Showing posts with label character. Show all posts
Showing posts with label character. Show all posts

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Kersy, The Witch Queen of Alphatia, Mystara (BECMI)

I knew my month of BECMI reviews and deep dives was going to be educational, but while I had hoped, I did not expect to find a new Witch Queen.  But there she was, in Module M1 Into the Maelstrom

In the module, we are introduced to a nascent Immortal, Kersy.  She is using her human guise as a 30th level Magic-user and she is the ruler of the Island of Turkeys.  If you are thinking she sounds a lot like Circe and her Island of Pigs then you are correct.  But.  Doing some deeper research into Kersy gives me a stanger tale.   Over at the Vaults of Pandius, they have expanded on her background a bit more. 

She is described as the distillation of Koryis' own unwanted thoughts, urges, and feelings.  
Koryis is the Immortal Patron of Peace.  While he was on his epic quest he sought to purge himself of evil in impure thoughts. He was successful and that "impurity" manifested itself as Kersy.

At least that is what his mythology says. 

We learn from M1 that she is a "beautiful maiden" and a "30th level magic-user." But other details are scant. From the Vaults of Pandius we learn that she is beautiful with long raven black hair and amber-colored eyes.  She is the Patroness of Witchcraft and Charms.  Certainly, she is more than just some cast of skin of evil.

She is also described as having "milky-white skin" (boring!) but I have been looking for an excuse to use Vanessa Williams as a witch since 1997.  Today is that day.

Kersy and Koryis

We first meet both of these immortals in M1 Into the Maelstrom.  It is obvious they have a connection from the start.  

Kersy (Vanessa Williams) and her "brother" Koryis (Armand Assante)

Back when I was an undergrad in psychology I read a lot of Freud and Jung. It wasn't required, I was (still am) a Cognitive Psychologist. But I felt it was important to my overall education to know my subject's history.    While I like Freud, I find his theories to be outdated and outmoded.  Jung on the other hand felt more like philosophy than psychology at times.  I have credited his "Man and His Symbols" as one of my most important "Appendix N" books.  

What is the importance of that here?  Kersy is Koryis' "dark anima" in Jungian psychology.  The description of Koryis' quest to rid himself of these dark, impure impulses sounds exactly like a quest to confront his Anima; who is Kersy.

Now if this is what happened then according to Jung Koyris is now forever incomplete.  Reading over the history on VoP it would seem that Kersy knows this. If we extend this to other Jungian archetypes then Kersy fits one perfectly. The Witch.  She is powerful, connected to the Earth, and a source of wisdom.  Koyris in his quest to rid himself of Kersy only weakened himself and gave his power away.

Kersy as a Witch

You knew I was going to come to this.  Kersy is not just described as a witch, she is listed on VoP as having the portfolio of Witchcraft and Charm. she is also described as being unique among immortals. She prefers to use her own magic for example.  She also seems to have become an immortal at the same time Koryis did due to their link.  So she hides from other Immortals, not having a Patron of her own, and lives in a cave on an Island filled with turkeys.
That's all rather disappointing.
Even a 30th level magic-user can do better than living in a cave somewhere.  So taking a page from my own games I say Kersy went on her own quest of Immortality and she got it, as a Witch Queen.

In this version soon after her "birth" Kersy, granted great power, but no learning on how such power should be wielded and let's just say poor impulse control, soon overpowers her jailers and sets her sights on the known world.  She travels much as her history suggests and in particular in Old Alphatia.  She studies magic everywhere and learns her magic does not come from the study of dusty tomes, she gets her magic from somewhere else. 
In the intervening centuries she learns much about who and what she is.  The divide between her and Koryis grew.  She still desires him and wants to make him hers. Maybe this is some desire to reunite their torn assunder soul or a darker desire to possess him in a way that was his desire but now forsaken and left with her desires.

Kersy, Witch Queen of Alphatia
31st level Witch, Eclectic Tradition
Female, Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral)

Strength 12
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Charisma 25

Saving Throws (Base)
Death Ray/Poison 2
Magic Wands 2
Paralysis, Polymorph 2 
Dragon Breath 4
Rods, Staffs, Spells 3

+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+3 for Wisdom

Hit Points: 87
AC: -8
(leather armor +5, Bracers of Protection +3, Cord of Protection +2, Ring of Protection +3, Dex 17 -2)

Base THAC0: 8
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers
Lesser: Familiar (Familiar Spirit)
Minor: Speak to Animals
Medial: Drawing Down the Moon
Greater: Witch's Blessing
Major: Polymorph Other
Superior: Longevity

Spells
Cantrips (8): Arcane Mark, Clean, Daze, Guiding Star, Mote of Light, Object Reading, Open, Summon Vermin
1st (9+3): Allure, Analgesia, Bar the Way, Bewitch I, Burning Hands, Call Spirits of the Land, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Eldritch Fire, Glamour, Mend Minor Wounds, Pace Without Trace
2nd (8+3): Alter Self, Beckon, Bewitch II, Blight of Loneliness, Burning Gaze, Continual Flame, Detect Charm, ESP, Evil Eye, Haunting Mists, Mind Obscure
3rd (8+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Bewitch III, Calm Animals, Clairsentience, Control Winds, Danger Sense, Expand Senses, Lethe's Curse, Toad Mind, Twisting the Heartstrings III
4th (8+4): Analyze Magic, Ball Lightning, Bewitch IV, Cauldron of Rage, Confusion, Divination, Forest of Deception, Instant Karma, Masque, Polymorph Others, Remove Curse, Threshold 
5th (7+4): Adoration, Bewitch V, Break Enchantment, Commune with Nature, Decimate, Enslave, Maelstrom, Nightmare, Sending, Song of Night, Ward of Magic
6th (7+3): Analyze Dweomer, Animate Shadows, Bewitch VI, Bones of Earth, Cackle of the Winter Crone, Cloak of Dreams, Greater Scry, Heroes' Feast, Mislead, Smitten
7th (6+1): Adoring Crowd, Astral Spell, Bewitch VII, Breath of the Goddess, Irresistible Dance, Mass Polymorph, Veneration
8th (6): Adoration (Overwhelming), Bewitch VIII, Demand, Eye of the Storm, Mists of Ecstasy, Storm of Vengeance

Magic Items
Alrune Statues, Bracers of Protection, Brooch of Shielding, Calming Tea, Cauldron of Plenty, Cloak of Night, Cord of Protection, Earings of Timeless Beauty,  Friendship Tea, Ring of Protection, Wand of Spell Storing

Kersy is something of a unique witch, so I made her an Eclectic Tradition Witch.  She is also a solitary witch so you will notice and no "ritual" spells.   
I also opted to raise her to 31st level from 30th to give her a bump in her power.
As an Eclectic, I was able to grab spells and occult powers from a variety of sources.  While a case could be made that she is a Classical witch or even with bits of the Mara thrown in, I felt Eclectic was the best choice. 



Books and Resources Used

Friday, June 19, 2020

Character: Magnus Ulslime, the Chaotic. Death Pact Warlock (BECMI Special)

Last week I talked about the adventure Quagmire for the Expert set.  Earlier I talked about the adventure Death's Ride for the Companion set.  What do these both have in common?  They were the genesis points of a reoccurring bad guy in my games, Magnus Ulslime, the Chaotic.


Magnus, as he was most often known in my games, is not just an awesome reoccurring bad guy, he was my testbed for all sorts of evil, death-priest, warlock style characters.

Anytime a new version of D&D would come around I would roll up a new Johan Werper as the son of the previous one, either as a LG Cleric or Paladin.  I'd attempt to make a version of Larina.  And I would make a version of Magnus.  But unlike Johan, who is a different character each time but always a LG holy warrior, or Larina who was a reincarnation of her previous version and always a witch, Magnus was always something different.  I would always go with the class that would give me the best evil traits.  In Basic he was a evil Cleric. In AD&D1 a Death Master, in 2nd Ed he started out as a Druid and then became a Necromancer.  When I switch over to 100% Ravenloft in my college years the cover of Ship of Horror and the evil necromancer Meredoth also had a huge influence on me.  As it turns out Meredoth would be revealed as an expatriate of the Mystaran country of Alphatia.
In 3rd Ed...well there were some many choices that I eventually made 6 different versions.  You can see some of that in my Buffy adventures The Dark Druid and The Dead of Night.  In 4e I used him as a test of the Death Pact Warlock that never saw the light of day under 4e.  It did, however, affect the writing I did for my warlock books.

Magnus Ulslime became my poster boy for warlocks soon after I got a copy of 4e.
I tried him out in several different ways mixing in bits of cleric, wizard, and especially necromancer.
In my Strange Brew: Warlock book for Pathfinder I introduce both Cthonic and Death Pact warlocks.  I expand on those ideas from a different point of view in my more recent book, The Warlock for Old-School Essentials.  In both cases, I made Magnus a Death Pact warlock.  It was a much better representation of how I saw the character.  He made a trade to Death for more power in the mortal world.

Magnus for BECMI
If I rerun Death's Ride again for any version of the game I'd like to replace Ulslime the Cleric with Magnus Ulslime the Warlock.  For 3rd to 5th Edition of D&D this is not a big deal.  But BECMI does not have a warlock.

No. But Old-School Essentials and Swords & Wizardry do.

My warlock for Old-School Essentials is a B/X style warlock with Death Pacts.  But it only goes to 14th level.  My warlock for Swords & Wizardry goes to 20th level (the level I want Magnus at) but it doesn't have Death pacts.  No problem. I designed the books to work together like this.  By combining them I can get the exact warlock I want.  If I need more death or necromancy themed spells



Magnus Ulslime, the Chaotic
20th level Death Pact Warlock
Lodge: Sixth Circle, Masters of the Undying

Str: 10
Int: 18
Wis: 16
Dex: 10
Con: 15
Cha: 18

HP: 66
AC: 2 (mage armor, phantom shield, ring +2)

Invocations (10)
Arcane Blast, Agonizing Blast, Armor of Shadows, Aura of Fear, Claws of the Ghoul, Eldritch Sight, Form of the Undead Horror, Mask of Many Faces, The Wasting, Whispers of the Grave

Spells
Cantrips (6): Aura Reading, Daze, Detect Curse, Mend, Message, Object Reading
1st level (7): Arcane Dart, Corpse Servent, Häxen Talons, Feel My Pain, Mage Armor, Phantom Shield, Taint
2nd level (7): Augury, Aura of Chaos, Corpse Walking, Death Knell, Grasp of the Endless War, Speak with the Dead, Ward of Harm
3rd level (6): Bestow Curse, Black Lightning, Cackling Skull, Corpse Candle, Lifesteal, Rage
4th level (6): Animate Dead, Crystal Visions, Extend Spell (Lesser), Fear, Spell Storing, Undead Compulsion
5th level (6): Bad Luck (Run of Bad Luck), Death CandleDeath Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Song of the Night, Winds of Limbo

Magic items: Amulet of Chaos, Pentacle Rod, Ring of Protection +2, Staff of the Warlock,

Not too bad really.  I might have to go more "BECMI" and raise him to 25th or 36th level!

While I am playing around, here is a 5th Edition version to use in my 5e Converted Death's Ride.

Monday, June 15, 2020

BECMI Special, Warduke for 5e

We are going into Companion Week so let's get a character above 15th level.  Who better than the poster boy for Chaotic Avengers, Warduke.

But since I am playing 5e this weekend, here are his stats for 5e.



H/T to Jason Vey for providing these stats.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Motherland: Fort Salem for Dungeons & Dragons (all editions)

Last week was the Season Finale of Motherland: Fort Salem on the FreeForm channel.   The season was great, start to finish. It had great characters that showed a lot of growth and at least three different "What the Hell!" moments in the last few minutes of the last episode.

If you have not been watching then you are missing out.  Motherland gives us an alternate history where witches rose up during Salem and forged a pact with the then Colonies to protect the new country from their enemies.  There are fewer states in the US and a large portion, The Cession, was given back to the Native Americans in return for their help and magic.  The series follows three new witch recruits, Abby, Tally, and Raelle, as they go through Basic Training and survive as a unit.
There is a terrorist organization of rogue witches known as the Spree who resent the servitude that sends all witches to the Army.

    Honor me, make a place for me and my kind and we will win your wars.
- General Sarah Alder to Massachusetts Bay Militia, Say the Words    

The show features a full cast of strong, interesting women characters.  The leader of the Army is General Alder, a 300+-year-old witch, their drill sergeant is a woman. Even the President is an African-American woman.  Men are either tertiary characters at best (the Witch-Father) or eye-candy (Abby's two boy toys).  Tally doesn't even see a man until one gives up his seat for her so she can fly from California to Massachusetts.  Not that men are put into a bad light.  The Witch Father is respected and well-liked. Raelle's dad is proud of his daughter and worries about her.  It's just their stories are not as important here.  That's a nice change of pace really.

The witches are also not a Ms. Pac-Man trope. They are warriors, witches but also women and they are allowed to be all three. It really is quite enjoyable and very different from what I have seen in the past.  It has been a fantastic first season.

I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to catch up on the Bellweather Unit and their battle against the Spree and "The Camarilla", the "Ancient Enemy" of all witches.   This certainly sounds like a lot of fun.   But can I wait that long?


So what am I going to do?  Easy.  Convert them to D&D characters!

The witches of Motherland are perfect as adventurers really.  They are great as a group with Abigail as their leader, Raelle as the healer and Tally as the seer.   I don't know much about who or what the Camarilla is, but given what we saw in the last episode I am looking forward to it.

Witches vs. the Camarilla?  Yeah. Sign me up!

Basic D&D and D&D 5

D&D 5 is the latest and greatest version of the game but the Basic version from the early 80s is my game of choice these days.  So I figure I can do both.

Basic D&D (1981)
In this version I would use one of my own Witch classes.  But instead of Traditions, I would opt for family lines.
I am putting them all at 3rd Level since they "Finished Basic." I know. Dumb D&D joke. 

D&D 5th Edition
In this version, there is no proper witch class.  There is a warlock of course, but that doesn't feel like the right call here.  With their focus on combat, voice-based magic, leadership, and some healing the obvious choice is the Bard class.  There is even a perfect sounding group for them, The College of War.

Abigail Bellweather

Abigail "Abby" Bellweather, of the East Coast Bellweathers, is the leader of the Bellweather Unit.  She starts out in the show as an arrogant, if even spoiled, girl of privilege. By the end of the series she is the leader she was born to be.  Even her rivalries with Raelle and fellow East Coast witch Libba Swythe become something different as she accepts the responsibility of what being a soldier-witch means.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 11
Constitution:  13
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 17

Hair: Drk. Brown
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 10  AC: 7
Tradition: Bellweather family (Leaders) (For this I will use my Amazon Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Fighting Prowess
Spells: Fury of the Ancestors, Windshear* (Ritual), Suggestion

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Lawful Good
HP:  21   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Eldritch Blast, Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Featherfall, Heroism, Thunderwave, Phantasmal Force, Suggestion

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Tally Craven
Tally comes from the depleted Craven line. All her aunts had gone to fight in the Army and they all died.  She is the last of her line. She lived in the Matrifocal Allotment near Sacramento, California. She had not even seen a male until she answered her call of duty, an action her mother strongly wished her not to do.  Her power is to "see." She can detect disguised and hidden objects or people and might be one of the most powerful seers to come up in the ranks in a long time.
Tally is a sweet girl who loves with all her heart because that is what she knows.  She is fiercely loyal to her Unit.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 9  AC: 7
Tradition: Craven family (Seers) (For this I will use my Classical Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Detect Evil
Spells: Foretell, Detect Invisible, Witch Sense

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Neutral Good
HP:  24   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Detect Magic, Heroism, Identity, Thunderwave, Detect Thoughts, See Invisible

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Raelle Collar
Raelle lived in the part of American known as the Chippewa Cession where the Indigenous Tribal Federations are.  She is a healer of great power, like her mother was.  Her mother was reported dead by the Army and Raelle blames the Army and Gen. Bellweather in particular.  She doesn't want to be there and her plan was get enlisted to the infantry and get killed as soon as possible.  Her attitude earned her the nickname "shitbird" from Abby.
Raelle attitude changed when she met and fell in love with fellow cadet Scylla Ramshorn.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 11  AC: 7
Tradition: Collar family (Healers) (For this I will use my Pagan Witch Tradition and Basic Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Healing Touch (1d4)
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Sleep, Heal Affliction

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Chaotic Good
HP: 24  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Feather Fall, Healing Word, Sleep, Lesser Restoration, Warding Wind

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Scylla Ramshorn
Scylla is a "Necro" or a Necromancer.  Because their power makes others uneasy they are quartered in a different part of the base. We learn that Scylla's parents were killed when she was young.   She meets and falls in love with Raelle.  Later we find out she is part of the terrorist organization known as The Spree, responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country.  Her job was to recruit Raelle, but she actually fell in love with her.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 18

Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 4, Chaotic
HP: 13  AC: 7
Tradition: Ramshorn family (Necromancer) (For this I will use my Mara Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Glamour
Spells: Bewitch I, Lay to Rest, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 4, Chaotic Neutral
HP: 35  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting, Magic Initiate (Necromancer)
Spells: Chill Touch, Message, Minor Illusion, Toll the Dead, Truestrike, Bane, Charm Person, Disguise Self, Dissonant Whispers, Sleep, Enthrall, Lesser Restoration, Suggestion

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet.

Notes

For Basic D&D I linked to the Witchcraft Tradition that best fits each witch.  If I were to do something more like this I might revive my old "War Witch Tradition."  This is the ancient Celtic tradition of witches like The Morrigan and Scáthach.



For 5th Edition Bards felt like the closest match.  I originally had Scylla as a Magic Initiate (Warlock) to cover her other magical abilities and to represent her membership in the Spree.  But I changed it to Magic Initiate (Necromancer) to cover some of her Necro powers.  She is still too low-level to really take advantage of the necromancy spells.

I considered making them all Sword-Pact Warlocks and taking a Magic Initiate Feat at first level to cover their various Traditions/Backgrounds.  So Necromancer for Scylla, Cleric/Healer for Raelle, Bard for Abby and Wizard for Tally.  That might still work well to be honest.

*Windstrike is the basic attack ability of a Warrior Witch.  With her voice the witch can cause 1d6+1 hp of damage.

*Windshear is a ritual spell performed by multiple witches.  It is a shield from attack and it destroys whatever comes in contact with it.



The Scourge is a flail like weapon used by all witches.  It is long with a whip-like handle and a knob on the end that glows with the witch's magic.  It is considered a +1 weapon and does 1d6+1 points of damage.  In D&D 5th Ed it is considered an exotic weapon.

The real test will be doing stats for Sgt. Anacostia Quartermaine and Gen. Sarah Alder.



Other Editions of D&D

Building these characters was so much fun I could not help but think how other editions of D&D might work.

1st Edition AD&D
Bards are out because they are very different here.  I would use Magic-users and let them dual-class into another class to help.  Or even use Druids.

2nd Edition AD&D 
Ah now here is a chance to really try something fun.  Like 5th Edition, I would make them Bards, but I would also have them take the Blade kit from the Complete Bard Handbook.  Again like 1st Ed, I might let them dual-class into another class OR just allow them to take the proper spells.

3rd Edition D&D
So many choices here.  I would try out a Hexblade or Bladesinger for these.  I mean really, a witch-army has the Forgotten Realms written all over it!  Blasesigners and Witches of Rashemen are just about War Witches now.

4th Edition D&D
So many classes!  Ok make them Pact of the Blade Warlocks, let them take a multiclass feat at first level to add the other class features they need.  OR start them out as Witches from Heroes of the Feywild and then multiclass feats.

I might try each option on one character to see how it would work.  The choice is obvious.


She may be General Sarah Alder, but I know a Witch Queen when I see one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: ePic Character Generator

I like to think I have some solid talents. I am at an age where I know what I can do well and what I still need to learn how to do better.  And what I am terrible at.

I am a terrible artist.  I don't even try anymore.  That's fine really. I know plenty of great artists and the things I am good at have allowed me a lifestyle where I can buy the art I want.  But I still love to create.   And that is where character generation software comes in.
I was a HUGE fan of the Brazilian Factory of Heroes (Fábrica de Herois), the City of Heroes character builder, the Skyrim one, and the character builder with the added benefit of 3D-Printed minis, Hero Forge.

A few weeks ago I was in the market for a new character builder, potentially one for a project I have coming up.  Well in one of those rare instances of serendipity while I was doing my Google searches I was approached by András Bondor of Overhead Games.
András offered to send me a copy of the ePic Character Generator to try out. I figured it would be fun.  Well it is. I'll get into the details in a bit.

The character builder is free. You can download it and start right away.  There are even ways to gain free "packs" of design elements.  Their model, and I think it is a good one, is to charge for various design packs.  You see something you want, say the "Sorcerer" pack or the "Drow Spellcaster" pack then you can purchase them and add them to your suite.  You get four packs for free to start, "Female", "Male", "Large Male" (think demons and centaurs), and "Season #1" which combines a lot of smaller releases.
Prices range from $5 to $150.  So there is a pack for every budget.  There is a special perk I am going to talk about later, but it helps offset those costs for me.



For this review, I built a bunch of characters over the last month or so, but for today I'll walk through the building of my new favorite character, Maryah, a Ranger for Old-School Essentials.

Your opening screen has the four basic packs I mentioned above.  If you are going with just the free version for now then the Female pack has the most options.  Click on your pack and hit "Start".
Now at this point you might want to click on the tutorial first.  But I'll leave that to you.


Clicking start gives you the Female demo pack.  In my screens, you see the other packs I have installed.  Hey, you know me, if I can't make a witch first thing then I lose interest pretty fast. ;)


You can choose a pack and start with that. OR you can choose Load Fantasy, Load Modern, or Load All.   Typically I like to load all.   The advantage is you can mix and match all your elements in one design.  The disadvantage is you have lots of screens you might have to click through.


Once you do that you are given a workspace and your new character.  You can try clicking on "Random" to see what you get or click through the various options.
"Skin" also includes species options. So if you want a drow, an elf, a catgirl, or even a zombie this where you start.



There are options for scars, tattoos, and even dirt.  These options are a little limited.  For example, you can't design your own tattoo nor move the presets around.



Some options also exist as "Presets."  So in the "Hair Preset" it is a style and a color.  But what if you want a style, but a different color.  Or a different color anything for that matter?  There is a color palate wheel at the middle bottom of your screen that will allow you to change the color of your current selection.   You move your cursor to the desired color and get a standard RGB notation for it as well as a palette of recently used colors.  The ability to type on the RGB numbers is a great plus.  I might not be able to move my mouse where I want it exactly, but I can type in the numbers.


The ability to do this helps when matching clothes later on.  After the body mods you can then choose how your character appears.  Different packs give you different options.  since I am working on a ranger here, I am going to choose light armor/clothing and favor greens.


You can choose all sorts of items like weapons, back items. and even magic effects.
You can also add tails, horns wings and other elements depending on your packs.



Lastly there are backgrounds and other effects. In this section there are a lot of backgrounds, or you can choose to make the background clear.  You can add companions as well.  I rather like the choices of the animal companions, but the people companions look a touch "off" to me.  No fault of the software or the design team, I think it is a bit of an "uncanny valley" situation.



You can also move any element to the foreground or background.
In this section there are also auras, magical effects, and other items.

Let's move Threnody to the front.

The BEST part of this section is the ability to take your character and make Tokens or Cards. I have not tried to save these and import them into software like Roll20, but I can't see that it would be difficult.




If you have the paid version you can also remove (or turn back on) the Logo.



NOW here is my least favorite part of this software.
Saving and Loading is not at all intuitive.
You click "Settings" then are given the option to "Save" or "Load".

Thankfully if you attempt to exit or go back without saving you will be warned about losing your characters. You can also export your files as a PNG (with optional transparent background) or as Photoshop PSD (if you purchase that option).  Every element in the software is saved as a layer in the PSD file.  Very convenient really.

Not sure why her hair lost it color, but that is not a big deal.
Other Packs give you the option of making character portraits or monsters.

Honestly even with just a couple of packs, including the free ones, you can have a nearly endless supply of choices.  Of course, the packs are very, very tempting and I have been very pleased with the ones I have grabbed.  Overhead Games is always making more.

I did try the software out on my Chromebook as well, installed via GooglePlay and it worked well enough.  Not enough to make me want to switch over from my Windows 10 machine, but it is an option.

Chrome vs. Windows 10
The big thing that caught my eye was their full Commercial License.  Yup, if I want to create some art here and add to one of my books I can do that!  It won't (nor is it intended to) replace an artist, but it will give me some spot art or filler art for characters.  Especially the portrait options.


Overhead Games has strong customer service and support.  In the short while I have been using it I received a customer questionnaire asking about features and prices.  They also have customer forums where others share tips, tricks, and creations.   All my interactions with the company have been great and they are eager to answer any questions.

Another perk are the updates.  The software is updated often.  In fact sometimes I went in to my software and was told: "because you purchased XXXX we are including YYYY now for free." Or something to that effect.

If you are already competent with any 3D art software like Daz3D then you won't need this.
BUT if you are like me and can't even draw a stick figure OR you just want something designed to do RPG-style art then this is a good buy.  It is at least worth the download.

I have played around with it for a while now and I have been able to create most characters I wanted.  I did try to create a passable "Batman" but it did not turn out the way I wanted, but that is much harder to do really, and I am sure Overhead Games wants to avoid people being able to create such a recognizable character.

I was able to get a couple great looking versions of Larina.


It was worth getting the Sorcerer pack for the broom and witches hat.  I know what my priorities are.

Plus some classic D&D characters I'll talk about more next week.  Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf!



I even made a card, exported and edited in Photoshop. Pretty much set up for an RPG as is.



So yes the ePic Character Generator is a ton of fun.  I also see a use for it in the future for some books, but I'll have to judge that according to the book since I most often prefer older looking art.

The pricing model is also great. 

My only complaint is the saving and loading features, but otherwise it is a fantastic bit of software. I can't to make some more characters and see what else this can do.

Get it here: https://overheadgames.com/epic-character-generator/

Friday, May 8, 2020

No Way for You to Hide: Carmilla and Laura for Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition

It's been a while since I did one of these, but I just discovered that the entire seasons of Carmilla have now been collected into single videos, so I thought it might be a good time to revisit some old friends.

Outfits based on this picture.
Characters created with ePic Character Generator

I think for these versions I am going to set it a little after the Carmilla movie and long after the end of Season 3. So I guess three years now.  Wow.

