Friday, November 20, 2015

Fendojon Part -1: Reboot

So I'm scrapping the whole Fendojon/Hekinoe in 5th Edition thing I was going to do. There are a few specific reasons for this, so I'll explain.

One of the things I really want to do, eventually, is run a campaign in Hekinoe using GURPS. That's the dream. One delaying factor to this is setting up a complete campaign book. It's not hard per se, it's just time consuming. Which is why it takes so long. 

One of the things I really like to do is tweak rules and systems so they make more sense to me or better fit my concept of what the rules or world should be. I'm kind of good at it and I heartily enjoy coming up with all the rough drafts and slightly more finalized versions of tweaks and whatnot. This is why I considered pushing the Hekinoe octagonal peg into the 5th Edition square hole for a campaign for my other gaming group. Because it was fun to see if I could make if fit by hammering and brute force alterations to the rules. Sort of a challenge to myself of sorts. 

And I did make it fit. To be fair, I had to modify the background material slightly to fit with what I wanted to do with 5th Edition and Hekinoe, but I was confident I was going to make it all work and finalize it all. But it was going to require some work and some time.

The problem with that is that if I'm going to put forth a bunch of effort on gaming, especially modification of rules and whatnot, shouldn't it be towards my final goal of converting Hekinoe to GURPS and completing the campaign book? I feel like it should be. It feels somewhat immoral to be focusing in on Hekinoe and 5th Edition when I am taking so fucking long on GURPS Hekinoe. Feels like I'm cheating on myself or something here. 

The quickest solution to this would be to just say we're all playing GURPS Fendojon, fuck 5th Edition. But I don't really feel right doing that. This group's preferred system appears to be DnD versions, and GURPS books are expensive and I don't really like the idea of giving everyone a bunch of pdfs, because I like GURPS/Steve Jackson Games, and want to continue to support them with my financial contributions. There's also a somewhat significant time investment factor in learning a completely alien system when you've only just familiarized yourself with a DnD system.  Plus, I kinda like 5th Edition. Excluding Pathfinder, it's probably one of my favorite versions of DnD. It's less "every class is a carbon copy of every other class" than 4th Edition, lighter on rules and modifiers in a good way than 3.5, and it is way more streamlined than 2nd Edition. 

So I don't feel right forcing GURPS on this group. I don't feel right spending extensive time and energy on forcing a piece of Hekinoe into 5th Edition. I also don't feel right using a system that needs such heavy modification to accommodate Hekinoe/Fendojon. If you're going to use a system, it should first and foremost be one you like to run and your players enjoy playing, but it should also be able to fit your world into it without mangling the system's rules or changing your world to fit into the confines of the ruleset. It should all fit together. 

So where does that leave me? I need to scrap Fendojon and run something in 5th Edition designed for 5th Edition, or just give up DMing for this group. I would really like to DM for this group, and I do enjoy 5th Edition, so I think it might be something worth doing to create a 5th Edition campaign. But that kind of puts us right back where we started with putting effort and energy into a campaign instead of working on the GURPS Hekinoe campaign book, which is my Gnomish life quest. 

So what we need to do here is come up with a campaign that utilizes 5th Edition rules in their mostly unmodified form, and uses traditional background elements in their mostly unmodified form. So don't create an entirely different mechanic for casting spells, completely change the way armor and AC work, don't create all new races, etc. Keep the tropes of elves living in forests and being generally good, orcs and goblinoids being generally evil, dragons are powerful, etc. If I maintain those guiding principles, it's basically just plugging in new names in every fantasy trope that has come before. Obviously I'll need to play with some ideas to make sure that I find the campaign compelling and enjoy running it. There's no sense creating and running something I am apathetic about. 

I dunno. We'll see. If more develops, I'm sure I'll yammer about it here. Actually, I already have some ideas that I kind of like involving the map of The Outlands from 2nd Edition and elements of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series. Kind of. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Alternate Rules: Werebear Archetype

So I'm really fond of two classic monster: vampires and werecreatures. I lean more towards werecreatures than the undead. There's something about them I really like. I think it's mostly the whole primal bestial rage kind of thing. I dunno. I've always been a huge fan of werewolves. They're cool. There's something I find noble about wolves. The pack nature of wolves kind of translates to concepts of community and family and whatnot, even though those concepts don't really enter into the why of wolf packs and such. Wolves are predators and stuff, animals. I can't speak to their intelligence and whatnot, but I doubt love of family is what drives them to run in packs and protect their territory. 

Anyway, point: blah blah blah werecreatures are neat. I'd like to add an aspect of them to DnD. They're not really meant to be player options, but there are suggestions in the Monster Manual. But in this instance I'd like to add an aspect of them to the Barbarian class. There are versions of them that exist for that in previous editions. In this edition, I'm going to go with the werebear, rather than werewolf or something else. The reason for this is because Barbarians are berserkers. Berserk is an old word that some believe means bear shirt. Warriors would wade into battle wearing bear hides and stuff believing these bears to be totems that would grant them power. Supposedly. Who knows what the originally origin of the word was and the why and how of it. It's just what I read on Wikipedia. Regardless of it's accuracy, I like it. So I'm going to run with it. 

I'm just going to say right here that I know that both of the existing arcehtypes for the 5th Edition Barbarian cover aspects of the berserker and having a bear as an animal totem. I don't care. They're dumb and don't have what my goal here is. 

So what do werebears have in 5th Edition DnD. Let's look. They can use their action to switch to a Large bear, their original humanoid form, or a Large hybrid bear/humanoid form. They gain immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical non-silver/silvered weapons. They gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) ability checks due to their keen sense of smell. They also gain the multiattack ability to attack with two claws when in bear form. In bear or hybrid form, they can bite for 2d10 damage as well as use their claws for 2d8 damage. It seems likely that the werebear's bear form is based on a brown or polar bear, and their bite deals 2d6 damage and their claws do 1d8. There's also a note in the lycanthrope entry in the Monster Manual for player characters as lycanthropes it lists a few things. The character gains a Strength of 19 and a +1 bonus to AC while in bear or hybrid form. The one thing that the lycanthrope entries in the Monster Manual lacks is the regeneration we frequently see in film and literature. 

Since we're adding this to the Barbarian class, we need to look at the open spots for ability gains from archetype choice for the class. These spots are 3rd level, 6th level, and 10th level.  

So at third level, the entrance into the the Werebear Archetype, we add that when the Barbarian rages his size increases by one step and he takes on the burly, hairy, hybrid bear appearance of the werebear. Increases in size, specifically from the enlarge spell, typically gives the character advantage on Strength ability checks and saving throws (which the Barbarian already has while raging) as well as providing a +1d4 bonus to damage. We're just going to give the Barbarian a bite attack for 1d10 piercing damage and two claw attacks for 1d8 damage. We're also going to give the Barbarian advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks involve smell here because it is a fairly minor ability. Finally, Barbarians normally have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging. We change this to be resistance to non-magical, non-silvered bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. 

At 6th level we add two things: Strength 19 while raging, a +1 bonus to armor class. 

We have two abilities left for our 10th level ability, the regeneration and the immunity to non-magical, non-silvered damage. I think the reason this edition lacks regeneration for lycanthropes is because previous editions did. But they had damage resistance. In previous editions of DnD, it was at some point in some place explained that damage resistance was no always immunity to types of damage, it was also instant regeneration. So when dealing 11 non-magical, non-silvered damage to a werecreature in Pathfinder (they had DR 10/silver), you weren't dealing 1 damage, you were dealing 11 and 10 of it was instantly regenerated. 

Werewolves play a big part in a book series I read a few years back. Silver was still a bane to them, as is traditional. But their regeneration was wondered about and explained by the characters in the book. Werecreatures regularly go through a physical change that breaks and reforms every bone in their body and transmutes human biology into that of a hybrid creature. Regenerating simple damage like cuts and stabs and bullet holes is fairly simple to replace if you can do that every month. It was also explained that this regeneration was not infinite, it was fueled not by magic, but by the creature's energy like any other biological process. So if you can do enough damage to force a werecreature to burn through its fat reserves and caloric intake and whatnot, it'll die. I am particularly fond of this concept. 

So to cover the regeneration of werewolves, I think what we'll do is say that at 10th level, the Barbarian gains the ability to spend one hit dice as a free action every round while raging while his hit points are below their maximum.   

So here is what we have:

3rd Level Abilities

  • The Barbarian gains advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell. 
  • The Barbarian gains physical characteristics of a brown bear/humanoid hybrid while raging.
  • The Barbarian's size increases while raging. 
  • The Barbarian gains claws that deal 1d8 slashing damage and a bite that deals 1d10 piercing damage while raging. A Barbarian may make a bite attack, two claw attacks, a normal weapon attack, or a weapon and a claw attack with an attack action while raging.  
  • The Barbarian's resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging only applies to non-magical, non-silver sources of damage. 

6th Level Abilities
  • The Barbarian's Strength becomes 19 while raging, unless it is already higher. 
  • The Barbarian gains a +1 bonus to armor class while raging. 

10th Level Abilities
  • While raging, the Barbarian may spend one hit dice every round as a free action on his turn to restore 1d12 + his Constitution modifier hit points. 

I'm not sure how balanced it is. I didn't really compare it to the existing archetypes for the Barbarian class. I just kind of slotted stuff in. It might be more appropriate to push the armor bonus to the 3rd level abilities, as it's fairly minor and the werebear's hide wouldn't suddenly be thicker while raging. I dunno. It seems fairly light on oomph, and it all only occurs while raging for the most part, so it does seem kind of lackluster. Not sure. I could perhaps give the non-raging barbarian resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage with penetration by silver and magical weapons, and turn it to immunity while raging, but that seems excessively overpowered at low levels. 

I dunno. I like it, it does exactly what I desired it to do and it doesn't seem to be excessively overpowered. So I think it's a success. Woo!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fendojon Part 4: Altered Spell List

Given that magic works differently and whatnot, we're going to need to alter the spell list of the game. I say spell list instead of spell lists because as has been previously mentioned, all spells are available to all spellcasters.

Let's do an itty bitty little refresh from last week about what magic cannot do: it can't be used to travel to, contact, or summon creatures from other plane (because there are no other planes), it cannot bring back the dead or create or affect undead (because there is no afterlife and there are no undead) on Fendojon, it cannot contact deities or do anything involving holy power or radiant damage (because radiant damage deals damage to the soul with divine power and their are no deities and thus no divine power), it also cannot create life (because). Additionally, divination type spells don't work very well against Buillon and don't work at all on matters that do not take place on Fendojon. This aspect is something that is hard to precisely define because it depends on what the divination affect does.

Just as a reminder, magic in Fendojon isn't permanent.

So let's get started with the list. I'm fallible, so the list is not written in stone. Something is going to slip through the cracks. If it comes up in play and I shut you down, sorry about your luck, but I don't get paid and don't have a team of proofreaders and fact checkers. Also: fuck you for not using common sense you selfish fucking shit-twit of a player.

Damn. I really like that. Fucktwit is one of my favorite curses (second only to fuckhead), but shit-twit has definite appeal. Shitheadtwit? No that doesn't work quite as well. Moving along. Plenty of time for practicing cursing at work tomorrow.

Removed Spells
  • Animate Dead - Creates undead. 
  • Animate Objects - Creates thinking and reasoning life (the objects animated have an Intelligence and Wisdom higher than 0), albeit temporarily. 
  • Astral Projection - There are no planes, thus there is no Astral Plan to go to with this spell.
  • Banishment - There are no other planes to banish creatures to.
  • Blinding Smite - Deals radiant damage, which is not a thing that exists. 
  • Branding Smite - Deals radiant damage, which is not a thing that exists. 
  • Circle of Power - Divine energy is not a thing that exists, therefore it cannot radiate from you.
  • Commune - There are no deities to commune with.
  • Conjure Animals - Fey spirits are not a thing that exists.
  • Conjure Celestial - Celestials are not a thing that exists. 
  • Conjure Elemental - Elementals are not a thing that exists. 
  • Conjure Fey - Similarly to fey spirits, fey are not a thing that exists. 
  • Conjure Minor Elementals - Despite taking up less space, minor elementals, like regular elementals, are not a thing that exists. 
  • Conjure Woodland Beings - Fey creatures are not a thing that exists. 
  • Contact Other Plane - Other planes are not a thing that exists. 
  • Create Undead - Creates undead. 
  • Crusader's Mantle - Radiant damage is not a thing that exists. 
  • Detect Evil and Good - Aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are not things that exist.
  • Dispel Evil and Good - Celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are not things that exist and thus have no enchantments that need to be broken and no planes to return to, because planes are not a thing that exists. 
  • Divination - Gods are not a thing that exists.
  • Divine Favor - Radiant damage is not a thing that exists and gods are not a thing that exist. 
  • Divine Word - There was one word at creation and it was fuckhead. It is not divine and does not have the ability to harm nonexistent celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends. Because they are not things that exist.
  • Dust Devil - Elemental forces are not a thing that exists. 
  • False Life - Necromantic facsimiles of life are not a thing that exists. 
  • Find Steed - Spirits are not a thing...ok they are, but they're a dead thing so they can't be interacted with via magic. Nevermind. It's complicated. Spirits are not a thing that exists to be called forth for pony play.
  • Gate - Other planes are not a thing that exists. 
  • Guardian of Faith - Spectral guardians are not a thing that exists. 
  • Guiding Bolt - Radiant damage is not a thing that exists. 
  • Hallow - Holy and unholy power are not things that exist. 
  • Holy Aura - Divine light is not a thing that exists. 
  • Magic Circle - Celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are not things that exist to be affected. 
  • Nystul's Magic Aura - This spell is not a thing that exists due to the excessive volume of pointlessness it would possess in Fendojon. What would be the point of masking the aura of something when a caster can easily sense the aura of the masking spell?
  • Phantom Steed - Creates life (albeit temporary illusory life). 
  • Planar Ally - Other planes are not a thing that exist to get allies from.
  • Planar Binding - Celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends are not things that exist to be enslaved.
  • Plane Shift - Other planes are not things that exist to be shifted to.
  • Reincarnate - The afterlife is not a place that exists that your soul can be dragged back from into another body.
  • (Untrue) Resurrection - The afterlife is not a place that exists that your soul can be dragged back from.
  • Simulacrum - Creates life (albeit temporary illusory life).
  • Speak With Dead - The afterlife is not a place that exists for the dead to be spoken to in.
  • Spirit Guardians - Spirits are not a thing that exists to be called forth for guardianship.
  • True Resurrection - Similar to the untrue resurrection, the afterlife is not a place that exists that your soul can be dragged back from.
  • Unseen Servant - Creates life.
  • Wish - Fuck off. 
  • Word of Recall - Deities are not a thing that exists, so placed cannot be deemed as sanctuaries to them. 

Spells With Minor Mechanical or Thematic Alterations
  • Blink - Blink still exists and functions as normal, you just don't appear in the Ethereal Plane, you effectively become insubstantial and invisible when you would hop over to the Ethereal Plane, but the spell is unchanged mechanically.
  • Creation - The Shadowfell is not a place that exists, but this spell still functions as described by using magic to create a semi-real illusory object. 
  • Etherealness - Etherealness still exists and functions as normal, you just don't move through the Ethereal Plane, you effectively become insubstantial and invisible, but the spell is unchanged mechanically. 
  • Flame Strike - Deals only fire damage because radiant damage is not a thing that exists. 
  • Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound - This spell is more like a semi-permanent divination sensor tied to a force effect than it is a creation of sentient life, so it stays and functions as is. 
  • Prayer of Healing - Works as described, but it's not a prayer, it's magic. Like cure wounds and healing word. 
  • Revivify - This spell functions as normal, but it doesn't pull your soul back from the afterlife. It's like the magical equivalent of high quality CPR and rapid defibrillation. The spell's school changes from conjuration to evocation. 
  • Shield of Faith - Works as described, but it's more like a shield of force energy and not one composed of faith in a deity. Which are things that don't exist to have faith in.
  • Sacred Flame - Works as described, but deals fire damage. 
  • Sunbeam - Works as described, but deals fire damage. 
  • Sunburst - Works as described, but deals fire damage. 

Spells With Major Mechanical Alterations
  • Find Familiar - The familiar is not a spirit, it is natural animal appropriate to the environment the spell is cast in (rats or dogs in an urban setting, snakes or frogs in a sawmp, etc), and has the appropriate statistics for such a creature. The familiar does not disappear when dropped to 0 hit points, instead it is treated like any other creature that drops to 0 hit points. The familiar cannot be dismissed to a pocket dimension. Whether you are actively using the senses of the familiar or not and while you are able to speak to the familiar telepathically, line of sight for the targets of your spells may use the familiar's position instead of your own, but this does not change line of effect and you remain the origin of the spell. Finally, your familiar may concentrate on one spell for you, allowing you to concentrate on another. This only functions if the familiar is within 100 feet of you and ceases if you or the familiar are rendered unconscious. 

So there is some info on which spells are excluded, which ones are thematically different, and one with some major alterations. Wee. If I add more in the future to the list I'll add the Edit After the Fact label to the post and a note on what I added and when.