Due to a family emergency, I won’t be able to attend the game tonight. Sorry. We will make it up later in the month.
The library will be closed on January 20 in observance of Martin Luther King Day. There will be no game that night.
Instead, we will be playing on January 27.
Hope to see everyone then!
Despite my constant descriptions of elves as “marauding, lying, cheating, Bedouin gypsies,” some of you insist on playing them anyway. Fair enough. More healthy snack options for thri-kreen hordes. But one aspect of roleplaying an elf is almost always sidelined, which is something I wanted to remedy with the book update. Tests of Loyalty among elves has been part of the Dark Sun milieu since back in the 2nd edition days. Updating the HoAF player’s book gave me a chance to include more detail on these finally. This is pretty much straight out of the original DS boxed set.
From Elves (pg 29):
The trust of an elf is not easily earned. An elf’s roleplaying revolves around his self-reliance and relationships with outsiders. Outsiders include anyone not of the elf’s tribe-even other elves. Thus, an elf should not wish to gain friendship and trust with every character he meets; on the contrary, he tests the trustworthiness of outsiders who display some redeeming characteristics (redeeming to an elf, that is). Elves also perform such tests on outsiders who try to befriend them. Elven characters should put outsiders to tests of trust or loyalty whenever possible rather than trust them from the onset just “because they’re other player characters.”
An elf will also recognize displays of trust and loyalty that are not planned in advance. If an outsider fails one or more tests of trust, an elf player character should not consider him a friend and should never retest him. However, if a series of tests are passed, the elf player character can declare the outsider a friend—no further tests will be necessary unless the friend severely breaks that trust.
ELVEN TESTS OF LOYALTY
Subtle Tests of Trust Include:
► entrusting an outsider with a confidential piece of information,
► leaving a valuable item out in the open, in clear view, to see if the outsider takes it,
► arranging a secret rendezvous, then making sure the outsider shows up in the right place and on time,
► asking the outsider to deliver a message or item.
Life-threatening tests of trust include:
► letting oneself get captured by gith to see if the outsider attempts a rescue (this is a favorite among elves of the stony barrens),
► faking unconsciousness after a battle to see what care the outsider provides,
► making certain part of the water supply is lost on a cross-desert journey, then seeing if he gets a fair share of what’s left,
► challenging a particularly deadly enemy to see if the outsider stands with him or flees.
One thing we’ve long danced around the edges of the rules on was psions using their mental powers for Notice rolls. It’s something that could easily have been a power, but why? With the updated HoAF book, I wanted to include some hard rules for this use of psionics, mainly so it didn’t feel so ad hoc from one game session to another. So here it is:
Characters with the Arcane Background [Psionics] Edge are able to reach out with their minds to identify and touch the minds of other intelligent creatures within a range equal to the character’s Smarts x10. Using this ability requires a Notice roll –2*.
Failure: The psion learns nothing for his efforts.
Success: The psion learns the approximate number of intelligent beings within range.
Raise: The psion can read the empathic feelings from targets within range. Alternatively, he can determine if any of the targets are psionically capable.
Guarded Thoughts: Trained psions can guard their minds against psychic perception. This requires an opposed Psionics roll against
the intruder’s Notice score. If it succeeds, the intruder cannot read the psion empathically or determine psionic capabilities.
Psychic Stealth: Psions who wish to remain hidden from spying attempts may do so with a Stealth roll –2. If this is done after his presence is discovered, the penalty increases to –4.
* –4 if the psion is in storm-like conditions; –6 if the psion is underground.
As I’ve been promising for a long time, I’ve finally submitted the revised Heroes of Ash and Flames Players Guide for printing. If we’re lucky, we should have copies available for the next game on December 16.
This has been a big undertaking, and a big revision of the book. In the previous version (edition, you might say), there were a lot of details I brought over from the original Dark Sun setting that just…didn’t work. I took a good hard look at all of those things to decide what needed to be there and what I was just holding on to out of nostalgia. One of those things, as all of you know by now, was Psionics.
Previously, psionicists had access to pretty much every power available to sorcerers. This was keeping to the source material. But the more I thought about it, the less right that felt. Sorcerers and Shamans (or Druids, for those of you familiar with the old AD&D material) are sort of two sides of the same coin, and both have considerable roleplaying restrictions heaped upon them by the setting. Psionicists don’t have any of that. They can walk around and use almost any power without fear of immediate repercussions. They had all the toys and none of the guilt. The new version changes that. Now, psionicists are dialed down to the bare essentials. They can still do a LOT. I wouldn’t call them nerfed by any stretch of the imagination. I think their powers are now comparable to Elemental Cultists. Fortunately, it probably won’t amount to many character changes at this time. It’s more of a scope thing. Since its one of the biggest changes, I thought I’d preview it here.
Arcane Background [Psionics ]
Arcane Skill: Psionics [Smarts]
Starting Powers: 2
Power List: Analyze Foe, Armor, Barrier, Beast Friend, Blast, Body Weaponry*, Bolt, Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Deflection, Detect/Conceal Arcana (Psionics), Disguise, Divination, Entangle, Environmental Protection, Farsight, Fear, Fly, Growth/Shrink, Healing, Intangibility, Invisibility, Mind Reading, Precognition, Pummel, Puppet, Quickness, Slow, Speak Language, Speed, Stun, Succor, Telekinesis, Teleport, Wandering Senses
Initiates of the Way have learned to tap into their own psychic powers. They can manipulate matter, create fire, or control their own bodies with but a thought.
► Casting: Psions must exercise concentration and will when using their powers. Any gestures, chants, or other mechanisims are simply a means for the practitioner to focus his will.
► Psychic Feedback: When a psion rolls a 1 on his Psionics die (regardless of his Wild Die), the power automatically fails. All currently maintained powers are cancelled as well. The failure creates a wave of psychic feedback that does 2d6 nonlethal damage to all sentient creatures within a Large Burst Template centered on the psion. In addition, the psion suffers a level of Fatigue.
The eco-system of Athas is quite alien to our own. With a few exceptions (goats), most of the animals your characters interact with on a daily basis have no counterpart in reality. There are no horses on Athas. Instead, people rely on trained crodlu. To pull an argosy across the wastes, the great wagons are often hitched to a pair of mekillots. Here is a guide to some of the most common beasts of burden to give you a frame of reference.
Crodlu: Crodlu are a species of flightless, scaled avian that roams the wilderness in herds. They have powerful hind legs, which were built for jumping great lengths. Crodlu have great endurance and can run at high speeds for long periods of time. Crodlu are caught as chicks and are trained as mounts as they are being raised.
Erdlu: Erdlu are large, flightless, omnivorous birds covered in scales. They are primarily used as livestock. They can weigh up to two hundred pounds and stand almost seven feet tall. Aside from its value as a meat animal, the erdlu’s beak, wing scales, and claws all find their way into various weapon heads and tools, and the egg of an erdlu is an excellent source of food and water.
Inix: An inix is a large lizard with a long, curling tail and a broad mouth. Inixes weigh roughly two tons and can grow up to 16 feet long.
Kank: Kanks are large, docile insects used as mounts and herd animals, as they thrive in any environment and produce a nourishing nectar. Kanks require little attention.
Mekillot: Mekillots are mighty lizards that weigh up to six tons, with huge mound–shaped bodies that can be thirty feet long. They are covered with a thick shell everywhere except for on their sides and bellies. Mekillots are used as caravan beasts; a hitched pair can pull a full wagon at a slow pace. Mekillots are never truly tamed, however, and the creatures have been known to go off the road and wander for days. They also like to make snacks of their handlers. Most caravans that use mekillots have a small team of mindbenders to deal with the beasts.