Monday, August 27, 2007

10 Campaign Ideas

1. In the year 2083 a limited form of time travel was discovered. While you could use it to travel back and forth with relative ease, it always sends you a certain number of years back, namely 162.7 million. Several competing supercorporations send small armies of personnel in to harvest resources and eliminate the competition in more direct ways. However, two years later all the portals back home suddenly stop working, and suddenly over a thousand high-tech scientists, engineers and military personnel are stuck in the jurassic era with an environment that has been warped by their hazardous experimental resource-collection methods.

2. The players are a group of children (10-14 years old) in a rural mountain community. They are forced to flee when raiders attack and raze their mountain community, then after a period of running and hiding encounter a group of ancient beings who had sworn to protect their community in ages past. It's been a century since they were last needed, and these beings (1 for each player) arrived too late to save the community. As such, they have tracked down all there is left to protect- the children. Players each control 1 child and 1 guardian; 1st order of business is probably to attack the raiders, but where do they go from there?
3. Players must escort a large, strange animal vast distance, say across a continent; the fantastic creature has great religious, cultural and/or practical value, so hazards include plots to steal or harm it in addition to the normal dangers of the areas they're traveling through. The creature is semisentient, and caring for it/staying on its good side are important aspects of the campaign.
4. The players are all basically heads of Vecna- High-level characters whose preserved, severed heads can be attached to freshly decapitated bodies. The bodies, however, only last a day per character level before turning to dust, returning PCs to their default state as unconscious minor artifacts. What do the players do? They could actively seek to remain “alive”, acquiring new medium-size humanoid bodies through any means necessary. . .or they could spread word of their nature and live through the ages as artifacts. A valiant soul might give their life to that a PC might use their body to fight some great evil- or a less scrupulous individual might use the body of another and attempt to bribe or manipulate the PCs. Either way, at some point a PC should definitely find himself attached to the body of some moronic adventurer whose compatriots are watching expectantly, thinking that they're Vecna.
5. The players are ghosts in the modern day, based in a classic haunted house in a rural neighborhood. They gain xp from scaring the crap out of people, and leveling up lets them influence the material world more and more directly as well as journey further away from the house (at level 1 they can't even go outside unless they've taken a feat or talent or something).
6. The characters are trapped in a large, abandoned castle by a dragon that's way too powerful for them to consider attacking. The dragon does not vocally communicate and is clearly intelligent, but will not damage the castle and attempts to eat them whenever they emerge. Players must attempt to figure out the mystery of what's going on while dealing with more immediate concerns like finding food and determining who or what is keeping the place so ship-shape. The castle is full of well-concealed secret passages, including some which lead to underground complexes, both natural and man-made...
7. Players are a traveling D&D band that has adventures as they tour the world playing for their fans- everyone's a gestalt Bard/whatever. A healthy dose of cheese is intended here. It doesn't have to be a rock band, if you really don't want to. . .
8. The players are incredible warriors hailing from ancient times. They live today due to the dying curse of a god-king whose defeat they caused; eternal life combined with the compulsion to eternally wage war. They're extremely high-level but not superhuman except for how their bodies always knit themselves back together afterwards (regeneration 1, no bypass). They've been fighting aimlessly for years, but now they've come across some hint of how to break free of the curse's control- and when beings such as these have a cause, woe to any that would stand in their way.
9. The military is losing the (realistic/mundane) war. But they've discovered dragons in subterranean caverns and have been breeding them. The PCs were hotshot soldiers with histories of discipline problems. Now they're guinea pigs who get to try flying these things into combat. Oh, and the dragons are quite intelligent- you wouldn't notice it much since they've been raised like animals since hatching, but wait till they start learning how to speak by listening to the PCs and mimicking them.
10. The players are dragons who have slept for 500 years and now awoken to find a modern-day city built over their lairs. They can all shapeshift and take on human form, though fitting might be just a little difficult.

Read all

Sunday, August 19, 2007

d20 System Variant: Action Points

Here is an altered version of the action point rules found in products such as d20 Modern and the Eberron campaign setting, another of the variants I've been creating for the 7th Circle. If you wish to include them in a game that does not normally feature action points, I suggest having the number of action points player have at each level equal 5+half their character level.

Character Level - Action Point Dice Rolled - Maximum Points Per Turn
1st–4th - 1d6 - 1
5th–8th - 2d4 - 2
9th–12th - 2d6 - 2
13th-16th - 4d4 - 3
17th-20th - 3d6 - 3

Action points provide characters with the means to affect game play in significant ways. A character always has a limited amount of action points, but while the character replenishes this supply with every new level he or she attains, any unspent points from the previous level are lost. A character can spend 1 action point to do one of the following things:

* Add your action point dice to a single d20 roll used to make an attack, a skill check, an ability check, a level check, or a saving throw. A character can declare this use of an action point after the d20 roll is made, but only before the GM reveals the result of that roll (whether the attack or check or saving throw succeeded or failed).
* Use a class feature or special bonus ability during your turn for which the expenditure of 1 action point is required.
* Make a check with a trained-only skill as though it could be used untrained.
* For one round, gain the benefit of a feat for which you meet all the prerequisites.
* As an immediate action, gain your character level plus your action point dice in temporary hit points. These hit points last for one round per level.
* Add action point dice to the amount of hit points restored through natural healing, multiplying the number of dice rolled by the number of hit points restored per character level (so double the normal number of dice for a full day of rest and triple for a day of long-term medical care).
* With GM approval, use an ability in a way that is theoretically possible and dramatically appropriate but not normally possible under the given rules.

At first level, a character can spend a total of 1 action point per turn and adds 1d6 to the result when spending an action point in a way that adds action point dice to a result. At higher levels characters may spend additional action points (though not to add additional action point dice to the same result) and add more d6es to the result when adding action point dice, as listed on the table below.

Read all

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

d20 Modern: Revised Base Classes

*Phew.* This pdf represents a fairly large investment of time and effort on my part. It contains revised versions of the 6 d20 Modern base classes, another part of d20 Modern I felt wasn't interesting enough, featuring changes and additions- each class is now 20 levels and features 6 or more new talents.

Much credit is owed here to the excellent Back to Basics supplement for the equally fantastic Spycraft rpg. If anyone would rather just have a straight pdf or word document rather than having to extract this file from .rar, let me know. The iconic characters featured in the pdf correspond to the 7th Circle, but they can be ignored if you just want to use these for a d20 modern game.

Read all

d20 System: Weapon Speed Variant

Just a quick house rule that popped into my head today, a way to reflect the fact that you can swing a knife faster than a greatsword without throwing off the system balance.

You know how every 5th point of base attack bonus grants you an additional attack at an additional -5 penalty?. For example, when you go from a BAB progression of +10/+5 to +11/+6/+1. So in this variant, for the purpose of determining extra attacks of this type, light melee weapons give you +5 to your effective base attack bonus while large melee weapons give a -5 penalty. Nonproficiency penalties also count in this situation. Also, if after doing the math your effective BAB is 0 or less, you need to make a full attack or full-round charge action to attack in melee.

So: a level 1 fighter with a greatsword must make a full attack or full-round charge action to attack in melee. That same fighter gets two attacks with a short sword, as the +5 bonus raises his hypothetical BAB to +6/+1 and thus gives him an effective progression of +1/-4 instead of just +1. At level 11 that same fighter's effective progression is +11/+6 with a greatsword and +11/+6/+1/-4 with a short sword. If he instead attempts to use a large exotic weapon he's not proficient in (such as a guisarme) the additional -4 penalty reduces his hypothetical BAB to +2 and thus reduces his effective progression to a straight +11. Am I making any sense? This is supposed to tread the line between having a neglible effect on the game and screwing up weapon balance, and I think it succeeds.

Read all

Thursday, August 9, 2007

d20 Modern: Revised Firearms Combat Rules

As a part of the 7th Circle project, I've started working on some variants for d20 modern to make its role in the game more interesting- no big alterations to the fundamental rules, just new material replacing the old. In this case I've attempted to revise firearms combat (and in a few cases, ranged combat in general) just by introducing two new combat maneuvers and revising a handful of feats. Credit for inspiration is due to the excellent Spycraft RPG and the Hero's Guide supplement to the d20 Star Wars game. The revised occupations list, base classes and action point rules can wait for another day.

Suppressive Fire
As a full-round action, a character whose firearm has at least 5 shots remaining may expend 5 shots to target an unoccupied square. Until their next turn, that character is treated as threatening the square in question with that firearm and can make attacks of opportunity as normal.

Take Aim
As a standard action, a character can take aim with a ranged weapon. Have the character make a ranged touch attack as though it were with a ranged weapon that they are currently wielding. If the touch attack hits, the character gains a +2 competence bonus on all attack rolls against the target in question until the target moves more than 5 feet during a turn or leaves the attacker's line of sight. While aiming, the attacker cannot attack any other targets or use any other weapons, nor can they move, even to make a 5-foot step. Likewise, if the character’s concentration is disrupted, the character loses the benefit of aiming.

Advanced Firearms Proficiency
In addition to negating the -4 penalty on a standard autofire attack, a character with this feat whose automatic firearm has 6 or more shots remaining may focus a stream of fire at a target. The character chooses a number of volleys up to 1/3 the remaining shots in his weapon (rounded down, maximum 10 volleys), expending 3 shots per volley fired. The character then makes 1 attack as a full-round action, suffering a –1 penalty per volley fired (in addition to all standard modifiers). With a hit, the target is struck by 1 shot + 1 additional shot for every 4 by which the character’s attack result exceeds the target’s Defense (to a maximum equal to the number of volleys fired). Regardless of the number of volleys the character fires, they apply precision-based damage only once. If they score a critical hit, only the first shot fired deals critical damage; all others deal regular damage.
Also, a character with this feat who uses an automatic firearm to take a Suppressive Fire action may target an unoccupied 5-foot-by-10-foot or 10-foot-by-10-foot area instead of a 5-foot-by-5-foot square.

Burst Fire
A character with this feat may also make a wide burst instead of a narrow one, foregoing the extra 2 dice of damage in exchange for a +2 circumstance bonus on the attack roll (as opposed to a -4 penalty).

Dead Aim
Prerequisites: Wisdom 13, Far Shot.
Benefits: The character may Take Aim as a move action and receives a +4 circumstance bonus to hit.
Normal: It takes a standard action to Take Aim and the character receives a +2 circumstance bonus.

Skip Shot
This feat does not apply a penalty to damage. It may be used with any ranged weapon, not just firearms. The GM has final ruling on which attacks will successfully bounce off which surfaces (requiring a reflective surface for a spell ray, for example).

Prerequisites: Personal Firearms Proficiency, Advanced Firearms Proficiency.
Benefits: A character whose automatic firearm still has 9 or more shots remaining may spread a stream of ammunition across several targets. The character chooses a number of adjacent 5-ft. squares up to 1/3 the ammunition remaining in his weapon (rounded down, maximum 10 squares) and expends 3 shots for each square chosen this way. He may not skip any squares across the target area, nor may he target any square more than once or target any square directly behind another square already being strafed.
The character then makes a single attack roll against all of the opponents occupying the chosen squares. Each successive square (including the first) receives a cumulative +2 circumstance bonus to defense, starting with one end of the line of squares and moving along to the other. The character selects one square beforehand and applies any precision-based damage (including critical hits) to that target only. If the same target occupies multiple selected squares, each occupied square is handled as a separate target. The standard bonus to Defense applies, and damage is inflicted for each successful hit.
Alternately, the character may select only unoccupied squares and be treated as threatening those squares until the beginning of their next turn in the same manner as a Suppressive Fire action, taking a -1 penalty per square selected to each attack of opportunity made this way.

Read all

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Vrilwar: Mech Concepts

A german anti-armor gun takes hurried aim at a M4 Calliope medium mechanized walker as it attempts to retreat after ambushing their convoy.

Here's a full list of all the various mech ideas I'm working with at this time, each one followed by the faction that it would probably belong to. Some ideas aren't originally mine, don't read this as me taking credit for everything.

* A medium two-legged walker, with good armor, protection (how thoroughly the armor covers the vehicle) and speed but higher center of gravity (So it's at risk of tipping over). Uses two heavy recoilless rifles (a cannon of similar power would just knock it over) and can be upgraded with Heavy MG or MRL battery. [America, see pic #1 above]

* Light "Angetriebene RĂ¼stung", little more than awkward suits of heavy powered armor whose occupants can only manage to walk and aim because they're ubergrenadiers. [Germany, see pic #2, left]

* Medium mech that can quickly burrow into the ground, making itself into a well-armored gun emplacement. [Britain]

* Lean, mean heavy humanoid mech- decent armor, protection and maneuverability plus low profile for size. No massive array of weapons, just single powerful cannon it wield like a rifle. [Japan]

* Medium "Mech Destroyer"- open-topped crew compartment, large cannon, mobile 4-legged chassis. [America, see pic #3]

* Humanoid mech with front MG that can transform into powerful anti-armor gun- waist rotates 90% while legs continue to face forwards, then front leg bends down and mech leans forwards to place arms on the ground like a sprinter ready to race, bringing powerful back-mounted cannon into position. [Germany]

* Squat, rounded light two-legged walker with MG and a few rockets [Russia, see pic #4]

* Light humanoid mech, quite maneuverable but with little armor. Twice the size of a human. [Japan]

* Heavy "Chimney Walker", a massive artillery cannon on four legs that moves with the gun pointed straight up and can quickly deploy to unload on the enemy. [Britain]

* Six-legged "Crab Walker"mech destroyer- MRL battery and heavy cannon, less armor in exchange for higher strafing speeds. [Russia]

* Clunky, heavily armored two-legged walker with low-hung body- very tough target. [Germany, see pic #5]

* Massive "Centipede Walker" that can take up two hexes at a time. Acts as a transport, with side-facing guns along its length. If front passenger sections are clear, can "rear up and fire its front cannons from a height of several stories. [Russia]

* "Mantis" walkers, fast medium mechs with 4 long legs, decent cannon and 2 bladed forelimbs for close combat. [Russia]

* Light scout walkers with two thin, long legs. [America, see pic #6]

* "Valkrie" medium humanoid mech- carries 2 high-powered MGs, has weak armor and large profile but is highly maneuverable. Most importantly, can launch as fighter plane from carrier and then transform after landing. Cannot take off again without special catapult-launch runway. Confident pilots can attempt to transform in midair, deploy a chute, and do a precision landing to get the drop on an enemy. [Japan]

* Generic medium humanoid mech- average armor, speed, maneuverability, etc. Carries decent medium cannnon and sword as well as large shield. [Germany]

* Transforming light wheeled vehicle/medium two-legged walker, medium cannon and MG but poor armor [America, see pic # 7]

* Multi-purpose light Bren Carrier, 4-legged walker that can be equipped with high-caliber mg emplacement or used as transport. [Britain]

* Two-legged Heavy Walker with high center of gravity and massive array of weapons, similar to mechwarrior's Timberwolf [America]

Read all

7th Circle: Sample Character #1

The following is a sample 7th Circle character. I'm working on statting out her fellow team members; everyone in the group is ECL 12.

Sarah Aradayon, Female Fire Genasi
LG Swordsage 6/Bloodclaw Master 5/\Strong Hero 3\Martial Artist 8
Non-Core Material: Forgotten Realms, Tome of Battle
Once the heir apparent to a powerful medieval-era desert empire ruled by fire genasi, Sarah had no interest in the stifling, pampered court lifestyle. Disguising herself as a human commoner, the haughty but honorable girl began living a double life away from the palace as an adventurer in the service of the Seventh Order. When her aunt began to abuse the power she wielded as queen, the Seventh Order revealed its secrets to Sarah and asked her to sacrifice her place as queen-in-waiting in order to challenge her aunt's claim to the throne. They expected reluctance if not an outright refusal, but Sarah practically jumped at the opportunity- the offer of a new life as an Interloper was just icing on the cake.

