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

Friday, April 9, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: H is for Hag, Chaos

Hags a huge part of any stories around or about witches and witchcraft.  Nearly any fair tale witch can be or has been described as a hag.  While through the various versions of the game a Hag has either been their own kind of creature, a giantess or even a monstrous humanoid, they have eventually settled on the place I have always thought they work best, as a type of Fey creature.  Sure they are evil, no question about that, but this also gives them a bit more.

Hag, Chaos
aka Chaos Crone
Medium Fey (Chaos)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d3 only with other types of hags)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6** (33 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 1d4+2
Special: shape change, charm, witch magic, hag powers, fey qualities
Save: Witch 6
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (V) 
XP: 950 (OSE) 980 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 12 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 12 (0)

Chaos hags are among the smallest, least physically powerful of all the hags.  What they lack in physical prowess they make up for in deviousness and cunning. 

Chaos Hags live to disrupt and cause chaos. The favorite form and tactic is to disguise themselves as a beautiful and innocent woman who has suffered some tragedy.  She will insert herself into a family, village or town.  Small enough that everyone knows everyone, but large enough to give her options.  She will then attempt to charm and seduce anyone she can to bring about distrust.  She will cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated mischief.  She won't be able to help herself though and sooner or later someone will get killed, either by her hand or someone she has charmed to do so. 

Once she has the area in a complete uproar she will try to get the most upstanding citizen to "run away with her" so they can be together.  If this citizen is a lawful cleric or good paladin then even better.  While in the lover's embrace she will then transform to her normal hideous state and kill and eat her former lover.  The next phase of her chaos will arise when leaves any children from this union at the doorstep of a good and lawful family.

The children appear normal at first. The girls are even quite beautiful but over time the boys will become Calibans (qv) and the girls will become a random type of hag when they reach 60 years of age. Despite their normal looks, they will be fully chaotic evil creatures and will continue in their mother's footsteps.

The chaos hag can attack with her claws and teeth like many other hags and she can command the spells of a 5th level witch. She can control animals to do her bidding as per the spell Animal Control. She can cast a Charm Person up to three times per day.  She is immune to sleep, charm and hold spells and only takes half damage from the cold.  She is vulnerable to cold iron and takes double damage from that.  She cannot enter holy ground unless invited and singing makes her angry. 

Given that she can birth other types of hags leads scholars to believe that they are a step between the common hags, the night hags, and the Urhags.  But no scholar has thus far been willing to test their theories.  A Chaos Hag can live anywhere in any climate.  When she is not causing trouble she can be found in a particularly dark and desolate cave. 

--

Another feature I am trying out are ability scores for each monster.  These have become commonplace now for the last 20+ years of the game.  I do have all of these and use them to help figure out pluses to HP due to constitution, damage due to strength, and AC due to dexterity. 

While I do have these for every monster I am not 100% I need them. What are your thoughts.

April 2021 A to Z


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

War of the Witch Queens: Tanglewood Keep

I am on vacation this week! So I started my day with a COVID-19 shot (Moderna version) and came home and ran some Basic D&D/OSE for my family.  We continued the War of the Witch Queens game today.  The characters entered Tanglewood Forest and stopped the Ogre attack.

Basic D&D

My players loved Twil Topknot!  He was a huge hit with everyone especially the halfling who decided they must "cousins."  

Twill with Kitty
Twill with "Kitty"

So a quick recap.  The characters are refugees from a village called Solace in my world but it was destroyed in a "natural" disaster (spoiler, it wasn't natural).  They were leading a group of other refugees to the City of East Haven.  Along the way, they have dealt with the ghosts of evil clerics, ancient witches, and more.  Today they have been asked to deal with an Ogre.  They defeated the ogre, but became snared in a Mirror of Worlds and have now been transported to Krynn.

Here they met Twil Topknot and Sarana (formerly Stevie) from the adventure, DL15 Mists of Krynn. I am also pulling in information from DL1 Dragons of Despair.  

Sarana's home

I am just getting to the part of the adventure that didn't originally work for me; the characters needed to get the crystal to get home.  But the question comes up, why can't Sarana or Twill just go get it.  Well, sadly Twill can't sneak and sneak out as easily as he once did. Sarana, well, the towers of High Sorcerery have their eyes on her, so she is trying to lay low. 

Oh. Of course, the clerics in the group no longer have their magic.  That is going to be fun. Except for the Cleric of the Moon.  Yeah, he now has three voices in his head and he has too much magic.  That is going to be interesting.

It has been fun dropping all sorts of little Krynnisms.  I just got done re-reading the first Dragonlance trilogy so this has been really great.   This is really the first time I have ever run a game in Krynn.  It has been great so far.

Hoping to get another one in during vacation.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Drude

Today is an interesting monster from German folklore.  The Drude is a type of malevolent nocturnal spirit.  Depending on who is doing the classification it could be a spirit, an elf, a kobold, a demon, a hag, or even a witch.  Like many creatures of folklore, they do not conform to the notions of RPG creatures.

The question is what sort of thing a Drude (pl. Druden) is.   Even when one considers it a kobold, there is a lot of debate about what THAT is as well.  

But I think I have an interesting idea.


Drude
Small Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d2 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8* (14 hp)
   Small: 3d6* (11 hp)
Attacks: dagger or witch spell
Damage: 1d4-1
Special: daylight sensitivity, infravision, witch magic. 
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 50 (OSE) 65 (LL)

Kobolds can be found in the underground caverns of nearly any climate or environment.  Their ability to adapt and even thrive in areas where other creatures would perish is one of their greatest strengths is a world that only recognizes strength.

