Showing posts with label wga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wga. Show all posts

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Witch Girls Adventures: The Director's Cut

Witch Girls Adventures: The Director's Cut

A lot of what said about Witch Girls is still true from my original review. Here it is, with edits to reflect this newer version.

We now have 2, soon to be 3, versions of Witch Girls Adventures.
WGA = Witch Girls Adventures (1st ed)
WGA-DC = the Director's Cut, this version. 1.5 Edition.
WGA-BoS = Witch Girls Adventures: Book of Shadows, 2nd Edition. Out sometime in the future.

Witch Girls Adventures is a a "Drama Diaries" game, using the "Drama Dice" system from Malcolm Harris. This version, WGA-DC is using the first ed version of the Drama Dice system with some of the modifications of the upcoming 2nd Edition.

It is aimed at new players predominantly and girls in particular. The book begins with 10 pages of the Witch Girls Adventures comic to set the tone and mood of the game.

The book continues as it goes on to your typical introduction into what is a roleplaying game and is written for a young or teen girl audience ("just tell the geek (trust me; they are used to being called geeks) behind counter you need... ") cute. But too much of this would ruin the presentation of the game for me. Thankfully this is the only time, but it does establish one thing right away; this game is going for a different audience. The intro stuff continues with some terms both for the game and for RPGs.

It makes an odd left turn to give us optional rules (we haven't had any rules yet for these to be optional to) about how to run a "Harry Potter" like game with this. Eh. Nice, but this should have come last, not first. I still think this would have worked better as an appendix.

Chapter 2 gives us "Cliques" . So perfect. In another game these would be "Factions" or "Classes" or even "Traditions" or "Associations" or "Backgrounds", but given the Middle-school/High-school this is great. Cliques basically give your starting dice and what skills you are likely to have. The system is very easy. The dice system (The Drama Dice system as it is called) quickly reminds one of Cortex or Savage Worlds. Attributes are scored d2 to d12 for most types. The spread even looks the same as Cortex and Savage Worlds. Not surprisingly, afterall it is a logical progression. You have six attributes Body (which combines Strength, Agility and stamina), Mind (intelligence), Senses, Will, Social and Magic. Right away you see there is only one body type attribute but four mental ones. This is the way it should be really, WGA is not about beating people up, it is about the social aspects of the game and about magic, our last attribute. There are some secondary attributes that are derived. Rolls are made depending on the dice vs a difficulty table very similar to d20 or Unisystems' success levels. Cliques are detailed and they are your basic magical girl stereotypes (the Goth, the insider, the outsider…) . Plenty here to work with and if you are so inclined create your own (which is what the "Harry Potter" bit tries to do).

Chapter 3 moves onto skills. Each chapter has some fiction to introduce you to the Witch Girls world. It seems to be a cross between Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy and the Craft mixed in with anime magical girls. Skills. Unlike Cortex or Savage Worlds, skills are given a + score like Unisystem or d20. Roll the die associated with the attribute (each skill is connected to an attribute like d20) add the bonus the skill provides, check your success, or roll greater. There are 34 mundane skills and 10 magical skills. A little too much in my book, but I am willing to see how it works out here.

Chapter 4 Traits details traits, which are like Edges or Qualities. They are broken up into Talents (which you can get later in life) and Heritages (which are inborn and never change). Heritages have both a positive and negative aspect to them. Typical ones are there like "Beautiful" and others which have to be unique to this game like "Drama Queen".

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are all well detailed and very straight forward.

Chapter 5 is Magic. Really this is what we came here for. There is a lot more here on what magic is and what it means to a witch. There are different types of magic (necromancy, mentalism, cybermancy…) which you can spend points on to improve your rank. This can provide a lot of variance between witches. Think of it as somewhere between Harry Potter's classes and Mage's spheres. As GM (a Director in WGA) I might limit some of these to NPCs (Guest Stars) and not to PCs (Stars). Spell casting is broken down into a lot of detail. More than maybe the seasoned gamer needs, but given the audience it might be about right. Effects are broken out into Magic Type Rank (MTR) and the overall feel is like a table you might see in Mage or Mutants & Masterminds with what MTR (read as Power level) you need to achieve a certain effect. Want to cast that spell across the world? Better have an MTR of 9.
There are rules for Signature Spells, which take less Zap (read: Mana, Essence), choose only one and from the "School" with your highest MTR (which makes sense really). I like the idea of the signature spell and might try it in my other games too.
This is all followed by 20+ pages of spells and these by no means seem to be all of them. Since your cast member (Star, remember) isn't going to be buying swords, guns or anything else that characters spend money or points on then this is a good thing.

Chapter 6. Your Star gets an allowance allowing her to buy things like magical computers, flying Vespas, and more brooms than found in Home Depot. There are familiars, clothes, wings and all sorts of magical equipment here as well. You could build an adventure on just shopping for these things cause I am sure getting them is not as easy as going to the mall. Lots of neat wands and I have to say the books for young witches are pretty funny ("Samantha's Guide to Merry Mortals" yeah that made me laugh). And a bunch of mundane stuff like DVD players and skateboards. The allowance system is nice, I like it better than the Modern d20 purchase DCs and easier than keeping track of cash.

Chapter 7 is some odds and ends. A character questionnaire (nice) and a filled out character sheet (also nice). Good detail on what things mean and if you are new to games a certain boon.

Chapter 8 is for Directors, so all the rules of the game. The system, some combat rules (yes this is the FIRST game I have seen where the rules for shopping are longer than the rules for combat. ;) )
Some nice background fluff and some ideas for different types of stories, basically you can do Buffy, Good vs. Evil, Charmed, and Magic School. The experience system is "interesting" (Voodollars), but it looks like it works.

Chapter 9 is the world background. Now this one is kind of neat. I details the various races (witches are a different race) and they are not alone. Some history, some magical places (Santa's Workshop, No joke and it looks cool!) The ruling council of Witches (I am yoinking this for my Unisystem games), Spelling Bees, groups and other schools. Even how the mundane world reacts to all of this.

Chapter 10 presents some creatures. But if the art is any indication most of these are not for combat purposes, but potential dates (well there is only one witch kissing a vampire…) Nearly every kind of creature is covered from fairies to Cthulhu like horrors. But no demons. Seems a bit odd, given it all. Some NPCs (Guest Stars) of note.

Chapter 11 details the Willow Mistt School. Lands, buildings, faculty, everything you would expect to find is here. Willow Mistt is not Hogwarts, but it is easy to make the comparisons. I actually found it closer to Claremont Academy from Mutants & Masterminds.

We close with a sample Episode, some plot ideas, a lexicon, and a list of Witch names (see how many you recognize!), and some NPCs with sheets.

The Good:
Harris obviously has a love for this genre and it shows. The rules are well crafted and while there is nothing earth shaking here, they are familiar mechanics done up in a very nice way. The point of view of the work is nice. This is anti-Grim-Dark. It's not all unicorns, princesses and kittens (though it does have all that), it's a fun game. The art is not D&D 4e, but it is good and more to the point very appropriate for this game.
For new players this is a great little game. More experienced players may want more, but that is not due to the game itself, but rather expectations. Do not expect this to be "WitchCraft: The Junior High Years" (though you can do that).
This Director's Cut has been update to mostly full color interiors. Especially the art.

The Bad:
I know Harris is basically a one man operation so I am willing to cut him some slack here. But there are a large number of typos that should be fixed and some terms that might have either been mistakes or from earlier versions (the Magic attribute is called "Zap" in one spot.) I am willing to overlook those IF they are corrected in the 2nd Edition. They should have been corrected in this edition to be honest, but I am going to cut him the slack here but none in the 2nd ed WGA-BoS.

The Ugly:
Well....WGA has something of a weird rep online. I am not sure it is entirely justified to be honest. Gamers can get really weird about the oddest things. Are some of the witches depicted here anti-social monsters? Yeah. The poster child, Princess Lucinda is exactly that, but it is presented in the same vein of cartoon violence.

So. Who is Witch Girls Adventures for?
Well , that sort of depends but here is what I see.

New players and Game Master get a lot with this book. I see them having a great time.
People that enjoy the more social aspects of a game (and of gaming) rather than a bunch of combats.
Anyone that is a fan of Magical Girl Anime, Witches or even high school based games.
Anyone that has ever wished for a Harry Potter RPG.
Anyone that looks at the setting and resists the urge to make it "darker". WGA is not about being dark. You can be evil sure, and as a witch the entire world is after you, but the setting does not need the WoD feel at all.

Last Words
This is a fun game. Take it as it is, not as you want it to be, and you will have fun too. If you are an old pro, use this game to introduce younger people to the hobby. I hope that Malcolm Harris is successful and ends up getting a lot of new people, boys and girls, to our hobby.

The Director's cut adds a few more pages and most of the interior is now full color. There are some new pieces of art and some of the older b/w art is now in color. Whether or not this is worth 10 bucks is up to you. I enjoyed the 1st ed so much I wanted to get this.

I have two hopes for Witch Girls now.
1. That the final copy of 2nd edition, WGA-BoS, is out soon.
2. That Malcolm Harris gets someone to help with the editing. It is a shame to mar a great and fun game with some easily fixed typos.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Witch Books, Part 5. Other games

For D&D4:  The Witch Player Class
A decent witch class for D&D4.  Predates the witch that appears in Heroes of the Feywild by a few years, but is roughly compatible.

For Witch Girls Adventures: Original Witch Girls (OWG)
The comic that came before the RPG. The first 200 or so pages are comic content of various artists, but all in the WitchGirls School and world.  The next dozen or so pages is the Coventry School written up for the Witch Girls RPG. And we end with WGA write-ups for all the characters that appeared in the comics.
One of the great things about the Witch Girls game are the characters.  So this is a nice treat really.
If you are a fan of the game and want some more NPCs for your own school or need some ideas on adventure then this  is a great book to have.

For Colonial Gothic: Witchcraft
I enjoy the Colonial Gothic game quite a bit. I love how it weaves the earliest American history with horror and monsters.
I was set to like this book quite a bit and I do, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting given how much I enjoyed all the other CG books.
This book gives us Witchcraft for the CG world and it does a great job of researching, but it only gives us the "evil" sort of witchcraft associated with summoning demons.  Granted, that is perfectly fine for this game.  I think I wanted to see a little more.
The first half deals with Witchcraft in the CG world and is great.  The second half is from the writings of King James and frankly he was more than just little bit paranoid.
In the end it is still a good book for the game and something to grab if you are interested in thoughts a views on witches of the time.
Of course for my own take, if you are going to assume that King Jame's witches are real then why not Margaret Murray's witches too?  I guess I just like having the option of playing a witch in my games.

For Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade: Witches and Pagans
A great resource for the Renascence era Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade.

For Mage: The Ascension:  Tradition Book: Verbena (1st) (Revised)
More Verbena goodness and more rotes based on the Verbena's sphere of Life.

Both are full of great background information on "witches" in the Mage game and are full of wonderful ideas and great art.  This is WW at their peak and there is so much care and detail here that I couldn't not get these books.

For Basic Role-Playing (Call of Cthulhu...):  BRP Witchcraft
I reviewed this one in detail here:

Witch Hunter: the Invisible World
I reviewed this one in detail here:

Quest of the Ancients
I have talked about this one before too:
The witch in this book is roughly compatible with AD&D1.  Lots of new and fairly cool spells.

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Solstice Night

So I enjoy reading lots of different types of books and the one thing the advent of the eBook has given me is access to authors I might not other know about and access to their books.  So I stepped outside my normal range of books and found this new-to-me author Elroa Bishop.

One Solstice Night

Take equal parts of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and give them a solid twist and make it a love story then you might have something close to One Solstice Night.  But you should read the book anyway just to be sure.

OSN is a new novella by Elora Bishop,

A self described “Author of magical lesbian love stories” I had read her previous work, “The Witch Sea” and enjoyed it.  I got a copy of OSN and instead of completing my curriculum redesign I read it.  I am glad I did.

The book is rather short (one of the downsides) but very entertaining.  The book focuses on Isabella Fox (a very mediocre witch) and her talking familiar Alice.  Isabella has just been run out of her last town and she needs a new job.  As a witch for hire, especially one that is only so-so, she doesn’t have a lot of options.   So she ends up with the town of Benevolence (which is part of a series I guess).  Benevolence is quiet to be boring and she only has one spell to cast every year (and she is not even convinced it’s needed) and it would be the perfect gig.  Except for the Outcast.

There are a lot of cool locales that I hope we get to see in other books.  The Hag Bar in the World’s Largest Swamp was a really cool idea. It was very easy to see all these witches, holding brooms and their drinks walking around, drinking, chatting.  I wish I had thought of it.     Benevolence is an interesting town.  I enjoyed the causal magic people were using and Bishop did a great job of detailing the inhabitants.

What I liked about this tale is there is a certain timelessness about it.  No indication is given on when it takes place or even where, leaving it all up to your imagination.  I think this is a good thing to be honest.

We get witches as a given but we also get “Changers” which are people that can change into animals.  Not like werewolves, one minute they an animal the next they are human.  I liked it to be honest.

The love story part of this is between Isabella and another woman (natch) and it is very well handled.  There is nothing here that would be above a PG-13 level really.  The relationship builds over the course of the book and when it happens you believe it.

The climax of the book is something Isabella didn’t expect (nor did I) and frankly the action parts really pushed this book in my opinion.   I will not spoil the end, but I will say I can’t wait to read more about Isabella.

My only issue with the book.  It was not very long.  It is described as a novella, but it is on the short side of that I think.  I like short stories and this is closer in size to that (maybe longer) though the plotting is more novel like.  In truth though to make this story longer would have been unnatural.  There is a well defined begging, middle and end here and to make longer would have seemed odd.

In the end, girl finds girl and they live happily ever after.  At least till next year when she has to do the spell again. ;)
I would love to read more about Isabella’s future adventures.

What strikes me the most about this book is how much it would work as a Witch Girls Adventures setting. and

The Hag Bar would be right at home with everything else in Witch Girls.  I can also practically stat up Isabella Fox, Emily Deer, Mrs. Cat, Mrs. Goose and Alice in my head now.

It does make me want to read some of Bishop’s work.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

More Kickstarters!

Yup, another kickstarter.

This one is for the "Witch Girls Book of Shadows" which is an update to the very popular Witch Girls Adventures game.

Kickstarter is becoming the go-to place to see what sort new indie games are coming up.  I am really looking forward to this one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October Challenge: Let The Right One In (2008)

The other day I reviewed "Let Me In", today I want to talk about the "original" movie version, based on the book.  And let me say this.  Movies like this give me hope for the vampire movie.

Let The Right One In (2008)
A lot about what I said for Let Me In holds true for this movie. Oskar seems less bullied than Owen was and there is certainly something more "off" about Eli than Abby (this is made clearer in the book).
I felt the gore was less and there were next to no "vampire" effects.  But the story is still fantastic and I think more that any other vampire movie in years (maybe even decades) the really shows the horror of these creatures and the loneliness.

Oddly enough this movie is "brighter" in terms of cinematography.  The 2010 Hammer version was very dark in terms of lighting.  I think that is part of the reason why, despite nearly an identical script, that Owen comes off as more fragile than Oskar.  Owen and Oskar are both "damaged goods" but Owen is more victim here, Oskar seems more like a killer in training.

The performances are fantastic though.  It would be unfair of me to compare the actors to each other.  I don't understand Swedish to be able to truly compare them.

I have to admit while watching this I kept thinking back to two other Scandinavian imports I have seen recently, Trollhunter and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Girl in particular since it is also due for a big American remake.

In the end both movies are great and like my friend Jason Vey says they are everything Twilight is not.  Abby/Eli does not sparkle.  Nor though is she a rabid killer.  She kills because she has too, because she has forgotten everything else.

Tally: 16 movies, 14 new.

Game stats.  Since I did Abby for Ghosts of Albion, I thought maybe Eli would work well in Witch Girls Adventures.

Witch Girls Adventures
Eli, Vampire
Rank: 3

Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d6
Will: d6 Social: d6 Magic: d8

Life Points: 14 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 11 Zap Points: 16

Skills: Athletics +4, Basics +1, Fighting +3, Games (Puzzles) +5, Hear +2, Hiding +2, Look +1, Mundane Etiquette +3, Mysticism +1, Mythology +2, Scare +1, Streetwise +3, Urchin +4

Abilities: Devious, Tough
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities

Monday, September 5, 2011

Return to Witch Girls Adventures

My kids have been playing a lot of Wizard 101 over the weekend.  Of course like a good dad I investigated the game first.  It has really gotten me in the mood to run some Witch Girls Adventures with them.
I would let them play their characters in the computer game but I'd need to alter some things.  There are a bunch of schools in W101 that would need moved over to WGA, but that is easy.

