Showing posts with label celtic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label celtic. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Fionn, Defence of Ráth Bládhma

"'I am An Cailleach Dhubh,' Bodhmhall replied cynically 'No secret is unknown to me.'"
- Bodhmhall, Bandroai of Ráth Bládhma

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma: The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series: Book One by Brian O'Sullivan

In this Part 1 of the story of Fionn mac Cumhaill, also known as Finn MacCool, the titular character barely makes an appearance.  He is there, yes, and all the events of the story are centered around him and his mother, but he is not the hero of this tale.
The heroes are the Bandroai (or Ban Drui or Druid) Bodhmhall and her protector and lover Liath Luachra.  When pregnant Muirne Muncháem shows up at Ráth Bládhma, Bodhmhall is duty bound to give her shelter even though she knows that this woman is being pursued by an army who want her and her unborn son dead.  There is also something else in the wood, something darker and evil.
Soon the siege of Ráth Bládhma is on and others are seeking protection and it is all one outcast druid and her warrior woman anamchara can do to protect Muirne and her son.

Since this is a part one there are a lot of characters to get introduced and the whole issue of the oncoming siege and the dark power in the woods.

Ultimately this book is a tale of survival. I hesitate to call it a book about war, there is war yes, but it is more about the survival of the clan and what others will do to survive.

What attracted me to this story was course it was about Fionn mac Cumhaill as well as well as Liath and Bodhmal.  I have read many of the tales about Fionn and most of the modern novelizations.  Fionn was also a central character in my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer games.  So imagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered this tale was really more about Liath and Bodhmal!

Very little has been said about Fionn's fosterers in the tales and little more has been mentioned in the novels.   For this book to be all bout Liath and Bodhmal was more than I could have asked more.
While reading I found myself connecting to things O'Sulivan had written; we obviously have drawn from the same sources.  So I found his work to be familiar and yet completely new.  When I had read a quarter of the book I had to stop myself from saying "Liath wouldn't do that" or "That's not what Bodhmal would say." At about half way I was so completely enjoying the book that I forgot all that.  Before I finished I had already bought every book Brian O'Sullivan had written.  There are more parts to this story as well as one with Liath and her time with the warrior band Na Cineáltaí or "The Kindly Ones".

The book is largely self contained. That is you can read it and not be left on a cliff hanger if you know the tales of Fionn. I am planning to queue up the next books in the series right away to be honest.  The tale is timeless and one that can be retold many ways.

Liath & Bodhmal
I feel I should address this subject, especially if you have ever read my blog.  Many know my long time love affair with Liath and Bodhmal.  They have appeared in many of my games and have worked their way into the histories of not only the witches I write about, but my characters too.  I have spent a long time with these two. I have very definite opinions on who these characters are and what they should be doing in any given situation.  While my interpretations are different than O'Sullivan's we both agreed on some very important key points. Liath is a peerless warrior. Bodhmal was a druid with a past and not a great past at that. We also agreed on a very key point, that Liath and Bodhmal were lovers.  It's not something I had seen in other tales before. Morgan Llywelyn hinted at it, or maybe I read into it, but Brian O'Sullivan also saw that and his tale is worthy of these two.  Sure I have to get over the first meeting in my mind of Liath and Bodhmal (Liath sparing with her two brothers with a staff and keeping them both on the defense) but this is a really great book.
I can't wait to read more.


2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 9
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Bodhmhall is called a "Bandraoi" but she is a witch in my book.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Very good.
Best RPG to Emulate it: A better question is what RPG have I NOT used to emulate it!  Again, this Liath and Bodhmhall are not my Liath and Bodhmal exactly, but they are closer than any other set I have seen.  To date I have used Castles & CrusadesLabyrinth Lord, D&D 4th Edition,  and of course Unisystem.
Use in WotWQ: What do you think?  But seriously though, in the mythology of my games Bodhmal was not the first witch, but she was one of the first. The Daughters of the Flame coven come from here and in some ways so does the Aiséiligh Tradition.

You can find more of Brian O'Sullivan's books at http://irishimbasbooks.com/.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Leprechauns: The PWYW Experiment Continues

Something I put together for St. Pat's day, but didn't get through the approval process in time.
Two options for adding Leprechauns to your games.



First up is a race as a class option for "Basic Era" games.
Leprechauns for Basic Era Games

While I working on that one +James Spahn released his very fun Hero's Journey, so I felt a Leprechaun race option might be fun for that.
Leprechauns for Hero's Journey

The PDFs cover the same essential materials, so having one will give 80% of what the other has.
Both are Pay What You Want.

If you have some spare change and what to try a new class/race might I suggest this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dark Albion meets Mythic Éire

The talk around the ole' Other Side water cooler is still Dark Albion.  No surprises really.

I love the idea of playing in England/Albion. Especially with some dark magic thrown in for good measure.  If I can tie it in with my War of the Witch Queens idea so much the better.


So I was looking over all my Castles & Crusades stuff over the weekend.  Lamenting that I don't get to play it as often as I would like.  I dearly love Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, it has such a cool vibe to it. But I also enjoy Castles & Crusades.   Rumor has it that C&C began as a campaign on Earth. Aihrde is phonetically the same as Erde which is German for Earth.  That being said I also have a couple of adventures I consider to be "must haves" for my next games, Night of the Spirits and A Druid's Lament.
Another strong selling point for C&C is the Codex Celtarum.
I reviewed it a while back and it is still one of my favorite gaming books ever.  There is so much I could use here. Plus the ties with the Faerie world is a must-have in my mind.

Which brings me in a round about way to what are these Witch Queens warring about anyway?  At first I thought maybe it was for control.  But could it be more?  I am hesitant to detail it too much.  I still have a current D&D5 game I need to finish.  Plus I want to keep it a little loose for now. Maybe even a bit "story gamey".  Yes I am that much of jerk to take one of Pundits products and make it into a story game centerpiece.   Well...not really. It's still OSR.

Éire is a idea I have been playing around with since forever I feel. A mythic Ireland, a land of adventure.  The Celtic themed games I usually enjoy tend to skew a bit to the older and colder themes found in AS&SH.

Regardless of which way it goes I do know that there will be an Éire to go with Albion and I am going to have a great time doing it.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

A to Z of Vampires, Dearg-Due

For D let's travel to Ireland for the nasty Dearg-Due.  Also know as the Dearg-dul or "Red Blood Sucker" these are particularly nasty little beasts.

Presenting them here for use with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG or the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Dearg-Due

These ghoulish vampire sub-types were found in Ireland and parts of Great Britain before their Christian conversion. During that time, all Dearg-duls were wiped out. Some Church historians claims these are “snakes” that St. Patrick drove from Ireland’s shores. In any case, no one has seen one in nearly 1,000 years. Until today that is (aren’t you the luck one).
Dearg-dues are basically animalistic predators. They are not intelligent, but may be controlled to a slight degree by a sufficiently powerful sorcerer (Magic/Sorcery 4+). They hunt in packs of three or more. The creatures prefer the taste of fresh blood like all vampires, but they are not above raiding a tomb for food. Their eyes glow amber-red and they look like ragged, blue tinged corpses.
For the most part, Dearg-dues have the same powers and vulnerabilities as your garden variety vampires. What sets these little nasties off is that a stake to the heart (sufficient to drop them below zero Life Points) does not kill them. It stops them, but they don’t turn to dust. Their only goal at that point is to reach out feebly and remove the stake. Once that is done, they recover normally (normally for a vampires, that is) and come back for more. The only way to kill them permanently is by piling stones on top of them. Once every part of their body is covered, they are destroyed.
Dearg-dues can’t effectively make more of their own kind, but once in a while (1 on a d10) a victim drained by a Dearg-due will rise as one.

Name: Dearg-due
Motivation: Kill! Blood!
Creature Type: Vampire
Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 4, Constitution 4, Intelligence 1, Perception 3, Willpower 2
Ability Scores: Muscle 16, Combat 14, Brains 9
Life Points: 46
Drama Points: 1
Special Abilities: Destroyed only by stones, Vampire
Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Bite 14 18 Must Grapple first; no defense action
Dodge 14 — Defense action
Grapple 16 — Resisted by Dodge
Kick 13 15 Bash
Punch 14 13 Bash

Monday, March 30, 2015

Woodwose for Basic Era Games

The Woodwose is a creature from English mythology that is part wild man, part bigfoot, part fae and part demonic spirit...depending on who you ask.  But interestingly enough they never have really graced the pages of any official D&D product; though Brownies come close and there has been a Woodwose for Pathfinder.
This is not based on those, this a new take.

Woodwose
AC: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 2d8* (9 hp)
No. of Attacks: 1 club
Damage: 1d6
Special: Spell use*, takes 2x damage from cold iron
Movement: 45’
No. Appearing: 2-12 (2d6)
Saves As: Fighter 2
Morale: 8
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 55

The Woodwose, or "the Wild-Man of the Wood" is faerie creature related to the brownie and buckwan. These creatures typically look like small, old men completely covered in hair. Their hair can vary from brown, to light yellow to even green.  These creatures stand about 4' to 4 1/2' tall though some have been reported as small at 2' and others as tall 7' tall.   They have a language, a very early form of Sylvan, that they use among themselves but they can speak elven when talking to others.
As their name would suggest the woodwose are a wild, barely civilized race. Much of their time is spent in raiding the homes of other faerie creatures stealing food, treasures and their women.  Woodwose that live close to human settlements have also been known to attack an outlying farm or prey on a lone traveler.   They are only brave in packs and rarely venture out of their burrows alone.  Despite their size a woodwose will attack any creature up to and including ogre sized, if they have the numbers.  Woodwose fear and avoid elves.
For every 6 woodwose encountered 1 will be a shaman capable of casting spells as an 2nd level druid.  For every 12 one of those 2 shamans will be 3rd level.  At 24 woodwose, a small community, there will be a shaman with the powers and spells as a 4th level druid.
In any case all woodwose are capable of casting the druid spell Shillelagh on their club once per day.  They are also capable of casting Pass Without a Trace at will as many times as they need.
Woodwose will be wary of adventurers unless they can outnumber them 2-3 to 1.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leprechauns for Basic Era Games

Happy St. Patrick's day!

Here is something I have been working on for a little bit.  I think it would work well in the right game.

