Witch: Fated Souls by MollyMetroid
IntroductionOriginal SA post
Witch: Fated Souls
Part One: Introduction
This is a game I picked up at Origins, from the same booth that MorsRattus grabbed Epyllion from.
I got the better book here by far.
Witch is a game published by Angry Hamster Publishing, and was written by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul. Judging from the fact that Angry Hamster is based largely in the Netherlands, I would say it’s a safe bet that English is not her first language. I mention this entirely because the fluff fiction (and only the fluff fiction, for the most part) is riddled with grammar errors, to the point where any time there’s a bit of fluff I will be skipping it entirely for this review.
The rules text of the game itself is thankfully not affected by this.
The game came out in late 2015, after a successful Kickstarter campaign in March that year. The book itself is a hardcover, full color, with actually quite nice production values—it’s not the best RPG book I’ve ever opened, or even the best I got out of Origins, but it’s definitely got nice artwork throughout.
The premise of the game is that the players take on the role of a Fated character, someone who has traded their soul (or had their soul traded) to a demon of some sort in exchange for power. There are several varieties of Fated, each with their own distinct form of Demon and their own strengths and weaknesses.
One important thing to note: while the demons in Witch are powerful, they’re neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and they can be outsmarted or defeated. The book evidently expects the endpoint of a campaign to involve either freeing yourself from your demon…or taking their place. At least, there’s a chapter on how to do that kind of thing.
Witch is set in modern Earth, largely as we know it - the main difference is the supernatural being real. This kind of setting is fairly familiar to fans of the World of Darkness or other games with the same conceit.
In the frontmatter, near the copyright information and the dedication, the book notes that it will be using gender neutral pronouns through most of the work, specifically they/their. On page 14, there’s a sidebar:
This was one of the first things that caught my eye as I flipped through the book in the hotel at Origins, and frankly, right there I knew I was happy with my purchase. It's not perfect, but it's there, when in so many other games it really isn't...
Next time: Fates + Character Creation!
Fates: Djinn, DruidOriginal SA post
Witch: Fated Souls
Part Two: Fates
These are your splats. They define to a large degree what kind of magics your character is going to have access to, as well as what type of demon owns your soul and what kind of person you typically are. There are seven Fates to choose from in Witch: Heks, Druid, Djinn, Yokai, Sósyé, Lich, and Seer.
You don’t have to play to your Fate’s stereotypes, of course, but there’s typically a general type of personality or history that’s associated with each Fate. Playing against type is fine, there’s no restrictions on who can become Fated - you can even have had your soul traded away by your parents before you were born, if you want to go that route. Heck, the book even offers that you might come from a line of Witches where every first-born in your line is Fated. (This lends itself to certain Fates, as we’ll see.)
(If you’re Fated from birth, there’s a sidebar saying that you don’t get your powers till you come of age. No creepy kidwitches.)
All of the Fates have a full color art piece to illustrate them. I’ll share some of these, but not all.
Let’s look at the Fates now!
The Djinn don’t have a specific entity that they trade their souls to - instead they work for the Quiet between dimensions. They are largely individuals who were at their wits’ end looking for something better in life, some way out, and wake up feeling…different. From then on they have the power to grant wishes—or more accurately, to negotiate the granting of wishes by the Quiet.
Because of their nature as beings surrounded by contracts and law and negotiation, the Djinn absolutely hate being lied to. Little white lies might get ignored, but they’re going to cause a ruckus if someone lies to them on a major subject, especially when it gets people hurt.
The Djinn also, in addition to being able to grant wishes to others, gain three (and only three) wishes of their own. The Quiet does not fuck with these—merely muttering “I wish I had a sandwich” won’t waste your wish, and it’s not out to screw you over with the wording any more than it does for anyone else making a wish.
The spells of the Djinn are Emneya and Tayir. (I know it’s not very informative in the naming scheme. We’ll come back to the spells in a later chapter.)
Druids negotiate for power with a type of demon known to other Fated as a Horned Beast, though most Druids just call them spirits. Druids have two branches to choose from for their power: Fuil (Blood) or Nádúr (Nature). Often, a Horned Beast will bargain for the souls of everyone in a family line—this is the kind of Fate you might have if you’re Fated from birth.
The Blood Druids are a little like berserkers. They get mad, they get powerful, they hulk out and crush their enemies. Nature Druids, on the other hand, get to heal others and armor themselves, and can commune with the natural world.
This is not to say that they’re all outdoorsy. Instead, most Druids value freedom.
They have an ability to see glimpses of the past, spewing lore relevant to the Fated and important places or even ancestry.
The spells of a Druid are Cosain and Fréamh for Nature Druids, and Fhearg and Dúile for Blood Druids.
No, the spells are not going to get more clearly named as we go.
This is about as long as I want to take on an update, so I’ll cut off with these two for now and come back next time with two more Fates, the Heks and the Lich!
Fates: Heks, Lich, SeersOriginal SA post
Witch: Fated Souls
Part Three: More Fates
The Heks are the most social of Fated. They make their bargain with a Devil, what most people immediately think of when they hear the word demon, and the Devils are complete dicks. They crawl inside their Heks’ psyche when they give them their power, and at the same time give them a taste of what’s coming for them after death. It’s painful, miserable, and the Heks barely remembers any of it - but it usually makes the Heks try to live it up while they can.
Heks are the only Fated to gain a familiar, a small animal they believe houses their soul. They believe that their Devils only get their soul when they die. Familiars appear to be normal animals, but they stay with the Heks until the Heks dies - even if the familiar is killed, it’s only temporary.
The weakness of the Heks is that they suffer from either nightmares, giving them a rough time when they sleep, or insanity—and this is called out in the text as not being a real world mental illness. (The example Heks fluff text talks about how the individual writing it must make a written report every three hours, at quarter past; they won’t leave their house on a Monday, can only buy vegetables on Tuesday and craves a steak, and so on.) It’s…kind of nice to see a game include this kind of “insanity” and call out explicitly that no, real mental illness doesn’t work this way.
The Heks spells are Curse and Telekinesis.
Holy shit, spells with names that actually tell us something about what they do!
Lich (noted as being both the singular and plural term) like knowledge, study, and information gathering. Their demon is called a Preta, and when they become Fated the Preta takes out their heart and places it in a phylactery. From then on unless the phylactery is destroyed, the lich will live forever…though the body continues to decay or decompose. The Preta tend to choose wood or porcelain vessels for the phylactery—a safe is too difficult to destroy and they want it to be able to be destroyed.
Lich then get to study…whatever they want, forever. Mostly this tends towards each Lich becoming an expert on their chosen subject, whatever that may be—from mythology to the origin of dance to whatever else. While you might imagine from this that the average Lich spends their time in libraries for centuries on end, most of them prefer to do their own legwork and are rather adventurous.
If a Lich takes fatal damage, their body falls apart and their spirit goes back to their phylactery, until they make a new bargain with their Preta to restore their body to…livable…form. This is usually just as bad a deal as the one made to gain the power in the first place, if not worse. They otherwise can’t die unless their phylactery goes…and of course, they are ugly and take social penalties for it, increasing every 5 years. No McDonald’s drive thru for an ancient Lich!
(And they do still need to eat and drink.)
Lich spells are Lumiére and Enlever.
Seers are an interesting Fate. They were all wiped out in the middle ages by hunters (a threat, I might add, that continues even into modern times, though this is the first time I mention hunters—it’s not the first time the book does), and their demons, the Amit, were so badly weakened by this that for a long time no new Seers were created. Then something happened that tore loose the prison plane that the souls of the lost Seers were trapped in, and they got loose. Most of them took the opportunity to pass on to whatever comes naturally after death - freedom? - but some of them were unable to do so.
These trapped souls occasionally find new hosts—bodies on the brink of death, so close that their rightful souls have already left. The Seer soul entering the body restores it to life and full health. The individual now possessing the Seer soul has no idea any of this has happened…until the Amit find them.
The Amit would prefer to tear the souls loose and devour them on the spot, but there are rules, and one of those rules is that a soul cannot be taken without a bargain being made for it—and so they grant the Seers power. They gain the ability to see the future, and they also gain the ability to control creepy crawlies, which they gain an affinity with.
They are tainted by their brush with the underworld, and gain a physical deformity - a scaled hand, a snakelike tail, etc. When normal humans see it, they are disgusted, and recoil from it, providing social penalties.
Seers don’t actually control their visions of the future, and sometimes gain memories of their past life. When they’re getting (or suffering, more accurately) a vision, they may faint or have a seizure or whatever else - decide on it before the game, and that’s what happens.
Seer spells are Oculus and Brutalis.
Next time: Sósyé and Yokai
Fates: Sósyé, YokaiOriginal SA post
Witch: Fated Souls
Part Four: Even More Fates
The Sósyé believe that they’ve been chosen by a group of spirits called the Reynard who are basically trickster spirits. They’re the best of the Fated at dealing with the Otherworld, and most of them were superstitious before becoming Fated. They tend to go off on wild goose chases, or play pranks or other stuff that’s annoying to their companions. However, there’s always the odd chance that something really valuable or important will come of these little side jaunts, so one can’t really discount them entirely.
The Sósyé have probably the closest relationship with their demons, and can ask the Reynard a question once per session to get guidance. However, they’re also prone to telling lies at awkward (or all) times. It happens because they get possessed by spirits—which other spirits can tell when it happens, at least, so there’s that much going for them—they’re not likely to screw things up with negotiations with a spirit…much. Most spirits still don’t really approve of someone without the control to speak correctly.
The Sósyé spells are Zombie and Fétiche.
The Yokai are shapeshifting Fated by Oni. The Oni select only the most polite and respectful individuals. The Yokai learn to change size and shape, selecting one type of animal and being able to change into them at will. They’re masters of stealth, infiltration, and such, but they also really intensely value their privacy—it’s hard to get close to one, but if you do they’ll be friends for life.
They have a hard time empathizing with others, though, and get a social penalty to things like apologizing.
Yokai spells are Mimic, Dai, and Shó — they’re the only Fated who get three.
Short update today. Next time we’ll look at character systems like stats and stuff.