Posts Tagged With: Feyhd

Fixing Humans II (1e)

So there is an interesting set of dilemmas when it comes to making humans more attractive as a race – but part of this has to be role-play. As much as I can create some real benefits to playing humans, I think that strongest benefit is ultimately social. That said, there can be some differentiation when looking at humankind that goes beyond merely culture, and my game world has pretty much always done this -thanks to the influence of Tolkien. So, here are the broad varieties of humankind that exist.

The Common Men – This is the vast majority of the humanity, they are common men and women, average in build and appearance. Found across the Mortal Realms, they vary in coloring and build based primarily upon location within the Mortal Realms. For example, the Northmen of Thule are tall and blond, the Kistathians are of average height and dark in complexion and hair, and tribesmen of Zul are black of skin and hair.

The High Men – The hidden scions of Ryl Shantor, the blood of the High Men that runs through all those with blessed with the Talent. Those for whom the blood runs particularly true are fair of form and strong in body. In High Men the Talent is often linked to red hair, though not exclusively, and the bloodline can run dormant with Common Men for generations before flowering again for unknown reasons.

The Beastmen – Generally considered a primitive people, the Beastmen are often considered barely human at all with their sloping foreheads, and almost brutish appearance. They have an intentionally simple society eschewing magic and power, preferring to remain a quiet people living in simple conditions as a matter of philosophical choice after a long ago history of conquest and bloodshed. Ogres are considered to be a further devolved form of the Beastmen by many sages.

The Ithians – The rulers of the great continent of Ith, the Ithians are the descendants of the slave race of the Serpent Kings. Pale of complexion, smooth of skin, and black of hair, the Ithians are a sensuous and decadent people with a dark and hidden secret. They carry the blood of the Serpent Kings within them, and while it gives they power it also carries the seeds of their corruption. An ancient and hierarchical society, their inbreeding and dark magic often brings about chaos and insanity in the end.

The Old Race – The dreaded and fallen remnants of the first men, the scions of the First City, the Old Race do not dwell in the Mortal Realms. Instead they have wander the Paths between the Realms and weather the Maelstrom, occasionally returning to plague upon their descendants. Over time, they have developed the Talent to a extreme degree, and have a complex but evil society. Angular, thin, pierced, and tattooed the Old Race barely appear human to some.

The Feyhd – When the Great Old Ones, now known as the Five Demon Emperors, attempted to corrupt Aden, most humans were cast out into what became known as the Mortal Realms. But some, those who most fierce with anger and fear in the chaos of the War Without End, ended up in the Great Waste. The Feyhd are those humans that have survived and thrived within the lethal and dangerous testing ground that is the Great Waste, creating a people and society when only the strongest and most intelligent survive.

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Warrior-Monks and Martial Arts (Part One)

I always loved the AD&D Monk class, and would certainly agree with arguments that it is somewhat misplaced in the nominally “European” setting of standard AD&D. Plus, I always thought is was incredibly poorly though-out class based on what seemed to be arbitrary and illogical rulings – no Strength or Dexterity bonuses, etc. I quickly moved to a conception of the Warrior-Monk that had more in common with the “wierding ways” of the Bene Gesserit and the ferocity of the Freman and the Sardaukar – combined with a more widely encompassing vision of the weapons available to martial artists.

So, the Player’s Handbook vision of the “monk” was tweaked early on and the “Endorian Warrior-Monks” were born – the Masters of Endorian Dragon Style. There were some quick changes that were made immediately – Warrior-Monks were given Strength and Dexterity modifiers, were allowed Percentile Strength like a Fighter and given the Constitution bonuses of a Fighter as well. I also gave them d6 for Hit Dice instead of d4. What was taken away was the abilities to Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps – and instead the ability to Track like a Ranger was given, plus an ability called “Aura Sense” (40% Base, +5% per level as the notes in my PH indicate) – this was essentially a True Sight style ability back in the day and it has been somewhat downgraded at this point. Instead of Special Ability A as listed they instead had Warmth as the ring (the Endor Monestary is way up in the peaks of some nasty cold mountains), they had the ability to do a Suggestion in addition to Special Ability D at 6th Level (ala the Voice), and finally the other major change was that 8th level, Special Ability F was replaced with Fire Resistance (again, as the ring). They were also allowed to use short swords and shortbows as weapons of proficiency and lost crossbow and javelin. My vision the Endorian Warrior-Monks were of a reclusive and self-reliant group of religious warrior mystics – not …whatever it was that they were modeled on in the PH.

I think I also let them strike creatures that were only hit with magical weapons like they were a monster with Hit Dice equal to their level. All of this actually made a monk class that was fun to play. I know that I experimented with the Monk from Dragon Magazine #53, possibly as some other order of monks someplace, but I don’t remember anyone ever actually playing with them. The only other martial artists for years were the Lictors (aka the Ninja from the Best of Dragon Vol. 2), but that all changed when Oriental Adventures came out…

Ok, there were also the Feyhd, my homage to the Fremen. They were all “monks” as well, but I don’t think anyone ever played one. Plus there was the mysterious and terrifying “Old Race” that haunted the Outer Planes.

Suddenly there was a way for anyone to learn martial arts, and it was merely monks who were vastly better at them. Plus, the “base” martial arts weren’t so horribly underpowered as to make it worthless to use. Plus martial artists of all stripes had all sorts of very cool things that they could learn how to do if they wanted to invest the proficiencies into them. Quickly I had Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighters (with the special Tyrsfarian Khuri), the sworn brotherhood of the Black Watch with their bastard swords, the Battledancers of Ulstem and Ith, and a host of places where people could learn all sorts of martial art styles.

But other problems raised their head.

For one, studying martial arts was far too much of an investment of proficiencies. It was kind of ridiculous actually, the sheer amount of “time and energy” a monk, let alone a non-monk, had to put into learning the “cool stuff”. Second, it was basically impossible to model any sort of martial art weapon style in this system. Now, some articles in Dragon Magazine helped round these things out (and birthed the Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighters for that matter), but it was still a pretty broken system in some respects.

Some folks would also point at the martial arts rules as being the ancestor of Feats – and I wouldn’t disagree. In my home-brew rules engine I essentially adapted these rules into “fighting styles” for all sorts of weapons. It was learning and mastering them that made you an effective fighter. It was also a far too complicated system in many respects – and there is a large part of me that is happy to never look at that home-brew ever again. But from there is where the various martial arts of the Dakini, the Tantric-Assassins, were first spawned, along with the deadly arts of the Bloodmoon Adepts (the title ganked from an old Citybook from Flying Buffalo).

Next up: How do we make it work?



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High Men, Psionics, and Psionicists (1e)

So, James has posted today about the Psionicist over at Grognardia. I’ll add on to say that it is one of the ways that I’ve handled psionics in my game world – and certainly the major way that players have had psionic characters in my game for a while now. Coincidently I’ve been thinking about psionics the last couple of days and came up with a new tweak that I like and that makes more sense to me from both a character development and a game balance perspective.

Personally, I never had a problem with psionics in AD&D, first I was reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series at a young age because my mother loved them and they were sitting in the huge pile of speculative fiction that inhabited our house (along with the rest of the books the bibliophiles that my parents were had collected). The simple fact is that psionics hardly ever came up, what was noticeable was that they were often something that either immediately doomed a character because psionic encounters really, really suck or foretold a long and successful career because certain abilities just made the characters quite powerful. This was a s true of the psionicist as it was of the psychic but actually emphasized the “psionic encounters suck” end of things because the progression was slowed down so much.

You’ll notice that Brother Illya is a “High Man” (aka Deryni aka DĂșnadan aka Comyn aka whatever) and is a multi-classed Psionicist/Warrior-Monk (currently 3rd/3rd) while a couple of other characters are listed as “Minor Psychics” and “Psychics”. The “Minor Psychic” is a new category that I essentially invented when I came back to AD&D after running my own rules system to cover those races that I wanted to always have some innate psychic Talent to model certain abilities but without giving them the full range of psionic abilities automatically. High Men only count as roughly about 5-10% of the population and are considered to be the true scions of nobility – paradoxically because having the traces of blood of angels, elves, dragons, whatever running through their veins that grants them the mixed blessing and curse of psychic ability violates the taboo against inter-racial sexuality that the “civilized” races have in my game world.

Psionicists work pretty much as they do in the article, save that they use my attribute of “Talent” instead of the IWC (Intelligent-Wisdom-Charisma Average) to determine Psionic Ability – everything else is the same. High Men are able to multi-class as Psionicists with any other single class, and suffer the same 10% XP penalty per class as non-humans. Also, Psionicists automatically have the Minor Devotions of Rapport and Lights in addition to the other Disciplines gained as a result of advancement. At one point in the very distant past I allowed Psionicists to choose thier Devotions, Sciences, and Arts – but at this point I insist that they roll them like everyone else.

Psychics are pretty much the way psychics are written up into the Players Handbook, with the addition of automatically having the Minor Devotions of Rapport and Lights. I interpret the advancement for multi-class characters to occur as one ability (Minor Devotion or Major Science, all Minor Devotions first) to be added each odd level, the same as for single-class characters, but the multiple classes are added together to determine “level” rather than using the highest level class or some other arcane formula to determine how many abilities had been learned. This would also represent the abilities of “untrained” High Men if someone wanted to play one without multi-classing as a Psionicist. The chance for any non-human to be Psychic is the same as the basic roll from the Players Handbook – with the stipulation that Talent must be 16 or higher. This is limited to those races who even have the potential – Dwarves, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Sh’dai – Elves and Ithians are either Minor Psychics or Psionicists, never half-way. As an odd note, two “human” races are automatically considered Psychic if they do not specialize as Psionicists, the “Old Race” and the “Feyhd”.

One other note, only characters who choose to be multi-class as Healer/Psionicists can start with Cell Adjustment at 1st level, and other Psionicists or Psychics may only take it if they roll high enough to “Select One” on the table – and may only do it with my permission.

(As I write this, I think I’m just also instituting a rule that Psychic characters suffer a 10% XP penalty “as if” they had another character class as a multi-class. That’s another nice bit of balance for the benefits that you get for the abilities. If you are Psionicist, you already get it, and if you are a Minor Psychic the “benefit” is really not much compared to the potential downside for most adventurers.)

Minor Psychics have only the abilities of Rapport and Lights – as given in the Psionicist article. They can use all forms of psychic item, device, or consumable just like a Psychic or Psionicist. They only have one Defense Mode (G- Though Shield) and they only gain one Attack Mode (A – Psionic Blast) at 2nd level. None of this is rolled, either your race is considered “Minorly Psychic” or it isn’t. This is mainly Elves, Half-Elves, Sh’dai, and Ithians. Perhaps strangely, bit Gnomes and Dwarves are not Minor Psychics, their gifts manifest as thier other abilities to detect stonework, etc.

Psychics and Minor Psychics roll for Psionic Ability using the following formula: 1d100, plus one for point of Talent, plus one for each point of Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and Power over twelve. If two of the five attributes are above 15 then the “bonus” points are doubled, if three then they are tripled, if four, quadrupled; and if all five then the bonus points to the d100 roll are quintupled.

Here is the tweak for Psychics and Minor Psychics that I just realized this past weekend made much more sense. Instead of rolling to determine what the Attack and Defense Modes are known, just ruling that Defense Modes are gained at the rate of one for every odd level (and Defense Mode G being the first automatically gained at 1st level) and attack modes are gained at the rate of one for every even level. Psioncists advance as the table in the article.

It’s worth noting that I also consider Illusionists to use “Mentalism” rather than Arcane Magic or Divine Power, along with Oracles (Dragon #53) and Timelords (Dragon #65). This means that “Magic Resistance” doesn’t work against these “spells” (though for certain extra-planar creatures I have ruled that they have equivalent “Mentalism Resistance”). In some ways this might makes things more powerful for Illusionists, but at other times it means that a simple Thought Shield prevents them from doing much of anything worthwhile…




Categories: Game Design, Game Play, House Rules, OSR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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