Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Gaming

It's that time of year. Format inspired by Noisms's list.

Games Played (in descending order of frequency, with the bottom half being one shots)


  • D&D (3.5) [as player & as GM]
  • Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game [GM]
  • D&D (AD&D 1st Edition) [player]
  • Traveller (Mongoose) [GM]
  • D&D (B/X) [GM]
  • D&D (ACKS) [player]
  • Dungeon World [player]
  • Technoir [player]
  • Other Dust [GM]
  • Marvel Super Heroes [GM]
  • Durance [*player]
  • The Fantasy Trip [GM]
  • Bulldogs [player]

LEAST FUN GAMES OF THE YEAR
As a player: Bulldogs. I played this at Gen Con in a demo session. Not interested in sharing the table with some stranger miming getting a blowjob in a space bar, double-plus not interested in the GM egging him on. Fuck that whole game session.

As a GM: Probably our last Traveller session. I've run it twice. The first session was a success, but the second session tanked. I'm thinking about how to restructure my approach to get this one right.

MOST FUN GAMES OF THE YEAR
As a player: AD&D 1st edition. Over two sessions, we played the original Ravenloft module. A fucking laugh riot, with the GM enthusiastically reading all the boxed text and joining us in taking the piss out of the railroading (while also enforcing it). Seriously good beer and pretzels gaming.

As a GM: Street Fighter. Got to run this maybe five or six times this year, and man, that game just never gets old for me. The session where the PCs (loosely affiliated with Interpol) fought their way through a train being simultaneously attacked by Shadoloo agents, Illuminati agents, ninjas, and the sinister terrorist-assassin organization known as Chimera in order to protect an experimental spaceship was probably the most fun, but the Monaco session with the car chases and diamond heist plot was good times too, and then there was the Shin Shinobi-kai (ninja warrior, imagined as it would take place in the Street Fighter world). Yep. Street Fighter.

The MVP award to all my friends I game with. There's 6-10 of us, we game every Friday, we play a variety of things, and we trade off GMing so I get to play as well as run.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Outlaw Alchemy

It starts with this: alchemy is illegal.

Alchemists work from dingy labs hidden away from local authorities. They and their associates smuggle rare ingredients to create potions, which they then smuggle out to the clients that need them. To feel good. To be stronger. To be invisible. To see things.

Who deals with alchemists? Adventurers. Adventurers need the potions that alchemists have to offer. And they'll do what they have to in order to get them. After all, adventurers already live outside the law. Robbers, thugs, dealers in stolen antiquities. Do you think they care whether potions are legal?

They do not.

Maybe all alchemy is illegal. It is dangerous, it is occult, and it gives people access to power that ruling elites don't want them to have. It takes years of study to master arcane magic, years of prayer and devotion to be granted powers by the gods. But anyone can drink a potion. Anyone can become a threat with alchemists around.

Or maybe there's a guild for potions and other controlled substances, a guild operating with the charter of the ruling elites, and the guild decides what can be sold and what can't. And the guild controls who can get a prescription to a potion, and who can't. All according to the charter. If you work outside the guild, you work outside the law.

In the Rainy City, there is a guild, and the guild controls and licenses alchemy. If you work outside the guild, you are a threat to the guild. There is no law to protect you from the guild. So don't get caught.

In the North, all alchemy is illegal. It is occult, and it is foreign. Alchemy and southern magic are not welcome here. Some say it is needed for the war effort, but mankind is not yet that desperate.

In Pathfinder, the alchemist class is dangerous for another reason. Alchemists of Pathfinder are bomb makers. Do you trust them? Living in your community?

Finally, here is an Outlaw Alchemist for ACKS (pdf version). This is built on Fighting 1b and Thievery 3. The class wears armor and fights as a thief, has bargain, silent movement, hide in shadows, and hear noise, and has the ability to craft potions and create a homunculus. At 9th level, the alchemist gets a hideout and followers that can engage in hijinks. This class can be used instead of the scholarly alchemist I posted last week, or it can be used alongside it, with the scholarly alchemist functioning as a guild alchemist and the outlaw alchemist filling the role of illegal purveyor of potions.


