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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Chained Realms

Cosmology can be a hard thing to figure out. After-all, it is not my first time trying to structure it. Sometimes, one wants something really complicated and open to new additions. Other times, one might want to go as simple as possible. Opinions can change over time, and the Great Wheel doesn't seem like the best option every time. Looking into previous editions, it's clear that World Axis has been an inspiration to me here, though I found a way to make it my own. Let's see how can I keep all of my ramblings about my own cosmology organized, shall we?

The Two Cycles of Chained Realms

The foundation of my cosmology lies in the fact that there are only two types of matter - ether and aether. These are two most basic materials you could split everything physical, and some nonphysical things too, into.

Ether is everything spiritual - the soul. But also the light and darkness. This material can be found in the afterlife planes such as Heavens, Hells, but also in the Material Plane and its echoes, and as one would expect, in the Ethereal Plane, sometimes called Ether.

Aether is what one would think of as elements - fire, water, earth, air, electricity, and their combinations. It is also what mind is made out of. It can be found in the Elemental planes, but also in the Material Plane and its echoes, as well as the Dreamscape.

Drawn by yours truly.


From this, one could picture how the planes look. It's pretty much a Venn diagram, with the circles representing ether and aether, intersection being Material Plane and its echoes, borders of intersections being Ethereal Plane and Dreamscape, and the nonintersecting parts of these big circles being afterlife and elemental planes respectively.

Then there is the space outside of this venn diagram, place outside of the cosmology, the Far Realms. Which are not part of this cosmology, it's just a nice term for "everything else". I have already talked enough about Far Realms, so I won't say much on that topic here.

When you light a branch on fire using a spark produced with a pair of stones in any of the planes in the intersection (let's say Feywild for this example), here's what happens - the spark, and the wood that's consumed travels through the Dreamscape into their respective elemental planes, to be replaced with fire and ashes. These are brought back through the Dreamscape into the Feywild. That's how the cycle of material goes.

Similarly, when someone dies, their soul travels through the Ether and into the afterlife their soul belongs to. Through the Ether the soul comes back and is reused when someone is born. Again, this is a topic I talked about in another article. Any changes or additions to that will be stated here.

The last bit of information about the ether and aether themselves is that their sum total stays the same at all times, and one can't be turned into the other. Picture this kind of like the first law of thermodynamics, except that there are two types of energy that both have unchanging amounts.

Now then, it's time to get into specifics and talk about the planes themselves! I'll start from the outskirts and then get to the Material Plane and its echoes, you'll see why later.

Elemental Planes and Afterlife Planes

Also called Elemental Planes. We all know what to expect here, right? Planes that are filled with water, fire, earth, but also other things. Well, I made some changes to how elements mix, because I wanted lightning to be an element of its own, and for any elements to mix, at least in somewhat sensible way.

 Air
 Earth
 Fire
 Lightning
 Water
Air-SandSmokeSoundIce
EarthSand-MagmaMagnetWood
FireSmokeMagma-PlasmaSteam
LightningSoundMagnetPlasma-Storm
WaterIceWoodSteamStorm-

Then there are mixtures of elements with light and darkness. These would mostly be found in the Prime planes, but of course there can be exceptions.

 Light
 Darkness
AirThunderVacuum
EarthMineralDust
FireRadianceAsh
LightningSparkSilence
WaterOozePoison

The last two kinds of matter that can be found in the elemental planes are mind and the aether itself. Mind doesn't mesh well with the elements. Aether doesn't mesh with elements either, because it's all of them and none of them at the same time. It's usually described as thin, silk-like bright strings.

Of course, if the DM wishes to structure the combinations of elements in a different way, add or remove elements, or even if they want to make up completely different elements just for fun, they are free to do so. There could in theory even be an infinite number of elemental planes, making the Elemental Chaos into a space ripe for exploration.

Afterlife planes work in a much similar way. All elemental mixing that occurs in relation to this plane has been described above already however, so this part will be much shorter. When one encounters an angel, it's a being literally made of pure light imbued with a soul. Heaven too is made of pure light. Still, afterlife planes have space for adding more and more planes for exploration - be it from the Great Wheel (Ysgard, Limbo, Acheron, ...), or planes of your own making based on what kind of treatment one deserves. Maybe there's even space for the planes of luck and misfortune that were included in my previous iteration of the cosmology.

Ether and Dreamscape

Transitive planes are used for traversing planes. Well, sort-of. They do also have things within them, but those things aren't that easily accessible. Which is why we differ between the Border and Core, sometimes called Deep regions.

Picture standing on a glass ceiling. You can see everything underneath you (the Core), but can't really interact with it. Your interactions are limited to what's on top of the ceiling (the Border). When one travels through Ether or Dreamscape into a different plane with their body, their soul, their mind, and their equipment intact, this is kind of what's happening. You're accessing the Border Ether, or Border Dreamscape. You can observe what's within the Core, though you can't really affect it. and you can access the Core only by the purest abstract thing body has of corresponding element - the soul for Ether, the mind for Dreamscape. Getting anything more inside and outside of that would take magics of power greater than Wish itself.

One implication of these planes being required for moving around their matter is the existence of genies. I've mentioned previously in the article about souls that when someone dies in the Elemental Planes, their soul is stuck there. It gathers the ether, and eventually becomes a genie. Great thing about this is that the same logic could now be applied to the Afterlife Planes! If you die on the Afterlife Planes, your mind is stuck there. Eventually, it gathers light and/or darkness, and becomes its own being, ... which I haven't named yet. Alternatively, if you leave behind a piece of your equipment, like your teapot for example (which is of course made of aether), it eventually attracts ether, and becomes alive. Animated teapot, now where did I hear of that before...

Prime Planes

These are the planes in the intersection of ether and aether. Most familiar of these to majority of players is of course the Material Plane, but its echoes belong here too. Feywild, Shadowfell, and anything else one could make up. Or not. this depends on the DM - if they wish to go with a simpler model, they can freely omit the echoes and keep just the Material Plane. Or they might also exclude that one too. That could make for an interesting world.

Something something hot topic, something something heated discussion.
Original image is the concept art from Rift

So far simple enough, right? Well, here's another thing that made me mildly unhappy - try to imagine the elemental plane of fire. What is it made of? Of course, fire is present, but what else is there? Maybe... the ground to stand on is made of hot rocks? Maybe the air is filled with smoke and stuff? Maybe even lakes of lava. All of that... is starting to sound less and less like fire. So, my way of solving it is simple: It's not just fire, it's all the elements, but mixed with fire.

