Showing posts with label WotWQ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WotWQ. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin for Basic-era games

ePic Character Generator

Back in the 3.5 days there was this contest, the D&D Creature Competition. It was a fun little romp of pitting monster vs. monster in a bracket-style competition where people voted.  There were such mainstays as the Tarrasque, Meepo the Kobold, and a gelatinous cube, and some odd ones like a half gold dragon/half pixie, a warforged ninja, and Half-Amethyst Dragon/Iridescent Naga.  But the strangest one, and the one that eventually won was Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin.

Eludecia got a featured write-up and even an adventure centered around her, Legend of the Silver Skeleton.  I always thought the character was a really interesting one.  She is seeking redemption at a level that honestly staggers the mind. She has suffered (imprisoned inside a gelatinous cube to burn the entire time) and yet she is still trying to be better. She is a character I could see working quite well in D&D 5th edition.  But what about Basic-era D&D?  

Basic D&D: B/X or BECMI?

Lately, I have been playing an unholy hybrid of D&D B/X and BECMI and OSR.  It might not work for others, but for me it has been fantastic.

So I try to aim at a 1st to 14th level range, this allows me not to have to choose between B/X and BECMI level play.  I add in BECMI details when things get higher in level.  Thankfully for me, there are plenty of examples of Eludecia at levels 8th, 14th, and 18th level.  Once you figure her 6HD of Succubus this makes her 2nd, 8th, and 12th level Paladin.  That keeps her within the bounds of my B/X sweet spot.

In this version of Eludecia has been roaming the multiverse, seeking quests not to prove her worthiness, but to test it.  She has a shape-change ability, but she keeps her succubus features in the open so that everyone knows what she is.  To her, it is far more important to be truthful in her dealings with all mortals than to pass herself off as human.  She carries a holy sword, even though its touch hurts her. 

For her Basic build, I am going to start with the Succubus as presented in Eldritch Wizardry. Then I am going to add the Paladin class on top of that.  For the Paladin, there are a lot of choices including the BECMI Paladin in the Companion Rules or the OSE Paladin.  I think in the end I'll use the OSE Paladin and add in the BECMI material as needed.


The Eldritch Wizardry Succubus has the following features.

Succubi prefer to act alone and Eludecia is no different. In her case though it is because she knows her journey is a solo one. Only she can earn her redemption. Plus she knows she is a target by the forces of Evil and sometimes Good alike. She does not wish to put others in harm. She still has all her succubus powers; causing darkness, drain life, become ethereal, charm person, ESP, clairaudience, shape change, and gate.  She considers these powers to be tainted and will never use them, even to save her own life.  Her Gate ability will not work even if she tried, no demon will answer her summons. She does know this. She can't control her 70% magic resistance.

Her base AC is 9, movement is 40 (120), and 60 (180) flight. Her base HD is 6.  

I think for this build I want her a little higher level than her 3.5 days, so here she is now a 14th level Paladin. With her base 6HD this makes her a 20HD/level NPC.

Her base 3.5 stats are a little bit outside the realms of Basic D&D (unless I use some Companion or Immortal Rules).  
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 30

I'll re-scale these to Basic levels.

I also opted to make her blonde as a nod to Sheila Mullen the supposed "model" for the succubus in the AD&D Monster Manual. 

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin

14th level Paladin, Lawful (Lawful Good)

Strength: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 16 (+2 languages)
Wisdom: 14 (+1 on magic-based saves)
Dexterity: 14 (+1)
Constitution: 14 (+1)
Charisma: 20 (likely it is a lot more) (+4)

Saving throws: D 2, W 3, P 4, B 3, S 6.  MR 70%

AC: 0 [19]
HP: 93 (6d8+6, 9d8+9,+10)
THAC0: 10 [+9]

Powers, Succubus: +2 weapons needed to hit, 70% magic resistance (these are powers she can't control)

Powers, Paladin: Divine Spells, Lay on Hands, Undead Turning

Equipment: Plate Armor +2, holy sword +3, holy symbol, normal shield

Spells

1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Protection from Evil

2nd level: Bless, Hold Person

3rd level: Striking



How I Would Use Her

There is so much that could be done with this character. I guess that is why 15 years after she appeared I still find reasons to pull her out for things.

I am getting near the end of my HUGE Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign (more on that later) and presently the characters are stuck in the Abyss.  I think it is entirely possible that they might find her silver bones stuck in the Gelatinous Cube. The PCs could free her and gain an ally.  AND since I now have Basic-era stats for her, I can see her making an appearance in my new campaign, War of the Witch Queens.

Anyone ever use her in your own games?

Monday, August 31, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 31 Experience

And here we are at the end of another #RPGaDAY for August.   What new Expeiences has this given me?

From the start, this month has been about my reflection of a Summer with the BECMI rules and Basic-era rules in general.  I spent a lot of time here thinking about what these rules do that is different than what I have been used too over the last few years (read: Modern D&D) and what I was used too back in the 80s (read: Advanced D&D).

My lens for this #RPGaDAY was these experiences. Because of that reading what others had posted gave me a very different viewpoint.  It was not 2-3 blog posts and 5-7 tweets that were all identical and everyone talking about the same thing.  This was nice.  While I was not as responsive as I would have liked to have been to others on this, reading them all was fun.

Since I also spent a lot of time talking about my BECMI/BX campaign, War of the Witch Queens, maybe I'll use that map as a simple dungeon crawl.  Maybe using ideas from my various posts here and when those don't work, well, I am sure I'll think of something. 

Hopefully, next year when this starts I'll be at Gen con again with my kids. That would be really great.

Friday, August 28, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 28 Close

This is about the time of year that I close out Summer projects and inventory my Fall ones to see where I am at.  

But this summer was a strange one really.  The whole Covid-19 thing changed a LOT of plans, one in particular was available free time to get other projects done. The day job was just too involved.

So I am still closing out my Summer though and looking ahead to Fall and beyond plans.  Here is what is going on for me and The Other Side.

Right now I am archiving old projects, both personal and work, I like to have a nice cleaned out work space on my computers.  This also gives me the opportunity to see what I have been working on and what still needs to be done. 

I still have a little bit more I want to do for BECMI month Summer, including a deep dive into the Shadow Elves like I mentioned on Day 9.  That though is in a couple more weeks. 

The really GREAT thing about this #RPGaDAY2020 posting is it has me thinking about all my stacks of research material and upcoming projects.

War of the Witch Queens Campaign

The War of the Witch Queens has been on my mind a lot since I want to run it under the B/X or BECMI rules.  I just have not figured out all the points yet.  I pointed out on Day 20 that Kelek is likely to be my bad guy.  And I think that still works.  In fact if the campaign only goes to level 14 (B/X, OSE) then that will be my guy.  BUT What if Kelek sets thing into motion he didn't predict and it quickly got out of hand?  The Witches, held in check by the Witch Queens are now doing some real damage?  What then? Well. In that case we continue on to level 36!  Who knows, I might even start it with the classic "You meet in an Inn".

Super Dungeon Explorer Adventure Team Go, Go, GO!

This is a bit of a goof, but it has gotten a lot of attention.  I secured an artist this week for the first release of this.  It will be for 5e and likely 180° away from anything Old-School.

Basic Bestiary and High Witchcraft

The first draft of Basic Bestiary is done, working on the beta draft now. I also put together my spreadsheet to track art development. Sadly I have not actually secured any new artists for this one.  So that might be a delay. 

The High Witchcraft book is no where near ready.  I was going over my notes and I am not even sure I have anything that can be considered a draft at this point. Just about a dozen or so files of notes that need to be collated, edited and then made into something. Additionally I have files of materials that did not make the cut for some of the other books; usually due to space or because the idea was not as complete as I would have liked.  If this is really going to be my "last witch book" then it behooves me to either find a home for those orphans here or on my blog.  One such orphan was the Goblin Forest of Haven.

I really want the High Witchcraft book to be really special. I want it to feature some of the ideas I have been playing with for years and to be my Coda for this series. 

I have a couple of other projects on the burners, but nothing I can share just yet.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 20 Investigate

I have made some off-handed comments here, and on Facebook and other social media platforms, but nothin solid or concrete yet.  So now is that time. I am pulling together several loose ideas and a couple more developed ones into a single narrative.  

All summer long I have been fairly focused on some "Basic-era" games.  In particular OSE, BXRPG, and BECMI.  I knew I was going to get a game together using one or more of these rules.  I also have a big campaign I want to do, War of the Witch Queens, which I have been going back and forth on; should it be Basic-Era (BECMI in particular) or Castles & Crusades.

The premise is simple really, deceptively so.
While our intrepid adventurers are doing their normal adventuring thing they notice that there are an awful lot of powerful, but low level, witches causing troubles.  Making power grabs and largely being a problem.  The adventurers discover, but some means not fully developed yet, that the problem is the witch hierarchy is in shambles.  Someone has murdered the High Queen of Witches.

I said this bit before, but every 13 years the witches gather to choose a new High Queen of Witches. While all the Witch Queens, leaders of their respective traditions, have a say in truth it is the current High Queen that chooses the new High Queen.  This year the witches have gathered and the High Queen has been killed.  Every Witch Queen suspects the others and the entire power structure is in shambles. 

That is the goal.  The characters have to investigate the murder and find out who did it.

Simple, right?  Well...the trouble is that for the most part I don't know who did it. At least not yet.

Here are the details.

Who was murdered? The High Queen of Witches.
How was she killed? It looks like a mundane dagger. But that can't be it right??
Why was she killed? Unknow, it is suspected that one of the out-of-favor Queens did it.
Are we sure? No. Witches are not allowed to harm each other.  This taboo gets more powerful as the witch increases in level.  The powerful the witch, the less able she is to harm another witch.  I call this the Pact of Baba Yaga. She demanded that no witch harms another or SHE will come in and do the harming. 
Ok, why was she really killed? To destabilize the power base of the witches.  The Witch Queens keep the lower level witches in line.  They can't harm them directly...but you can be surprised what they can do.

So, this puts me on an investigation of my own.  Essentially I have to go through the mystery myself and see where it leads me. But this isn't just a murder mystery.  This is a power grab.  Someone wanted the High Witch Queen dead to destabilize the witch power structure on purpose. Who would want to do that?  The other Witch Queens?  No. Can't be one of them. They can't actually harm each other due to the Pact of Baba Yaga.  Plus, why would they want too? Without that High Queen the witches will start warring, start causing trouble and basically doing all the things that got them all sent to the gallows and the stake the first time around.  Plus any new High Queen is going to spend most of her 13 years ruling just cleaning up the mess of the last 13 months.  No.  This is someone outside the hierarchy looking to weaken the witches.

But who?

Enter Kelek the Cruel.

Kelek has the notable distinction of being the first AD&D Toy Line product I ever bought. I thought he would be great as an antagonist, but in the end, I never used him.  In my investigations of Skylla, I also ran into more details about Kelek.  I learned that like Skylla, Kelek was changed to evil by the Heartstone. He also was a friend to Ringlerun, the good wizard. Skylla had been Ringlerun's apprentice, but now she works with Kelek.  Kelek seems more than happy to use her to his own ends.

Then I discovered two details that really sold it for me.  

First. Kelek was in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, Episode "Valley of the Unicorns", where he unwillingly served Venger.  That is not the important bit.  The important bit is who wrote the episode.

Yes. Paul Dini. The same Paul Dini that invented Harley Quinn, wrote SO MUCH material about Zatanna and gave us the definitive Evil-Lyn episode of the Masters of the Universe, "The Witch and the Warrior."


I don't know about you, but for me, that is a pedigree.

Second, and this happened while doing my investigations of both Kelek and Skylla and BECMI related merchandise, I found that Kelek was featured a lot in the AD&D coloring books and in the D&D story books for kids.

In one, The Treasure of Time, Kelek is creeping on Charmay (the good magic-user, and subject of a crazy idea of mine) where he discovers a map to the "Treasure of Time".  Long story (ok it is not that long) short, he finds the treasure and becomes young again, but loses all his knowledge of magic. 

He is humiliated by Charmay who laughs at him while he cries.

The thought occurred to me. Here is a guy that obviously already has issues. Bullied by Venger, humiliated by Charmay, and wants nothing more than to be the Master of all Evil Magic according to his bio in the Shady Dragon Inn and has no problem destroying Skylla once he gets what he wants.

I have been watching a lot of the new Harley Quinn animated series lately where they have Doctor Psycho as a full-on misogynistic asshole.  Further strengthens that Paul Dini connection (I know. He has nothing to do with that show, but there would have never been that show had it not been for Dini) and make Kelek the same.  It's not a stretch really.  Plus it also allows me to play with current politics in my game.  Taking an old misogynistic white dude (and likely aging incel. he had to lure those unicorns in some way) and make him the bad guy in a situation were witches/women hold more power than he does and he wants. 

I have not decided though if Skylla is working with him on this.  Either he has promised her the High Witch Queen crown OR if he is manipulating her as well.


After his defeat at the hands of Charmay, a bitter Kelek had no choice but to go back to magic school and relearn everything.  Only this time instead of a bright young man who had a friend (Ringlerun) with him, he is a bitter old-man in a young man's body.  That also makes him extremely focused. He doesn't go for the types of fun that a young magic-school student might get into. Instead he is bitter, focuses 100% of time on his studies and plots of revenge.  In the process, he sees "enemies" everywhere.  Everyone is trying to stop him or mock him and he is SOOOO much smarter than these fools around him.  It is easy to think of someone like this in real life. He hates his fellow students because they are so stupid in his mind. He hates his teachers because in his mind he has already done far more than they have. Every day that they have to teach him something he already knew long ago, but can't quite remember, is a stinging reminder of his defeat.

Why is Kelek going after the witches? Well he hates women and his old friend and enemy Ringlerun died of natural causes, robbing Kelek of the chance to kill him. 

Sometimes I like to make villains that you can relate too. It's my Lex Luthor philosophy.  Lex never thinks he is the villain, he is the Hero, and that flying abomination is the villain. 

Kelek is just an asshole whose thoughts are so twisted in on themselves that he doesn't care if he is the villain or the hero, he is just going make everyone that laughed at him pay.  No one will stop him because he is so much smarter than everyone around him.

And those types of villains are really fun to defeat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Witch Queens Gather

"Every witch owns a clock. It is a special clock in that it never seems to be working until one night of the full moon every thirteen years. Then the clock chimes thirteen bells. Each full moon the clock chimes one less, counting down from thirteen. Until the night of the last full moon.  During this time of the 13 Moons, the Witch Queens gather to choose a new Witch High Queen."

- From the Journal of Larina Nix 

Still working on my War of the Witch Queens campaign. 

I have the adventures picked out. I have some "Background noise." I think I even have my Big Bad figured out.

Now I just need my main NPCs.  Thankfully HeroForge has me covered!

All my Witch Queens and a few extras.

Now I just need about $1,300* to get them all printed!
*Well...not really that much. I already have a few.

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 18 Meet

"You meet in an Inn..."

Or not.  Meeting in an inn or tavern has to be one of the biggest clichés in Fantasy Gaming.  I mean, yes it works, but it is certainly a bit of a lazy meeting anymore. But does that make it bad?

Lately, I have noticed, especially with on-line game streamers, that they take the cliché and are very tongue-in-cheek with it.  I also think it is something that has largely been replaced by what is now called "Session Zero."

I like Session Zero.  You get to meet all the characters as they are being rolled up and some backstory is given. Plus there are other house-keeping items that are covered such as what the game is about, any house rules, and what the limits are.

"Meet in an Inn" and "Session Zero" are not mutually exclusive, but they are both typical of the styles of games they usually start.  "Meet in an Inn" is more common with old-school games and "Session Zero" with newer games.  There is also one other factor they represent; expectations of character deaths.

"Meeting in an Inn" is often situated in a game where character death is a likely occurrence. Even though the archetype of this trope, the meeting of Strider in the Prancing Pony, resulted in all the participants surviving to the campaign's end.

"Session Zero" is usually associated with the understanding, either tacit or implicit, that the characters have a good chance of survival.  There is often the aforementioned back story. 

For my "Order of the Platinum Dragon" campaign, I did do the "you meet in an inn" scenario.  Again the purpose of that campaign was to give my kids a "classic D&D" experience and I was not going to rob them of that.

For my "War of the Witch Queens" I have not figured out yet how the characters will meet.  I know how they are going to get on the trail of the mystery, the murder of the Witch High Queen, but before that, I am still at a blank.  But that is ok. There will be a Session Zero, so maybe we can all figure it out then.   Although. I really have wanted an excuse to use The Shady Dragon Inn.

