Friday, October 23, 2020

Friday Night Videos: Arden and the Wolves

One of the things I love about this time in music is not just how much of it is being made, but the unlimited access to new music and talent.

One I have been following for a while is Arden and the Wolves, although these days it is just Arden. 

There is something about her voice and lyrics that just call to me at some level. Not sure what it is really, but I like it and want to share.

https://ardenandthewolves.bandcamp.com/album/who-can-you-trust


I am going to start out with my favorite song of hers.  

What Arden calls "another year of rain" I would have called my "sojourn in Hell." Though for different reasons.


You can do far worse than covering the Ramones.  Arden covers them well and gives this song a new meaning.

The Who Can You Trust album is one of the most emotionally raw things I have listened to since The Lion and the Cobra

 

She has more, but these are the ones I listen to a lot.


October Horror Movie Challenge: Anime Demon Cities

An "Attack of opportunity" tonight of sorts. I had installed the Tubi channel on my Roku recently and I was paging through all the horror movies to see what they had. One came up that I had seen before (so I thought) and figured, why not, it had not seen it since the 90s. So I loaded it up.

Well...it was not the movie I thought it was.

Wicked City (1987)

Ok, so this one seemed familiar at first. And then it turned soft-core hentai. The premise is that the human world and the "black world" or the demon world have been fighting for years and a new peace treaty is about to be signed. An agent for the Black Guard, Renzaburō Taki, has been called in to protect a mystic, Giuseppe Mayart. He is partnered with a woman from the Black World, named Makie. She is a demon and can grow long claws.

Anyway Giuseppe Mayart might be a few hundred years old, but he is a big old pervert. Constantly grabbing at Makie, reading adult magazines and finally sneaking off so he can visit a brothel. Taki and Makie follow him but get separated. Makie is found by her ex-lover, a demon, so he proceeds to sexually assault her for a bit. Till Taki kills it. Mayart is wounded and needs to be taken to a hospital, they are chased by demons but Makie sacrifices herself to protect them. Something that has a huge effect on Taki. While at the hospital the demon lord lets Taki and Mayart (and most of Tokyo I think) know he (and the spider demon Taki had sex with in the opening) has Makie and she is currently being gang-raped by three demons. Taki of course takes the bait and saves her.

In no amount of logic, Taki and Makie have sex in a church. The big bad demon shows up to kill them and a perfectly healed Mayart shows up to kick the demon's ass. Turns out that Mayart was actually here to protect Taki and Makie so they could conceive a child, the first Demon-Human child to be born and be the one to bring peace to both worlds.

It's an interesting premise with some cool ideas.

Demon City Shinjuku (1990)

Ok, THIS is the movie I thought I was watching. It is a lot less violent and a lot less tentacle rape. This one takes place 10 years after a huge earthquake caused by a demon, Rebi Ra, happens. The entire Shinjuku area of Tokyo has been destroyed and overrun with demons.

We meet up with Kyoya Izayoi, a martial artist in "Nem Po" training who wields a wooden sword. He is the son of the man who failed to kill Rebi Ra in the opener. He is sent by floating mystic, Aguni Rai to protect the World's President's daughter Sayaka. Though she has gone to Shinjuku to find Rebi Ra.

Rebi Ra has been spending the last 10 years opening a portal to let in more demons. Of course our hero now only has 3 days.

Kyoya jumps at any combat, whether he can win or not, and is soon captured by Rebi Ra. Then there is a bit where Sayaka tries to free some ghosts from a park. This wakes up Kyoya. They are recaptured by Rebi Ra and Sayaka is chosen for the sacrifice. Kyoya finds his father's wooden sword (filled with his Chi/Qi power) and he kills Rebi Ra.

Oh, and there is this strange dude named Mesphito and a kid who helps named Chibi who for reasons unknown to god, man or demon has the worst Mexican accent I have ever heard. Mesphito seems like he could be demon, but certain on his own side.

The movie is a bit slow and the dubbing in some places doesn't make a bit of sense.

It is easy to see Demon City as a sequel of sorts to Wicked City, with Kyoya acting as the son of Renzaburō Taki and Makie. Aguni Rai could even double as Giuseppe Mayart.

Watched: 41
New: 27

NIGHT SHIFT content: Demon City Tokyo: 2055
A new experimental Quantum Nuclear Reactor has gone critical but instead of blowing up Tokyo a rift has appeared opening the city up to the depths of hell. Now 20 years later the children of the people trapped in the Demon City deal with demon excursions, the walking dead, and the police of the DCO (Demonic Control Operation).   High tech meets old magic. Demonically possessed humans and the undead fight cyber-enhanced martial artists.  It is all happening in Demon City Tokyo!



Remembering Len Lakofka

Just got word a bit ago that Lenard "Leomund" Lakofka passed away this morning. 

Len and I got along well even when we had a difference of opinion.  I likely talked about him more than any other old-school designer, save for Gary, Tom Moldvay, and Eric Holmes.

I had just picked up a copy of L3 and had mentioned to him I wanted to get it signed if he ever came to Gary Con or Gen Con.

I have a stack of his notes for the Town of Ulek he wanted me to go over and scan.  Now I am not sure what to do with them.

I'm going to miss the guy. 


Kickstart Your Weekend: Halloween Theme, Part 1

Today and next Friday I am bringing you some Halloween-themed Kickstarters that I think you my readers might enjoy. I was going to break these up by theme, but some are ending soon.

Tempus Halloween Special - Witch & Vampire Zircon Glass Dice


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tempustales/tempus-halloween-special-witch-and-vampire-zircon-glass-dice?ref=theotherside

Ok. I'll admit it. I love themed dice. And these look great. They look a touch larger than the typical dice we get, but that is a good thing. They are not cheap, but these are what I guess we can call "luxury dice sets."

The next two came up in a search and I think they work well together.

Widdershins: the Roleplaying Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/libomni/widdershins-the-roleplaying-game?ref=theotherside

Early 20th Century steam-punk-esque, battling Eldritch Horrors indie RPG?  Sounds like a blast to me!  There is a focus on LGBTQ play and characters, but frankly we need more of that in RPGs.  I also like how sexuality is used as a metaphor for being on the outside and thus being able to comprehend the horrors in the world that others ignore. 

It looks like there is a rich world here to explore and the art looks fantastic so far.  Can't wait to see more.


Love Potion: An Illustrated LGBT Novel


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/everafterprint/love-potion-an-illustrated-lgbt-novel?ref=theotherside

The purpose of Kickstarter in my mind is to give a boost to new artists, game designers, and authors whose material we might not otherwise ever see.  I try not to use it as pre-order system or a ransomware buy, I have a FLGS I like to support and I would rather buy there and wait than not support them.

But every so often something comes up and I feel the need to share. This is one of those.

The project creators have never done a Kickstarter before nor have they backed one. Normally this is a red flag for me.  But everyone must start somewhere.

I like the story. I once joked (ok, more than once) that why is the witch always the evil one in the story? Why can't the prince fall for the witch instead of the princess?  Then that logically went to why can't the princess and witch fall in love and tell the prince to take a hike?

This is not that story, but it is a story of the witch not being the one at end of the villager's pitchforks for once.

I enjoy the art and the creators both seem like good people.  How do I make that assumption?  They refer to each other as a "writer orc" and an "art goblin."  

There is always a part on a Kickstarter that says "back it because you believe in it." I believe in this project and would like to see it made into a reality.

DMSGuild Witch Project: 5e Witches, Part 3

Going to look at some more D&D 5 Witch classes today. Today and the rest of the week I am going to look at some of the smaller PDFs.  Usually less than 20 pages.

For these DMSGuild classes, I am going to still follow my own rules and guidelines to make sure I am giving these a fair review. 

Witch Class
by Todd D

This PDF is eight pages, all content. The PWYW price is set to $0.00, but following my guidelines $0.80 or even a buck would be good. There is no art but the layout is good. This is one of the earliest witch classes submitted to DMSGuild.

This witch is more like a warlock, but that is what it is advertised as. These witches appear to be manipulators of Fate. These witches also use Wisdom as their spellcasting ability. Instead of pacts or traditions, this witch has "Heritages"; the Traditionalist, the Blighted, and the Clairvoyant. Each one gives the witch some different sorts of powers. Ends with a spell list. At eight pages it seems a bit thin but does exactly what it said it was going to do.

It is less like a witch and more like a "Hedge Warlock" in my mind.  Granted, this is not a bad thing at all. 

Toss the author a buck and wish them "Happy Halloween."


Witch Class for DND 5e
by Dani Sankovich

This PDF is 8 pages, all content. The PDF sells for $0.50 PWYW, so under my 10 cents per page guidelines. Since it is also all content and no filler, so $1.00 would be appropriate here. 

The class is a full 20 levels with spell casting to the 9th spell level. There is a max Spells Known per level. The ability for spell casting is Intelligence. 

These witches have a "Binding Locus" that gives them their power. This also grants them abilities at certain levels. Binding Loci can be Arcane, Void, Wilds and Entity. The Entity is somewhat like the Warlock's patron and has a few more powers.

We end with the spell list. No new spells.

It's Halloween, go ahead and give them $1.00.


Witch Class (D&D 5e)
by Brian Barnshaw

This PDF is 11 pages (1 title, 1 legal, 9 content) and no art. The layout is clean but the background image makes it a little harder to read.  

There is some background given, relating the witch to the druid. It is fine, but I don't quite think it came over the way the author wanted it to. 

This witch is a full caster of 20 levels and to the 9th level of spell ability. This witch is also a wisdom caster and has ritual casting.  These witches also gain a familiar.

The archetypes are known as covens, as expected. There are two Creators and Hag's Disciple.  The Hag one is expanded based on the type of Hag. 

There is a spell list, but no new spells.

Again, each one gets at the witch from a different point of view and works well within that point of view. It might be interesting to build a Grand Coven with a witch from each of these.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: La Fille de Dracula (1972)

While watching Vampire Ecstacy I recalled there were a lot of similarities to this movie.  I ordered it then and thanks to Prime got it this morning.   

I watched this one back in 2013 but the copy I had was a really terrible VHS to DVD transfer.  

There is no comparison between the two.  After watching the BluRay I might pop in my DVD just to see if there are a lot of differences.   This one is in French with English subtitles. 

One thing I didn't cover with my last watching was the Karlstein/Karnstein issue.  The castle is called Castle Karlstein but given the time when it was filmed, I can't imagine they didn't mean Karnstien as in Carmilla. 

The story fits the Karnsteins better than the Draculas any way.

Britt Nichols plays Luisa Karlstein and Anne Libert plays Karine, Luisa's cousin, and lover.  And of course, Franco appears playing a creepy dude.  I mean if you are going to cast yourself in a role you should get your choice right?  

Throughout the movie women are attacked and drained of blood.

Luisa returns home to her dying mother and learns the family secret. Their ancestor, Count Karlstein, was a vampire and mom has been keeping him in the crypt.  Luisa goes to the crypt wakes up great-granddad.  Next time we see her she has fangs and begins to seduce her cousin Karine.  Though from the looks of it, Karine is a willing convert. 

There are some issues with this movie.  Luisa and Karine in their first scene act like they have just met, but later on, Karine tells Luisa about how she always loved her and they were "best friends" growing up.  They even relate a scene where Luisa plucked the eyes out of a bird and Karine cried in her arms. 

And the movie goes downhill, or rather, nowhere from there.  In fact the Luisa/Karine story seems completely disconnected from the Vampire killing plot.  If you assume that it was Luisa doing it then she was a vampire before she encountered the count (and it was the actress, if not the character). If it is the count doing the killings then what exactly is Luisa doing in the movie? Other than to lay in bed with Karine all day.

I learned while doing some preliminary research on this before tonight that this movie is part of a loose trilogy from Franco.  Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972) features Howard Vernon as Dracula, the same role he is playing in Daughter of Dracula.   It occurs before this movie.  Daughter is followed by The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973).  This movie also has  Britt Nichols and Anne Libert, though in different roles than in this one. The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is also the film debut of frequent Franco star Lina Romay. She would go on to appear in 100 of his movies and they eventually married in 2008, four years before her death. They had been a couple though for 40 years. I forget which DVD commentary it was on, but Franco, in his 80s, still spoke of her very warmly and lovingly.  He would later go on to die a year after.

I think at this point I am a little burned out on Franco. I have another one for the weekend, also with Britt Nichols and Anne Libert, playing sisters this time instead of cousins.  I might save them for another year, but likely not. 

My original, bad VHS to DVD edit, ran 78 mins, the BluRay is 82 mins. The BluRay also has an edited "clean" version.

Watched: 39
New: 26

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
How about this. I have seen a few movies about Dracula's family and a few more about the Karnsteins and their family.  I have done some work on witch families. What about two warring families who patriarch/matriarchs are both ancient and powerful vampires. The descendants can be living, but living under a curse that when they die they become the undead.  The two family leaders have some sort of relation; say like cousins or half-siblings.  A good example would be the historical Dracula and Bathory clans. They shared a relationship by blood and other ties. Or the literary one of Dracula and the Karnsteins; we know that Stoker was a fan of Le Fanu's work and in the Hammer Karnsteins, Dracula is often in the background.

The war between rival families of vampires might sound a little World of Darkness, but it is something that could work well for both an Old-School game and Night Shift. 


Plays Well With Others: Night Shift and Modern Supernatural Games

I am a firm believer that a rising tide lifts all ships, and that other Game Designers are not my competition, but my colleagues.  I buy their games, they buy mine. We all benefit and we all enjoy.

Naturally, I also feel that a good gaming experience can be had by looking to see what others are doing and seeing what I can bring into my games when I am running them.


When we were working on NIGHT SHIFT we had a fairly strict "no looking at other games" policy.  We really wanted our game to have it's own unique feel and direction.  But that was last year, and now NIGHT SHIFT is out and I am pulling out all my other games to see what each one has that can help NIGHT SHIFT and what Night Shift has that can help them.

Old School Roots

Jason and I have worked on a lot of games. Both together and separately for dozens of publishers. But the one thing we both enjoy are old-school games. This doesn't mean we don't like new ones, quite the opposite in fact. But it is the old-school design aesthetic that keeps us coming back and saying "what else can we do with this?"  NIGHT SHIFT covers both halves of our RPG hearts.

The mechanics in NIGHT SHIFT (what we call O.G.R.E.S. or Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System) are firmly rooted in the Old School mechanics of the world's first popular RPG system.  What does this mean? Well if you have been playing RPGs for any length of time since 1974 then chances are good you can pick up the rules for NIGHT SHIFT very, very quickly. 

Also, it means that out of the box, NIGHT SHIFT is roughly compatible with thousands of RPG titles. 

Appendix A of the NIGHT SHIFT book covers conversions between NS and the Oldest RPG, it also covers conversions between the O.G.R.E.S. of NIGHT SHIFT and the O.R.C.S of other Elf Lair Games products; namely Spellcraft & Swordplay and Eldritch Witchery.


It also covers 0e, B/X and BECMI style conversions. Converting then between NIGHT SHIFT and anything based on Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord for example is easy.



There are guidelines on how to convert classes, but since the classes have the same DNA as the ones in many of these clone games I am going to take the extra step and say, just play them as is.

So yeah, run a Sage in Labyrinth Lord.  Put a Chosen One in Swords & Wizardry.  In fact, I'd love to hear how this works for you.  This also gives you a good way to add a new supernatural species to your game.  What to play an Angel cleric? With NIGHT SHIFTS rules on supernaturals, you can. IT also makes a nice way to create something my Basic Games have needed, a Vampire Witch.  In NIGHT SHIFT this is easy.

Need more monsters? Grab any monster manual and you can be set to go. Monstrosities and Tome of Horrors Complete are only two examples but they give hundreds of monsters. More than you will ever need.

NIGHT SHIFT is not the only Modern Supernatural RPG out there based on old school roots.  So many in fact that my next one and others would have to constitute another full post to them justice.  But I will mention a couple.

DP&D is such a delight. It really is. I am very fond of this game and I still enjoy playing it.  On the surface it looks like DP&D and NIGHT SHIFT could be used to tell the same sorts of stories, and that is true to a degree, but that really underplays what makes both games special.  

NIGHT SHIFT covers adults (for the most part, I'll talk Generation HEX specifically) in a very dangerous supernatural modern world.
Dark Places & Demogorgons covers kids in a very dangerous supernatural world of the 1980s.


Both games are built on the same chassis and have similar cores.  One day I want to run a game where the Adults (NS) flashback to when they were Kids (DP&D).  Sort of like Stephen King's "It."
Or one could start out as a kid in DP&D progress a bit and then become an adult to continue on in Night Shift.

There is not a good One to One class correspondence between the games and nor would I want there to be.  A Jock (DP&D) might end up as a Veteran (NS) or even as a Chosen One (NS).  In truth, I would give any DP&D kid character some "free" levels in Survivor but allow them to keep some of the perks of their original DP&D class.  So Goths still see ghosts, Karate Kids still kick ass, and so on.  
Frankly, I think it would be a blast with the right group.   Maybe I should write a two-part adventure that covers both. A little like "It" but something very different.  Something "Strange" happened in the 1980s and now a group of characters have gotten back together in their old home town to stop it once again.  

I singled out Generation HEX since that one already covers kids.  I can see a game though were kids from AMPA (Academy of Magic and Paranormal Arts) have to work with the "normies" of DP&D to solve some great mystery.   Likely one that is affecting adults only.

I have also used monsters from the DP&D Cryptid Manual for NIGHT SHIFT many times.

Modern Supernatural

It is no great secret that I LOVE games like WitchCraft and Chill.  I have talked many times about my love of both games. Chill was my first Horror RPG and WitchCraft might be my favorite game of all time.  Jason and I met while working as freelancers for Eden Studios, the company that made WitchCraft.  We worked together on Buffy, Angel, and Army of Darkness.  I helped him with his All Flesh Must Be Eaten books and he helped me on Ghosts of Albion.  A lot of what is in NIGHT SHIFT came out of our conversations of things we wanted to do in those games.


I guess then it is not a shock or surprise that I see NIGHT SHIFT and the spiritual successor, at least on my shelves and table, to games like Buffy and WitchCraft.


Buffy and WitchCraft defined horror monster hunting for the 90s and into the 2000s.  NIGHT SHIFT takes this to 2020 and beyond.  With NIGHT SHIFT I want to be able to play anything those other games offered me.  Sure the playstyle will be different.  WitchCraft is more about the machinations of the Supernatural World.  The Gifted (WC) for example are all covered by the Witch Class in NIGHT SHIFT.  In WitchCraft though there is a HUGE difference between the Wicce and the Rosicrucians. In NIGHT SHIFT those differences would have to be played out by the players in role-playing.  NIGHT SHIFT also is more Normies and Weirdos vs. Dangerous Supernatural types. More like Buffy or Ghosts of Albion in that sense. 


All Souls Night

There is an adventure that I have been dying to finish, "All Souls Night."  It is part of a trilogy across time and distance that includes Ghosts of Albion's "Blight", Buffy's "The Dark Druid" and what I have been thinking of as D&D's All Souls Night.  Translating them all into NIGHT SHIFT makes this so much easier to run. 

Supernatural and Chill
Not the new version of "Netflix and Chill" but adapting the best monster hunter games. 

Chill has such a long history I could not do it justice here.  I love the game but one place it has always felt a little lacking for me is the ability to play a spell-caster.  The Supernatural RPG is the same way.  In truth, Supernatural RPG is the cinematic version of Chill.   I mean sure. If I wanted to play a spellcaster, or a witch, I still have Buffy, WitchCraft, Ghosts of Albion, and about 100 other games to do that.  Both Chill and Supernatural are solid "let's go hunt some monsters" games.  So is NIGHT SHIFT.



Adapting the style of either game is easy.  Having these games also gives your NIGHT SHIFT game a slightly edgier feel.

I have already shown that Supernatural characters like The Wayward Sisters and Charlie Bradbury can have new life in NIGHT SHIFT.  

Some games, like say Call of Cthulhu, fit their niche so perfectly that I would not want to run a "Mythos" game with NIGHT SHIFT, but I certainly could borrow ideas from CoC for my NIGHT SHIFT games.  

In many ways doing a Plays Well With Others and NIGHT SHIFT is a cheat.  One of my own design principles for the game was to make it as flexible as I could so it could cover a wide variety of game and play styles.  I am happy in my belief that we succeeded in that.

DMSGuild Witch Project: 5e Witches, Part 2

Going to look at some more D&D 5 Witch classes today. Today and the rest of the week I am going to look at some of the smaller PDFs.  Usually less than 20 pages.

For these DMSGuild classes, I am going to still follow my own rules and guidelines to make sure I am giving these a fair review.

Witch Class 5E
by Donald Armstrong

This pdf is 15 pages (1 title, 1 legal) and selling at $1.00 PWYW, falling below my 10 cents per page price threshold.  The PDF itself reminds me a bit of the style and presentation of an Unearthed Arcana article, but with art. I am sure that is the author's intent.

This class has a bit more flavor than others, with a little more background for the witch. It takes a specific point of view on witchcraft but is easily adopted or adapted.  Like most of the other DMSGuild witches, this one is a full 20 levels with casting to the 9th spell level ability. This one also has a limit on the total number of spells the witch can know.  The witch gets some powers common to all witches and some that specific to their coven.  The common powers are known as Witchcraft (naturally) and revolve around channeling life energy. 

The covens include the Celestial, Fey, and Infernal. There is a spell list and four new spells.  So this gives it an edge over many of the others. 

There are a lot of neat ideas here and many worth looking into deeper.

D&D 5e Witch Class
by Nils Kjesem

This PDF is 18 pages (1 title, 17 pages content). There is no art and no layout above what can be done in a simple word processor. It also only sells for $1.00, so that evens everything out.

This witch is at 20 levels, but only progresses to the 5th spell level ability. Interestingly enough this witch also uses a 1d8 for HD, so making her a little tough than other witches. This one also puts more details into the various familiars the witch can get.

The archetypes are referred to as "Teachings" here. There are Fortune Teller, Herbology, and Sigils. 

We get a spell list at the end.  

Some interesting ideas, but it feels a bit like a rough draft rather than a completed product. Then again for $1.00 you can buy it and detail it any way you like. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Blood Orgy of the Queens of Evil (1972)

One Occult/Hippie/Witchcraft movie leads to another and another and another.  This time though we might have some fruit.  

Queens of Evil (1972)

A lone biker/wanderer David (again) stops to help an older man with a flat tire.  For his effort, the older man punctures David's motorcycle tire with a nail.  David gets his bike fixed and tries to chase down the old man.  The old man panics and crashes his car into a tree and dies.  David, wanting no part of this speeds away.

He comes up to a shack and since it has been dark this whole time he decides to spend the night.  When he wakes up a young woman, Liv, who tells him he needs to leave now before her family sees him.  David is expecting parents but instead is found by her two sisters Samantha and Bibiana.  They invite him to stay for breakfast and ends up staying for much longer.  The three women live in the BEST witch house I have seen in a while and really is making me rethink what needs to go into a witches' house. The wall-size pictures of each of the three women are going to go into something to be sure.

Everything is very psychedelic.  The first hour of so is slow, but the last 20 minutes really kicks in and gets really going.  David begins to see what sort of trouble he is in. Not before he has sex with Liv at any rate; which actually might have been the final thing that does him in really. 

The women kill him and bury him in the yard. All the guests from the party are there, already in black. The rich older man from the first scene is also there. Turns out he is the Devil! Pretty cool ending really. The witches mention that to corupt him was very difficult and that the Devil will no longer be needed.  All the guests at party are "conjurers" and are designed to keep sin alive and well.

Pretty cool.

Blood Orgy of the She Devils (1972)

This one starts off with some trippy special effects and a witch ritual that at least reads right. It's the early 70s so we are also are going to get some scantily clad dancing girls and a vaguely Satanic looking sacrifice.    I been wanting to see this one since the witch (Witch Queen maybe) Mara. 

At one point Mara channels her "Indian guide" with some of the most painful dialogue I have heard outside a racist cartoon. It is quite painful really.  So our witch Mara kills a UN Ambassador and the ones that paid her try to kill her, but I guess she can't be killed. 

This movie though is so 70s it treats magic as a foregone conclusion; it exists but not everyone has mastered it yet. 

There is a lot of neat sympathetic magic here, but not really a lot of blood nor orgies though really.

The movie ends with a group of "good guys" killing all the women. 

Watched: 38
New: 26

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
A few random ideas.
  • Witches need to have really cool, or at least really unique, homes.  
  • I need to expand some psychic powers for witches.
  • I should develop some rules for reincarnation for witch characters.
  • More wizard vs. witch battles.

DMSGuild Witch Project: 5e Witches, Part 1

Going to look at some more D&D 5 Witch classes today. Today and the rest of the week I am going to look at some of the smaller PDFs.  Usually less than 20 pages.

For these DMSGuild classes, I am going to still follow my own rules and guidelines to make sure I am giving these a fair review.

The Witch Class
by Spencer Dimmick

This one is 15 pages (1 title, 1 legal, 13 pages content) and sells for $1.99. There is no art.  This class is a full 20 levels, with spell casting to the 9th spell level ability.  This witch also has a number of spells known per level. Spellcasting is based on Intelligence.

This witch has a number of special powers and more granted by their Practitioner's Path. These include The Hedge Witch, The Seer, The Maleficent, The Familial, and The Weaver. So a few more than average. Each has a nice solid witchy feel to it and can fill many niches for the witch class. 

Also detailed are more powers for the witch and the list of witch spells. No new spells are included.

For 2 bucks it packs a lot of punch.

Witch Class: Cackling Guidebook for lonely Spellcasters
From Ingo Könemann

This PDF is 9 pages and $1.00 PWYW. There is no art but the layout is nice. 1 page for the title and 1 page for legal and changelog, bring the content down to 6 pages.  This class is a full 20 levels, with spell casting to the 9th spell level ability. 

This one is interesting since your "Source of Power" determines your spellcasting ability. You may choose Intelligence or Charisma. This witch is also a ritual caster.

Covens grant the witch some "secret spells" starting at the 2nd level and special powers.

The Covens are Coven of the Beast, Coven of the Storm, Coven of Nature.   

There is a list of spells, but no new spells. 

Both have some good points but I'd like to see them expanded a bit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Vampire Ecstasy (1973-4)

Ok. So I have been working my way through the world of European horror and focusing on the era right before The Exorcist, in particular, 1969 to 1973 with 1972 as my sweet spot.  Any search in this time period for "Occult", "Vampire", "Witch", or "Coven" is going to pull up some questionable material.  It is also going to pull up the same few titles over and over.  This one classifies as "all the above."

I have seen this one before. But the copy I saw then was so edited and cut that it didn't make any sense.  I am half-tempted to consider this a "New" showing.

Vampire Ecstasy (1973-4)

I started my research on this one back in September. It is called, in various versions, languages and edits: Vampire Ecstasy, Der Fluch der Schwarzen Schwestern (the curse of the black sisters), the Devil's Playthings,  the Veil of Blood, Le château des messes noires, Schloss der schwarzen Hexen (Castle of the Black Witches), Sexorgien der schwarzen Hexen (Sex orgy of the Black Witches) and more. It was written and directed by Joseph W. Sarno, who was somewhat notorious back then. 

The movie comes in a wide variety of edits and run times. The edits range from a PG-13/R version to NC-17 (or would be NC-17 these days) to a soft X. The version on most Internet channels (like Tubi) seem to be the NC-17 version.  The BluRay is impossible to find, but I did pick it up on DVD with another Sarno movie.  It was worth it just for the audio commentary. 

It was a joint German-Swedish production with most of the actresses coming from Germany. Notable though was Marie Forså, who was Swedish. All the actors and actresses had to be able to speak English though. There also seems to be a bit of controversy about when it was filmed.  Many dates say 1974, others say 1973.  The issue might be due to the fact that new star Marie Forså was either 17 or 18 at the time of filming. Some commentary I have read even puts her as young as 16.  True the age of consent in Germany is 14 and 15 in Sweden. But still, it seems a bit, squicky.  But I digress.

The plot of this one is razor-thin.  A 17th century Countess, Danielle Vaga, was burned at the stake accused of vampirism and witchcraft. She was sort of a Countess Bathory rip-off/homage.  Her spirit lives on in her followers who still reside in her castle. The offspring of the Countess shows up at the castle, dark-haired Monica (Ulrike Butz) and blonde Helga (Marie Forså). With Monica is their cousin Iris played by Flavia Keyt and these two are obviously having sex, but it is not the only incest happening here.

Also arriving later are Dr. Julia Malenkow (Anke Syring) and her brother Peter (Nico Wolf). They are the descendants of the witch hunter that killed Countess Vaga.  Dr. Malenkow is an expert on local superstitions (so she is Julia Malenkow, Ph.D. thank you very much) and she wants fuck her brother.

Nadia Henkowa plays Wanda, the leader of the cult. She brought an air of authenticity to the role with her severe look and actually a rather great accent.  she has invited Monica and Helga to the reading of their grandmother's will.  If they can stay in the castle they get it and all the wealth.  But of course the "Black Sisters" are going to use their magic to tempt them into acts of lust.  Not just for the fun of it though, they need a living host for the soul of Countess Vaga. 

So we get an hour or so of people having sex with each other. And according to the DVD commentary that was also happening behind the scenes as well.  At one point the producer tells us they could find Forså because she was always in someone else's room.  It was the 70s. 

Eventually, the spirit of Vaga takes over the body of Monica and Helga is turned into a mindless sex toy. Vaga tries to get Julia to become the willing sacrifice on the stake, or she will make Helga do it instead.  Julia agrees, but stakes Vaga/Monica instead.  Everyone comes out of their trances now that the Vampire Countess is truly dead.

So. It would be easy to dismiss this as just another in a long, long line of European sexploitation movies with a vampire fetish.  But damn if Sarno doesn't actually have an eye for talent (the actresses, especially Forså can actually act) and he has a good eye for cinematography.  The castle they use in Bavaria is an authentic 17th-century one and they paid rent to the Baron to use it. The dungeon scenes were shot in the actual dungeon.  

The filming was also a bit tragic. Anke Syring had to leave the set for a bit because her mother and father had been killed. The producer was driving back on the last day of shooting and was in a terrible accident, but he survived.  One of the coven sisters played by Claudia Fielers would later commit suicide. 

The movie has very little blood and no gore in it.  There is a solid 70s occult vibe to it.

I think Sarno had ideas and vision, I don't know if he didn't know how to pull them off, or was happy with what he was doing.  I know, thanks to the DVD commentary, that the Producer, Chris D. Nebe was pleased. 


Watched: 36
New: 24



NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
It might have been stated before, but really powerful vampires can come back from the death beyond undeath. While guys like Dracula seem to come back in their own bodies, female vampires seem to need a willing, or semi-willing, host.  Not sure why they should be, but it is also something we see in the "Daughters of Darkness" and Hammer's Karnstein Trilogy. 

