Sunday, August 31, 2014

OSR Version of MMORPG Mesmer Class

While working on my Retro Phaze interpretation of the Dungeon Siege PC game series, I though I'd try a hack from my other favorite digital adventure realm, the old MMO Guild Wars. Guild Wars is a game with simple attributes but thousands of skill combinations. Of the game's magic using primaries, the Mesmer class is by far the most unique. The Mesmer fights by placing damaging effects upon targets that are unleashed or worsen when their skills are activated. Targets simply die from being denied actions or degenerated over the encounter duration. Since the class I played was a healer, one of my sorry jobs was to dispel Mesmer hexes without dying from one myself. At high levels, a good Mesmer on your team was worth more than a "nuker" or other damage dealer.

My pen-and-paper version turns the GW Mesmer into an Illusionist focused on brainwave damage and defense. This hack might be good for a non-human race, one without physical buffs. Here is the tweaked spell list atm, GW inspired ones in bold:

Arcane Glamer (audible glamer)
Constricting Armor - targets in armor must save or suffer discomfort penalty.
Detect Invisibility
Hypnotic Images - hypnotic pattern with lower HD captivation.
Illusionary Countenance (change self)
Mantra of Concentration - speeds mesmer casting to phase prior to melee combat.
Optic Distortion I - defense bonus from altered perception of caster.
Psychic Message (MU message)
Signet of Recoil - triggers latent damage upon target if it completes a spell.
Wastrel's Demise - target takes latent damage if spell duration is spent without action.

Accumulated Pain - percentage of current damage taken flares again as hex expires.
Blinding Image (blindness)
Conjure Cowardice - defense penalty from fear and faster morale checks.
Hex of Silence (deafness)
Illusionary Weapon - shadow weapon damage based on foe's belief save.
Mantra of Resistance - increases elemental protection for caster.
Phantasmal Placard - displays arcane note for certain viewers.
Signet of Midnight - shrouds target with dark, impairing aura that can spread by touch.
Unnatural Shifting - victims that fail save have no control over direction moved.
Web of Disorder - targets passing through must save or be compelled to rearrange/sheath equipped items.

Arcane Conundrum - increases the target's spell casting time.
Emetic Epidemic - targets that fail save suffer hallucinatory nausea.
Dispel Illusion
Hex of Frustration - triggers latent damage upon target if it misses in combat.
Mind Wrack - latent damage to non-spell users after being targeted by a spell.
Optic Distortion II - increased field benefits allies within 20 feet.
Paralyzing Anguish (paralyzation)
Signet of Suggestion (suggestion)

Drain Enchantment - removes one spell effect from living target.
Ethereal Killer (phantasmal killer)
Hex of Pain - inflicts damage over time, no save for 1st round if unwounded.
Illusionary Faction - (mass change self)
Mantra of Invisibility (invisibility)
Psychic Recovery - ally healed half his INT plus mesmer level, caster heals INT bonus + level.
Signet of Ether - signet becomes shadow version of spell known by target.
Wastrel's Wizening - like Demise except damage is contagious STR + DEX loss.

Chaos Storm (confusion)
Ethereal Effigy (project image)
Hex of Ignorance (feeblemind)
Illusionary Passage (shadow door)
Mantra of Shadows - mesmer summons 4HD shadow bodyguard, or can animate foe's shadow as 3HD surprise attacker.
Signet of Flux - mesmer gains control over enemy initiative order, limited by HD pool.
Unnatural Yearning - victims that fail save are hexed with intense greed/paranoia.
Web of Dysfunction - targets passing through must save or suffer crippling spasms.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Overdue SotU Mod Attempt

Here at the Plateau, role playing is a simple affair. I'll never be at the keyboard, churning out a 200 page rule set with yet another way to play a fantasy adventure just like D&D. Typing is painful, and most ideas can be presented on a few spreads. When I release my pdf of short projects, I'll also throw in a Searchers of the Unknown hack of olde D6~D20 flavor. The SotU format is great for focusing on fun things you want in your game. Expect to see the following:

  • The 3 iconic "backgrounds" - Fighter, Thief and Wizard.
  • Wizards with armor and "alignment category" spell options.
  • An "advantage" for thieves in the form of a skill re-roll.
  • Special abilities triggered by a "Critical Hit".
  • Target 20 resolution still using "old skool" AC numbers.
  • Pet war-beasts and flaming oil for dungeon cleaning power!
  • No super HP recharge until PCs eat & sleep.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

1988: PC Start Page Draft

One page introduction for players designed in "Early Pasted Zine" style, downloadable free from my docs page. The full release will include more on equipment, places, and brain-hungry monsters. A play-test would be good about now, if I can convince my group to volunteer.

Friday, August 22, 2014

1988: Stuff for the Duffel Bag

Once a player has decided on a day job/vocation, he receives a bag of mundane equipment. Each player can take ten types of goods (no firearms), and can trade equipment whenever they are not in danger. Here are some kits with specific uses:

  1. Trauma Care Surgical Tools
  2. Assorted Pills
  3. Waterproof Blanket
  4. Gas Mask
  5. Spray Disinfectant
  6. Water Filter
  7. Bandages
  8. Chemical Suit
  9. Preserved Rations
  10. Small Fire Extinguisher
  1. Cheap 35mm Cameras
  2. Work Gloves
  3. Binoculars
  4. Folding Shovel
  5. Hacksaw & Blades
  6. Tape Recorder
  7. Hand Drill
  8. Retrieval Magnet
  9. Specimen Jars
  10. Construction Headlamp 
  1. Visored Helmet
  2. Animal Catch Pole
  3. 2 Way Radios
  4. Halogen Lanterns
  5. Sledgehammer
  6. Duct Tape
  7. Hand Axe
  8. Incendiary Flares
  9. Pepper Spray
  10. Steel Foothold Trap 
  1. Spool of Wire
  2. Modern Bow
  3. Quiver of 12 Hunting Arrows
  4. Wood Nunchaku
  5. Metal Snips
  6. Assorted Cloth Masks
  7. Small Bottle of Acid
  8. Firecrackers
  9. Climbing Rope
  10. Search Mirror
  1. Coded Calendar Book
  2. Electronic Voice Changer
  3. Assorted Fake Identification
  4. Fine Booze
  5. Lockpicks
  6. Radio & Headphones
  7. Stack of Counterfeit Bills
  8. Bogus License Plate
  9. Local Maps
  10. Heinous Adult Magazine

Saturday, August 16, 2014

1988: Winners Never Quit, Roll a 1

Excerpt from the autobiography of Joe Fenimore Halleck, "IN THE RING WITH EVIL"

I awoke the next day at sunset, needles of light forming a burning dot on the ceiling fan overhead. Five inches of crusted stitches protested a pivot out of bed, soothed only by the extra thirty seconds I took staggering to the kitchen. At the freezer door I paused. Beneath a sack of ice from the last Superbowl was twenty grand in wax paper. I nestled the dough beneath Sheila's jacket, which still covered the snack bar. She would find it after I returned to the lab.

I spotted my flask in the sink, a curious thing since it never holds water. Then, Sheila appeared at the bedroom door, draped in a silk sheet, looking like a parachutist from the airborne division of hot leg artillery. A purple blush of insignificant bruises proved her years in Japan were more valuable than my failures in collegiate boxing. I coughed, and the wounds from yesterday flipped the cursing switch in my brain. Aware of the fact that groceries do not reside at my address, she tossed my keys at me. I crept back into the bedroom to grab my jeans, dismayed that the bedding veiled her backside.

The traffic outside my building seemed to be pulling storm clouds from the coast. My Camaro would need more work than me, although the blood on the steering wheel was mine. At the corner stop, I looked in the mirror to make sure her Kawasaki GPZ was not behind me. Leaving for good became my only option when I learned who was responsible for the insane experiment. I returned my eyes to the avenue when a sunburned patrolman pulled alongside. His visual assessment of my vehicle bore the fender dings, but stopped at what was between the seats. I thought a monstrous spider leg was pretty benign, once severed and not moving.

I shifted gears and said, "That Radon shit is worse than advertised."

