Friday, December 20, 2019

Status of Current Hackmaster Projects

Here's the status of my current Hackmaster projects, most of them done in the past year or so:
The Shadesh West (submitted to Kenzer) 
*North of P'Bapar, West of Dobyo: 15467 words 
*Sanakir Hills: 4962 words 
*The Valley Lands: 5541 words 
*Mount Keypar-Urtha: 5766 words 
*The Brindonwood: 5462 words 
*Shashyf Hills: 4935 words 
*Hungry Undead conversion: 7543 words 
*Moose: 627 words 
*Elk/caribou: 513 words 
*Deer: 436 Words 
*Sharjani: 3881 words 
*Al-miraj: 527 Words 
*Sorcerer: 2493 words 
*Shaman: 10566 words 
*Witch Doctor: 1074 words 

The Goblin Heights (completed, not yet submitted) 
*Krond Heights, Goblin Deeps: 8641 words 
*The Krond Heights: 8677 words 
*The Goblin Deeps: 7515 words 
*Alpaca: 336 words 
*Avledor: 522 words 
*Dwarf, Ragged: 1656 Words 
*Elder Troll: 962 words 
*Llama: 319 words 
*Tunnel Hag: 1039 words 

Blood and Sunshine: Grel and Pixie-Fairies (completed, not yet submitted) 
*Friend and Foe: Pixie-Fairy and Grunge Elf: 405 words 
*Sarlangans: 9576 words 
*Paelifa: 8530 words 
*Grunge Fairy: 961 words 
*Woodland Knight: 1189 words 
*Outdoorsman: 1503 words 
*Fairy, Common: 833 words 
*Bumblebee, Gigantic: 485 words 
*Giant Butterfly: 451 words 

The High Cantons (work in progress): 
*The High Cantons: 3556 words 
*Gnome Titans: 4899 words 
*Disciples of Klarbappo: 981 words 
*Stone Giants: 923 words 
*Grevans as PCs: 438 words 
*Marshall: 1203 words 

Odd Jill and the Snake Pit Slavers (permission to publish, needs editing and formatting) 
*Fiction: 13235 words

In case you're wondering (I certainly was), the full Mysteries of Magic manuscript (of which only about 1/3 was published, is 160,908 words, while the above is 148,628 words.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Savage Star Wars

Some basics for a Savage Star Wars game I ran, where everyone was a Padawan immediately after Order 66 (literally, the first check they rolled was to hear "Execute Order 66" over their clone trooper's radios).

A lot of Star Wars works just fine with Savage Worlds; the main things I saw as necessary are Force Rules that represent the Dark Side (here, they are bonus bennies that can only be used for Dark Side actions, but using too many loses you to the dark side), and some races. Otherwise, give everyone a laser sword and let the dice roll!

Arcane Background: Jedi

Arcane Skill: Force
Beginning Powers: 3
Power Points: No Power Points Rule
The Force skill can also be used to perform minor Telekinesis; it has a strength of d4, and a duration of only 1, but otherwise functions like the Telekinesis power.

The Lure of the Dark Side
In addition to the regular Bennies (called “Force Points”) available to all characters, each character in Savage Star Wars has 3 Dark Side Points. Dark Side points may be spent like bennies, but only to reroll an offensive roll (Fighting, Shooting, Taunt, Intimidation, Pilot, etc.), or to reroll the damage of an attack, and for those with the Arcane Background: Jedi, they may be spent to allow the use of any Force Power for the rest of the session, or to reroll a failed Force skill roll.
However, the Dark Side is seductive. If a character spends all of their Dark Side Points in a single session, they receive Dark Sider as a Minor Hindrance. In subsequent sessions, they will have 1 fewer Dark Side Point. If they run out of those in a single session, their Dark Sider Hindrance is upgraded to a Major Hindrance, and they begin each session with only 1 Dark Side Point. Using their Dark Side Point with the major Dark Sider Hindrance results in the Hindrance, Lost to the Dark Side, a Major Hindrance. These Hindrances may be bought off with Advances as normal; Lost to the Dark Side requires two advances, and Dark Sider may then be reduced from a Major to a Minor Hindrance, then removed entirely.

New Hindrances
Dark Sider (Minor or Major)
Those with the Dark Sider hindrance have begun to succumb to the lure of the Dark Side. As a minor Hindrance, they receive only 2 Dark Side Points each session; as a major Hindrance, they receive only one. Should all their Dark Side Points be spent in a single session, those with the minor Hindrance upgrade to the Major; those with the Major become Lost of the Dark Side.

Lost to the Dark Side (Major)
Prerequisite: Dark Sider Major Hindrance
Those Lost to the Dark Side have perverted the Force for selfish ends. As such, they no longer receive Force Points like regular characters; instead, they begin each session with a single Dark Side Point. They are able to earn Force Points normally during play, but any Force Points earned for acting on negative personality Hindrances (Arrogant, Bloodthirsty, Greedy, Jealous, Mean, Overconfident, Ruthless, Vengeful; others, decided by GM) will instead be earned as Dark Side Points.

Pros: Strength starts at d6 (2), Claws (Str+d4 Damage) (1), Environmental Resistance: Cold (1), Size +1 (1)
Cons: Big -2, Cannot Speak -1, Minor Hindrance (Outsider, -1)

Pros: Environmental Resistance: Heat (1), Persuasion starts at d6 (1)

Pros: One additional Novice edge of choice

Togruta (Ahsoka Tano’s species)
Pros: Bite (Strength +d4 Damage) (1), Danger Sense Edge (due to montrals) (2)
Cons: Loyal Hindrance (1)

Gungan (Otolla) (Jar-Jar Binks)
Pros: Aquatic (2), +2 on Athletics (2)
Cons: Frail (1), Environmental Weakness: Heat (1)

Gungan (Ankura) (Boss Nass)
Pros: Aquatic (2)

Pros: Low Light Vision (1), Repair d6 (2), +2 Repair (2), Immune to Disease (1)
Cons: Small (1), Can’t Speak (2), Outsider (Minor) (1)

Pros: Regeneration (3)
Cons: Racial Enemy: Wookiee

Pros: Immune to Poison, +1 Toughness

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Coventicle of Black Blood

A NE/CE order; semi-religious.

The Conventicle of Black Blood is an organization that potrays itself as being a "hunting club", and many are organized among the upper classes (and ambitious folk of the middle class) as such. Those who are able to hunt or fish as a pleasure, not a necessity. It seldom goes openly by the name, but will instead mock names associated with The Great Huntress; The Sacred Order of the Sable Arrow, in Brandobia, is one such group, it symbol a black arrow, with a black drop of blood dripping from the tip, painted simply on a sign of wood or a background of green. Massive hunts, where every member is encouraged to bring back some game of some sort, will sweep through the land on nights as the Veshemo is new or Diadolai wanes. Prizes are awarded for the largest trophies, and scorn is heaped upon any who do not return with at least a rabbit or al-miraj. Midwinter hunts to roust bears and boars from their slumber, and events where children are given a sling and pigeons are released for their sport are all popular, and kill far more than can be eaten.

While the open orders recruit, an inner circle works more sinisterly.

The Coventicle of Black Blood engages in rites which profane the hunt, and seek to cause pain, famine, and pestilence. They do hunt, of course, but they seek to overhunt an area, so there will be a dearth of food animals to eat. The inner circle leaves corpses to rot and cause disease, or leaves animals wounded to draw predators. To this end, they are popular among the priests of the Locust Lord, the Flaymaster, and the Rotlord, with different groups within the Coventicle organized towards one or the other, and providing at least lip service to the rest.

The members are varied, though it is popular with assassins, fighter/thieves, and fallen rangers (indeed, remaining one of the few sources of training for rangers who fall away from good). Some Patient Arrows, drawn by the open orders, will join Coventicle-associated hunt clubs, but find their message strangely rebuffed by the most influential members. The open orders count among their number many noblemen and knights; men for whom hunt is a sport, not a way of life, and who care little how the meat is used, so long as the trophy comes home with them. This provides them a fair degree of political protection, though respectable huntsmen, frequently associated with (at least loosely) the Patient Arrows, tend to have little truck with them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Divine Charges

Found this other entry into the old Dragonsfoot forum challenges.

