Showing posts with label season of the witch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label season of the witch. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Promises, Promises & RPG Blog Carnival

"You know, going on adventures sound great. Until you actually do it." Drusilla, dispossessed princess of an oppressed people.

Promises, Promises is one of those books that people have been telling me I need to read for years. It features witches, oracles, a Red Sonja-like warrior woman, and, as the cover proclaims, plenty of dykes.

But more importantly, it is a fun story with some great and memorial characters.  This is L-J Baker's first foray into comedy and it's a ton of fun.
In the pages of this book she lampoons and satirizes: Star Wars, Dune, Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Princess Bride, Shrek, the Valdemar Books, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Eragon, Narnia, every fairy tale, Buffy, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (many times), Harry Potter, Monte Python and the Holy Grail, Conan, and of course lots, and lots of D&D.

Not all her jokes hit the mark, but there are so many you don't really care.  This is not, as others have claimed. a Xanth-like novel, but the comparison is a fair one.

I honestly believe that L-J Baker had to have been (or still is) a gamer.  The references are too well done and actually too lovingly well done to be anything else other than admiration.    Yes she is poking fun at some long-held tropes but in such a way as only someone who has loved these tropes can.

If you love stories of adventures or games of them, then I would suggest getting this for those reasons alone. It points out some of the most ridiculous situations adventurers often find themselves in, but again does it in such a way as never to ridicule, but have light fun.  The lack of proper hair care products, insect repellant, steady wages and sleeping accommodations are only the tip of the iceberg. You quickly learn that every adventuring company needs a "Ruth".

A couple of nitpicks. Sometimes the book tries to be too clever. Especially when talking about anachronistic details like flushable toilets and advanced cartography. BUT even these are meant to poke fun at modern biases you see in many fantasy books, especially ones based on game worlds.
Also, I picked up the audio-book for this and the narrator really has an odd way of pronouncing some of the words. Not sure what was going on here, but I cringed every time she would say "talons". Other words she just didn't know how to pronounce. I picked up the Kindle version too just to make sure I was not mishearing something.

All in all, though the book was extremely fun and enjoyable. There is a good story here and even a message about not having to go out to seek something that you already have.
It's no spoiler that there is a Happily-Ever-After (it's on the cover) but like all adventures, most of the fun is getting there anyway.

Thank you my internet minions for suggesting this book to me! Now go forth and find me more!
(Or...if I take the lesson from this tale, I should just go over to my tower of "To Be Read" and tackle that.)

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 4
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: Miss Sandra Sybil Blunt, first rate wooer of women, but only a third rate witch.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Sandy is good. She doesn't always know that.
Best RPG to Emulate it: So easy. This book SCREAMS "Play me in Pathfinder!"
Use in WotWQ: Given all the cameos of so many fantasy characters in this book Sandy, Ruth, Dru, Mavis and Bob will have to make a guest appearance in my adventures someday.  Dru will have to say something appropriately anachronistic.


The Problem With Oracles
Consequently, this book also ties in nicely with this month's RPG Blog Carnival, Prophecies & Omens.  It really illustrates how and why Oracles, Omens, and Prophecies are such a pain in the ass (and often very fun to use).
In "Promises, Promises" we get two oracles of a sort.  The first is "The Infallible Oracle of Ring" that has stated that Drusilla, dispossessed princess of an oppressed people, will go on many adventures with the Great Obtuse Mage, and survive to get her kingdom back.  This is great since it gives Dru plenty of motivation to go on this otherwise ridiculous adventure, sadly everyone else thinks she is insane.

The second oracle is the previously mentioned Obtuse Mage, also known as Sandy Blunt herself.
She is the one that gets everyone in trouble.  She tries to hit on a princess in disguise (another princess) and commits the capital offense of Prophesizing to one of Royal Blood.  She has a year and day to make all her alcohol and lust-fueled boasts come true.

"Promises, Promises" plays on the setup of prophecies in fantasy fiction quite well.  Several others are mentioned such as various farm-boy turned chosen ones (read Star Wars, Dune, Eragon and Harry Potter).  Dru will often throw herself right into danger because of the Infallible Oracle of Ring.

While fun for a book, even a book based more or less on RPGs, it is a bit harder to pull this off for RPGs in play.  So if I was the DM and I had a party that included a witch, a princess, a warrior woman, a clueless paladin, an ogre druid and a highly resourceful shop girl (first I guess I'd question what the hell was I playing) I would not let my princess jump feet first into the deepest part of the ocean because the Oracle said she would get her crown back.

Prophecies have to be vague, Omens have to be hard to read.  The Prophecy in Harry Potter, for example, was vague enough to mean Harry or Neville.  Or in the case of Anakin his "bringing balance back to the force" meant killing every Jedi until there were only two Jedi and two Sith left.

In my own games, I had set up a situation where a child was going to be born who would essentially become the "Messiah of Witches".  This was during my "Willow & Tara" game in Season 2, "Season of the Witch".  Season 3, "Generation Hex", would fast forward a bit (the child was born in 2005) to deal with the children born then in high school now.  One of those characters was going to be this new power in the world.  I didn't know who yet, I wanted to keep that much vague even from me, but I knew it was going to be one of them.
What I could not foresee (though it should have been obvious) was my Season 2 taking forever, so much that the game's future became the real-world's past and Season 3 never getting started.

Who was going to be the new Witch Messiah? No one knows now.

So here is my advice for Prophecies and Omens in your games:

1. Keep them Vague
Just like the prophecies of Nostradamus are ret-conned to mean or justify anything today, keep your's vague so they might mean anything at all.

2. Have the Players Give them Meaning
Let your player decide what the prophecies mean for their characters.  Along with being vauge, this gives you an "out". Plus they might come up with something much more interesting than you did and they will find ways to make it come true.

3. Use them Sparingly
Omens, Prophecies and the like have more punch when they are a rare thing. No considers the weather app on your smart-phone to be magical, but it has a far better success rate than what Nostradamus has said.   Part of that reason is well, science, but also I can get a weather report anytime I want one. Back in the early days of the internet (the 80s) I was dumbfounded when I logged in and could get a real-time weather map. Why? Because it was rare and new.

Prophecies can be a lot of fun. Or like for the poor Obtuse Mage and 3rd rate witch Sany Blunt, they can be a real pain in the ass!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prestige Class: Imbolc Mage

Trying some more Prestige Classes for Witches.  This one is actually quite near and dear to me.  It was also one of the first Prestige Classes I ever wrote.

The Imbolc Mage is a special sort of witch infused with the divine vengeance of the Goddess.  They are nominal leaders of the Imbolc Guard.  I wanted to create something that felt it could have been a part of witch history for a long time and work in the game.  I had help from a good friend Lisa Countryman and her ideas on the original Imbolc Mage.  The Imbolc Mage is her baby so I have kept the name closed for the OGL, but the rest is all fair game.

Section 15: Imbolc Mage, Copyright 2013, Timothy. S. Brannan & Lisa Countryman.
OGC Declaration: The terms "Imbolc Mage" and "Lady Imbolc" are closed in terms of the OGC. All other content is considered Open.
Art is Copyright © Anne- Claire PAYET 2009 and used under Creative Commons

Imbolc Mage
Incantation by `Eireen
Witches speak of Warlocks in hushed tones. Most are disgusted by these betrayers of the Goddess' law, but more than few also fear them. But there is one witch that even the darkest Warlocks of the Scholomance fear, for she is the righteous fury of the Goddess made mortal. She is the Imbolc Mage.

The Mages of Imbolc are so rare that every single one has been recorded. Most have died in the pursuit of the Goddesses’ vengeance. Imbolc Mages exist to destroy evil, and they save a special hatred for those who call themselves warlocks.

Like becoming witch, one does not chose to become an Imbolc Mage, the Goddess makes that choice.
If the witch has the potential to become an Imbolc mage a series of tests and trails are performed by a coven 19 witches trained in the martial use of the sword. The witches who train the prospective are always of the strongest Neutral Good alignment. The test is a small price to pay and only a fraction of the battles the new Imbolc Mage will certainly face. The training is tough and many do not succeed. There is no dishonor in failure, it simply means the prospective was not destined to bear the mantle of the Imbolc mage. If the prospective does succeed, she is filled with the power of the Goddess and is known to all as Lady Imbolc.
History records that nearly all Imbolc Mages have come from the ranks of strong witches. Amazon and Celtic Classical traditions being the most representative, but few chaste Tantric witches and a fewer number of Lorelei have served as well. Some druids and sorceresses have also become Imbolc Mages. With the rise of evil becoming greater more Imbolc Mages have been chosen and some have come from nonwitch backgrounds. In most cases the Imbolc Mage will join the Daughters of the Flame (q.v.) coven dedicated to the Goddess Brigit, but the Imbolc Mage works alone and is not considered to be a full member of that coven. Game Masters can choose a coven that suits their game the best.

Hit Dice: d8

Requirements
To qualify as an Imbolc Mage, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Alignment: Any Good.
Feat: any metamagic feat, except Spell Kiss.
Knowledge (religion): 7 Ranks
Knowledge (Witchcraft): 7 Ranks
Spell casting: Ability to cast 5th level spells
Special: Imbolc Mages can only be female.

In order to understand the nature of her foe, the potential Imbolc Mage must have survived an attack from an evil outsider. Note, survived does not mean she won or succeeded in defeating the outsider. Preferences are also made to witches that come from a strong family line of witches and have high Wisdom.

Imbolc Mages are not made, they are chosen. So the GM and the Player who wishes to play an Imbolc Mage must decide on the particulars of this calling. Were her ancestors powerful witches? Did she have an Imbolc Mage in her family tree? Is there some new evil that requires a new Imbolc Mage be called? What were the circumstances with her battle with the evil outsider?

Class Skills
The Imbolc Mage’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (witchcraft) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier

Imbolc Mage Progression
Class Level Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
1st +1 +0 +0 +2 Awesome Presence +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +1 +0+3 Favored enemy +1 +1 level of existing class
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Bilocate +1 level of existing class
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Favored enemy +2 +1 level of existing class
5th +3 +2 +1 +4 Wild Shape 1/day +1 level of existing class
6th +3 +2 +2+5 Favored enemy +3 +1 level of existing class
7th +4 +2 +2 +5 Ethereal Shift +1 level of existing class
8th+4 +3 +2 +6 Favored enemy +4 +1 level of existing class
9th +5 +3+3 +6 Astral Shift +1 level of existing class
10th+5 +3 +3 +7 Favored enemy +5, Extended Life +1 level of existing class

Class Features
All of the following are class features of The Imbolc Mage prestige class.

Weapon Proficiency: Once becoming an Imbolc Mage, training in the sword begins. Regardless of original class, the Imbolc Mage can choose the sword and attack without penalty. Often the sword becomes the new ritual tool of the Imbolc Mage, replacing the athame. Unlike the athame, the sword is sharp and will be used for combat purposes.
Most Imbolc Mages eschew the use of armor since it interferes with their spell casting abilities. Many will have several piece of magical protection in place.

Special: The Imbolc Mage gains special powers at each level of her progression.

Awesome Presence (Su): At first level, the Imbolc Mage is infused with the power of her Goddess. This supernatural ability has two main effects. First all witches can “see” this presence as a bright aura. Witches that know of the Imbolc Mage will treat her with deference and respect. Enemies, in particular warlocks, can also detect this aura. Any morale checks made by enemies are at a –1 penalty. Natural animals are also calmed by her presence.
As a side effect of this change in her aura even the most good and lawful Imbolc Mages will appear to any magical scrying techniques as have a “touch of evil” about them. In all cases anyone who can see auras will see the Imbolc Mage’s aura is blinding bright.

Favored Enemy (Ex): The Imbolc Mage gains Warlocks as a favored enemy as per the ranger ability. All attacks, mundane, magical or martial, are done at a +1 bonus at second level and gain by +1 for every two levels. GMs who wish to have more flexibility or do not wish to use warlocks might extend this favored enemy status to any type of evil witch, wizard or spellcaster.

Wild Shape (Su): At fifth level the Imbolc Mage may Wild Shape once per day (take a shape and revert back). The shape maybe to any size that is one step removed from the Imbolc Mage. A medium-sized Imbolc Mage may wild shape to a small, medium or large creature. Unlike the Polymorph Self spell or druid ability, the Imbolc mage is restricted to natural animals. She may wild shape to a large dog, a lion or even a wolf, but never a wyvern or an owlbear. Typically the Imbolc Mage chooses one shape and sticks with that. This is a supernatural ability.

Bilocate (Sp): The Imbolc Mage can astral project (as the astral projection spell) onto the same plane she is currently occupying, in effect being in two locations at once. The projection is semi-real and may do anything the Imbolc Mage could do, including cast spells and assume a Wild Shape. The Imbolc Mage cannot do anything other than rest, though both incarnations are aware and conscious of the others surroundings. The Imbolc Mage may hold this projection a number of minutes equal to her level plus 10, or until the projection reaches zero hit points. Any damage to the projection also damages the Imbolc Mage at one half the amount loss. She may do this once per day. This is a spell like ability.

Ethereal Shift: The Imbolc Mage can enter the Ethereal Plane. For spell effects this is the same as if an Ethereal Jaunt spell were cast by a sorcerer of the same level. This may be performed once per day. This is a spell like ability.

Astral Shift: The Imbolc Mage can enter the Astral Plane. For spell effects this is the same as if an astral projection spell were cast by a sorcerer of the same level. This may be performed once per day and is a spell like ability.

Extended Life: Similar to the druid ability Timeless Body, the Imbolc Mage stops aging normally. Her aging is slowed to 75% of what is normal for her race. This supernatural ability also effects magical aging. Though this rarely aids her normal aging since most Imbolc Mages die due to violence rather than age.

Spells per Day: The Imbolc Mage continues training in magic as well as the sword. Thus, when a new Imbolc Mage level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in a spell-casting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (new Occult powers, metamagic or item creation feats, and so on). This essentially means that she adds the level of Imbolc Mage to the level of some other spell-casting class the character has, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
If a character had more than one spell-casting class before she became an Imbolc Mage, she must decide to which class she adds each level of Imbolc Mage for purposes of determining spells per day when she adds the new level. Generally speaking this will be her highest spell casting class.

For example, Fionna is a 10th level witch and 2nd level sorceress. She is called to become an Imbolc Mage. She gains a level of Imbolc Mage and is now known as Lady Imbolc, and is a witch 10, sorceress 2, and Imbolc Mage 1. She opts to continue receiving witch spells, so she gains spells as an 11th level witch/2nd level sorceress, if she goes up a level in witch or Imbolc Mage then she will cast as a 12th level witch/2nd level sorceress. Typically though, the new Imbolc Mage will forgo any advancement in any other class she has and concentrate solely on her advancement as an Imbolc Mage.

Imbolc Mages use the same spell list as witches.

A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn, Do bhrat fionn dom anacal.  
     Oh, Brigid, spread above my head, your mantle bright to guard me.”
 - Prayer to Brigid

Friday, June 15, 2012

Willow & Tara: World of Darkness (new)

Willow and Tara in Mage the Awakening

Following up on my post from earlier today on The World of Darkness RPG.

One of the reoccurring themes in Willow & Tara fiction or games is their shared growth of magical power.  As they grow together and grow more in love, their powers increase to a near phenomenal level.  Sort of like the powers wielded in Mage the Awakening.

Now in my last Buffy campaign, "Season of the Witch", I had Willow and Tara become "mages".  Not exactly what is here, but very close.  I would be lying though if I didn't say there was some influence. There was. You can read about that in the last three adventures of that game:
This is also a common theme in the various Willow & Tara fanfics out there. In fact one of the best Willow/Tara fan fics out there is “Unexpected Consequences” by Lisa Countryman.  Lisa even uses the word “mage” to describe their power level even though I know for a fact she has never seen any White Wolf game.  In Lisa’s “Unexpected Consequences” Tara’s Awakening happens too soon and it causes, well, all sorts of unexpected consequences.  It takes place during season six and is far, far better than what happened on TV.  In the sequel fic “Milestones” Lisa deals quite well with Willow and Tara’s true Awakening some 10-15 years in the future.  Not only does she capture 30-something Willow and Tara quite well, it is an excellent narrative of how an Awakening can happen or be done.  Willow and Tara knew it was coming, and yet they are still totally unprepared for it.  It also shows what an Awakening must be like through the eyes of a mundane or other non-awakened witches.

So as they grow old together Willow and Tara will get much more powerful.

Presented here are a possible Willow and Tara right after the events of Season of the Witch.  I am borrowing heavy from Lisa here as well as my own World of Darkness (old) stats.  This would have lead up to my Season 3 that would have been more magically focus. In fact these conversions lead right from my Mutants & Masterminds 2.0 conversions in terms of when they happened (game wise) and when I wrote them (real time).  It was because of these two games that gave me the idea to move the girls to Boston.

Their Awakening in Brief
Lisa and I both consider Willow and Tara to be “old souls”, they have both been reincarnated many times and have shared many lives together.  Our separate visions of this were so compatible that we meshed them.  I had considered their first incarnations to be “Bodhmal” (Willow) and “Liath” (Tara) from Celtic Ireland, Lisa’s are “Belen” (Tara) and “Damara” (Willow).  In either case Willow and Tara’s Awakening in Mage is a similar event to awakening their Old Soul in WitchCraft; contact with their primal soul-selves. In Mage Revised this would have been their avatar. In Mage the Awakening this is the primal spirit that instructs them on who they were, who they are now and what they are to become.  I choose them both to take the Path of Thyrsus.  While they are not really “shamans”, there is an earthy quality about Tara.  It was more for their seeking of their Primordial Soul-selves. Plus in Lisa’s fiction Willow and Tara’s awakenings was always about a surplus of life and life-power. In UC Tara becomes faster, stronger and more confident.  Something she tries to maintain later in MS. What also struck me was the description of the Thyrsus’ extreme emotions.  This also fits Lisa’s fictions.