When a kobold group moves into an area near a hag the hag's corrupting influence will cause a Drude to be born among the Kobolds.  A drude, plural druden, is a type of kobold but is usually smarter and has the ability to use magic.  Often called "kobold witches" these creatures will seek out the hag, or hags, that caused them to spawn in an attempt to serve them.  The hag will often teach the kobold their magic instead of killing and eating them.  No one is exactly sure why this happens, save that it might grant the hags a bit of attention and even veneration they crave.

A drude can cast spells as a 3rd level witch and may advance to as high as the 7th level.  They are treated as if they are either part of the Faerie or Malefic Traditions. A drude typically favors spells that create fire or cause fire damage.  A drude will typically take a hag as their patron, usually the hag that is local to them.  The hag teaches the drude witchcraft and magic and in return, the kobold tribe serves the hag or hags.

In combat, the drude, despite their eldritch powers, are still weak in a battle.  They will avoid combat when they can and would rather strike an opponent from a distance.  A drude among a group of kobolds will raise their overall morale by 2 since the combination of both magic and normal kobold strike tactics mesh well. 

Druden are vulnerable to sunlight. They attack at -2 in any form of bright sunlight or at -1 for reduced sunlight or a Continual Light spell.  They have infravision to 90'.

The offspring of a drude and a kobold will be a drude.

--

Klash-Nak is a kobold witch of the 4th level. Her patron is an Annis hag she calls "Mother Nightmare." 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Zatannurday: WandaVision

Zatannurday

A SPECIAL Zatannurday today.

Normally I talk about DC's resident backward talking magician in fishnets, but today let's spend some time with her Marvel universe counterpart and talk Wanda, Scarlet Witch, and WandaVision!

Ok, so I am going to TRY to avoid big spoilers for this week's big finale, but I am going to talk about some plot points of episodes 8 and 9.  Not huge ones, I hope, well...one is. 

Anyway, you have been warned!  (OH and a minor Runaways spoiler too.)

WandaVision

So, it is not a huge secret that really I am not (or rather, was not) a huge fan of Wanda and Scarlet Witch.  She was fun and all, but when it comes to magic in Marvel I am much more a fan of Dr. Strange.  

WandaVision, and Elizabeth Olsen, have changed my mind.

The story is actually a simple one of grief pushing someone to the edge, and then right over the side into a weird alternate reality.  

We see Wanda, as wonderfully described by Agatha Harkness/Agnes (played by the WONDERFUL Kathryn Hahn in what is the casting of a lifetime really) as "a baby witch with years of therapy ahead of her" instead join a radicalized group (HYDRA we later learn in the movies) and "Little orphan Wanda got up close and personal with an Infinity Stone that amplified what otherwise would have died on the vine."  (Episode 8)

In just under 50 minutes we get the best version of Wanda's origin story ever that also explains her powers.  She wields chaos magic and in Agatha's own words,

You have no idea how dangerous you are. You're supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation. Here you are, using it to make breakfast for dinner. Oh, yes, your children, Vision, this whole little life you've made. This is chaos magic, Wanda. That makes you... the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda. That makes you... the Scarlet Witch

Now that is something.  The Scarlet Witch is not her code name, but a title, a "The" as it were.  That would make something akin to the Imbolc Mage that I use in my games; a superpowerful witch capable of spontaneous magic.  I do love a good prophecy about a superpowerful witch.

Beyond that the series, especially episode 8 was full of great material from Vision's "But what is grief, if not love persevering?" to Wanda's breakdown in the home that Vision bought for them (and pure Emmy-bait for Olsen).

But what I think is best about this whole series is not that it is about superpowerful people. It's about things we can relate to.

We are not watching Wanda because she is the Scarlet Witch, we are watching because she was a little girl, who loved her family, her bother, and learning to speak English by watching bootleg DVDs of American sitcoms. She lost her family, her brother, and the love of her life and despite being powerful there isn't a thing she can actually do about it.  In the end that is something that everyone can relate to.

Including Agatha "And I Killed Sparky too" Harkness is just the delicious icing on an already great cake.

Agatha All Along

And that is not even getting into anything else like fake Pietro (called that one early on too!) or even my FIRST Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau as Photon.  OH and another appearance of the Darkhold! The first was in Runaways Season 3.

Not sure if there will be a Season 2 or not, but it sets things up nicely for the next Doctor Strange movie.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

GM's Day Sales from The Other Side

It's DriveThruRPG's GM's Day Sales Starting today (well yesterday really).

GM's Day from the Other Side

With prices marked off a much as 40%.

There are plenty of books on sale from The Other Side.

For Basic-era Games

Daughters of Darkness
Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games

Reviews:

The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games

Reviews:

Pumpkin Spice Witch
The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

Reviews:

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition

Reviews:

The Warlock

Reviews:

GMS Day Sales


For Swords & Wizardry

The Witch
The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box

The Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry

The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry

The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry


There are plenty of other great games and resources on sale as well.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Old-School Essentials

Old School Essentials Advanced
It's the first of the new month and time to introduce a new character!  Although this one is not really a new character. 

Back in January, I posted stats for Sarana, my version of Stevie from the adventure Tanglewood Keep in DL15 Mists of Krynn. I had a lot of fun with it to be honest. I am planning to use Tanglewood Keep with Sarana/Stevie in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  I think it would be a lot of fun and it would fit great theme-wise and provide the multiverse hoping I really want to do with the campaign. 

The adventure is not a difficult one, nor particularly original, but it is fun.  

Though...there is one little issue.  The crux of the adventure is to regain a crystal to make a magical travel mirror work again.  The characters have to get the crystal and return to Sarana/Stevie's home so they can return to their own world.   The questions arise. Why can't Sarana/Stevie get it herself? Failing that why can't her Kender friend Twill Topknot get it for her?