Divine Charges (Divination)

Wizard level 2, Cleric level 3
Sphere: Divination
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant
Area of Effect: One Object
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 2 hours
Saving Throw: None

By carefully calibrating a scale and adjusting the counter-weights, the caster learns approximately how many charges are in the item. Upon completing the casting time, the DM rolls 1d8-4 if between the levels of 3 and 6, 1d6-3 if between 7 and 11, and 1d4-2 if level 12 or higher. The DM adds the result to the actual number of charges the item, and reports the final total. Each spellcaster can only cast this once per item per year; if attempted more frequently on the same item, there is a 7% cumulative chance that 3d10 charges will be lost, and the material components destroyed. This spell reveals nothing about the function(s) of the item. There is a (30%-level of the caster) chance that any curses on the item will come to affect the caster, as well.
The material components of this spell are a scale and fine golden weights. Each weight costs 20 gp, and insufficiently varied weights reduce the accuracy of the spell; usually, it will be five 1 charge weights, three 5 charge weights, two 10 charge weights, and three 20 charge weights, for a total of 160gp in weights. The scale itself must be made of silver, and costs 100gp for a scale suitable for only wands, 300gp for a scale suitable for rods or wands, and 500gp for a scale suitable for staves and other magical items. These material components are not typically destroyed with casting.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Powers as Tech Devices

So, I worked up the basic outline of using Savage Worlds: Adventure Edition for Mass Effect but, while I was working on it, I realized that a LOT of powers might exist as Tech devices, and that I don't have much in the way of clear guidelines as to what would work that way, or how much it would cost.

While these devices all list a cost, that alone is not sufficient to power the device; they also need supplies of Power Points, and most will have a built-in charger to regain power points.  Smaller power supplies run about 20 credits per power point, and standard rechargers cost 50, and recharge at a rate of 1 point per minute. Rapid chargers, which recharge at 3 points every 2 minutes, cost an additional 100 credits. Such power supplies weigh about 1 pound per 10 power points, with rapid chargers only adding a negligible amount to the weight. Cybernetic power supplies (ones designed to be integrated into a body) are about 50 credits per power point, but add nothing to encumbrance. Cybernetic power supplies are frequently regulated. Power point pools do not recharge while devices are in use; some devices will have several pools built in, both for redundancy and for endurance.

In addition, expert systems can be acquired, letting powers be activated more easily. +1 on the Tech roll will require an additional 100 credits; +2 will require 200 credits. Higher-end, fool-proof systems (i.e. adding a +3 or more), require a fair bit more space and processing, and add 200 credits per plus to the cost (so a +3 on the activation roll is 600 credits), and an additional pound per plus. Conversely, some systems are finicky, and can be "shorted", as described on page 151. Such devices inflict a penalty on the activation roll, but can reduce the power point cost of any power modifiers (not the base power, itself). These can be paired with an expert system; a Damage Field power might be shorted 1 or 2 points to allow for a cheaper increase in damage, but with expert systems reducing some of the penalty. Failures with these devices are always critical failures!

Many powers have a range based on Smarts; for devices, consider that a d6. Devices that only function at touch range receive a +1 to their activation roll. Many powers have set durations; devices can be set to deduct power to maintain them without action, though with the attendant 1 Power Point per additional duration.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Savage Worlds: Mass Effect Deluxe Edition

Like my recent revision of my Savage Worlds: The Elder Scrolls to Adventure Edition, I am intending to do the same with my Mass Effect conversion. Since I don't want to get rid of all my work (and it's nice to have an archive copy), here's the Deluxe edition work

This is an updated set of rules for Savage Worlds: Mass Effect, based on feedback I've received and, hopefully, actual playtest changes that need to be made. It was written with the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition and a lot of help from the Mass Effect Wiki. I'm open to comments and suggestions on how to update the rules and make them better fit Mass Effect and Savage Worlds.

Human: Humans start with the Lucky edge and one other of choice, but also have the Flaw: Outsider. While a growing power in the galaxy, the human rise to power has created a number of enemies.

Salarian: Salarians slight build results in them having the Small hindrance. However, their quick minds mean they begin with a d6 in Smarts, and the Quick Edge.

Turian: Turians begin the game with a d6 in both Fighting and Shooting to represent their military training.

Asari: All Asari begin with a single novice Biotic Power of choice, 5 Power Points, and a d4 in the Biotics skill. If they choose they Arcane Background: Biotics, they gain these in addition to the powers provided by the background. Asari also have Mind Reading as a bonus power. Mind Reading is a separate skill from Biotics, based on Spirit, and begins at a d4. Asari have strong personalities, however, and have a minor personality hindrance, usually tied to their stage in life (Maidens tend to be Curious; Matrons tend to be Cautious).

Krogan: Krogan are perpetual Outsiders, but all have the Healing Power, which functions only for themselves, and operates off their Vigor attribute. This is a free action every 10 minutes. They begin with a d6 in Vigor, but their Smarts requires two points per dot to increase at character creation. All are considered to have the Brawny Edge.

Quarian: Quarians begin play with a d6 in the Repair skill, but also have the Outsider flaw and a -4 against poison and disease. However, the also begin with an environmental suit, which provides +2 Armor, +2 against negative environmental conditions, and negates their penalty against poison and disease unless breached. Armor designed for Quarians takes this suit into account.

Drell: Drell have a +4 to resist heat. They also have an Eidictic Memory, allowing them to recall any information they have been exposed to; this results in a +2 to all knowledge skill checks, including common knowledge. However, their memory can be triggered involuntarily whenever they roll a 1 (on either die) while making a Knowledge or Smarts test, requiring a Spirit roll lest they fall into a fugue state and 4 point penalty to all trait rolls while in the grip of memory. With success, there is only a 2 point penalty. With a raise, there is no penalty. A Bennie may be spent to remove the penalty, as well. Checks against the fugue state may be made every round during combat, or every minute when out of combat, and the fugue will last until either two successes are made, or a success and a raise.

Hanar: Hanar are fully aquatic, and thus cannot drown, move at full speed while swimming, and have a d6 in swimming at character creation. They likewise possess four additional limbs, allowing them to take multiple actions. They also secrete poisons from their limbs, allowing them to paralyze in hand to hand combat. They move by means of levitation packs powered by mass effect fields, giving them the equivalent of Flight. However, they also possess significant disadvantages. As jellyfish, they lack physical strength, so their Strength can never advance beyond 1d6, and requires two points to raise at character creation, or two advances during gameplay. Their Vigor and Agility likewise require two points per step, but do not have caps. Their stilted speech and strong religious beliefs also marks them as Outsiders.

Elcor: Elcor move very slowly, having a base pace of 3 and only a d4 running die. Likewise, they are unusually Cautious, compared to most other species. Their speech patterns cause them to be regarded as Outsiders, and their slow reactions require that they spend 2 points per upgrade to Agility, with a cap of d6. However, they have great strength, beginning with a d8 and able to increase it to d12+2 through normal advancement. They are also quite large, gaining +1 to Size, and tough, gaining +2 to Armor and the Brawny Edge. They also have a base d6 in Vigor.

Batarian: Batarians have a rough reputation, resulting in Outsider status, but they also begin with a d6 in Intimidation. They have also earned the racial enmity of Humans, bringing their penalty to Charisma regarding humans to a -4. Unsurprisingly, they have exceptional vision, getting a +2 to Notice when vision is involved, and the equivalent of low-light vision.

Friday, October 18, 2019

AD&D Warforged

Back-porting Warforged (a race from WD&D's "Eberron" setting; essentially, PC scale-golems) to AD&D. I'm making it an edition-less AD&D, not specifically 1e or 2e, since most races have their primary difference between editions in level limits, less so than mechanics.

Attribute Modifiers
Wisdom -1
Constitution +1
Charisma -2

Natural AC of 5
Immune to sleep, poison, and disease
Immune to Charm Person and other spells that target "Persons" (but not spells that target Monsters or Golems)
Immune to Fatigue and Energy Drain
Do not need to Eat, Sleep, or Breathe (still must rest for an appropriate amount of time to regain spells).

Cannot wear armor (natural armor does not interfere with casting).
Unless it specifically resizes, 20% of all worn magic items will not fit
Receive only half benefit from Cure X Wounds spells (rounded down)
Do not heal naturally, but may be healed by a smith at 10gp/HP and no more than 3 HP/Day. A Mending spell recovers 1 HP/level of the caster.
Vulnerable to Rust Monster attacks, taking 1hp/level/touch (so a 10th level Warforged will take 10 HP per touch of a rust monster), to a minimum of 1 HP/level (so a 10th level Warforged cannot be brought below 10 HP by a rust monster)
Take damage from spells that affect metal and wood.
Warforged are very heavy; while human in height, most are 300-400 pounds.

Level Limits (1e limit/2e limit)
Cleric 4/12
Fighter 8/16
Magic-User 3/8
Thief U/15
(Assassin; 1e 6)
(Bard; 2e 10)

Thief Skill Modifiers
PP -10
OL -5
FRT -5
MS -15
HS -5
CW +15
DN +10
RL +5

Reapproaching Reincarnation

Reapproaching Reincarnation:
An old Chestnut tossed back in the fire for another roasting

Reincarnation, in the D&D sense, is a magical effect which creates a new body and puts a dead person’s soul or spirit into that body. The spell is, however, extremely poorly defined as to exactly what that means. If my elf is reincarnated as a human, do I keep an elf’s bonuses with swords? If my gnome is reincarnated as a dwarf, can I keep being an illusionist? If I can’t ADVANCE as an illusionist, can I learn a new class, or am I stuck as an X level illusionist until I roll better on reincarnation, or someone polymorphs me and I survive that? Do my attributes change? If I stop being a halfling, does my dexterity go down and my strength go up? If I become a dwarf, does my charisma drop? If I reincarnate as a human, does my level limit change?

Reincarnation in AD&D takes two basic forms: Magic-User and Druidic. The Magic-User table is largely filled with demi-humans, humanoids, and humans. The Druidic table is full of animals and sylvan creatures. However, these are arranged fairly randomly on the tables… there’s no real “good” range to roll in, save as defined by the individual (“I came back as a troll? AWESOME!”). Nothing about the character themselves influences what they come back as… a paladin is as likely to come back as an orc as a thief would be. In the game as written, the only thing that matters is who cast the spell, and how lucky their dice are.

In this, I hope to define reincarnation, and make it a somewhat less random effect… not under the target or caster’s strict control, but influenced by the character’s life before their death.

The Reincarnated Self
Reincarnation and Reincarnate (the Magic-user and Druid versions, respectively) construct a new body around the soul and spirit of a recently deceased individual. Because they encase an intact spirit in a body, reincarnation spells have a very limited window in which they can be cast; wait too long, and the soul or spirit will have already reached their final destination, and be irretrievable. The body created is somewhat random, but is influenced in its creation by the spirit which it contains.
The magic-user spell is heavily influenced by the strength of the spirit being encased. Stronger spirits… those belonging to higher-ego creatures… are more likely to mold their form into something that resembles their spiritual strength. Weaker spirits cannot muster the strength with which to do this, and so their forms are less powerful, and more random. These modifications are noted next to the table.

The druidic spell is influenced by ego, but is also influenced by balance; deviations from true neutrality make it harder for the druidic magic to function effectively. Those with powerful alignments, but relatively low egos, find themselves placed in “simpler” forms, to learn lessons of balance and neutrality. These modifications are noted with the table.

Certain situations exist in which Reincarnation can take place long after the original body has died. However, these require a disembodied spirit that is still bound to the Material Plane, be it through means such as Magic Jar or spectral undead. For someone confined to a Magic Jar to be reincarnated, it requires physical possession of the Magic Jar by the spellcaster, willingness on the part of the jarred spirit, and for the subject of the reincarnation to forever forsake their original body; if that body is possessed, then the reincarnated spirit no longer has any claim to it, and the possessor is no longer subject to exorcism by dispel magic. For spectral undead, the creature itself must be willing, and the caster must possess a portion of the creature’s original body.

Character Effects of Reincarnation
Regardless of the caster, reincarnated characters share certain aspects. The first is that all racial abilities are stripped from them; dwarves lose their resistance to magic, elves lose their bonus with swords and bows, and halflings lose a measure of their dexterity. Likewise, ability modifiers due to age and race are stripped from the character; the body created will not have the infirmities of age, nor does the spirit retain its accumulated wisdom. It will be considered to be on its first day as a Mature Adult. With regards to gender, roll 1d20, and subtract any Wisdom saving throw modifier. On a 14 or lower, the character's sex will match their gender; on a 15 or higher, they will physically be another gender.

After removing former abilities and debilities, the abilities and debilities of the new form take effect, including age modifications, attribute modifiers, minimums, and maximums. Attributes in excess of new maximums should be noted; should the character be subsequently polymorphed or reincarnated into a form that will allow those attributes, their “natural ability” will take effect. The 2nd edition Complete Humanoid’s Handbook can be very useful in creating newly monstrous characters, while animal forms (especially from the druid list) will need a large degree of DM input. Regardless of the form, however, the reincarnated character remains a sophont; a human reincarnated as a fox remains a thinking person, capable of understanding language, and possibly even scratching words into the dirt. However, the smaller brain does impact intellect; if the usual range for the animal is Low, there will be at least a -1 to Intelligence, increased to -2 if Semi, and -3 if Animal.

A reincarnated person maintains their same class and level of experience, even if it is largely incompatible with their new form. They may not be able to make use of these abilities (a badger magic-user cannot speak to cast spells, nor make the necessary hand gestures), but they will have those abilities. They likewise retain any proficiencies that they had, though this, too, might cause certain problems (“Why is that wolf holding a sword in its mouth? And why did it just kill Zeke?”). Note that those whose intelligence is impacted by their new form might gain or lose proficiencies due to this; the player should be allowed to choose which proficiencies are lost or gained. Clerics are somewhat advantaged over magic-users in this respect; their spells can be enacted through the dispensation of their deity, so they face difficulties only with spells that require understandable language (such as Command), or material components which may be difficult to manipulate. Druids of 7th level or higher have a further advantage, here; they are capable of returning to human form with their shapeshifting abilities (though whatever form they have been reincarnated to is their new base form).

If a character’s new form is incompatible with their previous class, or the player chooses, they may choose to retrain into a new class more suited to their new form. If they do so, they lose 1 level from their previous class, and gain it as the first level of their new class. Each time they gain a level in their new class, they will lose a level in their old class, until their old class dwindles to level 0 and disappears. Newly or formerly multi-class characters always track this based on their highest level; a former 4/8 half-orc cleric/thief turned human fighter would become a 1st level fighter, 4/7 cleric/thief; then a 2nd level fighter, 4/6; then a 3rd level fighter and 4/5, and so on. When they advanced to 5th level fighter, they would become a 3/3 thief/cleric. At 8th level, the last of their thief and cleric abilities would disappear. If the new class is a multiclass, then level debits for old classes track according to the highest of the new classes. If a newly minted human chooses to dual-class, then class abilities from a previous incarnation are counted as abilities of the first class, and restricted as such. 

Hit points, saving throws, and combat are calculated off the most advantageous of a character’s available classes; the HP of the new class should be tracked separately, and it is used when it surpasses that of the old class. If someone with an 18 Strength enters into a fighter or warrior class, then they gain the advantage of Exceptional strength; if they leave all fighter or warrior classes behind, then their exceptional strength disappears in their new form. If someone with a 17 or higher Constitution enters a fighter or warrior class, then only the new class (or class combination) gains the benefit of higher hit points from each hit die. If a former fighter or warrior had a 17 or higher constitution, then their new HP gains are limited to a +2 per hit die gain, as with others who are not fighters or warriors.

Polymorph and Reincarnation
Reincarnation sets a new “base form” for the character, but there are many magics that allow one to change form. However, this does not change that a Reincarnated individual is now part of a new race... a former human polymorphed into a human is still a former human in an odd shape. Should they fail the check to "assume" a human persona upon being polymorphed, it will result in their reincarnated nature fading from their mind... perhaps only to be brought into stark reminder once they fail a dispel magic.
As mentioned above, Druids who are 7th level and above subject to reincarnation are able to return to their original form without problem, though it does cost them their mammal shape for the day, and their reincarnated form remains their base form.

Reincarnation and Psionic Powers
Unless reincarnated into a form that always has psionics, or a member of a class which provides psionic powers, reincarnated individuals lose any psionic powers they may have had before their reincarnation; while a function of the mind, the radically different brain makes any such ability at least temporarily inaccessible. If the character pursues psionic ability again, however, they receive an additional bonus of 1 per minor discipline, 2 per attack or defense mode, and 3 per major discipline they previously possessed. If the new form has psionics, then those same bonuses for previous psionic powers apply to rolls for number of psionic attack modes, defense modes, and number of disciplines.

Using the Reincarnation Table
The reincarnation table requires a d100 roll, plus the character’s special Personality score. The Personality score is the character’s (current highest level) + (Intelligence) + (Charisma); unlike the personality score used when resisting intelligent magic items, this score is not decreased due to a loss of hit points, since the subject of reincarnation typically has 0. If the subject’s alignment is identical to the caster’s, then the subject gains a +10 on the roll. If their alignment is 1 step removed from the caster’s (True neutral to Neutral Good or Neutral Evil, for example), then the roll is made without alignment modification. For each subsequent step removed from the caster’s alignment, there is a 10 point penalty on the roll.

Comparing this sum to the table, the character then receives a form based on their alignment; the caster chooses the form associated with either aspect of the subject’s alignment, or may choose to cede that choice to the subject.

D100 RollNeutralGoodEvilLawfulChaotic
<31BadgerDog, WildRatSheepCat
31-35WolfDog, WarSnake, AspCattleHyena
36-43Stag/DeerDraft HorseWolverineWarhorseCamel
44-46Black BearAurochsGiant HyenaGiant AntBoar
47-54Giant OwlPegasusGiant ScorpionLionTiger
55-59GriffonBlink DogPerytonManticoreThri-kreen
93-99PixieTreantMedusa/ MaedarSheduTroll
100+NymphUnicornOgre MageLamassuLamia
Modifiers:Add the character's special personality strength, which is their Level + Intelligence + Charisma. If Intelligence or Charisma was lowered to account for racial maximums, use the higher, initial, value. This personality strength is not lowered for Hit Point damage (since the subject of reincarnation is always dead).

The Revised Specialist

Specialist wizards in 2e are derided as being kind of bland; their spell list is essentially a mage's spell list, but with less variety, and a bonus spell slot. While they're markedly better at their specialty than others, and choosing the right specialty can result in a more potent wizard (the bonus spell really helps), they're, overall, kind of uninspired, and, aside from the bonus spell, not terribly different from playing a straight mage who just so happens to never get spells from certain schools.

So, I have a proposal to change them. I've mentioned it several times as an option, but wanted to solidify the ideas, and solicit feedback on how to tweak it to a good point.


Specialist wizards are those wizards who have chosen to concentrate on a single school of magic, to the detriment of one or more other schools. While not completely incompetent at those other schools, they are markedly less able than a generalist might be. When considered from standard mages, Specialists have several changes.

1) All spells of their chosen school are counted as one level lower, thus easier to learn and cast. For example, a conjurer may choose to learn Melf's Acid Arrow as a 1st level spell. If the game has the equivalent of "10th level spells", then specialists may learn and cast those spells when they receive 9th level spell slots, provided they meet the other requirements of those spells in that setting.
2) They have a bonus spell slot to be filled with a single spell of their specialty from what is now "0th level". That same Conjurer may choose to memorize Armor in their 0th level slot. If they devote a 1st level slot to 0th level spells, they may memorize two spells in that single slot.
3) For purposes of their specialty school, their intelligence is counted as two points higher. This affects chance to learn spells, maximum number of spells known, and maximum spell level. If using a system which grants additional spells or spell points based upon Intelligence, this benefit likewise applies only to spells of their school.
4) Whenever a new spell level is achieved, may choose 1 common spell of their specialty. If the game allows a free spell to be learned at every level, this is an additional spell, acquired only at a new spell level.

1) As outlined in the Player's Handbook, being a specialist has higher attribute requirements.
2)All spells of their opposition schools are counted as two levels higher. Thus, the aforementioned Conjurer might learn Melf's Acid Arrow as a 1st level spell, but would be unable to learn Magic Missile, an Evocation spell, until 5th level, as it would be considered a 3rd level spell for a conjurer. Spells that are partially opposition spells are counted as being of the opposition school, unless they are also part of the specialty school, in which case the specialty school trumps the opposition school.
3) For the purposes of opposition schools, their intelligence is considered two points lower. This affects their ability to learn spells, the maximum number of spells known, and the maximum spell level. If the specialist has an intelligence of 9 or 10, this will prohibit learning spells of their opposition schools.
4) If the game allows a free spell to be learned at every level, it cannot be of one of the opposition schools; they may still learn them (with their lower effective intelligence).

By way of example, consider Marco, a 5th level human Conjurer. He has a 15 Constitution (required of a conjurer) and a 15 Intelligence. For Conjuration spells, his effective intelligence is 17, so his maximum spell level is 8th, with a 75% chance to learn spells, and capable of learning up to 14 spells per spell level. Since he can learn 8th level spells, and being a Conjurer drops the effective level of Conjuration spells by 1, he will be able to learn any Conjuration/Summoning spell in the Player's Handbook. For Invocation/Evocation and Greater Divination, his effective intelligence is only 13; no more than 6th level spells (which would be 4th level spells to a generalist), 55% chance to learn spells, and no more than 9 spells. For all other magics, he has a 15 intelligence... 7th level spells, 65% chance to learn, and 11 spells per level, maximum. This means that no more than 9 spells from each level can be greater divination and invocation/evocation, and 11 spells, total, that are not Conjuration/Summoning. Above his 11 spells of other schools, he can have 3 spells of Conjuration/Summoning... he may choose to have 14 Conjuration/Summoning spells, or up to 11 of other schools, and 3 Conjuration/Summoning.

As a 5th level wizard, he has 3 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells, and 1 3rd level spell memorized, plus a bonus "0th level" Conjuration spell. His spellbook may look like this.

0th level: Armor, Find Familiar, Grease, Mount
1st Level: Glitterdust, Melf's Acid Arrow, Summon Swarm, Protection from Evil, Color Spray, Comprehend Languages, Friends, Charm Person, Change Self, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Chill Touch, Spook, Sleep (14 spells total, but 3 are Conjuration/Summoning, so are within the 14 spells per level maximum of his effective 17 intelligence; no spells are Invocation/Evocations, as they are counted as 2nd level spells)
2nd Level: Monster Summoning I, Flame Arrow, Continual Light, Deeppockets, Levitate, Ray of Enfeeblement, Mirror Image, Blur, Spectral Hand
3rd Level: Evard's Black Tentacles, Dispel Magic, Protection from Evil 10' Radius, Fly, Stinking Cloud, Hold Undead, Magic Missile, Shield (Magic Missile and Shield remain worthwhile learns, even at 2nd level)

He might memorize something like:

0th - Grease
1st - Armor, Mount, Melf's Acid Arrow, Detect Magic (he can memorize two 0th level Conjurations in a single 1st level slot, in addition to his bonus 0th level spell)
2nd - Monster Summoning 1, Mirror Image
3rd - Evard's Black Tentacles

Psychic Monks

So, this is an idea that's been bouncing around for a while now; a monk whose discipline results in psychic powers, not inexplicable abilities. In many ways, these are similar to the standard monk. However, I've "normalized" them a bit, with no more than 10 d6 HD, and such matters.

Psychic Monk
Fights as: Thief
Saves as: Thief
Hit Die: D6

Attribute Requirements
15 Strength
15 Wisdom
15 Dexterity
11 Constitution

*Psychic monks gain all the usual attribute bonuses (Strength, Dexterity included)
*Psychic monks are limited to Lawful alignments
*Psychic monks may use weapons as per normal monks; they may not use armor.
*Psychic monks are limited in magical items and wealth as normal monks, but may use unlimited Grey Ioun stones, should they acquire them.
*Psychic monks are limited in henchmen and hirelings as normal monks, save for those monks acquired through challenges.
*Every month, there is a % chance equal to twice the monk's level that they will be challenged to single combat by another monk of their level plus 1d4-2 (meaning one level below to two levels above). It is traditional that the challenged monk sets the task, but failure in the challenge results in the loser being bound to the winner as a henchman (and student) for the next month. A psychic monk may challenge another psychic monk, of any level, no more often than once per level, win or lose. It is common for monks to challenge their superiors immediately before qualifying for a level, gaining training for their period of servitude. Monks who win a challenge are not challenged while the other monk serves as their henchman.

Thief abilities:
As thief of equal level
Open Lock
Find/Remove Traps
Move Silently
Hide in Shadows
Detect Noise
Climb Walls

Base Psychic Ability
Psychic Monks begin with psionic strength equal to the sum of their attributes.
If two of Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma are 17 or greater, that total is doubled
If all three of Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma are 17 or greater, that total is tripled.

Level HD Additional PSPs
1 1 Base Psychic Ability
2 2 +10
3 3 +10
4 4 +10
5 5 +10
6 6 +10
7 7 +10
8 8 +10
9 9 +10
10 10 +10
11 10+2 +10
12 10+4 +10
13 10+6 +10
14 10+8 +10
15 10+10 +10
16 10+12 +10
17 10+14 +10
18 10+16 +10
19 10+18 +10
20 10+20 +10

Psychic monks advance as Monks, though with the above challenge mechanic replacing the standard level challenges. After level 17, they require 500,000 XP per level of experience. For levels above 20, they acquire 2 Hit Points and 10 points of Psychic Strength.

At each level of experience, Psychic Monks gain two psychic powers, as determined by the chart below. Each monk follows an identical progression

Level Psychic Powers Gained
1 Body Weaponry (considered as fighters), Mind Blank
2 Id Insinuation, Energy Control
3 Animal Telepathy, Precognition
4 Body Equilibrium, Mental Barrier
5 Ego Whip, Thought Shield
6 Mind Over Body, Suspend Animation
7 Cell Adjustment, Mind Thrust
8 Object Read, Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions
9 Mind Bar, Intellect Fortress
10 Tower of Iron Will, Levitation
11 Psionic Blast, Invisibility
12 Aura Alteration, Astral Projection
13 Psychic Crush, Etherealness
14 Dimension Door
15 Probablity Travel

Reapproaching Priors and Particulars

A couple years ago, I wrote up "More Priors and Quite Particular", reorganizing how that section of the PH was rolled. I won't go into my full logic here; read the post, if you like. However, I also did not like that solution; it was better, but not great.

This iteration of the Priors and Particulars section hinges upon the Social Class rules in the GMG (p. 138-140, 144). Briefly, these are:

Table 7.3: Player Character Starting Social Class
d100 outcome
01-10 Slave Class*
11-25 Lower Lower Class
26-60 Middle Lower Class
61-00 Upper Lower Class
* For this result, roll a 1d20. 1-5 indicates character is a runaway slave. 06-15 indicates the character is an escaped criminal (GM to determine the crime – note that a character may have been wrongly convicted of said crime or the statute in question may be unjust) 16-20 indicates character was stripped of all rank and title by his native culture and banished.

The GMG also allows someone to purchase a talent, Parvenu, which allows them to start at Middle Class, or the lower echelon of the Upper Class.

 In considering these rules, it is important to note the definitions of the social class; by these rules, the vast majority of people are Lower Class; they live solely based on their own labor. Those who are Middle Class live on a mixture of their own labor and the labor of others; they still have day-to-day work that must be done, but as one climbs the social ladder increasing amounts are done by other people. This version also hinges less upon the precise nature of the character’s family, and more upon who their family was in society.


Agricultural (Slave, LLC, MLC): The family might not own the land they farmed, but they did farm. From an early age, the character learned to work the land, tend the animals, and pray for rain. Their Upper Lower Class and Middle Class counterparts are Farmers, who own the land. The character begins with one purchase in Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Weather Sense, and the Laborer proficiency.

Crafts (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): The family were crafts-folk; guilded or unguilded, they made things with their hands. While only an apprentice before leaving, the character does understand the basics of the art; they begin with one free purchase of Blacksmithing/Metalworking, Carpentry/Woodworking, Craft, Leatherworking, or Pottery, and an additional 15 silver pieces in starting money and equipment.

Exiled Noble (Slave): Your family was once rich and powerful; Lower or Middle Upper Class, perhaps even Upper Upper Class. But that was before. Sometime before the character became an adult, the character’s family had a political or military disaster which resulted in their being stripped of lands, titles, rank, and possibly even names. The character begins with one purchase of Diplomacy, History, Ancient (relating to their own family), Literacy (own language), and Oration. The stain on their family name, however, means that they begin with a 3 point penalty to Honor, and only 25+2d12 silver pieces.

Farmer (ULC, Middle Class): The character’s family owned the land they worked, and worked it well. Most often, these characters were expected to learn not just farming, but also how to administer the properties that they held; they may work harvest or planting, when every hand was needed, but their main responsibility was to see that everyone else did the work. As a result, they have one purchase of the Administration and Agriculture skills.

Feral (LLC): While perhaps not literally raised by wolves, the character is not far from it. In a rural or wilderness area, the character fended for themselves from the time they were able to do so. The character begins with a free mastery die in Animal Empathy, Animal Mimicry, Hiding, Hunting, Listening, Sneaking, and Survival. However, they have a penalty of 5 points of honor, have no native language (all language skills must be purchased) and suffer a -3 mastery die penalty to Literacy and all skills which require it as a prerequisite. The character begins with only 20+1d6 silver pieces in money and equipment.

Learned (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC, Middle Class): The character’s family was part of the learned class. They may have been tutors to powerful people, scribes, letter-writers, mages, clerics, or other such individuals. The character has learned their letters, receiving one purchase of Literacy, and one of History, Ancient.

Maritime (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): The character’s family made their living from the water; they may have been fisherfolk or sailors, or even pirates. The character begins with a purchase of Boating, Swimming, and Rope Use.

Martial (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC, Middle Class): Born, Raised, and Trained, the character grew up around the military, and received the rudiments of training. They begin with one purchase of Appraisal: Arms and Armor, and the Maintenance/Upkeep proficiency.

Merchant (MLC, ULC, Middle Class): A mercantile family, the character had begun to learn the value of items, but not yet the fine points of negotiation. They begin with two purchases of Appraisal (for the same or different commodities; their choice), and 10 additional silver.

Monastery (LLC, MLC): Raised in a strict monastic order, the character was relatively well-cared for, but had a more narrow view of the world. Begins with one mastery die in Religion, Literacy (Native Language), and Musician. However, they have only 15+2d12 silver pieces in starting equipment.

Orphanage (LLC, MLC): Raised in a group orphanage, the character had a rough life, but usually enough food and shelter, and the rudiments of education. Begin with one free purchase of the Religion, Musician, and a Craft skill, but only 30+2d12 silver pieces in starting money and equipment.

Pastoral (Slave, LLC, MLC): The pastoral family has enough of their herd animals to live, but seldom enough to really enrich themselves; some may also be animal handlers, drovers, or mule wranglers on merchant caravans, or stable keepers for inns. Their Upper Lower Class and Middle Class counterparts are Ranchers, who own the land and significant herds. The character begins with one purchase each of Animal Empathy, Animal Herding, Animal Husbandry, and Weather Sense.

Rancher (ULC, Middle Class): The character comes not from drovers, but from ranch owners. Their family owned a sizable herd (or several herds) of some beast, and made good money selling meat, hides, and animals. The character begins with one purchase of Administration, Animal Herding, and Animal Husbandry.

Service (Slave, LLC, MLC): The character’s family was involved in services; they didn’t serve nobles, and did not own the establishment, but they were waiters, inn staff, or sex workers. As younger helpers, the character received one purchase of Cooking/Baking, Fire Building, and two purchases of Language (either one or two different languages, neither in their native language).

Street (LLC): Bounced from gang to protector to living on their own, the character was raised without any formal parent or singular mentor. As a result, the character has a free purchase in Glean Information, Hiding, and Urban Survival, but a two-point penalty in starting Honor and only 30+2d12 silver pieces in starting money and equipment

Wilderness (Slave, LLC, MLC, ULC): Perhaps it was among the Dejy who travel from the Hadaf Highlands to the Padiras River Valley each year, among hunters in the woodlands of Kalamar, or even among the grel or the orcs, but the character grew up in the wilderness, only loosely connected to settled land. They receive one free purchase of Survival, as well as Weather Sense and a single Craft. However, they also only have 25+2d12p silver pieces with which to purchase equipment.

Quality of Upbringing
While one’s background can inform a lot about them, so, too, does how well they were raised. The circumstances of their raising may vary widely, even with the same general background; someone raised in an orphanage run by the Home Foundation is going to have a far different life than one raised in an orphanage run by the House of Vice or the House of Shackles.
Some of these results will grant, or take away, build points; if the player chooses, Build Points taken away due to background can be converted to a penalty to starting money at a rate of 5 silver per Build Point. Mandatory Quirks or Flaws MUST be taken, and may be cherry-picked, and BP may be spent to reroll them, but provide BPs as any other Quirks and Flaws; they simply are not optional for your character.

*01-37 4 bp: Through luck, good parenting, or a unique alignment of environment and temperament, the character thrived in their childhood. As a result, they have a bonus of 4 BPs to be spent at character creation

*38-53 2 bp: A few good mentors or lucky breaks can make all the difference; the character receives a bonus of 2 build points

*54-65 0 bp

*66-76 2 bp and Mandatory Quirk or Flaw: You win some and you lose some. While the character gained some advantage from their upbringing, they also had what might be called a "learning opportunity", acquiring a quirk or flaw, in addition to 2 bonus BP

*77-85 0 bp

*86-90 -2 BP: Something retarded this character's education; it may have been an abusive parent, an illness (since ended) that prevented them from learning some crucial skill, or being raised in enough isolation that they did not get the mentorship they needed. However, as a result, the character has 2 less build points than normal.

*91-95 Mandatory quirk or flaw: Some particular "learning experience" stays with the character to this day; a quirk or flaw that persists into adulthood, that may have built character, but also imposes its own unique difficulty on their current life.

*96-98 -4 BP: Circumstances did not favor this character. Some factor in their life; it may be an unhelpful master in their apprenticeship, a tragic loss in their family, or even something as severe as a war disrupting an entire region; devastated their early education. They have 4 BP less than normal, and nothing to show for it, save some really depressing stories.

*99 -2 BP and Mandatory Quirk or Flaw: Bad circumstances plagued this character's early life, and while they left their mark on the character, they also left them a little behind. In addition to a mandatory quirk or flaw, the character is short 2 BP.

*00 Two Mandatory Quirks or Flaws: Is it the accumulation of injuries, a variety of character flaws, or just an odd roll of the die from Draper? Regardless, the character has two mandatory Quirks or flaws.

Self Esteem (Talent)

Self Esteem (20)

While aware of their looks, the character is less affected by the opinions of others about them, and so their Looks attribute has less of a negative effect on their Charisma. When taken, the character removes half of the penalty to their Charisma due to their looks. Furthermore, in the future, a full-point change to the Looks attribute (positive or negative) will only result in a 50% fractional change to Charisma. The restoration of Charisma due to lessening of the Looks does not restore the Bonus BP for Charisma skills.
Gnomes may purchase this Talent for only 10 BPs.

Love is a Social Disease

Two STIs for Hackmaster, in case someone rolls the Lusty quirk.

Communicability: 8
Severity: 4

Where is the disease found: Herpes is most commonly thought of as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can happen fairly easily with skin to skin contact when actively infectious.

Minor Effect: Initial infection will result in painful sores within 4d6p days, on or near the mouth, armpits, and groin. These sores cause a -2 to Attack, Damage, and Defense, and a -10% to skills, for 3d6p days, after which they will scab over and go dormant. Every 1d6p months, the sores will reappear, but the character may make another severity check; failure causes no additional difficulty, but success adds +1 to the time between future outbreaks.

Major Effect: Initial infection will result in painful sores within 4d6p days, on or near the mouth, armpits, and groin. Outbreaks are accompanied by fevers and pain in the back, head, and while urinating. This causes a -4 to Attack, Damage, and Defense, as well as a -20% to skills until the virus goes dormant in 3d6p days. Every 1d6p months, the sores will reappear, but the character may make another Severity test. If successful, the severity is reduced to Minor.

Treatment: Active herpes outbreaks can be managed, reducing pain and duration of symptoms. With Average First Aid and someone dedicated to nursing the character, reduce penalties by 1/5%, and reduce symptoms outbreaks by 1 day per mastery level of First Aid above Average (minimum 3). With Master mastery of First Aid, penalties may be reduced by 1/5% (to a minimum of -1/-5%). Botany of at least Average adds 1 effective mastery level of First Aid (reducing symptoms by an additional day, and possibly reducing the penalties). Herpes is not curable, save by magic; if the Treat Disease spell is successfully used on someone with the Minor Effect, the disease will be completely cured.

Syphilis aka The Shepherd's Lament
Communicability: 8
Severity: 2

Syphilis is most often thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, and it spreads most easily by contact between mucous membranes... mouth, anus, genitals, and so on. Originally, it is thought to have come from inappropriate contact with sheep, llamas, and alpacas, leading to its nickname of "The Shepherd's Lament".

Minor Effect: Syphilis does not have a Minor and Major effect. If one contracts it as a Minor Effect, it begins mild, but will upgrade to a Major effect if not treated within a year. It's initial stages are marked by rashes; -1d10p% on Looks for a space of 4d6p weeks, with the penalty going away at the end. If untreated, a secondary stage develops, 1d6p months after infection, which will see a spread of rashes, inflicting 10d10p% to Looks, and -10% on skills.

Major Effect: Untreated, or with a disastrous early exposure, syphilis begins to attack the heart, brain, and nerves. This manifests as a degradation of ability; Each month, roll 1d8. The corresponding attribute suffers a penalty of 5d10p% fractional damage (an 8 indicates that no penalty is taken that month). If subsequently cured, the damage is not restored, but it does abate. Should any ability go below 1/01 from this disease, the character dies.

Treatment: Syphilis is relatively easily treated; with Advanced mastery in First Aid, combined with at least Average Botany, the character may be allowed a reroll of communicability, possibly ending the disease. If the subject of a successful Treat Disease spell, the disease will likewise abate quietly. Any damage caused by the Major Effect of the disease will remain, however.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Savage Scrols: The Elder Scrolls in Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition

This is an archival edition of my original Savage Scrolls post, which is designed for the Deluxe Edition. The page above is now for the Adventure Edition update.

A Savage Worlds Hack for The Elder Scrolls
Like a lot of people, I've sunk a good number of hours into the various Elder Scrolls games. I started back with Arena in the late 90s, got really frustrated with Daggerfall, actually managed to beat Morrowind, and have ongoing games in both Oblivion and Skyrim (mostly Skyrim). To that end, I wanted to use Savage Worlds, my favorite generic system, to make a tabletop version of The Elder Scrolls world. This is missing a lot of specific conversions... I didn't recreate trolls or falmer or chaurus. My goal was get to the broad strokes down, the basics of character creation, so those who wanted to play had a place to start. I based this on the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition.

Friday, October 11, 2019

A CP-Based AD&D

Link to the material here.

So, a very long time ago, before there was officially a 3rd edition D&D, I launched an ambitious project: I was going to use the Skills and Powers and Spells and Magic Character Point (CP) system to remake AD&D. I had roughed out some changes to make to the system; I was planning on splitting Defense from Armor, with armor providing damage reduction. Races would be a basic chassis of natural abilities with a slate of optional, cultural, abilities to choose from, and classes would be based on a three-class system of Warrior, Rogue, and Magic-User. I developed a lot of it, but Wizards of the Coast announcing their official 3e took some wind out of my sails, and it wasn't long thereafter I began writing my first book for Palladium, Mysteries of Magic (of which, sadly, only a small part has been published, and that 10 years ago).

Time went on. I worked on other projects, but the idea kept coming back to me.

The material at the link above is the most recent peak in that idea. This defaults largely back to the 2nd edition rules, and does not include a set way of increasing skills so gained (such as Sleight of Hand or Stealth); it may in the future. As presented, there are no guidelines for creating a class in it, but the last few years have led me to like single XP tables for class-based games; rather than balancing various abilities and various XP tables, there's a simplicity in balancing everything on a single XP table, and making efforts to balance every class on that, itself. To that end, I propose two solutions, depending on your love of crunch.

1) Allow everyone to build their character, and set an XP table based on their total cost. To do this, you reference the "create a class" rules in the 2nd edition Dungeon Master's Guide, and give a 0.05 multiplier on the XP table (Table 21) for every point used in class creation (and, thus, a full 1 multiplier for every 20 points spent). Everyone will have a different XP table, but it will be one they've chosen, based on what they want to do.

2) Set an XP table, set a CP cost, and let people design their own classes. If you give everyone 200 CP, you can make most characters in standard AD&D; lower numbers might require some hard choices. Everyone is on the same XP table, and everyone has the same starting CPs, so everyone should be more or less equal. You can set whatever XP table you like, but using the method of determining XP table in option 1 isn't the worst way you can do it.

I'm posting a link to this, rather than copy-pasting the whole document, because I intend to make occasional changes to it as I go along; I'm still interested in adding some rules for creating psionic characters, for example, but that requires me to decide which psionics system from AD&D I want to use, or if I want to volunteer my own.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Other 0th Level

One place where I diverge from the Hackmaster Development Team is that I like rules to build my 0th level NPCs. While there’s certainly value in “Make your NPC however you want, giving them whatever scores they need”, I prefer having a bit more structure to help guide me on what’s likely and reasonable for a given character; penetrating rolls may make for unusually talented characters, but the structure gives me comfort.

To that end, I have created these rules for mechanically describing 0th level characters of all sorts. A GM is, of course, free to use these rules in some places, yet ignore them in others… if you need there to be an expert carpenter among the bandits, then there is… but their purpose is to provide a framework for what an NPC of a given age might be capable of.

Character Generation or Growing Up Normal
Step 1: Receive BPs. NPCs, like PCs, begin with 40 BP.

Step 2: Generate Ability scores. While rolling 3d6 in order is still suggested, a 0 level NPC receives NO bonus BPs for keeping their stats in the rolled order.

Step 3: Choose a race and alignment. The race may modify ability scores; those modifications should be made now. If the racial ability modifiers would reduce a score below 1, the score remains at 1/01.

Step 4: Finalize Ability Scores. If you choose, you may spend BPs to increase attributes, as with PCs.

Step 5: Calculate Starting Honor. 0 level NPCs begin with a penalty of 4 to Honor. Unlike PCs, a negative or 0 Honor does not preclude the character, but any negative numbers in honor are raised to 0.

Step 6: Determine Priors and Particulars. Unchanged from PC generation step 7.

Step 7: Determine Quirks and Flaws. While not necessary, giving an NPC a quirk or flaw can help make them memorable, both for you and the PCs. As a bonus, NPCs get full BPs from cherry-picked quirks and flaws; if you need an NPC to be blind, they are blind, and it is blind fate (i.e. the GM) that determined it, not a player looking to cage some extra build points.

Step 8: Determine Skills, Talents, and Proficiencies. 0 level NPCs who pursue weapon specialization do so at 8 BPs per category per level.

Step 9: Roll Hit Points. The default Hit Die for 0 level NPCs is 1d6, in addition to Constitution and a bonus for size.

Step 10: Record Combat statistics.

Step 11: Finalize the character; give them money, equipment, and other accoutrements as befits their character.

This represents a character of about starting age; just entering adulthood, as defined on page 135 of the GMG.

After Growing Up
Subsequent to character generation, people advance and grow, improving their skills with experience, and learning new ones as they go along. To represent this, Human 0 level NPCs gain 3 BP per year after maturity; a human is counted as mature at 18, and so a 21 year old NPC Human would have an additional 12 BPs to spend on skills. For other races, this should be prorated according to their longevity. Accordingly

Dwarves: 3 BP per 2 years
Elves: 1 BP per 10 years
Gnomes: 1 BP per year
Gnome Titans: 1 BP per year
Grel: 2 BP per year
Half-elf: 2 BP per year
Sil-karg 2 BP per year
Half-orc 3 BP per year
Halfling 2 BP per year

If the GM wishes to represent some specific, formal, training the NPC might have acquired, they may attend a kobar, university, guild, or some other source of formal training. Once at maturity, and once again per 15 BP acquired due to age, the GM may choose to have the NPC attend some sort of formal training, and roll on the Formal Training Event table in the GMG.

This process is obviously much longer than the standard “Determine a name, race, and a couple of salient skills”, but it can be useful for NPCs that are intended to be important (for example, torchbearers, alchemists, or others the PCs will interact with frequently), or as a means to advance NPCs when time skips or long campaigns demand that 0th level NPCs become more than they were.

NPCs and Honor
The Honor of NPCs doesn’t vary that much; unless they’re involved in some risky business, their honor will remain steady for a long time. Every time they receive BPs (once per year for most races; once every two or ten for dwarves and elves, respectively), their honor resets one point towards 11 + their honor modifiers for Charisma and Looks.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Truth about Ogres

Ogres are a scourge upon human lands in Palladium Fantasy. Gigantic, with the strength of ten men, they prey upon the livestock of human holdings and kidnap women to propagate their cruel race. But, sometimes, ogres are born to humans unbidden. Though they are counted as their own race, ogres are clearly not their own species.

Ogres: The Secret History
Before the fall of Atlantis, millennia ago, the human species spread throughout the Megaverse. Advanced science, medicine, and magic made the natives of Atlantis something akin to the “lesser” humans of the worlds; taller, stronger, wiser, ubermensch without the sinister connotations that concept would later acquire. Cultural taboos kept the Atlanteans from mingling too closely with other humans, and advanced medicine kept any mistakes from happening. But, then, Atlantis fell, and the scattered children of that great nation became refugees, frequently disconnected from their kin and bereft of the benefits of their society. And, in such a situation, they mingled with the humans around them, and gave birth to abominations.
To achieve the stature and longevity of the True Atlanteans, certain changes were made from the human baseline. You cannot live for centuries in a standard human form; touches must be made to allow it to endure the march of years. Some of this can be done simply, with access to healing magics and psionics; the wear and tear a normal body takes is restored with magical healing in the way the crude medicine of the 21st century can not even dream of. But there were also tweaks to genetics, making a body that would be easier to repair, and wear out less quickly. Atlantean medicine helped to direct those changes and make the Atlanteans who they wished to be. But, deprived of that medical knowledge, and subjected to generations of interbreeding, those changes manifested as monstrous mutations. An Atlantean’s great height compared to mortal men became gigantism. Their modestly enhanced strength became mighty thews; their endurance became legendary, with hair grown wild and claw-like fingernails. Teeth meant to repair themselves over centuries of use became fangs that shredded flesh and replaced themselves when broken.
More succinctly, ogres are the eventual result of the interbreeding of humans and True Atlanteans, when deprived of Atlantean medicine and magic. They are not a simple crossbreed, but a subspecies derived from the hybridization of two distinct subspecies, then subjected to environmental stresses (or, more accurately, deprived of environmental supports). This is why they take so well to tattoo magic, and other mystical arts thought to be wholly human; they are, themselves, wholly human, born of two lines rejoining in desperate situations.

Body and Mind

So, what is an ogre, beyond a man writ large? Most often, they are male; the genetic manipulation and mutation which made ogres possible seems to favor the viability of male fetuses. Their features are often caricatures of human strength; the “strong jaw” of a dashing human hero is a granite slab attached with powerful muscles to an ogre’s skull. Their eyes are bright, but in a way that transcends intelligence and speaks of mania. All ogres are exceptionally hairy, but in very human ways; they do not grow fur or a pelt, but nor do they frequently suffer from male pattern baldness. It is an effect that humans find disturbing, especially when paired with their great size.
Though much is made of ogres’ claws and bite, it is important to realize that these are not fearsome weapons; their claw-like nails are no more damaging than their fists, and their canines can cause a serious wound, but not much more than one would receive from a ten foot tall human. What matters far more is an ogre’s willingness to use these weapons; a human would not bite, save in the most dire of circumstances, but an ogre will do so out of perverse joy. Men prefer a solid fist, but ogres know that the pain of a claw-rake is almost as good, and far more scarring.
Mentally, ogres are on par with humans, but they are not as easily psychic as their smaller kin. Ogres can and do study psychic professions; they are capable psi-healers, psi-mystics, and even mind mages. But without that study, they are unlikely to have any psionic powers. Some of this seems to extend to the more mundane form of empathy; ogres don’t really “get” people and what motivates them, which results in the decrease of their Mental Affinity attribute. When trained, however, ogres are as able and adept at mental games as any human.
Ogres are, thankfully, born mostly on the human scale, though at the larger end of it; whereas a human child will be between 5 and a half to almost nine pounds, an average ogre child will be between seven to ten pounds. Some very large ogre children have been born; fifteen to twenty pounds have been reported, but usually only with magical or psionic aid. After birth, however, they grow relatively rapidly, often reaching five or six feet tall by the time they are eight years old, after which their growth steadies, adding one inch to their height every year or two. This growth continues throughout their life; the tallest ogres are often the eldest, with truly exceptional and ancient ogres approaching fifteen feet tall; far more common among adults is 7-12 feet, however.
As is known, many ogre women are sterile, or have trouble giving birth. This leads ogre men to kidnap and rape human women, forcing them to bring the children to term, sometimes repeatedly. In most cases, the offspring of these are ogres, and most of the ogres born are male. Female ogres are a rarity, as are non-ogre offspring; perhaps one child in ten will not be an ogre, and perhaps one ogre in ten will be female. Non-ogre offspring, however, may go on to later bear or sire ogre children of their own, the essential sequences of DNA having been dormant in themselves, but awakening in their children.

Ogres in Society, and Ogre Society
Ogres raised in human lands are almost always treated as brutes. They are no less intelligent than the humans who surround them (on average), but their great size and strength means that humans invariably channel them towards physical pursuits (when they don’t simply kill them). Some of these ogres are anomalies; the children of humans who had an ogre parent or grandparent. Others are the children of women rescued from captivity. There are some rare ogres who simply make their homes among humans, or ogre children adopted by human or non-human parents who round out this population. Still, though, most are pointed towards things at which they will exceed human capacity… feats of strength, and professions to match. An ogre could become a bard or a ballerina, but they would be no better than a human at either. An ogre gladiator or longshoreman, however, would have a leg up, so to speak, simply by being a few heads taller than everyone else.
When in giant society, ogres are often regarded as useful and clever. While not all giants are terribly stupid, ogres are cleverer than many of a giant’s other minions, while no physical threat to the giant. As such, giant sorcerers have no shortage of eager ogre apprentices, and giants prize ogres as taskmasters; intimidating to an orc, and not likely to be outsmarted by a goblin.
When on their own, with neither humans nor giants to tell them what to do, ogres compete. Ogres don’t get particularly bent out of shape about losing to an obvious superior; they may be big, strong, and tough, but they know that trolls are bigger, stronger, and tougher, so there’s not much to be lost by being less than them… but other ogres are competition. Every task an ogre may engage in with another ogre may turn into a competition. Who hauled the most barrels? Who slew the most foes? Who fathered the most sons? Two ogres at a latrine will try to pee farther and longer than each other; two ogres at a table will try to out eat and out drink their “opponent”. Every ogre is the opponent of every other ogre, and one who is consistently at the bottom of the rankings is one who will “receive” the “opportunity” to “prove themselves”... horrible jobs, dangerous assignments, and the worst equipment. Why, if they can overcome those obstacles, they must truly be a great; if they cannot, well, then they deserve whatever they get.
The strength of ogres tends to attract other humanoids, attracted to that strength. Orcs and goblins are both commonly part of ogre-centered communities, with the ogres serving as an aristocracy, of sorts, to their lesser tribe-mates. The rules of the ogres govern how they can treat their tribe-mates, though it is usually with a mixture of aloofness, disdain, and brutality; there’s no competition in being better than an orc, after all.
What surprises many is the fondness ogres have for animals; though they’re happily omnivorous, they seem to prefer a pastoral lifestyle, if there’s no way to make a living fighting. They will herd animals, hunt with hawks and dogs, even keep horses, though most ogres are far too large to ride. Ogres with magical powers often seek out beasts to make a connection with; familiars, yes, but even simply wild creatures tamed through a combination of magic and ogre stubbornness.

Ogre Party
Ogres in a traditional adventuring party might be found in any role; they may be warriors, archers, priests, or magicians. The ogre relationship with humans means that they often must be careful if adventuring in the Eastern Territory, Western Empire, or Timiro; while there are some home-grown ogres in these places, raised among humans, the default reaction to a free ogre is, at best, wariness. In the Northern Wilderness, free ogres have fewer restrictions; they don’t intimidate wolfen, much, and the canines are far more willing to see what the ogre will do before they decide who he is.
Travelling with an ogre does pose some problems. Most obviously, ogres consume a LOT of food; three to four times what a human eats is close to a starvation diet for an ogre. Their gear is likewise large and, except in wolfen territory, hard to come by (and they tend to find even wolfen weapons a bit small). Ogres can seldom buy “off-the-rack”, and that comes at a premium. Furthermore, their size can make it difficult to acquire riding animals for them, so groups are usually travelling at the speed of ogre. As ogres have few notable empires of the past, or alchemists of note, they may also find appropriate magical gear difficult to acquire.
As noted above, ogres frequently are too large to ride horses, which can cause them some difficulty as Knights or Palladins. Ogres raised to those classes, however, frequently study other methods, such as the Way of the Landsknecht, below.

Way of the Landsknecht
For many reasons, there are those who are knights (or Palladins; this option applies equally to them) who do not ride horses. In the case of ogres, they are simply too big to do so, and suitable mounts for their size are hard to come by. For others, they may live in places where knighthood flourishes but horses, sadly, do not. To them is the Way of the Landsknecht. This replaces both the Way of the Horse and the Way of the Lance for Palladins and Knights.
Landsknecht are heavy infantry, drilled in the use of two or three weapons: the Pike, a long spear more than double their own height in length, and a Cleaver; either a pole-axe like a halberd, or a two-handed sword. Whereas traditional knights are trained to fight from horseback, the Landsknecht are trained to deal with cavalry; killing horses and unseating riders with the Pike, and fighting heavily armored troops on the ground with the cleaver.

Way of the Pike: The Landsknecht is skilled in the use of the pike as a weapon in combat and for tournaments. The character gets the equivalent of W.P. Spear with the following abilities and bonuses when facing mounted opponents, or those larger than themselves.
The player must announce their character's intention to inflict damage, disarm, or unseat their opponent. If the player chooses to unseat, a roll of 19 or higher (including bonuses) means the strike unseats or knocks down their opponent.
Opponents unseated from horseback suffer normal damage from the pike, and are knocked off their horse and take an additional 1D6 damage unless they successfully roll with impact/fall. The fallen rider also loses initiative and one melee action/attack. An opponent who is not or horseback, but standing on the ground can be knocked off their feet and on their backside with the same result, except no additional damage from the fall.
In the alternative, the Landsknecht can try to disarm a larger or mounted opponent with the pike. Roll to strike as usual, but if the defender fails to parry or dodge, the Landsknecht successfully strikes them in such a way that they drop their weapon or shield. The player must announce their character's intention to disarm their opponent and make a "called shot," indicating what item they are trying to knock out of the foe's hands. This attack can also be used to knock off any hat or helmet that isn't bolted directly to the body armor. This attack is often used by Landsknechts for fun and games, as a warning, or an attempt to frighten away or discourage an opponent rather than engage in a battle to the death.
Any time the Landsknecht rolls a Critical Strike with a pike, they may choose to inflict a higher multiple of damage (*3 instead of *2; *4 instead of *3), or they may apply knockdown or disarm, even if they did not declare it.

Way of the Cleaver: The Way of the Cleaver is used when facing heavily armored foes; anyone whose AR is 14 or higher. For those wearing artificial armor whose non-magical AR is 14 or greater*, the Landsknecht may intentionally attack the armor, not the opponent inside. In doing so, they inflict no damage on the opponent, but inflict an additional 6 damage on the armor with each successful strike. Furthermore, if the opponent is not aware that this is the Landsknecht’s intent, they receive a parry penalty equal to half their AR (rounded down); they are attempting to deflect hits with their armor, when hitting their armor is exactly what the Landsknecht intends! If the opponent becomes aware of this, the parry penalty drops to only -2; dodges have no penalty, regardless.
For those with natural armor whose AR exceeds 14, Landsknechts may attempt to weaken their armor. The Landsknecht receives no bonus to hit or damage, but on any critical strike, they may either roll double damage, or reduce the opponent’s AR by 1 point (to a minimum of half their original AR, rounded up). Lost points of AR return like hit points, either through natural healing, bio-regeneration, or healing magics.
The Way of the Cleaver requires a large, two-handed sword, or a two-handed pole-axe, such as a halberd or voulge.

*For example, someone wearing Full Chain has an AR of 14 or greater, and even if the AR were magically enhanced, it would qualify. Someone wearing Leather of Iron, a Cloak of Armor, or even AR-enhanced Studded Leather would not be a viable target; while their armor may possess an AR of 14 or more, it does not have a non-magical AR of that level.