What I am going to do then is this.  After I run my War of the Witch Queens campaign I will run a Night Shift game. During the War, the players are likely to meet up with Darlessa the Vampire Queen, and hopefully, defeat her.   Later I will run a Night Shift game where her direct descendant will be cursed with the spirit of Darlessa.  Hopefully, it would be the same players.   

The trick here is how to stat her. In the War of the Witch Queens she is a 13th level witch. But here she should be weaker (a nod, no matter how silly, to the movies).  I am thinking of making the NPC human a vampire spawn under control of the spirit of Darlessa; she is also Darlessa.  Confused? Well it's basically a Scooby-Doo plot. 

If I get this worked up I will certainly need my mini of Darlessa. 

Vampire Queen Darlessa


It's Free Witches!

 OR...Make that a Free Witch.

Right now DriveThruRPG (and all the OneBookshelf "DriveThru" sites) are having their Halloween Sales.

Now, normally I would be telling you which one of my Witch books are on sale.  And I will, but I have something EVEN BETTER.

Right now if you go on to DriveThruRPG's site you will find witches hats, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and more to get a free download.

One of those free downloads is my The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition!


I could tell you where, but that would ruin all the fun!  Trust me it is there and the Basic Witch, the Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition is now FREE until the end of this month November 2nd.

Grab it and see what I do.

Also, there are plenty of great sales going on.


In addition to the Pumpkin Spice Witch being free several of my other books are on sale.

Help me celebrate my FAVORITE holiday by adding something witchy to your games.

DMSGuild Witch Project: The Witch

Going to look at some more D&D 5 Witch classes today. These are all just called "The Witch." Since that was also the name of my first witch book back in 2012 I thought I should check them out.  As it turns out I have one for each primary spellcasting ability, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. 

For these DMSGuild classes, I am going to still follow my own rules and guidelines to make sure I am giving these a fair review.

The Witch by Jeroen Boogaard

This pdf is 8 (6 pages content, 1 cover, 1 page of spells) pages at $0.50, so right under my ¢10 per page guideline.  The pdf is full color but light on art. Mind you, that is not a big deal here since the art it does have is used to good effect. 

Presented here is a full 20 level spellcasting class similar in feel to the Pathfinder witch, including minor (five of these) and major hexes (also five of these).  They get a full 9 levels of spell casting slots and Intelligence is their spellcasting ability.   These witches also get an herbalism ability.  Their subtypes are known as "Covens" so that is a good thing.  There are the covens of the dragon, the ancestor, and of the wild.  Each coven gets some special abilities and additional spells.

There is a spell list on the last page, but no new spells.  There are some minor typos, but nothing that impedes the understanding of the text.

The Witch by Dave Rich

This PDF is 15 pages (1 cover, 10 pages content, 3 pages of Appendicies, 1 legal). No art.  The pice is $3.00 PWYW.  So twice my ¢10 per page guideline. 

This one presents the witch class with four archetypes and a sorcerous origin.  We get a full 20 levels of the witch class. Spellcasting is based on Wisdom, and the witch gets a full 9 levels of spellcasting.  This class has a limit on the total number of spells known.  For example, the witch has a full 22 spell slots from 1st to 9th level, but only knows 17 spells.  you can choose to forget a spell of lower level when a higher one is available.  Witches gain familiars here and have a number of unique powers.

The Archetypes of the witch are called Entropic Spirals here. There are the Spiral of Life, Spiral of Fate, Spiral of Bewitching, and Spiral of Glamour. There is a list of spells, with an expansion to cover Xanathar's Guide.   

Appendix A covers a sorcerous origin for witches. Appendix B details the author's thoughts on the creation of this class; namely Terry Pratchett's Discworld and Mage: The Ascension. 

Some neat ideas and I like the sorcerous origin.

Class: The Witch by Calum Brough

This PDF is 11 pages (1 cover, 1 table,  2 pages of spell list).  I don't recall if I paid $1.02 for this or $1.27. Either way right around my ten cents per page.  There is no art. 

This class is designed to be an arcane variant or compliment to the Druid.  A full 20 levels (as expected) with spellcasting to the 9th level of spells.  This class is a Charisma-based spell caster. There are some witch powers here, some are copied over from the druid.

The Archetypes for this witch are the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  Each archetype has some nice powers to go along with it.  There are no new spells.



Each of these comes close to the idea of the witch, but not the ideal witch. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

After watching the "Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman" I remembered an old flick from the 70s called "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)."  The werewolf reminded a bit of this flick so I thought I'd dig it up. I had not seen it in years.  

The movie feels like a "Hardy Boys" episode to be honest. Maybe it is how it is filmed.  The acting is not great.  At least Kerwin Mathews ("Robert") is good, but the kid Richie, played by Scott Sealey, isn't.  He has not been in anything else.  George Gaynes makes a cameo as a psychiatrist but is still a decade away from his role in Police Academy.

The movie is a bit slow really.  The only interesting thing about it is some of the werewolf bits (the extended forefinger was very memorable) and the hippie commune.  Now I had memories of these groups. They are obviously Christian of some sort, but they also have some odd things about them, belief in reincarnation and five-pointed stars (not exactly a pentagram, though that is what they call it) on their cross.  I distinctly recall them being more pagan than they are here.  It was the 70s and all sorts of freaky weird shit happened then.  Bob Homel, looking like a hippie John Goodman, delivers a memorable performance as Brother Christopher is what was going to be one of his last roles.   Actually, Brother Christopher is my favorite character. 

