Tuesday, April 23, 2019

OSRenstein: cleric megapost!

Divine miracles are fueled by Favor, a measure of the cleric’s divine standing with their pantheon. A cleric’s maximum Favor is increased as they level up and also by their WIS modifier. A 1st-level cleric has a base Favor of 0, but with a WIS of +1 would have a maximum Favor of 1.

Favor fuels divine miracles. Whenever a miracle requires Favor, you spend one point from your total. One Favor is restored to the cleric every day, at what time of day is subject to the deity worshiped and is called Observance. To regain more Favor quickly, a cleric must perform a Communion.

Divine miracles are divided into spheres. All clerics are bestowed the spheres of Divination and Healing, but each deity has their own sphere that only their dedicated clerics can cast miracles from.

Divine spheres of magic have seven levels of power. A cleric cannot cast miracles higher than their experience level. For example, a 3rd-level cleric can use 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-level miracles but cannot access miracles of 4th-level or higher.

Divine Power is equal to the cleric's HD plus their WIS modifier. Several miracles also rely on this Divine Power to work effectively. Most Sacraments and some Miracles require a Spell Check, this is done by rolling 2d6 and adding the cleric's Divine Power.

All deities have a specific time of day when their clerics are renewed and refreshed, this is called Observance. Clerics receive 1 point of Favor, and all of their day-long miracles expire at this time. Clerics who have Sinned do not have their Favor renewed, and any active miracles also end at this time.

All deities have a collection of 3 to 5 commandments that a cleric must adhere to. If they break one of these commandments, or fail to perform it when the opportunity arises, they Sin against their deity and lose all access to Divine Powers until they Atone.

When a cleric casts a Miracle, they spend 1 or more points of Favor. Some Miracles require a Spell Check when there is some chance that another person could resist the Miracle.

Sacraments are Divine powers similar to Miracles that all clerics have access to. These include Atonement, Blessing, Bolster, Communion, Sanctify, and Turning. Sacraments can be performed by any cleric that has at least 1 or more points of Favor. However, Sacraments require a Spell Check and if the result is 10 or higher then the Sacrament doesn't cost Favor.

If a cleric has zero Favor and they perform a Sacrament, all deities consider that a Sin. Some Sacraments will activate Favor costs, and if the cleric has no Favor to draw upon then they have Sinned twice! In both cases, the Sacrament is performed but the cleric has Sinned.

This Sacrament can be invoked for a cleric who has Sinned and must restore their deity's Favor. If the cleric seeking Atonement committed the Sin by accident or via magical compulsion, the Atonement can be performed by the cleric in question. However, for clerics atoning for deliberate and willful Sins, an Atonement must be invoked by another cleric of the same faith.

The Atonement is unique, and should be tailored to the Sin committed. Many times this requires the atoning cleric to fulfill a quest for their deity, but the deity may call for a sacrifice of some kind in place of a quest.

This Sacrament takes 1 hour to perform and must be invoked within a Sanctified space.

A Blessing is bestowed upon another person or creature (never the cleric themself) or upon a vial of water no larger than 1 pint. Blessings take one minute to perform (or 10 combat rounds), and the cleric can take no other action while the Blessing is made - no movement and no defending.

Performing a Blessing upon an NPC grants them a +1 bonus to Armor and Attack scores.

Performing a Blessing upon a PC grants the player a bonus 1d4 which they have until the cleric's next Observance. This bonus 1d4 can be used at any time before or after a roll. It can be used with a Saving Throw, Reaction check, Surprise check, Skill check, Attack roll, Armor roll, or damage roll. The character can only have one Blessing at a time, and if the character Sins, as defined by the deity's commandments, then they lose the Blessing immediately. While a PC has an active Blessing, all of their followers and any hired retainers have +1 to Morale.

Performing a Blessing upon a vial of water makes Holy Water. This is permanent but always requires a point of Favor, no Spell Check is rolled. Otherwise, and in general, Blessings last until the cleric's next Observance.

Holy Water can be used to store a single Divine Power, either a Sacrament or a Miracle, which is activated when drunk. The person or creature that drinks the Holy Water becomes the target of the spell. The spell must be cast into the Holy Water after it is made.

Holy Water also causes 2d4 damage to Un-dead or Demon creatures.

Clerics can bolster their own health by spending 10 minutes kneeling and praying with both hands on their holy symbol. A cleric cannot move or take any other actions while Bolstering. At the end of this prayer, the cleric recovers Hit Points equal to their HD plus CON modifier (same as a Rest).

This Sacrament has multiple functions. The most common use is to provide funeral rites for a deceased person or creature. At the completion of the Communion, the body cannot be raised as Un-dead.

Communion is also used to bring new clerics into the service of the deity. At the end of the Communion, the character abandons their old class and becomes a cleric. Any PC wishing to undergo this change becomes dual-classed.

Finally, a cleric may wish to seek guidance or counsel directly from their deity, and Communion also allows them to do this. At the conclusion, the cleric can ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, or one-word answer. The cleric can ask a number of such questions equal to their Hit Dice. Answers given are correct within the limits of the deity’s knowledge. In cases where a yes-no answer would be misleading or contrary to the deity’s interests, a short phrase (five words or less) may be given as an answer instead.

Communion takes 2 hours to perform and requires a Sanctified space.

This Sacrament allows a cleric to create a holy space, suitable for other Sacraments. Typically, Sanctify is performed at a cleric's time of Observance as the holy space created by Sanctify expires at that time. If a cleric spends 5 Favor while performing Sanctify, the space continues to remain Sanctified for as long as the cleric lives.

A Sanctified space is very beneficial for clerics in service to the same deity, allowing Miracles to be performed at +1 Power and bestowing a +1 bonus to reaction checks. Un-dead and Demons whose HD is equal or less than the performing cleric's Divine Power cannot enter the Sanctified space, and if they manage to make it inside their Attack, Armor, and Morale are all reduced by the cleric's Divine Power. Also, clerics within Sanctified spaces have Advantage while attempting to Turn such creatures.

While they remain inside the Sanctified space, clerics in service to the same deity can see when another person within the Sanctified space is cursed, charmed, poisoned, or under the effects of a Geas, no roll or Miracle is required.

Sanctified spaces are required for Atonements and Communions.

Clerics can Turn wild beasts and unholy creatures by holding their deity's holy symbol aloft and commanding the creatures back. This is the only Sacrament that never costs Favor to use!

At any time the cleric may use an action to make a Turning attempt. Clerics can attempt to Turn any creature with the Animal, Un-dead, or Demon trait. This Turning check uses 2d6 and adds their Divine Power. Unlike a Spell Check, this roll doesn't suffer penalties for wearing armor. The base roll needed is 8 or higher to turn Animals, 10 or higher to turn Un-dead, and a 12 or higher to turn Demons. The HD of the target is added to the number needed to successfully Turn them. For example, a Demon with 3 Hit Dice will only be Turned on a roll of 15 or higher.

Animals and Un-dead that are successfully Turned will try to flee from the cleric until the cleric is out of sight. If cornered or trapped, the Turning ends and the creature will likely attack the nearest opponent. Demons that are successfully Turned are not compelled to flee, but cannot willingly approach the cleric. If forced to approach the cleric, or cornered by the cleric, the Turning ends and the Demon may act as it pleases.

An attempt to Turn a creature that has already broken free from being Turned will automatically fail. Failing a Turning attempt doesn't count as breaking free from being Turned, and the cleric may attempt to Turn a creature (or creatures) as many times as they wish.

1st: Detection

The cleric names something to detect. This could be poison, disease, gold, food, magic, un-dead, life, heat, etc. Anything that could be defined as a substance, whether it is a material or energy (illness, disease, or secret doors could be detected, but deception, emotions, or "evil" could not).
The cleric can sense the presence of this chosen substance if it is Nearby even through walls or barriers, as long as they are not magically concealed. The cleric detects it as a glowing aura. This Miracle lasts for as long as the cleric concentrates on it.

2nd: Augury
The cleric is gifted with a supernatural sense of what is about to happen for certain situations of their choosing. The cleric rolls dice equal to their maximum Favor - they can be of any size. Until their next Observance, the cleric can use these dice rolls to replace any rolls of the same size dice. For example, a cleric casts Augury and rolls 2d20, these results can be used later to replace rolls that used d20s but wouldn't be usable for rolls made with d4s, d6s, etc.

3rd: Read Minds
The cleric can read the surface thoughts of creatures as if they were clearly visible signs. The cleric can only Read Minds of creatures with Hit Dice equal to or less than the cleric's Spell Check. This Miracle lasts for as long as the cleric concentrates on it.

4th: Clairvoyance
The cleric can see and hear at a location they have already visited. The ability to see and hear in this location is limited to whatever the cleric's former movements were (if the cleric had only walked around the western steps of an arena then their Clairvoyance is limited to that area of the arena).
For Clairvoyance to work the location must be within a certain range of the cleric equal to their Divine Power in miles. Anyone trying to detect magic or living beings will see the luminous form of the cleric using Clairvoyance. This Miracle lasts for as long as the cleric concentrates on it.

5th: Espy
The cleric describes or names a specific kind of animal, plant, person, or object that is familiar to them, and the cleric becomes aware of how far away and which direction they are in. If the subject of their Espy is moving, the cleric is aware of the speed and direction of movement as well.
For Espy to work the subject must be within a certain range of the cleric equal to their Divine Power in miles. This Miracle lasts for as long as the cleric concentrates on it.

6th: Revelation
The cleric names or describes a person, place, or object and a brief summary of significant lore is brought to the cleric's mind about the thing named. The lore might consist of current legends, forgotten stories, or even secret lore that has been destroyed or concealed. If the thing named is of no importance, then the cleric may learn nothing. The lore learned is always accurate but may be framed in obscure language ("the wraiths resist their descent into darkness and persevere along an honorable path" or "only a child of light may awaken the true power of the axe").

7th: True Sight
Until their next Observance, the cleric, or another creature they touch, gains the ability to see all things as they actually are. Anything concealed or hidden with magic and the true forms of polymorphed creatures are revealed, illusions appear as obvious outlines of what they are.
True Sight doesn't penetrate solid matter, and won't reveal things hidden by mundane means such as cover of fog, disguises, someone hiding in shadows, or a secret door that is concealed through nonmagical means.

Sphere of HEALING
1st: Heal Wounds

The cleric touches a subject, not themself, and instantly heals them of hit point damage. The amount healed is equal to their WIS modifier multiplied by their HD.

2nd: Death Rite
The cleric touches a subject, not themself, and until the cleric's next Observance the subject has advantage on all death saving throws and drain attacks. While this Miracle is active the subject, whether they died while the Miracle was active or were dead when the Miracle was bestowed upon them, cannot be raised as an Un-dead - this effect is permanent.

3rd: Mass Heal
The cleric forms a circle with their subjects, usually a ring of hands, and instantly heals those in the circle of hit point damage equal to the cleric's Divine Power. This miracle will only affect a number of people equal to the cleric's maximum Favor, and attempting to heal more than that won't work - and is a Sin.

4th: Restoration
The cleric touches a subject, not themself, and instantly heals them of illness, disease, poison, or impairment. If the subject is blind, deaf, crippled, or missing a limb, this miracle restores their vision, hearing, or abilities.

5th: Magical Restoration
The cleric touches a subject, not themself, and instantly heals them of drained Hit Dice, ability score damage, and any curses affecting them are also removed. If the subject is under the effect of a Geas or magical compulsion, this miracle also removes those.

6th: Heal Body
The cleric touches a subject, not themself, to instantly heal someone of all damage. The subject recovers their maximum total hit points, and if any diseases or poisons are present those are also removed.

7th: Raise Dead
Upon performing the Miracle, the subject is restored to life as if their death never occurred but in a weakened condition. The subject must have died recently, within a number days equal to or less than the cleric's Divine Power. The subject's body must also be whole with their heart and brain intact. All of the subject's ability scores are at -1 and they must Rest to recover them, magical healing will not restore this loss.
The cleric permanently sacrifices a point of Favor to perform this miracle. Using this miracle on an enemy of the cleric's faith, or a body that doesn't have an intact and connected heart and brain, fails outright and is also a Sin.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

OSRenstein: illusion magic

Illusions have a special kind of resistance. When a person or creature overcomes the effect of an illusion, it does not Misfire. A Misfire can only occur when the illusion is first cast, but creatures can "see through" the illusion later.

When a PC is first confronted with an illusion, they must make a Saving Throw to see through the illusion. The Saving Throw uses an ability based upon the kind of illusion they see, and this requires GM judgement. The illusion of a collapsing ceiling might use Constitution, but whenever in doubt about which ability to use the default is Intelligence.

If another character tries to assist a PC in seeing through an illusion the PC may add a +4 to their Saving Throw, but only if this is communicated effectively.

Often players will deduce when something in the game world is an illusion, even when their characters fail their Saving Throws. Remind yourself, and them, that this is an ideal time to role-play as if the illusion were real.

NPCs who view illusions only see through them if their Hit Dice exceeds the Spell Power of the illusion. Another character could try to get an NPC to see through an illusion. If this happens, add the character's Hit Dice to the NPC's Hit Dice. If the combined total doesn't equal or exceed the Spell Power then the NPC can't see through the illusion and may believe the character is affected by their own magical illusion, delusion, or mental illness.

Illusions that "kill" characters put them into a trance-like coma that only ends when the spell ends, or the magic affect on their body and mind is dispelled. Illusionary attacks and affects always use the creating wizard's Abilities and Skills to determine their effectiveness. Thus, a wizard who has created an illusionary minotaur to fight a group of goblins uses his own Attack and Armor scores when determining how well the illusion fights.

Un-dead are immune to all illusions and their effects. Some creatures, especially Demons, have natural resistances as well. In general, illusions with Power high enough to affect them will modify the behavior of NPCs and monsters.

I don't know if I'm taking the "bite" out of illusions by ruling it this way. Illusions were definitely more prominent in 1st edition AD&D, but I think they required a lot more arbitration on the GM's part. I might have to write guidelines for how illusions work, but for now the comparing of Hit Dice will have to do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

the Ghost Tower

This tower sits like a teetering stack of broken bricks on Hush Island, which has no bridges to cross to or docks to park boats. The tower juts out of the mouth of the Crowkut River in Marakāven, a thoroughfare which splits the city into northern and southern sections. Despite its central position in the river, captains and sailors give the island a wide berth. Nobody knows who the wizard was that built it and presumably lived there, but everyone assumes it was a wizard because the tower is infamous for swallowing up anyone who dares to explore the structure and never regurgitating them back out into the world. A few brave explorers have set foot on the island itself, but anyone who steps foot into the building is always lost. For this reason, Bellhaven's courts do not have a death penalty but instead sentence the most loathsome of criminals to enter the Ghost Tower.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

OSRenstein: learning new spells

When a wizard wants to learn a new spell, they must first find the spell they want to learn, then spend several hours studying the arcane formula.

The level of a spell is the number of hours a wizard must spend in secluded study with the formula, and this level also represents how difficult it is to learn. At the end of their study, the wizard rolls 2d6 and adds their HD and INT modifier to the roll. If the result is 10 plus the level of the spell or higher, they learn the spell. If they fail to learn the spell, they can try again after leveling up.

This was something I looked forward to and simultaneously dreaded when I played wizards in 2nd edition AD&D: rolling to learn new spells. In this system, higher level spells are more difficult to learn, but accomplished wizards learn lower spells more easily. I like the idea that wizards have to study to learn their spells, even if I don't like the Vancian style of daily studying.

Monday, April 15, 2019

James Smith memorial fund

In case you weren't aware, James Smith recently passed away. He ran the Dreams of Mythic Fantasy blog and every week posted a "OSR News" update which exhaustively detailed new gaming releases as well as reprints and updates to already released books. He was one of the first people in the OSR that I started following online.

He didn't have life insurance or any kind of real savings, and his family are trying to raise $700 to help cover the funeral costs. Considering the heavy costs of most funeral parlors, this doesn't seem like a lot. Unfortunately, I'm unemployed right now and I felt like I could only spare $10 to help out. However, according to blogger's analytics, if every person reading my blog donated $5 then they should be able to reach their goal of $700. It's not much, but it could really help them out in exchange for everything James gave the OSR blogosphere.

The link to make a donation is: paypal.me/jamessmithmemory

Thursday, April 11, 2019

OSRenstein: healing & rest

When characters spend at least 6 hours without strenuous activity of any kind (walking, fighting, casting spells, etc.) they recover Hit Points equal to their level + CON. Recovered Hit Points can be reduced by a negative CON modifier, but characters always heal at least 1 Hit Point. This recuperative period is a Rest, and is often used for sleeping, especially in dungeons.

Characters cannot receive Hit Point recovery from more than two Rests in a single 24-hour period. Each Rest must be a continuous six hours. It can be interrupted briefly, but must be returned to immediately for the Rest to take affect.

After a Rest, wizards also recover Magic Points equal to their level + INT. Unlike Hit Points, a wizard can recover Magic Points from multiple Rests in one 24-hour period.

Ability scores are sometimes lowered from traumatic injury or through arcane sacrifice. These lost points can be restored at a rate of 1 point per day, except three Rests during the course of the day are required. Some ability score losses cannot be recovered except through magical means.

Another of my attempts at simplifying something that is often complex, or turns complex in play. I wanted to codify exactly how long PCs need to rest to recover, and I wanted that period to be defined in regards to hit point and ability score recovery. The way magic points work hasn't been playtested yet, so this description might change in the future.

Monday, April 8, 2019

trans-dimensional mimics

Zaos might have been the first god, nobody is sure if the brittle parchments etched with the name are true accounts of a divine being or if they were forgeries meant to mislead seekers into misadventure and folly. Nobody is even sure if Zaos is male or female. Dragons call Zaos the first primordial serpent, elves refuse to utter his name for fear of drawing his attention, and dwarves laugh that Zaos is a clever myth designed to reveal the treachery of magic. The truth is Zaos is a god of time and space, it doesn't matter if Zaos was here first because he/she/they are everywhere.

Not everyone calls Zaos by the same name: 1) Zaos the First, 2) Mimiclord, 3) Hidden King, 4) Key Master, 5) Satan the Serpent, 6) Spy Master, 7) Father of Lies, 8) Demon in Darkness

Zaos has plans and plots that extend beyond anything the PCs could even imagine. Trying to fight Zaos is pointless, because anything you know about him is what he wants you to know. If you're fighting him, it's because he wants you to fight him, it's part of his plan. He might offer you a deal to give you something you want, but most of the time he's watching and waiting. He does this with mimics.

What are mimics:
1) Mimics are his loyal servants. All mimics worship Zaos as their god, for he did create them. If they fulfill their duties, they believe Zaos will embrace them into the folds of time and space in which Zaos lives.
2) Zaos is all mimics, they are physical manifestations of his divine self. Wherever a mimic appears, it is part of Zaos'es sensory apparatus into the plane of reality.
3) Mimics are akin to golems, designed and constructed for a specific purpose. Zaos, in his madness, has made so many mimics for so many contradictory reasons that he has often forgotten what a mimic was for. The ones in our world are the ones he has forgotten about and left behind.
4) Every mimic is a time machine, acting as a bridge between one specific time and place to another, it only requires the right key or password to activate and recognize a servant of Zaos.

What does Zaos want today:
1) Knowledge, and also to keep it away from some people. Mimics will appear around wizards and schools of magic. Most of the time they only spy on the arcane arts, but any wizard who attempts to study time or manipulate it through magic will be drawing a target on their own back. Only Zaos can know the secrets of time travel!
2) He's a teacher, fond of challenging his unwilling students. Mimics will appear to test the PCs' ability to find them, the mimics will ambush the PCs when they can. Mimics who are spotted will feign surprise when spotted and try to flee. Lone PCs will find themselves in one-on-one duels with mimics. They never kill, but if the PC is defeated the mimic will leave a note on their unconscious body, written in one of the oldest languages, and all it says is "get good."
3) Even he's forgotten. In his struggle to remember he gets bored and distracted easily. He wants to see how far he can push these adventurers around, every chest and container they encounter will be a mimic. Every time a mimic manifests it will giggle and laugh maniacally. Mimics will keep appearing until somebody dies from one, then the final mimic gets sad and weeps before it dies of its own accord. Mimics will never appear for these characters ever again.
4) Endless and perpetual war. He hates the living, for he was the first god and everything that came after is an affront to his existence. He wants to destroy everything and everyone. He's using mimics to try to replace everything in the world, and these damn adventurers and spelunkers keep finding his first experiments. He's going to start branching out, mimic ladders and mimic doors and mimic chairs. Soon after that it will be mimic carriages and mimic fences and mimic chandeliers. He wants the living to fear the world they live in. Once he has perfected mimicry of objects, he'll move onto mimicking animals and then people. The more paranoid he can make the living, the better.

inspired by a combination of playing too much of Dark Souls and reading Michael Raston's glorious post about mimics

Sunday, April 7, 2019

OSRenstein: playtest 1

We playtested some of the combat and magic yesterday. I've already started to change a few things. The Luck system seems to work adequately, but I'm thinking I made skill checks too difficult. I could probably simplify combat even more as well. Back to the drawing board I think.

I'm not sure when I'll get to play again.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

OSRenstein: Load & Encumbrance

If characters carry too much weight they can become encumbered. Being encumbered slows you down and limits what you can do. You track this with your Load stat.

Everything you might carry or wear has a Weight assigned to it, and if the total Weight exceeds your Load then you are encumbered. While you are encumbered you can only move OR act in a combat round, and outside of combat you only move at half your regular speed. If you travel for more than four hours in a single day while encumbered then you require twice as much water and food.

Your Load is 5 plus your STR modifier. The most you can carry and still move is 10 plus your STR. Characters with negative STR carry less!

Armor and weapons all have weight, and many items can be stowed with only minimal additions to a character's Load. Worn items, such as cloaks, jewelry, shoes, etc. do not have weight for encumbrance purposes. The GM doesn't track the PCs' Loads, but can call for an audit at any time. Violating encumbrance means you immediately "lost" something along the way. Likewise, not having something written down on your sheet means your character isn't carrying it.

This is my attempt at simplifying a system that is often too complex and filled with too many numbers. Load is a term that comes directly from Dungeon World, but a fair bit of inspiration for this came from Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April 2019

Work continues on OSRenstein, which I might end up calling something else. I hate naming things! It's coming along though. I'm at 50 pages, and decided to codify some divine magic things this week. Playtesting begins this Saturday!

I should have written this update yesterday, but I've been tired and forgetful. Moreso than usual. I'm training for a commercial driver's license and I failed the road test last Thursday, which means I need to practice a little more and re-test. I find out the new date and time tomorrow. I'm anxious and distracted because I need this license, and I need to go back to working and having income for food, and rent, and paying bills. I've been unemployed for five weeks now, mainly to go to truck driving school, and I can't afford to be unemployed for much longer. If I fail the re-test I'll have to get a job somewhere while I plan to retake the test a third time. Like I said, I'm anxious.

All of this has been distracting. I haven't written as much as I would have liked. Right now my 'to do' list for OSRenstein looks like this:
  • expand Divine magic, need deities explained and universal spells (partially completed)
  • clarify contested skill checks
  • explain Backstab ability
  • define Game Time
  • add falling damage
  • get some monsters written up in here!
  • revise arcane spells? = spell power affects potency of spell, not duration
  • undead are mindless and hostile, afraid of the sun/bright light/fire
  • make mutation chart for spell misfires and consuming spell crystals

  • Hopefully I can get most of that done before Saturday. Meanwhile, more excerpts are incoming... or outgoing... expect at least one thing every week.