May 12, 2015

LL Custom Class: Shaman


Among the people of the hills are individuals who speak to stones and call the rain to fall.  These are the shamans.  They are respected throughout the clans of the hill people, often advising the elders and even acting as leaders in some communities.  Shamans are spirit-workers; able to interact with the spirit world through dreams and altered states of consciousness.  The Shaman negotiates and trades with spirits in order to produce magical effects.

The world is full of spirits.  Plants, animals, inanimate objects, phenomena, and even ideals can have spirits.  These spirits will have various levels of magical power, but they are difficult to bargain with.  In addition to all of the spirits already attached to the physical realm there are countless others locked out in the spirit world waiting for their chance to come in and play.  These disembodied spirits are much easier to barter with.  The shaman can offer them access and influence within the physical realm, and in exchange they might perform magic on the shaman's behalf.

When a child is is proven to have the calling, their family secrets them away and gives them over to a shaman from another clan in order to learn the art.  The family holds a funeral for the child they have lost.  The child must give up their old identity and take a new alias.  They must constantly wear a mask or costume so that they do not risk their soul as they haggle with spirits for the magic that will help the clans to prosper.  A shaman whose true identity remains secret at their time of death does not run the risk of spirits coming to settle an old grudge or to collect a debt by laying claim on the shaman's soul.

It is the job of a shaman to fix problems, and in exchange they often receive free food and lodging anywhere in the hills.  Still, a traveling shaman should expect some suspicion among the Hills Peoples.  It is easy enough to make a mask and costume, and sometimes thieves and con-men will don a mask in order to evade capture and mooch off of the hospitality of strangers.  Until their reputation precedes them a shaman should not expect too much of strangers other than that they keep a respectful distance.  People who have witnessed the power of the shaman's spirits first hand are much more likely to be friendly and accommodating.  Those who are revealed to be a false shaman trying to take advantage of people's generosity can expect whole communities to turn upon them with violent anger.  Except during the holiday of All Shamans Eve in the fall, this matter of masks and costumes is very serious business indeed.



Shaman
Requirements: Must wear mask/costume at all times
***Costumes always count as Hide Armor, so please feel free to make them as awesome or ridiculous as you like***
Prime Requisite: Charisma
Hit Dice: d6
Hit Progression: as Cleric/Thief
Saving Throws: as Cleric
Weapons: Any non-metal
Armor: Padded, Leather, Hide, and Shield


Special Abilities
Enter the Spirit World (through meditation or dreams)
Spirit Slots (one numbered slot each level)
Bind a Spirit (bound spirits occupy spirit slots)
Negotiate for Magical Aid (from a bound spirit)
Create a Fetish (to bind a spirit semi-permanently)



Entering the Spirit World
The spirit world exists outside outside our mortal realms, kept separate by a misty veil which the spirits cannot easily cross.  It is teaming with minor spirits and the small gods who have no power or influence within the realms of the living.  Most of these spirits have never experienced the physical world at all, but some are here because they were cast out of the mortal realm.

The Shaman can choose to enter the spirit world through sleep or meditation.  It usually takes hours to pierce the veil, but hallucinogens and mystical locations can help to speed the process.  A shaman can sometimes bring others along if they all clasp hands in a circle and stay focused while meditating together.  For most mortals the spirit world has little to offer.  The living hold no sway there, and everything is insubstantial and misty.  Most will return with nothing more than some cryptic, nonsensical advice from the spirits and a few hazy memories.  When asked about the geography of the spirit world the spirits seem confused by their surroundings and allude to ethereal locations that mortals cannot access.  Perhaps the shaman does not actually enter the spirit world at all, but merely creates their own mental representation which the spirits can enter temporarily.  Regardless of it's true nature, this is the place from which the shamans draw their power.

*A shaman can visit the spirit world through dreams once each night.
*The shaman may visit a second time by spending most of the day in meditation.
*On each visit the shaman will find a spirit willing to be bound for a time.



~The Wheel of Time~
There are eight different factions of spirits, divided according to their essence.  Individual spirits may have leanings toward more than one, but they always have one central essence that defines which family of spirits they belong to.  Those with the same essence are more friendly to each other and more confrontational with their opposed rivals.  Each spirit faction is directly opposed to one other faction, but none of them are in all out war.  They are in some sort of complex competition.  They are usually looking for opportunities to gain the upper hand, but it is not unknown for spirits to occasionally work together across faction lines.  The spirits will not discuss the details of these power struggles and the shaman is often left to wonder about the hows and whys of their interactions and motivations.  Over the course of their career the shaman will see the spirits maneuver against each other, glimpses of some strange game being played out; but the rules will never be fully explained.


The most well known point of contention between the factions is that each family of spirits celebrates the new year on a different day.  Most shamans do not wish to play favorites, so for generations now the clans of the hill peoples have been celebrating eight different New Years Days each year.  The festivals are mostly evenly spaced throughout the year, so this creates a steady calendar that the clans call the Wheel of Time.  Depictions of the wheel vary, usually people will place at the top whichever faction they are currently trying to curry favor with, but it is important to keep all in the same relative positions (though clockwise and counter-clockwise are both acceptable) so that the feast days progress in the correct order and the rival factions remain opposite each other.

(Listing them in a column like this one below is frowned upon, but sometimes necessary. Circles and especially turning wheels are preferred)

Essence --------- Virtue ------------- New Year

Beast ------------ Honor ----------- First Stirrings
Air --------------- Beauty ---------- Fertility Festival (Spring Equinox)
Fate ------------ Reverence -------- Rites of Fortune
Fire -------------- Power ----------- Burning Man (Summer Solstice)
Root ------------ Humility --------- Slaughter Harvest
Earth ----------- Strength --------- Darkening Dance (Autumnal Equinox)
Nether ----------- Mirth ----------- Lifting of the Veil (All Shamans Eve)
Water --------- Compassion ------ Drowning Woman (Winter Solstice)

(Yes, some communities in the hills set a man on fire each summer and drown a woman each winter; and yeah, sometimes the Slaughter Harvest involves human sacrifices but those are mostly voluntary)



Spirit Slots
Shamans get one new, numbered Spirit Slot each level.  For example, a level 5 Shaman would have five spirit slots numbered 1,2,3,4, and 5.  The magic of spirits is variable; factors like damage, duration, and number of targets are determined based on the amount of power they are given access to.  These work similar to spells; spirits are bound to the shaman (occupying a spirit slot), then once the spirit produces a magical effect it goes back to the spirit world (emptying the spirit slot).  There are a few differences though. 

*You don't just cast the magic, you have to ask for it.  Spirits are fickle. (Reaction roll, as below).
*The magical effect's "caster level" is based on the slot number, not Shaman level.
*Enraged spirits might try to slip loose of the binding or take control of the shaman's body for a time.



Binding a Spirit
With each visit to the spirit world the shaman will find a spirit willing to produce a magical effect for the shaman at a later time.  In exchange the spirit wants to take an excursion into the physical realm, hitching along within the shaman's body to experience smells, tastes, feelings, ect.  Once a willing spirit is found the shaman will be able to determine it's essence/faction and major ability (1d8 twice on the chart below).  The shaman will know these things before accepting the offer.

The shaman isn't obligated to accept these offers and can always choose to decline.  Each visit to the spirit world presents a new spirit and prompts new random rolls.  If both spirit and shaman are in agreement, the shaman performs a short ritual to bind the spirit and brings it into the physical realm using the shaman's own body as the vessel.  The bound spirit will occupy a numbered spirit slot of the shaman's choice.



Essence Factions and the Major Powers of Spirits
All of these Major Powers have variable effects, such that the duration and power of the magic is based upon the level of the spirit slot it occupies.  Most of these are modified versions of other spells.  I tried to keep track of where I originally found the spells that these powers are based upon.  I might put full descriptions on my blog at some point, but I feel weird about that since this is mostly stolen material with a few minor tweaks.

1.  Beast - The Souls of Flesh
----------  1.  Awaken the Beast Within (WW - Bloodlust)
----------  2.  Beast Speech (LL - Speak to Animals)
----------  3.  Egg of the Unborn (TT - Impregnate+Transfer Pregnancy+Life Cycle)
----------  4.  Hide of the Beast (TT - Skin Transformation)
----------  5.  Obsecration (WW)
----------  6.  Prototeanem Transformation (WW - Totem)+(SotEG - Protean Transformation)
----------  7.  Serpent's Kiss (WW)
----------  8.  Summon Swarm (SotEG)

2.  Air - Spirits of the Wind
----------  1.  Aery Porters (WW)
----------  2.  Breathe Easy (TT - Lasting Breath)+(Protection from Acid/Gas)
----------  3.  Disintegrate (LL)
----------  4.  Miasma (WW)
----------  5.  Stormspeech (WW)
----------  6.  Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
----------  7.  Trapped Lightning (WW)
----------  8.  Wind Barrier (WW)

3.  Fate - The Paragons of Prosody 
----------  1.  Astral Projection (WW)
----------  2.  Bewitch (WW)
----------  3.  Comprehension (WW)
----------  4.  Ethereal Boundary (WW)
----------  5.  Fascinating Gaze (WW)
----------  6.  Hekaphage (WW)
----------  7.  Scrying (??- Effect similar to a Crystal Ball)
----------  8.  Second Sight (WW)

4.  Fire - Spirits of the Flame
----------  1.  Burninate (TT- incinerate/uncinerate) + (LL - Flame Strike)
----------  2.  Gleam (WW)
----------  3.  Haste (LL)
----------  4.  Heat (TT - Heat Metal, but works on anything)
----------  5.  Inner Fire (Protection from Ice/Cold)
----------  6.  Pyrokinesis (WW)
----------  7.  Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
----------  8.  Wall of Fire (LL)

5.  Root - The Sentinels of Sprout
----------  1.  Animate Totem (SotEG)
----------  2.  Attune
----------  3.  Melding of the Plantform Hulk
----------  4.  Rouse the Sap (LL - Entangle + Animate Objects)
----------  5.  Revisitation (WW)
----------  6.  Revitalize (LL - Restoration)
----------  7.  Speak to Plants (LL)
----------  8.  Vege-Gate (WW - Living Gate)

6.  Earth - Spirits of the Stone
----------  1.  Earthquake (LL)
----------  2.  Grounding (Protection from Lightning/Radiation)
----------  3.  Open the Subterranean Gullets (WW)
----------  4.  Slow (LL)
----------  5.  Stone Shape (2e?)
----------  6.  Stone Tell (LL)
----------  7.  Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
----------  8.  Vitalize/Petrify (WW) + (LL - Flesh to Stone)

7.  Nether - The Shades of Discord
----------  1.  Cure/Cause Disease/Disability (SotEG)
----------  2.  Guardian Spirits (TT)
----------  3.  Lay/Remove Curse/Hex (SotEG)
----------  4.  Necrosis/Regeneration (TT)
----------  5.  Occult Consultation (WW)
----------  6.  Reincarnation (LL)
----------  7.  Shroud (WW)
----------  8.  Spirit's Lullaby (LL - Sleep) + (Turn Undead)

8.  Water - Spirits of the Flow
----------  1.  Chill (TT - Heat Metal reversed but works on anything)
----------  2.  Cryonate (TT - incinerate/uncinerate reversed) + (LL - Flame Strike reversed)
----------  3.  Heart of Ice (Protection from Fire/Heat)
----------  4.  Icestorm (TT)
----------  5.  Ice Walk (LL - Water Walking, but it's frozen)
----------  6.  Seduce Water (WW)
----------  7.  Summon/Banish Elemental (TT - various elemental kin summoning spells)
----------  8.  Wall of Ice (LL)


LL = Labyrinth Lord
SotEG = Servants of the Elder Gods- Spell List
TT = Theorems and Thaumaturgy
WW =  Wonder and Wickedness (this is what convinced me to give spirit magic variable effects)



Negotiating with the Spirits:  Favor and Disdain
Spirits are not pets who perform tricks on command.  Spirits are fickle; easily distracted by the many wonders of the physical realm, and often taunted by the free spirits all around them.  While they are grateful to the shaman for bringing them into the physical realm, they will always resent being kept bound and expected to obey the whims of the shaman.  More than anything, bound spirits desire to be set loose into the world.

On the shaman's character sheet they will need to keep track of both the Favor and Disdain that they earn with each of the eight spirit factions.  Word gets around quickly in the spirit world, and dealings with one spirit will have repercussions within the entire faction.  Oddly, angering a spirit by destroying it's physical form or thwarting it's designs is considered "all part of the game" and has no repercussions among the faction as a whole.  However, broken promises, minor slights, and even imagined insults can have broad consequences.

When a reaction roll shows that a spirit is uncooperative the shaman can spend Favor (call in a debt) to improve the reaction.  Once the spirit actually performs the service or casts the spell, then Favor also drops by one.  The shaman's Favor can dip into the negatives from time to time.  The shaman has until sunrise to balance their debt by performing a Ritual, Sacrifice, or Service (see below).  At sunrise any negative Favor moves over to become Disdain.  Disdain acts as a negative modifier to every reaction roll with spirits of that faction.  Spirits can be easily offended, and the wise shaman will choose their actions (and watch their friend's actions) carefully.  Disdain is easy to gain, but harder to loose.  The Shaman can usually spend 3 points of Favor to remove 1 point of Disdain.

Whenever the shaman asks a bound spirit to preform magic, roll 2d6 and consult the chart below.  Add any Charisma modifiers, and subtract any current Disdain.

ResultDispositionResponseEffect
12 or moreThrilled"With Pleasure"
(No change)
Impressive Magic
9 - 11Compliant"Yes"
(-1 Favor)
Expected Magic
6-8Uninterested"Maybe"
(-1 Favor)
Wants hp = to the slot #

3 - 5
Defiant"No"
(+1 Disdain)
Annoy Shaman
2 or lessEnraged"F*** You!"
(No change)
Escape Attempt

  • Impressive Magic -It REALLY works!  Add 1 to the slot #'s power.  Also, no loss of Favor.
  • Expected Magic - It works!
  • Wants hp = slot # - The spirit will provide the magic if the shaman powers it with hit points
  • Annoy Shaman - The spirit is offended for some reason and will show displeasure by using it's magic in a way the shaman did not intend.  Perhaps targeting the shaman rather than an enemy.  Usually these displays are not life-threatening so much as just embarrassing.  The spirit will tell it's brethren about the offense, and the Disdain will be a more lasting problem.
  • Escape Attempt - The spirit breaks it's promise and tries to escape into the physical world, or take control of the shaman's body.  A struggle of wills takes place, the shaman makes an Intelligence and Wisdom check.  2 successes = the spirit remains bound, 2 failures = the spirit escapes into the physical world, Ties = the struggle continues for another round, and a 1-in-6 chance per tie that the spirit takes control of the shaman's body for d6 hours.  During this time spirits will generally try to perform rituals, gather power, and enjoy sensations.  At the end of this time another struggle of wills takes place with more Int and Wis checks.


Rituals, Sacrifices, and Services
These are the three main ways that a shaman will gain Favor with a spirit faction.  I found this concept on another blog (gloomtrain: Warlock 3.0) and it suits my purposes here perfectly.  Ideally I'll be making extensive charts for each of the eight spirit factions.  Unfortunately, I'm far too lazy at the moment.  For now I'll just quote the bit from gloomtrain that pertains to the patron Queen Mab and pretend like it might also pertain to the wants and desires of Beast spirits (It won't pertain, I'll have to make a bunch of different charts at some point.  For now just go with it). 

When a shaman wishes to, they may ask a spirit what must be done to gain their Favor.  Roll once on the Rituals/Sacrifices/and Services charts to see which three things the spirit suggests.  The DM can choose to award Favor for other actions as well (much like disdain).

////From Gloomtrain/////
Rituals
When a warlock offers to perform a Ritual in negotiation, roll on the following table to determine which the signatory wants.
Performing a ritual takes 1 Turn and requires chalk and incense.

  1. Perform a ritual over the body of a recently slain foe, claiming their soul for the signatory.
  2. Perform a ritual to summon an agent of the signatory into the area.
  3. Perform a ritual to banish a rival's influence from the area.
  4. Perform a ritual to attune the area to the signatory's sphere.
  5. Perform a ritual to erase all evidence of the signatory's meddling.
  6. Capture someone nearby and compel or convince them to swear a binding oath, making them an agent of the signatory.

Sacrifices
When a warlock offers to perform a Sacrifice in negotiation, roll on the following table to determine which the signatory wants.
Sacrifices take 1 Round. Sacrificing a live, healthy goat (1 Turn) takes the place of any Sacrifice.

  1. Blood: d6+level damage
  2. Flesh: d4 Strength damage
  3. Grace: d4 Dexterity damage
  4. Judgment: d4 Wisdom damage
  5. Nous: d4 Charisma damage
  6. Time: incapacitated for d6 Turns
  7. Vigor: d4 Constitution damage
  8. Wit: d4 Intelligence damage

Services
Queen Mab's services usually involve some of the following:
Objects
  1. Explosives
  2. Poison
  3. Regalia
  4. An exquisite meal
  5. A curse
  6. An ancient and enchanted weapon
  7. A treaty from times primeval
  8. A parasol
  9. A gown
  10. A rose

People
  1. A spy
  2. A knight
  3. A child
  4. A cook
  5. A maid
  6. A shepherd
  7. A lord or lady
  8. An ambassador
  9. A magician
  10. The King of Roses Red

Incidents
  1. Sabotage
  2. Assassination
  3. Marriage
  4. Sowing the earth with salt
  5. Framing someone for a crime
  6. Transformation
  7. Defenestration
  8. Decapitation
  9. Burial
  10. A feast

Locations
  1. A busy kitchen
  2. A terrible prison
  3. A haunted barrow
  4. A decaying castle
  5. A splendid ballroom
  6. The cold and empty moor
  7. The Kingdom of Faerie
  8. A moonlit glade
  9. A backwater village
  10. A haberdashery

Dispositions
  1. A hated rival
  2. A friend betrayed
  3. A wrathful widow(er)
  4. A murderous parent
  5. An erstwhile ally
  6. An aging guardian
  7. A fading beauty
  8. A vengeful victim
  9. An old friend
  10. A loyal servant
                  ////End Gloomtrain/////
----------------




Creating a Spirit Fetish
Some spirits will agree to remain bound inside a fetish until the shaman's death, after that time it is free to wander the physical realm.  Once the shaman and spirit are agreed, the shaman must prepare a fetish for the spirit to reside within.

On the character sheet, write down the spirit's name, essence, and spirit slot level, as well as the form/appearance of the fetish created.

*****Creation of the fetish costs 100gp per (Spirit Slot # - 1) or more, and once finished it will have a resale value of half or less (at least half of the cost is for incense, candles, herbs, ect. that are consumed during the preparation rituals).  The fetish can be anything, but it's appearance and preparation rituals should be tailored to attune to that spirit's particular essence.  Most commonly a small pouch holding tokens and trinkets that are appealing to the spirit.  Giving spirits more and more spirit slot power will require the fetish to be upgraded more and more as well.

Once the spirit occupies the fetish, it also occupies these spirit slots for as long as the shaman wishes to keep it bound.  The spirit can help guide the shaman through the spirit world in order to find other spirits of the same faction.  In the physical world, the spirit guide can act as an intermediary with other spirits, sometimes able to negotiate and trade the shaman's services in exchange for other magical effects.  If a spirit is given multiple spirit slots, it may manifest additional powers.  These will not be Major Spirit Powers as listed above, but might be comparable to M/U or Clerical spells equal to half or less of the Spirit Slot #.  The shaman can ask for specific powers when the spirit slot is given, but the DM decides which power is actually gained.  The shaman can choose to take back the Spirit Slot afterward, but the spirit will likely be upset for a while.

Nether Spirit's Fetish Doll


Spirit Names
Once a spirit goes into a fetish, the DM will need to think about how this individual spirit fits into the hierarchy of it's faction.  Until it occupies a fetish it is basically just a one-use spell that the shaman has to convince to cast itself.  Once the shaman decides to make the spirit a semi-permanent ally by binding it into a fetish then that spirit will need a name, some personality quirks, a narrow portfolio of influence, an ethos... the characteristic spirit of the spirit.  It will be like a deity write up for a really minor god.  This will help to determine what minor powers the spirit might access should the shaman decide to grant it access to multiple spirit slots.

I'd like to make each spirit really unique all on my own, but sometimes I get stuck and it's good to have some other outside sources to draw from.  For inspiration regarding the hierarchies of the spirit factions I'm going to lean pretty heavily on the pantheons listed in the Miscellaneum of Cinder because it's totally awesome and it's totally free.

Root (neutral) -
Air (neutral) -
Fate (lawful) - based upon "A Dozen Saints" + poorly disguised names of game designers
Fire (neutral) -
Beast (neutral) -
Earth (neutral) -
Nether (chaotic) - based upon "The loathsome Toad Gods" + The Alphabet of the Damned.
Water (neutral) -

Most of those blank spaces will be based on "The Twelve Gods of Neutrality" a.k.a The Seventeen Unknown Gods a.k.a. The Twelve and the Four and the Thousand.  Since I've already gone this far I might as well go ahead and pillage the rest of Jeff's Gameblog for more spirit/deities... like these ... and here ... and yoink! ... and also why not?  Thanks Jeff!  Now I just have to sort these a bit, all the judge types could go to Fate or Beast, sentient colors seem like Fire spirits to me, and I'll have to sort through the rest of them later.

Oh! I should also delve into David Young's excellent work Phonomicon Ex Cultis for even more ideas.

I'll use whatever other pantheon and deity list my eyes fall upon as needed.

----------------------------------------------------------

Releasing a Spirit

The shaman can choose to release a spirit from it's fetish at any time.  The spirit might be grateful enough to manifest physically and help the shaman immediately in their time of need.  Otherwise the spirit might be a real dick and say "Thanks Yo!" and run off to enjoy the physical world while the shaman dies a horrible death.  Either way, the spirit is free to roam the physical world.

Free spirits can physically manifest during which it's attacks count as magical and it can be damaged by normal means.  While manifest the spirit can see and hit incorporeal, ethereal, and phase shifting enemies.  The power of this manifestation is always based upon the highest level Spirit Slot that it had access to when it was released.

Spirit Manifestation Stats
Spirit Slot Level----Hp-------AC-----Damage----THAC0
------1--------------1d4+1 --------9---------1d4----------19
------2--------------2d4+2 -------8---------1d4----------19
------3--------------3d4+3 -------7---------1d4----------19
------4--------------4d4+4 -------6---------1d6----------18
------5--------------5d4+5 -------5---------1d6----------18
------6--------------6d4+6 -------4---------1d6----------17
------7--------------7d4+7 -------3---------1d8----------17
------8--------------8d4+8 -------2---------1d8----------17
------9--------------9d4+9 -------1---------1d8----------16
-----10+----------10d4+10 ------1---------1d10-----As Shaman



So now I need to make an XP chart with my Customized Class Doohickey.  This is surprisingly difficult.  This Shaman spirit magic is not really like M/U spells or Clerical Spells, but let's try to simplify the process by putting it into those types of terms.  Shamans don't give a 10% tithe, and they can't copy spells like Spellbook users, so they should use the Standard XP chart I think.  I'm pretty sure they have access to the M/U spell effects starting at level 1 (+70%) and that can go up to 9th level M/U spell effects eventually (+180%), so that's a +250 total for spirit magic effects right?  They get fewer spells (spirit slots) than Magic Users, but they can reuse those assuming that they pay a (not huge) amount of gp to create Fetishes, and they have to make Reaction Rolls.  Let's just assume that the (fewer slots + gp spent - reusable magic) all evens out to zero.  Also, if you release a spirit it can manifest for you, but after that you and the rest of the world have to deal with this spirit being set loose on the world, so that evens out to zero too, right?  Sure.  So, shaman magic costs 250 just like M/U magic, but they can't scribe scrolls or learn new spells from each other and if I want to (as the DM) I can have spirits run amok and do crazy stuff, so it all works out... right?  Sure.  +250 it is.

Shaman
100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
30   Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
25   Cleric saves

20   Armor: Padded, Leather, Hide, Wooden Shield
50   Weapons: No metal weapons (no pole arms, long or short swords, most choppers, ect.)

30   Magic: no wands, no spell scrolls 


250 Shaman Spirit Magic
-----------------------------------------
575 - Total

Standard Base Experience X Shaman Class 575%


Base XP--------------Shaman XP
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
400 --------Level 2 -------  2300
800 --------Level 3 -------  4600
1600 ------ Level 4 -------  9200
3200 ------ Level 5 -----  18400
6400 ------ Level 6 -----  36800
12800 -----Level 7 -----  73600
24000 -----Level 8 ----- 138000
48000 -----Level 9 ----  276000
________ Level 10+ ________
1hp/Level = +100,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 1,376,000         









Sources of inspiration:
Mostly it started with all these pictures, but then also...

Servants of the Elder Gods- Spell List
Shamans of Pavelorn
The Miscellaneum of Cinder
Theorems and Thaumaturgy
Warlock 3.0
Wonder and Wickedness
and a ton of other ideas shared by wonderful people on RPG blogs and Google+, Thanks! :)


Ancients & Aliens: The Dragonslayers - Session 16

This week we flipped back to the group of PCs in Niru (The Dragonslayers).  They have been acting as diplomats lately, trying to ease the tensions between Niru and the town of Urum.  A sticking point in those negotiations was that the magi in Niru and Sippar were threatening to attack Urum unless the magi's Tablet of Fate was returned, but Duhngemezh believed that the only thing keeping Urum safe was his threat to destroy this Tablet of Fate if Urum was attacked.  It's been something of a problem.

This session the PCs return to continue the talks in Urum with a wagon full of food in tow.  There is something of a breakthrough this time.  Duhngemezh has learned of an entrance to an underground Dwarven vault.  It is located at the ruined dwarf fort, which is near both Niru and Urum (hex 13.07).  Somewhere inside is a magical black cauldron, and Duhngemezh says that he will trade his Tablet of Fate for the cauldron if the PCs can bring it to him.

When the PCs ask how Duhngemezh learned of this he explains that the elf named Justice told him about it.  Justice and the orcs at the Caves of Chaos had been investigating the place and trying to come to some arrangement with the undying goblin who lives down there.  The dwarvish vault is dangerous though, designed to be something of a deathtrap.  Now that the troops from Sippar are patrolling the lands around Niru and Urum the elves and orcs will no longer risk delving there.

The elves and orcs were able to parley with the goblin down there, at least for a little while.  The goblin says that his name is Yaabdilum the Deathless and claims to be thousands of years old.  He says that he was the apprentice of the elvish wizard Xylarthen.  When Xylarthen grew suspicious of the Anunnaki, he sent Yaabdilum to guard his cauldron and keep it hidden deep within the dwarvish vault until he could smooth things over with the Anunnaki.  Apparently that didn't go so well.  The Anunnaki blew up Xylarthen's tower (hex 14.12), and that was the beginning of the Great Purge when the Anunnaki tried to exterminate all the elves, dwarves, and halflings on the planet.

So anyway... Duhngemezh could send teams of his mutants into the vault, but he thinks that the Dragonslayers would have a much better chance of success.  He does line up about 15 mutants who are eager to help, and lets the PCs interview them.  The PC's pick out two mutants to take with them down into the vault.  Here's the lineup.

The new mutants
Kabatot - Human Mutant Fighter level 2
(4 mutations)
1. Invisible meat (he looks like a walking, talking skeleton)
2. Shocking Touch at will (d6 damage + save vs. stun)
3. Can become 2-Dimensional (slide under doors, but slashing and piercing damage auto-crit)
4. Telekinesis (Str 9)

Lagykwi - Human Mutant Magi level 1
he memorized Floating Disk to help move the cauldron
(2 mutations)
1. Immune to Poison and Disease
2. Fire Blast  - 60' range, 10' diameter burst, 1d6 damage + burn (save vs dragon breath for half)
--------
The PCs
Sura the Orionixie
Ony the Human Mutant Jedite
Gorp the Halflingon
Zheel the Halflingon

When they travel to the ruined dwarf fort they bring along a wagon pulled by donkeys and a few extra mutant guards.  These all wait outside while the six brave adventurers head into the remains of the old keep, which is the only structure still partially standing.  They go through a secret trapdoor into an old looted wine cellar, then through another secret door, down a hallway and end up at a tall ring of stones carved with magical runes.  They touch the top, bottom, then the rightmost rune and the magical portal activates.  The six adventurers head through the glowing portal that looks like something out of Stargate.

The vault is basically a death trap.  The doors are metal plates controlled by levers.  Once a lever is pulled the metal doors spring open by splitting apart in the middle like some great beast with sharp metallic teeth opening it's jaws .  Some of these doors snap shut whenever something begins to pass through.  The PCs get a running start to jump through these trapped doors one at a time, then pull the lever again to open the doors for the next person.  Sometimes there is a pit on the other side of the chomping door.  Sometimes that pit is hidden by an illusionary floor.

The PCs managed to avoid both the chomping doors and the illusion covered pit in the first room.  The ceiling here is covered in magical circles and runes that seem to be metallic silver inset into the stones.  It seems to be an elaborate anti-necromancy ward.  There is also some graffiti on the west wall here showing a partial dungeon map.  On that map, this first room is labeled "only safe room".  One of the hench-mutants asks aloud "Is anyone else worried that this 'only safe room' has multiple traps?".

They move on through a few more rooms.  Some of the metal doors seem perfectly safe, they do not slam shut when someone crosses through them.  This troubles Ony, he is wary of everything now.  The next room has 13 small piles of balanced stones, each stone is stacked one on top of another.  Another room has a huge detailed mural painted onto the ceiling of a goblin ascending into the heavens.  They open a secret passage.  A third room is full of various pottery and ceramics, many are shattered into shards but some remain whole.  The party finds a few that are beautifully glazed and takes those as loot.

The forth room has interesting architecture, archways form alcoves all over the room and all meet at the center point in the vaulted ceiling.  In the middle of this room is an active fountain, a 4 foot stone column topped with a wide stone bowl, a stone fish in the middle spitting water up into the air.  As the PCs investigate all of this, Sura suddenly looks up to see that something is also investigating all of them.  A ball of eyes is floating just outside the doorway that they left open when they entered the room.



It seems to focus on them one at a time, then slowly hovers back down the hallway.  Lagykwi blasts it with fire, a couple of burnt eyeballs pop off and it zooms around the corner.  Sura and Gorp give chase.  They see it zooming down a long hallway and Sura uses her Magic Missile ability and her once per session d30 roll to make the thing explode in a burst of arcane power.

Everyone seems to be on edge now.

They hurry down a different hallway, turn North at a T intersection and find a stairway going down.  After 30' of stairs there is a 10'x10' landing with a pressure door, a circular hatch with a locking wheel in the center.  It opens onto a hallway.  They pass a connecting hallway and continue forward to a second hatch.  Opening this they see a huge chamber beyond, but their light doesn't reach far enough to see any walls or anything inside.

There is a noise behind them.

At first all that they see is a corpse floating upside down, entering from that connecting hallway that they had just passed.  It begins to turn toward them and they see that there is something growing out of it's back.  The rib cage of the corpse splits open and they see that it is the jaws of some huge beast, exposed splintered ribs acting as teeth.  As it turns the corner they see that it is a huge mutant monster made up of many different bodies.

by Johannes Holm


The party rushes through the open hatch and into the unknown room.  Zheel the Halflingon pauses long enough to throw a bottle of Firewater at the beast.  Another d30 is used for the damage, and the firewater bottle erupts mightily.  The beast howls in pain and snaps at Zheel, but he makes it through the hatch.  The PCs are able to push the hatch closed and turn the wheel to lock.  They pause for a moment and listen, but the beast doesn't seem to be trying to get through the hatch.

This room is a 150'x150' chamber, and the walls are covered in unspeakable pornography.  The level of detail and artistry is quite good, but that only adds to the discomfort of the viewer.  There are pictures of elfmaids and ogresses, and a whole host of goblin females doing awful, degrading things.  A great variety of uncomfortable scenes are depicted, but the one with the centaurs and mermaids seems especially horrible.  This is about the time that the group noticed a formless fleshy blob undulating across the floor toward one of the mutants.  It gets blasted with fire and starts backing away quickly.  It tries to stay away from the PCs, but Sura is intent on finishing it off.  It doesn't really have anywhere to hide, and Sura keeps shooting it with arrows until it stops moving.  No one really speculates about why the fleshy blob is in the pornography room, and maybe that is for the best.

Blob 3 by Jeanne Dunning


They find another circular hatch on the far side of the room.  Another long hallway.  They pass by a stairway going up, and head over to yet another hatch, but this one is already open.  This next chamber is also quite large.  There are clay bowls on the floor in here holding various colors of paint.  On the ceiling here is a work in progress.  It looks like it is going to be of a dragon in flight while breathing fire.  On the opposite wall they find yet another hatch.  As Zheel reaches out to open it, the wheel begins to turn on it's own.  The PCs get ready for a fight.

The hatch opens and these short, obese, toad-like men rush into the room wielding axes and shields.  There are 5 of them, and they put up a good fight.  The PCs damage all of them, but none of the short men ever make a sound.  Some of the blows fail to pierce their blubbery hide.  Two of the fat men hold the doorway while the other three retreat.  Shields are splintered.  These two get cut down after a couple of rounds, but their friends have escaped.  The PCs shut the hatch and begin to examine these odd men.

...and that's the end of the session.

by Webang111






May 3, 2015

Ancients & Aliens: People of the Hills - Session 2

Extra Bonus Game Session: this Thursday 5-7-15, Armored Gopher 6:30pm
Then another one on the 14th and the 28th.


Just trying to get the word out since I don't have current contact info for one of my players.  Walk-in's are welcome too, so if you're in Urbana IL on Thursday go ahead stop by for a game.


Right, so session 2.  I ran the adventure "A Stranger Storm" from the LotFP Referee book, but altered a bit to fit my setting.  Now, I don't want to give too many details and ruin it for those who might play the adventure someday, so I'm leaving out the spoilers and keeping this one brief.  I'll just say that it involves people showing up even though they are already there, then confusion ensues.





I really wish I had spent more time prepping (tweaking) this adventure.  The adventure is set up as a kind of puzzle, but no real solution is presented in the adventure as written.  It seems that the PCs are meant to just choose randomly and hope for the best.  I should read through the adventure again, maybe I missed something.  It was a fun and interesting adventure, but by the end I worry that there was not so much a sense of accomplishment as just plain frustration.  This adventure did not seem to "awesome up" my players.

Even if it's not in the text I could have come up with some other gimmick, a tell, or a clue.  Maybe these problems are all in my head, the players did seem to enjoy themselves.  On my end though, this adventure made me feel less like an impartial referee and more like an active adversary.  That may not be a bad thing, but I will say that for me personally it did not enhance my fun.  I just wish that I had thought more about how the adventure would play out from the perspective of the PCs and maybe changed a few things.


I don't mean to say that it is a "bad" adventure, but maybe just not my style.  There was a nice little bloodbath though when people got all evil and murderous toward their copies all at once.  That was fun.



Near the end of the adventure I introduced the idea that there is a hag trapped in the well of a nearby town and maybe she is to blame for all of this.  So, there is a hook for another adventure if they choose to follow up on it.  The hag adventure might prove to be just as problematic for the PCs, but at least the motivations behind the copies should be revealed so that would be one less source of frustration I hope.

Good game everyone, let's try again this week. :)

April 30, 2015

LL Custom Class: The Professional + Skill system

I'm trying out a new skill system now.  It's a variation of the 5MORE system.  Here's how it works.

At character creation everyone gets (3+Int bonus) Skill Slots.  You can put skills in those.  Any skill.  You can make up whatever you want, but the DM has final say on the name of the skill and when it is useful.  You can leave Skill Slots blank if you want and fill them in later with skills that you learn during the game.

Each character gains a new blank Skill Slot each level

During the game you can try to do anything, even if you don't know the skill yet.  Describe what your character is trying to do.  If the DM determines that there is both a chance of success and failure then roll a d6. 6 = success, 1 = abject and utter failure.

If the roll was a natural 5 or 6, then you can learn that skill by writing it into a blank Skill Slot.
If you already know the skill and roll a natural 5 or 6, then roll the d6 again.  If it is a 5 or 6 again, then write down one letter of the word EXPERT next to the skill.  After that you would start writing down letters of MASTER, but the DM might say you need special training or whatever so you better ask first.

+1 If you have the applicable skill
+1 If you are an expert
+1 If you are a master
+/- Whatever situational modifiers the DM decides
+/- Whatever modifiers you convince the DM to apply

Just to make sure this is clear...  If you are attempting something that you are not skilled at and roll a 5, then that is usually not successful.  However, if you have a blank Skill Slot, that same 5 will let you become trained in that skill if you choose to write it into the empty Skill Slot.


That's it.  The End.  The rest is covered by 5MORE.
 ---------------------------------

One of my players decided to play a Professional when we rolled up characters recently.  Basically this is a Thief class, except that with the new skill system in place you can pick any skills you want and whatever job title that strikes your fancy.

The xp chart is going to be a little different because I'm going to let them use shields and they don't have to give 10% of their gold over to a guild.  Also the skills are different obviously.  Professionals won't get the Thief's 9th level scroll use and 4th level chance to know languages, but maybe those are skills now? 

Now I just have to figure out how much Skill Slots cost on my Custom Class Maker Thing.  For now I'm just gonna say that the (3+Int bonus) and (+1 each level) are free.  I don't want to rework every class just to test out the new skill system.  Let's try out these costs for the Professional's bonus skill slots.
10 = Each bonus Skill Slot at level 1
20 = First bonus Skill Slot every level after 1st (cost doubles for each extra bonus Skill Slot)
20 = Spend a blank Skill Slot to complete (EXPERT) or (MASTER) on any known skill


Professional
100 Base
30   Hit Dice: d4
30   Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
0     Bonus +1hp after L9
10   Thief saves
20   Armor: Padded, Leather, Studded, and Shield
90   Weapons: Any
30   Magic: no wands, no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls


Special Abilities
50  +5 Skill Slots at level 1
20  +1 bonus Skill Slot every level after 1st (+2 per level total)
20  Can spend a blank Skill Slot to gain (EXPERT) or (MASTER)



400 - TOTAL

Standard Base Experience X Professional Class 400%
0 ----------- Level 1 ------------ 0
400 -------- Level 2 -------  1600
800 -------- Level 3 -------  3200
1600 ------ Level 4 ------    6400
3200 ------ Level 5 ------  12800
6400 ------ Level 6 ------- 25600
12800 ----- Level 7 -----   51200
24000 ----- Level 8 -----   96000
48000 ----- Level 9 ----- 192000
________ Level 10+ ________
2hp/Level = +120,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 1,512,000

April 25, 2015

LL Custom Class: Minotaur

by Bernardo Pabst

So, apparently there are Minotaurs in my Ancients&Aliens setting.  I had no idea.  One of my players rolled up a character with an ability score of 5.  That opens up the option to choose any sort of animal/humanoid hybrid as a class.  Then I get to make up the class and they get to make up the culture.  Glenn rolled up a 5 Charisma and chose Minotaur, so now here we are.

I haven't really discussed the details with him yet, so I don't know if the Minotaurs are an indigenous race or if they were some Anunnaki genetic experiment gone wrong.  I suppose they might even be the Tieflings of my setting, since it kind of fits with the requirement of Cha 5 or less.  Are minotaurs the result when human ladies get way too friendly with demons?  Maybe no one knows.  Maybe no one wants to know.  I'm fine with leaving things ambiguous for now.  Glenn can make up stuff if he feels like it, or I'll fill in the blanks later if I need to.

I know that his character has horns.  We determined that during the first session when he used a charge/gore attack to kill a bandit.  Also, he has hooves that can totally stomp a dude to death.  There was some discussion about enhanced smell and/or being able to see in darkness to navigate dungeon mazes.  I'm going to drop the smell thing and go with the Darkvision ability instead.  Mainly because I think the darkvision fits better with the "demonic humanoid" angle which is way more interesting to me than the "dude with a cow head" option.

Right, so let's get cracking...

Minotaur
Requirements: Cha 5 or less
Prime Requisite: STR and CON
Hit Dice: d8
Max Level: 10th
Hit Progression: as Fighter
Saving Throws: as Dwarf/Halfling
Weapons: Any
Armor: Any (helmets are an issue)
Magic: No scrolls, no wands, no boots
 

Special Abilities
+1 Strength

Darkvision 60':  It's not heat vision or anything, you just see a simple fuzzy black and white image even in total darkness.  It's good for picking up movement and seeing where the walls and furniture are, but details are a little hard to pick out.

Charge/Gore attack:  Must have 20' or more to target.  Attack with advantage (roll twice take the better), roll d6 dmg for each horn and take the better or both do damage if tied, enemies attack the minotaur with advantage while charging since you aren't making as much of an effort to dodge (but shield bonus still applies), spears and polearms set vs. charge do double damage.

Hoof Stomp: To-Hit roll as normal 1d6 dmg.  If enemy is laying on the ground or very small (i.e. "stompable") then you may stomp in addition to a regular melee attack OR double stomp, either way it's 2 different attack rolls in the same round.  Second attack is always at the bottom of the initiative order, the last attack for that round.




Tim Curry is awesome as Darkness from Legend


So, that's about it for right now.  These guys might be minotaurs straight out of Greek myth, but maybe Glenn will embrace the demonic offspring angle and decide that his character looks just like Darkness.  Maybe he'll opt for something in-between instead. 


by Javier Garcia Ureña

Something like this horrible giant nostriled thing perhaps?



by Phill Simmer


Perhaps he is a member of the noble but savage Tauren clans whose values are terribly misunderstood by outsiders...  only Glenn knows for sure.  Maybe there is room in my game for all of these different types of minotaurs, surely there are multiple tribes at least.


Anyhow, here is the XP chart I made with my Custom Class Thingamajig.

Minotaur
100 Base
120 Hit Dice: d8
70   Hit Progression: Fighter (+2hp after L9)
25   Max Level: 12th
55   Dwarf/Halfling saves
60   Armor: any
90   Weapons: any
30   Magic: no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls, no wands, no boots

Special Abilities
25  +1 Str
15  Darkvision 60'
10  Natural Weaponry - d6 damage (hooves and horns)
10  Charge/Gore - as per LL (20 yards, deal double damage, take double damage from braced attacks)




610 - TOTAL

Standard Base Experience X Minotaur Class 610%
0 -----------Level 1 ----------- 0
400 --------Level 2 -------  2440
800 --------Level 3 -------  4880
1600 ------ Level 4 ------ 9760
3200 ------ Level 5 -----   19520
6400 ------ Level 6 -----   39040
12800 -----Level 7 -----   78080
24000 -----Level 8 ----- 146400
48000 -----Level 9 ----- 292800
_________Level 10+_________
2hp/Level = +120,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 12 @ 652,800 XP