Monday, May 22, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: The History of Witchcraft

For this Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge I "read" (listened to) two shorter books that covered roughly the same topic.  The first was "The History of Witchcraft", written by Lois Martin and narrated by Brogan West.  The second was "Witch Mania: The History of Witchcraft", written by Charles Mackay and narrated by Greg Wagland. Witch Mania is actually part of the Charles Mackay's 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which I covered another version of back in January as "Witch: A Tale of Terror".
So for these reasons I am going to classify this as one reading, not two.

The differences in the books are largely one of the historical perspectives.  The older 1841 "Witch Mania" book takes an interestingly pro-science approach that is congruent to the time's own growing industrialism and embrace of science.  "The History of Witchcraft" includes the findings of, subsequent dismissal of those findings of, Margret Murray's Witch Cult thesis.  History also covers the then new "The Triumph of the Moon" by Ronald Hutton.  But nothing is given in detail.

Mackay's 1841 book reads and feels like something written today to be honest.  There are only tidbits of information that would let on that it is not.  Though the perspective is still one of "those poor superstitious peasants".  Martin's 2007 book is a bit newer in it's topics, but the perspective has not shifted very much.

Both books come down on the side of this all being delusion by the participants with some mention of how to properly view historical events through the lens of the times they were in.
Both books cover many of the same horror stories that are familiar to anyone that spends time reading these tales.  A couple of interesting bits for me was the idea of how localized many of these accounts are.  These were common fears that involved local people on a global stage.  The newer "History" (2007) spent some time talking about how this was part and parcel the change over from superstition to rationalism.  Also, it seems there is a new push to see the witch trials as largely a secular issue rather than a purely ecclesiastical one. More on this when I cover the next history book on my list.



Both of these books came from Audible.
http://www.audible.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 13
Level: Mother
Witches in this book: Again, millions or none.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: All were innocent in my mind. At least innocent enough to not warrant a capital offense.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Again, not the best question, but I would love to play a "Burning Times" RPG using WitchCraft.
Use in WotWQ: I will bring some of these ideas to the campaign, certainly the witch hunters and the paranoia.


RPG Carnival Post
Using witches, magic and occult practices in your games.
Both of these books got me thinking about how witches and the occult could be viewed in a game that is already full of magic.

The main feature of both of these books is fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of the very real and very known Devil.  Witches, no matter the stripe, are something to be hated and feared.
This also begs another question. Are Witches really Witches without the persecution?

In most fantasy role-playing games there are wizards, clerics and a host of spellcasters. Even "grimdark" games like Dungeon Crawl Classics and Lamentations of the Flame Princess have their spellcasters and they are, despite their "otherness" still part of a social unit of adventurers.  The witch, when she is included, often becomes another type of spellcaster. In the cases of AD&D 2, D&D 3 and D&D 4 she was merely a type of wizard.  Third party books have made strides to cleave the witch class to the historical witch, or at lease the fairy tale witch.  The RPG Quest of the Ancients, despite it's "Heartbreaker" status has done some rather interesting things with witches.

One thing I have done in my own games is to set up a dichotomy of magic. There is the "state" sanctioned magic used by wizards and the "church" sanctioned magic used by clerics.  Casters will fall, mostly, into one of these two realms. It is assumed that the powers in charge of these realms will police their own.  "Witches" are those that fall outside of these realms and their magic is somehow "outlaw" or "other".

Both history books mentioned above make a point of detailing both the religious and secular nature of the witch trials. This can be emulated in many RPGs with the method I also mention, with a secular or state wizard working with the church or spiritual clerics working to stop the "Evil" witches.  I say evil in quotes since an evil cleric, in this case, would still see they have more in common with a good cleric (both worship gods) than a witch.

I have done this to great effect with witches and psychic characters in my games over the years. In fact, witches had become so numerous in my games that I had to redo how psionic characters were dealt with my games just to set up this "other".

For all of it's outward appearances, D&D and games like it are not medieval Europe. The polytheism of most worlds is really at odds with the notion of Feudalism.  This lack of a monotheist faith, and interrelated government, really makes for a lack of a designated "evil enemy" for this church/state to fight against.   If there is no enemy there is no enemy secrets, cults or conspiracies.   In my mind the best enemies of society are the ones that seek to destroy it.
Maybe there is a cabal of evil (unsanctioned) wizards or a cult of warlocks.

For me, witches are the most interesting when they are slightly outside of the norm.  In modern parlance, they can be the terrorists OR (maybe AND) the Social Justice Warriors.

But I have always been fans of the outsiders, the strange and the different.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Monsters of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons

Evil genius +Mark Taormino is back with his fifth Kickstarter.  You might remember mark from The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen and Maximum Mayhem Dungeon #2: Secret Machines of the Star Spawn.  Well, now he is back and bringing us all a new Monster book for Old-School style games.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons: Monsters of Mayhem #1


I have come to expect some pretty great things from Mark in the past and I have not been disappointed.

This looks every bit as fun and at higher pledge levels you can get your own monsters made.

Mark always has a good spread of rewards and levels, so if yo are looking to finish up your collection of his adventures then this is a good Kickstarter to back.


This looks like a lot of fun.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/maximum-mayhem-dungeons-monsters-of-mayhem-1

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This Old...Journal? Judges Guild Journal

Due to being sick earlier this week I did not get around to reviewing a Dragon Magazine for "This Old Dragon".
But I did score some copies of the old Judge's Guild Journal from 1977 to 1978 (Prime 'Space Trucker' years).



I grabbed issues #3(N), #6(O) to #10(S).

Truthfully I was not planning on a big review of each issue; there is not a lot of reviewable content.  But I will talk about them in a future post.

Of course, I grabbed this set for a couple of reasons.  I am always curious about the early days of our hobby and these issues (just) pre-date my involvement.  So that is a plus in my book.

Then there is also this.



I had NO idea this even existed until last week. So I hunted these down.
I will go into detail about this class and how it works in the D&D of the time.  Plus it has such a great 70s vibe to it.   I really can't but help to want to jump in a try it out.

The art is pretty cool too.



I might keep the issue with the witch, but when I am done I will entertain offers if someone must have these for your collection.  I am not looking to recoup my losses here but if someone wants to soften the blow then I will not say no.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

On Ramp: Introduction to Space Truckers

There seems to be some interest in this.  I don't have a publication date set yet, but I feel like September oughta be good.

Right now I have no art for this.  So that is going to be my biggest issue.

Here is the Introduction and a bit from Exit (Chapter) 01

Space Truckers

On Ramp - Introduction

“What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been…”

The late 1970s was a very odd time.  In 1979 we were of the first families I knew of to get access to a new concept, a cable movie channel.  With my new obsession, Dungeons & Dragons, in mind I sought out to watch ANYTHING to do with sword and sorcery or fantasy.  I didn’t get that.  Instead I got a strange mix of movies from 1977 on.  Horror yes, but I also watched an odd mix of SciFi in the wake of Star Wars and Close Encounters and trucker movies.  The trucker/CB craze was huge in Middle America in the years 1977-79.  I saw movies like Smokey and the Bandit, Convoy and White Line. A lot. Maybe too much.

It makes for a strange alchemy to be sure.

I have spent a lot of time in cars driving from one place or another.  I have eaten at a few truck stops, downed coffee at a few more.  I did think they would be better if they had more aliens.  In others though I have thought I would not have even noticed.

Space Truckers is the offspring of two very popular trends of the late 1970s, Science Fiction, notably space battles, and a fascination with truckers and CB slang.

Exit 01 - Outbound and Down

“Hey hey Good Buddies! Whats’ yer Space-20? Come back!”

In the future humankind has gone out to the stars.  Hyperspace travel has made the planets closer. Humanity and the alien life forms they encounter are constantly looking for new planets to colonize.  Those planets need materials, food, and personnel. It is up to the brave men and women of the Space Shipping Lines to get the colonies what they need. It is a time of the SPACE TRUCKERS!

Far off colonies are serviced by long range starships and freighters.  Short range shipping needs are dealt with by local interplanetary shipping.  The needs of colonies, especially newer colonies inaccessible by larger freighters, are completely dependent on the service of the Space Trucking lines.
Space Truckers uses a mini-campaign concept that can be added to any White Star game; a sector of space with an expanse, The Hazard Lands, frequented by space truckers and pirates as well as patrolled by Colonial Hyperspace Police (CHP).

So far the classes I have are:
Space Truckers
Hyper Space Patrol (CHiPs)
Pirates
Grease Monkey (hyper intelligent chimps that are great mechanics)
And the Ursine and Porcine race options (or "Bears" and "Pigs" in trucker slang).

New Ships will include
Long Haul Trucks
Short Haul Trucks
CHiP interceptor crafts

Plus rules for “Hyper jamming” (getting more speed out of truck) and convoys

I am going to include the Hazzard lands, Dixie's Truck Stop ("the best Diablo Sandwich in the Tri-Sector area!"),  Lot Lizards and Snarks, Pirates.

Meet NPCS like Dixie, owner of Dixies. Her kid sister Jamie, along with cook Mel and waitresses Alice and FL0.  Get your truck serviced by Reginald Farnsworth Symthe IV aka “Reggie” and his robot assistant Gears.  Share a doughnut and coffee with CHP Officer Bob Friendly, just make sure you are not hauling any contraband.  Avoid the areas controlled by the corrupt Governor Boss of the Hazard Colonies and his equally corrupt Sheriff  Roscoe J. "Stonewall" Jackson.


It should be fun.  Silly, but fun.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sick Days, New Year's Resolutions and Upcoming Books

Not feeling so hot today.  Some viral thing has been running through my home and at work, so I guess it was only a matter of time before it got me too.

This got me thinking about my New Year's Resolution.

Each year I try to resolve to do something new, or better, in the upcoming year.  I am happy to say I am usually pretty successful at keeping these.  This year was no different.

For 2017 I resolved to clear out a lot of the half-finished "Works in Progress" I have on my list.  Having five half-finished documents are not as good as having one finished one.  So you can see the fruits of my efforts this year with a new witch book out every six weeks so far. I also finished up a project for the DMsGuild and the Classic Modules Today group.


Now I don't want to burn out my audience so I am debating on whether or not my Summer Solstice book should be a "witch" book.  Oh if you think I don't have another witch book up my sleeves you haven't been paying attention here for long. ;)

Which gets me to today.
Since I am feeling kind of crappy I was digging around in my projects drive and found some docs I had written about the Healer Class. Actually, I have two; a Clerical healer and a Psychic healer.

The other projects I have are:

The Faerie Witch / Green Witch.  This is planned for the Summer Solstice.  It covers the Faerie Witch traditions as well as the Fey Pact Warlock.  I also will talk about "Grand Covens" and have more faerie creatures.  For Swords & Wizardry complete with conversion notes for Basic Era.

The White Witch. This is a simple book for playing good-aligned witches in Swords & Wizardry Whitebox.  Due out in August.

The Complete Necromancer. This is a much larger project. In addition to the Mara Tradition Witches and Death Pact Warlocks, I am going to comb through many OGC sources to provide a "complete" Necromancer class, an Undead Slayer class and a Death Priest. Some of the material in this book goes back to the beginning of my witch class.  This book will feature hundreds of spells and dozens, if not scores, of undead monsters.  It is a huge book.  I want to get it out for Halloween (natch) but not sure if I will get it all done.  Swords & Wizardry Complete / Basic Era.

The Healer.  Again this is a class that shares a genesis with the witch and necromancer. The Clerical Healer will have plenty of new spells and things to do. Plus rules on how to play a passivist character in a world of murder-hobos. The Psychic Healer will be similar but rely on psionic powers and manipulating chakras. Basic Era, no set date yet.

Space Truckers.  Ah. This one has been running around in my mind for years.  No witches. No magic. Think back to 1977, this is "Star Wars" meets "Smokey and the Bandit" meets "CHiPs".
An Ode to roadtrips and the strange alchemy that was the late 70s.  New classes, new races, new rules for short and long haul spacetrucks. For White Star.  No date yet, but this year is the 40th Anniversary of both "Star Wars" and "Smokey and the Bandit", so I should do it this year.

Below is a quick poll.  I am interested in hearing your thoughts.






Let me know what you think. I am on a ton of allergy drugs right now; who knows what you can convince me to do!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Warlock, In Print!

After two failed attempts the Warlock is finally ready for print purchases!


You can now get a copy to go with other books in my Witch line.


Like Hedgewitches,


Or any Witch for that matter.


BTW, does anyone want The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry in print?


Combine them all for a Complete Witch!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Classic Modules Today: Death's Ride

I have been a fan of the "Classic Modules Today" group for a bit now.
The premise is to use the leeway of the DMSGuild to produce 5e conversions of classic TSR modules.
Well you know I am all about that!  So I have been buying as many as I can for the various campaigns I have been running. They are great. All the basic information I need in one place.

Could I have done these on my own? Sure.  But for the price of my triple grande latte, I can grab 2-3 of these pdfs and be good to go.

Since I also believe in giving back I made my own for an adventure I have coming up.

Here is the Classic Modules today conversion of one of my favorites, CM2 Death's Ride.


You can get the conversion here on the DMSGuild and the original module too.
You will need the original, these are conversion notes, not the full product.



You can find these and all the Classic Modules Today conversions (and the original adventures) at the DMSguild.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #89

Going all the way back to September 1984 for this one.  Highlights include that wonderful Denis Beauvais "Chess" cover, a follow-up to his Issue 86 cover.  Like that issue, I have some pretty fond memories of this one.  Put on some "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince and jump on into "This Old Dragon!"

We start with a very interesting letter.  The reader asks if print version of some Dragon covers could be sold.  Editor Kim Mohan responds saying they can't because they do not own the reproduction rights to many of the covers.  Now in later magazines, we know this changes a little due to the "Art of the Dragon" book that comes out, but others are still owned by their respective artists.   Something they later seem to miss when publishing the CD-ROM.

Stephen Inniss is back (or this could be his first) with Survival is a group effort. He talks about the survival chances of some of the frequently used humanoid races.  I was surprised to see that he gave kobolds a really long life span.  At five pages it is an interesting read. The aging tables are worthy of cutting out and sticking into your Monster Manual.

Six very special shields is next and comes from the pen of Ed Greenwood via the word of mouth of Elminster.  I remember having some high hopes for this article; that it would as interesting as the swords ones they (hypothetically) compare it too, but somehow it doesn't live up.  I do recall putting Reptar's Wall into one of my games though.


Cool ad for The Wizard's Nook.  I had no idea what they sold really, never sent my two bucks in for a catalog.

Len Lakofka returns for more Gods of the Suel pantheon. This time featuring Pyremius, Beltar, and Llerg. I was SO into the Suel back then. I collected all of these articles, I wrote a bunch of histories detailing the migration of the Suel survivors all over the world.  Their histories and magic. It is interesting to see which of these gods survived to today. These gods made it to the 3.x Living Greyhawk Gaz and Complete Divine.

The article Many Types of Magic by Charles Olson covers a particular 1e problem of well....somethings just not making much sense.  So anyone familiar with the history of D&D knows how it grew somewhat organically and that means things sometime feel off. The magical classification system (Alteration, Illusion, Conjuration...) doesn't always follow the rules.  This is something addressed here, and to a much larger degree in 2nd and 3rd Edition.  I can't tell if this article informed those changes; they were really must needed changes to start with.  Now before the angry posts and emails start, I am not saying 1e is broken or anything like that.  It does have its own set of peculiarities.  Anyone who played it knows this.

Another great ad for the Time-Life book series The Enchanted World!


Show of hands. Who had these?  Of COURSE I had the Witches and Wizards one. I also have the one on Ghosts.  I see them at Half-Price Books a lot.  I'd get more of them (just for the geek street-cred) but they are too tall for my bookshelves!

In the annals of "useless NPC Classes" I think the Sentinel from Halt! Who goes there? would make the top of my list.  Maybe only the accountant from the dawn of the Dragon is worse. It's not a bad class, it just doesn't really do anything a fighter with some thief skills couldn't do better. I am actually pretty sure a multi-classed fighter/thief would be better.

Ah. Here we go.  I am not sure if it was this issue or an earlier one, but it was this ad that got me interested in White Dwarf.  Issue 44 was my first White Dwarf.



Learn magic by the month by Craig Barrett covers learning new magic in the Dragonquest game.  I have to admit I always liked the look of Dragonquest and wanted to learn how to play it.  No one around me did at the time.  I think I missed out on some cool experiences, to be honest with you. Rereading this article only convinces me of that.  Trouble is I doubt I have the patience anymore to learn a relic from the 80s.

Creature Catalog.
Oh now, this was fun.  My appetite for new monsters was strong 1984 and I always wanted something new to throw at players that had the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio memorized.  This was a great addition.  In particular, I enjoyed the Fachan (it was so weird), the Ghuuna (which I still use),  the Glasspane Horror (one of my favorites), and the Utukku (I made a revised one years ago based on the same myths).  I lost my original copy along with all my 2nd Ed material (I had put it in my Montrous Compendium binder), so it is great to have this one again.

Roger Moore follows up with an article on calculating monster XP values.  The Monster Manual II will also make this easier in the future.

The Ares Sci-Fi section is next.
Some articles on the Mega-Corporations of Star Frontiers.

Continuing the articles on the Moon we have Luna, The Empire and the Stars for the Other Suns game.

Of Grizzly Bears and Chimpanzees covers mutant animal characters in Gamma World.  I used this article to beef up the Gorilla Bear that appeared in the Fiend Folio.

Missing some pages. Checking the CD-ROM it appears that the Marvel Phile was cut out as was the crossword puzzle.

We end with Wormy and Snarf and the answers to the crossword.

A fun issue to be sure! Loved the cover and monsters.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rise! Tharizdûn!

Spent some quality time with the Order of the Platinum Dragon this weekend.

These guys:


They just cleared out the first level of the Hall of the Fire Giant King and are now headed down to the second level.  They have encountered the first bit of solid proof of the Drow interference.

We (You and I that is, not the players or the characters) that they will eventually encounter Lolth.


She should put up a pretty good fight.  What happens to her depends on the actions of the characters.

After that there is a real good chance that they (or they along with the Second Campaign Characters) will also have to fight Orcus.


He looks a lot tougher.

But the problem is that they are not the "big bads" of my 5e games.  All my campaigns will link up at the end to fight the mastermind pulling all the strings.

Tharizdûn!


Yup. I know that is a WoW figure (Demon Form Illidan Stormrage), but he works perfectly as Tharizdûn as I envision him.  Part drow, part demon, part dragon, part devil.

Tharizdûn, through Asmodeus and Graz'zt, have manipulated the characters (in all three campaigns), Lolth, Orcus and scores of other demons to locate the Chaos stones. Once collected the PCs will think they are using them to save the world, but really it is the key to Tharizdûn's prison.  Blocking out the sun is a herald of his return.

I'll get more details on how this is all going to work in future posts.
Right now I need to make some minor alterations to that figure.  I need to find some chains to wrap around his wrists and ankles to show that he had been imprisoned.


My players have not seen this figure yet. I plan on keeping it hidden till he is released.

Now to come up with some appropriate stats for him.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #114

It is not an exaggeration to say that Dragon #114 was a watershed issue for me.  But before I get into all of that I want to quickly restate what I am doing here since I have gotten a few new readers.  So the background here is I had purchased a couple of large gaming collections over the last couple of years. My brother also gave me a box of Dragons in really bad shape.  After combining, keeping some, selling off others and tossing (yeah, had too) ones that were in terrible shape I was left with about 100 or so Dragons that were in pretty bad shape.  Most were missing covers, many are missing pages and maybe one or two are fully intact.  In This Old Dragon I am grabbing issue out at random and reviewing them.  I can only review what I have, so if it is missing I won't talk about it.  The only exception I make are the covers.  If I feel too much is missing or something important is missing I'll check my Dragon-Magazine CD-ROM.  Cool?

So,  Let's get into this issue!
Speaking of covers let's have a look at this rather infamous cover from David Martin. In future letters sections, there were plenty of complaints of the "Playboy" like cover. It is also one of the few covers I would love to have an art-print of in my game room.  I loved it then and I still do. I have never seen an art print of it though. A little more than a year later the cover was reused (with permission as I understand) for the cover of Angel Dust's "To Dust You Will Decay" album.

The Letters section covers questions about spending more than $100 on the next version of AD&D (2nd Edition).  Some things never change I guess. Some letters on Psionic in combat too.

Editor Roger Moore talks about someone impersonating him at Gen Con 19.  Don't know if the guy was ever caught.

Ok.  Let's jump in.
The Witch is the main feature of this issue.  And by main I mean I don't think I ever read anything else in the issue for many years.  I think it was 1990 before I ever looked at the Ecology article.  This article dominated the issue and the minds of many.  I know many of you reading this either knew of this article, read it or had a witch from it.   Chances are if you ran into someone playing a witch anytime after 1986 then they were using this class.  Interesting that it was designed as an NPC class.
It was another update to the venerable witch from Dragon Mags #5, #20 and #43.  While issue #43 had a great deal of information, Dragon #114 is known for the art. There was the controversial cover and also the use of Larry Elmore art as one of the witches.   It was this issue that set the desire in my mind to have Elmore art in one of my books one day.  I had made a witch class prior to this, back in July of 86.  But I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first made a character using this witch.  It was in study hall, October 25, 1986.  I was a senior in High school. I was in the larger study hall because the teach I normally had study hall with had just died. I was set to play Dr. Seward in my High School's production of Dracula.  I pulled out a sheet and rolled up my first witch.


