Friday, August 31, 2012

D&D Zombies vs. The Walking/Running Dead

"Zombies are the new Vampires" - True Blood

Zombies are a great threat for lower level characters in any version of D&D.  They can be deadly in groups, but are slow.  They are affected by all the same magics other undead are, so Clerical turning or Radiant Powers really get to ..er...shine.

The trouble is that D&D-style zombies are stuck in in a old modality of just being undead shamblers. Think Shaggy from Scooby-Doo only more dead.

Zombies in the game All Flesh Must Be Eaten by Eden Studios are much more deadly and their bite is lethal, just not right away.  Plus there are all sorts of Zombies in AFMBE including what we now call "quick"  or ""fast" zombies.

Of course the question has been and will be asked again, "why not just use Ghouls?".  Well simply put Ghouls are eaters of the dead.  If thought about I'd add subtle demonic influences to them as well to reflect the Ghoul/Ghul  relationship.

Improved Zombies
Let's take a page from modern interpretations via AFMBE and define a few new zombies.  Instead of full blown stat blocks, I'll just talk about how to make changes to your current game's Zombie.  Let's assume a couple of basics.  First, Zombies have no intelligence, they are slow, attack last in any round and had HD roughly equal to twice a normal human (so 2 HD in older games). XP awarded for these needs to recalulated up.

The Hungry Dead
This zombies appear to be most like Ghouls.  Their stats are the same as a regular zombie but once they kill a victim they begin to eat it.  They turn as if they were one slot higher ("Ghoul" for older games).

Plague Zombies
These might be the scariest of all. They do not appear to be any different than a regular Zombie until they bite a victim.  Then the differences are more apparent.  They look and act like The Hungry Dead, but their bite spreads the zombie infection. Anyone that is bitten (a roll of a Natural 20) becomes infected and will become a mindless zombie in 1d6 rounds.  They can be healed by a cure disease, but once dead they are dead forever. These zombies typically have twice the HD as their counterparts.

The Fast Dead
These zombies also appear as normal, until the move.  These are no shamblers, these zombies know the value of running.  They have an effective Dexterity of 16 and can attack normally (not last).

Alchemical Zombie
Stats-wise this is the same as any other zombie. The difference lie in how the zombie was made.  The alchemical zombie comes for a vat of foul smelling liquids produced by an alchemist and not a necromancer.  These zombies can not be turned.

These types can also be combined, so a Fast Plauge Zombie or a Hungry Alchemical zombie is possible.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Hate Myself for Loving You

Interesting article up on the whole Graz'zt/Iggwilv love affair.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/dra/201208history#82019


Rule specific material is minor and can be adapted to any version of the game.  I am going to use this with my 1st ed game in fact.

As can be expected I like Iggwilv.  To my knowledge no one has ever penned her "biography" in full, but it would make for a good read I think.  Raised by Baba Yaga, infiltrating the Circle of Eight, her years with Graz'zt as master, lover, prisoner and bitter rival.  The authoring of the Demonomicon.  The Rise and Fall of the Witch Queen.

Iggwilv is a great villain not because she is evil (though she is that) it is because she lack any moral compass whatsoever.  If she needs a tome of magic and entire village stands between her then she had no issues burning it down to the ground.  It isn't because she doesn't care, it because she has no concept that anyone other than herself matters.  

I am sure she is going to play some role in my 3.x and 1st ed games.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Reality Show I can like

This looks so funny.



Love the Hermonie and Lisabeth.

Here is Episode 1.

Not to sound like a broken record...

But there are a couple of Kickstarters worth having another look at.

First is the D&D Documentary
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andrewpascal/dungeons-and-dragons-a-documentary

18 days to go and still more than 100k to make.
You funding other games, show this one some love too!

Band of Zombies for All Flesh Must Be Eaten has just under 2 hours left.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1801360072/all-flesh-must-be-eaten-rpg-band-of-zombies-source

The stretch goals make this one worth some of your attention.  And money.



White Dwarf Wednesday #29

February/March 1982. England sends over Iron Maiden as Number of the Beast is released in the US and White Dwarf #29 hits the stands.

For this issue's cover we are treated to two dragons fighting.  It's a very nice cover and shows how the production values are going up for WD.

Ian Livingstone gives us a little background on why White Dwarf is called White Dwarf.  Simply because the White Dwarf has special meanings in both SciFi and Fantasy gaming.  A small dense star and a small dense humanoid (I am kidding).  The last issue he asked people to send in their most wanted themes for future role-playing games. It generated an all time low of responses, which he took as maybe people have what they want.  The largest number of requests they did get was Private Eyes.

Paul Vemon is up first with some guidelines with Designing a Quasi-Medieval Society for D&D.  Part 1, the Economy - Workers and Craftsmen.  This was part of the new wave of gamers who wanted to add more realism to their games.  In Dragon we get long articles on the physics of falling damage.  This is at least easier to read (though for the record I loved those physics and falling damage articles).  There is a lot here and all of it can still be used today.

Next up is the start of a series from Oliver Dickinson.  "Lucky Eddi" details the adventures of the titular character in a Runequest universe.  For years I never read the stories (I am not much for reading gaming fiction in WD or Dragon) so I thought Lucky Eddi referred to the woman in the art.  Not so much.


We have reviews from Open Box.  The Fifth Frontier War a game from the Traveller Universe.  It gets an 8/10 but it also got something from me; loss of my joy of Traveller.  Not this game in particular, but all these near-universe games for Traveller.  I felt it was too much and there was no way I was going to collect or learn about all of it.  So I ended up not playing Traveller.  Adding to this is SORAG, a supplement for Traveller.  It gets 9/10 and almost gets a 10/10 but falls down due to what amount to editorial issues.  Barbarian Prince is a new mini-game that gets an 8/10.  Though what get my attention is what got it back then.  There is a game to play Elric in the form of Chasosium's Stormbringer. It only gets a 7/10, but I thought it was much better than that.

Starbase gives us the Mudskipper a multi-terrain vehicle for Traveller.  I often used articles like this for Star Frontiers. I am sure I had this one too.  It looks too familiar.

I have a basic rule in my games.  Unless I am playing Doctor Who, no time travel.  There is no time-hopping magic in D&D in my games and none in my sci-fi ones.   So what do we have here from Marcus Rowland? "This Is, Of Course, Impossible: Time Travel in AD&D".  Shit.
Well the article is long, but good and has some great ideas.  I might not ever allow time travel, but I use alternate time lines and parallel worlds all the time.

Going back to Traveller, we have a scenario for 2-8 players called Weed War.  I looks interesting enough, but I am so far removed from my Traveller days that I have little else I can say about it.

Character Conjuring has Grey and Sylvan elves as character races from Roger E. Morre years before they appear in Unearthed Aracna. Bob Lock also has stats for Brownie characters.

Fiend Folio has some desert monsters this issue including the Giant SAndcrab, Anubi, Kail, Shim-shari and the Argorian Wormkin.  They seem fine and would be a nice change up for a desert based adventure.  Of note we still have Monstermark scores.

Lew Pulsipher is back and as usual his article is something that interests me right away. Amulets & Talismans are discussed including how they are made.  I have gone over similar ground, but I made talismans the weaker of the two.  He has them much stronger.  In any case there is still a lot of good stuff here.

The rest is ads, but there is a cool Judges Guild ad in back.

A solid, but not spectacular issue.  I suppose if you were playing Traveller back then there would have been a lot of gold here.  Stylistically the magazine still looks like it did at the beginning of the 80s.  Though that is all going to change soon enough.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: The Secret Fire

The Secret Fire came out to much hoopla and goings on last year.

I have always meant to review it, but never sat down to do it.  Now, depending on my mood I go back and forth between this being a great homage to old-school play and even to Gygax himself to it being a fantasy heart-breaker with delusions of godhood.  It will be interesting to see where I am by the end of this review.

Like I mentioned above The Secret Fire came out to much hoopla last year before Gen Con with this whole campaign blitz on how it was going to change role-playing and how it was going to be the biggest thing since D&D.  I talked a bit about that around Gen Con back when it had changed it's name from Legends &  Labyrinths to The Secret Fire. http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-is-secret-fire.html
Of course give yourself some credit if you get the reference correct.

It didn't quite set the world on fire.  Secret or otherwise.
But I can't blame the author, George R. Strayton (also the screenwriter for the Dragonlance animated movie and some episodes of Xena), for being excited.  I would, and have, done the same.
One thing I am going to give the Secret Fire right now.  It has style.  The art is not fantastic and the formatting is a bit odd, but I enjoy looking at this book.

Forward and Introduction
Ok this part is cool, if maybe a touch corny.  Learning to play D&D on Halloween 1979. Sure that sounds cool and I don't doubt it, but if that were true for me I might not say that because so many wouldn't believe.  But that is not the point here.  I know this, that kid learning to play D&D on Halloween would have loved the hell out of TSF.  Oh.  I gave the game a freebie now I need to take one away. Look I know this game is important to the author but reading THE SECRET FIRETM all the time is really annoying.
All that aside, I like this part.  Why? Cause Strayton deep down is a kid that loves to play D&D and this is his 300+ page love letter to it.  I like that he wants you play normal folk that could get killed, I like that he was "stuck with the dwarf" back then.  If this is his mission statement then I am all aboard with it.

PART 1
Quotes from Gary Gygax are good.  Quotes from Gail Gygax advertising your game, not so much.  One more point given, one more taken away.
Part 1 is your typically "what is role-playing chapter but also some descriptions of what makes TSF different.  I am torn on this one.  While I like that this is not the kindergarten discussion on what is role-playing and what do you do, there also seems to be a lot back-patting here.  TSF does this better and TSF does this... great, but tell me that in the game sections.  BUT....I also often lament that we don't see enough of what makes Game X different than Game Y.   If he makes good on these promises then we should be ok.

PART 2
Character creation. The classes, or callings, are pretty straightforward; cleric, warrior, thief and wizard.  The big four really.  They have some neat features.  Levels only go to 10 and you know what, I kinda like that. The races are also the common four, Dwarf, Elf, Human and Halfling.  I would have liked to see some more, but there are some neat twists to the races.  Tables of what the races do, like Many Dwarfs...(roll a 1d20) and Some Dwarfs... (roll a 1d20), that is kinda cool really. Easily added to any sort of D&D-like game.
Instead of hitpoints we have wound levels, similar to some damage track systems I have seen.  I like how damage effects movement and combat. Again, nothing revolutionary here, but still nice.
There is a random table of personality traits as well.  I am sure would like this, but I prefer to figure out my character's personality in the playing, not the the rolling. 

PART 3
This is the chapter on character Trademarks.   They act like qualities/perks/drawbacks from other games.  Interesting.  Given the amount you can get I would have liked to have seen more, but this is a good list.

PART 4
Your weapons and equipment chapter.

PART 5
Energy Points are discussed here and are used to power "Special Effects".  In a way they work a bit like Drama, Hero or Fate points.  While like like these kinds of mechanics, they are not really "old-school" since they allow the player more control over the dice.  While a plus in some respects I think the old-school purists will dislike it.

PARTS 6 & 7
Details the Elder Gods and prayers respectively.  Prayers are of course the spells that Holy-men can use.

PART 8
Details the spells in the game.  Like the Prayers, there are a lot of unique sounding names for some familiar looking spells.  I like that.  "Read Languages" sounds dull, but "Comprehend Texts (The Great Unknown)" sounds so much more...eldritch.

PART 9
Details the skills characters can have.  The advice listed is that most time the character succeeding or failing should be obvious. This chapter should only aid in the cases where success is uncertain.
Skills are a roll-under mechanic compared to the necessary ability.  The listed skills modify these dice rolls (3d6 to 7d6).

PART 10 
Details adventuring. Not a bad chapter, but mostly narrative.

PART 11
This chapter details Engagements or what if typically called combat.

PART 12
Scenario Design.  Lots of advice and random tables to stock your dungeons.

PART 13
Is monsters.  The stat blocks look pretty familiar and would not be difficult at all to add to any other game.

PART 14
Treasure. What I liked most here was the creating Talismans.  I have done talismans as well and they are a little different here than mine, but still fun.  Like the spells there are a lot of unique items here.  If you need to spice up your magic items, then this is a good place to start.

PART 15
Details the world.  Not a lot of detail mind you, but enough to keep you busy.

PART 16 
Deals with level advancement. How to do it, what to do about it and the like.

PART 17
Is an adventure, the Dungeons of Madness.

There are also a few Appencies, including a combat chart, links to the Gygax Memorial Fund, and a bit on why the game was made AND, interestingly enough, an alternate XP point award table to things the players can do outside of the game.  I have done this with my kids to great effect.

The Appendix D, or suggested reading does come of as a bit pretentious.  But...these are all in fact good books.

Bottom line
Again, this game didn't, and probably won't, set the world on fire. BUT there is a lot of cool things here that can be easily added to a D&D, S&W, ACKS or B/X Companion game.

It is easy to see what the author is trying to do here. I get it. I think the game though comes off a little like D&D + Fate.


I will also add that TSF character sheet is one of the coolest ones I have seen.  It, like the game, as a sense of style I really like.  Another point in favor of this game, the website for the game is full of all sorts of goodies. http://www.secretfiregames.com/

I guess in the end I would give it 4 out of 5 stars and use it as a kick-ass resource. It is a good enough game by itself, but I plan on using it as an add-on.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The OSR is Dead, Long Live the OSR!

Fresh from Gen Con I posted that the OSR is Dead, or rather more to the point I asked if it was and then followed up with a comment that the movement was dead.

Many took umbrage with this.

Here is the deal.

The OSR as a movement has satisfied it's goals.
There is unprecedented access to "old school" and "old school-like" material.  Yes, several thousand copies of Swords & Wizardry are going out, WotC has AD&D out in stores now and D&D5 looks like a streamline, even old-school, version of 3e, these though are only the largest examples of why the "fight" is over.  If the R is Revolution then the revolution is over. If the R is Renascence then we are in a post enlightenment period. What was learned is not lost, but it does change.

The OSR as a community will continue to thrive.
Anecdotally we have had many posts from the the first rush of bloggers (present company included) talk about how hits and views are down.  How posting is down.  We might not ever see the growth we did of 2008-2010 again.  But that doesn't mean there is not a constant flow of ideas, text and things we can all do.

What does this all mean though really?
Will people stop playing Basic Fantasy, S&W or LL?  No.  Those games will rise and fall by desires of their fans and market forces.
Will people stop making material? No way. They didn't stop when 1st Ed replaced OD&D or 2nd ed replaced that and so on.  In fact it is now easier than ever before.

It will be interesting to see what D&D5 does to the OSR community.  Will people jump ship for this new game? Will the backlash against WotC continue?  Will the Pathfinder continue to grow?  2013 will be interesting to say the least, but one thing is sure, don't expect it to be the same as now.

More Wrap-Ups and Plugs

At Gen Con I got to play a FANTASTIC game of Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG that mixed in characters from Buffy, Supernatural and Charmed.  I got to play Piper and was thrilled to death with it.  Reminded me of running "Semi-Charmed Life" so many years ago.   Kudos to the GM and all the players.

A few plugs I'd like to make:

Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary has a kickstarter.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andrewpascal/dungeons-and-dragons-a-documentary
20 days to go and they still have a bit to raise.  I have heard a lot of good about this film and would love to see it get made.

Band of Zombies is down to it's last 50 hours.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1801360072/all-flesh-must-be-eaten-rpg-band-of-zombies-source
There are some nice stretch goals with this one.

Banners on the Cheap has been flirting with the RPG market.
You can see teh map I had made here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-new-map.html
Well now they have a full blown site for maps and battle mats.
http://www.bannersonthecheap.com/rpg-maps-and-banners
The site is super easy to use.

I think that is it for now.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gaming Wrap-up

With Gen-Con, some time off and weekend gaming I have managed to get a ton of gaming in over the last couple weeks.  Here is a wrap-up

3.x/Dragonslayers
The Dragonslayers are heading into Epic levels, but there are some characters that need some help filling out their last levels.  Also my kids wanted some side-quests for some special magic weapons, so we did that.
Module: WG4 (upgraded)

1st Edition Game
The boys left B1 and on their way discovered the Keep on the Borderlands.  They are currently planning their attack on the first of the caves.
Module: B1

4th Ed Game
The larger group is getting ready to attack an sort of different Keep, this time the Keep on the Shadowfell.  They still don't know who Nera is, but are learning more about the cult of Orcus.  They also just learned a big secret, the God of the Dead, Kelemvor is dead himself.  No new god of the Dead has been named.
Module: H1

All in all the games are going very well.  My two boys, the commonality in all groups, have now played at least 5 different versions of the D&D rules in the last couple of weeks.  It has been a blast.

I like using the modules for a couple of reasons.  First, I want them to experience these classic adventures.  And it helps me keep three (or more) games and adventures straight in my head.

No idea what we are doing next week.

This week it is back to work.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Zatannurday: Gen Con Cosplay

Back from Gen Con and there was only one Zatanna.

But I got her!

I didn't get her name, sorry to say, but I got this pic. One more was sent to me as well.




Love her costume! I thought she looked great. Hope she had a great time at Gen Con.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Witches of Oz

F. Douglas Wall over at "There's more to Oz than the Yellow Brick Road" has a post up on Witches in Oz.

He mentions me in it and it is, obviously, something right up my alley.

I have mentioned before in a few places that the Wicked Witch of the West was one of my first witches.  She was the one that started this whole mess to be exact.

http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/11/having-wicked-time-in-oz.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/07/adventures-in-oz.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-was-your-childhood-monster.html

Pop by his blog and have a discussion with us on witches.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gen Con Haul 2012

First up:  Yes. I know I owe you all a Part 2 of the OSR is Dead. But many of you made a lot of the points I was going to.
I also know I missed White Dwarf Wednesday.  I was away from my machine all day.
So instead a drive by post.  With pictures.

So here is my Gen Con 2012 haul.  I also picked up some things here for my kids.


Here we have all the books, minis (love that Gelatinous Cube) and swag.


I picked up a way cool game, Monsterhearts (pdf), that I want to talk about in much detail later.  Also my new ConX 2.0 book, Zenner cards and screen.



I got my two copies of Castles & Crusades from Troll Lord and Jason Vey's Amazing "Amazing Adventures".  Again, I want to talk about that one in detail too.  I picked up a replacement GURPS Horror (lost it years ago) and GURPS Castle Falkenstein.

I got some of the "Drow" D&D dice bags.  And a bunch of older d20 books on magic.


Minis.  I got some dragons (well my kids did) and some other minis.  I love that huge one.  It is a statue of some sort.  In my games it will be a Death Titan.


Some books for my games.  The Dragon (Mongoose) and Dragonlance is for the 3.x game, Faith & Avatars and the Dragon Mag Annual are for the 4e game.  Rokugan was just because it was a buck.


Finally I am replacing my worn out Pokemon backpack for a real gamer bag.


And a full set Drow dice.  We all got some and had to go to all the D&D events to get them. They are very cool.  My wife likes hers because they are purple.  All her dice are purple.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is the OSR Dead?

So I made some interesting, though not entirely new or unique, observations.

The OSR, as a Movement, is Dead.

This is the point of view of Tavis Allison who gave a talk about the OSR at Gen Con this past week.  Tavis has the street cred to back up his claims too, author of The Mule Abides blog and the Adventurer Conqueror King game system.

Though he has his reasons, I think I am looking at something slightly different.

I am not talking about the lack ENnies or even representation at Gen Con.
There was the the OSR Publications booth, which was great.

I am talking about the OSR as a movement.  If the stated goal* of the OSR was to get old-school style gaming back into the hands of gamers, then one only needed to go to the Wizards of the Coast booth and buy a copy of the 1st Ed AD&D books, or listen to their keynote address about the availability of older products, or go play D&D5.

(* lets be honest here, no one ever stated any goal of any sort)

If the goal was get products to go mainstream, well the OSR Publications booth was a good step in that direction.  George Strayton of the Secret Fire RPG was an industry guest of honor at this past Gen Con as well. Castles and Crusades (one of the earliest Retro Clones in my opinion) never seemed more popular.

So if the OSR as a mission was get "old school" products in the main-stream, then that goal has been met.

The movement then is dead. Why?  Well if the "R" mean Revolution, Revival or Renascence, then the goals have been achieved.   Old School is back.

The OSR as a community or even as a loosely affiliated publishing movement will live on.  Much like the Indie Press Revolution (who, to be perfectly honest, does everything the OSR could do and does it well).
There will still be sites and blogs that support old-school play.  They existed before the OSR movement and will (in some form) afterwards. 

I fear though that for many that the "R" stood for "Resistance" as in the alternative not because they liked old school play so much, but because they hated the "new school" of 4e or even 3.x.  Well for them I fear the battle wages on and it will never be won.  TSR is never coming back to life, WotC owns D&D and there are  many that enjoy the newer games.

In any case the OSR will change.  Not because it wants to, but because it will need to to stay relevant.

I will have to post on this topic more in a bit.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gen Con recap: The name of the game is "D&D"

I did something truly special this Gen Con. Something that I would love to repeat.

I played D&D with my family through the entire Con.  One of the things I wanted to do with my boys was to play the history of D&D with them.  I didn't get into every game I wanted, but I got in enough to make it count.  I also wanted my wife to join in so she could give her unbiased opinion of the games.  I have learned to trust her judgment on many, many things over the years.

Part of the plan was that any XP, gold or magic the boys got in the games they could translate that over to  the special 1st Ed Game we were playing at night.  All the DMs go

We played a D&D4 game on Thursday.  It was a fun game where we all played Dwarfs.  The DM was great and he played well with the kids.  Thursday night I had a game of my own to play (which I'll discuss later).

Friday was our Castles and Crusades game.  I REALLY wanted to play this one after going on and on so much about C&C a while back.  I picked up my new copies of the 5th printing of the Players Handbook and Jason Vey's amazing Amazing Adventures.  The game we played was also a lot of fun.  Again we had a great GM...er Castle Keeper, and in this we all played Assassins.  My youngest loved it.

Friday night we rolled up characters for 1st Ed AD&D!!  They rolled up two each, and these are the children of the Dragonslayers (their current 3.x game).  That took us till midnight since I had to look a lot of things up and we were sitting on the 2nd floor of the JW Marriott and everyone had stop by and comment on what we were doing.

Saturday we played D&D5/Next.  If I would have known we were making characters I would have gone into it with a different mindset.  But it worked out well and character creation was a snap.  Really.  It only took me 30 mins to do my character and help out my wife and two kids.  I playtested the Warlock and I like it so far.  The game itself was fast, I mean really fast. I am going to come back to that in a sec in fact.

Saturday night we played AD&D 1st ed.  I had the boys go on a quick adventure into Castle Quasqueton from B1 In Search of the Unknown.  The boys had some great rolls and they even took out some orcs, zombies and a group of kobolds. The boys made their objective (which happened to be a on sheet of paper I wrote on when I ran this in college around 1988-9 or so), find a missing witch (Marissa) and bring her back.  I hinted there was an evil cult at work (cause that was what I was doing in 88) and the boys ran with it.  Now this cult is "infiltrating" the lands and they now have to put a stop to it.  I might run with that.

Fighting the Kobolds
Quite by accident one of the common elements in the D&D5/Next playtest and my AD&D game on the same day was the party (6 and 5 characters respectively) fought 4 kobolds.  The combat for each ran very, very similar.  In both cases it was fast with hit points flying everywhere and characters on the verge of death. I can say that in at least this respect D&D5 is closer to old-school play than 3 or 4 was.

It dawned on me at one point or another while playing Saturday night.  I was playing AD&D. With my boys. At Gen Con!  I play a lot of D&D with them and I have played a lot of AD&D over the years, but this felt special. This felt like the best thing I could do then and there.

I have no idea what I am going to do with D&D5 when it comes out.  At this very same Gen Con Wizards of the Coast had announced that D&D5 would not be out till 2014.  That is a very good year in my mind.  Still gives us time to play some 4e AND be out in time for the 50th anniversary of D&D.
WotC also announced that previous editions would be made available again via e-book format of some sort.

There were copies of 1st Ed for sale at Gen Con and we all also picked up a full set of D&D "Drow" dice.

For me there is no debate. D&D still reigns king at Gen Con.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back from Gen Con!

I am back from the "Best 4 Days in Gaming" and I am still riding a gamer's high.

So much to talk about and share.I'll have to get my thoughts collected and share some posts with you all soon!

Celtic-themed Games

I have really been reading a lot of games based on real world myths, and mostly Celtic myths.  There are a lot of good ideas in these games, but none that felt perfect to me.  I am still looking though!

Slaine the RPG of Celtic Heroes
Mongoose has released their 2002 OGL game, Slaine to PDF for what I think is the first time ever.

To begin with this is NOT a game of generic Celtic myths and heroes, this is a game for the 2000AD comic Slaine which borrows a lot from Celtic myth, but takes a number of liberties as well.
It also diverges from it's SRD/d20 3.0 (NOT 3.5) roots.  So when reading, keep this in mind.

The book is very typical of a setting-type book.
We start with a number of classes. These have all be re-flavored to fit the mythos of the world better.  So Tribal Warriors and Witches join the ranks of Druids and Thieves. Also we only have 3 races, Human, Dwarf and Warped-Ones (humans changed permanently by their interactions with the Beast Folk).
Next we come to skills and there are some differences here than the d20 norm.
We also get a new honor system. Enech: Honour and Reputation is used to tell the value of a warrior (his Sarhaed or Honor Price). It is also used when someone it wronged or challenged in a battle. In a lot ways it should be more important than XP.  Tied to this are weirds (fate) and geas (taboos).
A strong collection of feats are presented. Including the fabled Warp Spasm and Salmon Leap.

Goods and Weapons is next and it deserves a careful read from the player.  Afterall you might know that 3 gold piece is worth 3 cows, but that won't help you when all you have to barter for your new sword are chickens and pigs.
Combat is given special attention. In particular we get one on one combat, chariot combat and larger army combat. Useful for any d20 game in truth.
Magic and Spells are handled in a very different way. With each spell costing EP. Details are given about how gain and get EP for magical use.

We get some information on Slaine's world including the mythic version of the British Ilses (Albion, Alba, Cambria and Eriu or England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland respectively).
There is a section on adventures which includes some very interesting Prestige Classes.
We also get a run down on the Goddesses and Gods of the Tir Nan Og, and the bestiary of normal animals and more fantastic monsters.
Campaign ideas and notes.

All in all a good book if you are a fan of the comic or in Celtic myths in general. My only disappointments in this is some of the art is a low res scan and it looks very pixelated, the other is that there is no character sheet included.  The character sheet for Slaine was one of the nicest ones from early in the d20 craze.

Bardic Lore: The Fachan
Celtic myth and lore is full of strange creatures. Some that don't quite have an analogue anywhere else.  The Fachan is one such creature.  Their might be similar creatures in other myths (I bet the Japanese or the myths of India have something like this) but none I can recall off the top of my head.  This book gives us the background on the Fachan, 3.x style monster stats and some ideas to use it in your games.  There is also a Fachan NPC and some notes on using the beastie as a character race.  All in all not bad, and then when you consider the price then it is great.

Bardic Lore: Ogham
This is a well researched guide on Ogham, the written language of stones often seen near ancient Celtic settlements.  This product blends historical findings with mythology to give us something very cool indeed.  New ideas for Druids and Bards using Ogham are included along with a new feats, skill uses and revised spell lists.  What is nice is the chart of the Ogham characters with sounds, English letter equivalents, and tree names.  A lot of research went into all of this and the quality shows. Don't take it as a historical treatise on Ogham, but it is a great tool for a game.  Nominally d20/3.5 but really the most of it can be used in any game.

Treasures of the Sidhe
Not a bad product. 45 new magic items of various degrees; most I thought were fine.  It lacks art a lot of art, but for under 3.00 you are getting a lot of magic items and 1 new monster.  Great if you are running a 3.x game bases around the Sidhe or the Seelie/Unseelie courts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Witch Books, Part 5. Other games

For D&D4:  The Witch Player Class
A decent witch class for D&D4.  Predates the witch that appears in Heroes of the Feywild by a few years, but is roughly compatible.

For Witch Girls Adventures: Original Witch Girls (OWG)
The comic that came before the RPG. The first 200 or so pages are comic content of various artists, but all in the WitchGirls School and world.  The next dozen or so pages is the Coventry School written up for the Witch Girls RPG. And we end with WGA write-ups for all the characters that appeared in the comics.
One of the great things about the Witch Girls game are the characters.  So this is a nice treat really.
If you are a fan of the game and want some more NPCs for your own school or need some ideas on adventure then this  is a great book to have.

For Colonial Gothic: Witchcraft
I enjoy the Colonial Gothic game quite a bit. I love how it weaves the earliest American history with horror and monsters.
I was set to like this book quite a bit and I do, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting given how much I enjoyed all the other CG books.
This book gives us Witchcraft for the CG world and it does a great job of researching, but it only gives us the "evil" sort of witchcraft associated with summoning demons.  Granted, that is perfectly fine for this game.  I think I wanted to see a little more.
The first half deals with Witchcraft in the CG world and is great.  The second half is from the writings of King James and frankly he was more than just little bit paranoid.
In the end it is still a good book for the game and something to grab if you are interested in thoughts a views on witches of the time.
Of course for my own take, if you are going to assume that King Jame's witches are real then why not Margaret Murray's witches too?  I guess I just like having the option of playing a witch in my games.

For Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade: Witches and Pagans
A great resource for the Renascence era Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade.

For Mage: The Ascension:  Tradition Book: Verbena (1st) (Revised)
More Verbena goodness and more rotes based on the Verbena's sphere of Life.

Both are full of great background information on "witches" in the Mage game and are full of wonderful ideas and great art.  This is WW at their peak and there is so much care and detail here that I couldn't not get these books.

For Basic Role-Playing (Call of Cthulhu...):  BRP Witchcraft
I reviewed this one in detail here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/07/brp-witchcraft.html

Witch Hunter: the Invisible World
I reviewed this one in detail here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/03/review-witch-hunter-invisible-world.html

Quest of the Ancients
I have talked about this one before too: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/04/q-is-for-quest-of-ancients.html
The witch in this book is roughly compatible with AD&D1.  Lots of new and fairly cool spells.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Witch Books, Part 4. The New Old

The New Old.  
These are new products to play old school style witches. Generally speaking these are all throwbacks to the Basic or First Edition days for games like Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC or any OSR game.

Classic Fantasy Review: Volume 1, Issue 2
This might be one of the first Old-School style witches that I purchased. In this supplement for OSRIC we get the Diabolical Witch.  A witch that gains her powers and spells from the various demon and devil lords.  Its a cross between a cleric and wizard, maybe with more emphasis on the cleric side of things.  The level progression is closer to the cleric than the wizard to be honest.  There are new spells, just a redistribution of current OSRIC spells.  They get a number of special powers, some make sense (clerical turning and shapeshift) others not as much (limited thief abilities).   A nice feature is how witches of different demon lords, devils get different powers.

Darker Paths 2: The Witch
I am always a bit hesitant to review other peoples work on witch-related classes since I have products of my own out there. I fear of being too critical or too lax, each to out weigh the other. In the end I think I just need to review the product as is. Like DP1: The Necromancer this product is for the "Adventures Dark and Deep" RPG, OR any other near-clone of AD&D. Also like the first Darker Path book this presents the witch as an evil character class; not the Earth loving priestess of old faiths or even the spiritual seeking witches of modern tales. This must be recalled when reading the rest of this book. These witches are more Baba Yaga and not Circe for example. There is the obligatory disclaimer on Contemporary Witches and how this game is not that. (As an aside, as someone that has written these myself this one does seem more of a disclaimer of "don't email me" rather than a "I am not trying to offend", but that could just be me. EDITED: I did get an email clarification on this and the author was very much in the "I am not trying to offend, but these are different things" camp, which is cool by me.)
Witches in this game are all evil and their main ability is Wisdom. Their Charisma must start high, but it degrades as the witch rises in level. Interesting. I am not sure I like that since it seems here that Charisma is used as an "Appearance" proxy and not as a "Force of Personality" one. It would make it hard to make a character like Circe, who was evil, attractive and had a lot of force of personality, as a witch in these rules. That is fine, she would have to be something else, but I do want to point it out.
Witches advance to 13th level; so reminiscent of the druid. She has a nice variety of spells to choose from (more on this) and there are rules for her brewing potions and poisons. Like other witches of folklore, this witch can also have multiple familiars. A nice touch in my mind.
The spells are the real gem of this book. Nearly 50 new spells there are a lot of classics here. There are spells on Candle Magic (and done differently than my own) and nearly every base is covered (curses, storm summoning, afflicting others).
Like with DP1, the art is a mix of new and public domain art, but all of it is appropriate to the feel of the book. In the end this is a very good evil witch class. It does make me wonder how the author might do a good witch.

ACKS Player's Companion: The Witch
This one is not out yet for the public, but I have seen the witch for it.  It was actually based on some OGC I produced a while back with some significant changes.  I didn't write it, but it has it's DNA in stuff I did write. So I have recuse from a proper review, but I will say this:  I like it a lot. It is compatible with my two other "OSR" witches but still covers new ground on it's own. At the same time is still new and fresh.

The Complete B/X Adventurer: The Witch
I have talked about the the TCBXA before, but I want to focus on the Witch class from it.
For starters the class works best if you also own the B/X Companion.

I have to play special attention to the witch.  Not just because it is a witch class, but because it is different than the other spell using classes.  For starters the witch can cast in groups to cast higher level spells. That is a nice feature really and something very much in tune with the archetypal witch.  The witch is the class in the book that is stated up all the way to 36th level AND built to gain powers to that point, also something I rather like.  Why?  Because a 36th level witch is the only class that can cast 10th level spells.  Yup.  This one goes to 10!

Crafting spells.  The witch does not memorize a spell, but she does have a limit on how many she knows.  The witch needs both a high intelligence (to know the spell) and a high wisdom (to learn and scribe it down in the first place).  So a first level witch with a high Intelligence knows 1+Int mod 1st level spells.  She can also scribe spells of 1st level + how ever many extra levels equal to her Wisdom mod.  I like it.  It is a nice quick way to know what can be done.  In fact I would like to use that for clerics since gods should know ahead of time what spells their flock need and then they just give them to the cleric at that time.

For the witch though I would reverse it.  Intelligence to write or scribe the spell and Widsom to know how many they can cast.  Witches are often called the "Craft of the Wise" afterall.   But all in all I like it.
10th level witch spells are nothing at all to sneeze at.  This is a powerful witch class.

The 10th level spells are a nice solution to the "Coven spells"/"Powerful magic" vs independent witches.  I can't see too many witch covens in groups.  Maybe two or three at a time.  With what JB has done here is given us a way to have powerful magics in groups at lower levels and keep those same magics out of the hands of solitary witches till much later.  This then does not make them a more attractive solution over Wizards/Magic Users.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #28

White Dwarf #28 takes us to Dec 1981/Jan 1882.

Again this feels like a  transition issue, but I am not sure if that is the natural feel of it or because I know what sort of changes are coming up. An aside, though I have mentioned this before.  At this point in my life I was a HUGE Anglophile. Still am, but not like I was back then.  If it was English, British or somehow associated with the UK then it was gold in my mind.  My music collection of the time reflected this and so did my tastes in RPGs.

We get an interesting cover of blaster wielding centurions fighting giant war robots.  Not sure what it is about, but there is no part of it that isn't awesome.

Jumping through the ads for a bit we see something new, an ad for these new Personal Computers! There was the one I really wanted back in the day, the Atari 400.  Though I ended up with the Tandy Color Computer 2.  Soon PCs and RPGs are going to become linked in a way that we could never have imagined back in '82.

Ian Livingstone phones in the editorial this issue by asking reader what genres of "Role-playing games" (again we are seeing this term more and more) they want to see.  He correctly predicts the explosion of the next 2-3 years.

First article is Magic Jar by Andy Slack.  It is a basic character conversion matrix.  It is based on the premise of percentage conversions, ie what is percent does "4" account for on a 3d6 and so on.  It is a nice quick and dirty way of converting characters and materials.  It is also not a bad article, but it makes the mistake of assuming that normal, min and max in all games are the same.  I have pointed out in conversions of my own that a Strength of 18 in D&D (max on a 3d6) is not quite exactly the same as Strength of 6 in Unisystem (human max) even if mathematically they are the same.   Still though, back in the day I would have eaten this article up.  I say "would have" because I have recollection of reading this issue when it was out.

Starbase includes a quick Traveller scenario designed to cure trigger happy players.

Open Box has a treat for us, the Fiend Folio. Jamie Thomson gives the hometown publication a solid 8/10.  ICBM is a nuclear war mini-game that is described as too easy and only gets a 4/10.  Ley Sector is a Judges Guild Traveller add on. It only gets 6/10 due to many typos. There are two new Traveller books from GDW, Marooned/Marooned Alone (adventure 4) and Library Data A-M (supplement 8).  They get very high marks for novices earning a 10/10 and 9/10 respectively.  Experienced players will find them useful, only not as much so, dropping their scores to 9 and 7 respectively.  Steve Jackson has a new mini-game out Undead that follows the story of Dracula and gets an 8/10.

The War Smiths are the new class from Character Conjuring.  A subclass of the fighter these guys excel making armor, shields and weapons of war. They even have some minor magic to allow them to perform their trade better.  While I don't think it makes for a very good class, it does make for some interesting background.  The War Smiths could be an esoteric order that learns magic and fighting skills to make better weapons.

Steve Cook presents On Target, a critical hit system for Traveller, but easily adapted to other systems.

Operation Counterstrike by Marcus L. Rowland is an AD&D scenario that blends fantasy and sci-fi and inspired by War of the Worlds.  It is longer than most scenarios and the font is tiny.  So this one is a long one.  A very interesting idea.  What your characters do if they were suddenly invaded by alien technological lifeforms.

Letters and then Treasure Chest.   Someone was watching the old Spider-man cartoons, we have Web devices and boots of sticking to walls.

Fiend Factory has an assortment of woodland beasts including a black unicorn and an undead Dryad.

There is a recap of the Games Day and then ads.
One of the ads is for the TSR mini-games including Vampyre.  I think that for the longest time I confused Vampyre and Undead.  Both were mini-games focusing on Dracula. I never owned Undead, but I did buy Vampyre.  One day I should see if I can get a hold of both of them.

Witch Books, Part 3. Pathfinder

To many Pathfinder is the heir-apparent to the legacy of D&D, to others it's the biggest retro-clone out there.   But regardless of how you view Pathfinder, one thing is for certain, it is wildly successful.

Pathfinder also has it's own witch class from the Advanced Player's Guide.  It is nice and has a cool vibe about it, there are somethings I don't care about it.  I talked about it detail here, and offered up a couple of Prestige Classes here and here.

Other companies though have filled the gaps with their own Pathfinder-compatible witches.

A Necromancer's Grimoire: Secrets of the Witch
This book offers up the Green Hag as a playable race for the Witch class.  Sort of.  It is more of a race-as-class, but close enough to the witch to work.  Anyone that played D&D back in the late 70s will have no issues with this really.  There are also plenty of new feats and hexes that can be used by the witch or Green Hag.  There are also plenty of new spells.  This is a good book if you are a witch completest like me, or would like to use hags in your pathfinder game.

For a fuller witch I would also grab The Book of Faith (spells) and Paths of the Druid (for some Prestige Classes and ideas for familiars).

Advanced Feats: The Witch's Brew (Pathfinder RPG)
Certainly one of the more interesting books for the new Pathfinder witch class. You will need the Advanced Player's Guide to get the most of of this book obviously.
We start off with a brief overview/analysis of the witch class.  Not bad really, but nothing we can get from the APG.
On to the meat of the book, the 30 new feats.  They are a mixed bag, but for the most part they add a lot flavor to the witch.  There are some familiar affecting feats which is nice, and commentary/sidebars on a few.
There are also 3 sample witch builds that you can use to make your own.

Witch Spell Cards for the Pathfinder Role Playing Game

Exactly what is says on the tin.  Spell cards you can print out and use with your Pathfinder APG Witch.
If you like cards then these are great.  If you prefer sheets then they can still be used.

Paths of Power
Described as a source book for Base and Prestige Classes.  This book features a new Witch class. This witch has "Circle" magic and gets spells based on Wisdom as do the witches in the 3.0 book I did years ago.  This witch is a nice alternative to the Pathfinder Witch.  If you were to use both I would call this one a "Witch" and the APG one a "Warlock".   In addition to the witch we get the Anti-Paladin, elemental wizards, gladiators, samurai and the Voyager.  NPC classes include the Courtesan, Captain and Sycophant.  Truthfully I only found the Courtesan useful.  Prestige classes include the Child of Bast, Crypt Stalker and the Envenomed.  Personally I would have liked the PrCs to be a little more related to the base classes.
There is though plenty of magic items and spells. There are also plenty of new witch-related feats.
Since I bought it for the witch alone, I am actually pretty satisfied with what I got.

Book of Arcane Magic
Another great book from 4-Winds Fantasy Gaming.  This one focuses on the Arcane Spellcaster in Pathfinder.  While the book predates the APG Witch, a lot of these new spells and ideas can be used with the witch.  Of course they are all also fine to use as they are.  In particular I liked all the new Sorcerer bloodlines and colleges of Wizardry.  I like the idea of my wizard doing post-graduate work in magic.
There are new familiars, spells and magic items.  So it is worth it just for these.

The Book of Divine Magic
Likewise, the Book of Divine Magic adds more material to your cleric, druid and paladin classes (and Rangers).  There is a list of gods and their domains. Plenty of new spells.  Rules for temples and divine animal companions (like familiars) and new magic items and relics. Avery densely packed 94 pages.

Up next are a the "With a Bullet Point" series on witches from Super Genius Games.  Designed to be quick guides that can be used with a minimal of prep time and minimal cost.  I like the idea.

#1 With a Bullet Point: 5 Magic Witch's Daggers
Here we have 5 magical Athame ("ath-a-may") or daggers that can be used by witches.  These weapons work in conjunction with the witch's hexing ability, though they can be used as magical weapons as well.
Short, sweet and to the point. There is nothing to complain about here.

#1 With a Bullet Point: 13 Witch Hexes
Again one page, one buck.  This time we get 13 hexes that can be used by the witch. Some blur the line between what could be a hex and what could be a feat, but all in all they work fine.

#1 With a Bullet Point: 9 Witch Hunter Feats
Hard to mess with a good thing.  A page for the cover, a page for the OGL and then a page of nine feats for Witch hunters to either protect them from witches or to help them when battling the forces of darkness.  If you enjoyed the Genius Guide to the Witch Hunter (below), then this is a great addition.  If you don't have that you can still use this product. 

Super Genius Games also produces the "Genius Guides" which are larger and go more in-depth.  

Advanced Options: Witches' Hexes
This book surprisingly has no overlap with SGG's With A Bullet Point: 13 Witch Hexes.  The hexes listed here are all new and there also Major and Grand hexes detailed.  There are even some hex-related feats.

The Genius Guide to the Witch Hunter
Where there are witches there will be witch hunters.  This is a full 20-level class devoted to witch-hunting.  Plenty of powers, abilities and feats are detailed.  I think this would have worked as a prestige class, but this is pretty good.

Legendary Levels II
This book, like the first LL, deals with Pathfinder "Legendary" Levels, of levels 21 to 30. What 3.0/3.5 called Epic Levels. I think they picked "Legendary" as not to confuse it with D&D4. There is a Legendary Witch in this book, which is why I got it, but the rest is pretty good as well. In particular I liked the Legendary Samurai  and the Dragon Lord prestige class.  I Would have enjoyed seeing more prestige classes myself, but the book's focus was "Legendary classes" and note really prestige ones.  Plenty of new feats and I REALLY liked the art in this book.  So at the end of the day it was worth it to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hex Girls: Lord Salem on TV?

Faithful reader Danny pointed this out to me the other day.

On the new Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated there was a character, Hebediah Grim, who is very similar to my own "Lord Salem".



The episode was called Grim Judgement and I guess the character was the ghost of a Puritan judge (thus the mallet).

http://scoobydoo.wikia.com/wiki/Hebediah_Grim
http://scoobydoomysteryincorporated.tumblr.com/post/29064054832/happening-now-on-mystery-incorporated-a-puritan
http://scoobydoo.wikia.com/wiki/Grim_Judgement

I am not surprised they come up with a character like this.  Using a Puritan judge or witch-hunter is kind of a no-brainer really.

I will have to watch this episode sometime and see if I get any ideas.  Maybe for the game I can rework it into an CAH2 episode where the girls Lord Salem/Grimm are attacking actually are witches.  Maybe this is the first time we see him.

Witch Books, Part 2. d20 years

Continuing on my previous post on the witch classes for the D&D game.  In this post I'll focus on the the early batch of d20 and later books.

DMG Witch
Let's not forget that the witch was a "sample" character in the 3.0 edition DMG.  She was basically a Sorcerer that had a different spell list.  Dropped some of the iconic damage spells of the Wizard in favor of some minor Cleric spells.   I always considered this the baseline witch. Though since it was not in the SRD I avoided reading about it.  When working on Liber Mysterium back in the day I was very, very strict about what I would read.  In fact I have a spread sheet full of spells and I would have discussions on what was and was not a witch spell.  In the end I ended up with a list that was not too unlike the witch spell list in the DMG, but I have tons of documentation of how I got it.  We were more concerned back then that WotC was going to stomp out any d20 infraction they found.  Still glad I did all the work though.  I was able to go back to it for all my other witch books.

Relics & Rituals
While not a book about witches per se, there is a lot in this book to like.
This was one of the very first additional magic books available for the d20 game.  It has a number of things that would be expected.  There are a good number of Prestige Classes for starters and I particularly liked the Blood Witch and the Sea Witch.  There are new feats and hundreds of new spells.  But the real gem of this book and the reason why it is still good to have today are the ritual casting rules.  There was a time that including a copy of these was mandatory in any new d20 book magic it seemed. They were frankly some of the best mutli-caster rules I had seen to that date and I have not seen anything else in the d20 world that has since come close.  Throw in scads of magic items and the book is a steal at twice this price really.

The Quintessential Witch - Mongoose (Print) (PDF)
I am not a huge fan of the older Mongoose books.  There are number of issues with the classes all over over the place, odd editing and art that runs the gambit.  This book is not any different.  The witch class is pretty typical of the time (early days of the d20 boom).  There is a wide variety of Prestige classes, which is nice, but not all of them are usable.  The book tends to be full of a lot cliches.   Though the ones that are good (Occultist, Puppet Mistress) are very good.  There is a good section on new uses for skills including telling fortunes and a good section of feats. There are new spells and new magic items, as expected, but the coolest thing might be the Places of Power.  Some Times of Power ends the book (also a good section).

The Witch's Handbook - Green Ronin
Certainly a great effort.  There is a lot I really like about this book.  The gems of this book are the ideas for skills and of course the fantastic cover art by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.  Like my own d20 book this witch uses Wisdom to cast Arcane spells.  I still kinda like that to be honest.   There are a lot of nice Prestige Classes here.  There are new spells and like Way of the Witch below it uses the Ritual Casting rules from Relics & Rituals which were very much in vogue at the time.
There is no PDF of this I can buy which is disappointing really.

Way of the Witch -  Citizen Games
Style-wise this is the best of the lot of the early witch books for d20.  Hard cover, with some of the most beautiful art I have seen in a book.  I mean look at that Thomas Denmark cover.
The witch is basic and has a lot a really nice features.  The prestige classes are simple, but functional, dividing the witch into White, Black, Grey and Brown witches.  There are some other nice ideas as well.  The authors really took their time and care with this one and it really shows.
Alas, Citizen games did not make it out of the d20 boon alive.  They were going to come out with a second witch book, Seasons of the Witch, and I had heard a little about it.  I had high expectations really.
I am also disappointed that there is no pdf of this I can buy anywhere.  It would be great to have all my witch books in one place on my hard drive(s).

Lions' Den Press: Classes of Legend: The Witch
This one is different enough from the Pathfinder or DMG versions of the witch class to merit it's own product.  There are some new feats and spells.  All 20 levels are presented as well as some "High Witchcraft" alternate levels. Some good ideas here and not bad for the price.

The Enduring: Witches and Shamans
This book gives us a Faery Witch and Shaman class.  There is some natural overlap between the two.   In addition there are also 3 new prestige classes and 22 new feats.  There are a fair number of new magic items and a lot of new spells. There are also quite a few new monsters that are likely to exist in the same worlds as witches and shamans.   The classes seem a bit overpowered for straight d20 ones, but might make good Pathfinder classes.  The feats and spells are mixed bag. I have seen similar sorts of feats and spells in other books, some better, some worse.  But for the price, this is a good deal.  I am not a huge fan of the art, but it is not bad.

Unorthodox Witches
A lot of different types of witches built from the d20 rules. A few new ideas and a lot recycled art.
If you are looking for new ideas for witches, wizards or other types of spellcasters.
After going over this book again all these years later there is actually quite a bit more for your money.  55+ pages, and plenty of classes, there is a lot here that can use right out of the box or combine for something new.  The key word that I was forgetting here was "Unorthodox" and these certainly fit.  While I see this primarily as a GMs tool, there is likely to be a class in here that you will want to try if you are into witches.  Just because it is called a Beguiler or Crescent flyer, doesn't matter, that is just to separate them all out from each other.
There is something good here if you like arcane classes. Or any class with a bit of mystery to it.
Actually I would not use them as classes, but edit them a bit for Prestige classes for the Witch.

Lost Classes: Chaos Witch
Some products you buy for the content, some for the art. This was both.  I was working on the Chaos Witch for WitchCraft a while back and I wanted to see what is was all about.  Plus the witch on the front looks like Raven from the Teen Titans.  I didn't actually use anything here for the WitchCraft Chaos Magick, but I did enjoy this.

It is an interesting Prestige Class that adds a bit of randomness to her spell casting effects. She gains a few extra spell-like abilities and a random "hex" to curse people with.
A lot of fluff is given for the class, but the crunch does not quite match up. Still an interesting class for an NPC or a witch-themed game.  Only 3 pages, but the price is low.


Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: NeoWitch Guardian
An advanced class for d20 Modern.  Has some nice features and powers.  I particularly like the broom (Besom) attacks. Great for d20 modern with magic.

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