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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Old School Essentials: New Witch Spells

The hottest new property in OSR gaming is Old-School Essentials.  Justifiably so too.   It is a great reinterpretation of the Basic/Expert rules and it is a lot of fun.  It is also on sale today as the DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day.

I am still a little bit away, further than I want to admit, from finishing up The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witchcraft Tradition.  But in celebration of OSE's sale here are some new witch spells.

First Level Witch Spells

Call Spirits of the Land
Duration: 1d4 hours
Range: The Caster
Call Spirits enables the witch to gather local spirits of the dead and elements, which appear to the caster as small ghostly disembodied heads, and listen to their tales about the surrounding
land and people.
▶ Characters listening can make an Intelligence Ability check to learn something about the local area.
▶ Characters who fail the check by five or less hear nothing but endless ramblings and chattering, possibly in an unknown or ancient language, that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
▶ Those who fail by more than five hear nothing.
▶ A roll of a natural 20 provides completely false and maliciously misleading information.

Material Components: The caster must pay for the information with offerings of food, alcoholic beverages, incense, song, and pleasant conversation. The offering should total at least 1 gp.

Salving Rest 
Duration: Special
Range: The caster or a creature touched
This spell allows its subject to enjoy soothing, peaceful sleep, free of pain and sorrow, whenever she slumbers. As a result of this salving rest,
▶ The subject of the spell will heal an extra 1d3 hit points during each day of complete rest.
▶ The spell ends when the subject stops completely resting or if she takes any damage.

Material Components: A tea made from valerian root and lavender.

Second Level Witch Spells

Chameleon
Duration: 1 turn per level
Range: Touch
This spell allows any character touched to blend into her surroundings to the point of becoming nearly invisible. The character gains a +4/+20% to hide in shadows. Characters affected by a chameleon spell can always hide in shadows with a skill of at least 25% chance. This spell is used to create elven cloaks.

Material Components: The scale of a chameleon or a bit of skin from a cuttlefish. Alternately a bit of multi-colored cloth will also work.

Inscribe Tattoo I
Duration: Permanent
Range: One willing target
With this spell the caster inscribes a tattoo onto a willing subject. Only three such tattoos can ever be placed on one subject.
Tattoos have different abilities
Become animal: Allows the subject to shift into a normal animal, chosen at the time of inscribing. The animal’s HD must be equal to or less than the subject’s level. The subject can only shapeshift once per month.
Strike true: The subject gains a +1 to hit/damage. Magical creatures can be hit with this magic.
Magical protection: +1 to saves vs. magic. This can be from spells, wands, rods or magic-like effects.
Battle protection: +1 bonus to AC. Tattoo must be visible to have effect.
Magical Affinity: Used by spell casters this gives as -1 penalty to target’s saves.

Similar tattoos do not add their effects. Two Magical Protection tattoos do not prove +2 protection.  Only higher-level tattoos can.
The caster cannot tattoo herself.

Material Components: Special tattoo pens, needles, and inks are required.

Third Level Witch Spells

Hopping Doom 
Duration: 1 turn/level 
Range: 60 feet
The witch can summon 1d10 x 1,000 slimy wet bullfrogs to a spot designated (crawling out from rocks, nooks and crannies, or otherwise dropping from the ceiling or sky). They jump madly about, getting underfoot, and croak at a deafening volume that prevents conversation within the area of effect. The distraction is such that spellcasters must save (spells) before they can cast, and missile users roll to hit at -2. Movement within the area is halved.
▶There is a base 10% chance (+5% per level) that 1d10 poisonous frogs will be in the group. ▶They will attack non-frog targets within the area of effect, forcing them to save (poison) at +2 or die. The poisonous frogs are colorful but otherwise identical to the rest.
▶The caster can move the mass of frogs by telepathic command, at a maximum speed of up to 60 ft per round.
▶The area of effect is determined by the number of frogs summoned (10 ft² per 1,000 frogs).

Material Components: A small fly.

Malice
Duration: 6 turns
Range: Touch 
Malice weakens the target creature's attacks: each time the target creature inflicts hit point damage on an enemy (by any means), damage dice must be rolled twice, and the lesser result used.

Material Components: The witch must be able to touch the target while giving a word of power.

Fourth Level Witch Spells

Venus Glass
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: One glass of water
The witch sends a prayer out to the spirits of her ancestors and to the spirits of those not yet reborn into her life for a vision. A question is asked to give her a vision of a face. Typically the witch casts a venus glass for a maiden hoping to see the face of her future husband.
She then cracks an egg and suspends the egg white in a glass of water
She can then see the future, usually, the face of someone important to the witch or whomever the witch is asking about.
▶ Face: the face of someone will appear. It may be indistinct or quite clear.
▶ Portents: If the egg has blood in it means that the person they seek with bring them death.
▶ Visage of Death: If the face switches from normal to a skull face then the person they seek will die.
▶ Unclear: No face is revealed. The witch may try again the next night.

Material Components: An egg from a hen taken at or just before the dawn and a clear glass of pure water.

Fifth Level Witch Spells

Flood of Tears
Duration: Instantaneous and one round per level
Range: Cone 60’ 
The witch begins to cry and creates a flood to wash away her foes. 
▶ In the first round, the tears flow creatures caught in the flood must make a save vs. paralysis or take 1d6 hp of damage for every two levels of the witch (max 7d6). Save for half. 
▶ For the rounds that follow the area remains inundated with water and the flotsam and jetsam of debris. Movement is reduced to half in this area. 

Material Components: The witch must cry.

Sixth Level Witch Spells

Eye Bite
Duration: 1 round per 3 levels
Range: 25’ + 5’ per 2 levels
The witch glares at a target. 
Each round, the witch may target a single living creature, striking it with waves of arcane power.  Depending on the target’s HD, this attack has as many as three effects.


HD
Effect
10 or more
Sickened
5-9
Panicked, sickened
4 or less
Comatose, panicked, sickened

▶ Sickened: Sudden pain and fever sweeps over the target’s body. A sickened creature takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws and ability checks.  A creature affected by this spell remains sickened for 10 minutes per caster level.  The effects cannot be negated by a remove disease or heal spell, but a remove curse is effective.
▶ Panicked: The target becomes panicked for 1d4 rounds as if under the influence of a fear spell.  After the initial effect is over, the target can become panicked again if he sees the witch and fails a saving throw.
▶ Comatose: The target falls into a catatonic coma for 10 minutes per caster level.  During this time, it cannot be awakened by any means short of dispelling the effect.  This is not a sleep effect, and thus elves are not immune to it.

The witch can affect victims for 1 round per three caster levels.  Spell effects can last longer than this depending on the effect. 

Material Components: The witch needs to be able to see the victim.  She needs to touch her eye and point to the victim.


The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Traditions


Monday, January 13, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Horned Women

The Horned Women of Celtic Myth

The horned women, or horned witches, are magical hags of Irish myth and legend.  They pester newly married young women or new mothers.  They are also known to plague any sort of homeowner.


Horned Women are a particularly nasty creature that is related to both faeries and hags.
They will appear as ugly old women with a horn protruding from their forehead. How many horns will tell you how powerful they are. A woman with one horn has 1 HD and so on.  It is unknown if this is related to age, all appear to ancient hags.

They will rush into a home, especially that of a new young mother or wife, and begin performing chores at a breakneck speed. While they perform the chores each one will demand a task of the overwhelmed bride. Saying that if she does not complete the tasks, they will fly off and eat her baby. The tasks are designed to be seemingly impossible; chop wood with an ax handle with no blade, or collect water in a bucket full of holes, or make a cake with no flour. The tasks can be completed by the bride, but she has to be clever about it.

Their voice is compelling, as per the suggestion spell, to get the wife to do these tasks.  A save vs spells will keep this from happening, but the threat of eating her baby is still real.

If she can do all the tasks the Horned Women want they will scream and fly away never to return. If she doesn’t they will take the baby.

Horned Women cast witch spells at the same level as their HD. They do not have access to ritual magic or occult powers.

Witches are often employed to fight these creatures.
Using a simple spell (typically dispel evil or remove curse) and adding "Witch! Witch! Fly away from here!"
The horned women will fly away and never return to that house.

Horned Women
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1-8 (1-12)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 80' (240')
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 1** (5 hp) to 8** (36 hp)
Attacks: 1 (claw)
Damage: 1d6
Special: Witch spells, compelling voice
Save: Witch 1 to Witch 8
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: HD 1: 13, HD 2: 29,  HD 3: 68, HD 4:  135, HD 5: 350, HD 6: 570,  HD 7: 790, HD 8: 1,060

Horned Women
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 3 [16]
HD: 1d8 to 8d8
Move: 80
Attacks: : 1 (claw, 1d6), Witch spells, compelling voice
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: HD 1: 45, HD 2: 70,  HD 3: 95, HD 4:  145, HD 5: 255, HD 6: 395,  HD 7: 650, HD 8: 950

Horned Women
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 3 [16], HD 1 (5 hp) 8 (36 hp), Att 1 claw (1d6), THAC0 19 [+1], MV 240’ (80’), SV as W 1-8, ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP HD 1: 45, HD 2: 70,  HD 3: 95, HD 4:  145, HD 5: 255, HD 6: 395,  HD 7: 650, HD 8: 950, NA 1-8 (1-12), TT None
 Witch spells: The horned woman can cast spells as a witch at the same level as her HD.
 Compelling Voice: The horned woman's voice acts as a suggestion spell.  She may use this once per day.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Star Jellies for OSR games

"Seek a fallen star," said the hermit, "and thou shalt only light on some foul jelly, which, in shooting through the horizon, has assumed for a moment an appearance of splendour."
- Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman (1825)

Star Jelly

Star Jellies, also known as astromyxin or astral jellies, are creatures known to fall to the earth from celestial bodies.  They are often found where a shooting star is thought to have struck the earth.
These are chaotic and evil creatures of alien will.   They will attempt to attach themselves to other life forms and feed on them.

