Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Crepuscolare Tribe

The Crepuscolare, a name which roughly translates as "Tribe of the Twilight Storm" are a tribe of nomadic halfling "barbarians" whose home territory extends across much of the Grey Mountain range. These nomads travel South each year to worship their nameless storm god under the powerful storms which form when the sea winds get caught in the southern most cliffs of the mountain range. A common coming of age ceremony for young Crepuscolae warriors is to stand atop a cliff and scream their rage at the storm in hopes that it hears them and rages back. Being struck by lightning is considered a great honor among the tribes people and a sign of divine blessing. Only those who have been blessed by lightning may become shamans and bear the mantle of leadership. (Scholars note that this shamanic order does not appear to have any policies regarding gender, and that the Crepuscolare don't seem to favor one over the other in the role, however it is noted that the role seems to involve quite a few tasks which Quayan society would consider "Matriarchal Duties" which are performed by the shamanic order. More research has been planned but never carried out)


Every 20 years or so there is a massive week long nonstop storm that rages through the Grey Mountains. While it is dangerous it is said that the rains wash away the psychological debris that builds up around sentient creatures. In essence the storm clears away the latent negative energies that human (and demi human) emotion leaves in the space between the Material Plane and the Spiritual World.

The Crepuscolare myths about this storm tell of grave outcomes if the storm does not rage through the region. This is the primary sacred duty of the shamanic order, ensuring that the Storm of Cleansing rages hard enough, and long enough to cleanse the mountains while also protecting their people from the storm and leading emotional cleansing rituals to help their kin release pent up negative emotions through a great week long festival of wardancing, feasts, and music. Whole tribes play concerts to the storm, dozens of rain sticks shaken by children and old folk alike, great drums boom out in response to each clap of thunder, wood flutes harmonizing with the whistling wind. It is through these rituals and the story tellers who speak at these great concerts (often as many as 100 halflings can be involved in major gatherings) that the histories of the tribe is passed along.

It is believed that if the Storm of Cleansing does not rage for at least 6 nights then the mountains will begin to twist under the weight of the negative emotional baggage, growing aggressive and dark. Trees that have stood a hundred years will grow a hatred for sapience overnight (the process takes weeks, but it feels like overnight to a tree) Creatures grow wicked and cruel while the folks who live in the mountains are wracked with deep anxiety. It is also believed that if the storm rages for exactly 13 nights then the people of the mountains must follow the storm where they will confront a grave threat to their continued existence. This was exploited 7 cycles (about 150 years) ago by an unknown mage who rallied the tribes against the nearby city of Salendar where they laid seige to the city with storm magic and were eventually driven away (at great loss of life and mutual loathing) by a group of adventurers leading the town militia on a counter attack. Both the tribes folk and the people of Salendar carry lingering resentment about this event.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Agate Town

Agate Town 

Named for the old vein of robust orange and red agate which lays beneath the rock of the harbor, Agate Town trades primarily in giant oysters and hardstone crafts, typically cut from agate, tho the craftsmen of the town are capable of creating practical and art objects from other semi-precious stones (jade, onyxjasperserpentine, etc)

The bay is deep enough for all but the largest types of sea going vessels and acts as one of the two major ports of Quaya. Because of the large sea walls and placid bay currents Agate Town is a preferred port for sailors seeking shelter from storms and is more active during the summer when the pass through the mountains allow trade caravans to carry goods directly to and from the Capital (Salendar) while the Tsankupi river is often too low for anything heavier or deeper than a barge in Summer.  During the winter months, it's little more than a stopping point before Travelers make the journey to Falador.


The docks are old here, creaking planks, slick with brine. Inexperienced sailors have been known to slip and fall into the harbor.  Massive clams, sometimes 3 feet across can be found in the sands and tide pools nearby, and one of the major exports of the town, besides its name sake, is oyster meat. Despite it's age, the town is not the first or only settlement in this place, and the ancient aquatic denizens of this place are deeply resentful of the humanoid encroachment on their traditional home. 