It only takes a minute or two of conversation to see just how poorly cut out the young planetouched woman was for the politics of nobles, even if the nobles in question are all hot-tempered fire genasi themselves. Sarah is often blunt and brutally honest, with a talent for making a terrible first impression and no head for social niceties- though she does have an impressive aptitude for fitting in when she puts her mind to it. Her teammates have little trouble tolerating her rough manner, since they know that underneath is a good-natured young woman who means no offense by her actions and works fiercely to repay her debts (regardless of whether she's paying someone back for good or for ill).

Sarah's main contribution to her team is her proficiency for melee combat- she needs only her bare hands to rip an enemy to apart. Her training in martial arts has focused more on physical techniques than the spiritual discipline that usually accompanies such an advanced level of study. Though she still channels ki to devastating effect, the young fire genasi achieves this end not through inner tranquility but the powerful techniques of the Sublime Way and her own elemental heritage. The end result is a fighting style that, as one teammate puts it, tears into enemies “like a combination dire tiger and fireball spell.”

Str 19 – (16+1 level+2 magic)
Dex 18 – (16+2 magic)
Con 15 – (13+2 magic)
Int 12 – (10+2 race)
Wis 17 – (15+1 level+2 magic)
Cha 6 – (8-2 race)

HD 5d8+5d12+30, Hit Points 85, Massive Damage Threshold 25
Defense 34 (10+8 base+4 dex+3 wis+1 monk+7 armor+1 deflection), Touch 27, Flat 26
Init +6
BAB +11, Grap +15
Speed 40 (light armor, 22/116 lbs)
Fort +9, Ref +13, Will +11 (+3 vs. fire spells and effects)

+16 Melee, Unarmed Strike, 2d6+4, 19-20/x2
+16/16/11/11/6/6 Unarmed Strikes, 2d6+4, 19-20/x2
+14/14/14/9/9/4/4 Flurry of Blows, 2d6+4, 19-20/x2
+15 Ranged

Medium Size, 6'1" tall, 162 lb, 27 yrs old
Blond hair, gold eyes, pale skin

Occupation: Cloistered (Knowledge (Society), Sense Motive, Improved Unarmed Strike)
Complete fluency in Common and Ignan, intermediate fluency in Draconic

+9 Balance (5)
+18 Hide (9+5 enhancement)
+27 Jump (14+4 speed+5 enhancement)
+7 Knowledge (Society) (5+1 occupation)
+18 Move Silently (9+5 enhancement)
+18 Sense Motive (14+1 occupation)
+7 Treat Injury (4)
+13 Tumble (9)
+12 Listen (9)
+3 Spot (0)

-Combat Martial Arts (O)
-Defensive Martial Arts (1)
-Power Attack(S2)
-Cleave (3)
-Elusive Target (M3)
-Advanced Combat Martial Arts(6)
-Unbalance Opponent (M6)
-Tiger Blooded (9)

Fire Genasi Traits
-Control Flame 1/day
-Darkvision 60 ft.
-Native Outsider

Swordsage Abilities
-Martial Maneuvers
-Quick to Act +2
-Discipline Weapon Focus: Tiger Strike
-AC Bonus
-Discipline Insightful Strike: Tiger Claw

Bloodclaw Master Abilities
-Shifting 6/day (6 rounds)
-Claws of the Beast
-Superior Two-Weapon Fighting
-Tiger Claw Synergy (Stance, Strike)
-Low-Light Vision
-Rending Claws

Strong Hero Abilities
-Melee Smash +2

Martial Artist Abilities
-Living Weapon 1d10
-Flying Kick +8
-Iron Fist (One attack)
-Flury of Blows

Maneuvers Known
1st: Blistering Flourish, Charging Minotaur, Counter Charge (Wind Stride), Stone Bones, Sudden Leap
2nd: Baffling Defense (Flashing Sun), Emerald Razor, Mountain Hammer
3rd: Devastating Throw (Fan the Flames), Feigned Opening (Zephyr Dance), Soaring Raptor Strike
4th: Bounding Assault
5th: Soaring Throw (Leaping Flame)
6th: Rabid Bear Strike

Stances Known: Blood In The Water, Leaping Dragon Stance, Stance of Clarity

Special Bonuses
(1st) Jane Doe: Sarah adds her character level to any bluff, disguise and/or hide checks made to pass herself off as a normal, nondescript citizen; though she's no master manipulator, Sarah has a talent for blending in that can be traced back to her childhood adventures disguised as a commoner.
(5th) Twin Disciplines I: Sarah is first and foremost a master of the Tiger Claw discipline, but she must often decide whether to fall back on the calm, controlled fighting style she was formally taught or the blistering speed and fury that is a natural part of her heritage. She cannot simultaneously ready Setting Sun and Desert Wind maneuvers. Every even-numbered level, she may select a Setting Sun maneuver she knows; for each maneuver selected this way, she may as a counterpart learn a free Desert Wind Maneuver of the same level for which she meets all the prerequisites.
(10th) Twin Disciplines II: While mortal bloodclaw masters embrace their inner animals, Sarah's heritage and inner division throws an additional wrinkle in the process. She may use her Shifting ability an additional number of times per day equal to her wisdom modifier, minimum 1. She can either shift in a Setting Sun style (which functions normally) or a Desert Wind style (which provides a +2 bonus to her dexterity instead of her strength). While shifting, she cannot use maneuvers of the opposing discipline but may substitute a maneuver for its counterpart (For example, if she shifts in the Setting Sun style she may not use a readied Leaping Flame maneuver but may expend it to use the Soaring Throw maneuver instead).

Amulet of Constitution +2
Boots of Striding and Springing
Cloak of Charisma +2
Gauntlets of Ogre Strength +2
Headband of Wisdom +2
+3 Mithral Chain Shirt of Shadow and Silent Moves
Monk's Belt
Ring of Protection +1
Ring of Sustenance

Bag of Holding (Type I)
-2 Antitox Injections
-40 Arrows
-Fast-Use Medkit
-Masterwork Composite Longbow
-Piercing Visor
-Grappling Tether
-Portable Glow Lamp

Read all

The Mountain Kingdom: Intro

I came up with the idea for this setting when I needed a place to set the next mission for a 7th Circle game. Credit for the name (which may be a working title) goes to Robin Hobb's amazing Farseer Trilogy, which has also helped inspire a few other pieces of flavor. The basic concept is a massive mountains system similar to the Himalayas, intentionally ambiguous about its surroundings to allow GMs to expand as desired, focus the PCs on a more local scale or insert the region into an estabilished setting such as Faerun. The background incorporates material from the Eberron Campaign Setting and the Tome of Battle, though GMs can choose to set this aside if they so desire; the setting has a limited oriental influence.

The mountain kingdom is a vast realm of snow-covered peaks and steamy jungle valleys, as well as cave networks carved by rushing rivers and flowing lava alike. Though today royal cartographers argue that it is an inaccurate oversimplification, the region has traditionally been divided into four quarters. Five hundred years ago it is said that the Northlands, Eastlands, and Westlands were each the home of a great civilization while the wild Southlands held only savage tribes of humans, orcs and goblins. But little is truly known, for in each century that followed one of the Three Empires fell to the Necromancer Lords. It was two hundred years ago that elven colonists from the far south persuaded the survivors of the three empires and the denizens of the Southlands to band together against the common enemy. Seventy years of battle followed, until at last the encroaching hordes of constructs and undead were repulsed and scattered and the Necromancer Lords themselves vanquished and slain. The Mountain Kingdom was founded by the leaders of this great alliance in the wake of their victory a hundred and forty-six years ago, and since then the survivors of the war have in equal parts rebuilt, reclaimed, and created a society together. An era of relative peace an prosperity has tenuously maintained itself; now some say a new era is upon us, one of change and discovery. Perhaps this is true; or perhaps, as others say, it would be better for the dark secrets of the Three Fallen Empires and the Necromancer Lords to never be uncovered...

Read all