The King is Dead

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mega Horror Powers

Overlord
'Cause sometimes you're rooting for the lich.


The Savage Worlds Horror Companion contains a small selection of new powers appropriate for a horror setting – but what if you wanted a high-powered horror setting? The following are some options inspired by the Mega Powers of RIFTS® for Savage Worlds.
 
Banish Entity - Exalted Banish Entity
The caster may either target a single Wild Card entity for Power Points equal to the being’s Spirit die or target all Extra entities in a Large Burst Template.
 
Bind Entity - Greater Bind Entity
For twice the usual Power Point cost, duration increases to one week (5/one week).
 
Consecrate Ground – Blessed Sanctum
Duration increases to 1 hour and Power Points cost increases to 6 (1/hour).
 
Corpse Senses – Meat Puppet
Power Point cost increases to 5 (1/hour) but the caster can now control the undead’s actions and speak through it. Undead created by the necromancer obey commands issued by the meat puppet.
 
Drain Years – Drain Life
Power Points cost increases to 40 points. Any character that fails their Vigor roll dies of old age; Elderly characters make the roll at -2.
 
Enhance Undead – Exalted Enhance Undead 
Power Point cost increases to 6/undead; duration increases to 1 day or 1d4 days on a raise.
 
Grave Shroud – Greater Grave Shroud
Duration increases to 1 hour and Power Points cost increases to 4 (1/hour). A character knowingly subjected to this spell does not need to make a Fear test is she sees her own reflection.
 
Grave Speak – Secrets of the Grave
Power Point cost increases to 6 (2/round) but the spirit may not lie – unless the caster rolls a 1 on their arcane skill die, in which case the ability of the summoned spirit to lie replaces accidentally contacting a demon.
 
Nightmares – Dream Warrior
Power Point cost increases to 8, but the caster can now project himself into the target’s dream. The caster cannot control the laws of physics in the dream realm, but can use any other powers (like illusion) that would function in a comparable manner. While in the dream realm, the caster can enter combat with the dreamer; wounds – including Incapacitation – suffered by either party carry over to the physical world. 
 
Spirit Shield – Exalted Spirit Shield
Power Points cost increases to 6 (1/round) but the protected area increases to the size of a Large Burst Template and entities wishing to cross the threshold suffer a -2 to their Spirit rolls.
 
Strength of the Dead – Greater Strength of the Dead
Duration increases to 1 hour and Power Points cost increases to 10 (1/hour).
 
Summon Demon – Exalted Summon Demon
For twice the usual Power Point cost, the duration increases to Smarts x Days.
 
Summon Spirit – Greater Summon Spirit 
For twice the usual Power Point cost, the caster can either improve the circumstances of asking the spirit for information or make it easier to command to a task. In the former case, the following applies:
  • Failure: The Spirit roll to avoid Fatigue is made at -2.
  • Success: Anyone directly involved in the casting is not Fatigued after the spirit departs.
  • Raise: The Spirit answers five questions.
If summoned to perform a task, the spirit’s Spirit roll to resist the orders is at -2. 
 
Suppress Lycanthropy – Exalted Suppress Lycanthropy
Power Point cost increases to 12. When used to suppress one night’s transformation, success instead allows the lycanthrope self-control after the transformation. When used as a ritual to permanently control the curse, the subject may select to be permanently rid of the curse rather than control the transformation; if the caster fails, the lycanthrope only runs amok for 1d3 days.

Wuxia Frameworks

Shaolin & Wu Tang (1981)
left to right: Shaolin adept, Wudang adept

Let’s simply assume that the dividing line between wuxia as a genre and martial arts stories in general is the presence of “wire-fu”-style quasi-magical abilities and move on from there. As one is sure to notice, these are very generic frameworks. Wuxia characters are all defined by their mastery of the martial arts; it's in their backgrounds, personalities, and fighting styles (defined by the Combat Edges and powers they choose) that their individuality is found.  






 




Enlightened (Deadlands-style) Adept
  • Bonus Skills: +3 dice in Fighting & initial super power skill
  • Bonus Hindrances: either Code of Honor [Major; follow the Code of Xia] or Vow [Major; serve your master or temple] AND either Enemy [Minor; see below] or Vengeful [Minor] 
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Chi Mastery; see Deadlands: Reloaded), Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (see Deadlands: Reloaded)
  • Bonus Gear: one martial arts weapon of the player’s choice
Shaolin (external style) Adept 
  • Bonus Skills: +3 dice Faith & Fighting 
  • Bonus Hindrances: either Code of Honor [Major; follow the Code of Xia] or Vow [Major; serve your master or temple] AND either Enemy [Minor; see below] or Vengeful [Minor] 
  • Bonus Edges: Adept, Arcane Background (Miracles), Martial Artist 
  • Bonus Gear: one martial arts weapon of the player’s choice
Wudang (internal style) Adept

  • Bonus Skills: +3 dice Fighting & Spellcasting
  • Bonus Hindrances: either Code of Honor [Major; follow the Code of Xia] or Vow [Major; serve your master or temple] AND either Enemy [Minor; see below] or Vengeful [Minor]
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Magical Adept (as Adept, except substituting Magic for Miracles), Martial Artist
  • Bonus Gear: one martial arts weapon of the player’s choice  
 
Random Enemy Table
Long-held, unresolved grudges are an essential aspect of wuxia stories. If a player or Game Master needs inspiration for the Enemy Hiundrance, draw a card from the Action Deck and consult the following list:
  • Clubs – The family member of a friend or fellow student accidentally slain by your hand.
  • Diamonds – A villain seeking the secrets of your master or order
  • Hearts – A lover you left behind to pursue the path of wuxia
  • Spades – A fellow student you routinely bested
  • Joker – Draw twice (discarding Jokers) and combine the two results

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pre-Modern Japanese Frameworks



Genji: Days of the Blade
from left to right: sohei, samurai, miko (sort-of), and kami-possessed samurai


Heian Ghost Story Frameworks

These are some frameworks for supernatural investigator characters in a Heian Japan setting, as discussed in previous blog entries.









Bonze/Monk
Note that this is for a Japanese-style scholar-monk, not a Chinese-style martial arts monk.
  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Faith & Knowledge (Occult)
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Minor; obey your abbot]
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Exorcist (see Savage Worlds Horror Companion)
  • Bonus Gear: Buddhist rosary
Onmyōji

  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Knowledge (Occult) & Spellcasting
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Minor; serve the Ministry of Onmyōdo or some minor spiritual taboo]
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power (bind entity; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion), New Power (summon spirit; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion
  • Bonus Gear: shikiban (divination board; adds +1 to Occult Knowledge rolls) and other occult tools 

Miko

Prior to the Meiji era, miko were not so much “shrine maidens” as “female shamans” – speaking for the spirits, inviting both kami and ghosts to possess them and speak through them (practices called kamigakari and tokusen). While they usually dwelled at specific shrines, the upheaval of the Kamakura period and the ascension of the samurai turned many miko into mendicant soothsayers. This framework is meant to emulate that earlier form of miko, not the part-time shrine tenders of modern Japan.
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Shooting, +2 dice Faith & Knowledge (Occult)
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Major; serve the kami] and either Code of Honor (if a shrine miko) or Outsider & Wanted [Minor] (if a wandering miko)
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), New Power (consecrate ground or grave speak; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion), New Power (summon spirit; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion)
  • Bonus Gear: azusayumi (sacred catalpa-wood bow), red hakama and white haori (traditional miko costume), tamagushi (sacred decorated tree branch or wand), various ritual objects 
Shugenja/Yamabushi
  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Fighting, Knowledge (Occult), and Survival, +4 dice Faith
  • Bonus Hindrances: Code of Honor [Major], Vow [Major; obey your master and the teachings of your order], Outsider [Minor]
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Exorcist (see Savage Worlds Horror Companion)
  • Bonus Gear: Buddhist rosary, climbing gear, oi and kata-bako (portable shrine), shakujō (sacred staff), shiba-uchi (sacred short sword), tokin (drinking cup/hat), yui-gesa (pompom-adorned vestment harness) 
 
Chanbara Frameworks


And here are some frameworks for a more typical samurai sword-fighting setting (or a really over the top one). Of course, there's no reason you can't mix and match both sets of frameworks for a samurai & supernatural setting in the vein of InuYasha.



 
Ninja/Shinobi
  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Climbing, Fighting, & Lockpicking; +3 dice Stealth
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Major; serve your clan or the lord that commands you]; Enemy or Wanted [Minor; your clan has a rival ninja clan or ninja are technically outlawed in your area], Outsider [Minor; those who know you are a ninja treat you as hinin, the lowest of castes]
  • Bonus Edges: Assassin, Thief
  • Bonus Gear: grappling hook & line, 5 kunai or shuriken (as throwing knife/dagger), ninja-to (as short sword) 
Ronin
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Shooting, +3 dice Fighting & Riding
  • Bonus Hindrances: two of Enemy [Minor], Outsider [Minor], and Wanted [Minor; likely to be accused of crimes by local daimyo and samurai]
  • Bonus Edges: 1st Edge in a School Style
  • Bonus Gear: katana, tanto (as dagger), wakizashi (as short sword); female samurai often carry a naginata (as halberd). 
Samurai
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Shooting, +3 dice Fighting & Riding
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Major; serve your clan or the lord that commands you]
  • Bonus Edges: Knight (see Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion), 1st Edge in a School Style
  • Bonus Gear: daikyu and 20 arrows (as long bow, but can be used from horseback), katana, lamellar armor (as chain hauberk with enclosed steel helmet), riding horse (Tokugawa period) or war horse (Heian through Azuchi-Momoyama periods), tanto (as dagger), wakizashi (as short sword); female samurai often carry a naginata (as halberd). NOTE: The gear listed here replaces that offered by the Knight Edge.
Ronin & Samurai School Style Edge Trees
Ronin and samurai dedicated to a particular school of combat need not meet Rank requirements when purchasing an Edge; all other requirements for the Edge must be met. Heroes lose this benefit if they purchase any other Combat Edges before finishing training in their school's style.  
  • Battōjutsu/Iajutsu (fast-strike schools): Quick Draw > First Strike > Improved First Strike
  • Ittō-ryū (one-sword schools): No Mercy (or Mighty Blow in settings with the Blood & Guts Setting Rule) > Sunder > Improved Sunder (see Fantasy Companion)
  • Niten Ichi-ryū (two-sword schools): Florentine > Counterattack > Improved Counterattack
  • Yabusame (mounted archery): Steady Hands > Double Shot > Improved Double Shot (see Fantasy Companion)
NOTE:  I deliberately didn't give Niten Ichi-ryū the Ambidextrous and Two-Fisted Edges because the second sword isn't used to attack very often; it's usually used as something more like a shield, save that it's more for disrupting attacks rather than actual parrying.  
 
Sohei
The soldier-monks of Japan are not necessarily sacred warriors; many are mercenaries and runaway farmers. While they’re all indoctrinated into the sect they serve, few pursue a path of mystical enlightenment.
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Faith & Knowledge (Occult), +2 dice Fighting & Shooting
  • Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Minor; obey your abbot]
  • Bonus Edges: Improvisational Fighter 
  • Bonus Gear: daikyu and 20 arrows (as long bow, but can be used from horseback), lamellar armor cuirass (as chain hauberk), naginata or kanabō (as halberd or maul), tanto (as dagger), wakizashi (as short sword), white headcloth
NOTE: Yes, they get Faith but not AB (Miracles). All sohei know their prayers, but not all of them get the benefits of it.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rippers Resurrected Irregular Frameworks

Ripper Street
from left to right: aristocrat, doctor, detective, soldier, guttersnipe
Based on a conversation I had yesterday on Facebook with Tavis Hill, here's some frameworks for Irregulars inspired by some of the Character Concepts in Rippers Resurrected. With these packages, I went with the concept that Irregulars are ordinary folk caught up in the supernatural, not trained monster-fighters like long-term faction members; that's why the doctor/medical professional package doesn't revolve around the Surgeon Edge and its concentration on rippertech.


 

 
Alienist
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +2 dice Healing, Knowledge (Psychology), and Persuasion
  • Bonus Edges: Alienist 
  • Bonus Gear: book (blank), writing equipment, 4 doses of morphine


Aristocrat/Celebrity/Gentlefolk
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Intimidation (or Taunt), +2 dice Persuasion & Taunt (or Intimidation)
  • Bonus Edges: Noble or Rich, Socialite
  • Bonus Gear: bottle of champagne or wine, fine clothing


Cat Burglar/Gentleman Thief
  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Climbing & Lockpicking, +3 dice Stealth
  • Bonus Edges: Thief 
  • Bonus Gear: grappling hook & line, leather satchel


Cowboy
  • Bonus Skills: +2 dice Survival & Throwing, +3 dice Riding
  • Bonus Edges: Beast Bond
  • Bonus Gear: riding horse & tackle


Detective/Reporter
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +3 dice Investigation & Streetwise
  • Bonus Edges: Investigator
  • Bonus Gear: toolkit (detective’s)


Doctor/Medical Professional
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +3 dice Healing & Knowledge (Medicine)
  • Bonus Edges: Healer
  • Bonus Gear: toolkit (medical)


Explorer
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Streetwise, +2 dice Notice & Survival
  • Bonus Edges: Linguist, World Traveler
  • Bonus Gear: leather satchel, spyglass or field glasses, umbrella


Guttersnipe
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Persuasion, +2 dice Stealth & Streetwise
  • Bonus Edges: Connections (bordello, criminal gang, union, etc.), Down-to-Earth
  • Bonus Gear: cheap clothing


