Monday, December 24, 2018

Kris Kringle, Winter Warden

The lands of the north are full of magic. There is the Abominable Snow Monster, also known as the Bumble, the Dreaded Winter Warlock and human evils like the Burgomeister Meisterburger.  To protect the children of the lands of the north there is a fierce guardian, a Winter Warden, a man named Kringle.

Here is Kringle as a Warden from my new book The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry.

Kris Kringle
Winter Warden, 12th level
Human Male, Lawful

Abilities
Strength 16
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 16
Dexterity 17
Constitution 16
Charisma 18

Hit Points: 70
AC:  6 (Heavy coat and dex)
Saving Throws: 4

Favored Enemy: Anyone that mistreats or harms children or animals.

Spells
Druid 
1st level (3): Locate Animals, Predict Weather, Snowball
2nd level (2): Cure Light Wounds, Flurry of Snowballs
3rd level (1): Ward of the Season

Witch
1st level (2): Animal Friend, Create Snow
2nd level (1): Raven Spy

Equipment: Kringle coat, magic snowball, a huge sack of toys.

The man who would be known as Kris Kringle was left as a baby near the home of the Kringle Barbegazi (Ice Gnomes). Those these gnomes had also lived close to many Álfar (Snow Elves) that they had picked up their ways.  Many local humans simply called them Kringle Elves.
Kris grew to manhood and took on his adoptive family's decree as the First Toy Makers to the King to deliver toys across the mountains to Sombertown, the only place where the Kringles had not given out their toys (they were related to Tinker Gnomes as well).


To do so he had to first face the terrible Winter Warlock, whom he defeated but would take on as a friend.  The Winter Warlock (now Lawful and lost some of his powers) provided him with his Snowball of Seeing and magic corn for his flying reindeer.


Kringle is the current Winter Warden for the area surrounding Sombertown.  No one is sure who his parents are, but it is suspected his father was a powerful wizard or cleric.

--

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Other Side!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Queen Elsa, the Winter Witch

I just recently watched "Frozen" (I know, I am late to the game) and I admit it lived up to the hype.  I am very familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Snow Queen" in which Frozen is based, but it became a very different story when it hit the big screen.
In any case, Elsa, much like her literary counterpart the Snow Queen, can be depicted as a Winter Witch.

Another good reason to consider her a witch is her voice is done by Idina Menzel, who is also known for her portrayal of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked.  That's a serious witch-pedigree in my book.

So here is Elsa, the Winter Witch Queen for my newest book, The Winter Witch.

Elsa, Queen of Arendelle
Human Female, Lawful
20th level witch
Winter Witch Tradition

Abilities
Strength 12
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 13
Dexterity 16
Constitution 15
Charisma 18

Hit Points: 54
AC:  5 (dress is made of ice granting a +3 to AC, +1 due to dex)
Saving Throws: 4
+1 to cold-based attacks, +2 to charm spells

Occult Powers
Familiar: Snow Golem "Olaf".
Lesser: Cool Demeanor. +2 to cold-based saves, +1 to mind-affecting spell saves.
Minor: Pass Without Trace
Major: Hyperborean Apotheosis

Spells
1st level (6): Chill, Chill Touch, Freezing Hands, Hold Portal, Ice Dagger, Obscuring Cloud
2nd level (6): Flurry of Snowballs, Fogbank, Frigid Slowness, Gust of Wind, Ice Armor, Winter's Grasp
3rd level (6): Aura of Frost, Chilling Mist, Ice Spears, Sleet Storm, Soul of Frost, Weather the Storm
4th level (5): Conjuration of Ice Elementals, Elemental Armor, Ice Storm, Mirror Talk, Wall of Ice
5th level (5): Breathe Frost, Cone of Cold, The Howling, Ice Bridge, Summon Weather
6th level (4): Blanket of Healing, Control Weather, Freezing Sphere, Frigid Chrysalis
7th level (3): Freezing Cloud, Ice Body, Ice Castles
8th level (3): Antipathy/Sympathy, Encase in Ice, Glacial Slide

For a "kid's movie" Elsa can do some serious freaking damage if she wanted too.

Speaking of damage, if you have not seen it here is Else in a Rap battle against Snow White.



My money is on the Queen.

Even real Norwegians love her.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Winter Is HERE! The Winter Witch Tradition for Swords & Wizardry

From the lands of the Ice and Snow comes the newest Witch Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.

The Winter Witch Tradition


With this book, you can now learn the secrets of the Winter Witch, the living personification of all that makes winter the most dazzling and the most dangerous season.

Inside you will find:

The Winter Witch tradition and the Winter Warlock Pact
The Vǫlva and Warden classes
New races for S&W Complete to suit the winter world.
  • 130+ witch spells
    • 100+ Warlock spells
    • 14 Cleric spells 
    • 40+ Druid and Magic-User spells 
50+ Monsters
New Treasure, magic items and artifacts of powerful witches.

Art by Dean Spencer, Jacob E. Blackmon, Daniel Comerci, Larry Elmore, William McAusland, Todd Shearer, and Josh Soper.

All for your Swords & Wizardry games!

Winter is here, are you ready?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hand Her A Sword

I just watched the best panel discussion on instilling confidence in girls through RPGs.  I was at PAX Unplugged here just recently and featured Satine Phoenix, BJ Hensley, Kate Welch, Dr. Megan Connell and moderated by Ethan Schoonover.

I could describe it, but it's just better to watch it.



I found many, many parallels in what they are talking about here and playing D&D with children with varying stages of Learning Disabilities.  As some of you may recall I was running games for a while at my kids' schools.  Pathfinder, D&D4 and D&D5.  My sons also have a couple groups they run.
So I have seen children on different levels of the autistic spectrum, children with full on ADHD and auditory processing disorders.  I have seen D&D help them focus, learn coping skills, time management skills and higher order organizational skills.

I keep thinking I really should apply my education and those Ph.D.s I worked on to this issue. But in truth I just love to see the kids play and learn.  I can leave this in the more than capable hands of Dr. Connell.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monstrous Mondays: Undead Frost Giant

Just a few short days till the Winter Witch is out.  Here is another frozen fiend to throw at your players!  Again, the inspiration for this one should be obvious.
This is me, saving the best for last!

Giant, Frost, Undead
Hit Dice: 12
Armor Class: 2 [18]
Attack: 2 fist (2d8), weapon (3d8), frost breath (4d6),  Constitution Drain
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Undead; Energy Drain, Frost breath, Immune to cold
Movement: 12
Alignment: Chaotic
Number Encountered: 1d3
Challenge Level/XP: 14/2,600
The horrible undead frost giant appears much as a giant wight or draugr. Indeed they are the wights among the Frost Giants. Horrible as they are powerful, these giant creatures appear as frozen skeletons with bits of armor still frozen to their frames.
In their frozen existence they forget much about what they were so they tend to attack with fists or by whatever weapons they had when they died.  They do have two special attacks they can use. First is a breath weapon of cold air that can do 4d6 points of damage. That is the only attack they can perform that round and they can only do it every other round.  They also have a level draining attack that drains 1 level Constitution per a successful fist attack.  These creatures do not hurl rocks like their living counterparts.
These giants are usually found in great wastes and usually on the spot where they died. They typically do not have treasure save what they may have been carrying at the time of their death.
Undead Frost Giants are turned as Vampires (12 HD).
(

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Featured Artist: Anna Marine

I am not sure how I found my next Featured Artist, I am just glad I did!

Anna Marine is from Prague, Czech Republic and is an amazing talent.  As you can expect from me she loves to draw witches and demons.

Here is a commission I had gotten from her for my Swords & Wizardry White Box Witch.
She was so great to work with that I am now looking for any excuse to get to do it again!


It's a young Larina flying to her sabbat sky-clad.  She does some really wonderful stuff.


Her newest is "Yule".










You can buy all these prints from her Big Cartel or Etsy stores.

You can find her on the net at:
She is available for commissions as well.


Thanks so much Anna!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

BlackStar: The Influence of Clark Ashton Smith

For the past month, I have been reading all the stories of Clark Ashton Smith in roughly chronological order.  In many ways, I like his works more than I do of H.P. Lovecraft's.  I find CAS easier to approach and his protagonists more relatable. '

Recently I just finished Marooned in Andromeda first of what is commonly called "The Captain Volmar Stories". The next one was A Captivity in Serpens and a third, which I have not gotten to yet, The Ocean-World of Alioth.  What struck me was how much they were like Star Trek.  Add in the Lovecraftian like horror of Marooned in Andromeda and you practically have a blue-print for what I want in BlackStar.

Indeed, the Trek connection has not gone unnoticed.  Ronald S. Hilger and Scott Connors the editors of the Night Shade collection in which all three stories appear make not of the similarities between Captains Volmar and Kirk.  Captivity in Serpens presages the Next Generation episode "The Most Toys" with it's crew member in captivity for a personal collection.

While doing some research this morning I came across the beginning of an adventure I had started back in the late 80s / early 90s for the then Next Generation version of FASA's Star Trek RPG.

I mentioned this last month as the adventure "Ghost Ship".  As time went on it was the Enterprise B (lost according to my notes in 2329, the Enterprise C was launched in 2332), but before that, it was the USS Excelsior.  In my document here it predates even that and it was the USS Necromancer.   Astute readers might recall that the NX-3113 USS Necromancer is one of the "Ships of the Line" of the Mystic Class.   The Necromancer seems to be a bit on the nose for this.  Instead given the writings of CAS and the main representative of his work in the OSR world,  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, it seems best to call the ship the NX-3102 USS Sorcerer

I was thinking that maybe I could use the events of the CAS Capt. Volmar stories to give my Horror Universe a bit more of a backstory. Volmar's ship was called Alcyone.   The Alcyone system is about 445 light years from Earth, so not sure if I could say Volmar is from Alcyone. So I going to say that the Alcyone was his previous command.  His name is Howard Solomon Volmar since he has been compared to Robert E. Howard's creation, Solomon Kane.

There is so much more here too.

Seedling of Mars deals with an alien craft that lands in California in 1947 (the future from CAS' then perspective) that carries a group of scientist to Mars where it's one lifeform is a planet-wide hybrid of plant and animal that is near god like.  While CAS' martian is a benign entity, it does have the look of a Lovecraftian monster.  One could imagine a great Cthulhuoid beast in its place.  The deal that makes with humanity is less for their benefit and more Faustian in return.  Indeed in CAS' tale, the being wipes out much of the Earth's population but it's ok since those are the ones that were not scientifically minded.  The rest of humanity is relocated onto Venus. Still, while this story is more Science-Fantasy it just needs a nudge to push it out of the light and into the dark of Horror.

Clark Ashton Smith in My Games
It is fair to say that CAS has had more influence on my games than Lovecraft has, save for the effect Lovecraft had on CAS himself.
In my regular D&D 5 games (and before that) CAS has had a huge effect on my game universe as detailed here:


For these, I made a special effort to reread or in other cases re-read all the Averoigne stories to get a good feel of Medieval Horror.  It was great.

These days the Atlantis and Hyperborea tales of CAS are well handled by Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.   Actually, I would love to use AS&SH as the system for a Zothique game.  I have already taken ideas from it for BlackStar and plan to have the PCs travel to Yamil Zacra: The Infernal Star.

Depending on how my BlackStar game goes I could conceivably pull another "Where No One Has Gone Before" and send the poor crew of the Protector to Earth, 250-300 Million years in the future.

I could combine this with the "Ghost Ship" idea above. Though that might be too much.
Alternately, I could alter my Starcrash on Hyperborea adventure idea to Starcrash on Zothique.  I kinda like that idea. Shades of "The Time Machine" here too.  It would also give the option of something I wanted to try in some other games.  I have wanted the PCs to run into their future-incarnations; their reincarnated souls as it were in new bodies.  The excuse I would give is that the Earth is so old now that old forms are being reused. 

If I wanted to bring in some Atlantis I could just use some of my ideas for Doggerland.

The Black Gate ran a fantastic series on Clark Ashton Smith.  I won't link all of them here, just ones that are germane to this discussion, but they are all good.
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