Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood

Worm Witch is the latest adventure from Knight Owl publishing and delves further into the setting established in their book Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia. Worm Witch continues the zany fantasy of the original but aims to refine and provide more structure to the world of meat and chaos.

The book has already been funded on Kickstarter, and is pushing for some exciting stretch goals. You can find the kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dragonstabber/worm-witch-the-life-and-death-of-belinda-blood

The book comes in at around 75 pages and is divided into three sections:
- Two new classes.
- The island setting of Annalida.
- A worm bestiary.


The Classes 


Worm Witch adds two new classes which should be compatible (like the rest of the book) with most OSR systems.

Worm Witch 


I’m pretty open that I think most classes people dream up are garbage. So many authors that I usually love have swung and missed when trying to make new and interesting classes. Whether the issue is balance, setting restrictive flavor, or simply uninteresting mechanics, most classes outside of the basics fall way short of being playable.

So how does the Worm witch stack up? Very well actually. The Worm Witch is considered to be a cleric and falls firmly into the druid archetype. They are deeply baked into the lore, and have great flavor. A great spell list and some nice level-locked class abilities make the witch a very attractive class to play. Much like the classic AD&D Druid, the Worm Witch has nature and animal flavored spells with effects that give it some cleric and some wizard abilities. The spells and abilities are interesting and powerful enough to make it tempting to play, but are not so powerful as to make magic users or clerics obsolete.

The spell list is pure gold. Huge props here. Though they are all excellent, the spell “Split” jumped out at me immediately as being simple and genius. I'm pretty sure I will be offering the Worm Witch as a class in my next campaign (though perhaps with some light reskinning).


Worm Warden 


The wardens serve the witches as guardians and protectors but have some pretty cool abilities of their own. The Wardens fall into the AD&D ranger slot pretty naturally, with foraging abilities and a daily cantrip. It’s a simple class that gets the job done. With fewer hitpoints than a fighter, it feels balanced and can offer a party quite a bit that no other class can.


The Island 


The Isle of Annalida is a wonderfully fleshed (haha) out location with some real flavor. The island feels alive, and the ongoing war feels perfect for an enterprising party to take part in, or take advantage of.

The island is large and forgoes hex-crawl for simple naming and detailing important locations. These locations and encounters are excellent and fresh, fitting the flavor perfectly. The book nicely avoids some common wilderness crawl pitfalls, and never feels repetitive or phoned-in.

This is definitely not a low-prep adventure/campaign to run. The book is designed to be an open-ended sandbox, with key hooks and devices being left to the referee to employ as they see fit rather than being tied to specific locations or triggers. There is lots of room to add additional hooks, locations, and dungeons as you see fit. I immediately saw a great opportunity to add The Monolith Beyond Space and Time to the island.

Worm Witch does a great job of getting right into the action without pages of lore or losing context. Journal entries on nearly every page of the book provide wonderful background info and could even be used as an in-game item to help guide the players.

Conclusion 


Worm Witch is a great book for anyone looking for some new OSR classes, a new setting, or who runs sandbox campaigns and could use some new inspiration. This is a great book at a great value. $20 for the basic hardcover backer level is some of the best value I’ve seen recently, as hardcover book prices creep upwards. The art that I’ve seen so far is excellent, and the layout is not going to disappoint.

My only real complaint is the references to the first book in the series, Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia. There are several places in the book where a spell or class is listed that can only be found in the other text. I understand that Worm Witch serves as a sequel of sorts, but I feel there could be a better way to handle this, such as including the needed content in the text. For this reason, I highly recommending backing at the $15 level to get PDFs of Chaos gods and Wurm Witch. Or, backing at the $50 level to hardcover and PDF copies of each.

The Kickstarter ends on June 12th. Click here to back this project!

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Review: Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood

Worm Witch is the latest adventure from Knight Owl publishing and delves further into the setting established in their book Chaos Gods Come ...