So I wanted to get back into a bit of OSR kitbashing with Secrets of the Witchkind by Steve Miller. The cover art by Bradley McDermitt convey's a sort of absolutely insane witchkind that might be the perfect NPC villain. Before we go any further this book this is a D20 modern Basics book. The book has a sort of Bewitched quality about it which happens right from the intro; "Every human culture has legends about men and women who bend reality to their will through magic. In the following pages, we reveal the source of those legends, the beings that sorcerers and wizards and demonologists through the ages have aspired to be like— Witchkind! A note about gender language in this product: Throughout this booklet, we refer to "witches" as a general term for witchkind. We do this as a matter of expedience, because we didn't want to type "witches and warlocks" or even "witchkind" over and over. Any reference to a witch applies equally to warlocks, who are their male counterparts. (That should be selfevident, but we have found in the course of the he/she/it wars that it is not.)"
One thing about Secrets of the Witchkind is that this higher quality book then some of Neulow games other offerings. The author has put more work into production & it shows. I was shocked to see that this book was up to Secrets of the Immortals standards. We get racial background on Witchkind their history, events, culture, etc. & it gets pretty indepth; "What is known is that witches and warlocks have existed along side and among humans for tens of thousands of years. The earliest witches seem to have been created via an accident in Atlantis that flooded several thousand people with magical energy during an attempt to study the extra-dimensional Realm of Fairies. When it became clear that there was no reversing the changes they had undergone, the Atlantean leaders isolated them for the rest of their population by restricting them to an extra-dimensional settlement that eventually evolved into a trading and diplomatic post where Atlantis interacted with all the other planes. "
So once again this goes side by side with Secrets of the Immortals history another hidden race that has existed side by side with humanity. That's not a bad thing & Secrets of Witchkind is lite enough system wise to work with other OSR D20 products out on the market. This includes Troll Lord Games Amazing Adventures! But Witchkind are extremely long lived PC's.
The layout here is good & the material here is higher level then I was sort of expecting but many of the D20 Neulow games supplements could be used with Light City a supers hack for the outstanding and simplified Swords & Wizardry Light and Swords & Wizardry Continual Light designed by Erik Tenkar. If I was gonna pitch a whole cloth campaign it would be used with Light City: The Assembly! That campaign material has the right mix of supernatural heroics & super villain nastiness to fit the implied material in Secrets of The Witchkind.
Is Secrets of The Witchkind a rip off of the Betwitched television show? Kinda but not really at all this product is more of an upsend of the witch in a way where the feats & magic system of the Witchkind convey a much more dynamic & almost Pulp like mystic super heroic figure. They have a complete independent magic system; "The following spell point costs are baselines. There are circumstances that can either increase or decrease the amount of spell points expended. Here are some universal conditions that impact the spell point cost. • Spells in core rulebooks and other supplements: Spell level x3 • Minor spell effects, as created by player: 1 spell point (for example, turning a taco into a burrito) • Medium spell effects, as created by player: 6 spell points (for example, placing an enchantment on an item that causes the person carrying it to always tell the truth for 24 hours) • Elaborate spell effects, as created by player: 12 spell points (for example, causing a room to completely change in appearance) • Major spell effects, as created by player: 24 spell points (causing a fully furnished house to appear in an empty lot for a number days equal to character level) • Epic spell effects, as created by player: 100 spell points (for example, causing one or more structures to appear or disappear on a permanent basis, drawing a historical figure from the past into current time, or sending the witch and a number of other people back or forward in time)."
The layout & fonts are very well done here in Secrets of The Witchkind. The feats of the Witchkind reflect their 'otherness' from the run of the mill human; "Empathy [Minor Power] You detect the surface emotions of any creature you can see that is in the power’s area. Benefit: As a full round action, you can focus your attention on a single creature within your line of sight. Roll a Willpower save (DC10). If the roll is successful, you know the target's exact emotional state--afraid, angry, hate-filled, curious, friendly, or any other emotion. The following round, you gain a +4 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Sense Motive checks you make at the target. Special: This feat serves a prerequisite for any talent from Superpower trees."
You get an almost a really horrific nasty effect with the Talents of the Witchkind;"Invisibility You can become hard to see or totally invisible at will. The invisibility can be activated by a thought (standard action), and remains in effect until he wills himself visible again, or loses consciousness. The character’s clothes and carried objects become invisible as well. Shadowy: By taking a standard attack action, you turn partially invisible. You gain a +4 bonus to all Hide checks. This bonus increases to +10 if you are in a dark area or it is night. Invisible: By taking a standard attack action, you turn invisible. All attacks made against you suffer a -6 penalty. Creatures that can see invisible objects can still see you, and you can be sensed by equipment that detects body heat or movement. Likewise, if you step in a puddle, are submerged in water, stand in heavy rain, or if someone fills the air with dust or flour that clings to you, you essentially become visible. Prerequisite: Shadowy Insubstantial: As Invisible, except the character becomes vaporous and become immune to damage from all damage sources except those that compress or displace air, such as extreme heat and cold. The character suffers normal damage from such attacks. Prerequisite: Invisible"
How is this phamplet different from say the work of Tim Brannan of the Otherside Blog say his The Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition book? Well there are both some major thematic differences & racial ones. The witchkind are their own species, the have their own detailed societal overview, there racial details that differ. In other words the Secrets of The Witchkind is its own product separate from many of the witch books on the market. I'll be doing a review of Tim Brannan's The Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition book coming up but that's its own blog entry.
Secrets of The Witchkind is its own book & supplement. Its one that adds a very different take on a very long & almost immortal race unto itself. Is it good? In a word yes! Does it do its job?! Yes it does & perhaps a bit more. Overall I'm glad to have it & will be using it soon. Do I think you should get it? Yes if you want to add in a very different spin witches & witchkind!