I think it will be fun.
Updates soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

13 Magazine for WGA

Just in time for Friday the 13th comes the newest supplement for Witch Girls Adventures.

13 Magazine

This is a fun little product.
Designed to be a magazine for young witches in the WGA world, it looks like any number of tween and teen mags that talk about fashion, boys and school. 13 is no different except the advice section deals with how to deal with your vampire boyfriend to a bunch of new spells no young witch should be without. IT looks like there will be regular features such as Aimee the Alchemist, Cryptid Database, advice from Denora the "Wicked Witch of the West Coast" and dating advice from Desdemond. Everything is presented with a little sidebar of notes for the Director of a WGA game on how to use.
I particularly liked the "First Jobs" article which dealt with baby sitting, but provided material to play or run younger witches than the core book had.

The layout is really good, full color and looking like a glossy fashion magazine. There are a few typos I noticed, but nothing that distracted me from the text or the fun.

If you like Witch Girls Adventures (and I do), then this is a good buy.
5 out of 5 stars

Again, I am inordinately fond of this game so anything new for it is great in my mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

School Bites as a Witch Girls setting

I have been a long time fan of Eerie Cuties a web comic featuring high school age vampires, witches, a succubus and other fantasy/horror creatures.  I have mentioned Eerie Cuties in the past and in particular Chole the Succubus. At the time I thought EC would make for a great alternate setting for Witch Girls Adventures.  I still think that in fact and will try to stat up a few of the characters this week.

One of the comics that is advertised on the EC page is School Bites.  I have read it a few times and enjoyed it.  Well I have been doing my research on Tarot Witch of the Black Rose and it dawned on me then that the Holly G of Tarot was the same as the Holly G of School Bites.  I suppose all the Tarot ads should have been a giveaway.  

So School Bites is about Cherri Creeper a new vampire and the vampire school she now attends. There is a lot going on in the comic that make it great material for a game.  New powers, a rival gang coven of vampires and of course plenty of teen angst issues.  It's funny, witty and certainly PG-13 with some of the drawings and innuendo. Of course that is also a great description of Witch Girls Adventures, except swap out witches for vampires.

While I did read through all the comics, there are not a lot of powers demonstrated yet.  Which is kind of the point, they have some powers they just don't know how they all work yet and don't have the rest.

But I can make some guesses.

Cherri Creeper (former name Charlotte Webb)
Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d6
Will: d4
Social: d6
Magic: d6

Life Points: 12   Reflex: 9
Resist magic: 9  Zap Points: 12
Skills:  Acrobatics 1, Art 2, Basics 2, Fib 2, Hear 2, Plucky 2, Streetwise 2, Urchin 2
Cryptozoology 2, Mysticism 1

Traits: Friendly,  Urban, Vampire

18 year old Charlotte Webb was living on her own in New York attending art school.  That is till one night (Halloween to be exact) that she was attacked by vampire Dante Le Bon.  Now a new vampire and loving her unlife Cherri (as she is now known) is learning what it is to be a vampire.
She has some new good friends, a fuzzy bat, some cool new teachers and wings (that she doest quite know how to use yet).  Of course there are problems.  There is this guy she likes, but he is human, and Le Bon now knows of her and wants her back for his coven.

There are more characters including a vampire cat girl, a vampire cheerleader, a nosfeatu prince and a vegan wicca vampire.  It's like chibi-animie World of Darkness.

It's fun stuff and I am looking forward to seeing some more.  I'd like to see some of the world myths explored some more and how exactly a cat-girl vampire came to be.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: Still Sucks to Be Me

Kim Pauley is back and so is new vampire Mina Hamilton Smith in the new (as in as of today new) book "Still Sucks to Be Me".

This book is of course a sequel to her Freshman attempt, Sucks to be Me. StbM was a great book. It surprised me how quickly the characters grabbed me and how I wanted to know all about them. You can read my review (linked) and then read this one. This review will assume that you have read StbM, so if you haven't then here there be spoilers….

Ready? Great.
Ok "Still Sucks" starts off not too long after Mina's conversion and her "funeral". No. She did not get to go. So deaths faked, names changed the Vampire Council relocates them to Louisiana. Not somewhere cool like New Orleans or even Bon Temps, no they end up in a one-stoplight town so Mina's dad (now called her brother) can study with this ancient vampire historian. Very nice for him, terrible for Mina.

Mina discovers that vampire powers not withstanding she is now, again, an outsider at her new school. Sure she is the "New Girl from California" but that doesn't help when the local school jock takes and interest in her and not in the girl that wants him.

Kim Pauley does a great job of juxtaposing Mina-as-a-vampire with Mina-as-a-teenager-in-a-new-school very well. Yes, Mina can easily overpower or glamour anyone in the school to get what she wants, and she knows it, but she doesn't. Of course life is made more difficult by the arrival of Cameron, a new vampire who is cute and smells nice, who may or may not be a Black Talon. Plus she has not heard from her best friend Serena (with whom she broke like a zillion laws to keep in contact with) or her boy-friend George since getting to Nowhere, LA. Yeah. Life, or Unlife can suck like that.

Kim gives us another great tale that in many ways mirrors the first. In the first book Mina's school life was finally going good and it was her vampire life that needed all the work. No her vampire life unlife is going as well as can be expected (she is even learning to glamour and shape-change) her school life is a chaotic mess.

What I liked most about this book was the ending. It was a reminder that we are dealing with vampires here. Not sparkly guys with bad orthodontic work that talk about their feelings all night, but some pretty nasty characters that not only can, but want to kill people. I'd love to see Kim try her hand, even if for a short story, something a bit darker. I bet she would do well.

Now there are a few caveats here. Yes, this book is aimed at the Young Adult crowd and my blog isn't. So if you pick up this book (and I would like it if you did) then keep that in mind. There is a lot of "Teen Girl Angst" here, but not as much as you might suspect given it is about teen girls and teen vampires. There is angst, but a lot of it is not the "my life is miserable teenage sort but of the "OMG this crazy chick is trying to kill my best friend!" sort.

I don't know if there are future books in store, but I hope so. I'd like to see how a college bound Mina reacts to situations. Or maybe she could tour Europe or something. Either way I can see a lot of adventure ahead for Mina and her friends.

Like I said of her first book, this is a good, well-written book with characters that a likable that relatable. I liked the new aspect to Mina's parents' lives unlives. I did miss seeing more of Uncle Mortie, but hey, it's not his book. The Black Talons were interesting, what little we got to learn of them and so were the Carters.

Using Mina in your Games

Of course it is very tempting to use Mina in a game. And since I tend to give in to temptation, here we go!

Cinematic Unisystem (Ghosts of Albion/Angel/Buffy)

Mina Smith (Apprentice level in Ghosts of Albion)
Life Points 44
Drama Points 15

Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Constitution 4
Intelligence 3
Perception 5
Willpower 4

Attractiveness +1
Hard to Kill 2
Fast Reaction Time
Situational Awareness
Vampire (Ghosts of Albion type)
- Glamour (note: this is shape shift ability from the book) 1
- Mesmerize (note: this is the glamour ability from the book) 1
- Sunlight Immunity (part of the Vampire package in this world. They do not burn up, but it is uncomfortable and they try to avoid it.)

Adversary (Black Talons, anti-vampire groups)
Honorable 1
Love (George?)
Teenager (from Buffy/Angel)

Useful Information
Actions 1
Perception 1d10 + 8

Acrobatics 2
Art (writing) 2
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 1
Influence 2
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 1
Languages 1 (English)
Notice 3
Occultism 3
Science 1
Sports 1

Witch Girls Adventures
Mina Smith, Vampire
Rank: 2

Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d6
Will: d6 Social: d6 Magic: d8

Life Points: 12 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 11 Zap Points: 16

Skills: Athletics +2, Basics +2, Fighting +1, Hear +2, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +1, Mythology +1, Streetwise +2

Abilities: Brave, Friendly
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Zatanna, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

Note: Continuing my posting on DC Comics and Mutants & Masterminds this week.  If you want to know why then read this; Green Ronin to do DC.

Like many my first comics were DC Comics. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman defined "super hero" to me. And like many people I moved on to Marvel Comics, to Spiderman and the X-Men, and then later still to the independents (Witchblade and the like). While I was never a huge reader of comics as a kid (I read them more now than I ever did then) I always gravitated to the more mystical or horror elements of the comic book world. Tomb of Dracula and Doctor Strange is what really got me into Marvel, along with Ghost Rider and for a while I equated that with why I thought Marvel was "better". I came back to DC when the "Bat Craze" of the 90's broke out. That and the death of Superman made me look at something I thought I knew well in a new light. To my surprise I discovered something. I just liked DC Comics better. Sure I still like Doctor Strange, but when someone says "Master of Magic" I don't think of Doctors Strange or Fate, but rather a Mistress of Magic, Zatanna.

Ok, this really should be a no brainer. I love witches, we all know that. But Zatanna has something that some of the other magic wielding types don't have; a pedigree. Her father was a stage magician of the Golden Age comics, Giovanni "John" Zatara. Her mother is a member of a magical race that resembles what passes in some horror fiction as a "witch" race (ala Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong or Witch Girls Adventures) or the "Gifted" (WitchCraft RPG). So Zatanna comes from two distinct lines of magical use and she combines them. Of course her father was doing his thing in the 1930s and "Zee" herself appears in comics in the mid 1960s so she is by most rights in her 60's but still looks great in fishnets. Well that is no big deal, since the same fictions that separate out witches into their own race also have them long lived. So at 60 Zee probably still looks like she is in her 30s. But I never "got" Zatanna till I read the "Hellblazer" and "Books of Magic" comics and read about her relationship with John Constantine. I felt that this gave her a more interesting background, plus it should that Zee was willing to try multiple paths to magical enlightenment (including "black" magic and even Tantra with Constantine). Of course there is also the whole deal with her magical lobotomy of Dr. Light in "Identity Crisis", a comic that was good for Zatanna's character but I mostly disliked.

I am not going to go into detail about her life, history, her interesting sex life, or her smoking pot with Constantine on his 40th birthday, since that can all be found in other places on the web.  But it's all pretty cool for a superhero.

And normally I would convert her to a bunch of my favorite systems, but Paul Dini and I are not alone in our obsessions (ok, Paul Dini is several orders of magnitude above me in this one), and others have already done that for me.

Thom Marrion did a great Cinematic Unisystem / Ghosts of Albion version,

A bunch great ones over at the Atomic Think Tank for Mutants and Masterminds, Baron's, Batgirl's, Jabronville's, Narsil's, Pamela Isley's, and MDSnowman's.

But I think I want to do something different. How about a teenaged Zatanna, just getting started out in the magic biz. Ok, so not all that different, but it could make some fun stories.

So here is Zee for Witch Girls Adventures. This is Zee after she left her formal schooling or just about ready to graduate. In a WGA style school she would have really had it tough as most of the girls would have focused on her human father the stage magician and ignored that fact that her mother was a really powerful witch. Though they would not have done that for very long.

Zattana Zatarra

Witch Sorceress
 Age: 17

Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d8
Will: d8
Social: d6 +1
Magic: d10

Life Points: 12
Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 13
Zap Points: 20

Skills (Rank)
Acting d6
Basics d4 

Hear d4
Look d6

Casting d6
Focus d4 (needs to talk backwards to achieve this)
Magical Etiquette d4
Mysticism d6

Beautiful, Entertainer (+1 to rolls)

Legacy (mother was the powerful witch Sindella, father John Zatarra has witch-blood and was a stage magician).

Alteration 5 (4 +1)
Conjuration 3
Curse 2
Divination 2
Illusion 3
Mentalism 2 (later will be at Rank 6 here)
Offense 1
Protection 1

Signature Spell - Forget

Crystal Ball (+1 to Scry)

Misty Lee, aka Mrs. Paul Dini, aka the real life Zatanna,
Toyriffic on the JLU Animated figure.

The Zatanna pic at the very top was made by Mach Sabre.  You can find his Deviant Art page here: and his co-effort, the awesome Shadow Girls comic here:  Not sure why there is a lobster in her hat though.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Campaign ideas, or lack thereof...

Ever see and image and think to yourself, "man there is story and an adventure there!"

Well one day I am going to have to come up with a good adventure for either Buffy or Witch Girls Adventures for this image:

"One day, years before either would move to Sunnydale, Tara and her best friend Faith were at McDonalds."

Despite my fondness for both characters nothing is coming to mind.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vampyres: Witch Girls Adventures

Witch Girls Adventures

This one is a bit harder, not so much due to the system, but rather the subject matter. One doesn’t typically merge “Magic School Girls” with “Lesbian Vampire kill fest” unless this is Cinemax late night. But it be can made to work especially if the Director needs up the ante on a particular plot.

Using Mayfair’s, tone down the “strip club” aspect of it and make it more openly a nightclub for supernaturals, a very dangerous one at that. The stars have to go to Mayfair’s because they believe they will get information they need. Maybe some of the other students have gone missing and this was the last place they were seen. Suspicion can obviously fall on Fran and Miriam, but I think it is more interesting if the they are not involved directly but do know of someone who is. WGA has vampires and in their magical world vampires and witches can make for good adversaries or allies. Fran and Miriam can be reoccurring “guest stars” that have information that the stars will need every so often. Of course the teachers and headmistress of the star’s school has complete forbidden them from ever going to Mayfair’s, we all know how well that one works out.

I am not saying here to make Fran and Miriam into “sparkly vampires” or even into “good guys”, but certainly they should have their own agendas and killing the stars and drinking their blood might not be one of them. That’s what I wrote Elizabeth Bathory up for. Fran and Miriam are dangerous yes, but their role is more of the information broker, the devil that can give you information but at an unsure price. I am sure Fran would love to hire a couple of the stars, once they are older and have “grown-up” a bit and she would not be too amiss to mentioning this. Miriam might take this the wrong way of course and that can lead to all sorts of other problems.

Fran, Vampire
Rank: 4
Body: d8 Mind: d6 Senses: d8
Will: d10 Social: d10 Magic: d6
Life Points: 16 Reflex: 11
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12

Skills: Acting +2, Athletics +3, Basics +2, Dancing +2, Fighting +1, Gossip +3, Hear +1, Leader +3, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +2, Mythology +4, Streetwise +5

Abilities: Beautiful, Mysterious
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities

Miriam, Vampire
Rank: 4
Body: d10 Mind: d6 Senses: d10
Will: d10 Social: d10 Magic: d6
Life Points: 20 Reflex: 13
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12

Skills: Acting +3, Athletics +3, Basics +2, Dancing +3, Fighting +2, Gossip +1, Hear +1, Leader +1, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +1, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +2, Mythology +4, Streetwise +5

Abilities: Beautiful, Jaded
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 2

Continuing on with my tribute to the Succubus (or is that obsession?) here is some crunch.

Succubae for Ghosts of Albion (Cinematic Unisystem)

Succubae are demons that seduce men and feed off of their base desires and life force.
She can drain 1 Point of CON each night she visits, but must grapple awake opponents or visit them when sleeping.
The succubus can learn magic, but most often they do not.

Creature Type: Succubus (Demon)
Attributes: Str 3, Dex 5, Con 5, Int 4, Per 3, Will 6
Ability Scores: Muscle 12, Combat 13, Brains 15
Life Points: 45
Drama Points: 2

Powers: Glamour; Constitution Drain (1 CON point per visit); Flight; Insubstantial Form;
Qualities: Attractive 4; Hard to Kill; Innate Magic; Resistance (Fire, Poison; Mind Control); Telepathy; Charming Voice
Drawbacks: Lecherous; Covetous; Inhuman Form

Name;  Score; Damage; Notes
Bite;  13; 5;  Must grapple first; no defence action
Claw;  13; 8;  Two attacks per Turn
Grapple; 13; —;  Resisted by dodge
Kiss/Embrace; *; 1 CON point; Must Grapple first

Spellcasting 15 Varies By spell
Deflect 15 — Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º

Bat Winged Bimbo (Buffy and Angel, Cinematic Unisystem)
4-Point Quality
(Trying to do my best "Buffy-style" here)
Bat wing bimbos are demons, but don’t hold it against them. Sure they are as evil as their bigger sister the Succubi, but a girl has to make a living too. Like so many that leave their homes and end up in Southern California, the BWB has learned to do some things she never thought she would ever do to earn a buck.
Often times when not looking for a soul to steal, these catty little demons can be found fighting amongst themselves, avoiding over zealous demon hunters, or trying to get a real movie deal because they know they are a star and they hope no one will look into their pasts.

Being a Bat-Winged Bimbo gives you the following:
- 3 Levels of Attractive. We all know that evil always looks better.
- 3 levels of Hard To Kill. Living in a Hell hole makes you a bit tougher, living in Hell itself turns you into a hard ass bitch.
- Asbestos Soul. BWB gain a +1 Resistance to pain from fire and heat. BWB treat fire damage as regular damage (no extra damage each turn).
- Those cute horns count as a natural weapon, doing 1-2 points of damage per hit. (+1)
- Those sexy wings provide flight at the same movement rate as running. (+1)
- Gossipy. BWB bimbos tend to be a chatty, gossipy lot. Sure 99% of it is about manicures for wing talons and how to snag a good (evil?) demon lord, but some it useful. They get a +2 to their Occultism skill (the Things Man Was Not Meant to Know are fine for women it seems).
But this comes with a fair amount of drawbacks too.
Bat-Wing Bimbos have a host of mental and emotional problems. They are mean spirited (literally), petty, and vindictive not to mention lecherous little harpies. In game terms this equates to Cruel 1, Covetous (Greedy) 1, Covetous (Lecherous) 1.
Those large wings and horns might be totally hot, but you could never take her home to mom (unless of course mom was into that kinky stuff). This is worth Supernatural Form (definitely not human).

Bat Winged Bimbos as Characters
BWB can be a useful part of an otherwise upstanding and moral party of demon hunters. Slayers hate them, but those scrawny little bitches are just jealous. The biggest issue of course is how to hide those wings, horns and tail. Faerie Glamours or other illusion magics will hide their natural form from the mundane, but anyone that can see magic will see through that disguise to what she really looks like.

Bat Winged Bimbos were created to be something like a "lesser Succubus", akin to the old D&D Alu-Demon.  These were obviously inspired by the the same creatures in Macho Women with Guns.
If you go with my alternate take on Slayers from Every Angel is Terrifying then Succubi, Lilim and Slayers are all related.

Witch Girls Adventures
Malcolm Harris, the author of Witch Girls Adventures mentions that there are no demons in the Witch Girls universe, but there are spirits called "Hates".  It is actually kind of a neat concept.  If there are hate spirits then certainly there can be other deadly sins, such as lust spirits.  Alternately there could also be a type of vampire that feeds on emotions rather than blood.  The ones that feed on the more amorous emotions (lust, love) could be called Succubi.  In this sense they are more similar to the WitchCraft RPG Vampyre subtype.

A succubus in WGA should probably be something like Chloe Love from the Eerie Cuties webcomic.

Rank: 3
Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d8
Will: d8 Social: d8 Magic: d6
Life Points: 12 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 9 Zap Points: 12
Skills: Athletics +2, Basics +2, Dancing +4, Fighting +1, Hear +1, Leader +3, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +3, Mysticism +2, *Mythology +4, Streetwise +3
Abilities: Beautiful, Mysterious
Heritage: Demon / Lust Spirit / Vampire
Spells: Succubi have access to all the Charm type spells in the WGA core.

Cortex is a system I have talked about off and on.  It is one I like, just not one I get to play a lot of.
Succubi would work well in Cortex since the characters tend to skew more normal than say Buffy or Ghosts of Albion.  A single Succubi with a good plan should be more than a match for a group of heroes.
For example imagine the havoc a succubus could do to the investigators in a Supernatural game.

Succubus (Base)
Agi d10 Str d6 Vit d10
Ale d12 Int d8 Wil d12

Init d10 + d12
LP 22
Endurance d10 + d12
Resistance d10 + d10

Allure d10, Amorous d8, Enhanced Communication d6, Enhanced Senses d6, Immunity d12, Inherent Weapon (claws) d2, Sharp Senses d6

Skills Athletics d4/Acrobatics d6, Influence d4, Knowledge d8/Occultism d12, Melee Weapons d4, Perception d6, Unarmed Combat d6

Attacks: The Succubus drains life force from her victims. She either does this while the victm is sleeping, in her embrace, or if she has grappled the victim. Once she has a victim in her embrace she will drain for a number of turns equal to a third the maximum result of the victim’s Vitality Attribute. She will return to the victim two more times, draining the remaining third each time till the victim dies.

Spellcraft & Swordplay
Succubi are set to appear in the upcoming Spellcraft & Swordplay supplement Eldritch Witchery, as soon as I finish writing it.  Among other things, EW will also feature Demons and Devils.  Succubi are the daughters of the Queen of Demons.


#App: 1
AC: 7
Move: 90' / Fly: 120'
HD: 6 (25)
Attacks: Claw/Claw/Special (2 dagger-2)
Special: Fly 120', Energy Drain (kiss), Darkvision, Dominate, Magic Resistance (fire), Immune to mundane weapons
Treasure: 6
XP: 345

These female demons are not found in great numbers and never working together.  They claim to be the daughters of the Demon Queen, but this is a claim the Demon Queen herself neither supports nor denies.  In any case these demons, while not physically very powerful, are capable of controlling other demons that are far more powerful.  Succbi are charged with the tempting of mortals, a task they relish in.  They appear as unearthly beautiful women (or men if needed), in their true form they stand 6' high and feature small horns, a tail and large bat-like wings growing from their backs.
A Succubus can cause Darkness 5', have Darkvision, can Dominate any one (1) PC and can become Incorporeal at will.  The Succubi lures her victim into acts of passion and drains their life force with a kiss.  This Energy Drain takes 1 life level/hit dice.  She can also use the following spells as a Witch (wizard) of 6th level, Charm Person, Detect Good, Continual Flame, ESP, Clairaudience, Hold Person, and Polymorph Self. Succubi also have Spell Resistance against fire based magic.  If pressed they can attack with two claw attacks (dagger -2), if each attack succeeds then she can also grapple for her energy drain attack/kiss.
A succubus can gate in another demon (expect another succubus) ... details in Eldritch Witchery.

Last Thoughts
Regardless of the game Succubi should be given the same attention that one would give a vampire in a horror game; that is treat it like a special NPC and build her as a character. Most demons can be part of the mindless hordes you send after the characters, and in most cases this is the appropriate thing to do.  Succubi though, since they tend to work alone and are very specialized in their hunts, should be built to suit. A succubus designed to go after William Swift in Ghosts of Albion should be different than the one sent after Dean Winchester in Supernatural.

Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 1
Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 3
Sympathy for the Succubus, Part 4

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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Prince Mamuwalde for Witch Girls Adventures

I introduced Mamuwalde for the Unisystem game systems (Ghosts of Albion, Buffy, Angel), but in truth, he works great for nearly any system that is modern horror. 

Given that Dracula is set up as a potential threat to the students of Willow-Misst School I think adding Mamuwlade to Witch Girls Adventures is a great idea. He can work as an antagonist. The girl's favorite teacher is on cloud nine after meeting this suave handsome royal prince and all he can think of is her. Of course the prince is Mamuwalde and the teacher in question is the reincarnation of his bride Luva. Trouble is only the Stars can see him as a dangerous vampire, their teacher is too far gone.

Or even as an ally. Maybe after he is defeated in the above scenario the cast forgets him till they have to battle Vlad Dracula. They discover that Vlad had another great enemy not named Van Helsing. Can the Stars convince the Prince to fight the Count for them? Could you imagine that clash of the titans? Two vampire lords fighting to the death and knowing the fate of the school rests on who wins?

Lots of potential here for drama.

Prince Mamuwalde
Rank: 5
Age: 230 (as a vampire)
Location: Currently lives in Los Angeles, has homes in New York and New Orleans
Motivation: Find Luva

Body: d12
Mind: d8
Senses: d10
Will: d10
Social: d12
Magic: d10

Life Points: 24
Reflex: 15
Resist Magic: 13
Zap Points: 20

Skills: Athletics +5, Basics +8, Fighting +8, Mythology +8, Hear +6, Leader +4, Look +8, Track +5, Mundane Etiquette +8, Mysticism +7
Traits: Gloomy, Warrior, Vampire

Hypnosis: Mamuwalde can hypnotize others whom he can best in a Will die vs. Will die roll. If Mamuwalde wins, that person is under his power for 24 hours.'

Magic Immunity: Mamuwalde is immune to Alteration, Mentalism and Necromancy type magics.
Shape Shift: Mamuwalde can become a bat or wolf at will.

Special Immortality: Mamuwalde had been cursed by Dracula to live forever, but a Voodoo curse in early 70's made this true. Now Mamuwalde can be killed by anything that can kill a vampire, but he returns from the dead after 3 days. He can only be truly killed if he finds the inner peace he seeks with being reunited with his love Luva.

Bite: 10 damage and drains a person of all Life and Zap points.
Claws: 9

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My first new Game of 2010: BASH

Well had my regular GM and his family over the other night for New Year's Eve and I was introduced to BASH, Basic Action Super Heroes. It is a simple supers RPG that I am sure I am going to be playing more of in the near future. But what has impressed me the most are the number of conversions that the BASH fan community has already put together. I converted one of my M&M characters over to BASH fairly quickly. I have another character I am working on now that started out in BESM 3.0, re-done in M&M (as PL 5), then converted over to Marvel Super Heroes. It will be interesting to see if the BASH conversion goes over well.

The system is really simple, a good thing these days, and looks easy to learn. I also looks pretty flexible too. There are BASH Fantasy and BASH Sci-Fi games too, which I will need to check out.

Like most Supers games, well pretty much every game, I look at the magic first. So far the powers look very Champions or Mutants & Masterminds like, i.e. I choose the "Blast" power and call it "Arcane Blast". I plan to look at Fantasy BASH for more classical, ritualized spellcasting. Given my GM's preferences, I also expect we will be diving into Sci-Fi BASH at some point this year as well.
Since that seems to be the thing to do I'll post some conversions for BASH myself, after I have read it a bit more.

Other games I want to play in 2010:
  • D&D 3.x (running) – I want to finish up my oldest son's campaign to defeat Tiamat. The characters in this game will the mytho-historical figures of our next, 4e game.
  • D&D 4e (playing) – I have at least four 1st to 2nd level characters that I have started on various games and I want them to progress.
  • Doctor Who (running or playing) – I am going to convert my Ghosts of Albion adventure "Obsession" over to Doctor Who. Fitting really since one of its inspirations was the 4th Doctor's "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". I thought about doing it for Victoriana, but part of plot is somewhat contradictory in a world where everyone knows magic is real.
  • Witch Girls Adventures (running or playing) – I have a few things I am working on for myself that look like they would be a lot of fun.
Otherwise here is to some good gaming in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best (and Worst) of 2009

Normally I avoid these thing, since they are nothing but subjective opinion at best and ego-wanking at worst. But 2009 was a good year for RPGs and RPG fandom and I wanted to share my thoughts on that. So yeah. Ego-wanking.

Best RPG of 2009: Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space

An easy call really. The system is simple, the art and layout are the new high watermark for RPGs and it comes in a box with dice! In a year all about Retro- and Old School gaming, this is very cool. Of course Doctor Who and RPGs have had a long history together, even outside of the FASA game. Many of us became Who fans and gamers at the same time. Playing AD&D and watching Doctor Who on PBS was close to a geek universal for the early 80's. The new Who game is very much a product of this time. Newer easy to use mechanics, slick presentation and top notch design and layout. Course with the premise behind Who, time and space travel, then nearly anything can be played. Though I am hesitant to put outright magic in my Who game.
I hope to have more to say about this game in 2010.

Honorable Mention: Best RPG, Witch Girls Adventures
Prior to Doctor Who coming out, this was my favorite new game of 2009. There is a lot to like about WGA. Whatever I can't (or won't) do with Who I can do with this game. It has a great little magic system that you can port over to Savage Worlds or Cortex (both in a dire need of a good magic system), You can play a Harry Potter like game, or it can be played as is. I have blogged a quite bit out it already this year as you can see here.

Best Blogs
2009 was a year I stepped up my own blogging and was reading others. Some of the best were Hero Press for a solid rundown of a little bit of everything in fandom. Grognardia for EVERYTHING related to old school gaming, not just retro-clones mind you, but the genuine articles. Others worthy of note are Geek Othodox for a run down all sorts of geek culture related items such Mexican bootleg action figures. Playing D&D With Porn Stars which has to have the best name of a blog ever. Space: 1970 dedicated to all things Sci-fi from the 70's (and sometimes early 80's). And finally, Lair of the evil DM, which lives up to its claim as "Maxim Magazine for Gamers", which I think has shown more porn stars than PD&DWPS has.
I am sure there are others that are great as well, so if you have a blog and are reading mine, please feel free post a free advertisement here.

Year of the Retro-Clones
Spent a good part of this year playing, reading and working on retro-clones. My favorite was Spellcraft & Swordplay, a nice little take on OD&D with the original combat system in place and not the "alternate" d20 resolution that became the defacto means in later years. Other great ones were Basic Fantasy and Labyrinth Lord, two takes on Basic D&D. I also was able to get myself a Christmas present last year and got a near mint D&D Rules Cyclopedia, so it was a good year for playing like it was 1981. All my posts regarding all the Retro Clone posts can be seen here. It was a good year for Retro Clones, I hope that 2010 proves to be as good.

The Worst: Outlaw Press
2009 also had it's share of "worsts" too. The worse of the worse had to be the massive theft of content by Outlaw Press, summarized here. It now seems that Outlaw Press is offline. It's website is down, there are no products on Amazon or Lulu. While I hate to see a small RPG company go out of business, Outlaw brought this all on themselves. I do hope that the artists that had their material stolen will get some satisfaction, but I am sure this will be pyrrhic victory at best.

Edition Wars
2009 opened with the latest round of Edtion Wars, namely 4th Ed D&D vs. Everything else. I am happy to say that save for some minor skirmishes this war is over. 2009 gave us more ways to play "D&D" than ever before. We had D&D 4th Ed, the new Pathfinder RPG (aka D&D 3.6), and all the Retro-clones, if there was a game you wanted to play chances are very good it was out there somewhere.

Games Not Published

In 2009 we still did not see publications of Ghosts of Albion or Chill. 

Looking forward to 2010
Looks like I am going to get some more Who gaming in and that is good. Going to try converting some of my Ghosts of Albion material to other systems instead of letting it languish on my hard drive.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Hex Girls

We're the Hex Girls!
And we're gonna put a spell on you.

- The Hex Girls Hex Girl

So I had this idea. I was washing dishes and thought that we need a sequel to Scooby Doo. My boys had just watched Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost and it featured a goth girl band called The Hex Girls. They later showed up in another Scooby Doo movie, Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire and again in the Whats New, Scooby Doo? series episode The Revenge of the Vampire.

So lets take the original premise of Scooby Doo, a group of kids that solve mysteries but are also in a rock band. The end of The Witch's Ghost even pay homage to this with the Scooby gang playing backup for the Hex Girls. The members are playing the instruments they were going to originally play back in '69. Scooby is even on the bongos like the original concept.

Flip the concept a bit; the supernatural is real, but no one believes in it. Throw in the Hex Girls and faster that you can say spin off I had an idea for a new series.

The Hex Girls Animated Series

The basic premise is simple. The Hex Girls (Thorn, Luna and Dusk) are a group of young musicians touring America (Series 1) and then the World (Series 2). Secretly though they are all witches. Not very powerful ones yet, but they do have the talent. Given the laws of cartoon and RPG universes, every town they have a gig in something weird is going on. So in the 22 minutes they have they need to discover what is going on, put a stop to what ever supernatural problem is happening, work together while doing it, and still be on stage for their show that night. All the while keeping their Manager Jasper Ridgeway happy and avoiding paparazzi photographer/occult conspiracy theorist Flash Cameron.

Think of it as Supernatural or Charmed for kids. Since there is a wealth of popular culture to draw from starting with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew all the way up to Ben 10 and W.I.T.C.H. coming up with episodes ideas is easy AND it works as a good way to bring kids into roleplaying.

The trick though is to keep this from turning into a newer version of Josie and the Pussycats. Or worse. A Goth version of JEM.

History of the Band

The Hex Girls were a local goth band formed by Thorn (aka Sally McKnight) and Luna (aka Kim Moss) in their hometown of Oakhaven, MA; the same hometown as horror/mystery author Ben Ravenscroft was from (and where the Hex Girls and the Scooby Gang defeated him and the ghost of his long dead ancestor Sarah Ravenscroft). It was here when Thorn first discovered her magical abilities. Luna and drummer Dusk, later discovered their powers returning from a video shoot in Transylvania.

Sally and Kim were friends in high school, both being artsy goth chicks. Dusk (she has never given out her real name, yet) is a couple years younger and was attending the local private academy when she auditioned for the band. She showed up in her school uniform, black lipstick and fingernails, sat down at the kit and blew everyone away. When asked about her past experience on drums, she admitted she never played before in her life but had practice in beating people up.

After winning the Unsigned Bands contest at Vampire Rock in Australia, the band was signed up by Warner Bros. and picked up manager Jasper Ridgeway.


Thorn (Sally McKnight)
22 (voiced by Jennifer Hale, who was on Charmed once)

Sally is the leader of the group, she plays lead guitar and lead vocals. She was also the first to have her powers manifest themselves. She is the groups defacto Occult Scholar, having her Great-Great Grandmother's spell book and a natural curiosity of all things occult and supernatural.

Thorn writes the bands more pro-activist songs like Earth, Wind, Fire and Air. She describes her self as a Wiccan and an Eco-Goth. She is very vocal about her points of view and belongs to many Pro-Earth, Pro-Animal, anti-pollution organizations. Since discovering her magic at the end of The Witch's Ghost she has also been very interested in her own family's legacy of magic. She knows her mother did not have the gift and she is sure her grandmother didnt but she wants to know more about her great-grandmother and her great-great-grandmother. Some episodes even deal with Thorn looking into her own past. She is usually the first to want to investigate the creepy house or the haunted graveyard or schedule her concerts around her horoscope.

Name: Thorn (Unisystem)
Motivation: To discover her family's magical secrets; to make some great music
Creature Type: Human witch
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Constitution 3, Intelligence 3, Perception 3, Willpower 4
Abilities: Muscle 10, Combat 10, Brains 12
Life Points: 30
Drama Points: 20
Qualities and Drawbacks: Artist (Musician), Attractive +2, Contacts (Supernatural) +1, Magic +2, Occultism 4.

Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 10 - Defense action
Grapple 12 - Resisted by Dodge
Punch 10 6 Bash
Kick 9 7
Magic 10 By Spell

Name: Thorn (Witch Girls Adventures)
Witch Outsider/Gothique
Body: d4
Mind: d6
Senses: d6
Will: d8
Social: d8
Magic: d10

Acting +1, Art +3, Basics +1, Dancing +2, Hear +1, Instrument +5, Leader +1, Pop Culture +2, Singing +6
Casting +2, Enchantment +1, Focus +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mysticism +2

Talents: Calm, Entertainer (+1)
Heritage: Legacy

Luna (Kim Moss)
23 (voiced by Kimberly Brooks)

Kim claims her mother was descended from African slaves as they escaped New Orleans and brought their Voodoo with them to Massachusetts and that her father is descended from a long line of members of the secret Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Her parents are actually an elementary school teacher and an orthodontist respectively, but they encourage their daughter's stage persona. Her father even made the artificial, but very real looking, fangs they wear on stage.

Luna plays keyboards, bass, rhythm guitar and writes most of the music and lyrics for the group. She is also the bands best spell writer and has been experimenting with spells that can be played on instruments and spells that are sung. She formed the Hex Girls with Thorn when they were in Art School together. She is a walking encyclopedia of musical knowledge. Everything from Rock, to Rap to Reggae to Classical to Jazz and Country.

Also, Luna has a number 1 single. She did a cover track of Almost Paradise with then-boyfriend Matt Martigan (from "Legend of the Vampire"). This causes her a bit of embarrassment in interviews since the track was never supposed to be released.
One thing she is not embarrassed about is her mixed racial heritage. In interviews she has taken some jabs for her stage make-up, some interviewers even going as far to suggest that she is trying to pretend to be white. She usually responds with I am trying to pretend to be undead! Dusk has pointed out, much to Luna's chagrin, that Luna's dad is, in fact, white and an orthodontist; the whitest job on the planet.

Name: Luna (Unisystem)
Motivation: To have a number one band.
Creature Type: Human witch
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 4, Constitution 3, Intelligence 4, Perception 3, Willpower 5
Abilities: Muscle 10, Combat 10, Brains 14
Life Points: 30
Drama Points: 20
Qualities and Drawbacks: Artist (Musician), Attractive +2, Contacts (Supernatural) +1, Magic +1, Occultism 3.
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 10 - Defense action
Grapple 12 - Resisted by Dodge
Punch 10 6 Bash
Kick 9 7
Magic 9 By Spell

Name: Luna (Witch Girls Adventures)
Witch Outsider/Gothique
Body: d6
Mind: d8
Senses: d8
Will: d10+1
Social: d6
Magic: d8

Acting +1, Art +3, Basics +2, Dancing +1, Hear +2, Instrument +6, Mythology +1, Pop Culture +2, Singing +5
Casting +2, Enchantment +2, Focus +3, Magic Etiquette +1, Mysticism +1

Talents: Entertainer (+1), Unshakable
Heritage: Legacy

Dusk (real name unknown)
19 (voiced by Jane Wiedlin, of the Go-Gos)

When their first drummer decided to go to college out of state the Hex Girls held an open audition at their art school for a drummer. Expecting to get other like minded college-age girls to apply they were shocked when 16 year old Dusk walked in. She was still wearing her private school uniform (she had just dropped out or was kicked out depending on who you ask), her hair was dyed three different colors and she was wearing her now trademarked cross and goth makeup. She sat down at the drums and blew everyone away. After winning the audition they asked her how long she had been playing and she said it was her first time ever at a drum kit. Dusk, and she has never given anyone any other name, has the amazing knack to play any instrument she picks up perfectly by ear. She can't read music and says counting to 4 all the time is boring, but she plays the drums because she likes to hit things.

Dusk is the sarcastic party girl of the group. Despite being younger she has had more boyfriends than the other two girls combined. She has a temper and has threatened to quit the band more than once. She is also the most musically talented of the group, she just doesn't care about writing music. As she says "I'm not a musician, I'm a Rock-star."

Dusk does take over as lead singer for the only song she wrote, We Do Voodoo.

Name: Dusk (Unisystem)
Motivation: To have a great time
Creature Type: Human witch
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Constitution 4, Intelligence 3, Perception 3, Willpower 4
Abilities: Muscle 12, Combat 14, Brains 10
Life Points: 38
Drama Points: 20
Qualities and Drawbacks: Artist (Musician), Attractive +1, Magic +1 Occultism 3.
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 12 - Defense action
Grapple 14 - Resisted by Dodge
Punch 12 9 Bash
Kick 11 10
Magic 8 By Spell

Name: Dusk (Witch Girls Adventures)
Witch Outsider/Gothique
Body: d8
Mind: d6
Senses: d6
Will: d6
Social: d10
Magic: d8

Acting +1, Art +2, Basics +2, Fighting +1, Hear +3, Instrument +6, Plucky +2, Pop Culture +1, Singing +3, Urchin +2
Casting +2, Enchantment +2, Focus +3, Magic Etiquette +1, Mysticism +1

Talents: Entertainer (+1), Temper
Heritage: Legacy

Jasper Ridgeway, 63 (voiced by Jeff Bennett)

Jasper has nearly managed every great band there is. Nearly. He had a chance to manage the Beatles after the death of Brian Epstein. He nearly managed the Rolling Stones before Allan Klein took over. He passed on David Bowie saying that once Bowie dropped the Ziggy Stardust image his career would be over. Instead Jasper managed mediocre bands or great bands that just disappeared; His best band "Wildyinds" faked their own death while he was managing them and his other band "Bad Omens" just disappeared. So the fact Jasper landed the Hex Girls pretty much goes against more than 40 years of his previous behavior in the music business. Now Jasper has discovered what having a successful band really means. Work. He is their manager, bus driver, roadie, sound tech, and all around gopher for everything. Now that the girls are investigating the occult every week he also needs to come up with ways to help them there too.

Plus Jasper is a coward, though he would never admit it. Instead Jasper always has some medical reason why he cant help. Werewolves bother his allergies, haunted houses are too dusty and irritate his sensitive eyes, he can't crawl around in grave yards or sewers due to his sensitive skin. Whatever the situation, Jasper has a reason why he cant help them out. Of course Jasper also a thousand stories about other great bands. None of them involve him though, they were all told to him by other managers. They usually happened though while Jasper was nearby. For example he will talk about the time that he was at Montreux Casino the night it burned to the ground. He was not there with Frank Zappa or even Deep Purple, but rather demanding to get paid for his band that was supposed to be there the night before but had failed to show up.

Name: Jasper Ridgeway (Unisystem)
Motivation: To finally manage a great Rock and Roll band
Creature Type: Human
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 1, Constitution 2, Intelligence 4, Perception 5, Willpower 4
Abilities: Muscle 10, Combat 8, Brains 14
Life Points: 26
Drama Points: 20
Qualities and Drawbacks: Contacts (Music Business) +3, Emotional Problems (Coward).

Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 8 - Defense action
Grapple 10 - Resisted by Dodge
Punch 8 6 Bash

Name: Jasper Ridgeway (Witch Girls Adventures)
Mundane Human
Body: d4
Mind: d6
Senses: d8
Will: d8
Social: d10
Magic: d4 (no magical talents)

Basics +3, Drive +3, Fix-Mechanical +3, Gossip +2, Hear +4, Instrument +2, Mundane Etiquette +3, Plucky +1, Pop Culture +4, Streetwise +3

Talents: Entertainer (+1)

Flash Cameron,
26 (voiced by Jeremy Piven)
Flash is a notorious paparazzi photographer that normally sells his pictures to the highest bidder. He has no shame and no picture is too forbidden to him. He happily claims he was there for the fall of Brittney and Lindsey and he was carrying pictures of Baby Suri in his wallet long before anyone even knew the babys sex. Now Flash has his telescopic lens focused on the Hex Girls. Normally an up and coming band wouldn't get his attention, but Flash has seen the Hex Girls perform real magic and he is set on exposing them and the world of the supernatural. Used to a standard of living where one or two pictures would net him a few hundred thousand dollars a day, Flash is now reduced to living in cheap hotels while following the girls. He knows though that if he gets the pictures he knows he can get it will all be worth it.

The strain of the road and living alone is getting to him and now he keeps referring to himself in the third person.

Note: Flash is original though he is based on "Rock Rivers" from "Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy?" and "Cameron Flick" from "Scooby-Doo and the Stone Dragon"

Name: Flash (Unisystem)
Motivation: To get photographic proof of magic and the supernatural and make a ton of money for it.
Creature Type: Human
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 3, Constitution 3, Intelligence 3, Perception 5, Willpower 4
Abilities: Muscle 12, Combat 14, Brains 13
Life Points: 38
Drama Points: 15
Qualities and Drawbacks: Attractive +1, Contacts (Media) +3

Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 14 - Defense action
Grapple 16 - Resisted by Dodge
Punch 14 12 Bash

Name: Flash (Witch Girls Adventures)
Mundane Human
Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d10
Will: d8
Social: d8
Magic: d4 (no magical talents)

Art +4, Basics +2, Drive +4, Fix-Mechanical +3, Gossip +4, Mundane Etiquette +3, Plucky +2, Pop Culture +4, Streetwise +4

Talents: Brave

Episode Ideas

Typically the episodes will follow the same basic structure. The girls arrive in town, hear of some sort of supernatural disturbance, investigate, solve the mystery, be back in time for the concert. All the while avoiding various problems. The supernatural mysteries can include all the stock and trade ones: Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, rival Witches, Mummies from a museum, and so on. Take a Scooby Doo episode and work from the premise that the monster in not a fake but real.

Problems can include the following:
Thorn wanting to find out more about her family.
The girls lose their magic.
Wildwind shows up to a battle of the bands and they are using magic too.
Flash gets a picture of the girls using magic.
Dusks parents show up at a show! And they are stinking rich!
Of course, there are some standbys that were not used in Scooby Doo, but in other shows.
One of the girls falls in love with another musician who is a ghost by night!

Mix and match. The idea here is be simple and focus not so much on the plot or meta-plots or para-plots or whatever but on simple roleplaying fun. And a chance to become magical, monster fighting, ass-kicking, rock stars!

Episode Guide

Here are the first season of "Hex Girls" episodes!

Episode 1.1 “Our Lips Are Sealed”
Luna and Thorn express concern and a little bit of anger after a concert when once again they fail to learn anything about Dusk. Including her real name. When Dusk’s parents show up at a concert they learn that not only is her real name “Muffy” (“What kind of stupid name it that anyway?”) but her parents are stinking rich yuppies. The girls argue about what other secrets they are hiding from each other when a Sprite decides to use his magic to make them reveal all their secrets to each other. Can they stop the Sprite before he causes more havoc? Can they do it before they tell Dusk’s parents and Flash Cameron the whole truth about everything?
Monster of the Week: Pip the mischievous Sprite.
Musical number: “Our Lips are Sealed” – The GoGos.
Location: Boston, MA

Episode 1.2 “Girls on Film”
The girls dispatch a pesky ghost with a fairly routine spell but catch the attention of “extreme photojournalist” Flash Cameron. When the ghost’s bigger, and more dangerous brother comes looking for the girls for his revenge can they stop it and still not expose themselves to Flash?
Monsters of the Week: Two ghosts (maybe a riff on the Scooby Doo ‘Boo Brothers’)
Musical Number: “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
Location: New York, NY

Episode 1.3 “American Witch”
Activists are making claims that Rock music turns kids into brainless zombies. But when REAL zombies show up can the girls use their magic and music to stop the horde?
Special Guest Star: Rob Zombie! (he is a big fan of the Hex Girls!)
Monster of the Week: Zombies and Fundamentalists
Musical Number: “American Witch” Rob Zombie
Location: Salem, MA

Episode 1.4 “The Voodoo You Do”

The ghost of the “Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau needs a new body to continue her reign over New Orleans and she has chosen Luna!

Monster of the Week: The Ghost of Marie Laveau
Musical Number: “We Do Voodoo” – The Hex Girls
Location: New Orleans, LA

Episode 1.5 “Home Sweet Home”
Luna uncovers some information on her great-grandmother. Turns out that only was she a witch too, but her and Thorn’s great-grandmother were bitter enemies. Will the possession of Luna’s ancestors’ Book of Shadows, and Thorn and Luna being possessed by their great-grandmothers’, be the end of the Hex Girls? Will Jasper and Dusk be able to save them?
Monster of the Week: Luna and Thorn attacking each other.
Musical Number: “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd (sung at the beginning of the ep)
Location: Birmingham, AL

Episode 1.6 “Wild Wynd Blowin’”
The Hex Girls come to a gig only to discover that the guys from Wildwynds have stolen their spot. Bigger problems ensue when Wildwynds also start using magic! Bigger still Flash is back in town.
Monster of the Week: Wildwynds and Flash
Musical Number: “Shout it Out Loud” by KISS, performed by Wildwynds
Location: Dallas, Texas

Episode 1.7 “If Anyone Falls”
Having a relationship on the road is hard, harder if you are hiding the fact that you are a witch to your boyfriend. Thorn has decided to tell her new boyfriend the truth. The other girls don’t agree, but let it be her choice. But before she can tell him, something drains all of their powers!
Monster of the Week: Thorn’s boyfriend, a warlock.
Musical Number: “If Anyone Falls” by Stevie Nicks
Location: Wichita, KS

Episodes 1.8 & 1.9 “Ragnarök and Roll” (parts I and II)
“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.” – Revelation 8:2

“Never underestimate the power of a full horn section.” – Jake Blues
, The Blues Brothers

It’s apocalypse time again, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. The girls enter a battle of the bands' contest and the prize is the entire world! The Devil has assembled a band of all the souls he has taken over the years; Robert Johnson (guitar); John Bonham (drums); Stevie Ray Vaughan (guitar), Cliff Buton (bass) and Janis Joplin (vocals).
The Hex Girls need the help of the only musician to ever cheat the Devil out of his due and still be alive; Jim “Mr. Mojo Rising” Morrison. Trouble is Jim is in hiding and going outside will clue the Devil to his whereabouts and he doesn’t want that to happen.
Monster of the Week: The Devil's Band
Musical Number: Hells Bells (part 1), God Gave Rock and Roll to You (part 2)
Location: LA, CA

Guest Stars and Guest Band
Jim Morrison – Went into something like an Occult Witness Protection Program (called "The Sanctuary") with the aid of his ex-wife and powerful witch Patricia Kennealy-Morrison.
Jimi Hendrix – Vampyre. Has more soul and more funk than most other show's vampires combined.
Elvis Pressley – living.  His battles with zombies, aliens, and Bigfoot are the stuff of legends.  You DO NOT +&!@ with The King!
Eric “Eggs, Eggman” Burdon – occult poet, one of only five people that know of all the most powerful psychic locations in the USA. Friends with Hendrix.
Jim “Big Jim” Martin of Faith No More  – occult investigator (left Faith No More to battle the occult), had an epic battle with a creature known as the Pumpkin King.
Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz of The J. Geils Band.  – Uses his harmonica to focus his magical attacks to defeat evil spirits.
Stevie "the White Witch" Nicks - what can I possibly say her that you could not guess?  Still my first rock-girl crush. The "4th Hex Girl".