  Some reproductions of some of Jeff Dee's module work. Featured are images from:
T1 Village of Hommlet (Back Cover) 
D3 Vault of the Drow (Back Cover) 
X1 Isle of Dread (Front Cover) 
S2 White Plume Mountain (Front Cover)
I'd love to see this one get funded too.

Adventure Maximus!
From Eden's George Vasilakos.  Funded, but still looks like a lot of fun.

And yesterday's newest one, Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed.

I was asked if I am going to back this one. I am not.  It's not that I don't like CoC, I love it. But to me this is not what a Kickstarter should be about.
CoC7 is funded. I like to fund Kickstarters though that look like they NEED my help. The ones that won't see the light of day without my input. Makes me feel like I am accomplishing something really.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed on Kickstarter

The new Call of Cthulhu is now up on Kickstarter.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/448333182/call-of-cthulhu-7th-edition

First off the $40,000 goal seems lofty for any game book, but it is likely that CoC can pull it off.
Afterall, funding just started and it is already at $10k.

No. The odd thing to me seems to be the changes in the rules.

Call of Cthulhu is one of the steadfast games in my collection.  Book from my 2nd ed work with my 5th ed, 5.6th and 6th editions.

A change like this could introduce some new sort of horror to the CoC fans, the Edition Wars.

So I am not 100% certain on this one yet.  I am certain it will be fantastic and quality work.
I'll be keeping an eye this one.

Bloghop and Giveaways

Hey everyone!

May is winding down but there are still plenty of things to do here at the Other Side.
First things first.

I mentioned on the first day of the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia that I would donate all the money this site made to charity.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/05/blogfest-hop-against-homophobia-and.html

And the total is...$15.37 in affiliate sales and $5.90 in sales of the Witch for a total of $21.27.
Not bad for this site, I was hoping for some more.  I will likely round it up to an even 25 or 50.

There is also the business of giving away a copy of the Witch!
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/05/bloghop-giveaway.html

Waiting to hear back from the winners (yes winners!) now.

I must be crazy because in June I am going to do some more giveaways.
Yes to celebrate 1,000,000 hits here I am going to give away copies of my books, gift cards and who knows what else.  No contest. No promotion. Just me giving stuff to you as a thank you for supporting me over the years.

That's coming in June.  So stayed tuned.

EDITED TO ADD:  The winners have been notified.  Rachel Ghoul and RQRobb both received a copy of the Witch!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blogfest: Towel Day Blogfest

Towel Day Blogfest
http://lgkeltner.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-towel-day-blogfest.html


This one is easy.  I am going to talk about what is the best RPG to play a "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" game.

So what makes a good Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game?
Well it needs to have a lot of aliens, or at least the ability to make a lot of aliens.  The weirder the better.
Faster Than Light travel is a must.  Lots of different ways to get from A to B.
Things it doens't need. Details.  Remember Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent didn't know how spaceships worked. Especially Arthur.  They didn't care about the trillions of calculation Marvin could do. All Arthur knew was the ship's computer could not make a decent cup of tea.

So lets evaluate my choices.

Warhammer 40k
No.  The HHGTTG is about fun and lighthearted romps through the universe.  Warhammer is where fun  goes to die.  Not saying you couldn't do it, but it would break things too much.  Though HHGTTG does have a Galactic Emperor who is also thousands of years old. Though he is in a state of perpetual death.

Traveller
Ah now we are talking.  I like to ignore a lot of the tech in Traveller anyway.  The publishing firm of Megadodo Publications of Ursa Minor Beta has some similarity to the Traveller's Aid Society, in that they are an organization that gives plot reasons to go all over the Galaxy.  There are plenty of races in Traveller and I bet you there are online resources dating back to the Mainframe and FTP days of resources to play a Hitchhikers Guide-like game in the Traveller universe.

Star Frontiers
Another good choice really.  In fact one of my SF characters was named Zaphod.  SF though doesn't have enough aliens to fit the bill.  Afterall this is a universe where mattresses are grown and not manufactured.

Star Wars or Star Trek (any Version) 
In both cases there is too much emphasis on combat in these games.  Star Trek at least has the exploration bits down. But really too much emphasis on combat really.

No there really is only one game perfect for playing in a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game.

Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space
The new Doctor Who game is perfect for HHGTTG. With it's easy to use (and easy to get out of the way) rules fits the tone of what I want.  The rules also focus on the talkers and the runners not the fighters, so that helps us get past that issue.  Also let's not forget that there is a strong Doctor Who/Hitchhikers connection.  Douglas Adams was the script editor on Doctor Who around the same time he was working on Hitchhikers Guide.  I also always felt his episodes were very much the model of the of the Hitchhikers universe.  I always thought the Zygons and Vogons were the creatures or at least closely related.  There is also the overt connection, the 10th Doctor after his regeneration refers to himself as being "very Arthur Dent" and commenting "now there's a nice man".  Establishing that at least some version of Douglas Adams' worlds exist in Doctor Who canon.

All the characters can be created using the basic Doctor Who rules, Trillian for example is pretty much a Boffin archetype.  Ph.D. in Math and Astrophysics? She is like a 5th Doctor companion.  Ford and Arthur are easy and Zaphod...well Zaphod he is just this guy you know...

So I think my next Doctor Who game might end up being a little bit Hitchhikers as well.
I think I have a few characters I could even use.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Link round up

Busy day today.  My wife needs to get her garden in (and I am the manual labor) and there is our Memorial Day tradition of grilling.   Hope you are remembering those that served.

So despite the dozens of posts I need to get up today, here is a round up of somethings I found cool.

L.G. Ketner has her Towel Day Blogfest still going on.
http://lgkeltner.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-towel-day-blogfest.html
I am so sorry I don't have my post up yet!  But I am going to talk about a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy RPG.

Victorian Gamers Association is still getting a lot of traffic.
https://plus.google.com/communities/102108261281878174664

Quag Keep covers one of my favorite RPG books ever, Chill Vampires
http://quagkeep.blogspot.com/2013/05/chill-vampires-pacesetter.html

You may have known this, but I didn't, Purple Duck Games has a blog.
http://purpleduckgames.blogspot.com/

Justin at Hall of the Nephilim has a couple of great posts this weekend
 - First turnbout is fair play.  I encouraged him to check out Castles & Crusades and he suggested a new book for me.  http://punverse.blogspot.com/2013/05/castles-crusades.html
 - A new feature I hope to see every weekend, Succubus Sundays!  Wish I had thought of that!

And finally, though not least.

I am the guest on this week's Roll for Initiative Podcast.
http://rfipodcast.com/show/2013/05/25/volume-3-issue-115-witches/
We talk about witches and some my history on the net.  It was a lot of fun and I'd love to do it again sometime.

Tomorrow I am going to give away a PDF copy of the Witch.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

1,000,000 Page Views!

I hit 1,000,000 pages views earlier today!


Not too shabby really!

Planning some stuff to celebrate! Keep an eye open.

Zatannurday: More redesign

Superheroine redesigns seem to be all the rage today.

Here is a Zatanna redesign by Meredith McClaren.
http://iniquitousfish.blogspot.com/


I like her look here to be honest.  The vest still pulls in elements of her old style.  I would have made her pants pinstripes myself and of course given her a top hat.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Castles and Crusades: Liath and Bodhmall

I want to wrap-up my week on Castles & Crusades with a post of two of my favorite characters of Irish Myth.  Liath Luachra & Bodhmall the Druidess.

One of my favorite stories is that of Fionn mac Cumhail.  I used him as character in the very first Buffy RPG adventure The Dark Druid. The back ground of the adventure had Fionn coming to the 21st century and that the characters in the game were the new incarnations of people from his past.  My conceit was that his foster mothers Bodhmall and Liath were Willow and Tara respectively.   I expanded on this in my Willow and Tara based Buffy/Ghosts of Albion games. Episode 5 of The Dragon and the Phoenix expands on this and makes the connection well known to the characters.  Episode 11 of Season of the Witch establishes that in the game world Liath and Bodhmall were also the founders of the Daughters of the Flame coven.   So these are some characters with game history for me.

And yes. They are also lovers.

Peter Bradley of Ravenchilde Illustrations.  A very C&C version of Bodhmall and Liath
So whenever I need a "D&D Version" of Willow and Tara I turn to Liath and Bodhmall.  This way I can direct their fates in new and different directions and not mess with my "modern age" versions.
I have stated them up for D&D4 here before. In fact I spent a lot of time on it since the D&D4 druid couldn't do what I wanted till Essentials.

Bodhmall as expected makes a better druid under the Castles & Crusades rules than she did under D&D4.
Liath though needs some tweaking. Ranger in C&C is a little different and not really what my mental image of what she is.  It is very, very close, but missing the key ingredient.  I have this mental image of the first time Bodhmall meets Liath.  Bodhmall needs a protector/body guard while she is taking a babe to be fostered to the north.  She sees Liath standing on a raised log. On either side of her on the log are her brothers. They are fighting with long staves and the men are trying to knock her off the log.  She is more than holding her own. Her hair is long and braided and despite her young age is already graying; thus her name "The Gray of Luachair".

