Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gods of the Witches

Here is the second part of my Gods and Goddesses of the Witches.  Here are the gods.

Name of the God
It is no secret that much of witchcraft is “Goddess focused”, there is though a God as well.  Though he might get a secondary placement in some Traditions and ignored altogether in others, He is to most witches equally important.
Listed here are various Gods. Included in each listing are a description of that God, likely alignments and Domains as well as the Goddess they are consort to.

God of light, prophecy, music and the sun.  He is twin brother to Artemis.  Witches that honor him are given the gift of prophecy.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Good, Light, Music, Sun
"Consort" to: Artemis

Horned God of the Celts, master of the Hunt and Summer, Cernunnos is prototypical of the witch Gods. He is known as the Summer Lord and the Horned One.
He is also a fertility God, in this case male fertility. His horn crested head symbolizes masculine power
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Fertility, Harvest, Hunting, Summer
Consort to: Danu

Earth and father God to the ancient Celts. He stirs the cauldron of creation. He mates with the Morrigan once per year, but shares his cauldron with Cerridwen.
Alignment: LN
Areas of Influence: Earth, Life and Death
Consort to: Cerridwen or the Morrigan

The God of wine in both it’s meanings. He is the God of abundance and religious ecstasy. He is also the God of drunken revelries, debauchery and madness.  Nymphs and satyrs always accompany his followers, called the Maenads or Mad Ones.
Consort to: No one.

The Egyptian God of Life, Death and Rebirth.  He began as a God of the harvest, in particular corn. He is Brother to Set and Isis and husband to Isis. Set killed Osiris and cast away his dismembered body. Isis reunited his body parts and brought him back to life. He then became lord of the dead.  He is also the God of the Nile and Law.
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: Good, Earth, Knowledge, Life and Death
Consort to: Isis

Goddesses of the Witches

Some things I have been playing around with for various books.  Didn't fit with anything I am working on now, but I don't want to go to waste.

Names of the Goddess
The Goddess is known by many names, but each is but an aspect of the true goddess.  What follows is a listing of Goddesses from Earth’s mythologies.  In each case a possible or likely alignment is included as well as areas of domains for clerics and witch coven spells. Descriptions of that Goddess’ coven might also be included.

Witches who worship the Artemis aspect of the Goddess are on good terms with druids.  These witches are common in amazon societies. As a witch of Artemis a woman pledges never to copulate with a man.  These witches are both chaste and celibate.  These witches may also choose to take the bow and arrow as their weapon.
She is part of a trinity of Artemis (maiden), Hestia (mother), and Hecate (crone).
Alignment: N or CG
Areas of Influence:Hunting, Moon, Women

Astartë (Ah-star TAY) is the goddess of love, fertility as well as war and lasciviousness (lust) to the ancient peoples of Canaan and Phoenicia, she was worshiped as far West as Carthage, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus.  Her name and cult were derived from Babylonia, where as Ishtar, she represented the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. Under Semitic influence, however, she became solely female, although retaining a trace of her original character by standing on equal footing with the male divinities. She represents the productive power of nature. She is also a moon goddess. Her symbol is the crescent moon with “horns” turned up.
She is related to the devil Astoroth, some say that she is now this devil, others say that that Astoroth is her son/consort.  Astoroth has also been associated with the Canaanite god of Thamudzi/Damuz.
Alignment: N or LN
Areas of Influence:Fertility, Magic

The Goddess of War and Wisdom sprang fully grown and armored from Zeus’, her father, head. She represents wisdom in matters of life and war.
Her worshippers are normally generals fighting just causes. The witches of this sect are usually on good terms with those of Artemis. This witch is favored in the Craft of the Wise tradition because of Athena’s renowned wisdom. They may choose the spear as their weapon.
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: War, Wisdom, Women

Bast is an ancient Goddess and the mistress of all cats.  Nearly every Find Familiar spell known invokes her name. Witches of Bast, few as they are, live a cat-like life style.  They prefer the comforts and leisure life that cats enjoy.  Then spend long afternoons lying in the sun and enjoying the sensuous side of life. Regardless, do not confuse leisure with laziness.  Witches of Bast are dedicated fighters of evil, in particular the workings of the minions of Set. Witches of Bast may choose weapon mastry in one edged weapon at the loss of one feat.  They also gain a +1 to hit and damage when fighting snakes.
Her consort is Aelurus, who appears as a tanned human male with a cat’s or lion’s head.
Alignment: NG or N
Areas of Influence: Cats, Good, Hunting

Brigit, also known as Brigantia, Bridget, or Brigid, is the Celtic Goddess of the rivers and rural life. She is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery and Wisdom. She was raised on the milk creature of the other-world, a white, red-eared cow. Brigit is one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people. She appeared as Brigit to the Irish, Brigantia in Northern England, Bride in Scotland, and Brigandu in Brittany. Many legends are told about Brigit. Some say that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts. This actually indicates the separate aspects of her Threefold nature and is a neat division of labor for a hard-working Goddess. Indeed, various interpretations of her name exist including, “Bright Arrow,” “The Bright One,” “the Powerful One” and “The High One,” depending upon the region and the dialect.
Her coven is known as the Daughters of the Flame.  These lawful good witches keep a holy flame burning at all times.
Part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.
Alignment: NG or LG
Areas of Influence: Fire, Healing, Wisdom

Often called the Roman Hecate, Cardea is the goddess of doors and the knowledge behind those doors.  Cardea is a capricious Goddess, often requiring her witches to memorize a section of poetry or building a center of learning in exchange for Her gifts of knowledge.  Cardea is open to all who wish to seek her out, but she makes no guarantees that her knowledge will be helpful to the seeker.
Alignment: CN or CG
Areas of Influence: Knowledge, Paths, Wisdom

Celtic Goddess of wisdom, intelligence, magic, divination and enchantment. She is the Goddess of the cauldron. Popular among the Celtic Classical and Craft of the Wise Traditions.
Cerridwen’s cauldron has the power to return the dead to life.
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Intelligence, Magic, Wisdom

The Celtic Mother-goddess known as Danu to the Irish and Don to the Welsh (and simlar to the Greek Demeter below).  The race of the Tuatha deDannan means “The Children of Danu”. She is also the mother of many Irish Celtic gods Diancecht, Lir, Lugh, Oghma and others.  Dagda is alternately mentioned as her son or father.  She is fierce protector of home and hearth.
She is part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden), Danu (mother), and Morigann (crone).
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Also known as Kore. The great Greek Earth Goddess. She is the Goddess of grain and of the harvest. Her witch cults are among the oldest known. She goes down to the underworld to retrieve her daughter.  During this time winter covers the land. Origin of most of the “Descent of the Goddess” legends.
Alignment: NG
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Diana is the Roman Goddess of fertility, the hunt and forests. She is the roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess of Artemis.  But unlike Artemis, the witches of Diana are not required to be chaste or celibate. In the celebration of Beletane the witch copulates with a druid priest in order to bring fertility back to the earth.  Some have even become Tantric witches.  Obviously these witches are on very good terms with Druids.  Their religious practices are very similar to Druids and to that Artemis.
The covens of Diana are often very old and very popular. The Amazon tradition is often known as the Cult of Diana because of their fervent devotion to the Goddess.
Alignment: N or CG
Areas of Influence: Hunting, Moon, Women

Eir is the Scandinavian Goddess of Healing, and handmaiden of Frigg.  No one is Her equal when it comes to healing.  Her worshipers are all healers, either clerical or as herbal healers.  Her clerics and witches must never pick up a weapon in anger or vengeance.
She is depicted as been a slight woman with reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes. Her arms are muscular.  She commonly wears blue and red. Fires always light her temples and covens, which are known as centers of healing and succor.  She is known for her patience.
All her worshipers must take the healing and profession (herbalist) skills.
Alignment: NG
Areas of Influence: Healing, Peace

Gaea (Gaia) is an Earth Goddess of Greek origin.  It is she who is ultimately responsible for all life. It is claimed that she emerged from darkness and mated with Uranus (the Sky god) and bore the twelve titans.
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Egyptian fertility Goddess.  She is the celestial cow who created the earth and the sun. As a cow goddess she ruled love, joy, merriment, music and dance.  She nourished the living with her milk , suckling Pharaoh and all others.  She is also known as the Goddess of love, music, song, and pleasure. In this aspect She has many followers among Lorelei and Tantric witches. She was one of the Egyptian gods that help guide the dead to the other side.
She is a Goddess that represents life, thus all her witches must be forces of life.  While some celebrate life, like the Lorelei and Tantric witches, others actively pursue careers to destroy those that threaten or mock life, such as the followers of Set or undead.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Creation, Fertility, Life, Magic

Hecate is, in Greek mythology, the Goddess of darkness, magic and witchcraft.  She is the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the Goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As Goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck.
Of all the deities who have covens, Hecate’s covens are the most widespread and well known. Hecate was once a fairly benign goddess in early Greek times. She later became the dread Greco-Roman Goddess of ghosts, a close confidante of Persephone and a patron of witches. The brutally wronged Hecuba of Troy was reincarnated as one of Hecate’s black dogs, which accompanied her on her night walks. When Hades kidnapped Persephone in the later Greek myth, farseeing Hecate was the only one who witnessed it. Hecate was worshiped at three-way crossroads at night even by ordinary Greek families and could ward off ghosts if properly propitiated. But Romans also believed She had more sinister worshipers; the witches and sorceresses who could coerce even the gods to do their will.
Alignment: LE or LN
Areas of Influence: Ghosts, Magic, Moon, The Crossroads

One side of Hel’s face was that of a beautiful woman. The other half was that of a rotting corpse, green and black, or of a skull.  She ruled the realm of Niflheim, a huge black canyon in icy mountains, where those who did not die gloriously in battle went when their span of life was up. Niflheim was not burning but icy cold, filled with sleet, icy slush, cold mud and snow. Garm, the horrible hound whose breast was splattered with the blood of the dead, guarded the entrance. Her hall was called Damp-With-Sleet. Her plate was Hunger, Her knife Famine; Her two servants were both called Slow-Moving. Her bed was Sick-Bed, the stone at the entrance to her hall Drop-to-Destruction. So the Vikings described Her and Her home. Though the Vikings regarded her with horror, the common people worshiped her.
Alignment: NE
Areas of Influence: Death, Destruction, Evil

Hestia is one of the Grecian hearth goddesses.  The Romans later called her Vesta.  Hestia was said to preside over all sacrifices.  One of the prohibitions was that should her fire ever go it, it could not be rekindled by an ordinary fire but only by the sun’s rays or by the friction of two pieces of wood.  As Vesta, the leaders of her cult were the Vestal Virgins (these were six girls from ages six to ten) who entered her college and stayed there for thirty years. Those breaking their vow of chastity were whipped to death or entombed.  Her witches will be the older women who have completed their temple service.
She is part of a trinity of Artemis (maiden), Hestia (mother), and Hecate (crone).
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: Hearth, Healing, Home

Holda, or Frau Holt, is the Goddess of Teutonic witches and Hags.  She is seen as both a caring mother and a frightening hag—a witch that calms children’s fears or eats them.  These polar opposites are common in many of the guises of the Goddess.  Classic witches typically honor her “good” side and Hags her “evil” one.  Holda is often depicted as riding a broom or a giant flying goose.  She can appear as a kindly old mother, a small child wearing all white or a viscous hag-like monster. She is the goddess of spinning, vegetation and children.  She is also a fertility goddess and her consort is known as the Wood Man.
The Oskorei, or the Furious Horde, a legion of fallen heroes and others, who have died before their time, similar to the Wild Hunt of the Celts or the Valkeries of the Norse, follow her on her nightly rides.
It is also believed that Frau Holt is the model for the children’s storybook character “Mother Goose”.
Alignment: CG or CE
Areas of Influence: Night, Mysteries, Witches and Hags

Ishtar of the Babylonians, and alternately Inanna of the Sumerians, represent the duality approach to the female deity, both are to be considered Nature deities; that is, human nature.  Both are the chief goddesses of their pathos, both are the goddesses of love, and therefore sexuality.  Also both are the goddesses of War, and therefore violence.  Their witches tend to have mercurial, almost chaotic personalities.  Covens tend to be very ancient and set in their ways.  Rituals will usually be consisted of old, lengthy litanies and sacrifices.  Ishtar’s witches are also as likely to pick up a weapon, as they are to use magic.
Alignment: CN
Areas of Influence: Love, Nature, War

Covens of Isis are old and represent ancient powers of the universe.  These witches are in tune with the fundamental powers and forces of the universe.  Isis’ name is called in rights of fertility.  She is also the patron Goddess of Magic.  There is much rivalry between Hecate and Isis in this category.  All of Isis’ covens are the paramount of good.  Isis is also a feminine ideal. With Osiris, Isis and Horus (the divine child) made up a Holy Trinity. She is the Goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, magic, healing, reincarnation and divination, to name but a few. Isis is the patroness of priestesses. One myth has Isis poisoning the Sun God Ra, offering to save him only if he would reveal his secret name. At last, at the brink of destruction, Ra gives Isis his heart, with the secret name it held, and his two eyes (the Sun and the Moon).  Isis quells the poison and ends up with Ra’s supreme power. In time the great Eye was passed along to her son Horus.  Proclus mentions a statue of her which bore the inscription “I am that which is, has been and shall be. My veil no one has lifted”. Hence, to lift the veil of Isis is to pierce the heart of a great mystery.
Alignment: NG or LG
Areas of Influence: Healing, Magic, Women

Kali is the supreme Dark Goddesses. It has been claimed that Her name is derived from the Hindu word for Time, yet also means, “black”. She is also called Durga.
Her very appearance is meant to terrify. She is black and emaciated, with fangs and claws. She wears a girdle of severed arms, a necklace of skulls or severed heads, earrings of children’s corpses, cobras as bracelets or garlands. Her mouth is smeared with blood.   Often She is shown standing or dancing on the corpse of the god Shiva; here, She feasts on his intestines.
Yet even Kali is not always dark. She also is a loving mother, and especially in that aspect is worshipped by millions of Hindus and her witches.
Her witches also see Kali as an Earth-Fertility Goddess, is thus worshiped by many Tantric witches. There are many parallels between the witch’s view of Kali and that of Ishtar.  Kali’s regular priests (Thuggee) see her as the destroyer and a Goddess of death.  Her witches, however, view Kali as the Force of Nature, a mother who can give life and take it away.  Witches of Kali generally have several Thuggee males in their covens as their strong arms.  Slaves are kept and human sacrifice is common.  Kali’s holiest nights are on the new moon and Wednesdays.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Death, Destruction, Fertility

Lilith is many things, first woman, wife, mother of demons, consort to men, demons, devils and gods, witch, demon and Goddess.
Lilith was the first wife of Adam, the first man. Adam and Lilith never found peace together, for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent position he demanded. “Why must I lie beneath you?” she asked. “I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal”. She became proud and refused to lie beneath him during intercourse. This violated the command to be fruitful and multiply, since she was not being impregnated. Some traditions hold that she was impregnated and bore demons from him. Others claim She had two daughters with Adam. Naamah and Tubal are referred to as Cain’s sisters.  Naamah is the mother of many devils. He pushed the issue of her submission, and she uttered the Holy Name of God and flew away.
It is said that soon after Lilith left Adam he stood in prayer before his creator and said: “God of the World, the woman that you gave me has run away from me”. God tried to force her to return to Adam and sent therefore the death-angel Azrafil to her in the desert at the Red Sea, where she dwelled with the djinns, giving birth to countless demons.  Then God dispatched the three angels, Sanvai, Sansanvai, and Semangelof to bring her back. They caught up with her in the desert near the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, to which she bore Lilim at the rate of more than one hundred a day. “Return to Adam without delay,” the angels said, “or we will drown you!” Lilith asked: “How can I return to Adam and be his woman, after my stay beside the Red Sea?” “It would be death to refuse!” they answered. “How can I die,” Lilith asked again, “when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children: boys up to the eighth day of life, that of circumcision; girls up to the twentieth day? Nevertheless,” she said, “I swear to you in the name of God who is living and exists, that if ever I see your three names or likenesses displayed in an amulet above a newborn child, I promise to spare it”. To this day they agreed; however, God punished Lilith by making one hundred of her demon children perish daily, and if Lilith could not destroy a human infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn against her own.  As late as the 18th century, mothers and children across many cultures took advantage of the protection offered by these amulets. Charms and rituals accompanied the use of the amulets, protecting mothers and infants from the retribution of Lilith. Baby girls were considered vulnerable in their first three weeks of life. Boys, on the other hand, were believed to be vulnerable for longer periods of time. Any boy under the age of eight was possible prey.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Evil, Moon, Women

Of the Finnish, “the people who ran from the woods,” few Goddesses are as evil and sadistic as Lovitar, Maiden of Pain.  Witches of Lovitar dispense pain to all of their enemies. Typical garb is white and all kinds of daggers are allowed as weapons.  Her coven spells deal primarily with pain and cold.
Alignment: NE
Areas of Influence: Cold, Evil, Pain

The Queen of the Sidhe. Mabd is the prototypical elven Goddess of Celtic lore.  Her high time is the Summer Solstice. She is also known as Mab, Meave and to the Briton Celts, Titania. She is a mercurial Goddess that reflects the nature of the forest; life giving to some, deadly to others.
Witches of the Faerie Tradition honor Mabd and many of the Classical Traditions also pay her honor.
Alignment: CG or CN
Areas of Influence: Elves (Sidhe), Mysteries

The Raven, the Celtic goddess of war.  Known as The Morigann, Morigan, Macha and Morigu.  She is the Goddess of war, battle and death, but not evil.
Part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.
Alignment: CN or CE
Areas of Influence: Chaos, War

This Welsh Goddess is well known for her appearance in the Mabinagion.  In penance for a crime that she did not commit, she sat for seven years outside Pwyll’s palace and offered to carry any visitor on her back like a horse.  The singing of her three magic birds could be heard over the sea, could wake the dead and could lull the living to sleep.  She was also identified with Epona (a horse cult).  The Roman Calvary favored Epona and her shrines were covered with roses.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Horses, Fertility, Women

Tiamat is the great creation Goddess of water and chaos to the Sumerians.  She gave birth to all of the Sumerian (Babylonian) gods and ruled them all, until the god Marduk defeated her.  He used Her body to create the sky and earth.  She was described as a great dragon or a being of chaos. Like so many other destructive Goddesses, Tiamat is a Goddess of creation.  It is believed by the Sumerians that she created the world.  In Babylonian myths, Tiamat is a huge, bloated female dragon that personifies the saltwater ocean, the water of Chaos. She is also the primordial mother of all that exists, including the gods themselves.
The Cult of Tiamat is extremely far reaching.  The primary duties of her witches are to venerate Tiamat and destruction in any way they can and to spread the word of the cult.  Often “spreading the word” implies random acts of violence and attributing them to Tiamat herself.  It is her capacity as the dark Goddess of chaos and creation that attracts so many witches to her cult.
Her witches tend to belong to the Malefic or dark Tantric Traditions.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Chaos, Creation, Dragons, Water

Aztec witches who worship Tlazolteol, the Goddess of vice, are often tantric or malefic witches.  They spend a great amount of time on their appearance and try to look as desirable as possible. Once they have someone alone they will attempt to corrupt or kill them. Most prefer to corrupt others. Bards speak of a particularly successful witch of Tlazolteol who had been in the bedrooms of many of a particular country’s politicians.  Single handedly she had very nearly toppled the government through jealousy and deceit.
Tlazoteol is also seen as a necessary evil. She takes in filth and sin so it may be disposed of.   It is this aspect that she is most often worshiped and served by her witches.  Confessing ones sins to her or to her witches, one would be purified of those sins.  Mothers in childbirth often called on her aid. Her witches, learned in all manners sexual, are also skilled midwives and nursemaids, after all birth is a natural consequence of sex. Her witches are believed to be adulterous and women born under her sign (The Ocelot) were believed to become her witches.
She is seen as lustful maiden, mother or priestess and crone, devourer of youth, depending on her mood.  She is always depicted nude in all of her aspects, as the Mother she is seen having just given birth.  She wears a gold and turquoise necklace and her temples are adorned with gold bells.  Of note she is also sometimes depicted as wearing a conical “witch’s” hat.
Alignment: CE or CN
Areas of Influence: Chaos, Fertility, Trickery, Vice

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bringing 2014 to a Close

Well we are in the last hours of 2014.

Not a bad year personally.  I didn't post as much as the last couple of years, but my "keyboard" time has been split between this and working on various projects.

My gaming all year really has been devoted to D&D.  Basic/Expert D&D in the first half and then D&D 5.  I got in some AD&D1 and even some AD&D2 this past year as well.  All in all I am not complaining.

I am not sure yet what is going to go on in 2015.  I am certain more D&D 5.  Maybe a dip into AS&SH, AD&D1, and some B/X.  Of course I have Pathfinder and C&C on my list since I still have some witch material to work the kinks out of.

I wanted to wrap up my D&D 3.x "Dragonslayers" game this past year, but didn't get around to it.  Hopefully this year.

Otherwise I hope you all have a great 2015!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Best of / Worst of 2014

We are getting to the end of the year.  Lots of things still going on of course, but everyone is now turning their attention to the end of 2014 and the start of 2015.

So let's get going and in no particular order.

Best of 2014

1. Gen Con 2014.  Gen Con had another record breaking year.  Some of that was fueled by D&D's 40th anniversary but most of it was due to growth every year for the last few years.  Gen Con is still no where near the size of Comic Con, and that is fine by me, but I do like seeing the growth.

2. D&D and D&D5.  Dungeons & Dragons had a banner year this year.  We started out the year with 40th anniversary news and more items on the cultural impact D&D has made in it's 40 years.  This summer D&D 5 was big news in the same way and the good will kept on going.  This was all helped by the fact that D&D 5 was actually a really good game.  Fans young and old could embrace this game as their own.  It could be stated even that 2014 was the year the Edition Wars ended.

3. Small Publishers hit it big.  A number of smaller publishers had huge hits this year.  The evidence can be seen in the best sellers over at DriveThru and winners at the Ennies.  While it may have been D&D's year in the spotlight, smaller companies took the awards.

Worst of 2014

1. Gamer Gate.  Pretty much anything and anyone involved in the entire mess.  Were there some important issues?  Who knows really.  The vitriol thrown around by both sides completely drowned out whatever the message was supposed to be.  This extended too...

2. Consultant Gate.  Some people got paid to consult on D&D and other people didn't like that.  Boo freaking whoo.  Someone is always going to get paid for something. Sometimes people you like will pay people you don't like for something you do like.  That's not unfair. That's life.    Again if there was a message here it was lost on all sides being so nasty to each other that I wanted to divorce myself from the lot of them.

3. War on Cosplay.  No one has come out and said this specifically but there was a lot of anti-cosplay sentiment in 2014.  Old comic book professionals telling cosplayers to get off their lawn, to actual assaults and claims of being "fake" (what ever the fuck THAT is?).   Here is my take.  Cosplayers spend 100s of hours and sometimes 100s of dollars on making a costume. How does that make them fake or not a real fan?


I don't want to end on a sour note, so here is something to ponder.
What are YOU looking forward to the most for 2015?  Let me know here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyus Solstice, Happy Festivus and Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Whoa. Didn't see that one coming...

I just just over a bout of the stomach flu (on the plus side I lost 11 pounds) only to get hit with a one two punch of a bad cold on top of asthma.  

Needless to say I have not really done a lot, any "free" time has been spent working on the magic items for Strange Brew.

Normally this time of year I start working on my "Best of" and "Worst of" lists.  But I only have a couple things in mind.

So let me turn it over to you all.

What were your "Best of's" for 2014?  What were your "Worst of's"

I will have a post up later this week with mine.  Currently I only have one of each, but that is a enough to talk about.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Zatannurday: March Movie Covers

The March covers for DC are out now.

Here is the Beetlejuice inspired one for Justice League Dark.
I rather like it.

Makes me wish that we could get some Plastic Man in the comics for some levity every so often.
Aquaman with a shark on his leg was a nice Easter Egg too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gamer Christmas 2014

Soon the fat man in the red suit will come to you house, eat your cookies and maybe leave something behind.  I am not talking about your weird uncle, I mean Santa Claus!

So what RPG item are you all hoping to get this year?

I am somewhat at a loss myself.  I really got into the new D&D 5 system this year, so I am just hoping to get some gaming in.  But nothing really on my Christmas list.

I did pick up an early Christmas/late Halloween present for myself, the old WEG d6 DC Universe Game.

My family are all bigger fans of DC than Marvel so this should be fun to try out.  My youngest wants to play an Arrow-like character (not "Green Arrow" but something closer to the Stephen Amell version).  I am going to suggest something like a DC-TVU version of Connor Hawke.
My oldest want to play a Green or Blue Lantern.

This is my first big dip into d6.  I had Ghostbusters and the Xena game, but I am planning on doing a bit more with this.

I am still a HUGE fan of the Green Ronin's DC Adventures game, so I am going to use their Universe book along with it.

Hopefully I will have more to say in the New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: A Red & Pleasant Land

Notice: I am not taking down this post because I feel it is more important to leave it up, but also update everyone on what is happeing now as February 11, 2019. Please see this newer post first.

I picked up a copy of +Zak Smith's "A Red & Pleasant Land" on PDF recently.  I like enough to also pick it up in dead tree version as a post-Christmas present for myself (35.75€ or about $45).

I want to say off the bat that when I heard Zak was doing an Alice in Wonderland-ish sort of adventure my expectations were high, but guarded.  I have seen Alice done a number of bad ways; mostly ones that relied on a one to one translation between story to game.  That is all well and good, but ends up robbing the story of what makes it good and ends up short-changing the player's experience in the game.  To be blunt, it's not a D&D adventure.  I had reasonable assurances that this would not happen here, I didn't know what sort of thing we would end up with.

Also, and I have admitted this many times, I am not a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  But I can say that LotFP and James Raggi do have an amazing art vision and the budget to match and it seems (to me any way) that James leaves people the hell alone and lets them create.  You saw that in Zak's last work Vornheim, you can see it Rafel Chandler's "No Salvation for Witches", and you can see it this book as well.  While the LotFP rules are in mind when this was made, you can either run it with all the free rules that James gives away for free (another credit to him) or use whatever rules you want.  This is important to me and I will talk about it more later on.

So what *is* A Red & Pleasant Land?
Overtly it is an adventure, in the broadest sense.  It can also be a campaign guide to a strange new land (or world).  Breaking it down to it's atomic elements it is Vampiric court intrigue with the cast of Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory and Alice.  But that is like saying that putting salt on your meal is the same as putting Sodium and Chloride on your steak and trying to eat it.

Let me instead start on the outside and work my way in.  This book is gorgeous. It really is.  If you have Vornheim or spent anytime on Zak's blog then you have an idea of what you will be looking at, but that is not quite it either.  The art comes just this side of reality short of being phantasmagorical. Just slightly out of sync with what you should be seeing.  This is intentional since that is also the feeling of the adventure/text itself.  (I am going to keep calling this an adventure since that is the easiest translation).  Honestly, get this bound in red with gold trim and it would be a book better suited for a coffee table rather than a gaming table.  I don't mean that derisively, I mean that in open honesty.
If the art is fantastic then the maps are amazing. I love all sorts of old-school maps and I love a lot of different styles. But these again are very evocative of the setting.

 The other thing is this adventure is big.  While the form factor is small, the book has 197 pages.  There is a lot here.  Zak  suggests that you can use parts of this book or the whole. I will add that if you opt for the parts alternative then there is absolutely something in this book you can use.

Working in, the adventure and background are all woven together in such a way that it is all familiar and yet new at the same time.  It's like returning to a place you have been years and years later. Except when you were at the place back then you were on LSD the entire time. You memories of it have not faded per se but are warped.  This is like that but now your memories are perfect and the reality is warped.

This actually touches on the first issue I have with running this adventure. Now by "I" I mean just that. Me. Not extrapolating it to anywhere else.  I don't think I could run this as a D&D adventure for my group.  To be blunt about it my kids (which is my group) don't yet know enough about Dracula, Alice or any of the other elements in this to make it worthwhile.   This is an adventure for older, wiser and maybe even a little bit jaded players.  This adventure needs to be played by people that have tried to play Dungeonland and found it lacking.

You are going to need the right group for this adventure. The book it totally worth getting just to look at, read or steal ideas from, but if you are going to run it then you need to take stock of your own group and make sure it works for them.  If your group is more of the "kick in the door, kill the monster, get the gold, move to next door" type then this will only have some utility for you.  That is fine there are plenty of fun adventures for those groups.   I suppose that if you have read "A Midsummer's Night Dream" and thought to yourself that it would make a great adventure of intrigue then this one might work for you.   As point of reference, duels are covered as being something that can be deadly. And so are Banquets.  Again some people will scratch their heads on this but I can think of at least three players off the top of my head right now that would totally run with this idea.
It is a prime example of Zak making things he wants to play and if you like it you can come along too.

Back on track.  The Alice.  This is a neat idea, but for me one of the weaker links. I totally get what Zak is doing here and maybe even a little of why. But Alice comes off as an ersatz, but weaker, Slayer, ala Buffy or maybe even the Schmuck quality from Army of Darkness. Though to be 100% this quote from the book is very awesome:
"Alices forever find themselves falling into cursed rabbit holes, accidentally killing witches, having their halfbrothers stolen by goblin kings, being willed magic rings, finding demons inserted in their chests or having armored knights ride through their homes at bedtime. Obscure gods, however, sympathize with them (they are often born to powerful families), and an Alice is a boon to any adventuring party. Some Alices wear striped stockings, some Alistairs wear pointed shoes."  - AR&PL, p. 30.
I love that image. In my games I have called these types of characters Dorothies.  The Exasperation Table really makes this character shine and makes it something unique.

The land itself, Voivodja, is in the truest sense of the word a nightmarescape.  It's not that it is just horrific, there is more. The best nightmares lull you into a false sense of hope or familiarity. You think you know what this is all about, but you don't.  The land is big, densely packed and old. Very old.  The main feature (well, to me anyway) is the intrigue between the Vampire Courts and the potential of what you can do with those.  Think about it really. Ancient, decedent vampire royalty fighting protracted war.  Sure. We did all that in the 90s with Vampire the Masquerade; but this is yet another new take on that.

The monster/NPC section is great. So many ideas.  If you are going to smorgasbord this book then start here.  There are unique vampire nobles and strange animals, so really enough to keep characters of any level busy. That's misleading...I personally think the vampire nobles in this book work better as non-combatants.  Their job is not to be sullied with the likes of mere adventurers.  But engaging them in courtly battles. That's where they shine.  Really, this is one of the first adventures where a battle of wits to the death (!) is not only likely, but likely to happen before breakfast.

We end this book with more random tables that you could (or should maybe) ever use.  30 pages worth.

So there are a lot of reasons to buy this book.  The only one that matters though is do you have the right kind of group for it? If any of these ideas appeal to you then get it. If you are unsure, well I am sure there is something here to make it worth your time and money.

Personally I want to give it a go under Ghosts of Albion.

In any case I think it is a solid hit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #22 January 1977

There is no page 13
1977 was a big year. It started out really cold but it also gave us two of the biggest genre movies and two of the biggest directors to ever be tangentially associated with RPG and D&D in particular.  Steven Spielberg with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and George Lucas with Star Wars.

Owl & Weasel though starts off 1977 with what must have been the two favorite topics of conversation around the GW editorial room; topless women and baseball.  Now to be fair it was the late 70s. Look at other magazine covers at the time and this is hardly risque.

This issue though is solidly a "D&D" issue.

The editorial mentions this new focus. There are fewer total articles, but the ones they do have are long.

Don Turnbull is up first.  A name that will be very associated with White Dwarf soon presents the first version of what will become the Monstermark rating system of D&D monsters.
The math is very interesting and very representative of what was popular at the time; lots of calculations to arrive at an esoteric number.  Granted, this is not much different than how we use CR today.  In fact CR is pretty much the spiritual successor to the "Monster Level" as presented here. Though I do suppose that the Monster Level/Monstermark tells you how many 1st level fighters a monster can kill before being killed himself.  Other metrics can be used, but this one was one of the first and it deserves attention for that alone.  Heck this article was one of the reason I sought out Owl & Weasel in the first place after hearing about it in the early pages of White Dwarf.
The article gets a respectable 3 pages of print.

On page 6 there is some coverage of Computer Games.  While these are basic in nature (and maybe even BASIC in coding) they are a few of the classics from the time. Moon Landing (spent hours on this one myself), Wumpus ("I smell a wumpus!") and Hammurabi.  Also, interestingly enough, I was introduced to all of these games by people I was playing D&D with at the time.  Only one page for these.

Page seven covers a review of North Sea Oil, an oil baron simulation game played in 8 turns. Professionally I remember putting together something similar for a macro-economics course some years back. It was fun and I why games like this are popular.

The D&D Society gets two and half pages of text. The other half is dedicated to overflow articles.
The D&D Society is still less "organized play" and more "hey I am a DM, come join my game!".  But it is growing and growing to the point where soon it will be too big for Ian and Steve to handle on their own.

The highlight of this issue is the introduction of the Monstermark/Monster Level system.  It would be worthy to look into this deeper and develop something that would have more present day utility, but we have that now in CR.  Anything outside of that would be a purely academic exercise. While I am happy to do that, it isn't quite enough to make want to take that extra half-step to do it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adventures that Never Were

Found an old(er) post yesterday on the blog Save Vs. Dragon. "Classic" modules based on some classic rock songs.

Frankly these look so awesome that I would LOVE to build a campaign around them.
Here are a few of my favorites,

I mean seriously how cool would this be?  This hits all my buttons, classic rock, classic AD&D, weird concept albums...In fact I already have an adventure called "Children of the Sun" and have named many of my Cine Unisystem/Buffy adventures after songs; so this is perfect for me.

Now just need to come up with adventures for these!  Might have to listen to a lot of Yes.

DC Cancels Batwoman

DC is pulling the plug on the Batwoman comic with issue #40 being the last.

It is sad but not really a surprise.  Sales, and frankly the creativity, of the series has been lagging since J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman left title in an editorial scuffle over Kate and Maggie's relationship.

Batwoman was one of the best looking comics around, great art and style from J. H. Williams III who had a very clear vision of who and what Kate Kane/Batwoman was.

As I have mentioned in the past, Batwoman was more than a distaff Batman.  She had her own mission, her own goals and especially her own demons to deal with.

I, like many, stopped buying the comic after Williams and Blackman left.  It is disappointing, but not a surprise.  Though I guess Greg Rucka is coming back to DC, so there is some hope for her future.

Well. I guess that is what RPGs are for really. To continue telling the stories of the characters we like.

More information:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Skylla: D&D 5th Edition

Time to revist one of D&D's iconic witches, Skylla.  Since I began this series I have had a few people email with interesting little tidbits of information. Such as how she was supposed to have a larger figure produced (like the likes of Warduke and Kelek).  Most interesting though was how she was supposed to appear in the D&D cartoon.

She appears as an old hag but that is only an illusion to cover her true features; that of a beautiful woman.  Interesting switch there, but she certainly sounds like a witch to me.
It seems even more fitting that I try her out under the latest version of the D&D rules.

I always knew I wanted to try her out under the 5th edition rules and I wanted to wait till I had a better grasp of those rules.

Well now I do; give or take, and I wanted to see how she stacks up.  But 5th edition gives me an interesting choice.  Do I stat her up as a Wizard or as a Warlock?  Both have their advantages.

The Wizard of course is closer to the source stats of Skylla.  The Warlock is really closer to the concept.  I suppose in truth she would have started out as a wizard and her desire for more power lead her on a path towards becoming a warlock.   I investigated both and it was educational.

In both cases I started with her same base stats and made her level 7.  In each case her primary stat was 16 (Int vs. Cha) and reversed for the 11 (Cha vs. Int). Though I mix up Wisdom a bit in there as well.

Skylla's Background

For her Background I chose "Sage" since that deals with finding knowledge. For Skylla knowledge is power.  She was a former Wizard's Apprentice (Ringlerun) now turned to chaos and evil.
Personality Traits: "I am convinced that people are trying to steal my secrets."
Ideals: "Power. Knowledge is the path to power and domination."
Bounds: "I sold my soul for Knowledge."   (seems perfect)
Flaws: "Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization."

7th Level Wizard, Female, Chaotic Evil

Strength: 9 (-1) [-1]
Dexterity: 11 (0) [0]
Constitution: 10 (0) [0]
Intelligence: 16 (+3) [+6]
Wisdom: 12 (+1) [+4]
Charisma: 11 (0) [0]

Proficiency Bonus: 3
AC: 12 (Cloak of Protection, +2)
Hit Points: 34 (d6)

Acrobatics 0, Animal Handling +1, *Arcana +6, Athletics -1, Deception 0, *History +6, *Insight +4, Intimidation 0, *Investigation +6, Medicine +1, Nature +3, Perception +1, Performance 0, Persuasion 0, Religion +3, Slight of Hand 0, Stealth 0, Survival +1
Common, Elven, Draconic, Abyssal

School of Enchantment

Cantrips: Light, Mage Hand, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost
1st: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Tenser's Floating Disk
2nd: Knock, Invisible, Levitate
3rd: Hold Person (2nd level spell), Fear, Lightning Bolt
4th: Dimension Door

7th Level Warlock, Female, Chaotic Evil

Strength: 9 (-1) [-1]
Dexterity: 11 (0) [0]
Constitution: 10 (0) [0]
Intelligence: 12 (+1) [+1]
Wisdom: 11 (0) [+3]
Charisma: 16 (+3) [+6]

Proficiency Bonus: 3
AC: 12 (Cloak of Protection, +2)
Hit Points: 38 (d8)

Acrobatics 0, Animal Handling 0, *Arcana +4, Athletics -1, Deception +3, *History +4, Insight 0, *Intimidation +6, *Investigation +4, Medicine 0, Nature +1, Perception 0, Performance +3, Persuasion +3, Religion +1, Slight of Hand 0, Stealth 0, Survival 0
Common, Elven, Draconic, Abyssal

Pact of the Tome
Patron: The Fiend

Book of Ancient Secrets
Armor of Shadows
Agonizing Blast
Mask of Many Faces

Pact Powers
Dark One's Own Blessing
Dark One's Own Luck

Cantrips: Chill Touch, Mage Hand, Eldritch Blast, +Light, +Poison Spray, +Ray of Frost
1st: Burning Hands, Command, Comprehend Languages (Ritual), Detect Magic (Ritual)
2nd: Blindness/Deafness, Scorching Ray
3rd: Fireball, Stinking Cloud
4th: Fire Shield, Wall of Fire

So, I like how the Warlock version plays out in terms various powers and role-playing elements.  In particular I really like her pact.  The wizard though has spells closer to the base version of Skylla.  Also since the wizard's primary stat is Int, her skills are better overall as a wizard.
The Pact of the Tome sorta fixes some of this, she can take some wizard spells as a ritual.

I want to try out a few more warlocks with different pacts to see how they play.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Comment Moderation?

It seems that Google wants me to turn on comment moderation.  I have tried to turn it off since I am not a fan of moderation.

Still figuring it out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pulling Games

So unless you have not caught up on your reading yet this week (I haven't really myself) then you might not know that OneBookShelf, the owners of DriveThruRPG and RPGNow have opted to pull a title by +James Desborough from their virtual shelves.

Here are the links of what people are saying today.
And James' first post on this:

TL;DR. OBS pulled James "Grim" Desborough's latest game, a card game based on "Gamer Gate".

You can see OBS' comments here:

I don't want to spend a lot of time on this. But here it goes.

1. I support OBS' stand on their right to pull any game they choose.  It's their store. They can choose what they want to sell or not.

2. I support Grim in making and selling any game he wants.  I do not agree with his stance on Gamer Gate, but I also feel the guy is often accused to saying and doing things he actually never said.  He says on his own blog, posts and everywhere else that if we have a question just ask him.  Turns out that works great.  I do think it sucks that his game was tossed out pretty much sight-unseen.

So my issue is not really with OBS or James.

My issue is with the publisher that forced OBS to make a decision.  They used their own market power as a bullying tactic to get a game they, or rather one person in particular, did not like.   It was a dick move.

This is not the first time this particular publisher has pulled some rather dickish stunts.  In fact it is the third I have heard of in the last year.

I am not getting into details. I have no desire to challenge this publisher and no power whatsoever to have them address their own bad behavior.   All I can do is not play or promote their games here.

If you want to buy the Gamer Gate card game, then please head over to Postmortem Studios   I have no interest in it myself, but maybe I'll buy something to show support.   Machinations of the Space Princess is a good choice.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hero Forge: Meet Roryn, Xothia of the Rock

Next week is the premier of the last Hobbit movie.
When the first movie premiered I posted the Dwarven Witch,  the Xothia.

Well thanks to the magic that is Hero Forge I can now see Roryn come to sorta.

She is complete with seer stone and laybrs.

I also did some of my iconic witch Larina.  I opted for the hat over her normal hood because, well I love pointy hats.  I might try one with her with a hood.

And her daughter and apprentice Taryn,

I am having way too much with this!

The best thing is making characters I might never have been able to get before.
Such as Justice,

It's not a perfect representation, but it is really, really close and I really like it.   I kind of dig the armor look vs. the tunic.  The pose and blindfold make it perfect.

I will post some pictures when my backer figure comes in.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #21 December 1976

Lets got back 38 years to see what was hot in gaming!
Ok let's look at issue 21 of Owl & Weasel.  First off the zine is looking more and more like the White Dwarf it will become.
The Editorial covers both Games Day (February) and also now a D&D Day (March). A couple of typos are dealt with.

Page 3 covers two new games from "The Little Soldier" in Maryland.  The first is Ringbearer. This is the same company that gave us the Book of Monsters, Book of Demons, and the Book of Sorcery that were later re-released by Gamescience (which you can still find at Gen Con).  OF course there is no record of this particular game any more thanks to lawyers at United Artists (who had the Tolkien rights at the time). Basically this little game was a re-enactment of the plot of LotR.  The game sounds a bit like many of the mini-games of the time; one player (The Dark Lord) vs a group of other players.  The next is "Der Fuhrer" a little "political" war game set in World War II.  It sounds interesting in the sense that the battles are more propaganda and street teams than bullets and bombs.

Page 4 covers some news including a bit about GW being featured in the Times.
The growing D&D Society gets a full page treatment later on.  Well, most of a full page. One thing is obvious from the letters is that D&D is growing, rules are being questioned and O&W is more than happy to oblige.

The last page covers all what GW has to sell (as usual).

The articles tend to be much longer in this issue but the downside to that is the zine is still at 12 pages, so fewer articles.

Given this is the last Christmas issue and Christmas is on the way here too, here is Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody. The song is from '74, but this looks like it is later 70s, maybe 76 or 77.
I am sure they got really tired of having to lip-synch to this every year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Spells: Blessings of The Morrígan

Couple new spells I have been playing around with.  I was inspired by reading the overviews of the Artesia comic that Trey is doing over at From the Sorcerer's Skull.  I picked up the first couple of comics and they are good.  They certainly remind me a lot of Celtic myth, but there is more to it than that.   It got me thinking about this article saying that if there were a zombie apocalypse we would not have to worry because nature would wipe out all the zombies.  In particular birds would eat them.

So what is an a party to do then when a group of zombies, who are immune it seems from the fauna of your world, show up and ooops, they don't have a cleric to turn them?  Simple. They make sure their witches and druids have these spells.

Still playing with the damage.  I wanted them to be right around "fireball" strength, but given the higher level and the fact they only effect undead I was fine with the extra 1d12.  Let me know what you think.  Also I am releasing it as "open" under the OGL.  So take it and use it how and where you like including publishing your own stuff.

All material below this point is Open for terms of the OGL.
Section 15: "Blessings of The Morrígan" Copyright 2014 Timothy S. Brannan

Blessings of The Morrígan

Clerics are granted blessings from their deities in dealing with the undead.  Nearly all gods want the dead (whom they are caretakers of) to be at rest. A soul roaming free after death cannot be claimed by any god.  So clerics can turn or destroy undead creatures as their own gods wish.
Other followers of gods and of divine or arcane principles, such as druids and witches, lack this innate power.  Some have learned magic though to mimic it.

Blessings of The Morrígan
Level: Druid 4, Witch 4
Range: Corporeal Undead within sight
Duration: Instantaneous
By the means of this spell the druid or witch sends out a plea to The Morrígan, the great Battle Mother, Crow of War.  Instantly several murders of crows fly out from a spot just above the caster toward  any corporeal (ie Physical) undead the caster can see.  The crows bite and pick at the undead till 1d12 + 1d6 per caster's level is done in total damage.  Damage is divided up among all the undead creatures with weakest getting damaged first. Any creature reduced to 0 HP is dead and stripped clean of all flesh it had renaming.  In the case of skeletons they simply die. Creatures not damaged will be held for 1 extra round while the crows fly about.
This spell will effect skeletons, zombies, ghouls, ghasts, wights, mummies, vampires and liches.  The crows are considered magical.  It has no effect of ghostly or ghost like undead.
This spell has no damaging effects on living creatures, though for the round the spell is cast they are temporarily held (as per a Hold Person spell) and blinded (as per a Light or Darkness spell). Both of these conditions are removed at the end of the current combat round.
Material Components: A feather of a crow found feasting on a corpse after a battle. Only one feather may be used per crow.  The feather disappears after this spell is cast.

Blessings of The Morrígan, Greater
Level: Druid 6, Witch 6
Range: Incorporeal Undead within sight
Duration: Instantaneous
This spell is identical to the 4th level Blessings of The Morrígan spell, save this one will affect Incorporeal undead.  The crows will appears as ghostly crows and only partially in our own reality.
This spell will effect wraiths, spectres, banshees, ghosts, shadows and other ghost like undead.  It has no effect on corporeal or physical undead unless that undead creature also has become incopreal, such as a lich in the Ethereal plane or a vampire that has become incorporeal.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I Don't Like Mondays.

Been really sick over the last week.  I have a lot of work to do at work (day job) and then finishing up my obligations to various editors on various projects.

So here is a musical interlude.

This song is much darker than I recalled.

Though somehow it also seems appropriate for the last few weeks.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Zatannurday: Updates

Lots going on these couple of weeks.

February will be Harley Quinn month at DC Comics.  Here is the Harley inspired cover for Justice League Dark from none other than  Joe Quinones.

In movie news we have two items.

First off the draft of Justice League Dark was turned in.

And, although it's not DC, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as Doctor Strange.

Looking forward to both of these.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Witch's Catalog

I got hit with a bad bout of flu this week. Well Thursday it got worse. So I have been asleep for about 34 of the last 48 hours.  I should be asleep now but I only woke up a few hours ago.

Anyway I saw something today to took me back to my youth.

When I was young, say 6 or maybe 7, I got a book from the Scholastic book club that I loved.

Norman Bridwell's The Witch's Catalog.

Uf you have never seen the the book there are some excerpts of it here and here.
Basically it was a catalog of all sorts of magical things you could get such as shrinking powder, dragons, invisibility suits and a witch's "Weather Balloon" that could change the weather underneath the balloon.

I can't say for certain if anything from this later ended up in a game of mine, but in my pre-D&D days this was the book for me. I do recall reading about "if you are not lucky enough to have a witch living near you".  I remember thinking how cool that would be.  I was 6.

Any way special thanks go out Dr. Theda's Crypt and YargCade Blog for turning up this wonderful childhood memory.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sleepy Hollow & Katrina Crane

Yesterday I talked a lot about Colonial Gothic and their Sleepy Hollow book. It was a lot of fun but it reminded me that it was not the only Sleepy Hollow book I own.

Last year for Halloween, Barrel Rider Games published their own Sleepy Hollow book.
It also includes the full text of the story.  But like all (or rather now most) of Barrel Rider Games' books this one is for Labyrinth Lord.

The book is 30 pages and contains the complete tale of the Headless Horseman.
Also included are writeups for Ichabod Crane, Katrina, Brom Bones and of course the Headless Horseman.  A new class is introduced, the Scholar (for Ichabod). Rules for flint-lock firearms and some new magic are thrown in for good measure. There are also five adventure hooks for adventures in Sleepy Hollow.
It's all a pretty good deal really.

For just under $3 total you should get both books and have a both characters and maps.

Though neither have much to do with the TV series "Sleepy Hollow" save that all have the same source material.

One of my favorite characters from the show is quite naturally Katrina Crane (nee Van Tassel).  She is a powerful witch sworn to protect the world from evil.  Sounds pretty awesome if you ask me.

Katrina Crane
8th Level Witch Family Tradition
From The Witch

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 17

Death Ray or Poison: 11
Magic Wands: 12
Paralysis: 11
Dragon Breath: 14
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 13

To Hit AC 0: 18 / 17 (missile)

Hit Points: 22
Alignment: Lawful
AC: 9

Occult Powers
Familiar: Family Spirit
7th level:  Favored Enemy (Demons)

Cantrips: Alarm Ward, Animate Tool, Dancing Lights, Object Reading, Spark
First: Light, Magic Circle Against Evil, Consecration Ritual (Ritual)
Second: Augury,Guard Watch, Mind Obscure, Rite of Remote Seeing
Third: Astral Sense, Scry
Fourth: Analyze Magic, Ethereal Projection

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #20 November 1976

Headed back to November 1976 for today's Owl & Weasel.  Again we are seeing another step up in terms of improvements to layout.  This is looking more and more like a magazine rather than a zine rolled out on mimeograph by a couple of guys.  It still is exactly that; a zine by a couple of guys, but it is getting better looking.  Also there is a jump in price from 15p to 20p.  Inflation is blamed, but honestly it doesn't seem like that much of a jump.

The editorial talks about the price change and teases that TSR is working on a new SciFi game called Metamorphosis Alpha.

The Letters page deals with more D&D Society postings. An interesting letter from a reader who "just bought a calculator" converts 3-18 Int scores to IQ.  I can remember sitting in stats class one day doing something similar; converting 3d6 probabilities to z-scores. Course these days anyone can do that with even the cheapest of spreadsheets or even for free in Google Sheets. His numbers look solid if you forget that that Int is discrete varible and IQ is on a ratio scale.  Another letter on the next page is also a sign of the change.  The late asks O&W to get back to Orthodox Wargames and drop this "fantasy nonsense", blaming the editor's recent trip to America.  Ian replies stating that fantasy games are where all the new action is.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for your approval the first Edition War.  Or maybe the first case of Grogardism.

Later we get our cover story and a two page review of "White Bear & Red Moon" complete with nude female angel. Maybe she is supposed to be one of sylphs. Either way something that was common then that you no longer see. The game blends war games and fantasy to an interesting degree.  It takes place on the world of Glorantha, which in time would give us RuneQuest. This is the game that was used to launch Chaosium.  The longer review is notable given the amount of future ink White Dwarf would devote to RuneQuest.

Another section people write in and talk about their D&D games.
Next page has a section of Zine reviews.  Of note is The Dungeoneer, one of my old favorites.  Still looking to complete my collection of those.   Next page over has an index of all the old Strategic Review articles.  Very interesting that a zine (O&W) would devote so much ink to their competitors, SW/The Dragon and The Dungeoneer.  But then again this was a very different time and sharing knowledge was more important.  You see this fall apart later in the 80s when White Dwarf will mention Dragon, but hardly acknowledge Imagine save for when it premiers and ends.  It mirrors the software industry at the time really.  Back then sharing code was important, but became more problematic when people (aka Bill Gates) started making money off of it.  This is not the first parallel between the RPG hobby and the Computer hobby and it is no where near the last.

finally we end with the Games Workshop items for sale section.

In retrospect this is a full RPG issue.  Even the board game White Bear & Red Moon will morph into one of the biggest RPG since D&D.  We have five more issues left before the change is made over to fully RPG content and new magazine format.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: Colonial Gothic

Last night was the Fall Finale of the TV show "Sleepy Hollow".  It is a fun show and has a great premise and lots of great monster. But the joy of the show is Tom Mison's fish-out-of-water Ichabod Crane and Nicole Baharie's no-nonsense cop Lt. Abbie Mills.  It is a great mix of action, horror, humor and cop procedural formulas.  There are also some great supporting roles from Katia Winter as witch Katrina Crane (nee Van Tassel), John Nobel as Harry Parish aka Jeremy Crane and Lyndie Greenwood as Jenny Mills, Abbie's sister.

Watching the show has got me psyched for my "Spirit of '76" game for Chill. It has also sent me back to an old favorite of mine, Colonial Gothic.

I was introduced to Colonial Gothic at Gen Con a few years back by the authors at Rogue Games.  They were easily the friendliest people I talked to that day and their enthusiasm for their game was infectious.  I know every game company loves their own games, but these guys were over the moon with Colonial Gothic.  I can totally understand why too.  It is, too my knowledge, a fairly unique time period to be gaming in.  Maybe I am reading too much into it since I am a fan of the time period, but it was still great to talk to them.

They have great web support for their games and a ton (ok, a little more than a dozen) of pdfs for sale.  Honestly it is a game I wish I played more of.  Which is a shame since +Richard Iorio II actually lives fairly close to me.

Colonial Gothic Rulebook 2nd Edition
The best thing about this book right out of the gate is it compatible with the older, and out of print, Colonial Gothic Rulebook.  So all the books I have from Gen Con are still good.
CG uses the same d12 based (I remember the guys at the Rogue Games booth going on with glee on how they used the often neglected d12!) system that you find in Shadow, Sword & Spell (I am not 100% sure, but both games look like they are completely compatible with each other).
The core book comes in at 282 pages, plus covers. The second thing I noticed that this book is much better looking than the first core book. No slight against that book, but this one is a gem.  The first book had a nice hip "indie" feel about it. This book manages to pull off "indie" and "big time professional" between it's two covers.  I like that.
But what is Colonial Gothic? From the book:
Colonial Gothic is a supernatural historical roleplaying game inspired by the history and setting of the American colonial period, from the founding of Roanoke in 1568 to the end of the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Pretty cool if you ask me.  For me Colonial Gothic continues the story that Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade began and Ghosts of Albion continued to the industrial age; science and reason over superstition and magic in a world filled with horrors.  But CG is more than just that.  In this game the "Americans" are on new soil, but it is only new to them.  There are horrors native to this land and their are the horrors they brought with them.

