Showing posts with label class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label class. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2020

5e Witch Project: Hidden Oddities, A Witch’s Primer

Here we are at the end of all my 5e Witch class reviews.  I was saving this one for last just because it is so complete and there is so much here.  

Again, I am following my own rules for reviewing these; I want to stay fair. 

Hidden Oddities, A Witch’s Primer
By Eva M. Brown

Hidden Oddities is a monster of a book.  At 154 pages for a single class it has my attention.  Also at 154 pages, no point in figuring out how much is content vs. title, ogl and the like.  It is a beast of a book.

This book rivals any other published book for the D&D 5 game or any other game.  The layout is great, with crisp easy to read text. The artwork is fantastic.  And the authors know their OGL.  I should really just say "Author".  While it looks like Eva M. Brown surrounded herself with a great team to work on this, it is obvious from the reading that this is a single voice and author vision. 

Up first is a Foreword and it becomes obvious that this book is just more than a witch class. There is a bit of world-building going on as well.  This can only be a good thing in my mind.   There are Seven Chapters in this book. 

Chapter 1 covers the Introduction, what this book is about and the list of Kickstarter backers.

Chapter 2 is the Witch Class.  There are little quotes and “magical text” all throughout the book that really gives it a nice feel.  Break the code of the magical text for more information!

And in a bit of “magic text” of my own, “yes Eva, I do think we will be great friends!”

We start off in a place I think it great.  Background.  There are also d6 tables of “I Became  A Witch Because…”, a d6 table of “We Whisper to Each Other By…”, “Our Relationship Is…” and “My Curios Are…”  This is great stuff and perfect not just for EVERY D&D5/DMsGuild Witch I have reviewed but nearly every witch I can think of (and that is a lot is I can be so bold).

An aside. Curios are a great idea. I love them. I wish I had come up with them first.

The witch is a full 20 levels spellcaster. She can’t use armor and has 1d6 HD.

Instead of getting spell slots the witch gets curios, which are tiny mundane object that can store spells.  The witch records her spells in her spell book but uses that knowledge to charge her curios.  The witch gains two spells per level (four at level 1) of any spell level she can cast, half her own level rounded up.  This means the witch can know up to 42 spells. She can only cast the number of spells as she has curios.

The witch also gains an otherworldly companion. These are roughly the same as Familiars, but can be more than just animals.  The witch’s other worldly companion teaches the witch, Witch Script. It is invisible to all non-witches save for when detect magic is cast on it.

The Witch Archetypes are known as Sacred Secrets. There are also some powers known as Arcane Wonders.  

Between these, the different types of otherworldly companions and the various types of Curios, there should be an unlimited variety of witches one can create with this book.

Chapter 3 covers the Sacred Secrets.  Each one has their own background, Arcane Wonders and other powers.  Again, these are treated like subclasses, Traditions, or Covens in other books.  There are 14 of these and are all quite details have a lot of great potential.

Chapter 4 (mis-labeled Chapter 3 in text) are Additional Options.  This is a great chapter and one often forgotten about by other authors of Witch classes (including myself on occasion) and that is other archetypes for other classes.  There is a new Druid Circle, a Fighter Archetype, A Paladin Oath, a Ranger Archetype, and a Wizard Tradition. There are also new backgrounds, complete with personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, for any class.

This chapter also has a number of new feats and some new equipment.

Chapter 5 gives us Spells.  Here there are 111 new spells. Overtly for witches they can be used by other classes as well.  Some of these spells share the same or similar names with spells I have written, enough to make me do a double take.  But it is obvious from reading them that these are not used OGC, merely the result of both Eva Brown and myself reading a lot of the same source materials.  Which in a way is really cool.

Chapter 6 Lore is our world-building chapter. Here we get some organizations the could belong too, or are against the witches. Even if you only use them as ideas or seeds there is a lot here to add to any game.   Membership, leaders (some detailed), goals and headquarters are all detailed.   Nine such organizations are detailed here.

The Appendices cover how to choose a companion, what equipment you might need and the roles of the witch. 

Additionally, there is art information and a Witch’s Script translation guide.  OGL and a four-page Character sheet.

While this might not be my favorite 5e Witch class, it is my favorite 5e Witch book.  There is just so much here that is great and really grabs my imagination.

I mentioned before that the art is great, but it really needs to be re-said.  This is a great book.

You can also get the Character Sheet for PWYW.  It works nicely with other witch classes as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

5e Witch Project: The Witch A 5e Compatible Class

Getting back to more 5e Witch classes today I wanted to review one from Hope Punk Press that caught my eye.    Again, these are OGL based classes, but I am still following my own rules on reviewing them.

The Witch: A 5e Compatible Class
by Brandon Elliott, Hope Punk Press

This is a 26-page pdf (cover, 2 OGL pages, 23 pages of content) for the witch class.  The art is good and used well. The layout is good and very clean to read, but the background image makes printing a bit expensive. 

This witch is also a full 20 levels (as expected) with spellcasting to the 9th level.  This witch has 1d6 for HD and can’t wear armor.  These witches use Intelligence as their spellcasting ability.  This witch is a ritual caster.   

These witches choose a magical conduit; eight are presented here in two broad categories. Each one gains a list of bonus spells and new powers as expected of any archetype/subclass.   Other conduits could easily be added to these lists. 

The two broad categories, Dawn and Dusk witches have slightly different spell lists.  This is a nice touch and something I have done with my various Traditions for my own witches. 

There also 11 new spells for this witch so that is pretty nice.   

A discussion on magic items, feats, and spells from other books to add to the witch.  With the way the conduits are put together, there is infinite flexibility to this witch.  

This one has quite a lot going for it as well. It takes the witch in different directions and I like it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

5e Witch Project: Complete Witch

I am still reviewing 5e Witch classes, but now I am expanding my reviews to the OGL-based publications and not DMsGuild ones.  I am going to still follow the rules I have set up for this month of reviews, though I can also be a little more critical of these publications since I am also expecting a higher caliber of production value.

Up first is the Complete Witch from Mage Hand Press.  

Complete Witch
from Mage Hand Press

This book is 41 pages (cover, table of contents, credits, OGL, for 37 pages of content).  

This PDF sells for $5.99, but currently is $4.99 for the Halloween sales.  Given that the art is more expensive for an OGL book than a DMsGuild book I am not sure if my 10 cents per page rule of thumb is appropriate anymore.  In any case, this one is very close to that.

If my expectations were for better art, design and production then Mage Hand has met those expectations and surpassed them.  The layout is extremely clean and readable.  The art is fantastic and liberally used.  The cover in particular is very dynamic.  This is a product that grabs your attention.

The witch class itself is a full 20 level caster with spells to the 9th level.  The witch has a number of cantrips known and a maximum number of spells known.  This witch also gets something called “Hexes” at the first level and these progress.  The witch has 1d8 HD. She is a charisma based spell caster and can cast ritual spells.  Ok so far every box has been checked.  

Each witch also has a curse. Now this is a nice touch and I really like it.  I am not going to detail the curses here, you should really buy it to see, but I am very, very fond of the Burned, Hideous and Hallow.  But the coolest is Visions.  As a DM I’d use that one to my advantage.

As the witch progresses she gains other powers.  Most notably the Hexes. These are roughly equal to the Hexes of the Pathfinder Witch or even of the Occult Powers of my witches. There are a good number of them, including Grand Hexes.

The Archetypes of this Witch are the Witch’s Crafts.  I would call these Traditions and others call them Covens.  But regardless of the names, they work really well.   Each craft gains a list of additional spells and choices of Hexes unique to that craft. There are 14 different Crafts.  I would have gone for 13 myself, but hey I am not going to complain here.  Special shout out for the Tea Magic Witches. 

IF that was all that this publication gave us, then frankly I would call myself happy and been good.  But that is only half the book.

Up next we get a Chapter (yes a proper chapter) on Familiars. There are many new ones introduced here too. There are 17 here including the very inspired Pet Rock (I am nor joking! I love it!) 

Chapter 3 covers spells.  This is the witches' spell list AND new spells. There are 18 new spells here.  For a D&D 5 book that is a lot.   But again, that is not everything we also get some new Dark Rituals. There are 11 of these and they remind me a lot, in form and function, of the Ritual Spells I also give my witches.  They are very well done. 

We get a new god/monster/elder thing.

We end with an Appendix on Epic Boons! (This is a first!)

At 41 pages, this one packs a huge punch. 

I can’t find a single issue with this product save for a couple of nit-picky layout issues.  It is really, really good. 

I had very high expectations and this product met and surpassed them all. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Plays Well With Others: BASSH, Basic Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I love my Basic-era games, Holmes, B/X, and BECMI and their clones.
BUT I also love Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The games are similar of course, drawing from the same sources, but there are also a few differences. 

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (AS&SH) is more closely aligned with "Advanced Era" D&D, but its feel for me has always been more OD&D, though over the last few years I have been treating it as another flavor of Basic.  


I have mentioned in the past that I see AS&SH as a good combination of B/X and AD&D rules.  Essentially it is what we were playing back in the early 80s.  Where I grew up it was not uncommon to come to a game where people would have an AD&D Monster Manual, a Holmes Basic book, and a Cook/Marsh Expert Book.  The rules we played by were also an equally eclectic mix.
AS&SH is like that. It favors the AD&D side more, but there are enough B/X influences that I smile to myself when I see them.

In fact, it works so well with Basic that I have featured AS&SH with other Basic-era books in previous "Plays Well With Others."
I find the game that useful and that inspiring.

Class Struggles: Which Each Game Offers
Originally this was going to be a Class Struggles post, but with the inclusion of the monsters below, I felt it had grown beyond just that.  

If Basic-era D&D lacks anything in my opinion it is class options. Yes. I know the classes are supposed to be archetypes to play anything.  A "Fighter" works for a Paladin, a Ranger, a Barbarian, a Knight, and so on.  But I like a little game mechanics with my flavor.  I also like to have choices.

AS&SH achieves this in a beautiful way that can be adopted by any Basic-era game, but in particular, ones that cleave closest to the original sources and of course Holmes, B/X and BECMI.

So we are going to go beyond the Basic Four (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Theif) here.  I'll talk about demi-humans in a bit.

In AS&SH we have our Basic Four; Fighter, Magician, Cleric, and Thief.  Each also gets a number of subclasses.  Fighters get  Barbarian, Berserker, Cataphract, Huntsman, Paladin, Ranger, and Warlock.  The Magician has the Cyromancer (a new favorite of mine), Illusionist, Necromancer, Pyromancer, and Witch (an old favorite of mine).  The Cleric has the Druid, Monk, Priest, Runegraver, and Shaman (see BECMI).  Finally, the Thief has the Assassin, Bard, Legerdemainist,  Purloiner, and the Scout.  Each subclass is very much like it's parent classes with some changes. Every class goes to the 12th level.


Looking over at the Basic side of things we have a few more choices.  Holmes, B/X, and BECMI all cover the Basic Four in more or less the same ways.  BECMI gives us the additions of Paladin, Avenger, Knight, Druid, Mystic, and the NPC/Monster classes of Shaman and Wicca/Wokani/Witch.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord gives us the Assassin, Druid, Illusionist, Monk, Paladin, Ranger in addition to the Basic Four.

Old-School Essentials' Advanced options give us the Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Illusionist, Knight, Paladin, and Ranger.  It also gives us the new race-as-classes Drow, Duergar, Gnome, Half-elf, and Svirfneblin.

The B/X RPG from Pacesetter has the Druid, Monk, Necromancer, Paladin, and Ranger along with the Gnome and Half-elf.  (Yes, a review for this is coming)


AS&SH classes go to the 12th level.  Basic classes, at least B/X flavored ones, go to the 14th level.  I like the idea of splitting the difference and going to the 13th level. 

Additionally, AS&SH has different cultures of humans to provide more flavor to the human classes.

All the Basic-era books have demi-humans that AS&SH lacks. Lacks is a strong word, the game doesn't need demi-humans by design, but they are still fun to have.  Combining these gives us the best of all worlds! Kelt Elves? Dwarf Picts? Lemurian Gnomes?!  This could be a lot of fun.

Plus the mix of cultures in AS&SH is second only to mix found in BECMI Mystara in terms of "let's just throw it all in there!"

I might let people choose one of the Basic Four and stealing a page from D&D5 allow them at 2nd or 3rd level to take "sub-class."  I'll have to see what the various classes all get at first level vs 2nd and 3rd level.

Monsters! Monsters!
It's can't be denied that AS&SH has some great monsters.  Not only does it give us demons and devils (Basic-era is lacking on both) but also Lovecraftian horrors.  Sure, "At The Mountains of Madness" took place at the South Pole, who is to say there is not a similar outpost in the North? 

BECMI does talk about "The Old Ones" a lot and in the Core Rules is never very clear on who or what they are.  But it is not a stretch to think that those Old Ones and the Lovecraftian Old Ones have a connection.  


Oddly enough these things feel right at home in a Basic game.  If one goes back to the Masters and Immortals sets with the original idea that the Known World is our world millions of years ago this tracks nicely with some Lovecraftian mythology of our world.

I have talked about Demons in Basic/Mystara already, but AS&SH offers us "The Usual Suspects" and then some.  While Labyrinth Lord has always been good about opening the "Advanced" monsters to the Basic world, the monsters of AS&SH are of a different sort.

Maybe more so than the classes these require a bit more conversion.  Here is a monster we are all familiar with (and one I am doing something with later), drawing from the same sources to give us three or four different stat-blocks. 




Well. Not that different I guess. They are left to right, top to bottom, Advanced Labyrinth Lord, AS&SH, OSE, and B/X RPG.

AS&SH looks like a "best of" stats, combining features from both Basic and Advanced. Bite damage does a bit more on the average and the XP value is higher.  But nothing I am going to call game-breaking.

So the AS&SH monsters can be dropped pretty much "as is" into a Basic-era game. 

Anyone that plays these games should have no trouble with this really.

Putting it all Together and then Putting it in the North
It's settled then, AS&SH is part of my "Basic World" and where to put it is easy.
In the Known World of Mystara, there is already a Hyboria. It is one of the features of both D&D (Mystara) and AD&D (Hyperboria, Oerth) just as Blackmoor is (Mystara, Oerth). but Blackmoor is a topic for another day.

While none of the maps can be reconciled with each other to make one perfect Hyperboria, the concepts certainly can. This is something I have been considering since I first got the 1st Edition Boxed set.
I know that my family of witches, the Winters, come from the Hyperborean area.  Likely closer to more civilized areas, but not too civilized.  This became the basis for my Winter Witch book. 

BASSH is Born
So take what I love from AS&SH, mix in what I love from Basic and I have Basic Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, or BASSH.  Yeah. This will be fun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Class Struggles: The BECMI Prestige Classes

A slightly different sort of Class Struggles today.
Yesterday I reviewed the Companion Set Rules.  Within those rules some new "sub-classes" or "traveling classes" were introduced.  Let me summarize here.

Druids are Neutral clerics of 9th level or greater dedicated to the cause of Nature. They are non-land owning and not devoted to another lord or cause.
Knight a Neutral (or any alignment) traveling fighter, that is a non-land owning fighter. Must swear fealty to a royal ruler.
Paladin a Lawful traveling fighter who swears fealty to a Lawful church.
Avenger a Chaotic traveling fighter who swears allegiance to a Chaotic church.

There are others, such as Guildmasters and Magists, but those four are the focus of my attention this week.


Looking over the rules I can't help but think of how much these resemble what would be known as a Prestige Class in 3.x D&D.  In fact let's make a direct comparison between the Avenger and the Blackguard, an evil fighter prestige class.

According to the d20 SRD for 3.0 a Blackguard must meet the following requirements.  I am putting D&D BECMI equivalent translations in brackets [].
Alignment: Any evil.  [chaotic]
Base Attack Bonus: +6. [at least 6th level]
Skills: Hide 5 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 2 ranks. [again at least 6th level with some knowledge of religion so high wisdom is good]
Feats: Cleave, Improved Sunder, Power Attack. [knows some combat maneuvers]
Special: The character must have made peaceful contact with an evil outsider who was summoned by him or someone else.  [makes allegiances to an evil religion.]

Given the systems, the Blackguard is pretty much the same as an Avenger.
Back in the 3.x days, there was even a Paladin Prestige Class that you had to be a fighter or a cleric to qualify for.  It made a lot of sense to me.


So a Knight, Paladin, and the Avenger can all be seen rather easily seen as BECMI Prestige Classes.
In 3e, Prestige Classes were designed to be open to any class, but some were easier to get into if you started in the right class. Some were limited to class, but not "on paper" so a Prestige Class limited only to clerics could say "must be able to cast divine spells" or "ability to turn undead."  Yeah, it was sneaky, but a fighter could take a level of cleric and be able to get in.

So I am thinking that in BECMI prestige classes would have to be "Base Class" specific.
What do I mean by "Base Class?" Well, these are your Cleric, Fighter, Magi-User, and Theif classes.
In D&D 3.x a difference is made between a Base Class and a Prestige Class.   Why would I even care?  Well, looking at classes in this light gives me a ton of new options.  For starters it allows me to be able to add classes to my BECMI games and not add the bloat of an extra set of class rules.  It also allows me to explore all sorts of other options for a class.
It also allows me to have these new classes, often treated like a multi-class or dual-class without the need for a bunch of messing with double noting of XP rewards.

There are other examples.
The book GAZ3: Principalities of Glantri covers the Seven Secret Crafts of Magic in Glantri.  Each one of these could be seen as Magic-user specific prestige classes.  The Master's set introduced the Shaman and Wokani classes.  Not to mention all the various "witch-like" classes I have covered from other BECMI books.  I am sure there are more to be honest with you, I just have not had the chance to dig them all up yet.

BECMI Prestige Classes

How then can you use the 3.x Prestige Classes, or for that matter 2nd ed. Kits, 4e Paragon Paths or 5e sub-classes, in BECMI?  Simple find classes that work for you first.

So I am going to start up a BECMI campaign and I know that one of my sons is going to want to play an assassin and the other will want to play a ranger.

Both classes are in AD&D and in most versions of the game.   How can I bring them in?

Well, the simple solution is to import the class wholesale, but I guess at that point why not just play AD&D?  I want something that is more Basic-feeling.  I would need to add some more details, but here are some ideas.

Acrobat
A thief that steals not for profit or personal gain but instead for the thrills and even the challenge could become an Acrobat.  These thieves can be Neutral and even some Lawful.  I would follow the guidelines in the Unearthed Arcana.

Assassin
This class was removed from AD&D 2nd Ed and absent in D&D 3e as a base class.  It does exist as a 3e Prestige Class and a 5e Sub-class. In the case of 3e the fastest way in is to start out as a Rogue.  In 5e you have to be a Rogue first.  The 5e SRD only lists one sub-class or archetype, the Thief.
The BECMI Assassin starts out as a Thief but at some point becomes an assassin.  I am going to say 8th or 9th level, and they would need to be Chaotic. They can use poison, but a limited number of weapons, armor, and no shields.

Illusionist
These are Magic-users that focus completely on Illusion Magic. They have their own spell lists like the druid does.  They do not build their own towers but are often entertainer magicians for courts and other notables of power.

Ranger
These are fighters that are dedicated to nature, much like the druid, and focus on a particular enemy.
They cannot become Lords or Ladies, but instead, have a small stronghold.  Fighters of 9th level or higher may become rangers.

These ideas can be easily extended.

Necromancers
Have their own spell list. Do not build towers but may take over any ruins. Command undead.  The existence of Illusionists and Necromancers could also imply other schools of magic like AD&D 2nd Speciality wizards.  I suppose I could just import those. Other options are like the School of Magic in Glantri.

Bards
Oh man, these guys in AD&D are a mess.  But I would steal a page from 2nd Ed and make them Thief-like and have them improve their fighting skills a little and give them some druid magic.  OR go the Celtic route and make them part of the Cleric class.  Still thinking on this one.

Looking at 3.x a few jump out right away.  In addition to the Blackguard and the Assassin, I can easily see adapting the Arcane Archer for elves and the Dwarven Delver for Dwarves.



There can be many, many more.  With five other editions of *D&D to choose from there is no end to what could be done. 

Now I am sure some people might complain about "class bloat" and that is a fair argument.  I think keeping to the base four (or base five if you count my witch) then adding the other Prestige Classes on an as-needed basis. 

Or, even closer to the spirit of the rules, add these as "role-playing guides" only.  I mean really what is to stop a player from saying "my elf is an arcane archer!" and make the choice to only use a bow?  Maybe the DM and the group can decide that this elf can add +1 to hits with their bow due to their dedication.  Simple fix and no new rules added!

Make some use out of that multitude of books I own.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

New Release: The Warlock for Old-School Essentials

Once again evil witches gather to celebrate Walpurgis Night and good witches celebrate Beltane.

And once again the Warlocks join the festivities.

The Warlock for Old-School Essentials



Mine is the Power!

Power. Humans have always sought it.
Clerics pray for it. Wizards study for it.

Warlocks take it.

Introducing the Warlock class for your Old-School RPGs.

- Four new warlock pacts: Chaos, Cosmic, Death, and Dragon.
- 78 Warlock spells including Cantrips
- 13 new spells for clerics, druids, illusionists, and magic-users each.
- 55 Warlock Invocations, the ultimate expression of their power!
- Magic items and warlock patrons.

Fully compatible with Old-School Essentials and other Basic-Era Games.
Fully compatible with other witch and warlock books from The Other Side.

Requires Old-School Essential Core Rules.

Cover Art by Conner Meek.  Some interior art by Jeff Dee.

POD version on the way.

This book is 100% compatible with The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition also for Old-School Essentials. In fact it is written so warlocks can use witch spells (up to 5th level) and witches can use warlock spells.   The two groups of classes are also natural antagonists for each other.

This book is also 95%(*) compatible with The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry
Both warlock books feature pacts, invocations, spells, and lodges.  There is some minor overlap (invocations like Arcane Blast, some spells) but otherwise, each book adds to the other.  Expand the warlocks spell list and invocations.






Thursday, March 19, 2020

Which Witch is Which? Basic Era Edition

A while back I did a post, Which Witch is Which? Swords & Wizardry Edition in which I broke down all the various S&W witch books I had done.  What each contained and what they covered.

I have since done a few more books and that question is being asked again.  Since my goal here is to get you to buy the one book you really want instead of three or four you might like.

Let's break them all down.


Let's start with my first Witch book.

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games
This book is designed with the "Basic" rules in mind.  So Holmes, Moldvay, or Mentzer or them modern clones like Basic Fantasy or Labyrinth Lord.  Largely compatible with my Swords & Wizardry line.  In includes:
  • The Witch Class, levels 1 to 36
  • Six Traditions (Aquarian, Classical, Faerie, Family, Maleficia and Eclectic)
  • Cantrips for witches
  • 381 New Spells, 20 New Witch Rituals
  • 29 Monsters
  • Magic items
  • 120 pages
This book is the most basic of the Basic witches.  If you don't know which book to get, get this one.

Then I opted to do other books.

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Labyrinth Lord game.
The witches of this book are from the Mara Tradition, witches dedicated to the Dark Mother.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • Spell bonuses for high Charisma
  • Level limits for Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Half-orc and Halfling witches
  • The Daughters of Darkness coven
  • 175 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • 39 Monsters to challenge or be allies including the Lilim demon race.
  • 3 Non-player characters. 
    • “Bloody” Mary Worth
    • Darlessa, The Queen of Vampires 
    • Lilith, Queen and Mother of all Lilim
  • 80 pages. 
If you like your witches evil, have powers to seduce people, summon demons or raise undead then this is your book.

Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Blueholme Prentice Rules game.
The witches of this book are a revised version of the Amazon Tradition, witches associated witht he Amazons and Diana.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • The witch class and two new witch covens
  • 40 Spells and 8 Rituals for witch characters
  • 26 Pages.
If you want to play an Amazon witch, then this is your book.  This book is also FREE, so grab it anyway.


The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games
This book is designed for the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules game.
The witches of this book are a revised version of the Classical Tradition, some of the first witches the world has known.  Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • The witch class and four new combination classes, using Blueholme rules
    • Witch-Cleric, Witch-Fighter, Witch-Theif, Witch-Magic User
  • Guidelines for playing any species of witch
  • Six witch covens of the Classical Tradition
  • 120 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • 25 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  • 29 magic items and six artifacts
  • Three Non-player character witches from pages of mythology
    • Circe
    • Medea
    • Medusa
  • 84 pages.
If you want to play witches from a Greek, Roman or Egyptian background then this is your book.

The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition
This book is designed for the Labyrinth Lord game.
The witches of this book are from the Pumpkin Spice Tradition. A somewhat silly origin that led to one of my favorite traditions.
  • Levels 1 to 20
  • Spell bonuses for high Charisma
  • Level limits for Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Half-orc and Halfling witches
  • The Sisterhood coven
  • 122 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • New magic items including magic cauldrons, masks, and tea. Plus the magic item black market
  • 24 Monsters
  • 3 Non-player characters
    • Becky
    • Karen
    • Carol
  • 64 Pages.
If you want to play a "Hollywood" style witch or a witch with some unique spells then this is your book.

This book is designed for the Old-School Essentials game.  
The witches of this book are members of the Craft of the Wise, the Pagan tradition of northern Europe.
  • Levels 1 to 14
  • The Bándrui and Followers of Aradia covens
  • Cowans, the champions of the witch
  • 100 Spells and Rituals for witch and non-witch characters
  • 28 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  • 4 Non-player characters
    • Bodhmal
    • Liath Luchara
    • Alice Kyteler
    • Morgane le Fey
  • 66 Pages.
If you want to play a pagan witch or a follower of "the Old Ways", then this is the book for you.

All the books are pretty much inter-compatible.  The witches all use the same XP, to hit and saving throw tables.  Sometimes there are differences between what level the witch goes to or what species can become witches, but that is also something that can be worked out in your games.

If you want to mix and match Basic-Era and Swords & Wizardry that is also fine and will work well.

So let's say you want a Basic-era Tiefling Winter Witch.  Or you want to play a Pagan Witch to level 20? You just get the books with those and mix as you like.

Now if you are curious about what is in each book, well the preview on DriveThru covers the first few pages including the table of contents.  But sometimes you want more details.

So here is a break down of all 1,060 spells I have used and 229 monsters.

Witch Books - Google Sheets



I hope this helps you make a good choice!

I have a couple more I want to do.  One is a book on High Witchcraft (Ceremonial) and then either a Demonic witch or a Blood magic witch.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Catgirls for Old-School Essentials

"Cats" is out. And it is really, really bad. How bad? So bad that I am DYING to see it.  In fact, we are going to tomorrow as a family. And we are dressing as cats.   We are going 100% Rocky Horror Picture Show on this.

I figure let's have some Catgirls for Old-School Essentials!

Nekojin (Catgirl)

Requirements: Minimum DEX 9
Prime requisites: DEX and CHA
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 9
Weapons: Any (must be modified)
Armor: none or leather only
Languages: Alignment, Common, Elf, Nekojin*  

Catgirls, also known as Nekojin, are a humanoid race that have prominent cat-like features.  These include furry cat ears on the top of their head, cat eyes, canine...er...feline teeth and whiskers. Their pupils are slits like that of a cat. They also have long cattails and their hands and feet resemble a cross between cat paws and humanoid hands and feet.  Their nails are in fact retractable claws.   They typically weigh about 110 pounds and are between 5 and 5½ feet tall. Their human-ish faces give them the look of kittens. This, in addition, their size, often leads non-Nekojin to treat them as if they were younger than they truly are.

The typical nekojin can live to about 50 years of age. They reach maturity by age 7 and will begin adventuring between ages 6 and 8. Nekojin have their own language, but they can also learn the language of humans (Common) and Elves (Sylvan).

Combat
Nekojin can use any weapon that has been modified for their hands (increased cost +25%), but they avoid armor except for leather.

Detect Invisible / Spirits
Nekojin have a supernatural heritage, so they can see invisible creatures or spirits in the spirit planes on a roll of 1 or 2 on a d6.

Infravision
Nekojin have infravision rp 90'.

After Reaching 9th Level
A nekojin that reaches 9th level may choose to retire and raise a brood of their own or be reborn into a new kitten (1st level) with no memories of their former life.  On their 9th life they will remember all past lives and skills.

Table 1: Nekojin Advancement and Saving Throws


Level
XP 
HD
D
W
P
B
S
1 0 1d6 12 14 12 16 15
2 2,000 2d6 12 14 12 16 15
3 4,000 3d6 12 14 12 16 15
4 8,000 4d6 10 12 11 14 13
5 16,000 5d6 10 12 11 14 13
6 32,000 6d6 10 12 11 14 13
7 64,000 7d6 8 10 9 12 11
8 128,000 8d6 8 10 9 12 11
9 256,000 9d6 8 10 9 12 11

Table 2: Nekojin to Hit vs. AC
To Hit
Level -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
2 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
3 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
4 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
5 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5
6 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5
7 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
8 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
9 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Class Struggles: The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

I have not done one of these in a while, and this one seems like a no-brainer.

The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

Maybe more so than AD&D, the witch, in one form or the other, has been a part of the Basic D&D game from the early days. 

Holmes Basic
The "Holmes Witch" has been talked about in old-school blogs for years, mine included.  The so-called Holmes witch never materialized, but it kept us waiting for years and kept bloggers entertained for even longer.

GAZ3: Principalities of Glantri
This is, without a doubt, my favorite of all the Gazetteers and one of my all-time favorite Basic-era books.  I reviewed this book in depth a while back and one of the most overt witches in my Basic book collection.
The Witches of Glantri are some of the most detailed of the Basic-era witches.  It's no lie, that red-head on the cover of the Glantri book was one of the inspirations for where I took my own witch character, even if the book came out a year after I rolled up the character (July 1986 for the character and June of 87 for the Glantri book if I remember right.  OR at least that was when I got it).

One thing I don't care for so much with this class is the charisma reduction, but it seems to come up a lot.

I detailed at least one witch, Skylla, using this witch class and it worked out well.  Also, years and years ago, I redid the Glantri witch to make it something closer to my Complete Netbook of Witches for AD&D 2nd ed.

In the AD&D 2nd Ed version of this book, Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, the witch is completely replaced by the Wokani.

GAZ7: Northern Reaches
This Gazetteer covers the lands Ostland, Vestland, and the Soderfjord Jarldoms.  I REALLY wanted to use this back in the 80s with the G-Series.
This book features the Wise Woman (Witches).  This class is considered an NPC Class, but we all know what that means right?  They get a nice balance of both Magic-user and Cleric spells (up to the 6th level), along with the ability to use magical runes.  I kinda wish I had done more with runes in my own Winter Witch book.
The treat I found here was Carrah the Witch Queen of Hel.   Given the focus on Basic/Expert rules, I would likely have made her 14th level.  Or more likely 13th. But there is some good backstory on her here. While the temptation would be to make her a Winter Witch, I think given her unliving status and her ties to Hel she might be more of a Mara Witch.  Maybe a Winter Witch who had been in a Mara coven.

D&D Master Rules Boxed Set
The D&D Master Rules, also the one I know the least about, has rules for non-human spell casters.  Shamans, who can use cleric and druid spells, and the Wicca who can use Magic-user spells.  The list of spells given to Wicca certainly has a witch feel to them. They are really only missing a cure spell or two.

Spells Usable by Wiccas
First Level Magic-User Spells
Detect Magic (B39)
Light (B40)
Protection from Evil (B40)
Read Languages (B40)
Read Magic (B40)
Sleep (B40)

Second Level Magic-User Spells
Continual Light* (B41, XI1)
Detect Evil (B41)
Detect Invisible (B41)
Invisibility (B41)
Levitate (B42)
Web (B42)

Third Level Magic-User Spells
Clairvoyance (XI1)
Dispel Magic (XI1)
Fire Ball (XI1)
Fly (XI2)
Lightning Bolt (Xl2)
Water Breathing (XI2)

Fourth Level Magic-User Spells
Charm Monster (X13)
Growth of Plants* (XI3)
Ice Storm/Wall (X13)
Massmorph(X13)
Remove Curse* (X14)
Wall of Fire (XI4)

Fifth Level Magic-User Spells
Animate Dead (XI4)
Cloudkill(X14)
Dissolve* (C20)
Hold Monster* (XI5)
Pass-Wall (XI5)
Wall of Stone (X15)

Sixth Level Magic-User Spells
Death Spell (XI6)
Move Earth (C21)
Projected Image (X16)
Reincarnation (C21)
Stone to Flesh* (XI6)
Wall of Iron (C21)
* reversible spell

The shaman and wicca are used throughout the Basic line in future books, though the name would later be changed to Wokan or Wokani.

GAZ10: Orcs of Thar
This Gazetteer covers playing orcs, goblinoids, gnolls and other humanoid creatures.  It also has a guide for using the book with AD&D. Goblinoid wicca are featured here but they use the rules already outlined in the Master's book.

PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk
Several non-human creatures are given options for Wicca levels. There are also plenty of new spells for Fairy spell-casters.  Many have since gone on in other products to have even stronger witch associations.  I reviewed this one in-depth yesterday.

PC2 Top Ballista
This also covers several spellcaster non-humans and new races.  In particular, we get gnomes and harpy wicca.  Gnomes advance to level 12 as wicca which is not too bad really.

PC3 The Sea People
Sea Wicca are also presented in this book but by this time we know what to expect.

D&D Rules Cyclopedia
By this point, the Wicca has been renamed to the Wokan, or the plural Wokani.  The spells usable are largely the same. That is to say, no obvious differences jumped out at me.  It also includes a fairly comprehensive list of monsters and what level they can advance to.  Interestingly enough Hags do not cast as Wokani, but rather they cast as clerics.

So. Wicca, Wise Women, and Wokani.  All three share a certain level of similarity and have, over the editions, been used in place of the other.  A good example takes all the way back to the dawn of D&D, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor.  Not the original Blackmoor, but the versions we got from 3rd and 4th edition.  For the 4th edition rules I talked a bit about the Wokani and their relationship to both witches and druids.  That version is no longer available, but the 3rd Edition version is.

Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Core Campaign Book
This is not a Basic-era book. This is a 3rd Edition book, or more to the point, a d20 book.  I bring it up only because we get the Wokani here again.  They read more like primitive arcane spellcasters with a closer tie to the natural world.  That would work fine with most of the products above, to be honest.  These casters use wisdom as their prime and spellcasting ability.  The Blackmoor connection intensifies with it sharing a few gods with the Basic Gazetteers. In particular Hel (Gaz7) and Hella (Blackmoor).  There are more, but that is the one that interests me the most.
The Wokani here seems to move further away from the Glantri Witch, but there are still plenty of commonalities.

Honorable Mentions
I could let things go without a mention of the witches Karelena, Solorena & Trilena from Rahasia. Though these seem to be more of the "witches as weird female magic-users" rather than as witches as I usually mean.

Also, the witch class from Dragon Magazine #20 should get a mention as well.

There is a lot of material here, but not say as much as you could find for the wizard or cleric.  The witch remains one of the great almost-classes of D&D.  Given the dates of all of these works including Dragon Magazine #114, it seems I was tapping into something needed back in 86.   Or, more to the point, we were all exposed to the same influences in culture and this is another fine example of parallel development.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

This Old Dragon: Issue #53

Time again to set the Wayback machine, TARDIS or DeLorean back to a time when hair was feathered and big and that was just on the guys. "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie dominates the airwaves. The Summer's biggest hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark, still rules the movie theatres.   Sandra Day O'Connor becomes first woman justice on U.S. Supreme Court. In Dallas, a child is born with a huge destiny, known to us today as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.  On the shelves are the last three parts of the A series for Advanced D&D and B3 for Basic D&D and issue #53 of This Old Dragon!

Again, no cover for this one which is a shame since I consider it one of my favorites.  It's one form Clyde Caldwell of a woman wizard and a black dragon.  It is a pretty simple cover but the colorful background really sells it to me.  The blonde wizard doesn't hurt either. Kim Mohan's editorial (below) tells that this picture is called "Dragon Spell".

Publisher Jake Jaquet has an editorial on the "Assassination" game that was popular at the time. We played it in high school a lot. Got into a lot of trouble too.  Jaquet goes on about this is "not" role-playing.  It's not, but I also don't think anyone ever claimed it.  Interesting snapshot of the time.

Editor Kim Mohan lets us know about finding the gem that is The Garden Nefaron.  We will get into that later.

Out on A Limb covers the ethics of reprint exact copies of old issues. Another reader lets us know he has been a DM for 3 years (which is at the time about half of D&D's lifespan) and he wants more PC classes not NPC classes, like the Witch, the Anti-Paladin and more.

Speaking of which, Philip Meyers is up first with Why isn't this monk smiling?  A new take on the AD&D monk class.  I am a long time removed from the AD&D 1st ed monk, so I have no idea how well this article covers it.  As a class read through though it feels pretty good to be honest.  To date I have played exactly 1 monk character, so I also have no play experience to back me up on this.

Continuing the monk discussion is Defining and Realigning the Monk by Steven D. Howard and Sage Advice which cover monk questions.  Both look to cover questions and rule interpretations regarding the monk.  Again, I wish I had some good monk anecdotes from the time to share, but I never really was interested in the class except in an academic way.

That section ends with an ad for my most desired "Holy Grail" item. A set of intact, still in the blister case, blue Dragon Dice.


I still have a full set, but I would love to have some that are still on the card.  These and the Percentile ones on the dark blue card.

Speaking of classes, here's a new one!  And one I don't believe I knew about.

The Oracle: When he talks, everybody listens by Andrew Dewar is up.  Before I delve into what looks like a really good class but I have to ask; why "he"?  The most famous oracles in history have been female. Why not "She"?  It's a minor point but one that irks me. Granted TSR/Dragon/Dewar were addressing their audience, who was primarily male, but this was a HUGE missed opportunity in my mind.  Though EVERY example given is female.


Anyway, off my soapbox now, the class is pretty cool.   The Oracle needs a good combination of Wisdom and Intelligence which makes sense since they situated between Clerics and Magic-Users.  They have a lot of shared spells with the Cleric and Magic-User classes and even some Witch spells from a previous Dragon.  The class is spread out over the issue but takes up seven pages.  I think I should check it out in more detail.  Maybe compare it to the Pathfinder Oracle class some. That would be fun.  There are a lot of different types of divination mentioned in this article as well.  Great for any class that tries to divine the future.

We have not heard from Lewis Pulsipher in a LONG time here, but he is back now with Understanding Armory which is about heraldry.  There is quite a bit of scholarship here distilled down to a game-friendly use.  But that describes most of Lew's work really.

Ah, now this is the sort of thing that was my go to back in the day.  World building.  Some universal rules. Making your own campaign — and making it work by Roger E. Moore covers a little about make your own universe but mostly it covers on how not steal from others.  He gives examples of worlds that are common to us all, Hyboria, Zothique, Middle-Earth, Oz, and Earth mythologies. He talks about how difficult it can be to disentangle elements from these worlds AND ALSO make it fit AD&D.  The part though I love is where he covers how these different universes can be explored without breaking things.  I tend to be a bit more relaxed in my world building but I am sure Moore would question, or at least look akance, at my overall internal logic.  That's OK. There is so much good stuff here.

And speaking of soapboxes, the Up on a Soapbox feature is back. This time we have Judith Sampson and Adventuring with shaky hands: Where there’s a will, there’s a way to play.   This covers how you can accommodate players with physical disabilities.  Way ahead of its time really. This could have been a blog post today or a YouTube talk and people would be praising her for her insight.  We still should there are some good insights here.  Sampson suffers from choreo-athetoid cerebral palsy, which is a motor control issue. She typically types up all her character sheets for ease of reading and use in the game.  She talks about how D&D is a perfect game for her really since it doesn't really require a lot that could be difficult for her.  It's a good piece.

David Nalle is next with the Larger than Life feature of mytho-historical NPCs. This time it is The
Bogatyrs of old Kiev.  We get a lot of old Russian characters from myth and legend.  Among others, we get Ilya Muromets, Alyosha Popovich, Dobrynya Nikitich, Svytogor, Gorynich, and Baba Yaga.  Lots more that I don't recognize (Russian folklore was never a big interest to me).  But reading these NPCs, I think I am going to have to check out more of these tales.

Our adventure is next.  The Garen of Nefaron by Howard de Wied is a well-sized adventure at 16 full pages.  That's a full module inside your Dragon.  It looks fun with a strong Raiders of the Lost Ark feel about it.  One of the issues I have with it is that the adventure is much more difficult to complete if your party is of good alignment and easier if they are all evil.  I prefer it the other way around to be honest. 

Merle "The Administrator" Rasmussen is up with the Rasmussen Files for Top Secret.  You know I don't feel Merle gets enough credit. Since I have started doing these Dragons I have been more and more interested in Top Secret and coming to the conclusion that Merle more or less invented the Spy RPG genre. Now maybe there were other games before Top Secret and there were many after.  But I have to give the guy a LOT of credit.  The fact that he is still out evangelizing Top Secret is really damn cool.  This article covers how to control various pieces of equipment that agents can get ahold of in a game.  Based on rarity and what might be confiscated from other agencies.
I can't help think of Ilya Muromets (not related to Illya Kuryakin) above how awesome a Man from U.N.C.L.E. game would be. Set in the 60s would be best.

The Dragon Bestiary covers a magic eating lizard man, The Argas.  A weird ass eye monster, Oculon, and a cow with a human head, the Narra.  I don't think I have seen these before or since.

Lenard Lakofka covers doors, their strengths and hp in Leomund's Tiny Hut.  I think this would work great in just about any version of D&D to be honest.  Will have to clip this one for the tool-box.

Mark Nuiver covers one of my favorite monsters in The Ways of the Triffids.  I also did some Triffid stats a while back, but his are more powerful.  Triffids are sure under-used these days. It could be because the book and the later movie are both pretty old now, but not so much then.

Dennis Matheson is next with some new Traveller rules for Merchants and how to expand the "class".  Again, Traveller is one of the games that I wished I spent more time on.
I will say this, this weird-ass combination of a Klingon D7 and the Space:1999 Eagle is kinda cool.



Reviews are next. G. Arthur Rahman covers "Junta".  Tony Watson covers "Stalin’s Tanks". Bill Fawcett takes on "Warlock" and "A House Divided".

We get the convention schedule for Fall 1981.

DragonMirth is next.
We get one of the last Finieous Fingers.  There is a nice line for me and Dragon; the Before and the After.  It is the before I started reading and after. This is roughly the same time period of when Finieous Fingers appeared in Dragon.  I have no real emotional attachment to the comic save that it represents a time "before".

A similar relationship with What's New With Phil and Dixie, I just happen to like this comic more and I made an effort to read the back issues.

Then we get this comic/ad in the very back the Molvay Basic Set.

Of course, there were no beholders in D&D B/X, but hey that's just details right?

So all in all a really fun issue. Lots of great stuff that I can still use today.

Want to know what I said about White Dwarf from this same time?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #26.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Winter Is HERE! The Winter Witch Tradition for Swords & Wizardry

From the lands of the Ice and Snow comes the newest Witch Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.

The Winter Witch Tradition


With this book, you can now learn the secrets of the Winter Witch, the living personification of all that makes winter the most dazzling and the most dangerous season.

Inside you will find:

The Winter Witch tradition and the Winter Warlock Pact
The Vǫlva and Warden classes
New races for S&W Complete to suit the winter world.
  • 130+ witch spells
    • 100+ Warlock spells
    • 14 Cleric spells 
    • 40+ Druid and Magic-User spells 
50+ Monsters
New Treasure, magic items and artifacts of powerful witches.

Art by Dean Spencer, Jacob E. Blackmon, Daniel Comerci, Larry Elmore, William McAusland, Todd Shearer, and Josh Soper.

All for your Swords & Wizardry games!

Winter is here, are you ready?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box

It's 13 days till Halloween.
What better way to celebrate than with



A complete set of rules for the witch class for the Swords & Wizardry White Box RPG.

Inside you will find:
  • The Witch Class (levels 1-10)
  • The White Witchcraft tradition
  • 183 witch spells
  • 76 brand new spells
  • 18 monsters 
  • New treasure and magic items

All for your Swords & Wizardry White Box old-school games!

And 100% compatible with all my Swords & Wizardry witch books/traditions.

Cover art by A.E. Short.
Some interior art by Anna Marine:



Available NOW in both PDF and Print on Demand formats.


Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!!

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