Friday, November 30, 2012

That Whole Healing Thing

Healing is always a point of contention in my campaigns, as I do not allow Clerics to be played (in most instances, I mean if the players were Orcunraytrel characters they could be). The contention is generally only between Eric and I, with him not feeling like there is enough magical healing available in my campaign and me generally responding in an irritated fashion with, "Yes there is, just don't be idiots." Recently I was talking to that boulder crawling bastard Lance and he said that most other healers suck in comparison to the Cleric. I then listed two examples of why I thought that was silly and he said he wasn't aware of those aspects. Because I feel like it, I am going to in depth breakdown precisely how much healing is available in my campaign and how the other classes that can heal compare to the almighty Cleric. It is not my intention to write this as an "I TOLD YOU SO!" post, but instead as more of an educational post so everyone is aware of all their magical healing options.

So lets start with the Cleric first. The first aspect of the Cleric is their ability to channel energy. Good aligned Clerics can channel positive energy a few times a day and generate a 30 ft. burst of energy to heal people or harm undead. This is a pretty significant ability, as no other class duplicates it to my knowledge, at least while thinking off the top of my head. I'll be honest, divine classes are not my wheelhouse. Regardless, we're not worried about other divine classes (remember that Druids are considered an arcane class in my campaign).

Additionally, the Cleric gains access to domains, and the healing domain empowers their cure wound spells, increasing the amount they heal by 50%. This is definitely an advantage, but any spellcaster can take the Empower Spell metamagic feat, though the Cleric gains it for free and it does not increase the level of their spells. However, it is only if you have the healing domain, which is not guaranteed. Unless of course you intend on playing a healerbot.

Spells. Clerics have all the healing spells. I am just sticking with the core book of Cleric spells at this time, because. So Clerics have access to cure wound spells at spell levels 1-4. These spells restore 1d8 hit points per level of the spell plus a small amount based on the level of the Cleric. Cure critical wounds restores 4d8 +1 hit point/level (max of +20). The 5th level cure spell reverts back to cure light wounds, but it is a mass spell that can affect one target per level of the Cleric and every spell level we get another mass cure wound spell. When the Cleric gets 8th level spells, we're back to cure critical wounds, but it affects multiple subjects. Clerics also have heal as a 6th level spell, which heals 10 hit points/level and cures all diseases and mental effects. They have mass heal as a 9th level spell as well. That is the straight up hit point restoration of the nine levels of Cleric spells.

In addition to this are other utility healing spells. Clerics have remove disease as a 3rd level spell and neutralize poison as a 4th level spell, they also have delay poison as a 2nd level spell. Remove blindness/deafness and remove curse are also 3rd level spells, but I could argue that they're not healing as Eric means it when he gets argumentative about the amount of healing in the campaign world. Lesser restoration, restoration, and greater restoration are available as 2nd, 4th, and 7th level spells, respectively. They restore temporary negative levels and temporary ability drain (which I just learned is different from ability damage today) and also cure various mental afflictions and fatigue and exhaustion, they can also in some cases restore permanent level drain and ability drain.

Breath of life is a handy 5th level spell. It heals some damage and if a creature was slain 1 round or less ago, that healing can bring it to positive hit points and restore it to life. Raise dead is a 5th level spell that brings back the dead, albeit with some penalties and some restrictions on its use. Resurrection is a 7th level better version of it, and the 9th level spell true resurrection is a still better version of that. Clerics also have regenerate as a 7th level spells, it doesn't heal piles of hit points, but it does regrow limbs and if you have a campaign where dismemberment happens regularly, it is certainly useful.

Again, all this stuff is from the core book, I have no intention of weeding through every single spell available to Clerics. This is the gist of it though. Clerics do make great healers, obviously. They certainly have an arsenal of restorative abilities. They also have a lot of buffing abilities, which are handy as well. The combination of buffing and healing is a very strong one, but that isn't exactly news. Leader classes from 4e were designed around the concept. Anyway, that is the healing available to the Cleric. Let's get to the other classes.

Alchemists are a spellcasting hybrid class with a wide variety of abilities. Their spells are kind of tricky as they can initially only be cast on the Alchemist, you have to take a discovery that allows you to let others use your extracts (Alchemist spells). Alchemists have the four basic cure spells as 1st - 4th level extracts, but they don't gain the mass versions of them. Their spells only go up to 6th level spells. They gain lesser restoration as a 3rd level formula (what Alchemist spells are called in their written form) and restoration as a 4th level formula, no greater restoration for them. They gain remove blindness/deafness, remove curse, and remove disease as 3rd level formulas. They also have neutralize poison as a 5th level formula, and heal as a 6th level formula. Alchemists don't have any formulas that bring the dead back to life, however they have two discoveries that allow them to. The philosopher's stone and elixir of life discoveries both give the alchemist the ability to use true resurrection. The philosopher's stone is probably the better option, as you can do some other neat stuff with it. 

In addition to these base abilities the Alchemist also has an archetype known as the Chirurgeon. They are automatically able to use their cure formulas on others without having to take the discovery that normally is needed to allow extracts to be used by others. They also have an ability that adds breath of life to their formula list as a 4th level formula. These abilities replace the Alchemists normal resistances to poison.

Bards have healing spells and stuff too. They have all the basic cure spells, and also have mass versions of cure light wounds and cure moderate wounds. Their spells only go up to 6th level, so they don't get higher end stuff. Bards have remove curse as a 3rd level spell, but no remove blindness/deafness or disease. They do get neutralize poison as a 4th level spell and delay poison as a 2nd level spell. Bards get no restoration spells or bring back the dead spells. Bards do have a performance that acts as mass cure moderate wounds and also removes the fatigued, sickened, and shaken conditions.

The Songhealer Bard archetype also has some enhanced healing abilities. The first is that they can use their class level as the caster level for any spell completion or trigger devices that have healing effects, rather than the caster level of the creator of the item (which is usually the minimum level for found gear). They also gain a bardic performance that can act as the heal spell and eventually one that acts as resurrection.

While Druids can opt to gain a domain instead of an animal companion, they do not have access to the healing domain.

Druids have all the basic cure wound spells, they just get them as 1st level, 3rd level, 4th level, and 5th level spells. They also have the mass cure versions of the spells, but they gain them as 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells instead of the Cleric progression. Druids gain access to neutralize poison as a 3rd level spell, instead of a 4th level spell like the Cleric. They also have delay poison as a 2nd level spell. Druids gain remove disease just as a Cleric does. Druids only have access to lesser restoration and no other restoration spells, they gain lesser restoration as a 2nd level spell, just as the Cleric does. Druids have access to the regenerate spell, but as a 9th level spell. Druids don't gain any bring back the dead spells, but they do have reincarnate as a 4th level spell, which is of minimal use, as it brings you back in a random body and has a slew of penalties like lower end bring back the dead spells tend to. However, you can use wish or miracle to restore them from their reincarnated state to their original form. Yay...? Wow, druids get finger of death. I had no idea.