The werewolf transformations are pretty good for 1973, we are still a decade away from the genre-defining "American Werewolf in London."

Oh, and since it was the 70s cars explode the second they go off the road.

So the father is bit by a werewolf and now is one.  The only one that knows is the kid. 

What follows is fairly typical werewolf mayhem.

This one makes the connection between werewolf and Satanism more explicit. The scene where the hippies create a circle and Robert can't enter is an interesting one. I am not sure if it is interesting because it keeps the werewolf out or because of the combination of Christian and New Age beliefs.  

The movie is not exactly as I remember it, but it was better than I had hoped for.

Watched: 35
New: 24

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
Werewolves are easy enough, it's the group of Christian Pagans that has me the most intrigued.  I'd likely give Druids the same chance to turn lycanthropes like Clerics do undead.  Though I would make them a little more effective than Brother Christopher was.

Maybe include a sect of Theosophists that are Christopagan
So it's nearly 50 years later, Brother Christopher has passed, but he trained an elite force of Christo-pagan-hippies that travel the remote areas of the West Coast to the Rockies protecting the unwary from monsters like werewolves and sasquatches.  They seem like a group of burnouts, but really they are an effective group.  

Richie though has passed the curse on...

Monstrous Monday: Hyrrokkin Hag

Here is one I have been playing around with for a while now.  I am converting her from my d20 3.5 stats, so I hope it works out. 

Here is a monster that combines two great tastes that go great together, Norse Mythology and Werewolves.  Plus after watching some werewolf movies last night (and one tonight) it would be fun. 

Hag, Hyrrokkin

Large Fey (Hag)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Wolf form: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+24** (64 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws or bite or spells
Damage: 1d8+4 x2 or 1d8+2 or by spell
Special: Witch spells (7th level), werewolf shape, damaged by silver
Size: Large
Save: Witch 8
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (but no silver)
XP: 1,750

The Hyrrokkin Hags are believed to be the offspring of the great Jotun witch Hyrrokkin.  They can be identified by their pale skin, yellow eyes, and yellow hair.  They stand close to 9 ft. tall and are extremely strong (Strength 20).  They are known to keep wargs and dire wolves as servants and pets. Like their legendary mother, they will ride a warg the size of a war-horse.

Hyrrokkin Hags are fiercely territorial and will not suffer anyone to be in their self-proclaimed territories, especially other hags. While theoretically, they could form coveys with other hags, their hatred of them precludes this.  

They can transform into a large wolf or wolf hybrid as per a werewolf.  In this form, they can even transmit lycanthropy which gives them the sobriquet of "Mother of Werewolves."  Anyone with lycanthropy that sees a Hyrrokkin Hag must make a save vs. spells or be charmed as per the spell.

They can cast spells as per witch of the 7th level, but they have no occult powers.  If their spells are insufficient they can also attack with powerful claws or a bite.  This can be done in any form. They may only cast spells in Hag form.

These hags are damaged by silver, not by cold iron as their cousins.  Also, no treasure horde of a Hyrrokkin Hag will have silver.  One clue that a Hyrrokkin Hag has attacked a group is if all their treasure is gone save for their silver.


DMSGuild Witch Project: Vesper Burjoski's Witches

This week I am going back to looking at pure Witch classes.  Today I am grabbing two PDFs from Vesper Burjoski.  One of a class and one of the additional subclasses.   

For these DMSGuild classes, I am going to still follow my own rules and guidelines to make sure I am giving these a fair review.

The Witch: 5e Class

This is the base witch class.  The PDF sells for $2.00 and has 24 pages (1 cover, 23 pages of content) so well over my 10 cents per page guideline.  This PDF also looks nice, making good use of layout and art. 

This witch is a charism based caster with wisdom as the ability to cover other abilities.  She also has a lot of nice background information. This witch casts similar to a warlock but is limited to the 5th level.  This makes her similar to the Hedge Witches I have reviewed in the past.   This witch also has magical tattoos called kennings that provide powers.   I'll give it to this witch class, it has a lot of really cool features.

The archetypes are known as Coven-Keepers, Mediums, and Transmaurge. Each has some neat features including some additional spells.  Coven-Keepers draw on their covens which can include other spell casters.  Mediums speak with ancestral or fey spirits. It might work well, thematically, with some warlock multiclassing.  The Transaurge alters and changes animals around them.  A really cool idea to be honest.

Speaking of multiclassing there is even a section on multiclassing this witch. 

Next up are the Kennings, or the tattoos with power. Mechanically they work a bit like Occult Powers,  Hexes, or Invocations.  The kennings have a solid witchy feel to them. 

There are no new spells (but not really needed) and five NPC witches.

All in all you get a lot for your $2.00.  

The Witch: 3 New Subclasses

This PDF provides three new witch subclasses. This is 11 pages with a PWYW suggestion of $1.00, so again right at that 10 cents a page.  The subclasses are, The Wortwitch (which the author also calls a Hedge witch), the Fatalist, and the Rambler.  The DMSGuild page does a great job of detailing the various sub-classes. 

Like his previous witch book, this one has a lot of flavor to it.   There are also more Kennings in this pdf as well.  

Both PDFs together come in at $3.00 and over 30 pages. 

The author has other pdfs on DMSGuild too. I might need to check them out.
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