Monday, February 25, 2013

Ice Seal

Ice Seal
No. encountered: Pod (4d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30' (Swim 120')
Armor Class: 4 (or 16, whatever)
Hit Dice: 2+2
Attacks: 1 (Freezing strike)
Damage: 2d4 cold damage
Save: Fighter 2
Intelligence: Semi
Morale: 6

Frost giants release ice seals from their castles' frigid dungeons when they want to terrorize local fishermen. These beasts attack prey with their fins and snouts. Their skin is so brutally cold that their blows inflict frostbite. Anyone hit by an attack must make a saving throw or be slowed for d4+1 rounds. Heavy furs or other cold-resistant clothing grant a +2 bonus to this saving throw. Because ice seals can only digest frozen flesh, they will quickly devour anything they kill.

Fortunately, these creatures are extremely vulnerable to heat. On a failed saving throw, they take double damage against any mundane or magical fire as their icy flesh melts and boils.

Despite the obvious risks, many northern fishermen keep buckets of pitch or oil aboard their boats to ward off these creatures. Some frost giants use these seals to freeze bogs or rivers during warm season, allowing their slave warriors to cross them on foot.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Age of Man Class, The Blade

I hope to incorporate some more AoM mechanics as I show off this class. Inspired partly by the boxer class from Engines and Empires.

The Blade
Romantic figures who live fast and die young. These days, many blades fight the things that have reawakened along civilization's frontier with great panache. Their tactics are bold, and they rely on opportunity and wit more than expertise or training. 

Some so-called professional fighters grumble about these upstart gentry, dashing rogues and wronged nobility. They call the lot of them barely-trained attention seekers whose japes do nothing but endanger themselves and their companions. Blades don't care because even when they don't get the job done, they usually end up seducing their critics' frustrated spouses.

Class Modifiers
Hit Points: Body +3
Recovery Dice: Roll 1d6 for every odd level attained. You can recover once per day as a full-round action.
Fighting Ability: +2 to attacks with rapiers, daggers and 2 other weapons.
Starting Bonus: +1 to Deftness, Poise or Reflex

Class Features
Fencer: +1 to attacks when fighting a single opponent, but -1 to attacks for each additional opponent engaged in melee
Main Gauche: +1 to defense when wielding a dagger in offhand
Twin Strikes: When wielding both a rapier and dagger, can attempt to strike with both weapons in rapid succession once per battle. Make a Reflex check after a successful or unsuccessful attack roll. On a success, roll another attack at -2 to hit. On a partial success, roll another attack at -4 to hit. Failure indicates that you only succeed in opening yourself up for a riposte, and your opponent gets an immediate attack.
Swashbuckler's Shield: Can attempt to parry an arrow, crossbow bolt or similar projectile once per battle with an impressive flourish. The intended target must be either you or someone adjacent. Make a Deftness check. On a success, the projectile is sundered. On a partial success, the projectile stays intact and flies off in a random direction. On a failure, you're automatically hit by the projectile.
Verbal Sparring: Can deliver a stinging taunt once per battle against an opponent in melee range. Make a Poise check. On a success, the opponent is forced to make a tactical blunder and takes -1 to attack or defense per blade's level (maximum of 5) on the next round. On a partial success, the opponent takes advantage of your imperfectly-timed quip. The opponent gains an immediate attack but still suffers the attack or defense penalty during the following round. On a failure, your insult falls flat. Your ego is bruised and you cannot attempt to verbally spar again until you get a good night's sleep.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doing Stuff in Age of Man (Feedback wanted!)

Right now my homebrew system, Age of Man, is messy. But I hope to make tasty gumbo out of it someday. Here are the mechanics that exist so far:

The Primes
When making a character, roll or point buy your four prime attribute scores. These determine your character's aptitudes and basic abilities.
Body - How well you can bash skulls, take a knee to the groin, wrestle livestock and carry your spouse across a swamp. Determines hit points and melee prowess.
Agility - How well you can dodge bullets, catch falling children, juggle knives and pull off sick stunts on horseback. Determines defense and ranged weapon prowess.
Mind - How well you can decode encrypted messages, memorize dungeon layouts, apply physics to take out a room full of goblins and beat Gollum in a riddle contest. Determines number of proficiencies/areas of knowledge/languages.
Soul - How well you can keep cool when the walls are closing in, ward off angry spirits, deflect a witch's hex and seduce the chaste elf priestess. Determines will power and spell resistance.

He got a high roll in Smug.
The Derived
Six attributes are derived from combinations the four primes. These are used when determining most resolutions. If you aren't making a straight-up attack, you're probably rolling for one of these. You gain bonuses to these attributes depending on your character's class.
Grit - Enduring unpleasant situations. Can you run with a musket ball in your torso without keeling over in agony? Body + Soul/2.
Insight - Making quick, accurate observations. Is the highwayman holding a dagger to the girl's throat bluffing? Mind + Soul/2
Poise - How cool you are when things get hot. Can you talk the enraged giant out of going Godzilla on the village? Mind + Body/2
Deftness - Ability to act with swiftness and precision. Can you attach the grappling hook to the balcony before the swarm of spiders overtakes you? Body+Agility/2
Expertise - Completing tasks that require focus and skill. Can you mix an anti-venom before your friend puffs up like a toad? Mind + Agility/2
Reflex - Effectively reacting to danger or opportunity. Can you dodge the pendulum blade that's flying at your face? Agility + Soul/2

There are two types of resolutions. Attacks use the standard d20 + Fighting Ability + Body or Agility mod. These rolls are strictly hit or miss.

Other rolls use a system similar to Dungeon World's: 2d6 + derived stats. Rolling 10 or above gives you a clear success. 7-9 is a success with a hitch. For example, you're jumping off of a bridge and landing on a wagon full of hay. The DM tells you to make a reflex roll. On a 10, you land in that hay with the grace of a ninja cat. On an 8, you still land in that hay, but you twist your ankle and you're slower for the rest of the day. On a 6, you'd miss the wagon and land in a heap of road apples or something, taking some hit points along with that twisted ankle.

I'm kind of stepping out on a limb with these rules because I've never played a game that uses derived attributes, and I haven't tested Dungeon World's resolution system very much. Give me all of your feedback, or I'll cut you good. Stay tuned for character classes tomorrow or the day after!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Age of Man, my OSR/Dungeon World Hack

I began working on a Dungeon World/OSR hack back in December. Remember that? I thought I was whittling a wild west game out of a block of rules. Somehow it ended up looking like a game set in the age of enlightenment with a creeping Gothic apocalypse. I think I like it better this way. I plan to keep most of the rules old-school, but blend in Dungeon World's partial success system for certain resolutions, add a dash of 4E and serve it with something home-brewed. Here's some fluff.

Age of Man
Centuries ago, elves retreated to their forests. The giants and dragons went to sleep. Then the orcs and goblins slunk off into the wilderness. The dwarves sealed the doors to their mountain halls. The dead no longer walked. The halflings and gnomes simply vanished.

The humans thought they had inherited the world! They let their castles, monuments of a so-called dark age, crumble. Drunk with faith or reason, humans burned or buried spell books. The greatest minds published treatises about man and God and law. Monarchs declared themselves divine and built opulent palaces at the expense of their subjects. Cities became huge and squalid as farmers flowed in, abandoning their land in hope of steady wages in a factory.

But as the countryside empties, it grows stranger. Those who linger find themselves contending with things that are not supposed to be. Giants hurl boulders from hilltops. Corpses shamble through forests. Yellow-eyed things snatch children at sunset. Shepherds keep one eye on their flocks and one eye watching for dragons. On certain nights, chanting and unearthly lights fill the castle ruins. Tentacled beasts drag fishing boats beneath the waves. Men become wolves, slaughter their kin, then become men again.

The monarchs, newspapers and academies deny it, but the old ways are back.

Aaand my eyes hurt. Will post the work-in-progress classes tomorrow!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jacks - Pumpkin Kid Race

Inspired by Dungeon Dozen!

Requirements: CHA 9
Abilities: DEX +1. STR -1  

Though Jacks have jack-o-lanterns for heads, they will beat on you with bony fists if you call them pumpkin kids.These boisterous creatures have twiggy limbs and rarely stand taller than four and half feet. They are "born" when orphan children die too soon. It is said that their heads become pumpkins, and the bodies become animated by some fey spirit. Sadly, their numbers only grow as people flock to the cities.

Each Jack (females are inevitably called Jills) begins his or her life with a rudimentary face that is a grin or frown depending on the nature of the inhabiting spirit. As their lives progress, they gain special marks on their heads that signify rank in a gang or group, as well as indicate history and personality. They do not mature physically from the point at which they are born. Jacks do not play well with others. All are irreverent, and they are especially venomous towards organizations that harm children, or neglect their suffering. The chips on their shoulders lead them to quick, exciting lives.

Jacks can remove their heads and still control their bodies as long as they remain in sight of the head. A body killed while detached from its head has a 50% chance of being salvageable. Jacks without bodies must rely on others to carry them. Headless bodies move awkwardly. They move at half speed, suffer a -2 penalty on attack rolls, and -4 to all skill rolls.

When desperate, Jacks can fling their own heads up to 30'. If used as a weapon, their heads deal d6 damage and d4+1 fire damage. However, the Jack also takes this damage, and must retrieve the head.

Jacks are dirty fighters. When making a melee attack while adjacent to an ally, they get +2 to attack and +2 to damage.

The eerie light emanating from a Jack's head functions as a torch. Jacks wanting to be stealthy can dim the light until it's no brighter than a matchstick's flame.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Live! Plus my Dungeon World Hack

Hello! It's been way too long since I've posted. Do any of you even remember me, or am I just talking to a wall right now?

Anyway, I'm not living in China anymore. Public spitting, food poisoning and no cheese anywhere aside, it was a great year. I miss it already.

To ease my sorrow, I've spent my free time sipping baijiu and designing a game that borrows rules from Dungeon World. I plan to keep all of Dungeon World's fast-paced, straightforward, cinematic qualities and adapting the game play to fit a weird west setting. I'd like to play a game where the sheriff rounds up a posse to liberate the spider ranch from night goblins. Some anachronistic steampunk stuff might show up here and there, but nobody's going to be flying around in a gyrocopter with a steam-powered top hat or some crap. I'm in the process of banging out a few classes, each with a unique mechanic. I'll post the playsets when I start feeling good about them. Here's what I have so far:

Shopkeepers, barbers, prostitutes, farmers, etc. who find themselves caught up in adventuring. They lack the obvious abilities of other classes, but make up for it by having uncanny luck. They're much better at making good impressions, finding connections and holding onto money than their rougher companions.
Mechanic: Luck. Can spend class points to force GM to re-roll.

Brawlers, Kung Fu disciples, tribal warriors, etc. Guys who can bring a knife to a gunfight and win. They can hold their own with firearms, but they prefer taking out their opponents with hand-to-hand weapons, swinging and grappling.
Mechanic: Momentum. Pushing the advantage or losing ground in a fight gives bonuses or penalties to rolls.

Someone who can shoot the hat off your head or turn a brace of revolvers into a Gatling gun. Not all of them squint and smoke cigars.
Mechanic: Grit. Gunslinger accumulates class points based on his deeds that can be spent to improve rolls.
Scumbags, grifters, rustlers, hatchet men, etc. Too many of these people on the frontier. The smarter ones escape the noose by making themselves useful.
Mechanic: Knacks. Can do sneaky thief stuff, including dirty fighting moves.

Slightly unhinged individuals who devote themselves to the mysteries of the occult. They are the only class capable of casting magic.
Mechanic: Circles of magic. Learn spells by advancing in different magic circles.

People who choose a hard life in the wilderness. They are highly sought after, because the frontier would be rough place without the man-eating centipedes. Their hunting and trapping lifestyle makes them formidable with long guns.
Mechanic: Wilderness lore. Can spend class points to automatically succeed at certain wilderness skills, such as hunting, tracking, finding the right herb to reverse a friend's transformation into a werebat.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why the Shrouded Lands Hexcrawl Needs You

I've starting contributing to the Shrouded Lands, a pretty awesome collective hexcrawl setting on ENWorld. What are the Shrouded Lands like?

"You’ve heard of the incredible firebirds, but this is the first one you’ve ever seen. It shimmers like the hearth in your home, like the hair of a beautiful woman, like the sun itself, and the sky and the water and the distant mountains seem to brighten in its presence.

A flying viper latches on to its head and tries to swallow it whole. The two plummet to the ground, where an ibis pecks at them.

There is a weird and sometimes funny melancholy to the Shrouded Lands that lie near the edge of the world. The gods – for all the praise of priests – are strange and inhuman. The animals – such as the mongrel dogs that birthed in whole packs like ants – are twisted reflections of what you might expect to find. The people – and note, I do not say ‘the humans’ … well, one quivers in a lonely hut, one sits motionless prophesying for her chimerical goddess and one fuses the heads of those he kills to his body, making a screaming, arguing, genius mess."

It's the kind of world where an encounter with an ettin family is rife with Arthurian intrigue. The superstitious, rapidly-sinking City of Shuttered Windows has subjugated the bureaucratic hellhole that is Blind Midshotgatepool. In the Land of the Night Cattle, people raise herds of albino cattle destined for sacrifice. Elves are so hardcore about shooting trespassers that humans created a highway beneath their forest. One realm is ruled by royal butchers who became immortal by drinking Tarrasque blood. Storm giant pirates pillage a coastline with ships made of clouds. Gnolls are a recommended PC race. There's a Black Ziggurat that makes no sense.

The only problem? Including me, the setting has only four regular contributors.

Add your own hex. It might look intimidating, but I started by just picking up on one hook and running with it.


Map with regions (Updated May 13)

Hex descriptions
Pretty, but dated:
More info: