The end is nigh! Join us for the two final sessions of Heroes of Ash and Flame. You’ve sensed her presence. She’s harried your companions, even stolen one of your own. Now, come face to face with the greatest adversary you’ve yet faced on the blasted wastes of Athas.
Join us Monday, February 17, for Heroes of Ash and Flame. 6:00 pm at the Lewisville Public Library.
Heroes of Ash and Flame is reserved for teens, ages 12 to 17.
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.
Heroes of Ash and Flame is reserved for teens, ages 12 to 17.
Well file this one under “I didn’t see this coming.” But I’m really excited that it is/will/might.
Back in 1991 when I first stumbled across a promo for Dark Sun in an issue of Dragon Magazine, I could have probably only ever told you the name of two game designers: Gary Gygax (AD&D, Greyhawk) and Ed Greenwood (Forgotten Realms). Ah the days of innocence. It wasn’t long before I added Tim Brown and Troy Denning to that list. The world they created, along with Gerald Brom, hit all the right notes at just the right time. And I happily ditched the warmed over Middle Earth repeats for the harsh climes of the Athasian wastes.
Flash forward now some 20 years, and it looks like Tim Brown is getting the band back together.
As a fan of the Dark Sun setting, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this project come to light. But that enthusiasm comes with some trepidation too. I love Dark Sun for what it is, and I worry that any “spiritual successor” will come up wanting in my book. Am I so attached to headhunter pygmy halflings that I won’t miss them if they are gone? Will all that seemed new with Athas feel contrived and redundant with Khitus. I feel there is a lot more to Dark Sun than “D&D adventures in the desert”. Maybe after all this time, I’ll discover (to my horror) that it was Troy Denning that brought the magic and Tim…well…
So why am I posting this here? Oh sure, Heroes of Ash and Flame is set in the Dark Sun milieu, so its relevant regardless. It’s a bit of a inside baseball answer. See, if you look at the product library I’ve distilled into HoAF, it leans VERY heavily on the books that came out under Tim Brown’s leadership. While it doesn’t jive with corporate realities, I believe that game worlds are driven by their creators. Greyhawk was never the same without Gygax (sorry, Carl Sargant). Greenwood has managed to keep one foot in the Forgotten Realms, despite all the upheavals and edition retcons in its published history. Likewise, with Dark Sun, it felt as though it lost something significant when Tim Brown moved on. I can’t explain what that was. Perhaps its all in my head. It happened before the Revised world setting was released.
I’ve no doubt Tim Brown has big plans for this project. I’ve heard through the grapevine he’s tried to take back the reigns of Dark Sun a couple of times since TSR folded up. So if this project lets him build on what he left behind 20 years ago, without all the baggage that comes with the D&D brand? I’m excited to see where he takes it, even if the end result disappoints me.
Oh, and don’t let anyone tell you Dark Sun and prog don’t go together.
(Yes, technically Rainbow isn’t prog. It’s neo-classical proto-metal hard rock. But close enough.)