“The Story”

I love stories in my roleplaying games.  I love presenting my players with interesting situations, compelling characters, and I love getting a chance to roleplay and see other do the same.  To say I don’t like my games so have any element of story would be flat out wrong.

But I don’t really care about “the story”.  That is to say, I don’t really care much about the thing that other GMs are referring to when they suggest (with the best of intentions) to do something “for the good of the story”.  I have some amount of respect for “this could ruin the game for someone”, or “this could be the end of the campaign”, but if you play with decent people, who are good sports about losing, aren’t out to ruin things for anyone else, and you’d be willing to play ANOTHER campaign with after this one wraps up (expectedly or unexpectedly), those things aren’t really an issue.

As a GM, I have things the characters don’t know, I have NPCs that have plans, I might have a dungeon or module prepared for the evening if we’re doing a dungeon crawler.  If I am really on my game I have some situations to challenge the characters beliefs (whether in the Burning Wheel sense or not) and morals, and get them thinking and ideally demand action.  While I think having those is seriously when I am on my a-game, I think when I have one of those too far in the future or too contingent on certain actions leads to some of my worst GMing when I try to force it.

To me, the Story is something we only know after we play.  It’s not even something we know WHILE we’re playing.  Like I mentioned in my post about Maguscrusher we humans have a wonderful ability to make a story out of random events.  We can even filter out the events that didn’t really matter to whatever it is we’ve determined the story is about (For example if the battleaxe didn’t help us fight the wizard, in telling the story the skeleton likely would not have even been mentioned).  The story of an RPG is sort of the same thing as “the story of my life”, life doesn’t follow the principles of good drama.  If you go to someone’s house and notice a gun is hanging on the wall, hopefully most of the time that gun doesn’t go off and shoot someone.  Things happen, and they’re random, and only make a satisfying story after we’ve applied our ability to give these random events a beginning, middle, and end.

The story is not something that demands Barus the fighter survive an ill-planned (or even just unlucky), encounter with highwaymen just because he still hasn’t saved his sister after she was kidnapped by the evil duke.  The story is that Barus the fighter got in over his head and was killed by bandits because that’s what his actions, and the roll of the dice lead him to.

I get that, for some, that’s really unsatisfying.  It’d be one thing if Barus died fighting the duke in the climatic showdown, maybe it’d even be fine if instead of bandits it was the Duke’s men who showed up to arrest him and lead to the same result.  But unrelated bandits?  The GM should either had made some “adjustments” behind the screen or simply not put that many bandits there in the first place!  Barus needs to have closure on his arc to save his sister!

I understand the sentiment, I get where you’re coming from.  I used to play that way, I used to run games that way, and when I go to conventions I am fairly certain most of the games I play in are run that way.  It took a while, but the more I explored this hobby and discovered what I liked about games and which games I liked and why, I eventually stepped away from that.  To me, Barus dying because he crossed the wrong bandits is a perfectly fine ending to his story, sometimes bad things happen to good people and that’s just how things are.  To me it makes the game more exciting “Will the PCs get out of this one?” is always an unknown question, and it is exciting in the moment to see!

Ultimately, my goals as GM boil down to helping everyone (including me) has fun adjudicating the rules and situation fairly, and making things interesting right now, in about that order.  There’s rarely any conflict between them, for me, because often whatever the dice say IS fun, and IS the most interesting thing that could happen.  Or rather, even if I had a preference for one result over the other one, everyone knowing exactly what that dice roll means makes the result feel more real to everyone at the table, more than if I had just picked the one I liked better.


Current PaDC score: 21/31

The Leaky Bucket Crew – Episode 2

Last Night we got together to play Kaigan for the first time in a while, but once we all refreshed ourselves as to what was happening it was pretty easy getting back into things.  Session spent a lot of time in planning stages, but lots of it was in character so I was mostly fine with that.

We open after the Bar closes on the 3rd of the month, late at night early in the morning.  A name comes up on the date the till doesn’t quite match the receipts/inventory.   Fred Richards, unfortunately for them, Fred isn’t scheduled to work for the next few days, so they decide to pay a visit to him then and there.  They head into a rather sketchy part of town and find his 2nd floor walk-up apartment where he lives with his wife and daughter.  Okoi is hoping to avoid scaring the woman and the kid (and asks to change his instinct to something to that effect on the spot), but they still send Axe around back in case he tries jumping out the window.

Okoi and Upton knock loudly, and after a moment, the groggy man in question peers out the chained door to see who it is.  And the guy is wise enough to put two and two together as to why his bosses are here at this time of night.  He actually goes with them without much resistance, mainly to keep them from messing with his family, and the three of them meet up with Axe and then take a walk.

He grovels and such, which doesn’t reach many of our hardhearted protagonists, but they eventually get enough of the story.  Some guy from the Rising Dragons has been coming around, saying that Richard’s dad owed him money, and now that his father has passed away its on him to pay it back, and it seems he is threatening his family to encourage payment.  Richard identifies the guy as Kyoto, and has a Mahjong parlor in Dragon’s turf where he is supposed to meet him on the 7th.  They kinda wonder what to do with them, and then Axe tells Richard that he is going to help them get their money back, and help them out with other stuff to to make up for what they can’t get, and neither Okoi or Upton have got a better idea, so they go with that.

The next day, Koga’s letter is finally delivered, in retrospect I should have delivered it before the game so they could have written beliefs more closely related to it, but I think things still went fairly well.  They spent a LONG time thinking about how to respond, before deciding they wanted to burn the warehouse in question to the ground, with his men along with it.  They spend a day to scout it out and find out that the warehouse is a functional warehouse dealing in foodstuffs and trade goods, and it also seems to be under the Eye’s protection.  If it is owned by a member of the Eye, or the owner just pays decent protection money is rather unclear, but it bears their emblem on it as a “don’t mess with us” sign.  Either way this is enough to make them rethink their plan.

They begin to second guess if continuing to escalate is a good idea, especially because they worry Koga could retaliate by burning down their bar, and the letter makes it clear that they are looking for an excuse to go to war, so their plan is to figure out where Koga is and just take him out, simple, right?

None of them have a good idea how to go about this, and no one is willing to make an unskilled wise roll to try and see if they know, so they instead look to circle up and information broker from Uppton’s foreign contacts in the city.  Fail, Enmity Clause time!

They find a man known as Mr. R in the back room of an opium den, smoking on a Hooka pipe, not (currently) indulging in the primary drug of the location.  They tell him what they want to know, and he informs them he knows that Koga is known to frequent a certain brothel, and visit a certain girl.  He could tell them which brothel and which girl and even when he should next head over if he keeps his schedule, but what do they have to offer in return?

They briefly consider trying to trade information about how Tsuyoshi is going to be storing some stuff at their place, but decide it’s not worth the risks of pissing Tsuyoshi off or having someone come to THEIR place to get it.  In the end, Uppton tries offering the drugs they took off of Koga’s men as payment.  Mr. R considers it, and agrees, noting he has a few contacts who would buy it off him.

The place is called Sakura’s, he gives them the girl’s name and room she is most commonly in.  They should next expect him on the 6th, same nigh as the meeting in the warehouse.  Axe still wants to go to the warehouse, he’s the one person who has a belief still tied up in that letter, so they make a plan to visit the warehouse first, deal with the guys there, and then go to the brothel and deal with Koga.

We called it there, next time we’ll pick up with them dealing with the warehouse, and assuming they make it out of this night alive, they still have to deal with Richard’s loanshark, and Tsuyoshi’s job is still looming in the background.

Only 24 more days until the rent is due.


Current PaDC score: 20/31 (Another one a bit late that I had to backdate, but it’s still 10/20 somewhere, and I haven’t gone to bed yet so I am gonna count it)

Building the Gulf of False Hope, Part 7: Field Funerals, The Sacred Undead, and Liches

While writing yesterdays post, I felt that A) the overview of the types of Dead in the Gulf was enough to stand on its own and B) the section on Liches was almost enough to stand on its own.  That being the case, I’m throwing in a few other sections in with this one to round it out.  You’ll probably want to have read yesterday’s post first.

First we have the rules for giving your buddies a proper funeral, then we have descriptions of the two sub-types of the Cursed Dead, the Sacred Undead and the Lich.

So Your Comrade Just Kicked the Bucket…

(Note, in this section I use “comrade” to mean “fellow adventurer, hireling, or other person who might view you as responsible for getting them killed and has no one else to put on a funeral for them”, you don’t necessarily have to like them, in fact, if you didn’t get along it might be an even BETTER idea to make sure you put them to rest)

Adventuring in the Gulf can be dangerous, and sometimes not everyone makes it out alive. While not every dead adventurer returns to haunt their comrades who left them to die, many Adventurers choose to give their buddies the proper last rites, just to be on the safe side. To perform last rites (and allow your fallen comrade to join the ranks of sanctified dead), you need to respectfully dispose of the body and give them a funeral. These tests can be made either in the adventure phase or Camp. The funeral ritual will not stop your comrade from rising as an undead as part of a monster’s special ability, but incinerating their corpse might, and burying might bury them so deep the thing can’t get out.

To dispose of the body, you either need to bury them or cremate them.

  • To Bury the body, you must bring them to some soft earth and make an Ob 2 laborer test (ob 1 for digging, +1 evil GM factor for digging deep enough the animals can’t get at them)
  • To Cremate the Body, you must make an Ob 3 Survivalist test to gather up enough wood. The GM should give you some bonus dice or additional factors depending on the weather and terrain. The fire should be above ground or in an area where the smoke has somewhere to go.

To give your fiend a proper funeral, it is an ob 3 theologian test, failure might prevent your comrade from moving on to the next world! Each person present may tell a story about the deceased to grant the (impromptu) priest a bonus die (counts as supplies when determining dice rolled for beginners luck).

Alternatively, you can pay a ob6 resources check in any town with a temple or shine to get the local priest to cremate and bless the body for you, its up to you to get the body back.  If you have hauled the corpse back to town, friends and mentors of your comrade in the same town will help with this expense, while Families will pay for it.  Involving these people and shoving a share/all of the bill on them is a great way to earn yourself an Enemy who blames you for their loved one’s death, however.

Hauling the Body

Assuming your comrade didn’t conveniently drop dead in a good spot to burn or bury them (or right outside the gates of town), the living will have to drag them out of there themselves. For the purposes of these rules a “corpse” assumes you have removed their backpack, satchel, quivers, metal armor, and anything in their hands, if you have not, you may be required to test/have additional factors in your test.

You can drag a corpse of your race or smaller with two hands (Humans/Elves > Dwarves > Halflings), dragging a larger corpse requires a laborer test with an ob equal to the difference in size. Lifting a corpse over obstacles might require a test or additional hands, GM’s discretion, you can generally stick them on top of an animal or funeral pyre with no test, however.

A mystic Porter can carry a corpse using 8 slots of inventory for a human or elf (7 for a dwarf, 6 for a halfling), a pack animal can carry a corpse either as a Rider or as the same number of slots of inventory as the mystic porter, use whichever is more space efficient, but you’ll likely need some rope to tie them in place either way.

Burial in Absentia

You may provide a funeral for your comrade without their body, typically burning or burying a small personal item in their place. A funeral without the body counts as an additional factor in the Theologian test. Not having a personal item is another additional factor. This should also only be done when the body was unrecoverable, due to being destroyed, eaten, or too dangerous to get to, if the GM rules that you just left your fiend’s body where it was because you didn’t want to drop your stuff (or the Player’s annoyed about it), that can be a cue for another evil GM factor. The Shrine charges the same price for a Burial in Absentia as they do a traditional cremation (a more difficult ritual but they don’t have to actually burn any body), but will not perform one without a personal item. Lastly, while performing the funeral rites properly in such a manner will lay your comrade’s spirit to rest, the body is not sanctified in any manner from being brought back as an undead by a Necromancer who DOES recover the body.

Mass Graves

If you are unfortunate enough to be laying more than one comrade to rest, increase the obstacles of all tests (including paying the shrine if you choose to go that route) by one for a party of adventurers. You need a personal item for each comrade whose body you lack if you wish to avoid the additional factor.


The Sacred Undead

Contrary to most of the Cursed Dead, the Sacred Undead is not undead because of some vile act committed.  On the contrary, the Sacred Undead is too pure, too noble of purpose.  A Sacred Undead is not merely a spirit with unfinished business, no matter how noble, such spirits fall under the Vengeful Dead category.  Sacred Undead instead are those who, having lived a noble life in service of the divine will they serve, choose to continue to serve instead of passing on to the next world.  Their charge and duty comes not from any lingering regrets, but instead a divine edict from the will that they serve.

They are considered Cursed Dead, because to exist in such a way, to exist in such a state, no longer alive, no regrets to bind you, to resist the call of the next world, and to maintain your sense of purpose, self, and nobility, is agony for a soul. It is a terrible curse, a terrible burden to bear.  Yet it is one that those who still exist in such a way bear willingly.  A Sacred Undead can not be turned by any who serve the same divine will as they do, can not be permanently destroyed, and are exceedingly difficult to banish.  They pass on to the next world when they lose their will to remain, ideally after fulfilling their purpose or finding a worthy successor.  Still, the burden on the soul is great, and some merely disappear when they can no longer endure it.

The Lich

Nearly every Lich (and their kin) would disagree about being cursed.  Such a categorization is merely a slander perpetuated by the ignorant, fearful, and jealous.  Liches differ from the standard Cursed Dead because rather than some higher entity, Liches did it to themselves.  The ritual to become a Lich is intimate and complicated, and no one can be forced to complete it, to tear out ones soul is not something that can be done with any hesitation, and even those willing but hesitant have found that their hesitation merely instead resulted in their deaths.  Thus, no matter what a Lich may tell you, they chose to become a Lich.  They believed that magical power gave them the right to violate the natural order of things and do this to themselves.  To become a Lich is an act of arrogance, of KNOWING that you will do better than all those who tried before you.  Of course being a Lich is not a curse, I would not done such a thing to myself if it was a curse!

While that arrogance is their sin, not all Liches did so for ignoble ends.  Many have undertaken the ancient rituals with the most noble of ends.  A reason why they must stop the hands of time and continue whatever great work they were undertaking.  Such Liches can even succeed, perhaps they only needed another decade, and thus, whatever good they hoped to achieve can be overseen by the next generation.  A truly good lich destroys themselves then and there.  They rarely do.

To be a Lich, you must remove your soul, store it away, hide it in a special jar, yet, in order to do anything, your mind must remain with your body.  At first, it will seem like nothing has changed.  You have your memories, your personality, even some semblance of emotion.  You even still care for the things you cared for before.  And yet… You’ve changed.  It happens slowly, those things that you cared for last no where near as long as you do, and you find yourself no longer caring about anything new.  By the time you realize, you no longer even care that you don’t.  Why should you?  You have important work to do!  You can’t get half-way through a project without thinking of the next one!  Each of them so important, each of them justifying any number of sacrifices.

It is so easy to justify going just a bit further with each new experiment, your work is so important after all.  Far more important that some suffering of some time-bound creatures.  And each time you go a bit further, their pleas mean nothing to you.  Their cries of pain, their begging for mercy, their asking for their mother, their spouse, their child, all meaningless. They will not accomplish anything greater in their shot little lives than their contribution to your great work!

…And that’s just for Liches who start with the best of intentions.  All Liches become evil, because all Liches lose the ability to feel true empathy.  They can be quite clever, and they can UNDERSTAND what another being is feeling, but their time separated from their soul costs them (among other things) their ability to be moved by it.  A Lich may, for a while, keep a mental model in their head of what a “good person” would do, and they may act on it.  Yet there is no reward for them if they do so, no warm fuzzies to motivate them to keep at it, and without a compelling self-interest reason to do so, they end up deciding not to bother.

The same arrogance that lead them to become a Lich consumes them, only they and their goals matter, and they will do anything to see them through to the end no matter who they have to crush.  The Lich becomes an unrecognizable monster, while their soul suffers trapped inside a tiny box.  That is why Liches are cursed.

But I am sure for you it’ll be different, right?


Current PaDC score: 19/31

Building the Gulf of False Hope, Part 6: Dead & Undead

Even across the sea on the mainland, Undead are one of the few types of monsters the civilizations of Asila have not be able to stamp out, although not for lack of trying.  The simple fact is, even if every zombie, skeleton, ghost and their kin were to pass into the next world tomorrow, more people would die with regrets binding them to this world, and more secret cabals of vile necromancers would continue to practice and pass on their black arts.

The untamed land across the sea, the Gulf region included, provides amble opportunities for these conspiracies to operate away from prying eyes of the authorities, and if a few people in some remote town go missing while walking in the woods, well, that won’t raise the eyebrows of many people outside that village, at least not before it is too late.  Ad to that the ancient ruins and still active curses of lost tombs and the living dead are still alive and well (so to speak) in the Gulf.

The Dead

In general, the dead fall into a few categories, which speak more to the nature of the creature than what specific kind it is.  In fact, in some cases, a creatures of the same kind might fall into separate categories, a Skeleton, for example might be considered Vengeful Dead if it is animated by its spirits desire to protect its own tomb, or a Enslaved Dead if under the power of a Necromancer.

Saint-Heroes

It is actually a matter of theological debate among the Way if the some or even all of Saint-Heroes ever actually died or not.  On one extreme, some factions believe that all true Saint-Heroes ascended to the next world while still living, even those that supposedly died as martyrs actually ascended to the Heavens just before their supposed death, on the other end, there is a group that believes that Saint-Heroes are only recognized as such after their normal, human, death.  Regardless, the spirits of Saint Heroes are said to reside in the next world, and it is by their power that clerics are granted their miracles.

The Sanctified Dead

Those that have died and have been given proper funeral rites.  Many believe the spirits of the Sanctified dead are guided into the next world during the last days of winter.  A proper funeral eases the regrets of a troubled spirit, making it much less likely they will return to haunt the living.  While most corpses in the Gulf are cremated, even those that are buried in the ground will be more difficult for a Necromancer to raise.

The Unsanctified Dead

Those that have died and not been given proper funeral rites.  Without final rites to ease their bitterness and resentment, many such spirits will bear grudges against the living, and find it difficult to move on to the next world.  Even among those that do not become vengeful spirits, corpses dropped in a ditch by the side of the road are both magically and logistically easy for a Necromancer to obtain and use.

The Vengeful Dead

The vengeful dead are spirits who are either unable to find peace in the next world, or whose rest has been disturbed by the living.  The vengeful are driven by their own powerful emotions from life, and sometimes aided by some curses crafted either by them in life, or those who prepared their tomb, in fact, a tomb designed to use its willing dead to punish transgressors are one of the few times it is EASIER to raise a properly buried corpse.  Weaker Vengeful Dead such as Tomb Guardians, but stronger Vengeful Dead will merely reform if they are not properly banished or the source of their regrets is not resolved.

The Enslaved Dead

The Enslaved Dead are those given unlife by to be bound into another’s service, all of these poor creatures have had their spirits bound by their creator, leaving them in spiritual agony until freed.  For this reason, even those who seek to animate the dead for the most helpful reasons (such as to do manual labor and not terrorize villagers) are often reviled by socity at large and banned by almost every sect of The Way.

While most of these undead servants, are brought forth by living Necromancers, certain other types of Undead are capable of creating minions of their own to serve them.  Most of the enslaved dead can merely be physically destroyed, although some powerful necromancers can even call forth incorporeal spirits to serve them which must be banished purely because physical attacks have little effect.

The Hungry Dead

The Hungry Dead are driven by a compulsion, exactly what this compulsion is varies depending on the exact time, but the Hungry dead differentiate themselves from the Vengeful dead in that this compulsion is unrelated to their unresolved emotions from life.  Most often, as the name implies, the compulsion is a desire to feed on the living.  The Hungry Dead can be intelligent, such as in the case of Vampires, or mindless beings ruled by their hunger such as the case of Ghouls, but either way the compulsion is irresistible.

While a human with good enough reason and willpower could chose to starve themselves to death, but a vampire, no matter how strong of will, how ancient, or how powerful, will always give in to the craving eventually even if it requires losing their sanity and becoming a blood-starved beast in the process.  In most cases, these Undead are created by Hungry Dead feeding on the living, with the corpses of victims joining their ranks, in others, they are most often created by Necromancers seeking to bolster their forces, which then almost inevitably break free of their control.

The Cursed Dead

The Cursed Dead often straddle the line between all three of the other categories of Undead.  Many are, in some sense, created and bound by another, many times this is because of something that they did in life, and many have a compulsion that they can not resist as part of their curse.  These undead are the result of some vile act by the living often vile in nature, that catches the attention of a powerful entity.  A deal with a devil, a betrayal of a sacred vow, the murder of a protected innocent, are all common themes.  For this, they are punished, forever barred from the next world, their bodies and spirits bound by the weight of their act.

They often retain somewhat of a will, just enough that they can remember what got them to this place in the first place, but they are often twisted and corrupted by the weight of their sin, and are further often compelled to partake in some ironic punishment or reminder of their misdeeds.  If the entity that created them is powerful enough, often not even their destruction or banishment will release them from their hell on earth, as their judge will just reform them to continue their punishment.  Perhaps most ironically, most of the Cursed Dead DO have a way to find peace, some atonement they can perform that will release them from the curse, yet it is almost always something so deeply related to their sin and the flaw that caused it, the Cursed Dead will never find peace on their own.

There are two notable sub variants of the Cursed Dead, The Sacred Undead, and the Lich.  Both of which, along with some mechanical rules for providing funerals for your fallen comrades, will be discussed in tomorrow’s post.


Current PaDC score: 18/31

Triforcebearer: Traits and Hometowns

 

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Still got the Sheikah Stock and Class to do in terms of playable character, but I figured I would mix things up if I was going to do two Triforcebearer things two days in a row, so today we’re talking about hometowns and their respective traits.  The towns chosen in this were lifted from BotW, and the map of Hyrule itself can changed from game to game, so feel free to modify these for the era you want to run.


Not long ago, Hyrule was a great and prosperous kingdom, blessed by the goddesses, and ruled by noble line descended from the Goddess Hylia.  Until the day the Calamity came, bringing with it hordes of monsters and corrupting the ancient defenses and divine beasts.  Now, many have fortified themselves in their ancient ancestral homes, and all travelers must be wary for beasts and servants of the Calamity could be upon them at any moment, still, some all adventurers are from somewhere, and what follows is a list of notable towns in post-Calamity Hyrule:

New Towns

Only new traits are described below, traits marked with a single asterisk (*) are from the core rules, while traits with a double asterisk (**) are from Middarmark (But if you do not have access to Middarmark they are fairly self-explanatory).

Gerudo Town (Women only) Built around an oasis in the Gerudo desert, Gerudo village is a city that only allows in women, and the tough Gerudo guards are more than happy to enforce this ban.  Voe (male) guests seeking to do business typically have to settle for the nearby Kara Kara Bazaar, although, rumors say that the right outfit can work wonders…

    • Skills:Survivalist, Laborer, Pathfinder
    • Traits: Desert Flower, Fierce**
    • Haggler Obstacle: 3
    • Alignment: Chaos

Goron City Carved into and built on the Rock of Death Mountain, the Goron’s home is a sturdy one frequently rocked by earthquakes and other dangers of the Aptly named volcano’s activity.

    • Skills: Armorer, Stonemason, Haggler
    • Traits: Industrious**, Stubborn**
    • Haggler Obstacle: 2
    • Alignment: Unaffiliated

Hateno Village The largest Hylian settlement in the wake of the Calamity, Hateno maintains relative peace due to its distance from central Hyrule and its defensible location.  It is also home to the Hateno Ancient tech lab, one of the foremost research facilities (as far as that goes post Calamity) on ancient Hyrule

    • Skills: Weaver, Scholar, Lore Master
    • Traits: Obsessive, Generous*
    • Haggler Obstacle: 4
    • Alignment: Unaffiliated

Kakariko Village The home of the Sheikah, Kakariko village has moved many times throughout its history.  Nowadays, many Sheikah merely live out their lives working the land, but Kakariko is still a place of ancient tradition and duty.

    • Skills: Scout, Peasant, Theologian
    • Traits: Quiet*, Rough Hands*
    • Haggler Obstacle: 5
    • Alignment: Law

Lurelin Village A small fishing village in southeast Hyrule, strong southern winds provide Lurelin with a hot, humid climb compared to the rest of the region.  The people there live simple lives, just trying to get by and find joy where they can in the age of the Calamity.

    • Skills: Sailor, Peasant, Scavenger
    • Traits: Sea Salt, Stoic*
    • Haggler Obstacle: 3
    • Alignment: Unaffiliated

Rito Village Perched on a high rock on a lake in Northwestern Hyrule, Rito village is no place for one with a fear of heights.  Blessed with superb air currents and updrafts conductive to flying, the Rito can navigate the multi-level structure with ease.  Ground bound visitors and residents will instead get quite a workout climbing up and down the many staircases that connect one level to the next.

    • Skills: Hunter, Cartargopher, Pathfinder
    • Traits: Fearless*, Aloof
    • Haggler Obstacle: 3
    • Alignment: Unaffiliated

Zora’s Domain Sometimes said to be the headwaters of all of Hyrule, Zora’s Domain is the beautiful home of the Zora built right on top of the water.  The pure clean waters are renowned for their medical properties and it is a great place to practice your swimming.

    • Skills: Dungeoneer, Healer, Sailor
    • Traits: Thoughtful*, Clean
    • Haggler Obstacle: 4
    • Alignment: Law

New Traits:

  • Aloof: Some people just seem like they are above it all, this detachment can help keep them sane and calm in otherwise draining situations, but it isn’t likely to make them very many friends.
  • Clean: Going above and beyond in terms of hygiene and healthy food and drink can lead to a healthy body and mind.  On the other hand, they might not have quite developed the iron stomach needed to chow down on what adventurers call food, or deal with the very unhygienic places found underground.
  • Desert Flower: Skin tanned from the heat of the Gerudo Desert, some find it easy to have fun in the sun and know how to get along in hot or dry conditions, while the heat doesn’t seem to bother them, these desert adapted folks tend not to get along well in the cold.
  • Obsessive:  When some people set their mind to something, there can be no stopping them, not even sleeping until they accomplish their great work.  This great obsession can sometimes lead to them pulling off amazing feats, but can also blind them to any potential consequences.
  • Sea Salt: Some find themselves at home on the sea, they know how to read the currents, tie a knot, and don’t get seasick.  Still, when they turn to a life of adventuring, they may find that life above the water doesn’t really prepare them for life below ground.

Current PaDC score: 17/31

Triforcebearer: Rito Bard

 

553px-triforce-svg

Before I go into the bard, I want to talk briefly about about song magic and the Bard (And, since it is my blog, I get to talk about what I want).  Most of these stock/classes for Torchbearer are based on prominent NPCs of that stock, often from Breath of the Wild.  For example, the Gerudo were based on Ganondorf, Twinrova, and Urbosa, all of which had some combination of martial and magical might, and the forthcoming Sheikah are based on Sheik (an arch-typical example despite being a Hylian) and the various incarnations of Impa.  For the Rito, my choice of iconic Rito (while there are several other named Rito in the games they appear in) were Medli, Revali, and Kass.  Medli and Kass were both musicians and although Revali was not, I figured I could take the bardic theme and incorporate a few bits of archery into it.

My initial draft of the Rito Bard just took certain Zelda songs, made them level up abilities, and called it a day.  This isn’t a terrible idea, and ultimately is basically what this draft of the Bard does. I hope that this produces a character that kind of gets the feeling of some of the musical songs found throughout the series… for the Bard.  Still, I felt like these magical songs should be something anyone can use, and could be given out like a magic item in loot, like how songs could be rewards for quests in some of the games.  But I wanted a system that:

  1. Felt right and Zelda-like and fit with the lore
  2. Felt right with the torchbearer limited resource/inventory economy
  3. Did not make the Bard feel redundant when anyone could do their main thing

Ultimately, the best I was able to come up with was to leave the Bard mostly as is (although I decided to throw in a lot more song abilities and let the bard choose to mix it up), and to just give out magical instruments that have a singly or limited amount of songs available to them (ideally not from the Bard’s ability list).  Treating them as you would any magic item or wand.  Maybe that’s the ideal solution after all, but I’ll keep thinking on it.  Ideally I would like a unified mechanic, so we’ll see if I ever revisit this later.  As no matter what I do that’ll involve changes to the Rito class, if I come up with something cool that satisfies points 1 and 2, but not really point 3, I’ll also consider reworking the Rio concept into something else entirely.  For now though, I believe I have something that works and is a playable, fun class. This one got really long, so click here to see the class and song abilities

Potion Properties in the Gulf

Torchbearer, like many fantasy games of its kind, contains magical potions that the player characters can find in these ancient ruins.  These potions might be quite unlike the potions brewed by alchemists today, and identifying them by inspection can be difficult.  In Torchbearer, one can sip a potion to learn its effects without risk of consuming it, however, if the potion is poisoned/cursed the negative effects kick in even from the single sip.  Therefore, for my purposes in the Gulf, I need descriptions for the potions based on what one could examine without tasting.

Potions of the same type by the same potion manufacture will have identical properties, potions of the same type from the same era/school of alchemy will be similar, but not identical.  On the other hand, potions of the same type from different eras/schools of alchemy can be very different, and potions of different types from different eras can ALSO be similar to other potions from other eras.  The containers are not listed here because they are not properties of the potion itself, although they can help identify when and where the potion was made (assuming the potion is in its original container).

The contents of the bottle seems to (1d10):

  1. Stain the bottle (and anything it gets on)
  2. Easily Separate (Roll twice for color and transparency)
  3. Be Constantly Glowing (although not in a sufficient amount to be a light source)
  4. Be Multi-colored (Roll twice for color, once for transparency)
  5. Be Fizzy
  6. Be a Gelatinous substance instead of fluid
  7. Be a Powder instead of fluid
  8. Flow like honey
  9. Flow upwards
  10. Contains numerous suspended particles

The substance itself is a (roll 1d3 for transparency and 1d12 for color unless description above specifies otherwise)…

  • Transparency
    1. Transparent
    2. Cloudy
    3. Opaque
  • Color
    1. Red
    2. Pink
    3. Orange
    4. Yellow
    5. Neon Green
    6. Dark Green
    7. Teal
    8. Dark Blue
    9. Purple
    10. White
    11. Black
    12. Brown

And smells…

  1. Earthy
  2. Metallic
  3. Of fresh berries
  4. Like rotting flesh
  5. Like roasting meat
  6. Like blood
  7. Acidic
  8. Of ozone
  9. Like fresh baked bread
  10. Like a fine wine
  11. Like bad wine
  12. Like Coffee
  13. Like freshly fallen rain
  14. Of sewage
  15. Salty like a sea breeze
  16. Like wildflowers
  17. Of animal musk
  18. Of sweat
  19. Of tobacco
  20. Like strong cologne/perfume

Might come back to potions and consider some miscibility rules in the future, but the description table will do for now.


Current PaDC score: 15/31

 

 

 

BW Campaign Idea: The King’s Crown

“Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”
-Dennis the Peasant, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (but you knew that)

The horrible thing about role-playing games is that, no matter how many you are in or running at a given time, you keep coming up with ideas for more that you also wish you could be running.  If there is something I think is really neat in Burning Wheel, it is campaigns that start with Player Characters in situations they, the characters, not the players, are NOT ready for and let them learn some new skills and dig themselves deeper for a while before they pull themselves out of it.  Add that in with my latest urge which is the idea of running a nation/kingdom building game in Burning Wheel, and my mind goes to something along the lines of a certain sword in a stone.  Still, I am not quite sure if calling this idea Arthurian or not is quite correct, as I think part of the fun of Burning Wheel and nation building in general is choosing the values that you will uphold or sacrifice in the process, which may not align with the classic legends of knights of the round.


This land was once a great kingdom, or so the stories tell.  Bountiful, just, and good, ruled by a wise line of kings and queens who were faithful to the people and the land.  For a time, there was peace.

But such a peace can not last forever.

In a far away place, a great evil came into this world, and Sirus, the Last King, heard the call of Almighty God in his heart, and knew he must set out to right it.

Yet Sirus has no heir,  no siblings, and none to carry his name.  The people despaired, for none knew what they would do without their king.

“I shall return.” He told them “Although you may not know me when I do.”  He removed his crown and handed it to the great priest of the land “My crown shall slip from the head of all who are unworthy.  And you shall know me by my right to wear it.”

With that, he rode off, along with his most trusted companions, never to be seen again in this life.

Ages have passed.  Our once great kingdom now but a shell of its former self.  A few counts and barons honor the old ways, but many are little better than warlords or thieves.  Our Kingdom is no more, and now we fight over its remains…


Now… A young peasant found an old crown in the ruins of an old temple outside their home.  It sits perfectly balanced on their head, refusing to topple from even some violent jostling, but will remain on the head of no other.  Rumors have spread, and those who suffer under the current system welcome the return of Sirus Reborn, while those who benefit under it seek to discredit or find a way to exploit the situation.  You play the young destined ruler and their most trusted mentors and advisors.  Right now your entourage is small and your numbers few, but if you can rally the peasants, and forge alliances, earn fealty, or conquer the neighboring nobles, the kingdom might once again return to the glory days of yore.

PCs and Beliefs

The PCs in this are the young peasant who is being called Sirus Reborn, and their trusted advisors.  In my head, this game would be one player as Sirus and two players playing advisors, if all players would prefer to be equal, the young ruler can easily be an NPC.  While there is only one destined ruler, there is no real limit on the number of advisers, although I suggest that each of them have their own niche (a magic user, a noble, a knight, a merchant, etc).

Sirus Reborn

If you are truly a reincarnation, a worthy successor, or this is all just a big coincidence is a mystery even to you.  What you do know, is that the crown you found can be worn by none other than you, and many say that makes you the rightful ruler of this land.  The gender of this character, and whether that makes them more or less qualified in the eyes of the present culture, are free to be worked out between the player and GM.

  • Make a 2 or 3 Lifepath Character, you may not be born noble or city born
  • Take the bonus Trait “Sirus Reborn?” This trait grants you the ability to wear the crown, and also grants you a 3d reputation which is famous among those sworn to you and the peasantry, infamous among your enemies in the gentry
  • Take the Crown without paying any RP for it, aside from how well it stays on your, and only your, head, you do not know of any magical properties of it.
  • Write your beliefs:
    • Write a belief about your new destiny, do you intend to use your power to make the land a better place, do you seek comfort and power for you and yours, or do you resent this whole business and want it all to go away?
    • Write a belief about a problem this crown has brought you, what do you intend to do about it?
    • Write a belief about a problem from your old life that this rulership business has done nothing to resolve.

The Advisors

Whether you saw something in them before they even found the crown, wish to honor your ancient vows and duties, or merely wish get in on the ground floor of this rightful ruler business, you have pledged yourself to aiding the so-called Sirus Reborn.  You are older, wiser, and more skilled, but you are not the one in charge, guide them so they turn out to be ruler you know they can be.

  • Make an up to 6 lifepath character.  You may not take the Duke, Noble Prince, or Prince of the Blood lifepaths.
  • You should provide something to the party that is unique to your PC (be it magic, noble rank, wealth, business acumen, fighting skill)
  • You MAY take Loyal (to Sirus Reborn) as a bonus trait
  • Write your beliefs
    • Write a belief about the next step the ruler must take to get the country to recognize them as such, how will you help them?
    • Write a belief about another advisor, or if there are no others, write a belief about someone who has ill intent for the young ruler,
    • Write a belief about a personal problem, enemy, or grudge that will come to threaten the entire group by your involvement
    • Loyal (if taken): Write the oath you swore to Sirus Reborn when you pledged yourself to them as your belief.

I have no idea if/when I’ll have time to run a game like this between the other stuff I got going on, but it still might be a good thing to keep in the back pocket.


Current PaDC score: 14/31

SWN Luxury Hulls

I have a Stars Without Number sector I use as a backup for my Friday Night game when folks can’t make it.  While I might detail it in another post, in the starting part of the sector, I have a of wealthy patrons and enemies for the PCs, many of which might be able to afford star ships of their own.  Now, when I looked into creating luxury ships for these sorts, I found that, while the existing Luxury Cabin upgrade works pretty well as an upgrade to a non-luxury ship, it doesn’t really work with what I would think of when I want to know the stats of somebody’s private yacht.

These Hulls could probably stand a bit of tweaking for balance, but they should suit what I need them for just fine.


In all sectors, the rich and powerful like to travel in style, and some are even able to pay exorbitant amounts to do so.  While the upper class often will simply pay the rates for luxury cabin on a standard free merchant, the true elite will often desire at-will access to transport designed with their needs in mind.  These special hulls cost significantly more than typical civilian transport of equivalent class but take the cutting edge of TL4 tech to give the important passengers the highest standard of luxury.

Luxury Hulls typically will beat out civilian Hulls in terms of speed and survivability, but lose out to them when it comes for free space for additional fittings and hard points for weapons.  In addition, they are designed for comfort, not war, and typically lose out of military grade hulls in almost every category (sometimes even price). As such, these hulls typically only see use in peaceful systems/sectors, or are restricted to those wealthy enough to not only afford them, but a proper military grade escort as well.  When it comes to said comfort though, these ships are second to none, and superior in their comforts to ships which added Luxury Cabins as an aftermarket addition.

Hull Type Cost Speed Armor HP Crew AC Power Mass Hard Class
VIP Shuttle 2m 4 3 18 1 / 7 14 2 3 1 Fighter
Cruising Yacht 5m 3 6 30 1/12 14 7 10 1 Frigate
Royal Yacht 20m 1 10 50 15/60 11 10 15 1 Cruiser
Cruise Liner 50m -1 10 50 200 / 1200 30 30 2 Capital

VIP Shuttle: VIP shuttles are small ships, designed to ferry a small group of people from one planet or system to another and do so quickly.  These ships are often custom built for their exact purpose, those that have to make spike drills will often take the best spike drive available and build the entire shuttle around it, while those that are designed for in system flight will instead often opt to only take a system drive and spend the remaining space on defenses or luxuries.  Still others instead rely on the shuttle merely to contain their valuable occupant in comfort, and have a larger, fighting ship with a ship tender mount to deter pirates and make the spike drills. 3 of the cabins are luxury cabins, while the remaining 4 are for crew and personal assistants of the VIP in question. Owner pilots sometimes instead have 5 luxury cabins installed, ideal for trips to the moon with the family.

Cruising Yacht: Sometimes also called a Party Yacht, the Cruising Yacht is the most common of the Luxury ships in private individual ownership.  Cruising Yachts are mostly a status symbol, and rarely venture too far out from their planets of origin lest they stray too far away from the nearest protective military base.  Still, they do come equipped with Spike Drives standard, and can also fill the same niche as the VIP shuttle when a slightly larger group needs to be taken from one place to another.  The 12 cabins listed are all Luxury, although the life support actually allows up to 16 if some people are willing to double up.

Royal Yacht: Also called a Corporate Yacht in some sectors, Royal Yachts are very rarely seen in private ownership, although they are sometimes found in possession of a semi-retired Far Traders whom having already ‘made it’ are willing to trade the cargo space of a Heavy Freighter for the comforts this model provides.  Royal yachts exist to ferry not only VIPs, but their entire entourage (be it a corporate team or a noble’s court) along with the, which sometimes STILL mandates several extended life support upgrades for particularly large groups. In less peaceful systems, however, even heads of state will prefer a ship of war as their means of transport.  A quarter of all cabins are luxury, with the remainder being standard for crew, servants, and lesser attachés.

Cruise Liner: Practically a slow ship with a spike drive, the Cruise Liner runs at price of a Battleship, and there are very few entities in most sectors that can both afford to build one and also would prefer a Cruise Liner to a battleship.  Even when the Cruise Liner is run for its intended purpose, in practice the margins are often too tight to make it work, even if you can get away with charging more for the novelty. Still, in some highly regulated parts of space, it is useful as the only civilian capital class hull on the market.  The Maximum Crew listed assumes a 50/50 split of crew/standard cabins and Luxury Cabins, although most Cruise Liners are modular enough that this (and any cabins added as extended life support) can be modified at a 2 standard:1 Luxury ratio at no additional cost when done as part of the ship’s maintenance.  Further, some have attempted to use the Hull as the basis for a barge, the crew is reduced to 150/450 (all standard Cabins), and the Free mass increases to 75. There is no change to the price of the hull when buying this new, but converting from one configuration to the other aftermarket costs 10 million credits.


Current PaDC score: 13/31

Weather in the Gulf

Personally, I have an issue where most of my adventures take place on an unremarkable partly cloudy day.  I generally don’t even think about weather often enough when I really think it is something that should ALWAYS be considered when doing things out of doors.

Luckily for me, weather tables have been a thing in RPGs for quite a while, and Torchbearer even has its own weather table in the Middarmark campaign setting.  I could honestly PROBABLY use it as is, and it would fit the Gulf well enough, but I’ve decided to personalize the tables to be a bit more in like with my descriptions of the months I described way back when on the Saint’s Calendar.

Like Middarmark, this is a 3d6 system, modified by timing of the season.  I’m using a five tier system where the first section gets a -2 modifier to the roll, next gets a -1, next gets a 0, 2nd to last gets a +1, and the last section gets a +2.  This level of detail probably isn’t really needed and I likely could get by with just having a -1/0/+1 modifier assigned to each month, but the extra detail won’t hurt.

Space saving break due to lots of tables