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

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  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

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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

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  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

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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

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  • 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.

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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.

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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

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  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):

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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.

Cursed-Gods are Demons in Revelations of the Mononoke-Hime

All stories start with a demon.

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Perhaps it raged its way East until it found you, and you bear the curse of its touch.

Or maybe you were the one who wounded this god, turned it into one of rage and hate.

Still yet, it could be a passing thing--you meet a stranger whose encountered this wretched thing, and now your fates are linked.

All stories start with a demon, and all demons are the same.

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When a god is scorned and hated...

When a god refuses to die...

When a god is poisoned by sin...

When a god eats the flesh of man...

These were the old ways a demon could be born. But now, with iron balls and explosive mines, the fear and pain the gods feel as they are driven out of their forests hits a crescendo evilly unmatched. Their blood steams and turns viscous and takes on a life of its own. Hot worms burn out of their flesh. Death possesses the ground they touch and a second time must they be killed lest they rage forever.

When creating a demon, roll 5d10 and refer to the Kami-God generators. Then, roll a 6th d10 to determine what it hates.

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CURSED-GOD DEMONS

HD: 20
AC: As unarmored
SPEED: x4 Human
MORALE: 12
ATTACK: Demon Worms +10 to hit ranged 300' for 2d6 damage
SPECIAL:
  • Any creature touching the demon must make a Save vs Magic or become attached to the demon. A third-party is required to find and pull the creature off.
  • Any creature specifically attacked by the demon is cursed if it takes damage.
  • The demon takes the maximum amount of damage possible whenever it suffers damage from any source.
  • For every 5 hit points the demon loses, it gains an additional Demon Worms attack.
  • The first round a demon stands in open sunlight it is paralyzed until its next turn.
  • Any plant life the demon touches dies instantly; any stone the demon touches is broken.
  • The Demon has no Harmony and maximum Ambition. Should it ever gain a single point of Harmony, it will die.

Hatred
This is what drives the demon to curse the world.
  1. Its clan has been decimated, yet it has survived to bring its brothers back from the dead.
  2. It failed its role, and now wishes to flee its shame.
  3. The Great Forest Spirit denied it healing, and now it seeks to consume it whole.
  4. Humans have poisoned it and the forest and now it will poison them.
  5. Someone has killed it in battle and the hatred for that someone has driven it into curses.
  6. A loved one became a demon and passed its hatred on to this Cursed-God.
  7. Upon devouring humans, it grew to hate itself, and is now a demon.
  8. A large part of the forest has been destroyed; it will destroy the rest, as if to prove a point.
  9. Humans have murdered many clans. The demon hates its own weakness and seeks death.
  10. Feeling wronged by other Kami-Gods, the Cursed-God seeks to prove their foolishness.

Kami-Gods in Revelations of the Mononoke-HIme


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All beasts descend from them. If these beasts have neither Forest Spirit or god to guide them they become small and stupid. A beast cursed in this way has neither ambition nor harmony; it is a slathering creature to be treated as game and nothing else.

Gods, though, gods are something different. Their voices are echoed by some primeval soul and wisdom greater than any monk or nun guides their hunts. They can speak in your language and theirs; they can read and they can mark but neither will they do for they are not human.

Below is the generic stat block for a Kami-God in your OSR-adjacent games. Grab 5d10, roll them, and then reference the tables below the stat block for your personal god.

KAMI-GODS


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People love this Mononoke pose.

HD: 5 (if young) ; 10 (if matured) ; 20 (if clan-leader)
AC: As chain ; as chain + shield ; as plate + shield (natural hides)
SPEED: x2 Human ; x4 human ; x6 human
MORALE: 8 ; 10 ; 12
ATTACK: Method decided by clan, but: d4/d4/d6 ; d4/d4/d10 ; d8/d8/2d6
SPECIAL:
  • Kami-Gods with 20 HD can regain 1 hit point at any point after they've died. That hit point disappears the moment they've made a successful attack against another creature.
  • Any beasts within 50 miles of the Kami-God belonging to their clan gain intelligence equal to humans, +2 HD, and +2 to their AC. This effect reverses over the course of a year if the Kami-God dies.
  • A Kami-God whose Ambition grows to double their Harmony turns into a Demon.
  • When a rifleball is lodged into a Kami-God, it deals 1d20 points of damage to it at the beginning of every day. The Kami-God cannot regain hit points while the rifleball is inside of them.
  • Kami-Gods can summon 1d4+1 members of their clan. It takes 1d4 rounds for their clan members to reach them.
  • Kami-Gods can speak with all manners of beasts, with forests, and with curses.

GENERATORS

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Beastial Clan
Determines the shape, method of attack, and beast associated.
  1. Wolf (pounce/claw/bite)
  2. Boar (charge/hoof/tusk)
  3. Ape (rocks, debris, consume)
  4. Owl (talon/talon/talon)
  5. Deer (horn/horn/hoof)
  6. Salamander (bite/hand/tail)
  7. Lion-dog (bite/claw/flame)
  8. White snake (bite/poison/constrict)
  9. Butterfly (pollen/acid/drink)
  10. Dragon (bite/tail/breath)
Wisdom
Something mystic the Kami-God knows. Roll +1 times for every tier above young.
  1. How to purge curses.
  2. Where to find healing springs.
  3. How to kill after death.
  4. How to prevent one's self from becoming a demon.
  5. War, and how to wage it.
  6. How to consume human flesh to become a demon.
  7. How to raise Mononoke-Hime.
  8. What the weather will be within the day.
  9. The intentions of any human smelled.
  10. Of traps, and how to break them.
Ambition
The Kami-God's ambition.
  1. To drive humans out of the forest.
  2. To get revenge on humans for killing a fellow god.
  3. To punish the humans for taking from the forest.
  4. To convince the gods to leave, so that they do not become demons.
  5. To ensure that their children live.
  6. To ensure that their children do not become small and stupid.
  7. To replant the forest destroyed by humans.
  8. To become the Great Forest Spirit.
  9. To kill someone or something in particular.
  10. To die before the humans burn everything.
Role
The role the Kami-God plays in their forest.
  1. Sword of the Great Forest Spirit.
  2. Protector of the Great Forest Spirit.
  3. Foreigner god looking for war.
  4. The planting of trees and flowers.
  5. Protection of the smaller spirits, such as the Kodama.
  6. To lead those strong in Harmony through the forest.
  7. To kill trespassers in the forest.
  8. Prevent the forest from being destroyed.
  9. Kill demons that manifest inside the forest.
  10. Roleless--lost, confused, possessed by ambition.
Additional Bonuses
Roll the last d10. Add that number either to its raw hit points, AC, or it becomes a 4th attack for the Kami-God.

The Miracle System: Cleric Replacement Project pt. 2

Find part 1 here.

So this replaces the old Miracle system completely. Only a few miracles will included in this post; more will be dependent on pantheons, which will be part 3 of the Cleric Replacement Project.

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THE MIRACLE SYSTEM

There are gods, and there are faiths, and there are philosophies, and all three are unique in that they change reality if one believes in them strongly enough. A miracle is this singular event, this one moment where you trust so wholeheartedly into a greater power or ideal that in that moment what you wish for comes true.

Every player character can attempt to invoke a miracle. The Referee, in turn, can have one NPC or monster attempt to invoke a miracle once per session. Once a PC has successfully invoked a miracle, they can never benefit from another one. Faith proves itself but once and beyond that all things stem from casualty.

Invoking a Miracle can be done at any point during the game. It can be the PC's turn, the monster's turn, or someone else's turn entirely. When you do so, roll 1d6. You must roll above a 6 for the miracle to be invoked. Naturally, there are modifiers that can be added to this roll. The Referee always chooses which miracle is invoked. They should either choose that which most suits the player's needs, or somehow decide randomly which occurs.

Miracle Modifiers are thus:
  • Every Backing Power (a pantheon/belief/philosophy) has 1-4 sacraments. If all are performed the session of miracle invoking by the would-be Miracle Invoker, then add +1 to your roll.
  • If the would-be Miracle Invoker is about to die, either from damage or a failed saving throw, add +1 to your roll.
  • If the would-be Miracle Invoker is about to lose something absolutely essential, like a fellow PC they are romantically involved in or the Rod of Lordly Might, add +1 to the roll.

OR, TO MAKE IT FIT ON AN INDEX CARD

Performing Miracles: Roll 1d6 at any point. A 7+ results in the miracle being performed. Gain a a +1 modifier for each of the following: performing your Backing Power's sacraments that session, in danger of immediate death, and losing a crucial thing. Referee chooses what miracle happens.

WHAT THIS SYSTEM ACHIEVES

This system is meant to achieve a way for religious characters to have their religions mean something in game without relying on a spellcasting system. Any character can be religious, and any character can be chosen by their Faith to receive a miracle. It will be rare that this happens (unless one is a Saint, which will be another future blogpost), and a PC can only have one once, but miracles are miracles for a reason.


SAMPLE MIRACLES

Here are some sample miracles, and the format in which they'll be communicated. More next post when I go into Backing Powers (as each Backing Power should have a suite of miracles unique for it). Consider these miracles "Generic Miracles" that any backing power can achieve.

THE MIRACLE OF THE RESSURECTION
You can't keep a good man down, even with the finality of death. This miracle has been witnessed and documented throughout history, and those who see you perform it will know at once that you are their messiah, regardless of that being true or not.
EFFECT: Upon death, you will be reborn 1d12 days later. All wounds you suffered will be half-healed, meaning you are at full hit points but the wounds are somewhat still visible. While dead, you will have a chance to either meet your Backing Power or experience some great meditation or revelation. Your return is accompanied by a great show of divinity, such as angels singing or herds of animals gathering around your place of rebirth. 


DISCOVERY OF THE LOST KEY
Everyone has lost something in their life. All existence, the wise know, is to steal from and to be stolen from. This miracle undoes this, and that which is taken is no longer so.
EFFECT: You will discover something of great value (either personal or worth at least 1,000 s/gp) the next round of having invoked this miracle. It must be something you have owned before, and how it is returned to you depends on your backing power. Odin could send his valkyries to deliver it to you, or the river styx could geyser forth and leave it drenched in soul-dew at your feet.


BE GONE, O'CURSE AND OMEN
The supernatural is a disease on reality. Undead, fey, even angels or the agents of other powers are cancers devouring our world for their own purposes. To kill them is a task for heroes, but to undo them utterly is the domain of faith and faith alone.
EFFECT: Once this miracle is invoked, any and all supernatural effects within 1' mile x character level end. Additionally, any supernatural creatures are banished back to whatever foul domain from which they came and are then utterly destroyed. Demons will be hurled back into hell, ghosts will be ripped from their possessees, and the prideful horrors of warlocks will unravel into stardust. Until an equally cursed miracle happens in this area, never again will the supernatural bleed into this section of reality.

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Saints and their Endless Miracles: The Cleric Replacement Project pt.




I don't like the Cleric class. I don't like the name of it, I don't like that they just cast spells, and I don't like Turn Undead as their calling card power. It isn't bad, just not my taste, and I'm a vain, ugly blogposter.

So, I've begun work on my replacement. This'll be a rather big project, because it needs to replace the Cleric in my Lamentations games and the Cleric in my 5E games. I like the former more than the latter, so that's where we'll start.

For reference, see this post on miracles. It's the prototype for this whole idea.

P.S: I know I'm not unique in replacing the Cleric, but none of the other replaced Clerics have been to my taste either.

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WHAT I NEED TO REPLACE

Clerics - I need to replace the Cleric as an idea in my games. This means no more people who randomly get chosen to go do whatever they want with divine right. But that basic idea kernel of doing something with divine right should still be there. I guess what I'm really doing is removing the Van Helsing/Abrahamic influence for something else. 

Divine Magic - I don't want the replacement to be a spellcaster. You can argue that magic might as well be done through spellcasting because of ease of access, but I'm a firm believer that magic systems are coolest when they all have different, slightly esoteric rules--makes the whole thing just feel strange to me. Also, most standard Cleric spells are boring to me. So, these gotta' go.

Turn Undead - As mentioned above, I'm stripping out the Van Helsing/Abrahamic influence that hitherto now has been firmly wedded to the Holy Man archetype. Turn Undead can still be some sort of miracle, but that's neither here nor there.

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INSPIRATIONS

I'm taking my inspirations for this new direction from the following sources: Joan d'Arc, St. George, Jesus, the entirety of the Mesoamerican aristocracy, the Oracle of Delphi, and the countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Wisdom Kings from Buddhism's various branches. What these things all have in common is that they are people who either do extraordinary things out of sheer will/faith or they do something frankly impossible, enabled by their pantheon/deity. Both of these things are called Miracles.

Also, all of the above are considered saints in some way, shape, or form. So then, what we have is...

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THE SAINT CLASS & THE MIRACLE SYSTEM

A Saint is someone who creates Miracles. These can be miracles of war, miracles of life & death, or miracles of fate; regardless of their classification, they are supernatural feats of incredible potency. Always there is a deity, pantheon, or philosophy that backs the Saint. This will determine the type of Saint we're dealing with. Are you a warrior-hero, like St. George who slayed dragons? Are you a people's savior, like Jesus? Are you someone who is trying to save humanity from its own suffering, like the Buddhas? Regardless of the type, you someone who will have a special set of skills in relation to your backing power; a unique set of miracles that you can work; and access to sacraments and relics for your day to day adventuring needs.

Some might ask why a Saint is an adventurer. Well Strawman, the answer is simple: a Saint is someone who creates Miracles. Miracles can only be created when there is great need for them. When will there be greater need then when the thief gets stuck in a spike trap and loses both his legs? For those of you who want more direct story hooks for your characters, those can be given, but otherwise, you're there because you can only exist as a class in that situation. A thief steals. A fighter fights. A Saint...saints? Hm.

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WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

The following things need to be done to complete this project:

  1. The Miracle system revamped to be something that can support both the Saint class and other characters who want to make use of it.
  2. A system for the backing power (deitiy/pantheon/philosophy) established. This will probably be me using some standard ideas to expand on.
  3. The Saint as a class actually written.
  4. Sacraments and Relics theorized and then written.
  5. Playtesting. 
  6. The 5E Version created, since I run that as well. This means more playtesting.
  7. Once that's all done, I'll probably edit it heavily, throw it into a PDF, and upload it somewhere.

So there we have it--declarations of intent and a plan set out. Step 1 will begin next blog post.

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Mancy, or, Why Divination is Cool, Mechanics for it

The -mancy suffix actually means divination, not control. Learned this just recently and made me feel kinda' stupid. Also opened up some ideas for me.

The purpose of the mechanics below is to go with my Esoteries system. I don't like spells or spellcasting as they usually are, and wanted to come up with ways to replace standard, flamboyant magic and wizards in my games. Read more about what Esoteries are here.

I currently have a player using these mancy rules in my Sunday campaign. It's been dope so far. The answers she's gotten from her divinations have helped the party decide on various plans, but has yet to yield anything gamebreaking or too explicit. Also makes for some cool roleplay moments.

Note that not all settings are meant to have all Esoteries in them. Dark Sun for example has curios, psionics and sorceries. My Heaven Bless'd & Burned setting has curios, miracles, and mancy.

MANCY

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Melisandre from GoT is the archetypical pyromancer-using Cleric.
Divination has guided mankind since they left the muddy basin they evolved in. Every kingdom is dictated by it, every nation forged on its back, every war fought with its truths.

To use mancy, first decide which of the four methods you use for your divinations. Each method dictates a different type of information.
  1. Anthropomancy, or divination by entrails. Produces strange visions, encoded in shadowed symbols, that show a possible future for a question ask.
  2. Asterimancy, or divination through stars. The sky, star maps, globes and pools that reflect the heavens. Reading this tells you what sort of supernatural events are quickly approaching.
  3. Geomancy, or divination by earth. Break rocks, listen to how soil slides through the hand, hear the vibrations of trees, and then you will know what has happened recently in your area.
  4. Necromancy, or divination through the dead. Take a skull, paint it, lavish it with oils, and then place it on a table in a dark room. Ask it three questions, and it will answer truthfully.
  5. Oionomancy, or divination by symbol. Watch the flights of birds, see what strange colors appear on someone's back, study how many crosses sit atop buildings around you. These will tell you when something dangerous, supernatural, or determined is nearby.
  6. Pyromancy, or divination through flame. Light a flame, stare in it, use bones instead of coal. In the fires you will see a series of images that tell you of dangers to come.
You have a d6. This is your Divination Die. Roll it when you go to perform your mancy. Add +1 to the roll if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • You are under no pressure.
  • You have copious amounts of your preferred element.
  • You are unharmed and under no curses or other ill effects.
The following chart shows how exact of an answer should be given by the Referee.

1-2: Vague answers, cryptic, lots of symbols, nothing direct.
3-4: An answer requiring less interpretation, some explanation, familiar things and obvious clues
5-6: Clear answer, obvious people or creatures, no real trickery, still somewhat encoded
7+: Exact answer, no room for interpretation.

Everytime you perform mancy, the maximum X-in-6 chance you have goes down. So, if you do it 3 times in a day, any roll above a 3 is treated as a 3. With 8 hours of rest and letting omens leave your mind, this resets completely.


AN EXAMPLE: In my Sunday game, we have an anthropomancy. Last session, she divined with the entrails of a murdered man to see what creature had killed him. She rolled low, only a 1, and the answer she was given showed the shadows of a woman with six limbs, wings, paws, and that lived in the trees. The entire party went hunting for this creature. It turned out the woman was actually a human woman who was using dead animal parts to trick the party. Technically they were given the right answer, but it was so vague and cryptic because of her low roll that what came out confused them. If she had rolled higher, it would have been clearer that this was a human woman, not some monster.


USING THIS IN YOUR GAMES

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If your game has divination spells, remove all of them. Mancy is your divination spell now.

Magic-Users (of any kind), Clerics, and Elves have a 1-in-6 chance of knowing Mancy when created. Everytime they level up, reroll this chance again but add +1. One can also learn Mancy from another Mancer, though it takes a month of study to get the basics.

One can study another type of mancy by themselves. Instead of learning new spells, you can make a 1-in-6 chance and increase it by your Wisdom modifier to learn a new type of Mancy when you gain a level.

Fighters, Thieves/Specialists, and whoever else can learn Mancy as well, but their 1-in-6 chance never increases as they level.

Quick Sorcerer-King and City-State Generators for Dark Sun Games

I'm all about the whole "Make the setting yours"-style of setting books. Dark Sun, fantastic as it is, lacks this. This post is dedicated to coming up with your own Sorcerer-Kings and their surrounding City-States.

THE SORCERER-KINGS

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Dragon is the best of all.
Defiling is power--this these Sorcerer-Kings know well. Their strip Athas of its lifeforce and use it to build great citadels where they alone rule. Some claim divine right. Others are unashamedly tyrannical. All hold absolute power.

Pick up a die of every size from d4-d20 from a standard set. Roll them, refer to the tables below, and then choose a variant stat block at the bottom of this section that you can use as a template to customize your generated Sorcerer-King.

TITLE
  1. The Albatross
  2. They Who Swallow Seas
  3. Mother-Eater
  4. Killed Sun
NAME
Odds indicate male, evens indicate female
  1. Annshamash
  2. Ishgal
  3. Na-Suen
  4. Uki
  5. Dumesh
  6. Ereshlil
CLAIM TO POWER
  1. Inherited authority from Dead Gods
  2. Killed the previous ruler
  3. United countless tribes under their rule
  4. Oracles and seers prophesied their rise and fall
  5. Was the heir of the previous ruler
  6. Granted to them by a Master of the Way
  7. Raised their City-State from Defiled ash
  8. Chosen by the people--and by trickery
THEIR MAGIC...
  1. Is slowly turning them into the next Dragon.
  2. Turns the nightmares of rebels and heretics into vicious demons.
  3. Defiles exclusively children's lives as a means of control.
  4. Is actually Preserving or Psionics in disguise.
  5. Attracts predatory animals, who haunt the outskirts of their domain.
  6. Forces the dead to rise from their graves to serve their Sorcerer-King.
  7. Causes the sun to grow darker yet.
  8. Creates vicious lightning storms that, if the stars are right, are rain-pregnant.
  9. Is not their own; a cabal of sorcerers masquerades behind one figurehead.
  10. Creates a plague of curses that kills dozens whenever a great spell is cast.
THEIR GOAL IS TO...
  1. Rule until their death, then rule throughout their undeath.
  2. Kill the Dragon and harvest his power.
  3. Amass an army of Disciples so that no army can best them.
  4. Extinguish the sun so that they may take its place in the heavens.
  5. Conquer all other City-States and draw from them as tributaries.
  6. Bring the green back to Athas.
  7. Slaughter Halflings and take their resources.
  8. Learn how to create obedient life, so that treachery can never happen again.
  9. Elevate to the status of a true god.
  10. Discover what lies across the Sea of Silt.
  11. Become a dragon themselves.
  12. Kill all Defilers and Preservers, so that magic may be theirs alone to control.
A DEFINING FEATURE IS THEIR...
  1. Love of strange animals, whose skins they wear and bones they pierce themselves with.
  2. Skin pale as moonrock or dark as obsidian, scarred neither by combat or disease.
  3. A set of three eyes that open across their forehead and palms when they weave magic.
  4. Scarification, which covers their normally nude frame.
  5. Hair, braided with the hair of every person who has ever tried to kill them.
  6. Opulence--wealth of a thousand kinds hangs from their wrists and shoulders.
  7. Weight, as they have the girth of ten men or are thin as spears.
  8. Diseases, for they are always sick and covered in sores.
  9. Hatred of conflict, leading to laws against violence within their cities, punishable by death.
  10. Absence, they are rarely seen, and rumor holds it they are often outside their City-States.
  11. Martial mind, as they are a fantastic general who rarely loses on the field.
  12. Multiple personalities, some of which are kinder or more tyrannical than others.
  13. Existence, as their name and powers are a title passed down and shared by every heir.
  14. Age, for they are either young as an infant or wizened beyond belief.
  15. Interaction with the populace, for they are always walking the streets alone.
  16. Second head, which rests beside their first and is always spouting the secrets of others.
  17. Shifting appearance, as something about them, from sex to hair color to number of limbs, changes daily.
  18. Power, as they are actually weak Defilers who rule through lies and tricks.
  19. Paranoia, which guides them at all times and has seen them executing many an innocent soul.
  20. Senses, for they are blind, deaf, and mute, yet aware all the same.

HD: 20 (+1d20 additional HD)
AC: 19 (Charms, hides, or curses protecting them)
Speed: As man
Morale: 12 (-3 or -6 if found outside City-State and without Defiling power)
Attack: Defiling Pull, save vs Breath Weapon or take 3d6 damage, effects all within 5-100'.
Special:
Roll for one of the following options.
  1. They are a Master of the Way. Roll 4d6 to decide which Ways they know; they know all Psionic Powers of that Way. Know only 3 1st level spells.
  2. They have 6 of their 20 levels as Fighters or Specialist/Thieves.
  3. 1d8 of their skills have 6-in-6 chances of success.
  4. They have an assortment of magical swords.
  5. They are a lich, and their phylactery is held somewhere underneath the city.
  6. They use the Weird Magic System from Vaginas are Magic!/Eldritch Cock.
  7. They can Defile their City-State as many times per day as they want without losing spell slot intake.
  8. They are immune to any spell cast through Defiling.

