Changing Feeds

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I realized that with my Statis-Pro Football post earlier that I setup my feeds incorrectly on the Old School RPG Planet and the RPGBA.

I have fixed the issue so that only RPG articles will appear in both places. Although it is well after the fact, I hid my Statis-Pro post in the RPGBA feed before making the correction to the feed itself. My apologies for any annoyance this created.

Although the Joesky tax technically doesn't apply, here is something to actually add RPG content:

When thinking about spell points for the Arcanist, I originally looked to the Magus Divlantia section of the Net AD&D Players Supplement (written sometime in 1995 and edited in 1996). The formula for starting points is (((2*INT)+CON)-30) /4. The formula for points gained every level was (((2*INT)+CON)-30) /7. In the example of the Arcanist I gave earlier, I had assumed an INT of 16 and a CON of 12. Following the formulas, he started with 4 points and gained 2 points every level.

In the end, I simplified to INT bonus + CON bonus + 2 as the initial points and INT bonus + CON bonus every level after that. It calculates the same as the other formula. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of a little math. It just is simpler for newer players to use numbers already on the character sheet and perform simple addition.

I still believe I need to tweak it to generate more points. If a different idea tests well, I'll be happy to post about it here.

If you want to test it out, basically download the OpenQuest developers kit and look at chapter 9 about sorcerors. Use that spell list and Magnitude table for spells. Use the simplified formula above to calculate spell points. I would post it if I had it written in a better format than some crawled notes on a printout.

 

Arcanist Update and NPC Idea

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Back in January, JD posted this gem about an RPG mashup. It appeals to the part of me that likes to provide the unexpected to folks like me that have been playing for years.

In Andras, I mentioned the Arcanist Class a while ago, and then instantly regretted its poor execution. Testing has proven to be positive for the new and improved Arcanist that is based  on OpenQuest's Sorcery rules (with a touch of Battle Magic). OpenQuest's skill-based and spell point sorcerers are working out pretty well. The only difficulty lies in determining spell points. I can't seem to find that happy medium that prevents lower level Arcanists from being too powerful and allows higher level Arcanists to be greatly feared. The idea of basic spells that can be increased by expending more points is exactly what I wanted. The Magnitude table of effects provides a compact way to describe what powering up a given spell will do. The spell list is complete and allows Arcanists to be very distinctive spellcasters in the D&D world. Throw in a dash of Gygaxian Spell Names, and it could be something fun for your OGL game.

One of the spells in OpenQuest is Animate (Substance). This is actually a category of spells because an OQ Sorcerer has to learn a different spell for each substance. For example, Animate Earth is a different spell from Animate Wood. In an attempt to flesh out the Arcanist class more, I came up with an Arcanist that specializes in the Animate (Substance) and Form/Set categories of spells. For simplicity of reference, let's call him Tim (or more properly in lingwa de planeta, Faihonaboh). So far, I have Animate Earth, Animate Stone, Animate Bone, Animate Steel, Animate Water, Form/Set Earth, Form/Set Stone, Form/Set Darkness. He also has the Create Magic Point Store and Create Spell Matrix spells.

The important skill Tim possesses is sculpting. A successful skill roll for sculpting allows him to form various minions to do his bidding. Not all of them are humanoid in shape, so some of his constructions perform unique tasks. For example, the stone spheres of various sizes work to take intruders off their feet. The more humanoid shaped minions can hurl un-animated spheres as weapons. Why is this important? Once major limitation of the animate spells is that only one or two animated objects can be controlled at a time. That's why he can created a number of spheres that can alternatively be animated or thrown by other animated object. Form/Set Steel allows him to repair swords and shields. The Animate Steel spell allows him to animate suits of armor. The Animate Earth spell allows him to manipulate earthen embankments in all kinds of bizarre ways like having a giant hand come out of the earthworks can throw would be attackers or defenders.

Note that he doesn't have the blacksmith skill, so he can't really manufacture weapons and armor, only perform minor repairs. According to the Andras proficiency system, anything can be attempted by rolling 3 or under with a d20. With a 15% chance of success, this prevents him from becoming a wholesale weapons and armor manufacturer. Maybe, I could allow making a steel shield, but nothing like a sword and definitely not chain mail.

Those are just the military purposes, but other are available as well. A small stone structure can be animated to assist the occupant. In other words, tables spontaneously form from the floor for mealtime, create an opening for a window, wall-up the door, etc. You could even have the house get up and walk away to a new location. Animated stone ladders can be used in a scroll repository. Being fairly small, it would use only one or two spell points to raise/lower or move around. Oddly enough, you could even get your steel cutlery to chop vegetables and help prepare meals.

With so many spells, I figure that Tim has reached 80 percent with his Arcane Skill. This translates to rolling a 16 or under with a d20. Just like 2e, though, this represents casting in an extraordinary situation. When Tim can take his leisure to cast a spell, he do the equivalent of taking a 10. I also figure that he is around 12th level or so.

Based on my current point system, he has 26 points to invoke spell effects. Invoking any of the Animate spells for a human sized creature takes 14 points, but lasts as long as he maintains concentration. The stone spheres take only 2 points to animate for the larger ones and 1 point for a smaller one. This doesn't include the form/set costs because we're assuming that the objects he wants to animate have already been created. This seems like he is limited in spells at this point, but the effect of Create Spell Matrix, allows him to store animate spells in certain objects. This means he could create a few of these devices in advance to animate pre-made objects. With the sculpting skill, he could certainly create any number of statutes, humanoid and otherwise. With the Animate Steel spell, he could also use empty suits of armor. Using a few Spell Point stores, he could also spontaneously animate and form/set any other figures he may need.

Still, despite the ability to store spell points in advance, the points feel too low for a 12th level spellcaster. I have the feeling that the arcanist should be able to animate and form/set at least one human-sized object before draining his power points. I like the flexibility of the arcanist at this point, but I'm having trouble with the points to use. I still need to settle on a table that determines what a 1 point effect does compared to higher point effects. I have a good idea based on weight, but want something that would include length, area, information and other variables. Any thoughts are welcome.

 

Comparison of Classes

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One of my favorite authors for Dragon Magazine was Paul Crabaugh. For the handful of articles he wrote for D&D, I always appreciated his Class and Monster Generators. One the stated goals for Andras was to have a similar class creation system for DMs to use to better customize their world.

In 2e, a system was presented, but it states very plainly in the beginning that existing classes cannot be re-created using this system. In fairness, the same was true for Crabuagh's Customized Classes In Dragon #8. In some ways, it never felt right that I couldn't just re-create existing classes.

After a few months of experimenting with various systems, the conclusion is that the xp numbers are largely arbitrary. That may not be a surprise to anyone, but I thought that there might be a way to get reasonable close to the numbers, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.

Oddly enough, I can reach the numbers exactly for Basic Fantasy. Just not anything similar to 2e.

In the various experiments, there was a tension between the value of combat prowess versus the value of magical access. If combat was undervalued, the warrior group gained levels rapidly and the rogue group tended to have too many skills for the same xp levels. If magic was undervalued, there was little incentive to be a magic-user.

So as I wind down to a final version of the class generator, I find that Priests and Psionicists have the same XP progression level. Personally, I like that because I tend to characterize Psionic characters as anti-clerics. In other words, in function, they appear to generate magic in the same way, the difference is the source. Priests gain power from a deity and a psionic character gains power from within. It serves to make the psionic characters a persecuted group and also allows for deities to grant more anti-psionic miracles.

However, when the specific mythoi options for priests are used, their progression is a bit faster in my customized class system than a standard cleric. The main reason is that a specific mythos priest has access to half of the miracles that a cleric can access. In 2e parlance, that 8 schools with major access and 1 school with minor access versus 3-4 schools with major access and 1-3 schools with minor access.

The effect is not as pronounced with mages versus specialty wizards because of the bonuses that specialists gain.

In case you are wondering, my system makes the standard 2e paladin need almost 3000 xp to reach second level. Needless to say, I'll probably end up re-doing the paladin anyway. I want a battle priest/paladin/avenger class where alignment isn't so much a restriction as the specific deity served.

Maybe most surprising of all may be the fact that psionic powers are the most expensive form of magic.

I hope to have the generator ready in spreadsheet, pdf and php format soon. If anyone is interested, I will be happy to share the current working spreadsheet. I would upload it to the site, but it changes daily as I crunch numbers.