Showing posts with label WotWQ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WotWQ. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Mail Call: Night Shift, More Witch Queens and Rat Baby!

Quick one today.  Yesterday's mail brought me some wonderful gifts.

Mail Call

Up first are the new books for the NIGHT SHIFT RPG.  The Night Companion and a new "Night Trip" A Faustian Dilemma.   These are both the babies of my co-author Jason Vey.  You can now get both at the Elf Lair Games store.

I do have a new "Nigth World" in Night Companion.  My "Weirdly World News" where you get to play tabloid reporters try to get that ever-elusive story that proves the supernatural is real, and hope there is a good paycheck in it. 

This book also introduces the world the everyone's favorite cryptid, Rat Baby.

Weirdly World NewsRat Baby Spotted!

 Kickstarter backers will be getting their books now. I knew I was on the end of the list for my copies.

Night Shift

I also got a new Witch Queen adventure in the mail again from Carlos A.S. Lising and casl Entertainment.

When Come the Witching Hour

As you can see, this one also features Iggwilv as the titular Witch.

The Witch Queen

I am going to give this one a review and hope it is as fun as The Witch-Queen's Lament was.  I think I am going to restructure my War of the Witch Queens adventures just a bit. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Witch-Queen of Yithorium

I was cleaning up some links on my Witch Links page and I noticed a few I had from the Halls of the Mountian King, the blog of the recently passed Jason Zavoda. He posted a bit about Hyperborea, nee AS&SH, including the Witch Queen of Yithorium.  I also found a lot of material for his own Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches.

Jason was very well respected in the Greyhawk community and I thought it might be a nice tribute to expand on his ideas some, but more importantly, share his ideas all with you.  Up first, the Witch-Queen of Yithorium.

The Witch-Queen of Yithorium

There is not a lot of text on who the Witch-Queen of Yithorium is except for what she wants now.

The official Hyperborea forum has a little on her background.  She is a nod/homage to Howard's witch Salome in "A Witch Shall Be Born." She rules from a 100’ tower of alien origin that immediately reminded me of Clark Ashton Smith. She is immortal, ever young, and has ruled Yithorium for nearly 700 years.  She obviously knows what to do.  

Jason provides the most information about the Queen herself in his post.  He uses a picture of Judith from the Bible as his inspiration.  Much like Salome (the namesake of Howard's witch) Judith is known for her association with a decapitated man. John the Baptist for Salome, Holophernes for Judith.   We gather from his post (and others) she was a beautiful woman, small but voluptuous, with long raven tresses.  Naturally, I think of Sarah Douglas.  

We know she is a witch and uses a type of magic unknown to her lands. We learn it is blood magic and that no one in the City-State of Yithorium knows where she learned it.  I am going to say, given the work that Jason has done, that she learned it all in Blackmoor

There are no official stats for the Witch Queen of Yithorium in the Hyperborea books.  She doesn't even have a proper name really. 

The Witch Queen of Yithorium
The Witch Queen of Yithorium

Female Witch 12th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Human
Secondary Skill: Torturer

Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Casting Ability: 12
Fighting Ability: 5
Saving Throw: 11

Hit Points: 36
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 9

Powers
Brew Decoction (x5), Familiar, Read Magic, Scroll Use, Scroll Writing, Sorcery, New weapons skills (3), Dance of Beguilement (5th level), Effigy (5th level), Enlist Henchment (6th level), Animate Broom (7th level), Lordship (9th level).   

Spells 
First: Alter Self, Charm Person, Detect Magic,  Shocking Grasp, Unseen Servant
Second: Darkness, Ghoul Touch, Infernal Tounges, Ray of Enfeeblement, Witch Fire
Third: Dispel Magic, Exploding Skull, Phantasm, Summon Dæmon I
Fourth: Black Tentacles, Mirror Mirror, Sorcerer Eye, Summon Dæmon II
Fifth: Anti-Magic Field, Summon Dæmon III, Summon Elemental
Sixth: Gelatinize Bones, Transfer Youthfulness


Hyperborea Witch



The Witch Queen of Yithorium
The Witch Queen of Yithorium

Female Witch, Blood Tradition 13th level
Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 36
AC: 9

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level: Evil’s Touch 
13th level: Detect Bloodline

Spells 
Cantrips: Black Flame, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading
First: Bewitch I, Darkness, Feel my Pain, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Silver Tongue
Second: Alter Self, Disfiguring Touch, Ghoulish Hands, Scare, Share My Pain, Suggestion
Third: Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Lifeblood, Summon Spirit, Witch Wail
Fourth: Divination, Phantom Lacerations, Polymorph, Spiritual Dagger
Fifth: Bewitch V, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Spiritual Dagger, Summon Nightmare Steed
Seventh: Wave of Mutilation 

For this witch, I am using a combination of the Family, Maelific, and Mara Traditions. 

While I am perfectly happy to keep her nameless, or only as "The Witch Queen," I am thinking of giving her the proper name of Miriam, to keep with the Biblical theme I have established here. Of course, no one besides her would know that. 
 
The Witch Queen

Hyperborea has always been a large part of my plan for the War of Witch Queens, at least in terms of how witches are presented.  At one point it was going to be my system of choice for the campaign, but I have since settled on OSE.  Still, Hyperborea has a lot to offer me. 

I typically mix in a fair amount of Barbarians of Lemuria into my Hyperborea games. So it might be fun to have Miriam, the Witch Queen of Yithorium be the rival of Methyn Sarr, the Witch Queen of the Fire Coast.  Each thinking the other is the lesser witch while worried that the other might have access to some magic they do not.  They seem to be cast from the same mould, that of Salome of "A With Shall Be Born," but one taking to fire magic and the other blood magic.  I don't think they were/are sisters in the biological sense but maybe they are former coven sisters. Once allies or even friends and now bitter, hated rivals.  If Sarah Douglas is my model for the Witch Queen of Yithorium, then my choice for Methyn Sarr would have to be Emma Samms. Not too far of a stretch since she was the uncredited performance/body model for Princess Teegra in Ralph Bakshi's "Fire and Ice." 

Links

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Review: The Witch-Queen's Lament (OSRIC Adventure)

The Witch-Queen's Lament
A couple of weeks back I noticed a posting in one of the Greyhawk groups on Facebook about a new adventure. It was called The Witch-Queen's Lament so you know it immediately had my attention. The adventure was designed for OSRIC and had an old-school module look and feel to it.  I didn't know much about it to be honest, but I was sure I was going to get it.  I went over the publisher's website, casl Entertainment, and bought a copy of the PDF and perfect bound softcover.  While I was predisposed to like it, getting the PDF made me quite excited for it.

The Witch-Queen’s Lament

An adventure for character levels 6-9 (70,002 total experience points) for OSRIC or compatible games. PDF and softcover available, 95 pages.

This adventure is "compliant" (I think "compatible" is the word they want, it is "compliant" with the OGL) with OSRIC.  This really means it can (read should) be used with AD&D 1st Edition.  It will work with other games too, but more on that.

This adventure is designed for Tournament play. That is why we have the 70,002 XP value on it and there is a tournament scoring sheet.  IF you wish to play this adventure with tournament rules and scoring my advice is do not change anything about it.  I have run a few tournament adventures with scoring and this one feels like it put together well. My concern would only be can you fit it into the four-hour time slot?  I am 100% certain that author Carlos A.S. Lising has and has done so many times.  I am not sure *I* could do it.  That all being said I want to look at this from the point of view of a campaign, and my War of the Witch Queens campaign in particular. 

So let's start back at the beginning.  This adventure was the official Tourneyment adventure for GrogCon 2021.  Looking over their catalog it looks like they have run a few adventures at other old-school cons as well.  This bodes well.  The adventure was written by Carlos A.S. Lising, with cover and interior art by Daniel Govar, and cartography from Glynn Seal.  Carlos A.S. Lising is a huge fan of module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth which is also one of my favorites. This makes me optimistic for this adventure.

Now when this was announced for sale there was a little bit of wailing from the usual suspects in regard to the module code, G2, on the cover.  With many complaining that this was not really G2.  Sorry but the TSR G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl is over 40 years old now and neither TSR nor Gygax owned the letter G.  I am sure the G, in this case, stood for "GrogCon."  If this bugs you, be like Elsa and let it go.

On to the adventure proper.  We learn right away that the eponymous Witch-Queen is none other than "Natasha the Dark" aka Tasha, aka Tashanna, aka Zyblina, aka Iggwilv herself!  Ok. You now have my undivided attention.  We get a bit of backstory on Natasha the Dark including her becoming a Daughter of Baba Yaga, and her sisters Vasilisa (Elena) the Fair and Anya the Plain.  Anya is going to be our focus here since she has gone missing with Natasha's matryoshka doll. This was no ordinary doll, this nesting doll held a bit of Natasha's soul/life force and has kept her immortal for centuries.  Natasha, it a bit uncharacteristic token of love, gave the newly enchanted doll to Anya for safe-keeping, knowing her sister would love it and cherish it. The side effect has been that as long as Anya has the doll she will also be immortal, just stuck in the form of a 12-year-old girl.

The doll, and Anya, has now been stolen and IggwilvNatasha needs you all to get it back.

As far as adventure hooks goes this one is a good one.  The doll is in the hands of an evil Wizard named Andrei Anazinov who knows it is special and knows Anya has never aged. He trying to discover its secrets.  So get the doll before the wizard figures out Natasha's immortality.  The adventure overtly makes it about saving Natasha's immortality, but as you read it the real reason is also uncovered, the ancient Witch Queen still loves her little sister. Undoing the immortality would be bad for Natasha, but it is also likely she has many safeguards in place.  It would however kill Anya outright.

I don't want to go too much deeper than this in case potential players read this.  It is a MacGuffin search, but a fun one and a chance to interact with one of the more notorious characters in D&D lore.

Comments on the Adventure

A few comments.  I can completely understand why Natasha wants the doll and Anya back.  I even understand why she wants good adventurers to do it.  I am not sure why someone of Natasha's caliber would a. let the adventurers know who she is and b. what the doll is.  It seems to me that good or evil the party might want to hide or destroy the doll to stop an evil witch queen.  When I run this I am going to need another reason.

The maps are great. I am glad I have to PDF to print them out on my own.

There are some cool new monsters (a must in any adventure) and magic items.  There is even a pronunciation guide. 

New Monsters

One nitpick. None of the pages have page numbers on them. Seems a touch odd, but I can deal.

Sixteen pages are given over to the 8 pre-gen characters.  So that is nice.  There are also tournament scoring sheets.

Adapting for War of the Witch Queens

I bought this adventure with idea of adapting it over to my War of the Witch Queen campaign.  This is not the first "Witch Queen" adventure I have bought, nor will it be my last I am sure.   The fact that it includes Natasha/Iggwilv just makes it more perfect to be honest.

War of the Witch Queens

So here are my changes.

I am not running this as a tournament since I am going to be using OSE-Advanced Fantasy for it. There will be some more tweaks for the rules, but I think it is going to work out just fantastic really.

Natasha/Iggwilv is not going to let the adventurers know who she is or why she wants the doll back.  I am going to have her disguise herself as Elena the Fair and "Elena" will be hiring them to rescue her sister Anya. This way she feels she is not lying about her mission.  In the end, Anya will out "Elena" as Iggwilv, but the terms of their agreement will remain.  Maybe Vasilisa the Beautiful will show up to take Anya.  I have Elena and Vasilisa as two separate characters. 

I love the whole Russian feel to all of this, but I am going to take out Andrei Anazinov and replace him with Kelek.  Kelek has had some dealings with Iggwilv already and he is the "big bad" of the War of the Witch Queens.  I need an adventure to get him in front of the PCs instead of making him a behind the shadows guy.  Andrei is a 14th level wizard. I made Kelek a 15th level magic-user/necromancer.  Also in my games Kelek is looking for ways to make himself ever young, he thinks Anya (not the doll) is the answer.  Kelek is a misanthrope, so kidnapping and experimenting on a little kid is kinda on-brand for him So this all fits.  

Plus I have these great minis to use

There might be other little tweaks along the way. More winter wolves and worgs to be sure. I am certainly going to steal ideas from the newer 5e versions of Iggwilv and Kelek and I am also going to steal ideas from the Pathfinder Witch War series.

The Witch Queens at War

There are more adventures on the casl Entertainment website. Including one, C11 - When Comes the Witching Hour, that looks like it could be Iggwilv on the cover.  So I am going to need to check that one out as well.  Just watched this video and yup, looks like it is! I have to go get it now.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Tea with the Witches

Been crazy busy at work. That time of year.  But one big project is done and I am down to the last few courses in this contact hour audit I have been doing for weeks.  

I have been neglecting things here so here is a quick one.  I got some art made of a scene crucial to the "War of the Witch Queens"  back story.  The scene is called "Tea With the Witches" and it takes place in The Simbul's castle in the Forgotten Realms.

Tea with the Witches

I want to send out a hearty thank you to Brian Brinlee for doing such a great job with this. Here are the witches pictured. Left to right (clockwise, never widdershins when dealing with witches):

Sagarassi the Sea Witch (Krynn/Dragonlance), Iggwilv the Witch Queen (Oerth/Greyhawk), The Simbul, Witch Queen of Aglarond (Toril/The Forgotten Realms and where this is taking place), Larina (my OC), Feiya the Pathfinder iconic witch (Golarion/Pathfinder).

They are playing Pentacles, a game played with five people using Tarroka cards.

Hopefully regular posting will resume next week!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Nicnevin, Faerie Queen of Witches

Been spending some time working on my various Lords and Ladies of the land of Faerie. With the new Wild Beyond the Witchlight out, I have been thinking more and more about what I'd like to do with them.

Case in point is an old favorite, Nicnevin the Faerie Queen of Witches from Scottish lore.   I mentioned her all the way back in 2014 as servant/ally of Aradia. She would later appear in the Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press.

My version fits into my vision of the Lands of Faerie and my War of the Witch Queens a bit better.  She is the Witch Queen of the Faerie Tradition and can be a patron for witches or Fey Pact Warlocks.

Nicnevin, Faerie Queen of Witches
Faerie Lady

Nicnevin, Faerie Queen of Witches
Frequency:
Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 13d8+39*** (98 hp)
  Large: 13d10+39 (111 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 8 (+11)
Attacks: 1 sickle or by spell
Damage: 1d6+2 or by spell
Special: Fly,  Immune to charm, hold, and sleep spells, Magic Resistance 50% (all magic), Magic Resistance 100% (Witch magic), witch spells and powers
Size: Large
Save: Witch 13
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: See below 
XP: 4,200 (OSE) 4,350 (LL)

Str: 17 (+2) Dex: 12 (0) Con: 19 (+3) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 18 (+3) Cha: 20 (+4)

The Witch Queen of the Faerie is also known by the names Nicneven, Nicnevin, Nicnevan or Nic an Neachneohain.  She is the current Witch Queen of the Faerie tradition and the longest-serving.  Previous Faerie Queens of Witches were known as Satia, Bensozie, Zobiana, Abundia, and Herodiana.  She is both a Faerie Lord (Lady) and the Queen of Witches for all witches in the Faerie Traditions.  She is served by faerie witches of all courts.  Her retinue includes elves, nymphs, and hags among many others.  Any faerie creature that becomes a witch or has witch-like powers are hers to command.

The Witch Queen can attack with a special sickle made from pure moonlight.  It can attack creatures as if it were a +3 weapon.  In her hands, the sickle acts as a sword of sharpness +3 and will do double damage to clerics and magic-users (wizards).  In anyone else's hands, it is only a simple harvesting sickle.  She also may cast spells as a 13th level witch of the Faerie Tradition with the appropriate occult powers.  She knows all the spells of the Faerie tradition and does not need to prepare them beforehand.  She employs a magical cloak that reduces her AC to 0 [19] and provides her an additional +3 to all saves. 

Magical attacks against her have a 50% chance of failure. If a witch casts a spell at her the spell is completely negated.  No witch may harm her via magic or mundane means.

The Queen of Witches appears to be a statuesque, 7' tall, Faerie woman of middle age.  She is beautiful in a wild, uncontrolled way like that of a towering waterfall or a dangerous storm.   Her hair is a bright red that seems to shimmer like flames, glowing brighter as her emotions run higher.  Her eyes are a uniform blue that glows when she casts spells.  Her skin is covered in blue woad designs. 

She rides out at night with her retinue of nymphs and hags on great faries steeds like giant elk or stags searching the countryside for girls to add to her coven of witches and for clerics that honor gods of the sun to kill. 

--

Might tweak her a bit. Have a couple books on Scottish folklore I'd like to go over again. Plus I want to work out her relationship with Scáthach.  Likely Nicnevin is a daughter or something similar. 

Nicnevin, Faerie Queen of Witches
https://www.heroforge.com/load_config%3D17900174/

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The NPCs of "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight"

Skylla, my ex
While "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight" has a lot going for it the reason, well one of the reasons, I really wanted it was because we were getting some official D&D 5th Edition stats to some classic NPCs, in particular, Skylla and Kelek two "iconic" characters that I am using in my War of the Witch Queens campaign. So I want to look at these old friends and maybe a couple of new ones too.  I'll leave poor old Thaco alone with his pipe and bitterness today.  Plus it is October and Horror month, so I really just want to talk about my favorites, the bad guys.

Who Are These Characters?

Long before the use of the term Iconic Characters to refer to reoccurring D&D characters in publication, there were names like Warduke, Strongheart, Ringlerun, and Kelek.  They appeared in the AD&D toy line from LJN and in other media including coloring books, stickers, adventures, and sometimes even the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.   It is also one of the reasons why I have to laugh when people today will see a stuffed Owlbear and complain that "WotC is selling out and ruining D&D."  They must have forgotten the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Yoyo or Sunglasses.

Of all of these characters, there were a few standouts who got extra attention.  Ringlerun, the Good Wizard would be the cover boy for the Jeff Easley recover of the AD&D Player's Handook, although many at the time did not see the connection.  Kelek and Warduke would go on to get a guest spot on the D&D cartoon.  Warduke in particular would go on to be a minor celebrity in D&D iconic circles, getting 1st Ed (well...Basic really), 3rd Ed, and now 5th Ed Ed stats.

LJN D&D Toys

We would get all their official D&D Basic and Expert set stats, not AD&D, in the product AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn.  This was sort of a Rogues Gallery for BECMI D&D. You can read my review of it here

What I would like to do here today is compare these characters from the Wild Beyond the Witchlight to their Shady Dragon Inn and Quest for the Heartstone counterparts. 

Bad guys

The League of Malevolence

Heroes are great, but give me a "good" villain any day of the week.  Here are five iconic D&D villains. I will compare them to their D&D Basic versions to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Kelek

First up is the leader of the League of Malevolence, our Legion of Doom for D&D.  All these characters are Chaotic Evil which tracks well to their original alignments of Chaotic.  

In Basic D&D Kelek was an "Evil Sorcerer" of course at this time a "Sorcerer" was the level title for a 7th level Magic-user.  In 5e his class has become a Sorcerer.  This actually make a lot of sense and I approve of this change.  His stats are pretty much the same from edition to edition with the exception of his Charisma which goes from 7 to 17.  Charisma is the "prime" stat for sorcerers. Here he is described as a sociopath. That tracks with how I have seen him in the past

Part of this adventure is searching for a lost Unicorn horn. Well that was more or less the plot of the only D&D Cartoon to feature Kelek.  If nothing else I am saying he is still after unicorn horns. 

Skylla

Ah. My beloved Skylla.  I was the most excited and the most worried to see what the Wizard's dev team was going to do to you.  I have to say I am not disappointed. In Quest of the Heartstone, she is listed as a 6th level Warlock. Again, this time "Warlock" meaning 6th level magic-user. I do note that the TSR team avoided calling her a "Witch" at the time. Likely due to the Satanic Panic (but Warlock is fine?).  Like her former boss Kelek, the level title is translated to Class here and she is a 6th level Warlock. It fits well if you ask me

Skylla's stats are mostly the same with some tweaks to improve what she needs to be a Warlock.  Though the best changes are in her background.  For starters, her patron is not a demon (like I did) but rather with Baba Yaga (like...I did).  Additionally they tackle the Skylla/Charmay art issue head-on as sometimes Skylla goes by the name Charmay.  It's different than what I do with her, but it works out fine in my mind.

For the record, they got Skylla as close to a "witch: as D&D 5e's rules will currently allow.  I think they did a great job with her.  Kelek too.

Warduke

I do have to ask. Why does everyone like this guy so much? I never quite got it, but hey someone out there is looking at my nearly 30 posts about Skylla and scratching their head. 

That all being said, Warduke here is fairly impressive. I think the fans will be happy.  His stats are all the same in both versions.  His Dread Helm in Basic gave him Infravision to 60'.  The D&D 5e version only makes his eyes glow red.  Well, as I have said many times, I have a pencil.

Zarak

The half-orc Assassin was just an odd dude in Basic D&D that didn't have half-orcs as monsters, let alone as a character race, nor did it have assassins.  Yet there he is on page 18 of my Quest for the Heartstone. In D&D 5 he also has some strangeness. He is a full orc here BUT he is a short one to fit the AD&D/D&D Basic orcs.  Though he is still a Chaotic Evil Assassin.  His Dexterity gets a buff in 5e, but he loses his "boomerang" dagger!

Zargash

The evil cleric is back.  He is 7th level, so that makes him an evil Bishop. Zargash is still Chaotic Evil and he worships Orcus. Stats are tweaked a bit, but otherwise he is largely the same.

Missing Evil Characters include, Grimsword (Evil Knight aka Anti-Paladin), Zorgan (Evil Barbarian) and Drex (Evil Warrior) all from Quest for the Heartstone. Fox Fingers (Thief) and Raven (Evil Cleric) from Shaddy Dragon Inn.  In might be fun to make Raven. She is evil (but maybe not totally), and in love with Warduke. She was once friend with Mericon. Who is up in the next batch.

Valor's Call

Our group of good hereos had the real chance of being boring on one hand and overly sanctimonious on the other.  Thankfully were spared the worse.  They are not as interesting as our bad guys, but they are still fun and there are still some tweaks that make them worth reading and using.

Elkhorn

Our Lawful Good dwarf might have been one of the more popular figures right behind Warduke.  His stats are the same in both versions.  I do like how they took an essentially blank canvas and made a dwarf that is not a Flint Fireforge clone or a Dime store Thorin and gave him some goals.  He is a staunch enemy of evil.  If Strongheart is the founder of Valor's call, then Elkhorn is its heart.

Mercion

Ok. She is no Aleena, but Mercion is the cleric of the group. Her stats are tweaked a bit to give her better Strength and a higher level, but the Mercion in 5e is much more interesting.  In what I feel is a real homage to her Basic D&D roots, she does not worship a god but rather an ideal. She believes that truth gives life to artistry and beauty.  It's kind of a cool concept. If I were to use her as an NPC I would make sure she never lies about anything, ever. In fact, the brutal truth is better for her than a sweet lie. 

Molliver

Molliver the good thief was not in the Shady Dragon Inn product but can be found in the Quest for the Heartstone. In Quest no gender is given for Molliver, so in the 5e book their pronouns are "they."  I like it. I like it because a.) it works for the character and b.) it will certainly piss off the ones that need pissing off.

Molliver is also the only Chaotic Good member of the party. A "Lawful" thief does not make much sense really. Stats are largely the same with a buff for Dex. They even have their boots of levitation, handy for a thief.  

Ringlerun

Our Lawful Good Wizard from Basic remains a Lawful Good Wizard in 5e.  Never as interesting as Kelek, Elminster, or Mordenkainen he was on the cover of the Player's Handbook and a popular figure. 

Ringlerun
His arm must be tired

He is still largely a generic wizard. He has kind of a James Randi in his later years look about him.  In my games he is dead; died of old age, but that doesn't really make sense for a wizard I guess.  I have some ideas forming that I might explore later.  Or not. After all he was never very interesting.

Strongheart

If I have one purely AD&D gripe it is that I rarely see anyone playing a paladin a good way.  "Sanctimonious Asshole" is not a Paladin. Neither is "Grim, tortured because there is so much evil in the world" isn't either.   I was worried that Strongheart was going to fall into one of those two camps. Or even worse, weak Sturm Brightblade clone.

Thankfully, that is not what we got. Instead, 5e Strongheart is the kind of paladin who is all about "we should get together to defeat evil because there is so much good in the world to enjoy!" He makes a good leader.  Again his stats are slightly tweaked to give him a better Strength (13 to 15) which, by the way, his D&D Basic stats were not good enough to make him an AD&D Paladin!

He was the character I was prepared to dislike the most (I have played paladins in EVERY version of D&D) and his actually was pretty cool.

It is mentioned that there are more characters in Valor's Call, off doing Good elsewhere.  They do have a solid feel of "The Superfriends" here. Not s big surprise I guess. Potential other members from Quest of the Heartstone include Peralay (Elf Fighter/Mage), Figgen (Halfling Fighter or Fighter/Theif), Deeth (Fighter), Hawkler (a totally NOT the Beastmaster Ranger), Bowmarc (Good "Crusader") and Valkeer, a half-giant warrior.  Of these Valkeer might the most fun to update to 5e.  Of these Peralay also appears in The Shady Dragon Inn.  

Strongheart and Warduke

Other NPCs

There are plenty of other really interesting NPCs in this book.  Many I plan to lift and convert back to D&D Basic for use in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.

Burly the Hobgoblin

Before D&D, a hobgoblin was more a trickster as exemplified by Puck or Robin Goodfellow. In Witchlight we have Burly a Neutral Good Hobgoblin.  Ok, I'll go with that. My favorite bit is he is a hobgoblin who wears a pumpkin on his head.  Now, where have I seen that before?

Pumpkin head

Bugbear. Hobgoblin.  The differences are largely academic.

Likewise, Chucklehead is a goblin with a  head shaped like a taffy apple.

Iggwilv the Witch Queen

Yes! Getting Skylla was one thing, getting a new Iggwilv?  That's just crazy good.

This is Iggwilv after she has left the Abyss and has been hiding out in the Feywild for centuries. Here she is also known as Tasha, Natasha, and Zybilna.  There is an interaction here with Kelek that plays so well into my plans it is hard not to use it all.  There is an interesting Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect of Iggwilv here in the form of Tasha-Zybilna-Iggwilv.

Iggwilv

Now I am perfectly happy with the formerly Chaotic Evil Iggwilv becoming more Chaotic Neutral as time goes on.  What I am not 100% sure about is her desire to abandon all her research on the Abyss and Demons in favor of learning about the Feywild instead.  But...I can live with it.

The Hour Glass Coven

I like them. Very interesting bunch of witches and hags.

The Minis

This is such an interesting group of NPCs it makes sense that there is also an equally interesting group of minis to go with them.  Sadly the supply chain breakdown has pushed many of these minis till 2022.  But I am really looking forward to them.

Kelek
Kelek

Skylla
Skylla

Zyblina
Zyblina


Looking forward to them.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Sagarassi, Witch Queen of the Seas of Krynn

Sagarassi, Sea Witch of Krynn
It is not a stretch of the imagination to list Krynn as one of the top three D&D worlds behind Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. Even my own favorite Mystara does not have the publication history behind it that Krynn and Dragonlance has.

