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 STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)

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Garthanos
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:19 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
I heartily approve. I'll try to get additional monsters and an encounter building guide into the GM's Guide material at the end of the PDF sometime this week to make running at least some type of campaign with it possible.

My son sounds interested he likes the Lore.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:52 am

Awesome. Glad to hear he likes the Lore. While an interesting setting won’t save an abysmal system, an interesting setting can help a good system get noticed a lot more easily. Well that and art... art and layout makes a huge difference in how systems get perceived these days.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:45 am

Minor update for this Sunday and more a fluff tweak than anything else. While working on avatar-themed opponents for the GM's Guide I hit upon the idea that, if an Avatar followed the primal path it could essentially be in its own patron spirit (i.e. the power comes from within itself). I then made a slight expansion of the concept and added that Elves with the Potent Spark benefit who take the Astral Path could actually be their own astral patron (i.e. a lesser astral power).

This has zero impact on how anything plays mechanically; the rules state once you get your powers from the Astral or Primal sources they're yours to do with as you will. But from a fluff/RP point of view it opens up the design space a bit for avatars and elves (particularly the Archons) as the mechanical framework for non-Earthbound Primal and Astral Spirits. While its only going to be mentioned in the GM's Guide under the NPC-only Demonic Spellcasting Path, I think the same rule will apply for Malfeans (specifically thinking of the Cambions; the direct descendants of the demons whose connection to demonic power is strong enough that if they embrace their demonic nature they can be their own source of power).

Okay, back to work for me.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:50 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Minor update for this Sunday and more a fluff tweak than anything else. While working on avatar-themed opponents for the GM's Guide I hit upon the idea that, if an Avatar followed the primal path it could essentially be in its own patron spirit (i.e. the power comes from within itself). I then made a slight expansion of the concept and added that Elves with the Potent Spark benefit who take the Astral Path could actually be their own astral patron (i.e. a lesser astral power).

This has zero impact on how anything plays mechanically; the rules state once you get your powers from the Astral or Primal sources they're yours to do with as you will. But from a fluff/RP point of view it opens up the design space a bit for avatars and elves (particularly the Archons) as the mechanical framework for non-Earthbound Primal and Astral Spirits. While its only going to be mentioned in the GM's Guide under the NPC-only Demonic Spellcasting Path, I think the same rule will apply for Malfeans (specifically thinking of the Cambions; the direct descendants of the demons whose connection to demonic power is strong enough that if they embrace their demonic nature they can be their own source of power).

Okay, back to work for me.

I have thought in this sense for Paladins since way way back, at my tablewe rejected the oops you lost it bit fairly early back then... are you a champion who chooses to embody a god...or the embodiment of a god who never chose any of it or someone born of divine blood who has these boons because of it?

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:28 pm

Chris24601 wrote:


Heck, the PRINCESS BUILD is now its entire own class that gets better buffing than even the captain (at the cost of strong attacks of their own).


Think I missed this .... but from the one who coined the term Princess Build and arguably conceived it, that is ALL IN support for a strangely common but simultaneously fringe character .

My son is playing a 5e version of this actually so huzzah that one is entering into the flow.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:30 pm

Chris24601 wrote:

And while you currently can't make a berserker sidekick (because they don't get the strong/swift/berserker choice for balance reasons) I'll figure out a way to make it possible just because you had that concept and its awesome.

Gilgamesh had a beastman / tarzan archetype as a side kick. Arguably one of those Batman needs a robin significant ones.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:16 pm

So I don't know exactly what happened, but when this forum moved I couldn't find it for a while.  When it happened I went to google trying to find it to no avail.  Even started searching for Terror and Tactics itself thinking maybe Chris might put up his updates on another site, couldn't find it.  So I just started keeping an eye on ENworld hoping that Chris would start posting there.  Maybe I just gave up too quickly, maybe I put in the wrong search parameters, but whatever the cause I searched for this site yesterday and found it, so yay for that.  I had 6 pages to read through since I was last here, but I was just happy to have more to read and that this project looks to be moving along pretty well.

I don't have a lot to say game design wise.  Just wanted to say I love what your doing so far and look forward to buying a finished product.  Terrors and Tactics has more customizability in player options I've ever seen in a class based framework, without losing the inherent ease of use and balance it has over point buy.  Breaking down all the class powers into their component parts gets rid of the single biggest problem with making a 4th edition like game, updating, revising and renaming hundreds of individual powers.  The world building is interesting and different enough from all the available settings out there to make me want to add it to my favorites ( Eberron, Nentir Vale, and Dark Sun ), and the amount of work you're putting into mechanical balance and playtesting fills me with confidence this will be worth buying and playing.

Chris24601 wrote:
One other thing I've decided to push ahead with that swings T&T back in a slightly more 'narrative' direction is to shift XP into the optional rule category and make the default leveling system 'milestone' based. In practice it's what I've been using in virtually every level-based game I've run or played in for at least the last 15-20 years, so why am I trying to shoehorn in a system I'd never use?

Sacred Cows and because the XP budget is the single best encounter building tool I've seen in any game system. But there's no reason you can't use the latter without having the former and those reading this know how I feel about Sacred Cows (break out the BBQ).

So XP values are becoming CP (Challenge Point) values and are used for encounter-building, but default leveling will be milestone based (with GM guidelines and options) with converting CP to XP (or silver to XP or an accomplishment-based XP table; think Palladium Books) as optional rules for those looking for another feel.

Thanks for that, I always hated experience points in rpg's, and wondered why so many seem reluctant to axe them.  Even in video games I don't feel they add anything.  It makes you want to maximize your XP gains, leading to making decisions based not on what's best in the moment but what gets you that larger XP gain.  Exploring every nook and cranny of the world, talking to everyone and trying to complete every little task they might give you, getting into fights you could avoid just because your not rewarded XP for not fighting.  Sure, in a tabletop rpg these problems aren't as bad, but it still places that seed of an idea in players head making them think about XP unless they actively try not to ( Good players should, but the game should encourage good behavior in new players with the mechanics by RAW ).  So what do they give you that makes them worth it?  Nothing I say, sacred cow barbeque mmm MMM good!
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:45 pm

Hey all!

I’m still alive, but I had to go a bit radio silent because outside factors gave me an unexpected deadline on the whole Terrors & Tactics project.

Specifically, the guy who does my dayjob website did a bunch of research on what it would take to build a site for T&T with a blog, forums, properly secure storefront and PDF watermarking. Basically, I have until the end of September to finish up the GM’s Guide text (Player’s Guide text is done) so I can start to gear up for the Kickstarter (and cover the costs for the website).

If I fail to hit the deadline, I’m still going to have to pay my web guy for his research time, I just won’t get anything out of it.

So... I’ve been writing up a storm this past month and a half (and will be for the rest of this month) without free time for much else. But since I got the PM notification of a PM asking about how the project was going I figured I should give an update.

So, what’s up?

- Fetches (i.e. Shadow-based player species) are now in the Player’s Guide.

- Elves with the Potent Bloodline ability now have the option to select an Aspect instead, essentially allowing you to use the Elf species to create all manner of humanoid Astral servitors (wanna play a Succubus stuck in the Mortal World? Changeling plus Seductive Aspect is a solid way to do it... the list of D&D monsters you can’t play as in T&T just got even smaller; pretty much down to non-sapient beasts, undead and demons... and rules for the demon species plus the undead spellcasting path will be in the “custom opponents” section of the GM’s Guide).

- The “half-species” (i.e. half-elf, half-avatar, etc.) have been renamed as “bloodlines” (i.e. elven bloodline, avatar bloodline, etc.) since the traits can persist for several generations and a Mutant bloodline was added.

- Cantrips got a rework to make them a bit less overtly D&D based (ex. Mage Hand became Telekinesis, Prestidigitation became Spellcraft). Likewise, a new “advanced” primal utility was added based on opponent design work called “Adapt Environment.” This is a largely role playing ability available starting at level 6 which causes changes in the surrounding landscape based on your other primal utilities if you reside in one place for an extended period of time (mechanically it begins when you rest for at least six hours per day in the same location for a week and grows with additional time to a size based on your Focus score, though it starts to fade if you leave the area for more than 24 hours). So if you’re playing a dragon or unicorn or other fantastic avatar-based creature (or just a character with a lot of primal utilities) and make a place your home, aspects of your nature will start to occur in the surrounding area. Plants become especially lush and harvests abundant if you have plant spirit, people start having prophetic dreams if you have Ancestor spirit, hot springs and steam vents start to appear with fire spirit, etc.

- The Action format got normalized with that used by opponents; Name (action type): Trigger / Check / Hit or Effect (Miss). The key evolution in design here was the realization that “Range” is actually just a trigger condition for being able to use an action. This allowed for a much more consistent presentation of action information across the entire game.

- (EoE) durations got replaced with ‘real time’ durations (typically 1 minute/10 rounds for combat abilities and 10 minutes for less combat focused abilities) due to how (EoE) was interacting with some abilities (ex. the improved flight abilities that allowed its use as minor or free action until the end of the encounter).

- The opponent layout was normalized and how to read the entries got included in the section on Beasts & Tack.

- The Opponents section of the GM’s Guide is expanding by the day. 170 are complete with fluff text (finished unicorns, sphinxes and sprites today) another 24 are being formatted and there’s about a dozen or more outstanding to complete the list. The full “Reading an Opponent Statistic Block” section is complete, including opponent specific keywords.

- The “Creating Custom Opponents” section needs polish, but is mechanically sound. There are two versions; ‘quick-and-dirty’ that gives you all the mechanical targets based on the opponent’s level and type and ‘detailed’ that allows you to build an opponent by converting a character built using the Player’s Guide into a standard, elite or champion tier opponent. The “How to Create NPCs” section also fits in here and is mostly done except that the ‘detailed’ custom opponents rules need to replace the old ‘combat NPC’ rules I had written a while back.

- Trap mechanics are mostly working, but I’m still fiddling with their exact CP values based on test feedback.

- The “How to GM” advice section is the least developed. The mechanical bits like Encounter Building guidelines, treasure and optional rules are all there, but the basic advice of things like “plotted vs. sandbox” campaigns, things to avoid, etc. are what I most need to get moving on (they’re the least needed by the people actually doing my testing, but the most needed by new players/GMs who pick up the books.

- Due to space and time considerations my default setting map shrunk a bit to just the Blackspire adventure hub and its immediate neighbors. It looks like my first supplement might not be “The Blood Wastes of Bestia”, but the full Old Praetoria region (i.e. Blackspire and El-Phara with Ironhold, Riverhold, Emberfalls, Winterhaven, etc. added) instead. Maybe it’ll even get further subdivided into “Adventure Hubs” with Ironhold and Riverhold each getting their own supplements. I’ll worry about that once the core books are done.

* * * *

I’ll try to keep watching this thread throughout the rest of the month, but my replies will necessarily be limited until I get past this writing deadline.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:13 am

Thanks for the update.  Deadlines can be a bit of a double edged sword.  There's always the fear that a rushed project won't be as good as you want it to be.  But sometimes having a set deadline can be a motivating factor that leads to some of your best work.  Either way it's stressful as hell so keep your attention on your work, no need to worry about here.  Good luck!  I look forward to seeing your website.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:37 am

The funny thing is it's a deadline I ended up putting on myself, but now has real consequences. I'm the one who told the web guy that I needed about 60 days (first week of October) to wrap up writing the GM's Guide.

But you're right, it is motivating. The opponent section is done but for reformatting some entries and a few additions I think make sense. I'm taking the Adapt Environment concept from the avatars and applying it to demons and undead... the presence of large numbers or a very strong undead creature will start to corrupt the land around it, days will more often be overcast, chill breezes will rustle the dead leaves clinging to withered trees, etc.

I'm also adding rules on demonic possession to the demon section (basically, the one possessed has to allow the demon in, but the demon worshipers aren't above torturing victims until they break and say yes to make the pain stop). Its basically the flip side of the Primal Path in that, there the primal spirits enter a willing person, but they work with that person and never subvert their free will (i.e. symbiosis). The demons still need the person to be willing initially, but once inside they take over and crush the person beneath their immortal will (i.e. parasitism).

True demons need an anchor to manifest in the material world. That anchor is either a spell (meaning they only manifest until the spell ends), an object (the classic genie in a lamp) or a person (their preferred method). Primal spirits technically do too, but because they're part of the natural order instead of cast out or exiled, their anchors are whatever natural object or force they are meant to guide and protect.

I also solved one of my trap/hazard pricing issues with the realization that hazards, being obvious, are an equal threat to both sides (since both can potentially use it to their advantage) they don't need a challenge point cost at all, just a level (to judge the degree of danger a hazard poses to the PCs and/or opponents) and guidelines to leave enough non-hazard territory in the encounter area to keep the fight from turning into a slog.

That's all for now. Back to work for me.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:03 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Hey all!

I’m still alive, but I had to go a bit radio silent because outside factors gave me an unexpected deadline on the whole Terrors & Tactics project.

I noticed the radio silence here

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:24 am

Brief update under the "Its never too late to correct a problem if it comes up."

Something (I can't even remember what specifically at this point, its been a busy week) got me thinking about expectations vs. worst possible scenario and the numbers for PCs.

The short version is that I was basing my PC math on certain expectations that were more assumed than outright stated; that players would select an extra attack specialization once per tier (thus gaining the extra 'encounter attack' damage) and damage focus for their most used weapon (bumping damage per hit by 1-4 points over baseline).

But I've realized there's a problem in that assumption; That's HALF of the eight specializations a typical PC gets over their career and the other specialization options all have two-three ranks to them. This wouldn't be a problem if the effect on the math were minimal, just a choice of options.

But I sat down and ran the actual numbers. A PC using what I'd call 'default optimization' (two extra attacks and damage focus) deals about 50% more damage than one who skips the "obvious" choices for more thematic choices (ex. aeromancy or terramancy). Indeed, the autohit "energy missile" that deals Focus+level damage for a Maledictor outpaces the thematic character's primary attacks by 25%.

In other words... Extra Attack and Damage Focus are essentially FEAT TAXES. Worse they add up to HALF your available specializations just to break even with a Slayer's minor action attack (which, to be fair, was balanced around dealing as much damage as a basic weapon attack).

So I just did what 4E should have done; I built the Extra Attack (at levels 7 and 12) and Damage Focus (at level 2 for all, 7 and 12 for skilled since they're more likely to use multiple weapons than a spellcaster is to use multiple implements) into the archetypes so that every character reaches the default math. You can still take the utilities (Extra Attack only once for a total of four), but Extra Attack only bumps the average damage over a combat up by 5-10% IF the fight lasts longer than the expected length (at typical length you'll run out of opponents before you can use a fourth attack focus benefit) and once you have a Specialization bonus to damage, all extra Damage Focus selections do is increase the number of weapons/implements it applies to).

And I left the number of specializations gained alone; at eight. This gives you enough for two full specialization trees (basic, expert, master) and one at expert level (or a full multiclass specialization or mastery of a weapon or two or whatever other aspect you want) or four trees at expert level WITHOUT having to sacrifice your combat ability by not taking the "feat taxes."

So with that out of the way, back to the demons (literally; I'm wrapping up the demon entries today).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:35 am

So, time for an update.

* * * *

There are currently 215 opponents designed for the GMs Guide and solid rules for creating custom opponents in two flavors; quick and detailed; are in place. The detailed rules actually involve using selections from Player's Guide with a few adjustments to create standard, elite and champion opponents.

Since they're likely to be opponents, this detailed section also includes "playable" (in the sense that you could theoretically make a PC with them, they should be balanced, but its not been as rigorously checked as with the main species and arcane, astral and primal paths) options for a Demon species and the Demonic and Shadow (i.e. path of Undeath) spellcasting paths.

With those available as options in the GM's Guide, there's now a way to build every playable 4E race and class (even the vampire) in the core books.

* * * *

The optional rules section has also been locked in so you can tune the game to your desires. The list includes;

- Rolling More or No Damage Dice.
- Level 0 Characters.
- Negative Level Characters (for those who really want to start out as mundanes, -2 is for you).
- Infinite Levels (Level 16+ Characters).
- Broadened Abilities (continue to gain ability breadth without more power once you reach Level 15).
- Greater Retraining (especially recommended for new players).
- Incremental Advancement (turn 15 levels into 30 or more).
- Alternate Measuring Methods (using tape measures or theater of the mind).
- Simple Measurement (4E's count diagonals the same method).
- Simpler Bursts (4E style bursts)
- Abstract Cover (for Theater of the Mind)
- Static Condition Modifiers (replace advantage/disadvantage style rolls with static values like 4E).
- Determining Your Ability Scores (Point Buy and Random Roll methods)
- Experience Points (restore discreet XP awards instead of "level up after significant milestone for PCs" which is now the default).

* * * *

The Trap section is also complete... and got moved to the Player's Guide. This was done for two reasons.

First and foremost, the opponent section has eaten up a massive section of the GM's Guide (currently 150 pages before artwork) so I've been looking for anything I could cut from that book to keep it within a printable range (I'm basically capped at 300 pages of text if I want room for artwork and to still be able to have it printed affordably).

The reason it ended up in the Player's Guide specifically though is because Traps are things PCs can actually build and purchase; particularly since there are already rules in the Equipment section for building your own structures.

My general rule has been that if its something a PC can buy or do, it belongs in the Player's Guide.

* * * *

There have been a few updates on the Player's Guide side as well.

First and foremost, the Monastic background got split up a bit... the more spiritual aspects (ex. Contemplative, Meditation, Astral Projection) got moved to the Religious background (which was seriously lacking in options and shared a fair bit of overlap already). The monastic fighting arts utilities (ex. Unarmed Expert, Perfect Balance, Ki-Blast, Ki-Yell) along with a few new themed utilities got moved to a new category (Physical Adept) that is available to ALL Skilled classes (in the same way that the Arcane Path lets you choose Arcanist or Artisan utilities, Astral lets you choose religious utilities and Primal lets you pick Primal Utilities).

So if you wanna be Hercules or a Wuxia martial artist you don't have to dip into Spellcasting classes to pick up the abilities you'd need... just select Physical Adept utilities.

Second... The WardenProtector and Shifter classes have been removed and the Shift Form abilities (which were mostly movement and sensory effects... i.e. stuff that don't really belong in the classes section since classes are combat only in T&T) moved into the Utilities category.

It is now unlocked using either the Shapeshifter (Arcanist), Shifter (Primal) or Warrior Spirit (Physical Adept - Totem form only) utilities and new form abilities are gained using utility selections.

What this means in practice is that the Shift Form ability can now easily be used in conjunction with ANY melee focused class.

The Shifter class was mostly a Skirmisher who could shift forms and the WardenProtector was mostly a Defender who could shift forms. The old classes made a point that you generally needed STR or REF as your attack stat (i.e. just like a Skilled Class) and that your Focus stat would be based off your Spellcasting path (so INT, WIT or PRE... just like the Daring, Tactical or Wary options for Skilled Classes). It further made you select a Combat Stance instead of an attack spell, Skilled Specializations instead of Spellcasting ones and made sure you had expert quality weapons to attack with in your combat form.

So, since they were already skilled classes in all but the shape shifting... why NOT open it up. With them now in the Utility area, you can now select a Ravager if you wanted an implacable, hard-hitting beast form (say, a Rhino) or Brigand if you wanted one who pulled off clever tricks (ex. a monkey). You could also be an Enabler (a Captain or Sidekick) or a Controller (ex. an Acrobat) instead of just a Guardian or Slayer. With the right form weapons you could even be a Sentinel or Sharpshooter.

You could also select the Arcane Rune, Astral Militant or Zealous or Primal Strong or Swift spellcasting paths and mix implement attacks with innate weapon attacks and movement/sensory form abilities.

In other words, more options and more ways to build your character to fit your own personal concept.

* * * *

In short, its been a very productive month.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:59 am

I'll say. The Monastic to Physical Adept switch and removal of the Protector and Shifter are huge. The shapeshifting got opened up in a big way, beyond just the old skinchanger utility. If I understand this correctly, then moving the Shift Form benefits to utilities basically makes the skinchanger utility redundant.

I love the skilled archetype getting their own version of the utilities in the Physical Adept background. Like the shift form abilities, it's something that I never knew I wanted until I saw it. By the way, when you say that the Arcane Path can access Arcanist or Artisan utilties, is it still determined by whether you're a wizard/sorcerer or engineer (with the runic subpaths getting their weapon-summoning ability), or has that been opened up?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:28 pm

Arcane or Artisan is still gated by Wizard/Sorcerer or Gadgeteer. The utility options just seem a better fit for that particular expression of the Arcane path.

That said, there's nothing keeping you from taking the Artisan background as a Wizard/Sorcerer or Arcanist as a Gadgeteer if that fits your concept, you just don't get to freely poach from that class. Indeed, that's actually why you get a slight bump to your utilities if your background lines up with the free selections; its the trade-off for not having quite as many options as they'd otherwise get.

Also worth noting, though ironically I forgot to mention it in the previous description, is that just being able to summon a weapon to your hand was rather weak by comparison, so now the Runic subpaths also get to add their choice of Acrobatics or Fitness to their background skill list and can select Physical Adept utilities in addition to those of their background, cementing them as specialists in applications of arcane power to buff themselves physically.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:13 am

The wizard/sorcerer and gadgeteer thing makes sense; it's where they are most likely to develop their magic in the first place. As for the runic subpaths: very nice.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:24 am

Another thing I just realized with the Shift Forms changes... you can now do a 4E Druid without issue. Primal Interdictor (i.e. Controller role) with the Shifter utility (beast option) gives you both elements of 4E class in full (rather than getting just a single form like the old Skinchanger utility (which has been completely replaced with the Shift Form options).

When I get some free time I'll have to redo the 4E to Terrors & Tactics conversion guide I once did.

* * * * *

Some other fun bits from the Opponent design section I wanted to bring up are the Environmental Effects;

Elemental Presence and the Environment
All avatars have at least the primal utility related to their subtype, but only aspects of that utility which are especially relevant to combat are mentioned in their entries. About half of avatars that are level 6 or greater and virtually all of those level 11 or greater have the Adapt Environment utility. It (adapted for opponent use) and the most common primal utilities possessed by avatars are reproduced here for easy reference.

Adapt Environment: If the avatar resides in one place for a week or more, the environment begins to change to match its nature. The area affected expands one mile per week to a maximum of half the avatar’s level and diminishes by half a mile each day it is no longer present. The avatar can use the ranged effects of any primal utility they possess on any subject (up to one/level per action) they can perceive within that area, but creatures can make an Acrobatics check (TN 10 + ½ level) to avoid any effect that targets them (and may always take 10 on the check). The avatar can maintain one ongoing effect per level and these do not count against using the primal utility.

The Avatar can use the Control Weather ritual at no cost, but only to produce the conditions related to its elemental nature; winds and thunderstorms (air), dry weather and dust storms (earth), hot dry weather (fire), cold, snow storms or freezing rain (frost), conditions favorable to local plants (plant) or rain and storms (water).

Finally, cosmetic features related to the avatar’s nature manifest within the area. Hot springs or steam vents may appear near fire avatars, minor tremors may be felt in the area near earth avatars, wildlife or plant life is prolific near feral or plant avatars, etc.


Demonic Tethers
So powerful is the force of the Great Barrier that a demon can only exist inside Creation if it has something to tether it there. Without a tether the demon is tossed back into the Outer Darkness until some mortal again summons it.

The most common form of tether is a spell. The spell summons the demon and, for as long as the spell’s power holds, the demon is able to remain in Creation. It is also the most tenuous of tethers, typically limited by duration, range and sometimes even a spellcaster’s concentration.

The next most common form of tether is a specially prepared object, often a container or weapon, prepared by one of the demon’s followers. Whoever wields the object is able to release the demon, much as if using a spell, but when the effect ends the demon need not return to the Outer Darkness, only to the object it is tethered to. This is the origin of stories about powerful spirits trapped in objects that are compelled to do their master’s bidding. Those same stories also warn of the dangers of trusting an entity that will twist the wielder’s exact words to cause as much pain and misery as possible. Only destroying the object can send the demon back to the Outer Darkness.

The rarest, but most preferred of demonic tethers is possession of a mortal host. The great limitation on this form of tether is that the mortal must be willing. While a demon priest will sometimes voluntarily allow themselves to be possessed by their demonic master, more typically the host is a sacrifice that is tortured until it finally agrees in order to make the pain end. The demon cares not either way, for once the possession occurs the demon gains complete control of the host’s form and the freedom to act as it wills until the demon can be cast out.

The craftiest of demons will work to create multiple tethers for themselves so that, even if one is lost, it can simply move on to another. Anything to avoid being returned to the dark abyss that is the Outer Darkness.

Demonic Possession
When a demon possesses a mortal, the mortal becomes a vessel for the demon’s essence. Mechanically this means that the demon uses its normal statistics (ability scores, skills defenses, Edge, attacks, etc.) except for size and shape (which are those of the possessed mortal). It can also access its host’s memories and use its skills (if they are better than its own) if it desires to so. The demon can also allow the host to regain control for however long it desires (often just long enough to torment the host’s loved ones with what is happening to them; mechanically this is a free action for the demon).

While a demon can end its possession at any time, few will ever do so voluntarily. Killing the host will end the possession, but is rarely an answer if the goal is to save the host. Using a nonlethal attack to knock the host unconscious prevents the demon from using its host body, but does not drive it (though it can give those trying to drive the demon out time to enact other measures. Placing the possessed individual inside a Magic Circle that hedges out abyssal creatures (if the demon fails its Arcana check) will free the host, but only so long as the host remains inside the circle and demon fails its arcana checks to force its way in.

The only certain means of driving a demon from a host is Primal magic. Non-lethal damage dealt by primal spellcasting classes and primal creatures will drive a demon out of the host immediately when the demon’s Edge score is reduced to zero with no lasting harm to the host (they will be unconscious, but regain Edge normally). Likewise, the Restoration primal utility or ritual performed by a character with a primal class or a primal religious background reduces the demon’s maximum Edge score by 10+2/level of the caster per heroic surge spent for 24 hours. If the demon’s maximum Edge is reduced to 0, it is expelled from the host and cast back into the abyss.

Author’s Note about Demons
Demons are not conflicted, nor misunderstood, nor redeemable. They are eternal spirits who willingly and with full knowledge chose evil and desire only to spite the Creation that rejected their rule over it and drag every soul they can into the Abyss to suffer for eternity as they do.

Those foolish enough to summon demons often end up their victims as demons will always seek to betray those who dare call them by twisting the exact words of any commands they are compelled to carry out into something terrible.

But this also makes them very one-note as actual villains as while their specific plots and plans might be quite involved and complex, their motivations are pretty straight forward and lack any sort of moral complexity (they’re evil, they know they’re evil and they want to corrupt as many people as they can to make the world a worse place).

Demons work best as tools employed or forces released by a mortal villain; one likely corrupted by the demons consort with, but who at least turned to demonic power for a reason that seemed like a good idea at the time. This is why many of the demon statistics are much lower in level than you’d expect for an immortal entity that helped shape the world; their power in the mortal world is often limited by power of the mortal they are in league with.

