Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hengeyokai, Tanuki, Kitsune, magical animals as PCs in EotFM

Henge (変化, change) Yokai (妖怪, ghost, phantom, strange apparition)
Here's what I wrote in the first real Empire of the Flaming Moon rules post
Hengeyokai - can turn into a small animal or back 1/day/level. Feared and hunted by the Emperor and his agents.
1d4 HP.
2 - 2000 XP
3 - 4000 XP
4 - 8000 XP (& etc)
(I adjusted the level numbers to what I'm going with from now on.)

Let's go into a little more detail!
I like +Zak Smith 's ideas in his post, so I'll adapt it and summarize here. Quotation marks mean a direct quote from Zak or Oriental Adventures (the 1E book).
  • - One does not start as Hengeyokai. When a creature (including a PC) dies, on rare occasions their passion is so great that their spirit possesses a nearby animal instead of doing whatever else it was gonna do in death. The animal and spirit become one.
    • the player chooses an animal, and the DM figures out how far away one of those is. That's where the new Hengeyokai PC starts.
    • new stats are rolled, and adjusted to the player's idea of what is appropriate for that animal.
    • the new PC knows where "friends" are and how to get there, but it is up to the player what other memories from the dead PC are carried over, if any. 
    • If the dead PC's POW score was positive, this is added to HP of the new PC.
    • The new PC begins in animal form.
  • A quote from Zak/Oriental Adventures: "The traditional Eastern forms are carp, cat, crab, crane, dog, drake, fox, hare, monkey, raccoon dog, rat, and sparrow, though PCs may take the form of any animal in that size range (and no, the dog is not a great dane)."
  • The Hengeyokai has two forms: animal and human. No in between. They can change once per day per level, so if you change from human to animal at Level 1, you're in animal form until the next sunrise (or whenever you choose to change after it.) A vestige of the animal form is always present in the human, "A raccoon dog hengeyokai may have a silver stripe through his hair. A sparrow hengeyokai may have an unusually sharp nose. The choice of the exact identifying feature is left to the player and the DM."
    • "Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the hengeyokai. The character must make provisions for the storage or transportation of his equipment in some way."
  • Animal Form is as described in Zak's post, with minor modifications (mostly RE: low HP)
    • undetectable from normal animals; not an illusion
    • real animals not of their type will distrust them
    • Infravision 120 ft
    • ability to speak to animals of their kind
    • cannot use items designed for humans, clothes, armor, weapons, etc
    • have vocal capabilities of natural animal
    • can speak Hengeyokai in either form
    • half HP, round up, damage carries over point for point except for last 1 HP (if total HP is 12 and takes 8 damage in human form, will have 1 HP in animal form)
  • At 0 HP in human form, reverts to animal form and is dead. Hengeyokai that die cannot come back as a different Hengeyokai, and are truly dead.
  • Ninja and Swordsmen who die and become Hengeyokai are expected to report to and continue to serve their Clan or School, respectively, even if their new human form looks different. Samurai consider Hengeyokai dishonorable and will not come back as one.

A few people were asking me about Tanuki, and I was wondering about how I'd do Kitsune, and I think the below solves both. A Hengeyokai PC may choose this only at character creation. If this is chosen, it is their only starting template.

Animal Trickster: POW score is equal to total of Modifiers to [WIS or INT] + [CON or CHA], and is a positive score even if those ability modifiers are negative.
Requirements: WIS of below 8 or above 12
Having this template allows a character access to spells without magical training, but only spells related to illusions, polymorph, or those that affect the mind.
Forms: The animal form can be bipedal, and speak human languages. However, this behavior marks the creature as a trickster and they will typically be beaten or killed by any humans or natural animals present.
Animal Tricksters revel in pranks and deception; if they do not attempt a prank or cause someone to change their actions by deception at least [once a week or once every other game session, depending on DM preference], the great trickster Kami will take away their Trickster Animal abilities and they will become "regular" Hengeyokai, losing this template. They do not get another to replace it but continue to get templates when levels are gained.

Some links for inspiration: (gain +1 CHA after becoming Kitsune and 1 tail per level, seductions count as pranks) (Ninja clans desire spider Hengeyokai agents)

You get the idea.

A Samurai realizes with horror the spider on the wall at the meeting of rebel Daimyo could be a spy.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Namazu (race for Empire of the Flaming Moon) and glossary

Namazu: Catfish People
A rare Namazu Samurai equipped with construction tools.

