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.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Theater of the Mind Tactical Combat

"There is a Grand Party that all the young folk have been attending. There is a Special Cost associated with the invitation. You must give this Cost to the Hooded Escort. The Escort appears at Midnight on certain days of the week, near the Wall of the Ancient City. I have been to the Party once; I knew someone who was able to collect the Special Cost -- he had it wrapped in a bit of butcher's paper."
-Young 'Piper' (an Opium smoker) in an Opium-Den in the Southerly Slums of Nein

The combat system in Sophia's Children is a hybrid of Theater of the Mind and Tactical Combat. There is no grid upon which the combat occurs and all positioning is relative. I have intended for combat to be either represented by minis, but easily done using no minis at all.

In this post I want to lay out the Basic Rules governing combat relations. They are, in my opinion, very simple and straightforward and allow for plenty of tactical play at the same time. The rules have some other wrinkles, but they all build on top of these very simple axioms.

Relations & Targetting

 All combatants exist in spatial relation with one another as well as an oppositional relation. Allied combatants are either Close to one another or Far. Opposed combatants are either Engaged with one another or Far. Your spatial relations with allies will also impact your spatial relation with opponents. Anytime an opponent becomes Engaged with you, they also become Engaged with any allies who are Close with you. Also, in reverse, Moving from Engaged to Far with one opponent Disengages you from all opponents who are Close with one another.

A Melee occurs when at least one combatant is Engaged with at least one opponent. Barring certain special circumstances and abilities, Melee Attacks may only be attempted when inside of a Melee and against those opponents. Flanking is a result of having more allies in a Melee than your opponents. If you and your allies (who are Close to you) outnumber the opponents in a Melee -- you and your allies in the Melee are Flanking them. So, in reverse, if the opponents in the Melee outnumber you and your allies -- you are being Flanked. Flanking is required for certain Melee Abilities -- such as the Thief's.

Line of Sight is when a combatant has direct aim to an opponent. This has two requirements: 1) there must be no intervening allies or opponents between and 2) if the target is in a Melee, they must NOT be Flanked. Basically, Line of Sight is inverted Flanking. Line of Sight is used as a condition for certain Ranged Attacks requiring precision.


There are two sorts of movement in combat, Walking and Running. Walking represents carefully striding across the battlefield. Running represents quickly moving across the battlefield, usually in combination with some other action. Walking is its own action, though you can move in and out of Close and Engaged with allies and opponents with it. Running can be combined with other actions, such as attacking, and also moves you in and out of Close / Engaged in relation to other combatants.

If you are Engaged with an opponent and choose to Run out of the Melee, you Provoke an Opportunity Attack from each opponent you are Engaged with who are armed with Melee Weapons. If you Walk out of the Melee, you do not Provoke, but any opponents who are Guarding with a Melee Weapon may take an Opportunity Attack against you. If you are HIT by any of these Opportunity Attacks, the attacker may cancel your move and keep you in the Melee.

It is possible to Flee from combat under certain circumstances. First, you move to the edge of the combat zone -- this is an arbitrary boundary set up by the encounter. E.G.: the stairs leading to a different floor, the door exiting the building, a hallway adjacent to the room. Once on the edge of the combat area, you can Run from the combat zone and are taken out of the combat -- this Run may provoke Opportunity Attacks if you end up in a Melee at the edge of the combat area or if Ranged Attackers are Guarding.


Guarding is a Basic Action that any combatant can opt to perform instead of attacking. If you Guard with a Melee Weapon, you are able to perform two reactive actions: 1) any opponent who Walks or Runs into a Melee with you Provokes an Opportunity Attack, 2) any opponent who Walks OUT of a Melee with you Provokes. It is the Guarders choice whether or not to make this attack, as they will no longer be Guarding after the attack.

When Guarding with a Ranged Weapon, a combatant has similar options: any opponent who Runs in Line of Sight triggers an Opportunity Attack. This requires some adjudication, but if the Guarder can directly see any part of the movement, they get a free Basic Attack with their Ranged Weapon. Walking does not trigger this attack.

Whenever a combatant who is using Ranged Weapons is Engaged in a Melee, they will Provoke Opportunity Attacks from their opponents under certain circumstances. ANY Ranged Attack they make will Provoke an opponent who is NOT the target of the attack. E.G.: If a combatant, armed with a Short Bow, is Engaged with one opponent in Melee and attacks that opponent -- there is no Opportunity Attack. However, if under the same circumstances, but with an additional opponent in the Melee, the opponent who is NOT the target of the Short Bow attack gets a free Basic Attack.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Exchange

Damn. Damn it all.

We got through the doors into this old tower within the Ancient City -- only to find ourselves at the bottom of this pit.

"What goes up, must come down!" Always the clown, Nina the Thief, exclaimed.

"We hadn't even gone up, yet, Nina. But here we are." I responded.

We dusted ourselves off and examined the area we were in. Garrin manifested a flickering flame upon the quarterstaff he carried, which lit the bottom of the pit.

"Well, it could be worse," Garrin pointed the lighted end of his staff towards the chute we came down, "this could have dropped us straight down onto these rocks."

I looked closely at the metal that made up the chute and brought my hand to it. Smooth to the touch, even after thousands of years.

The wall immediately across from our entrance to this pit had a large, arched portal to some dark area. "We should probably head that way." I announced to my companions.

We exited into a long hallway with smooth, stone walls. There was an ancient smell in the area, like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

"There are supposed to be Godlings in this part of the Ancient City. They will overtake these ancient structures, turning them into lairs." Garrin casually schooled us in some of his Delvers' lore.

"Have you ever seen a Godling, Garrin?" Nina asked. She was new to all this: Garrin and I picked  her up back at the Delvers Guild Hall.

"Yes. They look like Men, basically." Garrin responded, "Don't believe the stories you've heard."

The long hallway ended abruptly at a "T" intersection. "Are we even under the tower anymore?" I asked out loud.

"It's difficult to tell, but I would say not." said Nina.

As we stood at the intersection we heard sounds coming from both directions. "Snuff it!" I whispered to Garrin. He extinguished the manifestation on his staff.

There were murmurings coming from both directions along with the sounds of many feet upon the rocks. "We should do good about hiding right about now!" Nina suggested.

In the darkness, we felt our way back down the hall towards the pit. We stopped at about halfway back, knelt down with our weapons drawn.

Lights at the end of the hallway. "I thought Godlings could see the in dark?" I asked Garrin.

"Yes, they don't need light. Let's wait and see what happens."

Then a group of pale Man-like beings -- Godlings -- dressed in a minimal manner, approached a group of Men -- one of which carried a large lantern, the source of the light. The largest of the Godlings in the group, a female specimen, snapped her fingers. Two naked prisoners -- a man and a woman -- were brought forward, each restrained with leather bindings and held by a male Godling.

The Godlings, at this distance, appeared as Men, but they varied a great deal in size from one another. Garrin tells that they are immortal -- only dying in violence, sickness or famine -- and that the older they get the larger they get. The female leader towered over the others -- could she be 100 years old, 1,000?

The Men were dressed in a baroque fashion -- what were Men doing down here and dealing with these Monsters? The leader was a man dressed in a bright scarlet justacorps, though I could tell at this distance it was horribly soiled. His face was covered in powder and he wore an outrageously tall white wig upon his head. He smiled even as he talked with the Giantess -- though we could not hear what was said.

Then the strangest thing occurred. The man approached the female prisoner and grasped the side of her head and licked the whole other side of her face with a blackened tongue.

"Garrin!" I whispered. "Are these Men the Ghouls you spoke of!"

"Indeed, Jones, we are witnessing an exchange of some kind."

The man seemed pleased with the flavor of the prisoner and reached into his inside coat-pocket, retrieving a heavy coin purse that he placed into the Giantess' hand.

A group of pale Man-like beings -- Godlings -- dressed in a minimal manner. . .

The two prisoners seemed to realize what was going to happen next to them and their resistance to their captors visibly increased -- though the bindings through their mouths prevented them from making much sound. The foppish, powdered man who had just purchased them motioned for two of his group to come forward. These two men were dressed in simple clothing and both had a dirty apron tied around their waists.

"By the Messiah! Are those?" I muttered to myself.

"Yes, the Butchers amongst them." said Garrin.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Cats of Nein

"Listen closely and I will tell you of the Cats of Nein. Cats are sacred to our Dead God, Sophia and Her Messiah, Mary the Conqueror of Nod. They have been with us since Eden as our companions and their skill at dispatching vermin made them veritable Heroes upon the Ark."

The old Priest put down his Ale and reached beneath the table to lift a great cream-colored cat onto his lap. "Valor is his name. Isn't he handsome?" The great Cat regarded the Priest with his wet eyes and purred softly.

"Now, Valor is what we call a Watcher. Watchers are the furry guardians of Mankind" As the Priest said this he rubbed the pale cat's head vigorously. His friend-Cat began purring loudly in response.

"Well, what of the Dwellers I have heard warnings about?" I asked the Priest. The cat looked at me when I said "Dweller," squinting his almond eyes as he let out a short growl.

"He doesn't know any better, Valor," the Priest addressed the cat. "Dwellers are cats with a nasty temperment. You will find them in the company of unscrupulous folks and they delight in encouraging sinful behavior."

"Encouraging. . .? How would a Cat encourage. . ." I asked.

"Ha! You have a lot to learn about Cats, my friend!" the Priest let out a loud hiccup, "Buy us another round of Ales and I will tell you more!"

Weapon Styles

"These chattering and drooling Things traverse the Underground of the Ancient City. They are the roaming digestive system of Some Other Thing. You can put them down, but whatever has birthed them will simply send more. Only the power of Magic or, Sophia help you, a true Supernatural weapon can truly kill these Things. Oh! You will know when you run into one -- a swollen bulge of a man's head with nothing but a mouth, atop a pair of spindly legs. . ."
-Uthal the Warrior, traveler beyond the Ancient Gates

I have referenced Weapon Styles in previous posts, both in terms of equipment and the Weapon Proficiencies of Fighters. In this post I want to elaborate more on how the Weapon Styles differ and the options available to Characters. First, the choice of weaponry by a Character is only limited by Ability Scores as I have done away with all pretense of Weapon and Armor restrictions by Class. If a Player would like their Magic-user to utilize large Weapons and heavy Armor -- they need only invest in Strength. If a Fighter would like to Dual Wield Swords effectively, they will need to invest in Agility.

Although, anybody can pick up any Weapon and attempt to use it, their attacks will be Clumsy if they lack the minimum Ability Scores to do so. This is the main penalty that informs the rest of the Weapon system. My goal with the design is to get away from the dozen of tiny penalties and bonuses that I typically see around rules for Weapon use and skill. Here is the rule:

Clumsy Attacks: Any attack with a Weapon by a Character who lacks the Ability Score Requirement for its use will Stun that Character on a Miss. A Stunned Character loses their next Action while recovering and before they recover they cannot take any reactive actions such as Opportunity Attacks, Dodging, Parrying etc. Even if an Attack Hits, it still counts as a Miss for this Rule if the target successfully Dodges, Parries or Blocks.

There are four ways in which a Character may equip themselves for combat: 1) Weapon and Shield, 2) Weapon in two hands, 3) Dual wielding Weapons and 4) Weapon in one hand and the other free. I will talk about each of these below in turn.

Weapon and Shield

Using a Shield provides two main bonuses to Characters, generally. First, using a Shield allows a Character to Block incoming attacks. Blocking immediately raises Armor Class and Special Resistance by 4, but requires a Save to prevent being Stunned / knocked off balance from the Blocking attempt. Note: Critical Hits can not be Blocked. Secondly, using a Shield provides Damage Reduction for the Character from all incoming Damage. Also note: Critical Hits bypass Damage Reduction.

The Weapon in this style is wielded in one hand. A very strong Character can wield a large two-handed Weapon in one hand, but this provides a penalty to the Attack rolls, a reduction in bonus Damage provided by the Weapon's Damage Grade, as well as increasing the Ability Score Requirement by 1. Fighters who are trained in Weapon Proficiency: Shield utilize their Shield for the Advanced and Power Attacks associated with those Abilities.

Example: Jones the Fighter is wielding a basic, hard bronze Arming Sword: +2 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Damage Grade is the better of Agility or Strength * 1.0. Along with her Weapon she is wielding an Iron Buckler, which is a basic Light Shield that provides Damage Reduction of 1 and requires an Easy Save to prevent Stunning when she uses it to Block. As Jones is trained in Shields, she uses her Iron Buckler to make special attacks from her Proficiency in Shields, which is +0 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 1.0.

Weapon in Two Hands

The other more common Weapon Style is using a Weapon in two hands. Two-handed Weapons, such as the Axes and Maces, benefit greatly from this style of combat. Some one-handed Weapons can be used effectively in two hands, which increases their effectiveness. Generally, this increase is in the bonus Damage provided by Strength, though this can vary in some cases. For instance, Arming Swords and Saifs do not increase their Damage Grade when wielded in two hands. In addition, Daggers gain a bonus to Attack, but no increase in Damage. The other benefit of wielding a one-handed Weapon in two hands is that the Requirement for use is reduced by 1 point. In the case of Arming Swords and Saifs this can be helpful to a Character who lacks the Strength to use one effectively in one hand.

Example: Jones the Fighter picks up a reinforced iron Flanged Mace: +2 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 2.0. This weapon has a Strength Requirement of 2 and Jones has a Strength of 2, meeting the Requirement. If Jones uses this Weapon in one hand the Strength Requirement increases by 1 to 3 -- Jones will be Clumsily attacking with the Mace with the following adjusted scores: +0 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 1.5.

Dual Wielding

Using a Weapon in each hand is a less common style of combat, but can be as effective as the previous two. When equipped in this manner, the Character must designate which Weapon is being used to Attack when making Basic Attacks or using Abilities that utilize his Weapons. In addition to the Requirements for wielding a Weapon, a Character must have at least an Agility of 2 (above-average coordination and reflexes)  to  Dual Wield effectively. Having less than this Requirement results in the bonus Basic Attack from rolling Natural-Evens being a Clumsy Attack.

Example: Jones has both Weapon Proficiency: Swords and Maces. She is dual-wielding her Arming Sword along with a Baton. During combat, when she utilizes Abilities from her Proficiency in Swords, she uses her Arming Sword to Attack. So with her Proficiency in Maces: she uses her Baton for the Attacks.

A Fighter dually dueling while Dual Wielding
The main benefit for Dual Wielding comes into play whenever an Attack hits on a naturally even number on the 20-sided die. This triggers an Opportunity Attack with the other Weapon against a target of the Character's choice. This bonus Attack is triggered by both Basic Attacks and Abilities -- so a Fighter or Thief who is Dual Wielding will receive this benefit when Attacking through their Proficiencies and Skills, respectively.

Returning to the Example: Jones makes an Opportunity Attack against a retreating enemy with her Arming Sword and hits with a 16 showing on the 20-sided die. Because the die roll is Natural-Even, she receives a bonus Basic Attack with her Baton, which she can use against the same retreating enemy or another opponent within melee range. On her Action, Jones hits an opponent with an Advanced Attack with her Baton, with an 11 showing on the 20-sided die -- Jones does NOT receive a bonus Attack with her Arming Sword because the roll was Natural-Odd.

