Friday, April 11, 2014

A to Z of Witches. J

J is for Ju-ju

Juju has some similar origins as does Voodoo.  Both are west African in origin and both have similar linguistic roots, but the two are not related.

In modern language Juju has also come to mean Magic or magical like properties. Similar to the way Hex has been used.  Though today one can talk about "Bad" and "Good" Juju.

In the Monster Manual II we were introduced to a new zombie type, the Ju-ju zombie.
It was stronger, faster and more powerful than the standard walking dead.  Ir was the result of a character being killed by a "Drain Energy" spell.

I like the idea of Juju Zombies actually being a creation of witchcraft.  Maybe it is because I have been rereading the Anita Blake books, but I like the idea of a more powerful zombie being raised by a witch or a necromancer. Above and beyond what a wizard could do.

A juju Zombie is created by the 5th Level Witch Spell Animate Dead.  Even though it has no true intelligence  it can "remember" what it once was and act accordingly.  The Juju Zombie has more HD than a regular zombie. On average I like to say 3 or 4.  Makes them tough for low level characters.

Zombie, Ju-ju
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8+9** (23 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws, 1bite
Damage: 1d6+3, 1d6+3 / 1d4+2
Special: undead
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1-3
Saves As: Fighter 5
Morale: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 500

The Ju-ju zombie is a stronger, faster version of the zombie.  While zombies are mindless, slow moving corpses, the ju-ju is strong, fast and retains a bit of the intelligence of it's original life.
The ju-ju can be created by a witch or necromancer using the Animate Dead spell and the body of a fighter of at least 3rd level.  Normal, non-necromancer, wizards can only raise a regular zombie.
Like a normal zombie this type can be given instructions, but they can be longer and bit more complicated.  On the average they would have an intelligence of about 3-4 (regular zombies would be at 1).
The ju-ju zombie is turned as if it were a wight.

Supernatural AtoZ

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This is not the greatest song in the world.

This is just a tribute to the greatest song in the world.

We'er off to the witch. We may never never never come home.
But the magic that we feel is worth a lifetime.

Sorry. But Dio (and Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath) are so much a part of my gaming history I figure a Dio Retro Clone would be appropriate.

A to Z of Witches. I

I is for Incantatrix and Imbolc Mage

The Incantatrix is an interesting character class in the D&D game.  She began her life in the pages of Dragon Magazine (issue #90) as something akin to a "spell thief" or a magic-user that could steal spells out of the minds of other spellcasters.  When the game was updated to 3rd Edition another Incantatrix appeared.  This one, in the lands of Faerûn, became a mistress of meta-magical skills.

We even got an "OSR" version for Swords & Wizardry.

For me these are all interesting, but not what I had in mind as an Incantatrix.

Incantatrix comes from the Latin meaning "witch" or "enchantress".  Now games (and books and movies) have played pretty fast and loose with names in the past, but lets use this one to our advantage.

If the name is related to Enchantress then I would expect them to be able to cast, if not master, enchantment spells.  In Pathfinder (and most versions of D&D prior to that) have had schools of magic.  Enchantment is one of those schools.  The Incantatrix then specializes in magic from this school, more so than an Enchantress type Wizard and more so than a Witch.  Also I think I would want to throw in some Abjuration type spells as well.

I did a quick check with my spell spreadsheets and Enchantment and Abjuration spells are about 20% of all spells, 20% of witch and 20% of wizard spells too.  There are also a lot of Enchantment spells that are not Witch or Wizard. A lot of Bard ones for example.
So I am getting an idea here.

So for me an Incantatrix would need to be focused on her Enchantment and Abjuration spells, almost to the inclusion of all else.

Like the Imbolc Mage I did a while back, the Incantatrix would be a spellcasting Prestige Class.
For those not in the know, that is like Grad School.  You focus on something to the exclusion of all else.

Witch by Bloodyman88

Hit Dice: d6

To qualify as an Icantatrix, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Ability: Charisma score of 16 or better.
Feat: any metamagic feat
Knowledge (arcana): 10 Ranks
Spell casting: Ability to cast 3rd level Enchantment spells; Arcane Spellcaster

Class Skills
The Incantatrix's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int) and Use Magical Device (Cha)

Skill points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier

Incantatrix Progression
Class Level Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
1st +1 +0 +0 +2 Charm Resistance +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +1 +0+3 xxx +1 level of existing class
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 xxx +1 level of existing class
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 xxx +1 level of existing class
5th +3 +2 +1 +4 xxx +1 level of existing class
6th +3 +2 +2+5 xxx +1 level of existing class
7th +4 +2 +2 +5 xxx +1 level of existing class
8th+4 +3 +2 +6 xxx +1 level of existing class
9th +5 +3+3 +6 xxx +1 level of existing class
10th+5 +3 +3 +7 xxx +1 level of existing class

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the incantatrix prestige class.

Weapon & Armor Proficiency: The incantatrix only learns to use simple martial weapons. They gain no additional proficiency in armor.

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

Spell Use: The incantatrix continues to gain spell levels in her arcane spell class. If she has more than one arcane spell casting class then she chooses one to advance in.  The Incantatrix only gains spells, she doesn't gain extra abilities as if leveling up in that class, such as Witches' Hexes.

Charm Resistance (Su):  The incantatrix is extra resistant to the tools of her own trade.  She gains an additional bonus equal to her CHA + 1/2 her Incantatrix level bonus to saving throws against Enchantment, Charm and Compulsion magic.

xxx: Still working these out. ;)  There are some good powers for the Icantatrix, but I have not worked them all out.

Supernatural AtoZ

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A to Z of Witches. H

H is for Hexes, Hex and Hex Girls

The word "Hex" gets thrown around a lot when dealing with witches.
A simple search shows it gets thrown around a lot here too.
I have talked about the SkyOne TV show HEX, the Skylander's character Hex, as well as The Hex Girls from Scooby Doo.  Plus there is one of my favorite movies on Witchcraft, Häxan or Witchcraft Through the Ages.

But what exactly is a Hex?

A Hex is a minor, usually malevolent spell.
In my d20 book Liber Mysterium a Hex was a witch cantrip, much the same way an Orison was was cleric cantrip.

In Pathfinder though a Hex has taken on a whole new meaning.  It is a spell like ability of a witch.
I also have used spell like abilities for witches in a number of my books, but I usually call them Occult Powers.

When working on Strange Brew I had to figure out a way to get Hexes and Occult Powers to play nice with each other.  Not always an easy task to be honest.
Fortunately there is a lot of parity between the Hexes and Occult Powers.  Regular, Grand and Major Hexes line up nicely to Minor, Medial and Greater Occult Powers.

Here are a couple that I have translated over.
All of these are presented as 100% OGC for terms of the Open Gaming License.
Section 15: "Witch Hexes", Copyright 2014 Timothy S. Brannan


Immune to Fear (Su)
The witch becomes so focused in purpose and drive that she becomes immune to the effects of mundane and natural fear.  She also gains +1 per her witch level to any checks versus magically induced fear.

Major Hex

Undetectable Presence (Su)
The witch gains the ability to pass through any terrain undetected. This extends to her party, up to 2 members plus her level. This functions as the druid spell Pass without a Trace. 

Grand Hex

Charge of the Goddess (Su)
The witch at this point is such a force for her Patron that she can summon the Goddess’ own power into herself.  The witch radiates an aura of Fear at 15’ to all her enemies.  She gains a bonus of +3 to all her saves and AC.  She also gains +2 to all offensive attack forms, spells or weapons.  This charge lasts for a number of rounds equal to the witch’s Charisma score.  It may be performed once per day and takes one full action to perform.

They worked great as Occult Powers, lets see how they work as Hexes.

Supernatural AtoZ

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A to Z of Witches. G

G is for Gris-gris

A Gris-gris, or grigri, is a talisman found in voudun or voodoo practices.

For my games a talisman is the simplest magic item a witch can create.  A Gris Gris is the same for a Voodoo witch.  Now I have not exactly decided yet what a voodoo witch is for Strange Brew.
It could be a witch archetype, a multiclass path of a witch and shaman or witch and cleric. Or something new.

What ever a voodoo witch is or will be the Gris-gris is more or less set in my mind.
It is always made of natural materials, something the witch could make on her own without the need of another craftsman.  So cloth or leather pouch that she wove or tanned herself.  To me that is the important part.  While some magic items focus on the quality or even the masterwork of the item (like a wand, staff or sword) the gris-gris needs to be personal.  In fact the exact ingredients in the gris-gris should be different from witch to witch.

my new dice bag from Blessed be Garden (sadly closed)

While Pathfinder/d20 has pretty good rules about magic item creations in terms of what needs to go into it, the gris-gris runs counter to all that.  So for a witch a gris-gris of protection could include a bit of cloth that was cut from her mother's dress and bit of wood from the house she grew up in.  While another might include the key to a locked door.

For Pathfinder,

Create Talisman [Item Creation, Witch]
With Create Talisman you can create the weakest of all magical items, a talisman.
Prerequisite: Membership of a witch tradition. Each tradition has slightly different means
You may create the simplest of all magical items, a Talisman. A Talisman can hold only one spell (or cantrip, charm or hex) of a maximum of 3rd level. The talisman can be made of stone, paper, clay or any object that can be written upon. The object must be used for this purpose only. Talismans can only be used once. After use the medium that was written on become unusable for other talismans. Spells that may be used for talismans are indicated in the Witch Spell Lists. This is an item creation feat that all witches gain for free.
The base price of this feat is 10 gp multiplied by the spell level (not the price for a similar item in the Core Rulebook II). The XP cost is 1/25 of this base cost (rounded up). The material component cost is half of the base cost. The witch or any other person regardless of class or alignment may use a talisman.
For example: a 1st level witch creates a talisman of Charm Person (1st level), she chooses to inscribe a flat piece of clay with a charm symbol. The base cost for this item is 10 gp, then the XP cost is 10/25 or 0.4 XP (rounded to 1 XP) and the material costs (clay, special incense, a special stylus) is 5 gp. So the witch will spend 5 gold pieces and 0.4 xp

I have extended this feat to Druids as well.  We called the gris-gris of a druid "mojo bags".  Maybe not the most celtic of names, but it has stuck.  Maybe something like "mála draíochta"  would be better.

Supernatural AtoZ

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z of Witches. F

F is for Familiar

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 

Deu 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

One of the easiest ways to be labeled a witch during the European Witch hunts was to be an older woman with a lot of animals.  Today you are more likely to be labeled as a "Cat Lady" or worse "Crazy Cat Lady".

I talked about Familiars in my very first A to Z blog challenge.
For me familiars are what really set witches apart from Wizards.  While wizards can certainly use them, witches HAVE to use them.

In my 2011 post I was focused on my then WIP The Witch.  Today I am thinking more along the lines of Pathfinder.  The Pathfinder witch needs her familiar to learn her spells. The familiar is not a pet but the conduit to her Patron.

While most religious texts and witch hunting manuals refer to familiar spirits as being evil in the game they can be of any alignment (good or evil) and most often reflect the will, or at least the whim, of the Witch's Patron.

Pathfinder Witch Familiars are a little different. The witch familiar in Pathfinder is in fact the source of the witch's magical knowledge.   With a bit of re-skinning you could have a familiar like Bob the Skull from the Dresden Files or even the Book of Shadows from Charmed.
Obviously things like "Speak with other animals of it's kind" and the familiar special ability would need to be seriously retooled.

For a "Book of Shadows" familiar (that is where is book is a semi-aware artifact) I would give a +3 check on Use Magic Device or even a +3 Knowledge (Arcana).  I like that one.  Same with the Floating/Semi-aware Skull.

The speak with others is trickier.  Maybe with a Book of Shadow Familiar the witch gains the ability to read other languages, though in a modified way.  I think a certain limited number of languages would need to be decided on in the beginning of the witch's play and then only those languages could be used.  Sure a cat and only speak to other cats, but that is speech and easier.  A written language would be different and you could say that the book needs to have been written in one of those languages.  The witch can read it in her Book of Shadows right away, but not when she sees it elsewhere, at least not till 7th level.  I would rule 1 common (ei it appears on the list in most books) and 2 rare languages.

Here are the others.

Natural Armor Adj.
A Book of Shadows or Floating Skull gets this as well.

Alertness (Ex)
Same with both the BoS and FS.

Empathic Link (Su)
This works differently for the BoS.  Since the BoS acts like something akin to the Akashic Records maybe replace this with a feat like Skill Focus (Knowledge).
Actually I rather like the idea of the Akashic Record being the source/familiar and the Book of Shadow being the physical manifestation.  After all, familiars can get killed in the game but brought back.  A book can be burned and brought back via the copy in the Akashic record.

Not exactly restoring a Book of Shadows, but this is what it looked like on the show.

Improved Evasion (Ex)
Feats like improved evasion are still good for a Floating Skull, but for a book maybe Improved Fortitude for spells or situations that might set it a flame. (See there is a reason witches are burned, destroy their spellbooks too).

Share Spells

Store Spells

Deliver Touch Spells (Su)
This one is different.  It would be fine for a floating skull, but not so much a Book.  Gotta replace this one with something similar.

Speak with Master (Ex)
If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.

Speak with Animals of Its Kind (Ex)
Mentioned above. For a Floating Skull I would say Speak to the Dead.

Spell Resistance (Ex)

Scry on Familiar (Sp)
Another tricky one.  If the book or skull are left in a covenstead (a place where the coven meets) then it works. Carried with the witch it is a little harder.

Those are the ideas I have had brewing now for a bit.

Yeah I know I sometimes get grief for my love of Charmed. Too bad. My blog.

Supernatural AtoZ

Sunday, April 6, 2014

zatannurday: Sunday Special Joe Quinones Sneak Peaks

This Zatannur--er--sunday.

With the April A to Z going on every day I thought I could let Zatanna have the day on Sunday.

Joe Quinones has been posting some sneak peaks of the Zatanna/Black Canary crossover "Bloodspell" over at his blog,

Really looking forward to this.
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