DOESN'T FEEL PAIN: Use COLD to determine your STUN boxes.
YOU'RE TOO SLOW: Extra move after a successful strike.
GET BEHIND ME: Extra defense for you and ally not in melee.
JUST ONE MAN: Extra defense for you even if flanked by enemies.
SECRET NINJA STYLE: To hit bonus at melee range only.
STAY ON TARGET: To hit bonus when choosing to act last.
MOOKS FOR BREAKFAST: Extra damage against non-special enemies.
NO HOLDS BARRED: Converts STUN weapons to lethal damage.
QUITTERS NEVER WIN: Vocation test bonus.
A LITTLE PARANOID: Trauma test bonus.
CHIN OF STEEL: STUN attack damage reduced by one point.
ONE MAN LEAVES: Remain conscious unless reduced to -2 WOUND.
WEIRD WEAPON ENTHUSIAST: Extra damage with specific weapon type.
BOWELS OF RESOLVE: Extra action for one encounter per adventure.
CHECKLIST OF REVENGE: To hit & damage bonus against one nemesis/monster.
READ THE MANUAL: Double vocation test die once per adventure.

Monday, August 11, 2014

1988: Third Rule Set a Charm?

Completing this game as a mod of Hollow Earth Expedition somewhat necessitates the purchase of that game book. I'm thinking that GMs would prefer a free framework, something short that could be downloaded right away. I also wanted to avoid any system that that makes having a vast list of gear and skills a requirement.
To emphasize fast heroic play, I looked at a 1KM1KT release in the superhero genre called Hi/Lo Heroes. This game makes the player decide how his dice rolls will read based off his character's qualities. The player has to deal with tests that could force him to use his "LO" stat; there is no way to be tops in everything. A basic example would be a physical attribute that must favor either Strength or Dexterity. For my 1980's game, I'd add one extra stat to represent pc style. Here is the first pass/hack on player creation using this system:

STATS: Player chooses which build is "High" for each.
HEALTH: 6 lethal wound boxes, roll BODY for STUN boxes
TALENTS: Pick two from different categories
RESOURCE: If desired, choose one option AND a complication
EQUIPMENT: shop from first tier, players must make opposed rolls for same item.

Since 1988 is the theme, dice will be 2D8! Games with die numbers in the title are RAD!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Harlock: A New Sword & Planet Movie?

I was astonished to see this new CG movie on Netflix, so I sat down to watch it right away. I'm less familiar with this Matsumoto story than Space Battleship Yamato, so I wasn't mentally comparing it to the hand-drawn versions. Although the designs have a contemporary finish, many draw from what I'd identify as heroic space fantasy. In particular, the mammoth "ships of the line" and pirate marine space armor. When boarding an enemy craft, the Arcadia crew wear gladiator-styled suits and wield a variety of weapons. In the image above you can see the crewman with a battle-ax.

The melee scenes remind me of the assault on Ming's navy from the classic Flash Gordon movie. Harlock himself is equipped with a rapier-sculpted laser gun. Excellent inspiration for a sword & planet RPG, where martian cruisers spewing plumes of dark matter roam inhospitable alien landscapes! Traditional combat has a strong involvement in the designs of Japanese animations. Rarely do you see characters that don't have "plate" armor and blades for themselves or their giant robots. A recent example, and not even fantasy sci-fi, is the Full Metal Panic anime. Speaking of robots and swords, you may remember how the first Cylons went about kicking ass.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bronze Age Starter Cave Map

The northern coast of Spain is dotted with ancient, formerly occupied caves. I found a few maps online, and made a combination from two. To bring in other classic dungeon trimming like traps and statuary, I wedged a few crypt-like area into the organic cavern shapes. I'm not sure that using authentic surveys are any better than just drawing imaginary locations, but it looks good on the page.

Another kind of encounter area would be a (ruined?) city-fortress, cobbled from the Urartian plans I've found. Strongholds are perhaps best as safe zones, if your setting isn't ravaged by monsters or intense warfare. Leave a reply if you favor unearthly caves or sinister citadels!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Compiling all Bronze Age Designs

Before I began the research on ancient armies, I had a S&S project partially crafted with the Mini6 rpg system. I'm going to expand those original class choices with choice portions from the Armenian and Celtiberian historical information. The former will see representation with strong beast-men, the latter with Celtic combat and Druidism. From my first project I'm keeping an alternative magic-user, the Cabalist, and some helpful talents for each PC option. I think playing a "half-human" that resembles a Bronze Age deity is a good change from the customary faerie race...

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.