Showing posts with label #100DaysOfHalloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #100DaysOfHalloween. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

100 Days of Halloween and October Movie Challenge, Visual Guides

Today has been a day of collecting pages of notes, half-jotted ideas, and plans. What are those plans? Oh so many, enough that I am calling 2023 The Year of the Monster now. More on that later.

But before I go forward, one last look back.  Here are some visual guides to both my 100 Days of Halloween and October Movie Challenge thanks to Pinterest.

100 Days of Halloween

Follow Timothy's board Witch Books on Pinterest.

October Movie Challenge

Follow Timothy's board October Horror Movie Challenge on Pinterest.

Wow I guess that puts me at nearly 460 Horror movies. I should pass 500 next year.  I should really an go back a rewatch ones I enjoyed and not on these lists for a full and proper record.  Something to consider.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween Hangover 2022

Witches Gather
Well, here we are at the end of another Halloween season. 

Let's look at some numbers.

I had a total of 85 posts for October. Not my highest, but certainly a lot.

I watched 48 horror movies, 37 of which were brand new to me. 

I pulled off my 100 Days of Halloween posting a review of a horror, witch or Halloween-flavored product every day since July 23rd.  I sometimes did multiple products in one day so in the end that was 126 products not counting all my Monstrous Mondays.

As fun as that was I am not likely to do that one again anytime soon.

November will be much lighter in posting as I try to wrap up some projects and gear up for a new one I want to do in 2023.

I hope your Halloween was wonderful! My was. Though now I have to take down all my Halloween decorations. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition

Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition
Double shot today for my LAST #100DaysOfHalloween. Wow. It was nice and sunny and I was sitting on my patio when I wrote my first post in this series. Now it is cold, rainy, and gray outside. But this is exactly where I want to be. And today I saved something very special for last.

Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition

I have been a fan of Witch: Fated Souls and Elizabeth Chaipraditkul for a while now. I even got her to the foreword for my own The Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry book. 

So for this Halloween day, I give you Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition, Quickstart, AND the Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition, Kickstarter.


PDF. 36 pages. Full-color cover and interior art. 

Design & Development: Elizabeth Chaipraditkul & Steffie de Vaan

This quick start covers the basic rules of Witch: Fated Souls Second Edition and includes a quick adventure to play.

Like the 1st Edition, Witch: FS2 deals with people (Witches or "The Fated") who sell their souls for power in the modern world. The different sorts of "demons" these characters sell their souls to will determine what sorts of power they will get and how they interact with the world, or their "Fates". 

Pausing for a second I can see already improvements in gameplay, readability, and layout of this Quickstart over the original Witch: FS1. 

Characters now have nine abilities, not eight, and are grouped by Mind, Body, and Spirit with three sub-attributes each. These are all explained and how they are used in the QS.  Checks are also explained. The new mechanics are based on Elizabeth Chaipraditkul and Steffie de Vaan's other game Afterlife: Wandering Souls. This opens up a whole level of play if you have both games. But I am going to wait on that one. 

We have a section on magic and knowing Witch: FS1 there is going to be a lot more in Witch: FS2.

There is even some detail on advancement. So really, as far as characters go you have enough here to keep you busy until the Second Edition Kickstarter is done.  

Demons are covered in their own section and they are the most interesting and likely complicated thing in this game. Complicated that is in how to run them and interact with their Fated. 

The last half of the quickstart covers the included sample adventure, "The Devil Made Me Do It."

There are included NPCs, similar to the ones that appear in Witch: FS1 and using the same art; which is great for returning players helping them get acclimated to the new system. It is recommended you use these characters to aid you in learning the game. 

The Fated

If the full product is anything like this Quickstart then we are in for a treat!


The Kickstarter for this game just launched today and it will likely be funded by the time you read this post.

You can read all the Kickstarter details on their campaign page, but for me, the proof is in the playing.  I liked Witch: Fated Souls First Edition, even if there were things I would have done differently (but hey, that is the nature of these things) and this new edition looks better.

There is an absolute ton to go along with this game and it looks fantastic. 

My Links to Witch: Fated Souls, First Edition

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, October 30, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Out of the Abyss

Sorry for the delay on this one. The perfect combination of a migraine and no internet all day conspired against me.

I have spent time with all the previous editions of D&D, let's do 5th today.  And for that, I think I want to spend some time with 2015's Rage of Demons adventure Out of the Abyss.

Out of the Abyss

Hardcover. 256 pages. Full-color cover and interior art.

This adventure was produced by Green Ronin and sold by Wizards of the Coast and is the third adventure made for D&D 5 if I recall right. I bought this one largely because I wanted 5e stats for demons and some places in the Abyss as this book has that.  I also was working on my Forgotten Realms campaign ideas, what would be come part of the Second Campagin

The adventure is an interesting one. For characters 1 to 15. You start in the Underdark and end fighting demon lords in the Abyss itself. That's the least interesting thing about the adventure. We get the aforementioned demon lords and a lot NPCs and a cool new feature of demons, madness. Not only are most demons a little (or a lot) insane and this insanity is contagious. 

We get some new monsters and some updated variants of older monsters.  For our demon lords we get Baphomet, Demogorgon, Fraz-Urb'luu, Graz'zt, Juiblex, Orcus, Yeenoghu, and Zuggtmoy. Interestingly enough, no Lolth. 

I found the adventure was a great introduction to the Underdark and to demons and, for me, a nice hook into the Forgotten Realms. 

I might run it someday, but I have cut it up (not literally) and used pieces of it in other places now so it would need to be with a new group.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: 4e Witches

Yesterday I took a look at the World of the Witch for 4E. Today I want to re-reflect on the official witch from 4e in Heroes of the Feywild. I also want to go over the Heroes of Shadow. While there are no witches in that volume they very well could have been.

Heroes of Shadow (4e)Heroes of the Feywild (4e)

Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow (4e)

PDF and Hardcover book. 160 pages. 

For this review, I am considering the hardcover version I purchased when new and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

The Shadowfell is now a feature of the D&D 4 landscape and many products have discussed it including many of the adventures and Monster Manuals. With the Player's Option book we get classes and races based on the shadow realms and how they can be used.

One of D&D4's greatest strengths was its modularity. Adding or subtracting material from the game was easier than ever before. It is a feature that 5e adopted, though not as radically as 4e. Adding more classes then never felt like a bloat since you could limit the number of classes or races or any other feature. The Player's Option books were that in execution. Heroes of Shadow introduces the Assassin class, the Blackguard Paladin option, the Vampire class, the Binder option for Warlocks, and additions to other classes such as clerics (death domain), warlocks (gloom pact for hexblades), and the Necromancy and Nethermancy schools for wizards. Since classes are so detailed this covers the majority of the book.

The Vampire class should be mentioned since it is different. The idea behind it is that no matter what a person was before this, they are now a vampire and they can progress in power as a vampire. Not for everyone, I am sure but there was an elegance to it that can't be denied. It also worked quite well, to be honest.

There are some new races of course. The Revenant is back from the dead with the power of the Raven Queen with them. The Shade has traded some of their mortality for Shadow stuff. This is the best version of the Shade since 1st ed. The Vryloka are living vampires, one of my favorites in 4e, and variations on Dwarves, Elves/Eladrin, Halflings, and Humans.

There are new Paragon Paths for many classes and Epic Level Destinies. A handful of new feats and some new equipment.

It is a fun set of options that really had the feel of the shadow-soaked 4e world down.

Plenty of great ideas for a 5e game using the same classes (all have 5e counterparts) or as fluff for other versions of the game.

Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild (4e)

PDF and Hardcover book. 160 pages. 

For this review, I am considering the hardcover version I purchased when new and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

In general like Heroes of Shadow, Heroes of the Feywild assumes that these characters are either from or have strong ties to their "homeland" in this case the Feywild. IF you have any interest at all in the Feywild or any sort of land of the Faerie (such as Avalon, Alfheim, or any number of others) then this is a good book. While not really compatible with older editions of D&D there is still plenty that can be used. The feats even are written that they could even be used with Pathfinder or D&D 3.x. I found plenty I can use for my current 3.x game that I run with the kids and Ghosts of Albion. I actually ended up liking this book more than the Heroes of Shadow book out earlier.

The Witch The witch is a new "sub-class" of the wizard that basically learned in the Feywild. On one level I didn't like this since the witch isn't really a type of wizard. But in reading it I can get past it since the witch is only a type of wizard "mechanically", she uses the same rules as a wizard and thus all the same powers, feats, magic items, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies the wizard can use. In this respect, it makes her more like what I have done in the past where wizards and witches are both a type of "magic-user". It gives the witch a lot of power to choose from.

The witch has two builds or covens she can choose from, a Full Moon Coven and a Dark Moon Coven, or if you prefer a good witch and a bad witch. The covens have some powers associated with them, but the witch is still free to choose powers as she sees fit. Only Paragon Path is given, the Legendary Witch, and it focuses on the two covens. It lacks any strong thematic element, but this is a complaint I have had of the Paragon Paths of the post-Essentials line. The Epic Destiny, the Witch Queen, though is quite good. I had done something similar as a Prestige Class for 3.5. This one is different but there are some interesting powers and effects.

I might try a multi-classed witch/warlock, but that might be splitting my roles a bit too much

Powers and Spells What sets this Witch apart from another Wizard or a Warlock are her spells and powers. The witch relies on her familiar to learn magic. Something I have seen more and more of late in FRPG versions of the witch. Her magic has a distinct feel to it different than that of the warlock, even if there seems to be some overlap. Witches do get a minor healing power from the Full Moon Coven, and her magics in general are more subtle. She does not, for example, have a fireball-like spell, but she can change monsters into other animals and they take damage for it. Heavy on the charms and transformations. Lots of powers with the Psychic keyword. Some are similar in theme to the Warlock; Horde of Puckish Sprites is not too different, save in level than Pixie War Band.

I would like to see more about the relationship between Witches and Warlocks. Especially given the Fey commonalities and interactions with Patrons. I think I'll have to write that myself now given that the 4e is a dead game line.

Non-Witch Material There are three new races to play that are well suited to a Feywild/Faerie World sort of game. The Hamadryad, the Satyr, and the Pixie. All have something very interesting about them and I'll stat up some witches for each race as well. There are other class builds as well the Berserker (Barbarian), Protector (Druid), and Skald (Bard). All great for a pseudo-Celtic-themed game of D&D. Just add Player's Handbook 2 to the mix to get the base Bard and Gnome and you are set. Honestly, there is enough here to run a high-magic game and never leave the Feywild.

Overall I am very pleased with this book. It's not perfect, but it is very, very close.

4e books

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: World of the Witch 4E

World of the Witch 4E
Moving up to D&D 4e now (I have pretty much-covered everything for 3e), I get to one of the stand-alone Witch Classes.  How is it and how does it compare to the Witch in Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild?

World of the Witch 4E

PDF. 105 pages. Full-color cover and interior art.

I would call this book a "full service" D&D 4e book. It was published well after 4e was done as a line so it has the advantage of a long development time. It also can incorporate the best of what 4e had to offer.

To start we have seven character themes; the Black Cloak of Vanuna, Cat Sister/Brother, Cauldron Adept, Maleicar, Sea Witch, Temptress/Tempter, and the Witch Priestess. Each gaining some sort of mechanical and roleplaying benefits.

Witch Class

Next, we get to the Witch Class. This is not a subtype of the Wizard like we see in Heroes of the Feywild, but their own class. There is even a nice sidebar about Witches vs. Warlocks.  For this witch the abilities are Charisma, Constitution, and Wisdom, so exactly like I would suspect.

There are four archetypes, here known as covens. They are the Hag Witch (combat ready), Karmic Witch (reactor), Primeval Witch, and White Witch. Each gets a feature or power. 

All witches get the Bewitch feature at 1st level as well as the Ritual Caster feat.

As with all 4e books, we get a long listing of the various at-will, encounter, daily and utility powers they get. A lot of these look really fun. Makes me miss 4e.

Paragon Paths

At 11th level you can choose a Paragon Path with gives you access to other magic. These are the Night Hag, Black Witch, Pact Witch (you have to be a Witch AND a Warlock), and Shaper. There is some text on other published Paragon Paths.

Note: There is no Epic Destiny here.

New Feats

While not as bad as 3e in terms of feats, 4e still has more than 5e does. But that is fine, I like feats to be honest.

Tools of the Trade

lots of mundane and magical tools for the witch.

Lore & Locations

This covers covens, people, places, and things. This book also has a Daughters of Darkness coven! I suppose that should not be a surprise really. Lots of variety here and that is nice. 

There are some NPCs here including a goddess-like figure and some powerful witches. 

The Witch Kingdom of Amarath

Now, this has my attention. It was a kingdom for and by witches and ruled over by three Witch Queens.  There is not a lot here, but for me, it is worth the price of the PDF.

Witch Adventures

There is a table of 50 plot hooks followed by a section on more developed ideas for a campaign. 

There are even new monsters and NPCs listed.

All things considered, I rather like it all. There are a lot of good ideas here and the powers feel about right.   I am a bit removed from 4e nowadays, but this makes me want to play it some more.

Compared to the Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild witch this one has certain benefits. For me, I might combine them and play them all as one class. I would certainly grab the Witch Queen Epic destiny to use here. 

The art is fine, but all over the place in terms of quality. I don't fault them for that really. Many I recognize and have used myself, to be honest.

There is no POD option for this and I am going to take that as a plus. Why? Well, I mentioned the modularity of the 4e material before, well I can take this, print the pages I want, and build my own 4e witch book to use. Combine it with other 4e material I have and I can have the ultimate 4e witch. And this book serves as the base for all of that.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Thursday, October 27, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Seven Sisters

FOR6 The Seven Sisters (2e)
I have had a long and complicated relationship with the Forgotten Realms. They came out while I was getting ready for University. I had my first interactions with the setting were with its fans online. In those days it would have been LISTSERVs on BitNet or on Usenet. I have to admit. The fans annoyed me. Plus I was a Greyhawk and Known World fan, how dare this upstart world displace those?  

Then a few things happened. First I picked the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms guide. I thought it was great. Secondly, I got the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM and I went back and reread some of the old articles and realized the depth Ed Greenwood contributed to everything in D&D since, well the beginning.  Slowly I began to see how rich the Realms were. And yes. Just like those fans that annoyed me so, I began to really like the characters of the Realms. 

Case in point. I really, really enjoy the Seven Sisters and The Simbul in particular.  So for today's 100 Days of Halloween, I wanted to talk about these seven extraordinary women, of which two of them are called witches.

FOR6 The Seven Sisters (2e)

PDF and softcover book. 128 pages. Color cover, black & white art.

This book covers the Seven Sisters, the Chosen of Mystra;  Alustriel, Dove Falconhand, Laeral Silverhand, The Simbul, Storm Silverhand, Syluné, and Qilué Veladorn.

Before delving into this book one thing is certain, Ed Greenwood loves these characters. He talks about them in the pages of Dragon magazine, his books, and all his writings. He knows them and loves them and it shows. This is something I keep in mind while reading this.

This book and these characters are an obvious nod to something that has been described as one of the oldest stories in the world, The Seven Sisters or the Pleiades star cluster near the Belt of Orion. We call them "the Seven Sisters" but today we only can see six with the naked eye. This is because 100,000 years ago we could see a seventh star. This seventh is sometimes called the Lost Sister.  Why mention this, well it is obvious when you get into this that Ed, as usual, did his homework before class.


This section details what this book is and how to use it. There is even some background fluff. Ed even says we can take these "powerful characters that can easily be renamed and fiddled with for use in other campaigns." I am holding on to that. 

Who are the Seven Sisters?

This is an overview of the Seven going through them all very briefly. Only six are mentioned here and the Seventh...well that is our missing sister and she will be detailed soon enough.  

The Story of the Seven

We get an overview not just of the Seven and how they came to be but the nature of the Chosen, in particular the Chosen of Mystra. They all are the children of a ranger and Harper named Dornal Silverhand and Elué Shundar a half-elf sorceress who agreed to be the host of Mystra's spirit and power. Soon seven girls were born in the winter of each following year. Anastra Syluné, (761 DR), Endue Alustriel (762 DR), Ambara Dove (763 DR); Ethena Astorma "Storm" (764 DR), Anamanué Laeral (765 DR), Alassra Shentrantra "The Simbul" (766 DR), and Erésseae Qilué  (767 DR). Though being the host of such magical power Elué was withering away and was little more than a lich while she was pregnant with Qilué. So Mystra transplanted the unborn baby into the womb of a nearby drow adventuress whose own unborn child had died in her womb. Elué died and Dornal, disgusted with what the Goddess had done went out to seek his own death leaving the six girls in the care of Mystra herself.

I would go into more detail here, but that is retelling the story already here.  

Powers of the Chosen

Now here is the chapter on how I discovered this book. I was looking for some details on the Chosen of Mystra. There are a lot of powers granted to those favored by the gods. 

The Seven 

Each chapter that follows is named for one of the Seven. They are in order, Alustriel, Dove Falconhand, Laeral Silverhand, The Simbul, Storm Silverhand, Syluné, and Qilué Veladorn.

There is some history, backstory, some fiction, their true name, and more. A stat block is given for each, and make no mistake these are powerful characters. Each chapter lists her powers, what people think of her, what angers her, what pleases her, and what she can be expected to be doing. There is also black & white art of each sister. The only time I have seen them all together and in color is the cover (promotional images) for the novel Silverfall

The fiction bits are fine, though I will note that the piece accompanying The Simbul's chapter is the same as the Pages of the Mages book and "The Wizards Three" from Dragon #200, December 1993. So yeah this is the third time I have read it, but I don't care. I love the fact that there are the three most powerful mages of three different worlds and they all fear Her.

It would be natural for me to say that this sister got more attention and this other one got less, but all get about the same level of detail and attention.

Spells of the Seven

New spells developed or used by the sisters. 105 new spells. Some I have ended up in later editions of D&D, but many are still new. 

Magical Items of the Seven

Likewise, there are some special and even unique magic items. There are nine here.

Using the Seven Sisters in a Campaign

A guide on how to use these powerful sisters by engaging what they are most interested in.  There is also a brief mention of any situation where more than one would be encountered. 


The Seven Sisters

Outside of the chapters on the Spells and Magic items, there is not a lot here that is edition specific. I mean yes there are NPC stat blocks for each sister, but I can easily say that for example Qilué is a 16th-level cleric.  Or that The Simbul is a dual-classed 30th-level mage and 6th-level fighter. Consequently, she is a Sorcerer 20/Archmage 2/Wizard 10 in D&D 3rd Edition.  So their levels I say are guidelines. Strong guidelines, but guidelines all the same. Although you have someone like Dove Falconhand and you can see her progression from 1st Edition to 3rd Edition.  The point being that this book is still useful for many versions of D&D, not just AD&D Second Edition.

I don't think I have even scratched the surface of what I can do with this.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Complete Book of Necromancers

DMGR7 The Complete Book of Necromancers (2e)
Yesterday I reviewed the Wizard's Complete Class book and last week I covered the Death Master in Dragon Magazine #76, I thought this would be a good one for today.

In AD&D 1 the example of the Illusionist gave birth to the specialty wizards of AD&D 2nd Ed.  One of those specialty wizards was the Necromancer. Though, unlike the Illusionist, the Transmuter, or even the Evoker, the Necromancer got its own book.  

The Complete Book of Necromancers was one of those books that everyone seemed to want.  I remember picking it up back when it was first published. I paid $15 for it.  Later the cover price jumped to $18 and soon it became very rare. No idea why.  The aftermarket price jumped considerably and I ended up selling mine on eBay back in 2000 for $81. Not a bad deal really. I ended up re-buying again recently at Half-Price Books for $9.

DMGR7 The Complete Book of Necromancers

PDF and softcover book. 128 pages. Black & white interior art. For this review, I am considering my softcover edition and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Let's be honest, few classes have had the spotlight quite like Necromancers have had. There have been many attempts before and since. But when comes down to it, the 2nd Ed Complete Book of Necromancers is the gold standard that all other books on Necromancy are compared to. This book is packed. Even the font size is smaller than the other Class books for AD&D 2nd Ed. 


Our introduction informs us that this is a book for DMs to make memorable foes. Indeed throughout the book refers to the Necromancers as NPCs.  Even warnings are given about Necromancer PCs of higher than the 9th level. 

Chapter 1: Necromancers

Details "The Standard Necromancer" or even "The Masters of the Dark Art" with minimum ability scores and the rolling methods to gain them (with a table on page 10). Additionally, only humans can be necromancers. Role-playing wise I can see this. Elves would not be concerned with the spirits of the dead and if they wanted to speak to them then they have the books they wrote. Dwarves and Halflings are very much about the here and now. Mechanically though there is no reason to assume they can be, save that this is AD&D.

We get an extended Necromancer (Wizard) XP advancement table to level 30. There are also details about weapon and non-weapon proficiencies. New non-weapon proficiencies are also given.

There are also new Kits for the Necromancer. They are the Archetypal Necromancer, Anatomist, Deathslayer (killer of the undead), Philosopher, and Undead Master. Additionally, two kits from the Complete Book of Wizards and the Complete Sha'ir's Handbook are brought over for use here. They are the Witch and the Ghul Lord.

Chapter 2: Dark Gifts

Covers the powers of Necromancy. This starts with a discussion on Dual Classes characters (remember Human only) each combination is discussed such as Fighter/Necromancer, Thief/Necromancer, Cleric/Necromancer, and the Psionicist/Necromancer.  

Vile Pacts and Dark Gifts cover the powers Necromancers are likely to pick up as they gain the notice of dark powers. 

Despite all the recommendations above, up next is a section on Humanoid Necromancers like Drow and Githyanki. 

Chapter 3: The Price

Details the down-side of dealing with necromancy.  While the social stigma stuff might be a blessing to many necromancers, things like deformities and body afflictions are less welcome. 

Chapter 4: The Dark Art

This deals with the magic and the spells of Necromancy. A great section for any sort of AD&D 2nd ed DM really.  It discusses "Black" or "Criminal" Necromancy, "Gray" or Neutral Necromancy, and "Benign" or "White" Necromancy.

There are 25 new spells from levels 1 to 9 here. Many I note still live on in new editions. 

Chapter 5: Death Priests

Can't let wizards have all the fun. Besides, Necromancy is not just a school of arcane magic but a sphere of divine magic as well. Death Priests (Clerics) get the same treatment as did the Wizards above. Including an advancement table to level 30.  Here different gods/faiths are discussed that might be a home to a Death Priest. The obvious are the God of the Dead. But also the Goddess of Murder, God of Pestilence, God of Suffering, and the Lord of the Undead.

Chapter 6: The Priest Sphere

Cover the necromancy priest sphere and spells. Here we get 18 new priest spells of levels 1 to 7.

Chapter 7: Allies

Covers everything from Apprentices, Henchmen, Familiars (including Undead ones), and Undead minions. Undead minions get the most detail with various sorts of undead discussed. 

There is a great section on Secret Societies. I used this one quite a lot when I developed my Circle of Six Necromancer group.  A group of bad guys that I STILL use today (though only three are still active). 

Chapter 8: Tools of the Trade

Covers potions, poisons, various magical items (including some new), and necromantic lore. 

Chapter 9: The Campaign

Looking back I realize there is a lot in this chapter I *STILL* use. The first is Sahu the Island of the Necromancer Kings. Granted an Ilse of Necromancers is not 100% original and I could have easily got it from Clark Ashton Smith, but this one comes together nicely for AD&D 2nd and still works for me today. 

There are some adventure hooks connected to Sahu and some more connected to the various NPCS found at the end of this section.  That's is the other thing I still use. The NPCs here were quite memorable to me. 

Appendix 1: Common Spells for Necromancers: Lists of spells and their sources by Offensive and Defensive capability.

Appendix 2 and Appendix 3 Necromancy spells for Wizards (2) and Clerics (3).

Appendix 4 Index of Necromantic spells: Alphabetical listing.

There is so much here that would later find homes in the 3e Book of Vile Darkness and the 4e Heroes of Shadow.  And much that is still very useful today.  

I will come back to this one when I decide to work through more of my Isles of Avalon.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)
This week is all about D&D. Since I have been doing spooky things in general and witchy things in particular, this one *might* stretch this notion a bit. But this book does give us our first-ever official Witch class, er... kit for AD&D. So for that reason alone I should consider it.  But there are other reasons for me to consider this.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

PDF and softcover editions. Black & White interior art. 128 Pages.

For this review, I am considering the PDF on DriveThruRPG and my softcover book from 1990.

So a bit of background first. AD&D 2nd Edition came out in later 1989 and introduced the concept of Kits. These were roles that could be taken by a class. They are similar in many respects to the sub-classes or archetypes of D&D 5. You took a kit at the first level and that gave some powers, abilities, and restrictions. They quickly got bloated and dare I say, game-breaking (looking at you The Complete Bard's Handbook) but the early ones like this gave the game some great flavor, and others, like The Complete Psionics Handbook, extended the rules in interesting ways.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook is all about wizards, magic-users, and magic.

Ok class what spell is this?
Chapter 1: Schools of Magic

This is not a classroom-like school (though it can be) it discusses the 8 schools of magic codified by AD&D (that is still around today). In AD&D 2e you could have a "Specialist Mage" or someone dedicated to a particular school, they excel in casting spells from that school but can't cast spells from an opposing school.  The example in the Players Handbook is the Illusionist, a holdover from AD&D 1st Ed. Arguably the most popular would become the Necromancer. (more on that later).

Each school is detailed and the requirements for each are also given on top of the requirements for a Generalist Wizard. For example, a Conjurer must have some human blood (seems random) and Enchanters need a Charisma score of 16 or above (that makes sense).

Chapter 2: Creating New Schools

This covers the creation of new schools of magic that either augment or abandon the schools above. It is a great primer on how magic might work and how it could be learned. While the standard schools are not dropped here, they are reorganized. This chapter is also helpful for anyone wanting to rethink their wizards can do. If Original D&D gave us a magic-user that can do anything, this gives us multiple types of wizards that collectively can do it all and not always the same way.

Chapter 3: Wizard Kits

At only 20 some-odd pages this section feels larger. And it is also the focus of my attention today. There are 10 kits detailed here, each with requirements, preferred schools, barred schools and what they do. The kits are the Academician (scholar of magic), Amazon Sorcerers (what it says on the tin, but all the The Complete Class book had an Amazon kit), Anagakok (Wizards from primitive cultures), Militant Wizard (also what it sounds like), Mystic (in this case a sort of pacifist wizard), Patrician (a wizard of noble birth), Peasant Wizard (just the opposite), Savage Wizard (wizard from very remote areas), Witch (why we are here), and the Wu-Jen updated from the 1st Ed AD&D Oriental Adventures

I mentioned this was the first official witch in AD&D, this is true, but it is not the first official witch of D&D. That honor goes to the witch school for Magic-users in GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri which predates this by 3 years.  The witch here is easily the most detailed of the all the kits along with the Wu-Jen.

The kit creation section was a well-used and abused feature of this book for me when working on other kits and subclasses.

Chapter 4: Role-Playing

This chapter covers all sort of role-playing advice and tips for wizard characters. Various personality types are covered here; the Altruist, the Brooder, the Mystery Man, the Showman., and more. There are also adventure ideas and plot hooks for wizard characters. 

Not the Scarlet Witch
Not the Scarlet Witch

Chapter 5: Combat and the Wizard

AD&D wizards at low levels are easy to kill, so combat tips are most welcome. This covers Defensive spells and Offensive spells and how to best use them. There is also a bit about the restricted weapons list of the wizard.

Chapter 6: Casting Spells in Unusual Conditions

Details what spells are effective where and more importantly which ones are not effective. This includes the mundane underwater and the more fantastic environments like the planes. Also various conditions on the spell caster like blindness, impaired hearing, and speech.

Chapter 7: Advanced Procedures

Covers level and spell advancement to 32nd level. Details on various spells and a bunch of materials on how illusions work in the game. Details on spell components, spell research, and magic item research and creation.

Chapter 8: New Spells

Pretty much what it says. 40 new spells for AD&D.

Chapter 9: Wizardly Lists

Various lists from 25 helpful familiars, to five unusual places for spell components, nine magic items that have not been invented yet, and more. There are maps, locations, and even 12 new magic items.

The utility of this book for AD&D 2nd can't be undersold. There is more here than just class information there is also information on the very lifeblood of most fantasy games; magic.  While the book is solid AD&D 2nd ed there is enough information here for players of any edition of D&D. 

I have mentioned in the past that the magic school and wizard training information makes a great complement to the magic school found in GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri.  In fact most of my late 90s AD&D 2nd ed games revolved around this idea.  I even brought many of those ideas back to my short-lived D&D 4th Edition game.  And most recently have gone back to this book for my newest AD&D 2nd ed character Sinéad.

I am surprised about how much I can still get from this book.

And obviously, it was the model I followed when I did my very first witch book 23 years ago this week!

Wizards and Witches

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Monday, October 24, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck

The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck
Here is something you never would have seen from TSR at the height of the Satanic Panic.  Over the summer Wizards of the Coast released a Dungeons & Dragons-themed Tarot desk.

The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck

78 tarot cards. Illustrated full-color guidebook.

For me, Tarot has been a part of D&D ever since my High School DM got a Rider-Waite Tarot Deck at the best Occult Book Store the 80s had to offer, Waldenbooks.

Since then I have used them off and on over the years. I mostly used it in place of a Tarroka Deck when I run my Ravenloft games. And they are pretty much essential to the running of any sort of Blue Rose campaign, 1st (True20) or 2nd (AGE) Edition.

I have never bought into a divinatory sort of power to these cards; that is not my world view. BUT I have over the years noticed that people ascribe meaning to these images based on their own internal workings. In this case, it makes them a rather rough Thematic apperception test, with all inherent problems of that. (In grad school we may or may not have had a song called "T-A-T" sung like AC/DC's "T-N-T"). But also I can admire the art on these for art's sake.

So when an Offical Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck was released, well you know I have to grab that!

D&D Tarot, Major Arcana
Major Arcana

The art is amazing really and worth the price ($24.99) of the deck. 

There is a guidebook as well where we learn the suits Wands (clubs), Swords (spades), Cups (hearts), and Pentacles (diamonds) have been replaced by Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  This is not that bad really. Any book on Tarot will reveal these associations are already there. WotC is just saying the quiet part out loud.

D&D Tarot, Guide book

D&D Tarot, Guide book

D&D Tarot, Strength
D&D Tarot, Strength

D&D Tarot, Intelligence
D&D Tarot, Intelligence

D&D Tarot, Wisdom
D&D Tarot, Wisdom

D&D Tarot, Charisma
D&D Tarot, Charisma

The art is indeed gorgeous, but feel some of the symbolism of the Tarot is lacking here. True, this is supposed to be a game aid AND much of the symbolism comes from our world and our myths. So these might not apply to the multitudes of D&D worlds.

For comparison's sake, I'll look at a few Major Arcana cards from this deck and compare them to other decks I use.

My main decks are the Smith-Waite Deck, which is an alternative to the Rider-Waite Deck with the art by Pamela Colman Smith restored to its original colors, The Witches Tarot, and the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

The Fool

The Fool

The Fool is the card of new beginnings. In the Hero's Journey, the Fool represents our hero in their starting phase. Young, brash, and lacking wisdom. In S-W deck this is a youth leaving home (the pack he or she carries), they look up to the sky but are oblivious to the danger in front of them. The dog at their heels is trying to warn them.  We get similar imagery in all four cards. The dog is absent in the Witches Tarot and looking away in the D&D Tarot. 

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man

In our world this is Odin hanging on the Tree of Knowledge. It signifies a sacrice given up for great understanding. In the Hero's Journey this can be the loss of the mentor figure or other loss of innocence. The S-W deck and Witches Tarot this is obvious. The Witches Tarot goes one step more and has the man old and missing an eye. The D&D tarot keeps the man upside down.



One of the most feared and most misunderstood cards in the Tarot deck. Death is not always about physical death, but change. In the S-W deck Death is a skeletal knight riding a white horse (an allusion to the Biblical Death riding a Pale Horse), he tramples or walks over people regardless of their station or class because death comes to all. This is also seen in the Witches Tarot. The Shadoscapes deck takes this notion one step further and show a phoenix.  The symbolism on the D&D Tarot is not quite as sophisticated. 

The Devil

The Devil

Lastly we get the Devil. In S-W deck the Devil is presented as a demon-like figure. The people in the foreground are slaves, but as their loose chains show they are slaves to their own desires; Worldly comfort (the grapes) and power (the fire).  The Witches Tarot goes with the Horned God and he is still of Earthly pleasures and desires.  The D&D Tarot goes with the Prince of Hell, Asmodeus. Which in the context of the D&D worlds works.

So Yes a fantastic-looking deck, but lacking in some of the classical symbolism of other Tarot decks.

If you use Tarot in your D&D games then this one is system agnostic. You can use it with any edition.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, October 23, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witchblood

I have reached the end of all the adventures I have on hand for War of the Witch Queens and before I pivot onto my next, and last series for this #100DaysOfHalloween, I really wanted to do something special. I had not found anything perfect yet. I had about four or five different ones that I kept rotating through.

Then I was contacted by Rose Bailey. The author of the great "Die For You" RPG, which I reviewed five years ago to this date in fact. That, and what her game does makes it the perfect choice for today's #100DaysOfHalloween.

Starting today and through the rest of these till Halloween I am moving my posting to the day and exploring the topics in more detail.


PDF. 237 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

There is a hardcover option for this book, but I do not have it. Yet. 

I knew this game was going to be good when I started reading it. First off the authors list Howard's Conan and Tanith Lee's "Kill the Dead." Seriously. I LOVE Kill the Dead. I love Tanith Lee. We are off to a great start. Also listed are Russian Folk Tales and Gimm's Fairy Tales.  Also mentioned is Ron Edward's Sorcerer, a game I do rather enjoy.

Rules Basics

Ok we learn that this game is based on One Roll Engine.  Knowledge of that game is not needed here, which is good because while I know it I have never played it.

