Thursday, May 29, 2014

[ACKS] Bug-Men Racial Template

A relatively rare, though influential, sentient species in my Barbarian Conqueror King setting is the Bug-Men race. This upright insectoids do not resemble orderly hive-based social insects, as the typical sci-fi depiction of insectoid aliens usually is, but rather cockroaches: they are opportunistic to the extreme, resilient, shady and anarchic. A Nest-Mother may have much respect from the many males who frequent her nest to mate with her, but she does not have real command over them, nor does she gain a telepathic connection with any male. Typically, the males go around making dirty deals and selling suspicious artifacts, while the female builds her own nest and grows her own magical power, then devotes much resources to reproduction en-masse and may grow her own "hive of scum and villainy" with her own spawn. For the male, however, the pinnacle of life entails the hoarding of many trinkets, which may or may not have any value in the eyes of teh human onlooker.

Physically, a Bug-Man male resembles a 4' tall upright, slender, humanoid cockroach, walking on four legs and using two limbs for fine manipulation. It has multi-faceted eyes and a mouth with two mandibulae and two maxillae, as well as two antennae each 1' long projecting from its head. A female, however is much wider, and grows over time; she starts her adult life around the height of a male (though much wider) but, eventually, when she settles in a nest and becomes a Nest-Mother, reaches 6' in length and much mass. Bug-Men range from yellowish-brown through dark brown to black in color; their eyes are shiny black. Males lack wings; female have four wings and may fly, as described below.

Bug-Men thrive wherever there is an opportunity for commerce, subterfuge and infiltration. They excel in the criminal underworld, using their opportunistic nature and keen senses to strike shady deals with other sentients. They live in the shadows of civilization, living on its refuse. Thus, some Bug-Men are, ironically enough, Lawful - because, if civilization falls, so does its bounty and so do the many opportunities for success it offers. Many others are Neutral, but very few are Chaotic. Bug-Men usually worship the gods of Humans around them, though they are rarely devout, and much more interested in striking temporary deals with the divine rather than forming long-lasting relationships; they speak their own language, but also that of the Human society around them.

Note that Bug-Men classes take either Bug-Man 0 (males) or Bug-Man 2 (females); Bug-Man 1, 3 and 4 are included for the sake of completeness.

All Bugmen require a minimum Dexterity and Constitution of 9 or better.

Class category Values:
  • Fighting: Due to their short stature, Bug-Men can never use two handed swords or longbows, regardless of their Fighting Value.
  • Divine: Bug-Men are rarely devout, and thus may not have a Divine Value higher than 1.
  • Arcane: Bug-Men may have any value desired in this category.

Bug-Man 0 (XP Cost 350): at Bug-Man 0, the class will have the following four custom powers:
  • Insect Senses: The Bug-Man, owing to his acute senses, particularly those granted by his long antennae, gains a +4 bonus on any proficiency throws to hear noises and detect secret doors. With a proficiency throw of 18+ he can notice secret doors with just casual observation. He gains a +1 bonus to avoid surprise. This is effectively the Alertness proficiency selected as a custom power.
  • Arcane Dabbling: The opportunistic Bug-Man is an expert collector of relics and trinkets, and thus may attempt to use wands, staffs, and other magic Items only useable by mages. At 1st level, the character must make a proficiency throw of 18+ on 1d20 or the attempt backfires in some desultory way (Judge’s discretion). The proficiency throw required reduces by 2 per level, to a minimum of 3+. This is effectively the Arcane Dabbling proficiency selected as a custom power.
  • Infravision: Bug-Men are nocturnal creatures and thus posses 30' "infravision" (actually, sensing minute movements of air with their antennae).
  • Inhumanity: Bug-Men are alien beings and thus suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of Humans, Lizardmen and Gecko-Men and. The character gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale with Bug-Men (costs 0 custom powers).
  • Mercantile Network: Bug-Men know other Bug-Men traders, as well as Human traders, all over the land. Whenever the character buys and sells equipment, hires retainers, and engages in mercantile ventures in a market they have previously visited, he treats the market as if it were one market class larger than its actual size. (Class I markets remain Class I markets).
  • Insect Resilience: Like cockroaches, Bug-Men are hard to kill. When a Bug-Man is required to consult the Mortal Wounds table, the player may roll twice and choose the preferred result to apply. The character also subtracts his class level from the number of days of bed rest required to recover (renamed Savage Resilience).
  • Chitinous Carapace: The Bug-Man has a rigid chitinous carapace which increases his unarmored AC to 1 (renamed Scaly Hide).
  • Insect Immunities: The hardy Bug-Man possesses the survivability of a cockroach, and thus is immune to all forms of disease, including magical diseases caused by spells, mummies, or lycanthropes, as well as to all forms of poison, including magical poisons. This is effectively the Divine Health proficiency selected as a custom power combined with a renamed Wholeness of Body (costs 2 custom powers).
Bug-Man 1 (XP Cost 570):  at Bug-Man 1, the class will have the following four custom powers in addition to the above:
  • Friend of Insects and Fungus: The Bug-Man is well-schooled in the world of insects. He can identify insects, other arthropods and fungi with a proficiency throw of 11+, and understands the subtle body language and moods of arthropods and fungal creatures (though they may not understand the character). He gains +2 to all reaction rolls when encountering normal and giant insects, and can take giant insects as henchmen. This is a variant on the Beast Friendship proficiency, selected as a custom power.
  • Infravision: The character has 60' "infravision" (actually, sensing minute movements of air with their antennae).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis. This is effectively the Elven Bloodline proficiency, selected as a custom power.
  • Antennae for Potions: The character make a proficiency throw of 11+ to determine the magical properties of a potion or oil on taste. Starting at 5th level, the character may brew potions as if mages of their class level. This custom power counts as 2½ custom powers if selected.

Bug-Man 2 (XP Cost 800):  at Bug-Man 2, the character is a fully-blown Bug-Man female, and the will have the following four custom powers in addition to the above:
  • Speak with Insects: Bug-Man females have an innate knack of communicating with insects of all kinds, at an almost magical level. The character can speak with Insects as per the Speak with Animals spell at will, though, unlike the original spell, this power only works with insects (natural, giant or otherwise).
  • Flying: The female Bug-Man gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (this costs 5 custom powers).

Bug-Man 3 (XP Cost 1,000): Bug-Man 2 + Thievery 1.

Bug-Man 4 (XP Cost 1,200): Bug-Man 2 + Thievery 2.

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level
Bug-Men increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 25,000XP.

[ACKS] Dragon Incarnate Racial Template

The dragons of my Barbarian Conqueror King setting are mighty and terrible beings, warm-blooded reptiles of great power and intellect a whole notch above dinosaurs, Lizardmen and Gecko-Men. Not only are their bodies exemplars of majestic strength, but their souls, especially those of ancient wyrms, are remarkable. But when a dragon dies, its sould does not always re-incarnate into a new dragon hatchling; occasionally, such a soul is born in the body of a human baby. For reasons unknown, however, such souls are never (at least in known record, that is) born in the bodies of Lizardman, Gecko-Men or even Bug-Men hatchlings; Lizradman priestesses claim that Ixchala watches over the re-incarnation of Lizardkind and prevents the souls of such beats to be born in Lizardman bodies, but that does not explain the reason for their absence in Gecko-Men and Bug-Men.

Born with the soul of an ancient wyrm, that Dragon Incarnate is destined to greatness, be that for good or evil - though whether or not he survives far enough to fulfill his or her potential is another matter entirely. The strength of personality and sorcerous powers brought forth by the dragon-soul make such rare men and women into natural leaders. In some cases, this allowed one man to unite various barbarian tribes into a horde, making him a temporary king with great military might; but, many times, once this Dragon Incarnate falls in combat, the horde disperses, as the glue holding it together is nothing else but the Dragon Incarnate's personality.

Dragons Incarnate are, biologically speaking, humans; but, in game terms, they are a separate "race". So here I will post its stats for the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS).

All Dragons Incarnate require a minimum Strength, Constitution and Intelligence of 9 or better and Charisma of 12 or better.

Class category Values:
  • Divine: Dragons Incarnate may not have a Divine Value higher than 2.
  • Arcane: Any build points allocated to the Arcane Value stack with build points allocated to the Dragon Incarnate value for purposes of determining the class’s spellcasting ability (see below).

Dragon Incarnate 0 (XP Cost 325): at Dragon Incarnate 0, the class will have the following four custom powers:
  • Soul of a Dragon: The soul of a great wyrm beats in the character's heart. The character may hire one more henchman than his Charisma would otherwise permit, and the base morale score of any henchmen is increased by 1 (renamed Blood of Kings).
  • Bonus Language: The character speaks the tongue of Dragons.
  • Dragon's Voice: The Dragon Incarnate's voice carries the majesty of a dragons' speech and an air of greatness, inspiring others to treat him with the respect due to a dragon. Thus the character gains a +2 bonus to reaction rolls with creatures he speaks to. If this bonus results in a total of 12 or more, the subjects act as if charmed while in his presence. Creatures with a WIS greater than the character’s CHA are immune to this power (and the character will know they are immune) (renamed Command of Voice).
  • Dragon's Luck: A dragon's sou makes its bearer luckier than ordinary mortals. The character gains a +2 bonus to all saving throws. This is effectively the Divine Blessing proficiency, selected as a custom power (renamed Divine Blessing).
  • Presence: The Dragon Incarnate can improve the morale of troops by his charismatic spirit and heroic presence. Inspiring courage by means of Presence requires a few moments of oration before a battle (one round), and grants the character’s allies within a 50' radius a +1 bonus to attack throws, damage rolls, morale rolls (for monsters or NPCs allied with the caster), and saving throws against magical fear. The bonus lasts for 10 minutes (1 turn). The character can inspire courage in any given character once per day per class level. The character cannot inspire courage on characters who are already engaged in combat (renamed Inspire Courage).
  • Dragon's Longevity: A dragon's soul is loath to leave its body, and carries a gift of health and longevity. Thus, the character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis. This is effectively the Elven Bloodline proficiency, selected as a custom power.
  • Dragon's Resilience: A dragon's soul confers its bearer great resilience in the face of death. When the character is required to consult the Mortal Wounds table, the player may roll twice and choose the preferred result to apply. The character also subtracts his class level from the number of days of bed rest required to recover (renamed Savage Resilience).
  • Strength of Spirit: The character is immune to all natural and magical fear effects.

Dragon Incarnate 1 (XP Cost 950): Dragon Incarnate + 1/3 level Mage.

Dragon Incarnate 2 (XP Cost 1,575): Dragon Incarnate + 1/2 level Mage.

Dragon Incarnate 3 (XP Cost 2,200): Dragon Incarnate + 2/3 level Mage.

Dragon Incarnate 4 (XP Cost 2,825): Dragon Incarnate +  full Mage.

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level
Dragons Incarnate increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 50,000XP.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dark Nebula: Traveller it is!

I have decided that I'll develop Dark Nebula for Classic Traveller. The main reason for this is that Dark Nebula, at its core, is a Traveller setting. And Classic Traveller is a great, and very freeform, ruleset. HOWEVER, I also intend to insert bits and pieces of Stars Without Number into it, namely world tags (factions would be more difficult to convert as they use the SWN OD&D-inspired mechanics). World tags, after all, are system-neutral, and so are the various plot hooks arising from them. I'll fit them, however, to the already-existing Traveller UWPs and trade classifications of this area of space.

So Traveller it is for Dark Nebula!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dark Nebula - a Classic Traveller or a Stars Without Numbers Setting?

I'm trying to decide on a ruleset for my hypothetical Dark Nebula game. First of all, Dark Nebula is a "Traveller" setting (actually the setting of a boardgame developed by GDW alongside Traveller and using similar ideas - it isn't Traveller 'canon' per se), so the obvious choice would be Traveller. In this case, Classic Traveller, not only because this is a great ruleset on its own, but also because, due to licensing reasons, you can't publish (including on a blog) Official Traveller Universe material (Dark Nebula included) with Mongoose Traveller stats UNLESS this is set in the Foreven sector, in which I have little interest, while you can definitely do so for CT as long as this is a free publication. However, Stars Without Number, a Traveller/OD&D semi-clone, is also very appealing to me. Why? because it has many cool bits, such as world tages, more interesting technology and gadgets than Classic Traveller, faction rules, vehicle rules, better robot rules and general coolness.

So what do you think? Which ruleset will work best for this? Vote on the poll to your right!

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Very Pregnant Dragon

And who did I meet yesterday on the wall of the Weizmann Institute of Science? None else but 'Clytemnestra' the wild Painted Dragon (Stellagama stellio - a local lizard), who appears to be pregnant; soon she'll lay eggs:

And here is the proud father, 'Agamemnon':

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

69th anniverasry of the (WWII) Allied Victory in Europe!

This day, 69 years ago, Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered to the allied forces, marking the final victory of all nations over the fascist beast. In this day, we should all celebrate the heroism and remember the sacrifice of millions of men and women who stood up, guns in hand, to history's greatest bullies, and put an end to Hitler's reign of terror!

Agamemnon & Clytemnestra

Painted Dragons (Stellagama stellio), like many Agamid lizards, are territorial - a mature male sets up shop in an area, then defends it with zeal, and attracts a number of females to reside in his territory. Soon enough, young Dragons will hatch, and also reside in this domain until they grow up and move on. So, if you see a Painted Dragon in one area day after day, year after year, this is, in fact, the same lizard. So I started naming two of the wild Painted Dragons best known to me, who live on the wall of the Weizmann Institute of Science (a few minutes walk from my apartment). I called the dominant male Agamemnon - from the word Agama (the type of lizard he belongs to - he's an Agamid), and his prominent mate I call Clytemnestra, after Agamenon's vengeful wife in Greek mythology. But, unlike mythology, these two lizards actually get along pretty well.



The Loving Lizard Couple (Clytemnestra on top):