Upon landing they will move, slowly to the nearest warm-blooded creature it can find.  It prefers humans and humanoids.  Once attached the star jelly will excrete a poison that both paralyzes their victim and causes them to have vivid hallucinations or horrible phantasmagorias.  The victim feels they are being attacked by creatures unknown and will attempt to lash out at them.  In truth, the victim is paralyzed and the jelly is attempting to digest the victim from within.

The jelly's only attack is an attempt to latch on to the flesh of a humanoid.  The victim gets a saving throw vs. Paralyzation (to keep from being paralyzed) and a save vs. Poison each round afterward to realize they are hallucinating.   Once attached the jelly will dissolve flesh, causing 2 points of Constitution damage per round.  The only way to remove a jelly is to burn it off or expose it to direct sunlight.  Something about the combination of sunlight and air damages them and they take fire damage per round in the sun.

Constitution loss is permanent unless healing magic is used.

Star Jellies have an intelligence, albeit an alien one.  They are immune to charm, hold, sleep, and other mind-affecting magics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_jelly

Star Jelly
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1 (1-2)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 10' (30')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2+2** (11 hp)
Attacks: 1 (special)
Damage: 2 points of Constitution damage
Special: Causes paralysis and hallucinations
Save: Monster 2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 50

Star Jelly
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 8
HD: 2d8+2
Move: 40
Attacks: : 1 (2 points of Constitution damage), causes paralysis and hallucinations
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: 50

Star Jelly
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 8 [11], HD 2+2 (11hp), Att 1 touch (2 pts Con damage), THAC0 19 [+1], MV 30’ (10’), SV D17 W18 P17 B18 S17 (2), ML 12, AL Chaotic, XP 55, NA 1 (1), TT None
 Poison skin: Causes paralysis and hallucinations.

Star Jelly 
(WhiteStar)
ARMOR CLASS: 8 [11]
HIT DICE: 2
HDE/XP: 2/50
SAVING THROW: 18
TOTAL HIT BONUS: +1
MOVEMENT: 3
SPECIAL:  Causes paralysis and hallucination
ATTACK: by touch, 2 points Constitution damage
In the depths of space, their natural environment, Star Jellies are immune to the effects of sunlight.  They can also grow to very large size (up to 10hd) if given enough living organic matter to eat.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year's Day! What's New for the Other Side in 2020?

Happy 2020 everyone!  I expected to have more cybernetic implants by now, but hey at least we are not living in a futuristic dystopian hellscape right? Right?
Anyway.

I am now at a point where I can say I have been playing D&D for 40 years. 

2019 was my celebration of 1979, the year I first learned about D&D and started to play.  I thought that might be the end of my "Back to Basic" but I was wrong, I find I still have more to do and say.
If 2019 was my focus on Holmes Basic and the AD&D Monster Manual (my gateway drugs) then 2020 will be my focus on the Moldvay Basic Set and the games I was playing with that.

So here are some things I am looking forward to doing here at The Other Side in 2020:

Sci-Fi
This was a science-fiction Christmas break for me.  We watched The Mandalorian, season 2 of Lost in Space, we started The Expanse on TV.  We binged watched all of Star Trek Discovery and LOVED it.  Saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the theatres (I loved it) and we will see Doctor Who later today and then again at the Fathom Events special in the theatres.  We really had a great sci-fi vacation.  It all has me pretty pumped for a good Sci-Fi game.

The Expanse and Lost in Space have a grit to it that I really like.  Both also have some elements of horror to them I also liked.  All the things I want to add to my BlackStar game*.
(*just a reminder, BlackStar is not a game I am looking to publish, just something to have some fun with.)

I already knew that I was going to add elements of ST:DISCO to my game too, I just didn't what yet.  With Picard coming up soon, season three of Disco after that AND the re-merger of Viacom and CBS it looks like a great time to be Star Trek fan.

Both Lost in Space and the Expanse (pre-warp Sci-fi) have also refueled my desire to finish "Space Truckers."  I'd love for it to capture that late 70s Trucker movies and early 80s campy sci-fi.

Back To Basics, Year 2
2019's Back to Basics was so much fun I want to keep going.  Last year was mostly dedicated to Holmes and my weird Holmes/AD&D hybrid.  In the OSR this was best represented by Blueholme and Labyrinth Lord.

This year is the 39th anniversary of the Moldvay Basic set.  Though the copyright date is 1980, it is good enough for me to call it 40.  My focus this year then will be Moldvay/Cook/Marsh B/X flavor basic.   This system is represented best by Old School Essentials (formerly B/X Essentials) and Pacesetter's BX RPG.


I do have at least four more witch books I want to get out.  The Pagan Witch and the Warlock for OSE.  For BX RPG I am wanting to do a Diabolic Witch book and one I am calling "The Secret Order, The High Witchcraft Tradition".

The nice thing about The High Witchcraft book is it will take me full circle back to my original notes and witch class.  After this, I want to focus on other things.  I love writing about witches but I have more I want to do as well.

 So here is to a new 2020!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Boxmas!

Nice mail call yesterday. I got my Basic and Expert RPG Sets Remastered set from Pacesetter Games.






I'll put together a full review later, but so far it looks like a lot of fun.




