Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bard Archetype: Dirge Singer

So in my Catamaran campaign the party bard's job on the Isle of Bones was to sing the tale of the dead brought to the island so they would be remembered.  She's basically a really death focused bard who is far more concerned with the end of stories than their beginnings.  To that end, I came up with a new bard archetype that I thought went along more with that.

Dirge Singer

Not all bards sing of the victory and glory of their allies; some sing of the defeat and shame of their enemies. These are the dirge singers, able to harness their magical powers to influence others towards failure as much as their own allies towards success. While many dirge singers are all evil, not all are; some are just pragmatists or possessed of a more sarcastic than melodic mind.

Gravesong

Beginning at 3rd level, you may use your inspiration dice to penalize your enemies in addition to aiding your allies. This ability consumes an inspiration die, requires a bonus action, and the target must be within thirty feet and able to hear you. The target gets a Willpower save against your spell save DC; success means this ability fails and has no effect. If the target fails its saving throw it has one gravesong die placed on it that is equal in size to your inspiration die type. This die may be applied as a penalty to any saving throw or attack roll the victim makes as long as the saving throw is triggered by an ally or the attack targets an ally. Once used, the gravesong die is lost.

Tune of the Fearsome Dead

At 3rd level you gain proficiency in martial weapons, Intimidation, and History. If you are already proficient in either of these skills, you double your proficiency bonus when using them.

Ballad of the Fallen

Beginning at 6th level, whenever an ally within 30 feet of you reduces an enemy to 0 hit points and chooses to kill them, you can use your reaction to grant that ally a number of temporary hit points to a roll of your inspiration die type.

Sealed Fate

At 14th level, if an ally’s attack hits using an inspiration die you gave him, the attack becomes a critical hit. Your gravesong dice may be expended to make a successful attack against a creature with a gravesong die a critical hit.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Catamaran - New Class Options Draft 1


Over the course of creating both the Catamaran setting and working with the players to create their characters, several new options for class archetypes that fit well within the setting became apparent. Below are the first of these in first draft form, so they're pretty rough (and derivative mechanically). But hopefully they are at least interesting. All feedback and comments very much welcome as I'm still getting a handle on 5E as a system.

Barbarian
Shark Totem

The following additional selections are available to barbarians on the Path of the Totem Warrior.

Totem Spirit
Shark:
While raging, you gain advantage in melee combat when attacking enemies that are already wounded. The spirit of the shark makes you a fearsome killer when you detect the scent of blood.

Aspect of the Beast
Shark:
You gain the speed of the shark. You gain a swim speed equal to your normal movement speed.

Totemic Attunement
Shark:
While raging, you cannot be charmed, confused, or frightened and you gain blindsense with a 10 foot range.

Bard
Voice of Keruna

(Note: Bards in this setting get their magic by harnessing the voice of the goddess Keruna, the dead goddess whose corpse formed the island cluster the players live on. So bards are deeply tied to the culture and are held in high regard. They're a mixture of peacemakers, journalists, and secret police serving the greater good).

Bards who choose this path seek to develop the power of the words of Keruna instead of more worldly skills, seeking to inhabit the powers of the dead goddess. These are rare among the people of the Sea of Keruna and are universally treated with respect.

Bonus Proficiencies
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in three of the following: Deceit, Intimidation, Persuasion, or a language of your choice. 

Voice of Creation
Starting at 3rd level, when you inspire an ally they also gain a number of temporary hit points equal to a roll of your inspiration die. Note this occurs when they get the inspiration die, not when they use it.

Voice of Thunder

At 6th level, you gain immunity to thunder damage and can ignore the thunder resistance or immunity of any creatures you strike with thunder damage. Any attack or spell you use that deals thunder damage is also considered to deal radiant damage. You are immune to the deafen and silence conditions. You are always considered to have thunderwave as a prepared spell. 

Voice of All
At 14th level, You are always considered to have speak with animals, speak with plants, speak with dead, and tongues as prepared spells. You may cast any of these spells by expending a bardic inspiration die; the level of the spell slot used to cast the spell is equal to half the maximum value of the inspiration die (so using a d10 will cast the spell with a 5th level spell slot). You gain resistance to radiant damage.

Rogue
Scientist

You use learning and observation to your advantage, taking the materials of the natural world and bending them to your will through science. Others may see your skills as being akin to magic, but your work is not based on any power arcane or divine. Instead you use chemistry, physics, and other fields of study left ignored by most, finding power in rarely held knowledge.

Master of Science
At 3rd level the rogue gains proficiency with the alchemist’s and tinker’s kit. If you are already proficient in these kits, you may apply double your proficiency bonus when using them.

Gadgets
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn gadgets that are fueled by special dice called cunning dice. You learn three gadgets of your choice, which are detailed under “Gadgets” below. Using a gadget requires an action, but the specific type of action varies from gadget to gadget.

You learn two additional gadgets of your choice at 9th, 13th, and 17th level. Each time you learn new gadgets, you can also replace one gadget you know with a different one.

Cunning Dice
You have four cunning dice, which are d8s. A cunning die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended cunning dice when you finish a short or long rest. You gain another cunning die at 9th level and one more at 17th level.

Saving Throws
Some of your gadgets require your target to make a saving throw to resist the gadget’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows: Gadget save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence or Dexterity modifier (your choice)

Invention
At 9th level, you have developed a unique invention that does what others can only do through magic. Choose one spell of 2nd level or lower from any spell list; you can recreate that spell’s effect through science twice per long rest with a spell level equal to your Intelligence bonus (minimum 2). The selected spell is considered to only have a somatic component, thus making you immune to silence, and this ability is not affected by anti-magic fields or similar effects. You should work with your DM to select a spell that makes sense and to craft the fiction that explains how it works, such as home brew healing potions for cure wounds spells or some manner of explosive for thunderwave.

Scientific Breakthrough
At 13th level your cunning die increase in size to d10s. At 17th level they increase to d12s and if you have no cunning die when you roll initiative, you gain one cunning die.

Gadgets
Antidote

You use some general poison antidotes to help an adjacent ally fight off the effects of poison. As a bonus action you can give one of your cunning dice to the ally you assist and they can add it to a saving throw against any manner of poison made on their next turn.

Armor Piercing Shot
As part of an attack action, You use a specially devised arrowhead or bullet with your ranged weapon, adding your cunning die to your attack roll. The target must be wearing at least medium armor or have a natural armor bonus of +3 or more.

Bomb
As an attack action, you toss a primitive explosive device into up to 30 feet away. Creatures within 10 feet of the device take fire damage equal to the cunning die spent on the attack, but can make a Dexterity save to take half damage. Multiple cunning dice can be spent on this gadget to increase the damage.

Fire Bomb
As an attack action, you throw a flammable bomb that lights all creatures within 5 feet on fire. They must make Dexterity saves or take fire damage equal to your cunning die each round until they succeed at the Dexterity save, or take an attack action to extinguish themselves.

Glue Bomb
As an attack action, you throw a stick glue bomb, affecting all creatures within 5 feet of the device. The targets must make a Dexterity save or suffer a penalty on all Dexterity saves equal to your cunning die until the next round.

Poison Strike
As a bonus action, you coat your weapon in one of your personally made poisons. You may add a cunning die to the damage of your next attack made with that weapon.

Scatter Shot
As part of a ranged attack, You use a specially designed fragmenting round to do additional damage to an enemy. You may spend your cunning die to add it to the damage of a ranged attack.

Smelling Salts
You use some smelling salts to help an adjacent ally regain their senses. As a bonus action, you can give one of your cunning dice to the ally you assist and they can add it to a saving throw to break free of any manner of mind-affecting spell or ability made on their next turn.

Smoke Bomb
As an attack action you release a smoke bomb at a point within 30 feet, releasing a cloud of smoke ten feet in diameter. Creatures in that smoke suffer a penalty to Perception and ranged attack rolls equal to your cunning die. Ranged attacks passing through this smoke suffer the same penalty. The smoke lasts for until the beginning of your next turn.

Stimulant
You dose an ally with a stimulant that reduces pain and increases alertness. As a bonus action, you grant an adjacent ally temporary hit points equal to the amount rolled on your cunning die and a bonus to all Perception checks equal to your cunning die as long as those hit points remain. These hit points fade after a short rest.

Weak Point
As a bonus action you can point out the weak points of constructs to an ally, granting that ally a bonus to an attack roll made during their next turn equal to your cunning die and allowing their weapon to count as magical for that attack.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Catamaran - Resources

For my Catamaran game I've been working with a lot of ideas of how to do a fun adventuring reward system in a setting with no functioning currency system and little in the way of portable wealth (gems, precious metals, etc).  The resource system below is the product of that thought process so far.

Resources

The economy in the Sea of Keruna is not currency based. Indeed as yet there is no currency widely accepted throughout the islands, though specific island may have currency they use within the bounds of their island. Without precious metals or an abundance of gems, there is not an inherently valuable, easily transportable form of wealth in the region. Those islands that do have currency generally have some sort of marker that can be traded for goods at a central trading post, effectively backing the value of the currency with the stock in the trading post, but such currency rapidly declines in value the further you get from the trading post.

Resources are the generalized system of goods and barter used to represent this non-coin based economy. Resources in the Sea of Keruna come in in lots, each of which weighs about one pound and is made of miscellaneous stuff appropriate to the value of the type of resource. Thus wealth can be represented by a large, difficult to transport number of lower value goods, or a small number of higher value goods. The types of goods available are listed below.
  • Subsistence Goods: Rations, small bits of leather, small pieces of cloth, etc. Equivalent to 1 sp. 
  • Resource Goods: Lumber, herbs, obsidian, etc. Equivalent to 1 gp. 
  • Trade Goods: Rope, sails, tools, medicines, etc. Equivalent to 10 gp. 
  • Luxury Goods: Silks, high quality wood, metal, etc. Equivalent to 1 pp (100 gp).
  • Splendorous Goods: God fragments, bones of mythical beasts, dragonhide, etc. EQuivalent to 10 pp (1000 gp). 
In addition to trade, goods may be used in the following ways:

Each day each character must consume one unit of goods to represent the food, water, clothes, etc, they need to survive. A character can consume any type of goods to do this, but consuming something more valuable than subsistence goods gets the character an additional hit die of healing until they take a long rest. Subsistence goods can be generated using Survival, but go bad if not consumed that day.

Making items, such as alchemy, requires one resource good per gp of components needed. Higher quality goods can be used, but still at one good to one gp of components needed, though they goods produced may be of higher quality at DM discretion. Sometimes specific goods or items may be needed as well, such as needing saltpeter to make thunderpowder. 
 
Sailing a boat consumes some number of trade goods each day the boat is at sea, usually equal to it’s hull rating. Sitting at dock consumes the same number of trade goods each week.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Catamaran - The Isle of Bones

My 5E campaign has run two sessions now and things are getting more settled.  Well, 3.5 sessions if you count all the prep, which included doing a Smallville style relationship map to create the island the players live on.  This involved drawing various items on a white board and then linking them to show relationships, which was done over the course of two rounds.  On round one the players could add physical things like locations, resources, geographic features, etc, to the island, while round two was adding allies, enemies, other islands, etc.  The group did really well with this and created the Isle of Bones, the most metal island to have no metal on it ever created.    

The Isle of Bones

The Isle of Bones is well known among the Children of Keruna as it is where you take the dead to be interred so they may reach the afterlife in the Seas of the Dead, that realm left by Keruna for her followers to inhabit after her passing. The Isle of Bones is the domain of the Bone Witch, a god of death who makes sure the living and the dead receive their proper rewards. The remains of those of virtue are thrown into the volcano the Fire of Keruna so they can receive her blessing, while criminals and other ne’er-do-wells are taken to the Skullyard where their remains are used to serve the people they once wronged as undead. Corpses come from across the sea to be buried here and include offers in of food, wealth, etc, to ensure the corpses are properly treated by the Tribe of Bone. Also those who have not led virtuous lives can come to the island and serve in order to try and work off their sins, creating a population that is a mixture of families who have long been on the island and penitent criminals hoping to find their way into Keruna’s fiery embrace.

It is well known that the people of the Isle of Bones do the bidding of the Bone Witch, and so are welcomed politely but with fear when they leave their island. There have been times when the Bone Witch decreed the deaths of those outside the island, usually for inscrutable reasons, thus visits from the people of the Isle of Bone are always cause for alarm.

A split has developed on the Isle of Bone regarding the disposition of bodies. The Bone Witch is at best a misty presence that whispers to her cleric or when she sits in judgement, but she cannot personally judge all the corpses that come to the island. Thus overtime the leadership of the island, under the direction of the Baron/Baroness of the Bone Hall, has taken up the slack in helping decide who has earned a trip to the volcano and who is condemned to the Skullyard. Over time complaints of bribery and corruption have begun to circulate as known criminals whose bodies came with great offerings of wealth have been sent to the volcano despite their crimes. Thus far nothing too obvious or far over the line has happened, but it has created a rift between the inhabitants of the settlement who want to see the people of the island prosper and those who want to see the will of the Bone Witch be done.

Features of the Island:

  • Blackmire Forest: A forest of massive myrran trees, these large trees have wide, branching roots that dig deep into the swampy soil of the forest. These trees grow up to one hundred feet tall and can develop trunks thirty feet across at the base, though they tend to taper off the higher one gets. The myrran trees are regularly harvested for use in shipbuilding. Blackmire Forest was also the home of a family of wizards until recently; they were murdered by the Stormfeather Order. 
  • Keruna’s Fire: The volcano at the center of the island, it is said to the portal to the afterlife for the children of Keruna. Those who are worthy are placed into the fires of the volcano amid pomp and ceremony according to their station and the gifts they sent to the Isle to pay for it. The bodies of the dead are consumed and their spirits move on to reside with Keruna in the next world. 
  • The Bone Hall: Made of the bones of whales, krakens, and other massive sea beasts, the Bone Hall is the center of government on the Isle. Here the Baron of the Bone Hall sees to the civil matters of the island, such as dealing with immigrants looking for absolution, organizing resources and workers, and hear disputes in need of judgement. The Bone Witch also appears in the Bone Hall, having her own place at the center of the hall where she hears the tales of the dead to weigh their deeds and assign their afterlife. She only does this for a limited amount of time each day, so sometimes these matters fall to her cleric or the Baron of the Bone Hall.
  • The Skullyard: Located behind the volcano, on the other side of the Isle from the village that has sprung up around the Bonehall, is the Skullyard. Here the bodies of the unworthy dead are left to rot in the open air, to be picked at by the beasts and the birds so their spirits never join with Keruna. In the past these bodies were used to create undead as needed to defend the island, but with the passing of the previous cleric of the Bone Witch, this has fallen off. The Skullyard is the home of the current cleric of the Bone Witch, who lives in a tree top hovel overlooking the yard. 
  • The Dirgehall: Located near the port and the Bonehall, the Dirgehall is built of driftwood and other detritus that have washed up on the beach of of the Isle. Here the dead are remembered in song and performance so their memories may be honored and their deeds magnified to earn a place in Keruna’s Fire. It also functions as the social gathering spot of the isle and various types of alcohol, mainly made from pineapple and coconuts, are consumed here. 
  • The Port of the Final Journey: What was once a simple funerary dock for the brining of corpses to be Bonehall has grown to be a massive complex of half a dozen docks, a shipyard, and numerous merchant stalls and shops. The commercial heart of the island, this is the first stop for all newcomers to the Isle as they offload their dead and make their gifts to the island. All mercantile activity on the island happens at or near the port and it is continually bustling with both locals and outsiders. Of the different parts of the island, it is the most lively and the least affected by the morose feel that follows in the wake of the Bone Witch. 
  • The Starmount: This plateau is the second tallest point on the island after the peak of Keruna’s Fire. The Starmount is home to a large stone henge complex that can be used for predicting the lunar and stellar cycles; it was originally used to calculate the exact date of death for those brought to the island, but now sees wider use for predicting eclipses and other events.
  • Firedust Mine: Located at the bottom of the Starmount, the firedust mine was created by a mixture of geologic forces and thousands of bats living in the mine for as long as the island has existed. This has created a rich deposit of firedust, but until recently the locals did not know it’s value. The Thunderhand Guild, an inter-island trade group, has made a deal with the Baron of the Bone Hall to mine the Firedust in exchange for various supplies and trade concessions. 

Important Entities:

  • The Bone Witch, God of Death: The god of the Isle of the Dead, the Bone Witch sees that the children of Keruna receive the appropriate afterlife. She is not much concerned with the matters of the living; conflicts between islands or political factions do not concern her. Instead she is only concerned with the dead receiving the appropriate reward, though she has been known to decree that someone has outlived their allotted span and that their life must be ended. In such cases she sends her cleric with some allies to end the person’s life, but thus far there has been no obvious rhyme or reason to how she selects these people. She is cold and etheral, only occasionally appearing in a wispy physical form. 
  • The Baron of the Bone Hall: Political leader of the island, the Baron is the hereditary leaders of the island. His family can be traced back to the earliest settlers of the Isle of the Dead and they have led it for over twenty generations, though some better than others. The Baron is a politician through and through; he would rather make a deal than fight and is always trying to get a head, but he also uses both these traits to protect his people. He is more loyal to the people of the island than the Bone Witch and has been known to make decisions about what to do with corpses without her input, especially when there is a lot of wealth on offer to secure a place in the volcano.

Threats

  • The Stormfeather Order: A group of wizards who seek to harvest the arcane essence that gives wizards their power and combine them into one source of power, which they will then put in one of their leaders to create a massively powerful wizard. Or possible a god. 
  • The Untainted: A group of fanatics who believe the burial rites of the Isle of Bones are nothing but a trick to give the souls of the dead to Keruna, who does not deserve them. This group hates all gods of the ea of Keruna and has many allies among the druids who live in the islands that no longer have a god.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Catamaran - New Races

This is my first pass at making new races. I don't think they're terrible, but they definitely need some fine tuning. I'm using the aasimar stats from the DMG as well. Thus far in the group the only non-humans are an aasimar, a dragonborn, and a scalefolk. I had originally planned on humans being a specific race as detailed at the bottom, but half the players wanted the normal vanilla humans from core 5E, so I went with that.

Demigod

Occasionally the gods of the Kerunan Sea get bored see to their domain or feel constrained by the limits of their island and forsake it for a life of adventure, though at a cost of most of their divine power. While they maintain a shard of their former might, they are now more mortal than god, though it remains to be seen if such a god could take his mantle back up...or if someone else could claim it.
  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and any other ability score increases by 1.
  • Age. You are effectively immortal to normal aging, but any magical aging effects will age you as if you were a normal human. This means normally you will never stop being a mature adult, but if you are aged fifty years by a magical effect you will then be stuck as an elderly person forever. 
  • Alignment. Demigods come in all alignments. 
  • Size. Demigods run the gamut from small to tall, but they always fall in the normal realm for humans. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. 
  • Darkvision. Thanks to your divine heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray. 
  • Divine Resistance. You have resistance to one form of damage as appropriate to your divine nature. For example, being a former volcano god would mean you are likely resistant to fire. 
  • Divine Legacy. Choose a clerical domain that was part of your portfolio as a god, and a cantrip that goes along with the theme of that portfolio. 
    • You know that cantrip. 
    • You can cast one of the 1st level cleric spells from the domain with this trait. You cast it using a 1st level spell slot and regain this ability when you finish a long rest. 
    • Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast one of the 2nd level cleric spells from the domain with this trait. You cast it using a 2nd level spell slot and regain this ability when you finish a long rest. 
    • Constitution is your spellcasting ability for these spells. 
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common. 


Scalefolk

It is said during the final battle of the War Before, one of the gods who rose up against Keruna was slain by the blow that killed her, and this gods corpse shattered and fell with hers. This created the Vermid Islands, a swampy collection of islands inhabited by the children of this slain god, the scalefolk. While some scalefolk trade and have peaceful relations with the Tribes of Keruna, many are raiders who attack the tribes for loot and glory.
  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1, and your Dexterity score increases by 2.
  • Age. Scalefolk mature faster than humans, but once mature age far slower and tend to grow their entire lives. Ancient scalefolk can be centuries old and the size of an elephant. 
  • Alignment. Scalefolk rarely have concerns such as good or evil, instead seeing to the needs of the tribe and their people. They are mainly neutral. 
  • Size. Scalefolk are a bit smaller than humans but are effectively medium sized. 
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. You have a base swim speed of 30 ft. 
  • Semi-Aquatic: You can hold your breath for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution before you begin suffocating. 
  • Low-light Vision. 
  • Natural Weapons: You have claws and teeth that can be used as weapons, inflicting 1d6 damage. 
  • When not wearing armor you have an AC of 12+ your Dexterity bonus. 
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Scalespeak. 

Triton


Tritons are aquatic humans who primarily hail from the Triton Empire far to the south. Most tritons spend their entire lives underwater; because of this their culture lacks many signs of civilization possessed by other cultures, such as cooking, writing, etc. They are considered by most a barbaric, tribal society that would be more of a danger to the Kerunan Sea if it was closer and its people did not fight among themselves so much. The tritons divide themselves up into clans along different bloodlines, each clan favor different parts of the Empire; for example Clan Walrus is only found in the coldest extremes of the Empire.

The Triton Empire is not in fact ruled by tritons, but aboleths who have bent the warlords of the largest tribes to their will. The aboleths lord over their minions and use them like fodder in wars of aggression against aquatic and surface foes; the Triton Empire has destroyed shaguin and merfolk nations in its day. Those tritons in the Kerunan Sea are usually refugees looking for a better life than that found under their tentacled overlords.
  • Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
  • Age. Tritons age at the same rate as humans. 
  • Alignment. Tritons tend to be neutral. 
  • Size. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. Your base swim speed is 20. 
  • Darkvision. As you live much of your life in the depths of the ocean, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray. 
  • Aquatic: You can breathe water and never suffocate under water 
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and the Sea Tongue. 
  • Triton Subraces
    • Clan Walrus
      • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1. 
      • Arctic Adaptation: You are resistant to cold. 
      • Defensive Blubber: You gain one additional hit point per level. 
    • Clan Manta
      • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 1. 
      • Sea Glide: Your swim speed increases to 30. 
      • Oceanic Camouflage: You gain advantage when trying to conceal yourself using Stealth in oceanic environments. 
    • Clan Shark
      • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by an additional 1. 
      • Weapon Training: You are proficient with trident, net, pike, and shields. 
      • Bloodfrenzy: When you reduce an opponent to 0 hit points with a melee attack you may immediately make a melee attack against a different opponent as a reaction. 
    • Clan Dolphin
      • Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1. 
      • Oceanic Guide: You are proficient in Animal Handling and Insight. 
    • Boatfolk
      • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity Increases by 1. 
      • Sailor’s Ways: You are proficient with Vehicles (Water) and navigator’s tools. 

Tribes of Kerunan

The children of Keruna are the dominant race in the Kerunan Sea. In other areas they would be called humans, but here they are known as the first children of Keruna. Many other races also have some mythological tie to the goddess, but the Children have the strongest.
  • Ability Score Increase. Increase your Wisdom by 2 and your Intelligence by 1. 
  • Age. The tribes of Kerunan are human, so they age like humans. 
  • Alignment. Most of the tribespeople of Kerunan believe that the laws laid down by the gods and their leaders are good, but should be ignored when needed. They are generally Neutral Good. 
  • Size. As humans, the Tribes of Keruna are Medium sized. 
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. 
  • Spirit Armor: You are proficient in Light and Medium Spirit Armor. 
  • Tribal Upbringing: You are proficient in Survival and Athletics. 
  • Keruna’s Blessing: Within the Sea of Keruna, you may add your Wisdom bonus to any hit dice you spend to heal.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Catamaran - Setup

I ran my session 0.1 last week for Catamaran, creating a Smallville-esque relationship map to detail out the island the players are on. While I am still typing up parts of that, other parts of the campaign prep are good for sharing and hopefully someone will find them intersting.

Campaign Overview

Catamaran is a campaign set in an immense cluster of islands scattered across a vast ocean, reaching from the tropics in the northern section of the cluster to more temperate and even arctic regions in the far south. The players are inhabitants of one of these islands, all members of a tribe that calls that island home. The players will build the island through a relationship map based system where each player gets to add people, places, threats, etc, to the island and establish links between them. The players will be faced with threats to their people and their island, over time travelling among the island cluster, finding allies, lore, and other aids to deal with the threats at hand.
Themes

Exploration - There’s always another island just over the horizon with its own mysteries and treasures.

Glory - What does it mean to be a hero? What deeds can earn you glory?

Community - The man who stands alone has no one to watch when he sleeps.

Inspirations

Moana
The Deadlands

The Whale RiderThe Telling of the Birth of the World

When the traitorous children of Keruna Who Birthed the Sun Each Day slew their mother in the War Before, her corpse fell to the world in the great ocean now known as the Kerunan Sea. It was here that Keruna Who Birth the Sun Each Day shattered, her divine power unable to be contained in a damaged vessel. Three hundred and thirty-three fragments were created. These each fragments formed an island in the Kerunan Sea, all but one. That one the largest, the fragment that had been the heart of Keruna, became the first tribe of humans.

Each island formed from Keruna was born with a god that called it home, each god holding some small portion of Keruna’s power. These came in myriad forms; Haruk the Judge is a massive volcano, Brother Storm is a permanent thunderstorm cloaking his island, while Mergal Who Swallows All is a vast field of every growing fungi. These gods are never easily mobile beings and none of them can leave their island without also shedding their divine nature; instead each god can name a single mortal agent, a single cleric, to see to that god’s needs. These clerics are granted the powers of their god and are seen by their people as emissaries of the divine, though other islands often view them with varying degrees of respect based on the relationship between the patron gods of the two islands. Though some gods have grown bored and given up their divine nature in to become demigods exchange for adventure, most remain on their islands contemplating their place in the universe and working with their servants to fulfill it. Those islands left vacant by a god become home to druids who harvest the remaining divine power in the island to their own ends.

It is among the islands of the Keruna Sea, the Bones of the Sun as they are called by some, that your people trade, war, and make peace. There are stories of other realms, realms where the god who slew great Keruna hold sway over humanity, where weapons are forged in the bones of the earth and not wood and obsidian. These are tales of terror and woe, of despots and tyranny, used to frighten children and caution against fighting for conquest, but some are starting to think they are more than stories. The Isle of Bones

The Isle of Bones is well known among the Children of Keruna as it is where you take the dead to be interred so they may reach the afterlife in the Seas of the Dead, that realm left by Keruna for her followers to inhabit after her passing. The Isle of Bones is the domain of the Bone Witch, a god of death who makes sure the living and the dead receive their proper rewards. The remains of those of virtue are thrown into the volcano the Fire of Keruna so they can receive her blessing, while criminals and other ne’er-do-wells are taken to the Skullyard where their remains are used to serve the people they once wronged as undead. Corpses come from across the sea to be buried here and include offers in of food, wealth, etc, to ensure the corpses are properly treated by the Tribe of Bone. Also those who have not led virtuous lives can come to the island and serve in order to try and work off their sins, creating a population that is a mixture of families who have long been on the island and penitent criminals hoping to find their way into Keruna’s fiery embrace.

It is well known that the people of the Isle of Bones do the bidding of the Bone Witch, and so are welcomed politely but with fear when they leave their island. There have been times when the Bone Witch decreed the deaths of those outside the island, usually for inscrutable reasons, thus visits from the people of the Isle of Bone are always cause for alarm.

A split has developed on the Isle of Bone regarding the disposition of bodies. The Bone Witch is at best a misty presence that whispers to her cleric or when she sits in judgement, but she cannot personally judge all the corpses that come to the island. Thus overtime the leadership of the island, under the direction of the Baron/Baroness of the Bone Hall, has taken up the slack in helping decide who has earned a trip to the volcano and who is condemned to the Skullyard. Over time complaints of bribery and corruption have begun to circulate as known criminals whose bodies came with great offerings of wealth have been sent to the volcano despite their crimes. Thus far nothing too obvious or far over the line has happened, but it has created a rift between the inhabitants of the settlement who want to see the people of the island prosper and those who want to see the will of the Bone Witch be done. 

Races of Keruna

The following races are commonly found among the islands of Keruna. While others do crop up from time to time, usually from beyond the seas, they are very rare. The important thing to remember is most of these races live intermixed; only scalefolk, tritons, and goliaths really live apart from the other races. Thus most races do not have their own culture, territory, etc, and instead have been absorbed by the Tribes of Keruna.
  • Aasimar - Born of divine power, aasimar have been known form in areas where Keruna’s power is particularly strong. They are seen as a good luck charm by most tribes and readily adopted. 
  • Demigod - A god who has left their island, and most of their power, to find adventure elsewhere in the world. 
  • Dragonborn - The dragons were creatures beyond Keruna who came to settle in the islands ages ago and have created dragonborn to serve as servants. While rare, occasionally dragonborn eggs are found and raised by tribes. 
  • Genasi - Born of the elements, these beings are spontaneously created when the elemental powers of an island grow too great. 
  • Goliath - The mountain people, they live among the taller peaks found on the larger mountains of the Kerunan Sea. They are said to be outcasts from the Godless Lands from beyond the Kerunan Sea and shunned by most Children of Keruna. 
  • Scalefolk - A race of lizardmen who often raid the tribes of the Kerunan Sea. Not all are hostile, but most are. They are said to be born from the remains of a god that was slain in the battle that killed Keruna, that nameless god’s body falling among the remains of Keruna and forming the Vermid Islands, home of the scalefolk. 
  • Tiefling - Born with the blood of the infernal in their veins, tieflings are mainly found near the Hellspont, a region of the Kerunan Sea known for having a weakened border with the Hell Realms. 
  • Tribes of Keruna - The inhabitants of the islands of Keruna, they are found just about everywhere. Human stats.
  • Triton - A race of aquatic humanoids, they live in pockets throughout the Kerunan Sea. Broken up into clans, most of the local tritons are refugees or colonists from the distant Tritus Empire. They are not native to the Kerunan Sea, but have been using it as a refuge from the Empire for decades.

Classes

All classes in the 5E Players Handbook, plus the mystic playtest and the rune mage playtest, are available.

Barbarian
Barbarians are often either members of more primitive tribes where their rage is seen as the tribe’s martial strength, or loners in more civilized tribes who may be shunned for their anger until danger comes around. Barbarians sometimes gather in totemic or warrior lodges, teaching and sharing in their secrets. Some such lodges are tied to the god of the island.


Bard
Bards are the diplomats, historians, and storytellers of the Kerunan Sea. Many tribes rely on oral tradition for their stories, and those that do have written word usually do not have in depth language.
While there may be many who sing or tell stories, only true bards are worthy of the title. These individuals have been given the language of Keruna, the Godspeak, letting them work magic through song and fill the spirits of others with power. This gift can only be passed from one bard to another, and all bards have a code among themselves they follow because they call carry the Word of Keruna:
  • Do not attack a fellow bard until words have been had 
  • Do not steal from a fellow bard without asking first 
Cleric
For each island there can be one god. For each god there is one cleric whose domain is determined by their god. So if a player chooses to play a cleric, at least one island controlled by the tribe has a god living on it. If there are multiple cleric PCs, then the tribe must control multiple islands in some fashion (same with druids). Despite being unable to leave their island physically, gods can communicate with each other and have rivalries and relationships with other gods. Clerics of these gods are expected to carry out these rivalries and alliances for their god.

Druid
For those islands where there is no god, there can be a druid. You cannot have a druid and a cleric drawing power and living on the same island. If there is a druid and a cleric in the party the tribe controls some secondary island. Druids are usually friendly outsiders, living outside the tribe but allied with it.
The druid of an island will normally pass on his title to a student when he or she gets too old to see their duties (assuming they still age, as high level druids have abilities that affect that). If a druid is slain without an heir the power of the druid may be claimed by anyone who befriends the spirits of the island.

Fighter

Fighters are normally found in warrior lodges among the tribes of the Kerunan Sea, each dedicated to a specific fighting style it uses to defend its tribe.

Monk
Nothing special yet.

Mystic
Nothing special yet.


Paladin
There are only six paladins in the world, all inheriting their abilities from a previous paladin, all of whom get their power from the Knights of the Sun that once served Keruna. They retain a pure fragment of her power. If a paladin dies without an initiated apprentice, that fragment of Keruna’s power is lost. There used to be hundreds of paladins, but they have died out over time. 

Paladins are often allied or train with the warrior lodge of their tribe.

Ranger
Rangers use the new ranger version from Unearth Arcana. Rangers harvest power like druids, but generally harvest so little they can do so despite the presence of a god on their current island.

Rogue
Rogues are sneaky fuckers.

Sorcerer

Sorcerers are those who have magical abilities due to the blood in their veins, their ancestors having some non-human blood in their veins. Many say wild magic sorcerers are descended from the gods that rose up against Keruna.

Warlock
Warlocks are widely feared within the Kuernan Sea as they make deals with forces outside the world to get power that is not meant for them. Only those few warlocks called to serve the Parliament of Ages are not at least somewhat ostracized.

Wizard
When Keruna was slain twenty five stars fell to earth with her and bound with members of the first tribe of humans. These became the first wizards. There can only every be twenty five wizards, and as they grow more powerful they become less and less human/mortal, slowly turning into beings of star stuff. When a wizard is slain, the closest suitable host becomes gains the capacity to wield a wizard's arcane power.

Mechanics to follow in later posts.




Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Freehold - Catamaran


Recently at my new job I met a fellow who was running his first table top game ever using 5E D&D, having only recently gotten into table top gaming. He has been kind enough to let me spew ideas and chaotic recollections of thirty years of table top experience at him, a process I find deeply enjoyable and he seems to get something out of so I will keep vomiting. In our conversations I brought up some of the ideas I had been working with in freehold, and my other ideas about running something like a South Pacific D&D game. He was super into that idea, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve had a lot of writer’s block lately, so hopefully gushing on this for an evening will help shake other things loose.

The campaign I’ve been thinking of, which so far is codenamed Catamaran for reasons that will become obvious later, would see the players as inhabitants of a small, tropical island with a single village who have to look beyond their island to save their people and village. To that end they must travel to other islands their people have actually visited, others that they know only in the stories of the elders, and still others known only in legend. In the process they meet gods, sea monsters, empires, and more, becoming entwined in an ever growing world connected by boats and wind. Thematically think Swashbuckling Battlestar Galactica of the South Pacific.

I want the game to feel and look (at least mentally) as appropriate to the setting inspiration as possible. No metal armor or weapons, focus on boats and water, etc. To that end I’ve been thinking about some changes to make to the existing 5E mechanics to get the feel I want. This in addition to most of the Freehold stuff I’ve already posted. So it will be a campaign about building up your village of limited resources, getting trade goods for treasure, retiring due to serious injuries, etc.

The core idea behind these changes is making the world of the PCs the default, and the world beyond them use different rules. The players are armed with wood, stone, bone, and obsidian weapons, so those are the standard 5E weapons and metal weapons are “better” than those. I don’t want the player running around in a lot of armor as it goes against the aesthetic, so there are some tweaks to the armor system to encourage that while making normal physical armor more cumbersome.

These are the changes I’ve thought of so far:

Armor

Armor comes in two forms in Catamaran: normal physical armor, and spirit armor (working title).  When a player gets proficiency in armor they can choose if they have the appropriate physical armor proficiency (light, medium, heavy), or the appropriate spirit armor proficiency (again light medium heavy).


Physical Armor:

Physical armor is the armor that currently exists in 5E. In setting anything other than light physical armor is super rare due to the lack of metal. I may add a wood based suit of medium armor, and there is hide armor as well, but they are all uncommon. Players will only start out with access to non-metal armor. Metal armor is supposed to be scary and alien, something only strangers from distant lands use, but still temping to players. There are four differences from the core 5E rules:
  • While wearing medium or heavy physical armor you suffer disadvantage on all Athletics checks to swim. Players are going to be on boats A LOT, so this will matter. 
  • If you wear heavy or medium physical armor before taking a long rest, you suffer disadvantage on your Survival check to rest assuming the weather was typical of what you get in the tropics. See Freehold documents previously posted.
  • If you are wearing heavy armor and suffer exhaustion, you suffer one extra level of exhaustion. 
  • Medium armor gains DR 3/magic weapons and heavy armor gains DR 6/magic weapons. Feats that grant similar bonuses increase these numbers.

Spirit Armor

The culture of the players has developed a ritual based magic using tattoos, fetishes, totems, and other objects that can grant their warriors protection by wrapping the spirits of their ancestors around the warriors. After the tattoos are inscribed, the warrior must perform a ritual to “don” the spirit armor, so effectively the warriors must do something like the maori haka to turn on his spirit armor. This spirit armor works exactly like the existing armor types in D&D; it provides AC, can inflict disadvantage on Stealth, etc. The cost of the ingredients to get the tattoos, the fetishes, totems, etc, are exactly the same as normal armor in D&D. The names will be something like Spirit Armor of the Honored General instead of plate mail, but numbers wise it all works the same. Armor that has disadvantage on Stealth has noisy spirits in it who wail or chant, while spirit armor that slows you down makes you do awesome slow-motion walk with thundering footfalls everywhere you go.

Players would probably use spirit armor and fight other people using spirit armor for most of the campaign, occasionally running into people in physical armor who have not learned the same rituals or are willing to put up with the disadvantages of physical armor. Long term the campaign would eventually come into contact with more metal rich and metallurgically advanced civilizations that can equip all their foot soldiers with metal armor, changing the balance of power significantly. But for most of the game, a guy in plate mail would be completely unknown, or if one does show up you try and knock him into the water since drowning him is probably easier than beating him up. Note that since I plan on using the Glory system, players will likely have access to magic weapons as needed to penetrate physical armor DR.

Weapons

Player weapons will generally be made of bone, wood, obsidian, and stone. Again metal will not be a thing for most the game. To that end my plan is to have the comparatively primitive weapons of the players be the baseline; a longsword made of wood edged with obsidian has the same stats as a normal longsword, while a great axe made of whale bone with a giant obsidian head has the same stats as a normal great axe (though is obviously way more METAL). Metal weapons on the other hand are always at least masterwork, and more often are effectively magical. A bronze weapon may count as masterwork, while an iron weapon may be a +1 weapon, a steel weapon +2, etc. This means players may upgrade over time to metal weapons, except those weapons cannot benefit from Glory bonuses and other magics of the players’ home culture. Also it is assumed that player weapons float, which may become important more often than you think since they will be on boats a lot. Between the armor rules and these weapon rules, something like a Roman Legionnaire becomes a magic weapon wielding, damage resistant tank you should be scared of…but also someone who can’t really last in the heat of the campaign setting, can’t swim in armor, etc.

In addition to all this, I want to add flintlock firearms. These are likely going to be the remains of precursor civilizations that previously inhabited the islands the players call home, but I think it will add some interesting juxtaposition to the game. Also I want firearms to ignore all AC benefit of physical armor; medium and heavy armor would still get their DR, but it’s really easy to shoot someone in plate mail. Hurting the target is another matter. 

Other Mechanics

Currently I plan to use all the existing 5E classes, though they are going to have to fit in some specific roles (for example only the Fire Mountain, God of Justice and Mercy, has paladins while Warlocks are getting a new set of patrons. Yes, the volcano god is a lawful good god of justice). I’ll post them as I come up with them. As for races I plan on using the 5E core where they fit, plus adding aquatic versions of a few races. Backgrounds are getting largely burned down and rebuilt from the ground up.

I’ve also got some ideas for feats for specific fighting styles, like an escrima stick based fighting style.