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

Friday, June 24, 2022

Skylla: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

I thought it might be nice to break up the reviews here and see if I can build one of my favorite characters for Pathfinder Second Edition.  And that means I am building a witch.

My girl Skylla here has gotten a lot more popular since I started this series almost 10 years ago. Since then she has gotten new official D&D 5 stats, a mini, and a new action figure release. All of that in the last year alone.  I'd love to take credit for it, but it is really just part of the same thing I was doing 10 years ago; discovering a cool, but under-used character.

A foot in two worlds

What is great about this is I can compare and contrast the official D&D5 Warlock Skylla to a possible Pathfinder 2e Skylla.  I can also compare and contrast her with the Pathfinder 1st edition witch I did years ago.   

In this case, I cleaved a little closer to her Base stats found in module XL1 Quest for the Heartstone and her warlock stats found in The Wild Beyond The Witchlight.

For this build I kept her at 6th level to correspond base stats and the D&D5 stats and not the 7th level I have typically been using.  I have not seen a lot of Pathfinder 2e statblocks online, so I am going with my own format here.

Custom Skylla figure

Skylla
6th level Witch, Human (Wintertouched)
CE Medium Humanoid

Background:  Student of Magic

Ability Scores
Strength: -1 (8)
Dexterity: 0 (10)
Constitution: +2 (14)
Intellignece: +4 (19)
Wisdom: +3 (16)
Charisma: +3 (16) 

AC: 18 (+8 prof)
HP: 62
Perception: +11

Saving Throws
Fortitude: +12
Reflex: +8
Will: +13

Resistances and Immunities: Cold 3

Speed: 25

Melee Strikes
Staff +7, 1d4 (1d8 two-handed) +1d6 electricity

Skills
Acrobatics +0, Arcana +12, Athletics -1, Crafting +4, Deception +13, Diplomacy +11, Intimidation +13, Lore (Academia +12), Medicine +3, Nature +11, Occultism +12, Performance +3, Religion +11, Society +4, Stealth +8, Survival +11, Thivery +0

Feats

Ancestry Feats and Abilities
Wintertouched Human, Adapted Cantrip, Adaptive Adept

Skill Feats
Recognize Spell, Arcane Sense, Charming Liar, Intimidating Glare

General Feats
Toughness

Class (Witch) Feats and Abilities
Hexes, Familiar, Basic Lesson, Rites of Convocation, Magical Fortitude, Steady Spellcasting

Spells

Spell Attack Roll: +12
Spell DC: 22
Traditions: Occult
Focus Points: 2

Inante Spells: Detect Magic
Focus Spells: Blood Ward, Phase Familiar, Spirit Object

Cantrips: Chill Touch, Daze, Detect Magic, Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Protect Companion
1st Level: Charm, Chilling Spray, Floating Disk, Mage Armor, Magic Missile
2nd Level: Dispel Magic, Invisibility, Knock
3rd Level: Enthrall, Lightning Bolt

--

I like this. She compares well to her D&D5 counterpart. Lots of spells all over the place and LOTS of feats, but that's Pathfinder Second Edition.  

Skylla vs. Skylla

In both cases her Patron is Baba Yaga. So that's really nice. I thought about taking a magical tatoo to cover her mark from Baba Yaga, but I am still reading through the Secrets of Magic book so I am not sure that works just yet.

I feel she might have more magical might than her D&D5 counterpart. I thought this would happen which is why I wanted to set her at the same level (6th level) for a better comparison.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Pathfinder 2nd ed Advanced Player's Guide

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide
Continuing my exploration of the Pathfinder Second Edition I am going to examine the book you all knew I was going to get to sooner or later. 

Like the previous edition of Pathfinder the Advanced Player's Guide introduces some new classes to the Pathfinder game, and like the previous edition, one of those classes introduced is the Witch.

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide 

As before I am considering the hardcover Special Edition version of this book. The book is 272 pages and has full-color interior art.

This book is Player focused and shares a lot in common with its predecessor. It also follows the format of the Second Edition Core rules.

Introduction

This introduces us to the book and gives us an overview of what we can expect.

Ancestries & Backgrounds

Now here are some neat ideas. We get five new Ancestries here. They are Catfolk, Kobolds, Orcs, Ratfolk, and Tengus.  

The Catfolk are fun and comparable to the D&D Tabaxi and Rakasta (not Rakasha).  Likewise, the Tengus are like the D&D Kenku.  Orcs are orcs, but I like what they are doing with them. Orcs has always been the "Klingons" of D&D. Someone to fight in the TOS ("The Original Series" or "The Old School") but that changed later on. We have Klingons in Starfleet in TNG and beyond and now we can have Orcs as a player race.  Orcs are still described as being mostly chaotic (which I like) and even, maybe just a little bit evil. Player Character Orcs don't have to be.  Also like Klingons, these Orcs seem to see their gods as something they should strive to kill. A little John Wick influence here? (The game designer, not the character).  These orcs would be interesting to play.  We also get Ratfolk (anthropomorphic rats) and Kobolds.  Now I will admit, I really don't like Pathfinder's ultra-reptilian Kobolds.  I am certain they have their fans, but if I am going to play a small annoying creature why would I choose anything but a goblin? 

Each ancestry gets a set of ancestry feats to choose at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

There are new heritages as well including the new versatile heritage which gives you lineage feats as well. I know the "feat haters" are already screaming. Yeah, that might be justified. The lineages are Changeling, Dhampir, and Planar Scions which include Aasimar, Duskwalker, and Tiefling.  These feats are also taken at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

More feats are given for the Core Rules ancestries as well. I think the next goblin I play is going to need the "Extra Squishy" feat.

There are more backgrounds as well including Common and Rare backgrounds. 

Classes

Ah. The real reason I bought this book!

In addition to the four new classes, Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, and Witch, there are new features for the twelve Core Rules classes.

The Investigator is an interesting class and one I can see working well in an FRPG.  Basically is Sherlock Holme could fit into your game then this class has a place too.  The Oracle is a staple of classic mythology and is a divine-powered class. A nice alternative to the cleric.  The Swashbuckler is neat and all but I didn't "get it" until I started thinking of them as a DEX-based fighter as opposed to the normal STR-based one. That leaves just one more class.

The Witch

The Witch has been a great addition to Pathfinder since 1st Edition and I rather like this one too.  This witch is an Intelligence-based spellcaster. Like many interpretations of the witch she gets a Patron and Familiar.  This is how she learns her spells. Now for me this points more to Charisma, but there are a lot of Charisma-based casters in Pathfinder. Wisdom would have also been a good choice.  These witches also get Hexes which are powers they can use that are not spells but spell-like. 

While clerics are clearly divine spellcasters and wizards are arcane, witches as a class can move about these distinctions. So depending on their Patron Theme, they can be Arcane, Divine, Occult, or Primal.  A Rune Witch is arcane, but a Winter Witch is primal. This time also grants a skill, a cantrip and a spell.

In addition to spells, hexes, patrons, and loads of feats, witches also get Lessons, each lesson gives the witch a hex and their familiar a spell. Witches don't use spell books here, just their familiars.  There is so much customization I could make 1000s of witches and no two would be the same. 

Witches in Pathfinder fill the same ecological niche that Warlocks do in D&D 5.

Following the witch we get new feats for the twelve core rules classes. Typically a two- or four-page spread continues with PF2e's design aesthetic. Sorcerers, I should note get new bloodlines as well. 

There is also a section on animal companions (largely stats) and familiars. 

Archetypes
Archetypes

Like the Core Rules of PF2e this has several archetypes that can be applied to classes via the applications of various feats and skills. I do see where some of the 3.x Prestige Classes are now living on here as archetypes. There are also the multi-class archetypes for all the new classes. One of these new archetypes is the Cavalier. I can complete my "Dragon 114" duo with a human witch and an elven cavalier!  Some of these archetypes can be be taken as early as 2nd level, others (typically the former Prestige Classes) need more requirements and have to be taken at higher levels.  I would need to compare and contrast the archetypes to the old Prestige Classes to see how they work out.  I can see where you can build your own Batman now with the monk class, the investigator multi-class feat, and vigilante archetype. 

One thing though. I can see these archetype being adapted to D&D5 or even OSR D&D with some care and attention. 

Feats

Feats are either the boon or bane of Pathfinder. This chapter has more of them.

Spells

New spell casting classes mean a need for new spells. 

Items

New magic items.

All in all this book is a lot of fun. The art is great, and the layout and design is fantastic. There are a lot of great ideas here and I would love to try them out.  Hell. I would be content in making a different PF2e witch a day just to see how many I could do.  But don't worry, I am not going to that except maybe for myself.

There is a lot here I would love to see find a home in some way for D&D, maybe for D&D6.  

Monday, June 6, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Faerie Lord, Scáthaithe, The Umbral Lord

Scáthaithe, The Knight of Swords
I have been in a bit of a creative slump here lately. By "lately" I mean the last few months.  I do want to get my various monster books done though.  So here is a guy been rattling around in my brain now for a while.  I am combining a couple of different ideas here that I have wanted to explore for a bit.

Faerie Lords

I have been working on a number of Faerie Lords for the Basic Bestiaries and the High Witch book.  These lords provide a number of interesting background NPCs and are also the various Powers that both Faerie Tradition Witches and Fey Pact Warlocks can honor/serve.   I have already detailed a few here, Titania, Queen of FaerieNicnevin, Faerie Queen of Witches, the Queen of Lies, and the Prince of Beasts.

My focus lately has been building the court of Nicnevin (also known as Nic an Neachneohain).  Hers is not a court of deep intrigues like Mab's or Titania's, but a powerful court all the same. Since those Courts are typically (if somewhat incorrectly) described as the Dark and Light courts (more properly Winter and Summer) I need a few independent "Shadow" Courts.  Nicnevin is the Queen of the Autumn Court.  Not a major court to be sure, but still powerful.  

Shadow Elves

There are more than one "Shadow Courts."  Last year I did a big series on Shadow Elves and various other shadow fey.  I was trying to come up with a good idea for Shadow Elves in my world and I looked to the Shadow Elves of Mystara and the Shadow Fey from Kobold Press and even into the ideas of the Shadowfell from D&D 4th Edition.   This lead me to do an adaptation of Kobold Press' The Dusk Queen.  But she is PI so I won't be using her in my books, save for maybe as a special guest in my home games. 

While reading more about the Shadowfell, the mortal world, and the Feywild for D&D 4 and 5 I came up with an idea of my own.

Just as the Mortal World (the Prime Material) intersects with the Shadow World (Shadowfell) and the World of Faerie (Feywild) they also intersect with each other.

So less this:

Planes according to D&D 4th Edition

And more this: 

The Three Worlds

Excuse my lack of artistic ability here.

All three worlds intersect.  The intersection point of the Mortal and the Faerie is already detailed in many D&D books as the Feywild.  The intersection of the Mortal and Shadow is the Shadowfell.  The Shadowfey is the intersection of the Realms of Shadow and the Faerie Realms independent of the mortal world.  This is the area I am working on.  This is the home of the Umbral Elves.

Last Bits

Among other things I also needed a Faerie Lord, or at the very least a high level Faerie/Elf to be the father of a particular character.  I needed to have that character spend 13 years "stuck" in the faerie realms while she was getting instruction by her "faerie godmother" (Nicnevin).  And finally, I needed to develop a group of Elven Cavaliers for various reasons.  This particular group of Cavaliers is linked to witches and witchcraft.  Essentially they are the Elven Cavaliers from Dragon Magazine #114 tied more closely to the witch class that appears in the same issue. 

I also wanted a character that recalled the B/X Elf class that used sword and spell with equal proficiencies. 

Putting all of this together a new Faerie Lord emerges.

Scáthaithe, The Umbral Lord
Faerie Lord

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 13d8+52*** (111 hp)
To Hit AC0: 6 (+13)
Attacks: Sword +2 x3 or by spell
Damage: 1d8 +2 x3 or by spell
Special: Attacks three times per round, darkvision, harmed only by cold iron and magic weapons, 30% magic resistance, Wizard spells (12th level) 
Languages: Common, Elven, Sylvan, Giant, Abyssal
Size: Medium
Save: Magic-user 13
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: U (VI) x10, See below
XP: 5,150 (OSE) 5,300 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 18 (+3) Con: 20 (+4) Int: 20 (+4) Wis: 16 (+2) Cha: 24 (+5)

The Faerie Court of Autumn is ruled very loosely by Nicnevin the Faerie Queen of Witches.  Her sometimes consort and Cowan is a being known in court as the Knight of Swords. He is also known as Scáthaithe ("skaw-he"), the Umbral Lord.  He is the melancholy lord of the Shadow Elves. 

Scáthaithe appears as a tall (7') tall elf-lord.  His skin is pale with an almost bluish tint to it. His hair is long and black and often tied back.  His eyes are bright green and his pupils are slitted like that of a cat's.  He wears the armor of a knight and carries a long darkened sword he calls "Moonblade."  He is often astride a black warhorse with large black wings.  The barding of this warhorse makes it at first appear to be some dark unicorn but is more akin to the pegasus.

When not in the court of the Witch Queen he will be found with his six sons, the Umbral Knights, patrolling the lands of the Shadowfey.  His sons act as 8-10 HD versions of their father. Their role is to patrol the Shadowfey and keep intruders out. This includes mortals and creatures of the outer planes.  Elementals can be found here if they have the leave of the local lords or ladies. 

Scáthaithe will attack intruders to the Shadowfey with both sword and spell.  He will use a long-range spell, such as magic missile to start with and then switch to his sword which he can attack three times per round.  He can cast spells as a 12th level magic-user.

The Umbral Lord has a keep deep in the Shadowfey, Scáthchoimeád where he resides with his sons. He had a Lady, his sons' mother, but that was long ago and he never speaks of her.  Presently he has taken up with a young human witch. It is also rumored that he is the son of a great lord of the Summer Court and a great lady of the Winter Court, possibly even Oberon and Mab. 

Scáthaithe as a Witch/Warlock Patron:  By agreement with his Queen Nicnevin, Scáthaithe does not take on witches as part of the Faerie Tradition. Though he can be invoked by these witches through Nicnevin.  He does however work as a Patron for warlocks. He can be used as a Fey Pact Patron and is particularly well suited as a Pact of the Blade warlock.  His warlock can manifest a dark sword similar to his one Moonblade.  He is also favored by half-elf warlocks who see themselves as being a member of two different worlds and also being of neither; like a shadow.

Scáthaithe, The Umbral Lord

Scáthaithe and an impressionable young witch


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

#AtoZChallenge2022: W is for Witch Cult Hypothesis

The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories W
The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories: W is for Witch Cult Hypothesis

This is a conspiracy theory / modern myth that is more or less implicit in all of my games.  And something a little different than what I have been doing this month.

The hypothesis (and I could argue it is a testable one) is that there has been a more or less unbroken line of pagan magic practitioners and nature worshipers that has existed in Europe and elsewhere since pre-history dating back to at least a time of Goddess worship.  The witch-trails of Europe were an attempt to irradicate these "Witches" in favor of...well, let's look into that.

Ok, that is a lot of variables for a proper hypothesis.  Let's see what we are talking about here.

This idea was put forth by a number of different scholars over the years. The biggest "name" in this was  Margaret Murray, who gave us The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921).  It built off of the popularity of James George Frazer's The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion (1917) which was also a study in European and before Pagan practices and Charles Godfrey Leland's Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches (1899).

Murray's central thesis was that these witches have existed for centuries and were a vital part of the pagan community.   With the rise of monotheism and proliferation of just one god (and a Male God at that) these witches were hunted down by members of the Church and State or at the very least with their implicit, if not tacit, approval.   That would be Conspiracy #1.

The trouble it Murray's work is not very good.  She makes a lot of fundamental errors in her book including pointing out that the lack of evidence is evidence that they had been wiped out.

I will admit I was even taken it by the idea when I first read it so many years ago. I have since re-read it after several years of grad school and designing research that I can only see the errors, missteps and sadly outright fabrications.  It is a fun read, but has about as much to do with witches as the Wizard of Oz.  

The second wave of the Witch Cult Hypothesis came in the 20th Century.  Typically post-WWII/1950s thinking.  Building on Murray's work there were those that wanted to see what a witch cult, ala Murray, would have been like if it had survived into the 20th Century.   