In a Mutants & Masterminds game, Laura is now a world-renown reporter in the Lois Lane mold, with a knack of uncovering supernatural goings-on.  Carm is still living on a fortune that has also collected 340+ years of compound interest. And of course, helping Laura, because she knows that in true Lois Lane fashion, Laura is going to get herself into trouble.

Given the number of adaptations of Carmilla over the years I might even riff on that with one of her less than savory relatives show up.  Maybe an older brother. Someone who is evil, threatens her fortune and whom Carmilla would hesitate to kill outright at first.  That is till he puts the moves on Laura.

For these builds, I am going to rely heavily on the Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Hero's Handbook,
Power Profiles, and of course the Supernatural Handbook.

I figure that Laura is a bit higher in PL than your average reporter.  She has saved the world and she knows Krav Maga.   Carmilla is a very, very old vampire (340 years old!) and she has seen a lot in her years.  She was alive for a while thanks to a "gift" from Inanna and is a vampire again.

Laura Hollis
Creampuff

Strength 1, Stamina 2, Agility 2, Dexterity 1, Fighting 1, Intellect 3, Awareness 1, Presence 1

Advantages
Krav Maga (Accurate Attack, Agile Feint, All-out Attack,  Close Attack, Contacts, Defensive Attack, Improved Disarm, Inspire,  Power Attack, Precise Attack (Close, Concealment), Prone Fighting)
Attractive, Languages 2, Skill Mastery: Expertise: Journalism

Skills
Acrobatics 1 (+3), Athletics 5 (+6), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+7), Deception 1 (+2), Expertise: Journalism 5 (+8), Insight 5 (+6), Investigation 5 (+8), Perception 5 (+6), Persuasion 1 (+2), Stealth 1 (+3)

Offense
Initiative +2
Grab, +2 (DC Spec 11)
Throw, +1 (DC 16)
Unarmed, +7 (DC 16)

Complications
Obsession: Find the truth!
Relationship: Carmilla

Languages
English, French, German

Defense
Dodge 3, Parry 2, Fortitude 3, Toughness 2, Will 1

Power Points
Abilities 24 + Powers 0 + Advantages 15 + Skills 18 (35 ranks) + Defenses 3 = 60

Validation: Unarmed: Attack Bonus exceeds Power Level limit by 1

Height: 5'2"
Weight: 119 lbs
Hair Color: Brown/Blonde
Eye Color: Brown
Age: 25

Carmilla, aka Mircalla, Countess Karnstein
Useless Vampire

Abilities
Strength 5, Stamina -, Agility 2, Dexterity 3, Fighting 5, Intellect 2, Awareness 2, Presence 4

Advantages
All-out Attack, Animal Empathy, Attractive, Fascinate (Deception), Improved Critical 3: Vampire Bite: Weaken 9, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative 3, Languages 4, Power Attack

Skills
Acrobatics 2 (+4), Athletics 2 (+7), Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+8), Deception 5 (+9), Expertise: Languages 6 (+8), Insight 6 (+8), Intimidation 4 (+8), Investigation 1 (+3), Perception 8 (+10), Persuasion 2 (+6), Ranged Combat: ???? 3 (+6), Stealth 10 (+12)

Powers
Alternate Form (Moonlight) (Activation: Move Action)
   Flight: Flight 1 (Speed: 4 miles/hour, 60 feet/round)
   Immunity: Immunity 0
   Insubstantial: Insubstantial 2 (light, Gaseous; Absent Strength)
Cat form: Variable Attack 2 (animal, DC 12, Advantages: All-out Attack; Action: move, Attack: Dodge)
Spider-Climb: Movement 1 (Wall-crawling 1: -1 speed rank)
Undead Invulnerability
   Immortality: Immortality 5 (Return after 1 day; Limited: Not when staked or beheaded [0 ranks only])
   Immunity: Immunity 30 (undead, Fortitude Effects)
   Regeneration: Regeneration 8 (undead, Every 1.25 rounds)
   Vampiric Protection: Protection 9 (+9 Toughness; Limited 2: Not against Holy or Magic)
Vampire Bite: Weaken 9 (undead, Affects: Weaken Stamina, Resisted by: Will, DC 19)
Vampiric Senses: Senses 3 (Acute (Type): smell, Detect: smell (blood) 1)

Offense
Initiative +14
Grab, +5 (DC Spec 15)
Throw, +3 (DC 20)
Unarmed, +8 (DC 20)
Vampire Bite: Weaken 9, +5 (DC Will 19)

Complications
Blood Dependence: Needs blood to live
Relationship: Laura
Weakness: Can't use vampire powers in sunlight.

Languages
Ancient Sumerian, English, French, Hungarian, Latin, Romanian

Defense
Dodge 2, Parry 5, Fortitude None, Toughness 0, Will 2

Power Points
Abilities 36 + Powers 74 + Advantages 15 + Skills 26 (52 ranks) + Defenses 0 = 151

Height: 5'3"
Weight: 121 lbs
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown (red when enraged or feeding)
Age: 340

Links


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Characters: Freyr, Mage Knight

One of the things I have been doing as part of my Back to Basics is creating characters using all the Basic-era clones I have.  In particular I have been looking for characters that optimize the system in question.  There things you can do in Labyrinth Lord for example that you can't do in OSE and things you can do in Blueholme that you can't do in either of the other games.

Now, keep in mind "can't" is a strong word.  I should rather say "rules as written".

To keep it interesting I am using characters from the fantasy playtests of West Haven that appear in NIGHT SHIFT in my "Ordinary World" setting.
West Haven also makes an appearance in my War of the Witch Queens campaign, so these characters have also been my playtests for that.

One character I needed was a half-elf knight or cavalier that also used magic.  His main job was to protect his half-sister, an elvish princess, who I am depicting as an elvish party girl. Yes, she was originally a "Valley Elf" back in the 80s.

But back to my half-elf.  None of the books I have really had what I wanted. Not exactly anyway.
That is until I got a copy of CAL2a Conversion Guide to Caldwen for Vintage Roleplaying and CAL2b Conversion Guide to Caldwen for the OSRIC System
Setting this character in Caldwen makes perfect sense since he is part of a mage school in my concept.  It seemed then at a Mage Knight might be the best choice for him.

So let's try him out.
I am also trying out some new software for character design.
So the art here is from Overhead Software's ePic Character Generator. so far it is pretty fun.

To build this character I am using the following:


Freyr, Mage Knight of Caldwen



Male, half-elf Mage Knight 6th level, Chaotic Good.

Abilities
Strength  16 (+2)
Intelligence 16 (+2)
Wisdom 10 (0)
Dexterity 16 (+2)
Constitution 12 (0)
Charisma 12 (0)

AC 2 (Chain mail, shield and Dex -2)
HP 25
Base THAC0  15 (13 mod)

Saving Throws
Breath Attacks 13
Poison or Death 10
Petrify or Paralyze 12
Wands 11
Spells, Spell-like devices 14

Powers
+4 to saves vs. Paralyzing touch of Ghouls
Spellcasting
Sense Raw Mana
Demon Enmity
Laying On Hands

Spells
First Level: Light, Magic Missile, Shield
Second Level:  Knock, Detect Evil

Really straight forward and he compares well to the 5e version I also created.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Bodhmal and Liath Luchara for OSE and the Pagan Witch

Not monsters really, but NPCs from my upcoming The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition.  Bodhmal is a Bándrui witch, Liath is her Cowan, or witch's companion or champion. A cowan is a non-witch class that has the ability to learn some witch magics. I detail the benefits of a cowan in the new book.

Bodhmal
Female Witch 7th level, Pagan Tradition (Bándrui)
Armor Class 8 [11]
Hit Dice/Level 7+ 7 (25 hp)
Attacks 1 × weapon
THAC0 18 [+2]
Movement Rate 90’ (30’)
Saves D8 W9 P9 B12 S11 (Witch 7, Bracers +2)
Morale 10
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 1,250
Number Appearing Unique
Treasure Type P (J)

Str 10 Int 14 Wis 14 Dex 10 Con 14 Cha 18

Bodhmal has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.
She casts as a 7th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Wolf
7th level: Shape Change

Spells by Level
1st (3): Cure Light Wounds, Empathic Senses, Ceremony
2nd (2): Animal Messenger, Pins and Needles
3rd (2): Call Lightning, Scry
4th (1): Polymorph

Magic Items
Bracers of Protection +2

Bodhmal’s father was a druid but she chose the path of the Bándrui.  She is the foster mother to Fionn MacCumhail and also his aunt. Fionn is her sister’s son.  She has been bonded to Liath, the Grey warrior, as Cowan for many years.

'Sí mo laoch mo ghile mear
'Sí mo Scáthach, gile mear
Suan gan séan ní bhfuair mé féin
Ó chuaigh I gcéin mo ghile mear


Liath Luchara
Female Ranger 8th level (Cowan)
Armor Class 5 [14] +2
Hit Dice/Level 8 + 16 (52 hp)
Attacks 1 × weapon (1d8) 
THAC0 18 [+2]
Movement Rate 90’ (30’)
Saves D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (Ranger 8)
Morale 12
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 1,750
Number Appearing Unique
Treasure Type None

Str 13 Int 12 Wis 14 Dex 16 Con 16 Cha 12

Ranger Abilities
Tracking: 90%

Spells by level
Druid, 1st (1): Animal friendship
Witch, 0 (3): Ensure a Successful Hunt, Merry Greetings, Summon a Witch

Items
Long Sword, Witchlight +2
Leather Armor
Spear, Gáe Assail

Liath Luchara, the Grey Warrior, has been defending her clan since she was old enough to hold a spear.  She has joined with Bodhmal as Cowan to help protect the babe Fionn MacCumhail, who she has started calling “Deimne” because of his fair hair.

Special shout out to Brian O'Sullivan who has also written a lot about Liath and Bodhmal. These stats are based more on the versions I have used over the years, but his characters are great too.  Pick up his books if you want to read more.

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition out tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Kytarra Bane, the Witch Queen and Mixing Books

I am often asked if one witch book can be used with another or with a game I didn't overtly design it for.  Say for example using The Warlock with Basic-era D&D, or The Amazon Witch Tradition with AD&D or S&W.   Well, the short answer is YES!


My goals for every book are simple. Make it a fun class. Make it compatible with every other book. Make it so the someone can pick one up and play it.   Any book I have can be and will be, someone's first book in the series.  So I want maximum playability.

So what can you do to mix them?  Well like I said I spend a lot of time trying to make it easy and avoid any potential issues.  In all things your GM has the say (and you or they can also always ask me) but here is an example.

