Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Foray into Steampunk

I am but an infant standing before an ocean when it comes to the genre of Steampunk, but I am quite excited about the gaming opportunities it extends. A gnome escaping from a train heist by sealing the dining car's door with a glue bomb would be amazing. Or a group of half-orc tribesmen that take down the zeppelin of the local oppressive duke with bows and arrows, yeah, that's the ticket!

I'm a long way from making this a true sustained campaign reality, but so far here's what I know.

The world will be my own (sort of).
The geography will match that of our Earth, but history shall be quite different.
The 'civilized' world at this point currently reside on the continent we call North America.
There are approximately 36 nation-states. The two most powerful of which are the Federated States of Ullera and the Sovereign Kingdom of Rausch, currently allies which share borders.

Ullera sits between what we know as the Mississippi River and the East Coast, going north to the shores of the Great Lakes and south to the Everglades. It is a technologically driven state which in many ways mirrors the U.S. in the 1860s. Magecraft has long been outlawed here, but it is rumored to exist.

West of the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean spans the vast, sparsely populated Kingdom of Rausch. It's king rose from despondent orphanhood to a high position in the state church, eventually securing royal status by marrying ALL THREE of the prior king's daughters. He is highly respected and quite just.

Ulleran settlers, sick of coalsmoke-clogged cities, set east decades ago on all manner of craft (from dirigible to clipper to ship), but the harsh conditions and violent natives in the continents to the east have prevented Ullera from establishing meaningful colonies.

Gameplay will likely be limited to three player characters at a time. Pathfinder RPG rules will be used, augmented by third party steampunk expansions (mainly 3.0 books, actually). Players will all run gestalt characters (taking the best of any two classes).

Gameplay in the first campaign will include limited options. Greater options will be 'unlocked' as the world is explored (Example: once players encounter Knights of Rausch, the paladin class will become available.)

Players will start in Ullera (in game one), and race/class options will be limited to:

Races: Human, Half-elf, Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Halfling.
Classes: Barbarian, Bard, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer.

Magic knowledge available to players will be limited to 3rd level spells until higher knowledge is unlocked.

Equipment: Modified black powder weapons exist. Reloading will take something like two full rounds (anything more will make it little fun for an RPG), which can be reduced by feats and class features.

There's plenty to flesh out here. Hit me up with questions. I'm sure there are aspects I haven't considered yet!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3.5 Sorcerer, I Can't Stop Myself

I really like the new feel of my sorcerer class, but I feel like it's missing the mark. I wanted sorcery to feel so different from wizardry (in execution, not in power or effect). I thought the pseudospell powers would do the trick, but I quickly learned (thanks to some friendly DMs) that it would be hard to adjudicate. So I scrapped it. But without it, I feel the whole point of my endeavor was unmet.

Something I have considered and am now reconsidering is treating sorcerer spells like psionic powers. Those unfamiliar with psionics...well, instead of spell slots and spells per day, the psionicist gets points which they spend to evoke powers, and they can spend more points to augment those powers as they see fit (increasing damage, extending duration, adding secondary effects, etc.)

In my experience, psionics come with their own set of pains, but (like many non-standard ideas) they work if used responsibly.

A spell point system truly opens up the caster to (near) complete freedom. He could throw everything he has into his fireball, augmenting it to max damage, but leaving himself spell-less until the next day.

Here is a good basic spell point concept. What it lacks is the complete freedom of augmentation (this one only allows for increasing of damage dice from the minimum).

Here's an example of a psionic power and the augmentation possibility: The first-level power force screen (the psionic equivalent to shield) allows this: "For every 4 additional power points you spend, the shield bonus to Armor Class improves by 1."

And another: This is found in the power energy bolt, a third-level Wilder power: "For every additional power point you spend, this power’s damage increases by one die (d6). For each extra two dice of damage, this power’s save DC increases by 1."

In summary, I'm considering changing sorcerer spell slots to spell points, using an amalgam of the variant spell point rules and psionic power augmentation. If I do that, I'll remove the bonus feats from the sorcerer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Customized Paladin Code

One of the difficulties of playing a paladin (or DMing for a paladin, or being in a party with a paladin) is the strictness of the code of said paladin.

One of the more difficult things about most paladins I've seen played (and played myself) is the lack of a defined code. The gameplay is then reduced to presumption about what the paladin can and can't do.

One of the natural tendencies for most of us in the Western world is to assume that every paladin fits in the Knight Templar box. The reality is that in almost every D&D world, there are vast pantheons of deities that expect their followers to act very differently.

In Forgotten Realms, for example, a paladin of Sune should act a lot different than a paladin of Hoar. Heck, even two paladins of the same deity could (and usually should) have different codes, capturing their own emphasis on certain tenets of their patron deity (much like chosen domains of a cleric).

This then requires the characters to establish a code at character creation; this may be a daunting task (or your players might be lazy).

If you want to take a look at the option, hit me up and I'll send the doc to you (it's 15 pages!)

NOTE: I didn't create this and I have no idea where it comes from, but I like it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Real World Dungeon Room

The most treacherous 5'x5' space on earth is in my office. Some crazy lady got fired and they just now got around to cleaning her cubicle. The pics below are her office space after an hour of diligent cleaning. You can imagine the original disposition.

Incorporate this into your next dungeon and watch your players retire instantly.


What a mess!: The entire room is treated as hindering terrain. Also, creatures in this area have concealment.

Trap: Bowl of rotten food (CR 4). Has been festering for several months. Upon opening, characters within 30ft must succeed on a Fort Save (DC 20) or be nauseated for 1d6 hours.

Incongruent Philosophies: The walls of this room are plastered with a myriad of demotivational anecdotal cartoons, watered down Christian philosophy, random quotable phrases, and pictures of long-dead pets. Understanding the beliefs of the inhabitant requires a Decipher Script check (DC 30) which takes several minutes. It is likely that during this time you will be attacked by a...

Cockroach Swarm (CR 5)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Magic Missile the Fat One!

I have a player that made an obese character. That presents all sorts of interesting possibilities, mind you.

I decided to make up game statistics for the overweight. Here goes:

Character Trait: Obesity

Benefit: You are treated as one category larger for the purposes of opposed rolls such as trip attempts, bull rush attempts, and grappling.

Drawback: You are treated as under medium encumbrance.