Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Non-skilled modifier

We never really covered this in the rule book, but it has come up from time to time. What happens if a character with Melee 2 [Swords 3 (Long Sword 4)] picks up a sword-style weapon that he has never experienced before? Well, if he really has no knowledge of this weapon, he would suffer the non-skilled modifier, but since it is a sword, he still gets the MEL and SWD group skills. Huh? Yep - If a knight who has practiced with only straight edged weapons his whole life picks up a curved scimitar on the battlefield, he would have +10 (MEL) +15 (SWD) -15 (non-skilled) for a net +10. Now, give him a couple hours to practice with it and that modifier might go away.
So, is this just another chance for GMs to mess with their players? No. It is intended to stop standard soldiers from picking up exotic weapons and using them as though they were born with one in their crib. Furthermore, hopefully it never happens, but a medieval knight should not be able to pick up a light saber and use it with skill. He’d fumble around with it, maybe finding a way to use it as a sword, but definitely not look like a Jedi. With such an extremely different weapon, it might take a few days of training for him to lose his non-skilled modifier. Anyway - some things are beyond the scope of group skills until the character actually encounters them and recognizes them as something familiar. (If the knight can’t figure out how to turn the light saber on, it really doesn’t matter what he might be able to do with it.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Other Quests (part 2)

OK - it’s hard enough to come up with your own missions, so what do you do for the guys you don’t even care about? Give them the boring stuff. If 5,000 zombies are wandering the countryside and need to be put down - send your players against the necromancers and other NPC adventurers against the zombies. If a volcano erupts and shows the entrance to the dimension of fire, your players will not be the only ones to notice. Others will be racing them to acquire whatever treasures are in the plane of fire. Tapped for ideas? Use idea supplements like Spark of Imagination. No, that’s not a shameless plug - use whatever aids your want to. Remember - the other adventurers do not need to be as challenged mentally as your actual players. They also don’t need as much game balance. If it works for them to fight orcs and come away with a magical hoard of weapons - go for it!
The point here is two fold - the world cannot stand still while your players advance in levels. The world really does not revolve around them, and they shouldn’t be the most important people in the world, even if they did save it from destruction. The other side is the other side (meaning the other side of the conflict). If your players are good guys, then the bad guys will want to be gaining ground too. If your players are bad guys, then the good guys will want to rally the troops against them.
Maybe the gods want to get involved too. After all, if your players are slaughtering dragons across the planet in order to make things “safe” for humanity, shouldn’t the dragon gods get a little peeved? Wouldn’t they send their dragon champion on a quest to find the Heart of Dragonkind, a mystical amulet that allows the dragon champion to never be harmed in battle?
How does this play out? Well it could play out in a number of ways. The party could be back from killing the necromancer in a hidden tomb somewhere and learn that the two parties who were out chopping zombies to bits are the ones hailed as heroes, because they were the ones that the peasants saw protecting them. Or the party could spend three years saving village after village on the border, while another raided the tomb of a lich and returned with really powerful magic items. Or they could all just get along - comrades in arms, knowing everyone was doing their parts. When the final battle comes, your party might feel it is vitally necessary to protect the other party’s mage because he is the one wielding the wand of sunlight which destroys all undead. They might also see the evil high priest who sacrificed that one noble girl before they could save her and really want to get their revenge. Maybe we’re just making the point for permanent allies as well as the permanent enemies we advise in our books. Yeah - I guess we are.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Other Quests

Have you ever thought about other people’s quests? You know all those other adventurers and what they are doing for a living. Did you think that your party was the only group willing to risk their necks for huge rewards? What are all those other guys doing for a living?
Who cares, right? Well, it can really work into the plot devices, plus it just makes sense. If your adventurers are questing to find the long lost trident of Ebeneezer in order to calm the seas and enable their nation to invade another, that other nation should be questing to find the diamond shield of Fazzbrin in order to blind all the ships at sea before they can invade. Or at least points to that order. What if you don’t do this? Well, then your players’ side is the only one with fantastic stuff and they win every single time because everyone else is simply boring. Does it matter to the adventurers? Yep! How? Here’s an example:
OK, so the only way to defeat the evil lord is to chuck his ring into the fiery volcano, so the main quest line is about a bunch of civilians trying to accomplish that task. If the other side had simply sat still, this would not have been that tough a mission. The big bad guy instead chose his nine best guys and gave them missions - go get that ring. They did not all work together - they spread out in smaller groups and homed in on it. That’s why it took three books instead of just one - both sides were questing for the same thing.
OK, here’s a less epic example: The evil god is trying to weaken the nation’s government, while the good god is trying to preserve it. The bad guy sends relatively minor monsters against the provincial territories, luring the army and the adventurers out of the capital city to battle the monsters. That’s good adventuring stuff, right? There are packs of giant wolves invading the borderlands, let’s go kill them! Then the good gods reveal the locations of some cool legendary magic items in order to keep the heroes alive, of course they’re hidden in crypts filled with undead, but that’s good adventuring too. Then the evil guys start causing civil unrest in the capital, but all the military types are out in the field fighting monster distractions. The nation needs to split its forces, making the borderlands that much more dangerous. By the time this quest chain reaches its conclusion and the forces of evil are attacking the capital in force, the good players have fought monsters, recovered treasures, dealt with evil cults in the capital and saved young noble girls from being sacrificed. Meanwhile their allies have also been fighting monsters, and might have learned new strategies or even invented new equipment (dragon scale armor, manticore tail spears, naga poisoned arrows, etc). Also, the bad guys have been granted more magical powers for every noble girl they did sacrifice (every time the party either failed or failed to act). They have also learned how the adventurers attack, and taken actions to defend themselves. If your party’s main mage is always throwing fireballs around, the bad guys who have been working against them for the last two years will be wearing rings of fire resistance.
(to be continued)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blogging etc

OK - So I think we can still say that we’re new to blogging. There are a lot of blogs out there, and not all of them are pretty. By pretty, I mean civil, polite, acceptable in a cultured society. We think ours is, and we hope to keep it there. So what? (We come back to that question a lot!) We’re trying to encourage comments (though obviously not going about it the right way). But we want comments like: That is so cool! You guys are gods! I play your game and it’s the best! We’d also like to see comments like: Dude, why are halflings so weak? Can my dwarf use a 9’ sword? When are you going to come out with a super hero game?
If you want to leave a comment like: Learn to spell, moron! We’d prefer you emailed that to us at, and didn’t leave it in the comments section. We’ll take action! Seriously, it’s not that someone sent us a comment like that. I noticed one on another blog and really struck me as something we just don’t want. Other than that - leave comments!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Invisibility - Rule Clarification

I think we’ve put this out before, but it bears restating. There is a difference between “magical” and “mental” invisibility. (Mental invisibility is most commonly delivered through the overimage proficiency.) In magical invisibility, the subject is no longer visible to the human eye. It is a completely visual thing. If you spread flour all over an invisible creature, the flour will come to rest on them and the outline of the invisible person will be revealed. With mental invisibility, the presence of the person is removed from the mind of the viewer. No amount of trickery will reveal the invisible creature, even if the target (victim) of the proficiency is aware that an invisible creature is there. Oh they can swing heir weapon around randomly trying to strike the mentalist, but they won’t even see the blood if they happen to get lucky. I think the best way to think about it is that magic removes the person from the target’s sight, while the mentalist removes the person from the target’s mind. Oh, and yes, this means that mentally invisible creatures can swim without being detected and avoid being detected by people with really good senses of smell or hearing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Possible faith insults

It occurred to me that in some of my discussions of divine intervention (mainly in books and articles, not necessarily in this blog), I have said things along the lines of “it is easier to have faith in a god that takes an active role in your life”. Wow - That’s really insensitive, and I’m not a politically correct sort of a person. What I meant to say was, “It is easy to have faith in a god where his/her priests can produce miraculous effects on demand.” Depending on your faith you could easily see the hand of the divine in a sunrise. I see it in the miracle of an egg and a sperm forming a baby, and that happens every day. So if I’ve insulted anyone I’m sorry. I do truly mean to put emphasis on the fact that fantasy worlds allow some people to control the gods in physically visible ways.
On the other side of the coin, don’t forget that many of the people of a fantasy world would see their gods in the rain, the sun, the fact that fires burn, etc. Call them superstitious if you want to or decide exactly what type of force is needed to cause the rain. (elementals? divine servants? two pressure systems interacting? a mix of all three?) With Book of Wishes, we introduced regional elementals. Under that style of system, every river, every breeze, every mountain has a regional elemental controlling it. Earthquakes are caused by massively powerful earth elementals shifting position (the regional elementals that have some control over the plate tectonics). Think about it, the Greeks had a god for every wind and all manner of nymphs and nereids.
So if you see the divine in every tree and flower, you are not alone, and I never meant to question you!