Monday, July 9, 2018

The Three Forms of Magic Weapon, part 2 -- Temples


In my first post I talked about Occultum in detail, especially about the esoteric but fundamentally predictable properties. Occultum is the equivalent of magic Lego, many parts all interlocking, but fundamentally in a predictable fashion. Oh, and hideously expensive. Temples are different. They are much more "traditional" magic items, but have an immense array of potential forms. A few magic items can be created as either Temples or through judicious application of Occultum. For example, an alloy of rare earth metals and Occultum will lock onto the nearest large magnetic field, acting in a similar manner to an Immovable Rod. However, the strangest and rarest of magic items go beyond what can normally be achieved with Occultum. Strange alloys and weird substances merely bend the rules a little. Temples break those rules.

Temples - Brick and Mortar, Soul and Story


Not just this kind of temple, credit Grady Frederick

This kind of temple, credit Jeff Chen


Weapons and Armour

Calling a freshly-forged blade something pretentious like “Heartripper” is the equivalent of a drilled-out starter-pistol: it's dangerous, but unreliably so, and mostly used for the purposes of intimidation. Most weapons are given names only after years of heroic action, as a label and a reminder. Most people don't realise why, but misnaming a weapon is seen as very poor etiquette, primarily amongst the nobility. Names hold power, and the tools of war are not to be labelled lightly.

But what has this got to do with magic items. It stems back to the nature of spells themselves, as the alternate forms of spirits, demons, angels, and other, even stranger things. Some are given homes in corpses, others construct bodies of light and flame, while others still exist solely in the minds of Wizards and Warlocks. The barest few are capable of existing in their true form, and almost invariably are revered as gods. However, this isn't a binary, there's a spectrum from the humblest of Magic Missile to the grandest of Outer Deities. Whatever the case, most spirits/spells that exist in the material world for any length of time require a vessel. Ideally, it is something they are proud of, something that resembles their true form and purpose. Something that can be worshipped. A Temple.

These Temples are not restricted to physical locations. Certainly, nature spirits will inhabit a grove, and some gods have been domesticated by architecture, but many more will choose a form that allows them to actively participate in the mortal world they are now a part of. Of most interest to many adventurers, offensive and defensive spells will gladly* inhabit a suitable weapon or piece of armour.

Now, suitability is a tenebrous and tenuous concept when it comes to Temple items. However, arms and armour that have survived countless battles and adventures and have triumphed over insurmountable odds are invariably hot property for spirits on the rise. Lower class spells will tolerate merely masterfully created pieces, particularly if they given the respect they deserve. Jewels, rituals, solemn oaths, blood sacrifices, all this and more may be required to convince . Assume the worst if a spirit deigns to inhabit a sword of a clearly lower class than one would normally expect. Hence, the importance of naming conventions. Swords are only given names after they’ve lasted through enough battles and adventures to warrant a truly magnificent Temple. Misnaming a blade and attempting to coerce a spirit to reside within is liable to result in an insulted spirit and a vaporised enchanter.

Keep in mind, the only spells that are powerful enough to form flashy** magic weapons are Emblem spells, the rarest and most sought-after of arcanum. Spells of a lower potency won’t be able to impact the material world without the power of a mortal caster behind it, and that’s nigh-impossible when sealed in steel. However, these ordinary spells have an obviously supernatural understanding of their host, the Temple, and can grant various bonuses to a wielder... but they can also revoke that bonus if their esoteric demands are not met. Far more reliable to mix a drop or ten of occultum into the molten metal and call it a day.

So, you’ll need an already incredibly rare Emblem spell that will consent to inhabit a material object, a suitable weapon which has probably been in a family of knights for generations, enough jewellery to choke a duchess and the knowledge to combine all of these without blowing your face off.

In theory.
In practice, it’s much harder.

Other Items

The equipment of ancient heroes aren't the only objects that form suitable Temples The spells used to form Bags of Holding have a liking to the containers used in heists, bank robberies etc. and so are often found possessing ratty sacks or unassuming crates. The day-to-day accoutrements of prophets and sages, tea-cups, bits of furniture and the like, can be used to house divination spells. However, objects exposed to magic directly have a slightly different tune to play, which I will explain in the last part of this little trio: Relics.


The Results

It can be hard to predict the the final result of the creation of a Temple. The behaviour of the spell, the quality of the materials used, even the mindset of the creator can have an impact on the final results. However, the majority of Emblem spells can be formed into items that behave in a similar manner within a reasonable margin of error.

Spell Hosts Demands Effects
Fireball Swords, Axes Regular use in combat, burnt sacrifices, arson Flaming - +1d6 fire damage, target must save or ignite
Lightning Bolt Hammers, Spears Jewels, pandering, continual prayer Shocking - Target must save or take 1d6 lightning damage, 1d12 if wearing metal. Item returns to matched gauntlet if thrown
Power Word: Death Bladed weapons Murdering family members, close allies etc. Vorpal - Critical hits behead targets
Heal Any wielded in Holy purport Saving orphans, donating to charity etc. Smiting - +1d8 radiant damage, undead must save vs. fear if brandished
Mutate Any Drinking strange potions, being exposed to radiation Unstable - Reduce die size, deals x1d4 damage, critical hits add a mutation
Wall of ... Any Constructing altars Mutable - Only handle required, blade etc. constructed out of linked element
Fade Any Stealing artwork, creating a shrine Phasing - Ignores physical armor
Magic Missile Thrown weapons Regular, obsessive polishing Returning/Homing - Either reroll a missed attack, or returns to hand at end of round






*Except not at all, evidently.

**Anything involving fire, lightning, or jabberwockies will problem need an Emblem spell. +1 weapons, not so much. Some exceptionally potent "ordinary" spells may exist, but they rarely deign to inhabit mortal forms without significant encouragement, hence their more tractable cousins are used instead. Which would you rather inhabit your brain: A Magic Missile happy with three square meals of Magic Dice a day, or one with raging narcissism and a habit of firing off when displeased?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Valiant Character Generation

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Three Forms of Magic Weapon; or, a Flame-Tongue of your own in 2517 easy steps!


When it comes to heroic figures wielding blades of fire and lighting, the ballads usually don’t go into great detail about their composition. Oh sure, all the named weapons have long and storied lives of their own, forged by such-and-such and used in the Great War of whenever to genocidal effect. But the bards singing the songs don’t know a spell from a jar of spit, so they fudge the rest and nobody minds.

Since you are reading this, you probably mind. There are three methods a “magic item” might be created: Occultum, as a Temple and as a Relic. This will be the first of three posts regarding the different formulae and ritual used to bind eldritch power into an otherwise mundane object.


Occultum - The King of All Metals 


Credit, Nihal Rahman

Many pantheons and cults have claimed occultum to be the “metal of the gods”. It certainly isn’t, at least, it certainly doesn’t belong to any god(s) that we know of. Occultum is universally the hardest possible currency, and substantial deposits are likely to instigate, and eventually end, wars. In its pure form, it is completely immune to magic, occasionally reflecting spells directly back at the caster. Occultum plate armour would make a royal treasurer weep, and weigh about half a ton, but would be entirely impervious to spells as well as being extraordinarily resilient. When not being used as coinage (1 occultum = 10 platinum = 100 gold), occultum is sometimes melted down and mixed with base metals. These alloys elevate the properties of the base metals into new and stupendous forms, requiring comparatively little of the ultra-rare active ingredient. For example, Occult-Iron blades are harder, sharper, tougher and rust-resistant, while Occult-Silver wires are used to conduct magic. These alloys are the most reliable and long-lasting of all "magic items" due to simply being a result of unique metallurgical properties. You'll still get songs sung about you though.

Working with occultum is remarkably difficult due to its immunity to magic and high melting point, but never fear! It is highly ductile, and metals wrapped in thin occultum wires or sheets still demonstrate many of the related properties. Liquid occultum has certain properties some magic-users abuse to horrifying effect. Care should be taken that it is not exposed to excessive jostling, as it is liable to decay into octarine light and high-velocity lead shrapnel.

The less said of gaseous occultum, the better. It is a Bad Thing™.

Properties of Occultum Alloys

Now, while players are welcome to read the list below, most of mine have had far more fun experimenting with the tiny tidbits of occultum wire they've dug out of golem corpses in the Chambers. Remember, nothing bad can ever* happen from mixing occultum with other materials.

Iron
Results in incredibly strong, flexible, rust-resistant metal that can be sharpened to a much finer point. Provides a +1 damage bonus, and a +1 attack bonus when appropriately reforged.

Steel
Heavier and harder than Occult-Iron, and nigh-indestructible, but the secrets to its manufacture are entirely lost. The dwarves know the secret ways of carbon, but only the elves knew how to keep the Occultum content high enough without total meltdown. Used for +2 weapons.

Tin
The springs produced by Occult-Tin are capable of powering golems, guns and all sorts of gadgets. The Moon Colony is powered almost entirely by a subterranean network of Occult-Tin, with a Mostly Immovable Rod vibrating at its core.

Silver
These wires are used as the "nerves" for golems in the Chambers of God, conducting micro-spell instructions to the limbs, as well as for more... practical purposes. Thicker wires are capable of conducting a higher spellsurge, but will radiate excess energy at uncomfortable frequencies.

Gold
A room temperature ultraconductor. Effectively has negative resistance, and will suck power out of any possible supply and send it in colourful, destructive arcs of lightning.

Platinum
Extremely psionically reactive. A normal person, given some meditation tips, could a make an Occult-Platinum coin slowly levitate and wobble about the room. A true master? One shudders to think.

Uranium
Once again, a lost art, this time for good reason. There's a sizeable portion of octarine light mixed into the radiation. However, small animals like rats or cockroaches have a 15% chance to spontaneously develop sentience when continuously exposed.

Copper
Looks solid. Feels heavy. Bends like butter. Will slowly morph back to its original shape, like memory foam.

Lead
Occult-Lead has some strange properties. Left in a laboratory overnight, every single experiment nearby decayed, rotted, fell over or otherwise failed. It seems to somehow draw bad luck into itself. More research required.

Mercury
This amalgam probably isn't sentient. Probably. However, it seems perfectly content to solve mazes, picks locks and open jars. Just pour it in and watch what happens. Breathing the fumes is not advisable.

Silicon
When placed in close proximity to a cube of, say, stone, a lump of Occult-Silicon will slowly twist itself into an identical shape. Higher levels of Occultum are required for smaller, more differentiated objects like a key.

Carbon
Only small scraps of Occult-Carbon have been located in crumbling high-elven facilities, many wizard guilds would kill for a sample. It is extraordinarily light and rather tough, leading it to be quite useful as tools. However, it shines most when used in armour. Blunt-force trauma will cause it to bulk up into thicker padding, while it will react to a sharp prod by forming hard scales. Fire makes it crisp up into an ablative layer, while extreme cold has it seal any gaps with insulation. What is even more remarkable, is that a few minutes later, it reverts to a serene grey sheen, as if it never changed at all.

Aluminium
A simple property, Occult-Aluminium is just as hard as the original metal, but weighs the same as air.

Bronze
Combining the traits of Occult-Copper and -Tin, this alloy is capable of absorbing and diffusing impacts at an astonishing rate. Care must be made during the forging, since no further adjustments can be made. Results in +1 armour and shields.





You'll probably be thinking at this point, most of these properties don't seem particularly... magical. And you'd be right! Occultum is anti-magic, at it's core. It is a mix of phlebotinum and unobtainium. It defies physics, but in a pretty reliable way. It is the exception to all the other rules. Each of these material properties makes it incredibly useful in a wide number of potential projects, limited only by your imagination and how bloody hard it is to find the stuff!

