Psionic Wasteland Basic Rules & Character Creation

This can be used interchangeably with my Dark Sun Lamentations rules, as well as any OSR game of your choice. If you're good at converting, you can use it with other fantasy games too. If not using an OSR game of your choice, and want to just use the materials of the booklet this'll be in, weapons do d10 damage, HD are d6 in size, and AC is ascending. Initiative is group based on a d6. Progression is Gold-as-XP with food and water counting as 100 XP per pound/gallon. Finding an oasis and defending it for 1 week earns the party 500 XP. Progression offers +1 HD and +1 to an attribute. Resting requires 8 hours of peace. You can roll how many of your HD you want to regain that many hit points, or you can restore 1 attribute to its normal. HD can only be regained after resting for a week straight. Attribute modifiers are +1 for every 2 above 10, -1 for 8/9.

BASIC STEPS

Image result for nomad fantasy art

  1. Roll 2d6+6 and reference the "Wastelander" table or assign this number to an attribute of your choice. Ignore the "Wastelander" table otherwise.
  2. Roll 3d6 in order for all other stats.
  3. Level your character to level 5 in your system of choice. If you are playing younger, or shittier characters, level them to level 3. If you want a Conan or Mad Max feeling game, level to 10.
  4. Everyone in the party rolls 1d4. The Referee takes the number that appears the most, consults the "Party Status" table, and applies its benefits.
  5. You have three skills: Murder, Psionics, and Survival. You have a number of skill points equal to 1/2 your level (rounded down). Assign them to your skills. You gain 1 more skill point every level after.
  6. Fighters gain a +2 to Murder, Disciples (or any Magic-User variant) a +2 to Psionics, and Thieves (or any Thiefy variant) a +2 to survival.
  7. If you DO NOT want to use classes and DID NOT use the Wastelander table, then roll for either Psionic Powers or Weapons/Armor as if you were a Disciple or rolling on equipment/treasure tables. These characters have a single save number of 18, which goes down by 1 for every level after 1st level. 
  8. If you DO want to use classes, use the Disciple class as is in addition to any other classes of your choice. Roll for Psionic Powers/Weapons according to class if you DO NOT use the Wastelander table.

WASTELANDERS

Related image

This is who your character is. Each comes with either a psionic power or special tool of some sort. Feel free to replace if desired.

8. Lipless Khan. Kissed the daughter of a God-King and was sent to die after mutilation. Has a garrote made of Sphinx heartstring. Corpses created with this weapon will 1 question as long as it is posed as a riddle.
9. Xer's Last Student. Last Disciple of a Master killed by cannibals bandits. Has 1d4+level Psychoportation powers.
10. Rhaz Thin. Seeks God in the waste in hopes of finding forgiveness for killing her daughter. Has a bag of strange teeth that, when planted into the ground, reports to her the identity of anything that dies there.
11. Domino. Is looking for the Ruined Sphinx City in hopes of finding her wife's damned soul. Has 1 + level Metapsionic powers.
12. Skull Cherisher. Believes that being murdered and murdering is the path to the Green Place. Rolls damage twice and always takes the highest number. 
13. Magen Polor. His head is full of the memories of everyone he's seen dead. He seeks a way to put them to rest. Has level - 1 Telepathy powers.
14. Savages Virtue. Sins beyond count forced them into exile. Seeks a place to indulge in pleasures endlessly. Has a long rod of steel as a weapon.
15. Generum Kaldhi. Was the Generum--great warlord--of the East. Seeks to recreate her  warband after their slaughter via heatstroke. Has a full set of bone and chitin armor. Consider as full plate.
16. Nine Lives Jack. Has died 8 times. Will not survive the ninth. Has 1 + level Psychometabolism powers.
17. Maria, Who Eats Mountains. Was a Master of the Way who lost a duel, and her knowledge. Seeks revenge, and the memories of her dead family. Has 1 Psionic power from each category.
18. The Road Warrior. Has a hundred legends telling of what they've done. Will make a hundred more. Has good hands and good eyes and better sense. Does Critical Hit damage on 18-20. 

PARTY STATUS

Related image

  1. Dying. Ambush, sandstorms, thoughtless zones, and bandits have harried the party. Every one was has 1d4 HP remaining and 1 sack of supplies that'll last for 1 more week.
  2. Chased. Slavers or worse things still are actively chasing the party. Chasers are 1 day behind the party. Party has no sacks of supplies, but the Chasers have 10.
  3. Stumbled. Two different groups of monsters, bandits, or other things are warring. Both have petitioned the party. Party has no sacks of supplies but are being offered 10 sacks.
  4. Defensive. War has benefited the party. They have killed something and earned 20 sacks of supplies. However, enemies are moving immediately to take it from them.
A sack of supplies is worth 700 XP when discovered and used. Starting sacks offer nothing.

SKILLS

Image result for mad max fantasy art

Skills have the following uses. Use them sparingly.

MURDER: X-in-6 chance to flat out murder a creature in solo combat with less HD then you, or that you ambush. Failure instead does your X-chance as damage to the creature and (usually) begins combat. If not using classes, add your X-in-6 chance to attack and damage rolls.

PSIONICS: Explained in the Dark Sun post.

SURVIVAL: X-in-6 chance to find a clue pointing towards drinkable water or consumable meat. Also can be used instead of normal saving throw against environmental hazards, such as heatstroke or sandstorms. If not using classes, use for basic Thief/Specialist skills, like climbing walls or walking silently.

NOTES

Image result for mad max fantasy art

  • Weapon breaking rules from the Dark Sun blogpost should be used for all forms of equipment.
  • Sacks of supplies feed the whole party, not just one character.
  • A sack of supplies can be traded in per character. That character receives a weapon. 
  • Consider using the "Who is the Party" table in the Dark Sun blogpost for more starting equipment if desired.
  • The party will be strong. Do not treat them like normal adventurers; treat them like monsters roaming the wastes in search of glory and death.
  • HD and Damage Die are intentionally out of line with one another. The Wastelands are bloody, and you will play them as so.
  • If your system doesn't use Critical Hit damage, Critical Hit damage is instead max damage + damage roll
  • Use travel in 1 week, not 1 day, increments. Players can spend a day of a week to fully explore an area, location, or hex. Every week, 1 sack of supplies is used.

How to Die in a Psionic Wasteland

Here hath the earth been raped.

Image result for dark sun wasteland


It may be a world, or a country, or a strip of land. It may be far away or instead cutting through the place of your birth. Sand and stone and soured water dot the landscape; Sin-Kings and Disciples of Intellect are the ponds by which we wretched curs huddle by.

The Wasteland is BLED. That is to say, magic has stripped her of nutrients and soul alike.

The Wasteland is DRUGGED. Some force has addled the minds of many, and through them psychedelia dances 'long the burning horizon.

See it now: two women painted in ocher and red insect with one of them having neither lips nor nose while also blessed with eyes the color of the once-blue sky that lets her see water no matter how deep or far away it may be and holding a club of bronze looms over the other woman who is screaming in rage and crying for mercy and her face is caved in and her eyes are broken and leak out of her head and then she screams and screams and screams into the thoughts of this noseless woman and eats he memories so that her face rebuilds and rebuild it does as she takes the identity and personality of this now nameless creature and leaves it here on the sands drained and broken while she instead feasts over their original prize--a foot of some man who died months ago and had already been nearly picked clean.

This barbarism fills the wasteland. When asked whether one decides on civilization vs barbarism, the answer is unclear. Slavery or brutality? Whips or clubbed faces? The anger of gods or the riddles of sphinxes?



Your choice was made. You wander off into the night to see whatever City-States there are to serve, and to do as all life must do: steal to live.

PRE-GAME GENERATION

Every one, including the Referee, rolls 1d6. If you have more than 4 total people, each person additional person rolls on another table and the Referee chooses which option to go with.

WHO WE WERE
  1. Slaves who toiled in dying fields and hot mines.
  2. Gladiators who fought beast and man in arenas.
  3. Freefolk who were abused and blackmailed by others.
  4. Criminals exiled for the crimes of heresy, water addiction, and thought crime.
  5. Servants of the Sin-King or Master-Disciple sent into the wasteland to find treasures.
  6. Dead men brought back to life and without memory.
WHAT WE SEEK
  1. Water, trees, and stones with which to defend it all.
  2. A new band to join.
  3. A city lost, so that you may hide from the hell around you.
  4. Death at the hands of the greatest creature one could find.
  5. A Master-Disciple to protect and train you in the Arts of Psychedelia.
  6. The Sphinx, to solve its riddle and to become Sin-Kings yourselves.

Image result for fantasy post apocalypse


WHAT WE LACK
  1. Water & Food.
  2. Weapons & Armor.
  3. Basic supplies, such as cloth or flint.
  4. Goods to trade with, or to barter for our lives.
  5. Direction, for we are lost.
  6. Health, for we are all near death; everyone starts the game at 1 HP.
WHAT WE FLEE

  1. A warlord whose slave-wives we saved.
  2. A Sinner whose lapis lazuli spellslab we stole.
  3. A Disciple whose child-disciple we killed in order to eat.
  4. A nightmare that wants our dreams and memories.
  5. A mob of dying hunters whose waterskins we stole.
  6. The enforcers of a Sinner-King or Master-Disciple we wounded.

Once the above is generated, do the following individually if you are a player.
  1. Roll for stats. 2d6+6 down the line.
  2. Choose your class. Anything that is demi-human or magic is considered a Sinner or someone possessed by nightmares.
  3. Roll for your equipment 1d4+1 times.
  4. Roll 1d4-1; this is how many hit points you have lost at the start of Session 1. If you all start at 1 HP, this is how many days its been since you last rested peacefully.
  5. Choose your rule set, or use the micro-rules (in a blog post coming soon).


EQUIPMENT

Related image

  1. Waterskin with 1d4-1 gulps of water left in it.
  2. 1d4 rations.
  3. Tarps and rolls of cloth.
  4. Pieces of armor; AC increases by +3 and incoming damage is reduced by 1.
  5. 1d6 torches.
  6. Flint.
  7. Half a map leading to what you seek. You have the beginning and end but not the middle.
  8. Two clubs made of dead wood or ivory that deal d6 damage.
  9. A handful of gemstones or a sack of gold dust.
  10. The preserved brain of a Master-Disciple. Drink the fluid to be reduced to 1 hit point and to use a random psionic power.
  11. The heart of a Sinner. Eat to gain 1d8 hit points or to cast 1 spell, draining 1d8 hit points from the nearest living creature in 1 mile.
  12. A bow with 1d20 arrows dealing 1d8 damage.
  13. Bread from a race of dead ubermen. Eat it to regain all hit points.
  14. Bronze earrings that let you hear the blood flowing in the veins of living creatures within 100 feet.
  15. Needle and thread and 100' of rope.
  16. A single slave.
  17. A tamed creature; the Referee and the player each choose one from the bestiary (coming soon) and flip a coin to see which it is.
  18. Dyes and paints that can be applied 1d6 times before running out. Wearing it makes one immune to Intellect, Sin, and thirst.
  19. A looking glass.
  20. A sword of iron and bronze dealing 2d6 damage and that literally everyone wants.


An Essay on Race-As-Class for 5th Edition and Other Modern Games

On Race-As-Class (this is a long essay):

Image result for buddha statue in forest
Add caption

TL;DR: Classes are too vague right now for Race-As-Class to work in 5E; redefining classes for humans to be about skills and races to be about inherent abilities solves this issue. READ BELOW FOR MORE.

So I been thinking on it. A lot of people ask me things like "Why can't an elf be a wizard?" or "Why can only humans be thieves?" In certain rivers of thought, these people are right, but I've been thinking back to my times before gaming, back when I was all about that fantasy lit, and it made me wonder.

