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

Friday, September 16, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Tarot Magic

Tarot Magic
Digging deep tonight with one going all the way back to the d20 days. Everything about it just fills me with early 2000s nostalgia. Is it the lens flare on the logo? Is it the repeated use of the Morpheus font (which I STILL like)? I don't know. But whatever it is this one has been sitting on my hard drive for nearly 15 years or more (20 if you count the softcover I used to have) waiting for me to review it.

Tarot Magic

PDF. 90 pages, color cover, black & white interior art.

This book had been published originally back in 2002-2003 by Mystic Eye Games for the d20 OGL and STL. Yes we are going all the way back to the d20 System Trademark License here.

Now it has been updated in a 2016 re-upload by Samurai Sheepdog.  I still have my original PDF on a backup drive so I can compare them. The cover is the same, but a bit brighter and the Samurai Sheepdog logo and website is there.  Also, all mention of Mystic Eye Games is gone. The back cover is missing as well. But the PDF is also clearer to read and generally of better quality.

I will note that this book is filed under the D&D 3.5 category, but it is really D&D 3.0.  I don't think it makes much practical difference to be honest.

The book is divided into five major sections.

Chapter 1: Tarot Reading in the Game

This cover the basics of card layout and meaning and how they can be used in a game situation. In most cases, the book advises the GM to control what the deck will be saying to fit the narrative/structure of the game.  The most value here are the card meanings, though that information is also widely available elsewhere.

Chapter 2: Tarot Mage Class and Prestige Class

Now, this is fun.  Presents the Tarot Mage class that can be used as a regular class or as a prestige class.  Honestly, I like the option.  I think it works well as a Prestige Class with someone starting as a wizard, sorcerer, witch, or even a thief with some arcane ability.  Example NPCs of both a Tarot Mage and a Wizard/Tarot Mage are given.

Chapter 3: Tarot Mage Spells

This is a meaty chapter and kudos for coming up with all these spells. There are 38 pages worth of spells. Not a lot of art means a lot of text. 

The spells are all "Arcane" so they are also listed by their school.

Chapter 4: Magic Items

These come in three major types; cards, materials to make cards,  and items related to what are on the tarot cards. 

Chapter 5: Foul Locales

Ok. This one is odd. Chapters 1 to 4 all proper headers with large fonts.  This one starts at the bottom of a column when the magic items end.  The only thing connecting it to the book is the fact that members of the family living in this locale are all Tarot Mages.

In any case it is an interesting book and one I tried many times to use back in the 3.x days.  It is high on concept but the usability of the core class was limited compared to the Wizard/Sorcerer.  The prestige class was much more useful. 

Still it was rather fun.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Thursday, September 15, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Beyond the Mundane

Beyond the Mundane
This one is not a witch book, per see, but rather for all sorts of spell-casters for Pathfinder. I grabbed it for this and also because it uses the same Dean Spencer cover I did for my Winter Witch book. I thought it might be fun to use them together. 

As always, to stay objective I will be following my rules for these reviews.  

Beyond the Mundane

PDF. 30 pages. Title page, 1-page OGL.  Color cover and interior art. 

This book has archetypes for all the spellcasting classes for Pathfinder.

Among the ones I like the most are the Choreographer (Bard), Blood-Spiller (Bloodrager), Primal Growler (Cleric), Lunar Touched (Druid), Agent of the Green (Hunter), and Cupbearer (Witch).

There are a lot here and each one does ad something interesting to their base class. It is really good and if you play Pathfinder and want to try something new then grab this.

There is also a new race, the Shadiir, who are naturally magic, so a good race choice for any and all of these archetypes.

I did not see anything I could use with my witches or my Winter Witch in particular, but it was fun all the same. 

 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Thursday, September 8, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Legendary Villains: Wicked Witches

Legendary Villains: Wicked Witches
A little more Pathfinder tonight. This one promises some wicked witches. Let's see if it delivers. 

As always, to stay objective I will be following my rules for these reviews.  

Legendary Villains: Wicked Witches

PDF. 36 pages. 1 title page, 1 table of contents, 1 page OGL. Color cover and interior art.

I went into this expecting some NPCs, and I got that, but this is also more here. 

There are three new archetypes presented here, the consort of fiends, the curio collector, and the shadow sister.

All are presented as being evil, which is great fun really. I do love an evil witch.  All of these are quite fun too, but it is the consort of fiends and shadow sister that have the most of my attention.

Each archetype has appropriate powers to call on. The Consort of Fiends for example has powers and fluff thatmake it feel like a 5e Warlock.  The Shadow Sister works with any of the various Shadow prestige classes we have had since the early 3e days.

Speaking of which there is also a prestige class offered here, the Hag Matron, which makes the connection between witches and hags stronger. The witch in question actually transforms into a hag as she gets stronger. This reminds me a bit of the old Van Richten's Guide to Witches from the AD&D 2nd Ed Ravenloft days.  This would certainly fit in well with that.  Also different sorts of hags have different powers.

We also get a bunch of Patron Oaths, which are different ways at looking at the patrons. 

There are new witch hexes, new magic items, and a lot of "lesser" familiars.

All in all a very fine addition to the trove of witch related material available for Pathfinder. The focus on evil witchcraft is a great bonus here.

 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Saturday, August 13, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Genius Guide to the Talented Witch

The Genius Guide to the Talented Witch
Rogue Genius Games does a LOT of great stuff. Their "Talented" line for various classes was always something I wanted to look into, but since I haven't been playing Pathfinder all that much so I never bought any of them.  But of course, I had to buy the Talented Witch.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews, moreover, many of the people involved with these products are people I have worked with in the past. So I am going to try be extra careful in how I review these.

The Genius Guide to the Talented Witch

PDF ($4.95) and Softcover Print Options, 57 pages. 1 cover, 1 table of contents, 1 credits, 1 OGL, rest content.  Color cover and interior art. 

There is a lot to like about this really. The cover art is from the late Marcum Curlee and features an interesting trio of witches. There is art from Other Side friends Jacob E. Blackmon, Brian Brinlee, and Gary Dupuis.  I really love the art, but that is expected. Hell, even that Morpheus font is like they are flirting with me. 

The talented witch is a little different than the base Witch class in the Pathfinder book. It gets various Edges and Talents at alternate levels. These largely replace all the powers of the witch, including the Hexes.  

Edges are first and there are 40 of these. Edges are a lot like Feats in how they are presented. They include Combat, Cunning, Elemental, Hag, Patron, Spellcasting, and Spellcasting Conduits.  Hag for example can give the Edges of Bite or Claws to do damage. 

Talents are more like magical powers, like Hexes, and also have groupings. There are 140 of these in Blessing, Crafting, Curse, Necromancy, Personal, Spellcasting, and Utility. There are also Major and Grand Talents. Talents that are Hexes are marked with an asterisk.

The idea here is customization. Basically, if you can imagine a witch, you could build it from these options.  There is a dizzying array of choices here. There is even an appendix on familiars here and another on patrons and a compiled witch spell list from various Pathfinder products. 

There is an absolute ton of information here and more than I know what to do with.

The Genius Guide to More Witch Talents
The Genius Guide to More Witch Talents

PDF. ($2.95) 25 pages. 1 cover, 1 table of contents, 1 credits page, 1 OGL page. 

This adds more Edges and Talents to the witch class.

This gives us 5 new edges and 95 new witch Talents. And I thought I had options before. Talents that are Hexes are marked with an asterisk.

This one leans more into the curses which are nice. 

Like the Genius Guide to the Talented Witch, this book provides a lot of options for nearly any sort of witch.  Also, like that book the art here is really good.

I am not exactly sure where or when the Talented idea came about but checking the Rogue Genius Games listings there are lot of these. I am not sure how they change the game, but I do love the ideas here as a designer and player of witch classes. As a player, it would also be fantastic especially if you love character customizations.  As a Game Master, keeping track of all of this would be a bit of a chore I think.

I'd have to print these both out I think to get a real feel for them.  

One thing I didn't like about both books was the huge border around all the text. It makes the book pretty, but it is not as efficient when it comes to displaying the text. 


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Thursday, August 11, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Echelon Reference Series: Witch Spells (3pp+PRD)

Echelon Reference Series: Witch Spells (3pp+PRD)
Something a little different today, although I am not moving on from Pathfinder just yet. Today I want to explore the amazing reference that is the Echelon Reference Series from Keith Davies.  There are a bunch of these, but I am going to focus my attention on the witch.

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

Echelon Reference Series: Witch Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)

2 PDFs. $33.99. 186 pages (PF) and 544 pages (3PP).

Yes. 730 pages total. This compiled collection covers both spells from various Pathfinder products and the 3rd Party Pathfinder products.  There is no fluff. Very little art.  Here is how each book breaks down.  There is a cover page, and OGL statement of Open Content page, a table of contents, and two pages on what this book is.  For the Pathfinder book there is three pages of OGL. For the 3rd Party book there are seven pages for the OGL. There is a hyperlinked index for both and hyperlinked table of contents.

The rest is solid text of spells.

And by spells. I mean every single witch spell ever published by the date of this book.  The 3rd Party book for example has nearly 30 pages of cantrips, 50 pages of 1st level spells, 60 2nd level spells and so on. 

The spells are given an editorial clean-up so that they all look similar and can flow well. 

What these books lack (and were never trying to cover) is all the fluff or explanatory pieces that might go with the background of a spell.  For example "Air Bubble" mentions a firearm can be loaded within an Air Bubble, but makes no attempt to explain anything more.  This is perfectly within the scope of this product.

The number of spells break down as follows:

Witch 3pp
Cantrips: 123
1st level: 200
2nd level: 251
3rd level: 221
4th level: 188
5th level: 163
6th level: 142
7th level: 131
8th level: 122
9th level: 109
Total 1,650

Witch Prd
Cantrips: 15
1st level: 83
2nd level: 107
3rd level: 88
4th level: 70
5th level: 51
6th level: 39
7th level: 40
8th level: 28
9th level: 22
Total 543

That's insane really. 

He also has these per level and for every spell casting class in Pathfinder.

Echelon Spells

You might ask if you buy this does that get rid of the need to buy other Pathfinder spell books? I say no since there is nothing here but the spells.  Other products often have the spells, explanatory notes, monsters, feats, and items that might go with them.  These books are a fancy SRDs. Highly organized and very useful ones at that.

If you are like me this is a treasure trove.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Character Options: Witches

Character Options: Witches
Going back to some Pathfinder tonight. I can't help it there is a lot of great Pathfinder content out there. 

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

Character Options: Witches

PDF. $1.49. 7 pages. 1 page cover.  ½page OGL. 5½ pages of content.

This PDF gives us what I consider the "usual bag" of options for the Pathfinder Witch class. NOTE that is not a slight on this book or even a bad thing.  It is very, very often exactly what people want.

There are 10 new Patrons with their bonus spells. There are 10 new hexes as well.

There are three (3) new archetypes as well. These include the Devoted Witch (I might call this a Divine Witch or Witch Priestess), Green Witch (largely the same as mine in feel), and the Storyteller Witch which is a lot of fun.  It is closest to my "Good Walker" witch.

So for just under $1.50 you can get all of this. Not at all bad really. If you need some new witch options then this is a good choice.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Incantations from the Other Side: Spirit Magic

Incantations from the Other Side: Spirit Magic
We are back to Pathfinder today, but honestly, with a name like this how can I possibly say no? 

Incantations from the Other Side: Spirit Magic

PDF. $9.99. 38 pages. 1-page cover. 1 credits page. 1-page table of contents. 1 page for OGL and index. 34 pages of content. Landscape page orientation (sometimes this cuts off art).

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

This book is divided into four major sections, each with a different author from the cover.  Each covers a different type of magic.

The Spirit World by Scott Gable introduces us to the book and the three types of spirit magic we will cover here. 

Vodou by Scott Gable. This is our first and is familiar by name. It involves working with various spirits, the Loa, many listed later in this section.  There seems to be some campaign setting specifics here. This is not a surprise because in our world Vodou, Vodun, and Voodoo are very location specific. This is mentioned in a sidebar here. 

There are some new spells, but beyond that there is plenty of information on how these spells are supposed to be used.  This section will not replace any of the works of say C.J. Carella on the subject, but it works great for Pathfinder.

The Middle World by Uri Kurlianchik. Covers the magic found in the tales from Russia and the Slavs. This includes a number of "House spirits."  Again we are treated to some familiar names; the Leshy, the Domovoi, but here they are spirits and not fae creatures exactly. Here we also have a few spells associated with the various creatures.

The Arcanum by Clinton Boomer. Lastly we have the Arcanum. This one covers "Starry Patrons" but there is a solid "from beyond the stars" feel to these. You can read these as Lovecraftian horrors, but they seem more aloof and alien even than that. 

This book succeeds in giving us a very different felling magic system that still works with the rules of Pathfinder. Since the publication of this book there have been more book on magic for Pathfinder, so it would be interesting to see how this works with these new works.

The art is full color and quite good.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Monday, August 8, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witchology 101

Witchology 101
Now for something a little different. Pathfinder is great, but it is not the only 3.x-based game out there not named Dungeons & Dragons.  For a while there I did a lot stuff for D20 Modern and I still like to pick up material for it.  Though today I think a 5e-based Modern might be the way to go.

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

Witchology 101

PDF. 60 pages, $2.99. 1 page cover, 1 title page, 1 page introduction, 3 pages table of contents. 3 pages Creative Common license, 1 page OGL.  Rest content.

This book is punching way above its weight class, to be honest.   The organization is a bit odd, but nothing I can't navigate. 

We get a Glossary at the start, which I guess works to help people unfamiliar with some of these terms.  An introduction to a Who's Who of magical people and places. This includes the various school of magic as if they were actual schools. Each school gets its Latin motto, its center of studies, and titles. It is a pretty cool idea really.  Spells by school are listed with their appropriate colleges. 

There is a whole implicit setting here that can be used in conjunction with any Modern d20 game that also has magic, say like Urban Arcana. It can also be used with other modern games that are built on a d20 system.  I am not 100% sure, but I bet it would work with Mutants and Masterminds for example.

This is a d20-based rule book so there are some features of that. What am I saying? There are Feats! Quite a few in fact. There are spells, some new, some we have seen before (this is fine).  Also to my pleasure, there are new creatures or some reskinned ones. This is a must I think.

It has a Creative Commons License and the OGL. I am not really sure if you can mix the two.  But that does not detract from my enjoyment of it.

So for just under $3 you get 50 pages of solid content. There is no art to speak of, but that is fine really.

Solid work.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, August 7, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witch Feats

Witch Feats
A couple of PDFs tonight. Both giving me some new feats for the Pathfinder 1st Edition Witch.

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

Witch Feats
from Island Of Bees

PDF. 5 pages, PWYW, suggested $1.00. No cover. No OGL.

This one is oddly presented and I had to go back and make sure I had the right file. But once I got into it then yes it is the right PDF.  The cover to the right is not in the file (as a cover) and it jumps right into the content. The art takes up half of every page, so not really 5 pages, but 2.5 pages of content (more like 2). The art is good, very visually striking and I like it (our cover girl here is on page 4 for the Witch Brew), but there is one of what looks like a young girl in a Civil War-era Union uniform with a rat familiar.  It is good and I rather like it, but it looks very out of place, to be honest.

While presented as feats, these are really patron pacts.  So you get these if you take the feat. The text is mostly fluff. The advantage to this is you could use them with Pathfinder 2nd Ed or D&D 5th Ed warlocks too. It's just not what I thought it might be.


Witch Feats
Fantastic Feats Volume XXVII - Witches
from Ennead Games

PDF. 5 pages. $1.25. 1 page for cover, 1 page for Preface/Table of Contents, 1 page for the OGL. 2 pages of content.

This file has seven witch feats presented in the traditional manner for the Pathfinder 1st Edition RPG. There are some interesting ones here too. The Stable Spell gives the witch more control over the damage she can do while Unstable Spell adds some randomness. Aura of Menace should be taken by all witches I think!

Certainly some fun ideas here. 




The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, August 6, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witch Options (PFRPG)

Witch Options
More Pathfinder material tonight.  

Full disclosure, I am friends with the author, Robert W. Thomson. Also, I will be following my rules for this to remain fair.

Witch Options (PFRPG)

PDF. 10 pages, 1 cover, 2.4 pages for OGL. 6.6 pages of content. $2.00

I like Purple Duck Games. They produce a lot of material so it is a good chance there is something out there that you will enjoy.  This book has a lot of different options for the witch class as the title says. 

There is a little bit of everything in this book too.

There are five new hexes. Five new Major hexes and four Grand hexes. Six New Patron Themes. Ten new feats.  I am rather fond of the Triple Moon Tattoo feat to be honest.

Ten new spells, including "Summon Hag."  Four new pieces of equipment.

There is the hagborn template to add to any monster for creatures born to hags.

There is not a lot of any one thing here, but a lot of different things. For $2.00 how could I say no?


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Friday, August 5, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Into The Breach: The Witch

Into The Breach: The Witch
Making my way through various Pathfinder books this one caught my eye a while back. 

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

Into The Breach: The Witch

PDF. 32 pages. 1 cover, 1 title, 1 credits page, 1 table of contents, 1 OGL, for 27 pages of content.  $5.99.

This book has quite a bit of good content. 

There are new archetypes: Bailiwick Hermit, Bog Builder, Bulwark Theurgist, Dweomer Weaver, Foul Temptress, Gluttonous Crone, Marjara Bound, the Scorned Heart, and Voodoo Crafter.

Each archetype has a number of new associated powers. 

There is a new  Base Class related to the witch, the Sèvitè which is the worshiper of a lost creator god. Essentially this is a Voodoo practitioner in Pathfinder terms.  The interesting thing for me is their ability to Syncretize various gods. Very interesting to be sure. 

There are a couple of very interesting Prestige Classes presented as well. The Heathen and The Scarred Shaman. 

Like all good witch books for Pathfinder, this one has a number of Hexes, Major Hexes, and Grand Hexes.  There are also four new Patrons and quite a few new feats.

I rather like it to be honest. Lots of fun options here. The Voodoo-themed elements are nice and I would love to explore more with the syncretism of the gods. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: BX RPG

BX RPG
I am posting this at the end of the month instead of the first (new month, new character) since April will be full of monsters.  But in a way, today's character is a monster in his own right.

Last month I posted the stats for Twill Topknot and before that Sarana, the first main NPCs of my War of the Witch Queens campaign.   While I have plenty more NPCs to figure out and stat up, there is one that I do need to do and figure out how he did it.  That NPC is Kelek the Cruel.

I have talked about good (evil) old Kelek in the past and I think stating him out is a good idea. He has his origins in Basic/Expert D&D, Quest for the Heartstone and The Shady Dragon Inn, so Basic-era is the obvious choice.  More so since he is my Big Bad for War of the Witch Queens.

One of the things I want to do with this is pick and choose from various RPG/OSR systems.  I did Old School Essentials with Twill.  While that doesn't mean I can't reuse it, but I would like to see what is out there. I also need to figure out what sort of "magic-user" old Kelek is since I also have that choice.

Much like what I have done with Skylla (with whom he has a history with) I took her Magic-user and tried her out as a witch in various OSR style games. If she is a witch, then what is Kelek?  

Kelek the Cruel from Quest of the Heartstone

He is a type of wizard to be sure.  He learned his magic, so a warlock or a sorcerer (as defined by D&D 3 to 5) is fun, but not really who he is. I need some class that also has the ability to cast gates, maybe even a way to summon a minor demon or two. But not someone interested in controlling undead. Most importantly I need someone that would be able to kill a Witch Queen.  

We know from Kelek's history that he wants some form of immortality or mastery over life and death.  To me that says Necromancer.  But I am kinda bored with necromancers.  I mean I have done necromancers so many times.  BUT this group has never gone up against one of my necromancers before.  Eric over at Swords & Stitchery also talks about Kelek and even has him becoming a lich. Eric usually has very good ideas, so I am inclined to take this as a vote towards Necromancer. 

So if it is a necromancer, then which one?

The Basic Fantasy one is nice, but not really powerful enough for what I need.  The necromancer from Adventures Dark & Deep is good. Has a lot of potential but still not exactly what I want. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea also has a great necromancer, but the spell list is not 100% where I want it. Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts are getting much closer, as is Gavin's Theorems and Thaumaturgy. The one that feels the closest is the one from the BX RPG.

I reviewed the BX RPG a while back and have been wanting to do something more with it. 

If he is my big bad for War of the Witch Queens then I am going to take advantage of BX RPGs 1-20 level spread and make him 15th level.

Kelek the Cruel from HeroForge
Get your own Kelek the Crue from HeroForge

Kelek the Cruel
Male Human (mostly) Necromancer, 15th level, Chaotic Evil

Kelek

Strength: 15
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 13
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 14
Charisma: 7

HD: 9d4 +6 (+9)
hp: 40

AC: 0 (Bracers AC 1, Ring of Protection +!)
Base THAC0: 14

Saving Throws (+1 for magic, +1 ring)
Paralyzation: 8
Petrification: 8
Wands: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spells: 8

Weapons
Dagger +1
Staff of Striking
Wand of Cold

Spells
First level: Read Magic, Sleep, Necrotic Shield, Fear, Hold Portal, Read Languages
Second level: Hold Person, Knock, Mirror Image, Wizard Lock, Necrotic Touch, Blight
Third level: Fly, Haste, Death Purge, Clairvoyance, Necrotic Blast, Dispel Magic
Fourth level: Dimension Door, Polymorph Other, Necrotic Strike, Wizard Eye, Confusion
Fifth level: Plane of Death, Magic Jar, Teleport, Life Drain
Sixth level: Abyssal Flame, Anti-Magic Shell, Death Spell
Seventh level: Astral Spell, Instant Summons
Eighth level: Clone, Gate

Scrolls*
First level: Chill Touch
Second level: Choke, Speak with the Dead
Third level: Skull Sight, Unhallow
Fourth level: Charm Monster
Fifth level: Death Spell
Sixth level: Knowledge of Life
Seventh level: Summon Demon
Eighth level: Symbol (Pain)

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 156 lbs
Age: 55

*The spells from scrolls are Necromancer spells from Theorems and Thaumaturgy. I am likely to give him other necromancer scrolls from the other necromancers out there. 

I also say mostly human since I consider Kelek to have a bit of orc in his line somewhere.  This explains his high strength and constitution, his low charisma, his pointed ears, oddly shaped head in some depictions of him.  He can also speak orc and hangs out with Zarak all the time. 

Kelek also has a large warg he rides like a horse.  In typical D&D cartoon fashion, his name is just Warg.

Kelek on Warg from HeroForge
Kelek on Warg from HeroForge


The many faces of Kelek the Cruel

Yeah, I have a lot of plans for this guy. 

Now I need to figure out how he killed the Queen of Witches to get us all in the current problems we are in.

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.