More Thoughts On House Rules

The 30 Day Challenge was a lot of fun. It also acheived the main goal which was to get most of the creative ideas out of my head and into type. It's true that the posts did not require anything new, but looking through the old notes, I realized that there were still lots of things I wanted to create.

A good example comes from the post about shemping. I wanted to create a Dragon Disciple class that basically makes a cleric/priest type of class evolve into the power equivalent of an ancient dragon at higher levels. I also enjoyed shemping other creatures as humans - it makes for truly interesting NPCs.

The big project, though, that I want to create is my book of house rules for S&W. If the execution matches the concept, it will look like a cool combination of Blackmarsh and Stonehell set in Pars Fortuna. In reality, well, it may look like yet another retro-clone fantasy heartbreaker. After that, I'll need to work up the gumption to run a G+ game with it.

To get a good idea of the outline, I turned to Stars Without Number. Kevin Crawford to doing something awesome with taking what is essentially Basic D&D and creating worlds around that system. The outline he is using is easy to understand for players and GMs. So here is my SWN inspired outline:

Creating a Character

Roll Attributes

Choose Homeland

Choose Class

Choose Race

Buy Equipment


Movement and Encumbrance

Character Advancement

Spending Wealth


Saving Throw Mechanic and Its Uses

Turn Undead Table and Its Uses

Combat (Mundane and Supernatural)


Eldritch Wizardry

Wyrd Sorcery

Studious Alchemy

Divine Miracles

Powers of the Hermetic Mind

Magical Research and Specializations

The Four Regions

Life in the Four Regions

The Eternal Struggle

The Role of Supernatural Beings

Deities and Other Beings with Godlike Power

The Universe

The Starting Planet

The Other Planets

Spheres and Other Universes

The Multiverse

The Astral Sea

Other Dimensions

The Outer Planes

All Creatures Great and Small

GM Resources

Starting Adventurers in A Different Region

The rules begin with the individual and work their way into larger and larger scope until you reach the GM, the one about it all. The idea is for the rules to expand from personal perspective to how the world works (systems) to how magic works, to the continents, planets and spheres of the universe before expanding out to the multiverse.

Creating a Character is pretty much by the book. Choosing a homeland asks the character to be from somewhere within the psuedo-European region of the world. It provides some grounding for everyone starting out. Class choices actually differ by region, but more on that is covered at the end of the book for GMs where all the player and nonplayer classes are listed.

Adventuring provides some information that characters face in their exploration of the world. I give XP for exploration, so a section of how that works in adventuring seems necessary. Outside of that, mechanics for encumbrance and other mundane aspects of adventuring are covered.

The Magic section deals with the five types of magic. Within each type are multiple ways of using that magic. Mages can be traditional vancian mages, five-color mages, talisman makers. Wyrd Sorcerers fill in a miscellaneous spot. This would include shamans, theurgists and other types that are difficult to classify. Priests operate like Priests of Different Mythoi from 2e, so some examples are provided. Alchemy is the traditional name for my Hewcaster. This class steals the essence of things and make wondrous items. Hermetic Magic is my term for psionics, this owes more the western tradition of the Hermetica that speaks of enlightenment, the mind, the cosmos and nature.

Common to all magic, is specialization, a focus for a spellcaster that determines his/her success in understanding magic.

Beyond that, everything is GM stuff that may or may not be used. Wish me luck.

Let Me Tell You About Spelljammer

The primary reason that I love Spelljammer so much is that it provides an in-game reason to mix together elements of multiple settings, genres, and ideas. Our high school group rotated GM duties and having Spelljammer allowed us to add and remove just about anything. The overpowered laser pistols from the last adventure?

They only work on the planet you just left. Considering that you are being chased by half of all organized crime on that world, going back isn't really an option. You might get a decent price from the Mintakans† - they tend to be less discerning than the Arcane.

Then there was the third group of Gith followers, the Githxaren. They were neutral in the struggle between Githyanki and Githzarei. They drifted in and out of the Ethereal Plane quietly building a peaceful homeworld away from the mind flayers and the other Gith. Since they were based off the Githyanki and Githzerai in Fiend Folio, they basically had the same limitations, but they also had a druid-paladin type of class that I have since lost to time and several moves.

On the home world where all the PCs began before heading off into space,there was one mech from Battletech, an ancient Atlas that had just enough energy to launch either one shot of the PPC or a short-range missile. I put it there to battle the Tarrasque if the players managed to wake it up. (They never did.)

I had my minotaur cleric from Krynn, but others had human fighters, thieves and magic-users that wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. There were worlds with all sorts of odds and sods from all over. Yes, I had the giant space hamsters, gnomish ships (though I claimed that they were from Krynnspace). The name Iuz was thrown around a lot as if Greyspace didn't have enough issues with an evil demigod. There were time travelers, grey aliens and even Voyager I (though the PCs never found it).

If that wasn't enough, then a trip through the Phologiston would bring you to Space 1889 (Thanks Polyhedron 73-74!). There were zat (SJR4 Practical Planetology) found here and there in every sphere. You could find scro and nilbogs just about everywhere, whilst orcs and goblins were pretty rare. Did I happen to mention the phraints and the planet of the gorilla bears?

We Get It: Spelljammer is Gonzo

Well there is that, but I didn't always run it that way. Some adventures were  cargo missions and many were just exploratory. Things really didn't get really weird until we all went to the Outer Planes. The point is that I felt free to add things I liked, but I had a convenient way to remove things from play if I needed to. In some ways, it was like continuity in the Doctor Who universe - The Great Paradox is that there is no Great Paradox.

I overthink settings quite a bit. Recently I posted about generating a reason for Clerics to use maces instead of edged weapons that required a rewrite of ancient history where mankind skipped the bronze age due to a lack of copper. This further necessitated that the universe uses tin pieces and that copper pieces are used the way most people use silver pieces. Once the iron age came...

I can get lost in all of that because I want something to be internally consistent and passingly logical.

With Spelljammer, elements of the universe simply exist without explanation or reason. You could try, but why bother?

Who built the great Spelljammer ship? While you spend time in the Library at the Nexus of the Multiverse answering that question, we're just going to throw a lasso around it and see if we can steal it.

Why do the Arcane sell Spelljamming Helms, but not other advanced technology? You still buy from them? Those has-beens are outclassed at every turn by the Mintakans†. Besides, the Mintakans are more fun at a party.

So gravity goes to the center of the ship in most spheres, but there is no gravity in others. What's up with that? Your biggest concern is finding a sphere where air envelopes don't work. We got plants all over the ship just in case, but that only buys us 15 minutes of air. If we find one of those spheres, I think we'll throw you off the ship first.

With the ability to move in three dimensions, how can a ballista be an effective weapon in ship to ship combat? You just took 8 hull points of damage from an accelerator. The scro have magic missile guns on their ship. Shut up and load your cannon. We can't take another hit like that one.

How can making things in a planet-sized forge move a ship? Can you really take a giant hamster seriously? You didn't mention that all ships are shaped like animals, except a human Tradesman ship. Don't get those, they're Maneuverability Class C on a really good day.

The setting wasn't perfect - I disliked that mages were the only pilots. Even with that, the game was fun. Crawling around in dungeons are fun, too. I like a good hexcrawl and trips to unknown planes, too. Spelljammer represented to me an escape from Gygaxian Naturalism and Jacqauy-ed dungeons. After a session or two of Spelljammer, even if there were no laughs, I found it easier to enjoy the "real world" of a more typical fantasy world.

So there you are, I talked about Spelljammer for an entire post without drifting off into the ether. Next time, I get to talk about the d12. Oh the d12...

† I don't remember the name of the trading rivals to the Arcane. Since they were loosely based on the Orion Free Traders in Star Trek, I took the name of one of the stars in the Orion constellation as an easy way to reference them.