1d6 HP
-1 CON out of salt water, +1 CON in
2 - 2000 XP
3 - 4000 XP
4 - 8000 XP (& etc)
In salt water, Namazu resemble man-sized catfish. On dry land, their hind end splits into legs and the rear fins thicken and function as feet. They run and walk slowly - at 3/4 the speed of a human - due to this clumsy arrangement. When asked about the change, they are generally gruff or embarrassed; either way, the question usually becomes too awkward to pursue to an answer. They swim at twice the speed of a human.
A number of times per day equal to half their level, Namazu may strike bare flesh with a stiff spine along either arm-fin or the one on their back with a stinging slap that on a successful hit inflicts 1d4 damage and paralyzes a creature failing its Save VS Poison for 1d6 rounds. Creatures of lower HD than the striking Namazu suffer the level difference in damage (on a failed save). If this would kill the creature, it dies after the paralysis. Paralyzed creatures may speak.
Note that the attack must pierce flesh; if this would be impossible even on a hit, the attack does nothing.
(A level 5 Namazu successfully strikes a 1HD Merchant; the Merchant suffers 1d4 damage, fails his save, suffers 4 more damage and is paralyzed for 1d6 rounds. The merchant only had 3HP, so will die when the paralysis wears off if not healed first).
Namazu must immerse their entire body in salt water once a day, gaining a -1 to all rolls per day otherwise.
A Namazu Shinto priest leading a dance to appease local kami.

A Namazu Sorcerer consorts with demons.

A little Namazu history:
Since ancient times, it is known that the earthquakes which occasionally trouble Nippon are caused by the struggles of a daikaiju namazu, or giant monster catfish, under the islands. It is restrained by the god Kashima, who wrestles the great namazu into submission and keeps it asleep with a giant pinning rock. When Kashima falls asleep, however, the great namazu struggles again.
While generally viewed as negative, earthquakes have historically acted as something of an economic equalizer for the islands.
When the populous man-sized Namazu first made contact with land-dwellers, they were treated primarily with suspicion and hatred, although they had their sympathizers. In more recent years, their position among land dwellers of Nippon has become complex. Due to a diplomatic trade agreement with the Emperor and Shogun, Namazu are officially favored. They keep rare minerals and other material from the sea flowing into the capital, and a contingent of Namazu are required to make residence there, raised as Samurai. The common folk of Nippon tend to view this as something of a betrayal, and now view Namazu with the suspicion nobles once did. In coastal areas, however, they often must work together.
Since adapting for land travel hundreds of years ago, traveling Namazu have taken up both Shinto and Buddhism, fighting styles of Chan or Nippon, and some even the dangerous sorcery of the Chan mainland. The Namazu in their cities in the sea are officially neutral in the proxy wars between Chan, Shou, the Empire, and the Forgotten. Those Namazu raised as Samurai due to the trade agreement serve for Nippon as any Samurai would.

Rescuing humans from the rubble of a disaster.

Namazu and construction workers partying in the Yoshiwara red-light district.

The Empire of the Flaming Moon - with its homeland on an island chain, this tiny nation has become a great force for trade and warfare. It's size has increased with conquered lands.

Nippon - the name for the chain of islands compromising the homeland of the Empire. The nation was called this before it became an Empire. Some who feel Empire was the wrong way to go still call it this. Referring to the physical islands as Nippon is commonplace, but referring to the nation as a political entity as such is a sign of rebellion.

Kashima - god of thunder and storms. Shinto believers see gods such as this as Kami who have grown very powerful, not as divine infallible beings.

Chan - a large but chaotic nation occupying the corner of a vast continent West of Nippon.

Shou - a nation to the North, with influences from both Chan and Nippon. Both claim it, while Shou claim independence.

The Proxy Wars - fought in the land between Chan and Shou. A constant war between those two nations, The Empire of the Flaming Moon, and The Forgotten. All involved have agreed to abide by the results of this war, all conscript warriors to fight it, and all maintain settlements to defend on its outskirts.

The Forgotten - an army of automatons who fight in The Proxy Wars. It is no longer common knowledge who they fight for, or where they came from.

I have realized the Birth Charts are probably the most important thing that will determine who your character is coming into your first game, and a really effective tool for conveying setting, so they will come next. It's hard to hold back stuff that affects far fewer characters but that I have more developed, but y'know, I'm trying to do this in some way that makes sense.

Here's a collections of great Namazu-E and some historical info from real Japanese art and myth in our world:

You'll be seeing more of them on this blog as I develop the setting.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Empire of the Flaming Moon Beta, Character Creation

System tends to emerge from character creation for me. I'm going to start aggregating my thoughts for Empire of the Flaming Moon here, and at some point it should be possible to look over these entries and create a character. Then I'll run a game and we'll see how it goes. Basically, I am moving on from the one-off posts about it in the past and starting to really build the structure and system.

A few setting notes: this is the Asia of myth and legend. Magic is not common among PCs, but magical creatures are known to exist and often come into conflict with humans. This is generally "Medieval" Asia, although I know that's a problematic word to use in this context and I'll go into more detail later. The campaign will begin focused on a fantastical Japan, "The Empire of the Flaming Moon", although PCs may be from "The Dragon Lands" - China - or elsewhere.

Step 1: Roll 3d6 7 times. This is your
STRength - Melee to hit and damage modifier. Ability check to knock down doors, grapple, lift stuff...
CONstitution - HP modifier. Ability check to resist poison and disease, endure discomfort, carry stuff...
DEXterity - AC and ranged to hit modifier. Ability check for fine motor manipulations, catch things...
INTelligence - Number of languages acquired, Katas learned, literacy, checks to research and understand written things...
WISdom - Modifies Katas and some magical effects, checks to notice and intuit things...
CHArisma - Modifies reaction rolls, checks to manipulate or charm, affects Honor and Notoriety...

and starting cash. Switch one score if you like. Modifiers:
3: -3
4-5: -2
6-8: -1
9-12: no modifier
13-15: +1
16-17: +2
18: +3

Step 2: POWer
Power is your ability to enact your will upon the world, interact with kami and other spirits (Shinto), or tap into the unifying spirit in which all things are one (Buddhism).
Power is one's ability to do magic. Most people start with a negative POW score and do not practice magic.
Add your INT or WIS to your CHA or CON. Is your character learned, or intuitive? Charming, or tough? Which two scores determine your POW is determined at character creation and does not change. (You may use INT+CHA, INT+CON, WIS+CHA, WIS+CON, but not INT+WIS or CHA+CON).
To get your POW score, add the two abilities you have chosen and subtract 28. This is your beginning POW. It can increase if one of the originating abilities increases, through templates, or through level progression, discussed later.
Think about your character. Are you an Ainu tribesman whose family passed down knowledge of how to channel elemental magic through your body? Then INT and CON might be appropriate.
Are you a wandering monk, influencing those around you through mystic chants or instrument-playing, clever words, and mischievous pranks? Perhaps WIS and CHA are appropriate to determine your POW. The uses of POWer are detailed later under Magic.

Step 3: Skills and Starting Template.
Skills are as in LotFP - that is, everyone starts off succeeding at noncombat actions which require a die roll on a roll of 1 on 1d6. New Skills may be proposed to the GM by players, or invented by the GM at any time.
Starting Template is what you're good at - the function classes have in DnD.
Templates - pick 2 at character creation, or the same one more than once. Pick one more each time a level is gained.

Accuracy: +1 to hit.
Savagery: +1 to damage.
Master of Secrets: +1 to POWer. Subtract POWer score from HP, to a minimum of 2.
Two-Souled: You have a second POWer score, determined using the other two ability scores you did not use the first time. Subtract POWer score from HP, to a minimum of 2.
Training: 2 points to distribute among Skills as Player sees fit.

Step 4: Race
Human - Advantages on the Birth charts. 1d6 HP.
Level - XP needed
1 - 1500 XP + 100 XP per point of POW
2 - 3000 XP
3 - 6000 XP
4 - 12,000 XP (5 - 24,000 &etc)

Hengeyokai - can turn into a small animal or back 1/day/level. Feared and hunted by the Emperor and his agents. 1d4 HP.
1 - 2000 XP
2 - 4000 XP
3 - 8000 XP (& etc)

Oni - +2 STR -2 CHA, worst on Birth Charts. Ogres who live in bogs. 1d8 HP.
1 - 2500 XP (& etc)

Other races exist in the land, but generally existing PCs must befriend them before they are available as Player Characters.

To Do list:
-Backgrounds (Family Social Class, Economic Standing, Are you a Samurai?, Are you in a Ninja Clan?, are you Yakuza?, Are you Noble?)
-Magic (Shinto, Buddhist, Elemental, and Sorcerous magic)
-Katas, Honor, Notoriety
-Special Attack Forms and resolution system
-Weapons, equipment generally, starting packages, how they are affected by the above
-Flora, fauna, other setting stuff

Design goals:
1. Anyone who has played an OSR game or D&D doesn't have to learn too much to play or run
2. Evokes a low power world of Samurai, peasants, ninja, monks, yakuza, and weird mythological creatures 
3. Has a unique flavor that frontloads at character creation and D&D heads won't have to look up too much while playing