The answer is timing.

The PCs have entered Krynn at two important points in time.  First, the PCs have entered Krynn during the events of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight novel and the DL1 Dragons of Despair module.  This means that, among other things, there are no gods.  No gods also mean no healing magic.

The second point deals with the accident of Twill Topknot and this brings me to my character for this month. 

In Tanglewood Keep, Twill is a 3rd level kender thief.   He is essentially a Tasselhof stand-in.  But I wanted to try something new.  In particular, I really wanted to try out Sara Thompson's combat wheelchair for my Old-School games.  This past summer when this was causing a stir I joked "I was going to make one and put a Kender in it!"  Well.  The idea was actually too good to pass up.

Putting Twill in a wheelchair makes a lot of sense since I need him to NOT to be able to help the characters; the Keep is not easily accessible.  

I am currently rereading the Dragonlance saga and the comment has been made that there are no old Kender.  They usually die before that due to accidents.  This is Twill's tale. He was adventuring when he slipped and fell off a cliff.  He was discovered by Sarana who used her witchcraft to heal him the best she could. While she could heal his wounds and kept him from dying, she could not heal everything.  With no healing magic from the gods, she did an admirable job. 

Thankfully for Twill, Tinker the gnome was able to craft him a "mobility chair" which Twill thinks is the best thing ever.  He has a pocket for his maps, cool little baubles, and a place for his hoopak staff.

Since my War of the Witch Queens is a B/X flavored game, I thought that my current favorite Basic-era game Old School Essentials would be great for these stats today.

Twill Topknot
Twill Topknot
Male Kender Bard, 3rd level, Neutral Good

Strength: 10
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 9 
Dexterity: 18 (agility) / 9 (movement)
Constitution: 13
Charisma: 15

HP: 12
AC: 4

Saves
D: 13  W: 14  P: 13  B: 16  S: 15 

Initiative: +3
Movement: 20

To Hit AC 0: 20

Weapons: Dagger 1d4 

Hoopak staff 1d4

I decided that Twill is better suited in my game as a Bard (I was not doing Bards in a vacuum last month).  One of the things I found endearing about Tasslehoff Burrfoot was his rich store of stories he knew and wanted to tell. I enjoyed it more on my recent re-read (and was profoundly irritated with Flint every time he told Tass to be quiet).   So a Kender storyteller bard sounds great to me.  I'll make an Arcane Bard since there is no divine magic in Krynn at this point.  Plus the Arcane Bard for OSE still has some thief skills to use.  

In my mind, Twill lives (platonically, for now) with Sarana.  She thinks it is to protect him (he doesn't need it) and he thinks it is to protect her, being from another world (she doesn't need protecting either).  So Twill stays with her in her little house in a haunted forest. He tells her stories that she delights in and she makes him tea. He shows her all his wonderful maps of Krynn and talks about dragons (still only a story now) and she tells him about wonderful worlds she has seen.

No wonder she has no real desire to leave Krynn.  But don't assume anything untoward! This is Krynn and there is a certain morality in place (that I seemed to have completely missed at 14 when I read it the first time).

Sarana and Twill
Sarana and Twill

Twill's Mobility Chair

Being a good-natured sort, Twill is quite proud of his remarkable "mobility chair."  He will gladly show off the pockets it has for his maps, dagger, and that really interesting thing the PC's just dropped and he was keeping safe.   There is even a place on the back for his hoopak.  He credits Tinker (a tinker gnome, naturally) for building it and Sarana for enchanting it to cover any ground or terrain. 

In fact, he will often state that life with his new chair is even better now, though he will admit he misses wiggling his toes. 

Thanks to Sarana's magic the chair can travel over any terrain that Twill himself could do save for anything involving swimming or climbing, with that he can levitate.  The wheels have permanent Floating Disk spells on them to provide levitation.  Since the chair is new he is still learning how to navigate stairs. 

Using the Combat Wheelchair 2.1 for 5e Twill's is a modified basic wheelchair. 

You can get (and modify) your own Twill Topknot mini from HeroForge.

ETA: Since I posted this I noticed that Hero Forge has added three wheelchair options.  

Here is a new version of Twill with his cat.



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Morelia the Wood Witch for Basic Era D&D (BX/OSE)

I make no excuses for it, I like Ginny Di. She is great and is having more fun with D&D than a roomful of dudes my age.  She often has content I enjoy but this week she has given her viewers three more NPCs to adopt or adapt and I just couldn't say no.

So with her (implied) permission here is Morelia the Wood Witch.  She has accidentally overdid it on a love potion and now the whole village is madly in love with her.  She is very happy to see any new PCs, especially ones not from the village.  She will work out a deal with them. If they can bring back enough Pixie's Tongue (it's actually a type of plant) then she can brew up the antidote for everyone.  But you better hurry! Two fights for Morelia's hand have already broken out and things promise to get worse soon!


Morelia the Wood Witch

Ginny Di as Morelia the Wood Witch
8th Level Green Witch*, Elf

Abilities
Strength: 12
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom:  13
Dexterity: 17
Constitution: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death or poison: 10
Wands: 12
Paralysis: 11
Breath Weapons: 14
Spells: 13

AC: 9
HP: 

Spells
1st Level: Bewitch I, Charm Person, Color Spray
2nd Level: Burning Gaze, Glitterdust, Bonds of Hospitality (Ritual)
3rd Level: Dance of Frogs, What You Have is Mine (Ritual)
4th Level: Bewitch IV, Dryad's Door

*The Green Witch Tradition from my Swords & Wizardry Green Witch book is perfect for her, but I also want this character to have access to some Pagan spells. Plus I want to use her as an NPC for BX/OSE, so she is a Pagan Green Witch.  Combine books and mix and match spells.

