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

Monday, November 6, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Strix

 Today's monster is a bit based on creatures like the harpy and siren of Greek and Roman myth with features of the Swan maiden of Northern European lore. I started thinking about what kind of creature this could be. Some sort of bird-woman, either cursed or can transform via a cloak of feathers (like Swan Maidens or Freya), but also would have lived in the environs of the area I am using; the Black Forest region.

This got me thinking about how scary the forest would have been to a pagan in the 6th or 7th centuries. All sorts of monsters live there. Certainly witch-like monsters.  So I decided to adapt another idea I had had. Something of an "Owl Witch" or a Strix.  The name is Latin in origin, and the concept is largely a Norse/Germanic one.



The Strix are a type of evil witch that lives alone in dark woods. They have the ability to transform into large owls. This ability comes from a magical cloak of feathers they can don. Typically they do this at night to hunt for prey; their favorite food is children that wander too close to the forests.

MOVE: 12" [6"/24"]
HIT DICE: 6+12 (39 hp)
% IN LAIR: 90%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 talons or Spell
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d6, 1d6 or by Spell
SPECIAL DEFENSES: None [+1 or better weapon to hit]
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (5')

Strixes are witches that can assume the shape of a large owl via the use of a magical cloak of feathers. The witch is connected to the cloak, and only she can use it.  Numbers in brackets [] indicate her stats in owl form.

The Strix in owl form can attack via two talons on a single target. Three times per day, they can also scream for 4d8 hp of damage, save vs. Spells for half. In this form, she can't use magic.

In her human form, she can cast spells as a witch (or magic-user) of the 5th level. In this form, she can only scream once per day.

It is said that if a man can steal the Strix's cloak of feathers, then she will be forced to marry him. She will be a dutiful wife as long as the feather cloak stays hidden. If she finds it she will devour her children and fly off, never to be seen again.  Any children who manage to live to adulthood will become powerful wizards or shamans. 


Sunday, October 29, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder (2015)

Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder (2015)
 I always do some sort of documentary every October Challenge. This year, I picked one that has been on my list for bit.  This one is not only covers my documentary criteria but also today's theme of Man is the Worst Monster.

Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder (2015)

Part 1 covers the start of the Witch craze (1600) in the British Isles with King James VI and Bailiff David Seaton. 

The torture of Gillis Duncan, Seaton's maid, which set off the witch hunting in Scottland was bad enough but it was a domino effect that killed 100s of innocents. This includes Agnes Sampson who is often considered to be the "witch" that convinced King James VI of Scotland (Later King James I of England) that witches were a threat.

There is some good coverage of the Malleus Maleficarum, but mostly it focuses on the more "local" Demonologie by King James.

Presented by Suzannah Lipscomb a professor emerita of history.  Reading over her CV I am pretty impressed to be honest. 

This one also spends some time on the Pendle Hill witches, a particularly dark time of the English witch trials.  

Part 2 large focuses on Mathew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. We are now in the reign of King Charles I and the British Civil War. The conditions were right to bring about the likes of Hopkins. There is a level of cruelty here that I can scarcely believe. Scratch that. I can believe it. I have been reading this stuff for years. Humans suck.

A direct line is drawn between King James to Hopkins to as far away as the Salem Witch Trails.

By my count this accounts for few hundred murdered. 

Far worse horrors than any horror movie I watched so far.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 32
First Time Views: 22

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Saturday, October 28, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Fear Street (2021)

Fear Street Part One: 1994
Man. Covid-19 sucks. I lack the brain power to properly review these, but I am going to try.

Fear Street is a trilogy of movies released to much hype on Netflix back in 2021. All three are set in the twin towns of Sunnyvale and Shadyside, and the curse of Sarah Fier the local witch, back in 1666. 

The three movies take place in three different times: 1994, 1978, and 1966.  All focus on serial killers attacking and killing Shadysiders every few years, giving it the nickname the Murder Capital of USA. While Shadysiders go crazy and kill each every few years, Sunnyvale has remained crime-free since it's inception.

Fear Street Part One: 1994

We get some background on the Sunnyvale/Shadyside history in the opener and go right into the first murder/killing.  Sadly it is Heather Watkins, played by Maya Hawke. I was looking forward to seeing more of her in this. We shift focus to Shadysider Denna (Kiana Madeira), who is in the midst of a break-up with "Sam." We don't know who Sam is yet, but Deena has some strong feelings, and her friends don't want to run interference for her anymore. There is a memorial for Heather, a Shadysider, and when learn (largely from Deena's brother Josh (Benjamin "Lil' P-Nut" Flores Jr.) that it is only Shadysiders that get killed.  The Shadysiders are there (high school mascot The Witches) and only the Sunnyvale (high school mascot The Devils), but a fight breaks out.  We also learn that Sam is short for Samantha. Sam has stayed in the closet (a much bigger deal in 1994) and moved to Sunnyvale.

While driving back in their bus the Shadysiders are harassed by some Sunnyvalers, with Peter, Sam's new boyfriend, driving. Deena decides to throw out the ice from their cooler, but a spontaneous bloody nose (that she and Sam both get) causes her to drop the cooler and Peter wrecks his car. Sam gets hurt and falls out and bleeds into Sarah's hidden grave.

Now Sarah's curse is in full force and former, previously dead, killers begin to hunt down Denna and her friends, but in truth just Sam. 

While trying to fight the monsters after them they discover more about Sarah Fier and how there was one survivor who saw the witch, C. Berman, from the Camp Nightwing Massacre, in 1978. However, they discover she survived because she had technically died and the killings stopped.  So all they have to do is kill Sam, stop the witch, and bring her back.  They manage to do that and the sheriff, Nick Goode, decides to put the blame on Deena's friends Simon and Kate, since they were known drug dealers. It is obvious Nick knows a lot more than he lets on. 

Later Deena and Sam, reconciled, are back at Deena's but Sam is possessed by Sarah Fier. They subdue her when they get a phone call from C. Berman. 

Fear Street Part Two: 1978
Fear Street Part Two: 1978

This one starts where Part One left off. We now meet C. Christine Berman. She was the only survivor of the Camp Nightwing killing in 1978. 

In 1978, Christine, then called "Ziggy" (and played by Sadie Sink) is a Shadysider fighting with her sister Cindy (played by Emily Rudd) and has a mild crush on Sunnyvaller Nick Goode. That is until Cindy's boyfriend, Tommy, starts killing everyone. 

At first, the camp nurse tries to kill Tommy saying that one way or another he will die. Ziggy finds a book the nurse had kept detailing locations of where Sarah Fier had been buried with notes on what these places are in 1978. Also notes from when her own daughter had been the Shadyside killer years ago.

Using the nurse's map, Cindy discovers an ancient ritual area they believe to have belonged to Sarah Fier, and she even discovers Sarah's hand. They come up with the plan to reunite Sarah's hand with her body and hope that stops the supernatural killings. Ziggy and Cindy, racing against all the killers run to the hanging tree where Sarah was hung and then buried (but we know she isn't there) they bury the hand and then...nothing. They are both killed by the killers who then disappear. Nick Goode runs up and manages to save Ziggy and bring her back. 

Back in 1994, with this new news, Deena and Josh go to the mall (where the hanging tree is) dig up the hand, and rush it out to where the car cashed in the first movie. Deena touches the body of Sarah Fier and suddenly is transported to 1666.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666
Fear Street Part Three: 1666

Back in 1666 and Sarah Fier is living in the town of Union. We are seeing her as if she were Deena, but her reflection is still Sarah's. The townsfolk of Union (the township before it split into Sunnyvale and Shadyside) are a mix of actors from the previous two movies.  Sarah and the other girls in town know of "the old widow" and think she is a witch. They investigate her home hoping to find some herbs for their late-night party. Here Sarah discovers a book of black magic. The witch catches them, and sends them running.

At the party that night we learn that Sarah is also in love with Hannah Miller, the pastor's daughter. While at the party they sneak off to make-out. If this was a social problem in 1994, in 1666 it was enough to get them accused of evil practices...which is exactly what happens here.

The next day Pastor Miller locks all the children in the church, when Solomon Goode breaks in he discovers that Miller has killed all of the children, plucked out all their eyes including his own and left them in a pile on the floor. The townspeople discover it and think that Sarah and Hannah have placed a curse on them as "witches."

They capture Hannah and plan to hang her in the morning. Sarah decides if they are going to hang her as a witch she might as well be a witch, so she goes out to the widow's hoping to get her book on black magic only to find her murdered and the book gone.  She discovers that Solomon Goode has it and had used it to summon devils to do his bidding. 

Sarah, now captured by Solomon, is accused of witchcraft. She will be hung. She promises Solomon that she will haunt him and his offspring until her innocence is proven. She exonerates Hannah so she won't hang, but is hung herself.  After she is dead, her friends come and dig her up and rebury her elsewhere in secret. 

Fear Street Part One: 1994, Part 2

The last part of this movie takes us back to 1994. Deena, now back to herself, knows everything. It was never Sarah Fier that had cursed the twin towns of Sunnyvale and Shadyside but the Goode family's deal with the Devils to be prosperous with the sacrifice of Shadysiders. They learn that they need to kill Sherif Goode.  Break the line and break the curse. The trouble is Goode has figured out they know.

They lure Goode and the resurrected killers out to the mall with more of Sam's blood. 

Not spoil more than I have; Deena gets to the Satanic altar and is caught by Sherrif Goode. They fight, and Goode falls into the pile of collected (and still living) organs. He begins to hallucinate about all the killers. While distracted, Deena kills him. With the Sherrif dead, the curse is broken. Sam is freed and suddenly crime begins happening in Suunyvale.

Sam comes out to her mother, and Josh finally meets the girl he had talking to online and everyone lives happily ever after.  That is until someone steals the satanic tome.

So this trilogy has pretty much everything this month's Challenge is looking for. First Time Watch, Summer Camp, Slasher, New Movie, We Are Weirdos, Teen Angst, Horror Comedy, Best Soundtrack (seriously 1994 and 1978 were both great), and Man is the Real Monster. So yeah. 

Plus they were all really good flicks, a lot of fun and each one captured their time periods and their genre's perfectly. 

The actors were all great, and I kinda hope we get to see Fear Street, Part 4 and more (there are like 100 of the Fear Street books by R. L. Stein).

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 31
First Time Views: 21

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Review: The Last Sabbath RPG

The Last Sabbath RPG
 It's Halloween, and of course, I am always looking to add more spooky games to my collection. If they are witch-themed, then all the better.  Today, I am reviewing the Last Sabbath RPG.  I featured the Kickstarter last year and received my books this past summer.  It is a gorgeous piece of work, but is it a good RPG? Let's find out.

Last Sabbath RPG

Design by Atropo Kelevra and Valentino Sergi. Art and illustrations by Loputyn (Jessica Cioffi). The game was based on Loputyn's artistic vision. Paperback, saddle stitched book. Black & white (with red foil covers). 48 pages.

This is the English translation of the original Italian RPG. 

Last Sabbath is a Masterless, Journalling RPG for 1 to 7 players. Masterless in that no one player is the game master and journalling since the players will write down what their characters (all witches) will do in each scene.

Now, I am not overly familiar with playing Journalling RPGs, but I know what they are in concept. 

In this game, the players all play new witches who have gathered together in a Coven. Why? Well, that is what everyone will find out together. I say up yo seven people since that seems to work well with the structure of the game, but 4 might be more wieldy. It can also be done as a solo RPG experience.

The game offers many aids to move the players (and the characters) along. If this is the Coven's first time playing or this is a solo effort, then the authors suggest using the Scene Prompts instead of the divination techniques. That is a good idea, but the divination techniques add a bit of randomness to the game that I quite like.  So, at this point, what is required of the players are these rules, notebooks to journal in, a d6, and maybe some divination tools. More on those later. While a fancy journal would be a nice touch here, a regular notebook is also good. Since you will be sacrificing memories here as part of game play it is somewhat cathartic to write them down and then tear out the page.

The game setting is whatever you want it to be. That and the nature of the witches involved are entirely up to the players. 

Safety tools are recommended because this game encourages you to push the boundaries. It is all part of the idea that magic is both a gift and a curse. Bad things are going to happen to your character. 

Last Sabbath RPG

Game Play

The game is divided into Seven Scenes. The Call, Initiation, Danger, Investigation, Revelation, Threat, and Epilogue.  Each scene is then divided into 3, 5, or 7 turns (players' choice). When all players have done their Turn, you move on to the next one.

At the end of every scene, one of the Records (what the player wrote down) becomes a Memory. Memories can be sacrificed for Power to fuel their magic. But removing the wrong memory can cause a witch to forget why she is part of the coven. 

Turns are covered with some examples of a 3-round game plane for a Scene. 

Guidelines for play follow. Witches can ask one question of a fellow witch once per turn or answer a question on their turn. If a Power is used, then the affected witch must respond to that power on their turn. 


Without magic, the characters are just people sitting in a circle. And while that would be a fine game, not one I would review here. Power is what makes witches witches.  Power comes in the forms of a Charm, Spell, or an Incantation, each with great effects and greater costs. Some incantations, for example, can cost the witch her life. So yeah, power comes at a cost. Some examples of powers are given, including origin and types. But the details are left to the players to figure out. 


This just gives us a brief idea on how they are to be used. Details are given later with the various types of divination tools.

The Scenes

Half-way through the book we reach the Scenes, or how the game progresses. Anything can happen in a scene including the death of a witch. Players should not worry about that since they can introduce a new witch in the next scene.   Each scene is given some guidelines in the form of leading questions and some prompts. For example, for Scene 1: The Call, one of the prompts is "A call for help is heard in your mind" (paraphrasing). Witches can choose or they can roll a d6. 

All the scenes are handled in similar fashions, with Scene 7: Epilogue as the adventure conclusion. 

Divination Tools

This section covers various divination tools which are broken down by tool with examples for each scene. These include Tarot, Rune stones, Mikado, and Tea Leaves.

Tarot is likely going to be the goto, but there is a certain charm to the Tea Leaves, especially if you have plenty of tea on hand while playing.

Last Sabbath - Grimoire

by Atropo Kelevra and Valentino Sergi. Black & white art with red. 36 pages.

This is a Kickstarter add on for the Last Sabbath RPG. It has additional thematic prompts for the LAst Sabbath RPG. At first I was curious why it was not added to main RPG. But reading through I see why, the prompts are great but should be used sparingly since they could force the game into a direction not set by the players. They are perfect when the players might want some advice on what to do nest, or even for a second play through.

The art of this book is not from Loputyn, though it is good in its own right.

Last Sabbath RPG

Thoughts on this Game

My experience with games like this are a little limited. But this looks like fun and would work great in the hands of the right group. I see this as a good way to spend a rainy afternoon with some like mind friends over pots of hot tea. Save the Dr. Pepper and Doritos for D&D night. This is for orange zest scones and black tea. 

If you are the type that wants really crunchy rules, then I would say this not the game for you. But I recommend you at least check out something like it. 

Thoughts on the Art

The art is striking, evocative and perfect for the feel of this game. This is expected since the game grew out of the artistic vision of Loputyn (Jessica Cioffi). The art might be considered risqué to American audiences, but for European ones, I am sure this is just slightly above comic book fare. 

Art of Last Sabbath

Use as a Session 0

Back when I first talked about this game, I mentioned it as a possible Session 0 for my War of the Witch Queens. I am more convinced about that than ever. 

In fact, I can see this game being interspersed with War of the Witch Queens adventures. Since the overall arc of that campaign is to discover who murdered the High Queen of Witches. 

Tea with the Witch Queens by Brian Brinlee
Tea with the Witch Queens by Brian Brinlee

I have some major NPCs (all posted with stats) that enter into the tale/campaign. For my play test of this I took them and put them all through a couple of scenes of this game to figure out what their motivations will be. It was quite fun, to be honest.

I can also see it working as a Session 0 for a NIGHT SHIFT game consisting mostly of witches. 

While I have the Smith-Waite Tarot deck pictured above, the perfect deck for this will be released next month: the Loputyn Oracle. It is published by Llewellyn Publications, pretty much THE publisher for all things mystical and witchy. Though it only has 32 cards, it should be fine for this game to be sure.

There is a lot of things I can use this game for, and I am looking forward to trying them all.  Now. time to put the kettle on.


Where to buy

Creative Team

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Another one that has been on my list for a bit is 2016's The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Also, because of its director, this time André Øvredal, who gave us the wonderfully fun Trollhunter (2010).  This movie is often classified with other Body Horror movies, and I see why, but it is more of a supernatural horror movie.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The nude body of an unidentified woman is found in the basement of a grisly crime scene and Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton of 'Game of Thrones') wants some answers. The body is taken to the father and son medical examiners Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin Tilden. They are to discover the cause of death by morning.

The woman, Jane Doe (played with exceptional skill by Olwen Kelly, more on her in a bit) has no outward physical signs of death. Her body is slightly cooler than room temperature, her waist is usually small for her frame, and her limbs are still pliable. On close examinations though, things begin to make less and less sense. Her wrists and ankles are fractured, her eyes are milky white, her tongue has been cut out and she is missing a tooth. Again, with no outward signs like bruising.

As they proceed, the local radio station tells us about a huge storm coming (like last night's movie!), and the power goes on an off. Austin cancels his date with his girlfriend to help his dad, and things start getting really creepy.  He thinks he can see "Jane" in mirrors but turns, and she is not there. He hears things, and his dad's cat is found dead.

Moving on to the internal exam, they find her lungs are blackened like she had been burned, her tongue had been cut out, she has lacerations on her heart, poison flowers in her stomach, writing on the inside of her skin, and tearing inside her vagina; not trauma, but tearing. Someone had tortured this woman. They also find a bit of rolled parchment with "ritual" symbols on it and her missing tooth.  Later on, they also discover that her brain is still alive.

The power goes out due to the storm, and when they get it going again, they discover the other corpses are gone, and something is inside with them.  Thinking it was one of the corpses reanimated they kill it with an axe (same as last night!) only to discover it was actually Emma, Austin's girlfriend.

We discover by piecing together the clues that the ritual symbols and Roman numerals are a reference to Leviticus 20:27, and the "1693" is a reference to the Salem Witch trials. They figure she was tortured as a witch and left undying as a means to punish witches. Now she gets people around her to suffer the same pain as she does. So Tommy, to save his son, asks Jane to take him. His wrists and ankles break, he can't talk, and is breathing smoke. Tommy tries to cut out his own tongue but Austin kills him in a mercy. Soon after, he sees his dad's corpse behind him, and he falls to death.

In the morning, the Sheriff returns to three more bodies killed in a similar way as the ones from yesterday. He wants the body of Jane, now whole again, transferred out of his county. We also learn there have been no storms at all. 

We see the medical transport taking her away and as the film ends, her toe twitches.


This movie shares a number of common elements with last nights The Lighthouse. Both are from directors whose previous movies I enjoyed. Both feature minimal casts where the claustrophobia of the setting is as key as any of the supernatural elements. Both deal with death. 

Both also feature minimal, performances from their female costars with no dialog. Olwen Kelly as Jane Doe spends the entire movie laid out on an autopsy table nude and never says a word. She can't even emote, but there is a sense of both vulnerability in her performance and in the end, malice. She might have had the hardest job in the whole cast. 

I am not 100% happy with the ending. The witch angle is fun (and I can do a lot with it) it doesn't explain how or why all of these things were done to her. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 11
First Time Views: 5

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Knight City: Trials of the Teen Witch!

 I love shared universes. I love shared multi-verses. But anytime I can see a collaboration of various creatives to bring new life to something old or bring to life something new, then I am all for it.

Last week, I shared how both TTim Knight over at Hero Press and Pun Issac over at Halls of the Nephilim brought to life my evil villain, The Refrigerator for their respective Superheroe universes. 

I'll play a little in their sandboxes, too and bring over one of my iconics to their worlds. Today I am visiting Knight City with one of my favorite superheroes Taryn, the Teen Wtich.

Tim is using a modified version of Villains & Vigilantes. I am not 100% clear on all his house rules, but I can't go wrong with a by-the-book super. 

Taryn "Nix" Nichols
Taryn and Mojo, created in ePic Character Generator

To recap, Taryn is the teen daughter of my witch Larina. I wanted a character specifically for supers that had a magical background. My comics reading through the 1980s was largely Teen Titans and X-Men ( everyone else) and I wanted a character that would fit into those sorts of tales. 

Her father is a faerie lord, and his relationship with Taryn and Larina is...complicated. He will feature in other plots, but I am working hard NOT to make this a Trigon-Raven retread right now. Scáthaithe would not really be interested in taking over the Earth. Bringing more magic to it? Yeah, that might work. But really, I think his issue would be for Taryn to stay in the Faerie Realms.

While I always considered Taryn a Millenial/GenZ girl, she is named after "Taryn" from the Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Which is my favorite of the series. She is pretty much equal parts Raven from Teen Titans, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service. She has a thing for flying fast and dating guys with fast Japanese motorcycles.

This is an update/revision of her Mighty Protector stats.

Taryn Nix, student and crime fighting witch
Teen Witch
Taryn "Nix" Nichols

Power Level: 6
Age: 17; Ht: 5' 3"; Wt: 114lb; Gender: F
Basic Hits: 3
Side: Good

STR: 9
END: 12
INT: 15
AG: 12
CHA: 17

Hit Points: 7
Power Points: 48
Carry Capacity: 110 lbs
Basic HTH Damage: 1d3
Healing Rate: 0.9/day
Move: 33"

Damage Modifier: +2
Accuracy: +1
ATT: +2
DEF: ??
Detect Hidden/Danger: 12% / 16%


WITCH BOLT: Power Blast, Range 54, 1d20 dmg
HEIGHTENED SENSES: Detect magical auras
MAGIC SPELLS: Takes a full action to prepare


Broom. Prop, needed to fly.

Cat. Her black cat is named Mojo.

LEGAL STATUS: Minor of the United States with no criminal record.

What is Taryn doing in Knight City? No idea! Maybe Tim will let me know!

Friday, September 1, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Artist Edition

 A couple of art Kickstarters this weekend. Both are pretty well known for their witches.

Larry Elmore: The Complete Elmore Volume III hardcover book

Larry Elmore: The Complete Elmore Volume III hardcover book

There is not a D&D player who doesn't know the art of Larry Elmore. I am not even sure what I need to say here.

It's Larry. It's his D&D art. Buy it. 

Broomsticks & Brushwork

A collection of ink illustrations celebrating witches from around the magical world.

This one just looks fun. 

All sorts of little witches. I would have LOVED to grab an original commission, but I can't easily part with $850.  

But it all looks like fun.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 FAVOURITE RPG of all time

 This is a tough one. I have had so many favorites over the years. Each one representing a different point in my life and gaming.

Favorite RPGs

Most of these will be known to readers here.

Basic (B/X) D&D - not the one I started with that would be the Holmes Basic, but the one that got me deep into the hobby.

AD&D 1st Edition - This is the one I played the most in those early days. The Monster Manual was my gateway drug to RPGs coming from Mythology.

Chill 1st Edition - This was either my first or second RPG after D&D (tied with Traveller) but it was my first horror RPG, and it spawned everything after.

Call of Cthulhu - Not my first Horror RPG, but one of my favorites. Really set the bar on what a horror RPG should be.

Masque of the Red Death - not an RPG by itself, and a bit wonky, it did something I always wanted: it brought my AD&D 2nd ed rules to Gothic Victorian Earth and Horror. Ravenloft brought some of this earlier, and both were my game of choice throughout the 90s until D&D-burnout set in and I went to my next big thing. 

CJ Carella's WitchCraft - I can't overestimate how much this RPG changed things for me. The world was close enough to that of Chill, Call of Cthulhu, and Masque of the Red Death that my ideas for those games gained new life under Unisystem. I loved the game so much I pestered the publisher, Eden Studios, to let me write for them. The result was my next favorite.

Ghosts of Albion - while this might be self-serving, it is my favorite for a reason. Everything I wanted in a Unisystem game is here. Victorian era, magic, horror, and Unisystem. I would have happily written for Unisystem for ever if I could have.  Which leads me to my last one and the top of my list.

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars - Again, a little self serving but NIGHT SHIFT is everything I have ever wanted in a game. It combines the best mechanics of all the games above along with a play style I love and in a world, or more to the point worlds, I enjoy.

If I only get to pick one, then it will be NIGHT SHIFT.


I have had the luxury and the privilege to work on a great number of RPGs over the years. Some of which were dream jobs and dream games. I consider myself lucky. But of all of those, NIGHT SHIFT is not just my favorite game, favorite rules, and favorite setting; it was also my favorite writing experience. Only Ghosts of Albion and my various Witch books come close.

Thank you, Dave Chapman for hosting this again! I had a great time.


Monday, August 28, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 SCARIEST game you've played

 Scares do not come easy to me anymore. I consume horror movies like most people watch sitcoms (and laugh as much), nearly all my non-D&D games are horror and a fair amount of my D&D ones are as well.  So for a game to REALLY scare me, it has to be special. And it is usually NOT due to the rules being used.

Case in point. My online games from 2006 to 2009 that I called "Vacation in Vancouver."  I played it starting with WitchCraft and then moved over to True20 (a game not known for its horror).

True20True20 Adepts Handbook

The hook was that members of Vancouver's supernatural community were going missing.  Long story short, there was this entire underground where vampyres, demons, and witches were getting together and engaging in all sorts of lewd sexual acts in exchange for essence.  After a while, even open acts of magic were considered acceptable.

The game, though was not really about sex or even depravity (there was a lot of sexual slavery going on and it was hard to know who was using who), but about addiction and losing yourself.

A couple of characters had to be literally pulled back from the edge.

As a role-playing experience, it was intense.  There was not much combat, to be honest.  Part of that was out of choice (the characters were investigators, not thugs) and part out of necessity (combats online can be dull, even in Unisystem).

The game ended like many others, not with a big finale but gradually dying off.

The mystery of where all the supernaturals were going was solved, but not the one of the demonic sex trafficking. The demons never actually killed anyone. In fact, they seemed to be concerned for the welfare of the Gifted and Lesser Gifted in their "care".  And there were plenty of volunteers for the demons, too, since the exchange of Essence was pleasurable for both (but only humans can 'regenerate' Essence).

There were some very interesting games, though, that came from all of that.  It was one of those rare RPG moments where the bad guys might have won, and there was nothing the PCs/Cast could do about it.  While the game was fun and provided some of the best pure Horror roleplaying I have run in a long time, I am just not sure how it could even be revisited.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite CHARACTER SHEET

 Like games and dice I have a few favorite character sheets.  Though I will admit my all time favorite is a blank sheet. because at that point the potential is limitless!

Willow & Tara sheet

My "Willow & Tara RPG" sheet. I made this one myself for my combined Buffy/WitchCraft/Ghosts of Albion game. It had details for all three games so characters could easily move between the rules.

WitchCraft RPG Sheet

Likewise, I had a WitchCraft variant I used that also had similar information.

Mage Sheet

I love Mage, and the Sorcerer's Crusade sheet is one of my favorites.

D&D Basic

For pure nostalgia sake I love the Green D&D Basic sheets.

AD&D 1st Ed

AD&D 1st Ed

And the AD&D 1st Ed sheets too.

Though my own Witch character sheets are my most favorite of all.

Witch Sheets


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 COOLEST looking RPG product / book

 In addition to August being #RPGaDay2023 it is also #30yearsofMage. I knew Mage was going to come into this at some point and today is that day!

Mage the Ascension, especially in it's 20th Anniversary Edition format is one of the coolest-looking RPGs ever.

From its leather cover, to full-color art, to the ribbon bookmark (I am a sucker for a ribbon bookmark) and gilded edges it is one hell of an attractive book.

Mage Leather cover

Mage color art

Mage color art and ribbon

Mage color art

Mage color art

Mage guilded pages

Not to be ignored is one of my personal favorite versions of Mage, Mage for the Victorian Era.

Victorian Age Mage

Victorian Age Mage

Victorian Age Mage

Additionally, all the Mage books I own (all Mage: The Ascension, I unloaded Mage: The Awakening years ago) are not just fantastic to look at, they are great games too.

Mage: the Ascension

I do wish I could play it more often. 


Monday, August 21, 2023

Monstrous Monday: The Demon Prince Akelarre

 Akelarre is a demon that has kinda always been with me in one form or another. He has had a variety of names over the years, but in all cases, he has been a large goat-headed demon whose main reason for being is to corrupt witches.  He is based on the various Demon-Goat creatures, mostly featured in the witch sabbat paintings of Francisco Goya.



Akelarre is the Basque word (where Goya is from) for a Witches' Sabbath.  The name of both of these paintings from Goya is "Akelarre."

I wanted a new demon lord, one associated with evil witches. The role in my games in the past has largely been filled by Graz'zt and others. But I wanted someone I had more creative control over. I also wanted someone that was also like Éliphas Lévi's Baphomet.  He will serve as the witches' "Dark Man" as mentioned in many witchcraft trials. In Europe that was always considered to be the Devil or a at the very least a high-level demon.  

Demon Lord Akelarre
My print of Alelarre with Larina for scale

Akelarre, Demon Prince
Huge Demon (Evil, demon)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: -2 [21]
Hit Dice: 20d8+80******** (170 hp)
 Huge: 20d12+80******** (210 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 6 (+13)
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6+3), 2 claws (1d6+3 x2), or by weapon or breath weapon or by spell
Special: Breath weapons, capsize, digestive acid, swallow whole, dominate and summon water-borne creatures,+3 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire, electricity, and poison, magic resistance (100%), telepathy 100 ft.
Saves:  D2 W2 P2 B3 S4 SS3 (20)
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: W, Y, Z
XP: 16,003 (OSE) 11,450 (LL) 6,800 (S&W)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con:  22 (+4) Int: 20 (+4) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 20 (+4)

Akelarre appears as a large goat-headed humanoid. On his brow is a burning crown. His heavily muscled form is covered in dark gray fur. His hands end in vicious-looking claws, and his feet are cloven hooves made of gold. He smells of animals and brimstone. His voice is high but melodious and comforting.

This demon avoids interactions with other demons and instead focuses on growing his cult on the Material Plane. He is known as the Demon of the Witches' Sabbat and he eitehr attends himself or via proxy when he can. Here, once per year, he gathers his witches for revels of feasting, sacrifices, and all sorts of debaucheries. He flies to these via magic once the sun has set. It is claimed that it is impossible to know if it is genuinely Akelarre at a sabbat, a high priest, or even a goat he has possessed for the night, save for when the sun rises. The true Akelarre will flee before the sun, a possessed man or goat will revert in the morning light. 

Akelarre can fight, though he prefers not to do so. He can attack with bite and claw or a weapon. Most often, he prefers to cast spells. He can cast any Magic-User spell and has the casting ability of an 18th-level caster. He can also breathe fire 3 times per night, doing 6d8 hp of damage, save vs. Breath Weapons for half.  He has a Charm gaze that can Charm Person at will, save vs. spells to negate. He can also use this power to charm animals with no save granted. Magic is needed to hit Akelarre, whether by spell or by weapons. A +2 weapon is needed. Like many demons, he is immune to mundane fire and mind-affecting magic. He takes half damage from magic or dragon fire, cold, electricity, or gas-based attacks. 

As the Demon Prince of Witches, Akelarre teaches witches of the demonic traditions of their craft. He sends out demon familiars in the form of normal but evil and lascivious in nature.  Offspring of these familiars and normal animals tend to be more wild and prone to attacking humans. His court comprises satyrs of the more feral natures, succubi, warlocks, and witches. He has no dealings with the undead.

Akelarre is a highly charismatic demon, and his honeyed words sound like the voice of a friend or lover promising you everything you desire and more.  There is a great rivalry between the demon Akelarre and the devil Abraxas.  Each seeks to find more magical tomes than the other, and they instruct their respective warlocks to do the same.  

Akelarre as a Patron: Akelarre believes that the pleasures of the world are the best reward and the pleasures of the flesh most of all. He typically grants his witches and warlocks the ability to summon demonic spirits for their pleasures, the ability to conjure up feasts as needed, and of course, grants them gold on signing their pact. Witches and Warlocks of Akelarre gain a Charm Person and Glamour-like powers they can use once per day. 

The Demon Prince Akelarre

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite LICENSED RPG

 Licensed RPGs can either be really great or less so. 

One of my favorites might sound self-serving, but it is my favorite.

Ghosts of Albion

Ghosts of Albion

I have to admit it is my favorite because everything I wanted is there somewhere. A system I love, in a time period I love and I got to work with some really great people too.


Friday, August 18, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite game SYSTEM

 Favorite game system? Well, I have two, but they are related.

NIGHT SHIFT and WitchCraft

NIGHT SHIFT with O.G.R.E.S. and WitchCraft with Unisystem are not just my two favorite games but also my favorite game systems to use.

Both let me play my favorite sort of game; a modern urban supernatural horror one, but they are both systems I like and have written for professionally.

NIGHT SHIFT is largely a love letter to both Old-school D&D and to WitchCraft. 

I love them both.