Yes. That is my iconic witch Larina.  That binder is full of different versions of her for different games, but this is the first.

Moving into the article and class.  This witch is WAY overpowered.  It is easy to see that now, but back then I didn't care. Bonus spells, powers at nearly every level, High Secret Order Spells? Yikes. But yet I do love this witch so.  10 pages, lots of new spells.  That Elmore art.  Totally fell in love.  Limiting the witch to 8th level spells seems like a natural thing to me now.  Back then I never gave much thought.  These days I give WAY too much thought.  I have a huge Excel file filled with spells and levels to some up with the optimal levels of every spell and placement. It has informed all my writing for years.  8th level feels right.


I see the seeds of nearly every witch I have played in these pages.  Certainly, my own Witch class has been inspired by it.

After that everything else in the magazine is a little weak.  It's isn't, but it sure feels like it.

Grave Encounters is full of great random tables for monsters.  I made a copy of it and stuck into my Ravenloft boxed set.

Not to be outdone by Bill Muhlhausen, Chris Booth is up with The Elven Cavalier. In my mind, I always thought that there is someone out there that read this article and got the same joy out of it that I got from the Witch article.  It is a good article and when I finally sat down to read it in earnest I became convinced that this was someone's favorite article and class.  So much so that it later affected things I did with Larina.  At one point she became romantically involved with an elven cavalier and thus my other iconic witch Taryn, the half-elf was born.
I created a group of Elven Cavaliers called the "Moon Knights" (it was the 80s. I am allowed).

Were you that person out there that loved the Elven Cavalier?  I'd love to hear about it.

The Ecology of the Remorhaz took me till 1990 or so before I read it.  Not that it is a bad article, far from it, it always got eclipsed by the witch.

Robert Kelk is up with Combined Generation or another attempt to put all the tables needed for character generation in one place.  It's a good article in theory. In practice I can't say.  At the time I never needed it, by 86 I had been playing for 7 years and pretty much knew where everything was without thinking about it. Today, rereading it, I can't say since I am too far removed from those days.  I can say that if I ever play 1st ed again I will have these handy.

Class Struggles (yup, but let's be honest an obvious name) from Mark Kraatz details things characters can do between leveling up times.   Some good ideas here that can be easily ported over to any version of *D&D or OSR.

The next article was part of a rash of articles and products to "better define" D&D.  It's a hit-but where? by Alex Curylo is another hit-location article. There are lots of example creatures, including the Flumph, on random hit locations.  It's a level of detail I never cared for and when it came up in game we usually either hand waved it or decided where the hit must be depending on the damage caused.

Moving on to more modern games and sci-fi we have an article from Russell Droullard on creating adventures for Top Secret; A Recipe for Espionage.  I am sure it would for other spy games as well like James Bond.  Thomas Kane follows up with the legal process in Top Secret in Guilty as Charged.

The Marvel-Phile deals with some details that didn't quite make it into the Advanced version of the game and a DS al Coda of the Moon articles from Ares. The only hero I recognize here is Medusa.

Neat, full color ad for the Immortals set.

Role of Computers covers the game Wizard's Crown for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and Atari XL.  The screen shots look like the Atari version. It looks fun, in a retro sort of way.  I know by this time I Was feeling a left out on my little 16k Color Computer 2.  But no fear the 128k Color Computer 3 was coming out and I was going to be rocking!

Ad for the Palladium Fantasy RPG.  Really wanted to play that back in the day.

High-Tech Hijinks by Randal S, Doering covers adding technology to your FRPG and AD&D in particular.  I will be honest. I never read it. I don't mix tech and magic in my games. It's a thing.  Though rereading it now, I am sure I at least glanced at it. A lot of it feels familiar.

We end with Wormy (which was getting stranger all the time to me), Dragonmirth and SnarfQuest (which was totally about tech in D&D).

