Saturday, March 31, 2012

Player Chosen Stats: Courage

Last time I spoke about High and Low ability scores and how I used them in my games.  In addition to the four primary ability scores players could choose two ability scores that best reflected their character's quirks and virtues.    The most noteworthy aspect was that a low score was not necessarily a punishing score, instead a low score functioned in a complementary fashion to the boons of a high score.  In this series I'm going to take a look at each of these optional stats, how I want them to operate and how they were originally represented mechanically.  This time we're going to look at Courage.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

High and Low Ability Scores

N. Wright over at Lawful Indifferent has an interesting post on Inverse Ratios specifically the relation between ability scores and magical ability.  In the system he proposes the worse off your standard ability scores are the greater your magical potential is.  It's a neat idea and I've been toying with the idea myself but I'll get to that later.  The really great part of the post is the explanation for why.  You see Magic is an intoxicating and corrupting agent, drawing heavily on the magical forces both weakens the mind and the body. It is not uncommon for a magic-user to have shaking hands, poor focus and a gaunt figure.  Now Wizards as drug addicts doesn't appeal to everyone but I think we can all appreciate it when a game mechanic subtly does a bit of world building for you.  I know I do.  I plan on doing a series on World Building through mechanics and attention to detail but that is time for another day.  In the meantime I'd like to share what I've been doing with giving low scores a purpose which Lawful Indifferent inspired me to take another look at.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Intrepid Score and Ability Modifiers

From last I spoke I was extolling the virtues of the Intrepid Score.  A seventh stat that allowed hero's to save their bacon from time to time without being an infallible safety net, my take on the oft reviled hero points of many a system.  This time I want to come back to Ability Modifiers and how the Intrepid Score may have solved my problem with Ability Score Inflation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Intrepid Score

As I was starting to write my post on the convergence between ability checks and saving throws I realized that I was referencing something that I hadn't discussed before.  That would be the Intrepid Score.  The Intrepid Score is a lot like Hero Points in that it allows our intrepid young adventurers brief periods of stardom although the exact method of doing so is a little different.  Let me first start with how the Intrepid score is determined and what it does in mechanical terms before I begin waxing on about its impact on the metagame.

Determining Your Seventh Stat
The Intrepid Score is a measure of your stalwart heroics, it is your seventh stat and is determined randomly.    Fear not though as your Intrepid Score is a resource meant to be depleted in your adventuring day and at the end of each adventure arc your score resets anew.  At the beginning of each arc of an adventure your score resets to zero, you then roll a d6 and add your level to it to determine your new Intrepid Score.
Optional:  If you find the Intrepid Score of a PC does not last as long as you like you may also have the score reset and refresh whenever they level.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Activating Magical Items

Brendan over at Untimately is having an interesting discussion on the experimentation and identification of magic items.  My comment grew so long I decided to turn it into a blogpost of its own so here we are.

When I first started as a player any weapon that was given a description, even as something as common as an ornate hilt, was deemed potentially magical and it was held onto until such a thing could be determined.  This mindset has transferred to my players when I took up the DM mantle.  It helps that they behave as hoarders for even the most trifling of items.

As for how to determine the actual magic properties of an item this is a bit of a tough call.  Josh D. is right that if you don't tell them what it is then keeping track of +1 to hit and damage can be a bit of a pain.  The way I've been doing it has been to rethink how magic items, weapons specifically, work.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Trio of Vancian Inspired Spells

As promised from yesterday here is a trio of spells I've made that try to emulate Vance's style as best I can.  From my notes and yesterday's painfully long post I determined that this mean spells named after famous magicians, spells with weird effects, spell names using archaic or underutilized words in a language, and spell names that give a good idea towards what the spell does although ambiguity is a plus.

These three will be lesser spells, as I wrote yesterday Vance made a distinction between Lesser and Formidable spells for his Wizards.  I thought it would be a keen idea to allow Lesser spells to occupy all the whimsical fancies of a precocious magic-user whereas formidable spells are reserved for the terrifying tales of stalwart sorcerers.  As you'll see from this post and others, Lesser spells are either too specific to be useful in many occasions or provide a much needed fix but only under certain circumstances.  This time I'll be posting three lesser spells with a fair degree of usability named after famous magicians.  Next time I'll be posting three lesser spells that are entirely situational and likely whimsical. 

Liam's Soporific Problem Solver
 The roguish Liam had a bad habit of putting his foot in his mouth and this spell was born out of his consistent social and often criminal debacles.  The enchantment puts the mortal into a momentary state of fugue, their memories of immediate events are hazy and dream-like giving the caster a second chance.
The mortal is not actually rendered asleep and the longer the caster or another creature stays near the bewitched mortal the faster their recovery, so in a botched bit of thievery it is best to exit the scene immediately and hope your dozing friend cannot put together the pieces of your last encounter. 
Egon's Disastrous Enervation. 
Many believe this spell was closer to a curse than traditional arcana, nevertheless it was a well used tool in Egon's Arsenal.  Egon always had a talent for exploiting the strengths of his aggressors and this spell is no different.  It saps their vim, vigor and vitality when they need it the most.
Many a tale are told when Egon cast this hex upon the giant with boulder above his head ready to crush the spindly wizard, or the time he revealed the dreaded black knight's identity when she could no longer bear the burden of her armor.

Miere's Assuaging Effulgence
A simple cantrip from one o the first magicians, although many will say she did naught but dabble.  This spell grants a soothing glow when those around are most anxious.  A fail-safe for when sudden winds blow out your torch or when the sun fearing beasts of the Wyld are upon your trail.
In recent years many an unscrupulous Wizard have adapted what was once a pristine spell into a trifling set of mood lighting.  The old farmer's adage still holds true today, never leave your daughter round any that don a robe and wizard hat.

A special thank you to Chris Pound for his automated Dying Earth Spell Generator and Max of Malevolent & Benign for putting together a wonderful resource for people looking to use archaic verbose terminology in their quest for spell creation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vancian Magic

After yesterday's dreadfully long post I'd like to keep this one short and to the point.  It will also give me time to work on the series of posts I plan on writing about merging Saving Throws and Ability Checks.  In the meantime I'd like to talk a little bit about Vancian Magic.

Jeff Rients asked the community what they would like to see in a magic system that Vancian magic does not promote.  Here are some of the responses that I think particularly stood out:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Abiliy Mod Inflation

Brendan over at Untimately referred me to this post when I was talking about ability checks and saving throws (and possibly mixing the two) over at Roger the GS' post about Vancian Magic (I've a post on that matter as well but all in due time).  While I still plan on doing an extensive writeup on ability checks and saving throws and merging the two, it will have to wait until I've collected my thoughts and sifted through the labyrinth that has become my notes.  This time I'm going to talk about ability mod inflation, my experience with them and possible solutions I've tried.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Adding a bit of Vance to the World

I'm glad I read Vance's Dying Earth last year as it has done wonders for making my world for fantastic and more interactive.  Last week I ran a game in an unspecified world and I decided to inject a bit of Vance into the setting.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Crunch Time Results

Crunch time was a worthy endeavor.  Although I did not manage to fulfill all the goals I set out to these last few hectic days I still have the motivation to keep going and that's what is important.  As I mentioned previously I hadn't updated my formal draft in a while and instead stuck to my increasingly disorganized notes.  Part of the reason is layout, the other part was that I had to take care of a major rewrite of a core section of the system.  Until I did I didn't feel comfortable adding anything else while something so important was left broken and scattered.  I fixed that section, I rewrote it from scratch at least half a dozen times and I wasn't sure I'd ever make progress on it but I persevered.   I'm sure there's more necessary revisions to be done but I'm glad, because now I have something working, something that resembles what I originally set out to do.  Now, I can continue adding reworking now that I've slain this latest beast.  No longer does that insurmountable feeling hold me able fingers back, I can start writing anew and that made this an important hurdle to cross.

Also, I really enjoyed posting everyday, although I certainly didn't have the time for it.  I think it's something to strive for in the future.  Well, provided I have anything to write about!