Friday, June 29, 2012

[Nightwatch Campaign Settings] Class Decisions

Unlike traditional  fantasy settings, the difference between divine magic and arcane magic is little. Magic is primarily derived from drawing upon the Greyzone's power. Perhaps, the only distinction between the two types of magic is what the player character wishes to do.

Another major difference is whether spellcasters learn to draw magic through years of learning ( hence more prepatory spellcasting) or through instinct alone (i.e. spontaneous casters). For me, spellcasters in the setting seems to be more instinctive in nature.. Hence, i think I would go with spontaneous spellcasters.

Then there is a matter of what class is to be used. Urban Arcana and other d20 modern sourcebook gave us the Acolyte , Mage , Sorcerer and Mystic. But they were only Advanced classes. Plus Sorcerer and Mystic seems to be the only spontaneous class. Now, as I tend to play on varying levels, I think it may be prudent to have a base class that has spellcasting that complements the base classes.

Looking at the Advanced Class, I think it may be a good idea that Mage and Acolyte are still allowed. After all, the Others know how to instinctively tap into the Greyzone. How about the mundanes? Perhaps those with an interest in Occult may be able to tap into the Greyzone through hard work.

That makes a difference between prepared and spontaneous casters. Perhaps how they conduct the magic is the key difference. Spontanoeus casters may vary their casting and the motions of spellcasting may differ from one time to another. Prepared spellcasters aim to repeat the motion agains and again.

So that leaves the Sorecer and Mystic Advanced classes. Looking at the sorcerer, the class seems to assume a draconic heritage while mystic is OK in flavour and seems to imitate the acolyte a lot. Maybe, we could roll them into one class? Maybe we could substitute them using the base class.

For the base class, I am thinking that the class should be flexible to accomodate both arcane and divine spellcaster. We could make it generic and flexible. With some talent trees, players could have the freedom to create a spellcasters that they want.

As for the rest of the classes, I think the base class should not be modified. As for the Shadow Slayer Class,  it seems that they are mostly targeting Shadow Creatures. So should the Others be included as part of the Shadow? Since they are technically supernatural, including them may be a wise choice.

In conclusion, I think the d20 modern system should be able to hold the setting pretty well. The only difference is an addition of a base class that features spellcasting.

To answer:
What Class Do you allow?
What Class is forbidden
To introduce Spellcasting heroe

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[Nightwatch Campaign Setting] The World that we live in

The Others are individuals who can tap into the Greyzone. There is no explanation why some humans are Others but others are not. The Gift, as the ability to draw from the Greyzone is known, could appear in people with no Other parentage.

The Others are categorically divided into three kinds: Dhampirs, Shifters and the Awakened.

Using the Gift gave Others the opportunity to control other humans or to help their fellow mankind. A faction, the Light Others , sought to use their gifts to help while the Dark Others wanted to use it to satisfy their own selfish goals. This caused millennia of conflict and war.

The Shadow

However, the Others were not the only supernatural creature that is living amongst our world. In fact, there are many worlds outside of this plane. Like apartments in a building block, what separates one world from the next is a barrier. Sometimes, the walls between the worlds are so thin that something slips from one to another.

For millenniums , extraplanar creatures have arrived to Earth and made it their home. Some of these visitors were benign while others were not so kind. Earth was like a ripe fruit ready for harvest. The immense pool of energy offered by the Greyzone was likened to the sweet nectar drizzled on top.

When the Others first made contact with these visitors, they dubbed them the Shadow Creatures collectively. However, it seems that the Shadow Creatures were not from the same plane. Ancient enmity still exists amongst the different types of arrivals.

The Mundane

To most people, the world is a mundane place; ordinary, predictable, easily divided into categories. People generally walk around in a state that can fairly accurately be referred to as “autopilot.” They do not pay close attention to the people or things around them. 

Unless something odd or strange happens, most people interpret the world as a series of ordinary, explainable events and pay little or no attention to the details. But what about when something odd or strange does happen? Say, for example, that a person sees a gang of zombie on the rampage, or a ordinary man committing arson by breathing on an apartment building. Surely that person would notice that something odd was going on. Absolutely. But the minute the bizarre stimulus disappears, human nature takes over.

We are assured as children that monsters don’t exist. So even when someone sees a monster, he still doesn’t remember seeing a monster. In his mind’s eye he sees a “big dog” or a “large man” or a “blur at the edge of vision”—anything except a creature that he “knows” doesn’t exist. A magic fireball is remembered a gas leak. A werewolf becomes a howling drunkard. The easy answer completely papers over what really happened, and the world continues on, blissfully ordinary.

In the Nightwatch setting, we refer to the vast majority of people, who view the world through this self-generated veneer of normalcy, as “mundanes.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

[d20 modern] Introduction to the Nightwatch Universe

"You know how you were scared of the scary monsters when you were young. And then your parents came and reassure you that they do not exist. Well, boy. They do exist and i have the damn scars to prove it." - Fellowship Agent

The creature of the Shadow have lived amongst us for thousands of years. Preying on humanity, these unspeakable creatures attempts to drain the plane for all its immense resources.The only ones who could see these invaders as what they are is a group of human being known as the Others. But the continual struggle against Light and Dark has caused this defenders of humanity to weaken in power.

The Others are a group of human beings born with the ability to tap into what is known as the Greyzone. The Greyzone is a pool of magical energy that is flowing within the Nightwatch Earth. It is no secret that the Shadow Creatures view the Greyzone as the ultimate prize and they continually manipualte the unwary humans to this dark goal.
Born different from other human beings, the Others instinctively knows how to tap into the Greyzone to obtain minor supernatural abilities. To obtain more power from the Greyzone, the Others would have to enter into the Greyzone. Known as the Initiation, the Other would be utterly transformed by the experience.Depending on his mental state, the Other would choose between the Light and Dark. He would then choose what powers he choose.

This division of Light and Dark has always existed between the Others. The Light side wanted to use the abilities for the good of others while the Dark side wanted no such obligations. The Dark Others was determined that they should serve only themselves. For these ideals, the two sides clashed incessantly using whatever means available to them. The conflicts dimished the population of Others. Without a governing force,  the Shadow Creatures was able to gain more influence within the mortal world.

Knowing that the continuous battle would extinct the Others race, both side grudgingly reached a truce. They created the Grand Treaty which governs how the Others would use their powers. Both created the Fellowship, an organisation that consisted of both Light and Dark Others and used to police the supernatural influence of Earth.

Since the signing, both sides have watched each other and the Shadow vigilantly. The powerful within the Others have sought to use both humans and Others as pawns in their game to further their own goals.

Note: This is a d20 modern campaign that I have adapted from the excellent Night Watch novels of Sergei Lukyanenko . I have tried to mix some elements of Urban Arcana in to make it more fantasy like.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Brotherhood of Saint Traft

I was reading through the Daily MTG article when this one caught my eye. Particularly, I liked the mechanics behind the card. To me, the summoning of a creature as beautiful as an angel would be an awesome way to fight. So i have tried to convert Saint Traft as a divine Patron for Pathfinder Rules.

Brotherhood of Saint Traft
When criers brought news to the various town that the famed demon slayer was dead, many thought that this was another nail to the coffin for Innistraid. With Ashmouth unguarded, the people fear that the demons would come in hordes and would run amok the already doomed land. As despair descended upon the people, a group of clerics organised themselves in the name of Saint Traft. A priest named Marco had found the technique to call down the seraphs as Saint Traft had. Marco taught it to the Brotherhood and asked them to spread the word. The Brotherhood now runs around, teaching those who are strong in their faith the technique and avenging Saint Traft with each thrust of their sword.

Below are the archetype for the clerics that are in the Brotherhood:

Champion of Saint Traft
Calling upon celestial forces, the Champion of Saint Traft leads the charge against evil and vow to never rest until the last demon is killed.

Alignment: Any Good

Diminished Spellcasting:
A Champion of Saint Traft chooses one domain from his deity's list of domains and gains one fewer spell of each level than normal. If this reduces the number to 0, he may cast spells of that level only if they are domain spells or if his Wisdom allows bonus spells of that level.

Summon Celestial Forces:
Starting at 1st level, a Champion can cast summon monster II as a spell like ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier.At 6th level, and every 5 levels thereafter, the power of this ability increases by two spell level, allowing him to summon more powerful creatures (to a maximum of summon monster VIII at 16th level). At 19th level, this ability can be used as gate or summon monster IX. If used as gate, the Champion must pay any required material components. A summoner cannot have more than one summon monster or gate spell active in this way at one time. If this ability is used again, any existing summon monster or gate immediately ends. These summon spells are considered to be part of his spell list for the purposes of spell trigger and spell completion items. In addition, he can expend uses of this ability to fufill the construction requirements of any magic item he creates, so long as he can use this ability to cast the required spell.

This ability replaces Channeling.

 Sacred Summoning:
At Level 1, the Champion gains Sacred Summoning as a bonus feat

At level 5, the Champion gains Augment Summoning as a bonus feat. At level 15, the Champion gains Superior Summoning as a feat.

At level 10, the Champion's summon gains an additional +2 to Strength and Constitution. This is in addition to the bonus granted by Augment Summoning. At level 20, the bonus increases to +4.

The archetype i think could be used for different settings ( I think). I gave it a more summoning bent as several of my players have wanted to play such an archetype.Give me your comments on whether this is unbalanced or overpowered?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[Birthright Campaign] Frost in Halskapa: 1st scene

[Here is the summary of the 1st scene of my solo Birthright Campaign. As part of the Birthright rule, I had to do some housekeeping before the domain rounds ( which is the month-by-month event).

Firstly, the holding's attitudes had to be adjusted. After some dice rolling, most of the realms were determined to be indifferent except of Skapa Hjarring (the capital of Halskapa) , Dvasik ( the druid groves in which Ruis was raised).

Domains collection and expenses netted me 13 RP and 3 GB.

For the first scene, the event meaning was "Malice at home". So I took it to mean that someone had been spreading rumors about Ruis and set the scene.]

"Did you notice any weird behavior in the court today? Ruis asked Jalkar when they retreated to his chambers.

Just as Jalkar was about to answer, the door of the chamber opened when a man dressed in breastplate burst in. His coat of arms identified him to be a member of the Iron Guard, the king's personal guards. Behind the burly man, a mousy man chained up followed behind him. With a swift kick from the armored man, the prisoner fell onto his knees in front of Ruis.

"What's the matter, Aran?" Ruis addressed the Iron Guard.

"This filthy traitor," Aran said with another swift kick to the prisoner"Was spreading untrue rumors about the King"

[The unknown NPC attempts an Espionage Action as per the Birthright rules. He rolls a domain action check against the Law Holding to simulate trying to unseat Ruis' words. He rolled a 10. With the friendly attitude of Skarla Hjarring to Ruis, the enemy is penalized and the espionage action failed"

"He was telling the courtiers that the King had committed bloodtheft on his father and intend on running Halskapa to the ground. " Aran said.

"Is it true?" Ruis paced around the prisoner. Suddenly, Ruis stopped in front of the prisoner and stared into the prisoner's eyes. The prisoner suddenly displayed a visage of fear before he blinked.

"So that is what the false King is capable of?" The prisoner stammered.

[Ruis attempts to cower the prisoner into confessing. He used his blood ability of Divine Aura. As it functions like a fear spell, the prisoner rolls a Will Save of 20 (against the DC of 14). The prisoner is not cowered by the fearsome presence of Ruis]

Ruis smiled at the insult. Ruis waved off Jalkar and Aran outside of his chamber. After sometime, Ruis came out of the chamber.

[ As magical means are usless, Ruis decides to interrogate the prisoner. Therefore, i chose to play it as a skill challenge. Setting the DC at  20 ( for a moderate skill), Ruis decides to use his bluff skill to trick the prisoner to reveal his secret. Ruis needs to roll 6 times and must get 3 success before 3 failure has occured. I rolled 21, 28, 32, 18. A success! This meant that Ruis was able to convince the prisoner to blurt out the information by surprise. Turns out the prisoner knows the person who hired him and it is someone Ruis recognises."]

" Arrest the Jinnis, the proxy for Sketa(the jarl of Aandvjor). The prisoner has confessed that he was the one responsible."

[ Now that Ruis has found the enemy, he is ready for his next domain action. I rolled a 13. As I consult the charts, I gave a curse. There is a Great Captain/ Heresy event that signifies a rebellion. Since the scene ended with the proxy, Sketa provokes a war against Ruis over the state of Aandjvor and declares herself an independent state. And so, the next scene would continue as Ruis starts his rule with a bang]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

[Birthright] Frost in Halskapa


Returning from the newly formed Siren Realm, Bervinig brought home an infant and named him Ruis. As Ruis grew up, his steely eyes and hawk like feature leave no one in doubt of his father. Of the boy's mother, he has never uttered a word.

Blessed with a voice, Ruis grew to be a favorite among the court of Skapa Hjarring. However wonderful his performance, Bervinig never smiled once. As Bervining's sanity lapsed, the frown on Bervinig grew deeper and deeper. Eventually, when Ruis reached the age of twelve, Bervinig decided to send Ruis to the Oaken Grove. That move shocked and worried the closest allies of the king. The tradition was that no priests of Erik could rule and Bervinig had no heir. But Bervinig was stubborn in his decision.

So Ruis was sent to Oaken Grove. In there, Ruis blossomed and grew to understand more about the lands of Rjurik. The struggles of the provincial jarl was not his concern. Oaken Grove was his life now.

But the land of Halskapa was determined to name her own heir. When Bervinig died, his bloodline was given to Ruis. Ruis was now the king.

Stats is here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

[Birthright campaign] Frost in Halskapa: Ruis, Unwilling King

For the Halskapa campaign, I would be going with a druidic build for my PC. Below is his build. Story and background would be posted tomorrow!

Ruis, Unwilling King

Male human Bard 2/ Druid(Deadly Hunter)* 3
NG Medium humanoid
<<Init >> +1 ; <<Senses>> Perception +14
<<AC>> 17, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+1 dex, +4 bonus, +2 armor bonus)
<<hp>> 28 (5d8)
<<Fort>> +3, <<Ref>> +5, <<Will>> +10
<<Defensive Abilities>> Well-Versed
<<Spd>> 40 ft/x4
<<Ranged>> Mwk Shortbow +5 1d6 20/x3

<<Str>> 10, <<Dex>> 12, <<Con>> 10, <<Int>> 12, <<Wis>> 18,  <<Cha>> 14.
<<Bloodline>> 30 ( 26 before bloodline inheritance), Reynir, Great
<<Blood Abilities>> Divine Aura (Great), Healing (Major), Bloodmark
<<Base Atk>> +3, <<Cmb>> +3<<Cmd>> +14
<<Feats>> Augment Summoning (PFCR 118), Spell Focus (Conjuration) (PFCR 134), Track
<<Skills>> Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (nature) +12, Linguistics +9, Perception +14, Perform (sing) +10, Sleight of Hand +8, Spellcraft +9, Survival +14
<<Languages>> Celestial, Common, Draconic, Druidic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome
<<SQ>> Nature Bond, Trackless Step, Woodland Stride
<<Combat Gear>> Mwk Shortbow
<<Other Gear>> Bracers of Armor +2
<<Class Abilities>> • BARD CANTRIPS: The bard can cast known 0-level spells without limit. (PFCR 38).
• BARD SPELLS: Arcane spells drawn from the bard spell list. Spontaneous caster. Every bard spell has a verbal component (singing, reciting, or music). (PFCR 35).
• BARD WEAPONS AND ARMOR: All simple weapons, longsword, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, and whip, light armor and shields (except tower shields). No arcane spell failure in light armor. (PFCR 35).
• BARDIC KNOWLEDGE: You add +1 to all Knowledge skill checks and may make such checks untrained. (PFCR 35).
• BARDIC PERFORMANCE: Use the Perform skill to create magical effects for 8 rounds. Standard action to start, a free action each round to maintain. Only one performance at a time.  The targets must be able to perceive the performance. A deaf bard fails audible performances 20% of the time, blindness causes visual performance failure 50% of the time.  Failed checks count against round limit.
     - Countersong (Su): Counters magical effects that depend on sound within 30 ft.  Creatures use the bard’s Perform check result in place of its saving throw each round countersong is active. (PFCR 36).
     - Distraction (Su): Counters magical effects that depend on sight within 30 ft.  Creatures use the bard’s Perform check result in place of its saving throw each round countersong is active. (PFCR 36-37).
     - Fascinate (Sp): Works on one creature (+1 per 3 levels after 1st) within 90 ft able to see and hear the bard, and able to pay attention to him (i.e., in no danger). The bard must also be able to see the creature. The creature makes a Will save (vs.10 + 1/2 Bard's Level + Bard's Cha mod). A creature that attempts a save is immune for 24 hours. If it fails, the creature sits quietly and listens, for as long as the bard continues to maintain and takes -4 on skill checks like Perception. (PFCR 37).
     - Inspire Courage (Su): +1 (+2 at 5th, +3 at 11th, +4 at 17th) morale bonus on saves vs. charm and fear and competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls to allies who can hear.   Mind-affecting. (PFCR 37). (PFCR 35-38).
• DRUID BONUS LANGUAGES: A Druid automatically knows Druidic, and may choose Sylvan as a bonus language. (PFCR 50).
• DRUID ORISONS: Druids can prepare a number of orisons, or 0-level spells, each day. They can cast these spells at will as a spell-like ability. (PFCR 49).
• DRUID SPELLS: A druid casts divine spells, which are drawn from the druid spell list. Her alignment may restrict her from casting certain spells opposed to her moral or ethical beliefs. DC for a saving throw against a druid’s spell is 10 + the spell level + Wisdom modifier. (PFCR 49).
• DRUID SPONTANEOUS CASTING: A druid can channel stored spell energy into summoning spells that she hasn’t prepared ahead of time. She can “lose” a prepared spell in order to cast any summon nature’s ally spell of the same level or lower. (PFCR 49).
• DRUID WEAPONS AND ARMOR: Weapons: club, dagger, dart, quarterstaff, scimitar, scythe, sickle, shortspear, sling, and spear, all natural attacks (claw, bite, and so forth) of any form they assume with wild  shape. Armor: light and medium armor (but no metal armor); shields (except tower shields) but wooden only. (PFCR 49).
• FORBIDDEN SPELL ALIGNMENT: Spells with the Evil descriptor are forbidden by your alignment. (PFCR 41, 49).
• NATURE BOND (Domain Powers - Animal (Feather)): You have chosen the Animal (Feather) domain.  [PFAPG 90]
 - Eyes of the Hawk (Ex): You gain a +2 racial bonus on Perception. In addition, if you can act during a surprise round, you receive a +2 racial bonus on your Initiative check. [PFAPG 90]
 (PFCR 50).
• NATURE SENSE: A druid gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks. (PFCR 50).
• TRACKLESS STEP: You leave no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. You may choose to leave a trail if so desired. (PFCR 51).
• VERSATILE PERFORMANCE: You can substitute your bonus in a performance skill for related skills.  You are versatile in Sing.  This gives you the following skill bonus replacements: Bluff +10, Sense Motive +10. (PFCR 38).
• WELL-VERSED: The bard has a +4 save bonus vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent abilities. (PFCR 38).
• WOODLAND STRIDE: You may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at your normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion still affect you. (PFCR 51).
• AC BONUS: Add +4 to AC and CMD when unarmored and unencumbered. Apply vs. touch attacks and when flat-footed. (PFCR 57).
• EVASION: Take no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, and only half damage on a failed save. Must be in light armor or no armor and not helpless. (PFCR 68).
* Deadly Hunter
Adapted from Unearthed Arcana
Gains: Bonus to Armor Class when unarmored, fast movement, Evasion
Lose: Armor and shield proficiency, Wild shape (all versions)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[Birthright campaign] Frost in Halskapa: Prologue

Ruis stared blankly at the cauldron as it bubbles with the mixture of ivy leaves and vinegar. Today was the celebration of Gort. Druids have gathered to Odenmark for the ceremonies. Even now, Ruis could hear them chanting prayers to Erik.

Ruis frowned at his red shirt. He could not wait for the day when he would be granted his own gray robes. Then he would be joining them in their prayers. Lost in his thoughts, he did not notice the colorfully dressed man standing behind.

"Ruis?" the man said, "Be careful it doesn't boil over".

Ruis gave a yelp at the voice. When he turned around, he gave the man a vigorous hug. "Uncle Jalkar, how have you been?"

Jalkar gave Ruis a stare. "He has been slipping in and out of his fugue these few years and it has been getting worse."

"Yeah yeah." Ruis said tersely, his eyes concentrating on the cauldron.

"He is your father after all and -"

"Look, uncle Jalkar-" Just as Ruis was about to interrupt, the sounds of a storm came thundering through. Before Ruis could say another word, a swirl of green energy enveloped him from the ground. As the energy ran all over Ruis' body and disappeared, his eyes had an eerie green shine. The land of Halskapa felt like an extension of his body. For that moment, he could not differentiate between his body and the land. As he forced himself to reality, he saw Jalkar's eyes streamed with tears. Jalkar kneeled in front of Louis.

"Long live the High Jarl of Halskapa!"

I am starting to run a Birthright campaign with the Mythic GM emulator. Above is the prologue. More deets on the next post

Friday, June 1, 2012

DnD Playtest 2

Digging Deep into the character's psyche
No doubt a big part of character creation is the background and personality of a character. Given the same build, no two players could play a character the same way. A rogue could be sneaky and sullen or charming and sarcastic. Even the background could make a difference in a game. The same rogue may be a noble scion or a street rat.

In this manner, many games have implemented mechanics in which background and personality would affect the game. It could be as minor as the Pathfinder Game where backgrounds and personality would mean a minor bonus in certain skills and feats. Or it could form a big part of the game like in Dresden Files in which backgrounds come in the form of aspects in which you could invoke to aid you in tasks or hinder you when the GM compels the aspects.

In playtest kit, these comes in the form of Background and Themes. This essentially acts like the traits in Pathfinder with a major difference. The background gives bonuses to skills while themes seems to give class features to the players as they level up. This meant that by selecting different class and theme, the powers that a player have is essentially different everytime. And I think this is what seems to be the customization theme that 5e seems to be pushing for.

Ability score reliance
For 3/3.5 e players, saving throws have essentially been more about the class than the ability score that complements it. As you level up, the bonuses given by the ability score modifier is less than what the class bonuses gives you. So a cleric with a low Constitution score of 10 could eventually outstrip a Wizard with a score of 20 in Constitution.

However, it seems that Wizards have focused more on ability score modifiers this time round. Gone are the BAB and skill points. Now, most of the rolls are ability score rolls.Want to hit a monster. Just roll you Strength Check with the relevant bonuses.Diplomacy checks? Just roll a d20 with the relevant skill modifier and Charisma. Even the saving throws are essentially ability score modifiers. No longer is there a Saving throw row like in DnD 3.5.

This meant that a more level playing ground between the different levels. A level 1 character may find it hard to hit a DC 25 while a level 20 character could do it in a blink of an eye. A level d20 wizard could wield a dagger more proficiently than a level 5 fighter. By doing this, the power difference between each level in mundane skills is reduced. Of course, this meant that the epic fantasy/ anime style that is inherent in high level play is gone.

For GM, the system is also a godsend. This meant that skill DC is now standardised and GM no longer have to worry about setting the correct DC for the player. But most importantly, for me, it allowed low level NPC to at least have a chance in either skill contest or letting players succumb to spells. For me, this meant that 5e is a more dangerous world and that is the style that suits me more for now.

I have left out mechanic like advantages and disadvantages but i think it has been well covered  by other RPG Bloggers.

Until Next time