It would give me an excuse to use these two,


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Kersy, The Witch Queen of Alphatia, Mystara (BECMI)

I knew my month of BECMI reviews and deep dives was going to be educational, but while I had hoped, I did not expect to find a new Witch Queen.  But there she was, in Module M1 Into the Maelstrom

In the module, we are introduced to a nascent Immortal, Kersy.  She is using her human guise as a 30th level Magic-user and she is the ruler of the Island of Turkeys.  If you are thinking she sounds a lot like Circe and her Island of Pigs then you are correct.  But.  Doing some deeper research into Kersy gives me a stanger tale.   Over at the Vaults of Pandius, they have expanded on her background a bit more. 

She is described as the distillation of Koryis' own unwanted thoughts, urges, and feelings.  
Koryis is the Immortal Patron of Peace.  While he was on his epic quest he sought to purge himself of evil in impure thoughts. He was successful and that "impurity" manifested itself as Kersy.

At least that is what his mythology says. 

We learn from M1 that she is a "beautiful maiden" and a "30th level magic-user." But other details are scant. From the Vaults of Pandius we learn that she is beautiful with long raven black hair and amber-colored eyes.  She is the Patroness of Witchcraft and Charms.  Certainly, she is more than just some cast of skin of evil.

She is also described as having "milky-white skin" (boring!) but I have been looking for an excuse to use Vanessa Williams as a witch since 1997.  Today is that day.

Kersy and Koryis

We first meet both of these immortals in M1 Into the Maelstrom.  It is obvious they have a connection from the start.  

Kersy (Vanessa Williams) and her "brother" Koryis (Armand Assante)

Back when I was an undergrad in psychology I read a lot of Freud and Jung. It wasn't required, I was (still am) a Cognitive Psychologist. But I felt it was important to my overall education to know my subject's history.    While I like Freud, I find his theories to be outdated and outmoded.  Jung on the other hand felt more like philosophy than psychology at times.  I have credited his "Man and His Symbols" as one of my most important "Appendix N" books.  

What is the importance of that here?  Kersy is Koryis' "dark anima" in Jungian psychology.  The description of Koryis' quest to rid himself of these dark, impure impulses sounds exactly like a quest to confront his Anima; who is Kersy.

Now if this is what happened then according to Jung Koyris is now forever incomplete.  Reading over the history on VoP it would seem that Kersy knows this. If we extend this to other Jungian archetypes then Kersy fits one perfectly. The Witch.  She is powerful, connected to the Earth, and a source of wisdom.  Koyris in his quest to rid himself of Kersy only weakened himself and gave his power away.

Kersy as a Witch

You knew I was going to come to this.  Kersy is not just described as a witch, she is listed on VoP as having the portfolio of Witchcraft and Charm. she is also described as being unique among immortals. She prefers to use her own magic for example.  She also seems to have become an immortal at the same time Koryis did due to their link.  So she hides from other Immortals, not having a Patron of her own, and lives in a cave on an Island filled with turkeys.
That's all rather disappointing.
Even a 30th level magic-user can do better than living in a cave somewhere.  So taking a page from my own games I say Kersy went on her own quest of Immortality and she got it, as a Witch Queen.

In this version soon after her "birth" Kersy, granted great power, but no learning on how such power should be wielded and let's just say poor impulse control, soon overpowers her jailers and sets her sights on the known world.  She travels much as her history suggests and in particular in Old Alphatia.  She studies magic everywhere and learns her magic does not come from the study of dusty tomes, she gets her magic from somewhere else. 
In the intervening centuries she learns much about who and what she is.  The divide between her and Koryis grew.  She still desires him and wants to make him hers. Maybe this is some desire to reunite their torn assunder soul or a darker desire to possess him in a way that was his desire but now forsaken and left with her desires.

Kersy, Witch Queen of Alphatia
31st level Witch, Eclectic Tradition
Female, Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral)

Strength 12
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Charisma 25

Saving Throws (Base)
Death Ray/Poison 2
Magic Wands 2
Paralysis, Polymorph 2 
Dragon Breath 4
Rods, Staffs, Spells 3

+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+3 for Wisdom

Hit Points: 87
AC: -8
(leather armor +5, Bracers of Protection +3, Cord of Protection +2, Ring of Protection +3, Dex 17 -2)

Base THAC0: 8
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers
Lesser: Familiar (Familiar Spirit)
Minor: Speak to Animals
Medial: Drawing Down the Moon
Greater: Witch's Blessing
Major: Polymorph Other
Superior: Longevity

Spells
Cantrips (8): Arcane Mark, Clean, Daze, Guiding Star, Mote of Light, Object Reading, Open, Summon Vermin
1st (9+3): Allure, Analgesia, Bar the Way, Bewitch I, Burning Hands, Call Spirits of the Land, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Eldritch Fire, Glamour, Mend Minor Wounds, Pace Without Trace
2nd (8+3): Alter Self, Beckon, Bewitch II, Blight of Loneliness, Burning Gaze, Continual Flame, Detect Charm, ESP, Evil Eye, Haunting Mists, Mind Obscure
3rd (8+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Bewitch III, Calm Animals, Clairsentience, Control Winds, Danger Sense, Expand Senses, Lethe's Curse, Toad Mind, Twisting the Heartstrings III
4th (8+4): Analyze Magic, Ball Lightning, Bewitch IV, Cauldron of Rage, Confusion, Divination, Forest of Deception, Instant Karma, Masque, Polymorph Others, Remove Curse, Threshold 
5th (7+4): Adoration, Bewitch V, Break Enchantment, Commune with Nature, Decimate, Enslave, Maelstrom, Nightmare, Sending, Song of Night, Ward of Magic
6th (7+3): Analyze Dweomer, Animate Shadows, Bewitch VI, Bones of Earth, Cackle of the Winter Crone, Cloak of Dreams, Greater Scry, Heroes' Feast, Mislead, Smitten
7th (6+1): Adoring Crowd, Astral Spell, Bewitch VII, Breath of the Goddess, Irresistible Dance, Mass Polymorph, Veneration
8th (6): Adoration (Overwhelming), Bewitch VIII, Demand, Eye of the Storm, Mists of Ecstasy, Storm of Vengeance

Magic Items
Alrune Statues, Bracers of Protection, Brooch of Shielding, Calming Tea, Cauldron of Plenty, Cloak of Night, Cord of Protection, Earings of Timeless Beauty,  Friendship Tea, Ring of Protection, Wand of Spell Storing

Kersy is something of a unique witch, so I made her an Eclectic Tradition Witch.  She is also a solitary witch so you will notice and no "ritual" spells.   
I also opted to raise her to 31st level from 30th to give her a bump in her power.
As an Eclectic, I was able to grab spells and occult powers from a variety of sources.  While a case could be made that she is a Classical witch or even with bits of the Mara thrown in, I felt Eclectic was the best choice. 



Books and Resources Used

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Review: B7 Rahasia (BECMI Special)

"You soon are lead to an elven maid, whose veiled grace and beauty outshines all others present as the sun outshines the stars-she is Rahasia.
"Will you aid me?" she asks."

Module B7 Rahasia

B7 Rahasia is an adventure for the BECMI version of the Basic rules.  Since module B5 the Basic modules all featured the new BECMI trade dress, but B7 Rahasia is an older adventure with some solid history in the D&D game.  But I am getting to the middle of the story.

Back in 1979 Tracy and Laura Hickman wanted to play AD&D but needed money to be able to buy the Dungeon Master's Guide. So like so many after them they wrote an adventure to sell so the could afford to pick up the DMG.   That adventure was Rahasia.

Later the Hickmans would go to work for TSR and here they would give us what is arguably one of the greatest adventures of all time, Ravenloft, but before that, they republished Rahasia in 1983 under the RPGA banner.  In fact, RPGA 1 Rahasia and it's sequel RPGA 2 Black Opal Eye were the first two RPGA adventures for the new BECMI Basic game.

Rahasia is for levels 1-2 and then Black Opal Eye for levels 2-3.


These currently go for a lot of money on eBay now.  RPGA2 Black Opal Eye is available on DriveThruRPG, but the RPGA1 version of Rahasia is not.

Rahasia would get a third printing again in 1984 as the new adventure module B7 Rahasia.
This new version was a combination of the two earlier editions.

For this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and my original print copy from 1984.

Module B7 Rahasia
Tracy and Laura Hickman. 32 Pages, color cover, black & white interior.
Cover art by Jeff Easley. Interior art by Jeff Easley and Tim Truman
Maps by Diesel & D.C. Sutherland Ill

This adventure is a primary example of what has been called "the Hickman Revolution" and while it was independent of the design of the BECMI rules, it does dovetail into the rules and feel rather well.  The Hickman Revolution can best be explained with the original requirements the Hickmans set for themselves in their adventures.
  1. A player objective more worthwhile than simply pillaging and killing.
  2. An intriguing story that is intricately woven into the play itself.
  3. Dungeons with some sort of architectural sense.
  4. An attainable and honorable end within one or two sessions playing time.
Another very strong point is an NPC/Antagonist that is more than just a mindless monster.  This can be seen in Dragonlance and can be seen in its ultimate form in Count Strahd from Ravenloft.

These all exist in one form or another in this adventure.  We have an evil cleric known as the Rahib, but is he really our "Big Bad" of this tale?  No. But again I jump ahead.

The plot begins as a simple one.  The characters agree to help an elven maid named Rahasia defeat a great evil that has come to her lands. This evil, the Rahib, has captured two elf maidens (Sylva and Merisa), Rahasia's father, and her fiancee. So the characters have to rescue the Prince this time!  He has also taken control over a group of elven cleric/monks (essentially) known as the Siswa.

This is an important bit, so I am going to interrupt myself here.  The Siswa are all mind-controlled, normally these are the elves that guard the temple, so they really should not be killed.  In the Hickman Revolution simply killing things is never the way to go.  This is true here.  The characters need to find ways to incapacitate the Siswa, but not kill them.

Defeating the Rahib is fine, and getting to him is the first half of the adventure.  The second half is discovering the REAL Big Bads.  You might have seen them on the cover.

Part 2, or the part that was covered in Black Opal Eye, deals with the real villains of this piece.  Here we learn that the Rahib had made a deal with the spirits of three dead witches, Karelena, Solorena, and Trilena.  These witches have now taken over the bodies of the elf maids and want to get Rahasia for Trilena.  They can accomplish this with the Black Opal Eye. When all three witches are freed they are much more powerful, so getting them before they can get Rahasia is the goal. Failing that any female character with a Charisma of 15 or higher is the target.

There are some traps, some false leads and some clues in the form of wine bottles.  But all in all a very effective adventure with some nice twists.  More importantly, it also gives us three (well four I guess) memorable NPCs.  While the Rahib can be defeated, and ultimately forgotten about, the witches, Karelena, Solorena, and Trilena, are far more interesting and really should come back again in a future adventure.

There are maps, pre-rolled characters to use, and of course an elven princess who will be in your debt.

The adventure also features something that the "new" BECMI modules all would feature, new monsters.
Here we get the haunt, the water weird (an AD&D import), and the bone golem who will not see an AD&D rendition until Ravenloft.

Ravenloft Connections
I have often stated that I feel that Barovia, the lands of the mists featured in the Ravenloft adventure and line, came from the B/X & BECMI world of Mystara.  Here is another connection.  First, the idea of body-snatching undead witches is a strong horror trope.  I am sure there are dozens of horror movies made before 1979 that feature this.  I am sure I have seen at least a dozen or more of these myself.


Plus like Ravenloft, Rahasia was written by the Hickmans. Even in the 5e era the Curse of Strahd adventure for 5e lists Rahasia as an influence.  Plus there are some other solid connections.  Like finding the same wines in Rahasia's Wizard tower and in Ravenloft Curse of Strahd.



For 5th Edition
Thanks to the efforts of the Classic Modules Today group there is a conversion guide for B7 Rahasia.  Classic Modules Today: B7 Rahasia (5e) is 10 pages and includes all the various stats you need to covert this adventure over to 5th Editon D&D.  In truth the conversions are very straight forward but it is nice to have them all in one place.  Plus for $1.95 it is really worth it.  Given the Ravenloft connections, I could see this as an adventure for 1-3 level characters in Curse of Strahd very easily.  You need the complete B7 module, that is not included here and there is no adventure information other than the stats. The Bone Golem and the witches, Karelena, Solorena, and Trilena get full stat blocks.

War of the Witch Queens
For me this is also a great starting module for my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  Three dead witches combing back from the grave to possess the bodies of three others?  If it can be done once, it can be done again and I have some great long term NPCs to harass my characters with.  Plus the mere fact that they came back now points to the upheaval in the Occult world that this War is having.
It also makes for a solid case for this game to be run using the BECMI rules.
Now there is a thought...

Other Posts & Links

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Motherland: Fort Salem for Dungeons & Dragons (all editions)

Last week was the Season Finale of Motherland: Fort Salem on the FreeForm channel.   The season was great, start to finish. It had great characters that showed a lot of growth and at least three different "What the Hell!" moments in the last few minutes of the last episode.

If you have not been watching then you are missing out.  Motherland gives us an alternate history where witches rose up during Salem and forged a pact with the then Colonies to protect the new country from their enemies.  There are fewer states in the US and a large portion, The Cession, was given back to the Native Americans in return for their help and magic.  The series follows three new witch recruits, Abby, Tally, and Raelle, as they go through Basic Training and survive as a unit.
There is a terrorist organization of rogue witches known as the Spree who resent the servitude that sends all witches to the Army.

    Honor me, make a place for me and my kind and we will win your wars.
- General Sarah Alder to Massachusetts Bay Militia, Say the Words    

The show features a full cast of strong, interesting women characters.  The leader of the Army is General Alder, a 300+-year-old witch, their drill sergeant is a woman. Even the President is an African-American woman.  Men are either tertiary characters at best (the Witch-Father) or eye-candy (Abby's two boy toys).  Tally doesn't even see a man until one gives up his seat for her so she can fly from California to Massachusetts.  Not that men are put into a bad light.  The Witch Father is respected and well-liked. Raelle's dad is proud of his daughter and worries about her.  It's just their stories are not as important here.  That's a nice change of pace really.

The witches are also not a Ms. Pac-Man trope. They are warriors, witches but also women and they are allowed to be all three. It really is quite enjoyable and very different from what I have seen in the past.  It has been a fantastic first season.

I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to catch up on the Bellweather Unit and their battle against the Spree and "The Camarilla", the "Ancient Enemy" of all witches.   This certainly sounds like a lot of fun.   But can I wait that long?


So what am I going to do?  Easy.  Convert them to D&D characters!

The witches of Motherland are perfect as adventurers really.  They are great as a group with Abigail as their leader, Raelle as the healer and Tally as the seer.   I don't know much about who or what the Camarilla is, but given what we saw in the last episode I am looking forward to it.

Witches vs. the Camarilla?  Yeah. Sign me up!

Basic D&D and D&D 5

D&D 5 is the latest and greatest version of the game but the Basic version from the early 80s is my game of choice these days.  So I figure I can do both.

Basic D&D (1981)
In this version I would use one of my own Witch classes.  But instead of Traditions, I would opt for family lines.
I am putting them all at 3rd Level since they "Finished Basic." I know. Dumb D&D joke. 

D&D 5th Edition
In this version, there is no proper witch class.  There is a warlock of course, but that doesn't feel like the right call here.  With their focus on combat, voice-based magic, leadership, and some healing the obvious choice is the Bard class.  There is even a perfect sounding group for them, The College of War.

Abigail Bellweather

Abigail "Abby" Bellweather, of the East Coast Bellweathers, is the leader of the Bellweather Unit.  She starts out in the show as an arrogant, if even spoiled, girl of privilege. By the end of the series she is the leader she was born to be.  Even her rivalries with Raelle and fellow East Coast witch Libba Swythe become something different as she accepts the responsibility of what being a soldier-witch means.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 11
Constitution:  13
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 17

Hair: Drk. Brown
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 10  AC: 7
Tradition: Bellweather family (Leaders) (For this I will use my Amazon Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Fighting Prowess
Spells: Fury of the Ancestors, Windshear* (Ritual), Suggestion

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Lawful Good
HP:  21   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Eldritch Blast, Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Featherfall, Heroism, Thunderwave, Phantasmal Force, Suggestion

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Tally Craven
Tally comes from the depleted Craven line. All her aunts had gone to fight in the Army and they all died.  She is the last of her line. She lived in the Matrifocal Allotment near Sacramento, California. She had not even seen a male until she answered her call of duty, an action her mother strongly wished her not to do.  Her power is to "see." She can detect disguised and hidden objects or people and might be one of the most powerful seers to come up in the ranks in a long time.
Tally is a sweet girl who loves with all her heart because that is what she knows.  She is fiercely loyal to her Unit.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 9  AC: 7
Tradition: Craven family (Seers) (For this I will use my Classical Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Detect Evil
Spells: Foretell, Detect Invisible, Witch Sense

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Neutral Good
HP:  24   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Detect Magic, Heroism, Identity, Thunderwave, Detect Thoughts, See Invisible

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Raelle Collar
Raelle lived in the part of American known as the Chippewa Cession where the Indigenous Tribal Federations are.  She is a healer of great power, like her mother was.  Her mother was reported dead by the Army and Raelle blames the Army and Gen. Bellweather in particular.  She doesn't want to be there and her plan was get enlisted to the infantry and get killed as soon as possible.  Her attitude earned her the nickname "shitbird" from Abby.
Raelle attitude changed when she met and fell in love with fellow cadet Scylla Ramshorn.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 11  AC: 7
Tradition: Collar family (Healers) (For this I will use my Pagan Witch Tradition and Basic Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Healing Touch (1d4)
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Sleep, Heal Affliction

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Chaotic Good
HP: 24  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Feather Fall, Healing Word, Sleep, Lesser Restoration, Warding Wind

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Scylla Ramshorn
Scylla is a "Necro" or a Necromancer.  Because their power makes others uneasy they are quartered in a different part of the base. We learn that Scylla's parents were killed when she was young.   She meets and falls in love with Raelle.  Later we find out she is part of the terrorist organization known as The Spree, responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country.  Her job was to recruit Raelle, but she actually fell in love with her.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 18

Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 4, Chaotic
HP: 13  AC: 7
Tradition: Ramshorn family (Necromancer) (For this I will use my Mara Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Glamour
Spells: Bewitch I, Lay to Rest, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 4, Chaotic Neutral
HP: 35  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting, Magic Initiate (Necromancer)
Spells: Chill Touch, Message, Minor Illusion, Toll the Dead, Truestrike, Bane, Charm Person, Disguise Self, Dissonant Whispers, Sleep, Enthrall, Lesser Restoration, Suggestion

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet.

Notes

For Basic D&D I linked to the Witchcraft Tradition that best fits each witch.  If I were to do something more like this I might revive my old "War Witch Tradition."  This is the ancient Celtic tradition of witches like The Morrigan and Scáthach.



For 5th Edition Bards felt like the closest match.  I originally had Scylla as a Magic Initiate (Warlock) to cover her other magical abilities and to represent her membership in the Spree.  But I changed it to Magic Initiate (Necromancer) to cover some of her Necro powers.  She is still too low-level to really take advantage of the necromancy spells.

I considered making them all Sword-Pact Warlocks and taking a Magic Initiate Feat at first level to cover their various Traditions/Backgrounds.  So Necromancer for Scylla, Cleric/Healer for Raelle, Bard for Abby and Wizard for Tally.  That might still work well to be honest.

*Windstrike is the basic attack ability of a Warrior Witch.  With her voice the witch can cause 1d6+1 hp of damage.

*Windshear is a ritual spell performed by multiple witches.  It is a shield from attack and it destroys whatever comes in contact with it.



The Scourge is a flail like weapon used by all witches.  It is long with a whip-like handle and a knob on the end that glows with the witch's magic.  It is considered a +1 weapon and does 1d6+1 points of damage.  In D&D 5th Ed it is considered an exotic weapon.

The real test will be doing stats for Sgt. Anacostia Quartermaine and Gen. Sarah Alder.



Other Editions of D&D

Building these characters was so much fun I could not help but think how other editions of D&D might work.

1st Edition AD&D
Bards are out because they are very different here.  I would use Magic-users and let them dual-class into another class to help.  Or even use Druids.

2nd Edition AD&D 
Ah now here is a chance to really try something fun.  Like 5th Edition, I would make them Bards, but I would also have them take the Blade kit from the Complete Bard Handbook.  Again like 1st Ed, I might let them dual-class into another class OR just allow them to take the proper spells.

3rd Edition D&D
So many choices here.  I would try out a Hexblade or Bladesinger for these.  I mean really, a witch-army has the Forgotten Realms written all over it!  Blasesigners and Witches of Rashemen are just about War Witches now.

4th Edition D&D
So many classes!  Ok make them Pact of the Blade Warlocks, let them take a multiclass feat at first level to add the other class features they need.  OR start them out as Witches from Heroes of the Feywild and then multiclass feats.

I might try each option on one character to see how it would work.  The choice is obvious.


She may be General Sarah Alder, but I know a Witch Queen when I see one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

HeroForge 2.0 Color

Crazy busy day today.  This working and school from home has me working more than ever.  Hell of a way to get job security.

I checked my email and I got my early access to the new HeroForge 2.0 with color, and I am happy to say that it really exceeds my expectations.

There are a lot of nice features, not all are in yet, but enough to make very, very happy I backed this Kickstarter and the original HeroForge Kickstarter.




You get a bunch of tools and textures to work with.




There are some pre-configured color themes that can really help get you started.



Not everything is ready just yet.  Likely good or I'd be spending too much money now.  This will likely be good for tattoos and designs.  If we can upload our own designs then I have a few custom tattoos I am going to do.



While there are plenty of colors to work with you can use a standard RGB palette to adjust everything.

Here are a few I made tonight.


My superhero character Justice.


A new version of my iconic witch Larina.  I love the shading on her hat.


Iggwilv and The Simbul from my War of the Witch Queens campaign.


Of course my two favorite witches. You may or may not be able to tell, but even Tara's fingernails and toenails are painted.  That is the level of control you have.

And my two newest characters.



Asabalom and Maryah.  These are my new druid and ranger characters for Old-School Essentials.  They have made appearances in my Pumpkin Spice Witch book, in NIGHT SHIFT and other places.  They have been my playtest characters for other things as well including a couple of Blue Rose adventures I have written.  I am quite happy with how they turned out.

Maryah, in particular, is just fantastic looking.  If you compare her and Justice to Willow, Iggwilv or Larina above you can see she has more musculature. Appropriate for a ranger and superhero respectively.


If you look you can see her eyebrow piercings are different metals, copper and two gold.

The minis are $45 each in the color plastic OR $145 to have someone paint it there.  Frankly, I am not sure how they are going to make money at $145 to paint a mini given the amount they are going to do.

I am going to at least pick up four right away.  Though it will likely be a couple of months before I see them.

Gonna have to sell more books to feed my mini addiction!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

No Magic Like Family: Angela, Dolly and Elvira

It should be no shock to anyone that I am a huge fan of Cassandra "Elvira" Petersen.  So when I saw this, well you know where my thoughts went!



I mean seriously? Dolly and Elvira in a TV show playing sister witches?? It's like someone on the internet was reading my secret stash of fan-fic...that I totally don't have.

Dolly & Elvira by Neon Horror
http://www.neonhorror.com
Dolly did a movie with a witch back in 86, A Smoky Mountain Christmas. Yes. I remember it.

I can't do a TV show. And seriously Hallmark, you can do 3,000 Christmas movies, would a Halloween one like this kill ya'?  But I can do RPG stuff.

And I know the PERFECT RPG book for this.

Background
Ok, I am going to add this to my War of the Witch Queens somehow.  Dolly's and Elvira's mother, a very powerful witch, has just died. I don't think she is one that sets off the war, but it is a precursor.  Their mother was the founder of the Home, Heart, and Hearth shops and both her daughters worked there.  Dolly went more for the "lighter" side of things focusing on the front side of the stores where minor magics are sold.  Elvira was naturally attracted to the darker, backroom side of the business that dealt in "gray market" magic items.

Just to make life easy for all of us, I am just going with "Dolly" and "Elvira" for their names.  No need to create new-weird character names.  Just pretend they are twin sisters and it all works out fine.

Of course, given this, only one woman could be their mother. Angela Lansbury.

This is another good example of mixing and matching my various Basic-era witch books to suit your own needs.



Dolly
Female Witch 14th level, Pumpkin Spice Tradition

Armor Class: 6 (witch gown, +3)
Hit Dice/Level: 14d4+14 (50 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 14
Morale: 11
Alignment: Lawful

Str: 12 Int: 15 Wis: 16 Dex: 12 Con: 14 Cha: 18

Dolly has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 14th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Dog "Popeye"
Lesser: Things That Man Was Not Meant to Know are Fine For Women
Minor: Resting Witch Face

Patron: Cardea, the Opener or Ways

Spells by Level
1st (5): Blessed, Forget Me Knot, Glamour, Speak with Animals, Cake and Tea (Ritual)
2nd (4): Heal Affliction, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, Witch Slap, Sage Burning (Ritual)
3rd (4): Bewitch III, Live Laugh Love, Ward of the Season, Merry Meetings (Ritual)
4th (3): Age Resistance (Lesser), Cleanse, Mirror Talk
5th (3): Calm Weather, Private Sanctum, Tripping the Light Fantastic (Ritual)
6th (2): Cloak of Dreams, Summon Higher Power
7th (2): Peace Aura, Hell Hath No Fury (Ritual)

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Female Witch 13th level, Mara Tradition

Armor Class: 6 (witch gown, +3)
Hit Dice/Level: 13d4+26 (60 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 13
Morale: 10
Alignment: Chaotic

Str: 11 Int: 12 Wis: 14 Dex: 14 Con: 15 Cha: 18

Elvira has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 13th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Hell Poodle "Gonk"
Lesser: Dream Invasion
Minor: Nightmare Shape

Patron: Hecate

Spells by Level
1st (4): Bewitched I,  Feel My Pain, Protection from Spirits, Vigor
2nd (4): Choking Grip, Ghoulish Hands, Hypnotize, Summon Witches (Ritual)
3rd (3): Bestow Curse, Edge of Blackness, Summon and Bind Imp of the Perverse (Ritual)
4th (3): Grave Sanctuary, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Ardour Flame (Ritual)
5th (2): Cry for the Night Bird, Summon Shadow
6th (2): Aspect of the Crone, Summon Nightmare Steed
7th (1):  Enchant Item

And just for fun, let's say that Angela is actually alive but faked her death to get her two daughters working together again to save the family business!  Hey Hallmark! Where's my job offer now?

Angela
Female Witch 17th level, Classical Tradition

Armor Class: 7 (witch gown, +2)
Hit Dice/Level: 19d4 (48 hp)
Attacks: 1 (weapon) or spell
Damage: 1d6 or witch Spells
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Special Attacks & Defenses: witch powers
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Witch 19
Morale: 11
Alignment: Lawful

Str: 11 Int: 16 Wis: 18 Dex: 12 Con: 11 Cha: 18

Angela has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 19th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Dog
Lesser: Gift of Prophecy
Minor: Drawing Down the Moon
Medial: Charge of the Goddess

Patrons: Hestia and Hecate

Spells by Level
1st (6): Color Spray, Fortell, Fury of the Ancestors, Obedient Beast, Speak with Animals, Witch's Mark (Ritual)
2nd (5): Augury, Blur, Demeter's Lament, Witch Sense, Favor of the Gods (Ritual)
3rd (5): Danger Sense, Dither, Scry, Third Eye, Family Curse (Ritual)
4th (4): Create Talisman, Divination, Eyes Everywhere, Hounds of the Underworld (Ritual)
5th (4): Dome of Deepest Night, Empower Distaff, Sending, Access the Library (Ritual)
6th (3): Analyze Dweomer, Empower Rod, Staff or Wand, True Seeing
7th (3):  Breath of Life, Magickal Conception, Sirocco
8th (2): Permanency,  Protection of the Goddess (Ritual)

Angela has the patrons of Hestia and Hecate. With their guidance, she began the Home, Heart, and Hearth shops.


And if you can check out the REAL shop at Neon Horror. Some great merchandise there including that Dolly & Elvira t-shirt.
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