Monday, June 30, 2014

The Timelord

Why not an anime image for them? Found this
by searching for "chronos" on Google Image
Search. Anime haters can bite me.
Another class designed for AD&D 1st edition or compatible games.

The Timelord

A timelord character is a member of an elite order found among a particular human nation. The inhabitants of that nation have lost any magical and psionic abilities (though not the ability to connect with the gods or perform illusion-type magic) in the Middle Sea world.

Selection for membership in the Order of Timelords occurs by a competition undertaken by interested 15 year old youths of that nation. In the selection process, all youths of intelligence less than 15 are weeded out. Due to the high prerequisite, timelords do not gain bonuses to experience points. Upon selection, the youths begin an intensive program of training, diet, and exercise designed to unlock the hidden chronal powers found only among humans of that nation.

When attacking or making saves, timelords use the thief tables. Weapon proficiencies and nonproficiency penalties are also as thieves, but timelords may select from any weapon as fighters may. Because it interferes with their chronal powers, timelords do not wear metal armor or use metal shields (weapons do not interfere with those powers because of their size and shape, though the DM should feel free to disallow any weapons that create a wide mass of metal over a portion of the timelord's body, such as sword-gloves, cestuses, or the like). Timelords may use any magic item usable by all classes, plus any item which affects time, such as a staff of withering or a phylactery of long years. A timelord will start play at an age of 18 plus 1d4 years. Timelords start play with 3d6x10 gold pieces.

In addition to hit points and other normal benefits, at each new level a timelord gains chronal energy, which is what allows them to use their powers. At each level, a timelord gains a number of chronal energy points equal to the new level. Thus, a timelord has 1 chronal energy at level 1, 3 at level 2, 6 at level 3, and so on. This is summarized on the experience point chart:

Experience Points
Hit Dice (d6)
Level Title
Chronal Energy
Timelord (10th level)
Timelord (11th level)

300,000 experience points per level for each additional level beyond the 11th. Timelords gain 1 hit point per level after the 10th.

As timelords gain in levels, they gain new abilities. Each ability is usable upon reaching the level equal to the ability’s level, and costs a number of chronal energy points equal to the level of the ability. Chronal energy recovers at a rate of a number of points per 12 hours equal to the timelord’s level, but can only regenerate chronal energy when not using any of the time powers. If the target of a timelord’s powers is unwilling, they are allowed a saving throw vs. wands to avoid the effects. The manipulations of time are not magical effects, and so are not affected by anti-magical measures, though the bonus to saves of, e.g., a ring of protection or similar protective item or ability does apply.

The chronal powers are as follows:

Level One

Hasten Individual – Range 6” (may affect self), duration 1d20+10 melee rounds. Recipient, who must be of size S or M, moves 50% faster, gaining three attacks per two rounds if a better ability is not already possessed. This effect does not age the recipient.

Slow Individual – Range 6”, duration three turns. One creature of size S or M may be affected. Target moves at half speed and attacks only every other melee round.

Move Self Forward In Time – The timelord disappears, then reappears some number of rounds later in the same place. The timelord may use other powers while in transit through time, change weapons, or other reasonably quick actions, but must reappear in the same place. Whatever the timelord is carrying, even another person, travels along. When the power is activated, the timelord specifies how many rounds forward to move, with a maximum of two rounds per level of the timelord.

Move Object Forward In Time – Range 6”, maximum duration 1 turn per level of the timelord. A non-living object not in very close contact with a living being (for example, a person’s armor may not be affected, though an object they are carrying might – if the object could be easily dropped, it might be affected) moves forward in time. Note that magic items are treated as “living” for this purpose. There is a maximum volume of one cubic foot per level of the timelord.

See Past Of A Place – The timelord can see the events occurring at some point in the past, as if the events were occurring. The timelord will be able to see anything as if present in the location at the time, and must move around to change viewpoints. The timelord may see events that occurred as much as five days per level ago, and may view up to 12 hours per level per use. The timelord may choose to accelerate the events viewed up to 24 times normal speed (so that 12 hours pass by in a half-hour of viewing time), but the DM may rule that some details pass by too quickly to notice when accelerated. If the viewed time catches up to actual time, the vision ends immediately.

See Past Of A Person – Similar to See Past Of A Place, the timelord may witness events that occurred to a person in the past. This requires touching the person for the entire duration of the vision, but the person need not be alive at the time.

Suspend Animation – This allows timelords to suspend their life functions as the psionic discipline of the same name, up to a week per experience level.

Level Three

Hasten Group – This is similar to the Hasten Individual ability, but may affect up to 2-16 creatures of size S or M within 1” of the timelord.

Speed Individual – Range 6” (may affect the timelord), duration 1d20+10 melee rounds. Recipient of size S or M may move 100% faster, including the gain of two attacks per round if that ability is not already possessed. When the duration expires, the recipient is exhausted for an equal length of time, but is not aged.

Slow Monster – Similar to Slow Individual, but may affect a creature of any size.

Slow Group – Similar to Slow Individual, but may affect 2-12 creatures of size S or M within 6” of the timelord.

Move Own Group Forward In Time – Up to one creature of size S or M within 1” of the timelord moves forward in time, up to two rounds per level of the timelord. Only willing creatures may so travel.

See Possible Future Of A Place – The timelord may see a possible future that will occur in the place they occupy, as if present at that time. The maximum distance into the future is a number of days equal to the timelord’s level minus two, and the maximum duration is one-twelfth of that distance (or two hours per day ahead that could be seen). The vision may be accelerated as with See Past Of A Place. The DM will describe the most likely scene, but events could easily change it. The future is very much in flux for timelords.

Age Non-Living Matter – Any matter or substance which is not currently alive may be aged through the application of this power. The timelord must be within 1” of the item to be affected. Material of up to 10 lbs per level of the timelord may be aged by up to 10 years per level of the timelord. This will ruin most food, cloth items, and so on, and even metal will be corroded somewhat.

Move Enemy Forward In Time – Range 1”. The timelord may transport a single enemy target up to one round per level of the timelord forward in time. The target reappears at the appointed time completely unaware that any time has passed.

Level Five

Speed Group – This ability is similar to Speed Individual, but the timelord may move affect up to 2-16 beings of size S or M within 1”.

Slow Group Of Monsters – This is similar to Slow Monster, but a group of targets up to 2-12 of any size may be affected.

Move Enemy Group Forward In Time – An ability that is similar to Move Enemy Forward In Time, but a number of targets up to the timelord’s level may be affected. All targets must be within 1” of the target point, which must be within 1” of the timelord. Thus, targets up to 2” from the timelord may potentially be affected. Note that all of the targets are allowed saving throws.

See Possible Future Of A Person – This ability is similar to See Possible Future Of A Place, but the timelord must touch the person (who must be alive), and can see up to the timelord’s level minus four days into the future for a duration of two hours times the timelord’s level minus four.

Age Non-Human Living Matter – Range 1”. The timelord can age any creature which is not vulnerable to the Charm Person spell, by a maximum of 2½ years per level of the timelord. The target will be aged physcially but not mentally by this power.

Level Seven

Move Spell Forward In Time – Range 1”. The timelord may move a spell with a physical manifestation (such as a Wall or a Fireball) forward in time. Fast-acting spells like Fireball or Magic Missile must be spells that the timelord has seen before. The spell gets a saving throw as though it were a magic-user of the level of the spell’s caster. The maximum interval that the spell may be sent forward is equal to the timelord’s level divided by the level of the spell (rounded down).

Partial Time Stop – This acts as the ninth level magic-user spell Time Stop, but only one creature is affected and that creature is allowed a saving throw.

Age Humanoid – Range 1”. This is similar to Age Non-Human Living Matter, but may affect any living creature.

Alter Past – Range 2”. The timelord is able to attempt to alter some action which occurred in the immediately preceding round. This usually allows the re-roll of one roll, such as a saving throw, attack roll, damage die, or the like. When a foe might be affected negatively by this power, the foe is allowed a saving throw.

Temporal Stasis – Range 1”. This has the same effect as the ninth level magic-user spell of the same name.

Level Eight

Time Stop – This is similar to the ninth level magic-user spell of the same name, but a saving throw is allowed for targets in the affected area.

Superage – Range 1”. By aging the target at a tremendously accelerated rate, this ability has the same effect as a Disintegrate spell. However, the effect can be reversed by another timelord using the reversed form of this same ability.

Level Ten

Time Stop Group – This has the effect of the magic-user spell Time Stop, but the timelord may select what targets are to be affected. The ability may affect up to one target per level of the timelord, and all affected creatures must be within a range of 1”. Affected targets are allowed a saving throw.

Reversible Powers – The four aging powers, Age Non-Living Matter, Age Non-Human Living Matter, Age Humanoid, and Superage, have reversed forms which allow a timelord to undo aging done by a timelord (only). The reversed abilities cannot reverse natural aging or aging caused by a ghost or a staff of withering, for example.

(Based on the NPC class in Dragon #65 by Lew Pulsipher, with some changes to make it more compatible with the Middle Sea world, along with some general editing and minor ability changes and clarifications.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Musing On Preferences

I do this on occasion, get all navel-gazy. You should feel free to pass it by if you aren't interested in other people's thoughts about what they like and want out of gaming.

In part, I do this because I really want to figure out what would be the perfect game for me at the gaming table. It's not going to be easy, since I have conflicting gaming desires. I like GURPS, for example, due to its flexibility and ability to model events with precision and detail. I like RuneQuest because of its clean, simple systems and feel of gritty heroic fantasy. I like D&D (in all of its variants, from AD&D to the Arcanum, Palladium RPG 1st edition, ACKS, Swords & Wizardry, Adventures Dark and Deep, and so on for hours) because of the ease of preparation compared to most other games, its particular feel of heroic, fantastic action, and its placement as a sort of "common language" of gaming. I like Traveller because of its relative simplicity and mundane feel (which is a boon, as it helps to highlight the more unusual material in a way that heightens the effect). I could go on, listing the things I like about Flashing Blades, Villains & Vigilantes, Top Secret, and so on, but I think that the idea is illustrated. The thing is, the detail and precision of GURPS is not a good fit with the clean simplicity of RuneQuest and neither fits well with the quick ease of D&D prepwork, the mundanity of Traveller does not compare well with the heroic fantasy of D&D, and so on.

So, I need to filter everything down. I can't have the world, so I need to figure out what part of it is most important to me. Right now, I'll think specifically about what I like and dislike about D&D.

As I said, I love the quick prep. To create a character, it's a simple matter of roll 6 stats, select a class, roll hit points, roll money, select equipment, and go. Magic-using classes take a touch longer because they require spell selection, and some versions of D&D require a bit more involvement what with selecting skills/feats/kits/whatever, but it's all still faster than choosing where to spend point (GURPS), figuring out skills (RQ), or generating a full career-to-date (Traveller). So, I love that. I don't like that characters are then limited to actions defined by their character class, so that (by most versions of the rules) a Paladin can't climb up a cliffside or even learn to do so, a Thief can't pray to the gods, a Cleric can't experiment with summoning demons, a Magic-User can't learn how to swing a sword well, a Druid doesn't know how to track animals and can't learn how, and so on. Obviously, individual Referees (and some versions of D&D) have their own way of handling those cases, but here I'm talking about the main structure of a rules system.

So, what is a character class? It seems to be a package of abilities that cluster around each other, so that a Fighter knows how to use more different weapon types than any other class, learns how to fight at the best available ability, has the best available hit points (representing the ability to defend in combat, endurance, and so on, like the long swordfights in old swashbuckler films), gets the best category of extra attacks, and all of the other things that are directly involved in combat in D&D rules. But that isn't quite right, because the Cleric isn't really centered on worshiping the gods, instead having those abilities, plus the second-best category of fighting skills. Still, D&D character classes cluster around four different archetypes: divine miracles, combat, magic spells, and skilled abilities. There are some classes that cross over between those categories (the Ranger has combat, magic spells, a bit of divine miracles, and skilled abilities, for example, or the Monk includes combat, skilled abilities, and something like focused magic spells that are not entirely unlike divine miracles), but they seem to me to simply prove the point.

So, the main distinction of abilities is along those four lines. Dividing skills any further seems like splitting hairs, for the most part. Perhaps we could consider that the "skilled abilities" category should be directed at specialties, so that one skilled person is a burglar, while another is a wilderness scout, and a third is a sailor. But why should a character have abilities only from one category? As we noted, a number of subclasses in D&D cross over between these main categories. One of my favorite games (deliberately not mentioned above) is Fantasy Wargaming, at least in concept. It handled the matter by simply giving every character a level in each of the categories (though it compressed the "combat" and "skill" categories into one "Combat/Adventuring" level), effectively meaning that there were only four "skills" in the game. It also gave six areas of special talent, to cover specific adventuring focuses such as climbing, stealing, or tracking, which follows my musing on specialties.

I really like the way that specialties of that sort are handled in Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In that game, a character of the appropriate class starts with all of the specialties at default values, which are appropriate to use with characters not of the class as well, and then adds a number of points to them, giving a result that shows how many chances in six the character will succeed with using that specialty. Similarly, it is only with Fighter levels in that game that a character becomes better at fighting. Those ideas would be easy to incorporate into a game that otherwise structures character abilities on the Fantasy Wargaming model.

This sketch so far keeps the game within my goal of quick and easy prep. A character can be rolled up in roughly the same amount of time that it takes to roll up any other D&D version's characters. The steps are actually easier at start, since every character will start out with the same "character class" selections, having a level (or 0-level, which is what Fantasy Wargaming does) in each of the main ability areas. As a result, there's no need to divide up ability points for the skilled ability specialties, no need to pick spells (since every character will have some facility with spells, albeit very weakly - those who wish to specialize will quickly pick up spell mastery and such). Or, we could alternately say that each character chooses one category to give one level, with the others starting at level 0. That would require a slight bit more work, with fighters choosing a fighting style (other characters would be allowed to wait until they finally achieve 1st level combat ability), magicians choosing initial spell mastery and perhaps a magical style (again, other characters would wait until they reach 1st level magic use), and so on.

The most difficult part, so far, is figuring out how a character divides up experience between the four levels. Presumably, combat ability would go up by defeating foes in combat, skill ability might rise by the acquisition of treasure, magic ability increase by various magic-related goals, and miraculous ability by pious actions.

To determine how the abilities will work in detail, I need to figure out specifically what sort of tone I want. Wuxia/chanbara/effects-laden heroics? Gritty low fantasy? High fantasy? Manapunk? Something else? To do that, probably the easiest way to go is to create an Appendix N of sorts for such a heartbreaker project (I guess that it's a project now). I want my Appendix N to include both books and movies, since we have a wide enough range of fantasy film now to make that effort worthwhile. I'll do that in a different post, though. For now, I'll just pick two items to give a quick idea of the feel I want: Robert E. Howard's Conan stories and the movie Dragonslayer. That seems to indicate that I want a gritty low fantasy default setting, with magic that is mostly in a ritual mode and powerful, or quickly used and on a par with physical action.

I actually want the magic to more closely resemble a slightly fantasy version of what real-world magicians have claimed to be able to do, but not reaching into the stratosphere of the more outlandish, mythic magic of some of the wilder epics (like the Kalevala, say). The magic should look more like magic in the Lord of the Rings books with a perhaps more medieval tone, and less like the Dungeons & Dragons movie. Maybe I want to include the exotic rites found in Howard's Conan stories too, but you can actually find similar things in the grimoires of the medieval era into the 19th century (and even some of the more outré 20th and 21st century grimoires like the Voudon Gnostic Workbook and its related texts; not that I know yet if I'm going to directly draw on those late sources).

A not-unrelated question is what level of abstraction to choose for combat. Should it be the D&D-like abstraction of vast quantities of hit points being worn away until someone scores a telling blow? Or should it be the detail of GURPS, where every blow is described in detail by rules parameters and resolved? Or (more likely) somewhere in between those two extremes? That needs thought.

How should religion work? I think that I would most like it if the system could handle monotheist, polytheist, and abstract mysticism equally well. While the system in Fantasy Wargaming works reasonably well, it requires a lot of fiddly tracking of fluctuating numbers. I want to handle that with less constant attention and Referee fiat. I'm still not sure of the best way to go about that, so I will have to think about it for a while. I suspect that treating piety as the experience system for the religious level is the best way to go, with sins (or spiritual pollution or blasphemy, for those religions without a general concept of "sin") throwing a block in the way of appealing to God or the gods for favor and assistance. Further, there could be a system of mysticism related to this, in which a character gains spiritual insight instead of piety and learns to perform amazing feats (which would be something like the Monks of D&D). I'll have to think about matters like conversion from one religious type to another, practicing more than one religion, and so on. I'll also need to think about the differences between devotional action, theurgy, mysticism, belief, and other approaches to religious/spiritual power.

This took a turn from my original intention, wandering through the practical matter of design where I had originally just wanted to think about the nature of my preferences in a more abstract sense. Ah, well. It seems good enough.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Goth of the Week

I haven't been able to track down any information about this lovely lady, except that the photo is pinned on Pinterest as an example of "green hair". Judging by the file name attached to the photo on some sites, it seems like it is probably a private photo that made the jump to public reposting.

Edit to add: Hamel™ is a better investigator than I am, and seems to have found her. It seems to be Desiree Stinho, who has many more lovely photos as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

AD&D Demographic Data Part II

Serves me right for wanting to get something out there before I really let it settle. While watching the World Cup matches, I figured out a reasonably quick and easy way to properly adjust the percentage chances for each of the ID# categories in the last post. So, here is the adjusted data (after the cut). All that needs to be done now is to divide each ID#'s percentage among the classes included in that group. This could be done in various ways, which is why I am leaving it as the raw data. One could simply divide the percentage evenly among the classes, or one could weight the classes and divide the percentage according to that weight. One could even make a priority list and give the full percentage to whichever class comes highest in priority. The details will vary by setting.

Note that when that division of percentages is finished, there should be a bit left over. That covers the "hopeless characters", who don't qualify for any class.

Without further ado, here's the corrected data, now just listed as ID#, classes, raw stat minimums of the category, and then the odds of that category occurring (multiply by 100 to get actual % chance):

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AD&D Demographic Data

I like simulation. I like it when the game rules imply things about the setting, or vice versa. One of the D&D assumptions is that random people are "rolled up" by the 3d6 in order method. PCs might be different, but that doesn't mean that the setting as a whole is.

When working on figuring out what the rules imply about the setting, one thing I noticed is that there isn't a good, reliable accounting of how many people in a given setting are members of which character classes. Gary Gygax seems to have just made something up for his table in the DMG, and no one has bothered to improve much on that intuitive method.

But we know some things. According to the DMG, 1 person in 100 has a chance of having a character class. Of those 1%, though, there will be different numbers of randomly-rolled characters who qualify for each of the various classes.

Now, sure, we can just make something up and deal with that. That works, and is fine. But if we had a better way available… why not use it?

All of the numbers involved have a mathematical probability. It just takes a lot of effort to work out if done manually (trust me, that's how I started to approach this). A computer program, though, can work through all of the possibilities in just minutes or seconds. So I wrote one. Here's the raw data regarding the basic AD&D 1E classes (excepting the Bard, which is more a matter of choice; suffice it to say that Bards are extraordinarily rare in AD&D 1E). This set of data does not include the UA classes at all, though if someone requests it I could probably put that together. It also doesn't include anything about demihumans. I haven't consolidated that information yet, and there are some characteristic maximums to deal with that I would have to write into the program, not to mention the characteristic modifiers that change probabilities around.

The data is in the following format: an ID#, the name of the classes that qualify under that ID#'s set of characteristics, and the characteristics themselves, then on the next line it gives the probability of a random roll of 3d6 in order qualifying for that set of statistics, and finally on the last lines a list of the ID#s that qualify for the ID#, but include one or more stats that are higher (all of the probabilities of those ID#s are included in the probability listed, so they have to be subtracted out). My purpose for all of this is to work out what classes a given set of stats can qualify for, subtracting the probabilities of the higher sets from that of the lower sets that they also qualify for. Then, the probability of each set of stats will be divided among the set of classes. I'm also thinking about ways to modify the software to do that work for me, but I don't know if I'll be able to do that with my level of programming skill.

I don't plan to do this myself for the raw AD&D classes (unless I can work out how best to code it), so I'm giving that data out for someone who might be interested in doing so. There are only 76 sets that qualify for different groups of classes in AD&D, so it probably wouldn't take all that long to work through them. The data I'm working with includes over 500 distinct ID#s, divided into three main groups to cover the three main culture groups so far in the Middle Sea world, so I have my work cut out for me. It's nowhere near as imposing as it was before I wrote this program, though.

Data after the cut. Remember that it is the raw data as described above. I am also willing to take any set of classes and stat requirements and do the same for others, since the software is easily modified for just about anything. It won't easily handle very complex things, though, like requirements that one of several stats be above a value, but the other stats of that set only need to be of a lower value (like the Psionicist, which requires a 10 in Int, Wis, and Cha, but at least one must be 16, which particular case I did work out for my own use, but requires more modification of the basic program than just plugging in a set of classes). Drop me a line if you want this kind of data.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Dragonlord

An optional character class for AD&D 1st edition and compatible games.

The Dragonlord

Dragonlords are a subclass of fighter found only among the Daling people of the Middle Sea world. A dragonlord must have a strength of at least 12, an intelligence and wisdom of at least 15 each, and constitution and charisma scores of no less than 10 each. Dragonlords do not gain bonus experience due to high prerequisites. Since alignment is handled quite differently in the Middle Sea world, alignment is meaningless, but in other games dragonlords could be of any alignment, usually coming to match that of their bonded dragon. Prospective dragonlords apply for training during the midsummer festival of their sixteenth year, undergoing difficult tests of skill, knowledge, wisdom, strength, and character, and only about one in 250 or less is finally selected for training.

Upon selection, the dragonlord aspirant is placed in a specially prepared cave with several dragon eggs, all ready to hatch, with several other new aspirants. As the eggs hatch, the newborn dragons imprint on the young men and women and the new dragonlords become squires (1st level dragonlords). To find out which type of dragon imprints on the new squire, roll 1d10: 1 – black, 2 – blue, 3 – brass, 4 – bronze, 5 – copper, 6 – gold, 7 – green, 8 – red, 9 – silver, 10 – white. The size of the newborn dragon should be determined as normal, and they will age as normal for dragons. All such bonded dragons are capable of speech (and, therefore, spellcasting when appropriate). Because of this bonding ritual, no one may change class and become a dragonlord later in life.

To determine starting age, roll 1d4 and add it to 16. The bonded dragon will be of an age equal to the d4 roll.

Weapon proficiencies for dragonlords are exactly as rangers. That is, choose three weapons at first level and an additional weapon every third level thereafter (3, 6, 9, etc). The dragonlord nonproficiency penalty is -2, as with other fighter classes. Note that dragonlords concentrate on missile weapons and cavalry weapons like lances, but will sometimes learn shorter melee weapons as a backup. However, dragonlords may choose any weapons and armor, just as other fighters, except that dragonlords may not take proficiency in any gunpowder weapons.

The primary benefit of a dragonlord is the presence of the bonded dragon. Dragons, however, do not spend all their time with their riders, preferring to go off and visit their draconic family, spend time alone, and so on. This is especially the case while the dragon is young and the dragonlord inexperienced. The base chance of a dragon being with the dragonlord is rolled at the beginning of each week, and varies by season as follows:

Spring 45%
Summer 50%
Autumn 30%
Winter 10%

In addition, dragons will always leave their riders during the weeks of the four high holidays of the dragons, the solstices and equinoxes.

There are several modifiers to the base chance of the presence of the dragon. These are given below:

Negative factors

Dragonlord is level 1 -30%
Dragonlord is level 2 -20%
Dragonlord is level 3 -10%
Bad weather (storms, etc) -10%
Dragon wounded (at least 50% of hit points remaining) -20%
Dragon wounded severely (less than 50% of hit points) -50%
Birth or death in draconic family -10%
Dragon ill (disease, etc) -40%
Dragon not present previous week -10%

Positive factors

Rider finds 1000gp+ or magic item +20%
Birth or death in rider’s family +05%
Rider wounded or ill +15%
Dragon present previous week +05%

Experience Points
Hit Dice (d10)
Level Title
Dragon (Rider’s Surname)

300,000 experience points per level for each additional level beyond the 12th. Dragonlords gain 3 hit points per level after the 9th.

A dragonlord’s multiple attacks follow the standard fighter progression. They get 1/1 from levels 1-6, 3/2 from levels 7-12, and 2/1 at levels 13+ with any thrusting or striking weapon. In addition, as with other fighter types, dragonlords may make a number of attacks equal to their level in a round of combat in which they are fighting monsters of 1 hit die or less or non-exceptional (0-level) humans.

As they increase in level, dragonlords are given more responsibility for command. At level 5, a dragonlord can lead a two-dragon Company. At level 7, a dragonlord is allowed to command a four-dragon Wing. At level 8, the dragonlord may be placed in command of a twelve-dragon Flight (consisting of three Wings). At level 10, the dragonlord is in command of one of the largest dragon units, the Division, consisting of five Flights, or 60 dragons and their riders. The DM can work out the details of these followers, but keep in mind that the higher the level of command the dragonlord can exercise, the more responsibility the dragonlord has to the Daling military command.

If the bonded dragon dies, a dragonlord may search out and petition a dragon that once had a bond with a dragonlord but whose dragonlord has died and attempt to form a new bond. The bond can never be as strong as the original, however, and the dragon will subtract 10% from all checks for presence. The details of this quest are up to the DM.

Special Note: In the Middle Sea campaign, "wounds" are not represented by hit point damage, so the details of a dragon being wounded or severely wounded will be slightly different, but I included the hit point values for the purposes of importing the class to other games (and because I haven't finalized the wounding rules for the Middle Sea campaign yet).

(This class was modeled closely on the class presented in the RoleAids supplement Dragons, by Cory Glaberson, but has been modified to better fit the Middle Sea world, and to suit my own tastes.)

On an unrelated matter, after much consideration and examination of Stonehell Dungeon, I have decided that players may choose nonhuman characters, but may only choose those nonhuman races listed in the Players Handbook, and level limits will be enforced. Whether I will use the strict limits in the PH or the slightly looser limits in Unearthed Arcana remains to be seen. Of the new classes (some of which I will be presenting over the next couple of weeks), dragonlords and timelords may only be human (and the latter may only be from a particular sub-branch of humanity), outdoorsmen may be human, half-orc, or half-elven, and psionicists may be half-elves. The witch class is still in flux, though I expect that I will write my own version, based on the class as presented in Dragon magazine and Timothy Brannan's The Witch. When I finish it, I will probably present it here. Other classes are taken directly from items that are currently in publication: specifically, bards and mountebanks are from Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark and Deep (or from his supplement for AD&D, A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore). Those classes will have the racial limits given in those products.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Still More Things…

…that I know about the Middle Sea world.

A rough map of the campaign area. Click to
make bigger. Stonehell might actually be a touch
closer to Hexspire than it is on this map.
The campaign city is Hexspire. It is the largest city of the sorcerer-kings, located at the end of a bay located at the north end of the Giantspine Peninsula, protected from ocean storms by a fairly large harbor island. Being the only major port of the sorcerer-kings outside of the Grand Gulf, a great deal of sea trade passes through Hexspire, and a goodly amount of land trade comes through as well. The city is ruled by a mage whose leadership can best be described as "indifferent". He prefers to leave matters largely to his council of three advisors. Nestled in the foothills on the northern side of the mountains to the north of Hexspire lies Stonehell Dungeon, a prison founded by a previous, mad sorcerer-king of Hexspire. Dug largely by the prisoners themselves, Stonehell is a deep, extensive set of tunnels today. Adventurers come from all over the world for the privilege of delving into Stonehell to recover what treasures they can find, contending with the mad descendents of the original prisoners.

There are cloud castles that float through the skies, mostly inhabited by giants or dragons. There is one cloud city (actually a large village of about 750 inhabitants) populated by winged humans who call themselves "Falinesha", which means "the winged people". The Falinesha of the city in the clouds follow a form of the Denialist Path, though they have no monks. Other Falinesha elsewhere follow the local religion or participate in polytheist sects.

There are roving bands of traveling folk who call themselves "Jrusteli", but are usually called less pleasant names by others. They typically have painted wagons and travel in caravans. They are known for their magical prowess and divinatory skill, but also for being unrepentent thieves. How much of their reputation is actually true is another matter. They are polytheists, but will generally adopt, or pretend to adopt, the religion of whatever region they are in.

In the high mountain country southeast of the salt sea, there lives a group of humans who have lost the ability to perform normal magic (though clerical/druidic magic and illusion are still available to them; they are completely incapable of developing psionic abilities), but gained the occasional ability to manipulate time. These people have a group of elite warriors known as Timelords, which are described in an article in Dragon magazine #65. Religiously, they tend toward the Denialist Path, but there is a strong minority of Fatalists among them. They are staunch allies of the Kzaddich.

On the mountain on the western shore of the Dead Lake (the small body of water to the east of the Long Sea) stands an inaccessible castle. This is the headquarters of a demon-worshiping assassin cult known as the Kindred of Juiblex. In addition to normal men, fighters, magic-users, and thieves, there are known to be at least a few dozen spies (the name for the assassin class in the Middle Sea world) dedicated to assassination. The cult is known to sacrifice humans, and are rumored to practice cannibalism. Cult members are mostly scattered through the cities in the northern parts of the sorcerer-kings' city-states, including Hexspire.

The younger sons of the warrior aristocracy of the Kurai (including the Ardhrikai, Ilyanai, and Dessai), who do not stand to inherit, sometimes join a wolf cult. These are roaming bands of warrior youths that live off the land (and a bit of banditry). They are tolerated because they provide a layer of protection for the borders with no effort from the rulers. It is not uncommon for these cults to be led by a Ranger. Some of the wolf cults take the concept literally, deliberately infecting initiates with lycanthropy - they are usually werewolves, but werebears and wereboars are not uncommon. Members of the wolf cults, especially the lycathropic ones, are prized warriors among the Kurai, though they are treated carefully due to their unpredictability. The Banavai have outlawed the practice, as they consider it to be a perversion of the sacred form granted to humanity by the Four Elemental Gods (or so they say; more likely, it is because the wolf cults never accepted the sacred inviolability of the Tetradic Monasteries).

The Murai have a central temple located on the shores of the small salt sea in their lands. The temple is headed by the Grand Bishop, who maintains control through a hierarchy of Bishops, down to the heads of families who are considered "Family Bishops". In addition to this main hierarchy, there is a system of sending young people on a period of wandering through the various branches, and sometimes out to foreign lands. Those wandering the branches learn more about their people and act to provide enforcement of the laws and moral teachings of the Radiants from a perspective that is not tied in with the social structure of the branch. Those traveling to outside lands have a commission to spread the teachings of the Radiant Church. Most young people will spend time in each of these pursuits. During this period, they wear distinctive clothing, consisting of a patchwork poncho over their normal clothing. The poncho is always made by the women of the family from which the young person comes, and serves as a constant reminder of the love and support given to them by their family.

In addition to the Bishops, Murai branches are run by a (nominally) secular authority known as the Reeve. The branch Reeve has normal authority to enforce the laws of the land and can send a representative, or go himself, to the Great Moot. The Great Moot is where legislation occurs, with the approval of the temple. The youths on their Wander act on the authority of the Temple, and can usually overrule the Reeve if they can support their reasoning. Failing to support their reason for overruling the Reeve results in immediate ending of their Wander and lasting disgrace.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Talking With The Gods

One of the things that we learn by analyzing AD&D is that gods really don't have a close involvement with most of their followers, even clerics. For instance, according to the DMG, gods are only directly involved in giving clerics 6th and 7th level spells, with lower level spells being given by either servitors (for 3rd to 5th level spells), which is to say angels and the like, or the cleric's own granted authority (for 1st and 2nd level spells). See p. 38. In addition, cleric spells of the 6th level are only granted to clerics with a Wisdom of 17, and of 7th level to clerics with a Wisdom of 18. So, gods only ever regularly talk directly with high level clerics (11th or higher level) who have high Wisdom scores.

But how many clerics is that? Using my handy-dandy spreadsheet, I can see that there are 2755* clerics of the appropriate level in a world of 250 million people (a reasonable estimate of world population in the medieval era). This assumes clerics being five times more common than in the standard AD&D world, too (5% of people in the Middle Sea world are capable of having a class and level, compared to 1% according to the DMG, p. 35). Assuming that clerics are as affected by Wisdom for their survival as Fighters are by Strength, then we can see by this comment on Delta's blog that a cleric of high level should be rolled as though they have a minimum Wisdom of 15. Looking at my charts, that seems to indicate a 20% chance of Wisdom 17-18. So, in standard AD&D world, there are around 551 clerics worldwide of the appropriate level, and only about 110 who also have the necessary Wisdom to talk regularly and directly with their god. Divide that 110 by the number of gods who might have 11th+ level clerical followers, and you can see that the gods are not really all that busy with direct involvement in the affairs of the world - and even fewer when one takes into account the fact that not every cleric is going to need to recover such high level spells every day.

*Note! I am currently changing my method of calculating the percentage of population who become each class, using a much more intensive method of analysis, so this number will likely vary somewhat. Still, the basic number should be close enough for an estimate.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Goth Of The Week

Goth of the Week!

This is my friend, Pandora Moore, who runs Pandora's Productions. She makes goth and geek clothing (check out her line of ties), and it's good, quality stuff.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Things I Know…

The most recent version of the map of
the Middle Sea world. It covers an area
about 1000 mi. east-west and
1500 mi. north-south.
…about the Middle Sea world.

Characters with a class and level are somewhat more common in the Middle Sea world than in straight AD&D 1E. Rather than 1% of the population, a full 5% have the potential to gain levels.

Some few, elite Dalings learn to bond with dragons and become Dragonlords (new character class, only available to Dalings). Dragonlords are similar to Fighters, using the Ranger experience chart, but get the advantage of having their bonded dragon present, on average, around a third of the time (varying by season and affected by circumstances). Their ability requirements are S12 I15 W15 D6 Co10 Ch10. There is about 1 Dragonlord per roughly 17,000 population of the Dales. (I first noted this in a comment on the first post in this series.)

Dalings are polytheists, and their religious life centers on worship of dragons.

The people who live in the mountains along the coast of the Kurai lands are known as Ardhrikai (ARD-hreek-eye). They are similar in many ways to the Kurai, but are insular and clannish. Similarly, the people who live on the islands are known as Ilyanai (IL-yuhn-eye), and they also keep to themselves for the most part. The people to the south (previously called "Southlanders") are known as the Dessai (DESS-eye).

The knights of the Order of St. Raphael were formed to protect pilgrims to the great mountain (I still don't know the name of it) near which their Grand Chapter Keep was erected. The mountain is a holy place to the Radiant Church, as it was the place where the Murai Prophet was granted the Golden Tablets while in his time of Exile, but also to the Tetradic Church, and is the site of several polytheist cults (who say that the peak is the home of some of the greatest gods). The knights of St. Raphael will protect any pilgrims, not just Radiant ones.

The High Keep of the Grand Chapter of the Order of St. Raphael is arranged so that sunrise on the winter solstice (or, more accurately, a couple of days after the astronomical solstice, when the sunrise is no longer moving south) is directly over the holy peak, visible through the windows behind the altar in the chapel.

The crescent of flat land to the southeast of the Kurai is forested in the west, shading to drier land in the east and south. The people who live there are known as the Banavai (BAHN-uhv-eye). They are similar to the Kurai, but have enthusiastically adopted a form of the Tetradic Church, though the religion has developed a unique form among the isolated Banavai, based around monastic centers. Despite this, the people retain a close connection to the faery peoples. (The Banavai pragmatically adopted the Tetradic faith to counter the Radiant Church to the south.) The dry dales to the north, but not those to the east or south, of the Banavai are inhabited by Dalings.

It's not currently placed on the map, but south of the Banavai is a small salt sea. The people in that area are known as the Murai. Murai baronies are called "branches".

The Tetradic Church originated among the city-states of the sorcerer-kings to the south. The Fatalist religion began on the isle of Apalach beyond the Middle Sea. The Denialists originated in the feudal kingdoms along the southeast coast of the continent. The Radiant Church began with the Prophet of the Murai, and that people are fanatical Radiants. Despite their fanaticism, they are tolerant of polytheists (including Dalings), except among the Murai themselves. That tolerance largely carries over to other Radiants, though among the Radiants outside of the Murai there is a slowly growing current of opposition to polytheism as "demon worship". Since some polytheists of the Middle Sea world do, in fact, worship demons, they sort of have a point. But because not all polytheists do, it is a form of bigotry. From the Radiant perspective, though, it is difficult to be certain, and caution is necessary. They argue that even the polytheists can't know for certain if a being claiming to be a god is actually a polymorphed demon. This attitude originates among the Fatalists, who are adamantly anti-polytheist (they are more tolerant of other Clerical religions, and even of the Denialists, however).

The southern peninsula enclosing the Long Sea is littered with buccaneer/pirate towns. The sorcerer-kings try to maintain order in the area, but a widespread attitude along the peninsula of disregard for authorities makes this difficult. For this reason, the region is often called the Wild Coast. Many famous adventurers come from the region. There are also inland villages.

The largest city of the sorcerer-kings is located on the ocean coast, just south of the Wild Coast. It is somewhat more rough-and-tumble than the other cities of the sorcerer-kings, but is certainly more ordered than the towns of the Wild Coast.

It may be possible that the Middle Sea world is actually flat. Certainly, some people think that it is.

The long island to the northwest of the Kurai is known as Dragon Isle. This is because there are a number of dragons who live on it, and it is the home of the Dragon Court. It is the most sacred place in the world to the Dalings. Humans are not allowed to live there, though a few Dalings live on the smaller island to the south of it. There are ten dragon rulers on the Dragon Isle, each unique. They are: Platinum, Chromatic, Steel, Grey, Mithril, Purple, Electrum, Yellow, Quicksilver, and Orange. Each has a name, as well, although I only know the names of the first four right now (Bahamut, Tiamat, Ahi, and Rahab).

After the ape-men, the most common nonhuman tribes are the dog-heads (gnolls).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Things I Know…

A high-resolution version of the west coast map
of the Middle Sea world
…about the Middle Sea world. In no particular order.

I know that it isn't the Earth, even though the geography is similar to North America submerged under 1000 ft of water.

South of the Middle Sea lies the Isle of Dread and the Thanegioth Archipelago.

Somewhere, probably near the western coast, lies Stonehell Dungeon. Right now, I am guessing that it is in the mountains at the south end of the southern peninsula that encloses the Long Sea.

In the deep desert there is a step pyramid that holds the Lost City.

Long ago, a traveler between the worlds known as the Gann set up a series of protective Gates in the mountains hundreds of miles to the east of the Long Sea.

PCs may only be human, but there are nonhuman intelligent species in the world.

There may be underground kingdoms, possibly occupying a continent-spanning network of tunnels. There are definitely layers of sewers, tunnels, and ruins underneath the larger cities.

On the southern peninsula that encloses the Long Sea stands an independent inn called the Inn of the Four Winds. Many mysterious rumors are attached to this place. It is known to be frequented by pirates, thieves, adventurers, and other disreputable sorts.

There are known to be kingdoms of fishmen, apparently of several different sorts. Some of these kingdoms send raiding parties against the coastal towns.

The faery races are mysterious, and no one really knows what they want. Faery races include elves, sprites and pixies, goblins, and the like. They are ruled by powerful, seemingly immortal beings. Druids and some polytheist cults seem to have some sort of connection with them.

There are a number of nonhuman species which are said to have come from the stars, including the Mind Flayers, the Ropers, the Otyughs, the Neogi (and their Umber Hulk slaves), the Mi-go, the Grell, and so on. No one knows how they could have come from the stars, though, and there are many contradictory legends about that matter.

In the wastes, in places where humans find it too difficult to live, roving bands of ape-men (similar to the orcs of some worlds, and similar to the subhumans of the film Fire and Ice) eke out a primitive existence and plot the downfall of human civilizations.

On the plain to the northwest of the tall peak about 50-60 miles north of the Long Sea stands a huge castle called the High Keep of the Grand Chapter of the Order of St. Raphael, a Holy Order of the Radiant Church. The locals call it "Great Stoney". It acts to protect travelers on the road between the towns surrounding the Long Sea and the northern lands.

In the northern and western parts of the Great Plains that lie to the east of the great mountain ranges, tribes of Mongol-like centaurs, Davrai (horse- and bull-riding barbarian nomads with minotaur allies), and a few other tribal groups stake out territories and live their nomadic existences. In the southern and coastal parts lie a number of small feudal kingdoms.

The lands around the Triple Seas are largely populated by the Kurai people, who are semi-tribal in organization. A good number of their "toutas", which other peoples might call baronies, are currently loyal to the High King Anguish Wolf-Head, but not all of them are. The Kurai send trading expeditions down the coast to the Long Sea, but some of those expeditions are little more than excuses for raiding parties.

To the north and east of the Kurai lands are a number of large valleys known as the Dales. The Dalings are a hardy, independent race who trade with the Kurai and with the nomad tribes to the east of the mountains.

The lands at the northern end of the Great Gulf in the south and down its shores are a series of city-states, each ruled by a sorcerer-king. They are allied in a precarious network of promises and treaties, but occasional hostilities break out between different city-states.

The desert between the Long Sea and the mountains far to the east are the range of nomads and dervishes, as well as ape-men.

It is said that dragons make their homes in the mountains. This is probably true.

The year is exactly 360 days long. The Moon travels from full phase to full phase in 29.5 days.

The peoples of the Apalach Island and other lands surrounding the Middle Sea are seasoned seafarers. So are the peoples who live along most of the shores of the Long Sea.

The northern peninsula enclosing the Long Sea is populated by a tribal people called the Kesh. They don't have much to do with other peoples if they can help it. Pirates tend to ignore them, as they do not have a lot of wealth. They are a polytheist people who mainly worship local spirits and entities.

The lands south of the Kurai are known as the Southlands. They are dominated by independent farmsteads and cattle ranches. The area is a central location of faery activity.