28 March 2012

Rodiel: Sorcerers

Sorcerers, as you'd know if you were listening to anything I'd written beforehand, are weak, twisted, and a little insane. The practice and study of magic is inherently perilous for the races of men, but the ambitious seek any source of power they can.

Sorcerers can have any other background and any other trait, but are identified by their unique Magic rating. Tracked separately from the other four statistics, Magic is inversely calculated from the sum of the other attributes- Sorcerers are either the pathetic wretches that were called to the obscene arts and are little more than servants, or driven individuals who are more than willing to lose their own sanity to gain dominion over others.

Regardless, there are a number of sorcerous disciplines available to players. A few examples follow.

BOOK OF DEATH: You know the forgotten lore of Black Quaanesh, a grim demon of the South Seas. You may call upon your patron in exchange for the souls of those you have ensorcelled. In a pinch, your own soul may be bargained for as well. Your magic is powerful for cursing your foes and blasting their minds to a stupor.

BONECHEWER: You are no sorcerer of the black depths, but a respected shaman of the Grey Gods. Your powers are useful for mending wounds and broken bones and for removing venoms, but precious little else. You require your fetishes and focii to work magic, and are useless without them.

CONJURATION OF LENSH: Your talents tend towards the conjuration of spirits instead of the crude will-work of others. You have a power that has a blood-debt to you that you may call upon more often than others, but for the rest of the spirits, you must strike a fresh bargain each and every time. Each deal is more dear than the last, so an intelligent conjurer is judicious with his powers.

ELEMENTALIST: Yours are the powers of the sky, the sea, and the great mountains to which you are bound. By imparting a measure of your soul into the magics you weave, you are capable of affecting the raw stuff of that around you. For each element you have bound to you, you must obey stringent rites that maintain your purity in the eyes of the elemental spirits that have granted your powers.

24 March 2012

Rodiel: Sentinels

In Rodiel, the city-state champions are broken up into four roughly basic styles, each encompassing a basic attitude towards combat (and determining very little else about your character by design). The Sentinel is one of them.

Sentinels are the stalwart warriors who help guard the weaker member party members from harm. They prefer to counterattack instead of strike, to deflect instead of advance, and to stride where others might run. They wear down their enemies by simply lasting longer and being tougher than anybody else. Sentinels aren't "tanks", that use some sort of gimmicky "threat" or "guarding" mechanic so that the "damage" classes can do their thing- they're just as deadly as the flashier Slayers. They just like to fight differently.

This is the style that you'd use to model hoplites, legionnaires, and other soldierly types that rely more on skill at arms than raw savagery. Where a Slayer is red-handed and bloody, a Sentinel is measured and precise, although not necessarily calm.

Every character has to roll on the Random Background table, as normal, to determine a facet of their character that will affect their play for the rest of their character's lifetime. Since this game is designed around tournament module styled one-off games in addition to being rolled randomly, I'm not too concerned about balance. Instead, we're looking for interesting things that add to the spice of the game. A couple of random Sentinel backgrounds follow:

BEASTMASTER: You have a special relationship with an unusually intelligent animal. This can be any non-magical animal you desire. If your companion is slain, it will take you weeks to find and train a new one.

MYRMIDON: You have been called through the ages in your nation's time of need by incredible magics. If slain, you regenerate entirely within one day, and you have no need for sleep.  Your other bodily functions are as normal. You are immediately destroyed if the circlet is removed from your brow or destroyed, as it is the artifact holding you through the ages.

MIGHTY THEWS: You are a musclebound barbarian, and your Might counts as 1.5x higher than what it actually is. Unfortunately, you are also a bit of an idiot, and cannot understand how to use any device more complicated than a door without having it explained to you multiple times.

BLADE-BORN: You are a master of all kinds of weaponry. Lesser warriors hear of your feats of arms and tremble. If you would miss an attack, roll it again. You are so confident in your abilities as a swordsman you disdain the use of armor, declaring it for knaves and ruffians with no skill at arms.

23 March 2012

I've been wanting to run a pseudo-RIFTS type game) where the players are basically stranded, interdimensional types stuck in a middle world that's being torn apart by some sort of bizarre temporal hiccup that none of them have any idea how to get out from or even fix), but I'm not sure where to go from there. I just have this mental image of cyborgs buddying up with samurai who have a distaste for the tommy-gunning gangster that's schmoozing with the demon-possessed techno-mage, but I don't really know where to go from there.

I do, however, know that it'd be a great setting to play around in and I'd be able to include pretty much anything I could think of, from enormous floating castles to colonies of badger-men to talking trees to shapeshifting doppleganger horrors... but it's hard to get people to really stand behind that sort of deal.

It feels like everybody wants either premade settings where they can act out their fanfictional desires (40k and Greyhawk and stuff), a combat simulator with characters grafted on(4e, 3e, and it's derivitives), or a really hardcore high-concept roleplaying game without goofiness or randomization.

Or they want games they already played in a new package, but that doesn't really count.

I need to get out there and game something already.

21 March 2012

Had a bizarre dream about two nights ago where I was a criminal mastermind setting a trap for the annoying sleuth who was coming to capture me. I set up cunning traps in the place I knew he would go, and then left the area and waited for my inevitable success.

Unfortunately, I was the detective, and as I was stepping around, investigating this basement workshop/storage room, I started to feel a little deja vu. If you've never personally experienced what it's like to realize that you have multiple personalities while hunting down yourself and avoiding the traps you've set, I highly recommend it.

But that's not all. I realized that everything I'd seen was a hallucination of my insane mind, caused by a lack of oxygen due to me locking myself in a metal shipping container. Everything I'd seen (multiple days of setting up traps, as I mostly remembered my time as the bad guy) was a complex hallucination created by my oxygen starved brain. I couldn't remember why I was dying, or why I would do this to myself, but I can remember it was vitally important.

Suddenly, I was outside myself. Not an out of body experience, but I was never the man inside the shipping container. Although I knew it was me in there, I was also outside of the box, and Outside Me could hear Boxed Me muttering and talking to myself. No matter how close I got, I couldn't make out any words, and I knew that there was no way for me to get inside. If I left to get something, Boxed Me would die, but if I stayed here, he would die and I'd never know what he said. I leaned closer to the air holes, started to ask Boxed Me what was going on, when I woke up.

14 March 2012

Inverse Ratios or Something Like That

I'm doing a couple of fun things with character generation in Rodiel that I think are kind of nifty, and that I'd like to share with you. This way, even if Rodiel doesn't take off the ground, at least I'm still sharing my ideas with the world. 

The first thing is inversely relating your character's mundane stats (think the Big Six in D&D terms, if you would) to your magical ability. That is to say, the more pathetic your character's physical stats are, the better your character is at magic. This does two things. 

One, it provides a very real safety valve for characters "rolling low." I know it's not oldschool, but I've never liked the amount of importance placed on rolling well in old school games, and it's usually one of the first things I house-rule away. All characters use the same rolled array and place them as they like, and I don't care who rolls them as long as the right number of dice are rolled the right number of times. I'm a big softy, and I'll even allow a single reroll. Why? Because I don't want inter-player envy, and I want them to specialize and strategize before the game starts. We can get into that later.

The second, and in my important more interesting way, is that it ties into the settings. In Rodiel, magic isn't a benign force to be used and discarded with apparently no ill effects (a la D&D, Runescape, every japanese RPG ever, really most settings that feature magic), it's an arcane, unhealthy force that's addictive and draining. By having your character, an established sorcerer/shaman/mystic, come into play with weaker muscles, trembling hands, a weak back, and a wandering mind, you establish that magic is dangerous. It's powerful, yes, but look at these people! Their skulls are cadaverous and they're blank eyed; they're thin to nearly skeletal and have a hacking cough that produces maggots, they're constantly twitching and muttering to themselves- magic is dangerous. Your magic using character has great power but at a great cost, as well.

I rather like it. Rodiel is turning out to be a lot of fun to write so far. 

11 March 2012

Rodiel Reborn

This morning I woke up and it was exactly the right temperature in my house. My blue curtains caught the light and bathed me in an icy chilliness, and suddenly I had to write.

So I did.

I wrote a bit about Rodiel, and hopefully a quick, hideous PDF of vaguely how to be a city-state champion exploring the bizarre heavens will be up in a couple of days. My favorite thing about writing roleplaying stuff, honestly, is the serious fact that I don't care one whit if anybody else in the world plays them- for me, the fun is always in the writing. And I'm enjoying writing what I've created with this.

08 March 2012


I've been consuming, rather than creating, media recently, which is why I haven't been saying much of anything. I haven't been gaming, which means I haven't been thinking about gaming, which means that I haven't been writing about gaming. It's a vicious circle, because when I'm not thinking or writing about something, it means that I don't want to do it since I really just want to have something to think or write about. It's an ouroboros of delight.

What I really want to write is almost a minigame of dungeon crawling, kind of like Descent meets OD&D meets a tournament module, where I write a thing and say "This is how you win," give a reason why the players know it, put some obstacles in the way, and then let them at it. The fancy-pantsy art roleplayer gets too much praise. If you want to explore the psyche of the human unconciousness or whatever the hell you're doing, go for it, but do it on your own time, please. I've got different things to do with my Saturday evening than play improv games with your theatre troupe.

06 March 2012

Lacuna: Second Attempt

Holy shit guys, how did I not hear about this sooner?

Just go look at rpgnow or something, read about what it's about, find a preview or a review or something, this is the most exciting game I've read in years. Ages, even. Usually I get a "hey, I like a couple of ideas out of this thing, I might run this" from reading new games, or sometimes a "This isn't really to my taste, maybe I'll just pilfer an idea or two," but this is the only game I've ever read where I can't think of a single thing to add or subtract.

It's brilliant. Go look at it.

04 March 2012

The Monolith

I've been wanting to include some sort of monolithic structures in my D&D games, and make them more than just your basic runestones or Stonehenge esque deals.

One of the ideas I've had for years is a massive monolith cut out of a deep black stone covered in irregular etchings. It is cut in a roughly square shape, with an angled topside. Although it's in a verdant and lush forest, there is a 5 yard clearing around it where absolutely no plant life is found, and there is no wildlife in a large area around it. Standing next to it one can feel a slight chill, even during an otherwise warm and sunny day. On one side, the etchings give way to the image of a massive door, cut in the same style as the etchings, but more regular.

I plan on giving no hints as to what the monolith is, its purpose, or its age. I think that a little mystery in games can only be a good thing.