When I give players a 'magic item' and tell the wizard "this object contains a small amount of occultum" I can just watch their eyes light up. As Skerples says: If you want to build something insane, you'll need a bag full of occultum. It's a little bit like residuum, just less crap. Sure, you can just use that +1 sword. Or, you can use the fire trap from two floors back to melt away the lesser metals, leaving behind pearls of occultum and that make something of your own. And I think that's what makes it special.


That's all for now, next time: Temples! Or rather, how to convince a spirit with godlike powers to live inside a metal stick so you can hit things with it.


*Except that one time. So far.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"You seek the Holy Grail -- You know much that is hidden, oh Tim" - Paladin v.1

So far this blog has been awash with all manner sin and devilry, what with Skindancers, Hellborn and Warlocks all prancing about sacrificing babies and devouring souls. Well, enough of that. It's time for some good*, honest*, hardworking* and righteous* adventuring with this particular rendition of the Paladin.

We've had Paladins of the Wind and Paladins of the Word, but this is more of a generic spellcasting type, with a few unique* twists of my own. While a Fighter/Knight and Cleric multiclass would be a perfectly viable, there's always room for the questing crusader amongst the ranks of heroic figures exploring ancient ruins. Plus, you can grab golden artefacts, boldly state "This belongs in a museum an abbey!" and trade them in for new spells. 

These paladins haven't been playtested since the onset of my new(ish) hitpoint system**, so some teething issues are liable to show up. I predict them to sit on the low end of the power curve, and if that's the case I'll drop an extra +1 Attack in the first template to match the other martial classes. These Paladins cast spells using their own lifeforce, which is always a dangerous game to play. However, if they've taken damage that day already (see Conviction) they can tally up that damage to use for spellcasting.

A Paladin who has been knocked down to zero hitpoints can, in true dramatic fashion, open a can of spiritual whoop-ass at negligible cost. Without a store of Conviction to work with, Paladins get a tough choice each time they cast a spell: do I take damage right now, or burn HD and keep fighting at at full strength. A cadre of Clerics could totally lay down a continuous avalanche of healing on a Paladin, allowing them to continue spellcasting with little regard for mortal limitations. And that is awesome.

In my opinion... I'm really not sure about how it has turned out. I feel like there's a disconnect between the heroic, quest-going, defender-of-the-people and the mechanics I'm using. The previous version was pretty simple: burn maximum hitpoints to fuel spells. If you've taken damage, then the spells are "free", for now at least. Once again, the image of a low HP Paladin doing the full smiting on a Lich's face is really what I'm aiming for. I'll have to try this out at the table and see how well it works.





PALADIN

Starting equipment: Sword, chainmail, holy symbol, random spell, a quest

Skill (1d3) - Wandering Judge, Priest, Chosen One

A Doer of Deeds, Conviction, d10 HD

B Strength of Will, Detect Evil, +1 Save, d8 HD

C Stand Tall, By Our Powers Combined, +1 Attack, d8 HD

D Avatar, +1 Save, +1 Luck Point


Doer of Deeds

You learn a spell every time you return a holy/unholy/magical/valuable artifcat to their church. Instead of Magic Dice, you cast spells using your Paladin Hit Dice. When you cast a spell, for each die rolled choose between - taking that much damage, or burn that HD for the day. You recover burnt HD when you rest, but you don’t heal from them.


Conviction

Whenever you take damage, add to your pool of Conviction. Whenever you take spell damage, including your own, you may choose to reduce Conviction first. Conviction resets to zero whenever you take a long rest.


Strength of Will

You can pray instead of eating a ration for lunch. You can spend two points of Conviction for +1 to saves vs. disease.


Detect Evil

You can smell it, “it” being demons, devils, cultists, heretics and the undead. Roll Wisdom for specifics.


Stand Tall

You can remain conscious even with Fatal Wounding. While you stand in defense of the truly deserving, you have CHA-in-6 of healing a Fatal Wound automatically, rather than 1-in-6.


By Our Powers Combined

By praying with them for 10 minutes you can grant one of your spells to an ally. Once they cast it (using their HD) it goes back to you, they can only receive a spell 1/day.


Avatar

You gain three beneficial mutations that represents your calling. Wings, razor-halo, guardian spirits, sanctified liver, armored flesh, golden-flame-spitting eyes, you name it, it’s yours. You’ve earned it. Very large mutations may come with penalties, likely to Stealth or Intelligence.



Spell list

1. Shield of Faith

Gain [sum] temporary hitpoints against a single attack.


2. Blaze of Glory

Takes an action. Your weapon burns with holy fire for [sum] rounds. Sinners or undead must save or catch alight. Save at +4 if higher HD than your level.


3. Smite

Deal +[sum]+[dice] damage after hitting with a weapon.

Optional balance: Ranged attacks work with this spell, but the cost is still paid on a miss.


4. Sanctify

Bring the area around you into the domain of your god for [sum] days, its influence on things inside it is increased. 1HD enemies or less must save to enter.


5. Banishment

Single target must save or vanished for [sum]/2 rounds. Outsiders save again to avoid permanent dismissal. Enemies with higher HD than the caster automatically succeed on second save. Can target diseases, ghosts.


6. Lay on Hands

Heal [sum], or deal [sum]+[dice] damage to any disease or invasive spirit.


7. Sword of Damocles

Charge your weapon with [sum]. To make an attack at bow range, pay 1. To make an attack at anyone within line-of-sight, pay 2.


8. Last Stand

Take [sum] damage, ignoring any that put you into negatives. Immune to damage for [dice] rounds.

Optional balance: You must burn HD to cast this spell.


9. The Call

Pray for 1d4+[dice]-CHA rounds. A [dice]d4 HD angel will appear at the beginning of the next round, here for one task of noble bearing. It’ll probably be pissed afterwards. Low HD angels usually fluoresce rapidly at sea-level.


10. Circle Against Evil

Draw a line [sum] feet long. Undead, Ghosts, Demons of less HD than you cannot cross it until noon. With higher HD, must save with [dice]x2 penalty to cross or do anything on the other side.


11. Ceremony

[sum] targets can join your circle. If they are pious they can use your Save, or a similar boon against the darkness. Lasts until they commit a sin.


12. Crusader’s Mantle

Pray over a symbol of your god for one minute. Anyone who holds it or fights in its defense gains +1 to something of their choice for [sum] minutes.






*Hahahaha, except not necessarily at all.

**Rather than maximum HP, all characters have a collecting of Hit Dice (HD). These default to d6, but range from d4 (Wizards) to d10 (Barbarians). You can get a max of three. For your first adventure and any time you take a long rest in luxurious*** conditions, roll all of them twice and take the higher. Whenever you take a long rest during an adventure, roll all your HD. If the the new total is lower than your current HP, don't change anything, otherwise you heal up the that amount.

***And luxurious is different for each class. Thieves and Fighters will need a tavern and booze, Wizards will require a library and most likely a bath, while Barbarians definitely need a mead-soaked feast in a longhall. +1 XP to the first player to combine the last two effectively.

Monday, June 25, 2018

FIGHTING MEN



Sometimes you want complexity. Sometimes you just want to hit things real good. I've also found that interesting equipment is the calling-card of creative, insightful, and downright entertaining gameplay. Hence, I've mushed all these things together into a level-less, mono-classed way to play GLOG. It hasn't been playtested as a whole yet, but each individual part works rather well. I'm also not quite sure how hard it'll be, hence a few "easy mode" options have been included to lighten a little of the load.

Each Fighting-Man starts with a main weapon, a special move cribbed from the original Notches move-list, a backup plan, a useful item and a "bizarre circumstance" which range from mild supernatural powers to nails torn from the throne of God (maybe). The stats are inspired from Dungeon Robber but are entirely optional. Since Wisdom is capped, it's entirely reasonable to use these initiative rules, where each player will have between 1 and 3 cards on the stack.

I'm quite fond of the progression system, but haven't yet had a chance to test it out. Fighting-Men that fight will get better at fighting, those that stay home and start making shoes for a living will not. The DM should keep an eye on what constitutes a threatening enemy, but anything that has dealt significant damage should count, no matter how lowly. In addition, the world should be threatening, chaotic, and unstable. A bunch of off-duty mercenaries/deserters, fleeing home through a battered foreign country should make for an appropriate setting.

I would put caps on the stats, but expecting each Fighting-Man to survive into old age is a moot point, as fighting is a trap. Still, flashy kills increase your Attack, getting smacked around and telling everyone "you shoulda seen the other guy" increases HP, and breaking apart ancient burial mounds to drink the ancient golden marrow increases your Save, all things that are good and proper. "Clearing" a dungeon doesn't mean subterranean omnicide. You only need to do two things: deal with the boss somehow, and have established a safe route/outpost deep inside. When you can say "this is ours" with considerable confidence, gain +1 Save.

A lot of this is written in my own shorthand, but I hope the above wall of text will help explain some of my choices and/or ramblings in a satisfactory way.

"Now they will learn why they fear the night" - Warlock v.1

While Wizard Schools are certainly a viable way to emulate practically any magical domain you can imagine, there's a key defining feature that is shared between all of them: these wizards are the master, rather than the servant. This is where the Warlock comes in.

The Warlock has some of the strongest burst potential of any class. They can Power Cast, Overchannel and mop the floor, but they'll pay for it in blood. They also get to choose their first level spell, a neat trade for the two random spells a Wizard starts with.

While Wizards can buy spells captured in scrolls, Warlocks have to make a deal with the source. Their first spell is also likely to be their master, or at least a senior representative, while their Dooms are the terms and conditions. Doing favors and fulfilling errands for your master will encourage them to introduce you to new spells, but the Warlock will have to conclude a new deal each time. It might be as easy as a blood sacrifice, a small shrine or a particular ritual, or much harder - expect mental stat drains, occult tattoos and bizarre and horrifying conditions.

None of my Wizards get cantrips, and neither do Warlocks. However, I do allow some minor, non-combat usage so long as they have any MD remaining in the tank. Your mileage may vary.

Included with this class are the Devil/Demon*, Fae, and Eldritch pacts. There are, quite frankly, too many additional pacts I've written that I'll be posting later in a sizable lump. This will include a Hexblade, and pacts with the Stars, Forbidden Knowledge and the Forgotten King, as well as anything I cobble together between now and then.






WARLOCK


Starting equipment: a Pact, one spell of choice implanted in brain, shield, useful item

Skill (1d3): Cultist, Haruspex, History


A Power Casting, Unfortunate Deal, 1MD

B Overchannel, 2MD

C Soul Trade, Ritualist, 3MD

D Audience, Aura, 4MD


Pacts

Your pact determines what spells you can learn, as well as your perks, restrictions, mishaps and eventual doom. Choose what you made it with (1d4): 1. Demon, 2. Devil, 3. Fae, 4. Eldritch. You can use wands and scrolls but only if you bring them under your control first.


Power Casting

1/day, switch a casting die to a 6.


Unfortunate Deal

Your first spell is the same as your patron, or at least an outcropping of them. You can ask them things whenever you like. Every other spell you want to learn you’ll need to a) Meet and b) Appease. Doing nice things for your patron can help with step A, but usually not B.


Overchannel

Take 1d6 damage and add +1 MD to a spell, mishaps and dooms cause another 1d6 damage if you overchannelled.


Soul Trade


Every challenging foe that submits to your patron’s will, grants +1 to your next Charisma roll against any spell. Stacks.


Ritualist

With time, gold, books and blood, you can summon demons/spells. Increase the power with more blood. Save vs. unwelcome attention.


Audience

One free, no strings attached, full on meeting with your patron at a place of your choosing. Use it wisely. This might be a good time to adjust the terms of your deal (i.e. your Doom)


Aura

Your presence corrupts nearby mystical essence. Divine casters must save to cast spells, Wizards must save or mishap, Warlocks know exactly where you are, Sorcerers aren’t sure what all the fuss is about.




*Why do Devils and Demons both use the same pact? Why not just have one combined Fiend pact? Read this, or for more detail, the original material. Both of them will you treat the same way, and their powers originate from the same source. However, a Devil purchasing your soul in return for some the magical equivalent of a bent penny, is a little like a crooked FBI agent letting out a criminal for a few months. You might commit more crimes, you might implicate more criminals, you might help the agent get things done the agent couldn't do themselves. But of course, you're a mortal, aren't you? Your soul belongs to them**.

Demons just love having minions running around doing their bidding. Well, some of them. Most of them will just eat you, and pick their teeth with your femur. Those that don't would greatly appreciate a couple flesh sacrifices, maybe portals opened to the fresh, tender world above, ancient protective sigils shattered. You know, the usual sort of thing for a demon worshipper.

**Except not quite. I still allow Warlocks to play Psychopomp Roulette, but 50% of the time a representative of their patron shows up no matter what. This representative is immune to all spells that derive from the initial deal, for obvious reasons.






The spells from the Warlock Pacts have been gleaned from a few different sources:
The Cancermancers of Hungry Joe (Burrowing Bolt, Shrivel, Reverse Gravity, Space Hooks)

Elf Wizards (Beautify, Floral Salvage, Elegant Judgement)

100 Orthodox Spells (None yet, but a couple WIP Pacts use a few of these spells)

The original Wizards document by Arnold Kemp (all other spells, give or take)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"Like someone wearing an Edgar suit" - Skindancer v.1

While this little class might work better as a spell, I'm quite fond of the leveling up mechanic. It's a common enough trope, but this version is based on the novel Touch by Claire North, using the same name as the creatures from the Kingkiller Chronicles. Skindancers will probably spend a lot of their time hunting down and posessing prime physical specimens, interesting bodies and important public figures. This is both excellent and good.

In regards to the prerequisite, my experience system is measured in the single digits, and rewards 1xp for a near death "experience". Thus, becoming a Skindancer requires a fair amount of luck! This idea is based off of Touch, where the first body these 'ghosts' possess are usually the ones that are killing them. For your system, being within 10% of levelling up should be appropriate.

The Church will treat you as some kind of demon or hostile ghost, and rightly so. Once they get a hint of your presence, expect lockdowns and quarantines, searches and questioning. They'll try and force you to jump out of important individuals into a prisoner, but when push comes to shove, they'll be happy to burn you at the stake. Turn Undead and similar spells will deal damage to you, but not your host.

I'm really not sure about "Transmission". I feel like it allows you to break a few of the rules, at considerable risk to yourself, but it just doesn't quite seem to... fit. If a player wants to take a single level in Skindancer then go back to their original class, more power to them. However, if they are more interested in stealing power than making their own, the B template is keyed towards rewarding that playstyle.

If you are a spellcaster, your MD will come with you no questions asked, but your spells will have to be persuaded to make the jump as well. Moving into a hostile wizards or psions brain is not something to be taken lightly!

I haven't had a chance to playtest this yet, but the changes I would be looking out for would probably include:
  • Mild penalties when you first inhabit a body
  • The host being capable of fighting you for control
  • Changes to hitpoints (they aren't solely a physical concept, there are mental elements as well)




SKINDANCER



Prerequisite: You must be within 1 experience of levelling up, and die in skin contact with someone.

A The Waltz

B Muscle Memory, Transmission


The Waltz

You can switch into the body of any living humanoid through an instant of skin-contact. This requires an unarmed attack roll, and the target can save to pull away at the last moment. You don’t gain any of their memories. Use their physical stats, your mental stats, and average your HP with theirs. The body you leave is stunned for one round, they don’t perceive the passing of time while you are riding them. If they are possessed or their brain contains any spells, you may have to fight them for control


Muscle Memory

If the body you possess has any bonuses to derived stats like Attack, Defense, Stealth, Save etc. you can use them in place of your own.


Transmission

You can try and switch bodies with a ranged attack. If you miss, save or die! If you succeed, you still take 1d6 damage to a random mental stat. In addition, you can choose not to stun your host when you change bodies.