Oyster Folk: The Ostreidae


The Ostreidae (Oh-Stray-Dye) are thick stone like shelled folk with squishy grey flesh and mucous within their thick armored shells. While well armored they peek from a opening in their shell but will seal themselves if threatened. Some have bristly hair like cilia that move tiny marine plankton into their mouths. Tho their bodies and faces are heavily armored, while using their thick muscular limbs they have to extend them outside their shells to act as arms and legs. Some have quite colorful flesh but most are a green-grey, scholars have yet to understand what causes these color differences, tho some claim that it distinguishes royalty while others say it's a religious or even warrior caste differentiation. 

Typically shy and peaceful humans have killed the Ostreidae for millennia as food, for pearls or to harvest their shells. Oyster folk are wary and suspicious, especially of humans and will often retreat within their shells at the first sign of a human and hope to be left alone. Humans often kill and eat their children unaware they are in fact humanoid and intelligent. The Ostreidae have often aided other marine races in their wars against humans as they are easily convinced of the dangers of the hairless ape menace. They often dwell in reef villages living simple lives in coral huts, gathering small crustaceans and cultivating seaweed farms. They are larger than their tiny kin mollusk kin and need more substantial food. But they will often wallow in rock pools, filter feeding if they cant do better. Oyster folk who get trapped in tidal pools who can't escape on the next high tide often starve to death. 

They can be hard to see among marine rocks, as many have barnacles and weed or algae growing on them. Occasionally some are able to get along with humans but they are melancholic curmudgeons. They often use shells of fallen kin as shields or to make weapons. These are brittle but sharp and might incorporate driftwood hafts. Such weapons also blend with marine matter on coasts. 


NPCs -- 

Gunther Grubson the Dock Manager; 
An old man with a bitter temper and a grumpy attitude. His vision has degraded badly in his old age and he can no longer read. He will often tack additional "taxes" onto the mooring fees of people who irritate him. His beloved daughter Mia is the only person who can reason with him. 

Mia Grubs;
Mia is a caring woman in her late 20s with long blonde hair, who tends to take things at face value. She works the docks as her fathers assistant, but is also the local message and mail office.  She secretly worships Simurgh, the Queen of Birds, who is Thirty Birds, keeping a small shrine at the end of the docks where she frequently feeds the seagulls and ravens which roost in the cliffs. 

Analeth the 'Retired' Slaver;
A half elf with sun burnt skin and red hair. He acts tough but is quite cowardly in the end. He keeps a number of ruffians and dockhands well payed to act as his personal muscle. Quaya outlawed slavery near the end of the last mage wars around 60 years ago, and Analeth claims to have retired since then. 

Benevolence Drake, Bodyguard and Cutthroat; 
Benevolence is a woman in her mid 30s and the head of Analeths security detail and is seldom seen without her signature bronze pointed spear. She has short cropped black hair that's shaved on the left side and harsh green eyes. Her white skin is marred with visible scars and her tall and muscular build is intimidating to most, even from a distance, but she has a soft and attractive face. She quietly worships Istishia, Goddess of water, purification, and destiny and can often be seen praying near tide pools or on the sea cliffs. 

Saranel Caresta, Elven Captain;
Captain Caresta is, or at least claims to be, nearly 200 years old. He claims to have repaired his ship so often in it's near 100 years of service that not one nail or board of the original vessel remains. Lately however, he's been hesitant to go out to sea. His crew have all left for other ships and he sits in the local tavern drinking wine and telling boisterous stories of his adventures on the high seas. Whenever pressed about his plans for the future he grows moody and sour. His ship still sits in the bay, and he pays Gunther weekly, each week claiming he'll be gone again come Friday. It's been 6 months now. 

Atub Wolfripper, Orcish Sea Witch; 
Atub is an old orc, though no one is certain how old. She lives alone at the edge of town and bothers the townsfolk for little. Instead preferring to forage, even in her old age, for what supplies she may need. She's a clever old woman and the townsfolk claim she's some sort of orcish sea witch. She speaks to the ocean at length, or at least, speaks to it more than she speaks to any of the townsfolk. They often seek her advice when they're at the end of their rope, hoping for some form of magical aid no doubt, but she usually turns them down. The few she has helped will speak nothing of it. 







