Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts

Saturday, April 13, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: L is for Larian Studios

 I have been talking a lot about D&D history this month, but today I want to shift focus for a moment and talk about D&D's present. Honestly, the best Dungeons & Dragons content is not coming from the current owner and publisher, Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro), but from other companies. One in particular is Larian Studios, and the content is Baldur's Gate 3.

Larian Studios

It is not really hyperbole to say that Baldur's Gate 3 is the biggest video game of the last couple of years and might be the best video game I have ever played.  Larian is a smaller independent video game company located in Belgium. They have had a great track record of producing engaging, high-quality games for a small studio. Their big claim to fame prior to BG3 was their Divinity series. In their game Divinity: Original Sin 2, you can see the elements that would later be enhanced and perfected in BG3.  They are notable for their constant and rapid support, their desire to listen to their fans and give them what they want, and their games do not have microtransactions. These are little features in other games. Want some cool armor? Great, just $0.99 on your credit card. Cool sword? $1.99. For Larian, if you want those things, they are in the game for you to find somewhere.

They are a small independent studio producing games that rival, and in many cases surpass, the ones made by larger and more well funded companies.

Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3

Larian Studios shocked me with this. Baldur's Gate 1 was released in 1998, and Baldur's Gate 2 was released in 2000, with updates up to 2016. They had been rumors before of a Baldur's Gate 3, but nothing ever came from it.

Then in 2020 Baldur's Gate 3 went into "Open Beta" with little fan fare and almost no mention in the wider Dungeons & Dragons community.

In August 2023 it got its official release on PC and PlayStation with Mac and Xbox versions close behind.  To say it blew up is putting it rather mildly.

Right now, the game has an aggregate score of 96/100 from all reviews. I has also won pretty much every Game of the Year award for 2023 there is, including sweeping all five of the industry's top Game of the Year Awards. It even won more BAFTA awards while I was writing this post!

Like all the other Baldur's Gate games, this one takes place in the Forgotten Realms, but 120 or so years after the first two events (and a few months after the published book adventure Descent to Avernus). This corresponds to the published Forgotten Realms game books and novels, which had 100 or so years between the 3rd and 4th editions. This game uses some of the same mechanics and feel of Divinity: Original Sin II, and it is heavily influenced by the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules.  It feels like a 5th Edition game. The classes, spells, magic, and combat are all from the 5th edition rules.

Want to know how D&D plays but don't have people to play with? This is not a bad substitute.

I am currently on my third play-through with an eye toward's completion. I am half way through Act II. In this one I am running as a "companion run" to my 2nd play through. Same basic outline with similar characters, only swapping who is the main character. 

My first full play-through was with Larina. This was followed by Sinéad. Now, I am mirroring my Sinéad run with Taryn. They were "NPCs" in each other's run.

Larina
Larina

Sinéad
Sinéad

Taryn
Taryn

I have incomplete runs with Kelek, Skylla, Rayne (Bloodrayne), and, of course, my Paladin Johan.

Rayne
Rayne

Kelek and Skylla
Kelek and Skylla on an "evil run."

Larina and Johan
Johan's run with NPC Larina

Johan
Johan

I have been using a combination of hirelings, "Withers" (an in-game guide), and the "Magic Mirror" to turn the various NPCs into previous playable characters. So my Johan run for example has Larina in it, She can't interact like Johan can, but game-play wise she is the same. 

Same with my Taryn/Sinéad runs. In my mind they are the same run, just from each character's point of view. 

This has also allowed me to try out different "romance" options. Karlach for Johan, Gale for Taryn, Shadowheart for Sinéad, and Shadowheart, Halsin, Wyll, Mizora, Sorn and Nym Orlith, (!) all for Larina. She is a lover. She is also a fighter, but mostly a lover.

Bloodrayne *might* go for Astarion. She is based on the video game character Rayne from Bloodrayne, after all. But I have never had my approval rating high enough with him in any run. My Kelek and Skylla runs are all about violence, not romance. Which come to think of it, might be what I need to do for Astarion. 

The game is bloody, violent, very often NC-17 and NSFW, and an absolute ton of fun.

I am just over 350 hours into all my runs and I am STILL finding new material. Both of my kids play it, and they tell me about things they found that I haven't! I even found another hidden door last night in Act II. So yeah, I have in no way exhausted all of this game's options. 

This is the most fun I have had with a video game in a very long time.

Sadly Larian will not be doing Baldur's Gate 4 despite their overwhelming success. They have been super gracious about it online, saying they loved doing BG3, but they want to do new things now. Reading between the lines, it was obvious that Hasbro was asking for a LOT more in licensing fees for the Forgotten Realms world, and Larina didn't want to lay people off to pay for it. So, kudos to Larian Studios.

Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro now has full rights again to all these characters. Back when Baldur's Gate 2 came out Wizards published game material to support it. Now? Nothing for Baldur's Gate 3. I hope they do something; otherwise, they are leaving money on the table. 

Tomorrow is Sunday, so there will be no A to Z post, but I will continue my Sunday Specials. So tomorrow is Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.


Friday, April 12, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook LAST 48 Hours!

 I am sharing this one again. Why? Well, mostly because I want to, but I also think there will be images of my little witch Larina in it! At least I saw some in the previews. So I am quite happy about that!

 A very special one today! This is from my very good friend Djinn and she has a new art book coming out.

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/djinnintheshade/djinn-unboxed-nsfw-artbook?ref=theotherside

Djinn has been a good friend for a long time. She began doing illustrations of her D&D character, Solaine, a witch with a knack for all sorts of trouble, and they took off.

If you have seen her work in the past, you know what to expect here, and it should all be fun. She is in Italy, so the books will be shipped from there, which will cause extra charges for shipping and handling. 

I am hoping this is a big success. Djinn is a great person and we all want to support real human artists. Here she is!

