Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bloodwood Kit Design

Now that I've finished working on races and classes available in my campaign, I've started to work on kits. For those who don't know what a kit is, think of it as the precursor to the prestige class. Unlike the prestige classes however, you take the kit at 1st level. In an attempt to "balance" the power gain of each kit, there's also an associated penalty with each kit.
It seems to me that kits come in two varieties:
  • Backgrounds: These are kits that help you define a past, helping the player to flesh out the character. They don't significantly modify the abilities of the class, but instead offer abilities that have been gained because of where/how the character was raised. Examples: Militia Veteran (Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure) and Peasant Hero(Complete Fighter's Handbook).
  • Specializations/Modifications: These kits are those that change the class in some way, or allow the character to specialize in one aspect of the class. Examples include: Many of the Thief and Bard kits from their respective Complete Handbooks, as well as the Samurai kit from the Fighter's Handbook.
Anyone who has read through the various books with kits in them(and for the purpose of this discussion, we're going to completely disregard the Skills and Powers Kits), will notice that they were very rarely handled the same way twice. As such, I'm posting the descriptions of how I handle the kits I'm building:

Kit Name: Fairly self explanatory
Description: This is the "fluff" text, describing what someone with this kit represents. For instance, for my Lycanthrope kit, I used the following: You survived an encounter with another Lycanthrope sometime in your past. In doing so, you contracted the dread disease. Now, you look with fear upon the moon, knowing when it hangs full in the sky, your human self will give way to the bloodthirsty beast that now dwells within.
Requirements: This is where you put the requirements for Race, Class, and anything special a character has to have to in order to qualify for the kit.
Modifications: If the kit changes an existing Race or Class, this is where those modifications will be discussed. This would include things like the Thieving skill modifications from the Complete Thief's Handbook.
Weapons and Armor: This is where any limitations or bonuses will be shown for the kit as they regard to weapon and armor access/proficiencies.
Equipment: If a kit receives bonus gear, or is required to own certain types of gear, this is where it will be listed. For example, a rider would be required to own a saddle and other riding gear.
Nonweapon Proficiencies: This part is divided into three parts; Bonus, Required, and Recommended. Bonus proficiencies are those proficiencies the character gets by virtue of having the kit. He does not spend proficiency slots to take them. Required proficiencies on the other hand are those proficiencies that the character must buy with his initial allotment of class and intelligence given NWP slots. This represents the investment that the player put into the kit prior to becoming an adventurer. Recommended Proficiencies are a list of additional proficiencies that the character may wish to take based on the description of the kit. As an added bonus, at first level, prior to the start of play, you may buy any recommended proficiency for list price if it's not normally available to your class instead of having to spend an additional proficiency slot. 
Special Benefits:  Any changes or abilities that don't fit into any of the above categories that represent an actual benefit for the person with this kit are listed here. For example, in my Winterborn kit, there's the following benefits: +1 bonus on saves to resist any sort of non-magical cold effect as well as to fear effects. Your character suffers no movement penalties when moving through/over snow/ice.
Special Penalties: While their may be downsides listed in other areas, this is for all the other downsides that aren't listed elsewhere. For example, those characters using the Chosen Crusader kit have the following penalties: The Crusader must abide by all the dictates and tenets of the Church of the Chosen, these include but are not limited to:  Must maintain a lawful alignment, must tithe 10% of all wealth to the church, must obey church superiors. Failure to live up to the dictates results in a loss of abilities.
Starting Funds/Social Class: In my campaign, instead of starting funds being dependent on character class, it's instead based on the social class of the character. This is where any modifications to those starting funds are listed.

Over the next few posts I will likely offer a few of the kits for everyone to use in their own campaigns.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Summoning Bloopers

I'm currently working on a Summoner class for my game. It's loosely based on the Spiritualist Iron Heroes Class as well as the various evil magic users from Call of Cthulhu, Conan, etc. As such, I've come up with the following "accidents" that can occur as a result of a failed summoning. Anyone have any additional ideas?

- All dressed up and nowhere to go: Nothing happens
- Wrong Number: The Summoner has learned a new entity glyph for his codex. The DM must randomly determine whether or not the protective circle works against this particular entity.
- Temporarily Out of Service: The Summoner is unable to make any more summoning attempts, nor is he able to use any pact abilities for 1d4 turns for each rank of the intended summoning attempt.
- You and what Army?: Good News: The summoning Worked! Bad News: The protective circle didn't.
- I did a very bad thing: You summoned an entity far more powerful than one of your skill should have even ever attempted. You also get the impression that it's not happy to see you.
- With powers like these: The summoning not only failed, but resulted in a magical backlash dealing 1d4 damage per rank of the entity that would have been summoned, to anyone within 10' of the summoning circle.
- Snooze Button: The summoning did work, but the entity doesn't show up for 1d6 turns per rank.
- Nuke from orbit. It's the only way to be certain: You've managed to summon a highly infectious disease. Maybe they'll name it after you.
- It has your eyes: You summoned an immature version of the entity you meant to summon. Remove 1d3 spells from the entity's repertoire.
- Knock, knock: Instead of summoning an entity, you've created a gateway to the realms beyond. Only the DM knows how long it will remain active.
- Called to the principal's office: Instead of you summoning an entity, an entity has instead summoned you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fortune Cards. In 2nd ed, we used a 1d20 roll for that.

It would seem that 4e is wandering down the path of AD&D 2nd edition looking for loose rules to make a buck on. What possessed them to look at the Player's Option series is beyond me, but I'm rather boggled by the success of 4e anyway. Anyway, in Player's Option: Combat & Tactics, on page 18 TSR published a Critical Event Table. It was a roll made by the DM to determine a fog of war event, such as a N/PC falling over, collateral damage, or even the movement of all participants in a direction. I imagine this is more or less what fortune cards are, though I suspect that fortune cards are more geared towards helping out the PCs(further following their rule of cool philosophy which I don't really like in my own games). At the very least, these new cards might give some extra ideas on how to expand the Critical Events Table.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Ability Score Adjustments: Because they are greatly feared by the people of Lakeshore, all changelings have a -1 penalty to charisma.
Ability Score Range:
Ability             Minimum/Maximum
Strength                         5/18
Dexterity                       5/18
Constitution                  4/18
Intelligence                   6/18
Wisdom                        4/16
Charisma                      4/14
Class Restrictions
Class                   Maximum Level
  Fighter:                     12
  Avenger                    14
  Barbarian                  -
   Placeholder              14
  Cleric                        -
  Specialty Priest         -
  Shaman                     -
  Witch Doctor            -
   Thief                        8
   Trader                      -
   Assassin                  14
   Gypsy                      -
Hit Dice: Player Character Changelings receive HD by class.
Alignment: Changelings tend to be of Chaotic and non-good alignments, but PC Changelings have no racial alignment restrictions.
Natural Armor Class: 10
Background: Changelings are believed to be the children of the monsters of the Bloodwood that have been swapped out for the children of the people of Lakeshore. They are a truly ill omen for a community, and generally don’t survive infancy. Those few who do however become self reliant and often take up the life of adventuring the moment they’re old enough to do so.
Languages: Common and whatever languages would have been appropriately learned in the region where they grew up.
Role Playing Suggestions: Changelings never know if someone they meet is going to try to kill them for what they are. As such, most changelings are loners, and very slow to trust.
Special Advantages/Special Disadvantages: All changelings have 60’ infravision. In addition they get to roll on the following chart 1d4 times.
01 – 05
Roll on Changeling Appearance Table
06 – 07
Roll on Changeling Appearance Table and Changeling Defect Table.
08 – 09
Roll on Changeling Appearance Table and Changeling Power Table
Roll on Changeling Appearance, Defect, and Power Tables
Changeling Appearance Table
01 – 05
Oddly Colored Hair
06 – 15
Oddly Colored Eyes
16 – 21
Oddly Colored Skin
22 – 25
Extremely Hairy/Furry
26 – 29
Shriveled Skin
Scaly Skin
32 – 35
Warts, Blotches, or other markings
36 – 40
Extra digit on hand or foot
41 – 42
43 – 45
Long, thin face
46 – 47
48 – 50
All teeth are pointed
51 – 52
Forked tongue
53 – 60
Pointed Ears
Fanlike Ears
62 – 64
Extremely long nose
65 – 67
Very small nose
68 – 70
Extremely long eyelashes
71 – 74
Feline Eyes
75 – 76
Extremely Deep Set Eyes
77 – 78
Three fingers on each hand
79 – 81
Black fingernails
82 – 84
Red fingernails
85 – 90
Fingers longer than normal
Long, thin tail
Spiny ridge on back
Spiny ridges all over body
94 – 96
Leathery Skin
97 – 99
Roll Twice on this table.
DM’s choice.
Changeling Defect Table
01 – 03
Cause nervousness in animals
-1 penalty to saves vs. spell
-1 penalty to saves vs. poison
06 – 07
Strange aura gives -3 penalty to reaction rolls.
-1 to random attribute(no effect if at racial min)
09 – 10
Strange Odor
Skin exudes ashy grit.
No Shadow
No Reflection
Prolonged exposure withers normal plants
Cannot reproduce
Holy water inflicts 1d6 damage
Exposure to sunlight causes 1 damage per round
Cannot enter “holy” areas.
Roll Twice on this table
DM’s choice.
Changeling Power Table
01 – 03
+1 Bonus to Random ability score(Can ignore maximums)
+2 Bonus to Random ability score(Can ignore maximums)
Natural AC of 1d6+3
06 – 07
+1 bonus to saves vs. poison
08 – 09
+1 bonus to saves vs. spell
+1 bonus to all saves
Touch inflicts 1 point of damage from high body heat
Touch inflicts 1 point of damage from cold body temperature
Intuitive Grasp of 1 dead language
Able to cast Detect Magic 1/day
15 – 17
Roll on Extraordinary Powers
18 – 19
Roll twice
Player’s choice
Extraordinary Powers
Levitate 1/day
Blur 1/day
03 – 06
Charm Person 1/day
07 – 08
Endure Cold 3/day
09 – 10
Endure Heat 3/day
11 – 14
Claws inflict 1d4/1d3 damage
15 – 18
Bite inflicts 1d4/1d3 damage
19 – 21
ESP 1/day
Detect Invisibility 1/day
23 – 35
Cause Fear 1/day
Clairaudience 1/day
Clairvoyance 1/day
28 – 29
Invisibility 1/day
30 – 32
Vampiric Touch 1/day
Dimension Door 1/day
Non-detection Continuous
35 – 38
Alter Self 3/day
39 – 41
Polymorph Self 1/day
42 – 43
Domination 1/day
Magic Jar 2/week
Breath Weapon as adult Dragon(random type) 1/day
46 – 48
Shadow Walk 1/week
49 – 52
Immune to disease
53 – 55
Immune to poison
56 – 59
15+1d20% Magic Resistance
60 – 61
Only harmed by magical or silver weapons
62 – 63
Chill touch 1/day
64 – 67
Comprehend languages 1/day
68 – 70
Darkness, 15’ radius 1/day
71 – 73
Detect magic 3/day
74 – 76
Suggestion 1/week
77 – 79
Summon Swarm 1/week
80 – 81
Half Damage From Fire
82 – 83
Half Damage From Cold
84 – 85
Half Damage From Electricity
86 – 87
Half Damage From  Acid
Healed by Negative Energy(including Energy Drain)
89 – 91
+2 to all saves
92 – 95
Infravision 120’
96 – 98
Roll again and double the power’s uses
Roll Twice
Player’s Choice

What I've been working on lately

 I love Iron Heroes. Yup, I know. Shame on me. 2nd edition is my game of choice, but there's some definite appeal to the game. It's a low magic and scarce magic campaign. It has no non-human races available for play. That last part makes it especially good as it completely prevents the presence of what I call "Humans-in-funny-suits-syndrome" that seems to take place in many games(the worst offenders include all metallic dragons in the MM as written, The Council of Wyrms setting, and pretty much every MMORPG ever made) where all the non-humans are only differentiated from humans by stats and appearance. About the only game this was ever acceptable in(to me) was Shadowrun, because it really was a physical appearance issue more than personality.
 Anyway, Iron Heroes. Recently a free PDF of a setting for the game. At first I thought it was the long awaited, but thankfully will never come, Swordlands setting(things always seem to sound great until people start getting into specifics, at which point it almost always horribly ruins it). Instead it's a setting called Bloodwood(you can get the setting PDF for free over here) or Lakeshore depending on your point of view.
Oddly enough, the setting is almost completely system neutral(2 monsters from the Iron Heroes Bestiary are mentioned, and the Spiritualist class from the IH Player's companion is mentioned twice, and all of this can easily be altered or ignored altogether).
Long story short(too late) I salivated. I drooled. I immediately sat down and started trying to figure out how to put this sandbox together using 2nd edition AD&D. A few hours later I was banging my head against a wall. As written, there's only 2 non-magic using classes in the Core 2nd edition rules(Fighters and Thieves, and thieves get to use spell scrolls). And only a scattered handful altogether. After a short burnout period, I began to start working on it again.
As much as I'd absolutely love to keep the nothing but humans rule of Iron Heroes, I know my players would lynch me. Because of this I added a handful of Halfbreeds. I took the Half Ogres and Half Orcs from the Complete book of humanoids, and wrote it so the players knew that these characters are those raised "human-side."
The last race I'm allowing is a mix of two different rules sets. The first being the Tiefling from Planescape, and the second being the Progeny rules from the Glantri: Kingdom of Magic Mystara boxed set. I then named the resulting spawn, "Changelings" and I'll go ahead and put the changelings in their own little post.