Monday, October 1, 2018

Session One, A Scene at The Crossroads

THE CAST SO FAR- 

Viserial - Viserial was the chosen of a deity, or so he thought, or perhaps it just wasn't the deity he had thought it was, wished perhaps. He'd spent a lifetime in that darkness, but he had lifetimes to spare. He had found ways to harness the darkness that pressed in around him, it gave him a cloak to hide beneath, and the means to find his way back to the surface, but Viserial could feel the pull of destiny still upon him, and it's touch was chilling. He fled from anything that had the smallest whiff of fate upon it, like Jonah in the whale, hiding from... well their name didn't really matter.


Ramunth the Drifter - A weathered sack of leather, this old hermit spent most of the last 40 years marooned, more or less alone on an island. He's now the fervent last worshiper of the ancient storm god Baarl. A generally ornery piece of shit who tends to get himself into trouble. 

Sköll - Not long ago something happened. He wasn't sure what, or why, or why he knew, but Sköll knew, like one knows when their arm is numb. A profound sense of emptiness, of loss. Something was missing, his brother, he couldn't remember though, everything before a few weeks ago was a blur. He needed answers, and he knew he would have to search long to find them, and maybe, his brother. 

Side Characters Encountered -

Kim Longflower - An elven herbalist who dabbles in potion magics. She was travelling north east, towards the elven forests of her homeland. A refugee after the township she watched over turned on her in the night. She had cured 3 generations of families of all manner of illness, but when the mage war started it wasn't long until the local farm folk began to look at her with fear and anger. She had fled with the help of a young man who payed for his kindness with his life. She has been on the run now for weeks and has long since run out of food. In a fit of hunger she tried to sell an herbal infusion which would cure most diseases (think semi-magic EmergenC powder) in a village to a man whose wife had a severe fever. She had only been trying to help, but the man ran to fetch a nearby soldier who had arrested her as a witch, and charged her with bewitching and cursing the mans wife, and trying to sell him a cure. She proclaimed her innocence, but the man asked her if the potion was magic, to which she replied earnestly that it was a very simple magical enhancement, that it wasn't in anyway dangerous.
She was sentenced to death as a mob began to form, no one wanted to look like they weren't defending the community from this traveling hex witch. She was dragged to the cross roads, where the bodies of a number of other mages, each of them executed in similar fashions, were hanging from thick posts by their necks.

It was here that our brave band intervened. Through the crude negotiations of Ramunth and the posturing of Skoll, the party managed to get the herbalist released to them, on the pretext that her tongue be cut out by Viserial if she were to live. Viserial had other plans, weaving a cloak of darkness that blocked the sun for a hundred feet in every direction. With the mob thrown into fear and confusion the group made their break for it. 

The group followed the road when it became clear no one was following, but their travelling party includded a child and an elderly couple, so shelter was needed overnight. Viserial searched the nearby hills in vain for a suitable cave to shelter in together. The group trudged on, a light in the distance beckoning them northward along the road. After several hours of trudging along the muddied track they found a small, almost fort like, abbey, dedicated to a fiery Sun god. There was a great bonfire atop the stone roof and torches and lamps in many windows.

Garkn Thinbeard - Despite the many torches and bright fires, the dwarf who answered the door at this abbey did so in his night gown, after some preliminary questions, and realizing that bandits seldom send 3 elderly folk and a young woman to the door the Garkn let the band in. Viserial, visibly uncomfortable as he stepped over the threshold seemed to fly beneath the sun clerics radar, but Viserial noted silently that this cleric, dressed in his night gown true, had no holy symbol on him.
Their host offered two beds upstairs to the elderly couple and Kim the elven herbalist, then explained he had much to do in the morning and would need to retire soon. Perhaps if you are in no great hurry he can get your assistance with a troublesome task on the morrow. 

From here 

The party has options 
    • Pursue the Quest that Garkn needs help with
    • Travel Northeast with Kim toward the Ruins of Trystero, or perhaps convince her to pursue a safer path which skirts around the ruins. 
    • Travel Due East, to Salendar, the last city of Quaya, stopping for supplies at villages along the way. 
    • Continue North, eventually you'll pass into the warm hills, the dwarves are less mage phobic than these humans. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Underdark Part 2.0 - Pillars of Play Part 1 - Exploration Procedures, Hunger Mechanics

Before I begin I just want to credit Hack Slash Master, who wrote much of the Pillars of Play in an amazing publication title Mega Dungeon #1, the first in what is now three very solid and useful tools that are designed less as shiny stories or inspiration porn and more as useful tools to help a game master run a table effectively.

Go read his shit, n buy some of his material, it's super dope.

The hunger mechanics are reworded and lifted from Veins of the Earth, a grimdark OSR setting manual that I'm currently in love with. The discussion in the previous post about light as a currency was heavily inspired by that book and I highly recommend buying it because it will blow your mind.

PILLARS OF MEGADUNGEON PLAY 
The core procedural aspects of our Megadungeon play are going to be split into three-ish primary components; Exploration, which will happen at two different levels, (to be discussed later) Encounters, and Extraction. Each of these happens at different levels of scope and consume different levels of resources as well as invoking different kinds of decisions and dilemmas. 

Today I wanna talk about

Exploration 

(And Hunger)
This is the process of exploring the environment. Far from being a movement across simple grid aligned rooms, this will be a delving through organic spaces, many alien and difficult to navigate. Safety and preparedness must be weighed against ever-mounting resource drain, in the form of food and light and hitpoints. 

The points of focus for exploration will be moving from area to area, navigation decisions and distances, all measured in hours, as oil spent and torches burnt, and examining things and searching for secrets, avoiding traps, and mapping. Your choices struggle to conserve resources against the encroaching darkness. Your approaches determines your preparedness for battle. Gaining knowledge about your environment allows discoveries of hidden chambers and the ability to flee or find safety in the dark. 

Are you scouting ahead? Or will you be surprised by monsters? 
 • Will you avoid the traps and the relevant reduction in resources?
 • Have you made good choices to maximize your distance moved against the cost in terms of the various resources? 


Subpoint - Hunger Mechanics --- 
Rather than obsessively tracking rations, thereby adding another element of accountancy to the game, I am going to assume that the party is constantly foraging and resupplying. They are on the border of starvation at almost all times. The counter-effects of starvation versus drive and determination are considered to even themselves out in most cases. Instead of measuring and tracking food carried, all that matters is "What actions PCs have taken to get food?"
PCs begin as Hungry. In this stage the PCs get bonuses for performing certain actions to acquire food. So long as they perform at least one action every three days, they stay hungry. This is good. 
If the team fails to perform regular actions they enter the Starving stage. In this stage the PCs have to eat. If they have an opportunity to eat and do not then they suffer penalties. If the team incurs too many negative effects they enter the third stage. They are now Dying. Terminal starvation has set in. 
An edible opponent is one whose biochemistry matches yours. So, Dvargir, Goblin, or Dragon but not something like a Toxic Ooze, Silichominid or Archean. What matters is not the exact amount of food recovered but what the party are willing to do for for food. If PCs are willing to steal from starving refugees, or to attack an apparently peaceful group and consume them, to eat each other, or to eat their henchmen, then it doesn’t matter exactly how exactly how many calories they got out of it. It is the will to live that matters. The cash values listed only exist to give a general idea you guys want to do something dull like pay for food.  
STAGE ONE : HUNGRY -  The party must do at least one of these things every three days. If they do not, they begin to starve. 
PAYING FOR FOOD. The party must spend at least 300sp per party member. PCs can also try to steal this amount of food. 
EATING THE FLESH OF AN EDIBLE OPPONENT, PC OR HENCHMAN. If prepared by a Monster Chef, this gains PCs experience equal to the hit points of the creature or colleague consumed. However many creatures can cause adverse effects and disgusting mutations when consumed, (Monster Chefs can make rolls to attempt to remove these effects through cooking) and cannibalism, the consumption of a humanoid intelligence, is enough to drive any man into twisted states. At this stage the party can ignore the effects of one day on their "hunger bar" if they spend the whole 24 hours resting, conserving energy and doing nothing. 
So if they have spent 3 days exploring, and gained no bonuses, they can simply sit down to wait. If someone turns up, they can buy food, steal food or just kill and eat them to avoid moving to Stage Two. 
STAGE TWO : STARVING - At this stage the party is desperate. They must do one of the following within the next three days. 
PAYING FOR FOOD. You must buy at least 600sp worth of food per party member. PCs can also try to steal this amount of food. Doing this resets the party to Stage One. 
EATING AN EDIBLE OPPONENT, PC OR HENCHMAN. If the party performs one of these actions within three days, they go back to Stage One. They are simply Hungry. All exhaustion levels are lost. 
Every time the opportunity to perform one of the above actions occurs – say a henchman falls and breaks their leg and the party do not finish them off and eat them, or the possibility of stealing food exists and they do not attempt it – all PCs suffer a level of exhaustion. The party must act; if they spend 24 hours resting, conserving energy and doing nothing then all PCs will still suffer a level of exhaustion. After three days at Stage Two, PCs move to Stage Three. They are now Dying.  
STAGE THREE: DYING - PCs must eat or die. Every member of the party gains a level of exhaustion every 8 hours. 
PAYING FOR FOOD. PCs must spend at least 1000sp per party member. This will put them back at Stage One. PCs can also try to steal this amount of food. 
CONSUMING AN EDIBLE OPPONENT, PC OR HENCHMAN entirely will also send them back to Stage One. If a party member’s exhaustion level reaches level 6, they die.

 You'll note that food is very expensive, that is because food is very rare deep in the earth, and even the great matriarch in the towering drow cities beneath the granite wastes are hungry despite their jewels and their silks. It is also because buying food is boring and you should be actively seeking out interesting ways to acquire what you need.

Procedure - 
Exploration will usually be measured in 10 minute "Turns" however there will often be times when I will tell you that something will take a number of turns or even hours to accomplish, generally the time it takes to complete any significant action or interaction will be counted as an Exploration turn. Lockpicking, Scouting, Climbing your speed, (climbing will be discussed in detail during session zero) Etc all usually take 1 turn.

At the end of every other turn, or if the PCs make a bunch of noise, or if I feel like it, we'll roll a D6 Hazard Die, this helps us track lots of stuff and adds that random dice smell that we all know and love.

The Hazard Die for our campaign will be as follows.
1. Encounter
2. Rest or gain a level of exhaustion
3-4. Torches & Lanterns burn fuel, Ongoing effects, conditions, and statuses tick down
5. Monster Sign
6. Dungeon or Regional Effect

For our purposes 3-4 will allow us to burn through about 1 lumen of oil an hour without having to meticulously track these things, it also gives us a simple hour flag for diseases, effects, conditions, poisons etc. Whenever this result is rolled, each active lantern consumes its hourly rate of fuel. This result can be rolled back to back, as time work strangely beneath the Earth. If it is ever rolled a 3rd time in a row, ignore it and treat the turn as a free turn.

I have purchased Megadungeon #1 which discusses what to do for each of these other Hazard Die results, but if you wanna know more about them then you gotta go buy it yourself.




 
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Underdark Part 1 - Moods and Tones, Light Mechanics.

LIGHT IS THE CORE RESOURCE from which all others spring.
 If you only measure one thing, if you only remember one thing, remember light. Not ropes or food or even time, but light. The key difference between this and other imagined underground spaces is the totality and necessity of the enfolding dark When most games describe a place, they do so with a series of assumptions. They use a kind of shorthand. It’s the same shorthand we use in our daily lives to arrange the spaces through which we move.

“You walk into a room.”
 OK, so how do you know it’s a room at all?
Because you can see the walls and edges from beginning to end
Because you have seen thousands of rooms before and they all follow the same logic
Because this room is arranged in a grid pattern with other rooms in the same area.
That’s what ‘room’ means.
A thing like the other things you have already seen.



In a natural cave system this is not the case. You may not be able to see the roof or opposing wall. You may never have seen a place like this before. You will not understand the logic of their arrangement. When someone enters a new underground space, never say “you enter a cave”. Because they don’t know that.



And they can only see so far.

For this campaign I'm going to always assume darkness over vision. I like to imagine the darkness as alive within the Underdark. Instead of being a simple, black absence, I regard it as a kind of active liquid. It does not meekly disappear on the lighting of a candle. It follows the players like a stalking predator.  It backs away reluctantly before the light, it follows carefully and relentlessly, creeping as close as it can. It leaves chew marks in the corners of your sight. It should be almost embodied. Not a general awareness or a set of laws but an actual person. Like someone standing silently in the corner of the room, watching you as you read this.

 The darkness is a character. It only wants one thing....






L U M E N S 

The means of carrying and projecting light are central to the Underdark Adventurer Economy. Light is firstly something you have to carry in the form of fuel, secondly your only means of finding your way and securing more life, thirdly a valuable thing which you can trade for, exchange and seek out, and fourthly a resource that is always being eaten away.

In addition, distance relates to time. Solar cycles have no meaning in the Underdark.  The main measurement of travel is how long it takes to get somewhere. This is measured by a loss of resources.
So time, distance, light, money, life, everything are all bound together.

Light is a currency and the currency is The Lumen.

A Lumen is a measure of light over time. It is also worth one silver piece, or SP
1 Hour of Light = 1 Lumen = 1 Silver Piece.

The Lumen is most perfectly expressed in oil. If you have oil, you can always trade it underground as if it were silver. If you have other means of making light then you can trade that as well.Oil becomes light.

Light gets you more time.
Time gets you more money.
Money 
gets you more oil.
Oil, money, light and time all in one.


But other things are also measured in Lumens. This makes light about ten times as expensive as that in standard gaming. It kind-of makes sense as light is much more valuable down here, and much harder to get. Lumens are how you measure wealth in the Underdark. It replaces the gold and silver coins of the surface world. Of course not everyone carries the same kinds of light production. Of course not everyone carries oil. It can be assumed that the necessary exchanges and conversions are being done in the background. This is irritating and unrealistic; the means to create and sustain bio-luminescence are not those used to create and light candles.

But we have pushed all that complexity into a simple number that tells you everything you need to know about how rich, and how safe, you are, how far you can go and how long you can see. 
Like hit points, Lumens may not make much sense on an individual basis, but they do make sense as a game object. And like hit points you can assume Lumens lost or found to be whatever you need them to be.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Elemantist Class

This is my take on a sorcerer class, I'm working with some fundamental assumptions in place but I by no means think the numbers represented here are fixed. One of the primary mechanics of the 5th Edition Sorcerer is their ability to use sorcery points to be more flexible casters.  In this class I want to embrace the idea behind 5th Editions Sorcery Points while shedding the vancian spell slots system entirely.



The Elements
There are 4 primary elements, Earth, Fire, Air, and Water but elementalists have specialized in any countless sub-elements, from Ice or Lightning Elementalists to Light, Sand, and Metal Elementalists, rumor has it there was once an Elementalist who specialized in wielding a liquid metal similar to Galium.

Elementalists are unlike other classes in that they choose their path at first level instead of third. Each path has it's own minor drawback. Elementalists gain +3 to their saves vs any spell that involves their element. (Pyromancers get +3 to their dex save vs fireball, the Air Bender gains +3 to his save against lightning bolt spell because lightning is a subdomain of Air)




Pools of power 

Elementalists draw on a wellspring of elemental power within themselves in order to manifest different effects. This wellspring of power is represented by a pool of Affinity Points as laid out below. When creating a spell effect the Elementalist describes what they are doing and the GM will determine how many Affinity points the effect would cost. An Elementalist can also cast any spell from the traditional sorcerer spell list that contains their element for a number of points equal to the level of the spell.

1 point damage moves are usually maxed at 2d6 on a single target or  1d8 in an AoE, in practice I would want to let players describe their actions and about how much damage/AOE they are aiming for before the DM determines the cost/viability of such a manifestation. Keeping in mind that the math of how the DM chooses to ration points directly relates to how powerful the class is.

The Elementalist Class

Level 1 - 2 Affinity Points - Choose Primary Element 
Level 2 - 3 Affinity Points
Level 3 - 8 Affinity Points - Signature Move
Level 4 - 10 Affinity Points -  Ability Score Improvement
Level 5 - 16 Affinity Points
Level 6 - 19 Affinity Points - Elemental Bonus
Level 7 - 23 Affinity Points
Level 8 - 27 Affinity Points - Ability Score Improvement
Level 9 - 36 Affinity Points
Level 10 - 41 Affinity Points - 2nd Signature Move
Level 11 - 47 Affinity Points 
Level 12 - 47 Affinity Points 
Level 13 - 54 Affinity Points 
Level 14 - 54 Affinity Points 
Level 15 62 Affinity Points 
Level 16 62 Affinity Points 
Level 17 71 Affinity Points 
Level 18 77 Affinity Points 
Level 19 - 84 Affinity Points 
Level 20 - 90 Affinity Points 




Element List- 

- Earth: +3 Saves vs  Acid and Poison, Constitution Casting Stat, Cannot Cast if not on the ground or in a stone building that is touching ground. 

- Water: +3 Saves vs Ice and Forced Movement effects, Wisdom Casting Stat, Cannot cast while dehydrated

 - Fire: +3 Saves vs Fire Effects, Charisma Casting Stat, Cannot cast while soaking wet or in water.

- Air: +3 Save vs Lightning effects, Dexterity Casting Stat, Cannot cast without access to the sky (defined by whether or not a crow could fly from their mouth to the sky unimpeded)


Signature Move - 
At 3rd, 5th and 10th level you have developed habits in your interaction with your chosen element. Choose a particular manifestation you have been favoring and reduce its AP cost by 1, this is the only way Elementalists can manifest cantrips, however a pyromancer elementalist could also make a 3 point fireball type spell his signature move and reduce its AP cost to 2, making it much more spammable.
Design Note - This is also a way to reward players for creating a distinct style in combat, allowing for smoother combat interactions and to solidify a players arsenal, however, the sheer amount of points at higher levels should assure that players will continue to find ways to creatively use their points without feeling pinched. 



Elemental Bonus
Earth:
Earthen Defenses- Your default AC Becomes - 10 + Con + Dex. In addition you may spend an action during combat to pull earth and dirt towards you, increasing your armor class by +1, this can stack to a maximum of +3

Water: Water Healing - You can spend a minute and a point of AP to grant someone (1d4 + Wis) temporary HP. This consumes a full rations worth of water and works best in lakes, rivers, ponds, wells, oceans, etc. (3d4+Wis/AP over the course of a minute in such places)

Air: Airmasters Acrobatics - You gain resistance to all falling damage. In addition you can spend a single AP to gain 10 feet of movement and not invoke attacks of opportunity until end of turn.

Fire: Cloak of the Pheonix - You can ignite most flammable objects with a touch, requiring 0 AP. In addition you may spend 3AP to enter a stance with a duration of 10 minutes. This stance wreathes the user in flames, requiring concentration and granting the following benefits -
  • The Elementalist sheds bright light out to 15 feet and dim light an additional 15 feet.  
  •  Any creature which hits the Elementalist with a melee attack takes damage equal to double the Elementalists charisma modifier.  
  •  Whenever the Elementalist spends AP to deal fire damage they may add their charisma modifier to the damage rolled





Sample Shenanigans --- 

Earth - 

The Door Maker - After taking a few deep breaths the Earth Elementalist shoves a section of stone wall aside, if nothing is behind the wall then a hole is blown through it wide enough for a medium sized creature to pass comfortably. - 4AP

Anklecrusher - Send a small tremor through the earth between you and an opponent, causing the earth to swallow and then crush their ankle. Dex save vs 2d8 bludgeoning and movement speed reduced to zero. Can either spend a full round action digging their ankle out or can yank it out, dealing an additional d8 of damage - 2AP (Single Target CC + 3d8 Damage)

Boulder Hurl - Sling a small boulder at a nearby enemy (floor tiles, large earthen clods, bricks and masonry) spell attack vs AC for 2d8 bludgeoning damage - 1AP

Hail of Stones - Sharp stones rain down in a 5 foot radius circle dealing 1d6 piercing damage Dex save for half - AP 1

Water - 

Phase Change - A water elementalist can change the phase of the water they are manipulating at will (free action, can occur on enemy turns etc.) - 1AP

Water Jet - A stream of water bludgeons and knocks enemies prone or backward (caster choice) 1AP/Round to pin enemies to the ground, hamper movement and generally create a bad time, an additional 1AP / round deals 2d6 bludgeoning per round. Concentration, combos nicely with phase change.

Water Cloak - Wielders use their water as a form of armor with tentacle-like arms. The Elementalist can use these arms to grab objects or enemies, blast enemies with water, etc. Depending on how much water they have very experienced water masters might have up to 8 water arms. (Bashing an enemy with an arm deals 1d8 damage. Creating the cloak with one are is 2AP a minute and an additional 2AP per extra attack up to 8 attacks / round, at 8AP/Minute. Concentration duh.)

Water Shield - Reaction vs Attack against caster or an adjacent ally, granting disadvantage on the attack. 2AP

Note - I avoided talking about ice manipulations because I feel like those are easier to think of than liquid water manipulations but this doesn't mean you shouldn't or can't use ice. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

This post is probably not useful

Just as the title says; this post is going to be a lot of rambling and will probably help no one. But that's okay because I'm here to rant about some shit that's in my brain, and if it happens to ever be useful to someone that's great.

5E is a combat rules system masquerading as a roleplaying system.  The main purpose of mechanics in roleplaying systems that I run is to inform the storytelling and to add an element of risk/reward to the interactions. The problem, of course, is that in order for that to be true or for such mechanics to be useful the DM must have a certain amount of foundational knowledge about gameplay etc. That makes it hard to market a product based on this assumption and so instead the rules are designed for simplest possible accessibility and there is nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day though, mechanics inform the gameplay experience for players and by designing more combat mechanics you inform the players that this game is about combat. Today I'm picking on Monks as an example of a few overarching 5E design critiques and then maybe somewhere in there I can produce useful ideas.


I Got Beef With Monks - 

So this isn't a fair title, monks themselves have done nothing to me or my family. (Unlike warlocks, who know EXACTLY what they've done!) I mean I do think they're a bit over tuned that's not really important here. I'm just using Monks as a punching bag because I was thinking about design and monks and what monks could be, but this same thing stands true for basically all classes.

You ever notice how much of a monks kit is combat oriented? I could replace "monk kit" with 5E and still feel comfortable making that accusation, but again, we're gang beating monks today. Monks have a variety of moves and styles and the like, but all of their abilities are essentially geared towards combat, (The open palm is an interesting exception) and almost universally these are boxed in by very specific rules. And those rules get in the way of the Cinematic Bullshit that I want to see out of my monk players.

Jackie Chan doing Cinematic Monk Bullshit

So, remember earlier I said this would be a discussion about how mechanics inform gameplay right? So what kind of gameplay do we want from monks and how can we inform the player what the monk class means in terms of gameplay through mechanics which encourage the type of play we want? (The idea of class decisions informing DMs about the type of gameplay a player wants is a whole other discussion, but for now, let's just assume that you know about that.) 

What 



I mean what the actual fuck is happening here? 
Answer: Cinematic Monk Bullshit

Okay okay, at this point you're really irritated and you want me to just make my point and shut up already so here it is. Monks should be able to use their Ki points to just will things into existence. Or, more accurately the Monks should be able to will thematic (shadow monks have different abilities than open palm monks have different abilities than a kensei) bullshit into existence. 

You're fighting an Ogre, it misses you with an attack and you go "I use a ki point to slip inside his attack and try to land a blow to make him drop the club" and yeah dude, fuckin roll an attack and make that dude drop his club.

Your party is facing an adult red dragon and you know it's going poorly. You're front lining but you know you're hit dice aren't exactly huge so you'll need to find ways to introduce some Cinematic Bullshit to save yourself. The dragon lands a bite but only barely, you burn a few Ki points to boost your AC by doing the classic "grab the teeth" cinematic bullshit move. This creates an absurd tug of war between you and the dragon that can reduce it's DPS significantly or be rendered useless after around, either way, it's cinematic and simple. 

So how do you write rules for this? To be honest, I don't think you write the rules for this, I think you just put a big label of "Cinematic Cutscene Fights" and explain to your players what monks look like in your world. (Jackie Chan is a level 20 monk in my example characters list)  I love the cinematic bullshit, and I love the idea of using Ki as a resource that can be spent to do various cinematic bullshits.