Some might balk at me taking two established mythological figures (however obscure) and making them same-sex lovers.  In truth I wondered about this too.  But I was doing research and I picked up a copy of Morgan Llywelyn's  Finn MacCool and there was an interesting typo on the character pages.  It listed Liath as being Bodhmal's wife.  That clenched it for me.

Character Creation
If you ever made a character for 1st Ed AD&D then you can make for C&C in about the same time.  If you have familiarity with 3e, then it might go even faster.
(Honestly I am wondering at this point if C&C should just be the AD&D game I play.)

I like the way the powers for the classes work out for the characters.  I made the right choices.
Since I am using this with the Codex Celtarum, the characters both get a Fey power at 1st level, plus something special

Bodhmall
1st level Human Druid, Female, Neutral Good

STR: 10 (0)
DEX: 10 (0)
CON: 14 (+1)
INT: 14 (+1) P
WIS: 18 (+3) P
CHA: 11 (0) P

AC: 13, Leather Armor
HP: 7 (d8)

Staff +0, 1d6
Scimitar +0, 1d6

Nature Lore
Druid Spells
- First Aid, Light, Purify Food & Drink
- Entangle, Magic Stones
Second Sight (1), p. 93 CC
Anamchara*

Liath Luchara
1st level Human Barbarian, Female, Chaotic Good


STR: 13 (+1) P
DEX: 10 (0)
CON: 18 (+3) P
INT: 10 (0)
WIS: 16 (+2) P
CHA: 11 (0)

AC: 12, Leather Armor
HP: 13 (d12)

Spear +1, 1d6
Short Sword +1, 1d6

Combat Sense
Deerstalker
Intimidate
Primeval Instincts
Shapeshifting (Salmon), p. 94 CC (based on Morgan Llywelyn's work)
Anamchara*

All in all I am happy with those write-ups.

Liath and Bodhmall with Finn
Of course I can't introduce Liath and Bodhmal and not have their Anamchara quality.  It what helps define them.

So here it is for use with the Codex Celtarum.

Anamchara
Level 6 Druid, 6 Witch

CT na D 10 rounds R self + one other
SV none SR none Comp n/a


“The only thing more frightening than meeting a Celt in battle is meeting a Celt in battle with his wife at his side.” 
- Attributed to Pliny the Elder, 1st Century CE

Anamchara (“on-um-kor-ah”), or soul-mate, is the Gaelic term used to describe a deep and powerful bound shared between two people. This goes beyond mere companionship and even beyond love; the souls of the two people are connected at a deep and fundamental level. Some occult scholars even speculate anamchara share one soul between two physical people.

The anamchara (singular and plural) are often aware of each other on a preternatural level. While this not a full blown telepathy or even empathy it is beyond what the normal senses would allow. This manifests itself in mundane ways as two lovers humming the same song at the same time with no outside influence, husband and wife completing each others sentences, separated twins living parallel lives, or even one sibling knowing her other sibling is about to walk into a room before the event happens.

Anamchara can be, and often are, lovers, but they are not limited to that alone. Some anamchara can also be very close siblings or very deeply devoted friends. Sometimes the connection can be forged in battle, giving rise to a “brothers-in-arms” effect. The Anamchara can also have a deep connection resulting from life times of being together.


Extension of the senses (“I Will Always Find You”). This acts like a mild form of Empathy or a lesser Situational Awareness that extends only to their anamchara. This grants +2 to locate their anamchara via mundane, magic or psychic means. This also gives each anamchara a broad sense of the other’s health and well being.

Boost Morale (“I’ll Stand By You”). When anamchara are together even dire situations do not seem as grim. With a soothing word or even a knowing look a character can grant her anamchara +5 on any one test or roll. Best of all, she can do it after the player has already made this test. The granting character spends her round or turn explaining she is doing this to aid her beloved. This can only be done once per game session per character.

Combat Effects 
The benefits detailed above have some application in combat as well. The extension of the senses translate into making the anamchara a particularly effective fighting team. In order to gain this benefit the anamchara actually need to train together in a fighting style. Players should decide which style (martial arts, medieval weapons or even magic) they will train together in. This training offers a +2 bonus to all attacks of that type and damage for each. Both can also effectively fight against one opponent with out penalty due to room. Anamchara naturally avoid each others weapons. 



I am curious to see what the Castles & Crusades players think of this power.

I am also posting this as part of my giveaway for the Bloghop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Win a copy of the Witch and help me support the Trevor Project!

Guest Posting on A to Z: The Value of the Blogfest

I am guest posting over at Blogging from A to Z Challenge today.  Here is a copy of my post.

Hello everyone and my name is Tim Brannan, some of you might know me from either of my two blogs The Other Side (gaming, horror and geek life) or The Freedom of Nonbelief (atheism, science and human rights).  I also am one of a groups of bloggers at Amazon Princess and Red Sonja - She Devil with a Sword.  I am guest posting at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

One of the reasons I first got into blogging was to expand my abilities as a writer and help build an audience for my various game books.  I started my blog, The Other Side, as a design journal for my then WIP The Witch.  Then something interesting happened.  I became part of a community.  Sure I had been part of an online community before, via message boards, chat and even going all the way back to BBSes and Telnet.  But a blogging community is something a little different.  I can say my bits here and then others respond, I respond back and there is the back and forth that is very nice.  I then go to other blogs and repeat the process as a responder.   Over the years I have integrated nicely into a community of other bloggers in both gaming and atheism.  I continually get ideas based one what ever the topic du jour is.

I do not underestimate the value of community here.
That is one of the reasons why I feel the Bloghop or Blogfest is critical part of my blogging experience.  For the month of May I am participating in seven different bloghops/blogfests.  I am considering adding an eighth.

I enjoy participating in these for a number of reasons.

First off it exposes me to new bloggers.  I get to read something new and potentially someone new to follow with each one.  For the A to Z challenge I end following a dozen or so new bloggers.  Likewise it exposes me to a new audience and potential followers to my blogs. There are a lot of blogs out there. There are even blogs out there that have similar interests to that I never saw before.  Joining a Horror-related bloghop, for example, is a good way for me to find people with similar tastes outside my normal circles, but joining a "First Loves" bloghop really gets some diversity for me!

Secondly it stretches me a writer.  So with all of these blogs you think I have a lot to talk about.  Yet I have to admit that there are some days that I open up Blogger and stare at a blank screen. A good bloghop gives me ideas, and failing that it gives me motivation.    One of the more obscure ones I joined was one dedicated to silent film star Mary Pickford.  Now you might ask how a game-blog with an emphasis on old-school games and horror can have anything to say about a silent film star, but in truth there was a movie that had a huge influence on my future writing.  Being able to share that with my primary audience (my regular readers) and my new audience (people in the blog hop) was great, especially since I needed to write from the point of view to satisfy both.

At this point I do want comment on not alienating your audience.  I know there are some people, not a lot, but some, in my regular blogging circles that do not like blogfests, and the A to Z one in particular.  I want to be cognizant of this.  Not tailoring my involvement to the loudest minority mind you, but what it means to my primary audience.  If I were for example were to spend the entire month of June doing nothing but talking about silent movies the people that come to my blog for gaming material will be turned off and leave.  I participate in these bloghops/blogfests, but I have to make sure that anything I post would have been something I would have posted anyway.

I enjoyed being in the A to Z blogfest the last three years.  Each year I do something a little different.  I am thankful to all the mods, helpers and minions that made this years' run so much smoother.  A real special thanks goes our to Arlee Bird for driving this Leviathan every year.  This year I was more focused and did things that will end up in my next book Eldritch Witchery.  Again, stuff I was going to write anyway and share.  This time it ended getting more diverse feedback than say if I had done it in June.

In the end I guess these things are what make of them.  For me they have been a great experience both as writer who happens to be blogging and as a blogger in a community of bloggers.   Now if there was only a central place where all the blogfest and bloghops were advertised that would be great!

Maybe someone else can take that on. I have some posts that are screaming at me to write. ;)

About the Author: Tim Brannan is an author and blogger living in the suburbs of Chicago.  He has worked on a number of games including the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Ghosts of Albion, and The Witch.  He is currently working on Eldritch Witchery for Elf Lair Games and Darwin's Guide to Creatures for Battlefield Press for the Gaslight RPG.  When not working on game material or blogging he spends time with wife and two sons.  During the day he designs curriculum for universities going online. Prior to this he was teaching Statistics at the university.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Castles & Crusades Witch

The Castles & Crusades Witch

Castles & Crusades is often called the Rosetta Stone of RPGS.  Actually that is not to bad of a claim.  Here is my Witch class from The Witch, converted to C&C.  I used the S&W versions and an old d20 version of mine to help fill in some of the blanks.  As usual, the PDF version is available in the Box download area to the right.

Let me know what you think!

OGL Notice: The following text is considered OPEN under the Open Gaming License. 
Section 15: "The Witch for Castles & Crusades" and "Faerie Tradition" copyright © 2013 Timothy S. Brannan.
Art is not considered open and copyright is retained by the artist, Larry Elmore and is used here with permission.

WITCH (CHARISMA)

PRIME ATTRIBUTE: Charisma
HIT DICE: d4 per level up to 10th level.  At 11th level, +1 hit point per level.
WEAPONS: A witch may only use a dagger, staff, flaming oil, holy water, net, thrown rock, sling, and whip as weapons.
ARMOR: Cloth, Padded or Leather only, no shields.
ABILITIES: Occult Powers; witch spells, ritual spells, herb use.

Witch Experience Table Spells / Level
Level
Hit Dice (d4)
BtH
EPP
Occult Powers
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
1
1d4
0
0
Occult Power
4 1 - - - - - - - -
2
2d4
+1
2,601
Herb Use
4 2! - - - - - - - -
3
3d4
+1
5,201

4 2 1 - - - - - - -
4
4d4
+1
10,401

4 2 2! - - - - - - -
5
5d4
+1
20,801

5 2 2 1 - - - - - -
6
6d4
+2
40,001

5 3 2 2! - - - - - -
7
7d4
+2
80,001
Occult Power
5 3 2 2 1 - - - - -
8
8d4
+2
160,001

5 3 3 2 2! - - - - -
9
9d4
+2
320,001

5 3 3 2 2 1 - - - -
10
10d4
+3
440,001

6 4 3 3 2 2! - - - -
11
+1
+3
560,001

6 4 3 3 2 2 1 - - -
12
+1
+3
700,001

6 4 4 3 3 2 2! - - -
13
+1
+3
840,001
Occult Power
6 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 - -
14
+1
+4
980,001

6 5 4 4 3 3 2 2! - -
15
+1
+4
1,120,001

6 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 -
16
+1
+4
1,260,001

7 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2! -
17
+1
+4
1,400,001

7 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1
18
+1
+5
1,540,001

7 6 5 5 4 3 3 3 2 2!
19
+1
+5
1,680,001
Occult Power
7 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2
20
+1
+5
1,820,001

7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
21+
+1 hp/level
+5
+140,000

7 6 6 6 5 5 4 3 3 2

! A Witch may take a ritual spell at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th levels.

Witches are humans that have heeded the call of some other-worldly patron power.  This power can be an ancient and forgotten goddess, a powerful being of the Faerie Realms, an ancient elemental Primordial or even a darker power from beyond our reality.  They are trained in the use of potions, herbs, and plants as well as the more powerful forms of magic.  They cast spells, perform rituals and learn more as they advance in levels.  Witches have only the most basic training in arms and armor, having dedicated their lives to magic and the service of their Patron.  The prime requisite for witches is Charisma.

Witch Class Abilities

Spell Casting: The witch owns a book of spells called a “Book of Shadows” this is similar to the books used by magic-users, but each book is unique to each witch.  A Read Magic spell will not enable another witch or magic-user to learn spells from this book.

Bonus Spells: With a high charisma score, a witch gains bonus spells. If the character has a charisma between 13-15,she can memorize an extra 1st level spell. If her charisma score is 16 or 17, the witch can memorize an extra 2nd level spell, and if 18 or 19, the witch can memorize an extra 3rd level spell. Bonus spells can only be acquired if the witch is at a high enough level to cast them. Bonus spells are cumulative.
For example, a 4th level witch with an 18 charisma receives four 0 level spells, two 1st level spells, and two 2nd level spells. No bonus 3rd level spell is acquired until the witch reaches 5th level.

Familiar: The witch gains a familiar at 1st level.  This is a supernatural creature that often appears to be a normal animal such as a cat or frog.

Occult Power: At first level and every 6 levels hereafter the witch gains an Occult Power.  These powers vary from Tradition to Tradition.

Ritual Magic: At 2nd level the witch may opt to choose a Ritual Magic spell. These spells have special requirements in terms of components needs and multiple participants.  

Herb Use: All witches are knowledgeable in the use of herbs.  A witch of 2nd level or greater can make a healing ointment, balm or poultice out of local herbs.  The witch needs to make an Intelligence Ability check to find the herbs and a Wisdom Ability check to make the herbs into a useful balm.  These balms heal 1d4 + half the witch’s level.  So a 2nd level witch can heal 1d4 + 1 hp per use of herbal balm.  A person (character, animal or even monster) can only take benefit of one such balm per day. The witch may only prepare up to 3 such doses of balms per day.

Coven: at 13th level a witch may leave her coven to form her own coven.

Faerie Tradition
The witch living in the deep of the woods is a powerful archetype; her story has been retold countless times in myth and tale. This type of witch is often a Faerie Witch. Faerie Witches appear to be living in solitude, usually in a sylvan setting.  In reality, they often live in large communities of fey, serving as an ambassador to travelers moving through the area.
The Faerie Witch can appear as a beautiful Sídhe princess, a matronly faerie godmother or even as a hideous hag.

The Faerie Witch’s clothing varies from character to character.  Some of them choose to dress down, while others dress with a flair for the bizarre.  Their homes appear welcoming, but also very unnatural in a forest setting.  The homes are typically well kept with splendid gardens outside.
NPC faerie witches are usually Even or Half-Elven, since elves are native to the same geographical locations as the Faerie tradition. 

Role: Faerie witches spend much of their time conversing with the local fey.  They take care of the plants and animals near their home, building large gardens of flowers and vines in the surrounding area.  As witches, their chief concerns are brewing helpful potions, studying the ways of nature and using their divination magic to watch the forest area they protect.
Faerie Witches easily form alliances with rangers and druids living in the same area.  They will often inform these allies of local happenings and sometimes offer their magical services to them.

Joining this Tradition: Faerie Witches join this tradition in a variety of ways.  A common way is when a small child becomes lost in the wilderness and an existing Faerie Witch finding the child.  Another Faerie Witch may receive a vision from her patron to teach a Neophyte Faerie Witch the traditions.  Other times, a person may become divinely inspired, and attempt to seek out an existing Faerie Witch to train under.
The Faerie Witch must learn Elf or Sylvan as one of their starting languages.
On the Vernal Equinox, Faerie Witch covens gather to celebrate the beginning of spring.  These celebrations vary by coven, but are usually extremely joyous gatherings.  On the Autumnal Equinox, Faerie witch covens become much more serious, gathering to prepare for the oncoming winter.
Like the Seelie and Unseelie Fae, Faerie Witches divide themselves into Summer and Winter courts.  These alliances often have more meaning to them than alignment.

Leaving this Tradition: A Faerie Witch who ceases to revere and respect her homeland or betray the trust of the local fey will lose her powers, until she can atone.  She loses any spells or occult powers she has learned.

Occult Powers:  The Faerie witch lives in the world of magic, her connection to the “real world” can seem to be only tangential to her relationship to the worlds of deep faerie magic.

Least, 1st Level: Familiar. The faerie witch gains a familiar.  This familiar will be of a creature that is common to the world of the fae.  It can appear as a normal animal, but there could something different or off about it.  Examples of these familiars might be winged cats or talking dogs.  The “specialness” of the familiar in question will never be something great, but it will set them apart from others of their kind.

Lesser, 7th Level: Speak to Plants and Animals. Three times per day, the Faerie Witch may speak to plants or animals.  The conversation is limited to the intelligence of the creatures involved, but the witch might still discover a great deal about the surrounding land.

Minor, 13th Level: Fey Shape. Once per day, the faerie witch can polymorph herself into any type of faerie creature and back.  The creature in question must be of comparable size.  So, a human faerie witch can change herself into a dryad, sylph or even a hag, but a pixie is not possible.  The witch gains the powers of the creature and retains her ability to case spells, but she also suffers from that creature’s associated weaknesses.  She retains her own hit points and level.
Once the faerie witch reaches this level, she gains the fae’s intolerance of cold iron.  Any iron weapon (not forged steel like most weapons) will do an additional 1d6 points of damage to the witch if touched, similar in the way Holy Water damages undead or fire damages living creatures.  Unless a weapon is specifically listed as being cold-forged iron, then assume it is not.

Greater, 19th Level: Witch’s Curse. The witch can place a powerful Curse on one creature once per day.  The curse can be of any sort, but will usually bestow a -4 to all to hit rolls and -2 to any saving throw rolls.  Witch curses are quite powerful and require the use of two (2) remove curse spells to be fully removed.

Special Benefits: Faerie witches often have many allies in Sylvan settings.  Her ability to speak with the other fey races is often very helpful.

Special Restrictions: Faerie Witches tend to be more neutral, but no other alignment restrictions are clearly drawn.

Equipment:  The tool of this tradition is the wand.  The wand is often made from a branch of the oldest tree in the Faerie witch’s forest.

Preferred/Barred Covens: Faerie witches tend to be a bit xenophobic, so most covens that a faerie witch will belong to are made up of other faerie witches.

Relationship to the Goddess/Patron: The Faerie witch views the Goddess as nature itself.  As a Faerie witch takes care of the plants and animals around them out of respect to the Goddess.

Source/Views of Magic: Like most witches, the Faerie Witch views her magic as a manifestation of the Goddess.  The source of her magic is the great forest.  This obviously puts them on good terms with druids, who view their magic in a similar light.

Archetypes: Most Faerie Witches see little use in the Law vs. Chaos axis. Nature is both and neither, so why should they choose?  Most tend towards neutral if for no other reason than good or evil acts attract attention, something they dislike.

Other: Faerie Witches tend not to hoard much wealth, but their homes are well kept, and some are ornamented with works of art.  The yards of the Faerie witches’ homes are usually filled with lavish gardens, which may give the appearance of wealth, but more often than not Faerie Witches will have little to no money.

Don't Forget about Oklahoma

I have seen the damage tornados do close up.  It's not pretty.
So our thoughts are with Oklahoma, but thoughts alone are nothing.

DriveThruRPG makes it easy to donate money to the American Red Cross.



This one of my favorite charities along with Doctors Without Borders and The Trevor Project.

I like donating through DriveThru because it is easy and it sends the message the gamers care.

I know you had that $5 set aside for new book or something like that. Let's be honest, the economy sucks, you might need that 5 for parking or food or rent.  But right now I have more than the people of Moore, OK do so I gave what I could.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum

Oh I have have been looking forward to this book and doing this review for a while.
Regular readers here know that I LOVE Celtic myths.  I filled Ghosts of Albion with them, the Witch has them as well and there are plenty of posts here about them.  Though for me it isn't just Celtic myths, but Irish myth in particular.  That is a fine distinction to be sure, but one that is important on how I judge or rate materials for a Celtic game.

Long time readers also know that I have been working on a long delayed project, Éire.  This was going to be completely focused on Irish myths and legends with just enough real history to make it feel right.  Low magic, high adventure.  I wanted to emulate the tales of Fionn MacCumhail and Cú Chulainn.  When I first heard about this game I thought to myself: Well, that's it then. I don't need to do this.  Besides I can't compete with Troll Lords.  Not just in terms of production value or resources (Brian Young is getting a Ph.D. in this! I am at best an enthusiastic amateur) but I also don't want to outright compete with them.  I like their stuff and I like to see companies I like do well.  So Éire, for the moment is on hold.  Some of it has gone into Eldritch Witchery, where it is a good fit.  Other bits will show up here and there.  Maybe one day I will come back to it, but for now just expect to see the same material show up here.

But enough about never-were and might-of-beens.  Let's talk about the book I have and you can have actually in your hands.  I supported the Kickstarter for this so I got a PDF, Hardcover and some modules of my choice.  I will say this for Troll Lords. They are quite generous with their KickStarter incentives.

The Codex Celtarum is written by Brian Young.  He is a gamer and an academic in Celtic history and languages and all around nice guy.  Honestly he is the kind of guy I want writing this sort of thing.  You talk to him and get the feeling that he could immediately tell you a story from the Mabinogion and it would roll off his tongue like the bards of old.  This is the guy you want working on your Celtic game.

The first thing I noticed in his introduction was his acknowledgement of the differences in legend and in history and where he was putting his cards.  For me, as someone that has had to have the same tug of war, the value of this book went up several degrees.
Before moving on to the book itself I spent a lot of time with Castles & Crusades again, this time from the point of view of a Celtic-themed game.  Honestly I think it might be one of the better systems to do it with.

The book itself is divided into eight sections plus the forward.
Now at this point it should be noted that the design of this book is to play in a Faery realm, so it is something you can drop into any game world.  There are some game-based assumptions made, but nothing to keep you from making this your own.

Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time covers the creation of the Celtic universe including the various wars that happened at the dawn of time and various personalities.  We are introduced to various gods.  The Horned One and the Blue Hag take central stage.  At this point I want to say that reading this is like reading a story of old as an adult; familiar yet nuanced in ways I didn't know then.  For me the myths and tales this is based on are familiar, but this is new telling for a new world. We are treated to so many names that are familiar and new at the same time; The Tuatha Dé Dannan, Danu, Lir, Goíbhníu, it's like hearing the names of old friends. In a mere 6 pages we have the whole background of the world to the present day. Nothing extra, nothing left out.

Chapter 2: In Lands Far Away details the physical and metaphysical lands of Faery and mortal plane they touch. There are the Two Cauldrons,  Night & Day (which have affects on the faery) and the Twelve Houses   of the Gods (with a cool map). Given the subject the human lands are the British Ilses and Ireland and given the author we get a lot of Welsh names.  The faery lands don't have the same rules of nature as the mortal realms. So there are some tables about the odd passage of time or the nature of the land.  Normally I would balk at this sort of randomness, but here it not only works, it is part and parcel of the mythos. BTW if you don't quite recognize the map of the lands, hold it up to a mirror.

