Wednesday, April 3, 2019

So what's up with the blog?

Hope you didn't fall for my April Fools.

I'll keep the news brief. These days I'm working hard on some school stuff. I've got several projects that I am working on, most significant ones being a tabletop RPG system of my own, and a series of short stories that would take place in the world of Runehack. These stories will get their own tag so that it's easy to tell them apart from my regular posts.

I've got several ideas for the articles that I could post on this blog, but all of them lacked that spark I felt when writing most of my other articles, so I didn't get back to finishing them.

I do also have plans for 5e homebrews, but I don't know when will I manage to publish those. I did manage to publish another version of Sealed Horror, but judging by the feedback I received, it's still not complete.

Here's an overview of my homebrews up until now ever since Golden King Monk, excluding older versions of already updated brews. The list is organized in the order of newest to oldest.

Sealed Horror, a sorcerous origin
Minimus Magus, a fighter archetype
Monstrous Lord, a ranger archetype
The Backstabbing Friend, a magical item
Circle of the Blood Alchemy, a druidic circle
Rod of Fifth Glyph Chastising, a magical rod
Jánošík's Infamous Treasures, a set of magical items
Way of the Rubber, a monastic way
Path of the Organist, a barbaric path
Warp Sniper, a fighter archetype
Appliancebjörn, a sorcerous origin

Apologies for the inactivity on the blog. Have a nice day!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Theory: Is this show actually about a post-scarcity society?? (also goodbye homebrewing)

It has been done. Today, I released by Magnum Opus. The greatest 5e homebrew to ever see the light of day. I can do no more but bask in my glory, as I move on to more superior forms of activity. Like making complicated theories about animated shows for my own entertainment and upvotes on /r/fantheories.


You know, ever since my young years, there's been this one show that I used to follow where a couple of cool characters wordlessly did funny stuff. And lately, these memories have resurfaced. I looked them up on youtube, and sure enough they're there. Seeing them though made me ask so many questions...

  • What are they?
  • Where are they?
  • Are they the only ones?
  • When are they?

All of these questions and much more will be answered in today's article. So sit back, bring popcorn, and let's see where this goes.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Alter Time rune and Epoch Engine

The world of Runehack has got two runes that mirror each other in an interesting way - Detection and Illusion. For every visual illusion such as a chair, there is some rune to detect it. For every sound produced by a rune, there is also a rune to detect it. This goes for all senses. But... does this work for the time too? How would that look? After all, time depends heavily on how you sense it. Time seems to flow super slow while in a doctor's waiting room, and super fast when you're having a blast. Time itself doesn't change though, your perception does. And you can definitely set up a rune to activate when the detection rune detects that five minutes have passed since activation.

Alter Time

Illusions of time are about as complicated to fully comprehend as the majority of uses for Encryption rune. What would that even mean? Could you travel in time? Well yes, but actually not really. The truth is, all of us are time travelers, traveling through time at the rate of 1 sps, one second per second.

The rune scheme called "Alter Time" lets us change this rate. At its simplest form, you need to spend one hour in drawing this complex rune. Doing so will seemingly slow everything around you down to go two times slower for one minute. Your rate of traveling through time is 2 sps. The rune can also be drawn in an exactly opposite way, letting you experience 0.5 sps, seemingly making everything around you two times as fast.

As soon as the spell stops working, your body reacts to being forced to move at the speed unusual to you as your muscles stiffen. In D&D terms, think of this as a reduction to the Dexterity score.

Question is - can we cast this spell so that we get higher or lower rates? Of course we can! But that also comes at a cost. For every added second (or smaller fraction), the length of time needed to draw this rune is multiplied by 10. So for 3 sps (or 1/3 sps), you need 10 hours, 100 hours for 4 sps, 1000 hours for 5 sps. As you can imagine, slowing time beyond 8 sps is not humanly possible (though let's admit it, it would be really cool). Especially since these runes have to be drawn continuously - you can't take breaks from magic. But... humanity is crafty, it keeps coming up with ways to break the world at all times.

Epoch Engine

Cabal Neuron, one of the organizations that rule the world of Runehack, and the largest producer of autonomous devices such as driverless vehicles and runebots, also creates special runebots named Epoch Engine. When an Epoch Engine unit is built, the first task it gets is to move into a specific area within the building and start drawing a rune of time illusion. This rune is drawn for anywhere from 3 days to even as much as 114 years.

May or may not come preprogrammed with the 3 Laws of Asimov? Actually, they'd be detrimental to their job, so probably not.
Robot Head 112417, by Aaron de Leon

The Epoch Engine units are afterward rented out to important people when they are about to find themselves in extremely important or dangerous situations where they can't afford a failure. The price depends on the size of its inscribed time rune. When something goes awry, an Epoch Engine unit will activate its spell, and do everything it can within the next minute to protect the person it was hired to protect. Due to it perceiving time at 5-8 sps, it is much faster and much more capable of preventing threats, and thus it makes for an effective bodyguard. Sure the attackers who put this important person in danger could expect that, but the VIP can always just rent more of these robots. Once its job is done, it is moved back to the Cabal Neuron facility, where it rests, and draws the time rune once more to be ready for the future.

Runehack now has robots that can be hired to protect a person by slowing their perception of outside time. That's pretty cool. I wonder what'll come next. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How to do low magic?

Happy late New Year, everyone! Sorry for no posts, real life has a way of keeping me busy, but I should be slowly getting back on my tracks now.

During the last few months, I've been pondering how to do low magic settings properly in D&D 5th Edition. I've seen several attempts, but I was not satisfied, because they were not done in the way I wanted. And then it hit me - there is no single low magic. Thus, we got a problem with definitions. So I decided to team up with the Grisly Eye Games to set some terms, accidentally finding out how to do low magic 5th edition D&D settings in the process of doing that.

There are four main types of low magic in the fantasy worlds:
  • low power magic
  • low frequency magic
  • low possibility magic
  • low reliability magic

Low Power Magic

Low power magic is the type of magic that can't do things that are too powerful. It's one of my preferred types of magic, where grand things such as conjuring a fortress or summoning demons (depending on how low the author wants to keep the magic) are simply not possible.

There is a relatively simple way to do a low power magic setting, and that would be to limit, how many caster levels can the players get. Of course, divide half-caster levels by two and third-caster levels by three while counting. The rest of the levels have to be gained in non-caster class, such as monk, fighter, rogue, or barbarian.

When limiting the number of levels, consider what's the maximum caster level you want your players to gain. Depending on this level, different spell slots will be available to the players. If I were to limit the level of magic but still grant my players spell slots, I would most probably allow 10 caster levels. The 9th level is the moment at which the player gains some interesting spells, such as actual resurrections (that are not too strong and come with drawbacks), geas and modify memory, limited long-range teleportation, and several wall spells. I feel like these are still strong enough to be considered master-level magics by some standards. As for why 10th level and not 9th, some of the caster classes like warlock and wizard gain a subclass feature at 10th level, meaning that it could make for an interesting "caster capstone" of sorts.

Low Frequency Magic

The most common of the low magic setting types I've seen, the low frequency magic aims to limit how regularly does one meet with magic. This could be like the Shire in Lord of the Rings, where it's an event when Gandalf comes around, or like the muggle world in Harry Potter (think the beginning of the first movie, before Harry gets to the Diagonal Alley or Hogwarts). There is a charm to this type of low magic - it makes the magic rare, and mysterious. You either don't know when you're talking to a mage, or everyone knows.

How would this be possible is rather easy - set conditions for when a player gets to play someone magical. One good example would be Grisly Eye Games' method of Unique Backgrounds, which are backgrounds that lack a Feature, have an additional Unique Flaw, and let the player play as a race or class normally not allowed in a game. Another example could be gaining the magical powers through a quest, or the magical powers coming at a cost, such as being pursued publicly in a world where magic is forbidden.

Low Possibility Magic

Low Possibility Magic setting is a world, where magic can only be used for a few things. Some examples of this in the popular media would be the Death Note, where the Death Note can essentially only be used to kill people, determine how they die, and control the circumstances of their death (and see the gods of death, but that's not too important now is it), or Avatar the Last Airbender, where magic can be used to control one of the four elements - air, water, fire, earth - and do some other things that I don't think I should mention here.

One good thing about Low Possibility Magic is the potential to improve worldbuilding using this magic. Imagine magical elevators that are possible thanks to the telekinesis, or cancellation of lotteries/raffles due to divination magic. The fewer magic there is, the more manageable it is, and the easier it is to include in the worldbuilding. Which is rather difficult with over 400 spells that the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons has right now.

The solution to this is to limit which spells the players can and can't pick. Possibly even limit which classes players can pick. Or races. Mainly because this type of magic is all about limitations and how one can use a few things for many situations.

Low Reliability Magic

Last but not least, we have the low reliability magic world. Whether it's just magic that can just fizzle out and not work, or magic that has a chance to open a dimensional rift to the xeno hellscapes, this magic is simply not as well documented as the standard 5e's magic, where when you do a thing, it happens for sure.

There are several ways to do this type, but before I go on with that, a fair warning. Players may not like it when their magic doesn't work - whether it's just them expending a spell slot for nothing, or them getting hurt in the process, or their teammates getting hurt in the process and getting angry at the player. This type of low magic should be used with caution, for - just like the magic itself - it can have unpredictable results and may be risky.

So what does one do to make this work? Well, the answer is simple. Roll tables! If I had to call them anything better, I would call them "meta-spells". You can fill these tables with anything - you cast your spell, nothing happens, you conjure an evil monster, you cast maybe a wrong but similar spell or a portal to another dimension opens, ... anything you wish. They can also be of any size you are comfortable with - from d4 to d100, possibly even more or less. Not every cell needs to be different, and if you want your world to work that way, include in some way a possibility to affect the results depending on the caster's level. The easiest way to do that would be to add the caster level to the result and have the table organized from the worst results to the best.

Combined Low Magics

To finish off this article, I'll present the ways in which I'd implement combinations of these low magic types.
  • Low Power Magic + Low Frequency Magic. The players have to fulfill special conditions to be able to gain caster levels or play as magical races, but they can only gain a certain amount of caster levels, having to multiclass into a nonmagical class for the rest. This is especially good for worlds, where the magic is significant because it's scarce (think Lord of the Rings).
  • Low Power Magic + Low Possibility Magic. The players can only gain a certain amount of caster levels, and they have a limited selection of spells. This is especially good for the worlds, where the magic is supposed to be rather obscure and not too useful.
  • Low Power Magic + Low Reliability Magic. The players can only gain a certain amount of caster levels, and the magic they use is not even deterministic anyway.
  • Low Frequency Magic + Low Possibility Magic. The players must fulfill special conditions for the magic and they have a limited selection of magical options.
  • Low Frequency Magic + Low Reliability Magic. The players must fulfill special conditions for the magic options, and the magic they use can have random outcomes.
  • Low Possibility Magic + Low Reliability Magic. Only a few spells are known to the people, and even those can have unpredictable outcomes. If combined with high power magic, this could make for an interesting setting where the magic is forbidden because of the risks connected to it.
Thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a nice day and a good year 2019!