Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Mail Call: Black Magic Ritual Kit (1974)

 Well, I finally picked up another "Holy Grail" item. It makes me glad I didn't spend a lot at Gary Con.

This is the "companion" game (I am not sure that is what this really is) to the Witchcraft Ritual Kit (1974) I talked about back in 2020. Both are from Avalon Hill.

Black Magic Ritual Kit (1974)

Let me just start off with this. Man, the '70s were weird. 

This "game" has a board that looks like an altar set up from an occult bookstore's own manual of rituals. There are a lot of pieces here with various names of demons and angels on it. There is a "Rule book" and a "Manual of Interpretation," just like the Witchcraft Ritual Kit. It is also written by the same "Dr. Brooke Hayward Jennings," whom I still have found nothing of.

Manuals of Interpretation for Black Magic and Witchcraft

What I said about the Witchcraft Kit holds true here, too. It's 1974. The biggest movie in the world right now is "The Exorcist." Time Magazine is talking about the Occult Revival and the Return of Satan. An maybe, just maybe, Avalon Hill knows about a game featuring fantasy magic and wizards coming up. Well, they do know about it; they rejected it just a bit back.  Hippies have not yet become the Yuppies and they are searching for "alternative experiences."  What is a game company known for its war games and battle simulations to do?

Knock together some vaguely occult-looking games, put them into their standard "bookcase games" box, and slap some softcore porny covers on them. Next step...profit! 

Maybe. I don't think these games ever sold very well. There are so few of them on the aftermarket and the ones I do find are really expensive. I got this one from eBay from someone who I don't think knew what they had (based on their other sales), but I was bidding against someone who did know. Thankfully, the amount I set aside for this was much less than my final bid.

I got it just over the weekend.

What treasures are to be found here?

Black Magic Ritual Kit
I love it for the cover alone!

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents

AND, as a special bonus (and one of the main reasons I like buying these used games), someone included their own spell!

Black Magic Ritual Kit box contents New Spell!

It has the same production values as the Witchcraft Ritual Kit and the same head-scratching "What do I even do with this?"

Witchcraft and Black Magic kits
"Hey babe, come back to my pad, and I'll show you some magic."

Witchcraft and Black Magic kits

You've got to love the covers, though. It makes me wonder what Avalon Hill product 712 was. (ETA doesn't look like there was one.)

According to BoardGameGeek, quoting the company history, "Top management decided to leave the realm of games and produce a couple of do-it-yourself kits entitled BLACK MAGIC & WITCHCRAFT." These were both advertised for a short while as a "Leisure Time Game." Neither come with, or need, dice (an Avalon Hill staple) and candles and incense are not included.

Both of these "games" are very strange, and I am not sure what events led to their publication, except for the ones I have outlined in speculation above. Neither game appears in the catalog included in the box.

Avalon Hill catalog

Long-time readers know of a condition called "Traveller Envy," where I am constantly looking for board games to supplement my D&D experience, particularly my campaign "War of the Witch Queens." This is certainly why I bought it, but I am still stumped on how to add it. 

I mean, the demons all seem to be taken from The Lesser Key of Solomon, so I have that working in my favor since so many other games do the same thing. 

Honestly, just reading through it all is fun. It also gives me some ideas for my 1976 and 1979 campaigns. Though in different ways.

In any case, it is a wonderful curiosity from the 1970s Occult Revival and is sure to confuse anyone who tries to clean out my collection after I am gone!

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Larina Nix for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

Larina by Beatriz Sanguino
Larina by Beatriz Sanguino
Again, I'm surprised I haven't posted something like this already. Given that I talked about AD&D 2nd Edition earlier today, I thought this might be a good time to discuss the different witches from the AD&D 2nd Ed era. 

I have talked in the past about how the AD&D 2nd edition era was a good time for all sorts of witch classes. By my count, there were at least four official classes from TSR (and later WotC) for AD&D 2nd Ed, and quite a few unofficial ones. 

I have compared a few witch classes with each other at varying levels of detail over the years and will likely do it more when I take my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms for AD&D 2nd Ed. But looking back, I see I never taken the time to compare the AD&D Second classes to each other. The closest I have come was comparing two AD&D 2nd Characters to each other, Nida and Sinéad, and Sinéad is no longer even a proper witch. 

One day, I'll do more, but I want to look at one official witch and two unofficial ones for today.  I think I'll save Nida when it comes time to discuss the other official witches. Plus, using Larina here is much more appropriate. 

As I mentioned earlier today, AD&D 2nd Edition can be seen as an extension or continuation of the AD&D 1st Edition line. The games are very compatible. So, my characters often moved from 1st to 2nd Edition without so much as getting a new sheet. Larina here is no exception. She began in 1986 with AD&D 1st Ed and moved to AD&D 2nd Ed in 1989 without a blink. But I did make new sheets for her eventually.

Let's go back a bit before AD&D 2nd edition came out. Back in July 1986, I created a witch character, Larina, to test some ideas I had about doing witches in (A)D&D. When Dragon Magazine came out in October of 1986 I started using that. But all the while, I am collecting my notes and ideas. Moving forward to 1989, AD&D 2nd Edition was released. There were a lot of new ideas in that and I was looking forward to trying out my collected notes. One set of notes became my Sun Priest kit for Clerics, another became a pile of notes for the Healer, another the Necromancer/Death Mage, but the largest would become the Witch. It would be almost 10 years before it would see publication but it did and Larina was a central figure in that work.

In those 10 years, there was a lot of writing and playtesting. 

While I kept my Dragon #114/AD&D1st ed witch version of her, I created a parallel version using my new witch rules. This version was supposed to be the same person, just with a different set of rules to govern her. While that happened, two other witch classes were published to help me make other choices. I also set her up for these rules and played all three (or four, really) versions to see how she worked in different situations.  So, if you have ever wondered if I have run out of things to say about witches or even this witch in particular, the answer is no, I have spent more hours with her than any other character I have.

So I would like to present her for AD&D Second Edition, but three different witch classes.

Various AD&D 2nd Ed Witches

Larina Nix for AD&D 2nd Edition

This version(s) of Larina is just the continuation of her AD&D 1st Edition incarnation.

Base Stats (same for all versions).

Larina Nix
Human Witch, Lawful Neutral

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 17 
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 18 
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18

Movement: 12
AC: 1
HP: 86

Dagger, Staff

Defenses: Bracers of Defense (AC 1)

Languages: Common, Alignment, Elven, Dwarven, Dragon, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan
Ancient Languages: Primordial, Abyssal, Infernal

So, in this version, her dex and con were raised by some magic.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook
The Complete Wizard's Handbook

Class: Wizard
Kit: Witch
Level: 15

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 11
Rod, Staff, Wand: 7
Petrify/Polymorph: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Magic: 11

THAC0: 16

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe

3rd level: Familiar
5th level: Brew Calmative
7th level: Brew Poison
9th level: Beguile
11th level: Brew Flying Ointment
13th level: Witch's Cure

1st level: Burning Hands, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Copy, Chromatic Orb
2nd level: Blindness, ESP, Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter, Knock, Ice Knife
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Hold Person, Hovering Skull, Iron Mind, Pain Touch
4th level: Dimension Door, Fear, Magic Mirror, Remove Curse, Fire Aura
5th level: Advanced Illusion, Cone of Cold, Feeblemind, Telekinesis, Shadow Door
6th level: Eyebite, Dragon Scales
7th level: Shadow Walk


Mayfair Role-aids: Witches
Mayfair Role-aids: Witches

Class: Witch / Wizard
Tradition: Classical
Level: 15 / 1

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 13
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Petrify/Polymorph: 11
Breath Weapon: 13
Magic: 10

THAC0: 16

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe


1st level: Feather Fall, Identify, Read Magic, Sleep, Chill Touch, Protection from Evil, Color Spray
2nd level: Flaming Sphere, Locate Object, Forget, Ray of Enfeeblement, Strength
3rd level: Cure Light Wounds, Dispel Magic, Clairvoyance, Delude, Mystery Script
4th level: Call Lightning, Fear, Fire Shield, Magic Mirror, Wall of Fire
5th level: Feeblemind, Shadow Magic, Dream, FAlse Vision
6th level: Geas, Legend Lore, True Seeing
7th level: Shadow Walk


Mayfair Role-aids: Witches
The Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks

Class: Witch (Priest Sub-class)
Level: 15

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 5
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Petrify/Polymorph: 8
Breath Weapon: 11
Magic: 10

THAC0: 12

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe

1st: Turn Undead
3rd level: Read/Detect Magic
6th level: Chill Touch
9th level: Candle Magic
12th level: Immune to Fear
15th level: Fascination
11th level: Brew Flying Ointment
13th level: Witch's Cure

1st level: Create Fire, Katarine's Dart, Witch Light, Dowse, Wall of Darkness, Painful Wounds
2nd level: Burning Wind, Acquire Witch's Familiar, Blackfire, Dance Trantra, Minor Hex, Pain Armor, Protection vs. Elementals
3rd level: Lesser Strengthing Rite, Beguile III, Astral Sense, Lethe, Witch Writing, Rite of Remote Seeing
4th level: Spirit Dagger, Cloak of Shifting Shadows, Broom, Cleanse, Card Reading, Grandmother's Shawl, Middle Banishing Rite
5th level: Rite of Magical Resistance, Starflare, Dolor, Bull of Heaven
6th level: Anchoring Rite, Greater Banishing Rite, Kiss of Life
7th level: Demon Trap


The biggest differences are in the powers and the spells. 

I kept her HP the same in all three cases to keep combat a fixed variable, the same with her weapons and non-weapon proficiencies. 

The Wizard's Handbook from TSR strikes a good balance of powers and spells. The Mayfair Role-aids Witches book has some great spells. Of course I am fond of my own Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks. Of course, after 25 years, there are things I would do differently now.

Playing All Three

Playing all three in a game was interesting but also a lot of fun. I'd generally alternate between them, choosing which one to use in combat beforehand so I could measure the utility of the spells. So when I say I have played her more than any other character, I really mean it. I kept her "real" sheets as notes in MS Word 2.0/95/97 to make easy changes to them as I played with my CNoW&W one as the "official" character sheet. 

This also gave me the idea that all her incarnations are aware of each other. It has nothing to do with any of the game mechanics I have written, but it is aa fun little role-playing exercise. 

In 1999, on October 31st, I was sitting in the hospital. My wife had just had our first baby, Liam, and I had my laptop. Just after midnight, I released my "The Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks" for free on the web. Larina was featured in that book as a 6-year-old who discovered she was a witch.

All the playtesting would then lead to my "The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games" released exactly 14 years later.  It would also lead to my 3rd Edition books on witches, but I'll talk about them next week.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Art Edition (with Bonus Witches!)

 Do you know how you said you wanted to support real human artists who are doing real human art? Well RIGHT NOW is your chance. Here are three Kickstarters, one starting, one ending and one getting ready to go and all need your eyes on them.

And yes, they do in fact all have witches.

The Pinup Book: The Art of Brian Brinlee

The Pinup Book: The Art of Brian Brinlee

Friend of the Other Side, Brian Brinlee, has a new pinup book he has been working on. It looks like a lot of fun and has a modest goal. I love Brian's art and really need to get him to do a cover or something for me. 

This one is a repeat, but ending in a few days.

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

Djinn has been a good friend for a long time, and she has wonderful characters. She began doing illustrations of her D&D character, Solaine, a witch with a knack for all sorts of trouble, and they took off.

If you have seen her work in the past, you know what to expect here, and it should all be fun. She is in Italy, so the books will be shipped from there, which will cause extra charges for shipping and handling. 

I am hoping this is a big success. Djinn is a great person, and we all want to support real human artists; well, here she is!

Get on this one before it is too late.

The Witches of Oz #1 - A Mature Magical Queer Romance

The Witches of Oz #1 - A Mature Magical Queer Romance

I did promise witches. This is the new one from Kat Calamia and Phil Falco of Lifeline Comics. They have a lot of great titles out. I had featured "Beast and Snow #1" and "Nightmare in Wonderland #1" here in the past, and this one is part of the same universe. Plus it features the Wicked Witch of the West. So, how can I possibly say no?

This one does not start till next week or so. But sign up for notifications.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, March 29, 2024

#FollowFriday: The Bewitched Parlor

 Gary Con is not just a great place to see old friends, play some great games and sell some books. It is also a great place to meet some new friends. I want to spend some of the next few #FollowFridays featuring some of the great folks I got to meet.  Up first Luna and Blaise at The Bewitched Parlor.

Luna is in charge of this eclectic shop located in the aptly named Salem, WI. So they are local to Gary Con and this was their first con.

They were selling some fantastic handmade witch hats, journals, leather goods, and yes, even some dice. Actually, everything is handmade by Luna, except for the dice, but you can choose a handmade set.

Luna from The Bewitched Parlor
Shop owner Luna

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

Jason with a hat
Elf Lair Games with a new Witch Hat

Plus, they had the coolest looking booth and even a fireplace!  Luna and Blaise were fantastic, and I wish them all the best!

You can check out all their links below. Head over to her website and pick something up!

The Bewitched Parlor 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Mail Call Tuesday: Mini Duchess & Candella, Spanish WitchCraft

 Got some things to support two of my new on-going obsessions.  

Up first, some new HeroForge "standee" minis of Duchess & Candella.

Candella & Duchess Standee minis

Candella & Duchess Standee minis

Candella & Duchess Standee minis

They are flat, made of plastic about 3 mm thick. Their colors and design perfectly match those I used on HeroForge. 

Candella and Duchess

They got here rather quick to be honest. Much faster than the 3D-printed color minis. And cheaper too.

I always wanted to try these, and since I needed these minis in a hurry I opted to go this route for these two. I am happy with them, but I do prefer the 3D color minis. But they do come with nice little bags to store the mini or dice in.

Hero Forge minis and standees

Next up a "new to me" version of one of my all-time favorite games.  The Spanish Language version of CJ Carella's WitchCraft RPG.

WitchCraft RPG

The Spanish Language version from Edge most resembles the Eden Studios 2nd Edition. The text is the same and the art is the same.

Wicce in Spanish

The difference of course is this new Edge version is in Spanish.

I am happy to have this as this was one of the other "Holy Grail" items for my Spanish collection of RPGs. It was also the last CJ Carella WitchCraft book I am likely able to buy. 

CJ Carella's WitchCraft RPG

I am pleased that I was able to read a lot of it. Granted, my Spanish is still very limited, but I know this book very, very well. 

My collection of Spanish Language RPGs is not huge, but it covers my favorite games and about 85-90% of the games I like to play.

Spanish Language RPGs

Not a lot, but enough to keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New Witch Sheet

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

Witch Character Sheet

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

Witch Character Sheet

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

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

Friday, February 9, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Wizards, Witches, Wonderland, and Whatever this is!

 Some fun Kickstarters this week and quite the random selection. So let's get to it.

Wizard Van: The Roleplaying Zine Where Rock Never Dies

Wizard Van: The Roleplaying Zine Where Rock Never Dies

James M. Spahn is one of the good guys. He has scores of titles and has worked some of the best games of the last 10 years. This 22-page zine is rather a modest release; it takes a short time to fund and has no stretch goals, but it looks absolutely fun.  Plus it is only $10 for both the print and pdf.

Looks fantastic.

Bellatryx #1

Bellatryx #1

This new indie comic is about a 300-year-old witch back to get revenge on the apprentice who betrayed her. This also looks fun and the witch makes me think of the daughter of Willow Rosenberg and Hermione Granger.  Not a bad mix really.

$5 for the PDF is also a good deal.

Morgana Le Fay #1

Morgana Le Fay #1

There are only a few hours left on this one, and it also looks like fun. Plus it is about Morgana Le Fay, so that is always a plus in my mind. 

Nightmare in Wonderland #1 - NSFW Queer Fairytale Romance

Nightmare in Wonderland #1 - NSFW Queer Fairytale Romance

Kat Calamia and Phil Falco are the creators who gave us "Beast and Snow," a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and Snow White as a werewolf and vampire. This is her next one and is part of the same universe. In fact this comic is the first of a shared universe, the EverAfterVerse.

If this one is half as fun as "Beast and Snow" then it will be great. 

Plus, like the Kickstarter for "Beast and Snow," you get an indie comics bundle that is absolutely huge. Tons of fun comics from various creators. 

And now for something completely different.

