Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Necromancer

I made the Necromancer class for a simple reason - I wanted to use the spells from the Necromancer book that I got for backing Better Than Any Man.
Since this is LotFP and my world is currently being ravaged by the same undead horde that's ravaged many people's worlds at this point, I thought I'd better tie it into Duvan'Ku.

Following the same format as my recent class tweakings - The Necromancer.

Base class: HD, saves and exp track of the Magic user.
Spells: The Necromancer uses a unique spell list and draws his power from the souls of the Dead.
Ritual caster: The necromancer has no limitations on doubling up on spells. However necromancy requires ritual components and offerings to attract, bind and satisfy the souls of the wayward dead.
It is the necromancer’s responsibility to locate and protect their spell components.
Individual components will be tracked with an Ammo die based on amount harvested, carried, and used per spell.
Last Breath: Any spells which raise or control the dead require the dying gasp of a sapient creature. The caster must breathe it in as he casts the spell in order to speak with the voice of the dead. Each Last Breath lasts ten minutes.
Last Breath must be collected at the moment of a creature’s death and is usually stored in glass vials. 
Interrupted Casting: If the necromancer is interrupted while casting they lose the spell and components used as if it was cast. They may save vs WIS to exert their will over the spirits of the dead, if failed a burst of uncontrolled death magic, raw pain and vindictive ghosts deals d4 damage per spell level to the necromancer and all living things within 5’. Plants and small animals in the radius wilt and die. Undead creatures in range are healed by the same amount instead.
Getting more spells: A necromancer may take magic user spellbooks to the Death Cult of Duvan’Ku and lay them at the feet of their dark masters. In return they will be rewarded with necromantic equivalents. This is Bad News for the original owner of the spellbook. Alternatively they may research spells at the normal rates.


Spells come from Darker Paths 1: The Necromancer. If you don't have it, it's pretty cool and probably worth the five bucks.
If you don't have five bucks, Theorums and Thaumaturgy is free and has a necromancer in it but you'll have to make up the ritual casting components yourself.

Ritual Caster is due to the book listing components for all the spells. While initially I was going to strip them out to make it fit better with LotFP I changed my mind.
The annoying thing about spell components usually is you have to work out where to find bat guano or a gem worth 1000gp or whatever, and it's not like you know where those are unless you ask the DM. With these spell components you can get them from one place - dead people.
Forcing Necromancers to ferret through graves for fingerbones and desecrate the recently dead for pints of blood? Yes please!
Even better, they'll be forced to keep a variety of creepy materials on them at all times, which is sure to be a blast if normal people find out.

I'm not sure where I got the idea for Last Breath but it's too awesome even for me to have thought up myself. The central conceit is that the Dead will only heed one who speaks with their voice. This is why Necromancers often come with living followers (they need a sentient creature's Last Breath and body parts for spells) and why a Lich is a scary powerful necromancer (it always speaks with the voice of the Dead.)
It also means people can't try the whole "oh but I will be a good guy necromancer and use zombies as cheap labour in the fields and help everyone" schtick without getting their hands dirty.
Incidentally this is also why Necromancers can Animate Dead from level 3 (they can talk directly to the spirits and placate them with offerings of blood and bone), while Magic Users have to wait until they're level 9 (they have to force the spirits into the bodies and bind them inside with magic, making the resulting undead angrier and less controllable).
A single dose of Last Breath lasts for ten minutes, during which time you can order your minions around and cast spells and all that good stuff. When it runs out your minions will keep doing whatever they were told to do last, so if you want to micromanage your horde you'd better stock up on souls.

Yep, with Interrupted Casting I've got a different gimmick for every caster. Interrupting a Necromancer unleashes a burst of pure death which wilts plants, kills small animals and sucks the life from larger creatures nearby. At least there's no chance of fucking up the world like with the arcane casters, although you yourself may die.
On the Death & Dismemberment table it counts as Cold/Nether damage.

One of the issues with adding another spellbook-based spellcaster is Getting more spells. The classic solution was to make, say, Illusionists and Magic Users have different ways of writing spells in their spellbooks.
That's kind of lame, doesn't fit with my idea of how spells are recorded, and I'm bad enough at remembering to put spellbooks and scrolls in loot as it is without diluting the possibilities for the three classes which share a spell list.
So instead a Necromancer has to bring regular spellbooks and scrolls to the Duvan'Ku somehow (details intentionally left vague) who will exchange them for more appropriate equivalents and do nefarious and unspecified things to the originals.
Of course spell research is fine and works as normal, this just gives Necromancers a way to turn looted spells into something they can use.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Tweaking the Elf

I've been in the Scottish Highlands for the past week and holy shit have I been way understocking my six mile hexes.
More later, for now the Elf.

For later reference, the current list of heartspell abilities and effects is here.


The fey: Every elf was once a human. Each experienced the touch of the Fey Folk as a child, though this experience differs from person to person and elf to elf. 
They never sleep, but every night they cavort and yammer in the moonlight to regain their spells for an hour per level. An elf somehow prevented from doing this does not regain their spells and associated characteristics and benefits.
Moondancers: An elf gains an extra spell slot of any level they are able to cast in the week preceding the new moon and loses a spell slot during the week preceding the full moon.
At the time of the new moon they gain an extra spell slot of every level they are able to cast and vice versa at the time of the full moon.

Each elf is defined by one ofthe first level spells, known as their heartspell. An elf can cast their heartspell in place of any other spell at will. A person who eats an elf's heart gains the ability to cast that spell the dead Elf's level times per day, in addition to any class powers they had already, so long as they spend the night in moonlight. At the New Moon and every night thereafter, the Wild Hunt hunts a heart-eater until they are dead.

Natural magicians:
Elves, like wizards, cannot double up on spells and may flip reversible spells upon casting. They do not need to maintain a spellbook but learning a new spell takes the same time and cost in ritual components as normal.

Interrupted Casting:
If the elf is interrupted while casting a spell they release a Chaos Burst but may pass an INT check to maintain casting.

The more spells an elf has in their head, the more weird and alien abilities and characteristics they exhibit. The abilities and characteristics are defined by their heartspell, and they lose them as they cast their spells. An elf who has cast all their spells is functionally human.

Cold iron:
Cold iron is elf bane. Cold iron is simply iron which is cool to the touch. It gives the elf -2 to hit and damage on any round they were touched by it and makes them unable to cast spells for as many rounds as they have spells prepared.


You might have seen this all before, but it's been a while and the stats say the blog is more popular and I am bad at keeping things up to date once I've posted them and some tweaks have been made since then anyway since I am eternally improving and fiddling with my rules session to session.

Elves are not a society or even truly a race apart from Man, they are the Fey and they are completely fucked up and horrible and scary, both for humanity and themselves. They are the elves of the Wild Hunt and the Faerie Courts, unseemly and Unseelie.
I did this thing here and it has rarely come up but I am pleased with it regardless and presume it will be useful at some point. I wanted to turn Elves from an aggregate Magic-User/Fighter class into something More.
This rule just means that they go off and do elfy things of a night, and that if you have an elf in your party the townsfolk of the local burg might witness strange happenings and signs and become fearful. It also means elves need to be near the surface to regain their powers, and preferably out of sight of town in case someone sees them and suspects. This mechanically nudges the Elf's player to stay in the open wilderness, much like someone playing the Dwarf is nudged underground.
What if you have both in your party? Well hopefully they're always slightly pissy at each other which creates that classic elf/dwarf animosity!

Moondancers was added on a whim, I like the idea that elves are sort of anti-werewolves who disappear in the dark of the new moon to do strange and baneful deeds and I particularly like that an Elf player will have to be aware of the moon's passage. Other players probably wouldn't give a shit but for the Elf the moon's phases are tied into the magic they can cast and their physical features and are thus important.
"Woah dude how or why would you bother tracking moon phases?"
Luckily I'm using the calendar stolen from here and added moon phases so that the last day of the month coincided with the full moon (thirty days per moon cycle because why not) and also changed Fahrenheit to Celsius because the rest of the world has moved on, America, stop being a pouty dick about the metric system.

The deal with the Heartspell is that it ties elves to their spells and makes them have some more differences to magic users. Some of their elf abilities might serve to make their heartspell more effective, others give them sort of passive buffs.
Note in particular that elves don't get cantrips, their powers are powerful yet limited and inflexible.
The thing with eating Elf hearts is to make Elf players wary and to give players who learn about the heart eating a tradeoff between short term power and long term getting-hunted-forever-by-the-faerie-court.
I haven't populated all the heartspell stuff yet. As my players choose the elf class and grow in levels I'll be updating this doc with their creepy powers.

Natural magicians just means that elves don't go around with a spellbook. Books imply learning and rote skill which is not the deal with these elves.
That said, an elf can act as a spellbook for Magic-User spell research purposes if it is willing to teach the wizard, with the implication that this is how humans came to have magic in the first place.

Interrupted casting for Elves is a subtle but notable change to the regular Magic-User. An interrupted magic user always loses the spell but also has to pass an Int check to contain the Chaos Burst. An Elf never contains the Chaos Burst but can pass an Int check to keep on casting, meaning multiple people wailing on a casting Elf might fuck up the general area way more mightily than a Magic User, and still the Elf might still get to cast the spell anyway.

Changeling makes Elves more inhuman and comes with a lot of scared townsfolky baggage. The central tradeoff is between keeping the spells for side-effect ability purposes, and casting them for actual spell effects.
Plus an elf willingly decreasing their power to walk among the humans seems true to theme.

Classically Elves are way allergic to cold iron. This is for that. If you want to capture an elf without risk of reprisal you slap some iron manacles on, and if you want to hunt elves you get a sword of iron rather than steel.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Tweaking the Dwarf

Next we get to the Weirder Shit with the Dwarf. By rights they are king shit in dungeons.


Low light vision: Dwarfish eyes are much like ours, the difference is that they adapt more quickly to changes in brightness and can see in the dark.
They take a single round to adapt to changes in light level and can see in pitch blackness. When seeing in the dark everything is greyscale and fuzzy like when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Dwarf eyes reflect light like a cat’s which might be seen by someone with a light source.
From a land down under: Dwarfs instinctively know the direction they’re facing and sense changes in elevation,  but only when underground.
Natural craftsman: With only simple tools and half a day a dwarf can repair a single Notch on a weapon or armour.
Runesmith: Distance and complexity penalties for powering glyphs are one step less severe.
Lorebonds: Detailed in Secret Santicore2013 vol. 1, pg 23. Every third level a dwarf may choose a new Lorebond which gives them strange and unique powers, but requires a quest and, on completion, an unbreakable taboo or "geas".
Additionally there is a Lore of the Glyphs which boosts rune magic.
1 – You can power glyphs instantly without giving up your actions.
2 – You can draw a complete glyph in a single round.
3 – You can set glyphs to be always on, taking no effort to maintain.


Hey so you know how Race as Class is kind of dumb because there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to have an elf thief or a dwarf cleric? 
Fuck you, buddy. 
The reasons why race as class are in effect are manifold:
 - I have a humanocentric setting and your standard late edition motley crew of various uncommon races in a variety of classes dicking around in the countryside never felt right anyway.
 - You want to be special in multiple ways? Christ man you're already a dwarf and now you want to be a cleric too? You already get badass abilities above the human norm without having to double dip!
 - Race and class being the same means I get to bake strange abilities into different races without worrying about balancing the options.
 - Giving you more than one choice at char gen means the option combinations are too damn high and they guy who loves charop will spend way too long trying to find the ultimate combination of race/class/stats.
 - I want Dwarves and Elves stuff to be so fucking weird and inhuman that there is no way they can fit into the standard class niches. 
- But seriously, fuck character optimisation.   
- etc

 Reasons for things follow.

 Low light vision is because dwarfs live underground. How do we see in the dark? Rods, baby. And what are rods bad at? Visual clarity.
You know when you wake up in the dead of night and your eyes barely adjust to the lack of light and everything is greyscale and blurry? That's how dwarfs see, but they can do it even in pitch black and their eyes adjust quickly. If I wanted to go hardcore I'd make them lack colour vision but that doesn't sound so fun.
It also has some interesting implications for dwarf architecture, deep sculpture has to be either big enough to see in blurred outlines or beautiful by touch. Dwarfs don't do paintings so good because they can't see them very well in the dark, but sculpture is all the rage.
That engraving of cheese might look silly to you in the torchlight, but touch it in darkness and you will feel beauty. 
The thing with the eyes was added on a whim. Eyes glimmering in the depths is a thing miners see or saw, hence kobolds et al, and as elves are night-bogeys and hauntling glisters that haunted our suspicious and paranoid ancestors, the Dwarfs are the strange sights and sounds our (relatively recent) coal-mining ancestors heard in the deep and claustrophobic places beneath the earth.

From a land down under is a cheap joke because all Dwarfs speak in an Australian accent, didn't you know that?
It cements the Dwarf as the Usefulest Guy in dungeons because they live in them and know all sorts of things. Also dwarfs stay underground because they are more comfortable there. Imagine if every time you left the house you lost the ability to hear sounds, you'd stay indoors as much as possible right? That's why dwarfs stay underground.

a handsome dwarf is fine too, but I don't know how this happened

Natural Craftsman is to make dwarfs even more useful in dungeon running. They can fix your stuff pretty easily even when you're off the beaten track. They're good at this stuff.

The Runesmith bit is to make dwarfs cool in another way that isn't so over the top. They're good at runes for Backstory Reasons and some of their Lorebonds (below) interact directly with the glyphs.
While humans and other races can use rune magic, Dwarfs use it better.

Lorebonds are because I asked for them for secret santicore and it is perfect. I fiddled with the actual effects and added a rune-related lorebond. They're also unlocked every three levels, not four.
Changes are here.

Societally, my chief inspiration for Dwarf society is Deep Sounding.