Saturday, April 5, 2014

A to Z of Witches. E

E is for Enchantment

An enchantment is a type of spell.  Defined as something to charm or bewitch.
In this context it sounds custom made for witches.

Enchantment is also in the D&D family of RPGs a School of Magic.
According to Wikipedia:
Enchantment or Enchantment/Charm
This school, known as Enchantment/Charm prior to 3rd edition and Enchantment in 3rd and 3.5 editions, changed dramatically in 3rd edition, when all non-mind-affecting spells were removed from the school and many were moved to Transmutation. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, all Enchantment spells are mind-affecting and Enchantment is divided into two subschools: compulsion and charm. Charm spells, such as Charm Person or Symbol of Persuasion, affect the targets' attitudes, usually making them act more favorably toward the caster. Compulsion spells such as Confusion, Dominate Monster, Feeblemind, Sleep, Suggestion or Zone of Truth, can force the targets' to act in a certain way or avoid certain actions, affect the targets' emotions or affect the targets' minds in other ways. The Compulsion subschool also includes buffs, such as Aid and Heroism. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Enchanters.
When I was first working on my witch class I went through the books and thought about which spells would be good for the witch.  Enchantment spells came over whole cloth.
Later when I updated it for my 3.0 book Liber Mysterium and my Basic Era The Witch I focused solely on spells from the d20 SRD.

I added all the spells to a giant Excel worksheet and then went down the list and compared it to a list I had created over the years of spells I felt were ones good for witches.  Where they intersected was my list of spells.

This served me well since these were spells that people knew and they were also ones I felt were good for a witch to use.

I like the idea that witches have a wide choice of spells within the confines of specialties.   They might not have the flexibility of a wizard for example, but within their own specialties they have a large number of choices.

Supernatural AtoZ

Friday, April 4, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Shadows of Esteren

Is this is a thing now?  I have been doing these on Fridays for a while so I guess so.

Today I would like to draw your attention to Shadows of Esteren - A Medieval Horror RPG  "The Monastery of Tuath".

This one hits all my buttons; Medieval, Horror, has fantastic design and art.  Really what is not to love.

Check it out their Kickstarter or their website,
or blog,
or facebook,

Or just have a look at what they have already done or at DriveThruRPG for free.

Honestly it looks really cool.
There is a melancholia about the art that I find very pleasing.  It's very, very good but also conveys a little sadness to it.  This is not a happy world, it's dark and that darkness weighs down on the characters.
These are not "murder-hobos" these are flawed but courageous people in this game.  I like that.

So through them funds if you can. As of right now they have a little more than 48 hours left.

A to Z of Witches. D

D is for Diana

Diana or the goddess of the hunt has an interesting connection to witches.
Like I mentioned yesterday I grew up reading Greek myths. I knew of Diana/Artemis as the virgin goddess of the hunt and twin sister to Apollo. I never gave it much thought after that.

But to the Romans, Diana also meant "Divine". She was also the goddess of the moon and childbirth and then later the female principle.  Diana's cult had a long history in the city of Rome and then throughout the Roman Empire.  She became mixed in with other local Goddesses/personalities (such as Luna and Scáthach) and her influence grew.

It was Diana that Margaret Murray claimed the witches in early Europe worshipped in an unbroken line to the modern times.  While we know this is not the case a number of modern day Wicca Traditions still use her work and belong to a "Dianaic Tradition".  

While Murray's research is suspect there are plenty of good reasons to tie the mythical Diana to witches.   In many respects she represents the Maiden aspect of the Witch's Goddess.  There is also the connection to the moon, the female wild hunt and childbirth.

For my games Diana is one of the Goddesses of Witchcraft, but not necessarily of magic. She is also the Goddess of the Moon and in many of my games the Patron of the Amazon Witches.
While she is typically seen as a virginal Goddess, this is changed in the Aradia story that has her as the mother of Aradia by Lucifer.  Other traditions see the father as The Horned God.

Here she is for the Pathfinder RPG.


Titles: The Goddess of Witches, Goddess of the Hunt
Alignment:  Neutral
Portfolio: Moon, Witches, Women
Worshipers: Witches, pagans, nymphs, Amazons
Cleric Alignments
Domains: Moon, Knowledge, Protection
Favored Weapon: Bow

Diana is the goddess of witches, witchcraft, the moon and the hunt.  She is revered by witches, clerics that meet in secret in woodland groves and druids.

Diana is an old Goddess. She has been worshiped by many different peoples and has been a member of a number of different Pantheons.

Diana is often considered an outsider god in the pantheons she is in.  While some may claim that she was born into the family of gods of the pantheon, she will make her own way. Indeed, her creed is one of personal freedom.

Appearance and Emissaries
Diana appears as a young woman in simple hunting garb. She always appears as a beautiful young woman.  She will appear more athletic and physically strong than a human girl of the same apparent age.  In any guise she will appear with a crescent moon on her brow or as part of a crown.


Egeria - The Goddess of nymphs and childbirth.  She is Diana's most trusted advisor and sage.

Virbius - the God of Chastity till Marriage.  He protects maiden girls until they are married.

Church of Diana
Diana's church, known more properly as the Cult of Diana, is spread far and wide.

Worshipers and Clergy
Diana is worshiped primarily by witches but also by like minded clerics and drudis.  A number of folk magic practitioners also also count themselves among her worshipers.

Temples and Shrines
Temples of Diana are usually on the outskirts of populated areas.  Shrines can be set up in any natural setting.

Holy Texts
As witches the worshipers of Diana hold their own Books of Shadows as their holy texts.

Diana's traditional holiday is held on August 13. Temples to Diana are normally dedicated on this day.

Supernatural AtoZ

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A to Z of Witches. C

C is for Coven and Circe

There have been a number of witches and witch-like classes to appear in the pages of various RPGs.  But the one thing that they all almost always forget to detail are covens.
Sure we have seen plenty of witches in movies, tv and books that don't have covens. But for me these are always the exception, not the rule.

Look back to what Tom Moldvay, author of the Basic D&D rules, says on witches.  He gave a list of 6 things a witch needs to have or be.  I added Covens and Ritual Magic to his list.

Some images are just hard to loose.  The Three Witches in Macbeth are maybe the most famous example of a coven of witches, but are by no means the only one.  Covens, and their reputed practices, are often found in the pages of witch hunter manuals though not always by that name.
The generally accepted first use of the word comes to us from Margaret Murray and her The Witch Cult in Western Europe.  Since then the name and the idea has stuck.

In RPGs this gives us plenty role-playing opportunity.  A coven sets the witch apart from your garden variety wizard or magic-user.  In many ways a coven can be more of a driving force behind the witches actions than alignment or even her patron/god.  For witches without a coven this is also a source of role-playing. How does the witch feel about her status as a solitary? Does she wish for a coven, does she fear other covened witches?

I played one witch a while back who had been part of a family tradition so all the witches in her coven were members of her family.  While she was starting her adventuring career a fire destroyed her home and killed her family, and coven.  She was forced into being a solitary witch. I wanted to roleplay that loneliness with her. The idea was that she would one day rise in power and recreate her own coven.  I was able to do that and the effects were very satisfying.

So one of the ways I judge any RPG witch book or class is whether or not covens are part of the class features.

I spent my childhood reading the myths of ancient Greece.  One of my favorite characters was Circe.
So when I got my first copy of Deities & Demigods I went first to the Greek Mythos.
I was not overly thrilled with how they depicted Circe, a Chaotic Evil "Black Sorceress", but I also was not surprised.
In college I reread the Odyssey and I felt Circe was much more of a complex character than most people gave credit.  Yes, she is not good and certainly selfish.  But I like to think there is more to her than that.

Here she is for Pathfinder.
She is a half-Celestial to reflect her demigod status.

Female Half-Celestial Human Witch 10
CN Medium outsider (humanoid, human, native)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10


AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 76 (10d6+40)
Fort +7 (+4 bonus vs. poison effects), Ref +6, Will +12
DR 5/magic; Immune disease; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10; SR 22


Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Special Attacks smite law*
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +14)
   3/day—protection from law
   1/day—aid, bless, cure serious wounds, detect evil, dispel law*, holy smite, neutralize poison, remove disease
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 10th; concentration +16):
5th—animal growth (DC 21), baleful polymorph (DC 21), major creation
4th—charm monster (DC 20), divination, lesser geas (DC 20), locate creature
3rd—dominate animal (DC 19), locate object, lover's vengeance, nature's exile (DC 19)
2nd—alter self, enthrall (DC 18), gentle repose (DC 18), hold person (DC 18), speak with animals, summon monster ii
1st—beguiling gift (DC 17), cause fear (DC 17), charm animal (DC 17), hypnotism (DC 17), summon monster i, unseen servant
0 (at will)—daze (DC 16), detect magic, detect poison, read magic


Str 12, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 22, Wis 16, Cha 18
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 19
Feats Alertness, Animal Affinity, Brew Potion, Craft Rod, Craft Wand, Iron Will, Maximize Spell
Traits charming, classically schooled
Skills Acrobatics +4, Appraise +7, Bluff +10 (+11 vs. characters who could be attracted to you), Craft (alchemy) +20, Craft (cloth) +15, Diplomacy +5 (+6 vs. characters who could be attracted to you), Disguise +5, Escape Artist +5, Fly +11, Handle Animal +15, Heal +10, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (history) +15, Knowledge (local) +10, Knowledge (nature) +15, Perception +10, Ride +5, Sense Motive +5, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +5, Survival +10, Swim +5, Use Magic Device +16
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Daemonic, Draconic, Giant, Infernal
SQ +4 to fortitude saves vs poison, hexes (cackle, cauldron, charm, fortune, slumber, tongues), patron spells (animals)
Other Gear 150 gp

Special Abilities

+4 to Fortitude saves vs Poison You get +4 to Fortitude saves against Poison effects.
Aid (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. +1 on attack rolls and saves against fear, 1d8 temporary hp +1/level (max +10).
Arcane Familiar Nearby You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Bless (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Allies gain +1 on attack rolls and +1 on saves against fear.
Cackle (Su) As a move action, extend the duration of other hexes by 1 rd.
Charm +2 (6 round(s)) (DC 21) (Su) Improve attitude of humanoid or animal in 30 ft by 2 step(s).
Charming +1 Bluff/Diplomacy/save DC for a language-dependent spell vs. targets who could be sexually attracted to you.
Cure Serious Wounds (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Cures 3d8 damage +1/level (max +15).
Damage Reduction (5/magic) You have Damage Reduction against all except Magic attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Detect Evil (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Reveals creatures, spells, or objects of selected alignment.
Dispel Evil (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. +4 bonus against attacks by evil creatures.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Energy Resistance, Acid (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Acid attacks.
Energy Resistance, Cold (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (10) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Flight (60 feet, Good) You can fly!
Fortune (2 round(s)) (Su) Ally in 30 ft can roll 2d20 for an attack, save, ability, or skill check (and take higher) once/rd.
Holy Smite (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Damages and blinds evil creatures.
Immunity to Disease You are immune to diseases.
Maximize Spell All variable effects of a spell are maximized. +3 Levels.
Neutralize Poison (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Immunizes subject against poison, detoxifies venom in or on subject.
Protection From Evil (3/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. +2 to AC and saves, counter mind control, hedge out elementals and outsiders.
Remove Disease (1/day) (Sp) Granted by Half-Celestial heritage. Cures all diseases affecting subject.
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Slumber (10 rds) (DC 21) (Su) Foe in 30 ft falls asleep for duration, or until damaged or roused by ally (Will neg).
Smite Evil (1/day) (Su) +4 to hit, +10 to damage, +4 deflection bonus to AC when used.
Speak with Animals (Ex) Your familiar can communicate with animals similar to itself.
Speak With Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.
Spell Resistance (22) You have Spell Resistance.
Tongues (10 minutes/day) (Su) Understand spoken and speak any language, as tongues.

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC®, and are used under license.

Interestingly enough Circe has no coven.

Supernatural AtoZ

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

British Invasion: Softcover Edition

I am not an obsessive collector compared to some out there.  I have things I like and things I want and I am pretty happy with that.

But something has always been on my list. Something I thought might be too rare to get.  That is till I saw it on eBay a week ago.   I put down my money and I got it.

I finally got a copy of the softcover Monster Manual printed in England.

There really is no difference between this and my hardcover Monster Manual.  Save for the fact I ahve always wanted this one.

That is not all!  In the process I discovered there was also an England only version of Mentzer Basic in a single volume format.

It is heavy on the text and really, really sparse on the art.  No Elmore art at all save for the cover.

Sorry for the blurriness, trying out my new phone.

All in all I am very happy with these!

A to Z of Witches. B

B is for Baba Yaga

And Father Nyaga!

So I have talked about Baba Yaga, her infamous hut and her less infamous mortar and pestle in the past.
In fact one post on her, was later mis-translated into "Father Nyaga".  Later I had the thought that was an old wizard and more or less counterpart to Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga has had a long career in RPGs.  Baba Yaga's hut has appeared in every version of the D&D game since the beginning.  Baba Yaga herself is said to be the adopted mother of the witch Tasha who would later become Iggwilv.  She has even appeared in other RPGs like the World of Darkness line.

Baba Yaga is a tricky one to capture properly in stats.  She is more plot point than character the characters in a game can confront.  She always has more spells and more ways of getting out of situations that should be allowed a non-player character.   She is old and powerful and stats would never do her justice.

In my games where she has needed to turn up I usually make her into a Makava or a Wood Hag.  I typically increase her ability to that of a 30th level witch (regardless of system).

Father Nyaga
I took Väinämöinen to be the model for Father Nyaga. Basically he is Väinämöinen to Baba Yaga's Louhi.
This isn't much of stretch since Louhi in the D&D game is believed to be another form of Iggwilv and Väinämöinen was one of the models for Mordenkainen.

I have to admit that a lot of my inspiration for this character comes from the old Time-Life books, The Enchanted World, esp. the one on Wizards and Witches.  The wizard on the cover has been staring at me for 30+ years and he has needed representation in my games.

Like Baba Yaga, Father Nyaga works best as plot device.  Think about Merlin or Gandalf.  Do you really care what their spells are just as long as you know they are powerful wizards?  Not really.  Father Nyaga works in the same way, only his main "plot point" is aid those that run afoul of Baba Yaga.  I see him with a staff and owl and of course the long, long white beard.  I also have had it my mind that he has darker skin. Either Indian, African or deeply tanned.  I like the contrast of darker skin and snow white beard. I think it would give him a different look that most of the wizards we see, which tend to be very Eurocentric.

ETA:  Anna Tan is also doing Baba Yaga today.  Check out her post.

Supernatural AtoZ

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A to Z of Witches. A

A is for Aradia

You can't study witches and witch lore without running into Aradia.
Conceived or discovered by (depending on your point of view) Charles Godfrey Leland, Aradia is something of a witch Messiah.  A promised one to lead witches (and pagans in the old sense of the word) to understanding.  Her coming was detailed in Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches, which you can read as a scanned image or as HTML text.

Aradia is a wholly interesting figure. The daughter (reportedly) of Lucifer and the goddess Diana she was raised as human, was the first witch who taught others the secrets of witchcraft. She rose to be the Queen of Witches and then went on to become something akin to a Goddess herself.

Various Witchcraft Traditions even use Aradia as the name for their Goddess or even as the Moon Goddess.

When I began my own research back in the 80s the discovery of Aradia was very interesting to me.  It seemed like there was some sort of link between pagan practices of the modern times (including the sensationalism of the 70s occult revival) and ancient times.  But it didn't take me too long to start picking apart the arguments and see that the scholarship here is not really up to scrutiny.

But that doesn't mean I can't use it for my own worlds!

Here she is for the Pathfinder RPG.


Titles: The Goddess of Witches, The Queen of Witches
Alignment:  Neutral
Portfolio: Magic, Women
Worshipers: Witches, pagans
Cleric Alignments
Domains: Magic, Knowledge, Protection, Moon
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff

Aradia is the goddess of witches, witchcraft, the moon and magic.  To a lesser degree she is also the godess of hags, fae and other supernatural creatures.

Aradia is believed to be the daughter of the Goddess of the Hunt and Moon and the Prince of Devils. She lived, not as a Goddess, but as a human for her life and was a teacher to the first witches. She later became the first Queen of Witches and held the first witch courts.

Aradia is often considered to be a pretender god or worse a false goddess.  Her time spent on among humans has given her a "taint" among the other gods.  She gets along favorably enough other gods of magic but her best relationships are with gods and goddesses of the harvest, growing and natural cycles. She is also on very friendly terms with gods and goddesses of the moon.

Her dogma also makes her appear less in the eyes of the other gods. She focuses primarily on her witches and any that reach to her.  She is disliked by any god or goddess with very strong ethos (LG, CG, LE, CE).  Gods of Sun, Law, Justice also tend to dislike Aradia.

Appearance and Emissaries
Aradia appears as a peasant woman in simple garb. Her facial appearance fluctuates so one is never sure if she is a young or old woman.  In all of her forms Aradia appears wearing a crown with a crescent moon horns turned upward.


Herodias - a human servant of Aradia.  She was Aradia's first student and some claim she could even be her own daughter. The number of stories of the two are so confounded that one is often mistaken for the other.

Holda/Huldra/Frau Holt - Holda is a the Patron of all Hags. She is less their Goddess and more the most powerful representative of their race.  She appears as a frightening woman or hag, nude and riding a giant goose.

Nicnevin - Queen of the Faerie Witches. She appears as a stately Elven woman in regal dress bearing a crown. She is the patron of Elvish Witches (Kuruni), faeries and nymphs.

Church of Aradia
Aradia has no formal religion outside that of her witches.

Worshipers and Clergy
Aradia is worshiped primarily by witches but also by like minded clerics and wizards.  A number of folk magic practitioners also also count themselves among her worshippers.

Temples and Shrines
Temples of Aradia are commonly known as "Sky-thatched temples" in that they are held outside under the sky in natural settings. Worshippers congregate "skyclad" or while nude.

Holy Texts
As witches the worshippers of Aradia hold their own Books of Shadows as their holy texts, but a few are are considered to be great scholarly works of Aradia.

The Gospel of the Witches - The primary text of stories and practices of Aradia.  This book is 1/3 historical prose and 2/3 spell book.  The book is a collection of the writings of a number of different authors handed down through the years, presumably starting with Aradia herself.

The Vangelo - Possibly an older version of The Gospel of the Witches, the Vangelo (the Gospels) are more liturgical in nature. The differences in these books are minor, save for age, but are points of contention among the different sects.


As witches the followers of Aradia celebrate on the 8 Sabbat days of the year; the 4 seasonal days (Autumn Equinox, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice) and the 4 cross-quarter days (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas).

Witches of Aradia also celebrate the phases of the moon, the crescent moon in particular and the crescent moon just before dawn and just after sunset most of all.

A to Z Challenge 2014