Delving deeper into the “Tome of The Watchtowers” (which also inspired the name for Episode 13) we learn that Thyrsus was the only Watchtower formed by a woman. The sexual nimbus fits with sex=magic we saw on TV and Lisa’s description of Adourflame (Episode 11).

I could have chosen Acanthus as well since this communication with their previous souls is across time and space, but I did not feel either of them fit the “Fool” or extremely lucky archetypes.

Willow Rosenberg

Path: Thyrsus   Order: Mysterium

Virtue: Justice. Willow is very much about what is right and what is wrong.
Vice: Wrath.  Some people bring a gun a knife fit, Willow brings a flame thrower.

Attributes
Intelligence: 5 Strength: 1 Presence: 3
Wits: 3 Dexterity: 2 Manipulation: 2
Resolve: 3 Stamina: 3 Composure: 3


Skills
Mental Physical Social
Academics 4 Athletics 2 Animal Ken 0
Computer 5 Brawl 1 Empathy 1
Crafts 1 Drive 0 Expression 1
Investigation 2 Firearms 0 Intimidation 1
Medicine 2 Larceny 1 Persuasion 2
Occult 3 Stealth 1 Socialize 1
Politics 1 Survival 1 Streetwise 1
Science 4 Weaponry 1 Subterfuge 1


Merits
Allies
Ambidextrous
Encyclopaedic Knowledge
Language 2     
Striking looks 2
Size: 5
Speed: 8
Initiative Mod: 4
Defence: 2
Health: 8
Willpower: 6/6
Morality: 6



Mana: 9
Gnosis: 5
Wisdom: 8



Personal Data
Age: 27 (in 2008)
Ht: 5’3”
Wt: 115#
Hair: Red
Eyes: Green
Gender: Female


Arcana

Death: 0
Fate: 0
Forces: 3
Life: 2
Matter: 1
Mind: 2
Prime: 2
Space: 0
Spirit: 1
Time: 0




Tara Maclay

Path: Thyrsus   Order: Mysterium

Virtue: Temperance. Tara is nothing if not understanding and temperate
Vice: Sloth. She is not lazy, but she likes things to move a little slower. She does not enjoy fighting monsters.

Attributes
Intelligence: 3 Strength: 2 Presence: 3
Wits: 4 Dexterity: 1 Manipulation: 1
Resolve: 3 Stamina: 3 Composure: 4


Skills
Mental Physical Social
Academics 3 Athletics 0 Animal Ken 2
Computer 2 Brawl 1 Empathy 3
Crafts 1 Drive 1 Expression 0
Investigation 2 Firearms 0 Intimidation 0
Medicine 1 Larceny 0 Persuasion 0
Occult 5 Stealth Socialize 1
Politics 0 Survival 1 Streetwise 1
Science 1 Weaponry 1 Subterfuge 0


Merits
Allies
Encyclopaedic Knowledge
Language 3
Striking looks 2
Size: 5
Speed: 9
Initiative Mod: 4
Defence: 2
Health: 8
Willpower: 7/7
Morality: 8

Mana: 10
Gnosis: 4
Wisdom: 8

Arcana

Death: 0
Fate: 0
Forces: 2
Life: 3
Matter: 1
Mind: 2
Prime: 1
Space: 0
Spirit: 1
Time: 0


Personal Data
Age: 28 (in 2008)
Ht: 5’4”
Wt: 125#
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Gender: Female

Of all the re-builds I have done of the girls these are in my top 5.
If I were to pick-up playing these characters again I would seriously consider using the nWoD/Mage rules.

For Arcana I gave Willow 11 dots and Tara 10.  This actually might be a little light.
I would love to play around some more with this game some day, but I can't find people to play it.

---

This is my last post for the YAM Magazine LBGT Blogathon.  I wanted to end with Willow & Tara and using one of the most accepting RPG I have ever known.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 13

Episode 13: All Along the Watchtower

May/June, 2005
Heatherfield, WA

No previously on “Willow & Tara: Season of the Witch” we pick up right where we left off.

Willow and Tara are separated by the newly repaired veil. A lot of things happen at once. Tara is screaming for Willow and collapses, but does not pass out. Cordelia and Bob both disappear. The Guardians “power down” and revert to their normal forms.

The members of the Witches’ Committee attempt to use magic to capture Tara, but all discover that they no longer have any magic at all. S.A.V.E. (Nigel, Faith and a couple of field agents) gets in between them with guns (Faith, btw no longer feels like a Slayer). At some point the Daughters of Flame had arrived and are now surrounding Tara to protect her from anyone that might cross their line. It looks like everyone is going to resort to physical fighting. In what would later be called “Tapping a Line” in my games, Tara, the only Mage in the group, screams “Enough” and summons up enough magic to physically move everyone away from her. Think of those anime shows where the hero summons up magic. So lit from the bottom, hair flying wild, glowing eyes.

Tara manages to round up the groups and sets them into figuring out what is going on. I tell her player she can still feel Willow, but it is weak and distant. She can tell that Willow is still alive, but that is it.

With Bob and Cordilia gone I get their players to play Nigel (and Faith, representing S.A.V.E.) and Morgan (representing the Witches’ Committee). I slip them notes with what their ultimate goal is. S.A.V.E. wants to keep the veil closed so there are no more magical threats. Nigel though wants Tara to be with Willow because of his own guilt with Megan and Bob. The Witches Committee wants the veil to be removed since they have the most to gain in a world of magic. Lilith is also there, being represented by Anya. She is an NPC, but Lilith’s interests are maintain the status-quo. But she has plans for either outcomes. The Guardians for the first time in years have nothing to guard. They have no powers and they feel lost.

While meeting and discussing the various merits of all the plans, Tara and company get a visitor. The Lich from Episode 10. Tara meets with him alone, everyone else is too terrified and too surprised to see him still walking around (they had gotten reports that all magical creatures were gone or dead).

On the other side of the veil, Willow is having the opposite problem. She is super powerful, but everything she throws at the veil does nothing to change it. She is joined by Coyote. He mocks her a bit, saying this what the old Willow would have wanted, all this power. Willow tells him if the price for power is Tara then it is not worth it; That she would rather be a normal human, living a normal life as long as she is with Tara. Coyote tells her that maybe she can have both and he wanders off. Willow follows.

Tara and the Lich are meeting in a room, the Daughters begged her to allow a body guard, but Tara didn’t want one. The Lich tells her that they are linked, that she owes him but in the present state of the world there is no way she could pay him back. Tara figures out the other reason they are linked. Everyone else’s magic is gone, but his and hers. He was a Mage too. The Lich says that the only way they can settle their debt, and he indicates his mark on her, is to bring magic back to the world and not just the trickle that leaked through the Veil, all of it. Tara asks him what he wants in return. The Lich is silent.

Willow follows Coyote to the court of the Fae. Both the leaders of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts are there. The Seelie King and Queen treat Willow with an odd amount of respect. The Unseelie Queen is down-right friendly. King Oberon address Willow and says it has been over a hundred years since they last met. Willow is confused. Queen Maeve (the Unseelie Queen) tells her that the King refers to her past life when the Veil was erected by herself and her Anamchara.
The Seelie want the veil to remain closed, and have offered Willow a home on this side of it. The Unseelie want it open, Maeve enjoys humans and will miss the interactions. The court leaves Willow to think about her future, Coyote joins her.

Tara has decided to drop the veil. Living in a world with no magic is one thing, but living in a world with no Willow is another thing all together. Since she and the Lich are the only ones with magic she doesn’t even bother to tell the others.

Willow can feel Tara’s anxiety but does not know what it is about. She decides that living in a world full of magic is meaningless without Tara. She goes back to the Veil. Laughing, Coyote follows her telling her it is time to destroy the world.

At the Veil Tara is followed by the throng, wanting to see what she is going to do. She summons up her magic and tries to bring down the Veil. Nigel asks her to stop, telling her that if she drops the Veil she might not get it back up again.

On the other side Willow feels Tara at the Veil and uses her own magic to lower it. The Seelie Court detects this and are right on her heels trying to stop her. The Unseelie try to stop them.

The Veil is weakening as it does the people with magic on the other side begin to feel the return. The Guardians are first, and they are unsure what to do. The decide to help Tara. The Witches Committee member, Morgan, lends her magic as do the Daughters of the Flame.

On Willow’s side she can feel the flow of magic more and knows Tara is on the other side helping. Maeve is also lending her magic. So total we have five Guardians, three Daughters of the Flame, Morgan, Maeve, Willow and Tara, and the Lich for a total of 13 witches/mages.

The Veil falls.

Willow and Tara are reunited as magic rushes into the “real” world, banality rushes into the magical one.

The Guardians of the Veil are now the Guardians of the Watchtowers, each a mage in her respective element.
Morgan and the Daughters all have their magic levels increased.
Bob and Cordelia are back.
Maeve and the rest of the fae feel weaker in terms of magic, but they mention this is a temporary solution. King Obereon tells Willow and Tara that the pact forged in their past lives is now broken.
Two of the Daughters, Ceriweden and Brigh, offer themselves as their personal protectors as long as they draw breath.
Morgan can be heard on her cell phone talking away about setting up a press conference right away. She is ushered into a car that had just pulled up. She pauses to thank Willow and Tara and tells them they should come to offices, now that they are not trying to kidnap or kill them. They can do lunch.
Nigel and Faith mention they will figure out something to tell S.A.V.E., Faith kisses both girls on the cheeks and tells them not to be strangers anymore.

Tara looks out to see the Lich. It nods to her and she feels her mark burn. The Lich speaks in her mind, “there is still the debt”.

Tara feels ill, then light headed and she passes out.

--

Tara wakes in a hospital room. She is connected to an IV drip and Willow is sitting by her side. Bob is “pacing” the room. As soon as Tara sits up Cordelia orbs in. She tells them all the Elders are “Freaking out” but not as much as the demons. They are all crazy busy, but she felt they knew this was the direction everything was going to go. Now that they don’t have to cover up magic anymore they can concentrate more on fighting evil. Cordy gives Willow and Tara both a hug goodbye. She tells them she can’t be their Whitelighter anymore since they are Mages and she is needed elsewhere. But she will come by to see them when she can.
Cordelia orbs out.

Bob, who has been quiet this whole time says he has to go too. Tara protests, but he tells her that she is grown up and doesn’t need her daddy to help her back on to the horses anymore. He tells her this was how it was always going to be, he was here to help with the Awakening and that is what he did. He tells her he is tired, and he wants to see Megan again. Megan appears (played by Eliza Roberts again) she goes to Tara and hugs and kisses her. She also hugs Willow thanking her for being there and loving her daughter so much. She tells them both how proud she is of them and how exciting the future will be for them. She takes Bob’s hand and as they fade away they fade to their younger versions from the 1980s.

Tara is crying and Willow is holding her.

The doctor comes in, a young Indian man. He apologizes for being so late, saying that the ER has been a nightmare for the last 24 hours. He asks if Willow can leave so he can talk to the patient, Willow protests, but Tara mentions they are legal domestic partners and are married in the tenants of their faiths. That they are spending the rest of their lives together and that anything that she needs to know Willow needs to know too.

The doctor says, “Ok, this should be good news then. Congratulations Ms. Maclay, you are pregnant!”

The final scene is the stunned look on the girls’ faces.

--
Notes: Ok so big things here. Let’s break it all down.

No Big Bads: One of the things I wanted to do here was do a Season/Series/Arc/Campaign with no Big Bads. No final boss at the end of the level to fight. I am going to say that this was 100% a success. It did take some work to do. The mental place you are in when working on this game is a Big Bad. It’s what the show does, it’s what a lot of shows do.

The Awakening: The big season focus was on the Awakening, or the return of all Magic. Or as we said at the time, Magic was being outed. I felt that the world as it was could no longer exist. You can’t explain everything with gangs and PCP, you can’t even explain anything really. So the best plan was to have a world where everyone knew magic was real. We do it all the time in D&D and ShadowRun. My major influence here was the Piers Anthony “Incarnations of Immortality” series. Magic has returned to the world and it allows me make some rather big changes.

Pregnant: Yup. I got Tara knocked up. Well. Not me personally.
I wanted to keep the identity of the other parent secret for a while, but my Season 3 never quite got together the way I wanted. It got together in a completely different way, but more on that later.
Tara is pregnant. At the time we were building “The Dragon and the Phoenix” there was a meme of Tara getting pregnant stories. There were tons of them. Examples,  http://www.uberwillowtara.com/artfamily.htm  and http://www.uberwillowtara.com/artmothers.htm
I thought we should do our own take too. Taking a cue from Lisa , our co-author and resident Tara expert, I went to her Willow & Tara epic tale (700+ pages) “Unexpected Consequences” and got the name for Tara’s child, Brianna. Brianna was born Feb 2, 2006.

Who is the “father”? Well I wanted to do a lot of Red Herrings and things like that. Maybe even implicate the Lich, but in the end that never came to pass. Season Three picked up many years later, with a small “Mini-series” in between.

The father of Brianna is Willow.

You can even see where (and when) I came up with the idea, http://edenstudiosdiscussionboards.yuku.com/reply/21984#reply-21984

During the adourflame the girls suffered provide the magical catalyst, and they were certainly having enough sex at the time. This is also (I am told) a fairly common theme in lesbian authored Sci-Fi stories, so I suppose I should not have been surprised there were so many fics out there of it.

Ghosts of Albion: A lot of what happened in Season of the Witch made it one way or the other into Ghosts of Albion. These were our play tests. Anamchara casting rules became “William and Tamara Casting Together”, faeries, expanded vampires, magical philosophies, all of it came from these games. Mages obviously never made it to Ghosts, but we also did not have Protectors in Season of the Witch (except Milicent, and she was only there in the beginning).
This lead to a number of discussions with Chris Golden, Amber, and all my players on how different were William and Tamara compared to Willow and Tara. The answer of course is not much at all.

This was the last time I played with that group. I had a more local group forming at this point and we were getting back into D&D and Ghosts of Albion. We played a lot of games, thus continuing my “conversions” threads over the years, but it was not the same without my witches.

Where are Willow and Tara now?

Well the character sheets (hundreds of them, for several dozen games) sit in a 4-inch binder in my game room.

The characters?

Willow created a small software company that produced a new type of data encryption method. It was quickly bought by a larger company making millions for Willow and Tara. Willow was hired by the same company as an executive consultant. She helps other companies set up her software to protect their data. Willow herself uses the same software on her home computers to protect all the magical texts she has scanned in over the years.
Willow took her money to have special Subaru Outback converted to a hybrid car.

Tara completed her degree and is teaching Art History at a local private school. She is also a youth councilor at the school. She still has her mother’s spellbook/journals as well as her own. She wants to complete a Ph.D. but thinks she will wait till after Brianna is older. She is also starting to think she wants another child.

Brianna is four and is the spitting image of Willow.

They all live in a converted Brownstone in Boston, MA. Tara takes her bike to work everyday (when it is cold she laments giving her dad’s car to the vampires). They have not seen Cordy again, but have heard of her and some of her charges. They have seen Dawn a few times, she is currently in medical school where she uses her psychic powers to diagnosis and treat patients.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 12

Episode 12: Torn

May/June, 2005
Heatherfield, WA

Willow and Tara spend more than a month with the Daughters of the Flame. They begin to feel a pull to the north, something summoning them.

They prepare to travel but Tara mentions being sick. Cordy scans her, but finds nothing wrong with her. She admits though as she is mage now her magic is different.

They arrive is a small town in Washington State called Heatherfield. Here they meet up with five young women fighting a giant dragon. Before they can help they are able to send through a portal. The women identify themselves as “The Guardians” and they have been protecting Earth from threats from the magical worlds for almost 10 years. They are younger than Willow and Tara, but act much older. When they are finally able to talk to them (they are not interested in what Willow and Tara have to say) they learn that the Veil is thinnest here and it is getting thinner by the minute.

There are some battles with various monsters that come through and Willow and Tara prove their worth to the five Guardians. Tara notes that in Tamara’s Journal she talked about creating the Veil to protect the lands of Faerie from humans and visa versa. The spell is in the book, but it is a very complicated one and it will take all seven of them to cast it. They debate, the five guardians are anything but united in their plans, but finally they decide to give it a try.

The ritual is cast. During this time the Witches’ Committee shows up to try to stop them but they are stopped themselves by S.A.V.E. The ritual hits a tumult and the veil is erected anew, but Willow is trapped on the other side and they can’t take it down now.

Notes: This one was going to be bigger but my group was falling apart at this point. The Guardians obviously are a take on the Guardians of Kandrakar from the comic book W.I.T.C.H., but also designed to be any type of elemental-based magic-girl. I wanted to explore why the universe would choose five teenage girls as the ultimate protectors. I figured it had something to do with innocence or something, but I never got the chance to really get too deep into it.
I wanted this episode to have a real anime feel to it. So there were a lot of magical battles. I let Willow and Tara fire bolts of magical energy that were cast like spells and did SL x3 + Willpower x2 amounts of damage. It made for an interesting time.

I wanted to play up how the Guardian girls were no longer connected to what they were and that had something to do with the weakening of the veil, but I don’t think I quite got it.

I did the cliffhanger ending here of Willow being on the other side of the veil when it went up. Yeah I know, separating the girls to cause angst was quickly becoming a cliché in this game, but this was the last time.

The Witches Committee and S.A.V.E. were back to provide some more antagonists/distractions.

Next up. There must be some kind of way out of here…

Friday, March 25, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 11

Episode 11: The Burning Times

April 30, 2005 (Beltane)

Willow and Tara are mad. They have spent the last month researching all things mage, “Awakening” and every prophecy they can find and there is nothing useful out there. Though lots of stories of mages going insane or accidently causing destruction wherever they go. Plus their Adourflame condition is getting steadily worse, now they can barely touch each other without setting something on fire. A quick kiss in the kitchen one night causes the microwave to explode. In fact they discover in their research that most fire-starting supernaturals are either evil or groomed by evil. Independently each discovers something that might help, the binding ritual they used on Amy and Beth to remove their own magic. They do not mention it to the other.

They do get a visitor in the form of Anya, who is here to represent Lilith. She tells them that they have learned that Witches’ Committee is pissed off and they will be sending operatives to come and get them soon. They change plans and instead look for a refuge since they figure out that the town will not be safe. They discover there is a coven of witches, The Daughters of the Flame, in Sacramento. Willow and Tara are certain they can teleport there on their own. Anya remains, not wanting to trust their new powers teleporting them to an unknown location.

Not a moment too soon either as Bob appears to tell them that there are Witches’ Committee operatives headed their way. Anya says she will try to stall them. The girls along with Bob and Cordy, teleport out.

Arriving at the covenstead Willow and Tara are surprised to see it is really a commune with a few score witches. As soon as Willow and Tara though arrive they are set upon. There is a scuffle but soon the leader of the coven, Mistress Brent, recognizes the two and kneeling she welcomes them “home”.

They all go to Brent’s office. Cordy and Bob are silent as Brent explains the history of this coven. Bob and Brent keep looking at each other, till finally Bob calls her “Cathy”. She gasps out loud and says “Robert?” Brent, like all the women here, takes a coven name that is some form of a Celtic Goddess’ name. She explains she has been expecting them for some time now. She knows they are the reincarnations of Bohdmal and Liath, the founders of this coven. She didn’t know that Liath/Tara was the daughter of Robert Mclay, a man she had known about, but never met. Tara’s mother had been raised by the coven and was sent out to work with a “Robert Mclay” many years ago. Brent blamed that man for Megan’s death. Though Brent is torn now that Megan’s own daughter is here, seeking aid and the reincarnation of Liath to boot. Cordelia asks her leave to report this situation to the Elders and find out what she needs to do.

The girls explain what their problem is, the magic and being followed by both the Witches Committee and Lilith. Brent doesn’t trust either side. Brent offers the coven’s library, but she has never heard of two witches that were becoming mages that were also Anamchara. Bohdmal and Liath were Anamchara, but they never became mages. Brent says it is an exciting time in their cycle of life to have become mages at this point and waxes on what their next life might be like. Willow doesn’t care about the next life, she wants this one, with Tara. Tara mentions the binding ritual. Brent says that would destroy their magic, all of it, and also remove them the witches’ cycle of life, death and rebirth. Plus there is the roll they have to play in the Awakening. Willow and Tara argue that a life that they can’t have each other is no life at all. Brent agrees that if they ask her to she will perform the binding. It also means that they will never see Cordy or Bob ever again, but it will stop the Witches Committee and Lilith from chasing them. But she asks for 24 hours so they can all research a better solution.

They all agree and set to work. Because of their position in the coven, Willow and Tara are given a “Guardian” by the name of Ceridwen and a research assistant named Brigh. Brigh is in awe over Willow and Tara, having studied Bohdmal and Liath all her life. She couldn’t help but notice that their auras were brighter than any she had ever seen and more strangely they were exactly the same. Brigh said that even married couples whose auras begin to blend still retain distinctive patterns. As an example she asks them to view her and Ceri. They had been handfasted a few years back (June 21, 1997) and legally married recently (in Cerri's home of Boston last year), though both agreed that their handfasting was the true date of their bond. Brigh mentions that her own aura had been disrupted due to exposure to Taint a few years ago and when she and Ceri fell in love and were married the interplay between their auras “smoothed out” the Taint. Willow and Tara are a little stunned to meet two married women and their thoughts turn to each other. Brigh notices this and studies their auras more carefully. She gasps and tells them the exchange spiked the power in their auras. She doubts that they have 24 hours. She doubts they have 2 hours in fact before their magical feedback blew a hole in reality.

With Brent involved now the girls begin to think very seriously about the binding ritual. Of course I had dropped a hint or two, but they asked not about a binding ritual, but a bonding one. They discovered that a handfast could do the same thing but also allow them to still use their magic as always. Taking that huge step they agreed. That evening they prepared. Robert stood for his daughter, Cordy for Willow and with Cerri and Brigh as witnesses. Brent performed the ceremony. The girls kissed for the first time in a month and their auras were visible to all.

The girls are given the night to consummate their marriage, but by morning the reality of their mission hits them again. The Witches Committee are at the coven’s doorstep demanding that they release Willow and Tara to them.
The Daughters of course refuse, but the Committee tells them that they are not capable of dealing with mages. If Willow and Tara were only “just witches” it would be fine, but the Committee was set up to deal with witches that become mages. Both sides agree to allow Willow and Tara to be seen by the Committee’s people (called The Keepers). To everyone, Willow and Tara’s auras no longer look like mages, but just really powerful witches. Though they still have their mage powers. The Keepers, seeing but not believing, challenge them both to a battle Arcane. If they are Mages then they will be fine, but have to go with the Keepers. If they are witches then they will loose, but can remain here. Before anyone can say anything though Willow is grabbed by the female Keeper and Tara by the male and they all phase. All four have been removed from the reality of the coven, though everyone can still see everyone else. Willow and Tara are also not in the same reality and can’t touch to get the benefit of being Anamchara. The battle progresses, and does so poorly for the girls. Willow is locked in a reality with her attacker and Tara is also locked with her own. Cordy and Bob both make different attempts to phase into either girl’s reality, only to run into a wall. Willow and Tara both try to exploit their own connections to somehow bring themselves together, but no luck there either.
Tara does notice that the aura’s of the Keepers are also strangely linked. She figured out (with some good rolls and a drama point) that these two must be sleeping together, but don’t want anyone else to know (she sees lust and guilt). She uses the binding ritual on the male keeper to pull him closer to his clandestine lover. They crash into each other, metaphysically speaking, a cancel the magics in place. Brent rules that since Tara defeated them both not with mage magic, but witch magic they don’t have to leave with them and they can stay here. The male Keeper, furious, knocks down Brent, pulls out a gun and fires on Tara. Willow throws up a barrier and the bullet ricochets off and hits the Keeper in his side. He lives, but will need surgery to repair is intestines.

Willow and Tara decide to remain with the Daughters as a “honeymoon” and as a way to be trained on their new mage powers.

Notes: Brigh was “played” as Lexa Doig, Ceri was Yancy Butler, Brent was played by Kate Jackson, I did not cast the Keepers, but any resemblance to certain Executive Producers or show runners I am sure is by coincidence only.

Ok what is going on here?
A few things. The Daughters of the Flame are a coven I had made for my 1999 AD&D Witch book. I had used the coven a number of times in my own works and games for years before that. Lisa, who had been helping write a bunch of these episodes and was my Tara had also, independent of me, used the Daughters in her own writing. Brigh, Ceri and Brent were her creations. I ran Brigh and Ceri through some WitchCraft adventures back in 2003-2004 (where Brigh picked up some Taint from a Mad God cult), so it was nice to have them back here. In my WitchCraft game at the time I specifically mentioned that Brigh can’t read auras. Ah well, I forgotten that. The Keepers were also her creation (though she only had one) and their job was to train Mages into assassins. I wanted them all here in Season of the Witch since their genesis was so related to the “witch culture” I had built in my own games (Mages were even Prestige Classes for witches in my later d20 book).

The Daughters also gave us the chance to poke a little fun at our selves, the Willow and Tara fan community. Often stereotyped as fanatical lesbians devoted to Willow and Tara above anything else, the daughters became (on the surface anyway) a group of fanatical lesbians who believe that Willow and Tara (or rather their past lives) were their reason for being. If the Wicce book had ever come out for the WitchCraft game you would have seen a more balanced view of the Daughters of the Flame. There were the “Eala” or swans that were more passive and the “Brenna” or ravens were more fanatical.

The date the girls were married is set in my world as April 30, 2005.
Marriage. If there is one thing that is debated more in W/T fan communities more than when they first had sex it is what sort of wedding the girls should have, if any at all. I forced the issue by well, forcing the issue. Since no situation would have appealed to all tastes I made it so they had to get married in order to preserve their magic. There is a nice little bit of parity there. To save their magic (which had been a metaphor for love) and likely the world they had to get married. The Keepers, who were having an illicit affair (the male Keeper was married), actually became their weakness. I don’t pretend to be subtle.
This is also the Gaelic Tree month of "Willow".  Again.  Not subtle.
Plus we wanted to talk about the whole same-sex marriage issue, it's not something a TV would do to be honest, at least not one at the time.

Originally there was going to more to this episode making a double episode really. Dawn was going to be there as well since she was taking college courses and still in town. Willow and Tara were going to “confront their Old Souls”, but we had kind of done that with The Dragon and the Phoenix. Cordy was mostly an NPC by now anyway, but I was happy she was at the wedding, someone from the Original Series there was nice. I had more political play between the Daughters and the Witches Committee but it never came out well in the game, so it was dropped. There was also more scenes with Willow/Tara and Brigh/Ceri. We did learn that Ceri’s birth name was Susan and she had played drums in an all girl KISS tribute band called LICK when she lived in Boston. Brigh had been born Amy Nakamura to a Japanese father and an Irish mother. She had lived in Toronto.  Amy's transformation into Brigh was part of the background for my Witch Guardian post.

Next up: The Cast travels north to find the Veil between realities is torn and the witches holding it together are not in the mood to hear some new-comers' ideas on how they are supposed to do their jobs; fated or no.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 10

Episode 10: Through a Glass Darkly

March, 2005
Sunnydale

Willow and Tara are preparing for a special dinner with Willow’s parents, Ira and Shelia. Bob has been trying to get them back on “the mission”, but has agreed that at the moment they don’t have any information on where to continue. Cordy is off in northern California looking for other witches that might know more about the Awakening. Not wanting to wait around to see this domestic scene (and maybe a little uncomfortable with the connotations of what the dinner means) Bob offers to spend some time shaking down the any supernatural locals that might be left over.

The girls spend some time discussing exactly what this dinner does mean and what it means to them. Willow was introducing Tara to her parents, not as her “friend” or even as her “college rebellion or experimentation”, but as her lover, the woman she wants to spend the rest of her life with. This of course has made Tara nervous to make sure everything is perfect. Willow is nervous not because of that, but because she wonders what then the next step has to be for them.

Willow attempts to engage Tara in a conversation about what their future is going to be, will they stay here, where should the live, what should they do. Tara is too busy frantically getting dinner ready. She was making sure everything was Kosher, using new pots, pans and kitchen utensils. Tara panics when she discovers the wine they have for cooking is not a Kosher one. Willow tells her not to worry about it, they had another wine, but Tara insists on running out to the store to get more. Willow says she wants to stay home and look up something. Tara runs out to the store.

Willow spends some time researching various topics, mostly anything about witches, historical or otherwise but ends up on the website about gay marriage in Massachusetts. There came a knock at the door. Followed by Tara’s “Hello?” Willow went to the door, shouting out to “come on in”. Tara replied back that she can’t. Willow mentioned that she was only supposed to get wine, not a bunch of stuff. Willow opened the door to and Tara is just standing there. She smiled at Willow, saying “thanks, I needed you to do that.” She vamped out and attacked Willow.

Tara (real Tara) walked into the house (they are staying at the Summers’). The door was wide open and she started calling for Willow. Willow said she was upstairs. Tara went upstairs and saw Willow sitting on the stairs. She was holding a towel to her neck, she had been bleeding. Tara freaks out and asks what happened. Willow indicated that what happened was currently in the bathroom puking her guts out. Tara tentatively walked into the bathroom to see herself doubled over the toilet throwing up blood. The vampire Tara looked up at her and said “oh great, you too.”

Tara freaked out and runs back to Willow, who is fine, mostly. Vampire Tara left the bathroom, she looked awful. Willow tells Tara that she accidently invited Vampire Tara in and she attacked her. As soon as she bit her though, she began to retch, claiming her blood was “all wrong”. Vampire Tara looked at Tara and said that hers was the same. Willow, still sitting on the stairs, said that she was here for something. Something she needed them for. Tara asked if she (VT) had said that, Willow (surprised) just said she knew.

Vampire Tara talked to Willow and Tara, now in the kitchen, and told them she wanted something and her spell somehow brought her here. Tara asked her doppelganger what she was looking for. Vampire Tara looked to both girls and said “Willow” or rather her Willow, the one that made her into a vampire. She had been staked, but she wanted her back. Tara began to explain how you couldn’t do that and her spell must have backfired and brought her here instead. Willow had been silent this whole time. She had cleaned up and was using a glamour to hide her neck.

She finally said that they would help Vampire Tara, which surprised both Taras. Willow says she knows of a spell. But they will have to go to LA to get it. Tara said they shouldn’t do it. Willow said that they have too. Tara asked to speak to Willow in private and argues that Willow’s parents are showing up in less than an hour they can’t do anything between now and then. At that point Robert appeared in the kitchen, seeing Tara and Vampire Tara, Robert rushes over to protect the girls. Vampire Tara saw Bob and vamped out, saying “I killed you! What are you doing here!” The two supernaturals were getting ready to attack when Tara tried to get in between them. Bob was demanding that they kill Vampire Tara, Vampire Tara was vamped out and trying to get to Bob. She looked over to Willow and said “Willow! Help me!”and Willow stood and walked over to Vampire Tara.

Everyone calmed down to a stalemate. Tara was starring at Willow in confusion. Vampire Tara laughed a bit and said “I didn’t get her blood, but I got enough of my salvia into her system to make her a thral. Oh it will wear off soon, but long enough for me to get what I came here for.”

Tara agreed to find the book needed to bring back Vampire Willow. Bob would go with her. Willow would stay with Vampire Tara as insurance. If Bob and Tara are not back by midnight (now almost 5 hours away) she was going to kill Willow and vamp her.

Tara called Cordy, who showed up, and orbed them to LA.

Vampire Tara turned to Willow and asked seductively what they were going to do with all that time? Willow told her matter of factly that she needed to change because her parents were going to be there in less than an hour for dinner.

Tara, Bob and Cordy ended up in a underground cavern in LA. Using the maps from Willow’s research Tara broke into a run. Bob and Cordy followed her.

Willow had Vampire Tara change clothes, and was telling her that she was going to behave herself for her parents tonight or the deal was off. Willow told Vampire Tara that she agreed to this not because of the vampire thral but something else. She knew the loneliness that she was feeling, the loss, and would do what she could to help her, but vampire Tara had to help her in turn.

Ira and Shelia showed up, bringing wine. Dinner began, Willow was nervous and quiet. Shelia kept talking and to everyone’s surprise Tara was quite chatty.
After dinner conversation began. Shelia though could not help but comment that Willow needed to think of her future, what she planned to do with her life. Shelia wandered over to the computer in the living room and saw the website open on gay marriages. Shelia asked Willow if that is what she really wanted and that is she wanted to do. She continued on about how sure, she was young and her time with Tara was exciting, but sometime she would have to grow up. Shelia asked her if she ever wanted to have children?
Tara finally had enough and defended Willow to Shelia. Telling her that she loves Willow and that is all they need.

Tara, Bob and Cordy worked their way to a temple. Inside there were scores and scores of vamps all on their knees chanting before a mummified figure. The figure stood up and beckoned them all closer. Cordy exclaimed “oh crap. A Lich.”

Tara demanded to know were the book they needed was. She used her nascent mage abilities (and a drama point) to set the kneeling vampires on fire. The Lich turns to her and tells her “that was very rude.”

Back at the dinner, Vampire Tara and Shelia are still arguing. Vamp Tara breaks down and tells Shelia how much Willow meant to her how she saw her when no one else did and how she took a shy, timid girl and made her into a strong woman and in the process did the same for herself. She said they were soulmates. Argument over, Ira agrees it is time they should go and maybe they would like to have breakfast in the morning.

They leave, and Willow goes back to Tara, still in the dinning room. She asked her if she had meant everything she had said and Vamp Tara said yes. She told Willow that without her, without her Willow, she didn’t see the reason to go on. She lifted her head and vamped out and said, “so if I can’t have her, I’ll have you.”

Tara (again the real one) was facing off with the lich. He called her a curiosity, that he had not seen her kind in a thousand years. She asked about the tome. He said he had it. She asked him if she had to fight him for it. He said, “No.” To everyone’s surprise. He told Tara he would give her the spell she wanted, for a small token, that one day she or her offspring would owe him a favor that he could call upon. Cordy and Bob told her not to do it. But Tara was desperate. She agreed. He asked for her hands. She brought them out and placed the spell parchment in them. She turned to go and he grabbed her wrist. His hand were strong and cold as iron. He left a black circle on the inside of her left wrist. A mark that would stay with her till she paid her debt.

Taking the spell Tara went back to Bob and Cordy and they orbed out.

Back at the house Willow had Vamp Tara on the other side of the table trying to keep it between them. The other orbed in with the spell. Vamp Tara calmed down.

Tara and Willow embraced and she gave Willow the spell. Reading it quickly she told vamp Tara they needed something of Vampire Willow’s. Vampire Tara goes to her duster and pulls out a pair of panties. Which gets looks from everyone. Vampire Tara corrects herself and says that her Willow hardly ever wore those and gives them a pair of padded bondage cuffs instead. Vampire Tara changes back into her regular clothes and Willow and Tara prepare the spell. (at this point my Willow player hands me a note).

They draw a circle in the basement and begin the spell. The spell is complex and even with Willow and Tara both reading it it takes some time. At one point Willow begins a secondary incantation, Tara keeps reading.

There is a flash of lightning and thunder. A rift appears that gathers itself into the shape of a woman. Another flash and the blackness becomes the naked form of Vampire Willow, pulled out of time and space. Vampire Tara runs over to her, putting her duster around her asking her if it is really her. Vampire Willow, confused, only looks up asnd said “you found me!”

Vampire Tara and Willow looked at their human counterparts and said “we don’t know how to repay you. Oh. Wait. Yes we do.” and they vamped out. They told the human girls that they were going to kill them and take their places in this new world. Tara gets ready to attack, but Willow says wait (and tosses me another Drama Point). Approaching Vampire Willow and Tara double over in pain and begin to scream. They fall to the ground while magical auras form around them. Soon they stand asking what they hell did they do. Though it is obvious. Willow had re-ensouled them both. Not needing the focus since they were soulmates they acted as each other’s focus. Willow told them they were not cursed, they could be happy together, just as long as they didn’t kill anyone and they stayed out of each other’s ways.

New unlife at hand Vampire Willow and Tara drive off into the night in Bob’ Thunderbird (much to Bob’s chagrin). Tara tells Willow that her spell was amazing and Willow tells Tara getting the time and space spell was also fantastic. She asked Tara how she got it so fast, and Tara promises to tell her some time.

The next morning Willow, Tara, Shelia and Ira all have a much more pleasant breakfast at the Rosenberg’s. Shelia tells Tara that her words last night really touched her and she would be proud to have Tara in her family.

They are leaving and Willow promises her mom that she will not be so much of a stranger anymore and that she is happy to bring Tara over. Shelia tells her Ira really likes Tara, but could not help but think she was a vampire!

Notes: Ok bit of a shift here. Less action and more drama. My Willow player had the idea from the start to re-ensoul Tara and Willow when she had the chance. She planned it well and paid me enough drama points to do it.

Tara’s player played both Tara and Vampire Tara. Which was a lot of fun.

I was beginning to lose my group here, so the big magical battle with Magnus (the lich) was scrapped in favor of the more horrific Faustian deal. Also my Willow player had to play Cordy in this session too.

No overt allusions to the Awakening except at the very beginning. I wanted to focus on characters here.

Giving up the Thunderbird was a spur of the moment idea by my Tara player. They felt they could teleport via the Ghosts of Albion spell to anywhere they really needed to go. I revisited them in my WitchCraft adventure "Vacation in Vancouver" they had joined the supernatural night life there and basically enjoying the hell out of themselves.  They had not killed anyone, but had plenty of willing volunteers to give them the blood they needed. 

Tara’s debt is not dealt with anytime soon, but becomes a major plot point for the next season.

The title is an allusion to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s book In a Glass Darkly that gave us the first lesbian vampire tale “Carmilla”. As well as the Through the Looking Glass website, a site dedicated to all sorts of alt-reality Willow and Tara fics. http://www.uberwillowtara.com/

Next up: The girls come into their full power, but they might not be able to deal with it. Plus the Witches’ Committee is back and they are not happy about getting a depowered Amy and Beth instead of Mages Willow and Tara.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 10 Teaser

Episode 10: Through a Glass Darkly

Introduction

Willow and Tara were standing in front of a full-length mirror. Willow was looking very pleased, Tara looked uncomfortable. Tara was wearing a simple black skirt and blue sweater. The sweater's neckline plunged to reveal some cleavage, not much, but enough, and in a way to make her neck look longer. The skirt itself was cut a mid-calf above her knees.
"I don't know Will." Tara said after looking at herself from a couple of different angles.
"What? You look beautiful." Willow admonished.
"But is this appropriate for dinner with your parents. I mean they are coming here to give us their stamp of approval, and I want to make a good impression. I don't want." Willow covered Tara's lips with a finger. Then replaced it with her own lips.
"First. You look beautiful. Second. Mom and Dad are both in town at the same time anyway. Third. We don't need their stamp of approval. Fourth. You look beautiful."
"You mentioned that one twice." Tara said with a crooked smile.
"Because it is true." Willow turned Tara around to face the mirror. "You are a young, beautiful woman. You should let the world know and see."
"But I have never been very comfortable showing off so much." Tara said, then a side long glance. "But if you had your way I'd be in corsets and mini-skirts all the time."
"Well not all the time." A slight raise in Willow's voice and the innuendo was clear. "So, I like girly-girls, and you girly-girl are hot."
"You really think I am hot?" Tara said still looking in the mirror. "It's weird, I never could see myself as hot." Fade into the mirror.

A flash in the same mirror, only now it is dark and there is no reflection.
"It's weird" said Tara. "I can't see myself and yet I still know I am f**king hot."

Tara was standing in front of the mirror. She was wearing a flimsy blue blouse that barely covered her chest. A black lace bra pushed her pale cleavage upward and showed off her assets well. The bottom half of the blouse was unbuttoned to show off her navel ring against pale skin. The black leather skirt was split almost up to her hips, offering a just a tease of what might lie beneath. The dark red lipstick she was wearing contrasted so sharply with her pale skin that her lips almost seemed black.

"Now. To get what I want." She turned from the mirror to a small table covered with lit candles, an athame and a cup. The cup looked like it was filled with blood. She picked up the athame and slid it into a sheath in her boot.
She reached down to grab a sheet of parchment and a picture.
She read the spell with a hand placed on the picture.

Coming soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 9

Episode 9: Web of Lies

January, 2005
Sunnydale

Willow and Tara are back in Sunnydale. Cordy wants to report to the Elders so she orbs out. Bob wants the girls to continue their mission, but they tell him they have other things that they need to do first. The town is very quiet. Since the destruction of the hellmouth nexus in the Dragon and the Phoenix, supernatural activity is at all time low. Their friends are all away on various errands of their own (and thus not appearing in this episode). Some things are as they left them; the Bronze is still closed, but there is a new bar in town, “Hanger 61” that is a converted airplane hanger.

Tara needs to go to campus to pick up her transcripts so she can apply to grad school. Willow joins her.
On campus they notice that people are starring at them a lot. At first they think it is because they are holding hands, but it is more than that. They decide to stop a student, who gets too flustered to talk. Finally they get someone that can speak them, but all he wants to know is if they are doing their webshow tonight. Confused they ask for details and get a url. Back at home they try it out, but first Bob interrupts by saying that outside of small pack of vamps there is nothing on this town, no demons, no ghosts, nothing. It is like the metaphysical equivalent of a ghost town, pardon the pun. By this time the site loads and it is a pay porn site featuring Willow and Tara and a bunch of other naughty witches! The site is very x-rated and there is a notice that tonight at midnight PST there will be another free show.

Willow hacks in immediately and tracks down the source to a rundown hotel outside of town. The go there to discover Amy and Beth have been using glamours to disguise themselves as Willow and Tara. But that is not the worse part, Amy and Beth then proceed to use magic to kick Willow and Tara out and they put up a shield even they can’t get through.

Willow and Tara head back to the house where they hit the books and the computers. They discover that recently a lot of young men have been admitted to the ER with symptoms of massive dehydration. Normally this might stand out, but the supernatural activity is so low that it is accepted as the norm. Willow coordinates the times admitted and all happened within six hours of Amy and Beth’s free broadcasts. Tara is able to determine that the symptoms perfectly match that of a succubus attack.
Eventually they piece together enough information that leads them to believe that Amy and Beth are somehow using succubi (most likely the other girls) to drain people over the web. Since they are drawing from an audience of thousands they only need a little bit from each, though some are more prone to succubi attacks. Willow checks the subscriptions and it seems the largest audience ever is due tonight. And midnight is just a few more hours away.

CUT SCENE

A young woman gets off a bus. She is wearing a long heavy coat that seems out of date as well as too much. She walks away from the bus after conferring with a piece of paper in her hands. He movements are not unnoticed as a solitary vampire begins to follow her. A nearly imperceptible signal and soon more gather.
The young woman, no more than a teenager really, moves forward, headless of her surroundings. She turns down an alley and the vampires close in.

“Not so fast little lady. Don’t you know it isn’t safe to walk the streets alone?” Laughs as she looks around only now seeing her mistake.
“I am afraid this will have to cost you. An' here we only have one price for everything.” The vampire switches to game face. The woman squints at the vampire and says “Kyuuketsuki?” The lead vampire looks confused then suddenly bursts into flames. Soon the gathered crowd one by one bursts into flames. They scream and soon there is nothing left but ash.
Unaffected the young woman goes back to looking for her address.


Cordy confirms that there have been succubi in the area. Tara asks if the pact they made with the Mormo and Lilim will extend to Succubi and Cordy say she doubts it as succubi are fiercely independent. Bob returns and tells the girls that something has killed the last pack of vampires in town. He doesn’t know what it was, but all that was left was ash.

The cast plans to assault the run down hotel just before midnight, reasoning that Amy and Beth will need the shield down to get the essence from their web broadcast.

They get to the hotel and prepare their attack when they are all stopped by a ring of fire. Willow is able to dispel it with ease (more ease than I wanted her too) and soon they are confront by the young woman from the cut scene. She doesn’t talk to them but attacks with magical bolts of fire. Willow and Tara are able to dodge them (thanks to the then new magical dodge rules we had made for Ghosts), but Bob is not so lucky. He is hit and it hurts. Not a lot of damage, but enough to know that he can be hurt. The girls attack with magical strikes of their own, but they seem to have no effect. They do notice that with every hit the cross the girl wears around her neck glows green. Cordy orbs in, grabs it and orbs away (but not as far away as she wanted). A magical bolt from Willow sends the girl (Robin) down. In the attack though they missed their chance and the barrier has been down for several long minutes.
They burst into the hotel room expecting to see the live show, but instead they seem Amy and Beth glowing as energy is pouring into them. The Succubi are standing around the webcam and drawing the energy from it into the other witches.

Amy and Beth monologue a bit while getting ready to fight. The sucbubi are drawing magical essence from the viewer via a computer that Amy found when she went to go recruit the three nerds to help in her revenge plans. Not finding them she found all this equipment and a huge stash of net porn. Amy joined her a couple months back; she had left home right after Willow and Tara did and came straight here. Amy and Beth get all the magical boost from the viewers, who are dying now, and the succubi get all the souls. There is no need to film this time as the succubi are feeding each viewer their own personal show via illusion.

What begins is a Battle Arcane from the Ghost of Albion rules. Amy and Beth vs. Willow and Tara. Of course I have Amy and Beth more powerful. The battle begins and goes for a few turns. Cordy and Bob are busy fighting off the succubi. The entire time Amy taunts Willow telling her about all the people that are going to die.

Robin wakes up and comes into the hotel room. Willow tells her to destroy the computer, Willow and Tara can’t break the Battle Arcane and Cordy and Bob can’t get near it. She doesn’t seem to understand, so Tara repeats it in Latin first and then Japanese. Getting it, a lance of flame launches out and destroys the computer, webcam and the link. Amy and Beth power down and Willow and Tara get in their last blow rendering them unconscious. The succubi then “shimmer” (demonic teleportation) out, escaping.

Tara quickly runs up to the prone girls and cuts a strand of hair from each to perform a binding spell. She binds Amy’s and then Beth’s powers. Willow joins the spell, and Robin gives her aid, speaking the incantation in Latin.

There is a tense scene where Robin is looking Willow and Tara up and down. Tara tells her they don’t want to fight anymore, they just wanted to stop these two. Cordy orbs between them and tells her if she won’t believe them, believe her. The girl, stunned to see a Whitelighter again this time bows her head low. She tells Tara she was only following orders from her Superiors. The orders were simply, go to Sunnydale, find the two most powerful witches and bring them in alive if possible or dead. But if the witches have a Whitelighter such as Cordy, then they can’t be evil.
Robin tells them who she is working for, Solomon HQ, but knows nothing else. She says she can’t go back to Rome empty handed, so she decides to take Amy and Beth with her. After all, she says, they were more powerful. Willow, in a fit of revenge, glamours Amy and Beth to look like her and Tara respectively. Saying, well they wanted to be us so badly.

The equipment is all destroyed and the Cast leaves before the Solomon pick-up team comes to claim Robin and the fallen witches.

Back at home Tara is watching the news and there has been a rash of ER cases, which authorities are claiming is due to the college dorm food. Willow is online searching. Cordy reports back that Solomon is the real deal, a group of witch hunters dating back to King Solomon himself. She says that they only hunt evil witches and have been focusing on that. Willow hacks into their databases and discovers that the order to get them came from the highest levels and their names were mentioned specifically in the order, but were ordered to be removed when field agents got the assignment. She discover that the request to have them “bagged and tagged” came from Morgan, the leader of the Witches Committee.

Notes:
Lot going on here. Robin of course is Robin Sena from Witch Hunter Robin. I had been wanting to do another assassins go after Willow and Tara episode, but only have the assassin turn sides to help them. The setting up of Amy and Beth was one of those things that came up in the writing and it fit so well I had to use it. I had plans to use them again after this, though originally this was going to be a double episode.

Robin taking out the vamps was snark on my part. The original series spent so much time and energy in the kill and here comes my guest star who can kill them WITH HER MIND! Yeah, snark.

Again we have Willow and Tara performing the finale magical spell with another witch. This time it is Robin for 3 witches, before it was the Charmed ones for 5. We still have 7 as one of magical numbers to go. Plus a binding cast by three witches (“The power of three times three”) is very powerful.

The Witches Committee sent Robin after them, feeling that Willow and Tara were not going to do what they wanted. Again more doubt on their real agenda. Did they stop them thinking they were going to close the portal and that is what they wanted, or did they try to stop them thinking the girls were going to open it up and they didn’t want that.

The astute will notice a lot of things here that later made it into the Ghosts of Albion rules. Obviously the Battle Arcane (“Magical Duels”), magical dodges, philosophies got their start here, and the spell “Barrier Reduction Bolt”. This is also where the primary offensive spells “Azure Wave” and “Energy Dart” came from.

I brought in Amy, Beth and succubi, and really underused them all. I only had vauge stats for succubi since I didn’t see them as combat monsters. The pairing of Amy and Succubi pleased my Tara player who had once commented that Amy was probably half-succubus anyway.
The succubi were all named after various TV critics that claimed killing Tara was a good idea back in S6.
No. We were not bitter at all. For the record they were Amy, Wendy, Wanda and Kristen (the twins), Kitty and Candy. Sure not “demonic” names, but it worked. A prize if anyone can tell me who these people were.

The main feature of this episode was though the girls had come home, this was not the same place. Their friends were gone, the places they hung out were gone, even the supernatural creatures were all gone. And to top it all off the one thing new in their lives, the “mission”, followed them home and almost killed them. The Awakening was not waiting for them.

"Hanger 61" is an homage to this alternative bar I hung out at in the late 80s, "Hanger 9", which was an airplane hanger, and this dive goth bar "611" I was at in the early 90's.

The "massive dehydration" line was an in joke.  Alyson Hannigan was doing an interview (for Jay  Leno I think) years ago where she mentioned she had worked at a video store for a while.  She talked about this customer who would come in and rent this stack of porn every morning and return them the next day for another stack.  She said she always wondered why he wasn't dehydrated or something.


Up next: What is scarier than facing vampires, demons, hell gods and ancient timeless evils??
Having your parents over to dinner to properly meet your lesbian lover.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 9 Teaser

Teaser for Episode 9: Web of Lies

Willow on a webcam, wearing only g-string and shear teddy and sitting on a bed: "Ever want to know all those dirty little secrets we keep here in Sunnydale? Ever wonder what we really do in those young wiccan meetings? Well Join me and my very naughty girlfriend (Tara crawls into the scene dressed similarly and begins to nuzzle Willow's neck) for our totally nasty, totally live web show tonight at midnight. I promise you it will be magic.
Join all of us, Young Amy (a very innocent girl joins them on the bed), we don't know how old she really is, but we do know she taught us a few things, and the nasty twins, Kristen and Wanda (two girls, twins, crawl on to the bed to join the other three). Join us tonight at the witching hour of midnight for the show. And leave the credit card in your wallets boys, this show is free!" (All the girls begin making out with each other). Willow stops in the middle of a three way kiss, "see you tonight."

Willow and Tara in their living room watching the action on the computer screen in utter horror.
A pause then Tara says "What the fu--!?"

--

CUT SCENE

A young woman gets off a bus. She is wearing a long heavy coat that seems out of date as well as too much for California. She has auburn hair that is tied up in elaborate pig tails and wears an unflatering pair of half-moon glasses. She walks away from the bus after conferring with a piece of paper in her hands. Her movements are not unnoticed as a solitary vampire begins to follow her. A nearly imperceptible signal and soon more gather.
The young woman, no more than a teenager really, moves forward, headless of her surroundings. She turns down an alley and the vampires close in.

"Not so fast little lady. Don't you know it isn't safe to walk the streets alone?" Laughs as she looks around only now seeing her mistake.

"I am afraid this will have to cost you. An' here we only have one price for everything." The vampire switches to game face. The woman squints at the vampire and says "Kyuuketsuki?" The lead vampire looks confused then suddenly bursts into flames. Soon the gathered crowd one by one bursts into flames. They scream and soon there is nothing left but ash.

Unaffected the young woman goes back to looking for her address.


Friday. Episode 9: Web of Lies.
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