Witches (1990)

Witches (1990) more fully embodies the new look and feel of the Role Aids line’s second wave. That AD&D disclaimer is way small now (and that size would be one reason TSR eventually sued Mayfair in 1993). The corner logo is still there, but the title treatment for the book isn’t standardized and the cover art, by Chill mainstay Joe De Velasco, is original for the first time since the early ‘80s. Inside, the illustrations are by Roger Raup, which gives this book a consistent level of quality that is a real treat. This is also the last book to use the single accent color, which is a shame, but it does it well.

The book tackles a nice variety of witchcraft modes, from Dianic traditions to more modern systems like the Heremetic, to the fictional witchcraft of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels. It is the first Role Aids book that, which still technically a D&D book, seems entirely unconcerned with being D&D, if that makes sense. Very little of Raup’s illustrations conform to fantasy tropes. The White Wolf World of Darkness games weren’t out yet, but this feels similarly inspired (by Vertigo comics and growing pre-millennial tensions, probably). There is a glimmer here of a whole different way to play D&D that perhaps informs D20 Modern down the line.

And, taken on the merits, it’s a mighty fine resource for translating the flavor of real-world magical systems into RPG terms!

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