Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sola Scriptura IV

Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers

Chapter 4: Powers

The chapter starts with a short explanation of powers, likening them to psionics. As an aside, when I first got the Basic Set Fourth Edition, I had a hard time grasping the idea of powers. Coming from GURPS Third Edition, I was sure I was missing something like the skills.

Bard-Song. Bard-Song means you gotta play a tune, and be good enough to have skill 14+. The immediate effect of all this to me is that a Bard doing Bard things is never silent, and thus any time he uses Bard-Song or casts a spell in the dungeon triggers a wandering monster check.

An aside: wandering monster checks should happen often in a dungeon. Sound carries well in those little tunnels. Rather than going through the nitty gritty of GURPS Underground Adventures, just roll for a random encounter whenever folks fight, sing songs, muscle through doors, fall off cliffs, and so on. This will encourage both being quiet and trying to talk to monsters if the characters can. Do many checks with a low chance instead of checking seldom with a high chance. I just roll a d6; a 1 is a wandering monster, a 2 is a clue to a wandering monster if it makes sense (a clue doesn’t suddenly appear because the Bard started strumming a tune).

Back to the Bard. If the player starts singing, that’s an immediate wandering monster, and is automatically a tarrasque. Don’t worry about exact stats, and don’t bother to roll; we’re talking about a tarrasque, which lives to kill characters. The tarrasque is just hungry enough to eat the Bard, then it goes back to sleep.

Bard-Song abilities deal with making friends and influencing people. They can do some good in a fight; Terror can end a fight fast, and Rapier Wit can stop a foe for someone else to hit. What, did you think the Bard was going to get a smack? No; the effect ends if the Bard stops singing or playing, and anyone who plays a Bard and his him get up next to his foe to give it a whack warrants everything he has coming.

With two exceptions, Bard-Song abilities are only good against intelligent foes. Those exceptions are Mimicry and Speak with Animals. All this means that Bards won’t do well against mindless foes. If the game has loads of zombies, the Bard is going to be bored.

Chi Mastery. Again, we have a description of Disciplines of Faith (Chi Rituals). These will make a wilderness trek a bother for everyone, including the Martial Artist: he wastes valuable traveling time with his weird exercises, and he can’t go foraging since nuts, berries, and venison don’t work with his diet.

Chi abilities tend to fall into tough guy stuff (Catcall, Metabolism Control, Regeneration) or fighting stuff (DR, Extra Attack, Striking ST). You can get some cool stuff, but it isn’t cheap. A starting character looks like he’s stuck with one big ability (say, Super Jump 2), or many of the little ones (DR, Striking ST). The latter option seems boring, and doesn’t play to the uniqueness of the Martial Artist.

Druidic Arts. As I said last time, these suck in the dungeon, and are at -10% for each -1 spells would take. Don’t bother with this for Allies; as DF5 says, apply the penalty to the appearance roll. If a GM wanted me to adjust the stats of my Druid's animal buddy for when I went down into the dungeon, I’d find a new GM.

Allies, of course, might be the big fun Druidic ability, and the one good in a fight. Many of the Druid’s abilities involve talking to folks who won’t talk to the Bard (Animal Empathy, Medium (Nature Spirits), Speak with Plants). So in this, the Druid is the opposite of the Bard—a normal intelligent foe doesn’t work with Druidic abilities. If one bothers you, stick your bear Ally on it, or hit it with Spider Silk.

Holy Might. A goody-goody disadvantage governs these, and breaking this disadvantage breaks your Holy shit. To get it back, there’s a list of penance ideas: $1,000, fasting for a month, a quest; you get the idea. Honesty might be the most problematic disadvantage for a player, since that means the Cleric won’t take the Thief doing his Thief things in town. Sense of Duty (Coreligionists) is work for the GM, as it needs coreligionists.

This is the biggest hodgepodge list of abilities. Allies are here of course, as is Patron. Prayer works! There’s a little predicting the future (Blessed, Oracle), some good touch (Healing), and True Faith, the obligatory Mother-may-I?

A Mother-may-I? is an ability that only works under certain situations, and it was a common phrase on ENWorld during the D&D 3e era. I remember a fellow player in a D&D game who had a bonus to hit orcs, I think from a ranger’s Favored Enemy. Any time an encounter started, he asked, “Are they orcs?” It was funnier than it sounded, but the point was that he didn’t get his bonus to hit every time, and had to ask permission to use his ability.

True Faith only works against undead (and evil spirits, near enough); it’s a Mother-May-I? Characters are filled with all these little abilities, but Turning Undead is one folks expect Clerics to have, and it isn’t cheap for a starting character. A starting Cleric gets 25 points of Holy abilities, with maybe a few more he could scrounge up from his optional advantage points. Yes, he could go for True Faith; if you don’t have another idea what to do with them, that isn’t a bad choice, if you think you’re gonna see undead. However, there are other interesting abilities. I like being able to guess the future, with Blessed or Oracle, and nobody complains about an angelic buddy. In addition, there is the Turn Zombie spell, if someone starts bitching that you didn’t take True Faith.

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