Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Divine Intervention, Part II

In a previous post I talked about a new magic system for clerics. Here's the next big chunk, the face cards. In this system, Face cards always have a "cost" of 10 to play. They may be played in one of two forms.


A face card may summon a creature to aid the caster. The creature persists for one phase of combat or until it is slain, whichever comes first. Each class of card will basically have a set stat block to reference and allow a stock critter to be thrown down easily.
  • JACK: Cardinal "Striker"
  • KING: Fixed "Tank"
  • QUEEN: Mutable "Special Team"
The suit of the card is also relevant. In any event, the creature has the associated Element attached to it. For example, a Club summons some sort of Fire creature. Any other effect that plays off of fire will affect the creature accordingly. Next, there is a default creature type (although the GM/player should feel free to change this to a pantheon specific critter). Finally, when the creature is voluntarily dispelled by the caster prior to the spell's normal expiration, there is an aftereffect which occurs immediately; it is equal to an Effect 1 card of the same suit. For example, if a Fire Salamander (Club) summon is dispelled, then a Smite dealing 1 damage immediately goes off.
  • HEARTS: Water. Nymph.
  • DIAMONDS: Earth. Gnome.
  • SPADES: Air. Sylph.
  • CLUBS: Fire. Salamander.


Face cards may also be used to invoke potent aspects. These generally effect the caster themselves and have an aftereffect which lasts until the end of the phase.

  • JACKS (Version A): When played, treat the jack as a normal number card with an effect of "4." Aftereffect: The caster is considered to have an ace of the same suit in their hand until the end of the phase.
  • JACKS (Version B): Any creatures targeted by the caster within an area of effect are subjected to the magic, which is identical to a potency 1 version of the same suit (for example, the Jack of Clubs creates an AOE equal to the caster's Fire score). The area of effect is equal to the caster's relevant elemental attribute. Aftereffect: The caster is considered to have an ace of the same suit in their hand until the end of the phase.
  • KINGS: Kings generate a powerful aura surrounding the caster. The aura's size is equal in hexes to the relevant elemental attribute (for example, the King of Clubs creates an aura equal to the caster's Fire score). The caster may choose to allow the spell to effect any creatures he or she wishes within the aura.
    - Hearts (Water): +1D to all saving throws to avoid taking damage
    - Clubs (Fire): +1D to all attack rolls
    - Diamonds (Earth): +1 to Dodge Score
    - Spades (Air): Move the creature one square.
  • QUEENS: Queens unleash powerful transformative forces within the caster and represent potent self-buffs. First, the result of the "cost" roll changes the caster's relevant Elemental Attribute to the result if it is higher as well as all derived attributes. For example, casting the Queen of Diamonds might allow a caster to perform a superhuman feat of strength as their ENC load limit increases with a higher EARTH score. Next, the caster gains the following benefit:
    - Hearts (Water): Regenerate 1 wound every round
    - Clubs (Fire): +1 Damage
    - Diamonds (Earth): +1 Soak
    - Spades (Air): +1 Speed and +1 to Dodge Score vs. OAs; +1D to any evasive moves


I think we have a relatively compact system that covers all your basic combat magic. There are two broad classes of magic: Red/Defensive and Black/Offensive (named for the suits). Those subdivide down into the suits: Healing (Hearts), Warding (Diamonds), Smiting (Clubs), and Command/Movement (Spades). Within each suit, there are five types of spells: A standard, common numerical version, a summoning spell (with three variants), a self-buff, a nova/AOE, and a group buff.

The standard, common numerical version should be most common as it has the lowest cost. The other spells are potent but will likely allow the GM to retaliate later.

I think this meets the Rule of 7. The broad outlines can be remembered without reference to a table. I expect a table to be needed for face cards and summons but even those are pretty straightforward (especially the jacks). With some tweaking I may be able to make the others more standard as well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Divine Intervention

I recently finished some thinking about an adaptation of a cleric type unique mechanic, just like my recent discussion of rogues.

  • Draw Seven Cards. At the start of each encounter, the cleric draws seven cards from a standard deck. The cards represent divine boons or favors which have been bestowed by their patron.
  • Invoke Boon Once Per Round Using Tactical Points. Once per round, the cleric may invoke a divine boon by expending a tactical point and playing a card. Divine boons always work (barring extraordinary circumstances) and do not require any check. If the effect is greater than one, it may be split among as many recipients as the cleric desires. For example a "Smite 3" can deal 3 points of damage to one target or 1 point of damage to three targets, or 2 to one and the third to a second.
  • Determine Effects. Apply any effects of the boon. See below.
  • Determine Cost. The TN for this check is equal to the number on the card (Ace = 1, Deuce = 2, etc). Face cards cost 10. Make a check to determine if the Invocation is free (without consequence) or if it invokes a cost. Roll Element + Ruling Planet + Archetypal Planet (See Below) using a standard dice pool against the TN. Success means the spell was free. Failure means that the DM gets to a token. Tokens may be traded in at a later time for benefits that help the opposition (more on this later).
Archetypal Correspondences: Add the following dice to a pool to determine the cost of an Invocation. Use both the Ruling Planet and the Exalted Archetype. Remember to also add a Character's primary element.
  • Saturn: Diamonds +1D, Spades +1D
  • Jupiter: Hearts +1D, Clubs +1D
  • Sun: Clubs +2D
  • Mars: Hearts +1D, Clubs +1D
  • Venus: Diamonds +1D, Spades +1D
  • Mercury: Diamonds +1D, Spades +1D
  • Moon: Hearts +2D
How to Read a Card:
  • Effect: For any number card, count the number of columns of symbols. For example, aces, deuces, and threes have the symbols arranged in one column. Fours have the symbols arranged in two columns. The only exception are fives; even though fives have three columns on the card, they are only worth "two" for effect.
  • Cost: The TN for the cost check is denoted by the actual number on the card.
  • Face Cards: Face cards are unique and special. They always have a cost of 10.
Invocations and Suits: Each suit represents a type of invocation. The red suits are generally boonful and are often best cast on allies. The black suits are often baneful and usually best to cast on enemies, although Command may be useful on allies at times.
  • Diamonds: Shield! Add Effect to Dodge for the duration of the phase.
  • Hearts: Heal! Instantly heal Effect wounds.
  • Clubs: Smite! Deal Effect wounds to targets. This blue bolt from the heavens strikes its target unerringly.
  • Spades: Command! This invocation has two variations. In the first form, slide the target(s) Effect hexes. In the second form, give effect targets a command (Fight, Freeze, or Flee). The targets must follow this command until they pass a Spirit Saving Throw (Spirit + Fixed, TN based on your relative level); they get a save at the end of each of their turns. In any event the command lapses at the end of the phase.
More on face cards next time...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gamblin' Man

I just got back from another trip to Vegas. While sitting at the Blackjack table I had an idea about how to work this into a game a bit more elegantly than I've proposed before.

Right now, assume that every character has some sort of "tactics points." The default use of a tactics point is to get a bonus on a check. Classes may also have a specific bonus that they can get if they spend a tactics point; for example a wizard might spend a point to sling a spell or a warrior to land a crushing blow. In general, tactics points are a ticket for the player to do something at the table that takes a little extra time and puts them in the limelight. They should also use a special, unique, non-standard mechanic.

Rogues gain the use of a gambling technique.

  • Ante: The rogue immediately antes up a bid. Generally the bid is in tactics points. The rogue may also offer up Hit Points. HP may be especially likely to be anted when doubling down or splitting.
  • Pairs: The rogue may also put a bid on their first two cards being a pair.
  • Play Blackjack: Also known as 21. The rogue may double down or split as per the normal Blackjack rules. Dealer must hit soft 17s.
  • Payouts: If the rogue wins, they keep their bid it costs their foe. If they push (tie), the rogue keeps his bid and nothing happens. If the rogue gets a blackjack, then they win and it pays out 3:2. If the rogue gets a pair, his bid pays out 10:1. If it is a suited pair, it pays out 15:1.
What you can do with it:
  • Backstab. The Rogue lands a brutal blow. All payout comes from the adversary's hit points. For example, if a rogue anted up 2 tactics points to start and wins, then the rogue keeps his 2 tactics points and the enemy loses 2 HP of his own (although the rogue does not gain them). If the rogue loses then he is just out his tactics points.
  • Pick Pockets. The Rogue cleverly pilfers small items. Each point of payout is either 1/6 of a stone of ENC or one coin of an appropriate tier (copper/silver/gold). For example, if the rogue antes up 2 tactics points and wins, he either gets two coins from the victim or items up to 1/3 of a stone (usually chosen randomly).
  • Quicksilver: The Rogue seizes the initiative. All payout comes from the adversary's initiative score. The rogue's initiative score increases by the given amount. For example, say the Rogue antes up two points and wins; the foe's score drops by two and the rogue's increases by two.
Blackjack is a quick game, well suited for rapid resolution of tasks.

Odds: The house edge (DM's edge) for pairs is around 10% (using a fresh deck every time) or 35% (using one deck without shuffling). For Blackjack it is around 0.17%, making this about 50/50. This makes Blackjack a particularly attractive option against foes that are otherwise tough to affect. For example, if the Rogue normally has a 5% chance of affecting a foe, opting to play Blackjack just increased his chances significantly!


For more involved scenarios, Texas Klondike may be more appropriate.
  • ANTE: The Rogue and GM each bid 1 or 2 points (Rogue's choice) as a blind. The GM's points come from HP, gold/ENC (pick pockets), or initiative score (Rogue's choice depending on technique). The Rogue's points come from Tactics Points or HP.
  • PLAY: Each player secretly rolls two dice as their "hole" cards.
  • BID AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE FLOP: Roll three dice in the center of the table as a community pool.
  • BID AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE TURN: Add a fourth die to the center of the table.
  • BIG AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE RIVER: Add a fifth die to the center of the table.
  • FINAL BIDS: One more round of bidding ensues.
  • DETERMINE WINNER: Whoever can assemble the best five-die "hand" wins. Use standard poker styled hierarchy of precedence: 5-of-a-kind, 4-of-a-kind, full house, 3-of-a-kind, two pairs, one pair. Winner takes the pot.
In Texas Klondike, the GM may wager other items if it is deemed acceptable. For example, if the game is being played to try and see if the Rogue can gain access to a den of thieves, each point the DM wagers up could be admission for another one of the Rogue's party members.


As above, however, there is only one round of bidding.
  • ANTE: The Rogue and GM each bid 1 point as above.
  • PLAY: Each player secretly rolls five dice as a hand.
  • BID: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • SHOW 'EW: Each player reveals their hand. Winner takes the pot.