Friday, October 30, 2009


"Scarecrow on a wooden cross, blackbird in the barn…" - John Mellencamp, Scarecrow

When I think back to Halloweens of my childhood one image keeps coming back to me. No not vampires or witches, those were more artifacts of my later years. No the image that kept my 4-5 year old self up at night is a Scarecrow. We had the cardboard, jointed Scarecrow that that was common in the 70's. We hung up in our house for a couple of Halloweens. Given the house, I had to have been 4 or 5 at the time. That thing scared the hell out me. I don't feel that fear now, nor even the memory of it, just the memory of the memory, devoid of fear. It's odd really. So this year we wanted to find a Scarecrow for our house, now some 35 years later. I have NEVER seen one though that can match up to the memory I have. So it should be no surprise that I have used Scarecrows in all my games. In fact, Larry Elmore was channeling me (of course!) with this famous cover to Dragon Magazine. I loved the witch on it (and no one can do a witch quite like Mr. Elmore) but that Scarecrow is just plain evil.

For this Halloween here is a collection of Scary Scarecrows to add to your games. Not every game is here, but some of the ones I have used in the past.

Ghosts of Albion/Cinematic Unisystem

Razzle dazzle drazzle drone. Time for this one to come home.
Razzle dazzle drazzle die. Time for this one to come alive!
- Parchment found near a risen scarecrow

Scarecrows are basic guardians similar to druthers, but not nearly as powerful. Like mundane scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. They stumble clumsily about their assigned area and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some scarecrows are bound to a post, and use their paralyzing (fear) gaze to imprison any trespassers.
Scarecrows are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything humanoid or animal-like in appearance that walks into it's territory, unless otherwise instructed by their creator.

Name: Scarecrow
Motivation: To follow orders
Creature Type: Magical Construct
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Constitution 6, Intelligence 0, Perception 1, Willpower 0
Ability Scores: Muscle 16, Combat 5, Brains 0
Life Points:
Drama Points: 1
Powers: Fear Gaze (paralyze), Hard to Kill 2, Immune to cold, fear, poisons, sleep, water, and any mind effecting spell, Vulnerability to fire.

Name Score Damage Notes
Punch 5 8 Bash
Slam tackle 5 8 Bash
Takedown 6 4
Dodge 6 Defence action
Grapple 7 Resisted by Dodge

A scarecrow can paralyze a victim with its gaze via its fear attack. The victim needs to make a Willpower check (doubled) with at least one success level.
Because of their straw bodies, scarecrows are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take double damage from all fire attacks. In addition, a scarecrow guardian will catch fire easily after any attack that would normally ignite mundane items.

A scarecrow can be created easily by a standard ritual. A basic scarecrow is used for the body. It usually takes a couple of hours to construct a scarecrow, not counting the time for the ritual.

Animate Scarecrow
Quick Cast: No
Power Level: 3
Philosophy: Witchcraft
Requirements: The creation of a scarecrows body and an hour long ritual.
Components: Common components.
Effect: The witch must prepare the scarecrows body out of hay, straw and old clothes. This should take at least an hour or two to gather materials and make the body. Longer times are needed for more complex scarecrows, but never more than three hours. Successful casting means the scarecrow is animated and will respond to the witchs commands.
Spell failure or backfire results in a scarecrow that can never be animated. The witch will need to burn the wood and start over.
Creation: Alteration, minor (+3), Casting Time (-2), Touch (-1), Permanent (+6), Unusual materials (-1), Philosophy ().

Witch Girls Adventures
Scarecrow (Rank 2 Monster)

Body: d8
Mind: d2
Senses: d2
Will: d2
Social: d2
Magic: d2

Life Points: 16
Reflex: 11
Resist Magic: 5
Zap: 10

Skills: Fighting +2, Scare +6

Construct: Scarecrows are created and are immune to Mentalism magic. They also feel no pain, never grow tired and do not need to eat or sleep.
Vulnerability to Fire: Scarecrows take x3 damage from fire.
Fear: Scarecrows are surrounded by an aura of fear. (Scare Skill at +6)


Whatever they made with. Some witches will equip their Scarecrows with a mowing scythe.

Description: Scarecrows look exactly like normal scarecrows, though those with the ability to see magical auras will notice an aura around the Scarecrow and possibly an evil looking glow in their eyes. Scarecrows can follow very simple orders. "Guard this field from trespassers." "Keep everyone but me and those I am with out of this barn." The words are not as important as the intent of the words. As long as it is simple and the witch can put it in a sentence or two then the Scarecrow will follow her commands.
  • Cryptozoology fact: Scarecrows can be created by any witch with the proper spells, but regardless of the type of witch all Scarecrows "Seem" evil.

  • Cryptozoology fact: Witches cannot turn people into Scarecrows nor bind their spirits to one, that is only rumor.

  • Cryptozoology fact: Scarecrows are known for their fear causing effects and their difficulty to make; a Scarecrow in a field is a good sign that the witch that owns it is powerful.
Create Scarecrow Spell
Conjuration, Rank 3
The witch needs to construct a scarecrow and then use this spell in order to bring it to life. The spell is difficult to learn because it is no longer featured in most spell texts. The cost to make the Scarecrow materials and construct it is worth only 10 allowance points, but can take a couple of hours to fashion properly.

Spellcraft & Swordplay

#App: 1 (1-2)
AC: 3
Move: 40'
HD: 3 (13 hp)
Attacks: Slam (fists)
Special: Immune to sleep, charm, paralysis, compulsion
Treasure: None
XP: 20 + 39 (59)

Vulnerable (Fire)

D&D 3.x / d20
Scarecrow Guardian (From my "Liber Mysterium")
Medium-Sized Construct
Hit Dice: 3d10 (15 hp)
Initiative: -2 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 10 (-2 Dex, +2 Natural)
Attacks: Slam +2
Damage: Slam 1d6
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft
Special Attacks: Paralyzing Gaze
Special Qualities: Construct, Fire Vulnerability, damage
reduction 15/+1
Saves: Fort +3, Ref -1, Will +4
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 6, Con --, Int --, Wis 16, Cha 1
Climate/Terrain: Any
Organization: Solitary or gang (2-4)
Challenge Rating: 4
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always Neutral
Advancement: 4-8 HD (Medium) 9-12 HD (Large)

Scarecrow Guardians are basic guardians similar to golems, but not nearly as powerful. Like typical scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. The stumble about their assigned area poorly and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some Scarecrow Guardians are bound to a post, and use their paralyzing gaze to imprison any trespassers.

Scarecrow Guardians are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything, humanoid or animal like in appearance that walks into it's territory unless otherwise instructed by their creator. Paralyzing Gaze: Target can not move, as per the Hold Person spell as cast by a 10th level cleric, 30 ft., Will Save DC 15

Construct: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.
Fire Vulnerability: Because of their straw bodies, Scarecrow Guardians are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take double damage from all fire attacks.
In addition, a scarecrow guardian will catch fire easily after any attack that would normally ignite mundane items. A scarecrow on fire receives 2d6 damage each round (do not double this damage)

Undead ScarecrowSome Scarecrow Guardians are imbued with a spirit of a person. These scarecrows have all the same traits as a normal Scarecrow Guardian, except their creature type is undead, and have the same hit dice (though the type of die is changed to d12) and skills as their previous incarnations. Undead Scarecrows can still be bound to an area to protect, and still obey the commands of their creator. An Undead Scarecrow has the same CR as when he was living +1. An Undead Scarecrow whose master is killed has a 10% chance of being freed from his control, 25% chance of dying and a 65% chance of continuing to guard his specified area.

