Monday, March 25, 2013

Weapons & Ores

I'm changing tact on this blog for the time being. I feel as if I've been able to locate my "narrative voice" and will be leaving out the quotations at the beginning of my blog posts. I have posted some more stories on here since I made that commitment and I think, for the time being, I will be separating the fiction-based posts from my gaming-based posts more clearly.

So, this is a gaming-based post. I will be discussing the Weapons and how they interact with Ores. Weapons, within the setting and ruleset of Sophia's Children, can degrade over time, break completely and also be reinforced through Ores -- resources that a Armsmith can hammer into your Weapons. My goal is to create an entire subgame oriented around Weapons, their maintenance, creation and reinforcement.

I have settled on a simple and minimally-fantastic set of materials that Weapons are made from. They are as follows:
  • Copper & Bronze: A cheap material that is still used for tools and crude weaponry.
  • Iron & Steel: The most common material used. Reliable, relatively cost-effective.
  • Adamant: A super-strong material derived from iron. It comes in several qualities. The most basic form is known as "Hassan Steel" and its furnishment is known to the Hassan people. More advanced forms are taken from the Ancient Cities themselves.
  • Carmot: A legendary material lost to time. Delvers have hauled troves of this substance from the Ancient Cities. Great weapons of unknown make have also been discovered forged of this substance as well. It appears to be sort of ceramic or stone, but can be worked into shapes as Steel/Adamant. Carmot comes in several "colors" that are indicative of how "refined" it is. The simplest forms of Carmot, while powerful, cannot be repaired -- the most powerful forms can be reinforced with Ore made from this legendary substance.
Weapons within the setting are made of one of these substances, each of which has a few degrees of quality. The quality of a Weapon's make dictates the degree to which it can be upgraded with Ores. For example: Copper Weapons can not be upgraded at all, Iron Weapons can only receive one Dense Iron Ore.

All Weapons are also subject to Durability loss. Durability is checked whenever Resting for each piece of equipment that has seen use since the last Rest. For Weapons, this means for each Weapon that was used for combat in the interim. I will post more extensively about this system in the future, but basically this a 1d6 roll. If a 5 or higher, no Durability is lost. If less than 5, 1 point is lost. 

When a Weapon loses its last point of Durability it becomes Cracked. When a Weapon becomes Cracked it either 1) loses the benefits of its Ores/Upgrades or 2) functions as a base Weapon of the previous quality level if it has no Ores/Upgrades installed.

A Weapon when Cracked, can still be used, but risks being Broken and lost entirely. The Durability check for a Cracked Weapon is made the same as before, but instead loses 1 point of Durability from its Maximum. When a Weapon loses its last point of Maximum Durability it is Broken and lost forever.

The exception here are Copper/Bronze Weapons which will Break when losing their final point of Durability. A Bronze Weapon that has been reinforced with Bronze Ore will NOT Break, but loses the benefit of its reinforcement until it can be repaired.

Here are some example Weapons of each Quality type.

Copper Sword (Arming Sword): +1 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: 0.5 * Better of Strength or Agility. Requires: Strength 1. Durability: 2 of 2. Cannot be Reinforced.

Bronze Axe (Battle Axe): +0 Attack, 3d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: 1.0 * Strength. Requires: Strength 2. Durability: 2 of 2. Reinforced: Sharp Bronze Ore (+1 Attack).

Iron Hand Axe (Hand Axe): +0 Attack, 2d6+2 Damage, Scaling Grade: 1.0 * Strength. No Requirements. Durability: 3 of 3. Reinforced: Dense Iron Ore (+1d6 Damage).

Steel Flanged Mace (Mace): +3 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: 2.0 * Strength. Requires: Strength 2. Durability: 3 of 3. Reinforced: Sharp Iron Ore (+1 Attack), Smooth Iron Ore (+0.5 Scaling Grade).

"Hassan Steel" (Adamant, Simple) Saif: +4 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: 1.0 * Better of Strength or Agility. Requires: Strength 3. Durability 4 of 4. Cannot be Reinforced.

Red Carmot Claymore: +2 Attack, 3d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: 3.0 * Strength. Requires: Strength 4. Durability: 5 of 5. Can receive two Carmot Ore Reinforcements.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Combat While Climbing / Swimming / Jumping

"In the wilderness there are Man-Eaters, wild cats of hybrid parentage. The rare union of a Dweller and a wild Lion results in these half-caste Beasts. They retain the black fur and cunning of their smaller parent, but the ferocity and size of their wild one. They delight in the hunting of Men, hence the name. . ."
-Alice the Hunter, Warden at the Outskirts of Nein

The Man-Eater, a Hunter of Men

The system of combat in Sophia's Children is equipped with a simplistic method for adjudicating combat across all sorts of terrain. I will elaborate in this post the set of rulings that guide the management of combat that involves climbing, swimming, moving around difficult terrain and even jumping.

Movement Rates

Movement rates are not necessary to track during combat, but may be helpful for specific adjudications. The specific rates are taken from D&D directly and dictated by Armor worn.

A Character in no or Light Armor moves at 120' an Action. A Character in Heavy or Super Heavy Armor, who meets the Strength Requirement, moves at 80' an Action. A Character who is Slowed (either by effect or through wearing Heavy / Super Heavy Armor without the Requirement) moves at 60' an Action. Walking is at the normal rate. Running is twice the normal rate.


Falling Damage is 1d6 per 10' fallen. In addition, a Save can be made to break one's fall. In no or Light Armor this is a Standard Save. In Heavy or Super Heavy Armor this is a Hard Save. Making the Save halves the Damage; failing the Save you take full Damage and are Stunned.

Difficult Terrain & Transitioning Between Terrain

Moving within difficult terrain (waist-high water, mud, swamp land et cetera) takes twice as long as walking normally. Also: whether you are Running or Walking, you are allowed to transition between "types" of terrain once per Action.

E.G.: Run up to a ladder and climb up it to the top. Walk across a shallow muddy pit and step into position on the dry land adjacent to it.


Your Climbing speed is one half your regular movement rate. If you are not tracking movement in specific detail, expect that Climbing takes twice as long as Walking.

If you are currently climbing while in combat you face the possibility of falling if you are HIT. Make a Save based on the type of Armor you are wearing (None, Light: Standard; Heavy, Super Heavy: Hard). If you fail this Save you immediately Fall and may take additional Damage from this as per the Falling rules.


Your Swimming speed is half your regular movement rate. If you are not tracking movement in specific detail, swimming a distance takes twice as long as Walking. Swimming is considered any movement in water above waist-level.

Being hit during combat while Swimming results in a Save (again, the type is indicated by Armor worn). Failing this Save results in being Pinned: unable to Walk, Run, Dodge or perform Intercepts (Fighters also lose and cannot regain Poise while Pinned). Removing this status requires spending an Action where all that is done is "getting up" from Pinned -- in this case it is "righting" oneself in the water.


Jumping is simply your movement speed divided by 10. Running, since this doubles your Walking speed, also doubles your Jumping distance. Jumping counts as a "transition" between terrain so it stops your movement. Jumping from a higher to a lower area also requires checking for Falling Damage and Stunning as per those rules.

E.G.: A Character in Light Armor, who is Running, can make a Jump of 24 feet (120' x2 = 240' / 10 = 24'). A Character wearing no armor, who has been slowed, can only Walk (due to being Slowed) and Jump 6 feet (60' / 10 = 6').

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Further On Shields

"The Old Witch had a menagerie of Familiars with her. Some were like small animals. Others like insects. One looked a small boy, but couldn't have been her child. Another was a wooden box beset on a set of steel pins that it scurried around on. They gathered around as I approached. Silently she gestured to the menagerie and they scurried to the other corner of the cabin."
-Anis Al-Farid, Explorer of Nod

I did some further refining of the calculations for Armor as per my reflections on this post. As a result I have further refined my thinking on Shields. Here is how they currently work:

A Shield is used in one of your Hands slots: in the Off Hand paired with a Weapon in the Main Hand. Equipping a Shield has three effects. Note: I talk about the various Weapon Styles in more detail previously in this post.

  1. A Shield confers a passive bonus to Armor Class, Damage Reduction or even Special Resistance -- depending on the Shield itself.
  2. A Shield opens up the option of Blocking in response to an Attack. This immediately increases your Armor Class by 4 -- though some powerful Shields increase BOTH Armor Class and Special Resistance. This move requires a Stun Save as with other defensive actions whose difficulty (Easy, Standard or Hard) depends on the Shield. Blocking with a Shield you do not have the Strength to wield effectively automatically Stuns.
  3. A Shield can be used to make a Basic Attack which triggers an Opportunity Attack with your Main Hand Weapon when rolling Natural-Evens (as with Dual Wielding). Using a Shield in this manner negates the passive bonus to defense until your next Action. Attacking with Shield you do not have the Strength Requirement to wield is a Clumsy Attack as with other Weapons. Also: the Opportunity Attack triggered by this move follows the same rules as Dual Wielding Weapons, Requires Agility of 2, otherwise the Opportunity Attack is Clumsy.

Also: Fighters who have Proficiency in Shields use their Shield for the making the Advanced and Power Attacks associated with the Proficiency, not their Main Hand Weapon.

Some Examples:

Iron Buckler (Light Shield, Requires: Strength 1)
This small, round shield wraps around the forearm and provides decent protection. 
+1 Damage Reduction, Blocking: Easy Save
+0 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: (Strength * 1.0)

Composite Tall Shield (Large Shield, Requires: Strength 1)
This tall, rectangular shield is made of wood inside a reinforced iron frame.
+2 Damage Reduction, Blocking: Normal Save
+0 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: (Strength * 1.0)

Strange Leather Shield (Light Shield, Requires: Strength 2)
This circular shield is a steel frame which has the black, bubbly hide of an unknown Ur-Beast stretched across it.
+2 Special Resistance, Blocking: Easy Save
+1 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Scaling Grade: (Strength * 2.0)

Who didn't love the combat in the movie 300?

Hit Points & Hit Dice, The Gaining of

"The Knights of Nod. The Old Guard you will find in the custody of these arrogant Baron Houses. They are the charges of the remnants of the Warlords who once stormed across Nod in their conquest for power and land. There are Brotherhoods who call no Baron House their Master -- these are the Errant Brotherhoods. We have also heard tell of Mage-Knights -- an ancient discipline -- who keep the old ways in distant places from here."
-Lady Knight Elise of Suffolk, of the Black Dog Brotherhood

Just a brief post regarding the progression of Hit Points. I have retained the mechanic of Hit Dice, but in a slightly modified form. There is still rolling for Hit Points, but with some modifications. All beginning, Level 0, PCs begin with Hit Dice of 1d6+8. Hit Dice are rerolled when raising a Level and also when coming back from the Dead status (which I detail more in this post).

Seemed apropos. . .
The calculation is simple. You roll the number of six-sided die indicated and add the number to the right of the plus-sign to the total. When going up in Level, you roll your Hit Dice again -- but replace your Base Hit Points if the total is higher than the original. To these Base Hit Points you then add your Hit Dice gain by Class and also modify your Hit Dice by the new gain.

Coming back from Death is traumatizing to the body and soul (NOT from Dying -- only if you have been fully dropped to Dead and then returned to life with Major Healing -- read more about Healing works here). When this occurs you roll your Hit Dice again, but instead of retaining the higher value than your Base Hit Points, you replace your Base Hit Points with this roll if it is lower. This mechanic represents the shock coming back from the Dead has on the body -- replacing "system shock" and similar mechanics from other D&D and derived systems.

The following table includes Hit Dice gains by Class: the Classes that will be included in the playtest. A PC's Class is Commoner prior to selecting their adventuring Class at Level 1.
HD at Level 01d6+8N/AN/AN/A
HD Gain at Level 1N/A*1d6+101d6+51d6
HD Gain at Level Up0*1d6+61d6+41d6+2
*: Commoners (Level 0 PCs) reroll their Hit Dice, keeping the higher of the roll or their current Base Hit Points, when gaining Level 1/2, but receive no further Hit Dice until gaining Level 1 and choosing a Class.

Example: Stephan is a Level 0 Commoner. He rolls a 3 on 1d6 and adds 8 to this roll for a beginning Base Hit Points of 11. Stephan then, through adventuring, gains a 1/2 Level. He rerolls his Hit Dice (1d6+8) and scores a 5 on his roll. Added to 8, this is 13 -- higher than his original Base Hit Points -- which he then replaces his Base Hit Points with.

Stephan gains a further Level and selects to train as a Thief. He first rerolls his Hit Dice and rolls a 2. Added to 8 this is 10 -- less than his current Base -- so he retains the 13. To this 13 he adds 1d6+5, rolling a 2, for a total of 7 additional Hit Points to Base. Stephan's new Base Hit Points are 20 and his new Hit Dice are 2d6+13.

Stephan, in the course of his adventuring gets killed. His companions take his body to the Hospital Main and a Surgeon applies a technique that brings him back life (Stephan makes his Death Save after Major Healing is applied). As a result Stephan must reroll his Hit Dice and keep the lesser of the result or his present Base Hit Points. Stephan rolls his 2d6 and gets a 6, which he then adds 13 to for a total of 19. Since this is less than his present Base of 20, his new Base Hit Points are 19.

In other news, I think I am pleased with the revisions I have made to the Armor system. I think this blogging process has helped in putting together my thoughts on Sophia's Children and is moving the process of a releasable playtest document more of a possibility.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Example Armors and Rings of Power

"You'll need to bring your weapons and armor in for repairs when you return. If your weapon breaks, it will become less effective. If you keep using this cracked weapon, it can be rendered useless and irreparable."
-Albion the Armsmith

I spent some time today recalculating the numbers for Armor and Rings. Note: While Armors can be bought, repaired through normal channels -- Rings can not. While it is possible to find Rings for sale in the Free Market or the Black Market, it is more typical to find these covetously possessed by their owners as the Charge possessed by each Ring is irreplaceable. Once depleted, a Ring of Power is a simple trinket with no magic.

Additional note regarding the Durability of Armor and the Charge of Rings. Armor checks for Durability loss only during Resting and once during Upkeep. Rings only check for loss of Charge when removing the Ring. Also: Rings provide their bonus to the wearer following a complete Rest as Rings of Power attune themselves to wearers over the course of a complete sleep cycle. However, removing a Ring immediately cancels whatever enchantment it provided the wearer as well as triggering an immediate check for loss of inherent Charge.

I have included some examples below of Armor and Rings that will included in the playtest. Some of these will a part of a Character's Background, other pieces may be examples of what is for sale at particular locations or possible to find in troves of treasure.

Leather Hardcoat (Light Armor)
This long leathered coat reaches past the knees and has a high collar that protects the back of the neck and face.
+2 Armor Class, Durability: 6 of 6, Requires: Strength 1

Slumming Leathers (Light Armor)
This common outfit worn by slummers is made up of a pair of stiff leather pants and leather jack.
+1 Armor Class, Durability: 4 of 4, Requires: Strength 1

Brigandine Suit (Heavy Armor)
This iron-lined doublet comes with reinforced breeches and arm-guards.
+1 Armor Class, +1 Damage Reduction, Durability 5 of 5, Requires: Strength 1

Old Breast Plate (Super Heavy Armor)
A cast-off from a full set of plate. Offers a degree of protection.
+1 Damage Reduction, Durability 4 of 4, Requires: Strength 2

Bronze Laminar (Super Heavy Armor)
This hardened-bronze laminar breast plate comes with cuisses for the legs and iron bracers.
+2 Damage Reduction, Durability 6 of 6, Requires: Strength 2

Ring of Protection
This iron band is warm to the touch. A humming seems to emanate from it when brought to one's ear.
+1 Special Resistance, Charge 4

Ring of Shielding
This silvery ring has a purple stone embedded into a divot. It pulses with a warmth, as if alive.
+6 Maximum Hit Points, Charge 4

Ring of Coagulation
This red band of metal is extraordinarily smooth.
Saves against Bleeding effects are one step easier. I.E.: Standard Saves are Easy, Hard Saves are Standard. Charge 3

Ring of Inoculation
This greenish band of copper is shaped as an intertwined knotting of vines.
Whenever you are hit with a Poison effect, make an immediate Save against the effect. This Save does not count against the Poison effect. If you are already under the effect of Poison, successfully Saving against the new Poison will prevent the new Poison from enhancing the already-existing effect. Charge 5

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Good versus Good versus Good

I was reading some postings today on Alignment (starting at Tenkar's Tavern), where I had some thoughts about Alignment in Sophia's Children. Specifically how the three major Religions upon Nod: The All-One Church, Messianic Church and the Baptists differ in their implementation of Good.

The Matriarchal Messianic Church
will use force, any force necessary
The Messianic Church is Dominant Good in Alignment. The overarching approach of governance is through control, force and institutional power. The goal of this approach is to create the most benefit for all and to crush the forces that would work against this goal. Using force, physical force if necessary, to accomplish the most good.

A Paladin ready to enforce The Oath
of the All-One Church
The All-One Church is Lawful Good in Alignment. The methods employed by they is to employ fairness, rule of laws that are consistently applied and justice in the service of the same ends as the Messianics: create the most good for all while suppressing the forces that would sabotage this goal. To trust in and enforce a code, a system, that furthers the most good.

An example of a Chaotic Good force upon Nod are the Baptists. They cooperate with the Messianic Church -- to the degree that they are allowed -- towards the end of serving the people. They are not overly attached with converting Messianics to their religion, only seeking to seize opportunities to do good in the world. To take whatever opportunities exist to do good.

The Messianic Church tolerates the Baptists as they are not a force that threatens them and also because they work towards similar goals. However, within the All-One Church's State the Baptists are forced to convert -- indeed, the practice of any religion but the State's is illegal.

The forces of "Good" are not necessarily the forces of "Kumbaya."

Defenses, Armor Et Cetera

"Being chartered as a Privateer allows me to act on contracts through the Guard, but without any of the oversight being a charge of the State brings. Unfortunately, that makes me an easier target by those who disapprove of us meddling in criminal affairs. I have no particular grievance with the Thief Guilds, I'm looking to make some coin just like them!"
-Jones the Fighter

Blah. So, I've been revising the Armor and Defenses systems several times over in developing Sophia's Children. The Weaponry and Attacks system is well-forged at this point -- but that went through many more iterations before I settled on something. This blog post is going to be my thoughts on where things are at in the design -- so it is a little stream of consciousness.

Initially I started with a piece-meal armor system that calculated the total Armor Points of all Armor worn to calculate Armor Class and Special Resistance. I realized in doing character creation and some very minimal play testing that this was WAY TOO unwieldy and would bog down the play of the game itself. I retained the system, but "behind the scenes" to create the Armor items themselves which resulted in:

My second iteration which has all Armor worn as a single piece of equipment. While this has the simplicity I desire for a tabletop game, I am still flummoxed by my desire to differentiate further the two kinds of defenses in the system: Armor Class and Special Resistance.

The goal of the design is to present the choice to the player of gearing up against mundane attackers or against supernatural attackers. The other level of differentiation is between simpler abilities and stronger "special attackers" that usually target Special Resistance.

I am still mulling over several different systems and am actually mining all sorts of game design documents for ideas. Here is what I am presently considering:

All equipment is on four "slots." Your Main Hand and Off Hand which may include one two-handed weapon, two weapons or a weapon + shield. Your Armor which is a single piece of equipment that confers defense against mundane attacks. And your Ring which is a magical piece of equipment that confers defense against supernatural abilities.

I have, in this current iteration, split Special Resistance away from Armor. Your Ring (the only "magic item slot" in the system) can confer additional points of Special Resistance and may also provide additional bonuses to defenses against status effects. Some Rings even have additional abilities that go beyond just providing defense. I talk about Rings some more in this post.

Armor will continue to be in three type: Light, Heavy and Super Heavy. Light Armor will provide Armor Class points only. Heavy Armor will provide Damage Reduction and Armor Class. Super Heavy Armor will provide Damage Reduction only, but will only reduce the Agility bonus to Armor Class in half -- not the Intellect bonus to Special Resistance.

Armor providing bonus Maximum Hit Points was starting to create strange exceptions in my systems, it is simpler to recalculate the Armor types based on them only providing Armor Class and Damage Reduction.

Rings can now provide Special Resistance and / or Maximum Hit Points. The bonus Hit Points provided by Rings are a sort of supernatural effect of wearing the device. This does not cause strange effect as with Armor since Rings must be worn over a night's sleep (during a Rest, basically) to attune themselves to their wearer.

A result of this change is taking a look at how Dodging, Parrying and Blocking impact the defenses. Presently, all three reactive moves generate the same +4 to AC and SR -- though only Parrying can be used against Melee Attacks. As of now, in the design documents, Dodging will be useful against both AC and SR Attacks of all kinds (Melee or Ranged). Blocking is good against AC Attacks, both Ranged and Melee. Parrying is only good against AC Melee Attacks.

Sometimes my brain gets "stuck" trying to come up with a solution to these issues. While the above feels like a good solution and creates the diversity I am looking for at the complexity-threshold appropriate for a tabletop RPG, I still need to sit with it awhile.