Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voidjammer: Scientist Class

This class is posted here with permission by John Stater over at The Land of Nod. It and other excellent classes are detailed in The Nod Companion along with spells, races and other features for use in the Blood and Treasure RPG.

The scientist is an intellectual who has dedicated his or her life to the pursuit of knowledge. They are inventors, alchemists, mathematicians, and lifelong students of natural philosophy. They study the nature of the multiverse in the hope of unlocking its myriad secrets. In laymen’s terms, what the magic‐user does with spells, the scientist does with gadgets, gizmos and chemical formulas.
Scientists (often called Philosophers) and stories about them have been around for a very long time. These strange, dedicated men (and even women!) were often lumped in with magic-users, and were usually vilified like Prospero from Shakespeare's The Tempest. But a few were seen as great adventurers and thinkers, representing the best of human ingenuity. 
In Voidjammer, the default technology of space-going civilization is roughly around that of mid-to-late 1700's (just before The Revolutionary War). And so a good representative of The Scientist class would be Benjamin Franklin. Other excellent historic Scientists who would be comfortable in the Voidjammer universe are Sir Isaac Newton (who might have some levels in Cleric), Erasmus Darwin, and Leonardo da Vinci to name a few. 
In era and setting appropriate fiction, a number of notable scientists come to mind. Ras Thavas was the greatest scientific mind of Barsoom (Mars), whose mad creations were often more trouble than they were worth. The mad Captain Nemo, who could easily be translated into a space-going antihero. And Man At Arms from the He-Man cartoon (clearly a Dual-Classed Fighter-Scientist) whose weird magical technology made a strange setting stranger.

-Intelligence of 13+


-Club, dagger, dart, hand crossbow, light crossbow, quarterstaff

- *Communication, Decipher Codes, Find Secret Doors, Find Traps, *Identify Specimens, Open Locks, Remove Traps


  • Scientists begin play with one small invention or three formulas (see below) and only 1d6 x 10 gp to spend on equipment. They must own a journal, their equivalent to the magic-user's spell book.
  • Scientists spend most of their lives reading books and absorbing all sorts of knowledge and wisdom. Scientists can use the legend lore ability as bards of half their scientist level.
  • A scientist’s fascination with minutia makes them more likely to be surprised than others. They are surprised on 1 to 2 on 1d6.
  • A scientist is capable of brewing formulas (i.e. potions) and discovering and creating new inventions (see below).
  • When a scientist reaches 9th level (genius), he can build a laboratory overlooking a city or town. If he does so, he attracts 1d4 men-at-arms per level, 1d6 first level scientists who wish to train under him, and one third level scientist to act as his lab assistant. These scientists should be rolled up as characters under the control of the scientist PC.

Gulliver discovers Laputa, the flying island.
Scientists are capable of building machines and brewing chemical formulas that duplicate the effect of magic-ser spells. Formulas are single‐use items that work like potions. Inventions are multiple use items that must be powered by “batteries” of the sort Ben Franklin invented (or miniature versions of the same). An invention can be used 1 time plus 1 time per scientist level minus the level of the duplicated spell before it must be recharged overnight.
Before a scientist can brew a formula or build an invention, he must discover how to do it. This process of discovery costs 1,000 gp per spell level to be duplicated for standard spells, and 2,000 gp per spell level for entirely new creations. One week is required per spell level, with a chance of success equal to 25% plus 5% per level of the scientist minus 10% per level of the spell. The maximum chance of success is 95%.
Inventions and formulas must be discovered separately, even if they have the same effect.
Inventions come in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Small inventions can be held in one hand and rarely weigh more than 10 pounds. Medium sized inventions can be moved about clumsily by man‐sized creatures using both their hands. A medium-ized invention uses 10 times the materials of a small invention, and costs 10 times as much to build. A large invention will fit (or nearly fit) inside a 10’ x 10’ room. Large inventions use 100 times the materials of small inventions, and cost 100 times as much to build. Formulas are treated as small inventions and weigh as much a standard coin or gem.
The level of spell a scientist can "fit" into an invention of a given size is as follows:
Scientists of level one to three can fit level one spells into small inventions, level two spells into medium inventions and level three spells into large inventions.
Scientists of level four to six can fit level one and two spells into small inventions, level three spells into medium inventions and level four spells into large inventions.
Scientists of level seven to nine can fit level one to three spells into small inventions, level four spells into medium inventions and level five spells into large inventions. Scientist of level ten to twelve can fit level one to four spells into small inventions, level five spells into medium inventions and level six spells into large inventions.
Brewing a formula costs 25 gp times the spell level times the level of the scientist. A level one formula brewed by a level three scientist, for example, costs 25 x 1 x 3 gp, or 75 gp, to concoct. A level four formula brewed by a level nine scientist costs 25 x 4 x 9 gp, or 900 gp, to concoct. The Referee may want to create a list of rare ingredients for each formula the scientist discovers in lieu of the scientist just making a check.
Inventions cost 500 gp per spell level to create, and their manufacture requires five days plus two days per spell level. Thus, an invention that duplicates the level two spell acid arrow would cost 1,000 gp and require nine days of work to realize.
Players and TKs should come up with fantastic, quasi-scientific names for a scientist’s inventions, whether they are inspired by the natural philosophers of the Renaissance or the mad scientists from pulp fiction.

*New Skills

This task involves communicating with sentient creatures with which you do not share a common language. When attempting to understand such a creature, you make a Will saving throw modified by your Intelligence modifier. When trying to make yourself understood, you make a Will saving throw modified by your Charisma modifier. Communication of this sort must be short and simple – no deep philosophical discussions are possible.
Note, this task could also be used for charades and other forms of silent communication.
DIFFICULTIES: Communicating with a non‐humanoid creature.
FAILURE: A failure to communicate usually results in neither side comprehending what the other side is attempting to convey. A spectacular failure (rolling a “1” on 1d20) could result in a miscommunication
(i.e. believing you understood the creature, but actually getting their message very wrong.)
KNACK: Half‐Elves

This task covers a general knowledge of animal and plant life, including monsters. An identify specimen check permits a character to recall one specific fact about a creature or plant they have encountered. If seeking information about a monster, the player must specifically request one of the following data points:
Hit Dice, Armor Class, Movement Rate, Attacks and Damage, Special Attacks, Special Defenses or Special Abilities (each ability counting as a separate fact).
FAILURE: The adventurer does not know the information, and any additional task check they wish to make to recall different information about the same specimen is made at a ‐2 penalty.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Voidjammer: Fantasy Space Cosmology Pt I

Travel in Fantasy Space is full of weird and wonderful sights and encounters. From Space Dragons and Living Planets to the stars and planets themselves. In part, fantasy space is based on Ptolemaic Astronomy, Aristotelian Physics. But it is also inspired by space-going adventure tales from past decades such as Flash Gordon, John Carter of Mars and others. Its not so much about real-world astrophysics (which is far weirder), but about daring adventures against jaw-dropping vistas.
The multiverse of Voidjammer presented below uses the Planar Rules from pages 19-24 of the Blood and Treasure Treasurekeepers Tome. Whether or not planets and wildspace are actually other planes from the Prime Material, the planar rules are still excellent for portraying strange environment. As for my home campaign, other planets are other planes.

WILDSPACE (Starry Sea, the Void, Space)
"When ships to sail the void between the stars have been invented there will also be men who come forward to sail those ships." -Johannes Kepler
Wildspace is the "space" between celestial bodies (planets, suns, etc). It is considered coterminous with the Material Plane, the crystal shells and the phlogiston. Wildspace is also coexistent with the Ethereal Plane, The Astral Plane, and the Plane of Shadow. Wildspace doesn’t have an atmosphere of any kind and is a perfect vacuum. Conventional interplanetary journeys around a solar system take place within wildspace. It is the first obstacle that must be conquered by would-be space travelers.
Mind Eater Dreadnaught
Wildspace has no gravity, and is finite only within its own crystal sphere (though these are quite large). It is mildly neutral in alignment, and has no elemental or energy traits. While, for the most part, magic works normally in wildspace there are some limits. Magical fire doesn’t need air to work properly but if the end result a spellcaster wants requires an atmosphere (i.e. oxygen) then that end result cannot occur. For example, a Fireball spell will work but it hasn’t any chance of lighting an object or person on fire.
Travel through Wildspace is managed with the use of specialized vehicles called Voidjammers. Ships not unlike sailing vessels in design but made (or altered) to fly through the depths of space. Through the use of magical devices called Helms, these ships can travel at tremendous speeds, and even contain their own atmosphere and gravity. 
Game Notes: Fantasy space is a dangerous place, and characters can die very quickly if they are thrown beyond an air envelope. A person can hold their breath for one round per two points of constitution if they are not moving, or for one round per three points of constitution if they are active (swimming, fighting, etc). Once they run out of breath, they suck water into their lungs and begin suffering 1d6 points of constitution damage per round until dead. Constructs and Undead are immune to this, for obvious reasons.

Asteroids are great for those who don't like neighbors.
The celestial body that is most familiar to typical player characters is their home planet, be it BarsoomMongo, Eternia, or any one of countless others that populate the multiverse. Celestial bodies extend upward in size to that of the largest sun, and downward to the size of asteroids and planetoids. The tremendous variety that is possible (and proven) in celestial bodies mandates that the only accurate definition for the term is any significantly large conglomeration of matter that is wheeling about in wildspace.
In general, however, a celestial body is a plane in and of itself, generally corresponding to one or more of the Inner Planes. Most of these Celestial Bodies are single-biome worlds, with only those with diverse biospheres (like our world) being considered "Prime Material" planets. Treasure Keepers are encouraged to be creative when designing Celestial Bodies. Some common classifications: Asteroids, Cloud Planets (Gas Giants), Dark Planets, Death Planets, Desert Planet, Discworlds, Fire Bodies (aka Suns), Forest Planets, Ice Planets, Jungle Planets, Ocean Planets, Swamp Planets, Twilight Worlds, and Volcano Planets.
Celestial Bodies can have any gravity, elemental and energy traits, or magic rules, depending on the concept of the world in question. Alignment of Celestial Bodies are usually some variation on Mildly Neutral (Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral), but some few are more strongly aligned.
Celestial bodies can have any shape, though the most common is spherical. Still, there are flat worlds, elliptical worlds, cubic worlds, amorphous worlds, ring-shaped worlds, hollow worlds. Some astronomers from have even theorized the existence of a mobius world.

Next: Crystal Spheres and The Phlogiston!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Voidjammer: Minoi (Tinker Gnomes)

Minoi (Tinker Gnomes)
Minoi are a race of gnomes who are widely represented throughout Wildspace. Unlike other gnome races, the Minoi are not particularly skilled in illusion, preferring to pursue invention and natural philosophy.
The gnomes of wildspace are a gadget-happy race that will invent something to solve a problem, then invent a second item to solve the problems caused by the first invention, a third invention to solve the problems of the second, and so forth ad infinitum and ad nauseum. It is little wonder that these inventive creatures came across methods to hoist themselves (willingly or no) beyond the atmosphere and into wildspace.
Minoi have incorporated well into interstellar society. They have a fairly loose structure in space, no more than a scattering of ships and a growing number of gnomes living in human settlements.
Minoi are about three feet tall and weigh 45-50 lbs. Gnomes have round ears and large noses. They tend to dress in outlandish garb, preferring function over style. They often wear leather aprons with many pockets bristling with tools, notes, papers, pencils, and various other gadgets.
Minoi are small creatures with a base speed of 20 feet. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for find traps and remove traps.
Minoi are quick of body and mind, adding one point to their starting Dexterity and Intelligence scores. Unfortunately the Minoi often get a bit carried away, and so lose two points of their starting Wisdom scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.
Minoi are always proficient in the use of crossbows (Hand, light and repeating), pistols and arquebuses. Minoi receive a +2 bonus on Reflex saving throws against fireballs, traps and explosions.
Minoi speak Common and Gnome. They might also speak Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Orc.
Minoi can multi-class as Cleric/Scientists, Scientist/Thief or Magic User/ *Leech.

*The Leech class can be found in the Nod Companion. If you have no desire for this product, replace the Leech with Thief.

Minoi Technology
The minoi are obsessed with learning through action and full immersion in a subject. Careful research and planning is for sissys in the mind of a tinker gnome, who prefer to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This does not mean that they are incapable of planning and research, far from it. But it does mean that they love complexity and experimentation for the sheer love of it. Often to the detriment of the final product.
Most inventions of the Minoi are Rube Goldberg like gadgets that are unnecessarily complex, but some are actually quite brilliant. Pulleys, wheels, whirring and ticking, all painted in the bright colors so adored by the gnomes. The end result often looks like an otherwise functional device, home or vehicle mixed with an amusement park or circus.
Voidjammer vessels made or altered by Minoi are amazing affairs, and are often much larger than necessary. All Minoi vessels have sidewheels that look like riverboat paddlewheels that house Giant Space Hamsters (no really) whose energetic running supplies considerable power to the vessel.
To make the mechanically crazy atmosphere of a Minoi community or vessel, Gamemasters should make liberal use of mechanical Animated Objects, Automatons, Living Statue (Iron), Shield Guardians and variations on the Apparatus of the Crab (doesn't have to look like a crab). Visitors should feel like they are in a potentially deadly amusement park.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Voidjammer: Lizardmen

Lizardman Fighter/Sorcerer
Lizardmen are reptilian humanoids that are well established in space, being found in most large spaceports as well as in colonies of their own.
While not among the more brilliant races found in space, they are on a par with halflings and humans. Depending on their world of origin, they vary from five to seven feet tall. Their scaly reptilian skin is normally brownish green to light green, but in space societies they decorate themselves with extensive tattoos and body paints.
The differences between males and females are indistinguishable to non-reptilians, and Lizardmen have no female pronouns in their language. So they are all considered "Lizardmen", regardless of gender.
Lizard men tend to be short tempered and emotional, with little patience for warm-blooded beings of other races. Their name for others is "BreK/qq/zz" which is derived from the lizard man word for "prey." Lizard men are usually neutral, tending towards chaotic behavior, but there are lawful and good members of the race, as well. Regardless of alignment, lizardmen are considered "savages" by the standards of most humanoid races.
Lizard men have appetites that rival the halflings' legendary love of food. Unlike halflings, they are more omnivorous and less choosy about cooking their meals. Lizard men in space generally do not kill other sentients for food, but are not above scavenging among the dead for interesting tidbits.
Lizardmen have a fondness for Druidic magic, though they do sometimes have other kinds of magic users acting as spiritual leaders. Lizardman spirituality is full of taboos and rituals relating to the hunt, ancestors and living things. Familiars, mounts and animal allies are almost always reptiles.
Lizardmen modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str +1, Con +1, Int -1. Lizardmen enjoy a +1 bonus to Armor Class from their thick, scaly hides. Lizardmen have a bite attack that deals 1d6 damage. They can hold their breath for up to 12 rounds and have a swim speed of 20.
They can multi-class as druid/fighters, fighter/sorcerers and fighter/thieves. They have unlimited advancement as Druids, but can only advance to 9th level in other classes. Lizardmen speak their own language, and might also speak Draconic, Goblin or Troglodyte.

Lizardman Variants 
Lizardmen live in all manner of hot climates. Steamy jungles are the most common climate for their race, but a number of Lizardman tribes live in hot forests, mountains and deserts. Those lizardmen who come from mountainous or wooded environments replace the swim speed of 20 with a climb speed, and those who dwell in deserts replace it with a burrow speed. All lizardmen can hold their breath for up to 12 rounds.

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan