Friday, October 17, 2014

Yes, Skills. Don't kill me

Whether to have 'skills' in your game is a notoriously contentious subject.  I won't revisit the argument, but for my LL game I wanted to have a simple guide to deciding common situations where player description alone might not suffice.  I also wanted to allow for a somewhat greater degree of individualization for the characters while avoiding an "ever-escalating DC" kind of situation like one has with third edition.  What follows is the system I came up with.  It's based on Venger Satanis' system, but is less "Fate-y".
The only effect on the LL classes is that the thief skills table is junked (yay) and replaced with a larger-than-normal amount of skills for those characters.  You might make a 'thief' with none of the classic thief skills, so really they become more like 'Specialists' than anything.  
Characters can have three levels of competence in a skill: skilled, superb, and world-class.  Each level costs one point.  Specialists and halflings start with five points to spend and can purchase skilled or superb level training.  Characters in other classes start with three points to spend and are limited to the ‘skilled’ rating.  
As characters advance in level they get additional points to spend--specialists get one point every odd-numbered level, halflings every third level and other classes one per five levels. 
Resolution mechanic: “Making a skill roll” involves rolling a pool of d6’s.  Roll and note the highest result, see below for how you did.  If you got at least one 'six' then extra sixes indicate some degree of exceptional success, if that's even possible.  In all cases the result is basically a guide to how to look at or judge or narrate the attempt and its results.
Everyone always gets one die by default.  You get an extra die for being skilled, another for being superb, and another one if you’re world-class at the skill.  A character with 13 or more in the skill’s controlling attribute gets an extra die. A hard task subtracts one die while a stupendously hard task subtracts two.  Having excellent tools or a good “storyside” rationale adds a die.  If you end up with zero dice to roll you roll 2d6 and take the lower one.
                6 = total success                  
                5 = success, possibly with complications
                4 = partial success
                3 = failure, perhaps with a silver lining.
                2= failure
                1= critical failure
The skills and their governing attributes:

Knowledge: (specify)
Profession: (specify)
Sleight of Hand
Skills with two attributes listed are amenable to different approaches (intuitive vs. analytical, etc.).  Use the higher of the two attributes for to see if you get the extra die for a high stat.

