Rules

Wear and Tear

Everything is subject to entropy. Things wear out, break down, splinter, crack, chip, corrode, dull, and eventually break into so many useless lumps of raw material. Everything, that is, except the gear carried and worn by most PCs.

So my party has been traveling through the Norwegian countryside, and have finally reached a stage of the journey from Canterbury, England to Oslo that requires them to camp. As such, I feel (quite naturally, I believe) that I have not challenged them quite enough to make it actually feel like they are isolated, days from help, and completely dependent on their own wit and logistical skill. Because they are. If something should go terribly wrong, likely one or more of them would die. Even if nothing untoward does happen, by the time they get back to civilization they will be filthy, dirty, smelly, tired, and ready to hole up in a swanky inn for a few days before continuing on. Or at least they should feel that way. I don’t think they will unless I do something to impress upon them that wandering the backcountry is no walk in the park.

So I turned to my usual resource in situations like this, Alexis Smolensk over at his blog, the Tao of D&D. Specifically, a couple of posts titled Breaking Camp and Half Life. He tossed out an idea for the gradual breakdown of gear over time, but didn’t develop it into a full system At the time. But since I’ve been cogitating over a similar subject (primarily with how rapidly clothes deteriorate with constant wear), I figured I’d have a go at fleshing it out a bit.

First, the original premise: each item has a “half life” in days, which may be shortened by extraordinary use, calculated on a sliding scale depending on the durability of the item in question. Second, a character may be more prone to breakage because a random element would be appropriate, and a wisdom check every so often seems like a good way for a character to inadvertently shorten the lifespan of his gear. Alexis also mentioned that some means of restoring lost days to gear could be included.

Now, a table:

So to start, the half life of gear is based on its material and quality of construction. Metal and stone are the most durable. So let’s throw out a number, say, 4000 days for a common metal (or mostly metal) item. That’s a ten year working life, roughly. Even without maintenance, common metal items should last the life of your adventurer.  Stone, being less elastic than metal, we’ll assign a value of 2000 days.  Wood, we’ll say 1000 days.  Leather, 800 days.  Cloth, ceramics and glass, 400 days.  Paper, 100 days.  A common quality suit of clothes should last about a year if well kept.

The point of this half life is, as stated above, to give an indication of how many days any given item can be expected to serve reliably.  Each day an item is put to use, or traveled around with, subtract one day from the half-life of the item.  If an item (such as a spellbook or glass bottles or some other fragile item) is properly stored and packed for travel inside a dedicated case, I would be willing to class that item as “stored,” and not subject to degradation due to travel.  Unless it’s remove from it’s strongbox and put to some use of course.  The case itself, though, would still be subject to such wear.

As to the quality of construction, the cost of higher quality items would indicate that an item so made is more durable and longer lasting than a run-of-the-mill item.  I’ve kept Alexis’ format of pricing multipliers, while adding a “cheapening” option.  The increase in durability isn’t on the same scale as the pricing, as it becomes a game of decreasing returns, as well as accounting for the fact that a lot of cost on the higher end models is accounted for by aesthetics in addition to durability.  A note about the “cheap” models: instead of the standard damage die in case of accident or misuse, two dice would be thrown instead of one.  I know this is “doubling up” on penalties for cheaper materials and construction, but with a base cost of half the normal item, I felt that further reducing the longevity of these items when used outside of everyday activities was justified.

Now about those damage dice.  Every time an item is used for a purpose for which it is not designed, the damage die indicated for the material is rolled, and the result is subtracted from the remaining life of the item.  Further, I would consider combat to be an extraordinary circumstance in any case, and would apply that damage for each round of combat that a weapon or shield is involved in, and once per combat for every item carried or worn externally during a fight.  Possibly more often, if circumstances warrant.  And then, if that isn’t enough, if you wish to target an individual item, each point of regular damage would translate nicely into one damage die per point of damage dealt.  That would also work well for things like fireballs, dragon breath, falling into acid, etc.

Also, I really like the idea of rolling a wisdom check every so often to see if inadvertent mishandling has caused the object in question to deteriorate faster than normal.  Alexis suggests once a day, but I think, to lighten bookkeeping, I’d check once per week.  A failed check would indicated the item took additional damage dice to it’s half-life.

But what about maintenance and repair?  That should be an option, right?  Of course right.  So, let’s say that with the expense of some time, minor materials (needle, thread, wax, oil, tools, etc.) and expertise you can restore days lost to damage or misuse to your poor items.  After 20 minutes working on one item to be maintained, make an Intelligence check (or a craft check, if that’s a thing in your game).  On a success, add a damage die back to the available life of the object +1.  If the intelligence check fails, take that amount away.  Add your craft bonus to the days added, or subtract your craft bonus from the damage dealt.  Cost of materials could be 1% of original price per repair, or some sort of multi-use “kit” could be worked up.  There is only so much maintenance that may be performed on an object however, so each additional 20 minutes spent in a week would impose a (cumulative) -2 penalty to each intelligence check and damage die roll.  Eventually you’d just be replacing finish or stitching unnecessary holes or scrubbing an already clean pair of pants.

Once the item has at long last worn through it’s useful life, and the remaining days equal 0, the item must make a Constitution check each time it is used.  If it fails the check, the item is broken and unusable until it is repaired.  The table indicates the effective Con score for each material type of common construction.  Each step up on the construction quality gives a +1 bonus to this score.  The Con scores for cheap items are at -2.

Once the item is broken, repairing it will take more time and material, as well as money if you don’t have the skills yourself to effectively repair the item yourself.  Exact prices negotiable, but I would lean towards 25% of the original product’s price in material, and that amount again in labor.  Further, since the original item is being used as a base, that raw material is more worn than the new, so any repaired item would have a half life of half it’s original life span.

What role could magic play in all of this? Well first of all, all magic items are of mastercraft quality, so they begin with the highest half life available for items of that material. Second, they will endure more abuse by only ever rolling a d4 damage die, and replace the standard Con score with the spellcasting ability score of its creator if that is higher.

All of that boiling down to yes, your magic items can break, and will, eventually.  Which just means you’ll have to find the magical weaponsmith (or jeweller or whomever) to get your precious things repaired.  And spells?  Well that all depends on the spells you have access to.  There aren’t a whole lot of spells that deal with repairing items, but as a general guide I’d consider them to only work on broken-broken items, or if they restore hit points or something similar, swap in returning damage dice like attacking individual items does.

So what do you think?  Are your PCs going to start breaking their stuff and wearing out their boots? What’s that?  They don’t want to track all of that?  What if I gave you a handy-dandy spreadsheet with all of that information built in?  What then?  Then it’s just a one-time process to put everything in, and then add in new stuff as it comes.  Easy-peasy.  Here’s a link.  I’m sure you are smart enough to figure out how it works.  Feel free to copy and reverse-engineer.  Or just paste it into your Excel- (or Google Sheets) based character sheet.

Wait a minute!  Food!  I forgot to address the issue of food.  Well, almost forgot, anyway.  Food is a special case, because it’s got a half-life of days, not months or years.  And I could work up a separate table for how long various foods last.  Oh, I guess I did.  Here it is:

Half Life Food TableThe categories could use some elucidation.  Hardy produce is everything like carrots, turnips, parsnips etc that can be stored in a root cellar for a while.  Durable hardy produce would be apples or potatoes that can last longer.  Delicate produce would be things like stonefruits, berries, leafy greens, etc.  Durable delicate produce things like citrus fruits or melons.  Hardy dairy would be cultured milk products, butter, thing like that.  Durable hardy dairy is hard cheeses encased in wax or other impermeable rind.  Delicate dairy is fresh milk or cream.  Durable delicate dairy would be soft cheeses, or cottage cheese, perhaps yogurt, and eggs.  Dry goods are flour, meal, cereals etc.  Durable dry goods things like whole grains, rice, seeds.  Fresh meat should be self explanatory, though durable fresh meat would be meat that has been lightly treated with some form of light preservation such as gravlax.  Preserved meat is things like salted meats, durable preserved meats being totally dried like jerky.  Baked goods would be bread, rolls, or cakes, durable baked goods being things like hardtack or crackers.

Foodstuffs lose a day off of their lifespan every day, regardless of whether they are being transported or in storage.  Rough handling or extreme changes in temperature (what constitutes “extreme” will vary by food type) will apply the damage die.   Once the lifespan of the food item has expired, it is spoiled.  If it is eaten after it has spoiled, the character doing the eating has a percent chance to get food poisoning (or other diseases if you want) equal to the number of days since it has spoiled TIMES the percent given.  Thus, four days after delicate dairy has gone off, there is a 100% chance that a character consuming it will get sick.

Cooking food after it has spoiled will reduce this chance to 1/10 of the disease chance, with a minimum of the base percentage.  Note that 100% is not the maximum percentage for the purpose of this calculation, and the percent chance of disease will again increase by the same percentage each day.  Cooking food before it has spoiled will add 1d4 days to the half-life of that item.  Foods made of combined elements will have a half-life of the ingredient with the shortest remaining time after the additional time added from cooking.

The Con score is included in case the food needs to make a save against some magical effect or physical destruction.

So there you have it.  A whole scheme for slowly breaking everything your PCs own.  Now repairs and maintenance will mean something, and your players will be relieved to finally get out of that dungeon and back into town to buy a new pair of pants.

Advertisements
Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Horseriding Mishaps

So, I imagine that a lot of PCs ride around on horses at least some of the time.  They are great for quicker long-distance travel, and make excellent platforms to fight from.  But, when was the last time one of those fantastic horses stepped in a hole or threw a shoe?  Horses shouldn’t just be a maintenance-free battle car, there is a reason that only nobles kept horses in the time period most games take place in.  Horses require care, lots of it.

First, the food.  Horses need to eat a lot, and frankly, the grass growing around the roadside just isn’t that great of quality.  Sure, it can keep the beast going through the day, but he also needs some real nutrition to maintain fighting trim.  Oats are called for, or some other “supplement” feed.  Every day.

Grooming is also rather important to keeping horses happy and healthy.  Removing parasites, detangling matted fur/manes, checking for sores under the saddle and straps, each should be done every day to prevent disease and pain in your beast of +1 fast travel.

Now for the meat of the matter.  Riding through difficult terrain.  Taking your horse “off-road” may seem like it would be a natural thing to do, after all, horses are animals, and animals wander all over the place, right?  True, animals go everywhere, but an animal is really suited to one kind of environment, and horses are great on the steppe.  Or they were, when they were smaller, more agile, and used to dealing with untamed grassy flatland every single day of their lives.  But nowadays, and in the days of your PCs as well, horses are bred, kept, trained, and pampered to maximize their usefulness to the human population.  Warhorses are heavy and powerful to cause as much damage as possible on the battlefield, riding horses are lighter (so they eat less), but strong enough to carry a person.  Draft horses are used for carrying or pulling loads along roads.  And each of them are raised in paddocks and trotted out to the pasture for training and exercise.

What happens when you take an animal that has known prepared surfaces all it’s life, and then make it run through wild forestland, over rocks, up mountains, across plowed fields and through deserts?  It’s not going to go so well.  Walking is one thing, of course, but running?  That’s a thousand pounds of horsemeat hurtling along at 25 mph on spindly little legs with not much time to look where each one is being placed.  There’s a pretty decent chance something bad is going to happen to a horse being put through that obstacle course.  Which is where the following table comes in.

Riding HazardsFor each minute spent travel at above a trot (The four speeds of horses being “Walk” “Trot” “Canter” and “Gallop”), roll a percent chance according to the terrain type.  If the chance for a mishap is rolled, then roll a d20 to see what kind of mishap occurs.  Feel free to adjust DCs and checks to suit your game.

Galloping through the woods is not something that is not normally done, and it should feel just as risky as it is in real life.  Please note, however, that galloping on a road is a different matter, as those surfaces are “prepared” in that they are generally well suited to foot and wheeled traffic.  Horses are used to roads, that’s why roads exist.  If it’s raining or the roads are otherwise less suited to traffic than normal, you can roll for the cropland mishap.

Categories: Discussion, Rules | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Armor as Damage Reduction

I use armor as damage reduction in my game. Not terribly complex, simple as using the armor class as the damage reduction value. Playing for 8 months with it now, I haven’t had any issues with it (but the highest level any character has gotten in that time is 3rd, it’s kind of slow moving). But I think I will once levels start creeping a little higher.

See, I had the good fortune to be able to add another player recently,and in the process of explaining the armor thing, he asked if there were other ways to increase AC. I still use AC, it’s dex and shields which avoid hits, armor makes them less damaging. Which started me thinking, “Hmm… If AC is going to stay around 12-16 for most characters, BAB is going to become meaningless pretty quick.” So I thought some more and, as is my usual, I devised an elegant solution. Allow players to increase either BAB or a “class defense” bonus every time they would get an increase in BAB.

See, the reason it’s so elegant is 1) I don’t have to rewrite the class tables, 2) it provides another way to customize for the players, and 3) it keeps the balance of to-hit and AC aligned, while maintaining the damage reduction role of the armor.

I realize that keeping pace between to hit and AC will mean fewer attacks per round at higher levels, it also means there is an opportunity to unbalance characters, to focus either on hitting or attacking. Personality in combat through the rules.

But I think it all works.  I’ve kind of intellectually taken issue with the idea of 4 effective attacks in the space of 6 seconds anyhow, so this will also have the effect of making that more realistic, and making combat even more deadly than it has been in my game.

Categories: Campaign, Rules | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Dragon Fever

So you’ve all seen the last (finally…) Hobbit movie, right?  The one where Thorin goes half-crazy with greed looking for his gem?  Good, that’s what today’s post is based on.

Dragons.  They’re big, and magical, and scary.  They live for a looooong time, and are wicked, cunning, proud, and greedy.  They probably don’t get along with each other very well for very long, and therefore, it is conceivable that they don’t reproduce like in Game of Thrones.  Perhaps, they are more magical than you originally thought.

Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that dragons are more supernatural than natural.  More magical than mundane.  More outsider than native.  Let us suppose further, that instead of hundreds of dragons roaming around the world, there is one Platonic Dragon hanging around in the aether somewhere, seeding the Material plane with magic that will turn an ordinary mortal into a vessel for the Platonic Dragon’s will.

What does all that have to do with Thorin jumping off the deep end?  A little something I’ve come up with called Dragon Fever.

Dragon Fever is a magical disease, spread by contact with dragons or dragon’s hoards.  It first drives a subject mad, and then slowly transforms the afflicted into a dragon.  And, since it is primarily connected with the hoard of the dragon, it works as a sort of backup measure if some mighty hero should manage to slay a dragon.

For each day spent in/around a dragon’s hoard, a character must make a will save with a DC equal to the number of hit dice the dragon who owned it possessed.  Thus, a red wyrm’s hoard will have a Will save DC of 37.  Failure indicates the character has been infected with the magical disease.

After infection, the disease begins to progress rapidly.  A Will save must be made each day against the same DC as the original save.  Failure indicates the subject takes 1 Wisdom damage as the Platonic Dragon floods the victim with dragonish thoughts. This damage persists as long as the disease infects the victim.  Succeeding on 4 saves in a row will mean the character has fought off the disease and will begin regaining their lost Wisdom score at the normal rate.

Spells cast on the victim of Dragon Fever which directly affect the disease or the effects thereof must succeed on a Caster level check to beat the SR of the original dragon.

If a character is reduced to 0 Wisdom by the disease, the character’s soul is then severed from the body and the spirit of the Platonic Dragon invades the body and begins transforming it into a true dragon.  At this point the original character is considered dead, and may only be raised by a Reincarnation or True Resurrection spell.  A Wish or Miracle may be used to evict the Platonic Dragon for a time, in which an ordinary Resurrection or Raise Dead spell will work to restore the deceased to life.

The disease is insidious, however, as the victim will seem to recover, regaining wisdom slowly, and returning to a somewhat altered version of the original personality.  What is in fact happening is the magic of the Platonic Dragon is working through the mind of the vessel as a defense mechanism and mimicking the personality of the victim.  The charade will be maintained long enough for the dragon to secure isolation to complete the transformation.  The vessel’s ability scores will (at the rate of one point per day) shift towards the stats for a dragon of the same size as the infected creature. Over this time, the creature’s appearance will slowly change into a more and more draconic form, which transformation will be complete when the ability scores have finished shifting.  Then the dragon is wholly draconic, and not even a Wish or Miracle will banish the draconic mind from the body.

Does that make dragons a little scarier?  I hope so…

Categories: Monsters, Rules | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Random Book Generator!

Today I present to you a book generator based on the numbers produced by Mr. Smolensk at the Tao of D&D on his article “Books.”  Now, as this is purely a list of book subjects/categories and not actual titles, you will have to make up titles and authors for any books you generate.  I’m sure you can think up something if you are clever enough to enjoy worldbuilding.  On to the generator and how to use it!

It’s set up on a single Google Sheet page, so you don’t have to go mucking about with any tabs or anything.  Simply refresh the page to generate a new number in the “Roller” box, and look up the number on the accompanying table.  Example: if you roll a 628, you want to find the number in the “Roll (up to)” column that is just over 628, which happens to be 642, Missions and Missionaries in the Religion category.  Then, you will notice that the number next to the Roll (up to) column is colored.  Go back up to the top, and refer to the number in the correspondingly colored box under the Rarity Table heading.  This will be a random number between 1 and 100.  Find the indicated percentage in the same row as the colored box, and the column heading will give you the rarity of the book you generated.  See my post about the Function of a Library for more on the rarity of books (and their uses).  Missions and Missionaries happens to be a blue box, so we look at the Blue box on the Rarity Table, see it is 98, and referring to the numbers in that row, we find that we have a common book about missions or missionaries.

Figuring out how much these books are worth is completely up to you, and should depend on how rare books are in general in your world, and how much value you place on the bonus to Knowledge checks they confer.

Random books can be found in treasure stashes of nobles or wizards, or you could generate the stock of a bookseller in your world.  If you run across a subject that is too advanced for the technology of your world, I suggest making it a book on a similar subject, but from a magical or alchemical perspective.

Enjoy!

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Called Shots

Something of a Holy Grail, per se, of D&D combats in my experience is a workable, simple called shot system.  I have worked up the following and think that it’s really quite simple, with a decent risk-reward balance and appropriate deference given to higher level characters.


A called shot is a full round action that targets a specific part of an opponent’s body. Called shots may be declared against any non-amorphous corporeal opponent.

To perform a called shot, a player first declares his intention to call the shot (called “Calling the Shot”). Then an attack roll is made against the defender’s normal AC. If successful, he then rolls the called shot percentage, which is 5% for every point of Base Attack Bonus of the attacker, minus 5% per point of AC bonus if armor is worn over the called out body part.

If the attacker rolls over the Called Shot Percentage he misses, is overbalanced, and cannot attack next round. If he rolls under the percentage he may roll critical damage. If the damage rolled (after the armor’s damage reduction is applied) is greater than or equal to 25% of the target’s total HP, refer to the following table.

Called Shot TableOther effects may occur based on local conditions.


Obviously, you can make modifications as you see fit, but I will offer some modifications for various flavors.

If you prefer, instead of using Base Attack Bonus to drive the CSPercentage, you can opt to use character level instead (this option might be attractive for you 5e folks).

Or, to make the table more deadly, you may opt to increase (or decrease) the table percentage roll by up to the level of the character making the attack.

So there you have it: called shots in a small, easy-to-swallow pill form.  You’re welcome.

EDIT: Changed armor reduction from material-dependent to straight up AC conversion.

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Vancian Class: Elementalist

The last entry on the Urbanekovian Magic system for a while.  Finishing this class up has exhausted my ideas about it for the time being.

Please refer to the intro piece first for more information about the spellcasting system this class makes use of.

