Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z of Witches. U

U is for Underworld

Eventually the subject of where witches get their powers is going to come up. When it does we often have to deal with the Underworld and who lives there.
It gets called a lot of things, The Ever After (Rachel Morgan), the Never Never (Dresden Files), the Nether Realms (Buffy in one episode), Hell, The Abyss, the Pit.  I have to admit one of my favorites was from the Beetlejuice cartoon, the Neither World.

In my games I typically say witches can't be raised from the dead since they reincarnate.  So if you want to get someone back from the underworld, you are going to have to go there and get them.


This is not an uncommon approach.  The Descent into the Underworld is a very common theme in many myths and stories. We see it in Orpheus, in Dante's Inferno and it is featured in a number of games.
I even ran a game where the sole (hehehe) purpose was to retrieve the soul of a loved one and bring them back.  It was a playtest for Ghosts of Albion using the Army of Darkness rules.  Since it was around 2002-2003 there was only one logical choice, Xena.  A group of adventurers had to a get Xena's soul because Xena was the only able to help them.  But to that they first needed to find Gabrielle.   The adventure's name ("A Friend in Deed") was even a play on the name of the final episode of Xena ("A Friend in Need").  The double play on words here is the last episode was "FiN" and mine is "FinD".

This game also gave me the idea to write my d20 ritual spell "Descent of the Goddess" as spell a witch can cast on someone so they can go down to the underworld and plead their case to Death.  Yes. If you look behind you before you leave you will loose them forever.

I did not do a Descent into the Underworld when I brought back Tara in my games.  I thought the big adventure to get someone was great for Xena, but for Tara that is not how I wanted her return to start.  I just had her show up one day in the episode "Will We Burn in Heaven?"

Of course the Descent doesn't always have to be bad. Rachel is in the Ever After every weekend. Dresden pops over tot he Never Never all the time.  In games it is often a matter of finding the right gate or spell.
For Ghosts of Albion I have always wanted to use a ghostly train.

But I still like the idea that you need a witch to help get you there.




Supernatural AtoZ

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with David Martin

Black Gate has an interview with artist with David Martin.
http://www.blackgate.com/2014/04/23/art-of-the-genre-an-interview-with-david-martin/

Long time readers here will know I am big fan of his work, but in particular the witch cover to Dragon #114.

The Cailleach Bheur as a human witch


Pop on over and have a read.


A to Z of Witches. T

T is for Tarot

Maybe it is when I grew up and was thinking about all this stuff (the late 70s early 80s) I associate witches and tarot cards.

There is no really overt connection, but they seem to go well together if you ask me.
I have used Tarot cards in my games and even made a suggestion on how to use them instead of dice while playing Ghosts of Albion.  Tarot decks work rather well for Unisystem since the dice mechanic is a straight d10 (1 to 10 roll).

I have a couple of tarot decks laying around and even a book or two, but I never really use them anymore.  Maybe I should.   I used to use them all the time when playing Ravenloft.

Do any of you use tarot in your games or books?

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose
Tarot Pinup by pziomek 
Another Tarot associated with witches is the famous, or infamous, Tarot Witch of the Black Rose.  Yeah I have talked about her a few times here and I won't lie, I find the comic to be a guilty pleasure.
Tarot is actually a good example of what I would call a Witch Guardian. She is a witch, yes, but has taken up the sword in order to protect her coven.

Typically though they wear more armor than this.

I know some people complain about Tarot's proportions. And yes they are ridiculous.
But they are also based on the artist's own wife, so maybe this is how he see's her.  Since she is one doing the coloring in the comic maybe she does as well.






Supernatural AtoZ

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A to Z of Witches. S

S is for Shaman

Shamans and Witches often get confused with each other on a few levels.

A shaman typically has a closer connection to the natural world than say a witch does. A shaman's magic then will appear to be more in harmony with the rest of the world.

Along with witches, Shamans are also often a forgotten source of magic in many Fantasy Roll-Playing games.
When I was working on my book of Witches for the d20 game, there was a group doing a d20 Shaman.  I worked with them and they with me and it was great to be able to exchange ideas.

Now I am doing "Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock" and as it turns out the next book inline is "Strange Brew: The Ultimate Shaman" and again these two teams will be sharing ideas.  I enjoy this, it it nice to have people to bounce ideas off of.

I don't recall ever playing a Shaman character though.  Any time it would have come up I played a Druid or a Witch.    I might have to give that a go sometime.





Supernatural AtoZ

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ghosts of Albion Review

RPG Reviewer extraordinaire Dan Davenport took some time to review my baby, Ghosts of Albion.

Please read his review here:  http://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/review-ghosts-of-albion/

As I posted on Facebook, I am stunned and completely speechless with the praise he gives me and my book.

Here are some of my favorite bits.

From the Magic Chapter (Chapter 4)
Given the focus on magicians, you’d probably expect this game to this game to have more extensive magic rules than those found in Buffy. You’d be right. What you might not expect is to find a magic system so refined and slick that it sings.
From the History Chapter (Chapter 5)
This could have been a horrifically dry chapter. Instead, I daresay it’s the best chapter of its sort I’ve read in an RPG.
From Monsters (Chapter 6)
Every entry drips with flavor, and many creatures have access to nasty powers unavailable to PCs. As a bonus, the chapter discusses both the realm of the dead and of the faeries, both Seelie and Unseelie, in broad but fascinating terms.
Style
Extensive use of period artwork and text that sounds vaguely archaic while maintaining total clarity makes this game positively drip with verisimilitude, while the format will be instantly familiar to fans of previous Cinematic Unisystem games. I saw no obvious errors.
And, as is true with all good RPG texts, it includes an index.
Conclusion
This game not only masterfully emulates the source material, but also could serve as the solid basis for a magic- and/or monster-heavy Cinematic Unisystem game set at any time from the 19th century and earlier. Given the excellent refinements to the magic system and the vast flexibility of the supernatural powers, I’m happy to declare this the finest incarnation of Cinematic Unisystem to date.

I am blown away by this. Really. I have had a lot of people come up and tell me how much they loved the game and it always surprises me.  I am humbled and incredibly honored by this.

A to Z of Witches. R

R is for Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan is the main character in the Hollows series of books by Kim Harrison.

She is a witch, turned day-walking demon in a world where most of the human population was killed by a genetically engineered tomato.  Since then ("The Turn") the vampires, witches, weres, elves and other supernatural types came out of hiding.  Witches look human but are a different species.  They marry and have sex, but can't produce offspring.  Witches are though more related to demons.
Rachel is an independent "runner". She is something like a bounty hunter/detective/occult problem solver.  She uses magic, but since magic has limits, complications and prep time she also uses a paintball gun where the paintballs are filled with sleep potions.



There are currently 12 books in the series with the 13th and last one, The Witch With No Name, out later this year.  I have not caught up yet to book 12, The Undead Pool (so don't spoil me!), but I hear it is good.

I will be honest I did not like Rachel at first.  I thought she was whinny, immature and didn't earn my interest.  Fortunately other characters did.  I was reading book 3, Every Which Way But Dead (all the books are named after Clint Eastwood movies) when Rachel finally grew on me.  Now she is a confident, mature, kick ass witch.  I am going to be really sorry to see her go.

I have stated up Rachel and her vampire partner Ivy before for Ghosts of Albion/Buffy and for Ova.  I ahve also used them as examples on how to build a cast using Cortex+.   I'd also like to try her out in Fate.

So who is your favorite witch?  What book(s) does she appear in?

ETA: Kim Harrison has part of the new cover for Witch With No Name on her site today!
http://kimharrison.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/first-piece-reveal-of-the-witch-with-no-name/



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