The May Project Continues

Well, despite my best intentions I only got about one good week of the May Project due to a combination of NRE and work.

While NRE is still high (it actually started in April) I’m a bit back together and I’m ahead on the time management parts of it.

So, the May Project will also be the June project but with a second, very important purpose: On June 19th the May project becomes a fortnightly campaign on Sunday evenings. I have two players and if you read this and are in the Greater Atlanta Metro area and willing to come into Midtown every other Sunday we can talk.

May Project: Fox Spirits

Both of my gaming sources mention Fox Spirits. MoMaL mention them as one of several kinds of animal spirits but Mystic China treats them as what Palladium calls a Racial Character Class (for those not familiar with Palladium it has both race as class and split race and class depending on the race). We have demi-humans assigned to all our major cultures except Chjinna/Grjeee. A new race would both fill that gap and serve as a great example of “what is unique here” so we’ll add Fox Spirits as a new race.

Where Am I From
1 Maerr Idnn
2 Yaborine
4 Chjinna
5 Chjinna
6 Chjinna
7 Chjinna
8 Grjeee
9 Grjeee
10 Grjeee
11 Rielant
12 Csantinavaire

Experience Level Title Hit Dice Class Ability
0 1 1d8 Purify Food and Water (as per cleric spell)
1600 2 2d8 Light (as per cleric spell)
3200 3 3d8 Shield (as per magic-user spell)
9600 4 4d8
19,200 5 5d8 Thunder Bolts (magical bolts that always strike and do 2d4 damage)
40,000 6 6d8 Infravision
80,000 7 7d8 Protection from Evil (10′ radius)
160,000 8 8d8
320,000 9 9d8 May use any magical staff or rod (but not wands)

Random Thoughts

I have several almost finished May Project items in the hopper. Expect to see them in a torrent today and tomorrow.

I’m taking a mulligan on this Monday’s Pointers and re-running the full one next week along with the regular ones.

Working on the May Project has me considering importing something for D&D4 into OSR format: D&D4 rituals. My creation from the fourth story in Sword & Sorceress along with the Cages of Joneky along with the various wizard dueling rules in the OSR has me thinking about just what a spell represents.

Work is keeping me really busy as is my Lady (still in that NRE period) which has affected posting some.

The Mad Genius of the OSR pulled a quote from my Vornheim post. The only caveat I’ll ad is I wrote the original post based on the PDF and I was wrong. Vornheim in book form is MUCH cooler than I thought.

I have Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster on repeat and just ordered a copy of Revised Vampire: the Masquerade on eBay.

May Project: Fox Spirits, a new race class

Both of my gaming sources mention Fox Spirits. MoMaL mention them as one of several kinds of animal spirits but Mystic China treats them as what Palladium calls a Racial Character Class (for those not familiar with Palladium it has both race as class and split race and class depending on the race). We have demi-humans assigned to all our major cultures except Chjinna/Grjeee. A new race would both fill that gap and serve as a great example of “what is unique here” so we’ll add Fox Spirits as a new race.

Where Am I From
1 Maerr Idnn
2 Yaborine
4 Chjinna
5 Chjinna
6 Chjinna
7 Chjinna
8 Grjeee
9 Grjeee
10 Grjeee
11 Rielant
12 Csantinavaire

Experience Level Title Hit Dice Class Ability
0 1 1d8 Purify Food and Water (as per cleric spell)
1600 2 2d8 Light (as per cleric spell)
3200 3 3d8 Shield (as per magic-user spell)
9600 4 4d8
19,200 5 5d8 Thunder Bolts (magical bolts that always strike and do 2d4 damage)
40,000 6 6d8 Infravision
80,000 7 7d8 Protection from Evil (10′ radius)
160,000 8 8d8
320,000 9 9d8 May use any magical staff or rod (but not wands)

May Project: Fox Spirits

Both of my gaming sources mention Fox Spirits. MoMaL mention them as one of several kinds of animal spirits but Mystic China treats them as what Palladium calls a Racial Character Class (for those not familiar with Palladium it has both race as class and split race and class depending on the race). We have demi-humans assigned to all our major cultures except Chjinna/Grjeee. A new race would both fill that gap and serve as a great example of “what is unique here” so we’ll add Fox Spirits as a new race.