ConstructionA Scarecrow Guardian can be created easily by a standard ritual. A basic scarecrow is used for the body. The material components necessary for creating a Scarecrow Guardian costs 2,000 GP and require the Craft Wondrous Item feat. Understanding the ritual necessary for creating the Scarecrow can be done by a caster of at least 10th level. Completing the ritual drains 500 XP from the creator and requires the spell Animate Objects. The material components necessary for creating an Undead Scarecrow cost 10,000 GP and require the Craft Wondrous Item feat. Completing the ritual drains the creator of 1,200 XP and requires the spells Trap the Soul, Animate Objects, and Animate Dead, not to mention a living sacrifice (usually a small animal) which must be killed during the ritual to provide the life force.

AD&D 2nd Ed
Witch's Scarecrow (from my "Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks")
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Fields or Gardens (Sub-arctic to Sub-tropical, always near a witch's lair)
DIET: None
THAC0: 18
SIZE: M (4-6')
MORALE: Fearless (19)
PSIONICS: Nil, Immune to Psionics

Appearance: Witch's Scarecrows are motley creatures pieced together from a variety of materials. Sticks, twigs, old leaves, straw and similar materials are used to stuff old clothing into a manlike shape. Their heads are often stuffed bags with crude caricatures of a face or hollowed out, carved gourds or pumpkins. These creatures are usually set on a stout staff stuck in he ground, and look completely unremarkable. So unremarkable that only a Detect Magic or True Seeing allows someone to distinguish it from a normal scarecrow when it is not in motion. A moving Scarecrow has an odd grace, joint-less and fluid. It seems on the end of collapse yet continues to walk in defiance of what it ought to do.
Combat: Witch's Scarecrows made for combat, they're only supposed to scare things away. These creatures are surrounded a powerful fascination aura that they can employ whenever they are seen to move. Any intelligent being observing a moving Witch's Scarecrow must save vs. spells or be so overcome that they can do nothing but gape at the moving creature. Once this fascination has a hold of a victim, it lasts until one turn after the scarecrow leaves the area, the scarecrow remains still for a turn, the victim is scared by the scarecrow, or the victim suffers a damaging attack.
The Witch's Scarecrow has two forms of magical fear. It can cause anyone meeting its gaze to flee in utter fear for 1d4+10 rounds, with a chance (adjudicated by the DM) of dropping anything they have in hand while they panic. Only Witches, Priests, and victims with 6 or more hit dice, are allowed a saving throw against this attack. Whenever a Witch's Scarecrow is actually pressed into a fight its fascination aura becomes so intense that it acts as anyone approaching within ten feet becomes stricken by an identical magical fear. Things that have no fear, such as golems or undead, are immune to this effect.
These creatures are immune non-magical missiles of less than siege size, any harmful effects of the weather. They are immune to some spells, including Call Lightning, spells that cause sleep, charm, paralyze, or hold victims, as well as spells that require a biological target like the carious cause wounds spells.. They are resistant to most forms of fire (+2 saves, & half damage). They are vulnerable to the flames hand-wielded, non-magical torches, suffering 1d10 points of damage per strike. Additionally so long as their creator lives or a witch inhabits her nearby dwelling, these scarecrows neither decay nor show any signs of aging. Habitat/Society: Witch's Scarecrows are guardians created, not to force or harm intruders, but to frighten them away. Their nature limits the places they can inhabit, but within those limits they perform well. The ceremonies that allow one of these creatures to be animated fail if not performed in a field, garden, or other cultivated area of land. Thereafter, the creature regards this area as its home. While it will keep watch over it's maker and her dwelling while they are nearby, it will not travel with her if she leaves or wander off on its own.
Witch's Scarecrows are not violent by nature, and only attack if they are struck first. They seldom pursue fleeing opponents, only doing so if their maker has been slain in their sight. Those knowledgeable about such similar creatures find Witch's Scarecrows have a one distinctive behavior. They are themselves fascinated by children. They will neither harm nor attack them regardless of the children's actions. They will entertain children with pantomime and play along with any of their games as best they can. It will try to interpose itself between fighting children, and anything attacking a child in the presence of such a creature will be attacked it turn.
Ecology: Witch's Scarecrows have no need to eat, respire, or even breathe. Unlike most magical constructs, they have some small effect on the local ecology. Simply, they're excellent scarecrows. Most animals, for birds and foraging rodents to deer and even bears, will be quickly chased from any area the Scarecrow guards.
These creatures are created by witches to guard their lairs. The three part process requires a small stone (and any natural stone will do) to be consecrated by a Bless, then covered with layer after layer of certain leafy herbs, soaked in water to make them pliable and bound with twine. When this is the size of a proper heart a body must be built around it, a task which requires no special materials or effort. Finally, the scarecrow must be taken to a field the witch owns for its animation. This must be done on a moonless night sometime between planting and harvest or the ceremony will fail. The Witch must prop the scarecrow up on a staff and cast the following spells: Animate Object, Cloak of Fear, Resist Fire, Spook and Quest. If successful, the witch hears a slow, steady heartbeat for a short time.
Of course, a number of legends surround Witch's Scarecrows. The tales of these creatures becoming fierce avengers of their mistress' murders are certainly from some form of divine intervention rather than any inherent ability of their own. The report of one such creature, who was often used as a target by local archers, hurling arrowheads from its bodies was most likely the result of some singular enchantment. Lastly, legends that such creatures may freely use a the powers of a magical wand concealed within one of their forearms or similar staff that they are propped up with are probably not true.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Play Ivy For Me

I have been reading the Rachel Morgan series of books, AKA the Hollows series, by bestselling author Kim Harrison. The books are set in an alt-history Earth where magic is real and there are witches, vampires (living and undead), faeries, ghosts, gargoyles and werewolves. This is not what separates it all from the pack of some many other "Urban Fantasy" books out there. In this series all the supernaturals were "outted" when a genetically re-engineered virus from a tomato whipped out a quarter (or at least a lot) of the humans. To keep society going and to also explain why they had not died off, the supernaturals (or Inderlanders) stopped hiding. That was 40 years ago and the world has kept on moving forward. The books are fun because of this alt history (but that is not the only reason I like them), and it is interesting to hear how Ms. Harrison has woven this event (called "the Turn") into the mythology of the books. There are new oaths people swear too ("Damn it to back the Turn!") or even the silly; for example humans are now terrified of tomatoes. On Halloween then Inderlander homes will put out pumpkins and tomatoes and give out candy to human kids and candy and tomatoes to inderlander kids.

Plus I enjoy that all the books are plays on Clint Eastwood film titles.

No. what has to be my favorite part of the books are the characters. Rachel Morgan is a witch and a "runner" (think Shadow Run, but she is more of a bounty hunter really). She used to work for the IS, Inderland Security, who deals with the crimes committed by or to Inderlanders. Now she works every so often for the FIB (Federal Inderland Bureau), the human run police. Rachel is great, she is very much the leap before you look type. Has all sorts of magic, and still can't figure out why she terrible luck with guys, has demons following her and manages to piss off nearly everyone in town, including a master vampire, an elf crime lord and what may be the oldest demon left alive. IT's never dull for Rachel. Helping her out is her friend Jenks, who is a pixie, and might very well be the coolest pixie on the planet. He has over 50 kids, knows how to break into nearly everything, swears all the time, gets drunk on honey and manages to do all of this while being just about 4 inches tall. Then there is Ivy.

Ivy has issues.

She is a living vampire, her mother gave her the vampire virus when she was in the womb. She has the bloodlust (and man does she have it), some of the strength, the fangs, but not all the powers nor the sensitivity to sunlight. She is from a long line of very well to do living vamps, the Tamwoods, so her place in vampire society is assured. Once she dies and becomes an undead vamp she will rule Cincinnati. Trouble is she doesn't want any of that. Ivy really only wants one thing. Rachel. Ivy is in love with Rachel and has been for a while. She left the IS when Rachel did, and they live in a church (as roommates) and run their independent runner service from there. Living with Ivy though is like living with a panther. She is sleek, beautiful, and can kill you in an instant. Rachel loves Ivy too, but is not ready to go the next step with her. Plus Ivy is a mess since her undead vampire master had spent years mixing sex, love and bloodletting with savagery that Ivy has a difficult time separating them all.