Skill Descriptions
Athletics – allows climbing, tightrope walking, tumbling past enemies, breaking down doors and similar feats of strength, etc.  Climbing is at 10’ per round, frequency of check depends on the surface (smooth wall=once per round, typical wall once per turn, mountains once per day).
Bushcraft – allows tracking, orienteering, ‘survival’ tasks, and animal handling.
Diplomacy – Only applies if a reaction roll is being made anyway. Grants a bonus on reaction rolls of +1 per level of skill.
Heal – allows restoring of one hit point on a roll of four or five, 1+1 per six on a roll of six.  Can be used after each fight.
Intimidate – can substitute for normal reaction rolls, though perhaps with lasting resentment.
Linguistics – being skilled grants literacy.  Superb or better grants the ability to puzzle out a bit of any language encountered.  This allows for scroll use—spells of level 3-5 are hard (deduct a die).  Higher level spells deduct two dice. 
Mechanician – Covers opening locks, disabling traps, and general low-tech mechanical operation or repair tasks.
Knowledge: various – there are numerous specializations possible here.  Some of particular use to adventurers:
Arcana – knowledge of magical items, spells, and magical paraphernalia. Includes knowing about monsters who are creations of magic or which cast spells/spell-like effects.
Religion – knowledge of various religions.  Includes knowing about the undead.
The Planes—knowledge of the various planes and extra-planar creatures such as demons and elementals.
Area—the ‘area’ can be anywhere, but by default is “the region we start in”.  Covers geography, politics, and common monsters found in the area.
Science—knowledge of the scientific marvels of the past.  And the not-so marvels.  Includes knowledge of robots or similar techno-creatures.
Other areas of knowledge are certainly possible.
Perception/Search – Covers search, spot, perception, finding secret doors, all that sort of thing.
Professions – These represent formal training at a specified trade or occupation.  Only a thief can have two professions to start with; starting members of other classes can have no more than one.  Some of the more interesting professions for adventurers: 
Actor – This governs any sort of disguise attempt, and is the skill used to tell convincing lies.  You can acquire either of these skills separately without it being a ‘profession’.  This is a CHA skill, unlike most professions.
Animal Training – Can teach a domestic animal one 'trick' per skill die.  (Attack, bear burden, etc.)  Wild animals, one less.  Hostile or fierce animals, two less.
Captain – Allows one to operate and repair watercraft, navigate, and manage the crew. 
Fencing Master—Training of combatants (often in swordcraft but not always).  Also grants the fencing master +1 to hit with a single type of weapons (melee or missile).  Superb level skill grants +1 with the other weapon type, and world-class converts the bonus with one type to +2.
Trapper/Leatherworker—Covers skinning and preserving of creatures and creature bits, setting simple traps, taxidermy, and turning hides to leather.
Armorer—Production and repair of armor and shields.  You’ll know if one you handle is magical, and have a good idea what plus it is.
Assassin—Covers poison use and striking for increased damage from behind or upon surprising an opponent. (x2 if level 0-4,  x3 if level 5-8,  x4 if higher level).
Weaponsmith—Production and repair of weapons.  You’ll know if one you handle is magical, and have a good idea what plus it is.
Less adventurous professions include: Farmer, Lumberjack/Carpenter, Miner/Stonemason, Jeweler/Gemcutter, Alchemist, Courtier, Lawyer, Scribe/Accountant, Artist, Engineer/Architect, etc.   
Ride – Anyone can ride a trained horse overland.  You’ll need the skill to employ a mount in combat or to control an untrained mount.  Controlling exotic or flying mounts is a hard task.  If riders are chasing each other (and have the same movement rate) ride rolls determine if pursuit is successful.
Sleight of Hand – Pickpocketing, shell games, prestidigitation, hiding things on your person, etc. 
Stealth – A roll of four or five succeeds but allows perception rolls to spot the sneak.  A roll of six just works.  This task becomes harder (deduct dice) in well-lit or open areas.  Wearing armor heavier than leather also imposes a penalty—one die for scale or chainmail, two dice for anything heavier.
Swim – The die roll x 10 is the percent of your actual movement that you get when swimming—a roll of one means you start drowning.  Roll once per round in combat, once per turn otherwise.  Note that even a modest amount of clothing and gear gives a one die penalty on swim rolls.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ferayn's Exterminators

The Wizard Ferayn is one of several described in ASE.  Since he's shaping up in my game to be a substantial nuisance to the players, I wanted a little more 'depth' to his exterminators.  I also had some concern that if Ferayn is killed, the rifles become a treasure of considerable value.  Und zo I came up with the following:

The Red-Eyed Men, aka Ferayn’s Exterminators

There are two basic types, recruits and veterans. All are insane killers mentally enslaved by Ferayn.

Lightly clad zero level guys, basically as in ASE1, with red eyes and boots. AC 9.  Half are armed with single-shot breechloading rifles. Treat as normal rifles except rate of fire is only one. These rifles have bayonets on them, making them almost as effective as javelins (-1 to hit) in melee. The other half have two-handed swords. All these weapons drive people nuts, as per ASE1. When encountered on “an operation” a recruit with a rifle has 1d12-1 rounds of ammo. One in ten recruits is new enough that if relieved of their weapons they become normal again.

For every four recruits there’s one veteran. All the recruits earn XP for killing and looting (hm, just like our heroes). Those who live long enough to get 750 XP become veterans. Veterans are first level fighters for all purposes. They still don’t wear much armor or anything (AC 7 one way or another), but have d8+1 hit points.

Veterans get a random item added to the rifle or two-hander specified above. Those with rifles have at least three rounds of ammo, if they get low they take some from the recruits. They each also get one item (d10) from the list below:

1. Dreadknife:  When drawn it is dripping with blood....its magic forces one's opponent to save vs. fear or run for d4 rounds. Of course when he runs you get to stick him in the back, and with one of these you do double damage.  If he saves the bloodlust leaves you fighting with just a knife until one of you die, you nut.

2. Oil bomb with mechanism to ignite it on impact.

3. Random bits of armor, AC4.

4. Three Throwing Knives, and skill giving +1 to hit with them.

5-6. Loot for the wizard (d10xd20 value).

7. Grenade (per ASE)

8. +1 snapper weapon (a +1 weapon in all respects, but it gains its damage bonus via some pincering or toothy bits that clash together—think hedgetrimmers or mancatchers or an alligator).

9. Potion of Ogrefication (turns drinker into an ogre for one hour, then save vs poison)

10. Leg bone & Skull Wand. This contains one attack spell (d6: Magic Missile, Sleep, Burning Hands, Ray Of Frost, Stinking Cloud, Minute Meteors (lasts 6 rounds, 1d6 per round unless caster is killed)). Anyone who has one of these must have really gotten the favor of Ferayn in a big way.

Dreadknives and snapper weapons are all Red Weapons, like the swords and guns. The other items are ‘normal’.

The Red Weapons
These all have a permanent enchantment. Even if Ferayn is killed they will make people into insane killers. His Red Ryder rifles are mass produced and the ammo is interchangeable, unlike normal Denethix weapons.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Volarians - a new race

These are fairly "Mutant Future"-ish, but I like 'em.  Have one in the current game.

Volarians (aka “Giant Prairie Dogs”)  
Prime requisite: str & dex (as halflings)
Attack table: same as dwarf,elf,halfling, fighter etc.

XP                Level  d6’s HD  Potion Level    
0                      1          1                1            
1200                2          2                1
2400                3          3                2
5,000               4          4                2
10,000             5          5                3
20,000             6          6                3
40,000             7          7                4
80.000             8          8                4
160,000+         9          9                5

Saving Throws          Death/  Petrify/
Level   Breath Poison Paralyze  Wand       Spell
1-2        13         8         10            9            12
3-4        10         6         8              7             10
5-6         7          4         6              5            8
7+          4          2         4              3             6

Volarians are a race of intelligent giant prairie dogs.  A fully-grown Volarian weighs 90-120 pounds; they are nearly human in size.  They live in underground warrens and are highly gregarious and sociable creatures.  Volarians speak common as well as their own language, and often seek to trade with humans or any friendly creatures.  Volarians generally do not have a very high level of technology or magic use.  They understand the concepts, but their communities tend to be pretty self-sufficient without these items.  Volarians do a lot of farming.  They grow tubers of various sorts, planting them directly into the ‘roof’ of shallow tunnels so that they sprout naturally.  Many Volarian communities have domesticated giant weasels and use them for defense.  
Of course some Volarians desire to see more of the world and meet other creatures.  These might become adventurers.  Stats are rolled normally.  As adventurers, Volarians have the following advantages and disadvantages:
Volarian paws are prehensile, they can stand on their hind legs and fight with weapons.  They can wear armor, but it has to be specially made--double cost for anything heavier than leather, which they can make themselves.
Volarians have 6” infravision, but their depth perception and ability to judge distances is terrible.  They suffer a -2 penalty with missiles.
Volarians can burrow in earth and clay at a rate of 5’ per round.  They have no particular abilities with stone, though.  If the spend a turn rather than a round per 5’ they pack the earth around them tightly enough to make a permanent tunnel 2’ in diameter.
Volarians can prepare potions from natural ingredients.  These tend to be made on a one-off basis for immediate use.  Once per day they can create a potion that duplicates a spell that affects a single person.  The process takes one hour of intense concentration.  These potions spoil after three days.  Volarians automatically know how to make the following:
Level one: cure light wounds, purify food/drink, strength
Level two: charm animal, invisibility, +2 on next three saving throws that day
Level three: neutralize poison, PFN Missiles, comprehend languages
Level four: polymorph self, stone tell, cure serious, tongues
Level five:  transmute rock to mud (only rock they touch, allows burrowing through stone for one hour), haste, water breathing

A Volarian can research other potions as a magic user researching a spell (DM determines level as with a new spell).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I'm maybe too much into Gygaxian naturalism but I feel like parts of the ASE are a little 'food poor'...there's just some places where I'm left wondering how these guys survive.  I've had a couple ideas along these lines, but this is a magico-techno device from the Dynamat days that can be dropped in anywhere:

Rejuvenation field – These devices are permanently installed and run off Tesla-type broadcast power within the ASE.   They appear to be a large metal box about six feet tall with two handles sticking out that you can grasp.  There's a small visual readout that's basically a progress bar.   If you grab hold of the handles you feel ‘energized’—like your hair is standing on end, though it isn't.  Hold on for ten minutes and you regain one hit point and need not eat for a day.  One box can sustain 140 people if they rigorously schedule their sessions. For every minute after ten you start seeing stars and take a point of damage as your cells start to explode.  They're usually found in areas where Dynamat had guardposts or other semi-permanent installations.