Ability Scores:

Minimum score: Wis 16

10% XP bonus: Wis 18+

Hit die:

d6

Class Skills:

Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Planes), Profession, Spellcraft

Skill proficiencies:

4 at first level, plus one additional every 4 levels above first

Table: The Elementalist

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Primary Element Secondary Element Tertiary Element Quartenary Element Pentenary Element
1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Magesight, familiar +3
2 +1 +0 +3 +3 +4
3 +1 +1 +3 +3 +5
4 +2 +1 +4 +4 Secondary Element +5 +1
5 +2 +1 +4 +4 +6 +2
6 +3 +2 +5 +5 +7 +3
7 +3 +2 +5 +5 Tertiary Element +7 +3 +1
8 +4 +2 +6 +6 +8 +4 +2
9 +4 +3 +6 +6 +9 +5 +3
10 +5 +3 +7 +7 Quartenary Element +9 +5 +3 +1
11 +5 +3 +7 +7 +10 +6 +4 +2
12 +6/+1 +4 +8 +8 +11 +7 +5 +3
13 +6/+1 +4 +8 +8 Pentenary Element +11 +7 +5 +3 +1
14 +7/+2 +4 +9 +9 +12 +8 +6 +4 +2
15 +7/+2 +5 +9 +9 +13 +9 +7 +5 +3
16 +8/+3 +5 +10 +10 +14 +10 +8 +6 +4
17 +8/+3 +5 +10 +10 +15 +11 +9 +7 +5
18 +9/+4 +6 +11 +11 +16 +12 +10 +8 +6
19 +9/+4 +6 +11 +11 +17 +13 +11 +9 +7
20 +10/+5 +6 +12 +12 +18 +14 +12 +10 +8

Bonus SP:

If the Elementalist has a Wisdom of 17, she gains an additional SP per level, assignable to any element’s pool that she currently has access to.  If the Elementalist has a Wisdom of 18, she gains two extra SP, each assignable to any elemental SP pool that the Elementalist currently has access to.

Class Abilities:

Armor and Weapon proficiencies:

Elementalists begin with 2 weapon proficiencies chosen from the following list: club, dagger, hammer, quarterstaff, sling, handaxe.  A new weapon proficiency is gained every 4 levels above 1st.  They are not proficient with armor or shields.

Magesight:

An Elementalist has the ability to sense the flow of thaum through the world.  By spending one spell point, she may open her mind to see this flow directly.  She may leave this Magesight open as long as she desires, but prolonged exposure to the true nature of the world will have serious repercussions on the mind of the Elementalist.  Everything seen via Magesight is indelibly imprinted in the memories of the Elementalist, and can never be expunged by any means short of death.  For every minute spent viewing dark energies or creatures, a wisdom check must be made.  A failed check means the Elementalist has permanently lost one point of wisdom.

Familiar:

Being attuned to the natural world, the Elementalist will be especially attractive to certain members of the natural world.  In particular, a single unusually intelligent specimen (Int. of 4, and able to understand the Elementalist’s native language) of the avian, canine, feline, or rodent family will attach itself to the Elementalist, regardless of the attitude of the Elementalist.  The animal will simply appear one day, and refuse to leave.  It will not force it’s company upon the Elementalist, but will stay closer if fed or shown affection.  If the familiar is ignored by the Elementalist, it will follow at a distance, and be seen perhaps once a week, occasionally leaving gifts near the personal effects of the Elementalist.  A befriended familiar will act much as a ranger or druid’s animal companion.  However, the ignored familiar will still have an uswerving loyalty to its chosen master, and will attack any being who seems to be imminently threatening the life of the Elementalist.  Additionally, it will appear in serendipitous moments as it is able to provide distraction, misdirection, cover, or any other service a cunning animal might provide.  If the familiar is slain, a new one will appear unbidden after approximately one year.

Spellcasting:

Elementalists draw upon the variations the thaumflow has as it flows through the basic elements in the Material Plane.  These elements are Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.  At the beginning of his career, the Elementalist is able to channel the thaum as it flows through a single element.  As her power increases, she is able to master more elements.  Which elements she focuses on is up to her, though at least two elements must be mastered before she may begin mastering Spirit.  The “carrying capacity” of spell points is exponential, i.e. if 1 SP can lift one pound, 2 SP can lift 2, 3 SP can lift 4, 4SP can lift 8, and so on.

  • Air – controls gasses, both native atmospheric gasses and other “heavier” chemical gasses.  May be used to manipulate light objects, condense liquids out of vapor phase (creating fog or dew), and at increased power levels, deal damage and mimic weather effects.

1 SP will allow the Elementalist to move a 1 lb object within Close range, create a light fog bank of 5 cu. ft., or deflect projectiles of 1 oz or lighter (with sufficient warning).

  • Fire – controls or creates flames or fire, and increases the temperature of objects or areas.  Flames so conjured are of a magical as well as physical nature, and thus are able to harm creatures of the magical world.  Continuing fires lit by these magical flames are not so spiritually endowed.

1 SP will deal 1d6 fire damage to a touched target, or warm 1 lb of material 10 degrees.

  • Water – controls any liquid, whether water-containing or not.

1 SP will move 1 cu. ft. of touched water (approx. 7 gallons) up to 5 feet, or sense the location of Small or larger creatures within 20 feet which are submerged in a body of water.

  • Earth – controls stone, dirt, metals, or any other non-organically derived solid matter. May be used to change shape, strength, compositional arrangement, induce/remove magnetism in appropriate materials or other effects.

1 SP will make a 1 lb piece of steel lightly magnetic (able to pick up smaller pieces of metal, but unable to support it’s own weight on a larger iron/steel surface), or manipulate the shape of 1 cu. ft of metal/stone.

  • Spirit – controls/manipulates life force/living matter.  May be used to track, heal, harm, hide, control or manipulate living beings.  Several large scale organizations (international in scope) probably exist to regulate how this element is manipulated by Elementalists.

1 SP may be used to locate the source (raw direction only) of a piece of organic material for 1 minute, or deal 1 point of damage to a touched living creature.

Harnessing the Elements:

Certain natural activities create a buildup of available thaum in some locations that an Elementalist may tap into to power his spells.  Storms generate Air energy, sex (and other intense human emotions) generates Spirit energy, earthquakes generate Earth energy, volcanoes and large fires generate Fire energy, and tsunamis and fast-flowing water generate Water energy.

As much energy as is desired may be tapped by the elementalist from events such as thunderstorms, eruptions, tsunamis and the like.  Spirit energy generated during moments of intense human emotion is equal to half the total HP of the individual with the most HP in the group experiencing the same emotion, multiplied by the number of individuals simultaneously experiencing the emotional high (or low).

Harnessing a large amount of raw Elemental energy can be dangerous, however.  An Elementalist may safely harness up to his level in environmental SP.  If he taps more than his level, he suffers nonlethal damage per additional point of environmental up to his level again.  Above this limit, each additional point of additional SP inflicts 1 point of damage per SP harnessed.  Thus a 12th level Environmentalist could safely tap 12 SP from a thunderstorm, and a further 12 SP (taking 12 points of nonlethal damage), and up to his current hit points (say, about 60), for a total of 84 SP.  After tapping environmental SP, the Elementalist must wait a number of rounds equal to the point total tapped before he may attempt to channel any more environmental energy, as the local supply has “dried up.”

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Vancian Magic: Options

Here are some additional things to increase the scope of my particular non-vancian magic system. Since some people complain about the 15-minute workday that the Vancian system perpetuates, I thought I would add in some extra rules that I had thought of previously to address that particular issue.  I didn’t include them originally because I didn’t want to make the whole thing too bloated.  But I guess I’ll bloat it up over here and call them “optional” rules or some such so that I can claim the whole system is actually elegant and streamlined.

Hmm.  I should come up with a name for my system, shouldn’t I?  From here on out, let’s call it Urbanekovian magic.  Is that too egotistical?  If Elminster, Mordenkainen, Tenser, and Otiluke get to name spells after themselves, why shouldn’t I name my system after myself? Especially since it’s fantastically brilliant.

Anyway, here are the “optional” variants:

1) Cantrips or At-Will magic:

Any minor spell effect may be effected for free, as long as the base cost for the spell is lower than the caster’s level divided by 3 rounded down.  Thus, a 3rd level Arcanist may cast any spell worth 1 SP (before any focus or specialization reductions) for free.  Familiarity point reductions do apply.

2) Healing and SP regain:

There are three options for this variant: Mild, Moderate, and Brutal.

Mild version:  Hit points regained by the caster also add half as many SP into the caster’s pool, up to the max number of SP the caster is allowed.

Moderate version:  The caster’s SP pool is not refilled by sleeping.  Each hour the caster does not work any magic (cantrips included), the caster regains his Int (or Wis bonus for Elementalists) bonus in SP.

Brutal Version:  The caster’s SP pool is not refilled by sleeping.  Each hour the caster does not work any magic (cantrips included), the caster regains his Int (or Wis bonus for Elementalists) bonus in SP.  Further, if the caster is healed, he regains half as many SP to his pool as he gains in HP.  Also, each time the caster takes damage, he loses half as many SP as HP.  Thus, if a caster takes 12 damage, he also loses 6 SP.  If he is healed 12 damage, he regains 6 SP.

Personally, I like the Brutal version best, because it reflects the physical toll that manipulating the thaumflow takes on a body.  Physical exhaustion makes it harder to manipulate the supernatural energies, so taking damage also affecting your casting ability makes sense.

Also of note, neither of these variants has much effect on Called Ones, since their manipulation happens through an intermediary, and they technically don’t even have a SP pool. Which is another way they are differentiated from Arcanists and Elementalists.

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Vancian Class: Called One

This is the second of three major classes related to my non-vancian magic system.  Please see the introduction piece for a thorough description of how the system works.


Ability Scores:

Minimum score: Cha 16

10% XP bonus: Cha 18+

Hit die:

d8

Class Skills:

Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Knowledge (Religion), Knowledge (Planes), Profession, Speak Language, Spellcraft

Table: The Called One

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Max Spell points:
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Ceremony 1 3
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 4
3 +2 +1 +1 +3 Prayer 4
4 +3 +1 +1 +4 5
5 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ceremony 2 6
6 +4 +2 +2 +5 7
7 +5 +2 +2 +5 Miracle 7
8 +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 8
9 +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 Ceremony 3 9
10 +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 10
11 +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 Vision 10
12 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 11
13 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 Ceremony 4 12
14 +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 13
15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 Intercession 13
16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 14
17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Ceremony 5 15
18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 16
19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +12 16
20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Holy One 17

Class Abilities:

Skill proficiencies:

2 at first level, plus one additional every 5 levels above first.

Weapon and Armor proficiencies:

Called Ones begin with two weapon proficiencies. A new weapon proficiency is gained for every four levels above 1st. The proficiencies may be selected from the following list: bola, bo stick, club, flail, godentag, jo stick, hammer, mace, maul, morningstar, quarterstaff, sling, staff sling.

Called Ones are proficient with any armor and shields.

Spellcasting:

Unlike Arcanists, who recognize patterns in the universe and exploit them to create magical effects, the Called are individuals specifically chosen by a supernatural power (either a god or an agent of a god) for a special task on the Material Plane.  The Called are themselves aware of their particular mission, but often it is to spread the knowledge of their deity and increase the number of worshippers (meaning that the player is allowed to determine their own divine mission, which once chosen cannot be changed).

When a Called One casts a spell, it is not so much the Called him/herself manipulating the thaumflow, but the supernatural entity assigned to the Called One which does the manipulating.  The Maximum Spell Points given on the table above indicate the maximum number of SP that the supernatural entity attached to the Called One (hereafter called the Guardian Angel or Angel) will allow in any one casting.  The number of castings per day is unlimited so long as the Called One is directly acting to accomplish their mission.  If the Called One wishes to cast a spell not directly pertaining to the mission, the Angel will allow a number of spells per day equal to the Called One’s level plus Charisma Modifier.

There are 4 “Realms” which comprise the Called’s spell bases:

  1. Blessing – aid for those who the Called wishes to bring into the fold
  2. Bane – curses against those who oppose their deity’s agenda
  3. Creation – Bringing material objects into existence
  4. Destruction – Removing material objects from existence.

Base effects for each Realm:

Blessing –

  • +1 to attack or damage for 1 round – 1 SP
  • Cure subject of natural disease – 3 SP
  • Restore 1d6 HP – 1 SP

Bane –

  • -1 to attack or damage for 1 round – 1 SP
  • Cause natural disease – 3 SP

Creation –

  • Create food for one meal for 1 person – 1 SP
  • Advance 1 lb plant by 1 season – 1 SP
  • Create 1 gallon water in held container – 1 SP
  • Restores deceased 1 HD creature to life – 10 SP

Destruction –

  • Remove 1 cu. ft. of inert material from existence – 1 SP
  • Inflict 1d6 HP loss on touched target – 1 SP
  • Raise corpse as 1 HD undead – 5 SP

Any spell which a Called One casts through his guardian angel will be tied to one of these four Realms, and may not combine realms.

Divine Focus:

A Called One may possess or create for themselves a symbol which assists in the channeling of thaum  from the Angel to the material world.  Such a symbol will either be an image of the deity itself, or a part thereof, or else a stylized representation of a key portion of the deity’s theology.  The purpose of the benefit of the divine focus is to make more clear to unbelievers who is responsible for the power that they witness.  There are four classes of divine focus, which provide increasing benefit to the Called One who wields it:

Type Cost Benefit
Humble 10 gp +2 SP per spell
Righteous 100 gp +4 SP per spell
Mighty 1000 gp +8 SP per spell
Exalted 10,000 gp +16 SP per spell

Benefit:  A divine focus increases the maximum SP available to the Called One per spell.

Ceremony

The Called is invested at various levels with the authority to conduct certain ceremonies on behalf of the calling power.  The format of the individual ceremonies varies greatly between religions, but lasts at least an hour and involves many symbolic elements, whether physical objects, actions, or invocations.

  • Ceremony 1:Burial, Induction

The induction ceremony “claims” a soul for the deity and opens access to the deity’s particular afterlife for the individual.  Spells cast by Called Ones of the same deity as the Inducted person belongs to are cast at a 20% SP discount.  Receiving a second induction from a different deity invalidates the previous induction, and will mark that person as a traitor to the Called Ones and priests of the original deity.

The burial ceremony (usually) places the soul of a deceased person to rest, opening the way into the afterlife for the soul, and preventing the recently deceased from rising as undead.  This may be performed on any dead person, not just those who follow the same deity as the Called One. An emergency burial may be performed in one minute given a grave is already provided.

  • Ceremony 2:  Marriage, Investment

Married individual enjoy several blessings in relation to both their relationship and the production of offspring.  +2 Morale bonus to attacks, damage, and skill checks while the spouse is within 30 ft, +4 to attacks and damage when the spouse is in mortal danger, +20% to fertility checks.

Invested priests may participate in religious ceremonies and are blessed with the power to perform some simple magic and ritual magic dedicated to the deity. Priests may perform induction, burial, and marriage ceremonies, as well as lead ordinary worship services, offer standard sacrifices, and hold revival services to encourage more worshipers to join.

  • Ceremony 3: Excommunicate, Consecrate

Inducted followers who deviate greatly from the teachings/laws of the calling deity may be excommunicated by the Called of the same deity, whether in person or not.  This ceremony strips the offending individual of any blessings currently ongoing, and marks forever that soul as one who is cursed.  This mark is visible to all Called Ones and Priests, and may only be removed by an Atonement ceremony.

Holy ground or buildings may be consecrated by a Called One.  From that point on, as long as the site is maintained, any dead buried in the consecrated ground/building are immune to spontaneous undead generation.  Blessings cast and ceremonies performed on consecrated ground by followers of the same deity receive bonuses.

  • Ceremony 4: Atonement, Imprecate

Atonement will restore an excommunicated individual (of any religion) into the good graces of the deity (and church) the Called One serves.

Imprecate will call down the wrath of the divine upon any individual, typically leaders of groups directly opposed to the mission of the church or deity served by the Called One.

  • Ceremony 5:  Anoint, Desolate

Anoint is the ceremony whereby sovereigns of nations or heads of churches are installed in their offices, granting blessings to the rulers as long as they support the deity which installed them.

Desolate calls a curse upon an entire nation or region for their defiance of the deity confirming the desolation ceremony.  Effects may vary widely.

Prayer:

A Called One may spend at least a minute in prayer to ask for intercession in an urgent matter to the Called.  The prayer may be accompanied by any number of rituals (including sacrifices, relics, and any other manner of thing depending on the deity being prayed to) for increased effect/likelihood of intervention.  Things typically in the purview of a Prayer are blessings for a large number of people (such as an army before a critical battle), good weather for abundant crop production, or other wide-ranging but numerically small boons.

Miracle:

The Called One may request some form of miraculous event from his deity.  Such things may be creation of large amounts of material, forestalling or causing natural events, or other signs and wonders.  Final result left to the discretion of the DM.  Typical miracles might include the destruction/rout of a military enemy, the creation of enough food to support a nation in time of famine, a particularly showy event to convince undecideds to follow a particular deity.

Vision:

The Called One may receive an immutable vision of the future (typically far in the future). Most will be compelled to record the vision for future generations.  Sometimes the vision is of the deity itself imparting knowledge for a particularly important upcoming event, or for the encouragement of the Called One.

Intercession:

Once per week the Called One may ask his deity for some direct intervention on the part of himself or another which is not technically directly involved in the Mission the Called One received.  (effects similar to a small Miracle or a larger Prayer)

Holy One:

The Called One has gained the highest honor from the deity who called him.  He may now perform at will any minor miracle (any miracle that would have a minor effect on a large number of people, or a profound effect on one person that does not defy existing natural patterns).

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A.M.I.S.S.

I’ve been working on bulking out the second entry in my Non-Vancian Spellcasting classes series, but I’m not going to have it done in time for Friday like I hoped, so I’ll post something else that isn’t finished to make up for it.

That’s right, my much-vaunted gigantic cross-referenced index of every monster published (nearly) I am releasing into the wild.  It isn’t finished but the Agglomerated Monster Index Sorting Suite (AMISS for short) is now available for viewing here:  LINK.  I have it set up so you can sort, filter, and list by every category available.  Feel free to save a copy to your own Drive to set your own filters, and keep checking back because you never know when I might be adding monsters to it.

As I said, it isn’t done yet, but it does have more than 500 individual monster entries included so far.  By the time I’m done, it may well have over a thousand.  I am totally finished with the Heroes of Horror and the Monster Manual III.  I am mostly finished with the Monster Manual/SRD monsters.  I plan to have in the final product the following:  Monster Manual/SRD Monsters, Monster Manual II, Monster Manual III, the Fiend Folio, Heroes of Horror, and any other books I own with monsters in them (version 3.5, but since there aren’t any stats included you should be able to utilize the list for any edition of the game).

What good is this list?  Well, it’s super cool for me because with the filters on I can compile in under a minute a custom random encounter table for any given CR range, climate, environment, organization, sourcebook, type, subtype, and even weight!  No more long prep time coming up with random encounter tables for Warm Forests 5, 10, 20, and 40 miles from civilization.  Just set the filters, =randbetween(1,n) the number of options, and off you roll!

Now, I should say that those entries are based on 3.5/Pathfinder monsters, so perhaps the CR listing won’t be as advantageous for you 5th Editioners out there, but hey, this is a tool I made for me that I’m sharing with you.  Feel free to copy it and edit to your heart’s content.  At least take a look at it, though.  Took me forever to get it this far.

Bonus:  On the second tab (titled “Calculation”) there is my rough guide for levels of encounters based on relative settlement level, as well as percent chance for any given encounter to be one with intelligent humans/demihumans.  Also a seagoing encounter table with weather events.  But wait, there’s more!  If you act now, you will see four whole days of hourly encounter rolls on that same sheet.  Refreshes at the editing of a cell!

Categories: Monsters, Rules, Setting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.