Friday, October 9, 2015

Running Campaigns

One of the things I do is game every other Saturday with some guys that I know through a guy through work. At this point I consider them friends, so I game with a group of friends every other Saturday. We currently play 5th Edition DnD. There are two DMs in this group: Kyle and Kevin. They've both run a few campaigns and one shots and such in the time I've been gaming with them, which is probably approaching a year or so now. With the crashing and burning of my Pathfinder campaign, I've been kind of wanting to show my appreciation for them by DMing something for the group. Kind of give them both a break and get myself back into the role of running games. Something relatively short, definitely not a three year long campaign, but something more than a one shot or multi-session dungeon.

I also want to run it as a sort of palette cleanser after the Pathfinder campaign. Not because it left a bad taste in my mouth. I liked that campaign and am curious how it would have all ended (which is now up to Eric to decide). What I mean is that I've been running campaigns for the same group of friends, for the most part, for 21 years and ran a campaign for three years with guys who were adjacent to that group of friends. Shawn was part of that original group and he introduced me to Lance, who introduced me to Jason, who introduced me to Cary. I've grown accustomed to these guys and their friends and their various idiosyncrasies. I feel like it would be beneficial for me as a GM to run things for a different group of people. A group of people that grew up on different games and versions of DnD than we did. Doing the same things over and over again and running games geared towards the same set of expectations and whatnot leads to stagnation. Because of the my experience as a GM and because of my experience with my core group of players, I've very rarely had to plan any alternative routes for task completion in my scenarios over the past three years. I almost instinctively know what they're going to do, how to get them to do what I want, and what is going to interest and bore them. This isn't a criticism of any of us. We're all just accustomed to each other's tastes and quirks. For the most part.

This is more about me expanding my horizons and seeing what other people have to say about me as a GM and what they have to say about Hekinoe. I dunno. These guys are cool. I think it'd be fun to plop them down in Hekinoe and see what they do with it. So I've decided to do this. The first step is figuring out what I want to do. The first step of that is determining system.

My heart always flies like an arrow to GURPS for representing Hekinoe, but that's not exactly ethical in my opinion. I don't really feel right demanding they all buy new books and stuff, especially when both of the core GURPS books are fifty bucks each. I also don't really feel right giving them all free pdfs because I like GURPS and want to support the game. Anyway, long story short: I've opted to go with 5th Edition for this campaign, but significantly modified. As I've said many a time before, various versions of DnD don't really work with Hekinoe, also DnD is stupid.

So the main point of this post is to establish how much I need to modify 5th Edition to fit it into Hekinoe. Just like other 3.X Edition versions of Hekinoe, some things will get handwaved because game. I want to tweak it to make it fit, but I don't really want to overdo it. So we need to first establish a little bit about this continent I plan on setting this campaign on and how it different from The Known World and go from there into modification of rules and mechanics.

The first difference is that it will have its own set of races, and there will only be four races. The Buillon, the Gobeneru, the Halflings, and Humans. The Gobeneru are of the Goebleen/Ethryll/Hulderfolk lineage and Humans will be the same type of stock as Uncout, so there will be some familiar/common races. The second difference is that magic is more stable and does not cause mutations and magic items don't eventually explode when used. However, magic is also weaker. Because background, this continent will have the lowest risk of misfire of any of the continents in Hekinoe. The third difference is that the tech level of this continent is more along the lines of normal DnD, rather than the Wild West era technology of The Known World or the Iron Age era technology of Orcunraytrel. Steel is a thing, but guns and steam engines are not. This continent also has no Elduman, so there are no psionics on it.

So how is this continent different from DnD? This question kind of shows what the necessary modifications to 5th Edition's rules will be. This will keep me from going hog wild and doing things like converting armor to damage reduction, making massive reductions in hit points to everything, etc, etc, etc. There will be plenty of modifications. No need to add more nonsense onto what has to be there. There's a fine line between needing to modify a system and needing to use a completely different system. If I just end up hacking apart 5th Edition to be more GURPS like, rather than to fit Hekinoe, it might be more appropriate to use GURPS in the first place.

Anyway, Hekinoe is different from the core DnD world described in the Player's Handbook. Let's talk about that.

Races. Hekinoe has no Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, etc, etc, etc. It's all my own races. You could, like Lance, be an idiot and say that the Sereth and Vyanth are just Elves because pointed ears (nevermind that they're actually an offshoot of Uncout, but whatever) or that Greenskin Abraxens are Orcs, but that's not true. Some of the races of Hekinoe resemble common DnD races, and that may be intentional on my part, but they are not those races. What this means is that I need to stat up the Buillon, Gobeneru, Halflings, and Humans. Not too difficult. It's actually be pretty easy to make them work, Buillon will be a modified Goliath race, Gobeneru will be a modified Halfling or Goblin race, Humans will be Humans. Halflings will actually be something I have to write up from scratch.

No gods. Hekinoe has a decent share of powerful supernatural entities. Primarily members of the Nel race, but there are others. However, these are not gods in the traditional sense. Gods, in DnD, are creatures powered by the faith of their followers, they have ideologies they want followed, they exist on planes that are fairly mutable to their whims, and command legions of planar entities like angels or demons. They are also to a certain extent omnipotent and omniscient, at least in areas related directly to their followers and their areas of control. The supernatural entities of Hekinoe have none of these capabilities. It may seem like they do, but they do not. This means Cleric, Druid, and Paladin are outright gone from the class options. Ranger may stay, but will lose its spellcasting abilities. Can't have divine magic without divine creatures to give the characters magic.

No planes. Hekinoe has no planar cosmology. The only plane is the real world. This means several things. Spells involving planar travel need to be modified or removed. Spells that pull things from other planes need to be altered or removed. Creatures native to other planes, such as angels and demons, do not exist in Hekinoe. There are small sort of demiplanes that I for some reason decided to call adjacent realms, places like The Shadowwlands, the Hound's midnight forest, Nel holdings, and various little sorcerous apartment complexes built by various hermit beard wearing Wizards. Mostly this amounts to some spell alteration and a little bit of outright removal.

Magic. Magic is going to be a big sticking point and will require heavy modification. In Hekinoe there are three types of magic type stuff: magic, the psionics of the Elduman, and the Gifts of the Nel. Each of them have their own unique rules. The two present in this 5th Edition campaign will be magic and Gifts. Magic in Hekinoe is an external energy source that spellcasters shape through symbolic incantations, gestures, and raw willpower. It's a large and chaotic energy source separated from, but always seeking entry into, the physical world. I've described sorcerous energy as an endless sea of power shaped like a funnel with a magic user at the bottom of the funnel. Gifts are an internal energy source, they're the lifeforce of a Nel. Both are powerful, but both have some a variety of limitations and restrictions on their use.

In DnD, magic is an internal force, otherwise the Wizard ability known as arcane replenishment could not exist. How else could you replenish arcane energy to restore spell slots if it didn't come from within you? It's also an external energy source? Or something. It's super dumb. None of the rules about magic mean anything in DnD. How do Clerics gain more spells per day if they don't do stuff that furthers their deity's goals or rise in their church hierarchy if the power comes from their god and not them? Clerics, as non divine beings, have no divine energy. It comes from elsewhere. Their level and ability scores should have no impact on their spells, as all that power comes from their god. Anyway.

Basically we have three magic classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard. Warlocks make pacts with Nel for power, Sorcerer's can only be the Halfling race because they use Gifts from an ancestor who was invested with Gifts by a Nel, and Wizards cast spells using the ambient magical energy from the world around them. The first problem here is casting ability scores. Warlocks use Charisma, and they get their power from a patron they persuade or make a deal with to gain it, so Charisma is fine for them. Since Sorcerer's use internal magic energy that is at least partially their lifeforce, they use Constitution instead of Charisma (which is idiotic even in normal DnD). Wizards do learn certain forms of spells and incantations, but spellcasting in Hekinoe is more about forcing the energy of magic into a certain shape with your willpower, so Wizards use Wisdom instead of Intelligence.

Because there are no Old Ones, demons, or fey in Hekinoe, Warlocks will need a different set of pacts and stuff. Since magic is much less narrowly focused in Hekinoe than in DnD, we'll need to modify spell lists to incorporate all the spells that don't directly reference divine might into the spell selections for the classes. The spells that directly reference divine might will need to go or be altered to fit the Warlock list. Because Sorcerers have bloodlines and traits related to their ancestors who were shaped by the Nel that gave them power, we'll need a different set of sorcerous origins for sorcerers. Wizards will also need some specialty options for Druid and Bard type stuff to go along with their options for specialty school. 

So that's kind of the broad strokes about what I'll need to be doing for this 5th Edition campaign. I may or may not get into the mechanical modifications to magic on the blog here. We'll see. 

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