Sunday, 19 April 2015

Theory of Magic Revision

Moving on from revising the mechanics around Magic to the Theory of Magic. Is it too much to have delve into the details of how magic works and why?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Magic Rules Revision

Quick update... just about finished updating the rules for Magic. With Attribute Pools and the switch to d20 for Feat rolls it just got a whole lot simpler.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Attribute Pools

Recently I've started the move towards streamlining modifiers. The previous versions of Lycadican were very much reminiscent of AD&D 2nd Edition. Moving forward I'm incorporating more modern trends in gaming and one of the things I've done is to remove many modifiers by introducing Attribute Pools. With the attributes themselves I've merged a couple and dropped a couple. The remaining Attributes that do have modifiers are based on the value of the attribute itself and apply once, at character creation time. Modifiers that use to be based on attributes, such as a bonus to skill rolls for a high intelligence have been removed.

Each Attribute now has a pool (equal to the value of the Attribute.) Points in the pool can be used to reduce the difficulty of actions or to increase the chances of success by providing bonuses to rolls. This reflects effort being used to ensure success. I've also gotten rid of my version of 'Saving Throws' and made them attribute checks against the current value of the attribute pool. So if you've really exerted yourself that day, and you need a resistance roll versus poison it will be more challenging than if you had just taken it easy.

Here is an example. A character with a Constitution Attribute value of 9 would have 9 points in the Pool. If during play on one particular day that player used 3 points form the Constitution Pool to lower the difficulty level of a Feat (which would have had to be Constitution related) then his Constitution Pool is sitting at 6. Suppose this character unwittingly drinks some poison and needs to make a Constitution Check to avoid becoming paralyzed. Normally he would have had to roll under a 9, but now he has to roll under at 6.

In addition, I'm considering requiring abilities and powers to have a cost in Attribute Points. The only challenge here is that because I have no level system (beyond individual skills, abilities and powers) if I do this there may need to be some mechanism to increase the maximum value of an Attribute Pool as characters become more powerful.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Narrating Magic

I like magic, almost any time I've played an RPG I've been some kind of magic user. It's unsurprising then that Lycadican has a very rich magic system. In fact, there is an entire philosophical framework behind how magic works, but the Cole's Notes version is basically that there is an energy field that permeates all things and represents all potentialities simultaneously (like a quantum particle.) Specifically this is all of the potentialities of things which already exist within the current environment. Something that is completely from out of left field or doesn't exist at all, while a possibility, would be be extremely unlikely to manifest and therefore much more difficult to accomplish. In my mind I see the mage reaching into a flow of those potentialities and using his skill and talent to select the version of reality that is most likely and closest to what he wants and increase its potential until it manifests.

Well, last night that got me thinking. If magic represents this slight warping of the potential possibilities of this reality how would it actually manifest? How would you are a GM/DM/RM describe spell effects to the players?

For one, the spell effects should almost never originate with the caster. They should originate in the environment around the caster. So, if we take for example the very venerable 'lightning bold' spell, instead of this scene:

"You mutter the incantation and make the arcane gestures; Bolts of lightning emanate from your hands and fly towards the gibbering goblins electrocuting them and singing their green skin"

you'd have this scene:

"You mutter the incantation and your mind pierces through the fabric of reality calling forth the energies of nature. You feel united with all things and pour your energies in calling down the energies you feel gathering in the storm clouds above you. When you open your eyes your notice your hair standing on end, you can feel the air charging with ever greater amounts of static electricity. Then you loose your focus on the charging goblins and bolts of lightning burst as if rent from the air itself to electrocute them, leaving their green skin singed and smoking."

It's not that the lightning couldn't originate from the Wizards hands, but that's far less likely and as a result would be far more difficult to accomplish, requiring a much more powerful character.

How'd that work for a fireball? Well, instead of a ball of fire that emanates from the caster and flies towards his enemies you could instead have a nearby tree spontaneously combust, bursting and hurling fire and shards of wood at the enemy with great force. Or, perhaps as in the previous example the tree was hit with lightning, igniting in flames with explosive force and injuring the enemy.

What if there isn't a tree nearby you ask? Well, then you move to something that is less probably, spontaneous combustion, or a small meteor fragment, or perhaps the sword or arrow of a fellow adventurer bursts into flame somewhat explosively as it hits your target. Perhaps the sword or the arrow are redirected to your target instead of its originally intended target...

There are a lot of possibilities for a creative referee, and it goes well with the current magic system which, as it happens, contains no pre-generated or pre-defined spells. Only a framework to quickly create magical effects during play.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Just dropping in with a quick note. An RPG group in Australia is currently play testing Lycadican and has made a number of suggestions. As a result, I'm busy with cleanups, clarifications, simplifications and some reorganizing.

Thanks Solo, Adam and the rest of the itinerant adventurers of  'Da good game night ya!' Have fun with the Asura ;)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Arakasha Society, Culture and Ritual, pt1

Society, Culture and Ritual

“Abaskara, know that all of you are one body.  You are one body among yourselves and you are one body with the clan.  Does it surprise you to know that you are one body with all Arakasha?  Why then do the Clans contest with one another?  To make the body stronger, weakness must be cast off and discarded.  This is the way of the Velo, the lore that shapes.”
The Black Velo Codex

Strangely the Arakashas are the only people in Khardan who are asexual; they are neither male nor female. Every Arakasha carries within itself the capability to propagate its kind.  According to tradition, when an Arakasha decides it is time, it chooses a future mentor and care-giver called a Sar. During the birth cycle it is the sar’s duty to defend and aid the gestating Arakasha or bateh (the Arakasha word for parent). When a sar is chosen and accepts this future responsibility the bateh will commence to gestate young in its belly for a period of eleven months. When the child is ready to be born, the Arakasha will be gripped with racking pain within its swollen abdomen. The sar then initiates the ritual known as Sarakis. During sarakis the sar slices open the bateh’s midsection lengthwise with its own styts, freeing the newborn. In the last stage of the ceremony the sar then opens one of his own veins and the child’s first meal is blood. This blood confers upon the child some of the characteristics of the sar. For a few months the child's only sustenance is the blood of the sar and other clan members. This nourishment helps the child grow and take on additional characteristics that differentiate it from its bateh. Once it matures it may consume meats and vegetables.

The position of Sar does not end with sarakis. A sar will also act as a lifelong mentor and teacher once the child approaches maturity. The tradition of choosing a sar is sacred and comes from the teachings of Velo. On occasion this tradition has been broken when an Arakasha is an outcast or circumstances dictate otherwise. Whatever the reasons the breaking of this tradition brings permanent dishonor on both parent and child. In some instances the child is killed, if not it will die shortly after from a lack of blood. No clan member will be the first to feed a new born unless they have been named Sar, it is taboo. Interestingly Arakasha prophecies and legends predict a great hero who will be born without a sar and grow to adulthood with a complete knowledge of the Velo without ever partaking of the blood of another Arakasha. He will live by fate alone as the returning Sar a’Naskara and lead their nation to dominion over Khardan.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Redesigning the Setting: Drawing the Satellite View Map, 7

Last time we created some Cloud layers with random noise and patterns. This time we will use these patterns to create texture and terrain features. As with the previous post, we are just going to mostly duplicate the steps in Arsheeh's Eriond Tutorial for GIMP and Wilbur that was found at the cartographers guild. (Credits for this goes to him.) Note that as we progress, it's a good idea to make backup copies of layers before you change them. This way you have something to go back to if you make a mistake.

Isolating the Land

The next step is to mask out the Land Clouds with our Land Mask channel. This will restrict the clouds layer to only the areas of your map which are land. The rest of the areas will become transparent. Create a new black layer (set the fill type to Foreground Color and make sure your foreground color is set to Black) named “Land” and move it to just below the Land Clouds layer. This Land layer is really just a flat black background under your Land. Next, un-hide the Land Clouds layer and then right click on it to add your Land Mask.

Layer > New Layer > Black (Name “Land”)
Layer (Land) > Lower Layer (to just below “Land Clouds” layer)
Layer (Land Clouds)> Unhide
Right Click on Land Clouds layer > Add Layer Mask > Channel (Land Mask)
Land Clouds Layer

Now your land should be isolated. However, the Land Clouds patters have far too much contrast. Let’s go ahead and change that but before we do, make a backup copy of your layer by duplicating it and then hiding the duplicate. Make sure that the Land Clouds layer is active by clicking on it (and not the layer mask to the right of it,) then go to Colors and select Brightness-Contrast. Set the Contrast to -25. If you find that your map is too dark, you can adjust the brightness slightly as well (maybe to +10.)

Colors > Brightness-Contrast > Contrast -25

The result should look like the map at the right "Land Clouds Layer."