LotFP Class: The Spy

The SpyAs long as there has been humans, there has been distrust. And as long as there has been distrust, people have resorted to spying on one another to find out what’s really going on. When humans built their kingdoms and empires, spying became an art practiced at a high level by a dedicated few. Steeped in the depths of human distrust and deceit, these truth-finders ironically gained a reputation for being untrustworthy. Captured spies are not afforded the dignity of captured soldiers, and spies who learn too much are easily disposed of by nervous masters. Knowing when to abandon your post and strike out on your own is perhaps the spy’s most important skill.

Spies are a sort of non-magical divination class. They advance as Specialists in most respects. Their hit dice, saves, and experience progression is identical.

They have two skills, Listen and Stealth. Both of these begin with a 2-in-6 chance, and advance by 1 each level, reaching the full 6-in-6 chance at level 5. Stealth works as normal, but savvy readers might note that LotFP does not have a listen skill. Particularly dedicated readers may even recall that I have a personal distaste for the skill myself. The skill possessed here by the Spy is a kind of “Super Listen.”

The spy presses their ear to the floor, or wall, and does not need to make any stealth checks that this activity might normally call for. If the check succeeds, the referee must give them some piece of information about their environment. The referee is free to give them any information seems relevant. However, if no information comes to mind, this table may be useful:

  1. Roll a monster from your encounter table. The spy hears this creature some distance away, allowing them either to avoid it, or gain a bonus in attempting to surprise it. This creature is the next random encounter the players would have faced, and if they avoid or kill it, then the next time the encounter die indicates that a monster should be rolled, don’t. That monster was already dealt with. This remains true even if you don’t roll an encounter until the players are in a vastly different place at a different time. Dealing with a monster in this way is a sort of “get out of one encounter free” card.
  2. The Spy identifies the location of a nearby trap by hearing the clicking of gears, the straining of wood, or the subtle wobbling of a loose pressure plate. They know precisely where the trap is located and how to activate it, but do not necessarily know how to avoid it or deactivate it.
  3. Something, somewhere brushes against a piece of treasure. Perhaps a rat, or just a gust of wind. There is a barely audible clink of precious metal on precious metal. Even if it’s just a handful of copper coins, the Spy knows precisely where to find it. They don’t necessarily know how to get there, or how to access it.
  4. With listening skills so refined they approach echolocation, the spy is able to determine the layout of the nearest unexplored room. It should be described to them as though it were brightly lit, and they were standing in the center of it. Color may be omitted if the referee thinks it is relevant to do so.
  5. With a less focused variation of the same echolocation-like ability described above, the spy gains knowledge of the layout of the surrounding area. The referee should sketch a rough map of the corridors, rooms, stairways, and doors nearby. Out to a roughly 300′ radius.
  6. The spy overhears someone speaking. What they’re talking about is completely unrelated to anything the players are currently doing, but it sounds as though it might be worth a look…

In addition to their two skills, Spies have two other notable abilities: Scout, and Disguise.

Disguise: If the spy is being pursued, and they manage to get out of sight of their pursuer, then they can disguise themselves. Doing so requires that they remain out of sight for a full round as they frantically modify their appearance using whatever is handy. If there is time, they may also attempt to disguise any companions who might be fleeing with them. Each companion requires 2 rounds of attention to be fully disguised. Once the job is done, disguised characters can wander out of hiding without being noticed at all. Any prolonged interaction with their pursuer will cause the disguise to fail, but it will otherwise stand up to casual inspection.

Disguise has no effect against pursuers who track primarily by scent. Nor will it prevent a creature who attacks all living things from attacking this ‘new’ living thing, simply because they don’t recognize it. Disguise is effective enough to fool pursuers in unpopulated environments. If the Spy is fleeing from a band of orcs in a dungeon corridor, they won’t see through the disguise simply because there’s no one else around.

Scout: By spending 8 hours away from the party, the Spy can find out a lot that they’d never have learned while burdened by their less subtle companions. Due to the time required, scouting may require the Spy to sacrifice some sleep. Additionally, scouting must be done as part of play, rather than between sessions.

When a Spy returns from scouting, they may opt either to ask the referee 3 yes-or-no questions, or ask a single question with a full sentence as an answer. The spy is entitled to ask anything they like, and they are entitled to the truth.

The referee should strive to provide good, useful information after a scouting run. Yes-or-no questions should never be answered with ‘maybe.’ Full-sentence questions should be answered with information that would not otherwise have been available at this point in the game. Scouting should not be used as a vehicle to deliver quest hooks players would have gotten anyway. For example, if a Spy asks “How do we kill the Gigalich?” telling them “Gregory the Wise Man knows” would probably be a bad answer. That’s the sort of information any player would be able to find out if they went into town and asked the tavern keeper. It wouldn’t require 8 hours, or the expertise of a professional Spy.

A better answer might be the exact location of the Lich’s phylactery. They’ll still need to adventure to reach the phylactery, and may even need to adventure still further to destroy it after it’s found. Another good option would be to provide them with red herring information in conjunction with the real information. The Spy might learn that the Gigalich is weak against either fire, water, or stale baguettes. Under no circumstances should you lie to your players, but there’s no problem with obfuscating the truth.

In rare circumstances, the referee might tell a player that they should ask a different question. This should be resorted to only in the rarest circumstance, as it devalues the player’s choice of class. However, if the player is being a twat, asking increasingly specific, contract-with-the-devil style questions, it may be warranted. It may also be called for if the player persists along a single line of questioning with repeated scouting. There is a limit to how much can be learned about a single subject. If the Gigalich is weak against either fire, water, or stale baguettes, then that is what is known. The Spy can’t narrow it down by scouting again to ask a yes-or-no question about each of those possibilities.

(Thanks to master diviner Mad Bill Danger for sharing expertise. )

Crafting as Jury Rigged Equipment

MacGyber Title cardGuys, guys guys, I’ve got an idea.

Crafting is cool, otherwise it wouldn’t be as persistent in gaming as it is. But cool as it is in theory, pretty much every implementation of it that I’ve ever encountered sucks. It seems like all of them are either an overpowered, overcomplicated mess, or they’re bland. This has literally been bothering me for almost 4 years now,  and my attempts to solve the problem represent some of the most rigorous game design I’ve attempted. But despite my best efforts, I’ve been stymied as to how to make crafting work in a way I could be happy with.

But this might be kinda cool:

Crafting is a skill, with advancement, and success/failure determined like any other skill. A player who wishes to use the craft skill must first determine the type of crafting they are trained in. Options include (but are not limited to): Blacksmith, Leatherworker, Clothier, Painter, Sculptor, Glassblower, Cook, Silver/Goldsmith, Carpenter, Stonemason, Toolmaker.

Characters who intend to use their skill should also add some amount of nondescript “raw materials” to their equipment list. Raw materials take up as much or as little encumbrance as the player wishes. The more they have on hand, the more use they will be able to get out of the skill. Materials should also cost some amount of money. Perhaps 100sp per point of encumbrance.

Whenever the player wants, they can declare that they’re attempting to create some item that falls within the purview of their chosen craft.  The referee then tells them how much encumbrance that item would take to carry. If they have an equal amount of raw materials, then they can make a skill check to attempt to craft the item they described. Succeed or fail, the attempt takes 3 turns, and the raw materials are used up.

Essentially, the craft skill becomes a sort of equipment “wildcard.” Lets say your profession is glassblower. You don’t need to bring a magnifying glass, and a lens, and a mirror, and a jar into the dungeon. You can just take a lump of raw materials, and create whatever you end up needing whenever you realize that you need it.

Obviously this system is an abstraction. Something perhaps better suited to a board or video game. On the other hand, the really neat thing about the system is the tactical infinity of it. Something that can really only exist in a TRPG.

If a character turning a lump of steel into a dagger without a forge or an anvil to work with bothers you, I totes get it. It kinda bothers me too. But consider: if the character DID have a forge and an anvil, that probably means they’re safe in town. And towns have shops, where daggers can easily be bought.

I’d still like to see a crafting system that works the way I’ve always imagined. Something that allows players to express their creativity, and provides real benefits without requiring an encyclopedia of rules. Maybe it’s about time I took another crack at writing a system like that. But as an option, this “Equipment Wildcard” system intrigues me.

1d100 Magic Words – General

tumblr_n5ozxrIfRX1ru5h8co1_500The Magic Word system is my attempt to replace the Magic User spell list with quick-and-easy spell creation. I like the idea of a world where most spells are unique to each Magician. As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, I’m playtesting the idea in my current game, and it’s going really well! The group’s MU is enjoying the process of discovering new words, and coming up with unique ways to combine them. I am enjoying writing new spells, and the additional texture the system adds to my game world. Even the non-MU party members seem to be enjoying the odd sorts of magic created by the system.

The one hiccup I have been running into is quickly generating new words on the fly. I’ve tried a few different random word generators on the Internet, but there are just too many ungameable words to make those options feasible. What I need is a curated table of words to roll on. So I figured I’d just write up a d100 table of evocative words. I’ll probably do a new one of these every few months until I’ve got enough for a d1000 table.

This first list, I grant, is a little generic. I feel like it would be a mistake to leave out words like “fire” and “ice” in the base list. Later lists will doubtless be more oddball than this one. Perhaps after this each list will be themed? Like “100 evil words,” or “100 seemingly useless words?” That would be cool.

Two notes. First, remember that words encompass all of their various permutations. So discovering the magic word “Fire” means you can craft spells with words like “Firey,” “Fired,” “Fire’s” or “Firing” in their name.

Second, regarding the 10 “name” entries at the end. D&D has a long tradition of big-name casters like Tenser who live on through the spells that bear their name. I like this idea! So in the Magic Word system, using a specific wizard’s name as part of the spell you’re crafting means that what you’re actually doing is uncovering a spell first created by some long dead master of the arcane arts. And when the referee is writing up the spell, they can draw on that caster’s history and talent when determining the spell’s effects. In order that the players can reasonably have knowledge of the casters whose spells they are discovering, I’ve chosen to use mostly real-world historical figures. This more or less works in my current game, as it takes place in the distant future of our real world. Your milage may vary on that. I demonstrated how I intend for this to work in the “More Magic Words in Action” post.

  1. Shark
  2. Rabbit
  3. Bear
  4. Eagle
  5. Ape
  6. Serpent
  7. Frog
  8. Sight
  9. Smell
  10. Feel
  11. Taste
  12. Hear
  13. Balance
  14. Eye
  15. Brain
  16. Bone
  17. Blood
  18. Hand
  19. Hard
  20. Soft
  21. Send
  22. Return
  23. Open
  24. Close
  25. Truth
  26. Falsehood
  27. Riot
  28. Soothe
  29. Tiny
  30. Titanic
  31. Day
  32. Night
  33. Love
  34. Hate
  35. Peace
  36. War
  37. Acid
  38. Water
  39. Ice
  40. Electricity
  41. Fire
  42. Poison
  43. Gravity
  44. Nature
  45. Gas
  46. Beam
  47. Lash
  48. Absorb
  49. Invest
  50. Core
  51. Free
  52. Death
  53. Corpse
  54. Shatter
  55. Crush
  56. Laugh
  57. Fear
  58. Vile
  59. Screech
  60. Chain
  61. Wood
  62. Steel
  63. Soil
  64. Stone
  65. Shield
  66. Pierce
  67. Choke
  68. Alter
  69. Animate
  70. Move
  71. Play
  72. Share
  73. Know
  74. Distant
  75. Sigil
  76. Swift
  77. Wall
  78. Child
  79. Path
  80. Cancel
  81. Body
  82. Realm
  83. Ring
  84. Flight
  85. Weird
  86. Machine
  87. Code
  88. Reveal
  89. Secret
  90. Name: Lovelace
  91. Name: Moses
  92. Name: Robespierre
  93. Name: Washington
  94. Name: Zalekios (Unique to my game. You can use Cleopatra)
  95. Name: Socrates
  96. Name: Augustus
  97. Name: Napoleon
  98. Name: Shakespeare
  99. Name: Caesar
  100. Name: Hitler

LotFP Class: Bangtail

BangtailLife is never kind to the bottom rung. While the well-off have the luxury of fretting over their dignity, the rest are too busy fretting over where their next meal will come from. For some, their own body is the only commodity they have that anyone will trade for. It’s a step that, once taken, cannot be taken back. Society will never see you the same way again. There is no reprieve, no climbing out of that dank pit.

But then there are those who take well to the work. Who may even enjoy it. They can’t pull themselves out of the pit any more than their less adept colleagues, but they can stake a claim in the pit. Build a life in the pit. Become the queen of the pit. To those looking in from outside, you’re just another whore. But that is their weakness, their failure to see. And that failure is the Bangtail’s opportunity.

For experience points, hit dice, and saves, the Bangtail progresses as a Specialist. The Bangtail also gains skill points, but does so at half the rate of the Specialist: two at first level, and one at each subsequent level.

Bangtails can spend their skill points on any skill available to Specialists, including Sneak Attack. In addition, there are 3 new skills available only to members of the Bangtail class. All Bangtails start with a 1-in-6 chance for each of these skills.

Bangtail-Only Skills:

Goodtime: If there is an item for sale, and the NPC selling it has any sex drive whatsoever, then the Bangtail can make a Goodtime check. On success, they spend a Watch (4hrs) alone with the seller. In exchange the price of the item is reduced by 5% per level of the Bangtail.

Goodtime checks may also be made during a Haven turn so the Bangtail may ply their trade in whatever town they are in. On a successful check, the Bangtail earns 300 money per level. This money doesn’t grant any experience.

Note: NPC sexuality or curiosity is determined by the success or failure of the check. Nobody is immune simply because they’re not into members of the Bangtail’s expressed gender.

Bedroom Talk: Whores talk. When a Bangtail indicates an NPC, they can make a Bedroom Talk roll to determine if they’ve heard anything about that person. On a successful roll, the Bangtail has heard such stories. The referee may choose from two types of information to give. Either the Bangtail has heard some detailed information about this person’s secrets, or, they have heard shameful stories about that person’s darkest desires.  The latter would certainly be useful as blackmail.

Different people respond to blackmail in different ways of course: some capitulate, others become violent, and still others gamble that no one would believe you even if you did tell. Regardless of the way the NPC reacts, the information you learned is true.

Note: Bedroom Talk checks may only ever be made once per NPC, until the Bangtail increases their base success chance.

Amorous Gymnastics: It is an occupational necessity to practice flexibility. The Bangtail, as in all aspects of their craft, has raised this skill to a form of art. A successful Amorous Gymnastics check allows a Bangtail to fit themselves into spaces that might normally be considered too small, and move freely in those spaces. Using this they could slide through the bars of a prison cell, or hide themselves inside a briefcase. The skill could also be used to escape any bonds, balance under any circumstances, or generally use their body in unusual ways, such as firing a bow with their feet.

Other Bangtail Abilities:

  • In any decently sized town, a Bangtail will be able to make contact with the local network of prostitutes within 1 Watch. This network will be able to provide a safe (if rough) place to sleep when hiding from the authorities, and will know exactly how to help you slip out of town unnoticed if need be. They can also offer a wide variety of information about the city they work in.
  • You don’t make it far as a Bangtail without learning how to avoid trouble. Once per session, when a random encounter is rolled, a Bangtail can announce that they avoid the encounter. They saw the signs of trouble coming, and directed the party away from danger. That encounter doesn’t happen.
  • Despite the skill they’re most known for, the most important skill of a Bangtail is knowing how to talk to people. Bangtails receive a +1 to all social rolls. This increases to +2 at level four, and again to +3 at level seven.

Credit to Mick Reddick for suggesting the name “Bangtail” for me, and thereby inspiring me to create an entirely new class to do justice to that amazingly evocative word.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...