Thursday, April 17, 2014

Voidjammer: The Leech Class

This class, along with the Scientist 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 Leech is one of the most common medical practitioners in the multiverse of Voidjammer – generally tending to the ills of the common (and poor) folk. Clerics and Druids generally tend more to the influential and powerful, only rarely expending healing spells for everyday ailments and hurts. If anything, Leeches gain more regular help from NPC Alchemists and Adepts, who are themselves usually lowborn.
Leeches come from a number of related medical professions, Apothecaries, Barbers, Herbalists and Physicians. For one reason or another, these healers have set out on their own to learn how better to practice their craft. They do research, take notes and have formed an odd brotherhood of fellow healers. Despite the name, not all leeches drain blood, though this is often considered a worthy endeavor.
In Voidjammer, Leeches are highly prized as ships surgeons, and are employable in any colony or region where ships come regularly to port, where disease is often a constant concern. Leeches often cooperate with Scientists and Magic Users in their research, but egos usually come into conflict at some point. Leeches and soldier-types (fighter, paladin, etc) are the most common allies, as the skills of a good doctor has saved many a soldiers life and limbs.
Leech-like characters are not often in the forefront of adventure stories, books and movies but they are usually very important when they show up. Urgl from The Neverending Story, the Albino from The Princess Bride, and Dr Terminus from Petes Dragon are all interesting and fun characters. Historically, a number of interesting medical characters turn up as well. Dr. Robert Knox (who didn't care where he got corpses for his anatomy classes),  Doc Holiday from Wyat Earp, and any of the medical practitioners in Blood and Bone Alley in the wonderful book Matilda Bone are excellent examples of Leeches.

-Intelligence of 13+

-Padded and leather armor and bucklers

-Club, dagger, hammer, handaxe, sap and sickle

-Decipher Codes, Identify Specimens

Every leech gets into his profession from one of four backgrounds, chosen for the character at first level.
  • APOTHECARY’S APPRENTICE: The apothecary’s apprentice gains experience compounding elixirs and tonics, and thus grants his patients an additional +1 bonus to saving throws versus disease and poison when providing care.
  • BARBER’S APPRENTICE: A barber’s apprentice is skilled at Gathering Rumors and cutting hair.
  • HERBALIST’S APPRENTICE: The herbalist’s apprentice is skilled at “Identifying Specimens”.
  • MEDICAL STUDENT: The medical student spends time robbing graves and dissecting corpses to learn of their anatomy. They have a knack at Hiding in Shadows and Moving Silently.
All leech’s keep a leechbook, where he records his observations on medicinal herbs, diseases, poisons, animal and weapon wounds and anatomy. A leechbook is as vital to a leech as a spellbook is to a magic-user. Without his leechbook, a leech can only use his background abilities and leechcraft ability (see below). The book is usually a leather-bound volume with a common lock and 100 pages to be filled with notes, articles and dissertations.
Each level a leech gains requires him to fill one page per level of his leechbook with notes. A 1st level leech begins his career with one page of notes. When he reaches 2nd level, he will have filled another two pages, for a total of three, and so on.
An adventuring leech can further improve his skills by writing scholarly articles and dissertations. Writing one of these pieces requires the leech to make a scholarship roll. A scholarship roll is a percentile roll, with the chances depending on what kind of piece the leech is writing.
Writing a scholarly article takes one week of undisturbed work in a comfortable environment, and fills five pages of the leechbook. A dissertation fills fifteen pages and requires 1 month of undisturbed writing in a comfortable environment.
SCHOLARLY ARTICLE: A scholarly tract covers a type of ailments from the following list: Disease, poison, wounds from animals (or monsters) and wounds from weapons. The percentile chance to
write an insightful article is equal to five times the leech’s level (maximum 95%). If successful, the leech gains a +2 bonus on chirurgery rolls to treat wounds of the appropriate type or his patients get an additional +2 bonus to save vs. poisons or diseases. If unsuccessful, the leech suffers the opposite until he gains an additional level, at which time he can tear up his old article and, at some point, attempt to write a new one.
DISSERTATION: Where an article covers a whole range of ailment, a dissertation is more specific. For example, a scholarly article might cover disease in general, while a dissertation covers mummy rot in particular, or axe wounds or the wound patterns of an owlbear, the poison of a wyvern or the leech can write about a specific piece of anatomy, such as the human eye or ear.
For a leech to write a dissertation, it must have encountered and studied his subject first hand. The percentile chance to write a successful dissertation is equal to the leech’s level. If successful, the leech gains a +3 bonus to treat the condition covered by the dissertation. If unsuccessful, he suffers the opposite until he gains an additional level, at which time he can tear up his old dissertation and attempt to write a new one.
LEECHCRAFT: The leech is studied and practiced in “leechcraft”, i.e. first aid and general medicine.
Provided he has a supply of bandages (costs 5 gp per adventure), a few unguents and tonics (cost 10 gp per adventure) and his tools (leech’s tools cost 30 gp), he doubles the normal rate of healing for his comrades and allows them a +1 bonus on saving throws against poison and disease. Supernatural diseases (such as lycanthropy and mummy rot) can only be treated with gold-coated pills which cost 1 gp each.
When an injury is severe, the leech must turn to chirurgery. A chirurgery roll is made on the turn undead chart, though instead of rolling against the Hit Dice of the undead to be turned, the chirurgeon is rolling against the number of six-sided dice of healing he is trying to impart to his patient. If the roll is unsuccessful, the leech instead inflicts 1d6 points of additional damage to the patient. Chirurgery takes 1 turn per dice of healing and requires the use of leech’s tools.
PRECISE STRIKE: A leech armed with a dagger can make precise strikes against an opponent’s anatomy, provided he has studied that anatomy. Assume that all leeches are familiar with the anatomy of their own race plus two other humanoid races at first level. A leech activates this ability by accepting a -3 penalty to hit in combat in exchange for dealing double damage with a successful hit. In essence, the leech has to wait longer for an opening because he is looking to strike a few specific spots. When he does, the damage is more devastating. In a game that doubles damage for a “critical hit”, the leech using his precise strike ability gets to triple his damage on a critical hit.
HOSPITAL: At 9th level, a leech can choose to establish a hospital in a town and gain followers. A leech with a hospital attracts 1d6 0-level students per leech level, 1d6 first level leeches who wish to train under him and one 5th level protégé.

New Skills

This task involves gathering rumors in cities, towns and villages about the settlement, the surrounding wilderness and potential opportunities for adventure.
DIFFICULTIES: Small settlement (towns count as one difficulty, villages and strongholds as two difficulties), xenophobic people, attempting to gather rumors in a place other than a tavern or the
like, attempting to gather rumors without spending a few gold pieces for drinks and bribes.
FAILURE: No rumors are obtained. The adventurer can try again the next day, though after three unsuccessful attempts it should be apparent that either nobody knows anything of value, or that
the locals simply are not interested in talking.
KNACK: Half-Elves, Reigar
SKILLED: Bard, Barber (Leech Apprentice)

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.

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.

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.

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