Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ACKS Monster: Barghest (with Domains at War stats)

Via WoTC.
It ought to be a rule that any converted monster for ACKS also include it's D@W stats.

The Barghest originally appeared in Dragon #26. I offer a slightly simpler version here for ACKS, with
a bit of a different ecology. I'm going to be using this guy later in a different project.

In smoking sulfurous rifts in a broken, distant planet reside the barghest, a fiercely solitary sort of daemon ruling various dominated servitors with despotic terror. Occasionally, however, barghest spawn; the litter, always numbering six; is sent off to other realms to survive or not, as the case may be.

Barghest are natural shapeshifters; able to appear as either a large goblinoid, or a somewhat goblinoid-looking large wolf or warg. In their goblin forms, barghest are indistinguishable from other goblins by other humanoids, aside from a yellow glow in the eyes when excited. Goblinoids, however, instinctively recognize them. Barghest among goblinoid tribes are given a high status, and often worshiped - goblinoids see them as a higher form of life that particularly vicious and cruel members of their kind can be reincarnated into, if they are deserving. The entire subculture of the goblinoid warg rider is based off of this belief.

Barghest feed on human souls (though they may eat the bodies as well, for the taste); they often come to dominate goblinoid tribes who ply the barghest with sacrifices in exchange for protection from outside threats and safety from the barghest itself. As they consume, they grow; eventually seeking passage back to their blasted world in order to begin their adulthood.

Barghest are able to perform the following magic at will, once per round: shapechange, into either their canine or goblinoid form; alter self as the spell; levitate, as the spell;  misdirection, as the spell below; and project image, as the spell below.

In addition, once per day they may cast charm (person or monster); dimension door; or emotion, as the spell below.

In canine form, the barghest is a supernatural tracker; succeeding with a proficiency throw of 1+. It moves at double it's normal movement rate; may naturally pass without trace, and can hide in shadows or natural surroundings on a throw of 5+. While they may utilize alter self to appear more like a dog of this world; natural dogs will fear and despise the barghest, attacking at every opportunity.

Barghest may only be damaged by magical weapons. If struck by magical fire, they take no damage, but if they fail their save versus the effect they are instantly hurled back to their native world.

They keep no treasure while on this world; but when found, are often with goblinoid tribes who will.


% In Lair: 40%

Dungeon Enc: Solitary, or with Goblin Gang/Warband (60%)
Wilderness Enc: Solitary, or with Goblin Warband/Village (60%)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: -  90' (30') (goblin form); 180' (60') (canine form)
Armor Class: 7/9/11
Hit Dice: 6+1**/9+2**/12+3**
Attacks: Claw or by Weapon (goblin form), Bite (canine form)
Damage: 2d4+1 / 2d4+2 / 2d4+3 or by weapon.
Save: F6/F9/F12
Morale: +4
Treasure Type: None
XP: 820/1900/3000
Size: M/L/L

Domains At War Unit Statistics

Notes: as per the monster description Barghest do not accumulate treasure, the wages are there as a convenience. Barghest serving an army would expect to be paid in the souls of captured prisoners, much like carnivorous troops - the values here are for a wolf of the same size. Assume prisoners provide their own base XP value in gold pieces for the "strength" of their soul. A particularly generous DM may allow the resultant de-souled corpse to feed regular carnivorous troops.

BR was calculated at the highest movement rates.

Level:  Mage 4
Range:  10 ft/ level
Duration:  Until concentration ceases

By casting this spell, the mage is able to instill in others with one of four powerful emotions, each with a different effect, as described below. The emanation reaches a sphere 30' in radius. A successful save vs. Spells negates any effect.

Fear:  If the mage chooses to instill fear, the spell’s effect is similar to that of the fear spell, but with a –2 penalty applied to saving throws.
Hate:  If the mage instills hate, the targets gain a +2 to saving throws, attacks, and damage.
Hopelessness:  The mage causes despair in the target creatures, who will wander sadly away or surrender in the face of a challenge such as a combat.
Rage:  Creatures affected by rage attack at +1, gain a damage bonus of +3, and gain a bonus of 5 temporary hit points. Temporary hit points are lost first if the creature incurs damage. The affected creature will not willingly retreat from any combat or any opponents.

Domains At War:
The spell has an effective range of 1 hex per 6 caster levels at company scale.

Fear: As stated in D@W:Battles for the Fear spell, with the -2 save penalty. If the unit fails a save vs Spells, it immediately becomes disordered and loses 1/2 of it's UHP. The unit is disordered until the effect is dispelled, the unit leaves the battlemap, or 15 rounds have elapsed. If the effect is dispelled within 1 round, the unit regains it's lost UHP.
At Platoon scale, this acts as the Fear spell - the entire unit is affected. At battalion scale, 1/8 of the unit's UHP is lost. There is no effect at the brigade scale.
Hate:  Affected units gains a +2 to attack throws and saving throws at platoon scale. At company scale, the bonus is +1. There is no effect at larger scales.
Hopelessness: As the Fear effect. At platoon scale, the unit begins to retreat towards it's edge of the battlemap at it's marching rate.
Rage: At platoon scale, affected units gain a +1 to attack throws. Units with 2 or fewer attacks gains an additional attack roll. The next single hit scored against the unit is ignored. The unit ignores any morale check resulting in recoil or rout, and may not withdraw. This has no effect at larger scales.

Level:  Mage 2
Range:  30 ft
Duration:  1 round/ level

This spell is cast upon an object or creature to mislead any form of divination spells. If the caster or user of the divination magic fails a saving throw, he or she will obtain a false result from the divination; a lie will be detected as truth, the wrong alignment perceived, the wrong location divined, etc.

Domains At War:
This spell can be used to foil reconnaissance, but the timing must be right, or the effect must be imbued into an item. It follows the same guidelines for the nondetection spell, though it will provide false results rather than no results.

Project Image
Level:  Mage 6
Range:  10 ft/ level
Duration:  1 round/ level

This spell creates an illusory duplicate of the magic user in another place within the spell’s range. The image must remain visible to the caster or the spell will end. Much like a mirror image, the projected image mimics all the caster’s movements, but it is not affected by attacks of any kind. The image possesses an arcane link to the caster; if desired, the mage can cast spells that originate at the image rather than at the caster, as if the image, rather than the mage, cast the spell. Thus, the effective range of an attack spell can be increased, or a spell that would ordinarily center on the caster could be brought into effect around the projected image.

Domains At War:
The spell has an effective range of 1 hex per 6 caster levels at company scale. This may also be used to increase the apparent size of an army for reconnaissance purposes, if every member of the unit can cast the spell/activate an item.

All spells and spell text complements of OSRIC.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Adventuring And Conquering Beyond The Wall

I'd found Beyond The Wall and Other Adventures some time ago, and as we were about to reboot our kid's game, it seemed like a perfect time to rewrite the BTW playbooks with more of an ACKS bent. I really wanted to try out those playbooks; and a pack of children is the best place to try something out that's as inventive and flavorful as BTW's playbooks.

Yea, I know.

Anyway. I'm not going to dwell on the mechanics of what I did, because that's not the point today. I am going to share the best part of Beyond The Wall - how the playbooks fared.

  • My eldest daughter: The Nobleman's Wild Daughter
No surprise, a Fighter. She harvested two rerolls out of me on this - a couple of the rolled results were a little embarrassing for her - one of her original results (on how she learned to fight) was being taught the bow by the "handsome young hunter". She turned beet red upon reading that.
Of course, the fact she's old enough to be embarrassed by that is it's own thing, and well outside the scope of this blog. Sigh.

  1. Her family's name is one of the oldest in the land, and they stay out of affairs that do not concern them.
  2.  She's never met someone who didn't like her.
  3. The grizzled captain of the guard has taken a liking to her (she named him Olaf)
  4. She learned Fighting Style: Two Weapons from the old mercenary that serves her parents.
  5. She earned the men's respect saving an injured hunter in the woods (and learned Wilderness Survival)
  6. She entered her father's tourney in secret; and accidentally killed her first foe; then withdrew. Her friend (the Fae Foundling) was there. She also led the cheer for her sister, who entered with you.
  7. One night, she went deeper beneath the castle than ever before; she found a beautiful jeweled ring that glitters in the darkness.
The weird part that happened here was my two daughters ended up rolling different results, but still came out very similar in stats. Almost as if they're sisters.

  • My wife: The Fae Foundling
My partial-ACKS conversion of BTW has this statted as a Elven Spellsword. She kind of surprised me here by not going with Witch's Prentice (a Druidish sort of theme, which she usually gravitates to)

  1. Her adopting father was an outcast; rightfully or not. 
  2. She learned a little from everyone; they all had something to teach.
  3. She befriended the hunters, often camping with them. (It was noted later she knows the hunter the Wild Daughter saved)
  4. She had a wizened and clever look; even as a babe. She has the skill Loremastery.
  5. The unseen is clear before her eyes; she gains the spell Sense Nature.
  6. The sluagh came from the west one season; and she protected her friends from their attack. She gained the spell Shield. The younger Wild Daughter (IRL younger sister of the daughter who's playing) was there with her.
  7. When her foster parents found her; amongst her swaddling clothes was a wonderfully carved stone rose.

  • Youngest Boy: The Local Performer
This is a Bard type. It's not something I would have predicted this person to pick - one of the strengths of BTW is that it hides the class mechanics behind a story first. I'd expected a Ranger out of him.
This character is also a lesson in providing complete rules. I'd sent a draft of this whole thing to this boy's father, and they all got excited and rolled up characters. I hadn't mentioned that stats in BTW are supposed to top out at 19 - he managed to gain a Charisma of 23. He's 7 years old, the dice spoke, I'm going to let it stand, and figure out how to handle it on the fly. Converting ACKS' stat tables, using the 2/3/2/3 progression, a 23 gets him a +5 modifier. He doesn't have any other reaction-modifying proficiencies, so that's not too bad considering what you can get up to in default ACKS.

  1. His father was a local merchant. He learned to name his price and charm his customers.
  2. He never met someone who didn't like him.
  3. He often helped the old widow around the house.
  4. Grandmother Weaver's tales of faeries, knights, and maidens filled his head with tales of adventure. He gains the skill Perform(Oratory)
  5. He gets the best applause from his rendition of a famous and well-loved tale of romance. He gains Inspire Courage.
  6. A minstrel from the south sat all night teaching him and his friend (the Forgotten Child) many songs and tales. He gains the rituals Read Languages and Summon Berserkers.
  7. He's gained the favor and true name of a faerie noble. (combined with the aforementioned minstrel)

  • Eldest Boy: The Forgotten Child
A thief. He's a foster child in the local nobleman's (the one with the Wild Daughter) manor. I'd expected a straight fighter out of this boy. 

  1.  His house is known for base betrayal - the family is respected but not trusted. They authored this as the boy's uncle overthrowing his father in a coup.
  2. Everyone has something to teach, and he learned from them all.
  3. The seneschal taught him games of strategy and skill.
  4. His favorite place isn't in the castle - it's in the village beyond (thus tying him to the other players) He gains Loremastery.
  5. His favorite book in the library is a book of maps; showing the lands for miles around.
  6. His father's brother, the vizier, made a pact with an ancient evil. He managed to reveal his deviltry, too late, however. The Heir to a Legend saved him from a dark ritual occuring just as the coup was starting. Gain the skill Lockpicking.
  7. He has a dagger of dark iron, gifted to him by his grandmother.

  • The Boys' Father: The Heir To A Legend
Not surprising. I've been gaming with this guy for ~14 years or so, and I had him pegged as either this or the Gifted Dilettante. This is a 'Ranger" type.

  1. His mother kept the old stories; his head is full of them.
  2. There wasn't a game he couldn't win.
  3. A grizzled mercenary taught him a thing or two (rewrote into his father)
  4. His father traveled to Faerie and returned after defeating and evading the perils of that strange land. Gained Resilience.
  5. His father taught him the old ways of war; where single heroes fight for glory and honor, gained Fighting Style: Weapon & Shield.
  6.  Someone or something connected to his father's adventures pushed him to make a name for himself; he saved the Forgotten Child from a dark ritual with the Local Performer in tow.
  7. Last autumn, he found a broken blade bearing his brother's name ( a rewrite to support their backstory)

My youngest daughter, at 4, was involved lightly, I was just seeing how she'd participate. She got bored with the process, and became impatient with taking turns, so she got out her own paper and drew her own village. She more-or-less aped her sister, including wanting the same result on the last table (a special ring). She was a little put out there wasn't a board or pieces during this. I think she'll be a wargamer like her daddy.

Assuming I added these up right, here's the party's stats:

Nobleman's Wild Daughter
Fighter:     STR 12  INT  9  WIS 10  DEX 17  CON 11  CHA 14
Fae Foundling
Spellsword:  STR  9  INT 17  WIS 12  DEX 11  CON 15  CHA  8
Local Performer
Bard:        STR 11  INT 11  WIS  8  DEX  9  CON 10  CHA 23
Forgotten Child
Thief:       STR 10  INT 12  WIS 11  DEX 12  CON 13  CHA 15
Heir to a Legend
Ranger:      STR 15  INT 11  WIS 10  DEX 16  CON 11  CHA  9

Nothing too outlandish except that 23 CHA. Looking at the rest of his stats I may offer him to change anything that doesn't conflict with the story they've worked up.

Everyone had a good time. I got some good NPCs out of the whole deal (NPCs that they made, so they're invested into them already) to dangle rumors and provide information with, they've got some ownership over the starting town (almost as if they grew up there, huh?)

The boys and their father had such a good time I ended up with a mini-novel on their backstories - they took the BTW-provided hooks and ran with them - the Forgotten Child is the lost scion of the ruling house of a faraway (but not too faraway) kingdom, the Heir To A Legend is who helped him escape the coup attempt by the Forgotten Child's father's vizier; the Local Performer is who discovered the ritual in progress. I've got a inn populated with NPCs and PCs and an entire kingdom they're going to want to visit one day.

My fevered hope is that we play these characters long enough that we get to name level and they can grab some troops and go take back that kingdom. I would *love* to toss some Domains At War into this.

I can't recommend enough Beyond The Wall. It's a fine "light OSR d20" in it's own right - three basic classes (mage and cleric are combined), an interestingly literary ritual system, and a dead simple freeform skill system, but the character playbooks launch it into a must-have.

Sure, you could sit down with  bunch of folks that are well-read in the "classic fantasy" and come up with an interesting backstory with enough world-creation that the GM has a bunch of ready hooks to hang adventures on. But can you come up with them randomly generated with related skills and stats?

If you've read Earthsea or the Prydain Chronicles or any other number of young-adult fantasy novels, you're going to find in here loving call-backs to well loved characters and themes - if you don't, go reread them now, because you've forgotten the magic they had when you were young.