21 September, 2017

#DIY30 #21

21. Most unexpected spell that helped you get past the walls of the Fortress of See.

The fireballs were definitely useful as we approached the fortress and confronted the Guardians of the Sacred City, the levitation spells would have been useful to get over the walls but the nega-psychoc barriers prevented almost every form of magic from working. The only spell that did seem to work was that odd little Chance Minutiae spell that Devali concocted a few years ago. We left it running for a few hours just beside the wall, returning to the spot only to find that the thaumivorous nature of the spell actually ate away chunks of the wall, leaving enough opening for us to crawl through the wall and into the fortress.

20 September, 2017

#DIY30 #20

20. Describe a mechanic you would put into your Science Fiction Heartbreaker. 


Oh, maybe you mean a game mechanism...

There are a lot of ideas that have already been incorporated into science fiction games over the years. But most of them are generally ignored during the course of play...so I guess the question is what I'd make sure appeared in a heartbreaker, and what the definition of a heartbreaker is. One of the many definitions of a heartbreaker is the kind of game that basically replicates an existing game, but renames a variety of elements and adds one or two specific twists to the game mechanisms to claim the game as "original". The whole of the OSR is basically heartbreakers.

What are we trying to emulate with this game? What type of science fiction?

If we have multiple races, I'd want to make sure they were alien and exotic to each other. Roleplaying to me is about getting into alternate thought patterns to explore ideas outside your regular identity and paradigm. I like the idea of paths of enlightenment in the Sabbat books from Vampire: the Masquerade. They are designed to be ways that control behaviour outside a humanistic paradigm. Some have similarity to humanity, many are very different. So I'd throw a few paths like this into the game, requiring non-humans to follow one of them as a reflection of their different mind-set. Maybe a single path per alien race, but probably a few related paths for each alien race (and a few similar paths for humans to choose from).

For truly different racial perspectives, I'd limit in-game speech to a word or two between characters at most. Only those who share ideals and agendas would have enough commonality in their thought patterns to meaningfully communicate with each other.

#DIY30 #19

19. What single change would you make to a popular D&D setting and why?

My gut reaction to this one is to change the mechanisms of play rather than change the settings. I want to change the way spell slots work, and simply run with a magic energy pool that is drained by casting spells and recharged according to your chosen style of magical pursuit... but that's not what the question is asking.

My second rection is to change any one (or more) of the settings, and completely remove humans from it. I like what Dark Sun did to elves in the setting, I love the diversity of new races available in Planescape, I never really got into Eberron (because I had a falling out with the regular gaming group that I was a part of at the time when it was big, and never really got into a new regular group until it had somewhat subsided), but I'd love to have pushed any of these settings the next step further...making them a bit more exotic by simply pulling out the humans...either by a massive catastrophic spell effect or plague that wiped them out over a matter of days then playing with the resultant aftermath, by filling an alternate race into the niches typically held by humans, or by logically working through how the setting might have developed if humans were never there in the first place.

Perhaps humans are inextricably linked to the prime material plane, they can handle brief forays into planar regions, but gradually become weakened if they don't have a physical anchor (which gradually rots away as a sacrificial anode to prevent their own soul from being destroyed by the lack of prime energy in the realms of Planescape). Perhaps they need to wear cumbersome suits like those old diving suits if they want to survive for more than a few minutes away from the prime material... astral projection might work too, but that has it's own issues.

Humans are too prevalent...I understand why, it's generally because they function as a narrative anchor for the setting. A guage by which to measure the other levels of strangeness in the settings, but I think we've moved beyond the need for that in every single setting.

19 September, 2017

#DIY30 #18

18. The wizard has researched a new spell named “Chance Minutia.” What does the spell do?

Chance Minutiae is the micro-transaction bitcoin engine of the magic world. Most wizards don't notice it, it just ticks away in the backgrounds, gathering momentum slowly while magical effects unfold around it. It doesn't seem to do anything useful at all to those capable of sensing magic (or those who cast detect magic around it), and for that reason it's generally ignored. Every time a magical effect fails in the vicinity of the spell, the magic energy is still released... this spell simply absorbs a tiny a ount of the excess magic energy and funnels it to a storage cell amulet. The more common effect of the spell (and the effect for which it was named) relies on those magics that manipulate probability in it's vicinity. Every time a magical effect distorts probability (by increasing or decreasing a die result by a minor amount), this spell absorbs some of the probability flux energy. Not enough to make a successful action associated with the spell fail, and if a magical effect has been used to make an opponent's action fail, this won't draw enough flux energy to make it succeed again. It just syphons a point off the top.

In areas where spells of this nature are being regularly cast, Chance Minutiae might syphon a single point of probability flux energy every half hour or so (Roll a d6 every ten minutes, on a 6 a point of energy is gained...in a wizard school it might increase to one roll every five minutes, in a generally non magical area it might only be one roll every half hour). At the end of the spell's duration, the wizard casting the spell may modify the die roll of a single action by the total number of flux energy points accumulated by the spell while it has been operating.

From little things, big things grow.

17 September, 2017

Instant Kill

In D&D, once you get past level 3 or so, it gets really hard to be killed with a single hit, beyond level 5 or so (and certainly beyond level 10) it's pretty much impossible. Characters reach a point where the number of hit points to take them down just can't really be dealt by an opponent in a single blow.

Some people like this, some people don't and there are games written to specifically avoid this concept. I guess it all depends what you want a game to be about...if you want consistency in story and don't want random whim taking out your characters, it makes sense to have a system in place where characters can't die suddenly, without a moment's notice. If you want dangerous and gritty, then you probably don't want a system where characters can take full strength hits from a two-handed sword and just walk away.

I like the way the new edition of Warhammer 40k has gone back to the idea where anyone could theoretically take down anyone else, a comparison of attacker's strength versus defender's toughness gives a simple die roll target number. Some situations moght see instant kills quite likely, others might see it quite difficult to achieve, but as lomg as there's a hit, then a death blow is possible.

I'm seeing a similar system develop here... attacker rolls to hit (which incorporates Defender's defence score), if the hit strikes, any damage is rolled based on a comparison of strength vs toughness,

I'm not sure where I'm going with this... it's just a kernel of an idea. But I want to play with it at some stage.

#DIY30 #17

17. What political situation existed 500 years ago, and how does its fall affect the world of today?

We should specify here that the question doesn't state that the political situation stopped working 500 years ago...it could have been strong 500 years ago, and just as strong one year ago, only recently falling and causing an impact politically. But while that plays with the wording of the question, it probably isn't fair to the spirit of the question. 

Let's look at something that was strong 500 years ago, but fell during the century after that point. This would be a political situation that may have kept someing in check for centuries, maybe even millennia, but once the political situation had been eliminated, problems gradually crept into the world leading to issues that we now face. 

Words are power, but energy is constant in the universe. So perhaps it is better to say that words are a specific means by which power and energy can be controlled. 

While the last great Ice Age thawed, and the ravenous mystics of the Asian and European continents sought to harness the wild energies of magic through carefully aligned buildings and stone circles, the spirits of other lands were allowed to roam free, their energies free for all to access rather than limited in the hands of a few. In time the lands of northern Africa and the near East lost their invigorating magic due to the sheer greed of those who had claimed the magic. Fertile lands died and deserts spread across the world. The spirits of the region needed magic from other sources and the powerful dynasties transformed themselves into the religions of today...this meant the dynasties would maintain temporal power in the world, and under the guise of angels and saints, the spirits would gain the soul energy of the faithful. Thus the religions spread to Europe, to Asia, and across Africa. The Americas were another story completely, but this is not their tale.

The spirits and magic of Australia remained unfettered by the restrictive words and aligned geomantic magic of an elitist cabal. The people of Australia were more attuned to the ways of nature and there was a more careful balance and deeper understanding between the mortal and the spirit world. The mortals maintained the land, and the spirits cloaked the continent from power hungry explorers from the near East and Europe. For centuries, Australia could have been discovered if not for the cloaking effects of the spirits. But something happened, five centuries ago... something that fractured the goodwill between the Spirits of the Dreaming, and the mortals of the continent. The cloaking effects were negated, and shortly thereafter, the first Portuguese explorers laid eyes on the land, then with Willem Janszoon, Dutch explorers set foot on the northwest coastline of the continent.  With every exposure to the power hungry eyes of European explorers and the ravenous spirits they prayed to under the guise of patron saints, the defences were worn away further.

The Indigenous communities of Australia (both mortal and spiritual) had never encountered such militarised spiritualism and ravenous hatred. By the time the spirits had consolidated their plans and prepared a strategy to deal with the interlopers, the continent had been ravaged. The words of the Indigenous mortals had been obliterated as "benevolent missionaries" brought civilisation to the people, disrupting their cultures and languages, and preventing many of the mortal tribes from communing with the spirits in languages they had used for dozens of millenia. The magic of the land is still being desecrated to this day, along with the natural minerals and resources of the physical world, the spirits of the Dreamtime know that something drastic has to happen soon before they are forgotten and it is all too late. 

16 September, 2017


Next month's posts will be an image a day for Inktober, much like I did a few years ago when I fleshed out the Darkhive setting.

I know I did this another year too...I think it was actually last year, but I didn't quite finish. In that attempt I combined the results from a few different lists to give me my prompts. 

This time I'll just be running with the core words under an overarching theme of 🦊 foxes, or Vulpinoids. The race I started detailing in various game systems over 30 years ago... it's been too long since I've visited them.