Friday, June 30, 2023

Friday Night Videos: Songs of the WASTED LANDS

Nothing gets me in the mood for working on a campaign or writing new material quite like a good playlist.

My memories of old-school gaming are inexorably linked to old-school rock and metal. In fact back in the 1980s we would stop our games if a particular video, mostly Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, came on MTV.

So here is a playlist from Jason Vey, author, and lead designer for the Wasted Lands RPG currently in Kickstarter.


Kickstart Your Weekend: Wasted Lands and Sherwood

A couple of Kickstarters close to my heart today.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Role Playing Game

A tabletop RPG of cosmic horror, swords, and sorcery in a savage lost epoch, 1000 years after the Old Ones fell to their eternal sleep.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Core RulesWasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Campaign Guide

I have been talking about this Kickstarter all month, and now it is live. Please check it out and give Jason your support.

Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood 5E

Sherwood 5e

Adam Thompson, brother of the late Jonathan Thompson, has taken over Battlefield Press and plans to get Jonathon's unfinished work completed.  And I, for one, could not be happier.

Jonathan was a great guy, and he had such a love for RPGs and everything about them. It is great knowing that there are still guys like Jonathan and Adam for every crappy person in this biz you meet.

I have only gotten to know Adam over the last few days, and he also seems like a great guy.  I can think of nothing more fitting than getting all of BPI's projects out there for gamers to enjoy.

Sherwood, here is something that should have been a no-brainer. Robin Hood, for D&D. Yeah. Let's make this one happen!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 30

Runu and Urnu lead the characters from room 27, to another room behind the statue of Orcus to where there is another statue of the Vampire Queen.

The Vampire Queen

Here she appears in her human guise. The statue is 20ft tall. 

Her hands are damaged, and on closer inspection, it appears that there were once rings on her fingers that have been chipped away.  One ring on her left hand still has a place for a setting, but no stone.

Runu and Urnu will say that by placing the Eye of Orcus into the setting the secret door to the next level will open. It symbolizes the "marriage" of the Vampire Queen to the Demon Lord.  Runu will state that "they were lovers, you see." in a dreamy way that makes you doubt her sanity.

Climbing up to place the Eye into her ring should not be difficult for a thief but a climb walls roll can be used. Grant them a +15% to success. 

Once the stone is placed in the ring an opening at the feet of the statue will open and a gust of hot fetid air will rush out.  If the gem is removed, the opening closes. Anything used to prop it open with be crushed. The closing doors themselves are heavy and weighted. Anyone caught in the doors when the close will take 5d12+25 hp of damage. The weights can be countered but only on the other side of the door on level 7.  Tying a rope around the gem to pull it in afterwards will not work.

Runu and Urnu want the gem. They are willing to fight for it but not die for it. They will mention a rumor of a secret exit on the Vampire Queen's tomb that would allow her to ascend to the surface without dealing with everything in between.

If worst comes to worst Runu and Urnu can kill the PCs, but they don't want too. Whoever is killed while in possession of the Eye of Orcus will haunt the killers.  So if the PC killed Urnu or Runu not only will the survivor try to kill them, they will also be haunted by the dead shadow elves.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: Runu & Urnu

 One of the features of The Wasted Lands is the inclusion of the O.R.C.S. games system that first appeared in Spellcraft & Swordplay.  While the Wasted Lands uses the advanced O.G.R.E.S. for rules, it does include a chapter on using the O.R.C.S. as well. This gives the Wasted Lands a solid Old-School background and indeed a good OSR one with one of the very first clones ever made. 

I have been talking about Shadow Elves all month long, I thought it might be good to bring two of my Shadow Elf, or Dökkálfar characters to life.  I also want to compare them to their Spellcraft & Swordplay counterparts.

Runu & Urnu

Runu and Urnu are reoccurring characters in my various game. They were "born" while I was walking to the Daley Plaza "El" station (which is actually underground at that point). From here I imagined two evil drow elves, exiled from their society not because they were good, but because of their perversions in necromancy. As children, they were raised by my Necromancer Magnus and became devotees of Orcus.  They became two of my first playtest characters for Eldritch Witchery

They are twins, already a bad sign among the drow, with Runu being slightly older than her brother Urnu. I further make their "inversions" complete by making Runu a warlock and Urnu a witch.

These are not misunderstood drow. They are evil. They are the type that reasons that if someone doesn't do what they want, they can always kill them and get their corpse to do it. 

In my playtests for Monster Mash for OSE they became Shadow Elves with Runu as a Profane Necromancer, and Urnu as a Gothic Witch. 

In the Wasted Lands, they are a Necromancer and Sorcerer, respectively. 


Class: Necromancer
Level: 10
Species: Dökkálfar

Alignment: Dark Evil


Strength: 11 (0)
Agility: 12 (0)
Toughness: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 15 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 35 (10d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+2
Melee Bonus: +2
Ranged Bonus: +2
Saves: +5 to Persona based

Special Abilities and Spell-Like Abilities

Channel the Dead
See Dead People
Summon the Dead
Command (Spirits)
Protection from Undead
Turn Undead 
Taste The Grave
Death Knell
Vampiric Touch
Charm Spirit
Life Drain
Slay Unliving
Call the Reaper

Divine Notes: Death

Background: Outsider


Leather armor: DV 8
Dagger: 1d4


Class: Sorcerer (Wits Aspect)
Level: 10
Species: Dökkálfar

Alignment: Dark Evil


Strength: 12 (0)
Agility: 11 (0)
Toughness: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N
Wits: 17 (+2) A
Persona: 17 (+2)  N

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 30 (10d4)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+2
Melee Bonus: +2
Ranged Bonus: +2
Saves: +5 to Magic based

Special Abilities

Arcana, Arcane Powers


1st: Bane, Black Flames, Phantom Lights, Sleep

2nd: Defile, Find Traps, Invisibility, Vampiric Augmentation

3rd: Fly, Globe of Darkness, Zone of Protection vs. Good

4th: Black Tentacles, Kiss of the Succubus, Life Drain

5th: Commune w/ Deeper Dark, Shadow Armor

Arcane Powers

1st: Arcane Bond: Runu (and spell of "self" also affect her)

4th: Exorcist

7th: Incubus

10th: Shadow Walking

Divine Notes: Death, Witchcraft,

Background: Outsider

Urnu and Runu

Neither have divine touchstones since this is not their destiny.

Like this The Wasted Lands can be played as a gritty Swords & Sorcery game. 

Don't forget to check out the Kickstarter happening right now.

