Friday, October 7, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Winter of the Witch

My search for my Winter Witch for War of the Witch Queens continues. Today's candidate comes in two flavors 4e and 5e. She gets a few extra bonuses as well.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

Dungeon #162 (4e) - Winter of the Witch

PDF. 111 pages, color covers and interior art.

I am not reviewing the entire issue of Dungeon here, though I will briefly talk about the other contents. Robert J. Schwalb has two adventures here. A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure and “Depths of Madness” from the Madness trilogy. Schwalb does great work and I am sure these are both top-notch. 

Winter of the Witch is by Stephen Radney-MacFarland with illustrations by Dave Allsop, Eric Deschamps, Izzy, William O'Connor, Wayne Reynolds, Amelia Stoner, Sam Wood, and cartography by Jason A. Engle, and Sean Macdonald. 

This adventure calls the characters back to Winterhaven to the Keep on the Shadowfell. The plot is similar to what we would later see with the Night King and Winterfell in Game of Thrones. (But this was published in 2009.) Koliada is marching south with her army of Undead and winter follows after her. This could easily be tied in with the HPE series of adventures from 4e if you could find a way to slot them in. All the right elements are here it is a matter of working it out. OR it would make for a great epic-level adventure for some other D&DF 4 campaign. It is set for levels 21-30.

Personally, the adventure is fine, but the true star here is Koliada the Winter Witch. She is so much fun that I have used her in BECMI D&D and made my own D&D 5 stats for her. I also thought she might make a great Dark Lord if part of Pathfinder's Irrisen got sucked into Ravenloft as Ikkesen.  She is a standout character and one I love to keep coming back to.  The fantastic Wayne Reynolds art doesn't hurt either.

The adventure is a tight 34 pages.

Winter of the Witch (5e)
Winter of the Witch (5e)

PDF. 32 pages. No art.

This conversion is from Michael "solomani" Mifsud making use of the WotC fan license to convert older products. This is a conversion of the Monsters (and just the monsters) from the Winter of the Witch adventure from Dungeon 162.

Monster stats are limited to one per page to make printing easy with the notable exceptions of our white dragon Kurikveaeri and Koliada herself.  His stats don't match mine save where we both drew from the original, but he has a some good ideas here to be sure.

The product doesn't not try to convert the whole adventure. It also doesn't claim to try to convert it all either, this is just the monsters.  For just under $2 that's not bad, but I would have liked some more. Still this is a lot of work and plenty to get me going.


For use in War of the Witch Queens

I can use this adventure largely as is, I would drop the Orcus involvement altogether. She is interesting enough on her own.

Why is Koliada invading now? Simple the High Witch Queen, whom even she feared, is now dead and she thinks there is no one to stop her. Even the PCs should have time trying to stop her to be honest. Regardless of how I use her, she is too interesting to NOT use.

Koliada, the Winter Witch

Thursday, October 6, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Devil's Possessed (1974)

Devil's Possessed (1974)
When is a Paul Naschy movie not a Paul Naschy movie?  When it is directed by León Klimovsky and it is 1974's the Devil's Possessed.

The movie is a semi-retelling of the story of Gilles de Rais with Naschy as Barón Gilles de Lancré.  His wife, Georgelle (Norma Sebre) is in cahoots with alchemist/charlatan Simon de Braqueville (Eduardo Calvo).  At first, de Lancré doesn't want to participate in the killing of virgins (I feel this one is going to come up a lot this month; save yourself from demonic sacrifice, have sex early and often).

Returning war hero and friend of the Baron, Gaston de Malebranche (Guillermo Bredeston) returns to town and quickly learns of de Lancré's crimes.  He joins up with a group of bandits to go after the Baron. 

At this point, I am halfway through the film and I have not seen many horrors or any of the other things I normally associate with a Naschy movie.  Hardly any blood, no nudity, and honestly very little in the terms of creep factor.   The movie is better classified as a horror adventure.  A good one (ok maybe not "good") to get some ideas on how to run a village attacking a vampire lord.  

The movie is from 74 but it feels older, like from the early 60s only not in bright technicolor despite what the poster claims.

In the end it just isn't very good.

Use for War of the Witch Queens

I think one of the things that gets lost in heroic fantasy is how much the thought of the Devil terrified the common folk. They were ignorant and filled with superstitions and living in a world that was designed to keep them that way. PCs hear "the Devil" and think "that's a whole lot of XP!" and not "our immortal souls are at risk!" 


This one is more a "Dark Age" setting, but Gilles de Rais is a perennial favorite among occultists today, so maybe this can be the history piece of a new tale.  Essentially the same thing but having the descendants repeating the actions of their ancestors. Sounds like a Giallo movie to me. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
Viewed: 6
First Time Views: 5

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Board Game: Wizards (1982)

Wizards (1982)
I was reorganizing my shelves trying to find some room for some new books when I found this little gem hiding in my lower shelves.  I totally forgot I had this!

Wizards (1982)

Wizards is described as "Avalon Hill's game of fantasy adventure."  It is easy to see why they would want to make this game too.

1982 was some prime years for Fantasy RPGs and D&D in particular. 

There are board game elements to this as well as plenty of RPG elements.  For example you can choose what sort of wizard character (Order) you will play; Wizard, Sorcerer, or Druid. Each also has four levels (Ranks).

The first part of the game is setting up all the locations of the various islands on the hex grid sea map.

After that the various wizards race around the map to collect various gems for the High Druid. There are seven, six are needed to win.

While this is going on there are various Event and Task cards that send your wizard on quests, trap them or other hazards. These add time it takes to complete your missions but they can also raise your Wizard rank and make you more powerful. 

From the rule book. Here is what is needed to play and win.

  1. Join a Magical Order. Without that, you may not accept any Tasks or gain points of any kind.
  2. Acquire Tasks and complete them for points of Knowledge, Power and/or Perception.
  3. Fight the Evil Powers that take over the islands, making them inaccessible.
  4. Advance to Rank 4 in your Order. 
  5. When you are at Rank 4, collect all 6 Gems from the High Wizards.
  6. When you have the Gems, pass them to the High Druid Rüktal in the Center of the Sacred Circle to win the game.

The game uses two six-sided dice.  

Wizards (1982)

Hex map of the sea

Wizards 1982

Wizards 1982

Wizards 1982

Wizards 1982

Wizards 1982 Wizard Sheet

Wizards 1982 Play area

Wizards 1982

Wizards (contents)Wizards (contents)

I love the *idea* of this game, but while I enjoyed the set up I could not get anyone to play it here.  My wife does not care for board games with RPG elements and my kids would rather play D&D.

I am adopting some ideas from this game though for my own games, most notably the War of the Witch Queens, but certainly others as well.

Traveller Envy and the Avalon Isles

I have talked a bit about my Traveller Envy here in the past. To finally overcome this I am taking all the various board games I am going to cover this month and create a new area of my world; the Isles of Avalon. The origins here should be pretty obvious, I am going to base a lot of the mythology of the lands on England, Ireland, and the various islands around them. Also, I am drawing heavily from the Avalon Hill games, so much so that the currently unnamed main island has a place called Avalon Hill. It will be my world's Glastonbury Tor.  There is a volcano on one of the islands (this will be an archipelago) where a famous Warlock lives.  With a volcano I can also get representations of all the elements; Earth, Water, Air and Fire.

There will be a smaller island nearby that I am calling the Island of the Necromancers.

I will spend this month detailing this place further.

If I get nothing else out of these board games then I think I will be fine.

100 Days of Halloween: The Witchwar Legacy

The Witchwar Legacy
Switching worlds, editions, and even systems now.  

This adventure was released in 2010 and is a prelude to their Reign of Winter adventure path released in 2013.

I am not entirely sure to be honest, but I think this is the adventure that prompted Paizo to make the Reign of Winter adventure path. 

The Witchwar Legacy

PDF and Print 32 pages. Color covers and interior art.

This adventure is for characters level 17 and essentially is a MacGuffin hunt for the Torc of Kostchtchie. The characters can choose to aid Elvanna, the Witch Queen of Irrisen gain the Torc or the demon-lord Kostchtchie. 

It is a short adventure, essentially a single location with a lot of monsters and NPCs.

It is a quick one, to be honest for such a high-level adventure. If it wasn't so high level it would be a great introduction to the Reign of Winter series. 

I feel like it could be run in the afternoon, but I also think I would like to adjust the threats to make it a little lower level. I would also tweak it a bit to fit the Reign of Winter series. 

My Snow/Ice/Winter Witch?

Elvanna is fantastic, but she never shows up here. She is a good witch...well an evil witch, but she is great at that. The Reign of Winter also features Elvanna but in a different sort of role and she dies in the end...or at least could die. Plus she is so wrapped up in everything I would have to change the Reign of Winter to work for War of the Witch Queens.

Still, she is rather great and I really want to use her. BUT I am also covering the "Reign of Winter" campaign in a couple of days and that, well, changes things. Tune back in for that.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Enter the Devil (1974)

Enter the Devil (1974)
1974 is a sweet spot for cheesy Italian Giallo horror. I don't think I have seen them all, but I have seen a lot.  

This one is also known as "L'ossessa" and "The Eerie Midnight Horror Show" (complete with Rocky Horror-style lips) it revolves around a religious statue of crucified Jesus purchased by Danila (Stella Carnacina). Luisa (Lucretia Love) It is obvious from the start that the "statue" is an actor (Ivan Rassimov) in heavy makeup but that is fine.

It is 1974, so the Exorcist is on EVERY Horror filmmaker's mind and this movie is no exception. 

Danila is some sort of art expert so she is working with the statue.  But while at a party she watches her mother,  in some sort of S&M affair with a younger man she leaves to go back to work. There she is all alone with the statue.  When he starts to move it is no surprise, but I wonder what the audiences in 1974 thought?  Likely they saw the same things we do now.   Eventually, the statue transforms into a human and in one stroke rips off ALL of Danila's clothes (neat trick that) they have very enthusiastic sex while the place burns...or not. It could all be in Danila's mind.  But she does keep experiencing things and no one believes her.   

Naturally, she is possessed and tries to seduce her own father. They bring over a psychiatrist whose professional opinion is that she is unduly affected by her work. They head out to the country ("Better than any medicine" according to the medical professional) but they get a flat and Danila wanders off into an "Etruscan temple to Baal" where she sees an ancient ceremony to Satan.  In mid-hallucination, she is back in her own bed again freaking out. When the doctor examines her she does have the stigmata wounds inflicted on her in her hallucination.

I give the movie credit, they try really hard to make this a serious movie about an exorcism.  They get a priest in and I can't help but notice her room is set up similar to Regan's in The Exorcist.

The later half is basically Danila going crazy and various priests trying to exorcise her and it sorta falls apart here. 

Still, a neat idea even if not executed as well as the filmmaker might have liked.

Use for War of the Witch Queens

I love the idea of the old statue coming to life and the "Etruscan temple to Baal" just screams Orcus to me for D&D use.


All I could think of while watching this one was I need to figure out a way to do a psychiatrist or psychologist in NIGHT SHIFT.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
Viewed: 5
First Time Views: 4

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

100 Days of Halloween: FIGHTING FANTASY - Caverns of the Snow Witch

Snow Witch
Last night I covered an adventure that mentions the Ice Queen, but no more details than a mention. This works fine for me since I have a plethora of choices. Here is the first one I considered, but not my only one.

FIGHTING FANTASY - Caverns of the Snow Witch

PDF and Print. 45 pages. Color covers, black & white interiors.