It even came with dice!


I'll compare it to the other B/X flavored boxed set in the future, but both can live on my self and table well.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Catgirls for Old-School Essentials

"Cats" is out. And it is really, really bad. How bad? So bad that I am DYING to see it.  In fact, we are going to tomorrow as a family. And we are dressing as cats.   We are going 100% Rocky Horror Picture Show on this.

I figure let's have some Catgirls for Old-School Essentials!

Nekojin (Catgirl)

Requirements: Minimum DEX 9
Prime requisites: DEX and CHA
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 9
Weapons: Any (must be modified)
Armor: none or leather only
Languages: Alignment, Common, Elf, Nekojin*  

Catgirls, also known as Nekojin, are a humanoid race that have prominent cat-like features.  These include furry cat ears on the top of their head, cat eyes, canine...er...feline teeth and whiskers. Their pupils are slits like that of a cat. They also have long cattails and their hands and feet resemble a cross between cat paws and humanoid hands and feet.  Their nails are in fact retractable claws.   They typically weigh about 110 pounds and are between 5 and 5½ feet tall. Their human-ish faces give them the look of kittens. This, in addition, their size, often leads non-Nekojin to treat them as if they were younger than they truly are.

The typical nekojin can live to about 50 years of age. They reach maturity by age 7 and will begin adventuring between ages 6 and 8. Nekojin have their own language, but they can also learn the language of humans (Common) and Elves (Sylvan).

Combat
Nekojin can use any weapon that has been modified for their hands (increased cost +25%), but they avoid armor except for leather.

Detect Invisible / Spirits
Nekojin have a supernatural heritage, so they can see invisible creatures or spirits in the spirit planes on a roll of 1 or 2 on a d6.

Infravision
Nekojin have infravision rp 90'.

After Reaching 9th Level
A nekojin that reaches 9th level may choose to retire and raise a brood of their own or be reborn into a new kitten (1st level) with no memories of their former life.  On their 9th life they will remember all past lives and skills.

Table 1: Nekojin Advancement and Saving Throws


Level
XP 
HD
D
W
P
B
S
1 0 1d6 12 14 12 16 15
2 2,000 2d6 12 14 12 16 15
3 4,000 3d6 12 14 12 16 15
4 8,000 4d6 10 12 11 14 13
5 16,000 5d6 10 12 11 14 13
6 32,000 6d6 10 12 11 14 13
7 64,000 7d6 8 10 9 12 11
8 128,000 8d6 8 10 9 12 11
9 256,000 9d6 8 10 9 12 11

Table 2: Nekojin to Hit vs. AC
To Hit
Level -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
2 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
3 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
4 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
5 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5
6 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5
7 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
8 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
9 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Next Projects, the OSE Witch & Warlock

Work has been busy as hell and I had a couple of other unexpected projects dropped on my lap.
What's that mean to you?  Well a long story short, that means my next scheduled release is going to be late.

Granted. These were all self-imposed deadlines.  So the only one here who is upset about this is me.

My next two books will both be for Gavin Norman's Old School Essentials.

I am extending my Back to Basic celebration a little into 2020 where I hoped to also publish a few books for D&D5.  Ah well.  This gives me time to give these two projects the more attention they deserve.



So what can I tell you now?

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Traditions


This book follows the same series as the Daughters of Darknessthe Cult of Diana, Children of the Gods, and the Pumpkin Spice Witch.


This book covers the Pagan Witch Tradition and it is really about 75% done.  It has a bunch of new spells, a lot of new rituals, some new monsters.  I also talk about spell creation, magic item creation and running a Pagan campaign.  I talk about how the witch is a better fit with druids, barbarians and bards than magic-users do.  I am also working on a few more covens.  If you have any of those books then you have an idea what this one will look like.

This book is overtly compatible with OSE but it also harkens back a little more to the B/X sources.  You can probably see where it is going based on my posts since Halloween.  This book will also have more of an "Advanced Genre Rules" feel to it.

I wanted to post this on the Winter Solistice (ten days from now) but I am not going to make that. So instead look for an Imbolc (February 2) release.  It will be a "Letter-sized" or 8.5" x 11".  Aiming for 64 pages.

The Warlock for Old School Essentials



This book will present a new Warlock class for Old-School Essentials.  This book will fit more with the "Core Fantasy Rules" of OSE and I'll present some options for "Advanced Fantasy".  It will be largely compatible with my other Warlocks and the spells can be used by witches or warlocks.

The idea here is that both books will be complete unto themselves but also can be used to complement each other.  This one is not as far along.  I was aiming for an Imbolc release and I think I will stick to that.

This book will be "Digest sized" or roughly 6"x9" or 5.5"x8.5".  I need to check what DriveThru supports.

There will be lots of new spells (at least 60) and new invocations.  Not sure if there will be any monsters or not.  Likely it will not have any demons since they really don't fit the feel of OSE or B/X.

Right now this book is only about 45% done.  Aiming for 32 or 48 pages.

