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 link
Google 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.


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