Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Catamaran: Ally Mechanics

Yeah, I'm posting a lot of Catamaran stuff this week because we're starting up again after a few weeks off due to family events and hurricanes. All that time has given me a chance to catch up with some of the rules I've been meaning to write to cover things that have come up in game.

One of these is a better way handle NPC allies in combat as the group of 6-8 PCs has accumulated twenty some odd NPC followers (3 from the Paladin's Noble background, one Paladin in training, one Monk in training, one old shipwright, and twenty one Vikings on the wrong side of the planet that were brought here as prisoner soldiers by one of the bad guy groups in the setting and freed by the players). There have been several situations, particularly on the party's ship where rolling for this mass of humanity was just overwhelming, so it kind of got forgotten. But I don't want them to be forgotten; the players have put a lot of effort and resources into recruiting some of these NPCs and I want it to pay off. They build a bigger boat largely to cart these guys around! While on the ship tasks like manning ballistas and such does alleviate some need for the NPCs to do something, it was not enough, so I came up with the following system after reading Harbringer of Doom's post about a similar idea a few months back.

In order to speed up combat, non-essential NPC allies will not function independently of the PCs, but instead "attach" to the players, granting buffs to PC actions rather than taking their own actions. This does not change the space the PC occupies (but we play loose with our maps and don't use a strict grid so this works for us).

Attaching requires the PC that the NPC is attaching to do spend a bonus action, but a single bonus action can attach multiple NPCs of the same group (so you must spend a bonus action to attach Hakon to you, but you can spend one bonus action to get three of the unnamed Vortlanders with you). You can only have a number of NPCs attached to you equal to your proficiency bonus plus your Charisma bonus.

I tried to have most of the NPCs have some sort of disadvantage, such as reducing movement or disadvantage on a skill, as long as they are attached to make the choice of attaching more interesting. The Vortlanders don't have this because attaching them means risking real damage to the effectiveness of the ship if they are rendered inactive (see below).

The NPCs with the group grant the following bonuses:
  • Siewal (Kel’s Squire): Gain 10 temp hit points, recovering from disarm or changing weapons is a free action, attacks of opportunity against you have disadvantage, disadvantage on your Stealth checks
  • Taben (Kel’s valet): Gain 3 temp hit points, Advantage on Healing and Persuasion checks, advantage on saves against charm effects, disadvantage on your Intimidation checks
  • Oska (Kel’s advisor): Gain 3 temp hit points, Advantage on History and Arcana checks, can spend a bonus action to double spell range, once per battle as a bonus action you can hand off a concentration spell to Oska so she can maintain it without the player character needing to, reduce your movement by 10 ft (she’s old)
  • Helsar (Paladin in Training): Gain 5 temp hit points, once per battle can heal 5 hit points or 1 disease/poison as a bonus action, advantage on Nature checks
  • Geph the Scalefolk (Monk in Training): Gain 10 temp hit points, Advantage on Athletics checks, when hit with a weapon attack use a reaction to reduce damage by 1d8
  • Hakon (Viking Healer): Gain 10 temp hit points, Advantage on Religion and Medicine skill checks, treat 1s and 2s as 3s on any healing dice used on you, advantage on saves against frighten effects
  • Steinar (Viking Warleader): Gain 10 temp hit points, advantage on Perception checks, you can make a melee attack as a reaction to being hit in melee, advantage on saves against frighten effects
  • Vortlander (Vikings): Gain 5 temp hit points, advantage on saves against frighten effects
If the temp hit points granted by an NPC are used up in a fight, the NPC cannot attach again (including to the ship) until the group has taken a long rest. I'm considering a system where NPCs that lose all their hit points have to make some sort of death save or die, but that seems to harsh.  Another option is requiring a death save if the player they are attached to makes a death save, and if the NPC fails it they die.

Alternately they can attach to the ship and are assumed to be attached to the ship if they are not attached to a player.
  • Between the Vortlanders and Geph there are 23 skilled sailor NPCs. If enough NPCs are attached to PCs that eight or fewer are left to crew the boat, the boat is undermanned and suffers disadvantage on all checks, plus -5 ft speed penalty per crewmember missing. 
  • Every three NPCs over the nine minimum to crew the ship will allow one ballista to fire every other round. Thus 18 NPCs are needed to crew the ship to full effectiveness and keep all three ballistas manned. 
  • Every NPC above the 18 minimum adds +1 to proficiency (water vehicles) checks for the ship or +1 to ballista attacks (which are currently at +4 to hit and do 6d6 damage).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Catamaran Special Materials and Magic Item Creation System


In Catamaran the players don't get magic items that grant bonuses; they get those through the Glory system.  They have gotten weapons made of special materials though, that have the following advantages:
  • Adamantium
    • Weapons: Treat damage rolls of 1 or 2 as 3.  
    • Helmet: Ignore two crit hits per long rest
    • Armor: As per DMG
  • Mithral
    • Weapons: Treat damage rolls of 1 as 2
    • Helmet: Ignore one crit hit per long rest
    • Armor: As per DMG
    • Shield: As a reaction can grant advantage on a save vs. spell once per long rest
  • Ironwood: Wood as hard, if not harder, than iron.
    • Weapons: Treat damage rolls of 1 as 2
    • Shield: Plant creatures have disadvantage attacking the wielder
    • Ship: Increases ship AC without increasing weight, taking up cargo space, etc
  • Burnwood: Wood that burns with normal intensity but a fist sized piece will burn for longer than a human lifespan.  
    • Weapons: Bonus action to light on fire, add Dex bonus in fire damage to melee attacks.  
  • Liftwood: Flying wood that naturally levitates up to its own weight at 5 feet per round.  
    • Ship: When built into the hull of a ship it increases the speed of the ship by reducing drag and how deep the ship sits in the water.  
  • Skysteel: Found in meteors.  Highly magnetic.  
    • Weapon: +1d6 damage against constructs
    • Shield: Constructs have disadvantage attacking the wielder
  • Eog: Special enchanted glass that is harder than steel and spirits cannot penetrate.
    • Weapon: +1d6 vs noncorporeal creatures
    • Shield: Noncorporeal creatures have disadvantage attacking the wielder
  • Orachalum: A special gold/mithral alloy with magical uses.
    • Weapon: Ignore spell based defenses, like stoneskin or shield.  
    • Armor: Gain advantage on spell saving throws.  
    • Shield: As a reaction gain advantage on a spell saving throw
  • Moonkelp Treated Whalebone:
    • Weapon: +1d6 damage against any creature not in its true form (lycanthropes, wild shape druids, etc).  
Plus I told the players they were useful in making magic items.  So they asked about making magic items.  