I am disappointed I am not going to make my dates, but I think it makes for better books.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Grýla the Christmas Witch

Grýla, by Þrándur Þórarinsson
Baby, it's cold outside, so wear a coat over your armor and grab a sword since for the next few Monstrous Mondays I am going to deal with Christmas monsters.   Let's start with a classic, Grýla the Christmas Witch.

Grýla, The Christmas Witch

Grýla, and her husband Leppalúði, haunt the dark, frozen mountains far to the North.  Grýla is a foul hag that is rumored to be descended from the ancient Frost Giants.  Every year on the shortest day of the year Grýla comes down to find the naughtiest children in the lands. She captures them, stuffs them into a large magical sack (treat as a bag of holding). 
She takes these children to her 3rd husband (who is too lazy to leave their cave) where she puts these children into a large cauldron to make her favorite dish, a stew of naughty children.

Grýla can move across ice and snow with no difficulty.  Her nose is infallible, she can dependently detect alignments.  She will avoid Lawful (Good) and Neutral characters if possible.  She will approach any Chaotic (Evil) characters to see if they have any children. She will also abduct children from their homes.

Much like the Callieach, Grýla is inactive in the warm summer months.  Her husband never takes action; he is simply too lazy.

Grýla can cast spells as 4th level witch of the Pagan or Winter Witch traditions.


Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1 (1) Unique
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 30' (90')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8+8*** (44 hp)
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8
Special: Enhanced sense of smell, acts as "Detect Alignment", witch spells
Save: Witch 9
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,700

Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 2
HD: 8d8+8
Move: 30
Attacks: 2 claw (1d6 x2), 1 bite (1d6+2), witch spells
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: 1,700

Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 2 [17], HD 8+8 (44hp), Att 2 claw (1d6x2), 1 bite (1d6+2) + detect alignment and witch spells, THAC0 17 [+2], MV 90’ (30’), SV D13 W14 P13 B16 S14 (8), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 1,700, NA 1 (1) Unique, TT None
 Detect Alignment: Grýla can "smell" evil. This enhanced sense works as a Detect Alignment spell.
 Vulnerability: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items. 
 Witch spells: Grýla can cast spells as 4th level witch of the Pagan or Winter Witch traditions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Class Struggles: The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

I have not done one of these in a while, and this one seems like a no-brainer. 

The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

Maybe more so than AD&D, the witch, in one form or the other, has been a part of the Basic D&D game from the early days. 

Holmes Basic
The "Holmes Witch" has been talked about in old-school blogs for years, mine included.  The so-called Holmes witch never materialized, but it kept us waiting for years and kept bloggers entertained for even longer.

GAZ3: Principalities of Glantri
This is, without a doubt, my favorite of all the Gazetteers and one of my all-time favorite Basic-era books.  I reviewed this book in depth a while back and one of the most overt witches in my Basic book collection.
The Witches of Glantri are some of the most detailed of the Basic-era witches.  It's no lie, that red-head on the cover of the Glantri book was one of the inspirations for where I took my own witch character, even if the book came out a year after I rolled up the character (July 1986 for the character and June of 87 for the Glantri book if I remember right.  OR at least that was when I got it).

One thing I don't care for so much with this class is the charisma reduction, but it seems to come up a lot.

I detailed at least one witch, Skylla, using this witch class and it worked out well.  Also, years and years ago, I redid the Glantri witch to make it something closer to my Complete Netbook of Witches for AD&D 2nd ed.

In the AD&D 2nd Ed version of this book, Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, the witch is completely replaced by the Wokani.

GAZ7: Northern Reaches
This Gazetteer covers the lands Ostland, Vestland, and the Soderfjord Jarldoms.  I REALLY wanted to use this back in the 80s with the G-Series.
This book features the Wise Woman (Witches).  This class is considered an NPC Class, but we all know what that means right?  They get a nice balance of both Magic-user and Cleric spells (up to the 6th level), along with the ability to use magical runes.  I kinda wish I had done more with runes in my own Winter Witch book.
The treat I found here was Carrah the Witch Queen of Hel.   Given the focus on Basic/Expert rules, I would likely have made her 14th level.  Or more likely 13th. But there is some good backstory on her here. While the temptation would be to make her a Winter Witch, I think given her unliving status and her ties to Hel she might be more of a Mara Witch.  Maybe a Winter Witch who had been in a Mara coven.

D&D Master Rules Boxed Set
The D&D Master Rules, also the one I know the least about, has rules for non-human spell casters.  Shamans, who can use cleric and druid spells, and the Wicca who can use Magic-user spells.  The list of spells given to Wicca certainly has a witch feel to them. They are really only missing a cure spell or two.

Spells Usable by Wiccas
First Level Magic-User Spells
Detect Magic (B39)
Light (B40)
Protection from Evil (B40)
Read Languages (B40)
Read Magic (B40)
Sleep (B40)

Second Level Magic-User Spells
Continual Light* (B41, XI1)
Detect Evil (B41)
Detect Invisible (B41)
Invisibility (B41)
Levitate (B42)
Web (B42)

Third Level Magic-User Spells
Clairvoyance (XI1)
Dispel Magic (XI1)
Fire Ball (XI1)
Fly (XI2)
Lightning Bolt (Xl2)
Water Breathing (XI2)

Fourth Level Magic-User Spells
Charm Monster (X13)
Growth of Plants* (XI3)
Ice Storm/Wall (X13)
Massmorph(X13)
Remove Curse* (X14)
Wall of Fire (XI4)

Fifth Level Magic-User Spells
Animate Dead (XI4)
Cloudkill(X14)
Dissolve* (C20)
Hold Monster* (XI5)
Pass-Wall (XI5)
Wall of Stone (X15)

Sixth Level Magic-User Spells
Death Spell (XI6)
Move Earth (C21)
Projected Image (X16)
Reincarnation (C21)
Stone to Flesh* (XI6)
Wall of Iron (C21)
* reversible spell

The shaman and wicca are used throughout the Basic line in future books, though the name would later be changed to Wokan or Wokani.

GAZ10: Orcs of Thar
This Gazetteer covers playing orcs, goblinoids, gnolls and other humanoid creatures.  It also has a guide for using the book with AD&D. Goblinoid wicca are featured here but they use the rules already outlined in the Master's book.

PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk
Several non-human creatures are given options for Wicca levels. There are also plenty of new spells for Fairy spell-casters.  Many have since gone on in other products to have even stronger witch associations.  I reviewed this one in-depth yesterday.

PC2 Top Ballista
This also covers several spellcaster non-humans and new races.  In particular, we get gnomes and harpy wicca.  Gnomes advance to level 12 as wicca which is not too bad really.

PC3 The Sea People
Sea Wicca are also presented in this book but by this time we know what to expect.

D&D Rules Cyclopedia
By this point, the Wicca has been renamed to the Wokan, or the plural Wokani.  The spells usable are largely the same. That is to say, no obvious differences jumped out at me.  It also includes a fairly comprehensive list of monsters and what level they can advance to.  Interestingly enough Hags do not cast as Wokani, but rather they cast as clerics.

So. Wicca, Wise Women, and Wokani.  All three share a certain level of similarity and have, over the editions, been used in place of the other.  A good example takes all the way back to the dawn of D&D, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor.  Not the original Blackmoor, but the versions we got from 3rd and 4th edition.  For the 4th edition rules I talked a bit about the Wokani and their relationship to both witches and druids.  That version is no longer available, but the 3rd Edition version is.

Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Core Campaign Book
This is not a Basic-era book. This is a 3rd Edition book, or more to the point, a d20 book.  I bring it up only because we get the Wokani here again.  They read more like primitive arcane spellcasters with a closer tie to the natural world.  That would work fine with most of the products above, to be honest.  These casters use wisdom as their prime and spellcasting ability.  The Blackmoor connection intensifies with it sharing a few gods with the Basic Gazetteers. In particular Hel (Gaz7) and Hella (Blackmoor).  There are more, but that is the one that interests me the most.
The Wokani here seems to move further away from the Glantri Witch, but there are still plenty of commonalities.

Honorable Mentions
I could let things go without a mention of the witches Karelena, Solorena & Trilena from Rahasia. Though these seem to be more of the "witches as weird female magic-users" rather than as witches as I usually mean.

Also, the witch class from Dragon Magazine #20 should get a mention as well.

There is a lot of material here, but not say as much as you could find for the wizard or cleric.  The witch remains one of the great almost-classes of D&D.  Given the dates of all of these works including Dragon Magazine #114, it seems I was tapping into something needed back in 86.   Or, more to the point, we were all exposed to the same influences in culture and this is another fine example of parallel development.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Review: PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

This week I want to go back and revisit another favorite of mine from the Basic D&D line, but this isn't an oldie for me, but one I picked up just a few years ago.  I am reviewing the PDF and Print version.  There is no print on demand, so my copy was one I scored in a game auction a while back.

PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

The PC Creature Crucible series came at the end of the Gazeteer line for Basic D&D.  AD&D 2nd ed was my game of choice then, but reviewing this now I think I missed out on something fun.  The author of this book, John Nephew, who would later go on to found Atlas Games.  While reading this I was looking for any clues to what would be Ars Magica, but I think I was just projecting.

The book is 96 pages with color covers and black, white and green interior colors.  The PDF is 102 pages (for maps and covers).  It is divided into a 64-page DM's section and a 32-page Adventures section.  This book is something I would have loved back then, and really enjoy now.
The book covers playing several woodlands or faerie races.  The new race-classes you can play are Brownie, Centaur, Dryad, Faun, Hsiao, Leprechaun, Pixie, Pooka, Sidhe,  Sprite,  Treant, Wood Imp, and Woodrake.   One of the features of Basic-era D&D is Race-as-Class, so a Sprite and Halfling can feel like different things with similar levels of progression.

As per Basic D&D each creature gets it's own advancement table and ability minimums and maximums. All, save the Sidhe, have level limits. All of these creatures have a 0 level and in some cases, negative levels, they need to meet the XP requirements for. It all works rather well for Basic D&D really.  We know it can work since we used to do the same thing in Holmes D&D, only not with this much guidance.  It would not be difficult with these guidlines to adapt this to any other version of D&D in fact.   You can look to the 4th Edition Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild as an example.  Like PC1 Creature Crucible, you can play a dryad, satyr, or pixie.  They even have a similar spell-casting class (more on that later).

The book has a solid Lands of Faerie or even a Feywild feel to it.  A nice green character sheet (which is cool and all, but prints and copies poorly) only adds to that feeling.  The conceit of  the book is to present the information as if given to us from the mouths of four different woodland folk of renown; Olyrrhoe, a centaur prophetess (years before a centaur would teach divination at Hogwarts) tells us about centaurs, wood imps, ,  Lotis, the dryad, speaks for dryads and hamadryads as well as fauns, hsiao, and treants, Robin Goodfellow (yes, THAT Robin) for pixies, sprites and others, and finally Oberon (also THAT Oberon) for Pooka, Sidhe and wood drakes.



This book also deals with three different kinds of spell casters.  Shamans (like druids or clerics, but no turn undead ability), wicca (which you know has my attention! magic-users) and fairy spell casters.  There are some new spells here that very much feel like woodland/wicca/witchy/druid spells.

We get some new equipment, some woodland realms, some organizations and of course our NPCs and a few more besides. Though no Titania, which is odd given the obvious (and necessary) borrowing from Mid-Summer's Night Dream.

That gives us the first 64 pages.
The adventure book makes up the next 32 pages.  We also get an AD&D 2nd Edition conversion guide.  Using these guidelines would help in converting to other versions of D&D, in particular, 5e.

The adventures are short and all share a woodland theme.  They can all be run in a few sessions, usually one per session.

There is also a fun woodlands/faerie themed character sheet.


This is one of those products that I never gave enough attention too back when it came out, but I really wish I had.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Pyewacket for Basic era games

Working on some content for various projects.  One of which is the Craft of the Wise The Pagan Witch Tradition for Basic Era Games and designed for Old-School Essentials.

Pyewacket


Pyewacket is a familiar spirit, similar in many ways to the witch's normal familiar but more powerful.  They usually take the shape of a larger cat, often of some rare breed.  A couple of things set it apart from normal cat kind.  A pyewacket usually has some odd features about it.  Odd colored fur like green or purple, mismatched eyes,  or even small horns. Most often the observer can't tell you why the cat looks odd, just that it does. The paws of a pyewacket are particularly dexterous, allowing them to pick up small objects with ease.  Also, all pyewackets can speak.  They typically know 3-4 languages including the language of cats and that of woodland creatures (Sylvan).  Additionally, they are all arrogant and convinced of their own superiority over most creatures.
Some occult scholars claim they are fae in nature, others claim they are more akin to the nether planes of the hells.  Whatever the case the pyewackets will not say, claiming only they have been part of this world for thousands of years and remember a time when they were worshipped like gods.
A pyewacket can also cast spells as 2nd level witch.

Pyewacket
(Old-School Essentials)
A large strange cat with odd features. It speaks to you in an intelligent but bored, condescending voice.
AC 7 [12], HD 2* (6 hp), Att 2 × claw (1d4) + spells, THAC0 19 [0], MV 90’ (30’) , SV D12 W13 P13 B15 S15 (E1), ML 7, AL Neutral, XP 35, NA 1d2 (1d6), TT None
 Attacks with clawa
 Cast spells as a Witch 2nd level
 Serves as a familiar to special witches.



Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mail Call: Old School Essentials

It's a great Thanksgiving for a lot of reasons.  But today I am thankful for getting my copies of Old-School Essentials.



The box is sturdy a heck. Very surprised by that.



The new books compare favorably to the  B/X Essentials books.


The only things the boxed set is missing is dice.  Luckily I had some that look like they would work great.


Really looking forward to playing this one!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New in Print: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

It's a little later than I wanted, but just in time for Thanksgiving!

The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition is now available in print on demand.


And if you act right now you can grab it for just $9.00 with DriveThruRPG's Thanksgiving weekend sale.

The cover ended up printing a little lighter than I expected, but not enough to make me want to go back and redo it.



The book look great and makes a nice addition to my recent series of Basic-era Witch books.



It also works great with your "Pumpkin Spice Flavored" adventures.


I hope you enjoy it.

Up next...The Pagan Witch for this:


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Review: D&D Expert Set

December of 1979 was the time I was first introduced to Dungeon & Dragons via the Holmes Basic edition and the AD&D Monster Manual.  It was 1980 though that I got my hands on the Moldvay Basic Set and my love affair with B/X D&D.  But that is only the first half of the story.  The second half, the X of  B/X, was the Cook/Marsh Expert Set. 

D&D Expert Set
I am not exactly sure when I got the D&D Expert set.  I do know it was sometime after I had the Basic Set.  I know this because I have very distinct memories of going through the Expert book and just marveling at everything inside.  Just everything from the classes to all the new monsters.  The Moldvay Basic Set was the high mark for me at the time for what an RPG should be.  The Expert set lived up to that set and then blew me away.  That is getting ahead of my narrative.

For this review, I am going to look at the original boxed set, the mini boxed set from Twenty First Century Games S.r.i., and the newer PDF from DriveThruRPG.

