Thursday, March 5, 2015

Got my Ic On

...get it?

Anyway, I ran the first "issue" of my new game of Icons last Sunday.

I'ma come right out and say it: I have never enjoyed running or participating in a superhero game as much as I enjoyed Icons. I would also say I have never seen a superhero game emulate the feel of a comic book/superhero animated series the way Icons does. It finally felt like I was playing the superhero game that Champions and Heroes Unlimited teased me with but failed to deliver.

We stumbled a little bit with Qualities at first, but we started getting the hang of it. It also prevents the game from being just a bunch of numbers crashing together, which is the feel I always got from Champions. For instance, one of our superheroes, Iron Bark, is a tough tree/plant elemental dude who can grow into a hugenormous tree with crazy damage resistance. I had my fire elemental bad guy pull a power stunt to create the quality "on fire" for Iron Bark. Iron Bark responded by spending a Determination Point to retcon a decorative fountain in the area, jumped in, and spent another to activate his quality "Humanoid Plant" to absorb the water into his roots to he could quench said untouchable-fire-villain. We had lamp posts getting wrapped around people via magnetic control (Quality: restrained), we had a goddamn amazing fight.

I also enjoyed the Pyramid Tests as a method of crisis resolution. While at first I balked and flashed back to the atrocity that was 4th editions's "skill challenges," but it turned out really well in practice: we had two tech savvy superheroes trying to shut down an overloading gravitic accelerator's control panel while two other heroes tried to contain the out of control machinery.

Obviously, session one of any game has the potential for "honeymoon syndrome" but I have a really strong first impression of Icons as the superhero game I always wanted. This Sunday is Issue #2.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BXWoD Magic: Talismans Pt. 1- Potions (Draft)

So I was kind of on a BXWoD roll, but then grad school got in the way, along with a two week Endless Cold from Hell.

However, my homework is done and my immune system is victorious. Thus, Talismans.

Most Talismans are objects that have a spell infused into them. (See my writeup of the BXWoD Witch class)

Although most of the archaic forms of Talisman have fallen into disuse, potions remain surprisingly popular in the modern era. Although they are often of exotic color and temperament, so are many commercial sports drinks. The truly bizarre looking potions can also be poured into opaque containers like hip flasks.

Potions can be "tested" by sipping them. A Witch has a 10% chance per level of correctly identifying a potion. If they fail, they cannot discern what it is. If they roll 91+ on the percentile dice, they identify it incorrectly. (The GM should choose a potion of a similar color) Vampires and Fringers who have access to magic spells have a 5% chance per level of being able to identify, and misidentify on the roll of 80+. 

Potions detect as magical to Detect Magic. While the general type of magic can be determined, the exact spell cannot. Detect Evil will reveal if the potion would have a detrimental effect on the imbiber. Dispel Magic will render a potion forever inert. Remove Curse will utterly destroy a Cursed Potion, but has no effect otherwise.

Unless otherwise noted, the imbiber must drink the entire potion for it to work, and potions last 1d6+4 turns. There is no way for the subject to know how long the potion will last.

A person can only benefit from one potion at a time. If a second is rolled, the subject must make a Physical Save or vomit forth potion potions, ending the effect of the first and wasting both. If the subject succeeds, roll 1d6. 1-2= first potion remains in effect, second potion is wasted. 3-4= both potions rendered inert, first potion's effects immediately end. 5-6= first potion's effects end immediately, second potion's effects begin normally.

Undead cannot benefit from potions, and will vomit them up moments after consuming them. (Rendering them inert) Vampires who know magic can still test potions, as described above.

To brew a potion, a Witch must have the ingredients (determined by the GM), access to a particular spell, and a laboratory or cauldron. The Witch spends 1d4 hours, expends the spell slot, and rolls 1d20+experience level. On the result of a 20 or higher, the potion is successfully created. The spell slot remains expended until the potion is consumed. If the roll fails, the witch can use her own life force, adding hit points to make up the difference. These hit points can only be recovered through natural rest. On the roll of a 1, the spell slot is wasted (though can be recovered normally) and roll on the Potion Calamity table below.
Potions have a shelf life of 1d6 weeks before they spoil and become inert. (The Witch may then regain their spell slot normally)
If a Witch pours the last of their hit points into a potion to complete it, they die and the potion becomes Cursed. Cursed potions never spoil.

Potion Calamity (Roll d20)

1-The potion is an Abomination potion (see Cursed Potions) The imbiber must make a Physical Save or be turned into an Abomination. The potion will detect as normal to all tests.
2-Abomination Potion- As above, but the potion has a 50% chance of turning solid black in color, like oil. It also detects as malevolent to the appropriate spells and "off" to the appropriate tests.
3-4- Poison. Anyone who drinks this potion must roll a Physical Save or die. The potion detects as a normal potion to all tests.
5-6 Poison- As above, but the potion has a 50% chance of turning a lurid green and the potion detects as malevolent or off to tests/spells.
7-8 Lab Explodes- The lab or cauldron explodes, being utterly destroyed. Everyone within 20 feet suffers 3d6 damage. (Agility Save for half) If anyone is killed in this explosion, there is a 50% chance that it will leave behind Blood Unguent. (See Cursed Potions)
9-10- The potion looks and tests normal, but has the opposite effect intended.
11-12 As above, but the potion has a 50% chance of turning a different color. It won't detect as evil, but it will test as "off."
13-15 The potion detects as magical and tests normally, but it has absolutely no effect.
16-18 As above, but the potion has a 50% chance of turning a sludgy brown color and does not detect as magical.
19-The potion looks and tests normally, but has the effect of a randomly determined other potion. If the random roll is the same type of potion intended, the caster lucks out.
20-As above, but the potion has a 50% chance of turning a charcoal gray color. If the randomly rolled result is the same as the intended potion, the caster lucks out.

Potion List

Animal Control- As per the spell. The character gains a slightly feral demeanor under the effects of this potion.
Ingredient Suggestions: The fresh heart or brain of an animal, a piece of leather from a whip or leash.
Spell Required: Animal Control or Charm Animals.

Clairaudience- As per the spell. The character may hear phantom noises or bits of nearby conversation for up to 1d6 turns after the effect of the potion ends. This includes noises made by ghosts.
Ingredient Suggestions: The ear from an animal with keen hearing, a seashell 
Spell Required: Clairaudience

Clairvoyance- As per the spel. The character may see glimpses of nearby events and perceive ghosts for 1d6 turns after the potion's effect ends.
Ingredient Suggestions: A fresh eye, a quartz crystal.
Spell Required: Clairaudience 

 Ethereality: The imbiber becomes translucent and is only visible to supernatural creatures. In addition, the character is insubstantial and can pass through solid objects. They are immune to physical attack, but cannot physically effect the world in any way. The character is still effected by magical attacks and can cast spells as normal. At the end of the potion's duration, the character must make a Physical save or the potion persists for an additional d6 turns, after which he must save again, etc.
Ingredient Suggestions:

Ferocity- The character receives +2 to all attack and damage rolls. The character is arrogant and ill-tempered under the potion's effects.

Fire Resistance: The subject is immune to normal fire, and receives a +2 to saves against magical/supernatural fire attacks. The character takes no damage on a save and half on a failed save. The character's body is cold to the touch while this potion is in effect.
Suggested Ingredients: coal dust

Flying- As per the spell. The character is at -2 to all rolls for 1d4 turns afterwards as he regains his ground legs.
Suggested Ingredients: Bird feathers, wing of bat

Fortune- The character receives +2 on all saving throws, and anyone attacking the character is at -2 to hit. The character gains a Karmic debt as per a Witch's curse.
Required Spells: Bless OR Curse 

Healing-  The character regains 1d8+1 hit points. These hit points do not vanish at the end of the potion's duration, they are permanent until lost normally. Potions of Extra Healing restores 3d8+3 hit points. Accelerated healing is painful and ruins concentration for 1d4 minutes.
Suggested Ingredients:  Aloe, dove feathers
Required Spells: Cure light wounds (Cure serious for Extra Healing)

Hideous Strength-  The character gains a +4 to hit in melee combat, inflicts +1d8 damage with hand to hand attacks, and automatically passes Strength checks.The character also has the chance to frenzy every time they down an opponent or cause significant property damage. (GM's discretion on the latter) A Mental Saving throw staves off the rage.
Suggested Ingredients: A few drops of werewolf blood, a sample of human adrenaline
Spell Required: Strength

Invisibility- As the spell. The character feels a sense of detachment from the world while under this potion.
Suggested Ingredients: Finely ground glass from a mirror, curry powder

Invulnerability- The character cannot be damaged. This potion lasts for only 1d6 rounds. The character loses all sensation of touch while it is in effect.
Suggested Ingredients: A small diamond, a piece of hard metal like iron or steel.
Required Spell: Protection from Normal Missiles, Shield, Armor 

Levitation- As per the spell. The character feels light-headed and dizzy for 1d4 rounds after the potion wears off.
Suggested Ingredients: The wings of an insect, a fallen leaf.
Required Spell: Levitation

Mediums- The character can perceive ghosts, both visually and aurally. The character receives +2 to save against any supernatural abilities a ghost uses against them. The character feels morose or paranoid for 1d6 turns after the potion ends.
Suggested Ingredients: A fragment of bone from a ghost's original corpse, 

Mist Form- The character can assume a mist form as per the Vampire ability. The character feels sick for 1d6 rounds after the potion ends.
Ingredient Suggestions: Bottled smoke, a few drops of blood from a vampire.
Required Spell: Stinking Cloud OR Gaseous Form 

Necromancy-  The drinker can control undead within visual range, either 2d4 of undead with 4 hit dice or less, or 1d4+1 undead of more than 4 hit dice. Vampires and Revenants can make a Mental Save to resist the effects, but must make a new save every turn they are in the drinker's presence. Other forms of undead receive no saving throw. The effect works as the Control Animal spell.
Suggested Ingredients: A pinch of grave dirt, a handful of salt.
Required Spell: Protection from Evil OR Hold Monster OR Charm Monster

Spiders- The character can scale walls as per spider climb, and cannot drop any held object. The character has the desire to eat flies and insects for 1d6 turns after the spell ends, though this urge is easily resisted if the character has been eating regularly.
Suggested Ingredients: A live spider or strands from a recently spun spiderweb.
Required Spell: Spider Climb

Cursed Potions
Cursed potions are foul concoctions that are sometimes created when a Witch fails to brew a magic potion or dies in the process of brewing. It is possible to create one intentionally, but the character must learn the recipe. (Treat this as learning a new spell) The creation process is the same as above, but do not roll on the Calamity table above. Note that all cursed potions are considered Black magic and intentionally brewing one incurs Karmic debt for Witches.

Abomination Potion- The character must make a Physical save or become an Abomination. (See the forthcoming monster chapter)

Blood Unguent-This disgusting reddish paste, when consumed, inflicts 1d10 damage on the caster that can only be healed naturally. However, for the duration of the potion, the caster casts all Black magic spells as though he were 1d4 levels higher.

Death Brew- The character must make a Physical save or die in 1d4 turns, after which  they rise as a zombie. They are not automatically under the control of the brewer, but they can be controlled through magical means. 

Poison- The drinker must make a Physical save or die in 1d4 turns. As this is a magical poison, modern forensics cannot determine the cause of death. It appears as though the victim died of heart failure.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rules Cyclopedia for FIVE BUCKS! has the Rules Compendium (BECM rules) for five bucks on PDF.

Stop reading this blog and go get it!

Heroics and Villainy!

We interrupt the constant posting of my BXWoD stuff to mention Icons.
My Sunday group has switched gears from our Ravenloft/Gothic Earth/Masque of the Red Death campaign to Icons, a rules-lite superhero RPG.

Icons encourages universe creation as a shared endeavor of the group. Everyone, including the GM, is responsible for creating a number of heroes, villains to match other players' heroes, setting elements and supporting characters. Normally this is the kind of hippy crap that I shake my fist at, but I decided to give it a try, given that my Sunday players are two of my dearest friends.

...I'm actually really liking the stuff we're coming up with. We've had two solid sessions of universe creation, and the level of enthusiasm is fantastic. It's also cool to see what details emerge about our universe from the different characters we make and how we link them together.

Most of the characters I've made are reboots/reimaginings of PCs and NPCs from the Champions campaigns James and I ran back in high school.

Anyway, I'm really digging on Icons. It's neat to have mostly randomized elements that we make come together through collaboration and creativity.

I know, I know. The OSR Police can come and take my hardcover Swords & Wizardry book.

BXWoD stuff shall resume, since I've had a time to catch my mental breath.

Friday, February 13, 2015

BXWoD Magic: Talismans

A talisman is any object that has been imbued with magic. Characters of the witch class have the ability to create talismans, though certain other entities in the supernatural world have the ability as well.

Talismans take many shapes: potions, scrolls, wands, staffs, amulets, etc. Modern devices can be made into talismans, but this is uncommon. The more complex an object, the harder it seems to be to enchant. Gun talismans are tough to create; computer talismans are damn near impossible. For this reason, many witches prefer to stick to the more traditional media for talismans.

Talismans that contain White or Black magic spells are themselves considered to be objects of White or Black magic. Using or benefiting from such a talisman counts as having used a spell of the same color. (So a witch who uses a Black magic wand cannot use any White magic until the next day. If she had already used a White magic spell that day, the wand will not function for her.)

Most Talismans are temporary items created by witches and imbued with a spell. Some Talismans are permanent or semi-permanent, and some are even cursed. Lists of specific Talismans will follow.

Monday, February 9, 2015

BXWoD: The Revenant

 Edit: Looks like I forgot to post this. So sorry!

The last class for BXWoD! (For now....)

Revenants begin their existence as undead thralls created by the Raise Dead spell. While most unfortunate souls dragged into such an existence remain so enslaved, a few are able to escape. (See the upcoming spell description for details) These free-willed restless dead are called revenants.

Driven by a vengeance that burns for what has become of them, revenants typically channel their rage into a personal crusade against supernaturals that prey, physically or mentally, on mortals.

The presence of revenants is somewhat controversial in supernatural society. Some see them as traitorous, others see them as unclaimed property, others believe that they should be properly laid to rest. Werewolves dislike revenants, but not nearly as much as they detest vampires.

Revenants at a glance:

-Revenants are undead. When reduced 0 hit points, revenants simply keep fighting. However, every time they are damaged, they must make a Physical save, with a cumulative -1 penalty for every additional time they are damaged. If they fail, they deanimate, awakening 1d6 days later with -1 Hit Die. A revenant reduced to 0 Hit Dice is truly destroyed. Revenants can't be healed by any medical skill or white magic.

-Revenants use d8s for Hit Dice.

-AC: A revenant's natural armor decreases as it grows in power. This represents the resilience of the undead body, which is often simply unimpressed by trauma.

-Enemy: The revenant chooses a class of supernatural monster. The choices are: undead, fae, shapeshifters, spellcasters, and demons. The revenant gains the listed bonus to attack and damage rolls against the chosen enemy type, and enjoys a saving throw bonus to resist any magic or special attack levied against them by such a creature.

-Stalk: A revenant who is actively pursuing their quarry may track it. The ability is similar to a Werewolf's, but operates on a mystical level rather than the result of enhances smell. They may also use Stalk to cloak their presence like a vampire's Stealth ability.

-Sneak Attack: A revenant who has Stalked prey may make a surprise attack if the target is unaware. This attack enjoys a +4 bonus to hit and inflicts the listed number of additional damage dice.

-Rend: A revenant has hysterical strength with regard to combat. They may inflict the listed damage with their bare hands. Note that this does not give them the ability to damage creatures with special immunities.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

BXWoD Magic: Maledictions

Maledictions are inherent magical abilities possessed by cambions, an inheritance from their demonic ancestors. Some legends suggest that True Demons really are fallen Angels, and that their true language can reshape reality and some of that ability is passed to their descendants. Others argue that since concrete evidence of the existence of Angels is lacking, that Maledictions are simply a weaker version of a reality warping magic that Demons are capable of using.

Maledictions are the willful exertion of the cambion's will upon reality, usually to assert dominance over others or to punish enemies or disloyal servants. Though the words listed below are in Latin, the cambion can really use any sort of word; the speaking of a word forcefully is simply a conduit for the cambion's power.
Cambions must speak loudly in order to use Maledictions.

Here are the Maledictions in my game. Note that the Latin is poorly translated and misconjugated I'm sure, because I did it with flippin' Google. It's just a game and they sound cool, so I don't particularly care. Most of them are drawn from or inspired by reversed cleric spells from AD&D or the Rules Compendium.

For whatever purposes might come up, Maledictions are considered Black magic. Mortals do not receive saving throws against Maledictions unless they are heroic mortals. Supernatural beings get saving throws unless otherwise specified.

Cambions can cast any Malediction from any list they are of sufficient level to cast, so long as they have spell slots remaining. Note that they do not gain the ability to use Maledictions until they reach the 2nd level of experience.

Lv. 1
Castigare-  Caster strikes target and inflicts 1d6+1 damage. No save.
Fateor- Works like witch's detect evil spell
Aperio- Works like witch's detect magic spell.
Tenebris- Extinguishes all light sources, natural or electric, in a 30 ft. radius.
Noli Me Tangere- Works as witch's Protection from Evil spell.
Putesco- All food within 15 ft rots, all water/fluids become corrupted

Lv. 2
Delinquo- Target within 30 ft suffers -1 to attacks, saves, and spells for 1/round per cambion level.
Admonitio- Works like witch's Detect Snares & Pits.
Claudeo- Works at witch's Hold Person
Tace- Works as witch's Silence 15 ft Radius
Loquere Ad Me: Acts as witch's Speak with Animals, but cambion can force the animals to speak truthfully

Lv. 3
Nox Eterna- Acts as wierdling's Continual Darkness
Aegrotus- Inflicts a disease on a touched target. Subject loses 1 Str and Con per day. When either reaches zero, subject dies. Modern medical care will allow a Saving Throw every day, even for mortals. Three successful saves fights off the disease.
Invenio- Works like witch's Locate Object
Interroga- Works like witch's Speak with Dead, but cambions can force the dead to speak truthfully.
Calumnia- Places a curse on the target. They suffer -4 to attack rolls, skill rolls, and save for an amount of time set by the cambion. The target gets a saving throw every month to break the curse if heroic mortal or supernatural. 

Lv. 4 
Vulnerare- Caster strikes target and inflicts 3d6+1.
Ad Venenum- Cambion's body weaponry becomes poisonous; living targets struck must save vs. poison or die.
Vade Retro- Works as Protection from Evil 10 ft. Radius
Parere Serpens- Works as witch's Sticks to Snakes.

Lv. 5
Rogo Autem Te- Works like Contact Other Plane. Contacts Demon Princes.
Extinctus- Works like witch's Finger of Death
Plaga- Works like witch's Plague of Insects
Mandatum- Works like witch's Quest.

Maledictions are inherent magical abilities, therefore they can't be transcribed or put into a talisman. Even when a Malediction functions as a spell or glamour, it isn't considered one. Witches and weirdlings cannot use Maledictions, nor can cambions use spells or glamours. Cambions can only gain new Maledictions by rising in level.