Friday, February 4, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 4

Episode 4: Under a Cajun Moon

Late Summer / Early Fall 2004
New Orleans, Tara is possessed by the same spirit that had possessed her mother. Learn more about the summer that Bob met Megan.
Special Guests: Eliza Roberts as “Megan O’Kelly / McClay” and Eric Burdon as himself.

Synopsis Willow and Tara arrive in New Orleans. They are still getting used to the idea that Bob is tagging along as a ghost. He keeps reminding them that they need to focus on the mission, the girls remind him they are not on a mission. While sitting outside at a bar enjoying some gumbo (Cajun food was a very big deal for me when working on these adventures), a band begins to play some hypnotic song. Tara, unbidden gets up and begins to dance in a highly erratic fashion. Willow snaps her out of it, but not before she is seen by a tall man with his face painted to look like a skull.

The man is a voodoo priest, known as “Bone Man” and he works for a local crime lord/voodoo practioner Guillaume “Papa” Le Basque.

Papa Le Basque kidnaps Tara, who he sees as a pure conduit to the power of Loa. He takes her to Cottoncrest Manor. Le Basque is a legba hougan seeking the power of the forgotten “dark Loa” he knows is trapped in the manor.

The former owner of this manor was a cruel woman that turned an old slave plantation into a brothel. She eventually tried to burn the place down with all the girls trapped inside to cover her increasing debt. When it later became an insane asylum in the 1950s the women inside were driven to murderous rage to kill any man. Even mild depression became a murderous rampage. The government shut it down after a mother of two went on a rampage and killed 12 inmates and half a dozen staff. Even in notorious NOLA it was never used as a drug den or vampire nest for very long. The last known death was a when teenage couple came to the place after a night of tagging to drop some LSD. The girl who was 16 and described by everyone as shy, butchered her boyfriend. She was discovered days later naked, covered in blood and in a fetal position. She was never the same.

Bob and Megan had been here before and this was their last mission. Most of his team was killed, and Megan was possessed. They thought it was a simple poltergeist. It was a demon lord, Hysterix. A demon that feeds on the despair, fear and pain of women. He was trapped in the burned out house by occultists years ago. Occult Poet Eric Burden remains so he can make sure it does not escape. Le Basque believes Hysterix is a powerful but forgotten Loa. (His corporal form was destroyed, but he bonded with the house).

Bob always felt a little bit of the demon remained in Megan. Hysterix claimed he would have their daughter (they were not married yet, though the demon predicted that Megan’s daughter would be a powerful witch) and her daughters as well. Bob was relieved when Donny was born, but horrified when Tara was born a year later. Bob had to admit his love to Megan to drive the demon out.

The house is filled with the ghosts of all the slaves and prostitutes killed there, of all the people in the asylum, and even memento mori and apparitions of past sufferings. Also illusions created by Hysterix.

Cordy doesn’t want to go in unarmed…she switches to full angelic form. What can I say, the idea of a asskicking angel is just too good to pass up.

Demons feed on fear, uncertainty and doubt, but are repelled by love.
To force the demon out of Tara, Bob (not Willow this time) must confess his love for her and seek her forgiveness.

Part of the episode is also played in flashback with Tara’s player taking on the role of Megan, Bob’s playing Bob, Willow’s playing Nigel and Cordy’s playing the groups medic. The idea here of course is to get the Players to enact the same scene as in the past, with Bob confessing he loves Megan in the past and now making the same confessions to Tara in the present.

Notes: Obviously I wanted to focus on the relationship between Bob and his daughter and Bob and Megan. While Willow is somewhat sidelined in this episode, I came up with the flashback idea to keep her player busy at least. There were still plenty of ghosts in the manor to fight and Cordy and Willow were the only ones with the firepower to do it.

Again, and it may be a dead horse with me now, but I wanted to once again show that there is power, real power, in love. The demon is very much Charmed influenced, with the proclamation of love needing to kill rather than beating on it. The manor is based on this reoccurring nightmare I have had since I was small that I called my “Very Haunted House”. The woman who owned it is still in the house, mummified.

Papa Le Basque is of course killed by the demon, as most human dupes for demons are. But Bone Man, a character from my early Chill days, is still out there. Eric Bourdon appears mostly because I am a fan of “The Animals” and “War” but also due to a documentary I watched about him.

The biggest critique of this episode though came from my players and it is a good one. Basically this is another “Tara in peril” episode. I could not disagree. While I wanted to change things around, the truth is I needed this episode. It sets up the relationship between Bob and the Girls. Had to be done. Plus the demon makes a prediction about the future and that had to be said now. Sure there were other ways I could have done that, but this worked out well enough.

This episode I also introduced some items/plot from my old Chill game.  I had considered running the flashback in Chill, creating characters and having even a little bit of combat.  But that never really panned out.

Next Episode:  Willow, Tara and Bob find Faith in South East Texas hunting Bigfoots with the last person they expected to see in “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Season of the Witch: Interlude

Interlude: When Robert met Megan

Sunnydale, June 1976

"I am telling you I don't like this!" The man said for what may have been the twelfth time that evening. He was young, early or mid twenties. He still had the hair and mannerism of someone who had spent a lifetime in the military. In fact that is how he, Robert Maclay, got his current job as squad commander for S.A.V.E. He lit his cigarette and handed the lighter to his companion who lit his own.

"Well, too bad. Her orders came in from Dublin HQ and a fat all good it does talking to them. Sorry mate, she is our problem now."

"Well I for one have not spent the better part of a year and a half fighting god-knows-what just so I can invite a witch into my group" Robert swore.

"Cleanser." Came a feminine voice. "Cleanser or Craft-Worker, but never a Witch."

Both men turned around to see they had been joined a small, rather unassuming, but attractive woman. She was dressed in hip-hugging bell bottoms, sandals, and a tattered Led Zeppelin concert shirt. Her hair was long and blonde. She looked every bit like all the other California girls they had seen since coming to this hellhole of a town. She carried a burlap bag on one shoulder and wore sunglasses that covered half her face. She took them off to reveal sparkling blue eyes.

"Great." Bob replied. "I ask for a spirit removal expert and S.A.V.E. sends me a kid."

"Hey. I just graduated from Berkeley, I'm no kid. Besides you're like not much older than me anyway." She shot back.

"Oi. Don't listen to him." The other man rose to shake her hand, "Nigel. Nigel Delamort. Don't let the accent fool you, I'm French, not English. I just had the misfortune of having to grow up there. That over there is our fearless leader, Robert Maclay. Don't let the rough exterior fool you, deep down inside he is still every bit the humorless bastard we all know and love."

"Megan" the woman answered back, "Megan O'Kelly. Here are my papers. So. What brings S.A.V.E. to Sunnydale?"

Witch Hunter Robin for Unisystem

I swear I had posted this before, but a quick search brought up nothing.  So here is Witch Hunter Robin for Cinematic Unisystem.  If you are curious to see what else I have done with this character I have done write-ups for OVA, BESM 2r, Witch Girls Adventures and True20.

I worked up this character during during the early days of the working on Ghosts of Albion.  I was working on the magical battles rules and needed someone to try them out with.  I didn't want Willow fighting Tara and I had been watching the WHR fan-subs (and later the DVDs with my wife) I thought Robin would be a good choice.

So here is my full write up on Robin Sena.

Witch Hunter Robin is a fascinating Japanese animation by Sunrise (of Cowboy Bebop and Gundam Wing fame). I am that not much into Anime, but this one was great. A cross between “X-men” and “The X-Files” with parts of the old TV show “The Others” and CJ Carella’s “Witchcraft” thrown in for good measure. Any modern horror gamer should find something here to like. A great tale of government conspiracy, occult themes, and witches. What is not to love about all of that?

The 26 episode series (that is all they were going to make) deals with a witch hunter named Robin Sena.

Fifteen year old Robin is the newest hunter to be assigned to Solomon Toukatsu Nin'idantai (Solomon Executive Organization) – Japan, or STN-J. Robin though is different. She is European-Japanese working in an all Japanese environment (in one episode a co-worker makes fun of her Japanese, in another she eats Miso soup with a spoon). Her early childhood was spent in a convent in Italy. There her life consisted of prayer, chores and learning to use her craft. She dresses in a full-length black dress that is reminiscent of the Victorian age. But that is not what sets her apart.

Robin is a craft-user. A witch.

She is sent to STN-J after the death of another hunter. What Robin is really there for, and what she does are part of the drama and story.

Now “Witch Hunter Robin” is different than most American fare. It is by it’s nature, slower; it takes time to build up to the main plot. We need to see her reactions to the various day-to-day operations of STN-J. Like how she relates to fellow hunter Amon (is she crushing on him? does he want/need to kill her?), or what is the deal with Dojima anyway (great payoff there!). Or why she refuses to use the anti-Witch Orboro guns.

It lacks sex, T&A and some of the things that we have become accustom to on American TV, but the story is first rate. I don’t know much about anime really, but the visual style is fantastic. It is very easy to see this being remade as a live action drama. The musical score is also reminiscent of “the X-files”, haunting, dramatic and really just very, very good.

Robin’s Powers
Robin is a fire-starter, a pyrokinetic. She can create and manipulate fire as a force of will. She can set small fires or large ones at will, or even use her fire to block attacks of a mundane or magical nature.

She also has quite a store of occult knowledge, she knows about magical circles and the histories of various witch-types. So her classical training is a bit better than her co-hunters. She understands witches because she trained as one.

Robin’s weaknesses come in the form of her eyesight. As she uses her magic, her vision blurs. Unless she is wearing her glasses, she can’t see to hit her target.

Witches in Robin’s World
Witches is the world of Witch Hunter Robin are treated as another race of humans, much in the same way that the mutants are in the X-Men. Witches has a specific “witch gene”, which in a sense makes them more like psionicists or mutants rather than witches, but they draw connections with this and the witches of Salem and occult ideas, so an interesting mix to be sure.

The job of Solomon is to “remove” witches and seeds (witches whose powers have not manifested) who use their powers. STN-J’s policy is not to kill witches, but instead they use a drug “Orobo” to nullify their magic and knock them out (In Unisystem I would say one shot per levels of Sorcery, or Magic in BESM). Witches are then carted off to “the Factory”. What happens to them is one of the major plot points of the show, so I won’t reveal it here.

Robin in Your Game
There are a multitude of reasons Robin Sena (or any number of other STN-J agents) could show up in your game. Maybe Solomon HQ is setting up shop to take out the local supernatural population (whether you want them too or not) and in tow is Robin.

Or maybe you decide that Robin strikes out on her own. After all those 26 episodes were in 2002; who knows what she could be doing in 2004. So she ends up in your neck of the woods. Is going to be Hunter or Witch? Well that is for you to decide.

In any case Robin should be one of the most powerful witches in your game despite her age. That is sort of her purpose really. To continue her tale she would be naturally drawn to places with large numbers of supernatural events, whether you have her working for Solomon or not.

Robin is quiet, a little shy and withdrawn. She was shown to be uncomfortable in some situations, but that can be due to understanding the culture she was in. Also Robin is carrying around a few secrets with her, mostly to do with her real reasons for being at STN-J and her own origins. In the show Robin is rarely seen without her glasses when doing magic. She also owns a Vespa scooter and a bike (her driving skills are calculated with these in mind). When not hunting rogue witches she can be found drinking coffee or espressos. Lots of coffee.

Robin Sena

Race: Human
Occupation:Witch Hunter / Witch
Age: 15 (in 2002)
Gender: F
Weight: 105#
Eyes: Green
Hair: Auburn

Mother:Maria, dead
Father:Toudou, dead.
Grandfather(maternal): Juliano Collegrie, priest and high ranking officer of Solomon HQ.
Allies:Amon, Nagira, hunters from STN-J
Enemies:Rogue witches, rival hunters

Languages: Japanese, Italian, English


Strength 2 Intelligence 5
Dexterity 2 Perception 2
Constitution 3 Willpower 6

Life Points: 33
Drama Points: 10

Acrobatics 0
Knowledge 4
Art 1
Kung Fu 1
Computers 1
Languages 4
Crime 3
Mr. Fix-It 0
Doctor 0
Driving 2
Occultism 6
Getting Medieval 1
Science 1
Gun Fu 0
Sports 0
Influence 1
Wild Card 0

Attractiveness 2
Contacts 3
Fast Reaction Time
Hard To Kill 1
Occult Investigator
Occult Library 1
Pyrokinesis 7
Sorcery Level 4

Adversary 5 (witches, rival hunters)
Addiction 1 (Mild, caffeine)
Emotional Problems
Honorable 1
Impaired Sense 1 (Vision when using magic)
Obligation 3 (Solomon, STN-J)
Outcast (foreigner in Japan)
Secret 3 (witch, others)

Useful Information

Initiative 7 +1d10
Perception 6
Additional actions 0
Armor 0

Combat Maneuvers
Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge 3 - Defensive Move
Punch 3 4 Bash
Kick 3 6 Bash
Magic 16 - By Spell type
Pyrokinesis 12 5 x SL Will x SL + Fire Damage
Telekinesis 10

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Allan Quatermain for Ghosts of Albion

Quick one today before we get hit by The Big Snowstorm of 2011.
I liked the character of Allan Quatermain (note the spelling) from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels and knew somewhat of his origins before that (though I have not completely blocked out that bad Richard Chamberlin movie).  Since I have been re-reading a lot of my Victorian era games of late I thought it would be good to bring him out for Ghosts of Albion.

Allan Quatermain
Before adventure went by the name Indiana Jones it was named Allan Quatermain.

Allan Quatermain, Adventurer
Character Type Journeyman

Portrayed by Heath Ledger (1840s) and Sean Connery (1890s and beyond)

Strength 2
Dexterity 5
Constitution 3
Intelligence 3
Perception 6
Willpower 3

Acute Senses (sight) 3
Charisma 2
Contacts (local African, 2; British Military, 2; British Government, 1)
Deadeye, (
Hard to Kill 3
Fast Reaction Time
Nerves of Steel
Renown 1
Resources 4
Situational Awareness

Adversaries (various) 1
Honorable 1
Love (Tragic, Wife)
Mental Problem (Obsession with new, undiscovered lands) 2
Reputation 1

Useful Information
Initiative: 1d10 + 10
Additional Actions: +1 physical

Armed Mayhem 2
Art 0
Athletics 2
Crime 1
Driving/Riding 2
Engineering 1
Fisticuffs 3
Influence 2
Knowledge 2
Languages 2 (English, Swahili)
Marksmanship 5
Notice 3
Occultism 2
Physician 1
Science 1
Wild Card

Manoeuvre Bonus Base Damage Notes
Rifle (spiral bore) +10 22 +2 to damage for Deadeye
-Aiming +15 +1 to aim for Deadeye, +3 for Acute Senses; add SL to Rifle above
Dodge/Parry +7 Defence
Grapple +11 Resisted by dodge
Punch +9 4 Bash

Much has been written about the legendary marksman, hunter, tracker and adventurer Allan Quatermain. But at this point, none of those things have happened yet. He is not yet known as Macumazahn, the "Watcher-by-Night" by the African natives, he hasnt yet grown completely disillusioned with England, and he knows of no league of gentlemen, extraordinary or otherwise.

This is Quatermain at 24 years of age. He has seen some adventures and misadventures (he has already lost his first wife) and now is spending most of his time in Africa. He knows a little bit of the occult so the idea of a Protector is no surprise to him. His goal though is to protect the local population, not the interests of Mother England or her colonies.

It is English colonialism in Africa that awakens some foul beasts left sleeping since Mankind was still trying to survive in the trees. It is here that Quatermain crosses paths with the Protectors of Albion, and they discover that may not be on the same side of this battle. They battle, and realize they have a common foe and join forces to try and stop it.

Like Tamara Swift, Allan Quatermain has fairly progressive ideas for a Victorian Englishman. He is often seen in the books treating women and native Africans as equals and even admitting that they could be wiser than he is. Maybe these ideas began with his affairs with the Swifts. Speaking of which, it would be completely in character for Allan to have a brief but torrid affair with Tamara.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Druthers for Basic era FRPGs

Trying out some more Basic monsters. These are conversions of some d20 ones I have done in the past. Depending on which Basic game/retro-clone you use I have listed Armor Class as both descending (start at 9 and go down) and ascending (start at 10 and go up).

Here is one of my faves, the Druther.
You can also find this guy in my book, The Witch.

AC: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 9d8* (40 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 Limbs (fists or constructed weapons)
Damage: 2d6 / 2d6
Special: Immune to piercing, water and cold-based attacks. Double damage from fire based attacks.
Movement:: 20 ft.
No. Appearing: 1 (1-3 in lair)
Saves: Fighter 9
Morale: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment:: Neutral
XP: 1,200

A Druther is a type of wood golem that can only be created by a witch. The name comes from an old piece of doggerel often muttered by witches,

“If I really had my druthers,
I’d have my wooden druthers too.”

A “Wooden Druther” is a corrupt form of “wouldn’t I’d rathers”, or something the witch doesn’t want. So the Wooden Druther performs tasks that the witch would rather not do herself.

The druther can understand simple command phrases of about 15 words each. Typically druthers are used for menial labor or to perform a task that the witch can not do or won’t do herself, like killing or scaring an enemy. Often a witch will have a few druthers protecting her home while disguised as trees (Wisdom check at -2 to notice).

A druther cannot communicate at all. Some witches have used woody reeds in the construction of their druthers. When the wind blows across the druther it sounds like a deep bassoon.
Druthers can appear in any form. Usually they are biped and always made of wood. The wood can be carved or a collection of sticks tied together. The appendages need to be attached separately if the druther is to move at all. They can be precisely carved to appear as anything the witch wants, but they typically look like walking bunches of sticks. Legend has it that there was a witch that had such beautifully carved druthers that they were often mistaken for wood nymphs.

Treants, dryads, and wood nymphs view a druther in the same manner a human views the undead or a flesh golem. Most will attempt to destroy them when they can. Some witches and wizards value the wood from an inanimate druther to use to make magical fires.

A druther is mindless in combat. It strikes with its wood fists with almost no regard to what else is going on.
As a construct a Druther is immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

Arrows or other piercing items, such as spears or thrust daggers, only do 1 point of damage per hit. Water based attacks have no effect on the druther whatsoever. Fire based attacks always do double damage. Cold based attacks do no damage.

Section 15 Copyright Notice

Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

System Reference Document Copyright 2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks is Copyright© 2003, Timothy S. Brannan and the Netbook of Witches Team.

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Copyright © 2006-2008. Chris Gonnerman.

Labyrinth LordTM. Copyright © 2007, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Druthers for Basic era FRPGs" Copyright ©2011, Timothy S. Brannan

Art is Copyright ©2001 Daniel Brannan and used here by permission.  Art is not open content.

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose for True20

So I have been doing some Tarot posts of late and playing around again with True20 so this should really be a no brainer.  Plus Tarot #66 is now out, so why not.

Now one would expect that her True20 stats should be somewhat similar to her M&M 2nd Ed stats.  But if I build her by the book she ends up a touch weaker.  These are her "by the book stats".  In comparison to her M&M counterpart, this Tarot lives in a more darkly supernatural world, say like that of most modern supernatural novels like The Dresden Files or even the urban fantasy of Kim Harrison.
As typical I am using the Adept's Handbook and the guide to Horror Role-Playing from the True20 Revised book.

I would see her as something like a member of an Occult Guard or a Witch Knight.  Her armor then would be more traditional and ornate, but I would not change the character one bit.

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose

Adept 6 / Warrior 3

STR: 0 INT: +1
DEX: +2 WIS: +1
CON: +1 CHA: +3

Initiative: +2
Defense: +8
Base Attack bonus: +6  (Melee +8, Ranged +8)

Saving Throws
Toughness: +4
Fortitude: +3
Reflex: +5
Will: +8

Virtue: Compassionate
Vice: Impulsive
Calling (Blue Rose): Justice
Reputation: +3

Bluff +5, Climb -3 (armor), Concentration +8, Craft (Blacksmith) +3, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +3, Handle Animal +4, Intimidate +4, Jump -2, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (Occult/Supernatural) +10,  Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10,  Medicine +5, Notice +6, Perform (Ritual) +6, Research +6,  Search +6, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +3, Survival +5

The Talent, Imbue Item, Connected, Weapon Training (Sword), Armor Training (light), Attack Focus (Sword), Iron Will

Object Reading, Wind Walk, Heart Reading,  Elemental Blast, Elemental Resistance, Plane Shift, Ward

Languages: Latin, English
Equipment: Sword of the Goddess, Armor

Conviction: 7

Starts out as an Adept and then picks up some levels in Warrior to cover her training.
Adept powers are based on Charisma.
Philosophy: Witchcraft.

So this Tarot is physically weaker than her M&M counterpart, but still rather powerful for the world she would be in.