Sunday, July 27, 2014

Retro Phaze Elf Magic

The race of Elves, like the Dryads, was an addition to the Dungeon Siege universe with the release of the second game. Each race has their hub of activity in a forest, but the Elves are not strongly linked to the weald. For a look into the game designer's lore, the following is snipped from the DS2 manual:

Elves have an ability to access the collective unconscious, a window into the dream-life of the world they're in. This super-sensory ability grows stronger when Elves are in close proximity to one another. They can cast illusions drawn from the dream world, which are especially terrifying. Their powers come with a dangerous side effect - Elves can lose themselves in the altered state, severing their connection with the real world. Partially as a result of these visions, the Elves have their own code of conduct.

Oddly, no illusion magic is provided in the game! So, I decided to make a special spell list for "Shadow Elves". I pulled well known ones from the OSR Alteration & Illusion schools, increasing the list count to hint at their mastery of the arcane. The accordant format applies, with spells ranging from 1 to 6 MP and having a bonus MP effect.

This is the last data PCs need to know; additional layouts (like Treasure) for the GM will complete this hack.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1988: Hangout Name Generator

Roll 2D20 and let everyone know where the action is! Use it for a club, trashy band, or independent movie title. If it still sounds too normal, add in a foreign colloquialism like MAXI.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1988: Super Synth Soundtrack!

A game of late 80's action needs some background audio, and that means analog electronics in the classic John Carpenter style! Fortunately, many artists have returned to the "synth wave" genre, and created tracks perfect for high octane adventuring. My mix is zipped on G-Docs, just click on the link:

1. THUNDERCLAW - "Street Brawler"
2. SFERRO - "The Overload"
3. AIRWOLF [TV] - "Sins of the Past"
4. FIGHTING VIPERS [SEGA] - "Viper Venom"
5. NOWTRO - "After Dark"
6. SFERRO - "High Tech Low Life"
7. CARTRIDGE 1987 - "Chase"
8. CONTRA [KONAMI] - "Fortress of Flame"
9. NEON VANDAL - "Shadowdancer"
10. THUNDERCLAW - "Magicc"
11. POWERGLOVE - "Blood Dragon Theme"
12. BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA - "Into the Spirit Path"
13. NIGHTCRAWLER - "Diary of a Serial Killer"
14. ICZER ONE - "Kikai Seimeitai"
15. BETAMAXX - "Fighting Off Your Demons"
16. WARD IZ - "Life Force"
17. HARDBOILED - "Overture"
18. COMMANDO - "Prologue/Main Title"
19. DYNATRON - "Stars of the Night"
20. GROOVEWORTHY - "PantherForce V"
21. GOST - "Dead End"
22. POWERGLOVE - "Death of a Cyborg"
23. EZO - "I Walk Alone"

Depending on player constitution,  I suppose you could just tune in a streaming 80's channel, but that seems dangerous.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Retro Phaze Nature Magic

In arcade and computer games, the spell casters that don't focus on destructive spells aren't totally denied offensive capabilities. Often they will command elements of the storm, unleash plant powers, and direct summoned beasts. With additional support powers like healing, a Nature Mage can survive longer than "glass cannon" types that limp away from every big fight. When the adventure boils down to "kill or be killed", you don't want to lose (or irritate) the pointy-hat with the rez spell.

In Aranna, the beer-brewing Dryads are creations of wild Nature magic, along with their forest minions, the Bracken. The Shadow Elves only favor the deep woods because they prefer stately seclusion. Lightning and Ice evocations inflict damage almost on par with the fire school. The Bracken minions may not look as eerie as skeletons, but they can meld into a single treant-like golem. Like the fire users, the Nature sorcerer can summon a troll. The ice troll's boosted power is more interesting though; it can transfer frost damage to opponents that land strikes with limbs or metal weapons.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bronze Age Sorcery - Animal Companion

Many of the OSR or D20 compatible games I read that focus on primal, low-fantasy settings abandon the common catalog of Vancian magics. Recent tomes I've looked at include Slaine D20 and Spears Of Dawn, both with completely rebuilt spell casting. Working without much structure save a Mana point cost is refreshing. For my Celtiberian Druid, my (wip) runic witchcraft looks like this:

BLOOD MAGIC: Stanched Blood (2MP) - effect reduces damage taken. Renewed Blood (4MP) - reduced damage and stamina regeneration for a time. Enchanted Blood (6MP) - player cannot be harmed by natural weapons for a time.

EVIL EYE: Vexing Eye (2MP) - target is harried. Daunting Eye (4MP) - target is terrified by caster. Ruling Eye (6MP) - target can be compelled by caster.

HEXES OF BADB: Baffling Hex (2MP) - target acts irrationally. Dreaming Hex (4MP) - target must resist urge to sleep. Thirsting Hex (6MP) - target wracked with growing thirst.

MENHIR MAGIC: Witch Sight (2MP) - caster gains ability to see magic, poison, and blood. Witch Stone (4MP) - enchanted rock gives direction, hides item, or passes message. Witch Gate (6MP) - caster can teleport short distance or rest an entire night in one hour.

SEASONAL EVOCATION: (4MP?) - If vernal, a stormy blast of rain & lightning is created. If hibernal, the storm is snow & freezing ice.

CU FAOIL MAGIC: Wolf Tongue (2MP) - simple communication with dogs. Wolf Gaze (4MP) - Clairvoyance with dog minions. Wolf Spirit (6MP) - slain dog returns as ghost to aid master till sundown.

Regarding war dogs of the time, the animals of the British Isles may not have been the same ones bred in northern Iberia. A general internet search points toward the Irish Wolfhound, yet some say the dogs brought West into Spanish lands were Alaunts. The latter were bulkier canines with wide skulls like mastiffs. I'm not sure the appearance matters when you are talking about a hunting dog that weighs 130 pounds, attacks for a solid D4 damage...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Character Classes in Celtic Cantabria

This year the re-release of Acirema Dungeon caught my eye, a game with a very quick method for ability generation. Firstly, the game only requires stats for Stamina and Mana. These scores are determined with one roll of 8 six siders, which are then sorted from highest to lowest result. Next, the resulting set is split in different ways depending on a player's class. I'm not a math minded guy, but this seems to be a good mix of point control and random rolls.

In Acirema, the class with the most Stamina is a zombie, which seems an odd choice. I started to think about super-warriors, and how the ancient berserker could fill the role better. In particular, I liked how a fictional hero like Slaine (from the 2000 AD comic) exhibits a battle fury that enhances stamina beyond normal levels. Changing the zombie to a raging warrior led to this current class listing (in Celtiberian style):

The "Twisted Warrior" only uses a bit of Mana to initiate his change to a savage brute. He cannot wear body armor, since the transformation alters his flesh (think TV HULK). His bonus skill is in unarmed combat; the Guerrero Retorcido is the only class that does damage this way.

The "Bandit" has a mix of adventuring abilities, like spotting traps. At the moment, his bonus skill improves combat with a favored weapon. With enough Mana for a little magic, the Ladron is a class with interesting options.

The Druida replaces the Wizard class, and moves some of his allotted dice. Currently, the Druid's special skill is an improved chance at speaking with monsters. The forthcoming spell list is divided into arcane effects that cost more Mana depending on the result. For example, a hex that confuses a target costs less than one inflicting dire thirst. Druids can wear armor, but some weapons are restricted.

Acirema has a couple more classes, but they don't seem too unique, relying on certain weapons or singular tricks. I suppose I could add a spearman or beastmaster character, if I could get the name translated.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Retro Phaze Combat Magic

Characters that focus their development on combat sorcery learn a potent mix of fire and necromantic skills. These are the common spells, one for each tier of Mana cost (1-6). The page entry also notes where the school is, who runs it, and what rare treasures can be found there. I've also compiled a few objectives that students can pursue, like recovering wizard artifacts or hunting certain monsters.

Since Wizards use Mana points, most spells can be "supercharged" with an extra point spent at casting. For example, the normal LEECH LIFE attack steals 2D of HP, with the caster gaining the lower of the die results. With a boost point of Mana, the vampiric HP gain is the better of the two die results, and if the target resists he still takes minor damage.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Extra GLAM: 1988 Ladies

For the record, the women of the 1980's radiated nova-levels of GLAM. On the rank chart I established for the dudes, only guys occupy the base level. Every chick is fine in some way, and your mullet bozo of a PC gains her level if paired up. This secret power has something to do with ritual tools like the hairdryer and vial of nail polish...maybe the Mini-Uzi tucked in a purse. Yet, there is a level of GLAM above the middle tier, so I've prepared two sets of Hollywood visualizations. The "girls next door" are only a few adventures away from max GLAM though, and won't wait around for an undersized Cruise-clone to kick down the door.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Equipment for Retro Phaze PCs

Player gear in this game is uncomplicated, which makes it easy to amend. I'm offering starting kits of non-combat items, items unique to race, and the chance to win bids for rare pets. Some base prices were altered, making armor cheaper and one-use magic supplies reasonably more expensive.

For melee fights, I'm ruling that two handed weapons strike for their dice result and double Attribute damage. Retro Phaze doesn't offer items that hit for more than 6 points, so I'm using this to balance the difference between wielding a dagger or a 7 foot pole-arm. For scribing scrolls, Wizards will have to bottle ink made from monster entrails on a regular basis.

The free starting item for Humans is a tireless pack mule, in honor of the best companion in the Dungeon Siege computer game. Shadow Elves receive a one Mana scroll with a random spell. Half-Giants are presented with a shield of reptile hide, from differing monsters depending on which clan they are from. Lastly, the Dryad adventuresses venture forth carrying a unique "light" crossbow that can be fired every round.

Here are some comic sketches I drew of the DS NPCs, which I uploaded long ago on my former blog. Dwarves never joined the list of player options, they were always hirelings.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Retro Player Sheet Designs

As a graphic designer, I have a mortal foe in unreadable character sheets that look like chemistry book tables. The 5E sample sheets are on the web, and all I can say is that they are dull, yet less crappy than 99% of 3.5E ones.

I always make my own, since I customize rules. The ones I'm working on for RETRO PHAZE can be seen below. The video game I'm adapting, Dungeon Siege, uses mana, so there are expanding spell point pools for both class types. This computer game relied on the heroes' encounter actions to determine how powerful of a Fighter or Mage they would be. The maximum level in the mod is nine; pets and item crafting will be involved.