23 October 2015

Kickstarter: Part 16 - New Projects!

This is the sixteenth part in an ongoing series about crowdfunding. Overview and Index.

It has been a very long time since I have done one of these posts - over two years - but there may be more interest in these now than there was back then. If this is or is not something you would like to continue seeing the future, let me know in the comments. 

New Projects

Masks: A New Generation

Closes: 25Oct2015
Funded: Yes!

This is a super heroes game with a focus on young characters and their stories, such as you would find in Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and Young Justice. It uses the Powered by the Apocalypse system and incorporates many of the innovations which have been developed over the years by games such as Monsterhearts and Urban Shadows. Playbooks (an archetype system) are used as a template for your character, while layered on top of this are Labels (Danger, Freak, Mundane, Savoir, and Superior) which define how you view yourself. True to the medium which this emulates, your self-perception can change over time and your ratings in the labels will change with it.


Masks' default setting is one where PCs are the fourth generation of heroes and just coming into their own, having yet to define who they are going to be. The previous generations line up with the equivalent comic book ages and how they are presented: gold, silver, and bronze. Halcyon City is the primary locale and has been fleshed out considerably through various stretch goals.

The people of +Magpie Games always do fine work and I expect this to be no exception. If nothing else, a draft of the game is available to download right now.


Protocol Primer: A Complete Guide to GMless Games

Closes: 29Oct2015
Funded: Yes!

The Protocol games by +postworldgames jim pinto are perhaps my favorite GMless games out there. There are a lot of them (over 50 as of right now) and all I have been exposed to have at least been quite good, with some varying to excellent. One of the reasons they work so well for me is how they handle scene framing and get directly to the game, which is particularly helpful when introducing gamers to the concept of a GMless game.


This is about creating a guide to help with this entire process and offer some advice, including pulling back the curtain and showing why things are put together the way they are. There is also at least one unique game offered only through this project. No matter what, you are also going to get at least one game - even at basic $6 pledge, you are walking away with a random protocol in addition to the primer.


Wild Skies: Europa Tempest

Closes: 31Oct2015
Funded: Yes!

Okay, stick with me for this: Wild Skies is a dieselpunk game of sky pirates over 1930's Europe featuring anthropomorphic animals. This should either get very close to selling your right away, or send you running for the hills.

The mechanical heart of the game is the Moral Compass, which allows you to define what is most important to your character by choosing four matched pairs from a list of eight. Each matched pair represents a continuum from opposite poles and your experience is marked by moving along these tracks. There are some nuances to it which indicate it will be interesting at the very least and worth investigating further.


Pulsars

Closes: 01Nov2015
Funded: No

You are a member of the Pulsar Corps in this sci-fi game. An exceptional soldier who is further enhanced by possession of a powerful suit. This rare piece of technology amplify the traits of their wearer and giving them amazing abilities. Those of the Pulsar Corps have many different roles, from investigator to medic and warrior. They stand against the tide in a losing war struggle as this grinding conflict wears at them, represented by Strain.

There are interesting things going on here and the mechanics appear to be derived from the Wager system first introduced in Houses of the Blooded, then refined in World of Dew. Which makes me even more interested.

Part of the premise of this campaign is each backer will receive a fragment of a larger piece of fiction which can then be put back together by intrepid backers who decide to share. Since I'm somewhere between incredibly busy and a reclusive shut in, I have not participated in this endeavor. This seems as good a point as any to rectify the situation. Here is the fragment which was provided to me:

The sector was under the sway of the Baronies, a loose confederation of systems that barely held on as a Great Power compared to the Stellar Republic and the Universal Kollective.

We were in free space, but even then we had not seen any of their patrol ships for weeks and the last one we saw was guzzling fuel at a frightening rate. There was almost no way they could have sent a ship out this far.

It was as we were gearing up for our next stardive that my chief science officer, Lieutenant Sao Sejano, brought something to my attention.

“Captain, I don’t know if we should make the stardive as planned.”

“Lieutenant, I understand we are running our engines a little hot but the chief engineer has signed off on this jump-“



The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition

Closes: 05Nov2015
Funded: No

I have been excited about this project ever since it was first teased months ago. This is a game of mystical ninja which can vary between high action, political intrigue between the factions, and stealthy missions. The mechanics have been tightened up and refine the first edition considerably, complete with lessons learned from the other +Third Eye Games titles, particularly the skill combo system which has worked very well in games like AMP: Year One. I know I like to have plenty of mechanical toys into which I can sink my teeth, and this game does not disappoint. Nothing complicated, but from +Eloy's recent work the depth and potential interactions should be excellent.

In the setting, the ninja clans are at war with the empire, with a tenuous peace between the clans. Which leads to them occasionally being at war with each other, as they continue to exploit any advantage to gain position over their rivals. The setting is easy to grasp the basic concepts and dive right in, but there is quite a bit of depth for those who are interested to further explore the complex relationships between the factions.

The uniformly excellent quality of the art which has been previewed thus far is also notable. It is evocative of the game and conveys a feeling of action.


Aquelarre

Closes: 16Nov2015
Funded: No

Ever since I first found out about this game decades ago, I wanted it. Now I finally have my chance. This is a dark and moody Spanish game which is gorgeous to behold. The premise is characters are in the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages, a very dark and supernatural version of the Middle Ages. Angels, demons, and fairy tales are all a part of the setting, though probably not in a good way.

This isn't a game for everyone and despite how I covet it, I know there are mechanics which are not for me. The basic system uses percentile dice and there are also hit locations - neither of these are for me. However, it is indicated there will be an adaptation to the D6xD6 system, so perhaps this will work out.

Despite my personal issues with these elements, this promises to be a beautiful book and an amazing setting.


Awaken

Closes: 20Nov2015
Funded: No

The first thing which attracted me to this project was the art - it is amazing. It is beautiful and makes me want to explore their world. From there, it may not come as a surprise to know I have this thing for dark fantasy games and this particular game looks like it will scratch the itch nicely. The premise of the setting is one of political machinations in a war-ravaged world. Behind the intrigues of the nobles, the guardians are dying and the ancient adversaries of myth are returning. Some humans Awaken to potentially great powers and possess the ability to lead their fellow man and turn the tide. Though people being people, not all of them are pre-disposed to helping anyone with their new found power.

While nothing here may be ground breaking in concept, all together it is a dark take on a classic formula in a lovely package. The heavy influence Slavic myths play on the whole is something which is an uncommon twist, and a particular selling point as something to set the game apart.

30 September 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 30 - Horror Stalker

This is the thirtieth 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

This is the first draft of the Earthdawn Fourth Edition Horror Stalker. It is (currently) unique among disciplines due to its explicit design as an additional discipline. This is an experiment in approaching the discipline from a slightly different perspective. The mechanics of the discipline have been focused on melee weapons, despite the concept being one which could easily be applied to many different disciplines. Along with this, the idea of initiating adepts into the ranks of Horror Stalkers with no other experience seems like a great way to get them killed before they will have much of a chance to do any good.

While technically it can be taken as an initial discipline, there aren't any of the basic combat talents. The assumption is any adept who follows this path will already be coming to it with their basic competencies in place. What it does have is a good selection of defensive and support talents which are useful for virtually any character who wants to dedicate themselves to fighting Horrors.

Since there is so much here which is new, it needs testing. It should to be useful coming from any discipline, whether it be Archer, Elementalist, or Warrior. Their custom talents need be useful, but to not make them turn every conflict against a Horror into a cakewalk through all of the various stacking bonuses.

Artisan Skills: Scarification, Tattooing

Half-Magic: 
These adepts may use half-magic to know how to find other Horror Stalkers and the history of other Horror Stalkers. They may also make Perception-based half-magic tests to detect the presence of Horrors, Horror constructs, and undead within 30 yards. The difficulty for this is equal to the target’s Mystic Defense. If the test succeeds, the adept senses the target’s presence, though no details. The gamemaster may choose to make this half-magic test on behalf of the adept at any time, as this innate sense is always active.

Novice

First Circle

  • Astral Sight
  • Bear Mark
  • Horror Weaving
  • Steel Thought
  • Suppress Curse
Abilities
  • Durability 5
  • Horror Lore
  • KarmaOn any test to directly defend against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead (e.g. a Steel Thought test against a Horror power, or a Willpower test to resist an ongoing Horror power).
Second Circle
  • Gaze into the Abyss
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Third Circle
  • Call of Harrow
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Attack and Spellcasting tests against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead.
Fourth Circle
  • Sense Corruption
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Acrobatic Defense
  2. Anticipate Blow
  3. Avoid Blow
  4. Awareness
  5. Danger Sense
  6. Graceful Exit
  7. Mystic Pursuit
  8. Stealthy Stride
  9. Tracking
  10. Wound Balance
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Lion Heart
Abilities
  • Knowledge is Power: If the adept possesses any specific, vital knowledge regarding a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target (or type of target in the case of “common” varieties) they may reduce the Strain cost of one Horror Stalker talent by 1 once per round when used against the appropriate target.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on a Damage or Effect test against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead. This may be combined with other karma abilities which allow karma to be spent on a similar test.
Sixth Circle
  • Exploit Corruption
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Mystic Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Bane Strike
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
Eighth Circle
  • Purge Karma
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Battle Shout
  2. Cold Purify
  3. Earth Skin
  4. Fire Heal
  5. Fireblood
  6. Life Check
  7. Research
  8. Steely Stare
  9. Tactics
  10. Tiger Spring
Bane Strike
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 2
The adept infuses their attack with the power of blood and sacrifice to enhance the damage against Horrors and Horror constructs. On a successful attack against a Horror or Horror construct, the adept may add Bane Strike to as a bonus to a Damage or Effect test (only if it inflicts damage).

Bear Mark
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Free
Strain: 2
This talent allows an adept to prevent a Horror Mark from doing something terrible to her and allow her to make more poor life decisions. Immediately after being Horror Marked, the adept can make a Bear Mark test against the Horror Mark Step. If successful, the Horror Mark is sequestered in the adept's pattern and cannot affect her. If unsuccessful, she is affected as normal. Each time the Horror attempts to use a power on, or through her through the Horror Mark, she may repeat this test. If successful, she resists the Horror's attempt to its power on or through her. If she gets four successes on this test, she will successfully sequester the Horror Mark and it can no longer be used to affect her. The adept can bear a number of Horror Marks up to her Bear Mark rank.

Call of Harrow
Step: Rank + PER
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
The adept uses a type of divination magic to gain information about a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target she is observing. She makes a Call of Harrow test against the target's Mystic Defense. For each success, the adept's player can ask a specific question that would reveal one of the target's game statistics or abilities, such as, "What is its Physical Defense?" or "What is its Unconsciousness Rating?" The question must be about a specific trait - general questions such as "How tough is it?" should warrant an equally vague answer ("Pretty tough").

The gamemaster should disallow questions comparing more than one statistic, such as "is this jehuthra tougher than I am?" or "Which is higher, it's Physical or Mystic Defense?" At the gamemaster's discretion, using this talent can yield insights about a target's vulnerabilities which can prove useful to an adventuring group about to tangle with a Horror.

Exploit Corruption
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept begins to learn and understand what makes Horrors and their constructs strong and how to exploit this to their advantage. Once per turn when making a test against a Horror or Horror construct (this does not include Attack, Damage, Initiative, and Spellcasting tests, and Effect tests which cause damage), the adept may add her Exploit Corruption rank to her test. All targets of the action must be Horrors and/or Horror constructs to be applicable.

Gaze into the Abyss
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept has learned to tap into the collective knowledge and memories of Horror Stalkers and those who came before to aid in their efforts against the common enemy. When performing a test to learn or recall information about a Horror or Horror construct, the adept may add her Gaze into the Abyss rank to the test result.

Purge Karma
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Simple
Strain: 2
The adept uses her force of will to force a connection between her and a Horror, tapping into the target’s unnatural magics. To use this ability, the adept makes a Purge Karma test as a Simple action against the Mystic Defense of a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target. If successful, whenever the target spends a Karma point, the adept may spend a Karma point to cancel the expenditure. The Karma is treated as though it was spent, though there is no effect. The adept may do this a number of times per turn equal to the number of successes scored on the Purge Karma test. This effect lasts for Purge Karma rank rounds.

Sense Corruption
Step: Rank + PER
Action: Standard
Strain: 1
The adept has learned to enhance her natural abilities to detect Horrors, Horror constructs, and undead and gain additional information. To use this talent, the adept makes a Sense Corruption test against the Mystic Defense of every viable target within Sense Corruption rank x 10 yards. If successful, she detects the entity. For each additional success against the target, she learns the following information in order: 1) it’s type (Horror, Horror construct, or undead), 2) it’s direction from her, 3) it’s distance from her. If the test does not succeed against a target, it is not detected. Targets detected in this fashion are considered to be astrally sensed and will be tracked while this talent is active. This talent lasts for Sense Corruption rank rounds and may be maintained by spending 1 Strain when it is about to expire. To make a new test, the talent must be allowed to expire, then used again.

08 September 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 29 - Bodyguard

This is the twenty-ninth 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.


Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

The Bodyguard is a discipline which was first introduced in Earthdawn First Edition in Living Room Games' adventure "Path of Deception", though not updated for Third Edition. A reader recently requested a Fourth Edition version of this discipline for a friend's birthday present, a request I was more than happy to oblige.

There is some setting background on the origins of this discipline which is overly complicated at best. Why it would only come into being from the efforts of Journeyman (the discipline) adepts as a reaction to the Scourge, then taught in Throal where a dwarf Warrior would eventually learn this as a secondary discipline... I just don't know. The addition of stigma attached because it came into being during the Scourge - this also makes little sense to me. It is entirely possible I am missing something.

Nonetheless, the premise is fairly straight forward and it is easy to see the appeal of including such a discipline in a campaign from a setting standpoint. It is likely to be an uncommon discipline, particularly with adventurers, given its function and at least somewhat selfless nature. As a secondary discipline, it finds many more uses, particularly for Swordmasters and Warriors, and even Weaponsmiths to a lesser extent.

From a mechanical perspective, this is a poor choice for a primary discipline due to the highly defensive nature of the abilities. As well, there are some key pieces which are missing right now due to their inclusion in other works which have not yet been released. As indicated, the primary focus here is defense, with a lesser emphasis on perceptive abilities to detect trouble. With talent options, a Bodyguard can develop in a few different directions, though they all emphasize different aspects of their primary focus.

Few disciplines offer as many defensive options, particularly coupled with Perception-based talents, as the Bodyguard. However, they pay for this with few offensive options. They have no access to damage boosting and additional attack abilities through Journeyman. This is a key part of why they are unlikely to be a common choice as a primary discipline. Their defensive abilities really are astounding and can make a melee discipline the rock which opposition crashes upon.

Nothing here has been playtested yet and the Fifth Circle discipline and karma abilities are the most likely sources of trouble. The concept behind the discipline ability is to give what may very well be a low Initiative discipline access to what will be a key talent regardless of their poor Initiative, along with a small boost. Their karma ability plays this up even more, though at the cost of a damage ability which most other combat disciplines see at this Circle. It was hard to justify the damage increase for a discipline which isn't really about offensive abilities. An alternative was to offer them the ability to increase an Armor rating by a karma for one attack once per round. This still has potential, but it seems out of place at this Circle.

Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Tattooing

Half-Magic: Bodyguards use half-magic for knowledge of escape routes in their immediate area which they have traversed or seen. In addition, they use half-magic for proper maintenance of armor and weapons.


Novice

First Circle

  • Anticipate Blow
  • Awareness
  • Danger Sense
  • Guard Weaving
  • Melee Weapons
Abilities
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Avoid Blow
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Wound Balance
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Action tests to detect potential threats. This can include Sensing tests when appropriate.
Fourth Circle
  • Empathic Sense
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Disarm Trap
  2. Distract
  3. Etiquette
  4. Fireblood
  5. Graceful Exit
  6. Maneuver
  7. Shield Bash
  8. Tiger Spring
  9. Throwing Weapons
  10. Unarmed Combat
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Blood Share
Abilities
  • Always Ready: Before Initiative has been determined, the adept may choose any number of talents which can increase Physical Defense as a Simple action. The adept pays 1 Strain for each selected talent. These talents may be used as a Free Action before Initiative is determined this round and the adept is considered to have a higher Initiative result to meet any requirements (e.g. Anticipate Blow). The adept gains a +2 bonus on all affected talents. If a talent can be used more than once per round (e.g. Anticipate Blow), the 1 Strain cost to use this ability must only be paid once.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on talent tests which increase Physical Defense (e.g. Anticipate Blow), avoid physical attacks (e.g. Avoid Blow), or escape from conflict. This may not be used on Spellcasting tests.
Sixth Circle
  • Life Check
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Lion Heart
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eighth Circle
  • Temper Flesh
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Astral Sight
  2. Cold Purify
  3. Disarm
  4. Iron Constitution
  5. Lifesight
  6. Resist Taunt
  7. Riposte
  8. Steel Thought
  9. Steely Stare
  10. True Sight

11 August 2015

Amp: Year One

AMP: Year One, by +Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, is a lower-powered supers game which evokes many of the best parts of the X-Men and Aberrant.

The world of AMP is our own world, next Sunday. Those with powers, called AMPs (Accelerated Mutant Potential), have only started to emerge and characters are on the ground floor of this brave new world, for better or worse. This is rather novel, since the vast majority of supers games with settings present an established world, full of heroes and villains already. It serves to emphasize the street-level feeling which permeates the book - everyone is still trying to figure things out.

A backstory as to the why and how of AMPs is clearly laid out in the text, but shrouded in secrecy to the populace at large. It involves a secret multi-national project to create super soldiers. Which is fairly pedestrian, however it has some twists which set it apart and is quite effectively told in general. Without giving any of the secrets away, things go catastrophically wrong and the project is ultimately labeled a failure. The subjects are set loose back in the wild, but the scientists involved quietly keep tabs on them. Fast forward a few generations and it turns out the project was more successful than anyone could have hoped. The variety of powers and possible combinations (and limits therein) are due to the various ways the serums were combined.

A timeline of 2015 is presented in AMP as the primary setting material. In Year One it has the introduction of AMPs and the various reactions to their appearance, and closes out the timeline with a bang at the beginning of 2016. Here, it draws heavy inspiration from X-Men and Aberrant (as mentioned above) with the mixed opinions on their existence and what they represent. It contains a variety of events from around the world which showcase the gradual emergence and acknowledgment of AMPs in the world. They range from mysterious hints of why is potentially yet to come, particularly the "conspiracy" sidebars, to major events which significantly shape public opinion. One of these events even appears as a playable scenario in AMP Adventures, "Attack of the Buzz". Even at their most ostentatious (the Battle of Reno comes to mind), the events presented are a much more restrained take than the inspirations, as befitting the personal and low-key scope of the game. 

The supplement, Year Two, takes the timeline further and it gets quite dark. Without giving too much away, the final events presented in Year One have a significant impact on what transpires in 2016, which is also referred to as the year of fear. With good reason. It also includes more setting information, such as how the world as a whole is dealing with the emergence of AMPs and some more details on the ramifications on various events in the timeline.

AMP has some small nods to comic books, such as the trade size and "Law of Attraction" which causes many AMPs to fight when they first meet (see pretty much any cross-over, ever), but on the whole it has a self-awareness of the tropes and meets them in a way entirely consistent with how you would expect people to react. There is a criminal organization, but the leadership is quite secretive and their long-term goals seem to be about securing a place for AMPs in the world at any cost. As well, there is a school for the "gifted", which many parents use as a place to dump the children which they can no longer understand.

The mechanics serve to reinforce the personal nature of the game by asking: what is important to you? This is done by giving some points to assign to various loyalties, each of which provides a small, but meaningful bonus. There is even the loyalty of "perfection" for those who are really in it for the power. As well, each character can have an affiliation to a particular group. Each group provides a bonus which reflects the nature of the group. For example, the Seekers of Enlightenment (they run the school) get a bonus to resist the Law of Attraction.

For any supers game, powers and how they are handed is probably the biggest deal. Good news: AMP handles them quite well for the power level at which it is operating.

The basic system for AMP uses a D20 and adds two skills to the result based on what you are accomplishing. When using a power, it is one of the two skills. This gives a simple, unified resolution mechanic with a surprising amount of nuance by modifying the typical attribute + skill. To be perfectly honest, over the past 15 years, using a single D20 for resolution has become almost groan-worthy; I fully admit I may very well be alone in this. However, this is one of the few games to which it doesn't bother me at all. It could be the simple addition of gaining Juice on a 1 or 20 makes it interesting, though the frequent additional effects for every 5 over the difficulty certainly doesn't hurt.

Which brings me to the beginning of powers in AMP - they are not things which can generally be used all of the time. They cost Juice, of which you have a small supply, but is really gained when your adrenaline starts pumping. In those dangerous, high stress times is when you start to have a ready supply. Even then, it can be quite draining to just cut loose. There is some resource management to the usage of powers, which again reinforces the lower power and street level natures of the game.

Powers are separated into groups called Strains, which are mostly relevant when it comes time to spend XP. Each character can have up to three powers; a primary, secondary, and tertiary. Your strain is determined by your primary power. The other two can come from any strain, but are cheaper to improve if they come from the same strain as you. Each power has a basic function, but allows for various modifiers to be purchased which start to significantly enhance what your power can do. Each power has a limit to how high it can be improved - primary up to 10, secondary to 7, and tertiary to 4.

This can make for some difficult decisions, especially since there are so many great powers available; it is like visiting a candy store. There is a wide variety of powers available and nearly all of them are interesting and can do awesome things - those omitted by the "nearly" are powers I'm not inclined to like in the first place, such as plant powers, but I know people who would strongly disagree with me on this point. Which is to say the problem is with me, not the power. An example is the Darkness power from the Shaper strain. One of the things you can learn to do is form a blade of darkness. Which was exactly the first thing I wanted to know if I could do when I read the name.

It is worth mentioning Year Two brings some new mechanics to the table. This includes some new affiliations which appeared over the year, Saps as characters (non-AMPs), and new powers. The most notable of the powers is Gadgeteer, which is available to anyone, including Saps. AMP Adventures also introduces a number of new extras for existing powers, in addition to having some solid adventures for a genre which is notoriously difficult.

These details in powers tie into the backstory of how powers came to be. Each AMP is the result of a particular serum cocktail, with primary and potentially secondary and tertiary effects. While not particularly important in the grand scheme of things, it does lend itself to the feeling of a coherent vision for the setting and how the various parts fit together.

In the end, AMP: Year One is easily one of my favorite supers games out there for both the new take on a familiar and comfortable setting, and the elegant simplicity of the mechanics. There are numbers to play with and crunch, but they are simple and straight forward - there is nothing daunting about the mechanics of the powers or how they interact. If you are interested in playing street-level supers, this is, imho, the best game on the market for such an endeavor even if you don't use the metaplot. Though the metaplot is interesting and unobtrusive enough to make it worth using for most games.

28 July 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 28 - Field Engineer

This is the twenty-eighth 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.


Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

Field Engineer is a discipline which +Elder Bald Eagle requested some assistance in developing. After establishing the core themes and competencies of the discipline, as well as the sub-themes, this is the product of our collaboration. It is a niche discipline, but fills a role which is as of yet unique in the setting and offers some interesting abilities to the right campaign. The systems to engage in warfare don't exist, nor do any actual siege engines, but this discipline puts a foothold into the realm of large scale combat.

He requested for this discipline to be posted here so gather additional feedback and interest. If you have any comments, please let us know.

The Field Engineer is a relatively rare adept, though greatly prized by any military organization which can train and support them. Similar to a Warrior, they are at home on the battlefield, but the role which they play is quite different. It is not unheard of for these adepts to operate near the front lines, using their unique abilities to control the battlefield and offering direct support, However, these adepts are most effective when behind the front lines, coordinating large scale activities, and supporting the siege engines or maintaining fortifications.

When not engaged in a military campaign, these adepts are effective at organizing activities on a large scale, particularly construction projects. This alone makes them prized to many city-states looking to expand their infrastructure and influence.

These various areas of expertise lend to a number of different types of Field Engineer, from those who are happiest when in the trenches with their comrades, to those who prefer to oversee operations and engage in diplomacy, or those who support their allies by ensuring they have everything they need, when they need it.

Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Wood Carving

Half-Magic: Field Engineers use half-magic for knowledge of how to procure and move goods in the field to support troops, finding and gathering raw and re-purposed materials for construction while in the field, and a general knowledge of the functioning of a military.


Novice

First Circle

  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Engineer Weaving
  • Research
  • Siegecraft
Abilities
  • Durability 5
  • Etiquette
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on any test which involves a major construction project; including construction, researching, observing, or evaluating buildings, fortifications, and siege equipment.
Second Circle
  • Danger Sense
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Third Circle
  • Fortify
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point when assessing, interacting with, or navigating military or other bureaucratic organizations. This cannot affect direct combat tests, but may be used, for example, to assess the combat readiness of a military unit.
Fourth Circle
  • Tactics
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Climbing
  2. Conversation
  3. Disarm Trap
  4. Haggle
  5. Item History
  6. Melee Weapons
  7. Missile Weapons
  8. Read and Write Languages
  9. Speak Languages
  10. Wound Balance
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Evidence Analysis
Abilities
  • Instant Fortification: The adept may erect nearly instantaneous fortifications by making an Engineer Weaving (6) test as a Standard action for 1 Strain. Each success allows the adept to create a section of wall 2 x 2 yards wide and 4 yards tall. These fortifications last for Engineer Weaving rank hours and have Physical and Mystic Armor of 12, and a Death Rating of 40. Contiguous sections, even if not created at the same time, will bond together if the adept wishes. If so, they are considered to be a single object. Fortifications created with this ability may explicitly be affected by Fortify.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point Damage tests using a siege weapon or against inanimate objects.
Sixth Circle
  • Spot Armor Flaw
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Social Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Demolition
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eighth Circle
  • Lion Heart
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Air Speaking
  2. Diplomacy
  3. Earth Skin
  4. Empathic Sense
  5. Forge Weapon
  6. Heartening Laugh
  7. Inspire Others
  8. Leadership
  9. Resist Taunt
  10. Steely Stare
Demolition
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept instinctively knows the weak points on any inanimate object. He may add his Demolition rank to any Damage test against an inanimate object. This bonus is doubled when the Damage test is from a siege weapon.

Fortify
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Standard
Strain: 2
The adept fortifies an object through sheer force of will. This can be used on objects such as a specific door, a siege engine, airship, or building. To use this talent, the adept makes a Fortify test against the target's Mystic Defense (minimum Difficulty of 6). If successful, the adept temporarily reinforces the object against attack. Each adept's expression of this talent is different. For example, it can take the form of a visible field around the target, earthworks protecting it, or ghostly buttresses. The target increases its Death Rating by the test result and increases its Physical and Mystic Armor, and Mystic Defense by +2 per success for Fortify rank hours.

Siegecraft
Step: Rank + PER
Action: Sustained
Strain: 0
The adept can conduct a variety of different tasks related to large scale warfare. This includes planning and building fortifications, siege engines (and associated munitions), and other large structures. He can also operate siege weapons and lead a crew operating siege weapons.

17 July 2015

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 35 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

This is the thirty-fifth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

The Badlands are, as the Name suggests, a terrible place to visit. A blasted and desolate plain whose very pattern resists all attempts at healing. Easy to describe as lifeless, but my preferences run towards sparsely populating it with twisted versions of Barsaivian wildlife which has either been lovingly crafted by Horrors during the Scourge or adapted to the place - aided by the pattern itself.

It is a place of forgotten kaers because of the terrible destruction wrought there. Given the inhospitable nature, this is a good location to send adepts looking for people, places, things which have been lost. Not many others frequent the Badlands if they can avoid it. This also makes it the perfect location to hide things which you don't want anyone else to find.


Adventure Log – 035 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Written By: Bongani Kreskas

Date:  20 Sollus - 21 Sollus, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Coriolis the Swordmaster
Elmod the Nethermancer

Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster


It is hot in the Badlands. The landscape is lifeless and endless, but we must continue on. We camp for a while, preparing threads for the coming battle. We venture northwest, following the Horror's invitation. After hours of traveling, we leave even the pathetic scrub behind. We find a camp much like the others. Many severed heads are formed into a pyramid.

I determine the Horror killed these six men in under a minute. Clearly we are dealing with a dangerous creature. We continue on our way - there is nothing more we can do for these men. Elmod experiences the final moments of the poor souls as they are torn to pieces by the gestalt Horror. I find the tracks, like a thousand turtles moving in a herd(1)

A large black rock looms in the distance. I leave the party for a time to check the feature, fearing if might be our quarry. Elmod comes with me, in case something unexpected happens. The obelisk is a void in the sky, giving off no heat or light(2). Elmod turns into a creature of the night and scouts the object.

I find out later at the camp, a strange many-jointed creature with large ears and an exposed brain approaches. It has shark-like teeth and a rather friendly disposition. It speaks as well! What a charming fellow. His "mother" has an interest in our safety. He starts to following Ting around the camp, much to her displeasure.

Coriolis helpfully Names him "Wendel", much to the little fellow's excitement.

We return to camp and meet Wendel. Elmod believes it to be a Horror construct of some sort(3). "Wendel feels hungry for FEAR and PAIN." We are not sure what to do with the little fellow, so we set our watch and wait for dawn. During Honeysuckle's watch, Wendel moved over to Ting, but didn't harm her in any way that we see. Ting spoke with Wendel and found that "Father" creates things from hard things. He hates flesh, preferring other things. Mother and Father are trying to discover what life is. Mother has a Name, but she has killed all who knew it. Father's Name is "Robber of Twenty Candles"(4). Mother is angry at Father for stealing her favorite child(5).

Wendel is ever more horrifying in daylight. He tells us it used to be a liferock(6). He sticks to Ting and leads us to the stone. The stone separates, revealing a hallway marked with glowing runes. Elmod identifies the runes as being magical, but far beyond his ability to understand. Wendel leaves us as we continue on. The runes provide plenty of light, but still we are uneasy.

This terrible maze makes no sense! We eventually must follow the maddening droning until we notice the runes turn into circles, then spirals. Elmod turns his hand before the runes, revealing a door. Within we find a laboratory of some sort. There are benches, equipment, well-labeled jars. Elmod identifies the equipment as alchemical gear. The laboratory has been abandoned for at least six months.

We return to the hallways and find more spirals which leads to other rooms. Some are the floors and ceilings. We discover research laboratories, laboratories, and many more rooms, but they are all cleared out - abandoned(7).

Why would he lure us here if there is nothing. The sounds begin to make sense. "Follow the sound of my voice and I will give you answers." We follow. We are not hungry, not tired... How long have we been here?

We come to an audience chamber, well lit by quartz. There is a podium at the end of the room with a small figure performing some sort of operation. Lightning arcs to the creature on the table, bringing it to attention and he responds with a beautiful, haunting melody of his own.

He is bald, wearing a white coat. Tall and thin, I take him for an elf at first. He claims he saw us when he was born. He has no Name, and is not a Namegiver. We ask him to come down and speak with us, and we see that his flesh is marble, like a strange obsidiman. Father told him to come here and clear out the dwarfs(8). He has been here ever since. He claims the dwarfs of Throal used to conduct experiments. He claims to be a liferock, a very living, corrupting thing. He is pleasant and polite, but the reality of his existence cannot be ignored.

He found the obsidimen who lived here, and changed them into other forms. The gestalt Horrors are their new form. There is nothing else to say, so we fight. The fight is a swirling maelstrom of madness. We leap from wall to wall, flying and falling as we battle the Nameless Horror. His obsidiman construct strikes out, following us. I lead him to his doom. The Nameless construct tries to flee, using a magic field of magic to cover his escape, but we give chase.

Floating in mid-air, Ting grapples with the construct, and renders it to its ragged components with a flurry of slashing blows.(9)


*     *     *
(1) The adorableness of this description is a juxtaposition with how horrible the rest of it is.
(2) This is very strange.
(3) Of course they befriended and Named a Horror construct.
(4) This is very bad. From the stories, those "Twenty Candles" are for the twenty kaers this Horror was responsible for snuffing out during the Scourge. Of course, it didn't stop at twenty.
(5) I think this may be our first solid lead regarding what is going on with this group. This entry needs to be "lost" and moved to the Eye.
(6) And it gets even worse.
(7) This is incredibly elaborate to just abandon. Also, who even has the resources to create something like this? Only Iopos, Thera, and Throal are likely. Maybe a dragon?
(8) Now this sounds like a Throalic black project. Someone not involved with this department needs to know about this.
(9) Received and edited by Ela Pono

This could be considered the climax of the arc, but there is still quite a bit going on with some of the reveals in this story. The biggest, which wasn't much of a pressing concern at the time of this entry, is the nature of the obelisk in the Badlands.

In all, the pacing of this session was good and the climactic fight scene was a lot of fun. Characters with Great Leap got to do a lot of cinematic repositioning as they learned to take advantage of the variable gravity in the amphitheater. It was very dynamic and fluid, though not easy by any stretch. At the end, the adepts were victorious, but they worked hard for the win.

05 June 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 03 - Mounts, Part 3

This is the third 4E Anatomy of a Creature, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

This is the third entry in the Anatomy of a Creature series for Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4). The overall goal here is to present new material to the community as a whole and get feedback on the various creatures and new development directions. Popular entries may one day see publication, while those which are less so will not clutter precious page count.


Based on comments and requests, the first series will focus on introducing some new mounts to the game. This set of mounts is generally larger, angrier versions of more normal animals which are now (barely in some cases) suitable to be used as mounts.

If there is something you do (or do not) like, let me know in the comments.


Troajin, War
War troajins, also referred to as “battle cats”, are the result of a great deal of selective breeding using tigers and troajins as a basis, but a number of other great cats were likely involved in the process as well. These large cats were bred to be feline mounts suitable for larger riders than standard troajins. The final result is suitable for the original purposes, but they are still difficult to manage and fickle compared to their more docile ancestors, though a far sight from tiger relations.

They come in the same coat colors as troajins, but also in black and white, and even a green with orange stripes variety has been seen.

War troajin are suitable as mounts for elves, humans, orks, and t’skrangs, and as animal companions.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX:    7          Initiative:                 11        Unconsciousness:   44
STR:    9          Physical Defense:   12        Death Rating:           52
TOU:   8          Mystic Defense:       11        Wound Threshold: 12
PER:    6          Social Defense:        11        Knockdown:             13
WIL:    6          Physical Armor:       4          Recovery Tests:      3
CHA:   6          Mystic Armor:          3         
Movement:   16
Actions: 1; Bite: 13 (14), Claws: 13 (13)
Powers:
Ambush (5): When attacking from surprise, the war troajin gain a +5 bonus to their Initiative, and Attack and Damage tests. This may not be combined with Surprise Strike.
Battle Shout (10): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 131.
Climbing (10): As the skill.
Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)
Enhanced Sense [Sight]: Low-Light Vision
Great Leap (10)
Stealthy Stride (10): As the skill.
Willful (1): Talents and abilities used to control, tame, or train a war troajin require an additional success.
Special Maneuvers:
Pounce (War Troajin): If the war troajin reached its opponent with a leap and the opponent isn’t too much larger, the battle cat may spend an additional success to cause a Knockdown test against the target. The Difficulty Number is the Attack test result.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat): The attacker may spend two additional successes to sufficiently enrage the war troajin and guarantee he will be the sole target of its next attack(s). If there are multiple instances of this special maneuver, only the most recent has any use.

Elk, Tundra
Prior to the Scourge, wild tundra elk could be found in the northern reaches of Barsaive as they migrated south during the winter months. The climate changes in the province following the Scourge has resulted in only small pockets of them remaining, and those which had been kept during the hundreds of years of darkness.

These tall, majestic creatures are docile unless provoked, in which case they can quickly become a force of nature to the average Namegiver. They have incredibly soft double coats to protect them from the harsh cold of the more northern climes, which are starkly colored in black and white. These coats are prized for their beauty, texture, and warmth with those who can afford them.

Every tundra elk, both female and male, bears an impressive set of antlers on top of their head. The antlers for male tundra elk have tines, while the antlers on the females do not. Regardless of tines, both sets of antlers are sharp and dangerous. Unlike other elk, tundra elk do not seasonally shed their antlers.

Tundra elk are suitable as mounts for dwarfs, elves, humans, orks, t’skrang, and trolls, and as animal companions.


Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX:    6          Initiative:                 8          Unconsciousness:   47
STR:    10        Physical Defense:   11        Death Rating:           56
TOU:   9          Mystic Defense:       10        Wound Threshold: 13
PER:    6          Social Defense:        11        Knockdown:             14
WIL:    7          Physical Armor:       6          Recovery Tests:      3
CHA:   6          Mystic Armor:          4
Movement:   18
Actions: 1; Antlers: 12 (14), Trample: 12 (12)
Powers:
Charge (5): The tundra elk may move up to twice its Movement and make a single attack. If the tundra elk moves over its base Movement, it gains a +5 bonus to the Attack and Damage test. This ability may not be used while the tundra elk has a rider.
Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)
Enhanced Sense [Smell] (2)
Resist Cold (10): The tundra elk gains +10 Physical and Mystic Armor against cold damage
Resist Pain (2): The tundra elk ignores 2 Wounds for penalties.
Stubborn: Talents and abilities used to control, tame, or train a tundra elk require an additional success.
Special Maneuvers:
Goring Charge (Tundra Elk, Charge): The tundra elk may spend an additional success to cause a Knockdown test against the target. The Difficulty Number is the Attack test result.
Overrun (Tundra Elk, Trample): The tundra elk may spend an additional success to cause a Knockdown test against the target if the target has a lower Strength Step. The Difficulty Number is the Attack test result.
Loot: Horns and pelt worth 4D6x silver pieces (worth Legend Points). Pelt worth 2d10 x 5 silver peices (worth Legend Points).

Tarrack
These creatures are large, flightless birds with absolutely vicious dispositions. Tarrack, also know as terror birds, are over eight feet tall and weigh over 500 pounds with long necks and stubby wings. Their coloration is mottled with black, browns, and white, and slashes of red on their heads and the edges of their wings. Between their speed, scythe-like blades on their feet, and pointy teeth, terror birds live up to their nickname for anything which encounters a group of them on the plains of Barsaive. Luckily their populations have been in steady decline for a variety of reasons, including the popularity of their delicious eggs.

Once raised in the wild, it is virtually impossible to turn a terror bird into a suitable companion outside of powerful magic. Even those raised from an egg would be considered “challenging” by even the most experienced animal handler. Despite this, they are popular with some ork scorchers overly fond of hit and run tactics.

Tarrack are suitable as mounts for elves, humans, orks, and t’skrangs, and as animal companions.

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX:    8          Initiative:                 12        Unconsciousness:   36
STR:    8          Physical Defense:   11        Death Rating:           43
TOU:   7          Mystic Defense:       9          Wound Threshold: 10
PER:    6          Social Defense:        11        Knockdown:             10
WIL:    6          Physical Armor:       2          Recovery Tests:      2
CHA:   6          Mystic Armor:          3
Movement:   22
Actions: 1; Bite: 12 (16), Claws x2: 14 (14)
Powers:
Charge (5): The terror bird may move up to twice its Movement and make a single attack. If the terror bird moves over its base Movement, it gains a +5 bonus to the Attack and Damage test. This ability may not be used while the terror bird has a rider.
Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)
Enhanced Sense [Sight] (2)
Great Leap (12)
Rushing Attack: Terror bird may split movement without penalty. This ability may not be used if the terror bird has a rider.
Willful (2): Talents and abilities used to dominate, control, tame, or train a terror bird require two additional successes.
Special Maneuvers:
Pounce (Terror Bird): If the terror bird reached its opponent with a leap and the opponent isn’t too much larger, the terror bird may spend an additional success to cause a Knockdown test against the target. The Difficulty Number is the Attack test result.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat): The attacker may spend two additional successes to sufficiently enrage the terror bird and guarantee he will be the sole target of its next attack(s). If there are multiple instances of this special maneuver, only the most recent has any use.

Wolf, Dire
At some point in the past, someone decided they needed a giant wolf which could be ridden. It was probably a dog lover who was upset with all of the different riding cats which are available, while there was a distinct lack of riding canines. Let’s assume this hypothetical person is a she for non-specific reasons. “No more”, she almost certainly declared to no one in particular and set about gathering the largest wolves which could be found and breeding them to make even bigger wolves, and then breeding those to make even bigger wolves still and so on and so forth until she got some really freaking big wolves.
This was probably when she took a step back and marveled at her huge, ill-tempered wolves and contemplated making them more pliable. After an incident which everyone vowed to never speak of again, she set about domesticating them. A little. Because they still need to be riding wolves, not really-big-dogs-with-floppy-ears-and-love-in-their-eyes-which-can-be-ridden-and-snuggled. To remind herself of this, she called them dire wolves.
Sometime later, they were both excessively large and were less inclined to be non-specifically violent because we all agreed to never speak of it again back in the previous paragraph. Dire wolves are popular with dog lovers who are looking for both a challenge and a mount in the “still pretty dangerous” category.
Dire wolves are suitable as mounts for elves, humans, orks, and t’skrangs, and as animal companions.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX:    7          Initiative:                 11        Unconsciousness:   44
STR:    8          Physical Defense:   11        Death Rating:           52
TOU:   8          Mystic Defense:       11        Wound Threshold: 12
PER:    7          Social Defense:        11        Knockdown:             12
WIL:    6          Physical Armor:       5          Recovery Tests:      3
CHA:   6          Mystic Armor:          3
Movement:   16
Actions: 1; Bite: 13 (14)
Powers:
Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)
Enhanced Sense [Smell] (2): Tracking
Resist Pain (2): The dire wolf ignores 2 Wounds for penalties.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill.
Willful (1): Talents and abilities used to control, tame, or train dire wolves require an additional success.
Tracking (10): As the skill.
Special Maneuvers:
Hamstring (Dire Wolf): The dire wolf may spend an additional success from an Attack test to halve the opponent’s Movement until the end of the next round. If the attack causes a Wound, the reduction lasts until the Wound is healed.
Loot: Pelt worth 1d10 x5 silver pieces (worth Legend Points).