Monday, April 10, 2017

Fisher River Scouts


Prime Requisite: Dexterity
Requirements: None
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 11

The fisher River Scout is an explorer, hunter and guard of the waterways around the Holt or Raft. Human rulers often hire them, when available, to provide warning of trouble approaching in the water or to bypass enemy land defenses and gather information.

River Scouts are trained combatants, although they strongly prefer to avoid being noticed. At first level they hit an unarmored foe (AC0) with an Attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws as Thieves, by two points every four levels of experience. Because of their concentration on moving in the water, River Scouts have a narrow selection of weapons and armor. They may wear no armor heavier than leather and may only use weapons from the sword/dagger and bola/darts/nets/slings/sap/staff lists. River Scouts may fight with two weapons, but may not use two handed weapons or shields. River Scouts get no damage bonus and may cleave once per two levels. River scouts have the Blade-Dancing power. The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2,

A river scout has many stealthy abilities enabling them to avoid detection and gather information. At first level they have the thief abilities of Climb Walls, Find Trap and Move Silently. At second level they add the ability to Remove Traps, at fourth level they can Backstab and at ninth level they add the bard ability to Read Languages.

Additionally, they have the following custom powers available at first level: Difficult to Spot ( The character has the ability to seemingly disappear into woods and underbrush with a proficiency throw of 3+ on 1d20. In dungeons, if the character is motionless and quiet in cover, he can escape detection with a proficiency throw of 14+ on 1d20.) and Tracking. The character can follow tracks with a proficiency throw of 11+. At fifth level they gain the power of Savage Resilience. When the character is required to consult the Mortal Wounds table, the player may roll twice and choose the preferred result to apply. The character also subtracts his class level from the number of days of bed rest required to recover. They have a Swim speed of 90' and the following abilities as Fishers: Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 1d10 rounds. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 1d4 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 15' in the water or 5' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 90' and can hold it's breath for 30 rounds (5 minutes). at ninth level when they establish a stronghold they gain Animal Friendship. Whenever the character builds a Raft, all ordinary animals within 5 miles of the stronghold become kind and helpful.

Upon attaining 9th Level (River Warden) the River Scout may establish a Raft or village of Fishers. Rafts follow the same rules for population growth as do Elven fastnesses.


River Scout Attack and Saving Throws
Level
Petrif & Paralysis
Poison & Death
Blast & Breath
Staffs & Wands
Spells
Atk Throw
1-2
13+
13+
16+
14+
15+
10+
3-4
12+
12+
15+
13+
14+
9+
5-6
11+
11+
14+
12+
13+
8+
7-8
10+
10+
13+
11+
12+
7+
9-10
9+
9+
12+
10+
11+
6+
11
8+
8+
11+
9+
10+
5+


River Scout Level Progression
Experience
Title
Level
Hit Dice
Backstab
0
River Scout
1
1d6
-
1,175
Water Rider
2
2d6
-
3,550
Swimmer
3
3d6
-
7,100
River Explorer
4
4d6
x2
14,200
River Guide
5
5d6
x2
28,400
River Tracker
6
6d6
x2
56,800
River Pathfinder
7
7d6
x2
113,500
River Ranger
8
8d6
x3
227,000
River Warden
9
9d6
x3
377,000
River Warden, 10th level
10
9d6+2*
x3
527,000
River Warden, 11th level
11
9d6+4*
x3
    * Hit point modifiers to Constitution are ignored
River Scout Skills
Level
Climb Walls
Find Traps
Move Silently
Remove Traps
1
6+
18+
17+
-
2
5+
17+
16+
18+
3
5+
16+
15+
17+
4
4+
15+
14+
16+
5
4+
14+
13+
15+
6
4+
13+
12+
14+
7
3+
11+
10+
13+
8
3+
9+
8+
11+
9
3+
7+
6+
9+
10
3+
5+
4+
7+
11
2+
3+
2+
5+


River Scout Proficiency List: Acrobatics, Alertness, Ambushing, Beast Friendship,Cat Burglary, Climbing, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, knock down), Eavesdropping, Endurance, Fighting Style, Land Surveying, Lip Reading, Mapping, Mimicry, Naturalism, Navigation, Passing Without Trace, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Seafaring, Skirmishing, Skulking, Sniping, Survival, Swashbuckling, Trap Finding, Trapping, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus

River Scout Proficiencies Gained per Level
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
C+G
-
-
C
G
-
-
C
G
-
-


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Requiem for a Grognard

We buried Cucch one month ago today.  My sons carried one side of the casket and I gave the eulogy.

Mike Cuccherialla



Sue, I am humbled and grateful that you asked me to speak today, for although it might have surprised my mother to hear it, Mike was my brother. A brother in arms, a brother in spirit and a brother who shared my life.
Father Tim, Sue shared your hobby with me, and you cannot believe how appropriate it is for you to be performing Mike's ceremony,as Dungeons and Dragons was a shared hobby for myself and Mike and for a great many people in this room.

For while I can't tell you exactly when I met Mike the first time; I know that it was soon after I came down to the Twin Cities for college and that it involved playing Dungeons and Dragons. One of the guys in the dorm played and was in Navy ROTC. He introduced me to a group of his friends who were in ROTC and gamed together. Mike was there in the group, ready to have fun or provide whatever help anyone needed. I always remember him with a smile lurking on his face and a look in his eye that no matter what, he was enjoying life.

Well, Mike graduated, got his commission in the Navy and moved to Norfolk. I heard about him occasionally through our friends, but didn't speak with him for about two years, until Karen and I married, I received my commission and we too moved to Norfolk, expecting our first child. Mike was there, same smile and look in his eye; showing us around and helping us move into the apartment below his. He was at the table with us for Thanksgiving; helped us bring the crib home from the store, an episode that saw him play a practical joke on a shipmate that traveled to Italy and back that summer and has stayed with us for over thirty years.

I had a six month deployment to the Mediterranean which started two months before Karen was due. But I didn't worry, because I knew Mike would be there. And when the hurricane blew in, after our son's birth, and they they were talking about evacuating Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Mike was there to tell Karen not to worry, since they hadn't sent the fleet out to sea to avoid the hurricane, there was no need for her to pack up a new born and try to find a place to stay.

Mike left the service and moved back to Minnesota, while I stayed in for a number of years; again I'd hear about him occasionally. But one summer, while we were moving from San Diego to New York City, we stopped back in the Twin Cities and I somehow managed to track him down in those pre-cell phone days. We arranged that he'd come out to my sister-in-law's house where we we staying late in the evening, because of his schedule. And Mike was there, but this time he surprised us with Sue. That's how I got to meet the great love of his life and hear the story of how he had to go all the way to Yugoslavia to meet to meet a nice girl from east of the river.

Our ways parted again, until I left the service and came back here to settle down. And Mike and Sue were there, welcoming us back and inviting me to join with them and their friends officially to play Dungeons and Dragons, but really we spent just as much time socializing, every month or so for most of the last sixteen years.

Soon after, we returned, Mike and Sue told us there was a baby girl overseas that needed a family. And Mike and Sue were there, to bring Katherine into their home, their family and their love; raising a beautiful young woman who takes after her father in the way she holds her head, chooses her words, the love and support she gives her friends and in the joy she takes in life.

When our oldest son,Michael, the one who was born during that first deployment, was married only 18 months ago, Mike was there. Sharing his zest in life, making a speech and dancing with everyone, while wearing the most godawful blonde wig – basking and amplifying the joy felt by our family.

Finally, just six weeks ago, on the coldest day of the winter, Mike was there. To support me and my family at my mothers' funeral, he, Sue and Katherine had driven three hours in sub zero temperatures to be there for us and show us their love and support in our own time of need.



 Mike's legacy and challenge to me and to all of us, is to be there for each other in happiness and sorrow. To remind us that all clouds will pass and to fill our lives with joy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fishers as a Player Race

Below is the write up for creating Custom ACKS classes for the previously published Fisher race.  Note that in addition to the Players Companion, this thread on Gnomish Infravision (see Alex Macris' comment from 2012-03-12) describing how to calculate XP Costs on the ACKS forums is required to create Custom Classes for new races.  I found that the calculation for XP requirements beyond 8th level is a little confusing - so I'll restate my understanding here:
"7. If the race’s racial value does not mimic a class (such as dwarf), divide the Racial Value XP cost at Value 4 by the cost for dwarf 4 (1,400) and multiply the result by 10,000 for 2 class types and 30,000 for 2 class types. This is the additional cost per level after 8."
The 'Racial Value XP at Value 4' for the Fisher is 1300 XP based on the abilities available to a character with 4 build points assigned to the Fisher race.  Once I understood that the calculation is easy (1300/1400)*10,000 = 9,285.7...  rounded down to the nearest 1000, that's 9,000.  So every level of a Fisher class based on thief (or fighter) will require 109,00 XP to go from Level 9 to Level 10 and so on up to the maximum class level.  For classes based on Arcane or Divine classes, they would require 27,000 additional XP to advance from Level 9 to level 10.

  
Fisher Custom Classes

Fishers were created by Vidra, Priestess of the Final Justice of Themis (Hades) {Use Turas in ACKS; any deity opposed to the Undead may be substituted, such as Humakt from Runequest} to pursue the undead when they tried to hide beneath the waters. Since then small communities of them have spread along the rivers and coasts, living by hunting and gathering, trading fish and freshwater pearls for manufactured goods. Their innate sense of fun and frolic deter them from arduous labor such as farming, although many individuals with a sense of adventure make a living as sailors and boatmen. They respect any property that is obviously under the control of an individual, but anything that appears unattended if often found to be missing after a fisher passes by.

Fisher character classes are created using the Fisher racial category and experience points. Requirements, class category values, hit points after level 9 and experience point progressions are modified as noted below.

Requirements
All Fisher classes require a minimum Dexterity and Constitution of 9 or better.

Class Category Values
Fighting: Due to their short stature, Fishers can never use two handed swords or longbows, regardless of their Fighting value. Fishers with Narrow or Broad weapon selections must include Short Sword, Net and Sling.
Arcane: Fishers may never allocate more than 2 build points to the Arcane category.

Fisher Value
Value
Fisher
XP Cost
4
Fisher 4
1300
3
Fisher 3
950
2
Fisher 2
650
1
Fisher 1
375
0
Fisher 0
125

When building a Fisher custom class, assign between 0 and 4 build points to the Fisher Value.
Fisher 0: At Fisher 0, the character gains the following custom powers:
Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 1d10 rounds. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 1d4 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 10' in the water or 3' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 60' and can hold it's breath for 12 rounds (2 minutes).

Fisher 1: At Fisher 1, the character gains the following custom powers:
Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 1d10 rounds. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 1d4 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 10' in the water or 3' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 90' and can hold it's breath for 30 rounds (5 minutes).
Bladedancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3.

Fisher 2: At Fisher 2, the character gains the following custom powers:
Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 1d10 rounds. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 1d4 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 15' in the water or 5' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 90' and can hold it's breath for 30 rounds (5 minutes).
Bladedancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3.

Fisher 3: At Fisher 3, the character gains the following custom powers:
Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 1d10 rounds. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 1d4 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 15' in the water or 5' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 120' and can hold it's breath for 1 turn.
Bladedancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3.
Thick Fur: The character gains an additional +1 AC due to the thickness of it's fur. It ignores the effects of cold, but suffers double the effects from heat.

Fisher 4: At Fisher 4, the character gains the following custom powers:
Paralyzation: 3 times per day when executing a successful Wrestling attack the Fisher may inject a neurotoxin into it's opponent. If the opponent fails to save versus Paralyzation they are paralyzed for 2d4 turns. If they succeed, the affected body part “falls asleep” for 2d8 rounds.
Electrolocation: The character can locate invisible creatures within 15' in the water or 5' through the air.
Swimming: The character has a swim speed of 120' and can hold it's breath for 1 turn.
Bladedancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3.
Thick Fur: The character gains an additional +1 AC due to the thickness of it's fur. It ignores the effects of cold, but suffers double the effects from heat.

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level


Fishers using the fighter or thief progressions increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by  9000 XP. Fishers using the arcane or cleric progressions increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 27,000 XP. These are in addition to the standard 100,000 XP per level after Level 8.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fishers - an ACKS race

A new race for Adventurer, Conqueror, King - the Fisher.  Inspired by the Niffler from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (without being hunted to extinction as the primary component for Bags of Holding); the common platypus (although they're better described as unusual than common) and Runequest Ducks (when given a choice between being described as annoying or plucky, ducks will always choose to be considered annoying, when you have feathers 'plucky' has a whole 'nother meaning.)

For an upcoming campaign, I wanted to develop a race that fills the 'hobbit' spot without being completely senseless in a fantasy setting.  Even within the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien admits that the concept of hobbits is untenable within his world.  They are almost completely dependent on the services of others to defend them from enemies, i.e. the Rangers patrolling the North.  Once that protection is withdrawn they immediately become a plantation of slaves to the first warlord to come around with a gang of a few hundred men.   I can easily imagine a version of Middle Earth where a dragon lives in Michel Delving, and treats the hobbits as a source of wealth and livestock - and there's nothing they can do about it.

Runquest Ducks on the other hand, have been a source of derision by players for years.  Yet they make sense within their world, they're despised, untrusted and victims of a massive pogrom by their erstwhile friends and neighbors.  They respond by scattering into the swamps and marshes that humans don't want to live in and persevere in small groups.

Both races are depicted as small, natural thieves and often played humorously by the DM and players.

I had been planning on introducing Ducks into ACKS for my next campaign, when my much better half took me to see the latest JK Rowling money pump.  And I was entranced by the Niffler, greedy little SOB that he is, but too small for a potentially playable race.  So I worked with the concept, starting with the platypus and came up with:

Using the rules for creating monsters from ACKS Lairs and Encounters,(pg147) here's my worksheet:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Review - The Petal Hack

   The Petal Hack is +Brett Slocum 's inspired recasting of the Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) using the mechanics from the Black Hack.  For those who aren't familiar with it, Empire of the Petal Throne is the original RPG, beating D&D 0e into publication.  Not that it was developed in a vacuum, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson wrote the forwards to it.
   My own introduction to it came just before my 16th birthday when a friend (who had a driver's license) and I saw a notice of a wargaming club being formed at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.  When we showed up that weekend, we were introduced to a large number of SPI and Avalon Hill board games, like Panzer Leader; I lost handily the first time I tried playing Go and I sat in (completely bewildered by the concept) on this pen and paper game where you rolled dice to create a character and then who got killed in the arena.  That was Tekumel, the world of the Petal Throne.  Sadly, I never played again, I was more interested in the tactical wargames that were produced in volume back in the the 70's.  But the idea did inspire me to look for RPGs at the FGS across the state line.  I didn't find EPT, but I picked up Chivalry & Sorcery  at that point.  It wasn't until sometime in the last 10 years or so after I had moved back to the state that I obtained a PDF of the 1987 reprint.  That's when I learned that Professor Barker had been teaching at Minnesota at the same time I attended.  What a missed opportunity!
   As to the Petal Hack, it's an outstanding port of the original game system.  Obviously the mechanics have changed, attributes are rolled 3d6 instead or d100 - necessary for implementing the core Black Hack mechanic of rolling under your attribute using a d20.  And it follows from that the combat and magical mechanics have all changed.
  The other huge improvement from the original game is the editing is simply smashing in comparison.  It's well organized and concise - I found it more useful for translating terms I found in Professor Barker's novel Man of Gold, than the original manuscript was.
   But the mechanics were never the core of EPT.  The game has always been about Professor Barker's World of Tekumel.  A world of the future rotated out of time and space, throne back into barbarism and populated by the descendants of many star faring races and some very hostile indigenous remnants.  All of these have been ported over, along with the wonderful list of techno-magical items like the 'Eye of Joyful Sitting Among Friends', which acts as a Charm Person spell on your enemies and is coincidentally the name of Brett's blog.  And here is where the port is, necessarily I think, weaker - the original rules have lengthy descriptions of each monster, god and magic item, along with a gloss of the thousands of years of history of Tekumel since it was rotated out of the knowledge of man.  The Petal Hack has distilled the monster and item descriptions down to basically one sentence descriptions that capture the essence, but not the flavor.  No evocative mention of chiming and the odor of musty cinnamon indicating the presence of the dreaded Ssu for example.  I suspect this was necessary to keep with in the licensing provisions.
   I think this work will be of great interest to anyone who wishes to explore the World of Tekumel, but they will need other resources, such as Brett's blog, the World of Tekumel site and the Tekumel Foundation before they can begin the exploration of  Professor Barker's unique world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

2.5D Tile - 10x10 Intersection

My first attempt at building 2.5 dimensional dungeon tiles out of paper and cardboard.  I'm using the PDF images and instructions kindly provided by +Kristian Richards at The Crooked Staff.  I started cutting with a box cutter, but found that using a Dremel rotary cutter works faster, easier and better. Just remember to put scrap wood under it, the blade will go right through any thin plastic cutting board.  I've also switched to a glue stick, instead of a glue gun as it's easier to spread a smooth layer.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dragonewts: Mystery of the Tail

Looking through the Classic Reprint, as I'm working on a generator for RQ2, I'm struck by the unaddressed changes of the Dragonewt Hit Locations.

Dragonewts (and Newtlings) don't have individual Hit Location entries and being upright bipeds would seem to fall under the standard Humanoid Hit Location template.

Right Leg      01-04
Left Leg        05-08
Abdom          09-11
Chest                12
Right Arm     13-15
Left Arm       16-18
Head              19-20

Yet, Newtlings are stated to have a (delicious) tail and "are very like a crested dragonewt in stature and can be mistaken for one at a distance."  From which I infer that crested dragonewts also have tails.


This is the dragonewt illustration from the book.  It's holding a spear and a Klanth, (which is too heavy for most Crested Dragonewts to wield) so I believe that this is meant to be a Beaked Dragonewt.  Again it has a substantial tail.

The next stage is the Tailed Priest, by definition it would appear to have a tail.

There's no physical description of the Full Priest, but in the final stage the dragonewt is "revealed as the Inhuman King, gaining wings and, again, a tail."  Indicating that the Full Priest is the only tailless stage of Dragonewt development.

Given these deductions I will be adding two Hit Location templates to my RQ2 work.  Crested, Beaked and Tailed Priests, along with Newtlings, will use the first template, Full Priests will continue to use the Humanoid template and the Inhuman King fittingly gets its own template.

Dragonewt & Newtling                     Inhuman King
Right Leg      01-04                             Right Leg      01-04
Left Leg        05-08                             Left Leg        05-08
Tail                   09                               Tail                   09
Abdom          10-11                             Abdom          10-11
Chest                12                               Chest                12
Right Arm     13-15                            Right Arm     13-14
Left Arm       16-18                            Right Wing       15
Head              19-20                            Left Arm       16-17
                                                            Left Wing         18
                                                            Head              19-20