Tag Archives: historical rpg


So after some unfortunate shuffling of the deck chairs in our 7th Sea game, we brought in two new players.  One of them, a very serious and historically minded type comes to me and says, “I want to play this?  I don’t see it as a background though.”  “No problem,” I say.  “Let’s see what we can do.”

The background in question was the Dragoman, an envoy and diplomat in the Ottoman Court.  With the preview of the Crescent Empire book beginning to circulate through the kickstarter channels, I figure this is a timely addition.  Especially since that background isn’t included.  Probably because of the focus on language, one of many things this edition of 7th Sea shuffles into the background.

Actually, creating a new background wasn’t difficult at all.  We took two comparable backgrounds, the Courtier and the Consigliere (Vodacce), and smashed them together.  Then there was some jockeying about what Advantages (besides Linguist) to include.  In the end, we settled on 6 points of Advantages as there is precedence for this.  In the end, the hardest part was coming up with a Quirk!  So I turned to the Facebook fan group for that.  In the end, I think it turned out pretty well, and makes a great background for a Crescent agent adventuring in Théah.


Crescent Empire Background

You are a bridge between cultures; an interpreter, mediator, diplomat, and guide in foreign matters in the court of the Empress.

Quirk: Earn a Hero Point when you solve a problem using knowledge from a culture other than your own.

Advantages: Linguist, Friend at Court, Honest Misunderstanding

Skills: Convince, Empathy, Notice, Scholarship, Tempt

High Seas Holidays

The votes are in, and my group of players have almost unanimously elected to go with a high seas adventure game with strong involvement of secret societies.  And with that, prep for our 7th Sea game can really begin in earnest.  Not that I haven’t been brainstorming and scribbling down ideas for awhile now, but this gives me a definite direction with which to steer the ship, so to speak.

With the holidays upon us, I am sneaking in whatever time I can manage to do a bit of prep for the forthcoming 7th Sea campaign.  It’s coming along nicely.  I feel I have quite a few resources collected that will make my work easier when we dive in around mid-January.  And since it’s the holidays, I want to share some of the fruits of my labor with you.

So first up, a 7th Sea Ship Name resource.  Along with a reformatted version of Finn’s Companion #3 (any of you old hands remember that one?), I’ve included a list of authentic ship names from the 17th Century British and Dutch navies, along with pirate vessels of ill repute.  So you can either grab a name from antiquity or mix and match something new for your players to grapple with.  This should be of help to anyone running a historical (or semi-historical) nautical game.  I’m going to add this resource on the Downloads page as well.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Samhain is for Witch Hunters

Tonight All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, and compared to last year there has been a complete dearth of Witch Hunter material.  Especially compared with last year!  There are a lot of excuses I could throw out there, chef among them being that my group really hasn’t played since August!  But most of it comes down to just being a bit tapped out this year.  I’ve had to focus on a lot of other things, which hasn’t meant much time scratching notes in the old notebook.

But I’m not going to let a Halloween go by without something for fellow fans of the Witch Hunter rpg.  This has been a strange year for us.  No official releases, very little ink spilled about the direction of the game.  The property has changed hands, and while there have been some promises, for the most part it’s been quiet as the grave.

j-_sprenger_and_h-_institutoris_malleus_maleficarum-_wellcome_l0000980Those of you who visit this site regularly know that since my group started play four years ago, we’ve incorporated a lot of “fixes” in our game.  Most of them I’ve posted here in various blog posts spread out over three years.  But if you are one of the two or three people who wish you could get all of our House Rules in one document, well today is your lucky day.  Now you can download the Malleus Maleficarum (the Hammer of Witches) for Witch Hunter: The Invisible World 2nd edition.  This is a compendium of all the house rules and tweaks we use in our game.  I’m adding a link to the Downloads page as well.  I’m understandably biased, but I feel these changes have really fine tuned the Witch Hunter experience for our group.  And until we get an official errata document, this may be the closest thing you are going to find for the game.  I claim no official position here, and obviously none of this is sanctioned by the Witch Hunter: Revelations campaign.  But I really hope this is useful for those of you who have been following this site for your home games.

(Yes, this is a not-so-clever play on the real Malleus Maleficarum, an actual 17th century account of witch hunting and the Invisible World.  Beyond the title, there is no relation between the two documents.)

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Re-examining All For One: Regime Diabolique

Summer is almost over.  My wife is back to work at a new library.  The kids go back to school in a week.  Time for another big shake up of my schedule, hopefully in a good way.  It may make blogging a bit easier.  We’ll see.

So awhile back, if you recall, I posted my thoughts on running a B/X D&D and just how easy it felt.  It still feels easy, fresh, and fun.  Enough so that Witch Hunter feels a bit clunky by comparison.  So as an exercise, I starting playing around with home-brewing a system that would give me the same easy breezy feeling but include all the stuff I want and need for heroic swashbuckling fantasy.  And that’s what I stumbled right back over All For One: Regime Diabolique, by Wiggy of Triple Ace Games.

prod_35164For those of you unfamiliar with the game, All for One (AFO, hereafter) is a roleplaying game set in early 17th Century France, where the players assume the roles of the King’s Musketeers, protecting King and Country from the threats foreign, domestic, and…supernatural!  Demons, vampires, werewolves, and all manner of other things that go bump in the night lurk in the dark shadows of Paris, and in the catacombs below.  Now if that doesn’t sound like a dead ringer candidate for game of the year for this GM, I don’t know what does?

I used AFO a few years back as the basis for another campaign for my library program.  At that time, I was pretty wrapped up in the Savage Worlds system and the Savage World of Solomon Kane, so the Ubiquity system went in the hopper and was hastily converted to SW mechanics.  This was, of course, before Triple Ace Games (TAG) did me the courtesy of releasing a SW adaption on their own.  Boy, would that have saved me some work.  That campaign has long since wrapped, but I’ve kept AFO on my Witch Hunter resource bookshelf for ideas and inspiration.  So it isn’t like I found my dog-earred copy in the garage.

Now maybe you haven’t heard, but as much as I like the new 7th Sea game, it has some aspects that present a bit of a barrier to me as a go-to game.  But what started out as an exercise in stripping a game for parts became sort of a startling rediscovery of the Ubiquity system.  Understand, I never disliked Ubiquity as a game system, it was just a non-starter for me.  The whole even/odds thing felt gimmicky, and most folks compare its play with Savage Worlds.

Flash forward a few years and I have a sudden epiphany that Ubiquity could be the bad ass d10 dice pool game 7th Sea is never going to be for me.  Even better, it’s a rosetta stone.  You can easily map that parts of 7th Sea 2nd edition you like to it, due to the Hero Point/Style Point economies both games share, and still maintain a more traditional conflict resolution mechanic.  Oh sure, it’s not a perfect fit, but it’s pretty damn close.  It seems like a pretty hard game to break, too.  And the tone and style of the game flirts with covering the same territory as witch hunter (supernatural monster hunting) while at the same time opening itself to a more sandbox approach.  In fact, its a perfect fit for those who want to run a game akin to D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker Chronicles.

After four years of playing Witch Hunter, I’ve got the system ALMOST where it needs to be.  So I’m not about to pitch the whole thing and jump ship to Ubiquity, but DAMN if it isn’t tempting.  A lot of the lore of Witch Hunter could easily be mapped to AFO, as could the setting material for Savage World of Solomon Kane.  Personally, I like that Witch Hunter is a more global game.  Where if you want to throw together an adventure in India, or Egypt, or the Far East, you are good to go.  But there are parts of the system that just feel like dead weight compared to what Ubiquity offers.

I would make a few changes off the top, however.  These ideas may not sit well, or may seem superfluous, to hard-core Ubiquity fans.  But if I play it, they are going in.

  • d10 dice pools. Successes on a 6+ (instead of standard evens/odds)
  • Exploding dice!  Rolling a 10 on any die lets you reroll.
  • Rule of 10. dice pools are capped at 10. For every two dice extra, the player gets a free success.
  • Static Defense.  At the very least for NPCs, do away with defense rolls and just reduce attacks by the Average defense.
  • Brute squads/Minion Bands! Gotta have rules for mobs of bad guys.  Someone has probably done this for Ubiquity already, but I’m thinking Threat Ratings 1-5, roll 2 dice per Rank.  Defense is equal to Rank.  Defense Rolls against brute squads don’t suffer the usual -2 for multiple opponents (they are brutes!).
  • Cinematic Health: On paper, the game looks a bit more gritty than I’d like for a pulp game.  But having not played before, I’m hesitant to change that.
  • GM Procedural Rolls.  I’m gonna have a whole blog post on these, as I’m coming to realize they are the secret sauce that makes O/B/X D&D click.  Any GM roll against a player skill is done with 1d10.  A roll equal to or less than the average rating succeeds.  Yes, sorry, the high-low thing.  But these are only for the GM, so…

And that’s more or less it.  Ok, I might add some special stunts for Fencing Schools, but I suspect those are already out and in the wild.

So if you’ve been following along with this blog and thinking, yeah, swashbuckling monster hunters sounds fun!  Or if your one of the many people who cracked the new 7th Sea game and said, “what the…um…” then DEFINITELY do yourself a favor and check out this gem.  The game line is well supported and mostly complete, so no supplement train to worry about (feature or negative, your choice).  Plus, the guys at TAG are fantastic folks who threw a lot of support to me when I was using their stuff for my library program.


Something Wicked This Way Comes

3bbd444bbf1f4956f13c6b9dc43c0786It began when Paradigm Concepts did an update of their website.  All the pieces seemed to be in place except…no Witch Hunter.  Huh, we thought, I guess they just haven’t finished that.  Then a month went by.  Then two months.  Lots of talk about a 5e conversion of Arcanis and plenty of organized play for Arcanis at Origins.  I even noticed an uptick of conversation in the Rotting Capes (think Marvel Zombies, the RPG) forums.  And yet any talk of Witch Hunter was quiet as the grave.  Even on the eve of Origins, there was still no word about specific Witch Hunter organized events.

There was one blip on the radar; a message from lead designer, Eric Weiner, that an update to the website would be coming soon, along with (maybe) a GM screen after Origins.  But that quickly faded into business as usual radio silence.

I’ve been down this road before.  Mythus. SAGA. Lejendary Adventure.  All dead.  Dead and buried.  Unceremoniously in most cases.  Would any of us be surprised?  The last time someone asked about Witch Hunter on TBP, it got three responses.  Three.

Then, last week, one of the people on the Witch Hunter Google+ Community noticed that all the Witch Hunter products on DrivethruRPG were now listed for sale under Alligator Alley Entertainment.  Who?  What?  I mean, it’s not like Paradigm is a BIG PLAYER in RPGs, but this company didn’t even have a website.  Is it a glitch?  A bug?  Tidings of grave peril ahead?

Well today we finally got something of an answer.  Eric Wiener has chimed in on the Witch Hunter forums with:

Alligator Alley Entertainment is my company that will be publishing Witch Hunter going forward. My website isn’t up yet so I will still be answering questions here.

This is an amicable split and PCI and AAE will often share booth space at cons and join together for events. It should allow Henry and I to focus on our individual lines and make both better.

So first of all, HAPPY DANCE!  Do not confuse all the recent gushing over 7th Sea with dissatisfaction in my Witch Hunter game.  This is a campaign storyline I would sincerely like to see through to the end.  And while I’m at it, I plan on continuing to showcase Witch Hunter here and evangelize it where I can (because I’m of that generation) and want to see as many people playing, contributing to, and building on the world of Witch Hunter as possible.  Hell, I’d love to write for it though my personal circumstances up til now have made that difficult.  Those of you stay-at-home parents know.

On the other hand, please someone send Eric a book on PR and Press Releases.  Because even if it is only 5 of us (or 49, based on the size of the Google+ community), we really don’t like twisting in the wind.  These are properties we have personally invested time, sweat, creative energy, even blood (careful with those exacto knives, kids!) into.  We want to be excited about them.  We respect that PCI is a bunch of guys doing this on the side because they love the hobby.  No one is getting rich off the residual IP rights to Arcanis, WH, or RC (yet, anyway.).  But hey, keep us in the loop.  Doing things out of order can lead to confusion, which leads to fear, which leads to…yeah, you know the rest of that quote.


So bravo Eric!  Good luck on this endeavor.  And know that there are fans of Witch Hunter that stand ready to do what we can to help you out in whatever way we can.  Except for dishes and laundry.  I do enough of those already.


The Immortal Seven

In preparing for the Horn & Crown campaign arc, I’ve been doing research on many of the power players in King William’s Court.  And while not exclusive to them, it certainly means doing the work researching the Immortal Seven.  I’ve already picked a few of these personages to play a prominent background role in the new story arc, but I like to have a more complete picture of the time.  There is much more to these men than what is included in the profiles below, but in the interests of the campaign my notes focus on the period of 1689 and 1690, leading up to the Battle of Boyne in the Summer of 1690.

The following information has been culled from Wikipedia (naturally) and a few other sources throughout the internet.



The Immortal Seven were the seven individuals who put their name to the formal letter of invitation sent on the 30th of June, 1688, to William of Orange requesting that he make the necessary preparations to depose James II.  Together they represented a broad selection of the highest level of English society, sufficient to convince William of Orange that he would enjoy a suitably wide degree of support from across the country.

On the afternoon of the 30th June 1688 seven men sat down to put their names to a formal letter of invitation to William of Orange.

“…the people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the government in relation to their religion, liberties and properties (all which have been greatly invaded), and they are in such expectation of their prospects being daily worse, that Your Highness may be assured there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the kingdom who are desirous of a change.”

None of the seven were so foolish as to actually sign their names to the invitation itself, but rather identified themselves by a secret code, a two digit number (that follows their names below).  The letter was duly carried to the Netherlands by Arthur Herbert, the Earl of Torrington (discreetly referred to as Mr H within the letter) and had the desired effect as William of Orange ordered the necessary military and naval preparations for his invasion of Britain.

All seven of these gentlemen received their due rewards when William of Orange and his wife Mary became settled in as William and Mary.

These seven men were thereafter known as the Immortal Seven:

  • The Earl of Devonshire, William Cavendish (24)
    • Whig; House of Commons from 1661 to 1684
      • leader of the anti-court and anti-Catholic party
    • Age: 50
    • son of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire
      • inherited his father’s peerage as Earl of Devonshire
    • one of the wealthiest landowners in the country
    • After the revolution, Cavendish is a leading Whig, serving as William’s Lord Steward
  • The Lord Lumley, Richard Lumley (29)
    • Age: 40
    • The Lumleys were an ancient family from the north of England
    • son of John Lumley; grandson of Richard Lumley, 1st Viscount Lumley
    • played a prominent part in the suppression of the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth
      • personally responsible (according to John Evelyn) for Monmouth’s arrest
    • wife: Frances Jones, daughter of Sir Henry Jones of Oxford
    • Secured Newcastle for William in December 1688
    • appointed by William in rapid succession (1689-90) as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber, a member of the Privy Council, Colonel of the 1st Troop of Horse Guards, Viscount Lumley of Lumley Castle, Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland and Lord Lieutenant of Durham
      • Lumley is created Earl of Scarbrough on 15 April 1690
  • The Earl of Danby, Thomas Osborne (27)
    • Tory
    • Age: 58
    • Impeached and disgraced member of Parliament with nearly no supporters he could rely on
      • Spent nearly five years in the Tower of London following his impeachment
      • A number of pamphlets asserting his complicity in the Popish Plot, and even accusing him of the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, were published in 1679 and 1680
    • following his imprisonment and release, returned to the House of Lords as a leader in the Tory party
    • Driven to opposition by King James’ attacks on Protestantism
    • Thought that William would not claim the crown
      • Supported the succession of Mary
      • This met with little support
        • rejected both by William and by Mary herself
      • voted against the regency and joined with Halifax and the Commons in declaring the prince and princess joint sovereigns.
    • April 1689 created Marquess of Carmarthen
    • made lord-lieutenant of the three ridings of Yorkshire
    • greatly disliked by the Whigs
      • given the nickname the “White” marquess in allusion to his sickly appearance
    • February 1689: appointed to the post of Lord President of the Council
      • could not conceal his vexation and disappointment
      • increased by the appointment of Halifax as Lord Privy Seal (Treasurer Position that he had held before his disgrace).
        • The antagonism between the “black” and the “white” marquess revived in all its bitterness.
      • retired to the country and was seldom present at the council.
      • In June and July, motions were made in Parliament for his removal
    • In 1690: Halifax’s retires in 1690
    • Once again again acquired the post of Lord Treasurer
    • In 1690, appointed Mary’s chief advisor
  • The Earl of Shrewsbury, Charles Talbot (25)
    • Age: 30
    • crossed to Holland to join William
      • contributed towards defraying the expenses of the projected invasion
      • landed with him in England in November 1688 during the Glorious Revolution
    • appointed Secretary of State for the Southern Department
    • 1690: resigned from office when the Tories gained control of Parliament
    • There is evidence that he had made overtures to the Jacobites after his resignation
      • in correspondence with James at his court in exile at Saint Germains
      • some evidence that these relations were entered upon with William’s full connivance
      • Others claim Shrewsbury was unaware of the King’s knowledge and toleration which would explain the terrified letters he was in the habit of penning to him.
      • Regardless, although often presented with evidence against him, William affected to have no suspicion of Shrewsbury’s loyalty
  • The Bishop of London, Henry Compton (31)
    • Tory
    • Age: 58
    • important figure about London
    • a successful botanist
    • Published:
      • several theological works
      • the Life of Donna Olympia Maladichini (1667)
        • translated from Italian
        • governed the Church during the time of Pope Innocent X (1644 to 1655)
      • the Jesuits’ Intrigues (1669)
        • translated from French
      • A book on the Invisible World and the supernatural
        • published under a pseudonym
    • liberal in his views about Protestants; strong bias against Catholics
    • February 1685: Lost his seat in the council and position as Dean of the Chapel Royal on the accession of James II
    • suspended by James’s Court of High Commission in mid-1686.
      • for his firmness in refusing to suspend John Sharp
        • rector of St Giles’s-in-the-Fields
        • anti-papal preaching had rendered him obnoxious to the king
      • The suspension was lifted in September 1688, two days before the High Commission was abolished
    • embraced the cause of William and Mary,
      • performed the ceremony of their coronation
      • his old position was restored to him
      • Appointed to the Privy Council; serves as an advisor to the King and Queen of England, an office that he has had before
      • chosen as one of the commissioners for revising the liturgy

The Witch Hunter Adventures, The Legion Cycle and its predecessor, A Child’s Game, establish Henry Compton as a major figure in London and someone the cadre is likely to interact with.  This information is reprinted from those sources.

  •  though not a Witch Hunter, he is a friend of the Stalwarts of St. Christopher
    • the original text establishes his connection with Brotherhood of Ashen Cross, which doesn’t make a lot of sense given his prejudices and biases against Catholics.  The Stalwarts have roots in Anglicanism and makes much more sense.
  • concerned about a number of supernatural threats that seemed to be moving into the area, along with London’s new growth.
    • Particularly concerned that many of these new evils seem to be using London as a gateway to the New World.
  • Captain Edward Russell (35)
    • Whig
    • Age: 37
    • elected Whig Member of Parliament for Launceston
    • 1689: appointed Treasurer of the Navy in 1689.
    • May 1689: Promoted directly to full admiral
      • Russell took command in the Channel
      • HMS Duke
      • enforced a blockade of France
    • lived at Chippenham Park in Cambridgeshire
      • re-modelled the manor house and greatly extended Chippenham Park
      • dominates the parish to the south of the village
    • March 1690: elected Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in the general election in March 1690.
    • Spring 1690: conveyed Maria Anna of Neuburg, Charles II of Spain’s future consort, from Flushing to Coruna
    • June 1690: becomes a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty board led by the Earl of Pembroke
    • July 1690: promoted to Admiral of the Fleet following the debacle at the Battle of Beachy Head
      • Admiral the Earl of Torrinton fell out of favor
    • December 1690: became Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.
      • He was fully engaged in providing naval support for the Williamite War in Ireland until the war ended in October 1691
  • Henry Sidney (33)
    • Whig
    • Age: 49
    • Often dismissed as a mere flunkey and court favorite, nevertheless a expert Statesman,
      • an adroitness for manipulating men
    • 1679: entered Parliament
    • 1688: employed by nephew, the 2nd Earl of Sunderland, Robert Spencer to negotiate with William of Orange
    • one of the signatories to, and the actual author of, the cipher sent to the Prince calling for the Glorious Revolution.
    • created Baron Milton and Viscount Sidney by William

Horn & Crown

England: 1690

The specter of war looms over the island kingdom. William III now sits the throne, installed by a bloodless revolution of seven rebellious Protestant nobles. The King in Exile, James II, schemes in France and summons support to his banners. The kingdom is thick with traitors and conspiracies. But something far more insidious crawls beneath the surface — intrigues dark and dangerous that threaten to consume all of Europe in a supernatural battle beyond the comprehension of mankind.

Beneath the streets of London, the Court of Whispers issues a call to all signatories to the Accords in a valiant effort to stem the tide of this apocalyptic conflict. But villains and foes from hidden corners stand to thwart them at any cost.

Meanwhile, you have trailed an old adversary to the city on the Thames. He holds a piece of a puzzle that could yet shine a light in the dark days ahead…


Just a little teaser for the next chapter of our home game.