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Witch Hunter: Are you playing? Yes? No? Why?

HalWhitewyrm

First Post
Paradigm Concept's Witch Hunter: The Invisible World got 3 ENnies noms (Best Game, Best Rules, Best Product), which I think is awesome as I love the game: swashbuckling adventure, religious-themed horror, late 17th century alt-history with a Colonial America focus; this game just had to be mine.

Problem is, beyond Dark Providence (the WH organized play campaign run by PCI) players, I can't seem to find many who are playing the game and talking about it. Which is a shame because the game is very good: the setting is very compeling with a strong background history and a lot of complexity in its treatment of the topic of religiously-themed horror, an easy-to-use system based on d10 dice pools (comparisons to oWoD are not that far off) that does what it needs to do and makes off-the-cuff extrapolation a snap, and even narrative-focused rules mechanics (for the story game-loving crowd) that make a character more than just attributes and equipment.

To that you can add the organized play support at cons and game days, plus the adventures are all available for free to either play the Dark Providence campaign at home, in case you don't care for that aspect, simply use them to play home games, giving you free, instant play opportunities right off the bat. This month also saw the release of The Grand Tome of Adversaries, a book of enemies for the heroes that includes forbidden societies, lots of critters and detailed rules for critter-creation, all exquisitely presented with tons of story material to give context and generate play hooks.

I think Witch Hunter is a fantastic game that deserves more recognition and promotion, so in that interest I ask, who's playing out there? I know there's another member currently playing as he had a thread going last month or so, but who else. If you are playing/have played Witch Hunter, let us know about it and share your game experiences. If you are planning/looking to play Witch Hunter, let us know as well. And if you haven't played it, tell us and expand on why.

I'll come back later and talk about my current WH game as well.
 

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Imaro

Hero
Well, I'm kind of reluctant to go into this... but here I go. With a majority African-american group, I tend to find myself with a paricular avoidance of games set in America's past. I avoid Call of Cthulhu (because I also have issues with Lovecraft's views), avoided Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane (ditto Howard), Colonial Gothic, and so forth. Now I like horror games, and have both a nWoD collection, as well as numerous games by Eden Studios and am really excited by both Hunter the Vigil and the Supernatural rpg's that will be coming out soon. But historic games set around these periods just aren't my thing. I wonder how does Witch Hunter handle non-european characters?
 

BluSponge

First Post
I purchased the game when it came out, though I'll admit my motivation was mainly to use it as an add on to the Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane. The two settings are separated by about 75 years of history, but a lot of the concepts translate rather seamlessly.

In general, I like the game. I can't say I've played it more than a handful of times, but those events (Dark Providence premier at DragonCon 2007) were fun. My only critique was that the GMs didn't hand out enough hero points to really give the game that over the top swashbuckling feel (I was coming down off of a 5-year long 7th Sea campaign, so I'm biased). The mechanics hew closer to Storyteller than any other RPG I'm familiar with, and there are plenty of character options. I would love to play in a regular campaign. As a GM, I prefer SK mainly because it doesn't take too many gross liberties with history, which WH does for a variety of reasons. But I could get over that really quick. I love the fact that bad guys come in three flavors: minions, lieutenants, and villains. At Origins, I had a long discussion about the game and its future with the Paradigm guys and walked away with the Grand Tome of Adversaries and A Child's Game. They really have some great plans for the game and I want to support them as much as I can.

Well, I'm kind of reluctant to go into this... but here I go. With a majority African-american group, I tend to find myself with a paricular avoidance of games set in America's past.

That makes perfect sense to me. For escapist fun, [sarcasm]you can't beat playing a free black in colonial America[/sarcasm].

I wonder how does Witch Hunter handle non-european characters?

It doesn't really...yet. The Blessed and the Damned book is supposed to open this up a lot more, and they are working on a book for Africa. I'm hoping they get it out sooner rather than later, as I think a North African/Mediterranean/Palestine based campaign for Witch Hunter OR Solomon Kane would be fantastic! One of my biggest gripes about the core book is that, while it mentions them in passing, it doesn't offer any Muslim themed witch hunter organizations. That makes sense as the game is currently focused on Europe and the New World, but it doesn't exactly offer any support for non-European themed games.

Tom
 

makes sense as the game is currently focused on Europe and the New World, but it doesn't exactly offer any support for non-European themed games.

Does it offer any support for Native American-based Witch Hunters? You would kind of expect it to. Assuming there are any Native Americans in this alt-America.
 

Crothian

First Post
Great game but I'm running D&D, playing in a Buffy game, and my Changeling is game is on hiatus. Just don't have enoiugh time to play everything.
 

BluSponge

First Post
Does it offer any support for Native American-based Witch Hunters? You would kind of expect it to. Assuming there are any Native Americans in this alt-America.

There are plenty of Native Americans in this alt-America. There is, however, only one Witch Hunter group associated with them: the ghost people. Given that there is a lot of potential for dramatic tension between the various WH factions, it seems like slim pickings to base your campaign around. But having one or two players who want to play Native American roles? No problem.

(I should point out that pretty much every WH organization is associated with one church or another, and all have a spiritual bent and a direct line to the Almighty available to them.)

Tom
 

GreatLemur

First Post
There are plenty of Native Americans in this alt-America. There is, however, only one Witch Hunter group associated with them: the ghost people. Given that there is a lot of potential for dramatic tension between the various WH factions, it seems like slim pickings to base your campaign around. But having one or two players who want to play Native American roles? No problem.
Man, that's kind of a shame. There's room for a hell of a lot more, I should think. I mean, the setting is the colonial-era New World!

And, while I can understand their reluctance to even address potential roles for African characters in such a setting, it still does sound like a pretty gaping omission. Personally, I'd work in some alt-history version of the Maroons, with real political power, a stronger presence in North America, and their own Witch Hunter group, to give black characters a way to participate as equals. Hell, folks, this is role-playing games. History is there to be beaten into a shape that facilitates better gameplay.

Caveat: I don't own Witch Hunters, and have barely even gotten a look at the book.
 

Imaro

Hero
Man, that's kind of a shame. There's room for a hell of a lot more, I should think. I mean, the setting is the colonial-era New World!

And, while I can understand their reluctance to even address potential roles for African characters in such a setting, it still does sound like a pretty gaping omission. Personally, I'd work in some alt-history version of the Maroons, with real political power, a stronger presence in North America, and their own Witch Hunter group, to give black characters a way to participate as equals. Hell, folks, this is role-playing games. History is there to be beaten into a shape that facilitates better gameplay.

Caveat: I don't own Witch Hunters, and have barely even gotten a look at the book.

Emphasis mine...now that would be a cool idea. Another idea would be to have Santerian or Voodoun witch hunters.

I understand in recreating a semi-historical game there are certain realities which took place...so I don't disparage a company that hews close to it, but those games just aren't that appealing to me either. I just don't want people thinking I'm claiming that a game company should rewrite history to accommodate me...but I am more interested in a game that makes concessions (however they can) than one that doesn't. Just personal opinion.
 

GreatLemur

First Post
Emphasis mine...now that would be a cool idea. Another idea would be to have Santerian or Voodoun witch hunters.

I understand in recreating a semi-historical game there are certain realities which took place...so I don't disparage a company that hews close to it, but those games just aren't that appealing to me either. I just don't want people thinking I'm claiming that a game company should rewrite history to accommodate me...but I am more interested in a game that makes concessions (however they can) than one that doesn't. Just personal opinion.
Understood. I think it's supposed to be sort of alt-history already, though, isn't it? I'm not sure just how alt, but I'm hoping they've got room to make such concessions.

I think the assumption in a lot of folks' historical campaigns--regardless of what the books actually say on the matte--is that the PCs are, by their nature, exceptional individuals in many ways, and are thus accorded more freedom and respect than their ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic background, etc. would normally allow in the game's specific time and place. It might not be realistic, but who wants to tell a player that a female character in Victorian London is all but unplayable? The hell with that; we can just assume that the character is a woman so intelligent and headstrong that, in everyone's mind, she qualifies as something of an exception to the culture's usual repressive rules regarding women.

Back on topic, though, what would those who are more familiar with Witch Hunter say on the possibilities of homebrewing new Witch Hunter groups? Is there a lot of mechanical crunch to be created, or is it just a matter of writing some fluff and picking some core ability? Because Santerian or Voodoun witch hunters sound like a natural fit, to me.
 

BluSponge

First Post
Understood. I think it's supposed to be sort of alt-history already, though, isn't it? I'm not sure just how alt, but I'm hoping they've got room to make such concessions.

It isn't extremely alt. The Dutch still control New Amsterdam, the Spanish are still fighting the Aztecs, things like that. But the door is open, and seeing as it is expressed that nearly every culture has some witch hunter organization, it would make sense to have a couple of African oriented ones. I really like Imaro's idea of a voudon-oriented order. Easily done given the core rules, you'd just want to dress it up a bit with a few personalized powers.

I think this is also a good place to point out that nothing PRECLUDES a GM from doing any of these things mentioned, only that Paradigm Concepts haven't gotten around to rolling that out. While the current state of the milieu is euro-centric, it leaves the door WIDE open for Witch Hunters of nearly every stripe. You'll just have to do a bit of work -- and isn't that half the fun of the game?

It might not be realistic, but who wants to tell a player that a female character in Victorian London is all but unplayable? The hell with that; we can just assume that the character is a woman so intelligent and headstrong that, in everyone's mind, she qualifies as something of an exception to the culture's usual repressive rules regarding women.

I want to take exception to that a bit. Female characters in a historically accurate Victorian setting are hardly unplayable, just as a free African immigrant in colonial America is very playable. They just lend themselves to certain types of stories and are harder to incorporate into the troupe-style play that is the standard for RPG parties. And those stories may not appeal to all groups. Every era has repressive rules regarding SOMEONE! The middle ages and Renaissance (the defacto-period setting for most DnD campaigns) were no exception to this. I think you do yourself a disservice when you dismiss certain periods of history because they present inherent challenges. Likewise, I won't disparage anyone who avoids them because their group finds them unappealing. (I know a guy who finds any period beyond the invention of gunpowder unappealing...except for Star Wars.)

Back on topic, though, what would those who are more familiar with Witch Hunter say on the possibilities of homebrewing new Witch Hunter groups? Is there a lot of mechanical crunch to be created, or is it just a matter of writing some fluff and picking some core ability? Because Santerian or Voodoun witch hunters sound like a natural fit, to me.

Hell and no. Witch Hunter doesn't have a lot of crunch. Like I said, a voudon-oriented order of witch hunters would fit right into the setting with minimal fuss. At worse, you'd have to create a unique Tradition of Sorcery (Voudon). This would constitute around 6 Basic Rites (spells), 4 Greater Rites, and 2 Heroic Rites. The easy way out would be to examine the other six traditions and pick and choose those that fit with your vision of the power, then tweak the fluff regarding those rites to give them the appropriate feel (off the top of my head, I would say Animism and some of the more benign Necromancy rites would do it).

If the character wasn't planning to be a spellcaster, though, it's no muss, no fuss. Just dress him up, give him an appropriate accent and backstory, and he's ready to go out and kick some Adversary a@#. :)

Tom
 

Qualidar

First Post
I bought it at GenCon last year, but unfortunately it's still in the reading queue. I'm looking forward to getting to it, especially if there are adventures available.
 

Vayden

First Post
Not playing. Reasons why, in descending order of importance:

1) I'm in 3 separate 4e games (playing 2, GMing 1) right now, and I don't have time.
2) Hadn't heard of it until this post. Which, to be honest, it probably the biggest reason you're having trouble finding players - the market for games that aren't D&D/WoD is tiny in comparison to those.
3) If you're saying that it's like the oWoD d10 system, that turns me off right there. I have a long-standing dislike for the d10 system built on 2 years of playing it before switching to d20. But that's just me personally.
 

HalWhitewyrm

First Post
Well, I'm kind of reluctant to go into this... but here I go.
First of all, thanks for posting the question as I think it's very valid. I'm both Jewish and Hispanic, so I can understand the certain aprehension when looking at games set in times when either group was not in the best position possible.

With a majority African-american group, I tend to find myself with a paricular avoidance of games set in America's past. [...] But historic games set around these periods just aren't my thing. I wonder how does Witch Hunter handle non-european characters?
Witch Hunter is kind of PC in how it handles minorities. Witch Hunters are all have a super-natural calling and as such they all have a modicum of respect for one another, aside from a rule from the council of the Orders that safeguards all Witch Hunters, regardless of their backgrounds. In this way, WH of different religions, ethnicities and backgrounds can coexist in the same group and Order, and interact with others.

When it comes to the world around, the mores of the era are there, but it's up to you to decide how much you want to bring them to the forefront.

All that said, the book actually acknowledges that not all Witch Hunters are caucassian European(-descended) Christians. While certainly Christianity is the most represented religion (though there are variations to account for Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, Protestant and Easter-and-Christmas Christians) and European and Euro-descended peoples are the ethnicity most represented in the core book, they are not the only options, as others have explained. There is a lot of room for improvement and expansions, yes, but it doesn't white-wash or ignore all other groups.

My only critique was that the GMs didn't hand out enough hero points to really give the game that over the top swashbuckling feel...
I found the economy suggested in the book for Hero Points too slow for my taste as well and amped it up. I'm not just throwing them out like candy, but I dole them out for good roleplaying (think Fan Mail in Primetime Adventures, if you are familiar with that game), correct roleplaying of Virtues and Vices, and a reward for using the character's own hooks to mess up their lives (think Compels from Spirit of the Century, if you're familiar with that game). It has encouraged my players to be more swashbuckly and take more ownership of the narrative.

At Origins, I had a long discussion about the game and its future with the Paradigm guys and walked away with the Grand Tome of Adversaries and A Child's Game. They really have some great plans for the game and I want to support them as much as I can.
Dude, share.

The Blessed and the Damned book is supposed to open this up a lot more, and they are working on a book for Africa. I'm hoping they get it out sooner rather than later, as I think a North African/Mediterranean/Palestine based campaign for Witch Hunter OR Solomon Kane would be fantastic! One of my biggest gripes about the core book is that, while it mentions them in passing, it doesn't offer any Muslim themed witch hunter organizations. That makes sense as the game is currently focused on Europe and the New World, but it doesn't exactly offer any support for non-European themed games.
The first thing I did when I got the game was check how were Jews handled in the game, given the time period and the source material. I was delighted to find out the treatment, while minimal in the core book, was very good. The backstory of the game actually draws on Jewish Midrashic (legends) sources as it builds its own fiction. My general feeling for all other minorities was the same as well. I'm looking forward to The Blessed and the Damned, not only because I wrote a Jewish Order that may appear in that book (crossing my fingers), but really because I'm looking forward to the exploring of other groups of Witch Hunters, like Muslim or Voudon groups, and what their take and perception of the Adversary is.

Another idea would be to have Santerian or Voodoun witch hunters.
Again, that might be in The Blessed and the Damned. If not, just write one up and post it to the forums (here, RPG.net and/or PCI). There might be another way to get such material out, but that's still up in the air so I can't say more.

I bought it at GenCon last year, but unfortunately it's still in the reading queue. I'm looking forward to getting to it, especially if there are adventures available.
Go here, then: Dark Providence> Adventures. As of this post, there are 13 free adventures for WH for you to have fun with.

Not playing. Reasons why, in descending order of importance:
2) Hadn't heard of it until this post. Which, to be honest, it probably the biggest reason you're having trouble finding players - the market for games that aren't D&D/WoD is tiny in comparison to those.
Yup, you're right, which is why I started this thread, so help get some talk going and try to expore more people to this great game.

3) If you're saying that it's like the oWoD d10 system, that turns me off right there.
I'd suggest not judging the game on that comparison, as it's sort of shorthand used here and there to try to explain the system. Rob Schwalb of Green Ronin did the basic rules design for Witch Hunter and he came up with a very easy system of d10 pools that can cover pretty much any eventuality. Don't let my use of shorthand to avoid a more lengthy explanation of the system turn you off from the game.
 


qstor

Adventurer
I've played a few of the 'living' campaign games. I enjoy it so Yes. I'm playing another one at GenCon. I enjoy historic role playing games.

Mike
 

HalWhitewyrm

First Post
I've played a few of the 'living' campaign games. I enjoy it so Yes. I'm playing another one at GenCon. I enjoy historic role playing games.
Let me ask you, Mike, would you consider it also for home play? Is the organized play format better for you in terms of preparation and/or convenience?
 

Hmmm, sounds interesting. I think the next major questions would be about the system, so I'm off to see what I can find out about that. If it is like the oWoD system, then ugh. I don't like "Roll lots of dice!" systems at the best of times. If it's much better implemented, though, it might be worth a shot.
 


mhacdebhandia

Explorer
And if you haven't played it, tell us and expand on why.
One: never heard of it before the ENnie nominations were announced. For whatever reason, news has not reached me - and I come to both EN World and RPG.Net every day, so . . .

Two: colonial America, even with witch hunters, ain't that exciting to non-Americans in general. As it happens, I'm probably the most Yanqui-philic person I know (and my wife is Californian), with a serious interest in American history, and even I'm not sure it's that gripping a concept compared to all the other games out there.
 

BluSponge

First Post
Two: colonial America, even with witch hunters, ain't that exciting to non-Americans in general. As it happens, I'm probably the most Yanqui-philic person I know (and my wife is Californian), with a serious interest in American history, and even I'm not sure it's that gripping a concept compared to all the other games out there.

Actually, from what I've read coming out of Paradigm Concepts, the colonial American setting really turns on the European fans. The American fans stick to the Old World setting. So I counter your anecdotal evidence with my own. HA! Take that! ;)

Tom
 

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