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Witchcraft RPG

 

The Book

 

The cover of Witchcraft depicts a Witch and some mystic symbols, accurate enough I suppose and what else would I expect! The art work is quite nice and captures the mood well.

Witchcraft RPG

 

The writer of Witchcraft is one C.J. Carella and I am familiar with his work from Palladium Books. I have always quite liked his style and was looking forward to what kind of RPG he may create.

 

I must also add that Witchcraft can be downloaded for free here and contains around 290+ pages. So is the book worth the paper it is written on? Read on to find out!

 

After a brief story of witchery to set the scene the book begins with the customary introduction to what an RPG is, what a D10 is and some advice on how to get started. 

 

 

The Setting

 

On the surface the world of Witchcraft is exactly the same as our own, this is a good move on the writer’s part because it is very easy for GM’s and players to come up with what would work and what wouldn’t in a world so similar to our own. Obviously though there is one key difference, magic exists in this world and is practiced by a select few who can harness the power of Essence.

 

Witchcraft introduces us to the idea of magic and how Essence can be use for different effects. There is Magic, The Sight (psychics abilities), Divine Inspiration (miracles) and Necromancy (commune with the dead!). These abilities are expanded on later in the book and are all granted their own section.

 

Evil spirits and creatures are also very real in this world, this is something the gifted learn all too soon as these creatures feed mainly on Essence. Not caring much for the vessel many of these monsters will hunt and kill the gifted for the sweet Essence contained within.

 

We are also told of the covenants, groups of witches or holy men that form a group to help protect the innocent and save the world from evil.

 

Both the gifted and super-natural monsters are on the increase, a sure sign that the Reckoning is at hand!

 

 

Character Creation

 

First thing to note is that if you just want to jump into the game straight away there are several pre-generated characters that are ready to play. I think this is a nice little addition if you just wanted to play test the game before deciding to fully invest.

 

For those of you that want to make your own character the first thing you should do is think up your concept, what kind of character do you wish to play? Are you a grizzled veteran that has seen it all and possess nerves of steel? Are you a hulking juggernaut that is hark to kill and packs one hell of a punch? How about a holy crusader that believes in the one true god and will purge the earth of all evil and woe betide any who gets in her way?

 

Once again you can think of your own concepts or look to the Witchcraft book for advice.

 

What is your character type? Are you a Gifted, Lesser Gifted, Mundane or a Bast? The gifted posses the most magical raw power but lack skills, the Lesser Gifted have a fairly even split of Magic and skill, Mundanes have no magic and plenty of skills and the Bast? Well the Bast are a race of super-natural magical cats some of which can assume a human form!   

 

Who do you associate with? The Wicce are witches that worship the goddess and nature, a kind of neo-pagan with magic they are the descendants of the original witches that have been wrongly (or sometime rightly) persecuted throughout history. The Rosicrucians are business like, rich, smart and powerful wizards, they are much more formal that the hippy like Wicce and seem more like the Freemasons in that you must be invited to join them!  The Sentinels are the zealots, the fanatics who stalk the night with one goal, to destroy supernatural evil whatever the cost! The Twilight Order are Necromancers who commune with the dead and wish to know the secrets of the afterlife, some of them are ghost hunters and psychic investigators. The Solitaires? These are the gifted that have learnt to use their powers and abilities alone, they are as varied as the rest of humankind and may set up their own mishmash covenants or simply go it alone. Each group of associates has a lot of information describing how they get on with the other groups, what their goals are and who their enemies may be.

 

What Qualities and Drawbacks does your character have? Does he/she have nerves of Steel but one hell of an alcohol addiction? Are you chain smoking, paranoid and cruel? How about delusions of grandeur with your own twisted code of honor? It is all here for you to experiment with. I really like this section as I think it gives the player characters plenty to work with to help them with the role-playing aspects of the game.

 

What skills are you looking for? Are you a Private Eye type character with Investigation, Stealth and Lock picking? How about a bruiser that is skilled with Guns, Knives and Martial Arts. You could play a fountain of knowledge that knows about the Occult and Magic but also knows how to spot a trap and talk your way out of any situation?

 

What Metaphysics might your character wield? Is she a gifted mage or a powerful psychic? Do the dead speak to you and help you solve their murders? Or do you say to hell with metaphysics and carry a 12bore to dispense with the unholy? It is the metaphysics that really make this game stand out, within minutes of reading the book I was already thinking of some of my favourite characters from film and T.V. if you want to make a Firestarter kind of character you can, how about Buffy the Vampire Slayer? What about a Thulsa Doom type who can dominate the minds of others? You could even make Mulder and Scully but with a bit of added brain melting power!

 

The magic is simple and at first the amount of spells available seems sparse, however that isn’t true, after further reading it is clear that these spells can have multiple useful effects for instance “Influence the psyche” can be used to influence another person’s emotional state so if someone is angry you can make the matter worse or get them to relax. The same invocation can also be used to create an aura of confidence on the caster that grants her bonuses to all of her social rolls.

 

The power of Elemental Air has a wide range of uses ranging from creating a gust of air to summoning a whirlwind or even a lightning bolt!

 

Mindfire can be used to burn down your enemies or to create an aura of force around yourself that can melt bullets!

 

I really like the fact that all of the spells and abilities have multiple applications yet remain simple in their concepts. Clever players will be able to use their abilities to perform multiple tasks to great effect, for instance I had a player with Mindhands (think telekinesis) and lock picking, by making a roll I allowed him to use them together to slide the latch back on a door he was trying to get through! Much faster than picking the lock and much more subtle that kicking the door of its hinges!

 

Clever and well thought out spells make the role-playing aspect of the game all the better, players will love thinking up new and intelligent (sometimes not so intelligent) ways of using their powers and Games Masters will be able to use similar trick against the players!

 

 

The System

Who or what is Bast?

Bast was an Egyptian goddess who had the head of a lioness, later her depictions changed to that of a normal cat head and her name changed to Bastet. As the lioness-headed Bast she was the goddess of war and protector of the lower Nile region. Cats were highly regarded in ancient Egypt and some were even given jewellery to wear and were treated like divine beings.
The centre of Bast worship in the ancient work was a city called Bubastis, meaning “house of Bast”, which was home to the Oracle of Bast, an ornate temple to the lion-headed goddess. Bubastis was near the modern day city Zagazig located in the Nile delta.

 

The system used in Witchcraft is based very closely on the Uni-system which can be found in the excellent All Flesh Must Be Eaten zombie games (a review of those games will be coming soon!).

 

Most tasks are resolved using a roll of the D10 and then adding in any relevant attribute or skills. For instance if you wanted to investigate a crimes scene you would roll an Investigation (skill)+ Intelligence (attribute)+ D10. Depending on how high your roll is you may be a spectacular success or a miserable failure.

 

Combat is performed in a similar fashion but the rolls are contested, that is you roll to hit a person and then they can roll to parry or deflect the blow. I am a big fan of this kind of combat as I prefer a more realistic and visceral approach than to simply beating a static number.

 

The magic is where Witchcraft truly shines though, spells can be cast by performing rituals or through sheer force of will, if you have the channelling skill you can cast spells as fast as most mundane can draw a gun, this makes the spells very potent indeed. Magic combat is also very awesome, two casters can face off against each other and fight it out by cancelling each other’s spells and attacking with their other spells, this makes the magic combat feel like you really are having a duel! There is also an extensive section on how rituals, places of power, solar eclipses, symbols and group magic can boost your spells profoundly. Also the book explains why spells may not work if there are too many ordinary folk around, you see their lack of belief also has an effect on the Essence around them which pretty much neutralises spells. Thinking you can toss a fireball at your enemies in a shopping mall is likely to get you laughed at by a group of teenage girls as you stand there gesticulating and chanting for nothing!

 

Overall this is a very fun and efficient system to use and in my opinion it is one of the best games for budding mages out there! Magic feels powerful and the duelling is realistic, top marks.

 

The book also provides GM’s with a great advice section and some pre-generated enemies for your Players to face off against, in particular I loved the Vampyre and the Wildling. Everything you need to get started is here in this book.

 

 

The Negatives

 

When we were making our characters we felt the wording could have been better in quite a few instances. For example a little sentence saying “Seers powers can be used for free.” would have saved us a hell of a lot of time rummaging through the book for a set of rules that weren’t needed and didn’t exist! I understand that those familiar with this system may not have had the same trouble to for a new comer this really was quite frustrating.

 

Another gripe with Wtichcraft is that parts of the book seems like C.J. Carella sat and dictated what he did in a game and some third party was then tasked with putting that into the book as a set of rules!

 

Thankfully these instances are rare and on the whole the book is very easy to understand and flows well.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The setting is perfect and does not require too much reading, the system is beautifully simple but works wonders with magic combat and the advice section for GM’s is worth the price of entry alone as it is chock full of story ideas and adventures!

 

To recap, in this free book you get, Pre-generated Player Characters, Pre-generated Villains, Story hooks and boat loads of advice! Not bad at all.

 

Witchcraft is quite simply brilliant! Not only that but it is also free. On that note what are you doing sat here gawping at this screen? Get this game downloaded and start your campaign today!

 

4 Star Rating: Recommended 

 

You may also like to read:

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Angel RPG

 

Want to try another system?

RIFTS: Ultimate Edition World of Darkness Core Book Savage Worlds Deluxe Call of Cthulhu