This Old Dragon: Issue #261

Dragon #261
I have a few of my original Dragons left from my big box of old musty Dragons I acquired a few years back. I recently picked up a couple more collections in my desire to explore more of the 1990s and AD&D 2nd Edition.  The 90s were an interesting time for me. I began the 90s living in the dorms at my University working on my undergrad degrees and I ended the 90s married, a new baby, and working my first Ph.D. Quite a lot of difference. I also in that time "gave up on" D&D and moved to other games; something I can relate to again now.  But for right now let's focus on this issue #261 from July of 1999 of This Old Dragon.

Our cover is an amazing one from Fred Fields and his nod to Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."  For this one, "The Birth of Night" Fields had his then-girlfriend (now wife) Sandy do the modeling.  I remember this from back then and I really liked then, still do. 

Dragons from this time period are very different than the ones I have done in the past. This Dragon (and many from the 3rd edition era when I picked it back up) was published by Wizards of the Coast, has a bunch of names I don't normally associate with Dragon (but with other RPG products), and the format has all sorts of changes. All in all, this is going to be just as much as an adventure as ones from the 1970s or early 1980s.

One new thing. Lots and lots of websites! Sadly many are no longer active. 

We get a big ad for the Planescape Torment video game. 

The Wyrm's Turn is the Editorial section that discusses this issue's theme, The Dark. Dave Gross is the editor at this time. 

Fun ad for the 25th Anniversary tour. We are reminded throughout that this is the 25th Anniversary of D&D. We are nearly at 50 now. 

Sage Advice is still here and Skip Williams offers a lot of advice about various AD&D 2nd Ed rule questions.  I half expected to see this one phased out, but there was still a need for it and not everyone was on the Internet just yet (but close). I do have to point out that Sage Advice is still by postal mail. No email address yet. I am sure this will change sometime in the next few months.

The letters section is now D-Mail. They DO have an email address you can use along with the standard postal one. It might even still be active. Just to be 100% clear, I am not sure when a lot of these changes happened, I had what we called "Grad School Guilt." That is where if you read anything not directly related to your subject matter caused a lot of guilt. So I was not reading Dragon all that much from like 1992 on until the 2000s. Oh. The letters. Right. So in something else of a red letter day for me, I recognize one the names of someone that sent in a letter! So Joe Kushner, I hope you got your answer! Later on in the same feature, I see another name I recognize from online interaction.  D-Mail is long, longer than the letters section used to be.

The general consensus in D-Mail is that Dragon Magazine has improved with Wizard's purchase of TSR. While of course they are going to publish that, and yes there is plenty of evidence to support this claim, I would personally pick the magazine back up in subscription about a year or so from this issue.

Nodwick appears as a comic strip on page 13. An order form for back issues of Dragon with issue #70 as the earliest one you can still get. $8.00 and it can be yours. This is about to get less attractive as we will see later in this issue.

Ray Winninger is up with the Dungeoncraft column. This covers building something for your game. This one starts with the notion of building up the PC's base of operations. He covers some rumors and other background building of the area and ends with a map of the tree base. Rather interesting really and set up to be easily added to anyone campaign or game. In fact I am not seeing anything here that could not be used in an OSR game or a 5e game. 

Dungeoncraft Dragon #261

George Vrbanic is next with the PC Portraits feature. This time 14 pictures of Dwarves. An ad for Baldur's Gate follows.

We get to our themed featured articles now.  Up first, Wizards of Dusk & Gloom by Tony Nixon. This covers some options for the AD&D Player's Options books. I actively disliked the Skills & Powers books. That being said these options and kits are pretty cool and add a lot of flavor to the wizard class. There are three options here, the Shadow Caller, the Shadow Seeker, and the Shadow Hunter. There might some 3e equivalent prestige classes out there or some 5e subclasses. There are also three "Books of Shadows" which gives us 17 new shadow-based spells. From what I can tell these spells did make it to the giant Spell Compendiums released by Wizards.

Dragon #261 Ads
An interesting set of ads. A single page with a bunch of companies and their web addresses. Among them are Guardians of Order (with a Sailor Moon book), Eden Studios (featuring the Abduction Card game), and RPGnet.  

By Any Other Name covers Dwarven Names from Owen K.C. Stephens. A fun little set of tables to build a new dwarf name. 

Objet d' Art is from Dawn Ibach and details the types of treasure you can find in a hoard. Very detailed and quite extensive really. Also can be used in any edition of the game.

Our fiction section is from J. Gregory Keyes, The Fallen God

Me and My Shadow continues our Shadow and Dark feature.  This article is by Spike Y. Jones. This covers a number of shadow-centric magic items.  This flows into the next article Conjuring in the Dark. This covers 13 new shadow-based spells. 

Johnathan M. Richards is next with an Ecology of... article, this time Ecology of the Dark Naga. The article seems longer that the previous Ecology articles. While it seems more detailed than the previous ones from the Golden Age, but lacking some of the charm of the old Ed Greenwood ones. Though this one is good, just not sure if the fiction elements live up to the rest of the article. Call me weird, but my preferred Ecology of articles always treated their subject as some sort of scholarly discussion. 

Ecology of the Dark Naga

Peter Whitley gives us something that will be something more and more common; AD&D monsters from a computer game. This time some monster from Myth: The Fallen Lords. There are four new monsters in AD&D Monstrous Compendium format.

John Kovalic is up with Dork Tower

A Little Bit of Magic from Lloyd Brown III covers how to measure out magic items in a campaign to keep it from going too Monty Haul.  Examples include magic items with Noncombat Effects, Intermittent Effects, Self-Destructive, Limited Time periods, and items with charges. Advice is given to avoid armor and weapons with pluses to all things.  So a sword +1 is great but it means you will need bigger and better (and more magical) ones later. A sword that just +1 vs say undead keeps the players excited for any magical sword. Or armor that is magically light, but doesn't provide any better protection than normal armor of the same sort. While it was far to late in the game for me at this point, this would have been good advice for me to revisit later on in the 3e and 5e days.

In something that seems really familiar, some Marvel characters. Though this time the Marvel SAGA system (if I am remembering correctly). This time we get Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey) and Phoenix (Rachel Summers) writeups from Jeff "Zippy" Quick and Steve Miller.

Role Models gives us some Alternity alien minis. 

The Convention Calendar gives us the best conventions for the Summer of 1999. A couple of things to note for me. There is a Capitol Con XV at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield, IL. That not only was not very far from where I grew up, it was new when I still lived there! I don't think I ever knew about it. Despite it being listed in Dragons before. I can't find any more details on it. Interestingly enough there are listings for August, but Gen Con is not one of them. 

The Ares section is back, this time with Alternity branding. Stephen Kenson (of Green Ronin fame) is up with The Twilight Jungle. This not only continues the magazine's main theme, but the aliens here look very much like something you could find on Pandora from Avatar, only 10 years before the movie came out. The article is fun but highlights the fact that I always wanted to try out Alternity. Something about it just always grabbed me and I just never got the chance to play it or even read it much.  Maybe one day I'll get back to it. 

Dragon Mirth has our comics of the month, plus a sort of find a word puzzle that looks fun. There is a Love Canal joke that I am not sure many would get these days. 

Knights of the Dinner Table has a two-page spread. 

TSR Previews (yes it is still called that) gives us new products for the next couple of months. A few books listed still have their concept covers. Of note are the Forgotten Realms interactive atlas (which I never owned) and the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM which I grabbed the moment I could from my FLGS, which was now for me actually local (and the same one I still use today). A few novels including two I would later read; Ru Emerson's "Against the Giants" (which I only sorta liked) and Ed Greenwood's "Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters" (which I enjoyed more than I thought I would).

TSR News lets us know that the 25th Anniversary Edition boxed set will be released in August. Better grab one of these while you can, the after-market prices are going to crazy! In other news, Gary Gygax will be at Gen Con in August, running games, holding seminars and signing copies of the 25th Anniversary boxed set. 

Finally in Profiles, Steve Kenson gives us some background on cover artist Fred Fields.

So really a good issue. I had a lot of apprehension about approaching this era of Dragon/TSR. I can recall sitting on my couch reading one of the first WotC-produced TSR Ravenloft books and thinking maybe the company and game I had enjoyed for so long but was feeling quite apathetic too was turning around. This issue of Dragon redoubles that. There is a sense of optimism for the future of the game that I had not personally experienced in the late 90s and did really feel until the 3rd Edition Era.  Wizard of the Coast did save D&D and the proof is in these pages.

While many will debate the various "ages" of the game; when was the Golden Age, when did the "Silver Age" begin and what was the time post-Gygax and pre-WotC? One thing for certain for me is that the time between say 1994 and 1999 is a big mystery to me that I did not get to investigate in any detail until I got my Dragon Magazine CD-ROM. Even that only took me to Issue #250.

Dragons in print and pdf

For this new exploration of Dragons, I am setting my "end date" as Issue #275. It's a nice number, it takes us just inside the changes for 3e and it was just before I resumed my subscription.  I guess by that logic I am setting my "starting" Issue at #151 or so. I have already done some past that. 

Personally, I think these "newer" Dragons will be every bit as interesting to me as the ones from the late 70s and early 80s.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 29

 Archway 5, Room 29: The Chamber of the Shadows

The last room on the right (or the first if going counter-clockwise) opens up to another dark chamber.

Room 29

This room is filled with shadows. The shadows are thick and suffocating, and they seem to move of their own accord. The only sound in the room is the sound of the party members' breathing. As the party moves in, they notice a glow on a dias set up on the far end of the room. The stillness is interrupted with a light murmuring and muttering they can't quite place.

Soon the muttering grows to a persistent babble.

On an initiative roll the party is attacked by four of the shadows. 

These shadows are Allips. Like all other undead these Allips are harder to turn. They are turned as 5 HD undead.

There is no treasure in this room. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: The Dark Elves of the Wasted Lands

 The Wasted Lands Kickstarter is up and moving along nicely.  As you can imagine from my posts here, I do have a campaign in mind and potentially my own setting. BUT that is far off and in no way official yet.

But I can play around with ideas. One thing I need to overcome first is this:

How do I get my D&D 5e players away from D&D and into the Wasted Lands?

Wasted Lands > D&D 5

Look. I love D&D, I do. But in the last six months, I have been turned off and looking for other options. I have presented some of those options here and I do have more. One today is can I use the Wasted Lands as a Dungeons & Dragons replacement?

Jason has touched on this topic on his blog; Will Wasted Lands Be a Retroclone? But I want to go a step deeper. And in particular, can I use the various races/species that my D&D 5 players are wanting to play? Again, Jason touches on this, Races (Species) in Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age, but while his rationale is to move WL away from D&D (and a good rationale it is too) I am using the same logic to give my players a D&D experience with better rules.

To do this I want to start out with something on my mind a lot this month, my Shadow Elves.

The Wasted Lands has al sorts of human-like species running around and to be clear these humans are not the humans like you and I. They operate in and occupy the same ecological niche as do humans and maybe, just maybe, they pass on something (DNA, Collection Unconsciousness, the Akashic Records) down the millennia to us. This is why we remember them as gods. Though not all characters will become gods, as I pointed out yesterday

So to kill a few birds with one stone, I want to talk about the Dökkálfar of the Wasted Lands today.

The Dökkálfar, or the Dark Elves, are not to be confused with the D&D Drow, though obviously, there are connections. Since elves, the fae and other near-immortal creatures have drifted into myth and legend there is no reason not to assume that they once lived during the Dreaming Age.

Appendix 1 of the Wasted Lands Core Rules gives us examples of how to make other species. This might change a bit, but here is how I'd implement a Dark Elf, or more to the point, one of my Shadow Elves.


Size: Medium (5 feet tall)
Vitality Die: As class.
Saves: Dökkálfar gain +1 to Persona saves, +1 to Agility saves, and +2 to save against spells and effects that read or transmit thoughts or emotions.
Move: 30 ft.
Senses: Dökkálfar have darksight, enabling them to see in near-absolute dark for up to 60 feet. This sight functions in all but the most absolute darkness; so long as there is any ambient light, they can see, albeit fine details may be difficult to discern in the darkest caverns.
Weapons and Armor: Dökkálfar are proficient with all bows and swords. They can wear armor up to chain mail.
XP Cost: 1,750

Urnu and Runu

All other details are, in a sense, cosplay.

Do they have pointy ears? What color is their skin, hair, eyes? What sort of society do they have?

None of that needs to be handled by the rules. It can be determined at your table. The rules are "old school," but the spirit is "new school."  Want to play Dragonborn? Aarocka? goblins? orcs? SURE! come on in. The rules are not going to stop you.

Are these Dökkálfar the Chaotic Evil Drow that everyone loves? Maybe. Are they my Lawful Evil Drow? Could be. Are they my Shadow Elves? Again, it could be. It will depend on the campaign at hand. 

Likely I will make them similar enough to my Shadow Elves so that when I finally get done with my Tomb of the Vampire Queen adventure, I can use these Dökkálfar in place of the Shadow Elves.

Tomorrow I'll put this into practice and convert some Spellcraft & Swordplay characters to Wasted Lands.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 28

Archway 4, Room 28: The Chamber of the Mirrors

This room is just to the right of the central passageway.

Room 28

This room is filled with mirrors. The mirrors are all different sizes and shapes, and they are all covered in dust. The only light in the room comes from the mirrors, and the reflections of the party members are distorted and twisted.

As the party approaches the mirrors, several of their reflections jump out.

For every party member, there are 3 "reflections" in truth, Galley Beggars. They look like distorted versions of the characters but do not have their powers or weapons. Their only attack is their scream.

Their bones, a huge pile of them, are located under a mirror on the floor.

Within the bones are gems, one for each Galley Beggar, worth 25 gp.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: Raven, Swordsmistress of Chaos

Getting back to some Wasted Lands playtesting, I wanted to try a different character and a character whose ultimate goal doesn't end as becoming one of the Gods we know but rather a legendary figure.

Let's take the example of Raven, the Swordsmistress of Chaos.

Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos

I talked a bit about Raven in the past, but here is a summary/recap.

Back in 1987, I was a freshman in college. My then Favorite Local Game Store was also my Favorite Local Used Book Store.  They sold new books, used books as well as new and old gamebooks.  I got a copy of the first printing Deities & Demigods here along with scores of old copies of Dragon and White Dwarf. One book they always prominently displayed was the American versions of Raven Swordsmistress of Chaos.

I never grabbed the book but as an 18-year-old guy, I always was attracted to the covers. I even had a character named Raven, who like the cover, was blonde and had a pet raven.  I was vaguely aware there were more books in the series but never knew how many. 

Over the last couple of years, I have been on a quest to find and read all the Raven books by "Richard Kirk" who was, in reality, the pen name of authors Angus Wells and Robert Holdstock.  Both wrote Book 1, and then they alternated with Wells on Books 3 and 5 and Holdstock on Books 2 and 4.

Well, I succeeded in my quest and I found them all and read them.
While they are not...good...they are fun little romps in late 70s Swords and Sorcery (and Sex, but not as much as the Corgi covers hint at). Sometimes described as a mildly ribald Red Sonja or a less ribald Ghita Of Alizar. The books, however perfect for game fodder. 

Raven as a Legendary Figure

While Raven is the cover girl and the eponymous main character, the warlock Spellbinder narrates and tells the events many years after the fact. Even the scenes where he was not present.

The story Raven begins with that of a runaway slave girl named Su'ann. She is rescued by a mysterious warlock-like character named Spellbinder, who recognizes that she is "the pivot on which the world turns" partially because she is also protected by giant raven, and he senses something in her. 

Spellbinder and Su'ann, now calling herself "Raven," hook up with a band of outlaws and pirates.  They go from adventure to adventure, but all the time, Raven is training with swords, spears, and what would become her "trademark," a set of throwing stars.  It was the 70s, man.  Raven, though is not training out of boredom, nor even for the higher purpose fate seems to have, but is very vague about, for her.  She wants to kill her former slave owner, the Swordsmaster Karl Ir Donwayne.  

The story is a simple one, but close to many FRP gamers. Raven wants to kill Karl Ir Donwayne. How is it going to do that? Well, they need to Skull of Quez to appease this ruler to get to Donwayne. But they have to find the mysterious island first and then kill some beastmen. And there are shadowy loners, men with mysterious pasts. Raven jumps in and out of bed with Spellbinder, Gondar the Pirate captain, and even Krya M'ystral, the Queen and sister of the ruler they were trying to go see.  This is all in the first book.  There is a nice gory battle with Karl Ir Donwayne too, but he comes back in future books to bother Raven some more.

It is very much a pastiche of Swords & Sorcery (& Sex) in a world lost to time. So perfectly set up for the Dreaming Age of the Wasted Lands.

Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos books

Raven as a Character

Raven is a "pivot point" of Fate, an agent of chaos. She is, however, not "evil," so the traditional D&D Basic/BECMI alignment system doesn't work for her very well. She has no supernatural powers to speak of, but she is able to complete some feats of skill and combat that go beyond what is expected. Her raven guide is one example, her ability to master a number of weapons quickly is another.  For a while, I thought she was akin to a NIGHT SHIFT "Chosen One" (and the similarities she shares with Buffy are pretty strong).  I was reading over author/designer Jason Vey's posts about Class Abilities and customization that got me thinking that a Divine instrument character is also a good fit for the Would-Be/Could-Be gods that I have discussed already.

I have a concept. I have some good ideas. What Class in Raven?

The natural choice is "Warrior"; she is obviously that. But "Renegade" is also a great choice.

I could multi-class her, starting out in Renegade and advancing as Warrior. I could use some very limited Divine Touchstones to give her some flavor of the other classes. 

I could even bring in the "Chosen One" class from NIGHT SHIFT. Since they are 100% rules compatible. 

In the Wasted Lands RPG, there is an Appendix for character point buy building. Essentially you pick and choose the ability you want your "class" to have and build it up that way. Except there is no class and no class level, every ability has a level.  

Raven has aspects of Warrior, aspects of Renegade, and even some Chosen One and Survivor (both from Night Shift).

So, what can Raven do?  Going through the list of abilities, I see Raven is very close to the Night Shift Chosen One and the Wasted Lands Warrior, minus a few abilities and adding a few more. Her abilities are:

Brutal Warrior (Leveled) (10 xp per scaled)
Melee Combat (5 xp)
Stunning Blow (10 xp)
Killing Blow (15 xp)
Supernatural Attacks (5 xp)
Sixth Sense (5 xp)
Improved Defense (5 xp)
Ranged Combat (5 xp)
Extra Attack (2) (15 xp per)
Vitality Dice 1d8 (Leveled) (5 xp)

Plus, the following from Renegade and Survivor:

Stealth Skills (Leveled) (10 xp per scaled)
Climbing (10 xp per)
Sneak Attack x3 (5 xp per)

Each one of these abilities has an XP value attached to it and some are "leveled." I *could*, in theory, keep all of these leveled ones at the same levels and build an XP advancement for her custom "class," but keeping them all on separate "levels" allows even greater customization. She has some stealth skills, but despite being a pirate at times, being a "thief" is not part of her history. Sure, she does do it, but her prowess with a sword (Brutal Warrior) and throwing stars (Ranged Combat) is more important.

I wanted to ensure she gets Supernatural Attacks since she fights zombies/the undead and even a "God." Though this god is more akin to the servants of the Old Ones or an Old One himself.

Other Abilities

These are great, and I love how it is all working out together. But what about her other abilities? Such as the part about being an agent of Fate, or her raven companion?  In other words, what makes her a Wasted Lands character and not just a generic D&D fighter?

Simple. This is exactly what the Divine Touchstones are for.

Raven has not overt magic. She doesn't even have supernatural abilities other than what is stated above. But there is something...extra about her.  The Divine Touchstones allow me to codify these.  For this I am sticking with the ones in the Core Rules.  I can see her getting a +1 to melee combat (to cover how she was already a capable fighter), a Favored Weapon benefit for her throwing stars, and of course a "Spirit Guide" in the form of her raven.

Putting it all Together

Putting this together, I get a great customized character that perfectly fits the concept of what I want.

Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos
Raven, Swordsmistress of Chaos

Class: Custom (XP buy)
Level: 6
Species: Human (Primate)

Alignment: Light Neutral (Twilight leaning)

Strength: 16 (+2) A
Agility: 17 (+2) N
Toughness: 15 (+1) N
Intelligence: 12 (+0)
Wits: 13 (+1)
Persona: 17 (+2)

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 30 (6d8 +6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +7 (see below)
Ranged Bonus: +4 (Throwing Stars +5) (see below)
Saves: +2 to all


Brutal Warrior (Level 6) (10 xp per scaled)
Melee Combat (5 xp)
Stunning Blow (10 xp)
Killing Blow (15 xp)
Supernatural Attacks (5 xp)
Sixth Sense (5 xp)
Improved Defense (5 xp)
Ranged Combat (Level 2) (5 xp per)
Extra Attack (2) (15 xp per)
Vitality Dice 1d8 (Level 6) (5 xp per)
Stealth Skills (Leveled) (10 xp per scaled)
Climbing (10 xp per)
Sneak Attack x3 (5 xp per)

Divine Touchstones
1st: +1 Melee Combat
2nd: Favored Weapon (Throwing Stars)
3rd: Spirit Guide (Raven)

Divine Notes: Agent of Fate
Background: Former Slave

Sword, leather armor, buckler, daggers, throwing stars, net

Ok! I like how she worked here. These are superior to her BECMI stats I did a while back. While she made for an interesting Dungeons & Dragons character, her nature and her world are much more similar to the Wasted Lands than they say to Mystara, the Forgotten Realms, or Krynn.

This also shows off how powerful the customization is in the Wasted Lands RPG. Any character concept is possible. This sort of customization is more "expensive" than, say a by-the-book character, but I am fine with that, to be honest, to get the character I want.

Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 27

Archway 3, Room 27: The Chamber of the Vampire Queen Altar to Orcus

The central passage way leads you to the grand temple dedicated to both the Vampire Queen and to Orcus.  Though one only needs to look at the walls to see the main veneration here is to Darlessa the Vampire Queen.

Eye of Orcus

There are bodies of shadow elves, centuries dead covering the floors. There is not enough here to determine what killed them.

The columns of this room are all carved to resemble the Vampire Queen as if she is holding up this temple.  The back wall is dedicated to a large statue of Orcus, though his features here are more shadow elf in nature.  

In front of the statue of Orcus are Urnu and Runu from earlier in the adventure (Room 13). They are standing admiring the statue. When they hear you come in they turn and ask you to come and admire it with them.  When the party gets to them there are three shadow elves dead on the ground. 

They tell you that they killed the guards, adherents to an ancient religion forgot even to the high elves. They point to the statue and claim it was carved from a single piece of stone and that the artist apon completion marveled at it for many days straight unmoving. At the end of the seven day he took out a knife and cut his own throat knowing he would never do something again as magnificent. (if asked how they know, they will say it is a common enough story among shadow elves.)

They point to one ruby eye remaining. They will show the party the way to next level, they have no desire to get involved with the Vampire Queen, but they want the eye. They can't get it themselves due to a religious taboo that prevents them. (this is mostly true).

They is trapped and difficult to get too.

A thief will need to climb the statue and find and remove the two traps guarding it. 

The eye itself will need to be pried loose. 

Urnu and Runu want the eye. It is very magical and has a strong aura of necromancy about it. They tell the party they wish to return it to their own homeland where it can be put back where it came from. This is all true, but the eye is an evil artifact all the same. They promise to show the party where the secret exit is.

If the party agrees they take the eye and they show them to Room 30.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: Shayṭān and Ifrit

 Been spending a lot of time with Gods and monsters over the last few weeks. Today I wanted to continue that idea with some of the creatures in between. Also, I want to talk more about using monsters like these in the WASTED LANDS and NIGHT SHIFT RPGs.

Shayṭān and Ifrit
Your humble author surrounded by Shayṭān and Ifrit

Shayṭān and Ifrit

The wonderful thing about O.G.R.E.S. as presented in the WASTED LANDS and NIGHT SHIFT rules is how flexible it can be. Many monsters are simplified down to basic concepts.  A demon for example is give some basic power levels and then a number of powers that can be added or swapped out for nearly infinite variety. Even the name "demon" is flexible.

Here I think old-school players (and Game Masters) will recognize the foundations of many monsters and fans of modern horror RPGs will recognize the flexibility baked into the system.

While this means there is no great need for multiple Bestiaries, there is still utility in spelling some details out for players that need something quick.

Enter the Shayṭān.

I have been spending a lot of time going over the myths and legends of the world. They are all quite fascinating really, and while my love for the original AD&D Monster Manual knows no equal, one thing is clear, that the monsters depicted within pale in comparison to the monsters of myth. This is not really a slight. Space in the MM was limited, and there had to be a game focus.

Take the Effriti from the Monster Manual and to a lesser degree, the one from the D&D Expert Set. I mention the Expert set specifically because it's entry for Effriti was similar, but different enough, from the Monster Manual to make look into the creature more. The tantalizing and (in my mind) poorly explained "Lesser" also sent me out to explore more. 

These creatures are interesting, something of a cross between a devil and a fire elemental. Interesting enough to be featured as the cover of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. ut the Ifrit of myth are more interesting still.  

There is also no way I can do them justice here, but I would love to take a start at it.


The Shayṭān are a class of spirits corrupted by the Deeper Dark. They are, or were, predominantly elemental spirits like the Ifrit, Jinn, and Marid, but some are lesser spirits like the Qareen, and others still are greater spirits like Iblis.

In their corruption, they have become similar to demons, and many scholars will conflate the two. Indeed their methods and their purposes are also very similar.

Like the wind, Shayṭān will most often be invisible and intangible but can appear as various mundane creatures. The greatest power of the Shayṭān is to form bodies out of the base elements (fire, air, earth, water) to interact with humans, whom they tempt away from goodness.  For example, the Ifrit are the Shayṭān of fire. 

The typical Ifrit is a "Rank III demon," according to scholars. It has the following differences, it can only gate in lesser Shayṭān, not other demons. They are harmed by celestials, supernatural attacks, and Chosen Ones (NIGHT SHIFT). 


Iblis appears as an Ifrit of the largest size, but he can also appear as an angel/celestial or as a normal human. He is the ruler of all Shayṭān. 

No. Appearing: Unique
DV: 0
Move: 30ft. Fly: 60ft.
Vitality Dice: 22 (180 Vitality Points)
Special: 4 attacks (2 claws, bite, 1 great sword), Shayṭān abilities, Summon Rank I shayṭān 100%, Summon Rank II shayṭān 85%, Summon Rank III shayṭān 75%, Summon Rank IV shayṭān 60%, Fear gaze, spells, +3 or better weapon to hit, regeneration (4 vitality/round), see in darkness, telepathy 200 ft.

Iblis, sometimes referred to as the Great Duke, the Enemy, or even just The Shayṭān, is the ruler of all shayṭān. His preferred form is that of a normal man, sometimes in the guise of a priest, pilgrim or other holy man. He can also appear as an 18' ifrit surrounded by flames. He has a third form, that of an angelic being that some claim is his original form before he was corrupted. 

Ilis enjoys corrupting other mortals as he himself had been. He shares no love for the other denizens of the Deeper Dark and sees other shayṭān as his to control. He claims no kinship to any other group and maintains that he alone is the source of evil in the world (a dubious claim at best).

Iblis is very knowledgeable about magic and there is no spell that he does not know or have access to. Sorcerers often seek him out to learn secret lore, but the summoning of Iblis is a secret itself and to do so incorrectly invites his wrath.

Use in the Wasted Lands

In this game, Iblis and the Shayṭān are new to the world and are seeking out ways to control the minds, and souls, of the humans left here after the Old Ones have departed. 


Is this the same Iblis as the one from The Dreaming Age? Iblis himself seems to think so but plenty of scholars and occult philosophers point out that we know when he began to appear in myth and texts and say it is unlikely, save that this Iblis occupies the same concept as the Iblis before. Or they are indeed one and the same 

Use in Old-School Games (OSR, Dungeons & Dragons)

Iblis is on par with the powerful Arch-Dukes of Hell. In fact he is their rival in many things. Iblis considers the Arch Dukes to be "lesser copies" of himself and the Lords of Hell feel Iblis should be brought to heel as a renegade member of their ranks. Their multitude of similarities only heighten the minor differences they have.


Please don't forget to sign up for the WASTED LANDS Kickstarter beginning tomorrow!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 26

Room 26: The Chamber of the Blood Pool

Going back to Room 24 and taking the next left, this takes you to another dark chamber. 

Room 26

This room is dominated by a large stone pool in the middle of the floor. The pool is still filled with blood.

Upon entering the candles light and six ghostly figures appear. They come into focus as they light the candles, telling the party (in Elvish) that they welcome them and must prepare them for the bath. At this they take out long wicked-looking knives and they attack.

The ghosts are Umbrals, and they are former shadow elf maidservants to the Vampire Queen.

The umbrals can't harm anyone with their knives, but the wail of lament is another story.

The walls are covered in murals that tell the tale of how the Vampire Queen came to the Shadow Elves, slew thousands (she walks on their skulls), and enslaved the others. Other murals show this bathing room where the maidservants cut the throats of other shadow elves to fill the bath, where the Vampire Queen goes in looking like a monster and comes back out looking young and beautiful again. There are a few panels where the Vampire Queen can be seen striking her servants and drinking their blood. 

The umbrals have no treasure, but there are still the remains of some gowns in a dressing nook. They have gold threads and jewels totaling 3,000 gp. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 25

Archway 1, Room 25: The Hall of the Dead

This archway on the far left from Room 24 leads down to a dark chamber. 

Room 25

This room is filled with the bones of Shadow Elves (based on the skulls). The bones are piled high in heaps, and the floor is red-brown with what looks like dried blood. 

In the center of the room is a raised platform, on which is a sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is made of black marble, and it is covered in intricate carvings.  The writing is an ancient form of elvish with many words from the Chaotic alignment language added in. Bards, Elves and a magic can be used to decipher it.  It reads "Here lies Agartis, Commander of the Shadow Elf legions, left hand of his Dark Mistress, Darlessa, the Queen of Vampires."

If the party opens the sarcophagus inside, they will find a richly dressed warrior, who spares no time in getting up to attack.

The warrior is a Barrow Wight. He is armed with a +2 longsword and wears boots of spider climbing.

He turns as a 7 HD creature. 

When Agartis begins his second round, he will be joined by 3d4 skeletons. These skeletons also attack. They are turned as Zombies. 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 24

 The large statue of the Vampire Queen at then end of this hallway has two arched doorways that lead deeper into the greater temple. 

Room 24

From here are five other archways that lead to other chambers. There are two on the left, two on the right and the grand archway in between and straight ahead.  Going from left to right in a clockwise fashion:

(links go live on their posting day)

Archway 1, Room 25: The Hall of the Dead

Archway 2, Room 26: The Chamber of the Blood Pool

Archway 3, Room 27: The Chamber of the Vampire Queen Altar to Orcus

Archway 4, Room 28: The Chamber of the Mirrors

Archway 5, Room 29: The Chamber of the Shadows

This room is shaped like a pentagon with archways on the flat sides.

Before the party can choose a door, four ghostly figures manifest before them. 

The Ghosts are Schreckengeists, and they had been former adventurers. They have no physical attacks other than their scream, and they are harder to turn (turn as wights).

Friday, June 23, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Witches & Wasted Lands

 I have already featured these two, but I want to do them again.

This one has not launched yet, but the sign-up page is ready. Elf Lair is looking to get as many sign-ups as they can prior to launch.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Role Playing Game

A tabletop RPG of cosmic horror, swords, and sorcery in a savage lost epoch, 1000 years after the Old Ones fell to their eternal sleep.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Core RulesWasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Campaign Guide

I am very, very excited about this one. Although I am not really part of the development, I get the joy of seeing it in development and enjoy it as a fan. Plus, this has been Jason's baby for years, but I'll add my typical nonsense to my table. 

You can read more about what I am doing with the Wasted Lands here.

Witches of Midnight

Witches of Midnight

This one caught my eye a while back. I have read over the draft rules, and there is a lot here to digest.

While doing that, I will share an interview with the Witches of Midnight Team and let them tell you about this game.

Check them both out!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 23

 Continuing on the 9th alcove (5th one on the left) hides a secret door.  Opening it is easy, but it is obvious is not been opened in years. Once the door is found, it still takes a Strength of 18 to open.

Room 23

Inside this room is 500 GP, and seven gems worth 1,400 gp total.

Additionally, there is a dagger +2.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: War at the Gates of Dawn. Chaoskampf in your Games

One of the later additions to Dungeons & Dragons lore was that of the Dawn War. Introduced in 4e and detailed a bit more in The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea book, this war dealt with the war between the Gods and the Primordials at the Dawn of Time. Among other things, it leads to the creation of the Abyss, the devils, and more. It destroyed entire planes and creatures and built the shape of the D&D multiverse.

It is also nowhere near an original idea.

That is not a slight. In fact, it is a feature.

In studies of mythology, this is known as the Chaoskampf or the battle against Chaos. We see this in Greek Mythology as the Gods vs. the Titans. In Norse Mythology, as the Gods vs. the Giants. And in Sumerian Myths such as Marduk vs. Tiamat.  We even see it in Christian myths as God and the Angels vs. Satan and his followers. It features again in Ragnarok and Revelations. 

It is, quite literally, one of the oldest stories in the world.  The roots go back to Proto-Indo-European Gods and myths, but it is likely much, much older than that even. Jung would say it is something buried deep in our collective unconsciousness about imposing order over chaos.

It is also part and parcel of the Wasted Lands experience.

In the Wasted Lands, you play human (or near human) figures fighting back against the forces of chaos. The forces of chaos are the Old Ones, but these creatures and their minions are largely indistinguishable from the Titans, Giants, or even the Primordials of any number of myths and legends.

How does this all tie together? Easy really. 

Let's say you are a D&D fan (doesn't matter the edition) and you would like to play out this Dawn War (something I have done myself to great enjoyment). Why? Well it could be for fun, or for me it was to let the characters gain insight to what is happening in the world of the gods and this all came to them in a dream.  You can use the Wasted Lands RPG to accomplish this.

War at the Gates of Dawn

The War at the Gates of Dawn is my "serial numbers filed off" of the Dawn War. Though there is really no need for that since like I said, there are many of these in all mythologies and since it took place in (or at the beginning of) the Multiverse.

So how do you dothis? Easy.

Step 1: Choose Your Setting

This is the easiest; you are going to go back in time in your own D&D/Pathfinder/d20 game setting. I take the point of view that all the worlds that share similar gods began in one universe and then fractured at this point. 

Step 2: Choose Your Primordials/Titans

When I ran this before my Primordials were Vaprak, who late become Demogorgon, Tharizdûn, and the god that would become Orcus and Dispater. Additionally, I could use my concepts of Die Hüne from my Roma/Norse Pantheon.  But any Titans will do, really. I find Kaiju fit this role rather nicely.

Step 3: Choose your Gods, aka Characters

This will depend on your setting, but if you go with the notion that all Dawn Wars are THE Dawn War and all worlds come from a similar source, then you can go nuts. A place where Pelor, Odin, Isis, the Raven QueenBahamut, Selûne, and Sarenrae all fight side by side. In fact, I would say it is highly appropriate for all the gods of different myths (aka games) to come to this battle. 

I let my players choose the god their character worshipped, was closest to, or had a Pact with. 

Would-be Gods

Step 4: Go Nuts

Now the characters, either as 1st level or higher, need to battle the machinations of the Old One/Titans/Primordials. This makes the Dawn War/War at the Gates of Dawn a much longer conflict.

The Wasted Lands rules are VERY customizable. You can cleve very close to the D&D of your choice in terms of gameplay. The differences in the rules and the tone and tenor of them will give your "War at the Gates of Dawn" a different feel than your typical game, reinforcing how this is a different time.

My son is play-testing Wasted Lands with his D&D 5e group now, and they all claim that the rule differences make them feel like they are playing something "old and brand new" at the same time. The rules aid in the immersion of the game and help them get into their characters better. 

Now, could you get the same effect with, say Basic D&D or some other version of D&D/AD&D? Sure, but what you would be missing are the customizable rules of Wasted Lands and, of course, the Divine Touchstones that really set the characters apart. 

Doing it this way lets you start with the early days of the war and build up to what is really the biggest battle in all of D&D/Greek Myths/Norse myths or the myths of your own world. 

I ran this a while back it worked amazingly well. My oldest is doing it now in his own world where the players take on their favorite gods and have to battle the forces of chaos in the manifestation of The King in Yellow. If the shouts and cries I hear coming from our game room is any indication then it has been an epic success so far.

I think that encapsulates the Wasted Lands well. Simple in execution but epic in scope.  

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 6, Room 22

The entryway to the great temple is a long hallway. 

Room 22

The hallway stretches 75 feet. 

To the left and right every 15 ft is an alcove with a statute of the Vampire Queen in various poses. Most feature victims at her feet.

Close inspection, like the statute in front of the temple will reveal that these statues are of new construction and the remains of other statues can be found on the ground.  The statues appear to be of shadow elves but they are difficult to tell who or even what they once were.

Of the 10 alcoves, the third on the right has a hidden compartment with 2d4 gems worth 50gp each.

The other alcoves have similar compartments but all are empty.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Interview with the Witches of Midnight Team

Another great Kickstarter coming up this week, in fact live by the time you read this. 

Witches of Midnight

Witches of Midnight

This one caught my eye a while back. I have read over the draft rules, and there is a lot here to digest.

While doing that, I will share an interview with the Witches of Midnight Team and let them tell you about this game.

Tim Brannan/The Other Side: It is my pleasure today to be interviewing the team that is currently Kickstarting a new Witch-based RPG and Tarot deck, “Witches of Midnight” which you can find here, 

Before we get into all the questions, please introduce yourself and tell us your role on this team.

Witches of Midnight

WoM Gavin: Hi, I'm Gavin (they/them). I'm the lead developer, official Lore Weaver, and a co-author of Witches of Midnight. I've been developing tabletop games since 1993 (using the RandInt() function on a TI-84 Plus), but this is the first project that I've felt compelled to publish.

WoM Andrea: Hi, I'm Andrea (she/they). I'm the creative lead and a co-author of Witches of Midnight. This is my first project, but one very close to my heart. I am a practicing witch myself so it is really important to do right by all witches while designing this game.

TB/TOS: Fantastic! What are some of your favorite games? Why?

WoM: Our favorite games include: A Fistful of Darkness, Scum and Villainy, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Earthdawn,  Court of Blades, Brinkwood, Under the Autumn Strangely, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Vampire: Dark Ages.

We really like dark storytelling games with a supernatural element (what a surprise).

TB/TOS: So, tell us a bit about this game and what backers should be looking forward to when they get it.

WoM: Witches of Midnight is a modern "hopeful horror" narrative storytelling tabletop game that gives you all the tools you'll need to tell epic stories of witchcraft.

Midnight is a city shrouded in magical darkness that calls to witches from every corner of the planet. The Order will stop at nothing to register your abilities and take your greatest power, Wyld Magic.

The Kickstarter will include a 200+ page stand-alone core rulebook, a 100 card tarot deck and guidebook, and a set of six custom six-sided dice. We're also offering a “Powered by Witchcraft” enamel pin for anyone who pledges at a physical reward tier in the first 24 hours.

TB/TOS: What do you all feel makes Witches of Midnight different from games currently on the market? What do you say makes it special? Or, bottom line, why should people want to buy this game?

WoM: Our game is different because it centers witches.. few other games do. Also, our Witches have been "out of the broom closet" and a major part of society for over 400 years. The world is both very similar to ours and very different. We detail out those differences quickly in just a few pages of lore.

We also put a big focus on photography to really bring our Factions and major NPCs to life.

Additionally, we have added a lot of new rules to the Forged in the Dark ecosystem with Witches of Midnight. I'll just mention a few that we are particularly excited about.

All Witches have a Familiar. You can shift between playing as your character and their familiar at will during any game session. We've even done a few "all Familiar" Undertakings which were a ton of fun.

Our magic system is robust and exciting even when you use spells exactly as they are written, but you're also able to Boost spells by spending additional Essence on 4 parameters across a 13 point Magnitude scale.

Lastly, Wyld Magic is a reality-bending burst of spontaneous spellwork that any character may attempt. This could be used to teleport your covenmates to safety, animate an army of the dead, or even to melt faces (like the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark). But you must be willing to face potentially devastating arcane complications if you fail. And even if you succeed, the hunt begins! 

WoM Andrea: From a player’s perspective our setting allows for any style of coven you can imagine. You are not locked into only playing super serious witches. You can play anything from Owl House style coven to a Salem style coven. 

Forged in the Dark

TB/TOS: Why Forged in the Dark as your game system? 

WoM: When we first started development, we liked how Forged in the Dark games focused on the Crew over the individual. We felt like that was perfect for a Coven.

Later, we realized that Forged in the Dark games also teach lessons in the importance of Consent and Intentional action, and those things are very important aspects of witchcraft.

We also discovered that the concept of Retirement (a FitD game mechanic by which a veteran character takes a less active role in their coven) had a lot of untapped potential, so we really ran with that subsystem and added many new Retirement options based on two new character stats that are tracked throughout a campaign.

We like the simplicity of the rules and that failure can be as much fun as success. You can't say that about most TTRPGs.


TB/TOS: Talk to me a bit more about the Grimoires and Heritages, outside of their Forged in the Dark origins. Grimoires feel a bit like what I would call a Tradition or a type of witchcraft.

WoM: We would call a Grimoire your "magical specialty". We are launching with 22 Grimoires (called Playbooks in other Forged in the Dark games) which is a lot, and we have 6 more planned as Stretch Goals for the Kickstarter.

Contrast that with Casting Style, the method by which you use magic. This would include traditions, faith and spirituality, but also any specifics of casting you might choose such as using tools or gestures and incantations. Any complication that arises from your Casting Style also acts as an XP trigger.

Heritage refers to a character's immortal bloodline. Each player gets to choose their character's Heritage traits, and those traits are malleable over the course of a campaign. You might start as an Asterian (Minotaur blood) with no visible Heritage traits or you could start the game looking like you just stepped out of the labyrinth.

TB/TOS: You say Players can use their own casting style with their characters. How do you see that working?

WoM: We were very conscious, as practitioners ourselves, of not implying that spells must be cast a certain way, or with a certain faith or set of beliefs. Casting Style is our way of handing that control over to the player. We hope that it will provoke conversations between players about the differences between open and closed practices and lead to a better understanding of witchcraft for everyone.

TB/TOS: What sorts of games do you see others playing with these rules? In other words, what can players do in this game?

WoM: When your group makes a Coven (a Session Zero activity when you are also introduced to the game's safety tools) you choose what Factions are Allies and Rivals as well as a question that your Coven wants to work toward answering and what themes you want to explore in that story.

With 22 Factions in Midnight, you'll have nearly infinite options. There are many congregations of bound witches with their own goals and endgame, witch hunters (both subtle and overt), elder-god worshiping apocalypse cults, several factions of fae creatures (each with their own inscrutable goals), religious fanatics and a magically empowered military.

Additionally, we will offer a few curated storylines for you to choose from (subject to change as we are working on them now): Solving mysteries in a hate-free magical academy, explorers trying to map the various realms of the Underworld and a coven focused on radical environmental protection.

TB/TOS: Who would you say Witches of Midnight is for?

WoM: We intended the game for a mature audience who are interested in telling stories about magic.

It's for anyone who has felt like witches are an afterthought in most TTRPGs.

It's also for people who are new to the hobby or felt like they weren't welcome at a gaming table. We tried to make Witches of Midnight inclusive and easy to learn for new players. Most of our playtesters hadn't played a TTRPG before and enjoyed it so much they are still playtesting with us nearly 70 sessions later!

Most of all, this game is for players who want to take charge of their destiny and really leave their mark on Midnight.

TB/TOS: What are your future plans for this game?

WoM: We are already working with a couple of other authors, translators and editors to release expansions that localize the game to other parts of the world and introduce their cultural experiences with witchcraft to our game's audience. These expansions would each include several new Grimoires, Factions, interesting Casting Style details and possibly even new Heritages.

Oslo, Mexico, Deseret and Appalachia are some of the possible locations we hope to explore if the Kickstarter is very successful.

We might also branch out into other types of supernatural creatures in the future, but that is a long way off.

We plan to continue to stream our playtest sessions on Twitch every other Tuesday with our ultra-queer cast on

TB/TOS: And finally, for the benefit of my audience, well, and me, who are all of your favorite witches or magic-using characters?

WoM Andrea: Lilith and Baba Yaga. We like to play on the darker side of things.

WoM Gavin: I really love the new iteration of Sabrina (Chilling Adventures) and Eda from The Owl House. But to be completely honest and really date myself, Orko from He-Man is the best.

TB/TOS: And where can we find you all on the internet?

WoM: We have a welcoming and inclusive witchy Discord run by Issa Belladonna. We welcome anyone to join us at

Witches of Midnight // Balsamic Games