Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Classic Build #1 - Dwavern fighter - Jay edition.

Jay’s Classic Builds for Drev.


Build #1 – The Dwarvern Fighter


Can you build a classic fantasy archetype for DRev to act as a bridge between what you may be familiar with and what is the available in our system?   This will be the experiment for today's blog.   First what is a classic archetype for say D&D?  Well for me that's a little hard to define (since I tend to play weird things), but it's typically a common combination of race and class, often in an optimized fashion.  So where to start?  Well, let us try something easy: a dwarf fighter.

We'll do the first ten levels to start the process.

Your cool title/quote:  Dwarven Tank/Giant Killer “you better believe it, good things come in small packages”
Race: Dwarf
Class/Path:  Combatant/Soldier
Your Role:  You are tough and specialized in taking down things bigger than you and cleaving down enemies.   Out of combat you are physically fit and skilled in military knowledge and tactics.   

Ability Array (including dwarf starting adjustment): Str 15, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 13
Ability Increases over time:  At level 4 increase Str by +2(17); level 8, Con by +2 (18); level 12, Con +2 (20);  level 16, Str +2 (19);  level 20, Con +2 (22)

Skills:   Focus on Athletics, Acrobatics, Battlecraft, Perception and Sense Motive.  You can also utilize Treat Injury to act as a backup healer for the party.  Ride or Use Vehicle could be helpful to get around the battlefield quickly.  

Level 1 (including racial):    Talents:  Stability (Dwarven racial talent), Battlefield Etiquette, Battlefield Analysis (Soldier talent2).   Feat:  Toughness
Level 2:  Feat: Power Attack
Level 3:   Talent: Combat Know How (soldier talent)
Level 4:  Feat: Cleave (power attack feat tree)
Level 5:  Talents: Anti-Giant Training (Fleet racial talent), Any Cover (Fleet racial talent).
Level 6:  Feat:  Great Cleave (power attack feat tree)
Level 7:  Talent:  Armor Specialization (Combatant general talent)
Level 8:  Feat:  Unfettered Power Attack (power attack feat tree)
Level 9:   Power Attack Achievement (DRev Book of Adventure).  Talent:  Heavy Armor Proficiency feat (Army Brass Soldier talent), Armor Specialization (Combatant general talent)
Level 10: Feat:  Robust


Recommended Equipment:
>>Level 1:  Standard Adventurer's Kit, Greataxe and Patchwork Armor (58 GB left over for other essentials).
>>Level 2: Ranged weapons could include a couple of throwing axes, a sling or similar easy to use weapon. 
>>Other weapon options:  A battleaxe and shield is also a great combo for this character.  Lowers your damage output a little bit, but will grant you some extra AC from the shield. 
>>Weapon Improvement: An Adamantium Greataxe could be taken as early as level 5.  
>>Armor Improvement:  On the armor side, take heavy armor by level 9.  A good choice is Mithral Lobster Armor.    
>>Other Magical Equipment: A Fetish of Speed and Fetish of Winking are important to obtain to ensure your mobility.
>>Modern weapon considerations could include hi-tech ones, such as a chainsaw to take the place of your greataxe.  Derringers and shotguns are also a good fit for a dwarf and assist you in situations where range might be an issue for you.

