Saturday, July 17, 2021

Godspawn and Immortal Descended

A couple character options I created for Hackmaster. These are not races, per se, but rather akin to skill suites; a group of related abilities that help customize characters. They are, however, quite powerful... the equivalent of purchasing a second class. This will place them beyond the reach of most characters. The only ones likely to be able to use them are humans, or those who are adhering to the more typical classes of their race... easy for a dwarf fighter, not easy for a dwarf magic-user.

The Godspawn

The gods walk the roads and fields of Tellene from time to time, some say. On these occasions, they are suspected of physical unions with mortals, perhaps resulting in offspring. The Vicelord and the Laugher are most frequently associated with these unions, but the Great Huntress, the Raconteur and the Founder are all associated with stories of offspring with unusual talents.

Godspawn are different from their peers in some obvious way. They might glow with an ambient light when angry or excited. The music of stringed instruments might accompany their voice when they speak. The air around them might feel tense and charged, like an impending storm. Their body might radiate uncomfortable warmth at all times.

The history of Tellene has produced a rare few godspawn. For example, it is said that a godspawn Dejy sorcerer from the Khydoban led a short but eventful life within living memory, while a godspawn sage attempted to gain complete control of a secret society some one hundred years ago, bringing a terrible focus and dedication to this group of recluses. Even further in the past, before the division of the Brandobian Empire, a half-elven godspawn wizard of exceptional beauty and grace led the Empire's armies to war against the hobgoblins of the Odril Hills.

The character known as a Godspawn has divine blood somewhere in their heritage. Whether first-generation or merely a pure descendent through many generations, the character is especially blessed with the power of his immortal forbearer.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Punk's Not Dead: An Excerpt from Mutant Rise

An excerpt from Mutant Rise, a cyberpunk mutant animal setting for Savage Worlds that I've been working on.
For the three linked settings I've been working on (Mutant Dawn, which is mutant animals in the modern day; Mutant Rise; and the forthcoming Mutant War, which will be post-apocalyptic), I'm including a Life Path system to help create characters. The system can be ignored without much penalty... the only nominal advantage is that, in certain configurations of Birth, Upbringing, and Education, you will get skills that exceed your attributes or Edges you don't technically qualify for.

Musician is one of those Educations, along with Drone Monkey, Hacker, Infiltrator, Mechanic, Reporter, Salary, Scavenger, and Security.

"Musician: Punk’s not dead, it’s just louder and the growls are a bit more realistic when they come from a Were's throat. Musicians gain a bonus die in Spirit, as well as three dice in Performance, and one in Common Knowledge, Persuasion, and Taunt. Making a living as a musician means you have Fame, but also a Minor Habit, and either Poverty or a Minor Obligation (i.e. the dreaded Day Job)."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

AD&D Psionics Unification

 So, 2e Psionics had a couple different versions, the Complete Psionic/Will and the Way version, and the Skills and Powers/Way of the Psionicist version. This system is somewhat of a compromise between the two, heavily favoring Complete Psionic/Will and the Way, but making psionic combat, especially a combination of the two. Attacks against other psychics deplete PSPs, but contact doesn't require them to be without PSPs... just sufficiently overmatched (or unlucky) to be hit several times without getting any hits in return. This required a rewrite of attacks and defenses. I also rewrote Telekinesis, because the Complete Psionics version really sucked... it was not worthy of being called a science.

As I have changed the way power scores are calculated, I refer you to this spreadsheet, compiled by garhkal, then adapted to my new system.

Friday, December 18, 2020

So You Want to be a Disney Princess

Clerics of certain faiths (most often nature-based ones) have access to a series of spells to Enthrall Animals. With a lengthy casting and a failed saving throw, the cleric can bond one or more animals to them for the rest of the creature’s life. The spell grants them an incredible rapport and, even without their own skill in training animals, the cleric is able to teach the animal various tricks and tasks, making them a more useful companion.

For many clerics, this is a means of attracting and connecting with a useful animal companion; a pet and helper. Some within the Brotherhood of the Bear will also raise animals for sale, or to give as gifts to those who will care for them. Priests of the Merry Marksmen are less likely to do so, as they do not like to train their beasts for hunting. A Golden Arrow may enthrall a dog or mountain lion, and may hunt with that animal, but the animal will not be trained to the hunt; rather, they will hunt free of training, and the cleric will hunt with them.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Birthright Bloodline using Oriental Adventures

Birthright Bloodline Using Oriental Adventures Rules

So, I don't particularly like the rules for Bloodlines in the Birthright Campaign setting; bloodlines are the character-level hook of the setting, and but the default rules don't result in a lot of bloodline powers being acquired.

Now, another book I enjoy is Oriental Adventures. It is incredibly problematic, from the name on down, but there's a lot of fantastic mechanics in there. I love the Hengeyokai (which I cribbed to make the Shapechangers for Hackmaster), and I generalized the Martial Arts rules to apply to the rest of 2e AD&D (and have some ideas about applying to other systems, but it needs more work). And, lastly, the family system from Oriental Adventures neatly dovetails with Birthright's bloodline system, replacing it with the notional "Honor" system of Oriental Adventures.

In Oriental Adventures, a character rolls their family, with adjustments based on class; this system is just a 3d10 roll to determine, which the DM may adjust up or down depending on their campaign's needs (I might suggest a bonus to the roll if you are a Regent, for example, or have holdings). Using the table in the link above (and here), you get a base strength, from 3-30. That base strength also determines how many times and what die you roll on the Ancestry tab, and on the Blood Abilities tab; for example, a roll of 16 on the table means you start with a base blood strength of 16, roll five times with a d100 on the Ancestry table, and 4 times on the Blood Abilities table with a d100 (unless their blood strength increases due to Ancestry).

Unlike Oriental Adventures, all modifiers to blood strength on the Ancestry table are positive. If your ancestor was an Infamous Criminal in Kara-tur, that would be a detriment to your family honor; in Birthright, it means your family DID something, and that usually means that you had more blood strength than usual. Our example character, with the 16, gets 74 (nothing), 70 (Folk Hero, +10),  73 (nothing), 38 (Nothing), and 34 (Ancestral Feud +2)... and my dice get side eye, since I rolled in the 70s three times and 30s twice. Their total Blood strength is now 28. This does not alter their rolls on the Blood ability table, just what their current score is. As the descendant of a Folk Hero, the character receives +2 reaction from commoners when their lineage is known, but receives a -4 on reactions with a specific family (who should probably feature in the game, somewhat).

Now, blood abilities. With a 28, they now have 10 rolls of d100: 84 (nothing), 50 (nothing), 73 (Enhanced Sense, Major), 11 (nothing), 26 (nothing), 06 (roll again +10; result is 64, nothing), 07 (minor power of choice), 02 (nothing), 65 (nothing), 32 (Enhanced Sense, Minor). Despite their advantageous rolls, they wind up with only 3 powers. Since they rolled both Enhanced Sense, Major and Enhanced Sense, Minor, they get a second minor power of choice, from those available to their bloodline.

As they play, they will get additional powers, but it should be noted that they don't get all new rolls every improvement of blood strength; going from 28 to 29 will not give them 10 new rolls, and going from 29 to 30 will only give them 1 additional roll.

I feel this makes for more interesting characters. They have more powers, but their families are more detailed, with histories as distinct or indistinct as the dice determine. Of course, the DM might choose some family events for you, or may allow you to describe your family history without rolls, but these also provide guidelines to do so... a DM might decide that you can have X number of points in Ancestry events, for example, letting players tailor their family histories.

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Time Errant

In AD&D 1st edition, three classes are notable for a pair of reason: Each has a defined maximum level, and each must fight to advance past a certain level. These three classes are the Druid, the Assassin, and the Monk.The requirement to fight for levels… to seek out an opponent, challenge them, and prevail against them… can make these characters even more difficult to integrate into a standard campaign than their often-niche abilities. Some players may choose to eschew these requirements, but not particularly want to abandon their characters. Considering that, this introduces a new pseudo-subclass of each of these, the Druid-Errant, the Assassin-Errant, and the Monk-Errant, with considerations for each.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Capital and Caravans

 This is actually the original of what became my HackTrade article. I wrote it because a player had too much money, and wanted to invest some. I came up with a modified version of what I call "The core crunch" on the spot (it was more generous, and made a positive return likely), and then built the article around it. When I got into Hackmaster a bit later, I polished the idea into HackTrade.

Capital and Caravans

Basic Investing for Castles and Crusades

There comes a point in many games when the characters simply have too much money. They may have purchased everything the CK will let them purchase, may be on the move and unwilling to buy real property (houses, bars and the inevitable stronghold), or may simply be wanting to make more money when they’re in that limbo between being having to scrape every last copper and being able to destabilize the local economy without half trying. Some mercantile-minded players may turn their minds towards investing some of their rewards in commercial ventures, hoping for a return in wealth and influence. Unless you truly wish to be playing Capital and Caravans, however, most CKs will seek to abstract this process a little, letting the game flow without preventing the character from spending his wealth as he sees fit.

Investments are of two different types: caravans and in-place businesses.  Many of the same principles apply to each, but some modifiers will have different effects depending on whether or not the business venture travels.

The Core Crunch

Before I spend a long time discussing the options in dealing with investment, let’s look at the core mechanic of simple investing: 2d8*10%. That’s the average return on investment for the gentleman adventurer. For those who don’t do the probabilities in your head, this means that, on average, an investor will see 90% of his money back; if he gave the merchant ten gold pieces, he gets back nine, for a net loss of one gold. This is intentionally not fair. A great many business ventures lose money, and if all the character has done is toss money at an investment, he will likely lose money. This number is, also, simply return on investment. It does not include taxes that might need to be paid or fees that accrue, which tends to drive returns even lower.

The average time for maturity on any investment is one month. This allows a trade caravan to make it to another city, sell its wares, buy more, and sell those upon return. For an in-place business, this covers a period of purchases and sales. Some investments may take longer to mature, or players may look to make quick money through short-term loans of a few days or weeks. All of these can be handled through similar mechanics, but shorter-term investments tend to carry a LOT more risks, while long-term ventures tend to be more stable. For short term investments, I suggest a return of (1d20-1d4)*10%; you’re far more likely to lose your shirt, but your returns will rarely be much higher. For longer-term investments, I suggest (2d6+1d4)*10%; the floor is higher, the ceiling about the same, and the average about the same.

What makes merchants (and adventuring venture capitalists) profitable is research, hard work, and a bit of luck.