Friday, August 28, 2015

Story Seed - On the Origin of Species

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In the years following the Shatter the many broken parts of our world were unable to contact
each other or trade goods. For nearly a hundred years the remains of the bled out and perished. In its place rose new nation-states, secluded from each other by the great gulfs of sky between them. This period lasted for decades or longer until at last the great mage Tol Drian created the drakes.

Although Magus Drian is credited with the creation of the Drakes this is a misunderstanding. The great lizards had in fact existed before the time of the Shattering; in those times they had been Earthbound creatures with less intelligence. Occasionally used as riding animals; they were only common on farms or other places where great strength was needed.

When Magus Drian entered the Temple of the Air he took up the Airstone with the permission of the guardian monks and combined its powers with his own mastery of the occult. Though none can say for sure, or are willing to do so if they can, it is believed that Drian was able to achieve the feat which rendered him into the histories through not just powers arcane and elemental, but also through mastery of alchemy and the healing arts.

Regardless of the techniques, the Magus' spell spread from the Airstone across the world where it met with every one of the great lizards; the magics transformed them, changing their elemental natures from from Earthbound to Airbound. Many grew great leathery wings while others simply learned to fly outside the bounds of nature's animals. Thus the drakes as we know them were born and the Age of the Drakes began.

Excerpted from "The Coming of the Drakes: A History" by Razoul Ironwill in the year 421 A.S.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nuts & Bolts #46 - Death is but a door...

So, normally I try to keep this blog somewhat system ... neutral? But the fact is that I play a lot of Cypher System, and that's because I really enjoy it, and it is very very capable for the kind of play I like. So while I aim to continue bringing content that is useful for any RPG there will be stuff that is Cypher System specific, and maybe even stuff specific to other RPGs from time to time.

That said, this week I present a new Cypher System descriptor. It's a "racial" descriptor in that it makes some very specific changes to your character that makes them no longer "human" in a very tangible mechanical sense. Could I have approached this as a Focus instead? Yes, and no. The character I created this for is meant to be a spellslinger, that he is dead is color for the Casts Spells focus. Could I make a "Survived Past Death" focus that was all about playing a Ghost who is ghostly? Sure! And maybe I will sometime.



You have died, however your spirit has not left the mortal coil. Instead you, or someone else, has attached your soul to a relic of your former life. With time and effort you have learned how to create a mostly solid form out of ectoplasm that you can inhabit and through it you are able to interact with the world. It's not life, but it's not undeath either.

Beyond Life and Death -  You  are imbued with energy from beyond the grave, you get 4 additional points to divide among your stat Pools, but no pool may gain more than +2.

Earthly Relic - Your spirit is attached to some earthly relic of your former life. This could be a preserved portion of your former body, a phylactery, or some other item of significance to you in life. Regardless of the specifics your soul is bound to that item and returns to it when you “rest”. Your relic has 10 health and an armor rating of 2 if somebody tries to destroy it. Your soul is forever lost if your relic is destroyed while you are resting within it. If your relic is destroyed while you are inhabiting your ectoplasmic form you will feel its loss and need to create a new spirit anchor (a level 5 Intellect task).

Ectoplasmic form - As a spirit you cannot interact with the material realm without first creating an ectoplasmic body to  give you substance. Because you are already dead your ectoplasmic form is immune to poison and disease, and has a natural resistance to damage equal to armor 1. It takes approximately 1 minute to form your ectoplasmic body.

Slowed Recovery - Because you are dead and inhabit a simulacrum of ectoplasm, you do not recover like a living being; your recoveries take longer than normal. Instead of having recovery times of 1 turn, 10 minutes, 1 hour, and ten hours, you recover using the following intervals: 10 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 10 hours. Ectoplasm recovers more predictably however so you treat any 1s rolled on a recovery roll as a 2.

Feel Nothing - Your ectoplasmic form does not have the physical senses of smell or touch and you have an inability with any tasks that require those senses. However you also do not feel pain as a living creature. Most physical wounds will not pain you unless dealt by spirit bane materials (such as salt, iron, a feline, etc, depending on your setting). While you are impaired on the damage track, you function as if you were hale. When you become debilitated, your ectoplasmic form is immediately destroyed (dropping any equipment it held or carried) and you are banished to your Earthly Relic to recover. Until you recover from being debilitated you can take no actions other than communicating with anybody who is touching your relic.

A Lifetime of Experience - You retain your memories of life, though some have become hazy when viewed through the veil of death. You are trained in one non-combat (attack, defense, or initiative) skill of your choice. 


Of course not every setting or genre works to have ghostly PCs wandering around. This Descriptor could easily be relabeled as Holographic for a Science-Fiction game with the relic being instead some form of portable projector and CPU. The slowed recovery would work in such a case as a power system limit or possibly a need to accumulate "particles of hard light" or similar quasi-science. This probably wouldn't work in a straight up modern day game, but maybe somebody can think of something I cannot.

Please feel free to provide thoughts, opinions, feedback, and the like. Just keep it constructive and civil. If you like this please let me know and I may post more Descriptors and maybe even some Foci.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Tools #4 - Organization Worksheet

Today I want to share my Organization Worksheet. I built this a while back when I was running a steady (almost) weekly game set in the city of Qi in the Numenera RPG. The players had told me that they wanted to try and get involved with the criminal underworld and one of the PCs specifically wanted to get into an assassin's guild. Since I know that I tend to make up stuff that is cool one session that gets forgotten by the next I built this so that I could take notes and stay consistent week to week, and also so that I could track the damage they dealt to competing groups.

I hope it helps you as much as it helped me, and as always, if you have a suggestion or comment please let me know below.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Story Seed - Remnants

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Before the shattering it is said that our world was one of peace. That the four elements were in balance and a great empire spread across all of the world's lands and people. It is unknown if this is true, or simply an embellishment of the surely easier times that existed before the shattering.

Regardless of the truth any peace this world had was surely ended when a race of warriors from beyond our realm invaded. These infernal creatures were bound to chaos and a great host of their kind poured forth from the nether to lay siege to the Four Temples.

It is said that our world raised four massive armies unlike any seen before or since. Each army dedicated to protecting one of the four temples and the elemental foci within. Our ancestors knew that these creatures sought to destroy the elemental foci and plunge our world into chaos. Each of these great forces was ten time ten thousand warriors strong and entire villages and cities were emptied to their formation. The very young and the very old were brought to the great cities where the huddled behind walls of stone.

At each of the temples our armies clashed with the hosts of the outsiders. For over a month our armies slew beasts and creatures not of our world and never gave an inch that was not paid for by the outsider hosts in blood and death. Though losses were great on both sides the hosts of the invaders were not driven to defend their lands and their loved ones. One by one the Temples were saved; fire, then water, and with time air.

The last and greatest of the hosts seized the Temple of Earth. Here the forces of chaos were led by their greatest general, a demon imbued with the powers of chaos, known as Nerhauk. The battle here lasted over a month with never a stop to the carnage and fighting. Men would fall back from their positions to eat and sleep all with the sound of continuous battle in their ears before they once more joined the fight.

When at last it seemed that the armies of the land were finally poised to push back the invading host the great demon, Nerhauk took to the field himself. The creature was like a warmachine, wielding a great mace in one hand and a massive axe in the other it carved a swath of death and blood through the army that none were able to stop. At last, Nerhauk stormed through the temple gates themsleves and confronted the the disciples within.

These monks were not helpless in the face of the demon however. Having been charged with the guardianship of the temple's most precious treasure, the Earthstone, they were masters of the magic and martial arts of elemental earth.

Nerhauk met the monks in combat where the powers of chaos and fundamental earth clashed. Step by corrupting step Nerhauk invaded the temple and its sanctuary, and though the monks slowed the creature greatly they were no match for it and the demon slew them to the last. Victorious at last the demon took up the Earthstone and bent his infernal energies to rending the stone.

When at last the leader of the army and his retinue entered the temple they saw Nerhauk succeed at his task.  With an explosion like a mountain being split the demon shattered the Earthstone. It was but a pyrrhic victory that the destruction of the stone also slew the beast.

With the focus for all power of elemental earth destroyed the lands began to shudder and quake tearing themselves apart until at last the world that was was gone and the world that is was born. The elements found a new balance with air gaining an unequal dominance while the powers of earth magic waned almost to the point of cessation.

Excerpted from "A History of Our World" by Arcturus Raptick in the year 386 A.S.  (After the Shattering)