Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Westcrown Plot Seeds

So I've been looking for these for awhile but haven't found anything on the internets so I decided to stretch my imagination and make some myself.  I hope you find some use for them.  As always if you intend to use these please let me know in the comments section below.  That way I get to feel all proud and stuff.

1. The Hunter's Horns is a small group of young nobles who truss up a tiefling, pitch in together to pay the 'murder' bribe to the Dottari, and then release him into the most inhabited Rego Dospera an hour or two before nightfall where they promptly hunt him down and kill him. If they can't get a tiefling, they get a human convict and glue goat horns to his head.

2. The Silver Breath is a ghostly disease that is said to strike those who live by the river in the Rego Dospera. The wasting sickness is said to be created by the touch of shadowy women, perhaps ghosts, perhaps shadow beasts in their own right, and it slowly destroys a person's mind over the course of a night. The only symptoms are silvery, visible breath and weakness of mind.

3. A halfling slave has inadvertently overhead his master's plan and knows he will be executed to keep the silence. He's fled his home and now the Order of the Chain are after him.

4. A struggling businessman (perhaps even the PCs) is being beset by additional charges and fees in the hopes of pushing him into bankruptcy so that a richer merchant might take his home for a pittance and purchase him as a slave - to keep him running his own business under new managements so that the richer merchant might take his earnings for himself.

5. An enslaved gnome opera singer has been brought to Cheliax and kept in such dull, and repetitive, surrounds to encourage the Bleaching. While the opera itself is lively, there are only so many renditions before it grows dull to a gnome, and patrons keep flocking to see the same show, year after year, hoping that this one will be the gnome's last.

6. Miserisongs have come into vogue with the Chelish paying top dollar to have slaves sing songs of misery straight from the heart - particularly unique creatures like Aasimar, Elves, and Undines. The trouble is that a few of them have started becoming bards with a unique archetype that grants them the ability to inspire suicidal ideation.

7.  A Patriarch's daughter fears her marriage to a Lawful Evil but very important nobleman and wishes to find a way out.  However she also doesn't want to shame her family by disappearing on them.  She feels torn and is desperate for a way out.  If she doesn't find a way, she may well try to kill herself in a way that can be brushed off as an accident (which may be how the PCs meet her).

8.  A shadowy underworld figure is controlling a small conspiracy to gain power over a number of different bandits.  The character uses Disguise Self and other illusions to try to manipulate the adventurers into achieving his goal - even to the extent of killing an ally and then using his likeness to manipulate them.

9.  A group of weaponsmiths, armorers, alchemists and merchants are selling goods to the nonhuman rebels who are hoping to regain equality by wiping out key humans - as well as a bunch of regular citizens who happen to be in the way.  Will the adventurers assist their explosive schemes or work against it?

10.  One of the townswomen is so distressed that she throws herself off a bridge.  The following night another sets herself on fire.  The third night one falls from a building.  These events seem to follow the PCs and people start thinking that they are somehow cursed.  In truth its a demon (or perhaps a devil) who is upset at how the PCs have damaged its schemes and so is finding a particularly cruel way to plot their demise - by lynching.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Seducing Your GM's Creative Brain

We all want to be amazed when we sit down at the table to play.  We want to be immersed in a rich and exciting world that doesn't get in our way (too much) yet still makes an impact.  We want to deal with intriguing and varied NPCs, drive a story that excites us, and possibly learn something new as well as (let's face it) have a chance to either be kick ass and empowered or cathartically exploring a disempowering situation (sometimes even a mix of both).  We want a lot, really.  Most of all, though, what we don't want is to be bored.

Sure every players' interests are different and each players' boredom thresholds are different as well.  I'd be climbing up the walls if I had to cope with a dungeon bash where the creatures come thick and fast and combat (perhaps a few traps) are the bread and butter.  You might adore that but despise weirdly nonsensical horror settings where the atmosphere is so thick it could choke you and survival means a hundred different brands of stealth.  We might have a bit of trouble if we're in the same game but if we're not than it hardly matters that the minutiae of our preferences are so different.

What matters is that our GMs are feeling creative, stimulated and innovative.

How to do that?

Well, one thing's for sure ... don't drain those reservoirs by making them spend more time troubleshooting than being inspired and planning ahead.  Deal with your own issues with other players by being tactful, assertive and willing to compromise.  We need to help each other balance the limelight and not get in the way of vital pieces of plot that one person might enjoy more than the other.  Why not send Little Miss Stealthy in to the building alone to do something that seems simple when the GM indicates its a worthy option?  Why get between Mr. Combat Brawler and his guilt free bashing of some thugs by shooting in the air and scaring them off?

Also, why run away from the plot (rather than the creatures) when a tweak or moment of bad judgement on your character's part could set them irrevocably on their course?  Why not help another character make that leap as well by pointing out why it should matter to them?  Sure realism and character immersion is important but every hour of character corralling on your GM's part is going to be a brain drain.  Calculate whether that hour of plot fleeing is really worth it.  If it really, really is (and sometimes, such is life) then go for it but perhaps make it easy next time.

So now that we've gotten What Not To Do out of the way, let's look at the positives.

Firstly, what makes your GM's eyes light up?

During the next session, actually sit back and pay attention to that.  Is it when you pick up that notepad to go over the old clues?  Is it when you have a eureka moment?  When you described that awesome spell in all of its gesture-word-effect glory?  When you helpfully mentioned a rule that the GM was about to look up?  When you admired the prop they provided?  When you stayed in character?  When you happily bantered out of character?  When you provided your own miniatures, pencils, dice?  When you shouted everyone pizza?  When you actually donated dice, miniatures or even a book to the GM's cause (gaming is expensive, after all, especially for GMs)?  When your characters got along?  When your characters fought?  When your character had a little freak out moment in the corner?

Next of all, what does your GM talk about when they talk about games?

Some GMs will talk about the convoluted plots from their old games - they're dying to have you really roll up your sleeves and get investigating, politicking, asking all those questions.  I mean, they're bubbling over with all of these old plots they may not have had a chance to reveal.  When you get a peek at it, they get to make more plots!  When you don't uncover any of them, they have all of these old murky plots stewing and being boring.  The same thing can be the case about exposition.  Show interest (you may need to set boundaries so you're not swamped) and they'll build you a better world.

Some GMs will talk about neat combats, spell-tactic-equipment mixes, cool descriptions, and fantastic imagery - such as the last time you mounted a giant bee rather than killed it and used your powers to force it against the enemy.  That's what they want.  They want you to be larger than life.  They want to be able to imagine the imagery later on.  They want you to get excited by the combat, to sit down with the book of feats or fighting styles, and to weave together a scintillating experience out of your encounters with their monsters.  Show your interest and they will craft better encounters.

Some GMs will talk about character growth.  Your characters are their Sims though instead of manipulating them around a scene they manipulate the world around them and see how they react.  Welcome to the petri dish!  They'll talk about that time Jo had a BSOD moment when he failed to reach his daughter in time.  Or about that really neat argument the two characters had over who really killed that monster.  Or how the grizzled character actually ended up having a soft spot for orphans.  Give them more of those moments and they'll start thinking about how to get the most out of your character.

GMs will generally talk about a variety of different parts of their campaign but pay attention to see what they enjoyed and how much they enjoyed it.  Bear in mind, though, whose leading the conversation.  If another player won't be quiet about, say, cool roleplaying moments than the GM is bound to talk about them even if that's not what excites them the most.

And remember that when a person is satiated is when they're most generous.  Just like giving your combat-loving pal a chance to beat up some vampire minions means he's more likely to sit back and let you interview a suspect to pick up some extra clues, so to does letting your GM get what they want make them far more prone to giving you more of what you crave.

So how about you guys?  How do you seduce your GM's creative brain?  Or if you are a GM - what seduces yours?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fantasy Class: Alchemist

Dhampyr Alchemist (Lightning - Final Fantasy XIII)
Campaign World: Fianyarr.

Purpose: There are those among us who understand the hidden truths of the world and thus couple mysticism with science to accomplish great things.  These people aren't afraid to determine the difference between the occult and the scientific, often painstakingly cataloguing their results, as while magic often produces more incredible effects (though not always), science is more replicable and can be sold to others who don't have quite as much esoteric knowledge.

Not every alchemist spends their time researching in their labs.  Some make a point of exploring the world as botanists, anatomists, archaeologists and anthropologists, eagerly trying to determine how the world works and how best to understand it.  Some focus on the sciences of the earth or the mysticism of the stars and, though alchemists often have the generally undeserved reputation of hoarding knowledge, they often come together to share their specialised knowledge in district universities and journals.

Blessings of the Tome

Impeccable Craftsmanship: An alchemist has spent so much time building their own tools and coping with reagents that they are general experts with craftsmanship.  They gain a +2 bonus to Crafts rolls to create objects and can spend 1 Glamour to reroll failed dice on a Crafts roll. Changeling Artist kith: core rulebook page 121.

Brewer: The alchemist sometimes has to sample their own wares and some even make a point of building up their tolerance for poisons in case they make a bad batch.  Due to this they gain +4 dice to resist poisons and intoxication.  Perhaps because of this fact they can spend a point of Glamour to make a drink alcoholic.  It would be a bit expensive to get drunk otherwise.  Changeling Brewer kith: core rulebook page 121.

Technical Expertise: Alchemists know enough about the hidden properties of objects that they can improve a tool simply by spending a point of Glamour to provide the object with a +2 equipment bonus for a scene.  Changeling Smith kith: core rulebook page 122.

Way with the Written Word: Alchemists spend so much time with books, treatises, and essays in a multitude of languages (often quite archaic) that their own ability to write improves as well.  Alchemists gain an 9 Again on Expression checks when writing and can spend a glamour to roll Wits + Academics to understand any written texts in a foreign language for a day.  Changeling Author kith: Winter Masques page 95.

Class Restricted Mechanics

Restricted Class Merits: +Acid / Alkaline Recipe (*), Crafters Sense (***), EOD (**), Entheogenic Synesthesia (*), Eye for the Strange (**), Familiar (*** or ****) Informative (** or ****), +Magic Nitro Creator (**), Mystic Speech (*) (Custom: +1 bonus to psychic powers and rituals when spoken), Natural Medium (***), Relic Analyst (*), Scientist's Sense (***), Subtle Liquer (***), Technophile (* or **), Toxin Resistance (**).

Rituals: Alchemy (external) (** or ****), Alchemy (internal) (** or ****), +Animate Object (***), Countermagic (** or ****), +Transmute Into Water (**), +Discern Composition (*), Dream Travel (***), Familiar (*** or ****), Geomancy (***), Healing (****), Longevity (*****), Psychic Projection (****), Sacrifice (Spirits or Ghosts) (*), Scrying (***), Second Sight (***), See Auras (**), See Spirits (**), Soul Jar (** or ****), Warding (***), or Visionary Trances (** or ****).


Magic Nitro Recipe: Alchemists with the Magic Nitro Recipe merit can create 1lb worth of Magic Nitro for every ten successes made on an Intelligence + Science checks.  Magic Nitro is very unstable and is prone to exploding if jostled or, especially, if dropped.  It deals 3L worth of damage for a two foot radius.  This increases by 1L and one foot for every 1lb of Magic Nitro that explodes.  Each roll to make Magic Nitro takes half an hour.

Acid / Alkaline (Recipe): These mundane chemicals can made with an Intelligence + Science roll.  It takes 5 successes to create 1 ounce of weak acid / alkaline (1L), 8 successes to create 1 ounce of moderate acid / alkaline (2L) and 12 successes to create 1 ounce of strong acid / alkaline (3L).  The acid can deal an automatic amount of damage equal to that listed but they don't stack in multiple attacks as once a person is doused it takes time for that damage to sink in (though the damage itself isn't staggered).  Each roll to make a ounce of this takes half an hour.  Every additional ounce of acid / alkaline in a bottle can cover an additional two feet in splash damage and potentially could strike another individual.  Only one dose of acid or alkaline can be used against a person in an hour no matter how many people are throwing it.

New Rituals

Transmute Liquid
Prerequisites: Alchemy **
Effect: The alchemist can turn  a single common liquid into another common liquid - such as from milk to blood or tree sap to water.  Each success is roughly equivalent to 250 grams or 1 cup of liquid.
Dice Pool: Wits + Alchemy.
Minimum Successes Required: 1 success.
Ritual Length: 1 minute per roll.
Duration: Permanent.
Cost: 1 Glamour.
Suggested Equipment: Performs this task in an astronomically significant time or location (+2); Uses the flame from a candle made from the fat of a magical (nonsentient) animal (+2).
Suggested Penalties: Lacks a makeshift alchemy kit (-5); complex liquid (-2); liquid conversion is between two highly different liquids (-2).
Ritual Details: The alchemist uses the distillation apparatus from her alchemy kit to turn one form of liquid or liquid vapor to another form of liquid. 

Discern Composition

Prerequisites: Alchemy **
Effect: The alchemist can perceive the fundamental makeup of material structures which allows them to discern their composition, weight and density.  This allows for both prosaic uses such as to investigate coin and determine if any gold is present or to locate poison in food.
Dice Pool: Wits + Alchemy.
Minimum Successes Required: 5 successes.
Ritual Length: 1 round per roll.
Duration: 1 scene.
Cost: 1 Glamour.
Suggested Equipment: Three clouded steel mirrors (+2); Using a powerful magnifying glass (+2).
Suggested Penalties: Lacks an alchemy kit (-1); Using regular glass in place of the magnifying glass (-5).
Ritual Details: The alchemist places the three steel mirrors so that they each reflect each other and then sets a candle down in the middle upon a drawn diagram that represents Understanding the Material.  The alchemist then places the magnifying glass in the middle and intones special words of power that causes the glass to float.  For one hour after the ritual is successfully completed, the magnifying glass can be used to discern the material composition of anything seen through the glass itself.
Animate Object

Prerequisites: Alchemy **
Effect: The alchemist can cause an object to animate which involves both movement and the performance of simple actions as well as a very rudimentary artificial intelligence according to a single command at any one time.  The object can move only those parts that could be moved externally.  Therefore a doll with articulated limbs, stuffed animal, or blanket could become animated yet a stone statue could not (at least not with this spell.  The object obeys the person who cast this spell and ignores all others.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Alchemy.
Minimum Successes Required: 1 success per point in size.
Ritual Length: 1 minute per roll.
Duration: 1 scene.
Cost: 1 Glamour.  1 Willpower dot to make it permanent.
Suggested Equipment: Ruby (heartstone) dust (+2); Bonemeal from a magical beast's corpse (+2).
Suggested Penalties: Lacks an alchemy kit (-3); Alchemist is distracted or stressed (-1 to -3).
Ritual Details: The alchemist grinds up mandragora, rare clays and ochre that is used to form a paint which may then be used at any point within the next 24 hours to mark the object that the alchemist wishes to animate.   If a person is sacrificed with their blood and bone meal used to make the clay which paints the object than the object has the artificial intelligence of a dog and can be trained to follow a number of simple commands - including to attack.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fantasy Animal Companions

Animal Companions can even be birdies.
(The Witcher)
There is a proud tradition in both fantasy and reality for people to attach themselves to animals.  Most animals can be found in the World of Darkness and Mage: the Awakening core rulebooks as well as the Skinchangers and Blood of the Wolf supplements.  I won't recreate any of them though I am open to ideas for other species or animal types to include.

