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Clash of History: Witch Trials

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Clash of History: Witch Trials
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Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 06:48:31

Interesting overview with some ideas you can use in your games. Good for a starting point, but not enough to really give the full scope of times. Granted this is for a game and not a history class. Obviously best for Earth-like settings.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2007 00:00:00

This 10 page PDF (12 with front cover & OGC declaration) provides a new core class for D20 fantasy games, the Witch (She?s a witch, a witch, burn her, burn her!). As you might expect (No one expects the Spanish Inquistion!) an Inquisitor Privilege Class is also included A discussion of ?witchcraft? and witch hunts in Medieval Europe and into the present is provided, though no mention of the reported witchcraft deaths that have happened recently in Africa is made.

The Witch class is treated as an arcane spellcaster who learns her powers by consorting with supernatural entities. The Witch will also be granted powers by the supernatural entity she serves, depending on whether she is a ?good? witch, a White Witch, or a ?bad? witch, a Black Witch. (Being from the East or the West is unimportant, though all witches should beware falling houses.)

The Witch class is not at all combat focused; only receiving a D4 hit die. The primary ability of the witch is Intelligence, gaining 4xInt modifier skill points per level. The Witch has a fair BAB, with a good will save (2/3rds), and poor Reflex and Fortitude saves. The witch casts spells similarly to a Sorcerer, without requiring preparation as a Wizard or Cleric. The witch has access to a limited number of spells, only common spells from the sorcerer/wizard spell list, or unusual spells she has learned. Depending on her witches? path, Black or White, witches have additional abilities granted to her starting at 5th level, and ever 5th level thereafter. If on the White path, she gains access to healing abilities while on the Black path, she gains familiar shape, and a variety of curse abilities.

The Inquisitor PrC is a 10 level PrC, most quickly qualified for by as a Paladin, or Cleric. The requirements to enter the class are a BAB of +5, the Knowledge (religion), and Sense Motive skills each at 5 ranks, and the ability to cast 1st level divine spells. The Inquisitor?s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Concentration (Con), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana, history, local, religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Search (Int) and Sense Motive (Wis). Inquisitors gain 4+ Int. modifier skill points per level. Their abilities include the ability to detect lies, as well as smiting heretics, forced confessions and forced repentance.

The remaining section provides a discussion of European witch trials and a detailed timeline, as well as a few brief campaign concepts for incorporating witches, and witch hunts into your campaign.

The PDF is laid out in a two spacious columns with an ornate distressed script-like red-brown colored font in a large point size for section headings, and an easy to read serif body font. The art is sparse, with just one piece of internal clip-art. The cover features a medieval print against a grungey texture background. The tables are very readable, making good use of the header font for column titles, and light-red shading for odd-numbered rows. It is a plain, but easy to read document, with no excess ornamentation to waste your ink.

Overall, this is a solid product, fitting a rather cultural/religion specific concept into a general fantasy setting. The Witch class offers up some very traditional abilities for the Witch class, allowing them to seem sinister. The Inquistor PrC is a good treatment of the concept, adding real godly power to enforce his mandate. The witch hunt concept makes for an intense and compelling campaign premise. I recommend this product to any GM or players interested in adding witch hunts and religious persecution, with or without Monty Python references, into a game.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Evil Eye ability, Malleus Maleficarum: quote. ??in which the reader is informed that any woman who does not cry during her trial should be automatically condemned as a witch.?<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: White/Black witch concept is a bit contrived for my taste.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Jonathan W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2007 11:42:17

This was very poorly constructed with typos up the wazoo. First it says the witch uses Int to cast then it says charisma. It says it casts like a wizard/cleric, then goes on to say that it uses the sorcerer tables. The Witch class is not a balanced one. It gets twice as many skill points as a sorcerer, the same spell progression (except at first level where it has fewer spells) with access to all the same spells, and it gets six unique abilities as it levels up. It's a beefed up sorcerer. The Inquisitor Prestige class already exists. The author just changed some of the progression and wording on abilities and lowerd the requirements. The timeline and progression of the witch trials is nice and can be useful. There are a couple of good campaign ideas to be taken out of this as well but nothing extraordinary.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2007 00:00:00

This PDF focuses on witches from a historical viewpoint. Included are two new classes; one core and one prestige. The PDF is short at only around a dozen pages. There is a single piece of internal artwork, a medieval period piece that fits the theme of the book well.

After a brief introduction, the book presents a new core class: the witch. Witches are spontaneous arcane spellcasters who use the same spell progression as sorcerers. For some reason, the author chose not to include the sorcerer spells per day chart, instead referring the reader to the Player's Handbook. I would have preferred its inclusion here, if only for ease of use. Space constraints are not really an issue in an electronic product, so why not save me from having to cross reference my PH every time I want to make a witch? A minor quibble, I know, but a quibble nonetheless.

The class itself is a bit disappointing. Witches are very similar to sorcerers up until 5th level. At that point, their alignment determines whether they will gain the abilities of a white witch or a black witch. White witches are healers who can brew healing potions and lay on hands. Black witches gain the power to bestow curses, brew baneful potions, and change their shape or appearance.

The witch's class abilities are very fitting, but the mechanics behind them are lacking. By the time the black witch can use her Lesser Curse power, for example, she can already cast Bestow Curse five times per day. Bestow Curse is superior to Lesser Curse in almost all categories, leaving me to wonder at the real benefit of the class ability. The first power of the white witch, Healing drink, allows her to brew healing potions despite lack of access to spells such as cure light wounds. It is not a bad idea, but the witch has to spend XP and take time to brew the potions just like any other character. She gets no reduction in time, experience, or any other benefit above and beyond the normal effects of the Brew Potion feat. Sure, sorcerers can't normally make healing potions at all, but as a 10th level ability this doesn't exactly jump out and grab me.

Finally, the witch has no spell list. The author suggests that the player select common spells from the sorcerer / wizard spell list. Why not, at the very least, list spells that fit the theme and feel of the class? Leaving the work up to the individual player or GM strikes me as lazy, and it makes me question the necessity of this book at all.

I'm more pleased with the new prestige class: the Inquisitor. Inquisitors are basically paladins who trade away a few typical paladin powers for a suite of themed abilities. Overall, I like the class features. Forced confession allows the Inquisitor to render his target unable to lie, with a save based on the results of an Intimidate check. I thought that the mechanics behind this ability were clever. Forced repentance, a similar power, lacks mechanical utility but fits the theme and feel of the class well.

The remainder of the book is devoted to a brief appendix on the historical view of witches and witchcraft, plus a timeline showing the shifting attitudes of the populace towards witches from 1000 AD to the modern era. This section, while well written, is very brief. In talking about an anti-witchcraft manual, for example, the author alludes to a number of historical myths and impressions, but doesn't actually list them. While the information we are given is interesting, little of it is actually useful at the gaming table.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This PDF is very well written. It reads like a quality article you'd expect to find in a magazine such as Dragon. There are lots of good ideas here, and an industrious GM would find plenty of inspiration for working psuedo-historical or historical witches into his or her campaign.

I think that $2.25 is a fair price, making up somewhat for the shallow nature of the content.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: This book feels incomplete. While I learned that medieval people had a number of superstitions about witches, I know almost nothing about what those superstitions actually were. The writing and subject matter are good enough to whet the reader's appetite, but ultimately the book doesn't deliver any juicy details.

The Inquisitor prestige class is worth checking out if you're interested in an alternate path for your paladins. The witch core class, which is the logical backbone of the product, falls flat. If you're interested in the subject matter, this book is a good start. You'll have to do most of the leg work on your own, however, and this PDF is by no means a complete primer on witches or the European witch trials.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2007 00:00:00

Clash of History: Witch Trials is a d20 supplement from Vigilance Press. The zipped file is just under half a megabyte in size, and contains a single PDF. The PDF is twelve pages long, including a page for the cover, and a page for the OGL. The file is fully bookmarked.

There's very little art in Witch Trials. Besides the cover, only a single full color piece appears, a historical piece like the cover. There are no page borders, and even the headers for each section are a dark red that easily becomes black in a monochrome printing. While there may not be a printer-friendly version of the book here, that won't be a problem in most cases.

The book opens by presenting the new witch base class. Given full PHB-style treatment in how it's introduced, the witch is a spontaneous arcane spellcaster, like the sorcerer. The witch is said to gain her power from supernatural entities that are not gods, but there's no mechanic based around this. Most of the witch's other special abilities depend on the alignment of the witch's patron. Good patrons have white witches, which have healing-based abilities, while evil patrons have black witches, which have powers tied to curses.

Immediately following this is the inquisitor prestige class. The inquisitor is a divine spellcasting prestige class based on hunting down heretics. While they do gain a smite in this regard, most of the rest of their class features are centered on forcing a confession and then forcibly making the heretic atone for their wicked ways. Collectively, the witch and inquisitor classes take up half the book.

The second half opens with an explanation for why witch trials in previous centuries were so common, and gives an example of a witch hunter's handbook. Following this, several pages are given to outlining a timeline of witch trials, mostly in Europe. The book closes out with almost half a page of ideas for using witch trials in your game.

Altogether, Clash of History: Witch Trials seems like a book that could have been more than it was. The new witch class seems like just a sorcerer with a few new abilities; too few to really have its own distinct feel. The inquisitor is a nice new class though. However, both lack ability tags for their original powers, which is a tad frustrating. The real source of frustration here, though, is that half of the book is used to give a timeline of witch hunting, something that can pretty well be gathered through a bit of personal research. This portion of the book would have been better served to help lay out ideas (or even new mechanics) in a fantasy game. Why are witches worse than evil clerics? How are their patrons different than gods? There was a lot that could have been done, but the short section at the end barely touched on a number of ideas. The real crime in Witch Trials is how much wasn't done. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The new inquisitor prestige class was rather cool.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The witch class didn't feel distinctive enough from a standard sorcerer, and there wasn't enough information about how to really use the witch class in a standard high-fantasy game.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of History: Witch Trials
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2007 00:00:00

Clash of History: Witch Trails is a short 12 page d20 historical pdf product and the fourth product in Vigilance Press' line of historical fantasy products. The products in the series aim to bring history into the fantasy world, and in the case of this particular product, the witch trials of medieval Europe and related history are discussed and detailed. Each product presents not only a brief history of the product topic, but also a class and associated game mechanics.

The product comes as a single pdf files and follows the same layout and structure as the other pdfs in the series. There is a nice front cover, some detailed bookmarks, fitting interior art, and a simple layout without any bordering. Editing and writing is good, although given the subject matter quite difficult to condense well within such a short amount of material. The mechanics for the most part is good, although in some instances there were cases of editing errors gone wrong (the white witch healing touch ability, for example, being referred to as lay on hands) and in one or two places the mechanics could've used a little more elaboration. There was also some older mechanics in the product - the black witch gains the thousand faces ability similar to that of druids, but it's based on the alter self spell rather than the more recent disguise self spell. Overall, though, a decent pdf, simple with no major problems.

The product starts with a brief introduction to the pdf before detailing the witch (or warlock) core class. The class is based on the sorcerer class, using the same spell mechanics and progressions. The novelty with the class lies in the various special abilities, and naturally the flavor of the class, where a witch relies on some tie to a physical entity for its magic and power. There are two paths that a character can follow with this class - the white witch focused on healing, and the black witch which is focused on curses and cursing. I like the idea of being able to take two paths for the class, and the class does a good job of following the information in the background of the witch trials to create a more realistic medieval class.

Next is a short prestige class, the inquisitor. This prestige class is essentially based upon the concept of finding witches and drawing the truth from them, so it relies on abilities like smite evil and the ability to determine the truth. It's quite a short prestige class, and not particularly well detailed, but it will make a useful addition to a campaign based on the ideas contained in this pdf. It's also reasonably easy to take the prestige class as a template and adapt to other uses or concepts.

The last half of the pdf covers in brief detail, though with an extensive timeline, the history of the witch trials in medieval Europe and to a lesser extent in other parts of the world. It makes for a very interesting read, although it can be a little sketchy in places. Then again, having to cover centuries of history in such a short space is quite a difficult job. Certain areas could've used more detail, such as perhaps more details on the trials themselves, and the logistics of keeping witches and putting them on trial, but for the most part it's a decent account of a broad period of history. There are several campaign ideas on the last page of the pdf that allow one to adapt the material to a fantasy world, and all are quite useful and interesting ideas.

Overall this is a decent pdf with some useful and interesting material. The classes are built well within the historical context, and I like the idea of the base class being able to progress along different paths. The history is interesting, but perhaps not detailed enough to highlight some of the methodology involved in the witch trials. The pdf is easy to adapt to similar themed scenarios if a DM wants to run a campaign based on these ideas. Worth a look if you're interested in some form of campaign where particular groups are persecuted, or if you're looking for a more historically accurate witch class.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Decent account of the history behind the witch trials, and the class and prestige class slot in well with the historical background provided. Some useful campaign ideas and material for those wishing to build a campaign or adventure on these ideas.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Here and there the classes seemed like they'd been constructed using abilities from other classes, and barring the novelty of taking the class along different paths, there's not a lot new in terms of special abilities for the class. To make full use of the material, some added detail on the witch trails, how witches were imprisoned or examples on how they trials were run would've been useful.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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