Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Warlocks & Warriors (1977)

Warlocks & Warriors Box cover
The weekend before last I was at my FLGS and in their "glass case" there was a game that I have been wanting since I opened my first "Gateway to Adventure."  That game is Warlocks & Warriors.

While the game has some serious nostalgia value to it (details in a bit) the game itself is so simple it makes Dungeon! look like RuneQuest or Champions.

Choose to be a warrior or a warlock and move your pawn on the board.  Run into another player? Duel, which has the effect of pushing them back. 

The goal is to get the blonde princess back to her castle so her daddy the King can give you half his kingdom and supposedly the princess too. Hey, it was 1977.  Given the cover, I thought maybe the blonde was also a playable character.  I really should have known better, but I had hoped.

But there are a few things going for it.  First and foremost this game was designed by Gardner Fox.  Yes THAT Gardner Fox.  So I was hoping for a little more to be honest.  The guy that gave us Zatanna and Doctor Fate (among others) should have had cooler warlocks.

It is also an "Introductory Fantasy Game" so it would be fun as an introduction to old-school D&D tropes for younger kids.  Though the lack of anything like fantasy monsters (as moving pieces) or treasure limit the use of this for that.  The playing pieces are basic, but not really for 1977 standards.

The cover similarities between this and Holmes Basic can't be ignored.

Holmes Basic D&D with Warlocks & Warriors Boxes

It really seems to be the same "Warlock" and "Warrior" on both covers.  Both were done by David Sutherland and both boxed sets came out the same year.

This is also not the only time we see the "Princess" we next see her in the AD&D Player's Handbook looking over the collected treasure loot. 

The W&W Princess becomes her own hero!

Maybe she told the Warrior and the Warlock (and her dad)  to go get bent and she became an adventurer herself.  I mean she is eyeing that magic sword.

Zenopus Archives (the authority on all things Holmes) comments on how the map from this game would make for a good Holmes Basic "Hex Crawl".

Warlocks & Warriors Wilderness Map

The box itself is surprisingly light.  But I am judging it by today's standards.

Warlocks & Warriors box and pawns

Warlocks & Warriors instructionsEarly TSR catalog

Warlock & Warriors credits

Would this game satisfy my "Traveller Envy?"  I am not sure.  I think I could work it into a game somehow.  Maybe as the previously mentioned Hex Crawl for Holmes (or Basic Era between levels 1 and 3).  I could come up with a whole adventure for it to be honest.  Warlock holding a princess captive, hex crawl to find her.  But that is WAY too clichéd. 

Still. I can't help think there is a way to add this to the Holmes Experience.  Potentially add it to the Monster Manual for the full 1977 experience!  Or maybe the Ancient Ruins on the map are the dungeon from the Dungeon! board game. 

Elise Gygax, D&D, Dungeon! and Warlocks & Warriors. Party like it is 1977!

The game itself is really just a larger "mini-game" not much more complex than the mini-games that TSR would later release in 1981.  I'll even go on a limb here and say the relationship between Warlocks & Warriors to Holmes is not significantly different than the relationship between the 1981 mini-games and Moldvay Basic.

TSRs Mini-games

More on these mini-games at a future date!

Reviews

Monday, February 8, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Yaoguai

Well, January was used up and Monday, February 1st was also taken, so that makes today the first free Monday in 2021 for Monstrous Mondays!  Let's get to it.

First I want to talk a little bit about my two monster books, the Basic Bestiaries.  I am far behind my original and revised, release dates.  Not that this is a big deal really save that I wanted to something more done. I mentioned a while back that I began with one book and I am now splitting it up into two books, one for witch and witchcraft associated monsters and another for various demons and devils.  Work has continued on both books, but I might get to a point where I need to split them up yet again.  No big details yet, but I have an overabundance of the undead, in particular, vampires.  Still, my choice is two books and I am extremely happy with my Fuseli and Goya covers.

This brings me to today's post.  The Yaoguai and Chinese demons.  


My demons are now over 500 individual monsters and I am just getting started. I have talked a lot about demons here. 

What I know about Chinese Mythology could fill a book.  A very small, poorly edited book.
Here is what I have learned over the last few months. 

Yaoguai are a class of mostly evil (but not always so) spirits.  The name is used for the collection of all such spirits and for a group of specific animal spirits.  The name comes from the characters 妖怪 which translate into "strange ghost." They are related to yaomo (妖魔 yāomó, lit. "strange devil") or yaojing (妖精 yāojīng, lit. "sprite" or "seductive") all start with the same character 妖. This (typically) refers to an awakened spirit.

And as expected it also far more complicated than that.  Though as I have mentioned before, I can't serve two masters, in this case, Chinese mythology and good Game Design.

Yaoguai

Lesser Yaoguai are all animal spirits that were normally benign but have sought out immortality by becoming demons. While they can generally be described as evil, they are often more selfish and amoral.  The ones most encountered are evil since they tend to work against mortals.

All lesser yaoguai can be recognized by their glowing eyes, preternatural strength, and enlarged teeth and claws. All yaoguai can speak common and any other local languages.

As a spirit creature, a lesser yaoguai can be "Turned" by a cleric as if they were undead.  They do need to know their proper name.  So "begone rat demon" will not work, but "begone shǔ yaoguai" will.  A result of "T" will cause the creature to run away. A "D" result will force the spirit out of the animal in question, often killing the host animal. 

Lesser Yaoguai also all have the following powers.

  • Spirit. The natural form of the Yaoguai is a spirit. It will inhabit the body, living or dead, of the animal of their type.
  • Command Animals. Lesser Yaoguai can command animals of the same type. Niú Yaoguai can command oxen and other cattle for example.
  • Hybrid form. Yaoguai can shift between animal form and a humanoid form like a lycanthrope.
  • Immune to poison, gas, polymorph, and petrify effects. Immune to normal weapons.
  • Half damage from cold, fire, and electricity effects.  Half damage from silver weapons.
  • Full damage from magical weapons.
  • Double damage from a blessed weapon. These weapons specifically blessed by a priest to fight a particular type of Yaoguai spirit.

Shǔ Yaoguai  
Rat demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Uncommon
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:  Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]

Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8***+5 (28hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 2d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: disease (demon fever), summon animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 8 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 750 (OSE) 860 (LL)

Shǔ Yaoguai, or Rat demon spirit, is the most common of the lesser yaoguai encountered.  They appear as large rats with glowing eyes and human intelligence. In fact, they are often smarter than humans.  They can be found wherever large groups of rats are found.  They are often mistaken for wererats or dire rats of a, particularly evil mien.

Shǔ Yaoguai can attack with claw and bite and it is by these means that they deliver their curse of Demon Fever.  On a successful critical hit with a bite (a natural 20 rolled), they transmit Demon Fever.

The subject is allowed a saving throw vs poison.  A fail means death, a successful save means the victim has contracted a slower version of the fever. They will not be able to do anything but require complete bed rest. They will lose one Constitution point per day unless a Cure Disease is cast on them.  If they reach o Constitution they will die.

These demons can summon 10-100 normal rats, 2-40 dire rats, or 1-6 wererats in rat form.

Rat demons exist to cause chaos and suffering only. While they are intelligent their plans typically do not exist beyond this.

Niú Yaoguai
Ox demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 7d8**+21 (53hp)
Attacks: I headbutt
Damage: 2d8+3
Special: Trample (4d8+3)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster  7
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XV [H]
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,200 (LL)

Niú Yaoguai, or Ox demon spirit, are among the least intelligent of the yaoguai.  They are also among the strongest and the greediest.  In their animal form, they appear as a black and red ox with fiery eyes. Their hybrid human form appears as a minotaur.

The main attack of the ox demon is a running headbutt. On any critical hit (a natural 20) they also knock their opponent prone and trample them as an automatic attack.  The prone victim needs 1 combat round to get back on their feet.  The ox demon is not very dexterous and needs a full round to turn around if they wish to attack the same victim twice.  

These demons are slow, dumb, and very materialistic.  They can also be bribed with treasure; at least double or triple what their current treasure hoard is worth (discounting magic items which they have value for).  If this offer is made even the chaotic ox demon will not attack.

Hǔ Yaoguai
Tiger demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6[13]
Hit Dice: 9d8**+9 (50hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 2d8+1
Special: rake (back legs for 1d8+2 x2)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXII [A]
XP: 2,350 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

Hǔ Yaoguai or Tiger demon spirit are among the most violent of all the yaoguai. They appear as tigers with glowing eyes. Their hybrid form reminds one of a weretiger or even a type of Rakshasa; a comparison that both types of fiends abhor.

The tiger demon gleefully attacks with its claws and bite.  A critical hit on a bite attack (natural 20) will result in a pin and the demon can then attack with its hind legs for a rake. A hǔ yaoguai in hybrid form cannot rake.

