Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mail Call: Chris Perkins' "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition"

Been a busy time at work, so just a fast one today.

Some time ago I grabbed something called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition" from the web.  It has been sitting in my "to be sorted" folder for ages.  I was in the process of digging up some other material for a project when I happened upon them.   The layout was nice and clean and the covers were nearly print-ready.  So I spent some time a few nights ago tweaking it and slapped the whole thing on Lulu.

Here is what I got.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. Covers

Frankly, I am pretty happy with it. 

I went a re-looked up what this game was/is and it turns out it was done by Chris Perkins.  The game is a very nice blend of AD&D 1st and 2nd Editions with mechanics from D&D 3rd Edition and inspiration from Castles & Crusades.  The overall effect is not unlike D&D 5th Edition, but more of a 1st Edition feel.

The art is all copied from published classic D&D sources, so there is no way this thing is legal to sell. I am sure if cleaned up it could be released under the OGL, but it is so close to Castles & Crusades and D&D 5th edition there is no need to do so save as an entertaining experiment.

Perkins used to have a website for it, http://www.adnd3egame.com/cnc.htm but it is long since gone. There are details about it at RPG Geek and Boardgame GeekI have no idea where it is hosted anymore.  I found a new site for it here: https://scruffygrognard.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/add-3rd-edition/Note: Perkins is now working on a BX3e.

It is a completely playable game and has a lot of nice features.  It reads like a D&D "Greatest hits" album.  It is just missing some "kits" or "subclasses" to make it more like 5e.  

The question of course is why play this when I have all the other versions of *D&D?  Well, the simple answer is that it looks like fun.  IT might be neat to play this "what if" version.  It is also interesting to see which design choices Perkins went with. Like why 20th century D&D style saving throws and not say 3rd/4th Edition ones or 5th Edition/Castles & Crusades ones?  How does the skill system work (feels like a mix of AD&D 1st ed and D&D 3rd ed)?  There are Bard and Monk classes, how do they compare to their 1st and 3rd ed counterparts?  Plus there is a section on Psionics. So there is a lot to explore here.

Besides the books are damn attractive.  The layout like I said is clean and simple, but it appeals to me.

Now that I found his site again I am curious to see if there will be more updates on it. His BX3e project also looks very interesting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Review: Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore
Last week I reviewed that new monster book from BRW Games, Book of Lost Beasts.  Today I want to review the companion book from the same Kickstarter, Book of Lost Lore.  I went into this one less excited than I did with the Book of Lost Beasts, but not due to anything on the part of this book.  I am always more enthusiastic about monster books. I just have to make sure that I am not making unfair comparisons.  I will be making a lot of comparisons with this book and others, however.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

For this review, I am considering the Hardcover I received as a Kickstarter backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.  BRW does their print fulfillment via DriveThru, so I conveniently have my PDFs where I expect them and I know what sort of product I am getting in terms of Print on Demand.

The book itself is 134 pages, full-color cover, and has black and white interior art.  The layout and art are a tribute to the "2nd covers" of the AD&D 1st Edition line. So it looks nice with your original books and other OSR books designed the same way. 

Like the Book of Lost Beasts, this book carries the Adventures Dark & Deep banner, but it is not made for that game.  It is material from that game ported "Backwards" to the AD&D 1st Edition rules. So again like Book of Beasts, some of this material has been seen before, though not all in 1st Edition format/rules.  

Lost Beasts and Lost Lore

Much of the material does come from Bloch's "What If" game, Adventures Dark & Deep, and in particular, the Players Manual which itself was derived from BRW Games' very first product A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (now discontinued).  This is all acknowledged in the Preface of the book.  The selling point of this book is that it is all revised and edited for the "First Edition of the world's most popular RPG."  Not to mention the layout now favors the 1st ed feel rather than the Adventures Dark & Deep feel.

Though as we move on you will see that the biggest comparison that needs to be made is this book to the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.  

On to the book proper now.

This book is split between a Players' Section (close to 98 pages) and GMs' section (36 or so pages).

Players' Section

Dwarf blacksmith
This section covers new races, classes, and spells among other topics that I will discuss. 

Up first, the new races.  Here we are given three "new" races for player characters. These are the Centaur, the Forrest Gnome, and the Half-Drow, of which we get Human-Drow and Elf-Drow.  Those unfamiliar with AD&D 1st ed might be surprised to see level limits and ability limits for the races.  Some are pretty obvious, centaurs tend to be stronger but can't climb walls as a thief. Others are culture-based, drow women can advance more in most classes than their male counterparts due to their matriarchal society, but not as much as wizards since that class is not valued.  While back in the day we really ignored all these rules in AD&D (and they do not exist in 21st Century D&D) they are consistent with the rules and anyone who plays AD&D 1st ed exclusively will take to these easy.

The races seem balanced enough.  The centaur is a nice addition and one that really could go into AD&D well enough.  I personally have never had a desire to play one, but they do seem to work.  The forest gnome is also a good choice and a good option for people more familiar with 21st century D&D gnomes.  The coverage of the half-drow is very interesting and the stand-out of the three.  Given some other things I have crossed my awareness this past week or so I am wanting to try out a half-drow now.  I will need to come back to this one later on. 

Classes are likely the top feature of this book.  They are also the ones that we have seen before.  There are Bards, Jesters, Skalds, Blackguards, Mystics, Savants, and Mountebanks.  Let me repeat. While we have seen these before in other BRW products they are presented here as 1st Edition characters classes and as subclasses of existing 1st Ed classes. Except the Bard, the Bard is it's own class with the Jester and Skald as sub-classes of the Bard.  The Blackguard (or Anti-Paladin) is a subclass of the Cavalier to give you an idea where this book would "fit" into the AD&D 1st Ed lineup. 

It should be noted is a usable single Bard class.  No more advancing as a thief, fighter, and then druid to get to the bard, this is a straight out bard class.  The bard also has some nice powers too. The mystic class seems closer to the BECMI/RC version than it does to the monk.  It was also the focus of one of my very first "Class Struggles" features.   I am a little surprised we didn't see versions of BRW Games'  Necromancer, Witch, or Demonolater classes. Likey to keep these with the Adventures Dark & Deep game. 

From Classes, we move on to Secondary Skills. AD&D 1st Ed has never really been about skills outside of what your character class can do.  While back then I saw this as a problem, I am less inclined to think so now.  Still, a good selection of secondary skills are listed here and how they can be used. 

The next 35 or so pages are dedicated to new spells. Mostly these support the new magic-using classes, though some spells are cross-listed for other classes. 

The last part of the player's section is given over to combat and new weapons and armor.  The arms and armor described here do show an appreciated level of research.  One that would have made Gary and his 6 pages of pole-arms very happy.

Game Masters' Section

This section is not as large but still has gems; figurative and literal. 

making magic items
Up first are some guidelines for social encounters including reactions.  There are some alternate treasure rules that uses the same Treasure Type classification but breaks it down into different categories.  Both the original system and this system can be used interchangeably, even within the same game, with the Game Master deciding what works better at the time. 

There are some new magic items, with updated tables to include them. 

Finally some discussion on the game environment including ability checks. 

Honestly, the only thing it is missing to be "Unearthed Arcana II" is an appendix on the gods of the Centaurs.

Unearthed Arcana and Lost Lore

Some art has appeared before in other BRW books but all of it captures the Old-School gaming feel.

So. Who is this book for?

The obvious answer is for anyone that plays First Edition AD&D.  It should work fine with OSRIC, since that cleaves so close to AD&D, but not sure if players of Advanced Labyrinth Lord or Old School Essentials Advanced will get the same benefits. For example, both of those other games have a Bard class that works about the same.  That is not to say they would not get benefits from this book, it's just the base design principles are not 100% the same.

If you are a player of Adventures Dark & Deep then there is likely nothing new here for you.  But if you have those books and still play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first ed. then there is enough here for you even if you can convert easily between the two games. 

If you play AD&D 1st ed then this is a great book and it will sit nicely on your shelf or on your table next to your other AD&D books. 

One minor point, the book was not released under the OGL.  Doesn't matter for play or use only if you wanted to reuse a class or spell elsewhere.  Though given the use I have seen of the OGL over the last 20+ years this is also likely not an issue. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Thoughts on "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight"

The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
The newest D&D 5e book is now out and so far it is a lot of fun.  I have not had the chance to read through it enough for a full review, but I do have some thoughts on it. 

It's An Adventure, Not A Source Book

Unlike Van Richten's Guide, or any of the other "name" books, this book is designed to be an adventure first and a source guide second.  The guide part comes into play for the setting, the Feywild D&D's version of the lands of Faerie, but that is the situation the adventure finds itself in.  The key piece here is the Carnival.

There are some "crunchy" bits here. But most of them deal with the adventure and its surroundings themselves.

There is a Non-Combat Solution to the Adventure

I have seen some complaints about this online and the question I have is "why are you complaining?"  I applaud the designers for trying something new.  I have often longed for a good adventure that you can get through without combat and get through on skill and cleverness alone.  Yes, D&D is a combat game and yes the monsters in this book still have stats, hitpoints, and alignments.  So you could very well murder hobo your way through it.   OR you can be more intelligent about it and try to get through it without combat.  I understand though that some gamers are not up to that challenge and might never get there.

The NPCs

I wanted this most of all for the NPCs.  I now have 5e stats for my beloved Skylla along with Kelek, Warduke, and more. I actually want to get into the NPCs in a future post. But I want to start with I am remarkably pleased with how the 5e versions of some classic villains (and let's be honest, the bad guys were always more interesting) turned out.

Bad guys

And then there are the new NPCs and among them is one of my favorites.  Thaco the kid-hating clown.  I began my D&D playing LONG before "THAC0" was a term used except informally.  And I have to say this about Thaco.

Thaco
I think he is fucking hilarious!

Are they poking fun at a certain set of Grognards, many of which are actually younger than I am? Very likely.  But look, if you can't stand a little poke like this then maybe you stay off of the Internet for a while.  I have seen some insane and stupid shit like "oh WotC is making fun of us" and "I won't buy their books."  Well, they might be, get over it, and their marketing data shows that only 5% or so of their sales are to people age 45 or over.  WotC is approaching $1B in sales now.  Not Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast.   

I am going to tell you this now.  WotC does not NEED the old-school gamers anymore. They need to cater to the Grogs and the sooner they drop that bowing in fealty to a group that doesn't even buy their product the sooner they can move on to serving the people that buy their product. 

Our season in the sun is over and that is ok.  

Plays Well With Others

There are some obvious callbacks to older D&D here and that is always fun.  It also makes adding more material a little easier with that hook.

Want to know more about the League of Malevolence or Valor's Call? Simple grab a copy of Quest for the Heartstone and use it as an introduction.  Need an inn to stay at?  Why not The Shady Dragon Inn? I reviewed it a while back and it works fine with 5e, you just need to redo the characters. Well, guess what TWBTW has? Yup.  Again, some more about that in a bit.

Given that this place in the Feywild you could easily add, and I say get a great benefit from, the Tome of Beasts series from Kobold Press. Tome of Beasts and Tome of Beasts II both have a large number of Faerie Lords that would work very well here as well as a fair number of fey creatures.

Tomes of Beasts

If you are like me you also will look at this product and think, yeah it is great and all, but it needs more horror. Say along the lines of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" or "Carnival of Souls" or even "Freaks"

As it turns out the answers are not that far away over in the Demi-plane of Dread.  The AD&D 2nd Ed Ravenloft product Carnival has what you need.  There are many parallels between both traveling carnivals and their relationship to their respective planes.  Sadly, Carnival is not set up as a Print on Demand yet and print copies are super rare.  But the PDF is on sale and the "new" scan is 1000x better than the scan WotC used to give out for free on their website back in the  2000s.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight has a lot going for it and is something I would love to use. I might even convert it over to an old-school ruleset, say like OSE.

Monday, September 27, 2021

D&D 5.5 Announcement

Over the weekend WotC/Hasbro and D&D team had their D&D Celebration.  Lots of things were discussed including the new gift box I talked about yesterday.  

Of course, the big announcement was D&D 5.5 or D&D 5 Revised coming out in 2024.

Personally, I think this is a good idea.

D&D 5e Collection

Right now D&D 5 is 7 years old. The "Basic Rules" PDF and the Starter Set were released in July 2014. In 2024, the proposed release date, D&D 5 will be close to 10 years old.  That is about the same amount of time AD&D 1st and 2nd Ed were around each.  That is counting the unofficial ".5" versions of post Unearthed Arcana (AD&D 1) and the Revised AD&D 2nd ed books.  This puts D&D 5e and 5.5 combined to be the longest-lasting version of D&D.

There are a ton of reasons why 2024 is a good date for this.

D&D Celebration

The Hype

I have been saying EVERYWHERE that WotC will not do anything until the 50th anniversary of D&D in 2024.  They can spend the first two-quarters of 2024 hyping D&D from its roots and evolution.  Expect a huge deep dive into nostalgia.  Then third quarter (or even fourth to get that Christmas dollar) D&D 5.5 will hit the shelves.  The message from WotC will be clear, you have enjoyed D&D for 50 years now and THIS is the ultimate edition.  It's not just good marketing, they would be negligent if they didn't do it.

The Rules

When I heard about this I mentioned it to my son last night when he got home from work.  His response was, "oh cool!"  I have seen similar responses from others in the D&D 5 community.  With the publication of Tasha's and other books, there have been enough rule additions and alternates to make a Revised Core Rule Set a welcome publication. 

Right now we are being told these are just going to be rule clarifications and reorganizations.  Everything will be 100% backward compatible.  This is smart given the number of people that play D&D 5 now.  It also makes sense given how poorly Pathfinder 2 was received by the fans of Pathfinder 1.  

Plus D&D 5 was designed to be more modular, so adding in rules should be easy.  Maybe not as modular as D&D 4e was nor as modular as D&D 5 was originally advertised as, but still better than D&D 3 and anything that came before it.

Of there are critics.  I note that most of the complaining is coming from people that have self-admitted that they actually don't play D&D 5.  So I guess their opinions really don't matter.

Expectations

What am I expecting with these new rules?

Well, "race" will be gone and we will get something closer to the Ancestry and Culture mods other games have been doing.  Mechanically speaking it will largely be the same at the end.  Instead of choosing a race and getting a baked-in mod and language; you will choose ancestry, culture and there will be guidelines for mods, languages, and other features.   So what if you were a human raised by elves? Or an orc raised by dwarves?  These things can now happen.  Well, in truth you could always do these you just needed a DM that would work out the details with you and not be dogmatic. 

There will still be a Basic Rules style game with the four basic classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) and the four basic "races" (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) they will just be worked up in terms of the new ancestry rules.  But mechanically a 5.0 elf will work as a 5.5 elf. 

Rangers will get tweaked. Again. Cause no one is ever happy with them.  This goes all the way back to the beginning really.

Warlock might get some changes, as will the monks.  We MIGHT get a Core Rule psionic class, but the chances are very low.

I am expecting some new Session 0 verbiage.

Monsters will have a "typical" alignment with sentient races not having one required.  The new Wild Beyond the Witchlight monsters all have alignments listed.  The idea will be that Ancestry plays a role in alignment, but individuals have a choice. I DO expect to see a group of good or at least neutrally aligned Drow.

There are spellcasting changes coming to monsters that we will get a preview of in 2023 with the Multiverse of Monsters book.

I am also expecting more on non-combat play like we have in the Wild Beyond the Witchlight.

I am sure there will be more and many of the changes will be minor, less than the changes between 3.0 and 3.5 for example. OR even the differences between 2nd Ed and Revised 2nd Ed.

Looking forward to seeing what happens.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: D&D Monsters and More

I have some great ones for you all today! Hang on, there is a lot here!

Asian Monsters: 90+ magnificent monsters for DnD 5E!

Asian Monsters

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendarygames/asian-monsters-90-magnificent-monsters-for-dnd-5e?ref=theotherside 

This one looks like a lot of fun. And I was just lamenting that people had not taken advantage of an obvious market and to do it the right way.  Legendary Games looks like they are taking the right approach here.  Good job.  This one ends today!

Now heading to the old-school side of things.

Chromatic Dungeons

Chromatic Dungeons

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693797308/chromatic-dungeons?theotherside

I have been following the development of this one for some time now.  Glad to see it hit Kickstarter. Quote from the Kickstarter page:

The driving goal behind Chromatic Dungeons is to act as a clone of the early TSR era games, incorporating elements from each of those editions to allow you to play in a style that emulates the experience of playing tabletop RPGs in the 80s, while also being welcoming to all gamers of every demographic to better represent just how diverse our industry has become since the 80s.

Sounds great to me! They just got started and it really looks like a lot of fun.

and one I must have.

Book of Lost Lore & Book of Lost Beasts

Book of Lost Lore & Book of Lost Beasts

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brwgames/book-of-lost-lore-and-book-of-lost-beasts?ref=theotherside

Greyhawk Gognard runs a tight Kickstarter.  The only times he doesn't hit his target date is when he is early.  These books scratch that old-school itch better than what most companies are coming out with.

And you really can't beat the prices.

AND Finally, and this one is brand new.

HYPERBOREA 3E

Hyperborea 3e

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffreytalanian/hyperborea-3e?ref=theotherside

Honestly, what can I say about this one?  I LOVED my 1st and 2nd editions of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and this one looks crazy!  

I was all set NOT to get this one, my other editions are still perfect in my mind, but it just looks so good.  Jeffrey Talanian also runs a great Kickstarter, so this will be great.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary WotC D&D

Yesterday, April 10, was the 24th Anniversary of Wizards of the Coast purchasing TSR and of course, D&D.

Wizards of the Coast D&D

Wizards of the Coast bought the failing TSR for $25 Million.  Today Wizards of the Coast is worth nearly $1 Billion

This means that Wizards of the Coast has been publishing D&D longer than TSR.

TSR D&D 1974 to 1997, 23 years 
WotC D&D 1997 to 2021 (so far), 24 years.

2024, just 3 more years, D&D will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.   IF I was WotC and looking to a new Edition that would either be when I announce it or release it. 

I am not about to speculate what will be in D&D 6 any more than I am willing to speculate when there will be a D&D 6.  I am sure we will see something more akin to D&D 5 though than the radical departures that 3 was from 2, 4 from 3, and 5 from 4. 

No idea if I will upgrade or not.  I have plenty of books and games to keep me happy till I die, to be honest.  But in any case, happy 24th birthday WotC D&D.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

One Man's God: Nehwon Mythos

Closing on one of the last of the named mythos for One Man's God.  I go to one that has a lot of importance for the creation of the D&D, the Nehwon Mythos of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series.

Nehwon Myths

You can now get Lankhmar RPG products for both 1st and 2nd AD&D as well as for Savage Worlds and Dungeon Crawl Classics.  To say it has left its mark on our hobby is a bit of an understatement.  Yet I find I really know very little about the stories.  I remember reading one of the books. It was either in late high school or my early college days, in either case, it was the mid-late 80s.  I recall reading the book and not really caring for the characters all that much.  I have been planning to reread them someday, but they keep getting pushed lower and lower on my to-be-read pile.

For this reason I had considered not doing these for One Man's God.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized it was a perfect chance to "level-set" what I am doing here.  Seeing if another culture's god can be redefined as AD&D Monster Manual Demon. 

Now I am certain that others with far more knowledge than me will have opinions one way or the other and that is fine.  They are welcome to share them.  A key factor of "One Man's God" is just that, one man's opinion on the gods. And that one man is me.  

So strap on a long sword and dirk and let's head to the City of Lankhmar.

Nehwon and Lankhmar in particular seems to have a lot of Gods.  I kind of lank this to be honest.  But how many of them are "Demons?"

We know there are demons here.  Demons and witches are described as living in the wastes. The wizard Sheelba of the Eyeless Face is said to be so horrible that even demons run from it.

Astral Wolves

These guys are great! Love the idea, but they feel more like undead to me.

Gods of Trouble

Ok, these guys start to fit the bill.  They are semi-unique, chaotic-evil, and have 366 hp. But they also have a lot of powers that demons just don't have.  They have worshipers, but no indication that any spells (for clerics) or powers (for warlocks) are granted.   They just seem to be powerful assholes.

Leviathan

There is a demon Leviathan and this guy looks a lot like him.  But this one is neutral and does not have any other powers except for being huge.

Nehwon Earth God

This guy appears to be an actual god, even if evil and non-human. 

Rat God

AH! Now we are getting someplace. Non-human, cult-like worshipers, described as the manifestation of men's fears, and chaotic evil.  I see no reason why the Rat God here could not be a type of demon with a larger power base.  At 222 hp he is actually pretty close to Demongorgon's hp.

The Rat God has some personal relevance for me.  I was riding the bus home in high school one day and there was a group of kids that were playing D&D. I listened in and guess in their game if you wanted to make boots that aided in your ability to move silently they had to be made from the pelt of the Rat God!  I always wondered what their other games must be like.

rat demon
Rat Demon (Prince of Rats)

FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 18'
HIT DICE: 222 hit points
% IN LAIR: 50%
TREASURE TYPE: P, S, T
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 4-40
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 20%
INTELLIGENCE: Supra genius (18)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: L (10' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY: I

The Demon Prince of Rats is nearly powerful as other demon princes but he saves his interests and attention only for his rat and wererat followers.  He desires to overrun the Prime Material Plane with his children and feed on the bodies of all the living.

Spider God 

Same is true for this one.  I mean if rats are a manifestation of human fears then spiders are as well. This creature is also CE and at 249 hp that makes it more powerful than Lolth at 66!

Tyaa

Could be a demon, but had more goddess about her.  Again though, Lolth is both Goddess and Demon.  We will later get a demoness of birds in D&D during the 3e days in the form of Decarabia.  Tyaa requires her cult to sacrifice a body part, Decarabia cut off her own legs so she would never touch the ground again.

Bird Goddesses and Demons
Bird Goddesses and Demoness, separated at birth?

Obviously there a lot more here that could be done with these and the monsters/gods/demons that were not featured in the D&DG.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

It's D&D, Not Pie

It's D&D, not pie. You can have as much as you want and there is still more.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Fantasy Wargaming

We have all had this one on our shelves at one point or saw it in the book stores and thought to ourselves, "wow I should REALLY do something with that one day."

Today is that day.  I am going to make a character for Bruce Galloway's Fantasy Wargaming

The Game: Fantasy Wargaming

There is a lot to unpack here. Not just in terms of the game itself, but the history of the game.  There is no way I could provide a good review of it for this particular post.  I am not even sure I want to try.  For starters, there is such a disdain for RPGs in this book and for D&D in particular.  I would call it a Fantasy Heartbreaker, but it never lets you get close enough to it to break your heart.  

So instead I am going to defer to the experts here.  They have spent more time on this that I will or ever will.  Plus my copy is so musty it is giving me a headache and it is still four feet away from me as I type this.

Again, given the musty state of my book, I am going to refer to these sites often in my character creation. G.L. Dearman's site in particular has some good character sheets.

The game does cover witches and witchcraft, all be it in a roundabout manner.

Few questions in anthropology have raised as much controversy as the nature of witchcraft. There are three quite separate views of the witch-the peasant magician, the pagan, and the devil worshipper. Fantasy Wargaming accepts all three as valid. Witches clearly exercised magic. and not just Supernatural powers by appeal Equally, the theory of a surviving pre-Christian Celtic fertility cult bas some force. Some ritual elements, notably the sacred dance and orgy, appear at the very beginning of the period, before diabolism bad really taken root. There are echoes of Bacchic revels, and of Diana's Wild Hunt.
Some medieval witches strenuously asserted their worship of a "different" god. Yet equally, the evidence for devil worship among medieval covens is overwhelming. (FW p. 24)

Well, that works for me. I can use this. 

For the character, I was hoping to make a Satanic witch.  Would have been great for the Satanic Panic call-back to when was made.  But I opted for today's date as her birthday and that made her Aquarius.  And I have a perfect Aquarian Witch. 

Fantasy Wargaming RPG

The Character: Marie Capet

Marie is another quasi-mythical character from my games.  I know that she was most active in the year 1012 AD.  Marie is also an Aquarian Tradition witch from my first Basic-era book of witches which, in a few thousand years, will become the Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order.   In later years she would have been called a neo-pagan. Margaret Murry would have embraced her.  As my prototype Aquarian, Marie sees no problem with grabbing what ever bits of esoteric knowledge comes her way.   To the Church, this makes her little better than a heretic and at worst, a follower of Lucifer.  She actually feels that Lucifer has been mischaracterized by the Church and that as "The Light Bringer" he is more of a Promethean-like figure.  She is doing what she can to bring on the next Age of Mankind.  This would not be known as the Aquarian Age, or the New Age, until much later on.

Given the rolls, I figure she was the 2nd daughter of a poor noble. She was going to go into the nunery but instead ended up marrying the Baron that her sister was supposed to marry.  She was married at age 14, so she has a couple of children (that survived) now by age 21. She has a level in Religious and a level in Magic as a Witch.  I assume she is discovering witchcraft from an Italian ladies' maid who knows of the "old ways."

11th Century Frankish Noblewoman
Marie Capet
Female Frankish Witch

Star Sign: Aquarius

Ability Scores (adjusted for Star Sign)
Physique: 1110
Agility: 12
Endurance: 10

Intelligence: 18
Faith: 1416

Charisma: 1213
Greed: 89
Selfishness: 13
Lust: 12
Bravery: 12

Social Class: 17

Height: 5'3"  Weight: 110lbs
Current Agility: 12

Literate: Yes
Speaks: Frankish, Latin, German
Chance to Speak Language: 60%

Leadership: 15

Birthrank: Second Daughter
Father's Social Position: Poor Baron (16)
Husband's Social Position: Rich Baron (17)

Misc. Traits: Paranoia

It is the Paranoia that helped me figure out she was learning her witchcraft on the sly.  Given the time and the culture, I thought an Italian Strega might be the best bet.  Maybe someone with a direct connection to Aradia. 

I did not pick and spells or rituals.  This game is crazy.  But there are a few ideas I want to use from it. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition

We now come to what be the most popular version of D&D ever published in terms of units sold and public discussion.  While the debate can be held on the relative popularity of 1st ed vs. 5th ed one thing is certain that 5e has outsold all other versions of D&D and has introduced a new generation to the game that has been unprecedented. 

The Game: Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

I have described D&D5 as being something akin to the "Greatest Hits" of D&D.  I see bits of 1st ed here, 2nd Ed there, lots of 3e, and even bits of 4e.

Released in August of 2014 we (my family and I) were not originally going to pick it up.  I still had a ton of 4e material and my sons were looking seriously at 1st Ed to give it a try, but we starting hearing more so I grabbed the "D&D Next" playtest materials and thought, ok, let's give it a try.  When August 8, 2014, rolled around the boys and I went out at midnight to get our copies (and tacos).

5e quickly became the home system here.  My oldest ran games for his friends from high school and then college, he even ran games with his gaming group that has been together since they all met in pre-school.  My oldest played and eventually started the Table Top Club at the local high school. Between the two of them, they must have gotten somewhere around 40-50 new players to the game.  Of course many had heard about it via Critical Role first but remained players to this day. 

The Characters: The Coven

right away I was asked if I was going to do a witch for D&D 5.  Certainly, there are a lot of good reasons for me to do one, but in truth I was pretty happy with a lot of the options that D&D 5 already gives me. Plus I wrote my Old-School witch only after years of playing, writing and playtesting. Even when I published my first OSR witch book in 2012 I had over 30 years' worth of playing under my belt and a few published books.  I didn't want to just knock together something and slap a 5e label on it.

Plus with the advent of the DMsGuild (and 5e adopting the OGL) there were and are plenty of witch options from others for 5e. I spent all of October detailing them

So instead of making a witch class, I worked on characters that were RAW but I could make witchier.

I worked out some ideas and called them "The Coven."  The idea here was to take a very basic old-school idea.  Take a class and play it how I like.  In each case, I took a by-the-book spellcasting class and took the options to make them feel more like a witch.  The idea behind this group of witches is they all met in The Library, each searching for a particular tome.  All six managed to end up at the same place at the same time and each one wanted the same book, the infamous Liber Mysterium.  As it turned out the author of the Liber Mysterium, my iconic witch Larina, was present. She took all six under her tutelage.  Each class is a magic-using, spell-casting class, and each one has some connection to learning or deeper mysteries.  They all adventure and make appearances in my games as information brokers. 

Since I am doing six characters today I am going to link out to their sheets on D&DBeyond.

Tayrn Nix
Half-elf Warlock (Fey Pact)

Taryn was the first "witch-like" character I tried.  She is Larina's half-elf daughter.  She is a warlock, fey pact, and is my "embrace the stereotype" witch character.

Celeste Holmes
Human Wizard (Sage)

Celeste was a character I was planning on creating when I was going to go back to 1st ed before 5th ed came out.  She would have been a Magic-user but playing as a witch.  She was the first character I imagined going to The Library.  Felica Day is my model for this character.

Cassandra Killian
Human Sorcerer (Divne Soul)

With a backdrop of The Library, Cassandra became a no-brainer.  She is very obviously modeled after Cassandra Cillian from the Librarians played by the lovely Lindy Booth. She is also a nod to another character in my shared world. When my High School DM went off to college he created more of his world and a character named Killian.  Killian was major figure in his world and he created many adventures to go with it; Killian's Tower, Killian's Maze, Killians Dungeon, and so on. True old-school Gonzo affairs. 

For my Cassandra, I wanted someone whose magic felt like second nature to her. She didn't learn it so much as live it. So the Sorcerer seemed like the best route. Know of the great wizard Killian she took his name as her own.  She was the second character to enter the Library.

Jasic Winterhaven 
Gnome Bard (College of Lore)

Jasic is a character I have used off and on since my 3e days. I will admit he was created as a response to so many people I have gamed with saying how much they hate gnomes.  Jasic is a great guy.  He is a bard but I play him like a Benandanti witch.  He is also best friends with Taryn.

Sasha
Cleric (Knowledge Domain)

Sasha is an interesting one. She is a tiefling and claims to be the daughter of Glasya and is Taryn's Half-sister (same father, different mothers). She is a cleric, but again I play her like a witch priestess. I would suppose that the closest analogy would be if Sabrina (from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) was Rowena's (from Supernatural) daughter instead of Lucifer's.  She is wanted by all the key players in Hell's Hierarchy but she herself has no power or pull beyond what she gets from her Goddess Cardea/Hecate (clerical).  Cardea led her to the Library.

Áedán Aamadu
Human Druid (Circle of the Land)

Áedán is a druid pagan who is the son of my two druids from OSE, Asabalom and Maryah. They were great friends with Larina (that is they were all part of my OSE playtests and games in summer of 2019).  Áedán is a circle of the land druid that I play as a pagan. Yes his name is Irish, but he looks like Will Smith.  I am pretty sure that he and Taryn are going to have a thing. 


Each one brings something different to the table for me.  I can't wait to convert them back to Basic/OSE for my War of the Witch Queens!

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition

Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook 4th Ed.
Like the editions before 3rd Edition had a long run, though maybe not as long.  Soon it began to get overwhelming to run a game what with the glut of d20 sourcebook, books from WotC and just an unprecedented amount of material available.  3e's greatest strength soon became it's greatest problem.  What is a publisher to do?  Simple. Reboot and start over with a new edition.

Thus in June 2008 Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition was released to much hoopla. While many people gave it a try, only a few would stick with it. Many went back to 3e or older games, a significant chunk went to Pathfinder, what many were calling 3.75 or "the real 4e" and some stuck with it.

The Game: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

This might be the most hated version of D&D ever made according to some or a misunderstood game by others.  I will say this, the vast majority of people complaining about or taking potshots at it have never actually played it. 

I have had friends comment that if the game had been called "D&D Miniatures Battles" then they might have liked it better. To be fair D&D 4 does require a lot of minis and battle maps.  But I am not here today to figure out the whys and wherefores of this game's successes or failures. Today I am here for a character and what is D&D first official witch subclass.

Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild gave us more detail on the Feywild, the D&D land of the Fey.  Among those details are a proper witch class. While I thought it could use a little flavor it was a very good witch class and one I would have loved seen ported over to D&D 5.  But that is tomorrow's post.

Dungeons & Dragons 4e

The Character: Eireann

 My plans for 4e back then were to play in the Forgotten Realms (no kidding, I became a convert in the 4e days) and have a heavy influence from both the Shadowfell and the Feywild.  Well...that never quite happened, but a lot of those ideas came over to my Second Campaign for D&D 5e.

Eireann was going to make a show sooner or later.  My concept of her was going to be she was higher level and act as a literal "Faerie Godmother" to the party.  This is Eireann when she was first starting out.  She is Sidhe Lady (well, not yet, but getting there), Moon Elf Witch of the Full Moon Coven.  She lives in the Feywild and only comes out to the mortal realms when she has to.

D&D 4 gives you the options of rolling abilities, point-buy, or a standard array.  This is a 25-point, point-buy build.

Photo by Juliana Stein from Pexels
Photo by Juliana Stein from Pexels
Eireann
1st level Female Moon Elf Witch (Wizard)
Unaligned

Abilities
Strength: 10 +0
Constitution: 15 +2
Dexterity: 10 +0
Intelligence: 18 +4
Wisdom: 15 +2
Charisma: 12 +1

Combat
Initiative: +0
Speed: 6 (30ft)
Hit Points: 25, Bloodied 12
Healing surges: 8, 6hp

Defenses
AC: 14
Fortitude: 12
Reflex: 14
Will: 15

Skils
Arcana +9, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +2, Endurance +2, Heal +2, History +9, Insight +2, Intimidate +1, Nature +2, Perception +2, Religion +9, Streetwise +1

Feats
Moon Elf Resilience

Powers (Spells)
At-will
Breath of Night, +4 vs Fortitude, 1d10+4 damage
Witch Bolt, +4 vs Reflex, 1d10+4 damage

Encounter
Burning Hands, +4 vs Reflex, 2d6+4 damage
Glorious Presence, +4 vs Will, 2d6+4 damage

Daily
Bewitching Charm, +4 vs Will (Charmed)
Sleep, +4 vs Will (Sleep)

Rituals
Gentle Repose

I had forgotten about the sheer amount of choice you have with characters in D&D4.  I could have made another 1st level witch that was identical, picked different powers/spells and had it come out very different. The books are also gorgeous to look at. 

Dungeons & Dragons 4e

Yeah D&D 4 gets a bad rap that it doesn't really deserve.  As the character levels up I could even take a feat to gain some Warlock or Druid powers, which would fit the concept of the character well.

There are also plenty of Paragon Paths I could take this character into such as the Legendary Witch or taking some ideas from the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide a Silver Star would also work.

Dungeons & Dragons 4e

And of course, what I can only describe as "flirting" with me, the Epic Destiny for the witch is the Witch Queen. 

Dungeons & Dragons 4e

Combat in 4e is a slog though.  But still I'd like to give it another go sometime.

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition

D&D Player's Handbook 3rd Edition
The year is 2000. We don't have flying cars or stations on the moon, but we do get a new edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game.  Wizards of the Coast, known for Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, buy the cash strapped and deeply in debt TSR.  Soon TSR is folded into WotC and when D&D 3rd edition is announced, TSR is merely a memory.  Though WotC would go on to produce a hot new game that will still be played 20 years later AND set off a revolution in small press and fan publishing.

The Game: Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

D&D 3rd Edition was by all accounts a revolutionary game.  It produced two (or three) direct descendants; D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and Pathfinder 2nd Edition. It was the foundation for d20 Modern and the Star Wars RPGs from Wizards of the Coast. There was a Call of Cthulhu edition, a World of Darkness edition and not to mention thousands of games that used the d20 license and the Open Gaming License, and SRD.  The OGL and the SRD made so many other games possible including 90% of all the OSR releases on the market today.  D&D 3.x is also still widely played some 20 years later.

D&D retook the "Dungeons & Dragons" name, dropping the Advanced, to give D&D a single variant moving forward.  Basic and Advanced were no more. 

Of course, we also got the crowd of "never WotC D&D" forgetting that WotC gave out the SRD and OGL for free. Filled their website with free downloads and also created a very robust fan creation guideline that became the heart of the DMsGuild today, while TSR spent a lot of its early days on the Internet harassing BBSes, website owners, and AOL file areas as well sending C&D letters for anyone hosting Netbooks or fan-made D&D materials. 

The Character: Rowan McGowan

For this witch for D&D 3.5, I am going to use the sample custom witch class from the Dungeon Master's Guide.

The DMG witch class is a bit anemic really, it is just a reskinned Sorcerer with a new spell list.  But the goal for it was not to develop a full-blown witch class as I have done, but rather show how the classes can be altered for your own needs.   

Rowan continues my Celtic-themed named witches.  In 2000 I would have likely gone with Rowena, but I have a witch here already with that name.  She is "McGowan" instead of "nic Goibniu" because I want to represent her as being a little more "modern" than the previous witches.  Modern in the sense of rules updates.

Witches of the Coast
Liliana Vess by Dopaprime, CC License

Rowan McGowan

Female Human Witch, Level 1 (DMG Witch)
Lawful Neutral

Abilities
Strength: 10 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0) 
Constitution: 12 (+1)
Intelligence: 11 (0)
Wisdom: 12 (+1)
Charisma: 16 (+3)

Saving Throws
Fortitude: +1
Reflex: +0
Will: +3

AC: 13
HP: 8
BAB: +0
Initiative: +0
Speed: 30

Skills
Bluff +3, Climb 0, Concentration +5, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +3, Gather Information +3, Heal +1, Intimidate +3, Jump 0, Listen +1, Move silently +0, Ride +0, Search +1, Sense Motive +1, Spellcraft +5, Spot +1, Survival +1, Swim +0, Use rope +0

Feats
Scribe Scroll, Toughness

Special Abilities - Familiar
Familiar - Cat (level 1, 11 HP, 15 AC Attack +5)
Deliver Touch spells through familiar
Empathic Link (Su)
Share spells

Spells
Spell DC 13 + Spell level
Cantrips: Arcane Mark, Daze, Detect Magic, Mending
1st level: Burning Hands, Disguise Self

Not too bad, if a little light on options. 

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.