Sentai & Sensibility RPG

Sentai & Sensibility RPG

This is best described as "Power Rangers in Regency England."  Well, I am a sucker for any Regency or Victorian RPG, and this one looks like a lot of fun.

Replace the crazy Power Ranger tech with Steampunk and the proper society of the Regency era you come close to this game. 

It looks silly and it looks like a ton of fun.


Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Enchanted World: Wizards and Witches

The Enchanted World: Wizards and Witches
 Let's start this series with the book that has the most meaning to me and the first one in the series: Wizards and Witches. Fitting for Imbolc on Thursday really.

Overview of the Series

The Enchanted World books from Time-LIFE were a series of high-quality, hardcover books sent to you via mail from Time-LIFE subscription. The first one you got for free was Wizards and Witches. This also makes it the most common one and the one you can find in most secondary markets. Fortunately for me, it was also my favorite.  

Imagine, if you can, a time when one of the world's largest publishers decided to invest in a series of books (21 in total) filled with full-color art, cloth-bound covers, and access to some of the world's greatest libraries and scholars. Libraries like the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Cambridge Library, and the London Library. Scholars like Prof. Tristram Potter Coffin (Chief Series Consultant),  Ellen Phillips (Series Director and Editor), and Prog. Brendan Lehane (author of this volume).

Well, that time was 40 years ago, and the Enchanted World series sought to capitalize on the growing fascination with all things fantasy, not in a small part due to the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons.

Over the years, I have seen a lot of collections of other folks' RPG books. It is no surprise when you see one or more of these books stuck in their mix of FRPGs.

Many of the books follow a similar pattern. Usually, 3-4 chapters of the book detail different aspects of the myths and folklore being covered. These are usually interspersed with some of the stories themselves or excerpts, as well as art. The art is often from classical sources or paintings depicting the stories or characters involved. There are also new pieces of art throughout. There are margin notes or marginalia with some other related tidbit of information. Each chapter ends with a longer story.

There is a bibliography, art credits, and some publication notes in the back.

These books were published around the world. Some of the European publications also had dust covers.

Wizards and Witches

by Brendan Lehane, 1984 (144 pages)
ISBN 0809452049, 0809452057 (US Editions)

This book is divided into three sections covering ancient wizards, wizards of the Middle Ages, and witches. There is quite a lot of art from Arthur Rackham here. 

Chapter One: Singers at the World's Dawn

Here, we begin with a tale of the old Finish wizard Väinämöinen and the young upstart Joukahainen in what could be considered a magical sing-off. The line between Bard and Wizard was very thin in ancient Finland. Thus it was when the world was young and youth could aspire to wizardry. We learn of other powerful names like Volga Vseslavich, Cathbad, Manannan Mac Lir, Taliesin, and, most well-known of all, Merlin. Not all were old men. Ceridwen, Circe, and Louhi were there too.

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

The thesis here is that in those olden days magic was something people could aspire too, but few could truly master. We get snippets of stories of all these wizards and sorceresses, each playing into the next. It is somewhere between a bedtime story and an undergraduate survey of various wizards. In between we get longer stories, like the "Wizard of Kiev" and "The Welsh Enchanter's Fosterling."  All cover magic in a semi-forgotten age that seems to have one foot in history and another in mythology.

Chapter Two: Masters of Forbidden Arts

If the last chapter dealt with magical using men and women as heroes as often as villains, then this chapter leaves no ambiguity on where it sees (or rather history sees) the wizard of the Middle Ages. Here the singing battles of Bard-Wizards are given way to the academic study of magic in dusty tomes of forgotten lore and those who sell their very soul for power. We encounter the likes of Roger Bacon (1219-1292), Oxford Scholar, Empirical Philosopher, Franciscan friar, and dabbler in magic. There is even a bit on Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566) aka Nostradamus. But for the most part we see magic going from a force of nature in a world where the rules are not yet set in stone, to men (for the most part) partaking in deals with demonic or devilish figures for power. All it takes is their soul.

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

We spend quite a bit of time on the legend of Faust and his deal with Mephistopheles. In fact, this one is so set into our vernacular that a "Faustian Deal" hardly needs any explanations. 

Given the time period, there is also a wonderful overview of the Tarot and its origins with some rather fantastic art. 

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

But most of all I loved the "Legions of the Night" section with its coverage of Demons. The descriptions of just the few here and the art by Louis Le Breton from the Dictionnaire Infernal by Collin de Plancy were enough to make me want even more strange demons in my game. More so since it featured Astaroth. A demon that already fascinated me from when I first saw him in Best of Dragon II.

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

Harry Clarke's illustrations of Mephistopheles should be how the devil appears all the time. 

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

Along with the Tarot, there is some coverage on astrology. This predates the Middle Ages by, well, thousands of years really, but there was new keen importance on it at this time. 

Chapter Three: The Shadowy Sisterhood

Ah. Here are my witches. We get some cover on what could be called Folk Magic or Hedge Witchery, on how these natural healers were initially an important part of everyday life. The magic was simpler and more in tune with nature.

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

Throughout this chapter, the "helpers" of witches are mentioned. We call them Familiars. Up first is the hare, which they claim (and back up) was closer to the witch than the black cat we associate with today. This reminds me that rabbits and hares should really feature more in my games. The others include spiders, ravens and crows, cats, snakes, and toads, which they claim as one of the first animals to be associated with witches. I have read that before as well.

As the chapter professes the old Black Magic vs. White Magic trope appears. While less in favor today among Real WitchesTM (remember the ads with Litney Burns?) it is an important distinction of the time. It is almost the same divide as the "Natural" vs. "Academic" wizards of the first two chapters, really. 

There are various stories, mostly about how someone was suspected of witchcraft and what happened. But also the machinations of witches in general. 

There is a section flight and witches and how brooms were not used at first, but rather things like butter churns and distaffs. I even added distaffs to my games in part because of this connection. 

Our story at the end of this chapter is a classic tale of Baba Yaga and Vasilsa the Fair. Again featuring amazing artwork, this time right from Vasilisa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin.

Use in FRPGs

With so many books out there, there is no end to the ideas they can generate. Upfront, it should be noted there is nothing "new" here. The stories, the folklore, and even a lot of the art are things we have all seen before. The stories of wizards like Väinämöinen, Merlin, Faust, and Circe should all be known to anyone who has a passing interest in fantasy and, indeed, to anyone who has played FRPGs. But that is not where their value lies. These books do have tidbits that the causal pursuer of these tales would not know, and maybe even some for the more advanced students.

To be sure, while there is academic rigor here, these are not textbooks. But they are educational.

Reading these tales one could use them as the basis for other characters. There is more than just a little bit of Taliesin in my own Phygora, for example. These tales, often set right on top of each other, can give the reader and player plenty of means of comparison. 

This book also makes good arguments for the separation between, say, Wizards, Warlocks, and Witches (as represented by the three chapters) but less of an argument on where bards fit in. Are Taliesin and Väinämöinen wizards or bards, for example? It is not up to this book to decide but rather the reader.

If you are playing a game like D&D that lives in a different world, then ideas abound. I mean we know Gygax, Arneson and the early designers of the game were very much into folklore and mythology. Those elements are the hook for more of these, beyond the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths we were all raised on.  Like any good synthesis, it should make you want to check out the primary stories these are all from.  If you are playing a Medieval game, say Chivalry & Sorcery or Pendragon, then this is practically a sourcebook for you. I would even say it is a must-have for a Mage: Dark Ages or Mage: Sorcerers Crusade game.

Wizards & Witches


I can't let it go unsaid, even if it is obvious, but this book profoundly affected me when it was out. While I did not own my own copy until much later on, I had friends that had it. Since this was the first of the series, many people had it. The art in this book set the feel for how I wanted my Witch class books to look. I have since included the art of Arthur Rackham and the Pre-Raphelites in many of my books. This was one of the books that made me want a witch book for D&D. When none showed in the stores I took it on myself to make it. I do know that my first encounter with the "Black School" of the Scholomance was from this book.

Time-LIFE The Enchanted World: Wizards & Witches

While I can't say with any certainty other than the timeline, this book was likely a contributing factor to one of my favorite themes in games; Pagans vs. Christians and how magic would later be demonized by the Church.

This series is lovely, and each book, while filled with things I already knew, also has many things I did not. 

My only real complaint? At 12.25" x 9", they just don't fit nicely into a standard bookcase.

Next Time: What is love?