The game mechanics are rather simple, which is a good thing, most often it is 2d12 +/- mods vs. a Target Number.  It is called the 12° System. Often the Target Number is your Ability + Skill and rolled under.  In other cases, such as an Ability test, you roll 1d12 and roll under the ability. Opposed Tests include things like combat. There are also Critical Success (double "1"s) and Critical Failures (double "12"s).  Also the degrees of success (or failure) are important.  In combat for example your degree of success is a multiplier to the damage.  So is you need a 15 and roll a modified 10 you have 5 degrees of success.  Simple.
Chapter One covers all the basic rules from Abilities and Skills, to combat, to movement and even common ailments (and uncommon ones) to fear and sanity.
Chapter Two is Character Creation.  You get 45 points to divide out to your abilities (7 is human average).  You can then choose a background ("class" for you class and level types; archetypes for everyone else) and then you get 45 points for your skills.  These point totals can also be shifted up or down depending on the nature of the game.  40 for more grit, 50 for more action-adventure types.
The new aspect is the choice of 5 character hooks.  These provide your character with more detail and background and help explain why your character is an adventurer and not just a common Joe or Jane.
Chapter Three goes into more detail about Skills and Hooks.
Chapter Four covers magic, the magical arts and common spells and Alchemy.  Magic has a price in CG and not everyone is cut out for it.  Witches presented here are mostly evil, but there is some wiggle room.
Chapter Five covers weapons, currency, equipment and trade. This is actually quite an important chapter since goods or the availability of them is not just part of the real Colonial history, but makes a great plot point.
Chapter Six is a guide to the Colonies. It is a nice mix of history, geography and the occult conceits of the game.  If you know some of the history of this time then you have an edge up, but there is a lot of great information here.  Obviously some liberties have been taken, but it is less alt-history than I feared.
Chapter Seven covers enemies and monsters. Both mundane and magical.  At this time even a mundane bear is a threat.
Chapter Eight covers advice for the game master and campaign ideas.

Colonial Gothic: The Player Companion
This is the newest book (as of this writing) to the Colonial Gothic line. Mostly though this is related to the cover.  As the title suggests this is a set of options for players of the Colonial Gothic game.
We get a list of new skills and some additions to old skills.  Normally I prefer it when a game reuses old skills in new ways, esp. point buy games where the budget per skill is not likely to change. After all Character A created with the Core has the same 45 points as Character B created with this book.  In this case though it works both thematically and systematically.
Chapter Two covers Advantages and Disadvantages. Characters are given 4 points to buy advantages and can also take disadvantages.  Works pretty much like other systems in that respect, save there are not pages and pages of them (like for example GURPS).   Most in fact are story related and can be used in conjunction with the character's Background.
Chapter Three covers family and social status.  A must have really for playing in this age.
Chapter Four has a bunch of character templates.  So if you want to play a Native Shaman or emulate your Assassin's Creed character then this is a great place to start.
Chapter Five details more combat options and how to use them.  Think of these as advanced combat skills.
Chapter Six has more magic including Counter-Spelling and more Common and Arcane Spells.
Chapter Seven has more equipment.
All in all worthy, but not really required additions to the game. It is one of the books that if you don't know about it, you won't miss it, but if you do then you will wonder how you got on with out it.
If there is a 3rd Edition of Colonial Gothic then a lot of these rules should be folded into the main core rules.

Colonial Gothic: Gazetteer
This book calls itself a Gazetteer, but "Campaign Sourcebook" might be more appropriate. Written for the 1st Edition of Colonial Gothic it works just fine under 2nd Edition.
Chapter 1 covers the history of the colonies from early English and Dutch colonization right on up to 1775.  Principle wars are discussed and colonial growth covered.
Chapters 2 through 14 cover the original 13 colonies in detail including basic demographics and major towns.  Points of interest are also featured in each chapter as well as anything out of the ordinary.
Chapter 15 is devoted to the Native American people.  An overview of their history and cultures is given, but by necessity it is short.  In truth an entire Colonial Gothic book could be done just on the various Native american tribes and nations.
Te last chapter is a ready to run adventure, "A Surprise for General Gage".
There are two Appendices. First a Glossary and then a Bibliography.  I want to take a moment to point out that all of the Colonial Gothic books always feature a very robust (for a game book) bibliography.   This one is no exception to that rule.  This one includes books, game books and even some online resources.  Certainly worth your time to investigate a few of these.

Colonial Gothic Bestiary
I have said it many times. You can never have too many monsters.  The Colonial Gothic Bestiary satisfies that craving and then some.  At 110 pages it is full of monsters and many are illustrated.  The artwork varies.  Personally I am a fan of the older wood cut images, but I know those are are difficult to find perfect representations of various beasts.  The monsters themselves are a varied lot; some local monsters like the Jersey Devil and some "from back home" like the Gargoyle and Gorgon.
I think this is a good mix, but I am more fond of the local fauna than something I can find in any book.  I do have one nitpick (ok maybe two), first there is no Piasa Bird.  A local legend from here in Illinois that I am surprised didn't make the cut. Supposedly the first mention of it is in 1673 (or the 1920s),  Sure Illinois is way away from the Colonies. Though it was a very nearly a full state (1818) by the end point of the game, The War of 1812.  The other was that the Chupacabra was included. The Chupa, for all it's fun, is squarely a 20th century invention.  But these are only nitpicks, not criticisms.  There are plenty of American Indian monsters too that could have been included. Some like a naaldlooshii would be good too (I know, Navajo and not near the Colonies...). Maybe A Bestiary 2 is in the works.
The indexes in back are quite useful since they also include creatures from the core rule books.
Lots of great creatures here and fully worth the price.

Colonial Gothic: The Grimoire
This is an expanded and updated version of the older Colonial Gothic: Witchcraft book and the Colonial Gothic: Secrets book. Both of which are out of print. It also has plenty of new material as well.
Chapter 1 covers new spells, Common and Arcane. The advantage of adding new spells to this game is one can easily say that the knowledge was just rediscovered.  Some new book sent from overseas, an old book in the collection of a wealthy man or any other contrivance.  There are quite a few new spells here to be honest.
Chapter 2 follows with a discussion on spell books. Their uses and how to get them. A few sample books are also included.
Chapter 3 introduces magical talismans to the game. Sort of Spell storing or keeping magical power. Not a lot here, but plenty of ideas.
Chapter 4 covers the related chapter of relics, items that have magical ability to them due to divine providence or some other happenstance.
Chapter 5 is dedicated to Witchcraft. Like the book it replaces, there are no rules for playing "good" witches.  Fitting with the times all witches are assumed to be evil.  Personally I would like to see a good witch, but I can make due.
Likewise Chapter 6 deals with occult items such as cold iron and holy water.
Finally Chapter 7 deals with new magical creatures.  There is quite a Lovecraftian feel to this one.  Not generic "Lovecraft" but actual monsters from his mythos.
There is an appendix with the Create Talisman and Witchcraft skills.
There is also a combined magical index of spells between this book and the Colonial Gothic core.

Colonial Gothic: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
This is a great little book to be honest.  The first half is the story of Sleepy Hollow and the second half is how to use it in your Colonial Gothic Game. The geography of Sleepy Hollow, the Hudson and the Tapan Zee are discussed as well as Sleepy Hollow's role in history.  It reads like a small campaign guide.
This book is not very big, nor does it cost very much, but it is certainly punching above it's weight class in terms of content.

Colonial Gothic True20 Version
The world of Colonial Gothic using the True20 system instead of it's normal house system. Typically when a product is converted to a "generic" system some of the style and feel is lost. Though I will say that CG survived with much more of it's soul intact. The system is normally a very easy one to learn so the conversion here does not sacrifice complexity. The game is still same, one of a supernatural New World as it becomes a new country, America.
The conversion does highlight many of the pluses of the game including it's atmosphere and style of play. It also allows you know to bring other True20 that might be helpful. In some ways I prefer this to the original, but the original is still very, very fun.

Colonia Gothic is really just a fun, great game. There is just so much potential here that I want to pull it out and just run a few games with it.

If you are into American History, Horror, or even just the thrill of exploring something that is both well known and completely unknown  then this is the game for you.