Archive for December, 2013

HoAF Update Preview #3: Elven Tests of Loyalty

Elves of AthasDespite 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.

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.


HoAF Update Preview #2: Psychic Perception

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.

HoAF Update Preview #1: Psionic Powers

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.