Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dark Ages Mage

Dark Ages Mage
Ah! World of Darkness. 

We have had some great times together. And some not so great.  But I never grow tired of picking up a WoD book (new, old, Chronicle, whatever) and seeing what is going on.  As you can imagine Mage was a particular favorite of mine. I loved all the lines but Mage: Sorcerer's Crusade was my favorite.  Dark Ages: Mage though has a lot going for it though too.

The Game: Dark Ages Mage

As it turns out, Dark Ages: Mage requires you to have Dark Ages: Vampire as opposed to Mage: The Ascension or Mage The Sorcerer's Crusade.  That is of course fine, but not what I was expecting for character creation.

Still. This gives the Dark Ages line a sort of continuity that would be both a blessing and curse that the "modern" line did not have and would not have until we get the "New Wolrd of Darkness" in the start of this century.   The year is 1230 AD and stuff is bad all over.  Dark Ages of the World of Darkness. That's like double dark.   

If you have played any of the World of Darkness games then you know what to expect. There are not as many "Traditions" as we will see in Mage, but it does give us a good idea of how they all got here. 

Since we are still in the Dark Ages let's do one of the descendants of Lars and Siân.


The Character: Lowis Larsdottir

Lowis is a reincarnation, future incarnation, past-life or something weird and magical in relation to my Larina. I was playing in a WitchCraft game with her and then I also started a Mage: The Ascension game and wanted to play the same character.  I decided they were the same, but parallel worlds.  This got me on a path where there are many versions of my witch out there and all are more or less aware of the others. 

Lowis here has a Welsh first name and a Nordic last name and I suspect she lives on the continent somewhere.  Maybe Italy or Austria. 

witch
Photo by JJ Jordan from Pexels
Lowis Larsdottir
Initiate

Nature: Pedagogue
Demeanor: Fanatic
Fellowship: The Old Faith

Cabal: Followers of Aradia
Mentor: Gezzie

Physical
Strength 1
Dexterity 2
Stamina 3

Social
Charisma 3
Manipulation 2
Appearance 3

Mental
Perception 3
Intelligence 3
Wits 4

Talents
Alertness 1, Awareness 2, Empathy 2

Skills
Animal Ken 2, Crafts 3, Herbalism 3, Survival 1

Knowledges
Academics 2, Cosmology 1, Enigmas 2, Hearth Wisdom 3, Linguistics 2, Medicine 1, Occult 3, Theology 1

Backgrounds
Mentor 1, Chantry 2, Familiar 2, Library 3

Foundation (Spontaneity) 2

Pillars
Autumn 3, Spring 1, Summer 2

Lowis is new to the Old Faith.  She knows the faith has been handed down over the generations and now she has been awaked to it. As a merchant's daughter, she is afforded some luxuries and can read. She is also a steadfast member of her faith and wants to see it spread.  She is not quite "run naked through the woods" but she is getting there. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Yggdrasill

Yggdrasill
Today is part 2 of my two-part character creation.  Yesterday I re-introduced you all to Siân ferch Modron and the game Keltia.  Today is her soon-to-be husband, if they don't kill each other first, Lars son of Nicholas from the RPG Yggdrasill.

The Game: Yggdrasill

Like Keltia, Yggdrasill is from the French publisher Le 7ème Cercle (The 7th Circle) and was published in English first by Cubicle 7.  Now it is published in English exclusively by Le 7ème Cercle.  The games have a lot of similarities in rules and in tone, so using them together is expected really. The production values for Yggdrasill are higher, with full-color pages and a stylized character sheet, and it leads me to believe it was the newer game. However, the publication date of it is 2009 and Keltia is 2012.

Yggdrasill is, as you might imagine, a game of the Epic Sagas of the Vikings and Norsemen.  I do have to point out that "Viking" is not a group of people but rather describes what they do.  It is handy for describing the era though, 800 AD to 1100AD or so.  Already we are talking about a time period later than what we see in Keltia which is usually depicted in the 100AD to 500AD era.  This works out well for me since I would want to play in a time that is an overlap of the eras; the end of the Druids and the rise of the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and, well yes, the Vikings. Maybe there was a time when Northmen raiders came ashore to Ireland or Wales and encountered Druids. Maybe not.  That is why we have games.  

Also like Keltia, there is a TON here that I could use with Troll Lords' Codex Nordica and visa versa. All four books combined? Now there is a campaign worth playing! 

I have to admit one of the reasons I was drawn to both of these games was that the art for the Volva (witch) archetype, reminded me so much of Larina.

Volva

The Character: Lars son of Nicholas

Lars got his start a little bit before Siân did.  Lars' name of course was easy, I knew my witch Larina was named after her father because of the red hair they both share. Nicholas, or sometimes Nichols, was named for a professor I had at the beginning of my Ph.D. studies.  I imagined him as a traveling scholar, from somewhere far away, maybe in the North.  His travels brought him to a new land where everything was the most verdant green as far as the eyes could see. He was born a Northman, but he was an Irishman in his heart.  The rest came easy.

In this version, Lars came to Cymru (Wales) while traveling on a ship. He was to sole survivor of a shipwreck.  He was to be sacrificed but his ability to play the harp showing he was a Bard (Skald in his world) saved him.

Lars Nicholasson
Lars son of Nichols
Lars Nicholason
Archetype: Sage
Profession: Skald
Kingdom: Denmark

Runes: Ansuz+, Perth+, Mathr-
Gifts: Initiate (Galdr), Scholar
Weakness: Curious

BODY
Strength: 2
Vigor: 2
Agility: 2

MIND
Intellect: 2
Perception: 2
Tenacity: 2

SOUL
Charisma: 2 
Instinct: 3
Communication: 2

Reaction: 6
Physical Defense: 6
Mental Defense: 7
Move: 4
Enc: 4

HP: 37

Furor Pool: 6

Skills
Art (Skaldic) 7, Eloquence 7, Languages (Norse, Brythonic) 2, Sagas 7
Galdr 7
Long Weapons 3

Incantations
Illusion: Hearing (3), Sight (6)
Charms: Sleep (3)

Like Keltia there is a LOT to go with here.

While reading over this I just HAVE to make a Finnish Volva/Witch of Tasha/Iggwilv. That would be a lot of fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Keltia

Keltia, the Chronicles of Arthur Pendraeg
First of a two-parter today!  I delve into a game I REALLY wanted to play more of, but is now out of print from it's English publisher.  The games are Keltia and Yggdrasill, two games that really capture the feel of the Post-Roman Celtic and Norse worlds.  Both use the same base system and both really grab my attention. Today for part one I will focus on Keltia.

The Game: Keltia

Keltia, or Keltia, the Chronicles of Arthur Pendraeg, is from the French publisher Le 7ème Cercle (The 7th Circle) and was published in English first by my good friends at Cubicle 7.  The game is set roughly in the years following the exit of the Romans from Britain.  There are mentions of Roman civilization and Christianity, but this is a purely Celtic world.  Or rather, it is a world of the Celts of Myth, Legend, and Folklore.

It is the Dark Ages, but this isn't the one you read about in history books. This is a game-world; so not Britain exactly, but Ynys Prydein.  It uses a lot of Welsh so already it has my undivided attention.

This game is quite good and character creation was pretty fast.  Again, there are a lot of options and I really must come back to this one in the future.  I can see using this in conjunction with Troll Lord's Codex Celtarum for Castles & Crusades.  Both cover similar ground and one would easily work as a background and as a supplement for the other.

I am rather fond of the Mind/Body/Soul stat groups.  I was working on something similar a long time ago, but that work eventually became NIGHT SHIFT.

Lars and Siân

The Character: Siân ferch Modron

In a lot of ways Siân is not just the main reason I wanted to try out Keltia, she is also the reason I wanted to do this challenge.   Siân ferch Modron is the mother of my iconic witch Larina.  Tomorrow I will feature her father Lars. If you have been a long time reader here you will recognize her as also being one of my playtest characters for The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition for Old-School Essentials.

Siân (along with Lars) was featured with her "Irish" name, Siân nic Stefon.  She is the daughter of Stefon and Modron; nic and ferch being the Irish and Welsh (respectively) way of meaning "daughter."

These though are Siân's and Lars earliest days.

Siân is the daughter of a Druid and High Priestess, so she follows in her mother's footsteps and will become a high priestess as well. She is a bit haughty and this comes out in her Arrogance weakness.  She certainly feels her culture is superior to all others.  It is not until she meets Lars, a "Gogleddwr" (Northman), that her ideas begin to change.

Siân ferch Modron
Siân

Siân ferch Modron
Archetype: Wise One
Profession: Priestess of Avalon
Kingdom: Cymru

Gifts: Blood of the Ancients, Scholar
Weakness: Arrogant

BODY
Strength: 1
Vigor: 2
Agility: 2

MIND
Intellect: 2
Perception: 3
Tenacity: 2

SOUL
Charisma: 3
Instinct: 2
Communication: 2

Reaction: 7
Physical Defense: 6
Mental Defense: 6

HP: 26

Furor Pool: 6

Skills
Art (song) 3, Knowledge (Ritual) 7, Languages (Brythonic), Ogham 7, Traditions 6
Awen 7
Short Weapons 3

Spells (Priestess of Avalon)
Sense Awen 1, Blessing of the Gods 1, Read Omens 1, In the Arms of Dôn 1

I like how this character is shaping up.  I would use Keltia and the Codex Celtarum to inform how she would be played in Old-School Essentials.

Looking forward to seeing how her future husband turns out tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Of all the RPGs I have looked at so far it is this one I know the least.  Part of the issue is that Pathfinder 2nd Edition is so new, only published in 2019, and I have not had the chance to play it really at all.  Indeed I wasn't even going to pick up but my oldest expressed an interest in playing it so we got it.   He would later return to his true love, D&D 5, but I found I rather liked the books myself.

The problem I am running into here, for today, is I do have so little knowledge about it.  So little in fact that my plan for today was to update a character I had played in PF1 but I only now discovered that the class I wanted, Cavalier, has not been updated to PF2 yet! Though other options are open to me.

The Game: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

As I mentioned Pathfinder 2nd Edition was released back in 2019.  I recall the Paizo "booth" (more like "block") staked full of shiny new Pathfinder books.  I am sure they expected them all to sell out, but I get the feeling that the sales were not as high as they wanted.  Not a huge surprise really.  Pathfinder 1st Edition's success was built on their success with the D&D 3.5 products they had made and no small amount due to the failures of D&D 4th Edition.  Today, or at least in 2019, D&D 5 is a huge success and some gamers have gone from Pathfinder back to D&D.   

Also as I said I was not originally going to pick this game up, but I changed my mind after going over the playtest materials and my son wanting to get it.  There are a lot of really cool ideas here and some I think would work well in D&D 5. For example, Ancestry would be better in D&D 5 over the very outmoded "race" or even the awkward "species."

Much like a software development fork, Pathfinder represents one development off of the D&D 3.x line where D&D 5e is a different fork.  To be fair, Pathfinder is closer to its OGC roots than D&D 5 is, but looking at the games in 2021 you see similar parentage and DNA.  This means that someone could in theory bring the best of both worlds back together into one game.  An interesting thought experiment to say the least.  

One thing I will say for Pathfinder 2nd Edition.  It is designed from the ground up to show new players how to play and give them enough to keep them for a long time.  I think it would be fun to play a character in this from 1st to 20th level in a well-crafted adventure path.  I can see how that would be great.

The Character: Oisín

Character creation in Pathfinder 2 is a more modern process than the games in its, well, ancestry.  While you could easily roll up a character here just like you did in AD&D or D&D 3.x, it behooves me to follow the process here.

