Fighting Off Nerd Projectitis

A quick note to add to yesterday's post about platform.

I hope that providing data files will also help to create other applications to help with G+ Games, Maptools or any other online system. I prefer in person games, so I will probably work on things that make good use of a netbook or laptop.

Again, I believe that if anything of Andras is used, it may be certain interesting subsystems like the d20+d10 non-weapon proficiencies and background skills that add a non-game altering, minor boon. An example of the minor boon would be a character that rolls the background of chicken-butcher. The minor boon is the ability to use a meat cleaver as a weapon without penalty. The cleaver does 1d4 bludgeoning damage per hit.

If a character with this background becomes a mage, they have a weapon proficiency that doesn't seriously throw off balance. They still only have 1d4 hit points, they can still only do 1d4 damage, they still have a crummy THAC0. A creative player, however, can use this as a centerpoint to the mage's descent into madness or make it a humorous skill at camp time.

Chicken again?

So, I have gained a weapon against my nerd projectitis - I've been cut off from Google Reader for most of my day, now. I have no access to Twitter to speak of and my G+ usage is on the way down. This means I will be focused on creating content, the slogging part of the content.

This is where I make the monster descriptions, spell descriptions, classes, kits, random tables and the like. The combat rules need a good walk-through. Weapons need to be assigned speed factors. The OpenD6 spells need to be converted and examples of spell creation worked out. I need to write a better description of the five archetypes (Warrior, Priest, Mage, Rogue and Psionicists) and the classes that fall under them. The psionic combat system needs a simplification. Heck, the psionic power list need to be finalized. On top of that, I need to finalize the XP awards for exploration.

Lots to do, for sure. All of these items have been started, but now it's time to finish.

If I can post half as much as +Tom King, I think I'll be doing well.

I'll still post about the primordials, because they replace golems and elementals in the Creature book. I hope to write about the Anabe, a myconoid's distant cousin and their main adversary, an anti-fungal creature that uses it strange magnetic powers for locomotion. I also hope to develop the cyberorcs for a Blackmoorish encounter in the Southern sub-continent. Bwahaha.

The Sandmen of Padasar

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

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 killershrike.com 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.