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Ashiel's page

RPG Superstar 8 Season Star Voter. 12,166 posts (12,169 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Klara Meison wrote:

You get a million dollars, but there is a catch: whenever you spend any of it, there is a chance that a random person nearby turns into an evil ninja and tries to kill you.

Would you agree to that?

Yeah, I would. I could do a lot of good things with a million dollars. I'd just have to plan to only spend it once and be ready when I do (I even know how I'd spend it to achieve a greater outcome over time).

I won't lie and say there isn't a part of me that wouldn't actually be excited for the moment that I did. I've always enjoyed fighting but I never fight, because while I really like it, I really dislike hurting people, so the few sparring matches I've been in over the years I always used "gentle methods" that don't involve actually hitting (such as grabbing one arm and sweeping a leg while leading them to the ground with my other hand, which ends up with them lying on their backs but unharmed with a look of "wait, how'd I get here?"). But there's a part of me that hungers for a reason to go all out. It's weird.

Of course, if the person turned ninja didn't get to turn back into that person in an unharmed state, probably not. Money is just a means to and end and I don't value it enough to hurt anyone for.


More bad grammar ahead, it's a rocky ride. (^~^)"

Changeling Intro:
“Look guys, I think the duke is up to something. I saw one of his men out on the docks, where the pirated goods were coming in.” Jaleene the Elf noted to her companions. “Any ideas?”

“Hrm, well we could get the city watch to investigate the mansion. What do you think?” Gloing her dwarf friend responded.

“Hmph, Duke Rivarras would just tie up the watch in a load of red tape. He'd be able to get rid of any evidence before they had the papers to legally search his home.” their human ally Jackson added. “We'd need to get inside.”

“Well all you had to do was ask.” Ali the changeling said. His pale skin changing to that of a smooth dark skinned beauty, and his short white hair extending into long black curls. His body transformed from a rugged bodybuilder into that of a curvaceous woman. The rest of his group stared, with Jackson's mouth hanging agape. As the transformation finished, Ali pressed Jackson's lower jaw shut and said in a sexy feminine voice, “You shouldn't drool sweety. It's rude.” the now female Ali mocked as she pushed her long curls out of her face. “Give me a couple hours, and I'll get you a key to the back door.” she mused as she walked off.

Gloing twitched his nose behind his beard. “Hrmph, I'll never get used to watchin' that.” he said. Jaleene laughed at the two of them, and Jackson cleared his throat and tried to regain his composure.

“I think he...or...she...enjoys doing that way too much.” Jackson noted with red cheeks.

While in some settings changelings are descended from doppelgangers, in Alvena it's a bit different. Changelings are a strange race of shapeshifters with a mysterious history - some believing them to be prototype humanoids created by the gods, others the results of mad magical experiments, and some starkin believe them to be an ancient relative of theirs (as the two species look very similar in their natural forms) warped by their ancient enemies (though how they ended up on the core world has them quite stumped). If the changelings know, they aren't telling!

However, they're frequent enough that most people have met a changeling in their lives, even if they don't realize it. Many changelings keep their true natures hidden from others, and their genetics cause all offspring to always result in a changeling child (there have been cases of trysts resulting in surprise changeling babies).

Doppelgangers are a rare phenomena. Some changelings spontaneously "evolve" into doppelgangers, which is an experience that varies by the individual. What triggers this change is likewise mysterious phenomena. Some experience the change in times of great stress, others when they've lost their sense of self, others after their hearts moved by some act of wonder, and some just wake up one day as doppelgangers. There are a few changelings that believe that becoming a doppelganger is the greatest thing that a changeling can do, and have strange pseudo-religious cults centered around reverence to doppelgangers and changeling interests (which translates to their specific interests as to suggest that they truly have the interest of all changelings would be true madness).

Some changelings fear such a transformation however. Many instances of doppelgangers are what they would consider unhinged, or forever warped by the experience. Madness and a loss of identity is commonplace with doppelgangers, and many seem to lose any sense of morality or purpose that they had beforehand. However, some changeling transformations have not resulted in madness, further clouding the topic. Perhaps the often traumatic events that lead to becoming a doppelganger for many, or the overload of constantly maintaining so many identities, is what leads to the madness rather than the state itself.

Those who have kept their sanity usually have close friends that knew they were changelings, yet many of the doppelganger cults discourage their fellow changelings from having relationships with non-changelings that are anything more than acts.

Doppelgangers themselves are an amazing lot however. Their ability to read minds extend beyond the flesh (changelings have to touch you to try to read your mind) and their shapeshifting and adapting abilities take on a supernatural tone as they seem to gain knowledge they shouldn't possess (such as how to fight with weapons or cast spells from scrolls and wands without training), and some of the older doppelgangers can transcend humanoid forms and take on forms of things like animals or even dragons.


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Yuan-ti were a favorite of mine back in 3.x, and I've been playing to make an alternative for my campaign setting for a while (I think I had some rough drafts on my old PC but they need to be re-written anyway).

Speaking of Harpies, I'm reminded of an encounter that Jeo had on an airship involving harpies that was very mean. Basically the ship was attacked by several harpies intending to crash it and see what goodies were onboard, and they were using their harpy songs to lure folks into walking off the deck of the airship. >_>

I had a player in the same campaign, much later, play a medusa very briefly. She was upset to find how gaze attacks worked, and I was surprised that given how long she had been playing AND the fact she was so adamant about playing a medusa, that at no point during creation did she actually read how her abilities worked. :|


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Speaking of drider, here's some segments from a thing about Alvena I started writing years ago (ignore the grammatical errors ^//^).

Drider Intro:
The orc brigand let out a curdled scream, but it was quickly silenced by the sudden rush of poison into the wound and a quick snap of the the warrior's neck. Its dark-crimson blood ran hot with the fading beats of his quickly slowing heart.

Jackson winced and turned his head, unable to watch the sight directly. Gloing looked on with jaws agape, and felt like he needed a good mug of grog to keep his lunch from rebelling against his innards at the sight.

Silia's fangs dug deep into the flesh of the orc, and a sickening sucking sound could be heard coming from her mouth and the wound. Her lizardman companion Ssallix watched in awe at the almost intoxicated look in her dark eyes as she gulped and chewed againsthe orc's body.

Poor Lilly the Halfling shook in her tiny boots, watching their drider friend laying into the orc's body like it was some sort of delicious piece of food and not a formerly living thinking creature. She wondered if she was really sure that she wanted to keep riding on her back, for fear that she might get hungry and long for a light snack.

Silia released the orc's body, now having chewed through most of the torso and gulped it down with an end to the almost gluttonous greed for bloody meat that it was. If not for the blood covering her face, shoulders, and hands, she would have looked much like a beautiful dark-skinned elven woman riding atop a giant spider from a distance. She slurped and licked up the remains of blood on her hands, and was busily cleaning off her face when her eyes darted down to the little halfling beneath her. “I'm sorry...that was very rude of me.” she said in a thick but politely toned dark-elven accent. “Did you want some?” she asked, gripping the orc and eyeing the halfling. “I...think I'm going to be sick...” little Lilly said as her stomach churned inside her tiny frame.

“Err...are you sure that she's okay to have along, human boy?” Korlax quizzed quietly, whispering to Jackson and Gloing.
“Well, to be fair the orcish guy and his friends were trying to kill us, and she's a good friend of mine. I wouldn't mind it if not for the crunching sound. It makes my skin crawl...” Jackson said sheepishly as he began checking the bodies of their enemies for supplies.

Wood Elf Intro:
Jackson, Gloing, Korlax, and Silia hung upside down in the forest. “Well this is a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into, eh Jackson?” Gloing the dwarf said with a bit of a chuckle. Korlax the hobgoblin wiggled about and barked at the dwarf. “Bah, you short fool, it's those elves! They're going to roast us and eat us!” he said in a bit of a panic. “Bah...elves do not eat people.” Silia the drider said as she tried to figure out how she managed to step in eight snares at the same time. “Don't give me that! You ate like three people just last week!” Korlax said trying to wriggle his way free. “I'm not an elf. Well, not exactly.” she said trying to pull her torso up to cut the snares, but to no avail.

Jackson the human glanced around while the others tried to figure out how to get loose. “I think we're not alone.” he said, pondering for a moment as he stroked his chin. “And you would be right.” said a voice from the flora nearby. “Ah. You must be on of the rangers of the green seas then.” Jackson said, extending a hand in greeting while hanging upside down. The wood elf just looked at him an rose an eyebrow. “You're awfully friendly for someone stuck in a snare trap.” the elf responded. “I know, right!?” Korlax interjected. “It's like he expects tea and cakes!” he continued. The elf looked to the hobgoblin and mused “And you are awfully loud for someone stuck in a snare. Perhaps you should be louder. There are beasts that roam these forests that would love to meet you for dinner, I am sure.” Korlax quickly stifled his complaints at the thought of attracting some troll or chimera whilst they were dangling like hanging meats.

“Well, is there any chance you might let us down friend?” Jackson asked with a hopeful look on his face. “My name is Shale, and I'm not sure if we're friends yet, human. What are you doing here?” the elf asked. “Well we were investigating as to the presence of the Necromancer Falina in the area, because we have reason to believe that she might be about to bring on some vengeance upon the villages in the area.” Jackson responded as if he had experience negotiating upside down.

“And why should I believe y--” Shale began before an arrow struck the tree the party was hanging from. Turning back to see the archer, Shale saw a group of undead elven warriors marching through the shadows of the forest.

“Perhaps now would be a good time to cut us down!?” Silia the drider urged frantically. Shale sliced the bonds, dropping them all to the ground below. “Thank the ancestors, I'm land bound again!” Gloing shouted as he stood up, drawing his waraxe. “Do you mind, master Shale?” the dwarf asked motioning to the zombies. “Um...?” the wood elf responded. “I'll take that as a no! Raaaagh!” Gloing shouted charging into the ranks of the dead. “Come on hobby, get yer rear in gear!” the dwarf called to Korlax as he was busily hewing zombies in twain. “I believe further introductions will have to wait.” Jackson responded as he picked up his staff.


Tels wrote:
Huh... with your construct race, one could make a reasonable facsimile of Genji, a cyborg ninja, from the video game Overwatch. Notably, because he stores his shuriken within his cyborg body and reloads by drawing them out of his arm. So, integrated weapon (shuriken), and probably faster movement. Build him as a "ninja" (however you choose to go about doing that) and you've got a reasonable Genji.

Yeah it's intended to be very flexible in terms of building a construct race. You can also use it to create those tentacle armed robots from Ninja Turtles (these guys), as well as all manner of cyborgs, androids (in all sorts of flavors).


Jeo wrote:
Something's missing...

Y'know, I thought about listing the Kumiho, but given their unique restrictions I probably wouldn't consider them a standard race of Alvena, since they're pretty fringe. That's also the reason I didn't list oni.

Though I would really like to explore some of those things in Alvena more. The oni shogun hunting Jeo and her mothers was something I wanted to explore more of but didn't get around to.

I'd at the very least like to do a little lore writing to give a bit more depth to the relationships of the oni and their associated fox-demons.


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Klara Meison wrote:

>Lizardfolk* ... Undead (ghouls*, lichlings**) ... Drider* ...

You do realise that a lot of people would now try to find you and tickle you until you post a long post with the stats and mechanics of these homebrew races?

I'll need to quickly re-write a lot of them. As I noted, many of their writeups are on a defunct PC sitting in my room and I've not the will to dismantle the thing and try to recover the files from the harddrive, especially since it'd probably just be easier to rewrite a lot of it.

In Alvena, drider are a playable race and are actually one of the more tolerated of the monstrous races though they tend to make most people nervous and may frighten people who've never seen one before, which is true in a lot of the more rural or secluded areas.

This is because unlike in campaigns like the Forgotten Realms, drider in Alvena are members of drow society. The first drider were a cruel joke played to cause grief to some captured rebels, but it turns out that the transformation resulted in a growth of both their bodies and their innate magical abilities, which eventually led to their escape. The exile prince welcomed them back into their folds and heralded them as heroes, for their very humanity was martyred fighting tyranny. As it turns out, drider are capable of breeding with each other and other humanoids (the specifics of which are probably best left to nightmares and imaginative minds on the internet) so in time they began to multiply.

Seeing that this joke had kind of backfired, but recognizing that the transformation came with unexpected benefits, the possessed drow queen had some of her own drow "blessed" with this transformation, and now their are drider on both sides of the politcal fence.

They're not wholly unmonstrous though. The magic that transformed them into tauric spider-things also made them less apprehensive about things like eating sentient creatures, which makes people exceedingly uncomfortable because they are indeed on a lower rung of the food chain.


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berserker444 wrote:
If you could have any race as a playable character race currently not available what'd it be and why?

Hard to say. I have a tendency to think of anything sentient as being potentially a player race with adequate homebrewing.

In my own campaign, the following are considered to be available as PC races without the need to think-tank with me on how it would be integrated into the campaign. Unfortunately I have to re-write some of them because the original files were on a now defunct computer.

Legend: * = modified from core rules, usually with a progression or in some cases revised racials (for example, gnolls were converted to a 1 HD humanoid race, their stats adjusted slightly, and given the scent special quality); ** = homebrew race.

1. All core races (humans, elves, etc), and the psionic races (half-giants, maenads, etc).
2. Hobgoblins and Goblins
3. Orcs
4. Several subraces (drow, nomadic elves**, wood elves**, etc)
5. Gnolls*
6. Lizardfolk*
7. Planetouched (aasimar, tieflings, etc)
8. Undead (ghouls*, lichlings**)
9. Constructs** (the mechanics)
10. Drider*
11. Changelings** (these are like lesser doppelgangers)
12. Doppelgangers* (note: nobody begins as a doppelganger but some changelings evolve into doppelgangers)
13. Merfolk
14. Starkin** (a race waging an eternal struggle against the neothelid menace).
14. Psychothelids** (a race of tentacle-faced amphibious humanoids created by aboleths and neothelids, who broke free from their masters)

Certain races require PCs to conceal their identities and/or deal with prejudice (ranging from poor attitudes to outright violence), though that's half the fun of playing those races. If you're going to play a tentacle-faced eldritch abomination, you probably expect to illicit some strange reactions when you walk into a stop & shop. In a similar fashion, being undead tends to at the very least make normal people afraid of you if they find out, and in a major area of the campaign setting it can get you toasted by the inquisition. :P


Tels wrote:
Actually, I was curious for opinions of the creature as is, not in context of the AP. I've heard this guy can be murder in the AP to any party without ranged. But I'm more curious as to opinions without specific scenarios or terrain.

Well if you have any business fighting something CR 11+, and "without ranged" can be used to describe any member of your party, you deserve to be murdered. :P

I really like mummies though, especially those with class levels (see end of the post for some home commentary).

That aside, the dread mummy template is from Green Ronin Publishing, which is the first red flag. Flip through their templates and such sometime. I can't even think about Green Ronin without remembering their assassin's handbook for 3.5 which features a level 20 assassin base class that can use the coup de grace action on non-helpless foes (even going so far as being able to perform it as a standard action during a surprise round, which means an invisible assassin has your number).

As written, the mummy is in a kind of strange place. On one hand, it has a lot of incentives to try to kite enemies using its spells and breath weapon, but those things are fairly standard for parties around this level to deal with (death ward makes the breath weapon a non-issue, for example). Yet on the other hand, the mummy really doesn't shine very much unless it gets into melee and starts trying to hammer people with its physical attacks. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing (monsters with more than one fighting style option are a good thing IMHO), but at that point it's mostly just a mummy with class levels who has a really irritating ability (the resistant to blows thing).

Speaking of which, resistant to blows is just a terrible ability. Not that it's not strong. It's hella strong. But I think it's a terrible ability gameplay-wise. It neuters martial characters horribly since there's no way to overcome it and it essentially translates to "This monster has DR = to 1/2 the damage you deal +5". Basically equates to stand back and let the mages play with it, or just drown it in alchemist fire (I'm surprised the mummy sprang for magic items making it better at what it's already good at instead of a basic fire resistance ring or something).

Perhaps humorously, a really amusing way I see this going would be to use Stealth to sneak up on everyone, bomb them with 1d4 negative levels during the surprise round, then have them save vs the gaze at -1-4 (depending on negative levels) and coup de grace one or two characters, suckerpunch a few more, and run away and wait for them to turn to sand.

It's a pretty nasty monster all around. Easiest ways I can see of taking it out would probably be...

1. Alchemical item / holy water spam (just requires items and gives no f***s about its DR or pesky blow-resistance). It'll take a lot though since it's touch AC is pretty solid and he's got a decent chunk of HP.

2. Use anti-undead spells (command undead doesn't care about his enchantment resistance, disrupting weapon forces a save vs being destroyed each hit and his low HD relative to CR means it's likely very vulnerable to it, halt undead wins the fight instantly and he's got a very good chance of biffing the save vs a 9th level caster's DC).

Honestly, spamming halt undead would be the best way. Halt it, then walk up and keep coup de gracing it with high crit multiplier weapons. If your party's barbarian is dealing quadrupal power attack damage every round, even it's BS defensive ability isn't going to protect it for long.

I personally prefer normal mummies with class levels though. The last time I used mummies as enemies, I dropped a few levels of psychic warrior on them and had their heads turn into egyptian gods via bite of the wolf and their hands turn into claws via claws of the beast. It had a similar effect to flurry of blows (bite/claw/claw/slam, all primary, all carrying mummy rot) but feels cooler to me. :P


Klara Meison wrote:
Have you watched Log Horizon?

I haven't actually, but I should. I've always been a sucker for alternate world, or trapped in a video game stories.

I started watched SAO and was, sadly, not very impressed with it. Not only did they get a lot of the genre wrong but the characters felt very flat. I enjoyed watching the abridged series on Youtube more, as it injected some much needed personality. :P

As with all opinions on things like anime, individual mileage may vary. :P


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Pillbug Toenibbler wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Making policy, churning out the political machine is hillary's. so that's what she spends more time doing. More diplomacy, less perform oratory.
So, during her freetime, is Clinton like someone constantly optimizing her NPC builds, class mechanics, and houserules? ;)

As someone who does constantly tweak their game to make it more solid, I have never felt as violated and dirty as after reading this. I'd rather have parallels to devils. At least devils aren't that evil.


Icehawk wrote:

This helps me with my bitterness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DErurte4CE

Oh god, so beautiful.


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Klara Meison wrote:

>I know the origins of the Bechdel test, my problem is with what people turned it into... A "serious" test indicative of anything... It's so open-ended and flawed that it's completely pointless.

It can only really be used as a statistical measure of the general themes currently popular in the medium, not as any specific case-by-case thing, which is how it was unfortunately used thus far by journalists.

It's been my experience that people frequently take what they see as fashionable and running with it without trying to get all the facts, or having the wisdom to look at the bigger picture. Journalism itself seems rife with this sort of thing, unfortunately.

Of course, this is creating bitter resentment on a lot of topics. I'm just happy that, day by day, I see fewer people drinking the kool aid. :)


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TheAlicornSage wrote:

"nobody stops the legion of bronies from enjoying it."

Not for lack of trying. :(

Give no f***s, enjoy what you like. :P


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Lemmy Z wrote:
I know the origins of the Bechdel test, my problem is with what people turned it into... A "serious" test indicative of anything... It's so open-ended and flawed that it's completely pointless. And yet... People seriously use it as "evidence" that a certain movie (or game, or whatever) is sexist, while simultaneously ignoring factors such as target audience and even the setting and logic of the story being told.

It's unfortunate where some things that have been taken to unfortunate places. People often have little sense of reality these days, or the ability to adjust their own focus when presented with something that looks strange through their usual lens. Things that were once beautiful and progressive are now ugly and regressive, because at some point rather than setting to create, the machine is set to destroy.

Quote:
e.g.: it makes sense that a movie following World War II battles will have far more male characters. And it makes sense that, say, a cartoon or game targeted at a male audience will most likely have male protagonists (notice how "My Little Pony" has a nearly all-female cast? That's because it's targeted at young girls and their mothers).

Totally. Yet, I must add, the beauty of it is, nobody stops the legion of bronies from enjoying it. Because people can like what they like without people telling them what they like. If someone is choosing to like or dislike something because of inconsequential things like "it's for boys/girls" or "male/female protagonist", well, that someone - frankly - isn't worth considering because they need some growing, not babying.

Quote:
Twilight passes the test (and was a huge success) and it has one of the worst, most condescending portrayals of a female character I've ever seen. At one point, the protagonist literally jumps off of a cliff just to see the boy she likes.

I remember bursting out in laughter when watching the 2nd Twilight movie, 'cause Edward leaves suddenly and she gets depressed and sits on the couch staring out the window. The thing that got me was where it keeps circling around the camera and a month passes with her just staring at the window. A friend of mine gave me the stink eye for laughing at this "so deep scene" but I couldn't help it, I just wasn't expecting it.

Quote:
And of course, nowadays, many authors andndevelopera prefer to avoid having female main characters because if you portray her as anything other than a flawless Mary Sue, you're accused of mysoginy.

Yeah that's a real concern. You cannot please everyone. So I'd rather pander to the people who matter, which are people who are more interested in the quality of a character rather than their vagina. I'll go on writing characters as people that I see them as.

Of course these days I've grown so disgusted with certain attitudes that my spite nerve is really sensitive, to the point that if I was heading a large company producing something like video games, I'd either drive it into the ground or become the most successful company around.


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I proudly declare that I bypass this issue by having no standards. :3


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Lemmy Z wrote:
Ah... The Bechdel test... Supposedly an indicative of how empowering a movie is to women... The test where "Alien 3" and "Gravity" fail, but "Twilight" and "Transformers" pass.

Honestly, I don't put much stock in any line of thinking that tells me that I should or should not watch something. Further, the idea that you have to meet some sort of quota for anything when telling a story is counter to creative freedom.

Thinking about it, now that my attention has been drawn to it, I don't think the women in my campaigns talk about men enough. :P


Klara Meison wrote:
Does your writing for your homebrew games pass the bechdel test?

Maybe a little too much at times.


Klara Meison wrote:
Personally, I always wanted a ring out of some fancy technological material, like titanium, graphene or that specially treated quartz that the space shuttle tiles were made of. Not sure where one would get a ring like that though.

The internet has destroyed my mind.


Yeah I used to have a ring or two that my mom got me. I outgrew one of 'em so I forget what we did with it, and the other broke. Both were silver. When they would turn black from my wearing them (which usually didn't take long), I'd give them to my mom. She'd wear them for a few hours and they'd turn silver again, then she'd give 'em back to me.


Tels wrote:

Awesome rings.

Which one do you guys like best? I like the Enchanted Forest and the Delicate Dark Arctic Forest.

Oh by gosh, these are amazing. I dunno which is my favorite yet. I may have to start wearing rings!

I usually don't wear jewelry because gold is expensive and not my style and my skin corrupts silver and turns it black. I've thought about stainless steel jewelry but didn't care quite enough to go out and buy some.


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Klara Meison wrote:
What is the weirdest thing your players have played as?

Hard to say. I try to be pretty open minded so I've seen some doozies, but my doozies are less doozy than a lot of other people's doozies. Weirdest thing in terms of like race or something...one played a sentient ooze once, I think.

However, given the nature of the game, I don't often remember characters for simply being something. My favorite "weird" characters are usually fairly normal mechanically or racially speaking (it's worth noting things like planetouched and undead are pretty normal racial options in my games) but how weirdness manifests in the character's behavior and adventures.

It's a hard thing to form into words but I'll try to give some examples of what I mean.

Some people would see "weirdest" in terms of how far from the standard can you go. In which case, things that often make little sense or have a lot of mechanical oddities would tend to score very high on this scale. Such as "the wierdest thing I ever played was a fiendish two-headed merfolk half-dragon that was a gestalt diabolist / loremaster / mystic theurge / cleric / wizard, who got early access to a few classes due to an obscure alternate racial that granted an SLA, and even though that's normally against the rules we were using Paizo's FAQ and..."

For me, when I think of weirdest, I tend to think about it in terms of the characters themselves and the concepts they explore. What do they do that steps outside the realm of normalcy and most importantly, how does that relate to them as a person? I've seen PCs who have two mothers. I've seen PCs that have cursed with eternal youth. I've seen PCs who were animated dolls who wanted to be real people. I've seen Paladins who were romantically involved with evil characters (and by proxy, I've seen evil characters romantically involved with Paladins). I've seen a half-giant barbarian hide behind a kobold sorcerer because he was afraid to go first into the dungeon.

Which, please understand, should not be construed as some form of role-play elitism. I realize that in giving these examples it might sound like I'm suggesting the latter is somehow more "authentic" or something, even though the former definitely is more "out there". I'm not trying to do that at all. You can definitely have some mechanically weird characters, but when I think of weird characters I usually remember them for their quirks. I generally find characters of the former type of complexity generally quite forgettable, whereas a character that seems mostly normal but has a heart to heart with an awakened wolf about her feelings for him and how she's bashfully willing to try being in a romantic relationship with him (and tragically confessing that one of the reasons she was hesitant is because she's embarrassed by how other humanoids would see her in their relationship) is something that really tends to stick out and it teases your brain.

That said, playing nonstandard races and stuff can be super awesome as long as it has some bearing on the character's mannerism or circumstances to play around with. For example, if we're talking about the aforementioned two-headed half dragon merfolk, watching the character's too heads each giving their account of their life growing up with one parent being a merfolk black magician and the other parent being a half-dragon hydra would be something that would probably stick with everyone for years.


Klara Meison wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

That's cool. :D

Uhhh, you might have to explain about how to make hyperlinks like that. I'm not familiar with how to do that in OpenOffice. :o

I think it should be relatively easy, so you may try googling. Don't know about openoffice, but I think that there were some ways to do it with PDFs.

That would be a cool feature, but if we have to hyperlink every one individually, that would probably be a back-burner thing. Now I do know that on a wiki-based SRD that would be trivially easy, which is good.


TheAlicornSage wrote:
Also, nice to know I'm not completely ignored. Thank you. :)

No problem. ^-^


Tels wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:
Out of curiosity, did anyone read my feedback on the spell description layout, or does everyone think everything I write is not worth reading? (I know a lot of my posts are more just me finding it hard to resist responding to things, but I do actually try to post worthwhile stuff occasionally)
I read it, I just don't really have anything to say on it. Until Ashfield said something, I didn't even know people thought the spell layout needed updating. It's not something I've ever given any thought to.

I'll probably do some strawpolls or something when it comes to NPCs later, since I'll probably end up revising statblocks as well but the changes will be much larger. Sometimes I think I'm the only person who hated the late 3.5/Pathfinder NPC format. In 3.0/3.5, while I think the entries needed a little tweaking for organizational purposes, the layout was much more condensed, wasted less space, and in some cases felt easier to understand where certain abilities were coming from. The current NPC format used in the Bestiaries and such uses an absolutely huge amount of page space vs the amount of information that any fairly complex creature takes up an enormous amount of page space.


Artemis Moonstar wrote:

That reminds me.

How ya doin' buddy? Been a while!

Pretty good! I was happy to see you in the not-europe thread, though I was concerned maybe I had upset you (I seem to have upset a lot of people in that thread). I was glad to see you post in this thread again. :D

How're things? ^-^


TheAlicornSage wrote:
Out of curiosity, did anyone read my feedback on the spell description layout, or does everyone think everything I write is not worth reading? (I know a lot of my posts are more just me finding it hard to resist responding to things, but I do actually try to post worthwhile stuff occasionally)

Yeah, I read it. Honestly, I thought it seemed a definite improvement over the standard spell format. Though Aratrok made a pretty good case over Discord for omitting what wasn't useful, and the format I'm currently using averages about 4 lines deep, or 5 if it has unusual components and/or casting times (Aratrok thought the previous attempt was also better than the standard spell format but still not good enough).

I must admit, the latest format which isn't very different from either option presented, does look pretty sleek on paper. I'll see if I can upload some stuff to my google drive today and share the links.


That's cool. :D

Uhhh, you might have to explain about how to make hyperlinks like that. I'm not familiar with how to do that in OpenOffice. :o


Klara Meison wrote:
I wonder who this "Clara" person is. Certainly not me, since my name begins with a "K" :)

Curses, I have an aunt that's Clara with a C and in my haste to edit, I typo'd. :[

EDIT: Woot, 3,000th. :D


The reason defense says "none" and magic resist "no" is because one is multiple choice and the other is binary.

As to pictures and stuff for AoEs, that's planned. Or do you mean each of the target section of each spell should be hyperlinks to the targeting section? :o


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Leftovers from a nameless dish I cooked last night after going grocery shopping at Walmart. It's kind of a soup, made with shredded beef, broccoli (both crowns, and the diced up stem), shredded carrots, diced up green bell peppers, large white mushrooms diced up, a bottle of sweet & sour sauce mixed with honey (the bee kind), peppers, and some salt. Everything is cooked at more or less the same time until everything gets nice and soft. Stirred occasionally.

I ran out of ramen noodles last night, but it goes very good over some plain white ramen noodles (cook until they get soft and springy but not mushy, then quickly drain and place into a bowl or on a plate, then douse in the soupy vege-mix).

Right now I'm eating it in a bowl while writing spells down. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite things to eat. Pondering ways to modify it, I bet if I got some beans (either crispy beans like field peas, or maybe southern jarred greenbeens from our garden) and added them that would be effective. Water chestnuts would probably go well with it too.


Niiiice.


Kryzbyn wrote:

The gods on this world are actually immortal members of their previous existence. They aren't gods themselves, but such powerful psionicists that they might as well be. Course, no one knows they really exist yet.

They only exist in the culture's psyche as allegories from stories told as oral history during tribal times, so some believe in them, some don't, but they do not grant spells nor require worship. They definitely have an agenda, though...

The gods that created Alvena were mortal beings from a different world that ended up as planar refugees. They gained enough power and knowledge (as high level characters do) to attain immortality. They wandered the planes for a long time before eventually realizing they didn't have to wander but could create their own home. So they created the world and used magic to seed it with life. At first they kinda sucked as deities but learned better over their time. Most people don't even know much about them outside of ancient academia, and few believe they exist, but they're still out in the universe pulling strings and urging the next generations of heroes and events that they think will help the world.