So when collecting all the Witch Queens of D&D I wanted to be sure Krynn was represented.  

We do know Krynn has Witches or at least use of the word "witch."  The High Theocrat in Solace (Dragons of Autumn Twilight) calls Goldmoon, a true cleric, a witch.  This gets enough of a response and reaction that the locals know what a witch is. We know from the story of Jilani that villagers will burn suspected witches.  Hedge Witches were known to elves near Lord Soth's Dargaard Keep. 

The problem is that wizardry and magic in Krynn are very, very regulated.  There are the three main Towers of High Sorcery which cover Good (White), Neutral (Red), and Evil (Black).  Wizards, regardless of alignment do not step out of line. Even back in the AD&D1st ed days a wizard/magic-user never got past 20th level.  The entire second Dragonlance trilogy was all about Raistlin trying to get power beyond what was allowed. 

To find a magic-using character who would fit the description of "Witch Queen" I would need someone powerful and working outside of the established wizarding roles.  Anyone like that usually gets smacked down by the Gods of Krynn.  If possible I would also like to find someone that uses "witch" as a title.

There are a few that might fit the bill.  There is Weird Meggin, the old woman that a young Raistlin Majere first learned about magic. She had a grey wolf that could have been her familiar. She knew herbs and talked to trees.  She certainly "feels" like a witch, but everything we know about her I just wrote.  So not enough even for me.  There is the black-robe wizard Iolanthe, she calls herself a witch and has a lot of solid witchy qualities to her.  But a lot like Meggin, there is very little (though more) out there about her. Though I would like to find out more about her, to be honest. 

After searching and asking around I finally stumbled on a wizard who fits the bill.  Sagarassi, The Sea Witch.

Sagarassi, The Sea Witch

Not much is known about Sagarassi.  So little in fact it has taken me a while to collect this information. But here is what I have pieced together.  The best (ok only) primary source for my information is the AD&D 2nd Edition product Otherlands.  The rest comes from the Dragonlance Nexus and Dragonlance Fandom wikis. 

She was a Silvanesti Elf but was changed into a sea creature by the Sea Goddess Zeboim whom she worships.  Both Sagarassi and Zeboim are known as the "Sea Witch."  Sagarassi also serves Takhisis, the mother of Zebiom. 

She is not fond of humans.  Nor is she fond of her own sister, Daydra Stonecipher.  This relationship parallels the one between Zebiom and her twin brother Nuitari, who is the god of Evil Magic in Kyrnn. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination that Zebiom would want her magic-using disciple to go against the established rules of magic. Especially since Nuitari is regarded as Lawful Evil and Zebiom is Chaotic Evil. 

We know she is old. She waged a war undersea around 1320 PC (Prior to the Cataclysm), the Dragonlance books take place in 348 AC, making her over 1670 years old. Good thing she is an elf. 

She lives in an underwater tower called Khegar, also known as the Death Tower.  It is in the seas near Taladas.

Sagarassi, Witch Queen of the Seas of KrynnSagarassi, Witch Queen of the Seas of Krynn

I have been using the present tense. But there is some speculation that she may have died in the last war with her sister.  Who is to say.  I am pulling together scraps of content to try to make a whole.

If I want to use her in my Mystara/Greyhawk games (and I do) I have to find some fixed points in time. Krynn, for various reasons, is removed from the other D&D worlds, but we can find a fixed point in time with The Wizards Three articles in Dragon.   We know that Dalamar met with Elminster and Mordenkainen in the post Legends time frame. With Raistlin "dying" in 383 AC We can put their meeting sometime after that.  We know from other sources (Wizards Three, Castle Spulzeer/Ravenloft) that this is about the same time as 1365 DR (Forgotten Realms) or 581 CY (Greyhawk).  

So. What does this all mean?  Well for me it means that if Sagrassi is still alive her age would be about 1,720 years old.  Fairly old for an elf, but maybe not so much for an elf/witch/"chosen" of a Goddess. At that age, I am going to say that Sagarassi is tired of fighting her sister and is looking for conquests outside of Krynn.

For this character, given her age and abilities, I am using my original rules for The Witch. I also struggled with my desire to make a very high level witch and the restriction Krynn puts on high-level magic users.  I figure that Sagarassi, as a witch, flies under the radar. I suppose in AD&D terms I could make her a 20th level Magic-user and 16th level evil cleric of Zeboim.  Or whatever the level limits were back then.  I personally ignored level limits.  While that would give me a passable Sagarassi that would fit the AD&D 1st RAW, and it would give me a witch, it would not give me a Witch.

Her Tradition is Sea Witch, something new I am working on.

Sagarassi, Witch Queen of the Seas of Krynn
36th level Witch, Sea Witch Tradition*
Female Sea Elf, Chaotic Evil

Strength 13
Intelligence 20
Wisdom 18
Dexterity 15
Constitution 17
Charisma 20

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 2
Magic Wands 2
Paralysis, Polymorph 2
Dragon Breath 2
Rods, Staffs, Spells 2

Hit Points: 73
AC: 4

THAC0: 6

Occult Powers

Lesser: Familiar (Demonic eel)
Minor: Speak to plants/animals
Medial: Goddess Blessing
Greater: Control Weather
Major: Shape Change
Superior: Timeless Body

Spells
Cantrips (7): Alarm Ward, Arcane Mark, Chill, Daze, Inflict Minor Wounds, Message, Summon Vermin
1st (9+3): Bad Luck, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Darkness, Endure Elements, Far Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Moonstone**, Minor Fighting Prowess, Silver Tongue, Tattoo
2nd (9+3): Agony, Alter Self, Biting Blade, Discord, Enthrall, ESP, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Invisibility, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile, Suggestion
3rd (9+3): Bestow Curse, Circle of Respite, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Lesser Strengthing Rite,  Lethe's Curse, Lifeblood, Toad Mind, Tongues, Witch Wail, Witch Writing, Imbue Witch Ball (Ritual)
4th (9+3): Abomination, Analyze Magic, Animal Growth, Arcane Eye, Charm Monster, Divination, Fluid Mastery, Phantom Lacerations, Polymorph, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee, Drawing Done the Moon (Ritual)
5th (9+2): Baleful Polymorph, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Endless Sleep, Greater Command, Hold Monster, Magic Jar, Nightmare, Song of Discord, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue
6th (9+1): Anchoring Rite, Anti-magic Shell, Break the Spirit, Eye Bite, Mass Agony, Mass Suggestion, Mislead, Moonbow, True Seeing, Dismissal (Ritual)
7th (9): Death Aura, Draw Forth the Soul, Greater Arcane Eye, Greater Blindness, Insanity, Wave of Mutilation, Binding (Ritual), Gate (Ritual), Vision (Ritual)
8th (9): Damming Stare, Destroy Life, Discern Location, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Pit, Trap the Soul, Imprisonment (Ritual), Protection of the Goddess (Ritual)

**Sagarassi prepares a Moonstone on the high nights of Nuitari's "light." This allows her to use her moon-based spells even underwater.

All in all a fun build.  I need to work a bit more on what a "Sea Witch" is and come up with some more spells for it. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

#FollowFriday: Ginny Di

It's Ginny Di!
I gotta admit I love the shirt!
Kinda burned out on Kickstarter right now.  So it's another #FollowFriday!

I will admit, I adore Ginny Di.  She has unbound enthusiasm about D&D and all things related.  I know she is young enough to be my daughter and I have characters older than her, but I still think she is great.

It is so refreshing to come to her Twitter or YouTube pages and see how excited she is over something D&D-related.  I'll read the posts or blogs of some of my contemporaries and wonder when the fun died in their lives leaving them as bitter old husks.

Plus she seems to irritate the right people, so that is a bonus all on its own. 

The fact that she also loves her witches has almost nothing to do with it. Well...maybe a little. 

I have already posted about her or her projects in the past.

This week Ginny is back with Morelia the Wood Witch in a POV roleplay. It is a fun little bit video, but it really helped me cement the idea that Morelia would be a great NPC in my War of the Witch Queens. 

Content Warning to Bitter Old Grogs Who Are Dead Inside: The video features a shop where an NPC Witch SELLS POTIONS! Gasp, the Horror! The audacity! The cheek of it all! 

Anyway. She is fun. She is funny. She has a ton of enthusiasm and I think she is great. In fact, I even sought out items she has been sponsored by at Gen Con because she made them look really fun.

So check her out. If you don't like her ask yourself, when did I die inside?

Ginny Di online

Give her a follow or a like or something.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Back Home from GenCon 2021!

I just got back home from GenCon 2021.  We had a great time.  We stayed in masks a lot and we spent a little more time playing games in our room and outside, but all in all, we took a lot of precautions, washed hands a lot, and of course got vaccinated a while back.  

For this Con, I did not continue the Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign.  I have been building something cool for it and taking it to Gen Con would have been a pain in the ass.  Instead, we continued on with the War of the Witch Queens campaign.  Everyone really took to Basic Ear D&D well and my son even bought his own copies of Old-School Essentials.

Basic D&D

We picked up our Old-School Essentials at the Games Plus booth. They had a bunch on Day 1 and were completely sold out by Day 3!

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Oh. And despite some claims to the contrary, Gen Con was still full and there were plenty of people here.  We spoke to a few of the restaurant workers and a few owners and they were thrilled that Gen Con was back, even in this limited fashion.

Still crowded

Still crowded

Still crowded

People stayed in masks, for the most part. Though we are still going to quarantine for a bit just to be safe. 

We picked up some great games too.  The kids both work now so they were able to spend their own money. Which is great, cause I bought a lot for me.

Games

Games

Games

So far our favorite has been The Red Dragon Inn by Slugfest Games.  We had a blast with it. I have been wanting it for a bit now and I am glad we got it.

We played some NIGHT SHIFT and that was great.  While we were playing this guy stopped to see what we were playing. He mentioned he wanted to introduce his 10-year-old daughter to D&D.  Long story short, the drummer of the band Shinedown watched our game. I gave him a copy of NIGHT SHIFT, which he loved. 

Not sure what our plans are for next year, but we had a great time this year.  Glad to be back at Gen Con.

Monday, August 16, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 16 Villain

RPGaDAY2021 Day 16

Having a hero is great, but a hero is only as good as the villain they battle.

Day 16 Villain

Villains are great.  I have talked about villains and big bads, and all sorts of bad guys over the years. 

Who have been my favorites?

Yoln, the Shadow Reaper & Hand of Leviathan

Yoln, the bad guy so nice I used him twice.  He was a human general that rose up through the ranks to become a Pit Fiend and the general of Hell's Army in the Dragon Wars from my 1st Ed AD&D game.  He was defeated there and cast out of Hell into the Astral where he was recruited by the Mad God Leviathan where he became the big bad of my Buffy RPG campaign, the Dragon & the Phoenix.  Is he really dead now?  Who knows. He might be back someday.

But after that I decided that no big bad of central villain would work for Season of the Witch.

Cult of the Dragon

The cult that gave my first campaign with my kids so much trouble. 

Come Endless Darkness

My favorite villains though are demons.  In my interconnected Come Endless Darkness the demons are overtly the bad guys with Lolth and Grazzt giving the Order of the Platinum Dragon so much trouble.  Demogorgon is behind all the cults in the Second Campaign.  And Orcus is challenging all the characters into my Into the Nentir Vale campaign.  But all are being deceived by Asmodeus, with the help of Grazzt.  Asmodeus in turn is being deceived by Tharizdûn.  In the end, Tharizdûn hopes to reign supreme with the devils under his control and the power structure of the demons destroyed.

War of the Witch Queens

My newest campaign deals with the death of the ruling Witch High Queen and the power vacuum that creates.  The villains of this piece are Kalek and Skylla.  I talked about their involvement last year's #RPGaDAY.  I am also thrilled to see that they are getting new minis for the next D&D 5e book.  That set also includes the fan favorite, Warduke.  Maybe I should add him in for nostalgia's sake.

Looking forward to that set as well as all my players coming up against all these great villains.


RPGaDAY2021

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Sarah Douglas Film Fest

I was working on an adventure for War of the Witch Queens this past week and I was thinking that my Witch Queen in this adventure had a lot in common with Queen Taramis from A Witch Shall be Born and the Conan the Destroyer movie.   I did my digging and discovered that yes, the look/vibe I wanting in my next Witch Queen (loosely based on Methyn Sarr from Barbarians of Lemuria) was based on Queen Taramis AND surprisingly enough "Lyranna" from Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time.

Both were played by the exquisite Sarah Douglas

So I figured I would have to do Sarah Douglas film fest since she plays a witch in both movies.  

Sarah Douglas in Beastmaster 2Sarah Douglas in Conan the Destroyer


Beastmaster 2
Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991)

Nearly a decade after the last Beastmaster movie we rejoin Dar in his battle against evil.  This time against his own older half-brother Arklon. The camp is WAY high in this one. Sarah Douglas plays Lyranna which sounds a lot like my "Larina" (but mine was 5 years before this).  Lyranna has a lot of language and speech that makes her sound like she is from L.A. from the late 80s.  There is a reason for that since she has been studying the land of "LA" where she has learned about a Neutron Detonator that she will give to Arklon, in exchange for ruling with him.

While she has the portal open Kari Wuhrer comes racing through in her red Porshe.  The poster showing the scene has a solid "Back to the Future" vibe to it. 

Ok. I am going to say this. Kari Wuher gets on my nerves. She is not so bad here, and she is actually supposed to be annoying here. 

Let's be honest. This is not a good movie.  I give Marc Singer a lot of credit here. The movie all around him is campy as all hell and he is playing Dar straight.  His earnestness from the previous movie holds over here. 

Wings Hauser chews up scenes as Arklon.  I can't if he is good at camp or bad. In any case, it works for him and this role.  Sarah Douglas is great, but I was inclined to like her anyway.  Even Kari Wuher was a lot of fun in it. 

The movie is not good, but it is fun. 

Conan the Destroyer
Conan the Destroyer (1984)

This is the second, and less well-liked Conan movie.  I personally thought it was a lot of fun. I had been a fan of Grace Jones since her Nightclubbing album so I was looking forward to seeing her in this.

This movie was also the second time I became aware of Sarah Douglas. I thought she was fantastic as Ursa in Superman and Superman II, and she was exceptionally great here.  Well. At least I thought so then.  I STILL think she was great, to be honest.

Queen Taramis (only a princess in the Howard story) gives Conan a quest to escort the Queen's Niece, Princess Jehnna, played the ever-lovely Olivia d'Abo in her first movie, to restore the horn of the dreaming god Dagoth (played by none other than André the Giant).  Sounds vaguely Lovecraftian. Jehnna is naturally a virgin.  Hey pro tip, girls who sleep around never get sacrificed to Elder gods. 

Going along with Conan is the Queen's guard Bombaata played by the NBA and College Basketball Hall of Famer, and future best-selling author, Wilt Chamberlain in his only film role.  I am sure you have all seen the photos with Arnold standing next to Wilt and André before.  Shared by Arnold himself, he commented that he had never felt so puny before in his life.

Arnold standing next to Wilt and André

There is a cool scene with Conan in a room full of mirrors and a creature that swear influenced Hordak.  The creature was neat, the scene however seemed really silly. Made even sillier now with such memes as this. 

Conan and Rose

Among other actors, the immortal Tracey Walter appears as Malak. I swear this guy has been in everything. How many thieves started swallowing gems because of this movie? The equally prolific Mako is here as Akiro, sounding like a gruff Iroh. 

Our virgin is captured. Found. Captured again. Put in jeopardy. And set to sacrificed.  

And like all sacrifices go awry, the angry god kills the one summoning him, this time Taramis. 

So will a fun little romp it is worse than I remember but not as bad as I feared.   I remember that is felt more "D&D" than the first movie did and pretty much every gamer I knew had gone to see it.

Gaming Content

For me,  I can use Lyranna as Queen Taramis as a nice bit of history for my own version of Queen Methyn Sarr.  She starts out as a witch, finds a ruler whom she seduces, and then ultimately betrays and takes his kingdom as her own.  Not 100% original, but it fits with the pulpy feel I want. 

Plus it will give me something to start from.  Though given tonight's movies I wonder if I should rename her to Methyn Sarah.  Doesn't sound quite as evil does it?

Methyn Sarr

Links

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.