Showing posts with label characters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label characters. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New Witch Sheet

 I am not exactly sure why I didn't do this one already.

Witch Character Sheet

I was working on something else and needed an AD&D (Dragon #114) witch for it.  It then dawned on me that I didn't have a proper AD&D character sheet for a witch.  Well. I fixed that today.

Witch Character Sheet

I edited an existing PDF and ran some off on my printer. Proper Goldenrod, of course, but also salmon and blue since they came in those colors as well (NPC and permanent character records, respectively) and because I can come in purple. All my important witches have sheets in purple!

They are not perfect by any means. Just a quick edit job in Affinity Publisher, but I really like them. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

In Search Of Duchess and Candella

 I mentioned earlier in this year that my oldest son's group is running through ALL editions of D&D to celebrate 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons. They made characters, and they are taking them through each edition. They have done OD&D, Basic and they are now ready for 1st Edition Advanced.  The characters are now 2nd to 4th level, but there are only 5 of them. And they want me to run an AD&D game for them.

Last week I finally figured out what I am going to run.  They will go through the Orange version of module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Palaces of the Silver Princess

I will explain its infamy to them and run it like it was 1981 for them. So, a mix of B/X and AD&D. Just like we did it.  I'll talk more about the adventure, but for now, I want to focus on a small side matter with the adventure(s). 

That is, who exactly are the thieves, Duchess and Candella?

Duchess and Candella
In Search of...Duchess and Candella

In both versions of the adventure, you encounter two thieves pretending to be Lady Maidservants. Well... not convincingly, since they know very little about what a maidservant does or where anything in the castle is.  But they are earnest and "very attractive" and ask to join the party. 

Now, I always thought that "Duchess" was the dark-haired one and "Candella" the light-haired one. Largely because I thought the dark-haired one looked like a Duchess and Candella is said to have a string of pearls on her. The orange version gives us their ages as 18 for Duchess and 20 for Candella. 

I always liked that art. You are catching two thieves almost red-handed, and the look of surprise on Candella's face and her hair flying about was just great. 

They became minor recurring NPCs in my games. Showing up, stealing something here and there, and then disappearing again. If the PCs were ever tossed into jail, then sure enough, Duchess and Candella were already there.

I had not thought about them much, and they certainly don't get the ink that the likes of Aleena or Morgan Ironwolf get, but they were/are fun NPCs, and I wanted to know more about them.  Turns out I am not the only one.

What does the Web Say?

There are a few links worth visiting and following up on. First is Greyhawk MusingsOn Duchess and Candella.  This is a great place to start due to its thoroughness. In fact, this blog is a treasure trove of information on them, and I respect David Leonard for that.  He speculates that the dark-haired woman thief in G3, The Hall of the Fire Giant King, is Duchess now 11th level. This begs the question, what happened to Candella? Side note: I used that very same thief as a recurring character when I ran G3, but for me, it was Evelyn the Princess Escalla. But I appreciate what he is doing here.  Like me, he equates Duchess with the dark-haired woman and Candella with the light-haired one. 

We learn from no less of a luminary himself, Frank Mentzer, that these two figures were not just Jean Well's characters; they were her favorite duo of characters. She also did the art of them in Polyhedron #4.  

Candella and Duchess in Polyhedron #4

Sadly, we can't ask Wells herself, as she passed away in 2012.

Greyhawk lore master Jason Zavoda made some similar observations and connections for Greyhawk.

I mentioned I was not the only one to find these two fun. They have appeared in more recent products as well. Or at least homages to them.

Candella, sans Duchess, appears on the cover of Blueholme.

Blueholme

She is the one getting the treasure. Wearing the same outfit as Candella at least.

In a minor cameo, but also a cover, no less, they are part of the new D&D Companion Project. I hope to have more on that soon. 

And as I mentioned above, the 11th-level thief from G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King might also be Duchess, without Candella.

Duchess and Candella in Other Adventures

B12 Queen's Harvest is another Basic-level adventure. This time though the "B" is from the BECMI flavor of Basic and not the BX one.

Very early on in this Carl Sargent-penned adventure from 1989, we are introduced to two thieves, Erren and Sarrah, on pages 6-7.  Their ages and appearances line up with Candella and Duchess, even if their stats don't quite match, though. It is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that Candella and Duchess also have other aliases. They are presented in an NPC Mini-Capsule, so they are important to the adventure, though no other details are given.

The fan module by Agathokles, The Dymrak Dread, makes this connection solid with Sarrah, now known as "the Duchess," and part of the Thieves Guild, and her friend Erren Candella. Here they are 5th and 6th level respectively.  This adventure also has Orcus and witches in it, so it is worth my coming back to.

Another adventure to feature them, and this time by name, is the Palace of the Golden Princess, an homage to the original (Orange) Palace of the Silver Princess and Jean Wells herself. There are 5e and OSE versions of the adventure, and they are tied to a comic series taking place in a land inspired by the map in the Original B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. There are even some allusions (in an oblique way) to the Return to the Keep on the Borderlands.

They also briefly appear in Mr. Welch's Mystara Player's Guide for 5e, notably under Mystara's Most Wanted.

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Thought their biggest feature run has been in the various Folio Black Label adventures. Most notably in Folio: Black Label #10 and The Complete Folio Black Label

In The Complete Folio Black Label (covering Black Label 1-6 with extras), nearly every piece of art features our daring duo in all sorts of predicaments throughout all the adventures.  They are also rendered by various artists like Brian Brinlee, Peter Bradley, and Simon Adams, among others. Folio: Black Label #4  and Folio: Black Label #5 even feature them on the cover. Honestly, I bought a bunch of these just to see how much Candella and Duchess art there was in them.

Another artist whose work has been featured in the Folio: Black Label books is Domenico Neziti.  He has done so many pieces of Duchess and Candella that I am giving him his own space below.

Here are a few of his pieces from his Instagram page.







And another I could not find on his Instagram.

Duchess and Candella Demon Bait
Domenico Neziti "Demon Bait"

He clearly has these two down, with some more on his DeviantArt page.

With new books out like Folio: Black Label series it is easy to see how these two have had all sorts of adventures. I can see something akin to distaff versions of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, though maybe less magic. Likely a bit closer to The Rat Queens. When I used them in games I always made Candella closer to the Thief-Acrobat concept and Duchess maybe a little closer to a Thief-Assassin. But I don't get "evil" off of either of them, really. Plus, Duchess doesn't have the strength score to be an assassin. Maybe more fighter-thief.

Duchess and Candella in my Games

Duchess and Candella
Duchess and Candella, Sheets from Dark Wizard Games

I have used them in the past, as I mentioned, but never to the extent I have some other characters and certainly not to the level some other gamers have.

Given all the art out there, they have certainly had a lot of adventures, and some that look outright crazy. But these two seem like fun characters to have "madcap adventures."  I mean, is Morgan Ironwolf going to pretend to be half-naked bait for a demon? No, I don't see it.  I'd love to use these two in my Forgotten Realms adventures but honestly they are so Mystara/Oerth feeling for me I can't see moving them over any easier than I could move the B-modules over.

I have at least figured out how they met. This came up in an adventure before. They were both, independently trying to steal this ruby, from the local guild-mistress of thieves. They didn't know the other was also trying, nor did either know this was the guild mistress. They failed, and the guild mistress, Amara, impressed by their attempt or something else, took them in and made them work together. The two became good friends, and their careers began.  In my mind, Candella had been a tavern wench who had become tired of watching adventurers coming in with ill-gotten gains when she could have all that gold. Duchess' background is a bit darker. She was a servant girl working for a Baron and Baroness. The Baroness had accused her of stealing a necklace, but she had not. The Baron, who was broke, had sold it to cover some of his debts and suggested she could work off her guilt in his bed chamber. When she refused, he got violent, and she ran to escape him, and he fell down the stairs to his death. Knowing she would be blamed and likely executed, she ran. She thinks she is still wanted for the Baron's murder. She isn't; no one ever looked for her. In fact, the Baron's debt was so great that the local authorities had plenty of other suspects. The Baroness died soon after in the home of a relative.

I know, according to the art above, that Candella gains some Boots of Flying, and Duchess gets a huge magic sword. 

Since my oldest is running his group through all of the editions of D&D I'll also do versions of them for every edition. Say 2nd level for D&D Basic/Expert, 4th level for AD&D 1st, 8th level for AD&D 2nd Editon, 12th level for D&D 3.x, 16th level for D&D 4e Essentials (better Rogues), and 20th for D&D 5th Edition.  That should be fun, really.  Course I'll need some good prestige classes when I get to 3.x. I think I'll post them when I get around to stating them all up. 

While I will keep them at the same level, at any given time, Candella is about 600 XP ahead of Duchess. 

Candella and Duchess for BX
Candella and Duchess for B/X. Art by Brian Brinlee and Domenico Neziti, 
Vitruvian Character Sheets Blog of Exalted Deeds

While reading up on them, I saw one person online refer to them as a couple of "party girls." I mean, sure, that fits. The vibe I have always had with them was they were both adventuresses out for a bit of fun and hopefully score some treasure. Ok, a lot of treasure. Though at least one academic dissertation places them in the role of temptresses. I suppose that would work too, though not how I would play them. 

Have you used these two in your games? How did it work for you? What happened with them?

Links

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Into the Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate 3 Characters (and HeroForge minis)

Into the Forgotten Realms
 For my personal foray into the Forgotten Realms, I will name this series exactly that: Into the Forgotten Realms. This is also appropriate because my very first recollection of the Forgotten Realms was not the "Grey Box" but rather an adventure in the pages of Dragon Magazine.

When Ed Greenwood was exploring the Realms in the pages of Dragon, he had a guide, the Sage of Shadowdale Elminster. Elminster told him stories of the Realms and was the intermediary between his world and ours. 

But Elminster, like Ed, was an expert on the Realms. I am not. I am not even good. I am an enthusiastic novice with no idea how much I am trying to bite off here.  So. I also need a guide. But my guide has to be as naïve as me so we can discover it together. 

Generally, for these explorations, I have characters on hand. When I was writing about vampires and undead it was my Paladin Johan. When it is magic, the occult or witches, it is my witch Larina. They are great characters, but neither is appropriate here. Neither has anything to do with the Realms for starters and I need a native.

So introducing (again) Sinéad. She is a half-elf from the Moonshae Isles and her elven mother claims to have ancestry from Evermeet. And...that is all I know. Fun right? Now to expand her out I used her as a character in Baldur's Gate 3 and of the many games I have played of it I liked her run the best.

As I progress through the material and books I am taking the literary license of having her tell me what she shows me as my guide, munch in the same way the Ed has Elminster. Plus it feels like a fun little nod to Ed and Elminster as well. 

Sinéad

What do I know about her? Well looking back at my 2nd Ed idea I know she is a magic-user of some sort and a Bard. Given some of the material I have read I also like idea she has wild magic, something she is not quite capable of controlling. This is why she leaves home. She needs a reason to go away from a loving family after all and I am not reverting to the trope of dead parents. 

This worked great in my run with her in Baldur's Gate. But I'll get to pencil and paper details in future posts.

Since I had such a great time with her and I'll be using her in tabletop games next year I couldn't help but get a new HeroForge mini of her as an early Christmas present to myself.

Sinéad
Sinéad from HeroForge

Not too bad really.  Here is how she looks on the HeroForge site AND in Baldur's Gate 3.

Sinéad Hero ForgeSinéad Baldur's Gate 3

I rather like how she came out.  Of course, I had to do two of my favorite characters from the game, Shadowheart and Karlach.

Shadowheart, Sinéad, and Karlach

Shadowheart and Karlach

I rather like how they all came out.

Shadowheart:

Shadowheart

Shadowheart

Shadowheart

And Karlach

Karlach

Karlach

Karlach

Yeah. If I am going to do this, then I will do it right.

I am also doing runs with Skylla and Kelek in BG3. Those have also been fun.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Blizzard of Summer 2023!

One of the best things about blogging and writing about games for so long is I have gotten to meet so many really great people and made some really great friends.

Two such are Tim Knight over at Hero Press and Pun Issac over at Halls of the Nephilim. Both are great guys, and we all have many intersecting interests in RPGs, comics, and movies.  So it is no real shock then when we decide to go over and play in each other's sandboxes.

Over the summer, they graciously allowed me to use two of their iconic characters, The Acrobatic Flea and The Web Archivist, for The Wasted Lands.

Now they have returned to honor and built versions of my misanthrope villain, The Refrigerator, for their own respective supers games, along with tweaks to make him work in their worlds. 

The Refrigerator

Both are great takes on my villain, and I love the additional little details they have both added. 

What is the point of having an iconic character if you can't share it?

Monday, July 10, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: Superheroes in the Dreaming Age, Part 0

 I have been thinking a lot about gods, monsters, humans, and demons in these pages lately. Between my One Man's God, my ideas for Deities & Demigods II, and playtesting The Wasted Lands gods and their relationship to humankind have been on my mind a lot.

This has also got me thinking about how in today's society, the role of the hero of myth is now played out by comic book superheroes and maybe even more so by their movie counterparts. 

Christopher Nolan quote

Rick Riordan

Edna Mode

And there are more.  So this week I am going to make some modern "gods" and recraft them as Wasted Lands heroes. 

As is my nature, I am going to lean in on DC Characters, or at least their archetypes.

So come back later today and all this week for some humans as superheroes as gods in the time of the Dreaming Age for Wasted Lands.

And don't forget to checkout and back the Wasted Lands Kickstarter too!


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Jenny, Larina and Valerie for the Doctor Who RPG Second Edition

So it is June, and historically June has been D&D month around here. Though I have to admit I have not been in a D&D mood all year.  I do have some things that fill that space certainly and will get to them.

Today though feels more like May 32nd. So I am going to do a little bit more with my Doctor Who posts and move on to other things.  And a good place to do that is to compare the three characters that I have been using for all my Doctor Who posts; Larina, Jenny Everywhere, and Valerie. 

The biggest difference between the 1st Edition and 2nd Edition Doctor Who RPGs is predominantly in character creation. Since I have three characters here that are a bit outside of the norm they make good test subjects for the new Distinctions.

Three Time Travelers meet in a bar

Who Are You?

So I have a public domain "shifter," an immortal from the 16th Century, and a witch vaguely aware of all her past lives. How do these three get together in a bar in Soho?

Thankfully I already have good ideas about who these characters are in the Doctor Who universe. I just need to get them to jell together.  Using the Shared Background Experiences table on p. 33 helps. 

  • Jenny has met other versions of Larina but sees that, unlike her, Larina is only vaguely aware of them. Larina wants to know what Jenny knows.
  • Jenny has come across Valerie in the past. Val thought Jenny was immortal, Jenny (never Jen) thought Val was another shifter. 
  • Val and Larina have known each other for years. Val has also interacted with Larina's past lives.
  • Jenny goes to Larina for a Tarot reading, and despite all the shuffling, all the cards when flipped over are blank. The same thing happens again with Valerie. 
  • This is the big one. All three try to avoid each other. Larina says they have strange auras, and not the same sort of strange. Jenny says the other two "buzz" and it gives her a headache. Val says that when they are together weirder than average shit happens. When it is all three the wierdness increases.

So when a chance meeting in a bar in Westminster one cold November night, things got weird.

Going back to the characters now and build them by the new rules. 

Jenny Everywhere

I have mentioned Jenny a lot. She is a great character for the Doctor Who game and maybe even a better character for this newer version.

As always, I must include her license:

"The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."

Concept: Shifter in time and space.

What does that mean? Well she can sense changes in time flow, she can move about realities, she knows things that she otherwise would not know or not be capable of knowing. This new edition is explicit on the fact that the Time War changed history and the future and what we thought happened didn't or happened differently. Jenny can sense that.

Focus: Adventure

Jenny is nothing if not about adventure. She doesn't bemoan her abilities or lot in life, she embraces them.

Distinction: Shifter

This is what she is. It defines her. Since this is a major one her Story Points are reduced per page 47.

Jenny Everywhere for the Doctor Who RPG 2nd Edition


Valerie Beaumont

To paraphrase the Doctor, she is not my character but I have put a lot of work into her. Valerie is an immortal and she is always search for others like her, somewhat out of companionship and kinship but mostly to discover why she is the way she is. 

Concept: Immortal seeker of knowledge

Everything about Val revolves around her desire to learn more about who she is and her place in this cosmos. 

Focus: Discovery

Val is cautious not to let people know who she is until she knows who they are first. But when it comes to a mystery or discovering something new she jumps in feet first and then figures out how she will land on the way down.

Distinctions: Immortal, striking appearance

This one was easy, and the examples are given in the book. She also takes a minor reduction in Story Points.

Valerie Beaumont for the Doctor Who RPG 2nd Edition for the Doctor Who RPG 2nd Edition


Larina Nichols

Ah. Now this girl. We go way back. 

She is a witch. Regardless what that means in any given world that is who she is. If anything she lives by the quote "A witch is not what you do it is who you are." Sounds like a Concept to me.

Concept: Modern Witch

She believes in magic, in the power of crystals and more. She does not view these as "paranormal" just "extra normal." Certainly in the universe of Doctor Who she can be justified.

Focus: Curiosity

Larina wants to know things just for the sake of knowing them. Her curiosity is insatiable and it gets her into trouble. A lot.

Distinctions: Psychic, striking appearance

Ah, now here is where the Distinctions work better than traits. In the First Edition, I had to buy a lot of traits to get her the powers I wanted, even if in a small bit. Here she takes a Major Distinction, Psychic and I work out with my GM (well...me) and figure out what she has when. So she is telepathic and empathic and can have visions of the future (precognitive) when needed.  There are plenty of examples of these sorts of humans in Doctor Who, well traveling with this bunch has turned her abilities up. Turned up so much that they might even become dangerous. 

The balance here is do I reduce her Story Points OR as the GM use her as a plot device?  Both sound appealing. 

Larina "Nix" Nichols for the Doctor Who RPG 2nd Edition for the Doctor Who RPG 2nd Edition

I have to admit. I rather love these. I knew with the new 2nd Edition system, things like my group of weirdos here would work so much better.

Right now the only thing keeping me in the First Edition game is inertia, but if I had too I could switch over to the Second Edition with no looking back.

We are the Weirdos Doctor.

I'll reiterate this with more clarity.

If you are new to RPGs and/or new to Doctor Who, then this is the version of the game to get.  Get to your FLGS (preferably) or Amazon (if you must) and grab a copy. Or if you are a Save the Trees type (good for you!) then head over to DriveThruRPG and grab a copy in PDF. It has everything you need except dice.