This demon delights in sowing fear.  Its preferred attack is to seek out remote villages and begin to kill lone travelers.  It will leave the bodies where they can be found to raise the fear levels.  Its ultimate goal is to not just kill as many mortals as it can, but also to get the inhabitants of a village or local so scarred that normal life stops.  Fields are not attended, work ceases in other parts of the village, and so on.  Killing a handful of villagers with claw and bite is satisfying. Killing dozens because there are now not enough crops to feed them is a greater evil. 

Despite their propensity to violence they are a clever demon and will work towards the maximum fear they can.

Shé Yaoguai
Serpent demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8***+16 (52hp)
Attacks: bite + poison
Damage: 1d6, save vs. poison
Special: Poison, summon normal animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XX [C]
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,440 (LL)

Of all the lesser yaoguai the Shé Yaoguai, or Serpent demon spirit, is the most clever. Second only to the Hóu Yaoguai; but never mention that to these evil creatures.  They spend the most time in their animal form as a large constrictor snake with glowing eyes, large fangs, and strange markings on their skin.  They are never confused with normal snakes.  Their hybrid form is that of a large snake with a humanoid torso and arms with a snake's head.

This yaoguai prefers to attack with its bite only.  A critical hit (natural 20) means they have injected a paralytic poison into their victim. The victim needs to save vs. poison or die.  A successful save still infects the victim and they lose 1 point of Dexterity per round. This will affect any attack or armor class of the victim. When they reach 0 Dexterity they are paralyzed permanently unless a Remove or Neutralize Poison spell is cast. If all their victims are defeated then the serpent demon will feast on the corpses and the paralyzed.

Shé yaogaui demons can also summon 10-100 normal snakes, 1-10 poisonous vipers, and 1-10 constrictor snakes.

Among the most evil of these types of demons the Serpent Yaoguai attempt to tempt humans into hedonistic lifestyles where only their own pleasures matter.  To this end, they work through others to provide decadent parties, banquets, and houses of pleasure.

Hóu Yaoguai
Monkey demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 10d8***+10 (55hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Yaoguai abilities
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 10
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXI [B]
XP: 3,000 (OSE) 3,100 (LL)

Hóu Yaoguai, or Monkey demon spirit, are among the most powerful, smartest, and evil of the lesser Yaoguai.  Their animal form is that of a particularly evil-looking monkey looking like a macaque combined with a chimpanzee.  In their hybrid form, they can pass for a hairy human. Given the proper clothing, they can be 90% indistinguishable.

Like all yaoguai, these creatures prefer to attack with their natural weapons. In this case two claws and a bite. Unlike others, there is no special attack by this demon. 

These demons are more subtle than their kindred.  There are no summonings of creatures or deadly diseases. What they can do is summon 2-20 thralls; mercenary humans they have brought over to their causes.  This suits the Hóu Yaoguai well in its chosen area of interest.  The breakup of human-run governments. 

The Hóu Yaoguai will insert itself into a government as a low-level official and work its way up to power where it can influence governors, princes, or even the Emporer.  Its goal is always the same bring as much chaos as it can.  The ultimate goal for any Monkey demon is civil war.

--

Not too bad for a start.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

It's D&D, Not Pie

It's D&D, not pie. You can have as much as you want and there is still more.


Friday, February 5, 2021

#FollowFriday and Kickstart Your Weekend: Zine Quest 3

One of the things I loved about small cons in the 80s (and really, those were the only ones I went too then) was the little indie Zines.  Small, cheap (a bonus for a broke high school student) and packed with all sorts of strangeness, they had all sorts of appeal to me. 

Granted they were not all good, but they had a sense of, I don't know, love about them. This was before Desk Top Publishing was even taking off yet so often these were Xeroxed, hand stapled affairs. 

While it might be easier to get Zines out to the masses, the sense of love is still there.

This is why Zine Quest was made and now we are at the beginning of Zine Quest #3 over on Kickstarter and the choices are overwhelming. 


There are plenty of OSR and D&D 5 choices as well as plenty of other indie games in the truest sense.  

Trying to track them all is a bit more than I want to take on by myself. Thankfully there are good resources to help us all.

Hero Press / I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters

If you come here then you know "the other Tim" from across the pond.  Hero Press is my go-to entertainment blog for all things RPG, Superhero, and more. Go there. No qualifiers, just go there. But he is also covering the Zine Quest projects he likes.  You can also follow his Zine Quest tags.

Over on the Facebook side of things his group, I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters will be featuring even more Zines and project owners are encouraged to post links to theirs. 

Gothridge Manor / RPG Zines

Tim Shorts (yes another Tim!) is also keeping everyone posted on Zines.  He has been talking about them on his blog Gothridge Manor (also a great blog!) and his Facebook group RPG Zines.  This is pretty much Zine central and worth your time to check out.  Like Tim, Tim has a Zine tag for his blog as well. 

But where Tim Shorts rises above the other Tims is his own contribution to the Zine project.
Be sure to back The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade on Kickstarter. 

Tenkar's Tavern

If you have been in the OSR any amount of time you likely know about Tenkar's Tavern blog/podcast/Facebook group.  Tenkar is also covering Zine Quest with a lean to the OSR zines coming out.

You can also follow the #Zinequest3 hashtag on Twitter.

There are more launching every day in February, in fact, one launched while I was writing this post that I want to back.  So expect a Part 2 next week!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Star Trek: Mercy and BlackStar Characters

One thing I wanted to accomplish with the recent Character Creation Challenge was to create characters that I could use in my War of the Witch Queens campaign AND get ideas for a multiverse of witches.

But that is not the only thing I wanted from it.

I also wanted to see the differences between various Star Trek-like systems in order to find good NPC for my BlackStar and Star Trek: Mercy games.

Of course, my main source is going to be the challenge founder Carl Stark at Tardis Captain's blog (and of course his Star Trek RPG page). 

Reading through all of these (and it has been great!) I am more convinced now that my Star Trek Mercy game needs to be a FASA Trek game while BlackStar can be something else; most likely Star Trek Adventures.

Star Trek: Mercy Title Card

Star Trek: Mercy

As I have mentioned previously Star Trek Mercy will take place aboard a Federation Hospital Ship.  Its mission is a bit like Doctors Without Borders; they fly into dangerous situations with the goal of helping.  While it is a Federation/Starfleet ship I am going to open up character choices to any and all Star Trek races.  So humans, Vulcans, Andorians will be expected, but also Romulans, Klingons, Deltans, even Gorn, and Orions if someone can give me a good reason.  These crew will not be members of Starfleet, they still belong to their respective worlds, but I also have to, want to, work within canon.  

For this, a few guidelines are needed.  No Klingon Starfleet officers. Worf was the first and the Federation and the Klingon Empire are at a period of cooled tensions.  They are not allies per see, but they are also not shooting at each other.  We know from the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone" that Romulans have not had any relations with the Federation since the Tomed Incident of 2311.  There is still a Romulan Ambassador on Earth in 2293.  That gives me 18 years' worth of gameplay.

I stated in my first post on this that 2295 would be a good year to set this in.  Seems like I was on to something.  I can even use the Plasma Plague of 2294 as the first mission of the Mercy. We even get a Stardate for it, 38235.3, though that date can't really work for 2294, it doesn't even work well for The Original Series Stardates. That date gives you Wed Feb 24 2360 for TNG and Tue Oct 28 2279 for TOS. Might need to use the FASA Trek Stardate calculations to make this one work!

Also since this is FASA Trek I can borrow some ideas from The Next Generation Officer's Manual.  In particular, the notion that there were a bunch of different uniforms in use. Gives me an excuse to use the ones I want.  These would be new here and old by the time the USS Protector and the Mystic-class ships roll out.

Star Trek Command Circa 2295

Star Trek Sciences Circa 2295

Star Trek Support Circa 2295

I am going to need a new ship design too.

What would also be nice is to work in some Original Series Apocrphya into my game; Saavik being half-Vulcan/half-Romulan, Chekov working for Starfleet Intelligence and a touring Chess Master (loosing to the Betazoids), Scotty as a Professor of Engineering at Starfleet Academy before getting lost near a Dyson Sphere in 2294, Sulu as the Captain of the Excelsior and Harriman as Captain of the Enterprise B. Uhura as Demora Sulu's Godmother. I would also like to find out more about Lt. Elise McKennah, played by Michele Specht in Star Trek Continues.

McCoy becoming an admiral, Spock continuing his role as Federation Ambassador, and Kirk disappearing on the Enterprise B. Though those are not really disputed. 

I like this idea since it is also the first Trek game my Star Trek loving wife has mentioned she would like to play.

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 Dé 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 /ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/ 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, Selûne and Shar
Sehanine Moonbow, Selûne, 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 Selûne 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.