Very Busy Witches

The very busy witches are caretakers, custodians, and care workers for the communities found in the valleys between the mountains. Everyone and everything there is their business and they are looked to for answers. This is a story game about several of the challenges and problems that the very busy witches of one particular valley find themselves very busy with. The game is intended to be run with a story leader and 3 to 5 witches.

You can find a pdf version of the game with outwork and a character sheet here: LINK

World Building

The witches’ valley sits between the high peaks of many mountains and runs for 10 to 20 miles along its length. As a group decide the climate of the valley and what season it is when the story begins. Have a discussion about the amount of technology and fantasy you want in the story.

Geography and Map: The story leader provides a piece of paper and draws the rough outline of the valley down the middle. This is the valley map. The story leader then chooses the name of the river that runs along the length of the valley and names the water feature at the river’s source. The players then take turns to add a physical geographic feature to the map, take turns to add settlements and buildings, and then take turns to add important landmarks.

Society and Relationships: The story leader provides a piece of paper and writes on it the name of the valley in the centre. This is the relationship map. Around this they write the names of the most important settlements. The players then take turns to add political or social groups that have at least one connection to another item on the relationship map. The players then take turns to add a connection between items they did not introduce.

Character Generation

Each player takes an index card and writes down on it one important thing about their witches backstory and one small thing about their witches backstory. The witch should have a name and any gender or pronouns they wish. Give the witch three words that describe the first impression they give. Each witch has a signature item that is important to their identity and their craft. Work out where they live in the valley and what their home is like.


A witch has four aspects – their Pride, their Darkness, their Empathy, and their Strangeness. Give a +2 to the aspect that the witch is mostly strongly connected to. Give a -1 to the aspect the witch is weakest with. Give a +1 to the third aspect that the witch is looking to improve on. The remaining aspect is given no bonus.


This game does not concern itself with the minutiae of magic. The witches know whatever spell they feel they need to cast. Spells that affect large areas or have drastic long term effects may require special ingredients or rituals that take more than one scene to prepare.


There are many problems in the valley both small and large that the very busy witches could be busy with. Each player comes up with three “quests” that represent issues, problems, or dramas that are present in the valley. This can range from a mysterious illness, expectant parents, rival factions, unusual weather, angry trees, or magical monsters. Try to connect each quest to the valley as established. Quests are progressed through scenes. Roll a d6 to decide how many scenes a quest will have and draw that many circles on the quest. The quests are then passed to the right and that player then gives the quest an aspect that must be used during at least one of the scenes.


With everything now established, the story begins. A player chosen at random selects a quest for their witch to become involved with. Working with the story leader, they establish the scene’s location, when it is, and who else is there. When a quest is started, it is important to establish how the witch became aware of the quest. The story leader asks questions and describes responses to the witch’s actions as they work towards completing the quest. A scene ends when a major advance is made or a significant question arises. Fill in one of the circles on the quest. Witches then take their turns to start on a new quest, progress a quest, or join an existing quest.

Many busy witches can work on many quests at the same time. Quests can be concurrent and scenes on different quests don’t need to follow strict chronological order. As much time as you like can pass between scenes.

A quest is completed when all the circles are completed. As such, the last scene should provide closure for ill or good for that quest. Should the table feel that a quest needs more scenes, then additional scenes may be added. Every time a quest is completed, change or add something to one of the maps to reflect the results of the quest.


The game uses a set of moves, detailed later. As the busy witches go about their busy business, they describe their actions. If the narrative fits with the description of a move, then follow the instructions on the move. Otherwise, no dice roll is needed and the witches always succeed.

Community Standing

The very busy witches are an important part of the valley community. Their actions and successes will affect how the community will interact with them. Not everyone in the valley will be inclined to help the witches, particularly if that witch is associated with a rival faction or place. When a witch does something that people will feel strongly about and will know about, the story leader should record this on the relationship map or the witch’s character sheet. The effects of this could potentially give +1s or -1s to future dice rolls. Some examples of actions that could affect a witch’s community standing:

  • A witch gives a bully nightmares – the bully stops bullying but the community is now fearful.
  • A witch uses empathy to take on the pain of the dying – the community is now sympathetic.
  • A witch fails to stop a monster attacking the flocks – the community is now unimpressed.
  • A witch takes a side in a dispute between rivals – one group is now pleased and the other is angered.


When you focus on your self belief and public opinion, roll with Pride

On a 10+ you succeed.

On a 7-9 you succeed but must chose one:

  • You embarrassed yourself.
  • You got injured.
  • You left something unfinished.

On a 6- you fail and things get worse.

When you focus on secrets, shadows, and harmful things, roll with Darkness.

On a 10+ you succeed. 

On a 7-9 you succeed and choose one:

  • It was scary.
  • There was a blood price.
  • An unintended consequence.

On a 6- you fail and things get worse.

When you focus on the well being of others, roll with Empathy.

On a 10+ you succeed.

On a 7-9 you succeed but must choose one:

  • You sacrificed a little something of yourself.
  • You had to put someone else in danger.
  • You hurt someone’s feelings.

On a 6- you fail and things get worse.

When you focus on the different, the odd, and the weird, roll with Strangeness.

On a 10+ you succeed.

On a 7-9 you succeed and must choose one:

  • You become a little bit stranger.
  • Something in the surroundings goes a little bit odd.
  • The witch’s signature item distorts appropriately.

On a 6- you fail and things get worse.

All artwork is by Arthur Rackham and is in the public domain.