The exception to this rule is that using mixed Ranged and Melee Weapons does not count as Dual Wielding. However, it is possible to Dual Wield Ranged Weapons (such as Crossbows), which does trigger this bonus Attack. I will probably post further on Ranged Combat in a near-future post as most of my posts have concerned Melee Combat.

"One-Handed" Weapon Style

The last Style of Combat is when wielding a Weapon in one hand, but with the other hand free. This Style of Combat is employed when having a free hand is necessary to utilize other Abilities. Magic-users must have a hand free to use their Spell-Magic. Some Thieves have grappling techniques from Skills that require at least one hand free. There is no mechanical benefit from this Style apart from allowing the so-equipped Character access to options due to having one hand free.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Thief

"Our ancestors lived upon the Ark for many generations, circling the oceans. Our Great Bows are a natural development of the throwing spears we employed in hunting Great Sea Beasts while upon the Ark. During the Settling Time the Tribal-Kings in their Ritual-Battles soon realized that throwing your weapon away simply allowed the enemy to throw it back. The Great Bow and Arrow soon followed as the main Arms of Warfare when at a distance to the Enemy."
-Njabulo, Historian and Resident of the Bantu Conclave in Nein

In this blog post I want to talk about the Thief and its Abilities within the game. For review, all PCs begin at "Level 0" and choose their Class at Level 1. Classes have Primary Ability Scores and Secondary Ability Scores. They receive a single point towards their Primary Ability Score at Level 1 and points towards subsequent Levels as detailed here. In addition, all Classes have Requirements for entry: for the Thief this is a minimum of Agility 1 and Intellect 1 -- a Thief requires at least average speed, reflexes, guile and wit to excel in his craft.

The Primary Ability Score of the Thief is Agility, Secondary Ability Scores are Strength and Intellect. Below is an example of how this all is summarized for a Class, using the Thief as the example:

A Thief exploiting Line of Sight
to utilize a Murder Skill with his Short Bow
Class: Thief, Requirements: Agility 1, Intellect 1
Primary Ability Score: Agility, Secondary Ability Scores: Strength, Intellect

Each PC, at Level 1, rolls for an additional Background element that is added to their existing Background up to the point of selecting his Class. This Background element, naturally, is dictated by Class. I talk about Backgrounds prior to Class selection here and here. Here are some examples of Backgrounds for Thieves:

1: You have spent your training period as a Thug, muscle used to send a message or extract compliance out of Guild membership or City citizenry.
2: You are part of a small group of Cutpurses and pay the local Guild a Tax so as to secure your territory.
3: You have been apprenticed to a Fence as part of your initial training in Thievery: looking out for the Guard and screening potential clients for your Master.

Thieves, in Sophia's Children, are beholden -- to one degree or another -- to the Thief Guilds. The Guild is a coalition of various interests and entities who, themselves, may be more or less organized. But they all answer to The Boss -- who has the final say in the criminal goings on within a City. Some Cities, such as Nein, have more than one Boss -- this always results in an ongoing feud between the competing Guilds as they vie for power, territory and influence over the various criminal cabals they oversee.

Thieves have Skills for their Abilities which come in two general types: Active and Passive. Active Skills are Advanced Abilities and move an Action Point into the Short Reserve when used. Passive Skills are always-on Abilities that confer a bonus whenever certain conditions are met, but require a permanent reduction of Action Points to learn. Thieves are able to, in the interaction between their Active and Passive Skills, employ combination moves that exploit status conditions and leverage buffs. I talk more about Action Points and their use with Abilities in this post.

Active Skills

The Active Skills of the Thief come in two kinds: Murder and Cunning. Murder Skills require Strength to train in (as indicated by the Skill description) and a Thief may only have a number of Murder Skills trained equal to his Strength Score. Similarly, Cunning Skills require Agility to train and the number of Cunning Skills trained in may not exceed the Agility Score proper.

Passive Skills

Passive Skills are called Guiles and function differently than Actives. Guiles have no Requirements, but only one may be learned for every two points of Intellect. E.G.: Intellect 1, 2: One Guile; Intellect 3, 4: Two Guiles. In addition, learning a Guile results in a permanent deduction of 2 Action Points from the Character's Base Action Points.

Indeed, Thieves keep up appearances with and are even
members of the various Overlord Courts

Skill Trees

Active and Passive Skills also exist within Skill Trees where the acquisition of one Skill depends upon having learned a previous Skill. Learning the new Skill "overwrites" the previous Skill instead of using up one of the Thief's available Skill "slots." As with all training in Sophia's Children, this does not depend upon "skill points, feats slots etc.," but only having the available funds, access to a trainer and meeting the Ability Score requirements.

Example Skills

Backstab, Murder Skill (Requirements: Strength 1)
You have learned the excellent methods of killing from behind using cutting or piercing weapons.
Make a Melee Attack using a cutting or piercing Weapon against an opponent you are Flanking. If this attack connects you do Double Damage.

Sap, Murder Skill (Requirements: Strength 1)
You have learned the means by which to stun an enemy using clubbing instruments by way of surprise.
Make a Melee Attack using a bludgeoning Weapon against an opponent you are Flanking. If this attack connects you Stun them in addition to the usual Damage.

