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

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.

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.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Codex Celtarum

The Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum only has a little bit more to go.

It made it's funding now it is all about those stretch goals.

Again, I am sorta torn by this one.  First is looks awesome. I know Troll Lords will do a great job on this.
But it sorta kills my own Celtic book.   I am not sad, but I was looking forward to writing it and putting my own spin on it all.

Anyway. I am getting this one and I hope to run a Celtic based C&C game with it one day.

The cool thing is I have spent some time talking to the author, Brian Young and one of the artists, so I am actually very, very excited about it.
Plus all those new spells and Celtic magic?  Honestly, how can I say no?

I just upped my own pledge to take advantage of all the stretch goals.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Kickstarters. And I can't believe this first one

Couple more Kickstarters.  This first one has to be seen to be believed.

That's right! Synnibarr is BACK!  If you don't know what Synnibarr is then maybe you are not as Old School as you thought you were. ;)
In case you don't then here is the review that is almost as famous as the game itself.

But I have to hand it to Raven c.s. McCracken. He keeps right going and his love for his magnum opus is apparent. Enough that he is currently $3,000 over the goal.  
Read the Kickstarter page. Everything you need to know about how this game will turn out is there.

In other news.

There is also a new Castles & Crusades book coming out, Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum.

I have some mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand it looks fantastic. It reads like it will be a ton of fun and I know it will be a top notch book.  I also love Celtic myth and I have wanted to have an old schoolish style D&D Celtic game for years.

Which brings me to the other hand.  That was what I was going for in my game Éire.

Éire was going to be produced by Elf Lair Games, but Jason (rightfully so) does not want to make any product that might compete with Troll Lord.  I get that. I have things I could do myself that I don't because I don't want to step of the toes of other designers I am friends with or companies I have relationships with.

One of those companies is Cubicle 7.  While I have never worked for the company, I have worked with most of their employees on one game or another over the years.  They are also producing their own Celtic themed game.

I like both Troll Lords and C7 I know they will make great games and I look forward to them.  There is of course room for all these games in the market, including mine, but desire to get it out there is less.

My goal when putting out something isn't very market driven, it is "me" driven.  I put out the stuff I want to play. I think others will like it too, but that isn't what fuels my fires.  Codex Celtarum is very, very likely to scratch the D&D-as-a-Celt-Game itch I have.

I have known about this one for a while really.  Some of Éire made it into The Witch and Eldritch Witchery in fact.  So if I do choose to resurrect  Éire it might take a different form.  But who knows.

In any case I am looking forward to Codex Celtarum and plan on supporting Troll Lords in this.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celtic-themed Games

I have really been reading a lot of games based on real world myths, and mostly Celtic myths.  There are a lot of good ideas in these games, but none that felt perfect to me.  I am still looking though!

Slaine the RPG of Celtic Heroes
Mongoose has released their 2002 OGL game, Slaine to PDF for what I think is the first time ever.

To begin with this is NOT a game of generic Celtic myths and heroes, this is a game for the 2000AD comic Slaine which borrows a lot from Celtic myth, but takes a number of liberties as well.
It also diverges from it's SRD/d20 3.0 (NOT 3.5) roots.  So when reading, keep this in mind.

The book is very typical of a setting-type book.
We start with a number of classes. These have all be re-flavored to fit the mythos of the world better.  So Tribal Warriors and Witches join the ranks of Druids and Thieves. Also we only have 3 races, Human, Dwarf and Warped-Ones (humans changed permanently by their interactions with the Beast Folk).
Next we come to skills and there are some differences here than the d20 norm.
We also get a new honor system. Enech: Honour and Reputation is used to tell the value of a warrior (his Sarhaed or Honor Price). It is also used when someone it wronged or challenged in a battle. In a lot ways it should be more important than XP.  Tied to this are weirds (fate) and geas (taboos).
A strong collection of feats are presented. Including the fabled Warp Spasm and Salmon Leap.

Goods and Weapons is next and it deserves a careful read from the player.  Afterall you might know that 3 gold piece is worth 3 cows, but that won't help you when all you have to barter for your new sword are chickens and pigs.
Combat is given special attention. In particular we get one on one combat, chariot combat and larger army combat. Useful for any d20 game in truth.
Magic and Spells are handled in a very different way. With each spell costing EP. Details are given about how gain and get EP for magical use.

