Saturday, January 31, 2015

BXWoD: Getting turned!

In most supernatural lore, vampires and werewolves are capable of passing their curse on to others. Given that I've made this a class-based system, that could get dodgy. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

Vampires can inflict their cursed condition onto others by draining them dry. (That is, to 0 Constitution)
Such an individual will rise as a vampire in 20 + 1d6 hours.

The fledgling has -2 to all saving throws or other forms of resistance to the sire's control. In the case of unwilling NPCs, the new sire can make a reaction roll at +2 to determine if the fledgling is loyal or rebellious.

When turning into a vampire, the individual's class will change.

Ordinary mortals immediately become 1st level vampires and advance normally thereafter. At least two of their powers will be the same as the siring vampire, though Black Magic takes 1d6 months before the fledgling can use it.

Heroic mortals become a vampire with an experience level equal to their Hit Dice -1. (Minimum 1) A 5 HD templar who becomes a vampire is a 4th level vampire, for instance.

Note that fringers are a special case. A fringer who becomes a vampire retains their current fringer abilities and gains the abilities of a 1st level vampire. In any session where they use their fringer abilities, including BHB or saving throws, they gain only half experience points. Once their vampire level exceeds their fringer level, they may use all abilities freely.

If a vampire tries to turn a supernatural creature, reference the rules below:

Werewolves: A werewolf cannot become a vampire. They simply die if reduced to 0 Con, although they have the normal chance to revive. (At 1 hp and 1 Con.)

Witches: A witch switches to the vampire class, at one level lower than their witch level. (Minimum 1) They must take Black Magic at one of their starting powers. They lose all witch abilities, and white magic spells no longer function for them. If they have a familiar, it abandons them. All Talismans the witch is maintaining lose power within 1d6 days. The witch advances as a vampire thereafter.

Cambions: A cambion loses an experience level and switches to the vampire class, advancing normally thereafter. Their cambion abilities are forever gone. Any thralls are immediately freed and lose any power the cambion has bestowed on them.

Weirdlings: A weirdling loses an experience level and switches to the vampire class, advancing normally thereafter. Their weirdling abilities are forever gone. Any contracts they have active are immediately canceled with no adverse effect to either party.

Revenants: Being undead already, a revenant cannot become a vampire. 

Note that if a supernatural with fringer vassals is turned into a vampire, the fringer immediately has the option to break the bond, or they can simply switch to the vampire vassal benefit.

Werewolves can pass on their curse to another. If an individual is reduced to 25% hp or less by the werewolf's claws or bite, they must pass a Physical Saving Throw or they will transform into a werewolf at the next full moon. Note that individuals who are killed by a werewolf's claws and bite also have a flat 1% chance of reviving with 1 hp, doomed to become a werewolf at the next full moon.

If a werewolf turns an ordinary mortal, they simply become a 1st level werewolf, advancing normally thereafter.

If a werewolf turns a heroic mortal, that mortal becomes a werewolf with an experience level equal to one less than their hit die. An 8 hit die monster hunter becomes a 7th level werewolf, for instance.

Fringers are a special case. A fringer immediately switches to a 1st level werewolf, but retains all fringer abilities. The fringer advances as a werewolf, but loses 50% experience for any session where they use any werewolf abilities. Once their werewolf level has surpassed their fringer level, they can use all abilities freely with no penalty.

When a werewolf attempts to turn a supernatural creature, consult the following rules:
Vampires: Vampires are undead and cannot become werewolves.

Witches: Witches lose an experience level and switch to the werewolf class, in which they advance normally thereafter. Any familiar abandons them. Talismans lose their power in 1d6 days. The werewolf immediately loses all other witch abilities, including the ability to prepare and cast spells.

Cambions: Cambions lose a level and switch to the werewolf class, advancing normally but losing all cambion abilities. All thralls are immediately freed from service and lose any powers invested in them.

Weirdlings: Weirdlings lose a level and switch to the werewolf class, advancing normally but losing all weirdling abilities. Any active contracts are immediately canceled with no ill effects to either party.

Revenants: Being undead, revenants cannot become werewolves.

Note that if a supernatural with fringer vassals is turned into a werewolf, the vassals are allowed to immediately break the bond or switch their vassal benefits to those of a werewolf's vassal. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

BXWoD: The Fringer

 This class is under heavy construction, but here's what I've got so far. (Once again, thanks to Nathan for the ideas/concepts.)
The Fringer-
Despite the secrecy of the supernatural world, there are humans who nonetheless discover it. Some walk down the wrong alley on the wrong night, others are lured in to be prey or servants, and a rare few are rescued by a supernatural benefactor. While most humans instinctively rationalize or put the events out of their mind, there are some who are drawn to the shadows. The slang term for these humans is "fringers." Some of them become trusted servants, spies and allies, while others are pitiful pretenders who glamorize the supernatural world and long to be part of it.
The Fringer at a glance:
-Fringers use d4 for Hit Dice.
-Fringers are mortal and can be slain by mundane means.
-Unlike the other classes, fringers are considered heroic mortals rather than supernatural beings.
At creation, Fringers choose four special talents. These talents improve as the Fringer gains levels.
*Informant Network- Fringers stick their noses around the supernatural world, flies on the wall in vampire nightclubs, poseurs among with circles and the like. This is the chance a fringer will know about an event or rumor in the supernatural world, or will know some lore about a particular supernatural being. The GM may require the Fringer to spend 1d6 hours hitting the pavement. Fringers who offer up blood, cash, Talismans, or similar forms of enticement may receive a bonus at the GM's discretion.
*Skulk- Fringers often lurk, either following supernatural creatures to observe or trying to keep their heads down at supernatural galas. This isn't quite the supernatural stealth that vampires have, but it's better than mundane stealth. A successful skulking roll allows the fringer to move silently or hide in shadows. The fringer can even evade supernatural detection for up to 1 round per experience level. After that, they still remain hidden from mundane perception, but spells and supernatural senses will catch them.

*Gutter Magic- Sometimes fringers can beg, borrow, steal, or cajole the secrets of magic from witches. They learn a single 1st level witch spell which they can cast once per day. Every experience level, they can learn an additional 1st level spell. They have spell slots equal to a witch of half their experience level, rounded up. Fringers can never learn spells stronger than 1st level.

*Occult Lore- Some fringers obsessively learn all they can about the various types of magic and monsters. A fringer can make a roll to know something about a species of supernatural creature or magical effect.
*Sneak Attack- Being considerably weaker than vampires, werewolves, cambions, and other supernaturals, fringers often master the art of the sucker punch as a way to level the playing field. A fringer attacking an unaware supernatural creature gains a +4 to hit and inflicts an extra die of damage to the target. Fringers can also make a sucker punch on the first round of combat provided they are not attacked or targeted before they use the ability. Note that sneak attacks are subject to whatever immunities or resistances the supernatural creature possesses. (It is unwise to sneak attack a werewolf without a supernatural weapon.) Sneak attacks can be done with ranged weapons, but only to a distance of 30 feet/10 yards.
*Poseur- Fringers can adopt the mannerisms of a particular supernatural creature. With a successful roll, they gain +2 reaction rolls to NPCs they are conversing with and can pass themselves off as that type of supernatural. The ruse can be revealed through magic. Obviously the deception will not hold long, especially if placed into a circumstance where the fringer has to demonstrate an ability they do not have.

*Sixth Sense- Fringers who stay alive for long learn to sense danger. This is a roll the GM makes when the fringer is about to walk into a dangerous situation. Success gives only the idea that something is off. At the GM's discretion, this ability gives the fringer the general location of a concealed supernatural being in the area.
*Dealer- The Fringer has contacts with people who can come up with supernatural black market goods- vampire blood, silver bullets, etc. These items still have a monetary cost, but the items can be secured easily in 2d6 hours.