Hide in Shadows, Cunning Skill (Requirements: Agility 1)
You can slip into the shadows of battle.
As long as you are Unarmored or wearing Light Armor that you meet the Strength Requirement for, you can Run and slip into the shadows of the battle, acquiring the Hidden status. This movement invokes the usual effects of Running (Provoking Opportunity Attacks) and if this movement is stopped by an Opportunity Attack you do not become Hidden.

Tumbling Attack, Cunning Skill (Requirements: Agility 1)
You use an acrobatic flourish to bound towards your target.
As long as you are Unarmored or wearing Light Armor that you meet the Strength Requirement for, you can Run and make a Basic Attack that CAN NOT be Intercepted by your opponents.

Stabby, Guile
You are adept at causing terrible injuries with cutting instruments.
Whenever you make an attack that HITS with a Melee Weapon that cuts or pierces, you do an additional 1d6 Damage if the attack roll is a Natural-Even number.

A Group of Hassan Thieves
Bruiser, Guile
You know just what to do to with a bashing weapon to upset your opponent's combat effectiveness.
Whenever you make an attack that HITS with a Melee Weapon that bludgeons or bashes, you induce a Slow effect (Standard Save) as long as you roll a Natural-Even number.

The tactics that a Thief will employ in combat are very different from the tactics of either the Fighter or the Magic-user. The Thief must take care to utilize the correct weaponry or armor depending on the focus of his Skills and derives maximum lethal potential from the combination of his Guiles and Active Skills.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Name Generator, Sampling

"The men amongst us must live and dress as women, as well as work in the professions we employ ourselves in. You will be put through a trial period where you must first learn the ways of women. ONLY after passing through this period will you be allowed to train as a Witch and receive the Master's Touch."
-Afya the Witch, addressing a group of male Aspirant-Witches

The Imperatrix, Peaceful Conqueror of Nod
Below is a quick example of the name generator I will include with the playtest. This generates a name appropriate for Characters from either the Westman or Hassan cultures. I have a conference this weekend, but plan on posting something soon on the Thief Class for Sophia's Children. Stay tuned!

Names: Roll 1d20 on the following table and select your name based on your selected Gender and Race.
Surnames, Hassan Characters: Roll 1d20 for the Male Patriarch name. Add the prefix "Al-" to this name. E.G.: Qamar Al-Hafid.
Surnames, Westman Characters: Roll 1d20. If an Odd number, use the indicated Female Westman name. If an Even number, use the indicated Male Westman name. Surnames of this kind are appended after the First Name with a  comma and "Get of." E.G.: Astrid, Get of Gideon.

1d20Female HassanMale HassanFemale WestmanMale Westman

Note: There are several other systems for generating Surnames, Street Names, Baron-House Names et cetera. But this is just a small example of the system that will be included as part of the Character Creation System.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Radio Show!

So, tonight I will be featured on a local radio show in Philadelphia: Intel Outside With The Works. We'll be talking about roleplaying games in general, but we we also be discussing my Blog and my own Fiction-Fantasy writings and game-design musings!

You can check it out here  and you can even call in here: (424) 222-5379!

The Action Point

A Guardsman taking a criminal into custody
"There was an Inspector from the Guard here earlier asking about you. Something about an incident at the Ancient Gates? You know they keep close tabs on who passes through those walls -- the Delvers Guild will have likely given up your name if you've gotten mixed up in some nasty business!"
-"Rach," Waitress at The Red Room tavern

I have chosen the phrase Action Points to measure a Character's (Monsters, PCs and NPCs) resources to use Abilities. I had thought of several different other terms prior to deciding on Action Points, such as Willpower, Energy etc. I think Action does a good job of capturing the essence of what I am looking to describe. The meta-ness of Action Point is similar to the Hit Point, which I think is a good parallel. Also, since Characters may have a variety of Abilities from various sources, having a more generic term is helpful.

So, I want to spend this blog post talking about how exactly Action Points get used in the System. As of right now Action Points can be utilized in four different ways.
  1. They are spent and returned in a very quick fashion during conflicts where they represent at-will abilities that depend on some degree of stamina or other quickly-replenishing source of power,
  2. They are spent and returned during Rests (a period of 4-8 hours of inactivity) on Abilities that are more powerful than #1,
  3. They are Burned and only returned during the Upkeep phase of the game -- which is generally the time between adventures or sessions (approximately 30 days / 1 month), and
  4. They are permanently deducted from the Character to pay for Passive Abilities that are always-on.

Advanced Abilities & Action Points

Two of the Playtest Classes will have Advanced Abilities available to them: Fighters and Thieves. I have not detailed any of the Thief yet, but both Classes utilize Action Points in a similar fashion when using Advanced Abilities. First, whenever an Action Point is used to activate an Advanced Ability, this point is moved into the Short Reserve. During any Action where the Character spends NO Action Points, a point from the Short Reserve is returned to the Character's pool of available Action Points.

Example: Polly the Thief in engaged with a group of Horrible Giant Rats, after having escaped into the sewers following a bad heist. She starts the combat with 5 Action Points. In her first turn, she Hides in Shadows, which is an Advanced Skill -- this moves 1 point from her Action Points into her Short Reserve.
In the following round she uses another Advanced Skill, Vital Strike, which moves another point into her Short Reserve from her Action Point pool. Her totals at the end of her second Action she has 3 Action Points with 2 points in her Short Reserve. Also, since she had spent points during this second Action, no points are returned to her pool from her Short Reserve.
After dropping one of the Giant Rats with her Vital Strike, the remaining rats are a distance away from her. She decides to put herself into Guard so she can make an Opportunity Attack against whichever one comes within Melee first. Since she has not spent any Action Points on this third Action of hers, one of her Action Points from her Short Reserve is returned to her, resulting in 4 Action Points and 1 in Short Reserve.

Major Abilities & Action Points

Two of the Classes in the Playtest will have access to Major Abilities. For Fighters, these are the various Power Attacks available to them through their Weapon Proficiencies. For Magic-users, these are the Partial Incantations of their Spell-Magic.

When using a Major Ability, the Action Point so used is Spent and placed into the Long Reserve. Any points in the Long Reserve are returned when Resting -- which is a period of downtime lasting a few hours, usually spent sleeping.

Example: Daliyah the Pyromancer has accompanied Polly the Thief in her excursion, ending up in combat with a bunch of Giant Rats in the sewers beneath Nein! She starts the combat with 3 Action Points available with 2 already in the Long Reserve from previous encounters. She blasts the group of Giant Rats with the Partial Incantation of Fireball, which Spends 1 Action Point into her Long Reserve. At the end of her action she now has 2 Action Points and 3 in Long Reserve. If Polly and Daliyah retire for the night following this combat, Daliyah will replenish her Action Points in the Long Reserve, for 5 available points.

Supreme Abilities & Action Points

Magic-users will be the only Class in the Playtest who use Supreme Abilities -- the Full Incantations of their Spell-Magic. Using a Supreme Ability Burns up the point which can only be returned during Upkeep -- a major period of down time between adventures. The intention for the design is that PCs will budget the use of their Supreme Abilities for the session and that Upkeep periods will be the time between sessions / adventures. Though, if a group is on a "marathon session" they could choose to take an Upkeep in the middle of their adventure -- but Upkeep periods have their own rules and costs associated with them, as well as being the only period where Experience is tallied and Levels can be gained and Training occurs.

Example: Daliyah and Polly, on their way to exit the sewers after bypassing the Guard and fighting lots of Giant Rats, encounter a Ghastly Crawler slowly making its way around the underground. Daliyah decides to Cast the Full Incantation of Fireball against this Monster -- which Burns one of her Action Points, resulting in 1 Action Point and 3 in Long Reserve. After Resting, Daliyah will have 4 Action Points available to her. After Daliyah and Polly finish their heist and "lay low" for a month, Daliyah will have this Action Point and any others she spent on Full Incantations returned to her for their new heist!

Passive Abilities & Action Points

Thieves have access to Passive Skills, for which they must permanently deduct an Action Point from their available total for. This point is never returned as it is an investment in an ability that is always on for the Thief. These Abilities would be similar to certain Feats from 3rd Edition D&D. The major difference in my implementation is that all Abilities are priced out of the same pool of resources instead of juggling several different resource systems that may not interact well when combined.

Example: Polly the Thief has the "Stabby" Passive Ability. Whenever she uses a Melee Weapon that slices, cuts or pierces she can add 1d6 Damage on any attack roll that roll a "Natural-Even" number (2s, 4s, 6s etc.). This Ability is "always on" as long as she meets the requirements and will stack with other Abilities. As a result of this training, Polly has 1 less Action Point available to her, overall.

Note: I referenced the Thief a lot in this post, I will likely detail some of the Thief Class in the next post, as it has some of its own unique characteristics -- like I have intended for all of the Classes in Sophia's Children.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Magical War-Artifacts of the Mother Empire

"In the Capital City of Golgotha the Messiah sometimes leads a Grand Mass. Oh, it is worth a pilgrimage to Golgotha to experience. Thousands of Faithful gather upon the Holy Site and the Messiah, may Sophia Bless Her, delivers the Mass with a booming voice that can be heard throughout the City -- a Power only The Daughter of God could display!"
-"The Faithful Beggar," Regular at The Red Room in Nein

The Magic-users of the World know that ancient artifacts exist that can enhance the power of their Spell-Magic. They are known by many names and come in various forms, but the Historians among them classify two broad categories: Rods and Gauntlets.

These devices were known to have been common during the Great War over 2,000 years ago, wielded by the Magic-users of that time and also by the Mage-Knights. They are supposed to have greatly increased the power of all the Spells channeled through them and also allowed the user to treat the Weapon as their "free hand" for Castings.

These Rods and Gauntlets sometimes had inherent Spell-Magic within them that could be conjured through the device's Charge and wielder's Willpower (Action Points). Such is the power of these War-Artifacts that any user, if of enough Intellect and Courage, could wield the Spell-Magic within them. Lastly, the most powerful of these devices had flourishing effects that would be conferred upon all attacks made by the device itself in addition to the Spells channeled through it.

Game Mechanics

All Gauntlets and Rods have an Intellect Requirement. Unlike Mundane Weapons, having less than this Intellect Requirement prevents the use of the Artifact entirely -- the device will not function as the user's Will is inadequate to power the device.

