Friday, November 26, 2010

Historical Religious Pluralism

I've been keeping a stray eye out for historical examples of  temples and churches that have altars and chapels to multiple deities, relating to the vulgar monotheistic-polytheistic thematic mish-mash implied by the world's most popular role-playing game. This one on Redwald is particularly interesting, being from England:
EDWIN was so zealous for the worship of truth, that he likewise persuaded Eorpwald, king of the East Saxons, and son of Redwald, to abandon his idolatrous superstitions, and with his whole province to receive the faith and sacraments of Christ. And indeed his father Redwald had long before been admitted to the sacrament of the Christian faith in Kent, but in vain; for on his return home, he was seduced by his wife and certain perverse teachers, and turned back from the sincerity of the faith; and thus his latter state was worse than the former; so that, like the ancient Samaritans, he seemed at the same time to serve Christ and the gods whom he had served before; and in the same temple he had an altar to sacrifice to Christ, and another small one to offer victims to devils; which temple, Aldwulf, king of that same province, who lived in our time testifies had stood until his time, and that he had seen it when he was a boy. The aforesaid King Redwald was noble by birth, though ignoble in his actions, being the son of Tytilus, whose father was Uuffa, from whom the kings of the East Angles are called Uuffings.
The Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book II, Chapter XV

Friday, November 12, 2010


:Al of Beyond the Black Gate has a new post up entitled "Feats" for your old school game, which I fully intend to mine for ideas. It is much in the same vein as my list of "disciplines" for Warriors (my replacement of a Fighting-Man class). Disciplines have two goals for HH
1. Give the players of Fighting-Men interesting choices as they level.
2. Get rid of Thieves and Fighter sub-classes while throwing a bone to players that love them.
A sub-goal of #1 is to motivate exploration and the formation of social ties which may offer expanded access to disciplines for the players of Warriors, just as they can grant access to expanded spell lists for Wizards. #2 fairly flexibly satisfies the need to make different flavors of non-supernatural characters: it's easy to mix the tropes of fighter, ranger and rogue to whatever degree is appropriate to the character concept.

In any case, here's the (newly revised) entry from the Characters chapter:

Disciplines: Warriors , even at first level, are veterans of combat with substantial training or natural ability, and thus at least some skill in a particular martial discipline. The Warrior selects one such discipline at first level and an additional one at every level divisible by three. Disciplines are arranged in broad categories to provide guidance in creating a character with a particular focus or specialization. Certain other advanced or secret disciplines may be available in the campaign, but they are the exclusive domain of particular military orders, secret societies, etc. If you are not sure which discipline you should choose, Champion is suggested.
  • Athlete
    • Pentathlete: gain +1 to checks involving wrestling, running, jumping or throwing
    • Marathoner: can maintain a forced march for a full day with no penalty
    • Freerunner: gain +1 to checks involving tumbling, jumping, and traversing
  • Archer
    • Quick Shot: attack twice per round with missile weapons
    • Longbowman: can effectively use the war longbow, dealing 1d8 damage
    • Skirmisher: can move and make a missile attack in the same round
  • Armsman
    • Champion: attack twice per round with melee weapons
    • Slayer: make one attack hitting all targets within reach of 1 HD or less
    • Soldier: can move and make an attack in the same round without charging
  • Criminal
    • Burglar: gain +1 to checks related to picking pockets, and disabling locks or  traps
    • Assassin: may quietly disable with a garrote, sap, shiv, or sucker punch on surprise
    • Smuggler: gain +1 to checks related to hiding, appraising, and fencing goods
  • Horseman
    • Lancer: use your mount’s Might when making a mounted charge
    • Cavalry: can move and attack in the same round while mounted
    • Horse Archer: can move and fire a bow while riding a galloping mount
  • Ranger
    • Scout: gain +1 to checks related to surprise and perception
    • Hunter: gain +1 to checks related to tracking and hunting
    • Mountaineer: gain +1 to checks related to climbing and may climb sheer surfaces

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Experience & Advancement

Experience Points
So, how does my heartbreaker handle experience points? Here's the basics:

1 XP for every silver penny worth of treasure recovered by or awarded for adventuring
1 XP for every silver penny frittered away on tithes, carousing, ostentation, training, etc.
100 XP per HD of foes slain or otherwise overcome, up to several times that for monsters with especially dangerous special abilities (note that this is a comparatively minor source of XP). 

Given that HH uses the silver penny as the base unit of currency (more on that later), the first and last entries are bog-standard, whereas the second is an extra kicker that has much in common with various rules for drinking and wenching from the hobby's elder days. XP is conventionally awarded when treasure is divided, but that doesn't necessarily grant a new level right away. I don’t mind the double-counting of treasure, that just means its okay to give out less without retarding progress and that players face an interesting choice between getting more XP and making useful purchases for adventuring.

Gaining Rank

First off, characters in HH don't have levels, they have Ranks. Level is a word much over-used in D&D, so in HH it is solely relegated to describing sections of a dungeon. Similarly, spells come in grades of Complexity instead of level.

Anyway, after accumulating the necessary experience points, characters require 1 week of downtime in a relatively safe location in order to progress to the next Rank. At this time the character’s Hit Dice increase, directly improving the character’s fighting ability, hit points, and Saving Throws. All Hit Dice are re-rolled at each level, but hit points never decrease as a result (keep the old value if it is higher). Spell-casting characters also immediately gain the ability to cast more and higher-complexity spells.

Earning Titles

Part of character advancement is the renown and social status that comes with the character’s growing wealth and ability. While class ranks are not a part of the world as recognized by characters in-game, class titles are, and society in general or the character’s superiors will come to give the character new recognition as each new tier of ability is reached or shortly thereafter, often with some ceremony or other official mark, unless the character is unusually unknown or infamous. Titles are specified for Ranks 0, 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12, which are also tied to various class ability graduations.

Training and Education

Characters will have to seek out opportunities for training and research in order to learn new spells and Warrior disciplines, which may be done during the week of downtime needed to level up at the referee’s option. Characters may also attempt to learn new trades, spells, or languages at any time; this simply requires time and the availability of a tutor or other leaning materials. (Note that I use a variant of the rule from Lamentations of the Flame Princess that allows characters to know a language with a die roll, instead of having to pick them from the beginning).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Screw Tradition

The new ability score list:
Might (M): muscle and the ability to apply it. Might primarily relates to hand-to-hand combat, adding its modifier to rolls to-hit, damage, and when attempting feats of strength.
Kenning (K): observation, reason and memory. The Kenning modifier applies to the roll to know languages and to the arts of the Wizard. You play the character’s intelligence and cleverness, whereas Kenning represents their in-game knowledge and senses.
Faith (F): courage, faith, and intuition. The Faith modifier applies to rolls to the arts of the Cleric such as the roll banish horrors. You decide if the character chooses valour or cowardice, generosity or greed, whereas Faith represents their ability to call on supernatural aid in times of need and temptation.
Nimbleness (N): coordination and reflexes. The Nimbleness modifier applies to defense and rolls to perform feats of athletics.
Health (H): general fitness and endurance. The Health modifier applies to hit points per Hit Die and rolls to perform feats of endurance.
Wyrd (W): the brightness of a character’s thread in the tapestry of fate, leadership and force of personality. The Wyrd  modifier applies to reaction rolls to influence NPCs, the number of henchmen or vassals allowed in the character’s retinue, and the loyalty of those under the character’s command. You play the character’s social skills, whereas Wyrd represents intangible fate that binds people together.

Record the appropriate bonus for each ability score: