Thursday, March 1, 2012

Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham

Winter Witch is a fantasy novel by Elaine Cunningham set in the Pathfinder setting. It's a done in one that introduces new characters and provides some brief exploration of the setting. I'm going to hit real quick on a few things.

First, damn am I old. A paperback that runs $9.99 eh? A fantasy paperback that runs $9.99 eh? Ah well, at Amazon it's part of their 3 for 4 bit so that's not too bad. No kindle version eh? Let me get this straight, a relatively new line of fiction that is not taking advantage of every possible revenue stream and on the Paizo site, charging $6.99? Sure, it's available in PDF and you get an ePub version with it. I'm using a 3rd party app on my Toshiba Tablet to read it in ePub version. I bought my e-copy as part of a 2 for 3 deal so once again, I'm not feeling too bad but at this point, I would never pay that much for a ebook. Cheap? Stupid? Whatever. I'm the customer. I could've bought it at Half-Price for $2.50 not that long ago but I'm getting more and more into e-books.

Two, when the main character joins a caravan. He doesn't do so as a guard, but rather as a passenger. That was slightly different. What make the scene stand out to me though, was the caravan master asking him if he was worried about being killed and all his possessions taken. The caravan 'people' are the stand ins for the Gypsies of the setting so yeah, that's possible, but it struck me as something I personally haven't worked into any of my own games and something that could easily be a quick encounter.

Such a scenario could occur in a few ways. There is the unassuming method where the party is just hiring on as guards for the caravan and then once away from civilization, they get ambushed by the people they've been paid to protect.

Another scenario could occur if a relative of a former guard comes by the characters and hires them to investigate the caravan. Now the players have a reason and a potential payoff at the end of it. The players could even have a relative who is also an adventurer whose disappeared the last time this caravan went off and now have to find out what actually happened.

Another option may be that the caravan isn't actually doing the dirty work themselves. They are hiring adventurers and taking them down a path that leads to a very dangerous encounter and the caravan master sends scouts ahead that inform the monsters of what the players can do and where they're at and recommends some strategy to them based on how the players act and what they do up to that point.

The last thing (for this post!) that I thought was interesting was the Nolanders. Different tribes of barbarians get rid of the undesirables by banishing them to dark and dangerous places. So what happens when these murderers, betrayers, and most vile of the vile get together? It's like a Warhammer Marauder tribe with cannibalism and raiding becoming the norm. I thought for a second it was a weird spelling on Northlander because of where one of the characters comes from, but nope, it's No Lander and wherever they go, it makes it a no-man's land. A great bit when you want to throw real savages at the players.

Winter Witch has some good stuff to it and gives some nice details to the Pathfinder setting. Worth a read if it's in your comfortable purchase price zone.