Monday, September 19, 2016

Kicking off a new campaign

Agreeing What to Play

Starting a new campaign, creating characters, establishing the setting and getting the players engaged can be one of the more challenging aspects of running a game.

Having already thought about what kinds of games I want to run, the first thing I recommend is to talk to your players about what king of game they want to play. That helps me to narrow down settings, game systems and adventures I'm planning to run.

After reconciling the preferences of the players and GM, and settling on a game system and theme, I make my pitch to the players. Only after the players express strong interest in the game and setting do we schedule character creation.

Character Creation

During character creation I give a fuller description of the setting and the characters' places in it. I guide the players through making characters who will work well within the setting, and within the party. Players new to the game system will benefit greatly from the advice of those more familiar with the rules as to how to build appropriate and effective characters.

The First Session

For the first game session I like to run an events-driven scenario. In an events-driven scenario an external event will occur on its own time-line. The consequences of this event will affect the PCs, but how they react to it is entirely up to them. The consequences of the PCs' actions (or inaction) are what drives the game.

In planning an event-driven scenario, it's important to think about how the event will affect the PCs and those around them. Imagine a time-line of events if the characters do not intervene, and then try to thing of alternative time-lines if the characters perform certain actions at certain points of time. Players can be unpredictable, but planning contingencies helps you to improvise when the PCs do something unexpected.

Building the Campaign

Also, as part of world-building, drop in hooks for possible future adventures. These hooks don't need to be related to the present scenario, but including them provides depth and makes the game world more interesting.

After the first game session, you should begin to pick up on some of the in-game interactions, events and character motivations to flesh out and expand upon. These, along with the aforementioned dropped hooks, can be used to create a campaign that holds the players' interest and grows organically.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mythras Monday - Renaissance Magic

I've expanded and revised the magic rules for my Renaissance Europe campaign, the pdf of which may be downloaded HERE.

Magic

Magic Points

Characters may regain Magic Points through normal rest (1 Magic Point per night) and meditation (1d4 Magic Points, with a successful Meditation roll).

A character can continue to cast magic once she has exhausted her store of Magic Points by drawing upon her own life energy, gaining one level of Fatigue per additional Magic Point spent.


Mysticism

Mystics are people with extraordinary paranormal abilities. Most mystics posses their gifts innately, but others develop their remarkable abilities through instruction, strict discipline and long hours of meditation.

In addition to Mysticism and Meditation, mystics commonly learn the following skills: Endurance, Hypnotism, Insight, Perception and Willpower.


Sorcery

Sorcerers gain the ability to manipulate the forces of the cosmos through the study of forbidden grimiores and pacts with infernal entities.

The practice of sorcery tempts its students into corruption and eternal damnation. Indeed, many sorcerers are willing servants of the forces of darkness.

In addition to Invocation (Cult. Grimiore or Esoteric Tradition), sorcerers commonly learn the following skills: Hypnotism, Insight, Language (Arabic, Coptic, Enochian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin), Literacy, Lore (Astrology, Mathematics, Occult, Outré), Meditation and Shaping.

Spell Casting

While only the most learned magicians can ever truly master the arcane forces, anyone can attempt to cast magical spells.

A character without arcane knowledge can attempt to cast a spell from a book or scroll (provided of course she can read it). Reading and comprehending the instructions takes several rounds at the very least, after such time the character may attempt to cast the spell by making a normal Invocation roll (at the skill base of Int x2).

Spellcasting is not without peril, as failure can have catastrophic consequences. Unskilled casters are particularly prone to such mishaps, and will Fumble on a spellcasting roll of 91 to 00.

Ritual Magic

Sorcerers may take advantage of the lowered difficulty as a result of Ritualistic Casting Times (RuneQuest page 172). If she spends an hour or more in the preparation, purification and performance of the magic ritual, the caster may make her spellcasting skill rolls at difficulty grade Easy.

Cooperative Magic

Sorcerers may combine their energies to create more potent magical effects. One sorcerer must act as the primary spellcaster and make the appropriate skill rolls.

She may be aided by a number of assistants (who must also know the spell being cast), each of which may add up to one point of Shaping to the spell, as well as contributing Magic Points. Active followers (such as fervent cultists) may contribute Magic Points as well.

Cooperative spellcasting is almost always ritualistic in nature, and thus generally benefits from the advantages described above.

Blood Sacrifice

In addition to their own, natural Magic Points, sorcerers can empower their spells through animal or human sacrifice.

The sacrifice of human, sentient and magical victims provide a number of Magic Points equal to their Power rating, while animal sacrifices yield Magic Points equal to their Size or Power scores (whichever is lower).

Magic Points harnessed through Blood Sacrifice must be used immediately, lest they be lost; however since they are not drawn from the sorceress herself, they may be used to create long-lasting effects without limiting her ability to fully replenish her pool of Magic Points.

 
Theism

Theists are Christians gifted with the ability to perform miracles through their faith and Divine Grace.

Believers of sufficient faith may be able to manifest supernatural blessings through prayer.

Additionally, devoted and pious believers may follow one (or more) of five spiritual paths - the path of Dominion, the path of Healing, the path of Ordination, the path of Righteous Judgment and the path of the Spirit.

Regaining Magic Points

In addition to normal rest and meditation, devout Christians may regain an additional 1d4 Magic Points per day after prayer (with a successful Devotion roll).

Blessings of the Faithful

This allows pious Christians to pray for supernatural aid and blessings. In addition to Folk Magic (Blessings of the Faithful), pious believers commonly learn the following skills: Customs, Devotion (the Lord), Influence, Insight, Language (Latin), Literacy, Lore (Theology), Willpower

Folk Magic Spell List - Augury, Avert, Befriend, Befriend Animals, Befuddle, Bless Crops, Bless Livestock, Calm, Cool, Coordination, Deflect, Empathy, Fanaticism, Fertility, Find, Foretelling, Fortuna, Heal, Health, Magic Amulet, Might, Missile Strike, Mobility, Omen, Pathway, Protection, Protection from Charm, Protection from Disease, Protection from Magic, Protection from Poison, Repair, Speedart, Spiritshield, Vigour, Voice, Warmth

The path of Dominion

This path represents God's authority of the forces of Nature. In addition to Devotion (the Lord) and Exhort (the path of Dominion), the faithful following this path commonly learn the following skills: Influence, Insight, Literacy, Lore (Nature) and Willpower

Miracles of the path of Dominion - Animal Friendship, Bless Crops, Call Winds, Clear Skies, Cloud Call, Earthquake, Fecundity.

The path of Healing

This path represents God's merciful willingness to heal the afflicted. In addition to Devotion (the Lord) and Exhort (the path of Healing), the faithful following this path commonly learn the following skills: First Aid, Influence, Insight, Healing, Literacy and Willpower

Miracles of the path of Healing - Cure Malady, Cure Sense, Exorcism, Fecundity, Heal Body, Heal Mind, Heal Wound, Lay to Rest, Perseverance, Rejuvenate, Resurrect

The path of Ordination

This path represents the holy authority invested upon ministers and members of the priesthood. In addition to Devotion (the Lord) and Exhort (the path of Ordination), the faithful following this path commonly learn the following skills: Influence, Insight, Language (Latin), Literacy, Lore (Theology), Oratory, Teach and Willpower

Miracles of the path of Ordination - Consecrate, Dismiss Magic, Excommunication, Exorcism, Lay to Rest, Spirit Block

The path of Righteous Judgment

This path represents God's blessings upon righteous crusaders against against evil. In addition to Devotion (the Lord) and Exhort (the path of Righteous Judgment), the faithful following this path commonly learn the following skills: Brawn, Combat Style (any melee), Evade, Influence, Insight, Literacy, Oratory and Willpower

Miracles of the path of Ordination - Berserk, Dismiss Magic, Exorcism, Fear, Lightning, Perseverance, Shield, Steadfast, True Weapon

The path of the Spirit

This path represents the authority God grants the faithful over spirits. In addition to Devotion (the Lord) and Exhort (the path of the Spirit), the faithful following this path commonly learn the following skills: Influence, Insight, Literacy, Perception and Willpower

Miracles of the path of the Spirit - Dismiss Magic, Exorcism, Fear, Heal Mind, Lay to Rest, Pacify, Shield, Soul Sight, Spirit Block, Steadfast

Goetia

Goetia is the esoteric tradition of ceremonial "high magic", used to call upon, and to command the power of supernatural entities.

In addition to Invocation (Goetia), goetists commonly learn the following skills: Binding, Language (Enochian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin), Literacy, Lore (Astrology, Mathematics, Occult, Outré), Meditation and Shaping.

Sorcery Spell List - Attract (Spirits), Banish, Dominate (Spirits), Enchant, Evoke, Imprison, Protective Ward, Spell Resistance, Spirit Resistance, Store Manna, Wrack (Torment Spirit)

Necromancy

Necromancy is the esoteric tradition of summoning and commanding the spirits of the dead.

In addition to Invocation (Necromancy), necromancers commonly learn the following skills: Binding, Language (Greek, Latin), Literacy, Lore (Occult, Undead) and Shaping.

Sorcery Spell List - Attract (Spirits), Banish, Dominate (Spirits, Undead), Draw (Spirits, Undead), Enchant, Evoke, Hide Life, Imprison, Protective Ward, Revivify, Spirit Resistance, Trap Soul, Undeath, Wrack (Torment Spirit)

Spiritualism

Spiritualists are people gifted with the ability to perceive and communicate with spirits of the dead. Once a spiritualist has contacted a spirit, she must generally rely on her Influence skill to negotiate with it.

In addition to Trance, spiritualists commonly learn the following skills: Influence, Insight, Lore (Occult), Perception and Willpower.


Thaumaturgy

Thaumaturgy is the esoteric tradition of "low magic" employed by hermeticists and kabbalists to manipulate celestial and spiritual forces for pragmatic purposes, primarily through the use of talismans, sigils and invocations.

In addition to Folk Magic (Thaumaturgy), thaumaturgists commonly learn the following skills: Hypnotism, Literacy, Language (Arabic, Coptic, Enochian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin), and Lore (Alchemy, Astrology, Mathematics, Occult)

Folk Magic Spell List - Alarm, Allure, Appraise, Augury, Aura of Dread, Avert, Calculate, Charm, Coordination, Disruption, Find, Foretelling, Fortuna, Heal, Health, Identify, Incognito, Knock, Light, Lock, Magic Amulet, Might, Missile Strike, Obfuscation, Omen, Protection, Protection from Charm, Protection from Disease, Protection from Magic, Protection from Poison, Speedart, Spiritshield, Translate, Vigour, Voice, Witchsight

Theurgy

Theurgy is an esoteric discipline dedicated to the elevation of consciousness and ultimately to spiritual unification with the Divine.

In addition to Mysticism (Theurgy) and Meditation, theurges commonly learn the following skills: Devotion (the Lord), Endurance, Insight, Language (Greek, Latin), Literacy, Lore (Any), Perception and Willpower.

Mystical Talent List - Augment Devotion, Augment Insight, Augment Willpower, Invoke Astral Form, Invoke Awareness, Invoke Indomitable, Invoke Spirit Sense

Regaining Magic Points

In addition to normal rest and meditation, theurgists may regain an additional 1d4 Magic Points per day after prayer (with a successful Devotion roll).
 
Witchcraft

Witchcraft is an esoteric tradition rooted in rural folklore, nature worship, paganism, diabolism and ancient mystery cults. Witches call upon spirits and natural magical forces to achieve their very practical, very human ends, primarily through the use of simple charms, talismans, herbal remedies, potions and incantations.

In addition to Folk Magic (Witchcraft), witches commonly learn the following skills: Craft (Potions), Healing, Influence, Insight, and Lore (Astrology, Herbalism, Occult and Poisons).

