The Sandmen of Padasar

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There's more that I want to add to this primordial, but I wanted to post it anyway. What I like so far is that the Sandmen serve as something close to the original elementals summoned by the summon elemental spell. The sandman will do its masters' bidding. It is strong and powerful. Being immune to fire and heat also comes in handy.

More than that, the plane is an attempt to be different. In a future post, I'll expand upon the plane and its other inhabitants. Enjoy!

The plane of Padasar is unique amongst all the known planes for three distinct features. The most disturbing is the presence of earthquakes. Due to the nature of planes in the Astral Sea, it was believed that earthquakes would not occur. Another distinctive feature is the Hashimi Column. The column is an extraordinarily tall mountain that purportedly marks the exact center of the plane. The last distinctive feature is the non-linear flow of time. Visitors to this plane may encounter the Column at only ten thousand feet high on the first visit and find it later at the height of ten to twenty miles.

The sandmen are semi-intelligent creatures that favor areas near hot springs and volcanoes. They lead solitary lives traveling over Padasar in search of food or taking shelter from the weather.

The life of a sandman is driven by two sensations, hunger and satiation. Their main diet is cinnabar ore. It some places it lies on the ground, but it can usually be found about three to four feet below the surface. The sandmen use a shovel-like tool to dig up the ore, using their tremendous strength to break larger ore deposits into pieces small enough for them to eat.

The sandmen have soft flesh and blood of mercury. Their skin produces a small amount of lime, thus serving as the origin of their name. This lime helps them to process their food to retain as much mercury as possible. Digesting cinnabar ore causes them to produce sulphur dioxide  as a by-product. Due to the intense heat generated by digestion, they suffer no ill effects from heat or fire. They stand almost eight feet tall with very broad shoulders and blank features. Two white eyes glow from their eye sockets. Their wide mouths provide the illusion that they are smiling all the time.

Once in their lifetime, a sandman will reproduce. In preparation, the sandman will eat as much food as it can. After falling into a deep sleep, the sandman will split into two. When both sandmen awake, they will travel in two different directions.

When they die, they return to the place of their birth, usually near the Column. Their bodies quickly decompose into mercury.

Refining the Arcanist

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A note before talking about the Arcanist again. I had planned to do more about mecha in this post, but the combat system isn't testing well. Essentially, my attempt to do mecha combat without minis is confusing. I am not a minis person, but I may need to concede that mecha combat is much easier with them than without them.

Why the shift in focus? It's not really a shift but more of an 'aha!' moment while re-reading my notes for inspiration. At one time I had wanted to convert all the d20 spells into their OpenD6 equivalents. Using the spell creation system in D6 Magic and Vade Mecum Magic seemed simple enough that I thought the project would take a couple weeks.

D&D Magic, though, is quite resistant to being easily categorized in such a way. I know that converted almost all the spells to the Hero System. He seems to have run into the same issue I have when attempting to convert Air Walk (I couldn't convert it either). When you build spells based on effect, it is difficult to separate Air Walk from Levitation though in a prosaic sense, the difference is obvious. Sure, both lift you in the air, but one is like gliding up and down an invisible elevator, while the other is like walking on invisible stairs.

Vancian  Magic  has certain characteristics, most notably, that it "... is no science, [it] is art, where equations fall away to elements like resolving chords."  I also like the description that it is like putting a demon in your head. In attempting to differentiate the Arcanist from a Mage, I thought about how an Arcanist approaches magic.

Primarily, a skill-based mage would approach magic like any other craft. There is a base knowledge that must be attained. There are specialized tools used to ply the craft. New knowledge is built upon the proven knowledge of what came before. The mystery of magic for a skill-based mage comes from exploring what is unknown. Once a spell is known, it is no longer a mystery - it is a ritual that can be reproduced as often as desired.

Does this mean that an Arcanist would never sell his soul to a demon for more power? Absolutely not. Everyone is tempted to take shortcuts. An Arcanist, over time, will be able to craft tremendous magic. After a lifetime of study, his/her power will be quite formidable. But if there is a way to have all that power without the lifetime of study, well... you can see where the demons come into play.

What does this mean in game terms? At its simplest, a points system coupled with a completely different (from D&D) method of magic research. An Arcanist can make potions and wands, but the manner and costs will be very different from a mage. Spell research will also be different in that variations of a similar spell will cost much less for an Arcanist to research. An arcanist may be able to cast a spell more than once, but he/she has a greater chance for failure when casting.

The base skill level to cast a spell at 1st level is 11. Per Andras convention, a roll of 11 or less would indicate the successful casting of a spell. A roll of 12-19 and the spell does not work and the Arcanist loses 1 spell point. On a roll of 20, consult a yet-to-be-created Critical Fumble table.

The base skill is modified by the level of the spell and any other conditions the GM believes is appropriate. 1st level spells add five to the base skill. In other words, a 1st level Arcanist must roll a 16 or less to cast a 1st level spell. After that, spells become much more difficult per the table below:

Spell Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
Adjustment 5 -1 -7 -13 -20 -27 -34

Except for Experience Points, here is the Arcanist Progression Table.

Level Hit Dice (d4) Spell Points Abilities
1 1 6  1st level Spells
2 2 12
3 3 23 2nd level Spells
4 4 40
5 5 56 3rd Level Spells
6 6 83
7 7 110 4th Level Spells
8 8 147
9 9 184 5th Level Spells
10 10 231 Create Spell Stores*
11 10+1 278 6th Level Spells
12 10+2 335
13 10+3 356
14 10+4 387
15 10+5 449 7th Level Spells
16 10+6 485
17 10+7 516
18 10+8 552
19 10+9 558
20 10+10 569

*Spell stores are special magic items specific to Arcanists. Spell stores allow the Arcanist to store spell points in an item. These stored spell points can be used instead of using the Arcanist's spell point reserve. These points will also allow an Arcanist to exceed the maximum spell points usable per day, though an Arcanist can only use one spell store at day. The amount of points that can be stored is equal to the Arcanist Level times five. For example, at 11th level, an Arcanist can store 55 spell points in a spell store.

The points will last until they are used or until the item is destroyed. Breaking the item will not cause damage, but the spell points stored within the object are lost. When an Arcanist drains the last spell point from a spell store, the item disintegrates. Spell stores are not rechargeable.

Tomorrow or Thursday, some example spells for the Arcanist as well as the Spell Creation tables.

How the Worlds Tie Together

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This is post 199. More about the history of this site in the next post.

For now, this is about how the various worlds of Andras tie together. In some ways, this is sparked by Vincent Florio's post about mixing Sci-Fi with Fantasy. Where it differs, however, deals with how the rules for various settings can work together.

Lorica is about mechs and/or tanks and Tiezerekan is about space fantasy. A far future setting has some elements in common with space fantasy, namely interplanetary travel. More than that, both setting rely on creating various ships and other craft to accomplish goals. Lorica has many classes of mechs, air ships and the colossal drop ships. Tiezerekan has many classes of space craft to explore, conduct trade, transport and fight in wars.

The idea behind Andras is to provide one system to make craft for both worlds. While it may require some amount of abstraction, I really didn't want a lot of hand-waving to be part of the process. I want something straight-forward with lots of options that doesn't bog down players that just want to get started.

More than that, I want a system that also connects with Dweneyarda. High fantasy vessel making? Sure. Sooner or later, you may want to create naval vessels. When the system is complete, I also hope that the rules can incorporate generation of medieval-ish artillery, golems, and other magical creations.

Let's start with making mechs/tanks for Lorica as a part of this walk-through, we will re-create the Loanza light mech:

  1. Choose a power source.The Loanza uses a fusion engine with a power rating of 1300. It has a mass value of 12. (This is important later)
  2. Choose Shields, Armor, Weapons, and special attachments.Everything has a mass and power usage score. Both of these scores affect the amount of drain on the power source. There are trade-offs that make the game interesting.In Lorica, Shields directly benefit Armor Class, making a mech more difficult to hit. The more powerful the shields, the more power required. Shields do not weigh much, but because of the high power requirements, too much shielding can leave little power for weapons and movement.The Loanza uses Rating 6 shields providing an AC bonus of 6. The power drain is a relatively low 31 points and the mass is 2. These numbers are important later.