My personal favorite among them is Akai'a. Akai'a is an undead goddess of the night. She form the stars and created Alvena's moons. She's also very nurturing and protective, and is the goddess who first taught magic to the mortal races. She was the one who warned them against experimenting with the infernal planes. She is sometimes seen as a nature goddess, especially since when she was known to the mortals of the world her dominions were filled with lush gardens, owls, and some ancient texts say she may have connections to lycanthropy (or that may be a speculation due to the unique effect the moons have on them).


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Tels wrote:
I always wanted to play chrono trigger, but I'm a little worried that it may not "hold up" to its legacy and people are remembering it through rose tinted nostalgia glasses.

I actually have very little worry about that, honestly. I've gone back and played some old classics for the first time and I've consistently been pleased with the results. So much so that when I played FF9, I agonized for a while as to why this game was so much more somehow than anything I could recall playing in recent memory.

I've come to the conclusion that a lot of old games didn't have the luxury of, or perhaps weren't forced to have, graphics and voice acting to be the selling points of their game. That's not to say they didn't push boundaries but nobody was going to buy your RPG blockbuster if it had the best 16bit graphics but sucked and had no content.

I haven't myself played Chrono Trigger but it's my understanding that it has like 7 endings, and I think some are joke endings (based on my hearsay), and memorable characters and events. A lot of that is pretty special in today's world. I doubt I'll be disappointed, honestly.

I've also returned to play some old games with a critical mind (keeping aware of those nostalgia illusions), or even played games I didn't enjoy growing up (now being older and having a better grasp of what I was supposed to do) and found them to hold up just as well and in some cases better than they did by comparing them to more modern games.


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Perhaps interestingly, I think the reason that the old gods who created the world didn't intercede to save their world from the fiends when they invaded was because they knew that the people of the world needed to do it. After the creation, all the species were more or less out for themselves, and in the early ages the strongest among them subjugated the weaker races (dragons ruled supreme, then giants called the shots, etc). Even when the gods taught the lesser races magic to even the score, they could not simply force their creations to love one-another.

The demon wars changed all of that. Through the fire, their hearts tempered, and now they are citizens of the world. And the gods smiled, for their children found each other, and they knew this was good.

EDIT: Though I'll make no promises the gods weren't up to some sneaky business to tip the scales in their childrens' favor. :3


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Kryzbyn wrote:

I love lore in all forms. I'm currently running a space game where I had to plot a race's history for the last 5000 years (political stuff between tribes and eventually nations) that led them into space flight and terra-forming, along with the pre-history of their galactic "empire" prior to their down fall to a tribal society...

I like coming up with this stuff, and hope that after being exposed to the players, it doesn't all get messed up :P

Alvena has been structured as a relatively short-lived world that had lots of races that for the most part were pretty segregated, but then things changed and all of the world basically had to become one to survive. After the fall of civilization and the scorching of the world, recent memories were those of brothers and sisters of different races living, bleeding, and dying beside and for one-another. Long time enemies helping each other to their feet. Like a thousand dying embers coming together to flourish.

Because of this, the world has become very cosmopolitan. While not super common, it's common enough to see friends, lovers, or even families that extend across cultures and species. It's a world where you a human, an elf, a dwarf, a hobgoblin, a halfling, and a drider could walk into a bar and share a drink or travel together. A world where peasant villagers may be skittish or wary of scaled lizardfolk travelers venturing through their town, but would trade with them all the same.

Because deep down, most still remember that everyone needed each other and may yet still again. Blood can beget hatred easily, but hatred can be healed by blood. It wasn't until one man rallied the broken armies of many nations together under one flag that the inhabitants of the world were able to take their homes back and establish their rightful place in Alvena.


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Some gray elf leaders are kind of iffed with the dwarfs as well but they have no real leg to stand on when voicing their frustrations. See, those dwarfs still guard many of the secrets and knowledge of the old world, including (but not limited to) ancient libraries and arcane knowledge that came from the high elves before the demon wars set the world back so far. The elves have often asked for these treasures to be returned to them to rebuild their society, but the dwarfs have - for better or worse - turned them away each time.

It's possible that the dwarfs greedily wish to keep it for themselves, but in truth, many are uncertain that the gray elves have truly learned their lessons in humility and are concerned that they might screw something up again. Due to the long lives of these races, a large number of the gray elves (including their leaders) still have recent memory of the war that happened centuries ago. Some would say that to replace what they lost so easily would be to forever dull them to the consequences of their actions.

Admittedly, it sucks a lot for the young gray elves who were born as refugees. Most of the gray elves today have never even experienced their former homelands. None have gazed at the earth below from on high, or experienced the beauty and wonder of their magical cities and sparkling technology (the gray elves actually computer systems, sentient constructs, and all kinds of sweet stuff created using magic to power it). Many long for memories not their own, feeling empty and lost as a race with no proud legacy, no place to call their own. This drives many of them to become adventurers as well, because the best place to find fragments of their past...

Are in the great megadungeons buried in the earth's crust. The fallen sky cities themselves, where strange magics, constructs, trapped fiends, and stranger things wait to be unearthed.


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Kryzbyn wrote:
That's a really good read. Thanks for posting that :)

Hey, you're welcome. It's not that I don't like talking about my campaign. :P

Speaking of the dwarfs in the campaign, their society changed a lot after the demon wars. The dwarf lands used to be one massive kingdom run by the dwarf lord and his children. They, like their drow friends, were very isolated from the rest of the world and very keen on storing things away in great vaults and keepers of knowledge and treasures. However, two things drastically changed dwarfs after the war.

1. The king died and because of their mourning and the dire nature of the war (fighting for their very world) his sons and daughters decided to break tradition and not waste any time trying to determine who would be the next dwarf lord. Rather, each continued to govern their own regions as they had done under their father before them, and the dwarf kingdom split into smaller principalities governed by the children. This fracturing has has positive and negative consequences but overall it's been working well for them.

2. The dwarfs ceased being so isolated. Many of the dwarfs felt that they had squandered an opportunity, feeling that they had missed out on the wonders of the world. Previously content to horde knowledge and information gained by others, the dwarfs realized that many of the great wonders of the world were forever lost to them. The apocalypse had come and gone and a world they took for granted would never be there to see again.

Because of this, more dwarfs have ventured from their homeland to see the world. Intent on not missing this new world by sitting idly by in their massive fortresses of stone and metal. This has led dwarfs to go out into the world and discover new wonders and trades they had never really experienced in their home. Many dwarf adventurers have been born from the desire to see the starry desert skies on a sand elf pilgrimage, or build a great ship and sail it to the end of the world, or journey down the continent spanning river with their halfling guides.

They would not, could not, miss it for the world.


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cuatroespada wrote:
niiice. did you play Chrono Trigger btw? talk of floating cities always reminds me of Zeal (technically a floating kingdom with multiple cities) before Cloud City. there's a city like that in my setting, but it's mostly a giant school for the psionically talented.

I only played Chrono Trigger for about 20 minutes at a friend's house. I really need to go play it for real because I've heard nothing but how great and amazing it is and it's probably not a timeless classic for no reason. :)


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necromental wrote:

It's similar to way I portray hobgoblins. Mine also have a warlike tradition and a frenemy dynamic with dwarves. Also, slavery, although my dwarves also practice it. Hobgoblins are constantly training for war and warring because they are being prepared for war against "something", that they or even their shamans and oracles do not know what, but they train non the less.

Ashiel wrote:
They hate drow for betraying the world, and they hate gray elves for destroying it.
Who did drow betray the world to, and what did gray elves do?

Basically the gray elves - aka high elves - were the most advanced humanoid species on the planet in terms of magic and technology, to the point that most of them didn't even live on the surface of the planet anymore, instead living on giant floating cities orbiting the planet at high altitudes (not quite in space but kept aloft by magic).

When the gods who created the world taught mortals magic, they advised against certain uses of that magic. However, that was ages ago, and the gray elves had either forgotten about it, chalked it up to fairy tales, or were arrogant enough to believe that the were simply too awesome to run into any real problems. So they started experimenting with certain planar magics and made contact with Hell (where both demons and devils reside in this setting, but the two are at constant conflict with one-another for dominance of the pit). The mortals of the world at the time weren't particularly familiar with fiendish creatures at the time (diabolism and demonology were fringe sciences and nothing more potent than a few low level fiends had ever been conjured into the world), and after making contact they began to establish communications.

Turns out, powerful ancient fiends tend to be very good at deceiving people, and biding their time. Arch demons and devils provided gifts, insights into the multiverse, and all sorts of useful aids to the gray elves, shared secrets of black magics, etc. Eventually, the elves grew so comfortable with their new "allies" that they constructed great planar gates leading directly to and from Hell itself. It was at this point that the fiends made their move, and invaded the world. Most of the sky cities fell from the sky, many sabotaged by their own people in a desperate attempt to destroy the gates and stop as many of the fiends as possible. The high elves were scattered to the earth as refugees, and as not all the Hellgates were successfully destroyed or sealed, the world felt the ripples as demons and devils flooded into the plane to take it for all it was worth.

The most powerful race on the planet cast down, literally, to homeless refugees, the rest of the world was ill prepared to deal with this fiendish invasion. The greatest human kingdom was taken over by a demon lord, and it became the seat of his power. The demon lord's wife, an equally powerful and terrible creature, sought out the next greatest leader in the world to undermine and that's where she found the drow.

The drow were less ambitious than the gray elves, but were held in great esteem by most. They rivaled the gray elves in their magical knowledge but had mostly isolated themselves inside dense forests and shimmering underground cities to avoid any conflicts with the outside world, doing most of their interactions with the surface through their ancient friends the dwarfs. Their royal bloodline bears the gift of immortality (or at least near immortality) and so their queen - or perhaps more accurately empress - was likewise among the wisest of rulers in the world, having been in her position for ages.

Well, such a perfect ruler made for such a perfect pawn. The demon slipped into their lands quite easily and possessed the drow queen, using her memories and authority to undermine the next race that would have the best chance of halting their advancement on the world. The queen, under the influence of the arch demon, declared that the best path for their people was not to rise up against the infernal invaders but to unite with them as their allies to ensure their continued prosperity alongside these deific beings as friends.

The drow queen's brother thought his sister gone mad, ordering that their people just welcome these invaders into the world with open arms. He confronted her about it, pleading she reconsider. Without hesitation, she banished him from their realm, which was most out of character given their love for one-another. Believing his sister to have lost her mind somehow, with his banishment he used his influence to form a rebellion. In essence, this may have tilted odds just enough to eventually end the demon wars since the civil war that broke out among the drow people kept them from ever entering the war as allies of the great demon lord. Today, even after the demon wars came to an end, the drow are still very isolated and still locked in civil war, as the queen is still possessed by the arch demoness, and the brother still desperate to find some way to put an end to his sister's madness.

The reasons the hobgoblins really, really super hate the drow is that the announcement that they were defecting came at the worst time. The hobgoblins, numerous and militant, were holding the lines at the largest hellgate still in existence. They were getting torn up but had received the promise that the drow would reinforce them. Of course, those reinforcements never came. The hobgoblin race itself was nearly wiped out of existence by the war, dwindling to only a few hundred left alive by the end. It was their ancient enemies the dwarfs who made good on the drow's pact, led by the sons and daughters of the late dwarf king.

The hobgoblins lost more than anyone in terms of sheer casualties during the demon wars. So they still hold a grudge for the gray elves setting the house on fire, and the drow for watching it burn down around them.


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Set wrote:
Stereofm wrote:

Anyways, I don't recall a western fantasy setting that's really representative of Europe, much less of medieval europe.

Game of Thrones is the closest thing I know.

I've seen a bunch of standalone stuff, like GURPS Imperial Rome or GURPS Middle Ages or the 2nd edition Viking and Celts Campaign sourcebooks or whatever, but no serious attempts at covering all of Europe as a single fantasy setting.

The purist in me would prefer that a D&D (GURPS, Pathfinder, whatever) fantasy setting be one or the other, either completely original (like Eberron or Dark Sun) or completely 'fantasy X' (like how Osirion, Mulhorand or Hamnunaptra are 'fantasy Egypt'). A 'fantasy X' setting, in which fantasy Egypt and fantasy Rome and fantasy Gaul and fantasy Germania and fantasy Albion and fantasy Persia all co-existed, without a bunch of made-up countries, could be neat, although it would likely veer away from Tolkein-esque fantasy in that there'd be no room on the map for elven nations, dwarven nations, orc/bad-guy humanoid nations, etc.

It would likely also get a bit Civilization-eque, in that different nations came and went, and you'd have to fudge a lot of historical timelines to have a significant Roman empire, Greek city-states, Egyptian dynastic presence *and* Persian/Ottoman empire all co-existing more or less in their 'golden age.'

This causes me to ponder something. How many settings have you played in that have cultures/empires/kingdoms built upon older ones, or having the old inhabitants now part of the citizenry of this new culture that overtook the old one?

I've got a few places like that in my setting but it occurs to me that I don't see much of that in most settings. Maybe I'm just overlooking it, but you see a lot of that sort of thing in actual history.


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Race BS aside...

I can't remember the last time I played in "medieval europe" in a campaign setting. Every homebrew setting I've played in, never struck me as "medieval europe". Every published setting I've played in (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, a brief foray into Ravenloft) never struck me as particularly european. Of course, most of these have been filled with things like ninja, djinn, western style drifters, wizards, shamans, and lots of crazy monsters ranging from dragons to mummies to jiang-shi.

It's kinda funny. I almost feel like I missed starting in a tavern or somethin'. :P


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Tels wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

Took a break from cleaning my house & working on writing to do a quick doodle of Korlax, the iconic hobgoblin fighting man from my campaign setting.

The pic is rough and dirty, much like Korlax.

He eats soylent green, doesn't he?

Amusingly, hobgoblins in my campaign don't typically eat humanoids. Orcs might, but hobgoblins gotta be pretty desperate to start munchin' on folks.

They're big time slavers though. They have this strange assimilation tradition with their tribes. Slaves that prove themselves to be strong (more of a strength of will rather than physical muscle) end up getting promoted to "fellow hobgoblin" and made part of their tribe. They still don't get to leave freely until after some years have passed and their status as a true honorary hobgoblin has been established. Strangely, their lifestyle while harsh has a way of getting into the minds of those who climb out of slavery in their midsts and a surprising number of humanoids who live to see freedom are never quite satisfied with their old lives anymore, eventually returning to the tribe once more.

They also have this strange rivalry with dwarfs. Dwarfs and hobgoblins have been at each others' throats since time remembered, both have rich warrior cultures, and both species consider the other "worthy" of fighting. The two ancient enemies were the only ones with the combined military strength to hold the forces of hell at the great planar gateway during the worlds' apocalypse (though it nearly drove the hobgoblins to extinction). Their strange relations have been even stranger since.

Hobgoblins hate elves mostly on principle. They hate drow for betraying the world, and they hate gray elves for destroying it. They hate all other elves to a lesser extent but mostly dislike them by association with the former elf species. They strongly dislike wizardly magics due to the association with elves as well, and their "witches" live on the fringes of their society. Perhaps furthering this strangeness, their witches tend to favor taking elves as slaves and lovers.

Here's a short fluff bit from the dwarf entry of a campaign primer I was writing some years ago. It involves the iconic dwarf Gloing and Korlax.

Quote:

Jaleene looked at Gloing as he tipped mugs with the hobgoblin they met earlier that day. A look of confusion upon her face. A ruffled brow, a mouth agape. “Not twenty minutes past those two were having a fist fight in the alleyway, and now they're laughing and drinking like they're best friends.” the elf said puzzled.

“That's just their way.” her human friend Jackson responded. “Sometimes I almost think I get it. Almost. It takes a special kind of man to sit down and drink with an enemy of your very people, or your average dwarf.” he mused.
“Ho-ho! Ye goblin fool, y'need not drink that swill! Try this dwarf brew, and you'll see what makes us so tough as to roll yer arses back down the mountainside every time ye try yer luck!” Gloing said to the hobgoblin across the table, drowning out the mumblings of elves and men.
“Hah, you wish we rolled half as well as you short little bastards. This is good ale though. What do you put in this stuff?” the hobgoblin responded with a toothy chortle.
“It's a secret recipe hairy beasty, but I've got it in good confidence that it's a special mixture of barley and the blood and bones of goblins!” Gloing chided pouring two more tankards.
“Damn strait. Figures you'd need us to make something this good! My name is Korlax by the way.” the hobgoblin said.
“Gloingson Durback Thunderhammer of the Ironguard Clan, but the softies just call me Gloing.” the dwarf responded.
“Heh, damn, that's going to be a lot to carve into my sword when I run you through someday.” Korlax responded, getting ready to pour down the next ale.
“Aye, but at least your name is short enough that I can fit it along with the rest of your long eared kin on the head of me hammer.” Gloing retorted before both of them laughed hysterically and poured more drinks.
“...Like I said...almost...” Jackson said looking to the entirely befuddled elf next to him.

Like much of hobgoblin culture, their romantic relations also seem very paradoxical to most humans. On one hand, their culture seems really open as male and female hobgoblins are capable of attaining anything the other has, both receive educations at the same rates, etc. Yet at the same time, their courting practices are nothing short of frightening barbarism as one will attempt to claim the other by force, which usually ends up in two hobgoblins locked in a desperate fight with lots of hitting, kicking, and biting, until one of them gives in. This tends to cause female hobgoblins of adult ages to be more experienced in fighting than their male counterparts (as they've already had to stomp more than a few "suitors"). Yet seemingly paradoxically, their culture is respecting of marriage (which is a rare but sacred ritual to them) and anyone who knows much about hobgoblin culture might claim marriage when captured to prevent hobgoblins from "courting" with them (because most hobgoblins simply won't even try, for to do so is to invite shame upon themselves for violating the sacred bond).

They're an odd lot.

Another piece of lore written a few years ago concerning hobgoblins.

Quote:

Several generations after the demon wars, the dwarf Kingdom of Adaman fell under siege by an army of stone giants from the north, driven down to raid and pillage by a peculiarly harsh winter. Having waged a continuous war against the hobgoblins for most of that same year, the dwarfs were greatly outnumbered and short on supplies as the routes to other settlements were blocked by the hill giants. While the dwarfs valiantly held their ground, it looked as though the giants would war with them until they ran out of food and broke from lack of supplies.

When things looked blackest, an army of hobgoblins led by warlord Kahn'kalu who had waged the war against the dwarfs throughout the year broke through the stone-giant barricade and delivered fifteen oxen-led carts of packed meat, ale, and other supplies to the dwarf kingdom. The warlord and the dwarf king spoke privately for the better part of a day, then the hobgoblins marched back to their borders and the dwarfs held fast against the stone giants. Three months later the parties went back to waging war against each other; as if nothing had happened.

To an outsider, that is someone who is not a dwarf or hobgoblin, the story would seem insane. Despite their constant conflicts, the two races deeply understand one another. When asked about the odd move, Khan'kalu replied that the dwarfs would have done the same for them. Some suggest that the Khan did it out of respect for the dwarf spirit. Dwarfs likewise say they would have done the same. Some scholars propose that he may have done it because without dwarfs the only people they would find worth fighting was themselves.


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Daw wrote:
Why is it that any talk about setting up reasonable and predictable limitations to magic is so often portrayed as arbitrary and bad GMing? **

9/10 times, it's the reason they are doing it.


Took a break from cleaning my house & working on writing to do a quick doodle of Korlax, the iconic hobgoblin fighting man from my campaign setting.

The pic is rough and dirty, much like Korlax.


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Tels wrote:
Could you use spell like True Strike to add +20 to your attack vs magic defense, thereby, essentially, guaranteeing you succeed and likely adding a truckload of burning stacks?

Nope. A spell like true strike would apply to normal attack rolls. In D20-L, there are two types of attacks. Normal attacks (which target AC) and special/magic attacks that target your defenses (Fort/Ref/Will).

All special/magic attacks scale at a rate of +1/2 your character level + associated ability modifier, much like monster DCs do in Pathfinder. It's irreverent to the level of the spell or ability now, so less than full casters have lower level spells that remain potent even if they lack access to higher level spells (which means woes like the litanty paladin spells that are essentially useless if they allow a save doesn't exist).

So a 1st level character with a +2 mod would have a bonus of +2. A 20th level character with a +10 mod would have a bonus of +20. Ability scores in general scale more smoothly in D20-L (mostly because the inherent modifiers are now baked into your normal progression) and your defenses scale at the same speed as special attacks (so you'll generally see a spell's most impressive effects vs lower level foes).

For example, at 8th level, our caster (with a +5 ability mod) would have a +9 when throwing their fireball spell. Any other 8th level character has a base defense of 11 + 4 + associated stat (let's give them a +3, assuming it's not a favored ability). So their chance would look like this broken down. Rolling a natural 20 on a magic attack gives you an effective +5 bump for the effects of any kickers (kind of like special critical).

Magic Attack Results by d20 Roll
Reflex Defence = 18
20 = 3 stacks of burning
19 = 2 stacks of burning
14-18 = 1 stack of burning
9-13 = Normal damage
8 or less = half damage

Stacks of burning can be removed by soaking someone in water, or spending a full action trying to douse or otherwise smother the flames yourself (the difficulty increases if you're burning really hard).

This means our classic fireball has a tendency to either melt down mooks really fast (foes of a lower level have a noticeably lower defense score relative to your special attacks, so you're more likely to land kickers), or force creatures to choose between trying to stop burning effects or continue fighting (is losing your turn worth the xd6/round damage you're going to be taking?) so it's good for applying pressure.

The reverse is also true. Using special attacks against higher level foes is less reliable. This means that mooks spamming spells or special attacks aren't generally going to cause a party wipe. Since if we have a trio of 8th level mages all launching spells at a 14th level character (who counting +resistance modifiers is probably sporting a 27+ in their defense) is rarely going to take full damage and almost never actually catches on fire.


Aratrok and I have been discussing the spell formatting thing some more, and here's some questions and concerns that cropped up during that conversation.

Discord Chat wrote:

There's too much redundant information, IMO. It's better than the d20 format, but retains a few of its problems.

Listing stuff that is the same in the vast majority of spells when there's nothing special about it makes it much, much harder to search through spell lists for stuff that's unusual. For instance, you have to look through the components list of every spell and figure out whether it deviates from "V, S" mostly by looking at what's not there. It would be way easier if a spell like dimension door instead

1) Only listed components because they were abnormal; Dancing Lights and Magic Missile don't have components sections so you know they're just the same old Vocal + Somatic, but spells that actually have a listing immediately call attention to themselves.
or
2) Had a tag indicating their abnormality. Instead of just listing "Vocal", there'd be a tag that indicates "Doesn't require somatic components" (which is a little more searchable but also harder to read).

Components Discussion

So if we went with this, I would write it into the basic spellcasting rules that all spells default to V,S,M(inexpensive) components unless noted otherwise. So the component's part would only come up in a spell if the spell steps outside of the norm, such as lacking the need for vocals, or having an expensive component, or having a focus item, etc.

Action Discussion
The same was also suggested for actions, setting the default action to 1 major action (akin to a standard action) and only listing actions if they were something other than a major action (such as a full action, swift action, reaction, etc).

About Targets
It was suggested that "Effect" and "Area" information on spells was redundant because everything should just fall under the Target header, such as...

Quote:

Burning Hands

Target: Adjacent 15 foot cone

Magic Missile
Target: 1 or more creatures

Grease
Target: 10-foot square surface

Fireball
Target: 20-foot burst

Which would require removing some targeting information from the magic section but this might be easier to read for most people. It seems pretty simple at first glance at least. The only thing that seems a bit odd under this variant would be stuff that doesn't have affect an area or creates something, such as in the case of summoning spells but then those would probably be "Target special" or something like a summoning target marker could be written in.

About School / Level / Desriptor Compression
Another suggestion was formatting the spells like this.

Quote:

I think school and descriptors could be compressed onto one line by noting the school in place of 'level'. For example:

Dancing Lights (Illusion [shadow] 1) [Light, Cantrip]
Magic Missile (Evocation 1) [Force](edited)

I'd personally like to put descriptors on their own line, but I have to admit that placing them in the title of the spell (at least on the spell list) would make picking out certain types of spells for specializations more convenient (but I fear it might look pretty hideous in the actual spell descriptions).

If feedback is at least mostly positive and all of these adjustments were made, spells would generally look something like this.

Quote:

Fireball (Conjuration [creation] 3) [Fire]

Range long; Target 20 ft. radius burst
Defense Reflex; Magic Resist No
Duration Instantaneous

You conjure a super-heated flame that spreads outward from the point you designate. Creatures and objects in the targeted area take 1d6 fire damage per level if your magic attack beats their defense (to a maximum of 10d6), or half that on a failed attack.

If your attack exceeds their defense by 5 points or greater, you apply a stack of the Burning condition for every 5 points that you beat their defense (the burning condition deals 1d6 fire damage each round at the end of that creature's turn, and multiple burning conditions stack). The Burning condition is non-magical and thus is not subject to being dispelled and continues to function inside areas where magic is suppressed (such as in an antimagic field spell).


Icehawk wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

Incoming lightning bolt in...3...2...1...

This is Azara, the iconic sorceress from my campaign setting. She's an aasimar with a fiery temper who travels with a rather timid tiefling named Kimoi. Azara has a particular appreciation for spells like shocking grasp and lightning bolt as she relishes the way the energy feels coursing across her body body and the smell of sizzling ozone around her. That feeling that travels through the bolt when she feels the arc connect with her target, the sudden release and tense of muscle and sinew that seems almost material across the link just really gets her blood pumping.

Azara is the scariest of the two and while she's not a bad person she isn't very interested in acting righteous just because people seem to naturally expect it of her. Perhaps oddly, Kimoi, who has had to struggle to be more than people expect of her has been a surprisingly good influence on the aasimar and her timid nature seems pretty effective at calming Azara's wrath.

I'm not sure what it is but I'm getting deep one hybrid vibes off the face. I think it's the wide eyes, sharp looking teeth with wide mouth and perhaps not enough shading to make the face seem properly proportionate? The rest looks really good though. I think it's the nose. The nose isn't defined quite enough I think.

Yeah, I feel like I'm still pretty ass at faces. ^~^"


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I lol'd so hard at the auto-correct thing. :P

As to prepared vs spontaneous in terms of overall usefulness of scaling spells, that's not really an issue in D20-L. Spell slots are essentially a resource that you spend on any spells you know or have prepared.

Here's a hypothetical example.

Prepared Spellcaster
1. Has 3 1st level spell slots per day.
2. Can have up to 2 spells prepared + 1 bonus spell (from class feature).
3. Can spend their 1st level spell slots to cast from their 3 prepared spells in any combination desired.
4. Has fewer readied spells than a spontaneous caster but can change some of them out each time they recover all their slots. This gives them incentives to learn lots of unusual spells and create lots of scrolls.

Spontaneous Spellcaster
1. Has 3 1st level spell slots per day.
2. Can have up to 4 spells known + 1 bonus spell (from class feature).
3. Can spend their 1st level spell slots to cast from their 5 known spells in any combination desired.
4. Cannot ready new spells each day but has more spells available to choose from at any given time. The difference begins at +2 spells over a prepared caster and ends at +3 spells over the prepared caster. This gives them maximum flexibility "in the moment" but they'll want to pick spells they tend to use frequently, and thus are less inclined to learn spells "Fizzlewig's Faithful Dog Groomer".


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Tels wrote:
As for the psionic/magic thing, let me clarify. You mentioned wariness about merging spells like Charm Person > Monster because it might step on the toes of psionics. But why? Why would you create whole new psionic versions of magic spells instead of just using the same version.

That's more or less the same conclusion I came to as well. One of my initial concerns was that one of the most defining features of the 3.5/PF psionics system was the ability to scale stuff, so I pondered on the ramifications of that. Having given it some thought, I realized it would be a problem. Especially since psionics still has the appeal of being point-based and often have multiple augmentation options.

Truly the biggest concern is balancing the number of spells you'll want/need with the number of spells you have available. If casting up improves the power of lower level spells significantly, unless certain careful steps were taken to ensure that there were big differences between the low and high level versions of things, a mage could very easily have the appropriate option for every situation with very few spells known / prepared invested (which is why by comparison to even sorcerers, psionic classes get few powers known over the course of their careers, since if you're wise about their usage, every power known gained over the course of your career could be a legitimate option to use).

I imagine that spells known/prepared will probably get tweaked more as the project enters alpha and then moves to beta to find the best balance. I'm already a little concerned that spontaneous casters as I have them set up might be a bit too strong (they get significantly larger numbers of known spells per spell level, before taking into account any class features granting bonus spells. The funny thing about spontaneous casting is it goes from near useless with few spells to amazing with several more spells because your round to round options explode in size) but that tuning's expected to be adjusted as it comes.

Unrelated Note
I'm about to begin hammering out the spells from 0th-5th level and I'm trying to decide on formatting options before I get knee deep into it. Everyone's familiar with the current spell format, but Aratrok noted (quite rightfully I believe) that the current spell format is unnecessarily large. So we were considering ways to make the format more efficient. At the moment we were thinking of using a format that looks like this.

Dancing Lights (Level 0) [Illusion (shadow)]
Descriptors [Light, Cantrip]
Casting Time 1 major action; Components V,S
Range Medium; Effect Up to four lights, all within a 10-ft.-radius area
Defense none; Magic Resist no
Duration 10 minutes (D)
When you cast this spell, you can choose to create up to five points of light, which shed light as a torch or lantern. Alternatively, you can form one faintly glowing, vaguely humanoid shape which casts light as a candle.

The appearance of the lights (or shape) is more or less up to the caster (such as appearing as small will o' wisps, or glowing skulls, or a glowing mist, or small swarms of fireflies, etc).

The dancing lights must stay within 30 ft. of one-another but otherwise may move as you desire with no concentration needed. The lights can move up to 100 ft. per round. A light vanishes if the distance between it and you exceeds the spell's range.

You can only have one dancing lights spell active at one time. Additional castings cause all previous castings to end.

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