Leprechauns for Basic era FRPGs

Leprechaun adventurers in Neverwinter Nights
Leprechauns are small humanoids that live in the same general areas as do elves. While elves prefer the open spaces, Leprechauns live underground in elaborate burrows and low. They share many similarities with halflings and gnomes but are actually more closely related to pixies, faeries and distantly elves.

The typical Leprechaun stands 3' to 3½ ' tall, and weighs about 45-50 lbs; About the same size as a Halfling. Their skin color ranges from tan to a pale, if pinkish hue, their hair is typically any shade or red though some are darker, and their eyes can be any shade of green. Leprechaun males typically have longer beards the same color as their hair. Leprechauns generally wear natural fibers with quite a bit of green in them, though they decorate their clothes with intricate stitching or fine jewelry. Leprechauns reach adulthood at about age 40, and they live about 400 years, though some can live almost to 600 years.

A Leprechaun character must have a score of 9 or higher in both Charisma and Dexterity. Leprechauns are similar to Elves in terms of play, they can act as fighters (though not as good as true fighters or Dwarves) and can cast spells as do Magic-Users, though they are limited to the Enchantment school.

Leprechauns are inherently magical, many excel in areas of enchantment and other magic, and most all Leprechauns know at least a little magic. Adventuring Leprechauns can cast wizard spells as indicated below.

Leprechauns tend to be Neutral in alignment, but quite a few are Lawful.  Chaotic leprechauns are known as Fear Deargs.  These leprechauns are of sour temper and typically wear red.

Prime Requisite: A Leprechaun has two Prime Requisites: Wisdom and Dexterity. If either of these Ability scores is 13 or greater the character gains a 5% bonus to Experience Points earned every adventure. If both are 13 or greater, the XP bonus if 10%.

Weapons and Armor: Leprechauns may use any weapon, but it needs to "sized" to fit them. Typically any weapon sized for a Halfling character. Leprechauns may not use "two-handed" handed weapons such as two-handed swords, long bows, battle axes, and other larger weapons.

Leprechauns may wear any type of armor, but most prefer "natural" armor such as leather or hide.
Leprechauns may use any magic item that is useable by Magic-Users and any magic weapon.

Special Abilities

A Leprechaun has a number combat advantages, due to it's size and familiarity with various terrain.

Combat: Leprechauns use a combination of melee weapons and magic in combat situations. All Leprechauns gain the following bonuses when in combat.

-2 bonus to Armor Class when attacked by creatures larger than man-size.
+ 1 bonus to initiative rolls.

Luck: The greatest power of a Leprechaun is it's "Luck".  Once per day the Leprechaun can effect one die roll with luck.  Giving it an automatic +1.  This feature must be used before the roll is made, but it can be used on any sort of roll.  As a leprechaun increases in levels he may use a spell slot to convert spell levels to luck.  So a 4th level spell can be converted to +4 on a roll.  The points have to be used at one time, no splitting them up among different rolls.

Superstitions:  This is considered to be the other side of their luck ability. In order to have good luck the leprechaun has to observe a number of superstitions.  While they might seem to be harmless or even non-sense the leprechaun must follow them or take steps to avoid them.  For example a leprechaun will typically carry a lucky charm, such as a four leaf clover or rabbit's foot, for every level they have gained.  If they do something that would normally cause bad luck (lighting three on a single flame, walking under a ladder, letting a black cat cross their path) they must use their luck item or do a small ritual to "break the curse". This could include putting a lucky copper piece in their shoe, kissing a "blarney" rock, whistling a song backwards, or any number of other small rituals. Failing to perform this ritual right away will result in the loss of one point of good luck.

Hiding: Leprechauns are difficult to spot. In their natural habitat, dense wooded areas, low hill lands and natural (not man-made) underground formations a Leprechaun can only be detected 25% of the time (GM rolls). In man-made dungeons this increases to 35%. The Leprechaun must remain still and not be carrying any type of light.

Leprechaun's Gold: There is a legend that leprechaun's guard a pot of gold. There is some truth to this.  If someone were to beat a leprechaun in some form of personal challenge (cards, drinking, or being found when they would rather stay hidden) the leprechaun is obliged to grant the winner a gold coin.  This coin will grant the winner a single +1 to any roll.  This luck comes from the leprechaun's own pool of luck for the day.

Languages: In addition to the common and alignment languages Leprechauns may also speak Leprechaun, elf, gnome and goblin.

Vision: A Leprechaun can see twice as well as a human in low-light conditions (starlight, moonlight, torchlight and a "light" spell, but not "Continual Light").

Spells: As mentioned, Leprechauns can use Magic-User spells like an elf.  They favor Enchantment and Charm spells.  Leprechauns cannot use necromancy.

Advancement
Leprechauns may advance only to 9th level "Tighearnán" (male) or "Tuilelaith" (female). This is balanced by the Leprechaun's magical ability and their ability to also fight better than a same level magic-user. At 9th level a Leprechaun may settle in area and attract other Leprechauns to form a clan, or gather their family together for a clan as it's Chieftain. In any case there will only be a small gathering of immediate family and some close relations.  Leprechauns are so spread out though they immediately assume any other leprechaun they meet must be a related and refer to each other as "cousins".

Leprechauns are known as "solitary faeries". This makes them great candidates for an adventuring race.  They will settle down in a area but there must not be any other faerie species in the area, especially pixies and other "trooping faeries".  Leprechauns and Pixies have an uneasy truce.



Leprechaun EXPERIENCE TABLE
LevelTitle
XP
Hit Die
1
2
3
4
5
1Nuacht
0
1d6
1
2Laoch/Laochra
3,000
2d6
2
3Gaiscíoch
6,000
3d6
2
1
4Curadh
12,000
4d6
2
2
5Marcach
25,000
5d6
2
2
1
6Máistir
50,000
6d6
3
2
2
7Oifigeach
110,000
7d6
3
2
2
1
8Mórghléas
220,000
8d6
3
3
2
2
9Tighearnán/Tuilelaith
400,000
9d6
3
3
2
2
1


Leprechaun SAVING THROWS
Level
1-3
4-6
7-9
Death Ray or Poison
12
10
8
Magic Wands
13
11
9
Paralysis or Turn to Stone
13
11
9
Dragon Breath
15
12
9
Rods, Staffs and Spells
15
12
9

Leprechauns use the same attack to hit rolls as do fighters, dwarves, elves and Halflings.


CHARACTER HIT ROLLS (on 1d20)
Level
Target's Armor Class
Leprechauns9876543210-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9
1-310111213141516171819202020202021222324
4-6891011121314151617181920202020202122
7-96789101112131415161718192020202020


Section 15 Copyright Notice

Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

System Reference Document Copyright 2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Copyright © 2006-2008. Chris Gonnerman.

Labyrinth LordTM. Copyright © 2007, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Leprechauns for Basic era FRPGs" Copyright ©2015, Timothy S. Brannan

Monday, February 23, 2015

Castles & Crusades: Into the Woods...of sorts

So this past weekend I ran a quick version of Castles & Crusades using some ideas from the Codex Celtarum.  The idea was that the characters are on the edge of the Faerie lands/Fae/Feywilds.

It occurs to me that I have been building up to this game for years really.


Allies and Enemies
Races
Ans of course, Witches
I am sure there are some good adventures I could adapt and I have plenty of my own too.  It would be nice to run "All Souls Night" for a new group; heck I could even re-purpose The Dark Druid for this.

This could be a lot of fun.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Castles & Crusades weekend

Spent the weekend doing a lot of work around house so didn't get to a game till late.

We were going to try out our converted 3rd to 5th ed characters but for various reasons we could not get everyone at the table at the same time.  So we opted for something new.

We made characters for Castles & Crusades using the Codex Celtarum.  Everyone has some Fae based powers and going to be playing in the lands of faerie.

The first adventure was a nice short one; rescuing a girl kidnapped by some goblins.  Turned out the girl also had faerie powers.
I totally ripped of True Blood and gave the girl flashy light hands that caused damage.

It was a lot of fun.  Not sure what we are going to do with it from here on out but it sure was fun.

The great thing is there are a ton of cool adventures I can use with it too.

Friday, September 20, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 20: Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)

Day 20: Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)

Odd choices. I do like fey creatures. It is all the celtic myths and stories I have read over the years as well as A Midsummer's Night Dream.  If I had to pick one I would say Hags. For the obvious reasons to be sure, but also I reclassified Hags in my games to be more faerie like. Yes they are still ugly, mean old crones that will rip out your arms and love to eat children.

One of the hags I "created" for my witch book was the synthesis of these ideas.  The Wood Hag is a new hag type, but all the ideas came from fairy tales of hags, the Wicked Witch archetype and some things I read in "Man and His Symbols" by Carl Jung.

Wood Hag (Makava) Basic Era

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8** (45 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite
Damage: claw 3d6, bite 2d6
Special Attacks: Witch spells
Special Qualities: Dark vision 60’, Iron Vulnerability
Movement: 40’
No. Appearing:
1 (90%) Solitary or 3 (10%) Hag Covey
Saves As: Witch 10
Morale: 9
Treasure:
4d6 CP, 6d8 SP, 8d8 GP, Gems: 50% 1d8, Magic 50% any 1d6, +1 2 potions
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
XP: 1,700


Wood Hag (Makava) 3.x
Large Monstrous Humanoid/Fey (Hag)
Hit Dice 8d8+8 (45 hp)
Initiative +2 (Dex)
Speed 40ft.
AC 17 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +6 natural)
Attacks 2 claws +12, bite +12
Damage claw 3d6, bite 2d6
Face/Reach 5ft. by 5ft/10ft.
Special Attacks Blood drain, Spells
Special Qualities Dark Vision 120ft., Fast Healing 5, Iron Vulnerability
Saves Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +8
Abilities Str 20, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 9
Skills Concentration +12, Hide +10, Knowledge (Witchcraft) +9, Listen +8, Spot +8,
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fighting, Combat Casting, Fear Resistance
Climate/Terrain Any Forest
Organization Solitary or Covey (3 hags of any type plus 2-12 trolls)
Challenge Rating 6 or 13 (covey)
Treasure Standard
Alignment Always Chaotic Evil
Advancement As witch

The Makva, or the Wood Hag, is a relative of the other Hags and possibly the Night Hag. The Makva makes her home in the deepest forests where she feeds on unsuspecting travelers. She is particularly fond of children. Her normal appearance is very hag-like, tall (7’ tall), green skin with black hair, although some have been spotted with green or red hair. She also has long clawed hands with nails as hard as iron talons. Their mouths are filled with rotting black teeth and foul breath. The Wood Hag can appear as kindly grandmother, or a fetching young wood nymph as she chooses. The wood hag loves nothing more than to temp men of good character into a wanton embrace and then switch back to their normal form before killing them. She is also fond of attacking people as they sleep in the woods.
The wood hag is more solitary than the other Hags. More often than not a wood hag will be found alone. Wood hags often employ trolls to protect their homes and for mutual protection. At any given time there will be 2 to 12 trolls around the wood hag’s home. They will fight for the wood hag, but they are not commanded to do so. They will retreat or flee if the combat goes against them. The wood hag will also ally her self with evil witches and warlocks. They have also been known to consort with demons and vampires as well. Makva do not get along well with Night Hags. Some have theorized that Makva were once part of the Night Hag “society” but were removed for being too chaotic.
Wood Hags have often been confused with witches and many of the tales told to frighten children about witch have been about wood hags. It is almost certain that the tale of Hansel and Gretel could have been about a wood hag (or even the witch Baba Yaga). Makva are believed to live up to 800 years, but this has never been confirmed. They have been known to keep harpies as pets. Wood Hags usually have a grove of Elder trees growing nearby.

Combat
The wood hag is very strong (strength 20) and will attack with her claws and a bite. She is also a competent spellcaster and may use spells from the witch’s spell list.
Spell-Like Abilities: The Makva can also employ the following spell like powers three times per day at will: ray of enfeeblement and magic missile. They can cast an Advanced Illusion four times per day and can use the following powers at will, Know Alignment, Polymorph Self and Sleep. Wood hags are immune to Sleep, Charm, and Hold spells.
Blood drain (Su): The bite of a Wood Hag also drains blood. Any successful bite hit can permanently drain one point of Constitution unless the victim can make a Fortitude save (DC 13). Any character drained to zero will become a wraith haunting the woods around the wood hag. Constitution points can be healed normally.
Vulnerability (Ex):A Makva cannot touch iron and takes extra damage from weapons made of pure or cold forged iron. Weapons made from this material grant an additional +3 to hit and damage per hit.


Section 15: Wood Hag (Makava) Copyright 2013 Timothy S. Brannan


Friday, May 24, 2013

Castles and Crusades: Liath and Bodhmall

I want to wrap-up my week on Castles & Crusades with a post of two of my favorite characters of Irish Myth.  Liath Luachra & Bodhmall the Druidess.

One of my favorite stories is that of Fionn mac Cumhail.  I used him as character in the very first Buffy RPG adventure The Dark Druid. The back ground of the adventure had Fionn coming to the 21st century and that the characters in the game were the new incarnations of people from his past.  My conceit was that his foster mothers Bodhmall and Liath were Willow and Tara respectively.   I expanded on this in my Willow and Tara based Buffy/Ghosts of Albion games. Episode 5 of The Dragon and the Phoenix expands on this and makes the connection well known to the characters.  Episode 11 of Season of the Witch establishes that in the game world Liath and Bodhmall were also the founders of the Daughters of the Flame coven.   So these are some characters with game history for me.

And yes. They are also lovers.

Peter Bradley of Ravenchilde Illustrations.  A very C&C version of Bodhmall and Liath
So whenever I need a "D&D Version" of Willow and Tara I turn to Liath and Bodhmall.  This way I can direct their fates in new and different directions and not mess with my "modern age" versions.
I have stated them up for D&D4 here before. In fact I spent a lot of time on it since the D&D4 druid couldn't do what I wanted till Essentials.

Bodhmall as expected makes a better druid under the Castles & Crusades rules than she did under D&D4.
Liath though needs some tweaking. Ranger in C&C is a little different and not really what my mental image of what she is.  It is very, very close, but missing the key ingredient.  I have this mental image of the first time Bodhmall meets Liath.  Bodhmall needs a protector/body guard while she is taking a babe to be fostered to the north.  She sees Liath standing on a raised log. On either side of her on the log are her brothers. They are fighting with long staves and the men are trying to knock her off the log.  She is more than holding her own. Her hair is long and braided and despite her young age is already graying; thus her name "The Gray of Luachair".

Some might balk at me taking two established mythological figures (however obscure) and making them same-sex lovers.  In truth I wondered about this too.  But I was doing research and I picked up a copy of Morgan Llywelyn's  Finn MacCool and there was an interesting typo on the character pages.  It listed Liath as being Bodhmal's wife.  That clenched it for me.

Character Creation
If you ever made a character for 1st Ed AD&D then you can make for C&C in about the same time.  If you have familiarity with 3e, then it might go even faster.
(Honestly I am wondering at this point if C&C should just be the AD&D game I play.)

I like the way the powers for the classes work out for the characters.  I made the right choices.
Since I am using this with the Codex Celtarum, the characters both get a Fey power at 1st level, plus something special

Bodhmall
1st level Human Druid, Female, Neutral Good

STR: 10 (0)
DEX: 10 (0)
CON: 14 (+1)
INT: 14 (+1) P
WIS: 18 (+3) P
CHA: 11 (0) P

AC: 13, Leather Armor
HP: 7 (d8)

Staff +0, 1d6
Scimitar +0, 1d6

Nature Lore
Druid Spells
- First Aid, Light, Purify Food & Drink
- Entangle, Magic Stones
Second Sight (1), p. 93 CC
Anamchara*

Liath Luchara
1st level Human Barbarian, Female, Chaotic Good


STR: 13 (+1) P
DEX: 10 (0)
CON: 18 (+3) P
INT: 10 (0)
WIS: 16 (+2) P
CHA: 11 (0)

AC: 12, Leather Armor
HP: 13 (d12)

Spear +1, 1d6
Short Sword +1, 1d6

Combat Sense
Deerstalker
Intimidate
Primeval Instincts
Shapeshifting (Salmon), p. 94 CC (based on Morgan Llywelyn's work)
Anamchara*

All in all I am happy with those write-ups.

Liath and Bodhmall with Finn
Of course I can't introduce Liath and Bodhmal and not have their Anamchara quality.  It what helps define them.

So here it is for use with the Codex Celtarum.

Anamchara
Level 6 Druid, 6 Witch

CT na D 10 rounds R self + one other
SV none SR none Comp n/a


“The only thing more frightening than meeting a Celt in battle is meeting a Celt in battle with his wife at his side.” 
- Attributed to Pliny the Elder, 1st Century CE

Anamchara (“on-um-kor-ah”), or soul-mate, is the Gaelic term used to describe a deep and powerful bound shared between two people. This goes beyond mere companionship and even beyond love; the souls of the two people are connected at a deep and fundamental level. Some occult scholars even speculate anamchara share one soul between two physical people.

The anamchara (singular and plural) are often aware of each other on a preternatural level. While this not a full blown telepathy or even empathy it is beyond what the normal senses would allow. This manifests itself in mundane ways as two lovers humming the same song at the same time with no outside influence, husband and wife completing each others sentences, separated twins living parallel lives, or even one sibling knowing her other sibling is about to walk into a room before the event happens.

Anamchara can be, and often are, lovers, but they are not limited to that alone. Some anamchara can also be very close siblings or very deeply devoted friends. Sometimes the connection can be forged in battle, giving rise to a “brothers-in-arms” effect. The Anamchara can also have a deep connection resulting from life times of being together.


Extension of the senses (“I Will Always Find You”). This acts like a mild form of Empathy or a lesser Situational Awareness that extends only to their anamchara. This grants +2 to locate their anamchara via mundane, magic or psychic means. This also gives each anamchara a broad sense of the other’s health and well being.

Boost Morale (“I’ll Stand By You”). When anamchara are together even dire situations do not seem as grim. With a soothing word or even a knowing look a character can grant her anamchara +5 on any one test or roll. Best of all, she can do it after the player has already made this test. The granting character spends her round or turn explaining she is doing this to aid her beloved. This can only be done once per game session per character.

Combat Effects 
The benefits detailed above have some application in combat as well. The extension of the senses translate into making the anamchara a particularly effective fighting team. In order to gain this benefit the anamchara actually need to train together in a fighting style. Players should decide which style (martial arts, medieval weapons or even magic) they will train together in. This training offers a +2 bonus to all attacks of that type and damage for each. Both can also effectively fight against one opponent with out penalty due to room. Anamchara naturally avoid each others weapons. 



I am curious to see what the Castles & Crusades players think of this power.

I am also posting this as part of my giveaway for the Bloghop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Win a copy of the Witch and help me support the Trevor Project!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum

Oh I have have been looking forward to this book and doing this review for a while.
Regular readers here know that I LOVE Celtic myths.  I filled Ghosts of Albion with them, the Witch has them as well and there are plenty of posts here about them.  Though for me it isn't just Celtic myths, but Irish myth in particular.  That is a fine distinction to be sure, but one that is important on how I judge or rate materials for a Celtic game.

Long time readers also know that I have been working on a long delayed project, Éire.  This was going to be completely focused on Irish myths and legends with just enough real history to make it feel right.  Low magic, high adventure.  I wanted to emulate the tales of Fionn MacCumhail and Cú Chulainn.  When I first heard about this game I thought to myself: Well, that's it then. I don't need to do this.  Besides I can't compete with Troll Lords.  Not just in terms of production value or resources (Brian Young is getting a Ph.D. in this! I am at best an enthusiastic amateur) but I also don't want to outright compete with them.  I like their stuff and I like to see companies I like do well.  So Éire, for the moment is on hold.  Some of it has gone into Eldritch Witchery, where it is a good fit.  Other bits will show up here and there.  Maybe one day I will come back to it, but for now just expect to see the same material show up here.

But enough about never-were and might-of-beens.  Let's talk about the book I have and you can have actually in your hands.  I supported the Kickstarter for this so I got a PDF, Hardcover and some modules of my choice.  I will say this for Troll Lords. They are quite generous with their KickStarter incentives.

The Codex Celtarum is written by Brian Young.  He is a gamer and an academic in Celtic history and languages and all around nice guy.  Honestly he is the kind of guy I want writing this sort of thing.  You talk to him and get the feeling that he could immediately tell you a story from the Mabinogion and it would roll off his tongue like the bards of old.  This is the guy you want working on your Celtic game.

The first thing I noticed in his introduction was his acknowledgement of the differences in legend and in history and where he was putting his cards.  For me, as someone that has had to have the same tug of war, the value of this book went up several degrees.
Before moving on to the book itself I spent a lot of time with Castles & Crusades again, this time from the point of view of a Celtic-themed game.  Honestly I think it might be one of the better systems to do it with.

The book itself is divided into eight sections plus the forward.
Now at this point it should be noted that the design of this book is to play in a Faery realm, so it is something you can drop into any game world.  There are some game-based assumptions made, but nothing to keep you from making this your own.

Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time covers the creation of the Celtic universe including the various wars that happened at the dawn of time and various personalities.  We are introduced to various gods.  The Horned One and the Blue Hag take central stage.  At this point I want to say that reading this is like reading a story of old as an adult; familiar yet nuanced in ways I didn't know then.  For me the myths and tales this is based on are familiar, but this is new telling for a new world. We are treated to so many names that are familiar and new at the same time; The Tuatha Dé Dannan, Danu, Lir, Goíbhníu, it's like hearing the names of old friends. In a mere 6 pages we have the whole background of the world to the present day. Nothing extra, nothing left out.

Chapter 2: In Lands Far Away details the physical and metaphysical lands of Faery and mortal plane they touch. There are the Two Cauldrons,  Night & Day (which have affects on the faery) and the Twelve Houses   of the Gods (with a cool map). Given the subject the human lands are the British Ilses and Ireland and given the author we get a lot of Welsh names.  The faery lands don't have the same rules of nature as the mortal realms. So there are some tables about the odd passage of time or the nature of the land.  Normally I would balk at this sort of randomness, but here it not only works, it is part and parcel of the mythos. BTW if you don't quite recognize the map of the lands, hold it up to a mirror.

Chapter 3: There Lived a People has everything you want to know about the Faery races.  This includes the major sub-races (Light, Darkness and Twilight) and traits faeries can have.  Now the utility of this chapter should be obvious. I will also add that if you want to give your FRPG Elves a nice shot in the arm then adopt this part of book. We are given detail (in terms of monster stat blocks) of the Children of Light, Children of Twilight and Children of Darkness.  Nearly every Celtic-fae type is here in one form or another. There are lot of new creatures here (unless you are very familiar with Celtic myths) and some that I don't believe have ever been featured in a game book before.  There are also plenty of Faery beasts and supernatural animals.  We also get some giants, but no stats since they are legendary.

Chapter 4: Great of Magic and Power details, what else, magic.  If human wizards study magic and human priests pray for it then the Fae ARE magic. The distinction is not a subtle one.  The magical powers here are listed as spells. So they can be used by the fae as if they were spells, but that robs them of what makes them so interesting. Instead go with the suggestion in the book that each member of the fae get a number of special powers based on their intelligence.  And there are plenty of powers here!  If you are anything like me and love magic, spells or powers for characters then this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  I have to admit I am pleased to see similar powers here as to what I have in Ghosts of Albion under Faerie Powers.  It tells me that we were drawing from similar sources.  There are plenty of differences though allowing for personal preference, but it shows that Brian and I were thinking along similar lines.

Chapter 5: Strong of Feats and Deeds handles what the Celts did best. Fighting.  Well they did other things too, but this is what those stories were all about.  If your fighting-type characters felt left out in the last chapter, then this is one help you out.  Plenty of options. I particularly liked the Tattoo magic.  There are feats as well. Before you panic these are feats in the traditional sense of the word and there are only a score of them.  If you have read any of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, then these are the feats of Cú Chulainn.   There are also some fighting orders detailed such as The War Sisters, the Fian (Fianna) and the Dragons of Prydain (of which the most famous is Arthur).

Chapter 6: With Great Gods and Heroes covers the gods, demigods and heroes of the lands.  We have been introduced to a few already like The Horned One and his wild Hunt. Arthur is mentioned as well as my personal favorite Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool).  There are no stats for these gods or heroes.  Why? That is easy. They are not meant to be killed or even interacted with.  They are the legends of this land.

Chapter 7: Great of Name and Mighty of Deeds covers new rules.  First up are changes to the various character classes.  Not a lot needs to be altered here.  Again as I mentioned above, the classes in C&C are based around concepts and skills rather than powers, these can translate better.  There are some new classes too. The Woodwose is something like a wildman, a mix of barbarian and ranger.  These are humans that have lived in Faery a little too long.  The Wolf Charmer are something like a Beast Master.  They charm animals to follow them.   There are some adventure hooks from classical Celtic tales.  A list of names for characters from Brythonic and Gaelic roots.

The last part, Chapter 8: Items Enchanted and Divine, are all the pieces that didn't fit above. But it still has a lot of good material.  We get a nice discussion on Faery Metals and how they can be used.  There is a list of divine items (artifacts in other games) listed by owner; that's right the Gáe Bulga is not just lying around waiting for you to find it. No this +8 spear (!) is well in the hands of Cú Chulainn.
Ogham is discussed and the various societies and cultures of the heroic age; the Picts, the Britons, the Anglo-Saxons and the Gaels. Holidays around the isles are also detailed.
We end with a map.