Taking this in with other works you folks like Gerald Gardner who invented Wicca and claimed to have these roots. Other writers, like Raymond Buckland, were a bit more honest about what they were doing, but you still had a number of others taking Murray not only at face value but also the "gospel truth."

This brings us to Conspiracy #2.  Not only were these witch cults wiped out, but it continues to this day with the discrediting of anything that might show it to be true.  A stretch maybe, but really no more strange than what any other religion believes about their origins. 

I have also read theories that the witch trials (often called the Burning Times) were the result of the growing professional medical professions (ie. Doctors) trying to get rid of their competition, the local herb woman, healer, and midwife.  A variant on Conspiracy #1. 

The truth is that Murray, not just through her own works but the works of others, has been so deeply embedded in this notion of a pre-Christian witch cult that is difficult to tease out her effects.   Her ideas, wrong or not (no, they were wrong, sorry) are with us now forever.

Maybe that is ok.  Just don't base an intellectual career on it.

young Celtic witch with read hair

For NIGHT SHIFT

Well. Basically. In NIGHT SHIFT everything Murray ever said was true. Yup. The whole lot of it. Whether she meant it to be true or not doesn't really matter here. In the world(s) of NIGHT SHIFT it is.

Again, this largely follows most of the work I do with witches in all my games. Gygax even did the same with his Druids imagining the Celtic priestly caste surviving to the Middle Ages (500 to 1,000 years later).   I do the same with witches.  Here I have a collection of pre-Christian, largely European (but there are other influences), pagan witch cults that have existed in secret for thousands of years.

Intellectually I have let Murray go, but in my games, not so much.

Witches are a big part of NIGHT SHIFT, regardless of where they come from.

The NIGHT SHIFT RPG is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Guest Blog: Using The Witch and Eldritch Witchery as a NIGHT SHIFT Resource

I am over on the Elf Lair Games blog today to talk about how you can use my OSR books The Witch and Eldritch Witchery to expand on your NIGHT SHIFT games. 

The Elf-Lair Coven

With this, you can add new spells, new Arcane Powers, and Traditions like The Aquarian Order, The Cult of the Magna Matter, The Hermetic Lodges, and the Masters of the Invisible College. 

https://elflairgames.blogspot.com/2022/03/guest-blog-using-witch-and-eldritch.html

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Happy Birthday to the Other Side from Laura Guldemond

While this week is not my "blog birthday" it is the anniversary of my first website called The Other Side, of which this blog is the continuation.  In celebration, I thought I would get myself something fun for it. 

So here is Laura Guldemond, lead singer of The Burning Witches to welcome you to my site!


I have to say Laura was an absolute sweetheart to work with!  I knew I wanted to get a Cameo of someone to mark the occasion this year and she popped up in my searches and I knew she was the one.

Laura Guldemond

I rather enjoy The Burning Witches and have featured them here before on a Friday Night Videos segment. 

So with that. Welcome again "where all witches love the Other Side!"

Links for Laura Guldemond

Thursday, February 17, 2022

I Am A Lying Liar from Liartown

I was cleaning up my office on Wednesday, waiting for a meeting to start when I started going through a bunch of binders I have.  In particular a few for notes on my witch and necromancer classes (maybe I'll do a necromancer one day).  Anyway, I sorted through all my notes and I found many treasures.

3.5" Floppy disk.  What treasures await??

The fruits of that labor are:

More Monsters!

And...I dug up enough information for not just two new witch books, but three.

For the last year or more, I have been talking about "My Last Witch Book" the High Witchcraft Tradition.  The High Witchcraft book is very much tied up in organizing all my notes and sources project, so I knew I was going to find new material for it today.

I knew I had a lot for it, it was just all over the place on whatever I decided to take notes on.  I thought I had maybe enough for it and another, smaller, book.  Nope. I have enough for three different books now.

I am not really ready to reveal what these other books are/will be.  I reserve the right not to do them if push comes to it.  

So. Yeah.  I guess I do have more books in me.  Though I think I am going to keep the High Witchcraft book as the Last book.

Now I just need to dig up a 3.5" floppy drive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Witch-Queen of Yithorium

I was cleaning up some links on my Witch Links page and I noticed a few I had from the Halls of the Mountian King, the blog of the recently passed Jason Zavoda. He posted a bit about Hyperborea, nee AS&SH, including the Witch Queen of Yithorium.  I also found a lot of material for his own Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches.

Jason was very well respected in the Greyhawk community and I thought it might be a nice tribute to expand on his ideas some, but more importantly, share his ideas all with you.  Up first, the Witch-Queen of Yithorium.

The Witch-Queen of Yithorium

There is not a lot of text on who the Witch-Queen of Yithorium is except for what she wants now.

The official Hyperborea forum has a little on her background.  She is a nod/homage to Howard's witch Salome in "A Witch Shall Be Born." She rules from a 100’ tower of alien origin that immediately reminded me of Clark Ashton Smith. She is immortal, ever young, and has ruled Yithorium for nearly 700 years.  She obviously knows what to do.  

Jason provides the most information about the Queen herself in his post.  He uses a picture of Judith from the Bible as his inspiration.  Much like Salome (the namesake of Howard's witch) Judith is known for her association with a decapitated man. John the Baptist for Salome, Holophernes for Judith.   We gather from his post (and others) she was a beautiful woman, small but voluptuous, with long raven tresses.  Naturally, I think of Sarah Douglas.  

We know she is a witch and uses a type of magic unknown to her lands. We learn it is blood magic and that no one in the City-State of Yithorium knows where she learned it.  I am going to say, given the work that Jason has done, that she learned it all in Blackmoor

There are no official stats for the Witch Queen of Yithorium in the Hyperborea books.  She doesn't even have a proper name really. 

The Witch Queen of Yithorium
Female Witch 12th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Human
Secondary Skill: Torturer

Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Casting Ability: 12
Fighting Ability: 5
Saving Throw: 11

Hit Points: 36
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 9

Powers
Brew Decoction (x5), Familiar, Read Magic, Scroll Use, Scroll Writing, Sorcery, New weapons skills (3), Dance of Beguilement (5th level), Effigy (5th level), Enlist Henchment (6th level), Animate Broom (7th level), Lordship (9th level).   

Spells 
First: Alter Self, Charm Person, Detect Magic,  Shocking Grasp, Unseen Servant
Second: Darkness, Ghoul Touch, Infernal Tounges, Ray of Enfeeblement, Witch Fire
Third: Dispel Magic, Exploding Skull, Phantasm, Summon Dæmon I
Fourth: Black Tentacles, Mirror Mirror, Sorcerer Eye, Summon Dæmon II
Fifth: Anti-Magic Field, Summon Dæmon III, Summon Elemental
Sixth: Gelatinize Bones, Transfer Youthfulness


Hyperborea Witch


The Witch Queen of Yithorium

Female Witch, Blood Tradition 13th level
Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 36
AC: 9

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level: Evil’s Touch 
13th level: Detect Bloodline

Spells 
Cantrips: Black Flame, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading
First: Bewitch I, Darkness, Feel my Pain, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Silver Tongue
Second: Alter Self, Disfiguring Touch, Ghoulish Hands, Scare, Share My Pain, Suggestion
Third: Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Lifeblood, Summon Spirit, Witch Wail
Fourth: Divination, Phantom Lacerations, Polymorph, Spiritual Dagger
Fifth: Bewitch V, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Spiritual Dagger, Summon Nightmare Steed
Seventh: Wave of Mutilation 

For this witch, I am using a combination of the Family, Maelific, and Mara Traditions. 

While I am perfectly happy to keep her nameless, or only as "The Witch Queen," I am thinking of giving her the proper name of Miriam, to keep with the Biblical theme I have established here. Of course, no one besides her would know that. 
 
The Witch Queen

Hyperborea has always been a large part of my plan for the War of Witch Queens, at least in terms of how witches are presented.  At one point it was going to be my system of choice for the campaign, but I have since settled on OSE.  Still, Hyperborea has a lot to offer me. 

I typically mix in a fair amount of Barbarians of Lemuria into my Hyperborea games. So it might be fun to have Miriam, the Witch Queen of Yithorium be the rival of Methyn Sarr, the Witch Queen of the Fire Coast.  Each thinking the other is the lesser witch while worried that the other might have access to some magic they do not.  They seem to be cast from the same mould, that of Salome of "A With Shall Be Born," but one taking to fire magic and the other blood magic.  I don't think they were/are sisters in the biological sense but maybe they are former coven sisters. Once allies or even friends and now bitter, hated rivals.  If Sarah Douglas is my model for the Witch Queen of Yithorium, then my choice for Methyn Sarr would have to be Emma Samms. Not too far of a stretch since she was the uncredited performance/body model for Princess Teegra in Ralph Bakshi's "Fire and Ice." 

Links

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Review: The Witch-Queen's Lament (OSRIC Adventure)

The Witch-Queen's Lament
A couple of weeks back I noticed a posting in one of the Greyhawk groups on Facebook about a new adventure. It was called The Witch-Queen's Lament so you know it immediately had my attention. The adventure was designed for OSRIC and had an old-school module look and feel to it.  I didn't know much about it to be honest, but I was sure I was going to get it.  I went over the publisher's website, casl Entertainment, and bought a copy of the PDF and perfect bound softcover.  While I was predisposed to like it, getting the PDF made me quite excited for it.

The Witch-Queen’s Lament

An adventure for character levels 6-9 (70,002 total experience points) for OSRIC or compatible games. PDF and softcover available, 95 pages.

This adventure is "compliant" (I think "compatible" is the word they want, it is "compliant" with the OGL) with OSRIC.  This really means it can (read should) be used with AD&D 1st Edition.  It will work with other games too, but more on that.

This adventure is designed for Tournament play. That is why we have the 70,002 XP value on it and there is a tournament scoring sheet.  IF you wish to play this adventure with tournament rules and scoring my advice is do not change anything about it.  I have run a few tournament adventures with scoring and this one feels like it put together well. My concern would only be can you fit it into the four-hour time slot?  I am 100% certain that author Carlos A.S. Lising has and has done so many times.  I am not sure *I* could do it.  That all being said I want to look at this from the point of view of a campaign, and my War of the Witch Queens campaign in particular. 

So let's start back at the beginning.  This adventure was the official Tourneyment adventure for GrogCon 2021.  Looking over their catalog it looks like they have run a few adventures at other old-school cons as well.  This bodes well.  The adventure was written by Carlos A.S. Lising, with cover and interior art by Daniel Govar, and cartography from Glynn Seal.  Carlos A.S. Lising is a huge fan of module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth which is also one of my favorites. This makes me optimistic for this adventure.

Now when this was announced for sale there was a little bit of wailing from the usual suspects in regard to the module code, G2, on the cover.  With many complaining that this was not really G2.  Sorry but the TSR G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl is over 40 years old now and neither TSR nor Gygax owned the letter G.  I am sure the G, in this case, stood for "GrogCon."  If this bugs you, be like Elsa and let it go.

On to the adventure proper.  We learn right away that the eponymous Witch-Queen is none other than "Natasha the Dark" aka Tasha, aka Tashanna, aka Zyblina, aka Iggwilv herself!  Ok. You now have my undivided attention.  We get a bit of backstory on Natasha the Dark including her becoming a Daughter of Baba Yaga, and her sisters Vasilisa (Elena) the Fair and Anya the Plain.  Anya is going to be our focus here since she has gone missing with Natasha's matryoshka doll. This was no ordinary doll, this nesting doll held a bit of Natasha's soul/life force and has kept her immortal for centuries.  Natasha, it a bit uncharacteristic token of love, gave the newly enchanted doll to Anya for safe-keeping, knowing her sister would love it and cherish it. The side effect has been that as long as Anya has the doll she will also be immortal, just stuck in the form of a 12-year-old girl.

The doll, and Anya, has now been stolen and IggwilvNatasha needs you all to get it back.

As far as adventure hooks goes this one is a good one.  The doll is in the hands of an evil Wizard named Andrei Anazinov who knows it is special and knows Anya has never aged. He trying to discover its secrets.  So get the doll before the wizard figures out Natasha's immortality.  The adventure overtly makes it about saving Natasha's immortality, but as you read it the real reason is also uncovered, the ancient Witch Queen still loves her little sister. Undoing the immortality would be bad for Natasha, but it is also likely she has many safeguards in place.  It would however kill Anya outright.

I don't want to go too much deeper than this in case potential players read this.  It is a MacGuffin search, but a fun one and a chance to interact with one of the more notorious characters in D&D lore.

Comments on the Adventure

A few comments.  I can completely understand why Natasha wants the doll and Anya back.  I even understand why she wants good adventurers to do it.  I am not sure why someone of Natasha's caliber would a. let the adventurers know who she is and b. what the doll is.  It seems to me that good or evil the party might want to hide or destroy the doll to stop an evil witch queen.  When I run this I am going to need another reason.

The maps are great. I am glad I have to PDF to print them out on my own.

There are some cool new monsters (a must in any adventure) and magic items.  There is even a pronunciation guide. 

New Monsters

One nitpick. None of the pages have page numbers on them. Seems a touch odd, but I can deal.

Sixteen pages are given over to the 8 pre-gen characters.  So that is nice.  There are also tournament scoring sheets.

Adapting for War of the Witch Queens

I bought this adventure with idea of adapting it over to my War of the Witch Queen campaign.  This is not the first "Witch Queen" adventure I have bought, nor will it be my last I am sure.   The fact that it includes Natasha/Iggwilv just makes it more perfect to be honest.

War of the Witch Queens

So here are my changes.

I am not running this as a tournament since I am going to be using OSE-Advanced Fantasy for it. There will be some more tweaks for the rules, but I think it is going to work out just fantastic really.

Natasha/Iggwilv is not going to let the adventurers know who she is or why she wants the doll back.  I am going to have her disguise herself as Elena the Fair and "Elena" will be hiring them to rescue her sister Anya. This way she feels she is not lying about her mission.  In the end, Anya will out "Elena" as Iggwilv, but the terms of their agreement will remain.  Maybe Vasilisa the Beautiful will show up to take Anya.  I have Elena and Vasilisa as two separate characters. 

I love the whole Russian feel to all of this, but I am going to take out Andrei Anazinov and replace him with Kelek.  Kelek has had some dealings with Iggwilv already and he is the "big bad" of the War of the Witch Queens.  I need an adventure to get him in front of the PCs instead of making him a behind the shadows guy.  Andrei is a 14th level wizard. I made Kelek a 15th level magic-user/necromancer.  Also in my games Kelek is looking for ways to make himself ever young, he thinks Anya (not the doll) is the answer.  Kelek is a misanthrope, so kidnapping and experimenting on a little kid is kinda on-brand for him So this all fits.  

Plus I have these great minis to use

There might be other little tweaks along the way. More winter wolves and worgs to be sure. I am certainly going to steal ideas from the newer 5e versions of Iggwilv and Kelek and I am also going to steal ideas from the Pathfinder Witch War series.

The Witch Queens at War

There are more adventures on the casl Entertainment website. Including one, C11 - When Comes the Witching Hour, that looks like it could be Iggwilv on the cover.  So I am going to need to check that one out as well.  Just watched this video and yup, looks like it is! I have to go get it now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Featured Artist: Brian Brinlee

Time for another Featured Artist post.  I discovered today's artist, Brian Brinlee, in one of the fantasy art groups I frequent on Facebook.  He had a great style and something about his art made me think of some of the old D&D books from the late 90s.   So I got him to commission a piece for me I was calling "Tea with the Witches." It featured five witches from various D&D worlds and it takes place in The Simbul's castle in the Forgotten Realms.

Tea with the Witches

Here are the witches pictured. Left to right (clockwise, never widdershins when dealing with witches):

Sagarassi the Sea Witch (Krynn/Dragonlance), Iggwilv the Witch Queen (Oerth/Greyhawk), The Simbul, Witch Queen of Aglarond (Toril/The Forgotten Realms and where this is taking place), Larina (my OC), Feiya the Pathfinder iconic witch (Golarion/Pathfinder).

They are playing Pentacles, a game played with five people using Tarroka cards.

I loved this one so much I wanted to share more of his art with you.

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Art by Brian Brinlee

Brian Brinlee Korra

Brian Brinlee Valkyrie

You can find Brian online on his Facebook, Instagram and DeviantArt pages.

Thanks so much for sharing these with me Brian!

Monday, January 31, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Motherland Fort Salem

I missed a couple of days last week on this.  Busy at the day job.  But I am making up for it today, the last day.  Today I want to feature the witches of Motherland Fort Salem

Season 3 has not started yet and there is a huge push to get a Season 4.  While I do respect the creators to tell their story in a three-season arc, I would love to see more.

If you have not been watching then you are missing out. The show is fantastic really. 

Motherland gives us an alternate history where witches rose up during Salem and forged a pact with the then Colonies to protect the new country from their enemies.  There are fewer states in the US and a large portion, The Cession, was given back to the Native Americans in return for their help and magic.  

The series follows three new witch recruits, Abby, Tally, and Raelle, as they go through Basic Training and later War College and how they survive as a unit.   The show does a great job of featuring both their strengths and their weaknesses and how they work together to be a better whole. 

The show features a full cast of strong, interesting women characters.  The leader of the Army is General Alder, a 300+-year-old witch, their drill sergeant is a woman. Even the President is an African-American woman.  Men are either tertiary characters at best (the Witch-Father) or eye-candy (Abby's two boy toys).  Tally doesn't even see a man until one gives up his seat for her so she can fly from California to Massachusetts.  Not that men are put into a bad light.  The Witch Father is respected and well-liked. Raelle's dad is proud of his daughter and worries about her.  It's just their stories are not as important here.  That's a nice change of pace really.

The witches are also not a Ms. Pac-Man trope. They are warriors, witches but also women and they are allowed to be all three. It really is quite enjoyable and very different from what I have seen in the past. 

I can't wait for Season 3!

In the past, I have stated the witches of the Bellweather Unit/Sekhmet Company for OSR D&D, D&D 5e, and NIGHT SHIFT.  

So here they are again for another show overtly about empowered (and powered up) women, Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, and mixing in bits of Ghosts of Albion RPG

Since magic has a greater role in M:FS than it does in Buffy, I am going to use Ghost of Albion Magic Rules.

Since I missed four days, here are all the characters to make for it (with an extra one)!

Raelle Collar
(Taylor Hickson)

Hero

"I'm in this with you, and we're gonna figure it out together, okay? Whoever you are, whoever you were, I'm in. No matter what happens, no matter what anybody else thinks, I'm with you."

Life Points: 65
Drama Points: 15

Strength 2
Dexterity 4
Constitution 5
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 2

Qualities
Attractiveness (2)
Contacts (2, Amry, Spree)
Hard to Kill 9 (bonded with the Mycelium) 
Immortal (bonded with the Mycelium) 
Nerves of Steel
Soldier
Witch (Magic) (3)
- Magical Philosophy, Fixer (Healer)

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots)
Honorable (2)
Love, Romantic (Scyla)
Obligation (3, Army)

Useful Information
Initiative +4
Observation +5

Height: 5'4" 
Hair:  Blonde
Eyes:  Blue

Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art 2
Computers NA (Tech seems to be about 1980 levels, but no computers)
Crime 2
Doctor 6
Driving 1
Gun-Fu 0 (I have not seen any guns in this universe)
Getting Medieval 4
Influence 3
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 2
Languages 2 (English, Méníshè)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 2
Occultism 4
Science 1
Sports 1


Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +8 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +9 - Defense Action
Scourge +8 7 Attack Action
Windstrike +6 7 Attack Action
Witch Bomb +6 Special Special

Gear
Scourge, Salva

Raelle lived in the part of American known as the Chippewa Cession where the Indigenous Tribal Federations are.  She is a healer of great power like her mother was.  Her mother was reported dead by the Army and Raelle blames the Army and Gen. Bellweather in particular.  She doesn't want to be there and her plan was to get enlisted in the infantry and get killed as soon as possible.  Her attitude earned her the nickname "shitbird" from Abby.

Raelle attitude changed when she met and fell in love with fellow cadet Scylla Ramshorn.

She came in contact with the great mycelium network under Fort Salem and she has bonded to it. This makes her practically immortal.  She has a special attack dubbed "the witch bomb" which lays waste to all around her.  She is hesitant to use it.

--

Tally Craven
(Jessica Sutton)

Hero

"
It's my duty to fight for this country. I think of it more as a privilege. A privilege we witches share."

Life Points: 37
Drama Points: 15

Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Constitution 4
Intelligence 3
Perception 5
Willpower 4

Qualities
Attractiveness (2)
Contacts (1, Army)
Fast Reaction Time
Hard to Kill 1 
Nerves of Steel
Soldier
Witch (Magic) (3)
- Magical Philosophy, Seer

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots)
Honorable (3)
Obligation (3, Army)
Tradition Bound

Useful Information
Initiative +5
Observation +10 (+13 with magic)

Height: 5'6"
Hair: Auburn
Eyes: Brown

Skills
Acrobatics 2
Art 2
Computers NA (Tech seems to be about 1980 levels, but no computers)
Crime 1
Doctor 2
Driving 1
Gun-Fu 0
Getting Medieval 4
Influence 3
Knowledge 4
Kung Fu 2
Languages 2 (English, Méníshè)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 5
Occultism 4
Science 1
Sports 1


Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +7 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +8 - Defense Action
Scourge +7 7 Attack Action
Windstrike +7 7 Attack Action
Sight +13 Special Special

Gear
Scourge, Salva

Tally comes from the depleted Craven line. All her aunts had gone to fight in the Army and they all died.  She is the last of her line. She lived in the Matrifocal Allotment near Sacramento, California. She had not even seen a male until she answered her call of duty, an action her mother strongly wished her not to do.  Her power is to "see." She can detect disguised and hidden objects or people and might be one of the most powerful seers to come up in the ranks in a long time.

Tally is a sweet girl who loves with all her heart because that is what she knows.  She is fiercely loyal to her Unit.

She saved Alder's life when she volunteered to become a Biddie for a short time.  This has given her access to Alders memories.

--

Abigail Bellweather
(Ashley Williams)

Hero

"
Obviously you're familiar with the Bellweather name..."

Life Points: 44
Drama Points: 15

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

Qualities
Attractiveness (2)
Contacts (2, Army, Bellweather family)
Hard to Kill 2 
Nerves of Steel
Resources (10)
Soldier
Status (4)
Witch (Magic) (3)
- Magical Philosophy, Storm magic

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots)
Honorable (3)
Obligation (4, Army)
Tradition Bound

Useful Information
Initiative +3
Observation +6

Height: 5'8" 
Hair:  Brown 
Eyes: Brown  

Skills
Acrobatics 4
Art 0
Computers NA (Tech seems to be about 1980 levels, but no computers)
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 2
Gun-Fu 0
Getting Medieval 4
Influence 4
Knowledge 4
Kung Fu 3
Languages 2 (English, Méníshè)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 3
Occultism 5
Science 1
Sports 1


Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +7 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +8 - Defense Action
Scourge +7 7 Attack Action
Windstrike +7 7 Attack Action
Maelstrom Generation +11 Special Special

Gear
Scourge, Salva

Abigail "Abby" Bellweather, of the East Coast Bellweathers, is the leader of the Bellweather Unit.  She starts out in the show as an arrogant, if even spoiled, girl of privilege. By the end of the series she is the leader she was born to be.  Even her rivalries with Raelle and fellow East Coast witch Libba Swythe become something different as she accepts the responsibility of what being a soldier-witch means.

When the Camarilla targeted her family and killed her cousin she has dedicated her entire training to wiping them out. 

--

Scylla Ramshorn
(Amalia Holm)

Hero, Villan, Anti-Hero

"I like you, okay? I have feelings for you, and they're not something I'm used to having ... not something I'm used to dealing with. I'm a dodger, which means no attachments. Because things go away, we go away."

Life Points: 44
Drama Points: 15

Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Constitution 5
Intelligence 4
Perception 4
Willpower 3

Qualities
Attractiveness (2)
Contacts (1, Spree)
Hard to Kill 2 
Nerves of Steel
Soldier (Dodger)
Witch (Magic) (4)
- Magical Philosophy, Necromancer

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots)
Love, Romantic (Raelle)
Obligation (1, Army)
Obligation (4, The Spree)

Useful Information
Initiative +3
Observation +8

Height: 5'3" 
Hair: Brown 
Eyes: Blue 

Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art 1
Computers NA (Tech seems to be about 1980 levels, but no computers)
Crime 4
Doctor 2
Driving 1
Gun-Fu 0
Getting Medieval 3
Influence 3
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 3
Languages 2 (English, Méníshè)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 4
Occultism 5
Science 1
Sports 1


Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +6 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +7 - Defense Action
Scourge +7 - Attack Action
Windstrike +8 - Attack Action
Other magic +12 Special Special

Gear
Scourge, Salva

Scylla is a "Necro" or a Necromancer.  Because their power makes others uneasy they are quartered in a different part of the base. We learn that Scylla's parents were killed when she was young.   She meets and falls in love with Raelle.  Later we find out she is part of the terrorist organization known as The Spree, responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country.  Her job was to recruit Raelle, but she actually fell in love with her.

Scylla was instrumental in discovering the location and leadership of the local Camarilla faction.  With her help Raelle got to see her mother one more time and now she, along with the Spree, are protecting the Bellwether Unit.

--

General Sarah Alder
(Lyne Renee)

Very Experienced Hero

"Honor me, make a place for me and my kind and we will win your wars."

Life Points: 88
Drama Points: 20

Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Constitution 9 (with biddies)
Intelligence 5
Perception 5
Willpower 4

Qualities
Age (3)
Attractiveness (2)
Contacts (4, Army, Governments)
Fast Reaction Time
Hard to Kill 6 
Nerves of Steel
Soldier
Witch (Magic) (8)
- Magical Philosophy, War magic

Drawbacks
Adversary (lots)
Honorable (3)
Obligation (4, Army)
Tradition Bound

Useful Information
Initiative +5
Observation +9

Height: 5'9"
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue 

Skills
Acrobatics 3
Art 2
Computers NA (Tech seems to be about 1980 levels, but no computers)
Crime 4
Doctor 3
Driving 3
Gun-Fu 
Getting Medieval 9
Influence 7
Knowledge 5
Kung Fu 5
Languages 3 (English, Méníshè, French)
Mr. Fix-it 2
Notice 4
Occultism 9
Science 1
Sports 1

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +12 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +13 - Defense Action
Scourge +17 18 Attack Action
Windstrike +17 18 Attack Action
Other magic +21 Special Special

Gear
Scourge, Salva

Sarah Alder was a survivor of the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th Centuries. She rallied her fellow witches at Salem, Massachusetts and presented the new government with a deal. Save us and we will fight your wars.  The US Government and the Witches have been allies ever since.  

Sarah maintains her youth with her select group of "biddies" or women that have sacrificed their own youth so she may remain forever young.  The biddies and Alder are all connected, much in the way a witch and familiar might be.  Thus Sarah can call on greater magics than her already high level has access to.

Alder appears to die at the end of the last episode of Season 2, but instead we see she has become part of the mycelium network.

--

Damn. Now I want to rewatch all of Season 1 and 2 again!

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge