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

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The Enchanted World: The Secret Arts

The Enchanted World: The Secret Arts
 I was going to do this one last night, but since my A to Z was still going strong I thought today would be better. Plus, it helps me transition from last month's topic.

Magic is discussed a lot in the Enchanted World series and 1987's The Secret Arts is no different. Maybe because it is one of the last (second to last, really) entries, it does feel a little different.

The Secret Arts 

by Editors of Time-LIFE Books, 1987 (144 pages)
ISBN 0809452855, 0809452863  (US Editions)

Unlike the previous editions, this one is divided into seven chapters, each dedicated to a type of magical practice. 

Chapter One: The Power of the Word 

Magic scrolls, books and words are the tools of trade of these magic-users. We start with the papyri of Ancient Egypt, dedicated to the God Thoth the inventor of writing. We read tales of the mage Nefrekeptah and the lengths he went to gain the Book of Thoth. Even creating souless, deathless makins to travel under the Nile to dig up the vault where the book was held. Though all his efforts only lead to his ruin. In this early tale of magic, we learn there are "things man was not meant to know."

Chapter One: The Power of the Word

Our journey takes us to Renaissance Europe to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, better known more simply as Agrippa. His challenges were no less than Nefrekeptah's and the secrets he sought were too dangerous for him to take on other students. These tales are repeated throughout history as more would be mages sought out more powerful magic words.

Chapter Two: Decoding Destiny 

This chapter covers divination is all it varied means. Casting lots, shapes in smoke, palmistry, the entrails of animals, and the drug or poison-induced trances of oracles. One thing these all have in common, is the future was truly unknown and unknowable. 

Chapter Two: Decoding Destiny

We get into a bit of history about the Tarot and various "magic squares" where magic gives way to math. Which is pretty close to real magic. This leads us to the Number 13 and all its magical conontations. 

Chapter Three: Arcane Harmonies 

In the first book, Wizards and Witches,  we are introduced to the power wizard and singer Väinämöinen. He returns for this chapter on the magic of music. We see how old Väinämöinen makes his magical harp from the jaw bone of a giant pike. 

Chapter Three: Arcane Harmonies

We see magic in other instruments, like the pipes of Pan and all sorts of harps. The lute of Celtic magicians/musicians. And we hear again about the violin-playing prowess of the Devil himself. Even the horns of ancient armies and the bells of churches are considered to be a type of magic. Each being used to ward off evil. Bells were used quite a bit, from the church bells to even small bells that were used to by the superstitious to ward off evil spirits, demons and faeries. 

Chapter Four: The Witch's Kitchen 

No mighty armies. No ancient wise wizards. This is the simple homespun magic of the Kitchen Witch. The symbolism of the witch over cauldron is almost as common as the witch on her broom. But not just witches stirred the cauldron, this is an image that goes back to Celtic myth and even before. What sorts of brew come out of those cauldrons? I suppose this is often why the ancient words for "Witch" and "Poisoner" were often confused. However, some of those potions did have a magic of sorts. 

Chapter Four: The Witch's Kitchen

It is often believed that many of the balms, potions, poultices, and ointments had a mild (or strong in some cases) psychotropic effect. Could images of faeries, demons, ghosts and the like be more akin to an LSD trip? Seems likely. 

Chapter Five: Lapidary Lore 

The power of stones and crystals is so pervasive that even Dr. Jung talked about it as a universal symbol. Stones harder than diamonds, metals with associations to the various heavenly bodies, and healing stones were common everywhere. Not to mention all the attention given by alchemists to transmute a base metal to gold, considered to be pure and nearly divine. This transmutation was symbolic, if it could be done then the transmutation of our "base metal" to something "divine" could also be achieved. 

Chapter Five: Lapidary Lore

Chapter Six: Mirrors and Metals 

Continuing the themes of metals, this one deals more with reflective surfaces. Though there is a good bit on how swords could, via the metal worked by the blacksmith, take on personalities of their own.

Chapter Six: Mirrors and Metals

Chapter Seven: A Magician's Arsenal 

Less weapons, and more tools of the trade. Books, herbs, and stones have been mentioned already. This includes how magic wands are made, or divining rods, or fetishes. Magical staffs held by kings and wizards alike are mentioned.

Chapter Seven: A Magician's Arsenal

This one has a lot going on in it. There is a feel of "this is the end of the series and we have all this stuff left over" but it is still fun read. I enjoyed the bit on magical swords gaining personality and had never really thought about where that idea came from in myths. 

Next time: We celebrate My Mom for Mother's Day and what she has contributed to my blog!

Friday, April 26, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: W is for Witch

 Of course, I was going to do this.

I talk a lot about witches here. I mean a crazy amount. It is by far my most commonly used post-label. I am obsessed, and I don't apologize for it.

Witch Books

"What is it with you and Witches?"
- My mom, some years back.

I think if I have to point to something in my childhood it was the Wicked Witch of the West. My parents said I was frightened of her when I first saw The Wizard of Oz. I was likely 3-4 at the time. But I don't think scared was the right word. Fascinated. Enthralled. Spellbound. Those are the words I would use. 

We had an old "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" book back when I was a kid. I was younger than five. I know this because we had moved into a larger house and these memories are in the older house. Yes...I know memories are fluid, but I am 99.98% confident of this one. I remember looking at pictures of the WWotW in this book and those are the ones I loved the most.  

I remember Witchie-Poo from "HR Puffinstuff," but I never really liked her. Any time a witch appeared on a TV show, I was excited.

Then there was Angelique Bouchard of "Dark Shadows."  Played by Lara Parker in the original series she was blonde, sexy, and wonderfully evil. I loved her.  She would be played by Lysette Anthony in the 1991 reboot, and by Eva Green in the otherwise awful 2012 movie. 

This began a love affair that has lasted my entire life. I can't explain it, and honestly, I don't feel the need to. 

So, how does this relate to Dungeons & Dragons? Glad you asked!

Witches in Dungeons & Dragons

My history with D&D is a long one, and it began in 1979, when I first read the AD&D Monster Manual. Soon after I was able to get my hands on a poorly Xeroxed copy of the Holmes Basic book. And what treats did I find?

Holmes Witch in AD&D

A witch class? A proper Witch?

Of course, by the time I saw this in late 1979/early 1980, the AD&D Player's Handbook was already out, and there was no witch class. All those others were there, but no witch. 

That was fine; I had so much to do that I didn't even notice its absence. However, I did notice something. Around age 11 (1981 or so) I began making characters that had a decidedly "witch" cast to them. A Pagan cleric, an alluring Illusionist, and then I made "Marissia" (yes, that is how I spelled it).

I have called Marissia my "First Witch."  She wasn't, but she is the first one I committed to paper as a witch. Her name comes from me mishearing the Jerry Reed version of "Pretty Mary Sunlight."  I thought he was saying "Pretty Marissa mine."  Hey, I was young and I am certain I had heard it from The New Scooby-Doo Movies.  In fact, a lot of my early ideas about witches came from Scooby-Doo. It is also very, very likely I based her and her name also on Millissa Wilcox, The Ghost Witch of Salem, from the Scooby-Doo episode "To Switch a Witch." An interesting episode since it featured a gravestone for the witch with a Leviathan Cross on it.   I mean seriously, a goddamn Leviathan Cross in 1978? That was a ballsy move on the eve of the Satanic Panic.

Millissa Wilcox, The Ghost Witch of Salem, from the Scooby-Doo episode "To Switch a Witch."

Eventually, all of this would take me to 1986 the year I made my first witch class for AD&D. I have documented this time and again here, but it corresponds to my first proper witch character, Larina.  She is the character I also use for my own witch experiments in other games.

I first rolled her up in July of 1986. At first, she was a "magic-user," and I would play her like a witch. She had a few adventures that year, but that was also when my then DM was heading out of town, and I was getting ready for my senior year at high school. 

Then Dragon Magazine #114 came out in October, and it had its own Witch class. 

I read it all over and wondered how or if I should convert her. The answer became obvious to me right away. She was a witch, only pretending to be a wizard so she could go to Glantri's School of Magic. I kept her magic-user levels and then went on to advance her as a Dragon #114 witch. In the game, I said she ran out of money to keep going, so instead, she got a job at the library in hopes of paying her tuition. 

I updated her sheet and declared her birthday was October 25, but she tells everyone it was October 31st.

I have since used witches more and more in my games and I even wrote all these books about how to play witches in D&D, each one looking at a different sort of witch. In my mind, each of these different types was called a Tradition, and each Tradition was reigned over by a Witch Queen.

This has also led to my use of various Witch Queens and my campaign The War of the Witch Queens.

Honestly, there is too much to say in one post on this subject. But if witches are your thing then you have come to the right place.

Tomorrow is X Day, and I am going with something that is new to me as well! The crime lord Xanathar.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Larina Nix for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

 While working on my post for earlier today on Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, I can't help but think about the lost opportunities that game had. I read through the books and they are barely used compared to my 1st and 5th Edition books. Though if you scratch the surface of 5e you will find some 4e DNA.

Dungeons & Dragons 4e books for Witches

It is too bad, really, since 4e had a lot going for it. Or maybe I had invested a lot in some of the ideas that came out at the same time as 4e. I mean, if I am honest, there isn't anything I can do in 4e that I also couldn't do in 5e or BECMI, really. In any case, while going over my 4e materials, I did uncover all sorts of neat ideas. After all, this edition gave birth to my warlock character Taryn

But I am not here to talk about Taryn. I am here to talk about her mother, my witch Larina.

Witches in D&D 4e

4e is notable for giving us a proper witch class in Heroes of the Feywild. is a type of Wizard, but one that learned in the Feywild, aka D&D's Land of Faerie. Honestly, that works for me. I mean, I know Larina spent a long time in the Feywild, met the Faerie Lord Scáthaithe, and gave birth to Taryn. So doing all my D&D 4 playing in the Feywild would work, it would explain why magic is different in this edition.

So that all works. I know I am going to get a warlock out of the process with Taryn, but what else? I spent some time here stating up some characters for 4e and 4e Essentials, but character building by hand with this game, especially a high-level character, is a long process. It was a fun process, don't get me wrong, but long. I just forgot how many character options there are for later 4e characters. 

Here are some of the characters I did when 4e was still active. There are few witches here along with some classics.

  • Aleena, the Cleric from D&D Basic (Mentzer)
  • Morgan Ironwolf, the Fighter from D&D Basic (Moldvay)
  • Hex, the Dark Elf witch from Skylanders
  • Skylla, the "Evil Magic-user" from the D&D toy line.
  • Eireann, a "proto-Sinéad" concept who now has a life of her own.

While these each took some time, each one was a really fun build. So much, really, that I could see myself running some sort of one-shot for 4e set in Feywild.  I will get to doing stats for Sinéad and Taryn for 4e when I discuss the 4e Forgotten Realms.

Larina Nix for 4e

Larina is, as always, a test-bed character for me. In 3e when I first started I tried her out as an "out of the box" sorcerer. When 4e came out I tried her as a Warlock. But Larina is no sorcerer and certainly not a warlock. I know these differences are largely academic, but I am the academic who cares about them.

Thankfully my 4e experiments could move on with Taryn who IS a warlock. Eventually, the Heroes of the Feywild book came out and solved my problems.

For this build, I am going to use the following books.

Heroes of the Feywild is the main book, but I am also taking powers, feats, and ideas from the others. There are other books I could have used, but I wanted to limit myself to these. There is a third-party witch book, World of the Witch, that is quite good, but I wanted to stick to the official WotC books this time.

For this build, I went all out. This is Larina as a 30th-level Queen of Witches (the Epic Destiny in the book). I figured...what the hell, go fo it.

Given that in 4e, newer powers replace older ones, I just built the character backward. So, I started at what she gets as the 30th level and worked my way down. I didn't have to do a lot because while going through all my notes and character sheets, I found character sheets for her at 1st (several of these), 7th, 13th, and 25th levels. Differences exist between all of these, but all in all, I got a pretty good picture of what I wanted to do.  

Larina Nix, Witch Queen
Larina Nix, Witch Queen

30th-level Female Human Witch (Wizard)
Unaligned (Lawful Neutral)
Class: Witch (Full Moon Coven)
Paragon Path: Legendary Witch
Epic Destiny: Witch Queen

Strength: 12 +1
Constitution: 16 +3
Dexterity: 16 +3
Intelligence: 22 +6
Wisdom: 22 +6
Charisma: 20 +5

Initiative: +18
Speed: 6 (30ft)
Hit Points: 155
Bloodied 77
Healing surges: 38hp

AC: 36
Fortitude: 33
Reflex: 36
Will: 38

Vision: Normal
Passive Insight: 31
Passive Perception: 31

Acrobatics +18, Arcana +29, Athletics +16, Bluff +23, Diplomacy +24, Dungeoneering +21, Endurance +18, Heal +28, History +26, Insight +21, Intimidate +25, Nature +21, Perception +21, Religion +26, Stealth +18, Streetwise +20, Thievery +18

Human: Linguist, Toughness, Implement Focus, Fey Bond, Combat Medic, Armor Proficiency: Leather, Skill Focus: Arcana, Improved Defences, Familar Utility, Enlarge Spell, Arcane Resources, Ritual Caster, Arcane Mastery, Irresistible Flame, Arcane Fire, Pact Initiate: Warlock (Fey), Spell Accuracy, Nightmare Wizardry, Arcane Ritualist

Familiar, Witch Cantrips (3), Bonus Skill: Healing, Full Moon Coven, Favor of the Moon, Move Coven Action, Witch Apotheosis, Witch Queen Presence, Pact Initiate (Fey Pact Warlock)

Common, Goblin, Elven, Draconis, Primordial, Sylvan

Powers (Spells)
Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation

Bonus: Ray of Frost, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d6+6 cold damage
Breath of Night, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d10+6 damage
Witch Bolt, +6 vs Reflex, 2d10+6 damage

Warlock: Eye Bite, +5 vs Will, 2d6+5 psychic damage
Madness of the Full Moon, +6 vs Will, 2d10+6 psychic damage
Night Tempest, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d8+6 cold damage, knocked back 5 squares
Chain Lightning, +6 vs Reflex, 4d6+6, 2d6+5, 1d6+6 lightning damage
Supreme Glorious Presence, +6 vs Will, 4d6+6 damage, target knocked back, Allies heal

Acid Wave, +6 vs Reflex, 5d6+6 acid damage, 10 ongoing
Unicorn Form, Polymorph, secondary 5d8+6, push 1 square
Prismatic Wall
Herbal Healing
Witch Thorns
Moonlight Mischief, teleport 6 squares
Ride the Night Wind, Fly 8, +2 to Reflex
Umbral Stride, phase, move 10 squares
True Prophecy, +2 to all rolls

Arcane Barrier, Comprehend Language, Consult Mystic Sages, Consult Oracle, Enchant Magic Item, Eye of Warning, Guards and Wards, Hand of Fate, Magic Circle, Magic Map, Object Reading, Remove Affliction, Telepathic Bond, Wizard's Sight

Staff, books, dagger, shoulder bag, leather armor +6, Bracers of Defense, Ring of Wizardry, Cloak of Feywild Escape, Broom of Flying, Elven Boots


So I really like this build. If I were still playing 4e I might house rule that some of the other witch spells from other games could be rituals. That is the easiest way to bring them in. 

She has a lot of feats, just the reality of 4e. But I was able to do some interesting things with them that have great in-universe and in-character explanations.  Linguist and Toughness are the ones she always takes. She is the party translator and "face." Because of that she is usually in front where the action is, so she needs to survive long enough to be powerful enough on her own. Feats to make her magic more potent, to be more fiery, and things like that.

But two in particular are really fun. Fey Bond and Pact Intitate. I had plans to do a Feywild-centric set of adventures for some time. The more I work on 4e versions of Larina, Taryn, and Sinéad, the more I want to do it, and do it with 4e. These two feats then represent her time in the Feywild and her bond with Faerie Lord Scáthaithe, who would become the father of her daughter Taryn and Taryn's Warlock Patron.  I know I said above that Larina was a lot of things, but no warlock. Well... a lot of her earlier sheets were warlocks. The way 4e does multi-classing is very different than the other versions of D&D, so it's not like she is a true Warlock, just a dabbler.

Scáthaithe and an impressionable young witch
Scáthaithe the Knight of Swords and a young Larina

I look forward to digging up my 4e sheets on Taryn and making some new ones for Sinéad.

Maybe I should get that Feywild 4e game going sometime. That sounds like a lot of fun.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Witches and Wizardry

 Ah. Two of my favorite topics. Let's see what this weekend has in store for us on the Kickstarter front.

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

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

The next comic in Kat Calamia and Phil Falco's "Ever After Verse" features two of my all-time favorite witches. The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch.  I love this "Wicked" inspired cover too. The story should be fun and I am always here for a retelling of the Wizard of Oz story.

If it is half as good as their other entries into this shared universe then it should be a blast.

Can't wait to see it really.

Swords & Wizardry: Expansions, Monsters, and More!

Swords & Wizardry: Expansions, Monsters, and More!

Swords & Wizardry is back with a brand new edition...wait, I almost Vanilla Iced this. Starting over.  

Swords & Wizard had a great Kickstarter a while back a produced some really attractive books. This expansion set looks every bit as good and hopefully will be a viable option for folks wanting to try new games, other than D&D. 

This is the best version of Swords & Wizardry I have seen so far. I wish the game a lot of success.

#AtoZChallenge2024: Q is for Queens

 I have an inordinate amount of Queens in my games. I am going to talk about two groups in particular, the Vampire Queens and the Witch Queens.

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

Both groups are near and dear to my heart and make up a lot of my game worlds' backgrounds.

The Vampire Queens

The vampire queens have a special connection to my early days of gaming. They are:

I have been using vampire queens in my adventures for as long as I can remember. I recall reading lurid tales of Erzsébet Báthory and watching movies like "Daughters of Darkness" and "Countess Dracula." I had worked on a very early vampire queen, who was going to be called "Miriam" thanks to "The Hunger" for my Ravenloft games (see tomorrow), but I kept coming up with so many ideas. Miriam is still out there, even if many of her aspects are now part of Darlessa. The non-vampire parts of Miriam survived as my Witch Queen Miriam

In truth I kind of use them all interchangeably, with some emphasis on Darlessa. As they have all evolved in my games, I am slowly sifting out which traits belong to which queen. 

Interestingly enough, both Darlessa and Xaltana are also both Witch Queens. Xaltana combines Iggwilv (a witch queen) and Drelzna her vampire daughter.  

The Witch Queens

While the Vampire Queens are here to challenge the characters as adversaries, the Witch Queens play a much different and far more wide-reaching role. 

This began as an idea of me finding and then stating up every witch ever mentioned in the pages of a D&D or related game. The premise here was that every 13 years the witches of these worlds would meet in one place to discuss what they are up to in their worlds and plan to generally stay out of each other's way. The gathering, known as the Tredecim, became a big part of my games. At the Tredecim, the 13 ruling witches then choose a new High Witch Queen to serve over the next 13 years.  In my campaign, War of the Witch Queens, the then-current High Witch Queen is murdered before a new one can be chosen. This sends the witches into war against each other, but due to their pacts with Baba Yaga, they can't outright fight each other. So, all their worlds get dragged into the conflict.  This includes the characters.

The characters learn first that a once-in-a-century storm has destroyed their home, and they are refugees helping move their fellow town folk to a new home in East Haven. While their first obvious goal is to stop all the weird happenings going on in their own world, they discover these events are playing out across the worlds. To stop it, they need to stop the all-powerful Witch Queens, but to do that, they will need to discover who murdered the High Queen, how, and why.

Since I started working on this and developing it more and more, I have gone over 13 Witch Queens and my planned 13 Adventures. I am using Basic B/X D&D as my rules of choice here, which limits the levels characters can achieve to 14. 

I am running it with my family now, but I'd also like to run it for a dedicated group someday.  I think for that I would take all the adventures I am using for it and edit them all a bit. 

If I keep the levels 1-14 then the obvious choice is D&D Basic B/X.  If I expand it all to level 20 then my choice will be Castles & Crusades.

Either way, I have a lot to look forward to!

Tomorrow is R Day, and I am going with the campaign setting I ran for all of the AD&D 2nd Edition era, Ravenloft.

OH? Like the art of my Witch Queens up there? The artist is Brian Brinlee and he has a Kickstarter of his new art book going on now! Check it out.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

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.