Elemental Plane
 Air
 Earth
 Fire
 Lightning
 Water
AirAirSandSmokeSoundIce
EarthSandEarthMagmaMagnetWood
FireSmokeMagmaFirePlasmaSteam
LightningSoundMagnetPlasmaLightningStorm
WaterIceWoodSteamStormWater
LightThunderMineralRadianceSparkOoze
DarknessVacuumDustAshSilencePoison

How about a practical example? Picture the Elemental Plane of Fire being made out of smoke, magma, fire, plasma, and steam, possibly even radiance and ash. Now that sounds like something that could actually exist instead of just fire. Lakes of plasma and lava, air that's filled with steam and smoke, grounds covered with ashes and burning... things that resemble plants but are not plants... You get the idea.

Or how about the Elemental Plane of Earth being made of sand, earth, magma, magnets, wood, minerals and dust? Picture the sandy shifting sea, moving up and down like a liquid. Picture the earth that's got minerals here and there, and even some naturally magnetic metals. Picture wooden underground structures, and lava lakes, again!

How about we take this to whole another level? What if you could transform Feywild and Shadowfell into a more whimsical and more scary place? I hear no objections, so let's do it!

First and foremost, we will have to define how the Feywild and Shadowfell fit into the cosmology. I'll keep that simple, and say that they are Material Plane, but with a little bit of light and darkness added - light for Feywild, darkness for Shadowfell. Now, having those affect the entire planes could be dangerous, so I will come up with natural phenomenons to explain them - storms! Lightstorms in Feywild, and darkstorms in Shadowfell (work in progress names).

When a part of the Feywild is struck by lightstorm, you see bits of light falling from the shining clouds above. Everything that's rained on gets altered a little by them, for some amount of time. The fires turn into lightshows of color (radiance), the air carries sounds in a much more effective manner, making everything louder and more intense (thunder), the earth beneath you literally turns into precious stuff (mineral), the water turns into slime that's possibly alive (ooze, of course), and when a lightning strikes, you see it as a falling star flying down in a path that resembles lightning (spark).

For Shadowfell, the darkstorms turn the already shady place into an even worse one. The earth beneath you crumbles and feels dusty, any fires turn to ashes instantly, the water turns to poison, there is a lack of air (just... try to ignore the physics here, please), and during the storms, instead of lightnings the world is enveloped in a moment of absolute darkness and silence.

Epilogue

What makes me the most excited about all of this is that it's got a lot of potential for expanding. We can start with basic 5 elements described above, the Heaven, the Hell, Material Plane and two of its echoes, two transitive planes and Far Realms. But when we need it, we could make a hellish afterlife that's a huge prison like Carceri, a two-sided heaven like Bytopia, the Elemental Plane of Bears or even the Grigori, Material Plane's echo where time is much faster and beasts rule...

And if you run out of ether and aether? Well, you could always come up with another kind of primordial matter. I already got two in store, but don't tell my players. It's a secret.

The possibilities are endless, which is why this kind of multiverse makes me very excited as a creator. Maybe one day I'll make a cosmology that's better than this one, but until then... I'm fine with this one.

Who knows how many materials are there...
Image via BBC, I think.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Faceless, my variant of changelings

Howdy, everyone!

This has been one busy summer. I started to work on several homebrews and several articles, but I didn't have time nor energy to finish any of them, up until now.

Behold, the faceless!


Carnival by Julia Zhuravleva
Pictured here: Not an Eberron changeling.

PDF Link
GMBinder Link

Faceless are my reimagining of Eberron's changelings. The key difference between the faceless and changelings is that changelings are half-dopplegangers, while faceless are a planetouched race, influenced by the Far Realms. In other words, they are to Far Realms what Tieflings are to lower planes of existence. I renamed them into faceless only recently due to WotC making Eberron into a proper official setting in 5e, so expect me to every now and then call my faceless changelings.

I also carefully constructed several racial feats for the faceless. My design philosophy while making this race and its feats was to give race's main ability lots of limitations, which could be avoided through feats. You can transform only into humanoids, except for when you achieve beastly, plant-like or object shapes with feats. You can't turn into something that doesn't have two legs and two arms, except for when you get the Beastly Forms feat.

In the future, I plan to write up a whole mini setting populated with faceless, a city called Masq. I already have some of the things written down, since I planned to do the whole project all at once, but it'll take me some time to finish. There will be stat blocks, magic items, and more things if I manage to make more things up.

Some other projects of mine include: rework of my old cosmology model, for which the article is nearly finished; designing hard magic system for D&D; possibly reworking one of the minimalistic RPG systems I've seen into something I could use when I'm too lazy to introduce people to 5e fully; wriitng up Worldwar minigame rules article here; and generator of the entire world's history I guess.

Yep, it's a lot. I don't know when and how will I finish all these things, but I guess I should do it one by one.

Thank you for your patience, sorry for the summer break, and have I want to wish you a nice day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[EoK] Legacy System update! 17 + 1 more traits included!

I wanted to expand on the Legacy System beyond just cantrips and anything presented in official materials already. So, here are several new traits! (most of which still come from official materials)

Download the PDF

Granny, by NathanParkArt



Armored Sport
Prerequisite: STR
Cost: 1 legacy point
You are proficient in light and medium armors.

Fine Tuned Senses
Prerequisite: WIS
Cost: 1 legacy point

You always know which way is north, and you always know the number of hours left before the next sunrise or sunset. Additionally, if you can see a creature's mouth while it is speaking a language you understand, you can interpret what it's saying by reading its lips.

Incredible Memory
Prerequisite: INT
Cost: 2 legacy point
You can perfectly recall anything you've seen or heard within the past month. Additionally, you gain proficiency in one of these skills of your choice: Arcana, History, Nature, Technology. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses the chosen skill.

Nimbleness
Prerequisite: DEX
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours. Additionally, you can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you.

Relentless Endurance
Prerequisite: CON
Cost: 1 legacy points
When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can't use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Short Stature
Cost: 0 legacy points
Your size is Small instead of Medium, and your base walking speed is decreased by 5 feet.

Arcane Calls

In addition to regular legacy traits, these are the added arcane calls.

Brisk Figure
Prerequisite: DEX
Cost: 1 legacy point
Your base walking speed increases by 10 feet. This arcane call can't be taken if you have already taken the Quick option.

Chromatic Shifting
Prerequisite: CON or WIS
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can use your bonus action to change the appearance of your skin and the equipment you are wearing or carrying to be of any color or number of colors arranged in a pattern. This effect lasts until you use this ability again, or dismiss the effect (no action required).
Additionally, you can concentrate for one minute to blend into your environment. While you remain motionless, you gain advantage on Stealth checks made to hide. You may attempt to hide even if you have no cover or obscurement. You can't use this ability to hide while you are being directly observed.

Enchanting Soul
Prerequisite: CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have a resistance against psychic damage, and you know the friends cantrip.

Etherstep
Prerequisite: WIS
Cost: 1 legacy point
As a bonus action, you can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that you can see. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

Everchanging
Prerequisite: varies
Cost: varies
Choose two Legacy options for which you fulfill prerequisites, at least one of which is an arcane call. You can't choose Spellbound Twin arcane call as either of these. Choose which one represents the Sun, and which one represents the Moon. When the Sun is visible in the sky, you gain features of the Sun's Legacy option, and when the Moon is visible in the sky, you gain features of the Moon's Legacy option.
This feature counts as one arcane call. Its cost is equal to the sum of both Sun and Moon legacy option features. You need to fulfill prerequisites of both Sun and Moon legacy option features to be able to pick this feature.

Leaper
Prerequisite: STR
Cost: 1 legacy point
Your long jump is up to 25 feet and your high jump is up to 15 feet, with or without a running start. Also, when determining fall damage that would be dealt to you, treat any fall as if it were from 10 feet less than the actual height, to a minimum of 0 feet.

Natural Weapon
Prerequisite: STR
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have natural weapons of your choice - horns, fangs, tail, claws, or something else. If you hit using your natural weapons, you deal damage equal to 1d8 + your Strength modifier. The type of this damage is appropriate to the natural weapons.

Rapid Evolution
Cost: 1 legacy point
After spending 24 hours in extreme conditions such as extreme cold, extreme heat or high altitudes, your body adapts to them to naturally, becoming immune their effects. This lasts until you adapt this way to a different hostile environment.
Additionally, when you take acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage, you can use your reaction to adapt to it rapidly. Until the start of your next turn, you have resistance to the triggering damage type. Also, the first time you hit with a melee attack on your next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of the triggering type. Once you use this feature, you can't use it until you finish a long rest.

Spellbound Twin
Prerequisites: another player with this trait
Cost: 1 legacy point
You become a twin one other player of your choice with this trait, as long as they choose you as a twin with their trait too. As long as they are located on the same plane of existence as you, you can sense their emotional state and know when they get hurt. In addition, you can communicate with your twin telepathically as long as they are within 120 feet of you.
Also, when your twin attacks a creature within 5 feet of you, you may use a reaction to take make a single attack against that target. If you do, your twin may not use its reaction on your next turn to do so.

Technopath
Prerequisite: INT
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know haywire and on/off cantrips.

Vocal Descent
Prerequisite: CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can mimic sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds you make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception) check. You can also choose to make your voice up to three times as loud as normal requiring no action, and you have advantage on saving throws against being deafened. Additionally, you can use your action or bonus action to throw your voice, making it seem like it originates from a point of your choice within 60 feet of you that you can see.



Finally, there is a special feature not included in the document, because it was not tested yet, and is very difficult to evaluate. Use this feature at your own caution.

Animated Friend
Cost: 1 legacy point
By performing a 1-hour ritual, you may breathe life into a tiny object of yours to aid you, turning it into your friend.
The friend uses statistics of a commoner with the following changes: its type is construct, its size is small,  it knows one language of your choice that you know, its Strength score is 2 (-4), and it gains a 30 feet fly speed. It appears in a space within 5 feet of you at the start of your next turn, it is controlled by you and it is friendly to you and your companions. It takes its turns on your initiative order, and it can't use magic items. Your friend returns to its inanimate state after hitting 0 hit points. You can also use your action to force it into a state of suspended animation, or awaken it from this state.
You can perform the 1-hour ritual during a short or long rest, and it turns the previous object inanimate. The object also goes inanimate if you die.



Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

[EoK] 1d8 Characters, part 1

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Filler time! The Legacy System update is almost finished, but it needs some more tinkering... so in the meantime, here's a collection of ideas for random 1d8 characters I wrote up in my spare time for the Ethernet of Keys. Most of them will have Japanese names, because of one of my EoK games taking place in Tokyo.



1. Jarvis Witch Hunter Nakasai. Jarvis is a half-british soldier on a quest to rid the world of magical influence. He is usually determined, silent and calm, acting as if he had a plan every time something goes wrong. He is very good at spotting anyone with an arcane call, and evaluates based on his own judgment whether they should be removed from the society completely, or whether they just need to be 'purified' by an invention he inherited.
Legacy Traits: +2 Con, +1 Str, Athletic, Climber, Poison Resistant
Class: Fighter (Champion)
Background: Discovery (how to tell magic apart, and the purification)

2. Hikaru Honue. Having power over lights and electricity, Hikaru has been working for a secret hacker organization d15c0da (Discoda) for the most part of her life. Although she is not as technologically skilled as her twin brother Masama, she was trained for other kinds of jobs her twin can't really do. Her arcane calls give her some powers over lights and electricity, and her dominant traits would definitely have to be her flexibility and the natural charm with her optimistic attitude.
Legacy Traits: +1 Dex, +1 Con, +1 Cha, Climber, Electric Ardor, Light Bringer
Class: Rogue (Swashbuckler)
Background: Black Market Contract

3. Masama Honue. An ordinary worker turned into a hacker after leaving the (TL) company due to revelations he made with help from his twin Hikaru. He is naturally curious and can't resist coming up with solutions for any problem he encounters or is told about. He has an arcane call, having some control over the electricity, but also an ability to project images onto other surfaces through minor magic.
Legacy Traits: +2 Int, +1 Con, Amateur Craftsman, Electric Ardor, Uncanny Projector
Class: Inventor (Hacker's Clique)
Background: Researcher

4. Shunto Ichirou. Shunto was a rising star in the martial arts world, with many commenting on his incredibly quick movements. However, he became a fan favorite not through winning, but through his off-screen persona, that of a fast-paced daredevil, always on the move with the fastest cars, fastest women, fastest everything. Shunto’s life is speed. But, if his ties to the Razors gang were to be brought to light, even as he works with them unwillingly, his fans would undoubtedly leave him at a speed that would make even his head reel, and his career would be over.
Legacy Traits: +2 Dex, +1 Con, Quick, Skilled (Athletics + English), Sprinter
Class: Monk (Way of Drunken Master)
Background: Authority
Note: Thanks to Bawdy for helping me rewrite Shunto, making his story flow much better than before! 

5. Shigo. She has overcome the death at a great cost. She forgot her life and tries to remember as much of it as she can. Until then, she got used to calling herself and being called Shigo. The only times she feels emotions is when it is something that relates to her past she's seeking to this very day. Over time, Shigo has realized her knowledge and memories are not completely gone, she just needs to be in the right situation to recall them.
Legacy Traits: +2 Int, +1 Con, Grim Fate, Poison Resistant, Nightly Eyes
Class: Scholar (Philosopher)
Background: Immortal

6. Mari Nakamiya. Ever since she has stolen a magical ceramic watch from the fairy shrine, she has been afflicted by a curse  whenever she touches the iron or steel with her bare skin, it burns her as much as a fire would. She thinks the watch is worth the price, but looks for a way to get rid of her curse. Determined, secretive, and avoiding those wretched metals at all costs, she wanders the world seeking someone who could help her.
Legacy Traits: +2 Str, +1 Cha, Savage Might, Skilled (Arcana, sylvan), Swimmer
Class: Pugilist (Square Circle)
Background: Discovery (the magical watch)

7. Junko Kurobe. Junko is a woman leading double life. One of her lives is a well hidden ordinary job done during the day, but through an elaborate disguise, she's able to lead a nightlife where she acts as the Rouge Cardomancer. Dressed in pinks and purples, and being fabulous, in her Rouge role she gets to do everything she represses during the day by robbing people of their money through various card tricks, well-placed bets and occasionally through cons that involve assistants too.
Legacy Traits: +1 Str, +1 Dex, +1 Int, Skilled (Insight, playing cards), Magical Trickster, Telekinesist
Class: Warmage (House of Cards)
Background: False Identity

8. Hiro Nisan. Ever since he found oil and became a billionaire, he grew more and more bored. And boredom leads to experimentation. He has his own company, and uses it to fuel his various hobby, seemingly a new one every week. Proud, hard to entertain and smug, Hiro is one of the most well-known people in the country. He is also obsessed with the numbers 16 and 23 due to his name translating into them through Japanese wordplay.
Legacy Traits: ???
Class: Warden (???)
Background: Authority, ???


Monday, April 30, 2018

[EoK] Backgrounds and "Alignments"

I've got a confession to make. I don't really care much for backgrounds. I know, how could I do such a thing, right? Well... the problem is that most of them appear boring, or possibly even weak. And unlike a lot of DMs, I don't condemn power playing. Both because most of my games are solo, but also because I know players want to feel good about their characters.

Most of the background features presented in Player's Handbook rely on your adventurers traveling around the world a lot. Ethernet of Keys should be centered on a few big cities above anything else, with players solving problems that occur within them and maybe traveling out of the cities now and then. Paging through the book, I discovered that most of the backgrounds offer what amounts to the same benefits: You can sleep in someone else's house, they maybe even offer you food if you're a good guest, they are generally friendly to you and your group. Compare that to urchin, whose feature of moving twice as fast through the cities is very useful in an urban-centric game.

Most of the features listed in this document come from Player's Handbook and Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, as well as Backgrounds Omnibus, and Tribality. Few of the features I came up with myself, or boiled down from the official sources.

Download the PDF

Being a hockey player was just the beginning of his undead hunting profession.
Harry Dresden, by BrentWoodside

Reworked Backgrounds

As a player, you can choose two skill proficiencies and a total of two tool proficiencies or languages. You can't choose languages granted only by class features this way. You can also choose personal characteristics personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws from any background. All of these choices should be discussed with the DM to see how they fit PC's backstory.

The players also gain two background features a group background feature, and an individual background feature. The group background feature shows how the character is related to the world and can give them a trinket that should somehow tie them to the organization, while the individual background feature gives the player something that makes them different.

Group Background Feature

Choose one group such as an organization, a small town or a district of a large city. You can find place to hide, rest or recuperate among other commoners in the chosen group, unless you have shown yourself to be a danger to them. They will shield you from the law or anyone else searching for you, though they will not risk their lives for you.
Additionally, if the chosen group can provide a service for you, such as sailing a ship or casting some spells, they are willing to do it for a reduced cost of small favor in return, depending on the task.

Examples of such organizations, other than small towns or city districts, include: religious groups, artistic groups, criminal gangs, medical centers, entertainment troupes, journalistic corporations, noble families, ship crews, armies, hacker cliques, ...

Do not try to fool the magical creatures.
Highly Flammable (reworked), by Greg-opalinski

Individual Features List

You can choose one of the following features as a background feature that characterizes you more personally. It is possible to gain or lose these features during play.

Authority. Whether it's due to your noble heritage or unnatural beauty, you are welcome in high society and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are. You have no troubles securing an audience with a local noble if you need to, and the common folk make efforts to avoid your displeasure, as long as they have respect for you.

Bad Reputation. People are afraid of you due to your reputation. You can get away with minor criminal offenses, such as refusing to pay for food at a bar or breaking down doors at a local shop, since most people will not report your activity to the authorities.

Black Market Contact. You know how to gain access to the local black market, where you can buy equipment you wouldn't be able to buy legally.

Citywise. When you are not in combat, you (and companions you lead) can travel between any two locations in the city twice as fast as your speed would normally allow.

Companions. Whether they are servants, companions from your group or fans, you have the service of three commoners who can perform mundane tasks for you. However, they will not follow you into obviously dangerous areas, and will refuse to fight for you. If they are endangered or abused too frequently, they will leave.

Curiosity. Through the curiosity you spark in others just by your presence through your accent, mannerisms, figures of speech, or perhaps even appearance, you can gain access to people and places you might not otherwise have, for you and your traveling companions.

Discovery. You have uncovered a great truth of some nature. It could be a truth about the cosmos, forces of nature, or a fact that has been long forgotten. Work with your DM to determine the details of your discovery and its impact on the campaign.

False Identity. You have created a second identity that includes documentation, digital profile, established acquaintances, and disguises that allow you to assume that persona.

Favor Exchange. You can call in a favor from a contact within your chosen group to perform a mundane task for you such as gathering information or arranging safe passage. If the favor puts your contact at risk, they will require an equally risky favor from you in return. The contact can refuse to perform tasks assigned to them before they manage to finish the first one.

Immortal. You can't die of old age. Work out with your DM the details of your immortality how did your character achieve it, whether there are any side effects it has etc.

Innocent. When you are at the mercy of another, they always prefer to capture you rather than kill you, unless you resist capture to the point of death. If you offer yourself as a hostage (perhaps in exchange for another), almost any creature accepts this trade.

Landowner. You own a building larger than a regular home and a plot of land it stands on. Determine with your DM why you own it, what exactly it is for and some basic parameters such as the size or some rooms it has.

Oathbreaker’s Mark. Your soul is marked for your transgressions, and the magical beings can always recognize an oathbreaker mark. Encounters with the magical creatures are not necessarily hostile, but they are never trusting. When a creature breaks an oath or bargain with you, you can mark it as an oathbreaker if it is on the same plane of existence as you are. You can end a mark that you placed at any time, and you can sense oathbreaker marks on others if you can see them, and they are within 30 feet.

Pattern master. By observing a pattern you can predict what comes next, if advancing, or what came before if needing to predict in reverse order with 100% accuracy. This ability works with even irregular patterns, or ones that don’t seem to follow the same set of rules all the time. The more complex a pattern is, the longer it takes you to figure it out.

Researcher. If you don't know a piece of information you're trying to recall or learn, you know where and from whom you can obtain it. Usually, this information comes from a library, university, or some learned person. Your DM might rule that the knowledge you seek is secreted away in an almost inaccessible place, or that it simply cannot be found.

Unprofiled. Whether through your own actions, or that of a benefactor, you have almost no digital presence. Almost all records of your history have been erased or sealed, and you are not easily recognizable by facial recognition or cameras. Your data is also extremely secure, and only your personal devices can access it.

Vigilant. Once per day, you can spend 10 minutes observing the settlement you reside in at the moment to get a significant observation about local culture such as a local taboo, legend or rumor.

Wanderer. You have excellent memory for maps and geography, and you can always recall the general layout of terrain, settlements, and other features around you. In addition, you can find food and fresh water for yourself and up to five other people each day while in wilderness, provided that the land offers berries, small game, water and so forth.


In the future, I will expand the backgrounds by including the starting equipment players get from individual features. Until then, I will have to settle for the optional rule from chapter 5 of PHB.

This is what happens when your city doesn't have magical monster hunters.
Ghost Cat, by thegryph

... and Alignments

Lower your pitchforks, please. I know what I have said in the past about alignments, and I know I have ditched them for most of my other settings. But its box always sits at the top of the character sheets, ready to be used for something. That's why I've tried to experiment a little, and came up with something that could be a good use for it. One that the players would actually have to make anyway, and one that would not make their characters go mad, because their characters already acknowledge these alignments to be true. These alignments are about their personal philosophies.

The first axis talks about the character's awareness of the profiling and conspiracies behind the technology. There are generally three groups of people on this axis: people who are aware and worried about it, possibly even doing something against the system; people who are unaware and blissfully live out their lives not knowing anything about it; and people who are ignorant of it they know about the system knowing their preferences, but choose to not do anything about it, feeling it's alright for the providers to invade their privacy.

Example uses: finding like-minded individuals on the ethernet annonymously, changes in the danger rating of an individual, general outlook on the society, ...

The second axis talks about the character's relationship to magic. The first group finds magic to be fine, and useful. For the purposes of the alignment, they'll be thus labeled as arcanists (unless I find a better name). Then there are those who are neutral about the magic, not minding it but not really trying to use it themselves. And finally, forsakers, who find magic to be repulsive and consider it a force working against the humanity and civilization due to how it works against the technology.

Example uses: fairies that can detect whether you do or don't hold magic, government keeping track of your stance of magic, your public stance affecting the profile companies have about you, access into the societies that work for or against magic, ...

I would of course advise players to agree before creating their characters on which of the alignments do they pick. With the second one, I have succeeded in not making it necessarily good vs. evil”, but with the first one I can't quite say that, seeing how the system will rely on PCs that are hackers and those who fight for the privacy of common folk.

For my games, I recommend players pick either aware or unaware alignment on the awareness scale, and arcanist or neutral alignment as a stance towards magic.



That should be all for today. Next up, expect the updated version of Legacy System, with some new features! Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

[EoK] Legacy, Racial System Replacement

Instead of races, Ethernet of Keys setting will use the Legacy System, in which players get to pick their racial traits in small packets, depending on their personal history and life. This post features a modified human from the PHB as a base for the statistics all humans share, expanding on them afterwards using the Legacy System.

To introduce the Legacy system briefly, it is a highly adaptable system ideal for single-race low magic settings (such as EoK), single-race no magic settings, or settings so high on magic it would be silly to try and document all the races to find there. Below is an extended list of pros and cons this system can offer to you:

+each of the races created in this system is roughly on a same power level,
+DM can easily remove or modify the options from their game to fit most settings,
+ DM can let players start with more legacy points if they want to let players become stronger (I would not recommend to lower the number of legacy points as that would make them weaker than most official races),
+ DM can easily modify how magical the players can get by allowing more or less Arcane calls to be picked (2 by default),
+ players are free to come up with their own flavor for final outcome, e.g. flavoring someone with flaming soul as either fire genasi, tiefling, flaming aasimar or just fire wizard's son,
- some of the options are a little stronger than I would prefer (in particular: acid, cold and lightning choices in arcane calls section),
- this system is not suitable for worlds where the DM wants all the races to be clearly defined.


Original artwork by Cristi Balanescu

Base Statistics
Regardless of your Legacy choices, most of the humans share the following traits:

Age. Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Size. Humans range widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. You know Common and one extra language of your choice.

Legacy

Players are usually considered human in this setting and thus can't really fit all into one neat race that gets a +1 to every stat, or gets a feat for free. Instead, the players get 6 legacy points to spend when creating a character. They can take any of the following Legacy options by spending the said amount of legacy points on them. You can take each Legacy option only once, unless the option's description says otherwise.

Major Ability Score Improvement
Cost: 2 legacy points
One ability score of your choice increases by +2.

Minor Ability Score Improvement
Cost: 1 legacy point
One ability score of your choice increases by +1. If you did not take the Major Ability Score Improvement, this option can be taken up to six times, choosing a different ability score each time.

Amateur Craftsman
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have proficiency with artisan's tools (tinker's tools), and you add double your proficiency bonus to checks using your proficiency with tinker's tools. Using those tools, as part of a short rest you can spend 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny device (AC 5, 1 hp). The device ceases to function after 24 hours (unless you spend 1 hour repairing it to keep the device functioning), or when you use your action to dismantle it; at that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can have up to three such devices active at a time.
When you create a device, choose one of the following options:
Alarm. This device senses when a creature moves to within 15 feet of it without speaking aloud a password chosen when you create it. One round after a creature moves into range, the alarm makes a shrill ringing that lasts for 1 minute and can be heard from up to 300 feet away.
Automated Toy. This toy is an animal, monster, or person, such as a frog, mouse, bird, dragon, or soldier. When placed on the ground, the toy moves 5 feet across the ground on each of your turns in a random direction. It makes noises as appropriate to the creature it represents.
Calculator. This device makes doing sums easy.
Clock. This watch keeps accurate time, and it can be used to measure time.
Flashlight. You can use your bonus action to turn this device on or off. When it is turned on, it shines a bright light in a 15-foot cone and a dim light for an additional 15 feet.
Lighter. The device produces a miniature flame, which you can use to light a candle, torch, or campfire. Using the device requires your action.
Music Player. When opened, this device plays a single song at a moderate volume. The player stops playing when it reaches the song's end or when it is closed.

Athletic
Cost: 1 legacy point
You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag or lift. Additionally, your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage.

Climber
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have a climbing speed of 30 feet and you’re acclimated to high altitude, including elevations above 20,000 feet. You’re also naturally adapted to extremely cold climates, and suffer no penalties caused by them.

Poison Resistant
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have a resistance against poison damage.

Quick
Cost: 1 legacy point
Your base walking speed increases to 35 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor.

Savage Might
Cost: 2 legacy points
Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level. Additionally, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon's damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Skilled
Cost: 1 legacy point
You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice and in one tool set or language of your choice. Alternatively, you can gain proficiency in any combination of four tool sets or languages. You can select this option multiple times. Each time you do so, you must choose different proficiencies.

Sprinter
Cost: 1 legacy point
Your reflexes and agility allow you to move with a burst of speed. When you move on your tum in combat, you can double your speed until the end of the tum. Once you use this trait, you can't use it again until you move 0 feet on one of your turns.

Swimmer
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can hold your breath for up to 15 minutes, and you have a swimming speed of 30 feet. Furthermore, you have advantage on any Strength (Athletics) checks made to swim in difficult conditions.

Weapon training
Cost: 1 legacy point
You gain a proficiency in one martial weapon and two simple weapons of your choice. You can select this option multiple times. Each time you do so, you must choose different weapons.


Character Design study - modern clothing, by Rodrigo Idalino

Arcane Calls

Whether you were born with it, in contact with magic long enough, or contracted the magic in some other way, you are now innately magical. You can choose up to two of the following arcane calls when creating a character. After picking at least one arcane call, you automatically gain the Arcane Fate option for free.
When you learn a new cantrip through an arcane call you choose, you must choose one of the following ability scores: Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. You must use the chosen ability score as a spellcasting ability for the cantrips you gained through the racial features. If you ever gain levels in warmage class, you must use the same spellcasting ability for it.
Some of the calls may list an ability score as one of its prerequisites. This means that in order to be able to take this call, you must have a Minor or Major Ability Score Improvement, with which you have chosen that ability score.

Unusual Appearances
Those who have been called by magic usually develop physical features that set them apart from regular humans. It could be something small as eyes of unnatural color or pointed ears, or something as big as having wings on your back or your hair being a small flame instead. Players are free to take inspiration from other settings and encouraged to come up with their own distinguishing looks, as long as they provide no mechanical benefits beyond those outlined in the Arcane Calls.

Arcane Fate
Prerequisite: At least one arcane call
You are not seen as fully human anymore, and thus can be treated by some with suspicions. You gain disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks and advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks against such individuals. At DM's discretion, anyone's opinions on those with arcane calls may shift over time either way.

Aquatic Origin
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can breathe air and water, and you know the shape water cantrip.

Breathless
Prerequisite: STR and CON
Cost: 1 legacy

You do not need to breathe.

Cold Adaptation
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have resistance against cold damage, and you know the ray of frost cantrip.

Earthly Form
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the mold earth cantrip. Additionally, you can move across difficult terrain made of earth or stone without expending extra movement.

Electric Ardor
Prerequisite: CON
Cost: 1 legacy point 
You have resistance against lightning damage, and you know the shocking grasp cantrip.

Faeblooded
Prerequisite: CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put you to sleep. Furthermore, you don't need to sleep. Instead, you meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious for 4 hours a day. While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that others would from 8 hours of sleep.

Flaming Soul
Cost: 2 legacy point
You know the control flames and produce flame cantrips. Additionally, you have resistance against fire damage.

Fortunate
Prerequisites: INT and CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Grim Fate
Prerequisites: CON
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the spare the dying cantrip. Furthermore, you have advantage on saving throws against diseases and poisons.

Heaven Blooded
Prerequisites: WIS or CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
As an action, you can touch a creature and cause it to regain a number of hit points equal to your level. Once you use this trait, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest. Additionally, you have resistance against radiant damage.

Light Bringer
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the word of radiance cantrip and your choice of either dancing lights or light cantrip.

Magical Trickster
Prerequisites: INT, WIS or CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know prestidigitation and thaumaturgy cantrips.

Mental Connector
Prerequisites: INT or WIS
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the mind meld and telepathic lash cantrips.

Mind Coiler
Prerequisites: INT or CHA
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the blind spot and delusion cantrips.

Nightly Eyes
Prerequisites: WIS
Cost: 1 legacy point
You can see in dim light within 120 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

One with Nature
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the druidcraft cantrip. You can also communicate simple ideas through sounds and gestures with Small or smaller beasts.

Shadow Weaver
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the blind spot and minor illusion cantrips.

Shapeshifter
Prerequisites: WIS and CHA
Cost: 2 legacy points
As an action, you can assume a different form of a humanoid creature or change back into your true form, transforming your appearance. You decide what you look like, including your height, weight, facial features, sound of your voice, hair length, coloration, and distinguishing characteristics, if any. You can make yourself appear as a member of another race, though none of your statistics change. You also can't appear as a creature of a different size than you, and your basic shape stays the same. However, your equipment does not change with you. If you die, you revert to your natural appearance. Additionally, you have advantage on saving throws against any spell or effect that would alter your form.

Spirit of the Wind
Prerequisites: DEX
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have advantage on saving throws against being knocked prone, and you know the gust cantrip.

Telekinesist
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the mage hand and mystic hand cantrips.

Thunderborn
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have resistance against thunder damage, and you know the thunderclap cantrip.

Toughened Body
Prerequisites: CON
Cost: 1 legacy point
When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 13 + your Dexterity modifier. You can use this AC to determine your AC if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor. Furthermore, you do not need to eat or drink.

Uncanny Projector
Prerequisite: INT
Cost: 1 legacy point
You know the arcane graffiti and magic ID cantrips.

Vitriolic Pith
Prerequisites: CON
Cost: 1 legacy point
You have resistance against acid damage, and you know the acid splash cantrip.

Winged
Prerequisites: STR and DEX
Cost: 2 legacy points
You have a flying speed of 30 feet. To use this speed, you can't be wearing medium or heavy armor.

Shadowrun Street Legends, by jasonjuta



Sidenote - I am treating psionic talents as cantrips in order to allow magic users of my setting more spell options, seeing how they can't use spells of 1st level or higher. The psionic talents mentioned in this system are taken from the Psionic Handbook and I'll detail some other time on how they should function when considered cantrips. For now, assume they need Verbal and Somatic components, have action cost as mentioned in description, and have a duration of instantaneous and range of self unless other duration or range is specified.
Regarding cantrips presented in the Uncanny Projector feature, they come from Modern Handbook written by /u/AeronDrake.

Download the PDF

That should be it for today. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

[EoK] Ethernet of Keys

For the longest time I've wanted to come up with a low magic setting. I think I've figured out enough details, and hopefully settled on a name for it, to put it up here. I do not intend to stop working on my high magic setting anytime soon.




Tokyo in near future, by iacocca

The Premise

Ethernet of Keys (abbreviation EoK) is a setting that's based in a modern world, with a focus on technology on our level. This world is interconnected by ethernet, people all around the world use smartphones, computers, tablets and other kinds of smart electronic devices, virtual realities are accessed, vehicles are driven and guns are fired. Unlike in the rest of D&D, magic has a limited presence in this setting to allow for greater focus on technology, as well as allowing there to be more mystery behind magic. With exception of an advanced virtual reality and a possible AI, the technology won't be developed much beyond what we have in our world, so do not expect perfect humanoid robots, giant mechas or cybernetic implants just for the sake of being better instead of using them as prosthesis.

My approach to cosmology for this setting will be a planar minimalism — I'll challenge myself to make as little planes as possible to keep focus of EoK on other things. As far as I can tell right now, I plan for there to be about five planes of existence, but that is just an early rough estimate.

I am going to also limit the races given in the setting, reworking the racial system as it works now. I plan to get rid of, or move into wilderness, of most classical fantasy races — elves, halflings, dwarves, gnomes, bird people, etc. — leaving myself only with humans and “humans with an arcane call” (replacing effectively the planetouched).

For all of this, I plan to modify the D&D 5th Edition. I doubt it's going to be an “improvement”, but it's something I wish to attempt for my home group, and for the opportunity to test out my game design abilities.

The Name

Believe it or not, the name was probably the toughest decision to make for me. Naming things is hard. Eventually, I settled on this name for the reasons I'll list below:
  • Ethernet. The name of this world's internet comes from the fact that humanity has figured out how to transport radio waves through the ethereal plane, where they go much faster than in the material plane, due to the lack of obstacles. It's a net that connects everything through the ether, thus the name Ethernet was born. Sadly, nothing bigger than an atom has been transported through the ether yet.
  • Keys. I did want to connect it to some symbolic object, and figured keys could do, because keys are used to lock things you don't want to share with others.
  • Whole name thus talks about the internet full of things you don't want to share with others, but share nonetheless, reflecting one of the core themes.

Themes

Here's a list of several themes I plan to build this world upon, written briefly with no further details for now. The dominant theme for this setting is privacy, but I made space for other themes too. Some of these themes might be expanded upon in future articles, some might be left out in the future.
  • Change versus escape versus adaptation
  • Faith versus doubt
  • Fate versus free will
  • Real versus perceived heroism
  • Individual versus society
  • Knowledge versus ignorance
  • Nature versus technology
     
  • Greed/power as downfall
  • Hierarchy in nature and in city
  • Identity crisis — inner, outer and virtual persona
  • Immortality and necessity of perfection
  • Isolation as destructive force
  • Lost honor and injustice(edited)

DELIRIUM - A Fantasy Short Movie, by Bogdan-MRK

Mechanics

In place of races, I have developed a system for giving out racial traits, allowing players to build themselves unique despite all being humans. I will use AeronDrake's Modern Handbook of rules and Modern Magic UA as major sources of inspiration. As I stated previously, I am going to leave out all the casters, half-casters and third-casters (with one exception), but I am going to fill the system in with new classes to allow for more unique characters, as listed below with their sources:
  • Barbarian (PHB)
  • Fighter (VF)
  • Inventor (PHB, Warlock that's heavily reflavored) 
  • Monk* (PHB, reworked to work as a non-magical class)
  • Pugilist* (Pugilist, if monk won't work)
  • Ranger* (YARV)
  • Rogue (PHB)
  • Scholar* (AiME, Sterling Vermin once it'd be finished, or another resource)
  • Warden (AiME)
  • Warmage (Warmage)
* not sure if they are necessary, in consideration until then
AiME - Adventures in Middle Earth
Pugilist - Pugilist class made by Sterling Vermin
VF -  Variant fighter made by /u/layhnet 
YARV - Yet Another Ranger Variant made by /u/ImFromNASA reworked to not use spell slots
Warmage - Warmage created by Middle Finger of Vecna

edit: Pugilist and Ranger are out, rangers are unnecessary in a setting that's focused on cities, and pugilists are unnecessary due to edits made to the monk

I plan to post the new racial system soon, may create some backgrounds in my spare time, and do some more posts in the future. Furthermore, it is possible I'll use one of the talent tree reworks of feat system that I saw circulating around /r/UA, and I will include most of the psionic talents from Psionic Handbook as cantrips in order to allow for a greater selection of cantrips, seeing how it's the only kind of magic available to players.

Houserules

Most of these apply to any of my games, but I'm including them in this article to keep track of everything.
  • Anytime a creature falls to 0 HP, it gains one level of exhaustion.
  • Magic items must be experimented with and studied in order to discover their abilities.
  • No electronic radio, satellite or cellular communications work in areas affected by magic, this includes areas affected by spells, e.g. Silence cancels a phone's ability to text message.
  • Magic items can scramble electronic computer and TV screens temporarily while within certain radius.
  • Electronic devices that disrupt magic in an area are fairly common.
  • Due to the religion being a part of the supernatural world, the skill of Religion will be replaced with Technology. Technology reflects your ability to do some uncommon tasks using electronics in general such as understanding how unfamiliar device works, programming, doing tough worksheet calculations, setting up websites etc. Anything related to religion can now be rolled on with Arcana instead.
  • If players have companions and the DM allows it, players get to control them in combat until the DM says otherwise. That includes building their character out of combat. This is a houserule intended for my solo games, to make them easier and more engaging.

Worldbuilding and History

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to do much of this yet. I plan to do it in a near future, after finishing the racial system, seeing how the racial system could be useful for many players and not just for me. This should include a hex map and some rough outline for the world's history.



That's it for today. Next article should be about my new racial system for EoK. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Logo Credits
Font used: Dubstep heroes font, icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Cursed Queens Compendium, v1

For quite a while now, I wanted to rework my original warlock patron, the Seven-cursed Queen Arcadia. I've given it good amount of thinking, and came to a conclusion: Why should it be just Arcadia? How could the things have been if she was not to win? Answers to these questions brought me more questions, which were like a pair of tickets for what was the best thought train I've ridden in a long time.

Reddit link
GMBinder linkGoogle Drive link

Originally, The Seven-Cursed Queen patron was too long and unwieldy for most people to really pay attention to, so I've split her up into six patrons. Eventually I plan to work out dynamic stat blocks for all of the queens so that this can be played out by a DM and players.

Design Notes

Since there's a ton of stuff, I will only address the parts that cause me concerns:
  • Some of the ribbons given out from the winning queen, such as Arcadia's or Lia's ribbon, might be used for something a DM did not expect. For example, producing ashes until there's a heap tall enough to climb up a wall, or attempting to produce rare flowers by stomping on their seeds. Those abilities might need some clarifications depending on feedback I get.
  • Most of the spell lists were constructed rather hap-hazardly without second thought, since I prefer not to add new spells into the game. If however there will happen to be choices that would make the warlock too strong, I will have no other choice.
  • Beguiling Defenses are shared by everyone, because it is a trait I felt fits the queens. I hope people will not see it just as laziness.
  • Names for other features are a bit repetitive, but I felt I should keep the theme between them as it was before to further confirm that these subclasses can really be combined.
  • Healing effect of the cursed gloves might be too weak on higher levels. Bonus action to heal yourself or an ally 5 hit points would be pathetic at levels such as 10 or so, but I'd assume it would be done in case someone falls unconscious.
  • Cursed earrings grant two expertises at level 1, which would play right into the wet dreams of all the skill monkeys out there. Then again, it's for two skills players can't really pick themselves.
  • Capstone of the cursed eyes might be a bit too strong. Then again, it can be kinda weak compared to fiend, who gets their thing instantaneously, while this warlock risks their enemies succeeding on all three saves.
  • Heart's level 1 and 14 feature are just rehashes of level 1 archfey and level 14 great old one features. But hopefully they are different enough.
  • Artworks used don't really resemble the queens. Then again, finding all of those would be too big of a coincidence, and comissioning them for a project that might not even turn out that successful would be very expensive. I hope the Heart's steampunk painting is explained by that brief "queen of skies" note.

That would be all for today. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Smartphone, v2.1

Finally I come back to some of my older projects that are used these days to rework them. Today I feel like taking a small break from the talks of lore and talking about the design decisions behind the Smartphone v2.1.


Introduction

The item is described in the beginning section as a device with unique number and 12 Memory Units that can run several preinstalled apps and download more. Compared to the previous versions, in this I have decided to remove the charges completely. They were yet another resource for players to keep track of, and personally while DMing, I was never too bothered with them, ignoring them for the most part. Instead, it is exchanged for a simpler rule of the smartphone lasting 12 hours turned on before it turns off by itself.
The number of Memory Units - 12 - is still in an experimental phase. I wanted the number to definitely be less than the entire amount of apps available, but big enough to allow some variety in-between smartphones.

Preinstalled Apps

Most of these are straightforward, so I will comment mostly on the changes.
  • Calculator was removed because it's pretty useless. DMs and players could still assume the smartphone to have a calculator.
  • Calendar and Clock are merged in one app, and I am starting to question their usefulness. For now I am keeping them as they are.
  • I assumed apps that take an action to be actions where you have to be actively looking at your smartphone even for a small moment, concentrating, while the apps that are used with a bonus action don't require full attention.

Downloadable Apps

Same as above, speaking of changes unless I have something more to say there.
  • Datcord is a reference to Discord, and it's a quick way for a group of people to communicate through smartphones. Compare to message that limits you to 25 words per message for one person at a time, without a requirement of Ethernet access.
  • Encyclopedia Arcana is a rather risky move, but I don't think it will affect all that much. It can grant at most a +3 bonus to a knowledge-gathering skill check with Intelligence regarding some specific topics you choose.
  • eSpellbook is an app that's a digital spellbook. Could make for a neat tool used by wizards and such.
  • Snap'n'Chat is a communication tool for sending of videos that are temporary. The key advantage of it is that they could be used for some of the more shady businesses that are supposed to stay hidden, as well as photos/videos that one is not supposed to look at for too long. It's of course a reference to Snapchat.
  • Superb is a tool for easier transportation, and a reference to Uber.
  • Tweeter is an app that'đ a reference to Twitter. It's used for sharing of short messages with anyone with Ethernet access.

Smartphone Games

To make something less useful and more fun, I've included two kinds of games with this version of smartphone. They do not have any deeper meaning at the moment, though it could be fairly easy to come up with something (prestige from being the #1 on a leaderboard, secret message at the end of a long puzzle game, etc.).
  • 100 floors is a reference to all those games where you have to solve one hundred miniature puzzles one by one. Simply enough, the skill check DC and skill that has to be used for solving it are randomly determined. I hope that the mechanics of "getting stuck on a puzzle" were written well enough. Also, this is an ideal world where a puzzle solution can't just be found online, so no ethernet option.
  • Arena Myth Hunt is a game with a name that started as a reference and sort of devolved into this weird mess of a name. Which is fine, because the game itself should sound chaotic. AR shooter where you can plant digital bombs, shoot nearby people and regenerate your lost digital hit points, I think it's okay. Not something phenomenal, but far from the worst it could have been.

I might add more games in the future. Not sure if I'll add more apps, the list as I have it right now feels exhaustive enough to me. Until then though, I plan to revisit the mechas and rework/create subclasses that use smartphones and/or mechas.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

4 Psionics reflavors

For the longest time, I've tried to figure out how to make the psionics fit into the D&D worlds. My initial thoughts on why they don't fit were that not everyone could tell psionics and just regular old magic apart. And that's true, but it's also true for wizards and sorcerers, clerics and paladins, druids and rangers and other such combinations. But what I figured out is that common folk can't tell the difference between a lot of stuff anyway, so why should that be a problem? I like to explore new magic systems, which is why I support psionics in D&D.

May the... mind be with you?

In this article, I'll list four ways to flavor psionics so that they fit better into a fantasy setting. I always found the explanation of "mind over matter" and "it just comes from within" to not be good enough. What would be stopping anyone from becoming a psion if it comes from within? I don't like it, and thus I came up with four attempts at solutions:

  1. Lucid State (also referred to as Dreampower, of Waking Lucidity). You have gained the powers you now hold through special training performed inside of the dreams. Within the dreams, you have learned the techniques and practiced them long enough to know how to manifest them in real life. This is not something anyone could reach, because most people have "scripted dreams" - they are not lucid, they are not in control, they just do whatever their mind feels like doing.
  2. Simulationist (also referred to as Meta, Neo or whatever fits). You have opened your eyes and saw the truth that's hidden from the most. Your reality is just a mere simulation - be it a book where everything is just words, a song sung by a God, a video game realistic audio-visual projection processed on a superadvanced computing machine, or a campfire story told by a bunch of people around the fire until it goes away. You know the truth, and you can manipulate the reality, knowing you're just a character within story, gaining great powers because of it.
  3. Akashic Archivist. I went over this last time, so I'll be brief - you channel the knowledge of Akashic Archives into your mind. Sometimes it's incomprehensible, sometimes it's useless, but after all that comes the stuff you can use to your advantage. Secrets of the reality and such, perceived by the Allseer.
  4. Far Realms Magic (also known as You're a fhtagn, Harry). You peered into the Far Realms long enough, knowing just enough information for them to peer back at you. Now you are infected with their very own magic.
Bonus choice: Combine any or all of the above. Afterall, they are kinda compatible - why couldn't the world be a story told inside of a god's dream? What if the Akashic Archive is indeed a source of Far Realms magic?

I'm not gonna claim that any of these is a unique idea, but I hope listing them in here and in relation to psionics gives people some cool ideas. Do you have anything that should have been included in the list? Feel free to leave a comment!

Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

[Spoilers] Senses and What you see is what you get

I advise players of mine to not read further. This article does not contain plot spoilers, it's about mechanics I'd prefer my players to find out about on their own.

Sentience, by TylerReitan


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Location Statblocks

I made a thing, and people seem to like it!

Long explanation made short: In D&D, exploration is underdeveloped as opposed to combat, and I wanted to try out making it better by treating environments as monsters according to suggestion of someone on reddit.

Here's the original version, and here's the version 2.
Direct link.

It seems to have become a trend.