Monday, June 17, 2019

Aquarian Dawn: Fey of a different yet familiar sort

Fey and fairies in myths and fantasy are generally loaded with symbolism, usually about nature, both in its majesty and in its danger. Older stories, in a world where nature was still a threat, tend to focus more on practical morals, whereas in modern fiction, fey tend to represent the majesty of nature and the struggles of nature as humanity takes its resources and destroys the environment. In Aquarian Dawn, I wanted the fey to still represent that "magicalness" of the world, but in this case, they're more so a representation of the "magicalness" of human ingenuity, creativity, math, and engineering. Especially in a world where humanity has seemingly "peaked", they carry forward humanity's legacy in the coming age. That is, of course, assuming a fatalistic end for humanity...

Fey is a broad term for a range of creatures in Aquarian Dawn. The setting is all about the fantastical High Age of humanity transitioning into the Age of the Aquarians, so in such a world, what does it mean to be fey?

Fey are present in Howlston, the setting for my current campaign.

There are several other "traditional" fantasy species in Aquarian Dawn that also have a bit of twist to them, such as elves and dwarves, and then there are of course the titular aquarians.

Fey are quasi-mortal. They are inherently magical beings, both physical and metaphysical. They are not magic in the sense of some quantifiable arcane energy, but in the sense of wonder and awe, and the implausible. Towards the end of the High Age, humanity lost most of its magic, hunted most of the magical beasts to extinction, tore down the majestic forests to build their roads, and forgot how to work their wonders, and so the fey did diminish for a time. However, with the expansion of the aquarians, they are beginning to thrive once more. 

But their manifestation is not quite like before. They're in a transitional phase. They resemble the fey of old still, for the most part, but their magic is not one of nature and the exploration of places, but increasingly of engineering, economics, and mathematics; of the nature and exploration of the mind and of systems. It is not quantitative magic per se, it is the magic that comes from the eureka, the je na sais quoi, that comes from understanding the application of math, or systems theory, or physics and chemistry, or mechanics.

Goblins

A general term for a set of fey, usually halfling-sized or at most human-sized (although some are significantly smaller or larger), such as the goat-faced puca, goat-legged satyr, pig-faced orcs, the fungal, mutagenic trolls, and many others. Most goblins are hedonistic, playful, pranksters. They are intelligent, with a natural affinity towards mechanics and engineering, but not especially creative. They are able to build mechanical things that should not be possible, and only work to the extent that one believes in them. For as amazing as their mechanical contraptions can be, most fall apart quickly under the ownership of mortals, who usually cannot maintain their faith in the mechanism, or who try and fail to reverse engineer it.


Hobbs 

Human-sized goblins (sometimes called hobgoblins), usually with gray, black, green, or yellow, leathery skin. It is said that they were created in heinous experiments by a Dark Lord of a prior age, descending from the orcs and some say even elves and humans. They are hierarchical, authoritarian, disciplined, and aggressive, generally considered both too orderly and too unsociable for human society. They are quick to fall under the sway of authoritarian rulers, sometimes even serving under human warlords, and it is believed that several kingdoms towards the end of the High Age relied primarily on hobb mercenaries for their armies. In the current era, not even the "empire" is powerful enough or cohesive enough to organize the hobbs, and so most wander the countryside as warlords and mercenaries, however hobbs living in fey or human society is not unheard of.


Leprechauns

Halfling-sized fey coming to prominence in the dawning age of the aquarians. Their skin shimmers opalescent like a rainbow. They grow thick beards of iridescent hard-light, of any or all colors of the rainbow. They have a deep understanding of business, finance, economics, and politics, as well as being crafty engineers. Unlike goblins, their creations seem to follow real scientific and mathematical principles, and they appear to have creative inspiration, albeit derived from something like an interdependent muse-like relationship with humans and other mortals. 

They also have the closest thing to traditional arcane magic from the High Age besides magically-inclined espers, although their magical aptitude is dependent on their wealth. Each leprechaun is tethered to a pocket dimension, contained within a pot, where they store their personal wealth. They can produce a rainbow from within themselves as a signal to the location of their pot. The pots are magical and cannot easily be destroyed, but if their pot is stolen, they are at the mercy of the thief.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Neural Network Fantasy Creatures

I know I'm hardly the first person to do this, but anyway now there's another one out there! I wrote a neural network using Max Woolf's textgenrnn, which trains on a corpus of fantasy creatures from the pathfinder d20 SRD, and generates new fantasy creature names. I'm still playing around with the parameters (and you can as well!), but I'm reasonably happy with the current output. Below are 500 fantasy creature names generated from the model! These were trained with 200 epochs, but the default for the model is 100. You may notice some repeats, or some direct reproductions from the dataset, again the model could use some tweaking, but there are definitely some gems in here.

Also, the database from PFSRD was updated only up to february 2014, so if anyone knows of a more complete database for pathfinder, or for bestiaries from other fantasy games, I would like to add those to my dataset so please let me know!


Here's a mech dragon because why not :)

EDIT: u/LupNi on reddit gave a nice little writeup demonstrating how one could put these creatures to good use:

Adventurers! You must venture forth and slay the Very old quued beetle flob in the mountains before it's too late! But beware, the beast's influence has attracted swarms of Young adult creep mumbles and Bloib gargoygeres. You will need help in your journey. Fortunately, the old wizard has built an entire army of Adult golems. Let's... not talk about why they're called Adult golems. The old wizard gets lonely.

Old green dragon
Sealer
Migricine
Parga
Banner
Octoc
Shakoif
Great swarm
Aspi
Very old dragon
Death' azecad
Grayter swarm
Adult golem
Bores
Tendam
Very old quued beetle flob
Addus
Deep hunter elementalche dragon
Ancush
Ingy elemental
Adult shackling bourd
Young roncer popita
Giant positive energy elementaugher beetle
Cilatr swarm
Shira wolk of torm green dragon
Fire worman
Giant lightning sea snakker
Giant black dragon
Spath
Sangus mast
Greater elemental
Hawler
Taspling oaze
Part
Warer
Ancient squais wyrm black mast
Margita
Ghowlew
Young creep mantom
Giant elemental
Cran at
Marrasu
Giant blood manged emetat
Irclew
Shadow hunder
Mahure
Batste dragon
Theller devil
Large negative sephall elemental
Ice swarm
Timmon cuat
Stoimotan
Juvenile colota
Polsae
Mammoth
Kort
Dragon
Lilgungus
Shadow wolf
Alding marma
Lerger golem
Elder swarm
Warer
Shagari
Cise gray dragon
Vercap
Greater elemental
Shind brass dragon
Giant sea serpent
Acorpiker
Oct
Slaug
Keranggaller
Sark
Deliolequ
Thing winp
Cerstom
Mythic elemental
Adult red dragon
Nechwang bronze
Clood ooze
Very old creeper
Torvering blue dragon
Stole
Elcer
Giant mud elemental
Young elemental
Ock dragon
Thring crab, spider
Aldino
Urder
Adult sea sea serpling golem
Banthy
Stopositive spider whetle
Draconadaemon
Dire gylulus
Giant swarm
Kales
Tirder serpent
Juvine
Tant spider
Mythic mernon
Souandasu
Lesser dragon
Storm dragon
Raven spike red dragon
Deve
Juvenile copcangient
Giant bladodaemon
Seaher giant sea scorpion solak
Frork
Huge steerapeir
Trona
Shadow worm
Tightning elemental
Margu
Clockwork spawnes
Conar dragon
Death shask
Young olb dragon
Blood urch
Fire gargoyle
Frost dragon
Greater swarm
Mythic watergaanter barra
Ord
Giant amble
Very ooze
Lythic crab
Flases
Korps
Star crobon
Sea serpent
Adult golem
Undead
Greater horring
Raval
Phasous
Shipper dragon
Giant wight swarm
Shadown
Oross swarm
Great cyyppolid
Wilvone okas
Oll green dragon
Borelach dragon
Elder night
Giant ant sea serphe troll
Captintanf
Crimm
Hellow bese
Hengea
Greinger swarm
Marlor
Kunl
Silvere
Fire golem
Slarle
Carly blue dragon
The swarm
Thite swarm
Darcershaen
Sea sea swarm
Old blue light
Dreg warr
Lurar
Mond dant
Hangorm
Adult bragmy elemental
Adult golem
Manire elemental
Ancient molouc banromon
Large leegar
Vog
Belaem stor
Lerantud
Cave minotair elemental
Albing dragon
Adult green giant scabo
Rava
Medium spawner
Fudan
Devil
Phalider
Karabar ooze
Cuvemilictecitin
Jinx
Monstral dragon
Charing cattan
Young vyry brask dragon
Skig
Spider
Danwialterphinx
Small obri
Ancient hond
Juvenile sea serpel dragon
Henss
Wyrklider
Cloddeman
Wyrmligan
Dire stomairth noma
Young copper
Shadow wraitan beedle
Moner
Demon
Large leeph
Carniae quasi
Fasma
Medium oaze
Lick dragon
Barch
Kalto sard
Frost dragon
Stone budder arzosid bear
Small obazor dragon
Natiuer armon
Hunger crow
Blood mud elemental
Mah-thal
Parrack
Ircrant witchar
Conne golem
Zombar stor
Imprey
Slamprall
Lehantom armosiyn warpectre pat
Small spider
Stone skakaim
Dermagher giant oms
Witcer
Dowing
Giant swarm
Adult white swarm
Theling of titan
Small giant
Bog stuned
Mongosaurus
Nightning energy elemental
Young adult creep mumble
Greater elemental
Great wyrm bones
Chire lizard
Adult devil
Janing elemental
Ligir
Stakon
Flest dragon
Funguspider
Chore
Larre drake
Monset
Young bris
Ancient brass dragon
Shikon
Spider
Phrelisl
Juyn arch
Ligit cuser
Train ooze
Rablis
Strightning elemental
Clockwork span
Kerbank
Medium babe troll
Abers
Carele
Spinten spider
Cave moont
Nerra
Giant crawler
Dire elemental
Mythic fring bronz
Pherchon
Devil
Idule
Tixe
Stral candalion
Fere
Greater borg
Ancient bone of spider
Nald
Kalester
Adult white whate thollo
Pleel golem
Shaghael
Huge gray dragon
Wareripore gravity elemental
Wargoyle riget culas
Ancient soldier
Istardaanterdiend sea
The yra worm
Clobeatt
Beland
Elder ant swarm
Elder rora
Giant flen
Borest dragon
Juvenile elemental
Giant viper
Iran pudding
Hell magmit
Mamic cand
Thrram
Wyrmling righting seat wyrm black dragon
Hagant
Fanthon
Warewon
Ancient swarm
Urdralk
Sheant
Lorge
Ancient centto dragon
Chang
Huge dragon
Thengiter crowle dog
Adult stor
Hatut swarm
Deagh
Torting devil
Thone
Timming of spider
Phoran
Undead swarm
Kille drakei
Lergite
Ware
Than
Cathic faaceleswork dragon
Wyrmling hound gray dragon
Mythic hunter earth devil
Shard
Valpaen
Giant sea serpent
Manur
Formilacras
Witer
Lesser walr aroch swarm
Bater corbian quasi
Anose swarm
Shark
Kalus
fagwh
Creveer
Large gravity elemental
Carpiang monterl
Halk elemental
Greated frog
Old bree elemental
fire hag
Mosse
Young black dragon
Juvenile of therium
Shackain
Telran
Raval
Loran
Piter
Ooze
Small condation
Warer dragon
Phoar
Boue ountju skell
Graven spawn skoleftite dragon
Certous
Bagrind
Young olbera
Young brine old dragon
Young skur
Bernon
Cama demon
Large wasp
Adum
Shadow rone golem
Brass dragon
Trebinterous giant spider
Farphet spider
Aphierfal-nakd
Funche
Chole
Blood dragon
Adult whis
Eddler
Giant flecher
Craych dragon
Hanuner
Barponati
Young hart devil
Thetil
Huge mastrakk snake
Marden head skole
River dragon
Rake
Pant
Urder ight
Small obsidian
Nightning crow
Mythic miphie
Carsian dragon
Domonstronge
Plast man
Formion
Archer
Young dunger beetle
Young greater swarm
Verblosk
Giant pend
Phoric faling elemental
Funid
Giant sea dragon
Night
Reddemla
Great horsinkin cist
Trigan
Garda
Dracodaemon
Min sea sea treantl
Corre
Navous
Mardian dragon
Mythic fia
Winsllaus sea wasp
Train arch
Witch
Leant
Gray devil
Foras devil
Sea servadle dragon
Deant
Bone of scel gaant adult blie
Old grim
Phawl
Trenzioner
Giant creater slarge meer
Fire spider
Giant marma
Clockwork spirian
Medium bangover
Hell black dragon
Dark stee
Haven lat
Ravone golem
Juvenile lign dragon
Juvantling
Spice elemental
Jolin
Borble swarm
Nenision cyplotz carosh dragon
Clockwork dragon
Plastoden
Raven hostidar
Giant sea serpent
Ancient beetle
Adult suln
Medium mastiggai
Great dragon ooze
Charan
Grey snille stag beetle
Hanged gasp
Night
Manid
Kerm
Bloib gargoygeres
Staggath
Very of snake
Planter
Luster
Clow white dragon
Morkernite
Ice golem
Spire
Plicer bebal
Seaner
Nigat
Hound swarm
Giant bones
Giant rotan
Shadow white
Satal sea serpent
Tir gurcubius dag
Marto dragon
Cargoyle guard
Skential scair
Ancel pravant
Bleater borg of sky swarm
Spind anter linnorium
Very ypin
Omated erem
Dark dragon
Pathan
Scorbsning earth gylasin queentie
Devourforne devil
Giant crow
Monstoak
Chore coly ctil
Night
Borbery
Livith man
Magmot
Worm oca

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Coffee for Mandy

For reasons that may or may not have to do with things you might find on the internet right now, I would like to throw some attention to this ko-fi page for Mandy Morbid. Buy her a coffee!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BONUS: Mutants Metamorphica

EDIT 6/11/19: I've been going through and changing a bunch of my labels to coincide with my OSR blog roll search engine, but for some reason this one got re-posted which is weird. This is a really old post 0.o. I must have accidentally changed something in the title which caused it to repost? Ah, well anyway this is a decent list!

This table was inspired by the Metamorphica Revised, an awesome book with a 1d1000 table of mutations! I like to personalize my mutants, so here what I did was randomly select three mutations, and create a mutant from those three. Technically this is not anything you couldn't do yourself if you owned the book, but I tried to think about interesting ways to combine the mutations such that my mutants are more than the sum of their parts, and hopefully you'll get a kick out of them.

This is in no way meant to undercut the book, but to show what an awesome and powerful tool it is. In fact, if at least 20 people say they were encouraged to buy the book from this post, I'll make 20 more! Admittedly, I may just end up doing it anyway eventually, since it's a lot of fun!

The book has detailed descriptions of each mutation and subsets them by categories, but I chose to just pick at random from the full 1d1000 table, and to draw my own interpretations of their meanings. Likewise, in certain cases I bend, extend, or add to the interpretation of the mutations, for the sake of cohesion or because it struck my fancy. This exercise wasn't about "staying within the lines", but about using the metamorphica as a kickstarter for my own imagination. I try to be vague about any non-pertinent details so that it can be used flexibly. Many of these entities could be interpreted as one-of-a-kind fantastical beings, or as a template for an entire tribe or species. Many could vary in intelligence from bestial to god-like, or vary in shape from inexplicable to bestial to humanoid.

I also think this could be a good reference for the kinds of mutants one might encounter in Phantasmos, as mutants are the most populous "species" in the setting.



MutationsNumbers (d1000)Description
Material transparency; Increased Empathy; Decreased Empathy 869, 553, 516Transparent, bioluminescent skin with two polarities, red and blue. In blue-state, is loving and empathetic. In red-state, is aggressive and selfish.
Physical Coward; Large Ears; Internal Portal472, 83, 851Has elephantine ears, from which it can withdraw or deposit objects from a pocket-dimension. It can "hear" the muscle contractions of approaching lifeforms, which evokes a reflexive flight response.
Sexually Attractive; Aura of Disgust; Tusks136, 724, 183A succubus/incubus-like, tusked being. It is both alluring and revolting, which may manifest in its physical appearance or in a more subtle, existential manner. Maybe you're into it, and that's ok...
Demonic Phenomena; Control Clocks; Aura of Disgust778, 752, 724Reflects the time of death of any who observe it (and in some cases, can change it). Rather than inducing fear, most individuals instinctively externalize their feelings into hate and disgust towards the being.
Largesse; Drone Producer; Roots and Vines449, 425, 344A large, tree-like being. Produces animate fruit of various shapes, sizes, and properties, which do its bidding.
Precognition; Suckers; Decreased Awareness664, 374, 513An octopoid being with no sensory organs, except for the psychedelic swirls on its suckers which can sense the future through a complex space-frequency transform and predictive modeling.
Extra Fingers/Toes; Linguistic Mimic; Tail45, 567, 169A bird-like being with a long tail, at the end of which is a mouth surrounded by fingers. Manipulation of the mouth and fingers allows for perfect linguistic mimicry.
Editorial Evaluation; Re-Arranged Face; Toxin Resistance534, 126, 384Its face re-arranges to either literally or abstractly reflect whoever it is facing, allowing it to think as they do (more so sympathy than empathy per se). Any toxins, physical or metaphysical, can be spit out of its re-arranging face.
Wings; Microscopic Vision; No Pain Receptors199, 304, 308Wing-like appendages over its eyes sheer trace quantities of atoms in the environment into sub-atomic particles which it can "see" by touch. This would be a painful process, if it could feel pain...
Attention Deficit Disorder; Tumours; Light Generation505, 182, 296Covered in light-generating nuclear fusion tumors. It is bursting with so much energy that it struggles to focus on any one task (technically ADHD but still).
Fortune Teller; Long Legs; Math Brain819, 92, 569Its brain is actually a hyperplane which can do statistical prediction or multi-dimensional scaling of reality. In order to gather as much data from its environment as possible, it stands on tall legs to survey a wider area.
Diffused Organs; Energy Blast; X-Ray Vision35, 797, 998A large but biologically simple eukaryote. Most of its biological systems are generalized, redundant, or replaceable. Has fine-grain control of x-ray radiation which it can use both for visualization and energy projection.
Superhuman Strength; Romantic Rapport; Sense Interference948, 583, 585Has the proportional strengh of a spider, a precognitive sense towards danger, and is surprisingly charming- in a dorky way.
Force Field; Hallucinatory Possessions; Telescopic Vision817, 825, 376Primarily exists on a hyperplane. By pulling at the vertices of lower dimensions, can manipulate space like a force field, or project higher-dimensional objects into lower-dimensional space. Is able to observe at high-fidelity anything in lower-dimensional space within its range of vision.
Powerful Jaws; Tremor Sense; Create Darkness327, 386, 767Has a large jaw which utilizes compound mechanics across multiple gears, giving it dynamic range. Can produce vibrations in its jaw which ping the ground like echolocation to sense tremors. Can produce vibrations at the speed of light, in opposite phase of light, creating darkness.
Painkiller; Aura Reading; Parasite Infestation891, 605, 313Covered and filled with gross, worm-like extra-dimensional parasites which sense and feed off the magical or metaphysical auras of those around them, including the host. This allows them to absorb physical and emotional pain. If not for how quickly they run through their host, they'd actually be more of a symbiote.
Addicted; Slow Healer; Enhanced Senses401, 358, 541Body produces soma, a hyper-addictive drug which induces synesthesia and hallucinations which enhance the senses (and provide plenty of new ones). The being is unfortunately addicted to its own bodily excretions, to the point that much of its energy is focused on the production of soma, at the expense of physical repair.
Weather Sense; Short Legs; Anthopomorphic Animal600, 137, 9An anthropomorphic groundhog, close to the ground, with a hyper-acute sense of environmental phenomena.
Increased Physical Strength; Fortune Teller; Loose Skin285, 819, 96A large, strong being with loose skin (its foldy flaps). By pinching and pulling on the foldy flaps, reading them like palmreading or phrenology, can draw inferences not just about its own fortune, but of others touching the foldy flaps.
Superhuman Speed; Herbivore; Earthquake Prediction947, 439, 533A plant-strangling, vine or weed-like creature, burrowed deep in the ground. Unlike most plants, it is not only highly animate, but in fact faster than most animals- faster than their perception, even. Being so deep in the ground, it's developed a knack for sensing earthquakes.

Monday, June 10, 2019

OSR Blog Roll Search Engine!

Have you ever tried to find some specific article, but couldn't remember when it was written, or what it was called, or which blog you found it on? Isn't it maddening!? If this has happened to you, hopefully this new search engine will solve your problems!

To the best of my knowledge this does not already exist, but I apologize if somebody has already done this.

I've added a search engine to the footer of my blog which should include all blogs from the OSR blog roll as of 6/10/19.

You have to go to the main page of the blog, not just this article specifically, in order to access it.

I have not done a whole lot of testing on it, so if you think it's broken or missing something please let me know!

TNT Character Type: Mystic

Tunnels & Trolls (TNT) is a really simple game that I like quite a bit. I don't want to over complicate the game because it doesn't need it, but I do think it lends itself well to little OSR-like hacks. For instance, I'm working on rules for massive combat called the Mechs & Monstrosities Hack.

The warrior / rogue / wizard types in TNT are already pretty all-inclusive, but I thought I'd try my hand at designing an additional character type that fills a unique role or has a unique feel. I don't think it's adding anything that couldn't technically already be done in TNT, but hopefully it's interesting enough that people want to try it out anyway.

As with most of my stuff, due to lack of opportunity, this has not been playtested and will likely need playtesting, but hopefully it's a decent framework for what might be a functional character type.

This type fills roughly three roles:

  • It's a mixed magic / fighting class. It's very different from the rogue, but like the rogue, can be a multi-purpose character.

  • It's meant to fill the monk / psionic character archetype. That's mostly just fluff, and honestly any of the TNT types could be made to fit that archetype, but this models it a little bit more specifically.

  • Inadvertently it's become a charisma / face class. While not typically associated with the monk / psionic archetype, it just kind of made sense with how I built the type, and I think charisma really needs a boost in TNT. For every other class, charisma is the only attribute that doesn't contribute anything besides SR; it doesn't add HP or MP like CON or WIZ, nor combat adds, nor spellcasting. So this hopefully gives charisma a boost!


Mystics

Not all magic is drawn from the metaphysics of reality, or the divine. Some magic is drawn from the self, from those with presence, with an indomitable force of will. Those with the training and discipline, who hone their bodies and minds, transform themselves into something exceptional: the mystic.

Some mystics are extravagant; they wear exotic outfits and carry talismans. They often preach the divine or the occult, whether they believe this is the source of their power or not, and draw the attention of others like moths to flames. When they walk into a room, heads turn. Their very presence demands recognition. Rich or poor, native or foreign, they have an essence, a charisma, that transcends socio-cultural barriers. Their bodies may be unassuming in appearance, but they can channel their mental energies into potent psionic force. 

Other mystics choose a more austere, ascetic life. They revel in manual labor, channeling their disciplined minds to strengthen their bodies. They are wise-men; they do not demand attention when they enter the room, but when they speak, others listen. They are more so warrior monks than mesmerists or occultists, but their power essentially draws from the same place, from existential and epistemological analysis. Their orders may acknowledge the spiritual, metaphysical, or divine, but they are more concerned with ordinary affairs, or philosophies relating to individuals. Some believe that their powers come from an arcane or divine source, but to these mystics, there is no meaningful distinction between the self and these outside forces.

Mystic Stats

  • Can fight unarmed or with mystic focus weapons with (1d6 * STR Multiplier) + 1d6 + combat adds
    • For human characters, this would mean 2d6 + combat adds
    • This is the same as the Martial Arts rules in TNT Deluxe but with an additional 1d6
  • Can spend 1 WIZ to add +1d6 combat dice when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons, up to mystic level times per combat round
  • Can channel psionic energy / ki through hand motions or mystic focus weapon for a 2d6 + combat adds ranged attack
    • Cannot spend WIZ to add additional combat dice
  • Use mental stats for combat adds when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons (IQ, WIZ, CHA, LK)
  • Can spend 1 WIZ on a SR to change a physical stat roll to mental stat roll: Str -> IQ, Con -> Wiz, Spd -> Cha
  • Body and Mind are one: CON and WIZ are interchangeable for taking damage and casting mystic spells.
  • Gain one mystic spell per level of mystic level or lower, in addition to being able to learn new spells in other ways (same as wizard and rogue)
  • When using regular weapons, the mystic's psionic energy causes wear and tear to the weapon. Roll SR LK for wear and tear, on fail, the weapon deals -1d6 dice, and the next SR increases by 1 level.


Mystic Spell List


Note that this spell list was partially inspired by the psion GLOG class by Angus Warman of the Meandering Banter blog.
You can potentially include some wizard spells as well, although I do think mystics should have a more limited spell list than wizards. The spells should be evocative of wuxia, or something generally psychic / psionic.

Level 1

Third Eye
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 30 minutes
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or -1 to SR level

Restrict one sense to enhance another, providing +3 on SR rolls related to that sense.

Iron Fist
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 1 combat turn
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: x2 Duration

Forearms and fists are covered in a metallic psionic coating, providing +3 armor for one turn when making an unarmed attack or attack with a mystic focus weapon (attack and armor on same turn as casting). Damage dice count as magical for any effect purposes. Armor bonus does not stack if wearing sleeved armor, gloves or gauntlets, or carrying a shield. 

Hovering Water Lily
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 1 combat turn
Range to Cast: Touch
Range of Effect: 5'
Power up per level: Duration x2, or Range to Cast x2 (i.e. 5', 10', etc.), Range of Effect x2, or increase to size or weight of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.), or walk on walls.

Small, lightweight objects can be made to hover around the mystic or psionically tossed (possibly as improvisational weapon attacks). 

Whole Cloth
Cost: 4 WIZ
Duration: 10 minutes
Range to Cast: 5'
Range of Effect: Relative visual range
Power up per level: Duration x2, or increase size of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.), or Range to Cast x2, or add additional sensory effect (i.e. sound, smell, etc.), or capable of independent motion

Creates a small illusory object. If a target is suspicious (e.g. the illusion is implausible), roll a charisma SR to maintain the illusion. If the illusion is attacked, it immediately breaks. If the illusion is given a tactile sensory effect and used as an attack, it does not deal damage or provide combat dice, although on a successful charisma SR, the defender perceives 2d6 illusory damage, which is recovered as soon as the illusion is broken.

Level 2

There is No Spoon
Cost: 3 WIZ
Duration: N/A
Range to Cast: 5'
Range of Effect: 5'
Power up per level: Increase size of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.)

Through focus, the mystic can warp or break any small non-living, non-magical object (such as a spoon). If the object is being held or worn, such as a weapon, armor, or trinket, the target rolls for wear and tear, otherwise automatic.

Crouching Tiger
Cost: 4 WIZ
Duration: Passive for 10 minutes; 1 combat turn once activated
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or number of defensive uses x2

Speed or charisma SR for a stealth attack against an enemy that does not see you. Roll combat dice for an opposed combat roll, and double the results if the SR was successful (otherwise regular damage). If the SR was successful but the opposed combat roll failed, take no damage. Can also be used to defend against stealth attacks for passive duration one time.

Level 3

Diamond Mind
Cost: 10 WIZ
Duration: 10 minutes
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or Range of Effect x2 (i.e. 5', 10', etc.) to encompass allies

Mystics have immense willpower and even the ability to psionically impose their will on reality. They are immune to telepathy and can even fake their thoughts to a telepath (Charisma SR roll), and are protected by a shimmering aura that provides +3 armor against any kind of elemental attack and immunity to environmental factors.

ESP
As wizard spell, but level 3, cost 10 WIZ, charisma SR roll to succeed.

Discussion


Here are some design notes / concerns:

  • Whereas the rogue is more like a true generalist, the mystic uses both magic and physical combat but in a more narrow way

  • Giving mystics mental stat adds for combat and the ability to substitute mental stats for physical stats on SRs at a low cost reflects the "mind over matter" nature of monks, and can be flavored flexibly. It could be that they are shrimpy noodles whose "physical" abilities are entirely psionic, or they could be a shredded washboard whose physical strength comes from their indomitable will.

  • Mystics have a more limited spell list than wizards (part of that is me being lazy, but even if I added more spells I want it to be limited), and are focused around wuxia and psionic-like abilities.

  • Not unlike D&D, at low levels they're generally going to be weaker, because if they want to use mental adds then they have to fight unarmed or with a monk focus weapon which only deals 2d6, or maximum 3d6 if they pay 1 WIZ. This is hopefully offset by the fact that they can pretty much ignore physical stats, so they should have high combat adds and the ability to grow in both "physical" and magical ability more quickly than a rogue, who would have to spread their stats. As they level and can add more combat dice to their unarmed / mystic focus weapon attacks, they become more comparable to a warrior, but at the cost of WIZ.
  • I'm still worried that this type is either woefully underpowered or woefully overpowered, it really needs to be playtested!

Friday, June 7, 2019

High Level Games: 4 Reasons Why Your Game And Mine Are Less Different Than You Think



I wrote another HLG article! In line why my recent interest in SWORDDREAM (check out the subreddit!), this article is about defying our preconceived notions of what differentiates different kinds of games, and to what extent it's authorial intent, culture, dice probabilities, etc., and also how to go about leveraging that knowledge. Even if you disagree with the particulars, the point of this article is more about just encouraging people to think about their games more critically, or at least differently.