Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Random Table: I wonder what happens if I inject its blood?

#Narcosmos

What's the first thing an adventurous spacer says after defeating the alien?

"I wonder what happens if I inject its blood?"

Roll d30

  1. Die instantly and melt into a puddle of goo. No chance of resurrection, though cloning might work.
  2. Become immortal.
  3. All damage and scars removed. Lost limbs restored.
  4. Suddenly very attracted to and attractive to members of the alien species.
  5. Become mindless slave of the alien race.
  6. Gain telepathy with alien race.
  7. Gain mind control over members of alien race.
  8. Change into an alien in times of stress.
  9. Coma for d6 days.
  10. Coma for d6 months.
  11. Gain 1d4 random psychic powers.
  12. Gain 1d4 random mutations.
  13. Lose psychic powers.
  14. Contract a wasting disease of the GM's choice.
  15. Your blood can cure others. Someone's going to try to get your blood.
  16. You become a vampire.
  17. You become the opposite sex over the next week.
  18. Nothing happens for three months. Then some physical mutation occurs -- scales, feathers, head ridge, wings, tail, whatever.
  19. You crave the strange foods of the alien species.
  20. Your intelligence goes up by 5.
  21. You get very sick for a week, aches, fever, chills, sleepy. Then you never get sick again.
  22. Your skin begins to slough off until you are just exposed muscles. Then it is replaced by scales.
  23. Synesthesia: your five senses are confused for 2d4 days. You see flavors, smell colors, hear touch, feel smells, and taste sounds or some variation. 
  24. Blood turns into acid. Attacked with sharp objects, attacker suffers 1d3 acid damage.
  25. Bad reaction. Your insides turn out. You die horribly in 20 minus CON rounds!
  26. Hemophilia. When damaged, you suffer an extra 1 point per 5 points of damage.
  27. You start to sweat LSD. And you smell like psychedelic drug factory. Someone would want to make you his living drug machine for sure! And look out for those bums trying to lick your skin for a cheap high!
  28. The alien hosted a sentient nanoswarm that now attempts to take control of you body and mind. Save or be assimilated. If you resist, save again or listen to their voices in your head for 1d6 months.
  29. The character turns into a chrysalis. 2d6 weeks later they emerge transformed. Final form is up to GM.
  30. You get a surge of eldritch power and can cast spells as a 8th level magic user/druid/cleric/illusionist for d3 turns.
Thanks to +Thaumiel Nerub and +George Hammond for a few suggestions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rayahlto for Narcosmos

Rayahlto

This planet's exotic atmosphere contains a small amount of sexaphene gas, which is the only known aphrodisiac that affects all known sophont species. Well, all known sophont species except for the Rayahltonians.

The sexaphene gas extraction industry has made the Rayahltonians hyper-rich, to the point where no one needs to work, and they can devote themselves to the austere and ascetic lifestyle full of meditiation and sober discussion over shared hot water. All workers in the sexaphene industry are off-worlders, and all other necessities are imported from off-world, paid for by the obscene profits.

The sexaphene is supplied to many of the drug bars across the sector. It is inhaled, either via pocket inhalator or a party inhalator, similar to a old-Earth-style hooka. It is most popular in the Star-Spangled Realms, where inter-species sex is the cultural norm, as well as in most space stations, where stocking a single aphrodisiac is preferred over needing several drugs to satisfy a wide variety of species.

#Narcosmos

Saturday, November 29, 2014

2015: The Year of Tekumel

The upcoming 40th anniversary of Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) is cause to celebrate; so is the publication of a new Tekumel game, Bethorm. We now have a unique opportunity to win some hearts and minds to the Tekumel universe.

I declare 2015 to be The Year of Tekumel. What I think those who are enthusiastic about Tekumel
should do? Play the Hell out of the games. Do you need me to be more specific?

Regardless of whether you are an old grognard or new to the setting, play at least one game of some form of Tekumel. Find a group nearby and join. Ask your gaming group to try it. Post about it on your blog. Pick up a copy of Bethorm and review it. Buy EPT and run a game. Convince your friends to play Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne. Post your campaign log of Gardasiyal. Post characters from Swords and Glory. Run in your basement. Run online. Run at game stores. Run at cons. Write a little adventure. Post it. Publish it. Write some rules. Post them. Write a conversion to your favorite set of rules. Pick one. Pick ten.

In other words, let's rock this thing!

If you have a Tekumel event, let me know about it and I'll keep a running list of what people are doing in The Year of Tekumel.

-----

To start this off, at Con of the North in February, I've organized a Tekumel Track with 40 hours of Tekumel-related games. One of my games is an old school underworld adventure using my Heroic Age: Tekumel rules. The other game is a wizard duel miniatures boardgame using a simplified form of the Heroic Age rules.


Also, I'm planning on running a monthly game of Heroic Age: Tekumel once Con of the North ends in February.

Andreas Davour is planning his first Tekumel game in 2015, using either Bethorm or Fate.

James Maliszewski has started a new Tekumel fanzine called The Excellent Traveling Volume. The first issue is available now.

Bryan Irving will be starting a new Tekumel campaign using the new Bethorm rules.

-----

To help you along the way, here are some resources:

Stop wringing your hands and start playing! -- a quick and cheap way to get started.

They keep saying there are no Tékumel adventures -- an overview of some sources of Tekumel adventures, including a spreadsheet with most Tekumel adventures listed.

Online Tekumel Community Resources -- a listing of various online resources.

Tékumel Summary -- a two-page intro to Tekumel for cons or new players.

The Tekumel Collection -- My collection of Tekumel resources.





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing a new OSR Game, Part Three: Classes

Part Three: Classes

Many months ago, I took on the challenge of writing a Tekumel game for the OSR. Now as I begin playtesting, I thought I'd share the design process.

Part One: Attributes is here.
Part Two: Skills is here.

In the Part Two, I wrote that what the system lacked was how to emulate the specialization of the classes into combat and magic types, and how to tie skills into the classes.

Classes

Also mentioned in the previous post were the Professional skills for the classes. In EPT, there are three classes: Warrior, Magic User, and Priest. These were translations of the OD&D classes: Fighter, Magic User, and Cleric. The only problem is that the Priest class, able to wield weapons and cast spells, doesn't emulate how things work on Tekumel. The Tsolyani society, where most characters start, is very conservative, and thinks that the proper way things are done is to stick to one thing, whether weapons or magic. Social pressure to not blend them in pretty strong. Once you take weapons away from Priests, then Priests are just Magic Users with a few languages. So I collapsed the Priest class into the Magic User class and stuck with the OD&D name of Fighter for the Warrior. 

When you look at the Professional skills in EPT, you see how Professor Barker tied skills to classes. The Professional skills of the Warrior are all weapons and military knowledge and those of the Magic User are all spells. So looking at the skills, I thought an sensible way to go would be to divide the skills into categories, such as Knowledge or Weapon skills. Then, if I required Fighters to take Weapon skills and prohibited them from taking spells, and if I required Magic Users to take spells and restricted them from taking weapons, the balance of the old classes would remain. 

So, now each class has a preferred set of skill categories, a set of prohibited skill categories, and a set of skills that are restricted in some way. By requiring players to spend half their skill points on preferred skills, a decent selection of skills related to one's class as well as skills to round out the character can be taken. 

I added another class to capture all other character types, borrowing from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, an OSR game based off of the B/X edition of D&D -- the Specialist. This class cannot take spells or much in the way of weapons, but they can take any of the other skills and be expert in them, if they wish. This is where bureaucrats, tomb robbers, clan elders, and other character types come into the mix. This is also useful for priests that don't use magic, such as historians, language experts, and administrators.

A New Class

While reading The Tekumel Sourcebook, I noticed a sentence that lead to a new character class.

"Nobles and the wealthy are welcome to play at learning both sorcery and physical combat if they wish, of course, but it is axiomatic that the dilettante can never achieve the level of the true professional."  -- Swords and Glory, Volume I, The Tekumel Sourcebook, p, 117.

Thus was the Dilettante Class inspired. The rich can afford to hire whatever tutors they want; what they lose is the ability to take Expert level skills in weapons or magic, and they are limited to easy 1-point spells. Their prime requisite is Appearance, since having a coterie of sycophants is perfect for the true Dilettante, and they get a +1 reaction bonus on top of their APP Mod. They can also take the Expert level of social skills and they have access to large sums of money. Just the kind of character to go on well-funded expeditions.

Finishing Off the Classes

Each class also gets a few special abilities to them fill out. Fighters can take extra attacks if they vanquish a foe, and Magic Users can sense magic if they look for it. All classes have a domain special ability when they reach 9th level: a fiefdom for Fighters, a wizard's tower for Magic Users, clan elder or a government post for Specialists, and an inheritance for Dilettantes.

Also, since one of the traditional ways Tekumel has been played is to have all the players start as uncivilized barbarians, so the characters are as clueless about Tsolyani society as new players are. To build tribal barbarians into character creation, each class has a Tribal variant. The Tribal Fighter gets an extra set of exotic weapons to choose from, such as bolas and blowguns, the Tribal Magic User (AKA Shaman) has a few extra spells to choose from, and all the non-preferred skills are taken from a Tribal Support skills group.

So with no further ado, I present the Heroic Age: Tekumel classes.


Fighter Class

Fighters can be legionaries or other military personnel, bodyguards, temple guards, city guards, barbarians, and gladiators. They can wear any armor and wield any weapons they have the skills for.


Fighter Skills

Preferred: Weapon, Soldier, and Military skill groups.
Restricted: Fighters can only take Military skills at Level 5+.
Prohibited: Spell and Spellcaster skill groups.


Fighter Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Fighters gain a +2 on saving throws against poisons and paralysis.
Follow Through: If a fighter defeats an opponent (unconscious or dead), they can take one step and attack again. Warriors can attack as many opponents in one round as their Level.
All-Out Defense: Fighters can fight on the defensive, parrying enemy blows and dodging attacks instead of attacking. When completely on the defensive, the Fighter adds +4 to their AC on all attacks coming their way.
Weapon Master: Fighters can take an Expert skill level in one or more particular weapons, becoming a master of the chosen weapon. This gives the Fighter the option of adding +2 to their attack roll, +2 to their damage roll, or +2 to their Armor Class at the time of combat.
Fiefdom (9th Level): At 9th Level, a Fighter may receive a fief from a king or his clan. They may also gather soldiers and advisors.


Fighter Experience Table

Level
Fighting
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1d8
0-2000
2
2
2d8
2001-4000
3
3
3d8
4001-8000
4
4
4d8
8001-1600
5
5
5d8
16001-32000
6
6
6d8
32001-64000
7
7
7d8
64001-125000
8
8
8d8
125001-250000
9
9
9d8
250001-375,000
10
10
9d8+2
375,001-500,000

Each additional Level requires 125,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +2 per Level.

Tribal Warriors add Tribal Weapon Skills to their Preferred skill groups, but all non-Preferred skills must be from the Tribal Support Skills group.

Magic User Class

Magic Users study magic in all of its forms. They can cast great spells that can heal or kill. Anyone who casts spells is considered a Magic User. 

Magic Users can wear any armor, but casting spells requires freedom of movement. A spellcaster cannot cast spells when carrying a shield or wearing more than leather armor—a maximum AC of 14 before adding the DEX Mod. This does not mean that a Magic User cannot wield a shield, but must remove the shield before any before spell casting commences.

Magic User Skills

Preferred: Spell and Spellcaster skill groups.
Restricted: Magic Users can only take 1-point spells at 1st and 2nd Level, 2-point spells at 3rd and 4th Level, and 3-point spells at Level 5+, and they can only take Spellcaster skills at Level 5+. They can only take Dagger and Staff weapon skills (see Magic User Restrictions below).
Prohibited: Soldier and Military skill groups.

Magic User Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Magic Users gain a +2 on saving throws against spells and magic devices.
Magic Sense: Similar to finding secret doors, spellcasters have a chance of noticing magical auras and spell casting within 10 feet if they spend a turn looking. Roll a d6—a 1-2 result gives the spellcaster general information about the presence of magic or spell casting. To get more detailed information, the spellcaster will need to cast a Detect Magic spell.
Spell Recognition: A Magic User can recognize the gestures and incantations of spells they know from their own school of magic. They also get a spell roll to recognize a similar spell (same base spell) from another school of magic. For instance, an opponent is casting Sparks of the Sun, a customized Magic Missile spell, and the target knows Bumblebee Dart, another Magic Missile spell, so they get a spell roll to recognize what their enemy is casting before the spell is finished, giving them a chance to dispel it.
Spell Master: Spellcasters can take a second level in one or more particular spells, becoming a master of that chosen spell.  This gives the Magic User the option of adding +2 to the spell roll, +2 to the saving throw difficulty, or +2 to the damage roll (for spells that do damage).
Wizard's Tower (9th Level): At 9th Level, a magic user can build a stronghold to contain the necessary libraries and laboratories required by a high Level mage. Such a powerful sorcerer will attract a mixed bag of mercenaries, strange servants (some with odd abilities and deformities from experimentation), and perhaps even a few monsters. In general, such an edifice will encompass a small territory around the tower as well—whatever quantity of wilderness the Magic-User chooses to tame and protect.

Magic User Experience Table                                                                                                                                               

Level
Combat
Level
Spell
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1
1d4
0-2000
2
1
2
2d4
2001-4000
3
1
3
3d4
4001-8000
4
2
4
4d4
8001-16000
5
2
5
5d4
16001-32000
6
2
6
6d4
32001-64000
7
3
7
7d4
64001-125000
8
3
8
8d4
125000-250000
9
3
9
9d4
250001-375000
10
3
9
9d4+1
375001-500000

Each additional Level requires 125,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per Level.

Tribal Shaman must take all non-Preferred skills from the Tribal Support Skills group. They also have access to any special Shaman-only spells.


Dilettante Class

Dilettantes are the scions of the rich and powerful families and clans of very high status. They are rich enough to pay whatever tutors they want, to teach them whatever they want; but dilettantes are dabblers—they never learn anything in depth. The Dilettante is the only class that has access to weapons as well as spells.

Dilettante Skills

Preferred: Weapon, Soldier, Spell, and Social skill groups.
Restricted: Dilettantes can only take 1-point spells.
Prohibited: Military and Spellcaster skill groups.

Dilettante Special Abilities

Reaction Bonus: Dilettantes get a +1 on reaction rolls, due to their social graces.
Resources: The Dilettante has money at their fingertips, provided by their wealthy clans or families. Their servants can buy most anything that can be bought, and they know where to get them -- though the Dilettante is unlikely to know such mundane details. Dilettantes also receive double starting cash.
Social Mastery: Dilettantes can take a second level in one or more particular social skills, thus becoming an expert of the field. This gives the Dilettante a +2 to their skill roll.
Inheritance (9th Level): At 9th Level, a Dilettante may receive a fief or estate from the kingdom or his clan. This will attract sycophants and groupies to the Dilettante—and after that, the party never ends.


Dilettante Experience Table

Level
Combat
Level
Spell
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1
1d6
0-2500
2
1
1
2d6
2501-5000
3
2
2
3d6
5001-10000
4
2
2
4d6
10,001-20000
5
3
3
5d6
20001-40000
6
4
4
7d6
80001-160000
8
4
4
8d6
160000-320000
9
5
5
9d6
320001-480000
10
5
5
9d6+1
480001-640000

Each additional Level requires 160,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per level.

There are no tribal Dilettantes.


Specialist Class

Specialists fill all the other roles within society. Government officials, clan leaders, craftsmen, laborers, thieves, and any other occupation within the empire.

Specialist Skills

Preferred: All skill groups, except Weapon, Soldier, Military, Spell, and Spellcaster.
Restricted: Specialists can take up to two Weapon skills.
Prohibited: Soldier, Military, Spell, and Spellcaster skill groups.

Specialist Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Specialists gain a +2 on saving throws against Breath Weapons and Area Effects.
Skill Mastery: Specialists can take Expert level skills in all categories, except Weapons, Soldier, Military, Spells, or Spellcaster groups.
Clan Elder or Imperial Post (9th Level): At 9th Level, the Specialist can become a clan elder or be granted an Imperial post.

Specialist Experience Level Table

Level
Combat
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1d6
0-1,500
2
1
2d6
1,501-3,000
3
1
3d6
3,001-6,000
4
2
4d6
6,001-12,000
5
2
5d6
12,001-24,000
6
2
6d6
24,001-48,000
7
3
7d6
48,001-100,000
8
3
8d6
100,001-200,000
9
3
9d6
200,001-300,000
10
3
9d6+1
300,001-400,000

Each additional Level requires 100,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per level after level 9.

Tribal Specialists use Tribal Support Skills as their Preferred skill group.