Friday, May 20, 2016

Spirit Binding

A while back, when I was doing that LARP hassle, I toyed around with various magic systems, because standing around reciting the same six phrases of nonsensical gibberish for twenty some spells while waving your hands like a jackass is dumb. One of those systems was a Words of Power. Another one was a Spirit Binding system. This is that one.

The system was separated into three levels: Magna, Prima, Summa. The names are purely fluff, though. Ignore them.

The binding process involved rituals based on levels. First level was simply applying the make-up. Second level was performing a mini, flashy ritual. Third level is where things got fun. For me, at least. More on that later.

The first level involved binding Lesser Spirits, so minor they're Nameless, unto yourself, in order to gain access to skills. Parry, dodge, maybe a resist. Costume props were largely make-up based. Probably some sort of script on the body part related to the skill. The bindings were changeable four times per day: Dawn, Noon, Dusk, and Midnight. If you missed them, you missed them.

The second level involved binding of Known Spirits in order to augment Attributes. Some spirits added to attributes, while taking from others. Some just gave additions. At this level the costume requirements increased to props, with the spirits giving pure bonus requiring more pieces. Horns, weird ears, contacts, maybe a tail. Some roleplay requirements thrown into the mix. This represents the blending of the PC and the Spirit, as the Known Spirits were essentially as strong as the character. The second level bindings were only changeable at two times during the day: Noon and Midnight.

The third level is where things get a bit different. For starters, GM intervention is required. Secondly, a major ritual is performed to summon the creature. Thirdly, success is not guaranteed. Also, purchasing the skills at this level do not give instant ability, only possibility. The ability must be earned. The third level was usable only once per event.

At this point, the character is able to summon  and forming Pacts with Named Spirits. These are major spirits so powerful they have their own True Name. This True Name, along with proper procedures for summoning, sigils to draw, offerings to give and proper incants, must be learned through research and quests. Simply being told the requirements is not sufficient. One must Learn in order to Know. Due to Magic reasons.

The important thing to remember is that rituals require sacrifice. The sacrifices vary from Spirit to Spirit and are permanent. Typical offerings include alcohol, tobacco, props and service time. There are practical reasons for this: It causes the player to take an extra NPC shift for a mod, it adds props to a game that probably needs them and GMs enjoy booze and smokes. These are important bribes when wasting their time.

Summoning in this manner is dangerous and not guaranteed. Any number of factors can stop a spirit from entering the Pact (stepping within the circle): wrong offering, offering to little, offering not of high enough quality, service too trivial, half assery in ritual performance, etc. Yet, should they accept and enter the circle, the spirit will carry out the Pact in earnest.

Before I abandoned the system like I did my first marriage, I figured two groups of Named Spirits - the Knowers and the Wielders.

The Knowers consisted of Knower of Known Knowledge, Knower of Hidden Knowledge, and Knower of Forgotten Knowledge. Their basic jam is to answer questions based on their purview as long as the alcohol and tobacco holds out. Once it does, they leave. They'll answer honestly, and will tell out right if they don't know something.

The Wielders consisted of Wield of the Hammer, Wielder of the Bow, and probably a Wielder of Magic, had I continued. Their deal was the basically serve as an extra fighter for a mod, in exchange for a weapon prop and the player's service for a mod (extra partial NPC shift).

So, yeah, there it is.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mooks and Camping

The Set Up

In order to tell you the next part, I gotta tell you this part. The stated purpose of a homebrew system I'm toying with (until I inevitably get bored with it, and just use the GLOG [by Arnold K.] or Dungeon World) was to cut back on dice rolls, and to make every number important. You took time to write the numbers down, you might as well use them. "Why not FATE?" none of you ask. FATE is good, and has it's place, but I also enjoy some crunch. Reduced dice rolling AND some crunch? Yes, yes. It's about building bridges, damn it.