Oisín was a character I played in Pathfinder 1st Edition. In the game he was the youngest son of this powerful lord and a witch.  In reality, I decided he was the son of a Paladin/Warrior named Fionn and my witch Labhraín.  In the game, he was searching for who killed his mother and who his true father was. 

In Pathfinder 2nd Ed. we have a variety of character customization options that recreating that character is no longer as interesting as rebuilding him from the ground up.

For this character, I am going to use the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rules and the Advanced Player's Guide which features the witch class.  Also for this character, I am going to start him at 1st level, but advance him to 2nd.  Also, just because, I am going to limit my 1st level choices to the Core Rules, and then 2nd level choices to the Advanced Player's Guide. I have my reasons.

Oisín

Niamh and Oisín

Lawful Neutral half-elf*
Bard 1

Ability Scores
Strength +0 (10)
Dexterity +1 (12)
Constitution +0 (10)
Intelligence +3 (16)
Wisdom +1 (12)
Charisma +4 (18)

Reserves
Hit Points 16/16
Hero Points 1/3
Focus Points 1/1

Defenses
AC 15 (Leather)
Fort +3
Ref +4
Will +6

Senses
Perception (Wis) +6 (E)
Low-light Vision

Tactical
Speed 25ft
Size Medium
Space 5 ft.
Reach 5 ft.

Other
Wealth 2 gp; 80 sp
Bulk 4/10

Attacks (1st/2nd/3rd Strike)

Dagger
Melee +4 / +0 / -4 1d4 Pier
Ranged +4 / +0 / -4 1d4 Pier

Fist
Melee +4 / +0 / -4 1d4 Blud

Longsword
Melee +3 / -2 / -7 1d8 Slsh

Hand crossbow
Ranged +4 / -1 / -6 1d6 Pier

Sling
Ranged +4 / -1 / -6 1d6 Blud

Skills
+6 Academia Lore T
+1 Acrobatics U
+6 Arcana T
+0 Athletics U
+6 Bardic Lore T
+6 Crafting T
+7 Deception T
+7 Diplomacy T
+4 Intimidation U
+4 Medicine T
+4 Nature T
+6 Occultism T
+7 Performance T
+4 Religion T
+6 Society T
+1 Stealth U
+4 Survival T
+1 Thievery U

Feats
Half-elf (Heritage)
Otherworldly magic (Elf, Ancestry)
Assurance - Arcana (Background)
Bardic Lore - Egnima (Bardic Feature)
Composition Spell (Bardic Feature)

Spells

Bard Cantrips
Chill Touch (DC 17) Unlimited +7
Daze (DC 17) Unlimited +7
Light Unlimited +7
Mage Hand Unlimited +7
Shield Unlimited +7

Bard 1st-level Spells
Magic Missile 2/2 +7
Magic Weapon 2/2 +7
True Strike 2/2 +7

I will be honest, this one took me a lot longer to do than expected.

I choose "Half-elf" as both a nod to the original myths of Oisín and to reflect there is something otherworldly about him.  He would not really be a traditional "AD&D Half-elf" more of a human with fey or sidhe blood in him from his father.

At 2nd Level instead of a Bard class feat I am going to take a multi-classed witch feat, Witch Dedication.    Multiclassing in Pathfinder 2nd Ed is a little bit like multiclassing in D&D 4 where you take a feat to gain some of the abilities of that class. This feat gives Oisín access to witch spells and feats as well as a Patron (including skills), and a familiar. 

Since Oisín has Engima as part of his Bard training I am going to choose a Fate Patron. Though there is some overlap here. He would get training in Occultism skill and the True Strike spell, both of which he already has.  I am going to leave this since the Egnima he is following is Fate; they are the same.

This is of course not optimized, but it fits better with my concept of the character, so I'll take the hit. In building this I realized I had unintentionally built the Pathfinder version of the Ghosts of Albion Occult Poet.  I am not unhappy with that.

Again, this is a good character idea, I might try to replicate it in D&D5 with a Bard/Warlock mix, I think it might actually work out a little better there.

Maybe I can even work out his Niamh one day.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Pathfinder 1st Edition

Pathfinder Core Rulebook
Paizo's Pathfinder was a bit of a revolution in the RPG market.  Paizo had been a solid d20/3e publisher in the heyday of the d20/OGL boom, with the zenith of this time actually publishing Dragon and Dungeon Magazines for a time. When WotC opted to move on to 4e, Paizo began their work on an update to the 3.5 OGC ruleset for their own game.  In 2009 the Pathfinder RPG was released and soon there became two "Big names" in the RPG biz; Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. 

The Game: Pathfinder, 1st Edition

Pathfinder quickly took on players that played D&D 3.x but who did not want to go on to D&D 4. Pathfinder was informally called "D&D 3.75" and moving between Pathfinder and D&D 3.x was fairly trivial compared to D&D 3.x and 4e.  Additionally, Paizo gave Pathfinder robust support both in terms of online presence and their Pathfinder Organized Play.  Releasing the rules as an open playtest was deemed so successful that many other companies, including WotC for D&D5, adopted it.

Paizo also released a number of high-quality sourcebooks, many of which are backward compatible with D&D 3.x. I am particularly fond of the Advanced Player's Guide, Book of the Damned, Bestiary 4 (for the mythos monsters), Occult Adventures, and Horror Adventures. I consider these part of my "core" for Pathfinder.  The witch-centric "Regin of Winter" Adventure Path is a must-have for me.

I have posted a lot about Pathfinder here. I enjoy the game but I don't play it all that much anymore. Still, I enjoy reading over the material.

My "Core" Pathfinder books

The Character: Labhraín

I played in a Pathfinder game that I treated as an alt-Universe version of my 3e/4e game universe. I held the idea that the two universes I was playing (4e vs. Pathfinder) had a similar start (3e) and then diverted.  The Pathfinder universe had devils as their "big bad" while 4e (running the Orcus-themed HPE series) had demons. Some characters were the same in each world.  Labhraín was the Pathfinder version of Larina. 

Here, because of the influence of various devil cults from the former Chelaxian Empire, Labhraín hid her status as a witch.  I took a page from "Prime World" Larina, who faked being a wizard to hide as a witch, to Labhraín faking being a priestess to hide being a witch.  I did not do much with the character but use her as a backstory to my cavalier character that I was playing at the time.  The belief was that Labhraín was dead.  I detail my other character tomorrow.

ePic Character Generator portrait of a witch
ePic Character Generator
Labhraín

Human (Ulfen) witch 1 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide 65)
LN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +0; Senses Perception +1

Defense

AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10
hp 7 (1d6+1)
Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3; +1 trait bonus vs. divine spells

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Special Attacks hex (charmAPG)
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +4)
   1st—charm person (DC 14), cure light wounds
   0 (at will)—daze (DC 13), light, read magic
   Patron Fate

Statistics

Str 9, Dex 11, Con 11, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +0; CMB -1; CMD 9
Feats ScholarISWG, Silent Spell
Traits classically schooled, history of heresy
Skills Bluff +4, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +4, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (religion) +6, Spellcraft +8
Languages Common, Elven, Infernal, Jistka, Skald
SQ witch's familiar (cat named Scamall)

Special Abilities

Charm +1 (3 rounds, DC 13) (Su) Improve attitude of humanoid or animal in 30 ft. by 1 step(s).
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Familiar Bonus: +3 to Stealth checks You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Scholar (Knowledge [arcana], Knowledge [religion]) +2 bonus on two Knowledge skills.
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Silent Spell Cast a spell with no verbal components. +1 Level.
Witch's Familiar (Ex) Gain the services of a special familiar that stores spells.

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at https://www.wolflair.com Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Inc.®, and are used under license.

I like the way she turned out to be honest.  It's a shame that I think she might be dead! 

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition

We now come to what be the most popular version of D&D ever published in terms of units sold and public discussion.  While the debate can be held on the relative popularity of 1st ed vs. 5th ed one thing is certain that 5e has outsold all other versions of D&D and has introduced a new generation to the game that has been unprecedented. 

The Game: Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

I have described D&D5 as being something akin to the "Greatest Hits" of D&D.  I see bits of 1st ed here, 2nd Ed there, lots of 3e, and even bits of 4e.

Released in August of 2014 we (my family and I) were not originally going to pick it up.  I still had a ton of 4e material and my sons were looking seriously at 1st Ed to give it a try, but we starting hearing more so I grabbed the "D&D Next" playtest materials and thought, ok, let's give it a try.  When August 8, 2014, rolled around the boys and I went out at midnight to get our copies (and tacos).

5e quickly became the home system here.  My oldest ran games for his friends from high school and then college, he even ran games with his gaming group that has been together since they all met in pre-school.  My oldest played and eventually started the Table Top Club at the local high school. Between the two of them, they must have gotten somewhere around 40-50 new players to the game.  Of course many had heard about it via Critical Role first but remained players to this day. 

The Characters: The Coven

right away I was asked if I was going to do a witch for D&D 5.  Certainly, there are a lot of good reasons for me to do one, but in truth I was pretty happy with a lot of the options that D&D 5 already gives me. Plus I wrote my Old-School witch only after years of playing, writing and playtesting. Even when I published my first OSR witch book in 2012 I had over 30 years' worth of playing under my belt and a few published books.  I didn't want to just knock together something and slap a 5e label on it.

Plus with the advent of the DMsGuild (and 5e adopting the OGL) there were and are plenty of witch options from others for 5e. I spent all of October detailing them

So instead of making a witch class, I worked on characters that were RAW but I could make witchier.

I worked out some ideas and called them "The Coven."  The idea here was to take a very basic old-school idea.  Take a class and play it how I like.  In each case, I took a by-the-book spellcasting class and took the options to make them feel more like a witch.  The idea behind this group of witches is they all met in The Library, each searching for a particular tome.  All six managed to end up at the same place at the same time and each one wanted the same book, the infamous Liber Mysterium.  As it turned out the author of the Liber Mysterium, my iconic witch Larina, was present. She took all six under her tutelage.  Each class is a magic-using, spell-casting class, and each one has some connection to learning or deeper mysteries.  They all adventure and make appearances in my games as information brokers. 

Since I am doing six characters today I am going to link out to their sheets on D&DBeyond.

Tayrn Nix
Half-elf Warlock (Fey Pact)

Taryn was the first "witch-like" character I tried.  She is Larina's half-elf daughter.  She is a warlock, fey pact, and is my "embrace the stereotype" witch character.

Celeste Holmes
Human Wizard (Sage)

Celeste was a character I was planning on creating when I was going to go back to 1st ed before 5th ed came out.  She would have been a Magic-user but playing as a witch.  She was the first character I imagined going to The Library.  Felica Day is my model for this character.

Cassandra Killian
Human Sorcerer (Divne Soul)

With a backdrop of The Library, Cassandra became a no-brainer.  She is very obviously modeled after Cassandra Cillian from the Librarians played by the lovely Lindy Booth. She is also a nod to another character in my shared world. When my High School DM went off to college he created more of his world and a character named Killian.  Killian was major figure in his world and he created many adventures to go with it; Killian's Tower, Killian's Maze, Killians Dungeon, and so on. True old-school Gonzo affairs. 

For my Cassandra, I wanted someone whose magic felt like second nature to her. She didn't learn it so much as live it. So the Sorcerer seemed like the best route. Know of the great wizard Killian she took his name as her own.  She was the second character to enter the Library.

Jasic Winterhaven 
Gnome Bard (College of Lore)

Jasic is a character I have used off and on since my 3e days. I will admit he was created as a response to so many people I have gamed with saying how much they hate gnomes.  Jasic is a great guy.  He is a bard but I play him like a Benandanti witch.  He is also best friends with Taryn.

Sasha
Cleric (Knowledge Domain)

Sasha is an interesting one. She is a tiefling and claims to be the daughter of Glasya and is Taryn's Half-sister (same father, different mothers). She is a cleric, but again I play her like a witch priestess. I would suppose that the closest analogy would be if Sabrina (from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) was Rowena's (from Supernatural) daughter instead of Lucifer's.  She is wanted by all the key players in Hell's Hierarchy but she herself has no power or pull beyond what she gets from her Goddess Cardea/Hecate (clerical).  Cardea led her to the Library.

Áedán Aamadu
Human Druid (Circle of the Land)

Áedán is a druid pagan who is the son of my two druids from OSE, Asabalom and Maryah. They were great friends with Larina (that is they were all part of my OSE playtests and games in summer of 2019).  Áedán is a circle of the land druid that I play as a pagan. Yes his name is Irish, but he looks like Will Smith.  I am pretty sure that he and Taryn are going to have a thing. 


Each one brings something different to the table for me.  I can't wait to convert them back to Basic/OSE for my War of the Witch Queens!

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dark Places & Demogorgons

Next to NIGHT SHIFT, Dark Places & Demogorgons is one of my favorite Old-school inspired, modern horror games.  It is similar and yet very different from NIGHT SHIFT and I really enjoy it.

The Game: Dark Places & Demogorgons

I have talked a lot about this game on these pages. Basically, it is the "Stranger Things" the game using the very same 80s inspired D&D that the show used.

The Character: Taryn Nix

Taryn is the daughter of my iconic witch Larina. She is my "Teen Witch" archetype, so a perfect follow-up to my Sabrina post AND a great choice for the teen-centric Dark Places and Demogorgons.

If Larina is my go-to witch for fantasy games then Taryn is my go-to for teen games. 

I imagine her as a little rebellious and an expert flyer/broom-rider.

For this build, I am using the White Witch options from the DP&D Player Options & GM Guide.

While I always thought of Taryn as a Millenial/GenZ girl, she is named after "Taryn" from the Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Which I might admit is my favorite.

Taryn "Nix" Nichols

Class: White Witch  Level: 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English, Latin
Age: 13

Attributes
STR: 9 +0
INT: 14 +1
WIS: 15 +1
DEX: 13 +1
CON: 17 +2
CHA: 18 +3
SUR: 16 +2

AC: 10     HP:  10   Attack Bonus +0

Courage: 8
Critical: 5
Death: 5
Mental: 6
Poison: 3

Background
Mother is a Witch, her father is some sort of supernatural creature. 

Class Abilities
+1 to all saves against magic, +3 to Courage saves, Likable aura (+1 Charisma & +1 to Death saves), Healing Touch x5 a day (1 HP healing to living, 1 HP damage to undead, devils, or demons), heal at double rate, Toughness: Evil +2

Familiar
Black cat, "Mojo".

Skills
Art +4, Math +3, Science +3, Knowledge (Magic) +5, Paranormal +5, Botany +3

Possessions
Bike, Broom of Flying

Money: $45

Spells
Minor (1): Glammerd Appearance

Perfect really.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Witch Week Review: The Great American Witch

Let's start off the week with a game that is brand new.  How new? It was only two months ago that I was interviewing the author and designer, Christopher Grey, for the Kickstarter.

Last week or so I go my physical copy in the mail and codes for my DriveThruRPG downloads.  That was fast.  So such a speedy response deserves a review. 

The Great American Witch
by Christopher Grey

For this review, I am considering the hardcover, letter-sized book, and the PDF.  On DriveThruRPG you get two different layouts of the core book (1 and 2 page spreads), and several ancillary files for the covens and the crafts.  I was a Kickstart backer and got my products via that. Both the hardcover and the pdfs are available at DriveThruRPG.

The Great American Witch is 162 pages, all full color, with full color covers.  The art is by Minerva Fox and Tithi Luadthong. There are also some photos that I recognize from various stock art services, some I have even used myself.  This is not a criticism of the book; the art, all the art, is used effectively and sets the tone and mood of the book well.

The rule system is a Based on the Apocalypse World Engine variant.  Over the last couple of years I have had mixed, to mostly negative feelings about the Apocalypse World Engine.  Nothing to do with the system itself, but mainly due to how many designers have been using it.  I am happy to report that the version being used in TGAW is a stripped-down version that works better for me.

It is also published by Gallant Knight Games, who has a solid reputation.  So out of the gate and barely cracking open the book it has a lot of things going for it.

The Great American Witch is a cooperative, story-telling game of witches fighting against perceived injustices in the world.  I say "perceived" because of what injustices the witches fight against is going to largely depend on the witches (and the players) themselves. The framework of the game is built on Grey's earlier work, The Great American Novel.  TGAW is expanded from the earlier game.

Like many modern games, TGAW has a Session 0, for everyone to come together and talk about what the game should be about, what the social interaction rules are, and what the characters are.  The older I get the more of a fan of Session 0 I become. As a Game Master, I want to make sure everyone is invested in the game, I want to be sure everyone is going to have a good time. So yes. Session 0 all the way.  The first few pages detail what should be part of your Session 0.  It's actually pretty good material that can be adapted to other games. 

The game also wears its politics on its sleeve. Frankly, I rather like this. It helps that I also happen to agree with the author and game here. But besides that, there is something else here.  This game takes the idea, or even the realities and the mythologies of the witch persecutions and "Burning Times" and revisions them into the modern age.  It is not a bridge to far to see how the forces of the Patriarchy and anti-women legislation, politics, and religion of the 16th to 17th centuries can be recreated in the 21st century. After all, isn't "The Handmaids Tale" one of the most popular and awarded television programs right now? There is obviously something to this.


The main narrative of the game comes from the players themselves.  The Guide (GM) plays a lesser role here than in other games; often as one running the various injustices, NPCs, or other factions the players/characters/witches will run up against.  The system actually makes it easy for all players to have a character and rotate the guide duties as needed.

True to its roots games are broken down into"Stories" and  "Chapters" and who has the narrative control will depend on the type of chapter.  A "Story" is a game start to finish. Be that a one-shot or several different chapters over a long period of time.  A "Montage" chapter is controlled by the players. A "Menace" chapter is controlled by the Guide. A "Mundane" chapter is usually controlled by the player and the details of that chapter are for that character alone.  "Meeting" chapters involve the characters all together and are controlled by them. "Mission" chapters are the main plot focus that move the story forward. "Milestones" are what they sound like. This is where the witch would "level up."

The game uses three d6s for the rare dice resolution. Most times players use a 2d6 and try to roll a 7 or better. "Weal" and "Woe" conditions can augment this roll. The author makes it clear that you should roll only when the outcome is in doubt.  There are a lot of factors that can modify the rolls and the conflicts faced.  It is assumed that most conflicts will NOT be dealt with with a simple roll of 7 or better. The author has made it clear in the book and elsewhere that more times than average a conflict is not just going to go away like defeating a monster in D&D.  Conflicts are akin to running uphill, that can be accomplished, but they will take work and they will not be the only ones.

Once gameplay is covered we move into creating the player character witches. The book gives the player questions that should be answered or at least considered when creating a witch character. Character creation is a group effort, so the first thing you create is your group's Coven.  This also helps in determining the type of game this will be as different covens have different agendas.  There are nine different types of Covens; the Divine, Hearth, Inverted, Oracle, the Storm, Sleepers, the Town, the Veil, and Whispers. Each coven has different specialties and aspects. Also, each Coven has a worksheet to develop its own unique features, so one Coven of the Storm is not exactly the same as another Coven of the Storm from another city or even part of the city.  These are not the Traditions of Mage, the Covenants of the WitchCraftRPG, or even the Traditions of my witch books.  These are all very local and should be unique to themselves.  Once the coven is chosen then other details can be added. This includes things like how much resources does the coven have? Where does it get its money from? Legal status and so on. 


If Covens cover the group of witches, then each witch within the coven has their own Craft.  These are built of of archetypes of the Great Goddess.  They are Aje, the Hag (Calilleach), Hekate, Lilith, Mary (or Isis), Spider Grandmother, and Tara.  These are the Seven Crafts and they are the "sanctioned" and most widespread crafts, but there are others.  Each Craft, as you can imagine, gives certain bonuses and penalties to various aspects of the witch and her magic. Aje for example is not a good one if you want a high value in Mercy, but great if you want a high number in Severity and mixed on Wisdom.   All crafts are also subdivided into Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects of the witch's life.   

Character creation is rather robust and by the end, you have a really good idea who your witch is and what they want.

The Game Master's, or Guide's, section covers how to run the game. Among other details, there is a section on threats. While there are a lot of potential threats the ones covered in the book are things like demons, vampires, other witches, the fey, the Illuminati, ghosts and other dead spirits, old gods and good old-fashioned mundane humans. 

The end of the book covers the worksheets for the various Covens and Crafts.  You use the appropriate Craft Sheets for a character.

The PDF version of the book makes printing these out very easy.  It would be good for every player to have the same Coven sheet, or a photocopy of the completed one, and then a Craft sheet for their witch.

While the game could be played with as little two players, a larger group is better, especially if means a variety of crafts can be represented.  Here the crafts can strengthen the coven, but also provide some inter-party conflict. Not in-fighting exactly, but differences on how to complete a Mission or deal with a threat.  After all, no one wants to watch a movie where the Avengers all agree on a course of action from the start and the plans go as though up and there are no complications.  That's not drama, that is a normal day at work.  These witches get together to change the world or their corner of it, but sometimes, oftentimes, the plans go sideways.  This game supports that type of play.

The Great American Witch works or fails based on the efforts of the players.  While the role of the GM/Guide may be reduced, the role and responsibilities of the players are increased.  It is also helpful to have players that are invested into their characters and have a bit of background knowledge on what they want their witch to be like.  To this end the questions at the start of the book are helpful.

That right group is the key. With it this is a fantastic game and one that would provide an endless amount of stories to tell.  I am very pleased I back this one.

Plays Well With Others, War of the Witch Queens and my Traveller Envy

I just can't leave well enough alone.  I have to take a perfectly good game and then figure out things to do with it above and beyond and outside of it's intended purposes.  SO from here on out any "shortcomings", I find are NOT of this game, but rather my obsessive desire to pound a square peg into a round hole.


Part 1: Plays Well With Others

The Great American Witch provides a fantastic framework to be not just a Session 0 to many of the games I already play, but also a means of providing more characterization to my characters of those games.

Whether my "base" game is WitchCraftRPG or Witch: Fated Souls, The Great American Witch could provide me with far more detail.  In particular, the character creation questions from The Great American Witch and Witch: Fated Souls could be combined for a more robust description of the character. 

Taking the example from WitchCraft, my character could be a Gifted Wicce.  Even in the WitchCraft rules there is a TON of variety implicit and implied in the Wicce.  Adding on a "layer" of TGAW gives my Wicce a lot more variety and helps focus their purpose.  While reading TGAW I thought about my last big WitchCraft game "Vacation in Vancouver."  Members of the supernatural community were going missing, the Cast had to go find out why.  The game was heavy on adult themes (there was an underground sex trafficking ring that catered to the supernatural community) and required a LOT of participation and cooperation to by the player to make it work. It was intense. At one point my witch character was slapped in an S&M parlor and I swear I felt it! But this is also the same sort of game that could be played with TGAW. Granted, today I WAY tone down the adult elements, but that was the game everyone then agreed to play.  The same rules in TGAW that allow for "safe play" also allow for this.  The only difference is that those rules are spelled out ahead of time in TGAW. 

