Sunday, June 25, 2017

Castles and Crusades Sessions 1 and 2

I've started a monthly Castles and Crusades game with some other adults; I am the Castle Keeper, my wife and two other couples are playing.

For those familiar, I am combining two old-school modules... T1 and B2. Hommlet has become the Forgotten Realms city of Highcastle, in the High Dale, between Cormyr and Sembia, with the Keep on the Borderlands being the now-completed Keep of Rufus and Burne. The Thunder Way, which runs near Highcastle, is noted for connecting not much with nowhere in particular, with another route that gets you there faster and safer, and without going through the mountains, which are frequently closed to traffic through the winter. However, it is a pilgrimage site, being the location of the Dancing Place (aka the Caves of the Unknown on the B2 map), where several deities manifested a few centuries ago, leading to the formation of the Harpers. The part of the Hidden Vale, a (former) settlement of rock gnomes, is being played by the Caves of Chaos.

(These are all things that the party already knows, or would know if they asked; other aspects of what's going on are, obviously, being kept a bit secret for now).

Player Characters:
Gnome Wizard, Junior, who seems to have a bit of a death wish
Dwarven Druid, Nags, with an ant animal companion
Human Monk, Neb, who likes to hit things
Human Rogue, Nickles, always trying new things
Half-Elf Ranger, no name yet, who likes to drink

Session 1:

The party arrived as part of a trade caravan, the first of the year. Exploring the town, they found there is significant tension between the local druidic circle and the "new" temple of Helm; Rufus and Burne brought the worship of Helm in about a decade ago, and while it's somewhat caught on, their proselytizing and relative inflexibility and hostility to ecumenicism has chilled relations. There's also a local priest of Oghma, studying in the library of Rufus, and amiably making friends while he's there.
A lot was setting up the game, of course, and making characters, but the party did manage to expose a cheat in the Inn, getting him kicked out, and recruit a couple more people (Zert, who knew the caravan master, and Spugnoir, who desperately wanted to get out of town after having been stuck for the winter). While travelling out of town with the caravan, the party was attacked by a dozen hobgoblins, who they routed (along with some great help from Spugnoir's Sleep spell), and backtracked to the Hidden Vale.

Session 2:

Exploring the Hidden Vale, they first entered one of the goblin caves, fighting a neat little battle and learning from their prisoners that the gnomes have been gone for months, and that the cave next door is where the goblins have been putting a lot of their treasure. The party withdrew, giving their injured monk a chance to heal a bit. They decided to try the cave next door. The thief sets a snare, then goes in... and wakes the ogre. She retreats, and the slowly waking ogre looks up again... and sees a dwarf druid. She takes a pot shot at him, falling back. The monk steps forward and gives him a shot in the nuts, and falls back a touch, as the thief falls from above, backstabbing on her way down. Adam Ant chews on his foot, and he's angry.. so he smashes the HELL out of the Monk... 12 out of the 13 points he currently has. He tosses the monk back, but gets torn down by the rest of the party (eventually getting caught in a snare, one leg caught in the air). They quickly search the cave, finding a cache of cash, some cheese, and a keg of brandy... and a wall made out of unmortared brick, leading into the goblin caves. Opening a few bricks, they see the goblins have set up their table as a barricade, and are watching them. One takes off running, and the dwarf wings him, but he gets away. The monk, moderately healed by goodberries, Kool-aid Man's his way through the wall, then smashes into the table, killing all five remaining goblins with the table itself (REALLY horrible saving throws).
The party retreats to the ogre cave as more goblins head down from deeper in the caves... and then tosses a doctored keg of brandy onto the fire the goblins were cooking on, leading to a jet of flame soaking the goblin horde... not enough to kill them, but definitely sending them all into retreat. The goblins head back to the common room and begin to argue, sides forming as it's argued as to whether the chief is still a fit leader after that debacle... 11 goblins dead in two attacks, the ogre apparently gone, and then everyone else bathed in fire.
The party listens, and retreats to the ogre cave, and then hears the march of boots out of the other hallway... things are about to get interesting in the Hidden Vale.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

True Atlantean Nomad Iconic Framework

True Atlantean Nomad Iconic Framework
There are True Atlanteans and then there are True Atlanteans. The most young True Atlanteans aren’t that much different from standard humans… trained in the use of Tattoo Magic and the basics of using Stone Pyramids, of course, and with centuries ahead of them instead of mere decades, but, nonetheless, not too much different.
Then there are the Nomads. Many True Atlanteans set off on a time of wandering, learning the breadth and beauty of the Megaverse with their own eyes, their own senses. They seek far vistas and learn strange languages, relying on their wits and skills (and more than a bit of magic) to get from place to place.
The True Atlantean Nomad is old; at least a century, usually more. They’ve been around the Megaverse and seen a number of crazy things, and come out of it with a deeper curiousity and desire to see even more. They’ve also come out of it with a few enemies, a bit of paranoia about vampires, and a strong sense of self-preservation.

The Nomad Hero’s Journey
Nomads have two rolls on the Experience and Wisdom table, and three rolls on any other table (though few choose Cybernetics).

Nomad Bonuses and Abilities
All Nomads are True Atlanteans, and so have their abilities; Tattoo Magic, a basic understanding of Stone Magic, and the great dislike of Vampires and the Splugorth and their minions. For convenience, these are listed among a Nomad’s abilities and Drawbacks.

*Better Kind of Person: Nomads begin with plus one die type to Vigor, Spirit, and Smarts. They also begin with the Strong Willed and Nerves of Steel Edges.
*Great Experience: Nomads have been everywhere and seen everything. They begin with 20 experience points and the associated advances. They begin as a Seasoned rank character.
*Immune to Transformation: Nomads cannot be transformed by any means.
*Knowledgeable: Nomads begin with Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (Megaverse), and Knowledge (History) at d6, as well as the traditional Atlantean skill of Stone Magic at d6. They also posses a d6 in Fighting and Shooting.
*Magical Dabbler: Nomads are able to make use of Ley Line Sense and Ley Line Phasing, like the Ley Line Walker Iconic Framework. They may take any Arcane Background not forbidden to them, but they do not receive it for free.
*Megaversal Traveller: Nomads are good at finding friends in all sorts of places; they begin with a +2 to Charisma and the I Know a Guy Edge.
*Tattooed Heritage. As True Atlanteans, Nomads have the Arcane Background: Tattoo Magic, and the Tattoo Magic skill at d6. They begin with the Smite tattoo (which will also create a sword) and the Protection from Vampires tattoo (which functions as Warrior’s Gift, but granting +4 to traits rolls and armor against vampires). They also begin with the Speak Language tattoo, and two additional Power Tattoos, either or both of which may be substituted for Minor tattoos. They begin with 5 PPE, plus one for every tattoo they possess (so, between 10-12 PPE). As with all tattoo users, they have +1 to Armor and Toughness for every 3 tattoos.
*Vampire Sense: Due to wide experience, Nomads can tell a Vampire just by looking at them; they may use Notice to ferret out any vampires within Line of Sight.

Nomad Complications
Being a Nomad doesn’t come with a huge number of drawbacks that don’t also come from being a True Atlantean.

*Enemies: True Atlanteans are well-known through the Megaverse, partially due to the actions of Nomads. They have a -4 to Charisma when dealing with Vampires, Splugorth, or their minions.
*Lack of Focus: Nomads are not men of magic, nor are they warriors. They may not take the Master of Magic Edge, nor any professional edges with Fighting, Shooting, or Arcane Backgrounds as requirements.

Nomad Starting Gear

Ley Line Walker Light Armor or ED-5 “Plastic-Man” Light Security Armor, Wilk’s 227 Pulse Laser Pistol, Techno-Wizard Specialized Tool Kit, NG-S2 Survival Pack, 2d4 × 1,000 credits.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stone Magic and Magic Pyramids for Savage Rifts

Stone Magic


Stone Magic is an ancient form of magical technology, related conceptually to Techno-wizardry. Stone Masters are, at the simplest level, able to manipulate stone; mold it, move it, and shape it. However, with the proper materials, Stone Masters can create a wide variety of “traditional” powers, and, working together, can create massive stone pyramids; works of magical technology that heal people, extend their lives, and even piercing dimensions. All True Atlanteans are taught how to use Stone Magic technology; only true Stone Mages (those with the Arcane Background: Stone Magic) and Stone Masters (those with the Stone Master Iconic Framework) can manipulate the stone and call forth powers.

NOTE: This was edited on 2017/5/15 to reflect some great feedback I got on the Palladium Message Boards.

Tattoo Magic for Savage Rifts

Tattoo Magic
Tattoo magic is an ancient form of enchanting, imbuing living flesh with mystic power. Taught by the Chiang-ku to the True Atlanteans in the days of High Atlantis, it’s secrets were wrested by the Splugorth, either from rogue Chiang-ku or during the Atlantean diaspora after the Atlantean Cataclysm. For True Atlanteans, it is part of their culture; all True Atlanteans are tattooed young with the “Marks of Heritage”, including a sword bearing the crest of their Clan, and a mark providing protection against vampires.


Ogres for Savage Rifts

Ogre Race:
*Size (+2): Ogres are simply massive; 8-10 feet tall, which an equal increase in Toughness.
*Let’s Get Physical: Ogres begin with a d6 in Strength and Vigor, with a maximum of d12+1 in both traits
*Simply Horrible: Ogres suffer from a Bad Reputation; they are known to be cannibals, slavers, and favored minions of all sorts of evil creatures. They are also quite Distinctive (as Distinctive D-Bee), have a Non-Standard Physiology.

True Atlanteans for Savage Rifts

True Atlantean Race:
*Arcane Background: Tattoo Magic. All True Atlanteans learn the basics of Tattoo Magic. They begin with a d4 in Tattoo Magic, 5 PPE, and two Power Tattoos; Protection from Vampires (as Warriors Gift, but granting Improved Arcane Resistance against the powers and attacks of Vampires) and Smite, which will also summon a magical sword. If the True Atlantean is a Tattooed Warrior, then they receive Tattoo Magic at d10, and their two tattoos are bonus tattoos. If they have another Arcane Background dependent upon PPE, the PPE from this feature adds to that. This arcane background does not prevent their acquiring additional Arcane Backgrounds, either through their Iconic Framework or selection.

*All True Atlanteans learn the basics of Stone Magic. While they are not able to learn Stone Magic powers without the Stone Magic Arcane Background, they have a d6 when making use of Stone Magic Devices.

*Enemies: True Atlanteans are deeply unpopular with many throughout the Megaverse. They receive a -4 to Charisma with Minions of the Splugorth and Vampires, being obdurate foes of both.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sir Ronald's Last Act


Sir Ronald's Last Act


Two thousand years ago, Sir Ronald, The Demonsbane, was known throughout the land as the foremost crusader against the Infernal that the world had ever known. And then, one day, he vanished.

Here lies Sir Roland, in his final act.

In the center of the room is a large circular dais, intricately carved with runes of binding and protection. Crouched in the middle of that dias is a massive angelic form. Could it straighten, it would be twenty feet tall, but it seems restrained into a dome that reaches only ten feet tall. Against one wall is the skeletal corpse of Agamager the Warlock, clad in bits of once-rich robes, his magic staff of binding by his side. With that Staff, Agamager would hold demons at bay, extracting favors from them for their freedom. Sir Ronald's sword is buried in Agamager's chest, and his corpse lies across his feet, still clad in his resplendent mail.

The angel will attempt to convince anyone who enters the room to free her from her imprisonment. She has been stuck a VERY long time, with nothing to do but to watch the decay of Sir Ronald and Agamager... she isn't even able to turn around, and even immortal joints grow pained after centuries of imprisonment. But, should a spark of Good enter the room, Sir Ronald's shade, tied to his corpse by the spell which slayed him, will appear and make his own pleas.

Agamager's Staff of Binding still has one charge left... he had summoned this angel to recharge the staff. With a word, the staff can free her onto this world, or banish her for as long as she was trapped here. Sir Ronald wishes you not to... he claims that she is a foul beast, a fallen angel whose freedom would doom the world, or at least a chunk of it. He has no proof, only his word. Sir Ronald can offer nothing... you may loot his corpse, of course, and take word of his fate back to the world and he gives you leave to use his armor and weapons as your own, if you do not dishonor them. But, as the creature will point out, you can do that if you free her. She'll offer lavish gifts, and will sign a binding bargain with whoever will free her onto this world. Wealth, power, glory... all can be yours, if you simply speak the word of Freedom, not banishment. She swears that Ronald is the liar, a false priest who used his activities as a demon hunter to stamp out rival cults, and that she has been stuck here because he slew Agamager before she could be freed.

Both are immune to most divinations... only truly powerful divinations can pierce the centuries to determine the right of it. And those are beyond your ken.

Mechanics:
The sweet spot for this encounter is about levels 5-6... before the really powerful spells start coming out, but when the world can start getting bigger, and items can start getting more powerful.

Sir Ronald should have some sweet loot... his sword should probably be at least +3 against something, though it might be a +1, +3 v. outer planar creatures. Likewise, his armor should be magical and of a useful level; none should be aligned. Agamager's Staff of Binding can only be recharged by summoning an outer planar creature and having it do so as a boon... one charge per HD of the creature, with a non-permanent loss of 1 HD for the creature (so a 10 HD demon would grant it 10 charges, but would temporarily become a 9HD version of itself). It does not allow the summoning of creatures; his long-rotted spellbook was his method of doing that... but it does allow them to be contained in magical circles (such as the dias), and then free them from those circles, or banish them back from whence they were summoned. Agamager might have some other magic items, as well.

It's up to the DM if Roland or the Angel is telling the truth... it could be that both are. Freedom or Banishment should play out pretty much as written... if the angel is freed, she keeps her bargain (fairly or literally, depending on who was right), banishing Roland's shade in the bargain. If she is banished, Roland's shade fades, and the party is free to hit the loot button.

But parties, of course, don't always choose A or B. Some guidance:

a) Loot the room, ignore the problem. They don't free or banish the angel, they just take the stuff and go. In this case, Ronald will rise up as a revenant, his shade merging with his corpse and creating a difficult to defeat monster. Unable to be turned, and regenerating like a troll from almost all damage, he will continue to stalk and slay whoever possess his armor and his sword, and return them both to the room (if the two are separated, he'll go after the sword, first). Downside of being an incarnate shade? He won't be able to talk while in that state, so he can't ask others to come help him.

b) Ignore the problem, come back later. Ronald's shade isn't as bound as the angel... he'll continue to follow them, making arguments for why they should go back and free him. The only thing that will stop a disincarnated Ronald is someone else entering the room. If a group entered room and separated, he'll follow them by whoever is closest to LG, then prefering a priest, a paladin, or a fighter, in that order. All other things being equal, he follow the highest level, the highest Charisma, then the highest wisdom. He can't really DO much but talk, but he can only be heard by those who have been in that room or their descendants.