It is very difficult to classify this issue for me.  The Witch article drowns out everything else in my mind to the point that I think only of it.  Yet there is a lot of othr good things in this issue.
It is easily one of my top 5 issues. Maybe even my most favorite.

I know for a fact tht while I would have done the witch class, I would not have been able to do it as well had it not been for this.  If nothing else it gave me ideas to use, ideas to avoid and something to playtest against to see how it all works.  The roots of my own game design are right here.

The fruits of 30 years:

The Witch: For Basic-era games The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry


Which one is next?


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Witches (and Warlocks) of Swords & Wizardry

This is a post I have been meaning to do for a while.  Collect all my Swords & Wizardry Witch books in one place.

Roughly in reverse publishing order.

The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry



The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG


The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry



The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Light



Sisters of the Aquarian Order



Not for Swords & Wizardry, but still largely compatible are:

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games



Spellcraft & Swordplay: Eldritch Witchery



Combine them all for a Complete Witch!

Warlock Lodge: Masters of the Invisible College

Today I want to share one of the Warlock Lodges from my new book The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry.  Also, this is a good topic for this month's RPG Blog Carnival topic Magic and The Occult, hosted by Sea of Stars RPG.

Warlock Lodges
The Lodge is a secret order that often only admits a few Warlocks at a time. Each Lodge has their methods of instruction for their potential Warlock, and these are a closely guarded secret. While a Witch may leave the lands where she learned her tradition from her sisters, Warlocks join a Lodge for life. The Lodge is also the physical meeting place, sanctuary, and library of the Warlock.

Masters of the Invisible College
This esoteric lodge believes they are the foundation for all arcane study, not just Warlocks, but Wizards and Witches as well. Their vaulted halls contain the wisdom of the ages and spells never before seen. Only those of the highest intelligence may be admitted and then a rigorous training program must begin. Only when the Warlock has proven himself (10th level) will he be allowed access to the Deeper Mysteries and Hidden Knowledge of the Akashic Records. The location of this great store of knowledge is one of the best-kept secrets in the world.
Warlocks of this Lodge believe that nothing is more important than the arcane pursuits. This lodge is unique among lodges in that it actively recruits warlocks, witches, magic-users and clerics of gods of magic and knowledge to join their ranks for the pursuit of arcane knowledge.   Members of this lodge agree to put aside personal differences in terms of patrons, alignments, and racial differences so that they gain greater insight to magic. Masters of the Invisible College are the foremost expert on identifying magic items and researching spells. Prospective members must bring a new magic item to the lodge for study. The item need not be powerful, indeed, low power but unique items are more sought after. Items with history or created by famous spellcasters are also sought after.
The Lodge does not reveal what they do with these items outside of study.

While the Masters of the Invisible College has the overt makings of a Grand Lodge or a Grand Coven (a grouping of both Witches and Warlocks), it is actually neither.
Witches most likely to join the Secret Masters will belong to the Aquarian Tradition (from the Witch).  Wizards and Alchemists are also likely to join.

Witches in this Lodge will treat it as their Coven.  They can learn Magic-User spells of the appropriate level to replace their Ritual Spells much like a Hedge Witch or Witches of the Aiséiligh Tradition.   Such spells could also be unique or rare to the game world.  (I suggest something like +Dyson LogosMagical Theorems & Dark Pacts to add more spells.)

Joining the College
Potential entrants are brought in at 1st level.  They must have Intelligence scores of 16 or better and bring in one new magic item.  Entry must be done before 2nd level.  Often the College seeks out gifted individuals and waives the normal entry fees (1000 gp).  All Probationers are required to have a Sponsor who will eventually become their Mentor.  Entry is decided by the Deans of the College.

GM's are encouraged to make Lodges that fit their own game world.

Pick up a copy of the Warlock for Swords & Wizardry.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Good Times. Bad Times.

In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man...

Oh wait. Not those times.

Good News. I got the proof copy back of the Warlock today! I was going to make it live.
Bad News. Rather glaring typos on the back cover.

Not happy about this. So I am going to fix them and re-submit.  But it looked so great.





No More Secrets in Saltmarsh

Over the weekend we continued with what was going to be the Second Campaign.  Still is...but I'll get to that.

The boys made some new characters and we started the "Treasure Hunters" group.  Overtly this group is getting together to hunt treasure. We have a band centered around "an expert treasure hunter" (a ranger), a cleric of the god of Knowledge and warlock.  Joining the group is my favorite character to date, a gnome druid named "Erky Timbers", played by my youngest.

I took them through U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.  We had such a great time we played for about 10 hours, only stopping to quickly grab a bite to eat.



We played it under 5e and I used +Mark Stout's  "Classic Modules Today" conversion of U1 to help us out.

Though this proposes and interesting problem for me.  This is the adventure I wanted to use to start the "Second Campaign", the one that runs parallel to the "Come Endless Darkness" campaign.  At some point, after 15th level, the survivors of both campaigns will come together to fight a larger evil.

I supposedly started the Second Campaign back in March with the Forgotten Realms.  But so far we are only one adventure and two sessions into that one.  Plus that one is in the Realms, the Come Endless Darkness is very much Oerth/Greyhawk.

So. I might change that game to a simple "Into the Forgotten Realms" game and pick the Second Campaign Game up here in Oerth.  I was vague on where Saltmarsh actually was, so I can still decide. Given the adventures, I am pretty sold on it being in Greyhawk.

N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God levels 1-3 (novice)
U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, levels 1-3
U2 Danger at Dunwater, levels 1-4
U3 The Final Enemy levels 3-5
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7
I3 Pharaoh, levels 5-7
I4 Oasis of the White Palm, levels 6-8
I5 Lost Tomb of Martek, levels 7-9
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads, levels 6-9
X5 Temple of Death, levels 6-10
I9 Day of Al'Akbar, level 8-10
Gary Gygax's Necropolis, levels 10+

With a break right after I4 for the Council of Greyhawk. This group will be sent to the desert but unlike the Order of the Platinum Dragon the Treasure hunters will not be transported back.

This could end up being quite epic.  Hope I am able to get it all done.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch

"Ellasif was the only witness to her infant sister's first breath. What followed was not a newborn's wail, but merry peals of laughter." 

Pathfinder Tales: Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham and Dave Gross.

Gamer Fiction is a bit of an odd thing for me.  I admit I enjoy it and sometimes I find something good. But there is a tinge of guilt that I am "wasting my time" and not reading something better.  I guess this makes it the very definition of "guilty pleasures".

Winter Witch is no different.  Elaine Cunningham has been writing for years and has some notable titles under belt.   It will not be confused with great literature, but it is also not supposed to be. It is a fun little romp through a frozen world with a wizard turned forger and cshieldmaiden looking for her sister.  Ellasif, the aforementioned shieldmaiden is the hero of our tale and the most interesting. She obviously loves her sister Liv, but is also not a little afraid of her.
Her beginning story was very interesting.  I could not help but feel it was nice mix of Slavic, Saxon and Celtic myths all rolled into one. The story then shifts to the tale of a wizard (we later learn) and map maker forger Declan.  Declan was not as interesting to me to be honest though the mystery around him was.  These two unlikely heroes, grim Ellasif and urbane Declan,  set off to find Liv and take her from the clutches of the Witches of Irrisen, maybe even from the clutches of Baba Yaga herself!

The book was a fun, really quick read. Though I will admit there are parts of the ending I was not satisfied with. Unlike some game-related fiction, where you can practically hear the dice rolling in the background, this read much more like a novel.  I read this one soon after a few Forgotten Realm novels so the competing descriptions of some the same spells (for example Fireball) were very interesting.  I guess the question I ask myself is would I read another book by Elaine Cunningham? Yes, absolutely!  Would I read another book with these characters? Maybe, depends on what the book was about.

I was hoping that Feiya would make a cameo, but no such luck really. Maybe the iconics don't appear in books.

This was another Audiobook find and the reader, Daniel Thomas May, did a great job.

Elaine Cunningham can be found on the web here:
https://www.facebook.com/elaine.cunningham
and
http://www.elainecunningham.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 12
Level: Mother
Witches in this book: Many. All of Irrisen, Baba Yaga, Liv and Mareshka.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: All the above. THough mostly they are Bad.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Well. It is a Pathfinder book. Pathfinder is the obvious choice here.
Use in WotWQ: Absolutely!  I can't say for sure what or who will appear, but Irrisen will absolutely feature into the War of the Witch Queens.  Expect to see Baba Yaga there too.


Don't forget. Today is Beltane!
Pick up a copy of the Warlock for Swords & Wizardry.


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