This adventure has a solid pedigree.  It is based on Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy books from 1984.  This adventure is for the d20 system / D&D 3.0 system published in 2003. So nearly 20 apart, here I am nearly 20 years after that reviewing it. 

This adventure covers the same plot and situations from the Fighting Fantasy "choose your own adventure" book.  

The adventure is designed for one character or a small group of adventures.  Reading through it does follow the same plot lines as the Fighting Fantasy book. 

This adventure also features the Luck saves from the original book. It has some changes to the d20 ruleset. There are a few new monsters (including a Yeti!), some new spells, campaign notes, and some new NPCs.

There are a lot of location-based adventures, essentially a collection of encounters the PCs jump from one to the next. The advantage here is that it is easy to convert from d20 to what I am planning to use it with, Old-School Adventures.  

The Snow Witch in this adventure is a sorcerer/vampire which works great for d20/3.0. For my adventures, I would make her a proper witch. 

The adventure is fine, but I think I might be viewing it through what my "Nostalgia Goggles."  Am I reading a good adventure or am I reading something because it was enjoyable to me in the 1980s?

I guess in the end it doesn't matter, as long as I am having fun with it. 

Is She My Snow/Ice Witch?

Well, I guess I should really ask do I just need one? I have a few more choices but this one has some serious old-school street cred. My other Snow/Ice/Winter witches though are a little more interesting.

Still, this is a fun adventure and one I am looking forward to using.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Sacrilege (2020)

Sacrilege (2020)
I was not expecting much with this one and that is pretty much what I got. 

Four old friends, Kayla, Blake, Stacey, and Trish, decide to have a girls' weekend together. They rent out an old cabin at the Mabon Inn while an ancient Pagan festival is also going on. During the ceremony, the girls write down their fears on paper and burn them.  While they proceed to partake in the drugs, drinking, and dancing, one of the parishioners, Mrs. March, warns the girls not to stay till the end and that they should leave now.

They return home and head to bed. Kayla begins to hear noises and sees a hallucination of "Tyler" (some dude from her past that is never really explained). Blake goes for a swim and sees a dog coming for her. Stacey, who is always taking selfies, sees herself getting old.  For Trish, it is insects and bugs.

Weird stuff starts to happen, but everything is just so slow. Even the sex scene is dull.

Our first victim, Stacey, gets it while seeing herself getting old again in a mirror. She slips on her own blood and impales herself in the head on a bit of garden equipment.  The others go looking for her, but the creepy gardener has already hidden her.

Turns out the girls were the sacrifice and the "Goddess Mabon" is killing them with their own fears. While Trish and Kayla are learning this from Mrs. March, Blake is being chased by dogs. Runs until she is impaled on the antlers mounted on the gardener's truck.  I sense a pattern here.

The two remaining girls try to call 999 but this splits them up and Trish starts hallucinating about bugs and Kayla about Tyler.  Trish ends up drinking some drain cleaner or bleach because she thinks there are bugs in her mouth.  Kayla tries to drive her the hospital, but the way is blocked by the pagans.

In what has to be known as Chekhov's Flare Gun Kayla uses the Flare gun from early in the movie to shoot the wooden effigy of "Mabon" and break the Pagans' hold on them. Reminds me of a Batman comic I had read back in 1988 or so, but can't recall which one it was. 

We end with Kayla and Trish professing their love for each other as Kayla tries to drive them to a hospital.

I like the elements of the old creepy Pagan cult still lingering in the untamed places in rural England. That is fun, but this movie doesn't offer much more than that.

Use for War of the Witch Queens

Plenty of good background for folk horror, which is why I watched this one. But as usual, the writers don't quite get things right with mythology. Or more to the point they get it all wrong enough to be irritating.


Pretty much any movie I watch this month is going to have uses in NIGHT SHIFT.  For this one, I would love to use the old creepy pagan cult that still lives on in the dark and quiet places of the world. Though the original Wicker Man might be a better model for this.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
Viewed: 4
First Time Views: 3

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022