Folk Magic Spell List - Allure, Augury, Aura of Dread, Avert, Babble, Beastcall, Befriend, Befriend Animals, Befuddle, Bless/Blight Crops, Bless/Blight Livestock, Calm, Charm, Curse, Curse of Affliction, Curse of Misfortune, Demoralise, Disruption, Evil Eye, Fanaticism, Fertility/Sterility, Find, Foretelling, Fortuna, Glamour, Heal, Health, Identify, Ignite, Knock, Light, Lock, Magic Amulet, Omen, Pet, Protection, Protection from Charm, Protection from Disease, Protection from Magic, Protection from Poison, Repugnance, Séance, Sleep, Slow, Speak with Animals, Spiritshield, Tire, Voice, Weather Prediction, Weather Summoning, Witchsight

Regaining Magic Points

In addition to normal rest and meditation, witches may regain an additional Magic Point per day while in the company of her familiar.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mythras Monday

Last month, Mythras Imperative was released. It's a lightweight, genre-neutral Quick Start version of the d100 Mythras rules set. Included are rules for character creation, combat, equipment, general system rules, and a small sampling of monsters. Absent are magic systems, which tend to be quite genre/setting specific.


The pdf is free and you can get physical copies from Lulu for a $9.99. I am looking forward to the complete Mythras core rules being released in the next month or so.


Once again Loz and Pete have demonstrated unerring instinct and excellent judgment in their handling of RuneQuest Mythras. A generic, lightweight d100 rules set (based on the fantastic RQ 6 no less) is exactly the platform needed for developers to launch their own settings and to bring new players to Mythras.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mythras Monday - New Spells

Here are a few new spells I've made or adapted from other sources. I have found it convenient to designate the caster as female and the target as male, this allows me to use pronouns to avoid vague or clumsy phrasing; it serve no other purpose.

Link to relevant pdf

Please note that the new Folk Magic spells are significantly more powerful than standard Folk Magic spells. I did this intentionally as I use Folk Magic as Witchcraft in my campaign, and it needed some of these spells.You have been warned. 

The Mystic talents are obviously designed to mimic psychic powers (mostly for use in a Sword & Planet setting I'm currently working on). 


New Folk Magic Spells
Allure

Allure grants the caster a +40% bonus to her Seduction skill, or bestows it at its base rating if she does not already have it.

Augury
Instant

Augury allows the caster to gain a glimpse of insight beyond normal reckoning, learning the answer to a single "yes or no" question.
Aura of Dread
Resist (Willpower)

Aura of Dread grants the caster a +30% bonus to her Intimidation skill and causes everyone in her immediate presence to become demoralized (increasing the difficulty of most rolls by one grade) if they fail their resistance rolls. 
 
Befriend
Special Duration

Befriend causes others to react more favorably towards the caster, generally being friendly and helpful. This has no effect upon avowed enemies.

Befriend Animals
Special Duration

Befriend Animals causes even the fiercest wild beasts to react favorably towards the caster. Once befriended a particular animal will never attack the caster except in self-defense. This has no effect upon animals that have already attacked the caster.

Bless / Blight Crops
Special Duration, Special Area of Effect

Bless Crops ensures that a portion of cultivated vegetation (grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc) are protected from pests, blights and similar woes. The harmful version of this spell, Blight Crops, will instead cause the crops to become infested with vermin and blights, to wither and to fail. In either case the spell affects up to an acre of land for one season.

Bless / Blight Livestock
Special Duration, Touch

Bless Livestock ensures that a specific domestic animal is healthy and yields abundant byproducts (meat, milk, eggs, wool or as the case may be). The harmful version of this spell, Blight Livestock, causes one such animal to grow ill and its byproducts to be meager and of poor quality (meat will be sinewy, milk sour, eggs sulfurous, etc). In either case, the effects last one season.

Calm
Instant, Resist (Willpower)

Calm allows the caster to soothe, comfort and pacify an agitated, skittish or aggressive creature.

If frightened, terrified, horrified or suffering from the effects of insanity, the subject may make another Willpower check (at one difficulty grade easier) to overcome it. If used upon a raging creature, it must make a Willpower check or be brought out of its rage. 
 
Charm
Special Duration, Resist (Willpower)

Charm causes a person to fall under the caster's sway. A charmed character will view the caster in the most favorable light, is easily persuaded by her, and will go out of his way to help her provided the cost is not too high or the danger too great.

This spell may be broken if the caster commits some egregious act that would break their "friendship", mistreats or betrays the charmed character. This spell lasts one month, but can be extended with repeated castings.

Curse of Affliction
Special Duration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Curse of Affliction causes the victim to suffer some minor malady or illness, as determined by the caster. Examples include boils, the flu, impotence, etc. This lasts one month.

Curse of Misfortune
Special Duration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Curse of Misfortune allows the caster to curse a person with improbably bad luck, inflicting a Hard difficulty grade to all the victim's Skill rolls for a month.

Empathy
Concentration, Resist (Willpower)

Empathy allows the caster to sense a person's general needs, drives, and emotions. This grants the caster a +30% bonus to any Insight skill rolls against the target for the remainder of the day.

Evil Eye
Special Duration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Evil Eye overwhelms the target with feelings of anxiety and dread, and curses him with bad luck. The difficulty of most rolls are increased by one grade; this lasts 1d6 days (1d6 months if the target fumbles his resistance roll). The target must meet the caster's gaze for this spell to take effect.

Fertility / Sterility
Special Duration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Fertility causes a person or animal to become fertile and to bear healthy offspring after mating. The harmful version of this spell, Sterility, causes the target to be barren. In either case, the effects last one month.

Foretelling
Instant

Foretelling allows the caster to glimpse into the near future, allowing her to predict the most important event likely to occur in the next week. If a character is forewarned about the event, he gains one extra Luck Point that may be used during the situation.

Fortuna
Special Duration, Touch

Fortuna allows the caster to bless a person with extraordinary luck and good fortune, granting him 1d4 extra Luck Points . These Luck Points remain until spent, or until one month has passed. 
 
Health
Special Duration

Health grants the recipient a +30% bonus to all Endurance checks vs. injury and illness. This lasts one month.

Identify
Instant, Touch

Identify allows the caster to learn the general nature and identity of a type of creature or substance.

Ignis Fatuus
Ranged

Ignis Fatuus creates 1d6+2 ghostly spheres of light, each illuminating a 12' radius area. The lights dance and pulse chaotically, although the caster can control their movement through concentration.

Magic Amulet
Special Duration

Magic Amulet allows the caster to enchant a talisman imbued with another Folk Magic spell. The enchantment lasts until the amulet is destroyed, however the caster will not recover the Magic Points used in its casting until such time.

Missile Strike
Special Duration

Missile Strike causes a single projectile or thrown weapon (an arrow, a stone, a dagger, an axe, etc) to unerringly hit its target, causing normal damage. This lasts for only one shot, and will expire in one hour if not used.

Obfuscation
Touch

Obfuscation causes the recipient to become indistinct to view and muffles any unintentional sounds, making all Stealth rolls Very Easy.

Omen
Instant

Omen allows the caster to divine the auspiciousness of a planned, impending event.

Project Emotions
Concentration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Project Emotions allows the caster to project a feeling into the mind of another, subconsciously swaying their emotions.

Project Thoughts
Concentration, Ranged, Resist (Willpower)

Project Thoughts allows the caster to project her thoughts into the mind of another.

Protection from Charm
Special Duration

Protection from Charm grants the recipient a +30% bonus to resist all types of charms, mental control, possession, etc, though it offers no protection against non-magical charms and temptations. This lasts one month.

Protection from Disease
Special Duration

This spell prevents the recipient from being infected by any type of disease, though it doesn't cures any disease he might already have. This lasts one week.

Protection from Magic
Special Duration

Protection from Magic grants the recipient a +30% bonus to resist all types of magic. This lasts one week.

Protection from Poison
Special Duration

This spell grants the recipient a +30% bonus to resist all types of poison and venom. This lasts one week.

Séance
Concentration

Séance allows the caster to call upon a spirit, petitioning it to communicate through simple signs blowing out a candle, knocking on a table, etc.

Speak with Animals

Speak with Animals allows the caster to converse with animals. The usefulness of this varies, the caster can more meaningfully interact with animals of greater intelligence compared to mindless beasts. Negotiation typically requires an Influence skill check.

Spectral Sounds
Concentration, Ranged

Spectral Sounds creates illusory sounds of the caster's choice. The sounds cannot be louder than a person's normal speaking voice.

Weather Prediction
Instant

Weather Prediction allows the caster to forecast the weather conditions at her location as far as a week into the future.

Weather Summoning
Special Duration

This spell allows the caster to summon a general type of weather, shifting the visibility, precipitation, temperature and wind by one category each (see RuneQuest page 128 - 130); a critical success allows the caster to shift each of the previous conditions up to two categories.

New Mystical Talents

Clairvoyance

This allows the mystic to see and hear events unhindered by the barriers of space and time. The character may seek out a person, a place, or an item that is either known to herself or described to her.
The difficulty grade is dependent upon the mystic's connection to that which she seeks to scry, as well as its distance from her in terms of space and time.

Prophecy

This allows the mystic to foresee events into the future. This power does not deal with trivial occurrences, but rather only with major events. The character will usually learn the time, place and people involved in the event.

Prediction

This is allows the mystic to glimpse fragments of potential future events - what is seen will probably happen if no one takes action to change it. However, the vision is incomplete, and it makes no real sense until the actual events begin to unfold.

Pyrokinesis
Resist (Willpower), Ranged

This allows the mystic to cause objects and creatures to burst into flames. The maximum range and intensity of fire are dependent upon skill level of the mystic.
Pyrokinesis also allows the mystic to control flames. A fire can be made to flare up, die down, move in a certain direction, etc.

Mysticism …. Intensity …. Damage …. Range
up to 25% .... 1.................. 1d2 ….........5 yards
25 - 50% …. 2.................. 1d4 …........10 yards
51 - 75% …. 3.................. 1d6 …........50 yards
76 - 100% … 4.................. 2d6 …........100 yards
101%+ … 5.................. 3d6 …........500 yards

Sense Impressions

This allows the mystic to perceive psychic impressions. If examining a living creature she can see its aura and perceive information about its character, mood, and thoughts. She can also sense the psychic impressions left upon an object or an area.
The types of events most likely to leave psychic impressions are those that elicited strong emotions: battles and betrayals, marriages and murders, births and great pain, or any other event where one emotion dominates. Everyday occurrences leave no residue to detect.

Telekinesis
Resist (Brawn), Ranged

This allows the mystic to mentally manipulate physical objects in her line of sight. The maximum weight a character can move is dependent upon her Mysticism rating and her Power score.

Mysticism .... Weight

up to 25% …. 1 Pound
25 - 50% …. 1 Pound x POW
51 - 75% …. 15 Pound x POW
76 - 100% … 25 Pound x POW
101 - 125% …. 50 Pound x POW
1261% + … 25 Pound x POW

Telepathy
Resist (Willpower), Ranged

This allows the mystic to establish a mental connection with another person. Depending on her skill level, the mystic may be able to broaden and deepen that connection.
The maximum range is dependent upon the ability the mystic is attempting to use. Empathy and Read Mind are limited to the mystic's line-of-sight, and Probe requires that the mystic be able to establish eye contact or physically touch the subject. While the range of Telepathy is effectively unlimited, the difficulty is Hard if used beyond the mystic's line-of-sight.

Mysticism .... Weight …....... Description
up to 40% .... Empathy …... Sense emotions
41 - 60% ….. Read Mind ... Perceive surface thoughts
61 - 85% ….. Telepathy …. Mentally communicate
86% + ….... Probe Mind .. Uncover knowledge & memories


New Theistic Miracle

Befriend Animals
Duration (Instantaneous), Rank Initiate

Befriend Animals causes even the fiercest wild beasts to react favorably towards the character. Once befriended a particular animal will never attack the caster except in self-defense.