Where Am I From
1 Maerr Idnn
2 Yaborine
4 Chjinna
5 Chjinna
6 Chjinna
7 Chjinna
8 Grjeee
9 Grjeee
10 Grjeee
11 Rielant
12 Csantinavaire

Experience Level Title Hit Dice Class Ability
0 1 1d8 Purify Food and Water (as per cleric spell)
1600 2 2d8 Light (as per cleric spell)
3200 3 3d8 Shield (as per magic-user spell)
9600 4 4d8
19,200 5 5d8 Thunder Bolts (magical bolts that always strike and do 2d4 damage)
40,000 6 6d8 Infravision
80,000 7 7d8 Protection from Evil (10′ radius)
160,000 8 8d8
320,000 9 9d8 May use any magical staff or rod (but not wands)

May Project: Wings of Fire Part 3

There is one list thing to take from this first tale in Swords and Sorceress VIII. Actually, it’s a pair of items.

“As you see,” said a new voice, female, with an undertone of petulance, “I plan my prisons well.”

“For the mages,” their captor said, gesturing grandly, “A cage which nullifies magic, with a lock that can only be opened with an ordinary key.” She held up the key hanging at her belt.”

“For the warrior, a prison that only magic can unlock.

Quote from Wings of Fire, copyright Mercedes Lackey

Cages of Joneky
Joneky, the first governor of Frjanci when the Chjinnee founded the city, trafficed in barbarian warriors and strange creatures with unique powers captured to serve as entertainment at the Emperor’s Court. Not one to be daunted by difficulties (or shy away from great amounts of coins) he extended his alchemical researches into locks of great ingenuity. His crowning achievement were the Cages of Joneky. The mystical crafts that fuel them require them to be made as a matched pair and they are most effective when joined together.

The Warrior’s Cage is locked magically. Once the door is shut to re-open it requires the casting of a magical spell. If the caster is keyed to it (see below) any spell, even a read magic, is sufficient to open it. If the caster is not keyed to it he must making a roll of 20+ on a d20 with the level of spell cast as a positive modifier and the level of diverted magic from it’s mate (see below) as a negative one. Spells that are specifically intended to open locks, such as knock give a modifier of twice their level. A caster can accumulate levels by casting spell after spell, but for every round a spell isn’t cast the accumulated modifier is halved. Multiple casters cannot combine the utility of their spells.

The Mage’s Cage is locked with a simple, but incredibly complex, mechanical lock. Attempts at picking the lock are at a penalty of +1 (d6 skills) or +16% (percentile skills) which doubles with successive retries after each failure. The cage’s true power, however, is the fact that it nullifies magic. Items within will not function. Spell casters lose all memorized spells. If the cage is within line of sight of its mate then the power of those spells are diverted to the Warrior Cage with the sum of their levels becoming the negative modifier. This stored power will drain away at the rate of one penalty point per day.

Attunement is accomplished by a spell caster intentionally placing himself inside the Mage’s Cage within one turn of locking the Warrior’s Cage. The caster must then, within 24 hours, cast spells to unlock the The Warrior’s Cage. If 24 hours pass before he successfully opens The Warrior’s Cage he must restart the process. If he opens it within 24 hours he will be attuned to The Warrior’s Cage and may easily open it. Only the mated Mage’s Cage can attune a caster to a given Warrior’s Cage.

Bleed Off is required for a Mage’s Cage to remain stable. Every time it tries to deactivate magic without it’s mate in line of sight it may explode. Role percentile dice and if the result is less than the total of levels being absorbed the cages explodes doing d6 damage per spell level absorbed to those outside the cage and within 20′ feet. Individuals within the cage are not harmed but still lose their memorized spells. Magic items do not add to and cannot by themselves cause this explosion nor can inherent spell like powers (although all of those are dampened by the cage.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License or the Open Gaming License. Choose the license which best suits your purposes but I prefer the Creative Commons.

May Project: Wings of Fire Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post of campaign materials inspired by the story Wings of Fire from

“She was born of magically talented parents, and given all she desired,” the Hawkbrother continued. “But she came to desire more and more, and her own small talent could not compass her ambition, until she discovered her one true gift-that she could steal spells from any, and use that power to weave those spells at no cost to herself. Thus she enriched herself at the expense of others, and the more power she had, the more she sought.”

Quote from Wings of Fire, copyright Mercedes Lackey

So, a mage that only learns spells by stealing them. While the idea of power stealing is common the specific idea of learning spells by stealing is kind of rare. I like it.

Spell Stealer
The spell stealer is a form of magical parasite. Born with the ability to channel magics they lack either the mental ability or determination to actually learn magical formulas. Instead, they steal spell knowledge directly for the minds of other magic users and clerics.

Except as noted below under spell casting, spell learning, and other abilities treat a spell stealer as a cleric for purposes of attacks, weapons and armor, spells per day, and saves. Treat them as a magic-user if, for some reason, you need to know XP to advance a level. Because of their lack of training and knowledge no magical research, item creation, or similar abilities are know by spell stealers.

Spell Casting: Because they are innate magic users and not learned or devoted ones spell stealers don’t memorize spells or maintain spell books. All their spells are kept in their head and selected as needed to cast. While this gives them some flexibility relative to magic-users and clerics they are still limited to a certain number of castings per day, reflecting their ability to control the energies coursing through them.

Spell Learning: Due to their inability to learn spells by devoted prayer or academic study spell stealers do just that, they steal spells directly from the mind of other magic users. Because they must hold all their spells in their head they are limited in the number they can know and lack absolute control over what they learn. The total number of spells of a given level a spell stealer can know is half the number that level they can cast per day divided by two.

Because of the method for “learning” a spell it is quite possible that a spell stealer may know a lower level spell than the slot might indicate, such as knowing spider climb as a third level spell instead of a first level one. Note, such higher level learning has no effect on the spells power, just how much power they must use to cast it. Finally, because they use the cleric spells per day table they cannot learn eight and ninth level magic user spells at all.

To learn a spell a spell stealer must cease and hold the head of a spell caster who has memorized a spell and lock their eyes. In combat this requires a to hit at -8 and in or out of combat the victim may save against spell to avoid the eye lock affecting the transfer. The transfer takes one round per level of spell being learned and if broke before then the stealer must save versus spell or take spell level d6 of damage. At the end of that time the stealer may select one spell the opponent knows to attempt to steal. Roll d20 + spell stealer’s level – spell level. On a roll of 15+ the stealer steals that spell. On a roll 6-14 a random spell memorized by the target is selected from all spells that are the level of the highest open slot of the stealer or lower. In this case regardless of level of the spell it will fill that highest open slot. On a roll of 4- no spell is stolen. Any stolen spell is immediately forgotten. Magic-user and clerical spells may be stolen.

If a spell is stolen the subject of the attack makes a saving throw against magic with a bonus of the spell stealer’s level if a specific spell is chosen. If the roll is failed the target suffers a level drain if level 2 or higher but not if level 1. This drain represents the mental damage suffered by having a spells ripped out of your head. The bonus on a specific spell being stolen represents the lessor damage by a controlled removal by an experienced stealer.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License or the Open Gaming License. Choose the license which best suits your purposes but I prefer the Creative Commons.

May Project: Wings of Fire Part 1

The second story in Sword and Sorceress VIII is Wings of Fire by Mercedes Lackey. At the risk of trashing what little old school cred I have I have to admit to enjoying a lot of Misty’s writing. My favorites were her Diana Tregarde novels of which there were only three due to poor sales although a novella appeared in a 2010 collection. There were two short stories about Diana originally written to be included in Stalking the Night Fantastic.

Wings of Fire is a Tarma and Kethry. While the main characters and broader setting elements aren’t easily transferable to the Grjeee setting (although some could fit the Maerr Idnn) I have found a few things I’d like to important at this early stage. The first is a spell.

The bird shrieked in alarm and shot skyward. Tamara cursed; Kethry was too busy trying to breathe.
It’s the paralysis spell, she thought even as she struggled to get more air into her lungs. But she couldn’t breathe in without first breathing out, and every time she did that the hand closed tighter on her chest. That’s-supposed-to-be-
A darkness that had nothing to do with the hour dimmed the moonlight, and her lungs screamed for air.
-lost-
Blackness swooped in like a stooping hawk, and covered her.

Quote from Wings of Fire, copyright Mercedes Lackey.

Okay, you say lost spell and I hear campaign material. What we know is it is called the paralysis spell and it suffocates the victim to unconsciousness but not death. Because it is used to paralyzed both main characters to capture them it seems to follow the Hold Person and Hold Monster spells but it also causes damage but not fatally. It also seems to be general in effect.

Paralyze
Magic-User Level 6
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 120’
This spell will render any living creature paralyzed. Targets of the spell are aware, but cannot breathe normally or take any actions, including speech. A successful save vs. magic will negate the effect. The spell may be cast at a single monster, which makes its save at -2, or at a group, in which case 1d4 of the creatures in the group may be affected.

The inability to breath will deal 1d6 damage per round but will not take the victim to negative hit points. If the victim reaches 0 hit points due to the spell’s damage he will fall unconscious.

A winged creature which is paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls (if in flight at the time). A paralyzed swimmer can’t swim and may drown.

If a magic item or spell operates to partially negate the effects of paralysis, failure on the saving throw will have the effect of a Slow spell rather than completely immobilizing the target and will only cause 1d3 per round damage from breathing difficulty.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Open Gaming License or Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. I prefer the Creative Commons license.

May Project: Where Am I From

One of the first things you can tell a player is where his character originated. So we’ll start our setting by picking some broad cultures/locations.

Looking at our resources we get the following:

  • Core Rules: No real setting info beyond some basic assumptions.
  • Monsters of Myth and Legend: Presents monsters and gods from six cultures: American Indians, Aborigine, Chinese, Greek, Irish, Norse.
  • Mystic China: I think this is obvious.
  • Sword & Sorceress VIII: A variety from unnamed cities to Mercedes Lackey’s Velgarth
  • City In The Glacier: While the entire series detailed several nations of the setting to varying degrees, this volume covers mostly a lost realm and some primitive tribes the two leads adventure through while reaching the eponymous city.
  • Gloomcookie: Modern San Francisco through a horror movie/goth scene lens.

Looking at that list I’d say we’re leaning to six main cultures derived from the MoMaL list with an emphasis that the core culture is the one derived from Chinese culture. We should have a lost culture now buried in ice which we’ll make the ancestors of the Norse and Irish derived cultures. I also want one very creepy but somehow important city at the core of the initial setting area.

Some quick culture names and how they map (names created with Mythmere’s Gygax Your Name generator):

Maerr Idnn => American Indians (Amerind was the source word)
Yaborine => Aborigine
Chjinna => China (not a lot of change)
Grjeee => Greece (hey, that ‘j’ tells me they’re related…more about that below)
Rielant => Ireland (the ‘t’ is from change one letter)
Csantinavaire => Norse (Scandinavia was the source word…again, I got change one letter and again moved ‘d’ to ‘t’ to provide some commonality with the Rielant as they have the same source culture)

We’ve already decided the Rielant and Csantinavaire are descended from the City In The Glacier and they have the common ‘ant’ structure in the name (which is cool when you look at the monster on the novel’s cover) so the city’s name should have that as well.

I also noticed we got that third ‘j’ in both Chjinna and Grjee. We’d decided our core culture is Chjinna so let’s put Grjee as a colony of that culture on the same continent as the Rieland and Csantinavaire. Our City in the Glacier is now a Seven Cities of Gold type draw for Chjinnarie adventurers to the new world. Given we’re probably setting our initial campaign area in this colony our creepy city, Frjanci, will be the main port and capital of the colony.

Finally, where would we be without a random character origin table broken down by class (if we add new classes they’ll need their own table):

Roll Fighter
Specialist
Human NPC
Cleric Magic User Dwarf Elf Halfling
1 Maerr Idnn Maerr Idnn Maerr Idnn Maerr Idnn Maerr Idnn Maerr Idnn
2 Yaborine Yaborine Yaborine Yaborine Yaborine Maerr Idnn
3 Chjinna Chjinna Chjinna Chjinna Chjinna Maerr Idnn
4 Chjinna Chjinna Chjinna Grjeee Grjeee Yaborine
5 Grjeee Chjinna Chjinna Grjeee Grjeee Yaborine
6 Grjeee Grjeee Grjeee Rielant Rielant Yaborine
7 Grjeee Grjeee Grjeee Csantinavaire Rielant Chjinna
8 Grjeee Grjeee Grjeee Csantinavaire Rielant Chjinna
9 Rielant Rielant Rielant Csantinavaire Rielant Grjeee
10 Rielant Csantinavaire Rielant Csantinavaire Rielant Grjeee
11 Csantinavaire Csantinavaire Rielant Csantinavaire Rielant Rielant
12 Csantinavaire Csantinavaire Csantinavaire Csantinavaire Csantinavaire Csantinavaire

If you want to select a human origin before the class just use the NPC chart.