Archives for: August 2008
August 31st, 2008
Published on August 31st, 2008 @ 03:22:55 am , using 813 words, 393 views
Let’s talk competition.
I began working on an entry dealing the origin of Amethyst. It got to three pages and decided I would break it up for future posts.
I have often fielded comments comparing Amethyst to a variety of other fantasy/science-fiction settings including Rifts, Shadowrun, Final Fantasy, and Arcanum. I have often found it odd that my friends and I differ on what franchises we defend Amethyst against. I guess it depends on what we take personally. The first accusation (and the most prevalent) was Shadowrun, a game I never actually played. Not only that, I never even read any books on it. I was aware of the setting and knew it was a fantasy/cyberpunk. The concept is neat but it’s not Amethyst. The big difference being is the stark division between science and fantasy. Disruption is a core pillar of the Amethyst setting. The fantasy side was a true-to-book mystical world against the bastions of technology trying to survive. Like Shadowrun, it was set in the real world but Amethyst takes it to a level of detail reaching an obsession. There is a difference between a story being set on Earth and a story being set in the real world. Everything in Amethyst had to make sense and be plausible. Amethyst was not only Earth, but also our world—a world with DnD and Lord of the Rings, a world with increasing ethnic violence and greed over dwindling resources. Amethyst was going to inject a side of philosophy and symbolism in its setting readers could discover if they looked beyond the first later. I always found the Shadowrun accusation more bothering than the others did did.
Now Rifts is also set on Earth and set a long time in the future, enough time for the world to forget how it was before (same as Amethyst). My friends never liked Rifts but I always thought it was neat (though I never really ran it enough to even justify the cost of the first book). When comparing it to Rifts, my friends would often be the ones getting bent out of shape. Rifts still had a merging of technology and fantasy in some areas. There was still not the divide that Amethyst was boasting. Rifts was also a dark cyberpunk-styled world and Amethyst was promoting more of a world of wonder outside the walls of technology.
Few people ever made Final Fantasy comparisons. Even more than before, Final Fantasy always had a mixing of magic and technology where Amethyst had none. Now Arcanum….man oh man. I never even heard of this game until a few months ago. Hell, I never even played Fallout (same developer). Arcanum is a PC game that was released in 2001. It was a fantasy RPG set in a fictional world. Now this game does have fantasy and technology and actually has disruption. Here was a similar setting I am willing to admit, albeit coincidentally. Where Arcanum differs is that their setting is a fictional world where magic dominated and technology has emerged in its infancy and as it grows, magic fades. Amethyst is the mirror opposite in application. Once again, it is set in the real world and magic is returning to it after man had reached a significant level of technological development and has been fighting a losing battle ever since. Because of my obsessive compulsion about detail, Amethyst also deals with layers of philosophy, chaos theory, particle physics, racism, sexism, and various other issues being tossed around a lot these days. It actually contains sidebars where scientists try to explain the outside world and how it interacts with what they call “reality.” I am hoping people who play in the setting try to make something more out of it other than a simple dungeon crawl. The races are presented to be more than a listing of stats. As stated with a previous post on Damaskans, there are benefits and consequences to every race in the setting. Not only that, but a principle pitch of the setting is the asking of a simple question: Would you give up? Central heating? Internet? Cable TV? Automobiles? Refrigerators? You would have to if you wanted your elves, magic, and dragons. Suddenly, the setting forces people to look at the real-life consequences of their actions. On top of this, you have the world of fantasy broken into a one of chaos and one of order where the order is the corrupting force of evil and the force of chaos is the power where all magic and life stems from. You wrap that all up together; you have a setting, which, I hope, people will look to for something beyond a simple dungeon romp.
Of course, if you still want to buy it for you dungeon romp, that’s ok to.
Next post, I'll have some unfortunate news.
August 28th, 2008
Published on August 28th, 2008 @ 04:40:26 am , using 618 words, 288 views
There was a question on Gleemax on the extent of Amethyst's compatability with future DND books. I thought the answer deserved to be reposted here...
There are two forms of Amethyst: Mine and yours. I can declare what is in the official Amethyst and what is not. That does not change what you do with your game. I got a guy on the playtest who has a group including a Kodiak and a Gimfen from Amethyst gaming with a Dragonborn and Tiefling, which would never happen in the real Amethyst as there are no Dragonborn and Tieflings in Amethyst. You play your game as you wish.
The 3.5 book detailed what monsters were in the official version of that game. Since we are making a lot more original monsters, the number of official DND monsters has decreased substantially for the 4ED game.
This spreads to the Player's side as well. The official Amethyst has no Clerics and no Warlocks but it won't stop a DM from allowing it in his or her game. It all depends on how much you want your game to match what's presented in the book. So for the 4ED core PHB, we said Fighters, Rangers, Rogues, Warlords, and Wizards are in. The others are out. We also said certain Rituals were out. We declared ALL PHB races were out, replaced by our own. So that answers part of what people may be asking. Unlike Eberron, which was "everything included and more", Amethyst is attempting to be a totally original fantasy setting, which means certain elements have to change.
But you asked about future books...and that is a point we discussed at length. This is why we didn't bother making a single new fantasy class. Why bother? WOTC will do it for us and we can support the DND franchise that way. There are rumours PHBII will have Barbarian, Druid, and Monk among others. A DM is can make whatever judgement calls he or she wants for their game. I can safely say that all Martial class will be welcome. Druid may be as well. Any spellcasting classes will be problematic (given our definition magic). Our setting has its own races, so any monster or races that have developed an actual civilization won't appear in the official Amethyst. As these future books are released, we'll post on our site what elements can appear in a "canon" Amethyst game. I imagine some buyers may care while others will do as they like. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, someone might just buy the game and pull out our techans classes and create a science-fiction RPG with no fantasy elements whatsoever—which is starting to look like a selling point.
If there is a weakness with Amethyst, it is because it is not designed to be a modular 100% compatible DND role-playing game (like Eberron). It is designed to be a story setting where you can have role-playing adventures within it (closer to Midnight in its application). As the game has been developed over SIX YEARS...(cough), it has been modified repeatedly to make it more original, which has resulted in many of the DND and clichéd fantasy staples being removed. The first game, as it was built in 2002, was just like Eberron. It has evolved since then to be more than a simple RPG campaign setting packed full of dungeon crawls. It’s meant to be a plausible, living, breathing setting with its own distinct voice.
So...ahem...yeah, there will be opportunities to use future DND books with Amethyst but we can't say for sure as to what extent until we read them.
That’s a page long explanation for me saying, “I dunno.”
August 27th, 2008
Published on August 27th, 2008 @ 02:54:08 am , using 182 words, 5855 views
This is the Pugg...
The Pugg is two feet tall and hideous. The Pugg has sex five times a day. It has four mates. You probably don’t even have one. The Pugg…is better than you.
This is the Sibharil Thornwarden...
The Sibharil is the most beautiful creature on the planet. Mortals search their whole lives looking for one. You want her to like you…but she doesn’t…because you’re dumb. The Sibharil…is better than you.
This is the Rookxs Wrathshroud...
The Rookxs is a demonic creature that can suck out your life force to use it to power its necrotic abilities. You suck at math. The Rookxs Wrathshroud…is better than you.
This is the Chuulad...
The Chuulad is blind. The Chuulad is ugly and mean. But it also can walk on walls. Can you walk on walls? No, you can’t. The Chuulad…is better than you.
This is the Chiggoth...
The Chiggoth…Well…the Chiggoth is twenty times larger than you. It steps on you…then it eats you. The Chiggoth is better than everybody.
August 25th, 2008
Published on August 25th, 2008 @ 03:26:55 am , using 312 words, 313 views
Website is running slow right now with updates...I have an excuse...100 pages of techan classes is that excuse.
Now, being a blog, I understand, occasionally, we may post something that makes little sense or may contradict previous posts. That is what happens. Everything is a work in progress. For the past two weeks, I have been up to my neck in techan classes. It has come to my realization that an inventive DM could tear the entire Techan section out and create a Modern 4ED game. There is no word from WOTC on the future of 4ED Modern, so we are not terribly concerned about this. For one, all of our classes are team-based and have a military background, so there is not much room for “Negotiators” or “Personalities”.
As it now stands, we have three classes with a fourth perhaps included in this or a later book. We have a Grounder, a Controller, a Field Expert, and a fourth class currently called a Recon. Currently because we are not sure it fits. Technically, "Ranger" fits but we can't use that. The recon is a sniper that also dabbles in stealth and has been known to wield two pistols like a character from an Asian action movie. Someone suggested "Deadeye", which I rather liked. I pitched it to Jibblets, who shot it down. I also recommended changing the name for Field Expert as well. Jibblets pitched "Feldman" and "Dr Bionic" when I realized it was 1:00 am and he hadn't slept in 22 hours. In all respect, he is creating 38 new monsters. Meanwhile, I have finished Techan classes...for now. There is substantial testing. Stage 2 Testing begins next week. Those interested in play testing techan classes should email me.
Of course you want to. You telling me you're not interested in playing a group of marines tasked to killing a dragon? Huh? HUH?
August 23rd, 2008
Published on August 23rd, 2008 @ 02:35:00 am , using 540 words, 1591 views
I'll get back to Techan Classes later, but for now, I wanted to repost a message I made to question on Gleemax regarding Lifepath:
When I say they are unbalanced, I don't mean that one path has, let's say, a bonus to damage with melee weapons and another has, Ohhhh, a natural talent for calligraphy. I mean they are very different in their approach. Where the Forgotten Realms Background concept deals primarily with skills and maybe the odd resistance or two, there are some lifepaths which are exquisitely (yes, I chose the word exquisitely) detailed. But they are not all the same.
Let me take three examples:
Prerequisite: Narros, Strength 16
Double-Form: If wielding a weapon two-handed, you are counted as wielding two weapons for the purposes of applying the benefit of two-weapon feats. Choose one of the following weapons to be used with Double-Form:
Any versatile weapon OR
Any two-handed, non-reach weapon
You must be proficient with chosen weapon. Your chosen weapon is the only type of weapon you can receive these bonuses from. You may purchase magical versions later but the specific weapon type cannot be changed.
So, this one allows the alteration of certain conditions with attack powers but really...it’s more a style issue. At the very best, it saves you on money in buying a second magic weapon later and offers a +1 to damage and AC if you select the right feats. Not a huge bonus. But you also have to be a Narros (dwarf).
Prerequisite: Tenenbri, Wisdom 14, Dexterity 14
Snap-Draw: If you select the Quick-Draw feat, you gain a feat bonus to initiative checks equal to 2 + your Wisdom bonus. You can only withdraw a melee weapon if taking advantage of this alteration.
Propriocepting Posture: If you ready an action as an immediate reaction to an enemy’s move into an adjacent square, you gain a bonus to hit equal to your Wisdom bonus on your first attack roll with that strike.
With this one, you gain an additional bonus to initiative if you select the right feat and the other ability only comes into play on a very unique situation.
Prerequisites: From Limshau
Branch Expertise: You gain a +1 to History (Limshau and surrounding areas). You also gain an additional +1 to either Arcana, History (pick another named location in Canam), or Religion.
Selected Lore: Choose any number of creatures from the Amethyst Bestiary or from the MONSTER MANUAL equal to your Intelligence Bonus. You are an expert on said creatures and pass all DC20 knowledge skills when recalling about their lore.
Now, this one seems the least powerful. You gain bonuses to a few skills. But the second ability has astounding role playing potential for those willing to take it on. Also, this path has more feats attached to it, which require this path as a prerequisite. Ninety percent of all our new feats are lifepath specific. With the librarian, one can increase the number of creatures, increase the DC, or even gain a bonus to hit one of those creatures.
Now, it should be noted, this is not ANY librarian, but one specifically from a city of books called Limshau.
How is that?
August 21st, 2008
Published on August 21st, 2008 @ 04:13:17 am , using 457 words, 270 views
So, here is how we set it up. We got this huge 4 foot by 8-foot table in the middle of my living room. On it is a huge 9-foot long wet-erase grid-sheet that also doubles as our dungeon and combat grid-map (yes, which is as awesome as it sounds). On that, we have written each of our four techan classes with lines for each power level (Encounter, Daily, Utility). Then we have printed up 200+ techan powers and are assigning them locations. Several (actually a quite a few) will carry over to several different classes. This is not due because of laziness but because all the techan classes share a core concept. In the world of fantasy, techans must work together. I will have more for the weekend 'cause I wanted techan classes ready for testing by Monday. We are still finalizing the names to. I have a few of my favorite powers below...
System Shock Attack
The creature has no idea how deadly your last strike was. It continues wandering about the battlefield, unaware of the level of pain it’s about to experience when the shock wears off.
Daily * Martial, Sniper, Weapon
Standard Action Ranged Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 1 [W] + Dexterity modifier damage and the creature is dazed (save ends)
Effect: The moment the target stops being dazed, it takes an additional 4 [W] damage.
Meat Shield Utility
You can see the dilated pupils of the enemy in front. Before the body slumps to the soil, you grab its shoulder and hold it up as cover.
Encounter * Martial
Free Action Melee Touch
Requirement: You must have killed a medium sized creature in an adjacent square this round.
Effect: You hold the target in place. It provides cover. Only you can gain the effects of the shield. The meat shield cannot move but you can move around it. You can only use one-handed small arms while holding onto the shield.
Sustain Minor: If you let go, the meat shield drops.
Use the Mil Dot Utility
You balance every aspect of your weapon, including compensating for range, gravity and wind.
Daily * Martial, Sniper, Weapon
Standard Action Personal
Effect: Double both the normal and the long range of your weapon until the end of your round.
Natural Healer Field Expert Utility
There’s an arrow in your head. Whatever you do, don’t laugh.
Encounter (Special) * Healing, Martial
Standard Action Melee touch
Special: You can use Natural Healer as many times during an encounter as your Wisdom modifier.
Requirement: You must be trained in Heal.
Target: You or one ally.
Effect: You or the ally can spend a healing surge and regain additional hit points equal to the total skill bonus of your Heal skill.
August 17th, 2008
Published on August 17th, 2008 @ 04:06:39 pm , using 1681 words, 485 views
Dealing with some of the fluff with Amethyst, I wanted to bring up Damaskans first. Damaskans are the de-facto primary non-human race of Amethyst. They are the most numerous, the most often seen, and the ones that mingle the most with other races, notably mankind. Like all the races in the setting, Damaskans are created part from boyhood fantasies, part from historical relevance, and part from philosophical metaphor.
As many know, all the civilized races in Amethyst (save for man) are members of a greater kingdom called fae. If you were to use formal nomenclature towards it, the original fae would the domain all others came from, as well as the name of the first species, now since extinct. Narros, chaparran, and laudenian would comprise of the relevant families with damaskans, tenenbri, and gimfen all falling into the category of genus. Damaskans, themselves, can be broken into both Canam and Lauropa damaskans with gimfen, puggs, and gobbs breaking off further down. Damaskans were the first species to form after the first schism. This first schism occurred slowly as the original fae turned initially into laudenians, then later into chaparrans and finally Narros—the only three races broken directly from the original stock. Damaskans came from laudenians, emerging smaller, more naïve, and shorter lived than their ancestors. Their creation also sparked the widespread fear among older fae that the ultimate path of all of them would be to alter and change into other forms, most of whom they considered to be inferior. The Laudenians were the first to encounter this but we’ll deal with how they reacted when I talk about them. The damaskans were not actually dumber but did not have the grasp of magic their parents did. They also were shorter lived but actually more agile than the slender laudenians. Damaskans don’t need more than 400 calories a day to function perfectly and weigh not much more than 60 lbs. Beyond this, they were still very reminiscent of the parents they broke from. It’s in their emotional traits did they mark their differences.
Damaskans are not paranoid like many others. As the damaskan family of fae continued branching, they became more sociable. Unfortunately, this eventually turned into violence as marauding camps of gobbs and puggs would force themselves into the societies of others. Because damaskans were “blessed” with slightly shorter lifespans, they were compensated with a fiercer reproductive cycle than the laudenians or chaparrans. This resulted in a sudden surge of damaskans worldwide, eventually surpassing all others put together. This was also amplified by the social behavior, which encouraged the mingling of foreigners. Where tribes of chaparrans or laudenians would keep to themselves, damaskan villages would often mix their populations. By the time of the Ixindar migration, damaskans were in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, yet few damaskans were turned to corruption with the arrival of Mengus. On the other hand, chaparrans and laudenians lost nearly half their numbers with chaparrans suffering the most. This could be connected to the idea that the corruption affected the oldest races first. Using that assumption, the feral lower species would be nearly immune. Damaskans, along with narros, took on the mantle of defense to protect the civil forces of good against the encroaching shadow of evil and their population dwindled in that war.
Meanwhile, damaskans continued to develop their culture. In the early days, their youth forced them to absorb traditions from their elders. These customs were rejected when the damaskans found their own voice. They possessed strength with engineering even the narros could not match. The narros knew stonework and could carve great fortresses in mountains but could not come close to the city planning of damaskans. In centuries, cities of towering spires and perfect construction dotted the globe. Their shorter lifespan also gave to their drive of knowledge. Laudenians seldom write anything down because memories don’t fade and those that remember seldom die. Damaskans embraced the concept of knowledge retention and proceeded to write everything down. At first, this emerged with scrolls, but later bookbinding would find its way.
Laudenians were not alone in the concern of species degradation and damaskans were soon breaking into gimfen, puggs, gobbs, and others. Each branch was more social and shorter lived, finally ending in the puggs whom barely live more than 10 years and could produce offspring every month (which they did often). Damaskans did nothing to offset this trend and their faith in their continued survival laid simply in the footprint they had already established in the world. Proud members of royalty like Ellenthose Telurian and Ravenar Limshau rallied masses into their kingdoms.
The exodus caused the single greatest loss of life in damaskan history. Many could not manage the journey into the world of dreams when the Hammer fell. They were still the most numerous of all the refugees but had still lost the most. Upon their arrival in the modern world of Earth, two distinctive camps emerged. Ravenar Limshau was a progressive ruler, still encouraging the mingling of foreigners and the pushing of knowledge, believing the future of the fae depended on keeping their eyes open. Telurian was a conservative that pulled her people back to their roots, embracing older ways and encouraging more isolation with proven traditions. On the exodus, by design or by accident, the two rulers emerged on two different sides of the globe. Ellenthose and her loyals found land west of the Dragons in Lauropa, and Ravenar appeared in a massive field in the center of Canam.
In the thousand years since arriving, both sets of damaskans have taken distinctive turns, which have altered their culture as well as their physical appearances. Damasia in Lauropa is an expanding city of needle-like spires where Limshau in Canam is marked by a tight organized puzzle of leveled buildings bound in by walls. Damasia had no neighbors to speak of other than the archons of Dracontia. Limshau was surrounded on nearly every side by growing human settlements. Limshau made a point to contact them and attempt diplomacy. They formed alliances with Kannos and later, Abidan. Ravenar’s descendant, Limshau III, approached the bastion of Angel and came to realize the extent of the human footprint before their own cataclysm brought them down. Limshau was an exotic—an elf with aged wisdom and strengths no human could replicate. His charisma, as well as his familiar physical characteristics which bore similarities to the Asian population in Angel, resulted in a huge following of wide-eyed and romantic supporters trailing behind as he returned to his empire. This influx encouraged more humans from struggling villages across the entire continent. Despite the encouragement to welcome outsiders, damaskans, like all fae, are skittish to bond with those they don’t understand. Despite whimsical pursuits and the nonstop of exposure to mankind, there are still very few bonds of damaskan and human. It did not change a certain influence, which altered Limshau damaskans. They now have dark hair to the Damasian blonde. They also obsess over details and organization while Damasians are more like their laudenian ancestors and handle affairs more loosely. All damaskans still possessed a lingering mistrust of newcomers. They loathe vocal outbursts, distractions, and the need to fill silence with conversations.
Humans got to calling damaskans “elves”, a term they also apply to other fae races, though not as exclusively. This is because, in Canam, the gimfen and damaskans are usually the only fae any humans ever encounter. They resemble the traditional elves nearly to a tee. They are romantic and kind and are the pursuit of many suitors, though they often encountered failure.
From a story perspective, damaskans represent the pubescent goals of adults dreaming about their youth. Because of their position in the world, and specifically Canam, they are under the crosshairs of many of dire intent. They are the focus of hate from the dark halves of humanity, symbolizing the various minorities hunted down because of their differences or positions in society. Because they are the de-facto elves, and the poster-images of all non-humans, they are the most victimized by the monsters of men. When the slavers in Baruch Malkut print posters with reward for capture, they show an image of a damaskan. Because of their progressive and alternate views of society, they have been declared infidels, demons, or generally inferior. Damaskans, like all fae, don’t fall into the feral instincts like man (because fae were never animals). They don’t have the overpowering drive to reproduce or envy what others possess. They don’t have addictive personalities and are not bound by greed or selfishness. They are comfortable with their own boundaries and don’t try to push their values on other so don’t have laws against drug use, prostitution, or homosexuality. This places them at the centre of hatred for a variety of immature and racist eyes. In that, damaskans are a surrogate for every minority in humanity that has been victimized or abused. The fact that damaskans are peaceful, wise, and beautiful (at least, in my opinion), makes such symbol even the more jarring. Other humans like all of those living in Limshau as well as the allied human lands of Abidan and Kannos do not understand this machine of hatred that is being fueled. Baruch Malkut has turned the machine into a profit by enslaving elves to serve their own needs.
Damaskans learned quickly that humans are all different. Unlike fae, where a species will share similar ideas and dispositions regardless of where they were raised, humans are bound by those around them. Damaskans despise the people of Malkut but trust those from other realms. Humans are still welcome within their walls and elves are still known to take human mates, sacrificing part of their lifespan to that of the shorter-lived spouse. Although the standard elf of the setting, damaskans are by no means simple or boring. Their obsession with knowledge and the challenge and duty of combating the evils done against them makes them one of the most interesting races to play.
August 15th, 2008
Published on August 15th, 2008 @ 02:07:29 pm , using 153 words, 223 views
As many have read, there is an update to the GSL coming soon (most likely after GenCon) which will address certain issues 3PPs have had with the wording. They promise (or hope being a better word) to alleviate restrictions within the license. How will this impact the development of Amethyst?
Not in the slightest bit. Unless they make it MORE restrictive (which in unlikely) no additional freedom they will offer will really affect the progress we are making. We will still be renaming all our creatures; we will still be keeping the rules unchanged. Whether or not we will keep Cleric, Paladin, and Warlock from the system remains to be seen. But when it comes to the changes we instigated to follow the GSL, we are actually happier now with our new version than the last one. Don't expect a huge retroactive post based on the revisions of this new GSL.
August 15th, 2008
Published on August 15th, 2008 @ 12:59:21 am , using 249 words, 204 views
In four days, I have created 130+ Powers for techan classes. This would be the time someone asks if I have a life. I have another job that actually accounts for every morsel of social energy I have. I refuse to play World of Warcraft for reasons I will not currently divulge. I won't go into detail on said powers yet. I am sure we will juggle these powers around until we find a configuration we like. Once again, I will stress that the intent of these powers is that all the techans must work in conjunction to succeed. Nearly every class has abilities that require effort from other players or that give benefits to other players. I'll be honest and say that we've watched quite a few war movies in the past few weeks. Selfish techans are dead techans.
I have also tried to keep the new rules to a minimum. We have three pages of disruption, a half page for vehicle combat, and a 1/4 page for new techan rules regarding automatic fire and ammunition usage.
We need a name for a dwarf-like abomination. The search goes on.
There are still openings for the playtesting if anyone is interested.
Starting next week, I will be going into fluff as I dive into the background of the actual game and how it got to where it is now...
Oh, and Mummy 3 doesn't suck...it just could be better. It does have one of the coolest spellbooks I have ever seen...
