Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Song of Dirt and Wind: New Benefits

Not really happy with any part of this text, but hopefully throwing it out for the public eye will gets some ideas rolling.

New Benefits

Blood of the Alien                                           Heritage
The blood of the invaders flows in your veins in some way, either through cross-breeding or genetic infection.
Requires Alien Invasion Apocalypse
You can use alien technology that may be genetically locked.  You gain +1B when using or repairing alien technology and when engaged in an intrigue with aliens. 

Blood of the Beasts                                        Heritage
Your ancestors were once the beasts of the world, but in the distant past the hand of science uplifted them to have the minds of men. 
Select one of the following benefits:
·         Mammal: Increase your Health by +2.  Also add +1 damage when attacking unarmed.  +1B for all Animal Handling checks involving mammals. 
·         Reptile:  Increase your Health by +2. Add +1B to Endurance tests to heal.  +1B for all Animal Handling checks involving reptiles. 
·         Avian: +1B to all Awareness tests.  +1B for all Animal Handling checks involving avians. 

Blood of the Dead                                           Heritage
Your ancestors were infected in some fashion with the zombie plague, either as immune carriers or in the last stages of your birth.  Due to this your body has unusual chemistry, making you resistant to the zombie plague and causing most zombies to ignore you.
The Difficulty of any Awareness test made by a zombie to detect you increases by +6.  You gain +1B to any Endurance checks to resist zombie infection.  You gain +2B to Endurance tests to heal if you can consume three supply days worth of food each day or have a ready source of meat.
Note: This benefit may be selected by characters who survived zombie infection after character creation. 

Blood of the Oceans                                       Heritage
The seas are the home of your ancestors, providing them a safer haven in the in the days after the apocalypse.  Either on island hideaways, aboard vast flotillas of ships, or in underwater cities they survived due the genetic modifications the ancients preformed. 
You can breathe water and on Athletics (Swimming) checks may reroll a number of 1s equal to your Swimming rank.  In addition, whenever you are affected by extreme cold, you may add your Swimming specialty rank to your passive Endurance result. 

Blood of the Old World                                                Heritage
Due to being locked in a vault since the apocalypse, coming from a settlement with strict contamination protocols, or some other unusual circumstance you are genetically undamaged, plague free, and a perfect specimen of pre-apocalypse humanity. 
You are not sterile nor carry any infections, plus certain computers and other technologies will recognize you as an intended user.  You may add your Technology rank to any Intrigue tests and your Intrigue Defense for Intrigues involving computers or robots.  Also you add your Endurance rank to any Healing checks made on your behalf and to Endurance checks made to heal.    

Blood of the Otherworlders                       Heritage
The monsters who brought the apocalypse to this world came from another world on the other side of the dimensional curtain, and these monsters have somehow infected your DNA with their essence.  You are either descended from monsters, or have been polluted by their power some time in your life. 
You may add your Knowledge (Occult) specialty to your Composure, but suffer the same as a penalty to all Seduction tests.  You gain +1B to Awareness checks to detect otherworldly influence. 

Blood of the New World                              Heritage
You are a product of the crucible that is Bonelands.  Through a mixture of radiation, starvation, and rough living you are a hardened survivor. 
You gain +1B to Endurance tests resist radiation and disease.  You also gain +2 Health. 

Blood of the Warborn                                   Heritage
In the wars of day’s past soldiers were made in factories of vats and long dead sorcery.  You are what remains of that, built from your DNA upward to kill. 
You are considered to always have 1 point of armor, even when naked.  This armor is not cumulative with any armor that has a Bulk value.  Once per combat you may add +1D to one Fighting or Marksmanship test. 

Man of Action, Man of SCIENCE!              Ability
All of life is science, and you can apply it in all manner of interesting ways.
Requirement: Knowledge 3, Science 3
You are a master of science and can apply your scientific knowledge to a wide variety of problems.  Choose a specialty that is not a Knowledge specialty; you gain a bonus to checks with that specialty equal to your Science level. 

Occult Training                                                 Ability
You have received some level of training in occult matters, such as banishing demons or casting rituals. 
Requirement: Knowledge 2+, Occult 1+
You add your Will rank to your Knowledge (Occult) tests to cast rituals and can add your Knowledge (Occult) specialty rank to any tests to resist occult effects.

Psychic                                                                 Ability
You have some inkling of psychic talent with enough raw ability to turn it into something more. 
You can learn other benefits that allow you to learn specific psychic powers.  You add your Willpower rank to your Awareness tests. 

Ritual Specialization                                      Ability
You have developed an affinity for certain types of rituals, making their casting easier. 
Requirement: Occult Training
Choose one ritual key word.  You can gain a +1D bonus to any casting or learning test involving rituals with that keyword.  This benefit may be selected multiple times for different ritual keywords.  The available keywords are Area, Binding, Conjuration, Death, Destruction, Divination, Energy, Group, Life, Mind, Protection, Range, Time.
Alternate Rule: For games with a more Lovecraftian bent, each time a character takes this benefit their Composure permanently decreases by one, representing the mental anguish suffered in learning magic. 

Scavenger                                                           Ability
You have an ability to find valuable goods in the most unlikely of circumstances. 
Requirement: Awareness 3
You are a master of finding the necessities of survival in just about any environment.  Each day you can make a Routine to Formidable Awareness test, difficulty dependent on the surrounding environment.  If successful you find 1 supply day worth of tradable goods or food per level of success. 

Science Focus                                                    Ability
You are an expert in a particular field of scientific study.
Requires Science 4.
Select one field of scientific study.  When testing Knowledge in the chosen field, convert your bonus dice in Science to test dice. 
You may select this quality multiple times.  Each time select a new scientific field. 
Extranormal Elements
A Song of Dirt and Wind has the capacity to include several extranormal elements, or powers that are not something that is possible in reality as we know it.  These

Rituals are mystic procedures that when preformed by one trained in the occult arts can produce amazing results.  Those without training in the occult arts can attempt these rituals, but doing so is a difficult, dangerous, and foolhardy choice.  Rarely are such decisions made twice. 

Characters who wish to perform rituals should think about purchasing the Occult Training benefit and the Ritual Specialization benefits.  Each ritual has a number of keywords in its writeup; for each of these keywords that a character has through the Ritual Specialization benefit he gains a +1D when casting that ritual.  This bonus stacks for having Ritual Specialization for multiple keywords in the same ritual. 

Rituals are found through gameplay, such as discovering ancient texts or otherworldly scrolls, and must be learnt individually.  Learning a ritual requires a Knowledge (Occult) test against the learning difficulty of the ritual.  Learning a ritual generally takes ten minutes, but due to the difficulty most ritualists spend more time than the minimum.  New characters with the Occult Training benefit can select one ritual per level of Knowledge (Occult) they have, but any rituals selected must share one keyword with the keywords the character has gained through Ritual Specialization. 

Casting a ritual requires a Knowledge (Occult) test against the difficulty of the ritual.  Generally these target numbers are very high, so characters must spend extra time to get bonuses to their tests to be successful (see the table below).  The caster cannot gain more test dice from taking more time than he has ranks in the Knowledge (Occult) specialty.  Thus rituals are something that must be prepared and planned for rather than something used on the fly.  Also some rituals may require special components, intonations, movements, etc that make them impossible in some circumstances. 

Time Spent Casting a Ritual
1 round
10 rounds
10 minutes
1 hour
10 hours
4 days

Rituals can be cast ahead of time and left unfinished save for one syllable or gesture, called hanging a spell.  To hang a spell the player must cast the ritual as normal, but it does not activate.  Instead the player may choose to activate it at a later time as a lesser action.  While a player has a spell hung the player suffers 1 point of Composure damage that will not return until the hung ritual is discharged.  A hung ritual can be harmlessly discharged with no effect at any time as a free action.

Example Rituals
Circle of Binding
Keywords: Binding, Area
Learning Difficulty: 30
Casting Difficulty: 30
The caster creates a circle up to 10 feet across and at the close of the ritual names a specific creature or type of creature.  Any creature fitting that description that enters the circle cannot leave the circle or target anything outside the circle without passing a Formidable (12) Will (Dedication) check.  By increasing the difficulty of casting the spell by +5 the caster can increase the size of the circle by 10 feet or the difficulty of crossing the circle by +3.  The spell lasts until something breaks the line drawn during the casting of the ritual.  Usually such lines are drawn in sand or dust, meaning a good wind, rain, or someone outside the circle swiping with their foot can break the ritual.  More permanent rituals use metal circles.  


  1. Just FYI, I've been looking at retooled SIFRP game settings, my group plays predominantly D&D 3.5e, but the group has undergone some metamorphosis in players and I realize that it's different now... anyway, we're partway through a SIFRP thing that, of all ideas, I got coerced into learning so that I could run a Play By Post game, which is now dying off - but the tabletop game that I subsequently started is running with flying colors - the players love the system.

    Anyway. I found this blog and just printed your posts on Dirt and Wind for perusal tomorrow at work, while I should be working. It seems to be the most interesting I've seen so far, the second runner being a Kingdom of Jerusalem, pre-Third? Crusade pseudo-history, which was an intriguing notion as well.

    If you'd like, I'll keep watching for updates from you, and give you feedback as I construct my own variation of this... and I'd love to use what you have as a basis, if I like it and that's OK!

  2. All feedback very welcome! It will encourage me to get more of my notes up. The Kingdom of Jerusalem option sounds really interesting. Where did you find that?

    Also if you haven't seen Green Ronin is putting out a setting agnostic version of the rules (called the Chronicle system) over the course of the next year. Their forums are a good place for finding more mechanics options for the game.