Helping Morelia now in the adventure will pay off later.  Morelia knows about the Tridecium and what is going on with the Witch Queens.  She will be an invaluable source of information. That is if she can fix her love potion mishap.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

One Man's God: Syncretism and the Gods

Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
In the pages of the Deities & Demigods (or Gods, Demigods, and Heroes) the Gods and their Pantheons are fairly clean-cut affairs.  Greek over here, Egypt over there, Mesopotamia over there a little more. Norse WAY the hell over there.

In real-world mythology and religion, it doesn't work like that. Zeus was, and was not, exactly Jupiter. Ra was Ra, unless he was Amun-Ra or Aten.  Dumuzid was Tammuz, except for the times he was his own father. This is not counting the times when religions rise, fall, change and morph over the centuries. Today's God is tomorrow's demon.  Ask Astarte or the Tuatha D├ę Danann how things fare for them now.

Gods are messy. 

It stands to reason that gods in your games should also be as messy. 

Now, most games do not have the centuries (game time) and none have the real-time evolution of gods in their games. We use simple "spheres" and give the gods roles that they rarely deviate from.  The Forgotten Realms is an exception since its published works cover a couple hundred years of in-universe time, but even then their gods are often pretty stable.  That is to make them easier to approach and to make sales of books easier.  The Dragonlance books cover more time in the game world, but their gods are another issue entirely.

While I want to get back to my One Man's God in the proper sense I do want to take this side quest to talk about Syncretism.

Syncretism

According to the ole' Wikipedia, "Syncretism /╦łs╔¬┼őkr╔Öt╔¬z╔Öm/ is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought."  For our purposes today we are going to confine ourselves to just gods.

For game purposes, I am going to use Syncretism as the combination of two or more gods into one.  The individual gods and the syncretized god are considered to be different and separate entities.

Now years ago when I proposed the idea that gods can be different than what is stated I go some grief online from people claiming that gods are absolute truth. For example, you can cast a Commune spell and speak to a god and get an answer.  But a commune is not a cell phone. It is not email. It is only slightly better than an Ouija board.  You have no idea who, or what, is on the other end.  If you are a cleric all you have is faith.

So what is a syncretic god like? Some examples from the real world and my own games.

Hermes Trismegistus

Our poster boy for syncretism is good old Hermes Trismegistus or the Thrice Great Hermes.  He is a Hellenistic syncretism of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth.  Now, the DDG has these as very separate individuals.  Thoth is a Neutral Greater God of Knowledge, Hermes is a Neutral Greater God of Thieves, Liars, and more.  From this perspective, there does not seem to be an overlap.   But like I say above, gods are messy.  This figure is believed to have written the Corpus Hermetica, the collection of knowledge passed down to the various Hermetic Orders that would appear in later antiquity and during the Occult revivals.   Even then the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hellenistic period could be argued to be a completely different personage than the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hermetic Orders.

But is Hermes Trismegistus a God?  If you met him on the street would that mean you also met Hermes, Thoth, and Mercury? Or can all four walk into a bar together and order a drink? That answer of course is a confounding yes to all the above.  Though this is less satisfactory than say having stats for all four in a book.

The Triple Moon Goddess Heresy

Back when I was starting up my 4e game and deciding to set it in the Forgotten Realms I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the gods and goddesses of the world.  I was also already mulling some thoughts that would become One Man's God, so I decided to go full heretic.  I combined the moon goddesses all into one Goddess.  I also decided that like Krynn, Toril has three moons, but you can't see one of them.   I detailed that religion in my post Nothing Like the Sun... and I did something similar to Lolth and Araushnee in The Church of Lolth Ascendant.

Sehanine Moonbow, Sel├╗ne and Shar
Sehanine Moonbow, Sel├╗ne, and Shar by Ben Honeycutt

As expected (and maybe a little wanted) these tended to shuffle the feathers of the orthodoxy.  Thanks for that by the way.

This is all fun and everything, but what can I actually *do* with these?

Syncretic Gods make FANTASTIC witch and warlock patrons.

Witches in many pagan traditions in the real world believe that their Goddess is all goddesses.  That is syncretism to the Nth degree.  I already have a case with Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic Order. 

Here are some syncretic gods from antiquity and potential roles as patrons.

Apollo-Belenus, Patron of the sun and healing.  From the Greco-Roman Apollo and the Gaulish Belenus.

Ashtart, Patroness of love, marriage, and sex. Combines the Goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Athirat, Ishtar, Isis, and Venus. Sometimes depicted as the consort to Serapis.

Cybele, or the Magna Mater, Patroness of Motherhood and fertility. She combines many Earth and motherhood-related Goddesses such as Gaia, Rhea, and Demeter.

Serapis, the Patron of Law, Order, rulers, and the afterlife.  He is a combination of the Gods Osiris and Apis from Egypt with Hades and Dionysus of the Greek. Besides Hermes Trismegistus, he is one of the most popular syncretic gods and the one that lead archeologists and researchers to the idea of syncretism. 

Sulis Minerva, Patroness of the sun and the life-giving power of the earth. She is chaste and virginal where Ashtart is lascivious. 

And one I made up to add to this mix and smooth out some edges,

Heka, the Patroness of Magic. She combines Hecate, Cardea, (who might have been the same anyway), Isis, with bits of Ishtar (who has connections to Isis too), and Ereshkigal with some Persephone.

In my own games, I have always wanted to explore the Mystra (Goddess) and Mystara (World) connection.  

This also helps me answer an old question.  Why would a Lawful Good witch be feared or hated?  Simple that Lawful witch is worshiping a god that the orthodoxy deems as a heresy. 

A Witch (or Warlock) of the Tripple Moon Goddess in the Realms is going to be hated by both the followers of Sel├╗ne and Shar, even if they are the same alignment.  Cults are like that.

I am planning on expanding these ideas further. 

Another thing I want to explore is when a god is split into two or more gods or demons.  In this case I want to have some sort of divinity that was "killed" and from the remnants of that god became Orcus and Dis Pater, or something like that.  Orcus, Dis Pater (Dispater), and Hades have a long and odd relationship. This is not counting other gods that have floated in and out of Orcus' orbit like Aita and Soranus.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Mutants & Masterminds

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition
Mutants & Masterminds from Green Ronin might feel like a stretch from all the other systems I have done, but really it is quite appropriate given the playstyle I like.  And if I am doing a multi-verse of witches here, then it behooves me to throw some supers into the mix. 

The Game: Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition

M&M 2nd Ed was one of my favorite superhero RPGs, so it made sense for me to upgrade to the 3rd Edition when it came out.  Also given that the same system was being used in the DC Adventures RPG, I just really could not say no.

I have talked a lot about M&M 3 and DC Adventures here. And it is no surprise with my Zatanna postings that I am more of DC fan than a Marvel fan. 

I am happy to see the M&M is still going strong.  One of the true success stories of the OGL experiment. 
Green Ronin even has a Pateron for Mutants and Masterminds at https://www.patreon.com/MutantsAndMasterminds

From the very start of War of the Witch Queens, I knew there was going to be some influences from other games and other universes.  Mutants & Masterminds, which already embraces the Multiverse, was an early obvious choice for me.   But something that no one knows is that my Come Endless Darkness also had an origin point in M&M.  Back then it was going to be Dracula trying to take over the world.  I really could not pass up the chance of Dracula fighting someone named Summers.  While I moved the whole thing over to D&D (and Dracula to Strahd) I can still see some of the old DNA of M&M in it.  Some of the rest moved on to WotWQ.  One idea, in particular, was an anti-hero Sc├íthach.

Now before I get into the character of Sc├íthach, I do want to address that this is neither the Ulster cycle character Sc├íthach, nor is the Red Sonja character of Sc├íthach, The Red Goddess, though in true comic book fashion, both are inspirations.  Since she is supposed to be a witch of sorts I am going all the way back to one of my first WitchCraft RPG games that took place at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Plus I wanted a character I could port back over to D&D if I wanted.

DC Adventures

The Character: Sc├íthach the Shadow Witch

Professor Moria Stewart, Ph.D. was a lecturer on classic Irish and Scot Mythology at the University of St. Andrews.  She was busy sketching pictures of Dunscaith Castle in Scotland while working on a new paper about C├║ Chulainn when she noticed that all her sketches featured the same shadowy figure.  She did not remember drawing it, nor even seeing it.  She compared it photos she took but nothing was uncovered.  She returned to the castle site and was confronted by a Shadow.  She fell and hit her head on some rocks below the castle. She was certain to die but the figure came to her saying it would give her power if it could bond to her.  Not wanting to die Dr. Stewart agreed and became a creature of shadow herself.

While during the day she goes about her life and teaches her classes to bored undergrads by night (or when she needs too) she can veil herself in shadows and she becomes Sc├íthach the Shadow Witch!

Neve McIntosh as Scáthach
Neve McIntosh as Scáthach
Scáthach, The Shadow Witch - PL 10
Realm Name: Moria Stewart

Strength 1, Stamina 1, Agility 1, Dexterity 1, Fighting 7, Intellect 3, Awareness 2, Presence 1

Advantages
Contacts, Languages 3, Well-informed

Skills
Athletics 2 (+3), Deception 2 (+3), Expertise: History 8 (+11), Insight 2 (+4), Intimidation 2 (+3), Perception 4 (+6), Ranged Combat: Shadow Blast: Cone Area Damage 10 8 (+9), Stealth 8 (+9), Technology 4 (+7)

Powers
Blend in Shadows: Concealment 2 (Sense - Sight; Blending)
Faerie Fire: Cumulative Affliction 5 (1st degree: Impaired, 2nd degree: Disabled, 3rd degree: Unaware, Resisted by: Will, DC 15; Cumulative, Increased Range 2: perception; Limited: One sense (Sight))
Shadow Blast: Cone Area Damage 10 (shadow, DC 25; Cone Area: 60 feet cone, DC 20, Increased Range: ranged)
Shadow Form (Activation: Standard Action)
   Alternate Form (Shadow) (Activation: Standard Action)
      Concealment: Concealment 5 (All Visual Senses, Sense - Hearing; Limited 2: Darkness and Shadow)
      Insubstantial: Insubstantial 4 (Incorporeal)
      Movement: Movement 3 (Safe Fall, Trackless: Choose Sense 1, Water Walking 1: you sink if you are prone)
   Flight: Flight 6 (Speed: 120 miles/hour, 1800 feet/round)
   R├şastrad: Enhanced Fighting 6 (+6 FGT)
      Strength Effect
   Shadow Aura: Protection 6 (+6 Toughness; Sustained; Noticeable: Visible effects)
Shadow Magic: Illusion 5 (Affects: Two Sense Types - Sight, Hearling, Area: 30 cft., DC 15)
Shadow Sense: Remote Sensing 5 (Affects: Visual Senses, Range: 900 feet)
Shadow Sight: Senses 3 (shadow, Darkvision, Low-light Vision)

Offense
Initiative +1
Faerie Fire: Cumulative Affliction 5 (DC Will 15)
Grab, +7 (DC Spec 11)
Shadow Blast: Cone Area Damage 10 (DC 25)
Throw, +1 (DC 16)
Unarmed, +7 (DC 16)

Complications
Identity: Shadow Witch is different than Moria
Mythic Weakness: Can't touch any metal while in Shadow form

Languages
English, French, Greek, Latin, Scots Gaelic

Defense
Dodge 3, Parry 7, Fortitude 2, Toughness 7, Will 4

Gender: Female
Age: 35
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 145#
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Power Points
Abilities 22 + Powers 98 + Advantages 5 + Skills 20 (40 ranks) + Defenses 5 = 150

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at https://www.wolflair.com Mutants & Masterminds, Third Edition is ©2010-2017 Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

This character could be a lot of fun!  I can see her working in either the DC Universe or the M&M Universe.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Mage 20th Anniversary Edition

I want to end this week the same way I started it; with Mage.  Only this time I am focusing on the massive tome that is the Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition.

The Game: Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition

I remember picking up a copy of Vampire the Masquerade back in the early 90s and thinking it looked interesting, but nothing I was going to play really.  Though my thought did go to moving the whole thing over to Ravenloft.  It wasn't later until I had moved to Chicago to work on my Ph.D. that I found Mage.  

The ground floor of the commuter train station had a bookstore in it.  One of the pure joys of my daily commute. I picked up a copy of Mage: The Ascension (Revised) and thought that it was fantastic.  While I would ultimately stick with WitchCraft, Mage continued to have a fascination for me. Moving back and forth between the systems I ultimately landed on the idea that a "Mage" was an evolved form of a "Witch."  I did some refinements, mostly after Mage the Awakening was released, so eventually came to the idea of an "Imbolc Mage" the term borrowed from a friend that wrote about "Ascended witches."  IT worked for me.  Even in my D&D 3.0 days, an Imbolc Mage was a witch prestige class.  My Imbolc Mage is even tied back to Amy and Megan.  In one universe Amy is a good friend, in another Megan is her grandmother. In Sc├íthach/Moria Stewart's universe, she is the superhero Witchfire (but more on that tomorrow).

While Mage the Ascension grabbed my attention, it was Mage the Awakening that I created the more material for.  I soon figured out why, it was that it was very close in feel to WitchCraft.  I wanted to do something that took the best aspects, or more to the point my favorite aspects, of both games and use them together.  I grabbed the Mage Translation Guide with great glee, but I never really did anything with it.  With the release of Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition (and its nearly 700 pages) I just dropped all the work I was doing with Mage the Awakening. 

This brings me to Bri.

Brianna was really my first character specifically for Mage the Awakening.  I knew she was going to me an Imbolc Mage according to the myths of my game worlds so stating her up in Mage first made the most amount of sense.  Given that her character birthday is coming up (February 1) I think she needs to be stated up for Mage: The Ascension.  

The Character: Brianna

Of the members of this week's coven, Bri is the youngest and the most powerful.  She is also one of the oldest characters I have made and have detailed this month.  In my first Generation HEX game she was born February 1st, 2005, since that game was set in 2022 she would have been 17.  Well, she will be 16 in a couple of days, so let's see how she looks for Mage.  

One of the big changes right away is shifting her from a Verbena to a Sister of Hippolyta.  While the game even mentions that these two should have merged a long time ago they are separate still.  Given that Brianna is part of the Daughters of the Flame, the sisters feel like a much better fit really.  This is also apparent in her Avatar and Destiny Backgrounds.  She is going to do Big Things someday. But right now she is just a kid.

Abby Cowen as Bri
Abigail Cowen. She has played a witch and a fire faerie.
She is perfect as Bri.

Brianna

Nature: Activist
Demeanor: Idealist
Essence: Primordial

Affiliation: Sisters of Hippolyta
Sect: Daughters of the Flame
Concept: Guardian

Attributes
Physical

Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Stamina 3

Social
Charisma 2
Manipulation 1
Appearance 3

Mental
Perception 4
Intelligence 3
Wits 3

Abilities
Talents
Alertness 2, Athletics 1, Awareness 1, Empathy 1, Intimidation 2, Leadership 1

Skills
Martial Arts 1, Melee 1, Research 1, Survival 1, Technology 1

Knowledge
Academics 2, Computers 1, Enigmas 2, Esoterica 2, Investigation 1, Occult 3, Science 2

Spheres

Life (Affinity) 2, Mind 2, Forces 1, Prime 1, Spirit 1

Backgrounds
Avatar 3, Destiny 3, Mentor 1

Arete 3
Willpower 5
Quintessence 5

Gender: Female (she/her)
Age: 16 (DOB Feb 1, 2005)
Hair: Red
Eyes: Blue
Height: 5'5"
Weight: 120 lbs.

Yeah. This makes me want to play Mage again!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: The Great American Witch

The Great American Witch
Last year I supported the Kickstarter for Christopher Grey's The Great American Witch. It is based on a variant of the Apocalypse World Engine but has a lot of neat features of its own. I thought it might be fun to try a character for this game now.

The Game: The Great American Witch

The Great American Witch (GAW) was released last year to much excitement (well on my part certainly).  The game is quite a lot of fun, though I have not had the chance to play it as much as I would like, it has become a great resource for some of my other games.

I reviewed the game here, and interviewed the designer Christopher Grey here

While I continue to be mostly unimpressed by Powered by the Apocalypse games, this one deviates enough from that standard to make it more interesting to me. Plus I do like the character, craft, and coven building material within the book.  The coven building, in particular, has been very helpful for my Basic-era War of the Witch Queens game. I can also see it working great for WitchCraft and maybe even WITCH: Fated Souls.  The Crafts of GAW could also work out well enough, narratively, as different "Crafts" of the Wicce in WitchCraft. 

Still, I see a lot of potential for this game and I am happy I picked it for today's challenge.

The Character: Amy Nakamura

Amy is a character I have used as an NPC in my WitchCraft/Buffy games before but never stated her out.  I thought it might be fun to detail her a little more here.  Though in previous versions she was a follower of Brigit.   This Amy did not become "Brigh daughter of Brigit" instead she became something of a solitary witch looking to protect others on her own.  Since my War of the Witch Queens spans the multiverse I am going to say that "Amy" was needed, but instead of Brigh they got this Amy.  Or maybe in this world, she is the one that has that needed multiversal connection. 

For a lot of reasons that make sense mostly to me, she is a "Craft of Tara" witch, "Coven of the Storm".

Character creation in GAW actually begins with Coven Creation.  For this coven I am going to choose the witches I have been featuring this week, Megan, Fiona, Alexandria, and Amy, each pulled from their timelines. 

Coven of the Storm

Oath: Use force to enact change
Holy Day: Samhain
Hearth: A hidden building
Connections & Resources: A hideout that cannot be located by natural or supernatural means.

Coven Resources: Few. Witches operate in the mundane world
Staus: Well thought of by those that know.
Mainstream? Witches need to come together.
Mundane? Has value, but not important
Influence: Not well known
Members: Only these characters

witch
Photo by Joy Marino from Pexels
Amy Nakamura
Craft of Tara

Mercy -1
Wisdom -1
Severity +2

Maiden: Tara Swift and Heroic
Mother: Blue Tara
Crone: Black Tara

Refuge: Personal Shrine
Background: Family has always practiced the craft
Lifestyle: Spritual activist
Personality: Optimistic and supportive

Relationships
Who helps you keep peace in the coven? Megan
Who is the most volatile and needs the most management? Fiona
Who gives you the strength to confront challenges? Megan and Alexandria
Who confronts challenges for you? Alexandria
Who brings balance to the coven? Megan and Amy
Who brings the coven out of balance: Fiona

Ok! So I have a character here that works great for this game.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: WITCH Fated Souls

WITCH: Fated Souls

We are getting near the end of this challenge and I find I am sad to see it go.  I am going to revisit these characters all at a later date I am sure.  Maybe reunite them under one system.  Today though I want to go back to a system I really like but rarely get to do anything with.  Elizabeth Chaipraditkul's WITCH: Fated Souls.

The Game: WITCH: Fated Souls

WITCH: Fated Souls was part of a very successful Kickstarter and later sales on DriveThruRPG. It shares many of the background features of WitchCraft but in a different way.  That will be a theme all this week. WITCH:FS also has "witches" and how they use magic to affect the worlds around them. It is a different take on some of the same ideas and I always find it a joy to read.

I did a lengthy review of the game a while back, and it was part of another Character Challenge where I stated up Thomasin from "The VVitch" in different systems.  

The system is pretty easy to learn and is flexible.  I prefer WitchCraft in many ways, but that is hardly a fair comparison.  There is a lot that WITCH:FS does very well and I do wish I spent more time with it. It is a game that rewards your investment of time to it with the characters becoming more and more interesting as they progress.  There is every bit of the same sort of world-building here that happens in WitchCraft or The World of Darkness games.  It just needs a GM that will give it the time that it deserves.

WITCH: Fated Souls

The Character: Alexandria

Alexandria has been with me in idea form for a little while.  Her concept writ large is a "Tireless Social Justice Witch."  She is not afraid to fight for what she believes is right and she doesn't back down.  

Also, I always imagined her as looking like Cuban singer Camila Cabello. Why? Because I adore her and I listened to a lot of her music to get the right vibe for this character.

Camila Cabello
Alexandria is portrayed by Camila Cabello
Alexandria

Fate: Djinn
Familiar: Appears as a small bluebird

Attributes
Intelligence: 3
Wisdom: 2
Perception: 3
Charisma: 3
Manipulation: 3
Dexterity: 3
Strength: 3
Stamina: 3

Skills
Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Craft 2, Deception 2, Dodge 2, Empathy 1, Expression 1, Intimidation 1, Perform 2, Spot 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2, Thievery 1, Wits 1

Hit Points
Hurt: 12, Injured 12, Mauled 7, Unconcious 3
Soak: 0
Initiative Mod: 3

CD to Hit: 12

Pursuits: Property 3, Contacts 1, Funds 1

Spell Level: 1

Talents: Casting 2, Potions 1, Occult 1

Spells: Emneya
Cantrips (Tether), Canto I, II

This is a fun character. I can't wait to see what she has in store. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: C. J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG

C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG
We are in the last week of this Character Creation Challenge.  I wanted to spend this last week on modern games. That is games that take place in modern times. Yesterday was Chill, today I am going to go with what might the game I love more than D&D. C. J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG.

The Game: C. J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG

Mere words can't express my love for this game. Though I have tried many, many times. This is the game I come back to. This is the game that hold up as my Gold Standard of Games.  Not that it isn't without it's own issues of course, but nothing I can't work around or even with.  I have often said I wrote Ghosts of Albion as nothing but a giant love letter to the WitchCraft RPG.

WitchCraft was the game that pulled me back into RPGs. I was ready to give up until I found this game. I have never looked back. 

Not only is it a great game with some great supplements, but it is also supremely flexible. There is really nothing I can't do with this game.  Add on some of the other "Classic" Unisystem games like All Flesh Must Be Eaten (Zombie survival horror), Armageddon the End Times (Post-apocalypse reckoning), and Conspiracy X 2.0 (Aliens and Government conspiracies) you have an entire world of options.  But honestly, the game is perfect as it is.