So these character have really grabbed me. I like them. I want to know about what happens to them and their future. And I can't but help think about how great they'd be in a game. I am going to try to knock together some stats for these characters here is a bit. Until then, here are some links. Rachel and Jenks, site link here:

So keep an eye here. Certainly I'll get these three stated up for Ghosts of Albion, but I'd also like to try working them out for Witch Girls Adventures and Cortex.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shadow Girls, Charon McKay

Charon McKay is the mother of Becka. Charon (pronounces "Share-on") has had it rough. She was raised by her grandmother when her mother and father died when she was 4, then Charon herself went missing for a few months at age 15. She returned home, incoherent, very pregnant and no idea who the father was (the age Becka is now). She gave birth to Becka and settled into a mostly normal life of a teenage mother. Of course her one true love, Jack, had moved on to Chrissy, her one true enemy, then her grandmother died leaving her and her daughter on her own..and this was all before she discovered that whole destiny thing.

Charon is a very interesting character. She is a bit of a drunk, not above swearing, getting her hands dirty or sleeping around, but her soul is pure. You can see it in the way she treats and loves Becka. Charon is not dumb, she knows what sort of life she leads, but she often thinks the best solution to a problem is violence. This is amplified in her Shadow Child form which is pure aggression. Something like the Incredible Hulk, only shadowy and a wearing a set of brass knuckles with the word "BITCH" printed in reverse on them.

Now what is really cool is we have seen a few different versions of Charon as Shadow Girls evolved from some the early ideas Dave had to it's present (and canonical) form. Sure those other Charons are different, but certainly you get the idea of what makes this character tick. For example, Charon wears a cross. We have not been privy yet to what religion she practices, but we do know that she is religious to a degree. So much so that it comes out even in her Shadow Child (and Shadow Girl) forms.

Here is Charon in all her violent, drinking, sleeping around, foul mouthed, but loving, protective motherly ways. For the Witch Girls Adventures game.

Charon McKay (Shadowform after /)

Body: d6 / d12+5

Mind: d6 / d4

Senses: d6 / d8

Will: d6 / d4

Social: d4+1 / d4+1

Magic: d6 / d10

Life Points: 12/34

Reflex: 9/20

Resistance: 9/13

Zap Points: 12 / 20


Acrobatics 4, Basics 2, Fighting 6/12, Fix Mechanical 6, Pop culture 4, Scare 2/10, Streetwise 4

Traits: Beautiful, Tinkerer

Heritage: Shadowchild (Nodens)

Magic (all magic is shadow based)*

Morph 6 (Shadowchild, Merged Shadowforms only)


Move 2

Zap 4

Screamer 4

Shield 3

* Like Becca, Charon can only use magic in one of her Shadow forms, including morphing into the Shadowchild or merging into the full Shadowchild with Charon. In any case all magic will be shadow-based.

Up next. The Shadow child herself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Little Fears

A while back I posted about my excitement that a new version of Little Fears would be coming out.

Well it is out today in PDF form.

I am downloading it now and will let you all know what I think of it.

Every October I purchase a Horror-themed RPG product. I thought I was going to talk about D&D 4's "Open Grave", but it looks like it might be this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

D&D4: Bringing out my dead (characters)

So I was playing around with D&D Insider the other night and I wanted to work up an Assassin and I came accross the Revenant. Nothing new there really, Iknew about it, but never considered it.

But then it dawned on me. I reworked an older 1st Edition Assassin character as new Revenant Assassin. A little fluff, a few hundred years and bingo. I have a character that I thought was dead and is now back for more.

Granted this might not work for every character, but it certainly has been an interesting solution. Except I have to figure out exactly how he died.

But it does bring up an interesting issue. Converting between 1st and 2nd Ed AD&D was easy. Converting over to 3rd Ed was fine, with some minor issues (feats, multiclass). But 4th Ed is an entirely different beast. Conceptually, I can convert things; but indivduals, are more difficult.
And I *still* have not completely figured out how to do witches they way I like and how I did them in previous editions, though Warlocks are really close.

All in all, still enjoying this new edition, I hope I get a chance to play my new, back from the dead, assassin.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shadow Girls, Lindsey Jun Yeoh.

Shadow Girls, Lindsey Jun Yeoh.

Lindsey Jun Yeoh, aka Lin Lin, is Becka’s best friend. She has no powers, no status, nothing that would allow her to help out her friend to fight the darkness, and she is still there. Whether beating a bad guy with a folding chair, or stealing a gun, Lindsey will always be there for Becka to make up for the one time she wasn’t. Charon and Becka’s motivations are fairly clear to understand. Lindsey is much more complex. She still bears the scars of her battles (a credit to the artist!) and they only meaning they have to her is that she must still fight to help Becka no matter what. Becka has moments of fear, Lindsey is her rock. She doesn’t know anything more than her friend does, but because she is there. If there was a scene ala the Oscars where we could see the scene from Lindsey that clinche’s her nomination then it will be these two pages:

We see for the first time that all those battle’s Lindsey fought while helping Becka will leave her scarred, but no where near as much as the scars Lindsey feels is on her karma/soul. It should be no surprise that Lindsey is the most popular character in the series.

Lindsey Jun Yeoh

Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d6
Will: d10
Social: d8
Magic: d4

Life Points: 12
Reflex: 9
Resistance: 7
Zap Points: 8

Traits: Brave, Unshakable
Heritage: Mundane

Skills: Acrobatics +3, Acting +2, Basics +1, Computers +2, Fighting +3, Plucky +3, Pop Culture +2

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shadowgirls + Witch Girls

So I mentioned yesterday of my fondness of the webcomic Shadowgirls and the RPG Witch Girls Adventures. So here is my first attempt of "two great tastes that taste great together". So in that spirit I present Rebecca McKay.

You can read all about Rebecca on the Shadowgirls website, including a Mutants & Masterminds version.

Reading through these posts obviously point to Becka being a great character to play. Witch Girls Adventures is a great game with a lot of great powers that would allow a Director to run a great Shadow Girls-like game. Maybe something high school focused (which of course I have a cool idea).

But in the meantime, here is Becka and her Shadow Girl form

Becka McKay (Shadowform after /)

Body: d4 / d12
Mind: d8 / d8
Senses: d6 / d8
Will: d8 / d8
Social: d6 / d8
Magic: d8 / d10

Life Points: 8 / 24
Reflex: 7 / 15
Resistance: 11 / 13 +2
Zap Points: 16 / 20

Traits: Brave, Eidetic Memory*
Heritage: Shadowchild (Nodens)

Magic (all magic is shadow based)**


Morph 6 (Shadowchild, Merged Shadowforms only)

Move 1
Zap 2
Screamer 4
Shield 2

*Eidetic Memory: same as the M&M feat of the same name.

** Becca can use magic only in one of her Shadow forms, including morphing into the Shadowchild or merging into the full Shadowchild with Charon. In any case all magic will be shadow-based.

Coming up, Lindsey and Charon!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shadow Girls

I have been a long time fan of the webcomic Shadow Girls.

Well they have a few things going on that I'd like to let everyone know about.

First, it is a cool comic. Described as "H.P. Lovecraft meets the Gilmore Girls", which as far as mashups go has to be one of the coolest ideas ever, but the comic goes far beyond that.

Second they have a figure they are getting made that looks really awesome.

And they are being nominated for WebComicPlanet's awards. They are very much deserving of all of these awards.

Shadow Girls would make a great RPG (but the creators aldeady know that and are working on it), so until the official one is out I might try stating up the characters for Cinematic Unisystem or Witch Girls Adventures.

So go to the website, read the comic, vote, nominate and if you like, buy.

OH, and of note: the current running comic is a guest comic, please go to the first page to get the full experience.