Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bound-Spryte Magister

From the inimitable and laudable mind of Contraserrene (see the previous post on the boneshaper fae for another of his contributions):

For an upcoming campaign I've designed a human magister who's replaced his staff with a slave- he keeps a dominated spryte leashed to his wrist with an ensorcelled chain. When he casts spells he's channeling his power through the spryte, who provides the verbal and somatic components.

Mechanically, he can cast his spells without worrying about somatic components (allowing him, along with a feat, to wear armor without a spell failure chance). He also gets an extra pair of dull-but-obedient eyes and ears to watch for stealthy attackers. He also gains additional weaknesses- knock out the spryte or break the control and the magister has problems. He's not doing it for power; he's doing it to show off what a badass he is.

I was thinking of generalizing it into a feat with a less malevolent twist, but I haven't worked out the mechanics for that. It would be closer to a familiar than anything else, I suppose.

Edit: Needless to say, once this magister goes public he'll become something of a priority for the faen community...

Friday, March 21, 2008

A few notes on Trokair

Things I want to get down "on paper" about Trokair that I have been mulling over the last few days:

1. The game really wants a rumor table for players to roll on at the beginning. It helps suggest player-driven courses of inquiry and keeps me from herding them towards a specific encounter or goal (since part of the whole point of Trokair is that it is so versatile and adaptive).

2. Which group the players encounter on their first foray to Trokair depends on which path they take (which, in turn, would be influenced by the rumors they hear). Anyone entering by the shortest path will travel along the trade route and then head north as they pass by the city ruins. That is exactly where the bandits hang out and they are likely to find a few traps or even an ambush along the way. Players who travel through the foothills north of the forest are likely to encounter the orcs (although why you would approach the city ruins from that direction has so far eluded me). Finally, some players will want to trek through the woods from further east than the shortest path (perhaps starting at the Wanderer's Shrine after a tip from Yadri, since the road at that point curls south before coming back north at the shortest point). Such characters have a chance to encounter either/both the bandits or/and the orcs but most likely make it into the city without proper greeting. Their first NPC encounter would likely be with one of the necromancers (since their buildings stand out so much and because they spend more time traversing the sewers than either the orcs or the bandits).

3. Orcs and bandits can be encountered throughout the city ruins, both above ground and in the sewers (and, increasingly unlikely, further below). So too can the necromancers. In fact, some of the bandits or necromancers can be encountered in town between forays into the city (they need to buy stuff and keep up on the rumors too).

4. I really need to play up the intelligence of the humans and some of the orcs. The bandits are not going to throw their lives away on the players' swords after seeing that they are clearly outmatched. At the same time, I need to impress upon the players that having even as few as 5-10 crossbows aimed at you is a death sentence and not an inconvenience. It is only this that makes me feel d20 is not a particularly good system for my vision of Trokair.

5. Jhanzur can seal a door with his channeling (a rebuke undead attempt). A door so sealed requires either a sufficiently strong turn attempt, any old rebuke attempt, or a dispel magic effect (and possibly knock) to open. This allows me to seal off certain areas of the sewers and deeper until the characters are high enough level to overcome the seal or they befriend/negotiate passage with Father Quint.

6. I really need to copy over my notes from Venura before the boards disappear again. I have a lot of stuff there that I really do not want to lose (like the original spelling of Jhanzur's name, which I had to double-check for point 5 (although I did spell it right)).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rainbow Brite's Girlfriend

Not the cartoon Rainbow Brite but my superhero character Rainbow Brite.

A while ago I found a slightly anime wallpaper/desktop image of a cute but rough girl wielding a stylized chainsaw against a hippy-inspired playground wall (bright blue with Beatles-esque cartoon imagery of clashing colors).

She is what I see when I think of Rainbow Brite's girlfriend. She is not the badass, foul-mouthed, ass-kicking machine. She is a sweet but strong girl who loves all the wonderful colors Brian can show her but she also likes hacking into mutant alien robots with a chainsaw.

If it were a television show, I can definitely see her popping up in the middle of a battle against mutant alien robots and cutting them down left and right. Afterwards, the party (or cast, if I am going with the TV metaphor) look at her standing there with a chainsaw, their mouths agape. Then Brian steps over, puts an arm around her, and (either sheepishly or proudly, depending on how things play out with him and the rest prior to her arrival) says, "Guys, this is my girlfriend." Then they kiss.

Later on, Brian describes her:

"I am Rainbow Brite.
She's more like Rainbow Six."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Reign of Steel - Kafka's Androids

So I was searching the web for Reign of Steel information as the urge strikes me every few months when I found a pdf copy of Pyramid magazine from 1996/7 (just before Reign of Steel was released).

One of the cover stories was Designer Notes from the author of Reign of Steel. I decided to pay the $5 for the download. It was then that I discovered the article was a scant 3 or 4 pages. And most of that was just describing what would be in the book, rather than something substantial and additional.

But it did offer a few campaign ideas, one of which resonated strongly with me. It was titled Kafka's Androids and the idea was thus: several AIs worked independently to plant android agents in a human resistance movement. Unfortunately for them, the resistance suffered heavy casualties soon thereafter and only the preternaturally tough android agents survived. So, the party consists entirely of double-agent androids working for separate AIs in what they believe to be a human resistance group. They continue to play their parts, fighting against the zone AI and helping human survivors and resistance, until the opportunity to fulfill their original subterfuge presents itself. Despite their enhanced abilities and senses (including scanners), none are aware that their compatriots are also androids because each was built to remain undetected in a rival AI's territory.

I really, really like this idea. It allows all the players to think they are the special character with the juicy secret that leads to backstabbing.

In my Reign of Steel campaign, they would be part of the Human Liberation Army in zone Vancouver. One of the agents will be Vancouver's own android, sent to gather intelligence on the HLA in its own territory. Another would be Moscow's, sent to keep an eye on Vancouver as well as coordinate with human resistance to divert Vancouver's resources away from the covert operations in Siberia. Both Denver and Mexico City are also direct neighbors of Vancouver and, thus, likely candidates for android spies. However, I see a more human-hating AI with an agent instead of the all-life-hating Mexico City. For example, I see Manila's agent revealing the locations of human hideouts as he travels through the zone, allowing Overmind to send another covert agent in its wake to wipe them out. Or, more accurately, I see Manila's agent as the android equivalent of a homicidal maniac or serial killer, wiping out survivors when he has the chance and allowing the "clean-up crew" to get those he cannot.

Moscow is my favorite idea so far because it just makes a lot of sense but Manila's agent has the strongest visuals in my mind.