This is a character focused game so we are going to focus on that.  All characters (called Wanderers here, more on that) have Identities and Qualities. Identies come in pairs and characters have three of them. They are numbered from 0 to 5.  This is a dice pool game where you will roll a number of d10 based on the Identities and one of the Qualities. So anywhere between 3 and 10 dice. Successes, Critical successes and failures are also detailed. 

The Fiction

The world of Witchblood is the Forrest. A giant forest that covers an area about the size of Europe, which tech levels about late 18th early 19th century. Ok another plus for me.  The game discusses how to being to create the world.the 

The game is divided into this Basic Introduction, the Player's Guide, and  Storyteller's Guide.

Player's Section

Chapter 1: We start here with some background setting fiction to get a feel for this world. It sets the mood and stage well. For me it already feels familiar.  I have seen this world before. No. Not in print, but it is the world you see in fairy tales.

Chapter 2: Character creation follows.  The characters are known as Wanderers, people who wander the world to learn more about their world and themselves. You build a character in 6 steps. 1. Name and Concept, 2. Birthright. 3. Calling. 4. Profile. 5. Bonuses. 6. Finishing touches. 

Each Birthright is like your species or race. We have Changeling, Commoner, Ghostborn, Noble, Troll, Witchblood (thus the name), and Zver.  Each gets two pages and helps decide your Indenties and advancement paths. 

Callings are like classes or professions though they go deeper than that. They are the Balladeer, Devoted, Fortune Teller, Robber, Sellsword, Trader, and Wise One. Birthright is balanced against Calling. 

Chapter 3: We get the section on Identies and Qualities. Identities as mentioned before are in pairs, Patience and Cunning, Vigor and Grace, Understanding and Persuasion.  These are subdivided into two more pairs. For example Patience and Cunning also has aspects Generosity and Selfishness and Demonstration and Observation. 

Points in these allow the characters to perform actions.  

Chapter 4 covers these actions. The identies and qualities give you points that you then roll d10s. Roll these and look for matches or sets. So things like riding a horse in a dangerous situation would be Graceful Endurance. Just riding a horse would need no to roll.  Various sorts of rule situations are covered.

Chapter 5 is the chapter on Magic. Magic here is not the organized magic of D&D. Its not even the emotional but structured magic of say Mage. Magic is, in the words of this book, bloody, blunt, and feral. There are many ways magic can manifest. There is "Petty Magic" or minor magics and anyone with a supernatural birthright can have Petty Magics.  Charms are things you can pick up along the way and allow characters to do things others can't. Hunches are ways the characters can manipulate magic around them into effects.  They are not something the character "does" but rather "discovers."  Divination, Pacts,  Lineage and Deeds, Sorcerery, Spoiling,  Gifts and Shapeshifting are all magical talents that have their own means of working.  The variety here is amazing and paints a picture of a world steeped in magic.

Storytelling Section

Chapter 6: This starts our Storytelling section or GMs section. It explains again that this world is largely a combination of two genres; pulp fantasy and fairy tales. This first chapter goes over the elements of these two genres and how the designers break the down the themes and rebuild them in the world of Witchblood. It is an interesting breakdown of both genres and what makes them work.   

We also get some Storytelling tips. There is section on NPCs like Companions, or characters essential to the Wanderers and how they fit into the story, and Locals, or the NPCs that don't interact all the time with the Wanderers. Antagonists are those NPCs that work against the Wanderers. So exactly what they sound like.  Each of these types get their motivations defined. A good guide for any game really.  

Given the nature of magic in this world/game, Enchantments are the NPCs of magic.  They are continuing or permanent magics. So Sleeping Beauty's sleeping curse is a good example of what this sort of thing is.  They are defined more or less like other NPCs. Now this is a FANTASTIC idea. 

Chapter 7: Covers "The Village" or "Where the Mild Thing Are." Ok that is a bit glib on my part. It is about where the humans live.  This covers the various people living in the "Village." There are various roles like Butcher, Miller, Fisher and so on.  There are also people outside the Village, like Bandits, Creeping Trees (LOVE THIS), Predators and so on.

We get themes going on in the Village, like Abuse of Authority, Domestic Violence, Human Sacfrice and more.  This can be a dark game if you choose. 

Chapter 8: Encounters. This covers what is in the Woods outside Village. What I love about this is everything I wanted to be here, is here; So Spirits, Ghosts, and Witches. And things I didn't like The Aunts, the Burned Man, the Dead Robbers, the Hearteater, the Mancutter and more. 

This chapter is great. These encounters are so well detailed and thought out that I would love to add them to other games. Just so much flavor here.


This game is so rich in flavor and depth. I once said that even in D&D I don't explore dungeons, I explore characters. This is one of the better character exploration games. The Villiage, the Forest, even the Burned Man and the Mayor. They are all there for the sole purpose of exploring your character.  Think about the fairy tales you know, most are named for the lead character. This is what we have here. 

This game lets you do that. And to do that there is plenty of adversity here. Not just in terms of the features in the Woods but in the themes you are expected to explore. Not all of them will be comfortable or nice. It is Grimdark, but not always nihilistic. Characters work towards making things better OR at least that is their expectation.  In many ways this makes things much darker than say Dungeon Crawl Classics (no slight on DCC).

This would be a great game for a group of good friends to explore. I also think it is a good game for people to use to explore different aspects of themselves. I talked about notions where the characters we make are different extensions of our own psyche. For example my Paladin character Johan is a manifestation of a Freudian Super-Ego and my Witch character Larina is a manifestation of my Jungian Anima. Just to add some armchair psychology to it. This game would do the same.  

The game is fantastic and I am going to have to come back to it later this week.  Maybe create a character.

There is not a ton of art (though the cover is fantastic), but I don't see this as a negative thing. Reading this reminded me of a book of fairy tales and legends I had as a kid where the only art was on the chapter pages. It invoked that same feeling in me and that is likely exactly what the designers wanted.

This not a game to do in an afternoon and be done. This one should be played a few times. I would even suggest on a regular interval; much like you read to your children before bedtime every night, this should be done at the same time in the same place. Really get that feeling you are leaving this world and move into one that sits in that liminal place between dreams and nightmares and being awake.

Can't wait to explore it more.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, October 22, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Fane of the Witch King

Fane of the Witch King
I have spent all month long so far on "Witch Queen" adventures, I thought maybe a Witch King might be nice. Spoiler. There is still a Witch Queen here. 

Fane of the Witch King

Print and PDF. 68 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

So this one goes all the way back to the 3.x days from Necromancer Games. It is an adventure for 4 to 6 characters of 10th level and higher. 

The adventurers investigate the site of an ancient and evil city where the minions of the now-dead Witch King reside and plot his return. Among them is his former lover, the Witch Queen Kytara Bane.

"Witch" in both cases just means "evil spell-caster" but I can work with it. So this is a Necromancer Games product so expect there to be plenty of monsters to kill, deep forgotten dungeons and everything that made 1st Edition adventures so much fun. The NPCs are also great in a "how can we make something so evil" sort of way. The Witch King Osenkej for example was the product of a Balor father and Red Wyrm mother. Kytara Bane, his queen, was/is a Half-nymph/Half-demon. There is the Ghul Legion a band of dark elves and gnolls working for a group of evil Stone Giants and their Black Dragon leader Ghul Lacronus. All who they have to fight to get into the Black Fane and then to get out they have to face Kytara Bane herself.  Along the way they can also run into the Covenant of the Claw, they are a half-elf/half-dragon, a half-human/half-dragon and a half-gnoll/half-dragon.  Really giving those half-dragon template rules a workout.

Not to mention all the demons and undead running around including a demonic triceratops! This adventure is a meat grinder and the characters are assumed to be level 10. I think they need to be a little stronger.

The appendices are full. A new spell. New magic items including new artifacts. Five maps.

The locations are great, and that is what the adventure gives top billing, but for me, it is really about these NPCs.

Fane of the Witch King - Print

Use in War of the Witch Queens

Again, it is the NPCs here that interest me the most. The locations are fun but I can put those anywhere, or re-do them as I need. The NPCs are just too much not to use. The adventure is fun as it, but what if I add this twist for my world/campaign. Kytara Bane learning of the death of the Witch Queen decides to make her move.

It could be fun really. Certainly near the end of the campaign.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, October 21, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Witch's Daughter- Adventure Module GSAM01

The Witch's Daughter - Adventure Module GSAM01
I have spent all month so far working with adventures from various systems, tonight I think I will try a systemless one tonight. 

The Witch's Daughter - Adventure Module GSAM01

PDF. 68 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art. 

This is a systemless adventure centered around a village where a witch was attacked and killed leaving her daughter behind. The adventure is a quasi-sandbox. There are 60 some-odd pages of backstory and details of the village, its people, and most importantly the NPCs.

There is a lot here to be honest, maybe more than needed for an adventure? This is more of a mini-setting. 

The strength of this adventure is the lack of stats. Why? I think by having go through the effort to stat ups the NPCs like Count Ducas Fellbane and the titular witch's daughter. For example, I might make Count Ducas a vampire. I know I shouldn't it would be so cliche, but I kinda want to do it to be honest. And the thing is. I can do this if I want. 

Again, like some of the other adventures I have reviewed this month I might use this one to shore up some of the others that are not as rich in background as this one is.  Yes. This adventure is perfectly fine on its own and it can be used anywhere.  But my time is limited on how many adventures I can run; 14th level is going to be the max level. 

I think I might try starting this up for a couple of systems to see which ones feel the best.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Thursday, October 20, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Vengeance of a Burned Witch

Vengeance of a Burned Witch
Tonight we have a slightly different take on the "Witch comes back for Vengeance" adventure. But is it different enough from what we have seen all month?

Vengeance of a Burned Witch

PDF. 15 pages. Color cover and interior art. 

Or more properly, "Gregorius21778: Vengeance of a Burned Witch" with Gregorius21778 the label of Kai Pütz. 

This is a tight little investigation adventure. The premise is simple, the PCs will stumble onto this village of Hillsgreen Crossing where last year they burned a witch, Ginniver by name, and now her ghost is back.

It is billed as a Halloween adventure, so perfect for this time of year.

I could go over the plot, but we have seen this sort before here. Instead I want to talk about what makes this one good.  The idea is the PCs know nothing. Zip. Nada. If they want to know anything they have to go ask the mostly terrified villagers. They need to investigate, ask around, and piece the history and the present together. Plus they will need to figure out how to rid the village of this pesky witch.

Ginniver comes back not just as one, but two creatures. The first his her burned skeleton (which needs to be destroyed) and as a "Witch-Wraith" the ghost of a burned witch. 

So to destroy this witch you have to destroy her skeleton and destroy the contract she signed, gives her something of what I would call a Unique Kill in other games. 

Note we are warned up front that English is not the author's first language, but I did not find that to be an issue really. There is some canned text, but I use that only as a suggestion anyway. 

All in all there is a lot of fun packed into just 13 pages of content.

It is PWYW with a suggested price of $1.00. Following my guidelines (which I haven't all year,b but whatever) a $1.50 is better. I say to encourage more like this toss them $2.00. 

Use in War of the Witch Queens

I like this one. I don't think I would run as is for the War of the Witch Queens though. One reason, and this is the easy one, it relies on the PCs coming to this village. Yes yes I know I can put her anywhere and with any village, but my point is that for this particular campaign it is a bit too random. But that is the small reason.  The bigger reason is I have already lost track of the number of dead witches coming back for vengeance adventures I have.  What I will do is take the best ideas this one has and overlay it with one of the weaker adventures in my collection. Maybe weaker is the wrong word. I have a lot of bare-bones adventures and maybe this one is something that could help the others. 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween