Sunday 18 December 2011

Doing without the cleric class: Blessings & pacts

[Players in my Labyrinth Lord campaign, don't worry, I won't be changing anything, as we've already agreed you can use the cleric class as written. This is just musings, but actually is more in line with how I would see such things working in this setting.]

The cleric class is one which I've never been that keen on. I think in the right setting -- one in which militant and hierarchical religious organisations are very influential -- they can be great, but somehow none of the settings I tend to be attracted to have much emphasis on such institutions, making clerical adventurers an odd fit. Actually, in general I tend to baulk against all classes which come with some kind of built-in moral imperative or social background (clerics, druids, assassins, rangers, paladins... even sometimes the humble thief!), preferring to stick with a more neutral tone where adventurers can simply be adventurers, without having some exterior agenda. Given this, I sometimes find myself musing about how some of the important abilities of the cleric class, such as healing and turning undead, could be maintained in a setting without clerics as a class of adventurer. My latest musing have led me to something like the following.

Cosmic Blessings
Any character can visit the myriad temples devoted to weird cosmic powers which exist throughout the world. Many of these temples have priests who can perform various rituals, channelling the power of their patron to bring about miraculous effects in the physical world. It is also possible for individuals to make offerings to the patron of a temple or shrine in the hope of receiving a blessing.

Blessings take the form of imbued clerical spells. Any PC can be imbued with a single 1st level clerical spell, and those with higher WIS can receive additional blessings according to the normal chart for extra clerical spells. (Characters with low WIS may also have a percentage chance of not receiving a blessing when making an offering.) Once a blessing has been received from a cosmic power, it is imbued in the character until used / cast.

Naturally, all blessings come at a cost. I imagine something like 50gp for a 1st level spell, then 100gp per spell level for 2nd and higher level spells.

Also note that each blessing must be attained from an appropriate temple -- for example, cure light wounds from a healing power, spiritual weapon from a deity of battle, and so on. This could lead to interesting campaign possibilities, where a journey to a shrine in an attempt to receive a specific blessing could become an adventure in itself.

Cosmic powers are fine with general promiscuity of worship -- they are quite happy to bless someone who has already been blessed by several other powers.

Cosmic Pacts
Another option, again open to all characters, is to make a pact with a specific cosmic power who patronises an appropriate area of influence. Such a pact is regarded as lifelong, and monogamous -- a marriage, so to speak, of a mortal soul with a cosmic power.

This is the point at which my musings get a bit fuzzy... what exactly would be the benefit of a lifelong pact? Possibly one or more (appropriate) clerical spells "for free" per day, and possibly even using some kind of spell progression based on character level or something else.

There would, however, also have to be some kind of downside -- the cosmic power is going to want something in return. The only thing I've specifically thought of so far would be the mortal's soul, to be claimed immediately upon death (making PC resurrection difficult or impossible). This would be a fairly severe option, but would lend an appropriate weight to such pacts, and would make it an interesting and somewhat risky choice for PCs to make. The choice of which power to make a pact with would also be an interesting roleplaying opportunity, as each power would, presumably, grant completely different abilities to its followers, perhaps domain-specific abilities like I've discussed before here and here.

If anyone has any further thoughts or ideas for such a system please feel free to comment!

Monday 12 December 2011

Underworld sketches -- Dungeon Welcome

I'm off work ill today, laying around in bed, listening to music. And from somewhere the inspiration to draw something struck me. I've not drawn anything just for the sake of it for many years, decades in fact. But I find the result rather charming, and it was, obviously, D&D related. I present the sketch for your amusement. I imagine this monster to be some kind of weird dungeon welcome committee.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Spells of the god of gold -- part 1

I previously developed, in collaboration with one of the players in my Labyrinth Lord campaign, a set of new spells available to clerics of the god of blades. Now there's a new cleric in town (/ in the party), a fellow called Obadiah, who is a staunch follower of a cosmic entity known as "Assedh, god of gold and precious metals". So we've been putting a bit of thought to some special spells for worshippers of that god.

Here's what we've come up with for the low level spells. (One is, obviously, a Labyrinth Lord adaptation of a classic from AD&D.)

The rest of this post is designated Open Gaming Content according to the Open Gaming License.

Assedh's Pick
Level: 1
Duration: See below
Range: Touch

This spell has two possible uses, which may be chosen as it is cast.

Firstly it may be used to enchant a pick for 2 rounds per level of the caster. The weapon gains +1 to attack and damage, and is able to harm beings which can only be affected by magic.

Alternatively, the spell can enchant a pick as a cosmically enhanced digging aid. The enchantment lasts for 1 turn per level of the caster, and enables a 5' cubic area of earth to be dug out in one turn.

Level: 2
Duration: 12 hours, +1 hour per level
Range: Touch

This spell places an enchantment on a specially constructed garment, allowing its pockets to contain an increased capacity. The selected garment must have at least a dozen small pockets sewn into it, and must have golden thread woven into it, costing at least 100gp. When enchanted, the garment's pockets are collectively able to contain up to 100 pounds of weight (1,000 coins) as if it were only 10 pounds. In addition to the weight reducing capability, the enchanted pockets show no visible bulge, even when completely full. Items larger than 1 cubic foot cannot be placed in the pockets.

If the spell ends (either due to its duration expiring, or due to being dispelled) while there are items inside the pockets, the wearer of the garment must make a saving throw versus spells. If the save succeeds, the items in the pockets are dumped at the subject's feet. If the save fails, however, the contents of the pockets are lost in some alternate dimension.

Locate Precious Metals
Level: 3
Duration: Instant
Range: 120'

Upon casting this spell the cleric becomes instantly aware of all quantities of precious metals within range. The caster gains an approximate knowledge of the value of precious metals present, as well as a precise location in terms of distance (for example "30' north, 20' east").

Underground, this spell only detects metals on the same dungeon level as the caster, thus it cannot be used to detect treasure on higher or lower levels.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Theorems & Thaumaturgy proofreading

Hello people who were interested in proofreading my book of spells!

I've noticed that in the past I've had some trouble with emails from my account being ruthlessly junk mailed by some email providers, so I just thought I'd check... I sent emails to Bob, Quibish and Jim Pacek a couple of weeks ago and haven't heard anything back yet, and just wanted to check you guys received the mails. No worries at all if you did receive the mail but haven't had time to look at it yet, I just wanna make sure everyone who offered to help has got a copy of the book now.

If you could drop me an email / comment here to let me know if you did / didn't receive the book that'd be great.

Also if anyone else reading this would be interested in a spot of proofreading, just let me know!

Thanks everyone!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Labyrinth Lord PDFs updated

I recently discovered that the file for the souvenir font which I've been using was somehow corrupt -- it had a few weird artefacts on certain characters when I printed it on my printer at home, but I assumed this was a problem in the printer or the driver, not in the font itself. However one of the players in my campaign found that printing one of the PDFs caused three different printers he tried it on to crash with firmware errors! This led me to track down a new copy of the font, which now works on all known printers*.

So I've re-exported all the PDFs in the downloads section on the right. As a result, the Esoteric Equipment & Urban Activities, Expanded Thief, and the Necromancer documents have had a content update as well, to the latest versions that we're using in the campaign.

* Based on a sample of 4.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Adventure Log PDF

I thought I'd share this very simple adventure log sheet which I've just knocked up for my Labyrinth Lord games.

Get it here.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Musick to play in the dark

I just received a CD of one of my favourite albums today, which I've only ever heard on mp3 before -- "The place where the black stars hang" by Lustmord. A dark ambient classic.

A short poem in the CD insert caught my eye / imagination, and revealed a previously unthought connection between Lustmord and Lovecraft:

Not stars but suns
or these alone
noxious shrouds of flame
form a universal dread
of abnormal formless spawn

Nethermost abnormal son
that lies beyond the sun
eternal, dark
answerable to none

There is a place
where the black stars hang
and the strangest eons call
that amorphous mass
unknown, immense
ambivalent to all