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I didn't do my homework and so was a little surprised to see how much extra thought had to go into using witches in Renaissance, they are potentially powerful especially story wise (providing story hooks) and the magic fits with the beliefs of the time but that's also what makes them tricky to use as they need a lot of ingredients to cast a spell, ingredients that include part of the target be it hair, toenails etc and that means you as a G.M have to do the groundwork well before the big encounter since your witch needs to get those items ahead of time and (damn it) in a way that makes sense. 

I think they make better background characters working behind the scenes and using proxies to gather what they need whilst Alchemists are the easier session villain as their powers are more immediate. (Have glow stone lets go) So the question is how do you use Witches in your games and do you have any good hints on how to use them to their full scary potential?

Edited by Butters

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I think one of the classic worries, in facing witches, is the Coven.  How do you ever really know you've found all the witches in a Coven?  How do you even know you've found the most powerful one?

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I tended to use them in the background at first and threw in lots of supporting coven members and cultists etc. plotting and scheming on their behalf. Also have the characters meet the witch in a social situation where a bit of flirting with the most attractive party member could result in the witch picking up a lock of hair or similar without them being aware, allows for satanic possession (home brewed spell needed for this) and inter-party strife (always good fun for the GM). I tended to vary the power of spells to suit the current strength of the party scaling up or down and limiting effects as necessary. Watch out for high MAG values  as this can make your witch serious lethal or almost impossible to hit is they are using spells to protect  themselves such as For to Protect Against Weapons (a witch with double figure MAG is a really tough opponent. However, as I found out, the accrual of fatigue by witches when casting can soon turn them from 'Mistress of the Night' to 'Wheezy Old Lady' pretty quickly (again hence the need for minions).

I also introduced white witches who could be consulted and persuaded to provide protective charms etc. so as to at least give the party a chance when confronting a powerful witch in a big set piece.

 

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I'd expect a clever use of familiars would be the go-to method of collecting hair/etc for dire uses!

More-than-cat-smart black cat in the middle of the night?  Offhand, I'd think that's pretty hard to see/find/stop...

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On 3/15/2020 at 5:10 PM, g33k said:

I think one of the classic worries, in facing witches, is the Coven.  How do you ever really know you've found all the witches in a Coven?  How do you even know you've found the most powerful one?

That's a good point I might have to drop a few hints of a linked group letters etc maybe.

 

18 hours ago, Firebird01 said:

I tended to use them in the background at first and threw in lots of supporting coven members and cultists etc. plotting and scheming on their behalf. Also have the characters meet the witch in a social situation where a bit of flirting with the most attractive party member could result in the witch picking up a lock of hair or similar without them being aware, allows for satanic possession (home brewed spell needed for this) and inter-party strife (always good fun for the GM). I tended to vary the power of spells to suit the current strength of the party scaling up or down and limiting effects as necessary. Watch out for high MAG values  as this can make your witch serious lethal or almost impossible to hit is they are using spells to protect  themselves such as For to Protect Against Weapons (a witch with double figure MAG is a really tough opponent. However, as I found out, the accrual of fatigue by witches when casting can soon turn them from 'Mistress of the Night' to 'Wheezy Old Lady' pretty quickly (again hence the need for minions).

I also introduced white witches who could be consulted and persuaded to provide protective charms etc. so as to at least give the party a chance when confronting a powerful witch in a big set piece.

 

I was thrown a little by the same "Wheezy Old Lady" syndrome I see it as a balancing/narrative issue but it does make them a lot less scary than Alchemists especially with the amount of spells that need bits of the target to use. My witch did bring some drowned zombies with her which did give her some room to cast spells but unfortunately she never got a spell off (Bad rolling on my part and good persistence rolls from the players) so she was a little bit of a damp squib but I think that was a little bit to do with how I played her (spell choice) and my concern if combat takes too long.

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Indeed, let the story guide the action and if you have to skirt round a rule or two so be it.

I also found that characters with high persistence/resilience and some hero points made spell casting against them a pretty low return strategy until we ruled that, as in other spells where the resit is dodge which you can only use if you have a dodge left, any resist role counts as use of a reaction and therefore opens up the lethality of combat once again. This means they have a choice - do I dodge the cultist who has just slashed at me with a two-handed claymore for potentially crippling damage or do I save it for when the dear little apple seller with a twinkle in her eye does something arcane and deadly?

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Interesting idea there I might "borrow" it I must admit the campaign has deviated a little from the book so they are coming across more Witches and oddness the closer they get to the Tainted lands and the thing I'm finding is a heavily armoured Party who is spending their Improvement points wisely are really tough, though I'm slowly getting through their Hero points and Stones. 

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Speaking of Hero points, major evil NPCs can have them too (should that be Villain points in their case?), also levels the playing field a bit. have fun with the tainted lands, refer to BRP rules for some nice mutations and weirdness, the odd rain of frogs is good especially when it changes from frogs to sheep!

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21 hours ago, Firebird01 said:

"Especially when it changes from frogs to sheep!"

Lol thats going in and cool tip the B.R.P mutation section I had completely forgotten about that.

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Of course if they are messing about in the tainted lands any right thinking Puritans will take a dim view of any taint shown, it being the result of that work of the Devil - Alchemy. See the attached handout I used with my players just to liven things up a bit and add to their troubles.

Witchfynder Procalmation.docx

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Lol one of my Players is an Alchemist and he's playing it straight as outside the Royalist areas he's very reluctant to use his powers (Which is cool as I have to adjust some encounters so that he can actually use his character without fear of spooking the locals and finding himself strung up) I'm looking forward to them going into the Tainted lands I just hope I can pull off the dark weirdness well enough. 

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