Showing posts with label pathfinder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pathfinder. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Aliens in Dungeons, Wizards and Warriors in the Mean Streets.

Starfinder is the new hotness, but D&D 5 is still going strong.  So it seems natural to have a product that can support both.  So here is one of the first:

Alien Bestiary for Starfinder and 5E RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendarygames/alien-bestiary-for-starfinder-and-5e-rpg

I am sure converting to White Star will be easy.

If Starfinder takes the Pathfinder rules to the far future, Modern Adventures takes it the dark streets.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/highergrounds/modern-adventures-tabletop-rpg

I love modern adventure games and like so many I am not yet ready to retire my 3.x-era rules.

I really like what they have here.  Yes, there are LOTS of OGC/3.x based modern games out there but this one has a neat vibe about it.  There is something in it that feels a little like Kult or Chill.  I can also see you playing a cool Supernatural-like game.  I might even pull out my notes for the long abandoned Anita Blake game I was working on to see it would work there.

Combine these two books and you could have the best kick-ass game of X-files outside of Conspiracy X.

Both look really fun!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Witches are (Still) the New Vampires!

A quick pop into RPGNow this afternoon and I noticed this.


Not too bad really!

You have my Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry.
My Strange Brew: Magic Items for Pathfinder.
And Zenith Games' Paragon Hags.

Great time to pick up a new witch book!

Monday, June 19, 2017

FreeRPG Day Haul

 Really busy weekend.

Free RPG day, Father's Day, grilling, playing D&D.  It was packed.

Here are the books I got at my FLGS.


I am most excited about Runequest. I have not played it in YEARS and have been itching to do so more with it.

My hat is off to +James Raggi.  I admit I have been critical of his products and style over the years.  The truth is his style is not my style. That is not good or bad, just different tastes.
But  ALL that aside, giving out a free HARDCOVER book? Holy shit dude.
Plus his Vaginas Are Magic is actually really, really good.

It galls me, and makes me happy, that he keep proving me wrong by being good.

I might not ever play Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but damn. His production values are through the roof.  He even pulled in +Stacy Dellorfano and +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul to help him on this book.  I trust their opinions and judgment. I am going to have to dig into his book a bit more. Ok. A lot more.

So +James Raggi, it took me a while, but I think I finally "get it".  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: Covencraft

It's Tuesday and that means new releases!

Out today the next book in the Strange Brew series for Pathfinder, Covencraft!


Strange Brew: Covencraft for the Pathfinder RPG

Witches can be--and often are--portrayed and represented as solitary individuals, practicing their craft alone in a cabin (gingerbread or otherwise) in the wilderness or in the scary house on the hill that children avoid. But what if they gathered in groups, forming a coven? What then, would be different about them, and how would those groups look and act? What tools would they craft and use in their rituals?

Strange Brew: Covencraft answers those questions for you, taking you inside covens and detailing how they work and how to integrate them into your character’s story and your campaign. Sample covens are provided, along with discussions of the benefits of a coven, types of covens and roles for characters within them, example ritual tools, ceremonies, and more.

Magic items to follow!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch

"Ellasif was the only witness to her infant sister's first breath. What followed was not a newborn's wail, but merry peals of laughter." 

Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham and Dave Gross.

Gamer Fiction is a bit of an odd thing for me.  I admit I enjoy it and sometimes I find something good. But there is a tinge of guilt that I am "wasting my time" and not reading something better.  I guess this makes it the very definition of "guilty pleasures".

Winter Witch is no different.  Elaine Cunningham has been writing for years and has some notable titles under belt.   It will not be confused with great literature, but it is also not supposed to be. It is a fun little romp through a frozen world with a wizard turned forger and cshieldmaiden looking for her sister.  Ellasif, the aforementioned shieldmaiden is the hero of our tale and the most interesting. She obviously loves her sister Liv, but is also not a little afraid of her.
Her beginning story was very interesting.  I could not help but feel it was nice mix of Slavic, Saxon and Celtic myths all rolled into one. The story then shifts to the tale of a wizard (we later learn) and map maker forger Declan.  Declan was not as interesting to me to be honest though the mystery around him was.  These two unlikely heroes, grim Ellasif and urbane Declan,  set off to find Liv and take her from the clutches of the Witches of Irrisen, maybe even from the clutches of Baba Yaga herself!

The book was a fun, really quick read. Though I will admit there are parts of the ending I was not satisfied with. Unlike some game-related fiction, where you can practically hear the dice rolling in the background, this read much more like a novel.  I read this one soon after a few Forgotten Realm novels so the competing descriptions of some the same spells (for example Fireball) were very interesting.  I guess the question I ask myself is would I read another book by Elaine Cunningham? Yes, absolutely!  Would I read another book with these characters? Maybe, depends on what the book was about.

I was hoping that Feiya would make a cameo, but no such luck really. Maybe the iconics don't appear in books.

This was another Audiobook find and the reader, Daniel Thomas May, did a great job.

Elaine Cunningham can be found on the web here:
https://www.facebook.com/elaine.cunningham
and
http://www.elainecunningham.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 12
Level: Mother
Witches in this book: Many. All of Irrisen, Baba Yaga, Liv and Mareshka.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: All the above. THough mostly they are Bad.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Well. It is a Pathfinder book. Pathfinder is the obvious choice here.
Use in WotWQ: Absolutely!  I can't say for sure what or who will appear, but Irrisen will absolutely feature into the War of the Witch Queens.  Expect to see Baba Yaga there too.


Don't forget. Today is Beltane!
Pick up a copy of the Warlock for Swords & Wizardry.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium

The quickest way to make me interested in something is to tell it is dual stated*.  Such is the case here for Legendary Games' newest Kickstarter.

(*ok, two different books one 5e and the other Pathfinder, but still)

Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium for Pathfinder and 5E
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendarygames/forest-kingdom-campaign-compendium-for-pathfinder


There is something about old forests that scream "adventure" to me.  Hiden fey realms, goblin cities, and creatures that never leave so never seen by the likes of you and me.

Plus there is so much cool stuff in this compendium.
The add-ons make it even better.  Add on their Gothic Campaign Compendium? Hell yes!

There is so much great looking art and material in this I am not sure where to even start.
Just check it out for yourself and then pledge.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Releases: Hedge Witches and Prestige Witches

Today is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Ostara.
To celebrate this time I have not just one, but two new releases today.

First up:

The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG


Presenting the Hedgewitch for The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying game. Can be used with HJ or Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Complete.

Included in these 66 pages are:

  • New Race: The Gnome
  • New Professions
  • The Witch class and Hedge Witch tradition
  • 80 spells new to The Hero's Journey
  • 15 new monsters

Fully compatible with The Witch, Eldritch WitcheryThe Witch for Swords & Wizardry Light and The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.  In fact, all are designed to work together as a complete whole.  Getting these various witches to work together in your is another matter entirely.

A softcover print version is in the process of heading to the printer.  I am just waiting on OneBookShelf on this, they are taking longer than expected.

Also released is the next book in the Strange Brew series for Pathfinder.

Strange Brew: Mystical Paths & Prestige Classes


From the book:

Witches and warlocks come in all shapes, sizes, genders, philosophies, alignments, and focuses. Many of these concepts are expressed through archetypes, but some concepts require a bit ... more ... to fully be expressed.

Here are 23 Prestige Classes for your witch or warlock, allowing them to focus on specific aspects of being a witch or warlock, or a specific type of witch or warlock with more control than an archetype gives you. With them, your witch isn’t "just" a witch, she’s a Tempestarii Storm Raiser, or he isn’t "merely" a witch, but an Occult Scholar.

Help find the true destiny of your witch or warlock!

Also included are some of my favorites, the Imbolc Mage and the Queen of Witches.

Regardless of what game you prefer, I have a class for you.  Time to make some magic!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: The Book of Passion

It's the week of Valentine's Day.  My wife and I have a LONG overdue date night and Misfit Studios has released their latest Kickstarter for OGL 3.75 (D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder I take it).

The Book of Passion, by authors Will Wells and Margherita Tramontano, adds role-playing rules for love and sex to your OGL 3.75 campaign. Long-time game designer/editor/developer, Christina Stiles, will publish the book via Misfit Studios.


To find out more about this project I went to the authors to ask some questions.

Interview with Will Wells and Margherita Tramontano

(Full Disclosure: I work with Misfit Studio on the Strange Brew line of Witch and Warlock books.  Margherita has contributed to my book. This book and Strange Brew share editors Christina Stiles and Robert Hudson in common as well as artists Jacob Blackmon and Peter Bradley.)

Tim: So with tell me who you are and what your other publications of note have been.

Will: Well, I'm an English teacher from Cleveland who has been gaming since 1999 (see next question) and has been creating fan-made rule systems and modifications to the same for basically just as long.  I love to translate what I see in film, books, and video games into tabletop rules (likely from my start with the Fusion system, which did that for Bubblegum Crisis - again, see below).

Most of the time, this sort of thing has just been for my own personal use.  In fact, that's how the Passion Mystery started.  Sometimes I post my system modifications on the Paizo forums for others to use as well (again, as seen with the Passion Mystery).

As for official paid publications, my only current publications are outside the gaming realm - although that is about to change in a big way - Margherita and I have been doing a lot of work for Christina Stiles the past few months.

Also - fun fact - I've been trying to write a bio for the front-matter of some of the aforementioned work, and haven't been able to hit the right tone.  I think I just did here, so if you don't mind, I'm going to steal basically everything I just said for my official bio.

Margherita: Well, I am an Italian Literature teacher and a mum of two boys. I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little child. I published two volumes of poetry and some chapters of my fantasy novel… then I began sending articles to Wayfinder. The Paizo forums put me in contact with so many great persons that also were authors and publishers, so I tried to send something to them too. And here I am, working with people I look up to.
In recent years, I published articles in several issues of Wayfinder, on the Kobold Press blog with a series of options for their shaman class, and in the new version of Green Ronin Publishing’s Advanced Bestiary (Teratocephalos template). I also co–authored four Letters from the Flaming Crab for Flaming Crab Games and created the Esotericist oracle archetype for The Knotty–Works; for Everyman Games, I am the author of Childhood Feats and Mysteries of Passion; and I contributed to The Colossal Creatures Bestiary for Zenith Games with the kaiju Dypthera. For Christina, Will and I co-authored and developed the Talented Adventurers of SpirosBlaak line. This year more projects in which I am involved should see the light!

Tim: I suppose I should ask how you all got into gaming. So. How did you get into gaming?

Will: Back in 1999, I picked up a copy of the Bubblegum Crisis RPG because I was a huge fan of Bubblegum Crisis.  Having bought the book, it only seemed right to try it out.
From there, I jumped into 2nd Ed D&D just before the release of 3rd Ed - and 3rd Ed just made so much more sense to me than THAC0.

Margherita: It was a little tragic. I was involved in a game run by a friend, and since I always was curious about RPG, I accepted (it was a 2E campaign). It did finish well for my character, but much less well for me. I thought it would be an heroic Arthurian fantasy manga campaign, while the master and the other players were all into gothic dark Arthurian fantasy manga gaming. Like so many newbies, I couldn’t keep myself and my character separated, and the game’s flavor caused me a long period of deep depression and anger.
Fortunately, this stimulated me to learn more about the game, to understand whether I was wrong or my master was. I read manuals, tried to translate rules, created my own characters, campaign, game world and novels, and- well, ultimately I fell in love. I began to write my own rules at first just for myself. I found many beautiful netbooks of rules written by gamers (one was the Netbook of Witches and Warlocks, another the Complete Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge!).
I never loved 3E or 3.5E much, however. But one day I found Pathfinder. The rest is history.


Tim: Great.  Now tell me about the Book of Passion.  Who’s idea was this and what are you hoping gamers can get from it?

Margherita: It was in part a coincidence. Will had started a thread on the Paizo forums with his first draft of the Mystery of Passion. I was searching for a way to convert one of my 2E characters to Pathfinder (the same that became my iconic romance oracle in the Book of Passion), and his idea was the nearest thing to her I could found then. So I answered to the thread with some ideas to make the mystery better. Before we knew, we were working together, exchanging ideas for the mystery, then for oracle archetypes tied to the mystery, then for other classes… I don’t remember which one of us had first the idea of making a book, but we liked it more and more. I had already proposed some pieces to Owen K. C. Stephens and Christina, so I thought to try sending some examples to them. And now, after some years of work, the book is nearly ready to become a reality.

Will: For me, it started with the release of Paizo's Advanced Player's Guide.  I loved the Oracle class during the playtest, and was eagerly awaiting the final book to see what interesting options would be released for clerics of Calistria.  I preordered the book and, when it finally arrived, I practically tore it open to get to the Oracle section and - nothing.  No mystery was listed for Calistria.  I was really disappointed - and after a brief snit, I decided that the best way to fix this was to make my own.

Except, of course, that Oracle mysteries are intentionally broad, so I couldn't make one specifically for her - I had to pick an aspect that she represented.  Plus, since I was also a huge fan of the works of Jacqueline Carey (particularly Kushiel's Legacy), I kept Naamah in mind as well.  Sacred prostitution is a shared theme between both goddesses, so that's where I started.

Tim: I am looking forward to that, I have used Naamah myself in other games.  What is one of your favorite features about this book?

Margherita: Among the parts I wrote, I like the Merciful Oracle archetype -the one that my iconic uses- but also the Chasmalim angel, which is the good counterpart of a succubus, and of course my pregnancy and hybridization rules, and the stats of my character. Among the parts Will wrote, maybe the richest of hints, flavor and fantasy are his descriptions of sex-oriented societies. But the Mystery of Passion is the book’s nucleus, the one from which everything else has grown, and we wrote that together!

Tim: What sort of games/stories do you expect that people will use this for?

Will: Any story that features romance, love, or sex.  Many (if not most) published Pathfinder adventures (by any publisher) feature these things, but they were usually on the "plot" side of things with no mechanical elements.  For example, in one adventure I can recall off the top of my head, it is a minor background note that two of the major NPCs are in a lesbian relationship with one another.  Aside from some motivations, however, this has no impact on the character builds.

With the Book of Passion, that could change.  Now, if there are two characters (PC or NPC), they could choose to take "Marriage Feats" - a special kind of teamwork feat that only works between individuals in a romantic relationship (they don't actually have to be married, but if you are choosing feats together, that's pretty significant commitment).

It can be as simple as that - or as complicated as the GM and players like.  During the playtesting for this book, I ran a game that resembled a fantasy romance novel.  There was a lot of political machinations, covert intelligence gathering, and - yes - a lot of seductions and romances.  Characters fell in love, entered into complex relationships (including a particularly complex polyamorous relationship between a married couple, their lover, her other lover, and his fiancee), suffered heartbreak, and in one case got murdered by a botched assassination aimed as the person sitting next to them.  The game was high melodrama and a lot of fun, with the archetypes, feats, and spells from the Book of Passion being a great way to flavor a character.  In fact, two of the three iconic character we present in the Book of Passion are from that game.

On the far end of the spectrum, we also playtested in a grim low-fantasy setting more reminiscent of Game of Thrones with a bit of Berserk (the manga) thrown in than anything like the usual Pathfinder setting.  And there, too, the Book of Passion was highly useful.  While there was far less magic in this game, several of the archetypes proved useful, as did a number of the more sinister monsters from the Book of Passion's Bestiary.

That's the thing - sex and romance are part of most of the stories we tell.  Whether they are the main focus, like in the romance novel game, or they are part of the tragic background, like in the low fantasy game, they're almost always there, somewhere.  Being able to make romance more core to a character, either through an archetype, feat, or spell, allows that oh-so important part of our characters' lives to be represented in their builds.

Margherita: I hope it will not be used to traumatize players or GMs! (Laughs) The book can be used not only to decide if a character gets pregnant or not, it also offers great tips for roleplaying many different situations and relationships in which sex must not necessarily be involved. If someone is just in search of “new positions”, then this is not the book they want.


Tim: It has to be asked, but is this just “Sex in D&D”? (nod to any old-school gamer that remembers that one).

Will: Yes - and no.  We do an update to some of the more common rules for sex presented in several different 3rd and 3.5 books, but that is literally the first half of the first chapter.  Sex has been part of D&D for a while now, and Pathfinder in particular has embraced that to a much greater degree than previous versions of the game.  However, while sex is a present and important aspect of the game, there is little a player can do to use sex meaningfully as part of their character.

That's where a lot of our work in this book comes in.  By far the largest chapter is a series of archetypes and class features for every class from Core, APG, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, and Advanced Class - all of which have to do with sex or romance in some way.  These features aren't just about flavor - they're about making sex and romance useful.  If you are a cleric or oracle who is granted spells by a god or goddess of fertility or sexuality, you should gain powers from that deity that relate to those aspects of the deity.  If you want to play a high class prostitute who uses sex to draw out information from his patrons, you can do that.  Or, if you want to play a knight with a pledge of courtly love to a noblewoman, you can do that too.  Archetypes for all of these concepts - and many, many more - are supported in such a way that even games that stick to a "fade to black" style PG rating can still use them.  A lot of game tables don't like to get into specifics but still use sexual themes, and we wanted to make sure they were covered as well.

Margherita: Nooooo. Love has many facets, and sex is just one of them. Will appreciates quality erotism, while I have a more romantic and platonic approach. We integrated both these points of view into our work. There is the temple prostitute inside, but there also is the virginal healer, the platonic lover, the courtly love-voted cavalier and bard. Passion is a nearly limitless subject.

Tim: So a related question.  What about the supposed “adult” content in this book. What do say to potential critics?

