Monday, January 15, 2018

Trauma Surgery for Classic Traveller

In Classic Traveller, you die when all your three physical characteristics fall to zero. The following alternative rules, however, allow the mortally wounded character a second chance in life - typically at a terrible price. A good surgeon, following timely first aid and triage, can sometimes save a critically injured traveller from certain death.

Under these rules, a character whose all three physical characteristics fall to zero is not necessarily dead, but only possibly so. There is still some hope - given prompt medical attention.

The key is to bring the mortally wounded character to a hospital within the "Golden Hour" of trauma medicine – that is, within one hour from injury. Even with advanced first aid, critically injured characters whose three physical characteristics were reduced to zero will not survive without trauma care within an hour of injury.

Ordinary medbays common on most starships will not suffice – a dedicated hospital, whether shipboard or planetside, is the only facility capable of such medical operations. If no hospital is reachable within one hour, the only way to preserve the wounded is to place them into a low berth. Note that the survival Medic check upon thawing the frozen character also applies here. Also note that characters killed by vehicle-scale or starship-scale weapons cannot be resuscitated.

Once on the operating table, the surgeon treating the critically injured character throws 2D + their Medic skill, modified by the DMs below, and consults the following table.

Note that a TL15 Autodoc, costing MCr1, can perform trauma surgery. It has an effective skill of Medic-3.

Trauma Surgery Table
5-Patient is dead
6-7Significant internal damage 
8-10Radical measures required
11+Normal recovery

Trauma Surgery DMs:
  • DM-2 if no first aid provided within 10 minutes of the injury.
  • DM-2 at TL7-; DM+2 at TL12+.
  • DM-2 if injured by an explosion.
  • DM-2 if patient has END 5-, DM+2 if patient has END 10+.
Trauma Surgery Results:

Patient is dead: character dies on the operating table. No further resuscitation attempts possible.

Significant internal damage: multiple organs severely damaged. Permanently subtract 1D from each physical characteristic. If any of them reaches zero or less, the character dies.

Radical measures required: Throw 1D:
1-3: internal organ removed. Permanently reduce one physical characteristic by 1D. Character dies if it reaches zero or less.
2-3: leg amputated. Movement halved (given a crutch) and the character may either act or move during a given round. TL8+ cybernetic replacement costs Cr25000 and restores full functioning.
4-5: arm amputated. The character obviously cannot use this arm for any purpose. TL8+ cybernetic replacement costs Cr20000 and restores full functioning.
6: eye removed. DM-2 to all actions requiring one eye, including all attack throws. TL8+ cybernetic eye costs Cr7500 and restores full vision.

Normal recovery: heal as normal for a seriously wounded character.

Looks brutal? Always remember that without these merciful rules, your character would be automatically dead.

Tentative ACKS Sorcerer spell list

In my previous post, I presented the sorcerer - a spellcaster inspired by sword & sorcery literature, who is beyond the dichotomy between arcane and divine magic. Here I will list the sorcerer's initial spell list.

As noted, these are the sorcerer's spell type categories:

Blast - as cleric
Death - as mage
Detection - unavailable
Enchantment - as mage
Healing - as cleric
Illusion - unavailable
Movement - as cleric
Protection - standard as cleric and mage
Summoning - 75% of mage! The sorcerer's big forte.
Transmogrification - as mage
Wall - as cleric


* denotes a reversible spell
Italics denote a spell from the ACKS Player's Companion

Level 1:
Charm Person (Black Magic)
Choking Grip (Grey Magic)
Cure Light Wounds* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Detect Magic (I include this despite being a Detection spell, for flavor reasons)
Protection from Chaos* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Remove Fear* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Resist Cold (White Magic)
Shield (White Magic)
Sleep (Grey Magic)
Summon Berserkers (Black Magic)
Unseen Servant (Black Magic)

Level 2:
Alter Self (White Magic)
Create Water (Grey Magic)
Deathless Minion (Black Magic)
Delay Poison (White Magic)
Hold Person (Grey Magic)
Resist Fire (White Magic)
Snake Charm (White Magic)
Summon Animals (White Magic)
Summon Winged Steed (Black Magic)
Summon Hero (Black Magic)
Wizard Lock (White Magic)

Level 3:
Call Lightning (Grey Magic)
Conjure Oozes (Black Magic)
Create Food (White Magic)
Cure Blindness (White Magic)
Cure Disease* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Dispel Magic (White Magic)
Feign Death (Black Magic)
Infravision (White Magic)
Insect Plague (Grey Magic)
Levitate (Grey Magic)
Protection from Chaos, Sustained* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Protection from Normal Missiles (White Magic)
Remove Curse* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Summon Weather (White Magic)
Water Breathing (White Magic)
Web (White Magic)

Level 4:
Call Dragon (Black Magic)
Charm Monster (Black Magic)
Command Plants (Grey Magic)
Confusion (Grey Magic)
Conjure Elemental (Black Magic)
Control Undead (Black Magic)
Cure Serious Wounds (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Growth of Plants* (Grey Magic)
Magic Jar (Grey Magic? Is this Summoning?)
Massmorph (Grey Magic)
Neutralize Poison* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Polymorph Other (Grey Magic)
Polymorph Self (White Magic)
Sticks to Snakes (Grey Magic)

Level 5:
Adaptation (White Magic)
Animate Dead (Black Magic)
Control Weather (White Magic; I read this as a Summoning spell)
Curse of Swine (Black Magic)
Dimension Door (White Magic)
Dispel Chaos (White Magic)
Feeblemind (Grey Magic)
Flame Strike (Grey Magic)
Hold Monster (Grey Magic)
Invisible Stalker (Black Magic)
Summon Djinni (Black Magic)
Sword of Fire (White Magic)
Transmute Rock to Mud* (Grey Magic)

Level 6:
Anti-Magic Shell (White Magic)
Death Spell (Black Magic)
Disintegrate (Black Magic)
Flesh to Stone* (White Magic; the reverse is Black Magic)
Haste* (White Magic, the reverse is Grey Magic)
Passwall (White Magic)
Reincarnate (Grey Magic?)
Torpor (Black Magic)
Trollblood (White Magic)
Wall of Fire (Grey Magic)
Wall of Ice (Grey Magic)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Initial notes about an ACKS Sorcerer

Art by Hannah Saunders (c) 2017 Stellagama Publishing
First post of 2018! Happy new year!

Sorcerers. The dread of normal men, who huddle behind their walls in fear of the feared men and women who wield unearthly power. Scourge of the stalwart warrior and barbaric brave, who cower from the sorcerer's eldritch might. Horror of eternity, steeped in the occult in life, terrifying in eternal undeath when they transcend the grave.

Sorcerers are the latter half of "Sword and Sorcery", the first half being the courageous sword-wielding barbarian who dares face such magical power. An archetype of a spellcaster, in many cases a monstrous villain, but sometimes a valuable ally.

The mage given in ACKS Core emulates a sorcerer to a certain degree, but its roots still stay in the old Dungeons & Dragons magic-user. Sorcerers in fiction often have powers similar both to these of mages and those of clerics; they transcend the dichotomy between arcane and divine. Indeed, they study tomes of ancient lore, but often have dealings with all sorts of deities.

This is why I am writing up a sorcerer. It can serve both in a traditional Sword & Sorcery ACKS game, as well as in my Blighted Future post-apocalyptic setting - where "exotic" quantum breached reality and allowed the occult forces of Chaos to pour through.

Right now this class uses rules from Aurach's Axioms Issue 1 - a highly recommended product for ACKS. The final version of the sorcerer will, itself, include all necessary rules (thanks G-d for the Open Game License and the creativity it inspires).

Sorcerers summon. They do not control the domain of psychics, namely detection and illusion spells, but they are particularly potent in calling allies from beyond this world, far beyond the ACKS Core mage. They are not very flashy casters - and far from mastering blast spells - but have a strong grip on matters of life and death.

Using the Axiom rules, I have built Sorcery as a magic type. They are somewhat more potent than clerics, but significantly weaker than mages. This, however, allows them a far lower XP cost, as well as having full sorcerous power at 2 class build points (as per the ACKS Player's Companion). A sorcerer can, thus, wield weapons or have varied non-spell powers as common in sword & sorcery tales. Alternatively, the all-out sorcerer, at sorcerer class level 4 and at the hefty cost of 3,200 XP to reach level 2, is a powerful caster - enjoying a large number of spells per day.

Here are my notes for building the sorcerer's spell list. This refers to levels, not actual spells; for example, "casts blast as a cleric" does not mean that it is limited to divine blast spells as given in ACKS Core, but rather that its spell power level in regard to blast spells follows the cleric. The spell categories are as per the ACKS Player's Companion.

Blast - as cleric
Death - as mage
Detection - unavailable
Enchantment - as mage
Healing - as cleric
Illusion - unavailable
Movement - as cleric
Protection - standard as cleric and mage
Summoning - 75% of mage! The sorcerer's big forte.
Transmogrification - as mage
Wall - as cleric

A "full" sorcerer class category is at 2 build points and 800 XP. For example, a sorcerer with reasonable fighting abilities - Fighting value 1 and Hit Point value 1 (both at 500 XP) will require a mere 1,800 XP to reach level 2 - faster leveling than a fighter. My intention for the base "sorcerer" class is to do just that, though I'd be tempted to use the Thievery 2 class value instead - that version of the sorcerer will be weak in combat, but will level fast and will enjoy a wide variety of non-spell powers.

Sorcerers are studious - they gain their spells from study like mages and receive bonus spells for high Intelligence.

Like mages, sorcerers can perform magical research:

Research spells at level 5
Scribe scrolls at level 5
Brew potions at level 5
Create permanent magic items at level 9
Cast ritual spells at level 11
Create crossbreeds at level 11
Grant unlife at level 11

Sorcerers advance in saving throws slowly - by 2 points every 6 levels.

They may use magic items intended both for clerics and for mages.

A sorcerer's prime requisites are both INT and WIS.

Sorcerers cost an additional sum of 150,000 XP per level after the 8th level.

Sorcerers use the Shades of Magic code of behavior. At sorcerer class value 2, this grants them the ability to rebuke and command undead as a cleric of their level, as appropriate to a dread necromancer! The price, however, is that some spells are designated as Black Magic - especially summoning creatures from thin air and animated the dead; these have a corrupting influence on the sorcerer (sorcerers are good in summoning, but certain summoning spells are black magic - and usually powerful - so the temptation is huge). There are Grey Magic spells, such as transmogrification spells cast at unwilling targets, which may be corrupting if used against Lawful or Neutral sapient creatures, and non-corrupting otherwise. Finally, there are White Magic spells, such as healing spells, which are safe.