ACKS and Electrum Pieces

Gamer ADD and ACKS Development

I continue to plug away on my ACKS Psionicist and I'm happy with where things are going. I've had positive feedback on the psionic combat system. It feels more streamlined and can handle up to four simultaneous combatants. Wild Talents as Proficiencies works well. Higher level play comes with building Academies. Higher level play also features Rituals. They are similar to ritual spells for mages. Psionicists can create dorjes as psionic item similar to mage scrolls. High level psionicist can also create Astral Constructs (this doesn't function like crossbreeds, but is an equivalent ability) and generate Thralls (equivalent to a mages that choose to become necromancers).

Thralls are interesting because it grants the psionicist complete control over an individual or creature. A thrall is not mindless, but they cannot act contrary to their master's wishes. This ability opens up many possibilities for play. For example, a thrall could be a local government official or even the King! A psionicist may decide to make an entire village into thralls. The truly ambitious could make extraplanar creatures into thralls thereby manipulating the politics of the Outer Planes. Outside of politics, though, the use of thralls allows a psionicist to generate an army fairly quickly, especially armies comprised of the typical minions of evil (ogres, orcs, bugbears,etc). Every soldier is not a thrall, but the commanders most certainly would be. In fact, one of the psionic creatures in the bestiary does this quite frequently.

Psionicists themselves can help a party in many different ways. The most easily recognizable way they can assist the party is through their utility. In some ways they function as a mage, albeit with some spells that are just weird by comparison. Some of the psionicists' powers allow the character to temporarily gain a couple Thief abilities like Open Locks and Hide in Shadows. They can even do a bit of minor healing. The other major way they help the party is that they are the best equipped to deal with extraplanar creatures and truly alien encounters. Although I don't include ancient technology or lasers and things in the documentation, if you have them, the psionicists will be the best equipped to handle it. They are masters of the weird. In some settings, they would make a great alternative to a Swords & Sorcery wizard.

What does all this have to do with Gamer ADD? What started as a custom class has turned into something much larger. It will take me longer to finish than I thought. To do the class right in ACKS requires stronghold rules (thus the academies). To do psionics right requires a bestiary (and the phrenic scourge at a minimum.) Astral constructs were not in the original idea, but I've added them as a higher level option. My gamer ADD wants to also add rules for automatons as well. Automaton would be kind of like golems with limited construction materials and a weight limit. Otherwise, they are designed to be mobile psionic power platforms. They are okay bodyguards as they can move and fight on their own. For their real abilities, though, they need the psionicist nearby to activate their powers. One of their cool powers, if I decide to finish them, would be their usage as a means to teleport very large distances. One could be placed somewhere in the astral sea, another planet, or half way around the world, but because of the powers infused in the automaton, the psionicist can teleport to it with relative ease.

Mostly, though, I feel like defining the role of the psionicist is most important. In the earliest drafts, psionicists were more like anti-clerics. They had the same powers as Clerics, but instead of receiving power through devotion to a deity, their power came from an inner source. It makes for interesting role-playing that the Cleric in the party may not like the Psionicist. It occurred to me that if they are simply Clerics with a different power source, that I am just making a class similar to the Bladedancer. Since I am aiming for a fifth core class, this doesn't feel correct. In later drafts, the psionicist role was simply to be the second string fighter, thief, cleric or mage depending on what the party would need. That's not really a role, though. That's just saying that this new class is a combination of the other four classes. Again, this isn't a fifth category, but mashup of the other four.

So I've chosen to define the psionicist an alternate spellcaster solves problems through powers that morph the manifester's body or control the actions of others.The psionicist is very direct in getting what he or she wants. If the manifester can't transform himself into something to address an issue, he can directly manipulate others to do it for him. Psionicists tend to be direct in combat at lower level, but learn to use their unique powers at higher levels. They are able to inspire those around them through the force of their personality. They are also acutely aware of the reality of the multiverse behind what can be experienced through the five senses. It isn't unusual for a psionicist to connect with extraplanar creatures or beings on other planets. They are rarely surprised. As they advance in levels it becomes almost impossible for a psionicist to experience shock, awe, or horror. The psionicists sees himself as the conduit between the world most people experience and the reality that actually guides the multiverse on its course. They can go anywhere, be anything and change reality.

I really do hope to be finished with the supplement this week. It will be fairly rough, but I want to get it out rather than spend the time on editing. Until then, work continues.

Electrum Pieces

Game Chef 2011

The ingredients for Game Chef 2011 are now published. They are:

  • daughter
  • exile
  • forsworn
  • nature

There is no way on earth that I'll be able to generate a submission, so I'll present my idea here for anyone else to develop. Give credit or take credit, I'm okay either way. If there was a legal way to *not* claim copyright I would. The closest thing is Creative Commons:Zero, but even that has issues. So, I'll try using plain language: you don't need my permission to use this idea, even if you use the whole thing. I claim no rights to it and I never will. Besides, it's not like it is a fully-formed idea anyway, so anyone using it is still doing a lot of heavy lifting.

That being said, I decided to focus on Shakespeare's daughter, Judith. A comparison was made between her and Miranda from The Tempest in one of my favorite graphic novels. Instead, I want to make comparisons to Hermia in a MidSummer Night's Dream. Hermia is involved in a nested love triangle due, in part, to the interference of Puck. So, let's have Puck interfere with Judith's marriage. Taking incident's from Judith's real life, Puck is trying to prevent the marriage of Judith and Thomas Quiney at the behest of William Shakespeare (not Oberon!). Puck causes the letter requiring a special license for the marriage to be lost, thereby generating threats of excommunication for getting married too soon after Lent. Puck also appears to Thomas Quiney as a woman named Margaret Wheeler. Using the drops of a magical flower, Thomas is beguiled into publicly kissing the disguised Puck. Later, Puck and other fairies arrange for the story of Margaret's death to circulate just ahead of the wedding.

The other attempt for Puck to interfere actually happens first chronologically.  Puck, at first, attempts to make Judith fall in love with Richard Quiney, Thomas' brother. During this attempt, Judith becomes aware of the fairy's interference. Puck becomes aware of Judith's own otherworldly abilities when the drops of a magical flower do not work on Judith. Because of the death of Hamnet, Judith's twin, she has the ability to communicate with her dead brother. As a result, she is not affected by any of Puck's magic directly. Hamnet's limited ability to see the future also helps her reasonably predict Puck's actions.

William Shakespeare does not want the marriage to happen because of the mistrust he harbors toward the Quiney family. He entreats Oberon to become involved, as Oberon is Judith and Hamnet's real father. Oberon, seeing that Judith truly loves Thomas Quiney, decides to teach William a lesson. Instead of becoming directly involved, he offers the services of Puck to be directed as William pleases. Oberon, knowing that Puck will invariably mess-up whatever the Bard asks him to do. What Oberon does not know is that William will die shortly after the marriage is supposed to take place.

In the game, events are not so scripted. Basically the two players take the part of either Judith or William. Each character has an objective and they use whatever means they have to meet that objective. Judith Shakespeare's objective is "Get Married to Thomas Quiney". The Bard's objective is "Stop the Marriage of Thomas Quiney." William has the supernatural services of Puck as well as various connections derived from his fame. Judith has the supernatural services of Hamnet plus the various connections Susanna (Judith's sister) possesses through Susanna's husband, Dr. John Hall. William begins play with more power and money, but loses it steadily as Puck makes mistakes. Judith begins with less wealth and ability, but steadily grows in power as the game progresses.

Puck has the supernatural abilities to appear as any person, use three doses of a love potion, teleport, throw his voice, and imitate any voice.

Hamnet provides the supernatural ability of limited precognition and to detect lies,falsehoods and forgeries. As play progresses, Hamnet also gains the ability to directly attack Puck (the result means that Puck is not able to preform any one action). Hamnet can also briefly appear as any person. Hamnet's abilities are limited as he can only affect the real world a number of times before returning to the spirit realm. Judith is resistant to all fairy magic and she eventually gains the ability to teleport one time.

The game ends when the marriage will not occur or after the ceremony is over.

As a wildcard element, a third player may take the role of William D'Avenant. He is the son Oberon arranged for William to have to make up for the offense of fathering Judith and Hamnet. His objective is "Use the events around the wedding to write his own play." D'Avenant can either be played like the character of Iago, using his power to destroy the lives of William and Judith or as Pandarus, looking to make both William and Judith happy. D'Avenant has access to Puck and Oberon. He can get Puck to do something for him if he can convince Puck that it will help prevent the wedding. He can ask small favors of Oberon provided that he can convince Oberon that his actions will allow the wedding to take place. In addition to these powers, he has access to his own ability to mimic voices and use conventional disguises to portray any role. (Unlike Puck and Hamnet, it will take D'Avenant some time to get into costume.)

There you have it. It may not be a good idea, but feel free to use it, if you can use part or all of it. Good luck to everyone in the contest, I can't wait to see the results.