Outlaw Alchemist

Prime Requisite:  INT
Requirements:     None
Hit Dice:              1d4
Maximum Level:  14

Alchemists sell pleasure, power, and life itself in a bottle. Do you want to be stronger? You can be. Do you want to slip into your enemy’s house unseen? It is possible. Do you want to control the minds of those around you? That too can be had, for a price. Alchemy is illegal, but that does not stop people from needing it. And where there is need, the alchemist is there to sate it.

At first level, alchemists hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every four levels of experience (i.e., as thieves). Because of their need of stealth and free movement, alchemists cannot wear armor heavier than leather, and they cannot use shields. They may use any missile weapons and any one-handed melee weapons, and may wield a weapon in each hand if desired.

An alchemist can identify common alchemical substances, potions, and poisons with proficiency throw of 11+. This is equivalent to taking the Alchemy proficiency once, and the alchemist may use proficiencies to increase his abilities in this area. Alchemists are also skilled with medicinal herbs and mixtures and can use drugs to treat wounds and diagnose and treat illnesses among humans and demi-humans. A proficiency throw of 11+ enables an alchemist to identify whether a disease is magical or mundane, and if mundane, diagnose it. A patient under the alchemist’s care naturally heals an extra 1d3 hit points each day. This is equivalent to taking the Healing proficiency once, and the alchemist may use proficiencies to improve his abilities in this area (i.e., to use salves and mixtures to neutralize poison, cure disease, or cure light wounds.)

Alchemy is business, and a good alchemist knows his business. The alchemist gets the best deals available for potions, goods, services, and information. Any items the character purchases costs 10% less than the listed price and any items he sells go for 10% more than the listed price. This functions as the Bargaining proficiency. If both the buyer and seller have the Bargaining proficiency, the opposed Bargainers should make reaction rolls. Whichever character scores the higher result gets the discount. The alchemist may take the Bargaining proficiency multiple times as noted in the Proficiencies chapter of ACKS. 

Alchemists have the ability to move silently, hide in shadows, and hear noise as a thief of their level. When an alchemist attempts to make use of one of his skills, the character or Judge will make a proficiency throw of 1d20. (Usually the Judge will make rolls for these abilities, because an alchemist is not always aware when he has failed.) After applying any relevant modifiers (e.g. due to the complexity of a task), the result is compared to the target value listed on the Thief Skills table on p. 23 of the ACKS rulebook. A result that is greater than or equal to the value listed for the proficiency throw that corresponds to the alchemist’s level is a success. A roll of 20 is always a success, and a roll of 1 is always a failure.

Moving Silently: Alchemists may move with total silence. When successful, even keen eared guards will not hear the movements of an alchemist. However, the alchemist always thinks he is successful in this skill, and will not know otherwise unless and until others react to his presence. Alchemists may move silently at ½ their standard combat movement rate without penalty. If they move greater than ½ speed, they take a -5 penalty to the proficiency throw. If they run, they take a -10 penalty.

Hiding in Shadows: An alchemist may attempt to skulk unseen in the cover of darkness. An alchemist will always think he is successful in this skill, and will not know otherwise until others react to his presence. An alchemist will remain hidden so long as he stays motionless. If he moves, he must make a new proficiency throw to hide.

Hearing Noises: Alchemists can attempt to listen for noises in a cave or hallway and at a door or other locations. The alchemist must be quiet and in a quiet environment.

At 5th level, an alchemist develops true mastery of potioncraft. At this point, he may brew potions as a mage of his level.

Beginning at 6th level, an alchemist can create a homunculus, a fully-formed miniature version of himself. Some homunculi perfectly match the appearance of their creator, while others are malformed in some way. The homunculus will be of the same alignment as the alchemist. The homunculus always has a number of Hit Dice and maximum hit points equal to ½ its creator’s own; Intelligence equal to its creator’s Intelligence; and a number of general and class proficiencies equal to its creator, selected from the alchemist’s class list. The homunculus can always understand any languages spoken by its creator, and the alchemist will be able to understand the homunculus’s mumbling and burbling, though no one else will without resorting to a spell such as Tongues. The homunculus may learn to articulate one of the languages it already understands by selecting the Language proficiency. The homunculus is utterly loyal to its master and will watch over his lab, perform services, act as an alchemist’s assistant (if he has the appropriate proficiencies), and generally obey his commands. While the homunculus is within 30', the character receives +1 on saving throws, but if the homunculus is ever killed, the character must save versus Death or instantly take damage equal to the homunculus’s maximum total hit points. A character cannot create a new homunculus if it is slain until he has gained a level of experience.

When an alchemist attains 9th level, he can establish a hideout, and 2d6 alchemist apprentices of 1st level will come to work with the character. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for ruffians. A successful character might use these followers to start an Alchemist’s Guild. Rules for hideouts are detailed in the Campaign chapter of ACKS.




Alchemist Level Progression

Experience
Level
Title
Hit Dice
Special Abilities
0
1
Analyst
1d4
Alchemy, Healing, Bargaining, Move Silently, Hear Noise, Hide in Shadows
1,250
2
Pharmacologist
2d4

2,500
3
Apothecary
3d4

5,000
4
Chemist
4d4

10,000
5
Distiller
5d4
Potioncraft
20,000
6
Sublimator
6d4
Craft homunculus
40,000
7
Conjunctionist
7d4

80,000
8
Alchemist
8d4

180,000
9
Master Alchemist
9d4
Hideout
280,000
10
Master Alchemist , 10th level
9d4+1*

380,000
11
Master Alchemist , 11th level
9d4+2*

480,000
12
Master Alchemist , 12th level
9d4+3*

580,000
13
Master Alchemist , 13th level
9d4+4*

680,000
14
Philosopher
9d4+5*

*Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored
Alchemists are restricted to magic items usable by thieves.

Alchemist Proficiency List: Alchemy, Alertness, Ambushing, Arcane Dabbling, Bargaining, Climbing, Command, Craft, Diplomacy, Healing, Intimidation, Knowledge, Language, Leadership, Lip Reading, Magical Engineering, Mapping, Mystic Aura, Profession, Riding, Running, Signaling, Skirmishing, Skulking, Sniping, Swashbuckling, Weapon Finesse, Wakefulness

Template:
Corner Alchemist
Proficiencies:
Bargaining (II), Running
Starting Equipment:
longsword, dagger, leather cuirass, worn cloak, leather belt, high boots, backpack, quill and ink, satchel of herbs and powders (including 1 lb each of belladonna, birthwort, comfrey,  goldenrod, wolfsbane, and woundwort), book of alchemical recipes, 1 week’s iron rations, 25 gp
Corner Alchemist Template: This pre-generated template represents an urban street corner alchemist. The Template is ready for adventure. However, if your alchemist’s INT is 13 or greater, you may pick one or more additional general proficiencies before play if you’d like (see Starting Proficiencies in Chapter 4 of ACKS).

Alchemist Attack and Saving Throws

Level
Petrification & Paralysis
Poison & Death
Blast & Breath
Staffs & Wands
Spells
Attack Throws
1-2
13+
13+
16+
14+
15+
10+
3-4
12+
12+
15+
13+
14+
9+
5-6
11+
11+
14+
12+
13+
8+
7-8
10+
10+
13+
11+
12+
7+
9-10
9+
9+
12+
10+
11+
6+
11-12
8+
8+
11+
9+
10+
5+
13-14
7+
7+
10+
8+
9+
4+

The inspirations for this are multiple, but it all started when a friend of mine played a non-guild alchemist in a rainy city campaign as, well, a bit of a drug dealer. The rest was just following that to its logical conclusion.