All Animal Companions are blessed by their connection to the descendents of the First and thus have double their health levels just like the mortal races.  Normal animals who are not companions do not gain this benefit and have the normal health levels found in their entries.  While some of the animals listed here aren't domesticated in the real world there is no reason why you can't come up with a variation that is.  Perhaps a reptile called the Staccato Dragon is the domestic form of the Komodo Dragon (bonus points as the players will likely expect an actual dragon but the fire from this one's mouth is more the burning sensation of disease).  If you'd like to read more articles from the fantasy world building that inspired this, you can't find it here.

One Dot

The canonical examples for a one dot animal companion are a pet dog (link here); owls (Mage the Awakening, page 316), fox (Blood of the Wolf, page 89, Stamina 3 and Size 2 rather than that listed); toad (Skinchangers, page 39), cat (link here); deer (Skinchangers, page 45); hawk (use Raven statistics from WoD page 203), bats (WoD, page 203), or ferret (link here).

Two Dots

This includes the linx or bobcat (link here), attack dog (WoD, page 203), snakes (Mage the Awakening, page 316), or a horse (WoD, page 203).

Bare-fronted Hoodwink
The Hoodwink is an incredibly quick bird that moves at thrice its expected speed that causes it to have a blurred appearance.  It tends to avoid being seen and tries its best to dart out of sight - seeming to have an almost uncanny ability to sense when it's been noticed.  Use the statistics for the raven but allow it to spend a point of glamour to triple its Species Factor for a scene so long as it is flying at full speed.

Three Dot

This includes the cheetah (link here), puma (link here), wolf (link here), alligators (link here), sun bear (link here), chimpanzee (Skinchangers, page 49), or a skillful horse (WoD, page 203, but with an extra point in two skills it already possesses, Fleet of Foot 3 and Fast Reflexes 1).

Shrike Cat
This feline is covered in hair-like thorns with some long spines extending from its legs and an armored and branching tail.  While not particularly harmful toward humans, it can be spotted by the slashes on cacti made at night which would then be returned to in order to drink the fermented juice amid wild shrieks.  It has the same rules as a bobcat but its spines do an extra point of lethal damage and it has +2 to its Intimidation score due to its shrieks.

Four Dot

This includes lions, leopards, and jaguars (link here), crocodiles (link here), komodo dragon (link here), brown bear and black bear (link here).

Five Dot

Tigers (link here but add 1 Strength, 1 Size, two Athletics, Brawl and Stealth specialties), elephant (Skinchangers, page 44), or Kodiak, Grizzly & Polar Bears (link here).

Are there any I've missed that you would like to see included here?  Let me know and I'll have post a variation up here or create one from scratch.  If you've already developed one, feel free to post it in the comments section below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fantasy Race: Aasimar

Campaign World: Fianyarr.

Nicknames: Sweetlings, holytouched, angelics.

Origins: There are otherwordly creatures who are sweet, compassionate and gentle with the children of the First.  Such creatures sometimes save and protect small communities and have even fallen in love with individuals and spent the mortals' lifetime by their side.  There are many tales of such beings and though they can all look quite different their offspring with the children of the First look rather similar.

Appearance: No matter the appearance of their supernatural parent, the offspring are all winged children with strangely coloured eyes, gentle voices and silky soft skin.  Sometimes the aasimar may show other signs that are more specific to their parents but such signs are often quite subtle.  An aasimar's hair can also maintain and grow into rather strange hair styles (think anime hairstyles).

Demeanor:The aasimar feel their conscience and passions quite keenly and this can lead to either a lifetime of kindness or cruelty, depending on their circumstances.  One thing is for sure, no aasimar manages to live a normal life as they must reconcile their passions by helping the innocent or scourging the world of cruelty.  This often puts them into the path of danger as they often draw the attention of authorities for good or kill.  Most aasimar find a way to cope with their boundless levels of empathy and compassion.  Those that don't often become terrors indeed as they seek to solve the world's suffering by killing everyone on it.

Relations with other races: Other races often find aasimar to be a mixed blessing.  The realisation that one has been born into a community is often a cause for joy (presuming it wasn't the result of a cheating spouse), however, aasimars not only have a need to be needed but they feel the pain of others quite keenly.  This can make them quite outspoken in telling people when they are being mean, callous, or closed-minded.  Naturally this can make them vocal reminders of other people's flaws though they can also be a great friend in a pitch.  Due to this they are often trusted members of a community whose words carry a lot of weight though the societies that surround them often try to protect them from the harsher truths of their community.

In crueler lands, aasimars are killed at birth due to their perceived risk to the social order as their keen sense of right and wrong can drive them to start a rebellion.  Such governments often cite the admittedly rare but very high profile cautionary tales of aasimar who decided to save the world through tyranny, genocide or destruction.

Weakness: When the player is choosing an aasimar's virtue they should determine what aspect of that virtue is most important to their character.  As an example, an aasimar with the virtue of Hope might have subsets of children, widows, lost dreams, or the depressed.  When an aasimar is confronted with an issue that tugs on their particular subset of virtue they must either act upon it or spend a Willpower point.  If they are out of Willpower, they lose nothing by refusing to act (though the temptation to act is doubtless greater).

Racial Abilities

Attribute Bonus: +1 to either Stamina or Resolve.

An aasimar can spend a point of glamour to glide through the air for up to a minute per point of Wyrd at their normal Speed though they may not exceed their carrying capacity of Strength x 25lbs total while they do so.  Whenever an aasimar falls they take a point of damage from every 15 yards fallen rather then every 10 (Changeling Windwing Kith: core book page 103).

Peacemaker's Stance
Sometimes an aasimar finds it beneficial to be able to talk to someone who is trying to strike them without punching back as, naturally, people tend to listen even less when you're in the process of bloodying their nose.  An aasimar may triple their defense when making a Dodge action (Changeling Skitterskulk Kith: core book page 102).

Peace from Suffering
The aasimar can spend a point of Glamour to prevent anyone from suffering any wound penalties within a 15 yard diameter for a single scene. (Changeling Di-cang Kith: Winter Masques page 108).

Kiss of Life
An aasimar can provide a little protection to someone, much as their otherworldly parent may do, by kissing a target and spending a point of Glamour to grant that target a +2 armor bonus (+3 if the target is prepubescent) for a single scene.  This can be done once a day.  This bonus stacks with existing armor (Changeling Weisse Frau Kith: Winter Masques page 109).

Racially Restricted Merit
(****) Disenchanting Kiss: Once per adventure an aasimar can spend a willpower point and kiss a person to allow them to make a second re-roll against any one kind of enchantment or compulsion effect.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Flashpoint: Oh, to be or not to be an actor

Our intrepid heroes return to Westcrown – the very place they fled at the start of the campaign – and seek out a few options to fulfil their quest.  Proteus hears rumours of the nobility hunting paupers in the ruined side of town as well as a bounty on the heads of Shadow Beasts from a shadowy figure.  He finds that the Delvehaven Lodge has been locked down and warded by House Thrune’s officials.  Alyssa, their tiefling rogue, suggests that they don’t enter just yet until they learn more of these wards.

Proteus also hears of a murderplay in production which is seeking actor-adventurers and which would likely provide access to an important gathering of nobles as well as  attend the casting call for the Six Trials of Larazod in order to get access to the Mayor’s home – which would doubtless provide access to information on Delvehaven and which might even grant them a lead on the pauper hunts.

After all, in a much earlier session they gain the flags and insignia of a minor Chelish noble adventuring family that died out in Taldor but which few know about their destruction.

So they all disguise themselves as Chelish people and gratefully look about their ship which is crewed by people from all around the Inner Seas and has quite a small proportion of Andoren people.  They then go and front up to the theatre to try out for their roles.  All my players rolled Perform (acting) – except for Proteus whom I allowed to use Perform (oratory) – and had to roleplay reading out Larazod’s lines according to their role.

Lhye rolled a 12 and did a reasonable job though he was still a ham actor.  Lunjun rolled a 4 and simply read it out in a monotone that caused Proteus to rip the script out of his hands.  The director, however, demanded that Proteus – due to his impatience – read last and thus Archer had to read it next.

Archer did it with gusto but with a distinctive whine to his voice (another low role) yet thought he was brilliant and accused Proteus (who again ripped the script away) of not knowing anything about art.  When the director insulted him, Archer became churlish and rude though the poor director was at his wit’s hand and couldn’t throw him out.

And thus the various characters were cast through the selection process (detailed in the Adventure Path: The Sixfold Trial) with Lhye as Dentris, Proteus as Larazod, Archer as Drovalid and Lunjun as the paladin whose name I have forgotten.  I offered the players an extra 3000xp if they actually spoke out the lines and they did so with relish.  There was much laughter at some of the absurdities of the plot – such as the main character, Larazod, being such a Gary Stu that everyone quickly came to adore him.

The line the paladin made about how his own God’s goals were doomed if Asmodeus’ followers were more like Larazod especially cracked me up as such a Gary Stu line.  Still it was all in good fun.

As my characters are all Level 7 there wasn’t much risk with the actual monsters though the troll skeletons still gave them a whirl since the wizard could only cast spells shared on the paladin list and the gunslinger had to use a sword and the witch couldn’t heal.  It was mostly the traps – flukes, acid baths, etc. – that whittled away their health levels.

All in all a fun game from a fun adventure.  I very much recommend looking it up for all those Pathfinder fans out there.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fianyarr: 15 Common Relics

What fantasy world is complete without magic items?
These relics were designed for use in the Fianyarr campaign world but that doesn't mean you can't work them into a regular World of Darkness campaign though you may need to update them to sow the seeds of horror as these ones are of a more fantastical variety and thus don't have much in the way of drawbacks.  All Common Relics can be picked up by anyone but don't make the mistake of thinking that these are somehow common in Fianyarr.  Every magical item should feel like something special.

All relics require the expenditure of a point of glamour to activate them and some also require a Wyrd + Skill roll that will be listed in their description.  Unless otherwise specified, the activation roll is reflexive and the effect lasts for a 24 hour period.  The tells listed are just examples and the Storyteller can feel free to mix and match them or invent their own.  Remember, though, that while relics can be bought at character creation with creations dots, they are generally given out as free rewards or provided at certain vendors at the Storyteller's discretion and therefore if players wish to obtain one of these they need to follow the legends same as everyone else.  On the plus side, players don't need to expend experience when they do get their hands on such relics.

One Dot Relics

Flashbang Arrows
When this arrow strikes a target here is a loud sound (generally a thunderclap though different arrows use different sounds) that forces the struck individual to make a Wits + Resolve roll or be stunned and inflicted with a -2 penaly to their next action.  If the arrow can be found and retrieved from the body then it can be reused.  Tell: The arrow pulsates with a soft luminescence when activated with a point of glamour.

Stunning Arrow
This one shot arrow does damage as normal but it also sends out a jolt of electricity that requires the person struck to make a Stamina + Resolve action (difficulty is the same number of successes as the damage dealt) to avoid dropping any held item. If the arrow can be found and retrieved from the body then it can be reused.  Tell: Those who touch the arrow head experience their hair standing on end even when it has not yet been activated. 

Allweather Clothing 
This is normally a shawl, cloak or coat and provides an additional +1 bonus to all checks made to survive inclement weather.  The wearer only needs to spend a point of glamour once per month to activate it.  Tell: The fabric has a symbol for weather sewn into it somewhere and always feels comfortably warm to the touch.

Two Dot Relics

Steady Horseshoes 
These horseshoes, when activated, allow the mount to ignore up to two points of environmental penalties from the make up of the ground (i.e. snow, slick roads, scree).  If the mount wouldn't normally wear horseshoes then it could be a bridle or a saddle.  This item can't be used with other items labelled 'horseshoes'.   Tell: The horseshoes seem encrusted with slow or glistening with fluid.

Cloak of Everwarmth OR Cloak of Evercool
The character is immune to effects caused by either the heat or the cold while the cloak is active for a number of hours equal to successes made on a Wyrd + Survival roll.  While temperature extremes still feel unpleasant they won't cause either penalties or damage.  Tell: The cloak seems to feel either warm or cool to the touch in spite of the weather so even an Evercool Cloak that has sat out in the sun for several hours will feel cool to the touch.

Stability Boots
These boots prevent a character from being stunned or knocked prone for a number of turns equal to successes gained on a Wyrd + Athletics roll.  Tell: The first step a person takes after putting on the boots seems to stick to the dirt a little.

Three Dot Relics

Bruiseless Bracelet / Bracer
This pair of bracelets or bracers allows a person to ignore any bashing damage caused during a number of rounds equal to the successes gained on a Wyrd + Survival roll.  Tell: This relic is engraved with the alchemical symbols of wood, metal and stone.

Cup of Sustenance: Adventurers often have to spend a lot of time away from home and during their various marches they've found it far more enjoyable to eat, or drink, whenever they like.  This cup can be used thrice per day to provide a gobletful (approximately 2lbs) of food or drink that can be warm, cold, and of whatever flavor preferred.  It can even taste and smell like alcohol although it can't reproduce any alcoholic effect.  The food produced is quite nutritious as well.  Tell: An everchanging scent of food and drink emanates from the cup.

Hedgespun Cloak of Protection: This cloak provides a +1 bonus to the character's Initiative, +1 Defense and the character's Speed triples for a number of rounds equal to successes on a Wyrd + Athletics roll.  However, it's easy to overshoot and therefore you take a -1 penalty on all physical actions (other than running).  Tell: The cloak often has a shimmer, glow, or other mystical effect - such as flapping dramatically in a nonexistence breeze.

Four Dot Relics

Ghost Slayer Weapon 
This weapon is capable of striking incorporeal creatures (ie hiding in twilight).  No matter what the size or type of the weapon it always deals 2L against incorporeal creatures though it may do more or less against physical targets according to its weapon type (i.e. greataxe).  This can be applied to a weapon with a smear of blood across the weapon and the expenditure of a point of glamour.  If applied to a ranged weapon it will allow ammunition fired from it to hit creatures or objects in twilight.  This lasts for a scene.  Tell: The weapon seems slightly translucent when activated.

Medallion of Vitality
The medallion allows the wearer to exchange one or more Physical Attribute dots to heal themselves or any person who is touching the medallion.  The Physical Attributes heal after 24 hours.  A single dot exchanged in this way can heal all bashing damage or three points of lethal damage.  Two dots of Physical Attributes exchanged can heal one point of aggravated damage.  Each dot sacrificed takes a single turn.  Tell: The medallion seems to reflect the light oddly and always has a greenish sheen.

Grappleslick Armor
This armor can be activated with a Wyrd + Brawl roll once per day to render the wearer immune to grappling attempts as their body seems to flex and worm out of the grip.  This lasts for a number of rounds equal to successes.  The armor also provides regular benefits due to a mundane armor of its type.  Tell: The armor seems to flex a little more with the person's movement and though this doesn't assist a person in wearing it, it can be a little disconcerting.

Five Dot Relics

Flaming Sword
Fire is often just the thing for removing supernatural (and, in truth, mundane) creatures from this world. Anyone struck with this sword (or, in truth, whatever weapon it is built into) takes an additional two lethal damage on a successful attack and is at risk of being set on fire (see the immolation rules in World of Darkness core rulebook).  This damage is aggravated against creatures who are allergic to fire though this doesn't affect the weapon's regular damage which remains lethal.  Tell: The sword has golden runes carved along a blade of red-tinged steel.

Bane Weapon
Every Bane weapon has a specified type of enemy (spirit, ghost, swamp monsters, corporeal undead) against whom it deals aggravated damage though it functions normally against every other race and species, dealing only lethal damage.   Tell:The sword has sigils about the type of enemy and the enemy creature's banes carved along its blade.

Slashproof Armor
This armor rebuffs any lethal attack that doesn't specifically target an exposed or weak part of the body (and there always must be at least one place as large as a hand left undefended even in full plate armor) and not only renders the wearer immune to bashing damage but also downgrades all lethal damage to bashing.  This armor works for a number of rounds equal to successes.  Tell: The armor has a particularly intricate and beautiful crest in the center of the chest.

Variable Dot Relics

(* to ***) Speedy HorseshoesEvery point of this merit purchased provides an additional +1 to the Speed of any mount that wears these horseshoes (or bridle or saddle) upon their hooves.  This item can't be used with other items labelled 'horseshoes'.   Tell:This relic has sigils for speed carved along its side.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Your GM In The Mood

The trouble with being a player is that it so often feels like a pretty passive process.  Sure your character is making important decisions but they're often in line with the party's needs and the GM's world.  You know on a cognitive level that your actions make a big impact but you don't often feel a sense of responsibility to the smooth running of the game beyond adhering to a few simple principles that keep the peace and ensure everyone's having a fun time.

This isn't generally a bad thing.  It aids immersion to just let go and play.  Besides, if you try to take a more practical and out of character guiding hand you might make things worse.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that.

But what happens if your GM just isn't in the mood?

Their energy just isn't what is used to be.  Their storytelling is getting a bit flat.  They seem only too happy to let out of character chit-chat drone on and on rather than impatiently champing at the bit to rein you all in and move on to the next exciting bit.  You find that the malaise starts to set in.  You can intuitively feel the subtle encouragements towards digressions.  You can feel that your GM kinda just wants to claim a headache and watch TV instead.

This isn't good.  In fact, its quite bad.  You ask your GM if they're feeling burnt out and they give you a lazy drawn out, "Naaaah," that doesn't sound as reassuring as it was perhaps intended.  You ask if something's gone wrong and your GM really can't think of anything much.  Sure there are a few issues they'd like ironed out ... but nothing they can really put their finger on.

They're just not in the mood.

So what do you do?

What can you do?

Step out of the Player Brain for a moment.  No, don't hop into the GM Brain.  Too many cooks and all that....  No, step into the Host Brain.  Your GM doesn't need a second party helping with the plots as they've probably got that covered.  Think about being a host.  Your job is to get everyone in the mood.

What is the mood, though?  Different moods have different requirements.  What is the mood meant to be and what is the prevailing mood at the table?

Let's presume for a moment that the game is meant to be playful and silly yet the actual mood tends to be tense and anxious.  Nobody wants the anxiety but that's where you are.  The game has suddenly gotten all serious.  Have a chat to your GM.  Was that what they were after and the players just haven't kept up?  No?  Then why did it get that way?  Maybe folks are bringing tensions in from outside of the game and there needs to be a thirty minute playful time before session to help them unwind.  Maybe folk just need a quick break and a dip into a one-shot that is really silly.  Have a think about it.  Broach the GM about it (tactfully).

"I've noticed the game has gotten pretty serious and tense lately and it doesn't look like that was what you intended.  If you want it to go back to being fun and frivolous, maybe we could try EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE or EXAMPLe and see if that works."

Try to bring it back to things that either you or the entire group can do.  Offering to put on a sock puppet show before each game is one thing, suggesting that your GM do the same isn't going to get you the best results. 

Remember that the main thing is to get your GM in the mood rather than to make things more fun for you.  Always keep that objective in mind.  It's so easy to slip into thinking about what the GM (or other players) could do to increase your own enjoyment since it's equally easy to assume that your needs match other people's and that what works for you will work for others.

If the in-game mood is a problem you could always see if there's something you can do in-game.  Talk to the GM first, of course, in case you're targeting the wrong thing and just exarcebating the problem.  Once you know what the issue is, mood-wise, make it easy for the GM to run the game.  If the GM is aiming for horror, maybe it'd help to play a vulnerable character who quails in the face of danger and yet doesn't run away from the plot.

What does your GM adore in their game?  Give them more of what they want.

They love to worldbuild but your characters are all about politics and backstabbing?  Show an interest in the world.  Ask about the history behind that sword.  Ask a foreign character about their history.

They love combat?  Keep the chit-chat to a minimum for a little while and focus on getting down and dirty with the violence and remember to use some awesome descriptions.  Also,, it always helps to know what you're about to do before it's your turn as well as how you're going to do it.  That way the turns move more crisply.

Maybe there's something about the room that's a total turn off.  Any seducer knows that its all about location, location, location.  Is there something you can do to help?  Could you make tea when all of the characters are sitting down to tea?  Could you bring flashlights to that horror session?  Could you bring along a music CD that could help set the mood?  Always remember to ask the GM if it's okay, though.  You want to be a help not a well meaning hindrance.

Make it less work for your GM to run a session.  Don't force the GM to spend the sessions corralling you and the other characters.  Go towards the plot for once.  Learn the rules.  Take down notes so you know what to do next session.  Help your GM corral the other players.  Don't leave it to your GM to shut down chit-chat when you could just, y'know, avoid it yourself and gently remind other players to go back in-character. Pay attention and put down the mobile phone, laptop or other distraction.

So ... what have you guys done to get your GM in the mood?  Or is your GM always in the mood?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dystopic: Sniper Curse

Oxford, London and Miami had stepped out into the real world laneway when they had come out of that room and they quickly connected with Tokyo and organised to go to South Beach to the address given on London's slip of paper. Dallas picked the trio up. London put on his joggers, Oxford went back to the bookstore to continue preparing defences (as his player wasn't around), Miami put on Hawaiian shorts and Tokyo wore a bikini, big red sunglasses and a huge hat, while Dallas just put on swimming trunks. Its a topless beach but London didn't bother complying and Tokyo wasn't about to go half naked. London also kept a gun in his hip holster which is fine in the futuristic Miami.

 Miami worried that the other two wouldn't be able to find there way back but there was nothing they could do because the verge wouldn't open for another 20 hours. They first went to grab a late breakfast at a kiosk where Dallas discovered that he couldn't handle even the mildly spicy food and the kiosk owners took pity on him and gave him a tomato to bite down on as well as a free icecream.

 As they crossed the beach toward the Delta Phi Party House (which is what the address turned out to be), London caught a glimpse of sunlight reflecting off a bit of glass up on a rooftop and knocked everybody down. The bullet grazed his forehead, dealing a couple lethal. The shot was silent, oddly so. Everyone felt their powers unfurl and evolve as their Lores became as flexible as Arcana.

Tokyo took off toward the building in question but her attempts to weave through traffic led her to bounce off the corner of one car that veered just so and smack off the bonnet of another. London double tapped a couple shots back at the sniper, hitting him. Miami teleported behind the man and managed to land stealthily behind him. It was as he pulled out his gun that the man heard (his near completely silenced sniper rifle meant he didn't have to wear earphones) and as the assassin turned he was seen to be a rather plain looking yet somewhat handsome man with sandy brown hair. The assassin spun around, dropping his head behind the lip of the building and quick drawing a handgun. He fired a shot at Miami that landed quite close to the heart (7 lethal) which on top of his remaining bashing left him with an aggravated damage.

Miami fell prone but managed to retain consciousness and teleported to a nearby building where he kept his head down. London watched the roof for a few more seconds before darting across the road after Tokyo, banging into a car himself, and then rushing into the staff area and up a set of stairs to the roof. By the time they reached the rooftop the man was gone but he'd left his sniper rifle set up. There were some blood stains near the gun but nowhere else. London took a look around the building, expecting perhaps he'd had a Muoi Kai rappeling set up but it turned out he'd used the fire escape.

They heard a motorcycle engine start up and London popped his wings and flew up over the laneway between the buildings, gun in hand. Tokyo ran to the edge of the building and cast a spell that affected the man's Lizard Brain to make him submissive. She then shouted for the assassin to stop, which he did, pulling his motorcycle around and simply waiting, staring up at her impassively. Tokyo and London ran down the fire escape. Miami found his own fire escape and limped down after them, healing enough damage to remove all three penalties.

As they approached the assassin, Dallas started creeping up on him but the man noticed and looked at him - causing him to back away. When the trio reached him, London cuffed him and Tokyo tried to question him but the assassin didn't respond to any of her questions. When they went through his pockets they found ID identifying him as Jack Kane. They also found a black notebook with their human names on it. The handgun he had looked identical to one of the guns found in the suitcase London had grabbed. Jack Kane's suit also looked like it had come straight from the 60s - a fact that Miami recognised.

They got Dallas to bring the van around and all hopped inside. Tokyo started trying to seek out information on him in the internet but didn't find anything much. London used CASEI, the AI downloaded onto his mobile phone from the British Intelligence Agency he now worked for, and CASEI found both an image match and name match with a historical record of an assassin who started work with the SOE in 1940 and whose last job was to assassinate an Italian atache to an ambassador in Russia in 1963. Jack Kane was noted for his "extreme emotional stability"(i.e. sociopathy).

Tokyo used Fate Sight and saw that there was some exceptionally strong sympathetic connection between London, the suitcase, and Jack Kane. There were lesser links between Jack Kane and Miami and another link that may lead over to Oxford. Miami used Postcognition on the notebook and found that Jack Kane was sitting in a cafe peering into a coffee mug. He then looked up as though realising something and wrote Oxford, Miami and London's name in his notebook before getting up and leaving.

Tokyo used her powers over Life to understand if the man had any cyberware but found none. Jack Kane's injuries also seemed quite weak considering the gun shot placements - suggesting he only takes very little damage from any particular source. Using Awareness they discovered that he was pretty much human ... but affected by an exploit in reality.

The trio discuss the situation and decide that the assassin would have to die. London wasn't looking forward to this as the man would need to be attacked multiple times due to the exploit. They take him back to their book store and go down into Oxford's basement. They each make their Conscience check but both Tokyo and Miami leave London to do the dirty work. London prepared to double tap the man to death when the assassin pulled his hands forward, revealing he was no longer hand cuffed. London still got the Initiative and shot him a couple times. The assassin tried to grab the gun and failed. London shot him twice more. Tokyo and Miami came rushing down the steps. Tokyo attacked Jack's life essence. Miami drew his weapon (accursed lack of Quick Draw). The assassin tried to grab the gun and would've succeeded if not for London's Weapon Retention merit (under Police Tactics). A final double tap from London sees the man collapse.

London, stunned by the whole thing, throws his hands up in the air and turns to leave before realising he should check the man's pulse. As he turned back, he saw the man start to rise and plugged him with all of the rest of the bullets in his gun. As the assassin dies, their Arcanum tighten up and weaken back to the highly specific Lores - much to the various characters' disappointment. London sawed off the corpse's head for good measure, took the bits, broke into a steel foundry, and dropped the parts into two different mixes (doubtless leading to the creation of a poorer quality metal). And that's where we left it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

60 Mundane Fantasy Jobs

Fisherman is a valued occupation.
Most people in Fianyarr won't identify themselves by class anymore than we identify ourselves by eye color. They have jobs and careers much as anyone else though over the course of the campaign they are likely to break away from this to go off on their adventures.  In order to encourage a more fully realised history, get your players to select a prior occupation that provides a little flavour and helps encourage the players to come up with a history for their character beyond Elf Bard.  If you want to know more, you can find the list of articles over here.

Animal Handler: You might have been a farrier who cared for horses, reared doves in a dovecote, looked after ravens or messenger pigeons for a message service, bred dogs to pull sleds or looked after hawks for the nobility.  Animal Ken Specialty: Specified Animal.

Ambassador: You have a heavy responsibility as the representative for your country or organisation and must do what you can to uphold that reputation in the public eye.  Politics Specialty: Reputation.

Apothecary / Herbalist: You dispense herbal and chemical remedies out of a stall, store, caravan or from the back of your own home.  People know to come to you with any ailments.  Medicine Specialty: Herbal Medicine.

Architect: You design buildings for a living and know how to incorporate both form and function into a design. Academics Specialty: Architecture. 

Artist: You have a knack and a lot of experience with creating tapestries, heraldry, paintings, sculptures or other fine art.  Expression Specialty: One of the above.

Armorsmith: You labored as an apprentice under an armorsmith and have specialised in the creation of various forms of leather and metal armors.  Craft Specialty: Armor.

Bathhouse Attendant: You work in the local bathhouse where people pay a small fee to get clean and are responsible for providing towels, drinks and soap.  The baths might range from simple cold water affairs to lounging palaces fed by hot springs.  Socialise Specialty: Put at ease.

Barber: While you cut hair and shave beards your sharp implements are also called up to assist with surgical and dental problems.  Medicine Specialty: Surgery or Dentistry.

Blacksmith: While you could turn your hand to armor, your focus is on those practical implements that so many people take for granted such as nails, horse shoes, and other mundane yet necessary items.  Craft Specialty: Metalwork.

Bodyguard: You've spent your life protecting the lifes of rich individuals who have a lot of enemies and have found that the best method of defence is frightening off any dangerous individuals.  Intimidation Specialty: Back off.

Botanist: You are fascinated by the myriad forms of plant life out there and make it your life's work to discover new species and catalogue them.  Survival Specialty: Plant Identification.

Caravan Guard: Its a dangerous world out there and its your job to help people transport goods from one town to the other without losing those goods to highwaymen.  Streetwise Specialty: Notice dangerous traveller.

Carriage Driver: You are responsible for driving a carriage or cart that is pulled by horses or other such beasts whether it is to transport people, goods or even livestock.  Ride Specialty: Carriage.

Cartography: In a world without GPS there is a need for someone to go out there and make the maps so towns can be placed, roads built, and territories understood.  Survival Specialty: Maps.

Chaplain: You have been invested with authority by a local religious institution and are responsible for providing religious services to castle servants or men at arms.  Empathy Specialty: Military Men or Servants.

Craftsman: You held an important job making a particular item.  You might have been a candlemaker, carpenter, clothier (made clothes for the nobility), cordwainer (shoemaker), jeweller, potter (ceramic maker), glassblower, or weaver.  Crafts Specialty: Specified by trade.

Cutpurse: You're the kind of thief that specialises in picking the pockets of distracted individuals.  Larceny Specialty: Distraction.

Cook: You could have been a baker, village cook, castle cook, inn cook or military cook.  One way or another, you know your way around an oven.  Crafts Specialty: Cooking.

Diplomat: Its your role to smooth the path for your paymaster to help them accomplish your goals.  Unlike an ambassador you can do it with a bit more discretion.  Politics Specialty: Campaigning.

Entertainer: You might have been a dancer, singer, juggler, musician, acrobat, or even a jester (using satire and foolish behaviour to mock the nobility in an entertaining manner).  Expression Specialty: Choose one form of performance. 

Escort: You might work on the streets or in a brothel.  You might sleep with your clients or simply keep them company.  Its a job and it pays the bills.  Hopefully.  Socialise Specialty: Seduction.

Executioner:You have the unenviable task of seeing people off the mortal coil.  Subterfuge or Intimidation Specialty: Expressionless.

Explorer: Your role is to visit uncharted places and find out what exists beyond what has been mapped or detailed.  Empathy Specialty: Foreign cultures.

Farmer: Without people like you there would be no food to trade and without that everyone would have to be either hunting or gathering to get by.  Still you don't get as much respect as you probably should.  Survival specialty: Farming.

Fisherman: You've found a bountiful crop within the sea.  Perhaps you fish from a boat, swim with a net, spear creatures in the shallows or dive for creatures among the sand.  Survival Specialty: Aquatic Hunting.

Footpad: You're the kind of thief that specialises in mugging people in alleyways or extorting businesses.  Intimidation Specialty: Stare, Growl or Fist thump.

Gambler:You make your money at cards or dice, likely through dodgier methods of such and often find it easiest to be underestimated as a bumbling fool.  Subterfuge Specialty: Incompetence.

Gardener: You have a responsibility to tend the gardens of your village or castle and have had to learn how to manage a variety of plants rather than producing a mass of the same plant.  Survival Specialty: Grow Rare Plants. 

Gatekeeper: You guard the gates to your home village to prevent smugglers, murderers and other creatures from entering your village without your knowledge.  Its an important job, if not a glorious one.  Larceny Specialty: Identify Smuggler.

Government Official: You are one of those many officials necessary for coordinating a large group of people.  You might work in the treasury, mayor's office, taxation department, or be a simple bureaucrat working for a nobleman.  Politics Specialty: Government Procedures.

Graveyard Keeper: You have a rather sombre role tending graves, building coffins, running the crematorium and otherwise showing respect for the dead.  Occult Specialty: Funeral Rites.

Highwayman: As you tend to rob from the rich - merchants and nobility providing the most reward - you often gain a more sterling and debonair reputation, which may or may not be entirely deserved.  Intimidation Specialty: Stand and Deliver!

Historian: You are excited by the past and have learned many techniques to find out more from ruins, local people, and texts to find out the history of a place or a people.  Academics Specialty: History (specify location).

Herald: Your role was to ensure that people knew important information.  This might be done by going to a known public place to shout out information to the masses or it could be as simple as standing by the door to a noble's ball and announcing the entrances.  Persuasion Specialty: Important Announcement.

Innkeeper: You might run an inn (place to stay), tavern (place to drink), brothel (place to ahem), or restaurant (place to eat).  Or perhaps you don't run it but you're on the counter often enough that most people treat you like you do.  Empathy Specialty: Good listener.

Labourer: You could have been a ditcher (dig castle moats and foundations), carter (transport goods on carts), porter (assisting the rich with their luggage), gongfarmer (emptying latrines and lavatories), laundress, dockworker or other heavy laborer.  One way or another, no one really notices you much and you keep your head down to blend in among the working class.  Subterfuge Specialty: Unimportant.

Lawman: Most places within Fianyarr are created with an empowered mayor and a sheriff's department that was assisted by the local militia (volunteers in times of strife) and watchmen (urban guards hired to patrol the streets at night).  Streetwise Specialty: Known Criminals.

Librarian: You have an important task in seeking out books on subjects nominated by your clients, customers or patron.  Academics Specialty: Book Research.

Magician: You entertain crowds of people with fancy movements that seem like magic and yet aren't magical at all - a fact that impresses people far more than mere magic would do.  Sleight of Hand Specialty: Magic Tricks.

Maid / Manservant: You may have been responsible for keeping the place clean, may have been a ewerer (fetched heated water), a valet (close servant to your employer), housemaid, kitchenmaid, butler or general manservant.  Socialise Specialty: Appease Rich People.

Matchmaker: You are known for your skill in putting together romantic relationships that work well together and suit the parents as well.  Empathy Specialty: Good Match.

Messenger: You have the vital role of carrying information to individuals or locations whether as part of a postal service or in a private letter.  Streetwise or Survival Specialty: Urban or Rural Routes.

Merchant: You sell things by trade, whether from the back of your cart, from a stall, store, or even from a chain of stores (though the latter is less common).  Persuasion Specialty: Haggle.

Midwife: You specialise in assisting pregnant women, women in childbirth, and babies survive those fragile times.  Medicine Specialty: Midwifery.

Military Officer: You might have been knighted for some daring deed, been an officer in the army or the navy, or perhaps hold an important position in the local guard and this has given you a better understanding of how the world works.  Tactics Specialty: Massed Forces.

Miner: You have spent enough time belowground in mortal-made tunnels to know the various perils that lie within.  Survival Specialty: Mines.

Moneylender: You worked in a bank or otherwise dealt with accounts and have a really good sense of money flow.  Academics Specialty: Accounting.

Nanny:You were hired to look after the children while their parents did whatever they needed to do.  You can take the specialty Children in Empathy, Intimidate, Persuasion or Socialise.

Natural Scientist: You wish to catalogue the various types of creatures you come across, whether insect, animal or mammal.  You might be paid to do this by a noble philanthropist but are more likely to be self-funded.  Survival Specialty: Identify Animal.

Nobleman: You were born to a life of luxury, albeit one with a lot of rules and responsibility attached.  You've never had privacy growing up and thus have learned to always keep your game face on while trying to understand other people's intentions.  Politics Specialty: Etiquette or Expression Specialty: Politeness.

Physician: You assist the sick whether by taking care of their basic needs in a charitable one-room institution, advising the government on plagues and quarantines, or assisting a noble family with their maladies.  Medicine Specialty: Disease, Poison or Degenerative Illness.

Prison Guard: Due to the nature of Fianyarr, death sentences are rare compared to prison sentences so you would likely have a number of people to deal with while keeping them working to pay for their keep.  Intimidation Specialty: Back In Line!

Rancher:  You have spent your days working a ranch where you've needed to ride here and there to ensure that the herds are alive and well.  Specialty: Type of Herd Animal

Religious Figure: You're are an authority in your local religion and are therefore responsible for shepherding a community toward the ideals and principles of that religion.  Expression Specialty: Sermon.

Sailor: You may work on a merchant vessel or a naval vessel and have learned your way to deal with the rigging, the rudder, and the other such details.  Drive Specialty: Ship or Boat.

Storekeeper: You sell other people's produce.  You might be a greengrocer, fishmonger, general store clerk, or something else but it all boils down to selling to customers.  Persuasion Specialty: This Is A Good Deal.

Snake Oil Salesman: You travel around Fianyarr selling items to guileless individuals desperate for a cure for what ails them.  You figure that you're selling hope so what's the problem if the hope doesn't pan out?  Subterfuge: Sure It Works.

Soldier:  You might have been in the army, the navy, or a mercenary force and have have been trained for war with a focus of moving in groups.  Tactics Specialty: Squad-based or Ship-based.

Teacher: Your role is to educate other people whether as a governess teaching children, a religious instructor, or a teacher at a school or a university.  Expression Specialty: Explain Facts.

Weaponsmith: You might have been an Atilliator (crossbow maker), Bowyer (bow maker), or a swordsmith but one way or another you made weapons designed to kill.  Weaponry Specialty: Type of Weapon.

So can you guys think of any more mundane fantasy jobs that should be included - whether as a suggestion under a current category like weaponsmith or under a whole new category?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fianyarr: Angelics & Demonics

Often angelics are guardian figures who advise communities.
The difference between Angelics and Demonics is the difference between a benevolent relationship with kindly ones and an ambivalent or sometimes malevolent relationships with others.  You see, most monsters in Fianyarr are unabashedly so.  This means that players never have to worry about if they're doing the right thing when they slay Redcaps or other monsters which is a useful quality for a game where characters are expected to kick in the doors and kill things.  If a game loads you up on guilt you tend to stay your hand.

When a team of player characters run up against a demonic, however, things might get complicated.  Not always but often enough.  A kelpy might be a mindless killer, a kidnapper who changes children in watery cages, might have fallen in love with a local villager and wishing to live a normal life (for a time) or it might even be a known protector of a village in exchange for the right to drown and consume bandits and other cruel menaces to the village.  Demonics, therefore, lead to more complexity in the game.  Unlike some of the more ambiguous critters who do what they do not out of malice but hunger, a demonic is also sentient and generally more powerful with its own motivations and personality.

Angelics, on the other hand, are entities that are unabashedly good and decent creatures that bring out the best qualities in those that spend time with them.  Oh, they might have their vices.  What Valkyrie doesn't enjoy a good drink or battle while in possession of a willing mortal?  However Valkyries never deny another their free will and will also stamp down on cruelties like slavery, torture, or the slaughter of those who have surrendered their arms.

Players can normally identify a demonic or angelic with a successful occult roll (or academics roll if its a legendary beast known in the local area).  If they can identify that something is a kelpy, then they can identify that its a demonic and may, or may not, be evil just as they could identify a Valkyrie as an angelic.  Of course, if they haven't collected enough information to correctly identify a particular creature the roll will give them a bit of information on a number of different options - such as that the creature could either be a Fury (demonic) or Valkyrie (angelic).

So are angelics and demonics a separate category of creatures?

Well, no, not really.  They're more a label used by people to quickly describe whether you can trust a creature or not.  The trouble with demonics, after all, is that you can't even trust that they will be entirely evil or that killing them is necessarily a good thing.

I hear you asking for examples.  Well, read on, fair reader and you'll see some concepts.

Not all demonics look inhuman.

Shantell ("Shan't Tell") is a young woman with a violent expression on her face who can unsheath blades which she uses to tear apart violent criminals.  She presumes herself to be judge, jury and executioner.  While she tracks down and dispatches rapists and murderers, she also slays thugs and even those who just got involved in a bar room brawl.  She has existed for a long time though she never remembers more than a decade of her existence.  If asked she would state that she is making the town a better place to live but in truth she is a danger to everyone as she isn't even that great an investigator.  She is a demonic.  Perhaps she is one day convinced to do things a little differently or maybe she needs to be put to the sword.  That is for the players to decide.  (Razorhands Darkling, Contracts of Smoke 5, Contracts of Vainglory 2).


Billy the Wing appears to be a youth in his middle teens with grey skin, lightly glowing blue eyes and a gargoyle's legs, wings and tail that nevertheless feels like a human to the touch.  He's made as a Lurkglider kith / Darkling Seeming and he has five dots in Contracts of Darkness and is built as an otherwise standard changeling with 50 experience points and Wyrd 3.  He is the manifestation of a young boy's hopes and dreams when the first villagers to settle in that spot were wiped out while the boy was a lookout.  When the boy died, his desire to protect the village left an imprint that slowly coalesced into the creature that pulled itself out of the soil and now protects this new village.  He seems rather childlike and is frightened of direct combat but will do what he can to protect people.  (Lurkglider Darkling, Contracts of Darkness 5, Contracts of Hearth 3, Wyrd 3, 50 experience points across the skills with a focus on stealth, academics and athletics).


In my future posts on Fianyarr creatures I will sometimes indicate if a creature is an angelic or a demonic.  Feel free to adapt it to suit your story.  The last thing I want is for people to be able to predict your fantasy land because of some decisions I have made.  If a creature isn't listed as such then they're either a critter (a simple predator) or a monster (irrevocably evil) and the characters may slay them without a second thought.  You will be able to find such articles in a list over here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fianyarr: Origins of the Touched

Not all of the races of the land are purely descended from the First (main collection of articles here). Some have ancestry that holds an otherworldly entity or an escape from death itself within the past seven generations. Those who are share a lineage in such a way are not sterile as some might have hoped and instead can reproduce as easily as any other. Even dhampyr have no greater issue with falling pregnant nor impregnating another. With each passing generation, the connection grows weaker until, by the seventh, there are only superficial similarities to the otherworldly ancestor.

While some might think that two members of different races might produce tainted children, in truth, the children born are either predominately one race or the other with only superficial similarities to the parent from the other race. In this way an elf may mate with a beastfolk and have two children where one appears to be an elflike beastfolk (with beastfolk traits) and one appears to be a furry elf (with elflike traits). When such a child reproduces, the signs of the parent whose racial traits they don't share dwindles with each passing generation. Of course, more rarely you get a true mixture between the two races (if the Storyteller so desires) and the child takes half the blessings from one race and one from the other.

Tiefling Origins
Possible tiefling mother
(Picture from the Witcher)

Tieflings have the blood of the demonics pulsing in their veins. These demonics are not necessary malicious or cruel (though many of them are) but they are dangerous and often ambiguous in their dealings with the descendents of the First.  Sometimes these entities are only corporeal at particular times of the day or night, or in particular locations, and seduce a person or even spirit them away to another location and leave a child in their stead.  Some less humanoid predatory entities are known to be able to cause a pregnancy with a kiss or a lick or can alter the nature of the young fetus growing within a newly pregnant woman.  Some even settle an agreement with a person with the sudden appearance of a child that nonetheless shares blood from both parents (perhaps due to the mingling of blood during a blood oath).

One would think that tieflings would be less common than aasimar but this isn't particularly true.  It is strange how many men and women fall into the arms of such creatures willingly and without recourse to magical persuasion.  Is it the power demonics undoubtedly possess they cause certain people to seek them out?  Is it a desire to placate such predatory beings?  In certain areas there is honor and glory to be had in successfully wooing a demonic.

Dhampyr Origins

Possible Dhampyr mother
(Picture from the Witcher)
The curse of mortality was a shocking sensation for the First People as they fractured into the many races and even through the generations there has been terror and dismay at the thought of the Final Passage into an unknown world (or perhaps into dissolution itself).  Some mortals have managed to renounce their own deaths, whether on battlefields or deathbeds, and so have scoured their hearts and souls of anything but the desire to survive and to overcome.  So were the undead created and so did they pass on to their progeny (born to a mortal parent) some aspect of their curse.

Of course, not all dhampyr are children of the undead.  Sometimes a parent's love and need can transcend death itself and pluck the child from an unknown fate.  Such a child is marred by the journey back from death itself though they are still innocent enough to return alive.  Their parents are not so lucky as the psychic force factures their mind and sends them irrevocably mad. Such parents often find it a small price to pay for the life of their child.

Sometimes, too, a very young child is assaulted by a wight or other undead that drains the child's vitality yet the child somehow survives the experience.  This assault must occur while they are still a babe in arms or, perhaps, a toddler to truly infect their essence.  Such encounters are rare but they do happen and can turn any child of any race into a dhampyr.

Aasimar Origins

Some benevolent entities are humanoid...
(Picture from Final Fantasy X)
Aasimar are born to entities just as tieflings are but the creatures who share some of their essence are benevolent toward the First People's descendents by their very nature.  These angelics may be guides, protectors, oracles or even religious authorities.  One way or another they are important to the Seven Races and feel a great deal of compassion toward them.  It is only natural that sometimes there might be passionate embraces between them and members of the Seven Races.

....others are not so much due to their size.
(Picture from Final Fantasy X)  

Of course, not all angelics are particularly humanoid which does boggle the mind sometimes when one meets the otherworldly parent.  While some members of the Seven Races are obviously not too discerning and are happy to mate with something that looks more animal than humanoid, there are other methods that are also employed.  A person might swim with an angelic only to have a baby wash up ashore a few moments later despite the chastity of the encounter.  A couple might pray to an angelic to be the third parent and thus create an angelic.  A woman or man might be blessed with a lick, stroke or gentle bite to ensure that the next child born will be as much their offspring as that of the couple.