Ok. So what can say here.
First the book is absolutely excellent. I am insane with jealousy on how good it is really.  At 176 pages it crams a lot into space.   I love the feel of this book. There is something about that just feels right to me and it makes C&C the perfect system to play a Celtic-based Faery game.  Now. Some points of clarification again.  This isn't a book about playing in a Celtic society per se.  There is no "day in the life of a Celtic warrior" bit.  Only lip service is given to Bronze Age tech or what the larger Gaelic society was like.  Also this book isn't about playing "weird elves".  There is nothing here for example from the Germanic tradition of Faerie stories. The aim of this book is very specific.  If you are looking for one of the above sorts of books then this might not fit your bill.
But if you are looking for a book to play in that intersection of Celtic myth and Faery lore, then this is the book you want.
As with all C&C books the layout is clean and easy to read. The art is fantastic.
If you are a fan of Celtic myth, Faery lore, or Castles & Crusades then I highly recommend this book.  Even if you don't play C&C, I would get this book.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Codex Celtarium / Troll Lord Swag

I got my box of Troll Lord goodness today including the Codex Celtarum.


The timing is perfect since I have a bunch of things I want to do with C&C.  So look forward to some reviews this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Campaigns I'd Like to Run: RPG Blog Carnival for May

I am participating in my very first RPG Blog Carnival.  The topic this month is Campaigns I'd Like to Run, and is being hosted by Lowell Francis over at Age of Ravens.

In truth there is a lot I'd love to run.  But there are some that stick out.

Black Rose
Black Rose is my Ravenloft/Blue Rose mash-up.  I detailed it in a series of posts back in the early days of this blog.  Black Rose takes place in the same world as Blue Rose, but only after it had been pulled into Ravenloft.  I am using more of the 2nd Ed and 3.x versions of Ravenloft, not the 4e revisions. I played the hell out of Ravenloft during the 2nd Ed era.  I loved it, but there were things about it that I wanted to do that didn't quite mesh with the "kill things and take their stuff" mentality of AD&D.  The True20 system, while it still has the same roots, can go a little bit beyond that.  True20 is also quite good for doing horror as I discovered.

Generation HEX/Ordinary World
Both of these campaigns would be in the same world and preferably use the same system(s).  Both come out of my enjoyment of modern supernatural books and TV shows.
GenerationHEX is a game focused on kids in a magical school.  Somewhat like Smallville meets Harry Potter.
Ordinary World is a game about supernatural types trying to live in a world full of humans.  sort like Being Human, but also a bit like Charmed.
Unisystem seems like the logical choice here, but I also considered using a different system each time to get a real feel for the characters.  This would be character focused, not plot focus.
Given the character focus of these games I also wanted to try something different.  I wanted to use a different system for the different eras in the character's life.  So Little Fears for when they are all children, Witch Girls Adventures or Monsterhearts for high school, and then Unisystem or World of Darkness for adulthood.  I would sprinkle in other systems for one shots as needed, like ChillCall of Cthulhu or Mutants and Masterminds.
This is something I tried with Season of the Witch and I liked it.

Greyhawk 3000
This one is D&D in SPAAAAAACE!  I'd mix up D&D 3.x and Star Wars with ideas from Gamma world, Star Frontiers, Planescape and Spelljamer.  Have all the D&D worlds as planets and the planes as something like solar systems.  I'd also use some ideas from Starships & Spacemen and some other games.  A bit of Traveler too cause I like that.
I do want to use the D&D mythology, just advance it to something like Star Trek Next Gen level tech.  I think it would be a blast to be honest.

Those are the ones I'd love to do that I don't see me doing anytime soon.  Have too many games going now.

One though I am very likely to run is my Celtic-theme Fantasy Game.

Éire
This game has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Unisystem, True20, Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I think with the release of the Codex Celtarum I might start adapting it to Castles & Crusades.  This is one I would really like to play and am working on getting it done sometime soon.  While I'd love to play this one with my kids, I would also enjoy a more mature approach.  Not "Adult" per se, but a group that appreciates Irish myth and willing to play in a world like that.

These are the campaigns I'd like to run.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Plays Well With Others: Amazing Adventures + Codex Celtarum

I am working on my review for the Castles & Crusades book Codex Celtarum (short version, I love it, I am so jealous I can't see straight, it is that brilliant!).  So I have been reading it and re-reading a bunch of my C&C books.  And it dawned on me.

Codex Celtarum is a "world book" so to speak for the C&C world.  It ads a Celt flavor to things, but most importantly it has rules for playing in a Fae inspired world.

Amazing Adventures is a Pulp Earth turned up to 11.

Since both are based on C&C they are 100% (or 95%) compatible with each other.  Here I thought I was going to gear up to play an awesome Celtic-infused game of Castles & Crusades, but I think now what would be 10x cooler is a Celtic/Fae soaked Amazing Adventures game!

Steal some ideas from Guardians of Order's Dreaming Cities and have a world where magic is real and everyone knows it and there are fae all over the place!

Yeah. This would be cool in the extreme.
Stay tuned for more on this.
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