Review: Rogue Games – Witchcraft (Colonial Gothic)


Colonial Gothic: Witchcraft
Witchcraft is a sourcebook for the fantasy horror Colonial America alternate history system Colonial Gothic (powered by the 12° system) written by Richard Iorio II and published by Rogue Games with an excerpt of a publication written by King James VI.
By Aaron T. Huss

Witchcraft is the witch ritual magic book for Colonial Gothic, fully detailing everything needed for witchcraft.  On the surface, the book is designed for Game Masters to create witch non-player characters as the mechanics are not designed for player character use. Due to the quick downward spiral of sanity related to witchcraft, player’s would lose their characters quite fast. However, there is a second use for this sourcebook in the hands of players: witch hunters. Essentially, Witchcraft is the quintessential handbook for witch NPCs and witch hunter PCs.

WITCHCRAFT

Part 1 of Witchcraft is dedicated to fully describing and detailing the use of witchcraft within Colonial Gothic. Due to the amount of sanity loss through the practice of witchcraft, these mechanics are designed for non-player character creation in the hands of the Game Master and not for player character use. Is a player character delved into witchcraft, they would lose their sanity quickly, become insane,  and be handed over to the GM as a new NPC. These details include the history of witches, three books where information concerning witches can be learned (along with in-game mechanics), and of course all the mechanics for creating these characters along with their rituals. Almost 20 rituals are detailed with an excellent amount of detail.

So why would a player ever need this book? If you plan to create a character labeled as a witch hunter or equivalent, you will need the correct tome that tells about that which you hunt and what to expect. You can learn of the different spells witches use and come up with role-playing methods of overcoming them. In addition, you can use the information to create a background designed to build upon that witch hunter role. It also makes great adventure hooks.

DAEMONOLOGIE

Part 2 of Witchcraft contains a collection of excerpts from the Daemonologie: in forme of a dialogue book written by King James VI. The content is written in 16th century English and is a bit tricky to read. It’s an interesting look at how witchcraft and sorcery were viewed during the late 1500’s. It is essentially opinion content with no real facts, but it definitely makes incorporating witchcraft into Colonial Gothic a bit more realistic considering the Colonial America aspect of the setting.

OVERALL

I really like Witchcraft. Not because I like witches, but because I like the incorporation of ritual magic that is so corrupting that player characters are advised to not dabble with it. The in-game mechanics help to enhance the fantasy horror aspect of the setting and gives the player characters a new secret society to deal with. For it is plainly stated within Witchcraft that real witches hide in the shadows and are not part of the witch trials. They are something much more dangerous and mysterious than what the colonies understand.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Witchcraft has a simple, clear, and easy-to-follow layout and presentation. There are some good looking illustrations and the overall publication is easy on the eyes. Rogue Games consistently utilizes simple layouts that are not only functional but make reading that much easier.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
When you apply the source material and in-game mechanics to both sides of the witch (witch NPCs and hunter PCs), the outcome is a wealth of quality in-game material with plenty of use in many Colonial Gothic adventures and campaigns. When you consider the folklore of witchcraft throughout Colonial America, this sourcebook is a perfect fit.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Considering what Witchcraft is designed for, it’s has as much value as one needs to be incorporated into your games. The only drawback is its NPC design and possible, hidden witch hunter use. If additional material was included to embrace the witch hunter aspect, then players would really get a lot of value out of the book. However, you can still use it just by reading between the lines.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Witchcraft is a great addition to Colonial Gothic for a very specific purpose. It is not designed to be used across all adventures or campaigns but contains all the pertinent information for GMs who wish to incorporate witchcraft into their games. It is essentially a small add-on to Colonial Gothic that is not required for general play nor will it ever break the game should it be utilized.

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