Monday, December 29, 2014

Campaign Reference - The Far Isles

Langushur is known as "The Far Shore" for good reason. A mountainous coastline isolated from the rest of the civilized world by vast bayous and fens, the city states and towns of the region make a living from and on the sea. But always within sight of land. For as long as men have lived on the shores of Langushur, on the horizon lay a permanent bank of mist and fog. Ships that entered it never returned. Over many lifetimes of men it remained, a reminder that there were some places mortal men were not meant to travel.
Until two months ago, when suddenly one morning, the peoples of Langushur awoke to find the horizon clear. The brave crew of one ship hoisted sail and headed east. And returned weeks later with an unbelievable tale to tell. They told of a previously unknown archipelago of hundreds of islands, stretching across the eastern sea. On some could be seen fantastic ruins of a unknown age and provenance. On others could be seen strange creatures, and strange men. And treasure, examples of which the sailors scattered on the docks as proof of their tale.

As word spread, ships from all over the Wesrae and Easrae began to arrive in the once backwater of Langushur. On board with the crews who sailed the ships were bands of hardened warriors, desperate cut-throats, questing acolytes and wizards in search of lost magics. To these lay the task of landing on and exploring these dangerous new shores ...

Style of Play

The campaign will start out with the player characters acting as the hired 'away crew' on board a vessel of their choosing. As such, the ship's captain will ultimately determine what and where the PCs explore in the Far Isles. They can of course try to influence the captain, or jump ship and sign on with another captain, but freedom off choice will be limited at first. However, at some point the party will likely end up with a vessel of their own; by purchase, mutiny, boarding action, whatever. At that point, the campaign will become a wide open sandbox (or saltbox to be precise). The PC's will be free to sail and explore wherever, whatever, and however they like. There will be no prescribed story line or course of action beyond what the players decide.

The setting is Late Medieval - Early Modern, with a vaguely Age of Discovery feel. Black powder guns and pikes, conquistadors and landsknecht, pirates and cutlass, Types of adventure depends on what the players want to do. Dungeons to loot, over-land and over-ocean exploration, intrigue among the ships' crews, colonization and kingdom building? Players choice.

Rules details, character creations, and more detailed information below the break.

House Rule - Firearms
While isolated, the cites of Langushur are more technologically advanced than many other areas of Easrae
and Wesrae. In particular, the wizards and craftsmen of the Far Shore have discovered the secrets of black powder and firearms. And a new class of warrior, the musketeer, has arisen to make use of these new-fangled weapons.

Magic users, thieves, halflings, and classes restricted to one handed weapons may use pistols. All other classes may use both pistols and muskets. Musketeers are specially trained in the use of firearms, and have certain advantages when using them as described below and in the Musketeer class description. 

At the start of the campaign, the only available firearms are matchlock pistols and muskets; other firearms may make an appearance as the campaign progresses. The matchlock firing mechanism is a lit match cord, a fuse that burns slowly. When the trigger is pulled, the match is pressed into the priming pan and the powder charge ignited to fire the gun.

25’ / 50’ / 100’
2 lb
50’ / 100’ / 200’
10 lbs

Other Equipment
Powder Horn
       Holds 50 shots
1 lb (empty)

Black Powder
       10 shots
0.5 lb
Shot Bag
       100 round shot
10 lbs
Match Cord
       Per Foot
0.1 lb
Black Powder, Barrel
       1000 shots
40 lbs

Firearms - Disadvantages

A lit match cord burns at a rate of 1 foot every 6 turns; the maximum practical lengths of match cord is 3 feet. Due to the acrid odor and light, the presence of a lit match cord will make it difficult under most circumstances to surprise an enemy. Lighting a cord takes 1d3 rounds.

Black powder weapons are prone to misfiring; the powder discharges but the ball does not fire. Misfires occur on any 'to hit' roll of 1-2 on 1d20. Damp conditions double the chance of misfire (1-4 on 1d20), while wet conditions quadruple the chance (1-8 on 1d20). The chance of misfire is halved for musketeers (1 in 20, 2 in 20 and 4 in 20, respectively). After misfiring, it takes 3 rounds to clear the firearm (2 rounds for musketeers).

Firearms take 3 rounds to reload after firing (2 rounds for musketeers).

Accuracy drops off dramatically beyond short range. 'To hit' penalty at Medium and Long Range are -2 and -3 respectively.

Firearms - Advantages

All firearms do a base 1d8 damage. However, whenever a hit does maximum damage, the die "explodes". That is, another 1d8 is rolled, and this value added to the total damage. This continues as long as an "8" is rolled for damage.

Firearms are noted for their ability to penetrate the toughest of armor. When using firearms, ignore 5 AC points of physical protection (for example: armor, hides, thick carapace, etc) when firing at short range. Armor is treated normally at medium and long range.

The discharge of a firearm is a loud, odorous and flashy endeavor. Discharge of a firearm automatically forces a morale check for creatures with a morale of 7 or less. The first hit from a firearm will also force a morale check in any creatures. This may be the first creature hit in a group, or the first hit on an individual creature. There will be exceptions to this rule as determined by the DM.

Unlike other missile weapons, a pistol may be fired when the shooter is engaged in melee. Both pistols and muskets may be wielded as a club in melee.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess "Firearms" Rules; Barrel Rider Games "Buccaneers and Bilge Rats";  BX Blackrazor "Bow, Crossbows and Guns"

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Character Class - The Calmonari

Requirements: CON 9
Prime Requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 11th
Fight as: Cleric
Save as: Cleric
Armor: Any (but see special abilities below)
Weapons: Any

When men first arrived to settle the shores of Langushur a millennium ago, they found  another sentient race already there. The calmonari are a bipedal amphibious race that have lived along the eastern edge of Easrae since the beginning of time. They stand about 7' tall, with salmon coloured skin, webbed hands and feet, high domed heads and huge eyes. Equally at home on land or in the sea, the calmonari dwell in stone and crystal villages that straddle the low tide line. They are generally a peaceful race, with strong affinity for the creatures of the deep. They generally get along well with humans and demihumans, and it is common for towns and villages along the Langushur coast to have a calmonari settlement attached or close by. Noted for their skill in working precious metals and gems into intricate and abstract forms, calmomari often adventure to gain the treasure and wealth to feed their desire for such decorative works.Due to their extensive interaction with humans, calmonari speak the common tongue in addition to their own language.

The calmonari must have great stamina to survive in the depths. The prime requisite for the class is CON. A score of 13+ gives a +5% XP bonus, while a score of 16+ gives a +10% XP bonus.

Special Abilities 

Swim: In addition to being able to move normally on land, calmonari are accomplished swimmers. Swimming movement is 180' (60'). Note that a calmonari wearing any armor heavier than leather, or who is more than lightly encumbered, is not able to swim.

Luminescence-vision:  Calmonari are able to see the natural bioluminescence of the ocean with great acuity. Treat as having infravision when in salt water.

Amphibious: Calmonari can breath water as easily as air.  However, their skin does dry out after being out of water after some time. A calmonari may remain out of water for the number of days equal to his CON. For each day beyond this, he will suffer a -1 to all saving throws and 'to hit' rolls, and a -1 penalty to CON. One full day in salt water allows the calomnari to recover all adverse effects. If CON drops to zero, the calmonari dies.

Aquatic Telepathy: Calmonari are able to communicate with all aquatic creatures using a limited form of telepathy.   Feelings, emotions, and general disposition are passed along. Complex thoughts and ideas cannot be communicated.

Aquatic Charm: Deeply empathetic with all sea creatures, calmonari may cast Charm Aquatic Creature once per day. The effects are the same as the magic user spell Charm Person, but the size of creature charmed is limited to 1HD for every 2 levels of the calmonari.

Find Traps: Calmonari have a 2in6 chance of detecting traps. Come on, you know why.

Reaching 9th Level

When calmonari reaches 9th level, they may build an underwater or tidewater stronghold, and will typically attract a community of other calmonari who build a settlement around it. The stronghold will also attract 1d4 sea creatures appropriate to the location (such as dolphins, octopi, crayfish, giant fish, etc)

Calmonari Level Progression
Hit Dice (1d6)
+1 hp*
+2 hp*
* Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Character Classes - The Vivimancer and Aquamancer

Two new spell casting classes for the Far Isles campaign; the Vivimancer and the Aquamancer. Neither of these are my own creation, but are lifted with just minor changes from "The Complete Vivimancer" and "Wizardzine #1" by Gavin Norman.

For most purposes, both may be treated the same as the standard magic user. Their prime requisite is INT. A score of 13+ gives a +5% XP bonus. A score of 16+ gives a +10% XP bonus. Both advances in level as magic users (i.e. same hit dice, spells per level, experience points).

The vivimancer and aquamancer may use all magic items typically available to magic users, with the exception of spell scrolls. Spells found on scrolls may be added to the vivimancers or aquamancers spell book as normal if they are included  their regular spell list. Other spells can be transcribed into a vivimancers or aquamancers spellbook for double normal costs and time. There is a 10% chance per level it won't work, however. In addition, the spell must be rewritten to fit the magical specialty. All re-writes requires the approval of the DM.

Spells that are not on their list may still be cast from the scroll, but there in a 10% chance of failure per level of spell being cast, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Similar restrictions apply to magic user and elves who try to cast spells from vivimancer and aquamancer scrolls.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Westmist Session #87 - Finally, Something Besides Monkeys

... while the party considered what to do next, Lomar was slowly being mentally dazzled by his new found treasure sensing ability. Standing too close to Kern was giving him  vicious headache, so he retreated to the surface, accompanied by Jasper. Erijay, Kern and Bjorn were soon joined by Khoog, who came to keep an eye on their progress. Kern, meanwhile, had slipped on his elven cloak and descended the narrow spiral stairway. He noted that at each landing of the metal stairs there was a short rounded alcove. In each lay a mummified ape head, with eyes, mouth, ears and nose sewn shut. Creeped out, he decided not to disturb any of them, but continued his decent. Reaching the bottom, Kern found himself in another round steel corridor. At one end, another wider spiral metal staircase descended. At the other, the corridor gave way to a natural tunnel which split into shafts going up and down.

While Kern was busy below, Erijay and the others explored the tunnel they were in, which also proved to end shortly in a natural shaft going up and down. Hanging at the top was a platform hanging from chains, all connected to a series of gears and levers on the ceiling. When Kern returned,  he surmised that the shaft connected with the one below, and that they use the platform/elevator to investigate. This they did, and with the push of a lever, the platform started to descend. At which point the party realized there were no controls on the platform to stop or reverse it. Simultaneously, there came the dreaded sounds of hooting and grunting from above that heralded the arrival of more spider-apes, two of which appeared climbing down towards them. A short but furious battle ensued, in which one monkey-thing was slain and the other webbed to the wall of the shaft. Meanwhile, through the chaos of battle, Kern noted a steel hatchway set in the side of the shaft. Once the monkey-apes were taken out, he rode back up the elevator (having found controls at the bottom of the shaft), jumping into the shallow alcove holding the door as he passed by it. After first listening for danger, he turned the door handle, but it proved to be barred from the inside. Calling out to Erijay and informing her of the issue, the elf responded with a knock spell which released the bar, and allowed Kern to open the door. He then tied off and lowered a rope, which the rest of the party climbed up.
Beyond the door was a dead end tunnel, about 20' deep.  At the end was a giant human head, ten feet tall with mouth agape. Kern cautiously approached, and noted a dark dried substance smeared around the mouth. Looking in, he also observed a cavity behind the mouth, likewise stained.  Carefully scraping some of the material away with his dagger, Kern examined it closely and observed that it was dried blood. He simultaneously noted that the head was actually made of dried skin stretched over some sort of metal framework. Erijay, meanwhile, used the last charge of the wand of detect magic to determine that the head was indeed magical.  Figuring they needed blood to activate the head, Kern and Erijay proceeded to recover one of the dead spider-monkeys, then slit it's throat and let the blood flow into the cavity behind the mouth. Once it was full, a booming voice rang out in the chamber: ASK YOUR QUESTION, MORTAL. Kern and Erijay quickly settled on asking for directions to the Cerebral Shield. The head proceeded to rhyme off directions and the elf (hopefully) wrote them all down correctly. Once done, Kern noted that the cavity was now empty of blood. So he went to recover the second slain monkey and proceeded to drain it's blood into the head. Alas, to no avail, as it did not respond to any further questions.
But now with a pretty good idea of where to go, the party dropped back to the bottom of the shaft and proceeded to following the directions Erijay had taken down. Kern scouted ahead in his cloak, and led the party down the wider stair shaft (which bizarrely had weapons welded to the walls at each landing) and into another narrow tunnel going east.  This led to a flight of stairs going up, then one going down, before opening into another full height metal passage. Just as they prepared to head down this corridor, however, they were startled by an odd sight. There appeared a quartet of near naked human males with bronzed oiled skin, carrying between them a veiled sedan chair. On sighting the party, they stopped, and Kern tried to engage them in parley. The quartet remained unresponsive to him, however, so Erijay tried speaking to them. Still no answer, but from inside the sedan chair came a response in a deep, sultry female voice. The curtain was drawn back, revealing a beautiful woman bedecked in jewelry. Introducing herself as Ksana, the  lady began to question the party to find out who they were and what they were doing in the depths of the Gann. In the back and forth that followed, the party learned that Ksana lived here with her sisters, and they had need of the party's assistance with an important matter. Refusing the answer any further questions, she requested that the party come to meet with her and her sisters so they might discuss it further. Willing to at least talk, the party agreed. The bearers lifted the chair and Ksana, and proceeded to lead the party down and up a series of shafts and stairs. Finally reaching one more vertical shaft, the bearers set the chair down in an alcove, and the Ksana emerged. The party was somewhat shocked to find that, however beautiful she may have been from the waist up, from the waist down Ksana sported the body of a centipede. She proceeded to scurry up the walls of the shaft, and the party and bearers followed, climbing a ladder set there for that apparent purpose.

The shaft led to a narrow tunnel, through which the party had to crawl single file, before emerging into a large, well lit, natural cavern.  The floor was covered in sand, while in the centre of the room there sat a round stone dais covered in pillows and silks. Here, surrounded by guards in strange leather and mail armor, were four more centipede-women; Ksana's sisters. Kern took the lead in negotiations, and the party learned that the women were creations of the Gann, who had been a great wizard from another plane or world. They wished to increase their numbers, but could only do so in one of the laboratories of the Gann. And it was guarded by another creation of the Gann, the metallo-spiders. The centipede woman and the metallo-spiders were mortal enemies, each seeing the other as some abomination unworthy of the skills of the Gann. Ksana proposed that the party secure the laboratory from the metallo-spiders, and they would be well rewarded with jewelery and whatever information the sisters could provide. To this the party agreed, and received permission to rest for the night in the centipede-women's chamber, before dealing with the metallo-spiders on the morrow.

Next morning, Ksana provided two of their guards as guides, and the party descended deeper into the depths. In particular, the guards led them down the wide spiral staircase discovered earlier, going down over a hundred feet until they reached a door similar to the metal hatch from the previous day. The guards silently indicted that the party would find the metallo-spiders on the other side of the door; the party was to go through, but the guards would await them on this side. With a shrug, Kern went ahead and searched the door for traps, and then the party passed through. The two guards closed the door behind them with a clang. On the other side was a nondescript natural tunnel. The ceiling opened up into a wide shift that rose beyond the range of their lights. Further along, the tunnel ended in a shaft going down. Rather than go meet the metallo-spiders on their own ground, the party set up a defensive position here, backs to the door. And then proceeded to make an awful noise to attract their foe. After about 10 minutes, their efforts were rewarded with the sight of two creatures climbing up from the shaft; metallic creatures with long spider legs, a metallic body, covered in flashing gems and in the rough shape of a human brain. These paused for a moment, then scuttled at high speed towards the party. Erijay cast haste, then she and Bjorn fired magic missiles to slay one of the creatures. The other creature bit the elf with it's pincers, and Erijay felt a searing pain as hot liquid metal was injected into her body. Nearly spent, Eirjay nevertheless was able to stand and help finish off the remaining foe.Kern then pried the gems from both bodies as a reward for their efforts.
Assuming there were more than two metallo-spiders lurking elsewhere, and surprised by their powerful bite, the party choose not to advance just yet. Instead, Bjorn started the process to summon an air elemental with the censor, placing the creature in the shaft ahead of them. They then proceeded to make more noise, and once more their efforts were rewarded with another pair of metallo-spiders coming up the shaft. These hesitated before attacking, seeming to be waiting for something. Kern took advantage of the pause to try negotiating. He was answered by a toneless metallic voice; the spiders were now angry and unwilling to deal with 'flesh-creatures'. And especially not interested in dealing with the centipede-women.  

The reason for the spiders pause was soon apparent, for the sounds of battle, then screams, came from the door behind the party. At that, the two spiders in the tunnel surged forward to engage the elemental, and the door opened behind the party to reveal two more metallo-spiders attacking their rear! The air elemental blocked the first two metallo-spiders, but one was able to attack the back rank through the door. Unfortunately, Bjorn was the target, and the magic user was blasted with a bite and molten metal. That was bad enough, but it also broke his concentration, freeing the elemental from his control. The elemental tried to get at Bjorn and attack him, but was hampered by the low tunnel. Instead, it took a last blow at the spiders and flew up to attempt an escape through the shaft above. This allowed the other two spiders to get in and attack Erijay and Khoog., while the third continued to attack from behind. Low and spells and already badly battered, it looked to be the end for Kern, Erijay and the rest. But in quick succession, the tide turned. Kern hauled out his pickled medusa head, and was able to turn the spider in the door to stone. Bjorn then webbed the stone spider in the door , blocking the entrance completely. Erijay caught the other two spiders in another web spell, and she and Khoog then hacked the things to bits. The fourth spider, in the stairwell behind the stone spider, scurried away, leaving the party to breath a sign of relief. They swiftly pried away the gems from the two dead spiders, then beat a hasty retreat before more metallo-spiders or the air elemental returned. They headed back to the centipede-women, who were not impressed with the party's failure and loss of two of their slaves ...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Character Class - The Swashbuckler
Requirements: DEX9
Prime Requisite: STR & DEX
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: none
Fight as: Fighter
Save as: Thief
Armor: Studded Leather, Leather, or other light armor; No Shield
Weapons: Any one handed melee weapon. Any thrown missile weapon. Pistol. 

Most fighters put their faith in weight of steel, relying on heavy armor and weapons to impose their will on the field of combat. Some, however, take a more elegant approach to combat. Swift of foot and blade, the swashbuckler relies on speed and precision, rather than a heavy blade and armor, to defeat his foes.

The swashbuckler's prime requisites are STR and DEX. A score of 13+ in both gives a +5% XP bonus. A score of 16+ in both gives a +10% XP bonus.  

Special Abilities:

Fleet of Foot: The swashbuckler adds 1/2 his level (round down) to armor class.

Nimble Fighter: The swashbuckler relies as much on agility and precision as he does strength. Consequently, he may use either his STR or DEX modifier for to-hit and damage.

Fighting Florentine: The swashbuckler may choose to use his agility to strike hard and fast, rather than doge his enemy's blow. In any round, he may forgo the AC bonus for "Fleet of Foot", and instead  fight two handed with no penalty to-hit for the primary weapon, and a -2 penalty to hit for the secondary weapon. The secondary weapon must be smaller than the primary weapon.

Dashing Deeds:  The swashbuckler is known for his panache in combat. Quick of sword and foot, he can do things of which the heavily armed warrior can only dream: disarm opponents with a flick of the blade, swing on a chandelier over the melee and drop behind to attack the rear, carefully make an aimed shot at a particular location on his foe, blind opponents with the sweep of his cloak, etc.
Whenever a swashbuckler makes an attack, he may choose to perform a 'dashing deed'. Basically anything flamboyant and Errol Flynn-like, he can try it. The chance of success is determined by rolling 1d6 and comparing to the following chart:

6 (roll 2nd d6; fails on a roll of ‘6’)

Reaching 9th Level: 

Swashbucklers do not settle down to become rulers as other fighters . At 9th level, however, the swashbuckler may instead establish an Academy, to teach others how to fight with finesse. If established in an urban or other appropriate area, the academy will attract 2d6 first level swashbucklers. They must be treated fairly and given appropriate training or they will abandon the academy for a better school. If any followers die in the swashbucklers' service, they will not be replaced. 

Swashbuckler Level Progression
Hit Dice (1d8)
+2 hp*
+4 hp*
+6 hp*
+8 hp*
+10 hp*
+12 hp*
+14 hp*
+16 hp*
+18 hp*
+20 hp*
+22 hp *
* Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored
Barrel Rider Games "Swashbuckler"; The OSR Library "Swashbuckler";  Beyond the Black Gate "Class: Musketeer"; Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG "Mighty Deeds of Arms" rule; Errol Flynn movies; "The Three Musketeers"