Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts

Friday, November 17, 2017

Skylla: Quest of the Ancients

I am posting this as part of the RPG Blog Carnival for November: The Past Revisited hosted by Campaign Mastery. This is a sequel to all my Skylla posts and my Quest of the Ancients posts.

Quest of the Ancients is one of those games I keep coming back to.
Not for the game itself mind you, but for the witch class.  Author Vince Garcia's love and devotion to the witch is equal only to my own and it shows in his game.

I reviewed the game a while back.  I figure it is close enough to *D&D that I should give my Skylla a try.

Skylla
Level 7, human Witch

Armour rating: 1
Tactical move: 10'
Stamina points: 18 (Die: d4)
Body points: 10
Stots: St 9; Ag 11; Cn 10; IQ 15; Ch 12; Ap 12: Lk 7
Attack 1
Dmg: 1D4+1 (dagger) or by spell
Ethics: E
Size: 5'4", 130#

Witch Abilities
A: Create Focus (Demon skull helm)
B: Additional Combat Skill Slot (4 total)

Skills (150 points)
Animal Handling: 25%
Herbalism: 40%
Nature Lore: 40%
Read & Write (Elvish): 45%

Spells
Rank 1: Beguile, Helping Hands, Light Ball, Magic Dart, Read Magic Script, Unlock
Rank 2: Discern Magic, Fire Darts, Fire Tounge, Net, Night Sight, Witch Wand
Rank 3: Charm, Electric Arc, Sheet Lightning, Witch Knock
Rank 4: Lirazel's Globe of Invulnerability, Staff of Absorption

Very interesting.  Her combat is not quite as good and it's harder to learn new languages.  But she gets a lot more spells.




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Save Versus All Wands: Witches in Early D&D

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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

I have been keeping this one under wraps for now, but it's Halloween and it's the time for witches.



Cover art by the wonderful Marlena Mozgawa, Lenamo Art. http://www.lenamo.art and https://lenamoart.deviantart.com/.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light includes:

  • Seven levels of the Witch Class with three brand new witch traditions
  • new, never before published witch spells
  • rules for familiars and ritual magic
  • new spells, monsters and magic items for Swords & Wizardry Light/Continual Light

All in 13 pages for your Halloween games.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is designed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Friday, October 13, 2017

Witch Superstitions

It's Friday the 13th! Always a special day here at The Other Side, but a Friday the 13th in October? That's practically a national holiday here!

I am participating in the RPG Blog Carnival for October on Superstitions. Hosted by Of Dice and Dragons.

Witch Superstitions

In my games, witches have a lot of superstitions.  Actually many believe they HAVE to do these things or their magic will be in jeopardy.  It is one of the defining features of the witch as opposed to wizards, clerics, druids or other types of spellcasters.

Most of these are designed with roleplaying flavor in mind, if anything I would say that if they don't follow them they get an immediate -1 on their next roll or where appropriate.

Brooms
- A witch never buys a new broom in May.  "New broom in May, sweep your family away."
- A witch never takes an old broom to a new house.  When the new house has a broom an old broom may be brought in.
- If a broom falls it means a stranger is coming. Or that someone is under a curse.
- Newlyweds should jump over a broom after a handfasting to ensure a good marriage.
- Floors are never swept widdershins, west to east or left to right.
- Knocking a broom handle on the floor (bristles up) three times will remove mischievous fairies.
- If a broom breaks while being used it will bring bad fortune on the whole house.

Cauldrons and Pots
- A witch never stirs a cauldron, pot, or even her teacup widdershins (counter clockwise). Stirring widdershins is allowed when brewing a curse or when you want bad things to happen.
- Cauldrons must be seasoned prior to proper use.  A cauldron not seasoned will never produce acceptable results, whether this is a potion or soup.  Use the most common type of animal fat available.  Typically an old mother hog who is past her own season is the best.
- The ember to light the cauldron fires after Samhain must come from a fire that was started before Samhain.

Food and home
- A witch never uses salt at the table.  If you do, throw some over your left shoulder first.
- Breaking a cobweb is good luck.
- Finding a spider is a good omen.
- A portrait falling from a wall is a omen of death.
- A cracked mirror is ill-fortune for the one that cracked it and the one that sees it first.
- Cat on your threshold means you will have a visitor soon.
- A Cardinal (or a red bird common to your area) singing in your garden means an old friend will contact you.
- if your cat hisses at a stranger do not let them into your home.
- Plant roses and lavender in your garden for luck.
- Crooked windows will keep rival witches from flying into your home.
- Bury a horseshoe under your front step to kept evil spirits from your home.
- Burn sage in a home to remove evil spirits.
- If you believe your house is haunted, move the furniture to new positions to confuse the spirits.  If the furniture is moved to same places they were before you could have a boggart.
- Ring bells to remove evil spirits
- If someone knocks their chair over when getting up from a meal it is a sign they lied.
- Never lay money on the table before eating.
- Never shake hands or kiss in a threshold.
- If three or more witches gather in a home the youngest (or lowest level) must make the tea and serve it to the oldest (or highest level) first.

Personal
- Wear black on Wednesdays, wear purple on Sundays.
- Do not sleep with wet hair, your dreams will portend madness.
- If a witch must go to a church or temple of another god she should sit in the back row.
- Always start new endeavours facing East. Never start something new on a Friday.
- when making a camp, sleep with your feet pointed in the direction you will be headed in the morning for quick and speedy travel.
- properly dispose of all nail clippings and fallen hairs to prevent another witch from casting a spell on you.
- if you have to speak the name of an enemy, spit on the ground after you speak it.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Burn Witch Burn! (1962)

Also known as Night of the Eagle, this is one of the many versions of Fritz Lieber's Conjure Wife and one of my favorite versions of it.

this version cleaves much better to the spirit of the book, but it is also missing significant portions of the book and some of the elements that made to book so good.  In particular, it changes the entire ending.  To be fair, the movie ending fits the movie better, but I do prefer the book ending more.

The whole bit where Tansy looses her soul is also missing.  The movie does not suffer for it, but the story has less punch.

Janet Blair and Peter Wyngarde are very good as the young college professor and his witch wife Tansy.  They look very much like I would expect them to look from the book.

My son Connor did not watch this with me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Initiation of Sarah (1978, 2006)

Ok. This one didn't post either.

The 70s were weird.  Today I might draw a very distinct line between "witches" and "psychics" and even online they are considered different things depending on who you ask. 
The 70s, not so much. 

Case in point, one of my favorite 70s guilty pleasures, The Initiation of Sarah from 1978.
I think for the longest time I associated sororities with witchcraft. 

The story follows two girls, Sarah and Patty Goodwin, raised as sisters as they go college and pledge in different, competing, sororities. 

Patty, the overtly pretty one, is accepted to Alpha Nu Sigma (ΑΝΣ) and Sarah, the other one, accepted to the weird Phi Epsilon Delta (ΦΕΔ).  Patty has to deal with Alpha bitch Morgan Fairchild played in only the way Morgan Fairchild can while Sarah has to deal with likely drunk (in the story and real life) Shelly Winters.

It seems to me that both houses are in truth witch covens and have been at war with each other since, well, who knows how long.

The film is pure ABC Made for Television cheese really and not a lot to redeem it.  But I love it to this day.  So many untapped ideas here.

The movie was remade in 2006 as a, you guessed it, a made for TV movie.

This time Sarah is played by the far more attractive Mika Boorem and her sister Lindsay, played by Summer Glau (who gets on my nerves).  Morgan Fairchild is back and still look great and playing the alpha bitch. This time she is the girls mother, but you will be forgiven if you think she is playing the same character.  Jennifer Tilly replaces Shelly Winters.

There are differences in the plot, mostly to bring it upto date, and others that actually make sense.  Are you a virgin and about to be sacrificed? Yeah, there is a way to fix that. And they do.

Different people die, different people live.  It is cut from the same block of cheese as the original and despite some better acting (not Summer Glau, she is horrible) it doesn't fare as well.  Must be the nostalgia.

In 10 years I want another remake, this time with Morgan Fairchild in the Shelly Winters role.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rosaleen Norton: The Witch of Kings Cross at a 100

Rosaleen Norton would have been 100 years old today.

She was an occultist, artist, nude model, bi-sexual, and self-proclaimed witch all in a time when women barely had the same civil rights as men.

I first discovered her art back, like many things with me and witches, in the 70s at my local public library.
I am not sure what book it was.  I was convinced that she had done a lot of drugs to get these images onto canvas, but I certainly underestimated her.

Recently I had read a bio about her, not a very long one, and how she seemed to have been born to create the life she really wanted. She had numerous obstacles thrown at her, but none of those kept her from being who she was.
You have to respect that.

Even if you do not know her name it is likely you know her art.  She had painted a number of images over the years including one of my favorite pictures of Lilith (below). 

She had even been charged with obscenity in Austrailia.





Does this remind anyone of Orcus?

You can find out more about her here:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/history/the-witch-of-kings-cross.aspx

Fohat
One of Rosaleen Norton's most controversial images was that of a demon she called Fohat.  Representing male sexual power the demon has a goat's head, a man's upper body and a snake for a phallus.  Describing this work, she stated that "The goat is the symbol of energy and creativity: the serpent of elemental force and eternity."  Needless to say, it got her into some trouble.

In the writings of Theosophy Fohat is a force of male sexual potency. Norton obviously knew this background.  The question for us though is Fohat a unique demon or a species?  He is likely an incubus, but given the proper name, I am going with "the Lord of Incubi". 

Here is for use with my Swords & Wizardry Warlock book.

Fohat
Hit Dice: 13
Armor Class: -1 [20]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d6+3) or 1 weapon (1d10+3)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Magic resistance (35%), immune to fire, Lilim Abilities, dual forms, Wisdom  drain, blood drain, magical abilities, +2 magic weapons to hit, charming voice
Move: 12
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 24/5,300

Fohat is the Lord of Incubi. They revere him, not due to his ability in combat, but by the number of warlocks he has at his command.  There are others though that do challenge his title, but none that are willing to go to war over it.
Fohat appears as a lare man with a goat's head, a man's upper body and the lower portion of a goat. His phallus is a large snake.
While evil, Fohat is the epitome of a "Lover, not a fighter" and he would rather charm his way out of a situation than fight his way out.  His voice acts as if hee had a constant Charm Person spell cast and anyone listening to it must save vs. Charm at a -3 or be unable to physically attack him.  Even races immune to charming magic can be affected.
His numerous offspring are all Tieflings of a demonic sort.

Fohat is difficult to classify. He shows all the same abilities of one of the Lilim races, but also appears to be part of the Shedim race of demons.  He is old, but none (so far) have postulated that he is an Eodemon.

Pacts with Fohat
Fohat takes on young warlocks willingly.  Some even say enthusiastically.  While he prefers female warlocks, he will take on the odd male warlock with high charisma.  The initiate must summon Fohat into a circle. Typically other warlocks of Fohat will summon him with the initiate warlock placed in the circle.  The pact is sealed with an act of sexual intercourse with the demon.  Warlocks and Witches may form a Grand Coven dedicated to Fohat and they are expected to partake in a Bacchanal on every new moon.
The pact with Fohat is a demonic pact and has all the features of a demonic pact as described on page 7.  Additionally, Fohat's warlocks may impose a -2 penalty to anyone attempting to make a saving throw against their charm spells.   Warlocks of the Lord of Incubi may also cast the "Bewitch" spells normally available only to witches.




Saturday, September 30, 2017

Zatannurday: Sabrina the Teenage Witch Returns to TV

Sorta-kinda-Zatanna related.


The CW is looking to bringing back Sabrina the Teenage Witch!

http://archiecomics.com/sabrinatv/
http://uproxx.com/tv/chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-tv-series-teenage-witch-riverdale-companion/



I never watched the Melissa Joan Hart series, but I knew all about it.

This new series is based on The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina comic.  No idea if it will be part of the Riverdale universe or not, but it should be fun.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Ritual: Reunification of Life

It's almost October and naturally, my thoughts turn to vampires.



A while back, many years now, I had a player who played a ranger (back in 2nd ed).  This ranger was later killed and turned into a vampire by no less than Strahd von Zarovich himself.  I thought that was the end of the character (the player had left school by then).   Years later I brought the character in as an NPC vampire. I wanted a vampire that had a backstory and some history as a human first.
At some point though near the end of my 3rd Edition game, I thought about bringing back this character as a recurring NPC.  Then something interesting happened. I got in contact with the original player via the then new thing called Facebook and I changed my mind.  I want to bring her back as a human now.

This got me started on an idea for a MacGuffin to bring a vampire back to full life.  We have seen things like this before in media. I know it happened on "Angel" and I am pretty sure it happened on "True Blood" and in other shows.  The one thing though they have all had in common is that to make it happen requires something really, really special.  Yes at this point someone will say "but what about 'Near Dark'?" well, I liked Near Dark, but that was the biggest problem I had with the movie.  It turned vampirism into a blood disease, and not even a very powerful one.  Plus don't you think if a blood transfusion could have fixed it then others would have done it already?

Also at this point, someone might bring up the spells "Raise Dead" or "True Resurrection".  We always ruled that these spells would kill any undead creature.  Clerics are known for two things in most editions of D&D; healing and turning undead.  Both are power investitures by divine agents.  So the ultimate expression of that power, the ability to bring the dead back to life, would follow the same logic and cause harm to the undead.   Plus in my games, we house ruled that it could not bring the dead back from undeath.  Vampirism is also a curse.

Now depending on your point of view the victim of vampirism has either lost their soul (the "Buffy" vampires) or their soul is trapped in their vampire bodies (the "Dracula" or "White Wolf" vampires).  Either way, the soul of the person is in peril.   (Consequently, this is also why I don't let Elves become vampires in my game; they have spirits, but not souls. Dark elves have connections to demons that allow them to become vampires.)

For this spell, I knew I wanted it to be difficult. So only the highest level spellcasters could cast it. I wanted it to be the magical equivalent of brain surgery.  So like surgery, it is not performed alone.

I also knew I wanted "three" to be a part of it.  Three is a magic number. Mind, Body, and Soul. Three types of magic; Arcane, Divine, and Occult/Witchcraft. And in many of my games three principal types of spellcasters.

Also known as "The Glorious Ritual of Reunification of Life, Soul, and Body by means Divine, Arcane, and Occult", but more commonly known as "Reunification of Life".

Reunification of Life
Level: Witch Ritual 8 (Magic-User 9, Cleric 7)
Ritual Requirements: At least 3 spellcasters; A witch, wizard, and cleric.
Range: One Vampire
Duration: Permanent
This ritual is a rare one, not just in terms of its availability, but also in its nature. The ritual is known to be part of the Malificus Necrologium (aka "The Book of Dead Witches ('dead witch names')").  Included in the ritual are the invocations needed to be made a witch, the evocations needed by a wizard and the prayers required of the cleric.  The ritual only details the means to restore a willing vampire to life, not an unwilling one.
As part of the ritual, the vampire must not partake in blood for three days prior to the ritual. This begins during the last nights of the new moon. In many cases, this will make the vampire difficult to control.  On the first night of the waxing crescent, the vampire must take a ritual bath in purified (but not sanctified) water.  Preferably this is from a natural spring. If the water is warmed from the earth, this is better.
On that night at Midnight, the ritual begins.
The vampire, wearing only a simple white linen robe lays on a simple wooden altar within a Thaumaturgic Triangle.  The points of the triangle face east, south and west in a deosil or sunwise orientation.  The cleric must stand at the East and begin their prayer.  The wizard must stand at the south and begin their casting. The witch stands at the west and begins her spell.
During the course of the night (6 hours of constant casting) the casters will respectively summon up Air to represent the Soul, Fire to represent the Life, and Earth to represent the renewal of Body.

During the night agents of evil will attempt to stop the ritual as the loss of a vampire is a great blow to the forces of the night.  For this reason, the ritual also suggests an outer circle of non-casters (referred to as "Cowans") to keep the evil at bay so the casting can continue uninterrupted.

If all goes well the spell end right before dawn as the light of a new day shines on the former vampire for the first time.

Many witches have noted that the optimal time for this spell is during the waxing crescent moon on the Summer solstice.

Alterations to ritual have been recorded.
At least one attempt was made on a mummy, but the spell failed. It was speculated that this was due to lack of internal organs, or due to the different relationship, the mummy has with the negative material plane or even the age of the mummy.
A spectre was successfully returned to life, but only after a Remove Curse had been cast on it.
The spell has not been tried on a lich since no lich has volunteered to be returned to life of their own free will.

In other cases, a druid was used instead of a cleric and a necromancer instead of a wizard.  Both times met with success, though some sages doubt these are accurate claims. 
Most of these claims are difficult to ascertain due to most copies of this ritual are currently missing.

This ritual should not be something that the PCs have easy access to. Nor should it be something they hear a rumor about and then pop over to a forgotten library to get.  There should be an epic quest to retrive the book (or books! maybe it was split into three by the forces of evil). This needs to be epic quest, "season finale" stuff.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Witch's Tea Ritual

"You can find a witch just by figuring out who is drinking the most tea in the village."  
- Halfling saying

I read a lot of books on witches. An inordinate amount really.  The one thing that has seemed to have entered into the cultural zeitgeist of most modern witch authors is that witches, in general, are addicted to tea.   Good, bad, or somewhere in between these seems to be the brew of choice for many witches.

Any witch with the ability to Brew Potions (either as a class ability or feat) can also Brew Tea.

Often the materials needed for brewing tea are much less expensive than what a witch might need for a full alchemical workshop.  Even witches with no interests in alchemy as a science can and will brew tea.

Equipment
The tea brewing witch needs the following to brew any sort of tea; magical or mundane.
Full Tea set.  This includes
- Teapot, porcelain or silver, never copper.
- Pot, kettle, or small cauldron to boil water, this should be copper
- silver tea infuser
- cups, saucers, plates, spoons for 4-6
- urn for sugar
- small pitcher for cream or milk
- serving plate for cakes or cookies
- silver tea service tray
- Tea leaves of the appropriate type
This will typically run 100-150 gp for a quality set.

Many witches also prefer a small portable tripod to suspend their copper cauldron over a flame.
Depending on the tea the boiling water is either taken to the pot or the pot taken to the boiling water.

Types of Tea
The ingredients can vary from traditions, covens and even individual witches but all teas begin with tea and intent.  The teas vary also between black, green, white, herbal  or more exotic choices. Aromatics such a rose hips may also be added.  The make the tea the witch brews the tea as she would mundane tea, but adds her intent and her magic to change the tea to the direction she wishes. Once complete the tea must be drunk to get the intended results.

Awareness
Almost always a black or ginger tea. This tea will provide a +1 to any Wisdom-based roll (saves, skills or checks) for 1 hour after drinking.  Higher level witches can brew stronger brews adding 10 mins per their own level for others that drink it.  The witch herself builds up a tolerance to the brew effects and only gains 1 hour regardless of level.  This tea may only be drank once per two days.

Calming
Made with an herbal tea, this tea will remove the effects of a fear spell or similar condition. It will also contract the effects of a haste spell or potion and that of an Energizing or Envigorating tea.

Contemplative
Made with a green tea this brew will remove the effects of a charm spell or other similar magic.
Note: the Witch must be 5th level to brew this tea.

Energizing
Almost always a black tea. This tea will provide a +1 to any Strength-based roll (saves, skills or checks) for 1 hour after drinking.  Higher level witches can brew stronger brews adding 10 mins per their own level for others that drink it.  The witch herself builds up a tolerance to the brew effects and only gains 1 hour regardless of level.  This tea may only be drank once per two days.

Envigorating
Almost always a black tea. This tea will provide a +1 to any Constitution-based roll (saves, skills or checks) for 1 hour after drinking.  Higher level witches can brew stronger brews adding 10 mins per their own level for others that drink it.  The witch herself builds up a tolerance to the brew effects and only gains 1 hour regardless of level.  This tea may only be drank once per two days.

Fortune Telling
This is one of the more common tea rituals performed.  Once the rea is drunk the witch looks into the cup to see what message the tea leaves can give her.  This will function as a Divination spell where one question is asked, "What does the future hold?"
Note: A witch needs to be 5th level of higher to complete this ritual.

Friendship
This tea makes the participants more inclined towards each other.  Not a charm, but a sense of companionship and friendship.  Everyone is treated as if they had a +1 to Charisma rolls with respect to each other.

Healing
This tea usually begins as a simple black or green tea.  The recipient is healed of 1d4 hp of damage.

Kitchen Witchery
Sometimes called "utility tea" this helps the witch in preparation of other potions or crafting magics.  The witch may add +1 or +5% to her rolls for success.

Quiet 
This tea relaxes the witch so she is not disturbed by outside noises. She has great concentration and can get a full 8 hours of sleep in 6 hours (or 6 hours in 4.5) but will always be surprised if attacked in this period (8 or 6 hours).

Third Eye Tea
This opens the witch's third eye and allows her to be better at scrying.  Giving her a +1 or +5% to any roll she needs.

Witch's Tea
No special powers. It just tastes really, really good.

Teas can be combined with incense and other potions for added effects.  Mixing teas though will result in an inert, and even worse, a foul-tasting liquid.

Cake and Tea Ritual
Level: Witch Ritual 1
Ritual Requirement: At least 2 witches, full tea set, cakes and tea
Range: All Participants
Duration: 24 Hours
This ritual is often performed at the end of the proper worship ceremonies of a coven, but it can also be performed as a means of two unfamiliar witches to break the ground towards friendship.  Once complete the witches in the ritual will gain a +1 to all rolls for the next hour and will act as if they had a +1 to Charisma-based roll for the next 24.  The witches also may not harm each other in any fashion or loose all benefits from this ritual.
Material Components: Cakes or cookies and the tea to be served.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nibiru: The Crossing Star

 If you are reading this then you know we survived.

Today is the day that some conspiracy theorists believe that the planet Nibriu will destroy the earth.
Interestingly enough the Babylonian "star" of Autumn was called Nibriu.  Of course, the tin-foil hat crowd will claim that this is because the Babylonian's and the Aztecs were in contact with the same aliens (the Zetas according to one group).



Of course, this is all great stuff for a game.
Nibriu could be a sub-brown Dwarf, a body with 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter.

With a name like Nibru it could be some Clark Ashton Smith-like god, a fatal star whose invisible light shines down bringing woe and destruction.  Worshiped by insane warlocks and blind abominations whose milk-white eyes can see the foul light.

Witches and warlocks can forge a pact with Nibiru for more magics.

Nibiru's Crossing
Level: Witch/Warlock 2
Range: 1 person
Duration: Instantaneous
By means of this spell, the warlock can instantly transport himself instantly 10 feet + 5 feet per level to any unoccupied space of five feet square. So a 4 level warlock can transport 30 feet away.   The warlock does not need to see the area he is transporting too, but he must know if it is occupied or not.

Winds of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 3
Range: 40 feet from warlock
Duration: 1 round + 1 round per 3 levels
With ancient incantations, the warlock summons the foul winds of Nibiru. The winds blow from the warlock in a cone shape and terminate 40 feet away.  Creatures in the area of effect are blown outside of it. Those outside cannot enter the cone area in front of the warlock.  Missle weapons and spells are also ineffectual in area.  Such is the concentration required that the warlock cannot move during the duration of the spell.

Dreadful Gravity of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 4
Range: 100 feet from warlock
Duration: 1 round
With this spell the warlock summons the dreadful gravity of the planet Nibiru and can pull one Small, Medium or Large creature to it to stop five feet from the Warlock.  The creature is pulled and immobilized for 1 round.  After this it may attack normally.

Eclipse of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 5
Range: 50 feet radius sphere from warlock
Duration: 5 rounds
This spell summons a piece of dread and invisible Nibiru to block all magical attacks directed at the warlock. Any spell directed at the warlock is deflected or is stopped at a distance of 50 feet from the warlock.  Magical weapons are also likewise deflected.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Class Struggles: AS&SH 2 Warlocks and Witch Lords

The new Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, 2nd Edition from +Jeff Talanian is out. It's going to take me a bit to go through it all.  But so far I am enjoying the hell out of it.

One thing that the 1st Edition had that the new 2nd Edition has expanded on is the Warlock class.
The book tells us:
Some warlocks practice the sorcery of cryomancers and may be referred to as ice lords; others practice the sorcery of pyromancers and may be referred to as fire lords. Perhaps the most feared and reviled of warlocks are those who practice the black arts of necromancy (death soldiers)...
Pretty cool really. And it got me thinking.

Yesterday I worked up the character Grimalkin as a warlock that has chosen witch magic as her type of  Sorcery. There is something interesting here. Something pretty cool.

Witch Lords

Warlocks the choose witchcraft as their sorcery see (Vol. II, p. 148: Table 68) are known as Witch Lords.   These warlocks are often found protecting the covens of more powerful witches or ruling over covens of less powerful ones.

Curse of the Witch Lord by tmza
Using the Grand Coven idea from my Warlock for Swords & Wizardry you can use Witch Lords as the leaders of Grand Covens in the Hyperborean world.  Instead of the usual compliment, a 9th level Warlock can gather, they may opt to form a Grand Coven.

The troop gathered include these 0th-level fighters of 1d8 hp each (known as cowans).
* 15 longbowmen (studded armor, longbows, short swords)
* 5 cavalrymen (chain mail, lances, light crossbows, horseman’s flails; light warhorses)
* 20 light crossbowmen (chain mail, small shields, light crossbows, long spears, short swords)
* 15 halberdiers/pikemen

They also gather the following coven
* 9 initiate witches of 0 level
* 3 witches of 1st level
* 1 witch of 2nd or 3rd level

A 9th level witch and a 9th level Witch Lord that gather together can create a cult stronghold to house all these members.

Once again, AS&SH is firing up my imagination for a game.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Witches of the Last Apprentice: AS&SH 2nd Ed.

When I was reading the Last Apprentice books a couple years back I thought that they would work well with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The vaguely weird fantasy and human-centric worlds I felt worked well with each other.  Plus it seems to me that both works drew on the same original works.  At least that is the feeling I got.

I finished the recent book, I am Grimalkin, just about the same time my copy of  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, 2nd Edition came in the email. It seemed to me that these two works are destined to remain together in my world.

Flipping through the new book get me into the mood to try out a few of the new classes and see what I could create.   Plus I have to admit that if you took the picture of the man on page vi with the sharpened teeth and fingers on his necklace and made it into a woman she very well could have been Grimalkin herself.

The races of AS&SH are very compelling as well and work with this world.

Alice Deane
Alice is one of the first witches we encounter in Delaney's Spook series. Though we don't know she is a witch at first (but we suspect it) nor do we know how really powerful she is and will become.  I am starting with her because she is the easiest to categorize. She is a witch.   The biggest issue with Alice is for someone so young she is already REALLY powerful. I made some compromises but am happy with this.

Alice Deane
Witch of the Dean and Malkin clans
Female Witch 5th level
Neutral

Race: Kelt
Secondary Skill: Scribe

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 14

Casting Ability: 5
Fighting Ability: 2

Hit Points:  13
AC: 9
Saving Throw: 14 (+2 Transformation, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Read Magic, Read Scrolls, Scribe Scrolls, Witch Spells, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy

Spells
First: (4) Alter Self, Decipher Language, Light, Scare
Second: (3) Darkness, Hold Person, Perceive Heartbeat
Third: (2) Black Cloud, Wind Wall

Grimalkin
One of the first I did when working on my Pathfinder and D&D 5 stats for Grimalkin was to think about what might be the best multiclass or dual class option to make a "Witch Assassin".  Well AS&SH doesn't do multiclass or dual-class.  Instead they rules have several subclasses that serve the same purpose. I opted to use a Warlock class for her in this case.  I also opted to cheat a little and limit her Warlock spells just to the Witch spell list.  There is a precedent for this with the Warlock taking spells from the Magician, Cryomancer, Necromancer or Pyromancer lists.

Grimalkin
Witch Assassin of the Malkin clan
Female Warlock 10th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Kimmeri-Kelt (with some Amazon somewhere in there)
Secondary Skill: Weaponsmith

Abilities
Strength: 17
Dexterity: 18
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 14

Casting Ability: 10
Fighting Ability: 10

Hit Points:  54
AC: 5 (Leather)
Saving Throw: 12 (+2 Transformation, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
Magic Item use, Read magic, Read scrolls, Scribe Scrolls, Sorcerery (Witch spells), Weapon Mastery, Stronghold

Spells
First: (4) Charm, Detect Magic, Scare, Sleep
Second: (4) Darkness, Find Traps, Obscure, Detect Invisible
Third: (3) Black Cloud, Delay Poison, Slow

Sword (3/2 attacks) +3 to hit, 1d8 +3 damage
Dagger (3/2 attacks) +3 to hit, 1d4 +3 damage

Thorne Malkin
Thorne is the apprentice of Grimalkin. She got the job at age 10 when she snuck up to the witch and kicked her in the shins.  Grimalkin normally would have killed the girl for her impertinence, but instead saw something in her that reminded her of herself. Thorne has been the apprentice of Grimalkin for the last five years.
For Thorne I am opting for the Legerdemainist class. This class is a subclass of the Thief with magical ability.  I figure anyone that can sneak up on the legendary Witch Assassin it would have to be a thief of some sort.

Thorne Malkin
Apprentice Witch Assassin
Female Legerdemainist 4th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Kelt
Secondary Skill: Weaponsmith

Abilities
Strength: 15
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Casting Ability: 4
Fighting Ability: 3

Hit Points:  54
AC: 5 (Leather)
Saving Throw: 14 (+2 Avoidance, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
Backstab, Agile +1 AC, Discern Noise, Hide, Manipulate Traps, Move Silently, Open Locks, Pick Pockets

Spells
First: (2) Charm, Scare
Second: (1) Darkness

Sword +1 to hit, 1d8 +1 damage
Dagger +1 to hit, 1d4 +1 damage


I think I like the Warlock better for a Witch Assassin over the Ledgerdemaist.   But in the case for Thorne I think it still works great.

Can't wait to try this system some more.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin

"I am Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin.  I am the mother of Death. She follows behind me leaving bloody footprints in the grass."

Also known as "Spook's: I Am Grimalkin" by Joseph Delaney.

I decided to go back to the Last Apprentice/The Spook series since it had been a while since I had read the last book.  This one dealt nearly exclusively with Grimalkin, the witch assassin of the Malkin clan of witches.  We last saw her leaving Tom Ward and the Spook, John Gregory, after they had trapped and beheaded the Fiend.  Grimalkin is now on the run from her sister witches with the Fiends head in a bag.  If they capture her they will bring back the Fiend.

I rather enjoyed this one.  It was a fast read since it was full of action Also the character of Grimalkin is a fascinating one.  We learn why she hates the Fiend so much despite being a malevolent witch herself.  We learn why she became a witch-assassin too and some of her early training.

We also learn a lot more about all these witches.  For example, Grimalkin has an apprentice of her own, Thorn, a girl she is training to be the next witch assassin.  Grimalkin cares quite a lot for this girl and takes pride in her accomplishments much like a mother would.   She also cares for Alice Dean and Agnes Sowerbutts, two other witches we have seen in the past.   Even when acting evil, these witches are very, very human.  Which really puts the past books and especially John Gregory's behavior in some very dark light.  In the end, I was asking who was truly the evil one here?

The book has a great build up but the final battle at the end is over too soon in my mind.

You can find all of Joseph Delaney's Spook's series and books here: http://www.spooksbooks.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 21
Level: Crone!
Witches in this book: 4 featured, hundreds implied.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: They are supposed to be evil witches, but a lot in this made me rethink that.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Nearly any D&D game would work great.
Use in WotWQ: Grimalkin is such a great character. I would LOVE to use her or someone like her in my War of the Witch Queens game.

A while back after I finished Rage of the Fallen I worked up Grimalkin for Pathfinder. I thought it was great, it captured the character well I thought.  For this book I wanted to give her a try for the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition game.
The D&D5 game does not have witches (yet) but they do have Warlocks, and for this character that works out well to be honest.   She has a "Fiend Pact" which I felt was appropriate given her background in the books.  I went with the variant human so I could give her a dual wielding feat.
I suppose I could have made her Warlock/Ranger as some sort of hunter too, but I liked the idea of giving her the Rogue (Assassin) class.   Maybe I'll try that out with another system.

Grimalkin, the Witch/Assassin for D&D 5th Edition.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Conjure Wife

"Women are witches. Fighting for their men.  Tansy was a witch. She was guarding you. But you made her stop."

Here I am with the last book required by the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge for 2017.  I have more on tap, but for book number 20 I wanted something special.
For this I wanted a book that has been on my list for as long as I can remember.  I was going to use this for #1, but #20 is just as good.

Fritz Leiber's "Conjure Wife" from 1943 has been held up as sort of a prototype of the modern American Witch tale.  Seemingly normal wives in a small East Coast town married to normal, rational men of science and academia turn out to be powerful witches engaged in a silent secret war of magic.

The book is a bit a dated in terms of what the roles of men and women are/were, but at the same time, it is also still very, very engaging.  At first, I didn't think I'd like it due to the casual misogyny in the tale, but the story soon gripped me and once I reminded myself that this was the 1940s AND some roles were over emphasized on purpose. We were not just supposed to believe that these women were quiet, dutiful wives because it was the 40s. It was also the mask they wore to hide the fact that they were everything BUT that. They were intelligent (more so than their husbands), clever and some down right evil and all were powerful.   By the end of the book, you are left feeling that the men in this tale are really no more than children, a bit dim ones at that.

Leiber is a masterful storyteller and Conjure Wife is no exception.  There are some great plot twists and turns and his characters are well developed.  Norman and Tansy are likable characters and very easy to relate to.
It is no wonder that he is featured so prominently in both AD&D's Appendix N and the "Suggested Readings" in Moldvay's Basic D&D.

The book was made into a movie three times.  "Weird Woman" (1944), "Burn Witch Burn (1962)/Night of the Eagle", and " Witches' Brew" (1979).  Of the lot "Burn Witch Burn" was the best if I remember right. I have them all on tape somewhere.

This book is available in multiple formats and covers.  It is a true classic.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 20
Level: Crone!
Witches in this book: 4, none or millions.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Tansy is a good witch.  The other three, not so much.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Something modern would work nicely.  Certainly Chill or Call of Cthulhu might work well.
Use in WotWQ: The modern setting is less suited for the faux-medieval setting I am looking for in War of the Witch Queens, but Tansy certainly fits the bill as a witch queen.  The idea of every woman having some sort of power in secret would make for a lot of fun in a game.  That old chestnut of a normal cat being more powerful than a first level magic-user becomes scary when you think who might be controlling those cats.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Witch of Rhostshyl (Silverglass #3)

"You forget that I am a witch, Rehal." 
 - Nyctasia

Headed back to the world of witch Nyctasia r'n Edonaris brenn Rhostshyl and mercenary Corson brenn Torisk.  No longer on the run, our brave heroines are headed their separate ways for now.   Corson heads back to her lover Stefian and his tavern/inn in Chiastelm while Nyctasia remains with her cousins a bit longer.   Corson, of course, can't stand sitting around, she is too much of an adventurer, so she takes odd-jobs here and there.  One of which gets Steifann's other occasional lover, Destiver, captured and arrested as a smuggler.   While Steifann stews and Destiver waits for her likely execution, Corson decides to get out of town of a bit.
Back on the Endonaris Estates, Nyctasia is also getting restless. She translates books all day and comes down to interact with her cousins in the evening.   Eventually, she is dealing with a runaway slave and is drawn back into the civil war in Rhostshyl that she was trying to stop in Book 1.
Eventually, our heroes are reunited.  Nyctasisa takes on her rightful place as ruler of the City of Rhostshyl with Corson first as her body guard and then elevated to Lady Coirsonde.

More so than the previous books this one felt like two people writing a book separated by distance.   The story didn't pick up until the end, and only when our two leading ladies were back together again.  The bickering was gone and they have settled into a pretty solid friendship despite their differing stations.
I felt though there were some missed opportunities in this book.  There is a part where Nyc is off with a pack of traveling actors and acrobats that might have been fun.  Though we did get a lot of Corson's exploits.  We do get to meet Nyc's younger sister and mother in this, so more of the Edonaris clan.

This adventure really felt like a "Name Level" adventure in the old D&D sense.  Corson is made a Lady with all the rights and responsibilities.  Nyc stops running around and takes up her family's rulership of the city.

I am quite excited about starting the next, and sadly, the last book. No one will confuse these book with great literature, but they are a really fun and fast read.

The book is out of print and there are no digital or audio versions I have found.  They pop up every so often at Half-Price books.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 19
Level: Crone
Witches in this book: Nyctasia is very much a witch, but keeps her powers away from prying eyes.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Nyc is much better in this book.
Best RPG to Emulate it: For this book, there is a strong "Adventurer" vibe here not to mention all the things associated with hitting "name level" of old D&D.  So something D&D Basic/Expert, Adventurer Conqueror King,  or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea would be great.
Use in WotWQ: Likely, but since I am using them as characters in the Blue Rose game I am currently playing their involvement might only be as a cameo.

Nyctasia and Corson for Basic/Expert D&D

Basic and Expert era D&D has so much going for it really. It is simple, it is easy to pick-up AND you can really pack a lot of fun in 14 levels.  I see why ACKS and AS&SH end around the same levels; ACKS, in particular, takes the B/X idea and really expands it to encompass a lot of  play-types.

Here they are for B/X era D&D at "name level".

Nyctasia r'n Edonaris brenn Rhostshyl
10th level Witch (Vahnite Tradition*)  (Family Trad)

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 28
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 8 (leather armor, dex -1)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Greymantle (large hound)
7th level: Family Enemy

Spells
Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Object Reading, Open, Spark
First: Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Glamour, Mend Light Wounds, Sleep
Second: Agony, Calm Emotions, Rite of Remote Seeing
Third: Circle of Respite, Ghost Ward, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows
Fifth: Death Curse, Sending

Corson brenn Torisk, aka The Lady Corisonde Desthene li'Rhostshyl brenn Torisk
9th level Fighter

Strength: 17
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 16

Hit Points: 65
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 7 (leather)

Equipment:  Sword, armor, coins. Enchanted comb (will cast Bewitch 1/day).


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spell Research

It's August and the theme of this month's RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Kobold Press is all about Magic!

Today I want to talk about something I am very much involved in right now. Spell Research.

One of the more nebulous rulings in *D&D covers research new spells.  Across all versions of the game there are spells named after various wizards and magic-users.  Some have real world significance such as Otiluke, Rary, Mordenkainen, and Melf.   Others represent historical or mythical figures.  But all have the implication that this spell was created by or named for these spell-casters.  So someone had to write them.

There are thousands of D&D spells. I think my 2nd Ed database (in Microsoft Access 97) has 3000+ spells.  I know the 3rd edition has to be more; there are about 2000 attributed to Pathfinder alone.  A project I am working on now tells me that my own OSR witch books have 700+ unique spells.

Someone had to write all of these.
Someone that is other the authors of these games and books.  Someone in the game itself. (But both are true).

So what are the hows and whys of Spell Research?

Why Should a PC Spell Caster Research a Spell?
This one is the easier of our two questions.  Why? Lots of reasons. The PC might want some new effect or magic not listed in PHB.  Say they want to cast "Frost Ball" instead of "Fire Ball" because they are more fond of cold based attacks and not fire ones.  Maybe the new spell comes about as part of other magical research. Maybe it was a total accident while casting a spell and not having the material components on hand or even a poorly memorized spell.
There are a number of in-game reasons.  In Ghosts of Albion, spells are cast based on Success Levels.  If a character casts a spell and gets really high successes on it then sometimes something new can happen.  I would give the same sort of ruling to D&D sorcerers and bards, they do something strange and a crazy new spell effect happens.  But that is an accident, what about doing that on purpose.

The most compelling reason, of course, is need.

Take a look at my witch (not important that it is a witch just yet) spell "Moonstone".  This spell stores moonlight.
Moonstone
Level: Witch 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 day per witch level
The witch can store moonlight in a small stone. The stones must be enchanted and then exposed to moonlight. Each stone will last 1 day per caster level unless discharged. Once invoked, the moonstone will shed soft light, equal to torchlight, and give off no heat. The moonstone does not affect low-light vision and does not cause damage to creatures that would normally be affected by light.
Note: Despite the wich's level, no Moonstone can last past the full cycleof the moon. So if moonlight is stored during a full moon then it will only last till the first night of the next full moon. If the witch's level is less than the number of days to the next full phase then the spell ends then.
Material Components: A bit of moonstone and the light of the moon.
(Special thanks to +Paolo Greco for pointing out some errors on this spell.)
Why do I need this spell?  I mean it's only first level, but a torch is cheaper.  Also, it is actually LESS effective than the first level spell Light.  You can't cast it into someone's eyes to blind them.
The reason here is need.  Moonstone is a fine spell all on it's own. But it's true value comes when paired with other spells.
Spells like Moon’s Heart (finding the time and direction, 1st level), Witch Writing (writing that can only be read by moonlight, 3rd level) Moonlit Way (finding the safe path, 4th level), and Moonbow (create a weapon out of moonlight, 6th level) all need moonlight to work.  Not something that can happen easily underground OR during the daylight hours.  Unless, of course, you have a fully charged Moonstone.

Another need is maybe less defined.  Back in the 3e days, I created a Prestige Class that had as a part of their requirements the applicant had to submit a new spell for the use of the other members of the Class.

Plus there is always the challenge and joy of discovery. Spells like Wave of Mutilation and Brigit's Flame Sheet were created just for the sheer joy of it.

I think this holds true for any sort of Arcane spellcaster.  What about clerics? druids? Heck, even witches!

Clerics & Druids
In the 3.5 SRD is says that Divine Casters can research a spell much like Arcane Spellcasters can.   But that section only says "A wizard also can research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one."
That's not really a lot to go on.
More to the point why would they do it?  I mean aren't clerics supposed to be given their spells by their gods?  Does it make sense that a cleric would tell his god "hey, look I know you are busy, but instead of light can you give me a spell that casts moonlight instead?"

It does if you think of clerical spells like a liturgy or even a sermon.  Think of modern day priests, preachers and other people of the cloth.  They have their holy books. They have some sermons and prayers they have always done (common book of prayer for example), some hymns that have been used since the middle ages and so on.  But they also write a sermon, sometimes a new one, each week.  The purpose is to take divine inspiration, common language, and new ideas to make something new.
Now. Truth be told Clerics (and Druids) should get a set amount of "spell levels" of power to work with an then they can perform their miracles as needed.  That might be a little too much like Mage for most D&D players' taste (but it would be fun to try it!).  From this perspective, even a tradition bound "old" class like the druid could invent new spells.   In theory, an all knowing god should know which spells to give when.  For this reason, I do allow clerics and druids to swap out spells on the fly.  Much like how D&D 3 introduced the idea of spontaneous healing magic.

But what about witches?

Witches
This is an 8th level Ritual Spell for witches.
Depending on my mood and the book in question witches can either be Divine or Arcane spellcasters. Typically I think of them as Witches.  The magic they use is Witchcraft. It has both Divine and Arcane aspects.  They learn their magic from their Patron, via a familiar, but record the spell formula in a spell book.   The underlined terms can have various meanings.  Take the girls from Charmed (why, you will see later).  Their Patrons are the past witches in their family line.  Each one learning more and more than and from the witches that came before. Their familiar in this case is their Book of Shadows.  Their spellbook is also their book of shadows.   In my Pathfinder Warlock book I have rules for a Book of Shadows that is spellbook AND familiar.

At one point in the show Charmed, the witches learn that they can also create new spells rather than just relie on the ones in their Book of Shadows.  It actually becomes a feature of the show where Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) is the sister with the best ability to come up with new spells. It is this ability they have that allows them to tap into greater and greater sources of their power.  One such spell summons the power of all their family witches to destroy what is essentially the Devil (Source of All Evil. But not without cost.)

Given this would I allow "10th level" spells?  That's a good question.  Most spells of significantly high level do a lot. A spell that powerful would need to be limited in other ways.

So that's the why, what about the how?

That depends on the edition.

1st Edition starts with some advice on page 115 of the DMG.  The hardest part of this is determining the level of the spell in question.  This is done only by comparing the spell to be created to others in the Player's Handbook.  +Bruce Heard expands on this in Dragon magazine #82 (more on that tomorrow!), but it does cover somethings not in the DMG that are important. Namely to properly stock your occult/arcane library.

An occult library.
For the moment let's assume that your character has the tools and books needed.  The time needed for research and materials is 200 gp per level per week.

2nd Edition covers much of the same ground, but with less information to be honest.  Even the amount spent is now only given as a range of gp.

3rd Edition and 5th Edition have similar advice on pages 95 and 283 (respectively). So similar in fact that it felt like I was reading the same text. Though they both give good advice on setting levels based on the amount of damage caused.  The numbers differ, but the logic is the same.

I could not find any Spell Creation or Spell Research rules in BECMI or 4th Edition.

So really. The level of the spell is largely a matter of guesswork and tradition.  I spend a lot of time, maybe too much time, trying to figure these things out.

Yeah. A lot.

Creating a Spell

I wonder if we can use what we know already to create a new spell.  This is one I am actually working on right now.  As I type these words the spell is not written, but it will be by the end of this post.

The spell is one I have thought about for a while. It allows a caster to make a perfect copy of another spell into a specially prepared spellbook.  I have decided that the spell needs the following.
A specially prepared but blank spell book. This will be 200 gp per the level of the spell copied. Following the rules above.  The quill used to scribe the spell has to come from the rare Giant Mimid Bird (or Dire Mockingbird if you prefer) and the ink is a rarer distillation of the ink of an octopus (not a squid).

The spell makes a duplicate so it is beyond Mirror Image or even Minor Creation since the creation is magical (in a sense).  It is less than Wish.  It is permanent, but more so than Permanent Image.
It can reduce the time needed to copy a spell down to hours from weeks, that is pretty powerful.
8th Level feels right, but I could go as low as 6th and maybe, just maybe up to 9th.

It's a new spell, so let's give it a name. My iconic witch is named Larina. I always imagined this was her spell.  Since it deals with the copying of spellbooks some form of Liber should be used. After all, aren't all spell books written in Latin?   Liberum works and that is a call back to my d20 Witch book.  Since the words are being set free then Libre is also good.  Alliterations are always fun.
So let's go with Larina's Liberum Libre.

Larina is a witch, but this would be good for wizards too.
Let's try it in Basic-Era/S&W/OSR format.

Larina's Liberum Libre
Level: Witch 8, Wizard 8
Range: 1 Spellbook
Duration: Permanent; see below
This spell was named for the first witch to successfully use it to make a copy of another spellbook.  The spell requires a book of the same size, shape and page numbers of the spell book to be copied. The base cost for this book is 200gp per spell level copied.  Also needed are a special quill of a Giant Mimid Bird and distilled ink of an octopus. Both may be purchased, base cost of 100 gp, or prepared by the caster ahead of time.  The ink is used up in the spell casting, the quill can be used for 1d6+6 uses.
The blank book, quill, ink and the spell book to be copied are placed on a specially prepared cloth (not rare, just clean and white). The spell is cast and the cloth covers both books.  The spell will take 1 hour per spell level to copy.  Once complete the spell will create a perfect copy of the book in question.  If the spell is interrupted during this time; the cloth removed or either book opened, then the spell is canceled and the new book, ink, and quill are destroyed.
Note: Normal non-magical books may be copied as well, but only require normal ink and a regular book with the same number of pages.

Ok. So I like the spell, might tweak it a bit before publication. Still not happy with the guesswork involved with the levels.
I would love to develop a system like I did for Ghosts of Albion but that would take a time and the return might not really be worth it.

How do you go about researching spells? Both in game and in real life?



Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #83

Have a look at that cover.  1984 was a good year for Chess themed things.  In October we would get the #1 hit, "One Night In Bangkok" from the Album Chess and sung by Murry Head.  In March we got this famous cover of Dragon #83 by  Denis Beauvais.  It is part of the oft mentioned Chess series that stretch to the modern day.  On the radio "Jump" by Van Halen dominates the airwaves. In the theatres we get "Against All Odds", "Police Academy" and "Romancing the Stone" as the big box office hits.  On the shelves "Dragonlance" is starting to appear and we get Issue #83 of This Old Dragon!

Letters cover the usual questions about psionics and where someone can get an article reprint.  Hang tight, you will be able to buy everything on CD-ROM in about 15 years.   There is also a letter on the longest continuous game of D&D at 100 hours.  I think the longest game I ever played was a combo Ravenloft I6/I10 game at 48 hours.

Ads for James Bond and Cities of Hârn.

Michael Lowrey is up first with The many facets of gems. Since a lot of my D&D game play is 70s and 80s fueled I always wanted to use gems as a means of storing magical energy in my games.  I never quite got it the way I wanted it to be honest (still working on it) but this article was a huge help back in the day.  It is also a pretty long article.

Ed Greenwood is back with the Ecology of the Stirge. Is it a bug? Is it a bird?  Going back and rereading these now I admire how well Ed could take even the most banal monster and turn it into something interesting.  While I used to find his "in universe" writing a little twee now I am genuinely amused by it.  I can imagine some Academy in the Forgotten Realms where monster experts debate the finer points of monster biology and killing methods, all safe in their academic halls and ivory towers.

Sign of the times.  The fiction section is not only by Margaret Weis, it is the first Dragonlance story in the pages of Dragon magazine.  Test of the Twins features the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  A lot of ink and pixels have been spilled over the effect on D&D by Dragonlance.  Whatever your point of view on this the Dragonlance era starts here and now with this issue.   The story is a pivotable one in the Dragonlance saga. So much so that I have read it, or versions of it, in other books before I saw it here.

The centerfold is the massive adventure from Roger Moore, the Dancing Hut. This was such a great adventure then that I had to rerun for my kids.  Though I combined it with bits of the 2nd Edition version that came out much later.  This one is a keeper.
Baba Yaga is such a historic figure in D&D it is no surprise there are so many adventures built around her.

Roger Moore follows this up with a simplified unarmed fighting system in How to Finish Fights Faster.  Frankly, I never used it.

There is an ad for my FLGS here, +Games Plus.  This might have been the first time I discovered them to be honest.  I used to order the hard to find stuff from Games Plus because they were the only Illinois game store that knew of that did mail orders. They were about 210 miles away from me at the time, but now they are only 8 miles. So I am very, very pleased to still be going there.

There is a Top Secret article here, but mine was cut out.

There is another ad and a long review of the James Bond 007 game.
I am a HUGE Bond fan.  My first Bond movie was Live and Let Die. It gave me a life long obsession with Bond, Voodoo and Jane Seymour.
Despite this, I have never played a James Bond game.  My loss to be sure.  I'll need to fix that someday.
My first Bond may have been the late great Roger Moore (no relation of course to the above-mentioned RM), the BEST Bond is Daniel Craig.

Ads...an order form for the Mail Order Hobby Shop to get back issues of Dragons.

In the comics section we get a rare celestial conjunction; Wormy, What's New with Phili and Dixie AND Snarf Quest all in one issue.  There is even an entry of Talanalan here.

A great issue really, if for nothing else than for the Baba Yaga adventure.

March 1984 was also a good issue of White Dwarf. Check that out on my White Dwarf Wednesday Issue #51.

Using Baba Yaga in your games
This adventure features Baba Yaga and gives her stats ala Deities and Demigods.  She is a tough one to beat too.   She has 3 attacks, 135 hp, a -1 Charisma which gives her horror like effects.  She fights like a 16HD and has the spell casting ability of a 25th level Magic-User, a 15th level Illusionist and a 14th level Druid.  Crazy.  Oh, and she has some abilities of an assassin too.

There is no doubt that she is one of, if not THE, most powerful witch in the D&D multiverse.  When she is not working with her daughter Iggwilv on Oerth she is off on Golarion dealing with the Winter Witches of Irrisen.  I would not be surprised to discover she has also been to Aglarond and Rashemen. And if she hasn't been there then her Hut has.

No one is better suited for a Basic Witch write-up to be honest.
I will use Roger Moore's stats as a guideline and use the witch rule from my The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games.

Baba Yaga, Witch Queen
36th level Queen of Witches, Daughter of Baba Yaga Tradition (She is the Tradition founder.)
Female, Chaotic (Nuetral Evil)

Strength 20 (+3 / +8)
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 23
Dexterity 18 (+3)
Constitution 21 (+6_
Charisma -1* (Baba Yaga uses her negative CHA the way other witches use positive. So +5)

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 3
Magic Wands 3
Paralysis, Polymorph 3
Dragon Breath 3
Rods, Staffs, Spells 3
+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+ for Wisdom

Hit Points:
AC: -10
(Grandmother's Shawl +5, Bracers of Defense +3, Ring of Protection +5, Dex 18 -3)

THAC0: 4
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers
Lesser: Familiar (crow)
Minor: Kitchen Witchery
Medial: Detect Bloodline
Greater: Curse
Major: Shape Change
Superior: Longevity

Spell Immunities
Baba Yaga is immune to the following spells:
Cause fear, charm person, command, friends, hypnotism, forget, hold person, ray of enfeeblement, scare, beguiling, bewitch, domination, fear, charm monster, confusion, emotion, fumble, suggestion, telempathic projection, chaos, feeblemind, hold monster, magic jar, mass domination, quest, geas, mass suggestion, rulership, antipathy/sympathy, finger of death, mass charm, Otto's irresistable dance and any spell created by one of her "Daughters" (for example Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter).

Other Powers
Arcane Diversity: Baba Yaga may learn other arcane spells (Wizard, Necromancer, Illusionist). She can replace 1 Ritual spell per spell level with an arcane spell she has learned.  These spells must be learned like other magic-users and recorded in her Book of Shadows.

Spells
Cantrips (8): Alarm Ward, Arcane Mark, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading, Summon Vermin
1st (9+4): Bad Luck, Black Fire, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Chill Touch, Darkness, Endure Elements, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Minor Fighting Prowess, Protection from Spirits, Silver Tongue
2nd (9+3): Agony, Biting Blade, Discord, Enthrall, ESP, Evil Eye, Ghost Touch, Hold Person, Invisibility, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
3rd (9+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Circle of Respite, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Ghost Ward, Lethe's Curse, Lifeblood, Magic Circle Against Undead, Toad Mind, Witch Wail, Witch Writing
4th (9+3): Abomination, Analyze Magic, Arcane Eye, Charm Monster, Divination, Ethereal Projection, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations, Speak with Dead, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee, Withering Touch
5th (9+2): Baleful Polymorph, Blade Dance, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Endless Sleep, Greater Command, Hold Monster, Magic Jar, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue
6th (9+1): Anchoring Rite, Anti-magic Shell, Break the Spirit, Death Blade, Eye Bite, Ethereal Banishment, Mass Agony, Mislead, True Seeing, Dismissal (Ritual)
7th (9): Call the Restless Soul, Death Aura, Draw Forth the Soul, Greater Arcane Eye, Greater Blindness, Foresight, Insanity, Wave of Mutilation, Gate (Ritual)
8th (9): Antipathy/Sympathy, Astral Projection, Destroy Life, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Pit, Trap the Soul, Ensnarement (Ritual), Imprisonment (Ritual)

Magic Items
Grandmother's Shawl (Greatest), Broom of Animated Attack, Baba Yaga's Hut, Baba Yaga's mortar and pestle.

To make her closer to the version presented here in Dragon #83 I could give her the Mind Bar from +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook.

Enjoy!
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