Showing posts with label charmed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charmed. Show all posts

Friday, January 6, 2017

Start Your Year With a Reboot, or Two

By now anyone that reads this blog would have read it elsewhere about the new adventure from Wizards of the Coast, Tales from the Yawning Portal. Gotta admit I really don't care for the name, but the book itself intrigues me.

The adventures include:
Sound familiar? Yeah, all stuff I have run and converted to 5e myself. Where was this two years ago!  That all being said, it looks like it could be a lot of fun and certainly something I will pick up.

There are some conversion on the DMs Guild now, but not for all these yet.  Plus it will be interesting to see what 5e designers actually have to say about these adventures.

In other reboot news that might only be exciting for me, it looks like the CW is ordering a reboot of the series Charmed.  The new series will have three new witches and take place in New England set in 1976.
For me, this sounds great. New England, 1976, Charmed...it's like someone was reading my Christmas list. I have always been a huge fan of Charmed and always thought it would make for a fun RPG property.   Maybe this will reignite some interest in that.

In both cases, adventures and television, I'll have to wait.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cinematic Unisystem: Witches of East End

It really should be no surprise that I enjoy Lifetime's Witches of East End.


Yes it is a "chick show" and yes it is soap opera-y but really I don't care.  It is a a fun show and it has witches in it.  Plus I love Mädchen Amick and was drawn in because of her.

But a few surprising things happened.  First I was not prepared to walk away saying "wow Julia Ormond was really great in that!"  I NEVER liked Julia Ormond, I never liked her work.  Yet this show made me do a complete 180.  I think she is great in this and now I am wondering if I was just underestimating her as an actress.  OR I think she needed to mature a bit more (and maybe me too) so I could appreciate how good she is.
Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan-Tatum are both great as the younger witches Ingrid and Freya respectively.

Honestly it is like the a crossover between "Charmed" and "Practical Magic".

Of course I was bummed out when Lifetime canceled it after Season 2.
Though there maybe hope yet. There is a massive campaign to get the show back and it seems to be making a lot of head way. Even William Shatner is Tweeting that it should not have been canceled.
Checking on the #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd hashtag on Twitter it seems to be gaining more and more ground.



Witches of East End for Cinematic Unisystem

My normal mode here is to use Classic Unisystem for books and Cinematic for TV shows.  Well Witches of East End is both.  For this posting I am going to focus soley on the TV show and do Cinematic Unisystem.  This is mostly Buffy/Angel stats, but a lot of Ghosts of Albion added in since it is a better fit for the show.
The Beauchamp witches are considered to be a supernatural race so they can choose some supernatural qualities and drawbacks normally denied to humans.

Joanna Beauchamp
Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond)
Witch
Str: 2  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 5 Per: 4 Wil: 7

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Age 10, Attractive 1, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 5, Hard to Kill 5, Healing Touch 3, Immortal, Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 7, Unique Kill (Argentium)

Drawbacks
Adversary 5 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),  Emotional Problems (must protect her girls above all else) 1, Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Obsession (Find a cure for her family curse), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 1, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, knowledge 6, Languages 4 (English, Latin, Greek, Asgardian), Notice 5, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +22
Deflect: +22

Joanna is the matriarch of the Beachamp witches.  She is sister to Wendy and mother to Ingrid and Freya.  Joanna is over 1,000 years old and has been living on earth in exile. She tries to maintain a low profile when she can in order to keep her girls safe.
She works as an art teacher in the small town of North Hampton

Wendy Beauchamp (Mädchen Amick)
Wendy Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 4 Con: 2 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 5

Life Points: 54
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Acute Senses 2 (night vision, smell), Age 9, Attractive 2, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 4, Hard to Kill 8, Healing Touch 2, Immortal, Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), Supernatural Form (dual form, human and cat), TK 6, Unique Kill (kill all her nine lives)

Drawbacks
Addiction 1 (mild lechery), Adversary 4 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),   Love (Tragic), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 3, Crime 2, Doctor 2, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 4, Gun Fu 1, Influence 4, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Asgardian), Notice 6, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 3

Spellcasting: +19
Deflect: +19

Wendy is Joanna's younger sister. She is flighty and free spirited, but is fiercely devoted to her sister and nieces.  Wendy and Joanna were estranged for while when Wendy accidentally killed one of Ingrid's incarnations.

