Friday, December 30, 2011

New Combat Rules for Swords & Wizardry

Although written with Ages of Lingusia in mind, the following combat options may work well for any Swords & Wizardry campaign looking to add a bit of extra oomph to battles:

New Combat Rules
Combat is more or less unchanged in Ages of Lingusia, but there are a few new options made available should you wish to apply them.

Two Weapon Fighting
The standard rule of two-weapon fighting presumes a duelist who is gaining a slight edge (+1 damage) on his attacks by using two blades to keep his opponent off balance. There are a couple more options, as follows:

Defensive Duellist: A defensive posture with two weapons may be taken, which instead of granting a +1 damage bonus instead grants a 1 point AC bonus to defense. The off-hand weapon must be a light weapon, usually a dagger.

Double-Striking: A fighter, ranger or assassin may attempt to attack with both weapons, incurring a -2 penalty to the first strike and a -4 penalty to the second strike, but doing damage with each weapon that does land a blow. If the fighter uses an off-hand light weapon that is smaller than his main weapon (such as a dagger or shortsword) then the penalties are -2 and -2 respectively for each attack.

Monks may attempt to dual strike with fists, and rogues may do so as well provided they wield either a dagger and shortsword or two daggers when doing so.

Unskilled Weapon Use
Sooner or later a wizard may be fored to take up a sword in defense. Whenever a character wields a weapon with which he has no proficiency, he receives a -4 attack penalty to his chance to hit. If the character continuously wields such weapons, it is within the scope of the GM to award XP to the character that should apply to a new class level in which training for the weapon is given.

Tripping a Foe
A character may take a -2 penalty to an attack roll to both strike and trip a foe at the same time. If the attack succeeds, the weapon does half damage and the foe must make a saving throw or be knocked off his or her feet to the ground. A foe knocked prone in this manner may be considered off-guard on the round that it is tripped (and thus susceptible to backstabs). Some weapons such as nets and pole arms should grant a +1 attack bonus to attempts to trip a foe.

Armor and Weapon Damage
Over time armor and weaponry can wear out, have holes punched through it, get notched and so forth. On certain conditions the GM should check to see if certain gear has suffered damage:

If a character takes maximum damage from a hit
If the character is reduced to zero hit points by a physically damaging blow
Any time a “1” is rolled on the attack roll

Each time one of the above instances happen, the character should make a saving throw for his gear based upon its composition, as follows; if it fails, the armor or weapon suffers a -1 penalty to AC or damage until it is repaired (usually for a percentage of cost). Gear that is reduced to zero effectiveness is destroyed.

Magical gear adds any magic bonus to the saving throw, and sometimes may be immune to damage if the GM rules it as such.

Gear should not be damaged on a “1” if that is the only chance it could otherwise be damaged. There’s a reason plate mail was so handy, even though it was terribly bulky; you were a late-medieval tank when ensconced within.

Gear Material Saving Throw Bonuses or Modifiers

Leather Save: 12; +4 vs. crushing or bludgeoning weapons

Wood (shield) Save: 12; -2 vs. crushing or bludgeoning weapons

Gold or Silver Save: 10; -4 vs. fire damage

Copper Save: 9; -2 vs. crushing damage

Bronze Save: 8

Iron or Steel Save: 5; +4 vs. softer materials

Mithril Save: 3; +4 vs. piercing and slashing weapons (+4 vs. all if mithril plate)

Ring or chainmail Save: 5; +2 vs. piercing weapons

Adamantine Save: 2

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ages of Lingusia: Neutral Kindred in Swords & Wizardry

Next up are the neutral races of Lingusia. Note that satyrs and faeries have made an appearance in Agraphar as well; here are their Lingusia counterparts.

The Neutral Races

Half dragons: The Half dragons of Lingusia are a servitor race of the dragon lords, destined for slavery due to their draconic heritage, and often seeking to rebel.
Half dragons are statistically the same as Marlacks, but gain an additional feature:
Humanoid Form: half-dragons can shapeshift between their draconic form and a humanoid form of usually pleasing likeness, with either human, elf, or Halfling traits. This form lacks the claws and wings of their draconic form (see Marlacks, above) but still has a certain scaliness and draconic slit eyes. It takes one round to complete the transformation, although the half dragon can still move and act while changing. The half dragon can shift between forms at will.

Faeries: The faerie kin are true fey, born out of the Weirding and driven by curiosity to enter the mortal realm.
Height: 10 inches to 1’4” tall
Weight: 5-15 lbs.
Languages: Faespeak, elvish, and Middle Tongue
Ability Scores: +1Cha, -1 Con
Favored Classes: thief, magic user
Tiny Creatures: Faeries roll only 1D6+2 for Str and Con and never have higher than 8 in either attribute.
Tiny Fae: All Faeries are of the Fey realm (the Weirding Realm), and are tiny creatures, only one foot tall on average. They gain a 2 point bonus to AC and Reflexes due to their small size and nimble flying abilities. Faeries can only wear armor made for their own kind, which can be difficult to locate, and normally is only ever made of leather.
Flight: Faeries have wings and can fly. They are tiny however and only walk at half their normal movement rate, but can fly at double that rate.
Fae Archers: Faeries are always skilled in the use of the faerie bow, regardless of class weapon options. Such faerie bows only ever do 1 point of damage (and it has a 50% chance it only does subdual damage), but they can apply their fey magic to it to make the bow more effective. A faerie begins play knowing how to apply the sleep spell to a single arrow, but in the course of play the faerie can take magic user spell scrolls (and even tomes) and learn other spells to apply to her arrows as well. The faerie must use the Spell Learning chance based on her Int to attempt this, but once she has learned a spell that can be used for her arrow, then she may always imbue her arrows with that spell. Regardless of what spell she is imbuing, she can do so three times per day; the arrows will last for one week, and must be fired by a faerie from a faerie bow to activate the imbued spell.
Glamour Magic: Faeries may choose any one first level magic user spell that they can cast once per day.
Aspect of the Fae: Faeries are able to detect the presence of other fae for 100’ at will.

New Weapon: Faerie Bows
Ranged Weapon; Damage: faerie arrows do 1 point (50% chance of subdual damage only) plus imbuement if any; Rate of Fire: 2; Weight: .25 lbs.; Range: 20 feet; Cost: 150 GP (faerie characters get one for free); Special: Can’t be wielded by anything less than tiny creatures; small creatures can use the bow with a -5 penalty to attack. Only faeries can cause the spell imbuement when wielding the bow.

Goblins: Goblins are a deviant underworld race of deformed unseelie fey who have long ago sought to make a home for themselves in the mortal plane.
Goblins have statistics in the MM can serve for player characters, if desired.
Height: 4’1” to 5’2” tall
Weight: 100-155 lbs.
Languages: goblin, orcish, middle tongue and some other monstrous languages
Ability Scores: +1 Dex, -1 Wis
Favored Classes: assassin, fighter, thief
Goblinoids: The goblins are the least of the goblinoid races, and are related to both orcs, hobgoblins and bugbears. Goblins have learned to sustain their society through living off the scraps of their larger kin, and have become excellent survivors as such.
Although goblins are not prone to the use of magic, they nonetheless do have occasional mages and clerics in their communities. They revere an obscure deity, one never heard of outside goblin circles called Yamgach, the patron god of goblins. No human texts, not even the Idean Codices, speak of who or what this Yamgach is. Not even the orcs, trolls and other monster kin under whom goblins dwell seem to know much about this goblin god!

Terkithyi Lizard Men: A brutal race of fierce alligator-headed warriors who pride strength and fierceness as key traits.
Average Height: 6'6”-7’6” tall
Average Weight: typically 200-350 lbs
Languages: Lizardman and Middle Tongue. A few Terkithyi learn Draconic or other local Amechian tongues such as Chigros, Belladasian or Hotepsalan.
Ability Scores: +1 Strength, -1 Intelligence
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter
Vision: lowlight vision
Natural Claws and Bite: Terkithyi have vicious claws that do 1D6 damage and a bite that does 1D4 damage.
Natural Armor: Terkithyi receive a 2 point Natural Armor bonus to armor class.
Cold Blooded: Terkithyi are reptiles by nature, and grow sluggish and unresponsive in cold climates. When exposed to winter conditions atypical of their native environment (usually by more than 30 degrees), Terkithyi are at -1 to attack rolls from sluggishness. A terkithyi in a cold environment for more than 24 hours begins to lose hit points at the rate of 1 per day (negating normal healing).

Haikyndyr Lizard Men: A desert-dwelling race of lizard men who are swift and cunning, defending their southern lands with poisoned arrows and traps.
Average Height: 5'1”-5’6” tall
Average Weight: typically 100-150 lbs
Languages: lizardman and Middle Tongue; some know Draconic
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, -1 Intelligence
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, thief
Vision: lowlight vision
Claws: All Haikyndyr claws do 1D6 damage. They have a bite that does 1 damage (but is not nearly as fearsome as other lizardmen)
Favored Environment: Haikyndyr are desert dwellers and receive some special bonuses when in a desert environment. They gain a +10% bonus to stealth checks in the desert (move silently, hide in shadows) which is also a -10 penalty to tracking attempts.
Tail Trip: Haikyndyr are known for using their tails in trip attacks. They get a +1 attack bonus when aiming to trip someone in battle.

Serpent Men (Setites): The dark race of serpent men owe their existence to the dark god Set, considered to be the great deceiver and lord of maliciousness. The serpent men seek to espouse their dark god’s ideals and secretive goals.
Average Height: 5'6”-6’6” tall
Average Weight: typically 100-250 lbs
Languages: Serpentine and Middle Tongue; some know Draconic
Ability Scores: +1 Intelligence, -1 Constitution
Favored Classes: assassin, cleric, thief, magic user
Optional Racial XP Modifier: -10%
Vision: darkvision 120 feet
Poison Bite: Serpent men can bite with potentially lethal effect. Their bite does 1 point of damage but injects poison that requires a saving throw; failure means the victim is paralyzed for 1D6 hours; at the end of that time a second saving throw must be made; failure means the victim has perished.
Long Lifespan: setites can live to be 200 or more years old, and some venerable priests are said to be 600 years or older.

Ogres: A race of brutal killers and mercenaries who dwell in the forestlands of Lingusia and will work for whoever offers the best loot and largest meals.
Average Height: 8’ to 12’ feet tall
Average Weight: 400-900 lbs.
Languages: ogreish, plus one other (usually the middle tongue or giantish)
Ability Scores: +1 Str, -1 Wis; ogres should never have less than a 12 strength
Favored Classes: fighter
Optional Racial XP Modifier: -10%
Vision: darkvision 60 feet
Tough Hide: Ogre’s have thick skin offering a 2 point improvement to AC.
Large Weapons: Ogres can wield normal human-sized two-handed weapons as one handed weapons.
Disguise Issues: Ogres can’t attempt a decent disguise unless they are trying to masquerade as a different sort of large creature, like a troll or minotaur. This makes ogre assassins particularly ineffective.
Fists: Ogre fists do 1D4 damage.

Tieflings: Touched by infernal and abyssal blood, the taint of the tieflings is evident in their appearance and often also their behavior.
Languages: the local common tongue; tieflings who are in touch with their ancestry might know an abyssal or infernal tongue
Favored Classes: assassin, thief, magic user
Ability Scores: +1 intelligence and -1 charisma
Vision: Dark Vision 60 feet
Infernal Heritage: tieflings take half damage from fire sources and gain a +2 save bonus against spells and effects with fire (fireballs, fire breath, etc.)
Darkness 15 Feet: Tieflings can cast darknes 15' once per day.

Living Constructs: Extremely rare products of sorcery and arcanists, the living constructs of Lingusia are very rare, self-aware golems.
Ability Scores: Living constructs should gain a +1 bonus to one stat of choice, and a -1 penalty to Charisma, as they have difficulty understanding the emotions of living beings.
Mental Resistance: the strange minds of these animated entities make them especially resilient against mind affecting charms and enchantments, incurring a +4 save bonus against such magic and effects.

Marlacks: The winged dragonmen of Lingusia are an ancient, fiercely loyal race that has become more populous in recent centuries. Dedicated to their dragon lords, the Marlacks are determined to prove their worth so that they may ascend the ranks of dragonhkind.
Average Height: 6'-7' tall
Average Weight: typically 300-450 lbs; the natural armor of draconians is heavy
Languages: Draconic and the middle tongue
Ability Scores: +1 Str, -1 Int
Favored Classes: fighter, thief, magic user
Claws: Draconians have claws that do 1D6 damage.
Wings: Marlacks have dragon wings which give them lift. They can move somewhat faster, fly reasonably well, and are sufficiently talented that they gain no normal penalty when fighting while in flight (thus fighting as if they were on solid ground). They move at the same flight rate as their ground rate.

Minotaurs (Mishrag): From deeply religious cults to fierce warrior tribes, the minotaurs are a god-touched races of men who are born with bull’s heads.
Average Height: 8’ to 10’6”; minotaurs have shrunk over the centuries, and are not quite as large as they once were in ages past.
Average Weight: 400 to 550 lbs.
Languages: Minotaur and Middle Tongue, though some learn giantish, orcish and ashtarth.
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, ranger
Ability Scores: +1 Str, -1 Int; as an optional rule, characters should not choose minotaurs as a raceunless they rolled at least 13 or better for Strength. There are no weak minotaurs out there.
Optional Racial XP Penalty: -10%
Vision: dark vision
Head Butt: Minotaurs who can get a charge attack or running start in can gouge with their horns for 2D4 damage in melee.
Maze Sense: Minotaurs are exceptionally good at navigating mazes and other complicated passages, and have a sense of absolute direction when doing so. A Minotaur has a 3 in 6 chance of discerning false passages and secret doors when in a maze.

Satyrs: The mysterious satyrs are native to the Weirding Realm, but they cross over more and more frequently in to the mortal plane, obsessed with its delights and hedonistic possibilities.
Satyrs gain access to a uniquely powerful power (the pan pipes) which are presented here as an encounter power that gets better as the Satyr levels. DMs may wish to scrutinize the race carefully if you are concerned about balance. Satyr characters should be most likely to choose primal classes, though by no means are they exclusively required to choose from such.
Height: 5’2” to 6’ tall
Weight: 100-250 lbs. (or greater for the gluttons)
Languages: Feyspeak, elvish, and middle tongue
Ability Scores: +1 Cha, -1 Wis
Favored Classes: fighter, thief, magic-user
Optional Racial XP Modifier: -20%
Master of Pan Pipes: Satyrs can imbue any set of pan pipes with melodious and hypnotic magic. Satyrs can learn to perform multiple hypnotic tunes with their pan pipes, to various effects. At the start of their career the Satyr may choose from one of the following song effects, which he may perform once per day for 1D6 rounds (with the effect lasting for the length indicated by the roll). Additional tunes may be learned over time, as the satyr reaches 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th level in their class advancement. All satyr songs can be resisted with a save versus magic enchantment/charm, and elves are always immune to satyr’s songs.

Satyr Songs:

Song of Delirium: You can weave a hypnotic tune that lulls your foes in to a stupor. All listening become entranced by the song and cease their actions for one round.

Song of Ferocity: You pipe a ferocious tune that sets your allies’ blood a’boiling. All allies who hear the song gain a +1 to their next attack roll and damage roll.

Song of the Wild: Your furious music sets your allies or enemies dancing madly about. The targets of this spell are compelled to dance instead of their preferred choice of actions.

Song of Escape: Through the wild pipings you energize your allies to recover from their plight. Each ally gains a +2 bonus to saving throws.

Song of Understanding: Through your enrapturing songs you sew the seeds of communication. This spell works to allow all who hear the song to understand one another as if they spoke each other’s language.

Song of Seduction: Through your hypnotic music you weave complex charms which draw in those around you, charging them with passion and lust. Each creature in burst becomes enamoured with the creature closest to it or a satyr, chosen by the song caster (save ends). When enamored, the target creature is effectively charmed in to desire and lust for a designated target, regardless of previous affiliation. For the duration of the encounter or until the effect ends the enamoured target will attempt to aid, seduce, copulate with or otherwise party with the target of his or her attentions. This can even overcome the hostile intentions of otherwise mortal enemies when in effect.

Option: Daughters of Oberon
Some satyrs are, once every seven generations, born as females (not called fawns, either; never ever call them that!) A satyress is a rare beast, for not only you are a coveted female satyr, but you are born a true daughter of Oberon. On discovering your heritage you find that you have some of his fey glamour to light your blood with arcane power. Satyresses (all female satyrs) gain the ability to charm person once per day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ages of Lingusia: Kindred of Chaos in Swords & Wizardry

As with the races of law, refer to prior blog entries for expanded data on each race; what follows is a short summary plus S&W statistics:

The Chaos Races

Dark Elves (Ashtarth): Members of the renegade sorcerer clan of the silver elves, these chaos-tainted dark elves have evolved a sophisticated culture of demon worship.
Dark elves are like normal elves in all ways with the following differences:
Attribute Modifiers: +1 Dex, -1 Con; female Ashtarth gain +1 Cha as well.
Favored Classes: ranger, thief, magic-user, cleric. assassin
Racial Spells: once per day each: faerie fire, darkness 15' radius. 10% of ashtarth can levitate at will.

Orcs (Anyu): The orcs come in many varieties, from the civilized but still brutal grey orcs to the malicious chaos-tainted blue and red orcs and the xenophobic fell manorg of the north. They are a threat to all humankind, and few of their number are civil enough to interact with other races.
Average Height: 4’6” to 7’ feet tall; orcs vary widely in size
Average Weight: 100-350 lbs.
Languages: ogcish, plus one other (usually the middle tongue, ogreish or goblin)
Ability Scores: +1 Str, -1 Int
Favored Classes: assassin, fighter, thief
Vision: darkvision 120 feet
Light Blind: orcs fight at a -1 penalty to attacks in sunlight or other bright light (torch light is okay)
Half Orc Adventurers
In S&W, half orcs have darkvision for 60 feet but do not suffer penalties to battle in sunlight.
Ability Scores: They are stronger (+1 strength) but suffer for their mixed heritage (-1 charisma).
Favored Classes: assassin, fighter, thief
Red Orcs
Red Orcs are treated somewhat differently than normal orcs, and have normal average intelligence and strength (no modifiers)
Red orc may treat cleric and magic user as favored classes
Gul'hlath Black Orcs
Black orcs gain a 2 point armor bonus
Fell Manorg
Fell Manorg receive a +2 save bonus against cold effects and spells (breath attacks, cone of cold, etc.)
Fell Manorg may never start with another language other than orcish, goblin, minotaur, giantish or draconic.
All Fell Manorg start off illiterate (which precludes them from starting at 1st level as a wizard) and must use a language slot from intelligence to learn one form of writing
Green Orcs
Green Orcs are natural experts at jungle camouflage and survival, and receive a +10% racial modifier to all attempts at stealth (move silently, hide in shadows) in a jungle environment.

Naga: An aquatic race of evil beings who have risen to power and now aspire to conquer the dry lands of the world.
Height: 5’5” to 6”
Weight: 150-180 lbs.
Languages: Naga, common, and other options include draconic, infernal, and orcish.
Attributes: +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, thief, magic user
Optional Racial XP Modifier: -10%
Deep Vision: Naga deep vision functions equally well underwater as well as in darkness. They can see in shades of grey even in total darkness.
Amphibious: Naga can breathe normally on land and under water with no impairment. Note that this does not protect them from unnatural attacks such as stinking cloud.
Natural Swimmer: All naga are excellent swimmers, and move at full speed when swimming.
Armored Scales: Naga are scaled, and these scales provide natural armor protection, offering a natural 2 point armor class bonus.
Tail Strike: Naga can smack with their tails for 1D3 damage, and get a +1 bonus to attack when trying to trip with their tails.

Gnolls: The gnolls are a demonic race that seeks to overcome the dominance of the orcs in the underworld races and to establish themselves as the principle legions of chaos.
Gnolls are by and large an unfriendly fringe race, but if your campaign tends to avoid urban humanocentric regions in favor of the vast wilderlands inhabited by other monsters then gnolls may be especially suited to your particular games.
Height: 5’4” to 6’6” tall
Weight: 100-250 lbs.
Languages: gnollish, goblin, orcish, giantish, demonic
Ability Scores: +1 Con, -1 Int
Favored Classes: cleric (of chaos), fighter, thief
Bite: gnolls have a deadly bite that does 2D4 damage.

Sherigras: These chaos-tainted beings were once human, and long ago their kind descended in to chaos and madness, pursuing the dark arts and worshipping the dread gods of the Abyss. Marked by skeletal, gaunt features, the Sherigras exist where they are allowed, on the fringes of society.
Average Weight: 65 to 150 lbs.
Average Height: 5’1” to 6’6”
Languages: middle tongue and abyssal
Favored Classes: cleric, thief, magic user
Ability Scores: +1 Dex, -1 Cha
Vision: dark vision
Optional Racial XP Penalty: -15%
Chaotic Alignment: Sherigras are by their very nature aligned with chaos.
Mark of Chaos: Sherigras are tainted by an aura of chaos that is easily sensed by most creatures if they do not try to hide it. This penalty makes commoners, children, animals and other beings sense a vague sort of unease in their presence, and can lead to strong negative reactions from normal folk.
Taint of Chaos: The taint of chaos can be used as a weapon. Once per day, by concentrating, a Sherigras can project the aura, treating it like a fear spell with a 30 foot radius of effect from their person.
Chaos Affinity: Sherigras are attuned to chaotic energies, and have a 3 in 6 chance that they can feel the presence of planar beings and objects which are attuned to Order or Chaos (such as demons and angels or artifacts) when such creatures are within visible range.
Manifestation of Chaos: Long ago before the cataclysm Sherigras were so attuned to chaos that efforts to advance the indelible cause of their dark gods rewarded them with strange side effects, and efforts to oppose their nature led to punishment. After the cataclysm this effect lifted, and sherigras have since been freed of their dark tether to chaos, although their bodies remain wracked with corruption. Choose or roll one trait from the following list, and gain that as your chaotic affinity; each affinity grants a penalty and a bonus accordingly:

Sherigras Chaotic Affinity Table, S&W Version(D100)
1-10: hideously skeletal; you suffer an additional -2 modifier to your Con score but may use your chaos affinity fear effect twice per day.
11-20: Permanent Blindness; you permanently suffer from blindness, but gain the ability to cast invisibility once per day.
21-25: Permanent loss of one arm, but you gain a flexible tentacle which provides a +10% bonus to Delicate Tasks, Opening Locks and a +5% bonus to Picking Locks.
26-30: You have hideous claws instead of hands. You gain a natural claw attack that does 1D4 damage and can be treated as two-weapon attacks, but you suffer a -10% penalty to Delicate Tasks, Open Locks and any other check requiring fine manipulation.
31-35: You have a serpent’s tail instead of legs. You can swim at double your movement speed, and can make a constriction attack that deals 1D4 subdual damage. You suffer all the reasonable restrictions accompanied by having a serpent’s body instead of normal legs.
36-40: A Visible black nimbus of chaos energy surrounds you, visible to anyone and disguisable only by illusions (spells); However, you become more resistant to undead level drain effects and on a saving throw with a +2 bonus will be unaffected by a level drain attack.
41-50: A Third eye rests in your forehead; it grants periodic visions as determined by the GM and you gain a +2 save bonus to any saving throw against a blindness or vision-imparing effect.
51-60: A demonic face appears in your torso, which must be fed and speaks a lot (double your daily intake of rations, and take a -15% penalty on Move Silently checks if you don’t gag it). You can cast spells using this mouth even if you are gagged normally, and can perform unusual acts of ventriloquism.
61-70: Animals will instinctively attack you on site, without exception, even if you have some sort of animal empathy. However, all aberrations, undead and outsiders of at least animal intelligence react to you as if you are at least not hostile, if not actual kin, and you may cast charm monster once per day.
71-80: Blistery Black Boils cover your body from head to toe giving you a -2 reduction to your Charisma, but you are immune to disease and any exposure to a disease to which you fail a saving throw on makes you a carrier for that disease, instead.
81-90: You have perpetual stigmata, bleeding from spontaneous wounds, your eyes, and elsewhere constantly. Once per day if you are reduced to negative hit points you may make a saving throw with a +2 bonus; if you succeed, then you stabilize at 1 hit point.
91-95: You have the head of an animal; you may choose the animal and gain a natural attack appropriate to the type you chose (i.e wolves get a 1D4+1 bite), as well as a natural animal empathy for those animals and the ability to communicate with them.
96-00: You appear to be outwardly normal, but at nighttime your skin disappears and you seem to bleed continually. In addition to being easy to track, you no longer suffer as grievously from cutting and slashing wounds, instead reducing all such damage by 1 point (to a minimum of 1) while this is in effect. However, you are of such a monstrous appearance that normal social interactions are almost impossible. Think “Hellraiser.”

Ghuls: The flesh-eaters of Lingusia are half-undead survivors of undead plagues who retained their wits if not their sanity and formed a new race of deformed beings, many of whom serve Orcus and other demon gods.
Average Weight: 100 to 250 lbs.
Average Height: 5’2” to 6’6”
Languages: ghoulish, middle tongue, and access to most monstrous languages
Favored Classes: assassin, thief, cleric, magic user
Ability Scores: +1 Con, -1 Cha
Optional Racial XP Penalty: -10%
Vision: dark vision
Cannibalism: Ghuls gain strength from cannibalism. They do not need to eat fresh meat; there is much truth to the idea of ghuls seeking out corpses and carrion. Once per day, Ghuls who spend a minute or more devouring a humanoid corpse may regain 1D3 hit points.
If a ghul goes a day without eating humanoid flesh, then he does not heal 1 HP at the end of the day as he normally would. After one month of resisting cannibalism he will lose 1 HP per day. This continues until he resumes his cannibalistic ways or eventually is wounded and dies, after which he turns in to a normal undead ghoul.
Although the notion of cannibalism applies to eating members of one’s own species, ghuls find that the flesh of any demihuman will do just fine, be it elf, orc, dwarf, halfing or gnome. Humanoids that are not mammalian such as lizard men, kobolds, marlacks and so forth will also suffice, although they taste disgusting to the ghul palette.
Disease Resistance: Ghuls gain a +2 saving throw bonus to resist disease.
Putrefying Smell: Ghuls can emit a terrible stench twice per day which can have an adverse impact on nearby enemies and allies alike. All creatures within 15 feet of a ghul that emits the stench must make a saving throw against poison or suffer nausea and weakness, instilling a -1 penalty to attack rolls and other checks.

Deep Dwarves (Darendur): The deep dwarves were once a chaos-tainted race themselves, though many of their kind have emerged from the deepest regions of the Lower Dark and renounced the chaos gods. Some still adhere to the old ways, though, and regardless of their affiliation, the deep dwarves are still marked by chaos.
Darendur are like all other dwarves, save for the following differences:
Languages: Deep Speech, plus one other (usually Tradespeak or Giantish)
Ability Scores: +1 Con, -1 Cha
Favored Classes: assassin, fighter, thief
Restricted Classes: Darendur are barred from any spell-casting class, as they are unable to work magic.
Optional Racial XP Penalty: -15%
Magical Sensitivity: All darendur have a curious innate ability to tell what sort of magic an item is, much as if they had cast detect magic. Darendur may identify magic items in this manner merely by touch (they don’t even need to study them visually).
Dark Vision: Darendur have Darkvision of 120 feet, being atuned to the lightless depths of their subterranean homes. They need no light source to see in a series of black and white shades, able to rely on a form of infrared to see.
Light Sensitive: All darendur are light-sensitive, and experience blindness for one round if exposed to a sudden daylight-like effect (such as a spell or unexpected sunlight), and normaly fight with a -1 penalty when in light brighter than a torch thereafter.
Magic Resistance: Darendur have a strange resilience against magic, and have a +2 bonus to saves against it.

Trolls (Thargonids, Mihidir): The trolls are an ancient race, and while the thargonids are horribly corrupted by chaos, the mihidir still retain a trace of their ancient, proud lineage.
Average Height: 7’ to 7’6” tall (males) or 6’ to 6’6” for females
Average Weight: 250-350 lbs.
Languages: Trollish, plus one other (usually Tradespeak or Deep Speech)
Favored Classes: assassin, thief
Ability Scores: +1 intelligence and -1 charisma
Vision: Dark Vision 120 feet
Optional Raciail XP Miodifier: -20%
Regeneration: Mihidir trolls heal at an amazingly fast rate, recovering one hit point per round of battle. Only fire and acid damage does not regenerate.
Claws and Teeth: Mihidir are well armed with natural attacks; their bite does 1D3 damage and claws do 1D4 damage.

Next: Neutral Kindred in S&W!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Olga Scotland: GRIMNIR Black Ops Frigate

More amazing music from Jamendo. The first piece is a great, upbeat and unique instrumental bit. If you are like me and have had enough of Xmas music, then enjoy! Also, Merry Xmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sky Invaders

Another great discovery at Jamendo...this is a strong orchestral soundtrack that would fit any epic video game or provide great mood music for an SF campaign:

Ages of Lingusia: The Lawful Kindred in Swords & Wizardry

Races and Kindred of Lingusia

The races of Lingusia are diverse and offer a variety of alternatives to the default options for races in the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules. The following additional rules are used to govern how races work in this particular setting:

No Class/Race Restrictions
S&W Complete defaults to certain expectations; only humans, for example, can be assassins, rangers and paladins. In Lingusia all races have access to all classes (with some exceptions) but they may pay a penalty to advance in classes that are not considered favored. Thus you can have orcish assassins, Halfling druids and minotaur paladins if it is so desired; just be mindful that NPCs and monsters encountered in the wild should be qually as diverse as the PCs!

Favored Classes
All races have favored classes. A favored class suffers no level/XP restrictions for that race. Classes that are not favored will suffer some restrictions, however; in Lingusia, a race advancing in a non-favored class must pay double the normal XP to advance each level past 9.

Humans treat all classes as favored.

There are no specific multi-classing restrictions in Lingusia. Characters of any race (including humans) may choose to multiclass, applying the penalties and rules as describe in S&W to determining features such as hit points, saving throws and hit modifiers. However, any XP penalties due to favored and non-favored class combinations still apply.

Only humans can dual-class. At the GM’s discretion they can actuall continue to earn XP that applies to their original class, advancing in levels in both. However, there are two XP costs to consider:

First, the character must “stock” 2,000 XP applied toward “level 0” in the new class; when 2,000 XP is reached then he is now first level in the new class.

All XP earned for the new class (including the “0 level”) must then be divided by the level of the original class minus the level of the current class. Thus, a 7th level warrior who takes up spell casting decides to become a level 1 mage. He earns 8,500 XP on his next advwenture, which he applies to his new wizard class. The new class only actually receives 1,417 XP (as it is divided by 6, which is the fighter level minus the wizard level).

Other Race Restrictions
Other races may have restrictions based on specific features of that race, and subsequently may not be eligibile for certain classes. This will be addressed in the text of the actual entry.

Optional: Attribute Modifiers
Each race has an optional bonus and penalty that may be applied to attributes after they have been rolled and race is chosen. These reflect the average strengths and weaknesess of each race, and are completely optional. No attribute should drop to lower than 3 or higher than 18 under S&W rules, however, so for example a sylvan elf with a +1 Dexterity who already rolled an 18 for Dex would not gain a 19 Dex, as he is already maxed out.

Under this system it is recommended that humans gain a single +1 bonus that can be applied to any attribute of choice. This will help keep humans an attractive option relative to other character race options. However, Lingusia is a much more diverse world, in which humans are a plurality but not a majority, so it’s okay if you find your group consisting of half or even more nonhuman races.

That said, if the GM does not want the player group to contain six ashtarth dark elf rangers, he is well within his rights to request that the PCs diversify a bit.

Each racial entry will include relevant data on the race for the setting, as well as advice or rules necessary to run the race in S&W. Some additional lesser races are also referenced, with enough data to get interested players going.

Optional: Balancing Out Power vs. Class

If you are concerned that a certain race grants an unusual number of powers or features that will otherwise unbalance the power level of your game, then it is suggested that you treat the race as having an XP cost, to reflect the additional power and complexity that accompanies it. Such a race would impose a 10% (or greater) penalty to all experience earned. This may offset or remove bonuses due to prime attributes, but will insure that the character in question does not level as quickly, and therefore not outshine other normal class/race combinations.

Ultimately, the idea for so many race options is to give the players a sense of the exotic in the fantasy realms of Lingusia, and to allow for a wide variety of flavor. Use whatever combination of restrictions or options work best for your particular style of campaign, and you should be fine.

Summary of the Lingusian Kindred of Law with S&W Statistics:
   What follows summarizes the races with S&W-appropriate statistics. See the prior blog entries for more detailed entries on each race.

The Lawful Races

Silver Elves (Suethenurien): fair skinned and tall, these elves dwell in the ancient woodland realm of Sylvias.
The suethendur eldariin are high elves; use the normal S&W elf character generation rules to create silver elves, with the following additions.

Ability Scores: +1 Int, -1 Con
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, ranger, magic user

Silver elves gain special rules regarding what house they belong to:
The Elvish Houses: Most silver elves belong to one of the dozens of Houses of the Sun and some of low or forgotten heritage belong to no house at all.

You may roll (or choose if your GM allows it) on the following chart to determine your unusual house heritage and any benefits/limits that accompany such a background:

D100 Rolls Result
01-90 House of the Sun
91-00 House of the Moon, roll again:
01-12 House Ilmatar
13-24 House Istrion
25-36 House Nethestor
37-48 House Vystrion
49-60 House Shalmanfiel
61-72 House Astrux
73-84 House Calyspion
85-96 House Arienform
97-99 Salienform
00 Shilnavilin

House of the Moon Descriptions:

Ilmatar, House of Fire. This house is legend for its metalwork and armoring skills, and is unique in its ability to harvest and tool adamantine implements. Likewise, members of this house are famous for their talents at pyromancy and alteration.

Istrion, House of Water. Blessed by Trimelin, this house is known for its seafarers, shipwrights, merchants, and water mages.

Nethestor, House of Ice. Located in Ice Falls, members of this house are powerful with cold magic, and considered pre-eminent architects throughout the elvish lands.

Vystrion, House of Earth. Those of House Vystrion are accomplished druids, geomancers, and earth workers. They are known for their agricultural and horticultural skill, as well as magic shaping the earth and the flora.

Shalmanfiel, House of Enchantment. Masters of illusion and disguise sometimes regarded as tricksters and hucksters, the illusion-crafting skills of House Shalmanfiel are well known.

Astrux, House of Many Eyes. The most venerable house of the politicians, they have made the art of diplomacy and politics a family affair. All houses participate in politics, but House Astrux rules the field. Nothing gets done without their participation or approval. Almost all rulers for the last two thousand years have been from House Astrux. Members of House Astrux are consumate commanders, and favor the fighter class, which they almost always take.

Calyspion, House of Conjurers. This is a small house, largely dominated by the Fraternity of the Gray Robes, a venerable order of conjurers and summoners whose abilities are tethered to the Weirding Realms. Oddly, some of these mages also take up arms and practice combat to become war mages.

Arienform, House of the Sky. Blessed by Ogron, this smaller house sprouts many wind elementalists, navigators, and weather mages.

Salienform, the Outcasts. Exiles by choice or force, Salienform have been branded heretical and cast out from the Houses of the Moon. Salienform are usually born of two houses, and choose one ability bonus from each house. Intermarriage among the Houses of the Moon is forbidden (although it is permissible with the Houses of the Sun). Likewise, criminal or deviant behavior also results in expulsion. If this is the case, determine your reason for belonging to this outcast caste.

Shilnavilin, the Dark House. This is officially an extinct house, as its members became the seed of the Ashtarth many millennia ago. The Ashtarth who still wage war against Sylvias claim this house title their own. The only fair skinned members of this house are said to live in the demiplane of the Desecrated Lands, worshippers of the ancient Anhedron the Damned, he who first corrupted the house and cursed them to become Ashtarth forever more. Members of this house are rare descendants of the original tainted bloodline who were not marked by chaos, though the corruption of their house still marks them in unusual ways. They are almost never lawful good in alignment, and most are albino.
Special Benefit: You may plane shift (as the gate spell) once per day to the Desecrated Lands. Considering how deadly that dimension is (it is the vast boundary at the topmost layer of the Abyss), such a use might be seen as a desparate act indeed.

Wood Elves (Sylvanurien): The free spirited and much shorted woodland elves are found throughout the world and are distinctively mischievous.
Sylvan elves function as normal elves in S&W, with the following options:

Ability Scores: +1 Dex, -1 Con
Favored Classes: druid, ranger, thief, magic user

Humans: The most populace and successful of all the lawful races, humans are found everywhere, and are believed to be the favored progeny of the gods. Humans function in S&W as they normally do (unless optional rules are added).

Iron Dwarves (Maddendur): The iron dwarves are a rough mountain breed of dwarf with a nose for minerals and and in insatiable desire to dig deep for hidden veins of gold and other precious metals in the mountains of the world.
Iron dwarves are just like standard dwarves in S&W, with no unusual modifications except for the following specific features to Lingusia:

Optional Ability Scores: +1 Con, -1 Dex
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, thief

Silver Dwarves (Suethendur): The silver dwarves are a mechanically inclined lot, dwelling mostly in human lands due to an ancient exile from their own mountains, and famous for their talent with anvil and hammer.
Silver dwarves are generated using the standard dwarf rules in S&W, but with the following modifications:

Optional Ability Scores: +1 Str, -1 Dex
Favored Classes: cleric, fighter, thief, magic user
Artificers and Crafters: All suethendur are excellent craftsmen and inventors by nature, and have a keen understanding of ancient machinery as well as the clockwork and steam powered mechanisms they tinker with. In game terms, if necessary, GMs may let a sivler dwarf make a D20 roll equal to or under their Int score to grasp the general use and meaning of such devices when encountered.

Gnomes: Commonly mistaken for true fey, gnomes are earthly beings more at home in the elemental realms of earth, and are found hidden deep within the remote forests and mountains of the world. They suffer from a strange corruption in the presence of civilization and technology.
Height: 1’6” to 2’4” tall

Weight: 25-55 lbs.
Languages: feyspeak, gnomish, the middle tongue and possibly other sylvan languages
Ability Scores: +1 Dex, -1 Wis
Favored Classes: fighter, thief, magic user
Forestkin: Gnomes of Lingusia are creatures of the earth, and they are fairly in tune with nature and the spirits of the land. When gnomes leave such an environment for too long they tend to go a little mad, and gnomes that dwell in human cities are considered eccentric to a fault.
Illusionists: Gnomes are particularly versatile at illusory magic and may cast phantasmal force once per day. Forest gnomes use this ability to disguise their homes and provide pleasant entertainment within their communities. City gnomes use it to swindle and con humans or to produce extravagant sorcerous “magic shows,” for which they charge sums of money.

Halflings (Syleni): An even rarer breed of fey, the diminutive Halflings are suspected to have been the product of an ancient union between a tribe of fey and dwarf or men, though none know for sure.
Halflings work exactly as indicated in S&W and are regarded by most as brave little souls (when they aren’t mistaken for children). Halflings are the most closely associated to humans of all the demihuman kin, and their villages are almost always nestled within or near larger human cities and towns.

Height: 3’6” to 4’6” tall
Weight: 75-155 lbs.
Languages: sylenic (Halfling), the middle tongue and possibly other sylvan languages
Ability Scores: +1 Dex, -1 Con
Favored Classes: fighter, thief, magic user, ranger, monk
Halflings in Lingusia are a pleasant and unassuming folk. Because of this, some rogue and errant Halflings have become masters at taking advantage of their larger human kin, relying on the generally pleasant nature of their kind to provide a smokescreen for their illicit dealings!

Aasimar: Aasimar are a variant race and counterparts to tieflings. Like tieflings the aasimar have a parent or ancestor with planar blood. Unlike the tieflings, the aasimar have been touched by a divine spark from a good or beneficient being such as a seraph or other angelic entity. A few may even have godling ancestry.
Languages: Middle Tongue, plus one other (usually Tradespeak or Celestial if they know their divine parent or have access to such lore)

Ability Scores: +1 wisdom or charisma no penalty
Vision: darkvision 60 feet
Immortal: You are immortal in origin and all effects that work for or against immortals also affect you.
Divine Heritage: aasimar are unusually resistant to the effects of chaos, and gain +2 bonuses to save vs. magic cast by chaotically aligned beings and monsters.

Amazons: An ancient race of warrior women who are sworn to an eastern god of war, Vishannu, and received the gift of immortality for their dedication.
Amazons are human in size and appearance, but gain the following benefits:

Favored Classes: fighter, ranger, cleric, monk
Ability Scores: none
Languages: Vyrindian, middle tongue, and some usually know Belladasian, Hotepsalan, Eastron or draconian
Immortals: All Amazons are ageless. They mature at about age 25 and do not get older. Although they do not age, they are prone to disease, injury, poison, and all other forms of death.
Gender Bias: Amazon women have difficulty dealing with men as equals, as they are unused to men who are independent or in positions of power; conversely they see men as naturally inferior.
Martial Society: All amazon women train in at least one martial weapon of choice outside of their normal class options; pick one weapon with which your character is skilled at using, in addition to (or despite) your chosen class’s normal range.
Next: Kindred of Chaos in Swords & Wizardry

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Old Republic

My wife jumped on the bandwagon months ago with a preorder of the $150.00 super crazy collector's edition featuring a Darth Ugly action statue. I resisted. I have spent most of the last year burnt out on MMOs and focused on the decidedly more engaging single player experiences offered in most other games (or the short and frenetic madness of pvp-focused games like Black Ops and GoW 3). I haven't felt very "Star Wars-ish." I didn't want to buy into yet another MMO that was destined to string me to disappointment after a week or two (Rift, Star Trek Online, DCUO, etc.), chiefly with the fact that MMOs seem necessarily limited in their storytelling conventions and just how they can engage a player with that oft-ignored -RPG component that can sometimes be found at the end of the MMO-part.

But yeah, after weeks of ignoring my wife's Star Wars: The Old Republic experiences in beta and then special pre-release early start play, I finally caved and got this game yesterday. I can tell you this much so far:

1. I'm glad I'm playing it now, because I always did want to play KOTOR 3 and this is it.

2. Bioware has managed to wed MMO styled gameplay to their traditional single player RPG storytelling medium. This turned out to work very well. I basically feel like I'm playing KOTOR 3 but with the occasional need to ignore random people running around and a chat window.

3. Whoever made those Bioware movies should be comissioned immediately by Lucas Arts to make a Star Wars trilogy of films using the CGI displayed here. Oh, and maybe give them cart blanche to do whatever the hell sort of storyline they want.

4. The gameplay is really conventional (I haven't even read the tutorial bits, the gameplay is a natural to anyone who's played any MMOs at all since December 2004) but this does not detract from the fun. The shoot-them-up component I've experienced so far as a republic trooper has been fairly engaging as starter zones go.

5. Bioware-style dialogue trees. I am already developing a sense of who my trooper cyborg is and whether he's a maverick, a tow-the-line sort of guy, or an embittered soul. I'm only a few hours in and I'm already being confronted with tough decisions. Hell, I got a classic, "fetch me my necklace" quest and it rapidly blew up into a "she could be a spy for the Sith Empire!" subplot. I really don't know what I'd do with all my free time if it weren't for Bioware and Bethesda knocking out such quality, thoughtful RPGs these days. Read a lot more, I guess.

6. Fully voiced, including your own character. I can't express strongly enough what an impact this has. Age of Conan had this up to about level 20-22, for example, and it was well done (until you left the starter zone and voiced dialogue suddenly got very scarce). Hell, even among single player RPGs I think a voiced protagonist is a smart move; contrast Mass Effect with Dragon Age or Fallout 3, for example.

7. Graphics are good. I cranked it up to max and it is a nice looking game, for an MMO. Not as slick as a dedicated single player experience, but still superior to most MMOs on the market right now.

So I opted for a three months at a time subscription plan. I think it will take me at good long time to finish all of the individual character campaigns in SWTOR, and it's the first MMO I've played since DDO and Champions Online that really grabbed me and now has me keen to play more.

While playing with Marcus in my lap last night he did something I hadn't seen to date: he started staring long and hard at the screen.* Did he recognize shapes and images as the same stuff he sees Mom playing all the time? Or is he just now starting to develop better, far ranging vision? I need to read up a bit on this. He's starting to pay more attention to odd things, like staring intensely at my book shelf (which I imagine looks like a panoply of colors to him) or his stuffed monkeys and ducks hanging from his comfy baby chair.

Okay, enough rambling! I have some preloaded stuff for my S&W Ages articles, and am hoping to get another TME feature done this weekend, but if I don't post much else between now and New Years, have a grand old time for the holidays!

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti! 

*Should he even be looking at a computer screen? Try reading up on early childhood parenting, and you'll discover more wacked out, contradictory information than you can shake a stick at!

Swords & Wizardry Rules for the Ages of Lingusia

I had discussed this before, and now I'm back on it: some conversion mechanics for use with the Ages of Lingusia content I have run previously on the blog. I still hope to prettify and edit the entire mess and put it out as a proper book for people interested in such, but for now just "getting it out there" will do just fine.

Characters in the Ages of Lingusia

The Swords & Wizardry edition of Ages of Lingusia assumes you are using the Complete edition available from Frog God Gqames, which includes nine character classes. The class rules work more or less precisely as described in the S&W Complete rulebook, with the following optional additions:

Maximum Starting Hit Points
Instead of starting with an initial hit die at level one, all characters get a slight fighting chance by receiving maximum hit points at first level (the highest value of the first hit die plus any constitution bonus). This will slightly ease the pain of being ganked by two or three kobolds in the night.

Die Rolling Conventions
These are completely optional, but I use these die-rolling options specifically to grant characters a slightly heroic edge:

Attributes: attributes may use the “roll 4D6 and discard the lowest die” method of character generation to generate more heroic personas. All other characters except nefarious villains should roll the standard 3D6. Characters may distribute their attributes accordingly, or roll straight down the row, whichever they prefer.

Hit Dice: I have always been kind on hit dice, and characters may roll their hit die at each new level; if they do not like the result, they may re-roll, but must retain the second roll regardless of whether it is better or worse than the first. This mostly serves as a “do over” for 1s and 2s on the hit die roll, but provides better odds characters will have somewhat more favorable hit points over time.

Attribute Checks
Attributes can be used to resolve matters of skill, lore and aptitude about which there may be uncertainty otherwise. A D20 roll is compared to the attribute score, and if it is equal to or under then the character is granted the knowledge or completion of a certain task appropriate. Modifiers may be applied to the attribute to improve or lower the odds of success. As a rule of thumb, assume a range of +1 to +4 applied to the attribute (or subtracted from the die roll) for progressively easier tasks, and a -1 to -4 or higher modifier for increasingly difficult tasks.

Perception is a default trait that is equivalent to Wisdom, though elves may receive a +2 bonus to the Perception score. A D20 check, with bonuses or penalties applied to Perception, may be rolled (equal to or under) to resolve any uncertainty as to whether the character spots a fine detail that might otherwise not be noticed or is overlooked.

Everyone needs a luck score, and this value is always rolled using a straight 3D6. The luck score is a tool for the GM to use with attribute checks to resolve uncertainties involving situations where luck plays a big factor. Did Kormak stumble across the mugging of Lady Cateris in time? Did Maximus happen to drop the Star Sapphire of Zephon when he was drunk off his ass? Luck can be a fun way of deciding if such things happen.
Options by Class
There are a few additional optional rules for some classes, as indicated below. These options apply to the classes presented in S&W Complete:

Assassins receive access to thief abilities at two levels below the equivalent thief class level. Rather than start the assassin with thief abilities at third level, grant the abilities at first level, but scaled down proportionately for level 1:

Chaotic clerics can command undead, rolling as if they turn undead, but on a T result the undead will not harm and may even obay simple commands for 3D6 rounds. On a D result the undead will obey the cleric as if charmed.

Neutral clerics are an important part of Lingusia, and have the distinct advantage of being able to either banish or command undead with a turn check.

Clerics optionally gain bonus spell slots at 1st level, based on wisdom. A 1st level cleric with a bonus spell slot may use it to learn 1st level spells at that time, even though he normally doesn’t gain spell access until level 2.

Druids optionally gain bonus spell slots based on the average of their wisdom and charisma.

A fighter gains a new ability: he may make three attacks every two combat rounds at level 7, and at level 12 may make 2 attacks per round. These attacks are not restricted by HD like the default Multiple Attacks ability, which he retains as well. This modification allows melee fighters to gain an additional edge over other martial classes (who get an additional perk, below).

Rangers, Monks and Paladins
Each of these classes are permitted a full bonus to hit and damage for high strength scores.

Magic Users
In Lingusia, mages can prepare spells when they have slots available for those spells to imprint in their mind. The time taken to imprint a spell is approximately 15 minutes of focused concentration and effort per level of spell. There is not daily limit; if a magic user has just finished casting three first level spells and two second level spells and has three hours to rest after his ordeal, he has more than the necessary hour and forty five minutes needed to reacquire his spells.

Under this system, spell slots (especially at lower levels) become a resource that can be recovered between battles and other strenuous events that lead to the use of magic. The magic user is only in trouble if he is forced to deal with a lengthy ordeal during which he has neither time nor opportunity to recover used magic, or no access to his spellbook.

Under the optional rules a magic user gains bonus spell slots based on his intelligence (see next).

New Optional Magic Rules
The following optional magic rules can be used at your own discretion. The basic rule (bonus spells) is the default assumption for the Ages of Lingusia setting, and isn’t terribly world-shattering, though it will front-load spell casters with a little more magic. The subsequent optional spell point system is provided purely as an interesting alternative rule for the use of magic to experiment with; although I used it a great deal in the old days, I actually favor the more traditional spell memorization system these days, but on occasion it’s fun to run a campaign with gonzo spell point-based magic systems.

Optional Bonus Spell Slots
Some spell casters receive bonus spell slots. The bonus slots are determined as follows, and provide one extra slot that can be used for the indicated level of spell:

Ability scores are determined as follows:

Clerics: Wisdom

Druids: The average of Wisdom and Charisma (Wis+Cha/2)

Magic Users: Intelligence

Optional System: Spell Points
In the old days I always implemented a spell point system, although in more recent years I have grown fond of the “Vancian” memorization system. Presented here is the spell point mechanic for your consideration.

Under this system spells cost Spell Points (SPs) to cast for arcane magic or Divine Points (DPs) for clerical and druidic magic. If for some reason a character has more than one source of magic, he must keep separate track of each spell point pool.

Spells cost SPs equal to their level, so level 1 spells cost 1 SP, while level 9 spells cost 9 SPs. Any material components are still required.

Classes earn SPs instead of spell slots, at a rate equal to the number of spell slots earned multiplied by the spell level the slot can be used for. Thus, a level 1 spell slot is worth 1 SP, but a level 5 spell slot grants 5 SP. This means a 5th level magic user with 4 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells and 1 3rd level spell actually receives 11 SPs (4 for four 1st level slots, 4 for two 2nd level slots, and 3 for one 1st level slot). If you use the bonus spells rule above, those also grant bonus spell points.

Under this system all spell casters cast “on the fly,” without having to memorize spells, though they must have necessary material components ready for use. Spell points are recovered at a variable rate. The default rate (for fast magic games) is 1 point per hour of rest, or all SPs per 8 hours of sleep. This rate can be adjusted as follows:

Spell Point Recovery Rate

Default: 1 point per hour of rest or all points after a ful night’s sleep

Fast Magic: 1 point recovered per 10 minutes of rest (or all points after a night’s sleep)

Slow Magic: 1 point recovered per hour of sleep; 1 point recovered per 2 hours of no activity.

Spell points are limited by the maximum casting level of the caster; thus, for example, magic users can’t access 5th level spells until level 9, although once they reach level 9 they can spend spell points on any such spells up to that level that they add to their spell book. Likewise, spell points are not capped for use like slots, so there is nothing preventing that 9th level mage from using all 32 spell points to cast magic missile over and over again if he so desires.

The chief advantage of a spell point mechanic is that it frees up spell casters to use spells according to need rather than trying to anticipate what may be required of them. Many spells tend to go unused at the moment when they could otherwise be handy to cast, and in this system that rarely ever happens except as an oversight.

The downside of a spell point system is that it makes spell casters remarkably more flexible and potentially much more powerful in later levels. Because the spell point do not cap the number of spells of a given level, it means that there could easily by mages in the world who specialize in lower level magic while retaining higher levels specifically for the extra SP. Conversely, it means at high levels one particularly devious mage could destructively unleash a few high level spells in favor of numerous lower level spells.

In my experience with using this system, the great equalizer boils down to judicious use of the same system with villain NPC mages and priests. When the NPCs use the same mechanic, it means that the GM can be just as devious, albeit much more often and in many creative ways than the players.

The following chart provides a breakdown of spell points per level for each caster type as well as an indication at what point access to new spell levels is gained:

   You can use the following chart to calculate bonus spell points (see Bonus Spell Slots, above) if using that optional rule as well:

Next: Races and Kidred of Lingusia in S&W

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Mutant Epoch: Walking Through Character Generation - Meet Fermi!

Today I start off an overview of The Mutant Epoch by way of a walkthough on character generation. After loading up the official Mutant Epoch Dice Roller, I decide on a couple preliminary basics (name, and he has a mother) then plunge right into the thick of it…so without further adieu:

Meet Fermi.

Fermi is undefined and amorphous, but I know this much about him: he had a mother, and that mother owned a book, a biography of the great Enrico Fermi. She didn’t understand much about the book, and couldn’t read much of it, but the cryptic nature of the book fascinated her endlessly. She decided, after learning she was pregnant with a child that she (amazingly) carried to term as a healthy baby boy, to name him Enrico Fermi after the man in the book. Maybe this man’s greatness would rub off on her son…

I’m new to TME so I think I’ll roll on the beginning player chart in the book for just what sort of type Fermi is. 71! Fermi was born a “mild mutant.” In the ordinary world this could be bad….mutations caused by chemicals or radiation are a bad thing, m’kay, but luckily this is a mutant of the Mutant Epoch, so Fermi is destined to be better off….looks like he starts with rolls for prime mutations, minor mutations and a chance of a flaw. A few quick rolls and we’ve got 2 prime mutations, 2 minor mutations and (yay!) no flaw. But more about that later, I’ve skipped ahead a bit here.

TME defines characters by traits, also known as attributes and statistcs in other games. Here we’re looking at endurance, strength, agility, accuracy, intelligence, perception, willpower and appearance. Goooooood. I like a game that puts perception right out there as a primary feature, it’s a pet peeve of mine when it’s missing or condemned to a skill check.

TME offers a few ways to calculate these scores. I’m going to stick with the standard system, in which all eight stats are rolled I order, with no trades, switches or other gimmicks to make them better. Fermi’s going to be all Old School here. Traits are determined by rolling D100 and comparing them to a chart. The chart favors stats in the lower range (25-40 seem to be the norm) but the values can plummet or skyrocket on particularly unusual rolls. It’s an interesting and different way to handle point spreads.

A few quick rolls and I get the following:

Endurance 23 – Fermi gets colds all the time. He might be asthmatic.

Strength 41 – Fermi’s got some muscles, he can haul firewood, carcasses and relic tech with the rest of the tribe.

Agility 57 – nimble fellow!

Accuracy 41 – He can hit a doom moth at range without too much trouble.

Intelligence 27 – Fermi apparently didn’t learn to read or absorb much of his mom’s lessons.

Perception 56 – A keen observer! Good trait for surviving the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Willpower 25 – low average. Fermi is easily influenced.

Appearance 98 – score! Rolled a 98 on the chart, which means his actual stat is 80+1D20. Fermi is a handsome dude.

Like all good RPGs (and especially the old school RPGs) TME has value modifiers, also known as secondary characteristics, derived from his traits. Right now he’s got a low healing rate (3), okay damage modifier to melee attacks (+4) and decent strength range (+10% bonus to how far he can throw things), decent defensive value modifier for being agile (-6) and is slightly faster (+.75meters/round), slight accuracy bonus to his strike value (+2) and a +1 initiatve modifier for being perceptive. These might change if his traits get warped later on, we’ll see.

Like all survivors of the Mutant Epoch Fermi has a caste which tells us what he’s been doing up until the point at which he, for whatever reason, set out into the wide world to start adventuring. His caste will suggest a lot about who he was, how he grew up and what he was taught about himself and the world. So going to the “mutant” column I click the D100 button and get…6! Gladiator Slave!!!!! Well now we know why he has a low intelligence and willpower…maybe he was enslaved at a young age.

Just for the record, TME offers up thirty possible castes/careers which include the mundane (fisher, miner and logger) and the exotic (pirate, draftee, watchman). Castes tell you what sort of skills you might start with, and fill in some background history. They might give you some other weird background details, as we shall see below…

Right off the bat Fermi gets some trait modifiers for being a gladiator slave. His attributes change accordingly:

Endurance 37 – all that fighting has hardened him into almost normal levels of health!

Strength 55 – he’s gotten his work out in the arena.

Agility 58 – a tiny improvement.

Accuracy 46 – likewise.

Intelligence 22 – brains…stagnating….killing….requires….less….book smarts….!

Perception 59 – Already decent vision has gotten better as he learns to watch out for danger!

Willpower 22 – time as a slave has made him even more submissive.

Appearance 89 – his natural beauty has been marred by a few scars, maybe a broken nose….I guess you could say Fermi is looking a bit “rugged” now. Even with all that he’s still a handsome fellow.

He has an outfitting code: ESC. This will be important later, it lets him look up his starting gear.

As a gladiator slave Fermi has automatically started with D3 levels in brawling; I rolled a 1…hmmm, guess I know why he took a few beatings to the face now. He also gets 4+1D4 rolls to the warriors skills table. I roll 8 total, this is good.

Starting skills come from a chart that you roll on based upon skill set (warrior, in this case). Each roll is equivalent to 1 skill point in the determined skill. Some skills stack, some don’t, some do other things.

Rolling percentiles I get the following:

Unarmed Combat 1 – essential basic skill. Unarmed combat is either brawling or martial arts. He’s already got a point in brawling, and you only start with one or the other at Rank 1 either by caste or roll, so brawling it is…now with 2 points instead.

Riding 1 – Maybe they made the gladiators ride beasts of war into skirmishes?

Weapons Expert 3 – Good skill to have for what he does. This can apply to an offensive mutation or to a rolled weapon group. I think a weapon group would be handy….I roll 98 on the chart and get pistols. Interesting! But Fermi is an escaped slave so he doesn’t start with a weapon in his possession (yet).

Grapple 2 – close combat grappling was a decent survival skill, apparently. Still, should he get his hands on one, 3 points in pistols gives him +8 strike value and +6 to damage bonus.

Stealth 1 – he’s learned to hide when necessary.

Okay, now he’s starting to look like he could live through a few fights!

Skills are defined in specific ways in TME. The rank of a skill reflects specific characteristics and should be looked up and noted for reference; it is not the same as, say, Traveller skills where the rank applies to rolls as a modifier.

TME uses a “Hazard Check” (i.e. saving throw) mechanic to resolve conflicts. You cross-reference the relevant skill with the hazard check code (from A to E or higher…higher letter codes are tougher) and make a percentile check to overcome the matter. As an example, Grappling 2 offers two codes: Hazard Code C to resist his attacks and Hazard Code B for holding on.

There are a few more things to determine. Gladiator slaves are rough, brutal and short-lived fellows who usually survive by escaping. There’s a 94% chance a “wanted-alive” bounty is on Fermi’s head, and after rolling 54 the answer is yes: his former owners want him back, and alive, for more fun in the arena. This is one of many bits of bait that I like to call “fodder for the GM” that caste backgrounds offer. He also has a 2% chance he can read and write, and an 11 rolled says nope, even if he was on track for literacy early in life, he didn’t retain it, and his owners did not see fit to educate their slave.

While we’re at it lets get his base physical stats down: he’s a hefty 94kg but is a stocky and short 1.69 meters tall. He’s left handed –just like his player, yay- and he can’t swim. Guess being a slave hasn’t afforded Fermi any opportunities to learn. Fermi is only 18 years old at the start of his career as a free man, too. This is good; he’s the minimum adult standard, so no modifiers by age apply for now. And yes, all of these are accounted and rolled for in the book.

So now we’re back to what it means to be a minor mutant. He’s got 2 prime mutations and 2 minor mutations, and is fortunate not to have any flaws. He also gets to figure out a few other fun traits as well, such as:

Skin Color: pitch black! This sounds like inky black, not African American black. At least I didn’t roll teal or carrot….

Hair Color: rusty

Eye Color: grape colored. Hmmm….except for the hair, he really does sound like Drizzt.

Timefor those mutations. This chart is an impressive D1000. I don’t think I’ve actually had to roll a D1000 chart since my Ysgarth days. Two rolls first on the prime mutations: 402 and 279! Then two on the secondary (on a D100): 65 and 42…let’s see what we have wrought:

The Prime Mutations:

Fanged – What it says; a quick roll and it is determined that Fermi’s got regular old fangs with a +4 strike value and a D10 damage roll. He loses a point of appearance, however (but see next…)

Deviant Skin Structure – this takes me to another chart with a D12 roll. He’s got Reflective Skin it turns out. Holy crap, he looks like the guys from Wetworks! Metallic reflective skin, can’t sunburn, lasers and other beam weapons have a 70% chance of being deflected (and do half damage if they get through)….and he gains an extra D8 Appearance for being so freakin’ cool (bumps his Appearance up to 94…Fermi can make everything look good, heh!)

The Minor Mutations:

Physical Alterations (twice) – The physical alteration chart calls for two percentile checks. I snag 21 and 19, leading to: Bulbous Eyes –eewww (drops Appearance to 92) and give him a better field of vision adding +1 to initiative checks; also, a Bulbous Head!!!! Fermi is starting to sound like a golden metallic alien grey. This is a good thing for the smarts department however. He loses 4 more Appearance (now 88) but gains 2D20 INT (bumping it 25 points to a decent 47, and an additional D20 to his WILL as well for a total of 38. Finally, he’s got a 77% chance of D2 ghost mutations, and rolling a 38 confirms it….he’s got 1, it turns out. Flipping back to the ghost and lambent mutations chart I roll percentiles and get 64…Mental Mine. What is Mental Mine? Why it’s an orb of glowing green energy he can generate once per day per rank (rank here being equivalent to “level” elsewhere). It deals D20+INT modifier damage; his INT modifier (+4) damage. He can leave it around like a mine, throw it, or time it for explosion. Cool.

Fermi is now one weird looking dude. He’s going to stand out in a crowd (well, maybe not so much in the Epoch of Mutants, but…well, you get the idea.) And remember: he’s a minor mutant!

Time for some gear. Fermi’s caste gear code was ESC, which means escaped slave or prisoner. As such, he starts with the following, much of which is rolled for on percentages (I’m only going to list what was rolled for):

Tattered slave garb (luckily NOT flea infested! Yes you do roll to check)

He’s not presently wounded, nor does he have a black eye (rolled 43, had a 42% chance of starting off play wounded from his escape; yes, you roll for both of these—how cool is that? It’s as if Classic Traveller let you make a survival roll, then when you failed you got to roll to see if you died in an airlock accident, or maybe accidental laser discharge, or alien herpes or who knows what. I love this stuff!)

He is the proud owner of numerous whip scars on his back. His only satisfaction is knowing that the laser whips were all but useless against him…

He has one regular round of pistol ammo he managed to hold onto.

Spiked leather armor, a spiked shield and an iron helmet! Guess he escaped in his fighting armor.

A hatchet. Well, beggars can’t be choosers…..but honestly he’s going to be better at hitting with his fists than this thing.

Finally, we establish that Fermi is Rank 1. He has no experience factors (alias experience points) yet, and his starting Strike Value is 01-50. All of his SV bonuses add to this….so if he is attacking with his fists (brawling) his 2 skill points give him a +5 SV bonus, and his accuracy bonus to attacks is +4, making his brawling SV total 01-59 at Rank 1. Naturally DV values reduce the SV making things harder to hit/penetrate.

So what do we know about Fermi now? He had a loving mother who named him after a person in a sacred ancient book, but at a young age he was sold or captured into slavery. He was impressively handsome despite his alien eyes, head and skin and was placed in the gladiatorial arenas, perhaps as a curiosity, but he struggled and survived until he was able to escape into the wide world with much of his fighting gear. Fermi now stands at the threshold of the wasteland a free mutant, but with the threat of bounty hunters seeking to drag him back to his former master.

Fermi's final character sheet:
Enrico Fermi

Type: Mutant (minor); Former Caste: gladiator slave

Appearance: pitch black reflective skin, purple-grape bulbous eyes, a bulbous head, with rusty colored hair (probably long and in a braid to keep it out of the way from his fights); he has whip scars on his back. Gender: male Age: 18 Weight: 94kg Height: 1.69 meters

Traits: Endurance 37; Strength 55; Agility 58; Accuracy 46; Intelligence 47; Perception 59; Willpower 38; Appearance 88

Secondary Stats: Move: 6.75 meters; Healing Rate 4; Melee Damage Bonus +6; +30% strength range; Agility DV -6; Acc SV +4; Initiative Modifier +2

Skills: Brawling 2, Grapple 2, Riding 1, Stealth 1, Weapon Expert (pistols) 3

Mutations: fangs (medium), deviant skin structure (reflective skin), bulbous eyes, bulbous head, mental mine (1D20+4 damage; ranges based on WILL)

Gear: hatchet, spiked leather armor, spiked shield, iron helmet, one regular round of pistol ammo, tattered slave garb.

Armor: Total DV -27 (-6 AGL, -16 armor, -5 shield);

Weapons: Hatchet (SV 01-54; 1D12+6 damage); Brawling (SV: 01-59; 1D6+8 damage); If he ever gets a pistol his SV is 01-62 with a +6 damage modifier for skill.

In the end, Fermi looks something like a cross between this:

And This:

Next: some Mutant Epoch Adventuring!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ad Astra: Dragoons, Simulants and Loadouts


Some dragoons are so far removed from the common human that they are closer to robots, and may even be designed as if they were such. For a more “human” dragoon, treat them as Marines with the following additional package ideas. The following Cybernetic enhancements are placed on a Dragoon to bring them up to FM standards. Most Dragoons are recruited from amongst desperate criminals, those who have experienced crippling and irreparable injuries, and others.
Ares Class Dragoon Infantry Unit:

UPP: AB7762

Skills: 3 terms Star marine career path

Special Abilities:

Bioware: Biomonitor Implant records physical condition, heart rate, temperature, toxicity, etc. Wafer Jack.

Armor: Dragoons have the equivalent protection of Powered Armor with an Armor rating of 14. This is a duralloy mod armor enhancement, and is part of their body.

Environmental Adaptation against extreme heat, extreme cold, vacuum, and water. The dragoon is unaffected by these extremes.

Nano-Regeneration allows for nanotech healing agents to repair damage (but not to armor), giving a +2 modifier to End checks for healing.

Enhanced Senses: Sonar, Radar, Radio Infrared, and hearing are all added or boosted.

Special Attack: Ares UR55 Particle Cannon The equivalent of a PGMP-12 or sometimes larger.

Size: The Dragoon is larger than normal,averaging 8-10 feet in height.

Owned: Federated Commonwealth Marines own the dragoon’s body and soul, literally. Dragoons really don’t muster out; a PC Dragoon which is forced out of service by failing a Survival roll, or at an appropriate Life Event, may declare it tries to go rogue, or become a drifter. It is then wanted and has the Federated Commonwealth as an enemy. Alternatively, a Dragoon which reaches officer rank 5 or better and which has at least 6 benefist for mustering out may expend those benefits to purchase its freedom.

Ageless: The treatment of what little organics remain in the Dragoons are such that they never worry about ageing effects. Dragoons never die of old age; usually just disease, cancer and in battle.

Outsider: The monstrous, mechanoid appearance and inability of the dragoon to interact normally with humans again, as well as being social and criminal outcasts in origin, forces all Dragoons to start with a Social Standing of 2. This can improve, especially if a Dragoon becomes an officer by commission, but they can never hold any noble rank no matter how high the social standing goes.

Limited Power Source: Dragoons use power from internal fusion plants, and rarely run out, but if this is ever compromised (such as on a called shot at maximum effect), there is A 1 in 6 chance the power plant will explode, taking the dragoon and a lot of turf with it. If the plant is shut off or removed, the dragoon is rendered inert, and emergency back-ups will kick in after 30 seconds, but provide only one hour of power for mobility. After the hour, it is inert, and a small battery keeps the biological part of the dragoon alive for 48 hours, after which it runs out and dies.

Marine Combat Gear
Powered Combat Armor

Through the various Phases of time in the Ad Astra setting, marine combat armor has evolved from armored vaccuum suits with nominal exosekeletal power-up to state of the art, high-tech mech suits which average about 10-16 feet in height and are as well armed and armored as most high-tech interstellar combat fighters (and more versatile, to boot).

Combat armor in Ad Astra is easily defined by the Powered Armor listings in the Traveller equipment rules.

Protophase Armor Options:

The best armor available during this period is Infantry Battle Suit dress. Towards the end of this period, Hard Armor becomes available.

Ares Class Standard Armored Vacc Suit

Periods: Phase I, II, III

A heavy combat vacc suit, designed with flexible polyweave duralloy armor plating, self-sealing mesh, a one week recycling life support system, and exoskeletal support. Some units, mostly for space-going missions, include zero-gee jet thrusters. During Phase I, these suits are defined as Hard Armor. By the end of Phase I and then on, use the Powered Armor listings (scout, battle, and heavy). All of these suits have the following extra features:

Environmental Adaptation resistant to pressure, vacuum, radiation, cold, heat, gasses, unless punctured or compromised.

Life Support One week of extended life support in a completely hostile environment. Goes to 1 month by phase II and six months by phase III.

Special Attack: Built-in shoulder or arm mounted mini-chain gun or mini-blow torch.
Ares Class Attachment Options:

Cerberus 50mm Recoil-free Heavy Assault Rifle

(Use ACR stats)

Built to serve as the standard heavy-assault weapon for Ares-armored infantry, this massive rifle fires magnetically launched, high-velocity slugs with no recoil, making it ideal for zero-gee combat missions.

Harpy 2200 Self-Guided Missile Shoulder Launcher

(Use the Rocket Launcher stats, TL 9)

A heavy mobile launch cannon loaded with homing missiles. This is a favored portable assault weapon among powered armor troopers.

Damocles Monofilament Assault Blade

Damage 3D6; Mass .5; Uses 300; Heft -; Cost 50,000 CR

Sometimes you find yourself in the trenches in man to man combat, and nothing cuts through duralloy like a monofilament assault blade. On a critical failure of 1 in an attack, the blade breaks! Monofilament blades are so effective that against standard (i.e. non energy-based) armor they treat armor protection as half normal value.


Simulants are effectively genetically enhanced, test-tube grown humans, created from whole genetic cloth and tailored to the specific needs of a given job. Simulants, therefore, have a limited capacity for variation. There are about three hundred “types” from which the FM draws its best stock, and they leave intentional random mutational factors in the growth process to insure that there is a factor of individuality between the simulants. It is possible to have an army of true clones who all look alike, but the need to assert individuality in the face of such sameness is in the HFC charter.

Simulant Characters:

Simulants are tailored in the transgenic design process to be most functional in their profession. Ergo, you get a very narrow starting point spread for you attributes, and each stimulant type is engrained with certain specific skills that must be paid for with starting skill points at the minimum indicated levels. These stats will change as the stimulant goes through it’s career path, but the base ranges are as follows. Also, note that Simulants are specifically bred for the military; they automatically get to join one of the military careers for their first term. They can not actually leave their chosen field of service until they have served at least 3 terms, although they may attempt to switch to different military careers. A stimulant who fails a second or later enlistment attempt always gets submitted to the draft at that time, until his first three terms are completed. If a stimulant is forced to muster out for an injury, however, he is also then discharged from his duties and may resume a career as a free man.

Grunt Simulants

UPP: 888662

Support Simulants

UPP: 778883

Officer Simulants (gain +2 on commission rolls)

UPP: 777777

Pilot Simulants

UPP: 788785

Armor Simulants

UPP: 778773

Simulants of a unique or specialized nature may be custom designed, but most simulants in the Federated Navy have a common package of transgenic modifications, which always includes the Wafer Jack and Biomonitor Implant (see above on the Marines). A sample design focus follows:

“The Spacer” Space Combat Specialist:

Neural Comm Radio Link (radio implant)

Adaptation: Vacuum, Radiation, Extreme Cold. The spacer gets a +2 bonus on End checks against such forms of damage. Spacers can resist hard vacuum effects and hold their breath for 3xEnd minutes.

Subdermal Armor: Spacers have 1 point of armor for a nanoweave armored skin.

This simulant was born and bred for the extremes of space; each Spacer is treated with a nano fiber weave in their skin which hardens them to the rigors of outer space; they are capable of holding their breath for great lengths, and have been implanted with a radio link for communication.

All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved