July 1, 2016

Dragon Heresy sneak peek: Oath of Yggdrasil (paladin oath)

One of the more challenging and enjoyable parts of writing Dragon Heresy is creating subclasses. Don't get me wrong - the basic subclasses provided with the SRD5.1 are nice, and a good start.

But the defining of additional sub-classes isn't just an exercise of "ooh, cool powers." I have done more world-building in defining these than I have in trying to build the history of the setting. Who the adventurers can be needs to be a reflection of the world in which they live, and these subclasses are a gateway to that.

I teased +James Spahn the other day about a paladin ability I made with a tie in to his personal fondness for a particular animal. Here's the completed draft, which has not yet been torn asunder by my playtesters. But I thought it would be fun to share.

Paladin Oath of Yggdrasil

The Oath of Yggdrasil places the paladin directly in the service of the protection of the World Tree against those that would do it harm. This includes all “outsiders” such as demons, devils, dragons, and other creatures from beyond the universe that would seek to unmake the tree and remake the world to their own image.

The paladin of Yggdrasil is of the world in a profound way, and seeks both to protect and to know all that lies under its branches. They consider themselves the personal servants and warriors of Woden, who sacrificed himself upon the branches of Yggdrasil to gain the wisdom of runes. More aggressive followers of the druidic gods may also be paladins of Yggdrasil.

Tenets of Yggdrasil

Though the path of the followers of Yggdrasil can be as varied as the worlds that shelter under its branches, paladins hold generally to these tenets.

Fight the Dragons. Wherever chromatic dragons are encountered, they are a threat to the world tree and must be fought and slain. This is doubly true for fiends and outsiders, whom the tree is said to exclude from the world.

Protect the Tree. Always act to protect the tree from harm.

Serve Woden. Regardless of your call to other Aesir, always remember the sacrifice of Woden, who hung speared upon Yggdrasil to bring the light and wisdom of the runes to the world.

Travel. To serve the tree you must know the tree. Wander far, learn much, and take pleasure and joy in the many branches of the tree.

Oath Spells

You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed.

Oath of Yggdrasil Spells

Paladin Level
faerie fire, longstrider
misty step, moonbeam
call lightning, protection from energy
dimension door, freedom of movement
legend lore, teleportation circle

Channel Divinity

When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.

Ward of Yggdrasil. As an action, you present your holy symbol and speak a prayer censuring aberrations, dragons, or fiends using your Channel Divinity. Each affected creature that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.

Branch of Yggdrasil. By invoking your connection to the World Tree, you cause 20 contiguous square feet (four 5’ squares, which must touch) to turn into difficult terrain. Any that start in, or cross this area suffer 1d8 + your Charisma bonus as Control damage. Use the paladin’s Spell Save DC as the target to overcome the difficult terrain by attacking to break free.

Word of Ratatosk
Starting at 7th level, you gain the powers of the messenger being Ratatosk, and the ability to use the sending spell at will. Dogs and wolves within 120’ must make a DC 15 Wisdom save or else they will stop whatever they are doing and suddenly look towards the target of your communication, wherever it may be, because SQUIRREL!

Woden’s Sacrifice
Beginning at 15th level, you may perform an echo of Woden’s sacrifice of himself to gain power, knowledge, and foresight by voluntarily reducing you vigor maximum by 15, you gain a point of inspiration that you may use yourself, or bestow upon others, by spending your reaction. When you take a long rest, the lost vigor is restored, and any unused points of inspiration are lost.

Root of the World Tree

At 20th level, your connection to the World Tree increases to the point where you never need to eat or drink, as you derive sustenance from Yggdrasil itself. You may also invoke an Aura of Vigor that allows you, as a bonus action, to bestow an additional 3d6 temporary vigor to another creature. The aura lasts for one minute, while the vigor lasts for one hour. This power will not affect aberrations, dragons or any creature with chromatic dragon blood or bloodline, or fiends. Once you invoke the aura, you must take a long rest before you do it again.

June 30, 2016

GURPS Day Summary June 24 - June 30, 2016

Thursday is GURPSDay, and below you can find the blog activity from the last seven days.

Over the last week, as of 1630pm CST, there have been 31 GURPS-Related posts from our list of 54 blogs that have popped up on the radar screen.

Sorry for the late and single post today. I'm single-dad-ing it this week, and I almost literally have no idea what day it is. We were saved by the fact that Thursday is also gymnastics day.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you're interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line.

June 29, 2016

Blog of Silence - Writing and Stay-at-home Dad

Been quiet this week, so I apologize for that. The cause? My wife is in Italy for the annual Hwa Rang Do world tournament and black sash seminars - in addition to being a PhD in Wastewater Treatment, she's also a martial arts instructor. 

Yes, she's a badass.

What that means, though, is I have the 2yo and the 6yo for ten nights, and much of the time, I'm keeping them occupied. The eldest has camp from 9a-4p, and the little one gets daycare three days a week, but Tu/Th and the weekends it's keeping her entertained. And since she dropped both her naps, but still gets cranky as all get out when she's tired, afternoons get rather interesting. Yes, this is what my wife has to deal with every single day. I get that. We usually trade duties so we can each get some free time. Mine is usually used for blogging, gaming, and working on Dragon Heresy. Hers is training at the dojang at night.

But it does mean that my time is limited, and I am using that time to go nose to the grindstone on Dragon Heresy. I have basically four things left to do.

  1. I need to finish the subclasses. There will be, I think, 37 of them, which of course includes a whole bunch of divine domains, a few flavors of paladin, and less-evil pact lords for Warlocks. Plus four categories of Wizard. The hard part for me is getting the level boosts right. 
  2. Once those are done, I will whip up about a half-dozen "explicit multiclass" options. These will likely look fairly familiar, such as a Fighter/Bard, Fighter/Wizard, Rogue/Wizard. Plus three more. They will be thematic for the game, borrowing from stories and character types common to the legends I'm pulling from.
  3. I need to come up with a short set of rules for spells - one of the "features" of the game rule design for Dragon Heresy is that I'm looking at Wounds and what I've called "stress" in a prior post, but has since been renamed as vigor. But some spells go right to wounds, others go to vigor, and wounds are far nastier than vigor because they don't go up much with level. But once I get the if/then done for how to determine spell effects, my playtesters and I can rip through this. Tedious, but should be very programmatic.
  4. Finally, the fun part - the setting. A lot of worldbuilding has been going on as part of the writing of the subclasses. Who you are is very much a product of where you grew up, after all. But this can just be "Doug writes stuff," and doesn't have the rules mechanics "must check to see it's all not insane" parts of it in the same way. Sure, I can do stupid stuff, but it's not stupid stuff that will break game play.
Is that all I have to do? No. But other than monsters/foes and a bit of careful selection of magical weapons and effects, and probably a bit on treasure and rewards, the major game stuff will be written.

Then it's finish the work with the cartographer I hired, and start pulling the Black and White version of the game into shape. I've got some donated art, and the rest will be public domain until I kickstart. Then, I'll pay for editing and indexing, both B/W and Color art will hopefully be commissioned, and depending on interest level, we'll see about how the book gets to customers. Oh, and I'll need to spiffy up the website domains I bought, one for this blog's eventual relocation, and one for the game itself.

But if I've been quiet, and very, very non-GURPSy this week, now you know why.

June 25, 2016

Dragon Heresy: Group1, Session 2 - Bandit Camp

Just ran "Group 1" through the second session of the Dragon Heresy playtest campaign. 

After defeating the ogre last turn, they tried to track and find what seemed to be its partner or mate, along with 2-3 (they couldn't be sure) other, smaller creatures. The party looked, but could not find the appropriate tracks. They did take the ogre's head as proof, and wondered if they could sell ogre meat. 

No. No they could not.

How about taking the thing's scrotum as a unique curio pouch. With two goldstone (a type of high-value granite local to the area) spheres in it? Um. Sure. There's always someone willing to pay for almost anything. 

June 23, 2016

From Evil Overlords to PC Engagement - Tribality for the win

Over at Tribality.com+Brandes Stoddard throws down a post called Playing with a Stranger's Toys. Notionally it's about the challenges of using other settings and adventures. He brings up a few examples, and a contrived scenario (not his own) where the players are put in the situation where they are being approached, on a ship, by another ship full of minotaurs, nominally peaceably.

He notes that nearly any player who has played a game, watched  TV, or seen a movie will basically screech "HARD A'STARBOARD!" at that moment, and prepare to engage in life-or-death combat.

Better to start with the PCs just being captured - why present the illusion of choice when there's really no choice there at all - or to give the PCs a reason to be captured.

That got me thinking. I've posted a bit before about the motivations and methods of bad guy organiations - most recently in Sensible Master Plans Redux, and another that was the origin of that post called Bad Guy Chararacterization 2: General McChrystal does RPGing. They talk about keeping villains both villainous and not-stupid by working out the answers to just a few questions beforehand.

But Brandes' post turns this on its head. What about the PCs? More importantly, and in context, how does one write an adventure or set up a setting or introduce a plot hook that has bite?

I think the key is to treat the players like criminals. Well, or at least spies.

GURPS Day Summary June 17 - June 23, 2016

Thursday is GURPSDay, and below you can find the blog activity from the last seven days.

Over the last week, as of 10am CST, there have been 42 GURPS-Related posts from our list of 54 blogs that have popped up on the radar screen as of 8am CST.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you're interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line.

June 22, 2016

Self-publishing 101 - Lessons being learned daily

So, my SRD-based RPG, Dragon Heresy, is getting closer and closer to reality. At this point, I can almost count on one hand the number of tasks required to get the written part of the manuscript finished.

By looking to create a finished, playable, "if I had to I could just put this in a crappy PDF and play the damn game" format, I hope to avoid one of what looks to be the classic mistakes of bringing a small-company RPG to market - not finishing it.

Just look at the projects that draw the ire of watchdogs like +Erik Tenkar and others. Mostly, someone seems to have an idea, they Kickstart it - and it frequently is a great idea - and the project doesn't get finished. There can be an infinite number of reasons, many of them good, some of them not-so-good, and at least one has drawn criminal charges.

So I'll avoid that one. But I'm ready to admit I'm probably going to walk into quite a few more.

I'm going to go stream-of-consciousness for a bit, mostly because I am writing this in fits and starts.

June 20, 2016

Aeon Campaign S2E11 - The lady and the tiger

Dramatis Personae
  • The Commander (Doug) - telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
  • Arc Light (Christian) - battlsuited gadgeteer with electrical powers
  • The Rat Queen (Emily) - brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
  • Zephyr (Merlin) - Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster.
Black Magic, Black Market

If only we knew someone with Chinese descent and attunement with magic. Or an archaeologist or something. Who knows about Maltese Tigers? ("It belongs in a museum!")

What's all this? We were trying to figure out if there's a way to figure out whether the Maltese Tiger (no, really) is real or not. We look about, and come to the conclusion that Bao Lu, the expert in Chinese antiquities, and he's here at a local museum.

We nip over, and we are there in time to see a woman drop a vase; Zephyr is on hand to catch it, which saves the destruction of a priceless vase.

The Commander nudges Zephyr. "Ask her out. You just saved a priceless vase." He spends a karma point to help his reaction. I will be his wingman any time.

He tries to chat her up, introducing himself as Murui Ao, by the way, also known as Zephyr. Her name is Stephanie Harper, and "Oh, my God . . . you guys are the Cavalry."

Yes. Yes we are!

"Oh, my God. You don't remember me! I was at the Taco Stand! You saved me!"

They banter. She's blonde, almost silver blonde. She's got gigantic glasses on. Zephyr will call her after museum hours. She offers to work up a dossier on the Tiger, and Zephyr offers to take her to the best noodle cart in the city, his uncles. 

They go to the cart, and Farther and Uncle starts in. "Murui! She's beautiful! You will make lovely grandchildren for your parents!" 

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