Magic Item Creation

  • This is a system I'm still in the process of hacking together so it's just a series of bullet points right now, but still any feedback welcome.
  • Magic items are created by spellcasters sacrificing spell slots of at least third level for a period of a month to generate points that are then used to purchase magical traits for items. 
  • To make an item the character must have a specific item they are making and all components needed, along with necessary tools. During the creation process they must have access to the item for at least 2 hours a day. If the character misses a day, they lose all progress for that month. If they miss five days in a row, all progress is lost and they must start over again, though all components and materials remain. 
  • Any spellcaster can sacrifice spell slots to make magic items, but they can only be used to create items that line up with the magical focus of the spellcaster. For example, clerics could make items tied to their domain or more general cleric abilities (like healing), while sorcerers could make items that are more related to their bloodline and its abilities.
    • Wizards and bards get more wide range of magic item options here, but they are still limited by their core spell competencies. For example, wizards cannot make healing items. 
    • If an item allows the use of a specific spell, you must know that spell to create the item. For example, if you want to create a Helm of Telepathy you must know detect thoughts. 
  • If a spellcaster sacrifices a spell slot for a month, they get magical resource points. These points come in three categories: minor, moderate, and major. Enchantments require a specific number of these points. 
    • Spell slot sacrificed:
    • 3rd Level: 1 Minor enchantment point
    • 4th Level: 2 Minor enchantment points
    • 5th Level: 3 Minor enchantment points or 1 moderate enchantment point
    • 6th Level: 2 moderate enchantment points
    • 7th Level: 3 moderate enchantment points or 1 major enchantment point
    • 8th Level: 2 major enchantment points
    • 9th Level: 3 major enchantment points
  • Non spellcasters that have Expertise in a crafting tool can get enchantment points if they make an item from a special material and sacrifice hit dice instead of spell slots. So a smith can make a magic weapon without using magic by sacrificing his own lifeforce and using a special material like mithral.  
    • Sacrifice 3 hit dice: 1 minor enchantment point
    • Sacrifice 8 hit dice: 1 moderate enchantment point
    • Sacrifice 18 hit dice: 1 major enchantment point
  • Ability score points can also be permanently sacrificed, 1 ability score point for one major enchantment point. Ability scores may not be lowered below 8 in such fashion without GM approval.  
  • If a character who has sacrificed spell slots or hit dice uses those sacrificed resources for any reason, such as being stuck in a life or death situation, all enchantment points for that month are lost. 
  • Multiple characters can sacrifice spell slots and hit dice for a single item as long as they have access to it each day for at least two hours a day. If access is lost, the enchantments points for that month are lost. 
  • When a player decides to make an item, they must detail out the item before it is made to figure out its point cost, and then acquire the requisite enchantment points. You do not generate a pool of points and then spend it. Magic is a thing of ritual and process, not an ad hoc free for all. Magic items are useless until the full number of points necessary are obtained. 
  • Once an item is completed, additional enchantment points must be added, but this requires an additional enchantment point of the largest type being added to be spent “reopening” the magic in the item. So if you are adding an enchantment to an item that requires two minor and one moderate enchantment point, you must spend an additional moderate enchantment point to The item will be unusable until the new enchantments are finished. 
  • The type and number of points that can be put into an item are limited by its material and form:
    • Material:
      • Steel, Bone: Minor enchantment points only
      • Wood, Obsidian, Silver, Gold, Adamantine, Eog, Skysteel: Minor or moderate enchantment points, +5 total enchantment point. Generally cost x10 times the normal cost for the item. 
      • Mithral, Legendary Bones, Ironwood, Burnwood, Magewood: Minor, moderate, or major enchantment points, +10 total enchantment points. Generally cost x100 times the normal cost for the item. 
    • Item
      • Weapon/Shield: 5
      • Ring: 4
      • Armor: 10
      • Staff: 10
      • Wand: 5
      • Rod: 7
      • Casting Implement: 5
      • Helmet/Hat: 5
      • Cloak/Robe: 5
      • Amulet: 4
  • Ritual Components
    • Minor Enchantment Points x10 resource goods
    • Moderate Enchantment points x10 trade goods
    • Major Enchantment Points x10 luxury goods
    • Some magic items may be consumed for additional enchantment points. Generally this the same number of points used to create the item reduced by one category. This means items created using minor enchantment points are not salvageable. 
  • All items created through this system require attunement unless they are single use items. 
  • Item categories:
    • Activate spell:
      • You must know the spell
      • Costs 1 minor for 1-3rd level spells, 1 moderate for 4-5th level spells, and 1 major for 6th level spells. You can’t make items that produce higher level spells.
      • If the item can cast more than one spell you must pay the above cost for each spell. 
      • This is for a once per long rest item. 
      • For an item to be an “at will” item you must spend x10 time the number of enchantment points needed to make the item. 
      • Each additional charge you want the item to have charges, you must spend on additional point of the highest type for each charge. So if you are making a wand that can cast 1st and a 4th level spell, costing a minor and a moderate enchantment point, each additional charge requires a moderate enchantment point. 
  • Specific Point Costs:
    • Resistance Brooches: Gain resistance to one element that just hit you as a reaction until beginning of your next turn. 1 minor enchantment point.
    • Leadership Brooches: Grant Charisma Bonus + Level in temp hit points to all allies as bonus action. 2 moderate enchantment points. 
    • Weightless Shoes: Walk on any surface as if you weighed nothing. 2 minor enchantment points. 
    • All Minor Properties in the DMG: 1 minor enchantment point. 
    • Alchemy Jug: 8 moderate enchantment point
    • Amulet of Health: 6 moderate enchantment points
    • Amulet Against Proof of Detection and Location: 10 minor enchantment points
    • Amulet of the Planes: 3 major enchantment points
    • Animated Shield: 10 moderate enchantment points
    • Armor of Invulnerability: 10 moderate enchantment points and 2 major enchantment points. 
    • Armor of Resistance: 10 minor enchantment points
    • Arrow Catching Shield: 10 minor enchantment points
    • Arrow of Slaying: 1 moderate enchantment point
    • Bag of holding: 5 minor enchantment points
    • Bag of Beans: 4 minor enchantment points
    • Wand of Fireballs: 8 minor enchantment points

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Catamaran: Scroll-Bearer Prestige Class

Through some oddities in my Catamaran campaign the players got their hands on artifact called the All Scroll that contains all knowledge in the world within it's endless length.  It's a hugely powerful artifact, but it's like having access to the internet without a search engine; everything you want to know is in there somewhere, but good luck finding it!  The party rogue, who is using my gadgeteer Scientist subclass to be a gun toting, bomb chunking agent of reason, has decided to take up the artifact despite being warned it may change him.  Not wanting to make it just another piece of equipment, I've written up a prestige class he can take to represent the powers gained from taking on the roll of the Bearer of the All Scroll.  I realize prestige classes in 5E are still a bit of an oddity, and I don't want to get back to the prestige class glut of 5E, but I think this is pretty much the story focused sort of stuff that prestige classes could do really well.  

Artifact Prestige Class: Scroll-Bearer
Artifacts in the Sea of Keruna are not simply powerful magical items that you can bind to and use at your leisure; they are immensely powerful items that change their bearer over time to become the best match to the artifacts power. One does not wield an artifact; one uses it and tries not to be too changed by the price that must be paid. Or if the price is already something the bearer of the artifact is willing to pay, then the partnership may just work out for all involved, but such is rarely the case.

The Scroll of All is such an artifact. Technically there are two Scrolls of All, but one is kept in the Land of the Dead so it may remain organized. Each Scroll of All contains all information in the world somewhere in its infinite length, but finding the right information when you want it is a major undertaking. As the bearer gets more adept at using the Scroll of All they can find information faster and even manipulate the scroll itself.
  • Intelligence: 13
  • Level: 5+
  • Skills: Trained in 4 skills

Infinite Search, Applied Knowledge
Comprehend Text, Ritual of the Scroll
Moving Words, Applied Knowledge, Innate Knowledge
Expand Your Mind, Nondetection
Scroll Walk, Applied Knowledge

Class Features
As an scroll bearer, you gain the following class features.
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per scroll bearer level
Tools: Calligrapher’s tools
Saving Throws: None
Skills: None

Infinite Search
If you can take a short rest to research the subject of a skill check in the scroll, such as looking an historical incident as part of a History check, you have advantage on any skill checks involving the related skill. You may only do this for one skill check per short rest. If you choose to use this ability outside of a rest, it requires one hour to use. This can only be used for finding knowledge, not performing an action relating to a skill. 
Applied Knowledge
At 1st, 3rd, and 5th level you may select one of the following upgrades to your existing abilities:
  • Add one spellcasting level as if you had gained a level as a multiclass spellcaster. 
  • Add one superiority, cunning, bardic inspiration, or other special die to your existing die pool.
  • Train in one skill or tool. 
  • Gain expertise, doubling your proficiency bonus, with one skill or tool you are already proficient in. 
Ritual of the Scroll
At 2nd level, you gain the ability to cast the following spells as if you had the Ritual Casting feat: Clairvoyance, Darkvision, Detect Magic, Detect Evil and Good, Detect Poison and Disease, Detect Thoughts, Identify, Locate Animals or Plants, Locate Object, See Invisibility, Tongues.

At 4th level, you gain the ability to cast the following spells as if you had the Ritual Casting feat: Divination, Find the Path, Legend Lore, Locate Creature, Scrying, True Seeing.

Comprehend Text
Beginning at 2nd level, you can read any language and have advantage on any skill or ability checks to decode written puzzles, riddles, etc. 
Innate Knowledge
At 3rd level, you may cast any of the spells you can cast through Ritual of the Scroll as normal spells. You may do so a total of 1+ your Intelligence bonus times, and this resets each long rest. 
Moving Words
Beginning at 3rd level, you can manipulate the physical form of the scroll, allowing you to scan through it without touching it, levitate it, and even move other items with it. You can effectively cast Mage Hand and Levitate at will, but must use the scroll to do any lifting or manipulation involved. These spells originate from the scroll, so to levitate yourself you must hold onto the scroll, but they may be cast from up to 30 feet away from the scroll. 
Expand Your Mind
At 4th level, the scroll has reordered your brain sufficiently that it operates much more efficiently now. You gain a +2 to your Intelligence. 
Beginning at 4th level, you can modify information around you to make it impossible to track you through magic. You can cast Nondetection a number of times per day equal to your 1+ your Intelligence bonus. While this spell is active, others suffer disadvantage on Perception checks to find you. 
Scroll Walk
Beginning at 5th level, you can set the scroll on the ground, kick it to get it rolling, and cause it to leap up into the sky, creating a path you can move along. This effectively gives you a fly speed equal to your normal movement rate. Activating this power requires a action. It may be ended at any time, though if you end it while not on the ground you will take falling damage. If you are rendered helpless while using this power you do not fall to the ground as the scroll will continue to float under your body.

Design Commentary
It's supposed to represent having access to massive amounts of information, but not always being able to find what you need.  At the same time, I didn't want to completely stymie advancement in your core character class, thus Applied Knowledge.  I worry that Applied Knowledge is too good.  It can grant a three dice within five levels, and it can open up the door for non-rogues to get expertise, but everything else this class does is gather information (or do some weird stuff with your scroll).  Having some more active elements I think is necessary.  

Expand Your Mind is meant to be a replacement for an ability score increase, only you don't get to choose where it goes, thus backing up the fiction that joining with the scroll changes you.  I worry I don't have enough fiction backing that element up, but not sure how to do so and have it be fun.  I may add some more find information type abilities, but have the player have to pay in exhaustion to use them.  

The 4th level upgrade of Ritual of the Scroll may be too good as it lets you theoretically cast some higher level spells at 9th level.  None of them are battle winners, but they are adventure derailers.

Moving Words and Scroll Walk are the result of some weird descriptions of the NPC they met in the land of the dead who had the other scroll.  She used it for transport, as a shield, etc.  The shield part did not make it into this writeup.  

The All-Scroll
The All-Scroll is a massive parchment scroll two feet in length and about a foot thick.   The wood is sandalwood and the parchment is uniform and neat.  The writing in the All-Scroll is always understood by whoever looks at it and includes diagrams, maps, and symbols as needed.  The text is always neat, compact, and legible.  Once you begin unrolling the scroll it can be unrolled infinitely with new text and information appearing on each section as you unroll it.  If you are not bound to it, you must unroll the scroll continually until you find the information you are looking for, a process that may take years if you are successful at all as the scroll contains all knowledge in the world (specifically everything known now or every by a mortal; it does not hold information about scientific principles not yet discovered, the secrets only known by gods, etc).  If you are bound to it, you can move the information around by touching the scroll and even call up that information you need.  Even with this, it is very difficult to use.

The All-Scroll is immune to damage.  It will automatically roll up if it loses contact with its current user.