Chapter 3: There Lived a People has everything you want to know about the Faery races.  This includes the major sub-races (Light, Darkness and Twilight) and traits faeries can have.  Now the utility of this chapter should be obvious. I will also add that if you want to give your FRPG Elves a nice shot in the arm then adopt this part of book. We are given detail (in terms of monster stat blocks) of the Children of Light, Children of Twilight and Children of Darkness.  Nearly every Celtic-fae type is here in one form or another. There are lot of new creatures here (unless you are very familiar with Celtic myths) and some that I don't believe have ever been featured in a game book before.  There are also plenty of Faery beasts and supernatural animals.  We also get some giants, but no stats since they are legendary.

Chapter 4: Great of Magic and Power details, what else, magic.  If human wizards study magic and human priests pray for it then the Fae ARE magic. The distinction is not a subtle one.  The magical powers here are listed as spells. So they can be used by the fae as if they were spells, but that robs them of what makes them so interesting. Instead go with the suggestion in the book that each member of the fae get a number of special powers based on their intelligence.  And there are plenty of powers here!  If you are anything like me and love magic, spells or powers for characters then this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  I have to admit I am pleased to see similar powers here as to what I have in Ghosts of Albion under Faerie Powers.  It tells me that we were drawing from similar sources.  There are plenty of differences though allowing for personal preference, but it shows that Brian and I were thinking along similar lines.

Chapter 5: Strong of Feats and Deeds handles what the Celts did best. Fighting.  Well they did other things too, but this is what those stories were all about.  If your fighting-type characters felt left out in the last chapter, then this is one help you out.  Plenty of options. I particularly liked the Tattoo magic.  There are feats as well. Before you panic these are feats in the traditional sense of the word and there are only a score of them.  If you have read any of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, then these are the feats of Cú Chulainn.   There are also some fighting orders detailed such as The War Sisters, the Fian (Fianna) and the Dragons of Prydain (of which the most famous is Arthur).

Chapter 6: With Great Gods and Heroes covers the gods, demigods and heroes of the lands.  We have been introduced to a few already like The Horned One and his wild Hunt. Arthur is mentioned as well as my personal favorite Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool).  There are no stats for these gods or heroes.  Why? That is easy. They are not meant to be killed or even interacted with.  They are the legends of this land.

Chapter 7: Great of Name and Mighty of Deeds covers new rules.  First up are changes to the various character classes.  Not a lot needs to be altered here.  Again as I mentioned above, the classes in C&C are based around concepts and skills rather than powers, these can translate better.  There are some new classes too. The Woodwose is something like a wildman, a mix of barbarian and ranger.  These are humans that have lived in Faery a little too long.  The Wolf Charmer are something like a Beast Master.  They charm animals to follow them.   There are some adventure hooks from classical Celtic tales.  A list of names for characters from Brythonic and Gaelic roots.

The last part, Chapter 8: Items Enchanted and Divine, are all the pieces that didn't fit above. But it still has a lot of good material.  We get a nice discussion on Faery Metals and how they can be used.  There is a list of divine items (artifacts in other games) listed by owner; that's right the Gáe Bulga is not just lying around waiting for you to find it. No this +8 spear (!) is well in the hands of Cú Chulainn.
Ogham is discussed and the various societies and cultures of the heroic age; the Picts, the Britons, the Anglo-Saxons and the Gaels. Holidays around the isles are also detailed.
We end with a map.

Ok. So what can say here.
First the book is absolutely excellent. I am insane with jealousy on how good it is really.  At 176 pages it crams a lot into space.   I love the feel of this book. There is something about that just feels right to me and it makes C&C the perfect system to play a Celtic-based Faery game.  Now. Some points of clarification again.  This isn't a book about playing in a Celtic society per se.  There is no "day in the life of a Celtic warrior" bit.  Only lip service is given to Bronze Age tech or what the larger Gaelic society was like.  Also this book isn't about playing "weird elves".  There is nothing here for example from the Germanic tradition of Faerie stories. The aim of this book is very specific.  If you are looking for one of the above sorts of books then this might not fit your bill.
But if you are looking for a book to play in that intersection of Celtic myth and Faery lore, then this is the book you want.
As with all C&C books the layout is clean and easy to read. The art is fantastic.
If you are a fan of Celtic myth, Faery lore, or Castles & Crusades then I highly recommend this book.  Even if you don't play C&C, I would get this book.
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