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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 227 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: (TSOY) The Shadow of Eberron  (Read 7691 times)
Rich F

Posts: 20

« on: February 04, 2008, 02:27:05 AM »

I'm working on a version of TSOY that draws from D&D's Eberron campaign setting, and I'm hitting something of a creative block at the moment.  I'm hoping some discussion here may spur me on.

I'm using identity, rather than love, as my core species concept, but keeping the human focus on love (and relationships) as the centre of their identity.  For the Shifter race, I'm thinking of using the Vulfen pretty much wholesale as I love the idea of identity as heirarchy.  For the Kalashtar I'm using TSOY Elves as a base and looking at the dream / dreamer distinction with elements of the Cartesian cogito.

For the Changelings (shapeshifters) I'm using the TSOY goblins as a base but with a focus on the nature of identity.  The source material has a 3 way split on Changling culture which I quite like, and I'm looking to shape keys which hit the right buttons.  Passers seek to blend in with another culture - which seems to be covered by the Key of the Impostor.  Becomers embrace their shifter nature, constantly changing their form (and allegiances)  I think that a Key of the Traitor may best embrace this concept.  Reality Seekers try to remain in their 'true' form, and this is the one that is causing me to hit a wall.  I think the problem is I haven't got the base concept for them clear in my head, so any help here would be good.

I'm twisting the warforged into an organic slave race, grown in alchemical vats with a Dwarven physique.  I'm thinking along the lines of Bladerunner / BSG / Feet of Clay and examine the concept of created / creator as identity.  I'm wanting to use the AD&D Dark Sun idea of focus, and giving them Tireless as a Species skill - don't sleep, rest or take breaks.  As far as keys go, I'm quite liking The Key of the Craftsman and the Key of the Perfection, maybe even the Key of the Scavenger, with the idea that they want to make their mark on the world, leaving something behind after they are gone (these can cover ideas and relationships as well as material goods).  This would go hand in hand with giving them a short lifespan (grow fast - die fast) and whilst this is hitting the classical Dwarf concept, I don't feel I'm hitting the created element of the concept.  Perhaps I'm just not focused enough on my core concept?

Finally, for halflings, I'm working on a the basis of some of the discussions on Dwarves in TSOY with a Drow twist.  Really focusing on the concept of family as identity, with matriarchal family clans who control all marriages and breeding.  Add in a twist with their blood being a god in material form awaiting for the time they return to the heavens when their messiah is born and I can add in cultural conventions of the mafia and a family you can't leave or escape.

As far as the gods go, I'm looking at the Planescape concept of a mutable reality that is determined by consensual belief, with elements of Unknown Armies avatars / godwalkers - but that is probably a discussion for another time Smiley

Posts: 153

« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 10:47:50 AM »


As someone who really digs the Eberron setting but is feeling less and less love these days towards D20, I totally dig what you're doing. You say you're stumped, but it looks to me like you have good ideas already.

What did you mean by "identity" being the key element for humans. Can you elaborate on that? "identity" is such a generic term that I'm not sure what you're using it to express.

I once made a stab at doing some Eberron stuff in TSOY, but I don't have my notes with me. I can show you what I was thinking, if you're really interested, but you shouldn't use the ideas if they're lamer than your own. I was staying *very* purist to Eberron's core conceits, and I think you're doing something a little more ambitious.

I think my Changeling design was like this:

Changeling - Mimicry (I): This ability represents a changeling's ability to emulate the mannerisms and voice of other people. While it is used for many changeling Secrets, in its pure form, its all about being able to pass yourself off as another person, even without relying on supernatural forms of disguise.

Their core Secret actually let them spend Instinct to actually physically metamorph into the features of others. I believe my cost spectrum was 1 Instinct to have generic features which didn't particularly look like anyone else, but let you hide your changeling identity, and 2 Instinct to copy someone else. Mimicry ability checks were required when anyone tried to penetrate your disguise.

There were Secrets which branched off from this that let you even temporarily emulate the Secrets and Abilities of others, doing all sorts of fun stuff with your doppelganger nature.

