My journey to WITCH began with an email from the creator Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, from Angry Hamster Publishing, asking if I and my fellow contributors at Her Story Arc would be interested in trying out her freshly drafted TTRPG. Having no experience playing an out-of-the-box TTRPG before, I said yes immediately, and rounded up the Twin Cities, Minnesota Her Story Arc crew.
Thus it was that on a cold March night we delved into the dark magic and mystery of WITCH. I volunteered to be game master for my fellow Her Story Arc contributors Tina, Celia, and Lindsay, as well as two seasoned TTRPG players from my DnD group.
From the very beginning the description captivated us:
WITCH is a dark, modern fantasy tabletop role playing game that centres around the Fated, who have sold their soul to a demon and received strange new magical powers in return. Those powers are the key to a world hidden within our own, it has its own rules and is governed by an ancient Council.
Will your character barter away their soul out of despair or ambition? As a player you get to choose with which kind of demon you have given your soul to and thus to which Fate your character belongs. Each Fate has its own unique Spells, advantages and play style.
Our first session took us through half of the story. The players navigated the modern-day world while trying to unravel the mysterious events they stumbled into. Coming from a mainly fantasy TTRPG style, I found the modern, urban setting refreshing and fun. The pop culture references flew back and forth across the table. When my players wanted to hot wire a car, I made it a DeLorean.
As the Game Master I found the description and detail very thorough. We all enjoyed the (sometimes grisly) poetic narrative that I read out loud, as well as the quirky character stories that the non-playable characters revealed. When I returned to my DnD homegrown campaign I wrote up descriptive narrative modeled after the format used in WITCH, and my players loved it. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever DM/GM the same way again.
I also really enjoyed the simplification of the character sheet and game mechanics. I love DnD, but sometimes the rules bog down the game play. I did not experience this while playing WITCH.
This week we met for a second session and finished the story. Being the
impulsive inquisitive people that we are, I ended up reading out both versions of the ending. The vote was overwhelmingly for the path of evil. Which, honestly, doesn’t surprise me given how most of the RPG games I’ve played go. It’s like asking your players to choose between cake or death.
Here is what Celia had to say about her first experience playing an RPG:
It was hard for me to keep all my character information in my head. I kept forgetting cool or useful things my character could do – or being really excited to do something cool (ex. summon beast!) but never rolling a high enough number. I liked having interesting details like my Prestige, where I got to make up my back story, or my disadvantage of being too passionate. I liked pretending to be a character and thinking how they might act out each situation.
WITCH is also Lindsay’s first time playing an TTRPG, and she saw parallels with her video game experiences:
Unlike the nice UI that comes with the typical RPG game, table top games like the WITCH can be difficult to navigate requiring the player to keep information on paper and in their head. The story can be slower compared to the average RPG due to the real-time engagement of the players. It was enjoyable, however, to have a back story for each character providing opportunities to role-play. For me, the role-playing portion was a lot like cosplay in which you could embody another character (in fact, I’m sure some people do dress up for table-tops). The Djinn character reflected many of the stealth-assassin qualities I often play in RPGs, though the abilities were often shadowed by a similar character which made it difficult to fully access the Djinn’s potential.
This was Tina’s second RPG, but given how different WITCH plays from her previous DnD campaign, she had some things to say about it:
I enjoyed the new character angles of witches and non-fantasy creatures. I liked my voodoo priestess character. I also enjoyed that we all live together because of our Fated nature. The [spoiler censor!] was intriguing especially when we went back to [spoiler censor!]. I enjoyed the variety of weapons and spells that are not based only in the fantasy world.
And we are not alone in our enjoyment of this new role playing world! I am happy to announce that WITCH surpassed its Kickstarter goal and raised 15,899 euros. Keep your eyes and ears open and alert as WITCH enters its way into mainstream TTRPGs. (Wait, is the phrase “mainstream TTRPG” oxymoronic?” lol)
This is a fun, dark-hearted world to play in, and I plan to return to it soon.
PS. I would be remiss if I didn’t link to this video one of the seasoned TTRPG players kept referencing the entire time we were playing. It’s pretty damn funny.
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