We get some information on Slaine's world including the mythic version of the British Ilses (Albion, Alba, Cambria and Eriu or England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland respectively).
There is a section on adventures which includes some very interesting Prestige Classes.
We also get a run down on the Goddesses and Gods of the Tir Nan Og, and the bestiary of normal animals and more fantastic monsters.
Campaign ideas and notes.

All in all a good book if you are a fan of the comic or in Celtic myths in general. My only disappointments in this is some of the art is a low res scan and it looks very pixelated, the other is that there is no character sheet included.  The character sheet for Slaine was one of the nicest ones from early in the d20 craze.

Bardic Lore: The Fachan
Celtic myth and lore is full of strange creatures. Some that don't quite have an analogue anywhere else.  The Fachan is one such creature.  Their might be similar creatures in other myths (I bet the Japanese or the myths of India have something like this) but none I can recall off the top of my head.  This book gives us the background on the Fachan, 3.x style monster stats and some ideas to use it in your games.  There is also a Fachan NPC and some notes on using the beastie as a character race.  All in all not bad, and then when you consider the price then it is great.

Bardic Lore: Ogham
This is a well researched guide on Ogham, the written language of stones often seen near ancient Celtic settlements.  This product blends historical findings with mythology to give us something very cool indeed.  New ideas for Druids and Bards using Ogham are included along with a new feats, skill uses and revised spell lists.  What is nice is the chart of the Ogham characters with sounds, English letter equivalents, and tree names.  A lot of research went into all of this and the quality shows. Don't take it as a historical treatise on Ogham, but it is a great tool for a game.  Nominally d20/3.5 but really the most of it can be used in any game.

Treasures of the Sidhe
Not a bad product. 45 new magic items of various degrees; most I thought were fine.  It lacks art a lot of art, but for under 3.00 you are getting a lot of magic items and 1 new monster.  Great if you are running a 3.x game bases around the Sidhe or the Seelie/Unseelie courts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Forget!

EN World Game Day Chicago is this weekend!

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by coming to the the aid of Ireland in her darkest hour.

Ghosts of Albion: Blight
Ireland is dying. 
Her Protector has been murdered and you are the primary suspects. Can you clear your name, regain your magic and stop whatever necromancies befoul the land? Time is short, yours and one million lives hang in the balance. Set in 1847 this is an adventure for the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Game System: Cinematic Unisystem
Rules Edition: Ghosts of Albion
Players: Minimum 5, Max 8.
Minimum Age: Teen (13+) (PG for some violence, and problem solving)
Experience Required: None (never played before), some knowledge of "Ghosts of Albion" is helpful.
Materials Provided:  Yes, materials are provided for this game. You do not need to bring your own.  One d10 is needed.

There is a sign-up thread over at EN World,

And because I can.
One of my favorite Irish "rebel" songs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Once upon there was Irish ways and Irish laws.

One of my WIPs that is very close to my heart is a game of playing mythic Ireland.

Éire (also sometimes called Ériu in my notes) has been in my notes for many, many years and the system has changed based on what I have felt best suited it.  Presently, and likely to be the final version, uses the ORCS system seen in Jason Vey's Spellcraft and Swordplay game.  I chose that over say straight OD&D or some other clone because I like the feel of the game and it has some DNA in it that I really like.

Well the game has languished in the hell of my hard drive since the dawn of the d20 system.  But last night I got inspiration from an unexpected source.

I was working with my son last night on his research paper on Ireland.  We talked about the the Blight, the Troubles and even went back a bit to talk about St. Patrick and my personal favorite Finn MacCool.  After telling him the story of the Salmon of Knowledge my son (whose name is Liam by the way) looked at me and said "this would make an awesome D&D game."

So I am rereading all my notes.  Marveling at some, and wondering what the hell I was thinking with others.
No idea when I'll have it done.  But I feel I should get it done soon.  If for nothing else for my boys Liam and Connor, so they can learn a bit of their own heritage too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Protectors of Éire for the Ghosts of Albion RPG

Tá an chumhacht agaibh. Cosnaímis mé, a Chosantóirí na hÉireann!

The Protectors of Éire
Like it's neighbor, Albion, Éire (the mystical name for Ireland) has also had her Protectors.

At the time of Swifts (1839 on) the Protector of Éire is Tadgh O’Braohain and he is detailed in the upcoming adventure "Ghosts of Albion: Blight", which can be played this 2010 Gen Con.

Though until then here are some of the more famous Protectors of Ireland's shores.

Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn Mac Cool)
Protector of Éire

Fionn Mac Cumhail was believed to have lived sometime around the Fifth to Second Century BCE. Fionn lost his father, Cumhail, when he was killed by a rival clan. Muirne, his mother, called her son Fionn which means fair-haired. Knowing that the Clan Morna would seek him out as well she took him to be raised by the wise Ban-drui Bodhmal and her anamchara the warrior woman Liath. They taught Finn to be both a warrior and a druid. He was taught magic, poetry, and the arts of survival.

Fionn learned also from druid Finegas. Finegas captured the Salmon of Knowledge and Fionn cooked it. He burned his thumb on the fish and sucked on it, giving him the gift of wisdom. When Fionn wanted to gain insight to a problem he would put his thumb into his mouth, behind his molars and contemplate.

Fionn later went on to become captain of the Finana, an army of men loyal to the High King Fiachadh (fee-a-kuh). Fionn implemented a code of honor among them, changing the Fianna from an unruly band to a group of champions of the people. The Fianna became models of chivalry and justice. Some claim that the tales of the Fianna formed the basis of the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.

Fionn is also the ancient Protector of Éire, the mystical name of Ireland. Fionn was the father of the Irish hero Oisín, by the goddess Sadb. Fionn battled many mundane and supernatural foes including a Scottish giant and his greatest enemy of all, the Dark Druid. Details of his death are sketchy and many contradict each other. Some say he is not dead at all but merely waits for Ireland to need him. When Éire is in its greatest need he will return.

Special Notes: Fionn generally avoids overt magical use. He knows some spells (as needed by the Director) and performs them when he must through the use of poem or song, though he is not as powerful in this respect as his son Oisín, considered to be one of Ireland’s greatest Occult Poets. Fionn prefers to use his magic in a more passive role, for healing or discovery. This however does not make him a pacifist, far from it, Fionn enjoys to defeat his enemies in combat either by weapon or hand to hand.

As a protector Fionn is allowed to use Magical Flourishes and may use any Magical Defence maneuver.

Name: Fionn Mac Cumhail
Protector of Éire
Character Type: Hero
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 4, Constitution 5, Intelligence 3, Perception 3, Willpower 4
Ability Scores: Muscle 14, Combat 17, Brains 12
Life Points: 64
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +1, Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 6, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Poet, Protector of Éire (Ireland)
Drawbacks: Adversary (Dark Druid and others) 5, Archaic (in 20th Century)
Skills: Use Brains Score for Occultism and Wild Card (Herbal Remedies)
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 17 Defense action
Grapple 19 Resisted by Dodge
Kick 16 14 Bash
Punch 17 13 Bash
Big Sword 17 29 Stab/slash; two-handed

Notes: Fionn appeared in the first published Buffy RPG Adventure, the Dark Druid. He has been updated to the Ghosts of Albion RPG here.


Cú Chulainn
Hero of the Ulster Cycle (The Red Branch, The Cattle Raid of Cooley), the Hound of Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba

Known as in his early childhood as Sétanta, the boy who would be Cú Chulainn was already the fairest and strongest in the land. Even at the age of seven Sétanta would enter into battle and invoke his ríastrad to defeat enemies three times his age and twice his size. Tutored by the bard and occult poet Amerigan as well as the druid Cathbad, it was predicted that he would be Ulsters greatest warrior. It was also foretold that his life would be a short one and that its beginning and ending would be marked by the death of a dog.
The first dog was one of the great hounds of the blacksmith Chulainn. Stanta was visiting the smith on the invite of his fosterer King Conchobar MacNessa. Conchobar though forgot to let Chulainn know and he released his guard hounds. Stanta was attacked, but he managed to kill it with a hurley ball. Devestated at the loss of his prized hounds, Chulainn demanded retribution. Sétanta, already honorable beyond his years offered to rear a new hound for him and until such time the hound was ready he himself would be his guard dog. From that point on he was known as Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Chulainn.

Worried that Cú Chulainn will steal their wives and daughters now that he is of marring age, the elders of Ulster decide that he should be sent to train with the fierce warrior woman of Alba, Scáthach, the Shadowy-one. In Alba Cú Chulainn learns not only the skills to become a master warrior, he also impregnates Scáthach, her daughter and Alfie, Scáthach’s mortal enemy and sister. Each bare him a son in due course.

Cú Chulainn returns to Ulster and has many more battles and adventures (and sons).
For more see

Cú Chulainn first was called by Éire at age seven to become her Protector. Though mostly associated with Ulster (Northern Ireland) his adventures took him all over. His training by, and his command over, Scáthach earned him the Protector of Alba (Scotland) as well. His defeat of Alfie gained him the Protectorship of Manx.
Like Fionn, Cú Chulainn learned his magic from bards, ovates and druids. He often sings his spells when going into battle. Again, like Fionn, Cú Chulainn prefers to be more physical.

His greatest weapon is the Gáe Bolg, or great spear. The skill to use this devastating weapon is only know to Scáthach. She at first refused to teach it, but was overcome with Cú Chulainns resolve to learn it. He had also by this time impregnated her daughter so she demanded he stay. The Gáe Bolg is a heavy spear that can be used as a melee weapon (min STR 4) or a throwing weapon (min STR 5). What makes this weapon so awful is the spear blade is formed with many barbs so that removing the spear causes even more damage, represented by the number of Success Levels from the attack.

Name: Cú Chulainn
Protector of Éire, Manx and Alba
Character Type: Master
Attributes: Strength 6/9*, Dexterity 4, Constitution 3/6*, Intelligence 4, Perception 3, Willpower 5
Life Points: 64/94
Drama Points: 5
Qualities: Attractiveness +4, Fast Reaction Time, Gáe Sidhe, Hard to Kill 6/8*, Honorable (Rigid), Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Protector of Éire (Ireland), Manx and Alba (Scotland), Ríastrad*
Drawbacks: Adversary 5, Geas (the death of a dog will end his life, 5), Geas (must accept any dinner invitation offered to him, 5)
Skills: Armed Mayhem 9
Name Score Damage Notes
Gáe Bolg 13 28/40* Removing spear causes an extra 12+SL points
(thrown) 12 21/30
Dodge 13 - Defense action
Grapple 15 - Resisted by Dodge

New Quality

5 Point Quality
Ríastrad, or Warp Spasm, is a type of supernatural attack in which the attack can go into a berserk sort of rage. During a ríastrad the attackers Strength and Constitution are increased by 3 each, with an additional 2 levels of Hard to Kill (with corresponding increase in Life Points). Attractiveness though drops to -3 regardless of what the previous level was. In addition the ríastrad will cause the attacker to attack everyone, friend and foe alike.
To enter ríastrad the attacker must be excited, that is to see blood or an army massing. A failed fear check might be enough to push someone into a ríastrad against their will.
Once in the throws of the ríastrad the attacker’s body twists and bloats. Arms and legs become huge with tendons and veins visible under the skin. Their hair sticks out in chaotic directions, eyes bulge an pop out while their tongues look engorged with blood. The scene is frightful enough that friends and foes alike must make a fear check.
The attacker then my attack, usually running into the direction they were facing and randomly attacking all. Only a difficult Will test can calm the attacker down.

Gáe Sidhe is detailed in the Ghosts of Albion corebook.

New Drawback

1-5 point Drawback
A Geas (Gesa) is a magical taboo that has it roots in the Celtic tradition. A cast member must always follow his Geas or a calamity will occur. The nature of this calamity should be up to the Director, but it should never personally be life threatening. Unlike a curse the Geased person can violate the taboo by force of will, but must pay the price.
A Geas of 1 point is something the character is never likely to break or has minor consequences, such as never owning a black cat or violate it to be overcome with a fit of coughing. A 5 point should be something that the cast member cannot avoid, such as always accepting any invitation to dinner offered, or something life threatening.
The player and the director can work out the details of the Geas. How did the cast member become Geased? Is it magical taint? Karmic debt? They must also figure out how the Geas needs to be paid off. The director should not allow the player to buy off the Geas with points, they must actually do something; like lay the bones of a long dead relative to rest, or travel to some distant land and bring back some water from a sacred stream. Or maybe there is a time limit, such as when they reach their 30th birthday.
In the case of C Chulainn he could not avoid his Geas and it did end up killing him in the end. He is offered dinner by his enemy Lugaid who feeds him dog meat. This breaking of his Gesa manifests by removing the power of the Protector from him. He is then defeated in battle by Lugaid.

Brigit of Kildare
Protector of Éire

"A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn, do bhrat fionn dom anacal."
- Traditional prayer to Brighid

The Goddess Brighid is one of the most beloved by the Celtic people. Every year they celebrated her feast day, Imbolc, to celebrate the return of spring.

Brighid, also known as Brigit, Brigantia, Bridget, or Bride, is the Celtic Goddess of the rivers and rural life. She is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery and Wisdom. She was the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the wife of Bres of the Fomorians, with whom she had a son, Ruadn (the Red).

Brighid is one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people, with some saying that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts.

Once the Christians came to Ireland the Goddess Brighid was not forgotten, but her worshippers favored the new Christian God.

Later in the very center of Brighid's worship center, Cill Dara ("Kildare"), a woman of God was born. Her name became Brigid.

Here, as a nun Brigid of Kildare performed miracles, healed and taught. All the things that pagan Brighid had done. When she had done enough in this world she left and was made one of the Patron Saints of Ireland.

Brighid as a Protector
Not all Patron Saint were Protectors and visa versa, but in Ireland there was a great sense of pride and of belonging with the land. This was land of the Goddess and she choose her own Protectors. Like Patrick, Brigid was very much a part of Ireland. It is natural then that Ireland Protector, a land that never fought against the Christian conversion, would choose to exemplars of it's faith to lead it into the next age.

Brighid as the Protector embraces both halves of the heart of Ireland, the Christian and the Pagan.

Name: Brighid of Kildare
Motivation: Protect her worshippers, Christian and Pagan
Creature Type: Protector, Goddess or an Irish Saint, hard to say really
Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 9, Constitution 9, Intelligence 6, Perception 8, Willpower 9
Ability Scores: Muscle 18, Combat 18, Brains 22
Life Points: 88
Drama Points: 5
Special Abilities: Aspects (Fire, Healing, Water, Wisdom), Age (Ancient), Immortal(?), Iron Mind, Hard to Kill 6, Magic 9, Regeneration (2 Lifepoints per turn), Supernatural Senses (Empathy, Insight, the Sight)
Dodge;18;;Defense Action
Grapple;21;;Resisted by Dodge
Spell;22;by spell type

New Quality
Blessed of Brighid
1 Point Quality
Prerequisites: Must have red hair; taken only during character creation (or by special Director permission).
In Ireland is said that those marked by Brighid lead charmed lives.  They can usually be spotted by their firey red hair.
The Blessed of Brighid can do one of the following once per day.
1. Aspect of Three.  The player may roll three (3) dice (d10) for any one roll made and choose the more favorable of the outcomes.
2. Add 3 to any one roll. The player may add 3 points to any one roll made in a day.  The choice can be made after the roll is done.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ghosts of Albion: The Cailleach Bheur

The Cailleach Bheur

It was her eyes that still haunt me.

She was abnormally tall, at least 8 ft., though that is normal if you consider her species. She was ghastly thin, weighing maybe 12 or 13 stone at the most. Her skin was a dark blue, like that of a bruise. It left the impression of having been dyed in woad for countless nights. She appeared as many of her kind; hideous countenance, with her face and body a little too sharp and too many angles. Her hair was a chaotic nest of wiry and frozen strands. Her clothing, what little remained, was a tattered rag reminiscent of a peasant’s garb of a bygone age. She stood her ground holding her staff. If she were affected by the cold then we could certainly not see it. She spoke with a voice of ice cracking tree limbs.

“Begone Protectors. These are my lands to vanguard.”
She glared at us with those bright blue, all too human, eyes.
- From the Journal of Tamara Swift

Known as the Crow of Winter, The Cailleach Bheur is deadly hag. She appears only after Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve and stays till Beltane eve. While as evil as other hags, Cailleach Bheur is more interested in eating sheep and deer than children. In Ireland and Scotland she is the personification of Winter. During the summer months Cailleach Bheur turns to stone and is indistinguishable from the other standing stones of the area.

The Cailleach Bheur was cursed into her existence back in a time before writing came to Scotland. One tale, disturbing as it sounds, describes the Cailleach as the ancient Protector of Alba, maybe even a faerie queen or goddess.

The Cailleach Bheur as a human witch
In her previous life Cailleach Bheur was a lone protector of animals and a follower of the Great Goddess. One night he fell asleep by a well. The well overflowed with the thaw and she nearly drown. She invoked powerful magics to move the water away, but in the process created Loch Awe (in Scotland) and drowning several villagers and cattle. As repentance she is to walk the snowy earth till she can feel the mid-summer sun on her face, something that can’t ever happen since she is cursed to be stone from Beltane to Samhain.

The Cailleach Bheur still protects her lands as she did before, ignoring humans unless they tread on her domain, then she kills them with glee by freezing them solid. She blames humans for her current state.

The Cailleach Bheur is believed to be at least 4000 years old.

Staff of Winter: Possibly a remnant of her former life the Cailleach Bheur carries a magical staff. The Staff of Winter is made up of holly and gorse branches intertwined to form a 7’ long staff of solid wood. It acts as a magical focus tool providing the Cailleach Bheur +2 magic to all magic related rolls and checks.

Anyone in possession of this staff can command Cailleach Bheur to leave the area by holding the staff and saying “Bì falbh buitseach!” (begone (get out) witch!). Both Cailleach Bheur and her staff will disappear after the command is uttered. This would require research into Cailleach Bheur specifically (occultism with 5 SLs) or local lore (occultism with 7 SLs).

Unisystem / Ghosts of Albion
Name: The Cailleach Bheur
Motivation: To keep winter alive, protect the local animals
Creature Type: Faerie
Attributes: Str 6, Dex 6, Con 5, Int 4, Per 3, Will 6
Ability Scores: Muscle 18, Combat 19, Brains 14
Life Points: 75
Drama Points: 2-4
Special Abilities: Attractiveness –4, Increased Life Points, Faerie, Magic 5 (+2 from staff)

Name Score Damage Notes
Bite 21 27 Must grapple first; no defence action
Claw 19 19 Two attacks per Turn
Grapple 21 — Resisted by dodge

Spellcasting 19 Varies By spell
Deflect 19 — Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º
Hold 18 — Magic defence action; delays spell
Lesser Sensing18 — Notice magical effects, nature, or possession
Volley 13 — Magic defence action; returns spell to caster
Dispel 16 — Magic defence action; dispels spell

The Cailleach Bheur as a human witch

The Cailleach Bheur by Andrew Paciorek

The Cailleach Bheur
Rank: 14 (Focused)
Physical Competence: +10
Mental Competence: +4
Health: 10 dice (20 pips)
Signature Skills: Fisticuffs +6; Survival +20; Thaumaturgy +5 (+2 from staff)
Talents: Ageless; Fear; Huge; Immunity (Cold); Incapacitating Attack (Freeze victims)
Combat: Claws and bite (16 dice)
Damage: Claw (5 dice) Bite (3 dice)

Savage Worlds / Rippers / Gaslight
The Cailleach Bheur
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d10, Spirit d10 Strength d12 Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Nature) d10, Notice d6, Persuasion d12, Taunt d8
Charisma: –4; Pace: 5; Parry: 5; Toughness: 6
Special Abilities:
* Arcane Background (Magic): barrier (wall of ice), blast (cold wind), deflection (winds), fly (ride the winds), obscure (create snow storm) (50 Power Points)
* Claws: Str+2
* Curse: Like a hag, the Cilleach can curse one enemy within sight each round. The target must make a Spirit roll or be Shaken.
* Fear: Anyone seeing the Cailleach must make a Guts roll at -1.

In honor of post #114 of my blog I put up the cover from Dragon Magazine #114 by David Martin, called "Spirit of the Night".  This issue featured the witch NPC class and the first time I ever saw the class.  From October 1986. Caused quite a stir back then I recall.

The other picture is the Cailleach Bheur by Andrew Paciorek at