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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Adventures in Hyperborea

Hat tip to Jason Vey for sharing these with me.

So if I know ANYTHING at all about Conan, likely it came from Jason Vey. In addition to being a top rate game designer, he is a Master's level scholar on Robert E. Howard.  So when he shares something related to Conan, or Howard or realted topics, I pay attention.

This week he shared this with me, Adventures of the Hyborian Age. This is an older site with adventures for the Mongoose d20 Conan game.  Jason is using this material for his OD&D-based Conan game which sounds fantastic.

He shared with me something he knew I would love. A Conan-flavored conversion of one of my favorite adventures of all time, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

The new adventure has a more Hyborian feel to it and draws heavily from Conan lore, in particular, Red Nails.

HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron

The adventure is, at it's heart, the same as S4.  Save now it has been reskinned for the Hyborian Age and all the background has been changed.

Now maybe I have been reading a lot of Eric Fabiaschi of late (or always really) but this sounds like a PERFECT adventure for  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea!

Eric has had a LOT to say about AS&SH (most of his blog) and S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  In fact he pulls in a lot of Jason Vey's own game, Amazing Adventures into the conversations too.

In fact, I am very curious to hear what Eric has to say about this adventure. (EDITED: I talked to Eric before this post went up. He has played it using AS&SH. He also pointed out my next point.)

Now AS&SH only takes us to level 12.  This adventure is right up against that level limit and might even be a bit more than a party can deal with. I would alter this by having a larger party to be honest or carefully scaling the encounters.

Outside of the Hyborian skin the biggest change is the Witch-Queen Xaltana.  She essentially combines the characters of Iggwilv and Drelzna into one.

So instead of this:


We get this:


It actually works out quite well. In fact, Xaltana is much more interesting than Drelzna ever was. (Sorry D!)

Appropriately the adventure takes on a more Clark Ashton Smith feel to it.  This plays so well into the sequel WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. Which could in like fashion be reskinned as The Forgotten Temple of Thasaidon. Hmm. Maybe that is something to try; borrowing heavily from The Tomb-Spawn.

She would make a great Witch Queen!  More on that later.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Noble

Today's topic is Noble.

I have to admit. I don't really do a lot with nobles or nobility in my games. Unless of course, they are a plot device.  Either a backdrop ("The King has ordered...") or the big bad ("Count Dracula, I presume.").



Honestly, I really should do more.

Recently I received my PDF of Adventures Great and Glorious from Joseph Bloch's Kickstarter.  I have not read it all in detail but so far I like it.  Between it and some of the rules found in Adventurer Conqueror King, there is a lot to help me with a good system of kingdom creation and management.   Who knows, maybe it will give me some ideas for my upcoming "War of the Witch Queens" game.

The gold standard of this sort of game is naturally Pendragon.  A game I adore but never got to play much.  Another one that comes to mind is Birthright.

Birthright is an odd one for me.  Odd in the sense that I know nearly next to nothing about it.  It came out during TSR's dying days. In the Second Ed era I was firmly entrenched in Ravenloft,  but by 1997 I was giving up on D&D.  I had started to move on to other games already (this was the height of my Mage years) and I was generally very disappointed in D&D by then. I had even sold off large sections of my collection to where I was down to just a few dozen books.

At a Gen Con some years ago I got to play in a Birthright game.  It was fun, I played a Goblin archer (fighter), but in this game, goblins were a lot smarter. So more like an angry halfling.

I don't own any Birthright books, which is a crime really.  So I am thinking of picking up the core set.   From my understanding, it would convert well to 5e.

What are your favorite games or supplements for dealing with PCs becoming nobles and ruling the lands?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Darlessa the Vampire Queen

I have had a long and sorted history with the "Vampire Queen" in my games.

One of the first adventures I worked on for OSR publication was called "The Tomb of the Vampire Princess" or "Vampire Queen" or "Palace" depending on my mood at the time.

I essentially saw it as a sequel of sorts to the original Wee Warriors / Pacesetter Games "Palace of the Vampire Queen".  But a few things happened. First Mark Taormino published his own "Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" which was AWESOME.  Then Bill Barsh of Pacesetter Games produced some sequels of his own with Castle Blood and Crypts of the Living.
So the need for my own sequel dwindled.

A couple years back Small Niche Games produced Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall. I had the pleasure of working on that product.  I submitted a character to be "Saint" in the game, Father Johan Werper, my very first D&D character ever.  When I got my copy I was so thrilled. Something I had wanted to happen for ages was going to happen, Johan was going to be a real saint in a "D&D" book! I opened it up and I was not disappointed at all!  Moreover the book's main author and designer Pete Spahn had added this section:
He died in a tragic tale that is recounted in the Hunt for the Dark Mistress, where he tracked down and slew Darlessa the Vampire Queen who had abducted his granddaughter.
Unfortunately, Johan was himself cursed by the taint of the vampire's blood. Rather than remain an undead abomination, he bid goodbye to his granddaughter and used the last of his strength to douse his body with oil and set himself alight.
Pete never contacted me about this and I could not have been happier!  Without knowing it he included things that happened in my game; Johan dying and leaving his granddaughter, Celene, behind (Celene was my first 2nd Ed character, and afraid of the dark.  Now I know why).  The use of holy oil in my games (does 1d8 damage to undead; more when lit) and of course giving a name to an enemy that had been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I first read about Elizabeth Bathory.

It was like throwing a deck of cards into the air and having them land in a perfect house of cards.

So modules V5 and V6 combined will cover a lot of similar territory to what I was going to do in my adventure. So I'll just drop that and keep the elements that are new.  The opening of the crypts.

I have a stack of various notes, maps, ideas and going through them all I think I have something pretty cool here.  I'll have to get it all together in time for my annual Halloween horror game.

Right now the working title is Descent into the Crypts of the Vampire Queen. It will be my homage to the great adventures of the Golden Era but also a nod to the two Vampire Queen adventures that brought me so much joy.

Here she is for Advanced Labyrinth Lord.

Darlessa, The Queen of Vampires
Female Vampire Witch, Demonic Tradition
No. Enc.: 1 (Unique)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
   Fly: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: -5 (bracers of defense, amulet of protection, ring of protection)
Hit Dice: 13
Attacks: 1 (touch, see below) or spell
Damage: 1d10, drain 2 points of Constitution, witch Spells
Save: W13
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XXII
XP: 11,400

Str: 18 Int: 15 Wis: 14 Dex: 18 Con: (18) Cha: 22

In addition to the powers of a vampire, Darlessa has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 13th level witch.

Spells by Level
Cantrip (3+5): Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Knot, Mend, Mote of Light, Object Reading, Spark
1st (4+3): Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Everlasting Candle, Hecate's Spiritual Dog, Minor Curse, Read Languages
2nd (4+3): Agony, Bewitch II, Burning Gaze, Enthrall, Ghost Touch, Produce Flame, Rite of Remote Seeing
3rd (3+2): Astral Sense, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Danse Macabre, Toad Mind, Tongues
4th (3+2): Arcane Eye, Bewitch IV, Elemental Armor, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations
5th (2): Death Curse, Greater Command
6th (2): Death Blade
7th (1): Wave of Mutilation

Occult Powers
Familiar (Undead Raven)
Evil’s Touch
Devil’s Tongue

Magic Items
Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Amulet of Protection* (also prevents cleric turning), bracers of defense, ring of protection, ring spell storing.

Links to Adventures



Links to my 'Vampire Queen' posts



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tanith, Iconic Witch for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

When Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea first edition came out I loved it.  At the time I was also doing a bunch of reading of what I was calling "Beyond Appendix N", or similar authors and time periods, but with much more of an occult bend to it all.  Not "real" occult, but pop-culture occult.  I wanted to get a good feel for what people were reading at the time D&D was created to really capture the idea of a "D&D Witch".
A lot of that reading would later go into the making of my Swords & Wizardry witch classes.
But AS&SH was never far from my physical and mental reaches.

A Witch Shall Be Born

With the idea of old witch families and dark occult secrets passed down generations I started putting together some ideas, overtly for a different project.
So back in 2014-5 I jotted this down in some notes:

Winters
The Winter family is very, very old. So old in fact that many people believe that the season was named for them. As their name implies their magic comes from the use and application of cold.
In this family, only women can become witches.  Once a girl in the family turns 13 her hair will turn white and this is the sign that she must travel north to train with the ancient Grandmother Winters.  The girls return to the family a year and a day later with the basic knowledge of their family witchcraft.  Once returned they will continue their training with other women in their family.  Each year they all congregate at a location determined by Grandmother Winters, usually one of the larger homes of the family.  The family gathers to begin their celebrations on the Winter Solstice, the height of their power.
The family is common in the northern, colder climes.  They own lots of land, but their homes tend to be more primitive than the local homes. Longhouses are most common. Women are almost exclusively witches, with the occasional priest or even wizard.  Men tend to be barbarians, warriors or occasional bard.  They are masters of survival in the cold.   Witches gain the Chill Touch spell for free.
Dark Secrets: The Winters Clan often are associated with darker, colder gods like Chernobog.  Their men are often accused of lycanthropy, mostly as werewolves.
Clan leader: Grandmother Winters
Current PC: Tanith Winters

Tanith Winters was born.

Tanith became my first AS&SH PC witch.  She never got past 2nd level since I tend to be the Gamer Master rather than the player.  Later I converted her to Swords & Wizardry and she became my first play-test Winter Witch.

I figure this is a good time to bring her home to Hyperborea.

The new Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea now has a Cyromancer class.  Something that I didn't have when I made Tanith.  To use the Winters family in AS&SH2 I would have some of the men, a rare few, become Cryomancers. Most would be Barbarians or Huntsmen.
Members of the Winters family tend to be shorter and smaller than other Hyperboreans. It has to lead to the pervasive rumor that they are in fact "Elf-folk" and not really human at all.

Yes. I named her for Tanith Lee.

Tanith Winters

Base Stats

Female Hyperborean Witch
Alignment: Neutral (but it is likely she will move towards Evil at some point)

Languages: Common, Hellenic (Hyperborean), Old Norse, Speak with the Dead, Speak with Nature Spirits
Size: M (Height: 5'2", 114lbs)
Move: 40
Saving Throw Modifiers: Transformation +2, Sorcery +2
Secondary Skill: Weaver (almost all Winters women begin as weavers)
God: Lunaqqua

ST 10 [+0 +0 2:6 2%]
DX 14 [+1 +0 3:6 8%]
CN 13 [+1 +0 80% 3:6 8%]
IN 16 [+1 75%]
WS 12 [+0]
CH 16 [+1 8 +1]

Snowy Owl Familiar ("Beira"): AL N; SZ S; MV 10 (Fly 80); DX 15; AC 7; HD 1/4 (hp 5); #AT 3/1 (claw, claw, bite); D 1/1/1; SV 17; ML 5; XP 11

Normal Gear
Winter robes, winter cloak, clothing, daggers (2), backpack, woolen blanket, chalk, ink and quill, polished steel mirror, incendiary oil, parchment (4), soft leather pouch (2), small sack (2), tinderbox, torches (2), wineskin (mead), writing stick, iron rations (one week), spellbook (contains all prepared spells), 1 gp, 5 sp

1st level Witch

Age: 14 (1 year and a day since training with Grandmother Winters)
AC: 9 (heavy cloak of winter)
HD: 1
hp: 5
FA: 0
CA: 1
#Attacks: 1/1
Damage: 1d4 (dagger), 1d4 (sling)
SV: 16
ML: 9
XP: 20

Abilities
Speak with the dead; Speak with nature spirits; Brew Poison (once per month) Ingestible I; Brew Potion 1/month (a hallucinogen, a paralytic, or a soporific);  Read Magic; Read Scrolls; Scribe Scrolls; Familiar (Snowy owl);

Spells
First level (1+1): Sleep, Write Spell

Gear and Magic: Scroll (detect magic), wineskin (sapphire wine*),  amulet of undead turning (TA 3),

5th level Witch

Age: 19
AC: 4
HD: 5
hp: 19
FA: 2
CA: 5
#Attacks: 1/1
Damage: 1d4 (dagger), 1d4 (sling)
SV: 14
ML: 10
XP:  200

Abilities
Speak with the dead; Speak with nature spirits; Brew Poison (once per month) Ingestible I, Ingestible II, Ingestible III; Brew Potion 2/month (a hallucinogen, a paralytic, or a soporific);  Read Magic; Read Scrolls; Scribe Scrolls; Familiar (Snowy owl); Brew Philtre 1/month; Dance of Beguilement; Effigy

Spells
First level ( 3+1): Charm Person, Shocking Grasp, Sleep, Write Spell
Second level (2+1): Darkness, Extrasensory Perception, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third level (1): Phantasm

Gear and Magic: Scroll (detect invisible), potion of healing, antidote, wand of freezing, ring of feather falling, amulet of undead turning (TA 3), Bead of Force, Defensive Bracers (AC 4)

9th level Witch

Age: 24
(add one point of Intelligence, IN 17, +one level 3 spell, 85% chance to learn)
Age: 19
AC: 4
HD: 9
hp: 35
FA: 4
CA: 9
#Attacks: 1/1
Damage: 1d4 (dagger), 1d4 (sling)
SV: 12
ML: 12
XP: 1,500

Abilities
Speak with the dead; Speak with nature spirits; Brew Poison (once per month) Ingestible I, Ingestible II, Ingestible III, Ingestible IV, Ingestible V; Brew Potion 3/month (a hallucinogen, a paralytic, or a soporific);  Read Magic; Read Scrolls; Scribe Scrolls; Familiar (Snowy owl); Brew Philtre 1/month; Dance of Beguilement; Effigy; Witch's Apprentice

Spells
First level (5+1): Charm Person, Light, Scare, Shocking Grasp, Sleep, Write Spell
Second level (4+1): Darkness, Extrasensory Perception, Identify, Ray of Enfeeblement, Ungovernable Hideous Laughter
Third level (3+1): Continous Darkness, Slow, Phantasm, Wind Wall
Fourth level (2): Freeze Surface, Moonlight
Fifth level (1): Cause Lycanthropy

Gear and Magic: Scroll (detect magic), wineskin (sapphire wine*), sapphire necklace, platinum ring, potion of healing, wand of freezing, wand of lightning bolts, ring of feather falling, ring of warmness, amulet of undead turning (TA 3), Defensive Bracers (AC 4), Crystal Ball, Horn of Valhalla

*sapphire wine is made by the Winters family. It is very strong and used as a bartering item between northern clans.

About
Tanith Winters was born on a very auspicious night. It was midnight on the Winter Solstice during a full moon.  She was born with a full head of blonde hair and bright blue eyes.  So notable was her birth that Grandmother Winters herself came to southern lands (though still considered the north by most others) to see this new babe.  To everyone's delight, she proclaimed that she would train this child when she came of age (13) and to everyone's gasps she also promised babe to her own grandson for marriage.  The grandson, Azhrarn, was already as a teen a powerful Cryomancer and was considered to be one of the most handsome men produced by the Winters clan. He was also a notorious rake and already showing signs of the family curse of lycanthropy.

Tanith grew and learned witchcraft from one of the most powerful witches in the world.  While she grew in power and womanhood her cousin Azhran also grew in power, but also more evil.  After her intial training Tanith took up with a group of adventurers in an attempt to delay her fate.  She knows that it is only a matter of time before Azhrarn finds her. She hopes that she will also be powerful enough to face him on her own terms.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Realms of the Crawling Chaos

One of my favorite Old School books has been Realms of the Crawling Chaos by Goblinoid Games.  It's a nice blend of both D&D Basic-era (via Labyrinth Lord) and the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.  We get a little bit of Call of Cthulhu and the Cthulhu Mythos from Deities & Demigods.

Available as a PDF and softcover for years it is now out in hardcover for backers of the Advanced Labyrinth Lord Kickstarter.


The book looks fantastic, as to be expected.









The hardcover book is 60 pages worth of material and deals with running a Lovecraftian-inspired game of horror fantasy.
A few new races are introduced for a Race-as-Class style game with notes on other classes to use in an advanced game; Sea-Blooded, Subhuman, White Ape and White Ape Hybrid.

Next, are some new magical formulae and some new spells all based on various Lovecraft sources. Enough to sprinkle into various dammable texts for the players to find AND then really get into trouble with.

We come to the monsters and all the old favorites are here. Comparing them to other sources of similar monster will give you plenty of differences in stats, which is a good thing really. Players who are familiar with other books should not have knowledge their characters do not.

A small section on Eldritch Artifacts, a staple of many of Lovecraft's mythos stories.

And finally a section on Psionics which differs from other books/games.

We get some appendices on Eldritch tomes and an artifact generator.  Appendix 3 covers the use of these psionic rules in Mutant Future. And Appendix 4 covers the stories and books used.

We end with the OGL section.

If I have one complaint there are no rules for sanity or madness. A fair staple of many Lovecraftian games.

The book is awfully fun and is full of great ideas.  If you are a fan of Labyrinth Lord and Lovecraftian tales then I would most certainly grab this.

For me, this is has been the "missing" part of both my BlackStar game and War of the Witch Queens.  I say "missing" but I have had the PDF forever.

This is actually a HUGE part of my BlackStar game.  This plus Starships & Spacemen So I am going to talk a little about in the frame of reference of that game soon.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Charmed Season 1, Episode 4 "Exorcise Your Demons"

Exorcisms seem to be a popular topic on witch shows of late. We start the fourth episode of the season with the Charmed One still harboring the Harbinger demon stuck in the body of their friend Angela.  We learn that six month back that Marisol (their now dead mother) was working with Angela to press sexual harassment charges against a male professor (the same from episode 1).
She gets depressed and tries to OD and ends up in a coma.   Here she is easy pickings for the Harbinger demon.


This is also when the Charmed Ones meet their first Elder.  Now Elders in the Original Series were powerful Whitelighters.  In this series, we meet Charity who seems to be a living witch.  She is the CEO of a non-profit organization to help women in developing countries.  Yes, Charmed is still wearing their politics on their sleeve.   But saying this is far more than just "fan service" it established two essential plot points. 1. Elders are living witches, not powerful Whitelighters and 2. that this is someone the girls would trust.  We also learn through Charity that Marisol was an Elder or Senior Witch; "the same thing" according to Harry.
Charity's plan is to kill the demon and thus Angela.  This doesn't sit well with Mel, who pushed Angela to press the charges; she feels responsible.   Eventually, Mel discovers that Angela is alive and trapped in her own body.
Mel convinces Maggie, Macy and eventually even Harry that Angela can be saved.  They discover a new spell, one that had been hidden but only revealed till all three girls agreed to try, in the Book of Shadows.   It is a witch exorcism spell based, according to Harry, on Santariea. All I know is that Mel sounds great speaking Spanish.
Again, I won't be spoilery with the ending, but not everyone makes it out alive.

What is New for this Series?
The Book of Shadows has a "search feature" not sure if I like this or not.
Elders are living, senior witches, and someone/thing is killing them
Demons look cooler.
Marisol was an Elder.

Elders in Your Game
Last week I gave you all Exorcism and Vanquishing spells so no need to go over that again.
But I do want to investigate this idea of Elders in the game.  Now if this were 3rd Edition/Pathfinder we were talking about then an Elder would be a Prestige Class for a witch. Much like my Imbolc Mage Prestige Class.

For OSR style games I would just make some sort of social structure.  Something like the Witenagemot of 7th century England.  This "Council of the Wise" in many ways typifies what I think the Elders should be about.  J.K. Rowling used this idea for her "Wizengamot" of her world.
In my world, I supposed I could call it a "Wiccegemot" or "Council of Witches (Wicce)".
What would they do? What powers would they have?  I would like to think that representatives of the major covens and traditions would be here.  Maybe this is the council that my Witch Queens are on that meet once every seven years. Or thirteen years, can't remember right now.  Looked it up, it's 13 years.

I would say there are special ritual spells that only can be cast by the Wiccegemot.  Powerful spells. Earth, or even Plane, altering spells.
I am also likely to give them access to secret spells of lower levels, just ones they don't widely share.

Right though, I'll just keep them mysterious and unknown.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Alice Kyteler, the "First" Irish Witch

But now wind drops, dust settles; thereupon
There lurches past, his great eyes without thought
Under the shadow of stupid straw-pale locks,
That insolent fiend Robert Artisson
To whom the love-lorn Lady Kyteler brought
Bronzed peacock feathers, red combs of her cocks.
-  William Butler Yeats, "Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen"

I love finding new things.  In this case, I found a new artist and a new (sorta) witch.

The artist is Neftali Hinojosa aka Hassly.  They have DeviantArt, Patereon, and Facebook pages, so there is plenty of chances for you to enjoy their art.

The witch is Alice Kyteler and she was the first woman to be tried for witchcraft in Ireland. Reading through her history she was a fascinating woman. Really a self-made woman who had made a small fortune and it appears as if she was targeted for her money.  Also, it is very likely she did kill her husbands.

Looking over Hassly's version of Alice I can't help but think she has to be some ancestor of my Larina.  Not one of the "good" witches to be sure, but all witches have a little good and bad in them, don't they?  They share the same hair color, eyes and taste in tattoos.

Reading over her trail there is a lot here to assume that she was a Demonic witch, but I am going to say this is just the populace spreading rumors.  There is a lot more to support her as a Venefica, or poisoning witch.  Her husbands were poisoned and she kept all sorts of jars of strange ingredients.
Plus I have not tried to make a Venefica in a while.

Alice Kyteler
Alice was the only daughter, and only surviving child, of Flemish merchants who settled in Ireland near Kilkenny.  She was married 4 times, but each husband died with poison being the prime suspected method. 
Dame Alice escaped her trial, but her chief servant Petronella de Meath  (Petronella of Meath) was burned in her stead.


Alice Kyteler (14th level witch)
The Witch

Strength: 12 Death Ray, Poison 9
Dexterity: 12 Magic Wands 10
Constitution: 16 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 9
Intelligence: 17 Dragon Breath 12
Wisdom: 16 Rods, Staffs, Spells 11
Charisma: 17

Hit Points: 41
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: 6 (Tattoo of Protection, on her chest and back)

Occult Powers (Veneficia Tradition)
Familiar: Robin Artison / Robert, son of Art / Robertum filium Artis (Alchemical Familiar)*
7th level: Brew Love/Hate Potion
13th level: Manufacture Potions

Spells
Cantrips (6): Arcane Mark, Black Flame, Daze, Irritate, Object Reading, Sound

First (5+2): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Command, Glamour, Increase Sex Appeal, Silver Tongue

Second (4+2): Ecstasy, Enhanced Familiar, Enthrall, Hold Person, Phantasmal Spirit, Twisting the Heartstrings II

Third (4+1): Bestow Curse, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Enlarge Familiar, Fly, Witch Wail

Fourth (4+1): Confusion, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Masque, Neutralize Poison, Withering Touch

Fifth (3): Endless Sleep, Nightmare, Waves of Fatigue

Sixth (2): Mass Suggestion, Repulsion

Seventh (2): Foresight, Wave of Mutilation

*Alchemical Familiars are created by venefica witches. They are similar to homunculi but are given life by a familiar spirit.  In Alice's case, this familiar was a demonic spirit. She was accused of sexual relations with it.

Alice Kyteler, Green Witch
Some point out that Alice is believed to be evil only through the lens of her time.  Indeed if she did not kill her husbands then she very easily could have been a pagan caught up in a wave of new religion.  You can play her as you like in your games.

If you want to know more about Alice, she is all over the web (more or less).
Hassly can be found on Pateron.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Witch of Loch-Durnan

One of the things I love about GenCon are the booths selling cheap games.  There are lots books from the dismal 90s and a ton from the dawn of the d20 boom.

The Witch of Loch-Durnan was from the d20 dawn published by Mystic Eye Games who had a lot of cool books back then, some I still use.

This book though has vexed me.
First look at that Jhoneil Centeno art.  I can't recall seeing his work before or since.

Then I could never find it online at a decent price and there is no PDF to be had for money or love.

The 72-page adventure was written by Andrew Thomson. It is for four characters 5th to 7th level for the 3.0 flavor of the d20 system. There are some new monsters or more to the point a system of generating new mutations of monsters like scorpion dogs and goat men.

Then there is the eponymous witch herself.


Mellie, is the witch of Loch-Durnan.  She is also the central figure of this adventure.   Reading this makes me realize that this might in fact be the missing piece of my War of the Witch Queens adventures.  She certainly is worthy to join their ranks.

Mellie - The Witch of Loch-Durnan
for The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

Female Half-elf
Witch 4th-level, Chaotic Neutral
White Witch* Tradition
Flock of the Moon Sisters Coven

Abilities
Strength: 14
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death Ray: 13
Magic Wands: 14
Paralysis or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Spells: 15

+2 to magic based saves

Hit Points: 12
AC: 8
To hit AC 0: 19

Occult Powers
Familiar:

Spells 
Cantrips (5): Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Ghost Sounds, Mend Minor Wounds, Message
First (2+2): Charm Person, Mend Light Wounds, Protection from Spirits, Speak with Animals
Second (2+2): Augury, Evil Eye, Knock, Mind Obscure

*The White Witch is a type of witch featured int he Hunt the Rise of Evil campaign from Mystic Eye Games.  It is pretty much what you think a white witch is. Non-evil, focused on healing, protection, and divination magic.

Pretty close to her d20 counterpart.  I like it! Can't wait to use her as a Witch Queen!




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Shadow of Night

“Witches see the truth plainly—even if their husbands are full of nonsense.” 
- Deborah Harkness, Shadow of Night

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

I read Shadow of Night with a little more enthusiasm than I did for A Discovery of Witches.  Witch Diana Bishop and Vampire Matthew Clairmont were time walking to the court of Elizabeth I and all of Tudor England was open to them.  We were going to see Shakespeare and John Dee and Christopher Marlow.  I could ignore the fact that formerly super-independent Diana was now no better than Bella in Twilight. I mean this part of English history was Deborah Harkness's forte, her area of expertise.

Well...I was not disappointed in the historical bits.  I would have loved more Shakespeare and Dee and much less Marlow to be honest.  Other characters are introduced but never rise above caricature to be honest; Gallowglass, is that your name or your job?   Plus the rules of Time Travel are very weird. Clairmont is in his own body from then, but where is his consciousness?  How can he remember in his own future? Why does Diana have her own body?  To quote Ron Stoppable, "time travel it's a cornucopia of disturbing concepts." 
Of course, they keep looking for Ashmole 782 pages and come no closer to finding it. In truth I can't even recall if they did or not since the ending pissed me off so much.

Here are the spoilers.
Diana and Matthew get back only to discover that the witches that have been pursuing them killed Emily “Em” Mather, Sarah Bishop's (Diana's aunt and foster mothers) partner.  Fucking great. Another dead lesbian.  Killed "off-screen" no less.

Look. This might not be an issue for you, but I made promises to people. So I emailed Harkness's publicist to ask if this is "undone" somehow in the next book, "Book of Life". I was told no.

So do not expect a review for Book of Life here. Like I said, I made promises and stick to them.

You can find Deborah Harkness on the web at http://deborahharkness.com/.

2018 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Books Read so far: 4
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: Dozens, more implied.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good for the most part, but some evil.
Best RPG to Emulate it: I get a World of Darkness vibe here, especially the old WoD, Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade.
Material for WotWQ: The historical setting is so much fun. Too bad the characters in it are not more exciting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Areelu Vorlesh, Witch Queen of the Worldwound

I picked up some Pathfinder minis a while back and this succubus in the mix that I did not recognize.  She also had a proper name, Areelu Vorlesh.  Imagine my joy when I discovered she was not only a succubus (well half succubus) but also a witch!

A trio of wicked witches, Iggwilv, Areelu, and Skylla
Turns out she is also a major NPC baddie in Pathfinder, the primary architect of the Worldwound in Golarion.  I am not sure what happens to her there, but she would really be a perfect addition to my War of the Witch Queens.  Plus I already have her mini!  Now I just need a Wayne Reynolds print on my wall.

Her Pathfinder stats are crazy. She is a 10th level witch, 10th level demoniac and an 8th level archmage.  Plus she has a lot of her half-succubus powers.  She has some truly outrageous stats too.

Areelu Vorlesh
The human that would become the witch Areelu Vorlesh has been lost to time. It was known that she was a witch in Deskari’s cult.  She was researching the nature of the separation of the worlds and planes (Plot hook!).  It was her success at opening the Worldwound that caused her Patron to transform her into a half-fiend.

Areelu Vorlesh (28th level witch)
The Witch

Strength: 14 Death Ray, Poison 3
Dexterity: 18 Magic Wands 4
Constitution: 18 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 3
Intelligence: 18 Dragon Breath 6
Wisdom: 18 Rods, Staffs, Spells 5
Charisma: 19

Hit Points: 73
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: -2 (Bracers of Defense, +3 Amulet of Protection)

Occult Powers (Malefic Tradition)
Familiar: "Gimcrak" (Quasit, Enhanced)
7th level: Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue
19th level: Curse
25th level: Polymorph Other

Succubus Powers
Fly (at normal movement rate).
Drain Constitution (1 point).
Immune to fire damage and poison.
Half damage from cold and electricity.
Takes double damage from "holy" items.

Spells
Cantrips (7): Arcane Mark, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Mend Minor Wounds, Message, Spark, Summon Vermin

First (8+3): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Command, Increase Sex Appeal, Mend Light Wounds, Protect Familiar, Quicken Healing, Shattering the Hourglass, Silver Tongue, Spirit Dart

Second (8+2): Ecstasy, Enhanced Familiar, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Rite of Remote Seeing, Scare, Twisting the Heartstrings II

Third (7+2): Bestow Curse, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Enlarge Familiar, Feral Spirit, Fly, Ghost Ward, Tongues, Witch Wail

Fourth (7+2): Abomination, Charm Monster, Confusion, Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Withering Touch

Fifth (6): Baleful Polymorph, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue

Sixth (6): Bewitch VI, Break the Spirit, Geas, Mass Suggestion, Repulsion, True Seeing

Seventh (5): Draw Forth the Soul, Eternal Charm Monster, Maze, Binding Ritual (Ritual), Gate (Ritual)

Eighth (5): Bewitch VIII, Damming Stare, Destroy Life, Wail of the Banshee, Imprisonment (Ritual)

So this version of Areelu Vorlesh is pretty powerful, though still not as powerful as the Pathfinder version (551 hp!) but still a very formidable foe and a worthy Witch Queen.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Magic School: I have Hogwarts on my Miskatonic U!

Mulling some ideas over lunch today.

My kids have both over the years expressed an interest in more Lovecraft and Cthulhu themed games but not really wanting to go full on Call of Cthulhu.

So a few things came to mind right away.

- San Scores and Sanity rules.  As a former QMHP and someone with degrees in psychology, I have been largely critical of most of the "sanity" rules I see in games.  In fact, most of them suck.  My son is using an elegant option for sanity. Your wisdom modifier plus your constitution modifier plus 10.   I will still use San points as Sanity x 5.

- The College of Dreamers is gone.  If I am using the 2nd Ed Glantri school of magic as my base, then I am going to say that the School of Dream was destroyed last year.  No one knows why and because of that attendance and new admits are way down.  What happened of course is they connected to the Dream Lands and the Far Realm (mixing my CoC and D&D 3 terms) and it killed them all.  This is the first phase of the return of the Old Ones.  Totally stealing this idea from the Wizards 101 MMORPG.  This is the big mystery of the 1st Years, what happened to the Dream College (not to be confused with the Dream Academy).  They won't learn till later in the term or even next year.

- With the Dream College gone, the School lessens admit standards.  What this means is Bards are now allowed. I am even considering a type of healer.

- All characters will have a Psionic wild power.   This is another side effect of the return of the Old Ones.  I just have not figured out if I am going to use the wild psionic powers of Basic Psionics Handbook or Realms of Crawling Chaos.  I am going to use both books in other ways.

So this game will have much more horror influences even though I am planning on avoiding using demons and devils for the most part.  Undead will be fine. It is Glantri afterall.  I will add some of elements from Ravenloft, though "Gothic Horror" and "Cosmic Horror" are not always a good mix.

Not 100% sure how this will all fit into the "War of the Witch Queens", but I have lots of time to figure that one out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Magic School: Going Back to Glantri

Curse my gamemastering ADHD!

So despite the fact that I have not one, not two, but THREE D&D 5th Edition games going, I was working out some details of my Magic School game using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

So last night I pulled out my GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri by +Bruce Heard and my Glantri: Kingdom of Magic.

I thought I might run it set in Glantri's past, 800 or so AC.  OR even 1000 AC which is close to the present day for the Gazetteer.  My current year is 1414-something AC.

But there is so much great stuff here.

This is going to focus 100% on the magic school so the political goings-on will be part of the background noise.

Though I DO want to expand on my whole Ravenloft is from Mystara/Glantri idea some more too and introduce a young professor of Alchemy from Boldavia, Strahd von Zarovich. Gives me an excuse/hook to drop in Ravenloft II.

But back to the school.

There are the Seven Secret Crafts of Magic in the Glantri School of Magic; Alchemy, Dracology, Elementalism, Illusionism, Necromancy, Cryptomancy (rune magic), and Witchcraft.

These were restructured in the 2nd Ed book, notably Witchcraft becoming Wokanism and Illusion dropped in favor of Dream Magic.  I am keeping Dream Magic from one and Witchcraft from the other.

I am thinking of adding others.  I would love to add a School of Healing; an exception to the normal rule of priests/clerics.  And MAYBE Druids.   I know they don't fit, but I like them.

Couple things I am considering.  Back in the Day I had a wizard character, Phygora, who was a
Glantri trained mage, but he "disappeared".  In reality, the mini I used belonged to my old DM.  He recently sold them all to me so now I have all these REALLY old lead minis including a recently repainted Phygora.  So guess who is now the new Headmaster!  Dosen't matter if I set this in the present or the past since in my game Phygora became something of a time-traveler.

I know that this campaign will go from level 1 to 7 (or 0 to 6), after that I want to move it over to my War of the Witch Queens.   I was talking with +Brian Isikoff this morning and he is considering doing something with Magic School grads and Bruce Heard's Calidar.  I think that is a fantastic idea!
Flying magic ships, flying circuses, I am SO there.

I just need more time to play!
But in the meantime, I can work out all these details.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: The Simbul's Gift

I am doing the Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge again this year, hosted by Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf.  This year I also want to focus on the Forgotten Realms, so I am going to combine my reading as much as possible.

So the obvious place (to me) to start is a book about The Simbul, the Witch Queen of Aglarond.  Is that what I got?   Well...

I had been warned previously that this was not a great book, and it isn't, but it is nowhere near as bad as I was lead to believe.  The author, Lynn Abbey, has a solid reputation in fantasy novels. Her work on the Thieves' World novels alone secures her place as one of fantasy's great authors.

So I guess I was suspecting more in this one.

We get a lot about the Simbul.  She is somewhat vain (ok a lot) and capricious, but she also has plans.  She wants to get her sometime paramour Elminster a gift. She scrys and sees the perfect gift, a horse named Zandilar's Dancer. Trouble is it belongs to a half-elf lad.  Her machinations over the horse get her and the owner Ebroin into all sorts of trouble, even drawing the attention of the Red Wizards of Thay.

While I loved the background on the Simbul and like the information on Thay and the Red Wizards I felt this was really three stories crammed into one. Watching her interact with Ebroin, either as herself or in disguise, and watching her interact with a couple of Red Wizards made me realize that the Simbul has a lot of acquaintances, a lot of enemies, but no close friends. Even her people fear her more often than not.  While she is not presented in the most favorable of lights here I could not help but really like her.  I could see how she got where she was and how disconnected she must feel from everything and everyone except Elminster (who is not really in this book at all).  I wonder if she actually loves him or feels she does since he is the only other person that could possibly relate to her.  There is affection for her sisters, but even the seem aloof to her.

In the end of the tale the horse is all but forgotten and even the reasons for stealing him or not stealing him seem moot.

The Simbul is a like a storm. She comes, she goes, and she can leave destruction in her wake. Despite (or because of) that she is still a fascinating character and one I would love to read more about.

You can find Lynn Abbey on the web here: http://www.lynnabbey.com

2018 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Books Read so far: 1
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: The Simbul, aka Alassra Shentrantra Silverhand.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches:
Best RPG to Emulate it: This book screams AD&D 2nd Edition.
Use in WotWQ: Yes.  The Simbul might end up being one of my central Witch Queens.

Forgotten Realms Date: 1368 DR

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Circe for Basic-era Games

Circe by Boris Vallejo
Getting ready for tomorrow's This Old Dragon and boy is it ever a fun one.  No spoilers, but I wanted to do something above and beyond the normal offering.

The issue has articles about the Holmes and Moldvay versions of the Basic Set.
Boris Vallejo is on the cover and the subject of an article.
And Giants of the Earth deal with some Magic-users.  Including one of my all-time favorites.

Circe

I spent my childhood reading the myths of ancient Greece.  One of my favorite characters was Circe.
So when I got my first copy of Deities & Demigods I went first to the Greek Mythos.
I was not overly thrilled with how they depicted Circe, a Chaotic Evil "Black Sorceress", but I also was not surprised.
In college, I reread the Odyssey and I found Circe was much more of a complex character than most people gave credit to.  Yes, she is not good and certainly selfish.  But I like to think there is more to her than that.
The Katerine Kerr penned article in Dragon #52 is a vast improvement over the DDG version.  Given all the subjects of the magazine, I wanted to present Circe as a Basic-era Witch.

Circe has always been the poster-girl for what I call the Classical Tradition of Witchcraft.  These are the witches of myth and legend, but not the ones of faerie tales.

Circe
Witch Queen of Aeaea
Witch (Classical Tradition) 19th level

Strength: 11 Death Ray, Poison 7
Dexterity: 13 Magic Wands 8
Constitution: 10 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 7
Intelligence: 12 Dragon Breath 10
Wisdom: 14 Rods, Staffs, Spells 9
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 39
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
AC: 7 (Cord of Protection, AC 7)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Sow (Autolycus)
7th level: Temporary Magic
13th level: Permanent Magic
19th level: Witch's Blessing

Spells
Cantrips (6): Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Mend, Object Reading, Quick Sleeping
First (6+2): Bewitch I, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Detect Invisible, Glamour, Silver Tongue, Sleep,  Consecration Ritual (Ritual)
Second (5+2): Alter Self, Enthrall, ESP, Hold Person, Mind Obscure, Nausea, Suggestion
Third (5+2): Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Fly, Hesitate, Lethe' Curse, Mind Rash, Toad Mind
Fourth (4+1): Animal Growth, Charm Monster, Confusion, Polymorph, Slow
Fifth (4): Bewitch V, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Hold Monster
Sixth (3): Control Weather, Geas, Legend Lore (Ritual)
Seventh (3):  Eternal Charm Monster, Massmorph, Veneration
Eighth (2):  Polymorph Any Object, Imprisonment (Ritual)

Compared to the stats in the article I am very pleased with this.  The Witch Circe's occult powers more than makeup for the Magic-User Circe's psionic powers.  Granted not a one-for-one, usually with a spell swapped here an there. 

Rereading my own writing here I think that the "Witch's Blessing" occult power was very much modeled after Circe and a gift she gave Odysseus in one of the myths I read.

See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Iggwilv, Witch-Queen of Perrenland: Pathfinder Stats

It might feel like I am phoning this one in...and I am!  But seriously, work is crazy busy right now and to be honest these stats are top notch.

Over on the Sages of Oerth-Greyhawk page on Facebook, Randy Davis is doing a hell of a job of stating up some of the "big names" in Greyhawk.  I noticed his Zuggtmoy write-up a couple of days ago and thought it was great.  I did some digging and found his takes on GwynharwyfJuiblexFraz-Urb’luuYeenoghuGraz’ztOrcus, and Demogorgon.  I then found his take on Iggwilv and saw he used a lot of the same pictures I did.  So I immediately liked it (and "Liked" it).

Here is his take on Iggwilv. You can see it on Facebook and it is reposted with his permission below.
If you like his work, pop on over the Facebook page(s) to let him know.  He put a lot of work into these.

Iggwilv, the Witch-Queen of Perrenland
CR 31 / XP 13,107,200
Medium human CE female archwizard 10 / wizard (arcane crafter) 20
Init +8; Senses arcane sight, darkvision 60’, see invisibility; Perception +31

DEFENSE 
AC 33, touch 24, flat-footed 27 (armor +4, deflection +5, dex +6, insight +1, luck +2, natural +5)
hp 346 (30d6+210+31)
Fort +23, Ref +22, Will +25; evasion
DR 15/cold iron and good, Immune all devices and spells that gather information (detect, scry, etc.), electricity, movement-impeding effects, poison, Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10, SR 36

OFFENSE 
Speed 60 ft., fly 80 ft.
Melee staff of power +22/+17/+12 (1d6+8)
Ranged touch +21
Special Attacks: Archwizardry 5/day, Bypass Spell Resistance, Spell Echo 5/day

Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 30, Concentration +44)
9th gate, imprisonment (DC 33), quickened maze, extended shapechange, extended time stop, wish
8th extended greater planer binding (DC 32), extended dimensional lock, quickened forcecage (DC 32), maximized horrid wilting (DC 34), extended mind blank, trap the soul (DC 34)
7th banishment (DC 31), quickened flesh to stone (DC 31), quickened greater dispel magic (2), extended project image, soul transfer
6th maximized chain lightning (DC 30), maximized disintegrate (DC 30), extended mislead, extended planer binding (2), extended repulsion (DC 30), maximized and quickened scorching ray, extended true seeing, maximized undeath to death, quickened wall of force (2)
5th maximized acidic spray (DC 31), maximized cone of cold (DC 29), dismissal (DC 29), maximized and quickened magic missile, extended overland flight, sending, extended telekinesis (DC 29)
4th extended charm monster (DC 28), extended dimensional anchor (DC 28), quickened final sacrifice, extended greater false life, extended greater invisibility, quickened magic circle against chaos, extended sacrifice
3rd extended create soul gem (DC 29), extended displacement, extended fly, extended greater magic weapon, extended protection from energy, quickened resist energy (2)
2nd blindness/deafness (DC 28), extended glitterdust (DC 28, 2), extended hideous laughter (DC 26), extended invisibility, extended mirror image (2), quickened true strike, extended web
1st maximized chill touch, extended grease (DC 27), extended mage armor, maximized magic missile (2), extended protection from evil, extended protection from good, extended shield
0 light, mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation

STATISTICS 
Str 15, Dex 23, Con 24, Int 38, Wis 13, Cha 29
Base Attack +15; CMB +17; CMD 61

Feats: Augment Summoning, Craft Construct, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wondrous Item, Demon Mastery, Extend Spell, Ironclad Logic, Greater Spell Focus (Conjuration, Necromancy), Greater Spell Penetration, Maximize Spell, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Knowledge – Arcana), Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Soul-Powered Magic, Spell Focus (Conjuration, Necromancy), Spell Penetration, Superior Summoning

Skills: Acrobatics +56, Diplomacy +47, Escape Artist +36, Intimidate +39, Knowledge (arcana) +55, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +44, Knowledge (engineering) +44, Knowledge (geography) +44, Knowledge (history) +44, Knowledge (local) +44, Knowledge (nature) +44, Knowledge (nobility) +44, Knowledge (religion) +44, Knowledge (the planes) +44, Perception +31, Sense Motive +31, Spellcraft +55, Use Magic Device +44

Languages: Abyssal, Common, Celestial, Draconic, and Infernal
SQ Arcane Servant, Metamagic Enhancement, Selective Targets, Shaped Area
Each day Iggwilv casts extended greater false life, extended mage armor, extended greater magic weapon, extended mind blank and extended overland flight.

Contingency: If Iggwilv is ever petrified, a stone to flesh spell affects her.
Demon Mastery (feat): When summoning demons Iggwilv gains a +2 on Charisma checks made to resolve the effects of planer binding and similar spells. Additionally, whenever she uses a spell to call or summon a demon her effective caster level is +1 for resolving its effects.

Permanent Spells: Iggwilv has used permanency to make the following spells permanent upon her: arcane sight, darkvision, read magic, see invisibility, and tongues.
Inherent Bonuses: Through a combination of books from Xagyg’s library, her own levels and wish spells, Iggwilv has a +5 inherent bonus to all six of her abilities.

Lilitu’s Kiss: Iggwilv has secured the cooperation of a lilitu demon named Tsatchti, and bears her name as a tattoo-like mark on her right shoulder. This gift grants Iggwilv a +2 profane bonus to her Charisma and saving throws. Iggwilv’s weapons are also treated as being chaotic for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction. The mark can be removed by a dispel chaos spell.

Combat Gear: scroll of limited wish (2), scrolls of monster summoning VII (4), VIII (3), IX (2), amulet of natural armor +5, belt of battle, Boots of Swiftness, bracers of mighty constitution +6, Cloak of the Witch Queen, dusty rose ioun stone, gloves of storing, headband of protection +5, ring of free action, Ring of Epic Wizardry VI, staff of power (16), Robe of the Abyss, rod of greater quicken metamagic, 25,000gp in diamond dust for wish, true seeing ointment (4), 10,000 gp in rare incense and offerings for gate, 3000 gp in ruby dust for forcecage, star sapphire worth 22,000gp for trap the soul

Belt of Battle: This belt grants a +2 competence bonus on initiative checks. This is a continuous effect and requires no activation. In addition, a belt of battle has 3 charges, which are renewed each day at dawn. Each time you activate the belt, one of the black pearls set into its buckle turns white. The pearls return to normal when the belt’s charges renew. Spending 1 or more charges grants you an extra action, which must be taken immediately (before you take any other action). 1 charge: 1 move action. 2 charges: 1 standard action. 3 charges: 1 full-round action. Caster Level 13

Boots of Swiftness (minor artifact): These soft-soled leather shoes grant their wearer a +6 enhancement bonus to Dexterity. The wearer’s speed doubles (this does not stack with any magical or supernatural enhancement to speed), she gains the evasion ability (as the rogue class feature), and the wearer’s jumping distance is not limited by her height. The wearer gains a +20 competence bonus to her CMD, and on her Acrobatics and Climb checks. Three times per day, the wearer can utter a command word to activate haste as a swift action. Caster Level 25

Cloak of the Witch Queen (major artifact): Wearing this cloak grants the wearer a +8 enhancement to Intelligence, a +6 enhancement to Charisma, SR 36 and +5 resistance on all saving throws. The wearer can plane shift at will (as per amulet of the planes). Caster Level 30

Robe of the Abyss (minor artifact): The wearer of this robe enjoys DR 15/cold iron and good, immunity to electricity and poison, and resistance to acid 10, cold 10, and fire 10. Caster Level 25
(converted from Savage Tide epic 3.5 to Pathfinder)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Under Her Spell

"When a witch has a feeling it must be listened to, and promptly." - Isabella Fox, Mediocre Witch.

Under Her Spell by Bridget Essex came to me from a variety of different means.  One, which I'll mention in detail below, was because she was the author of another book I had read.  The second, though I didn't know it at the time, was because it was an update to a book I had read a while back.

First though to the book proper.  Under Her Spell (and let's be honest here. How was I NOT going to grab this book?) deals with Isabella Fox (a very mediocre witch) and her talking familiar Alice.  Isabella has just been run out of her last town and she needs a new job.  As a witch for hire, especially one that is only so-so, she doesn’t have a lot of options.   She spots an ad for a town that needs a witch to cast one spell a year. How could she possibly screw this one up? So she ends up with the town of Benevolence.  Benevolence is quiet on the verge of boring. The town is full of "Shifters", people that can take animal form and have their own type of magic.  She only has one spell to cast every year (and she is not even convinced it’s needed) and it would be the perfect gig.  Except for the Outcast.  The outcast is Emily Deer. Her ancestor betrayed the town to the Wolf of Winter and now her whole family is outcast.  Since Isabella doesn't even believe the Wolf is real (and whom she is supposed to cast the spell to ward off) she seeks out this strange, and beautiful outcast.

And that is where it hit me that I had read this book already...sort of.  I had read "One Solstice Night" by Elora Bishop some years back.  Well, Elora Bishop is Bridget Essex.  One Solstice Night is just a section in Under Her Spell.  The remaining sections cover Imbolc (a ghost story) and the Equinox (dealing with an ancient god).

The common theme though is love. Love of friends, family and of course romantic love. Though to use a quote, "there was plenty of magic."  Isabella and Emily are a great romantic couple. Emily is so down to earth and Isabella is such an air head (but in the best ways possible) that you can't help but root for them.  The only couple that is better is Virago and Holly (they are below).

There are a lot of cool locales that I hope we get to see in Essex's other books (again, see below).  The Hag Bar in the World’s Largest Swamp was a really cool idea. It was very easy to see all these witches, holding brooms and their drinks walking around, drinking, chatting.  I wish I had thought of it.     Benevolence is an interesting town.  I enjoyed the casual magic people were using and Essex did a great job of detailing the inhabitants.  The Rose Temple is a fantastic setting for any D&D game (ghosts and all) and I can't wait to read more about Arktos City from her other books.

Now I came to Bridget Essex via another book.  I had been searching for a book where a Knight falls in love with a Witch.  Spend any time here and you know I love witches but I am also fond of Paladins.  I was looking for a book then where a knight in shining armor finds a witch and falls in love with her.  What I ended up finding in my search was A Knight to Remember by Essex.  It had everything I was looking for, a dragon, a knight, a witch and even librarian (my current witch character is also a sage).  It just didn't have them in the order I was looking for!  The knight (Virago) and the librarian (Holly) fall in love, and the witch is the librarian's brother!  Still. This was also a really, really great read. It introduced me to Essex (or re-introduced me) and to her creation of Arktos City.  I will say that Virago is one of my favorite charcters ever.  She is so pure and focused on her task, duty and mission that she could have come off as a complete jerk, but instead, she was noble and just.  She really was the epitome of a paladin in my mind.
From this book and her website, I found so many other books including Under Her Spell.

A Knight to Remember is another fun read, but not much in the way of witches in it.  Though I have to admit I was cheering at the end during the Ren-Faire Jousting scene.

I am going to be reading more of Essex's books. She has a gift for writing and for making characters you really want to cheer on.  Plus I have a guess on what is going to happen next for Emily and Isabella and I need her to write the next book so I can find out if I am correct!

Bridget Essex can be found on the web at: https://bridgetessex.wordpress.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 16 (16.5 if you count AKtR)
Level: Crone
Witches in this book: Isabella in Part One and Three, her classmates and various other witches in Part Two.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Isabella is a mediocre witch.  No, she is all good.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Lots of great choices to be honest. Arktos City feels like it is right out of Blue Rose.  The openness of witches, shifters and same-sex love is also right out of Blue Rose.
Virago, the knight in A Knight to Remember, is a Rose Knight in all but name to be honest.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! In fact I would love to have Isabella and Emily make an appearance as guest stars.  Plus her witches drink inordinate amounts of tea just like mine do. How can I say no to that?

In truth, there is so much great stuff here for a game.  Here and there in her books Essex has built a mythology and a history worth exploring. From her knights, to Arktos City, to the Temple of the Rose Goddess and her magical academy. Not to mention all the shifters and witches!

Gamers also already know the knight Virago.

Here she is on the cover of a Knight to Remember.


And again on Q Workshop's Classic RPG Dice Set!


I know, both Essex and Q-Workshop legal purchased the same bit of stock art and it might be a little tacky of me to share this.   But I will admit I bought those dice just because they had "Virago" on them.  I already have some dice for War of the Witch Queens, but I might sneak these in.

Looking forward to reading more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast

I spent some time over the long weekend reading through Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition. I have the previous editions and this one captures the same feel of the pulp-era adventures.  It is a fun game in it's own right but in truth, I am not at a point anymore where I want to learn a bunch of systems.
I am very, very happy with my world of OSR and B/X so I set out to convert BoL over to B/X D&D.   I also quickly discovered that a one to one conversion is not always the best idea.

Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition is a low-magic, and dare I even say, low-powered game.  Even the main antagonist would not really convert to very high level given most of the advice I have seen online.

I went into Barbarians of Lemuria with two goals.  First, I want to get some more information on Lemuria for my own games and add this feel to my current "Second Campaign" game.   Secondly, I want to convert the main antagonist, Methyn Sarr, into something I can use for my "War of the Witch Queens" game.   I'll detail the first as it happens, but I can talk about the second now.

Barbarian's of Lemuria, along with Crypts & Things, share an ethos and a feel with another favorite game of mine, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  In my mind all three can be combined to make a Pulp-fanstastic, old-school D&D like-game worthy of any mighty thewed barbarian or crafty sorcerer. Mix in a little DCC or Lamentations of the Flame Princess and you have a heady brew.   There is a lot to love here, I just wish I had the time to do all of these games the justice they deserve.

Of course, the antagonist, Methyn Sarr, caught my eye.  She is described as "the Witch Queen of the Fire Coast" and the devoted agent of Zaggath, Lord of Fire.  She is fierce, cruel, beautiful and deadly. Everything I love about an evil witch.  A direct conversion didn't feel right.  No one is afraid of a 3rd level witch*.  (*the suggestion that 1 HD = 5 LB has been thrown out on the internet.  So her 12 LB would be 2.4 HD).

Instead, I looked at her Arcane Power (16) and her careers.   She can cast Third Magnitude spells which I figure are about 6th-8th level for witches.  Since I was looking at AS&SH that puts her 11th level (or 12th).  I wanted something a little more impressive, so I also looked at my own Witch stats for 13th level.

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch 11th level (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, +Jeff Talanian)
Chaotic Evil

Race: Human
Secondary Skill: Torturer

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Casting Ability: 11
Fighting Ability: 5

Hit Points:  24
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy
7th level: Animate Broom
9th level: Witch's Apprentice

Spells (due to her connection to Zaggath she may also cast Pyromancer spells)
First: (5) Burning Hands, Charm Person, Influence Normal Fires, Shocking Grasp, Sleep
Second: (5) Cause Blindness, Flame Blade, Flaming Sphere, Infernal Tongues, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third: (4) Black Cloud, Explosive Runes, Fireball, Witch Fire
Fourth: (3) Fire Shield, Mirror Mirror, Transfer Wounds
Fifth: (2) Magic Jar, Produce Bonfire
Sixth: (1) Disintegrate

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch, Malefic Tradition 13th level (The Witch)
Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 29
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level:  Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue

Spells 
Cantrips: Black Flame, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Palm
First: Cause Fear, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal, Sleep
Second: Agony, Blast Shield, Death Armor, Evil Eye
Third: Feral Spirit, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Tongues
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Death Blade, Mass Agony
Seventh:  Wave of Mutilation

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)

So not exact conversions by any stretch, but certainly workable ones.
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