Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday Night Videos: BECMI Special, Chart Action 83!

So June is BECMI Month and I am going to be doing some BECMI-flavored versions of regular features.

Since the Basic Set of BECMI came out in 1983 I thought it might be fun to pull out a play-list from 83.

But not just any play-list.
No, this one follows the line up of a cassette tape I bought back in 83, likely at the K-Mart.  I remember getting it because it was the only tape I could find with my then favorite song "Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel.

Of course, I can only mean K-Tel's "Chart Action '83!"


Does it have anything at all to do with D&D or BECMI?
Not at all!  But it is what I was listening to then.

Here is the full cassette version playlist below.



What were you listening to in83?

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

BECMI: Other Versions and Homages

I don't think it is a stretch of the imagination to say that the BECMI Basic box is the Red Box that most people remember. Indeed, when you say "Red Box" this is the set that most people think of.

A large part of this is due to the number of units sold. It has been claimed that this was the best selling version of D&D at least up to the modern age of 5e.   It was certainly one of the most widely distributed versions of D&D up to that date.

International

While I have seen French, German, Japanese, and more versions of this set, it was the one printed in England I wanted the most.


Reading this one is a neat little exercise in "what if."

What would this set have been like if it was a single volume?

The Japanese versions also looked great.


The French version seems closest to the American one.


Norway had a single volume version too, but their's appears to have been a hardcover.


Although I must admit I have always wanted the German version.  If I had known it had existed back then I would have grabbed it.  Sadly my German is terrible these days. Don't use it you lose it.


And some great pictures of Javier Murillo's Spanish editions.




In fact, Javier Murillo appears to be the leading expert on these foreign language editions.





There is an entire listing of the printed foreign editions at the Acaeum.

That is quite a legacy of print.
It should be no surprise then that the cover was often imitated.

Inspiration

Maybe more so than the AD&D Player's Handbook (or very close) no other version of D&D has inspired the look of other sets.  In fact, it has become its own shorthand to nostalgia.  Want to tap into those nostalgia dollars?  Make your box red.



Of course, nothing irritates the old-school crowd more than when this is used for a game they don't like.



and of course the D&D Cartoon,


a puzzle, again from Javier Murillo,



and the early "skin" for DnDClassics.com, which now points to DMsGuild.com,



Not to mention a bunch of t-shirts.




That's an awful lot of red.

Now certainly someone in the old-school gaming community will say something stupid like "sacrilege!" or some other nonsense, allow me to remind you what TSR was doing themselves back in the day.






Monday, June 1, 2020

BECMI: Basic Set Review

How does one go about reviewing a game I know so well but in a book I know very little about?  More to the point how does one review a classic?

Well as my oldest son says, "with determination."

In this particular case, I am going to review the actual boxed set I was able to pick up a few years ago, the PDFs from DriveThruRPG and I will compare it to the version printed in the UK.



Basic Set (1983)
The third set of books to be released as the "Basic set" was the Mentzer "Red Box" Basic that would become the "B" of the BECMI line.  So many copies of this set have sold that it has become synonymous with "the Basic Set" and "the red Box" in D&D circles.  The set itself contained two books, a Player's Book (to be read first) and a Dungeon Master's Book (to be read by the DM).

Already we have a departure from the previous Holmes (1977) and Moldvay (1981) Basic sets.  While those older sets had one book for rules (48 and 64 pages respectively) and an included adventure (B1 and B2 respectively) this set only has the two books.  This is not the issue it might seem at first since this set features a rather infamous solo adventure and a programmed adventure that can be used with a DM.

The box set also came with dice, a crayon for coloring in the numbers, and some information about the RPGA.

It is helpful to look at the books independently.

The Player's Book
The Player's Book is 64 pages, color art cover, black & white interior art.

This is the familiar D&D game. The title page tells us that this is Dungeons & Dragons created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  The editor, though many will say the actual architect of the BECMI line, is Frank Mentzer.  He is so tied to this edition that it is also called the Mentzer Basic book.

