Thursday, December 14, 2017

Variant Psionics for the Cepheus Engine

Stellagama Publishing Proudly Presents:
Variant Psionics for the Cepheus Engine!

Bend the universe with the power of your mind!

Psychic abilities are a staple of science fiction in general and space opera in particular. Therefore, the Cepheus Engine Core Rules include rules for psionics. These core rules use a skill-throw mechanic for psionics, which, while being reasonable given the Cepheus Engine mechanics, greatly limit the use of psionics. This bookletpresents a variation on these core psionic rules, using a simple, more straightforward system. As we at Stellagama Publishing like to describe it: "pay the PSI points and the 'magic' happens". While these rules increase the power of psionics, there is still a strict limit to their scope in the shape of a tightly limited pool of Psionic Strength points.

In addition to these variant rules, we present expanded psionic powers; rules for psychic struggle between psions; new psionics-related equipment; and variant psionic training rules.

Compatible with the Cepheus Engine and other 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi games.

Get it HERE!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Barrowmaze play report: Dogs of War and Chicken Feet

Woof! Woof!
Our extremely lucky dwarves discovered the joy of leading war hounds to battle, and even defeated a mummy! Almost dying in the process several times. Below is their incredible story.


We are using ACKS rules, with three house rules so far:
  1. Thieves and thief-like characters (e.g. Dwarven Delver) add their Dexterity modifier to Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Open Lock, Pick Pockets, and Disarm Traps rolls.
  2. War dogs take Henchman "slots" and are limited by them.
  3. War dogs get Mortally Wounded and may be stabilized by a character with Animal Husbandry. This, of course, entails a roll on the Mortal Wounds table for the poor hound.

The Lucky Dwarves:

  • Boulderson the Lucky - Level 1 Dwarven Craft Priest - Eliran
  • Rufus Chikenfoot - Level 1 Dwarven Delver - Itai
  • + Angus the Cleaver - Level 1 Dwarven Fury - Rufus' henchman
  • And dogs, Lots of dogs.

Revised Barrowmaze Map.
The Story so Far

After resting in Helix after last session's heavy fighting, Angus bought a war dog and equipped it with leather barding; Rufus already had a hunting dog. With the hound in tow, the three dwarves made their way back to Mound 16, the Skeleton Mound, where they previously found a magical sword, nearly got wiped out by skeletons, and discovered a secret stairwell down to the Barrowmaze itself. They knew of the Fossilized Skeletons hidden below, and decided to slay them.

Thus they entered the deep chamber (Area 81 on the Barrowmaze map). Rufus stole his way through the chamber, contemplated backstabbing the skeletons (is that possible at all?), then re-positioned himself and his henchman Angus for the fight. Boulderson tried to invoke his ancestral spirits to banish the undead, but alas - they did not answer his call. The skeletons, on the other hand, attacked. Thus three dwarves and two dogs found themselves facing no less than seven massive fossilized skeletons with bones as hard as stone!


Eliran and Itai with Mrs. Stellagama who came to visit.
The fight was intense and very long. A skeleton took Rufus' hunting dog and crushed the poor pooch on the wall, brutally killing it. Then, they heard a commotion from the nearby door. Rufus and Angus tried to block it from opening, but a massive Bloodthirsty Spider leaped out of it and tried to suck Angus out of his blood! Luckily, it was soon dispatched.

Boulderson, once again, fell to 0 HP from skeletal attacks, just like last session. Rufusused his Healing proficiency to stabilize the Craftpriest. The latter was, again, incredibly lucky on his Mortal Wounds table roll, and after a short ghastly hallucination of the entire party being brutally dead, he awoke with 1 HP.

Rufus and the warhound then proceeded to smash the skeletons, gaining victory!

All characters, however, emerged with serious war wounds (low HP).

This was followed by searching burial alcoves and briefly visiting the nearby room, easily crushing the two spiders who waited there as well. Laden with gold and a diamond ring, they continued down the hall. However, Rufus, who was leading the party, failed to notice a pit trap and fell to it, almost dying in the process and screaming in pain. After he climbed out, the dwarves continued carefully, but then heard whispering voices out ahead.

These were eight tomb robbers - unsavory characters, heavily armed by lightly armored. The party - not the most charismatic dwarves in the world to say the least - managed to roll a Neutral reaction, and the robbers parlayed. However, the intrepid heroes were very uncouth, even more than the ruffians, ending up with Rufus yelling SHUT UP! at the criminals - which led to them attacking the heavily wounded dwarves. Heroes that they are, they decided that discretion is the better part of valor and ran back around the pit. Rufus, however, stood there, on the other side of the pit, and taunted the tomb robbers. They shot him in his foot with a crossbow bolt, and he fell, mortally wounded. Angus and Boulderson grabbed his bleeding body and ran out through the secret stairs, then stabilized him.

The great diplomat ended up losing three toes!

Thus they went back to Ironguard Motte to get healed and sell loot - they had gold aplenty and Helix lacked a powerful enough cleric. There, Rufus rolled well on his 1d20 throw on the Mortal Wounds table... But rolled poorly on the 1d6. This ended up with his brand-new foot...

Replaced with a chicken's foot! The Ancestors must be jesting.

After two days of rest and travelling on the main road at a leisurely pace, rested and healed, they walked back to the Barrowmoor. This time around, they bought as many war dogs as their Charisma allowed them to lead. Once again, they lucked on the random encounter rolls and the trip was uneventful. However, when they approached the mound, hoping to catch the robbers unaware, their dogs barked. Soon after, the heard an insufferable croaking sound from inside. They entered the mound to find three Giant Toads feasting on five of the - now dead - tomb robbers!

The fight, luckily, was very easy - except from a dog briefly digested inside a toad's belly and surviving the ordeal, none was injured. Emboldened, they returned to the Barrowmaze itself. They found some burial urns and a little stash of electrum pieces where the tomb robbers once hid. Then they entered one defiled tomb. There, a large, pristine, sealed sarcophagus stood. While Angus disliked the idea of disturbing the dead, Rufus managed to open the sarcofagus without his consent, and from it sprung...

A MUMMY.

The Dwarves did not run. They unleashed their dogs at the undead horror. Only a few were paralyzed by fear. They fought hard. Luckily, the mummy rolled very, very low on its damage rolls (1d12), so none fell. While Boulderson and one hound contracted Mummy Rot, they won the fight.

Year, you read it right - they have SLAIN A MUMMY. At level 1. By blind luck. With a little less luck, they would have been cut down like weeds.

The lucky band, with its pack of wardogs, returned to Helix and then Ironguard Motte, victorious and with the mummy's treasures - a magnificent bejeweled scepter and a golden circlet, sold together for 2,400gp. They also paid to get Remove Curse cast at Boulderson and the dog to cure the mummy rot.

With sacks of gold, both Angus and Boulderson are now Level 2!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My new ACKS campaign setting: the Elysian Empire


Lysandrus of Elysia conquered the many city-states of old and defeated the Sorcerer Kings in the name of the Conquering Sun. He founded the Elysian Empire and crowned himself, by the Grace of Sol, the first Emperor. 517 years later, his empire lies in ruins.

At its height, the Elysian Empire stretched from coast to coast, unifying the continent under the Emperor's might. It was a civilization of Law. Some say it was the greatest civilization since the dawn of man. Its wealth, beyond any dream, streamed from the many provinces to the shining city of Elysia. Its magnificence is now a matter of fables. Fought over by pretenders, claimants, and would-be Emperors, it is now a dead, burnt-out shell of its former glory. In the place where one Emperor ruled, now several compete. In a land once shepherded by a single Bright Pontifex, five Pontiffs claim the title, each endorsing his own usurper to the throne.

The land was always cold. Some scholars speak of an earlier, warmer age. Others claim that our forebears came from another continent to the west, refugees from the encroaching ice. Now and then, doomsayers and preachers lecture about the ice and winter being sent to purge the world of the sins of man. The Elysian Empire once ruled the southern part of the continent, where climate allows bountiful agriculture, from the forests of Valukarask to the wheat and barley fields of Camalynn. Ice chokes the North. Great animals, from mammoths and cave-bears to woolly rhinoceros ("unicorns") and sabertooth cats, roam the land, especially the northern taiga and tundra. Men domesticated the mammoth as a beast of burden; the nomads who prowl the icy tundra claim that they herded mammoth eons before the men of now reside in Elysia came to their shores.

The Empire's state religion is the Bright Church. Worshipping the Conquering Sun, called Sol Victa in Elysia and Amon-Ra in the warm south, it preaches Law and follows the Pontifex. Or, to speak of current events, the five Pontiff-claimants. Having overthrown the Chaotic cults of the old Sorcerer Kings, Lysandrus of Elysia brought Law and Church to the neighboring lands by sword and fire. Competing with it is the Grey Church, also known as the Penitents, fanatically Lawful. These followers of the Flayed Lady see pain as the pathway to penitence and spiritual purity. They view martyrdom as the pinnacle of faith a believer can achieve, and wounding of the mortal flesh as a road to clearing one's soul of dark Chaos. While both Churches have won the hearts of the common man, many peasants also worship the Neutral pagan Old Gods, just like they did when the Chaos-worshiping Sorcerer Kings lorded over them. And in the darkness, Chaos promises, as it eternally does, infinite power - and the price of untold destruction and corruption. Head among the cults of Chaos is the so-called Dark Church of the dread god Apep, lord of undeath and dark sorcery.

The Empire is dying. It can barely rule the Imperial domain of Elysia, let alone the provinces. Many aspiring tyrants fight over its throne. In the outer provinces, the locals have not seen an Imperial Legion - or tax collector for that matter - for decades. Local Tribunes and other officials now became de-facto sovereign lords. Their armies are depleted by years of war. Beastmen and bandits besiege their impoverished domains. Some would say that the land calls for heroes - but politics calls for another thing.

Conquerors.

---

The following is an early work-in-progress of the western part of the former Elysian Empire. Elysia itself is to the east of this map. There is much, much more I should add to this map and will add in the future.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Alternative Autofire Rules for the Cepheus Engine

Players love to roll dice and see stuff explode! Thus, the typical RPG, including Traveller and the Cepheus Engine, allows multiple attacks per round. Especially with automatic fire. However, such fun turns into boring drudgery when too many combatants stand on the battle map, each rolling their multiple attack rolls. It becomes even more tedious when many of the combatants are lowly-skilled grunts who rarely hit.

Below, I suggest an alternative, partially inspired by the old, Classic-era Azhanti High Lightning and Striker! rules. The basic idea is to roll once per combatant. For mobs of poorly-skilled thugs, roll once per mob. Then determine how many times the autofire hits its target - or targets - according to its Effect.

(Effect is a Mongoose Traveller 1E/2D6 SRD/CE term which refers to how much your adjusted roll exceeded 8; e.g., if your total adjusted roll is 10, you get an Effect of +2).

Before I get to the autofire rules, however, I will first re-post my alternative, streamlined armor rules which go perfectly with them.

Streamlined Armor
The Cepheus Engine uses the default armor system from the 2D6 Sci-Fi SRD. That system presents armor as a damage absorber - i.e. it subtracts the target's armor rating from any attack's damage. For the sake of simplicity and to best suit these rules, I propose a simpler armor system. Under that variant system, armor does not absorb damage but rather incurs a negative DM to incoming attack rolls, as presented in the following table:

Armor TypeTo-Hit DM
Jack-0/-1*
Mesh-1
Flak-2
Reflec-0/-8**
Cloth-3
Combat-6

* The first number is against ranged attacks, the second against melee attacks.
* The first number is against non-laser attacks, the second against laser attacks.

Alternative Automatic Fire Rules
An automatic small arm, such as an SMG or autorifle, makes one attack per round. This uses 4 rounds and attacks at DM+2. For each 2 points of Effect (or part thereof) of a successful attack, the target suffers a hit. For example, an Effect of +5 causes three hits. The maximum number of hits is 4. The shooter can distribute these hits as desired between the primary target and any other targets within 1.5m ("adjacent" in CT terms) of the primary target.

A machine gun makes one attack per round, using 10 rounds, at DM+4. For each 2 points of Effect (or part thereof) of a successful attack, the target suffers hit. For example, an Effect of +5 causes three hits. The maximum number of hits is 10. The shooter can distribute these hits as desired between the primary target and any other targets within 3m of the primary target.

A shotgun enjoys DM+2 to-hit vs. flying targets within Medium or shorter range. Also, the blast attacks up to three additional targets within 1.5m ("adjacent" in CT terms) from the primary target with no penalty.

Now, I will re-post modified rules for mobs.

Mobs
A mob is a multitude of untrained irregulars who lack adequate combat training or tactical awareness. They may be enraged or even fanatical but will typically rush at their enemies instead of employing a more cautious tactical approach. As noted above, the classical "low-tech local peasants chasing the spacemen with pitchforks and torches" or "zombie apocalypse" are good examples of this theme.

Each mob includes up to 12 members. In many cases there will be multiple mobs involved. Do not track individual characteristics, damage, or skills of mob members. The mob moves as one unit. It makes a single attack roll per round. Make this roll at an effective "Skill-0", with DM+1 for every four active members in the mob, or part of it. Thus, a big mob of 12 members will attack at base DM+3, modified, of course, by weapon and range DMs; a mob of 5 members will attack at base DM+2. Make the attack as if the mob is one character; use automatic fire or shotgun rules as usual. While the entire gang might be unloading a hail of bullets, these shots are badly aimed and only a few have a chance of striking true.

PCs attack the mob as if it is one target. Most mobs are either unarmored or wearing Jack or Mesh armor; apply DMs accordingly. A non-automatic ranged attack which hits the mob incapacitates one member; if its Effect is +4 or better, it incapacitates two members, one from the bullet and another from "Shock & Awe". When automatic fire, a scattergun, or a grenade hit a mob, a number of mob members equal to the attack's Effect are incapacitated. Obviously, as with single shots, "incapacitated" does not necessarily mean "killed by a bullet" but rather "out of the fight" - killed, wounded, or maybe just shocked enough to be ineffective in fighting. The latter is the reason automatic fire can incapacitate more than 4 mob members while an automatic burst only contains 4 bullets.

Mobs are much more dangerous in melee, with a to-hit DM+1 per 2 members. A mob attacks once per round, but scores one hit per two points of Effect in a melee attack. When skilled characters fight a mob in melee, they "cleave" - each hit incapacitates a number of mob members equal to the attack's Effect, up to the character's relevant melee skill.).

Mobs rarely fight well under fire. In any of the following cases, make a morale throw, which is a Leadership, INT, Average (DM+0) check. Without a "Rabble Rouser", the mob is Unskilled in Leadership and has an INT DM+0, giving it DM-3 on this roll. On the other hand, if such leader is present, use their Leadership skill and INT modifier; in most cases, assume a total DM+0 for both Leadership and INT. Failure means that the mob disperses and is no longer effective in combat.

Fanatical mobs are immune to this effect and will continue swarming the PCs regardless of death. 

Triggers for morale throws include: 
  • The first time the mob comes under ranged fire. 
  • The first time the mob loses a member. 
  • When the mob first falls to half or less of its size. 
  • Each time the mob is attacked with flames, explosives, or a similar shocking attack. 
  • When first attacked by armored vehicles or troops in battledress. 
A "Rabble Rouser" character with the Leadership skill may attempt to rally a dispersed mob back to fighting shape by a Leadership, INT, Difficult (DM-2) throw.

The Referee might also want to consider groups or herds of various small-to-medium-sized wild animals, but not apex predators or particularly large animals, as mobs.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Barrowmaze play report - of Swords and Near Death Experiences

Barrowmaze I map, updated to Barrowmaze Complete
Today we started our Barrowmaze campaign, using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS). It was a blast! The system was very easy to get used to for my players, and as usual it was a breeze to run as a Judge (AKA Dungeon Master).

We spent an hour and a half generating characters. This was a pleasant experience. Many interesting options, yet little bureaucracy involved (unlike D&;D 3.xE). I had them roll 3d6 six times and arrange to taste, and this yielded varied results - both have one ability score above 16, but two below 8. Boulderson is clumsy and not very charismatic; Rufus is a bit foolhardy. I gavew them full level 1 HP. They used their starting gold to equip themselves well and hired a henchman - a Dwarf named Angus who is an apprentice Dwarven Fury, but still fights as a level 0 NPC for most purposes (Rufus' henchman).




Our Intrepid Heroes:
Boulderson - Level 1 Dwarven Craft Priest - played by Eliran
Rufus - Level 1 Dwarven Delver - played by Itai
+ Angus - Level 0 Dwarf - Rufus' henchman


Appropriate drinks!
We Venture Forth!
The two dwarves and their henchman came to Helix - a "boomtown" next to the famous Barrowmaze dungeon - to seek their fame and fortune. Boulderson is here to cleanse defiled tombs; Rufus is in for the gold. As dwarves, they came to the obvious place - The Axe and the Anvil, serving both as Helix's smithy and a Dwarven mead hall. The place was packed with dwarves, drunken and boasting about their deeds - past or future - in Barrowmaze.

Helix, as mentioned above, is a boomtown. Thus it has an unbalanced economy centered on Barrowmaze delving. All sorts of ne'er-do-well types come to plunder Barrowmaze and use Helix as a base camp. Those who survive sometimes bring back great treasures. On its own, Helix is a Village of 172 families and a Class-VI Market - a backwater agricultural community. However, the influx of dungeon loot has skewed its economy. Persons from far-away, wealthier places to the East take interest in such loot. They use HHR Huffnpuff as an agent, acquiring valuable pieces of art and gems for them for a commission. Even Mazzahs the Magnificent serves as an agent of sorts for remote patrons; he purchases magical items from adventurers which he sells to middlemen for a commission - which helps fund his expensive magical research. Thus, adventurers can sell quite expensive loot in Helix itself, but purchasing expensive supplies usually requires a trip to Ironguard Motte, as most gold does not remain in Helix, except for the trading commissions. On the other hand, local businesses cater to adventurers - creating far more "drinking holes" in Helix than in the typical village.

Yours Truly - the Judge
Soon our heroes, bolstered by all sorts of drunken tales, marched off to Barrowmaze. Luckily, they encountered no opposition on the way there. After this uneventful journey they contemplated entering the central mound (12), but changed their minds and set out to explore smaller mounds.

They began with a looted tomb (3) from which it seemed that previous grave robbers fled in a hurry, leaving behind a small golden ring.

A sealed tomb (4) yielded a closed, undisturbed sarcophagus. Boulderson was not very keen on the idea of disturbing the dead, but the greedy Rufus managed to convince him to look away. The dwarves found a wooden casket inside, shaped like a beautiful woman; it held the remains of said woman, along with four flasks of perfume.

Emboldened by the previous easy pickings, they broke into a larger sealed mound (16). The tomb held a central sarcophagus and a magnificent jeweled broadsword upon it. It also had the skeletons of six long-dead warriors standing in alcoves around its walls. Rufus and Angus rushed to the sarcophagus, coveting the sword. They grabbed it. The skeletons animated and attacked. Boulderson tried to turn them and failed. A long melee ensued, with both sides missing many of their blows. However, the Craft Priest, Boulderson, was not so lucky. Two lucky strikes by a skeleton felled him. At 0 HP, he was mortally wounded. Rufus, who is proficient in Healing, bandaged him the next round. He was lucky to stay alive, albeit with a lame leg (penalty to AC and halved movement rate). Rufus and Angus then proceeded to defeat the skeletons, sustaining very serious injuries but surviving.

Itai (right) and Eliran (left) ready for adventure!
Rufus - with his keen Dwarven eye and Delver skill - then found the hidden door leading down into the dungeon (room 81). He tried to sneak but failed; the noise animated several Fossilized Skeletons in the room below, and he ran back to the mound, sealed the secret door helped Angus carry the wounded Boulderson, and ran as fast as he could away from the mound.

Back in Helix, the dwarves negotiated with HHR Huffnpuff, the sly halfling banker. The decided to postpone the sale of the ring and perfumes until after they get Boulderson healed, though they did reach a sort of agreement for its sale. Then they sold the magical jeweled broadsword to Mazzahs the Magnificent for the unimaginable sum of 500pp, which they though was a huge sum of money - not knowing that its value is 1,000pp.

Loaded with platinum, they made their way to Ironguard Motte, where Father Fergus - a level 9 Cleric in my version of Barrowmaze - cast Restore Life and Limb on Boulderson. Again, the lucky Craft Priest paid only a small price for his near-death experience - only recurring nightmares (a sleepless night on a roll of 1 on 1d6).

XP was wonderful and Angus reached level 1 - as a Dwarven Fury! The two other dwarves are about one-third of their way to level 2.

All in all - wonderful fun! Eliran remarked: "This game brought me 20 years back!"

OSR FTW!

Oh, and the local Dragon was out and about as well!

Our local (wild) Painted Dragon - Stellagama stellio stellio

Monday, November 13, 2017

Barrowmaze ACKSified!


I will start running Barrowmaze Complete the coming Friday to three of my friends - all of them playing Dwarves! I am using the ACKS ruleset, which emphasizes realm building and demographics, especially as high-level PCs can become actual rulers. So here I will flesh out the Aerik County (using ACKS demographics, it's too small to be a proper Duchy) and modify it to suit the ACKS rules. I will also add several new minor adventuring locations in case my players will want to take a break from Barrowmaze itself. I also changed the map from 5-mile hexes to 6-mile hexes as is customary in ACKS.

The Aerik County is 18 six-mile hexes in size, which is a small County. In the past, it was 27 hexes, a much larger County. However, the moribund Empire receded, and so did the County. What was once a prosperous frontier County shipping timber and ore to Imperial lands is now a shadow of itself. The Yellow Plague ravaged it a decade ago. Lizardmen and froglings - and worse - now threaten its residents. Viscount Ironguard, an aging knight, functions as the de-facto sovereign ruler despite owing de jure fealty to the Empire. Greatly shrunk in size and wracked by internecine warfare, the Empire can neither project military force to this County nor collect taxes from it.

This region is very sparsely populated. Between economic decline, frogling raids, and the devastating Yellow Plague, the County of Aerik declined from an average of 40 families per square mile to 30 families (200 families per 6-mile hex). The total population is 3,720 families. The plague and raids hit the rural population harder than the larger villages. Furthermore, given the frogling, lizardman, and bandit threat, many peasants prefer to huddle closer to the larger villages, where the Viscount's men offer some protection. Thus, the urban population is unusually large - 520 families out of 3,720. Most of these families practice agriculture, logging, and mining near the main three villages.

The County seat, and largest village, is Ironguard Motte. It is a Large Village of 261 families (1,304 people), a Class-V market. The ruler is, of course, Viscount Kell Ironguard, a level 7 retired fighter.

Bogtown is a Small Village of 87 families (431 people), a Class-VI market. It is ruled, de jure, by Elderman Herik Anguson, a level 5 thief. The true ruler, however, is the County's criminal kingpin, Alzo Danuth, a level 6 thief. This, ironically, makes the tiny Bogtown a better-defended village than the much larger Helix. Any would-be invader will have to content with the local gangsters - a motley crew of tough thugs.

Helix is a Village of 172 families (860 people), a Class-IV market. Its ruler is Krothos Ironguard, a level 3 fighter. He is particularly weak and unskilled for the ruler of such village. Father Othar, the Cleric of the Unconquered Sun (level 5 cleric), holds much of the actual power and oversees the lion's share of village administration. Such weak leadership, as well as the small contingent of men-at-arms, makes Helix a prime target to bandits, lizardmen, and froglings. It also makes it a perfect target for ambitious would-be conquering adventurers who want to be kings.

The County is considered Wilderness and thus should have had a garrison budget of 4gp/family per month, but in practice the forces are much thinner, equivalent to approximately 2gp value per family per month, for an actual  total of 7,570gp per month. Out of these, the Viscount has at his disposal a unit of Light Cavalry (60 horsemen, 2,850gp, battle rating 3.5), a unit of bowmen (120 bowmen, 1,450gp, battle rating 1.5), and 3 units of light infantry (120 men each, 720gp each, total 360 men, 3,270gp, battle rating 1 each). (using Domains at War: Campaigns troop tables, these include specialist salaries). A total of 540 men, battle rating 8. Knowing the risk of attack, Viscount Ironguard keeps his forces concentrated at the castrum of Ironguard Motte. Only one unit of men-at-arms - light infantry - patrol the rural areas and serve as town guards in Helix and Bogtown. In case of an attack on one of these villages, the Viscount will dispatch a larger contingent of troops to counter it, but will keep his cavalry and one infantry unit at the Motte to guard against further attacks.

This force is weak, as even a force of 240 lizardmen have a battle rating of 9. If the lizardmen will ever launch a concerted attack on Ironguard Motte, they will pose a dire threat to the realm. Thankfully, so far tribalism and disorganization prevented such an attack, but if a strong leader will arise in the swamp, great peril will come to the Aerik County.

St. Marcus used to be part of the Aerik County. However, economic decline, raids, and the Plague brought about Viscount Ironguard's retreat from this Small Village (Class-VI market). The local population is 76 families (380 people). A decade ago, before the Plague came, the population was triple that figure, and now most of the village stands boarded up and abandoned. Abbot Kasimir, head of the nearby Monastery of St. Marcus (level 3 Cleric) administers the village. I can set my The Rot Beneath adventure here, if the PCs will want to take a break from Barrowmaze and pursue another adventure for some time.

I have added an abandoned town called Mountainside in southern Wyrdwood, and well as a small abandoned Dwarven Vault called Krum Tok in the southern Moon Peaks. I have three Dwarven characters so an abandoned vault will fit in very well as a side quest. In my larger setting, the Empire receded, which led to the decline of the Aerik County as well. Thus, Mountainside was abandoned, especially after the nearby Vault fell. After all, Mountainside was an important stop on the trade route from the Vault to Ironguard Motte.

Mountainside probably became a Frogling nest (or maybe contested between Froglings and Lizardmen?), while the vault is inhabited by something worse. Maybe an Aboleth? A Dwarven Mechinist Automaton possessed by a vile Elemental spirit?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Got a License!

Got my Ground Car-0 skill!

Up until early 2016, I thought that, due to a medical condition, I was forbidden to drive. Then I found out that this condition *DOES NOT* prohibit driving. So I started learning how to drive.

And now - here is my license!

(temporary paper license - I will get the photo ID plastic version in 1-3 months)


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Draconid Racial Templates - UPDATED AND CORRECTED!












Thanks to Fabio Milito Pagliara for his input! Below is the updated and corrected version of the rules.

Born from manipulation of dragon eggs by ambitious sorcerers searching for the perfect shock-troops and bodyguards, the Draconid blends human and dragon blood and carries the soul of a drake. Eventually escaping from their masters and breeding among themselves and with lizardmen, they now roam the world. Only a few of them still exist, despite this limited attempts at reproduction.

The draconid inherited the humanoid shape and mortality of its human progenitors, but also the magnificent reptilian might of its dragon blood and soul. He is terrifying on the battlefield, and often fierce in sorcery. However, his exact heritage determines his personality - from the shining heroism of a metallic dragon (the rarest type of draconid progenitor) to the burning greed of a red dragon or the vile cunning of a black dragon.

Requirements:

A draconid must have Strength and Intelligence of at least 12 each.

Class category values:

Fighting: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Fighting value.
Divine: a draconid may not have a Divine value above 1.
Arcane: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Arcane value.

Draconid 0 (600XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d2-1/1d2-1/1d4-1 (100XP)
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +1 (50XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).

Draconid 1 (1,200XP):
  • Draconid 0 (600XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d6-1 (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP)
Draconid 2 (1,500XP):
  • Draconid 1 (1,200XP). 
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d8-1 (50XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
Draconid 3 (2,200XP - rounded up from 2,175):
  • Draconid 2 (1,500XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (50XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Draconid 4 (2,700XP - rounded down from 2,725):
  • Draconid 3 (2,175XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d10-1 (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +2 to his Fighting value (500XP).
Additional XP per level after level 9: 51,000.

Draconid heritage list:
  • Metallic Dragon heritage: bronze, silver, electrum, or gold scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Red Dragon heritage: flame-red, burnt orange, or charcoal scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Blue Dragon heritage: sky blue, slate grey, or cloud white scales. Breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide lightning bolt. The bolt can melt metals with a low melting point, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, or bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the bolt may continue beyond the barrier. Resistant to electricity.
  • White Dragon heritage: ivory, pearl, or snow white scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cloud of freezing vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to cold.
  • Green Dragon heritage: moss green, olive, or forest green scales. Breath weapon is a 10’ by 10’ cloud of poison vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to poison.
  • Black Dragon heritage: green-grey, midnight green, or black scales. The breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide line of acid. The acid stream will burn through wooden or metal barriers and continue beyond them to its full length. The acid can corrode metal, wood, and cloth it touches, but cannot harm stone. Resistant to acid.

TSAO flavor text - Terran wartime song - Let our Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin* used to rule us
And our sons and daughters to abduct.
"She" had ther claws on our throat -
Now it's time for our Gauss guns to speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin demands
That we surrender to her rule.
"She" sends her saucers to subdue us -
In reply, our Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin ordered Cicek
To charge at our soldiers.
But the Cicek are no fools -
In reply, their Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin sent her saucers
To turn back our fleet.
Our s​pacemen ​answer with missiles -
And we let our Gauss guns speak!

Granny Vera** answered the Greys:
"No surrender, no retreat!"
We have received her orders:
Let your Gauss guns speak!

* Head of the Reticulan House Thiragin which once ruled Terra.
** Terran wartime president Vera Singh.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Draconid racial template for ACKS


x

x
Born from manipulation of dragon eggs by ambitious sorcerers searching for the perfect shock-troops and bodyguards, the Draconid blends human and dragon blood and carries the soul of a drake. Eventually escaping from their masters and breeding among themselves and with lizardmen, they now roam the world. Only a few of them still exist, despite this limited attempts at reproduction.

The draconid inherited the humanoid shape and mortality of its human progenitors, but also the magnificent reptilian might of its dragon blood and soul. He is terrifying on the battlefield, and often fierce in sorcery. However, his exact heritage determines his personality - from the shining heroism of a metallic dragon (the rarest type of draconid progenitor) to the burning greed of a red dragon or the vile cunning of a black dragon.

Requirements:

A draconid must have Strength and Intelligence of at least 12 each.

Class category values:

Fighting: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Fighting value.
Divine: a draconid may not have a Divine value above 1.
Arcane: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Arcane value.

Draconid 0 (500XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d2-1/1d2-1/1d4-1 (100XP)
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +1 (50XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).

Draconid 1 (1,100XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d6-1 (150XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP)

Draconid 2 (1,500XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d8-1 (200XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP).
Draconid 3 (2,200XP - rounded up from 2,175):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (250XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Draconid 4 (2,700XP - rounded down from 2,725):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (250XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +2 to his Fighting value (1,000XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Additional XP per level after level 9: 51,000.

Draconid heritage list:
  • Metallic Dragon heritage: bronze, silver, electrum, or gold scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Red Dragon heritage: flame-red, burnt orange, or charcoal scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Blue Dragon heritage: sky blue, slate grey, or cloud white scales. Breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide lightning bolt. The bolt can melt metals with a low melting point, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, or bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the bolt may continue beyond the barrier. Resistant to electricity.
  • White Dragon heritage: ivory, pearl, or snow white scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cloud of freezing vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to cold.
  • Green Dragon heritage: moss green, olive, or forest green scales. Breath weapon is a 10’ by 10’ cloud of poison vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to poison.
  • Black Dragon heritage: green-grey, midnight green, or black scales. The breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide line of acid. The acid stream will burn through wooden or metal barriers and continue beyond them to its full length. The acid can corrode metal, wood, and cloth it touches, but cannot harm stone. Resistant to acid.

Flagellant class for ACKS

The followers of the Flayed Lady see pain as the pathway to penitence and spiritual purity. They view martyrdom as the pinnacle of faith a believer can achieve, and wounding of the mortal flesh as a road to clearing one's soul of dark Chaos. Their cleric, therefore, is the flagellant - marching through the corrupt mortal world to call the sinful to repent and flogging her own flesh to ward away the bestial call of the carnal body.

An iconoclast, an enemy of slavers, resentful of the haughty, the flagellant fights with zeal. She may lack the martial training of an ordinary cleric of the Invincible Sun, but makes up to that in burning religious fervor. A simple robe or a leather armor to her skin, she carries her two characteristic flails to rend the flesh of the Chaotic idolater and the mortal tyrant.

Flagellant
Requirement: None
Prime Requisite: WIS and DEX

Class Build
(see the ACKS Player's Companion)
Hit Dice 1 (500XP): 1d6 hit dice.
Fighting 1a (500XP): as a cleric; however:
  • Weapom selection remains at Narrow - bows/crossbows and flails/hammers/maces.
  • Armor selection reduced from Unrestricted to Restricted - hide armor or lighter: 2 powers.
  • Fighting styles: reduced to two weapons (which also allows one weapon without a shield): 1 power.
Divine 2 (500XP): as Cleric.

XP for level 2: 1,500XP.
Attacks, Saving Throws, and Magic Item Use: as a cleric.

Powers: 2 at level 1, another traded for powers at levels 5 and 9.

Level 1:
  • Flagellation: the character can whip herself into a furious religious zeal. She suffers 1 point of damage per level of experience, but gains a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls and becomes immune to fear. The character may not retreat from combat while this lasts. Furthermore, the Judge may rule that she will have to attack, to the best of her lethal ability, the nearest enemy of her faith, even if the player thinks this is not a prudent choice. The zealous fury lasts until the combat ends.
  • Blade-Dancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3. For flavor, mystics call this power graceful fighting. While Blade-Dancing is similar to taking the Swashbuckling proficiency selected as a custom power, for game balance reasons, consider Blade-Dancing as a separate class power and allow it to stack with Swashbuckling.
Level 5:
  • Martyrdom: upon reaching 0 hit points, the character may choose to remain in full fighting condition, functioning as if she has above-zero hit points, and applying any further damage as negative hit points. She may continue fighting until she reaches a negative number of hit points equal or exceeding her Constitution score, or stays conscious for a number of rounds equal to her level of experience - the sooner between them. Then she falls, unconscious mortally wounded. The price of her sacrifice is that she suffers a penalty of -1 per level of experience to both Mortal Wounds *and* Tampering with Mortality rolls related to that injury.
Level 9:
  • Holy Fervor: Any hirelings of the same religion as the character gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever she is present.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pugilist class build for ACKS

From the ranks of the common folk, a hero sometimes arises who is neither a soldier, nor a sorcerer, but a man of his fists. Whether trained in a martial arts school, experienced in the bloodsports common in rowdy taverns, or master of the bar-room brawl, the pugilist lives by the fist. He never donned heavy mail or trained with a sword. Instead, he learned the art and practice of wrestling and bare-hand fighting. The haughty tyrant or blade-wielding bully underestimate him. He then rewards their hubris with a well-aimed fist to their sneering faces.

Pugilist
Requirement: Strength 9 or better.
Prime Requisite: Strength.




Class Build
(see the ACKS Player's Companion)
Hit Dice 1 (500XP): 1d6 hit dice.
Fighting 1b (500XP): as a thief; however:
  • Armor selection remains at Narrow - leather armor or lighter.
  • Weapon selection reduced from Broad to Restricted - club, dagger, sling, whip: 3 powers.
  • Fighting styles: reduced to two weapons only: 1 power.
Thievery 2 (400XP): 5 skills traded into 5 powers.

XP for level 2: 1,400XP

Powers: 4 at level 1; 2 traded for powers at levels 2, 4, 9; 1 traded to levels 5 and 9; another 1 traded to levels 5 and 9.

So:
level 1: 4 powers
level 2: 1 power
level 4: 1 power
level 5: 2 power
level 9: 3 powers

Power progression:

Level 1:
Combat Trickery (Wrestling).
Fists of Iron: fist/fist attack routine at 1d3-1 each. At level 5, can harm creatures invulnerable to non-magical weapons (i.e. counts as a "magical" attack). Counts as 2 powers.
Legwork: as Blade-Dancing.

Level 2:
Fists of Iron 1d4-1/1d4-1

Level 4:
Fists of Iron 1d6-1/1d6-1

Level 5:
Swashbuckling (stacks with Blade-dancing); AC +1; total AC +2.
Also, as noted above, consider the pugilist's unarmed attacks as "Magical" for the purpose of harming monsters; no additional power cost (subsumed in Fists of Iron).

Level 7:
As noted above, the Legwork and Swashbuckling bonuess to AC increases to +2 each; no additional power cost (subsumed in Legwork). Total AC bonus +4.

Level 9:
Fists of Iron 1d8-1/1d8-1
Fighting Fury: at will, the character can enter a fighting fury. While furious, the character gains a +2 bonus to damage rolls and becomes immune to fear. However, the character cannot retreat from combat. Once it has begun, a fighting fury cannot be ended until combat ends. Counts as 2 powers.

Level 13:
As noted above, the Legwork and Swashbuckling bonuses to AC increases to +3 each; no additional power cost (subsumed in Legwork). Total AC bonus +6.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Vera Singh - first President of the United Terran Republic

A bit of flavor and background for These Stars Are Ours! - Stellagama Publishing's space-opera setting for the Cepheus Engine and other 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi games.
President Vera Singh
of the United Terran Republic
art by Anthony Suorez

Vera Singh (2182-2255) was the United Terran Republic's founding (grand)mother, or "Granny Vera" as many Terrans refer to her - the UTR's first president and before that leader of the resistance fighting for Terra's freedom from its old Reticulan masters.

She was born in 2182 and fought in the Chiwak Wars, in the Terran Expeditionary Army which back then was an auxiliary force for the Reticulan Empire. She enlisted in 2200 and mustered out in 2216 as a Sergeant after four terms of service. From there she ended up in the Returnees' Circles and the Resistance. She suffered some serious injuries at the war, leaving her scarred. Official portraits are typically from the mid-2230's, in the early War, when she was in her 50's. She died at a very young age in 23rd century terms (73 - the average Terran life span, combat deaths aside, is well above 100) in 2255, possibly from lingering inoperable injuries from her combat days against the Chiwak.

Hero of Terran Reconstruction Medal
Highest Terran non-combat award.
Bearing President Singh's portrait.
art by Anthony Suorez
The term "Granny Vera" also refers to the UTR government as a whole, as she became a symbol of the UTR and, during her tenure, synonymous with it. The current President Shen dislikes this, and so does his administrator, but people's sentiments are a stubborn thing. Singh's face is also on the Cr10 bill, which has earned it the nickname "Granny", i.e. "I'll give you five grannies for this, i.e. Cr50 in five Cr10 bills.

So raise a toast to ol' Vera and the Republic she has built!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shanah Tova - Stellagama Publishing Jewish New Year Sale!

Stellagama Publishing wishes you all Shana Tova - Happy Jewish New Year. For the occasion, we offer a 25% discount off our products from now until September 24th, 2017. Setting material is at %30 discount as part of the September Setting DriveThruRPG sale!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cepheus Engine Variant Rules: Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters


Yesterday I posted Classic Traveller variant rules for Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters and I have been requested to convert them to the Cepheus Engine. So here is the Cepheus version of these rules!

Anyhow, sometimes the Referee would want to create a situation in which the player characters face a large number of undisciplined, unskilled combatants - an angry mob of locals with torches and pitchforks, looters in a disaster - or even a zombie horde! As per the Cepheus Engine combat rules, as written, this will create much paperwork and die rolls as each member of a mob suffers wounds to their characteristics and makes their attack rolls at the DM-3 "unskilled" level.

I wrote the following variant rules to reduce that paperwork and die-rolling load and thus facilitate situations in which skilled PCs face a large number of unskilled or minimally skilled combatants. Additionally, I added rules for relentless monsters which do not easily die from accumulated wounds.

Streamlined Armor
The Cepheus Engine uses the default armor system from the 2D6 Sci-Fi SRD. That system presents armor as a damage absorber - i.e. it subtracts the target's armor rating from any attack's damage. For the sake of simplicity when dealing with the combatants presented in this blog post, I propose a simpler armor system. Under that variant system, armor does not absorb damage but rather incurs a negative DM to incoming attack rolls, as presented in the following table:

Armor TypeTo-Hit DM
Jack-0/-1*
Mesh-1
Flak-2
Reflec-0/-8**
Cloth-3
Combat-6

* The first number is against ranged attacks, the second against melee attacks.
* The first number is against non-laser attacks, the second against laser attacks.

Mobs
A mob is a number of untrained irregulars who lack adequate combat training or tactical awareness. They may be enraged or even fanatical, but will typically rush at their enemies instead of employing a more cautious tactical approach. As noted above, the classical "low-tech local peasants chasing the spacemen with pitchforks and torches" or "zombie apocalypse" are good examples of this theme.

Each mob includes up to 12 members. In many cases there will be multiple mobs involved. Do not track individual characteristics, damage, or skills of mob members. The mob moves as one unit. It makes a single attack roll per round. Make this roll at an effective "Skill-0", with DM+1 for every four active members in the mob, or part of four. Thus, a big mob of 12 members will attack at base DM+3, modified, of course, by weapon and range DMs; a mob of 5 members will attack at base DM+2. Make the attack as if the mob is one character; use automatic fire or shotgun rules as usual. While the entire gang might be unloading a hail of bullets, these shots are badly aimed and only a few have a chance of striking true.

PCs attack the mob as if it is one target. Most mobs are either unarmored or wearing Jack or Mesh armor; apply DMs accordingly. A non-automatic ranged attack which hits the mob incapacitates one member; if its Effect is +4 or better, it incapacitates two members, one from the bullet and another from "Shock & Awe". When autofire, a shotgun, or a grenade hit a mob, a number mob members equal to the attack's Effect are incapacitated. Obviously, as with single shots, "incapacitated" does not necessarily mean "killed by a bullet" but rather "out of the fight" - killed, wounded, or maybe just shocked enough to be ineffective in fighting. The latter is the reason why autofire can incapacitate above 4 mob members while a Cepheus Engine autofire burst only contains 4 bullets.

Mobs are much more dangerous in melee, with a to-hit DM+1 per 2 members rather than per 4, and making two attacks per round rather than one. When skilled characters fights a mob in melee, they "cleave" - each hit incapacitates a number of mob members equal to the attack's Effect, up to the character's relevant melee skill.

Mobs rarely fight well under fire. In any of the following cases, throw 5+ for the mob to disperse in panic and be effectively removed from the fight. This number rises to 8+ for frenzied mobs. Fanatical mobs are immune to this effect and will continue swarming the PCs regardless of death. Reasons for such morale throws include:
  • The first time the mob comes under ranged fire.
  • The first time the mob loses a member.
  • When the mob first falls to half or less of its size.
  • Each time the mob is attacked with flames, explosives, or similar shocking attack.
  • When first attacked by armored vehicles or troops in battledress.
A "Rabble Rouser" character with the Leadership skill may attempt to rally a dispersed mob by a Leadership, INT, Difficult (DM-2) throw.

Grunts
Conscripts out of basic training, as well as street criminals with some combat experience, fight far better than a mob of rabble. Whoever, they still are not a match for professionals. Grunts fight individually, as per the standard rules, including movement and attacks. However, they have a total DM+0 base modifier (from skill, characteristics, etc) to hit targets, subject to armor DMs and range difficulty. Any attack which hits a grunt incapacitates them. Grunts use morale laws as above, with a throw of 8+ (apply any sergeant's or officer's Leadership skill as a -DM to this throw); this roll refers to the grunts' unit or squad, which may be broken

The Referee might also want to consider various small-to-medium-sized wild animals, but not apex predators or particularly large animals, as grunts.

Monsters
Sometimes, felling a monster is not a simple matter of riddling it with bullets or chopping it one piece at a time - it just keeps fighting! In this case, attack the monster as per the Cepheus Engine rules, and roll damage on a hit. However, do not count accumulated damage. Instead, ignore any attack which does 14 or less damage. Any attack doing 15 or more damage kills the monster. For particularly fearsome monsters, make that 16 or less damage; this monstrosity will continue fighting even under a hail of bullets until a lucky attacks rolls 17+ damage (which is unlikely on the typical gun with 3D6 damage).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Classic Traveller Variant Rules: Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters

Art by JoakimOlofsson
Classic Traveller has wonderful combat rules, among my favorites in the entire tabletop RPG world. They work wonderfully well when small teams of relatively skilled combatants - or predatory animals - face each other in pitched combat, with guns blazing and lasers glowing.

However, sometimes the Referee would want to create a situation in which the player characters face a large number of undisciplined, unskilled combatants - an angry mob of locals with torches and pitchforks, looters in a disaster - or even a zombie horde! In the Classic Traveller combat system, as written, this will create much paperwork and die rolls as each member of a mob suffers wounds to their characteristics and makes their attack rolls at the DM-5 "unskilled" level.

I wrote the following variant rules to reduce that paperwork and die-rolling load and thus facilitate situations in which skilled PCs face a large number of unskilled or minimally skilled combatants. Additionally, I added rules for relentless monsters which do not easily die from accumulated wounds.

Mobs
A mob is a number of untrained irregulars who lack adequate combat training or tactical awareness. They may be enraged or even fanatical, but will typically rush at their enemies instead of employing a more cautious tactical approach. As noted above, the classical "low-tech local peasants chasing the spacemen with pitchforks and torches" or "zombie apocalypse" are good examples of this theme.

Each mob includes up to 12 members. In many cases there will be multiple mobs involved. Do not track individual characteristics, damage, or skills of mob members. The mob moves as one unit. It makes a single attack roll per round. Make this roll at an effective "Skill-0", with DM+1 for every four active members in the mob, or part of four. Thus, a big mob of 12 members will attack at base DM+3, modified, of course, by weapon and range DMs; a mob of 5 members will attack at base DM+2. Make the attack as if the mob is one character; apply automatic fire or shotgun rules as usual. While the entire gang might be unloading a hail of bullets, these shots are badly aimed and only a few have a chance of striking true.

PCs attack the mob as if it is one target. Most mobs are either unarmored or wearing Jack or Mesh armor; apply DMs accordingly. A non-automatic ranged attack which hits the mob incapacitates one member. When autofire, a shotgun, or a grenade hit a mob, throw 1d6; this is the number of mob members who fall. When using a flamethrower or machine gun, throw 2d6. Obviously, "incapacitated" does not necessarily mean "killed by a bullet" but rather "out of the fight" - killed, wounded, or maybe just shocked enough to be ineffective in fighting. The latter is the reason why autofire can incapacitate up to 6 mob members while a Classic Traveller autofire burst only contains 4 bullets.

Mobs are much more dangerous in melee, with a to-hit DM+1 per 2 members rather than per 4, and making two attacks per round rather than one. When skilled characters fights a mob in melee, they "cleave" - each hit incapacitates a number of mob members equal to the skilled character's relevant melee skill.
Mobs rarely fight well under fire. In any of the following cases, throw 5+ for the mob to disperse in panic and be effectively removed from the fight. This number rises to 8+ for frenzied mobs. Fanatical mobs are immune to this effect and will continue swarming the PCs regardless of death. Reasons for such morale throws include:
  • The first time the mob comes under ranged fire.
  • The first time the mob loses a member.
  • When the mob first falls to half or less of its size.
  • Each time the mob is attacked with fire, explosives, or similar shocking attack.
  • When first attacked by armored vehicles or troops in battledress.


Grunts
Conscripts out of basic training, as well as street criminals with some combat experience, fight far better than a mob of rabble. Whoever, they still are not a match for professionals. Grunts fight individually, as per the standard rules, including movement and attacks. However, they have a total DM+0 base modifier (from skill, characteristics, etc) to hit targets, subject to armor and range DMs. Any attack which hits a grunt incapacitates them. Note that Classic Traveller Book 1 Morale applies to grunts.

The Referee might also want to consider various small-to-medium-sized wild animals, but not apex predators or particularly large animals, as grunts.

Monsters
Sometimes, felling a monster is not a simple matter of riddling it with bullets or chopping it one piece at a time - it just keeps fighting! In this case, attack the monster as per the Classic Traveller Book 1 rules, and roll damage on a hit. However, do not count accumulated damage. Instead, ignore any attack which does 14 or less damage. Any attack doing 15 or more damage kills the monster. For particularly fearsome monsters, make that 16 or less damage; this monstrosity will continue fighting even under a hail of bullets until a lucky attacks rolls 17+ damage (which is unlikely on the typical gun with 3D damage).