Monday, June 23, 2014

BIG dragon spotted in Rehovot!

This is a particularly large specimen of Painted Dragon (Stellagama stellio) who lives on the fence of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. He is the local dominant male, sort of a king of lizards... Bigger and fatter than any other Painted Dragon in a large radius.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Barbarian Conqueror King is taking shape!

I am pleased to announce that the Barbarian Conqueror King draft is almost half ready! I've put a lot of thought and work to it in the last two months, and now I'm starting to see the fruits of my effort on paper.

A key chapter I've almost finished writing is the Classes chapter. There are 15 new classes, all ready for use in any ACKS campaign, all fully described with experience tables, abilities, templates, proficiencies, and, in the case of divine spellcasters, also spell lists.

So here are the classes I wrote:

Blessed Undertaker: The cleric of the Neutral death god Mawat, specialized in slaying undead.

Bug-Man Female: A female sentient insectoid capable of arcane spellcasting, flight, interaction with insects and fungi, and, eventually, establishing a nest and spawning a huge multitude of bug-men to populate her domain!

Bug-Man Male: A sneaky male sentient insectoid with a huge mercantile network and thievery abilities.

Cultist: Classic Chaos-worshiping lunatic, granted with massive divine power by his alien gods; cultists of different gods have different special powers.

Deep One Hybrid: A spawn of Chaos, a crossbreed between abominable fish-men and humans. A savage fighter, and also capable of Chaotic divine spellpower granted by Dagon and Rahab.

Dragon Incarnate: A human born with the soul of a great dragon; born to lead, fights with a dragon's ferocity, and, on higher level, capable of casting arcane spells.

Gecko-Man Spirit-Talker: The 'shaman' of the Gecko-Men, protected by an ancestral spirit and casting divine magic; climbs walls and ceilings very well, may detach his tail for a hefty bonus on the Mortal Wounds table.

Gecko-Man Stalker: A sneaky, patient hunter and trapper of the Gecko-Men; climbs walls and ceilings very well, may detach his tail for a hefty bonus on the Mortal Wounds table.

Lizardman Gladiator: A lizardman bred for arena combat, fights like a real monster. A modified version of the Thrassian Gladiator from the ACKS Player's Companion, somewhat weaker, but progresses faster in XP, especioally at high levels.

Lizardman Hunter: Wild, stealthy hunting lizard-man, with abilities geared towards ambushing prey.

Lizardman Priestess: A lizardman priestess of the grand goddess Ixchala, a divine spellcaster with good healing powers.

Lizardman Warrior: Totemic fighting-lizardman. Each Warrior belongs to a secret society or order following a totem, each totem has its own advantages.

Lizardman Witch-Doctor: Tribal sorcerer of the lizardmen, an arcane spellcaster who gains several additional powers by trafficking with demons and spirits.

Visitor Hybrid: Half human, half alien Visitor. Has an innate knack for alien tech, as well as locks and traps, and is also telepathic and can cast arcane spells at higher experience levels.

Monday, June 2, 2014

ACKS: Deep One Hybrid Racial Template - REDUX

A re-design of the Deep One Hybrid I made half a year ago.

"I think their predominant colour was a greyish-green, though they had white bellies. They were mostly shiny and slippery, but the ridges of their backs were scaly. Their forms vaguely suggested the anthropoid, while their heads were the heads of fish, with prodigious bulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were palpitating gills, and their long paws were webbed. They hopped irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four. I was somehow glad that they had no more than four limbs. Their croaking, baying voices, clearly used for articulate speech, held all the dark shades of expression which their staring faces lacked ... They were the blasphemous fish-frogs of the nameless design - living and horrible."

- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Over Insmouth"

The Deep Ones are a race of aquatic monstrosities, part fish, part frog and part man, who have inhabited the oceans around Kanahu for aeons. They battled the Serpentmen for dominance; vied for control with the mysterious Visitors; and were the targets of numerous holy wars by the Lizardmen followers of Lawful Ixchala. And yet, they remain; dwelling under the waves in their magnificent, if terrible, reef cities, where they pay tribute to their father-god, Dagon, as well as to their over-god, K'tulu.

The Deep Ones are not content with living underwater, however. In service of their Chaotic masters, they seek to infiltrate coastal communities, intermixing with the local Human population, and tainting the blood of Men with their terrible curse. Indeed, the old, deposed nobility of Harat, mostly chased from their mansions and seaside castles by Hardun's Army of the Free, were, and still are, hybrids of Men and Deep Ones. This racial template represents these hybrids, who continually devolve from humanity into aquatic monstrosities.

Deep One Hybrid character classes are created using the Deep One Hybrid racial category and experience points. Requirements, class category values, hit points per level after 9th, and experience point progressions are modified as noted below.

All Deep One Hybrid classes require a minimum Strength and Constitution of 12 or better. They must also be Chaotic, or, in rare instances (subject to the Judge's approval), Neutral, butnever Lawful.

Class category Values:
Divine: Any build points allocated to the Divine Value stack with build points allocated to the Deep One Hybrid value for purposes of determining the class’s spellcasting ability (see below).

Deep One Hybrid 0 (XP Cost 300): at Deep One Hybrid 0, the class will have the following four custom powers:
  • Swimming: The character gains a swimming movement rate of 120' per turn. The character may hold his breath for 1 Turn (10 minutes). Costs 3 custom powers.
  • Tainted Blood: The character is, since early adulthood, somewhat deformed, displaying some Deep One traits. Even to those who do not know what these tell-tale signs mean, the character will look ugly and unworldly, granting him or her a -2 penalty to Reaction.  However, most sentient Chaotic monsters will recognize the character's true nature and react favourably towards him or her, granting a +2 bonus to Reaction. This is a variant on the Inhumanity custom power and costs 0 powers.
  • After the Fish: If and when they complete their transformation into full Deep Ones, the Hybrids retain their class abilities and may continue to level and grow in HD and in power. This works similarly to the Sakkaran (Zaharan) Ruinguard's After the Flesh power. The character can be continued to play as a Deep One. This requires, however, an unholy ritual of self-sacrifice to the Chaotic gods Dagon and K'tulu, which costs money and effort. see Transformation into a Deep One, below. This costs 3 custom powers.
  • Longevity: The Deep One Hybrid ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal, even if he does not transform into a 'full' Deep One; upon "death" from old age, if no ritual is used (see below), the character transforms into an immortal Deep One monster (NPC) of 2+1 HD with no class features. Deep One Hybrids are also immune to ghoul paralysis. This is effectively the Elven Bloodline proficiency, selected as a custom power.

Deep One Hybrid 1 (XP Cost 800): Deep One Hybrid 0 + Fighter 1

Deep One Hybrid 2 (XP Cost 1,300): Deep One Hybrid 0 + Fighter 2

Deep One Hybrid 3 (XP Cost 1,800): Deep One Hybrid 0 + Fighter 3

Deep One Hybrid 4 (XP Cost 2,300): Deep One Hybrid 0 + Fighter 4

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level
Deep One Hybrids increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 45,000XP.

Transformation into a Deep One
Deep One Hybrids who reach 11th level or higher may transform themselves into fully-blown Deep Ones by a baleful ritual of self-sacrifice to the Deep One gods of Dagon and K'tulu. The 'full' Deep One has HD as the character had class levels, retains all class abilities and spellcasting (if any) the Hybrid had in semi-Human life, may breath both under and above the water indefinitely, is immune to disease and to further ageing, has Infravision and may attack with its claws for 1d4-1 damage each, in addition to all other powers. However, 'proper' Deep Ones suffer a -4 Reaction penalty from all Neutral or Lawful mortals, but enjoy a +4 Reaction bonus from all Chaotic beings.

It requires 5,000gp per character level to transform into a Deep One. The ritual takes one day per 1,000gp of cost. The transformation requires a magic research throw. The target value for this throw is increased by +1 for every level the character has. Using precious materials in the ritual can affect chances of success of the transformation, as above. Failure indicates that the character is dead and cannot be raised except through a Wish or a Miracle.

To perform the ritual, a Deep One Hybrid must have access to an altar to Dagon and/or K'tulu of at least equal in value to the cost of the ritual as given above. For every 10,000gp of value above the minimum required for the transformation, the Deep One Hybrid receives a +1 bonus on his magic research throw. By using precious materials, the character can gain a bonus on his magic research throw, as described on ACKS 118. Transforming into a Deep One also requires special components for the ritual. Components are usually organs or blood from one or more beings - typically Human sacrifices of high level - with a total XP value equal to the cost of the research. At least one creature must be of a level equal to that of the Deep One Hybrid attempting the transformation. The Judge will determine the specific components based on the ritual involved. If a character doesn’t know the components at the outset of the ritual, he learns them when the necromancy is 50% complete.

Note that it is possible for a Deep One hybrid to transform into a Deep One due to old age without a ritual, but this will create a 2+1 HD monster as described here, with no special abilities and without retaining any class features, except for proficiencies. In this case, the character will be an NPC. This is how many level 0 Deep One Hybrids transform naturally into 2+1 HD deep ones.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

[ACKS] Visitor Hybrid Racial Template

The enigmatic Visitors came from beyond the stars to pursue ends unknown on our world (or the world of Kanahu in case of my Barbarian Conqueror King setting). As part of their mysterious mission, they abduct, from time to time, ordinary Humans (and less frequently so, Lizardmen, Gecko-Men or even Bug-Men) to perform experiments on them and, in some cases, impregnate their women with hybrid fetuses. These hybrids, half human and half Visitor, grow up to be eccentric outsiders, belonging to neither the terrestrial world nor the alien realms. Some are picked up by their alien sires to serve an unclear higher purpose, but many are abandoned.

Gifted with amazing powers of the mind, as well as an aptitude with magic, these abandoned children often use their alien legacy to further their own ends. Their alien heritage marks them with large, almond-shaped multi-faceted eyes, similar to those of their Visitor progenitors, but also with an instinctive knack for deciphering alien technology. They are usually somewhat shorter than ordinary Humans, rarely standing higher than 5', and are slight of build and greyish-skinned, with oily, usually black (though sometimes red) hair. While sometimes shunned by superstitious Humans, their alien origin is a great boon for the Hybrids, who may work wonders with the combination of alien tech with arcane magic.

All Visitor Hybrids require a minimum Dexterity and Intelligence of 10 or better. They may not have Strength or Constitution above 16.

Class category Values:
  • Fighting: Visitor Hybrids with narrow or broad weapon selections must include at least alien pistols and rifles among their selections.
  • Divine: Visitor Hybrids, who are more attuned with alien beings than with local divinity, are usually less concerned about divinity than most Humans, and thus may not have a Divine Value higher than 2.
  • Arcane: Any build points allocated to the Arcane Value stack with build points allocated to the Visitor Hybrid value for purposes of determining the class’s spellcasting ability (see below).

Visitor Hybrid 0 (XP Cost 325): at Visitor Hybrid 0, the class will have the following four custom powers:
  • ESP: Thanks to their telepathic genes inherited from their alien progenitors, Visitor Hybrids may use ESP (as per the spell) every 8 hours, with a casting time of 1 round. This is in addition to any potential castings of this spell if they possess levels in Arcane Spellcasting and learn this spell.
  • Alien Intuition: Any Visitor Hybrid can rely on his alien subconscious to achieve On the Spot Understanding with all alien tech on a a roll of 11+ (with mishaps only on a 1) (counts as 2 proficiencies).
  • Alien Lore: Furthermore, Visitor Hybrids possess an instinctive knowledge of baseline alien technology, and thus have the equivalent of the Alien Lore proficiency in Weapons, Armour and Chemicals. A Visitor Hybrid can achieve On the Spot Understanding of an alien artifact from these three categories on an 7+ (Alien Intuition already factored in), and only suffers mishaps on a natural 1 in that category. He gains +1 on all research rolls related to alien technology, and only mishaps on 1-3 even if it is a category he isn't familiar with (counts as 3 proficiencies).
  • Alien Senses: Visitor Hybrids are highly tuned to their surroundings and enjoy sharp senses. The character gains a +4 bonus on any proficiency throws to hear noises and detect secret doors. With a proficiency throw of 18+ he can notice secret doors with just casual observation. He gains a +1 bonus to avoid surprise. This is effectively the Alertness proficiency selected as a custom power.
  • Perceive Intentions: Blessed with telepathic senses, the Visitor Hybrid always know the exact reaction result (Hostile, Unfriendly, etc.) of creatures he interacts with, even if the creatures attempt to lie or conceal their reactions. Creatures with a CHA greater than the character’s WIS are immune to this power (and the character will know they are immune).

Visitor Hybrid 1 (XP Cost 950): Visitor Hybrid + 1/3 level Mage.

Visitor Hybrid 2 (XP Cost 1,575): Visitor Hybrid + 1/2 level Mage.

Visitor Hybrid 3 (XP Cost 2,200): Visitor Hybrid + 2/3 level Mage.

Visitor Hybrid 4 (XP Cost 2,825: Visitor Hybrid + Mage.

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level
Visitor Hybrids increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 55,000XP.