In the Lord of the Rings, elves aren't wizards or sorcerers. They aren't fighters either. Magic and war come to them like breath does to a human--for them, weaving a spell is no different then us swinging a sword or talking shit. Yeah it might still take effort, but it's a virtually effortless process. Dwarves, on the otherhand, can create magical objects with no problem, but no dwarf can cast a spell--it is beyond their reckoning to do so, because as a creature they are not spellcasters.

This, I think, is the reasoning I use for Race-as-Class for being a thing. An Elf is a natural born warrior and spellcaster. A Dwarf is a naturally hardy creature with the ability to create magical objects. Thee are things that change and evolve for the individual as they grow; Legolas clearly focuses on his martial side, while someone like Galadriel is clearly spending her eons mastering her magic.

HOWEVER there is a problem with this, and that is the idea of Classes.

What a Class is, is not written in stone. For some people, classes are real things in world--people refer to others as clerics and bards and what not. To others, they're just an idea represented differently in their world, like skalds or chosen priests. The only thing these two share in common is that there is a bundle of mechanical features called a class that players can choose from. By making this separate from race, you can both create more classes, and also streamline things, making the game still have moving parts but ultimately easier to pick up and play.

This is mainly because of what the classes are. Wizard, fighter, rogue, bard, warlock--these are things that have been made universal or otherwise cobbled together just for the sake of making 5E easier to manage. This is not a bad thing; it has worked, given how popular the game is.

In order to make Race-As-Class work, the classes have to be different. There can't just be a Fighter class; the Wizard class can't be something you can multi-class into; things have to be one step more defined, and that means sacrificing a bit of the genericness in order to compensate for having Race-As-Class function.

This leaves one question unaddressed; why is there no human class? I've thought about this too, and my ultimate answer is: humans aren't special enough to have a class built around them. To be human is to be the baseline--it's where all points of reference both in game and out of game start and end. Humans aren't defined but what innate powers they can cultivate and master, but instead by what skills they can pick up. You can almost make this argument for Elves, who master many things in their near infinite lifespans, but ultimately I feel that the things Elves most focus on are the things unique to them, and the other skills (poetry, smithing, etc) aren't the same skills a human has to master (thievery, animal handling) because Elves are magical and already have these inherent abilities.

To put it another way, Elves are to thieves as humans are to pixies; they are totally different in all ways, and don't share the same mindset biologically or spiritually for there to be a cross between the two. This road goes two ways; there are things the Elf will learn that the human never will or never wanted too.

So, in modern games, I propose that for Race-As-Class to work, in the terms of the ubiquitous 5E, you have to redesign the classes from the ground up as something different. Classes for humans need to be focused on the skills they pick up; classes for races are focused on the skills they're mastering. Your Elf character, over their adventure, is mastering the magic inside of them and their own natural abilities and also learning some new things over this relatively short period of time. But for a human, for who this period of time is more significant as they are not immortal, they are trying desperately to polish their skills in order to survive and overcome the next challenge. This slight nuance creates an interesting dynamic in the party, in the roleplay it spawns, and in the mechanics themselves, and helps diversify things without adding any burdening complexity and instead creates a different type of game altogether. Maybe--I have to test it out first.

So then, how do I plan to apply this?

My goal is to make classes that work on this paradigm. 4 Race-As-Classes, 4 Human-Skill classes.

The 3 Race-As-Classes I want to explore right now are:

- Elf
- Medusa
- Tiefling
- Dwarf

There are only three Human-Skill Classes I think I need to make. The reason for this is because the ROGUE class in base 5E is probably the game's best designed class for what I want to do.

So in addition to ROGUE, I want to make:

- Warlord
- Witch
- Narcosa


A lot of this I already put a lot of work into; my Warlord, I think, is done and relatively balanced, and my Witch and Narcosa are written and in need of playtesting. The race-as-classes I haven't touched.

In theory, if this works, I'll probably just make like a 5.5E or something in the way I envision it. But if it doesn't, either because I fail as a game designer or because no one wants to play this, well at least I learned a lot from it.

Thus, Race-As-Class.