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Faction Abilities.
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Ars Mysteriorum
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Joined: 27 Sep 2008
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Location: Sioux Falls, SD, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:59 pm    Post subject: Faction Abilities. Reply with quote

My buddies are currently fleshing out/editing the world that kind of just happened while we played as kids. We're actually surprised by the sheer epic-ness of it all.

I'm especially happy with the classless system, which opens up wholly new kinds of characters we never had the ability to create back in the old days.

To the point, we have quite a few "factions" in our game of specialized character types. We were kids, so these concepts aren't exactly groundbreaking (which is what we're working on with the fleshing out bit). We wish to create abilities representative of the special training characters receive, which may come in the form of five circles of single spell-like abilities, specialized equipment, and/or exclusive Disciplines.

Here's my concept:

Merrow Slayers (Spanish Naval Culture) - Only those nobles with strong Marid blood flowing in their veins can wield the magics and perform the swift physical techniques capable of dispatching their dreaded foes.

What abilities and equipment, if any, would you grant this special organization trained to fight a specific creature? I was thinking of using the Circle System, where a character buys the next Circle, but rather than an exhaustive list of spells, there would be a short, relevant list of spells, Disciplines, and/or equipment for each level.

What do you think?
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Last edited by Ars Mysteriorum on Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Moth
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting idea.

I like the idea of giving players more leeway in how they spend their points at first level myself- perhaps allowing Merrow slayers to take more than Grade I in a few disciplines or proficiencies at 1st level. For instance, maybe the Merrow slayers can buy up to 2 or 3 grades in Sailing or Swimming at level one, or maybe they get access to one or more of the optional Disciplines from the GM section.

I like the idea of offering more options and opportunities more than I like giving out freebies. It keeps character creation versatile and creative but offers solid incentives for joining a guild or what have you.
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Ars Mysteriorum
Demiurge


Joined: 27 Sep 2008
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Location: Sioux Falls, SD, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moth wrote:
Interesting idea.

I like the idea of giving players more leeway in how they spend their points at first level myself- perhaps allowing Merrow slayers to take more than Grade I in a few disciplines or proficiencies at 1st level. For instance, maybe the Merrow slayers can buy up to 2 or 3 grades in Sailing or Swimming at level one, or maybe they get access to one or more of the optional Disciplines from the GM section.

I like the idea of offering more options and opportunities more than I like giving out freebies. It keeps character creation versatile and creative but offers solid incentives for joining a guild or what have you.


Oh, the characters would HAVE to spend skill points at skill level up to get the next Faction Circle. Freebies would be overpowered up the yin-yang.
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Moth
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking back at the OP, I think I get what you mean by Circle system now. I kinda like it.

One way to go about it is group together a set of Disciplines, including maybe a couple spells, slap an organization rank/title on it, e.g. "Corsair" and offer it at a slight discount- i.e. make it a couple fewer points than buying all the Disciplines together (not to mention you can't get spells individually without magic potential and circles normally).
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very cool idea, Ars M.

I dig Moth's idea of packages, were those in the faction possibly get a subset of skills at a discount. Of course, new disciplines could be offered. I like an extended holding-of-breath discipline, which could go as far as water-breathing.

An idea I just had, would be to label a number of disciplines as part of a subset. Then for each discipline a character owns, any new one in the subset is discounted in cost by 1. The character develops a mastery in that path, making further development in that path easier and easier.

Interesting. -I'm going to think on this a bit more.


Huh: I accidentally posted this as an edit of Moth's post first. Oops. I fixed it.
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Gregory Vrill
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a great idea. Essentially, it's a generalization of the spellcasting system- rather than Circles being only magic, they also represent a shared skillset only usually available by training with a select few.

This is sort of what I had in mind with a few groups here and there, and instead opted for things like combat schools to give reduced cost of skills in exchange for cash. (Simply because, 1) it hadn't occurred to me, and 2) at that point, we'd settled on the basic skill system.)

...

Hedge Magic in Twylos, for example, is strictly the domain of the Alchemists Guild. I think potion and scroll making is a bit prohibitive in Wayfarers as it stands, and doesn't quite match how commonplace these minor items were in the game world. Thus potion brewing and poison/drug/chemical making, just as a non-magical (or not necessarily magical) ability, might be a 2nd or 3rd Circle discipline.

In this way, the Guild rankings of Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master, would be more tightly coupled to Circles and abilities, which is sort of what I was going for.

...

Anyway, this doesn't quite answer Ars M's question about the Merrow Slayers per se.

Water breathing seems a critical ability. It could be provided by a cheap source of drugs- some alchemical algae compound or something, and at higher levels magically through a straight-up Water Breathing spell. Depending on how weird you like to go, you could also have a Dune Guild-like thing, where at a certain point, agents undergo genetic/magical manipulation and grow gills. (Me, I'd go with that.)

I'd also have cross human/humanoid and Merrow breeding programs and 'infiltrators' who look like merrow and have some of their native abilities (like water breathing above).

I'm a fan of harpoon guns and nets as weapons.

I'm going off the deep end here, eh hell, sorry, excuse the pun. A long time ago, Grayfaced designed a world where the Whaling Guild was a major force, and the idea stuck with me. I don't know what he did with it, but here's something that got left on the cutting room floor of Twylos.

Yeah, the Whaling Guild. (In Twylos, a fringe part of the Navigators Guild.) In exchange for providing a needed resource- blubber for oil, maybe other parts- the Guild grew wealthier, eventually building giant ships that could traverse the oceans. This gave them a monopoly on open-sea travel, and they became a rich, worldwide political force. At some point, they came into contact with deep ones/merrow/agents of the kraken/etc, and the focus of the Whaling Guild radically changed, becoming a Twylos-version of Delta Green, if you know that, if not, basically like 'Men In Black', trying to prevent the merrow from colonizing the earth.

From there, it's a natural step to genetic programs of breeding and gills. I also used to hang out with a guy who thought that, in real life, the solution to all the world's problems was gills. (Send people into the sea, food, energy, room, etc.)

And just like merrow breeding, as not everyone is probably marid or marid-derived, maybe as you go up in Circle, you have to drink more and more Marid juice to become further indoctrinated and more powerful.

...

Back to the program. Underwater combat and gymnastics training. Sensitivity to low-frequency sounds, or ability to utter them for long distance underwater communication. Marid themselves are probably f***ing rich, so you might switch characters onto some sort of d20 modern currency-credit system, where every Circle they get ups their bank account. Ability or equipment to process salt water, turn it into normal water. If merrow are poisonous, regenerate, serve evil kraken that possess your brain, etc, obviously special defenses or tactics vs these abilities.

...

If you can explain more about the world, the merrow, etc, I'm sure some of us here will be happy to continue to discuss it.
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Gregory Vrill
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a really rough draft, but maybe something like this:

Merrow Slayer Initiate- 5 skill points
Grade, Merrow Slayer- 2 skill points + (2 * Grade), or:
Merrow Slayer Initiate (Grade I)- 5 skill points (5 total)
Merrow Slayer Novice (Grade II)- 6 skill points (11 total)
Merrow Slayer Apprentice (Grade III)- 8 skillpoints (19 total)
Merrow Slayer Journeyman (Grade IV)- 10 skill points (29 total)
Merrow Slayer Master (Grade V)- 12 skill points (41 total)

Grade I Abilities:
Underwater Fighting (we don't have rules for underwater combat as far as I know Swill... maybe something like -3 Agility, -6 to hit? And Underwater Fighting cuts that to -2 Agility, -3 to hit.)
Savant, Maritime (+1 to all checks in deep sea)

Grade II Abilities:
Silent Casting
Savant, Maritime (+2 to all checks in deep sea)

Grade III Abilities:
Improved Underwater Fighting (no penalties)
Savant, Maritime (+3 to all checks in deep sea)

Grade IV Abilities:
Captain (get your own boat and small crew)
Savant, Maritime (+4 to all checks in deep sea)

Grade V Abilities:
Marid Graft (gain gills, +1 to all stats, +3 to mental resistance)
Savant, Maritime (+5 to all checks in deep sea)

...

Something like that, but with maybe two or three other skills/spells/things per grade?
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Ars Mysteriorum
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I turn my back for a moment, and Awesome strikes again!

Sheesh!

As far as the setting goes, this was all developed by a bunch of early-teenage geeks, none of which cared to inject the depth of such works as Dune.

What we have here is an attempt to modify the vastly overpowered concepts we had in AD&D 2E into something playable.

I'll be less than original and name the nation the Kingdom of Asturia (after a region of Spain). Asturian nobles have Marid blood in their veins from an age long forgotten when Man was greater than his present form.

Any Asturian noble worth his salt proves himself by being an excellent sailor; a warrior adept with the rapier, parrying dagger, and halberd; and a slayer of Merrows, who plague the coastal areas of Asturia. To be a hunter of Merrows, an Asturian noble must go through several ancient rituals to awaken the blood of the Marid as well as the ancestral memories it carries. Naturally, a Merrow Slayer must prove himself worthy of such rituals by performing great deeds to have the next level of ritual performed upon him.

Asturians nobles become more and more entranced with the freedom of the open sea as their Marid heritage becomes more and more prevalent. The King is a mobile figure who is on his ship as much as he possibly can be, such that it is not uncommon that court is held aboard his vessel, and he weighs anchor as soon as his duties are concluded.

This has naturally lent a roguish reputation to Asturian culture.

The above is tentative, but I'm liking the sounds of it thus far...

Your build is wonderful and I'll have to take a look at other abilities we can add to make the Merrow Slayer more suited to his occupation.

Wow, this is like having the greater part of the work done for me.

Good news as well, I received a check for my birthday and will be purchasing the book as soon as possible!

Thanks so much for all your help and this wonderful game!

EDIT: Could we treat fighting underwater as though you were fighting while entangled? Maybe a little less than -4 to dodge and to hit... possibly -3?
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JimmySwill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is some very good stuff, Ars M. I like the idea of builds or paths like this.

As for underwater fighting, it is something I wish I had addressed in the book, at least in the Optional Rules section. My feeling is to treat water as an impeding factor, much like armor. Say water gives a base impedance of 4. However, for each grade of swimming a character has, they reduce this water-related impedance by 1.

It could be assumed all naturally aquatic creatures have a swimming grade of IV.

This seems to be an easy way to deal with it, and it further rewards those with the swimming proficiency. -Thoughts?

At any rate, if you do put ideas these to paper Ars M, consider sharing it with us. I'd love to put your ideas up on the resources page. -It's really fantastic stuff.

Maybe we can all work up some water-adventure rules and I'll draft up a PDF to post. I think some things we should consider are visibility underwater, maximum diving depth, and effects on some weapon use. Then there are effects upon spell-casting, etc. Geez, this could be a whole supplement.
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Ars Mysteriorum
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Joined: 27 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JimmySwill wrote:
This is some very good stuff, Ars M. I like the idea of builds or paths like this.

As for underwater fighting, it is something I wish I had addressed in the book, at least in the Optional Rules section. My feeling is to treat water as an impeding factor, much like armor. Say water gives a base impedance of 4. However, for each grade of swimming a character has, they reduce this water-related impedance by 1.

It could be assumed all naturally aquatic creatures have a swimming grade of IV.

This seems to be an easy way to deal with it, and it further rewards those with the swimming proficiency. -Thoughts?

At any rate, if you do put ideas these to paper Ars M, consider sharing it with us. I'd love to put your ideas up on the resources page. -It's really fantastic stuff.

Maybe we can all work up some water-adventure rules and I'll draft up a PDF to post. I think some things we should consider are visibility underwater, maximum diving depth, and effects on some weapon use. Then there are effects upon spell-casting, etc. Geez, this could be a whole supplement.


The Water Impedance seems like an elegant way of resolving underwater fighting without creating a new mechanic. Bravo there.

I'll likely be typing up rules for faction packages using the framework Greg fleshed out a bit. I'll happily keep you posted as our group works on our concepts and offer these as examples.

As far as a naval supplement, I would love to see it happen. My players tend to shy away from anything sea-related due to their lack of knowledge on the culture and terminology, and I would like them to include that aspect of the world more as we continue to grant depth to our setting.

My book is coming this week, so I'll probably have much more to say after I get it. I much prefer reading from a physical book!
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Ars Mysteriorum
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, Merrow Slayers would be completely NUTS to try and take on 4-16 Merrows with an entourage of sharks head on.

Also, that Merrow live in deep underwater caves makes it tough to track them to their lair in the "slay the dragon" fashion...

I'm going to have to think long and hard on how to make this work without creating a faction of completely suicidal nitwits in early levels.
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Ars Mysteriorum
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK... how about this?

