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

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance

The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance
Yesterday I reviewed The Dark Eye. Tonight I want to cover an adventure for it that I might want to make work for my War of the Witch Queens.

The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance

PDF and Print. 16 pages. Color cover and interior art.

This is actually a rather good adventure to introduce people to The Dark Eye game. 

Briefly, we have an evil warlock taking control of a small coven of witches. But one witch, Alevtia, refuses to submit. Luckily she finds the heroes. That's you all.

This is a detective story and wilderness adventure. So social skills are just as important as combat here. The characters will need to meet with the other members of the sisterhood to get all the details they need. But that also puts them in contact with the Warlock Codax, and he needs items from the heroes (hair, blood, saliva) to make his curses work.

There are plenty of interesting tables of rumors and various locations all throughout the area including a forest. There is even an ogre nearby (and stats for him) and "Predatory Mushrooms!" The adventure feel like a fairy tale. 

Of course, the goal is to stop the warlock. He doesn't have to be killed even, there is a potion to turn him into a toad for example.

It is perfect for a couple of afternoons and even better for new players.

Alevtia The Witch's Dance print

For My War of the Witch Queens

Well, you can set the village of Wireslhome anywhere. Well since I already have the characters popping all over the multiverse I'll even change the name to Westhafen.  But I would still keep it in the northern half of Aventuria, where witches are more common.

The plot here, a warlock taking over a coven, is nearly the same plot of the War of the Witch Queens writ on a local level.  One could even make parallels of what is happening here and to what is happing with the larger cosmos of witches. As above, so below.  Even our cover girl Alevtia's grandmother has just died. In parallel to the Witch Queen herself. 

For me, this adventure is to essentially tell my players what is going on but on a smaller scale.   

There are no stats for Alevtia, but I feel that NPC stats on page 148 of the Core book would be perfect.  In the adventure though, she is listed as part of the Sisterhood: Beauty of the Night or a Cat Witch (p. 146).  The art in the book is closer to 148, so that is what I'll use. I should point out that all the NPCs in the core do have a name attached to them, though in the case of the Toad Witch the description does not match the art.

She is listed in both the core and the adventure as "Inexperienced" so for my purposes that works as 1st level. 

So let's give her a go.  Described as an (Apparently) Simple Country girl (spoiler isn't simple or all that innocent), which would make her a good fit for the Pagan, Green, or even Classical traditions. I am more inclined to go Pagan. But she will get cantrips. This works well since my Pagan Witch book and my Warlock book are both for OSE. 


1st level Witch (Craft of the Wise tradition)
Human Female

Strength: 12
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 14
Dexterity: 12 
Constitution: 13
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Poison: (+1) 11
Wands: 14
Turn to Stone: 13
Breath Weapon: 16
Spells: 15

THAC0: 20
AC: 9[10]

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad ("Kitty")

Cantrips: (5) Clean, Mend, Open, Palm, Spark
1st level: (1+2) Control Face, Glamour, Toad

Since I could not make up my mind whether she was a "Toad" witch or a "Cat" witch, I gave her a toad, as in the picture, but decided she treats her toad like it was a cat.

She could be a fun witch to come back to after she has gained some levels.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure

The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure
Tonight we have a DMsGuild adventure for 5e. It has a lot great things going for it for my ongoing campaign so let's see what it can do for me.

The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure

PDF. 40 pages. Full-color cover and interior art. 

This adventure is for characters levels 2 to 3. This fits the archetype of the "strange newcomers who MUST be witches" deal. Our two "witches", Ashali and Lathna, one a Red Wizard of Thay and the other her apprentice and lover, are not really witches, but everyone around them is treating them as such.  Quick aside, I wrote a one-shot years ago when I first wanted to run something in the Realms about an underground of would-be good Red Wizards trying to escape Thay. They had help from a group in Aglarond. This ties in so perfectly to that adventure I might dust it off as an opening.

The focus of the adventure is to investigate the witches and find out they are mostly harmless but discover a bigger evil along the way. It works for me.  It is a nice little adventure I can fit in nearly anywhere If I want. Though I do have some specific ideas. And let's be honest, who DOESN'T like stopping a bunch of undead? 

There are some new magic items and new NPCs (featured for the adventure). The art is from DMsGuild so it is good, but the layout is something the author did and it looks good. So really a good-looking adventure.

The town of Whitehaven is just detailed enough to make it usable and enough detail left out to make it flexible. I really appreciate that bit. And much like the Villiage of Hommlet for Greyhawk, this would make for a good base of operations for low-level characters.  I get why the adventure is for the 2nd to 3rd level, but I wonder if a bit of work could make it more suited to 1st to 3rd level for a true starting feel.  You are far enough away from the Sword Coast to make it feel like a different world but still close enough to know where you are. If that makes sense. 

Kudos to the author for taking a chance on a "good" or at least redeemed Red Wizard. 

Is this a perfect adventure? No, but it is perfect for what I need it for.

For My War of the Witch Queens

There is so much here that fits right in, even if the witches themselves are not really witches. The "Whitehaven" of this adventure is a perfect stand-in for my own "West Haven."  Indeed, much as I used "Haven" from Krynn as the alternate universe of West Haven in my world, the character will find themselves later in "Whitehaven" in the Realms and "Winterhaven" in the Nentir Vale.

Ashali and Lathna also fit in perfectly as a Red Wizard and her maid turned lover and apprentice that they are almost exactly like the characters I made (no plagiarism here, I never published mine!) so close in fact that I will drop the location I had them in (in Rashmeen) and instead have them here. 

For a stronger link I might have them mention they knew the Witch Queen (but don't yet know she is dead).

So yeah, this one will work great for me.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Monday, October 17, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Tomb of the Witch Queen

Tomb of the Witch Queen (5e)

I obviously had to buy this one as well. Though if you have been following me all week you know we have gone to many tombs of many witch queens.

This one has the unenviable task of following up on all of those. 

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

Tomb of the Witch Queen (5e)

PDF. 13 pages. Color cover and interior art. 

Truthfully it is not fair to compare this one to ones done by professional teams with Kickstarter money. This is just one guy, Jon Paget, doing things on his own.  The adventure is for 5e and claims to be for characters 1st to 12th level. Ok.

We start this one like so many of the other witch queen tomb adventures. The PCs hear of about the tomb and the riches within. Officials have gone to seek it out but never returned. So it decided that expendable experts are needed. That's the PCs. 

The adventure can be scaled to three different levels Low (levels 1-4), Mid (levels 4-8), and High (9-12). The adventure is divided into four separate "layers." Each follows the last and increases in difficulty. Until you reach the tomb of Sassaya herself.

I can see this being a good Convention style game when people could bring their own characters. 

But I am not sure if even this idea overcomes some of the shortcomings of this adventure. The adventure is as linear as it can get. While I am ok ignoring this in some older adventures, this is a 5e one published in 2021. The rewards at the end are uninspired. Sure there is a table to scale the rewards, but this sort of thing comes right out of the DMG of many editions. I don't need an adventure for that. Give me some new magic or something interesting. NOW there are some here. There is a d12 table of interesting additional rewards. THAT should have been the model for the main rewards. Again I have said it many times, if I am going to plunder a witch's tomb I better find some cool spell books.

I mentioned the adventure was linear. Well it is so much so that there are no proper maps. The Labyrinth, Level (or Layer previous) 3 has a kind of a flow-charty color-coded thing that the author obviously is proud of AND it is a neat idea in theory. I am not sure how it acts in practice though. Maybe I am getting hung up on the word "Labyrinth". This piece does look like it scales well. 

The list price is just under $5. Even by my revised guidelines of 25 cents a page for content (this has 10 pages of content for 13 overall pages) that only gets us to $2.50. There is not much in the way of art; no imagery of what the characters might see for example. Only one newish monster with a stat block. Mostly skill checks really. If it had been at or under $2.50 I could have merited giving it another star.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, October 16, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen

Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen
Robert E. Howard casts a long shadow over Fantasy Role Playing in general and D&D in particular.  This is best seen in two different near clones, Adventurer Conqueror King and Hyperborea. So when ACKS did an adventure that was an homage to Taramis, well I had to check it out.

Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen

Print and PDF. 56 pages. Color cover and interior layout art with black & white art.

For Character levels 7th to 9th.

Ok. So another tomb with a sleeping undead witch. It is a powerful trope. This one features the Sorceress-Queen Semiramis of Zahar who has been dead, but sleeping, for 1000 years. She had been betrayed by a former lover (and having killed her first 100 lovers she should have seen this one coming) and is now waiting for her chance to rise and rule again.

The adventure is part of a loosely connected series but it is mentioned that it can be used as a stand-alone adventure and placed anywhere. 

The adventure involves going into her tomb, stopping her from rising, and maybe make off with some treasure. The tomb is full of undead horrors and other dangers. To make things more interesting there is a group of lizardmen in the tomb trying to do the same thing as the characters. 

It then becomes a race against time, times 2. Get to the queen before she gains her full power and get to the treasures before the lizard men do. 

The adventure gives us a bunch on new magic items, a new spell, and five new (ish) monsters. The adventure itself is cut from familiar cloth but the map is quite good and great for groups that like to explore old tombs.

Use with my War of the Witch Queens

For this campaign, this adventure covers more than just familiar territory. This will be the third or fourth "tomb of a long dead witch coming back to life" they have seen if I stay on current plans. So...what am I to do?

Well. I do love the map here and the tomb itself is an interesting place. Maybe...I can merge this with my other Howard/Hyperborea-influenced adventure The Lost Caverns of Acheron.  I mentioned all the pluses that using this adventure gives me when I reviewed the V series from BRW Games. There is one thing I failed to mention though. I have already taken my players through module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Once they get to that spherical room they will remember they have been here already.

I could use this as a base and bring notes from The Lost Caverns of Acheron. I certainly do not need to run both adventures no matter how fun they are. But I also really love the idea of using Xaltana.

Do I go with Xaltana or Semiramis? 

I thought maybe the unnamed Witch-Queen of Yithorium from Hyperborea might be a good substitute. Both come from the same sources. Semiramis has a name, the Witch-Queen does not (even though I named her Miriam). Semiramis is a Zaharian Sorcerer which reads a lot like a warlock or a witch and has a strong Howard/CAS vibe. Same with our Witch-Queen of Yithorium. 

Yithorium is surrounded by the Zakath desert. Zahar is now described as a desolate wasteland like a desert. Ok, that's a stretch but you see where I am going here. 

Why mix or merge them at all? Simple I want to get as much of all the great material out there I can for this adventure campaign and knowing full well I can never run everything. Also by picking and choosing different OSR systems, publishers, and products, I am naturally going to get similar results; we all draw from the same wells. 

So in my campaign, the Sorceress-Queen Semiramis of Zahar and the Witch-Queen of Yithorium become the same person. 


Maybe I'll keep Miriam around as the descendant of Semiramis. She is every bit as evil as her forebearer. Maybe Miriam leads them to the tomb in order to gain her ancestor's power but ends up getting possessed in the process.  I do like this idea.

Use with my Second Campaign

My original idea for this was to run it mostly as is for my Second Campaign. I'll have to see how that one develops when the characters get to the right levels.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, October 15, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Baleful Coven (5E)

The Baleful Coven (5E)
Let's do a 5e adventure tonight. Unlike the others I have reviewed so far I do not have a spot for this one figured out. So maybe something will come to me while I type.

The Baleful Coven (5E)

Print and PDF. 24 pages. Color cover and interior art.

For five to seven characters of 6th to 7th level. 

It is described as bringing standard fantasy characters into contact with threats of the "Far East." Which is cool, to be honest. Not sure if it will fit into my game just yet, but I like the promise of it so far. It does have one of my favorite archetypes, the white-haired witch, and there is a coven made up of a hag and two warlocks. 

I am going to pause here to note that this was originally a Pathfinder adventure. I bought the PDF of it a while back but I now notice it is gone from both DriveThru's and Paizo's websites. I mention this because I feel some of the fingerprints of Pathfinder, and in particular how they handled witches and hags, can be seen in the 5e version here. For example, while a warlock here, Masami Onishi is very much a "White Haired Witch" from Pathfinder. This is not a complaint mind you. Save in only I wish the Pathfinder version was still available. Granted it was released 10 years ago.

The bulk of the adventure takes place on the demi-plane of The Dream of Vengeful Reckoning. Ok, I do rather like that too.  The adventure then becomes a search for how to leave this demi-plane. Naturally defeating this coven of "witches" is one of the ways to do it. 

The adventure is actually rather well put together and I can see it being run over a long afternoon-evening or a could of smaller sessions. This is exactly what it was designed for. There are memorable NPCs which is the real hook for me. 

So yeah a fun adventure with some great ideas. 

Use with my War of the Witch Queens

There is a solid idea here, but not the one I think Legendary Games wants me to hook into. I mentioned the NPCs were memorable, and they are interesting, but you know what would be better? If I took three witches from three different adventures the characters had "defeated" and used them. I have seen enough movies this month where witches come back to some form of life to get vengeance on those who killed them.  Set them up into a demi-plane, or for my purposes, a Liminal Plane, where the dead witches can get their vengeance on the still-living PCs.

This is for 6th to 7th level so it would need to be part of an earlier adventure. My top choices right now are Trilena (Rahasia), Llorona (The Witch of the Tarriswoods), Kyleth (Saga of the Witch Queen), and Morfa (The Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc). I just need to pick three. Though Morfa and Trilena have both come back from the dead once already. I do admit that Kyleth on the top of the list to replace Masami Onishi.  While I know a couple are supposed to be hags I feel that is a hold-over from the Pathfinder adventure where only witches with hags can make covens. Also no need for me to add more winter witches, my cup is over flowing with them!

A new Trilogy of Terror with sequel?

But what good is killing a villain if you can't bring them back from the dead to terrorize your players? I mean characters. Yeah. Characters.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, October 14, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble (and the V Series)

Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble
One of the things I wanted most for my War of the Witch Queens campaign was to involve as many editions of D&D and Clones as I could. I wanted it to be a nice sampling of the entire OSR movement.  The second thing I wanted was to have the characters visit all sorts of different worlds.  So tonight we are headed back to Oerth/Greyhawk or some facsimile of it for the next round of adventures.

Tonight I am going to cover the "V Series" of modules by Joseph Bloch and BRW Games. While I will review all three it is likely that only the last one, Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble, will be used in my campaign.  The reasons will be rather obvious.

This is, essentially from my point of view, an alternate reality Oerth. This is good since the game they are designed for is Adventures Dark and Deep RPG which is an alternate reality AD&D 2nd Edition. Though can easily be used with AD&D 1, 2, Basic D&D, or any clone.

They are low-level enough that they can be easily used with just about any form of D&D including 5e.

Each module is done in what I would call the middle phase of modules or ones from the early 80s. Not quite the rough around the edges of the earliest ones from the 1970s nor the more polished Dragonlance/Ravenlofts of the near mid 80s. No, these are solid 1982-1983 in feel and form.

Adventure Module V1 - The Hamlet of Volage
Adventure Module V1 - The Hamlet of Volage

PDF. 13 pages (+ covers). Color cover, black & white interior art.
Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 1st to 3rd level.

This is where we get our "V" in the V series; the Hamlet of Volage (not to be confused with the Village of Hommlet a few miles over). This adventure introduces the players (and characters) to Volage which in the middle of a battleground between two warring covens of witches. The Cloven Hoof Coven (Diabolic) and the Dark Star Coven (Demonic).  

Though the adventure does not start that big. It begins rather with a rivalry between local families and accusations of witchcraft. 

Much like the adventures this is an homage too, we get a nice selection of memorable NPCs. Tables of rumors (some true, some false) and a village.

In this first adventure, you have to deal with the witches (here a subclass of Cleric) of the Cloven Hoof coven. Their patron is Dispater. Nice, great choice. Though there is a note that if you have BRW Games product Darker Paths 2 - The Witch you can use that for these NPCs. 

There are some new spells and two new magic items.

It feels like it can be played in an afternoon or longer setting, maybe 6 hours. Faster if the PCs figure out what is going on. 

Adventure Module V2 - Red in Tooth and Claw
Adventure Module V2 - Red in Tooth and Claw

PDF. 12 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.
Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 2nd to 3rd level.

This one takes place six months after the first adventure in the series. Following the pattern laid down at the time of the earliest adventures this one now includes some hex-crawling with some random encounters. These are encountered before the party returns to Volage. Indeed this module is very explicitly a hex crawl to investigate the area around the Hamlet of Volage.  So there is no true purpose or "victory condition" nor should there be. The purpose is the exploration of the surrounding area. Though there is the threat of the Dark Star Coven. Details have to be uncovered before the next adventure can take place.  There is a nice little teaser about the "Queen of Witches."

I will admit I not 100% sure why it has to be 6 months later except to allow a season to pass. 

The most fun here are the werewolves in the woods. 

Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble
Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble

PDF and softcover book. 20 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.
Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 3rd to 5th level.

For this one I have both the PDF and softcover versions. Also, we are given our first real and proper introduction to the "Witch Queen" none other than Natasha.  It has everything a good adventure should have. Plots and intrigue, a ruined tower, cultists, caves, giant bugs, new monsters and new spells.

In this one, you have to stop the Dark Star coven dedicated to Natasha. 

Again the witches of Natasha are presented as clerics or you can use the BRW Witch class.

I also admit I find the modules colored in Red, Blue, and Green to be very esthetically pleasing. 

Use with my War of the Witch Queens

Given the events here I think I would combine this all into one "Super-module." They can be easily combined and it would work well.  For me I would need to decide if I needed another Iggwilv stand-in or not. I love that the first adventure uses Dispater. In my own games there is something of an open war between Dispater and Orcus. I could convert these Natashian witches into Mara or Demonic witches following Orcus. I would need to up the undead, but that is never a bad idea. Of course, I bought these BECAUSE they featured Natasha/Iggwilv. I could insert a Witch Queen as a proxy for Orcus, much like Natasha is an intermediary for the demons worshiped by the Dark Star Coven. this adventure is located in the Vesve Forest, sorry the Sesve Forest. That is near the Yatil MountainsYahdel Mountains where part of the third adventure takes place.  Hmm.

Ok here is what I am doing. Everything is largely the same, but I am swapping out Natasha for Xaltana, the Vampire Witch Queen. She combines elements of Iggwilv and Drelzna. Though I currently have her as a Hyperborean Witch Queen. Well, that is not a problem since I still have The Witch-Queen of Yithorium and Methyn Sarr and they are too busy fighting each other to worry about others.

Xaltana is a dead/undead Witch Queen. When the High Witch Queen is murdered she stirs enough to be able to gather followers again. She is this Oerth's Natasha (see note about an alternate reality) instead of Graz'zt/Grash’t as her paramour it will be Orcus.


This all gives me:

  • A chance to use Xaltana and a reworked Lost Caverns of Acheron later on.
  • A chance to play out my rivalry between Dispater and Orcus, something I will detail later.
  • Frees up Iggwilv/Natasha to do other things. 
  • Helps differentiate Xaltana from Darlessa another Vampire Witch Queen. 
  • Gives me an excuse to add more demonic powers to Xaltana.

Given this is going to be an "Alternate Universe" I might even make Adventures Dark and Deep characters for my group that are the alternates of their OSE characters. Not too difficult really. The purpose would be to make the players also feel a bit out of sorts. The rules are close enough to use for this and yet different enough. 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Thursday, October 13, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Dungeon Crawl Classics Witch Queen Adventures

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Witch Queen
Up first is an update and an important one at that. It was while I was reviewing this adventure in 2015 that I thought that the War of the Witch Queens came to me. I figure I should revisit it now.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Witch Queen

PDF from DriveThruRPG. 84 pages. Monochrome cover and black & white interior art.

This is a meaty module.  84 pages, covers, maps, and OGL still leave a lot of pages for content.

First off, if you are not familiar with Dungeon Crawl Classics modules they are meant to emulate a certain feel of early 80s play.  They went on to create the game Dungeon Crawl Classics, but the adventures are still largely OSR compatible. Actually, I didn't see a single thing in this adventure that screamed ts should be used for one system or the other, though on the cover they claim "1e." That is good enough.

This adventure is actually 3 adventures in one.  Legacy of the Savage Kings, The Lost Passage of the Drow, and War of the Witch Queen (which I will discuss later).  Each one is a different part of the Witch Queen's plan.

Reading through this adventure is one part excitement for the new and one part excitement for the nostalgia.  For the new, I wanted to learn more about Kyleth (the eponymous Witch Queen and not to be confused with Keyleth) and the tome Ars Maleficus.  The nostalgia comes from many little easter eggs throughout the pages that call back to adventures of the TSR days.  I am convinced the Mad Hermit here is the same as the one in the Keep on the Borderland for example.  There are also hints of influences from Vault of the Drow, Ravenloft, and even the rest of the GDQ series.  In fact, the second adventure, "The Lost Passage of the Drow" could be slotted into the D series and no one would be the wiser.   Replace Baba Yazoth with the proper Baba Yaga and have one of the many adventures she features in as a side trek.

There are a number of named characters that would work well as witches, Maeve, Baba Yazoth, and of course Kyleth herself.   While using the title of "Witch Queen" Kyleth is only an 8th-level Magic-user.  Make her a 9th or 10th-level witch and then you have something really scary.

Does it work with The Witch? Yes, absolutely.  There is a number of great items and story points in this adventure for any witch character.  In fact, I would say that any good witch would want to see Kyleth taken out on general principle.  Plus there are a number of encounters and NPCs that would benefit from the rules in the Witch.  Night Hags get more spell-casting powers for example and the medusa can also have some levels of the witch class.

Of course, there is the issue of Kyleth being one of The Thirteen. The Thirteen most evil wizards, witches, and necromancers in the world.  She was the newest member, who are the other 12, and what are their plans?  Is anyone up for an adventure against the Legion of Doom?  I might have to come back to this idea. I can see witches, vivamancers, blood mages, evil wizards, and necromancers as part of this evil cabal. Each provides something different.

About the physical book. The book is 80 pages and printed on very heavy paper.  It is softcover, but the binding looks good. With the heavy paper and glossy cover, I expect this to hold up to wear and tear.  The cover is bound on, so no taking it off to use as a GM screen with maps.  I am glad I have this as a PDF too to print out the maps and the handouts.  I am really, really happy with this module.

UPDATE: Of course, I took this idea and ran with it making Kyleth one of the many Witch Queens that is gathering at the Tredecim. Kyleth was my first choice as the murderess of the Witch Queen, but I quickly dropped that idea. If Kyleth had kill the High Queen then her ambitions would be greater. No Kyleth is an opportunist. She sees the tide turning and decides now is her time to strike. 

Dungeon Crawl Classics #17.5: War of the Witch Queen
Dungeon Crawl Classics #17.5: War of the Witch Queen

PDF. 28 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art. 

This is the precursor to the larger Saga of the Witch Queen. I grabbed it to have a complete collection and to see if there were any differences between this and the newer version. I would still love to get my hands on a printed copy.

This adventure is designed for D&D 3.5/d20 OGC.  This means converting it to Pathfinder is really a non-issue. More to the point we can convert Kyleth from an 8th-level Sorcer to an 8th-level witch.

The main differences here between this adventure and the counterpart Saga adventure, War of the Witch Queen is that this is for D&D 3.5e and Saga is for AD&D 1e. They are the same adventures with very minor tweaks.  

Both send the PCs on a quest to stop and kill Kyleth the self-styled Witch Queen. It is a straightforward dungeon crawl. This is not a weakness, but rather its strength. 

The obvious question is do you need this one if you have Saga of the Witch Queen? I say yes since the systems are different (but can be converted). 

Lady Kyleth the Witch Queen

Use in War of the Witch Queens

Well...yeah. In fact, many of the reasons I wanted to do a War of the Witch Queens can be found here. The other obviously was my love for all these witches.

Kyleth is fun because she can be so unapologetically evil. Even if I was not doing this campaign she would be a great reoccurring antagonist.

Lady Kyleth Witch Queen

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc

The Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc

Another witch Queen tonight and this time she comes in Pathfinder 1e and D&D 5e versions.  So let's jump right in.

The Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc

For Pathfinder 1st Edition and D&D 5th Edition.

This adventure series was Kickstarted back in 2020.  I am grabbing the versions found on DriveThruRPG. It looks like the PDFs were sent out as soon as the Kickstarter finished from what I can tell.

I will be reviewing both versions and pointing out where the differences lie.

PDF. 84 pages. Color covers and interior art. Levels 3 to 6.

Before I get into the adventure itself I do want to say something about Page 3 which covers the basics of how "Zan's Adventures" work and the layout.  I know there is no reason at all that people need to conform to a "book" layout, especially since many people will read this on some sort of device. The adventures do not follow a book layout per se, but they do add a few things. For starters, color is used more to denote different sorts of outcomes or text. This is great, unless you have some sort of Red-Green color blindness. Rare yes, but these are the things I look for.

But there are some very strong benefits here as well. For example, the NPCs, including the Witch Queen herself, are well-defined in easy-to-read blocks to aid the DM/GM while running the adventure.  Same with the locations. 

The areas are defined as our three main antagonists. It is possible that one or more are freed from their tombs to enact their evil plans. Well we have character sheets in the back for those. Also, there are other NPCs and a ton of monsters to interact with.  Now given that one of the encounters is not 1 but 2 Death Knights, I think this one should be scaled up a bit. When I run it I might use just one Death Knight with skeletal minions.

There is a whole section of possible outcomes and endings. The adventure is not quite a free-form sandbox, your locations are limited, but how the players investigate them are up to them.

The biggest differences in these two come from the NPC and Monster statblocks and how the various skill checks work. All in line with the rules of Pathfinder and D&D.

The end has maps you can print out. There is also an additional product, Map Pack for the Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc for VTTs and Roll20 in particular.  I also find these are good to print. For an extra $2.00 it is worth it to me.

There is an OGL at the end, but the author might want to swap out "DM" in their text for "GM" for OGL compliance.

All in all not a bad adventure. Pretty straight forward to be honest. There are some new monsters so that is fun. I would have liked to see some unique treasure if nothing else the Spellbook of Witch Queen Morfa.

Use in War of the Witch Queens

Evil witch queen coming back from the dead? I wonder how that could happen in my world?  Hmm...

Yes, this is a good candidate for a War of the Witch Queen adventure.It practically is begging me to use it. Since there is no POD version (yet) I can print this out and then do the 5e material on one side and the Pathfinder on the other. But that is also moot since I am going to convert the whole thing over to Old School Essentials anyway.

A note about that.  Whether by design or by happenstance (I am going with design) the game-specific material is usually confined to a single page. So doing a conversion is largely a matter of writing up (or copying) a stat block or converting a DC for a skill check into an ability check. THIS also makes the layout and design more useful to me. 

So yeah, I am rather pleased with this.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Curse of the Web Witch & Return of the Warlock

Two adventures tonight for me to consider for my War of the Witch Queens and both are from Creation's Edge Games.

Return of the Warlock
Return of the Warlock

PDF. 10 (14 with maps) pages. Color cover. Black & White interior art.
For 4-6 adventurers of levels 2nd to 4th.

A skull taken as a trophy has the trapped spirit of our warlock here, one Kalis Magefire. He has escaped and has taken hostages demanding to fight the heroes that killed him. Too bad those heroes have been dead for years.

The adventure sounds simple enough. The warlock's spirit has taken control over the hall built dedicated to the heroes that defeated him. He know wants to fight those heroes. Failing that you all will do.

Sneak in, defeat the warlock, save the hostages. 

The strength in this adventure will be how easy it can be adapted to nearly any setting or set-up. 

I would recommend that the "heroes" used here be from your own campaign. If you (like most of my fellow graybeards) are now playing with a different group the name drops might not have the same resonance, but it will still be fun.

Curse of the Web Witch
Curse of the Web Witch

PDF. 10 (14 with maps) pages. Color cover. Black & White interior art.
For 4-6 adventurers of levels 2nd to 4th.

Another mini-adventure that could be run in the afternoon. A cursed artifact from a forgotten god has transformed a priestess into a horrible monster, a web witch!

The PCs have to track her down (not too hard) and destroy the artifact.

This one has a few new monsters including the Web Witch.  All in all quite a fun little romp.

The web witch here is fun and I like the stats, but I think I would rather use the web witches I made a few years before this one.

Again, like the Return of the Warlock this one can be easily adapted to any world. In fact, it is recommended you do so. 

About Dungeons of Dazegoneby

Both of these adventures are part of their "Dungeons of Dazegoneby" line of adventures. Here is what the author Matt Kline has to say about that:

I can remember a time in my distant past when I could head to the local mall walk into one of the two bookstores they had at the time, plunk down around five dollars, and walk out with a brand new Dungeons & Dragons module. Our Dungeons of Dazegoneby line is a tribute to old-school gaming, paying homage to a time filled with graph paper maps, wandering monster tables, hand-drawn character sheets, and lazy afternoons filled with adventure and wonder. We hope you enjoy playing these products as much as we enjoyed making them.

Damn. I could have written that myself! So yeah I get what they are doing here and I am happy they are doing it.  The maps from Dyson Logos really help.

Use in my War of the Witch Queens

Return of the Warlock is an easy one to fit in. The Witch Queen dies and the Warlock breaks free.  The Curse of the Web Witch will need a bit more work, but just a little. With the obvious spider theme here it might a fun one to do with a bunch of new characters, but the same players, after they do the GDQ series. Have this as an artifact of Lolth.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Monday, October 10, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Witch of Wydfield

Witch of Wydfield
A while back I downloaded the adventure The Witch of Wydfield by Brave Halfling Publishing.  It is a fun adventure and is designed for 0-level characters for Dungeon Crawl Classics. I used it as a "Session 0" with new B/X characters for the War of the Witch Queens.

I'd love to put up a review of the adventure itself, but it is no longer available from DriveThruRPG. It is however still available if you download the Map Bundle.

The Witch of Wydfield (Adventure)

PDF. 10 pages, color cover, black & white interior. 

By John Adams & Colin Chapman. Art by Steve Zieser & Mark Allen.

This is a Level 0 Adventure for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, something they call "the funnel" it is a great idea but I used it for B/X, handing out copies of the Moldvay Basic red book to all the players.

The adventure is pretty strait forward. It is a classic Hammer Horror-style Witch Hunt. Honestly, put on Rush's Witch Hunt or The Necromancer and you have the vibe perfectly.

There is one location, the witch's cabin. The monsters are her minions. We ran it all on cold winter's afternoon and evening.  Kill the witch, save the girl, and collect the treasure.

The adventure is gritty DCC RPG which is a great start for me and this campaign.

The Witch of Wydfield (Map)

My family loves terrain, minis, and maps. So the map for this was a big incentive for them to play. I spent a Christmas afternoon printing out the maps and gluing them to cardboard. I did the outside on one side  (with flaps for secret areas) and the witch's lair on the other. Worked so fantastic that I really want to use it for something else now.

We augmented it all with some terrain my youngest 3D printed and some trees and other materials we bought from Michael's craft store. 

Witch of Woodfield

Note: If you buy the Map and Adventure bundle you do not need to buy the map alone. But the Map and Adventure bundle is the only way to get the adventure now. 

War of the Witch Queens

This was the first adventure I used for my War of the Witch Queens campaign. I knew the campaign was going to use some flavor of Basic D&D rules. 

Since this is a DCC adventure for 0-level characters I had everyone roll up three characters.  All very simple. I used the classic Moldvay Basic rules and had everyone choose Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, or Thief at 0 level.  Once everyone got to 1st level I had them specialize into an OSE Advanced Class. My goal was to say "yes" first and then direct them to something that works.

I had everyone roll 2d6+3 for stats. Yes, that made them all rather low on their abilities, but they are also just starting. I then had them roll another 1d6 per ability (arrange as wanted) when they got to the 1st level.  This did make their abilities a touch higher than average.  I am ok with that. 

Since they were super low-level and below-average at that point I said they are all refugees from another village destroyed by terrible weather. This was of course the first "attack" of the evil witches with the Witch Queen now dead.  No queen means the more evil elements of the witchcraft world are running free.  The witch of this adventure is another such witch.

Also, I had Yulina's dying words be "the Queen is dead."  Dela the girl they saved also said this as they gave her back to her parents in the village. The phrase has come up a few more times since this adventure. 

I had plenty of copies of Moldvay Basic so everyone had one.  I used my Old-School Essentials book and my GM1a Game Master's Screen from New Big Dragon Games Unlimited.  Since one of my goals is to use as many different kinds of OSR products as I can, I think I am off to a good start. Everyone had so much fun.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, October 9, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: DL15 Mists of Krynn

DL15 Mists of Krynn
When I talk about witches and D&D one of the last places that usually comes to mind is Krynn and Dragonlance. BUT believe it or not, there are some strong connections between my witches and the first Dragonlance Trilogy.  Usually this can be summarized with me thinking that "this could use some more witches" where the "this" is the trilogy.  Witches are mentioned in the first book but that was only a tease.

So. How does DL15 Mists of Krynn fit into all of this? Glad you asked.

DL15 Mists of Krynn

PDF. 128 pages. Color covers and maps. Black & white interior. 

This book contains 12 mini-adventures (pages 2 to 100), nine discussions on various creatures and races unique to Krynn with adventure hooks or lairs, and eight NPCs. I printed the monster section out and stuck it into my Dragonlance Monstrous Compendium binder.

I am going to be upfront here and say this is not a review of the entire book, but rather just of the mini adventure The Tanglewood Keep, and I'll briefly touch on one of the NPCs, Ladonna.

The Tanglewood Keep

This adventure is a basic MacGuffin hunt, but it has some nice features about it. First off it was written by a friend of the Other Side Vince Garcia. I have featured his Quest of the Ancients RPG many times here.  Secondly, while the adventure is simple, that is its greatest strength. It is not really about the quest to find a stone, it is about getting the PCs from their home world (Greyhawk or now the Realms) to Krynn via the magic mirror in the adventure.

The characters are introduced to kender, tinker gnomes, and draconians in short order. They get the full Dragonlance introduction before the mud on their boots from their home world is even dry.  

I ran this one for my family at home and at Gen Con 2021 and in no short order they all wanted to kill poor Twil Topknot! It was a fun adventure and I am glad I got to do it.

Twil Topknot

The book itself does have an "Adventure Path" feel about it with adventures to take the characters from the 1st to 15th level. Tanglewood Keep is for adventurers of 1st to 3rd level. If you want to play in Krynn and don't want to do the War of the Lance, or do what I did and have it as a "background noise," then this is a good choice.

This adventure also introduces us to the magic-user cough*witch*cough Stevie. I'll get to her later.


I admire the layout of this book. Everything is rather modular with the monster/race bits fitting on a front and back page (reading the PDF) and the NPCs fitting one per page. It makes printing this out rather convenient.

Ladonna is another entry from Vince. She is a 17th-level black robe (aka evil) wizardess. But you would be forgiven if you read her entry and didn't think she was a witch. I mention her here since, well she is witchy and from Vince Carcia.

Stevie aka Sarana

In the adventure, we meet Stevie. She is a 12th-level white-robed Grey Elf wizard. Given the adventure is for characters levels 1 to 3 there is no way the PCs are going to mess with her. Her description is pretty much Krynn's Stevie Nicks. I mean she is better qualified to go get her rock than the characters are. So is Twill for that matter. But none of that is important really. What is important is the fact she is here. 

Stevie also has a not-too-coincidental resemblance to another Garcia character, this time it is Sarana from his Quest of the Ancients.  

For my run of this, I combined Stevie (grey-elf) and Sarana (human) into one character, Sarana (half-elf). Seriously if I had pulled out a witch-like character named Stevie in front of my family they never would have taken her seriously. They know who I am.  Much like the PCs, Sarana is trapped here from her own world. Unlike the PCs she has decided to remain.

War of the Witch Queens hook

At the end of the adventure Sarana/Stevie tells the group she fears the Queen is dead.

Sarana aka Stevie

Honestly. If I never get to the other adventures these NPCs, the little adventure, and the monster pages has all made this a great choice for me. 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, October 8, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Reign of Winter

Reign of Winter: Snows of Summer
When Pathfinder wanted to introduce us to their witch class they did so with a lot of pomp, circumstance, and many great adventures. The Magnum Opus of this has to be their Adventure Path: Reign of Winter.

Once again we are taken to Irrisen and to the court of Witch Queen Elvanna. Only now her reign is at an end and she won't go quietly.  The PCs have to intervene.

Reign of Winter Adventure Path

Six adventure books, print (oop), and PDF. Full-color covers and interior art. Each book 100 pages.

First a bit about the adventure paths. Paizo created their adventure path idea largely as a means to to support  D&D 3.5 and then their Pathfinder Core RPGs. They were a direct competition the D&D Adventure League (in format anyway).  While D&D has moved on to larger hardcover adventures for 5e now, Pathfinder was still doing the Adventure paths in six or so various softcover adventures for characters 1 to 20.  

Land of Ice and Snow

Reign of Winter dealt with the Witch Queen Elvanna, daughter of Baba Yaga, and her machinations to keep control of Irrisen now that her reign of 100 years is over. There is involvement with Baba Yaga, her dancing hut, the Demon Lord Kostchtchie, The Mad Monk Rasputin, AND none other than THE Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova.  Now I have been a fan of Baba Yaga for decades, but I also am a huge fan of the whole mystery of Anastasia Romanova and whether she could have still been alive.  So all of this and add world hopping on top of it all?  Yeah! Sign me up!

While I have all of the adventures and supplementary materials in PDF, I am missing a couple of the physical books.  I did grab as many of the minis as I could.

Each adventure has an overview outline of the major events to help explain what will happen. Lots of new monsters, NPCs, great-looking maps, and more. I will say this, Paizo goes all out on these.

Each Adventure path module is released every month, so a half of a year from start to finish.

Adventure 1 (of 6): Snows of Summer

The PCs start at 1st level and should end the adventure at or around 4th level. This is the adventure that introduces them to Irrisen.  The hook is winter is moving southwards and encompassing more lands.  It is here that we learn that the Great Witch Baba Yaga has been captured and imprisoned. 

Adventure 2 (of 6): The Shackled Hut

Here the PCs must find Baba Yaga's famous hut and use it to find her. But there is an entire city filled with monsters between them and the hut. And then they have to deal with the Winter Witches. This adventure is for PCs 4th to 7th level.

Adventure 3 (of 6): Maiden, Mother, Crone

The PCs are transported around the world. They end up in another frozen wasteland of Iobaria on the far-off continent of Casmaron. Here they find three magically linked dungeons and the secrets of the Demon Lord Kostchtchie the Deathless.  
A note about Kostchtchie. Back in the late days of TSR the notion came about that Orcus was once a human. I always hated that notion. Now we get the same thing here with Kostchtchie and I like it. It works so much better for him than for Orcus.

This adventure is for PCs levels 7 to 10.

Adventure 4 (of 6): The Frozen Stars

In a true world-hopping adventure the PCs will take the Hut to Triaxus, the seventh world in Golarion’s solar system, now in the midst of its decades-long winter (of course!). Here the gain useful information on the whereabouts of Baba Yaga.

This adventure is for PCs levels 10 to 13.

Adventure 5 (of 6): Rasputin Must Die!

Now THIS is an adventure! You have to go to Baba Yaga's home world of Earth in 1918 to retrieve her and stop her captor the Mad Monk Grigori Rasputin himself. The PCs have to face him, his minions and 20th-century tech of WWI. 

I have to admit for a lot of reasons this one might be my favorite out of all six. 

This adventure is for PCs levels 13 to 15.

Adventure 6 (of 6): The Witch Queen’s Revenge

The PCs have found Baba Yaga but she is trapped in a matryoshka doll. They have to free her AND still defeat Queen Elvanna and put a new Witch Queen on the throne.

This adventure is for PCs levels 15 to 17. Leaving the last three levels for something else I guess. 

Adventure 7? Witchwar Legacy

Interestingly enough the adventure I reviewed a couple of nights ago, The Witchwar Legacy, is for characters level 17 and up. It also features contact with the Witch Queen Elvanna of Irrisen.  In fact it reads like a rough draft to this adventure. It was written by Greg A. Vaughn who wrote the Witch Queen's Revenge.  If I used this then it would need to be the new Queen of Irrisen or Baba Yaga that sends them on their way.  I am safe in saying "new Queen" because if the PCs don't defeat Elvanna in Adventure 6 they will surely be dead.

Personally, I like this plan. Given that I have an overabundance of Winter Witches I could run this independently of my War of the Witch Queens.

The Witch Queen’s Revenge

Maybe I'll convert the whole thing to Pathfinder 2 or D&D 5/One D&D someday and run that. There is just too much fun stuff here NOT to use.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


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