Scholar/Scientist
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +3 dice two Knowledge skills (humanities or sciences)
  • Bonus Edges: Scholar
  • Bonus Gear: 2 blank books, writing equipment



Soldier
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +2 dice Knowledge (Battle) & Survival
  • Bonus Edges: Combat Reflexes, Command
  • Bonus Gear: medals/decorations, service pistol, uniform
Penny Dreadful
from left to right: patchwork man, cowboy, guttersnipe, doctor, two aristocrats, and two explorers

 
 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rippers Resurrected Faction Frameworks




It’s no secret that I like my Savage Worlds heroes a little tougher than the rules as written provide, which is why The King is Dead incorporates something a bit like the Iconic Frameworks of Savage RIFTS® into character creation (and why I’m looking forward to Fannon’s Freedom Squadron). Out of pretty much nowhere yesterday, I suddenly got to wondering what that approach would be like if applied to the factions of Rippers Resurrected.
 
Each “Faction Framework” below grants a bonus of 5 skill points to relevant skills, avoiding combat skills whenever possible (the Rosicrucians are an exception because of the heavy penalties to magic use in the setting). They also grant two bonus Edges, which do not replace the standard free Edge for playing a human; I limited myself to Novice Edges and those available in the core rules and the Rippers Resurrected Player’s Guide, but also included some alternatives for those using the Horror Companion, too. Each framework finishes off with £5 of gear.  
 
Frazer’s Fighters
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +2 dice Knowledge (Fertile Crescent Civilizations) & Survival
  • Bonus Edges: Fortune Favors the Bold, Gone Native
  • Bonus Gear: bedroll, compass
Masked Crusaders 
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Intimidation, +2 dice Climbing & Persuasion 
  • Bonus Edges: Exceptional Individual, Alternate Identity 
  • Bonus Gear: grappling hook & line, leather costume
Old Worlders
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Knowledge (Lycanthropes), +2 dice Survival & Tracking 
  • Bonus Edges: Grim Fatalism, Woodsman 
  • Bonus Gear: flint and steel, lamp oil, lantern, spyglass or field glasses
Order of St. George 
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Intimidation, +2 dice Knowledge (Holy Writ) & Persuasion 
  • Bonus Edges: Champion (or One of the Chosen*), Song of St. George 
  • Bonus Gear: holy symbol, writing equipment  
Rosicrucians 
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Persuasion, +2 dice Spellcasting & Stealth  
  • Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), Mystic Pact 
  • Bonus Gear: bell, book, candles (half dozen)
Slayers
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Knowledge (Vampires), +2 dice Stealth & Tracking
  • Bonus Edges: Alertness (or Tower of Will*), Righteous Fury
  • Bonus Gear: pickaxe or shovel, wooden stake
Witch Hunters
  • Bonus Skills: +1 die Streetwise, +2 dice Knowledge (Arcana) & Investigation
  • Bonus Edges: Brave (or Relentless*), Charms & Wards
  • Bonus Gear: flint and steel, lamp oil, manacles, torch
 
*If also using the Savage Worlds Horror Companion
 
 



Review - Accursed: Strained Allegiance

Accursed: Strained Allegiance



Want to wipe away everything I contributed to Accursed: World of Morden? Pick up Strained Allegiance, the latest adventure by Melior Via head honcho John Dunn!



I jest, but it’s true. Strained Allegiance gives players the chance to remove one of the Witches – the goddess-like entities who are the main antagonists of the setting – completely from the board, freeing all Shades (including player characters) from the taint of her influence and destroying all of the Banes in her Witchline.



Which includes all three of the monsters I created for my contribution to World of Morden



…And upends the political structure of the Outlands that I developed for that book.



Huh.



All kidding aside, it’s a brave move by John, a radical twist in the ongoing metaplot of Accursed that could provide a template going forward for any ongoing campaigns in that setting. It’s pretty much standard operating procedure in Pinnacle’s original settings (50 Fathoms, Slipstream, etc.) that the Plot Point Campaign ends with the setting upended, the primary threat defeated, but it’s rare to see that in the much more loosely-plotted third-party settings. 



The Witch in question – Hecate , the Dark Queen – is, strategically, the perfect choice. As the go-between uniting the other Witches, removing her fatally disrupts their fragile alliance. Her domain, the Outlands, stands between the rest of Morden and the Darkwall, the mountain range over which the Witches first traveled to invade the setting; destroying her keep and the lackeys who run rampant across the Outlands gives the heroes a chance to open a second front in the war. It’s really a cool move, plot-wise.



*Sigh* Maybe I can write some of my fan-creation Witches and Witchbreeds into the setting if Melior Via expands the setting again. One can only hope…




Accursed: Strained Allegiance is available for the low price of $2.50 at DriveThruRPG. It only requires the original Accursed; all necessary material and monsters from World of Morden is contained in the adventure (though using World of Morden to flesh out the heroes' journeys through the Outlands and including final encounters with the banes I created would certainly ramp up the epic). The adventure also introduces a new Bane of the Gorgon – echidnas – who my Monster Musume-loving self can’t help think make up for the loss of the yuki-onna. 



Purchasing Strained Allegiance through the link above helps support Wine and Savages through affiliate sales credits. My review copy of Accursed: Strained Allegiance was provided for free by Melior Via.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!: Reptilicus and Yonggary


As hopefully everybody knows, today sees the premiere of a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix. As a backer of the Kickstarter project that brought the series back, I had early access to the new episodes a few days ago. I’m not really the binge-watching type, though, so I’ve only watched a handful of episodes so far. I watched both of the kaiju episodes, of course.


Reptilicus (1961)

On the surface of it, a kaiju terrorizing Denmark isn’t really that weird. Denmark, after all, is part of Scandinavia and heir to the same mythology that gave the world the Midgard Serpent. They were doing kaiju before kaiju were cool. Unfortunately, animating the kaiju via a marionette utterly wrecks any possible tension this goofy Beast From 20,000 Fathoms kock-off could have possibly generated.
 
The paper cut-out people it eats don’t help.
 

Reptilicus

Novice Street Fighter Kaiju Wild Card

 

Despite sprouting a pair of wings from its back, the serpentine monstrosity called Reptilicus displays no ability to fly – indeed, it hardly even seems able to use its rudimentary legs. The Danish monster swims well but is not technically amphibious, still needing to surface to breathe. Reptilicus spits acid that swiftly dissolves flesh, but seems to have little effect on metal.

 

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d12+7, Vigor d12+1

Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6, Shooting d6, Swimming d12

Charisma: -6; Pace: 24 (Swim 48); Parry: 6; Toughness: 39 (10)

Gear: --

Hindrances: Weakness [Major; fire], Illiterate [Minor; unable to communicate through speech or writing with humans], Weakness [Minor; poison]

Edges: Arcane Background [Super Powers], Berserk

Super Powers:

  • Aquatic (1): Limitation (needs to surface to breathe every 90 minutes)
  • Armor (5): Heavy Armor
  • Attack, Melee (13): Str + 5d6; Focus, Heavy Weapon
  • Decay (7): Ranged Touch Attack, Strong
  • Regeneration (4): Regrowth
  • Toughness (10)
  • Gargantuan Being Package: fear (Scary, Terror, Limitation: non-kaiju only), size (+11, Heavy Armor, Heavy Weapons, Long Stride, Monster)







Yonggary (1967)
South Korea’s premiere kaiju film isn’t so much a knock-off of Godzilla as it is of Gamera, incorporating the latter’s helpful little kid and displaying similar – zaniness? – in its monster design. Of course, the “little kid bonds with monster” plot is betrayed by Yonggary’s surprisingly bloody end.
Fun fact: The producers mistakenly sent all of the originals of the film to the American distributor, resulting in the Korean-language version of the film being lost to history.

Yonggary
Novice Cosmic Kaiju Wild Card

A towering bipedal reptile with glowing eyes and nasal horn, Yonggary can alternate between breathing fire from the exhaust valve in its throat or (rarely) shooting a beam from its horn. Like Gamera, it eats fire.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d12+13, Vigor d12
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Shooting d8
Charisma: -4; Pace: 24; Parry: 6; Toughness: 44 (10)
Gear: --
Hindrances: Weakness [Major; ammonia], Monologuer [Major; roars for a round instead of taking actions], Illiterate [Minor; unable to communicate through speech or writing with humans], Stubborn
Edges: Arcane Background [Super Powers], Berserk
Super Powers:
  • Absorption (4): fire; Transference
  • Armor (5): Heavy Armor
  • Attack, Melee (10): 5d6 + d12 + 13; Heavy Weapon
  • Attack, Ranged (23): fiery breath or nose beam; 6d10 fire or radiation; Armor Piercing 10, Cone (can switch between Cone Template and other uses), Enhanced Damage, Focus, Heavy Weapon
  • Burrowing (2)
  • Growth (15): +5 Size (Size 16)
  • Regeneration (7): level 2; Recovery, Regrowth
  • Resistance (5): fire
  • Toughness (13): Hardy
  • Gargantuan Being Package: fear (Scary, Terror, Limitation: non-kaiju only), size (+11, Heavy Armor, Heavy Weapons, Long Stride, Monster)