Faster Than Light

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Star_Trek_Warp_FieldFaster Than Light travel opened the otherwise unobtainable paths between the stars in White Star!

Faster Than Light (FTL) travel is achieved in different ways for different cultures but all technologies can be classified as a flavor of the following

  1. Warp – space-time engineering
  2. Jump – sub-space (ethereal) tunneling
  3. Fold – hyper-space (astral) folding
  4. Gate – wormhole with fixed endpoints

Warp Drives are by far the most common and represent the bulk of FTL travelling. This is a purely technological extrapolation of common scientific knowledge involving negative energies or exotic masses. Going faster than the speed of light still involves traveling the distance, only faster. Therefore, travelling 2 light years at twice the speed of light still requires 1 year of travel.  This may be acceptable for certain deliveries but the velocities required for practical travel are often hundreds or thousands of times faster. Different manufactures will advertise Warp Factors, Dilation Coefficients, or equally unrelated marketing jargon.  Either way, light years traveled by warp drives are typically measured in days or sometimes hours.  The resulting gravity ripples that typically accompany warp drive usage attracts certain undesirable interstellar creatures.  Star Dolphins are especially likely to be found playing in the gravitational wake through established routes. Spatiotemporal anomalies are also extremely dangerous while traveling in a warp field. Most up-to-date astrogation charts clearly detail places to avoid but new concerns are constantly needing to be validated.

Jump and Fold Drives require technology that is akin to esoteric magic not because it is so advanced but rather it is so counter intuitive to logical understanding. These engines are faster and allow for more distant travel than standard Warp Drives but are not without dire risks. There are many stories of unimaginable vistas seen while traveling in the spaces between dimensions. Monsters more terrifying than any explainable life form or alien lurk there. Occasionally these things can come through with the ship. Rarely are there any survivors to explain what really happened. Just as ominous is the occasional navigation mishap.  With every jump or fold, the ship may end up at the wrong end of the universe, or perhaps at the wrong time.

Finally, gates are only for the most traveled or strategic points, allowing ships to instantly get from one star system to another. Gates are the fastest and most reliable form of travel but they are exorbitantly expensive to power.  Once created the two end points must be dragged to their final destination (usually by other FTL means). To date the only hazard to using gates is dealing with the political or military squabbling over controlling them. Rumors of ancient alien constructs that allow gate dialing are frequently heard in bars across the stars.

Star Sword Crystals

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Barrel Rider Games’ White Star is out!!!

white-crystal-mdI’ve been thinking about a game like this for my kids for a while so why not share my thoughts in appreciation?

A Star Sword is powered by a trio of crystals that are said to resonate with followers of The Way. These crystals help to generate, focus, and amplify the blade energy.

In games terms, the power crystal provides the 1d6 damage base while the other two are responsible for +1 to the damage each.

This represents a basic Star Sword with standard crystals. However, there are other crystals that provide alien or mystical benefits.

Power crystals are found only on hidden and sacred locations. Focus and amplification crystals can be found anywhere and have the following benefits.

Common focus and amplifier crystals – roll 1d8
1 Flawed Crystal – allows the Star Sword to function but does not convey any bonus
2-5 Typical Specimen – contributes +1 to Star Sword damage
6 Particular Clarity – contributes +2 instead of +1 the Star Sword damage
7 Superior Cut – does not contribute to the Star Sword damage but adds +1 to hit
8 Rare Composition – contributes +1 to Star Sword damage and adds +1 to hit

Unique Crystals – roll 1d10
1 Lightning – unique focus crystal that grants an increased awareness. Star Knights gain +1 to initiative
2 Final Reply – unique focus crystal that boosts the Protection from Missiles II meditation by adding a +1 to the Saving Throw roll to reflect back a laser attack, and imposes a -1 to the target’s Saving Throw to avoid the returning blast
3 Flare – unique amplifier crystal that contains a rare flaw causing the blade to flare up under certain circumstances. If you roll a natural 20 to hit the total damage is doubled (roll twice) for that strike.
4 The Crystal Heart – unique focus crystal that doubles the duration of Detect meditations
5 Star Fire – unique power crystal of rare perfection that provides a base damage of 2d4
6 Lady’s Luck – unique focus crystal that allows the Star knight to reroll one natural 1 per day. The second result is used regardless of the value. The Star Sword must be on the Star Knight’s possession for the ability to be used.
7 Shadow Strike – unique amplifier crystal that causes an opposing Star Sword to flicker out for 1 round if a Saving Throw made by the Star Kight fails (other classes automatically fail). This amplifier crystal does not contribute a +1 to the Star Sword damage. Using this crystal is generally considered in poor taste by the Star Knights
8 Purity of Light – unique focus crystal that increases the healing provided by Heal meditations by an additional +1 hp
9 Nebula Hammer – unique amplifier crystal that triggers a Stupor effect on the target when a natural 20 is rolled to hit. The target can make a Saving Throw to negate the effect.
10 Forest Friend – unique focus crystal that doubles the range and effectiveness of Speak with Animals and Speak with Plants meditations (the effectiveness impact is determined by the referee but should be allowed as long as the creature is not put in unreasonable harm)

Bloodcasting Implements I

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Athame and Dagger

A bloodcaster’s athame is a magical knife used in bloodcasting rituals. When used outside of combat to sacrifice hit points for spellcasting, the knife reduces the number of hit points required by 1. This small knife cannot be used in combat.

A bloodcaster’s dagger is a ornate blade used to harvest the power of blood for spellcasting. When the dagger is used to deliver the killing blow against an opponent 1 hit point per monster HD is harvested, causing the blade to glow with a reddish light.  If subsequently used to power a bloodcasting spell, the harvested hit points are expended before those of the caster.  The dagger returns to normal after the bloodcasting even if all the harvested hit points were not used.  Any remaining harvested hit points are lost. If the dagger is used to kill another opponent before expending the previously harvested hit points, the previous hit points are lost. The delicate nature of this ceremonial blade causes it to destroyed if a 1 rolled to hit in combat.

Bloodcasting

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There is a tale told around the campfire of a horrible age of despair ruled by vile bloodcasters. These ancient sorcerers specialized in dark magiks driven by darker vices. Unfortunately, their secrets were written in blood on pages of celestial vellum and bound in a grimoire none hope to find.477px-Blood_letting

The Bloodcasting Grimoire – if a magic-user spends one week studying this evil tome he gains the knowledge of the ancient practice of bloodcasting. By sacrificing 2 hp per spell level, the magic-user may recast a spell already memorized for that day. The damage may not be healed by magic of any means. The book is unable to be destroyed without undertaking a major quest. It is considered evil but will command a high price from the right buyer.

This ability assumes that the Swords & Wizardry Complete healing rules are followed so that only 1 hp is regained with every day of uninterrupted rest.

This work was inspired by the standard magic casting rules from the great microlite20.

SWAD 2015

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be sure to check out my post on Bloodcasting too!

Torchbearer
a new class for S&W and S&W Whitebox

Not all adventurers are brazen warriors or flashy wizards. When a torchbearer hireling graduates to full party member they become a crucial asset in plundering dark places.

Torchbearers may advance to 5th level.

Level XP HD (d6) BHB ST
1 0 1 +0 12
2 1,500 2 +0 11
3 3,000 3 +1 10
4 6,000 4 +1 9
5 12,000 5 +2 8

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Torchbearers may only use dagger, club, hand axe, dart, light crossbow, and sling. Torchbearers may only wear leather armor, but cannot use a shield.

Firestarter: A torchbearer can start a fire by rolling their level or lower on a d6 even without a flint and steel or tinderbox.

Torch Craft: A Torchbearer can cobble together a torch by foraging in the wilderness or from dungeon detritus by rolling their level or lower on a d6.

Flameward: A Torchbearer can extend the life of a torch by 1 turn per level. Furthermore, any event or action that might extinguish a torch is allowed a saving throw to remain lit.

Firemaster: A Torchbearer can use a lit torch as a club doing an additional +1 per level fire damage per hit.

this material is adapted and updated from here.

Throne of the Deep King

Oddly enough, just as I found and posted some of my old geomorphs from back in the day the awesome folks at Inkwell Ideas are having a contest. What a great idea! These things spawn ideas almost as readily as great art or a new monster. Go check it out.

Here is my entry with a throne room, complete with dias. The odd “>” in the wall represents a peephole where the real rulers can keep an eye on what the deep king is up too…

throne of the deep king

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Creatures Everywhere

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First let me say that New Big Dragon is awesome…they have cool products, a blog, and they are going to release the twice doomed Petty Gods.

…now they’ve released a compendium of creatures for your OSR games.

accessories-CC1Honestly, I was disappointing when I first opened the book (or really, double clicked the file) and did not see an aboleth.  I thumbed through a few more pages and saw things like Jelly Death and Pukis. I then realized that this is not another book of monsters we already know and love. This is a collection of mostly new monsters. And these new monsters were spawning ideas in my head.

The compendium also introduces a pretty cool feature – dual stats for every monster. Each beastie gets details for 0e/1e and BX generation games.  Most have a picture (I guess you should know what a bat looks like, but who knew a Psi-bat looked like that?!?) Let me say dual stats is a greater concept than sliced bread – however, I wish the 0e/1e stats followed the S&W convention of displaying ascending and descending armor class values…  Finally there is an exhaustive list of edition-based treasure types and XP values for everything – you know how New Big Dragon loves charts!

Anyway, this is a very awesome book – totally worth 6 bucks but right now its on sale for $2…hundreds of monsters for less than a cup of coffee…

Return of the Road Crew

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Well Goodman Games has done it again…just as I’m thinking of doing something else they tempt me and easily lure me in with their special brand of awesome…

That’s right, this is the official pre-announcement of my first 2015 DCC World Tour event. This time we are starting out right with a funnel!!! I’m looking to play in about two weeks and then again in early May. More details will follow…

My Ancient Dice

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WP_001720The other day I stumbled across an amazing find…my dice from the early to mid 80’s

Here are some precision dice with edges so sharp they should come with a warning label. The d20’s are the old 1-20 and older 0-9 and +0 – +9 flavor.

WP_001722There are also two d30’s in there. I wonder when those started circulating?

The rootbeer one is a standard 1-30. The other one, however, has -0 – -9, 0-9, and +0 – +9 on it…pretty cool! Check out the -7.

But of course, the real find is the set of dice that came with my original Moldvay Basic D&D set.  The d6 and d8 are chipped – actual battle damage from over use. I love that ugle brown ol’ d20…WP_001719