Interview with Timothy Brannan

Timothy Brannan is the author of the new Kickstarter published by Christina Stiles, Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock

Hello, Mr.  Brannan.  Thank you for taking the time out to interview with us.

It is my pleasure and thank you for having me here.

First and foremost, tell us a little about yourself, your gaming experience and your writing experience?

Well, like most writers, I can say, “I have been writing my whole life,” but that is not all of it.  I have been playing RPGs since around 1979 when I got a hold of a badly xeroxed copy of the Holmes D&D Basic set.  My first real game came later when I got a copy of the Moldvay D&D Basic set.  I have been playing ever since.  My first attempt at writing was a Healer class that I wrote for myself mostly.  My very first witch class was from around 1986 or so.  I pretty much haven’t stopped writing since.  I have written a number of witch or magic related books. I worked on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Ghosts of Albion with Amber Benson (who played my favorite witch Tara) and freelancing gigs for a few companies. 

By day I design curriculum for universities. Prior to that I was a Statistics professor.  I live in the suburbs of Chicago with my wife of 19 years and my two sons. They both love playing D&D with their dad!

What is Strange Brew to you?

Strange Brew actually began for me a number of years ago.  I had all this great witch-related material laying around, somewhat literally to my wife’s chagrin.  I have always loved writing about witches, magic and the supernatural, so much so that I had collected three binders full of notes.  I started collecting them together and realized I had hundreds of pages of stuff.   The new witch class came out for Pathfinder and I tried it and I had a lot of fun, but it felt like it was missing some things.  As it turned out I had those things on my hard drives.  Christina and I knew each other from back in the Buffy and early d20 days.  She was looking to update the wonderful Way of the Witch from Citizen Games that she had worked on and came to me.  I turned around and handed her nearly 500 pages worth of materials.  Together we have been going through it all and realized we had something really awesome here.  We have recruited some more help and decided to make the ultimate book for anyone playing any type of witch character for Pathfinder.

This book really is the effort of nearly 13 years worth of writing, editing, play testing and thought.  I am not likely to ever produce something this big and encompassing again.  Everything I know is going into this book somewhere. The DNA of this book is not just d20 but it goes back to that day in 1979 when I first opened up the Monster Manual and knew everything was going to be much more interesting from then on.

What inspired you to write Strange Brew?

I guess to be honest I was less inspired and more driven.  Like I mentioned, I had been collecting material and writing notes for years.  During my 3.x games with my kids I would write notes on how the witch NPCs or PCs dealt with the encounters or situations.  I would read pretty much any modern supernatural book on the market and I would, as my habit, jot notes down on the book mark I was using.  I have binders of notes, and I got a new one last night ready to go.  So all of this information was there, just begging me to do something with it.   Strange Brew won’t be released as much as it will escape from me.

What are you most proud of in this product?

That is hard to say really. There is so much. I love the new spells I have put in there and think they give the witch something above and beyond “wizards with black cats and brooms.”  Honestly, I think my favorite part is the fact that the book is so complete. Everything you need to play a witch is here. No other book is needed.

Why witches?  What attracts you to this subject and role playing them?

That is a very good question.  I was a kid in the 70s and 80s so I was influenced by the big 70s Occult Revival and 80s Satanic Panic.  I thought they were very interesting cultural touch points. Since that was also the time I was playing RPGs the most, I always bundled them together in my mind.  I also watched hundreds of horror movies as a kid, so witches, ghosts, vampires, and all that stuff belonged in my games.  Vampires, ghosts and werewolves were there already, but witches were not.

My favorite characters were always the witches. The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Angelique (from Dark Shadows) – these were the women that I adored when I was young.  Witches in fantasy are never the helpless maiden. Sure they are often evil, but never helpless. I like strong heroes and heroines. I have never been interested in the giant barbarian with massive thews. Give me the cunning woman, the sly trickster, the occult scholar sitting in his dark study, the captivating and magical girl.

Both Rachel Boston (@rachelboston), of Witches of East End and Katia Winter (@katia_winter), who plays Katrina Crane on Fox’s new Sleepy Hollow, recently tweeted that “Witches are the new Vampires,” and I feel that is true.  Witches have never been more popular. In recent years we had Charmed and now American Horror Story: Coven, Sleepy Hollow, Witches of East End and soon Salem all on TV.  True Blood has had its own witches and we must never forget Willow and Tara from Buffy.

Can we look forward to more tomes such as these?

I know there is a Shaman book in the works from Christina and from my conversations with the author it should be every bit as cool as this book.  For me personally, I have a lot of freelancer projects out there and I would love to do something more with Vampires or Demons.  I love the dark supernatural stuff and, like the witch, I have a ton of material on them.

Thanks again and good luck with your Kickstarter.

Thanks so much! It has certainly been a fun experience.