Ingrid Beauchamp (Rachel Boston)
Ingrid Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 6 Per: 4 Wil: 4

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 2, Bookish, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 2, Healing Touch 2, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 4, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Greek), Notice 5, Occultism 5, Research 4, Science 5, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +12
Deflect: +12

Ingrid is the oldest daughter. She has only discovered that she is in fact a witch.  She spent most of her life as a rational skeptic.  She has similar powers to her mother but can also write new spells.
Ingrid currently works at the local East End library. She is also working on her dissertation on witches and witchcraft.

Freya Beauchamp (Jenna Dewan-Tatum)
Freya Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 3 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 3

Life Points: 37
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 3, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 1, Healing Touch 1, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Dash, Killian), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 2, Computer 2, Crime 2, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 5, Languages 1 (English), Notice 4, Occultism 4, Research 3, Science 2, Sports 2, Wild Card (Making Potions) 3

Spellcasting: +10
Deflect: +10

Frey is the youngest and usually the first to fall in love.  She is not as strong in her magic as her sister or mother, but has a special affinity for making potions.  She is also the daughter that gets along the best with Aunt Wendy.
Freya has calmed down a lot since her "wild child" days (which also makes her Wendy's favorite) to get married to a man named Dash. Though she falls in love with his brother, Killian.  Both brothers are warlocks though.   Freya currently works as a bartender.

Personally I think they would work great in any Cinematic Unisystem game.

I'd love to see more of this show (and so would the rest of the fans).

If you feel so inclined, send a Tweet to @Lifetime with the hashtag #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd.
I would consider is a personal favor.

Also if you are so inclined then please check out this petition.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/renew-witches-of-east-end

Saturday, August 16, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

Following up on yesterday.  I wish I had kept my copy of the Supernatural RPG.


I lost track of watching the show and I was not playing the game at the time so I sold my core book.

Of course I almost immediately regretted it and picked up the PDF.  But I would like to have a copy of this book.  Actually I would like one that is updated to the latest seasons.

The other game I wished I owned is one I wished existed and I wish I could write.


I personally think it would be a blast.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z of Witches. P

P is for Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Page

I don't hide it.  I loved Charmed. One of my wishes is to write the official Charmed RPG.

Not a real game, but I wish it were.
I have talked about Charmed a few times here including the first A to Z Challenge I ever participated in; C is for Charmed.  I also wrote a Buffy/Charmed crossover for the Buffy RPG, "Semi-Charmed Life".

What I liked the most really was the interaction between the sisters.  It was a show about family that also happened to be witches and kill demons.  Supernatural covers similar ground and I like it for similar reasons.

I also picked up the Charmed comic that continued the story of Piper, Phoebe, Paige and yes, Prue.
That was the other thing, Prue was killed at the end of Season 3. They were still mourning her in one way or the other by Season 8.  Star Trek The Next Generation did that with Tasha, but most other genre shows forget after an episode or two (looking at you Buffy).

A couple of Gen Con's back I got a chance to play a Buffy-based Buffy/Supernatural/Charmed crossover. I got to play Piper. It was a blast.

Buffy is an obvious choice for a Charmed game, but I have also been playing around with Fate a little.
My ideas are only in the genesis phase at the moment, but I have some.  I also have a Fate Week coming up so hopefully I will get them altogether for that.



Supernatural AtoZ

Friday, May 18, 2012

Charmed RPG, and Dave Hoover

There are two things I would still love to do in the RPG Biz.
The first is create my own game from the ground up.  With Ghosts of Albion, although it is a complete game and I am very, very proud with it, I didn't create the mechanics that power it.

The second is write the Charmed RPG.
I have made no secret of my love for Charmed.  I loved the TV show and have been reading the "Season 9" comic.  I think there are many more stories to tell in this universe.

I'd love to kill two birds with one stone too.

Not a real cover. But I can hope.
I know I am not the only one.  Jason Blair (Little Fears) has called Charmed his "dream license" and Andrew Peregrine (Victorana 2nd Ed and Hellcats & Hockeysticks) made his own version back in the day. So I obviously have some steep competition in this regard.

But I was looking over some art from Dave Hoover and thought how fantastic would it be if the RPG book had all the comicbook art.

Paige

Phoebe

Piper


Looks pretty good to me.
Those are of course from the late Dave Hoover. He would have been 57 this week.

I am sure that one day I am going to write my own system.  I even have stacks of notes and drafts.  I just doubt it will be a "Charmed" game.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Charmed

I am not ashamed of this, but all things considered I vastly prefer Charmed to Buffy. I don't even consider myself a Buffy fan to be honest, more of a Willow & Tara fan. But I am an unapologetic Charmed fan.

There is the whole witch thing to be sure.  And the Charmed Ones are rather easy on the eyes.  But I think my friend and former TV writer Robert Black said it best,  Charmed never forgot who their audience was and never forgot they were a TV show.

You can see his post from an archive of the Original Other Side here, http://web.archive.org/web/20040518093406/http://www.xtreme-gaming.com/theotherside/tenways.html

I am at a really good place in my gaming life.  I get to game all the time now with various groups. I get to talk to the people that make this hobby happen and they are really cool.  And I get to write the stuff I like.

But I'd kill to be able to write a Charmed RPG.



While I know the demographics of the show and your average gamer are not exactly the same, I think with the amount of "modern supernatural" fiction being published today that a Charmed game would be fantastic.  Buffy sold well, Dresden Files is doing nicely.  Granted those are properties with significant geek/gamer buy-in and at the time of their games the properties are still active.

I would like to point out that with all the stuff I have written about witches and magic in the things I have published that this game would be a natural for me. ;)

The world of Charmed is richer and it is a drama about sisters that happen to be witches and living in a supernatural world. Not one about witches that happen to be sisters.  The differences sound subtle but have huge potential differences on how a story can be told.  Charmed featured, not just witches and demons (the typical fare in my book) but all sorts of other races, creatures and groups with agendas of their own; and just because two groups were working for the same side they didn't always get along.  For example the Charmed Ones and the Elders or even the Valkyries.

I think there are better stories one can tell in the Charmed universe, actually I know so.  One of the premises of Season of the Witch was to take two Buffy characters and put them into a more Charmed like universe and tell a story.  It worked. It worked really well in fact.

Of course my system of choice for this would be Unisystem, but I can also see doing it in something like Mutants & Masterminds or even Cortex..    Maybe I need to chase down the company that owns the game rights (I know, or rather knew, who they are) and see if they want to hire me cheap.  If Eden were to do it and publish it I'd even consider doing it for free.

There are a couple of versions of Charmed on the web.
Andrew Peregrine, author of Victoriana 2nd ed and Hellcats and Hockeysticks did one way back when.  You can still find it here, http://www.peregrine.madasafish.com/charmedrpg/.

Jeff Slick also did one years ago, but all his copies seem to be gone.  I did find thins one though, http://www.scribd.com/doc/44502892/Charmed-RPG-Netbook.

I like both, but there are things I'd do different in each one.

At the end of the day though I think a Charmed RPG may never be.  More is the pity too.  I think I could really rock on writing it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 1

Episode 1: Semi-Charmed Life



Episode 1: Semi-Charmed Life by ~WebWarlock on deviantART

Semi-Charmed Life
Summer 2004

Overview: Willow and Tara join forces with the Charmed Ones to stop D’hoffryn from becoming the new Source.

Synopsis: Willow and Tara are on vacation in San Francisco when they decide to stop in an auction house selling items from the Victorian Occult revival. While there they notice many demons and witches passing as normal humans. A book catches Tara’s eye and the director of the auction tells her she should buy it. The book is “The Journal of Tamara Swift”. The girls also notice another item up for a bid, a talisman believed to be owned by Madame Blavatsky, but Willow notices it as the Heart of Belial, a potent demonic artifact.
They bid on the items and win the Journal, but the Heart goes to a very attractive woman (who reminds them of Cordelia). The auction director tells the girls that the Heart has fallen into the hands of evil and they have to stop it. She says she could not do anything herself, but tells Willow and Tara that they need to find her sisters, The Charmed Ones. She tells them her name is Prue Halliwell.

At the same time at the Halliwell Manor Piper is frantic about trying to juggle new baby Chris and still dealing with P3 scheduling nightmares (she is trying to get Michelle Branch back), Phoebe is rushing off to work and Paige is reading the want ads. In the middle of all this chaos, Prue appears and tells them that the “Charmed Ones” (but not “you” or “my sisters”) are in danger. Everyone panics, and Leo says he wants to talk to the only other witch he knows that has come back from the dead.

Leo finds Willow and Tara and takes them to the Halliwell manor. Leo knew Tara when she was in Heaven and she asks him about Kara. Willow wants to know why she does not have a Whitelighter and Leo tells her it was because she was using magic for personal gain and on a tract towards evil.

Meantime the demon (Kira the Seer) who purchased the Heart of Belial shimmers into the underworld. Where she meets with D’Hoffryn. She give the Heart to him commenting that every demon from the source on down that has fought the Charmed Ones has gotten a bad case of being dead. D’hoffryn replies that is why he is not going to fight them, he has something more subtle in mind. Kira also lets him know that Willow and Tara are also in town. D’Hoffryn comments that this must mean that the Awakening is about to occur. He take the Heart and begins to chant his spell.

At the Halliwell Manor the five witches discuss what this all must mean. They look up the Heart in the both The Book of Shadows and in the Journal of Tamara Swift. They discover that it is the actual heart of the demon Belial and it had been in the possession of the former Protector of Albion, John Dee and assumed to be destroyed by later Protector Tamara Swift. The Heart allows it’s possessor to manipulate time. The Halliwells immediately trust Tara and Willow when they go to the Book of Shadows and can open it.
Suddenly Phoebe and Willow disappear and are replaced by Paradox Sisters. Everyone believes that everything is completely normal, including the fact that Paradox Phoebe and Paradox Willow do not have magic (and thus no Charmed Ones power of three or Willow and Tara’s combined Anamchara magic). Tara attempts to hold Willow’s hand and going in a kiss, which causes Willow to pull back in shock. Paradox Willow is straight. At the same time the Book of Shadows refuses to be around Phoebe. Leo orbs out to consult with the underworld (he still does not trust the other Elders). The witches have no time to figure out why though, they are attacked by the warlocks Hannah and Rex.

Taking advantage of Leo's absence the warlocks attack. As in Season 1 of Charmed they try to steal the Charmed Ones powers. The battle goes badly given the depowered nature of the cast and it looks like they are about to gain their quarry, Wyatt’s vast untapped power, when Hannah is hit by an arc of Elder lighting. Thinking is it Leo the Cast is surprised (as are the Players) when it is revealed to be Prue. A wounded Hannah and Rex shimmer out.

In the Underworld Leo find real Willow and real Phoebe, but they are in a temporal bubble and their powers are being drained. Once he sees them Leo remembers who they are. He attacks D’Hoffryn who tosses him around like a rag doll. He hits him with lighting of his own and he disappears. D’Hoffryn tells Phoebe that he was removed from all time. Rex and Hannah shimmer in and D’Hoffryn kills them by tossing them across the room. Willow and Phoebe tell D’Hoffryn it is only a matter of time before they are found by their loved ones. D’Hoffryn tells them that they are not even looking.

At the manor everyone knows there something wrong. Tara feels a loss she can’t explain and is getting very concerned and Paradox Willow is depressed. Paradox Phoebe is angry because she is only here because her flight back to New York was delayed and she hates being involve in all this “magic stuff”. But everyone is more concerned with Prue returning. Thinking that the Heart of Belial must be at the root of this, the witches try to scry for it, but no success.

Phoebe, an empath, combines her magic with Willow to try to get a message out. Phoebe tries to get it Piper, but Willow’s thoughts are too strong on Tara. Tara, also an empath, gets the message.

The three witches and the paradox sisters are orbed to the underworld by Prue. D’Hoffryn is in the middle of some spells surrounded by demons in robes. Everyone sees real Phoebe and real Willow in the bubble, but can’t reach them. The Charmed Ones and Prue attack the demons, Tara tries to get to Willow and Phoebe. Paradox Willow and Paradox Phoebe remain in the background, mostly forgotten.

The Demons are fought and killed and Tara and Phoebe figure out a way to break the time bubble. Once that is done the Charmed Ones power back up, as do Willow and Tara. The remaining priest demons are then easily vanquished. Paige hurls a vanquishing potion at D’Hoffryn but it has no effect. He has become the new Source of All Evil. He throws a fireball at Prue but Paradox Phoebe pushes her out of the way and takes the full blast, exploding into ashes. Prue attacks D’Hoffryn with her lighting. This leaves the cast (and the players) to figure out what to do next. They decide to try a modified version of the Power of Three spell, only this one is a Power of Five. All five witches link hands, even Paradox Willow puts her hands on top of Tara’s and Willow’s linked hands, and they summon the power of the witches in their family line. The spell takes hold and strikes down D’Hoffryn, destroying him and the Heart of Belial. Leo reappears, but Paradox Willow remains.

At the end of the episode the cast, with Prue and Paradox Willow, are at P3. Michelle Branch is back.
The women toast to their new friends and family and promise to always help each other in the future. Paradox Willow wonders why she is still here and all they can think of is there must be some magic left over from the Heart. Willow discovers that Paradox Phoebe has an apartment still in New York so Paradox Willows figure she will go there since she has always wanted to sing on stage. They raise a toast to their “lost sister” Phoebe Bennet and Prue gets ready to leave. Prue does tell Willow that her case was “reviewed” again by the other Elders and they have decided to give her and Tara a Whitelighter on a “probationary” basis. Prue orbs out and Cordelia Chase orbs in with a “You have got to be kidding me!”

Tara, laughing, opens up the Journal of Tamara Swift and a letter falls out. It is address to “Misses Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg”. It was written by Tamara in 1889.

Epiloge
Kira is on her knees picking through the dust that was D’Hoffryn till she finds a small rock. Saying “that will do” she holds it and concentrates. Cole half shimmers in. She hands him the rock, all that is left of the Heart of Belial, and tells him she kept up her side of the deal now he was going to tell her how she can come back from the wasteland after Zankou kills her in a few months.

Notes and Comments

Well as the first official episode I had a lot of setup I wanted to do here, but not beat people over the head with it. I mention the Awakening only once and we learn that Tara’s mother was named Megan and her Grandmother Deidre.

I wanted a “witchier” feel to this season than Buffy, so there are lots of elements from various witch shows to guide the players in; Buffy, Charmed, Hex, Ghosts of Albion even little bits of Practical Magic. Then there is the letter to the girls from Tamara, big stuff is in store. Plus I also touch on the theme of nothing is more important than the people you love.

In many ways Charmed is seen as the antithesis of Buffy. So what better way to seperate "Willow & Tara the Series" from Buffy than to have a Charmed crossover.  And not just a crossover, but show Buffy characters aspiring to becoming more Charmed-like. D'Hoffryn becoming The Source, Willow wanting a Whitelighter, Cordy becoming a Whitelighter.

I used Andrew Pergine’s Charmed netbook for the Girls stats, even if I am not 100% sold on his point breakdowns for Whitelighters.

I brought in some Charmed bad guys, Rex and Hannah, and Buffy bad guy D’Hoffryn making a claim to Source. In truth D’Hoffryn would make a bad ass Source, too bad he did the one thing you should never, ever do in my games; piss of a witch.  Here is D'Hoffryn's entry in the Halliwell Book of Shadows.  It mentions that there is no known vanquishing potion for him (Willow would have been able to figure one out back in the old series) but that does not stop the cast from trying one.



Charisma Carpenter gets double duty here both as Cordy the new Whitelighter and as Kira the Seer. I wanted to bring back Cordy because I felt her character got shafted in the show. Not as bad as Tara, but still. Plus she also makes a good foil for Willow, I bring in Tara’s foil later. And let’s be totally honest here, Charima Carpenter is hot.


Of course Paradox Phoebe and Paradox Willow are from my Sisters of Paradox post. They were developed for this adventure. http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2009/11/sisters-of-paradox.html

Paradox Willow living at the end was homage by us to our friend and fellow Kitten Bob Black who came up with the idea originally and he had Paradox Willow live. Paradox Phoebe dies to save Prue which I felt was good because it should that even though that Paradox Phoebe hated Prue they were still sisters and you do anything to help a family member or loved one.

Plus it also became something of an in-joke in my group. If you are playing the Buffy RPG and your Willow is straight then it obviously means you are using the "Riff Reagan" version.

The playable characters were Phoebe (and Paradox Phobe, same player), Piper, Paige, Willow (and Paradox Willow, same player) and Tara. Originally Prue was also going to be a playable character, but it never really worked out. I also had a sub-plot with Andy returning, but it was too much.

This was also the only episode where I made a "cover" image.  You will note that the "Buffy RPG" logo is dropped and a "Willow & Tara RPG" logo is in it's place.  I figure that if you run a modern supernatural game using Ghosts of Albion as the source and the Buffy books as the splats, then what you have is the "Willow & Tara Roleplaying Game".  Made sense to me.

Here is the back cover:



Kara was of course Tara's "Sister" from the Dragon and the Phoenix, Megan was her mother and Deidre her Grandmother.  Originally it was the other way around, but Lisa had Megan as Tara's mother in all her work, so I switched them.  Pru was not a Player-Character at the time, so I felt it was not right to have her there to defeat the bad guy.

The rest of this season was not as finished as "The Dragon and the Phoenix", often times all I had were some rough notes.  Plus my regular group of players was getting less regular.  I was also moving to a new group and running more Ghosts of Albion.  Some of these adventures then had their origin as something that could be run under Buffy or Ghosts.

Originally these were to follow right after "Dragon" but there was a lot of time inbetween, so there is a break of one year game time between the last episode of Dragon ("No Other Troy") and "Semi-Charmed Life".

Next up the girls go to London to confront their past and future. Plus one more guest star makes a surprising appearance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Magic in Cortex, Savage Worlds and Witch Girls Adventures


This is part two of my deep delve into the magic systems of some of the games I like, in particular Cortex, Unisystem and Savage Worlds.


So. I am currently re-doing the magic system for an RPG and trying not to plagiarize myself from other games and it has me thinking.


Why don't Savage Worlds or Cortex have better magic systems?


I'll be 100% honest here, I am not a huge fan of Savage Worlds, but I do see the attraction and why it is a good game. So it is likely that there is something out there and I just haven't found it yet. I do however own every Cortex book there is (and I love the Supernatural RPG) and I usually left feeling a little underwhelmed when it comes to magic. This seems a touch odd really, given the people that worked on it and games that have come out for it. Ok, to be fair, none of the games are trying to be the next Mage or WitchCraftRPG.

Reading over both games I am struck with many of the similarities (yes there are lots of differences too, but I want to talk about them in general) they share. No surprise really. Both are products of post-d20 game design and both take the best aspects (in their author's opinions) of games that came before. Both attempt to fill the same need that GURPS, True 20 or Unisystem fills for others. Maybe that is why I am not all "ZOMG THIS IS TEH BEST GAEM EVAR!!!!" about them. Yeah they are really, really good. But they are missing something critical for me. A good magic system.


Now Savage Worlds presents a system that is designed to be used with Magic, Psionics, Mad/Weird Science or Supers. It does work and it has a nice streamlined design that I do like. In fact it really is the first game where I felt Mad Science was a great option (I disliked it in both Mage and Buffy). Cortex is more of toolkit approach in the core where the author actively supports you building a system on your own. Why thank you Jamie! I think I might just have to do that. ;)

I have made attempts over the last year to port the Ghosts of Albion magic system over to varying degrees of success (and failure). The process is simple really. Pick an attribute (typically a mental one), add an Edge (SW: such as "Arcane Background") or Asset (Cortex), combined with a skill (Savage Worlds suggests "Spellcasting" or "faith") and compare that to some target number, usually modified by the spell difficulty. Not really that hard. The system out of the box for Savage Worlds is most similar in concept to WitchCraft, where Arcane Background functions as The Gift. Then this allows you to buy more powers (Edges) that are used as spells. In Ghosts of Albion spells are not Edges, Assets or Qualities, they are things you can buy or acquire, typically via the Occult Library Quality. This frees up those character creation points, but makes for very specific effects. "Fireball" does just that, but a "Fire Manipulation" power can be at low levels effecting a normal flame or a fireball at higher ones. Arcane books then in this system then become more how-to-guides and training rather than recipes for spells. Good for WitchCraft RPG and Witch Girls Adventures, bad for Charmed, Buffy and Ghosts of Albion.


So I have to take a different approach.


So should "Spells" be Powers? Yes. I think that much is clear. Given the point economies of both systems spending a ton of points on individual effect spells will take forever. Of course that is if I am doing something like Charmed. If I stick with something like Supernatural then maybe that is fine.

There needs to be a trait (Edge, Asset, Quality or even Attribute) that grants power to perform magic. Like the Gift or Magic. It is tied to a skill, called Spellcasting or Arcana maybe. The skill then can be how you increase your personal power. Of course the Magic trait can also have levels to represent raw power and even something like Mana/Essence points. Currently neither game offers something exactly like this. But Witch Girls Adventures does.


Witch Girls Adventures is fun game I picked up over the summer and have been having quite a bit of fun with. So before I build a new magic system, let's see how one ported over might work.

WGA has a Magic attribute that typically starts out at d8 for most characters, though some have d10. Remember, this is a magic heavy game. Let's translate that to a Magic Edge/Asset. The first level you can buy is d4 and it can move up. WGA also has the Spellcasting skill. Let's move that over as well.
The basic Cortex formula then is Magic + Spellcasting and compare vs Target number. It's a simple system. WGA also various spells/powers that can be bought or learned. We can also use the basic Zap Point mechanic.


Savage Worlds is a bit different. It's power system compares your level (Novice, Seasoned, Veteran…) and then subtracts power points. In WGA every spell has a level, 1 to 6 typically, and those might correspond to SW levels. So Novice can be levels 1-2, Seasoned 3, Veteran 4, Heroic 5 and up. The power Points loss is equal to twice the WGA level. You can still take the different magical "Schools" and break them out into skills. It might even make sense to create a Magic Attribute (just like WGA) and have it ranked d4 and up and purchase the magical skills (WGA schools) just like one does normally in SW. A magic roll then is a Skill roll (plus the Wild Die for Wild Cards) compared to the TN, and then add in any raises. I would also give magic using characters power points equal to twice their Magic Attribute die. So a d4 has 8, a d8 has 16 and so on, just like Witch Girls Zap points.


I like this for Cortex, but not convinced it is any better or worse than what Savage Worlds already has now. What is does give Savage Worlds is more variety to its magic system. Like Unisystem, Savage Worlds has carved out a niche for itself and it works well in that niche. It's Pulpy with "Bigger Than Life Heroes!" and maybe not the high magic hijinks one would see in Ghosts of Albion or Mage.


I have a couple more ideas to test this out, maybe finally bringing to life that Charmed RPG I have been dying to do for years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sisters of Paradox

Sisters of Paradox

Note: This one is for my friend Robert Black. He was one of the ones that got me into Charmed, Hex and renewed my love for Doctor Who. He is also an unabashed Willow and Tara fan and fellow Kitten. Bob is now a successful novelist and I proudly own an autographed copy of his first book Liberty Girl. Paradox Willow was his idea originally and I am gleefully stealing her for this. Paradox Phoebe is my own, but I am sure he would have come up with it too.

Faction Paradox

The Doctor Who novels and audio plays featuring the 8th Doctor introduced a new enemy to the Doctors rogues gallery, Faction Paradox. This voodoo cult/criminal organization delights in causing temporal paradoxes, including replacing people with their alternates or who they could have been born as. A person and their alternate are completely different people, they can look different and act different but are not an evil twin. Genetically they are siblings. For this reason I call them Paradox Siblings.

Using Paradox Siblings in Your Game

Paradox Siblings, even if you never use Faction Paradox, can bring an interesting twist to a game. They are not evil twins, nor are they alternate universe versions of the character. They are this universes version, different at the moment of conception. They are different yes, but not alternates (say from The Wish or Centennial Charmed). Thus the paradox.

They can be used to cause confusion, erase someone from history, or even supplant someone with nefarious means. Think of the ultimate version of The Manchurian Candidate or the situation Spock faced in Yesteryear from the Star Trek Animated Series. This is especially useful when you need a character replaced for a brief period of time (say due to the absence of a player) or removing someone when killing them outright will not serve the purpose (as with Willow and Phoebe in Semi-Charmed Life). Paradox siblings are also useful if someone needed something that only a particular genetic code or family line good provide. Cant get the hero to give up her blood and she has no living relatives? No problem, yank one out of time and you are good to go.

Ok, so you have you nice new Paradox sibling, what do you do with her? You can go one of two ways. First, everyone but the Paradox Sibling remembers things are they were (are) and can go about their business, the Paradox Sibling remembers something completely different and is the confused one. This the method used by Robert Black in his Sisters of Paradox. The other characters except for the original sibling have vague memories that are the same as the Paradox Sibling. This can be their clue as to what is going on. Directors could apply a Perception Test (maybe Perception + Willpower) to determine what is going on. Characters with Eidetic or Photographic Memory would have two complete and conflicting set of memories. Directors might have them go into some sort of psychogenic fugue state for dramatic purposes.

Another possibility (and I think the more fun one!) is to have the Paradox Sibling replace the original sibling/character and everyone thinks they are the normal one (with altered memories) and the original one is the one that is the outsider. In Semi-Charmed Life it was Tara that finally discovered the difference when Paradox Willow was revealed to be straight.

Paradox Willow and Paradox Phoebe
Canon note: Screw canon. These characters all came from my alternate 8th Season (Season 1 of Willow and Tara the Series: Season of the Witch) adventure Semi-Charmed Life which is as you can guess a Charmed-crossover.

Synopsis: DHoffryn goes to Kira the Seer to gain knowledge on how to become the next Source. Kira tells him the only way to do it is to neutralize the Charmed Ones. Adding to his complications Willow and Tara are visiting San Francisco and are looking forward to meeting the Charmed Ones (Leo and Tara know each other). Knowing he cant out right kill them, he manipulates time to remove one of the Charmed Ones and one of the anamchara witches from history. With the girls connections to their powers lost DHoffryn claims his prize.

First off, why Willow and Phoebe? Easy, both have something in common other than being witches. Both were originally played by different actresses in their respective shows pilots. Willow was originally played by Riff Regan and Phoebe by Lori Rom. For their Paradox versions I have used these actresses and removed their spellcasting ability. That was the key in breaking the characters powers. Willow and Tara are stronger together than separate, unless of course Willow doesnt have magic or love for Tara. The Charmed Ones are much more powerful together, and in Something Wicca this Way Comes it is Phoebe that discovers their magical heritage. Remove those elements and we have some seriously de-powered witches. In the Charmed universe rules if Phoebe had been killed, then Paradox Phoebe could have claimed her powers (again in Centennial Charmed Paige did something similar), which would not have removed the problem only displaced it and pissed off the Charmed Ones in the process (a mistake the former Source had made, only once). So for a temporal demon like DHoffryn, removing someone from a time stream and replacing them with a Paradox Sibling is easy, wellmuch easier than killing them.

Paradox Willow

This is the Original Willow. Thats right, this is the Willow (the girl with brown curly hair) that happened first, but the world was changed to allow the other Willow (the one with straight red hair and likes girls) to exist. So in a way the Willow we all know is really Paradox Willow. But for the sake of argument lets continue calling this girl Paradox Willow.

Use Willows stats from Season 5. Drop the magic completely, Paradox Willow has no magical ability. Increase her Art and Computers and give her the Artist Quality. Paradox Willow is a very fine hacker but an even better Jazz singer. She plays and sings in Ozs band and dated Jonathan before he was killed by Cordelia the Vampire. She looks a lot like her mother's sister Esther. Paradox Willow is played by Riff Regan.

Willow Rosenberg

Character Type: Mundane Human White Hat (with lots of experience)
Life Points: 30
Drama Points: 5

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 2
Constitution 3
Intelligence 6
Perception 3
Willpower 5

Qualities
Artist (Singer and Keyboards)
Nerd

Drawbacks
Adversary (Assorted, Vampire Cordy and wicked Witch Amy in particular) (4)
Love-Tragic (Jonathan)
Minority (Jewish)

Skills
Acrobatics 3
Art 5
Computers 7
Crime 1
Doctor 2
Driving 0
Kung Fu 3
Getting Medieval 1
Gun Fu 0
Knowledge 6
Languages 4
Mr. Fix-It 4
Notice 4
Influence 2
Occultism 4
Science 6
Sports 0
Wild Card 0

Combat
Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge 5 None Defensive Move
Punch 4 4
Stake 3 4

Paradox Phoebe
This is a true Paradox. Phoebe was never supposed to be born in the first place. All of Patty's doctors told her she would never have children again. In fact she was having marriage troubles with Victor (played James Read) and he was not really around enough to conceive another child (he did of course; make-up sex maybe after one of their fights). How was this change brought about? In this case the change came with not replacing Phoebe but replacing her father at the right moment. A Paradox Victor was created (played by Tony Denison) to conceive Paradox Phoebe. This Phoebe had no magic from her mother (thus paving the way for Pru, Piper and Paige to be the Charmed Ones, except Pru was killed before Paige was found).

Paradox Phoebe was then not a witch and was more dedicated to her career in New York. She is more financially secure and mature and thus consider herself to be the serious sister (a role Pru played in the normal continuity). She frequently distanced herself from her mother and sisters, preferring to live with her father. She even went as far as to use her fathers name instead of her mothers like her other sisters. Phoebe Bennett is now a successful writer for a fashion magazine. She continued the martial arts training she had in high school, but only to stay in shape.

Paradox Phoebe is played by Lori Rom and her father Paradox Victor is played by Tony Denison. (as opposed to Allysa Milano and James Read)

Phoebe Bennett

Character Type: Mundane Human
Life Points: 30
Drama Points: 5

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 4
Constitution 3
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 2

Qualities
Attractiveness +2
Resources 5

Drawbacks
Addiction (Mild) Smoking
Covetous (Mild) Greed

Skills
Acrobatics 3
Art 1
Computers 1
Crime 0
Doctor 0
Driving 2
Getting Medieval 0
Gun Fu 0
Influence 4
Knowledge 2
Kung Fu 4
Languages 0
Mr. Fix-It 0
Notice 2
Occultism 0
Science 1
Sports 0
Wild Card (Fashion) 4

Combat
Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge 9 None Defensive Move
Punch 8 4

Links
Faction Paradox.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faction_Paradox

Sisters of Paradox by Robert Black. A great Buffy Season 4 story featuring the return of Sarah Jane Smith! Sarah Jane, K-9 and Anthony Head together would not happen for real till School Reunion in 2006.
Way to go Bob!
www.altfic.com/subtextfic/buffy/robertblack/sistersofparadox1_3.htm

Andrew Peregrine's Charmed RPG (where I based my stats on Phoebe Bennett)
www.peregrine.madasafish.com/charmedrpg/sphoebe.htm

Something Wicca This Way Comes the Charmed Pilot that was re-done after Lori Rom left the show.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Something_Wicca_This_Way_Comes

Welcome to Sunnydale Unaired Buffy Pilot that was re-done after Riff Regan was replaced by Allyson Hannigan.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unaired_Buffy_pilot
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