Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Swords & Wizardry

It has been a GREAT time on TV for witches!  We have Charmed, another Vampire Diaries spin-off, Constantine has joined the Legends of Tomorrow and we got a Salem episode Monday night.

The big star of this Halloween season is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Anyone expecting the old ABC Sabrina the Teenage Witch is going to be in for a surprise. This is an honest-to-Satan hit and sometimes creepy as hell.  The cast is amazing with stand out performances by Kiernan Brenna Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, Lucy Davis ("Etta Candy" from WW) as Hilda Spellman, Miranda Otto (Éowyn) as Zelda Spellman and the true, true treat Michelle Gomez as Mary Wardwell / Madam Satan.  We also get Richard Coyle as Father Faustus Blackwood who is better known (by me anyway) as Jeff from Coupling and the originator of the Giggle Loop.

You can read more about the show over at Tim Knight's fantastic blog, Hero Press.

Going into this show with the Melissa Joan Hart series and the classic comic in mind I thought she would make a perfect Swords & Wizardry White Witch.  But...well I won't spoil the show for you, but Sabrina as a White Witch...well it doesn't really fit. 

This is, however, a great chance for me to bring up a topic.  How can I use a Basic Witch with a Swords & Wizardry Witch?

Say my player, let's call her Kiernan (she's a cousin on her mother's side)  REALLY wants to play a  Diabolic Witch from my Witch book, but I am running a Swords & Wizardry White Box game.

The answer is simple, use all the rules and tables from the White Box and the Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box, but grab the Diabolic tradition from the Basic book.  I have made all the of Experience tables the same and the witches all get Occult Powers at the same levels.  I will also grab some spells from both books to flesh her out more.  Now Kiernan is happy playing the character she wants and I am running the same I want.

Halloween is Sabrina's 16th birthday.  She has not had formal witch training but has had extensive training by her aunts at home.  We see cast glamour, remove curse (or dispel magic) and maybe Vanquish.  But I am going to say she is still pretty low level.  1 or 2 tops.

Sabrina Spellman

2nd level Human Female Witch,
Malefic Witch Tradition (using White Witch rules)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 15 (+1)
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 17 (+2)

HP: 8
Alignment: Neutral (Good Tendencies)
AC: 9 [10]
Saves Base: 14

Occult Powers
Familiar: Salem (Cat)

Cantrips: (5) Arcane Mark, Black Flame, Call Bats, Toads, or Spiders, Ghost Sounds, Summon a Witch (Ritual)
First: (2) Glamour (from Basic Witch), Mind Obscure (as a Ritual)

So mixing these works well.  I had to fudge a bit to get the Mind Obscure spell.  But I figure that was a ritual she learned from her aunts to protect herself.

Happy Halloween!
You can also check out Justin Isaac's version of Sabrina for Dark Places and Demogorgons on his site,
And my Unisystem version for modern times and an older Sabrina at Sabrina, the Middle-Aged Witch.
Thanks again to Tim Knight at Hero Press for sharing the word.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Save Versus All Wands: Witches in Early D&D

+Oakes Spalding has a great post over on his blog about Witches.
Save Versus All Wands: Witches in Early D&D

It is worth checking out and is the kind of analysis I do on my own but should really post more often because it is interesting. 

The post, like most of what Oakes does, is OD&D focused. So don't expect a lot about Dragon #43 or Dragon #114.

Still it's a good analysis and post and I enjoyed it.

This comes from his research while working on SEVEN VOYAGES of ZYLARTHEN.
The game is a "cleaned up" version of OD&D or a clone.
You could use his witch along with my own Swords & Wizardry witches in particular my "White Box" witches and ones directly influenced by OD&D such as Eldritch Witchery.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year! Tell What You Have/Do/Make!

So I started this posting on Facebook today and it is really taking off.

So I want to continue it here.

I know so many wickedly talented and smart people. A lot of them read this blog.

So in the comments below and/or on Google+ please share what you are doing, making, selling or otherwise want people to know about. Share.  When I get back from my meetings today I'll also share some, but don't wait on me. Toot your own horn!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Much Maligned"? I don't think so.

So I got this email from RPG.Net the other day and there is a section near the bottom.
Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition has been much maligned in RPG circles (including by yr. humble editor, to be fair), but the game does have its undeniable good points. For some positive discussion of the latest edition of the grandaddy of RPGs, check out "Why 5e Is Good."
Much Maligned?  By who? Where? is blocked at work, so I can't get into the thread itself.
I know there is a certain segment of the RPG population who disliked D&D5 based on (what it seems to me) the involvement of +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGPundit) and +Zak Sabbath and wished it would fail.  Well, that never happened and now almost 2 more years in I notice some of those (vocal) one are now playing 5e.

Then there are also these articles.  Not exhaustive, or even 100% representative but they do make a point.   Read them, but for the purposes of this illustration, the titles will suffice.

I could go on but hardly needed.

No I think this is much, much more a reflection of the point of view of the editor of this newsletter, "Iustum". (I admittedly have no idea who that is.) Also trying to push a particular narrative. lately has been more a place of cliques and overly draconian rules on what can and cannot be posted.  Granted that is their right. They pay the bills they can say what they want there and control what others say.  But that doesn't really make it true.  

Sorry but D&D5 is not much maligned. Not even by die hard Grognards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What are RPGs Worth?

Been a lot of talk about this on the old internet lately. /posts/4ScbaXYPFnv (edited to add)

Some advocating more expensive books and/or better pay for the work they do.  Others saying let the market decide what something needs to be charged and/or paid.

I guess to me the issue is really what is an RPG worth to me.

I am very fortunate. I get to write RPGs, the stuff I want and I get to be choosy about it.  I have a day job that I am really good at and pays me well.  I can afford to buy the things I want and even get the occasional luxury item.  So my personal calculus for what I will pay is different than yours or someone doing much better than me.

The questions are "What should RPGs cost?" and "What are RPGs worth?".  The logical extension of these questions are what should a professional game designer be paid?

These are two VERY different questions.

Let's look at the breakdown of price (money), cost (money and time among other things) and value or worth.

I bought the AD&D 1st edition hardcovers back in the 1980s.  Money was tight for me then. Even a $15 or $20 book represented a significant number of hours of me working at the time.  So their value started out as higher than their price might indicate.  The worth of those books to me is incalculable. Not just the time I spent with friends playing, or reading them over and over, but the things I do now with my own kids.

I bought the 3rd Edition hardcovers when they first came out.  I keep the receipts as bookmarks so I know when I got them and how much I paid;  9/11/2000 (interesting date) and I spent $18.00 plus tax (in Cook County Ill that is about 9%).  These books cost far more to produce. The cost was a bout the same to me, but the amount of work this total represented 20 years later to buy them was far less.  Also, their worth to me is still great since this was the system I taught my kids how to play.

So value and worth is not something I can easily quantify.  Does Skip Williams deserve to be paid more or less than Gary Gygax did?

I have had the pleasure to work on some truly wonderful games.  I spent hundreds of hours doing research for Ghosts of Albion. Not just on the primary material, but on the Victorian time, names, economics, how long it took to load a gun, world leaders, countries, disputes. Hell I spent an entire day doing nothing but looking up the most popular names of 1838 and 1839!  Should it have been more expensive to make than say Army of Darkness? A game with the same rule system?

I am going to say no.

Why?  Well lots of reasons really. Army of Darkness, the movie, is more popular than the Ghosts of Albion books. There is a certain gamer-cool vibe to Army of Darkness too.  Plus Victorian games, as popular as they are, are still a small niche inside the RPG community.
I spent that time in research because it was what I chose to do. I wanted to give you a better game.  I wanted to give you the best Victorian game I make and the best Cinematic Unisystem game I could make.  In both cases I feel like I did my best.  Hey it's 8+ years since publication and I still get people telling me how much they love Ghosts.

To someone else the value of Ghosts vs. Army is the same.  The cost certainly is for the consumer.  I am privy to many of the behind the scenes costs for both books, so I am not going to get into the issue of which one was more expensive to make.

I also spent hundreds of hours working on The Witch. The typing, the layout and the research alone goes back decades. I also bought a bunch of art for it and bought advertising on my own dime. I sell it for $5.00.  I bet I could have charged $10, but 5 felt better to me.  If I were to be paid let's say minimum wage on the work I did, well...I'd likely never see that money based on sales alone.

But that is not why I do it.

There is a quote that is often attributed to Kevin Siembieda's ex-wife Maryann, "If you want to make a small fortune in the gaming industry you need to start with a large fortune and work your way down."

There is a sad truth in that.

I am not saying we couldn't or even shouldn't pay game designers more.
But they will be paid what the market allows for.

There is a price that a book will sell at, but my knowledge of micro- and macro-economics is not MBA level so I have no idea what that is.  We have thousands of games, hundreds of professional and amateur designers out there, and unfettered access to all.  This new golden age of access to RPGs has a price.

We just don't know what that price should be.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Witch Game

Jonathan Becker of the excellent B/X Blackrazor posted this to my Class Struggles post yesterday:

Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

Reading this post and your earlier ones, I'm struck by the idea that the "witch" (which I've written several times myself) may need to be something setting-specific, rather than an archetypal class. So much of the witch...and version (folkloric, historical, literary) intimately tied to its particular setting, mainly with regard to culture. Sure, they do magic...but that magic varies from source to source (I know you're an expert on the subject, so you can draw references from tons of sources). Real witchcraft is extremely personal to its practitioners, and in a way that parallels the media depiction of witches: each filmmaker or TV producer or book writer has their own personal interpretation of the abilities of a witch. There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society. They are close-knit (have shared ties) with each other. They're feared and often persecuted (or shunned if too powerful...see Baba Yaga). Even so, they can be helpful to non-witches. They seem to have an appreciation for the natural world, especially animals and plants. Their "natural world" also includes forces that mundane folks see as "supernatural" (whether you're talking about spirits, sympathetic magic, or whatever).

The default setting of most editions of D&D don't really leave room for this culture of the witch. People don't shun and persecute magic-users. Magic-users are prone to secrecy and isolation in order both to guard their power and to prevent every Tom, Dick, and Jenny from banging on their door asking for help with some quest or village plight. The evil ones go crazy and live in dungeons and command legions of orcs and monsters. The helpful ones are out on adventures, fattening their purses, getting in knife fights, and acting as magical artillery. I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

Jonathan knows his stuff. He also did a very excellent witch in his Complete B/X Adventurer. He makes a lot of excellent points.

Let me dive in, in detail.
>>Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

I am currently in one now and have played some in the past. In general the witch is less powerful than a same-level wizard, but has some advantages the wizard doesn't have, such as healing.

>>There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

Oh yes. That is part of the problem, and part of the fun.  I  could find some similar differences in say a thief. Like Robin Hood vs. The Grey Mouser vs. The Stainless Steel Rat and others.  D&D only models a particular type of reality.  I have often said I'd kill to do a Harry Potter game, but damn if I know how I would build Hogwarts in D&D yet.

>>The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society.

There is a ton of good in these two sentences. It also concurs with things I have said in the past, repeating what Tom Moldvay has also said.   One thing to consider is that one man's cleric is another man's cultist.  So often a "witch" really could just be a wizard, cleric or some off-the-wall druid.
It really does give weight to the idea of a "magic-user" class.

>>I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

Which I think is why the witch has traditionally been an NPC class.

>>To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

For me though I think this can be handled in right role-playing environment.
Pathfinder does a good job makeing their witch very different from their wizard.  D&D4 had a different take on their witch, but it was still fun.  In both cases there is a lot of "background" to help seperate them from the other spell casters.  I tried to do this with the Traditions.

I see your point that the differences between a witch and wizard are largely cosmetic (my words) or cultural (your words); but even the "wizard" as an archetype has a lot of variety. I mean is Hermoinie a D&D wizard or witch? She is called a "Witch" but her magic seems more "Wizard" to me.

Heck. In some ways your B/X Witch is more "witchy" than mine!

In any case I like that these points are made.  
I do like the idea of a specific campaign setting that supports a witch.  I suppose in many ways that is my "default" game setting.  But "my D&D" tends to have healthy doses of horror in it as well, so the witch, potentially a person that deals with these elements from beyond, is more of an outsider.

But you have given me some material to consider and I appreciate that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

RFI Podcast

You can hear me today as well as read me.

The Roll For Initiative Podcast I was a guest on is up now.

If you are interested in the Victorian Gamers Association I mentioned on this the link is here:

Thanks to +Vincent Florio and +Erik Tenkar for a great time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

Busy weekend!

Started off by guest posting over at Angry Hamster Publishing, home of the fantastic new game WITCH: Fated Souls.   I posted my top 5 witches.  Have some you like? Post them there!

I also played a LOT of Pathfinder Deluxe Munchkin this weekend.  Didn't win a single game, but I still enjoyed it.

Sunday I was part of the next Roll For Initiative podcast.

I hung out with +Vincent Florio and +Erik Tenkar of the eponymous Tavern while we talked about social media, blogs and boards, Pay to Play DMs and Kickstarters.  I'll post a link when that is live.

In other news the proofs of "The Sisters of the Aquarian Order" are on the way.  That should be going live soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Greatest Pen and Paper RPGs

I know it's silly, not at all accurate, not really an indication of anything really.
But it is fun.

Rank your favorite RPG!

The Greatest Pen and Paper RPGs

Vote for your favorites. Add something that isn't on the list.
Oh and if possible, spare a vote for Ghosts of Albion! ;) Thanks.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A to Z sign up is Live

The sign up for the 7th annual April A to Z blog challenge is now live.

I am participating again this year.  Last year was a challenge for me to be honest.  But I hope I am better organized this year.  I already have an idea for my posts, I just need to check my Y and Z posts.

I do encourage others in our little corner of the internet to participate.  It not only helps grow your readership and blog, it also helps grow our hobby.  I won't lie, sales of my books go up in April.  People read what I have and they get curious.  My book plus Labyrinth Lord or my book plus Basic Fantasy is enough to get a newbie going for under the price of going to the movies.

Think about and join me if you can.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reading Challenges

I am going to participate in a few reading challenges again this year.

Once again I am participating in The Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge at Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf.

2016 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge

I doubt I will do as well as I did last year, but I am going to give it a try.

Also I "read" a lot of audio-books.  So this year I am also going to participate in the Book Nympho's 2016 Audiobook Challenge.  This one I expect I will do well on.  I have to commute everyday to work so I have lots of time in the car.

I have already started on both.

Another one I would like to do is the 2016 Victorian Reading Challenge.  But I don't currently have anything in my TBR piles that qualifies.  Except for games really.

Belle's Library

Still.  I enjoy these and it is a fun way to talk about something I was going to do anyway.

ETA: A few more.

2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge

Retellings Reading Challenge 2016

2016 EBook Reading Challenge

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

2016 Horror Reading Challenge

New to You 2016

New To You Square

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

D&D 5th Edition SRD and OGL. Oh..and you can now write for the Forgotten Realms too.

Well no one suspected THIS I can tell you that.

Wizards of the Coast released the D&D 5th edition SRD along with the OGL 1.1 today.

They have also opened up something they call The Dungeon Master's Guild.

You can now release material under the OGL for 5e using the SRD.  OR if you want to say, write Forgotten Realms material, then you can do that too.

The SRD is nearly 400 pages of D&D 5th ed rules.

If you are a publisher and have something ready to go, you might want to consider your D&D5 options now.

So I have to ask.  Anyone interested in a 5e version of The Witch?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: The B/X Rogue

I love new B/X classes. If I have demonstrated nothing else here it is that.  So when +Gavin Norman of the excellent City of Iron blog and Necrotic Gnome Productions came out with a new B/X class, well I had to get it.
Gavin has already given us some great classes in his Theorems & Thaumaturgy and The Complete Vivimancer. Now he takes on the thief archetype in The B/X Rogue.

I say archetype because what this book tries (and succeeds, but more on that in a bit) to do is create a Rogue class that encompasses all of the various "sub-classes" we have seen on the thief over the years.  How he does it is both very elegant and very, very basic, if not Basic.

Like the thief the rogue has a number of talents at his/her disposal.  Instead of a percentile (or d20) roll the rogue is assumed to be fully proficient in their talent.  The differences lie in the choice of talents and some of the talents themselves.  The example given is the iconic Remove Traps.  If a rogue has this at 1st level then they can remove or disable a trap 100% of the time.  However the types of traps are now changed.  The rogue can only disable small mechanical traps. Not huge pits in the floor.

The rogue class begins with 4 talents. This increases by 1 per level.  Some talents have prerequisites and can only be taken at 5th level (Expert Talents, love the split of Basic and Expert Talents here).  Outside of that the class it remarkably like the B/X thief.  

The bulk of the book describe the 36 talents a rogue might take.  This allows for near infinite (or close enough for the amount of character sheets I'll print out) rogue types.  There are even magical talents for the Bards and Arcane Tricksters out there. Of course I immediately went to the magic section and quickly figured out an Occult Scholar, a rogue that raids tombs and libraries for bits of arcane knowledge and some spells to help them out. Won't help you when you need an orc killed, unless he has a scroll for it.

There is also a very useful table to help you with your archetypes.  Want an assassin? Great, take back-stab, hide, garotte, move quietly at 1st level.  There are 10 of these, so a d10 will also get you up and going fast.  Don't want a magic-one? Easy. Roll a d8 instead.

The PDF itself is 26 pages; a front cover, a back cover and two page OGL, all for a $1.50.  Not a bad deal at all really, especially when consider how flexible this class is now.

If you are a fan of the theif class, B/X or Gavin's other classes then this is a must buy.

Plays Well With Others
With the options of adding magic to the Rogue to come up with other classes (Bards, Dabbler's and Arcane Tricksters) you can add other powers to make even more classes.

Grab +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook and use some of the wild talents for rogue talents to create a Psychic Dabbler or a Charlantan with some actual clairvoyance.

Take the Arcanve Dabbler and replace the magic-user spell at 1st level with a witch spell and then a minor or least occult power at 5th level and now you have a Hedge Witch.

I could go on and on, but for cheaper than a 20 oz Mt. Dew at the gas station you can have this book and make up your own!

I can see this replacing the theif in my B/X games easily.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mythic Russia

There are tons and tons of great mythic stories in the world.  One of the ones I have always found to be interesting, though I know very little about them, are the Russian myths and fairy tales.  In particular Baba Yaga and Koschei the Immortal.  I found these pictures online from Amok Amokov.

These pictures really capture what I think the Russian fairy tales should look like, or at least how they should be in my world.

Baba Yaga

Vasilisa the Beautiful

Vasilisa the Wise

Koschei the Immortal

Ilya Muromets

Alyonushka and Ivanushka
Elena the Fair
I certainly like this version of Elena the Fair, certainly worthy of the title Queen of Summer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Diigo upgrade - Come join me!

I upgraded my Diigo account.  The "OSR Blogs" social bookmarking tool is now public.

Anyone can now add their own blog to the list.

If you want to add this code to your own website, just copy and paste.

<script type="text/javascript" src="'s%20best%20content&tags=&token=" ></script><noscript><a href="" >Group OSR-Blogs-Groups-and-sites's best content</a></noscript>

The red highlights are values you can change.

Join me and help increase this list.
I am also going to add more features as the week goes on.

Let me know what you think!

Edited to add: Adding another group to my "Witch Links" page.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Organizing via Diigo

Doing some research for my day job and I came across Diigo.  It's a social bookmarking site that allows users to bookmark and share websites, pages, articles and so on.  There is more to it than that, but I am just getting going on it.

I thought it might be fun to create a group where we could all share various OSR and RPG blogs and sites.  There is very little RPG on Diigo so far (at least what I could find) so this would be helpful.

To that end I created a group and I am inviting everyone to join and link your sites or site you like.

Right now there is only me.
I am on a free account but I am likely to upgrade to a full professional account if this works half as nice as I hope.  Once I do that then the group will have some more features.

I have added some blogs. Mostly those from my own blogroll starting from the bottom up, but I would love it if you all added your own and commented on the ones added.  Just keep it nice, we are community here.

You can even add this to your own blog or website.

<script type="text/javascript" src="'s%20best%20content&tags=&token=03f4ad7c34cfe7a31674868e9a7499eb" ></script><noscript><a href="" >Group OSR-Blogs-Groups-and-sites's best content</a></noscript>

I know we have sites out there that list all of these blogs, but this is something we can all contribute to and help maintain.
Plus it is kind of fun.

Edited to add: I just discovered I can "auto-post" from Diigo to here. So as we add things an automated posting can go out say every Sunday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Social Contract Thing (again)

So. Yeah that DriveThruRPG/OneBookShelf / Tournament of Rapists thing happened.

I am not going to bore with the details, others have had more to say on it. But I do want to talk about the fallout.

Over the weekend and into this week I have seen some exceptionally bad and unprofessional behavior coming from all sides of this issue.  All sides.  And from people I expected better from, and sadly from people that played the part I totally expected them to play.

The result of this is now OneBookShelf will have a system of some sort for people to "report" on suspected witches communists offensive material.   So far it sounds like a button of some sort.  No idea if the person reporting the material actually has to read it first.

Personally I can't change any of that.  But here is what I will do.  Again this is a social contract thing, I expect to do X, Y and Z in return for certain expected behaviors A, B, and C.

1. Under no circumstances will I ever use this system of reporting material to DriveThruRPG. Never.  If I have a problem with your product I will email you.

2. I will not blast a product I have not read on social media or this blog.  If I talk about a product here it is usually because a. I like it or b. have read it or plan too.  If I hate something and I talk about it here then be assured I have read it and reread it to make sure my impressions of it are sound.  I then invite debate.  You are free to use your social media or my blog here to tell me why I am wrong.

3. I will not go to social media and rally support to blast/flag a product.  I have seen this from a number of industry professionals and frankly they should be ashamed.  Again, if I have an issue with your product enough to do something about it, expect an email.  

This is what I see as being the biggest issue with the new system.  It is far too easy for a publisher to leverage their social media weight to get fans to tag or report a product that either they personally don't like OR because it is competition.

These are my expectations.  Granted I am under no illusions that people will abide by them, but at least I am putting these up here for those that might.

1. If something of mine is offensive you will email me first.  simple right?  No anonymous slack-tivism, no clicking on a button.  If you don't like something I have done then please have the courage of your convictions to tell me.  Don't want to confront me for some reason?  Fine. Have a friend email me on your behalf.

Simple right?  I promise to do three things, you promise to do one.

There is no reason why we can not act like professionals and adults here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

RPG a Day, James’ Appendix

+James Mishler also added some questions.

1. Best non-RPG property to licensed RPG you’ve ever played
Easy. Ghosts of Albion.

2. Best RPG you’ve ever read but never played
Keltia from Cubicle 7.  It looks amazing.

3. RPG core rulebook you would take with you on a desert island
Only one?  The D&D Rules Cyclopedia. One book, endless possibilities.
That or the WitchCraftRPG.

4. Favorite RPG vaporware.
I hate to throw another designer under the bus, so I won't mention the one I am thinking of.
So I will go historic.  I would have to say the B/X Companion from TSR.  There was a BECMI Companion and a couple of other B/X Companions, but the TSR one is the one I wanted back in the day.

5. Best houserule that ended up with the worst results
Using a d30 for anything.  I know they are fun looking, but damn a flat 1 to 30 range is nearly useless for most games.

6. Worst kerfluffle that ever ended an otherwise good, ongoing campaign
The biggest campaign killers for me have been time to meet.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Witches of the Witches' Nest

I get a lot of spam from people telling me about "real magic" and people that can cast spells for me.

Since I have been working on a group of evil/non-good witches I figured make the best of the resources handed to me. These characters have pretty much begged themselves into existence.

The names come from these posts:
And the idea of the Witches' Nest from this post:
They are going to be part of my "War of the Witch Queens" adventure path/campagin.
I haven't quite decided on the rule system, so here is a stab at using most of them.

Now I am generally very fond of all the other "OSR" witches, so I would like to present each one below in the most positive light possible. Designing the characters to take advantage of each of the class features in turn.
In each case their prime ability for being a witch or spellcasting is indicated with an asterisk*.

The Witches' Nest

The Witches' Nest, or more simply, The Nest, is a collection evil witches that operate outside of normal lawful society.
They are not above a little thieving of arcane literature, but mostly they will pass off others ideas as their own.  They are con artists, but each one it a powerful witch it their own right.  Their leader is a self-styled "doctor" Logan Zabaza.  Ozigididon is his second in command and in charge of "spiritual" aspects of their cult.    Each witch comes from a different tradition, but all serve the same goals and patron; they are all followers of Mammon.
A typical ruse will be to offer the party help, say magical or healing, to determine what they have and then steal anything that they can.  The prefer magical books over magic items, and magical items over gold. They will still steal gold if that is all that the party has.

Dr. Logan Zabaza
Male Witch, Malefic Tradition 13th level (The Witch)
Logan Zabaza is the defacto leader of the Nest only because he keeps the others in line with fear and intimidation.  He appears as a middle aged man with long black hair and olive complexion.  He prides himself on his looks and always dresses in the highest fashion for the occasion.  He carries a cane that contains his boline knife. He also uses this cane as his focusing implement.

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 15*

Hit Points: 30
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level:  Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue

Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Palm
First: Cause Fear, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal , Sleep
Second: Agony, Blast Shield, Death Armor, Evil Eye
Third: Feral Spirit,Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Tongues
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Very goodPhantom Lacerations
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Death Blade, Mass Agony
Seventh:  Wave of Mutilation

High Priestess Ozigididon
Female Witch, Gypsy Tradition, 13th level (Spellcraft & Swordplay: Eldritch Witchery)
Chaotic Evil
Ozigididon was a gypsy priestess until she threw in with Zabaza.  She had been thrown out of her own family due to the darker aspects of magic she prefered and is now making an living as the "spiritual leader" of the Nest.

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 15*
Charisma: 11

Hit Points:  35
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 (Ring of Protection +1)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Ancestral Spirit (follower of Mammon)
7th level: Prophesy
13th level: Evil Eye

First: Bless Growth, Charm Person, Light, Minor Curse, Read Magic, Silver Tongue, Spirit Dart
Second: Augury, Detect Invisible, Discord, Knock, Levitate, Magic Broom
Third: Bestow Curse, Bewitch III, Liar's Curse, Mind Rash, Slow, Wizard Lock
Fourth: Cloudburst, Elemental Armor, Instant Karma, Masque
Fifth: Break Enchantment, Death Curse, Endless Sleep
Coven: Death Blade, Greater Scry

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment

Female Witch 11th level, Chthonic Tradition (ACKS Players Companion, +Alexander Macris & +Tavis Allison)
Template: Dark Oracle

Drodinaka is a young, attractive woman with long blond hair.  She and Drodu pretend to be sisters since they have similar features.  She often pretends she is an acolyte of some benevolent but unnamed faith.  She often acts as Ozigididon's second in command.

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 15*
Charisma: 12*

Hit Points:  28
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection AC 4)
Attack: 7+

Proficiencies: Seduction, Black Lore of Zahar, Prophecy, Performance (Storytelling)

1st level: Divine spellcasting
3rd level: Brew Potions
5th level: Magic Aura proficiency, Spell research
7th level: Charm Person (1/day), Scribe scrolls
9th level: Create magic items
11th level: craft magical constructs

First: Detect Undead, Cause fear, cure light wounds, detect magic, light, protection from good, read languages
Second: Spiritual Weapon, augury, bane, choking grip, enthrall, hold person, sleep
Third: Necromantic potence, Alter self, Bestow curse, cause disease, charm person, ESP, Mirror Image
Fourth: animate dead, clairvoyance, chimerical force, dispel magic, fly, nondetection
Fifth: command person, magic carpet, polymorph other, scry, true seeing

Magic Items
Ring of Protection AC 4, Dagger +1

Drogu Dudu
Female Warlock 9th level (Death Lady) (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea+Jeff Talanian)
Chaotic Evil
Drogu is a little older than her "sister" Drodinaka, but like her she is attractive and has long blonde hair. She dresses the part of a warrior woman from the north but is in reality a stone cold spellcasting killer.  Drogu is the Nest's muscle.

Race: Hyperborean
Secondary Skill: Hunter

Strength: 13*
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 12**
Charisma: 11

Casting Ability: 9
Fighting Ability: 9+1,  Attacks 3/2

Hit Points:  28
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 (leather armor)

1st level: Read Magic,
Mastery: Sword
4th level: Mastery: Morning Star
8th level: Mastery: Crossbow
9th level: Stronghold (2 apprentice warlocks)

First: Black hand, Chill touch, shocking grasp
Second: Danse Macabre, Forest of bones, scythe of the reaper
Third: Exploding skull, infrared vision

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Leather Armor +3, Sword +1/+3 vs. Paladins

Dr.  Ewan Brave
Male Witch 8th level "Secret Keeper" (Complete B/X Adventurer+Jonathan Becker)
"Dr. Ewan Brave" is the newest member of the Nest.  He has been responsible for finding new and valuable occult tomes.  He keeps back the most powerful for himself.

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 16*
Wisdom: 13*
Charisma: 11

Hit Points:  24 (d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

Languages: Common, Elven, Dragon

Special Abilities
1st: Book of Shadows, bind wounds (heal 1d4)
6th: Brew Potions

Maximum Spell Level: 3rd
Number of Spells known: 24
1st Level (6):  Detect Magic, Foretell, Hex, Read Languages, Speak with Animals, Witch Scribe
2nd Level (9): Cause Fear, Disguise, Eldritch Flame, ESP, Familiar Spirit, Hold Person, Levitate, Locate Object, Remove Fear
3rd Level (9):  Bestow Curse, Confusion, Haste, Hoodoo, Object Read, Speak with Dead, Spectral Knowledge, Wizard Lock

Lord Wakaman 
Male Half-orc Witch 7th level/Thief 7th level  (Adventures Dark & DeepThe Witch+Joseph Bloch
Chaotic Evil

"Lord" Wakaman as he is known to most began life living on the streets of the city, a bastard child of an orc thief and an  underage unwed mother.  His cunning and wits kept him alive when other children would have died.

Strength: 12
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 16*
Dexterity: 16 (-1 initiative adj.  -2 to AC)
Constitution: 13
Charisma: (12)

Special Abilities (witch class)
Magic bonus
Spell casting
Create Magic Items
Affect Undead
Bell, Book & Candle
Brew Poison
Call Familiar: Crow
Charisma degradation

Special Abilities (thief class)
Back Stab
Pick Pockets: 55%
Open Locks: 62%
Find and Remove Traps: 55%
Move Silently: 55%
Hide in Shadows: 43%
Listening at Doors: 30%
Climb Walls: 99%
Read Languages: 25%
Thieves' Cant

Special Abilities (race)
Infravision 60'
Languages: Common, Orc, Gnome, Elven

HP: 26
AC: 6 (Bracers)

First: Affect normal fires, charm person or mammal, control face, direct gaze, push, witch shot
Second: Change self, command, fascinate, misfortune, trip
Third: Bestow curse, fear, hand of glory
Fourth: fiery breath, ill luck
Fifth: improved pass without a trace
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