31 August 2016

Ogre Dust: Elementalists

Ogre Dust has 11 archetypes, which are basically classes. Each archetype has a theme and does a specific sort of set of things. Druids, for example, like to control terrain. Ninjas? They're opportunistic murderers. Elementalists, though, are evasive blasters. In Air form, they can zip around the battlefield. In Fire form, they are ranged damage dealers with a healthy attack. In Water form, they provide cover. In Earth form, they're (relatively) durable and can push people around. 
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see different ways that an elementalist can be useful with just those abilities- if they need to, they can re-position using Air, and then settle down into Fire and deal some damage. If somebody needs space, they can Air into Earth and try to generate some. Water is a useful affinity for traveling while avoiding ranged damage (1), although it's not great (because Elementalists aren't great at affecting the battlefield in quite that way.)

Advanced moves for Elementalists make them better in one affinity or the other. Razor Shards gives the Elementalist a unique niche as durable artillery, and Water Jets lets the Elementalist get places a little more safely. Hurricane Gusts (not shown) lets the Elementalist take risks with spacing, by allowing a whirlwind-attack style action. If I didn't mention it before, there's no reason an Elementalist can't strike with a weapon- they don't get great weapon selections and they're not especially durable, but an Elementalist is no slouch in non-magical combat either.

The only Mastery ability I've written so far is "Ride the Lightning," which allows a charging Elementalist in Air affinity to get +10 to strike and 20M bonus damage, which is a good bit. Of course, the Elementalist will end their action next to an opponent who's probably very upset, so it's a risky maneuver that might need a little work to come out. But that's intentional! 

The Elementalist is a risky, glass-cannon class that needs a solid frontline and maybe a little support to truly shine. But in the right opportunity, they're the star of the battle, dealing solid damage and escaping without a scratch. 

(1) Water "feels" weak because it just gives a sort of pseudo-evasion, but not a huge amount. That'll need a bit of adjustment at some point.

27 August 2016

Violence 3: Guardians

Guardians are honestly one of my favorite monster types. They represent a mixed possibility of social or physical interaction- you know, depending on the creature.

Different guardians can be approached different ways. Every guardian-type monster should have something that they want to hear, something they want to see, or some sort of bribe they'll accept. If you can give them that, or convince them to accept something else, you're set. Of course, sneaking in might work. Or a group could try a persona...

Regardless, here's a basic guardian-type monster.

An undead servant that slays any living creature that attempts to pass. Usually well hidden, as the presence of guardians indicates the presence of treasure to watching eyes. Skeletons want to intimidate enemies into surrendering so the skeletons can kill them, because the only thing skeletons hate more than guarding places for all eternity is life itself.
Level: 1
0M, 100B, 100S, 10R
Strike Bonus: +2
Protection: +0
Rusty Junk- melee, 10M damage, 5B damage.
Eternal Approach: A skeleton takes no damage from falling, and can stack vertically with other skeletons, forming a ladder of skeletons.
Skeletons deal some damage directly to Bone, making them dangerous to fight for long.

These skeletons are the hollow-voiced nightmare guardians that one could find in fantasy media in the 80s. They are armed with some sort of weaponry, but their main threat is the Bone damage. It's not much, but it can be enough to make further progress into the site they're guarding unwise. They can also stack on top of one another and be climbed, so terrain matters less to skeletons than other creatures.

Here's another guardian, a classic:

Sphinxes guard tombs and treasure-houses. They are not actually living- rather they are a magical construct that does not need to eat, sleep, breathe, or see. They demand a countersign as the price for entrance, and violently slay any who attempt to enter without giving one. Common countersigns include the answers to riddles, a nonsense phrase, or possession of a singular object.
Level: 8
200M, 200B, 200S, 200R
Sphinx Claw- melee, +7SB, 40 M damage
Command- ranged, +9SB, 30S damage.
Sphinxes can fly and can see every location in the encounter at all times. A sphinx can speak all languages. A sphinx's sole desire is to prevent visitors. A Sphinx can use ranged powers even when a hostile creature is adjacent to it.

The classic sphinx demanded the answer to a riddle, or it would eat you. This Sphinx provides the same. You can't sneak past it, and it doesn't have any particular desire to leave at any point. Since they are impossible to dislodge and don't age, they are often very old, and may have been set to task centuries ago. Intruders who cannot answer correctly are commanded to leave, and intruders who cannot speak are simply torn to bits.

There are a couple more guardians I have in mind: The basilisk, the gorgon, hydras, minotaurs, sirens. The focal point is that characters have a hard time getting past them, and, of course, they are in the way somehow. In a GM's toolbox, Guardians are a known threat that asks players to think a little outside of the box. Encountering them head-on is often foolhardy and they absolutely won't get out of the way, so they require a bit of lateral thinking or else the expenditure of resources. I like to use guardian type encounters in most games as a sort of final check, so that players can do what they like once they gain access to the location, but getting what they want requires some hard decisions. Hard decisions are the best part of roleplaying games, so put some thought into what guardian to use and where to put it, and always consider that the players will come up with a better answer than you anticipated.

24 August 2016

Violence 2: The Hungry

I want to talk more about creatures. 

I like to organize my creatures in a sort of nested category of beings. Each category says something about what these creatures are trying to do, and how they like to do it.

Since the game is still essentially a response to Dungeons and Dragons, monsters are very antagonistic. Since I haven't developed much of the social side of things, monsters tend to be a little bloodthirsty. I plan on having that change when I've got a little bit more done with social interaction.

Regardless, monsters come in one of several categories. At the moment, I've got:

The Hungry: Monsters that exist merely to feed.
The Inscrutable: Mysterious monsters that have sort of oblique aims.
The Guardian: Leave alive, or stay and die to their hands.
The Brutal: Classic expansionist races that seek to exterminate rivals.

These encompass your classic monster types, with a little room for different "flavors" of being. I prefer my trolls hungry and my dragons greedy, so that's how I've written them.

Speaking of Trolls, here's how I've got them written up right now:

Trolls just want to eat. If there's something else to eat, they'll stop and do that, using their Troll Jaw to attack until they're sated, then leaving. Trolls do not speak.
Level: 4
100M, 100B, 40S, 70R
Troll Claw- melee, +4SB, 20M damage, bleed 3.
Troll Jaw- melee, +2SB, 40M damage, 20B damage.
Trolls gain five times the healing from Regeneration, and gain Regeneration 1 every time they take damage.
Trolls apply fire damage directly to Bone and Resolve. Trolls have a Stomach. A Stomach can hold 120 Meat and 60 Bone. Every time a Troll deals damage with its natural attacks, it gains that many points in its Stomach. Every time a Troll recovers health from its Regeneration, it loses that many points from its Stomach. When a Troll's Stomach is full, it has -2d SB and +2d Protection. A troll can empty a full Stomach if it dedicates a full turn to doing so.
So trolls are dangerous opponents, but they just want to eat. Every time they attack, they're shoving the shredded meat and organs into their gullets. When their stomachs are full, they're slow but even harder to kill. A troll with a full stomach that thinks it can still win might expel its stomach and continue fighting. It has to stand around to do so, though, so it will probably retreat somewhere safe, and then get itself back into fighting shape. A fight with a Troll thus has a certain sort of cadence to it, and it might not bother to return to a battle after its stomach is full. A starving troll is desperate and dangerous.

Here's another sort of Hungry monster that's even more dangerous: The Hag.

Hags want to eat you, but they're not stupid. They will use their shapeshifting powers to get your guard down, and then kill you when you're not looking. They are always ravenously hungry, and thus impatient.
Level: 6
100M, 50B, 70S, 100R
Evil Eye- ranged, +7SB, 15S damage
Sharp Claws- melee, +5SB, 20S damage, bleed 3. 
Hags pretend to be friendly and, using their high spirit, often convince passers-by to let their guard down. Common attempts include wounded traveler, convenient resting spot, traveling salesperson, or brigand slaver. A Hag that has a single target on its own will drop its disguise and use Evil Eye until the target submits to the will of the Hag, which usually means being eaten one way or the other. Hags speak whatever language is most common in the area, but typically know an additional language or two. 

I haven't decided how a Hag's shapeshifting works, but the idea is that it pretends to be a normal friendly sentient being (of whatever stripe makes sense to your campaign) until it can drain your Spirit. Without Spirit, a being can't fight. The Hag would much rather have an opponent stand there and die than resist. This also means that it's formidable as a leader, since it can use its Evil Eye from across a battlefield if it wants to, and with its high Strike Bonus it means that its opponents will be trying to hide from the Hag whenever possible.

You can see, if you've read the other post, how monsters interact with one another. Two Hags work in tandem to wear down their enemies, for example, or a Hag and a Troll might get along as long as the Troll is hungry. Orc Braves would love to work alongside a Troll (whose heavy damage and durability allows the Orcs to use their bows from relative safety).

So, as written, Hungry creatures are great wilderness encounters, since they're dangerous on their own sake. They don't really need a reason to be somewhere- they're obviously looking for food. They are likely to ambush a party during travel or resting periods, making them even more dangerous. In a GM's toolbox, they represent a hidden danger and a very direct threat. Hungry creatures make for exciting moments where the players have to survive the onslaught.

Guardians, on the other hand, will rarely surprise players. They're the next topic I'd like to discuss.

20 August 2016

OGRE DUST: Violence

I've got a calender over my computer desk, and every day, I mark it off with a slash. It's never a set time, it's always when I think about it. Since I like being on my computer when I'm home, it's usually about an hour into my free time that I mark it off.

I haven't marked off a single day in two weeks. That's how it's been around here.


Anyways, I wrote a sort of skirmish minigame that functions as the core of a bigger roleplaying system I'm working out in my very limited free time. (1)

It's pretty simple. Each player has a single character they've made beforehand. Player and GM roles are basically standard D&D stuff. Your characters have four attributes- Meat, Bone, Spirit, and Resolve. Meat plays the role of hit points- you lose them in fairly standard D&D ways, and gain them back after a night's rest. Bone points are long-term health- you only take bone damage when you're out of meat points (usually) and they recover at a rate of one/week. When you're out of Meat points you're on your last legs, and when you're out of Bone points, you're dead.

Spirit and Resolve function similarly, except they're for mental health. You lose Spirit by taking physical damage, plus by some special spirit-only attacks. Fear is modeled with Spirit, and so is exhaustion. When you're out of Spirit, you can start to lose Resolve. When you're out of Resolve, you can die very easily. You can skirt along on low (or negative) Resolve for as long as you want, but you're very vulnerable.