Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"The Lost Islands" goes commercial!

I am pleased to report that I have signed a contract with Autarch LLC for writing my "The Lost Islands" campaign setting for ACKS as a commercial freelance project!

I'm already working on several very cool ideas, which would make this a prehistoric sci-fantasy romp to remember!

It will also be set in the official Auran Empire setting, offering a change of pace from the Empire's late-antiquity milieu.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tentative ACKS Psionic "spell" list

In the previous post, I presented my take on psionics for ACKS.

As noted, these are the psionic spell type categories:

Blast - unavilable
Death - as cleric
Detection - half cleric!
Enchantment - half cleric!
Healing - 1.5 cleric (i.e. slower progression)
Illusion - as mage
Movement - as mage
Protection - standard as cleric and mage
Summoning - unavailable
Transmogrification - unavailable
Wall - unavailable


* denotes a reversible spell
(note that a spell and its reverse are separate spells for a psychic and must be learned separately)
Italics denote a spell from the ACKS Player's Companion,

Level 1:
Charm Person
Command Word
Detect Chaos*
Detect Charm*
Detect Danger
Detect Invisible
Detect Magic
Detect Secret Doors
Find Traps
Locate Object
Protection from Chaos
Read Languages
Remove Fear*
Speak with Animals

Level 2:
Choking Grip
Cure Light Wounds*
Hold Person
Hypnotic Patterns
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force

Level 3:
Charm Monster
Chimerical Force
Command Animals
Command Person
Command Plants
Delay Poison
Dispel Magic
Invisibility, 10' Radius
Locate Object
Protection from Chaos, Sustained*
Protection from Normal Missiles
Speak with Plants
Wizard Eye

Level 4:
Control Animals
Control Undead
Cure Moderate Wounds*
Feign Death
Dimension Door
Hallucinatory Terrain
Hold Monster
Remove Curse*
Strength of Mind*
True Seeing

Level 5:
Control Plants
Cure Blindness
Cure Disease
Cure Serious Wounds*
Neutralize Poison*

Level 6:
Anti-Magic Shell
Dispel Chaos
Project Image

ACKS: psychic build

Psionics. Ever since I first watched Babylon 5 in the mid-late 1990's, I was fascinated by them - by the powers of the mind. I wrote some rules for them for the Cepheus Engine, not being satisfied with how it treats psionics in its core rules. However, in fantasy, things are a little different. For what are psionics, but science-fiction magic? So I was, in the past, on the fence about their inclusion in fantasy settings. However, in more "gonzo" quasi-science-fantasy settings such as my (published) Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK), or my prospective Blighted Lands post-apocalyptic setting for ACKS, they should fit well.

So, like the sorcerer, I used the magic type creation rules from Axioms I to create psionics as a custom type of "magic". Yes, you read me right - "magic". I find the ACKS spellcasting rules to be robust, more robust than, say the old AD&D Psionics Handbooks rules, or even the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook's spellsinging rules. So I am taking a similar road to the one I took with BCK's visitor hybrid: my psionics use a variant, custom type of "spellcasting", designed per Axioms I as noted above, rather than the traditional AD&D (or my beloved Traveller) psi-point system.

You can find the psychic magic type design sheet HERE.

Psychics have "inherited" magic with standard (mage-like) progression. Unlike sorcerers, they lack a code of behavior and do not have to fear Corruption, and cannot turn or control undead. They have mage-type saving throws (i.e., the worst) and both INT and CHA as prime requisites. They may use magic items accessible to mages.

Psychics have no access to "sorcerous" spells such as Blast, Summoning, Transmogrification, or Wall spells. However, they receive powerful Detection and Enchantment spells very early and have good illusion and movement spells (as a mage) - all befitting the masters of the mind.

A "full" psychic is at 2 build points and 950 XP, which I may yet round to 1000 XP for convenience sake. "Half" progression is that 450 XP; 133% psionics are at 1900 xp; and 150% psionics are at 3800 XP, which seems a bit excessive.

I have in mind (so to speak!) two psionic classes:

The psychic is the master of the mind - yet skilled in survival in blighted lands and barbaric jungles alike. Men fear him (or her!) - as his mysterious mental might can dominate the will of others and penetrate even the deepest, most private thoughts of a hapless "mundane". Unlike mages or clerics, the psychic needs neither spellbooks nor holy symbols; his very presence provides him with power over the minds of others. Playing a psychic means mastering the mind - that of the character himself, and that of his enemies.

Class build would be Psychic 2, Fighting 1b (as thief), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants full access to psionic powers (with full mage-style progression), as well as decent fighting capabilities. This costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

Psionic Knight
Some men (and women!) master not only their minds, as a psychic does, but also the blade and the shield. A keen mind, powerful enough to rob opponents of their most intimate thoughts and bend them to the psionic knight's will, augments a steady sword-arm. If the psionic knight survives long enough to become a mind lord - a psionic warlord - his psychic skills grant him a strategic advantage against his "mundane" opponents, granting military intelligence and providing strategic capabilities beyond the ken of ordinary men.

Class build would be Psychic 1, Fighting 2 (as fighter), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants half of a psychic's power progression, together with great martial prowess. This also costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

I also wanted to add a savant class with Psionics 4 but 3,800 XP to get to level 2 seem like an excessive price for 150% spells.

Next, I will design the psionic "spell" list based on the magic type design I have linked above.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Lost Islands Regional Map

This is the full (work-in-progress) map of my Lost Islands campaign setting for ACKS.

For a full-res map look HERE.

The main island itself is quite large - approximately 150 miles long by 120 miles wide. As there are no real roads and terrain is difficult, that's a lot of exploration!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Lost Islands

One thought that has occurred to me is that an "Isle of Dread"-type setting could be a wonderful vessel for bringing Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu elements into a more "standard" D&D-type fantasy campaign campaign. I am thinking about running it for traditionally-minded players who will want to play dwarves and elves, but I'll introduce them to all the weird Lost World lizardry stuff.

Crashed alien saucer on a "lost world" island with Ancient ruins, lizardmen/geckomen, and dinosaurs. Which "ordinary" fantasy heroes come to visit.

This is not Kanahu transplanted into a generic fantasy world, mind you, but a setting allows importing BCK material into a limited area of it.

This will have a "regional" map (1 hex = 6 miles) with several islands. And yes, with pirates (Arrrrrr! Shiver me Timbers!) too.

I was thinking about the Islands being a small part of a sunken, Mu-type continent, where there was once an Ancient [human] civilization (Mesoamerican-flavored). When the Ancient Land sank, the survivors made pacts with reptilian totems of the islands for protection. This was a blessing and a curse - the Ancients became various types of lizardmen; the Chaotic among them became Serpentmen and Toadmen.

So you get various lizard tribes - you get the Monitor [standard lizardman] Village, the Gecko Village, the Chameleon Village [new class/creature] - and the Serpent Pyramid!

Later, a millennium or so ago, humans islanders from other parts of the world came and settled a peninsula; they fortified the Ancient bridge connecting it to the main island and thus enjoyed some protection from dinosaurs and other dangers of the main island. They settled on a few of the smaller islands as well.

Finally, very recently, the Empire came and set up a trading-post on the peninsula to trade with local humans and with the "Lizard Village" (Monitor Village). Pirates from the Empire also settled on the Islands.

There was also an alien saucer crashed into the dormant vulcano's flooded caldera; possibly damaged by Ancient magics when investigating them.

So you have:
  • Dinosaurs and other weird fauna and flora.
  • Ancient [Mesoamerican-style] ruins with all sorts of magic (or technology?).
  • Lizardmen/geckomen/chameleonfolk, serpentmen, toadmen. May provide henchmen.
  • Local human tribes. May provide henchmen.
  • Pirates! Arrrrrr!
  • Alien ship; aliens; alien beasts/robots. Alien tech.
  • Imperial presence.
  • Islands just waiting to be conquered and inhabited!
What do you think?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cauldrons & Casseroles

Stellagama Publishing is proud to present:

Cauldrons & Casseroles

The gamers' cookbook!

82 recipes for hungry role-players - from snacks to drinks to pies to poultry and fish! All ready for eating by hand, while playing.

As role-playing games are becoming an increasingly popular pastime and hobby for many in our current culture for quite a while, a tradition of gaming food and drinks should evolve accordingly. Cocktail parties or sport events, for instance, have evolve their own food traditions. There is no reason role-playing games shouldn't either.

Cauldrons & Casseroles presents 82 recipes for varied foodstuffs perfect for the gaming table, from snacks to pies to poultry and fish.

The dishes themselves are practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

The recipes included in this book do not follow the order of courses within a meal nor are classified according to culinary genre or ingredients. Instead, they rather follow the course of a typical fantasy role-playing adventure, with the dishes being inspired by the plot and taking place as an integral part of it. The dishes themselves are also practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

Measurements are given both in the Imperial and the Metric systems.

We hope this book will inspire all of you to sharpen your kitchen wizardry skills and make some gastronomic magic happen!

Get it HERE!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dark Inheritance hex map

I have drawn up a hex map (in Hexographer) of the environs of Tideborn Village and Castle Tideborn from my Dark Inheritance mini-campaign idea. The big black hex is Tideborn's six-mile hex; each small hex on this map is a 1-mile hex. This shows the general regions and points of interest. Interacting with these hexes, investing gold in them, and clearing out monsters (and bandits!) will grant the players various resources, including increased domain revenue.

At the campaign's start, domain revenue is 4gp per peasant family - appropriate for a ruined backwater threatened by various monsters and beset by banditry. Unseating the bandits from the copper mine, clearing out and rebuilding the lighthouse, and uprooting the abominable fishmen from the reef - all will increase domain income and reduce threats.

Apart from the Tideborn village and Castle Tideborn described in earlier posts, this map has five regions, each of which will receive its own encounter tables: the Hills, the Woods, the Swamp, Farmlands and Road, and the Sea. The farmlands and road are relatively safe, at least at daytime - but even then suffer from banditry. The swamps are a war-zone between Neutral lizardmen and Chaotic toadmen and holds other unpleasant surprises, including bog zombies and giant toads. The hills are bandit country at day and haunt of wild beasts at night. The woods are the most dangerous land area here, haunted by undead and evil fey, not to mention giant spiders. The sea is cruel and home to all manner of pelagic nightmares.

The Abbey of St. Lena is haunted, but is the rumored resting place of the fabled Dagger of St. Lena; even the bandits avoid going there in fear of the horrors left therein. This is a shaded Sinkhole of Chaos - cleansing it may allow the establishment of a new Abbey, under Law - or even a re-consecrated Pinnacle of Law.

The Copper Mines are inactive, as their new residents and masters - the Broken Skull Gang bandits - abhor honest work such as mining. Unseating the bandits, whether by force or by "diplomacy" (that is, a more veiled show of force), will allow the PCs to reopen the mines. The renovation will cost some gold, but an operating mine will increase the domain income by 3gp per family per month.

The Lizard Village is Neutral, as it has always been. It predates the village and castle by eons of primitive existence. The Neutral lizardmen are at war with Chaotic toadmen. Siding with the lizardmen will allow the PCs to recruit two powerful lizardman henchmen - a Savage (warrior) and a Shaman.

The Toad Cult is the horror of the swamp - primitive toadmen and degenerate human cultists worshiping the Chaotic toad-god Tsathoggua. They are at war with the lizardmen, and try to convert them to Chaos - no easy task, but a few did join the cult and serve as its shock-troops.

The Lighthouse used to guide fishermen at night; now it is ruined, leading to caverns of various horrors of the sea beneath it. Cleaning the caves and investing gold in rebuilding the Lighthouse will increase domain income by 1gp per family per month.

Finally, the Reef is home to the worst of the fishmen and cephalopod cults, who raid the coast and wreck fishing boats. Cleansing it will greatly increase fishing yields, adding 1gp per family per month to domain income.

Note that Chaotic or even, in some cases, Neutral PCs might choose to ally themselves with the Toad Cult (against the lizardmen) or even the Bandits... Parlaying with them won't be easy, but players being players - who knows...