On the heels of the Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay, we have the first Expert Set edited by David "Zeb" Cook with Steve Marsh.  So we often call this the Cook/Marsh Expert set to distinguish it from the Frank Mentzer Expert Set.   This Moldvay/Cook/Marsh set of rules is often called B/X to separate it from the Mentzer BECMI versions.

The Expert Set came in a boxed set featuring cover art by Erol Otus. The art includes the art from the Basic Set; a wizard scries the female wizard and male warrior fighting the dragon.   It remains one of my favorite pieces of gaming art ever.  In fact, it is the current background for my phone.   Included in the boxed set was one of the greatest sandbox adventures ever, X1 Ilse of Dread and a set of 6 polyhedral dice; d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and a crayon. Note the PDF does not include dice (obviously).

The Expert book features the same cover art on a predominantly blue cover. The book is 64 pages of black & white art.  The cover is full cover and the interior covers are blue ink and feature the table of contents (front) and index (back).  The art features some of the Big Names of 1980s D&D art. Jeff Dee,  Wade Hampton, David S. LaForce,  Erol Otus, James Roslof, and Bill Willingham.  Some so iconic that they STILL define certain elements of the game for me.  Jeff Dee's halflingsDavid LaForce's giants, and Bill Willingham's vampire are to this very day the first thing I think of when any of these creatures are mentioned.

While we were promised "new classes" both in the Holmes Basic book and later by Gygax himself in the pages of Dragon magazine, we stick with same seven classes; four human (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, Thief) and three demi-human (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling).  While I had not really thought about the new classes when I got my Expert set, I was a little disappointed that halflings and dwarves didn't get more than they did.  BUT if that was the case I soon got over it since there was SO much more for the Cleric and Magic-users.

Part 1: Introduction. This book begins with some tables from the Basic game. Also we get some guidelines on how this book should be used and what to do if you have an earlier (Holmes edition) of D&D Basic.  Here we also note that the page numbers are X# compared to the B# number.  The idea here was for you to be able to cut up your Basic and Expert books and put them together in a three-ring binder.  Eventually, I did do this, but not with my actual books, but rather with the printouts from the DriveThru PDFs.


Part 2: Player Character Information. This deals with all the classes.  I thought, at the time, that the organization of this section was a vast improvement over the same section in the Basic Book.  Where Basic D&D went from 1st to 3rd level, this book continues on to 14th level for human classes and various levels for the demi-human classes.   Additionally, thief abilities extend to 14th level as does Clerical turning Undead and new, more powerful spells; 5th level for clerics and 6th level for Magic-users.  That was unheard of levels of magic for me.

Part 3: Spells. This section got about 90% of my attention back then.  New detail is given on Reversed spells for both Clerical and Magic-user/Elf spells.  Eight pages of new spells including the amazing Disintegrate spell, which was one of the spells outlawed in many of my local game groups back then.

Part 4: The Adventure.  Not only does this section open up the world of adventuring to the entire wilderness and beyond the dungeon, it gives us some of my favorite Erol Otus art ever. The Alchemist on page X21 defined what an alchemist needed to look like for me.

Part 5: The Encounter covers combat and includes morale, saving throws, and variable weapon damage. This also has all the necessary combat tables.

Part 6: Monsters. Ah. Now here are the pages of my memories!  I have mentioned before how much I love the Monster Manual for AD&D and how it was my monster tome for my time playing Holmes Basic.  But this.  This one was part of my new favorite rules and that made all the difference to me. The mundane rubbed elbows (or knees, or whatever) with the magical and the malevolent.  To this day there are still monsters here that I have not seen the likes of elsewhere. Well yes, I have, but you have to dig for some of them.  But let's be honest, when was the last time you pulled a Devil Swine out on your players? Some versions of monsters here I still prefer over their AD&D Monster Manual counterparts. Giants and Vampires as I have mentioned.


Part 7: Treasure follows.  While D&D lacked the infamous vorpal sword (for now), it made up for it by having better rules in my mind for Intelligent swords.

Part 8: Dungeon Master Information, is what it says on the tin.  We get rules for making ability "saving throws" and spell magic item creation rules.   What I had the most fun with were the castle and stronghold cost rules.  This chapter is chock full of goodness.  Handling players, NPCs, even the first bit of what was known as the "Known World" which later became Mystara.  To this day seeing the "haunted keep" fills me with ideas.


Part 9: Special Adventures this section covers waterborne adventures. 

This book is so full of great stuff and even though we were promised a "Companion" edition that would go to 36th level (unheard of!) there were still plenty of adventures to be had.
Let's be honest, 14 levels is a lot of levels even by today's standards.



The PDF of the Expert book includes the Ilse of Dread AND the Gateway to Adventure catalog.   All that for $4.99? That is a steal really.

The Twenty First Century Games S.r.i., mini boxed set is about 1/8 the size of the normal boxed set.  It came complete with a box, an Expert rule-book and mini copy of Ilse of Dread.  Twenty years ago it looked great! Today the font must have shrunk some because I find it really hard to read!






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