Thursday, 28 June 2018

OSR Class: Zealot

"In the grip of holy ecstasy I look upon the face of the Divine, and he knows that our cause is right and just!" - Father Edric Vahlen, the 'Red Priest'.

Another Pike & Shotte class! This will be the last non-wizard class I'll be posting - I've got some thoughts on Fighters and Thieves to come but I'm not sure how much I'll be changing them overall. More wizards will be coming soon.

Reiver could be compared to a Ranger of sorts - they have good Stealth and tracking skills and can put out a decent amount of damage. Fighters will stick close to their baseline of being combat masters who can soak and deal damage in equal measure. Thieves will be their usual sneaky selves. A Zealot, on the other hand, is essentially a holy barbarian - they are warriors in the grip of the Divine, who care little for their own safety as they hurl themselves at their enemies. Some of the background options might lead to some reskinning of the above, so develop these ideas as you see fit.

Credit, Thomas Woods


Starting Equipment: medium weapon, torch, holy symbol (wood), vial of holy water.

A: Rage; Conviction
B: Feel No Pain
C: Iron Will; Zealous Accusation
D: Martyr

You gain +1 to Saves vs mind-altering effects and/or fear for every Zealot template you possess.

You can choose to enter a rage at the start of your turn, or in response to taking damage. While in a rage, you have +1 Attack stat and all your melee attacks inflict +1 damage. You might froth, or stare in battle-focus, or merely let a facade drop and give in to your ancient urges, brutal warrior training, or religious fanaticism.

While raging, you cannot do anything defensive, curative, or tactical with your allies. All you can do is attempt to kill things. Spellcasting is not impossible, but all your spells must be damaging spells, which deal +2 damage (if single target) or +1 damage (if multiple targets). Mishaps and Dooms may be more severe. While raging, you cannot stop fighting until you kill, subdue, or drive off all enemies. You can will yourself to stop raging with a 2-in-6 chance of success at the start of your turn as a free action. If one of your allies has injured you this fight, they count as an enemy.

Choose an ideal linked to your faith when you gain this skill. Not something as broad as one of the seven virtues, but a goal that your faith compels you to meet - destroy witches, purge the undead, restore lost shrines etc. This is the reason for your zealous faith and cannot be changed. Once per day you may take 2 Boons on a roll made in relation to your Conviction.

Feel No Pain
You may negate all incoming damage from an attack as a free action. Keep a record of the damage you would have taken. At the end of combat, Save. If you fail then you immediately suffer that much damage. You can do this a number of times per day equal to the number of Zealot templates you have.

Iron Will
Your rage becomes focused and cold. You are able to think tactically while using the Rage ability and need not devote all of your actions to attempting to harm your enemies. You may end your rage on a 4-in-6 instead of 2-in-6.

Alternatively, you may use this power to automatically resist a non-damaging mental or magical effect as a free action. If you do so, you lose the rage ability benefit of this power until you have rested for the night.

Zealous Accusation
As a free action, you spit a litany of hatred at a target, detailing their spiritual, physical and mental shortcomings in excruciating detail and condemning them as an affront to the Divine who opposes His rightful servant and will be subject to your punishment. The target must Save (with the PC's CHA modifier applied as a penalty) or flee in shame. This Save is made with 1 Bane if the target is at least moderately religious or a member of a heterodox faith, and with 1 Boon if they are of an entirely different faith or not religious at all. This only affects targets that can understand you and would reasonably take offence.

Once per day you may ignore Fatal Wounds for 1d6+1 Rounds. You may give in at any time before you reach the maximum rounds rolled. Once this time is up you suffer additional Fatal Wounds equal to the amount of Rounds spent acting. If you die tales will form around the story of your death, even if you died far from civilisation and no-one lived to carry your story back.

Credit, Mirko Failoni


Roll and gain the following background, then roll on the results underneath. Asterisks indicate that you are literate:

1. Clergy; 2. Foreigner; 3. Soldier; 4. Unusual

1.* Clergy
1. You entered cloistered life thinking that you would find peace in prayer and the adoration of the Divine. Instead you found boredom, irritability and a nagging urgency. Start with the 'Religion' skill, a tattered habit and a holy text.
2. Your zeal was noticed in hidden corners of the Church and you were offered a role in enforcing the will at the tip of a sword. Start with light armour, 3 days-worth of rations and a cipher ring that allows you to decode secret orders.
3. You trained to become a priest but grew to despise the opulence and grandeur of the Church. You've since embraced the mendicant lifestyle as an errant preacher, wandering in search of your goal. Start with the 'Vagabond' skill, a heavy cloak and 3 days-worth of rations.
4. As a rabble-rouser and witch-taker you operated on the periphery of the Church, but you knew your cause was just. Start with the 'Torture' skill, a 50' chain, and 3 flasks of oil.
5. Even among hardliners your beliefs were regarded as extreme. Gradually the more orthodox of your peers pushed you out. Start with a borderline heretical holy text and gain +2 to all Saves vs fear.
6. You spent days fasting and meditating at a time and had a vision of a Divine angel, who showed you the true path and marked your soul. This actually happened. You gain 1 Boon on all rolls to endure lack of food, water and sleep, and your soul-ward grants you 1 Boon to resist the powers of non-Divine Outsiders (non-angels/daemons, this doesn't apply to their regular physical attacks but does apply to magical abilities they possess).

2. Foreigner
1.* Your god(s) are strange and alien to the people of this land but their song thrums in your blood and you chant their Divine words as you smite their heathen foes. Start with the 'Singing' skill, a chime and a book of holy hymns in your native tongue.
2. Unlike the dreary, dour churches of the local faith, your order gives praise to your god(s) in wild, ecstatic dances. Your form is a blur both in worship and on the battlefield as you cut your enemies to ribbons with wild abandon. You start with the 'Dancing' skill, loose silk robes (10gp) and make all Combat Manoeuvres with 1 Boon.
3.* An old schism rent the Church in its early days, and your people worship on the other side of that divide. Your religious practices are like the local ones but pitched through a warped mirror. Start with an inverted holy symbol, a holy text in a foreign liturgy, a vial of holy water, and the ability to shock a local priest into speechlessness through the mere existence of your heresy.
4. Your sect was small, but feared by locals and invaders alike. Blades in the night, poison in wine, a silk cord from above, all of these and more were your weapons in your Divine struggle. Start with the 'Murder' skill, a garrote, and 3 doses of somniferum.
5. You hail from hard, cold lands and serve a grim god. You do not know why you have been dispatched to this land of weaklings, only that you must go. Start with winter clothing and 50' of rope. You take 1 Boon on all foraging attempts.
6. Your people worship the elemental spirits that permeate and exist within all things, not the crude godhead of the local lands. Start with the 'Forestry' skill, a bow and a quiver of 20 arrows. You gain 1 Boon when communicating with spirits of nature.

3. Soldier
1. You believed for a time that serving in the army would be the best way to further your convictions, but you were mistaken. All you found on the front lines was pointless blood and slaughter. Start with the 'Tactics' skill, medium armour and an Interesting Scar.
2. You led services before battles, whipping your audience into a murderous frenzy before leading the charge yourself. Start with the 'Demagogue' skill and replace your Medium weapon with a Great weapon.
3. You give glory to the Divine through combat. In your mind, they care not from where the blood flows, only that it flows. Start with an Interesting Scar, medium armour, and a shield.
4. As a man-at-arms in service to the Church you were not well versed in theology and religion, but your violence in the Divine's name was rewarded. Start with light armour and 2gp.
5. You died on the battlefield, bleeding out from a horrendous gut wound. The Divine blessed you as your sight faded and you awoke hours later, somehow alive in a field of corpses. Start with light armour and a holy symbol (wood). You remove a Fatal Wound on 2-in-6 instead of 1-in-6.
6. You protected pilgrims and travellers on their journeys to holy sites before your order was forcibly dissolved. Start with medium armour and a warhorse (with saddlebags).

4. Unusual
Discuss your background with the GM depending on the option you roll below:

1. You serve the mightiest god, who is destined to consume all other gods. Start with an extra 3 days-worth of rations. If you consume an item of religious significance to another faith you can add 1 Boon to a subsequent roll of your choosing. You can only have 1 Boon stored at once.
2.* There are other powers worthy of your attention besides the gods. They respect your ambition and grant you strength. Start with the 'Occult' skill, a piece of chalk and 5 candles. You know the infernal tongue of daemons and devils.
3. During the looting after a siege, you witnessed your comrades set a church alight after plundering it. Seized by an unknown force, you plunged into the flames and emerged largely unharmed from the burning building with an ashen relic held in your grasp. Start with the 'Arson' skill, a holy relic (20gp to the right buyer) and medium armour.
4.* The undead are an affront to the Divine and must be purged wherever they are found. The last of an order of hunters trained you in their ways before they passed. Start with the 'Undead' skill and a silver holy symbol. You know when an undead creature is less than 100' away, but not the specific direction.
5.* Your sect of witch-takers were dissolved after it was learned that you had taken to emulating the practices of those you hunted, the better to fight them. Start with 1 Magic Dice and a spellbook containing a randomly rolled spell. You can tell if an item is magical or not in the same way as a wizard.
6. The Fey are a force of insidious corruption and chaos that lurk in the midst of civilised lands. You are intimately familiar with them and know their evil. Start with the 'Fey' skill and a silver & rowan circlet. You can speak the Elvish language and can recognise the creations of the Fey.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Pike & Shotte: The War, Part 2

So, the War. My previous post contained possible causes and scenarios for the War itself. This post will get into the nitty-gritty of creating the armies.

This post contains precious little in terms of historical accuracy and instead focuses on implementing a set of easy-to-follow guidelines to create a warzone that your PCs can frolic, adventure and be horribly killed in. It originally contained a number of sections, but I've limited it to Armies & Battles due to the length it was reaching. Be warned that this post is incomplete and will contain references to things that have been left to later posts.

I'll be making subsequent posts on:
  1. Creating the Map
  2. Battles & Sieges
  3. Campaign Event Cycle & Timeline
As in my previous post, this assumes an Early Modern style of warfare, but can be easily tweaked.

'Rocroi, el Ășltimo tercio', by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau

There will be at least two armies in any region of Pike & Shotte. Armies may be created, altered or destroyed by events in a campaign. I classify armies as any armed group with more than 500 members, and an organised command structure. Smaller groups represent noble retinues, bandit gangs or smaller mercenary bands that, while potentially violent and aggressive, don't have the same power to disrupt a region like a true army does. However, larger armies may split off into smaller groups as part of their campaigning.

Armies have the following features:

General Characteristics
1. Health: An abstraction of the number of soldiers and units in an army. Higher current health means more units are at full-strength, lower health means many units need reinforcement. Maximum health refers to the overall size of the army.
2. Leadership: The ability of officers and generals to meaningfully plan and command the army.
3. Morale: The will and confidence of an army's soldiers. This tends towards a median over time.
*4. Mobility: How quickly the army is able to move on the campaign map, and how good they are at running down fleeing enemies in a rout. The higher the proportion of cavalry in an army, the higher this is. Artillery always reduces it, and larger armies are always slower.
5. Supplies: How well provisioned the army is. Each army must have adequate supplies for their troops or suffer Morale & Health penalties.
6. Cost: Soldiers don't fight for free. This is the monthly cost in gold pieces (not silver) of fielding the army.

Combat Characteristics
1. Skirmish: How good the army is at irregular warfare and harassment. Roughly reflects the proportion of light cavalry and skirmishers in the army.
2. Shock: The army's ability to deal and absorb heavy punishment in battle. Roughly proportional to the amount of line/heavy infantry, heavy cavalry and artillery in the army.
3. Siege: The army's effectiveness in besieging settlements and fortifications. Large amounts of artillery and infantry will increase this.
*4. Mobility: How quickly the army is able to move on the campaign map, and how good they are at running down fleeing enemies in a rout. The higher the proportion of cavalry in an army, the higher this is. Artillery always reduces it.

Creating an Army

Leadership, Morale and Mobility start at 10. Health, Supplies, Cost, Skirmish, Shock, Siege & Mobility start at 0.

Roll a statline for the Commander of the army using your system of choice and note their modifiers. Add the average of their Intelligence & Wisdom modifiers to the army's Leadership and their Charisma modifier to the army's morale.

Roll 1d4 + their Charisma modifier to find their Renown - this is their legacy of past actions that has built up as part of their reputation. Winning battles increases it, and losing battles reduces it.

Roll below to find the Commander's speciality and note the bonus, applying it to the army's stats if appropriate:
1. Dogged Attacker: +2 Shock
2. Dreaded Foe: -2 Enemy Morale
3. Military Mind: +2 Leadership
4. Lightning Fast: +2 Mobility
5. Inspiring Presence: +2 Friendly Morale
6. Bane of Cities: +2 Siege
7. Raider: +2 Skirmish
8. Scorched Earth: the Commander's army gains 1 Boon on the results of all foraging actions.
9. Zealous: the Commander's army gains +4 Morale when fighting opponents of a different religion.
10. Reaper: the Commander's army may re-roll their Shock roll during a battle, but must keep the second result.
11. Greedy: the Commander's army gains 1 Boon when rolling to check the outcome of looting a settlement.
12. Cautious: the Commander's army will notice an ambushing foe on a 3-in-6 instead of a 1-in-6.

Give them a name, allegiance and a general description, and maybe some noted past battles. You may end up with Hannibal Barca or Eugene of Savoy, or you might get Quinctilius Varus or the Earl of Cardigan, but don't worry too much either way: incompetent commanders can produce equally interesting results compared to their betters.

Initial Funds
Roll 3d6 x 1000gp to find the army's starting funds.

Initial Objective
Roll below to find the army's initial objective:

The commander wants to...
1. Fortify...
2. Raid...
3. Destroy...
4. Reinforce...
5. Besiege...
6. Reach...

1. A major settlement (roll randomly).
2. A minor settlement (roll randomly).
3. A strategic location (bridge, pass, junction, fortification etc., roll randomly).
4. An enemy army (roll randomly).
5. A specific region (roll randomly).
6. A friendly army (roll randomly).

Some of these results may not make sense, like destroying a friendly army, but my reasoning is that even armies that are nominally on the same side are still divided by factionalism and infighting. Or maybe the objective comes about as a result of shifting orders and allegiances.

Using the tables below, spend the initial funds rolled above on recruiting soldiers and specialists. Soldiers are a broad class of fighters who perform the general parry-and-thrust dirty work on the battlefield, while specialists posses special powers or abilities that can influence an army in battle or on campaign. Specialists do not count towards the army's Health, nor do they have a supply cost:

SoldiersCombat StatsCost (GP)Supply Cost
Light Infantry (e.g. Jaegers, Irregulars)+2 Skirmish, +1 Shock, +1 Mobility5001
Heavy Infantry (e.g. Tercios, Caroleans)+3 Shock, -2 Mobility1,0002
Light Cavalry (e.g. Dragoons, Hakkapeliittas)+3 Skirmish, +2 Shock, +3 Mobility1,5003
Heavy Cavalry (e.g. Gendarmes, Winged Hussars)+4 Shock, +2 Mobility2,0004
Light Artillery (e.g. Falconets, Sakers)+1 Skirmish, +1 Siege, -1 Mobility7503
Heavy Artillery (e.g. Culverins, Full Cannons)+2 Skirmish, +2 Siege, -2 Mobility1,5004
Siege Artillery (e.g. Basilisks, Howitzers)+5 Siege, -2 Mobility1,5003

SpecialistsEffectCost (GP)
ChirurgeonsReduces Army Health loss due to disease or battle damage1,500
Line Officers+2 Leadership, multiples don't stack2,000
Master Smiths+1 Shock for all Soldiers3,000
PioneersArmy movement speed suffers only 50% of the normal terrain penalties1,000
SappersThe Commander may attempt to tunnel into or out of a besieged settlement, allowing them to make a single Shock roll against an opponent in a siege2,000
Skilled QuartermasterSupply Cost of all Soldiers reduced by 1 (to minimum of 1), multiples don't stack2,000
Standard Bearers+1 Army Morale, multiples don't stack800
War Wizards+4 Shock, -2 to enemy Morale3,000

A commander's Renown allows them to choose a number of entries from the following table. Commanders can choose any number of entries provided that the cost of them does not exceed their current total Renown. If a commander's Renown decreases for whatever reason they must immediately remove entries until they have reached their new cap. An increase in Renown allows a commander to choose extra entries in the post-battle phase. Each entry can only be taken once, unless explicitly noted.

AssetDescriptionEffectRenown Cost
Venerable ChroniclerA scholar and diarist who records the Commander's great deeds.If the Commander defeats an enemy who had previously defeated them, they gain +1 Renown1
Crazed ApothecaryNeurotic and erratic, but their brews are potent.Roll 1d4 before a battle: 1: +2 Skirmish, 2: +2 Shock, 3: +2 Mobility, 4: +2 Morale. 50% chance of dealing 1d4 damage to Commander's Army1
Battlefield ReliquaryThe remains of a saint or holy artefact, borne aloft by the devoted.+4 Morale2
Herald of ArmsA messenger who proclaims the Commander's authority.The Commander gains 1 Boon on all rolls when negotiating with settlements or parleying2
Embedded AssassinsMasked killers wielding mighty weapons who fight in silence.+3 Skirmish, -1 enemy Morale3
VarangiansBarbaric foreign fighters, eager for gold and glory.+3 Shock, +1 Mobility3
Great CaptainA pre-eminent military leader offers their advice to the Commander.+4 Leadership4
Horse LordsWild riders follow the Commander, spitting savage war cries.+4 Skirmish, +2 Mobility4
WallbreakerA mighty gun inscribed with arcane runes, attended to by wizard-engineers.+3 Skirmish, +8 Siege, -2 Mobility, 10% chance of misfiring (1d4 damage to Commander's army, no progress on Siege phase)5
Fey AlliesCapricious sylvans lead a Wild Hunt from deer-back with blades of bronze and bone.+5 Skirmish, +3 Mobility, -2 enemy Morale, -1 friendly Morale5
Magical BeastsStrange and savage products of arcane crossbreeding. Handled with great care.+4 Shock, -2 enemy Morale, 25% chance of dealing 2d6 damage to Commander's Army6
ArchmageA master of the arcane arts, and a source of great disquiet to enemies.+6 Shock, -2 enemy Morale. 25% chance of a devastating magical mishap (treat as doubling the enemy's strength in the current phase)6

With the army's recruitment completed, calculate its Health by totalling up Hit Dice according to its composition. Roll for each unit accordingly:

Light Infantry: d6
Heavy Infantry: d8
Light Cavalry: d4
Heavy Cavalry: d6

Artillery does not contribute to the army's overall Health.

Thus an army with 2 units of Light Infantry, 3 units of Heavy Infantry, a unit of Light Cavalry and a unit of Heavy Cavalry would roll 2d6+3d8+1d4+1d6, getting a total of 28 Health.

Roll 2d10+5 to determine the army's starting supplies.

Please note that this is still being tweaked and that the above tables are not exhaustive - I definitely plan to flesh out the Specialist and Renown tables further. Any comments, constructive criticism and suggestions are welcome. Posts on how to actually use the armies will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

OSR Class: Reiver

"Harrow! Harrow! To all true-blooded men and women I call ye to trod against the cowards of Clan Dremond, who stole away with mine two nights ago! Harrow! Harrow!" - 'Black' Tom Maughan, Marcher Reiver.

I'll upload more about the War soon, I promise.

Fighters are combat experts who excel at engaging and destroying multiple targets. Wizards have a variety of magical powers at their fingertips. A Sawbones can patch you up in an instant. A Thief can sneak and steal like no other. Reivers are dirty fighters who focus on getting in and out quickly, sowing chaos as they go, while knowing the lay of the land and being able to sneak around to find the best loot.

Darkest Dungeon, Highwayman


Starting Equipment: light armour, dagger, pistol, 12 Apostles.

A: Slewe Dogge; Plunder.
B: Arsonist; Hot Trod.
C: Opportunist.
D: Harrow.

You gain +1 Stealth and +1 to Saves vs exposure and inclement weather for each Reiver template you possess.

Slewe Dogge
You may mark a target within your line of sight. You can track them across virtually any terrain provided that they are no more than three days ahead of you. If they are more than three days ahead then you must make an INT check. If they are more than a week ahead, or poor weather affects their tracks, you must roll INT/2.

You may ignore a point of Encumbrance inflicted by an item worth over 200sp. This applies to containers holding valuables, i.e. a chest or sack filled with coin, as well as single items, i.e. a golden idol.

You know fire. You take 1 Boon on attacks made with burning oil flasks, molotov cocktails, firebombs or any other fire-based attacks. Gunpowder weapons and explosives don't count, but hurling a burning branch does.

Hot Trod
Once per day you may remove 1d4 levels of Fatigue from either yourself or your mount.

Whenever you get a situational bonus to an attack roll (surprise, elevation, etc.) you deal an additional +1d6 Damage.

Announce a raid against a target no more than a week's travel away to a motley audience of thieves, ruffians and thugs, and roll vs your CHA. If you pass, 2d6 + your CHA modifer of them will join you on your raid. If you fail only 1d6 + your CHA modifier will join. All participants will expect a share of the plunder and will not hesitate to stick you in the ribs if you try and short them, otherwise they'll be reliable in a fight and excellent drinking company. This ability can't be used to lure hirelings to a dungeon - they're in it as much to steal from and cause havoc for a living target as they are for the loot, dungeons just don't have the same appeal as riding through a settlement flinging burning brands.

Credit, Da Yu


Roll and gain the following background, then roll on the results underneath. Asterisks indicate that you are literate:

1. Criminal; 2. Foreigner; 3. Frontier; 4. Soldier; 5. Unusual

1. Criminal
1.* You know how to get into hard-to-reach places quickly and quietly. Start with 50' of rope, a grappling hook and a detailed map of a nearby fortified location.
2. You held up travellers and carriages on country roads, demanding their money or their lives. Start with the 'Banditry' skill, a sturdy riding horse (with saddlebags) and 2d12sp in ill-gotten gains.
3. Turf wars were serious business, and sometimes risking the death penalty for arson was worth the chance to put an enemy out of business entirely. Start with the 'Law' skill and 3 flasks of oil.
4. You rustled cattle and horses, risking the hangman's noose with each outing. Start with the 'Husbandry' skill, 50' of rope and a riding horse. You can tell the value and breeding of a horse by sight.
5. Sometimes the best ways into an rival's turf lie underground, even if they smell terrible. Start with a vial of antitoxin, some heavily soiled clothes and take 1 Boon to Saves vs Disease.
6. You lead a band of vicious cutthroats in raids on villages and farms, sowing chaos in your wake. The War put a stop to your activities after your band was dispersed by force. Start with the 'Banditry' skill, a tent and a riding horse (with saddlebags).

2. Foreigner
1. You raided and plundered from overseas, arriving by ship at dusk and leaving before sunrise. Replace your starting equipment with Medium Armour and a medium weapon of your choice. Start with the 'Sailing' skill. You can see up to 30' away in unlit conditions.
2. Your people lived on horseback, roaming the steppe and raiding their neighbours with impunity. Replace your pistol & Apostles with a bow and a quiver of 20 arrows. Start with the 'Husbandry' skill, a hardy steppe horse (with saddlebags) and take 1 Boon when foraging for supplies. You can shoot a bow from horseback without penalty.
3. You hail from a desert land where the only permanent settlements exist in lush fortified valleys and mountain passes. Start with the 'Vagabond' skill and a peculiar mount (with saddlebags or equivalent). Replace your starting equipment with loose clothing instead of light armour, and a medium weapon of your choice instead of a pistol & Apostles. You can always find water if any is present within 5 miles when travelling overland and you make all Saves to resist the effects of heat with 2 Boons if you are not wearing armour.
4. Life in your homeland was rudely interrupted by strange people wielding mysterious weapons that roared with the power of the gods and riding beasts that towered over the height of a man. Their settlements began to take root, but proved to be easy picking for you and your fellows. Maybe the home of these people holds more riches? Start with clothing that instantly marks you out as a foreigner and a matchlock arquebus (with 10m of matchcord). If you can see the sky you have a 4-in-6 chance to determine cardinal north.
5. Your people were always engaged in low-level, endemic warfare to procure captives for divine sacrifices. Start with the 'Religion' skill, a polished skull and an Interesting Scar.
6.* You hunted outlaws, criminals and other fugitives from justice in your homeland. Maybe you were one once. You bear a visible tattoo, scar or brand as a mark of your profession. You start with the 'Law' skill, a set of manacles and a target who you have been hunting for a long time.

3. Frontier
1. Stealing, robbing and killing was a way of life out in the Marches. You were very good at it. Start with the 'Banditry' skill and 1gp.
2. The mountains breed hardy folk, and your clan was no exception. The little grazing land that existed was fiercely fought over and you can fight better than anyone on a rock face or scree slope. Start with the 'Mountaineer' skill, 10 iron spikes (1 inventory slot) an ice axe (light weapon) and winter clothing. You ignore the Movement penalty for mountainous terrain.
3. Not all Reivers got their start as criminals and thugs - you were hired as a guide through the heath and moor. You start with the 'Geography' skill, 3 days-worth of extra rations and take 1 Boon when foraging for supplies.
4.* Raiding enemies on either side of the borderlands was a well-defined process in Marcher Law. You specialised in leading reprisal raids to avenge your family's honour. Start with the 'Law' skill, a lance with a singed lump of peat affixed to the point and an extremely loud holler.
5. A head of cattle could buy an awful lot out in the borderlands. So what if some occasionally went missing from the local farmers? They always seemed to have more. Start with a riding horse (with saddlebags), 50' of rope and 3 days-worth of beef jerky. Your Stealth score is not affected while riding a horse at night time.
6. The fens and wetlands were your home and the swamps provided most of what you needed, the inhabitants of the bordering regions supplied the rest. Start with the 'Fishing' skill, a net and a fishing line. Replace your pistol and Apostles with a trident (medium weapon).

4. Soldier
1. You specialised in scaling walls and infiltrating fortifications and settlements unnoticed to cause havoc from within. Start with the 'Siege' skill, a grappling hook and 50' of rope. You know how to throw a grappling hook to make virtually no noise.
2. You were pressed into service and rode with a troop of light cavalry, specialising in chevauchee scorched earth tactics. Start with an extra 1d6gp, a warhorse (with saddlebags) and a goat.
3. You may not have liked being a sailor, but your skill with a blade and affinity with fire served you well in ship-to-ship combat. Start with the 'Sailing' skill and replace your dagger with a medium weapon of your choice.
4. You didn't fight, but you followed the army and stripped the battlefields bare after the fighting was over. Start with the 'Scavenge' skill and 1d6 trinkets worth 1d20sp each. There is a 1-in-10 chance that someone recognises the trinket you're selling.
5. While your comrades sought their thrill in the chaos and bloodshed of the battlefield, you always preferred the sack and pillage. Especially when flames were involved. Start with 3 flasks of oil (1 inventory slot), 1d3gp and an Interesting Scar.
6. While looting and pillaging after the battle was all well and good, you much preferred fleecing your fellows of their hard earned lucre at dice. Start with the 'Gambling' skill, a set of dice and 1d8gp.

5. Unusual
Discuss your background with the GM depending on the option you roll below:

1. You were hired to track and help capture strange beasts for private collectors or bored lords who wanted some more unusual sport. You specialised in hunting: 1. Humanoids; 2. Reptiles; 3. Avians; 4. Insectoids. You have a 2-in-6 chance of knowing the weakness of a target if they match this type. Start with a weighted net and 50' of rope.
2. You do not ride horses. Why ride when your own legs can carry you far and wide? You don't need to wear shoes and can run at a steady pace for 8 hours, provided you are not encumbered, after which you must rest.
3.* Your order specialises in hunting rogue wizards and sorcerers and destroying their lairs. Start play with a holy symbol and a magic scroll of a random defensive spell. Your body is covered from neck to ankle in intricate, silvered arcane tattoos and you make all Saves vs magic with 1 Boon. If a significant portion of your body is scarred or the tattoos are otherwise damaged you lose this bonus until you can source the expensive ingredients needed to mix into the ink and a tattooist from your order.
4.* You were a feared raider and brigand, until you went to sack a remote monastery. No-one knows what the monks said to you but you turned on your comrades and slew them before donning a monk's habit yourself. Start with the 'Religion' skill, a holy symbol and 3 vials of holy water (1 inventory slot). You take +1 to Saves vs Fear.
5. You were abandoned as a child and raised by wild animals. You learned how to survive in the wild and help yourself to other peoples' belongings, but eventually your curiosity got the better of you and now you live among them, or attempt to. Start with the 'Scavenge' skill and replace your equipment with fur clothing and a medium weapon of your choice. You take 1 Bane on all social interactions with other civilised peoples, but take 2 Boons when determining the reaction of wild animals.
6. Your skills were as much use below ground as above it. You saw some horrors down in the caves. Start with the 'Spelunking' skill and 50' of rope. You always know if a tunnel is leading you upwards or downwards and take +1 to Saves vs Fear.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

OSR: Cosmology & Deep Time

The Deep Time machine keeps on going. Things seem to be moving on to how Deep Time could be used to create worlds with bizarre layouts, as opposed to the regular geological layers in a sphere. Skerples has posted about spiral worlds, where travelling downstream brings you to past epochs and an upstream passage has yet to be discovered (or maybe a cold, icy future is what awaits), which I found to be a very interesting take.

This got me thinking about how Deep Time could be integrated into a setting's cosmology, and how this could affect the shape and layout of the material world. One thing that immediately popped into my head was Yggdrasil in Norse mythology - the enormous tree that connects the nine realms of gods and mortals.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth


In the beginning the Authority created the First World, forming it from the raw stuff of chaos that roiled and churned in the void. It created and hung the burning sun in the day sky and the moon and stars in the night and sculpted the land and seas in the ways that pleased It, and the First World was good and beautiful. But the Authority was unsatisfied with Its creation for nothing lived and moved below it, and it created plants and animals the likes of which mortals have never seen. The Authority was pleased and It made and planted the Tree of Eternities and made Its throne atop the highest reaches, whereby It could survey Its kingdom. And it was good.

The Tree of Eternities grew beyond all other plants and creatures and the Authority could see all of Its creations in all their wonder. But the Authority had made the Tree of Eternities from Its own power and its branches breached the firmament even as its roots pierced the floor of the First World and entered the void. Thus was chaos and magic unleashed upon the First World, destroying all that the Authority had made good. The Authority left the First World and created Heaven, whereby it could better view all of creation, and created the Second World from the Tree of Eternities and Hell from its roots.

I've thought up a few possibilities as to how this could play out.

Credit, Vincent Presseau

Necklace Worlds

The Tree of Eternities grows upwards like a regular tree. The Authority creates a new world around the upper trunk of the tree. The icy north & south poles of the world abruptly give way to lush greenery and warmth, and an enormous knotted trunk emerges from the ground and stretches into the sky. It can't be seen from far away because the Authority keeps it hidden, but astronomers note the regular and uniform spacing of the planets that they can see through their telescopes. Travellers can ascend up and down the trunk to reach past or future worlds, or Heaven and Hell if they travel far enough. The various worlds are strung together like beads on a necklace of vines. You could travel from one world to another with a spaceship quite easily. Offshoot growths of the Tree of Eternity can provide smaller routes of access to the main trunk.

Matryoshka-Doll Worlds

The Tree of Eternities continues to grow and the Authority creates new worlds inside it. As the tree grows more rings, more worlds are created on top of the last. The worlds are cylinders - one can travel the circumference without difficulty but the upper and lower ends gradually dissolve into oozing channels of divine xylem. As the Tree grows, its cambium produces a new layer that builds off the old, leading to a common history that runs through the many layers. With adequate equipment and preparations one can travel through the Tree's vascular system and be deposited on other worlds. The other way to do this is to dig deep enough or climb high enough to find the tough sapwood layers that separate the rings and break through to the next world (this has a high fatality rate due to sudden exposure to great heights or high-pressure magma). If one travels to the heartwood of the tree they have a direct route to the First World and Hell.

Dew-Drop Worlds

As the Tree of Eternities grows, its branches spread and the Authority creates new worlds from them, as drops of dew on a leaf. Each world exists in its own astral bubble, as if suspended in a crystal sphere. Some worlds are created in higher reaches than others and receive more light, and some are created near other things that live on the Tree, like parasites or astral lichen. The Authority moves and reorganises them as it sees fit, which often changes their conditions massively. Worlds on the same branch tend to be more similar than those on different branches. One can travel between worlds by breaching the surface of a celestial sphere and undertaking a long and hazardous journey on the surface of the Tree of Eternities, which still exists in the corrupted First World.

Fractal Worlds

The branches of the Tree of Eternity pierce the firmament at different angles as they grow towards the light of Heaven. As they grow and branch, the Authority creates new worlds upon them, and new worlds from these when they too branch. Each branch is associated with the end of an epoch, and the worlds created from the branch can diverge wildly. Most of the worlds look like shelf fungi growing out from the branches and vary wildly in overall shape. Their one common factor is that one of the cardinal directions inevitably ends in an enormous, curved wall of bark. Bold explorers can traverse the branches and find other worlds that mirror their own, or travel back to the main trunk and experience ancient epochs.

Coppice Worlds

The Tree of Eternities breaches the firmament and a new world is formed around it. However, the Authority, ever wary of further cosmological problems, regularly coppices the Tree back down to the level of the First World. This completely destroys the world currently built around the Tree, but broken traces of it remain in the lower reaches of the new world that is formed as the Tree rapidly regrows. The deeper one travels, the closer to the First World and Hell they get. Stories of judgement, wrath and revelation have a real chance of coming true if pruning time is getting close.

Yoon-Suin: Classes

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