Thursday, 28 March 2013

Saint Elizabeth

St Elizabeth is by far the most popular female saint throughout the Fair Kingdom. Her name is the most popular given name across all classes— there is a big chance any woman your party meets will be called 'Elizabeth', irrespective of whether she's a humble peasant, a handmaid, or a noblewoman. The Blood Countess herself is called Elizabeth!

The historical Elizabeth was a 13th century princess of the Fair Kingdom, born in Pressburg, who was betrothed to a Landgrave of the Empire of the One Faith when she was 4 and he was 11. They married ten years later and had three children. Her husband departed to fight against the Empire of the Crescent Moon when she was pregnant with their third child, but he died on his way to war. After his death, Elizabeth left the court, made arrangements for the care of her children, and renounced the world to take care of the sick and the poor, until her death at the age of 24. She was canonised 4 years later, based on several miracles, the most famous of which is the miracle of the roses.

The legend of St Elizabeth's Miracle of the Roses
(from Wikipedia)
One day the young but pious St Elizabeth, in the company of one or more serving women, descends from her castle down to the village below the castle. She is carrying meat, eggs, and bread under her mantle. Supposedly she has taken items from the family dining table to distribute to the poor in the village, against the wishes of her family, who frown upon such behaviour. Halfway down, she unexpectedly meets her husband, who asks, upon seeing her bulk, what she is carrying. Embarrassed and speechless as she is, she does not know what to say. The Landgrave opens her mantle, and to his surprise (in some versions this takes place in the dead of winter) finds her carrying a bouquet of roses.

Pilgrimages to her grave drew as many people as those to Compostela, until they were halted by the New Wayers in 1539 by the forcible removal of St Elizabeth's relics.

St Elizabeth as a role-playing clerical cult:
Temple traits: Cure The Sick, Feed The Poor
Alignment: Lawful Good/Allegiance: Old Way
Temple Weapon: None.
Spheres of Activity: Charity, Chastity, Humility, Patience.
Power: Miracles of healing work at her grave in the church of the hospital she founded after becoming a widow.
Holy Symbol: Rose(s).
Spells: Clerics of St Elizabeth (they are all female) cannot cast any offensive spells or, more generally, any spells that may cause damage to the world.
Allied cults:
- allied with  the Third Order of St Francis
- allied with the Teutonic Order, which adopted St Elizabeth as its secondary patroness

A Seeress

Another beautiful panting by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917): The Crystal Ball (1902).

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Flashing Blades — News At Last

The following is almost taken verbatim from the Hill Cantons blog. Just in case you should've missed it. I think it's an important pierce of news, so sorry if you've already read this! Also this piece of news is (according to Hill Cantons) from the author of Flashing Blades himself, Mark Pettigrew.

"FGU already agrees that I [Mark Pettigrew] own the rights to Flashing Blades [this development is possibly a result of FGU's losing a case against the original authors of Villains & Vigilantes, which FGU was selling without the authors' consent, and without giving them any royalties!]. I'm even receiving (very small) royalties cheques again, after a 20-some year hiatus. I think I mentioned this before, but again, all of you are free to write, publish, etc. whatever you want for Flashing Blades without worrying about copyright. I'm happy that people are still enjoying the game."

Although it is centred on 17th century France, Flashing Blades is also a rules set I would recommend for running a Renaissance game, on top of LotFP (for a gloomer campaign setting), Renaissance (for a more realistic set of rules), and Monsters & Magic (my personal favourite at the moment).

Monday, 18 March 2013

Firearms in LotFP — Semi-Official Rule (of sorts)

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing (aka LotFP) is an Old School Renaissance role-playing game whose mechanisms are derived from those of the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game.

Several tropes of said classic role-playing game, however, are given a markedly different treatment in LotFP. To me, the most saliently divergent elements (and the reasons I love this game) are:
1. Although LotFP doesn't provide a default campaign world, the published adventures emphasise a humanocentric setting, as opposed to one with Tolkienesque demi-humans.
2. The rules explicitly advocate a paucity of monsters (there isn't even a bestiary), as opposed to the well-known over-abundance of critters in other OSR role-playing games.
3. The game is exceptionally deadly to player characters.
4. There is a general Renaissance feeling about the published material (art & adventures), as opposed to a pseudo-mediæval one again in most other OSR role-playing games.

Now with regards to point No.4 above, if you say 'Renaissance' you're also saying black powder and firearms. Alas, nor the LotFP core books nor the published adventures contemplate any rules for firearms. I have hence asked James Edward Raggi IV on G+ to give me some guidelines. Not only did he provide some guidelines, but he's also allowed me to post them here!

So, with no further ado, here are James' guidelines:

1d8 damage, ignore 5 points of armour. Rate of fire once/combat.

As a further bonus, a link to the Firearms Fumbles table from the Dungeon of Signs blog.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Monsters & Magic — A New Old School RPG

Sarah Newton (well known for a zillion works, but especially for her Mindjammer novel and her Achtung! Cthulhu line of supplements) has been working since last year on a very innovative set of rules that will fill the gap between Old School and, er, new school (do they have a name?) role-playing games.

This new role-playing game is called Monsters & Magic, and I have been lucky enough to be involved in its play tests since the very beginning. I can guarantee that the system is terrific, very scalable, and that it will appeal to grognards and sophisticated gamers alike.

The extra bonus is that Sarah has striven to keep M&M backwards compatible with the most popular fantasy role-playing game, meaning that you will be able to re-use all the heaps of modules and supplements that you've been accumulating for years, as well as all the great stuff that the OSR movement is publishing these days.

M&M will be published by Sarah's own Mindjammer Press, and will be printed and distributed by Chronicle City [if I have understood the press release correctly].

An additional bonus is that M&M will feature great art (look at the gorgeous cover by Jason Juta!) and... British spelling!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Witch

click to enlarge
Very inspirational... Magic Circle (1886), by the talented Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse!

Edit 16/10/2014− I am adding a link to a fan-made 13th Age character class called... THE WITCH!
While wizards use carefully studied symbology and an occult grammatical system to work magic, and sorcerers draw intuitively upon the icons' power and the magic hidden within their own blood, witches tread a different, less direct path to arcane mastery. True, they often study occult lore, and some even manage to learn a few wizard spells. True, it is not uncommon for a witch to have a magical birthright that sets her forth on her journey or an unexpected link to one or more of the icons. But the witch sees each of these systems and links as a mere tool — one in a much larger toolbox that is well worth exploring. Beyond these basic starting points, the witch looks for the magical connections that these methods share and that bind all things, and she calls upon those beings that understand such phenomena better than she does. She does not limit herself to one narrow system, but pragmatically accepts each gift of arcane learning that Fate and the other occult powers send her way.

In time, the witch learns many useful tricks — spells, of course, but also hexes. The latter can be used with greater frequency, by deferring the arcane cost to another time — or another being.  Most critically, by sensing the strands of Fate, she tries to work with them, instead of against them, taking the subtle path of least resistance to achieve her goals. Sadly, this may bring her to the attention of other beings that take an interest in Fate, as well as those exotic powers that she calls upon, from time to time, in pursuit of lore. For the witch, this is a small price to pay, to gain a deeper understanding of the most hidden workings of the universe.