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[Non-d20] Witch Hunter: Invisible World - my impressions

Well, in the interest of putting something a little different out there, I figured I'd detail out a bit of my experience so far with Witch Hunter: Invisible World. Which, at this point is all of one session so far. :)

It's not really a "review", nor is it really an "Actual Play". It's kind of a blend of bits, as well as an open invitation for suggestions, questions, or other whatnot bits.

Game Background:
It's 1689, and there's some bad stuff that needs killing. Characters are "Witch Hunters", seeking out and destroying allies and servants of The Adversary.

Religion/Faith plays a serious role in the game. The world is mostly ours, with some differences here and there. Mainly to avoid upsetting modern-day sensibilities (which I'm glad they did).

It's intended to be a blend of Horror, and Swashbuckling action. Obviously you can tune this around some, taking it into more of an investigative direction if you want, but those are the two core forces pushing the game.

You can read more about it here:
Website: http://www.paradigmconcepts.com/witch_hunter/
Campaign/Support Website: http://darkprovidence.net/
Yahoo Group: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/whdp_campaign/

There seems to be a strong focus on the Organized Play aspect of the game. I'm not familiar with the company, but I guess the Arcanis stuff was popular enough. I get the impression that it's at least a partial motivation for them to be doing the Organized Play with Witch Hunter.

I've casually cruised the Yahoo group, and the Organized Play is what I saw dominating the conversation. It's not really a bad thing, as I'm sure there's rules questions/bits that are answered in there. But there's a _lot_ of messages in there, and I haven't been able to find the time to sort through all of it.

Dark Providence offers up all the scenarios that they're doing for the O.P. and I gotta say, "Bravo, and thank you." It's nice to be one of those people that's _never_ attended a single convention, but I can still be able to be "involved" with the game and benefit from this support material, instead of feeling like I'm relegated to some dirty "home player only" outsider's land.

The system:
I saw a number of people say that the system is "similar" to the old World of Darkness system. I've played WW games a grand total of 3 times. All 3 of 'em were using the new WoD system.

So I'm basically going into this thing "cold" so to speak. Out of the 3 expected (a 4th unexpectedly joined) players, 2 of them had played the OWoD before, and both of 'em like NWoD well enough. In fact, one of the guys is a WoD/D&D player only. He agreed to try out Witch Hunter because I said it was "basically like OWoD, but with some differences". We've just finished off an almost-year long game of Everstone, which I explained as "Basically d20, but with some differences that make it a bit simpler for me and more actiony and cool for the players." He seemed to enjoy himself, so I guess he's willing to give me another shot and see if this delivers too. :D

Basically, the system is a dice pool system using d10s. It's Stat+Skill, with a TN of 7. Meaning 7+ is a success. If you roll a 10, it counts as a success and re-rolls.

As near as I can tell, coming up with a 1 doesn't mean anything special, although I'm not sure about that. I'll come back to this in a minute.

The pitch:
Heh. To be honest, I didn't really "pitch" the game. I said, "Look, I'm kinda done with running a D&D fantasy-type game for a while. I'm willing to go ahead and give something else a try, but since it boils down to WW/D&D only, there's not much option. However.... I do have one thing I think sounds cool, and there's some pre-gen scenarios we can try out. There's also pre-gen characters, so if folks don't feel like taking the time to make a character, we can simply grab-n-go."

They mulled it over for a minute and said, "Well, what exactly are we talking about?"

"Ok, here's the basics then. The system is basically like OWoD, but with some differences. I mean, let's be honest, Stat+Skill and a d10 dice-pool isn't a hard thing to come up with.

Anyway, you all are Witch Hunters. It's the year 1689, and there's some monster ass that needs to be kicked. Witch Hunters are people that have stared into the face of darkness, and while it was staring back at them... they punched it.

It's a blend of Horror and Swashbuckling action. I'm going to push the Swashbuckling a bit harder, since I think Horror is fine and all, but part of horror is being a chump and while you can certainly get your ass kicked in Witch Hunter, you're not exactly chumps here.

There's a strong element of religion and faith, but I don't expect people to really be all into it. It's the character's faith that allows them to do what they do. So yeah, since it's 1689 there's a strong focus on Christianity within the game, but they've also got Native Americans in there, and it's perfectly fine for them to go with the whole 'Animus' or 'All-father' thing. So if you want to be a Buddhist Monk or something, we should be able to work something out.

There's not a whole lot of armor stuff going on in the game. Weapons are mainly swords, blunderbusses and flintlock weapons. You'll kick ass, but it's going to be up close and personal.

Basically think of that new Musketeer movie, and kinda blend it with Brotherhood of the Wolf. Stir in a bit of 13th Warrior, and you're pretty much there. I guess you could include Van Helsing, but more for the overall actiony stuff. You're not going to be doing James-Bond-hunts-monsters. You're going to be all down-n-dirty and crusing the New World."

I dunno, maybe that is a "pitch" but I tend to think of a "pitch" as an active, "OMG!!! This is cool, you gotta try it!!1!1" Whereas I was going more for the "This is the game, and what you can expect to get out of it if I run it."

In an effort to avoid the "wall of text" syndrome and because I have to get back to work, I'll post more about character creation and other stuff later tonight.
 
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jdrakeh

Adventurer
I typically use vs. Monsters for this kind of thing but have had some interest in Witch Hunter for setting fluff. How much of the main book is setting, as opposed to system?
 

Well, I'm no fancy reviewer like Crothian :)D) but here's my take:

The book is about... say 265 pages after dumping the ToC, Character Sheet in the back, etc.

As I make it out, there's a solid 77 pages of "pure" fluff.