August 13th, 2008
Published on August 13th, 2008 @ 12:41:53 am , using 728 words, 209 views
You see, originally, we had stat boosts for techans via a nano/micromachine injections, an idea I carried over from my free Ghost in the Shell D20 RPG from Serena Dawn. Basically, it was a way for techans to up their stats without having to wear powered armor all the time. The problem with them was the fluff. By definition, they were high-tech, and thus hard to find. Technically, they would also be expensive. I stated earlier that a Tech Level is now an enhancement bonus (and also sometimes an item bonus) to various applications including hit and damage bonus (Didn't I mention that? Oh well, I did now). So in effect, the micromachine injections would be breaking the rules unless we only offer them at a +4 bonus, making techan characters underpowered in respect to a fantasy party until they got them.
To explain the rest, I need to set the "way-back" machine to last week when I was creating enhanced equipment for technology. The lazy approach (and hopeful this won't upset other companies doing it like this) to creating said gear would be to create cloned equipment that operate exactly like their fantasy counterpart....like a cloak of techno-invisibility or cyber gauntlets of robot power (I know Jibblets is going to declare that a super awesome idea...I'm waiting). I decided against it and instead created items that would logically offer said bonuses based on probable progress. So, even though we still have goggles of darkvision (Infrared nightvision headset) the majority of the other items make sense. This unfortunately opened a gap in technology. There was simply not enough technology for 30 levels of techans. I mean, when you actually add up all the fantasy magic items, we are talking over 600. There cannot be six levels of aforementioned infrared goggles. I even had to invent generic power armor with scaling costs from 175,000 to 3,000,000 to offer some variety. Therefore, this left a significant gap, specifically, with cloaks. Some powered armor offer additional enhancement bonuses to Reflex and Fortitude but they don't offer anything to Will. All techan players have a bonus to will because of their resistance to magic (until they welcome it in), but there is simply no techno-cloak to offer bonuses to Reflex, Will, and Fortitude.
So, back to injections. Initially, this became our solution. Micromachines would alter your body and instill the bonuses naturally. Since techans equipment does not work with echans and echan magic items do not work with techans, we could get away with creating a new "slot" just for techans. However, there was still an issue with availability. There is only one bastion outputting high tech in Canam and they're xenophobic. There had to be a way to make injections accessible to lower level characters.
Drugs...well, not just drugs. The lineup is as follows: TL1 and 2 = +1 and +2 bonuses = drug injections. TL3 and 4 = +3 and +4 bonuses = Viral/Gene therapy. TL5 and 6 = +5 and +6 bonuses = Micromachine injections. This offers players to access lower tech bonuses that make sense in the fluff. Naturally, this offers up an additional issue. While micromachine injections and gene therapy could be permanent, drug shots would not be. So these injections via jet hypo would be temporary and only last to the end of the encounter. They are much cheaper than the TL3+ injections, requiring players to shoot up if they really feel they need that +2 bonus to Ref or Will. I feel this angle is a wonderfully dark approach to the material, forcing techan players to make tough decisions about what they are willing to risk and sacrifice for that extra edge. These bonuses are also not exactly like cloaks, so there is not one that offers bonuses to Reflex, Will, and Fortitude. Each injection adds a bonus to one with an additional ability. You can have up to two in your system without problems and being enhancement bonuses, they do not stack with cloaks or bonuses offered by powered armor.
Agility: This booster improves overall reaction time and swiftness.
Enhancement Bonus: Gain the TL as an item bonus to Reflex Defense.
Property: Gain the TL as an item bonus to Acrobat checks.
Property: TL1&2—Power (Encounter) Minor Action, stand up from prone. TL3&4—Power (Daily) Free Action, reroll an Acrobatics roll you just made. You must use the new result. TL5&6—Gain a +1 item bonus to speed.
August 10th, 2008
Published on August 10th, 2008 @ 12:39:19 am , using 331 words, 649 views
Equipment is done, but more important, we have the initial stage of EDF "Disruption" rules ready for testing. What's interesting about it is the three pages of explanation and justification that can be summed up with a single D20 roll. The rules have options that add a level of chaos to the whole affair and should give the DM some joy in executing.
I am moving through vehicles rather slowly as I am not sure the extent of their involvement. Will they be like caravans--people carriers and nothing more--or will they be involved in combat encounters? I decided on the latter but with a radically toned down approach to the 3.5 version...which is becoming par the course for the entire book. It is our aim to streamline every element of the old Amethyst 3.5 conversion. This will hopefully encourage people that buy the game to actually play it. EDF rules, I believe, are actually playable now. I want the same with vehicles.
That being said, there will be fewer available in this new version. Yes, we have said that this new version is toning down bastion vs. bastion conflict, reducing the capacity for players to infiltrate other bastions on a mission of espionage. This is not Shadowrun, so we have dropped this angle. So all city-based vehicles are gone. All that's left are the wheels and tracked vehicles...and of course, the ETVs (Echan Terrain Vehicles)--house sized goliaths and push and lumber their way through the fantasy landscape. A few of these have fallen out of the book as well.
I so liked the Roughbike...a huge wheeled gyroscopically stabilized bike that could raise or lower its profile and even bend around corners... Then I saw The Dark Knight...and there it was. So, let's all wave a flipped goodbye to the Roughbike. The Panther will probably still hang around.
Next time, I'll discuss why I don't support drug use even though there are three pages of it in the book.
August 7th, 2008
Published on August 7th, 2008 @ 07:04:27 pm , using 601 words, 264 views
In a world where technology breaks down after time or the further you walk away from where it was built, the idea of replacing a fully functional organic limb immune to the effects of disruption would seem somewhat foolish. So, no, there are no cybernetics being presented in Amethyst. High tech level bastions don't make more resistant cybernetic limbs, they make stronger organic ones. A strange decision since I put all that work in the D20 Ghost in the Shell Game I posted two years ago on Serena Dawn. It would have been easy.
I made a claim somewhere that armor was going to be finished two days ago. That ended up not occurring. This is because of a realization that struck me yesterday. Techans have a limited selection of items, weapons, and armor. Why? There are no custom items. A plasma weapon does not start at +1 enhancement and move up to +6. You have a gunpowder autoloader at 1st level and save up for the +5 plasma when you hit 21st level. This ended up balancing rather nicely. However, I can't in clean conscious make 40 different types of unique armor. As a result, there are only 23 different variations of techan armor. Of course, you can buy fantasy scale or leather. The majority of these techan suits occur at paragon and epic levels. This was not the real concern.
The concern was all the other magical items in the book. There is no technological equivalent of +6 cloak of protection or gauntlets of ogre power. Sure, we have micromachine injections that will offer some options but these also somewhat rare (at least they should be). We have infrared goggles to offer nightvision and light benders for invisibility but we can't just start making excuses for technology because it will just appear like we are redressing magic as technology (I am sure there is some philosophical point hiding here somewhere...maybe a quote from one of Arthur C. Clarke's three laws).
I wanted to make it appear plausible. Therefore, the number of items with enhancement bonuses is rather limited. Micromachines and Armor fill in the rest. Beyond what I mentioned about the MM Injections being able to replicate a few items (enhancement bonuses to Fort, Will, and Ref for example), Armor is the real balance for echa. High tech level armor combines the benefits of several items, not just armor. Our power armor, for example, not only offer bonuses to AC, but to Fort, Ref, and Will as well (Item bonuses, so they don't stack with the aforementioned MM Injections). They also offer bonuses to Acrobat rolls, Athletic rolls; many have fire and/or cold resistance. The big ones even have +1 reach. The higher Tech Level armors will appear severely over-priced. They have a price listed two levels above their expectation. This is because they are killing two birds (or occupying several slots) at once. And yes, in case you were wondering, higher level armor counts as two items if you create a character at a higher level.
Defense Bonus: Gain +4 item bonus to Reflex Defense and +4 item bonus to Fortitude Defense.
Boosters: Gain a +5 item bonus to Athletics when performing a jump.
Power (daily): Minor Action. If disrupted, the machine comes back online.
Resistances: Gain resist 5 fire, resist 5 lightning, resist 5 acid and resist 10 poison.
Maneuverability: You also gain a +2 item bonus to all acrobatic rolls and a +1 item bonus to speed.
Special: The power system operates the entire suit and if it is disrupted, the suit becomes immobile until back online. Entering and powering the suit is the same as donning full plate.
August 5th, 2008
Published on August 5th, 2008 @ 03:20:36 pm , using 203 words, 271 views
I got three days off to work on the game and I need it considering the hella week I had at the day job. I feel like I just got zapped by Brack’s amazing Technicolor cheese-wedge (and no, I am never going to explain that reference).
In the mad dash through equipment, Echan Weapons, Ranged Weapon, and Grenades have been finished and Armor will follow by the end of the day. Playtesters will be emailed today or tommorow. It will involve three stages:
1) Echan Heroic-to-Paragon: Creating fantasy characters using Amethyst races and Lifepaths. You can then play any traditional DnD game as you like, moving up the levels, eventually choosing a paragon path (hopefully several) and testing their abilities as well.
2) Techan Heroic-to-Paragon: The hard one, where you would do the same thing with our techan characters, also running them through different dungeons and levels, including paragon.
3) Monsters: Where you would take both fantasy characters and techan characters and pit them against monsters in the Amethyst setting. This will be the closest to the final form of the game.
Techans probably won't be finished until September. I will also have the Rituals and Artifacts completed by then as well. That's the plan.
August 3rd, 2008
Published on August 3rd, 2008 @ 02:49:53 am , using 624 words, 901 views
Talking with someone on painkillers on ideas for the new DEM logo was an interesting experience which included such progressive ideas as presenting it as kanji writing, including a picture of god zotting a player with lightning bolts, or just a god-sized fist coming from one side and roflstomping a fighter's face like Neo to Agent Smith at the end of Revolutions.
I am not one to talk. Two days ago, I thought up a Laudenian martial class called the Keeper of Stones. It had such progressive ideas as making your weapon bigger and making it set on fire... Yeah I know, I deleted it and judged my paragon path making days done for now. I moved onto Equipment.
...Which is proving easier than I thought. Echan weapons are already done and techans are about 75% complete. The way it works is that weapons are built around magic items but not presented as such. If you remember tech levels from the 3.5 game, they are back. Only this time, instead of just determining rarity and disruption chance, they also denote a weapon's enhancement bonus to hit and damage. It might not make sense on the surface until you understand that a plasma pistol and an autoloader do the same damage. But an autoloader is a TL0 weapon and the plasma pistol is TL6, so right there, the plasma weapon does +6 damage. In addition, to supplement the Weapon Properties section of the 4ED PHB, we've added new ones to apply to these weapons. They include: Laser, Plasma, Gauss, etc.
Here is an example:
Laser: Lasers weapons give away their firer's location but deliver devastating damage few can resist. They can also track targets easier with subsequent impacts. There are laser pistols, rifles, and assault cannons.
Critical: 1d8 damage per tech level and the target is blinded (save ends).
Special: If you strike successfully with a laser, every subsequent round gains a +1 to hit that same target. This is not cumulative and is removed if you don’t fire at the same target or if you miss that same target the following round.
Ahh...you ask, aren't all lasers the same tech level? Nope. There are lasers that are TL 4 and TL5. The same goes for most weapons. There will be less selection than the last book, but that's because we really didn't see the reason to include 11 different calibers of firearms. From where there were 23 total pistols, now there are only 16. It just makes it easier because really, who thought that was good?
We decided to finish weapons and EDF before really diving into techan classes. They're coming soon. Oh, and I know we have not contacted playtesters yet. Soon...soon...
One last thing:
In the past few weeks, and even just in the past few days, there has been A LOT of gossip about 3rd Party Publishers rebelling against the GSL. Some people are connecting it to the Boston Tea Party (okay, no one is. I just wanted to feel smart) with different companies claiming to either be ignoring 4ED completely--remaining with 3.5 OGL--or finding a legal loophole to produce 4ED products without the license. Green Ronin, Paizo, Kenzar, and now Necromancer has thrown up their flags against the wall of approaching tanks. But are those tanks really there? I love these companies. They put out good stuff but...I guess I got nothing else on that. One company I can appreciate is Goodman Games and I reccomend anyone that reads this to hear a podcast done last week. At least these companies aren't curb-stomping their own reputation like West End just did. Oh, and the accusation that the Wrong Step ability for the Pathfinder paragon path is a jab against Paizo is kinda retarded.
August 1st, 2008
Published on August 1st, 2008 @ 04:40:23 am , using 470 words, 282 views
At this rate, it should still be the weekend before emails go out for playtesters. I can say without a shadow that the first phase will be heroic fantasy adventuring. Just pick any old dungeon romp see if any of the lifepaths and feats break the system. Paragons can also be tested. It may be until September before techans are done.
We are STILL debating EDF rules but I think we are closing in on a final solution which will result in one initial roll, and one follow-up roll depending on the first. That's a maximum of two rolls per round, not per character.
Weapons will be made like magic items. Is that lazy? I don't think so. It is a simnple solution and allows us to skip the stress of testing out an entirety different scaling system. So in theory, the plasma pistol and a traditional firearm may not be so different. Both would do 1d6 damage though with the Plasma weapon being TL5, it would add an additional +5 to damage. We are not sure yet if we will give it a bonus to hit or offer the bonuses within the classes to balance. Said plasma pistol would also inflict additional fire damage as well. Other attributes would apply as well. After I spellcheck the playtesting package (It will have errors, folks), I'm tackling those...and honestly, they'll be a walk in the park in comparison to paragon paths.
I had this conversation with Jibblets where we commented that DnD 4ED kinda throws sand in your face about the differences between the classes. There really isn't very many. There are just variations on themes. A good example are paragon paths. Count how many different ways there are to use an action point. Ever path has one...and there are like 30 different paths in the book...but only maybe five different ways to use an action point among them. My anxiety was to create something different for each one of ours without just photochoping their ideas. At about 15 paths, I decided to stop. That's not including another 5 or 6 techan paths to come.
Lifepaths? We're up to 35.
By the way, the forum would be a great place to post any wishes for the new book--what you would like and not like to see...
Oh, and the Kannos Kavalier has a paragon path called the Kaptain...then I realized that was stupid and called him a Mutaharrik Captain.
Oh, and if people are still wondering what the heck is going on with the GSL and 3rd Party Publishers, check out this blog with Joseph Goodman from Goodman games.
Like I always said, I was never worried.
And if you have any sense, you'll buy the new Dark City Director's Cut and see what good science fiction is all about.