Jumping back and forth between the systems, with the same characters and players, and a lot of agreement on what constitutes advancement across the systems would be a great experience.  

I could see a situation where I could even add in some ideas from Basic Witches from Drowning Moon Studios.  

Part 2: Traveller Envy

This plays well into my Traveller Envy, though this time these are all RPGs.  Expanding on the ideas above I could take a character, let's say for argument sake my iconic witch Larina, and see how she manifests in each game.  Each game giving me something different and a part of the whole.

Larina "Nix" Nichols
CJ Carrella's WitchCraft RPG:
Gifted Wicce
Mage: The Ascension: Verbena
Mage: The Awakening: Path Acanthus, Order Mysterium
Witch: Fated Souls: Heks
NIGHT SHIFT: Witch
The Great American Witch: The Craft of Lilith OR The Craft of Isis.*

There is no "one to one" correspondence, nor would I wish there to be. In fact, some aspects of one Path/Order/Tradition/Fate/Craft will contradict another.  "The Craft of Lilith" in GAW is a good analog to WitchCraft's "Twilight Order" and the "Lich" in Witchcraft: Fated Souls.  But for my view of my character, this is how to best describe her. 

* Here I am already trying to break the system by coming up with a "Craft of Astarte" which would be the intersection of Lilith and Isis.  Don't try this one at home kids, I am what you call a professional.  

Part 3: War of the Witch Queens

Every 13 years the witch queens gather at the Tredecim to discuss what will be done over the next thirteen years for all witches. Here they elect a new Witch High Queen.

One of the building blocks of my War of the Witch Queens is to take in as much detail as I can from all the games I can.  This is going to be a magnum opus, a multiverse spanning campaign.

What then can the Great American Witch do for me here?  That is easy.  Using the coven creation rules I am planning to create the "coven" of the five main witch queen NPCs.  While the coven creation rules are player-focused, these will be hidden from the players since the witches are all NPCs.  They are based on existing characters, so I do have some external insight into what is going on with each one, but the choices will be mine alone really. 

Looking at these witches and the covens in TGAW they fit the Coven of the Hearth the best.

Coven of the Hearth, also known as the Witches' Tea Circle (tea is very important to witches).  
Five members, representing the most powerful witches in each of the worlds the Witch Queens operate in.
Oath: To work within witchcraft to provide widespread (multiverse!) protection for witches
Holy Day: Autumnal Equinox. Day of Atonement: Sumer Solstice. Which was their day of formal formation as well.
Hearth: A secured build in an Urban setting.
Sanctuary: Lots of great stuff here, and all of it fits well.
Connections & Resources: Organization charged with finding those in need.

Going to the Coven Worksheet:

Resources: Wealthy coven (they are Queens)
Makes money? A shop.  Let's say that the "Home, Heart & Hearth" stores from my own Pumpkin Spice Witch book are the means to keep this operation funded.
Distribution: Distributed based on need.
Status: Mainstream.  They ARE the mainstream.
Importance? Witches need to come together.
Mundanes? Mundanes are important. but not for the reasons listed. Mundanes are the greatest threat.
Influence: Extraordinary.
Members: Five or six local, but millions in the multiverse.
Authority: Through legacy and reputation

Wow. That worked great, to be honest.

Here's hoping for something really big to come from this.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Larina Nix for NIGHT SHIFT

Let's start off Witch Week with my iconic witch Larina for NIGHT SHIFT on what I consider to be her birthday.

This is the version I used for playtesting. It is the same version I use to playtest a lot of my games. The great thing is I know her stats and how they play in all sorts of games, so this works great for me.

Larina by ePic Character Generator
Larina "Nix" Nichols

13th level Witch, Human

Strength: 9 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0) 
Constitution: 11 (0)
Intelligence: 18 (+3) s
Wisdom: 18 (+3) s
Charisma: 18 (+3) P

HP: 33 (7d6)
AC: 8
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +6/+4/+2
Melee bonus: +2  Ranged bonus: +2
Saves: +6 to spells and magical effects

Special Abilities: Arcana, Casting 115%, Enhanced Senses, Telekinesis, Innate Magic, Shadow Walking, Empathy

Skills: Sleight of Hand (Dex), History (Int), Literature (Int), Theology/Myth x2 (Int), Insight (Wis)

Languages: English, Latin, Greek, Welsh, Danish

Spells
1: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Magic, Disrupt Undead, Magic Missle, Read Languages  
2: Continual Flame, ESP, Invisibility, Locate Object
3: Clairvoyance, Fly, Protection from Fire, Pyrotechtechics
4: Arcane Eye, Cure Serious Wounds, Daylight, Produce Fire
5: Commune, Dismissal, Teleport
6: Enchant Item, Feeblemind
7: Ball of Sunshine

I am rather pleased with this write-up, to be honest. 

Equally, I am very happy with NIGHT SHIFT. I have really been able to create any sort of modern supernatural character I want and play them the way I want.  It has really worked out well. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Happy Birthday Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson!

Busy work today so I didn't plan on posting, but I saw that today is Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira's birthday today and I just had a mark the day!

Cassandra Peterson was born on September 17, 1951 and had a variety of jobs including go-go dancer, a model for men's magazines, Vegas showgirl, Tom Waits album cover model, and more.  But it is her baudy "Valley Girl Vampire" inspired character Elvira that most people know her for.

I had this poster in my dorm 1987.

She rose to stardom when she was hired to take over "Fright Night" on KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. The show was renamed "Movie Macabre with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" and she became so popular that she soon was getting national attention.  She even got her own movie, "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark" which at best can be described as a Scooby-Doo plot.   

To return the favor she was featured in 2019's "Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island" and in 2020's "Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!"



Elvira also has an RPG connection, however small.  Pacesetter released "Evenings of Terror, featuring Elvira" back in 1985 and it was one of the last (if not the last) Pacesetter produced products for Chill.



Elvira played the roll of hostess to nine mini adventures that had various horror movie influences. As a product it was actually quite fun. 

While Elvira is a great character, Cassandra Peterson is a great person.  I have been following her and Elvira since the early 80s.  I guess it is not really a shock that my iconic witch Larina has red hair and blue eyes.





And because I can,
Get your little Elvira here



Links

Saturday, August 8, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 8 Shade

I was going to do something today on Shadow Elves and the Shadar-kai, but I am going to hold off on that since my son pointed out some more 5e material on them. 

So lets go with another favorite Shade of mine.  Djinn in the Shade.

Djinn is a a very talented artist who loves to draw her D&D characters and others.  
I featured her as a Featured Artist a while back (and I really need to do more of those).   But she is just so much fun I was looking for any excuse to talk about her again.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, but the best place is her Pateron site where she has a lot of art. 

Now a lot of it ranges to the adult to the very adult end of the spectrum, but all of it is so much fun.

I am particularly pleased with all the art she has done for me over the last year or more, including a lot of my iconic witch Larina. 

In fact she rather loves my little witch and has included here in this AWESOME comic where all her patrons of her Pateron site submitted their D&D characters to a pirate cruise, battle, and party afterward.

The battle itself is a little too risque even for my blog! But here are some pieces of it.



To see all the rest you will have to become a patron. Want to join here D&D parties like these? Then absolutely become a patron.

You can find her at:

Friday, August 7, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 7 Couple

I could go a number of places with this one, but I think I know what, or more to point, who I want to talk about.

Back when I was working The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition I wanted to go back through my years of notes, not just on witches and witchcraft or even my notes on playing a B/X-style game, but on who were the Pagans I was trying to represent.  So I took a two-pronged approach.

Lars and Siân from HeroForge

First. I looked to the rules I was going to be using.  In this case, it was the Old School Essentials from Necrotic Gnome, in particular, the Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules. That was the feel I was going with.  

I wanted to create some characters to mimic the feel of a "pagan world."  At the same time I was organizing my other RPG books and was thumbing through the game Keltia and it's companion game Yggdrasill.  Both really captured the feel I wanted in a "Pagan World" game.   So I took two character concepts from here, one from each game, and looked to translate them into OSE, Rules As Written.

What character types fit this notion of both Celtic and Norse/Scandinavian Paganism?

Simple. The Druid and the Bard.  Both classes have their roots in Pagan Europe and might even be two of the most "pagan" classes out there save for the Barbarian. 

Since my iconic witch Larina is often used to test my new witch classes once they are written, I wanted these two other characters to be my tests for the materials I was still writing.  I like to keep my variables to a minimum when playtesting, so starting with established classes is always my first choice.  If Larina is my witch, then these are the parents of the witch.  Who they were now was easy.

Introducing Lars & Siân

Since I was playtesting a Pagan game I used our world circa 350-500AD.  Lars is a Bard from Denmark. He was a member of a raiding party heading towards the British Isles.  I choose to ignore the Romans there for this since it worked out better for me.  The ship that Lars was on was beset by terrible storms (same sort that would bedevil King James over a 1000 years later) and his ship, and all the raiders were lost.  
He washed ashore in Wales (they had gone through the English Channel.  I never said they were good or even smart raiders) and was encountered by the locals where they nursed him back to health.  They recognized that he was a bard (or a skald in his own language) and thought it would be ill-advised to harm him.  He was given over to the protection of Siân, a druidess.  If this sounds familiar then I essentially ripped off the story of Amergin Glúingel and his journey to Ireland. Though Lars was not a Milesian.
There was some initial mistrust, but soon they fell in love and consummated their relationship on Beltane night.  Some 38 weeks later, Larina was born.

It amused me to use these characters, ones really brand new to me, to be the parents of a character I know so well. 

Lars
Lars, son of Nichols 
Lawful Male Human Bard, 12th level

Str: 13
Int: 17
Wis: 16
Dex: 14
Con: 13
Cha: 18

HP: 42
AC: 5 (leather armor, ring of protection)

Spells
First: Detect Danger, Predict Weather, Speak with Animals
Second: Cure Light Wounds, Obscuring Mists, Produce Flame
Third: Hold Animal, Protection from Poison, Water Breathing
Fourth: Cure Serious Wounds, Summon Animals

Lars, despite his name, is not based on Lars Ulrich. If anything he based on a combination of Donovan and Van Morrison. 


Siân
Siân nic Stefon 
Neutral Female Human Druid, 12th level

Str: 10
Int: 16
Wis: 18
Dex: 12
Con: 12
Cha: 17

HP: 38
AC: 5 (leather armor, ring of protection)

Spells
First: Animal Friendship, Entangle, Faerie Fire, Predict Weather, Speak to Animals
Second: Barkskin, Create Water, Cure Light Wounds, Obscuring Mists, Slow Poison
Third: Call Lightning, Hold Animal, Protection from Poison, Tree Shape, Water Breathing
Fourth: Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, Protection from Fire & Lightning, Temperature Control
Fifth: Commune with Nature, Control Weather, Transmute Rock to Mud, Wall of Thorns


I once said "I don't explore dungeons, I explore characters" and I had a great time exploring these two.

It's like reading the Superman stories that take place on Krypton before the planet explodes. Here I explored the Pagan world before Christianity took over (appealing) AND two characters that shaped one of my most important characters. 

I loved using HeroForge to make these as well.  Lars has Larina's face and hair color. Siân has the same body and staff as my first version print of Larina so many years ago.  This pleases me to no end.  Siân's face is that of a half-elf with human ears since I consider her to have a bit of sidhe blood in her, but that is true of all the Welsh I think. 

I might have to get these. They are two of my new favorite characters. Plus I am so pleased with how the different versions of Larina turned out I am going to have to get her mom and dad!

For those that are curious, yes, I am working on a Digest sized version of Craft of the Wise. Out very soon I hope!