Category Archives: Fantasy

The Service Industry

Caveat: I’ve never been a big fan of “crafting” in MMOs and the like.  The idea of spending hours on a computer game collecting different artifacts to put together something for sale just doesn’t do it for me.  That’s why I have a job.  That’s why I have hobbies.  I don’t want to spend my leisure time “crafting” virtual products for sale.  If you are the kind of person who does, you will probably disagree with the assessment in this article.

Recently, over on Google+, I shared a few thoughts with Brian Fitzpatrick on a prospective Alchemist class for old-school D&D.  Now first, let me say that Brian is in good company.  I’m not sure how many versions of an Alchemist class have been developed for D&D, between retro-clones, heartbreakers, Dragon Magazine, Pathfinder, and unattributed home brews, but I’m sure its up there in the Top 10.  He’s not breaking new ground, but he’s not trying to get blood from a stone either.

Once upon a time, I loved the idea of NPC classes.  Because more is better, right?  In a class-based system, the only way to achieve these expressions of diversity is through new classes.  It’s not like a skill or advantage-based system where I can spend a few points and BOOM!  I’m an alchemist, bitches!

The trouble is, those sorts of classes don’t really work in an adventure/exploration heavy game like D&D.  A character class focused solely on a support role just isn’t going to be fun to play over the long haul by the majority of players.  Because they never really get a chance to step into the spotlight when it counts.    Sure, I’m sure there are a handful of games that sort of class will fit like a glove, but the traditional “let’s explore” D&D game, not so much.

Besides, the rules already provide guidelines for the creation of potions and alchemical devices by clerics, magic-users and elves (even the other character types too, if the GM is flexible and willing to be extrapolate a bit).  This makes perfect sense.  After all, if we look at the life and career of Isaac Newton, its reasonable that in a quasi-historical fantasy setting all of these skills would have gone together.  A “wizard” would of course be able to cook up alchemical concoctions.  That would be assumed in the background and training.  So you already have the framework for your adventuring alchemist.  You can make it as simple or robust as you need it to be.

So my response to Brian was, rather than a class, why not just come up with a more detailed alchemy service?  Because that’s what it really comes down to: service and cost.  The party hires an alchemist to keep them afloat in healing potions, greek fire, and (in the case of Brian’s class) keep their magic items charged.  That stuff really isn’t the bread and butter of adventuring PCs, so lets mitigate it to a support role.  Brian disagrees with me on the merits of the class.  Which is fine.  As I’ve said, he’s in good company and I’m hardly the final word in game design.  His argument is as follows:

…I think the party alchemist, especially in a longer campaign with more spellcasters, could be extremely useful. Perhaps not all the time, but more often than not… Here are a few possibilities.

  • Imagine having the ability for both a Cleric and an Alchemist to temporarily enchant or improve weapons for the battle at hand
  • Or recharging an expended magic item at a critical juncture
  • Or creating a scroll, potion or powder from an unused spell at the end of the day “just in case” the party needs it at a future time

If we make the alchemist at lower levels (1-5) more useful for those three tasks, as well as give them a few additional abilities or spells, I think that would be enough to make this a useful player class.

Sure.  Or you could simply tweak the magic item research and fabrication rules as they are and achieve almost the same effect without having to wedge a player into a largely supportive role.

Consider:

  • Clerics and magic users can already temporarily enhance weapons for the battle at hand without the extra step of alchemy.
  • Recharging expended magic item sounds great, but removes the necessity of further exploration to replace expended resources.  Plus, most magic items replicate spell effects, allowing you to put your other limited resources elsewhere.
  • The rules already allow this to some degree.  Building a class around it is unnecessary.

And that’s really what’s at issue here.  Unless alchemy is going to be a big feature of your game (and it could be!), building a class doesn’t really add value to the game.  Instead, it provides a character that isn’t as capable as a magic-user or cleric that is focused on downtime activities and with more equipment and resource requirements.  See, a magic-user is just as capable whether or not he can find a steady supply of mandrake root to create this or that potion.  An alchemist would need to have that same, if not more, utility and versatility.

I’m not saying an adventuring alchemist isn’t a cool idea.  But I do think it needs to have a bigger niche than, “you want me to recharge that for ya?”

But I didn’t write this whole thing to shoot down Brian’s hopes and dreams.  No, see I want to redirect him a little.  Because what I DO NEED, as a DM AND as a player, is a reason to travel 300 miles over land and sea to seek out a MASTER alchemist as opposed to hiring that guy in the base town.  And I need a justification as to why that dude charges x10 as much for his services, other than that his calling card reads “Master Alchemist.”

If you look at B/X and AD&D, you’ll see roughly the same thing:

B/X D&D (Expert Rulebook)
Alchemist (1000 gp/month): If given the formula or a sample, an alchemist may make a potion at half the normal time and cost. They may also conduct research into different types of potions at twice the cost and time required for a magic-user.

AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide
Alchemist (300 gp/month):
This profession handles the compounding of magical substances, and the advantages of employing an alchemist are detailed under the section FABRICATION OF MAGIC ITEMS, Potions. Alchemists will only be found in cities unless you specifically locate one elsewhere. It will require an offer of 10 to 100 gold pieces bonus money, plus a well-stocked laboratory, plus the assurance of not less than a full year of employment, to attract one to service.

There really isn’t anything there that sets one apart from the other.  So there is just as much benefit to tracking down the famed Isaac Newton at University in England as dropping into Ted’s Apothecary and Lubricants for all of your alchemical needs.  What I’m proposing would serve the game well would be to grade hirelings by degrees of skill (I’d recommend three tiers to avoid getting too granular and keep the book keeping manageable), with different rates and some different capabilities attached.  Ted’s A & L might be a great place to go for low level potions.  But for the real heavy hitters (like recharging your wand of fireballs or a potion of super heroism), you have to seek out a Master.  And I think it would be worthwhile to do this across the board.  There should be a difference between hiring the Black Company and Wallace’s Band of Ne’er-do-Wells.  And there really is no guidance on how to do it right now.

I’m going to come back to this eventually on my own, but I suspect someone just as smart and twice as dedicated has already beaten me to the punch on this one.  And if not, someone needs to.  In the meantime, don’t give up hope on your Alchemist class, Brian.  I hear the one in the Arcanum is a fantastic starting point!

 

Fey Nightmares

I began prep for the Horn & Crown story arc fresh off of Mark Chadbourn’s third Swords of Albion novel, the Devil’s Looking Glass.  As four of the seven PCs in the witch hunter game are from England, I had always planned on having part of the campaign take place in the British Isles.  And to me, that meant involving the fey.  The question became how to approach faeries in the world of Witch Hunter.

I’ve loved the imagery and spectacle of Guillermo del Toro’s take on the fey in Hellboy 2 and Pan’s Labyrinth.  But most RPGs treat the fey as beautiful wish fulfillment.  So game-able details on spooky, creepy, otherworldly fey that adhere to folklore (and the Monster Manual 12) are hard to come by.

Recently, two OSR blogs have touched on the subject: Elfmaids and Octopi and They Might be Gazebos have posted articles on making elves alien again.  Of course, they are working at something of a disadvantage, from my perspective anyway. They are trying to maintain the feys’ playability as a race.  Therefore, most of the recommendations they put forward were cosmetic at best.  With Witch Hunter, I don’t have any such restrictions.  There are no elves or dwarves.  And the fey are free to be as alien and hostile to humanity as the GM pleases.

So herein are a collection of various articles to give the fey and those who serve the Summer and Winter courts a real shot in the arm.  Apply liberally.  Most Witch Hunter players are probably coming from other RPGs that present the fey in more favorable terms.  You’ll need to shock them out of that misconception quickly.  They fey of the Invisible World are not your friends.  They have an agenda, one most of us would probably find horrifying or just downright queer.  Even their best habits should be unsettling.

The Unseelie of Swords of Albion

Mark Chadbourn does a good job of injecting the fey of his novels with unsettling creepiness.  Granted, they are the villains, monsters in vaguely human guise.  Some of his stuff works, some of it doesn’t.  But it’s a great place to cull from for our purposes.  Granted, the Seelie should hedge towards more alien beauty, which when done right can be just as unsettling as the grotesqueness of the Unseelie fey.

The voice was like the wind across snow.  In the corner of the hall, a woman stood, motionless, shoulders slightly hunched like an animal on the brink of attacking.  Her hair hung lank around a bloodless face, her eyes red-rimmed, unblinking.  There was something of the grave about her.  With excruciating slowness, she stalked towards him.

— Mark Chadbourn, The Silver Skull

xxxx

“Do you hear music?” Mayhew cocked his head.  “Like pipes playing, caught on the breeze?”  As he breathed deeply of the night air, he realized the foul odour of the city had been replaced by sweet, seductive scents that took him back to his childhood.  A tear stung his eye.  “That aroma,” he noted, “like cornfields beneath the summer moon.”  He inhaled.  “Honey, from the hive my grandfather kept.”

— Mark Chadbourn, The Silver Skull

xxxx

In the sweet places inhabited by the Unseelie Court, there is always music in the air, and beauty, and joy, and the haunting fragrance of honeysuckle.

— Mark Chadbourn, The Scar-Crow Men

xxxx

Their clothes, while of the finest material, appeared to be on the brink of rot, stained here and there with silvery mildew, the style harking back to a distant age.  A scent of loam accompanied them.  Their cheekbones were high, their hair long, their eyes pale, but there was an odd quality to their features that meant they rarely registered on the mind; once they had passed from view it was almost impossible to recall the details of their appearance.

— Mark Chadbourn, The Silver Skull

xxxx

As the doors to the State Rooms swung open, the light from the candles grew dimmer, although the flames burned as strong.  Shadows fell at strange angles, and a suffocating atmosphere descended.  Here and there across the room, blood began to drip from noses.

— Mark Chadbourn, The Silver Skull

xxxx

Fey Interests

Polemic, 10′ did an interesting article on the topic of weird fey variants.  Rather than mess with keeping dozens of variants, it was easy enough to distill them down to their base interests.  When you want to flesh out a faerie (villain, lieutenant, or hero), simply choose one from the following list or roll a d10 and assign the result.

  1. Stealing children
    These fey use their powers of persuasion to part the starving poor, or otherwise misfortunate, with their offspring.  Perhaps they steal an infant from its crib, replacing it with a grotesque (a changeling).  Either way, the fey views this as a proper exchange.
  2. Magical trinkets and relics
    These fey might collect magical devices from throughout the Invisible World (including the mortal realm), stealing them when necessary or trading and bartering for them.  Or perhaps they make mischief by circulating powerful cursed items (a monkey’s paw) among mortals.
  3. Perform “miraculous” deeds for the dispossessed and easily duped
    These fey answer the desperate cries of those in need, but at a hefty the price, whether it be a soul or firstborn son (daughter, or child).  My like a daemon, the fey will arrive to collect its prize at the appointed time without fail.
  4. The unfinished task, cut short by the bent nail or the wrong screwdriver.
    These fey become invisible to make mischief by bedeviling craftsmen with broken tools, changing measurements, and all other manners of misdeeds.  Naturally, they always fix what they have broken after the craftsman has gone to sleep.  Those whom these fey take a liking too, they sometimes aid in their craft during these times.  These fey are particularly sensitive to offers of gifts!
  5. Following after the wayward with wolfish intent.
    This fey is driven to inflict pain and mischief upon foolish women, men, or children who wander alone after dark.  The hunt, the gnawing fear of its victim, is intoxicating for the fey.  Some have learned to brew this into a tonic that is in high demand throughout both faerie courts.
  6. Visit villages on cold moonless nights, tapping thin fingers on windows as they create intricate traceries in the frost.
    This fey is an artist and graces those who please it with wondrous images born of frost traced on a window.  Of course, the subtitles and nuances of this art is sometimes too great for human perception.  Sometimes this serves as a warning of bad things to come.
  7. Yearn merely to caress the placid faces of the wayward dead. Living beings are too coarse and earthly for them.
    This fey will lead the wayward, lost, or foolish to an early death for its own romantic (or carnal) pleasures.  While usually a trait of the Unseelie fey, there are those of the Summer Court who share this trait, though not in the same malicious sense.
  8. Shambling about in the twilight seeking the unwary with groping fingers and muttering dark lullabies.
    Locks of maiden’s hair; this is a desired commodity, even a currency, for whole communities of fey.  The more pure (or more tarnished) the maid, the more valuable the hair.  This could be the Focus of the fey (Focus Bound Price).
  9. Isolation
    These fey dwell apart from their brethren, whether out of fear, grief, or animosity. Their loneliness (their tendency to drink immoderately) makes them unpredictable.  They might invite a wayward soul in out of the rain, masquerading as a simple hermit, offer him food and drink (never take food or drink offered from a faerie – it gives them power over you) and then torture the guest for their amusement.
  10. Fingers tipped with gossamer strands float down, touching skin through fabric and causing tiny itches that are all too easily scratched. Wake too soon and you might feel it crouching on your chest, trailing its subtle threads across your face and ears and throat. Hide under the covers and it will crawl in with you.
    Dreams and nightmares; this fey will steal into the home of a sleeping victim, crouch upon his chest and lay its long, delicate fingers across his sleeping face.  The victim is visited by intense and realistic dreams or nightmares.  The fey might drink from the intoxicating emotions that these dreams cause, or perhaps it is simply curious and wishes to understand humanity better.  These fey are sometimes confused with the more horrid (though not necessarily more thoroughly evil) incubus.

Weaknesses and Wards

These are culled from folklore.  They are useful as superstitions surrounding the fey.  Consider changing them up in strange, unexpected ways for the fey of your game.  Also remember, each fey is unique so no two will be exactly the same.  Still, I would settle on a few constants (like vulnerability to Cold Iron), if only to make those variations more dramatic.
Iron:
  • On entering a Fairy dwelling, a piece of steel stuck in the door, takes from the Fairies the power of closing it till the intruder comes out again.
  • A knife stuck in a deer carried home at night keeps them from laying their weight on the animal.
  • A knife or nail in one’s pocket prevents his being `lifted’ at night. Nails in the front bench of the bed keep elves from women `in the straw’, and their babes. As additional safe-guards, the smoothing iron should be put below the bed, and the reaping-hook in the window.
  • A nail in the carcass of a bull that fell over a rock was believed to preserve its flesh from them.
Bells:
  • church bells
  • the bells worn by morris dancers
  • the bells round the necks of sheeps and oxen
Water:
  • one can leap to safety across running water, particularly a southward-flowing stream.
  • descending to the shoreline below the high-tide mark. The Fairies were unable to go below that tide mark.
Fire:
  • Fire thrown into water in which the feet have been washed takes away the power of the water to admit the Fairies into the house at night
  • burning peat put in sowens to hasten their fermenting (greasadh gortachadh) kept the substance in them till ready to boil.
  • fire was carried round lying-in women, and round about children before they were christened, to keep mother and infant from the power of evil spirits.
  • When the Fairies were seen coming in at the door burning embers thrown towards them drove them away.
Oatmeal:
  • When sprinkled on one’s clothes or carried in the pocket no Fairy will venture near (it was usual with people going on journeys after nightfall to adopt the precaution of taking some with them).
  • Oatmeal, taken out of the house after dark, was sprinkled with salt, and unless this was done, the Fairies might through its instrumentality take the substance out of the farmer’s whole grain.
  • Oakmen are created when a felled oak stump sends up shoots. One should never take food offered by them since it is poisonous.
Plants:
  • Four-leafed clover: brake fairy glamour, as well as the fairy ointment, which was indeed said by Hunt to be made of four-leafed clovers.
  • St John’s Wort, the herb of Midsummer: potent against spells and the power of fairies, evil spirits and the Devil.
    • Red verbena was almost equally potent, partly because of its pure and brilliant colour.
  • Daisies, particularly the little field daisies, were protective plants, and a child wearing daisy chains was supposed to be safe from fairy kidnapping.
  • Red-berried trees were also protective, above them all rowan.
    • A staff made of rowan wood, or a rowan cross or a bunch of ripe berries were all sure protections
      • it was customary in the Highlands to plant a rowan-tree outside every house.
    • Where rowans were scarce, ash- An ashen gad was supposed to be protective of cattle.

Power & Price Descriptions and Variants

With the above guidelines, here are some Power and Price variations you can apply to fey creatures in your game.

Debilitative Aura (Veneficum/Sorcerous): Describe the suffocating aura that accompanies the fey, as if a heavy weight pressed on your chest; the instinctive urge to avert one’s eyes from their presence; the heady scent of honeysuckle or the grave; the sensation of blood dripping from your nose.

Mortal Mask (Corpus/Body): The fey know their appearance is unsettling to mortals, and will quickly shift to a less alien appearance.  A brief glimpse of their true form might be allowed to cow or intimidate the mortal(s) in their presence.  This isn’t on the official list of powers, but is simple enough to add.

Allergen (Corpus/Body): includes church bells, iron, and salt.

Atmospheric Disturbance (Veneficum/Sorcerous): The appearance of any fey is preceded by the faint sound of pipes, and a sweet, seductive aura that is as peaceful as it is unsettling.

Avoidance (Malus/Offensive): Mystical plants (oak, holly, rowan, ash, thorne, sage, sweetgrass, four-leafed clover, St. John’s Wart, daisies), oatmeal

Damage (Corpus/Body): Cold Iron

Repulsion (Malus/Offensive): Church bells, Inverted clothing

Restriction (Cursus/Movement): Hanging an iron instrument (bell, cross, fence, horse shoe, scissors, etc) above a arch or doorway will bar the passage of a fey being.  Mystical plants (see Avoidance) and salt may be used as a substitute.

Weakness (Malus/Offensive): Cold Iron

 

The Thousand Names: A Not-Review

1000namesFor about the past month, I’ve been reading Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names.  As of last Wednesday, I stopped.  I’ve given it the old college try, stuck with it through plague and pestilence, running solo as a parent while the wife was away at a conference, even visits from the in-laws.  In that time, I only managed 80 pages…in small bites.

I’m not really sure how this one failed me.  It was on my short list.  I really wanted to like it. It begins with a very cool Prologue that the first…tenth – geez, this really does sound unfair – of the novel just does not manage to capitalize on.

Perhaps my expectations were off.  I dug in hoping for a clash of cultures worthy of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lions of Al-Rassan.  What I got was more like a British Military outpost in Afghanistan (circa 1839-42), if the military spoke more like American soldiers.  It just felt…off.  Compound that with the first hundred pages is all set-up.  The veterans at the garrison are demoralized.  A new Commander has been sent to kick them into shape and deal with the insurgent threat of a massive tribal army bent on kicking the invaders out.  That sounds great, doesn’t it?  And yet…The main characters we’re introduced to early on are mostly cliches: the woman masquerading as a man in the military, the soldier promoted up from down ranks who is more aware than the rest of the officers.  At least the new commander is receptive to his criticisms and recommendations.

So this one goes back to the library.  Sorry, but if I can’t find something to latch onto in 30 days that will keep me reading more than 3-4 pages at a stretch, the name on the book had better be Pynchon (or Delillo, I’m easy) or it’s going back.  I’m not even going to rate this one for obvious reasons.  If you’ve read the book and loved it…even liked it, please sing its praises in the comments section.  Maybe at some point I’ll give it another shot.

Traitor’s Blade: A Book Review

It takes a lot for a book to make me laugh.  It’s probably the reason why I could never quite get into  Terry Prachett.  It’s not that I’m a humorless guy…at least, I don’t think I am.  I can appreciate satire as much as anyone.  It just doesn’t make me laugh.

Traitor’s Blade made me laugh.  A lot.  It was the first book I’ve read in a while now that I would characterize as a FUN read.  Traitor’s Blade is FUN.  It’s also gripping, tense, even a bit horrific, with careful drops and drabs of dark humor and grimdark fantasy.  Sebastien De Castell was really going for a Three Musketeers vibe when he wrote Traitor’s Blade and he succeeded…wildly.

I picked up Traitor’s Blade as a bit of a break from the cycle of pseudo-historical/fantasies I’ve been reading lately.  I needed to recharge the batteries and it showed up well recommended on Goodreads.

The book sets off as our hero, Falcio val Mond sits babysitting a pompous merchant prince along with his two companions, Kest and Brasti.  The three are Greatcoats, the famed company of the King’s magistrates, now disbanded and disgraced in the eyes of even the lowest serf.  When the king they served ran afoul of the Dukes, a sort of oligarchy nobility who constitute the real power in the lands of Tristia, the Greatcoats sworn to protect him and see that the King’s laws were enforced stepped aside and let the king be murdered by his own noble subjects.

Unlike Steven Brust’s Phoenix Guard, another novel that immerses itself in the style and flair of Dumas, Castell chooses to adopt a more contemporary, breezy writing style.

I will admit, early on I began to fear I had stumbled onto a Three Musketeers Meets The Black Company story early on, but the grimdark elements are refreshingly light in Traitor’s Blade.  Oh, the villains are ugly, vile things the reader will immediately hate – the shades of gray here are not reserved for the villains in true swashbuckling fashion.  But those horrific elements exist to uplift the heroes rather than drag them down into the muck (as in, say, FX’s Bastard Executioner series).

The interaction between the three principle characters is fantastic, with all of the drama and humor one expects from a tale of swashbuckling heroes.  Each has his own voice.  And while flawed, they aren’t crippled by their shortcomings.

The second act does get a bit lost in the weeds, as the novel takes a sudden turn as Falcio and a child he has sworn to protect dodge assassins and worse on the gritty streets of a city in the midst of its “Blood Week,” seven days when one’s only claim to title or property is what he or she can defend from their murderous neighbors.  Sort of a fantasy version of the Purge.  It works, and the act is tense and gripping, but it feels like a novella within the novel, giving it a bit of a disjointed structure that robs the whole of some satisfaction.  But only slightly.  It’s the equivalent of complaining about having to roll down your own windows in an old car.

Naturally, the conclusion of the novel sets the stage for the second book in the series.  But enough loose ends are tied up to make it satisfying in and of itself.  Trust me when I say that you’ll be reading the next book (or not, as the case may be) because you love the characters, not because you are waiting for some grand resolution to the troubles of Tristia.

So to sum up, fun, exciting, refreshing character-driven fantasy.  Five out of five stars.  Take a break from whatever else you are doing and read this book.  You’ll thank me later.

Blood Moon

Ok, so this post is a few days short of being really timely.  But I’m going to try to make up for that in utility.  Sunday night, those of us here in the US and elsewhere got to catch a glimpse of total lunar eclipse that many have been calling a Blood Moon.  Sounds pedestrian enough.  When I saw a headline about it on a news site, I pretty much wrote it off as just that.  After all, it doesn’t take much these days for some religious (or not) group, no matter how mainstream, to associate some natural phenomenon with the end times.

So what is a “blood moon” exactly?  Its apparently a fairly contemporary construct.  According to EarthSky:

…two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, used the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the ongoing tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015. John Hagee appears to have popularized the term in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.

And so while lunar eclipses are nothing new, and not even particularly uncommon, this lunar tetrad is especially significant because of the timing of two Jewish holidays:

The April 2014 and April 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Passover. The October 2014 and September 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Tabernacles.

All this makes for an interesting witches brew of inspiration for any supernatural rpg, including Witch Hunter.  One of the first things I did when putting together my game was create a calendar of October, 1689 and beyond and included the lunar schedule.

But while the circumstances of this particular phenomenon are pretty uncommon, the whole blood red moon is just part of the package when it comes to a total lunar eclipse:

The full moon nearly always appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse. That’s because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse. Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses.

So this morning, I stole a few moments to ponder how one might incorporate the “Blood Moon” into Witch Hunter.  You could easily transpose this

Lunar Eclipses of the 17th Century

Wikipedia has an extensive collection of data here, but unless realism is the bedrock of your game we can get plenty of mileage just out of the dates.  Here’s a list that would be relevant to the Witch Hunter rpg, with tentatively begins in the year 1689.

Total Lunar Eclipses
Year Dates
1689 Jun 16 Dec 10
1693 Jan 22 Jul 17
1696 May 16 Nov 9

Full Moons and Folklore

The whole lunar cycle is suffused with superstition and folklore.  Every full moon has a name, coinciding with the season and date.  Most of these have religious, even if only pagan, significance.  You can find a complete listing here, but assuming a Witch Hunter game set in the northern hemisphere (either Europe or the North American colonies), here is a relevant list.

Full moon names by season (Northern or Southern Hemisphere):
After the winter solstice:
January: Old Moon (Moon After Yule)
February: Snow Moon (Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon)
March: Sap Moon (Crow Moon, Lenten Moon)

After the spring equinox:
April: Grass Moon (Egg Moon)
May: Planting Moon (Milk Moon)
June: Rose Moon (Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon)

After the summer solstice:
July: Thunder Moon (Hay Moon)
August: Green Corn Moon (Grain Moon)
September: Fruit Moon (Harvest Moon)

After the autumnal equinox:
October: Harvest Moon (Hunter’s Moon)
November: Hunter’s Moon (Frosty Moon, Beaver Moon)
December: Moon Before Yule (Long Night Moon)

Supernatural Effects of a Blood Moon

Most superstitions about lunar eclipses have to do with consumption, war, and change.  Rather than make things easy on your players, when a Blood Moon comes up, roll 1d10 on the table below for a supernatural effect:

  1. Manwolves, lycanthropes, or any threat with the Mystical Limitation (Moon) Price ignores any wound penalties during the eclipse.
  2. All Witchcraft or Diabolism skill rolls receive a +4d bonus during the eclipse; the Mastery of any Diabolism or Witchcraft rite is reduced by 2.
  3. All portals into the Middle Kingdoms of the Invisible World all lead to the same location during the eclipse; this particular location may only ever be reached during a Blood Moon.
  4. Threats with the Carnivate Power receive double the usual free successes for consuming living mortals during the course of the eclipse.
  5. Anyone with a Damnation score of 5 or more who performs a sinful act during the Blood Moon becomes a helpless shell for a dameon for the remainder of the eclipse (see Daemons of Loscar, The Legion Cycle).
  6. Lycanthropy does not function. A manwolf who consumes the right dosage of wolfsbane during the eclipse is cured of the curse.
  7. All Threats gain the Weakness or Repulsion (Gongs, bells, or cacophonic noise) Price for the duration of the eclipse.
  8. All Threats (or characters) with the Contracted Soul Price are free of their infernal obligations for the duration of the eclipse.
  9. Devout and sincere prayer for no less than a full uninterrupted hour during the course of the eclipse will remove 1 point of Damnation.
  10. All players roll 1d10; on a roll of 1 or 2, the player may either exchange his or her background power for another (with GM approval) or may gain the Skilled Talent for free.
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