Witch Hunter

jedion357's picture
June 6, 2010 - 8:53pm
Well I'm going to inflict this on you all... what you get for being the absolute first class community on the web for bouncing RPG ideas off of.

Wargaming club has the itch to run an RPG night again after a 1.5 year hiatus and they want to play Witch Hunter; the Unseen World (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Salem Witch trials and a hefty dose of darkness and a lot of religious elements included)  We did paly this before till key people got all irritated with the GM then it was abandoned.

Any how, yours truly has vollunteered to GM it and I spent a day driving thinking about what I was going to do.

When we played before the GM didn't really include any witches as enemies going in for demonic and Babylonian god types etc. So I thought to totally embrace everything that the historic personages surrounding the Salem Witch trials believed about witches ie: a witches teet (a third tit) that was used to suckle the devil etc.

Since there are religious elements to the game I figure that you have to have a prophecy. Something with clues in it to be unravelled.

My basic idea is that 20 years prior when a witch hysteria was going on in salem and confessions were being extorted via torture a real witch was scooped up and accused- except that she had a real witches teet and had been suckling a demon right along with her own child.

She's killed with some spooky occurance during or after the execution and her child disappears. Nobody in Salem will talk about it.

Fast forward to Boston on the day that the PCs are about to be thrown into the adventure: a Minister in Boston is brutally and rituallistically killed in his church. the call goes out for witch hunters to solve the mystery.

The deal is that the coven of the killed witch is still around and has groomed the missing child to be ___?____ something of importance (2nd coming of Carrie or etc.) and she is now in her early 20's. the coven is now exacting revenge on all the principles involved in the witch trials 20 years earlier with the caveat that most of these targets have gone on to fame and fortune since or because of the witch trials: the important minister who was the lowly parish preacher, the magistrate who is now the Governor of MA Bay Colony, the jailor who is just a drunk and still the jailor in Salem, wealthy land owners who profited by accusing people of witch craft and scooped up their lands for a song after they were dead, the attorny that prosecuted the trial and is now a big time lawyer in Boston.

Each stage of the adventure, is the crime scene of a new murder but it will be obvious that each murder is connected so that the witch hunters are called. eventually they should beging to figure the connection between all these people- the famouse witch trail which will lead to Salem.

I've been running down ancient maps of Boston- because historically 3 hills were leveled and used to fill Back Bay for more land and even the map of Boston drawn by the British military to show their military dispositions during the ACW is super cool and quite stunningly different from what I know of modern Boston. also runnign down antique maps of Salem

One other idea I'm toying with is that the ancient site of boston had signs of ancient indain occupation so and MA has evidence of Viking visitors that is little known: viking head stones and the Dighton Stone with its Runic inscription) so I was thinking to have the coven raise the dead or ghosts from Indian, Viking and Puritan graves to attack the PCs during the early parts of the adventure The climax being the taking down of the coven.

Wrap this campaign then either run a few more adventures or just cut to the chase and tell the PCs to age their characters 20 years and give them x ammount of exp to spend and run a new adventure where remnants of the coven have raised the virgin daughter of the previous 20 year old and now they come looking for the PCs for revenge- the first murder is an NPC that aided them and he's killed in the same brutal ritualistic fashion so that they recognize it.

so that what I came up with in 10 hours of driving on Saturday, what do you all think?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Inigo Montoya's picture
Inigo Montoya
June 7, 2010 - 6:47am

That sounds pretty cool. I’ve never played an RPG within an historical setting. I like it. Perhaps the original witch could have unusual elements involved in her execution. Maybe specific wounds like eyes burned out with hot pokers or her flesh branded with a specific symbol before her death. Those wounds could show up on future victims. Or perhaps her grave or place of execution is over grown with a specific and rare plant/flower (the uglier and smellier the better) and seeds, leaves, or blooms from that plant are found on the victims. These things are done intentionally draw the connection between the witch and the victims. Maybe each victim has something unique about their fate that still ties back. Perhaps the jailer made sport by binder her hands and feet while suspending her from the ceiling head down into a bucket of water. Sort of a colonial water boarding event. His body could be found staged in the same manner. Using unique aspects will make it a little more challenging to find the link.   


Do you have plans for the demon baby she was nursing? I can’t imagine a demon would much care what happened to her personally. Maybe he could be the one to deliver (or remind them of) the prophesy. He could be a red hearing or just a thorn in the side as well.


I wouldn’t just age them 20 yrs all at once. I have seldom wanted to lose a character and always longed for more game development of mine. If you could, I would suggest aging them a few years and then having at least some small, unrelated adventure for them. After four or five of these the 20 years would have passed and they are good to go. You still may want to pad some xp for the years skipped. This is also a good way to give them unique or special equipment that they may need to use. “Remember that iron dirk with the amethyst in the hilt that you found during that event at Chappawatic Manor? Now is a good time to dig it out.”

Ascent's picture
June 7, 2010 - 4:48pm
Excellent campaign setting. The other GM's idea sounded pretty lame, at least from the one sentence description. "Deities & Demigods" should stay in mythological settings. This is a witch setting, and I find a clear difference between popular superstitions (based on fear) and myth (based on heroic exploits). Witches are very clearly popular superstition and shouldn't be mixed with myth.

I think you have the makings of an excellent campaign there, and I'm actually sad that I can't be a part of it. I hope it does well for you and your group.
View my profile for a list of articles I have written, am writing, will write.
"It's yo' mama!" —Wicket W. Warrick, Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
"That guy's wise." —Logray, Star Wars Ep.VI: Return of the Jedi
Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? - Felicia Day (The Guild)

jedion357's picture
June 7, 2010 - 9:42pm
@ Ascent: At the time I didn't think much of the babylonian diety interlude and it never got resolved as we abandoned the game and the GM stopped participating altogether.

But having read more of the rules since its really about the PCs opposing the "adversary" which is a just a nicer name for Satan. Its likely that the past GM was just not interested in discussing satan for what ever reason.

We also had a player who was sort of playing an atheist amer indian PC too (though that was more rooted in his own personal prejudices)

@Inigo: concerning aging- I have a feeling that the group will only maintain attention in it for so long- so if we can get through a hand full of months (with 2  sessions/ month) I'm guessing that we'll complete 1 campaign which will be the original and if that happens I just dont expect much more-

which is why I liked the idea of age the PCs 20 years and hey guess what just happened to that NPC that helped you out so much?

Ideally I'd prefer to have a number of adventures then throw the "its 20yrs latter" thing but having an NPC get obviously ganked by the coven with the implication that their PCs must be next could be just high enought stakes to keep interest for one more full campaign. But I guess that we'll still need to get through the first campaign.

I am planning for some sins to have been committed by the principles in the first witch trials
- land owner's sin is greed
- maybe the jailor actually raped the prisoners
-might have to dust off the 7 deadly sins and work one in for each target of the coven.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
June 10, 2010 - 5:02am
As I tear into the history of boston to ascertain what was actually here and what was not Its difficult to get good info off the net at least, need to hit the library.

did find some really cool maps of Boston from the 1700's, one is a British army map showing their military dispositions for the Rev War. which is very enlightening.

There is oportunity for an enterprising individual to do some work and write a setting book for Witch Hunter players.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
January 24, 2011 - 5:38pm
I love the idea behind this game (very Solomon Caine) but the freaking rules stink.
The basic mechanic isnt bad but the rest of the system is clunky and unwieldly and very very very non-referee friendly.

I have officially stopped playing it unless I can get motivated to covert it to SF rules and mechanic
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
January 25, 2011 - 8:34am
Savage Worlds would fit this type of genre easily, fyi.
Core book is $9.99