April 23, 2015

Ancients & Aliens: People of the Hills - Session 1

by Dejan Jovanovic

We're starting a new campaign within my Ancients&Aliens setting.  This new group of characters are starting out in the Zagros Mountians area.  They are aligned with the indigenous races (elves, dwarves, halflings) and the people of the hills (humans who escaped into the wilds) who are all mostly at odds with the slave races of the Anunnaki who live in the cities.

We haven't abandoned the old campaign, the plan is to have dueling campaigns.  Both groups of PCs exist in the same setting, but they are starting out belonging to opposed factions.  We'll take a vote each session to decide which group of PCs get played that night.  The two groups may end up stepping on each others toes eventually, but for now each group is doing it's own thing in separate regions and societies.  The two groups are only about a weeks worth of travel apart, so it's entirely possible for the actions of one group to have repercussions for the other.  We'll just have to see how it plays out.

Anyhow, I had the group roll up these new characters last session just to pass the time since we were waiting for the last player who was running late.  After that they all wanted to go ahead and play a session with these new characters.  I should have expected that.  The trouble is that I hadn't actually finished working out all of the rules for these new classes yet... oops.  So, I just sort of winged it all.

They were protecting a ragtag group of local traders as they hiked through the hills toward the bustling city of Suza.  I rolled some random encounters and called it a session.  About half the merchants died when the 30 bandits attacked.  Eventually a horn was sounded, the remaining bandits grabbed a few loose packs of goods and ran off.  The next day the travelers ran into half a dozen white apes who I thought for sure were going to kill some PCs, but everyone did surprisingly well and only the poor halfling NPC guard was killed.  Once the fight started I was rolling reaction rolls each round to determine if the apes were staying focused on their current target or switching to face a new one.  Two of the apes just kept pummeling a poor halfling NPC for 3 rounds even though he died on round 1. 

We had a good time.

Now I need to crank out a first draft of abilities and XP tables for some of these new classes.  Those will be detailed here on the blog soon.

Here is a look at the new PCs (character portraits not yet approved by the players)

Tarog the Minotaur
By Bradley Vancamp
15 Str
8 Int
8 Wis
12 Dex
14 Con
5 Cha

Anybody who rolls an ability score of 5 or less during character creation has the option to play as a human/animal hybrid.  Glenn rolled a 5 Charisma and chose to play a minotaur.  So now I get to make up some minotaur abilities and he gets to make up background info about minotaur culture.

Impromptu 1st session rulings: Minotaur class abilities
(Like a Fighter mostly)
Dwarf/Halfling Saving Throws
Charge/Gore attack
Hoof Stomp
Enhanced Smell?
Max Level.... 12?  10?  something like that

by Mortal Online?
Garzog the Orc Void Monk
14 Str
7 Int
7 Wis
12 Dex
17 Con
11 Cha

John had a few options here.  There are 4 human classes that have no ability score requirements; fighter, professional, prophet, and shaman.  John didn't seem interested in those.  The low Intelligence score gave him the option of playing a Cave Primitive, and the low Wisdom opened up the option of playing an Orc.  Since you are supposed to be able to combine Primitive with any other class John should also have had the option to play an Orc Primitive.  I didn't like the sound of it though.  I hadn't really considered that combination before, but the concept of Orc Primitive felt a bit redundant and flavorless to me.  Luckily I had been reading all about some wonderfully flavorful orcs over on the Goblin Punch blog recently, so I just sort of blurted out "Void Monk" as an option.  I couldn't remember a lot of the details off the top of my head, but as soon as John heard the word "autolobotomy" he was sold.

Impromptu 1st session rulings: Void Monk class abilities
New Void Monk ability each level
1st: Reveal the Void - to-hit roll -2 penalty, in addition to melee damage target must save or lose one sense of Void Monk's choice for d6 rounds.
No Armor
+1 AC bonus per level
+1 To-Hit bonus per level instead of normal hit progression (too much?)
Max Level: 9
Dwarf/Halfling Saves
Black Iron Quarterstaff - d6 dmg and +1 AC bonus, and can be sundered like a shield to prevent a melee hit OR magi spell
Bonus Skill - Extra Attack (On successful melee hit, 2-in-6 chance of a second attack)
I'm using a variant of the 5MORE skill system now that incorporates skill slots based on class, level, and Int bonus.  That's a discussion for another blog post though.

Sadam the Mutant Human Professional
15 Str
8 Int
13 Wis
12 Dex
9 Con
6 Cha

Low charisma (8 or less) is the requirement to begin as a mutant, but that is in addition to any other class.  Charles decided to play a Human Professional which is basically like a Thief except you give yourself a new job title and pick out whichever skills you want.  A forgot to ask what his profession was, but based on the skills Sadam is some sort of scavenger/tinkerer.

He rolled a d6 and got 5 mutations, then we rolled those up on my crazy mutation chart...
26 - Epilepsy (cumulative 5% per session until episode occurs)
46 - Burrower (can quickly dig tunnels through dirt)
47 - Anosmia (no sense of smell)
25 - Translucent 3rd Eye Lid (prevents gaze attacks, glare, and keeps out dirt)
38 - Flexible Bones (can squeeze through bars and tight spaces like Eugene Tooms)

Charles decided that Sadam is always rather smelly and covered in mud or grime since he is a burrower with no sense of smell and a charisma of 6.

I wonder what his mutated digging appendages look like.

"Fred" the Human Shaman
7 Str
13 Int
6 Wis
8 Dex
5 Con
13 Cha

Those scores....

Wheelz had a lot of options here, but I'm not even sure that I mentioned them all because he seemed to want to play a shaman as soon as I mentioned it.  Which is cool!  I hope he enjoys playing as a guy who talks to spirits and has to bargain with them in order to produce magical effects.  It's a neat concept that I've had rattling around in my head for a while, but I've never really decided how all this spirit meddling works mechanically.  Now I have a player sitting next to me asking how his shaman PC's abilities work.

So, I improvised my ass off.  I explained that there are multiple factions of spirits who have different agendas and abilities.  His shaman has a fetish with one spirit bound to it.  I had him roll randomly and his is some kind of animal spirit.  So his spirit can talk to animals and maybe convince them to help out the shaman.

Impromptu 1st session rulings: Shaman class abilities
(if the spirits find out your true identity they can collect on old debts even after you're dead)
Cleric Saving Throws
Cleric Hit Progression
Spirit bound to a fetish
Reaction rolls to negotiate with the bound spirit and ask it for favors
No metal armor, no metal weapons (that stuff freaks out the spirits)
Spellcasting after first level?
Spirits gain levels and grow in power?
Some sort of Debt/Favor system for dealing with the spirits?
I know what I am doing and have all this under control?

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