Demonic Presence and the Environment
The presence of powerful demons can warp the environment around them. This is similar to the ability of powerful avatars, but not as extreme as Creation fights against the corrupting power of the demons. All demons inflict the Corrupt Environment effect on their surroundings.

Corrupt Environment: If a demon tethered to an object or creature resides in one place for a week or more, the environment begins to become corrupted by its presence. The area affected expands 500 feet (100 paces) per week to a maximum of the demon’s level if tethered to a creature or half its level if tethered to an object and diminishes by 250 feet (50 paces) each day it is no longer present.

As a minor action the demon can inflict the effects of their Elemental Echo (see below) on any subject they can perceive within that area (up to 1/level per action); Effects that target creatures can be resisted with the listed check (TN 10 + ½ the demon’s level; creatures may always take 10 on these checks).

The demon can also blanket the area with more general conditions within the area it affects related to its nature; water becomes salty and undrinkable (brine), drought and dust storms (dust), oppressive dry heat (ember), blighted trees (husk), foul smells and fog (miasma), rapid corrosion of metal objects (rust), freezing rain and sleet (slush) or vermin swarm plaguing the area (vermin).



  • Brine Echoes: Target’s skill checks are hindered by overwhelming thirst (ENT; Fitness to resist) or any non-magical liquid the target carries becomes fouled (water is undrinkable, oil will not light, ink dries up, etc.; Arcana or Insight resists).
  • Dust Echoes: Target is shadowed by a spray of dust and grit (ENT; Fitness to resist) or falls prone as loose dirt beneath them shifts (Acrobatics resists).
  • Ember Echoes: Target takes 3 + ½ level fire damage from a cloud of embers (Acrobatics resists) or any lights carried by the target (torches, lanterns, magic items) are reduced by one step (bright to dim, dim to darkness) (ENT; Arcana or Nature resists).
  • Husk Echoes: The target’s ground speed is slowed by thorns erupting in their path (ENT; Acrobatics resists) or shaken by strange noises (ENT; Insight resists)
  • Miasma Echoes: A burst 1 is lightly obscured (ENT) or target dazzled by nausea (ENT; Fitness resists).
  • Rust Echoes: The target’s weapons and implements or armor (demon’s choice) are treated as one quality grade worse (to a minimum of poor) (ENT; Fitness resists).
  • Slush Echoes: Worsens 1+ ½ level squares of terrain by one step (10m) or target slips and falls prone (Acrobatics avoids)
  • Vermin Echoes: The target is dazzled or shadowed (demon’s choice) by swarms of insects (ENT; Fitness resists.


Anathema of all Life
Undead in the default setting are more than just another evil opponent for heroes to mow down, they are the literal antithesis of life and civilization that all adventurers champion (even if only to rule over it as a tyrant).

The undead cannot abide the light of day, nor the hearth fires that families gather around nor the forges that create the tools needed to build a civilization with. They are parasites feasting on the life and creations of Men while mockingly wearing their forms. They can exist only on the fringes of civilization; in ruins and shadows. They create nothing, they build nothing and despite some having pretenses of being lords or rulers, the whispers and endless hunger of the shadows drive them ultimately only to destroy the bastions of life and civilization and attempt to drag the world into eternal darkness.

The Shadow of Death
The presence of powerful undead in a land warps the environment near where they reside. This is similar to the ability of powerful avatars, but not as extreme as life fights against the unnatural power of the undead. About half of undead with Intellect scores (those with INT Ø never cause this effect) and all of those level 11 or greater inflict the Shadow of Death effect on their surroundings.

Shadow of Death: If the undead resides in one place for a week or more, the environment begins to become corrupted by its presence. The area affected expands 1000 feet (200 paces) per week to a maximum of half the undead’s level and diminishes by 500 feet (100 paces) each day it is no longer present.

The undead can inflict the following effects on any subject they can perceive within that area (up to 1/level per action); the subject is shadowed (ENT) by obscuring mists, the subject is shaken (ENT) by shadows in the corner of their vision, the subject is slowed (ENT) by dead roots or skeletal hands grasping from the ground beneath them. Creatures can make Insight checks (TN 10 + ½ the undead’s level) to avoid shadowed or shaken effects and Acrobatics checks (same TN) to avoid slowed effects that target them (and may always take 10 on the check).

The undead can also use the Control Weather ritual at no cost, but only to produce cold weather, fog and overcast skies within the area effected by the Shadow of Death.

Finally, cosmetic features manifest within the area. Trees and plants wither and lose their leaves, water becomes dank and stagnant, disease and illness more rampant, non-predatory animals leave the area and the predators become more gaunt and plagued with constant hunger.


* * * *

The bit about Primal Magic being the only truly effective means of exorcising demons comes from the way in many stories have even the Protestants turns to the Catholic Church when an honest-to-God exorcism is needed.

You also see a similar sentiment pop up in one of the earliest examples I'm aware of; the original Dracula novel... the Protestant protagonist was actually shocked when given a Crucifix and similar items unique to the Catholic faith as means of warding off Dracula, but was told in no uncertain terms that a mere cross would be insufficient to ward off a demonic entity like Dracula.

I decided that made for an interesting thematic to the world.

So while the Astral faiths generally paint Primal Spirits and demons as the same (which they technically are... one is just a fallen version of the other) and that followers of primal faiths are consorting with entities kin to demons though perhaps only mischievous rather than diobolic... even they acknowledge the concept of "only like can defeat like" and that, even if the Astral path is clearly superior to the heathens in most things, the Old Faith is the only force to have ever truly driven out the demons at the dawn of history.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:24 am

So, I’ve been working on the Terrors & Tactics cosmology for the GM’s Guide and wanted to share my latest ideas.

You may recall that I’ve described the Astral Realms as reflections of various spiritual aspects of the Mortal World, but I’ve really only just now sat down and determined exactly HOW I wanted to represent that in terms of the book. Now I have.

What I’ve come up with is this; the Astral Realms are literal reflections of the world... but only of the areas where that particular concept is established (generally turned up to eleven)... everything else is a void in the Realm.

So when you visit the Astral Realm of the god of rulership and law, you’ll arive on floating islands that correspond with regions under the sway of an organized government; castles and the lands they protect, cities, well patrolled roadways, etc. that line up more or less with the Mortal World. But everywhere else... the uncontrolled wilds and places where lawlessness abides are just voids in that realm... empty spaces where only unformed Astral essence floats.

Similarly the realm of war is nothing but fortresses, important battlefields and conquered territory. The realm of the sea god is naught but oceans and rivers where the void begins at the shoreline. Etc.

Obviously, there will be some overlap between these realms... and those are the points where one can travel between realms without having to return to the Mortal World occurs.

The Realm of Dreams/Arcadia is the most complete because regardless of what it’s about, everyone dreams (and all it takes is one person dreaming of something for it to have some degree of presence in the Realm of Dreams). As such, it’s often the road through which Astral travelers looking to reach realms with little overlap choose as their route.

Likewise, the Primal Wilds is a virtual mirror of the Mortal World, but with its natural features turned up to eleven and the Shadow World is the dark lifeless mirror of the world.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:04 pm

Well, the part about the certain parts of the gods' realms being nothing but void certainly explains why they want to expand their holdings. In a way, it reminds me of the Elemental Chaos and how you can have rivers flowing through the sky with nothing around them. The part about finding common points between Astral Realms and the Realm of Dreams as a crossroads reminds me of the Never Never from the Dresden Files. All in all, I like.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:09 pm

So, two big pieces of news for today.

First, my game publishing company now has a name; Siege Engine Games.

Siege is my nickname that most people know me by (which is short for C. J., which is short for Chris Johnson) and game systems are often called engines... so my game system is the Siege Engine.

* * * * *

The second bit of news is that I just finished the write up of the full Opponent Building Rules which are the basis for all the opponent designs in Terrors & Tactics. They also run eight pages (the Re-level and Re-fluff rules take just two pages by comparison).

Although it means a bit more work for me, one of the things that came out of laying out those rules was that many of my current opponents actually have a structural problem. In the effort to keep them simple, I gave them as few actions as possible. This means that many opponents have only a main action attack and no minor actions at all.

Where this becomes a problem is that players who pick up the dazzled/dazed/stunned line of conditions will find their effects less useful than intended. Losing your minor action doesn't mean much when you don't have any minor actions. That means dazed (a moderate effect) ends up just slowing the opponent (a minor effect).

The solution that came out of setting up the opponent creation rules was to do the same thing I did for the PCs and create a set of minor action "Role actions" (just as the PC classes express their role primarily through their minor actions) for each opponent type that can be taken away if they lose their minor action (and which they can still perform if they lose their main action).

Most of these are so straight forward that if it weren't a mechanical hole I'd just keep them built into the main actions. Controllers bump the condition of one of their attacks up a stage (ex. slowed to immobilized), strikers get bonuses to attack and/or damage with their next attack, blasters turn their attacks into area attacks, etc.

While slightly more complex, the benefits to the tactical depth of the game I think will be worth it.

The other bit to come out of the Opponent design rules is something I'm calling Unique Elements. Essentially they're things that break the rules slightly... things that set this level 5 blaster apart from all the other level 5 blasters. The key thing with them though was setting a limit. Its really easy to just pile everything onto one critter, but you'll probably be more creative if you have to pick just THREE things (or less) to make a particular opponent unique.

So, for example, the Death Knight, in addition to the basic abilities of an Elite Blocker, has the unique elements of being Undead (i.e. a suite of immunities, resistances and vulnerabilities), being able to ignore movement effects when moving closer to a creature it has taunted, and can taunt/damage every creature it can see once per battle.

* * * *

The reason the Opponent Building rules are so important to me is that, when combined with the trap/hazard rules, the improvised actions rules and the encounter building rules there now exists a framework to build everything a GM would ever need to run the game.

Sure, having pre-built monsters and traps and actions makes their lives easier, but this is actually the first point in the entire design process that everything a GM would need to create their own material without having to guess has existed outside my own head.

Those bits, plus the Player's Guide are technically a complete game engine. All the monsters, traps, optional rules, setting details, and such that will make up the bulk of the GMs Guide are just specific implementations of those rules.

It may not seem like much, but that's a huge deal to me.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm

First, I love the multilayered pun you've got going with the Siege Engine. It works.

Second, having the opponent building roles spelled out is going to be a huge boon to your game, laying your cards on the table and giving GMs their own set of Legos to build with, just like you did with players.

By the way, what's the word on the website?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:19 pm

The website is in process, the down payment and initial artwork have been provided. The likely domain name will either be siegegames.net or siege.games (the former being more traditional, the second actually takes advantage of the .games extension to an almost ridiculous degree).

For the rules, I've been headed this way for awhile but I figure I should spell out the marketing philosophy I've settled on. The games that seem to have the longest shelf-life are the ones that don't need a tremendous buy-in.

So the plan is to keep the Rules rules... the core math and options you need to buy into the game... contained in Player's Guide and GM's Guide. That means both players and GMs need all the essential rules in those two volumes; including how to create all the things you'd need that those volumes just don't have the room to cover.

Where the long term money is to be made in my view is that the opponent building rules are 8 pages long and not every GM is going to have the time and/or desire to create a bunch of custom opponents for their games, nor a ton of traps using the trap building rules, nor the points of light/civilization and the all the lairs of those who threaten them.

There is value in doing the work of creating opponents using the rules so the GM doesn't have to. There is value in giving them unique adventure sites for the PCs to explore and creating traps and magic items using the rules provided to do so. There is value in world-building so the GM doesn't have to.

So that's where my focus on expanding the line is going to be. As it stands I'm barely going to have enough room in the GMs Guide to cover the Blackspire region and a couple of nearby ruins (when my original plan had been to cover as far up the river as Ironhold, Riverhold and Winterhaven).

I know I've talked about the first follow-up book being Blood Wastes of Bestia, but that's probably now going to fall back to after I've released a book (or books) detailing the rest of Old Praetoria. It might end up being covered by smaller books I'm playing around with called "Adventure Sites" (the idea being that each book would provide a "Point of Light" and then all the threats and ruins and places to adventure that surround that location).

There will be new opponents and traps/hazards statted out and new factions to which you might hold allegiance, but the buy-in from the player side will continue to be a single PDF that will sell for about $19.95 (the physical book looks like it'll be closer to $30) and the only book the GM technically NEEDS in addition is the comparably priced GM's Guide.

But that doesn't mean they won't pick up a new adventure site with new pre-built opponents, encounters and adventure hooks. Even with the rules internalized it still takes me a good 20 minutes to completely design a new opponent... how much is saving the GM four hours' work by providing a dozen new opponents worth?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:30 am

You'd be saving them a lot, especially for more complex opponents. Having the core stuff be self-contained is a very good idea - like you said, it reduces the necessary buy-in, since the main rules are right in front of you. Anything after that is GM convenience, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

I think you might be better served trying to get the rest of Old Praetoria into a single book, since you might have more difficulty trying to distinguish Ironhold, Riverhold, and Winterhaven.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:07 am

Possibly. That said, I'd designed the Old Praetoria region to house a little bit of everything from the core books so its actually pretty diverse.

Blackspire is capitol of the Free Cities and its basically a mix of a Wild West border town with 1790's America. It was liberated from an oppressive regime (the Malcer the Mad who is sprinkled throughout some of the sample PC's backstories) about a dozen years back and the place is going through all the chaos of a monarchy transitioning into an early Republic (the wards of the city and each of the surrounding towns elect a Warden to represent them in a senate and they elect a leader from among themselves as First Warden... the chief law enforcement agent of each is a Sheriff and his deputies).

Ironhold, by contrast, is a classic monarchy whose line of kings has held sway since the Cataclysm and whose lords are the descendants of the first king's most loyal warriors who helped him claim the region. Due to the larger than typical population of dwarves they are also a bit steampunk.

Sitting between Ironhold and Blackspire is El-Phara, the relatively xenophobic elven lands which have a caste-based society with hereditary overlords and underclasses.

Riverhold's location at the head of navigation of The Titan (the miles wide river that snakes through the Old Praetoria region) make it the land of Merchant Princes, managing the trades from upriver to downriver and visa versa as it is the place where all those trades has to occur. Think a more decadent version of Vienna with the Princes scheming against each other to increase their profit margins.

Winterhaven is not so much a permanent city as the most hospitable location in the North where the great barbarian tribes gather to ride out the winters. Tensions run high as resources dwindle, but then spring comes and the tribes are again free to roam the North in search of game and treasures lost amidst the ruins that litter the landscape.

This doesn't even get into the roving caravans of the Beast Plains or the Pirates of Flotsam, the Refugee colony of Ember Falls, the Toria Tribes, the Bloodspear Orc Tribe, and so so many ruins.

So maybe its one big book... maybe its two or three smaller ones (i.e. 120 pages or so retailing for right around $10)... say;

The Kingdom of Ironhold, the nearby Bloodspear Orcs and other ruins and threats you could find in the area

Riverhold and the Barbarian tribes to the North with Emberhold probably squeezed in as well since a relatively short portage through a mountain pass offers an alternative pass from the North to the coast via the Hydra river that the hotsprings of Emberhold are at the head of one of its necks (basically a 'smuggling' route to avoid the tariffs of Riverhold's merchant princes).

Blackspire in the core book will likely be where details on the Toria Tribes, Stonepoint Monastery and El-Phara will be found since they're basically neighbors.

Then there's The Black Spire itself which could basically be its own mega-dungeon book.

The point being there's actually a whole lot of material to cover, each with its own unique opponents, trap-filled ruins and plot-hooks.

I also think there's both more than enough options in the Player's Guide and, from all those options, a clear example of how to create your own species, classes, powers, specializations, backgrounds and utilities if you really find something lacking for your campaign that trying to include ever more variations in splat books is just not the way to go.

This isn't a rules set with just Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings and the Cleric, Fighter, Thief and Magic-User in its core rules. As of right now there is a way to build a version of every single 4E race and class to have ever appeared in the Core Rules (the 4E Vampire class would need the "Shadow Spellcasting Path" from the GM's Guide, but everything else is in the Player's Guide)... plus dragons, unicorns, winged elves, giants, trolls, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:58 am

I was clearly operating on incomplete information with regard to the nations, especially Riverhold. I think your book setup, with Blackspire in the core books and Riverhold and Ironhold as supplements, would work very well. Ironhold has that classic "dwarves vs orcs" setup, Riverhold contrasts the decadent civilization of Riverhold with the barbaric Winterhaven, and Blackspire itself is an excellent foil to the tyrannical El-Phara.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   

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