If you don't believe me, grab the PDF for free from Eden Studios on DriveThruRPG

The Character: Fiona

Fiona is, or is based on, the character from the opening fiction and she is the "Cover girl" of core rule book.  "Head Zombie" George Vasilakos, the CEO of Eden painted that. It is seriously one of the best pieces of art for any gamebook ever.  

Fiona is a young witch and maybe, just maybe she is a bit of a stereotype, and she maybe is based a little on Fiona Apple circa 1999. 

Fiona from WitchCraft
Fiona
Gifted Wicce Wierd One

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

Life Points 36
Endurance Points 29
Speed 10
Essence Pool 20

Channeling Level 1

Qualities / Drawbacks
Gifted (5)
Attractive 2
Hard to Kill 2
Humorless -1
Obsession -2
Photographic Memory 2
Recurring Nightmares -1

Essence Channeling 1 (2)
Increased Essence Pool 1

Skills
Computer 2, Craft (Herbal) 3, Dodge 3, Fine Arts (Painting) 2, Humanities (History) 2, Language (French 2), Magic Theory 3, Occult Knowledge 3, Research 2, Rituals (Wicce) 2, Streetwise 1 

Metaphysics
Farsight 2, Insight 2, Lesser Healing 2, Soulfire 2, Shielding 2

I have likely seen hundreds of Unisystem characters over the years. Fiona here is pretty much everyone's starting character.  Gifted, Wicce. Weird One is a fun concept and one most gamers can relate to. Marginally better mental stats than physical.  Hard to Kill is most often taken.  So is Situational Awareness, but I ran out of points in favor of Photographic Memory.  Skills are predictable with some point variances here and there.  Metaphysics include a couple of utilities, healing, an attack, and a defense. She has French as a language instead of the more "Occulty" Latin, Hebrew or Greek because she is a Wicce, not a Rosicrucian.  She seems more like the "spooky goth" witch and not the "crunchy earth child" witch.

Still, she would be fun to play.  Let the Chronicler play on those Nightmares. Maybe it is her Farsight while she is sleeping. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Chill 3rd Edition

Chill RPG, 3rd Edition
Jumping WAY ahead to the future today; at least in terms of the Dark Ages, to the magic time of the 1970s!  All my campaigns share a link in one way or another.  Adventures like "All Souls Night" may start with D&D or other FRPG, they eventually make their way to "Blight" (Ghosts of Albion) and "The Dark Druid" (Buffy).  Spirit of '76 is another good example.  It begins, oddly enough, in 1976 and with Chill.

The Game: Chill 3rd Edition

Spend any time here and you know I am very fond of Chill.  The first edition from Pacesetter came out of Minnesota. Second Edition from Mayfair was right here in the Chicago burbs.  Chill is Midwestern horror.  Not East Coast horror with it's ancient houses and older bloodlines. Not West Coast horror with new-wave vampires. Nor is it Southern Gothic, while very enjoyable, is not the same. 

No Chill is backwoods horror. Old decrepit house horror. Horror found on darkened roads between small towns. The horror I grew up with.  

My campaign for Chill was/is my Spirit of '76 game.  It was designed as a Chill mini-campaign over 4 days.  It was built up while I was playing a lot of WitchCraft and Buffy.  The idea was that supernatural occurrences, once rare, were picking up in intensity and frequency the closer we got to the new Millennium. This would later change to 2012 and then 2018 as real-time overtook these "future" events.  You can see some of that in my "Generation HEX" Nightworld in NIGHT SHIFT.   Originally this was going to be for Chill 2nd Edition, but even that time got away from me so now it is for 3rd Edition.  Thankfully the narrative in the new game follows the one I was creating.

Chill RPG all three editions

The Character: Megan O'Kelly

"Megan" began as "Stephanie" in an older game back when "Spirit of '76" was "Summer of Love" and taking place in 1968.  I wanted to keep Stephanie where she was but I wanted to do the Summer of 1976 instead, so Megan was "born."   She is a young grad student at UC-Berkeley. I imagined her with long straight hair and wearing bell-bottoms.  Something of a post-hippie 70s girl.  She called herself a "Craft worker" or a "cleanser" but never a "witch."  Her inspirations come from the Eric Clapton song "Bellbottom Blues" and Eliza Roberts from Animal House.  I changed the character because I wanted to bring in an older Stephanie at some point but I never did.

Megan is assigned to SAVE in 1976 to help a small band of operatives investigating the rise of supernatural occurrences in the South West to the Deep South.

Megan O'Kelly. Played by Eliza Roberts.
Megan O'Kelly 
SAVE Operative

Attributes (80 pt build)
Agility AGL 50
Strength STR 40
Stamina STA 45

Focus FOC 60
Personality PSY 50
Willpower WRP 55

Dexterity DEX 40
Perception PCN 70
Reflexes REF 55

Sensing the Unknown STU 14

Skills (Specializations)
Movement (T) 50, Long Distance (E)
Prowess (T) 40
Close Quarters Combat 23

Research (T) 60, Academic (E), Occult (B)
Communication (T) 50
Interview 28

Fieldcraft 20
Investigation 35
Ranged Weapons 28

Edges and Drawbacks
Attractive (2), Highly Attuned (1), Naïve (-2)

The Art
Protective School
Disrupt
Sphere of Protection (E), Mental Shield (B)

Sensing School
Clairvoyant (E)

Drive
To Know the Truth

So Megan is a recent UC Berkeley grad.  She is a clairvoyant and specializes in seeing ghosts and putting spirits to rest.  Her background is psych grad student so her academics are already at Expert (but not yet Master) and she ran track in High School, so she has some athletics, but not a lot. She is still a bit na├»ve about the world around her but she is not stupid. 

Third Edition Chill is really better at PCs learning "The Art" (magic) than previous editions, so I think this version really works out much better than previous incarnations of Megan/Stephanie.