There are two feats in my campaign that add healing capabilities to the Wizard or Sorcerer. Healing Sorcery adds all the cure spells and their variants, remove disease, remove blindness/deafness, breath or life, heal, mass heal, delay poison, neutralize poison, and regenerate to the character's spell list (Wizards still need to find a scroll of spellbook with them in it to add the spells to their own spellbook). The Sorcery of Life feat adds the three restoration spells to the character's spell list, along with raise dead, resurrection, and true resurrection. 

Heal Skill
The heal skill can be used to restore hit points in Pathfinder (this was not possible in 3.5, at least not in the short term). The Heal skill can be used to help on disease and poison saves, restore more hit points and ability score damage each day, and also to treat deadly wounds. Treating deadly wounds is a DC 20 Heal check that takes an hour and a healer's kit. It only restores hit points equal to the character level of the patient, plus your Wisdom modifier if you hit the 25 mark on your check. It also requires two uses of the healer's kit and there is a penalty if you don't have a healer's kit with at least two uses left. A character can only be treated this way once per day and only if the wounds were taken within the last 24 hours. This isn't exactly a cure all, but it is better than nothing I guess.

Potions are available to be bought, though they do carry the inherent risk of unreliability in magic items, and creating them depends upon the spells available to the caster. 

Monks typically do not have healing capabilities beyond their immunity to disease and poisons at higher levels, and they do have the ability to restore some of their own hit points with ki powers. However, there is a Monk archetype called Monk of the Healing Hand that does have some healing capabilities. At 7th level, this Monk type gains the ability to spend 2 ki points to restore hit points to another person as a standard action. They restore 2 hit points per level of the Monk, but they cannot restore hit points to themselves. At 11th level this type of Monk gains the ability to burn all of the ki in his ki pool (must be at least 6) to use raise dead, at 15th level this becomes resurrection (and needs at least 8 ki points). The Monk's ki points don't replenish until 24 hours have passed. At 20th level, the Monk gains the ability to basically sacrifice himself to create a 50 ft. burst of true resurrection that affects all allies. However, he essentially erases himself from existence when he does this and cannot be brought back to life, even with wish or miracle.

The Vitalist is a psionic healer. They gain natural healing as a 1st level power (restores 3 hit points per power point spent). They have delay poison and resist toxin as 2nd level powers, along with body adjustment (which heals 1d12 hit points, plus 1d12 per additional 2 power points spent). Body purification is a 3rd level power that restores ability point damage. Mend body is a 3rd level power that is a more powerful version of body adjustment. They have psionic revivify (functions as raise dead, but only within 1 round of death) and restore extremity (psionic regenerate) as 5th level powers. Cleanse spirit is a 6th level power that restores ability drain and level drain and heal injuries is a psionic version of heal that can be augmented to act as a mass version. True metabolism is an 8th level power that gives you regeneration 10. The Mender Vitalist is able to use psionic revivify a number or rounds following the death of a character equal to his Wisdom modifier, and he also gains a 20th level ability that allows him to completely restore a character to good health as a full round action. 

Ok, one of the issues with psionic powers is that the restorative ones generally only target the manifester. You can sneak around this with the affinity field power (which affects everyone in the field with every effect that affects anyone, which is tricky to use), but it is a 9th level power. However, the Vitalist has something called a collective and the Vitalist can control any healing of any type that occurs in the collective and redirect it to anyone in it. So he can spam biofeedback or natural healing and redirect it to the Fighter getting smashed by giants. The Vitalist also gains the ability to use the Heal skill on his collective at range to stabilize dying people or treat poison and such. The Vitalist also has the ability at 3rd level to drain hit points from targets with a touch and transfer them to the collective, he eventually can drain health this way at range.

Additionally, any psionic character that can manifest empathic transfer (the Egoist Psion variant, the Vitalist, and the Psychic Warrior) can transfer wounds and disease and such to themselves and then use their psionic powers that can target only themselves to heal injury and afflictions.

Witches are a straight up full arcane caster, they even get a familiar. They're a very versatile one though due to their hexes. We'll stick to the healing related hexes for this exercise though. In a fashion similar to the Druid, the Witch has access to all the basic cure spells, but as 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th level spells. They do also gain the mass versions, but as 6th - 9th level spells. They have remove blindness/deafness, remove curse, and remove disease as 3rd level spells, and neutralize poison as a 4th level spell. Delay poison makes an appearance once again as a 2nd level spell. They gain heal and regenerate as 7th level spells and like the Druid, they have access to the reincarnate spell. However, they gain raise dead as a 6th level spell and resurrection as an 8th level spell.

In my mind, Witches look pretty good as a healer. Especially considering they can lay down a lightning bolt or two as well. One thing to note, Witches have something called a patron, patrons are kind of mysterious force that grants the Witch some power. It is kind of a Cleric/deity style relationship but more sinister. The Witch doesn't necessarily understand that he has entered into the service of this power and it may not hold the same goals and motivations that the Witch does. Regardless, there are several varieties of patron, and one of them has the focus of healing. Having this patron adds all the restoration spells to the Witch's spell list, the mass version of cure critical wounds, and true resurrection.

Witches also have an ability called a hex. Hexes are magical abilities that the Witch can use and they gain about eleven total over the 20 levels of the class. Some are benign and others are more sinister, we'll focus on the benign ones. The healing hex allows the witch to cure light wounds as a standard action using the Witch's caster level, but a creature can only be healed this way once per day. At 5th level this hex upgrades to cure moderate wounds. The major healing hex is just cure serious wounds that upgrades to cure critical wounds at 15th level. The life giver hex allows the witch to use resurrection once a day.

Ok, this isn't a healing feature per say, but the Witch has this hex called forced reincarnation where her target makes a Will save or dies, and then is reincarnated as if reincarnate was cast on them.

So there is some healing. Six classes capable of varying degrees of healing with the Witch, Alchemist, and Vitalist hitting all the appropriate notes that the Cleric does. In addition, the two feats listed above make any Wizard or Sorcerer a completely competent healer. The flaw with the arcane classes is that unlike the Cleric and Vitalist who just get whatever spells they want, the arcane classes have to add it to their spellbook or forumula book or whatever before they can cast it, so there is a bit of extra work on their end.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weird Realization

So we are all familiar with the randomness of dice based gaming used to simulate chance and luck. Even if you tweak every little thing and take flaws and min/max yourself to a power level of over 9000, it stills comes down to a die roll. You can dual wield rapiers, scimitars, cutlasses, or kukris and get Improved Critical and have your 30% chance to crit with each of your two to seven attacks from Two-Weapon Fighting, but it still comes down to a die roll. Your crit may auto hit (only on a 20) and you may do double damage, but it doesn't mean shit if you roll snakes eyes (That's two ones, right? I know shit about gambling and dice, aside from the obvious fairly niche expertise). It's that random element of chance that keeps the game organic and exciting, it leads to that wee little bit of tightening in your gut when you absolutely have to hit that undead monstrosity and you do and your roll may save the party or lead to your death. 

For the longest time I have been irritated with the random rolls to determine ability scores and hit points. So much so that since we've played 4th Edition and Pathfinder, I have used the point buy system for ability score generation and static hit points every level, which is only a change for Pathfinder. My gripe is that one Fighter can end up with a bunch of 16s and 18s and the other can end up with a pile of 12s for his ability scores. One Fighter can end up needing to hide behind the Rogue to soak up damage while the other can just straight up wade into battle and not have to worry about it. It offers up kind of an unfair imbalance to the gameplay. My thought is that the players should at the very least be able to construct characters in a reliable fashion so that they are on even ground. I mean, if you're going to roll randomly for hit points and ability scores, why not skill points as well? Fighters get d4, Rogues d10, and so on. Modified by Intelligence modifier obviously. Anyway, my belief is that the core character should be static to ensure that everyone is built in the same way and there is kind of a fair and balanced set up for characters to be constructed on that puts everyone on even footing. 

So I've felt this way for a long time about ability scores and hit points, but never about damage rolls or saving throws or anything like that. I mean, a 6th level Wizard casts fireball and gets a low roll on his 6d6 and his buddy the 5th level Wizard casts fireball and gets a good roll on his 5d6 and does more damage than the more experienced and more powerful Wizard. I mean, looking at it logically, the 6th level Wizard is better, he should reliably do more damage (and he very well may, depending on feat selection, but for this exercise these two Wizards have all the same feats), but all his experience and power gain him is a larger potential for damage. Which is odd, isn't it? I mean the Wizard is a class of training and study and learning to grant you the skill necessary to wield magic, whereas the Sorcerer just like does it because he can with no practice or study. 

While sitting here typing about the topic, it does seem fairly odd that my need for balanced statistics hasn't extended to weapons and saves and spells and the like, I still don't feel like it is something important that needs to be added to the game. It's just a kind of weird incongruity stuck in my brain place at the moment. I suppose ultimately it boils down to the fact that hit points and ability scores are always going to be a main chunk of your character. They're with you for as long as you play the game. They are with you for every single combat, whereas that random die roll for damage from your sword or spell is with you for that single six second round of combat. Your Charisma bonus is with you for every single Diplomacy or Bluff roll. Blah blah etc etc.

Weapon rolls and spell rolls have always been random, there is no edition of the game where they haven't. Although, a part of me really likes the OD&D rules for weapon damage rolls. Single handed weapons like a longsword or battle axe do 1d6 damage. Two-handed weapons roll 2d6, but use the higher of the two die rolls for damage, and small weapons like a dagger roll 2d6 but use the lower die result as the damage. It's a pretty simple system that kind of eliminates the need for three pages of weapon charts and special abilities, but as the game has become more complex and involved more statistics, a simplified system like that doesn't really fit in. 

Interesting thought, what if Intelligence/study based arcane casters have static values based on the average die result (d4 = 2.5, d6 = 3.5, d8 = 4.5, etc) while Charisma/intuition based casters use all the normal random values? What if Clerics and other divine casters had the random values of their spells determined in some way by their standing with their deity and their devotion to his/her cause and goals in the world? Perhaps a series of feats as well to improve the static damage of the study based arcane casters. Hmm.

Alright, that's all I've got. Time to listen to the PAX 2012 Acquisitions Inc. podcast. Three minutes in and Jim Darkmagic is driving the Darkmagic estate through the planes while drunk and there is a Doctor Who reference. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Alternate Rules: Elduman Feats

So I've been thinking about Eldumans lately, mainly their psionic nature. They have the ability to sustain themselves with psionic energy by paying 1 power point per day to go without food and water. They also have an ability to give themselves a +4 to saving throws, and one to reduce damage they take by 2 points. So they generally have the appearance of being tough, as long as they have power points. There isn't anything in the language anywhere, but I think I may change it to limit how many power points they can spend on each of those abilities in one sitting. All psionic powers limit the amount of power points you can spend to manifest and augment the power by your manifester level, so a 6th level Psion can spend 6 power points on a power (this includes the base cost of the power) and a Psychic Warrior 5/Monk 2 can spend 5 power points on a power he manifests. Anyway, I think I'd just add a line to the abilities that says you cannot spend more than your hit dice in power points on any of those abilities in one sitting. Although, the only one you can really spend multiple power points on is the one that reduces damage. Anyway.

The thing that inspired this was discussing nonlethal damage and the Elduman Resilience power. In the most recent email, the group had cause to do some extensive moving, which causes nonlethal damage. My initial thought was that Donovan could not use Elduman Resilience to avoid this damage because it comes from overworking his body and isn't like a blade or something hitting him in the face. Cary disagreed and after a moment of thinking about it, I did as well. If Eldumans can feed their bodies with mental power, and prevent the destruction of their crystalline flesh with it, why can't it restore weird crystalline muscle tissue or remove weird crystalline chemical build up in those muscles? 

This led to me coming up with a feat idea, something called Elduman Restoration. There are three feats for Eldumans that enhance their innate abilities. Enhanced Elduman Repletion removes their need for food and water, but doesn't cost any power points. Enhanced Elduman Resistance improves the one round save bonus to +6. Enhanced Elduman Resilience improves the damage prevention to 4 points per power point. My thought is that this Elduman Restoration feat would require all three of these Enhanced Elduman feats as prerequisites. 

The function of the feat would be that you gain Fast Healing 1 for one round per power point you spend (capping at your character level), though I am wondering if Fast Healing 2 would be better since it is a heal over time. I might require a character level to take the feat as well, as I'd like it to be a higher end feat, but again, Fast Healing 1 or 2 aren't that significant at higher level play. At 20th level, with enough power points, you're looking at 20 - 40 hit points over as many rounds, which makes it not so amazingsauce for combat, but good for recovery. 

I wonder if temporary Regeneration would be more appropriate than Fast Healing though. Perhaps temporary Regeneration, but given that it is crystal and not flesh and blood, perhaps it is vulnerable to sonic damage instead of fire or acid. But that doesn't exactly make precise sense because a lot of psionic powers have to do with crystal and sonic damage. 

Hmm, I guess I'll think about it. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lamentations & Class Ideas

One of my biggest beefs with gaming is that I never get to play as a player and I have such an immense knowledge of the game. So I know the game and I see what people are playing and I come up with my own ideas about stuff. I come up with these character concepts that I think would be fun to play, but there is no release for them. They don't really get to ever go anywhere but rattle around in my head for a time, until something new pops in. Occasionally I get to put these thoughts into effect via an NPC, but my NPCs tend to be uncomplicated because I can't be running that game and also managing a complex character. Plus, I feel like playing something with spells and such while being the GM gives me the opportunity to subconsciously or otherwise aid the players in some way, to give them an advantage. Frankly, they have enough advantages as it is. I always tend to hold back from outright killing them when one more hit would take them down. I also habitually underpower their foes. For instance, in the most recent scenario, there are the four of them and three npcs, one of which is significantly higher level than the rest. For some reason, I thought it was prudent to put them up against four zombies, somehow feeling that that would be a decent challenge. Luckily, I caught myself prior to game day and fixed that error.

Edit After The Fact: They still fucking basically one shot killed the main enemy, which is basically what happened two scenarios ago. Maybe I should have them fight a dragon... Also, Vanden was a pain in the ass to manage. I basically just had him hit shit and used his excessive power point value to fuel his ability to ignore damage. I think I may reinvent him as a straight up Fighter. It might be easier to manage. I'd consider Soulknife, but we already have him using a his crystal sword and pistol combo. In comparison, Gog and Gamog were a breeze to use. 

So a long long time ago, I read that Wizards make the best assassins. Mind you, I read this in some Baldur's Gate material while the game was still in production. Later in life, I read some Dark Sun books and about all the poisoning and assassinating the bards did on Athas. This kind of led to the concept of a Bard/Assassin in 3.5 Edition. I thought the concept had a lot of synergy. Bards have a decent base attack bonus, they have lots of handy spells, including all of the ones that increase ability scores like bull's strength. In addition to having access to invisibility and various diplomatic spells.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of work with the Assassin prestige class, for reasons that won't become relevant for like 3-5 scenarios. So the class has been on my mind. Back in 3.5, the Assassin had access to spells in and of itself but in Pathfinder it does not, just a lot of stealth and murder abilities. I think this makes more sense. Anyway, I'm really starting to kind of want to run like a Wizard/Assassin. Think of it. An Assassin is if nothing else, a focused individual that needs preparation to be his most effective. A Wizard follows along the same track, if he knows what he is up against, he can tailor his spell selection to fit with the ideal set up. Granted, Wizards have no stealth or attack abilities, but have you met my friends true strike, mage armor, and invisibility?  All are capable of being cast by a third level Wizard, hit level 5 and keep a lightning bolt or fireball in your pocket as an oh shit button and you're pretty much set to go to take down a target. It you want to go with a more utility route, you've got knock or accelerate poison or alter self that are also at low level.

If you wished, you could instead use the Magus class as the base to kind of shore up the hit points and attack bonus of the Wizard concept. You would sacrifice a little bit of the spell utility though, as Magi have a more limited spell selection. But the Magus would have more survivability in unexpected situations.

The unfortunate aspect of this combo is that if you do 10/10 with the level breakdown is that you cap the Wizard's spells at 5th level, which is not exactly ideal. You still get plenty of useful ass spells to leverage against targets, but no time stop to let you study the target and then cap his ass when it ends. However, one significant bonus would be the truly excessive Intelligence modifier you would have. The Assassin death attack is 10 + 1/2 the Assasin's level + Intelligence modifier. I'm figuring something on par with 18-20 range. Now, a DC 20 save isn't impossible by any means at higher levels, but as a save or die I think it is ok. Even on a failure, you still have the Assassin sneak attack damage to deal with.

I dunno, obviously the Assassin is meant for a Rogue, but I think a Wizard or Magus variant has some possibilities. Fuck, an Alchemist could be pretty slick as well. I mean, you have the mutagen to hulk out and a hefty bonus on Craft (Alchemy) checks to make poisons and some poison based abilities that make poisons you use nastier. I wonder if you can sneak attack with bombs...

Just some odd combos I've thought about I guess.

Friday, November 16, 2012


The two Goebleen hid behind the crenelations of the tower, peering over the lip out at their foes.

"Gob," mumbled one, "I think we're fucked."

Gob nodded, "Yup, we sure are, Gor."

Gob had both his pistols holstered while he hid behind the crenelations, a cigarette clamped between his lips. He beat his thumbs against his knees, which were pulled up against his chest. His brother sat beside him, burly and scarred for a Goebleen with teeth like spear tips, rather than needles like his brother. He wore traditional hides, stitched with clan symbols and luck fetishes given to him by their uncle. His pack sat beside him against the stone of the tower.

Gob drew his right hand pistol and flipped it around to pass it butt first to his brother.

"I suppose you'll be needing this then."

Gor accepted the pistol and gnashed his impressive teeth, "Can't exactly kneecap 'em, now can it?"

Gob nodded and asked, "You bring the drink?"

Gor nodded, "Uncle is downstairs finishing the rites, once he's had his little chat with the ancestors, he said he'd have an apprentice bring it up to you."

Gob scowled, sticking out his lower lip in a pout, "He's not maybe gonna stick around for bit, possibly?"

Gor snorted, "Not to save some pirate fort in the middle of nowhere. He'll be sticking around to get our guns when we get hacked to bits. Dad'll want the guns."

Gob sighed, "You're probably right. They're not pirates, well, ok, they are pirates. They're not stupid though. Well, I mean, they are, sometimes. Like they keep building this tower and I'm supposed to put up a wall, but we don't have a mushroom cave and I don't think they're supposed to have this place because they haven't told the other pirates they have it and I think the other pirates would get mad if they knew they had it, so they just keep lying, which isn't smart but it's cool to have a fort. They don't have a flag though and they keep calling it Fort Jagged Tooth, I think the drunk one is confused about geography because one time he said it was because of the mountains but the mountains are way over there. But they're cool, they helped kill the shits that ended Kar and Kyr, aunt Akra and aunt Alkyra both hugged me when I gave them all those ears. One is really tall. Like, really really tall. I dunno how he can stand it, and he's got two knees on each leg, it's nuts. He's got six fingers, what the fuck do you do with six fingers? One of 'em does this thing where he gets hurt, and his skin looks like dry bat shit and falls off and then fixes itself. It's weird, but cool. I think one of 'em has a drinking problem, but he's cool, seems to like us. One has these creepy giant eyes and does magic and has guns, but I don't think I've ever seen him talk to an ancestor or a familiar and none of 'em knew what Immortals were. The Known World sounds like a messed up place."

Gor nodded slowly, grinding his teeth together, "Neat."

"I feel like I should be making bombs, grenades and stuff. Uncle got the mixtures of all the powders right for bullets, and it didn't take him long to figure out grenades and I think grenades would come in handy now. "

"You're probably right, Gob. Be patient, Uncle will be done soon."

Someone called from down below at the foot of the tower in Goebleen, "Ratlings, this tower is surrounded and we outnumber you, for once. Open the door and allow us to secure our fortification and we'll allow any women among you to leave peaceably. Maintain your defenses, and we will slaughter you all."

Gob said, "How many women you bring with you?"

Gor screwed up his face and ground his teeth together, "Sixteen, I think."

"Any of 'em cousins?"


"Do we like any of them?"

"Nah, they're all uncle Lar and aunt Illy's second litter."

Gob spit out the stub of his cigarette and said, "Dad'll still be mad if we get 'em killed though."

"You're probably right."

"I'm always right," Gob said with a smile, "I'm the smartest and smallest of the litter."

Gor shrugged, but he was smirking around his huge, tusk-like teeth.

"Go eat giant dicks!" screeched Gob as he and his brother lurched atop the crenelations and unloaded six rounds each into the massed Asosans below.

There was screaming and yelling and dying, then a flight of arrows sent the brothers scurrying back into cover. Gob tossed his brother a handful of rounds as he reloaded his pistol.

"This is weird," said Gob.

"You mean hiding out in an Asosan fort waiting for Uncle to finish jawing with the ancestors before Asosans storm the place and kill us because you don't want to run away and let the Asosans have what your friends stole from them?"

Gob stuck out his tongue at his brother and said, "No, Asosans outnumbering us. How weird is that? I mean, there are lots of us. We always outnumber them, that's what we do. I don't like being outnumbered, it's a little irritating.

Gor nodded, "It sure is. Can I get a smoke?"

Gob nodded and passed his brother a cigarette. Gor accepted it and struck a match against one of his teeth. He inhaled deeply, exhaling slowly while staring up at the sky.

"Kinda cool to see the stars," he said finally, "like a bunch a torches in the sky watching us, keeping us safe from demons out here. I miss mom, and dad, grandpa too. You ever wonder if the stars are the ancestors keeping an eye on us? That'd be pretty cool."

Gob nodded, "Yeah, that'd be neat. You see dad more than I do though."

Gor shrugged, "Yeah, he's not the same though. It's different. He's all, I'm king of the Goebleen, I have to do stuff and keep the clans from infighting and the Asosans from overrunning us. I dunno. It's weird."

"My buddy Karrak, the drunk one, he wants to be an Immortal."

When Gor stopped cackling and finished wiping the tears from his eyes he said, "Can pirates even become Immortals? I wonder what their price would be."

Gob shrugged, "They met the Wanderer too, and the tall one has the Hound hunting him."

Gor laughed some more and when he stopped he asked, "Do you wanna burn this place down now, or just sit back and watch the disaster they've made of things. Could be pretty cool. The Hound and the Wanderer are involved, and one of them wants to be an Immortal and The Black Mountain is all the way on the other side of Orcunraytrel. One way or another, something entertaining is bound to happen. Actually, can I hang around? It'll be like a chronicler observing a battle, to record the events for future generations. Or something. I dunno. I'm bored."

Three more volleys of arrows had arched over their, heads while they spoke. Somewhere in the tower, someone bellowed an angry string of curses in Malstern. After the third flight clattered against the stone tower, accompanied by the cursing of Asosans, a young Goebleen in robes clambered up out of the hatch on top of the tower. He grinned at Gob and Gor and held out of fired clay vial to Gob. The liquid in the vial bubbled and hissed and when Gob brought it to his nose to sniff he immediately began sneezing and coughing. Gor and the young Goebleen chuckled.

"Time for your medicine," said Gor.

Gob grimaced and downed the brew. Once it was down, he immediately began coughing and spluttering.

The young witch looked at Gor and said, "If he throws it up, his uncle is going to be really mad."

Gob was coughing so hard tears were running from his shut eyes, but he managed to give his brother and the young witch a thumbs up. Gor and the young Goebleen looked at each other and shrugged. The Goebleen climbed back down the hatch and left the two brothers to their business.

"Hey Gor," Gob said as he stopped coughing and opened his eyes.

"Yeah, Gob?"

"I don't think we're fucked anymore."

Gor looked at his brother and his wide smile and mad eyes. His brother was stretching now and cracking his knuckles. There was an unnatural grace and agility to the way Gob moved. Gob had always been scrawny and quick, even for a Goebleen, but there was something about him now. Something of the quickness of a biting goat's snapping teeth or the ambush leap of a mountain cougar in him when he moved.

Gob began rummaging around in his pockets, pulling spare ammo and empty casings, bits of feather and leather, and the occasional piece of lint. His fingers moved like striking snakes, pulling apart bullets and emptying their powder onto a few pieces of leather. He tossed a few brass casings to his brother while he was preparing the concoctions.

"Chew those till they're jagged and sharp."

Gor set to chewing brass and spit out the fragments into a pile before Gob and Gob quickly began mixing them in with the powder. He spent a few more minutes pulling odds and ends from his pockets before folding the leather and using string to tie them into mostly round leather balls. He picked them up and began juggling the half dozen leather balls.

"Whatcha doin, Gob?"

"Magic, I think. Not sure. There's a whole bunch of stuff in my head right now. Do smell biting goat? I do. I thought it'd be neat to juggle them. This is kind of fun, I should do this more often. I wonder how many I can juggle at once. You have any rope?"

"Uh, yeah."


Gor found a coil of rope and held it out to Gob. Gob looked from the leather balls as they went up in the air and then at the rope.

"I didn't think that through. Do me a favor and tie it off on one of the stone thingies we hid behind."

Gor did what Gob asked.

"Ok, throw the rope over."

As he tied the rope off Gor said, "Uh, Gob, I feel like I know where this is heading and I think it's a bad idea."

"Nah, it'll be fine, just yell out attack when you think it's right."

"Uh, Gob..."

Gob launched himself off the top of the tower, plucking the balls from the air as he did so and grabbing the rope with one hand, screeching, "Bangarang!" at the top of his lungs as he went flying over the side of the roof.

Gor felt that this was the right time, so he screamed along with his brother, "Attack!"

Thirty Goebleen came boiling out of the tower and rushed the fifty Asosans screeching and squealing like a horde of armed rats. The Asosans bellowed cries in the name of the Armiger and Asosa and the two forces met in a crunch of metal and bloody mayhem. As Gob slid down his rope he began spitting on his leather balls and lobbing them into the rear mass of Asosans. When they met the ground or the unlucky Asosan head, they exploded in blasts of fire and shrapnel and threw Asosans everywhere.

When Gob hit the ground his eyes were as big a saucers as he looked at the mangled ruin he had made of the Asosans. Then he started screeching in pain and holding his torn apart hand. The rope had shredded his palm. Gob hopped around screeching, curled over his wounded hand, completely oblivious to the waning battle around him. Completely oblivious to the battered Asosan soldier approaching him with a drawn sword.

Gor, now on the ground as well, saw the soldier and charged towards his brother screaming his name. Gob looked up, saw the soldier and went for the gun he had given his brother. He remembered and went for his other gun, but forgot his hand. He got the revolver in hand, thumbed the hammer then completely fumbled it as his blood slick hand and torn up fingers couldn't manage the weight. The Asosan swung his sword at Gob's head and hit it at the same time Gor's body hit the soldier's arm.

The sword bit into the left side of Gob's face just as Gor slammed into it from the right, preventing his brother from losing his head. Gob fell away, holding his bleeding hand to his bleeding face. Gor latched onto the Asosan's arm with his giant teeth and wrapped his arms and legs around the limb. The Asosan dropped his sword and tried to bash his shield against the Goebleen, but Gor wouldn't let go. He gnashed his teeth and spat blood and flesh from his mouth while bellowing like an enraged biting goat. Eventually he found bone and wrenched his neck around and severed the limb midway between wrist and elbow and let go. The Asosan topped over, pale and on the verge of passing out. Gor leapt atop the fallen Asosan and tore his throat out. He stood atop the Asosan's chest with his fists clenched, hissing and spitting blood through his gnashing teeth. He shook his head back and forth for a moment and then ran to his brother.

The left side of Gob's face was gashed open, his eye gone and the tip of his ear clipped off.

Gor screamed, "Witch!"

Gob and Gor's uncle appeared from nowhere and looked at Gob, scoffing.

"I knew this was a bad idea, nephews."

"Uncle?" asked Gor.

The greatest witch among the Goebleen glared at his nephew and set aside his black staff and kneeled over his other nephew.

"This really hurts, uncle," whispered Gob.

"Of course it does, Gob. You had a sword in your face."

"How's my ear?"

"Shut up, Gob."

Gob's uncle began muttering under his breath, it sounded like a sorcerous incantation, but it might have been the mutterings of an older Goebleen lamenting the folly of young Goebleen with new toys. Sorcerous light began to fill his hands, and the flaps of skin hanging off of Gob's face quickly began to mend, though his eye was not restored and his ear remained clipped. When his uncle was done, Gob stood up. There was a thick scar running across the left side of his head from where his ear had been clipped across where his eye had been with just the smallest tip of it marking the left side of his nose. 

"You've been in charge of this place for, what? Almost a week, Gob? Already you've lost an eye, a chunk of your ear, seven Goebleen lives, and my respect. How much will you sacrifice for your friends? Friends that are pirates that will most likely come for us eventually, just as the Asosans did. You belong in the warrens, fighting beside your brother for your father and I. There are young ones that look up to you, you are a legend to them, both you and Gor. They would follow you into the Underhel if you asked it of them. You could be a warleader of your people. Instead you have friends of questionable character that will inevitably betray you and our people when they decide it is appropriate."

Gob scowled at his uncle, "I won't sit in the warrens, I won't scurry around in the dark raiding Asosan cities because I'm bored. That's our problem, that's always been our problem. We sit around our fires and tell tales of the ancestors and fighting the giants and puff up our small chests. We ignore the other races because no one was there to help us when we fled here and dug our warrens. We ignore them because we think we're better because no one held our hand and saved us from our enemies. We tell ourselves that Goebleen only matter to Goebleen and that is the way it should be. I dunno what these guys are doing, but they're tough and they're funny and they're alright, so I'm going to call them friends and blow holes in giants and Asosan with them because I'm sick of sitting around the fires bragging about the past and how we never needed any other nation."

Gob's uncle looked at him for a moment and gave a small nod before saying, "And when they inevitably betray you because they don't need you anymore? Or because they want something you have? Or because the rest of the pirates decide we're in the way of their expansion and your friends decide they're just following orders?"

Gob shrugged, "I'll kill 'em myself if that happens. Told 'em I would."

"All four of them?"

Gob grinned from ear to half ear and said, "I'm quicker and tricksier now."

His uncle snorted and said, "Come Gor, we should leave this place. Your father will wish to hear of your brother's escapades."

Gor toed the ground in front of him kind of sheepishly and said, "Uh, uncle, I was kind of going to maybe stick around with Gob." He looked at his brother, "If that's alright with you."

Gob grinned at his blood soaked brother, "Of course!"

Their uncle sighed and threw up his hands and said, "Fine, go. Be among the other races. Do whatever you want. I'm old and tired and I need to properly thank the ancestors for their assistance with my sorcery this evening and I am leaving. Just make sure you kill plenty of giants and Asosans and at least pretend you have the interests of your people in mind."

The nephews and uncle exchanged hugs and the witch reclaimed his staff and apprentices before wandering away in the direction of the Goebleen warrens. 

As Gob and Gor walked towards the entrance of the tower Gor asked, "What the fuck does bangarang mean?"

Gob said, "Not sure. It was rattling around my brain, felt like saying it, so I did."

Gor shrugged and nibbled on a piece of Asosan stuck in his teeth and the two brothers went into the tower to look for the cook and his cleaver before they started scalping Asosans. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is several days after the fact, but just so everyone knows, even though he isn't currently an active player, Jeremy is still winning at DnD. Why you ask? For the following as a sarcastic response to this post.

"Ermahgerd skerleterns!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Alternate Rules: Rings

Ok, so one of the common oddball things about DnD has always been that you can only wear two rings at a time. Anymore and they start interfering with each other, because magic. Now, I've seen prestige classes before where you gain the use of more than just two rings. Most of them amount to copy and pasting all the stats from the Wizard class and then over ten levels gaining the ability to use six to eight more rings than normal. The usual requirement is something like Use Magic Device or Knowledge (Arcana) or some magic item creation feat, usually the one for rings. To me, this seems rather lame and also like overkill. Couldn't the issue simply be resolved with a feat?

So I am thinking something along the lines of a feat with a requirement of the Forge Ring feat. That feat already has a 7th level caster requirement, and I would think ranks in Use Magic Device would be appropriate as well, so we'll call 7 ranks of Use Magic Device a requirement as well. This naturally limits the use of this feat I am creating to arcane spellcasters. I'm not sure how I would go about making it a universal feat, other than just simply making Use Magic Device ranks the requirement. I think if I were to make it able to be taken by non casters I would make the requirements 10 ranks of Use Magic Device or like 5 ranks and Skill Focus in the skill.

Ok, so the mechanics of this feat that I am thinking of are something like a relatively high Use Magic Device check made increasingly difficult by the number of rings you are currently wearing. The check is to stabilize or synergize the energy of your rings so they don't interfere with one another. I'm figuring a base of 20 + 2 per ring you are wearing. So this means adding a third ring makes the DC 26. Most magic items resize themselves to fit whoever happens to pick them up and I am thinking that if you fail the check, the magic rings turn off for 24 hours as their magic fritzes out and they all discombobulate each other. The penalty is that this would make them stuck on your fingers.

So every day, you put on your rings, make the check, and figure out if you can keep them stable for the day. If the check fails, you're stuck with a bunch of irremovable rings that won't work for you. I'm thinking having Detect Magic on while making the check will add a bonus on the Use Magic Device check. Meh, I dunno. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

What The Double Fuck?

It suddenly occurs to me, whilst driving home from the gas station, that I have written the Fallen as having an appearance fairly typical to rotted undead creatures. Now, this isn't terribly weird, they are undead animated by a unknowable entity known as The Bleak Tyrant. However, all Fallen were once Eldumans. Eldumans are crystalline creatures that wear faux-flesh over a body composed of crystalline structures and internal organs that look like raw gemstones and various pulsing psionic fluids. As such, they would not rot or smell or you know, have bone to make them look all skeletal and whatnot. Why has it taken me like three years to realize this, and why the fuck has no one mentioned this glaring, semi-truck sized, hole in the game world's consistency to me? Whelp, I guess I'll be doing some typing this afternoon. Yeesh. 


Stupid fucking dogdamn nifty city building sim game subsystems.

I like maps and city building. I can't draw for shit, but I love doing stuff like plotting out coastlines and drawing little symbols for mountains and my goofy little trees. Making maps is one of the things I love about GMing. I also love simulation games. I love managing trade and resource needs and production. I have put many days of time into playing Anno 2070 just building things and managing resources without once building a military structure or fleet of ships. I can't count how many hours I have spent looking at city construction optimization guides for Anno 2070. Finding ways to tweak roads and house placement and link up warehouses in an optimal way with production facilities and the resource gather facilities they need. It is kind of a sickness.

At one time I considered mapping out every alley of New Haven and Je'Clre. Luckily the players never did anything with Je'Clre, so it has kind of remained a shithole with about a dozen buildings. At one time I wanted to map out every square of Orcunraytrel that the players explored, but it was never feasible. I dunno, I have this weird fascination with having physical representations of the game world. I want my players to see what I see, I want them immersed. I want them to experience it the way I do. It's why I do things like have Jeremy make flags and why I want graphics in the campaign book and used to use minis with our battle mats when we gamed in person. This fascination was why I grabbed a fancy program like Campaign Cartographer, and while I think it is a fantastic program, I have trouble using it. I can get maps built, but it is never easy or intuitive and often leaves me frustrated. This is certainly in part due to user incompetence. The tools are robust and well designed, I just never seem to be able to get what I want out of them when making maps on a large scale. I have periodically used them to make scenario maps and hideouts and that sort of thing, but I tried making The Known World so I could throw a nice clean rendition of it into the campaign book, but I couldn't make it precisely the way I wanted to. I think part of the problem is that I don't understand layers or really how to manipulate the tools properly to make them work. I dunno, I just could not take my hand drawn map and make it look like I thought it should with Campaign Cartographer. I suppose I should really put more effort into the idea. I've established that I can't get what I want because I don't know what I am doing, so I should just try harder I guess. I dunno. Maybe someday I'll get all ambitious again and do so.

Back to the topic at hand.

When I first started the Orcunraytrel campaign I came up with some guidelines for the expansion of the expedition. Just some broad ideas about when certain things would happen. When certain goods would become available, when a town gets built, when the city gets a wall, when it gets better guards and so on. It was based on the bounty money paid out, which kind of acted as a gauge of how the faction's interests were being furthered. I tabulated the player's bounty rewards and because they are the stars of the show, I took a small percentage of their bounties and added that to the total again to account for other groups doing other bounties. It had no playtesting or balance or anything beyond rough guestimates to it and I changed the amount of rewards from bounties that elicit a change or improvement several times.

Looking at the Kingmaker stuff, with all of its maps and guidelines for kingdom creation and expansion, I find it satisfying my map urges and my simulation urges. It breaks cities down into districts of nine blocks each with a handy little grid thing with roads breaking up the blocks, and then you put handy little pictures in the blocks to show what is there. This builds the map of the city and allows you to have a scenario scene right there in your city without having to randomly assign stuff to Ye Olde Street of Tannery. It is already built.

I think what I might start doing is managing New Haven and Kusseth with the Kingmaker stuff, rather than my little goofy system I came up with on my own. It offers more structure to their expansion and doesn't rely on the PCs. I always say the world doesn't sit around waiting for the PCs to interact with it, it moves and grows and changes even if they do decide to spend a month in a dark hole in the ground, so maybe separating the advancement of the colonies from the players is the appropriate thing to do. Bounties and affiliations would still exist, but the pirates and Kusseth wouldn't need the players to fill them before they could do stuff like train better guards or put a cannon on the wall.

I think what I might do is use the Kingmaker stuff and just start running a simulation of their expansion based on how long they've been in Orcunraytrel (four years at this point in the campaign, with the players joining the expedition about six or seven months ago) and kind of make all the checks and watch the town progress. This would also give me a chance to come up with a clearer idea of who exactly is in charge, as there are all kinds of roles that need to be filled in the government, and having names associated with that kind of thing helps to make the place more legit, instead of saying "You guys go see official number 9." you have a name and race associated with the guy. 

The actions of the players still have their impact, for instance a recent email chain will now open up sorcerer's guild type options in the expedition, which is nice because they can now get spellcasting services and Eric can do things like by scrolls and that sort of thing. It will also allow them to grab magic items (within reason and as they are available) if they desire to. It also eliminates the need to go through the black market for stuff, which they haven't done, but still. 

On a side note, a mile in Minecraft is about 1600 blocks, it takes a long time to lay out that many blocks to form a grid around a tower. Especially when you have to use TNT to blow up intervening terrain. Sigh.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Clerical Chicanery

Clerics are a weird fucking class. I am very much of the Forgotten Realms school of thought that there are lots of gods of varying power that rely on their followers to pray and sustain that power. More followers means a god is more powerful so gods of stuff like death or magic tend to be more powerful than gods of fish. I am also of the school of thought that gods can steal portfolios from one another (Cyric stole something from someone and Finder stole rot and ruin from Moander). I am also of the school of thought, once again based on Forgotten Realms, that Clerics have a direct line of communication to their gods, so Cure Light Wounds goes a little something like this, "Hey Kelemvor, got a buddy bleeding out here, mind of I snag a little bit of your juice to keep him from leaving this world prematurely?" This implies that Clerics can't willy nilly do whatever the fuck they want with whatever spell they want.

So to continue, Clerics are a weird class. Most of the stuff I'll yammer about in this post also applies to my thoughts on classes like Paladin as well.

One of the oddities is that a Cleric is granted a greater amount of, and more powerful, spells without necessarily furthering the cause of their deity in any way. For instance, a Cleric of a deity of healing or health or life or something along those lines could kill thousands of not necessarily monstrous creatures to gain experience points and still end up as a 10th level Cleric without healing or promoting good health in anyone but his buddies, who might be of opposed alignment or pay homage to another deity. You can be the worst, most laziest Cleric of your deity and never give sermons or attempt to convert more to their cause or enact their will in the world, and still end up as the most powerful Cleric in your particular sect. This is a case of the abstract nature of the game, Clerics have to be balanced with other classes so they need to be able to level and grow in power without having a whole subsystem of advancement separate from every other class in the game. It still doesn't make any fucking sense. Granted, this flaw in the system can be fixed by good role-playing on the part of the player. Wait, scratch that, this flaw can be remedied by the most basic, lackluster, minimal amount of role-playing by the player. Some of this could be remedied by the GM taking a stronger hand in things as well such as the deity ordering the Cleric to undertake a quest or a superior in the church ordering the Cleric to undertake some sermons or conversions.

Clerical spell scrolls make no sense whatsoever. Clerics gain their spells and divine abilities due to their connection to their deity, a deep personal relationship that grants them the ability to wield a portion of that deity's power. But apparently you can just write that on a piece of paper for anyone with a few ranks Use Magic Device to use, or any other Cleric that is able to cast the spell. So you have Cyric and Kelemvor from Faerun. Two gods that despise each other, even when they were mortals and helping Midnight manage the fragments of the goddess of magic that eventually made her Mystra. As the god of lies Cyric used subterfuge to destroy the love Kelemvor and Mystra had for each other from their days as mortals. It made them better gods in the long run, but it destroyed their love for one another. So Kelemvor and Cyric pretty much hate each other. Ye Olde Priest of Cyric writes down bless so he can use it later when he does something evil. Well, the good guys beat him down and Kelemvor's Cleric picks up that scroll with bless on it and just goes ahead and uses it. Nevermind that it is a piece of Cyric's divine might and that he is crazypants Chaotic Evil and most Clerics of Kelemvor are Lawful Good or Neutral. The fact that it is written down as a blasphemous prayer of nastiness to Cyric and not Kelemvor obviously isn't an issue either. A scroll is a scroll, right? Look, perhaps you can write down a prayer that calls on your personal relationship with your divine patron so you can save that power for later. That isn't such a big deal in a world where gods exist as more than imaginary sky daddies and can actually have an impact on the world they exist in. Even if I buy that these prayers can be written down, I don't buy that anyone but a follower of that deity could use them, as they are prayers to that deity and a individual with an alignment opposed to the deity or that follows a different deity should under no circumstances be able to use them. These scrolls are prayers beseeching the deity for a piece of their power, not formulas for unlocking an unthinking external force like arcane magic. 

I also don't buy that you can gain divine power by praying to an abstract concept. If you want magic and don't want to be part of a church, be a Wizard and put on some mithril armor or pick a Chaotic deity that isn't a fan of organization.

In the same vein as above, items like weapons and armor created using divine magic shouldn't be usable by followers of other deities and should have the same alignment requirements of the Clerics devoted to the deity. If you make a magic weapon using spells granted to you by your prayers to a good deity, that weapon should register as good and evil dudes can't get it to work right. Going back to Kelmevor and Cyric, would Kelemvor really let a sneaky little bastard of a Cleric serving Cyric pick up a sword made using his (Kelemvor's) divine power slip the blade into a Cleric of Kelemvor's back? By the rules of the game, it is totally feasible. One of the defining features of the gods in the core mythologies of systems like 3.5 and Pathfinder is that they have an interest in the physical world outside of their godly realms, so followers slaughtering other followers of other gods is something that would interest them. Now if you have a fairly harsh and unforgiving deity like Vaprak or Bane or something, chances are he'd snicker at your weakness for letting an enemy get your weapon from you and kill you with it, but that really depends on the mentality of your deity. When Elminster got dragged down into The Nine Hells, Mystra dived right on in after him until Asmodeus kindly reminded her that the 9th, and all of the Hells, was his shithole and he was the biggest deity here. To be fair, Elminster was just a Chosen, not a Cleric and he had a romantic relationship with the previous goddess of magic. I just don't buy that an evil character could pick up a divinely created object of a good deity and wield it to do evil deeds. If a god can pick out their followers across the plane, couldn't they do the same with objects created with their power?

One final thing is mind control. With dominate person, you can command a target to do anything that is within its abilities to do if you have a common language. If you manage to dominate a Cleric, that means you can force them to beseech their deity for spells. You can command them to use cure spells on you, or harm spells on your behalf or pretty much anything. You can even have them tell you exactly what spells they have prayed for that day and what they do. So Clerics pray to their deity for power, they communicate on some level with a divine power to gain spells, so on some level the deity and the Cleric are connected to each other at the head. Wouldn't a deity just be like, nope, you can't do that? Or at the very least, not allow a Cleric with a suborned will to cast spells? Especially considering that the controller might be a Cleric of an enemy faith or of an alignment opposed to the deity, or just be controlling the Cleric to malign the name of the Cleric's deity. 

I dunno, I hate Clerics and divine classes and I think they're stupid and these are some weird aspects of the class. 

Friday, November 2, 2012


So, monsters. Outside of a few varieties, The Known World doesn't have any. It is a pretty well conquered and explored continent, but after 10,000 years or so of habitation something somewhere should have gone right for the races of the continent. In the first chunk of the Vanden role-playing emails, Vanden kind of goes into a rant about monsters and why the fuck should we be afraid of them? He brings up sorcery and Fell Humans as a prime example.

The Known World is a weird place full of weird races. Magic is unreliable and prone to mishaps that cause all kinds of disasters, I keep saying this, but I feel like people don't get it. I'm not sure why. I guess because Eric keeps playing spellcasters and because I don't give them magic items that explode in their faces. Oh well. Maybe I should increase the unreliability of spells in The Known World.

So we have the Soulless, Fallen, and Fell Humans. Three of the weirder more monstrous races. They're not weird like orcs are weird in comparison to humans, they're weird monstrous weird. The Fallen are a race of sentient zombies, liches, and vampires. They are actual monster monsters. The Soulless are basically undead golems covered in jagged blades and spikes of rusty, bloodstained metal. Fell Humans are a race of creatures that can litterally have blood made of fire or acid.

Toning it down a notch, we have the Children of Volung, the Vyanth, and the Sereth. The Children are a race of anger and bloodshed, they are living violence. Living rage. Their ribs are basically a slab of bone plates and they have shark eyes. The Vyanth and Sereth are just fucking weird looking, everything about them is almost kind of normal and human, but not. On the weirder side of this lower notch, the Dwenoren have no eyes and have moist skin the color of a grub. They also "see" with their beards. Meanwhile, the Eldumans are made of crystal (and descended from psionic crystal pine trees).

All these bizarre races live on a continent where sorcery just does stuff that it shouldn't. A place where using sorcery can leave you with a tail or extra eyes or weird bendy arms. A place where cities can be grown out of living obsidian that grows but never grows in a way that indicates the city was meant for humanoid habitation with all the angles and doorways slightly off or uncomfortably sized. A place where people have to fear packs of wolves and flocks of carnivorous birds that are literally joined at the hip to one another.

What I am saying is that The Known World is a fucked up place. What I am saying is that the appropriate response to creatures of living fire and empires of undead living a few miles underground where light doesn't work right should be "Oh, how quaint." and then you kill the fuck out of them with guns.

I also feel like Lance as Eran has misjudged the fellow citizens of his country. Yes. Pirates of Haven are pirates. They're loud and love grog and whoring and gambling. They have the appearance of the cliche. Now, Haven was founded roughly fifteen years ago, not by thieves and robbers, but by veterans of The Old Empire's navy. Basically, a fleet of immortal Psion/Monks decided they were sick of taking orders from a bunch of guys living in crystal towers in a crystal desert and decided that they wanted to engage in more profitable excursions that didn't involve sitting in a crystal desert thinking for eternity. Seven of the nine captains of the armada that deserted still rule the country of Haven. In my opinion, it would be foolish to assume that these captains just let the forces under their command, whether Elduman or not, do whatever they want whenever they want and basically act like clumsy drunken buffoons when raiding. It has been my experience with the few military friends I have that leave time discipline (or the EXTREME lack thereof) is not a strong indicator of on duty discipline. I have designed the nation of Haven with this theory strongly in my mind. 

I dunno, it just strikes me as funny I guess. Last campaign, they fought a giant shadow monster that wants to eat all life on the planet and found out they were clones of their characters from the previous campaign and their real PCs were now horribly broken mutant things trapped in agony in glass tanks being experimented on to build a clone army. The campaign before that, they went underground and fought a mutant dragon without blinking. This campaign though, skeletons?! Demons?! What the fuck are we going to do?! 

Maybe I'm just jaded.