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Showing posts from May, 2012

More Vancian!

Here-in are a set of alternate rules for casting magical spells, intended for use with the Crude Roleplaying Engine, but adaptable to other editions.  Part of the idea here was to avoid the Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard (LFQW) issue which certain pre-fourth editions have been accused of.

This material was originally inspired by Gorgonmilk's Memory Cell magic system, but eventually took a different shape here.  It was intended as a return to a more closely Jack Vance inspired magic system.


Spells Spells are complex patterns of information which shift through multiple states, ultimately producing tangible effects in the mundane world.

A spell can be created initially through inspiration of a magician's mind learned on a particular subject, or as an outgrowth of some supernatural creature's being.  For instance a godling may be able to cast a spell at will that is in affinity with its own nature.

However, for most magicians the spell exists as a sort of mental wave-function…

The Fallen Lords of the Shash

The Lords of the Shash are monarchs and vassals of a bygone age, at once fae and undead.  They come from a hundred different cultures and the legends about them both abound and conflict.  They symbolize hubris, bravery against impossible odds, fatalism, war against fate, conflict with the natural order, failing of the natural order, the folly of excess, the vanity of worldly glory, the corrupting influence of faery, and a dozen other themes.  Some tellings have them once being human or of other ancient race, other stories claim the Shash merely ape the human form as do other fae.

Sometimes they appear of noble bearing, but there is always some element of corruption or death about them.  This could be a wound that will not stop bleeding, a face pocked by active plague symptoms, maggots falling from clothing, arms and head bound as with burial cloth, colorless gray skin and raiment, listlessness and fatigue when encountering sites related to death and burial, partially exposed bone on t…

Skills: Advancement System

These are the basic components of the Crude Roleplaying Engine skill use and advancement system:

Competent Characters, Competent Players
Player creativity and thoughtful investigation trump skill.  If a player suggests a course of action that is well within the character's ability then just let them do it, even if you think their Intelligence score isn't up to thinking it up.  If the player figures out something based on evidence that their character could possibly have seen then let them use that insight, even if the character's Wisdom score is abysmal.  If the player comes up with a well thought out way of socially engineering a social encounter, then let them succeed if it possibly could despite low Charisma.

In short:  Given any typical situation, if the character has even a marginal chance of success then just let them get away with it.

Think of it this way:  Don't make your players' attempts fail just because you think there should be a chance of failu…

Skills: Existing Mechanics

And another thing:  Non-combat skills.  What's up with those?

Throughout the editions of D&D skills have been handled in a lot of different ways, but something about them has always left me a little cold.  The way skills are handled varies by edition and, within some editions, by class.  Here's a breakdown of the main ways skills have been handled in the first through third editions:

Thieves (etc.) - In most editions prior to 3rd, thieves and those who used thief-like skills got a straight percentile chance of success.  This chance of success increased automatically as a function of character level.  Personally I'm not the hugest fan of percentile type skills, but it makes sense that an adventurer using relevant skills would gradually improve over time, much like attack bonuses increase.

Also, any system where the character's advancement can "max out" doesn't quite sit perfectly with me.  Not that I expect characters to routinely be advancing to superh…