Friday, January 7, 2011

Willow and Tara: Season of the Witch

So what is "Willow and Tara: Season of the Witch"?

Well for starters Season of the Witch had three major purposes. First was to show that Willow and Tara could hold a series on their own. I think I showed that well enough in "The Dragon and the Phoenix", but I really wanted to emphasize that here. So to that end there was a format change from the Original Series. To force our hand I decided that we could not even say the words "Buffy" or "Vampire", though vampires I was not so successful with. I have a cut scene near the end of the series when a witch hunter comes to town. She is surrounded by a pack of vampires, then with out a word at all she cuts them all down. I figured in that case I was also further distancing myself from the Original Series since I showed that slaying vampires was no big deal. The other was one I just couldn't help doing and that was Vampire Tara. More on those two though when the time is right.

The second major purpose of this series was to have no big bad.

That's right, none. The Big Bad formula was getting old. Every season on the Original Series was a Big Bad that had to up the ante on the last one. What was next? Galactus? So instead I came up with this idea of the Awakening. Now I kept the Awakening vague for most of the series simply because I also didn't know what it was! I knew it was something that all the magical factions in the world were looking upon with fear, uncertainty and doubt. I knew that Tara's parents discovered the most recent clues about it in 1976. And I knew it dealt with Willow and Tara directly.

In the end, like some of these kinds of things it was a convergence of many ideas into a whole. Which gets to my third major purpose.

The third thing I wanted to do with the series, and this is mostly tangential, is I wanted to work in features from other games. You saw this as my big conversion efforts. Season of the Witch began with elements from WitchCraft and Ghosts of Albion, but I began working in the concepts from other, mostly supernatural horror, games into it. This was not part of the plot, only as a means to give a fuller experience of a much larger world. The Original Series was very narrow in it's focus, something I did not realize till I started to take the series apart. Like in The Dragon and the Phoenix, I wanted the players to feel they were part of a larger world and they did not live in a vacuum. In Season of the Witch there are other things going on, there are other factions, other players and other threats and allies. To help me out I borrowed from other games. There are factions from Mage the Awakening, SAVE from Chill. The Bureau is loosely based on various government bodies found in Conspiracy X, DarkMatter, Bureau 13 and Delta Green. This helped shape the world they lived in, not just some small corner of Southern California.

But this got me thinking, how is that all these games where "magic is real but hidden" work? How is it that magic can stay hidden when there are so many vampire related killings? Are all cops on the take? What is happening? How can this keep going on? And then the answer became clear. It can't. If you read Chill and WitchCraft you get the idea that long ago magic was more common. Then something happened that caused it to be less common. Now something is happening again to make more common. Both Chill and WitchCraft say supernatural occurrences are on the rise. But even the average 2-3 games of WitchCraft have more supernatural things going on than an entire campaign of Chill. Which is fine IF you consider there is 20 years separating them. Then look at Armageddon, 2018 magic and the supernatural are out and in the open. I had my answer.

The Awakening is the falling of the Veil between our world and the magical one. After the awakening we will be living in a world were magic is real and everyone knows about it.

The characters have to decide whether or not this is a good thing and which of the factions working for/against them they can trust if any.

But I also needed to stay true to my first major purpose; Willow and Tara. So if the world was going to go full on magic, or not, something needs to happen to these two as well. Given the research I was doing, and again taking an idea from my contributor and playtester Lisa Countryman, I decided that Willow and Tara were also going to become the first Mages.

Exactly what a Mage is will detailed soon.


Obviously Willow and Tara, but that is almost too small of a group. But still all I had them in was Bob's '67 Ford Thunderbird. I needed to be very clever or lucky. I was both.

The other main character was Robert Maclay, Tara's father. He was a ghost ala Ghosts of Albion (I'll post his stats soon). He had been the team leader back in '76 so his insight was needed. He also had the whole repentant thing going, he needed to prove to his daughter that he was not really a heartless bastard. Well. He was, but he had his reasons, and those reasons are the same ones why he did not want Tara in Sunnydale, that he lied to her for years and inventiblly why her mother died.

Plus if you were a young lesbian on a road trip with your girlfriend who is the last person you want tagging along? That's right the ghost of your strict and very conservative father! He made it in on comedy alone!

I also needed another character. For this I needed someone with fighting ability. I love Willow and Tara, but in physical combat they suck. Bob is fine, as long as whomever he is hitting is also a supernatural creature. A mundane can't be hit by him, hell they can't even see him. So I needed some one with some firepower, some physical ability to fight, and someone that could fit in a convertible with two other people.

I considered using Ms. Kitty as High Bast, but truth be told, I dismissed it as soon as came up with it. No good reason, and even while typing this now I can't think of a reason not to do it. But it wasn't what I wanted really.

In the end I went with another character I felt got shafted, Cordelia, as a Charmed style White Lighter. It fit really. I had a Charmed crossover coming up. I had already used her once in "Will We Burn in Heaven?" and the Ascension quality I gave her was not very different than the White Lighter one. She could pop in and out as needed and then didn't have to be in the car the whole time. I gave Cordy other "charges" to explain why she could not get them out of every mess. And the girls needed to drive to recreate Bob and Megan's (Tara's mother) original mission. Plus, and lets be really honest here, Charisma Carpenter is hot.

Willow and Tara get Bob's car and Megan's journal/Book of Shadows (things that can help them or be stolen if I need them to be) and the adventure is ready to begin!

Here is my original outline for the season:

Main plot is witchcraft and magic. With seasonal issues of family.

Season of the Witch - Cinematic game set in 2003-2005. Set in the same universe as "The Dragon and the Phoenix". Heavy WitchCraft RPG elements (with many elements from "Ghosts of Albion").

Willow and Tara travel back to Tara's home town for the funereal of her father. While there they discover that Robert and Megan Mclay (Tara's parents) were involved with a secret society of hunters of the supernatural. Visited by Robert's ghost, Willow and Tara retrace the steps of Robert and Megan's failed 1976-1980 mission. Tara's mom had a vision of the world in Chaos, magic open and running amok. Thousand's kill themselves in crises of faith, others began to hunt down and kill witches.

Watching them are the Government (the Bureau), SAVE, the Daughters of the Flame, the Witches Committee and Lilith. All know about the "Awakening", or a fundamental change in the nature of magic. Most believe it means magic will be exposed (it has already begun).

The Awakening: Magic is going to be exposed. The various groups, Cleaners, Guardians, Protectors all know this and there is nothing they can do to stop it. But Willow and Tara are going to give it a try.

This will certainly throw society into chaos. To stop it the girls need to shut down several key portals. Willow & Tara stumble on this reality and learn that Tara's mother and father, while working for a small team of psychic investigators discovered this in 1976. Now 30 years later the prophecies are coming true.


The Witches' Committee wants this to happen and are poised to take control in the ensuing chaos. Human witches.

Lillith wants to keep the status quo since she knows that the mundanes will turn on witches and slaughter them. Lillith runs "L Enterprises". (have a report of how W&H were destroyed by her). She is running the auction in San Francisco. Approached by Lillith. Anya is there, she is now divorced and working for Lillith. Lillith does not reveal all her plans yet.

Governmental Bodies. The Bureau (introduced last season) is working on a "final solution" for the problems with magic and demons. Bob knew of them, but never trusted them. Of course they want to stop the awakening as well, but have other plans too.

Daughters of the Flame. This group of witches has a different view on what the Awakening means and they are convinced it has to do with Willow and Tara specifically.

RESOURCES: Cordy, Bob Mclay, Megan's journal.

NOTE: I do not remember who originally did that image above. It was a desktop image that I most certainly downloaded from the Kitten Board. I added the text myself later. If the creator sees this then please contact me for your proper credit or removal of the pic.


Tim Knight said...

Great, inspirational, material as always. can't wait for the next episodes :-)

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Ermm... Hate to have to mention this, but Shadowrun uses the same term for the same thing. Not that that's bad; the term makes sense.