the Faded

So if all your soul has been traded away (or fallen off, or been eaten, or you tore it all out, or it was burned up, or any number of possibilities really), and that didn’t just end you (because perhaps a body just might keep moving without a soul), what else might happen?

Nothing pleasant, honestly.

You might become a mindless creature, an empty husk driven by nothing but a nagging hunger and a wisp of memory. Far too many courts of aethera notables keep such wretches as guard-beasts and hunters, with the most sluggish considered suitable only for simple brute labour.

That’s a fairly common fate.

Or you might get to hold onto your sense of self. Your soul may be empty, you may feel — you may be — as fragile as a blown-glass bubble, and you may hunger for what you’ve lost, but you retain mind and will and you have choices. You can chase after what you’ve lost, for one, or you may become a scavenger — or predator — of soulstuff of your own accord, or perhaps you choose a path of agonizing asceticism, or …

Sometimes, that latter fate may even overtake one who still clings to some portions of their soul. Which does protect against becoming a husk, at least. Even if you lose the last remnants of your soul, you are assured to keep your awareness.

If you do become one of the Faded, what does that mean in practical terms?

– magic or other effects that target the soul no longer work on you, either because you no longer have one or because the scrap you have left is too withered to be affected
– you can sense the presence of loose soulstuff close by with a Psyche test (Wis check), unless it’s warded or protected in some way
– you may choose to cause soul-rending instead of physical injury when you attack a target, with a 1-in-6 chance of a recoverable fragment of soul lingering afterwards. (provided your target has a soul to begin with.)

That’s the neutral-to-positive points.

There’s more negative ones, naturally.

– first and foremost is the hunger. you are at -1 to all tests due to the emptiness inside your self, which you can abate for a time by devouring soulstuff; the more, and the more powerful, the longer you can last, from a few hours for the simplest shards to a month or more for soul portions drawn from an influential, resplendent, powerful being.
– even though your self is still intact, your memory has taken a beating; you’ve lost up to a quarter of your memories, and recalling significant events or knowledge requires a Psyche test
– your empty self is unnerving and offputting, giving your Disadvantage on social interactions unless with close confederates or those sympathetic to your plight
– you heal poorly; normal healing occurs at half the usual rate, while magical or other unusual forms fail half the time.

[there are no tests or percentages or the like given for becoming one of the Faded, for a very simple reason: some may want these fates to be a common sword to hang over soul-barterers’ heads; other may wish these to be rare birds indeed; yet others may wish to discard the idea altogether. as always, set the odds to your own discretion — and make sure everyone playing is equally comfortable with whatever is decided.]

Needless to say, the denizens of the Manifold Palaces are seldom pleased to find one of the Faded loose in their domains …

the Economics of souls, life, and the worlds beyond worlds

Naturally, the denizens of the realms beyond don’t wait for folks to shuffle off their mortal coil if they can help it. No, there’s quicker and more efficient methods to acquire the lucre that keeps the planes spinning, and it doesn’t even have to mean stealing it (though that’s also an option). After all, if they have something you want (soulstuff, essence), and you have something they want – why not make a deal? Just sign on the dotted line …

The Soul Trade

Every sapient being (and most non-sapient beings) has a soul or spirit, that un-measurable thing that makes them them. What many of them don’t realize is that you don’t need your whole soul to still be your whole you; it’s possible to give part of your soul away. More than once, at that!

Which is very convenient for soul-hungry denizens of the Manifold Palaces, because oh do they have wonders to offer. Tutoring in esoteric wisdoms, powerful magics and exotic enchantments, the bestowing of reshaped forms and invigorating new powers, promises of favours or particular pacts – all these and more may tumble from rarefied aetheran hands. The denizens of the Cerulean Hell specialize in negotiating just these contracts — for a small consideration of their own — above and beyond their own, more intimate pledges, while the Iron Judges will descend like silent blades on those who violate them.

There’s a sting, however. (Of course there is.) Even if one has made the most upstanding of trade-pacts with the most honourable of aetheras, you have still given away a part of your soul. And, while slivering off pieces won’t unmake you – unless you give away that last tiny shard – if enough of your soul winds up in one individual’s possession, that individual can exert influence on you. Influence that becomes harder and harder to resist, the more of your soul they possess.

So keep two things in mind:

• The more parts you break your soul into, the smaller the portion you keep, and fractions are jerks
• The Manifold Palaces run on the soul trade, and that does mean trade. And all someone has to do is have a greater investment in your soul than you do; they don’t have to start that way, and you don’t have a guarantee that your soul portions stay where you think they started …

The Price of Life

In the Foundations, soulstuff is valuable – it’s still an accepted currency – but the high and mighty and their imitators have a taste for something a touch more concrete. That something is Essence, and to drink deep and bear away a portion of your animating force, the more amiable (or devious) of the primals are happy to make a trade for it.

It’s not enough for you to bleed for them, after all; what they want is part of your vital Essence, and without great effort you aren’t getting that back. On the upside, there’s no tit-for-tat strings attached the way there is for the soul trade – you’ve lost vitality, and you’re arguably one step closer to death, but you aren’t risking being controlled without warning.

Game Considerations

Essence: Is your permanent Essence score. If you have an Essence of 4 and you sign away a point of Essence for benefits, you now have an Essence of 3. You can buy it back up again with advancement points, if that’s a campaign option, but bartered Essence costs double to replace (buying Essence after that reverts to normal costs).

Soul: Your soul is measured in points equal to your (Psyche + Essence)/2, a “soulstuff pool” if you will. As long as your character retains at least one point in that pool, they’re still good to go (although they’re going to look mighty moth-eaten and unappealing to folks looking to barter, and to anyone who can sense integrity of selfhood for that matter). Buying up your traits will “grow” your soul back a bit, but this can start getting expensive fast …

[for games hewing more like B/X and its friends before and after, a character’s tradable Essence pool can be considered equal to its Hit Dice, while its Soul pool is (Wis + 1/2 Cha). yes, this means losing a Hit Die of hit points.]

Soul Trade Practicalities

So you’ve agreed to part with a piece of your soul.  Or more than one.  Or you’ve happened to come into possession of someone else’s soul or pieces thereof.  Or maybe you want to keep your intrinsic self intact, but you don’t mind sharing your vital essence and giving a bit of life up for something more tangible.

Whichever it may be, you have a commodity and an interested party (or, again, more than one); but what might that commodity get you?

Here are some guidelines for bartering your life and soul away; but prices can always fluctuate, and remember — not all entities honour their bargains, and even the most upstanding may not actually have what you’re looking for.

Trifle (1-2 points): +1 to relevant Attribute on a specific type of test (poisons, scholarship), +2 AP (mystical armour, scales, metallic skin, force-mantle), lost knowledge, a specific ring-pattern, mundane valuables, a specific physical feature (including unusual colours or limbs or ornaments), a spell or trait, an enemy’s weakness, unusual esoterica (sponsorship, tutoring, letter of recommendation)

Boon (3-4 points): 1-2 increase to Attribute or Essence, Advantage on a specific type of test (poisons, scholarship), secrets taken to the grave, a specific physical feature that grants a special power, +3-4 AP, several spells, a single soulshard from someone else, enchanted critter companion, removing (or placing) a curse, creating a manor (or equivalent) from nothing

Treasured Boon (5-6):  a grimoire of spells, elemental/environmental immunity, powerful enchanted object or weapon, defeating or killing an enemy or rival, granting a trifle or boon to a third party, exotic materials or resources, dramatic environmental reshaping, someone’s memories, innate elemental or other form of ranged attack (calling lightning, “spirit sword” at will, psychic beams)

psionics in the works

Over the last stretch of weeks, after contemplating the idea for most of last fall (I can be very slow), I’ve been putting together a set of psionic talents for pocketrpg stuff.

(I’m kind of thinking of tweaking the phrasing of a few of them and releasing a Creative Commons version of the talents themselves, like I did when I put out a hundred CC spells over the holidays)

And yeah, I basically used the tried-and-true thematic subdivisions, because

1) they work so why change it
2) they’ve existed through all branches of specfic as well as through sff rpgs
However! My end results have seven paths/schools/disciplines/whatever, instead of the “usual” (A)D&D six, for the following reasons and rambling train of thought to get to the end result:

1) I liked some of the ideas behind the Metapsionics discipline in 2e, but not all of them, and also the idea of locking stuff behind/into “the uber discipline” was and is annoying
2) similarly I really like the Metacreativity discipline in 3e, because making stuff is cool, manipulating ectoplasm — originally as much considering a psychic manifestation as a ~ghosty manifestation, thanks so much Ghostbusters *grumbles* — is cool, and why I never liked anything to do with crystal anythings why do you ask *shifty look*
3) if psionics is powered by your will, your “you”, your spirit/soul/insert-whatever-term, there should be spirit stuff in general
4) buuuut I hate the (often frankly creepy and not in a horror way) “occult” trappings that get slathered all over that end of things (a turnoff I have with Pathfinder’s approach to psionics, for example, because it lays it on thick)
5) I wanted to try to avoid the exoticizing/Orientalizing that keeps slinking into psionics stuff, from names to definitions

Also “telepathy” needed some tweaking, although in the end it really is about messing with people’s minds as much as talking to them and that’s annoying. I’ve avoided the worst mind control, though, I hope.

So in the end I have seven groups, labeled with one-word titles because frankly I think a good amount of the “psionics doesn’t belong in fantasy” crowd — aside from having missed whole branches of the fantasy genre in general for the many decades — are put off by the oft-deliberate pseudo-scientific name schemes in place.

To whit:

– Sight (“clairsentience”)
– Mind (“telepathy”)
– Body (“psychometabolism”)
– Forces (“psychokinetics”)
– Motion (“psychoportation”)
– Matter (3e “metacreativity”, tweaked just a smidge)
– Spirit (“metapsionics” 2e stripped down and recombined with spirit- and ghosty- and intangible stuff)

Twelve talents each, and I did my best to avoid jargon with the talent names also. (oh gawd I wrote another 80-odd thingers plz end me *lol*)

Hopefully I get some simple formatting done and these up by the end of the week or maybe next week. Definitely debating over a CC version also though.

And of course, nothing’s stopping anyone from using these, once they’re up, as just another pile of spells to add to a spell pool anyway; there’s nothing inherently different about them in the end. It’s all cool.

Dicember 2021 – slow

Sometimes a spell needs cast, but the target is nowhere around. Or they moved out of range (that jerk), or they were never actually really in range to begin with (dammit) but you just know they need that cure spell/fireball/dark hex dropped on their head and they needed it yesterday.

There’s a way to get around that!

The downside is that it’s not the nice swift casting many sorcerers, wyches and swordmages are used to. Not by a long shot.

The upside is that not only can you whittle that loooong timeframe down, you can also choose to boost the spell’s power the same way — by throwing bodies and treasure at the problem. Sort of like everything else in the world, when you think about it.

The basic premise is:

– You need a catalyst to fuel such extended spellcasting.
– You need to know where your target is (scrying magic is totally allowable).
– If you don’t also know your target well, you need a physical sample or a closely-associated object to draw the connection to the target.
– Any casting will take one hour, minimum. For every 10 miles away, add another hour.
– Anyone, including the target, who can sense magical energies will notice the buildup halfway through the process — and some may have the ability to target you, back through the building spell.

However, there are mitigating circumstances to make this slightly less painful:

– For every extra caster taking part in the ritual, either the total time may be lowered by one hour, or the spell (or the test against it) can be given a one-increment boost — another effective level’s damage die, if using those, or a save against it is given a -1 penalty, for example.
– Non-casters can help, but each requires an additional catalyst and, on top of that, take 1d3 “damage” to an ability for 24 hrs.
So if you really, really badly want that long-distance spell cast — or just to seriously boost a spell result closer to home — put in the time and give it a shot.

Needed Catalyst

01. dragon’s tear
02. jadetree twig
03. lunargent ingot
04. lock of bloodlord’s hair
05. page of centuries-old manuscript
06. pair of darkwolf teeth
07. shadowmoth cocoon
08. swordsaint’s relic
09. angel’s talon
10. solaurum ingot
11. chain of blue-celestine links
12. consecrated altar-wood

Oh no, the spell was thwarted! What was the cause?

01. Nullmagic zone
02. Circle of countercasting ritualists
03. Sleeping in protective circle inscribed by tusk-wand
04. Was in a holy (or unholy) sanctuary
05. Peach-stone talisman, now charred
06. Angelic intervention
07. Diabolic intervention
08. Pact with a bloodlord
09. Transferred spell to second, willing target
10. Location and/or identity of target was not in fact accurate
11. Purified by salt and rose petals
12. Flaw in catalyst(s) used by ritual

Dicember 2021 – huge

Something I poke at on occasion is oversized (“dire”, “grand”, etc) weapons.

Because yes, sometimes I just want to play Cloud for a while, and I’m not even sorry.

So how to go about it with most of the games I’ve been poking at lately? (Exalted, of course, has this answer baked in already, so it can doodle in the corner over there for a while.) What needs to be covered to fit a sword that’s more like a sharpened steel ironing board into a game?

The way I see it, you need:

– the ironing-board-sized sword (or whatever)
– how its going to be wielded
– what it’s going to do
– what other results/effects

Now, the last thing I want is anything complicated, and while I could just try to bolt on Exalted’s reasoning, it’s fairly intrinsic to Exalts-as-existing-in-universe so that could get a little weird just about anywhere else. (but hold that thought for another time. lol.) I want something fairly simple, so I can apply it to OSE or Black Hack or Wandering Jewel Moons or whatever; sort of like my scratch rules for adding mecha.

So, I think I’ll tinker around with the following.

– A “grand” weapon adds a die of the appropriate type to its damage. Big chopper based on a standard sword in OSE? 2d8. This does still have a low end, but even slabs of metal can just graze.

– You cannot deal subdual damage with a “grand” weapon. (come on, now.)

So how to introduce these? Maybe

– If your system has any kind of class or other abilities, make “Grand Weapon Wielder” an optional choice. Replace one of the Warrior abilities in TBH; make it a selectable Trait in Wandering Jewel Moons; add it to the list of OSE Fighter combat options from Carrion Crawler #1 or let it replace a feature from the Cavalier or Paladin. You get the idea.

But what if your Fighter is a basic Fighter type, with no extras? Or if you don’t want someone to pay for the ability mechanically in quite that way?

– Then I suppose you can say a Strength/Body/whatever minimum is needed; say 17-18 on the usual 3d6 possibility. Maybe 16-18 or even 15, you want PCs to be able to do this or why put it in there as an option?

Yes, it’s a lot of damage. Yes, that’s the entire point.

What these behemoths will do, though, even if their wielder knows what they’re doing, is get in the way the rest of the time. Even if you can and know how to carry the thing, that slab is big, awkward, and intractible.

Which means they eat up encumbrance like a mofo.

Play a game with equipment/encumbrance slots? A Grand weapon eats at least two. Probably three. Definitely twice a normal weapon of its type, for sure.

Track encumbrance by weight? The thing weighs a shitton. This will vary by actual weapon of course, but come on now, the Buster Sword is surely easily comparable to a pile of armour in weight at the very least.

And if you want to be devilish, say if Grand weapons are enchanted (if they are enchanted at all) they have a high chance of being sentient if not sapient. And willful. Lol.

Planar travel: Ringwalking

Work on my pocket-planes addon has gotten some core portions committed to words. Yay!

One of those is ringwalking; in other words, how all this dimensional-planar-world travel is actually happening a lot of the time.

(not all the time, of course, because there’s still plenty of place for mysterious arches and exactingly-wrought spells and magical doodads that just need twisted and poked in the right way)

Do your characters like collecting patterns and brushing up on calligraphy and illo work by any chance?


To ringwalk across the planes, one must be taught; and then, one must have learned the pattern of the ring of ghostly sigils that needs to be inscribed (on a surface or even in empty air, though that’s certainly more difficult) in order to open said ring and walk on through to the other side ~

  • Inscribing a ring requires two successful tests, one of Alacrity and one of Psyche. Failing the Psyche test means that the ring fails to ignite at all; failing the Alacrity test means a flaw in the pattern of sigils, and you wind up somewhere other than the intended destination, and the greater the failure of the test the farther out you find yourself.
  • 1 advancement point may be spent to indicate the memorization of a specific pattern to the point that no rolls need be made barring extreme circumstances.
  • Inscribing a ring will take at least a few minutes, even if the pattern has been memorized. (2d6 is a nice roll.) Conditions at the time may add to that!
  • Some patterns are easy to inscribe, the plane familiar (like one’s home) or easy to reach, and give a bonus (+1 to +3) to one or both attributes; similarly, others are fiendishly tricky, or the plane is distant, tenuously connected, barricaded by gods or dragons or wards, or otherwise a complication.
  • It’s possible to find patterns that have been written down! Of course, whether enough information is also there to say anything about the destination is a trickier question, and so is the accuracy of any such information — or the accuracy of the sigils themselves, for that matter. More than one ringwalker learned a broken ring from physical records and found themselves walking into very unexpected terrain indeed.

Bolt-on mecha (and random tables)

I like mecha. I like mecha a lot, from personal power armours to towering colossi, sci-fi to fantasy and everything in between; Gundam to Escaflowne, Tekkaman to Xenogears. So of course I get the itch to add mecha to my games, settings and most everything else.

That itch meandered its way back and forth across my hindbrain and eventually stumbled over a small passage I wrote for my still-unfinished spacehack concerning fantasy spaceships and fighting them — and so here we are, because I also don’t feel like bolting a massive new system onto anything to get my death machines going, lol.

Back-of-napkin Mecha Rules

To add mecha to an existing rpg, rules-wise (how you add them into a setting/story is entirely up to you and well~ outside the scope of this little project, lol), try this:

  • Mecha use the exact same sort of stats as other potential antagonists.  So, monster statblocks with Hit Dice in many many games, the antagonist rankings in my pocketrpg, shorthand NPC statblocks from Shadowrun, etc etc.  Reskin as desired.  

What’s the notable difference?  The following:

  • Mecha deal damage to other mecha (or mecha-equivalents) normally.
    • They will obliterate a squishy target such as your average adventurer outright; a person is not surviving getting even broadsided by the backwash of a beam sabre. Or being stepped on. Depending on the situation a save or test to get the hell out of the way might be allowable though.
  • Under most circumstances, the average living body with typical weaponry is not going to damage a mecha.

But!  All is not lost, because adventurers gotta adventure and also Sabin Figaro and Master Asia exist.  So to the above, if desired, add the concept of [antimech] — renamed appropriately for setting and campaign, if it has a name at all — which is a fancy way of saying “deals normal damage to mecha targets”.

Some ways to make antimech abilities available:

  • Make it an intrinsic trait of some character (types); say, all Fighters can damage mecha, for example
  • Make it an acquirable trait, whether replacing an existing ability or as a purchaseable trait in games that use those
  • Some spells, psychic abilities, or magic/tech/special items may have the ability to damage mecha
  • You could also assign broad damage types as antimech; biomecha might be vulnerable to flames or to poison or necromantic energies, for example.

Please note that being able to damage a mecha doesn’t mean it won’t still turn Ixion Iron-Thewed into a bloody smear if he gets stepped on by it.  Gauge risk and rewards accordingly, lol.  Some special equipment/magic/etc might mitigate some or all damage from mecha attacks, though!

Some further considerations and ruminations:

  • Hit Dice/challenge tiers/etc correspond to a given mecha unit’s capabilities but not necessarily its size, any more than they do in “mundane” encounters.  That relatively shrimpy machine might be a top of the line prototype bristling with pain-dealing weapons and unusual systems!
    • “Power Armour”: Similarly, if you want a power armour-like unit that is basically a fancy suit for a person but conceivably can be damaged by a person, just go the [antimech] route — the machine can be damaged by routine sources, but its own attacks damage mecha (and may or may not instant-splatter other targets, depending on the suit’s power).
  • A mecha isn’t a perfectly impenetrable barrier just because it’s a death machine.  If something can still specifically target the pilot — mindprobes, curses, and so on — it’s going to still work.
  • Repair rates are largely going to be up to individual tables as well as the base system being used; maybe something along the lines of using base “healing” rules, doubled if swarmed by techs or using hyper-mending abilities of some sort, halved if no one familiar with maintenance is available or if supplies are poor, etc.  Healing magic isn’t going to work (unless the mecha is biological, perhaps ~).
  • It’s best to establish a baseline for mecha in a setting, especially if making specific mecha traits purchaseable or assignable to a unit.  Do typical machines have open cockpits/are they ridden, like FFVI Magitek Armours, or enclosed cockpits, like a Gundam?  Is flying standard or is it a special feature?  How about aquatic capabilities, or sealed cockpits/internal environments?
    • If average mecha have open cockpits, then an enclosed one (with its added protection) is worth making a special feature to acquire, especially if its capable of being a sealed environment.  Flight is a big thing, if mecha are normally ground-based.  And so on and so forth.
    • Of course an absolute free-for-all is also on the table if you want it ~
  • Themes are also good.  Are mecha in your world entirely mechanical?  Are they metal, or crystal, or biological?  Plant or meat?  Solidified light?  Solid thought?  Animated bone?  Uncountable porcelain petals held together by blood ritual channeled through amber focus-studs?  Does it vary by culture?

And now random tables, because random tables

Need some quick inspiration to help reskin that statblock or conjure up a new one? Here’s some ideas to get the ol’ creative mecha juices no, not Protoculture flowing —

Composition IComposition IIAesthetics IAesthetics II
01. Common metal01. Exotic alloy01. Sleek01. Asymmetrical
02. Bone02. Ivory02. Ponderous02. Jagged
03. Ceramic03. Stone03. Attenuated03. Angular
04. Chitin04. Shell04. Bulky04. Bulbous
05. Crystal05. Soulstuff05. Crude05. Corded
06. Mundane wood06. Plasm06. Delicate06. Chiseled
07. Precious metal07. Glass07. Jury-rigged07. Squamous
08. Living flesh08. Dead flesh08. Militaristic08. Organic
09. Hard light09. Petals09. Minimalist09. Bladed
10. Concrete10. Solid thought10. Baroque10. Halo’d
11. Pearl11. Plasteel11. Predatory11. Inscribed
12. Marble 12. Rare wood12. Mass-produced12. Banner’d
mix and match for best and most hilarious results; some more suitable for fantasy than others, lol.
using a roll on both Aesthetics tables gives nice shorthand descriptions.
FormPower SourceControlsWake it up with …
01. Humanoid01. Biojelly01. Reins & spurs01. Bond-brand
02. Piscine02. Fighting Spirit02. Ship’s wheel02. Skinprint
03. Bipedal walker03. Lightning shards03. Paired joysticks03. Circuit medallion
04. Quadruped04. Harvested souls04. Steering yoke04. Soul scanner
05. Avian05. Reactor core05. Thoughtgem05. Eye reader
06. Centaurine06. Radiant prism06. Empathetic skinsuit06. Blood sampling
07. Serpentine 07. Manastones07. Pulse-point pearls07. Sung command
08. Arthropod08. Refined fuels08. Enclosing shell08. Tuned chime
09. Amorphous09. Energy cells09. Body harness09. Answered riddle
10. Cephalopod10. Solar generator10. Gradient keyboard10. Inscribed code
11. Vehicular11. Steamworks11. Thinking cap11. Button sequence
12. Hybrid (roll twice)12. Heartjewel12. Uplink jack(s)12. Inserted prism
yes, yes, “vehicular”, because Dairugger XV exists damnit and also the Guntank is hilarious
Features IFeatures IIWeapons AWeapons B
01. Extra armour01. Long-distance flight01. Beam02. Shot
02. Generates nutrition02. Amphibious02. Razor02. Pulser
03. Life-supporting cockpit03. Barrier-generator03. Monoline 03. Blade
04. Weapon supercharger04. Network transmission node04. Banishing04. Wing
05. Magic channeler05. Cockpit sub-mecha05. Frost (Cryonic)05. Sabre
06. Psychic channeler06. Linked drone(s)06. Flame (Pyretic)06. Fang
07. Self-regeneration07. Weapon absorption07. Souleating07. Bolter
08. Flight08. Damage immunity08. Plasma08. Whip
09. Bits/dragoons/weapon drones09. Burrower09. Repeating09. Cannon
10. Transformation10. Soul-storage of pilot10. Corrosive10. Claw
11. Mana/psychic/comms jammer11. Cloaked11. Thunder11. Disrupter
12. Unusual sensor suite12. Holographic projector12. Hardlight12. Hammer
do please use both Weapons tables simultaneously! “Thunder Pulser”, anyone?

[BLHack] Multiclassing

Multiclassing isn’t built into the Blue Lotus Hack as-is, but all things being equal I don’t see any reason not to have it on the table as an option.  The more variety the merrier, says I, and this is one way to handle it.

Something maybe like this:

  • first and foremost: since there is no XP, when you gain a level you just decide which class you’re adding the level to
    • but remember, this is a 10-level system and you will lose options quickly; you will never “max out” a class if you multiclass
  • when you first take a level in a new class you gain:
    • hit points according to a roll of that class’s Hit Die
    • access to that class’s weapon and armour permissions
    • the attack damage of that class, if better than your initial class
    • the basic abilities of the class
  • choose which class you’re gaining a level in whenever the opportunity comes up; you do not need to abandon your initial class (unless this is a game houserule)
  • you do not get to stack hp rolls, or bonuses to attribute checks when leveling up
    • use whatever Hit Die or check bonus is appropriate to the gained you just leveled
  • only non-caster levels count towards gaining a new ability; only caster levels count towards gaining new gift/spell slots
  • if a level is lost due to level drain or similar, start with the most recently gained class; if you can’t remember the order after that, alternate them
    • or: drop the highest class level until they match, then alternate

[BLHack] Familiars and Animal Companions

Something left out of the BLH was the idea of a sorcerer’s familiar/bonded animal companion/etc, mainly because I didn’t want to put as many extras onto the sorcerer as I did the other classes.

So why not make the idea available to everyone? For a price, that is.

Try this on for size —

Any normal (or even not so normal) beast can be trained with time, effort and care, but to forge a deeper link between a PC and an animal takes sacrifice. The ritual to forge that link eats into the vital essence, but many consider the results worth it.

A PC with a bonded beast loses hit points from their total HP equal to twice the Hit Dice of the creature. In return, the following features are gained:

– The beast is unfailingly loyal, barring extreme abuse
– The bonded and their beast can communicate without words, heedless of distance
– The beast is more intelligent than the usual for their kind and can follow instructions at least as well as a child can
– When the beast is Close, the bonded gains AP equal to the beast’s HD, minimum of 1 AP
– A sorcerer can use their bonded beast as a conduit for their spells, up to Far-Away

Lowering one’s maximum hit points is a dangerous proposition, particularly for sorcerers, but the ability to gain a spell conduit outweighs the danger for many.

[spacehack] Ships and Ship Combat

Aetherships come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes and building materials, restricted only by the imagination and resources of the people building them (and, of course, what the GM has defined as likely). Archaic galleons, massive flower buds, stony skeletons planked with silk and bloodwood, sculpted asteroids — anything is possible. Equally varied are the possibilities for what actually makes the ship move through the Void, from vaporized shard fragments to the blood of fallen angels.

For quick determination of ship materials and propulsion sources within a given system (or for ships failing from a given system), roll on the following tables or make a selection as desired:

Ship Material

01. Voidseed11. Moonsilver
02. Giant blossom12. Porcelain
03. Godbone13. Black iron
04. Hollowed crystal14. Bone behemoth
05. Brass filigree15. Hollowed asteroid
06. Lacquer and bamboo16. Blown glass
07. An immense shell17. Leather and bone
08. Glass mosaic18. Tangled vines
09. Wood marquetry19. Sculpted ivory
10. A single leaf20. Solid light (or darkness)

Ship Propulsion

01. Godblood11. Elder bones
02. Aether shards12. “Water”wheels
03. Royal jelly13. Oars
04. Life force14. Crystallized belief
05. Essence of amber15. Distilled prayers
06. Pure magic16. Elemental cysts
07. Physical exertion17. Voidflowers
08. Void currents18. Drake hearts
09. Cosmic wind19. Precious stones
10. Sunlight20. Mental exertion

The Nuts and Bolts of Ship Stats

An aethership is statted like a monster, with Hit Dice, damage, and a handful of traits. Ships also use the standard monster damage-per-HD chart; this damage is rolled only against other ships, ship-sized or larger objects, and monsters with the [shipwreck] trait. Against small squishy targets like trees, space cows or adventurers, it can be assumed that a direct hit with a ship’s weapon means certain death. So, adventurers, be on your guard.

In similar fashion, a ship does not take damage from adventurer or monster attacks unless explictly stated, usually via the [shipwreck] trait. Dramatically setting sails on fire or severing all the guide ropes, though, that’s perfectly allowed!

* But What If I Want My Players To Smite More Stuff? (the Shipkiller Rule)

Player Characters are capable of awesome feats, it’s true, and having them have little effect on any ship — to say nothing of the many beasties with the [shipwrecker] trait — could be disappointing. To combat that, feel free to use the Shipkiller Rule:

If a PC has two more levels than a ship (or equivalent beastie) has Hit Dice, the PC can attack or otherwise affect that ship as normal. So a fighter with some experience under their belt, say, could totally throw themselves onto the hull of a ship and go ham with violent joy.

Note that this does not offer protection from ship-sized weaponry, which will still splatter a PC to particles. A normal DEX test to avoid said splattering is allowed, though!

Ships by Hit Dice (suggestions)

Fighter1 HD
Yacht2 HD
Clipper4 HD
Caravel8 HD
Merchantman6 HD
Corvette10 HD
Armada12+ HD
Station15+ HD
(yes, these are more than a bit of nonsense as names. I’m okie with that. lol.)

A ship has one weapon to attack with. Ship damage is more or less standard, but the kind of weapon involved can be wildly variable; would-be shipwrights are encouraged to get creative, or can roll on (or choose from) the following table.

Ship Weapons

01. starlance11. fairyflames
02. beaked ram12. hull razors
03. thorncannon13. plasma rain
04. light prisms14. rotbolts
05. crusher ram15. hullborer
06. stoneshot16. thunder pikes
07. vinecaster17. shellpiercer
08. vitality siphon18. ambergel sprayer
09. steelshot19. mauler jaws
10. bone ballistae20. slivershards

Additionally, for every HD a ship possesses, it gains two slots for extra traits. Sample ship traits include:

– Comfy Crewspace: Whether custom cabins or the special accomodations of a luxury liner, this ship has it. Rest and its benefits are assured.

Extra Crewspace: For each time this trait is selected, increase crew maximums by 20%.

– Speedy: Transit times are reduced by 25%.

– Responsive: The ship’s pilot has their Pilot score effectively raised by 1. This trait costs two slots.

– Reactive: Gain an extra ship action per Moment or equivalent. This trait costs two slots.

– Cargo Space: Roomy, outfitted with restraining loops, and designed to keep your goods safe. Ships without dedicated cargo space have room for crew belongings, ship’s stores, munitions and not much else.

– Armoured: Plated with black iron, fibrous crystal, shelly scales, mystic runes or stranger things, the ship gains 2 Armour Points. (per HD? works as a shield? both?)

– Greenery: The ship possesses a greenhouse, hydroponic deck, implanted microflora — or is perhaps itself a plant — and will produce breathable air for the crew. This trait must be selected at least once for every dozen crewmembers and it will nullify the penalties for going unmasked in the Void while reducing Shard Sea effects to Void levels. For food sources, see Living Larder.

– Living Larder: By growing or otherwise producing its own food sources, the ship lengthens the time between Supply Usage checks by half again.

Self-Repair: Whether enchantment, a living ship, dedicated clockworks or other, the ship will mend 1d3 hp per day without needing repair work in a dockyard.

– Special Weapon Trait: Maybe a successful attack grapples the ships, or sets the target on fire, or oozes acid, or blinds with a brilliant flash, or …

– Terrestrial Landing Capable: What it says on the tin.

– Aquatic Landing Capable: Also what it says on the tin.

Traits may be selected more than once, to reflect even greater dedication to that feature. Trait slots can be swapped for more weapons at two slots per weapon.

Ship Combat

Attacks from the party’s ship are made as for a normal character, using the attributes of whoever is helming the ship. The difference lies in what is rolled: average the character’s DEX, WIS and INT scores, this is their Pilot score that must be rolled under to attack and to avoid damage. The Powerful Foes rule still applies to ship combat.

A ship with a quarter or less of its hit points left can only attack half as often, reflecting the struggling crew and ruined structure. A ship taken to 0 hit points is effectively destroyed and all crew must test CON or be killed as the ship breaks up.

Hit points can be restored by repair work undertaken by the crew (1d4 hp/week) or in a dedicated port on land or in the void (1d8 hp/week but might get pricy).

Life Aboardship

Unless the ship has one or more instances of the Comfy Crewspace trait, the typical crewmember can assume to have enough space for a bunk or webbed hammock, with space beneath for one or two storage chests and a small shelf above, plus a lantern or other light source. Officers, the ship’s helm and the captain can generally commandeer more space for themselves, but not all do (and some ships simply don’t have the space to permit it.

* Crew numbers

A ship’s minimum crew is equal to twice its Hit Dice, to a minimum of one for a sub-1 HD ship such as a fighter or a messenger shuttle. The maximum number of bodies that can be housed is equal to three times the minimum. (For example, a 6 HD ship would have a minimum crew of 12 and a maximum of 36). However, the maximum crew number strains the capabilities of a ship to support the bodies housed inside it, and the captain must test CHA every week or face a mutiny from the over-packed crew.


While breathing is not an issue as long as proper precautions are taken, a crew must still eat and drink. The ship’s water supply and food stores must have their Usage Die checked on the following rotation:

* Minimum Crew: every month

* Median Crew: every fortnight

* Maximum Crew: every week

The ship can try to eke out supplies, but working on less than full rations will inflict Disadvantage on all rolls after a week and prompt CHA tests from the captain to avoid mutiny every week thereafter in addition to the Disadvantage penalty.

Ship rations and similar “voidfood” includes syrup tapped from voidblossoms and other cometary trees, and gelatinous billets condensed from same; pickled starvine shoots and buds; more mundane corned meats and biscuit; couscous; sugarwaxes; poppy cakes; aetherkrill, fresh and dried; and a bewildering variety of nut and legume pastes and curds.