They've done a pretty good job of mixing the fluff in with the mechanics, so it can be sorta hard to separate out the pure mechanical bits.

For example, Chapter 5 is "The Three Circles of Sorcery." It's speaking pretty directly to how magic works in the world as well as what it looks like, and the kinds of effects it has. So it's really a blend of mechanics and fluff. It's worth 16 pages.

Chapter 8 is Grimoires and Relics. It's another fluff/mechanic combo, covering forbidden texts and other knick-knacks kicking around. It's worth 18 pages.

So depending on you you count it, you might wind up with an additional 34 pages of at least somewhat useful fluff.

Chapter 9 is advice to the GM for trying to pace things, set the mood, and so forth. That's 7 pages.

They've really done their best to make the game "completely playable" with just the one book, whether you're a player or trying to run the game. As the guy trying to run it, I think they've done a pretty good job, but it does mean that they've got the mechanical bits kicking around: how to build mooks, a bestiary section in the back, and so forth.

They've only recently released a second book, which is all about foes the Witch Hunters face, including at least one "society". So there's going to be at least some fluff with that, although I think that books is much more optional. I won't know until sometime next year though when I can actually get it.

Does that help any?
 
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Character Creation:
I think it took all told... somewhere around an hour. That wasn't an hour of hard flipping around and all that either. My wife went to NY for the day and didn't think she'd have time to make a character.

I didn't get around to making it for her while she was gone, but she'd given me the basic overall idea she was after. I read through the character creation bits and whatnots, and when she got back I basically asked her to what she thought about this option or that, and went from there. Kind of a collaborative exercise.

The basic creation is pretty darn simple. You pick a background, which gives you a few base skills, and then you get a few points in each category for additional Elective skills. On a quick skim through there's no real difference between your base (Background) skills and your additional ones (Electives).

Now, it turns out there actually _is_ a difference between them. The fact that there's a Talent that you can take which will allow you to change an Elective skill so it's considered a Background one is a big giveaway. It's only when you hit the Survival Points (page 118 after the whole Insanity portion) that you find out that Electives cost twice as much to improve as Background skills.

So this brings me to my first 2 vague annoyances:

1. There's no index.
A well done index can make life _so_ much easier. There is an "unofficial index" that can be downloaded from the Yahoo group.

It's nice that you can get _something_ but you'd really hope/think that if they're going to have support material, it's going to be where anyone can actually download it.

Sidenote: It doesn't annoy me, but it kinda saddens me a bit to look at how nice and slick the Living Arcanis home page is, and then to go to the Witch Hunter one. There's nothing _wrong_ with the Witch Hunter page. It seems like a fairly standard setup. It was only after I went to the Living Arcanis page which was all slick with pop-out menus and so forth that I felt a bit sad. Nothing I'm upset over, but the presentation is just one of those little detail things.

Like an Index.

2. The character sheet isn't form-fillable.
I'll note right up front that (once again) if you join the Yahoo Group, you'll be able to download a sheet that takes care of this complaint.

It might not sound like much, and I'm sure there's plenty of folks that don't care. But this is a game where all the support stuff is online, and they don't even have a form-fillable character sheet. At least, not without joining the Yahoo Group. Which not everyone is really going to be interested in.

Anyway, I get the character made and pass it off to my wife.

The guys come over to our place, and we all sit down to watch the movie that I had my wife get from NetFlix to help put us in the mood. Everyone knew ahead of time what it was, and they all agreed to it.

Van Helsing.

Yeah yeah, it wasn't a great movie. Maybe next time I try this, I'll go with The Musketeer instead. I wanted people more thinking "monster hunting" and "supernatural", so it's the choice I made. Think of it as the price folks have to pay occasionally for my being such an easy-going GM. :D

So, after the movie we all sat down to play. 3 of the four people had actually made their characters, and one hadn't. So, this is where I'll mention (sort of again) my first cool thing.

1. They've got a bunch of pre-gen characters you can download, in addition to making available all the game scenarios for us people at home.
While the game might seem to be strongly geared towards Organized Play, I gotta say that in this particular case, I actually feel like I'm benefiting from it. Paradigm Concepts has all the adventures up so I can download 'em, and they apparently don't plan on taking them down either. Sweeeeet. I've never been to a convention in my life, and I've got no idea if I ever actually will go to one.

But I've bought the book and I'm running a game, and folks might even groove on it enough to buy a book themselves. It's nice to know that I can "participate" in the same experience as those folks that are going to conventions, and I'm not being forced to shell out additional money.

And pre-gen characters are included to boot. That's great. More games could really do with including at least a couple of pre-gens. It's an easier sell to get someone to try out a game if they don't have to invest an hour (or more depending on the game) creating a character.

Or if you have another person tag along unexpectedly.

Ironically, the tag-along actually _made_ his character. It's one of the other regulars that didn't make his character.

I might as well mention now the 2nd cool thing. I came across this in the course of pre-reading the adventure...

2. Witch Hunter does mooks. Check it out, from page 209:
[sblock=Minions (Mindless and otherwise)]You spend hours and hours designing opponents for your players with a care to rival Michelangelo’s attention while painting the Sistine Chapel. You’ve made sure that the members of the Cult of the Flayed Apostate each have a name, a back story, individualized skills, combat abilities and equipment. These are adherents worthy of kneeling before the bleeding effgy of the Apostate and stand beside the High Priest and his trio of acolytes against the Witch Hunters.

Your players will marvel at the depth of detail and life that you infused into each and every one of their opponents.

<Insert sound of needle scratching across a record>

What were you thinking? Your players may be roleplayers worthy of an Oscar each and every session, but when it comes to combat, they have only one objective: kill and/or stop the big, bad guy before he kills and/or stops them.

When they open the bronzed double doors leading to the inner chamber where the high priest is leading his minions in a doubtless bloody ritual that will mean death and destruction for all, your players are not going to stop and ask why this young mother of four is participating in such a vile rite. The players aren’t even going to stop to wipe their blades in their head long rush to confront the villain.

So if they’re not going to be more than a speed bump for the players, why spend more time designing an opponent than the players are going to take to fight it?
The answer is you shouldn’t, but you still need to have some sort of framework for these minor antagonists.[/sblock]
You know what? If you're going to claim your game is about action/swashbuckling, etc. you bloody well should make sure you include something so that it _feels_ like the characters are appropriately larger than life. Witch Hunters does and I applaud 'em for it.

Again, to break up the "wall of text", I'm going to put the actual session experience in the next post.
 

The game session:
I went ahead and chose Storm Tide for the first adventure. We were getting a bit of a late start since we watched the movie first, but I thought we'd probably still be able to get through it.

We didn't actually, but folks didn't seem to mind. I'd just like to say that despite the problems I list, the game actually went great.

Hmmm... what can I say? I'm completely new to the system, I tried to read up on stuff, but there's only so many pages you can absorb. And I've never run a convention game before, so that's part of it too...

We _almost_ managed to finish the first scene. We finished the fight, but it was just too late and we didn't have time to handle the minor "aftermath" stuff which moves the group onto the 2nd Scene.

For those that want to follow along, the adventures are located here:
http://darkprovidence.net/Adventures.html

Soooooo.... how'd it all go?

Well, it started out pretty good. I had folks go through and give a basic overview of their characters, and basically I put 'em all together on the docks. The adventure isn't exactly clear at this point, but it turns out that the characters are all supposed to "meet" a bit later while waiting to interview for the job.

I dislike that sort of thing personally. Having everyone start off kind of knowing each other isn't any more artificial than meeting in a tavern.

Or His Lordship's waiting area.

Anyway, I had four players, so I literally had each one pick a number between 1 and 4, no duplicates allowed. Then I simply gave them the vision/omen that was offered up as a possible suggestion. The all liked the different omens they got.

Ah yes, the characters. None of 'em are into doing magic or a fighting tradition, which makes my life easier. Although one character is a member of the Apostles of the New Dawn order, so I'm going to at least have to read the chapter a time or two, just in case he decides to try something. Here's the roster:

[sblock=Mary Fourkiller] This is my wife's character.

She's a member of the Stalwarts of St. Christopher. Basically, an Order that was inspired by the Knights Templar, only they operated on English soil.

Her Order has the special benefit of allowing her to spend her Defense to protect another person, and if damage still gets through it goes to her, instead of the person she's protecting.

Her character is Native American, and is kind of a blend of Animus and Quaker in terms of religious beliefs.[/sblock]

[sblock=Kristoff]Played by Adam. Adam is actually the _only_ person at the table that remembers playing OWoD rules. Granted, Witch Hunter isn't actually _using_ the OWoD system, but there's similarities and I expected that the other two people (who are regular players) would be able to help me out if I stumbled a bit.

They couldn't, but Adam (whom I hadn't expected to play) was nice enough to let me know how OWoD did it, and wasn't a rule lawyer either.

Anyway, Kristoff apparently is big. Adam initially said, "6'2 or so, and about 230 lbs." I pointed out that at 5'11 and 200 lbs, I'd be considered pretty decent sized among most folks back then, and he sheepishly admitted he hadn't been thinking in quite the same time period.

Kristoff belongs to the Order of the Stalkers of the Unseen Hunt. Basically, most Witch Hunters are out there trying to defend folks. They'll go out looking for scum, and put 'em down.

Thing is, the servants of the Adversary have to actually _come_ from some place. Alot of times that place is a Hellpoint. Stalkers are the crazy Witch Hunters that don't just defend people, or look for minions of evil that are out and about stirring stuff up.

No, these crazy bastards go off and hunt them on _their_ turf.

Their benefit is they get to pick an extra couple of Talents. Talents are those "extra special" things that give a Witch Hunter their edge. Kinda like super-buff feats out of d20.[/sblock]

[sblock=Yost] Sounds like "Yo" and then add "st" to it. The character is Dutch, and an ex-slaver. A member of the Apostles of the New Dawn, his Order's benefit is that he can actually attempt to do magic without actually _knowing_ the spell. He can only attempt a particular prayer or Hermetic rite once each Adventure (not session) though.[/sblock]

[sblock=Aginor] This character was a pre-gen. The Hunter. Also a member of the Stalkers of the Unseen Hunt.[/sblock]

So, everyone gets together we have the meeting of the employer, then the hapless victim tells his story, and then combat ensues.

And we came to a screeching halt.

Problem: We all seemed to struggle with remembering to roll our Defense pools, I found out later that I was running Parry wrong, and it really _shouldn't_ have been awesome like it was.

Solution:At the top of every round, I think I'm going to make the generic declaration "Roll your Defense", and everyone can just get it out of the way.

Problem:It turns out Grappling isn't explained in the combat section with the rest of the combat rules, but you have to flip back to the Skills section (2 chapters before) in order to figure out how it works.

Solution:Nothing really. Making some sort of combat cheat-sheet might help. I'll have to think about it a bit.

Problem:10's "explode" (count as a success and reroll), but it wasn't clear what happened if you got _no_ successes and rolled 1s. Or if you got Successes and _also_ rolled 1s.

Solution:I decided that a failure was just a failure. If there was a failure and 1s were _also_ rolled (a "botch") then a check requiring 2 success (2d) would be required, depending on what the attempted action was, to avoid having it go wrong.

We had 2 botches during the combat. The first was Kristoff, who went to draw his sword and stab poor Penney. He botched the stab (the draw is a free action), so I described him drawing his sword, and since he'd just rabbit-punched Penney's blood spewing head the last round, when he drew the blade, it just kept going and smacked into the wall across the room. He didn't get any success on his check

Adam shrugged and Kristoff continued punching Penney in the head.

The second botch was when Yost went in for another smack with his bible alongside Penney's head and missed. Me managed to get 1 success, so Yost slipped in the blood and went to one knee but that was it.

I ruled that 1s rolled when you _also_ had successes didn't mean anything. Apparently the WoD system had 1s negate successes, but that just seems to be unnecessary dice fiddling to me. Count your successes and move on. If there's none, just make sure you don't have any 1s.

I like simple solutions.

Problem:The critter's stats.

Initially, I looked over the adventure, felt comfortable with things, and away we went. The first round, Mary stuffs her hunting knife into Penney's gut and does a huge chunk of damage. In fact, the first couple of rounds, it was getting _hammered_.

Then I was looking back over the stats, and realized I was missing stuff like his @#$%@#$% armor. Completely stupid mistake on my part. But in trying to look up the armor to make sure I had it right (and understood the other powers) I ran into an oddity.

Threat powers aren't laid out like the character Talents they're the equivalent of.

See, the character Talents are alphabetical. And they've got a handy cheat-chart for you, which gives you a shorthand summary.

Threat powers on the other hand, don't have a cheat chart, and are broken up by the type of power they are. So the creature that takes over Penney actually has powers scattered around a bit and that requires more flipping.

Solution:Well, first of all I need to actually be more familiar with my #$%#$ critters. After that, I suppose a cheat-chart is probably in order.

Problem:4 on 1.
How do you resolve 4 people beating the stuffing out of 1 poor slob of a monster, when you've got points being assigned from a defense pool?

Do you actually have a pool vs each attacker?

Can you split your pool between multiple attackers?

Solution:I decided that group tactics _work_. It's why Witch Hunters are willing to move in a pack, when they'd otherwise frequently want nothing to do with each other.

So, a single Defense pool is rolled, and the out-numbered person can assign the Defense however they'd like, but chances are it's not going to go very far.

Hopefully you've got @#$%#@$ armor and remember to use it. I eventually did.

Problem:Weapons come with a DM (Damage Mod) is that dice, or a flat value added? If someone spends enough Defense to negate your Attack, will you still get the DM anyway? Or does the Defender have to spend Defense to negate that as well?

Solution:I went simple, and after having checked around it looks like my approach was right.

Weapons do a flat amount that add to your success. So if you have 2 successes, and your weapon has a DM of 3, it means a total of 5 damage is done.

A defender only has to negate the actual Attack successes, so in the example above, the defender would only have to spend 2 defense, not 5.

Problem:Yost's player declares: "I'm stepping forward, and saying 'The power of Christ compels you!!' and smacking him with my bible."

I'm pretty sure I didn't see any damage listed for "bible" or "holy damage" when I went ambling through the book.

Solution:First: Sweeeeeeet. The player bought into the premise and wasn't afraid to use his religion as a weapon against a servant of the Adversary.

Next: Crap. I've got no idea what to do with this. I don't want to interrupt the flow of the game since we've actually started to feel comfortable with what we're doing.

I look at the sheet. He's Vulnerable to Cold Iron, and a Weakness to sacramental wine.

What was the difference between a Vulnerability and a Weakness again? Does the hunting knife that Mary is currently cheerfully attempting to maul my poor critter with count as Cold Iron? Who the hell just happens to have sacramental wine on them when they go to interview for a job at the Governor's Mansion in Jamaica in the year 1689?!?!?

All of this ran through my head in the space of about 2 seconds.

So I do what I always do: I made :#$% up. I paid for the damn game, it's mine to do with as I please, and I will houserule the !@#$!@#$ out of any game that gets in my way.

So I told Yost, "That's awesome!! Are you just presenting the Bible and kind of shoving it up against him, or are you hauling back and doing the bitch-slap beat down with it?"

Yost's player thought for a second and said, "Beat down."

"Sweeeeet. Ok, give me a Hand to Hand check, and go ahead and count the Bible as doing 1 DM like a dagger does."

The other players were cheering him on for his excellent thinking, and wondering what the effect was going to be.

So was I.

He made his rolls and since poor Penney had blown all his defense against Mary (who was cheerfully stabbing him repeatedly in the gut) he didn't have any Defense left.

Each round, I'd been describing how the blood just poured out from Penney. It was everywhere. Far more than any person could possibly have in their body. Each time Kristoff rabbit-punched Penney in the head, there was a kind of "splorch" sound and blood sprayed across the people behind Penney.

"Ok, Yost hauls off and brings his Bible around and totally hammers Penney right in the middle of his forehead with the bible. Up until now, Penney has just kind of burbled at you, but as the Bible makes contact with him, he actually screams and it's a pretty loud and clear one. There's a sizzling sound, and the smell of cooking flesh fills the room as smoke erupts from under the Bible.

You all can clearly see the outline of the book in Penney's forehead, and square in the middle of it is a crispy looking cross. Blood continues to gush from Penney everywhere, except where the Bible touched. That area looks and smells burned and is crusted over."

After that, Mary whipped out her cross and proceeded to start trying to smack him around with the cross.

I handled the damage from both cross and bible like this:
It completely bypassed the armor. I also took away 2 dice when they started smacking him around with holy objects.

