Sunday, December 30, 2012

Return of the Dragon Slayers!

I got a chance to play with the boys again today.  We continued the DragonSlayers game from a while back.  To recap they had just entered the Temple of Tharizdun and had held off the advancing hordes with a Wall of Flame spell.

I upped the stats of all the goblins, trolls and norkers in the place to make them partially demonic.  Centuries of interbreeding has made them them evil, but dumb.  The boys cleared out one side of the temple and found the access to the Black Cyst.  

They recovered the Lament of Tharizdun, but the mostly Neutral Good party wants nothing to do with it.  They have no issue with the legendary 333 gems of Tharizdun.  

I am setting Tharizdun up as the next big bad.  But not till the next generation. That is the 1st Ed AD&D game I started with the children of these characters.

I printed out the newer symbol of Tharizdun and had it ready. One of the demonic trolls had it on his armor, so I showed it to the boys.  After some Knowledge Arcana, History and Religion rolls I announced that they didn't know what it was.  My youngest, playing a half-elf Sorcerer/Ranger/Arcane Archer stated "I know exactly what it is. It's a target!!" and he fired two flaming arrows into the troll.


I have to admit, I was pretty amused by that!

They finished the adventure and high tailed it back to Glantri City.  They are planning on taking a couple of months break before the next leg of their adventures, but I doubt it will be that long.  There is some trouble brewing in Two Lake Vale and strange cloud over the land.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zatannurday: Into 2013!

We are nearing the very end of 2012 and the last Zatannurday of the year.

I thought it might be nice to get a preview of the new year and next weeks Justice League Dark.



Looking forward to reading this arc! (Once I catch up of course.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Grumble*Sprint sucks*grumble

Was going to work on a post today.  But been on hold fighting with Sprint over the crappy ass phone they sold my son.

Hopefully something soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Star Trek RPGs

I was chatting a little bit with my buddy Greg on Star Trek RPGs.  He had mentioned while he love Trek he has yet to find an RPG that really captures that proper Trek feel.

I give Greg the benefit of the doubt on this one, he has played all the Trek RPGs out there and playtested a few more.  He has also played more SciFi games than I have.

Now I will admit that so far Starships & Spacemen 2e seems to fit the bill rather nicely, it's not perfect. In fact in my mind it even has a couple of potential problems, but I am not talking about that one today.

So let me ask you all.
What does a game need to have or do to be a "Star Trek" game? 
Any series is fine.  Any game is fine.  Just let me know why it works.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #45

Have a good Christmas/Yule/Festivist?  Good.  While we are all sleeping off the day and recovering from presents and Doctor Who and how ever much food we all ate let's sit back and cast our minds back to a simpler time.  The date is September 1983 and the Magazine is White Dwarf #45.

The cover is interesting.  I am sure she is supposed to be a demon of some sort, given the contents of the issue.  I don't really like it to be honest.  Something about it rubs me the wrong way.

Normally I don't comment on the ads very much and that is shame really.  The ads are always a good way to pulse of the gaming trends.  I should mention though that on page 6 is the first time we see the Mentzer edited D&D Basic Set, AKA the Red Box in pages of the White Dwarf.  To some this is the signal flare of the end of the Golden Age, to many others this was their start with D&D.  For me it was the first D&D product that I made a choice not to buy.  I felt I didn't need it.  I have the Holmes and Moldvay Basic sets, why did I need this?  Plus I was heavy into AD&D at this point.  Moving on.

Ian's editorial mentions this issue is the last phase of the changes that had begun a while back with the addition of two new comics to the pages of WD.  He reminds that there is a read survey.

Open Box gives us yet more classics.  The Avalon Hill classic Wizards is reviewed.  To me this game was what I really liked about gaming in this era.  All sorts really cool games that I could mine for ideas.  I loved the idea of Wizards and shameless mined it for ideas for my own Wizard Schools and Druid Groves.  I really should find a copy of this again someday.  Alan E. Paul gives is 7/10 total.   We have a collection of the new I Series from TSR.  I2, I3, and I4 plus M1, TSR's first solo module.  The "M" stood for the "Magic" of revealing the hidden text.  Or so I always have thought.  I always thought T&T did better with the solo modules, so I never cared for this one.  Jim Babbra gives them 9/10, 10/10, 10/10 and 6/10 respectively.   Oliver Dickson reviews Pavis: Threshold to Danger for RuneQuest.  I have never heard of this one before, but it sounds interesting (I am sure one you knows about this one).  It gets a 9/10.

Critical Mass reviews some more current Sci-Fi and Fantasy books and some outside of that.  I'll ignore the SStephen R. Dondalson poetry and move right to the 1982 Hugo award winning Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh.  He struggles to like the book, but somehow it just does quite get there.

Dave Morris has Part 2 of Dealing With Demons.  This time the Lesser Demons. Like a lot of articles written for other games I ported them over to to D&D, with the Porphyrs becoming Astral Vampires in my games.

Starbase has an Introduction to Traveller Scenarios.  I had finally thrown in the towel on Traveller at this point, but I still enjoyed reading the articles.

Marcus Rowland has an article on Thieves tools.  Interesting read, but not something we ever used.

We come to our first new comic Thurd the Barbarian.  Amusing liitle tale.
Next page is out next new comic, the Travellers.  I enjoyed what they were trying to do here, but never got into it.

Part 4 of Irilian is next. 6 more pages of urban goodness. I still think TSR missed the boat on doing an Urban Survival Guide.  I wish I still had all my notes for mine.

More letters. More people disappointed in Lew Pulsipher.

RuneRites has some clarifications on Divinations.

Thistlewood is a first, and certainly not the last, Warhammer Adventure in the pages of WD.  I hate to sounds all maudlin but this here is the signal of the beginning of the end.  I stopped reading WD regularly around issue 50.  It was harder to get by me by then and any extra money I had for magazine went to Dragon and the new Dungeon later on.

Fiend Factory, our constant companion here, has some monsters from the elemental planes, with focus on the "new" para-elemental planes.  Very interesting ones too.   To follow up on this there is the next article on various items from the elemental planes.

Ok this next article is an odd one.  Under the title of Super Mole it is an RPG industry gossip column.
I have no memory of this and I am not sure if it survived much after this.  There is a con report and then on to the gossip.  It is reported that 100 of TSR's 300 staff were laid-off (they don't use those words) and Kevin Blume is now President of TSR while Gary is out looking for that D&D movie.  Wow. I guess I have a right to be maudlin.  This issue reads more and more like an obit for the Grognards of the Golden Age of D&D.  Reports that 3 companies want the Marvel Super Hero license, TSR, Games Workshop and Mayfair. I wonder who is going to get it?  Games Workshop will publish their Golden Heroes with out the Marvel Content anyway it is claimed.   We get an overview of the Red Box D&D and promises of an Expert Set.  The HeartQuest books are mentioned as a means to get more girls into the fold.   And some rumors of Marc Miller's Traveller hardback not seeing the light of day anytime soon.

The page concludes with Gobbledigook.

The next page has the new reader survey. They are still offering a prize draw if you can get it back to them by October 1, 1983.

We end with more ads.

I don't want to say this is the beginning of the end for WD. It isn't. Nor did I feel so then.  But retrospect is a funny thing.  Know what I know now and knowing when things began to happen it is hard not to look at this issue as a transitional one.  At this time in 83 I was in my own personal Golden Age of gaming.  Things were great and they were going to get better. I had a job and I could buy the things I wanted, for the most part, or save for the things I really wanted.  The next five or so issues will be very interesting to revisit.  Some I have not reread since I picked up this box of White Dwarfs at a Garage sale so many years ago.   Some I will wager will be like reading them for the first time.  Once we get into the 60s and 70s I know there will be more like that.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy BOXing Day

We are celebrating Boxing day a day early here at the Other Side.

I am opening up Box.com functionality for all my free downloads.





So please expect some more content here as I am working on gathering up material and getting it out to you all.

So Happy Boxing Day!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Year 2012 in reveiw

It is just about that time to get reflective on the year we have past and look forward to the new year.

Kickstarter
2012 might well go down as the Year of the Kickstarter.  Sure we had Kickstarters in 2011, but this was the year that everyone seemed to be getting on board.
We saw the introduction of the RPG Kickstarter Group on Facebook and I'd wager we will get something similar on Google Plus Community soon.    One of the more useful sites though has been Tenkar's Tavern and his round up of late Kickstarters.

Movies
I mentioned the Hobbit already, but 2012 was a great year for movies.  All sorts of Superhero action, with the Dark Knight Rises as my favorite super hero movie of the year.  I also enjoyed Brave quite a bit.

Games
Not much came out this year that I had to have. My Witch book came out and I was quite pleased with that.
In terms of running games, well it has been a busy year.
I am still running the D&D 3.x with my two sons, the Dragonslayers.  We had hoped to finish up this year but various things got in the way.  I started a new 4e game with my sons and some of their friends.  That one is more intermittent, but still enjoyable.   At Gen Con we also started a new 1st Ed game, designed as a "Next Generation" of our 3.x game.  I introduced my oldest son to Ghosts of Albion and he enjoyed it.  I want to introduce Doctor Who to them both since I think my youngest would like it as well.

The Edition Wars seemed to end, more or less.  WotC is working on 5e and printing 1st Ed material.  The OSR and Pathfinder is still chugging along.

Blog Traffic
So far this year I am sitting at 540 or so posts compared to 511 for last year.
My total traffic is down 109,747 visits (as of this writing  this year compared to 121,509 visits last year.  This is a general trend I think most bloggers are seeing.  While this is all down there is not a huge change in the patterns of traffic, just less of it.  One thing I have yet to figure out is why Google Analytics gives me different numbers than the Google Blogger stats.  For example if I just look at Blogger stats I got  over 300,000 hits this last year.
Regardless of the amount, the trends are about the same.

Here are my Top Ten Referers for 2012:
  1. rpgbloggers.com
  2. dreamsofmythicfantasy.blogspot.com
  3. rpgba.org
  4. tenkarstavern.com
  5. facebook.com
  6. networkedblogs.com
  7. hillcantons.blogspot.com
  8. dreamsinthelichhouse.blogspot.com
  9. matt-landofnod.blogspot.com
  10. theoreticalgm.blogspot.com

Google+
A lot of what is going on with Blogger and Bloggers is Google Plus. A lot of bloggers have been spending more time on talking and posting Google Plus.

Reviews
By the end of last year I had written a little over 200 reviews for DriveThruRPG.  This year I reached my goal of 500 and hit 531.  Not sure what my goal should be for 2013.

2013
Not sure what the new year will bring to the Other Side yet.  I want to continue White Dwarf Wednesday and Zatannurday.  More games and reviews to be sure.  I have a few WiPs I can alos talk about more next year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Zatannurday: Merry Christmas

More Christmas messages from the Other Side's Magician in Residence, Zatanna Zatara!







Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas,  and Happy New Year.


Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the end of the world as...

well. you the idea.

So end of the world. Again. No pole shift. No whatever it was the Mayans said was going to happen.  Of course if I am wrong we will all be dead by the time you read this so I am safe in calling bullshit once again.

Ok lets get on to some better stuff.  Like end of the world in games!  I could spend a lot time discussing all sorts of great Post-Apoc games but really I only want to talk about one.

Gamma World.

A while back I mentioned that despite by ridiculous fondness for Mutant Future, I never owned a copy of Gamma World. Ever.  Well Justin Davis over at the great A Field Guide to Doomsday heard my tale of woe and he sent me one of his extra copies!


It's only the book, and it has some water damage and shelf wear. Plus there is a 50 cent garage sale sticker on it...and it is absolutely PERFECT!

I have read Gamma World before.  Friends have had copies and I have always meant to go out to get one but never did.

I am surprised how much I enjoyed reading this.  This really was like finding some long lost artifact of a different age.
A couple of things I noted right away.
- This really made me appreciate Mutant Future so much more.  So Justin, if your goal was to get me interested in MF more, then you succeeded!
- I can't help but think that the table of Random Mutations is perfect for a random demon generator for the OSR crowd.

So I want to thank Justin for my early Christmas gift! 

I always feel a bit awkward when I get stuff.  I appreciate it and love the books, esp. if it is something I have been searching for for years.  But I also don't want to come over as begging for stuff.
So I think I'll pay it forward.  I have some extras of books laying around, next time I see someone in our little group here saying they need one of them they might just get a package in the mail!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#7RPGS

Over at Google+ #7RPGs  there is new meme making the rounds and Gnome Stew has picked up.
The idea is to post your 7 RPGs you have most played or GMed.

So lets give it a go!

1. Dungeons & Dragons (all editions) I am combining these all into one category since my games have a 30+ year continuity.  This is the one I started with and continue to play to this day.  It is also number one on my running list. I have played and run all editions of D&D.  Well...I have never run OD&D, only played it.


2. Buffy/Angel/Army of Darkness/Ghosts of Albion.
We began playtesting Buffy in 2002.  I played it pretty much from the second the rules hit the playtesters. I wrote for all the books as well, so it should be no surprise that this one is so high.  When I started on Ghosts of Albion I moved the campaign wholesale to that. I still get to run this quite a bit, but not play as much as I would like.


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/ghosts%20of%20albion

3. WitchCraft (along with AFMBE & Armageddon).  From 1999 to 2002 WitchCraft was my only game. I had given up on D&D at this point and Buffy and Ghosts had not been written yet.  It was (and is still really) everything I wanted in a game. It's perfect in my mind. When I pitched the idea of Ghosts of Albion to Eden I wanted it to use WitchCraft as it's base.  Thankfully I was talked out of that in favor of the same system for Buffy.  While OD&D and 4e have less in common than WitchCraft and Buffy, I separate WitchCraft from Buffy because of how they are played.


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/unisystem

4. BESM. I played this quite a bit in the early part of the 2000s with my son, trying to find a game he would enjoy.  I grabbed this because I was looking for something to work as a more powerful version of Buffy with some super hero and some anime influences. It was a fun game and I wish that it had done better in the market.


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/BESM

5. Mutants & Masterminds. I enjoy supers games and have tried a number of them over the years, but M&M is my favorite.  I love pretty much everything about it. I enjoy the background, the rules, even how the rules were created and what they meant to the OGL. I am also happy that M&M 3 is the same system being used for DC Adventures.  I have run this a few times and played it a few but would like to do it more.

 

http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/mutants%20masterminds

6. Call of Cthulhu.  While I have mentioned my fondness for Chill, many, many times I never got a chance to play it or run it very much.  On the other hand I have played Call  of Cthulhu a few times int he 80s.  I was going to run it in the 2000s, but Ghosts of Albion and Buffy distracted me. Still this is the pinacle of horror games and I have always enjoyed it.


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search?q=cthulhu

7. World of Darkness (oWod).  World of Darkness changed everything.  To think otherwise is to ignore all the facts. I loved what Vampire did for all horror games  and games in general, though I will be honest that I didn't see it at the time.  My game was Mage.I thought it was fantastic and so near perfect.  It turned out I would later find the perfect game (WitchCraft) but I still really enjoyed this game. I picked up all the New World of Darkness games but they seemed to lack something of the original games had even if the new rules were better.

http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/world%20of%20darkness

Links to others
http://towerofzenopus.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-7-games-youve-played-most.html
http://derekas.blogspot.com/2012/12/7rpgs-as-player.html
http://derekas.blogspot.com/2012/12/7rpgs.html
http://www.gnomestew.com/crock-pot/the-7-rpgs-youve-gmed-the-most-and-the-7-rpgs-youve-played-the-most/
http://rathergamey.blogspot.com/2012/12/top-games.html

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I am running a risk here

of sounding like a broken record, but the Witch is out in print.  I just got my copies of the softcover version today.


If anything it looks even better than the hardcover copy I had made for myself.

I love how it came out, it looks really fantastic and I am very, very pleased that you all can get a copy too.

White Dwarf Wednesday #44

White Dwarf #44 was one of my favorite issues.  I am not sure why that is exactly.  Maybe something to do with the cover.  Needless to say I love her totally 80's hair. And I am not sure that her armor is actually doing much.   This cover is like a combination of Tolkien and Heavy Metal Magazine.  Tolkien that is if this some alternate 80's reality version of Middle Earth.
I would though like a better copy of this art for my game room.  I have to admit I am a bit confused.  I am unsure if this cover was done by Alan Craddock (as I assumed) or Jim Burns (who is listed as the cover artist).  Like a lot of art from this time it seems to pop up in other places.

Cheesecake aside there are a lot of things in this magazine I used; so page for page this was the most useful issue for me.  This was  the height of White Dwarf's golden age for me.

This is also the issue that almost got me back into Traveller with it's nice big full color ad.
Let's jump in and see what August 1983 has in store for us.

In the editorial Ian Livingstone talks about the changes that will conclude come issue #45.  Among other things we are getting the first comic of Thrud the Barbarian.

Marcus Rowland has a new idea for moving the plot along in Traveller with ICE, the Interstellar Charter Enterprises.  Nice idea for some independent operators in Traveller that beats the stand by "You all met in an inn a spaceport when...."

Open Box gives us some classics.  First up is the The Shadows of Yog Sothoth. Which gets a rare, but in my mind deserved, score of 10/10 from Ian Bailey.   Steve Jackson continues the mini-game line with a company defining game. Not GURPS, but Illuminati.  Phil Masters only gives the first two sets a 6/10 each, disliking some of the rules and complexity.  Marcus Rowland steps away from Traveller to review two Endless Quest books and is not impressed. Reviewed are Revolt of the Dwarves and Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, each only getting a 5/10. Finally Jim Bambra reviews what is destined to be some of the last of the "Golden Age" of the TSR modules.  He gives high marks to S4 (9/10) and WG4 (9/10) which I agree with.  He also likes N1 and U2 (8/10 each).

Critical Mass has a bunch of new books to review, or at least mention.  This was the great age of 80s Sci-Fi and the OtherWorlds club.  I remember then not begin able to read enough.  Oddly enough the article bemoans the lack of good Sci-Fi and fantasy, or at least the lack of attention on new good books.  I know that at age 14 I did not have a very advanced or sophisticated palette but I don't recall it like this.

Lew Pulsipher is up next with an article I have read and reread hundreds of times.  True Sight is all about realism in your games.  In the time following this I was all about realism.  I wanted to know where the arrows hit, what the GDP of a country was in GP  and how did adventurers factor into that.  All that.  I have since given all that up and now just enjoy the moment of the play.  But this is still a great article. Not on realism, but what realism means to you and your game.

Charles Vasey is next with the bi-monthly Board Games column, Counterpoint.  This one cover the Sanctuary Board game based on the then uber-popular Thieves World books.  I loved Thieves World and gladly grabbed anything I could. But this gem never made to my stores (which were still just book stores).  Vasey also covers the Consulting Detective game.  Interestingly enough at the time that had no interest for me.  Today it is the other way around.

Dave Morris has Dealing With Demons in RuneQuest.  I cannibalized this article for all sorts of ideas for D&D.  There have been better articles on the subject since, but none grabbed my attention quite like this one.  Yeah at 14 in the middle of the Satanic Panic in the Midwest I was devouring articles about summoning demons in D&D.   The article is long and only the first part, but I used every bit of it.

Microview has more software for us.  A Zx81 BASIC program for AD&D or T&T combat.  At only a couple score lines it doesn't really do much.  Still though I loved it.

Irilian is back with part 3.  Only 3 more to go for the complete town.

RuneRites has some new monsters for RuneQuest, a first really.  Only two, a Kirin and a Golem. But since they had analogs with monsters in D&D it gave me my first taste at converting some monsters from one system into D&D.  Since I didn't have any other monsters these both became a demon type for me to use with the Dealing with Demons article.

Fiend Factory is back with Tribal monsters.  We have an odd dragon/centaur like race call Wodennians.  Never used them because I thought they looked silly.  We have a race of "Evil Halflings of the Underworld" called, of all things, Blacklings.  I liked the idea but HATED the name.  Even then it struck me as stupid.  I used them, but I made them pale like what you would expect a race that lived underground to be like.  Some of those ideas later were worked into my ideas for Drow.  Intitally I hated the next creature, the Wohk, because they seemed dumb and I didn't like their spontaneous regeneration.  But over the years I have come to like them as something so odd it could only work in D&D.  Yelgs are like Green Orcs and some of my first orcs of my world were green.

It may surprise some but my first character was a cleric and I enjoyed the hell out of playing him.  So when I got a copy of Graeme Davis' Seeing the Light article I went about trying to convert everyone to my cleric's religion and gaining XP for it.  I did it so much in fact that if you read my witch books now you will notice that one of the things about witches is they DON'T try to convert you.

More ads and classifieds.  Another Gobbledigook strip.

Again, it is not understating it that I milked this issue for everything it had back then.

I mentioned above that this particular bit of cover art had been reused.  Here are a couple of examples that appeared after this cover came out.

Here is one for an Irish 80s Metal Band Blackwych..  Which of course begs the question "Why have I not heard of these guys before??"



And the cover for "Fires of Azeroth" by C. J. Cherryh. No. It has nothing to do with WoW.


I have no problem admitting that I created a character solely based on this cover. Ok I gave her better armor.  Also she was a character that most everyone else hated in my games, but changed the course of not only my 80s D&D game, but also my 2000s Buffy/Willow & Tara games.  Yeah, that image was the source of my inspiration for Morgan Ebonflame, the Hunter of the Dead and the Daughter of Death.  She was a PC in games I played and an NPC in games I ran in my group's shared world.  
I find it interesting that the C.J. Cherryh's book was part of the "Morgaine" series and my character was named "Morgan".  That is one of those weird happenstances, but I don't rule out that I had seen this cover sometime in the mid-80s.  I would have rolled up Morgan around 1985 or so.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Xothia: The Dwarven Witch

Dwarven Witches
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, 
While hammers fell like ringing bells 
 In places deep, where dark things sleep, 
 In hollow halls beneath the fells.

I saw the Hobbit and it renewed the feeling I get every so often when playing D&D.  Dwarves and bad-asses and you should not mess with them.  This notion inspired me to post this. Enjoy!

The Xothia appear in my latest book, The Witch, but can be used in any Retro clone that has dwarves.

OGL declaration. All text below is designated as Open under OGL. All art is retained by the copyright holder and is not open under the OGL.

The Xothia of the Rock

   “Where are we headed Jornek?” asked Tuir, a young hill dwarf of only 80 summers.  They were walking in the rain up a mountain path, and Tuir hated the rain.
   “We are going to get answers.” repeated the older dwarf for what seemed like the thousandth time this morning.  Jornek did not care for the rain either, but it was not as annoying as his young nephew’s constant complaining.  Were he not his sisters son…
   “I thought we were going to go to the human city and seek out one of their sages?” replied Tuir.
   “That is what I wanted the clan to think.” came Jornek’s short reply. “We are going to see Royrn, the Xothia of the Rock.”
   Tuir stopped dead in his tracks.  “A Xothia!” he cried out. “what could *she* possibly do?  Except maybe to bewitch us and make us her slaves!”
   Jornek grabbed his young charge and pulled him back on to the path. “Put your lips together you fool.  You have the tongue of a gnome but none of their sense!  This is why I did not tell you or anyone.  The Xothia of the Rock has been known to our clan for centuries.  Our problem is magical, no human sage could understand!”
   Tuir was so quiet the rest the trip that Jornek almost regretted not telling him sooner.  But soon enough they approached a small cave opening.  Outside was small, but ornate gold gong.  Jornek took the striker and hit the gong three times. Tuir looked at the gong quizzingly and then to Jornek.  The older dwarf guessing his question only replied, “who would *dare* steal it?”  Jornek then walked into the cave with a nervous Tuir close behind.
   The sight that met Tuir’s eyes was almost overwhelming.  He had expected the cave to be dark, damp and gloomy, like a goblin’s hole, but instead it seemed, well more “elf” like.  There were brightly colored lamps hanging from outcroppings in the walls that sent an array of colors everywhere.  The floor was amazingly flat and clean.  To the back of this chamber were several doors.  But Tuir was not prepared for what, or rather who, he saw next.
   She was young, maybe no older than himself. She wore brightly colored clothes that were still dwarven style, but some how seemed more elfish.  Her most striking feature to Tuir was her face.  While she was obviously beautiful, she had no beard.  Among his clan a woman without a beard had no prospects of finding a husband.  This woman seemed not to care.
   “Merry Greetings, Jornek, Gornek’s son.” she said with a voice that sounded musical to Tuir’s ears.    “Please do us the honor of your presence.” And with that she bowed slightly.
   “Greetings to you and may I return some of the hospitality that you show today.” Jornek said as he bowed even lower.
   “You’re the…the Xothia of the Rock?” Tuir stammered out.  This got him a angry glare from Jornek, but a small musical laugh from the woman.
   “Not yet young Tuir, that honor belongs to my mistress and teacher.  Come, she is waiting.”
   The followed the woman to another, even larger chamber filled with lights.  Tuir was surprised to see a few other women, even a gnome woman. Most were writing in long scrolls, some were to busy starring at the new guests.  Then an unbelievably old woman entered the room.  The rest of the women snapped to attention, she made a motion with her hand and they all left.  Like the first and the current old woman, none of the women had beards.
   She repeated the greeting to Jornek as the younger woman had, only she added his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather as well.  Jornek had bowed even lower than he had before, his great beard sweeping the floor.  She then addressed Tuir. Jornek, as custom dictated, answered for his young charge. Tuir was too dazed to say anything or even move.  It was not till he got a withering glance from the elder dwarf that he too bowed low.
   Finally the Xothia looked at Tuir, starring at him, or through him, as if to divine his need.  She seemed to be unbelievably ancient to the young dwarf, and yet he still saw something in her eyes that spoke of youth. She addressed him in voice that reminded him of the echo of a subterranean pool.
   “Got yourself into a bit of trouble have we Tuir? Magic trouble no less.”  She asked, but not waiting for an answer. “My, my quite a bit of trouble for one so young.”
   “He is a fool Xothia, were he not my sister’s son.” Jornek started but was cut short by the woman. To Tuir’s surprise, and he admitted delight, Jornek seemed quite taken aback at this.
   “It is the privilege of youth to be foolish, but the responsibility of the aged to be wise.  If we wish not our young ones to be fools then we must teach them.” She said without even looking at Jornek.  In their clan no one would have silenced Jornek as if he were child. But no one in their clan was the Xothia either.
   “Now young Tuir” she continued “will you allow a old woman the chance to help and maybe even teach you a thing or two about this world?”

The Xothia

Xothia of the Rock by Daniel Brannan
The dwarven witch feels isolation from her normal community due the distrust of arcane magic among dwarves.  This distrust seems to date back in time to the first recorded appearance of dwarven witches, a coincidence that seems too strong to ignore.

In dwarven society, men and women are regarded as equals.  The dwarven witch is seen as contrary to this established reality.  Most dwarven witches feel deep fear when they first hear the Call and either leave their communities or try to suppress what they now know and feel. Dwarven witches become Solitaries, learning their art and faith directly from the Mother of Dwarves herself.

The social stigma of being a magic-using dwarf is tough to bear; and due their nature, dwarven witches tend to be far more chaotic than the normal dwarf population. While some find content with this life, others are constantly reminded that they will never truly belong, either as a dwarf or as a witch.  Dwarven witches are the rarest form of witch one will encounter.

The Xothia (“Zoe-thee-Ah”) witch of dwarven communities has taken her nearly insurmountable odds and turned them into unique advantages.  Feared for her power, isolated because of her ideals, and respected for her knowledge, the Xothia has become a living repository of dwarven lore, knowledge and magic.  All Xothia are female -- no male has ever joined their ranks -- and all are beardless.  Whether the Xothia are born that way or have their beard removed is one of but hundreds of their closely guarded secrets.  The leader of a coven of Xothia is often known as the Xothia, and is usually centuries old.  She is regarded as an advisor and sage to dwarven leaders; many will travel days or weeks to seek her out.

The Xothia lives apart from the main community of dwarves, where she and her coven can use magic to scry and record all that needs to be known.  Often such answers cannot be gathered by magic and the Xothia witch must travel the world in search of them.  A full coven of Xothia is nine witches, eight members and the Xothia.  Their manner and style of clothing have often been described as “elf-like,” not in insult, but as a means for the common dwarf to label what she does not know.  The ritual tools of the Xothia are the “Labrys” or small double bladed axe, and the “Malleus” or hammer. The labrys may be wielded with one hand.  It has two semi-circular blades on either side.  The labrys has a small knob on top of the shaft located between the two blades.

The Xothia Tradition is most similar to the Craft of the Wise, Classical or Family Traditions of Witchcraft and they may take the same Occult powers of those traditions.

The highest level witch regardless of level or title is known as The Xothia.


XOTHIA (Dwarf) WITCH EXPERIENCE TABLE
Level
Title
XP
HD
1
2
3
4
5
1
Dwarf Initiate
0
1d6
1
2
DwarfNeophyte
3,000
2d6
2
3
Dwarf Apprentice
6,000
3d6
2
1
4
Dwarf Sybil
12,000
4d6
2
2
5
Dwarf Adept
25,000
5d6
3
2
1
6
Dwarf Mystic
50,000
6d6
3
2
2
7
Dwarf Enchantress
110,000
7d6
3
3
2
1
8
Dwarf Sorceress
220,000
8d6
4
3
2
2
9
Xothia
400,000
9d6
4
3
3
2
1
10
Xothia
600,000
9d6+1
4
4
3
2
2
11
Xothia
800,000
9d6+2
4
4
4
3
2
12
Xothia
1,000,000
9d6+3
4
4
4
4
3
13
Xothia ("The Xothia")
1,200,000
9d6+4
4
4
4
4
4


XOTHIA (Dwarf) SAVING THROWS


Level
1-3
4-6
7-9
10-12
13
Death Ray or Poison
12
10
8
6
4
Magic Wands*
12
10
8
6
3
Paralysis or Turn to Stone
13
11
9
7
5
Dragon Breath
15
12
10
8
6
Rods, Staffs and Spells*
*Includes the bonuses Dwarven Witches also gain.
14
11
9
7
4

CHARACTER HIT ROLLS (on 1d20)
Level
Target's Armor Class
Dwarf
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
-1
-2
-3
-4
-5
-6
-7
-8
-9
1-3
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
20
20
20
20
21
22
23
24
4-6
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
20
20
20
20
21
22
7-9
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
20
20
20
20
10-12
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
20
20
13
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20


Section 15.
The Witch Copyright 2012 Timothy S. Brannan
"Dwarf Xothia" Copyright 2012 Timothy S. Brannan
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