*Vassal- The Fringer can form a bond with a supernatural being. The being must be higher than the fringer's level and is typically an NPC. The fringer gains an ability listed below, but in return they are bound to the service of this NPC benefactor. All supernatural means of coercion used by their master automatically succeed.
Vampire- The fringer can learn Might, Stealth, or Black Magic and use it as a vampire two levels lower. (minimum 1st level) The fringer must consume 1 point of vampire blood per week to maintain these abilities.
*Werewolf- The fringer gains animal instinct. They use d6s for hit dice and can discern a werewolf howl from a normal howl.  They also receive +1 to hit and damage in melee combat.
*Witch- Fringers who consort with witches gain the ability to make Talismans as a witch two levels lower (minimum 1st). They cannot sacrifice their own hit points, but they can sacrifice the hit points of others. They can only make 1st level Talismans, and only of spells their master knows.

*Cambion- The cambion learns to use simple Maledictions. They can select 1 Malediction that they can use once per day. Each time they gain a level, they can choose to gain an extra use per day OR another 1st level Malediction.
*Weirdling- The vassals of a weirdling gain the ability to Beguile. They can use this as a Weirdling two levels lower. (minimum 1st level)
*Revenant- Fringers gain the same enemy as their master.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BXWoD Role Call

In my mind, these are the core classes of the game:

-Vampire (thief)
-Werewolf (fighter)
-Cambion (cleric)
-Witch (magic-user)

These are our "sub-classes" or Supplement I classes:
-Fringer (Nathan's "supernatural groupie" class) (bard)
-Weirdling (illusionist)
-Revenant (ranger)

And finally, still under consideration:
-Reanimate (monk or barbarian)  Or, as I always used to say with Prometheus, "It's Frankenstein, bitch."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BXWoD Class: The Weirdling

So, my friend Nathan has been bouncing some ideas off me for BXWoD, both in the comments section of previous entries and via email. One thing we finally managed to do was name the fae-ish class. Behold, the weirdling.

Weirdlings are humans who have True Fae ancestry. While the presence of True Fae in the modern world is rare (to say nothing of a union between a human and a True Fae), such couplings have happened throughout history, particularly in the Middle Ages. Fae blood is a fickle and capricious thing; it stays forever in the family tree, manifesting once every few generations with the odd period of dormancy.

Weirdlings at a glance:

*Weirdlings are mortal, and can be slain by mundane means.

*Cold iron weapons inflict 1 extra point per die against weirdlings. Jewelry or ornamentation made of cold iron physically irritates their skin, but does not cause any damage.

*Someone bearing clover, St. John's Wort, or at least one foot of rowan or ash wood is protected from weirdling glamours. Such an individual receives a second saving throw if the first fails, and receives a saving throw even against glamours that would normally not allow them.

* Weirdlings use d4 for hit dice.

*Weirdlings can use glamours, inherent magical abilities of manipulation, enchantment, and deception. They can cast any glamour without preparation, though they still have spell slots limiting how many times a day they can cast glamours of various levels.

*Weirdlings can enter into a contract with an individual. The individual must be completely willing and under no charm, magical compulsion, or physical duress. The weirdling can temporarily loan their glamour slots, trigger the use of a glamour in a states situation from any range, give the individual a temporary bonus to Charisma up to the weirdling's level (maximum 20, which is unearthly beauty or command). The weirdling can demand anything in terms of payment.Weirdlings never enter into a contract that does not involve substantial payment. Note that weirdlings can transfer levels, spell slots ,or other abilities in exchange for their bonus.
The weirdling cannot break their end of the contract; their bonus transfers to the individual regardless of the weirdling's desires. If the individual breaks the contract, the weirdling can inflict one of the following penalties (in addition to immediate revocation of benefits)- Loss of an experience level, Charisma drops to 3 for up to a month, suffering the effects of a curse spell, etc. If the individual then fulfills their end of the bargain, the penalty automatically ends.Weirdlings can have one contract active for each experience level.

*Weirdlings are naturally beguiling. If given the chance to talk, sing, or otherwise interact with individuals, weirdlings can improve the reaction category of an NPC by one level. Supernatural beings and heroic mortals can make a Mental Saving throw to resist, as can normal mortals who are hostile. The chart indicates what penalty the target makes on their saving throw. At 1st level, a weirdling can beguile only a single individual. At 5th level, a weirdling can beguile a small crowd. (Up to 2d4 individuals) At 9th level, they can influence larger crowds. (3d6) The beguilement ends when the target can no longer see or hear the weirdling, or if the weirdling or any of the weirdling's obvious allies take a hostile action to the target. 

This class is still under construction, particularly the contract ability. I've made the chart in Excel, but I think I'll post all the actual charts when Nathan does me a solid and makes them into a PDF.

Friday, January 23, 2015

B/X WoD: Other classes?

So, I've got my basic four classes written up for B/X WoD: Vampire, werewolf, cambion, and witch. I feel like I'll eventually have the itch to add more classes. The other classes I'm considering:

-Some kind of fae-equivalent to the cambion, based heavily on manipulation and illusion. The main thing blocking me is pretty sad: I can't think of a good name. I'm not using changeling, because they aren't fairies who replaced human babies, they are humans who have fae ancestry. I was like "Faeling. Done." Then I realized that faeling sounds like failing and abandoned the name. Still working on this one.

-A shapeshifting class. I was initially into the idea of humans who transform into a specific animal. Other ideas: a werewolf-esque hybrid form at higher levels, a skinwalker-type who can assume multiple forms, a doppleganger-esque/face stealer type. (Although that seems more like a monster/antagonist...)

-A Frankenstein-esque heavy damage, monk-like class. (I'm really torn on this one, though because it seems kind of silly to me.) 

Stuff I was considering, but am no longer:

-An angel-descended class. It doesn't seem to jive with the WoD/dark/monster-y vibe I'm going for.

-Ghosts. Ghosts are a pain in the ass as PCs, unless all the PCs are ghosts. Also, a lot of ghost lore ties ghosts to specific locations/haunts.

-Mummies, a la Boris Karloff. I was juggling the idea around but couldn't find any way to make it work that didn't just seem like dried-up witches. I might introduce them as antagonists. Also, given their geographical origins, how many of them are going to show up in North America? (Which is where my game is set)

-Gaki, e-kuei, panangellans, etc: I plan to treat these as variant vampires rather than separate classes. I also think their presence in my default setting would be so rare as to not warrant a full writeup at first. 

-Any type of PC who isn't partially human, or originally human.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Magic in BXWoD: Witches and Paths

Witches and Spell Magic

Witches have spell slots and levels just like B/X magic-users. However, in order to learn new spells, they must do one of the following:

1. Add the spell to their Book of Shadows by learning it from another witch or by copying from another Book. This pretty much works like B/X D&D. Typically, witches do not share their knowledge cheaply. The Read Magic spell doesn't exist in BXWoD; anyone can read the writings in a Book of Shadows, but only witches can actually command magical forces.

2. Invoke the spirits for knowledge of the spell. This can only be done when the witch has gained an experience level. They must cast the Invoke Spirit spell (to be posted) successfully to learn a new spell.

Witches begin the game with the spell Invoke Spirits. Witches also start with a few extra spells based on their path:

Light Path witches start with two Light spells and one Gray spell or three Light spells. 
Gray Path witches start with either three extra Gray spells, or one spell from each path.
Dark Path witches start with two Dark spells and one Gray spell or three Dark spells.

Witches suffer some casting restrictions based on what Path they have chosen.

Light Path witches can use Light and Gray spells, though their Gray spells are only half-duration or damage.
At the GM's option, Light Path witches can learn Dark spells, but the act of doing so gives them 1 Corruption point per spell level, and the casting of such a spell deals another Corruption point. When a Light Path witch's Corruption points surpass her Wisdom skill, she shifts to a Dark Path witch. Any familiar she had will abandon her, and she must summon a new one. 

Gray Path witches can use any spell, but their Light and Dark spells are both half-effect.
At the GM's option, Gray witches can use a Dark spell at full strength, but they gain Corruption points equal to the spells level. When their corruption exceeds their Wisdom score, they shift to the Dark Path as described above.

Dark path Witches  can use Dark and Gray spells, though their Gray spells are only half-duration or damage.Although Dark witches may learn Light spells (or know them from before they switched Paths), those spells will not function when used by a Dark Path witch.

Switching to the Gray path requires the witch to renounce the use of their current Path's spells for one month. (So a Light witch going Gray has to abstain from Light spells for one month.) They lose a level of experience and then switch to the Gray Path.

Switching to the Light Path is easy for Gray witches, not so easy for Dark ones. A Gray witch must abstain from using Dark magic for a month. He then loses and experience level and becomes Light. If he fails to do this, he may try again after one year. If he fails again, he may never seek the Light path again.

 A Dark witch who wants to go light must abstain from all dark magic for a month, must use Invoke Spirit to summon a benevolent spirit, and must perform an act of contrition given to him by the spirit. Dark magic cannot be used at all in the fulfillment of this contrition, even if it takes longer than a month. Upon completing it, he loses an experience level and switches to Light. He must also destroy all Dark spells in his Book of Shadows and any Talismans he owns that are imbued with Dark spells. In addition, if the witch ever switches paths again, he may never return to the Light path. The witch also does not gain a second chance if he fails his mission of atonement. The only option left to such a witch is to try switching to the Gray path.

A familiar will abandon a witch who switches Paths, but the witch is welcome to take a new familiar. 

Note that failing a trial to switch paths costs no experience, but the familiar may still be offended enough to leave. Roll a Reaction check, with a -1 penalty if switching from to or from Gray and a -2 penalty if switching between Light and Dark. On a threatening or worse result, the familiar departs over the witch's insolence. The witch is still free to seek a new familiar in the usual way.

I'm still breaking the spell lists up into paths. Here are my ideas as I fiddle with them:

1. Just say that Light Path= cleric spells, Dark Path = magic-user spells, Gray Path = druid spells, all taken from S&W complete.

2. Steal the colors of magic from Akratic Wizardry, tossing in druid spells wherever they best fit.

3. Do my  own thing. I see Light path as healing, defensive, and disabling without killing. I see Dark path as mind control, illusion, and damage. I see Gray path as movement, detection, and information gathering.

I have a few modified spells to add into the mix as well. I'll post the list soonish.

A new idea just occurred to me.

New option idea: Forget Paths. Magic is still light, gray, or dark. A witch is self-defined by what they choose to use. In this case, there are probably fatigue/corruption points a la Akratic Wizardry.

The Ones That Got Away

Everyone has one. That campaign that was an absolutely amazing idea, but it either didn't get started or it only ran a few sessions and fell apart. Maybe you ran it. Maybe you played in it. Today I wax nostalgic on some of the campaigns that got away.

As a GM:

-Legacy of Dracula: A GURPS steampunk/horror game pretty much entirely inspired by Kim Newman's novel, Anno Dracula. Failed four sessions in when I realized that I hate GURPS.

-Age of Gears, my Savage Worlds "steampunk ghostbusters" game. The schedules of the three ladies playing simply weren't compatible and we never continued after the ladies solved the case of Spring-Heeled Jack. (So at least we had some closure there.)

As a player:

-In college, my pal Glenn ran a Vampire: the Dark ages chronicle. Or tried, to, at least. He did a lot of research and preparation, and the rest of the group basically turned it into D&D at nighttime with fangs. He threw up his hands and quit about one session in. (Disclaimer: My character was totally appropriate for the setting. I did research, dammit.)

-My wife ran a World of Darkness game that only lasted one session. One of the players creeped my wife out with his constant emails and contacts, so she canceled the game because the experience left a bad taste in her mouth. It's too bad, because I loved the cast of characters in that game.

-My wife ran a post-apocalyptic World of Darkness game about survivors trying to figure out what happened and finding a community. There was mystery, supernatural mystery, and fantastic NPCs. The game fell apart because one player was a dick and my wife couldn't stand him anymore. Plus, my wife has acknowledged that she's better with one-shots and short games than she is with long campaigns. I'll never know what happened to the world, or what happened to my character's NPC wife. Also, my character was based on a dude I sat next to on a bus once.

So, what's your "one that got away?"