While Holmes did a good job of organizing the Original D&D game into something that could be used as and introduction to the game (or too AD&D maybe), it was the Moldvay edition that really tried to make an introductory game to new players.  The Mentzer set takes this to the next level by giving us a true introduction to the game.

The target audience is 10-12-year-olds but it takes care not to talk down to the audience, there even seems to be a choice in language to try and educate as much as possible too.  TSR expected their target audience to be young, educated, and (for better or worse) male.  But I will touch on that later.

Up first you are taken on one of the most infamous solo adventures ever.  You are playing a fighter and you have to investigate a dungeon.  You meet a cleric named Aleena, and a goblin and an evil wizard named Bargel.  The rest is a tale told in many taverns across the known world. 
While I have a number of issues with the solo adventure, and I'll discuss those elsewhere, it is an effective tool for grabbing people and getting them into the game.  The adventure explains aspects of your character and makes them salient in the situation. In the education biz we call this "situational learning" and it is an effective tool.

After the adventure, we get to the part where your character is explained to you. What the ability scores mean, what the saving throws are for, how to hit with weapons.  It is the "what is Roleplaying" section of every other RPG book writ large.

There is another Solo adventure, with some nods to the two M series for solo dungeons.

So now that the player knows the basics of play the various character classes are introduced. Here we have the Cleric, Fighters, Magic-User, and Thieves for humans and Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. The text is very, very explanatory.  Great for a brand new player but feels wordy to me now.  Granted, these were not written for someone with 40 years of experience.  Heck, no one had even a quarter of that yet when this was written so my point of view is out of sync with the design goals of this game.

Looking over the classes I notice a few things.  The class descriptions are very self-contained.  Everything you need to know about playing a Cleric for example is right there. Including the Saving Throw tables WITH the class.  A vast improvement over the constant flipping through pages we had to do with AD&D at the same time.   Also, I noticed how weak the thief was then. No comparison to the Rogues of later editions.

The design elements of the self-contained class pages is something we will see again in D&D 4e and 5e.  It is very effective and if you are like me and like to print out your PDFs then it also gives you flexibility in organizing your version of Basic.



There is a solid emphasis throughout the book on how playing together, and working together, as a group is the best experience.  There also seems a little extra emphasis on how the Players are not the Characters.  It feels wonderfully 80s when the was the moral panic that kids would start to act out like their characters and meet the fate of poor Black Leaf and Marci.  Today people online refer to their characters in first person and laud their achievements as their very own.  What a difference some time makes.

We get to alignment with a strong prohibition against playing Chaotic or Evil characters. Retainers and other topics.  There is even a solid Glossary (I mean really who does this anymore? I miss them!) to help in supporting my point of view of D&D as a learning tool.   There is even a small section on using minis, character sheets, and other aids.  There is even a nod to AD&D to remind players that this game, D&D, is not AD&D.

All the basics are covered. No pun intended. Ok. Maybe a little one.
Everything the player needs to get started.  They now just need a DM.  Thankfully the next book covers all that.

The Dungeon Master's Book
The Dungeon Master's book is 48 pages, color art cover, black & white interior art.
This book follows the Player's book in terms of layout and scope.

The title page here is largely the same as the Player's Book, but it is a chance for us to reflect on how this game is really the direct descendent of the Original D&D game. Though there is a reminder that Players are not to read this book! Only DMs!

We get right into the roles of a DM here, after covering some brief introductory materials and some common terms and abbreviations.  Looking over these were are still in a time that Pre-Dates THAC0 as a term.

There are checklists of things to do pre-game and during the game and during combat.  It's a nice clear and spelled out version of the same material seen in the previous Moldvay Basic set.  In fact, there is a lot of material here that looks and reads the same.  This is natural since both sets are drawing from the same sources.  It is a bit like reading something you are already very familiar with, but it is still somewhat different and new.  Like trying to read Danish after learning German.  Or maybe more accurately, reading American Spanish after learning European Spanish.

There is a built-in adventure for new DMs that serves the same purpose as the Solo one in the player's book. It is fine, but I think back to my time in running the Keep on the Borderlands and hoe much I learned from that.

The procedures and rules section is all laid out alphabetically. So "Elves" come before "Mapping" and "Time".  Again, I am reminded of the layout seen in 4e and it is obvious that the designers of 4e were fans of this edition.

The next big section is on Monsters.  This section reads very much like the same section in Molvay Basic, some even down to the exact same words.  I don't find this a problem though.  Some people went from Holmes Basic (77) to Cook/Marsh Expert (81) and some people will come from those earlier Basics to this.  There needs to be a continuity of rules. Minus some organization and some clearer directions these are supposed to be the same games.  Yes there are some differences.  I find them to be minor at worst.

Back to Monsters, the section seems to have all the Usual Suspects, give or take a couple.  I did notice that there is much less art here.  I would have loved to have seen more versions of these classic monsters.  An Elmore drawn Thoul? Yeah, that would have been great! Also, this has the only piece of recycled art I have found.  The dragon breath diagram looks the same here as in Moldvay.  That's actually pretty cool.  All new art?  TSR was putting their best on this.  I'll talk more about the art in a bit.

Treasure follows and it is every 1st level character's dreams come true.  Swords to hit those pesky magic monsters! Gold! Platinum! Potions of Healing!! 2-7  hp was all you needed back then to get back into the game.

A nice bit about creating and stocking dungeons with monsters and treasures.  More direction than we got in Holmes or Moldvay to be sure.

We end with some tables for random monsters, saving throws, and a combined index!

Art
The art in both books is fantastic.  Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, and Jeff Easley at the very top of their game.  They defined how millions view Dungeons & Dragons.  Yes, yes I am a fan of the older stylings of Bill Willingham, Erol Otis, and Jeff Dee, but this was at a new level.  The art was consistent throughout and all of it wonderful.  Sadly it is also a little sparse compared to Moldvay, but I guess there are more pages to fill here.

The UK Edition
The UK edition is a single book about the size of a paperback.  It has the same color (or should I say "colour") cover.  The illustrations are sparse and in this case, all the interior art is by Helen Bedford.



The content is the same, just put into 272 smaller (4.75" x 7.5")  pages. There is even a tiny character sheet that taxes the ability of my glasses.
It sold for £4.95 back in 1986 when my copy was printed.




Legacy
I am going to spend a lot of time this month covering the legacy of the Basic Set and the BECMI series as a whole.  But this is the set. This is the one people think of when you say "Basic Set."
That's a pretty serious legacy.

Join me all month as I talk about all the BECMI books, boxed sets, and related topics.
This week is nothing but Basic.

Monstrous Monday: Grimlock (BECMI Special)

For all of June, I am going to be focusing on the BECMI rules, the only* D&D I never really played.
(*I played a lot of Holmes, Moldvay, Cook and Marsh Basic through Expert and used some BECMI books.)

For my June Monster Mondays (and there are 5 of them!) I am going to focus on a monster that would have been appropriate for the boxed set I am reviewing that week.  Also, I want to pick monsters I would have been likely to have used then OR ones I actually created back then.  Thankfully for this I have been "given" my youngest son's old game computer (wait...didn't I buy this??) and it has the only DVD-ROM drives in the house now.  I have been digging through some wonderful treasures I had semi-forgot I had.

So for this week, I want to do a creature that would have felt at home in the D&D Basic Set.  My general rule today is if I could have encountered them in the Caves of Chaos, then they are good.

I was talking to my oldest son about this and he suggested Grimlocks.  Honestly, it is perfect.

