Thursday, January 23, 2020

Slow-Haul Freighter

Slow Haul Freighter

The Slow-Haul Freighter is a ship designed for simple, consistent supply runs. Compared to higher-end ships, they take a very long time to reach anywhere. They also have no armament, minimal shields, and little space for passengers. Favored by loners, writers, and others unbothered by long periods alone (or with droids), the Slow-Haul Freighter also sees some popularity as a "trainer ship" for introducing young pilots to astrogation and hyperspace.
When used in convoys, it is not uncommon for one ship's container to have 4-5 drone fighters for defense.

(Image is a Sikorsky Skycrane Helicopter, which was a partial visual inspiration; however, for the SHF, the cockpit of the Skycrane would be the engines, while the body would be the cabin of the SHF)

Druid/Illusionist D&D

This was an odd little idea I played with, of removing the Magic-User and Cleric classes, and replacing them entirely with Druids and Illusionists. Druids dealt in Real things; fire, earth, blood and bone. Illusionists dealt in the quasi-real... light, illusion, shadow. The result is what is below. (Sorry about the formatting; Blogger does NOT play nice with stuff copied from GoogleSheets, and has little native WYSIWYG table support).

Spellcaster Class

Spellcasters have mastered one of the two arcane arts of the world, known as "druids" and "illusionists". While mechanically similar, the two arts themselves are very different, each relying on a different secret language and very different mindsets. Druidic magic focuses on the physical world, the natural elements, and plants and animals. Illusionist magic focuses on perceptions, the mind, and, as it advances, alternate dimensions. These are not exclusive, however; any druid spell can be created as an illusionist spell with at most a two-level increase, and vice versa. 6th and 7th level spells are not usually subject to this, representing deep secrets and specializations within their respective schools. In choosing the spellcaster class, one must choose to be a Druid or an Illusionist; that choice will determine the spells available and the skills developed. The two classes share an experience chart, HD progression, and combat table.

Spellcasters must be both quick and strong of mind, requiring a 15 Intelligence and a 12 in Wisdom. They are limited in spell knowledge based on their Intelligence (see Intelligence Table II), but gain bonus spells known, and suffer spell failure chances by comparing their Charisma to Wisdom Table II; facility with the use of language helps them learn additional low-level spells, and avoid mishaps. Their maximum spell level is determined by their Wisdom (see Wisdom Table I), but they gain bonus spells per day by comparing their Constitution to Wisdom table II; spellcasting is enervating, but those with healthy constitutions can avoid those difficulties. Both classes keep spellbooks of known spells in their secret languages.

Spellcasters fight on the table for thieves, and make saving throws on the table for priests. They may not wear armor made of metal, nor use any weapon, tool, or shield of metal more than 30gp in weight. They begin with proficiency in two weapons, receive an additional proficiency every five levels, and suffer a -4 penalty with all weapons with which they are not proficient. Demi-humans and Semi-humans may be multi-classed spellcasters, including Druid/Illusionists. There are no alignment restrictions on either Druids or Illusionists, nor requirements to fight for more advanced levels. Druids tend to be more lawful, and illusionists tend to be more chaotic, but it is not a requirement or impediment.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Bulwarks in Star Wars d6

Hand-held, physical shields have seen cycles of popularity in the galaxy; they will be in fashion for a time, out of fashion for longer, then "rediscovered" by those seeking a stylish mode of self-defense. Most often, these devices are collectively known as "bulwarks", so as to not confuse them with the far more common particle and ray shields.

(art is some of Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art for Star Wars)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

They Who Live Still

More Dragonsfoot Challenges! This time, for a magical weapon that was not a sword.


Once upon a time, there was a party of adventurers. Powerful men and women, humans and demi-humans, who strove mightily against the darkness that flows across the world, only sometimes held back by stalwarts such as these, creating the rills and eddies where light can flourish. With mighty thews and clever tricks, powerful incantations and weird magics, they fought, they won, and they celebrated life, until, one by one, it was time to leave it.

The humans passed first, of course, their flames so bright but so brief. The halfling followed, off to find some greater comfort beyond her days, and then the dwarf, his clan mourning in the city he had built. In the pass of some few centuries, all that remained was the gnome. He'd visited each of his friends in their final years, and been present when each passed, laying a knife on their breast in the final moments. And, in the fullness of years, the gnome passed too, the knife upon his breast.

The gnome, you see, had no intention of spending his centuries without his friends. They live on, inside the blade he created, inside the there in his lonesome burrow. They relive the glory of their days, eternally, until disturbed by mortals. Using powerful magics, he captured their spirits at the moment of death, bound them into the blade, and uses illusions to let them live eternally young and strong.

But the illusions are not limited to the blade. As the years have passed and the blade has laid undisturbed, the stories created have spread beyond the blade, beyond the burrow, until the countryside for near a mile in any direction is awash with illusionary stories of battles long past. Anyone trying to win through to disturb the blade is recognized and slowly drawn into the illusion, battling foes that are not real, meeting friends who have no substance, and carousing at victory feasts which contain no nourishment, until they are dead from the joy of living.

Nevyn & Flint

Another Dragonsfoot challenge, this was to create an "odd couple"; a pair of NPCs that could be used together. These actually came from some Hackmaster pregens I wrote for a Con... Nevyn was a Gnome Rogue with the Needy Flaw, while Flint was a halfling thief who had Pocking, an usually low intelligence, and an unusually high skill in Fire Building (several good penetrations on his rolls).

Nevyn and Flint

Nevyn Gilderstomp and the halfling known as Flint are a match made in therapy.
Flint is... damaged. While Nevyn isn't quite sure if it's injury or nature, Flint is a profoundly simple person, with a knack for legerdermain and a passion for setting fires. In idle moments, if not constrained, he'll scrape a piece of flint along a blade, watching the shower of sparks. If not given something to do for some time, he sets small fires, just to watch them burn. Most of his fires are small and personal... a few lit twigs, fed with leaves. But Flint seldom takes precautions, and so those small fires can rage out of control. His Ring of Sparks will frequently protect him from real harm (as he'll instinctively smother the fire with Affect Normal Fires), but too many fires in a day and the ring may be exhausted... and anger or fear sometimes causes the fire to explode into pyrotechnics. Flint LOVES Nevyn. Nevyn is funny and sings and doesn't yell at him. Nevyn tells funny stories and doesn't try to stop Flint from making the glowing lights.
Nevyn is an insecure wreck. He constantly worries about what others think of him, and absolutely HATES conflict, seeking to flee at raised voices. Despite his high charisma, he is obsequious and unctuous, trying to make sure everyone likes him by being servile and inoffensive. He LIKES Flint, because Flint likes him without reserve. Flint does what he says, and never questions it. Flint laughs at his jokes, even if Nevyn isn't sure they're funny. Flint claps when he sings or plays or dances, even if Nevyn isn't sure that they sound right. Flint is the friend he always wanted, because Flint doesn't make him feel worried about what he's done. Nevyn doesn't know about Flint's ring... he's seen it, of course, but he doesn't realize it's magical, nor the source of their good fortune with Flint's "little fires."

Campaign Use: Flint and Nevyn might come together as hirelings, or be members of a local guild that the players need to interact with; Flint is a highly effective arsonist, especially if Nevyn goads him into it... and Nevyn can be goaded into pretty much anything with the hint that you're going to raise your voice.

Nevyn Gilderstomp
3rd level CN Rock Gnome Bard
Str 7
Dex 13
Con 8
Int 13
Wis 7
Cha 17

HP: 8 AC: 8 (Bracers of defense)
CW: 55 (65) DN: 40 PP: 20 (25) RL: 25 (Values in parentheses are with no-armor bonus)
Spells: 2 first level/day. Friends, Hypnotism, Spook, Read Magic
WP: Dagger, short sword NWP: Singing, Dancing, Local History, Read/Write Gnomish, R/W Common, R/W Elven, Speak Gnomish, Common, Elven, Dwarvish, Goblin
Notable equipment: Bracers of Defense AC 8
Appearance: Nevyn is a fairly typical looking rock gnome, with the white hair, blue eyes, and dark skin of his people. However, those eyes always have a slight note of panic about them, and his smile always slightly pushes the line into desperate. He has a habit of wringing his hands while talking to people, but is very skilled at figuring out what people want him to be and how they want him to say what they want him to say. Nevyn is fairly protective of Flint, and will try to make sure he's taken care of.

3rd level TN Halfling Thief
Str 12
Dex 16
Con 13
Int 4
Wis 12
Cha 8

HP: 10 AC: 6 (Dex and armor)
PP: 35 OL: 40 FRT: 35 MS: 35 HS: 35 DN: 35 CW: 60
WP: Dagger, Sling NWP: Fire-building (14), Speak Common, Gnomish
Notable equipment: Ring of Sparks (Can cast Pyrotechnics and Affect Normal Fires; 10th level, but only 4 levels of spells a day)
Appearance: Flint's brown hair fringes a ruddy face scattered with what look like pockmarks. On closer examination, these are small burns; from where drafts blew sparks and embers into his face. If there is a fire nearby, Flint will always be looking towards it, rapt and rarely blinking; if his attention is drawn elsewhere for a moment, it will slowly drift back to the fire. He doesn't speak often; people get frustrated with his slow speech, and Nevyn will often interrupt him and say what he was really thinking, anyway, so he just lets Nevyn talk.

North [Location] College of Lore

A Dragonsfoot Challenge post (I'm going through the old challenges and finding my things I haven't posted yet).

North [Location] College of Lore

The North [Location*] College of Lore is one of the new wave of Bardic Colleges that aims to take advantage of a bard's eclectic pursuit of knowledge, becoming a clearinghouse of those things of interest to adventurers. Its symbol is a blue river on a field of green, inside a circle of gold, representing a few of its most cherished beliefs. Like a river might be, it is broad, but not necessarily terribly deep, and it flows through the portal to everything: gold. There are few more perfect symbols in all the planes.

The North [Location] College of Lore attracts priests, wizards, rogues, and warriors. Some stay as faculty, training younger members of the college and paying a portion of their fees to the college itself. Others come to study, seeking information in its broad library, or even paying for the privilege of copying spells from its spell tomes. Want to learn to protect yourself from pickpockets? The North [Location] College of Lore is always looking for people to be marks for pickpocket classes, and they'll be happy to teach you to avoid being pickpocketed at the same time. Need information on an obscure ruin or ancient dragon? The North [Location] College of Lore has a large library and librarians eager to help you.

While many pay in coin, the North [Location] College of Lore also takes payment in service or kind. If you want access to their spell library, they may charge you fees, or request that you scribe some scrolls for sale in their Scriptorium, or simply copy over books and spells in a fair hand. Fighters who wish to train may be drafted into training themselves, especially if they have expertise in rare weapons that they can pass on. Rogues might be hired to improve or test security, and there's always a need for priests to heal up injuries taken in training. Even psionicists with the power of Psychic Surgery may find breaks on tuition if they can help others unlock their own wild talents.

Prices at the North [Location] College of Lore are reasonable, by adventuring standards. If engaged in level training, prices are as in the DMG. Learning a spell from their library costs the same as having an NPC cast the spell (at the minimum level that spell is available; Remove Curse, a 4th level spell, will run 3500 gold), plus providing a copy of another spell of similar level that the library does not possess. If you don't have a spell the library needs (or don't wish to trade it), then the price triples. This is for the attempt, only; there's no guarantee that you will learn the spell. The library attracts sages for study, and so they are often available for consultation, at the usual rates, or the library may be able to provide referrals to sages with a given specialty (often asking for a few tens to hundreds of gold for the courtesy). Simply making use of the mundane library requires a monthly subscription of 100 gold pieces, plus an initial 200gp fee to be entered into the rolls as accepted subscribers (the 200gp fee involves the casting of a Wizard Mark on said rolls); the monthly subscription might be pro-rated down to 40 gold per week, but the fee is non-negotiable. Writing materials for taking notes costs extra.

Most mundane equipment is available at close to list price. Scrolls and potions are frequently available from the Scriptorium or Apothecary, and will cost 50% above the market value laid out in the DMG (page 121 of the 1e DMG). If offered in trade, they bring in the market value; if outright sold, the College will usually only pay 75% of market value. More exotic items are seldom available; the College keeps such items offered in trade or sale for the use of its faculty and staff.

The North [Location] College of Lore was founded by Kappelheim Tavartarr, a gnomish professor (bard kit) of great experience. He secured the location for the college (an old moathouse he cleared early in his career), and slowly built the college around it, encouraging his followers to study and teach; some of the 0-level fighters that formed his initial entourage became sages in their own right, while others became Weaponsmasters, scribes, or any of the other positions needed by the college. As this was more than 100 years ago, some of the gnomish and elvish followers remain on staff, while human followers have children and grandchildren who have entered into Kappelheim's service. Now a small town in its own right, with about 200 permanent residents (85% human and half-elven, 5% elven, 3% gnomish, 6% halfling, 1% dwarven), and between 20-50 transients at any given time. Joining the college as permanent faculty is difficult; Kappelheim and his associates will subject you to a lengthy and invasive magical, psionic, and mundane investigation, and generally only hire those who are committed to the college and of a steady temperament. 90% of those accepted as permanent faculty will be of lawful alignment, and less than 20% will be of evil alignment; more chaotic or malevolent individuals may be accepted as adjunct faculty, but seldom as full-time members of the community. Even still, faculty members must accept a geas to serve and protect the college.

*Plug in your favorite location; I considered both "Faerun" and "Flanaess", but you can plug in most anyplace. I kept almost writing "Texas".

Assassination in Progress

Another of the Dragonsfoot Monthly Challenge posts that I forgot to post, this one for an urban encounter.

Assassination in Progress

Time: Night in the city

Cast: Felix, half-orc cleric/assassin 4/9
His three Murderer assistants (assassin 4; if the encounter needs some juice, make one or more Fighter/Assassins)

Regulus, 8th level magic-user
His shield grogs (3 5th level fighters and 1 3rd level cleric)