Sunday, December 07, 2014

Kerragor, Dwarfish God of Sanitation

Kerragor, Dwarfish God of Sanitation
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Suggested Domains: Life, Knowledge
Symbol: A stone tower or keep with a pipe on the right side discharging water.

Every clan in Dwarfish society has traditional crafts and roles that it is associated with, and most of these clannish activities have their own patron deity, usually a minor power that is worshiped only within the clan. Kerragor is one such deity.

Kerragor is the demi-god of the healthy keep. He regards the entire Dwarfhold as a single organism, and charges his clerics with ensuring its health. Clerics do this by concerning themselves with the security and purity of sources of water within Dwarfen settlements and taking charge of the disposal of all forms of organic waste. In practice: garbage and sewage.

Usually, no single clan within a hold would be trusted with both responsibilities, the provisioning of water and the management of waste being such important activities. Clerics of Kerragor usually represent both clans and conduct negotiations on behalf of the keep in sensitive situations.

Due to the importance of clean water to Dwarvish settlements, high-ranking worshipers of Kerragor often occupy senior positions of leadership within a keep, and may be given responsibilities for securing water supplies if the hold is ever besieged. Clerics of Kerragor manage rationing and cast Create Food and Water to supplement supplies as needed; paladins dedicated to Kerragor swear oaths to defend particular wells or aqueducts from invaders or attempts at sabotage.

At the lower end of the social totem pole, lower-level clerics and worshipers are usually charged with the disposal of waste generated within the keep. In addition to the practical matters of repairing pipes and disposal chutes, sanitation Dwarfs are charged with keeping waste dumps free from vermin of all kinds- rats, giant insects, and goblins being particularly common foes . The former creatures feed on the Dwarfs waste, while goblins delight in picking through Dwarven garbage for free food and 'treasure' (broken cookware, mostly). Goblin infestation of a rubbish tip is seen as a particularly shameful dereliction of duty for a worshiper of Kerragor.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Books of the Anvil - A Downtime Magic Item for 5e

The Books of the Anvil are a legendary collection of collected over the years by an unknown master
Dwarfish wizard. With typical Dwarfish ingenuity and discipline, he applied himself to cataloging magic with the same intensity of focus that a master smith would bring to a life-long masterwork.

Identifying the Books
Even to the untrained eye, this collection of 15 books (50 lbs total) appear to be of exceptional quality. Despite their antiquity, they are in exquisite condition. Each page is richly illuminated, with orderly black-on-white lettering interspersed with geometric designs and diagrams. To Detect Magic they give off an aura of mild divination and abjuration magic. Any wizard can immediately recognize that the books are all spellbooks, as can anyone making a DC 5 Arcana check. On a DC 20 Arcana check, you recognize the books as being those of a Dwarfish wizard. Anyone who knows the Dwarfish language and is of Chaotic alignment must make a DC 15 Wisdom save on first reading through the books or be blinded for 1d10 hours. Subsequent readings have no effect on a character who has been blinded, though overuse (described below) can still trigger blindness.

Using the Books
The Books of the Anvil use a highly complex magical encoding scheme to cram a seemingly impossible number of spells into 15 volumes. Unfortunately (for everyone but Dwarfs) this means that a great deal of math is needed to puzzle out the spell formulas, and a table of contents is neither included nor possible.

A wizard can chose to study the books for up to 8 hour per day. Time spent resting or adventuring does not permit proper study- the books can only be studied on 'days off', though other non-strenuous activities (buying supplies, resting and healing) can be undertaken. A wizard who attempts to study more than 8 hours in a single day becomes blind for 1d10 hours. At the end of 7 (cumulative) days of study, make a DC 15 Arcana check. On a success, the wizard has identified one spell that is stored in the book and can attempt to learn it and copy it into his spellbook as normal, paying the associated costs in time and gold. Determine the spell randomly. If the wizard chooses not to learn the spell, there is no guarantee that he will be able to figure out the encoding for that spell again- each time the wizard attempts to identify a new spell, the encoding for the previous spell is forgotten and a new spell is generated at random.

Monday, September 22, 2014

5e Goblin PCs

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age: Goblins mature faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 10. A healthy Goblin can live to 50 or more, but rarely does.
Alignment: Goblins tend towards evil; they tend to be greedy, lazy, and selfish. They have no particular inclination towards following orders without a strong incentive to do so, but are happy for someone else to be responsible for hard decisions or dangerous tasks. As a result, they have little inclination towards either law or chaos and their most common alignment is Neutral Evil. Goblins that live among other races are capable of working within a system to get what they want, or ignore it entirely when it is convenient, tending more towards True Neutral or Chaotic Neutral.
Size: Goblins are between 3 and 4 feet tall and average about 35 pounds. Your size is Small.
Speed: You have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: Goblins commonly live underground, and even surface-dwelling Goblins tend to be more active at night, emerging to scavenge or raid and then laying low during daylight hours. You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Goblin, which uses a crude version of the Dwarvish alphabet. Goblin is rarely written down, except in the form of graffiti which Goblins use to mark their territory and mock their enemies.
Nimble Escape: Goblins favor hit and run tactics, which they use in groups to wear down their opponents while trying to remain out of range. When an opponent targets you with a melee attack and misses, you can take the Disengage action as a reaction to move away from your attacker.
Sneaky: You are proficient in Stealth.
Sniveling: Goblins are used to being treated with contempt by those stronger than they are, which is nearly everyone. The average goblin will shamelessly lie, boot-lick, grovel, and flatter to avoid being swatted down by a boss or foe. Their ancient enemies have long realized that goblins treat mercy as a weakness, but other races either haven't caught on or don't regard goblins as worth the trouble to kill. You have advantage on Charisma checks to avoid being blamed or punished for your actions by anyone other than a Dwarf or an Elf.
Opportunistic Eater: Goblins enthusiastically eat a wide variety of foods that more civilized races turn their noses up at; they also are accustomed to having to provide for themselves in a wide variety of situations. You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to forage for food, and can forage for food anywhere- including inside dungeons and cities. At the DM's option, the food that you find may not be fit for non-goblinoids to eat!

edit: Thanks to /r/DnD for feedback- I've made a couple adjustments for balance and simplicity that were suggested there and added the 'Sniveling' feature.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dead Run: An RPG Mashup Inspired by Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man

There are lots of rules for rule conversions. Can we make a whole new game from an existing set of rules and a rule for plot conversion?

1) Use the rules from any edition of Deadlands, or any other RPG you are familiar with that includes rules that would cover a 19th Century/Wild West era. Games with relatively high PC mortality rates are probably the better choice in a tie breaker.
2) Ignore any rules that have anything to do with magic or the supernatural when creating characters.
3) Think of a plot that would work for a Shadowrun adventure, ideally one where magic isn't completely central to the plot.  Look here for ideas if you want.
4) Perform Plot Conversion:

  • Any journey in a car, truck, or other ground vehicle of under 100 miles is made by horse over a distance that is 1/10th as far.
  • Any journey by plane or helicopter becomes a journey by train of 1/10th that distance.
  • Any international air travel becomes a boat trip that takes 10x as many days to sail as it would take hours to fly.
  • Any reference to Elves, Indians, or Metahumans becomes a reference to Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, freed slaves, etc.
  • Sprawl residents become frontiersmen, slaves, prostitutes, etc.
  • Any data, blueprints, plans, etc., become account books, ledgers, contracts, papers, etc.
  • MacGuffin's become a more efficient steam engine, repeating rifle blueprints, account and ledger books unveiling fraud, rare ore samples, priceless European art, etc.
  • Super-powerful megacorporations referenced in the plot become powerful local interests that 'own the town', can get away with anything, and employ their own hired guns. Alternately they can be aristocratic European families or East Coast banking and railroad interests.
  • All PCs and NPC still have guns on them at all times. People being shot in the street or a running gun battle in an office building probably draws a few curious onlookers and maybe a short article in the paper tomorrow, but little more.
  • Lone Star becomes local sheriffs, Texas Rangers, U.S. Marshalls, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, etc.
  • NPC Physical adepts and street samurai become martial artists, bareknuckle boxers, or gunslingers. NPC Deckers become accountants. NPC Riggers become engineers (train or mechanical). NPC mages, shamans, and intelligent magical creatures (like Dragons) become highly educated aristocrats from Europe or the East Coast.
  • Cyberware becomes conventional melee weapons like knives and axes for bodyware, or journals, libraries, and specialized assistants (translators, copyists, valets) for headware.
  • Communication by net or phone becomes letters, sometimes sent through messengers (who can be trusted not to read the letters because they are illiterate).
  • Street gangs become claim jumpers, horse rustlers, bank robbers, etc.
  • The default setting becomes a nameless county in a federal territory west of the Mississippi instead of Seattle. Travel between locations within the city becomes travel through the countryside between small towns or isolated farms.
  • DocWagon contracts become pre-paid funerals.
Anticipated Questions:
What is this?: The intent for this game is a fairly gritty and 'real-world' Wild West game with a lot of opportunity for intrigue, violence, and general murderhobo behavior. Good choice for a sandbox game, maybe. The isolation of the Wild West and the power that money and violence brought make this setting (or at least its cinematic representation) a nice giant moral void where PCs have a lot of agency.

What is...:
  • Deadlands is a supernatural Wild West game; I picked it for the rule set because the names and range of options available for character creation (and task resolution) are already rooted in the 19th Century American West. There are stats and rules for revolvers, riding horses, etc. If you squint and ignore the supernatural stuff (essentially make all PCs and NPCs mundanes), you get a theme-appropriate rule set for building cowboys, bounty hunters, gunslingers, saloon girls, whiskey priests, etc.
  • Shadowrun is a supernatural cyberpunk game set in the (semi-)near future. A product of the go-go 1980's, it's setting is very concerned with the out-of-control growth of corporations and the eventual Japanese conquest of the commercial world (recent versions may have revised this to make it a little less dated, but I haven't really paid close attention since version 2 of the rules). Players typically take on the role of 'shadowrunners', deniable corporate assets who take on missions like swiping data from a rival, protecting executives from assassination attempts, assassinating rival executives, tracking down defectors, sabotage, debt collection, etc., for organized crime figures or powerful multi-national corporations. The world of the future is a sort of libertarian dystopia where everyone goes around discreetly armed and armored, corporations can make their own laws, and commercial disagreements occasionally erupt into running gun battles in the streets.
  • Dead Man is a 1995 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Johnny Depp. It's been described as a 'surrealist Western'. It went over Roger Ebert's head. Go watch it and see if you're smarter than he is.
What other works convey the appropriate tone?: True Grit comes to mind- the new one with the Dude, not the old one with the Duke. Maybe the old one is fine too, I haven't seen it. O Brother Where Art Thou? could work if you're interested in more humor and less killing people and taking their stuff. Most Spaghetti Westerns and their imitators will also work in a pinch if they keep the fantastic elements to a minimum (i.e., if you're thinking of Wild Wild West  or Brisco County Junior you would probably be better off playing straight up Deadlands).

Why?: I watch a lot of movies late at night.

The numbers for converting a journey from one type of travel to another are off: That isn't a question. I made the numbers up in my head. Do some Googleing and calculate better ones, or just treat them as conceptual guidelines.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WFRP: Chaos Gifts of Slaanesh

Some Chaos Gifts for followers of Slaanesh that I put together before the Tome of Corruption was released.

          Stained Glass Beauty:  Your personal charisma is such that the weak-willed find it difficult to contemplate harming you.  In melee combat, opponents must make a successful WP test to attack you, unless you have attacked them first.

            Animal Magnetism:  Regardless of your appearance, you have a powerful affect on others.  You gain a +20% bonus to Charm tests made against members of the opposite sex, and a +20% bonus to Intimidate tests made against members of your own gender.

            Tactile Sensitivity:  Slaanesh heightens the effect of your every sensation.  You suffer a 10% penalty to Initiative rolls and Perception tests, because the constant flow of sensation is somewhat distracting.  On the other hand, you gain a 10% bonus to Sleight of Hand, Pick Lock, and Agility-based Trade skills.

            Chemical Sensitivity:  You are an extremely cheap date, and have a wonderful time at parties.  Every alcoholic drink that you consume counts as two of the same type when determining drunkenness, and you take a 10% penalty to Willpower rolls to resist becoming addicted to drugs like Mandrake Root.  You gain a 10% bonus to Prepare Poison tests and any attempt to detect poison in your food or drink.

            Union of Pleasure and Pain:  The character becomes unable to distinguish serious pain from the most enthralling rapture.  For the 2 rounds immediately following an injury of any type, the character receives a +2% bonus to all tests for every Wound lost.  These bonuses do not stack; only the highest bonus available applies.  This bonus applies to self-inflicted wounds as well.

Add these to the random gift table in the Tome of Corruption or add them to your Champion as needed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Myth & Magic: Q&D Trader Class

I'm considering doing some Dark Sun conversions for Myth & Magic. While poking through some of the old 2nd edition Dark Sun stuff, I was struck by the trader class.

Traders are pretty much like Bards, except that they have slightly more practical skills- they learn to buy and sell, appraise and bribe, etc., rather than just learning how to play the lute.

So here's how we make a rough (really rough!) Dark Sun Trader from a Myth & Magic Bard:

Weapons, attributes, armor, and other core features are all fine as they are. When in doubt, assume that the Trader works just like the Bard in terms of progression, HP, etc., until proven otherwise.

Bardic Knowledge: 'Trader Lore'. This ability makes perfect sense for the Trader, since they would be travelling around and hearing rumors, sharing stories with sources, joining caravans, etc.

Bardic Performance: Swap Performance for Diplomacy. Bardic Charm becomes Fast Talk and reflects the Trader talking his way out of sticky situations. You might even allow the Trader to offer bribes to receptive audiences to improve his chances of success. Counter Song becomes Bid Calling, and now relies on the Mercantilism proficiency instead of Performance. Traders, through long years barking orders and working auctions, have learned how to disrupt audible spellcasting through carefully timed and well-projected shouts and hollering (ever heard a live stock auctioneer in the South?). Inspire Allies becomes I Give the Orders- Traders generally are in the habit of coordinating the movements of drovers, porters, and other lackies and are able to effectively coordinate the movements of their allies in combat, or at least irritate the enemy with their constant hollering and complaining.

Rogue Skills: Replace Decipher Script and Perception with Mercantilism and Appraise.

Arcane Spell: Here we get into deeper water, as arcane magic is quite rare in the original Dark Sun setting. For my purposes (since psionics get on my nerves) rather than try and put together a complete psionics system for my campaign, I'm just going to alter the background of the setting to be more open to magic (though it is still quite mysterious), going for more of a Barsoom/psuedo-Vancian feel. In that setting, it seems not unreasonable that Traders would come across the odd tome of arcane lore and try their hand at a few labor saving (or profit improving) spells. Good spell choices here (I fell a random table coming on) would help make the Trader feel a little more distinct from the Bard- probably a more restricted selection of early spells, for instance.

Armored Caster, Activate Arcane Scrolls, & Activate Magic: Since we split the Solomonic baby regarding arcane spells, there's no need to change these abilities around now. Bardic Influence is also fine as-is.

Renown: Seems fine. There are some charts in the Dark Sun books if you want more interesting followers. These followers will be the Trader's agents, acting on his behalf as body guards, buyers, clerks, etc.

Legend: Again, fine as is. When the Trader dies, his heirs become filthy rich members of the permanent oligarchy and he gets his face on a bank note and a university named after him, instead of some crappy song.

At the upper levels, the Mercantile activities rules from Adventurer, Conqueror, King System will be your friend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Huzzah for new Goblin Concept Art

Round two of the Goblinoid concept art for D&DNext is out today, and I have to say that I am pretty excited about it (both the cartoon and the actual sketch). I was a bit disappointed by the first round of sketches, particularly the Goblin sketch which looked too gorilla-y and orc-like for my taste. While there are always going to be nits to pick (sweet, delicious nits!), I would be perfectly happy is this became the 'canon' goblin style for D&DNext. In face, I snagged both images to add to my huge folder of goblin images that I keep on my computer for... whatever. Yes, I do have such a thing, and no, I don't know what it is for. I just like having it.