Will: First of all, I would ask where they were during 3.5 when at least five books on this topic (working sexuality into D&D) were released.  The concept of this book is nothing new - it's the execution, and the fact that it hasn't been done for Pathfinder yet, that make our book special.

Secondly, if you're talking about nudity, then I would remind any potential critics that the 3.5 "Book of Erotic Fantasy" used actual photographs of real models for its nudes, often photo-shopped in a very "uncanny valley" way to attempt to create magical effects.  We're using drawings - beautiful, well crafted drawings.  Again, anyone in a snit about this is nearly a decade late to the barbecue.

Does the book talk about sex?  Yes, quite a bit.  In fact, I make a point in chapter 1 to define sex as "oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, tribadism (aka scissoring), manual sex (aka hand-job or fingering), brachiovaginal insertion (fisting), or any other direct stimulation of one or both partners' genitals."  We don't just talk about sex - we talk inclusively about sex, making sure to cover various types of sexual relationships.

We also talk about the concept of "sex-positive" both as it applies to the book at large and to societies in various game settings.  Unlike some previous books on the topic, we don't make any assumptions about what a given race's sexual mores are and instead provide guidelines how sex-positive social mores might interact with various alignments.

Of course, we also talk about love and romance.  As I mentioned before, our archetypes are as likely to be focused on the emotion of love as they are to be on the physical act of sex.

Margherita: We always used a respectful language and a respectful approach to the many ways in which people see love. Some of the monsters and characters included in the book enjoy rape or non-consensual domination: these are evil. Many more enforce reciprocal trust, fealty and sincerity in a relationship, and defend even love that some would find “wrong”. These are the good ones and the model roles we hope to show to our readers.


Tim: Last question, something I always ask.  Who is your favorite witch, wizard or magic-user and why?

Margherita: Tiffany Aching. Because she will be the greatest witch in the Discworld and has surpassed even her teacher. She has all her teacher’s virtues and none of her teacher’s quirks. Though if I were a witch, I’m afraid I would be more a Magrat than a Tiffany.
Oh, and the witch I created for Christina, Marena Lenoire, is cool too. (Laughs)


Will: Favorite Witch?  Wow, how specific.  Okay - for me, that would be Anthy Himemiya from Revolutionary Girl Utena.  While she isn't a "traditional" witch, that is how she's described in the show, and she does have the power of illusions.  As to why - Anthy's story is that of a victim breaking free of her own guilt and finally walking away from her abuser.  She makes mistakes along the way and betrays her best friend, but it is that very betrayal - and her friend forgiving her for it - that finally makes her see that she can't keep being that person anymore and needs to change.  And change she does.  Her character arc is both tragic and uplifting, horrible and beautiful, and I love her to death.

--

Personally I think it looks like a lot of fun.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 A Look Ahead

I like to be optimistic. I like to look forward to things.  So here is my look forward to 2017 and what it might hold for me and the Other Side.

First things first I know my posting frequency is going to take a hit.  I have a lot of projects I need to wrap-up and the only time to do that is blogging time.

Strange Brew is hitting the shelves, both virtual and physical. There is a Pathfinder version, a Castles & Crusades version (that I am really pleased with) and there is talk of a D&D 5 version.  So expect to see more of that here.

Additionally, I am working on the Swords & Wizardry Witch.  There is already a "Lite" version now, I will release "White Box" and "Complete" versions too.  One thing I have not decided on yet is whether or not to include monsters.

Gaming I see Sci-fi games being big in the Brannan House.  We played some Star Trek over New Year's eve and that was a blast.   I got a bunch (all but the 11th Doctor) of the Doctor Who "Doctor" supplements for Christmas, so doing something with that would be great.


Starfinder in on the way and that looks like a lot of fun.  Depending on how it is I *might* update the Sisters of the Aquarian Order for it.  But that is not till later in the year.

I have my fingers in a couple of other projects that are not mine specifically, but I am helping out on.

Having fun with Star Trek.
I also have three books I'd love to get out this year for White Star.  One has been on my "to do" list for 7 years (many different systems).

I am also really looking forward to the new Blue Rose.

So far 2017 is shaping up to be BUSY.

What are YOU most looking forward too?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Strange Brew: Book of Shadows - On Sale Now

Welcome 2017!
A reminder that Strange Brew: Book of Shadows is for sale at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.


Over 100 new witch spells for your Pathfinder game!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Strange Brew: Book of Shadows

My next book out for Pathfinder is now out!

Strange Brew: Book of Shadows


From the blurb:

Legends say that witches keep their spells inscribed into a Book of Shadows that holds their accumulated wisdom and power.

Here, in Strange Brew: Book of Shadows, you’ll find magic drawn from real-world legends, mythology, and folktales, as well as pure flights of fancy. Within Strange Brew: Books of Shadows, you will find over 100 spells and a half-dozen rituals, enough to delight your characters, bedevil your foes, and make your witch (or other spellcaster, whether arcane or divine) a formidable opponent.

Witches are magical creatures.

All for your Pathfinder Role-Playing Game!

50 pages, full color.
Again. Special thanks to +Rich Howard  and +Robert Hudson  for helping me get this together. And of course my editor/publisher +Christina Stiles The cover art is by +Jacob Blackmon,  whom I have featured here many times.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pathfinder Strange Brew: Book of Shadows

My next book out for Pathfinder now has a cover!


Part of the Strange Brew line from Misfit Studios this book contains a few hundred spells for the Witch class (and others) for the Pathfinder game.

Special thanks to +Rich Howard and +Robert Hudson for helping me get this together. And of course my editor/publisher +Christina Stiles.  The cover art is by +Jacob Blackmon whom I have featured here many times.

The character on the cover is my iconic half-elf witch Taryn. Here she is seen casting the spell "Moonbow".

Not exactly sure when it is hitting the shelves but I'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Pathfinder Occult & Horror Adventures

I don't review a lot of Pathfinder material here.  Mostly because I have been writing a lot of Pathfinder material and I don't want to read much of it so as not to unduly influence myself.  Well, those manuscripts are off (more or less) so I picked these up for a review.  

The Pathfinder Occult Adventures and Pathfinder Horror Adventures are the two most recent books I have picked up.  Like all Pathfinder books these books are compatible with D&D 3.5 and still fairly compatible with D&D 5 and other OSR games.  How compatible depends on how much work you want to put into it.

Given that most people reading this are likely not Pathfinder gamers, I am also going to talk about how to port these over to your own games.

Pathfinder Occult Adventures
Hardcover 272 pages, full color cover and interior.
This book is essentially the psychic powers book for Pathfinder.  It uses the same 3.x spell system that Pathfinder has always used only now there is Divine, Arcane, and Psychic magic.  This makes porting over to other systems a lot easier, but it certainly lacks some of the flavor of some other psychic books.
Chapter 1: covers Occult Classes.  The classes are the elemental Kineticist (which has powers and not spells), the Medium (powers and spells), the Mesmerist, the Occultist (which is a rather cool class), the Psychic (the star of the book really), and the Spiritualist.  Some racial options are also given for the classes.  Of all these, the psychic could be ported over the easiest. They are, essentially, magic-users with a unique spell list.
Chapter 2: Archetypes give an "occult" or psychic bend to the Pathfinder classes (of which I think there are about 135 by now).  We start out with the classes in the book, lots of different ideas to swap out powers and feats for other types of characters.  The more interesting one is the Tome Eater Occultist; this archetype actually eats books and scrolls to gain their magical powers.   We get to archetypes for the previously published classes.   Cavalier + Spiritualist, for example, gives us a Ghost Rider.  Which is actually really cool.  Occult Witches are known as Ley Line Guardians.  There is a lot if interesting ideas here.
Chapter 3 Feats details all the new feats.  Now either you love feats or you hate them.  I am hitting a little bit of feat fatigue myself.
Chapter 4 is all about the Psychic Spells. Now the advantage of using the existing spell system for a new class is that other class spells can be used for the new classes and the new spells can be used for the older classes.  So everyone gets something new. At 46 pages this is one of the larger sections in the book.
Chapter 4 covers Occult Rules. This covers a wide variety of rules and rulings for an occult game.  In particular rituals, possessions, and auras.
Chapter 5 gives advice for running an Occult game. This includes planes of existence and other locales for adventuring.
Finally, Chapter 6 covers Occult Rewards or magic items.
The book is a lot of fun and has a lot of material that I have seen elsewhere in different games over the last 35+ years, this just has them all in one place with the same system.

Pathfinder Horror Adventures
Hardcover 260 pages, full color cover and interior.
Playing a good horror game is not easy. It takes work on the part of the DM and the players. But for me I find it one of the more rewarding types of games.  Playing "Horror in D&D", even if that D&D is Pathfinder, is a bit trickier.  Horror relies on a certain sense of powerless and unknown.  D&D characters are largely powerful.  The difference is the same as a horror movie versus and action movie.
Chapter 1 covers some horror rules.  The usual suspects are here; Fear, Corruption, and Sanity.   I am as a rule pretty particular about using Sanity in my games.  I spent years as a Qualified Mental Health professional only see some game rules that were beyond embarrassing.  These rules work well enough due to their simplicity. Though I question the actual use of sanity in heroic fantasy.  In gothic fantasy, sure. But here it feels, well, perfunctory.  Corruption is interesting since your character can now slowly become the monster they hunt.
Chapter 2 covers the various archetypes for all the Pathfinder classes (453 at last count).  There are some neat ones here too. Alchemist + Horror gives you a Mad Scientist. Cleric + Horror gives us a Elder Mythos Cultist.  Various types of hunters, slayers, killers, and collectors are also given.
Chapter 3 is Feats.
Chapter 4 gives us horror themed Spells and Rituals. The rituals use the same rules as does the Occult Adventures book.
Chapter 5 details various Horror Rules. This chapter also has a section on curses and diseases and how to use them in a horror game. Different environments and their effects on the characters are also detailed.  One of these changes includes Madness.  Again, I am generally very critical here but nothing jumped out at me save that I am not sure I need another set of sanity rules at this point.  There is also a great section on horror domains. So yes you can add some Ravenloft-like areas to Pathfinder, but also Dreamlands, Far Realms and more.
Next we get the main focus of this book, Chapter 6 Running Horror Adventures.
There is some good stuff here. In particular ideas on running a D&D-style horror game. Now there is a section on "Consent".  Sorry Paizo, but I have been running horror games for decades.  So have others.  Consent is given by sitting down at the table.  I hate to sound like a jerk here, but seriously. Pick up a copy Vampire the Masquerade, Call of Cthulhu or Chill to see how this can be done.
The various horror sub-genres are covered here.  Not all of them, but enough and some ideas on how to run a game using those sub-genres.
Chapter 7 lists our Horror Gear and Magic Items.  Yes, there is something similar to the Lament Configuration.
Chapter 8 Bestiary, was an unexpected surprise. There are not a lot of creatures here but there are some interesting ones.
The book ends with a list of horror inspirations in print and film.

Both books are fun, but they are viewed through the lens, naturally, of the Pathfinder game.
Either book has something to offer the Pathfinder GM/DM but also the D&D/OSR DM willing to do a little work and little tweaking.  Classes and Archetypes can be converted as can spells and magic items.  Advice on running the games is good for any sort of game system really.
They are good guides, not the best, but still pretty good.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Class Struggles: Cthonic Warlocks and The Return of Tharizdûn

Working through my "end game" for my Come Endless Darkness campaign.  Like the Gygax book of the same name my main Big Bad is Tharizdûn.  Also like the books I am sure that the universe is going to look very different when I am done.

Through the various adventures, the big plot emerging is that Orcus, Lolth, Yeegnohu and others are taking advantage of the death of all the Sun Gods, but no one has yet confirmed or not if they have any actual involvement in it. They suspect Orcus.

In truth it is all going to be Tharizidûn.  This is something I have built up over the last couple of campaigns.  The "Dragonslayers" (the generation before the "Order of the Platinum Dragon") uncovered the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdûn.  His big plan, of course, is to get free.

Currently, I have him in a cage deep in the lowest part of the Nine Hells. Asmodeus is still his jailer and in many ways is the very first Warlock of Tharizdûn.  He has been siphoning off Tharizdûn's power for centuries, it is how he took control of Hell in fact.  But Tharizdûn knows this and while Asmodeus has been doing this, Tharizdûn has been pulling him deeper and deeper into his thrall.

In my games Tharizdûn also has another title, "The Whispering God".  This comes from his warlocks who say their god whispers in their ears and tells them secrets. And convinces them to do terrible things.  He is also known as the Elder Elemental Eye and worshiped by elemental-demon cults. He is also worshiped by the Drow that do not follow Lolth.

Recently Strange Brew: Warlocks was released.  It includes a version of the Whispering God that I used in my games. I am particularly proud of it to be honest.
WARLOCK PATRON: THE WHISPERING GOD
Deep in forgotten tombs, hidden in forsaken forests, and haunting long-abandoned churches of long-dead gods, you can hear it. It is soft, but it is there. Once you hear it, then it is always with you—day and night, sleeping and waking. It is the voice of the Whispering God. No one is for sure who or what the Whispering God is.
There are no churches or priests dedicated to him. No stories of creation. No heroes. No tales of battles. Just the constant whispering. Those warlocks who follow this entity are blessed and cursed: blessed with great power and cursed with the voice of their patron in their ears forever. No one knows what the Whispering God wants or even why he/it needs warlocks and not clerics.
The speculation is that he is a god trapped in prison so dark and so perfect only his voice can escape, but just barely. He needs these warlocks to spread the word so he can escape. Others claim that the god is nothing more than the madness that will consume all “his” warlocks.
For Pathfinder this is a "Cthonic" Patron.  For D&D 5 this would be an "Old One".
For my players, it means trouble.

Here is a Cthonic Tradition for the Basic Era Witch.

New Tradition: Cthonic

Witches of the Cthonic Tradition honor and some say are slaves of, very, very ancient powers. Some are inhuman powers from beyond our reality and understanding. Some are ancient Primordial Beigns from before the times of gods or mortals. A few are Dead Gods whose worship continues and whose power remains.

More so than any other witches, these are most often called Warlocks.

Role: These witches and warlocks represent a tie to the ancient past or to other unworldly powers.  They represent classical villains or the scholar that has delved too deep into things that mortals were never meant to know.

Joining this Tradition: To join one must either discover the Cthonic Patron of be discovered by one.  For example, the Cult of the Whispering God hears their Patron's whispers when they uncover hidden knowledge about the God or venture deep into areas that were formerly His centers of worship.

These witches tend to be Solitaries or be involved in small cults.
They are for the most part are chaotic, with some gravitating towards neutral. Rare is the lawful Cthonic witch, but it is not unheard of.

Leaving this Tradition: Often there is no way to leave this tradition; not even in death.

Occult Powers
Minor - 1st Level: Grimoire. The warlock does not gain a familiar like other witches, but rather a semi-aware tome known as a Grimoire.  These tomes replace the Book of Shadows for these witches. These Grimoires are often sought after by occultist, magic-users.

Lesser - 7th Level: Immune to Fear. Exposed to so many horrors or alien minds warps the mind of the warlock to a point where normal fear has no effect on them.  Magical fear is also given a -4 bonus on saves.

Medial - 13th Level:  Alien Mind. The Cthonic witch has become so accustomed to dealing with alien and ancient minds that she becomes immune to charm and hold spells. Her mind can't be probed or read via telepathy, ESP or similar powers.

Greater - 19th Level: Curse. The warlock can place a powerful Curse on a single creature. She can only do this once per day (for a single creature). The curse can be of any sort, but usually the curse will bestow a -4 to all to-hit rolls and -2 to any saving throws. Other curses may be allowed, such as the Bestow Curse spell. Witch curses are quite powerful and require the use of two (2) remove curse spells to be fully removed.

Major - 25th Level: Shape Change. Once per day, the witch may change her shape to any type of aberrant monster, like the spell Shape Change. For 1 turn per level, the witch may move freely back and forth between her aberration and human forms. Once the form is chosen, that is the only form she can use for the day. So, a witch may choose to change between the forms of human and a roper but cannot go between roper, human and bird. Once the duration has expired, the witch reverts back to human form.  The witch does not have the special abilities of the aberant form save for those that she can manage with the form.  So the roper's tentacles would be replicated, but not the basts of a Sphere of Many Eyes.

Superior - 31st Level: Apotheosis.  The witch becomes something else. This new form and powers are dependent on the Patron she serves.  For witches of the Whispering God her voice barley rises above a whisper, but her voice can be used as a Command spell once per day, a Charm spell 3 times per day, and a suggestion seven times per day.


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Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Starfinder

Paizo has announced "Starfinder", a new Sci-Fi game that is compatible with their Pathfinder game.



http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5litw?Announcing-the-Starfinder-Roleplaying-Game

http://paizo.com/starfinder/

I am cautiously optimistic.  This could be a lot of fun and I have a ton of d20 compatible Sci-Fi games to play with.  But of course, I have to ask what will this give me that White Star doesn't already do?

Well it looks like I'll have to wait till 2017 to find out.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Strange Brew: Warlocks

I am interrupting this A to Z Challenge to talk about my newest book. The first part of "Strange Brew" is now out.  This book features Warlocks for the Pathfinder game.

Strange Brew: Warlock



Power.

Sorcerers are born into it. Wizards spend their lives in rigorous study for it. Witches gain it through devotion to their patron. But some who seek power are unlucky enough to have been born mortal, with no access to or desire for arcane education; ordinary people who know little of witchcraft’s ancient traditions. Unlike witches, who are called by their patrons, warlocks seek out powerful beings to grant them the power they crave or desperately need.

That power can now be in your hands.

Included in these 30 pages is the new Warlock class for the Pathfinder RPG.

  • Also inside are new rules on Grimoires, the ancient and living texts of warlocks.
  • Details on new warlock pacts, including unique powers and spells.
  • Examples of several new warlock Patrons.
  • New feats
  • New hexes
  • New spells
  • And a new warlock NPC

All for your Pathfinder Role-Playing Game!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Iconic Witches of D&D

No game this past weekend. I wasn't feeling great and my son was at a birthday party.

I was thinking about Friday's post on the witches of Rahasia and of Ravenloft and it occurs to me that D&D lacks in iconic witches.  There are great examples of Vampires, Liches, Wizards, Priests, Paladins, Rangers, enough Thieves to fill a guild, even Bards.

The witches in Rahasia are one thing, but the ones in Ravenloft don't even have proper names really.

Pathfinder does a good job with their iconics.  Feiya is a proper witch, but even the sorceress Seoni is often referred to as a witch.  Not to mention all the witches to be found in Irrisen like Queen Elvanna.

The witches three. Larina, Feiya and Seoni
I have my iconic, Larina.  But she appears mostly in my Pathfinder books.

Who do we have for D&D?

Well for starters and maybe the most iconic is Iggwilv, the Witch-Queen. We also have Elena the Fair, Witch Queen of Summer. Also, while not as a well know or even explicitly a witch is Skyla.

There is also one witch that both D&D and Pathfinder share, Baba Yaga.


There was also Koliada, the Winter Witch. a Level 26 Solo Skirmisher from the 4th ed era adventure "Winter of the Witch". But there is not a lot out there about her.  Interestingly Pathfinder also has a lot Winter and Cold related witches.

Dungeon Crawl Classics gives us Lady Kyleth, The Witch Queen.

Personally I'd love to see more.  There might be more, I just haven't found them all yet.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Grimalkin, The Witch-Assassin

Gimalkin is the assassin of the Malkin witch-clan and is the best one they have ever had.
She is tall, thin but muscled and covered in leather straps and daggers.
In addition to being a powerful witch she is a peerless assassin and always chooses to make her own weapons.
Her weapon of choice is a razor sharp pair of scissors that she uses to snip off the thumbs of her victims.  While she is deadly and cruel, she also has a sense of honor. She will not fight against people much weaker than herself and she never, ever lies.

You can read more about her here:
http://thespooksapprentice.wikia.com/wiki/Grimalkin

Grimalkin the Witch-Assassin
Female Human Assassin 4/Rogue (Rake) 1/Witch (bone-witch) 5
LE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses Perception +11

Defense

AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+2 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 53 (5d8+5d6)
Fort +2, Ref +8, Will +6; +2 vs. poison
Defensive Abilities uncanny dodge

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +4 (1d4+3/19-20) and
   dagger +0 (1d4+1/19-20) (x13)
Special Attacks bravado's blade, death attack (DC 18), hexes (coven, disguise, healing), sneak attack +3d6, true death (DC 19)
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 5th; concentration +11):
3rd—arcane sight, bestow curse (DC 17)
2nd—alter self, darkness, hold person (DC 16)
1st—cause fear (DC 15), charm person (DC 15), command (DC 15), infernal healing
0 (at will)—daze (DC 14), mending, message, read magic

Statistics

Str 16, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 18, Wis 12, Cha 9
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 21
Feats Acrobatic, Agile Maneuvers, Alertness, Blind-Fight, Endurance, Quick Draw
Traits focused mind, killer
Skills Acrobatics +13, Bluff +3, Craft (weapons) +15, Diplomacy +3, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +12, Fly +5, Heal +5, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (planes) +14, Knowledge (religion) +10, Perception +11, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +14, Survival +7, Swim +7, Use Magic Device +10
Languages Abyssal, Common, Daemonic, Dark Folk, Infernal
SQ hidden weapons, patron spells (bone magic), poison use
Other Gear leather armor, dagger x 13

Special Abilities

Agile Maneuvers Use DEX instead of STR for CMB
Arcane Familiar Nearby You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Blind-Fight Re-roll misses because of concealment, other benefits.
Bravado's Blade (Ex) On sneak attack, forgo damage dice for free Intimidate with +5 bonus/dice reduced.
Coven (Ex) Count as a hag to form covens, and aid another can increase coven witch's CL.
Death Attack (DC 18) (Ex) You can kill or paralyze for 1d6+4 rds with a prepared sneak attack.
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Disguise (5 hours/day) (Su) Can change own appearance, as disguise self but with longer duration.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Endurance +4 to a variety of fort saves, skill and ability checks. Sleep in L/M armor with no fatigue.
Focused Mind +2 to Concentration checks
Healing (2d8+5) (Su) Use cure moderate wounds once per day/person.
Hidden Weapons +4 (Ex) You gain +4 to Sleight of Hand checks made to hide weapons on your person.
Killer Add weapon's critical modifier to its critical bonus damage.
Poison Use You do not risk poisoning yourself accidentally while poisoning a weapon.
Quick Draw Draw weapon as a free action (or move if hidden weapon). Throw at full rate of attacks.
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Sneak Attack +3d6 +3d6 damage if you flank your target or your target is flat-footed.
Speak With Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.
True Death (DC 19) (Su) Casting Raise Dead on a victim of your death attack requires a successful DC 19 caster level check.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex) Retain Dex bonus to AC when flat-footed.

Familiar (Bone Witch)
Grimalkin uses bones as her familiar. In particular the thumb bones of other powerful people, witches or creatures.  Right now she has in her possession the head the of Fiend, she can use that as a familiar as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Prestige Class: Daughter of Baba Yaga

There is an ancient tradition among witches to seek out the Great Crone Baba Yaga to learn arcane secrets known to no one else.  The vast majority of witches never find her mysterious hut. Those that do are often killed and eaten for their impropriety and presumption.  But a few, a very few, find the ancient hag and she sees something of worth or value in the witch.  These witches go on become quite powerful in their own right.  They are known as the Daughters of Baba Yaga.

Section 15: Daughter of Baba Yaga, Copyright 2015, Timothy. S. Brannan.
OGC Declaration: The following content is considered Open Content for term of the OGL.

Daughter of Baba Yaga

The Daughters of Baba Yaga (DoBY) are a varied lot but all share a desire to learn more arcane secrets and in particular secrets of witchcraft.  Witches are the most common of her daughters, but sometimes an occasional wizard or sorcerer will also seek her out.

Hit Dice: d4

Requirements 
 To qualify as a Daughter of Baba Yaga, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Knowledge (History): 9 Ranks
Knowledge (Arcana): 7 Ranks
Feats: Iron Will
Spell casting: Ability to cast arcane spells
Special:  Female only; Oath of Fosterage*

The Oath of Fosterage must be taken when Baba Yaga first considers to take on the potential daughter.  Baba Yaga will often demand some sort task or quest from the witch.  The task will be one that is difficult and require cleverness to complete.  For example asking her to fetch water from a well but only give her a sieve to collect the water.
Once the Oath is made the Daughter cannot attack or harm in any way any other Daughter or Baba Yaga despite their alignment.  All Daughters, despite when they were fostered will know each other on sight.

Alignment: Any (usually any non-evil)

Class Skills
(2 + Int modifier per level): Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft (any), Knowledge (arcana),  Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nature), Profession (any), Spellcraft, Survival, and Swim.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Daughter of Baba Yaga prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Daughter of Baba Yaga gains no additional weapon or armor proficiencies

Spells per Day: The character’s caster level increases when a Daughter of Baba Yaga level is gained if she had also gained a level in a previous class that allows them to qualify for this class.

This affects her spells per day and spells known, as if they had gained a level, but she does not gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If a character had more than one qualifying class before becoming a Daughter of Baba Yaga, she must decide to which class she adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day and caster level.

Daughters continue to use whatever Arcane spell lists they used before becoming a Daughter of Baba Yaga.  Daughters also continue to use what ever spell casting ability she had been using before becoming a Daughter.

Poison Resistance (Su): Daughters are exposed to a number of noxious potions, poultices and herbals and even poisons.  This exposure builds up over time till the witch gains a +5 to any posin based saving throws.

Arcane Diversity (Sp): Starting at 2nd level, the Daughter of Baba Yaga can learn any 1st level Arcane spell that is not on her typical list.  So if she begins as a witch she can choose a 1st level spell from the Wizard/Sorcerer, Bard or Magus lists. At 4th level she can choose a 2nd level spell and so on.  The spell will use same spell casting ability she uses for all her spells.

Hex (Sp): The Daughter may choose a Hex from the Witches list of hexes.  If she previously met the requirements for higher level hexes she may choose from those lists as well.

Kitchen Witchery (Sp): The Daughter may substitute any spell of 1st to 3rd level with an Alchemical Extract of the same level.  The Daughter may replace 1 spell of every level, 1st to 3rd, in this manner.  The Daughter though is not an alchemist by training so once a spell is replaced in this way the choice is permanent.
At 9th level the Daughter can choose Alchemical Extracts of 4th to 6th level. She may replace one spell each of levels 4th to 6th.

Table Daughter of Baba Yaga Progression

Class Level Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Oath, Poison Resistance +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +3 +3 +1 Arcane Diversity, 1st level +1 level of existing class
3rd +2 +3 +3 +1 Hex +1 level of existing class
4th +2 +4 +4 +2 Arcane Diversity, 2nd level +1 level of existing class
5th +3 +4 +4 +2 Kitchen Witchery, 1 +1 level of existing class
6th +3 +5 +5 +3 Arcane Diversity, 3rd level +1 level of existing class
7th +4 +5 +5 +3 Hex +1 level of existing class
8th +4 +6 +6 +3 Arcane Diversity, 4th level +1 level of existing class
9th +5 +6 +6 +4 Kitchen Witchery, 2 +1 level of existing class
10th +5 +7 +7 +4 Arcane Diversity, 5th level +1 level of existing class



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baba Yaga and the Reign of Winter

I know we are mere days before the start of Summer, but I find my thoughts turning to Winter...
The Reign of Winter to be precise.

Backing up.

I have been doing searches for a couple of adventures or adventure ideas for a couple of different purposes. They have been, for the most part, independent searches. But lately they have grown together and lead me to the same outcome.

Search 1 was/is for a very high level adventure for the Dragonslayers. I wanted something published by TSR. I wanted it to be "old school" but didn't have to be from the 70s or early 80s.  Something like "Throne of Bloodstone" but very specifically NOT that.  I wanted it to be an older module for my own reasons.

Search 2 was/is primarily for more adventures in my so-called "War of the Witch Queens" adventure path/campaign.  The idea was to play through all these witch queen themed adventures to some goal.
These two search lead me to the same end point.  The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga.
It's old. It is part of the "S" series of modules in theory (it is supposed to be S5). It has history.
Plus it deals with the biggest, baddest Witch Queen of them all; Baba Yaga.

Satisfied, I bought the PDF printed it out and put it in a binder with the old Dragon magazine version of the The Dancing Hut and a 4th edition version I bought a while back.  It works perfect as an adventure for the Dragonslayers.

I like the idea that Baba Yaga is in it. I'd also like to work in Iggwilv and maybe Louhi too.

But it got me thinking.  Wasn't there a Pathfinder adventure with Baba Yaga too?
I knew of the Reign of Winter and I thought that maybe the last adventure, The Witch Queen’s Revenge might be a good one to use too.  In the process I also discovered a stand alone (but maybe related) adventure The Witchwar Legacy.

I picked up those three books, but not the first 5 of the Reign of Winter.

Does anyone know if they are any good?  Has anyone played them?

I like the idea behind the adventures, but they are not really something I am looking for.

Plus I would like to fit in all these other adventures too.  I also like the idea that each adventure is from a different game.

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