These devices function as Supernatural Weapons in that any attacks made with them will do Critical Hits on rolls of Natural-10s (as well as Natural-20s). Both devices use Intellect for their Damage Scaling. As a result, using these Weapons will kill and hurt Monsters with their Basic Attacks who can only be affected by Supernatural Weapons.

The Torch
Gauntlets are Melee Weapons and are one-handed. Its form makes it impossible to use in two hands -- though a audacious user could dual-wield Gauntlets if he managed to acquire more than one! Rods are Ranged Weapons and while they can be carried in one hand, they can only properly be used to channel Spell-Magic or be used to attack while wielding it in both hands.

Each of these devices are unique and the form of its Basic Attack and the Spell-Magic contained within them varies a great deal. Here are two examples of devices documented to exist:

Dog-Mouth: This Gauntlet, when empowered by a user of Great Will, will open its one monstrous eye and begin to drool from its mouth that makes up the palm of the Gauntlet. When used to attack the Dog-Mouth will rip and tear chunks from its targets. (Requires: Intellect 2)
Basic Attack: Strength +2 vs. AC. Melee only. (Critical Hit on 10s)
Damage: 2d6 + (Intellect * 1.5)
Charge: 4 / 4 Maximum

The Torch: This Rod resembles a steel pole embellished with all sorts of dials, levers and gizmos. The "business" end of The Torch is an opening into the center of the device. When wielded by a Willful user, heat, fire and smoke radiates out from this hole. When used to make Basic Attacks, the user can summon bursts of fire-magic from the Rod that propels pellets of blackened eldritch matter at its targets. (Requires: Intellect 2)
Basic Attack: Agility +1 vs. AC. Ranged only. (Critical Hit on 10s)
Damage: 2d6 + (Intellect * 1.5) +2
Charge: 5 / 5 Maximum
The Ancient Magic-users harnessed destructive technologies from the Ancient Cities during The Great War. . .
Rods and Gauntlets may be imbued with further Minor or Major Spell-Magic. A Minor Spell is equivalent to a Lesser Incantation and only requires the Spending of an Action Point by the user -- but requires not major investment of Charge by the device. A Major Spell within the device is equivalent to a Full Incantation and requires BOTH the Burning of an Action Point by the user, as well as the immediate deduction of one point of Charge from the Gauntlet or Rod.

This Spell-Magic is fueled by the device itself, and acquires the strength of its Casting based on the power of the device, not the Tuning of the user if a wielder of magic themselves. Some examples, utilizing Spell-Magic previously discussed for Pyromancers.

This Lesser Torch is capable of issuing forth Fireballs as per the Lesser Incantation of Lorre's Expanding Conflagration. This is a Minor Ability, requiring the Spending of 1 Action Point by the user.
Attack: Agility vs. SR (Critical Hits on 10s)
Targets: 2, must be Close
Damage: 3d6 + (Intellect * 1.5) + 2

This Grand Torch can shoot great Fireballs as per the Full Incantation of Lorre's Expanding Conflagration. This is a Major Ability, requiring the Burning of 1 Action Point by the user. This also immediately spends 1 Charge on the Rod.
Attack: Agility+1 vs. SR (Critical Hits on 10s)
Targets: 2, must be Close
Damage: [2d6 + (Intellect * 1.5) + 2] x2 on HIT / x1 on MISS.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Devil & The Cobbler

Legion the Whispering God
Have you ever seen a Demon? I have. . .

For all my years as a faithful adherent of the Messiah, I thought Her prayers empty words -- rote -- routine -- petty ritual. These words served me well once. Listen closely.

This was many years ago, during the Holy Conflicts in the West. I lived in Nein, a bachelor, as I am now today. I worked as a Cobbler then, just having finished my Masterpiece with the Guild. I even had my own shop! I had a relatively comfortable living. Everyone needs shoes or shoes repaired. Many of my regular customers were Soldiers of the Garrison near me. I always had supplies on back-order and combat boots were basically my thing.

One day a customer entered my lobby, a strange fellow. He wore close-fitting leathers under a heavy cloak complete with a broad-brimmed hat. He seemed a foreigner, as his attire was completely unfit for the Summer heat. I approached the man and asked how I could be of service. . .

"Greetings, traveler, how can I serve you?"

"I need some new boots. This is a place for. . .boots. . .isn't it?"

"Indeed! But, my friend, I notice that you are wearing a perfectly fine pair already." I replied, noticing that, in fact, he was wearing a pair of blackened travelling boots -- waxed-shined.

"I want to trade." With that the man removed his boots -- one at a time -- in a bizarre manner. He stood on one foot, lifting the other with both hands in a way that seemed to dislocate his hip. He slipped both boots off in this manner and handed them to me. "Fair trade?" He asked.

"Sure, these seem in good condition. Let me get my instruments." I took the boots into my workshop and retrieved my measuring tape, papers and ink-pens.

When I returned to the front the man was sitting on one of the couches. I knelt down to make my measurements. The man's feet did not match the nature of the rest of his body. They were gnarled and hirsute. Black talons extended from what may have been his toes, but seemed to be more like claws. Abashed, I stood and addressed the man in as polite a manner I could muster considering: "Sir, um, I don't think I have any boots of your size in stock. . ."

"Hrmm. . ." He grunted as he looked out the front window, "I can wait. Besides, the Sun today is too damn hot for me to walk around barefoot on these cobblestones. And those boots I am trading with are killing my feet."

I jumped a little when the man said "killing" but maintained my composure. "I'll see what I can do!" I ran back into my workshop and looked at my stock. I had no traveler's boots on hand that matched his complete size, but decided to improvise. I took one of the largest pairs in stock and sawed off the toe-box. I always had a variety of pieces on-hand to make the construction and repair of boots easier -- I took two of these toe-box leathers and stitched them together making a single dome. I welted this onto the base of the boots and reinforced the welting full around the boots so that it would stay in place. All in all, it was a fine piece of work under the circumstances!

I returned to the front with the makeshift pair of boots. "Here you are, sir!"

The man stood and slipped the boots on in a bizarre manner similar to the one in which he removed his former pair. While standing on one taloned foot he gripped the top of one boot slipping his other foot into it while extending his leg straight up into the air. Silently, he did so similarly with the other boot. He did this so casually that I wondered at what other strange mannerisms Demons may have -- such as the terribly hot clothing he had on in the Summer heat!

He walked around the lobby a few times. Then he tried a bit of a jog back and forth across the middle of the lobby. "Very serviceable," he commented to himself. He pulled a small bag of coins from his belt-purse. "Here," he stated as he dropped the small bag into my hand.

It was a very generous sum! Oh, but I felt very strange taking this payment from a Demon! I tithed a full 50% of the tip to the Church and invested the rest into my business. The man never returned to my store after that, but I will always remember those feet! From that day forward I recited my Prayers every day and never miss Mass on Sundays. Oh, the Devil has made me a faithful man -- what a strange world we live in, no?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fighters & Weapon Proficiencies

"If you get caught by two Guardsmen on patrol you'll have a chance to get away. If the alarm bells are rang they will likely arrive with reinforcement and lethal arms. If you really dagger things up they'll set themselves upon the mechanical siren-horns, which will put the local military garrison in high alert -- you'll be better off just jumping straight into the sewers if that happens!"
-Polly the Burglar, advising a novice group on their heist. . .

Fighters, through their training at the Academies across the Mother Empire gain access to Weapon Proficiencies, specialized methods of employing their arms in combat. Some Weapon Profiencies are a basic skillset for a particular weapon type -- others are a specialized focus on a particular weapon. Still further Weapon Proficiencies deal with certain Styles of combat that opens up still further options.

Some examples of Weapon Profiencies: Weapon Proficiency: Swords, Weapon Proficiency: Daggers, Weapon Style: Twin Weapons, Mixed Weapon Style: Daggers, Weapon Specialization: Light Blades, Twinned Weapon Style, Shield Proficiency.

Each Weapon Proficiency gives a Fighter access to an Advanced Attack and a Power Attack when equipped in a manner specific to that Proficiency. A Fighter may learn many Proficiencies across his lifetime, limited only by his funds and time devoted to further study at the Academy or a private Arms-Master. The one caveat is that a Fighter may only retain one of any sort of overlapping Proficiency. For instance: A Fighter may only know Weapon Proficiency: Swords OR Weapon Specialization: Light Blades. Also: Some Proficiencies are a prerequisite for another. For example, access to training in Light Blade specialization is only possible AFTER having trained in the basic Proficiency in Swords.

A Fighter learning the Mixed Weapon Style from her Arms-Master

The beginning set of Proficiencies available to the Fighter in the playtest will include options for basic Proficiency in the included weaponry, as well as Style Proficiencies in Two-handed Weapons, Twinned Weapon Style and Shield use. I have included some examples below of two such proficiencies directly from my draft notes.

Weapon Proficiency: Maces (Requires: Strength 1, Agility 1)
You have learned how to capitalize on the tremendous crushing power of Maces.
Advanced Attack: You must NOT move as part of this attack. Make one attack against two different targets in Melee Range.
Power Attack: You must have Poise to employ this move. Make an attack against one target. If it hits, you Stun the target in addition to double normal damage. If it misses, you do normal damage as if you hit.

Weapon Proficiency: Swords (Requires: Strength 1, Agility 1)
You have honed your skill in blades so as to cause maximum effect with their edges.
Advanced Attack: You must have Poise to employ this move. Make an attack. If it hits, you cause Bleeding equal to (Agility * Damage Grade of Weapon used) that requires a Standard Save to remove.
Power Attack: You must be Flanking your target to make this attack. Attack one target, if it hits you cause Bleeding equal to (Agility * Damage Grade of Weapon used * 2). You also deal an additional 2d6 Damage with this attack if it connects successfully.

Note: Weapon Proficiency -- like most all abilties within Sophia's Children -- is NOT an effect of "Character Building" and is NOT limited by "skill points" (no such pretense exists in the System) et cetera (except in case of "overlapping" Proficiencies as noted above). The character pays for this training and looks for access to trainers during the play of the game itself. Indeed, a Fighter may find in her adventures special Arms-Masters that can teach alternate variations of certain Proficiencies and still more exotic Specializations.