Playing your character (talent and feat breakdown)
The Battlefield Etiquette talent tree for the soldier is taken early on because its bonuses have greater effect at lower levels (completing the chain of talents by level 3), allowing you to provide bonuses to assist other characters in a light leadership role, even outside of combat. 
As you become tougher and better equipped your objective is to get in close to large enemies, utilizing Anti-Giant Training to take them down.  With Any Cover, you can make it harder for large enemies to hit you just by standing next to them or even gain defensive bonuses standing next to larger sized allies.  Meanwhile Cleave and Great Cleave means you can start decimating larger and larger groups of weaker enemies.  Gaining the Power Attack achievement before level 10 is great way to sure up against ever increasing larger groups of monsters and cleave enemies who provoke opportunity.
You will need lots of hit points since you will be in the thick of battle quite often.  Toughness has its greatest benefit at level 1; while Robust is taken at level 10 with the intent of perusing the Toughness feat achievement at higher levels. Additional benefits might also be gained from the Combatant talents of Hard to Kill and Remain Conscious since they can stack with many of these feats.
AC becomes more important at higher levels against heavy hitting monsters, so gaining Heavy Armor proficiency and Armor Specialization can boost your survivability during the mid-levels of 7 and 9. Future considerations beyond level 10 could include maximizing the Armor Specialization and even taking the Power Armor proficiency for a more modern feel.  If you are pursuing a more direct way of protecting fellow allies, you may consider the Soldier’s Tactical Aid talent tree instead of Armor specialization.  This is an agony of choice between choosing either your personal or your allies’ protection.
Out of combat you will have good bonuses in fairly small set of skills suited for a military officer and your ability to identify enemies is second to none.  But you tend to be bit gruff around the edges and may need a diplomatic envoy if you are taking the primary leadership position.
Your greatest weakness is speed.  While armor does not slow you down, as a dwarf you lack the ability to cover larger battlefields without some assistance.  You may have to rely on items to boost your speed.  You will also have to collaborate with other party members in either getting you close to enemies or drawing enemies close to you.  While in your full regalia of armor and weapons’ sneaking around is nearly impossible for you.  So you usually default to standing guard for other party members trying to enter secured areas.

DRev Background Ideas
Roll or Pick one
1:  You are from Steelgrove.  You serve as part of the Unified Guild Defense Team.  You now travel on a great mission to protect trade routes or even another party member who is a great guild asset.
2: You are from the Fiend Marches.  You serve as member of a collections agency party sent by a powerful demon corporation.
3: You are from the Drejlands.  You were raised as a slave in underground gladiator league.  You have escaped your bondage and to seek justice for other slaves that continue to suffer under the thumb of your former masters.
4: You are from Caladornia.  You fight alongside the sentinels of the realm, serving as part of the vanguard against the evils of the world that threatening it.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rules Spotlight – Racial Talents


Racial Talents were a concept born in the fires of a dilemma:  namely playing both Rifts and Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition.  One had a breadth of amazing options that were nowhere near balanced.  The other had a systematic system that if followed, penalized you for following them.

Modern d20 introduced me to the concept of talents.  Namely, don’t define the powers for a specific class, but use a chain of powers that are level based.  While it had some serious flaws, the concept was sound.

It was originally used to define the powers of your class.  However, it also fixed another problem overall.

How do I give my character amazing racial abilities without breaking the spine?

By substituting Class Talents with Racial Talents, you are able to emphasize your own natural abilities without being game breaking.

Currently the list of racial talents consists of the following:

·         Desecrator: You develop demonic traits that are based on the Desecrators.
·         Dragon: Racial talents that help with the elemental nature of Dragons.
·         DreamCantrip:  minor magical abilities that have ties to the dreamtime
·         Fey: You have Faerie like powers that are otherworldly in nature.
·         Fleet:  These are abilities that emphasize the natural evasion of a small and/or quick creature.
·         Flying: This chain allows a character to fly.
·         Gaze:  Your character has a mystical ability to affect people with a mere gaze.
·         Growing:  You are larger than normal and this affects you strength, reach and other related abilities
·         HallowedTouched: You have dark spell-like abilities that draw on energies of the Hallowed Earth
·         Living Dead:  These talents simulate the undead abilities of the character.
·         Natural Armor:  Your character is more durable and well protected.
·         NaturalWeapons:  You have natural weapons that are as effective as any weapon.
·         Plantkin: You develop your plant characteristics.
·         Savage: This is a grab bag of primal abilities that are based on animal characteristics
·         Savvy: Your race is very good at working with others.
·         Shrinking: Your character gets benefits by being smaller than normal.
·         Stout: Your race is renowned as being tough as hell.
·         Venom: Your character has natural venom.
·         Vision:  Your vision is better than average or has a unique feature.

<will update as new Talents Trees are added>

How do I get Racial Talents?


There are a number of ways to get the option of Racial Talents:

1.       Take a race that has them as a default option.
2.       Put a template on a race that has the option of getting one to get the desired talents.


Case Study – The Big Guy.


A common archetype is the “big guy”: a larger than average sized humanoid that’s a bruiser.

For the purposes of this study I will start with a race with the growth talent tree: The Ungo.  This sasquatch like race is perfect for creating such an archetype, since they have access to the Growing racial Talent Tree.

Furthermore, the race gets the Bigger Build Talent at first level.  This means that your already 1 step along the chain.

Repeating the talent for ease of reference:

Bigger Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Medium Sized
Benefit: You can carry/lift x1.25 more than a normal medium sized creature.
You also gain a +1 racial bonus to Athletics skill checks.

For the purposes of this build, I will go with the Combatant class and the Brute path, as it emphasizes the physical abilities of the character.

At first level, the character gets 2 talents.  While I could normally get Class Talents from the Combatant Class and Brute Path, in this case, we will take the next two racial talents in the Growing chain.

Hefty Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Bigger Build
Benefit:
·         You can now carry and lift x1.5 more than a medium sized creature.
·         You now treat medium weapons as light weapons.
Other: Your height is 25% taller than your races normal height; minimum 6 feet tall, maximum 8 feet tall. Your
weight is 25% heavier than the normal, despite not changing size categories.

Large Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Bigger Build
Benefit: You are now considered a Large sized creature.
·         Large Size (-1 AC, -1 to attack rolls, -4 to stealth skill checks (see skill), +1 to CMB/CMD (see Combat Maneuvers)).
·         You take up a 10x10 foot space
·         You Can lift/carry x 2 that of medium creature
·         You Gain a 10 foot reach.
·         Increase your base speed by 10 feet.
·         You gain +2 Constitution, and +2 Strength
·         You gain Natural Armor +2
·         You lose -2 Dexterity
·         Your unarmed attack does 1d4 damage (still considered a non-proficient unarmed attack if you do not take training).
·         Armor cost and weight is multiplied by x2. You cannot wear armor unless it is specially designed for you.
Weapon use: You can use large weapons in one hand, huge weapons in two hands, medium weapons are
considered light weapons; you cannot use small or tiny weapons.
Other: Your height is 50% taller than your races normal maximum: minimum 8 feet tall, maximum 12 feet tall.
Your weight is twice as heavy as normal. Finding a good place you can get a seat or sleep is quite tough.

Even though it took both talents, my character is a size large creature at level one, with benefits and penalties that reflect this.

I could have taken instead, for example, Brutal Charge, and Brutal Charged improved (See Dark Revelations – Player’s Guide for details) and they would have given different, but equivalent abilities.

This sets up the “agony of choice” but with good options.

To showcase yet another way to do the big guy, I would like to present a new template.

New Template: Giant Blooded


Your character has the blood of giants.  This means your character is made of sterner stuff.

·         Creature Type: You are now considered a Monstrous Humanoid for the purposes of creature type. You lose your old creature type and it is replaced by this creature type. If you remove this template and are allowed to take a new template, you still keep Monstrous humanoid as your characters base creature type.
·         Template Restriction: This template cannot be combined/used by characters that are considered Fey, or Undead in creature type.
·         Racial Talent Trees: You gain access to the Growing, Natural Armor, and Stout talent trees in addition to your normal access to racial talent trees (see racial talent exchange).
·         Racial Talent Exchange: When you first take this template you MUST trade in any one talent (racial or class) you currently have for one racial talent from the racial talent trees granted by this template. Core races that start with this template do not apply this step.
·         Alignment: You can be any alignment
·         Life Span: Giant Blooded creature’s life span is quite long, if this template is added to a player character race, increasing their expected maximum life span by +2d20 years. Core races that start as Giant blooded already have longer life spans and do not apply this step.
·         Biology: You are susceptible to fatigue, hunger, suffocation, rest and thirst like any normal living creature. You can be healed normally through conventional non-magical means (treat injury), healed by luminescent energy, and harmed by corruptive energy like most living creatures

I can now simulate half-giants in Dark Revelations with minimal changes.

A Note About Humans


                While the original intention was to allow the abilities of non-human races to have unique special abilities, a happy side effect of the Template/Racial Talent system is that it allows humans a great degree of versatility.  They pretty much can take any and all templates showing the effect of mystical effect, bloodlines, and augmentation on the human condition.

One last thing


While it might seem somewhat cumbersome, realize that we've added a quite a few builds that do a ton of the work for you with regards to racial talents.  These are both in the book of adventure and as additional content on this blog.



If you come up with any you want to show people, let us know, and we'll both spotlight it and give you credit for your creativity. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rules Spotlight – Skill Montage



Some Background


I loved the concept of 4e skill challenges, but noticed it missed a crucial component when I used it.  Namely player agency was minimal.

It always felt like it was attacking my weakest skill, even if I was playing a skill heavy character.

Worse, there were trap choices.

I literally called out that a roll on a particular skill was a bad choice before the gm said roll anyway and only confirmed my suspicion that the skill, which was listed in the book as an automatic failure.

I prefer to have fun when trying to do a task as a team and I believe my system reflects this.

An Overview


The main purpose of the Skill Montage is to create a mechanic where you can perform complex tasks without G.M.s Fiat.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is how d20 experience was always based on killing things and wanted to create a means to earn experience and have fun while doing it.

It also allows for a collaborate experience.  While everybody likes being the hero that saves the day, in a tabletop experience, it means that you have at least 3 other peoples in the shadow.

If everybody has a chance to shine, they will feel empowered.

It is also why there are ways to modify the rolls.  I am a firm believer in agency that adds to player’s involvement.



Steps in Creating a Skill Montage


This is repeated for ease of reference:

1. Figure out the premise of the skill montage
2. Pick up to 3 skills to base it on: try to pick skills that the party has.
3. Pick alternative skills that can be used, but at a difficulty +5.
a.  If the players make a satisfactory argument for a skill to be used, put it here.
4. Figure out the relevant DC of the main skills
5. Figure out the complexity
6. Figure out the cost of failure
7. Figure out any other factors
8. Go around the table and have actions declared
9. Roll dice in sequence until success or failure has been achieved.

Skill Montage Case Study: Bank Heist


1. Premise: setting up a Bank Heist.
2. Key Skills: Diplomacy (to gather info and to calm down anybody in the bank heist), Sabotage (for cracking the safe and disarming alarms), Use Vehicle (for the getaway).
3. Secondary Skills: Bluff, Gunplay, will fill in as players give feedback.
4. CR 12 encounter.  It’s is well protected but it’s not Fort Knox.  DC 22
5. Complexity: Based on Population: Difficult: there are about 20 people in the bank when it is hit.
6. Failure: not only do you not get the money, you get cornered by the local authority.  A fight will begin.
7. Success: You get the cr 12 equivalent of medium treasure (9,000 GB) from the experience.  You also get to roll on the Macguffin Treasure (See Dark Revelations - the Role Playing Game - Book of Adventure) to setup a future story hook.

So to sum up as a block

Bank Heist
Trigger Points:
•  When you want to rob a bank
DC: 22  (CR 12).
Complexity: Difficult (4 successes, 2 failures)
Base skill: Diplomacy (to gather info and to calm down anybody in the bank heist), Ride, Sabotage (for cracking the safe and disarming alarms), Use Vehicle (for the getaway).
Secondary Skills (+5 to DC): Bluff, Gunplay
Success: You get the CR 12 equivalent of medium treasure (9,000 GB) from the experience.  You also get to roll on the Macguffin Treasure (See Rifts book of Adventure) to setup a future story hook.
Failure:
•  Not only do you not get the money, you get cornered by the local authority.  A fight begins.
Retry: No

Now let’s meet our bank robbers:


The party consists of
Chrysfield - a Harlowe Channeler/sentinel with an avenging angel complex.
Orleans – A Medusa Combatant/Brute whom wields a mean whip
Skater Dan – A Halfling Adventurer/Transrider with an obsession with safety and children’s songs.
W. Bean – A Bogey Ritualist/Artillery Mage with the disposition of Joe Pesci and a magic carpet.

Our heroes setup a rough plan.
1. They will go into the bank, tell everybody to calm down
2. With the help of of W. Bean casting eroding touch, Skater Dan will crack the safe.
3. Chrysfield will then use her obscene diplomacy to get their hostages to load up their getaway ride.
4. They will then ride away on the magic carpet.

They successfully debated that ride (which is used with magic carpet) will be a primary skill and manipulation as a secondary skill.

Now the actual encounter


Round 1
Chyrsfield: 1st roll diplomacy (to calm down inhabitants): Skill +19, but rolled a 1, 1st failure. - Despite her normally soft words, she causes a panic in the bank. 1 failure.
Orleans: responds with manipulation (to scare down inhabitants): Skill +15, rolled a 15, - succeeds and scares everybody to the ground. - 1 success, 1 failure.
W. Bean: casts eroding touch (4th level spell) to assist with cracking safe.  Skill +17, roll - doesn't add to successes or failure, but will add +4 to the next roll.
Skater Dan: cracks safe - Skill +13 +4 (with spell); rolled a 15 - 33 - 2 successes, one failure.

Round 02
Chrysfield - diplomacy check- (to attempt to move bags quickly with help); 19, rolled 38 - they have help; 3 successes, 1 failure.
W. Bean - ride away on magic carpet; +16  but rolled a 7, 21 - 2 failures - skill montage failed.

As a result, the money falls off the flying carpet and the encounter occurs.

NOTE: it's okay to shift the order as long as everybody goes on that round. a lot of it may change based on events.

One last thing:


I cannot stress enough that the bonuses we put in are guidelines to aid the GM.  Simply put, we cannot figure out everything and some decisions will have to be made at the table.

Also, we cannot stress enough to allow a “give and take” when it comes to primary and secondary skills.  If the player can justify the use of a skill for a scenario, pick one and let them roll. Nobody likes being the PC that has no way of succeeding because they don’t have the specific skill listed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

J's Comments

The books have been updated with feedback from our game testers.  See the changelog for a list of updates.

Additionally, my Co-writer, Jason Cable Hall, wanted to give his two cents on frequently asked questions, so here they are:

Jay says, whom is DRev for?


DRev is for player’s who like the modern post apocalypse setting, but whom really want everything from it.  Want the option to have a serious or zany campaign?  Want to explore a strange new Earth?  Do you have a deep and tactical play style?  Want a new spin on classic fantasy character races, plus numerous new ones? Do you like having character customization with thousands of combinations of powers and abilities?    Want d20 that you know, yet different?  We have it all for you.

Jay says, why d20?


Why d20?
When DRev first started development, d20 was really the only game around.  Most of the indie games you see nowadays had yet to get their wings.  We were familiar with d20, the OGL was inviting, and it seemed like trend that wasn’t stopping anytime soon, so went with it.  What happened is that we found numerous breaks in the d20 SRD we wanted to try to fix and really wanted to shape the system into something of our own.   Unfortunately what happened was real life circumstance out of our control slowed production to a crawl.  And as times changed and the d20 era began to wane and we knew we’d miss the boat.  But after so much work, we soldier on. 

Jay says, why so much stuff!


Why does DRev seen to have no consistent theme, why is there so much stuff in it!

Certainly DRev is not a simulation of the real world in any way.  But we like the idea of echoing it.   We are surrounded by serious and often horrific things all the time.  Yet, we are also surrounded by comedic and sometimes strange occurrences that tickle our funny bone or make us think.  There is no one theme to life, there are many. That is the one part of the real world we really wanted to bring into DRev.  If players want to go gritty realism or zany hijinks we have no objection. Our world is big enough for both.  We highly encourage GM’s and players to work together to explore the world, pick what they like, adding as much as you want of your own ideas.  We would love to see new content that we could integrate into our world.

The hodgepocalypse is a melting pot of ideas and we freely admit to throwing everything in the blender.  Part of the fun is picking what you want from the mix and using it based on your taste, or going nuts and drink the whole thing up like we did.  That’s part of roleplaying in our system.    From a gaming world perspective, of course everything is crazy and mixed up. That’s what happens when multiple dimensions collapse on each other and when what we thought was myth comes to life.  As a character in our world it’s ok to be terrified and amused when facing a giant sunflower trying to eat you, or philosophizing  just how often reality gets close to tearing itself into utter destruction.