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 as 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?"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

De-Stupiding the Book of Crypts, Part... whatever.

I've been harvesting material from the Book of Crypts for my Ravenloft/Gothic Earth/Masque of the Red Death campaign. I find that I can only use the seed of an idea from the scenario. Besides the fact that I have to adapt the scenarios to 19th century Earth, I also have to shave the dumb off of them, and there is quite a bit of dumb.

The scenario my players are presently finishing is "The Living Crypt," which is about a lich and a living wall and not much else. The lich is also named Nightblood, which would have been really cool...when I was thirteen. He apparently has no other agenda than being eeeeeeeeeeeevil. 

So here's what I did: (Meghan, if you happen upon this blog entry, kindly read no further. I'd hate for you to spoil it for yourself)

The scenario is the aftermath of the Poe short story, The Cask of Amontillado. Nightblood is now Signore Claudio Montresor, a powerful sorcerer from a line of powerful sorcerers with a vindictive streak a mile wide. (From the story, the Montresor family crest bears the text "I will not be insulted with impunity.") 
Montresor did  immure Silvio Fortunato in the catacombs beneath his palazzo, but Fortunato was neither the first nor the last such victim. The northernmost wall of the catacombs is a cursed thing that absorbs anyone who has been walled alive within it's confines, adding them to a horrific living wall. In turn, the vital essence of these tortured souls extends the lifespan of Montresor. Indeed, the fell sorcerer is centuries old, using spells to gradually change his appearance over the years and posing as the latest heir to the Montresor estate.

While investigating Montresor in Italy, one of the members of the Vigilance (an organization dedicated to fighting the influence of the supernatural) vanished without a trace. Doctor Frank White dispatched two of his most capable agents, "Madame Zoltara" and Dr. Corrigan, to locate him. They were given contact information for a semi-retired monster hunter, Ugo Augusto, one of the nearly defunct Oculi Dei, an European order of monster hunters.

The PCs are currently smack in the middle of this scenario. Highlights have included creepy ass catacomb exploration, and extremely well-managed battle against an advancing horde of undead house staff, and an epic battle with Montresor at the top of a clock tower. Presently the PCs are trying to locate Montresor's phylactery so they can stop him from just reviving. In the meantime, they can't seem to locate their colleague, the one they were sent to find in the first place...

Hopefully we will finish off the scenario this Sunday. I'm pretty damn pleased with it and pleased with the skilled play that Meghan and James have been rocking.

Oh, and they may get out of a scenario with their NPC pal alive for once. (It's a bit of a running gag in this campaign that their NPC "third wheel" is pretty much doomed to die.) 

The "Simon Says" Approach To Gaming

Okay, I like 5e so far, I really do. I'm just as surprised as anyone.

What I don't like, however, is the shit that apparently has to be spelled out explicitly. For instance, we actually need text telling us that a piece of siege equipment is immune to poison and psychic damage .

Yes, we need to be explicitly told that an inanimate object cannot be affected by poison or by damage to the mind. 

Why, I ask? Is this the result of cheesedicks who say "The rules don't say inanimate objects can't be poisoned!" and DMs who don't have the cojones to say "No, you can't poison a piece of equipment. Try harder."

Is this the result of a fundamental lack of trust between DMs and players?

Are we as a species just dumber?

It's probably a small thing to complain about in the grand scheme of the world, but goddamn it annoys me. I don't like the "Simon Says" approach to gaming. Hey, the rulebook never says my character doesn't have laser eyes and a barbed, prehensile tail that does 2d20 that means I totally have that, right?  The rules don't say that I can't use my Intimidate skill to make a portcullis open for me. I mean, the rules also don't explicitly say that I can't talk to inanimate objects.

Alright, my rage is expended. It is what it is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Clearing Shelf Space

Yesterday I unloaded a chunk of my gaming collection.
This year, my goal is to shift away from collecting and more to actually using the things I have accumulated.
I'm narrowing down the systems that I am willing to run.
A notable development: I abandoned all my NWoD stuff. I'm keeping the OWoD stuff, mainly for nostalgic reasons (I still keep some stuff just because), but I think I'm pretty much over NWoD, as is my spouse.

The empty shelf space makes me feel refreshingly unencumbered. Time to focus.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

B/XWOD: The Witch

Witches at a glance:

*Witches are mortal. A witch reduced to 0 hit points by any means is killed.

*Witches who take a familiar develop a strange, nipple-like growth somewhere on their bodies. This growth mostly resembles an ugly mole and is generally not that unusual unless the witch is searched by a trained observer. Witches with no familiar do not develop this mark.

*Being mortal has its benefits: witches have no special weaknesses or substances that repulse or damage them.

Witch Powers:

Spells- A witch has access to spells. Spell slots work as with D&D rules. At 1st level, witches must choose whether they follow the Light Path, Gray Path, or Dark Path. (Differences will be posted with the magic rules, forthcoming) They can change this Path later, but it isn't easy.

Talismans- Witches can create talismans, which are magical objects imbued with power. These cost spell slots that remain invested in the item until it is used up or destroyed. To create a talisman, the witch must roll equal to or less than the number on a d20. On a failure, the witch can try again in a week, or reroll at the cost of 1d6 points of Constitution. Lost Con points return at the rate of 1/week. A witch reduced to 0 Constitution by this method dies, and often leaves behind a more powerful but cursed item. Witches can only have as many active talismans as their experience level. (A 4th level witch may have four talismans active at once, for instance.) Full talisman rules will be posted with magic.

Evil Eye- Witches are gifted with the ability to manipulate Fate. A witch angered may place a curse upon a victim with their gaze. This works like the curse spell and requires the witch to gaze upon the victim for a full round. Normal mortals are not entitled to a saving throw, though supernatural creatures can attempt a Mental Saving Throw. If the witch has a bit of hair, blood, bodily fluids, or a personal belonging of the subject, the witch can lay this curse from any range, though it takes an hour to do so instead of a round.
A witch who inflicts a curse gains a karmic debt. At some point in the future, the GM can force the witch to fail any single attack roll, saving throw, skill or ability check that they have rolled a success on. The witch incurs one such karmic backlash for each and every curse that they levy on another.
Witches do not gain karmic debt for a curse that is negated through a saving throw, but they retain karmic debt for curses that are alleviated some other way. (Most likely White Magic.)

Familiar- Witches can summon a spirit to act as their familiar. Witches do not have to do this; the decision to take a familiar is up to the witch.
The ritual to find a familiar takes an entire night, after which the character rolls on a chart to determine the type of familiar that arrives. If no familiar arrives, the ritual cannot be attempted again for a month.
When a witch bonds with a familiar, it acts as an extension of the witch's senses. As the witch grows in power, so to does the familiar, gaining +2 hp beyond the animal's normal type each time the witch levels, and -1 AC every other level. Familiars also gain the ability to deliver a witch's spell with their touch, or the Evil Eye with their own gaze.
If a witch's familiar is killed or dispelled, the witch must roll a Physical Save or suffer the loss of 1d4 points of Constitution, permanently. 
Familiars can assist with the learning of spells and the creation of Talismans. See the magic rules for further details.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

BXWOD: The Cambion

Cambions are humans who have a demonic ancestor. While pairings between humans and demons are almost unheard of in the modern era, there are humans who have the taint of hell in their bloodlines. Demonic blood is unpredictable, skipping many generations, manifesting at different stages in life, etc. The typical bloodline produces a cambion once every 3-6 generations. Most of the time, cambions are physically indistinguishable from normal humans, though they tend to be either noticeably ugly or very pretty. Cambions develop the ability to temporarily alter their physical forms, during which time some of their evil heritage shows through.

Cambions at a glance:

*Cambions are mortal. A cambion reduced to 0 hit points by any means is slain.

*Cambions take 1d8 damage if holy water is thrown on them.

*Cambions can be held at bay with a holy symbol if presented by someone with actual belief in that deity. They must make a Mental Save or they cannot approach within ten feet of the person. On a save of natural 1, they must flee for 1d6 rounds. The cambion's own religious leanings do not make them immune to this in any way.

HD: d6

AC: Cambions are slightly tougher than normal humans. A cambion of sufficient power actually has armor-like skin, though it appears normal to others. 

Natural Weapons Cambions often manifest natural weaponry reminiscent of their demonic heritage: whip-like tails, claws, horns, body spikes, etc. The player decides this at first level. At-will, the cambion can manifest these weapons. They may make one attack per round and inflict the damage listed. While the weapons are manifested, the cambion typically gains obviously inhuman features: glowing eyes, vestigial horns or wings, reddish skin color, etc. Once manifested, the cambion cannot resume normal human appearance for 1d4 rounds.

Maledictions: The infernal blood of the cambion allows them to learn the Maledictions, inherent magical abilities similar to spells. Cambions access spells similar to the way clerics do. Spell lists and rules forthcoming.

Domination: Cambions inherit forceful personalities. In the ancient world, demons often set themselves up to be worshipped as gods, and some of that trickles through to their distant mortal progeny. Cambions can assert dominion over mortal humans. This works just like turning undead, with mortals counting as usually 1 HD undead. Humans with levels count their level as their HD. Supernatural creatures, including witches, cannot be dominated. Note that getting a "D" result means that the cambion can elect to keep that human as a thrall. Cambions can hold a total HD of thralls  equal to their experience level. While thralls are useful, their will is utterly broken. They are pathetic, servile creatures. They will exhibit little ambition of their own and will never fulfill the potential they could've been capable of as free willed individuals. They gain half experience points, where applicable.
Beings that willingly choose to serve a cambion count against the total enthrallment HD. Willing beings do not suffer from an experience penalty and retain their ambition and personality. The cambion has the ability to give their spell slots away to their mortal servants, and can use Malediction on them from any distance worldwide.

Friday, January 16, 2015

From the 5e PHB

"You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or die." (Pg. 203)


B/X WOD: The Werewolf

Still suffering from formatting woes for the charts, but here is my basic write-up for the werewolf class for B/X WoD. I'm still not sure that the wolf form is useful enough... 

At a glance:

*Werewolves can shift into a normal wolf or a werewolf. The transformation takes a round, during which the werewolf is helpless and considered AC 9 . The transformation rends clothing and armor.

*On the night of the full moon, and the nights before and after, a werewolf is generally churlish and unpleasant, suffering a -2 to all Charisma or reaction checks. In a dangerous situation, he must roll a Mental Saving Throw or fly into a berserk state. If a natural 1 is rolled, he will automatically change into werewolf form if not in it already.

*Werewolves take 1 extra point per die from silver weapons, and the may not regenerate damage from such wounds, healing instead at the normal rate. This extra damage applies regardless of form. Non-weapon items made of silver are physically irritating, but don't cause any damage.

*Werewolves are nauseated by wolf's bane and monk's hood. If within 20 feet of it, they must make a Physical Effect save or be unable to enter the area. Even if they make the save, they are at -1 to attacks, saves, and skill checks. They may not use their Track ability for 2d6 turns after exposure due to sensory overload from the unpleasant stench.

*Werewolves can't regenerate damage from fire, they must heal it normally. They do not take any extra damage from fire, however.

*Werewolves reduced to 0 hit points make a Physical Saving Throw. If they fail, they die normally. If they succeed, they will revive in an hour. The revival can be prevented if the downed werewolf is hit with a silver weapon, magic weapon, or fire. At the GM's discretion, a werewolf body subjected to massive trauma might not revive. (Fed to a wood chipper, rolled over by a steam roller, thrown into a volcano, etc.) 

*Werewolves feel naturally uncomfortable in the presence of magic. They cannot use magic in any form, and do not like to have spells cast on them, including beneficial ones.

HD: d10- note that werewolves have the same hit point total in all three forms.

AC:  Werewolves have thick hide and tough muscles, often able to shrug off damage entirely. They enjoy this bonus only when shifted; human form werewolves have a base AC of 9.

MV/Leap: Werewolves are capable of incredible speed, loping across vast distances faster than humans. Listed next to heir move is the amount of each move they can use for a super powered leap when in hybrid form, clearing obstacles and enemies as needed. They can jump upward using half their leap rate. In human form, they have the normal base move of 120 and cannot leap. Wolf form adds +10 to the movement rate, but cannot perform leaps.

Tracking: Werewolves can track prey they have encountered via scent. They can also track someone if they have an object recently handled by that person. They must roll the number or less on a d20. The GM is free to apply penalties or bonuses as appropriate to the situation. (Rain, downwind, etc) Werewolves can use this ability in human form, but apply + 4 to their target number. (A 2nd level werewolf in human form would have to roll 15+ instead of his normal 11+) 

Claws/Bite:In hybrid form, werewolves can attack with two claws per round, or with one more devastating bite. As they level, they can do all three in one round, with the attacks becoming more powerful as per the chart. In wolf form, the werewolf can only bite.

Regeneration: The werewolf body is gifted with the ability to regenerate even the most grievous of wounds. The number of hit points and time interval improve as the werewolf grows in power. Damaged organs and severed limbs can be reattached by means of regeneration. A werewolf regenerates regardless of what form it is presently in.

Howl: A werewolf can issue a special howl once per night. This howl has a radius of one mile per level. The howl is instantly recognized by all werewolves within range and give them a general idea of the werewolf's current location and emotional state. Non-werewolves cannot differentiate this howl from an ordinary wolf howl. This ability is obviously unusable in human form.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

B/X WoD: Skills

If you don't like skills, don't use 'em

So. Skills. Pick four things your character can do. One of them is 12+, one is 14+, one is 16+, one is 18+.
They improve 1 every experience level. 

If you pick some kind of weapon training, you use the attack bonuses on the Soldier class from Xplorers.

Define your own skill list. Driving is a skill? Sure. Hacking? Occult Lore?

If you're the kind of GM who uses social skills, throw them on there.

Is this an enormous cop out? Maybe. I know what my skill list would look like:

-Weapon Training (specific weapon class- swords, rifles, )
-Driving (specific vehicle class, and this covers stunts/fancy driving)
-Occult Lore
-Science (specific branch)
-Contacts (specific area, like criminal, police, government, etc)
-Crafting (specific trade)

BXWOD Classes: The Vampire

Here is my initial writeup for the first of my BXWOD replacement classes, the vampire. I've already written the four base classes up and am working on spells and an optional skill system. I've actually had these written since December, but my blog-fu is weak and I'm having trouble finding a way to incorporate the tables into the blog entries that doesn't leave the post a hot mess. There's an embedded Excel sheet below; we'll give this a shot. For the meantime, we'll just have a write-up of the class abilities.

I was thinking that I might make the skill system closer to Xplorers than SWN, just to keep the mechanics somewhat consistent with the supernatural powers.

Some notations:
BHB= Base hit bonus
PST, AST, MST= Physical Saving Throw, Agility Saving Throw, Mental Saving Throw

This is still disorganized brainspew, and the excel sheet I've embedded is pretty rough, but I just wanted to put this down while it's still fresh. So, without further ado, the BXWOD Vampire.

Vampires have a Blood Pool equal to their Constitution score + their experience level. Every night, they lose 1d4 Blood upon awakening. This must be replenished by draining Blood from humans. Vampires who are are 0 hit points lose further damage from their Blood Pool. A vampire who reaches 0 Blood and 0 hit points is destroyed. A destroyed vampire crumbles into a pile of ashes.

*Sunlight causes extreme fatigue in vampires. During the day, they are at -2 to initiative, attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. If directly in sunlight, they cannot use any powers and are destroyed at 0 hit points regardless of how much Blood they have.

*Fire does +1 point per die of damage to vampires

*When confronted with a holy symbol by one who truly believes in its power, vampires must make a Mental Saving Throw or be unable to approach. On a natural 1, they must flee for 1d4 rounds.

*Holy water causes 1d8 damage when thrown on a vampire

*Garlic is nauseating to vampires. They must make a Physical Saving Throw when within 10 feet of it or be unable to enter the area. Even if they pass the save, they suffer -1 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws, and damage until they leave the area.

*A wooden stake through the heart immobilizes a vampire until it is removed. To drive a stake through a vampire's heart, it must usually be immobilized and helpless, and a mallet employed. Attempting to stake in combat requires an attack roll at -4 to hit and a strength of no less than 16 to pierce the breast plate.

*Vampires do not heal naturally, nor can they be healed by magic. The only way a vampire can recover hit points is by spending Blood. One Blood will restore 1d8 hit points. 

Vampire abilities:
HD: d8. Vampires roll d8s for Hit Dice. 

AC: The more powerful a vampire becomes, the more resilient their undead body is to damage. The vampire's AC improves according to the table.

Vampires also have access to a number of powers. They may select four at first level. These powers do not change. 

Stealth: Vampires are capable of supernatural stealth. If they roll equal to or less than the number listed on the d20, they can blend into shadows and move without sound. This ability is partially mystical in nature; a vampire who successfully hides via this ability cannot be detected by non-magical means. The vampire becomes visible if they attack or use a power, though they surprise opponents who are unaware they are hiding nearby. Vampires can also use this ability to phase through locked windows and doors so long as they aren't protected by magic or garlic.

Climb: Vampires can scale sheer surfaces with an eerie, spidery climb. Treat the ability similar to the spider climb spell. They must make roll the number on the chart or less on a d20 or else they cannot make the ascent. The ability can be combined with Stealth.

Swarm: The vampire an summon a group of normal animals. The animals they can summon are rats, bats, and wolves. They can summon up to the HD limit indicated on the table. (So it isn't actually possible to summon a wolf until the vampire can command 4 HD.) The animals arrive in 1d6 rounds and only arrive if they could be reasonably found in the area. The animals are loyal to the vampire and will fight on his behalf, though they will still retreat as combat and morale dictate.

Gaze: The gaze of a vampire often develops hypnotic, mind-altering effects. They function as per the spell. Normal mortals are never allowed saving throws. Heroic mortals and supernaturals are allowed Mental saving throws. Note that the ability does not function on supernaturals with a higher experience level than the vampire. Gaze requires eye contact. A vampire of at least 3rd level can enthrall a normal human as a permanent servant. This requires a permanent expenditure of a Blood Point for as long as the human is enslaved to the vampire. A vampire can only maintain one slave per two experience levels.

Swiftness: Some vampires are capable of frightening alacrity. As they level, their movement rate improves and they inflict a penalty on opponent's attack rolls.

Might: Supernatural feats of strength: lifting a car, battering down a metal door, bending bars, or rendering a normal mortal unconscious or dead with a single blow. (Or 3d6 against heroic mortals or supernatural creatures) The vampire makes a roll against a d20 to manifest the necessary strength. On a failure, the vampire abandon the attempt or force it and suffer 1d6. Might requires Blood expenditure every time it is used for a specific task.

Black Magic: Some vampires dabble in the dark arts. They get a compliment of witch spells equal to a witch of the level indicated on the chart. Vampires cannot use Light Path spells and their Gray Spells only have half duration. (Where applicable) Their mystically polluted nature is more acclimated to the Dark Path. This power does not require Blood to activate.

Shifting: Once per night, a vampire may shift into an animal. The type of animal is determined by level. The effect works like polymorph self and lasts one turn. (It can be renewed by using up additional Blood, however.) The vampire has the abilities and stats of a normal animal (aside from hit points.) The manbat form has the stats of a werebat. The duration also increases as the vampire gains levels.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Control Freaking Pt. II

I did a thing I've never done before a few days ago; I asked a player to retire a character.

I'm all about player agency, but what do you do when you have a PC who just isn't suitable for the campaign? The fault was partially mine for allowing the character to begin with. I guess I didn't quite understand the PC's motivations and how they would likely conflict with the rest of the party.

It certainly makes me consider the balance between player agency and campaign integrity. It also reminds me of a time in college when my pal Glenn ran what he dubbed "The Dwarven Campaign." It centered around a besieged dwarven keep.  I had no interest in playing a dwarf, so I didn't play. Another friend wanted to play a non-dwarf sorcerer. The DM insisted, so he made a dwarven sorcerer and complained the entire time about how dwarves suck as sorcerers. (Keep in mind this was 3.0)

The player was pretty gracious about it and is rolling up a new character. I think this one will fit into the campaign structure better.

Deadlands continues this Friday, although now that the players are getting involved in the government of Colorado Territory, I think the game is going to get more sim-y.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Obligatory (and Belated) 2014 Retrospective

I've let my blog go neglected these past few weeks. The holidays and then getting set up for a new semester have left me little time to wax on about gaming.

So, the bad parts of gaming in 2014:
-I parted ways with the Sunday group (very early in the year...or was it late 2013...?)
-I lost my friend and GM, Mike, to cancer
-I failed to finish my WoD replacement game 

The good parts of gaming in 2014:
-I rejoined the Thursday group
-I ran RIFTS for the first time and really enjoyed it
-I started up a Deadlands game that's still running
-I started up a Skype Ravenloft campaign that's still running
-I went to BritishFest and ran a TSR UK module and some WFRP 
-I went to KantCon and had an amazing time running/playing games
-I backed Kevin Crawford's latest Kickstarter and am loving the beta rules
-I was pleasantly surprised by D&D 5e
-My LGS opened up a new location, bigger, better, and brighter.
-I blogged far more than my slack-ass 2013 offerings

Stuff for 2015 that I'm looking forward to: (gaming stuff, anyway)
-Trying my hand at DMing 5e
-Finishing my WoD replacement game
-Getting the final draft of Silent Legions
-Another year of KantCon 
-Another year of BritishFest
-2015 means that the gritty future of Cyberpunk 2020 is only five years away. (Not really, but I can dream...)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holiday Gaming

Aside from the Thursday group going on hiatus, I found that the holidays didn't really stop my gaming. I ran my Sunday Skype Ravenloft/MotRD game all three weekends of break and ran my Deadlands game two out of the three Fridays.

I want to post what I've recently concocted for my Ravenloft game, but I must wait until it's finished, lest I spoil it for my players.