Friday, June 28, 2013

God's Eye View of Hekinoe Part 5

A howl splits the perpetual twilight of the dark forest like thunder. The pack moves as one, seeking their alpha, each of them distressed. The white ones with the breath of winter lope alongside their cousins, the black ones with the breath of fire, their feuding forgotten in their distress. The huge black beasts, the largest of the large and most strongly linked to the alpha, whine in their throats while their younger cousins speak among themselves of their concerns in the language only they can speak aloud. The pack comes upon the alpha as he sits in his den of bones and rotting meat, howling as if to herald the end of the world. His massive might cows even the largest of the pack, but there is something within him no pack member has sensed before, weakness.

The elderly man looks up from his table, books of arcane diagrams and formula scattered around him. He cocks his head to the side and raises a grey eyebrow of unruly hair. He grasps his staff, etched with arcane runes, and strides from the room, moving to a window on the side of the building. Looking down into the city, he sees the long line of wizards dispersing and he laughs. Great, heaving, side splitting guffaws hunch him over as he grasps his sides. Tears of joy spill down his cheeks to run through his grey beard. The smile that splits the beard is one of complete elation.

The Asosan pauses in his field, hoe stuck in the rough earth, and looks to his father and mother as they polish his great red suit of plate. He raises a hand to his forehead as he gazes at the sky, shielding his eyes. Confusion swims in his eyes as he leaves the hoe where it is and dons the armor. He stretches and shifts his body around for a few moments, as if unaccustomed to the weight of the armor, then kisses his mother's cheek and begins his walk towards the capital, his great shield emblazoned with a tower strapped to his back  and his huge blade resting in its scabbard over one shoulder.

Hidden away in the swamps of Mawknell a bearded old man rocks in his chair on the porch of a run down cabin, giggling quietly to himself as he carves apart an apple with a knife. Two ancient and decrepit cats harass each other at his feet while their tails draw ever closer to the legs of the rocking chair. Something huge shifts in the swamp muck nearby and the old man scowls at the noise and brings his shotgun closer before returning to eating his apple and chuckling to himself.

Deep beneath the earth, the god-king and his son pause in their battle, peering around in the lightless abyss of the Underhel. The magical runes upon their axes are dimmer, and their movements slower, their blows suddenly less earth shattering. Father and son meet each other's gaze and the son shrugs and turns away from the battle to return to his kingdom of the dead. The god-king scratches at his bald pate and shoulders his mighty axe and begins his ascent to the surface to return to his kingdom. 

The Goebleen bolts upright upon his throne, his ears straight as arrows. He looks around the chamber, catching his brother's eyes and gesturing with his own at the shadows in the corners or the room. The brother picks up on it immediately and begins muttering beneath his breath while he clutches his black staff. The enthroned Goebleen watches carefully, but finally is rewarded. The darkness of the room pulses, as something slithers across the ground towards the throne and takes its place nearby. The Goebleen smiles with delight as bands of twisting shadowstuff wind their way around his fingers. His shadow has returned to him, and he is once more complete. More importantly, it means he is no longer bound to remove himself from the battlefield when his longtime foe appears. 

The creature shifts its bulk in the darkness of the cavern. Morlocks kneel before it, praying and bowing and screeching cries of its glory. Its glory is dubious. It looks like a pale, morbidly obese scorpion devoid of an exoskeleton. It's pincers smack wetly against one another, full of molars instead of sharp edged chitin. It's tail swishes in the air, clacking its teeth together around the eye within the venemous mouth. It stamps its eight legs against the ground, each leg ends in a pale foot full of wiggling toes.  The creature stirs to full wakefulness and shrieks like a dying horse and kills a dozen of its worshipers before settling its pale, moist body to the ground once more. 

Ten Greycoats camp in a stretch of forest in the middle of an endless expanse of rocky hills. They stumbled upon it just as they needed to make camp for the night after an exhausting march. The grass is soft and green, the pond clear and refreshing. It invigorated them and not one of them had slept so soundly in years. Their sentry carves pieces of soap into little figurines as he keeps watch, humming quietly to himself. The branches above his head rustle, but he pays it no mind, unaware of the vine easing down out of the tree above his head that suddenly winds itself around his throat and crushes the cartilage there to paste. The vine eases the body to the ground and moves from one Greycoat to another, crushing the life out of them in nearly complete silence. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Moar Minecraft

So I started playing Minecraft again. A friend from work decided to get a server so we could do multiplayer. So myself and a few work friends and a few of their friends are fucking around on a multiplayer server building insane shit. I haven't played Minecraft in quite a while, so I was like five or six updates behind and they've added a few interesting mechanisms and features and such. I'm pretty excited to play again. I've never played on a multiplayer server before though, and it is a survival mode server. So there are monsters that spawn and you have to worry about hunger and health in addition to the monsters ruining things for you. Plus, other players can trash your buildings or steal your shit. For instance, I logged on before work a few days ago and found the whole side of my stone hut blown apart as if a creeper had exploded next to it. Nothing was stolen or anything, but its still irritating that someone was wandering around and not paying attention and destroyed my stuff.  

Like I said, I've no experience with multiplayer servers and the guy running the thing, Kyle, is basically a narcissistic sociopath. So yeah, there's that. Anyway, I've played survival mode for hours and hours and constructed fantastic things like underwater fortresses of glass, glass mountains with small castles inside them, etc etc etc. I much prefer creative mode and just flying around and building whatever the fuck I want without having to worry about death or an exploding creeper leveling my building. Plus, other players can just open your chests of shit and steal all your valuables. 

I'm really paranoid about other players, I have issues with paranoia. Kyle has said this is a trust server, so he does not have anti-griefing enabled and has no intention of doing so. I assume this means that if a player places something, it becomes indestructible to other players. 

Anyway. I've never played on a multiplayer server, so I had no idea what to expect. I expected it to be a lot like WoW with players killing and looting each other and just wandering into buildings stealing stuff. That hasn't happened, aside from my partner Ryan, who is a noob, stealing a bunch of higher end shit and promptly starved to death and lost it all. Talking with Kyle, I've learned there are these things called plugins you can install to modify the game. So we can enter a command and teleport back to where we died and pick our shit up off the ground. Which is handy. He also installed a plugin that ties your chests and smelters and doors to you when you place a sign on them and no one else can open them and it makes them invulnerable so an exploding creeper can't blow up next to it and destroy all your shit. Other players can destroy the sign that ties you to the chest or door, but that pings the admins with who is breaking what chest. There's also this plugin he installed where you fight waves of mobs after choosing a class (just determines what gear you start the fight with, nothing else) and gain rewards based on how many waves you survive. It's kinda fun.

So I've been playing around and digging and generally just fucking around and I've come up with a building project I want to work on. It's kind of involved and time consuming, but it isn't something I've done before and building it in survival mode presents some challenges. So it should be pretty rewarding to finally get the thing. 

The project is a flying castle over a lake with a moat around it that looks like it has been ripped up out of the middle of a lake. So there will be this big lake with a castle above it and a bunch of water streaming off of the castle down into the lake below. Should look kind of cool, hopefully. My goal is to also surround it with aerial islands with like crops and farm animals and that sort of thing on them, all kind of interconnected by wooden walkways and that sort of thing. I'd like to kind of scatter dirt chunks in the air around the islands as well to kind of like debris that fell off of the island as it was raised and that sort of thing. If I can end up building it in a non-boring, somewhat decorative way, it should end up looking fairly neat. If I make any progress on it, I'll of course post pictures and that sort of thing. 

I'd also like to create a sort of involved way of accessing the place. No, with the essentials plugins, we can set warp points that you can warp to, so all I really need is a warp point command like /warp clintscastle. Boom. However, I don't want people I don't know swarming all over this place doing whatever they want, because it's kind of my base. So what I'm going to do is set up like a little ground level fort inside of it with a portal to the nether. The nether is a lightless place full of lava and powerful bad guys. Dangerous as fuck. However, every step you travel in the nether is equivalent to eight steps in the surface world. So what I want to do is build another portal to the nether in my castle and then connect the two portals via a tunnel (probably of obsidian, maybe) so there is a sort of neat little way of accessing my castle from the ground. Additionally, I'd probably set up locking mechanisms around my castle entrance, like build something like a Stargate iris around the nether portal using pistons and such so it is secure and people can't surprise me through it. 

That's another thing I'd like to play with, traps and mechanisms. I've got an idea for something like a portcullis trap that locks someone in place and then unloads arrows on them. I've also got an idea for trapping a tunnel where you pull a lever and four dispensers pop out of the walls and block off a tunnel and fire arrows down it. Dispensers are tricky though, I think they need a charge every time they fire, so you can't just give them power and have them fire until they hit empty. 

I dunno, like I said, I'm having fun getting back into Minecraft. As stuff develops, I'll post more and probably add some pictures once everything is completed. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Moar "Steampunk"

Alright, so I have to be honest here. Talking about steampunk really started to get the juices flowing and I started to peruse some magic items and stuff and I may have taken a look through some of my GURPS Steampunk and Steamtech books and such before writing this post. I haven't really copied anything from the GURPS books, but they have given some ideas regarding flavor. I have no desire to add Martian peroxide pistols to my game or add in androids. I've already got clockwork cybernetics and analytical engines and such. I've also got trains and airships and ironclad ships propelled by screws and such. So, with no more delay, here's some more "steampunk" gear from my campaign world.

Name: Atmospheric Filtration Mask
Price: 3,000 marks
Description: This device is essentially a thick leather hood filled with padding and sealed with rubber. There are two thick lenses in the front of the mask and a large filter and heavy duty rubber hose coming from the mouth portion of the mask. The neck portion of the hood is designed to seal around the neck of the wearer and is fitted with thick padding to ensure a tight fit. Please do not operate the atmospheric filtration mask while under the effects of mind altering substances to avoid accidental strangulation. The manufacturer is in no way responsible for death or injury that results from ignoring this warning. 
Effect: Using cleverly designed filters built into the mask, the atmospheric filtration mask is able to filter out harmful airborne toxins and chemicals, making the wearer immune to harmful vapors, gases, and inhaled poisons. 
Drawback: Because of the thickness of the leather hood and the thick lenses, the wearer gains a -1 penalty on vision and hearing based Perception checks. Additionally, the rubber seals and filters of the mask are extremely vulnerable to warping due to heat damage and shrinking and expansion due to temperature changes. Any time the wearer fails a saving throw vs. a damage dealing cold or fire effect, the mask gains the broken condition and will no longer function until repaired. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Leatherworking)/20.
Magic Version: Necklace of Adaptation.

Name: Aural Discomforter
Price: 13,250 marks
Description: This large tuba-like device of shining brass and a dizzying array of keys and tubes that channel sound requires two hands to hold its hefty, and awkward, 20 lb. weight. When blown, it creates a very discomforting and distressing noise, despite sounding similar to traditional horns. This cruel instrument was created by the Bardic Colleges of Kusseth in an attempt to find what they refer to as the elusive "brown note" and for all intents and purposes, they seem to have achieved that which they sought.
Effect: When played with a standard action, the aural discomforter emits a 90 ft. cone of noise and vibration. The vibration causes great distress to living creatures that possess functioning gastrointestinal tracts, and they must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or suffer the nauseated condition for 1d4 rounds.  It should be noted that despite its malicious purpose, the aural discomforter can be utilized as a normal horn with the Performance (Wind Instrument) skill. The brown note use of this device cannot be combined with traditional musical use or the performance abilities of a Bard, or similar abilities. 
Drawback: If the GM determines that a nearby surface or area would reflect or cause the sound of the aural discomforter to echo, it affects the blower as well as anyone behind him as the GM deems appropriate. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Musical Instrument)/25.
Magic Version: None.

Name: Barron Vibratory Second Story Assistant
Price: 160 marks
Description: This hollow cylinder is a marvel of aural technology and the locksmith's art. Using a series of  tuning knobs and a small clapper attached to the cylinder, the device can emit a tone inaudible to normal ears, but capable of vibrating the fine mechanisms of a lock.  
Effect: When the clapper is struck against the cylinder, a inaudible tone is emitted from the assistant  that causes a vibration that provides a +6 circumstance bonus on Disable Device checks made to open locks, but not bolts or bars or any other sort of locking mechanism, determining what constitutes a "lock" is up to the GM. 
Drawback: Any roll of a natural one while attempting to open a lock results in a wildly inappropriate tone and vibration, which jams the lock and makes further mundane opening techniques with Disable Device impossible. Additionally, while the tones of the device are inaudible to most humanoids and animals, it is strikingly attractive to night fowl (and provides a +6 circumstance bonus on Handle Animal checks with all breeds of night fowl) and may potentially draw a flock of them to the user of the device while in the midst of lock repair. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Locksmithing) or Craft (Musical Instrument)/20
Magic Version: Chime of Opening.

Name: Brasscoat Heavy Assault Lightning Driven Armor
Price: Not available for legal sale anywhere, but theoretically 98,550 marks. 
Description: This massive suit of armor is the epitome of modern armorsmithing. Essentially a suit of wolf-iron full plate fitted with a system of actuators and electrical cabling, not only does this suit provide the pinnacle of physical protection in combat, it also enhances the wearer's strength, is reliably resilient in the face of firearms, and is capable of utilizing the steam turbine engine on its back to fire bolts of lightning at range. This suit of armor is used exclusively by Kusseth's Brasscoats, and they cover the dull gray color of the wolf-iron armor with highly polished brass plating. It is from this titan of personal protection that the Brasscoats take their name. 
Armor/Shield Bonus: +14
Maximum Dexterity Bonus: +1
Armor Check Penalty: -6 (-12)
Spell Failure Chance: 40%
Type: Advanced Heavy
Speed (30 ft./20 ft.): 20 ft./15 ft.
Weight: 100 lbs.
Special Qualities/Upgrades: Custom fit, flawless quality, masterwork, wolf-iron.
Effect: While the suit is powered with its steam turbine in full operation, the wearer gains a +6 enhancement bonus to Strength, ignores the armor check penalty of the suit (except on Stealth checks, see below), and does not factor the suit's weight into encumbrance calculations. Additionally, whether powered or unpowered, because of the armor's thickness, high quality of manufacture, and primary composition of wolf-iron and more wolf-iron, firearms do not resolve their attacks as touch attacks against characters wearing this armor and characters wearing the armor have damage reduction 3/-. In the same vein, the thickness and high quality of the armor offer a 50% chance to convert sneak attacks (and similar abilities) and critical hits into normal strikes against the wearer. Because of the electrical current and special grounding rods built into the vambraces of the armor, a wearer may elect to power down his suit for one round and fire a bolt of lightning as a full round action. The suit becomes unpowered till the start of the wearer's next turn. The lightning bolt deals 5d6 electrical damage to anything in its path in a 120 ft. line with a DC 15 Reflex save for half damage. 
Drawback: While powered, the suit doubles its armor check penalty in regards to Stealth checks and the wearer and all characters within 60 ft. of the wearer suffer a -4 penalty to hearing based Perception checks. If the armor gains the broken condition, it becomes unpowered until repaired. It takes 5 minutes to don or remove this armor and an additional 2 minutes to get the turbine running enough to power the armor.
Craft Skill/DC:  Craft (Armorsmithing) or Craft (Electrical)/30.
Magic Version: +5 wolf-iron full plate with custom fit and masterwork upgrades and moderate fortification ability, Belt of Giant Strength +6, Wand of Lightning Bolt

Name: Fall Defense Linens
Price: 1,475 marks
Description: This 25 (?) pound backpack and harness consists of tightly packed and folded silk (despite the device's name) attached via heavy rope to the backpack it is packed in. When falling, whether intentionally or otherwise, a specific cord is pulled to release the silk to arrest the descent. 
Effect: When the cord is pulled as a swift action, the silk within the backpack deploys as a large shroud and slows the fall of a character to 60 ft. per round. When calculating damage from the fall, calculate it as if the character fell or jumped from a height of 60 ft., rather than the actual height he jumped or fell from. Additionally, a successful DC 15 Acrobatics check converts the first 2d6 of fall damage to nonlethal damage instead of only the first 1d6. (So to calculate damage, the fall damage should be 6d6 lethal damage. If the character makes a DC 15 Acrobatics check, it converts 2d6 to nonlethal, if he jumped and didn't fall, another 1d6 is nonlethal, and if he lands on a yielding surface, this converts another 1d6 to nonlethal damage. This makes for 4d6 nonlethal damage and 2d6 lethal damage and on average dealing a total of 7 points of actual hit point damage with an average of 14 nonlethal damage sitting there until resolved instead of taking an average of 21 lethal damage.)
Drawback: None, because that'd be just mean. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Weaving)/18.
Magic Version: Ring of Feather Falling

Name: KMT RDHSR Mark 1
Price: 20,000 marks
Description: This bulky revolver constructed by Kussethian Military Technologies has a larger cylinder and larger caliber ammunition than other KMT firearms. The firearm's cylinder and barrel are built onto grooves in the frame, allowing it to recoil back and use the weapon's own force in a marvelous fashion to cock the hammer back between shots, allowing for a much more rapid rate of fire than traditional methods, such as fanning the hammer or using one's thumb. 
Damage: 1d8
Critical: 20/x4
Range: 30 ft.
Misfire: 1-2
Capacity: 8
Weight: 3 lbs.
Type: B and P
Special Qualities/Upgrades: Advanced, masterwork.
Effect: Any time the character makes a full attack action using the KMT RDHSR Mark 1, he may make an additional attack with it. This attack uses the character's full base attack bonus and any appropriate modifiers. 
Drawback: Due to its excessive number of moving components, when it gains the broken condition it becomes completely inoperable. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Gunsmithing)/25.
Magic Version: A large revolver with the speed weapon ability.

Name: Mechanized Strength Assist Armor
Price: 4100 marks
Description: This suit of thick leather armor is fitted with a series of metal actuators and braces that enclose most of the wearer's body and enhance his physical strength. The armor is fed power and pressure by means of a (relatively) small steam engine built into the back of the suit.
Armor/Shield Bonus: +3
Max Dex Bonus: +1
Armor Check Penalty: -4 (-8)
Spell Failure Chance: 35%
Type: Advanced Medium
Speed (30 ft./20 ft.): 20 ft./15 ft.
Weight: 75 lbs.
Special Qualities/Upgrades: Custom fit, masterwork.
Effect: While the suit is powered with its steam engine in full operation, the wearer gains a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength, ignores the armor check penalty of the suit (except on Stealth checks, see below), and does not factor the suit's weight into encumbrance calculations. 
Drawback: While powered, the suit doubles its armor check penalty in regards to Stealth checks and the wearer and all characters within 60 ft. of the wearer suffer a -4 penalty to hearing based Perception checks. If the armor gains the broken condition, it becomes unpowered until repaired. It takes 5 minutes to don or remove this armor and an additional 1 minute to get the steam engine running enough to power the armor. 
Craft Skill/DC:  Craft (Armorsmithing)/25.
Magic Version: Studded leather armor with the masterwork and custom fit upgrades and a Belt of Giant Strength +2.

Name: Reverse Spectrum Goggles
Price: 8,000 marks
Description: These goggles seal tightly to the face of the wearer via a leather cinch and possess thick lenses of dark crystal. The crystal is treated with special chemical baths that allow it to reverse the spectrum of light in the area while worn. 
Effect: While wearing the goggles, the wearer gains 60 foot darkvision. 
Drawback: While wearing the goggles, the wearer has the light sensitivity trait (dazzled in areas of bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell). 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Lensmaking) or Craft (Glassmaking)/25.
Magic Version: Goggles of Night.

Name: Spring Assisted Athletic Boots
Price: 1750 marks
Description: These boots possess an extra thick rubber sole of several inches and a fine leather exterior and extend up to mid calf on most humanoids. The thick sole is hollow, and within it is a series of springs of tightly coiled springsteel, enabling the wearer to leap with significantly greater ability when the spring system is activated. 
Effect: When the spring system in the soles of the boots are activated as a standard action via a button concealed in the rear of each heel, the wearer of the boots gains a +5 competence bonus on Acrobatics checks made to jump.
Drawback: Unfortunately, the ungainly size of the boot soles makes walking  and non-jumping feats of agility more difficult, and imparts a -1 to all Acrobatics skill checks, including jumping. The penalty to jumping does not apply when the boots are activated. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Blacksmithing) or Craft (Cordwaining)/20.
Magic Version: Boots of Striding and Springing.

Name:  Steam Driven Velocipede
Medium Land Vehicle
Squares: 1
Price: 5,000 marks
AC: 10
Hardness: 10
HP: 20 (8)
Base Save: +0
Maximum Speed: 200 ft.
Acceleration: 40 ft.
CMB: +0
CMD: 10
Ramming Damage: 1d6
Description: This marvelous two-wheeled contraption developed by the Kussethian engineering firm of Sylvesterenel and Rowe'per consists of a heavy duty iron bicycle frame with larger than normal tires and an enhanced braking system. Instead of a muscle powered chain to perform locomotive functions, the device features a single cylinder steam engine capable of propelling the vehicle at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (on a relatively stable and straight surface).
Propulsion: Alchemical (steam)
Driving Check: Craft (Alchemy) or Profession (Driver).
Forward Face: Front end.
Driving Device: Handlebars (equivalent of a steering wheel).
Driving Space: The square of the vehicle.
Decks:  None.

Hehe, aural discomforter. Also, the steam driven velocipede is a real thing. For serious

Monday, June 17, 2013


At one time The Known World was a steampunk campaign. Primarily because I like impossible retro tech and monocles and am fascinated by Nikola Tesla and his zany ideas fore wireless energy, death rays, and earthquake machines. It isn't really, nor was it ever, steampunk. It completely lacked the punk element. The players were never ostracized fringe elements rebelling against the establishment in The Rebellion Arc. They were thugs and killers that helped to put an establishment into power and stuff. Anyway, I still use the word steampunk, but it is kind of a catch all term for impossible technology and my upgrade system. Basically it is The Known World's non-magical magic loot. People gripe about not getting magic loot and feeling like they don't have enough cash. But what can I do? Magic explodes, and street toughs don't carry 5000 marks and the keys to a steam lorry on them. Find a way around it. No one has ever said, "Clint, we've got cash but no loot. Can we ride to Port Brass and load up on gadgetry?" Port Brass is the most modern city in Kusseth, and I've said so before. It is where all of the steampunk is. It is where you can buy or steal the majority of the steampunk. Nope, it's always "We don't have any magic loot and are underpowered, it's not fair." with no opinion on what they want to do or where they want to go.

The steampunk substitute system replaces magic items and is far more readily available than magic loot is in a regular campaign. You can electrify weapons and gain energy resistance bonuses to armor and give anything you want the keen property and make your armor have a higher armor bonus and your weapons have an enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls. It all just uses different names and has a lower cost than magic stuff. To buy a fiery sword in Pathfinder costs like 8300 gold. To buy a fiery sword in The Known World costs 2000 marks. To buy a +5 magic revolver costs 50300 gold in Pathfinder. In The Known World it costs 15150 marks. Ridiculously cheap in comparison, no?

That cost reduction comes with a price though. Steampunk gear isn't magic, so it doesn't penetrate damage reduction and it is less durable than magic items. Upgrades that would make a weapon weigh more, do. Some stuff also has a drawback or risk when used. For instance, the steampunk version of the shocking burst property (18300 gp/6000 mks) has a chance of zapping you while you wield it, but only on a critical failure on an attack roll. It's not any more realistic than just saying magic did it, but saying you have a non-ferrous reverse polarity magnetic field generator on is a lot more fun than saying your shield gives you the Deflect Arrows feat because, magic. Not that the generator just gives you a feat, it does more than that. 

Most "steampunk" gear, like the savage blade or the gyromagnaccelerated needle pistol or the KMT RDHSR Mk I requires an exotic proficiency to use or wear, unless its just basically a weird hat like the phrennoaccelerometer. Back when we played in The Known World with 4th Edition rules, there was also a strong tincture and snake oil salesman wonder powders and serums and such element to the steampunk nature, for instance: Johnson's Cherry Flavored Epinephrine Shot and Johnson's Equally Flavorful Numbing Opiate Candies. One granted a speed and initiative bonus, the other gave you extra hit points like a Barbarian gets when they rage (i.e. they go away when the effect ends, potentially putting you down). No one ever actually snagged any of the stuff though, so I stopped wasting space in scenarios with the inventories stores that sold that stuff. Guys, I even composed fanciful descriptions for these goods, as if I were selling them out of a wagon and such. There was effort put forth and you pooped all over it.  Wounded! Wounded I am! Anyway, there is no Craft (Steampunk) skill. Craft skills already exist for everything. Is it a weapon? Use Craft (Weaponsmithing). Is it a chemical or powder? Use Craft (Alchemy). Only difference is that "steampunk" stuff generally has a higher DC than normal gear you'd make with the skill. Exotic melee weapons have a Craft DC of 18, crafting a savage blade (chainsword), has a DC of 20 and is more expensive than a bastard sword. 

So this "technology" is more common, yes. That doesn't mean it is in every general store. Most of it is expensive to make and maintain, so it sits in big main cities in some workshop with some crazy mechanically inclined guy cooing over it and polishing its various brass components. It's still somewhat restricted, as you have to kind of be in the right area, but most cities in Kusseth have industrial areas where these kind of workshops exist. Port Brass is a dogdamn hive of these kinds of places. Don't get me wrong, some of it is pretty restricted. You're not going to find lightning driven armor anywhere for sale, at least not legally. But, you know, adventurers have a long history and tradition of killing people they're not supposed to and getting a hold of things they shouldn't. 

So anyway, I'm done yammering about "steampunk" in my campaign world. Instead, I'm going to list some steampunk stuff I've come up with over the years. Mind you, this isn't normal stuff like analytical engines, trains, or stuff like that, this is the weird and neat stuff. Ok, fine, analytical engines aren't normal, but they existed. One did. Part of it. Fucking Babbage

Name: Johnson's Alchemical Restorative
Price: 80 marks.
Description: This brilliantly green colored serum is derived from certain herbal extracts of The Beast Lands and certain glands found only in the great beasts of that land. Utilizing these chemicals to augment a living patient's constitution allows them to heal rapidly from injury.
Effect: When imbibed as a move action, the serum restores 1d8+5 hit points. 
Drawback: Excessive consumption of this serum has lead to unexpected rapid growth of tissues and bone structure. Each consecutive dose of the serum after the first in a 24 hour period imparts a cumulative 10% chance of the patient increasing their size by one category when the serum is consumed, this confers a -1 to attack rolls, a -1 to AC, a +2 size bonus to Strength, and a -2 size penalty to Dexterity for 1 minutes. This rapid and uncontrolled growth is incredibly painful and taxing on the body and deals 1d4 points of damage to the patient's Constitution score. Anyone wearing medium or heavy armor who suffers from this side effect is dealt an additional 2d8 damage by the suddenly painfully restrictive armor they are wearing. Any armor or clothing worn by the patient gains the broken condition as well. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/25.
Magic Version: Potion of Cure Light Wounds.

Name: Johnson's Cherry Flavored Epinephrine Shot
Price: 250 marks.
Description: When injected into a living creature as a swift action, this chemical compound immediately fills the subject with industrious and useful energy and a puts a veritable pep in their step. Manufacturer's Note: Flavoring only relevant if injected directly into the patient's tongue. Suffice it to say that epinephrine is wholly foul tasting and our flavoring alone makes this chemical a worthy feat of science and industry. 
Effect: Once administered, this chemical grants a +4 circumstance bonus to initiative, a +1 bonus to attack rolls, a +1 dodge bonus to armor class, and a +10 ft. enhancement bonus to movement rates. The effects last for 7 rounds. 
Drawback: Patients sometimes exhibit jitteriness and anxiety while under these effects and take a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. fear effects. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/20.
Magic Version: Potion of Haste.

Name: Johnson's Equally Flavorful Numbing Opiate Candies
Price: 300 marks per tin. Tin contains 8 candies. 
Description: When these delightful cherry flavored hard candies are consumed by living creatures as a swift action, they fill the body with a fuzzy feeling of numbing calm, making the eater more resilient in the face of injury. 
Effect: Each candy grants the eater 1d10+5 hit points. These hit points are not temporary hit points and when the duration of the effect ends, they are subtracted from the current hit point total of the character. The bonus hit points last for 5 minutes. These hit points stack with each other, multiple candies may be consumed with the same swift action. 
Drawback: Opiates have a tendency to make the user sleepy and lethargic, those that consume the candies take a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. sleep effects, as well as the dazed, fatigued, stunned, and staggered conditions. Each candy consumed increases this penalty while it is in effect. If a character consumes more candies than his Constitution modifier, he must make a DC 15 Fortitude save every round to remain conscious. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Alchemy)/20.
Magic Version: Potion of Aid. 

Name: Non-Ferrous Reverse Polarity Field Generator
Price: 6000 marks. 
Description: This armor is actually a suit of padded armor (albeit with a -3 check penalty, rather than zero penalty, and weighing 25 lbs.) that incorporates a backpack festooned with cables and wiring. Sewn into the thick padding are various wires and emitters designed to project a magnetic field that repels non-ferrous metals. It should be noted that no one knows how magnets work. But, suffice it to say that the most brilliant minds of Port Brass are hard at work on the task of figuring it out.
Effect: When activated as a swift action, the marvelous backpack generates an invisible field of magnetism that is able to repel non-ferrous metals. Anyone attempting to strike the wearer with a non-ferrous metal object (whether it be a projectile or melee weapon) finds their momentum arrested by the field. The wearer gains a +8 deflection bonus to armor class from attacks made with non-ferrous metals (such as bronze, copper, lead, wolf-iron, silver, gold, etc). 
Drawback: It takes a significant amount of energy to reverse the polarity of the field, and each successive attack during a round strains the field. Every attack after the first by weapons composed of non-ferrous metals against the wearer reduces the deflection bonus by two points. If the deflection bonus drops to zero, the backpack shorts out temporarily and the polarity of the non-ferrous magnet returns to the normal state and provides a +2 bonus on attack rolls made against the wearer with non-ferrous metals until the backpack is repaired as if it had the broken condition. Removing and donning the suit takes two minutes, but may be expedited into a full round action at the cost of damaging the delicate wiring in the padding and increasing the repair cost by 25%. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical) or (Armorsmithing)/25.
Magic Version: Shield of Arrow Deflection. 

Name: Phrenoaccelerometer
Price: 6750 marks.
Description: This copper band encircles the wearer's head. Once securely in place, a bulky battery pack is attached to the circlet and activated. The interior of the circlet is lined with silver wiring and silver needles that conduct low intensity electrical current directly to the wearer's brain, stimulating mental acuity. 
Effect: Gain a +1 insight bonus on all Intelligence related skill and ability checks, Wisdom related skill and ability checks, and Will saving throws. 
Drawback: If the wearer fails a saving throw that results in taking electrical damage, he gains the stunned condition as the electricity follows the silver wiring directly to his brain and shorts it out temporarily. This condition lasts until the phrenoaccelerometer is removed or turned off.  If he successfully makes a saving throw against such an effect while wearing the phrenoaccelerometer, he gains the dazed condition for one round instead. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical)/25.
Magic Version: Headband of Mental Prowess +2.

Name: Rapid Divestment Carry All
Price: 100 marks
Description: This intriguing device is a backpack covered in numerous pockets for storing items and includes a variety of hooks and loops gear may  be attached to. In addition, it has a half dozen padded straps that encircle the wearer's chest and shoulders and come together towards the middle of a wearer's chest and are attached to a single metal ring. 
Effect: Like a normal backpack, this backpack can hold about 2 cubic feat of material. Due to the excessive amount of straps and padding, the wearer's strength score is treated as +2 higher than normal when calculating carrying capacity. Additionally, the metal ring all of the straps are attached to has a quick release pin built into it that may be pulled as a free action to release all the straps and cause the backpack to fall to the ground, divesting the wearer of the encumbering backpack should the wearer suddenly need to be less encumbered. 
Drawback: None.
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Leatherworking)/15.
Magic Version: None.

Name: Rudo Holt's Sorcerous Destabilizer Field Emitter
Price: 3500 marks
Description: This strange device is about the size of a large chest and is covered with thick cables, strange glass tubes and protrusions of beltanizine and Merotethian obsidian. The device weighs approximately 60 pounds and is exceedingly fragile, a single blow to the object will make it unable to function until repaired. When activated, as a standard action, the device emits a field of sorcerous disruption out to a range of 30 ft. 
Effect: While the field is in effect, all spellcasters within the field must make a caster level check of 15 + the spell's level when casting spells or increase their misfire chance by 2% per spell level. 
Drawback: None.
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Electrical)/25.
Magic Version: None.

Name: Gambler's Hat
Price: 100 marks.
Description: This device typically has the appearance of a bowler, tri-corner, or top hat. Within the hat is a cunningly devised support structure that hold a single shot firearm primed and ready to fire, along with a trigger mechanism the uses a pulley system to allow the pistol to be fired by a switch that may be clasped in the wearer's hand. 
Effect: The firearm within the hat may be loaded with bullets, which deal 1d4 damage, has a 10 ft. range increment, and a 20/x3 critical statistic. Or, it may be loaded with shot, which deals 1d6 damage, has a 10 ft. range increment, a 20/x2 critical statistic, and has the scatter weapon quality and uses a 15' cone when used in that fashion. The device also has a +2 on Sleight of Hand checks to conceal it, +4 if concealed in a top hat. Anyone targeted by the hat that is unaware of its true nature is considered to be flat-footed when initiating the attack. 
Drawback: The device is somewhat inaccurate due to its placement on the head, rather than in the hand, and has a -2 penalty to attack rolls. 
Craft Skill/DC: Craft (Gunsmithing)/20.
Magic Version: None.

Writing this post has given me some ideas, I think I'll have an additional post of steampunk related nonsense for Friday. Perhaps throw in some more weapons and armor while I'm at it. 

Friday, June 14, 2013


I've made no secret of the fact that Kusseth is my favorite country In The Known World, nor do I apologize for it. I like Kusseth, so I tend to pay attention to things related to Kusseth and spend a good portion of my time pondering Kusseth. We all have our favorites. Today I'm going to write about about Kusseth's Wardens. Now, Kusseth has several branches of their military, the most well known are the Blackcoats, Greycoats, Redcoats, and Brasscoats. The Wardens are a part of the military, technically, but they are a "peacekeeping" force stationed in the cities of Kusseth that aren't really part of the military command structure and obey that obey the orders of lords of Kusseth rather the orders generals and such. There are also the Bounty Hunters, but they are basically a licensed collection of thugs that Kusseth hires to do odd jobs like finding those that don't pay fines or taxes, or those that run instead of paying back loans and such. This post is about Wardens though, so we'll talk about that. Most of the following information is just rattling around in my brain, but I'm sure I'll come up with a bit on the fly. It'll be fun. I like Kusseth and its Wardens. 

So what does a warden do? Are there different types of wardens? How are they organized? How does one become a warden? What kind of equipment and resources do they have? What are the legal powers of a warden? That's what this post is about.

So how does one become a Warden of Kusseth? It's kind of an apprenticeship of sorts. In Kusseth there are these things called youth gangs. These are primarily a collection of kids ranging from eight or nine years old to about thirteen or fourteen, these aren't hard numbers by any means. They're not so much a criminal element as they are a nuisance, though a fair few of them end up being classified as criminal gangs when they hit the age of fifteen. Sometimes they're homeless or orphans or homeless orphans, or just have shitty parents or lack something better to do. Most youth gangs are a combination of those elements. They generally hang around and act up and cause trouble and engage in what might be called petty larceny.  In rougher areas, they band together for mutual protection. They typically have names for their group and generally hang out in a specific ward doing specific things. A lot of times they end up as scouts and informants for wardens, and wardens typically end up drawing their recruits from the ranks of youth gangs they are familiar with. This is a simple process, the warden vouches for the youth, the youth enters into the two year training program for wardens, if the youth succeeds, they then shadow their sponsor for three to five years to ensure experience and competency before they're issued their badge and start being the law. There's no age requirement per se, but wardens tend to only sponsor youths they've had their eye on for some time, so most warden recruits enter the training program around thirteen or fourteen years of age. 

Warden training typically involves what you'd expect. Lots of physical training and hand to hand combat training accompanied by firearms training. In addition, there is extensive training on the laws of Kusseth and its complex system of fines, taxes, and imprisonment. There is also a lot of focus on restraining oneself from blowing holes in every criminal you meet, as Kusseth sees people as a resource and if wardens blow holes in all of the people with their fancy guns, Kusseth can't tax or fine them. So generally, wardens are advised to only shoot to kill if their lives are directly threatened. If they do end up killing citizens or criminals, they go before a review board and if the board doesn't agree that the warden was at risk, or they disagree with the degree of risk, the warden is fined. During training, Kusseth provides room and board and equipment, along with a stipend, for the potential warden. However, once the trainee becomes a full warden, his pay is docked by a percentage to pay off the costs associated with this. If a trainee happens to fail out of the program, he is now in debt to Kusseth. 

The shadowing period is probably the toughest portion of the whole process, and where most trainees bomb out. This is because shadowing is a misleading term. In practice, it is more that the full warden is shadowing the new guy. The trainee basically operates as a full warden in control of their sponsor's district while the warden follows them around (ideally) seeing if they can cut it on their own. Some wardens take this period more seriously than others, and some think of it as kind of a paid vacation. Some trainees succeed, others end up dead in an alley while their sponsor sleeps in. This haphazard system leads to lots of dead or failed out trainees, but also ensures that those that make it through are tough as nails and are truly ready to run their own district. There isn't a grading system for the period of shadowing, you either pass or fail. You pass when your sponsor says you pass and he goes before a review board to explain why he says you pass, and you fail when he says you fail, or if it takes longer than five years for him to say you pass. 

Most new wardens end up running their own district within a year and a half of being issued their badge. There is a bit of a wait list, but there is plenty to occupy new wardens in that time. The wait list is based on first come first serve, but like many things in Kusseth, a fee can be paid to advance your position in the list. However, this is only acceptable if your sponsor backs you up and agrees that it isn't a huge mistake to put you ahead of others. While the new wardens wait for their spot to come up on the list, they are attached to the Warden Auxiliary Force. These are kind of a pool of bodies and guns for wardens to draw on if they feel it is necessary for a raid or the pursuit of a case. They get used for raids and crowd control mostly. They have no legal powers, unless the warden grants them some in the field, and all their equipment is issued when they are called into action. They receive a ridiculously small stipend, but receive a relatively decent bonus when called into action. They are typically composed of failed warden trainees, wardens that couldn't cut it on their own, and various other military types that couldn't cut it in Kusseth's actual armed forces. If a warden is on the wait list, but the WAF isn't doing anything, he'll typically just keep "shadowing" his sponsor.

It should also be noted that in some extremely populous districts, two wardens oversee the area. Additionally, in some areas of Kusseth cities where there is very little change in activity when night falls, the district will have a night warden and a day warden. These kind of postings are not ideal. Wardens are paid a fair wage (Kusseth has always believed in making sure the guys with guns aren't disgruntled because they don't get enough money for aiming the guns at its enemies), but in situations where two wardens are stationed in a district, the combined wage of the two wardens ends up being 1.75 times what a single warden would normally make. Kusseth's logic, sensible or not, is that if one person can do the job in another district, why should we reward you with a helper for not being able to take care of business.on your own? Warden wages are generally based on years of service, but they receive yearly bonuses based on how efficient they are (i.e. how often they come under budget or return requisitioned special supplies). This bonus is automatically reduced based on how prone the warden is to leaving bodies behind instead of capturing criminals for the penal labor and legionnaire forces

So what does a warden do? The day to day primarily involves patrolling their city district. Each warden is in control of a one mile by one mile chunk of a city. It's his job to keep order there using whatever resources he requests and can justify a need for or whatever ones he has at hand. As he patrols, he issues fines and taxes as necessary. He forms a rapport with the youth gangs, as they are rather useful as scouts and informants. If he finds an unlicensed sorcerer or brothel or something along those lines, he runs the information up the chain of command to his senior warden and goes from there. It's mostly standard stuff you'd expect a cop to do on a day to day basis. Wardens also assist Kussethian Guild of Bankers representatives and bounty hunters in their district when they are pursuing back taxes and folks that have outstanding fees and such. 

What kind of resources and equipment do wardens have at their disposal? The basic equipment a new warden is issued is an Abraxen revolver, a warden's duster, a wolf-iron breaching axe, the station house for his district, and his badge. The badge isn't terribly useful, primarily it just sits on his duster. The badge is a brass dodecagon (twelve sides) and the only insignia on it is the four digit badge number of the warden wearing it and a small star along each side of the dodecagon. The revolver is of Abraxen make, so it is of high quality and fires large caliber rounds and packs quite a punch (1d10 damage, 20/x4, 45 ft. range increment, fine quality, enhanced rifling, and sights upgrades, exotic single handed firearm). Each firearm is crafted for the warden specifically and his Kussethian identification number is etched into the metal in multiple places on the firearm. The duster is usually brown leather and has plates of metal sewn into it and comes in two varieties, heavy (+4 AC,  +4 max Dexterity bonus, no check penalty, 20% spell failure, 20 ft. movement, masterwork and custom fit upgrades, don or remove as a move action, medium armor) and light (+3 AC, +5 max Dexterity bonus, no check penalty, 15% spell failure, 30 ft. movement, masterwork and custom fit upgrades, don or remove as a move action, light armor). The duster is also made for each warden specifically. The wolf-iron breaching axe is a sturdy, long-handled handaxe with a wolf-iron head with a hollow cavity full of mercury (1d8 damage, 20/x4, mercury filled upgrade, ignores object hardness of less than 20, martial two-handed weapon). Typically, as the name indicates, these axes are used for breaching doorways. The standard process is to flip the axe around and swing it hard into a a door with the back of the head impacting right above the locking mechanism. It is rarely used in combat situations, but there is no rule regulating its use. Some wardens opt to cut down the axe's handle, resulting in a shorter hatchet that can be more readily used in melee while still having a bit of capability for breaching a door (damage reduced to 1d6, martial one-handed melee weapon). 

The station house for a district is typically a small 40 ft. by 40 ft. by 10 ft. fortress made of reinforced brick walls and a reinforced wolf-iron door. It usually consists of an armory full of ammunition and tools for weapon and armor repair, a basement with cells and a wall safe, small kitchen area with an icebox and stove and cabinets for food supplies, a desk for reviewing reports and such, a telegraph station, and a cot. The station houses are designed to house a warden if necessary while acting as a defensible position in the event of invading armies or rioters. Most wardens have their actual residences within a short walk of the station house. The contents of the armory varies from warden to warden and depends on the warden's skillset and those of the other wardens that have served there and how much looting the wardens stationed there have done in their time of service. It also depends on how often requisitioned special supplies like flash grenades and pocket lightning projectors get "lost" or "used" or "stolen" while pursuing a case. The basement wall safe usually stores evidence and a relatively small petty cash to be used for bribes and informants and such. Depending on the age of the station house, there will also be either writing supplies for keeping logs and reports or a typewriter for the same. 

Are there different types of wardens? How are they organized? So we have the youth gangs and the Warden Auxiliary Force at the bottom of the hierarchy. Above them are the regular wardens, the guy or guys in control of a district. I say guy, but there are lady wardens two. All Kusseth ultimately cares about is getting the job done. Doesn't matter if you've got a dick or tits (or both in the case of some Fell Humans and really icky sorcerers). Above wardens are senior wardens. These guys are kind of overseers, typically with at least a decade of experience. They oversee a ward, which consists of six districts. Each warden in the six districts in the ward reports to the senior warden. The senior warden is kind of their commanding officer, he reads their reports and requisitions and such. He calls the review board for actions they perform that he deems review is necessary. He reviews and reports on budget issues, deals with issues affecting the whole ward such as organized crime and illegal immigrants and such. As you move up the chain of command, the job is basically that of the senior wardens, just on a larger scale. Above the senior wardens are the warden captains, and they oversee a great ward, which is a collection of six wards. Above the warden captains are the chief wardens, and they oversee a major ward, which is a collection of six great wards (see a pattern?). Above the chief wardens is the Lord Warden of the City. This position only exists in Kusseth City and is one of the spots on the council of the twelve Lords of Kusseth. The Lord Warden of the City guides the policies of law and order for the entire city, he tries to snag as much of he country's budget as he can (though whether or not he uses all of it for issues related to keeping law and order is up for debate). 

So, if we look at Kusseth City itself, we have 922 districts and figure it has to be close to a thousand wardens. We have 153 wards (one with only 4 districts), and thus 153 senior wardens. We have 26 great wards (one with only 3 wards) and 26 warden captains. We end up with 4 major wards (one with only 2 great wards), and one Lord Warden of the City. I have no idea if this is remotely feasible to keep law and order. I have no idea if a walled city that is thirty miles on each side is remotely feasible either, but fuck, this is Pathfinder. 

In addition to these wardens, there are specialty wardens. The most utilized kind are the wardens errant. These guys are at about the same rank as wardens, but their hierarchy is broken down by sixes similar to the way it is in the cities. Six wardens errant report to a senior warden errant, six senior wardens errant report to a warden errant captain, and so on. The chief wardens errant report to the Lord Warden. Wardens errant roam Kusseth's territory as they are needed. Typically they bolster law enforcement in border towns, or are sent to cities that are in need of a replacement warden but haven't received one yet. They are typically stationed in an area with a functioning telegraph or post system and kind of hang out until called into action. They are also used to pursue fugitives that flee a city, but have not garnered the interest of bounty hunters. In rare cases, they pursue fugitives that leave the country. There isn't a hard limit on their numbers, but if records show there are a lot of wardens errant hanging around doing nothing, Kusseth puts a hold on transfers to that division. 

The wardens sorcerous are a specialty group that pursues issues related to sorcery and psionics. They have the same organization system and naming convention as wardens errant, but they are usually only found in major cities. They are of equal rank with wardens of the same rank, except in issues directly related to sorcery. Typically, these wardens possess sorcerous or psionic powers, or an innate resistance to these forces. There are a lot of Vyanth in this branch of the wardens, they tend to have the highest survival rate because of their innate resistance to sorcery. Their numbers are typically limited to one per ward. They don't operate on a district level. Their assistance may also be requested by other divisions, like a warden errant in pursuit of a known sorcerer, for instance. 

Corrections wardens operate Kusseth's prison facilities and oversee penal labor forces. The correction facilities in Kusseth are operated similarly to the cities. It's broken down by number of prisoners instead of districts though, one corrections warden per six prisoners and so on following the hierarchy I've listed before. 

Wardens militant are wardens that operate in Kusseth's military and help to maintain order in armies and such while also supporting them in military actions. Typically they are pulled from whatever branch of the military they are part of. Their ranking system is kind of haphazard and is often based on the traditions of the regiment or the branch of the military and its size and resources. Wardens militant only have jurisdiction within the military branch they are part of, if a criminal flees the regiment or deployment zone, they fall under the jurisdiction of the wardens errant, if they then enter a city, they fall under the jurisdiction of the city's wardens. They also oversee any penal legionairres attached to the regiment.  

I'm sure if I spent a bit of time on it, I could come up with half a dozen other specialty branches of the wardens, but this post is lengthy as is. 

What are the legal powers of the wardens? Kusseth's main method of law enforcement and crime prevention is a system of ever increasing fines and eventual incarceration in labor camps. So basically wardens write tickets and assign fines. The more "illegal" the activity, the higher the fine. For instance, theft results in a fine dependent upon the value of the stolen item. Someone engaging in unlicensed prostitution down an alley is a minor crime, a fine of a few bits. Someone organizing prostitutes and operating an unlicensed brothel would be fined based on a reasonable assessment of their profits. Basically, it breaks down into negligible fines (less than 10 marks), minor fines (less than 100 marks), moderate fines (less than 250 marks), major fines (less than 1000 marks), but that isn't to say that a thousand marks. Ultimately, Kusseth's courts and wardens can fine you however much they want, as long as they can justify it. For most clearly defined crimes there is a legal minimum and maximum a criminal may be fined, with guidelines for increases based on recorded recidivism.

Wardens may also detain suspected criminals and criminals, there aren't any hard and fast guidelines for this, it depends on what the warden can justify before a review board. Chances are, if you're innocent, you'll be out in a few days. If there is strong suspicion of your guilt, you'll likely be there a week or more. If warden can't justify the detainment, a fine based on the length of the detainment is levied against the warden and a note is added to their record. 

Wardens can also commandeer vehicles and equipment at will, as long as they can justify it to their superior or a review board afterwards. If they can't justify it, a review board assesses the value and replaces if it was lost by the warden. If the warden fails to justify it, the warden replaces it out of pocket. If it doesn't get destroyed or broken, it is returned. It should be noted that there is a lengthy wait on reimbursement and a forest of red tape and bored administrative types to get through to be reimbursed. The warden also receives a negligible fine for his trouble, and a note is made about him being a little too happy to take stuff from citizens. The more notes in his record, the higher the fine. 

Wardens can also use force against criminals and suspected criminals as they deem necessary, including lethal force. But again, they have to be able to justify it. If they aren't able to justify it, they receive a moderate fine and a note in their record. More notes equals higher fines. 

Wardens can also question citizens and criminals and suspected criminals at will. Justification is only needed if their questioning is accompanied by detainment or torture. Unjustified torture is fined based on the type of injury the subject sustains. Psychological torture that results in no physical injury gets the warden a minor fine. Torture that results in injury gets a moderate fine. Torture that results in maiming or death results in a major fine. 

Wardens may also ask any individual to present their Kussethian identification tattoo or visitor's pass for inspection without justification. Anyone found to have a fake identification tattoo is immediately detained. Anyone found to have deliberately obscured or altered their identification tattoo is charged a major fee. Wardens can do whatever they want to anyone without an identification tattoo or visitor's pass with impunity, as long as it eventually ends in death or detainment or removal from the country. Non-citizens are non-entities without the proper paperwork behind it, thus they have no standing in the law. It should be noted that if a warden were to kill a lucrative foreign trader that he surprised in the bathroom and said trader left his visitor's pass in the other room, the warden would likely find himself in the labor camps and likely find most of his neighbors to be criminals he is partly responsible for putting there. It should also be said that no wardens of any kind have any sort of jurisdiction over Greyskin Abraxens, and they operate with a sort of diplomatic immunity in Kusseth. 

There is a set rate of increases for fines based on recidivism, with the eventual punishment for constant recidivism, or excessively varied types of fines a citizen has received, being incarceration and forced entry into the penal labor force. Sentences last until the prisoner works off his literal debt to society. The penal labor forces receives the standard wage for whatever task they perform, but their food and supplies and such are deducted from their earnings. The cost of arming, feeding, and bunking penal legionnaires is not deducted from their earnings, and they are paid about half what a Greycoat makes. 

So there is some text on wardens and law and whatnot. I'm not sure it is at all feasible and functional, but whatever. I like it and it is fun to imagine an alternate system of law enforcement, though it isn't exactly completely different from what we use in our world. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Come From the Land of the Ice Snow Where the Harsh Wind Blows

Zeppelins are something Jason is really interested in in my campaign. He has unholy dreams of a fleet of airships he sails through the skies with holds full of Goebleen paratroopers armed to the teeth with grenades and guns ready to dive bomb his enemies. It's a glorious dream. He expressed a curiosity about airships in The Known World, so I figured I might talk a little bit about them. This may end up as a two part post. Depends on how much I write before midnight, we just finished gaming and I have been slacking all weekend. Sorry. No one has ever expressed an interest in owning an airship before, so a lot of my thoughts on airships and such are kind of broad and just rolling around my head. 

So historically speaking, airships have only been around in The Known World for fifty years or so. Some time in 9951 DK, two Fell Human brothers decided they wanted to fly. Their particular fellness took the form of the common glowing eyes, but they also had black bones of stone-like material, and stubby, bony, leathery growths out of their shoulder blades. Kind of vestigial wings. They couldn't fly, but they could use these growths to help them in jumping and stuff, and they always yearned to fly. They were natives of Kusseth, so they were accustomed to the sight of steam lorries and that sort of thing and eventually moved to Port Brass and learned about things like lighter than air gases and whatnot. The brothers were Leh'd and Behr'g Hin'dehn, born in 9924 DK, natives of the streets of Kusseth City itself.

Like many innovators and scientists, the brothers ended up being financed by the military, specifically the Brasscoats. The Brasscoat division of Kusseth's military will pretty much throw bodies and money in heaps at any project that even remotely promises to enhance their ability to slaughter Kusseth's enemies with superior weaponry. Most Greyskin Abraxens won't even speak to members of the Brasscoats, simply because they can't know what will inspire them to new innovations of violence and destruction. There are also rumors that Greyskins that gain the interest of Brasscoats have a tendency to end up in dark rooms wearing chains. But that's just hearsay and rumor and the disappearance of Greyskins is easily explained, they typically get sick of Kusseth and head home to the Ashlands. Wherever that is. This financing eventually led to the use of zeppelins in all of Kusseth's military branches and the fact that most airships that exist are the property of Kusseth's government and military, with only a very small amount owned commercially, and an even tinier amount owned by private citizens. Interestingly enough, most of the private citizens that own an airship are members of Kusseth's government. Currently, Kusseth City and Port Brass are the only two cities in The Known World that actively produce airships. They do not take orders for new ones, and most of the ones that are used commercially or by private citizens are either decommissioned ones Kusseth has replaced, or they've been stolen or salvaged. Considering the fact that the dirigibles are fragile and lighter than air gases aren't readily available at the general store and that a broken airship generally has to hit the ground before it can be salvaged, airships don't get salvaged and refitted too often. 

Now, airships aren't common, but they aren't exactly super rare either. Most Kusseth cities have airship towers in the docks or industrial areas of the city. It isn't rare to see them flying above cities or somewhere in the sky while traveling in Kusseth. They're like trains, they exist and they are around and most citizens don't notice them too much because while they're neat and interesting, they've been around for a while. Mostly, Kusseth uses airships for personnel and cargo transport. Which is a handy advantage over other countries, as they have to cart stuff and people along roads in wagons or on the backs of horses. This isn't to say that armed zeppelins don't exist. They're basically sailing ships and they almost always have a cannon or two even if they just do cargo or personnel transports. But, using them in war isn't terribly practical for Kusseth. Kusseth's two main foes are Whurent and The Fell Peaks, and those two nations mostly exist as underground empires. So yeah, an airship can fly low enough to hit a city with dropped bombs, or perhaps with cannons if they can get the right angle. Personally, I'm not sure how the mechanics of aiming a cannon down would work. Do artillery shells fall out of guns on ships if you aim them down? I've no idea. Rounds don't fall out of my revolver, so I assume the concept transfers to larger artillery guns. I always see them aiming up, I assume because they are typically firing on a distant target and need to cross a great distance before impacting. I dunno, texting Jason now. It pays to know seamen. Heh. Seamen. 

The thought does occur that cannons fire with a fair amount of force, and airships are kind of just hanging there in the air. A bunch of cannons firing would certainly jerk it about a bit I would think. Would any sort of wooden or partly metal structure be able to survive the stresses of port and starboard cannon batteries firing at the same time? That's a lot of recoil. In most films I've seen, there are tracks cannons roll out on or they are secured with bindings and when they fire they blast back into the ship and are reloaded. I'm sure that absorbs a bit of force, but I also feel like the water a ship is on is supporting it and stabilizing it as well. I feel like an airship that fires off a bunch of cannons is just going to start swinging wildly from it's dirigible or yank the balloon itself around in the sky.

The way I envision airships operating is in three sizes. Pathfinder's Ultimate combat has a 20 ft. wide by 60 ft. long two deck airship listed as a colossal air vehicle (it sells for 50,000 gold). Which doesn't sound that big on paper, but it's almost as wide as my living room and dining room combined, so it works. I think I'll utilize a 20 ft. by 40 ft. and a 15 ft. by 35 ft. version as well. I'll downgrade their pricing and space for weaponry, passengers, and cargo appropriately. I've also got some ideas rambling around in my head for armoring them, building them out of special materials, and various forms of propulsion. I enjoy the imagery behind the concept of an airship flying over Kusseth belching out smoke and steam as it is fed coal to power fans that it uses for propulsion. 

I don't have any point in history where there have been air battles in The Known World, but I'd use the ship to ship combat rules for it and alter them as necessary. This are in the pirate themed Pathfinder adventure path I believe, and I have access to those. The obvious alteration is that you don't fall into water, you fall into air and probably die. 

Looking at Ultimate Combat, the vehicle rules seem to be decent and outline how to drive and attack with vehicles and all that. It all seems pretty straight forward, for the most part. I know the 3.5 Arms and Equipment Guide had some rules for vehicles in it, but I really prefer to keep things in system if I can. So I'll likely stick with Ultimate Combat for how we go about piloting and fighting with airships if it ever comes to that. Some of you may be interested to know that airships are use Profession (Sailor) as the piloting skill. 

Alright, so that is a little bit about airships and stuff, though admittedly not much, and most of it says "go look over here" for more information. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joe Abercrombie

Have you heard of this guy? He's a fantasy writer. Lance and I have heard of him, and we both seem to think his work is swell. He's written a trilogy and several standalone novels in the same world set varying amounts of time after the trilogy that involve minor characters from the trilogy.  It's dark and grim and gritty stuff and there are no good guys, just people who are flawed and try to do their best and sometimes fail. It's also violent. Violent as fuck.

I can't do the violence justice with my own words. I will say that it's quick and savage and well written without being a literary gorefest. People die in fights with swords and they tend to die bloody and that blood tends to get on you. Abercrombie notes that when appropriate and describes it vividly. No one dies from excessive amounts of light slashes or glancing blows. They die from having a sword dragged from their groin up to their sternum and their guts rolling out like a heap of worms. Or they get curb stomped.

His "heroes" aren't pretty, except for one or two. They're scarred and cut up and missing fingers or eyes or ears. He also seems to delight in maiming pretty folks. One main character that survived being tortured had his front two upper and lower teeth ripped out and then his torturers alternated with the rest of his teeth so no top tooth met a bottom tooth when his mouth closed. He was not a fan of all the gruel he was forced to suck down during the trilogy. Every fights leaves characters with new scars or bits and pieces of their bodies missing, because that's what tends to happen to people when they start swinging blades at other people with great regularity. 

His writing has some strong pacing. Sometimes the pace is fairly breakneck and I find myself just devouring the words off of the page. Other times it is slower and more leisurely, but you can kind of feel those sections of high violence and gritty action coming, and I find myself devouring the words just as fast. It ends up building the tension and expectation as I approach them. Since his action sequences always tend to deliver, I end up pleased as punch when they finally come about.

His characters feel real to me, three dimensional. No one is good because they're good or evil because they're evil. They don't spout high handed morality at you from the page about nobility or evil. They are characters that react appropriately and realistically to the situations Abercrombie writes them into based on their background. There is very little black and white to them, mostly just muddled grey. Which I love. They have reasons for doing what they do and what they've done before we met them, and those reasons generally make sense for the character.

The shape of his world is kind of vague, and the history appears pretty thin as well. There are nations and historical figures, but little time seems to be spent on the various background details unless it is needed by the plot. I'm ok with this. His stories aren't really about the world. They're about the characters, and the main characters are well written and interesting.

I could go on and list specific scenes and examples, but this is definitely a writer you should check out.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Alternate Rules: Racial Archetypes

Everyone knows what archetypes are, yeah? For a refresher, they're a modification of an existing class. They usually modify skill selection, armor and weapon proficiencies, and a few class abilities. Basically they either change how they work, or switch them out for something completely new. This tends to keep the main flavor of the class, except in situations like the Gunslinger, Ninja, and Samurai classes. Those are archetypes of the Fighter, Rogue, and Cavalier that change so much about the way the base class works that an entirely new class was much simpler to create instead of listing a bunch of exchanged features. Anyway, usually this is something simple. The Archer archetype for the Fighter loses his armor mastery and weapon mastery abilities to gain some special ways of using bows, like making ranged combat maneuvers like disarm and sunder actions, which isn't normally possible. When the Advanced Race Guide came out, they added racial archetypes to the game, something I'm not entirely sure I like the concept of. Most of these are along the same lines as normal archetypes, you just have to be a member of the race to take them. Generally speaking, this is stupid. I feel this way because the majority of these racial archetypes have no intrinsic connection to the race that uses them. Some, such as the Gray Disciple Duergar Monk archetype and the Cavern Sniper Drow Fighter archetype, utilize certain innate abilities of the race (the Gray Disciple can use ki points to utilize Duergar invisibility and enlarge abilities) in a unique way. But most don't. Anyway, I got to thinking about this and wondered if any of these restricted archetypes might be appropriate for Hekinoe. So that's what this post is about.

Hateful Rager (Half-Orc Barbarian): This is an archetype that rages less and is less aware of their surroundings, they gain a favored enemy ability instead. It is restricted to Half-Orcs with the flavor text saying that a lot of times they're bullied by Humans or Orcs and made to feel like outcasts, so they learn to be extra savage when fighting one of those races. Because nobody but Half-Orcs is ever bullied and made to feel an outcast and get really mad about it, apparently. Anyway, this archetype would be totally appropriate for some of the warring clans in The Beast Lands or The Wild Lands. Or even in the Plains of Dust where the plainsmen are almost as xenophobic about non-Uncout, non-Elduman races and sorcerers as The New Empire is. 

Prankster (Gnome Bard): This archetype focuses on inflicting penalties to attack rolls and using the hideous laughter spell via bardic performances. This archetype would be completely appropriate for my campaign world. There are lots of sorcerers out there, and with the Bardic Colleges of the City-State of Meroteth adding sorcery into their curriculum, a Bard that can use sorcery to send enemies into crippling fits of sorcerous  laughter wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. Even if he isn't small and friendly with burrowing animals. 

Shadow Puppeteer (Wayang Bard): Wayangs are a planar race from the Plane of Shadow in Pathfinder, just to clarify. These bards use their bardic performances to create shadow puppets that act like summon monster spells. With D'alton Braun as one of the iconic characters of Hekinoe and with him having shadow powers that included having a sentient shadow, this Bard archetype would be totally appropriate for Fell Humans in my campaign. I've always envisioned Shadowdancers as needing some sort of sorcerous ability to develop their powers, whether it be class levels or simply being a Fell Human and having sorcerous blood. Never made any such restriction though, obviously. 

Foehammer (Dwarf Fighter): No Dwarves in Hekinoe, so obviously no one can use hammers. Seriously. Really, guys? A special hammer archetype restricted to Dwarves? Next you'll tell me that no one but Dwarves can use a Dwarven Waraxe because it is a Dwarven weapon. Sigh. This archetype would be fine in Hekinoe, because, you know, hammers exist in Hekinoe. 

Ironskin Monk (Hobgoblin Monk): This Monk archetype loses a lot of flippy ninja shit and replaces it with durability. I think it'd be totally appropriate for Hekinoe. Look at the Rankethlek. A half ton Rankethlek isn't going to be flipping around and twisting out of the way of blows. He's going to chuckle as your sword bounces off of his armored hide and he is going to pound you into ruin with his big metal fists. Hobgoblins are tough customers, but I don't think they have a monopoly on being tough guys.

Underfoot Adept (Halfing Monk): This archetype centers on running in between people's legs and being small and generally causing trouble that way. I wouldn't expect to see it much, but it'd be fine for any small size character, and Fell Humans and I believe Soulless both have the capability to start play as small characters. 

Wanderer (Human Monk): This archetype is focused on being able to walk long distances and to be tricky and inscrutable. I think Elduman are probably better at being inscrutable and mysterious, but nothing about this archetype is remotely centered on being Human, so I can't see any reason to say nobody in Hekinoe can have it. 

Cat Burglar (Catfolk Rogue): This archetype centers on stealthy entrances and exits and generally being good at avoiding traps and not having your presence detected after the fact. I think that's appropriate for any graduate of the Bardic Colleges or any second story man, not just the ones that are bipedal cats. 

Deadly Courtesan (Vishkanya Rogue): This archetype grants a Rogue some bardic performance abilities in exchange for a Rogue abilities. With the Bardic Colleges having a curriculum that involves entertainment and assassination and combining the two, this archetype makes a lot of sense for Hekinoe.   I can't fathom why it should be only restricted to snake men when Bards of any race can use bardic performances and multiclass as Rogues if they want to, but whatever. 

Eldritch Raider (Gillmen Rogue): This archetype trades out some thieving abilities to gain access to some Rogue talents that allow them to cast some spells. With the prevalence of sorcery in The Known World and the Bardic Colleges of the City-State of Meroteth incorporating sorcery into their curriculum, this is a pretty appropriate archetype to include in The Known World, if not all of Hekinoe.

Filcher (Halfling Rogue): This archetype is what was called a pickpocket in my day. They steal things from people, potentially in the middle of combat. I don't want to live in a world where Halflings are the only people that can competently pick a pocket. Just kill them all and all your town watchmen are out of a job. It'd break the game world's economy. Anyway, since The Known World is a pretty well populated place and some Kusseth cities are sprawling masses of cramped streets, I feel like any urchin of any race could get fairly adept at stealing things from people in the midst of a crowd. 

Wild Shadow (Half-Elf Ranger): So Half-Elves are apparently the only race in Pathfinder that can feel isolated (because of their heritage, obviously) and isolate themselves in the wilderness and be really good about moving through terrain they were isolated in and using it against their enemies. Sigh. Lots of people lead isolated little hermit style lives in Hekinoe. It's ok with me if they don't have slightly pointed ears and scraggly half-breed beards that take six months to come in all patchy and lame looking. 

Spellbinder (Elf Wizard): This Wizard archetype has the ability to select several spells over his career that he can convert already memorized spells into on the fly. Given the prevalence of sorcerous races and sorcery in The Known World, I feel like this archetype is more than welcome to join us in Hekinoe. 

Wind Listener (Sylph Wizard): This Wizard archetype is good at divination and stealthy eavesdropping. I don't see any reason why it would be restricted to Sylphs. It says Sylphs are really curious about stuff, so maybe that's why. I can't imagine why any Wizard would try to develop his talents so he was good at learning secrets and could remain hidden from sight. Who wants to learn ancient lore and secrets? There are fireballs to be thrown and spells to write down in your spellbook. I think this archetype is appropriate for any world that has magic. Specific to my world, any Wizard wandering in or near the Plains of Dust and The New Empire would find the ability to fade from sight and the ability to know when people are coming after you really handy. 

Bogborn Alchemist (Grippli Alchemist): This archetype uses a mutagen that conveys amphibious traits, in addition to the normal one. It would never be my first choice for an Alchemist archetype, but I imagine it'd come in handy in a wetter place than The Known World. 

Bramble Brewer Alchemist (Half-Elf Alchemist): This archetype has a mutagen that is very tree-like, and convey photosynthesis powered fast healing. I think it fits in in Hekinoe. But only on continents that have access to sorcery and also have trees. Which is, you know, all of them. Probably be weird for Dwenoren to use it though, but whatever. Dwenoren are weird. 

Fire Bomber (Goblin Alchemist): These guys use fire and bombs to explode things and catch them on fire. There are pyromaniacs to be found everywhere on Hekinoe, so it makes sense for this archetype to be allowed in Hekinoe. 

Plague Bringer (Ratfolk Alchemist): This Alchemist archetype uses plague instead of a mutagen. They basically store a plague inside of them and use it to give enemies the sickened condition. I can't see any reason to restrict this archetype to a specific race. Doctors and such are weird, and some of them like to do weird experiments. I'll allow it. 

Saboteur (Gnome Alchemist): This Alchemist uses a mutagen that augments stealth and has a few special discoveries that specialize in destroying materiel. I think this archetype is very very appropriate for guys like Kusseth's Blackcoats, or any crazy sorcerous chemist guy that wants to be stealthy instead of tough, fast, or strong at the expense of brain power.

Fell Rider (Hobgoblin Cavalier): This Cavalier archetype has a really tough and nasty mount. Cavalry isn't used extensively in The Known World anymore, but this archetype might be appropriate for any rider that has a particularly big and angry mount. Perhaps even a tribesman from The Beast Lands that uses a young great beast as a mount. It also might be appropriate for the dragon mounted cavalry that Meroteth used to field back in the city's heyday. 

Buccaneer (Human Gunslinger): I've already allowed this archetype, but still. Really Pathfinder? Humans are the only sea-faring Gunslingers that do things differently than other Gunslingers? No other race can wander out onto a boat and use the pirate jargon deed? There are only three requirements for this archetype, having a gun, using it better than other classes, and being a pirate. None of the other pirate class archetypes are restricted to a specific race. Seems retarded to do that to Gunslingers. 

Bushwacker (Kobold Gunslinger): This archetype focuses on making Gunslingers sneakier and gives them a sneak attack ability and the ability to restore grit points by attacking from hiding. I know the cowardice of Kobolds is well known, but I don't exactly think they have a monopoly on ambushes and such. Given the nature of combat in The Known World, I'm going to welcome this archetype to Hekinoe with open arms. 

Experimental Gunsmith (Gnome Gunslinger): This archetype modifies their firearms with extra capacity and utility abilities. It's kind of neat, and it would be very appropriate for any tinkerer style character. They gain four modifications they can apply to a firearm over twenty levels, but there are only five modifications to select from, so yeah. I can think of a wide variety I'd add to the archetype. They'd be a pretty appropriate archetype for Kusseth's Brasscoats, if they had a wider selection of modifications. 

Gulch Gunner (Ratfolk Gunslinger): This archetype is all about up close firearms combat, specifically in tunnels. Because only Ratfolk use firearms in cramped spaces? Whatever. This archetype would be very appropriate for nations/warriors that are primarily underground, like The Fell Peaks and Whurent. I can see them being very appropriate for Blackcoats fighting in The Great Trench, what with all the cramped spaces and tunnels and guns and whatnot. 

Spell Dancer (Elf Magus): This Magus archetype focuses on mobility. That's it. They use magic to move around better and to be harder to hit while wandering through a battlefield. I think they'd fit in pretty well in The Known World, using sorcery to be faster than everyone else isn't exactly a unique or unheard of idea. 

Shadow Caller (Fetchling Summoner): It should be noted that in regular Pathfinder, eidolons are summoned from elsewhere in the planes. In Hekinoe, eidolons (and all summoned/conjured creatures) are merely a sorcerous construction of the Summoner's mind imbued with his lifeforce and not a planar entity. Shadow Callers make shadowy critters instead of regular meat and potatoes ones. Given what I've said before about D'alton Braun, I can't see any reason to exclude Shadow Callers from Hekinoe.  

Shaitan Binder (Oread Summoner): Shaitan are earth genies and Oreads are their Tiefling version. This archetype creates a very earthy eidolon. Seems ok to me to allow natives of Hekinoe to come up with earthy imaginary friends, even if they aren't part rock. 

Wild Caller (Half-Elf Summoner): This archetype switches out the majority of the Summoner's summon monster stuff for summon nature's ally. I don't see why people of Hekinoe that create sorcerous companions to fight for them couldn't base them on natural creatures. It would certain be appropriate for the tribes of The Beast and Wild Lands to base such creatures off of the great beasts. 

Scarred Witch Doctor (Orc Witch): This Witch archetype uses Constitution as their casting statistic. They focus on being tough and scarring themselves, their familiar is actually a horrific mask they wear that is full of dark power. This archetype would be appropriate for any tribal character on Hekinoe, though the nature of the class is kind of dark and masochistic, so the Witch in question is likely not a friendly individual prone to healing weary travelers in their woods.

Alright, so there are some racial archetypes that are now available in Hekinoe without a racial restriction. There are plenty more racial archetypes out there, but they either didn't fit with Hekinoe or they actually involved unique racial features of the race they are tied to.