Showing posts with label play-test. Show all posts
Showing posts with label play-test. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: Ereshkigal

Queen of Night
We are in the midst of the Wasted Lands playtest right now. It is fun to play a game I am at the same time familiar with (it is very similar to NIGHT SHIFT) and yet brand new at the same time.  For me, there is extra fun here since I can use so much of my own One Man's God material in my home games.  

My home game, right now, is a bit of a riff on my "Second Campaign" ideas.  Recall that in the Wasted Lands during the "Dreaming Age," the first generation of humanity (or proto-humanity) has thrown off the yoke of the Old Ones (the stars went "wrong" again), and now they have an Earth to themselves.  It is part Mythical Age and part Post-Apocylptic. 

With the Old Ones gone, humanity renews its battles with their most significant threats, the reptiles. So I have reptiles and Snake People as my big bads here, at least for this trail run of the game.

Since the characters will become the gods of our myths and legends, I want to try out some of my favorite gods here.

Up first is one I have called "The World's First Goth Girl" Ereshkigal.

She was the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of the Dead in Sumerian mythology. In the Dreaming Age, though, she is now just a 1st Level Necromancer.  This is good for me since my very first D&D character was a cleric dedicated to destroying the undead. So a nice little flip side to that.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age uses the same O.G.R.E.S. rules as NIGHT SHIFT does. So following along here will be easy. 

So. Let us see what we can do.

Siouxsie Sioux as Ereshkigal
Siouxsie Sioux as Ereshkigal

Class: Necromancer (Persona Aspect)
Level: 1
Species: Human

Alignment: Dark Neutral

Strength: 16 (+2)
Agility: 13 (+1)
Toughness: 15 (+1) N +1
Intelligence: 13 (+1)
Wits: 15 (+1) N +1
Persona: 17 (+2) A +2

Fate Points: 
Defense Value: 7
Vitality: 5 (d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +2/+1/0
Melee Bonus: +2
Ranged Bonus: +1
Saves: +3 to Persona based

Special Abilities
Channel the Dead 22%
See Dead People
Summon the Dead 15%
Command (Spirits)
Protection from Undead
Turn Undead 20%

Divine Notes: Death, Earth Psychopomp
Background: Undertaker

Leather armor: DV 8
Dagger: 1d4

Here is my concept for her.

At this time, Ereshkigal of Irkalla & Kur is the daughter of Nanna, an oracle of the moon. It has been her task to take care of the dead of the city and in particular, the dead that have been killed by dark magics. 

I have yet to do much with her, but rolling her up was as easy as rolling up any D&D-like character. Faster even if you are a fan of NIGHT SHIFT. Now I don't have everything figured out just yet, but I want to get her into a game to figure it all out. 

The campaign I am working up will be against a cult of Snale Men that are trying to rise up in the vacuum left by the Old Ones. Humanity is on the brink of being wiped out before they even begin and only one group will inherit the Earth. 

Since I see Ereshkigal as the world's first goth girl, it only makes sense that she is portrayed in my games by Siouxsie Sioux.

Want to know more about The Wasted Lands? Head on over to Jason's blog to read more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

These are the Voyages...

I got my Trek play test materials from +Modiphius Entertainment for the new RPG coming out.
Was going to spend some time with them yesterday but other things like the day job came up.  Though I have managed to print out the rules and will be going over them soon.

Over the summer I mentioned a desire to play some Trek using what ever rules seemed right. Likely White Star, but now I might try a simple training mission using these rules in addition to the official playtest.

Of course I want to use the USS Mystic, NX 3000 that I found here:

Of course I'd make mine the NCC-3120 USS Protector; an homage to all the ships that inspired it.
I love the idea of those experimental nacelles.

Not to steal too much from Voyager or even Event Horizon, but my basic outline would be that while testing their new Warp-13 capable engines (shout out to the Omega-13 from Galaxy Quest) the USS Protector is transported ...somewhere... and in this section of space the stars are right and there are horrors.

The game would have other technobable details like the curvature of the warp nacelles and how this ship uses triberyllium instead of trilithium in it's warp core.  Maybe it is a design upgrade the Federation got from the Thermians (all from Galaxy Quest). This produces an "asymmetric warp field".  So start off as a regular Trek-like game, and then BAM hit them with the horrors.   Hey, maybe the Theramins are evil. Who knows really.

Since it is based on the Ambassador Class space frame I could put it in the Enterprise C era.
Though if it is an experiment and the prototype in NX 3000 how do I explain the jump to NCC 3120?

No idea.  Maybe the old classic it was a clerical error in the system registry databases.

I have a small Ambassador class Enterprise C at home and I think it is a great looking ship. I just want to do something with it.

In any case I am going to enjoy this. I am ready with the beats and the shouting.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pathfinder: Advanced Class Guide Playtest

The newest public beta test for Pathfinder is now up. The Advanced Class Guide Playtest.

This new book introduces new classes that are a combination of two other classes.
Very similar to what WotC was doing with "hybrid" classes back in the 4e days.

I liked the idea of hybrid classes to be honest, take a little from two classes and combine them into one class.

The 4e approach made it feel like each character was unique, the Pathfinder approach makes it feel like it is a new class.

I am sure there are things in this that people could adopt for their old-school or osr game, but for me I am more interested in how to use it my Pathfinder game.  True, I am running near the end of my 3.x game, but I am currently playing Pathfinder.

Yes. There is a "hybrid" of their witch class in here. The Shaman combine the witch with an oracle.
Neat idea, but not what I would have done.  If you are going to combine a witch and an oracle then I am thinking "Sybil" is a better name. Though given that it focuses on spirits, "shaman" is not really that far off.

I am going to read over it more but this might give me the framework to try out a class I have been wanting to play for a while; The Green Witch.  A Green Witch combines the best of the witch and druid classes into a potent divine spellcaster.   Back in the early 3.0 days I had it as a multi-class path.  Later I tried to make a Prestige class for it, but I didn't like how it worked.  Not sure what to do with the Druid's Wild Shape ability just yet, but I think I have an idea or two.

The druid Nature Bond and the witch Patron would get rolled up into one concept.
Likewise an Animal Companion and Familiar become one.

I am thinking something very Miyazaki influenced. With a dash of neo-paganism (maybe even Eco-Pagan) and animism.  Though I would like a different name.  "Green Witch" is great, but not evocative enough of it's druidic background.  Yeah, yeah I am introducing "Tree Hugers" to D&D, but a tree huger that will kill you if you mess with their forests.

Monday, August 13, 2012

D&D Next next playtest packet

The next playtest packet is out for D&D5 (I still hate calling it "Next").

There is a lot more material including character generation (novel concept you ROLL for your abilities) which already has some of the newer guard complaining.  Though there is the standard array.

First thoughts:
- I like the monster write-ups.  They are simple and easy to read and can summarized in a module easy.
- Character creation is really fast, as it should be.
- Some feats now seem to be maneuvers, which I like.
- Classes focus on the Big 4.
- Backgrounds and skills together. This is an improvement over 4e since you can now play that kid just off the moisture farm.
- I can see Witch as being a Specialty of a Wizard.  This reminds me a lot of the 2nd Ed Kits.
- Races are the other Big 4.

All in all I see the strands of DNA from every edition of D&D here.
I will buy this game, I am not sure if I'll play it much but who knows.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Next Day

The playtest docs for D&D Next/5e come out today.

I am expecting them to be kinda raw to be honest, but who knows.

Are you planning to try it out?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Slumps and Research Surplus

In the last two weeks I have done nothing.

Well that is not totally true, I mean I have been working at my job, still reading with the kids, playing D&D with my kids and Pathfinder with the big kids.   Still doing things that I need to do around the house.

But I  have not done any writing at all.
And this is a big problem.

Not so much for "The Witch", although that is also affected, but I am supposed to have a new adventure for Ghosts of Albion ready to go for Gen Con and I am not done with it, nor have I playtested it yet.

For the Witch, I have been going back to my stacks of research.  I am re-reading Margaret Murray's "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" for inspiration.  Yeah, yeah I know, every credible anthropologist on the planet has derided her work, that would be an issue if I was writing am anthropological textbook.   Instead I am looking at it different this time.  Murray posits that "witches" are an unbroken line from pre-history to now.  What if I went in the opposite direction?  What if I took the neo-pagan tropes and reverse engineered a pre-historic ancestor using the fairy tales of the ages AND placed this recipe in a D&D-ish style world to stew for a few thousand years.  What sort of witch would that be?

Also thanks to the magic that is my new Father's day gift I have been downloading a ton of ebooks.
So far here is my research list:
  • The Witch-Cult in Western Europe - Margaret Alice Murray
  • Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft - Sir Walter Scott
  • Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather A Reply - Charles W. Upham
  • Brood of the Witch-Queen - Sax Rohmer (fiction)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales (the originals) - Jacob Grimm
  • The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology - Russel Hope Robbins (one of my faves)
I am also re-reading the "Malleus Maleficarum", but frankly there is not much here for a game.
The book is laughably bad in most places when it is not sadistic, misogynistic, and overly focused on the curses a witch will put on men's genitalia (for a group of people that are supposedly celibate the writers of this book are very preoccupied with sex).

Frankly it has the mentality of a 14 year old, and a very puerile 14 year old at that.  

And lets not forget that real people were actually tortured and murdered because of this book.  While it might not be the "Witches' Holocaust" of later writers, 1 innocent person murdered is 1 more than I would like.
While I might glean some tidbits out of it, all I got out of it the last time I read it was the Malefic Witch I wrote from my 2nd Ed Netbook back in 1999.  I want to write something people want to play, not torture.

Not that I want only good witches, I like evil ones too. Grimm is a great source for that especially if you read the original versions.  Evil, child eating hags that live in the woods? Oh yeah there is room for you in my book, right next to so-beautiful-it-is-frightening faerie witches and the domestic goddesses and potion makers.

I have the traditions defined, the class, some magic items, some monsters and about 500 spells.  That will be trimmed down, but still expect a lot of spells from me.  I have art.   And it may go against some "old school" credo but I have some art from Larry Elmore to put in it.  I have always wanted to have a book of witches with Elmore art in it and now I can do so.

For my Ghosts of Albion adventure I am re-reading Sherlock Holmes and I now have a copy of  Jess Nevin's WONDERFUL The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.  And let me tell you this. It is worth every penny I paid for it. I bought it before the prices sky rocketed but it still was not cheap.

Act 1 is done.  Act 2 and Act 3 are mostly done.  I have the characters.  I have my monsters.  What I don't have is a good way yet for the players (not the characters) to figure out how to stop the monsters before they break out and eat London on New Years' Eve.  Whatever clues I need to move the plot forward need to be in Act 1, so I might need to tweak that a bit.

Hopefully I'll get some writing in soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More thoughts on the Witch

I was thinking about the witch class/archetype over this last weekend.  In particular to D&D4 vs. Old School D&D.
One thing that D&D4 (and even Pathfinder) has is a simple basic magical attack for the witch/warlock.  In D&D4 it is Eldritch Blast, Pathfinder has their hexes and since you can cast 0 level spells at-will there is a great one called Daze.  Stun an opponent from far away so the fighter types can take care of them.

The one thing that magic using classes in old-school games lack is a basic magic attack.  Something that is magic, does a little bit of damage and can be used repeatedly.

The Magic-User/Wizard has the infamous "Magic Missile" spell, but at one use per day it isn't the kind of thing I was thinking of.  D&D4 splits MM into two basically two types, one that always hits and does a small amount of damage (like the older versions) and one that does more damage, but requires a to-hit roll.

In the Buffy RPG witches get a basic TK power, which can be used as a basic attack.  In WitchCraft there is a skill called Magic Bolt that is basically a magical attack.

The issue I am having is that a basic attack like this is not very "witchy". Sure it features in a lot of modern supernatural books like The Dresden Files, but I have been wracking my brain all weekend to think of a time when say a witch from fairy tale or myth used one.  Curses, hexes, evil eyes yes, some sort of blast? Not really.  Harry is also a Wizard, not a witch, a difference that I have quite been able to tell in the books, but it has been mentioned.  Compare that to Rachel Morgan of the Hollows Books.  Rachel has a lot of magical fire power, but if she wants an "attack" spell she mixes up a potion and puts it into the balls of a paint ball gun.

I think if I wanted to add witches to any old-school game an attack spell would need to be of a non-active kind, like a curse, hex or even TK.  Wizards would need something similar, but I think theirs would be more damage causing, sort of like an at-will magic missile.

I suppose this is one of the reason I do like newer games, it does give the lower level magic using types more to do.  Sure the idea is that fighters are your low-level fire power and wizards are the high powered ones and that is great; from a group dynamic perspective.  From an individual perspective it means a lot of time "doing nothing" (not really, but you know what I mean) during combats.

So thoughts everyone?
What do you think of an at-will style magical attack for magic-using types (not clerics though)?  Something like a magic missile, but say does less damage, maybe only 1 pt per level?

Not very Old-School I know, but want to see what people think.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

True Spell Casting: True 20

True Spellcasting – an Alternate Spellcasting Rule for True20

I have been enjoying playing with True20 off and on and it has really met my needs in a game, but there are still some things about it that I miss from other games. In particular is magic.

The True20 powers system is a very good one and it can emulate almost any magical system I have wanted to try, but there is one area where it falls short and that is in terms of spells. By spells I mean magical effects that are typically written down and can be learned or taught. Yes, very similar to D&D, but also spells that could be found in Call of Cthulhu or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPGs.

Why Spells?
Part of it is one of storytelling, sometimes I need a one-time magical effect and I don’t really need a new power to describe it or I need a way of transmitting the knowledge of magical effects in a portable means; ie. in books.
The other the is one of necessity. I have dozens of D&D 3.x/d20 books, many are filled with spells, so all in all hundreds if not thousands of spells.
Wouldn’t powers-as-spells work just as well? Well yes, and in fact it would work for I guess 80% or more of all the spells. With a limited power selection the difference between Adepts are often mostly cosmetic.
Also there are spells that there are not True20 Power equivalents, wish is a good example, and most of the spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu.
And finally, I like to run a magic-rich game. True20 is perfect for this low-magic game I am working on now, but less so to emulate say D&D or my modern horror/supernatural game.

How to Do it?
I do not want to abandon the Power structure in True20, nor do I want to adopt the d20 Spell system wholesale either, but a simple compromise seems to work out well.

To do this I have created a new Supernatural Power called simply enough, Spellcasting. An adept can take Spellcasting up to nine (9) times.
To actually cast the spell the adept uses the Spellcasting power just like any other power.

Spellcasting 1
You can cast spells of the First Level. Read the spell description for effects and it the spell needs to be Maintained and if it is Fatiguing.

Spellcasting 2
Prerequisite: Spellcasting 1
As Spellcasting 1 except now the caster can cast spells of Second Level.

And so on…

Learning Spells
Taking the power at a new level is not enough to cast spells. The adept must first take the power then learn the spell. This allows the Gamemaster to control which spells can be entered into the game. It also allows which spells can or can’t be learned. For example the Gamemaster can restrict Wizard spells or even “Ranger” spells to a particular group of casters, or even by schools or descriptors (Necromancy or “Fire”).
Spells could be learned via enrollment in specialized “Wizard schools” (D&D or Harry Potter), from occult libraries (Buffy) or found in ancient tomes (Army of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu).

To learn a spell requires a difficulty check.

DC = 15 + Spell Level (in magic rich games) or 20 + Spell Level (in magic rare game)

The bonus for this check is like a skill check. A d20 + Bonus
Bonus = Power Level (Adept Level + 3) + Key Ability (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma)

Alternately you can make this a true skill check with Knowledge (Supernatural) or even bringing in the Spellcraft skill.

If the spells can be found the Adept can learn 3 + Key Ability number of spells per Spell level in total, though they can have as many spells in their library as they can.

For example, Taryn, a 1st level Charisma-based Adept takes Spellcasting 1 as a power. She has Charisma +2. She can cast 1st level spells and can learn up to 5 total 1st level spells (3 + 2). Even though she has a library full of 2nd level spells from her mother, they cannot be learned until she takes Spellcastng 2.

Casting Spells
To cast a spell the Adept needs to have appropriate level of the Spellcasting Power.

Casting a spell is not quite the same as using a Power. They often do require the movement of hands, saying special words and the use of material components. Because of this anytime a spell is cast, a spellcasting check needs to be made.

Spell Casting DC = 10 + Spell level
Bonus = Adept Level +3 + Key Ability.

So in our example Taryn our 1st level adept casts Color Spray, a 1st level spell.
The DC for her to cast this spell is 11 (10 + 1) this represents her getting her colored sand and saying the words.
Her bonus is +6 (Adept level 1, +3, +2 for Charisma). So she needs to roll a 5 or more on a d20.

To Save Against a Spell
DC = 10 + Key Ability + Spell’s Level

Converting Spells
D20 spells are not written like True20 powers, but there is enough similarity to allow conversion, for the most part the conversions are dealt with in the True20 book.

Healing or Damage that does 1d6 per caster level has a damage bonus of +1 per level of the Adept.
For the odd case where damage is 1d8 or more then use the follow conversions.
1d6 per caster level = +1 per adept level
1d8 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +1
1d10 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +2
1d12 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +3

Damage the effects abilities is dealt with the conversions below
1d3, 1d4 = 1
1d6 = 2
1d8 = 3
1d10 = 4
1d12 = 5

Converting Spells, Part 2: d20 Call of Cthulhu
The spells in the d20 Call of Cthulhu are mostly d20 compatible. What they lack are spell levels and most cause some sort of damage to the caster, usually damage to an ability, but often damage in terms of sanity loss.

For ability damage divide the listed damage by 2.
For HP damage use the conversions above.
For Sanity use the Mental Health track from the True20 Companion. Sanity damage effects the base Sanity Bonus (page 88, T20C).

To convert Sanity damage take the amount the of d6’s rolled as the loss. For example if sanity damage is 3d6 then the damage to the Sanity Bonus is -3. For any die other than a d6 then add +1. So Sanity Damage in d20 CoC that causes 2d8 would be 2+1 or -3.

Spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu are all considering to be 1st level in terms of learning and casting. But do not let that fool you. The CoC spells are all difficult to cast and often dangerous to both friends and enemies alike. The DCs to learn the spells are often given not with the spell itself, but the books in which they are written in (the Necronomicon, Nameless Cults, etc.)

Alternately you can consider CoC spells to be of level 10, thus requiring another level of Spellcasting in order to cast, but that removes the ability of the regular investigator to cast these spells.

Converting Spells, Part 3: BESM d20 Advanced Magic
Spells in BESM d20 Advanced Magic were another attempt to overhaul the magic system. Instead of levels the spells are given in terms of DCs.
To find the level of any spell take the DC divide by 10 and round up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cantrips for Original and Basic-Era Games

One of the things that bugged me the most about playing FRPGs of the 70s and 80s was that wizards, supposedly after having all this training in magic and magical philosophy and thought could only do one spell. Per day. While I understand why it was set up like that, it never really made much sense that they wouldn't know more. After all, look at the Harry Potter kids in the first book/movie, they knew all sorts of spells at age 11. We can hand wave it and say it takes years just to master the basics, but it still seems a bit light to me.

So following in the footsteps of the game's Advanced cousin and introduce the idea of cantrips, or 0-level spells.

These spells by their nature need to be simple things, plus they should also be useful to the magic-user in question. Little spells they learn to see the effects of spells in a teaching environment and something they can safely use while practicing. So given that cantrips must satisfy these requirements for me.
  1. They need to be simple effects.
  2. They should not cause damage.
  3. All the cantrips a magic-user knows will be learned in school before 1st level.
The effects should never be anything near the effects of a 1st level spell. They would be "utility" type spells that would work just like all other spells. They would have to be memorized, though the time to do so is minimal and once cast they are forgotten for that day's use. Note: Some Game Masters may allow wizards to use cantrips at will.

Also, given their nature, cantrips cannot be reversed. Unless otherwise stated a cantrip has no effect on a living creature. So a wizard cannot place an Arcane Mark on a person or animal nor can Warm be used to warm up a person. It can be used on a bed or blanket and then the person can use the now warmed bed or blanket.

Magic users know three (3) cantrips before 1st level + a bonus number equal to their Intelligence modifier. So a magic-user with Intelligence of 18 knows 3 + 3 cantrips, 6. This gives this 1st level magic use a total of 7 spells (6 cantrips and 1st level), a magically potent number.

Alarm Ward
Level: 0
Range: 50' radius
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: sets up an area of warning
With this spell the magic-user can set up a area of alarm 50' around his/her person. Any creature larger than a cat entering the radius will set off a mental alarm within the caster. They will not know what sort of creature had entered their area but they will know one has and the general direction.

Arcane Mark
Level: 0
Range: 1 object touched
Duration: Permanent
Effect: Leaves a permanent mark on an object
By means of this spell the magic-user can place a personal mark on any non-living item. This mark is usually a personal glyph or sigil that is recognizable to all other magic users. They may not know who the owner is, but they will know it is owned by another wizard. The mark itself is not magical.

Black Flame
Level: 0
Range: 1 normal fire
Duration: Instant
Effect: Colors one normal flame
This spell changes a normal fire into one with dark flames so it casts no light, but still provides heat. The fire loses some of it's heat. While the flames do provide heat they do not burn, though they are uncomfortable to the touch.

Level: 0
Range: 1 object touched
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: Lowers the temperature of one object to a few degrees
The magic-user can use this spell to lower the temperature of any non-living material up to 1 cubic foot. Typical uses are to cool food or drinks or even to cool the air in a room that is too warm. The temperature cannot be lowered to a degree where it would cause anything damage. The temperature can lowered to just above freezing.

Level: 0
Range: 1 object touched
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: cleans one object
This spell can be used to clean a single object. The object can be anything, clothing, armor, weapons or even a area of a home. Unlike other cantrips this one can be cast on a willing living participant. A magic-user casting clean on themselves will appear as they would if they had recently bathed and donned fresh clothing. This spell can clean 1 cubic foot of space or an area 10' x 10'.

Level: 0
Range: Within 10' of caster
Duration: Instant
Effect: Closes an open, un-barred door or window.
This spell creates allows the caster to close one door or window that is not locked or otherwise barred. This cantrip will not lock the door or window unless by the action of closing it naturally becomes locked.

False Glamour
Level: 0
Range: One item
Duration: Instant
Effect: Makes one object appear to be an illusion
This simple illusion will cause a solid object or creature to flicker and blur faintly, as if it were a flawed image. Failed attempts to disbelieve the illusion will appear to succeed, giving the object or creature the false appearance of a translucent outline.

Level: 0
Range: One item
Duration: Instant
Effect: Flavors one serving
This minor spell flavors one serving of food. The flavor can be changed but it does not change the nature of the food item nor does make poisoned food or spoiled food edible, similar to Freshen. The flavor can be chosen by the magic-user.

Level: 0
Range: One Item
Duration: Instant
Effect: Removes wrinkles, flavors or brightens one object
This minor spell allows the magic user to "freshen" one object up to 1 cubic foot. Typical uses are to remove the wrinkles in a garment, brighten the color or some non-living object, or even make bland food more favorable, or polishing metal or glass. All these effects are considered to be a minor illusion. This spell cannot make poisoned or spoiled food edible.

Level: 0
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: Slowly lifts 1 pound or less of non-living material
The magic user may use this spell to lift an object via magic alone. The object needs to be non-living and weigh less than 1 pound. The object will remain floating in mid-air for up to one-hour as long as the magic-user is paying at least some attention to it. If the magic-user is distracted at all, say in combat or casting another spell (including a cantrip) then the object drops.

Level: 0
Range: 1 object touched
Duration: Instant
Effect: Fixes minor wear and tear in non-living and non-metal apparel
By means of this spell the magic-user can mend or repair non-living and non-metal material. Typically this spell is used on clothing to reattach a button, fix a tear or rip or other minor repairs. The amount of material mended cannot exceed 1 cubic foot. This spell can also be used on minor household wear and tear as well. It cannot fix a dented piece of armor or sharpen a sword, but it can reattach a leather strap to armor or fix a pane of glass if all the pieces are present.

Level: 0
Range: 1 known person
Duration: Instant
Effect: Sends a quick message to a single person
By means of this spell the magic-user can end a brief message, no more than a dozen words, to a person they know. This person can be any distance away and be able to understand the magic-users language or at least the language of the message.

Mote of Light
Level: 0
Range: Within 10' of caster
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: Creates a small mote of light equal to candle light
This spell creates a small mote of light roughly equal to candle light that hovers near the magic-user's head. The spell is typically used for reading or lighting a small area (1 cubic foot). It is not a replacement for the Light or Continual Light spells. This spell cannot be cast into someone's eyes. The spell is not useful for lighting dark passages unless that passage is very well known (such as the magic-users' own home).

Level: 0
Range: Within 10' of caster
Duration: Instant
Effect: Opens an unlocked, un-barred door or window.
This spell creates allows the caster to open one door, window, chest or other item that is not locked or otherwise barred.

Level: 0
Range: 1 small object
Duration: Instant / 1 hour
Effect: the caster can hide one small object
This spell allows the caster to take an object that would normally fit into a closed fist and make it disappear. The item is not invisible, it is simply gone. The item can be recalled up to one hour later. After one hour the item returns to the caster's hand.

Puff of Air
Level: 0
Range: Within 10' of caster
Duration: Instant
Effect: Creates a small puff of air. Enough to remove dust or put out one candle
This spell creates a small puff of air; enough to blow away dust from objects or to put out a candle, but not enough to put out a torch or lantern. The puff can move very light items as would a puff of air blown from natural means. This spell can be used to blow dirt from an item or area 10' by 10'.

Quick Sleeping
Level: 0
Range: 1 willing subject
Duration: 8 hours till woken up
Effect: Puts a willing target falls asleep
This spell allows the caster to make a willing creature fall asleep. The spell will not work if used against an unwilling subject. The caster can cast this spell on herself, but obviously, this will be the last spell that she casts in that day.

Level: 0
Range: Within 100' of caster
Duration: One Sound
Effect: Creates a ghostly moan 100' from the caster
By means of this spell the magic-user can create a ghostly moaning sound that appears to come from 100' from the caster. The moan is not loud nor can it quite cause fear, but any that hear it will know of it's "unnatural" nature.

Level: 0
Range: Within 100' of caster
Duration: Instant
Effect: Creates a small spark, enough to light a candle
The caster can light a single candle up to 100' feet away. This spell is not enough to start a torch, ignite oil or start a campfire unless there is something that burns very easy used; such as paper or old leaves. The effect is the same of a spark from a set of flint and steel. Some magic-users will use this spell to light a pipe.

Level: 0
Range: 1 object touched
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: Raises the temperature of an object a few degrees.
This spell will warm 1 cubic feet of material a few degrees. Typical uses are to warm food or drinks or even to warm the air in a room that is too cool. The temperature cannot be raised to a degree where it would cause anything damage.   

Section 15 Copyright Notice
Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document Copyright 2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks is Copyright© 2003, Timothy S. Brannan and the Netbook of Witches Team.
Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Copyright © 2006-2008. Chris Gonnerman.
Labyrinth LordTM. Copyright © 2007, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.
"Cantrips for Original and Basic era FRPGs" Copyright ©2010, Timothy S. Brannan

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gnomes for Basic D&D

I guess this one is for my brother who loves gnomes. First in a batch of various "Basic" D&D things I have been thinking about.

Gnomes for Basic era FRPGs

Gnomes have long been a staple of various fantasy role-playing games, but surprisingly there were never any core rules for gnomes in the Basic-era (1974-1991) of the Worlds First and Largest Fantasy Adventure RPG.


Gnomes are small humanoids that live in the same general areas as do elves. While elves prefer the open spaces, Gnomes live underground in elaborate burrows and underground cave systems. They share many similarities with dwarves, which maybe something of a racial cousin, they are their own race with a long history.

The typical gnome stands 3' to 3½ ' tall, and weighs about 40-45 lbs; About the same size as a Halfling, but not as stocky. Their skin color ranges from dark tan to woody brown, their hair is fair, and their eyes can be any shade of blue (from a light ice blue, to brilliant cerulean to a deep midnight violet-blue). Gnome males prefer short, carefully trimmed beards. Gnomes generally wear leather or earth tones, though they decorate their clothes with intricate stitching or fine jewelry. Gnomes reach adulthood at about age 40, and they live about 350 years, though some can live almost 500 years.

A gnome character must have a score of 9 or higher in both Intelligence and Dexterity. Gnomes are similar to Elves in terms of play, they can act as fighters (though not as good as true fighters or Dwarves) and can cast spells as do Magic-Users, though in the form of Alchemy.

Sages disagree on the origins of the gnome as a species and their name. Some point to the word "gnomic" meaning "to know" or "the wise". Other point to "gnomus" meaning "earth" or "from the earth". Both seem to be apt.

Some occult sages and scholars suggest that gnomes are off-shoots of dwarves, halflings, or even goblins. They do have some connection to the lands of Faerie, as do the elves. Other have suggested that gnomes are in fact some sort of earth spirit or even an elemental. Gnomes themselves say they simply are and leave it at that.

Gnomes are inherently magical, many excel in areas of alchemy and other magic, and most gnomes know at least a little magic. Adventuring gnomes can cast wizard spells as indicated below. Gnomes though use their magic via Alchemy. Gnome spell books are full of arcane recipes and formulae. To "cast" a spell then the Gnome either drinks, throws or otherwise invokes the potion as needed. For example a Clarivoyance "spell" might require the Gnome the spread an oily poultice over their eyes, a Fire Ball spell could be a potion that is thrown. In any case these would not require a roll to hit any more than any other magic-user or elf.

Gnomes tend to be Neutral in alignment, but quite a few are Lawful.
Gnomes hate kobolds and will try to attack them on site.

There are Gnomes that also known as "Deep Gnomes" that have well defined infravision to 90'.

Prime Requisite: A gnome has two Prime Requisites: Intelligence and Dexterity. If either of these Ability scores is 13 or greater the character gains a 5% bonus to Experience Points earned every adventure. If both are 13 or greater, the XP bonus if 10%.

Weapons and Armor: Gnomes may use any weapon, but it needs to "sized" to fit them. Typically any weapon sized for a Halfling character. Gnomes may not use "two-handed" handed weapons such as two-handed swords, long bows, battle axes, and other larger weapons.

Gnomes may wear any type of armor, but most prefer "natural" armor such as leather or hide. Halfling armor must "taken in" in order to properly fit a Gnome.

Gnomes may use any magic item that is useable by Magic-Users and any magic weapon.

Special Abilities

A gnome has a number combat advantages, due to it's size and familiarity with various terrain.

Combat: Gnomes use a combination of melee weapons and magic in combat situations. All gnomes gain the following bonuses when in combat.

-2 bonus to Armor Class when attacked by creatures larger than man-size.
+ 1 bonus to initiative rolls.
+1 bonus to "to hit" rolls against Kobolds and Goblins.

Hiding: Gnomes are difficult to spot. In their natural habitat, dense wooded areas, low hill lands and natural (not man-made) underground formations a gnome can only be detected 15% of the time (GM rolls). In man-made dungeons this increases to 25%. The gnome must remain still and not be carrying any type of light.

Languages: In addition to the common and alignment languages Gnomes may also speak gnome, dwarf, kobold and goblin. Additionally a gnome may speak to animals 1/day as per the Spell of the same name. Animals are limited to burrowing animals (badgers, rabbits,

Vision: A gnome can see twice as well as a human in low-light conditions (starlight, moonlight, torchlight and a "light" spell, but not "Continual Light").

Spells: As mentioned, Gnomes can use Magic-User spells like an elf. These spells are usually in the form of an alchemical mixture that must either thrown, drank or applied as needed. There is no penalty for performing this action since it is considered to be part of the "casting time". The gnome can only prepare the number of alchemical agents ("spells") as per the chart below. The gnome then must prepare a new batch the next day. Gnomes use natural ingredients that are usually readily available and carry others with them. These materials are small and light and typically weigh no more than a ounce per level of spells. So a 3rd level spell would weigh about 3 ozs.

For example the Gnome may wish to cast a Light spell. This may require them to mix two reagents together that produce a glow.

Gnomes may advance only to 9th level ("Gnome Adeptus"). This is balanced by the gnome's magical ability and their ability to also fight better than a same level magic-user. At 9th level a gnome may settle in area and attract other gnomes to form a clan, or gather their family together for a clan as it's Chieftain. All burrowing animals within the area (a radius of 5 miles) will be friendly to the gnomes of the clan and can speak to them. These animals will warn the clan of approaching intruders or strangers, carry brief messages back and forth to other clans.

Hit Die
1Gnome Neophyte
2Gnome Apprentice
3Gnome Theoreticus
4Gnome Practicus
5Gnome Philosophus
6Gnome Major
7Gnome Magus
8Gnome Magister
9Gnome Adeptus

Death Ray or Poison
Magic Wands
Paralysis or Turn to Stone
Dragon Breath
Rods, Staffs and Spells

Gnomes use the same attack to hit rolls as do fighters, dwarves, elves and Halflings.

Target's Armor Class

Section 15 Copyright Notice

Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

System Reference Document Copyright 2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Copyright© 2003, Timothy S. Brannan and the Netbook of Witches Team.

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Copyright © 2006-2008. Chris Gonnerman.

Labyrinth LordTM. Copyright © 2007, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Gnomes for Basic era FRPGs" Copyright ©2010, Timothy S. Brannan

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Magic in Cortex, Savage Worlds and Witch Girls Adventures

This is part two of my deep delve into the magic systems of some of the games I like, in particular Cortex, Unisystem and Savage Worlds.

So. I am currently re-doing the magic system for an RPG and trying not to plagiarize myself from other games and it has me thinking.

Why don't Savage Worlds or Cortex have better magic systems?

I'll be 100% honest here, I am not a huge fan of Savage Worlds, but I do see the attraction and why it is a good game. So it is likely that there is something out there and I just haven't found it yet. I do however own every Cortex book there is (and I love the Supernatural RPG) and I usually left feeling a little underwhelmed when it comes to magic. This seems a touch odd really, given the people that worked on it and games that have come out for it. Ok, to be fair, none of the games are trying to be the next Mage or WitchCraftRPG.

Reading over both games I am struck with many of the similarities (yes there are lots of differences too, but I want to talk about them in general) they share. No surprise really. Both are products of post-d20 game design and both take the best aspects (in their author's opinions) of games that came before. Both attempt to fill the same need that GURPS, True 20 or Unisystem fills for others. Maybe that is why I am not all "ZOMG THIS IS TEH BEST GAEM EVAR!!!!" about them. Yeah they are really, really good. But they are missing something critical for me. A good magic system.

Now Savage Worlds presents a system that is designed to be used with Magic, Psionics, Mad/Weird Science or Supers. It does work and it has a nice streamlined design that I do like. In fact it really is the first game where I felt Mad Science was a great option (I disliked it in both Mage and Buffy). Cortex is more of toolkit approach in the core where the author actively supports you building a system on your own. Why thank you Jamie! I think I might just have to do that. ;)

I have made attempts over the last year to port the Ghosts of Albion magic system over to varying degrees of success (and failure). The process is simple really. Pick an attribute (typically a mental one), add an Edge (SW: such as "Arcane Background") or Asset (Cortex), combined with a skill (Savage Worlds suggests "Spellcasting" or "faith") and compare that to some target number, usually modified by the spell difficulty. Not really that hard. The system out of the box for Savage Worlds is most similar in concept to WitchCraft, where Arcane Background functions as The Gift. Then this allows you to buy more powers (Edges) that are used as spells. In Ghosts of Albion spells are not Edges, Assets or Qualities, they are things you can buy or acquire, typically via the Occult Library Quality. This frees up those character creation points, but makes for very specific effects. "Fireball" does just that, but a "Fire Manipulation" power can be at low levels effecting a normal flame or a fireball at higher ones. Arcane books then in this system then become more how-to-guides and training rather than recipes for spells. Good for WitchCraft RPG and Witch Girls Adventures, bad for Charmed, Buffy and Ghosts of Albion.

So I have to take a different approach.

So should "Spells" be Powers? Yes. I think that much is clear. Given the point economies of both systems spending a ton of points on individual effect spells will take forever. Of course that is if I am doing something like Charmed. If I stick with something like Supernatural then maybe that is fine.

There needs to be a trait (Edge, Asset, Quality or even Attribute) that grants power to perform magic. Like the Gift or Magic. It is tied to a skill, called Spellcasting or Arcana maybe. The skill then can be how you increase your personal power. Of course the Magic trait can also have levels to represent raw power and even something like Mana/Essence points. Currently neither game offers something exactly like this. But Witch Girls Adventures does.

Witch Girls Adventures is fun game I picked up over the summer and have been having quite a bit of fun with. So before I build a new magic system, let's see how one ported over might work.

WGA has a Magic attribute that typically starts out at d8 for most characters, though some have d10. Remember, this is a magic heavy game. Let's translate that to a Magic Edge/Asset. The first level you can buy is d4 and it can move up. WGA also has the Spellcasting skill. Let's move that over as well.
The basic Cortex formula then is Magic + Spellcasting and compare vs Target number. It's a simple system. WGA also various spells/powers that can be bought or learned. We can also use the basic Zap Point mechanic.

Savage Worlds is a bit different. It's power system compares your level (Novice, Seasoned, Veteran…) and then subtracts power points. In WGA every spell has a level, 1 to 6 typically, and those might correspond to SW levels. So Novice can be levels 1-2, Seasoned 3, Veteran 4, Heroic 5 and up. The power Points loss is equal to twice the WGA level. You can still take the different magical "Schools" and break them out into skills. It might even make sense to create a Magic Attribute (just like WGA) and have it ranked d4 and up and purchase the magical skills (WGA schools) just like one does normally in SW. A magic roll then is a Skill roll (plus the Wild Die for Wild Cards) compared to the TN, and then add in any raises. I would also give magic using characters power points equal to twice their Magic Attribute die. So a d4 has 8, a d8 has 16 and so on, just like Witch Girls Zap points.

I like this for Cortex, but not convinced it is any better or worse than what Savage Worlds already has now. What is does give Savage Worlds is more variety to its magic system. Like Unisystem, Savage Worlds has carved out a niche for itself and it works well in that niche. It's Pulpy with "Bigger Than Life Heroes!" and maybe not the high magic hijinks one would see in Ghosts of Albion or Mage.

I have a couple more ideas to test this out, maybe finally bringing to life that Charmed RPG I have been dying to do for years.

Friday, October 30, 2009


"Scarecrow on a wooden cross, blackbird in the barn…" - John Mellencamp, Scarecrow

When I think back to Halloweens of my childhood one image keeps coming back to me. No not vampires or witches, those were more artifacts of my later years. No the image that kept my 4-5 year old self up at night is a Scarecrow. We had the cardboard, jointed Scarecrow that that was common in the 70's. We hung up in our house for a couple of Halloweens. Given the house, I had to have been 4 or 5 at the time. That thing scared the hell out me. I don't feel that fear now, nor even the memory of it, just the memory of the memory, devoid of fear. It's odd really. So this year we wanted to find a Scarecrow for our house, now some 35 years later. I have NEVER seen one though that can match up to the memory I have. So it should be no surprise that I have used Scarecrows in all my games. In fact, Larry Elmore was channeling me (of course!) with this famous cover to Dragon Magazine. I loved the witch on it (and no one can do a witch quite like Mr. Elmore) but that Scarecrow is just plain evil.

For this Halloween here is a collection of Scary Scarecrows to add to your games. Not every game is here, but some of the ones I have used in the past.

Ghosts of Albion/Cinematic Unisystem

Razzle dazzle drazzle drone. Time for this one to come home.
Razzle dazzle drazzle die. Time for this one to come alive!
- Parchment found near a risen scarecrow

Scarecrows are basic guardians similar to druthers, but not nearly as powerful. Like mundane scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. They stumble clumsily about their assigned area and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some scarecrows are bound to a post, and use their paralyzing (fear) gaze to imprison any trespassers.
Scarecrows are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything humanoid or animal-like in appearance that walks into it's territory, unless otherwise instructed by their creator.

Name: Scarecrow
Motivation: To follow orders
Creature Type: Magical Construct
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Constitution 6, Intelligence 0, Perception 1, Willpower 0
Ability Scores: Muscle 16, Combat 5, Brains 0
Life Points:
Drama Points: 1
Powers: Fear Gaze (paralyze), Hard to Kill 2, Immune to cold, fear, poisons, sleep, water, and any mind effecting spell, Vulnerability to fire.

Name Score Damage Notes
Punch 5 8 Bash
Slam tackle 5 8 Bash
Takedown 6 4
Dodge 6 Defence action
Grapple 7 Resisted by Dodge

A scarecrow can paralyze a victim with its gaze via its fear attack. The victim needs to make a Willpower check (doubled) with at least one success level.
Because of their straw bodies, scarecrows are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take double damage from all fire attacks. In addition, a scarecrow guardian will catch fire easily after any attack that would normally ignite mundane items.

A scarecrow can be created easily by a standard ritual. A basic scarecrow is used for the body. It usually takes a couple of hours to construct a scarecrow, not counting the time for the ritual.

Animate Scarecrow
Quick Cast: No
Power Level: 3
Philosophy: Witchcraft
Requirements: The creation of a scarecrows body and an hour long ritual.
Components: Common components.
Effect: The witch must prepare the scarecrows body out of hay, straw and old clothes. This should take at least an hour or two to gather materials and make the body. Longer times are needed for more complex scarecrows, but never more than three hours. Successful casting means the scarecrow is animated and will respond to the witchs commands.
Spell failure or backfire results in a scarecrow that can never be animated. The witch will need to burn the wood and start over.
Creation: Alteration, minor (+3), Casting Time (-2), Touch (-1), Permanent (+6), Unusual materials (-1), Philosophy ().

Witch Girls Adventures
Scarecrow (Rank 2 Monster)

Body: d8
Mind: d2
Senses: d2
Will: d2
Social: d2
Magic: d2

Life Points: 16
Reflex: 11
Resist Magic: 5
Zap: 10

Skills: Fighting +2, Scare +6

Construct: Scarecrows are created and are immune to Mentalism magic. They also feel no pain, never grow tired and do not need to eat or sleep.
Vulnerability to Fire: Scarecrows take x3 damage from fire.
Fear: Scarecrows are surrounded by an aura of fear. (Scare Skill at +6)


Whatever they made with. Some witches will equip their Scarecrows with a mowing scythe.

Description: Scarecrows look exactly like normal scarecrows, though those with the ability to see magical auras will notice an aura around the Scarecrow and possibly an evil looking glow in their eyes. Scarecrows can follow very simple orders. "Guard this field from trespassers." "Keep everyone but me and those I am with out of this barn." The words are not as important as the intent of the words. As long as it is simple and the witch can put it in a sentence or two then the Scarecrow will follow her commands.
  • Cryptozoology fact: Scarecrows can be created by any witch with the proper spells, but regardless of the type of witch all Scarecrows "Seem" evil.

  • Cryptozoology fact: Witches cannot turn people into Scarecrows nor bind their spirits to one, that is only rumor.

  • Cryptozoology fact: Scarecrows are known for their fear causing effects and their difficulty to make; a Scarecrow in a field is a good sign that the witch that owns it is powerful.
Create Scarecrow Spell
Conjuration, Rank 3
The witch needs to construct a scarecrow and then use this spell in order to bring it to life. The spell is difficult to learn because it is no longer featured in most spell texts. The cost to make the Scarecrow materials and construct it is worth only 10 allowance points, but can take a couple of hours to fashion properly.

Spellcraft & Swordplay

#App: 1 (1-2)
AC: 3
Move: 40'
HD: 3 (13 hp)
Attacks: Slam (fists)
Special: Immune to sleep, charm, paralysis, compulsion
Treasure: None
XP: 20 + 39 (59)

Vulnerable (Fire)

D&D 3.x / d20
Scarecrow Guardian (From my "Liber Mysterium")
Medium-Sized Construct
Hit Dice: 3d10 (15 hp)
Initiative: -2 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 10 (-2 Dex, +2 Natural)
Attacks: Slam +2
Damage: Slam 1d6
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft
Special Attacks: Paralyzing Gaze
Special Qualities: Construct, Fire Vulnerability, damage
reduction 15/+1
Saves: Fort +3, Ref -1, Will +4
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 6, Con --, Int --, Wis 16, Cha 1
Climate/Terrain: Any
Organization: Solitary or gang (2-4)
Challenge Rating: 4
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always Neutral
Advancement: 4-8 HD (Medium) 9-12 HD (Large)

Scarecrow Guardians are basic guardians similar to golems, but not nearly as powerful. Like typical scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. The stumble about their assigned area poorly and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some Scarecrow Guardians are bound to a post, and use their paralyzing gaze to imprison any trespassers.

Scarecrow Guardians are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything, humanoid or animal like in appearance that walks into it's territory unless otherwise instructed by their creator. Paralyzing Gaze: Target can not move, as per the Hold Person spell as cast by a 10th level cleric, 30 ft., Will Save DC 15

Construct: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.
Fire Vulnerability: Because of their straw bodies, Scarecrow Guardians are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take double damage from all fire attacks.
In addition, a scarecrow guardian will catch fire easily after any attack that would normally ignite mundane items. A scarecrow on fire receives 2d6 damage each round (do not double this damage)

Undead ScarecrowSome Scarecrow Guardians are imbued with a spirit of a person. These scarecrows have all the same traits as a normal Scarecrow Guardian, except their creature type is undead, and have the same hit dice (though the type of die is changed to d12) and skills as their previous incarnations. Undead Scarecrows can still be bound to an area to protect, and still obey the commands of their creator. An Undead Scarecrow has the same CR as when he was living +1. An Undead Scarecrow whose master is killed has a 10% chance of being freed from his control, 25% chance of dying and a 65% chance of continuing to guard his specified area.

ConstructionA Scarecrow Guardian can be created easily by a standard ritual. A basic scarecrow is used for the body. The material components necessary for creating a Scarecrow Guardian costs 2,000 GP and require the Craft Wondrous Item feat. Understanding the ritual necessary for creating the Scarecrow can be done by a caster of at least 10th level. Completing the ritual drains 500 XP from the creator and requires the spell Animate Objects. The material components necessary for creating an Undead Scarecrow cost 10,000 GP and require the Craft Wondrous Item feat. Completing the ritual drains the creator of 1,200 XP and requires the spells Trap the Soul, Animate Objects, and Animate Dead, not to mention a living sacrifice (usually a small animal) which must be killed during the ritual to provide the life force.

AD&D 2nd Ed
Witch's Scarecrow (from my "Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks")
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Fields or Gardens (Sub-arctic to Sub-tropical, always near a witch's lair)
DIET: None
THAC0: 18
SIZE: M (4-6')
MORALE: Fearless (19)
PSIONICS: Nil, Immune to Psionics

Appearance: Witch's Scarecrows are motley creatures pieced together from a variety of materials. Sticks, twigs, old leaves, straw and similar materials are used to stuff old clothing into a manlike shape. Their heads are often stuffed bags with crude caricatures of a face or hollowed out, carved gourds or pumpkins. These creatures are usually set on a stout staff stuck in he ground, and look completely unremarkable. So unremarkable that only a Detect Magic or True Seeing allows someone to distinguish it from a normal scarecrow when it is not in motion. A moving Scarecrow has an odd grace, joint-less and fluid. It seems on the end of collapse yet continues to walk in defiance of what it ought to do.
Combat: Witch's Scarecrows made for combat, they're only supposed to scare things away. These creatures are surrounded a powerful fascination aura that they can employ whenever they are seen to move. Any intelligent being observing a moving Witch's Scarecrow must save vs. spells or be so overcome that they can do nothing but gape at the moving creature. Once this fascination has a hold of a victim, it lasts until one turn after the scarecrow leaves the area, the scarecrow remains still for a turn, the victim is scared by the scarecrow, or the victim suffers a damaging attack.
The Witch's Scarecrow has two forms of magical fear. It can cause anyone meeting its gaze to flee in utter fear for 1d4+10 rounds, with a chance (adjudicated by the DM) of dropping anything they have in hand while they panic. Only Witches, Priests, and victims with 6 or more hit dice, are allowed a saving throw against this attack. Whenever a Witch's Scarecrow is actually pressed into a fight its fascination aura becomes so intense that it acts as anyone approaching within ten feet becomes stricken by an identical magical fear. Things that have no fear, such as golems or undead, are immune to this effect.
These creatures are immune non-magical missiles of less than siege size, any harmful effects of the weather. They are immune to some spells, including Call Lightning, spells that cause sleep, charm, paralyze, or hold victims, as well as spells that require a biological target like the carious cause wounds spells.. They are resistant to most forms of fire (+2 saves, & half damage). They are vulnerable to the flames hand-wielded, non-magical torches, suffering 1d10 points of damage per strike. Additionally so long as their creator lives or a witch inhabits her nearby dwelling, these scarecrows neither decay nor show any signs of aging. Habitat/Society: Witch's Scarecrows are guardians created, not to force or harm intruders, but to frighten them away. Their nature limits the places they can inhabit, but within those limits they perform well. The ceremonies that allow one of these creatures to be animated fail if not performed in a field, garden, or other cultivated area of land. Thereafter, the creature regards this area as its home. While it will keep watch over it's maker and her dwelling while they are nearby, it will not travel with her if she leaves or wander off on its own.
Witch's Scarecrows are not violent by nature, and only attack if they are struck first. They seldom pursue fleeing opponents, only doing so if their maker has been slain in their sight. Those knowledgeable about such similar creatures find Witch's Scarecrows have a one distinctive behavior. They are themselves fascinated by children. They will neither harm nor attack them regardless of the children's actions. They will entertain children with pantomime and play along with any of their games as best they can. It will try to interpose itself between fighting children, and anything attacking a child in the presence of such a creature will be attacked it turn.
Ecology: Witch's Scarecrows have no need to eat, respire, or even breathe. Unlike most magical constructs, they have some small effect on the local ecology. Simply, they're excellent scarecrows. Most animals, for birds and foraging rodents to deer and even bears, will be quickly chased from any area the Scarecrow guards.
These creatures are created by witches to guard their lairs. The three part process requires a small stone (and any natural stone will do) to be consecrated by a Bless, then covered with layer after layer of certain leafy herbs, soaked in water to make them pliable and bound with twine. When this is the size of a proper heart a body must be built around it, a task which requires no special materials or effort. Finally, the scarecrow must be taken to a field the witch owns for its animation. This must be done on a moonless night sometime between planting and harvest or the ceremony will fail. The Witch must prop the scarecrow up on a staff and cast the following spells: Animate Object, Cloak of Fear, Resist Fire, Spook and Quest. If successful, the witch hears a slow, steady heartbeat for a short time.
Of course, a number of legends surround Witch's Scarecrows. The tales of these creatures becoming fierce avengers of their mistress' murders are certainly from some form of divine intervention rather than any inherent ability of their own. The report of one such creature, who was often used as a target by local archers, hurling arrowheads from its bodies was most likely the result of some singular enchantment. Lastly, legends that such creatures may freely use a the powers of a magical wand concealed within one of their forearms or similar staff that they are propped up with are probably not true.