If you want a Key for the "Reality Seeker" concept you're talking about, then increase the amount of hostility, mistrust, and scorn that changelings receive for being in their true form. Why would anyone trust a shapeshifter, when the species has a reputation for mischeif and lies? Its natural for them to disguise themselves just to get along in a dangerous world which reviles them. Give them Key options about earning the genuine trust of others, or for dealing with the contempt that others heap on them. Decent XP hits for staying in your "true" changeling form even when you're facing opposition which would be easier to deal with by tricking them (an angry changeling-hating mob, for instance, or a situation you could lie your way out of but have decided not to).

My *very* traditionalist Warforged design went like this:

Warforged - Constructed (V): This ability represents the durable, construct nature of the warforged, and their design for warfare. It can be chained to any ability check used to inflict damage in melee combat, and to Endurance checks to Stay Up in conflict. Certain warforged Secrets also draw on this ability to represent the warforged's living construct nature.

And their core Secret gave them a bevy of immunities (poison, drugs, disease, no need to eat/sleep/breathe--the suite of benefits that warforged receive in Eberron), and a +1 natural armor towards physical harm, but also placed some restrictions on their healing. First Aid checks provided no benefit for them, but Crafts checks could be made in their place. If you want things to get really interesting, you can potentially deny them the ability to recover from physical harm naturally, and force them to seek repairs, either on themselves or through the attention of others.

Additional Secrets are pretty easy to think up from there, I think-- natural armor and weapons, some fun with special materials (silver? cold iron?), and a bunch of other fun ideas that are suitable for constructs. I'm always a sucker for the "Tin Man" concept, so those were easy for me. Keys about wanting to understand the human condition are always such fun.

Having seen the construct ideas which got created for the whole TSOY/steampunk Petrana campaign, though, I think you'd do a lot better with that. I swiped those same ideas and came up with two pools for the constructs, adding "Data" as a second pool to the already extant "Fuel" pool. It makes for some neat options, particularly if you want to cross the boundaries of what it means to be a machine or alive, which the warforged could be a fascinating way to explore.

My Kalashtar build, which wasn't so thrilling, went something like this:

Kalashtar - Mindlink (R): This ability represents a kalashtar's connection to the quori soul with which he shares his body. It can be used to establish a telepathic link with any language-using being a kalashtar can see, allowing him to converse in the mind of that character.

Their core Species Secret was something like "Secret of Dual Spirits" which was about relying on their quori soul for benefits. They receives a bonus die to resist mental coercion, as well as making Will checks to Stay Up vs Harm. I also granted them a single floating pool point, which could be used in place of either Reason, Instinct, or Vigor, whenever they needed it, drawing on the power of their quori essence.

There were additional Secrets which expanded that quori "pool", and let them do all the fun mental stuff they should be able to do. I always felt D&D was brutal on their limited use of their mindlink ability, which is why I made it the species Ability, and made it free. Honestly, in a setting like TSOY, it's not even remotely dangerous.

Let us know what particular elements you're kicking around, and I'm sure people can help. The Forge has become really fun for crunchy brainstorming of late.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
Rich F

Posts: 20

« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 04:41:23 PM »

Don't you hate it when you write a long post, then lose it without saving when you try to post Sad

2nd attempt (hope it makes sense)

What do I mean by identity?Tireless The dwarf is an untiring physical body. He may pay Vigor costs from any other Pool until his next refreshment scene. Cost: 2 Vigor and Obsession<Familia, and their Secrets are based around their 'holy blood', primarily Blood Inheritence

Posts: 153

« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2008, 08:22:28 AM »


Neat stuff. I like the ideas possible with the halfling concepts you're discussing. A creepy way for some group mind focus stuff.

Does "nationalism" factor into the human "identity" concepts? I know that it tends to be an important thing in D20 Eberron, and its got some nice overlap in TSOY, as well. Might be something worth exploring, but it really depends on if you want to go to the trouble of creating cultures for the major Eberron nations you'll be playing with.

Of course, you couldn't tear me away from the idea of wanting to port Breland, Aundair, Cyre, and particularly Thrane and Karnath over to TSOY cultures. Just coming up with the Ability lists alone would be a delightful challenge. The Talental Plains alone would make me giddy... yay, Dinosaur Handling (Instinct)! But, again, its all about how much effort you want to put into this for the return you'll get, and whether or not you have your own nations in mind, or are 'porting over the Eberron ones.

No matter what, if you're making "identity" the core focus for humans, and its about how they relate to others, I'd be playing around with groups and organizations. The axes of exploring those relationships, such as religions, guilds, gangs and criminal organizations, noble houses (hello, Dragonmarked), and the like are a rich field for that. But does it mean, then, by extension, that other species don't explore their identity in the same way? Is what makes a human a human their ability to easily forge and break such allegiances, whereas groups like dwarves and halflings find they are crafted/born into such relationships, shifters are defined by their strict heirarchies, and changelings find that level of attachment difficult to explore? I'd say that if something is the core human concept, we should see its absence, aberrance, or exploration subtly different and distinct in the other non-human species.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
Rich F

Posts: 20

« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2008, 01:52:35 PM »

To be honest, I'm not going to do too much detail on the cultures.  I want to port them, but I don't think my players will be keen to wade through hundreds of pages of background.  I need to be able to detail each culture on a page, with perhaps 1-2 keys, a couple of Secrets and a couple of Abilties to give a flavour of each culture.

I see where you're coming from on terms of social interaction via family groupings, but I'm going to leave that for play.  I don't want to constrict the players in how that happens, and as I plan on making the players the focus, I'll leave that to play.

I'm not sure whether I'll be using the Dragonmarked Houses, in part because of how I intend to do gods and clerics.  I like the religions in Eberron and the doubt involved, but I'm planning on porting Unknown Armies Avatars into Eberron.  It ties in well, at least in my view, with Planescapes idea of a mutable reality, and also contrasts well with my WoD style Mage's (1st Ed) that I want to use.  For those who don't know, UA Avatars channel archtypes.  Each archtype is personified by an Ascended being (god) but they can be thrown down from heaven and replaced by another person ([player) who better represents the archtype (which sounds a lot like TSOY transcendence to me).  The god can influence reality, but is also a reflection of it.  Nicely limiting their power, but enabling the players to be able to interact with them in a number of ways.

I'm still working out how best to represent this in the game, but the basic principle is as follows.

Avatars, through their Avatar ability, imitate the gods in order to fool the universe and gain their powers (secrets).  However, if they break taboo, they weaken their connection to the archtype.

I really want to include the taboo idea, but I currently have 2 theories as to how to implement it.

Option 1 - The avatar must undertake ritual actions (like a key) in order to generate / refresh Avatar points (a 4th pool) with which they power their Avatar Secrets.  If they break taboo, their Pool drops to zero and must be refreshed.

Option 2 - No 4th pool, the Key of the Avatar just provides XP.  If the character breaks taboo, then their ability level drops one level.

Option 2 seems harsh (though I'm playing around with slightly more ability levels) but is simpler than Option 1.  Option 1 seems to have more colour, but does complicate things.  Perhaps I needs to keep the Key for XP and simplify the refresh?  I did think about a temporary loss of Avatar secret use for breaking taboo - but couldn't find a formula I was happy with.

Any thoughts would be welcome.  I'll post below a couple of sample gods.


Key of TruthTaboo: The Messenger must never deny the truth when confronted.  He can passively conceal, he can lie by omission but he cannot deny it.

Secrets of Truth

Secret of the Truth - You can force someone to confront the truth when you deliver it to them with a successful Avatar check, and 1 Instinct.  The message must be true, and the messenger must believe it to be true.  They will know it to be true, though how they deal with that can vary.

Secret of Stripping Away the Mask<Secret of Messenger <Secret of Divination<
WarriorKey of War

1 XP whenever you oppose the Enemy
3 XP whenever you deal a serious defeat to the Enemy

Taboo<Secrets of War

Secret of Inspiration<Secret of the Warrior<Secret of Emnity
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2008, 02:09:28 PM »

A quick note, here's how I'd do the avatar pool and the taboo thing:

Secret of the Avatar
The character has avatar powers he must upkeep by keeping onto some taboos. He may use an appropriate Ability check to add the result as dice into a special Avatar pool. This pool can then be used for appropriate actions as bonus dice. However, if the character breaks some predetermined taboos related to the type of avatar he is, the dice pool changes into penalty dice - and the SG will determine their use, putting some into checks in most situations the character faces. The pool can be again reversed with appropriate ritual and such, akin to a refresh scene. Cost: 1 appropriate Pool to charge the pool

(That's all very vague, you can clean it up easy enough and tie it to specific abilities and whatever easy enough.)

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