At initiate level, a Merrow slayer gains the ability to use the stealth skill while swimming? It's then heavily suggested that the Merrow Slayer approach his target with a heavily envenomed knife to strike swiftly (likely with backstab) and vanish back into the water.

At higher levels they gain the ability to become invisible in water once per day. Water breathing and the like comes later as well...

Thoughts?
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Ars Mysteriorum
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Joined: 27 Sep 2008
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Location: Sioux Falls, SD, USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, crud, brain's going a million miles an hour.

Spinning off ideas for generic "Lesser Factions" and "Greater Factions."

Lesser Factions grant less abilities, but are nice for character who still wants enough skill points to still do his own thing. The tasks necessary for advancement to the next circle are challenging, but not horrendously inconvenient. This is for less statistically powerful factions. Simply because we call it lesser doesn't mean it doesn't have more clout than a Greater Faction. (I'm thinking 3 circles for now...)

Greater Factions are a commitment, not unlike magic. They require specific, very challenging tasks in order to advance into and grant great rewards in return. There is a larger skill point cost and there are also more circles (possibly 5). This is for characters who wish to devote themselves more completely to an organization, etc.

I'll hammer this out more, as my book's coming tomorrow!

EDIT: The more I look at this, the more I think it's becoming "Create a Prestige Class." Which is actually kind of cool, because it still manages to be flexible!
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greyfaced
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "prestige" class thing is what actually scares me about it. Soon npc's will have a faction giving them bonus' that PC's can't have.

I'm not saying don't do it, on the contrary do whatever works for you and your group. If everyone is down with it and it makes the game fun, go for it.

I just hate playing the Monk guy, who isn't into the whole faction thing, who can't learn how to do at level 4 what a bunch of faction level 2 guys can do. The whole point to me with a skill based classes system is that if you can buy it you can do it. It's up to the Dice-Commander (tm) to set the cost evenly for the ability in a open and fair market. Now, I do think that having a system for studying under people with great skill in a particular field should lower the costs of the skill. I know this conversation has something to do with the magic of wayfarers, but I'm talking more abstract game mechanic. I could imagine some factions giving essentially detect evil or something like it, and a DM saying well, you can't have it because you aren't in the faction. Worse than that is when some faction guy without awareness (magic sensitivity whatever it was called) has detect evil, buy a PC with awareness, who has established subterfuge and a dedication to killing those it they think are bad wants it and is told to join a faction.

It's essentially the problem I have with D and D 3rd edition. Why can't my thief cleric of shadows dude just buy the feat hide in plain sight....etc.

My long winded thoughts, somewhat on topic.
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Ars Mysteriorum
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

greyfaced wrote:
The "prestige" class thing is what actually scares me about it. Soon npc's will have a faction giving them bonus' that PC's can't have.

I'm not saying don't do it, on the contrary do whatever works for you and your group. If everyone is down with it and it makes the game fun, go for it.

I just hate playing the Monk guy, who isn't into the whole faction thing, who can't learn how to do at level 4 what a bunch of faction level 2 guys can do. The whole point to me with a skill based classes system is that if you can buy it you can do it. It's up to the Dice-Commander (tm) to set the cost evenly for the ability in a open and fair market. Now, I do think that having a system for studying under people with great skill in a particular field should lower the costs of the skill. I know this conversation has something to do with the magic of wayfarers, but I'm talking more abstract game mechanic. I could imagine some factions giving essentially detect evil or something like it, and a DM saying well, you can't have it because you aren't in the faction. Worse than that is when some faction guy without awareness (magic sensitivity whatever it was called) has detect evil, buy a PC with awareness, who has established subterfuge and a dedication to killing those it they think are bad wants it and is told to join a faction.

It's essentially the problem I have with D and D 3rd edition. Why can't my thief cleric of shadows dude just buy the feat hide in plain sight....etc.

My long winded thoughts, somewhat on topic.


I think this is the extreme of what I'm going to place down in my system. This is not intended to be a quick way to get higher level powers, but rather more specific abilities that are crafted to achieve the faction's intention.

I'll work on this and put up a sample when I feel it's well-balanced, I think you'll find it in the spirit of Wayfarers. It's not going to be quite as much like prestige classes like you're thinking. Actually, it will likely only be reminiscent of that concept only in passing.

We'll see. It's still formative and very uncertain, as I really plan to dig into the book and get a feel for it in the coming week.
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