A lot of my own D&D world-building was built on the classics, and what is more classic than The Time Machine, both the book and the great 1960 George Pal directed film.   The Grimlocks of D&D have a spiritual ancestor in the Morlocks of the H.G. Welles classic.  Both creatures are essentially a human species that has "devolved" into a barbaric state.  They even share some literature (and not literal) DNA with similar creatures from H.P. Lovecraft or Richard Sharpe Shaver's "deros".  They would have been right at home in the Cave of Chaos.  Especially since they fill an "uncomfortable" niche of what happens to humans who dedicate themselves to darkness and chaos.  The Morlocks would have been still fresh in my mind in my early D&D days from the almost forgettable (expect by meI guess) 1978 Time Machine TV Movie.

I also like them for the witch connection.  Grimlocks were popular monsters on Charmed where they are essentially low-level demons.

In my games, Grimlocks are much the same as they are in all sorts of D&D games.  Save they are demon-worshipping cultists and their distrust of all other races (and their cannibalism) keep them from forming strong bonds to really rule the underworld.

Grimlock
Armor Class:  7
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-7 (1d6+1)
No. Appearing: 2-20 (0)
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaos
XP Value: 30

Grimlocks are a blind subterranean race that attacks anyone and anything they do not know.   They are descended from a group of human cultists that worshipped the foulest demons.  Whether they were driven underground or sought it out on their own they have since moved far away from their original humanity into something more akin to a monster.

Their skin coloration is a dull gray and their milky white eyes appear to dull and sightless. Indeed the Grimlock is blind, but their senses of smell and hearing are so acute that they can still "see" in the complete darkness.  They can sense vibrations so they are capable of spotting and attacking enemies, even invisible ones, up to 120' away.  They do not use missile attacks and prefer to fight with clubs or rocks.  Most are bald, but some have sparse dark hair on their heads, especially the females.
Grimlocks are stronger than average, 15 Strength, but they also have lower than average intelligence and wisdom (usually 9 or 8).

Grimlocks have lived in small isolated communities for centuries.  They will keep prisoners to replace fallen members, at least until such prisoners can produce new Grimlocks for them.  Prisoners, fallen Grimlocks, or any other enemy, once they are dead are eaten.  Grimlocks have no use for, or understanding of, treasure save for weapons.

Despite being blind and immune to any effect that requires sight (a medusa attack for example) they loathe the sun and will avoid going to the surface world save for nights of the new moon.

Special Grimlocks can advance as far as the 4th level as a Warlock to a demonic cult.

Grimlocks and Troglodytes hate each other and will attack the other to the exclusion of all other enemies.

Some scholars believe that the human cultists that spawned the grimlock race had intermingled with lower demons to produce the first grimlocks.  So far none of these scholars have ventured out of their lofty towers of learning, with plenty of sunlight, to put their theories to the test.

1960 Morlocks

1978 Morlock

Grimlocks from Charmed

Sunday, May 31, 2020

June is BECMI Month

Tomorrow is June 1st.  Crazy. Where did April and May go?

Well, I have been planning something like this for a bit now and I wanted to spend some time going over the D&D system I have the least familiarity with, at least in a proper sense.

The Basic, Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortal Sets edited and written by Frank Mentzer.


Each week I will cover a different set with reviews of the main boxed set, associated products, and topics.  In my case I am also going to compare these sets with versions I am much more familiar with such as the B/X sets from Moldvay, Cook and Marsh, Holmes Basic, and the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

Now I am not going into these reviews blind, I have had experiences with these books before, some experiences even going back to the time when they were published.

But I never played the game using these rules.

When the BECMI rules came out I was firmly in the camp of AD&D.  As the years went on I would adapt some BECMI products to my AD&D game and others I bought out of curiosity or interest.

So this will be a learning experience for me.  I am not expecting any great insights to the D&D game or any esoteric knowledge.  But who knows, maybe there is a tied bit here or there for me to learn.

Can't wait to find out.


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.
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