Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Alchemist Class for Pits & Perils

While most alchemists are pure non-adventurers, the ADVENTURING ALCHEMIST breaks the mold.  These expert apothecaries are a magician variant that often accompanies adventuring parties, aiding their friends with at-the-ready potions...

First, as previously stated, the ALCHEMIST is a magician variant, progressing (hits and spell points) as that class.

Being the adventurous sort, they may wear leather armor, although shields are prohibited (they need both hands to harvest their ingredients) and fight with one-handed weapons.  This includes magic armor and weaponry, where applicable...

Adventuring alchemists are skilled
herbalists who can make a variety of potions from
just about anything!

This variant is subject to the following:

(1) Characters can brew a number of potions per day equal to available spell points, noting here that they cannot otherwise cast spells, although scrolls remain available to them. 

(2) They may brew any potions they know how to make; three at first level and one per level thereafter.

(3) Success is automatic, and the character is assumed to have potions ready at the start of each new game day barring imprisonment or similar conditions that preclude foraging. 

(4) These potions function at the level of the alchemist, where applicable.  Furthermore, all such mixtures are FAR LESS POTENT than the usual sort and ONLY LAST ONE GAME DAY, after which new potions must be prepared, per the above.

(5) At 9th level (wizard), the alchemist may attempt to brew ANY potion, rolling saving dice for success.  Failure does not otherwise expend spell points, however, subject to the referee, etc.

This class is assumed to gather ingredients from the surrounding environment, always stuffing their pockets with whatever they manage to find and using this to brew their concoctions, subject to any additional rules imposed by the referee.  Basically, they can make virtually ANYTHING from just about EVERYTHING...  

The ADVENTURING ALCHEMIST is basically a magician who replaces spells with potions, but cannot stockpile owing to the weak potency of these makeshift concoctions.  A fun variant, and worth a go!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars, Pulp, and Retrospace...

In 1977, I sat in a dark theater watching Star Wars.  It was a religious moment to be sure, as my jaw lay in my lap and I saw what must have seemed like the face of God.  Soon after, I'd go on to discover this little thing called fantasy role-playing, and I moved on to Tolkien and fantasy in the classic mode.  But I never forgot what I saw in that theater, and it inspires me still...       

Star Wars is, after all, a fantasy.  And I won't say that Wookies didn't show up in our early D&D campaign!

Years later, Robyn and I are making games, and Star Wars had an obvious influence on our one sci-fi offering; Retrospace!  For those who don't know, Retrospace is the science fiction expansion to our Blood of Pangea game, and it makes sense.  Space-faring exploits are pulp fantasy of the highest order, and Star Wars has everything in common with the daring-do of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, with more than a little Tolkien thrown in.  Retrospace channels it all:

The ORDIAN race are tall, shaggy things that speak in grunts and roars (their language is called M'waar).

Star Wars passed the pulp baton on
to a whole new generation of fantasy lovers!

Mack Marack, the sample character, closely resembles a certain space-faring rogue.  It's no accident.  Notice that he speaks droid, which counts as a language.

A variety of droids are available and may be encountered.

Psions exist, and many join the PSION ORDER, founded by the great teacher KENUBA of Sirius.  This semi-knightly order teaches responsible use of the OVERMIND (addressed here) and is countered by the wicked SIRIAN CULT.  Both wield special powers.

The Sirian BURN SWORD can easily sever limbs, but you can get robotic replacements, although too many and you'll become a cyborg with special powers and weaknesses.

BoP and Retrospace are digital only - sorry!

Yes, the Star Wars influence is definitely there, although we'd argue that the pulp writers got there first, and Star Wars owes the genre a massive spiritual debt.  We doubt Lucas would argue any of this, and, indeed, he admits to loving pulp - a lot!

Pulp begat Star Wars, and both begat a new generation of fantasy lovers and gamers.  Blood of Pangea: Retrospace stands on the shoulders of giants here, and this isn't corporate shill as much as an admission that Star Wars changed everything!  But if you do decide to check out Pangea/Retrospace, get the bundle, since the game is an expansion and requires the basic rules.  And perhaps wait until you've seen the new movie.  May the force be with you!

PS: There's FREE planetary and spacecraft worksheets available... 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Level Advancement for Non-Adventurers

Clerics? Fighters? Magicians?  Thieves?  They're all adventurers, risking life and limb fighting monsters and winning incredible treasure, right?  Well, a lot of the time, yes.  But not all of them leave home.  In fact, most of them probably don't...

Think about it.  Most clerics are attached to a church or cosmopolitan temple somewhere.  But somehow, they manage to rise in the church hierarchy, with corresponding divine powers as per the referee.  It's hard to imagine the Bishop being 1st level and equally difficult to accept that every one was an adventurer before settling down to lead their flock.

The same could be said for fighters, most of whom serve in a garrison.  Magicians are primarily concerned with their books, which doesn't require adventuring of any kind.  In fact, magic is one profession that specifically requires sitting for hours pouring over strange volumes, making adventuring a hindrance.

Finally, why would any self-respecting thief risk life and limb against terrifying enemies when they can rob fat, and substantially less dangerous, merchants in the safety of their home town?     

So aside from establishing that most adventurers are certifiably nuts, this begs the question: How do non-adventuring types increase in level without risking it all doing so?

This is REAL clerical training...

First, it's probably helpful to know what experiences constitute true practice in the first place.  The following is a guide, keeping in mind that adventurers get this as well, but faster:

CLERICS study the scriptures and build their faith.

FIGHTERS practice by sparring with each other or against dummies, noting that exercise also plays a part.

MAGICIANS read (and study) arcane books and scrolls, casting spells and sometimes just exposing themselves to magic.

THIEVES case joints, follow marks, and steal from others.

Obviously, adventurers practice all of the above in life-or-death circumstances, so advancement is accelerated.  But for those remaining at home, level progression still happens, only slower, being subject to the following rules:

1) Daily practice nets 1d6 EXP per month (P&P) or 1d6 x 10 using more traditional systems, provided the individual is actively engaged most days as per the referee.  This works out to 12-72 per year in Pits & Perils, 120-720 in other systems.   

2) Any money earned from professional activities likewise counts towards experience earned, as per the referee's game.

Not very sexy.  But this is what
medieval combat training sometimes looked like...

3) Finally, enemies slain also count, provided these are killed through professional means.  For example, guards and the like protecting their town from invaders.  Sometimes, the local magician helps out, and, of course, thieves often botch things and have to kill (who hasn't learned from their mistakes)...

Of course, lulls in activity, periods of extended peace, and the ever-increasing EXP requirements ensure that most should never surpass 3-5th level, although some will have had prior adventuring experience, and the sky's the limit here.  

Clearly, adventurers get it faster.  When you regularly have to fight for your life and cast your full range of spells in the pursuit of survival, you get lots of practice.  You also get lots of chances to screw up and learn.  Obviously, money flows as well, making adventuring an attractive choice for the brave...

Of course, referees can adjust this to account for whatever their campaigns call for.  The point is that non-adventurers can also advance, albeit much more slowly.  We make much of those who brave the wilds, but shouldn't forget those left behind! 

The above explains how the qualified captain of the guard became such a good fighter and earned promotion without ever actually leaving home.  But it also helps the referee assign levels to their non-players characters and, possibly, having recurring characters advance over time.  Time and skill marches on, after all...