Either way, one of the ideas was to combine Wisdom and Charisma. Thought behind it was that Charisma is stereotypically a dump stat, and Wisdom is useful to...what, Clerics? Perceptive dudes? So, instead of two numbers laying around doing nothing, jam them into one number doing a few things. That being the Personality stat. That's why you'll occasionally see "Personality (or charisma/wisdom)" in my posts. I should probably make a short hand for this.

Personality (c) - Personality (or charisma depending on system)
Personalty (w) - Personality (or wisdom depending on system)

There. Done. Shut up.

What I'm getting at, is that one of the uses for Personality was to determine how many, and of what quality, hirelings you could have. That being you could have a total rating of mooks equal to your Personality. Got a Personality 12? Then you can have three rating 4 servants, two rating 6 servants, or twelve level 1 shitty servants running around acting as meat shields.

Also being mentioned is "Refresh." Long story short is your Vigor determines your stamina (which is basically your HP). It's effectively your ability to avoid taking lethal damage. It hits zero, you start getting stabbed to death. Quickly.

Stamina is easy to get back; you just rest for eight hours for Vigor modifier + Refresh value's worth of Vigor points restored. However, you can only get the rest needed in camp (or potions), as the dungeons are full of danger, odd sounds, bad smells, and the viscera of the monsters you just killed. Probably ghosts too.

The Pay Off

What follows is a list of mooks, used to do tasks the heroes are far to busy to do. Their primary stats are their Rating and Cost. Typically, the higher their Rating, the better they are at their job, and the more likely they are to stick around should things get violent or weird. Sometimes you just aren't paid enough for this shit. Which brings us to the Cost stat. The hired help ain't here for fun. They're here for that sweet, sweet gold. Some work for a standard rate, others for a percentage. Most mooks won't enter the Dungeon, or even leave camp, unless otherwise noted.

If the camp is attacked, roll a d6 per mook. If you roll their rating or under, they stick around. Minimum Rating is 1. Any special ability with a cost is optional. Whenever a roll is needed on their part, Rating is typically used.

Pack Mule
Rating: 1-5
Cost: Rating x 100 gold per week
Function: Can carry up to 10+Rating of inventory slots. Half rating of quick slots. This is person, not an actual mule.
Special: Paid To Be Here - Will enter the Dungeon, but will not fight
             Strong Back, Weak Mind - +2 inventory slots, +100 cost, -1 Rating

Steward
Rating: 3
Cost: 10% of the treasure or 450 gold per week
Function: Tends to the Camp, making it nice and seeing to general upkeep while their employers are gone. You know, stewarding. Only one Steward may be present in a camp at a time.
Special: Make Things Nice - +2 Refresh
             Managerial Experience - +3 personality to hire additional servants, +150 cost

Cook
Rating: 2
Cost: 200 gold per week
Function: Really? I gotta explain this one?
Special: Stone Soup - A favorite among murder hobos. +1 refresh

Camp Guard
Rating: 4
Cost: 10% of treasure
Function: Watches the camp while PCs do other things. Like sleeping. Not fond of Dungeons.
Special: The Hell is That? - +1 to Rating when attempting to make perception checks
            Death Yell - +5% to cost. Guard is able to give one final yell as he is suddenly Back Stabbed in the night, alerting PCs.

Blacksmith
Rating: 3
Cost: 200 gold per week for retainer plus cost of repairs
Function: Sets up a small forge on the edge of camp. Will repair things for you.
Special: Repair - Will repair things for cost
             Identify Material - Will identify material, if possible. 25 gold per chunk

Alchemist
Rating: 3
Cost: 200 gold per week for retainer plus cost of potion
Function: Sets up a small lab on edge of camp. Will make potions for you.
Special: Alchemy - Will brew potions at cost
              Poison - Able to make a poison if you supply ingredients. +150 to cost.

Lore Master
Rating: 2
Cost: 500 gold per week
Function: Carries a collection of grimoires. Knows some ancient forgotten knowledge.
Special: Read Scroll - Is able to translate ancients scrolls or strange moon language. Unless plot calls for otherwise, of course.
             Identify Item - Able to identify a unique object, mineral, or other thingajig which allows for their usage. Identification takes a while and the cost is variable.

Barber-Chirurgeon
Rating: 2-4
Cost: 750 * Rating gold per week
Function: Knows how to patch bodies back together. Well, most of them. Usually. They can probably fake it.
Special: Pretty Sure I Can Keep You Alive - Through their expert care, time to heal lethal wounds is quickened by Rating. Refresh is also increased by Rating.
             Shave and Haircut - 2 gold

Dog
Rating: 1-3
Cost: Rating * 500 gold out right
Function: It's a dog. It does dog things. While it understands some basic commands, a handle animal test would be needed to get it to do fancier things. Only 1 is keep-able by PC, unless class features over rule this. Will enter Dungeons.
Special: Who's a Good Boy? - Treated as having Rating 6 for Run Away rolls. As in don't bother rolling. It stays. Unless maltreated in some way.
             Tracking - Dog is able to track things occassionally, if given a proper scent to follow. +1000 to cost. What does the dog do with all this gold? I don't know. Dog things.

Skald
Rating: 1-4
Cost: Rating * 200 gold per week
Function: Tells tales, sings songs, plays pipes. Knows some history. Will record deeds of PCs and make their own songs and epics based on them.
Special: Play It Again - +Rating Refresh


More Refresh Jams

Equipment, too, can add to Refresh rates. Keep in mind, however, enough camp equipment will require wagons.


  • Basic Adventure Tent: +0 to Refresh. Rolls up with bed roll for easy carrying. Sort of like a pup tent
    • Really nice tent: +1 to Refresh. Thicker fabric, water proof, stronger frame. 
    • Great Tent: +2 to Refresh. Strong carved A-Frame. Tall enough to stand up in. Requires Wagon
  • Basic Ground Roll: +0 to Refresh. Rolls up with basic tent for easy carrying.
    • Really nice cot: +1 to Refresh. Gets you off the ground. Has some furs on it.
    • Great Bed: +2 to Refresh. Nice, strong bed. Plenty of warm furs. Requires Wagon to carry. 
  • Adventuring Coffee: +.5 to Refresh. Gets you going. 
    • Strong Ale: +1 to Refresh. Does add to Drunk rate. 
    • Whisky: +1.5 to Refresh. Good old sipping whisky. Good for post adventuring. 
The basic thought behind "Refresh" is that the camp scene is nice and suitable for resting, unlike the Dungeon. Anything that would help with that would probably add to a Refresh rate. 

Hell, while I'm thinking of it:

Wagon
Has Ten Wagon Inventory slots. While a backpack also has ten inventory slots, 1 backpack takes up 1 wagon slot. Requires a beast of burden to pull. A person also takes up one slot (driver and one passenger not included) 

Covered Wagon
Has Four Wagon Inventory slots, but also functions as a Great Tent and can hold a Great Bed without set up/break down. Allowing for faster breaking of camp. 


Wagon Driver
Rating: 3
Cost: 500 gold per week
Function: Drives the wagon, takes care of the Beasts.
Special: Gopher - +2 rating, +100 gold to cost. Can be sent out for resupply or deliver messages if a town or village is close enough. Requires payment for supplies up front. Potentially vulnerable to attacks. Would be wise to send at least 1 guard. 
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Of the Dwarrows

In the Beginning

In the Beginning, there were the Forge Fires of the Maker, deep within the earth, from which the Dwarrows crawled. They remain still, even to this day, however they are currently in the hands of the Duegar. But I digress, more on this later. Given form by the Fires, and breath by the Bellows, the Dwarves are natural craftsmen, especially when it comes to stone. Iron marbles their bones and traces of silver can be found in their eyes, should you know an alchemist with a loose ethical code willing to boil them down.

For time countless, the dwarrows lived around the Forge Fires, deep underground. They mined, crafted, worshiped, and fermented strange molds all in the vague glows of the lava flows. Their tunnels grew ever outward, downward, and upward. Grand halls were - and are still - carved from solid rock. Mighty metropolises decorated in intricate patterns, and statuary of kings and civic heroes past, were born forth from the earth. Underground rivers were charted and redirected. All these in the search for precious and useful metals. In these times the Tenets of the Maker (which teach the importants of Community, Hearth and Forge) were held to by all, and used to protect against the strange things, often found in the deep dark.

In the abscense of the sun, time worked different. Days were based around the bioluminescence of the algae blooms found within the caves. An average dwarf day lasted about 30 hours, and was divided evenly into three separate time periods, or "shifts." These were further broken down into , , and "swings" (roughly three seconds)

Dwarven society was, at this time. divided in to a class system - the name in their tongue roughly translates to "strata" in ours - which gave priority to the Priests and the wealthy. Some modern dwarrows will cluck their teeth at this system, but none will dismiss it. One should never deny the usefulness of a tool.

Things, in short, were Nice. And then, they got Fucked.

You see, the Dwarfs have a legend of "Ragnarok" - literally "Day of No Rock" - a day in which the world runs out of rock to mine. For a race that has spent their existence completely within the stones of the earth, such a time would unthinkable. Such a time would be catastrophic.

So you can imagine what happened when they reached the surface.

Panic swept through the Tunnels, as the discovery quickly turned to gossip, which only fueled the flames. As many marriage oaths were "until the gold runs out" (an unthinkable event used for poetic device), were the bounds still valid? Some claimed when the surface was broken, the miners fell up. Other reported a ball of fire, watching the world. Judging. These couldn't be true, others said. But, true or not, this Mass of Nothing could only be one thing: The marking of the end of days.

Suggesting Ragnarok was upon them, for sins unknown, the Priests of the Maker claimed the only way to repent was to return to the Forge Fires, deep within the earth. To shun the light appearing from high above, and embrace the comfortable darkness below. And so, with the wealthier class, they left to find the ancient homelands of the dwarrows. In time, they became the Deugar.

With their primary bastions of leadership gone, the dwarrows did what any dwarf does when aurthority is abscent, but there's plenty of booze: They fought. Wars broke out among the populous, with aligences shifting quickly. It wasn't uncommon to see two combatants fighting against on another in the morning, but side by side come kelpset.

Dwarf society crumpled and burned to ash. But, as with iron, ashes make the material stronger. From the chaos one dwarf drew forth order: Therdren Ironsoul, who first laid out the Nine Virtues of Dwarven Kind, banished the caste system of old and became the first King. These Virtues were applied as addendums to the Maker's Teachings.
  1. Strength - The arm that swings the Hammer, forges the strongest Sword
  2. Courage - Back not away from Challange
  3. Hospitality - Give succor to those in Need
  4. Honor - Disgracing yourself Disgraces your Fathers
  5. Freedom - Give in to no Bounds, for with them goes your Spirit
  6. Kinship - Stand with your Brothers, in Joy and Sorrow
  7. Industriousness - Strive to perfect your Craft always
  8. Ancestry - Remember from Where you came
  9. Self Reliance - Rely only upon Yourself, so others may rely upon You
Iron Maidens

The first to carry the Words of Ironsoul were his daughters. Through them the dwarves were taught to honor King Therdren, but stressed that worshiping him was false. Over the centuries, it become customary for clerics to be strictly female and remain maidens as the original Daughters did. (Ironsoul's numerous sons were more than enough to continue the blood line) From this they take their name: The Iron Maidens. In keeping with strict tradition and ancestry, modern Iron Maidens do not shave their beards, as some female dwarrows have taken to doing - the bare chin a fashion gleaned from Human females.

Spheres

While dwarven architecture and sculpting hold to block aesthetics, with natural curves where appropriate, the dwarrows hold the sphere as a perfect - even holy - shape. After all, any apprentice can form a perfect cube with a bit of chipping and sanding, but it takes true concentration and patience to achieve a recognizable sphere, and, it is thought, only the Maker could craft a perfect sphere; all others containing an unseeable flaw by the nature of mortality. For the dwarves - especially the Iron Maidens - the crafting of spheres from various materials is used as a form of mediation. In fact, all (read: those not above the surface) sites of worship are grand caverns carved into a perfect sphere. The purpose of this is many fold: 1) It reminds the carvers that they craft in the name of the Maker, 2) It helps center the minds of those who worship, and 3) The reverberations offered by the shape.

Dwarven worship is perhaps some of the most solemn in nature, yet also the most passionate. Outsiders who have witnessed the rituals, though rare they be, have often been brought to tears as the words of reverence, in the form of Gregorian style chants, echo in the eternal night of the underground. These chants, empowered by the reverberation of the spherical chambers, echo through out the mines and underground kingdoms. Even after the schism, both factions hold chanting as an important form of ritual, even if their views wildly differ.

The Surface

While some descended back into the earth and some remained in their traditional homes, there were some who eagerly sought to explore the strange new world of the surface. And they were rewarded for their curiosity, for they soon encountered Humans and, in turn, gained a strange magic: the ability to turn items of trivial craft into Gold. Humans, as the strange, tall creatures of the surface called themselves, turned out to be friendlier than the dark creatures encountered in the "wilds" of the subterranean. Well, for the most part. -Ish. Either way, the important thing is, they had gold of their own, and seemed all too eager to give it up for dwarven crafts. Even those made by lowly apprentices.

Slowly, but surely, the dwarrows that took to the surface integrated into human society, sharing their culture with the humans, and taking some of the human customs as their own. Today, many a young dwarf can be found in human cities performing odd jobs, running shops of various sorts, selling grilled rats on sticks, and even adventuring; typically sending a portion of their wages back home to their families.

Tools

Obviously, dwarrows are known for their tool usage. They're skilled in a wide variety of crafts, and therefore need a plethora of varied and specialized tools. What is little known, out side of dwarrow culture, is that a tool is an intimate item to a dwarf, much the same way a toothbrush or sex toy is to a human. A dwarf would not think to lend, or even ask to barrow, a tool from another, unless courtship rituals have been completed, and bonds of marriage have been planned out. If a dwarf needs a tool, they use their own, or none at all. Dwarrow view the liberal tool lending of humans as a form of deviancy, and teach their city bound children to stay away from such habits.

Dwarrow Stats

  • Strength must be higher than Dexterity
  • Have traditional low light vision
  • Because of the iron lacing their bones, dwarrows are resistant to magic
  • Dwarrows gain a reduction to fire damage equal to their smithing profession skills (if any)
  • Having shorter legs, they lose 10 feet to their movement; and due to their density are treated as having fallen 10 feet further
  • Can use their beard as an item slot for jewelry (rings, talismans, etc) 
  • Anvil Chorus: Once per day, while working with their tools and singing songs of virtue, a dwarf of Personality (or Wisdom 13 or higher may temperately improve the functionality of a device in some way.  

Duegar


Giving in to self-excile after the discovery of the Surface, the Priests and Upper classes retreated into the depths of the earth, seeking out the primordial Forge Fires of old. And so they found them, miles and miles and miles down. So too did they find the mythical First City, though most of it and its wonders were partially consumed by the Forge Fires. The city slowly sinks, the lower layer slowly melting away, but the Duegar build on, upper portions holding the lower sections in place.

Alone down there, in the deep dark, with nothing by out dated beliefs and bellies full of anger and hatred, the Duegar turned into vile, awful creatures. The caste system was reinforced, with many being forced into slavery and servitude. Slaves too, were taken from the monsters that dwelled within the "wilds" of the deep, where before they were killed outright. And so, in the centuries since, they become the cruel masters of the Deep Dark.


  • As with the Dwarrow, so too with the Duegar, save for the Anvil Chorus
  • Having grown accustom to the dim light of the Forge Fires, Duegar must save vs. blind when encountering a light source. They do have dark vision, however. Which is nice.
  • Voice of Command: Once per day, a Duegar of Personality (or charisma) 13 or higher may attempt to Command a creature of the Deep Down. Many of the monsters down there have been bred as slaves at one point or another. There is a chance the feral beast may remember its true masters. 


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