    Armor uses no power, but has a high mass. In Lorica, Armor provides the Hull points. One point of armor costs 1 point of mass. The Loanza has a lighter amount of armor, 60 units of armor costing 60 mass points.

    The pilot is a special attachment. The space for the pilot costs 3 power points and 3 mass points. Another special attachment could allow space to carry infantry, but that won't be used for the Loanza.

    Weapons have varying values for mass and power. Lasers use a lot of power, but have the greatest range. Missiles costs very little power, but have limited range. Slug thrower do great amounts of damage, but are quite massive.

    The Loanza has the following weapon systems:

    Weapons Range Power Mass Damage
    Form III Laser
    20 10 4 8+1d8
    125mm Slug
    15 6 47 28+1d12
    SR Missiles(12) 6 2 15 1d12 x 6
  3. Now for the math to calculate the movement rate and the Hull points. Optionally, the rough size can be calculated as well as the total cost.Here's what we have so far:
    power mass cost
    Engine 1300
    12 650000
    Shields 6 31 2 30000
    Armor 60
    60 3000
    Pilot 1 3 3 300
    Special Att 0 0 0 0

    Form III 10 4 72000

    125mm 6 47 218000

    SR(12) 2 15 30000

    52 143 1003300 8

    First we'll calculate the movement rating:
    Start with the Engine Rating (1300) and subtract the total power points for the shields, weapons and other components. In this case, all systems drain 52 power points. 1300 - 52 = 1248.

    Now divide the subtotal by the total mass points dropping any remainder. The total mass points for the Loanza is 143. 1248/143 rounds down to 8. A movement rate of 8 means that the vehicle can move 8 hexes per round.

    Now to calculate the Hull points:
    In Lorica, one unit of armor provide 12 Hull points. It is assumed that the armor is a futuristic alloy. 60 times 12 equals 720 Hull points.

    For estimated size, I use a unit of volume I call a ton. It is 1000 cubic feet or a 10' x 10' x 10' cube. One mass point equals one ton. Since the Loanza has 143 total mass points, it is 143 tons in size. This is 143,000 cubic feet. It is about the size of an oil tanker.

  4. With these numbers, provide a good description of the vessel.

How could something like this apply to Tiezerakan or Dweneyarda?

Tiezerkan vessel would use similar engines. Keep in mind that a 1300 rated engine in one world is not necessarily equivalent to a 1300 rated engine in another. In Tiezerkan, vessels are moving at speeds hundreds or thousands of times faster than tanks. However, to keep the math simple, there no need to create a master table of engines, use the same ones. For crossover, simply come up with a conversion rate.

Weapons in different settings will vary in damage. A GM may decide that weapons do absolute damage. For example, a 17th century cannons may only do 1d4 Hull points of damage as opposed to the large values of damage for Lorica weapons. Tiezerakan weapons may be a factor of 10 or 100 times more damaging than Lorica.

A GM may also decide that weapons do relative damage. A 17th century cannon may do 1d10 Hull Points of damage in a fantasy setting, but very little if brought into another. Again, if you do crossover, create a conversion factor.

You may decide to assign different numbers of Hull points per one unit of armor depending on the material. Steel may be 8 Hull points per unit of armor, for example. Wood may be 6 Hull points per unit of armor. A GM could define as few or as many materials as desired.

Special attachments vary considerably. Mechs do not need living quarters or galleys, but interstellar vessels do. Some settings may not have energy shields like Lorica. In each setting, special attachments are better defined.

Lastly, a ton may not be the same in every setting. In some settings, a ton may be a 5' x 5' x 5' cube or 125 cubic feet. In others, it may be thousands of cubic feet. Like engines, relative values help to simply things. I have not found a need to do this, using this system, I have re-created a 16th century Portugese Nau with close to real-life values.

After post 200, some more concrete examples of this system in other settings.