Monday, May 27, 2013

The Calendar of Arden

I decided to keep the calendar of Arden close to our own regarding the number of days. There are 364 days in a year. Over the year there are 13 cycles of the moon. Each month is 28 days long, the length of one of the moon's cycles.

The Months
Fireseek (The 1st day of Fireseek is the Winter Solstice and 1st day of winter)
Coldsun
Forstwane
Seeding (8th day of Seeding is the Spring Equinox and 1st day of spring)
Planting
Stormfel
Highsun (15th day of Highsun is the Summer Solstice and 1st day of summer)
Firemoon
Herdsmeet
Harvest (22nd day of Harvest is the Autumn Equinox and 1st day of autumn)
Frostmoon
Wraithwind
Sunfel

The phases of the moon. Each month starts and ends with the New Moon as it spans two nights. So the 1st and 28th day of each month is a new moon. The Full moon falls in the middle of each month spanning the 14th, 15th, and 16th.

The Days of the Week
Sabersday
Moonday
Towerday
Wineday
Tradersday
Firesday
Godsday

The days of the week are based on the weekly schedule of ancient Nehar. Sabersday was the traditional day of drills and review of the militias. Moonday was meant to honor the past and revere the dead. Towerday was the when scouts and patrols would return to report the happenings in the countryside. Wineday was meant to celebrate friend and fellowship. Tradersday was the day when merchants would set up in the bazaars to sell and barter their wares. Firesday as the day of homesteading, meant to make sure the home was safe and prepared for any dangers from the wilds. The final day was Godsday, it was set aside to honor the gods and thank them for their blessings.


OS-Fantasy HR2: Shooting Into Melee


Fantasy Game House Rule #2

Per the standard rules characters cannot shoot into melee combat. On occasion though characters might find a need to or at least want to give it a shot. This was my judgement call at the time and it worked out well enough that we have continued to use it. 

Option 1: Shooting without a penalty. The ranged attacker makes an attack roll and then the GM rolls a die to determine which combatant might be hit. Each person in the melee has an equal chance of being struck by the attack. 

Option 2: Shooting with a -4 penalty. The ranged attacker suffers a -4 to the attack roll. The GM only checks to see if someone other than the desired target is hit when the attack roll is unsuccessful.

Exceptions and Common Sense

If there is a distinct size difference then common sense should be applied. If two human warriors have charged at a large dragon, their friend the archer should still be able to take the shot with no penalty, the same goes for a group of dwarves fighting a stone giant. On the flipside of this, Should four humans be ganging up on a goblin warlord, there should be almost no chance of an archer safely targeting the goblin involved in the melee.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Za'hir: a Custom Class for ACKS


The Za'hir class is a descendant of the sha’ir from the AD&D Al Qadim campaign setting by TSR. It has been altered to fit the Arden campaign setting which uses the Adventurer Conqueror King System. It’s recognizable as a tribute to the original sha’ir but isn’t meant to be a purist’s interpretation, thus the name has been changed.


It isn’t possible to build the Za'hir class strictly by the ACKS Player’s Companion custom class rules, so some liberties must be taken. Any custom class has the potential to be broken, but the powers of the Za'hir run a greater than normal risk of creating issues in play.


Specifically, the Za'hir has access to both arcane and divine magic, has potentially unlimited casting, and can access spells that are of higher level than similar level characters should be able to cast. There are some mitigating factors as well, such as the uncertainty and significant time needed to retrieve a spell, potential backlash when accessing divine magic, and the need to protect their Genling servitor or lose all access to spell retrieval.

Liberties have been taken with the design and will be explained in the last section called “Behind the Curtain.”

Link to the Za'hir as a PDF file
The above link will open the PDF in Google Drive. Select File -> Download to save it to your computer.

Sedra's Fang - Magical Dagger

In the First Age the Serpent God Amun-Ka set out nest after nest of serpents whose only purpose was to poison those who lived in the holy sanctuaries of the Imperial Gods. Mithris and Ashra's young daughter Sedra was revolted by the dark god's attempt to corrupt places of serenity dedicated to peace. The Healing Goddess set about making her first weapon, a dagger. The legend goes on to say that she meant for the dagger was chosen so the serpents could be beheaded while the healing magic of the blade neutralized the poison. Sadly, her natural love and trust in her family meant she was blind to her brother Kydan's true nature when she turned to him for help in making the weapon.

When the pair finished, they had made a powerful relic. A +3 dagger with the ability to neutralize poison. Kydan's trickery though twisted the dagger's nature. It can only neutralize poison three times per day and the person being healed must be stabbed with the dagger taking 1d4+3 points of damage in the process. Each time it is used to neutralize poison the magical bonus is reduced by 1. So, if used once it is reduced to +2, a second use reduces it to +1, and a third use renders it non-magical until the next sunrise.

Stoekarst - The Shield of Nezant

This large steel shield was crafted for a Drakhai knight named Thomin. Its face bears the sigil of Nezant, the coastal god of Battles, Storms, and Fury. According to legend Thomin was once forced by magic to flee in fear from battle. So enraged at the perceived loss of honor forced on him by villainous sorcery, he commissioned this shield to be made by the church of his patron god, Nezant.

The Shield of Nezant, also known as Thomin's Courage or Stoekarst, is a +1 steel shield with a powerful protective enchantment on it. In addition to the basic enchantment of defense, when held its wielder also receives a +1 bonus on all saves vs. spell and spell-like effects, and if the wielder is within the area of affect of blast attacks, such as fireballs, lightning bolts, and dragon's breath, Stoekarst's wielder takes only half damage on a failed save and quarter damage if the save is successful.

The shield does have a drawback though, its wielder may never be the first to retreat from battle if fighting with anyone else. As long as the wielder enters a battle with at least one other ally, one of his allies must withdraw before he is able to. Even if the wielder is targeted by a fear effect or command word, the spell has no effect unless one of Stoekarst's wielder's allies has already retreated from the combat.

Races of Arden: Humans

The most diverse and adaptive of all major races, humans can be found everywhere above ground. from the most frigid northern climes to the extreme heat of the Red Desert. They intermingle with one another the most and while there are deep cultural differences between the various regions, people are judged by their behavior or culture they reflect than surface appearance.

Human Subraces

Drakhai. Legends say the Drakhai were not native to the Northlands. At the end of the First Age the god Amun-Ka wrapped his coils around the Summer Lands, the first home of the Drakhai, dragging it beneath the Elder Sea. Mithris vanquished the serpent-god, but was unable to save the lands of his most loyal servants. So he commanded Pryon to lead the refugees across the still roiling Elder Sea until they made landfall. The Drakhai have made the Northlands since the start of the Second Age, some wandered the lands  finding new homes in the other human cultures while others fought to carve out their own kingdoms to reflect the best of their now lost culture.

The Drakhai have skin tones ranging from tan to olive while their hair runs the full range of pale gold to black, although various shades of brown to ginger-brown are the most common. Their eye color runs the full range although amber and gray are the most commonly seen. The least mixed Drakhai are found along the Palador coast, the large island of Brun, and the western shores of the Caseeri Sea. With the passage of time trace features of the Drakhai can be found in most every grouping of people.

Melani. Hailing from across the southwestern expanse of the Elder Sea, the Melani populate many of the islands found across the sea and along distant eastern coast of Skartha. They worship the same gods as the Drakhai, albeit with their own version of the various major ceremonies and holy days. Their history tells a similar tale to those of the Drakhai, but instead of going east they went west to Skartha and the many islands across the Elder Sea. This makes the Melani uncommon in the Northlands, found primarily in port cities and coastal towns. Those found farther inland or to the north likely ended up there through love or war; either through their own experiences or those of an ancestor.

The Melani have skin tones ranging from light to mid copper, while their hair runs to darker colors of brown to black; even when it grays with age it keeps its darker hue. Their eyes range from a steel-tinged yellow to brown, although on rare occasions green eyes are found among them. The least mixed Melani live on the many islands while those on Skartha have intermixed with people native to that distant continent.

Neharan. The original inhabitants of the central and southern regions of the Northlands, they were driven back by the Drakhai when the refugees first arrived and incursions from Ophiran warlords. The might of the Neharans was at its greatest during the Age of Legend. They ruled many distant lands and intermingled with those they ruled over. When their great empires of magic collapsed the Neharan people were scattered.

The skin tones of the Neharans have a golden-hue and tan very easily. Their eyes are commonly gray-green to green with gray and hazel colors uncommon while the hair of Neharans blue-black to dark brown. There are few unmixed enclaves of Neharans to be found in the Northlands. The courts of the Northern Kingdom, the central lands of Korshada, and the necromancers of Thulivar hold the purest remaining strains of Neharan.

Ophiran. Native to the southern continent, Ophirans have spread out from the jungles and plains south of the Red Desert to the central region of the Northlands. According to legend all Ophirans can trace their lineage back to the eternal city of Ophir whose cornerstone was set in place by Apherion, Emir of the Celestial Court. During the Second Age only Neharan magic was able to keep the ancient Ophiran Warlords lust for conquest in check. While the city-states and minor kingdoms founded by the Warlords fell long ago, the remnants of their towers, walls, and sanctuaries can still be found throughout the Northlands with many of them incorporated into later construction.

The Ophiran race has a bronze-colored complexion ranging from mid-tones resembling copper to very dark tones of deepest brown. The eye colors common to Ophirans are dark brown, black, brown, and amber while their hair color is is black, brown-black, dark-brown, or brown. Their hair also tends to be naturally wavy or curly. The least mixed Ophirans are still found in their birth city of Ophir and among the nomads of the Red Desert.

Shemish. The Shemish came to the Northlands following the path set for them by the god Nevix, Sage of the Celestial Court. The original Shemish homeland is found in the deep jungles south of the Red Desert. During the Age of Legend the Shemish mages learned the secret to crafting golems in the style of the gods from the First Age and built flying castles allowing them to raid and conquer the more primitive tribes of men. At their height the Arch-Magi of the Shemish ruled a half dozen kingdoms in the Northlands. If not for their constant conflict with the Neharan Sorcerers and Drakhai Kings they might have endured deep into the Age of Trials, if not the present age.

The complexion of Shemish range from earthen-oak to near jet in shading while their hair ranges from dark-brown to black to blue-black with a tight natural curl. Their eye color ranges from slate-gray to amber to deep brown. People of mixed Shemish ancestry may range from pale copper to varied shades of Bronze. In the Northlands, the least mixed clusters of Shemish are found in Parshem and on the Anvil Plateau. Beyond that they are primarily found in the jungles south of the Red Desert. Traces of Shemish ancestry can be found in most of the central and southern regions of the Northlands. There are also a surprising number of people in the Northern Kingdom with a small amount of Shemish blood.

Teltec. Few Teltec are found in the Northlands. Their home is across the southern expanse of the Elder Sea located in tropical forests and steep mountainside dominions. Those who make their way to the Northlands are the result of conquest, exploration, or curiosity. Sometimes they are the winners, other times they were taken as extra muscle or guides who were too valuable to let go. Legends tell of a great Teltec Empire whose strength was founded on a caste of slave-warriors trained from birth to serve without question. When the orcs turned on their Neharan masters the Teltec slave-armies were their last resort. 20,000 were brought across the sea on the last of the great flying fortresses ruled by the Nehar, but even the most ruthless Teltec warrior was unable to stop the Age of Legend from ending.

The Teltec race has a dark copper complexion ranging from a ashen-copper to a dark burnt copper shade and their eyes are extremely variable in color although brown and gray are the most common colors found. The hair of the Teltec is a range of pale amber to charcoal black and has a naturally wavy look to it.  The Teltec are the least mixed of all races because of their remote and distant homeland. They are most mixed with Melani because of their close proximity, although a surprising amount of Shemish is found in their bloodlines and reflected in their ancient artwork; hailing back to the Second, and possibly the First, Age.

Vahnir. The Vahnir homeland is the northern climes of the Northlands. Their history is a mixture of savage barbarism and enclaves of petty kingdoms built around a code of family, personal honor, blood debts, and near-reckless bravery. In the First Age, when a handful of mortals ascended to godhood, it was Fafnir, chief shieldman of Wodar who first climbed to the ranks of the divine. They were enslaved for a time by the Neharans during the second age, but the most cunning among the Vahnir deciphered the arcane secrets of the Neharan, stealing the secrets of magic for themselves. At various times throughout all the ages Vahnir warlords have raided the coasts and central regions of the Northlands. Of all Vahnir kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom has endured the longest tracing their royal lineage back to the kingdom's foundation.

The Vahnir race is very fair-skinned, some being almost albino. They have light red, yellow, blond, or platinum blond hair; although on rare occasions some are born with stark blue-black hair.Their hair may be straight, but curly and kinky hair isn't uncommon. Eye colors range from pale blue or violet through deep blue, with gray occasionally popping up. The least mixed groupings of the Vahnir are found in the petty northern kingdoms and the large island of Albens. Because of their history of sail and by extension the traditions of trade and raiding they are known for, many people with Vahnir ancestry can be found along all the coasts of the Northlands and into the central regions.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Races of Arden: Elves

The five major civilized races found in the Northlands are Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Human, and Gnome. None of these five are a single ethnic identity. Within each are multiple "subraces" that further define where their ancestors came from originally. Over the past five ages the human races have scattered across the lands and frequently interbred with one another. There are few places where a pure strain of any ethnicity can be found and humans pay little heed to another human's skin color. It is the behavior of another person that concerns most people. Are they an ally of Chaos? Do they adhere to the strict tenets of Law? Are they truly just a simple merchant trying to sell their wares or a brigand spy scouting out possible victims? These are the things that most people consider when meeting others.

Elf Subraces

Compared to humans, all elves are slight in build appearing both slender and graceful. Even the strongest of elves look deceptively thin when measured against a human of equal power. Their height and weight varies depending on the particular subrace.

Astali. Also known as The Noble Children. Among humans, they simply call themselves High Elves. They are the descendants of the elven clans who served the gods directly in the First Age. They are also the most numerous and friendliest of all elvish subraces. Astali complexions are all very fair but do have some range from a near alabaster with a faintly golden hue to a fair, slightly bronzed appearance. Their hair comes in a wide range of colors including silver, white, blond, golden, and amber, but no darker than a dark ginger. The only hair grown on elves is on their heads and eyebrows. Elves grow no other body hair or beards. Astali stand between 50" and 64" and weigh between  70 and 120 lbs. Astali have the signature pointed ears of elves, but theirs tend to be only the length of human ears and grow close against their heads.

The Astali were the highborn of the elves and the first to make their home along the rivers and coasts, exchanging the dark forests for spring-fed glades and horses for traveling across the plains or stepped terraces constructed along steep hillsides. Where human culture has drifted and shifted as new regions were explored and lands settled, the high elves maintained a similar culture across the Northlands. Elves explain this similarity in their legend of the Dreaming Lands. A magical sylvan land that no longer exists in mortal realms. There are few who know the arcane paths one must traverse to reach it now, but once upon a time all elves traveled there when they slept.  Sharing rumors, stories, their collective history. This connection kept them linked in a very special way throughout the first two ages. It was during the Age of Legend that the Shadow Lord destroyed this special connection, severing the elves from the Dreaming Lands making all elves truly mortal forever more.

Lethlorn. Also known as Children of the Summer. Humans know them as Wood Elves. The second most populous of the elvish races, they are tolerant of others but have little use for dwarves, never fully trusting any race that prefers to live its life solely under stone. Other elves consider Lethlorn to be more boisterous and crass than any other elf. The Lethlorn are also well known for their love of tricks and stunts they love to pull on others; these pranks may be dangerous but are only very rarely potentially lethal in nature. The complexions of Lethlorn take some shading of light bronze to a soft golden-hue with their hair ranging from dark blonde to shades of brown or rust. They are slightly smaller in stature than high elves, ranging in height from 50" to 61" while also having that slight build with a weight range of 68 to 110 lbs. Their ears grow longer than those of high elves and tend to stick out a bit more from their heads.

Wood elf communities live in the thick forests and heavily covered hillsides of the Northlands. The wood elf culture has maintained a strong connection to one another by sharing a communion with their forests and the animals that live along side them. This bonding doesn't replace their lost link to the Dreaming Lands, but it does work to keep them connected in a more subconscious way. And while it doesn't make them immortal, Lethlorn typically live 25% longer than other elves and seem to know on an intuitive level when their forest is in pain or danger.

Nathron. Also known as Children of the Grey. Commonly called Mountain Elves by humans. The Nathron are less numerous than the Astali and Lethlorn, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in arrogance and scheming. Elvish lore traces this subrace back to a great clan of elves that forsook the will of their gods in favor of arcane power. This so angered their divine benefactors the clan had to flee their forest homes seeking refuge high up in the mountains. In time they their mastery of the arcane attracted new powers who saw value in forging a compact with the elusive elves hidden among the tall peaks. During the Age of Legend the Nathron did ally with their elvish brethren in the struggle against the Shadow Lord. While unable to sustain their connection to the Dreaming Lands, even the Astali acknowledge that without the powerful magic of the Nathron the elvish race might have been reduced to the level of humans, if not obliterated all together. This doesn't mean the other elves easily trust the often cruel cunning of the Nathron as their natural genius and long view of things make them master manipulators. For this reason many human lords have sought out the grey elves to serve as advisors at great cost.

The Nathron are the tallest of all elvish races, standing between 54" and 69", but also the most slender weighing in between 70 and 120 lbs. Their complexion reflects their adopted stone homeland ranging from a chalk-tinted ivory to slate gray and hair ranging from white to black through a series of gray tones with silver being the most common and a rare few sporting brilliant golden locks. Grey elves naturally live no longer than high elves, but many of the more powerful become consumed with researching magics to extend their lives to an unnaturally long, sometimes near-immortal, lifespan.   

Gauren. Also known as Children of the Wilding. Humans call them Brier Elves. The Gauren are the most reclusive of the elvish races, preferring to avoid contact with all others; including other elves. They live in small communities of 5 to 30 families in the deepest, darkest, parts of the forest. They are most commonly found in southern forests, on large islands, and deep in secluded valleys. They revere both the elvish gods and powerful fey spirits, often putting the powerful ancient fey first in veneration. Legends say the Gauren once had a grand, beautiful city they called home that was unmatched anywhere in the world. Their seclusion stems back to the time of legend when the Neharans unleashed the orchish menace on the world and the dwarves drove the beastmen from their mountain fastnesses. Turning to their own for aid, the Gauren found themselves swept up in the struggle against the Shadow Lord. With the many clashes going on about them it was their city that paid the ultimate price. In a nine day long battle their majestic city was trapped between four different armies, and thus utterly destroyed. The Gauren were scattered into small bands and have lived that way ever since, refusing to make what they now consider to be the same mistake twice.

Gauren are the shortest and stockiest of the elvish races, standing between 47" and 58" but weighing between 80 and 130 lbs. This stark difference compared to other elves has led to one ribald human ballad attributing the brier elf's origin as the natural outcome of a shared night of passion between a dwarf maiden and a lonely wood elf. Brier elves do not find the ballad particularly humourous. The complexion of gauren are earth tones, ranging from a gold-tinted pale bronze to a dark earthen tone. Their hair is normally some shading of brown to near black, often  with green or blue highlights naturally occuring in it. Their ears are also the longest of all elves with a natural curl in them near the tip.

Duinor. Also known as The Twilight Children. Human legends refer to them as Shadow Elves. The Duinor traced their ancestry back to a clan of Nathron and Astali that mingled together under the shadow of the Dawnspire Peaks at the start of the second age. Unfortunately, legends say the tallest of these peaks was home to the Shadow Lord's tower, Nuirleth. When his dark power rose across the midland forests, the youngest elvish race found themselves directly in the path of the dark lord's quest for power. It was through the Duinor that he first learned the secrets of the Dreaming Lands. The mithril armor of the Duinor's greatest warriors became the source of power used to by the Shadow Lord to craft the feared Twilight Guard. The Duinor were enslaved by the powerful sorcerer, their natures twisted to obey, and later enforce, his harsh will. In the final days of that dark struggle the Duinor were able to break free from their master's yoke and in that moment give their brethren the chance to work the potent rituals needed to bind the Shadow Lord with an echo of his tower in the Dreaming Lands; thereby saving all races of elves. After the conflict ended the Duinor pulled back from the world. Some say they died out, cursed by the Shadow Lord to be unable to have anymore children. Others say they simply retreated from the world, out of a mixture of shame at their dishonor and to avoid retaliation from those who felt the Duinor betrayal was so grievous that it could never be forgiven.

Duinor stand only slightly taller than Astali ranging from 52" to 66" but weighing somewhat more with a range of 85 lbs to 135 lbs with their physiques showing more clearly defined muscle-tone much like that seen in athletic humans. Their skin complexion ranges from a pale, frost-tinted violet to near solid charcoal while their hair is normally a shade of silver to white with a rare occurence of some deep shade of red. Many Duinor are also born with one or more birthmarks of a light purple color that take on an intricate pattern or oddly beautiful styling.

Imladrin. Also known as Children of the Vale. Humans know them as Mithril Elves. In Age of Gods the Imladrin held a special place among the elves, they were the craftsmen the gods turned to when wanting masterwork items created. Their gift when using the forge was without equal. Their ability to seemingly carve anything from wood earned them the highest regard among all elves, but all their skills and natural talents didn't save them from being swept up by the Shadow Lord's lust for conquest. Unlike the other elvish races, the Imladrin turned away from the conflict entirely, attempting to exchange their connection to the Dreaming Lands with that of the Elysium Wilds to maintain their link to immortality. Despite their best efforts the ritual failed and they were the first of the elves to be made wholy mortal. There are ancient elvish ballads that hint of Nathron magic being responsible for the ritual's failure. No elf took the abandonment by the greatest of their craftsmen lightly, sages even speculate that the elven gods turned their backs on these disgraced children.

Few Imladrin now remain in the Northlands, those that do live in small isolated communities hidden in hard to reach mountain valleys. They stand as tall as Nathron and so range from 54" to 69" but are not quite as slender as their grey brethren with weights ranging from 90 to 145 lbs. Their skin tone ranges from a faint rose-bronze tone to a pale bronze while their hair ranges from pale gold to auburn in color. The ears of Inladrin grow short and close to their heads much like those of Astali. Of all elves, Imladrin find it easiest to blend into human society solely on physical appearance when the need arises. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nephani Sea Witch - Custom Class

One of my players came up with a very cool idea for the background of her character. Because the campaign was still in the very early stages of development it also gave me a unique opportunity to immediately build her thoughts into the setting with zero tweaks or changes necessary.

Because we are just coming out of a cycle that had us jumping systems and campaigns every month or so she was very reluctant to spend the money on the ACKS book. And it was understandable. Having her spend $40+ on the book only to have us change games by the time she was holding it in her hand seemed rather rude. To make up for it I put together a booklet for her character. It includes all the class information, the brief bit of description in how it fits into our setting, and since she is a spellcaster I included descriptions of all spells normally found in her repertoire. She was happy with the final result.

Below is the link to the 31 page 8.5" x 5.5" booklet that contains all information to play a sea witch in an ACKS campaign. I am also including a link to something I call "Behind the Curtain". I've had some questions about how I came up with the costs and assignment of powers to develop the character classes. So I am writing up a short page with each class giving a brief breakdown of how the Build Points and Custom Powers are spent along with an even briefer explanation of what  I was thinking.

Nephani Sea Witch: http://conan.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/66315298/Nephani-Sea-Witch.pdf
Behind the Curtain: http://conan.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/66315297/Behind-the-Curtain_Nephani-Sea-Witch.pdf

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Gold Standard, An Equipment Guide

When I started prepping my newest campaign, the World of Arden, I asked my players what all they would like to see. Two things were brought up, the first was the suggestion that we use the Silver Standard instead of the Gold Standard for equipment prices. The second was a request to use pounds instead of stones for calculating encumbrance. I knew making these changes from the rules as written would confuse some players when trying to convert on the fly if using the standard book equipment lists. To remedy that I started work on a small booklet called The Silver Standard

About a week before the game was to start it was suggested that maybe we go ahead and stick to using the gold piece as the default coin rather than shifting to silver. Well, at that point I had all but completed the booklet. So I went through and converted everything back over to gold as the standard while leaving the weight in pounds; that was something they still wanted, so I ended up with The Gold Standard.

Now, this isn't a pure conversion. I added a few sets of armor, changed prices for armor to fit how I pictured it working in my world; namely plate mail and other heavier armors cost more than originally listed in the ACKS book. Also, I made an adjustment to the damage heavy crossbows dealt and the ranges of composite bows. Those were the big changes from the rules as written.

The link below takes you to the 8.5" x 5.5" booklet sized PDF. I've found this size works very nicely for those in my group who use iPads and tablets.


The Gold Standard

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Healing Draughts

Piggybacking on my healing spell house rules I now present a potion shamelessly lifted from the Guardians of the Flame book series written by Joel Rosenberg. I loved the idea when I first read it and have been using these in place of normal healing potions for the past several years.

The most commonly found healing magic in the lands of Arden is the Healing Draught. These waterskins contain enough magical elixir to heal up to 5d4+15 points of damage. This may be used all at once or doled out in increments of 1d4+3. It may be drunk or poured over a wound, but the target receiving the healing magic may not be engaged in combat or any activity involving movement lest the potion miss the target and be wasted.

The waterskins used to store these potions often have the sigil of the priesthood who created it, but these cannot be trusted as dark orders, sinister villains, and psychotic alchemists mix deadly poisons and place them in falsely marked waterskins hoping to trick thieves and invaders into drinking the lethal elixir. 

OS-Fantasy HR1: Healing Magic

Fantasy Game House Rule #1

Healing spells in the various OSR Fantasy games typically work along the lines of cast the spell and roll 1d6+1 to heal. Healing classes in these games have a very limited amount of spells available to them and when the priest needs to heal the badly wounded warrior but rolls only a 1 giving the warrior a massive 2 points worth of healing, everyone can feel a bit frustrated. So I offered a bit of mercy to my groups.

Any spell that heals 1d6+1 instead heals 1d4+3. If it heals just 1d6, then it becomes 1d4+2. And this is cumulative. Further, instead of Cure Serious Wounds being a 4th level spell, I shifted it down to 3rd level and insert Cure Critical Wounds as the 4th level version.

The ACKS version of these spells

Cure Light Wounds*
Range: touch
Level: Divine 1
Duration: instantaneous

With this spell the caster heals 1d4+3 points of damage by laying his hand upon the injured creature. This spell may also be used to cure paralysis, but does not then cure any points of damage. The spell will never increase a creature’s hit points beyond the normal amount.

The reverse form of this spell, cause light wounds, causes 1d4+3 damage to the creature affected by it. A successful attack throw is required in this case.

Undead are affected by this spell and its reverse in opposite fashion; they are injured by  cure light wounds and healed by cause light wounds.

Cure Serious Wounds*
Range: touch
Level: Divine 3
Duration: instantaneous

This spell works exactly like cure light wounds, save that it heals 2d4+4 points of damage, plus 1 point per caster level. The reverse, cause serious wounds, also works exactly like cause light wounds, except that it inflicts 2d4+4 + caster level in damage.

Note: In ACKS clerics are allowed 10 separate spells per level. GMs and Players should work together to figure out which 3rd level spell will be removed from their repertoire to maintain these numbers.

Cure Critical Wounds*
Range: touch
Level: Divine 4
Duration: instantaneous

This spell works exactly like cure light wounds, save that it heals 4d4+8 points of damage, plus 1 point per caster level. The reverse,  cause critical wounds, also works exactly like cause light wounds, except that it inflicts 4d4+8 + caster level in damage. 

The Labyrinth Lord version of these spells

Cure Light Wounds (reversible)
Level: 1
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch

When this spell is cast, the cleric touches one character or creature (or himself) and heals it of 1d4+3 hit points of damage. Alternatively, this spell also cures paralysis, will not heal damage and paralysis in the same casting. This spell cannot grant more hit points than the being’s normal maximum. Cause light wounds (reverse of cure light wounds) causes 1d4+3 hit points of damage to a being if the caster can touch the opponent.
Cure Serious Wounds (reversible)
Level: 3
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch

When this spell is cast, the cleric touches one character or creature (or himself) and heals it of 2d4+6 hit points of damage. This spell cannot grant more hit points than the being’s normal maximum. Cure serious wounds also heals any conditions listed in cure light wounds. Cause serious wounds (reverse of cure serious wounds) causes 2d4+6 hit points of damage to a being if the caster can touch the opponent.

Cure Critical Wounds (reversible)
Level: 4
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch
When this spell is cast, the cleric touches one character or creature (or himself) and heals it of 3d6+9 hit points of damage. This spell cannot grant more hit points than the being's normal maximum. Cure critical wounds also heals any conditions listed in cure light wounds. Cause critical wounds (reverse of cure critical wounds) causes 3d6+9 hit points of damage to a being if the caster can touch the opponent.

Red Rings of the Sanguine Order

Crafted by the necromancers of the Sanguine Order, there are less than a score of these rings in existence. The Red Rings come in three magnitudes of strength. The first is the Apprentice Ring, it bestows a +1 armor class bonus and grants its wearer the ability to cast up to twice their number of first level spells per day. The second is the Journeyman Ring, these bestow a +2 armor class bonus and double the number of both first and second level spells that may be cast in a day. The third and most potent rings were the Master Rings. These bestow a +3 bonus to both armor class and saving throws, and also allows its wearer to double the number of first, second, and third level spells they may cast in a day.

The bonus spells granted by the Red Rings come with a price. The wearer takes 1 hit point of damage per level of bonus spell cast through the ring’s magic. So if someone were wearing a Journeyman Ring and cast 2 additional first level and 2 additional second level spells, the magus would take 6 hit points of damage. 1 for each of the first level spells, and 2 for each of the second level spells. Any damage taken from the ring cannot be healed by any magic until the following sunrise and are subtracted from the mage’s true hit points rather than any bonus hit points the caster may have as a result of a magic spell or effect. Should anyone other than a mage put on the ring, they suffer 2d6 points of damage and the ring falls off.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Aglundir - Magical Broadsword

One suggestion made in ACKS an something I have always been fond of is personalizing magic items. Coming up with unusual or unique items, or at the very least items with an interesting background rather than simply saying its another sword +1 or sword +2. So with that in mind I will be sharing some of the non-standard items I've come up with for our ACKS game.

The legendary +2 Broadsword forged for Groniger Firebrand, scourge of the Northern Kingdom. A beautiful sword whose blade is etched in the stylistic runes of the Vahnir, with a hilt made of  a bone fragment taken from a frost dragon, and a pommel stone made from a carefully polished obsidian sphere. Twice per day when the wielder attempts to strike an enemy he may invoke the additional magic of Aglundir, the ability to heal its wielder by the same amount Aglundir wounds its victim. For example, if the wielder deals 9 points of damage and the victim can only take 7 points before being reduced to zero, then Aglundir’s wielder would heal only 7 points of damage. Should its wielder attempt to use the sword’s magic but fail to hit, the attempt does not count towards the two times per day it can heal.

In addition to the ability to heal, Aglundir will glow on command casting a blue-white light out to a radius of 5' to 15' depending on the desire of its wielder.

The Four Ages of Arden

A Brief Outline

In the Beginning...
Before there was time there was the Cosmic Maelstrom. An infinite storm of chaos composed of all possibilities. Within its primal fury everything was constantly forming and collapsing in on itself. great worlds, powerful beings, the tiniest of mites, all existed for a span both infinite and momentary. It was a universe without Law or Time.

Four great beings came to be and unlike that which came before they managed to endure. These were the Four Elders. Primal beings, each one representing a single elemental aspect. These four watched all around them form and collapse. They began to collect worlds and lesser intelligences for their own amusement. They even crafted their own 'toys' from the elements of the Maelstrom itself. The Four Elders argued over who was the greatest. Unable to come to a decision on their own they made a special child, one who could measure their greatness and give them a fair decision. They called the child Time.

Time drew up a code all had to abide by if her word was to be respected by the Four Elders. The Maelstrom recoiled from her decree because within its strictures Law had been formed. So started the First Age.

The First Age: The Age of Gods

When Time set forth her measuring the Four Elders all that existed within the Maelstrom began to endure. Worlds continued, lesser intelligences, some made by the Elders, others formed from the Chaos, and a few bound into creation by the formation of Law, these things all remained in existence. Some sought purpose, others reveled in their new found life.

Those that came to Arden found the lesser, mortal, forms of life. These eternal powers so terrified and awed the mortals they understood how the Four Elders must feel when in their presence. These became the Gods of Arden. Some helped the mortals, some made new races of mortals, and others delighted in the pain and insanity they could inflict on the mortals.

In time the gods came to blows with one another. Great cataclysmic fights raged across the world. Unimaginable powers were called down as each sought to gain advantage. Some mortals were so instrumental to the battles they became like gods themselves. This was the downfall of all, because when mortals could become like a god, the Goddess Ashra knew she could strike down her own divine children for a perceived betrayal. Gods could die in the mortal realms. Eternal beings became fearful and so were forced back from the world leaving mortals to their own plots. So ended the First Age.

The Second Age: The Age of Legend

With the gods no longer leading openly, mortals had to find their own way. Priests could channel the power of the gods, some becoming vessels for the power of the divine, but that was not the magic that many sought. The greatest scholars of the Nehar and Drakhai sought the secrets of the Maelstrom itself. Through study and ritual they crafted magics to rival the power of the gods. Their creations were a wonder to behold.

Castles sitting on clouds, skyships, massive golems as big as towers, spirits and gen bound into service, they even created new races to do their bidding, fight their battles. It was a time of glory and terror with power limited only by the morality of the mortals who wielded it. Ancient Neharan texts claim it was the barbaric Vahnir that started their downfall. The humble writings of Drakhai servants claimed it was the fury of the dragons. The Vahnir sagas blame the obscene hunger of the Nehar.

What was known was that the goblins and hobgoblins were freed from the vaults the gods had locked them away in after their arrival from across the heavens. These beastmen ravaged all they could touch. The cruel orc armies were inspired by the wild fierceness of the goblins and turned on their Neharan Overlords. The Vahnir used their own potent magics to raze any Drakhai and Nehar city they could reach to loot for its wealth and secrets.

In the final battles the sun rose and set twice in a single day, firestorms burned across the lands, flying castles fell to the ground. The fabric of the universe had been damaged. The essence of magic had begun to seep back into the Maelstrom, leaving the world forever.

The Third Age: The Age of Trials

With the civilizations of mortals laid waste and cruel beastmen, barbaric humans, and savage dwarves raiding everything their eyes fell upon, a great darkness came up in the world. Undead powers sought to transform Arden into a neverending afterlife in the mortal realms.

So damaged was the world, even the gods were hesitant to let too much of their power loose again before Arden could heal. The unholy powers of Chaos took this opportunity to try and claim the world for themselves. Pain and suffering were the norm. Elf, dwarf, and human all suffered under this deadly yoke.

It was only when the greatest of the undead powers fell that men began to regain some footing. Alliances among good lords, or at least those who weren't completely corrupted by Chaos, let civilization to begin to grow again. With the crowning of the First Emperor of Kedmere the Age of Trials was brought to an end.

The Fourth Age: The Age of Crowns

Kedmere was not ruled by the overly cruel, but its lords were also not overly kind. Its power stretched far and wide in the Northlands. Claiming lands of ancient Nehar, the ruined cities of the Drakhai, even the children of the Vahnir were unable to withstand the encroachment of civilization along their borderlands.

Over 900 years have passed since the first emeror was crowned. The great empire is a shadow of its former self. Independent kingdoms forged from rebelling territories, new monarchies claiming kingdoms free and clear beyond its old borders, and the ever present lords beyond the seas serve as a reminder how close the Northlands are to being thrown into brutal wars again.

Only the monstrous remnants of the Age of Trials and the relics and bestial children of ancient ages serve as incentive for the lords to not openly slaughter one another in a cycle of unending death.

But this tense time and the wild lands that occupy it offer glorious opportunity for those brave souls who are willing to seek adventure and fortune. A crown to call their own. Dominion over their own monstrous creations, or simply enough wealth to keep princes in the adventurer's pocket, if they can survive the dangers waiting to be uncovered.

The World of Arden: An ACKS Campaign

I recently started a new campaign using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS for short). It is a retro-clone of sorts based off the B/X D&D game of long ago. It is something of a sandbox styled setting using elements suggested by my players to help come up with a shared world. I will be posting up various elements of it expanding on the world as my players continue to explore the setting. These are the characters my players chose to start with.

The Characters

Sparrow, the Assassin. An aspirant to an order of spies and killers who revere the Goddess Ashra, chief mother of the Imperial Gods. She is incredible strong and quick, but her sharp tongue and harsh temperament drives most away. Sparrow learned her craft acquiring bodies for a master necromancer.

Corwynn, the Necromancer. Apprentice to the master Sparrow worked for. He grew up in a small town ruled by a necromantic order and sees the world through a lens that defines success by power acquired. Already a skilled caster in his own right, Corwynn is always looking for remnants of ancient Nehar and the dark secrets they mastered in the First Age.

Malia, the Sea Witch. A young girl barely fourteen. She was driven out of her village after she survived drowning. The fishing boat she was on sank taking all souls save hers. The Elder of the Deep spared her. Transforming the young girl into a servant of his power. She wandered aimlessly until she met the bard Eomen. He found her divine gifts useful on the dangerous roads of the Northlands.

Eomen, the Bard. A wandering scholar and minstrel, he learned his craft well and aspires to one day attend the the Five Towers in Teladra and be admitted into their prestigious brotherhood. To gain admittance without sponsorship of a lord he has taken to seeking out lost treasures from the First and Second ages. Once he has something truly wondrous and unmasks his story, he knows admittance is guaranteed. 

 Pyr, the Dwarven Invader. A friend of Eomen from his first days on the road. Pyr cut his teeth on battle. Sadly the vault he called home gained supremacy over orcish tribes and rival clans causing an extended period of peace. Unaccustomed to a lack of violence Pyr set out to become a mercenary or adventurer, whichever might put more coin in his pocket. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A second introduction.

Hey there. My name is Phillip Morris, Phil for short. And no, I'm not related to the tobacco company in case you were wondering; although that kind of money would make my life a lot easier.

I started playing my first game - Basic Dungeons & Dragons 30 years ago. It was exchanged in just a couple of months for AD&D. That, along with the occasional Car Wars excursion, were my go-to games throughout all of middle school and most of high school. Along the way I picked up and quite enjoyed a plethora of games - GURPS, Vampire: The Masquerade, played some Champions, Mage: The Ascension, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a variety of other games to varying degrees. Oh, and I also discovered Star Wars from West End Games. Oh how I loved that game. I fell hard for that awesome D6 system. It should be noted that I am almost always GM when I play. Most of my friends prefer to play and I love to get a chance to let the stories, settings,and ideas in my head burst out, so I am fine with running games.

Like Ray said in the previous post, the 3rd edition game just got to be too much of a hassle for me. I had managed to run multiple campaigns in it up into the teens levels, but the effort vs. reward for myself just wasn't there. So we shifted to "Classic D&D". First with the Rules Cyclopedia, later into Labyrinth Lord (LL) and at the moment Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS). We still dabble and play many other games too, but at the moment that is the one we are having some fun.

Also, the awesomeness of the D6 system is what led Ray and I to develop Mini Six. A rules lite, streamlined version of the Open-D6 system. It has given us a chance to experiment and play in many different settings with minimal prep work. I hope to share my various oddball ideas, half-baked, fully formed, and barely more than scratch notes here. Hopefully anyone who stumbles across this place will find something they find useful or at least mildly entertaining.

That's all at the moment. Introductions are always a hard thing.

Introductions...

I'm Danny Nolan. My friends call me Ray. Elsewhere around the internet I'm known as one half of AntiPaladin Games, a cottage-industry game publisher or vanity press. Our only claim to minor league gamer fame is Mini Six, a pared-down version of the OpenD6 rules.

This blog isn't specifically about APG stuff, though it might creep in from time to time. If you're one of our dozens of fans, you might wonder when we're going to move forward with a new print edition of Mini Six. The short answer for this blog is when it's ready. Mini Six updates will always be announced over at the AntiPaladin Games website first, and possibly not at all over here.

My experience with gaming is a common story. I started playing D&D with the red box set back in the 80s. I  played every major edition of that game except for the old white box (1974) version and the 4th edition. Along the way I spent time with the usual suspects of Gurps, Champions second and third editions, Vampire, TSR Marvel (Faserip), a bit of Top Secret and James Bond, each incarnation of the D6 Star Wars games, a little Rifts, lots of Shadowrun second and third editions, and a smattering of the post-FASA Star Trek games.

Like many of the gamers I know, I've read more RPGs than I'll ever get around to playing. I've run 2nd edition and 3rd edition D&D campaigns for my friends, and most recently I ran a few games of Stars Without Number, but I've spent most of my time as a player. I tend to be a fairly involved player though. I have the urge to offer ideas and house rules or even to create for games that I have no intention of ever running for real.*

My first love and the one I always return to is Dungeons and Dragons and the games that it spawned through the OSR, though I wouldn't describe myself as an edition zealot of any stripe. 3rd edition seemed to be too much work in our groups on the prep side, and 4th edition just appeared to be way too much of what doesn't appeal to me... I haven't played at a table that used miniatures or a battlemap in twenty years, and so much of what I saw seemed to only make sense in that context. 3rd edition had a bit of that but it was fairly simple to handwave that away, but 4th edition looked to me and my friends that it would break outside of the context of knowing strict ranges, attack zones, detailed timekeeping and lots of small details.

So we "retroverted" our campaign to classic D&D (rules cyclopedia) rules. That didn't quite do the job perfectly, so we started houseruling... Around that time the OSR started to creep into our games. We didn't change the kind of stories we told in our games, we just changed the rules.

The games we play rarely seemed to have much in common with the the "raid the dungeon, take the gold, and you'll go through a dozen characters before the end of the adventure" mold, so our stories don't reflect that particular OSR value, but we converted to Labyrinth Lord and recently we've switched over to the Adventurer Conqueror King System with some house rules. That brings us up to today.

*Our other go to game is Mini Six, which we've been playing in some form or another for a decade now. Cowboys, vampires, Battlestar Galactica, a heavily modified version set in the Car Wars universe, gritty super heroes, etc.

In the real world I'm a tech lab rat, and pretty shy. I lurk at a few forums under the screen name Rosencrantz, but I'll never be much of a poster. I attend Gen Con every year, and it would be easiest to describe me as an indoorsy kid all grown up.