Get on this one right away we are in the last 4845 hours.

Unless I am mistaken, this looks like a few of the images that will be included in the book.

Larina by Djinn

Larina Broom

Larina Bar fight



Sunday, April 7, 2024

Larina Nix for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

Larina by Beatriz Sanguino
Larina by Beatriz Sanguino
Again, I'm surprised I haven't posted something like this already. Given that I talked about AD&D 2nd Edition earlier today, I thought this might be a good time to discuss the different witches from the AD&D 2nd Ed era. 

I have talked in the past about how the AD&D 2nd edition era was a good time for all sorts of witch classes. By my count, there were at least four official classes from TSR (and later WotC) for AD&D 2nd Ed, and quite a few unofficial ones. 

I have compared a few witch classes with each other at varying levels of detail over the years and will likely do it more when I take my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms for AD&D 2nd Ed. But looking back, I see I never taken the time to compare the AD&D Second classes to each other. The closest I have come was comparing two AD&D 2nd Characters to each other, Nida and Sinéad, and Sinéad is no longer even a proper witch. 

One day, I'll do more, but I want to look at one official witch and two unofficial ones for today.  I think I'll save Nida when it comes time to discuss the other official witches. Plus, using Larina here is much more appropriate. 

As I mentioned earlier today, AD&D 2nd Edition can be seen as an extension or continuation of the AD&D 1st Edition line. The games are very compatible. So, my characters often moved from 1st to 2nd Edition without so much as getting a new sheet. Larina here is no exception. She began in 1986 with AD&D 1st Ed and moved to AD&D 2nd Ed in 1989 without a blink. But I did make new sheets for her eventually.

Let's go back a bit before AD&D 2nd edition came out. Back in July 1986, I created a witch character, Larina, to test some ideas I had about doing witches in (A)D&D. When Dragon Magazine came out in October of 1986 I started using that. But all the while, I am collecting my notes and ideas. Moving forward to 1989, AD&D 2nd Edition was released. There were a lot of new ideas in that and I was looking forward to trying out my collected notes. One set of notes became my Sun Priest kit for Clerics, another became a pile of notes for the Healer, another the Necromancer/Death Mage, but the largest would become the Witch. It would be almost 10 years before it would see publication but it did and Larina was a central figure in that work.

In those 10 years, there was a lot of writing and playtesting. 

While I kept my Dragon #114/AD&D1st ed witch version of her, I created a parallel version using my new witch rules. This version was supposed to be the same person, just with a different set of rules to govern her. While that happened, two other witch classes were published to help me make other choices. I also set her up for these rules and played all three (or four, really) versions to see how she worked in different situations.  So, if you have ever wondered if I have run out of things to say about witches or even this witch in particular, the answer is no, I have spent more hours with her than any other character I have.

So I would like to present her for AD&D Second Edition, but three different witch classes.

Various AD&D 2nd Ed Witches

Larina Nix for AD&D 2nd Edition

This version(s) of Larina is just the continuation of her AD&D 1st Edition incarnation.

Base Stats (same for all versions).

Larina Nix
Human Witch, Lawful Neutral

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 17 
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 18 
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18

Movement: 12
AC: 1
HP: 86

Weapons
Dagger, Staff

Defenses: Bracers of Defense (AC 1)

Languages: Common, Alignment, Elven, Dwarven, Dragon, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan
Ancient Languages: Primordial, Abyssal, Infernal

So, in this version, her dex and con were raised by some magic.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook
The Complete Wizard's Handbook

Class: Wizard
Kit: Witch
Level: 15

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 11
Rod, Staff, Wand: 7
Petrify/Polymorph: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Magic: 11

THAC0: 16

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe

Powers
3rd level: Familiar
5th level: Brew Calmative
7th level: Brew Poison
9th level: Beguile
11th level: Brew Flying Ointment
13th level: Witch's Cure

Spells
1st level: Burning Hands, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Copy, Chromatic Orb
2nd level: Blindness, ESP, Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter, Knock, Ice Knife
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Hold Person, Hovering Skull, Iron Mind, Pain Touch
4th level: Dimension Door, Fear, Magic Mirror, Remove Curse, Fire Aura
5th level: Advanced Illusion, Cone of Cold, Feeblemind, Telekinesis, Shadow Door
6th level: Eyebite, Dragon Scales
7th level: Shadow Walk

--

Mayfair Role-aids: Witches
Mayfair Role-aids: Witches

Class: Witch / Wizard
Tradition: Classical
Level: 15 / 1

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 13
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Petrify/Polymorph: 11
Breath Weapon: 13
Magic: 10

THAC0: 16

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe

Powers
Herbalism

Spells
1st level: Feather Fall, Identify, Read Magic, Sleep, Chill Touch, Protection from Evil, Color Spray
2nd level: Flaming Sphere, Locate Object, Forget, Ray of Enfeeblement, Strength
3rd level: Cure Light Wounds, Dispel Magic, Clairvoyance, Delude, Mystery Script
4th level: Call Lightning, Fear, Fire Shield, Magic Mirror, Wall of Fire
5th level: Feeblemind, Shadow Magic, Dream, FAlse Vision
6th level: Geas, Legend Lore, True Seeing
7th level: Shadow Walk

--

Mayfair Role-aids: Witches
The Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks

Class: Witch (Priest Sub-class)
Level: 15

Saving Throws (Base)
Paralyze/Poison/Death: 5
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Petrify/Polymorph: 8
Breath Weapon: 11
Magic: 10

THAC0: 12

Proficiencies: Ancient History, Astrology (2), Herbalism, Reading/Writing (4), Religion (2), Spellcraft (4), Animal Handling, Artistic.
Weapons: Dagger, Staff

Secondary Skill: Scribe

Powers
1st: Turn Undead
3rd level: Read/Detect Magic
6th level: Chill Touch
9th level: Candle Magic
12th level: Immune to Fear
15th level: Fascination
11th level: Brew Flying Ointment
13th level: Witch's Cure

Spells
1st level: Create Fire, Katarine's Dart, Witch Light, Dowse, Wall of Darkness, Painful Wounds
2nd level: Burning Wind, Acquire Witch's Familiar, Blackfire, Dance Trantra, Minor Hex, Pain Armor, Protection vs. Elementals
3rd level: Lesser Strengthing Rite, Beguile III, Astral Sense, Lethe, Witch Writing, Rite of Remote Seeing
4th level: Spirit Dagger, Cloak of Shifting Shadows, Broom, Cleanse, Card Reading, Grandmother's Shawl, Middle Banishing Rite
5th level: Rite of Magical Resistance, Starflare, Dolor, Bull of Heaven
6th level: Anchoring Rite, Greater Banishing Rite, Kiss of Life
7th level: Demon Trap

--

The biggest differences are in the powers and the spells. 

I kept her HP the same in all three cases to keep combat a fixed variable, the same with her weapons and non-weapon proficiencies. 

The Wizard's Handbook from TSR strikes a good balance of powers and spells. The Mayfair Role-aids Witches book has some great spells. Of course I am fond of my own Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks. Of course, after 25 years, there are things I would do differently now.

Playing All Three

Playing all three in a game was interesting but also a lot of fun. I'd generally alternate between them, choosing which one to use in combat beforehand so I could measure the utility of the spells. So when I say I have played her more than any other character, I really mean it. I kept her "real" sheets as notes in MS Word 2.0/95/97 to make easy changes to them as I played with my CNoW&W one as the "official" character sheet. 

This also gave me the idea that all her incarnations are aware of each other. It has nothing to do with any of the game mechanics I have written, but it is aa fun little role-playing exercise. 

In 1999, on October 31st, I was sitting in the hospital. My wife had just had our first baby, Liam, and I had my laptop. Just after midnight, I released my "The Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks" for free on the web. Larina was featured in that book as a 6-year-old who discovered she was a witch.

All the playtesting would then lead to my "The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games" released exactly 14 years later.  It would also lead to my 3rd Edition books on witches, but I'll talk about them next week.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Larina Nix for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Dragon #114 version)

 I meant to do this one earlier, but I got busy writing something else. Honestly, I am a little surprised I haven't done this before now.

Larina Dragon #114 homage Dragon #114 October 1986
"Larina" by Djinn and "Spirit of the Night" by David Martin

Larina Nix

I first rolled Larina up in July of 1986. At first, she was a "magic-user," and I would play her like a witch. She had a few adventures that year, but that was also when my then DM was heading out of town, and I was getting ready for my senior year at high school. 

Then Dragon Magazine #114 came out in October. 

I read it all over and wondered how I should convert her. The answer became obvious to me right away. She was a witch, only pretending to be a wizard so she could go to Glantri's School of Magic. I kept her magic-user levels and then went on to advance her as a Dragon #114 witch. In the game, I said she ran out of money to keep going, so instead, she got a job at the library in hopes of paying her tuition. 

I updated her sheet and declared her birthday was October 25, but she tells everyone it is October 31st.

As the game progressed, she became less the magical powerhouse I envisioned and became more the group's sage, occult expert, and polyglot. So when it came time to level her up, I took the spells that gave her more social and mental power/aspects. If the choice was to take a power/spell/magic item that gave a blasty power OR say, learn a new language, then I always took the language.  This was also the origin of the "From the Journals of Larina Nix." 

I kept playing her over the years. In college, I kept notes on her and how she played, including her witch spells and powers vs. her magic-user/wizard ones.  I combined these notes with notes I had started back in 1983 on a witch class, and eventually, they became my first Witch class. Since she was so focal in those experiments, I also re-did her as one of my new witches and featured her in a bit of fiction when she was six years old and discovering that she was a witch.

But in the meantime, here is Larina circa 1987-88.

Larina by Gabe Fua
Larina by Gabe Fua
Larina Nix
10th level witch / 1st level Magic-user (Dual classed)

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 18 
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18
Comeliness: 21

Hit Points:  
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
AC: 2 (Bracers of Protection AC 2)

Saving Throws (base)
Paralyze/Poison: 10
Petrify/Polymorph: 13
Rod, Staff, or Wand: 14
Breath Weapon: 16
Spells: 15

Languages: Common, Alignment, Drow, Undercommon, Elf, Infernal, Dragon

Powers
1st level: none
2nd level: none
3rd level: Brew poisons & narcotics
4th level: Brew truth drug
5th level: Brew love potion
6th level: Manufacture potions & scrolls
7th level: Candle magic
9th Level: Use all-magical items
10th Level: Aquire Familiar (cat, Cotton)

Spells 
First: (5+3+1) Charm Man I, Cure Wounds, Darkness, Give Wounds, Light, Magic Disk, Mending, Read Languages, Sleep (MU)
Second: (5+1) Bless, ESP, Identify, Locate Object, Seduction II, Speak with Animals
Third: (4+1) Calm, Clairvoyance, Lightning bolt, Phantasmal force, Remove Curse
Fourth: (3+1) Cure Serious Wounds, Infravision, Levitate, Shock
Fifth: (1) Oracle
HSO: (1) Prismatic Spray

Magic Items
Dagger +2, Staff of Enchantment, Broom of Flying, Crystal ball w/ ESP.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Review: Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus (1992)

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus (1992)
 This week is Gary Con, so I thought while I am celebrating 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons, I would also spend some time with Gary Gygax's other two games he made after leaving TSR, where he created D&D. This week, I am coving Dangerous Journeys: Mythus.

A bit of background for those not 100% up to speed. Back in 1985, D&D brought in a lot of money, but the publisher, TSR, was in debt of $1.5 million. These reasons have been explained better and in more detail elsewhere; suffice to say that by the time the dust settled (almost), Gary Gygax had been kicked out of the company (but not yet the industry) he helped create.  He spent some time doing some novels with his New Infinity Productions where he also published his near-universally reviled Cyborg Commando. No, I am not going to review that one. Plus I don't own it.

After a little time away he returned to RPGs in 1992 with his new game, "Dangerous Dimensions," or DD for short. Well, TSR was not going to have any of that and threatened to sue (in fairness, it is from a playbook that Gary helped write), and his new game became Dangerous Journeys, and Mythus became the fantasy setting. 

Dangerous Journeys would be his new core system with Mythus, the Fantasy RPG. There was a mention of the supernatural horror game Unhallowed, which would have been fun. Plus, I would have loved to have had a fantasy RPG and a supernatural horror RPG that used the same system. 

Eventually, more pressure from TSR would kill Dangerous Journey, leaving only Mythus produced.

But what is Dangerous Journeys, and what is its setting, Mythus?

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys (1992)

Gary Gygax with Dave Newton. 416 pages. Color covers. Black-and-white interior art. Some full-color art plates.
Published by Games Designer Workshop.

First some clarifications.

Dangerous Journeys is the system being used here. Mythus is the Fantasy RPG that uses the Dangerous Journeys system/rules.  Mythus is also divided into Mythus Prime, which is a basic game and Mythus Advanced, which is the advanced or full game. This book covers both the Mythus Prime and Mythus Advanced games.

This game was designed to address some of the perceived shortcomings of AD&D, though Gary could not come right out and say that. He had to be a bit oblique about it.  This book is huge and there is lot going on. 

Welcome to the Mythus Game

This introduction introduces us to the game and some RPG ideas like what an RPG is, what a Gamemaster is, and so on. None of which I think are needed here to be honest, its a bit much. But the meat is the Game Premise and, in some ways, the most interesting to me. Mythus takes place on Ærth, a world like our own but 1000 years in the past, so at the time of publication, 992 CE. Here, the myths of old are real, and we know about them because of Ærth's connection to Earth. So elves, dragons, and vampires are stories here, but there they were/are real. The trouble I am having with Ærth as presented is there is very little to differentiate it from our Earth save for window dressing. This is disappointing really since I feel there is something here if given the chance to grow a little. The maps and hints throughout the book are tantalizing but not enough.

Here we are also introduced to the next two books in the line "The Epic of Ærth" and "Mythus Magic." Of those two, I only have the Mythus Magic book. We are also introduced to the concept of the Basic and Advanced games. 

Your character in the game is a persona, or Heroic Persona, or HP. This game uses regular d6s and d10s for all the rolls. There are also d3 and d5 rolls here, but most will d%.

Dangerous Journey Mythus

Mythus Prime Rules

Note: There is also a "Basic Set" sold separately as "Mythus Prime" that is a 144-page book. It is essentially the same as this section, with some expansions. 

This is the "Basic" game designed to get people started in the Mythus game. It is like the Advanced Mythus game in many ways but obviously simpler. I am not going to delve too deep here. I have read it many times over the years and I like some of the ideas here. But I can talk about them when I cover the Advanced Rules. This does cover the next 45 pages or so. Reading the chapter Creating your Heroic Persona, though, is a good one since the Advanced Mythus points back to it for character creation. There is more in the advanced game.

HPs (remember, Heroic Personas) have three Traits: Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. It is not a bad division, really, Tri-Stat would later do it to much success. In this Basic section all the steps are outlined by an example. So choose SEC (Socio-Economic Class), Traits, Vocation (not a class...), choose K/S (Knowledge/Skills), and STEEP points (Study, Training, Education, Experience, Practice); get your finances and possessions., and round off your character.  Compared to the flipping through pages, one has to do with AD&D 1st ed. This is an improvement, but compared to other games from around 1992, like, say, Vampire the Masquerade, it already felt dated. Still better than World of Synnibar, released the year before.

All characters get three K/S for free, Perception (Mental), Perception (Physical), and Riding/Boating.

There is a chapter on rolling and success. I go into that in detail with the advanced game. The same is true of the chapter after the next on Combat.

The third chapter is on Heka, or the force of Magic in the Mythus world.  Now this was an interesting one to me. In the 90s I was dying for a new magic system. It is interesting but wildly crunchy. Heka is determined by your HP's magical K/S. Again, more on this in a bit. 

Improving Skills & Abilities is after Combat, and the rules here as simple enough. you spend APs (accomplishment points, our XP stand-in) to improve. This one also gets more complicated in the Advanced Game.

A Chapter on Playing your HP, moving to the Advanced Game and some Gamemaster advice.

I like the idea of a simpler game to introduce the more complicated one, but I can't help but feel that the real game, the one that would been more successful, isn't somewhere in between. I mean we all did the same with Basic and Advanced D&D.  Feels like the same mistakes are being made here for completely different reasons.

There is a brief adventure for the Basic game, High Time at the Winged Pig, at the end of this section. To be honest, it's not really all that interesting, especially given that this is the same guy who gave us B2 and the TGD series. I mean the HPs meet in a tavern. Fine for 1974-1977, but 1992? We deserve better than this really.

Advanced Mythus

Now 55 pages later, we are now in the Advanced Mythus game.

We are referred to the Basic Mythus game often, but the steps for character creation are pretty much the same.

1. Determine Socio-Economic Status. It may not be the best way to run a game since no one will go here first anyway. People choose a concept and/or a class first. This, though, does have effects on what your HP can and can't do. A table of the percent of the population of every SEC level is also presented. Not sure if it is here for illustrative purposes or if you are supposed to have your character population conform to it. I should point out though that frequency distribution for "rolled characters" will never match the SEC Populations table, no matter what you do. This is why I wonder why it is here.  A lot depends on your HPs SEC. If the acronyms get to be too much, remember this is a Gygax game, and there will be a lot more. Now personally, I am not a fan of so much to be dependent on my HPs SEC (damnit now I am doing it), I mean I have my Taxes for that. I want to make kick-ass characters. Honestly, I'll just choose my vocation and then find an SEC that fits it.

2. Generate numbers for Traits/Categories/Attributes. We have the same traits as before, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. These are divided into two categories each. Mnemonic/Reasoning (Mental), Muscular/Neural (Physical), Metaphysical/Psychic (Spiritual).  Each of these six has three Attribute scores: Capacity, Power, and Speed. So a total of 3+6+18=27 numbers to describe your character, I mean HP. That seems a bit excessive. Granted, we only need to roll up 18 of those (OR assign 6 in the point spread) and the others are derived. These scores range from 6 to 20, with 8-11 as the average. The maximum of any human attribute is 30 for physical (cap, pow, or spd) and 40 for mental or spiritual (cap, pow, or spd). There are two ways to get these numbers. The first is a point distribution method. You get a range of numbers to divide among the 6 categories the split them up for the cap, pow and spd scores and then add them up for Mental, Physical and Spiritual. The second is a 2d6+8 rolled for all 18. Again, examples are utilized here which helps. These numbers are used to determine "Critical Levels," "Effect Levels," "Wound Levels," and "Recovery Levels." They will also be used to determine an HP's Heka. 

3. Calculate STEEP for the HPs Knowledge/Skill areas. Players are encouraged to look over the vocations to see what areas they need to increase here. The same basic vocations are here, but a lot more are added. Now, vocations are not classes. Classes are picked in other games and then the skills are given. Here you start with the skills. While there are vocational packages that feel like classes, you could in theory ignore them and build a vocation of your own. There is an Appendix (E) here for that.  STEEP scores are 00 to 91+ with 00 as "no knowledge" and 91+ as Ultra-genius. There is a K/S of "Witchcræft," and it is sadly presented as nothing but pure evil. Even Demonology here is not so vilified.  Yes. I am taking this as a challenge.

Witchcræft

4. Choose the HPs K/S sub-areas. This goes along with the various vocations. In the advanced game, there are three additional automatic skills, Etiquette/Social Graces, Native Tongue, and Trade Phoenician, which is the "Common" of Ærth.

5. Determine Personal information. This can be random or chosen.

6. Calculate the HPs Resources.  This is random based on SEC. The unit of currency is the BUC or...Basic Unit of Currency. So 50' of rope costs 10 BUCs. I am not sure if this is clever or irritating. 

This all covers about 70 pages. I glossed over a lot of it. 

Core Game Systems

These are our core rules. Rolls are made with the K/S areas. The six difficulty levels all have a multiplier to the HPs STEEP. They are Easy (x3), Moderate (the default x2), Hard (x1 [one would think a x1 would be the better default]), Difficult (x0.5), Very Difficult (x0.25), and Extreme (x0.1).  So if I want to read a scroll and my K/S in Dweomercræft is a 20 then if this were an Easy Challenge, then my chance to succeed is 20 x 3 or 60%. Moderate is 40% (20x2); if it is Very Difficult, then 20x0.25 or 5%, and 2% for Extreme. While so, a lot of the math is front-loaded on figuring out those K/S scores. These are roll-under abilities (roll under or equal). So, rolling 96% or above can be considered an automatic or even a special failure. 

We get guidelines for combining efforts, for rolling a K/S vs another K/S and so on.

There is also something called a Joss Factor (JF) which work like luck or hero points. At least...I think they do. There is not much here about it at all. If there are rules about how to regain Joss (and WHY is it called that?? Oh, I found an "in game" reason that explains nothing.) I have not found them. 

Spending APs is also covered for Traits and K/S areas. For this, advanced K/S descriptions are given. 

Combat is largely an application of the appropriate K/S areas. Combat is done in units called Critical Turns (CTs) of about 3 seconds each. The initiative is a d10 roll.  Armor reduces damage so HPs can take a lot of damage.  Combat can target hit locations, given the names with damage multipliers of: Non-Vital (x1), Vital (x2), Super-Vital (x3), and Ultra-Vital (x4). This is to account for creatures that might have different sorts of vital parts. It feels weird, but given what this game was trying to do, I can see the utility here. 

There is an insanity and madness mechanic, but as I have said before, I am never very fond of these. 

Heka & Magic

Heka was the god of and the word for magic in ancient Egypt (or Ægypt in this book). Now I will freely admit, this is also one of my favorite sections. It is a wonderfully complicated system that would have made Isaac Bonewits proud. We get a few spells, but there are more in the Mythus Magic book (Thursday).

More on Personas

This covers anything that can change in an HP, like a change in SEC to becoming a vampire. This also covers some basic monsters.  There are some examples of NPCs, or er...NHP? Oh, actually, they are OPs, or "Other Personas."  The "monsters" are divided into three categories: Evil Personas (EPs), Monstrous Personages (MPGs), and Mundane Personas (MPs).  Other than being descriptive, there is no real difference between these that I can tell, save for name/label. Maybe if they had different point spreads.  There are also Friendly Personas (FP), which are what they sound like. 

Magickal Items

Pretty much what is says on the tin. There isn't a lot of stuff here.

Condemned as Galley Slaves

An adventure for new HPs. 

Appendices follow.

So. This game. 

Let's be honest. It is not good. It's actually kind of embarrassing how bad it is. Not to say there are not good things in it.

There are a lot of things I do like about it, though. I love the idea of Ærth, and Necropolis is still a fun adventure. The Mythus Magic was also a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to going over it again on Thursday. That said, I love some of the fluff here and there are things I could use, but it is a lot od shifting wheat from chaff here. 

Larina ferch Siân
Larina ferch Siân of Ærth

The over-heavy-handedness of the "Witchcræft is pure evilTM!" and the inclusion of "wicca" vis-à-vis through the Wisewoman/Wiseman vocation (or Mystic, the book is not very clear on this) is just too tantalizing to pass up, even if character creation in this system has been universally reviled.  I think I will try the character today and some spells on Thursday.

I did find some character sheets online, but I am going with the one in the back of the book.  I considered doing the point spread, but I opted to roll up a new character instead. The numbers I got were a bit higher, but not very different from the point spread or the sample character. It also works out since I wanted a character similar to her AD&D stats.  

I admit that rolling up the characteristics and getting my derived scores was much faster than I expected. But then I got to the K/S area, and things ground to a halt. It is not that it is hard, just tedious.

Note: For all the talk that this is a Class-less system, the Vocations are classes in all but name really. 

So, our basic K/S skills are figured out as follows:

  • Etiquette/Social Graces: SEC Level (6) x 5 = 30
  • Native Tongue (Welsh/Keltic): 30 (above) + MMCap (16) = 46*
  • Perception (Mental): 2d10 + MRCap (15) = 31**
  • Perception (Physical) 2d10 + PNCap (12) = 28
  • Trade Language: SEC (6) x 3 +MMCap (16) = 34
  • Riding: SEC (6) x 5 = 30

* In some places it says SEC x5 for language others SEC x3.
** The formulas are reversed for these in the book. 

Now, I have to pick my Vocational K/Ss. I picked Wisewoman for Larina since that fits well, but be sure I'll be bumping up her Witchcræft. Since this is a spiritual Vocation, I can choose which perception to use, so I chose Perception (Mental). I think I could figure out how to knock together a "White Witch" option per Appendix E, but instead, I am just going to tweak the Wisewoman a bit.

For this, I just shifted the same K/Ss around and kept the same number of STEEP points (248).

Crap. Forgot to adjust for age. Not going to do it. Say I rolled the appropriate number, and those above are the adjusted ones.

Attractiveness: Got a 16. Not bad. Should adjust for age or other factors I am sure, but not going too.

Joss: Rolled a 62, so 10 Joss factors. 

Not rolling for birth rank, despite some fun things for a 7th child of a 7th child. This character is way established in my mind as the 1st born daughter. 

She is from Cymru (Wales), and her birthplace was near Gŵry (Gower).

Quirks: A bit of roleplaying fun here. A lot like Qualities and Drawbacks in point-buy games. I'll choose two as long as they don't change any trait numbers (good or ill). I am not recalculating all of this. I'll take Psychic Awareness and Heka Channeler. For "Conter Quirks" I'll take Obsessive/Compulsive and Low Tolerance to Alcohol. 

Connections: She gets two of these, so I am giving her access to the local Druid Hierarchy and an Apothecary; both of these are due to her parents.  

Results below.

Larina ferch Siân of ÆrthLarina ferch Siân of Ærth

Larina ferch Siân of Ærth

Ok. That was fairly tedious, but in the end, I got a character that I think will be fun to use IF I ever play this game.  I'll figure out her Heka and do spells on Thursday.

I need a mental break now.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Daggerheart Open Playtest Beta: Intro and Character Creation

 The minds behind Critical Role have come up with their new Fantasy RPG and honestly, it has some things going for it.

Daggerheart Fantasy Role-Playing is now in Open Beta Playtesting and you can grab a copy for free from DriveThruRPG or their website

Galapa by Jessica Nguyen
Galapa, one of the new Ancestries. Art by Jessica Nguyen

I began reviewing it yesterday and quickly decided to take the plunge to print out the entire 375+ page playtest document so my kids and I can try it out.

You can see the DNA of many systems and games here, which they acknowledge.  I have not read a bunch, but there is a very interesting world here and one I think many will like to play in.

I know most of my readers are "old-school D&D" so I'll say this. If there is something about D&D 5 you dislike chances are good it is here and turned up to 11. 

That all being said there is a really interesting game here. 

That's a lot of pages. Daggerheart playtest

Will this game be a "D&D Killer?" too early to say. I mean we didn't see Pathfinder taking D&D's throne when 4e was out, but then it happened. And when was the last time an RPG Playtest made the pages of Business Insider the day of release?  Do not underestimate the fanship of Critical Role, who, in their nine years, has only seen their popularity rise. Sooner or later, Hasbro will do something boneheaded again, like the OGL or maybe even AI art, and people will look for more options. 

One thing is for certain, the crew at Critical Role will make the game look great to play. Cases in point, they have already produced some videos for it. 

I am watching the One Shot now, and the game looks fun. The feel is a solid fantasy RPG. Their enthusiasm is infectious. 

Character Creation

I have gone through character creation. It will be faster once I know the system better, but it is still very fast. There are a lot of options. LOTS. If you are the type that looks at D&D 5's choices of species and shakes your head then this will not be the game for you.

Daggerheart is a Class and Level based system, so that will be familiar to most; especially what I perceive as their main target, D&D 5e players. 

Classes and Heritages

So, there are nine classes, each with two sub-classes (Foundations) and 18 ancestries. Like I said, there are lots of choices. Watching the "How to Make a Character" video is helpful here, but I just dove right in. That's how we did in the 1980s! The video shows Travis Willingham of Critical Role rebuilding one of his Campaign 3 characters, Bertrand Bell, in this game.  I can relate. 

Each class has two "Domains" and these overlap. These help decide what sorts of powers, abilities, and spells they can take. For example "Arcana" is magic and is the Domain of Druids and Sorcerers. But Sorcerers are also "Midnight" which is sneaky, shadowy stuff and also a Domain of Rogues. 

You choose a Class, then a Foundation (which gives you benefits), then your first-level powers/abilities.

Choose your Heritage (Ancestry and Community) which gives you yet more powers/abilities. There are nine Communities. Think of these as being like your background. 

So where are we? We have 9 classes, 2 foundations, 18 ancestries, and 9 communities. So 2,916 combinations at level 1. 

There are Traits, which line up more or less with d20/D&D abilities. 

Damage Thresholds are bit like HP, with a tracker. Damage gets deadly really fast.  Oh and damage to you also damages your armor. 

A note about Death. This game has a great rule that I might steal for my home games. 

Death

I like the whole "Embrace Death and Go Out in a Blaze of Glory." You die and stay dead, but you do it with style. Oh, it also seems that coming back from the dead is rare and not at all easy. When a character does, they permanently lose one point of the Hope resource.  I have not talked about the Hope and Fear resources yet. But they are spent like Drama or Hero points depending on the situations. These use the oft-neglected d12.

You choose your abilities/powers/spells based on your Domains. The feel is similar to some of the choices for characters seen in D&D 4e.

There are Background questions. They are optional, but they are fun.

Experiences are fun. These are bits on your background that you can use a bonus to your Hope roll. These are figured out in Session 0 and work best if they complement (or aggravate!) the other characters.

Connections are similar. This has a solid Blue Rose feel to it. 

Character creation is fun and would work best during Session 0 with your group. 

Larina Nix in Daggerheart

Of course, I am going to try this with my Drosophila melanogaster of character creation experiments. There is no witch class here, so the first thing I need to do is figure out what her class is. 

While the playtest materials give me plenty to create a class (and the videos use them) there are other options. One is the Character builder at the Daggerheart Nexus at Demiplane.app. This is what I did for my witch Larina. 

Looking through my options here and with the playtest I am opting for Sorcerer over Wizard. Larina knows things, but they didn't all come from books (which she loves) plus I like the idea of the Midnight Domain for her, so she is a Sorcerer. For her Foundations (subclasses), I gave her Primal since her magic needs to feel a little old and a little wild. Her ancestry is human, and in this reality, she is Loreborn to tie into her connection to reading and books. 

Background I can skip over since this not with a group yet, but I do want to cover her Experiences here. For her +2 Experience I went with "I understand that! (Magical Scholar)" so she can spend a Hope die anytime something magical needs to be explained or figured out. For her +1 Experience, I went with "Wait, I need to read this (Seeker of Magical Secrets)" to cover that sometimes her curiosity overrules her common sense. So that +1 to her Hope die would be great in situations where she is trying to read a magical inscription on a tomb wall while avoiding getting hit by a mummy. 

For my Domain Cards (yes there are cards, but also slots on my sheet) I took one Arcana and one Midnight out of my choices of three each. I wanted to try a balance of the two. 

The effort was fast, really fast. And I am pleased with the results

Daggerheart Larina 1 of 3
Daggerheart Larina 2 of 3
Daggerheart Larina 3 of 3

Yeah, I am quite pleased with this character and character creation. But the proof is in the playing.

So now, after reading, making a character, watching some videos, and retweaking the character, I'll try my hand at making a character from the start again to see how long it takes. For this I will do my other active character Sinéad.  She is also a sorcerer, but I want to see how different two characters of the same class can be. Then I'll also try her as a multi-classed Bard.

Sinéad in Daggerheart

In D&D Sinéad is a half-elf Magic-user (Sorcerer)/Bard. Now her history is very, very much tied to the Forgotten Realms. So unlike Larina, her home is a very integral part of her. It will be interesting to see how that works in a game like Daggerheart.

Sinéad in Daggerheart

Ok, that took about 4 minutes. While I can get into the details, suffice it to say that this worked well for me and I was EASILY able to capture the concept here that this is character who can't control her magic and is working on figuring out how.  She isn't a bard yet. But that also fits in well with my starting concept of her.  For her item, Family Heirloom, I have it as her father's lute.

In Daggerheart, you can multi-class starting at the 5th level, so I am going to try that. When Multi-classing, you choose one of the two Domains of the second class. I rather like that. The Bard Domains are Grace and Codex. While Codex would be great for the added magic, concept-wise, Grace is a better fit.  She also chooses one of the Foundations (Subclasses). For Sinéad, I picked Troubador so she can get some game advantage from her lute.

Sinéad in DaggerheartSinéad in Daggerheart
Sinéad in Daggerheart
Sinéad in Daggerheart
Sinéad in Daggerheart

Level 0 to Level 5, plus making screenshots? 25 mins.  A PDF export would be nice here.

So, despite Larina and Sinéad both being Sorcerers in Daggerheart, they do look and feel different.

There is a lot to try out for this game and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Links

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Heather McHael for Wasted Lands

 Going to explore some more magic-inclined characters for a bit to see how they fare. Next is an interesting one, Heather McHael, a half-elf Ranger Bard. She was also the last AD&D 1st Edition character I made before the release of AD&D 2nd Edition. I wanted a bard character for a while but when I finally rolled up Heather, she had the stats needed to do it. 

I thought Heather would be something akin to an Irish girl living in Scotland. When I later redid her for Ghosts of Albion, I did precisely that. She was very religious (I was modeling her beliefs on Catholicism) so this would have made her a somewhat "alien" Catholic girl living in Presbyterian Scotland. In AD&D she was the youngest half-elf daughter to a human lord and elvish mother. The lord already had four human sons who were all older than she was. None were happy with their father's new wife.

Heather's Character Sheets

Personality-wise, I wanted to explore a character who was an alien in her own world and was searching for her "true people." Along the way, she joined up with some of my other characters at the time. I decided then that she and Larina were best friends despite (or really because of) their differences.

Interestingly enough, Heather was the cause of death of my first Larina. Heather had become a vampire (long story) and Larina attempted to save her. The only way do this though was for Larina to bind them both magically to the ground and wait for sunrise. This was during my D&D sabbatical between AD&D 2nd Ed and 3rd Ed and I was killing off old characters left and right. While Larina would later be reincarnated, I never got around to doing this for Heather. I tried her out in both 3e and 4e, but nothing I ever cared for. I gave her a run in Ghosts of Albion and rather liked that one. Let's see what Wasted Lands can do for me.

Heather is primarily a Ranger with some Bard levels to boot. Because this is an AD&D 1st Ed Bard she had some levels of thief as well. She dabbled in magic but still had a good amount. To that end the Sage is a good fit for her. I am going to just start with 4 levels of Sage, but in truth 8 or more might be better.

Heather McHael
Heather McHael

Class: Archer / Sage
Level: 9/4
Species: Half-elf
Alignment: Light 
Background: Barbarian

Abilities
Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 18 (+3) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 16 (+2) N
Wits: 15 (+1) 
Persona: 17 (+2) N

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 3
Vitality: 87
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+1
Melee Bonus: +4 (base), 
Ranged Bonus: +4 (base), +3
Saves: +7 to Agility Saves, +2 to Spells (Elf), +1 to Persona

Archer Abilities
Improved Defense, Master Archer, Ranged Combat, Supernatural Attack, Improved Range Damage, Eagle Eye, Incapictating Shot, Multi Attack x3, Careful Aim, Trick Shot

Elf Abilities
Night Shifted

Sage Abilities
Languages, Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Renegade skills at level 2

Sage Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Glamour
Second Level: Invisibility

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: ESP
2nd Level: 
3rd Level: 
4th Level: 
5th Level: 
6th Level:  
7th Level: 
8th Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Hunter

Gear
Longbow, shortsword, leather armor, 

Wasted Lands as AD&D 1st Ed

So. I like this version, the best one out of the 3e and 4e ones, to be sure. Maybe even more than her Ghosts of Albion version. Her magic ability is a lot less here. I could tweak the character, say, reduce Archer a bit and more Sage. In any case more Sage is good.  Especially if I think of Sage = Bard.

I thought about adding in some more magic using the Heroic Touchstones, but I wanted to go light on those this time.  I will say this: the customization options given to me by Wasted Lands and NIGHT SHIFT continue to impress me. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, January 1, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Larina Nix for Wasted Lands

 To start out my 2024 Character Creation Challenge with a character near and dear to me. So near and and dear that I have already stated her up for both the Wasted Lands and NIGHT SHIFT

Larina, Then and Now

The Witch from NIGHT SHIFT and the Sorceress from the Wasted Lands are very nearly the same class, so both work well here. They are also both designed with my witches in mind. So this class is by design perfect for her in a D&D like game.

Larina for Wasted Lands / NIGHT SHIFT

Larina Nix

Class: Witch (Sorceress - Persona Aspect)
Level: 16 
XP: 2,741,986
Species: Human
Alignment: Neutral-Light
Background: Sage

Abilities
Strength: 9 (+0) 
Agility: 11 (+0) 
Toughness: 12 (+1) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 7
Vitality: 33 (d4)
Degeneracy: 14
Corruption: 3

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +7/+5/+3
Melee Bonus: +3 (base)
Ranged Bonus: +3 (base)
Saves: +6 vs magical effect

Arcane Abilities
Arcana, Spellcasting (140% base + bonus)

Sage Abilities

Languages (17), Lore (37%), Mesmerize Others (20%), Suggestion, Renegade Skills, Spells, Read Languages

Renegade Skills

Hide in Shadows: 20%
Open Locks: 15%
Bypass Traps: 10%
Sleight of Hand: 20%

Spells
1st Level: Black Flames, Arcane Darts, Mystical Senses, Night Vision, Chill Ray, Read Languages (Sage)
2nd Level: Beguile Person, See Invisible, Locator Spell: Objects, Magic Lock, Levitate
3rd Level: Clairvoyance, Globe of Darkness, Concussive Blast, Dark Lightning
4th Level: All-seeing Invisible Eye, Befuddlement, Protection against the Deeper Dark, Hop and Skip
5th Level: Convert Stone to Mud, Passageway, Shadow Armor, Dominate Other
6th Level: Dispel Evil, Invisible Servant, Enchant Item
7th Level: Ball of Sunshine, Wave of Mutilation, Widdershins Dance
8th Level: Animosity/Affinity, Wail of the Banshee

Arcane Powers
Level 1: Telekinesis 
Level 4: Beguile 
Level 7: Empathy
Level 10: Precognition
Level 13: Psychic Power: ESP
Level 16: Shadow Walking

Divine Touchstones
Level 1: Sense Magic
Level 2: 
Level 3: Bonus to Spellcasting (+10%)
Level 4: 
Level 5: 
Level 6: Level 1 of Sage
Level 7: 
Level 8: 
Level 9: Spirit Guide (Nightbird) 
Level 10: 
Level 11: Glamour
Level 12: 
Level 13: Magical Recovery
Level 14: Level 2 of Sage
Level 15: 
Level 16: 2 Level Ones: Arcane Power: Astral Projection. Psychic Power: Bio-feedback

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Witchcraft, Occultism

Gear
Staff, dagger, ring of protection

Wasted Lands as D&D

I have used Larina in various forms of D&D, so using her in a Wasted Lands as a D&D game is largely a matter of role-playing options. The Night Shift version is closest to say, classic style D&D, and Wasted Lands adds a few more options, mostly due to the Divine Touchstones.  Those will be the key to all sorts of great customizations. 

She is an easy sell for me since by design she is a flexible character. The others will be my true tests.

You can get your copies of the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG.

Character Creation Challenge