Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts

Friday, July 4, 2014

Skylla: Dragon Magazine #114

The first witch class that many people remember the best is the very good Dragon Mag #114 version.
It was the first one I remember seeing and using.  Chances are if you ran into someone playing a witch anytime after 1986 then they were using this class.  Interesting that it was designed as an NPC class.
It was another update to the venerable witch from Dragon Mags #5, #20 and #43.  While issue #43 had a great deal of information, Dragon #114 is known for the art. There was controversial cover and the use of Larry Elmore art as one of the witches.   It was this issue that set the desire in my mind to have Elmore art in one of my books one day.

Like issues #5 and #20, Skylla seems to be a good fit for this witch.  Like those witches the prime abilities for this witch are Intelligence and Wisdom.   Charisma is still important since it determines the witch's starting gold.
The amount of magical powers this witch gets is much less though.  Some the power don't really make a lot of sense, like a find familiar ability at 10th level.
Spells are more inline with the other spell casters.
Like most AD&D spell casters the witch starts out weak, but soon grows to be very powerful.  Maybe too powerful for some games to be honest.

Skylla from Dragon #114
Again I am making her 7th level.  If I had to name a Tradition for her it would absolutely be the High Secret Order Tradition.

Not exactly Skylla, but really close
Skylla, 7th Level Witch "Mystic" (Dragon #114)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14* (bonus 2 1st level spells)
Wisdom: 13*
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  20
Alignment: Neutral Evil
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

1st level: none
2nd level: none
3rd level: Brew poisons & narcotics
4th level: Brew truth drug
5th level: Brew love potion
6th level: Manufacture potions & scrolls
7th level: Candle magic

First: Charm Man I, Darkness, Detect Poison, Give Wounds, Light, Magic Disk, Sleep
Second: Detect Invisiblity, Locate Object, ESP
Third: Calm, Lightning bolt
Fourth: Levitate

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, Skull of Death**

Of course I am pleased with this build but that is no surprise.   I played a "Dragon 114" witch till she was about 10th level and then rolled up a "Mayfair Witch", but that is a post for another day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interview / Round table Discussion at Aethercon

Here is a interview / round table discussion I did last month for AetherCon.

We spend a lot of time talking about Strange Brew but we talk for about an hour and half so we hit a lot of topics.

I really should have put a light on. It is kind of hard to see me.

So have a watch! Learn more about Strange Brew.

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Monster: Web Witch

Today is my mom's birthday.

Why should you care?  Well it was my mom that introduced me to the weird world of sci-fi, horror and the macabre.   Her idea of a bedtime story was telling about a haunted schoolhouse where the floors still were stained with the blood of two boys that killed each other in a knife fight.  Or of a man who was so sick of his nagging wife that he chopped her up and buried her in the garden, only to have the flowers grow with her face on them.  She introduced me to Dark Shadows and "documentaries" on Bigfoot and Atlantis.  Though to be fair I think my dad introduced me to the Twilight Zone and I know my love of bad horror movies comes from him.

So here is a creature she had to share with me last week.  It works well for D&D but I think she had more of a pulp feel for this.
Albino Spider by Mooki003

Web Witch

Human Form Spider Form
Armor Class: 8 [11] 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3*+2 (15 hp) 3*+12 (25 hp)
No. of Attacks: 1 poison dagger 1 bite
Damage: 1d6 + Poison 2d6 + Poison
Special: Magic, see below Invisibility
Movement: 30' 20' Web 40'
No. Appearing: 1 1
Save As: Witch 3 Fighter 3
Morale: 8 10
Treasure Type: Special Special
Alignment: Chaotic Chaotic
XP: 160 185

The web witch is a female humanoid that can also take the form of a huge spider.  Not a lycanthrope, the web witch can shift between forms once per round as often as she likes.  In her human form she appears as a smallish woman (possibly of elf decent) with very pale skin, long white hair and eyes with a reddish tinge.  She will typically wear a long black dress or gown that appears to be made of silk. It is, but her own spider silk.  When in human form she can be mistaken for a vampire.  Despite the ability to use witch magic a web witch cannot form a coven with other web witches. Though it is speculated that she may be able to do so with other witches and/or hags.
In her human form she use magic as a 2nd level witch including the use of magic items usable by a witch.  GMs should pick out which spells the web witch has access to.
In her spider form she appears as a huge white spider with red eyes.  When sitting in her web she can make herself and the web invisible until touched.  The web itself is made up of stick long black strands of spider silk.  The web witch can move about in spider form invisible as per the invisibility spell. She can speak in this form, but not use magic.
A favored tactic of the web witch is to pretend to be a damsel in distress and lead a party of adventures into her maze of webs where she can shift form and feed on them.  She will keep any treasures she can find including magic items, but items such as swords, armor or other weapons she will discard, magical or not.
Once per year a web witch will capture a humanoid male for breeding. Three months later she will lay a clutch of eggs. She injects a different poison into the male to paralyze him and place the clutch in his mouth.  After one month the clutch will hatch and 10-100 (10d10) baby web witches will devour the male from the inside out.  The hungry web witches will then turn on each other til only about dozen survive (2d6). They will reach maturity in one year and transform to their human shape for the first time.

The silk of a web witch is much prized by wizards as a superior ingredient for their web spells. Creatures need to have a Strength of 15 or higher or be 6 HD or higher to break free.
The venom of the web witch is also valued.

There is no known relationship between the web witch and the fabled Queen of Spiders or the Dark Elves.

There are rumors of more powerful web witches that can use even greater witch magic.

"Web Witch" is copyright 2014 Timothy S. Brannan.
All monsters stats and text below is considered OPEN under the guidelines of the OGL.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Maleficent for Basic Games

Last weekend was my birthday and I got a chance to go out and see Maleficent.
I liked it.  I thought Angelina Jolie did a great job (if maybe a little hammy) and there were some great moments with some good lines.   I thought the denouement was both welcome and interesting.

I know people had some issues with the changes to story and character, but honestly if you want to see "Sleeping Beauty" then go watch Sleeping Beauty.

What I have here is a cross between both her portrayals. The idea that reality lies somewhere in between.  I think she is rather obviously a Faerie Tradition witch.

Maleficent, either version, is still one of my favorite characters.

The Witch stats for Basic Era Games
14th level Witch, Faerie Tradition

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 18

Death Ray or Poison:  9/7
Magic wand or devices: 10
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 11

To hit AC 0: 16

Hit Points: 70
Alignment: Chaotic (in Advanced games she varies between Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil and Chaotic Neutral)
AC: 5 (Ring protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Raven (+2 to Death related saves) "Diaval"
7th level:  Speak to Plants and Animals
13th level: Fey Shape (She can grow wings)
Like all Faerie Witches Maleficent takes extra damage from items made of cold iron.

Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Sound
First: Bad Luck, Cause Fear, Silver Tongue, Sleep, Speak with Animals
Second: Bewitch II, Burning Gaze, Evil Eye, Rose Garden
Third: Bestow Curse, Fly, Improved Faerie Fire, Scry
Fourth: Arcane Eye, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Polymorph
Fifth: Death Curse, Endless Sleep, False Vision
Sixth: Geas, Wall of Roses
Seventh:  Maze, Hell Hath No Fury*

New Ritual Spell

Hell Hath No Fury
Level: Witch Ritual 7
Witches Required: 1
Range: One Creature
Duration: Permanent
The ritual, Hell Hath No Fury, is a rare ritual in that only one witch is required to cast it, but the situations in which it can be cast are also rare.  The witch lay a devastating curse on an individual who has someone personally harmed the witch in some way.  The harm isn't as simple as an attack, the offense must be a great one such as murdering the witch's family or lover, breaking the witch's heart with the promise of true love or spurning the affections of the witch for another.  Typically only one such person in the witch's lifetime would fit the requirements.  The witch then takes all her anger, rage and sorrow and pours it into this curse.  The witch may affect the person responsible or a member of that person's family.  The choice of victim and the curse is directly tied to insult done to the witch herself.
Once the curse is laid then it can only be broken under very specific circumstances either dictated by the witch or somehow related to original hurt to the witch.  This curse can not be broken via a remove curse, wish, dispel magic or similar enchantments.  The witch herself can not break the curse either.

Examples would be Maleficent's curse on Aurora or Maria Owens curse on her own family in Practical Magic.

Section 15 OGL Statement
The new witch ritual "Hell Hath No Fury" is considered Open for the terms of the OGL.
"Hell Hath No Fury" Witch Ritual, Copyright 2014 Timothy S. Brannan.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Skylla: Adventures Dark & Deep witch

I had planned on doing a Skylla write-up today, but for a different system.  But given that +Joseph Bloch is running a sale this weekend, I think it would be better to use his witch.

I reviewed his witch a while back and I enjoyed it even if there are couple things I didn't like about it. But it is still a fun class and I have enjoyed it.

So here is Skylla using The Darker Paths 2: The Witch and the Adventures Dark and Deep RPG.

CE Female Human
Witch 7

STR: 9
INT: 11
WIS: 15
DEX: 11
CON: 10
CHA: 12* (initial)/5 current

Saving Throws
Paralyzation, Poison, Death: 7
Petrification, Polymorph: 10
Rod, Staff, Wand: 11
Breath Weapon: 13
Spells: 12
+1 to Magical attack saves

Special Abilities (class)
Spell casting
Create Magic Items
Bell, Book & Candle
Brew Poison
Call Familiar (Quasit)
Charisma degradation
Limited to 13th level
Wisdom Bonus Spells (2 1st, 1 2nd)

Secondary Skills

HP: 13
AC: 6 (Bracers)

1st: Charm Person or Mammal, Detect Magic, Infravision, Protection from Good, Witch Shot, Wither
2nd: Blight Field, Command, Magic Broom, Misfortune, Wizard Lock
3rd: Bestow Curse,  Hand of Glory, Magic Missile
4th: Polymorph Self, Sleep
5th: Season of the Witch

Skylla is a good fit for his style of witch i think. I would have to play more to be sure.  Limiting her to 13th level might the fit the narrative I have for her. She would later go on to take more mage classes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Witch Kickstarter Goodies!

If you were a backer in the Strange Brew Kickstarter at the $25 or above level then your first PDF is on the way.

Check your email!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Witch Archetype: Voodoo Witch (Pathfinder)

I talked a lot about Voodoo this past year.  I have been thinking about what a "Voodoo Witch" might be like.  So here is stab at a voodoo witch (a Voudounista) for the Pathfinder rules and Strange Brew.

Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen

Description: The Voodoo witches (also known as Voudounista) are probably among the most mistrusted and misunderstood of all the Traditions, save for the Malefic witches.  These  witches, however, are usually not evil. Their area of specialty is that of enchantments and the creation of items dealing with enchantments, both good  and bad.

Voodoo witches are feared because they work in secret using strange, unknown rituals, and they often catch the blame if anything bad happens (such as a flood or a bad crop season).  It is rare that a Voodoo witch would be responsible for such acts of nature, but there have been times when a Voodoo witch was banished away from a village, and managed to cause some real trouble but this behavior is looked down upon by Voodoo covens as it only justifies people’s fear of Voodoo.

There is no style of dress directly related to the Voodoo witch.    Some Voodoo witches choose to dress very plainly, often trying to hide the fact that they are Voodoo.  Other Voodoo witches cease caring about what the average person thinks of them, and freely advertises what and who they are.  In either case, the Voodoo witch will have many different ceremonial clothes for the performance of various rituals. Typical ritual garb includes a simple linen robe or dress tied with a purple sash.
Voodoo witches are not most common among  any particular race.  Many races distrust them, dwarves outranking any of the other races in  terms of fear of the Voodoo witch. Gnomes, elves and half-elves tend to be more tolerant to Voodoo’s mysterious magic than the other races.  Humans and halflings often view the Voodoo witch as the source of most problems.

Role: The Voodoo witch will often stay within their own home devising new enchantments and creating other devices.  They also perform many rituals, more so than other witches.  On occasion, people may come to the Voodoo witch seeking help, charms or wards against evil, or something to attract a certain someone.
Because local governments and religious authorities fear the Voodoo witch, she has a hard time dealing with paladins and clerics.  On the other hand, she has no problems working with druids and rangers (though the occasional Voodoo witch has caused enough trouble in the wilderness to attract the attention of the often zealous druids).  The Voodoo witch also tends to get along with wizards and sorcerers fine, since much of her time is spent working on the creation of arcane magical items.  Fighters, bards, rogues and barbarians are usually viewed with indifference, though the feeling may not be mutual.
There are many sub-traditions of voodoo.  These particular ones have shared many of the same roots, but then evolved in isolation from each other. GM’s will want to use whichever sub-traditions work[tb1]  best with their campaign world.  The examples here are from our own history.

  • Bocur: One of the very few purely evil off shoots of Voodoo.
  • Candomblé: (“Kun-don-blair”) A Brazilian sub-tradition related directly to Macumba.  Leans more towards the darker sides of Voodoo.
  • Macumba: A Voodoo sub-tradition of Brazil.  Has much in common with Santería.  Often very neutral.
  • Obia: Also Obeah, common to the islands of the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica.  Most often believed to be evil.  Obia has actually been outlawed in some lands.
  • Quimbanda: Also known as Cuimbanda.
  • Santería: Sub-tradition that began in Cuba and spread to South-east United States.  Origins go back to the Yoruba religion of West Africa.  Despite the stereotype and sacrificing live chickens, a Santería witch is most often good aligned. 
  • Voudou:  A form of voodoo that is common to the peoples of Haiti.  Comes from the French words “vo” introspection, and “du” the unknown. Also known as “Haitian Voodoo”.

Voodoo witches can be of any alignment or temperament. Good Voodoo witches often accuse Evil ones of serving the “False Loa”, and visa versa.

Skills & Feats
Voodoo witches prefer craft based skills that can aid them in their normal lives and their worship. They receive a +2 bonus to single craft skill of the player’s choice.

The Voudounista can replace any of her Patron spells with a spell from the Portents Patron.

Orishas & Ghedes
The familiar of the Voudounista is a spirit being known as an Orisha or a Ghedes.  Orishas have always been spirits, the Ghede is the spirit of a long dead ancestor.  The spirit is bound to the witch like any other familiar but it has no physical form.  The Voudounista gains the ability to see incorporeal undead that might be invisible or shifted into the ethereal plane.  She may attack such undead as if they were on the same plane.

Powers and Hexes

Learned Voodoo (Sp)
Replacing her 2nd level Hex, the Voudounista adds +1 to any Spellcraft check that involves magic from the Enchantment school.  This increased by +1 every other level.

Enchantment Specialist (Sp)
The Voudounista can replace any spell she knows for an equal level spell from the Enchanment school.  The witch retains the knowledge of both spells, but may only cast one of the spells per day.
This takes the place of one of her Major Hexes.

Solid Mind (Sp) 
The Voodoo witch is immune to mind affecting magics, and gains a +8 bonus against all saves against spells and spell-like abilities from the school of Enchantment.
This replaces one of her Grand Hexes.

Voodoo is the only Tradition that allows the witch to use a sharpened Athame. This ritual dagger is often used for animal sacrifice, ceremonial bloodletting or for carving magical symbols into fetishes.  The Voodoo witch can use it for combat, with no penalty, but rarely do because they do not wish to damage it.

Voodoo Patrons
The Voodoo witch is more likely than any other Tradition to practice monotheistic religious worship.  This is because the Voodoo witch generally looks at the God and Goddess as all-encompassing and all-present.  Some Voodoo witches may follow patrons of nature or earth, though these may be few and far between.

The main Patron of the Voodoo witch is usually known by the title “Gros Bon Dieu” or “The Great Good God/Goddess,” all other gods honored by the Voodoo witch are lesser and subordinate to the Great God.  While this Patron is the ultimate source of all, the Voudounista has more contact with intermediate spirits known as the Loa.

The Loa are the ones that grant the Voodoo witch her powers. The Loa are powerful spirits of god-like abilities.  They give the Voodoo witch her power.  When the Voodoo witch begins she chooses one of the Loa as her Patron.  She may choose spells from one of the area the Patron controls.

The various Loa are:

  • Mama Aida Weido (female): The mother Goddess, wife (or mother) of Danabala. Goddess of the rainbow.  Patron Spells: Ancestors, Healing, Light
  • Danbala Weido (male): The main god of the Voodoo pantheon. Snake god. Creator of the world. Patron Spells: Ancestors, Animals, Strength
  • Papa LeBas. Papa Legaba (male): The devil. King of black magic. Patron Spells: Deception, Occult, Plague, Vengence
  • Baron Samedi (male): Lord of the crossroads and the cemetery. Patron loa of many voodoo witches. Appears as a skeleton in fancy dress. Patron Spells: Moon, Occult, Shadow, Spirits
  • Erzulie (female): Goddess of love. Appears as a beautiful dark skinned woman. Patron Spells: Devotion, Enchantment, Healing, 

Source/Views of Magic
The voodoo witch’s magic is viewed as the loa’s will being pushed through the witch. The enchantments of a witch are viewed as the goddesses will being enforced.  Magic comes from the Loa.  By serving the Loa and the spirits one can gain magical knowledge and thus knowledge of our world and the next one.
Voodoo witches use magical focuses to cast their spells.  These focuses are known as fetishes.  Every spell or type of spell has a specific fetish.  The Voodoo witch can not cast any spells without the proper fetish.  These typically include a poppet (doll of the victim), an animal part (such as a claw or feather) and blood (typically animal, but sometimes human).
A powerful fetish imbued with the witch’s own power is known as a Gris-gris.

Joining this Tradition
The requirements of joining the Voodoo Tradition tend to vary coven to coven.  Usually, an extensive  ritual is performed to initiate the ones who hear the call.  After the  ritual, the witch is bestowed the title of Houngan (for males) or Mambo (for females).

The Voodoo witch covens seldom meet more than once a year.  However, they also perform more rituals than the average witch.  It’s customary for the  voodoo witch to have an extensive ritual to perform at each full and new  moon.    Large numbers of the participants in these rituals are not witches themselves, but lay people, sometimes referred to as “Hounsi”.  They may share the same beliefs, but are not members of a voodoo coven.

These ceremonies are loud musical explosions of dance, fire and free form religious expression.  It is not uncommon for some of the participants to become overwhelmed as the Loa are communed with.  Participants can be found speaking in tongues, enduring large amounts of pain, and even damage and occasionally having disease spontaneously cured.

Other: As been noted voodoo witches get along well with wizards and sorcerers.  Often a multi-classed Voodoo Witch/Sorcerer is known as a Hoodoo, or even a Hoodoo Man.  These individuals are usually given much respect in the community.

A warlock Voudounista usually follows Papa Legba or Baron Samedi and is known as a Bokor.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Another "Witch" Kickstarter!

So we are in the last week (or so) of my Strange Brew Kickstarter.

But while I was out advertising it I noticed this other kickstarter.

Fantasy Miniatures by Minx Studio

This one is for miniatures.  So if you play Pathfinder then you are going to need some minis.
If you get my Pathfinder witch book then you are going to need some witch minis.

Well they have one and it is one of their stretch goals.

Here are some great pics of the sculpt.

The "Magic" characters look pretty awesome too. The Sorceress, Druid, Wizard and Clerics would work very nicely for my book as well.

So check them out. These minis look awesome and I REALLY want that witch!  Frankly I love witches with pointy hats.  So make me happy, pledge for us both.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend

I have some great Kickstarters to share with you this Friday.

First up is the Castles & Crusades full color Kickstarter.
Castles & Crusades was Old-School before there was an OSR.  The game is the simplicity of Basic D&D, the fun of AD&D and the flexibility and modern design of 3e.  Best of all worlds really.
OSRIC may be more compatible with AD&D, but C&C is closer to the spirit of the game.

The Witches
Tonight we get "Sleeping Beauty" through the eyes of Maleficent.  The Witches is a turn on Macbeth, with the eponymous king in Hell being tortured by the same three witches he went to visit.
Something wicked this way comes indeed.

The Holmes of the Baskervilles & The London Vampire Girls!
A very different take on Holmes and the murders at Whitechapel. I like because it sounds like a wild alt-History Gothic Victorian romp.  Plus I was pleased with his last effort, The Victorian Academy of Magick.

Strange Brew (Pathfinder/C&C): The Ultimate Witch & Warlock
Of course I have to mention my own.  We are down to the last week and half now and we are so close.
So please consider funding us, there is a lot of great material here.

So every dollar helps.In the case of Strange Brew it is to pay for art.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Skylla: Castles & Crusades Witch

I was looking back at some posts and I realized I have not done a Skylla post since the start of the year.

It also seems like a good idea to do a Castles & Crusades version of her since +Stephen Chenault has the new edition/printing of Castles & Crusades is up on Kickstarter (only 4 more days to go) and so is my new Witch book for Castles & Crusades (less than 2 weeks).

Now unlike the other posts of Skylla, where I take a published witch class and see how close they come to each other, this is a new class. So new in fact that some of the details are likely to change.  Well...not all the details and certainly not the broad ideas.  I might change the Occult Powers a little bit. I put up a prototype version a while back, so I am going to use that one today.

Castles & Crusades gives me a ton of options when making a witch class.  In fact if you look over the classes in the Players Handbook there is certainly a hole in terms of a Charisma based spell caster.  Plus all the classical fantasy archetypes are covered and then some, save for the witch.

Castles & Crusades is too fun of a game not to have a witch.

Not exactly Skylla, but really close
Skylla, 7th Level Witch (C&C)
Race: Human
Malefic Tradition

Strength: 9 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 10 (0)
Intelligence: 12 (0) P
Wisdom: 11 (0) P
Charisma: 15 (+1) P

Hit Points:  20
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC:  (Ring of Protection +1)
BtH: +2

Familiar: Pseudo Dragon
Herb Use
Ritual Magic
Occult Power (7th level): Evil’s Touch

Cantrips: (5) Alarm Ward, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound,
First: (3+1) Charm Person, Detect Invisible, Light, Sleep
Second: (2) Evil Eye, Locate Object,
Third: (2) Bestow Curse, Witch Wail
Fourth: (1) Phantom Lacerations

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Broom

Makes me want to drop everything and finish up my Castles & Crusades version of the Witch!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Who is Your Favorite Witch?

Something I did for another site, but thought it would work well here.  I started watching "Salem" finally. Love it so far.  Has not grabbed me like American Horror Story did, but it is only a matter of time.
We also have Maleficent out this weekend so really it is a good time for witches on TV and Movies.

Or as Time Magazine said it, "Witches are the new Vampires".

My goal with Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch and Warlock would be to allow you play ANY type of witch. Good, Bad, Wicked, whatever type of witch is YOUR favorite, that is what I want to do.

Here is a list of my Top Ten witches, in no particular order.  Who is your favorite?  Let me know in the poll below and in the comments section.

1. Cordelia Foxx (American Horror Story: Coven) - In the 13 episodes of 'American Horror Story - Coven' we saw Cordelia go from meek instructor of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies and living in the long shadow of Jessica Lange's Supreme to be being blinded, given the Sight, finding out her husband was a witch killer, given some new eyes, blinded again and then finally displaying the Seven Wonders to become the newest Supreme.
As the Supreme she is in charge of all the world's witches.  Since going public that is a lot more girls that need training.  American Horror Story never shied away from death, gruesome dismemberment, sexual taboos and killing off main cast members.  While we might not see Supreme Cordelia again, we certainly will see Sarah Paulson in more seasons.

2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Books and Movies) - Harry may have been the 'Chosen One' but you know what he would have been without the "most brilliant witch of her generation"?  Easy. Dead.  Remember in the books Hermione was shy, not very attractive and an infuriating know-it-all.  By Book 3 Harry and Ron both begin to notice, but long before her magical makeover Hermione was proving she was worth more than a full Quidditch team of Chosen Ones.  She mastered spells long before any of her classmates, she brewed the Pollyjuice potions, even in Book 3 (the Prisoner of Azkaban) she is using a Time Turner to take extra classes in the same day.  Who else has done that?  Not to mention while dealing with the whole You-Know-Who thing she still manages to fight for House Elf rights.
Plus, and let us be honest here, she could have a wicked temper.  She was the one that tricked Dolores Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest to get captured by Centaurs and she keeps Rita Skeeter trapped in a jar for the last part of The Goblet of Fire.

3.  Piper Halliwell (Charmed) - For eight seasons of Charmed Piper went from the quiet middle sister of the Halliwell witches to the ass-kicking, demon killing leader of the Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches in the world.   She helped kill the leader of the demon-world, The Source of All Evil, twice. Three times if you count the near attempts in the later seasons.   She married a Guardian Angel (a "White Lighter" in the show), gave birth to two sons that were half-witch and half-lighter and destined to be the future protectors of the innocents of the world.  But more importantly she did all of this while keeping her family and friends safe. Well...mostly safe.

4.  Willow Rosenberg & Tara Maclay (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - Willow was the shy Scooby. The one that didn't want cause problems, but she helped her new friend Buffy Summers, another chosen one, because if nothing else Willow does what it right.  She got a little taste of magical power in Season 2 and the rest. Well Willow became the most powerful witch in the series.  She re-ensouled Angel, she went toe to toe with demons of all sorts, and when a god destroyed her girlfriend Tara's mind then Willow did something that the Slayer herself had not done. She made a god scream.  Willow though struggled with her power and when a stray bullet killed Tara, Willow (and the Willow and Tara fans) went crazy and nearly destroyed the world. She was talked back down, but she never seemed the same after that.
Tara was and is my favorite Buffy character. For me she is a quiet, but deep well of power. Spend anytime on this site to see what I mean.

5.  Samantha Stephens (Bewitched) - You know what real power is?  Not strangling the annoying people around you! At least that is what I think Samantha's real power was.  Married to a muggl-sorry, mortal, Darren, Samantha still managed to use her powers, stay out of the spotlight (or at least the prying eyes of neighbor Mrs. Kravitz), solve the problems and still look fantastic all in 25 minutes.  A lot of Samantha's problems came from trying to please her husband Darren or from her relatives and later daughter.  With a twitch of her nose and nary a "hocus pocus" heard she still managed it all.

6. Joanna Beauchamp (Witches of East End) - Joanna Beauchamp has managed to do something so magical it makes the other witches seem like First Years at Hoggwarts.  She made me really like Julia Ormond!  I am being slightly snarky with that I fear.  I like Julia Ormond, I just never cared for her characters till now.  Joanna is a fierce witch. She is the protective mother (and ALL that entails) of Freya and Ingrid and loving sister of Wendy (who I thought was going to be my favorite Beauchamp witch). She has proven to be strong, determined and despite all that, she still doesn’t know all the answers.  I like that in my witches; knowing that magic can’t solve all her problems.  Joanna and Julia keep me coming back for more Witches of East End.

7. Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood) - Lafayette may have died in the books early on, but in the TV series he is a series regular and one of the most popular characters.  Later on he learns he is witch when his boyfriend Jesus reveals to him that he is a Brujo.  Lafayette can channel the spirits of the dead and possibly even a demon.

8. Mary Sibley (Salem) - I have only just started watching this series but so far I love what I see. Mary is an interesting, conflicted character.  It is hard not to sympathize with her, but she is certainly not on the side of angels here.  Special recognition has to go out to Tituba, one of the historical Salem “witches” and the bridge point between this series and American Horror Story Coven.

9. Katrina (Sleepy Hollow) - We have only seen glimpses of Katrina and her power. But one thing is for sure she is firmly in the camp of the “Good Witches”.  Also given her birth she would be one of the first women to truly be called an “American Witch”.  I am looking forward to seeing so much more of her next season of what turned out to be one of my favorite shows of 2013.

10. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent) - She is either a fairy or a witch, maybe both, but there is no doubt that she is powerful. She put a princess to sleep for 100 years and raised and entire forest of thorns.

Honorable Mention: Cassie (Hex), Wicked Witch of the West (Oz, Wicked), Angelique (Dark Shadows), Robin (Witch Hunter Robin), Sabrina (Sabrina the Teen Aged Witch), Luna and Tonks (Harry Potter), Witchiepoo (H.R. Puffinstuff), Jadis (The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe), Rachel Morgan (The Hollows Series) and Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Who is your favorite?

Favorite Witches
  free polls 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strange Brew. Now for Castles & Crusades

I am pleased to announce that are also offering Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock for Castles & Crusades!

This book is part of the same Kickstarter as the Pathfinder book.  So really for one price you could get 4 books instead of 1.

  • Strange Brew for Pathfinder
  • Strange Brew for Castles & Crusades
  • The Witch for Basic Era Games
  • and the update of Way of the Witch for Pathfinder
We are at 75% funded now with about 2 weeks left to go.

Material is written. We just need to secure the art and layout.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Zatannurday: Zatanna and Scarlet Witch Again!

X-Men Days of Future Past is out and supposed to introduce us to the Cinematic Scarlet Witch. Well, one of them anyway.  But it looked like a lot of her scenes may have been cut.  Maybe to put her more in line with the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver we saw at the end of Captain America Winter Soldier.

So in any case, here she is once again with The Other Side's resident superhero Zatanna!

Zatanna + Scarlet Witch by HaphazardMachine on deviantART

Zatanna and Scarlet Witch Beach Bikinis by justinprime on deviantART

Zatanna Vs. Scarlet Witch by DarthTerry on deviantART

Scarlet Zatanna by SamwiseTheAwesome on deviantART

Zatanna VS Scarlet Witch by Broken-Endings on deviantART

Zatanna Vs Scarlet Witch by Wonder-Heroics on deviantART

Counterparts: Zatanna Zatara and The Scarlet Witch by nhiaphengthao on deviantART

Zatanna Vs Scarlet Witch by VitamineJJC on deviantART

Magic DC Vs. Magic Marvel by olybear on deviantART

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One more Reason to Support my Kickstarter

Say that 256 pages of witchy goodness is not enough?
Ok, how about another 200. For free?

Pledge at $25 or above level and I will throw in a PDF copy of my 2012 "The Witch" for Basic Era/OSR games.

It makes a great companion to my Pathfinder book.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What *is* a Warlock?

I have been thinking and talking a lot about warlocks of late.

More specifically "what is a warlock?"

Research on the word reveals that it is Scottish in origin and was first used in the early 1700s and has a few cognates. So what is a warlock?
A wizard: Well that doesn't help. We have those already in Pathfinder. Ditto for sorcerer and magus.
A male witch: No. That doesn't work so well either. Besides a male witch is a witch unless you want a male witch to be a wizard. But why have a witch at that point?
A spellcaster: No. Half the classes are "Spellcasters" in one way or another.
There is evidence that word shares roots with lēogan and wǣrloga, but those only tell me the roots of the word, not what the word is itself.

And more to the point, what does a warlock mean in my games? What is it's role? What does it do?  This isn't a history or linguistic text I am working, it is a game book, so I have to think about this in terms of what is good for a class and what is good for the players.

Recently I spoke about them on my blog back in April (W is for Warlock), but I have never really sat down to define them in terms of role and powers.  Powers might be important mechanically speaking, but if the class doesn't fill a role in my game then the powers could or should go to someone else.

A while back on my blog I reprinted what Tom Moldvay, author of the D&D Basic set, had to say about witches.  These came from Dragon Magazine #43 which was presenting their version of the Witch class.

According to Moldvay a witch has:  1. The ability to use herbs for healing and magic.  2. The power of fascination, like a super-charm ability.  3. A combination of both Clerical and Magic-User abilities. 4. The ability to practice sympathetic magic.  5. Be worshipers, in secret, of a religion otherwise forbidden in a particular era. 6. Powers based on nature and the cycle of seasons, similar to Druidic* powers.
I added a 7th, the ability to form into covens.

I would like to take these as a basis for the Warlock class, since the witch and warlock are so intertwined historically.

1. The ability to harm using magic.  Warlocks, if anything, are seen as evil.   But players should be able to choose their own alignments for their characters. So an "Evil" act would be to use magic to directly harm.  One thing D&D/Pathfinder is missing is a magical blaster class.  Sure the Wizard and Sorcerer could do this, but it is a side effect of their spell use, not a feature of the class.

2. Combination of Witch, Cleric and Wizard powers. Like the witch the warlock is an arcane spell caster that deals with otherworldly powers. They are a bit cleric, a bit wizard and a lot of something else.  I think this should allow them access to the Witch spells.  This also ties the two classes closer together.

3. Witches have sympathetic magic, warlock have this too but in order to do harm.  This is best exemplified by curses. But warlocks need something more than just that.  Correspondences will be important to warlocks too. Their magic is tied closely to their patron. The rituals they perform to learn and cast their magic also bind them closer and closer to their patron. Their magic needs to be reflected in this.

4. Like witches, warlocks are in league with otherworldly powers for their own benefit.  These are stereotypically demons, devils and lost gods, but they are also Arch Fey Lords and Ladies, areas of magical power, even elementals and primal creatures.  These pacts are a way for the warlock to gain power without having to do all of the learning that wizards do. They also do not have the sorcerer's magical bloodlines, so power for the warlock must be taken where it can.

5. Warlocks, again like wizards and witches, form into groups that aid them. Wizards have their schools, witches have covens, and warlocks have cabals. Where covens are more centers of worship for the witch, a cabal is place for like minded warlocks to share secrets. It is similar to the wizard school in that there is shared learning.

Additionally I would like to see the warlock have some form of corruption happen to them. Their pact ties them body and soul to their patrons.  This should be reflected in the physical presence of the warlock.  The Oracle class has their curse for example and the anti-paladin has their auras.

In the Strange Brew Kickstarter I mention I want the witch to be more than just a distaff wizard.  I also want the warlock to be more than a male, maybe evil, witch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Downside of a Big Kickstarter Project

I am so pleased to report that in the first 36 hours the Strange Brew Kickstarter has reached a third of it's potential funding.

I am quite excited about this. And a bit overwhelmed!  So I have been working on the 1000 or so spells for the book and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.  No small task.  This is after all the "Ultimate" book and I just don't want a rehash of my Witch book or Eldritch Witchery. Those are fine book but the Pathfinder system requires different things.

So it is off to work (day job) now and editing spells tonight.

In the meantime here is my new favorite dice bag.  I picked it up from BlessedBe Garden.

Ready to go for my Unisystem games.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock

The Kickstarter for Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock is back on.

From the KS text:

A 256-page, full-color hardback Pathfinder book on witches and warlocks, featuring spells, ritual magic, patrons, covens, familiars, an

Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock contains everything you need to play every kind of witch, warlock, or pythoness you can imagine, detailing an expansive list of new options for use in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. In this fantastic new tome you'll find...

  • new alternate classes for the occult
  • the warlock base class
  • several traditions
  • innovative uses for skills
  • new feats
  • hexes and powers
  • dozens of new prestige classes
  • class archetypes
  • familiars and patrons
  • multi-class paths
  • hundreds of spells
  • ritual magic
  • and more—no two witches need ever be the same again!

Make your witch much more than a distaff wizard with Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock!

So what makes this different from The Witch or Eldritch Witchery? Plenty!

I have taken the d20 witch classes and picked the best of the best OGC. I have also included my original d20 witch refined over 13 years of play. Added to this all is the Pathfinder witch and a brand new Warlock class.

We dropped the page count, made the book full color and dropped our funding goal.
I want to do for witches what Deep Magic and Ultimate Psionics did for wizards and psychics respectively.

If you have liked the work I have done it the past then you will love this.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Seven Wonders - Examining the Witches of the d20 Era

Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock Kickstarter will go live again tomorrow.

Today I want to spend some time talking about the Seven (yes, 7!) Witch classes that have appeared for the d20 game in various shape and forms. I want to discuss their pros and cons, and why Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch will be all the better for it.

Witch #1: The DMG Witch – Wizards of the Coast
Let's not forget that the very first witch was a "sample" character in the 3.0 edition DMG. She was basically a sorcerer with a different spell list. She 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 spreadsheet 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 to that point—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.
I still use that very same spreadsheet. Maybe I could share it someday, if people are curious about how I go about doing this sort thing.

Witch #2: Liber Mysterium - Timothy S. Brannan
Back when d20 and OGL was still new (2001), I began updating all my notes on witches for publication quality book. This book became known as Liber Mysterium, and was released in 2003. There are a lot of things I REALLY liked about this book. There were a few things I really wanted to do with witches that became a lot easier with the d20 rules. In particular, I had a bunch of “Kiss” spells that had more effectiveness because they were delivered with a kiss. With d20, that became a metamagic feat. Coven spells were covered well, as were occult powers. Though 10 years later, I can admit it was not perfect. There was my own overriding opinion that most witches were going to be good. My bias. While there are tons of spells, some were redundant or a little over- or under-powered, 10 years of playing witches in my ongoing 3.x game has helped me work out a lot of the bugs.
One of the coolest things from the this project though is it really taught me how to work with a team of designers.  I carried over these lessons to Buffy and to Ghosts of Albion.

Witch #3: The Witch's Handbook - Green Ronin; Author Steven Kenson
This one is 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 Liber Mysterium, 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. In particular were the Witch Priestess and the Witch's Champion, which was similar to something I  was calling the Cowan in my games. The Diabolic Witch and the Witch Hag were also nice and gave some balance to the "mostly good" Witch Priestess. 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. Covens in this book were covered, but not as much as in Liber or Way of the Witch.
What this book lacks in page count, it makes up for in utility; there is something useful on every page. More to the point, there is something I wanted to use on every page.

Witch #4: Way of the Witch - Citizen Games; Authors Janet Pack, Jean Rabe, Megan Robertson, Christina Stiles
Style-wise this is the best of the lot of the early witch books for d20. Hardcover, with some of the most beautiful art I have seen in a book. I mean, go look at that Thomas Denmark cover.
The witch is basic and has a lot of 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 including how witches lived in this world and their much greater affinity to the magical rhythms of the world. The authors really took their time and care with this one, and it really shows.
There is so much I love about this book that it made want to make my own books better. The nice flow between the art and the text made this feel much more like a single creative endeavor. Even if the material wasn't good (and the material was good) it was a joy to look at. I bought this one before I was done with Liber Mysterium, but I put it up until Liber was out the door. I remember sitting in my car one afternoon to pick up my kids from daycare and wishing I had done some of the things in this book.
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.

Witch #5: The Quintessential Witch – Mongoose Publishing; Author Robert Schwalb
I am not a huge fan of the older Mongoose books. There are number of issues with the classes being all 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 such as the Caller to the Veil, Diabolist, Gypsy Matron, Witch Doctor and even a Witch Hunter, which is nice, but not all of them are usable. For example I am not sure why the Medium has a Charisma loss, or why the Occultist spells are the way they are. The book also tends to be full of a lot clichés. The art for the Vamp prestige class comes to mind, actually the entire Vamp prestige class is pretty much a huge cliché. An evil woman scorned by a member of the opposite sex using her "feminine whiles" to corrupt others. Oh and lets show her in bed with an innocent looking girl. Not really forward thinking there.  Though the material that was good (Patron of the Five Sprits, Puppet Mistress), was 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. I also liked the Times of Power and the very detailed Herbal section. What made the Herbal so nice was not all of the herbs used, but that the ones they did included art. It looked like an old-school herbal.

Witch #6: Pantheon and Pagan Faiths – Mystic Eye Games
This was part of Mystic Eye Games: Hunt the Rise of Evil product line. It was also a great effort, and it captured my attention early on. I liked this one because it was the other end of the spectrum from the Green Ronin one, but still not quite Way of the Witch - the book had an implied world setting with witches as a part of it, but not quite as integrated into the fabric of the world as we see in Way of the Witch. The witch still existed in a rich world, and a lot was expected of her. She had the spells and the powers to meet these expectations, too.
This witch was a divine spellcaster, not an arcane one. This was also a nice change of point of view.
I also liked the prestige classes. They were a nice selection of orders with Divine backgrounds and really what I wanted to see in a Prestige Class. The Furies of Destruction were similar to my own War Witch, but far more deadly. The Beast Friend looked like a fun class to try out for a Druid, but it's alignment restrictions (Lawful Good only) didn't quite make sense to me. Slaughter Priests should be in every game.

Witch #7: The Pathfinder Witch (Advanced Player’s Guide)
This is the current Witch. I have spoken about the pros and cons of this witch many times. But I have to admit what I really like are the Hexes. These are such a nice addition to the witch class. The Patrons here are very, very similar to the Patrons I used. Also, if I made the error of assuming that all witches are mostly good, I think this book has the bias that witches are mostly evil. I also can’t get past how weak the covens are in this book.

All seven (and some others here and there) all offer me something fun and unique to the game play. What I want now though is something that allows me to play all these experiences.

Or, to put it another way, the Ultimate Witch.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Witch items from other blogs

Not so much of a post today and more of a "hey lets share my research notes".  Here are a list of blogs, many of which you all know, and some items they have posted over the last few years on witches.  Some of these I use in game, others I have adapted to make them work better with my witches. But all I found interesting enough to save them in an unpublished till now post.

Do you know anymore?  If you do share them! I love reading other people's takes on witches, magic and everything like that.

A Paladin in Citadel
Um, I was promised Witches?

Alien Shores
Mirror Demon

Asshat Paladins
Edith the Harpy Witch

Beyond the Black Gate
Baba Yaga's Hut

Hathras, City of Dreams

B/X Blackrazor
His B/X Witch Class

Cross Planes
Witch Doves

D&D Next Witches
Maiden, Mother, and Crone

Dangerous Brian
Zama: The Drune

The Houri, Part 1 and Part 2

Dreams of the Lich House
Mythic Monday: The Witch

Any of the Gothic Greyhawk posts

Elfmaids & Octopi
d100 Witches

Greyhawk Grognard
Darker Paths II: The Witch

Witch Preview #3: Familiar Names

Witch Class Preview: Evil Eye

Jaron's RANTs and RAVEs
[DND] Character Concept - WAR D&D: Witch Elf
Based on the WoW Witch Elf, they a close to what I would call a War Witch.

Realms of Chirak
B/X D&D Month XIV: Terragia, the Witch of Galitath

Steve's Gamer Blog
Witches & Warlocks (4e)

Scarecrows Part 1 and Part 2

Heroes of the Feywild Preview: Pixie and Witch

Strange Magic
Witch for B/X D&D

Tower of the Archmage
New magic Item: Summoner's Candles

New Monster: Fear Gorta

Venger's old school gaming blog
D&D Ouija or RPG Witch-Board
Not really playing a witch, but a cool idea if you have a lot of supernatural characters in the mix.

What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
Beast of the Week: Witch
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