Pretty simple really. But I made sure I played up the "special effects". Mary hammered him square in the middle of the chest with it, and fire erupted as the cross burned its way into his chest.

"The cleansing flames of the Lord erupt and punish the abomination, and though you all can feel the heat, none of your are burned for you are servants of the Lord."

When Aginor knifed Penney in the back, flames licked up out of the wound he'd inflicted.

At the end of it, the players were a bit stunned at how tough the critter was, but seemed quite pleased with how the game had gone overall. There was some jokes about, "If that's the first one and it's the intro combat, Sir Henry is on his own. No way I'm sticking around for anything worse!!" But it seemed pretty clear that nobody meant it. They were just blowing of some steam from the final end of Penney, as well as from the rather long combat.

Yeah, I mean _long_. I'm pretty sure it was over an hour.

Like I said before, a bunch of that is my fault. I'm pretty sure it'll move quicker now that I've actually had a taste of combat and how things are supposed to flow. But having to do things like constantly re-roll your defense pool, rummaging around to make sure which dice are successes and which ones aren't... it adds to it.

The player of Kristoff isn't going to be able to make it next week, but he seemed to enjoy himself so the entire group agreed to delay having the next session so he could continue playing. So I'll have a couple of weeks to get my act together and see if I can work up some cheat-sheets or something to make my life a bit easier.

Now that I've run a session, I can go back through the rules and see little things like Parry is apparently supposed to take away from the character's _next_ action. I didn't run it that way, and Mary was an animal in combat with her Defense pool and Parrying.

Oh, and yes my rolling continued to be weak. I remember the first time I played with these guys (D&D game 2 years back) I said, "It's been a few years since I tossed some dice, so if I'm a bit rusty, please understand."

I then rolled three 1s back to back, followed by a 2, a 3 and then two more 1s. *sigh*

I'm better these days, and I've managed to pull off matching 20s, much to the player's disgust. But I seem to have a consistent low-level "suck" when it comes to my rolls.

It doesn't actually bother me though, so unlike the DM of the Eberron game (who yelled and banged his dice and constantly complained about his rolls) I cheer on the players when they beat me. Of course, I'm equally cheerful when I manage to score a nasty hit against them, so I guess it all balances out.

First session of Witch Hunter? Win. We'll see how things go in two weeks.
 

I cross-posted this over at rpg.net and have a couple of bits..

I made an error and said that Mary was an "Animus" type thing. It's been pointed out that it's "animist", as "animus" means "resentment". Totally right. I meant "animist", I was thinking "animis", and my fingers (fickle betrayers that they are" typed "animus".

The guy that wrote the adventure I'm using (Storm Tide) popped in there. Apparently, the way I handled armor was incorrect. Here's the relevant post and my response:

Scurvy_Platypus said:
bschoner said:
7. It sounds like you may be running Armor a little differently than the rules intend. Armor doesn't subtract from damage, it adds to the wearer's Defense Pool every round. So adding a point of Armor is exactly equivalent to giving them a free Defense success.

Ah yes...armor.

This was another one of those, "Hmmmmmmm." things for me. Re-reading the armor section as well as what you've just said, I can see how I probably am doing it differently than it intends. For the folks that don't have the book in front of them, I'll explain...

Chapter 3 covers weapons, equipment, and armor. Chapter 4 talks about combat, and refers you back to Chapter 3 on the subject of armor. Now, Chapter 4 (combat) says, "armor adds to your Defense points" with Chapter 3 saying it slightly differently, "the armor value is the number of points added to Defense at the start of each round. This value is not rolled and is fixed."

Ok, keep that in mind for half a sec, and I'll go back to weapons and attacking again.

Folks roll their Defense pool apparently right at the beginning of the round, which I also missed and was going to "houserule" as doing.

An attack is made. Points from Defense are assigned, and anything left over from the attack is dealt as damage. A weapon has a DM which is added to this number, to give the total amount of damage inflicted.

So for example, Mary tries to stab Penney in the gut. She rolls 3 successes. Penny has 2 successes (yeah this actually happened) and spends them to try and block the attack. 1 point is left over from Mary's attack, and it's a "dagger" which has a DM of 1. So she inflicts 2 points of damage.

This is all pretty clear.

Now I start to look at armor, and things get a bit messy for me.

Armor in general? It's piddly stuff. The best you're getting in the book is a metal breastplate at 3. It _also_ comes with an Agility penalty, which removes dice from your Agility stat; which of course means you get to refactor all your scores by the way.

The penalty for the Metal Breastplate is 2 Agility.

Now, I realize the game is about swashbuckling and you certainly don't see The Three Musketeers jumping on chandeliers and swinging from ropes while wearing platemail.

They're also not facing demons and other critters like what possesses Penney and rolls 8d for an attack with +4 DM.

So when we started combat, the first question that came up was, "Ok, I see Armor has a value, and so do weapons. Do those add to the dice pool or are they a flat modifier?" I went with "flat modifier" especially given how nasty ganging up seems to potentially be in the game.

Here's what I figured:

1. Consistency of resolution is nice. The game seems to strive for it. It didn't make sense to me that a weapon would be a flat modifier added at the end, but armor gets mixed in with the Defense pool.

2. Ganging up in the game? Really nasty. Since you're only rolling the pool _once_ at the start of the round, the more people you've got, the more likely the Defense is going to be depleted entirely when it rolls around to the next person.

3. Having a maximum of 3 points added to your Defense pool, and losing dice from your Agility (which affects the Agility fighter as well as all your skills) is a lousy trade. You have to always suffer the effects of armor, since it's not like most people are going to have a chance to put armor on before going into combat. So you're perpetually at a penalty.

4. I can tune this behind the screen. Setting it up this way gives the players a better chance to have characters that get messed up but survive. They know that even if they blow all their defense, their Buck Skin (2 armor, no Agility penalty) might be enough to keep them alive.

Now, having said all that.... it explains why the combat worked out the way it did. It took a lot longer than I would have expected. The way I ran armor? That's the culprit.

When we first started the combat, I forgot about the Armor on the critter entirely. They jacked it up pretty seriously before I realized my error.

So I just ran the critter the way that everyone else was doing armor.

I'm going to have to talk to the group when we get back together and see what they think. We'll probably try armor the proper way and see how that goes.

Thanks for mentioning this. It's exactly this sort of thing that I was hoping for when I started this thread. Help me figure out what things are happening in the game, and gives folks a quick peek at the game to see if it's of interest to them as well.

Also, he mentioned a bit more about the upcoming materials:

bschoner said:
6. Shameless plug: The Origins releases include the Grand Tome of Adversaries (lots of new critters, evil organizations, new powers for monsters, and an alphabetical list of powers ), the Witch Hunter's Journal (a souped-up and very pretty character sheet and journal in booklet form), and A Child's Game (a very creepy adventure with a lot of source material on London and New Amsterdam built in). Details at http://paradigmconcepts.com. We also have a book of three adventures and a 'player goodies' sourcebook, The Blessed and the Damned, coming later this year. The latter is where Seraph's section on other Hermetic traditions will probably appear.
 

And here's a repost of an idea I had regarding the skill system.

Scurvy_Platypus said:
For example, let's take the Acrobatics skill (page 57).

Now, going by the description, it's basically going to help you out for doing stunts of one sort or another. A staple of swashbuckly things. It's also going to help you out in terms of being able to move further.

At its core, it's actually kind of boring. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about having folks swing on chandeliers, slide down banisters and then leap into a group of mooks... oh yeah, that's some good stuff. But as it stands the _skill_ isn't exactly bringing that to the table. At least, if your group (or GM) is the type that's going to tend to go more by "the book".

Now, I on the other hand, see something like that as an opportunity for players. They can turn around and do stuff that looks cool and get rewarded for it.

And as the GM, I can actively encourage it. One way would be looking back at that Defense pool.

If I've got a player that's taken the time to invest points into Acrobatics, I can let 'em slide on some little things. I'll come back to this idea in a second.

It might be poor form to quote/reply to yourself, but I said I'd come back to this and this is how I'm doing it.:)

I'm going to be starting up play with my wife in a game called "The Secret of Zir'An". Don't worry if you haven't heard of it, it flies under most people's radar since they had a printing problem.

It's a shame because the setting is pretty groovy, and while there appears to be some unnecessary fiddly stuff in the system, it's got some pretty good potential too.

One of the interesting things is how they've specifically handled skill mechanics.

Basically, there's 2 components to a skill, one being the Finesse level and the other being Points of Practice.

If a character is in an Unstressed Situation, and their Finesse Level is greater than the Difficulty Level, the character automatically succeeds. The character narrates how they succeed and you just move on.

If a character makes a skill test and not only succeeds at it, but actually does well enough that they could have beat a higher difficulty? That's a Superior Success, and the player gets to narrate an additional action or benefit related to the task.

A Stressed Situation is generally:
Combat
Stat damage (due to poisons or whatever)
Damage past a certain point
Extraordinary environmental conditions (blizzard, being chased, outnumbered, etc)
Hostile environment (natural disaster, damaged car, etc)

That's pretty groovy stuff, and is usually the sort of thing that the small press/indy games are playing around with. It wasn't something I expected to see in a "mainstream" game that came out under the publishing imprint of White Wolf.

It's an idea that's perfectly workable in Witch Hunter too.

Being a simple fellow, I'd probably just start off with the Difficulty chart on page 102.

If a character has the number of dice equal to the Difficulty, in an Unstressed Situation, then they're going to succeed.

Is that mathematically accurate? I'm pretty darn certain it isn't.

Now the first question about this is going to be, how do you figure the number of dice? Is it "stat+skill" or just "skill" alone?

I'd say that's up to the decision of the GM. If you're looking to try and give the feel of extremely competent and scary people (Action with a bit of horror elements), go with Stat+Skill. If you're wanting to keep the feel more like the core book (Horror with swashbuckling or equal parts of each), Skill alone is probably where you should look.

You can homebrew a couple of Talents if you want, to cover some sort of adrenaline-junky type character, or whatnot. Or tie it in with an Order. For example, a Stalker of the Unseen Hunt might not consider Hostile Environment to be a Stressful Situation. So they can function at a greater degree of competence than other Witch Hunters in the same situation.

I'd also add doing Magic to the list of Stressful Situations for most folks. A better fit for the feel of the core book, would probably be to use the True Faith score of the caster instead of the skill level, when looking at the Difficulty of the rite.

If you wanted to push Witch Hunter in a different direction, you could always add a Talent (or maybe a Greater Talent) that allows them to treat casting as an Unstressed situation. Or it could be a benefit reserved for the "Sanctioned" casters. They've survived the horrors that the church visits upon them to be sure they're free from the taint of evil, and therefore they're no longer subject to the same sort of stresses that ordinary folks experience when messing with the Invisible World.

I've been mulling this over a bit and I'm seriously thinking about introducing this way of handling skills as my first "serious" rule tweak to the game. Of course, it's a pretty minor rule tweak on the whole, but the potential implications are pretty groovy. I need to think about it a bit more to make sure I'm not missing anything.

While the bit I've quoted above mentions Acrobatics, really it applies to just about any skill.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
It is a solid game. It also does other games like Soloman Kane better then those games do. :D

You mean better than Savage Worlds Solomon Kane? If so, then that's a bold statement. I just got the SW:SK book and it's one of the most amazing RPG books I've laid eyes on in a LONG time. It's a thing of beauty and it oozes with fluffy, flavorful goodness, even the mechanics themselves.
 

You mean better than Savage Worlds Solomon Kane? If so, then that's a bold statement. I just got the SW:SK book and it's one of the most amazing RPG books I've laid eyes on in a LONG time. It's a thing of beauty and it oozes with fluffy, flavorful goodness, even the mechanics themselves.

Ah, now see... instead of folks getting into a system war, I think it'd be cool if a couple of "counter points" were offered up. Sure, I plan on talking about Witch Hunter in this thread...that's what I made it for. :D

But it's not like there's actually a lot of games that are covering this particular territory. I'm sure there's some that can be hacked to do it, but built from the outset for it? I only know of these two games. So how useful would Solomon Kane be as a sourcebook for example?

I realize it's a Savage World book, so most of the mechanics are already available if you happen to be into Savage Worlds in the first place. But is there anything groovy that Solomon Kane brings to the table? Anything that's hijackable?

I don't intend to threadjack my own thread with a Solomon Kane vs. Witch Hunter thing... someone like Crothian who's got both books (played both games?) can make their own thread if they feel the need to do that. But I don't mind hearing why Solomon Kane would be considered "superior", unless it's a case of "Because Savage Worlds rocks!!"; I don't have anything against Savage Worlds, I'm just interested in trying to put Witch Hunter through its paces.
 

Paradigm

First Post
I am still reading and absorbing your feedback on Witch Hunter, but I want to just point a few things out.

The Yahoo Group you are on isthe Witch Hunter Dark Providence campaign group. As a result, it is going to be campaign dominated.

The Living Arcanis website was set up by a software developer. The Dark Providence campaign website was set up by a computer-savy gamer. As a result, the Living Arcanis site is just so much nicer.

The lack of an index is entirely our bad, we were behind schedule and had to make Origins with the book, you may find that this is likely a common occurance.. I am also going to put the form-fillable character sheet and the index from the campaign site up on the Paradigm Concepts website.
 

Crothian

First Post
I didn't play this at Origins, but those who did really seemed to enjoy it. Origins this year there was no one thing people were talking about so I heard from a lot of people about a lot of different things. Witch Hunter was mostly all positive. People really had fun with the games and there seemed to be a little compitition going on with what groups could accomplish the goals of the adventrue the best. It was fun hearing people talk about that.
 

I am still reading and absorbing your feedback on Witch Hunter, but I want to just point a few things out.

The Yahoo Group you are on isthe Witch Hunter Dark Providence campaign group. As a result, it is going to be campaign dominated.

Thanks for taking the time to post here. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm just criticizing things. I'm honestly not trying to do that. I figured I'd post how things came across to me, and maybe point out stuff that other folks might not know of.

Or that I could be corrected about, and that way anyone else coming along would be able to benefit as well. :)

The Living Arcanis website was set up by a software developer. The Dark Providence campaign website was set up by a computer-savy gamer. As a result, the Living Arcanis site is just so much nicer.

Yeah, Brian mentioned that. Like I said, the Witch Hunter site seemed fine to me, it was only when I happened to go over to the Arcanis site that I was like, "Wow. That's nice. That's reeeealy nice." I've got no real experience with Paradigm so my impressions could be pretty far off base from what other folks have.

The lack of an index is entirely our bad, we were behind schedule and had to make Origins with the book, you may find that this is likely a common occurance.. I am also going to put the form-fillable character sheet and the index from the campaign site up on the Paradigm Concepts website.

I completely understand how a deadline can _really_ mess with a project. My own life at work is... interesting... right now, since we've got several projects all struggling to meet their deadlines.

I do appreciate that you're putting the sheet and index up at the regular website. Little stuff like that does help out for those folks that may not have the patience to parse through things, or that tend to be less easy-going in their expectations of products.

Oh, and since I've got your eyes for a sec? More Orders please. Or some guidelines for creating 'em. It'd be nice to be able to import some other cultures into Witch Hunter. I seem to recall you've got plans for this sort of thing at some point, but I just thought I'd put out a friendly request.

I didn't play this at Origins, but those who did really seemed to enjoy it. Origins this year there was no one thing people were talking about so I heard from a lot of people about a lot of different things. Witch Hunter was mostly all positive. People really had fun with the games and there seemed to be a little compitition going on with what groups could accomplish the goals of the adventrue the best. It was fun hearing people talk about that.

That's cool.

I'm looking forward to the next game. I think I've got a better handle on stuff then I did the first time around, and even with my ham-fisted running of the adventure, people had fun.

Sidenote: Witch Hunter has an appeal that may not be immediately obvious to some people... dice. You can get up to 10 dice in your hand to toss.

Now, some people _really_ dislike this. Others are neutral.

And then there's folks who's faces light up with glee as they start counting their dice and then sling 'em all onto the table.

My wife is one of 'em. "Ooooo....I'm not sure I've got enough dice.... can I borrow some of yours?" She had a big ol' grin on her face as her little hands scooped more dice into the pile before she dumped 'em all on the table and watched 'em bounce about.

I admit it, I'm not entirely immune to it myself. It's hard not to grin as I count out the dice I'm going to toss. I roll out in the open, so everyone's attention was right on that dice pile. I'll even admit to a bit of cruelty... when I first rolled Penney's attack? It's 8d. I counted up 6d with a big smile on my face, picked my hands up as if to shake and went, "Whoops. Almost forgot..." and then counted, "7, and 8. _Now_ I've got 'em all." There was an audible groan at the table which immediately turned to chuckles and ribbing as I proceed to suck.

Next game is supposed to be Sunday. I'm thinking/hoping that we'll finish off Storm Tide, and then move on to Swans.

It'll be interesting to see how the group deals with the rest of the adventure, given how effective bible-thumping was. :)
 

Toben the Many

First Post
I'd second some of the folks' recommendation for the Adversaries book, because the back of the book contains all of the powers and talents for the bad guys in alphabetical order and are easier to look up. I think that alone would help your games out a lot. Plus, many of the powers have been updated in the new book.

Plus, the artwork is completely sweet! :)
 


I'd second some of the folks' recommendation for the Adversaries book, because the back of the book contains all of the powers and talents for the bad guys in alphabetical order and are easier to look up. I think that alone would help your games out a lot. Plus, many of the powers have been updated in the new book.

Plus, the artwork is completely sweet! :)

I wish I could, but for various reasons I can't get the book until Jan/Feb of 09. So for now I'm just going to have to rely on either my own homebrewed bits or the corebook.
 
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BluSponge

First Post
Ah, now see... instead of folks getting into a system war, I think it'd be cool if a couple of "counter points" were offered up. Sure, I plan on talking about Witch Hunter in this thread...that's what I made it for. :D

snip

I don't intend to threadjack my own thread with a Solomon Kane vs. Witch Hunter thing... someone like Crothian who's got both books (played both games?) can make their own thread if they feel the need to do that. But I don't mind hearing why Solomon Kane would be considered "superior", unless it's a case of "Because Savage Worlds rocks!!"; I don't have anything against Savage Worlds, I'm just interested in trying to put Witch Hunter through its paces.

As someone who has both and has played both, I'm going to tell you flat out that both have big differences that add up to a subtle feel to the game. Personally, I prefer Solomon Kane because I don't like the "alternate history" of Witch Hunter. I prefer the horror creepy and on the edges of the map, beyond the scope of the average pion. Witch Hunter tweaks the world to make allowances the level of magic involved. The Aztecs are kicking Spanish butt in the New World, for instance.

I was also put off a bit by the omnipresence of religion in WH. ALL of the heroes have ties to religious institutions and "holy orders." In SK, heroes can come from all walks of life, and be as heretical and agnostic as the player prefers. (I am sure there are ways to do this in WH, too. But the fluff doesn't encourage me).

I also prefer the SW rules to those in WH.

I should also point out that if SWoSK did not exist, I would be all over WH. I wouldn't even consider my above points to be criticisms so much as personal preferences. As it is, I'm making a point to follow WH as I can adapt just about anything in the game to SK, and I don't expect that book to get near the volume of support of WH (though I could be wrong).

WH is more fluffy by miles, so there is far more it can lend to SK than vice-versa. However, the plot point of SK would fit quite well into WH. You would have to make a few allowances for the advanced timeline (1610 vs. 1689), but most of SK's adventures take place in forlorn places where the effect would be minimal. And there is always the bestiary.

Anyhow, keep us informed as to how your game proceeds!

Does anyone have the Lost Child modules, opr whatever it was called? I'm wondering how that is.

A Child's Game, you mean? I picked it up at Origins over the weekend. I haven't made much headway through it, but it seems pretty solid so far. It's a travelogue adventure, designed to give the players something of a tour of the WH world, beginning in London and ending in the New Netherlands area of the New World. I won't spoil you much as to the villains, other than that they were the key selling point on the adventure for me -- well that and the 30 minutes or so the Paradigm guys spent chatting with me and the passion they have behind their game lines. Great guys! :)

Tom
who still wants to see a few Muslim orders of Witch Hunters
 
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Paradigm

First Post
Thanks for taking the time to post here. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm just criticizing things. I'm honestly not trying to do that. I figured I'd post how things came across to me, and maybe point out stuff that other folks might not know of.

I have no issue with criticism, as long as it is not critical for critical's sake. There are always things that can be improved upon. I am happy that you are sharing your experiences with the community, and it is pretty clear to me that you are having fun.
 

HalWhitewyrm

First Post
Platypus, awesome that you are enjoying WH. I've also gotten hardcore into it and have been running a play-by-email game for the past couple of months, though we started with Swans instead of Storm Tides.

I want to reiterate some of the points brought up:
The Yahoo! group is very much the DP campaign list, though it is a good place to check for rules clarifications and news. For those of us doing home play only, there's been some growing traffic over at the WH forums on PCI's website. You'll find me there as Highmoon, as well as others who are grokkin' WH at home (though we're all taking advantage of the great resource that is the DP site). Drop by there as well.

Thanks for the great updates you have been posting. Since I'm running via email, we don't have that immediacy of reaction though as soon as we're done with the first adventure, I'll be writing up a report of the whole thing. WH is a game that I want to see gain more of a following (especially of the home play-type, whether exclusive or in conjunction with DP) and nothing does that better than folks like us who are enjoying the game sharing that enthusiasm with others.

I know there's a lot more material coming soon to expand the world of WH (though I also love the fact that it is very much a one-book-to-play game) so keep an eye out for info from PCI. And hey, feel free to share any homebrewed hacks and creations, whether here, RPG.net or the WH forums (or all!).

I'm looking forward to the continuing reports from your game, so keep it up.
 

malladin

Explorer
I think the alternate history and setting for Witch Hunter is great. I find the mechanics a bit crunchy which is why I'd use, and will be playing a game using, the Savage Worlds rules but thats purely personal preference. A lot of people seem to think its a Solomon Kane or Witch Hunter choice but really both are quite unique and excellent games.
 

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