Today I want to rebuild a character from Necromancer's Fane of the Witch King.
The character is Kytarra Bane, the "Witch Queen" of the adventure.  In the D&D3/d20 is a half-fiend/half-nymph 4th level druid.  Here nymph and druid levels "stack" in d20 so she ends up something like an 11th level druid.  But I don't want a druid. I want a witch.  So how could I build her using my books?

Well, given that she is half-fiend I am going to opt to make her part of the Mara Tradition.   To handle her handful of druid spells I will also grab some material from the S&W Green Witch book.  Finally, to deal with her half-nymph side I am going to use the multiclassing and use any race rules from the Classical Tradition book.  That book also has a large variety of nymphs to choose from.   Her bonus spells due to high Charisma (from The Mara book) and her Occult powers will help cover her nymph and fiend abilities.

Since I have all the books I can choose from a wider variety of spells for her.  There is some overlap in spells, that can't be helped. All witched get a Curse spell of some sort, but it makes for a nicer variety all the same.  I will also grab some cantrips from my original The Witch for Basic-Era Games book.

Kytarra Bane, The Witch Queen
From Fane of the Witch King
11th Level Witch, Mara Tradition
Half-nymph/Half-demon

Strength: 19
Intelligence: 20
Wisdom: 20
Dexterity: 17
Constitution: 17
Charisma: 20

Saves (unadjusted)
Death Ray or Poison:  9
Magic wand or devices: 10
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, and Spells: 11

Hit Points: 52
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: -1 (-2 dex, -1 natural, -3 bracers, Death Armor +1)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Fiendish Dire Tiger
Herb use
Lesser:  Blinding Beauty (as per Blindness spell, once per day)

Spells
Cantrips (6): Black Flame, Chill, Flare, Mend Minor Wounds (x2), Object Reading
First (4+3): Bewitch I, Endure Elements, Fey Step, Häxen Talons, Mend Light Wounds, Obedient Beast, Obscuring Cloud
Second (3+3): Burning Gaze, Burning Hands, Defiling Touch, Fury of the Sun, Produce Flame, Stunning Allure
Third (3+2): Bewitch III, Brave the Flames, Contagion, Continual Fire, Witch Fire
Fourth (2+2): Dispel Magic, Dryad's Door, Elemental Armor, Rain of Spite
Fifth (2): Death Curse, Flame Strike
Sixth (1): Fire Seeds

Magic Items: Bracers (+3), Death Armor

I am pretty pleased with this build. I grabbed unique spells from all my sources listed about and it made for a nice witch. The mixing worked well and I ended up with a character very close to that of the original d20 product.  Since she is not part of an organized coven, or any coven really, I opted NOT to give her any witch Rituals.  That is not a hard and fast rule in the books, but one I use in my own games.

The are more ways to combine the books.  I should have a few more NPC witches coming up.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Marissia, Daughter of Zelligar, The "First Witch"

In my post yesterday I talked about my favorite adventure, B1 In Search Of The Unknown.


One of the things that brought back memories for me was Cavern #43.  It is blank in the adventure, but I added something special, a witch named "Marissia" (sic, I was 11 ok).  She might not be the very first witch I ever made, but I am having a hard time figuring out who exactly was.  Until some other proof comes up, it will be Marissia.


Her name comes from me miss hearing the Jerry Reed version of "Pretty Mary Sunlight".  I thought he was saying "Pretty Marissa mine".  Hey, I was little and I certainly heard from The New Scooby-Doo Movies.  In fact a lot of my early ideas about witches came from Scooby-Doo. In fact it is also very, very likely I based her and her name also on Millissa Wilcox, The Ghost Witch of Salem, from the Scooby-Doo episode "To Switch a Witch." An interesting episode since since it featured a gravestone for the witch with a Leviathan Cross on it.   I mean seriously, a goddamn Leviathan Cross in 1978? That was a ballsy move on the eve of the Satanic Panic.



Marissia
7th level Witch, Mara Tradition
Chaotic

Strength: 11
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 15
Charisma: 18

AC: 7
HP: 36

Magic items: Dagger +1, Ring of Protection +2

Occult Powers
Familiar: Dog (looks like a Hell Hound)
Dream Invasion

Spells
First: Allure, Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Chill of Death, Ghostly Slashing
Second: Bewitch II, Death Armor, Scare, Summon Olitiau
Third: Bestow Curse, Danse Macabre, Lover’s Vengeance, Summon and Bind Imp of the Perverse (Ritual)
Fourth: Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Witch's Cradle

I made her into a Mara witch since I wanted her to be a Basic-era witch and the Mara was one of the first traditions I ever wrote.  Marissia was also an early archetype of the evil, or at least chaotic, seductress type witch. Something the Mara does perfectly.  Marissia was not actually all that evil, just a little evil or really mostly chaotic.

Also, I thought let's make her Zelligar's daughter. Seemed liked a good thing. Given the Caves of Chaos she should be a witch of Ereshkigal, but I likely at the time thought more about Hecate.  Maybe a syncretized Ereshkigal with Hecate.  She is a nice perky blonde goth witch.  She was my late 70s Taylor Momsen.

I found these images of Elmore's Green Witch and Early Snow witch pained by the same artist.  The images are really perfect. First off these minis are the same ones I have used for my Larina.


This one is blonde (which Marissia was), wearing green (ditto), and a purple dress. It is a nice call-back to the Scooby-doo witch above.  I wish I had a spare $330.00 to buy them both.

This has been a fun romp down memory lane. It's like reconnecting with an old girl-friend and hearing she is ok and doing great.
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