The Village and the Witch (2018)
by Davide Pignedoli
Published by Daimon Games
|The Village and the Witch|
Underwater Basketweaving, you say? Not that specific, but kinda-sorta. The product on review here is a brief toolkit to randomly generate adventures concerning an Early Modern village, a witch with evil designs, and various details to connect the two and instigate a catastrophic conflict. Kindling table not included. Now, this is certainly a specific product. You need to be running LotFP (or Davide’s rather interesting variant of it, published in the Black Dogs zine), pre-derp WFRP, or something sharing their basic assumptions to find this useful. This is not going to fill in the details between B2 and X1. If you want to burn some witches, though, it is practically what your friendly plague doctor ordered.
The procedure works with die drop tables. You roll all your polyhedra, and while the die results determine the individual elements of the adventure (from village layout and buildings to the specifics and peculiarities of the case), their positioning determines how these elements are connected. This provides a simple, yet adaptable framework to run the adventure, in both the physical and non-physical sense. For instance, rolling 3 on the 1d10 table establishes that the witch is aided by a crippled veteran, and lives at the location where the d10 stops on your sheet of paper. A similar set of procedures lets you create the witch (since we live in modern, or at least Early Modern times, xir gender can be male, female, both or none). This take on witches makes them more of a monster than an NPC, since they plainly exist outside the regular rule framework, with some pretty snazzy evil powers. Their goals, sadly, are fairly simplistic, revolving around killing a lot of people and destroying their opposition. Mechanics are provided to “manage” the spreading influence of the witch, and the local attempts to put a stop to it, complete with false accusations and such. This replaces plot fiat (“on day 3, the witch will kill the local miller”) with a GM-facing minigame and more dice rolling. The other half of the supplement goes into details on general local NPCs who may get involved, random stories, and magic items and spells. There is a two-page discussion on hammering the square peg of D&Desque Lawful – Neutral – Chaotic alignment into the round hole of Early Modern Christianity, and it works exactly as well as you would suspect. Was Jesus Chaotic? The answer may surprise you.
How does it stack up? The results of the random generation system, while nothing out of the ordinary, are robust. The suggestions to make it work are sensible. It is not a packaged adventure, but it is a module (in the original sense). You can create the basics for a good witch-hunt with a little rolling, and connecting the dots. However, flaws are also apparent in the supplement’s construction. It is all about the outlines; the depth is missing, and it does not go beyond stereotype (unless we consider the interesting implication that going by the results, there is always a witch somewhere nearby). There are also limits to the variety of the content that can be generated. Good random generators have wide applicability; this one is good for perhaps three small scenarios before it starts repeating itself. Good enough? Not enough? It is somewhere on the boundary.
The Village and the Witch is a specific product for a specific kind of game. I personally prefer the reliable old Hexenhammer, but when you want to do some decent community witchburning, this one will certainly do a good job. In the general sense, it is a product that could open up the possibilities for similar, although hopefully more detailed supplements. The die drop mechanism has potential as a plot generator, if its simplifications can be corrected.
Burn, baby, burn!
Rating: *** / *****
|Wholesome Family Entertainment|