Monday, December 15, 2014

AD&D Ritual Magic

Vancian magic is alive and well in the 10th Age, don't get me wrong. Nor do I have anything against it in any way. I love it, so let us not paint me as one of those folks who can't stand it or comprehend it. I actually think its a very sensible way to deal with a powerful force in a high fantasy setting. The question arises, what happens when you want to take that fantasy down a notch to an extremely low fantasy setting? Well, certainly you have to do something about wizards.

So here we are again. Rituals, the common ground of all those who try to "solve" the Vance question without resorting to the Hasboro Sorcerer Solution (which takes high magic into extraordinarily high magic). So what's the proposal for working ritual magic?

All rituals can be learned by any class, but they take time to learn. They are generally a list of instructions, difficult to accomplish. They can also include "magical words" in other languages (generally the languages of demons or gods) as well.

Rituals require a long time to learn, making the primary resource used up learning them the very time of your life. A ritual will generally take 3-12 months to master, but with a successful "learn spell" check, it will take 1/3rd that amount of time. This allows characters with higher intelligence to learn spells quicker.

You must have someone to learn a ritual from, generally a creepy old poisoner, sorcerer, or priest. Rituals are highly specific and few people know more than a handful.

Learning from a grimoire, tome, or papyrus takes double the normal amount of time. It also penalizes your learn spell roll by 5%.

The Charlatan Sorcerer
Thief Kit
Bonus: Start play with 1d4 rituals known. Also receive an extra ancient language for free.
Penalty: Your first hit die is only a d4 (or just 4 hp if you start level 1 with max hp). Further hit dice are d6s. You only get +30% to distribute to your thieving skills at level one. You can put all 30% in one if you like.

Pendant of the Eye
Time to learn: 3 months
This ritual creates a charm which will provide the wearer with a +1 bonus to all saving throws. The pendant must be crafted from lapis lazuli and fashioned in the shape of a Khorassus Eye of the East. The charm must be whispered the secret words for three nights and sprinkled with the blood of the caster. The magician cannot go to sleep during this entire period, requiring a constitution check to stay up. At the end of this time, a learn spell check is made. If it is successful, the amulet is created but the caster is drained and must recuperate for a week. This roll is increased by 10% if the caster crafted the amulet himself.

Taking Signs
Time to learn: 12 months
These are a class of divining ritual. Most require taking auguries from the intestines of an animal, but other types include casting of bones, etc. Complete focus and ritual purity are both required, which takes several hours. At the end of this time, the casting will display either generally favorable or unfavorable omens. At the DM's discretion, more information may be obtained.

Warding the Cup
Time to learn: 3 months
This ritual is a simple one to perform and requires the magician to carve a secret sign known from ancient days in Cedarland onto a drinking vessel. After this is done, the magician at once loses a temporary d4 points of CON (returning at the rate of one per hour). The vessel will shatter if poison is ever placed within it.

Holding the Door
Time to learn: 3 months
Similar to warding the cup—the same types of activity (carving a secret sign) and penalty (loss of d4 CON) except the target must be a door of wood. Once that door is shut and barred, it will hold fast and no key will open it until the next sunrise.

Powder of Slumber
Time to learn: 6 months
This is actually a potent poison that can knock out a man-sized target when applied in the proper doses. It must be prepared from juice of the poppy and powdered hops. The correct preparation will create a powder which can be used to dose food or drink or a liquid which can be administered. In a half dosage, the target must make a save vs. death or fall asleep for 1d4+1 hours. In a regular dosage, the target must make a system shock check or die; if they succeed, they will be knocked out for 1d6+1 hours. In any dosage larger than this, the target must make a save vs. death or die.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Simple System for Servile Rumors

What? This is my simple and easy way to determine how the Ironbreakers (and any other party like it that has a home staffed with servants) hear rumors. Of course, there's always the normal rumor mill: going to a tavern and chatting with locals hardly ever fails. However, since the Ironbreakers have a staff now and a house, it is likely that they can get rumors from many places at once. Indeed, even the smallest household begins to resemble a ring of spies.

Determine City Sections and/or Jobs
In a huge city like Miles, servants are likely to go and visit the same sections over and over; there will be one in charge of purchasing all the wine, for example, and another in charge of going to the fishmarket each morning to see what the catch is.

The next step is to determine what kind of things gets talked about in each area and how likely it is that a servant will hear a juicy new bit of gossip there.

Flesh out News Type
Grainmarket -- 1 in 4 chance/week
The grainmarket receives shipments from Khewed and Colona, making it a hotbed of news from overseas. This includes updates from Ninfa, the East, Chimeron and High Aellon, as well as places in the south like Ralashar. It is the city's primary international marketplace.

Then I list 10 rumors current for the month, and viola! Any servants attending the grainmarket have a chance to hear one of them.

EDIT: This is, of course to be complimented with the Greyhawk Grognard's lovely Rumor Epidemiology chart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Taking the Magic out of Birthright

I've been gone for a while. I don't know if I'll be back any time soon. Law school has encompassed my entire life, essentially swallowing everything that's not law up. I've had time to run games, but barely. Absolutely no time for posting blogs.

Birthright is already a low-magic setting, so what the hell could I be talking about? I'm discussing lifting the rules for realm governance up out of Birthright, stripping them of their magical-feudalism, and making them useable

Major Changes to the Bloodline Rules

Bloodline now represents legitimacy. Rather than the mysterious purity of a divine bloodline, this score is now known as Legitimacy. This represents the perceived right of the regent to his position. Legitimacy can be degraded by alienation of territories, major losses in war, etc.

Regency points now represent political capital. Instead of a magic bond to the land, RP is a mechanic to represent the accruing of legitimacy and the various little enterprises that give a lord favors to call in, authority to flex, and power to exercise.

Loss of Territory. Loss of territory in war directly affects legitimacy; a lord's legitimacy degrades by 1 point for every rank of the province lost.

War. Regency points are gained or lost in large battles. Massive defeats may affect a character's permanent legitimacy.

Proclaiming a Successor. When a lord proclaims an adult successor, he grants that successor 1/2 of all his banked regency points.

Passing the Torch. When a lord no longer wishes to rule and passes his power on to his chosen heir, he loses 2/3rds of his permanent Legitimacy, which is gained by his heir. This must be accompanied by a public ceremony of investiture.

Alienation from territories. Each month that a regent has none of his basic holdings (provinces or law for fighters, temples for priests, etc.) their Legitimacy score is degraded by 10%.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Training Day

I've been playing with training times a little in my games, always treading the line between forcing too much downtime between adventures and forcing too many potential adventures that are ticking away and getting worse (or better) on their own. The current state of affairs in the campaign is that characters require one night of rest in a town or other defended position (8 hours) in order to gain the benefits of levelling up (no resting and gaining hp in the dungeon).

Now we're here to talk of training and acquiring new WPs and NWPs. My rule in the past has been that 1 month of uninterrupted training time will grant any WP (3 months of attenuated "every night but also adventuring" time will grant it) while 3/6 months for NWPs is the norm. However, I'm thinking of approaching this from an entirely different stance.

The new rule, effective as of now (I'll let everyone know if the results are catastrophic) shall be based on hourly quotas.

Weapon Proficiencies: Must accumulate 6 months of general use OR 60 hours of training with some other character who knows how to use the weapon.

Non-weapon proficiencies: Must accumulate 120 hours of training with some other character who knows the skill sought or 240 hours of experimentation on the character's lonesome. Language skills can never be learned without a teacher.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

News of Arunia, Festing 506

A great battle has been fought in the Hammerdeep Vale of Auruxol. Hundreds of orcs lie dead, joined by many dwarves and leveemen from the imperial heartland. The Imperial Oculus, Hydrophis Schoolman, in command of the relief forces dispatched by Miles has made use of a cunning strategy to draw the orcish foe out of the mountains. Two hundred or more of these foul beasts came ravaging through the countryside on the evening of the 15th of Festing. While the rest of the empire celebrated the Summerfeast, Hammerdeep frantically prepared to receive their guests.

The orcs, led by the worg-mounted chieftain Azok, launched an all-out assault on the town of Cardun, home to both dwarves and men. The Ironbreaker serjant, Sieur Lucian Martel (Lucanus Martellus in Varan), raced to Hammerval to summon the dwarven militia and instruct the Knights of Miles to garrison themselves in the town. When the orcs came howling out of the mountains, burning and thieving as they went, it was only to meet the combined arms of thirty knights, alongside the famous Knight Militant, Sieur Thetis.

As the Knights of Miles twice attempted to throw back the orcs, the Hammerval militia (under the leadership of the Gaethaff Sveila Whiteaxe) moved in behind the orcish lines and made fast the dwarven shield-wall. With a great clangor the dwarves beat their blades upon their shields and made themselves known to the orcish foe. The orcs, realizing they were caught between two forces that were maneuvering to annihilate them, turned about and threw themselves with frantic desperation against the dwarvish lines, hoping to escape.

Azok was one of the many felled, and most of his Companion Warriors. The southernmost camp of the orcs has been completely destroyed, scattered to the winds. This represents a massive blow to the orcish plans to lay siege to Hammerval. However, the war may not yet be won.

Across the sea, during the last month of spring, the Sacred Armies are on the move. Vagrysj the Lion has suffered repeated losses along the borders of his slave-empire. For all those victories, the Sacred Army itself has suffered setbacks; the cities of the goblins are notoriously untrustworthy. Mamil al-Tyfir has raised an army of its own to ensure the Sacred Armies do not lay permanent claim to goblin lands. Even so, clerics of the Northern Rite have constructed a temple-necropolis in the Moon Kingdoms and threatened to withdraw their forces if the goblins threaten it. The alliance of the Sacred Armies thus threatens to dissolve even as they punish the ogre king for his hubris.

Essad, this spring, was rocked with discontent and rebellion. The slave uprisings in the Agricon have become an endemic threat to Thurayn and the Masters who command it. It seems these slave risings may be funded by Dorlish coin, for none other than the master scholar Reynarius di Llun has volunteered to lead an assault on the forces of the Iron Guard of Thurayn from the Dorlish border with the hopes of burning down the southern slave camps and ending the reign of the Rex Exactor.

In the west, the elvish reavers have been quiet for another year, striking but rarely against the Ralashite borders and, by sea, not at all. Some turmoil has been heard in Tailimisia concerning the continued rule of the Hierophant. In Silversong, King Anundarien Towerborn has called a council of the nobility of that kingdom for the purpose of determining where that kingdom stands in relation to the Elvish Question.

And lastly, in Agstowe, it is said that plumes of smoke have been seen curling from the maw of the Wyrmburg, indicating that perhaps the great Wyrm of Agstowe is stirring in his sleep.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Libram Mysterium Vol. II

Ladies and Gentlethings, in time for halloween I present to you the Libram Mysterium Volume II, the Horror Collection. Featuring a tale by yours truly, Le Dieu Perdu. Buy your copy today!

Tome depicted does not represent actual tome delivered.