THE CITY-STATE

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Tyr.
Same procedure as above. Some dice you will be rolling twice.

CITY NAME
  1. Mythopolis
  2. Asur
  3. Ka'Dinger
  4. Qahirah
CITY TITLE
  1. Where Hopes Dies
  2. The City of Metal
  3. The Haunted State
  4. Cradle of Suns
CITY LOCATION
  1. On top a sprawling oasis.
  2. A battlefield where grass grew from the bodies.
  3. The shores of the Sea of Silt.
  4. Inside a canyon wall in the Tablelands.
  5. Bordering the Forest Ridge.
  6. An crater-lake inside the Sea of Silt.
MAIN TRADE
  1. Slaves
  2. Food (Fruits, Meats, Humans, or Crops)
  3. Alcohols
  4. Old-world secrets.
  5. Weapons, armors, and mercernaries.
  6. Lumber & textiles
DEFINING LANDMARK
  1. A great obsidian obelisk carved with the history of the City-State.
  2. The oasis at its center, whose water is the color of sapphires.
  3. A massive, blue city wall with heliographs of the City-State's religion burned onto it.
  4. A tower filled with strange gardens and entrail divinations tha towers a thousand feet into the sky.
  5. Its ziggurats, atop which domed palisades sit.
  6. Skull racks, where the heads of criminals, heretics, and assassins hang.
  7. The city is terraced, raises higher and higher until one reaches the center.
  8. It is only visible as a mirage until one has reached its borders.
FAMED FOR ITS...
  1. Intellect Fortresses, of which there are many, each inhabited by another Master of the Way.
  2. Seers, oracles, and diviners, who use both elemental and entrail-based divination to grasp the future.
  3. Gladiator arenas, where strange creatures, wild talents, and scarred slaves fight to the death.
  4. Slave trade. Pleasure slaves and laborers are the most common, and few are as beautiful or as heat resistant.
  5. Tyranny. The laws here are draconian and uncompromising.
  6. Lushness. The oasis is massive and a forest is in constant bloom 'round its edges.
  7. Ruins. Underneath the city are the sprawling ruins of the Old World, filled with yet unmined metals and treasures.
  8. Diverse ecology, as strange creatures, all some manner of psionic or strange, can be found within the borders of the City-State's domain.
  9. Lack of slaves. Here, all men are free, and all men are artist, and all men work.
  10. Military. Every man, woman, and child is trained in the arts of murder and expected to ply them at some point.
DISTRICTS
Roll 1d6d12. Circle each d12 rolled and reference the table for what kind of neighborhood has been created. Remember to rename the districts with something thematic to the city itself.
  1. Scrimshaw. This district is dedicated to the creation of weapons and armor from Athas's detritus.
  2. Well-Nobles. Here the well and food nobles live, safely protected by templars and slaves. Also where the wells are.
  3. Freeman's District. Where the City-State's freemen live, work, and engage in countless dramas.
  4. Blood Zones. Slums built on the outside of the city's wall, filled with slaves. Named as so because of the violences that happen here.
  5. Slave Field: Crops. The countless crop fields that feed the city.
  6. Slave Field: Mining. A series of mines into the ruins or veins underground for precious materials.
  7. Worship Districts. Where different forms of worship, always to the Sorcerer-King, are performed. Also where Templars live.
  8. Gate Towns. Visitors, including merchants, must spend time here before being allowed into the city's heart.
  9. Bazaars. Where trading happens. Open 1d20+10 days a month.
  10. Red Sun District. A pleasure district, filled with slaves, strange drugs, and psionic meditations.
  11. War Streets. Where both the city's militia and its guardsmen are barracked. This district also has jails and torture prisons as well.
  12. The Defiled Heart. The palisades of the richest, most powerful, and most favored of the Sorcerer-King, as well as their own palace.
DISTRICT LANDMARKS
When you create a district roll a d20 1d4 times across the map. Circle the areas and refer to the chart to see what landmarks are here.
  1. Gladiator Pit. Where weekly, sometimes daily, blood games are held.
  2. Torture Platforms. Where enemies of the City-State or Sorcerer-King are tortured and executed.
  3. Foreign Caravan. Visitors from a distant Athasian City-State or tribe. Odd things can be found on sell here.
  4. Well. 5-in-6 chance to be dried. Otherwise, it's a forgotten treasure ready to be mined.
  5. Undiscovered Ruin Entrance. An as-of-yet untapped treasure that can be found. Likely dangerous.
  6. Noble Estate. Either a crop or well-noble. 2-in-6 chance that a Master of the Way is teaching here.
  7. Slave Slum. A shantytown where slaves are kept. Patrolled by templars or other hired help.
  8. False Home. The family that lives here are paid handsomely to hide the Preserver base underneath their home.
  9. Monster Pens. Where strange creatures for the Gladiator Pit or the militia are kept, fed, and bred.
  10. Trade Caravan. A trade caravan just recently let into the city. Contains 1. Food 2. Alcohols 3. Weapons/Armors 4. General supplies.
  11. Bard's Theatre. A small, open-sky theatre where singers and dancers perform regularly. 
  12. Sorcerer-King Monument. Some kind of monument to the current Sorcerer-King. Offerings are left here.
  13. Bard's Alley. Alleyways that usually go unpatrolled. Filled with whisperers and criminals.
  14. Arables. Farmland, though small and quaint. Milled by slaves.
  15. War Maker. Famed creator of weapons and armors.
  16. Unmarked Building. Where the most dangerous criminals are kept, and where strange things are done.
  17. Untended Secret Garden. A strange thing that should not exist. 
  18. Pleasure House. As advertised.
  19. Storage House. Where food, water, or other goods are kept.
  20. Sorcerer-King's Vacation House. The second heart of the city.

The Theurge; a Recurring Antagonist in my Dark Sun Games

He is eight feet tall and not a single hair dares weed his body. Both eyes are sootblack and his laugh is loud and hearty and his voice a susurrus that cannot and should not be ignored. Every muscle across his frame is covered in tight skin that allows it to ripple under the Dark Sun's ruby light. He is the color of porcelein. He burns, and he bleeds, but he neither scars nor cripples. A grinding mind sits enthroned in his skull and it rules the Way as Sorcerer-Kings do their city-states and no other laws are permitted to exist when one is within the scope of his sight or the threat of his voice or the death of his thoughts. Thrice has he met the Dragon and a dozen times have the slavers he commands been killed to a man and every time he has the supped on their ribs and danced on the graves he dug for his precious brothers and sisters while laughing and singing his own praises that tell the world that he will never die. Never once has this song been a lie and never it will be and even when Athas has decided to turn to dust or once more live green the Theurge will remain and he will dance and he will sing and he will dance and he will sing and never will he sleep.

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Engineers capture well his image.


The Theurge

HD: 20+20
AC: As naked
Speed: As man
Attack: 2d12 mind thrust, +10 to hit.
Morale: 12
Special: 
  • Has a 6-in-6 Psionics skill.
  • Knows all 12 powers under both Psychoportation and Telepathy.
  • Has the power Your Life is My Life. When someone dies within his presence, he psionically consumes the years of life they would have lived. In this way, he regenerates 6hp per round and will never age.
  • Is usually found as apart (but never the leader of) a crew of 1d10 slavers with 1d12 slaves in tow.
  • Saves as a 20th level Magic-User.
  • Will rarely fight enemies to the death, either theirs or his. Will either enslave or reduce to 0 HP, stabilize, and let them live.
  • Anyone who has been hit by one of his mind thrusts has their location known to him at all times.
  • Can create an Intellect Fortress as he wills.


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Fucks with the party, enslaves them, watches them escapes, continues the game. Based heavily off of the Judge from Blood Meridian.