Saturday, October 26, 2013

Feats of Ability

Feats of Anything

I started thinking about the HackMaster 5e Feat of Strength and Feat of Agility.  In essence, they are replacing old fashioned ability checks but adjusts the curve a bit.  Take a look at the following chart.

Under the the classic roll equal to or under scenario.   
Ability is d20p+ability score is higher than d20p.   
Feat is d20p+"feat of " score higher than d20p.

Under and Ability are too linear (excluding the lumps) for my tastes and therefore kind of boring.  Most folks are going to have average stats,  so only the middle portion is going to be super interesting and lo and behold, the Feat category has the best curve.  My proposition is simple - replace all ability check activities with Feat Of checks.  It is a simple mechanic that works all over.

Saving Throw vs Magic

The saving throw modifiers are significant;y smaller than the feat modifiers.  Additionally, they only apply to saving throws vs magic of a particular type.  Therefore the saving throws can remain unchanged.  It already works.  I do miss the variety of saving throws from old school D&D but I don't believe this is actually any sort of flaw or problem.

Saving Throw vs. Poison & Disease

For whatever reason, this one in HackMaster 5e is different.  Roll d20p+Con vs. Virulence (a set value).  This produces a pretty boring curve, so why not chance this to a Feat of Constitution?  Because honestly it gets into some complicated math that I really just don't want to deal with.  I haven't used enough poison and disease to get a good feel and honestly, if it ain't broken (and I doubt it is) then don't fix it.

Feat Of Ability Difficulties

That leads to the question of How to assign difficulties to Feats of Ability.  Without a lot of fancy math, some guidelines based on average ability scores can be seen on the table to the right.

I haven't used this in play, but it is, overall, a simple unified mechanic.  If a PC is showing off their new haircut, Feat of Looks to see if anyone is impressed.  Having a philisophical argument?  Feat of Wisdom ... or even feat of wisdom vs feat of intelligence.  For that matter, Strength vs Dexterity could be used in a wrestling match, Charisma vs Intelligence to charm someone trying to not be charmed.

The Feats of Ability could be combined with the characters skills (add the numerical rank 0 - 5) to the feat roll.  and voila.  Natural ability gets you pretty far, but some actual training and skill really puts it over the edge.  That  might devalue skills too much, but it is worth thinking about.
Really Hard+624%

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Enemies of Man [EoM_04]

Red Knights
At great battles, places of carnage, or simply in a place where violence is yet to come one can find a red knight.  As no more than a single knight has been seen at one time, it cannot be said for certain that there are more than a single knight, but difference in their armor and fighting styles seem to indicate that the red knights are legion.

Standing near 7' tall and clad in red enameled plate armor, the red knights are fearsome foes.  The red knight will challenge who it judges to be the most worthy combatant and will never yield once battle has begun.  The danger is that understanding who the red knight believes is the most worthy combatant is often not understood.  They call out their challenge, but a seemingly innocent green soldier may face a red knight's wrath while a veteran may be ignored.

When it comes to the end, red knights are men, just powerful, dangerous men.  Their armor is enchanted, their blades too sharp and swift to not be, and their aggressive unyielding manner a terror.  But they fight fairly once engaged, following some code of chivalry, and will even wait for an opponent to reclaim a fallen weapon before setting on them again.  While not inherently evil, red knights are known to associate with Mind Wizards, and like them, their lair or home is unknown.

Folk of Scales brutal and barely civilized lizardmen and the mutant half-snake half-man Yauni are known collectively as the Folk of Scales.  Lizardmen squat in crude villages among the swamps and wetlands of the world hunting everything for both food and blood-soak rituals dedicated to their scale-and-feathered god Quetz.  While a few can be communicated with from time to time, they are untrustworthy allies and hunger for the flesh of mammals (which includes the PCs).  The lizardmen war amongst themselves as well - bloody feuds between tribes that no outsider can distinguish have lasted for generations.  They are immune to poisons, but because of this they have some of the most deadly poisons at their disposal.  Even a small wound from a lizardman should be carefully examined.
The Yauni are a strange breed of man-and-snake, their forms mutated and variable.  Some are entirely human save for serpentine eyes, while others have fanged snake heads, and others writhing coils instead of bodies.  Living on barges and boars along the swampy coast, the Yauni have a strange and revered place among Galresian society - providing drugs that provide visions and ecstasy.  They trade in dark magics and are thought of as prophets and blessed by the gods. 

They are a constant and seedy side to society that brings little other than ill omens.  They are not friends of man, but coexist (at least within their place).  Perhaps it is the drugs, maybe the prophecy, or possibly the magic that keeps them tethered to human society.

Berserk Pack so filled with the rage of battle they have lost what little aspects of humanity they may have once had.  Wearing leather armor made from their human victims and wielding whatever cobbled and looted weapons they can get their hands on, berserks roam in packs and lust for blood and battle.  They cannot be dissuaded from their course of violence and yammer only about death to their enemies ... which appear to be everyone.

The berserk are hollow men - humans who have let the dungeon into their mind to swarm and devour and direct.  They are filled with hate and delight in not just battle, but the bloody humiliation and bodily destruction of their foes.  The darkness of the dungeon has turned them into monsters. 

Some file their teeth to points, others drive bone fragments into their flesh to be "more brutal", many have scarred themselves in strange patterns, and almost all of them are covered in "dungeon tattoos".  These strange markings appear to be some sort of black fungus that grows in sharp, swirling patterns just under the skin.  The eyes of a berserk are just as often rheumy and blind as they are red with unblinking hate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dungeon Doors

One Thing in 3.5e That I Like

I'm not a huge fan of 3.x D&D and beyond.  I'm not going to get into any sort of Edition War rant - it just wasn't a game for me.  Even with that in mind, there are a few things they did that I liked.  One thing is describing dungeon doors  in a bit more detail.  Mostly because my players are always trying to circumnavigate doors by bashing them in and whatnot. 

I'm updating the dungeon door material from 3.whatever to HackMaster (HMB and 5e for those keeping track).  I didn't feel the need to add all of the super weirdo types of doors (plant, void, etc.) from the supplements because honestly, if PCs encounter one of those types of doors, something strange is afoot and they will either completely avoid the door or try things that no rules could cover.


The hit points and DR of a door can be made variable, but it really doesn't matter.  When a player is attempting to hack down a door with weapons, the door still gets a 1d8p defense roll to see if any damage is done at all and is treated like a shield when the hit is a success.  Fumbled attacks (which is why there is an attack roll) always damage a weapon when attacking doors.

Bashing down a door is an opposed Feat of Strength roll.  Each attempt after the first is a cumulative +3 to the GM's roll.  Locked doors add between +2 (crap lock) and +5 (great lock); barring the door adds +4 to the GM's roll.

In all circumstances hacking, battering, or bashing down a door is loud and will cause a random encounter check with each attempt.
1d20 MaterialHP DR   Bash 
1 - 3 Wood, Simple2510 +0
4 - 6 Wood, Good3511+3
7 - 13 Wood, Strong5012+6
14 - 15 Stone10016+10
16 Iron10020+15
17 Steel 200  25+20
18 Portcullis, Wood  2011+8
 19 - 20   Portcullis, Iron8513+16

In any given dungeon roll to see if dungeon doors open (1-3) into rooms or (4-6) into hallways.  Between rooms or hallways the GM should determine based on the overall layout.  All dungeon doors are reinforced so you can't get at the hinges - they aren't wussy doors like you have in your house today.  They are bad ass and tough as hell.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pit Traps

Quick Rules for Finding Pit Traps

I love pit traps.  LOVE 'EM!  My players are well aware of my pit trap love and are always trying to keep an eye out for them, so I have some quick rules I use for PCs noticing them.

Just walking along: you won't know until too late
Using a 10' pole: 1 in 6
Moving cautiously: 1 in 6
Moving cautiously and with a 10' pole: 1-2 in 6
Someone trained in identifying traps with a 10' pole: 1-2 in 6
Someone trained in identifying traps and moving cautiously and with a 10' pole: 1-3 in 6
Everything else: you won't know until too late

Moving Cautiously is really slow - about half the normal dungeon exploration speed.  This doesn't seem like a big deal until the number of Random Encounter checks double ... and I don't pull punches with wussy random encounters.

Of course, the pit traps don't always open automatically - grotty old pit traps generally open up and swallow an unfortunate soul on a roll of 1-3 in 6.  Fresh ones open on a 1-5 in 6.  So those folks up front with the poles and the skills who are looking might miss the traps and the mage so desperately secreted in the middle of the party might still end up in the hole.


Depending on the specifics, pit traps get a 1d4-1 initiative roll against the party members.  If the trap "goes first" you end up in the hole.  PCs who win initiative get a saving throw (Feat of Agility vs d20p+0) to avoid falling into the pit.   Running or being otherwise distracted negates the avoidance chance.

Being Tied Off

One of my players is pretty clever and always has a rope handily tied around his waist to avoid the worst of a pit trap fall (his characters have been the victim many times over).  This will negate the damage form the fall a bit, but Rope Use comes into play as does a Feat of Strength for the person (or persons) on the other end of the rope.  Also, it doesn't mitigate all of the damage (a sudden fall and slam into the side of a pit still hurts) and with a rope all in the way combat can be a bit more difficult -  it could affect initiative, causing folks to trip up, or stop some crucial movement because the PC forgot to untie.  One must weight the risks against the benefits.

Languages in Eradu

Fantasy, not Reality

I tried running a game with the fantasy language structure modeled after real world languages.  What I ended up with was a group of characters that couldn't couldn't communicate and a splash of un-fun rules and complicated nonsense.  Everyone just learned dwarf to so they could speak - it was ridiculous even by RPG standards.  There was some sense of awesomeness in knowing the local language, but as soon as the adventurers moved on, WHAM! no one can speak to NPCs any more.  I decided to simplify things for the next round.

The Languages

A Common Tongue
Merchant's Tongue is a pidgin that has developed to facilitate trade.  If a character can speak MT they should be able to deal with any sort of merchant situation outside of those tiny villages where the merchants barely speak their own language.  Everyone should take this as it can be used for any simple communication.  There is no written form.
Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: na

Ancient Stuff is really old and no longer spoken.  In fact, a PC can only become literate in Westrian.  For those that dive around in the ancient ruins of the world, things are often written in Westrian, so being able to understand it is key.  The language is incredibly complex and often indecipherable.
Speak: na     Literacy: 4 BP

Arcanus is also very old, but still used in some circles as a scholarly language.  It is quite often heard as the language cults use in their strange and dark rituals to petition the Elder Gods.  Mages also use Arcanus as a language to discuss magic and magical theory.  A character can never have a mastery more than one level above their Arcane Lore skill.
Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: 4 BP

Human (and Halfling) Chatter
There are four primary human languages in Northern Realms of Eradu.  A character who can speak one language is considered to have a skill equal to half the rank of their native language.  All the human tongues are inter-related.  In addition, any of the ancient variants of those languages just necessitate a more difficult skill check rather than a separate skill.  Halfling speak the closest human language or occasionally speak Impir well out of context.

Halit: guttural language of the north; a simpler version is used by the barbarians of the far north
Larer: a more civilized language of the south, most closely related to Merchant's Tongue
Impir: the western language, aspects seen in Halit and Farhuir as well
Farhuir: a tongue codified from numerous of clan languages, numerous dialects
Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: 4 BP

 Task Check 
 Ancient  +40

The Dwarf Cant
At one time there were as many dwarf languages as there were great clans, but at some point as the written word became as unto religion to the dwarfs and their language was brought together to form a perfect union of ideas and the unified dwarf language was crafted.  Literally translated the name of the language is The Word Of Stone Shall Neither Be Sundered Nor Forgotten.

Dwarf: the unified language of the dwarf peoples
Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: 4 BP

Deepstone: A secret dwarf language spoken by the Deepstone Dwarfs who hate the surface and light
Dwarf - Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: 4 BP
Non-Dwarf - Speak: 4 BP     Literacy: 12 BP

The Elf Song
The elf speak a language that is lyrical and pleasing to the human ear.  It comes in two melodies simply called high elf and low elf, the former being a proper language and the former more of a vulgar tongue used in battle or when outside of the Home Nest.  Elves believe their language to be the pinnacle of language, but when literally translated, it often seems full of juvenile crudeness and haphazard description.

Elf, High: the true language of the elf nations full of lyrical intonation and complex cadence
Elf, Low: the vulgar common of the elf people, still thought to be better than any human gibbering
Speak: 2 BP     Literacy: 4 BP

Other Languages

Characters can learn other languages as well.  These are only spoken unless otherwise noted.

Canis: language of gnolls and savage men, full of growls and yips
Draconic: the ancient language of dragons (2x BP, also a written language)
Edri: the language of the Patchwork sounds like screams and cries of madness
Gobbeldy: the yammering of goblins, orcs, and their ilk
Jotnar: giants and trolls speak this booming tongue that sounds like a rock slide (Speak: 3 BP     Literacy: 6 BP)
Shsrthas: the hisses of snakemen and lizardfolk can be understood by others (the snakemen have a written form of Shsrthas)
Wildrun: spoken by faerie and creatures of the sylvan wood

Everything in a Handy Chart

 Language Speak   Literacy   Note Sounds Like
 Canis2n/a gnolls and savages growls and yips
 Draconic48 dragons (not kobolds) resonating brass 
 Dwarf, Deepstone2 / 44 / 12 non-dwarfs learn at a penalty a perfectly working mine 
 Dwarf, Unified2 4 standard dwarf language somewhere between Scottish and German 
 Elf, High24 standard elf language a passionate song sung by your lover
 Elf, Low24 "vulgar" a bawdy tune sing by an opera star
 Erdi2n/a Patchwork things screams and cries of madness
 Ancient - Arcanus24 limited by arcane lore Staccato Latin
 Ancient - Westriann/a4 no longer spoken Unknown?
 Human, Farhuir24 all human languages are related   Slavic languages
 Human, Halit24 all human languages are related American English
 Human, Impir24 all human languages are related British English
 Human, Larer24 all human languages are related French
 Merchant's Tongue  2n/a pidgin common a bit of everything
 Gobbeldy2n/a goblins, orcs, and kobolds gibbering nonsense
 Jotnar36 giants and trolls a pebble dropping to an avalanche
 Shsrthas24* folk of scales hissing and glottal stops
 Wildrun2n/a faerie and sylvan things the wind whispering in the trees

Monday, October 14, 2013

Religion in Eradu

The Divine Diaspora

There are some that claim there is but a single divine pantheon and all gods that are worshiped are aspects of those gods.  Spend time with those who adhere to that belief and it will surely be obvious that this is true.  Others feel that the gods are fragmented parts of a great spirit that has been shattered, the gods exist because people believe in them, or that each god is the reincarnation of a previous god and they are part of an endless cycle.  Spend time with those who adhere to these beliefs and it will surely be obvious that they are true.

The nature of the gods will always be a subject of debate for the pious and devout.  Any statement as to the absolute fact is likely claiming knowledge that they simply do not have.  Of course, at the same time, all religions are true because someone believes in them.  Good and evil are straight forward, but those gray areas are still a bit tricky to navigate.

Clerics & The Celestial Council

The Celestial Court is a pantheon of gods that the player characters have the ability to become clerics of.  A character can worship, venerate, or give thanks to any of the gods they know about - and in fact it is often a good idea to do such a thing - but there are only four available as class choices. The Celestial Council seems to have spread, at least in word, to most reaches of Eradu.  While there may not be a temple, finding a shrine is usually an easy task.  The excepts below are from Divine Masters.

The Courts of Justice
“Justice and truth! These watchwords should adorn every city. We bring order and structure to every city, town and home we inhabit. Without our influence, the kingdoms would crumble, the lawless would rule, and chaos would engulf the world. We are the backbone of society, and you are safer for it.”

The Cathedral of Light 
"We bring our Faith with us everywhere we walk. The only thing that can make one pure is to be Illuminated by the Light of Radiance, for evil lurks everywhere, and we must shine the Light in every corner. The Lord of Light is the only thing holding back the darkness."

The Church of Everlasting Hope
“Striving for mercy is what we do. We are no different from anyone else except that we have accepted mercy and hope as our responsibilities. We help those in need no matter what, and it is hard, but it is worth it. We are helpful and kind, so everyone knows the mercy of the Caregiver."

The Face of the Free
“We are the freedom fighters of this land. We Messengers of Liberty organize the people so they can be freed from tyranny. We wish nothing in return, for the freedom of those we help is payment enough. Though some view us as troublesome, we are confident in our faith. Only one who has been freed will ever be truly grateful and appreciate the Face of the Free."

The Darkness

There are dark gods of the underworld, demons, Patchwork lords, devils, and manner of wicked thing that are worshiped.  Some are obvious monstrosities - the followers of The Black Hound infect themselves with a form of lycanthropy and go on "pack hunts" to feast on the flesh of the Cattlefolk (by which they mean everyone else).  Others are a bit more insidious - those members of the House of Shackles often seems as normal members of society until they have cajoled and manipulated entire villages into slavery.

Local Gods

Most villages and towns have a local god or two tucked away - a spirit of the forest who demands sacrifice, a god of hearth that lives within each home and protects the children, or a power that needs worshiping to ensure the harvest.  It is advisable to adventurers to quickly understand the ins and outs of local religion.

For example, Narkul is only worshiped in Aldsburg and a few surrounding villages - his law is secret and known only the priests of Narkul, but its enforcement is applied to everyone.  The priests are the lowest caste and live in abject poverty, but to cross one is almost certain death.

Naturalists: Animus and Element

From time to time you'll find those who venerate nature - the spirits of the earth, the animals, trees, mountains, wind, sun and so on.  Some follow the forces of nature itself - fire earth, air, and water.  The naturalists are often a strange lot and are rarely found outside of small remote villages.  From time to time there is some association with some of the Celestial Council.

Conventicle of the Great Tree
“We are the protectors of the forest, awaiting the time when the so called "intelligent" races destroy themselves, and nature again rises to rule Tellene. We do not attack civilization – that is not our purpose. We merely protect… and wait."

Temple of Stars
“Worship of the Wanderer is a personal thing. Each person must find their own path, and that means worship as well as life. I wander and I watch, and I learn and worship by doing so. Others may regard the world differently, but that is because they have not seen what I have seen.”

Elder Gods

The elder gods ruled in a time before, a time of darkness and madness, a time when even the elf and dwarf were fresh new beings and men were little more than cowering imbeciles huddled in caves.  Cults to these elder gods are horrific, demanding sacrifice that make even the gods of darkness take pause.  The elder gods are said to be sleeping under the sea, or waiting in the Patchwork Kingdom, or crawling through the lowest levels of the dungeons.  But all who worship them want them to come back into the light and take what was once theirs.  The followers dont believe so much that they will gain power, but hope beyond hope that when the nightmares return, they will be the first to be devoured and avoid the most dire of torture and punishments.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Level Drain Revised


I don't think HackMaster will have a level drain effect, but I've always liked it (as a GM).  In the end, level drain was one of the few things that old school players feared (that and shit that turned you to stone).  It was utterly terrifying and it makes a creature significantly more fearsome.

The problem I've got with it though is the amount of paperwork it always generated.  To do level drain justice you would really have to track everything so you could undo it.  In the older games it was easy, but as more and more bits and pieces came into play, it became too cumbersome.

Recent games have replaced level drain with a stat drain.  Fuck that.  Talk about book keeping!  Adjusting complex combat stats on the fly sucks, especially while engaged in combat.  It works great in computer games, but is a drag in table top games.  HackMaster has CON draining critters which isn't as bad, but I still don't like it that much.  Effectively, all it does is make a different set of hit points.

Energy Drain is Awesome

At some bogus point (probably somewhere in 2eAD&D) level drain started getting called energy drain.  After a bit, though, I decided that I liked the term because it fit with a new way that I can make some of the old monsters in HackMaster seriously badass again.

When an energy draining critter hits, the character looses experience points.  Metaphor this all you like into essence being drained, memories of skills being sucked out, or what-have-you.  The result is that characters are dragged into a state where they have to work harder to level up.  The important part here is that a character doesn't lose any levels - just the EP.  Normally if you get level drained, you are double screwed because you probably aren't tough enough to deal with things any more - a ghost zaps your cleric, your turning ability gets worse, making the ghost more likely to stick around!

A character dropped to 0 EP simply loses the will to be an adventurer any more unless they were 2nd level or less - they can make that EP loss back up pretty easily.  A 10th level fighter dropped to 0 EP though is just going to throw in the towel and become a farmer.

Experience Drain Number Crunching

Multiply the damage by the Will Factor of the undead, then x 10.  Too fiddly, round the WF to the nearest multple of 5.

  • A wraith has a WF of 18 and does 1d8 damage - so that would be between 180 and  1440 EP lost per hit (or 20 - 1600 with the simplified method)
  • The barrow-wight has WF12, damage of 2d4: 240 - 960 (200 - 800 simplified)
  • Vampires enjoy WF 20 and d4+4 damage and a bite for d6+4: a range of 1000 - 2000 EP per attack  

To Fight, Perchance to Fight More

A Bruiser Among Us

Standing proud and covered in gore, fighters often gain all of the glory.  Of course, at the same time, they are quickly reviles as mercenaries and bloodthirsty cut-throats.  No matter what name - fighter, warrior, soldier, blood letter, knight, or paladin - when a fighter walks into town in bloodied clanking armor or astride a mighty warhorse, everyone knows.

Being a fighter is more than just being a tank, meatshield, or some other stupid video-game or 3.xth edition based reference to fighterism.  Fighters have to be smart, they have to keep their head about them, and if they are only good at fighting then they will surely fall prey to one of the classic blunders and start a land war in Asia or, more likely, not notice the pit trap they are about to walk into or utterly fail to understand the value of the little brass sticks they are holding. 

A fighter is definitely the muscle of a group and is expected to fight, that is for sure, but because of that focus, they can adapt and pick up any additional roles that the party is missing or the player wants to explore.  After all, someone should be excellent at cartography, have a bit of weather sense, and know how to diplomatically resolve a dispute.

Getting Started

Characters playing a fighter (or one of the hybrid classes) likely had some sort of training from another fighter, usually with an organization of some sort that ended with the PC either leaving or being booted (the parting is rarely amicable, but it happens). Roll 2d6 for some background (1 BP to re-roll as usual) for Early Days, once for The Rough Stuff. Then roll 3d6 taking the two that add up the closest to 7, modify, and check results.

2d6 Early Days The Rough StuffResults
2You picked up a club and made do as best you could (-3 R)You were the lone survivor of a poorly planned venture (-3 R)as #3,never that good, -1 attack penalty
3You learned from a one-armed drunk (-2 R)  Your regiment was forced to retreat and captured (-2 R)as #4, specialization base is 6 not 5
4You never picked up the art of training (-2 R)Being routinely routed by enemies didn't teach you much (-1 R)as #5, you were wounded - roll for a flaw (gain 0 BP)
5Local milita training (-1 R)You've never seen a real fightas #6, didn't pick up heavy armor proficiency
6You fought for survivalMuddy and bloody, but you've survive so farWeapon proficiencies cost +1BP
7A knack at the blade got you through some rough timesSome tournament battles, a few duels, and some confidenceYou are ready for battle
8A short military careerA Bravo you ain't, but those boys don't impress you much+ 1d6p BP for proficiencies
9Lots of brawling at an early age (+1 R)You've seen battle and know what you are up to i a fightAs #8, d6p BP for specialization
10Your gang had a motivated and competent armsman (+1 R)You've been in more than a few heavy scraps (+1 R)As #9, +1d4p hit points
11A distinguished swordsman taught you the moves (+2 R)You helped play a key role in a fateful battle (+2 R)As #10, extra d6p for specialization
12Some folks are born killers (+3 R)The lynchpin of a desperate move, you learned numerous skills (+3 R)As #11, gain a weapon focus for free

Always Training

One hidden benefit of being a fighter is that it is really easy to find someone to train under - at least compared to the other classes.  Where other classes have to make shady deals that will probably end up being not even close to the price, fighters usually have to drop some coins in the coffers of a veteran soldier, buy a few rounds at the pub, and listen to very long boring war stories. 

Weapon Focus

For 10 BP, a fighter can choose a weapon they are focused on, a weapon the train with almost exclusively.  This allows the fighter to then specialize in an aspect of that weapon without having to fill up the previous rank.  In other words, the fighter can have +1 attack, +2 damage, an no other specialization bonuses.  Anything that is taken outside of the normal rules costs an extra 10% per level.

Example 1: +1 atk, +2 dmg costs 5+5+11 = 21
Example 2: +1 atk, +3 dmg costs 5+5+11+24 = 45
Example 3: +1 atk, +1 def, -2 spd, +4 dmg = 5+5+5+5+10+10+22+48=110

Bravos and Knights and Challenges, Oh My!

One problem that fighters constantly seem to face is that they are being challenged by other fighters who want to make a name for themselves, bullies who like to pick on "tough guys", or someone who thinks they need to save face via a beat-down.  How the fighter handles this is entirely up to the player, but warriors who are "yellow chickens" tend to get a lot of flak from not only the other party members but from the locals who will probably tend to think poorly of the dope who was too lilly-livered to defend his personal honor.  Of course, humiliating a young punk who obviously over-stepped his bounds is also a matter of trouble.  Be Smart!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Darkness Rising

No Alignment

I decided some time ago that the alignment system doesn't quite fit with the style of play that I tend to encourage with my group.  I find too often that players tend to use alignment as an excuse to do or not do something ("but I'm chaotic neutral!").  It isn't that the system is inherently flawed any more than other systems, it just isn't what I want.  It doesn't feel right.  After all, Commander Vimes (of Discworld) is obviously both Lawful and Good, but does some awfully non-lawful-good things from time to time.

So for most characters, they get to scribble in a quick belief statement.  It doesn't have to be complex, but it should sum things up and be a guideline for the player.  There are no mechanical penalties for straying from this path, and in fact it encourages a character to change and evolve through a lack of limitation, but there are bonuses in the form of Karma (a karmic bonus for being yourself).

Some characters, though, have a set of tenets they must follow.  Knights and Paladins have a code of honor and conduct - failure will result in a loss of status.  More restrictive, however, are the clerics.  Clerics gain power through their gods, and the gods are picky, and a cleric that disobeys the faith is going to find themselves quickly bereft of spells and special abilities.

Dungeons Are Darkness

In addition to social implications for the characters (murders tend to get hunted down and hung, lairs find themselves without contacts, and so on) there are consequences for giving into the darker desires that creep into the character mind.  Characters now track Darkness points.  Darkness represents the conscious efforts of the dungeon, choices that characters make moving them toward the evil path.

When a character does something that is outright wicked, they will gain a point of Darkness.  Acts of valor and unselfish goodness can reduce this amount, but that isn't quite as likely.  Spending vast amounts of time in true dungeon can begin to warp a character's mind.  Carelessly practicing the arcane arts will open holes in the mind.  Too much Darkness and the character begins to become Hollow.


Darkness points aren't like Dark Side points of Star Wars (WEG rules ... d6 SW and Paranoia?  Come on!) but rather like a slow an definite descent into the madness like Sanity Loss in Call of Cthulu.  All of that, but less terrible.  We don't want PCs dropping like flies just for getting a bit rowdy.  It is more a measure of how close the character is to falling into the abyss.  It won't have any affect until they reach 20 points, at which point they may be lost to the dungeon and become a minion of evil ... and probably a rather juicy NPC as well.  The player rolls 1d20+level, the GM 1d20+character darkness.  If the GM wins, NPC time.  If the play wins, they don't go off into the wilderness of wickedness, but get a chance at redemption.

Darkness Scale
0 - a pure innocent
5 - average city dweller
10 - a seasoned soldier of many wars
15 - an veteran adventurer that has seen enough
20 - Most Bad Guy NPCs
25 - crazy wizards
30 - goblins and orcs
40 - trolls and giants
50 - Liches, demons, and the like
75 - Patchwork Lords, The Goblin King
100 - Evil gods such as The Endless Void of Bile and Blood Who Consumes All Children


In short, a player may indicate that his character is seeking redemption, and will be provided with some opportunities to make themselves better people and reduce their Darkness.  This is some serious role playing waiting to happen.  This might be a big fancy quest, or retiring for 1d3+1 years to work at an orphanage (which is easy except the other characters will continue to advance and an adventurer that does not adventure is bare an adventurer at all), or a multitude of small things where the right choice (a path to atonement) are the least beneficial to the character.  The GM will cook up some juicy stuff.  No matter what, each time the character gains another point of Darkness above 20, they'll have to check again.  Watch your Ps and Qs!