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Author Topic: [TSOY] new Maldorite Cultural crunch  (Read 3635 times)

Posts: 153

« on: January 29, 2008, 08:49:12 AM »

As promised in another thread, here's a bevy of Maldor Cultural stuff.

We use Cultural Abilities in a slightly different manner than either 1st edition or 2nd edition TSOY does. Effectively, any Open Ability is already on your character sheet, and starting characters get 3 Cultural Abilities added to their character sheet as "open" (humans get a fourth one, a further incentive for their humanity, and their lack of a Species Ability).

We use the ranked priority system of 1st edition TSOY, so that, for instance, you might make your Fighting Abilities a "B" priority, meaning that a single advance would allow you to raise your First-Aid and your Scrapping by 1. However, the Cultural Abilities (with their more limited focus) are always placed on your sheet at one priority level higher than the other abilities in that category: the same character with "B" Fighting Abilities would get to place Infantry as an "A" ability.

It might seem confusing to some people, but its made for interesting mechanics, and provides some real incentive to ground yourself in the flavor of your nation. There are also plenty of Secrets which do things like unlock all of the other Cultural Abilities you didn't take during that character generation step, let you add Cultural Abilities from foreign cultures, or do things like add all of the Three-Corner Magic abilities you didn't take as Cultural Abilities (if you're a Maldorite) to your sheet, albeit at slightly lower priority than they would've been had you added them with your free Cultural slots.

So, with that in mind, some new Cultural Abilities first:

  • Artistic Ability: Drama (I): In Maldor, theater is perhaps the most popular art form among peasants and lords alike, a means of preserving history, celebrating good times, and sometimes even satirizing the tyrannical Lords. Companies of traveling players are not uncommon, and even laboring peasants may come together to form pageant plays at festivals. Use this ability to stage in or act in a performance.
  • Craft Ability: Blacksmith (V): Metal-rich Maldor breeds many laborers in the smithing field, from those who simply shoe horses to armorers, weaponsmiths, and other exotic trades. Use this ability to shape iron and steel to your purposes, working a forge or foundry, and earning your living.
  • Craft Ability: Brewing (R):<
  • Fighting Ability: Cavalry (V):<
  • Outdoor Ability: Falconry (I): This ability is used to capture and train hunting raptors, from the eagles of Oran to the smaller falcons more common to the north woods of Maldor. It can be used to hunt and catch small game with a raptor, or deliver messages to another trained falconer.
  • Priestly Ability: Alchemy (R): The Three-Corner Academy, and many other institutions, once taught the basic premises of alchemy. Use this ability to synthesize solvents, adhesives, and other simple chemical compounds. It can also be paired with some Three-Corner Magic Secrets to create elixirs and other wonders.
  • Social Ability: Antiquity (R): You are well-versed in the ancient history of the empire of Maldor, and you recognize its trappings. Use this ability to decipher old inscriptions, recall ancient historical figures and battles, and otherwise recall lore of the pre-Shadow age.
  • Social Ability: Games (R): Wagering, dice games, and betting are common pastimes for common folk, soldiers, brigands, and revolutionaries. Even the Lords of Maldor enjoy chess and other games of strategy. Use this ability to understand the rules of a game, beat opponents, and cheat.

And here are a host of Secrets we end up using. Explanations and additional notes in parentheses, when necessary. The basic premise behind this was to create Secrets which took the focus off of Three Corner Magic so much. While I love the Three Corner system, I also wanted a character to play a Maldorite peasant, soldier, brigand, revolutionary, merchant, or what have you and still feel that cultural vibe without thinking he had to buy into the Three Corner system. As such, it makes the wizardly folk feel a bit more special when they show up, but lets the soldiers be soldiers and still feel noticeably different from other characters who are relying on Open Secrets or the Secrets of their respective cultures.

Additionally, not all of these are exactly "novel." Many of them are derrivative of other Secrets and the basic structure Clinton laid out. I'm not trying to blow anyone's mind with how these work, or develop the game in some radical new way. Their premise was entirely to allow players who choose to be Maldorite characters in my games to get a handle on the flavor of their nation. I'd have accepted any of these if they'd been created by players, so they're well within the bounds of the game logic.

Secret of Academy Training
You have received special training at the prestigious academies of Maldor. Choose one of the following Ability categories, and increase it by one priority for the purposes of all future Advances: Artistic, Craft, Fighting, Priestly, or Social. Special: If you have either Day or Night Three Corner Magic Ability categories on your character sheet, you can use this Secret to advance all of those abilities by one priority, instead.

You have a talent for being able to find whatever others will find most useful. You can make a Scrounging Ability check to add unrestricted bonus dice to any other appropriate check, assuming that you have found useful items which can be applied to the check. Cost: 1 Instinct.

Secret of Competitive Spirit<Cost: 1 Instinct.

Secret of Complex Designs
Items you create are so complex and skillfully designed that they are difficult to emulate or undo. Any check to copy these designs (such as forging a piece of art, or stealing your clockwork blueprints) or circumvent them (such as picking a lock, disarming a trap, or scaling a palisade designed to keep opponents out) takes a penalty die on the check.

Secret of the Field Medic
Your experience on the battlefield has taught you how to treat war wounds, battle scars, and similar ailments. You can chain your Infantry ability to any check made to help others recover from harm or wounds inflicted during combat.

Secret of the Hearty Drinker
You are no stranger to the effects of strong drink. You receive a bonus die on Endurance checks to resist the effects of alcohol and similar intoxicating substances, though not most poisons. If you successfully make the check, you can select to apply some of the properties of the substance and not others as you wish, so that you could enjoy the beneficial effects of a strong drink but not take damage or penalties from it.

Secret of Lost Lore
You have plumbed the depths of ancient lost libraries of Maldor. You can chain your Scrounging ability check to any Arcane Lore, Antiquity, or History ability check to recall ancient stories, legends, and historical events.

You are an appointee of one of the Lords of Maldor. You might be a captain of a guard, a herald, or a reeve. You can chain your Law ability to any Orate or Intimidate check you make when dealing with Maldorite citizens or while in your homelands.

(It bears mention at this time that we use Open Abilities that no one else does. For instance, all of the Craft abilities are folded into either Handcrafts, for smaller projects, or Construction, for larger stuff such as architecture, shipwrighting, etc. Similarly, we have Open Abilities like Law, History, and Arcane Lore. Feel free to modify these as appropriate for your own games. For our personal play style, I've been content with using these new ones.)

Secret of Magical Potential<Special:<Secret of Military Discipline
You are trained at fighting alongside a commander, and acting directly on his instructions and orders. When another character grants you any amount of bonus dice from Orate or Battle ability checks, you take double the amount of bonus dice, and your restriction for the use of bonus dice is raised to two per roll.

(Heh. Another note is merited here. It's funny when I realize just how many homebrew rules we use. Our bonus dice from chained ability checks, and the aid of other individuals, are typically what we call Restricted Chains, meaning we only allow one die to roll over to the next check. This was a game rule instituted to stop an orgy of dice from appearing when chained checks were made. Don't get me wrong: we LOVE chaining abilities to each other, but it made things crazy after a certain point. In most cases, a character who could find any ability to chain womped his opponent handily if the opponent couldn't do the same, and it made for less drama, and we nipped the problem there. Just like pool point expenditures on abilities, your chains are normally restricted to a single bonus die.

There's a Secret we use called the Secret of Ability Genius which works, in some respects, like the Secret of Ability Speciality. Take Secret of Ability Genius: Etiquette, and your use of Etiquette chains are now restricted--you can roll over as many dice from Etiquette as you'd like to another ability check, when you chain them.

Hopefully, with that explained, the Secret above makes more sense.)

This has gotten so long that I need to cut in half. More Secrets, followed by Keys, in the second post.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)

Posts: 153

« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2008, 08:50:55 AM »

Part 2 of the horrifying avalanche of Maldorite crunchiness.

Secret of the Mounted Charge
You can spur a horse forward to deal a devastating attack to a foe. If you make a successful melee attack from horseback, you can make an additional Cavalry ability check; the SL of the Cavalry check is added to the damage of your attack as points of harm. You must be able to charge an opponent to do this, so fighting in close quarters or while surrounded makes such an attack impossible. Cost: 2 Vigor, 1 Instinct.

(This one hasn't been field-tested yet. I suspect it may be overpowered. Then again, its not every day a guy gets up on a horse in the middle of a battle, so I'm waiting to see just how broken it is, particularly 'cause its a fun moment where you're running down a foe from horseback. I suspect it isn't more powerful than the Secret of the Mighty Blow, and is arguably a lot more limited.)

Secret of Oathbinding<Cost: 2 Reason.

Secret of the Prayer of Dawn
You have been initiated into some of the mysteries of the faith of the Sun Lord. You can make a Pray ability check to illuminate an area with soft light, making it easy to see in darkness. The duration and radius of the light is determined by the Success Level of your check.

(I didn't want to twink off into cleric-land, but I just feel bad for that poor solar faith sometimes. I thought it'd be nice to give them a Secret or two, so that maybe someone would see the appeal in going for an Absolon-as-Sun-King character now and again.)

Secret of the Scion
For some reason, people believe you have some connection to the line of Absolon. Perhaps you are a lineal descendant of the emperors, an inheritor of their legacy, or even believed to be Absolon reincarnate. You receive a bonus die on all social rolls with loyalists and believers, but you may draw the attentions or envy of the Lords of Maldor, who might seek to involve you in their schemes (or dispose of you entirely).

(Kudos to Robert Ahrens for this one, from whose Crimson Sands TSOY campaign I stole this idea. Did I say "stole"? I meant "brazenly stole." He's the guy who got me into TSOY. Gotta give a little love back.)

Secret of Shared Defense
You have learned Maldorite fighting tactics, allowing you to share defensive items with a single character you designate, provided they stay nearby you. If you are wielding a defensive item with an imbued defense bonus, you can apply a +1 defense to the character you protect (though you cannot apply a higher defensive bonus, even if your imbued item normally provides a greater defense to you).

Secret of the Shield Bulwark<(An incentive for those who have to go purely on the defense during BDTP, such as changing their intention. The "using a shield" part is pure candy fluff; there's no mechanic for it. I just like the image of the armor-and-shield-clad Maldorite warrior. Yes, I'm a fantasy goober. Moving on...)

Secret of the Shield Parry
You can brace yourself when wielding a shield and defending against an attack, steeling yourself against greater damage. You can chain an Infantry Ability check to any Endurance check to defend against damage. This chain is restricted, as per normal rules.

Secret of the Siege Engineer
You can design and build siege engines with a Construction ability check. Once built, these engines can be used to make Infantry checks as if you or their wielders possessed the Secret of Shattering Strikes (effectively ignoring the standard penalty die for attacking inanimate objects or barriers). You can lead teams of sappers and other workers to undermine walls and battlements by making Construction checks.

(Everyone using standard TSOY rules would use, I guess, Rough Crafts. Maybe Complex Crafts. You see our concern sometimes with the Crafts rules, and why we opted for the two abilities we have.

Shattering Strikes is another homebrew of ours. We have a default assumption in game that its not as easy to smash through a stone wall as it is to knock a person down, so that materials tend to have fixed Success Levels to smash them, and typically apply a penalty die on the attempt. Yes, it's awfully D&D of me, but its not that different than assuming that an engineer would've come through this place at some point and set the difficulty ratings for all the walls and doors and such that you see, so its a passive contested check anyhow. This just standardizes and shorthands it for me.)

Secret of the Tactical Fighter<Secret of the Thieves' Guild
You have been initiated into a criminal organization in Maldor, whether its a lowly street gang, a group of highwaymen and brigands, an assassin's cult, or a criminal syndicate with a multi-generational history of "made men" and families. When in contact with your guild, you can spend 1 Reason and make a Streetwise ability check: the Success Level of the check results in a pool of bonus dice similar to the Secret of Blessing. These bonus dice can be applied to any criminal activity, and represent special equipment, help in the form of lookouts and trained criminals, loans of money, or other aid.

Secret of War College
You are a member of one of the prestigious War Colleges of Maldor, which are somewhere between military academies and secret societies. As a result of your extensive training, you receive a bonus die on Battle Ability checks, and a bonus die on Infantry or Dueling checks with a single weapon (typically the signature weapon of your War College).

Secret of the War Hound<Secret of the War-Cry
When you issue a war-cry, a challenge to battle, or an oath of vengeance, others take notice, particularly your foes. You can chain an Orate ability check to an appropriate Fighting Ability check when facing a foe. This chain is restricted normally.

Secret of the Wonder<Cost:<Secret of the Wonder-Wielder
You have a good understanding of the magical wonders of old Maldor, even if you are not a Three Corner Magician yourself. When activating a wonder, you can spend 1 Reason to make an Arcane Lore check, rather than using the appropriate Sorcery ability. The wonder functions normally, with its typical effect. Cost: 1 Reason.

(Yes, straight out of D&D, its the "Use Magic Device secret." But, actually, it has a lot of flair when used in game, as it means that non-Three Corner characters can sometimes steal a cool magical doohickey and do something awesome with it.)

Secret of the Wonder-Worker<Cost: 3 Reason, 1 Vigor.

And last but certainly not least, some Keys are probably in order.

Key of the Dolorous Oath
You are tied to a task which you find loathsome, troubling, or painful, but still must perform because of the expectations or others, or some pressure or threat which is used against you.
1 XP: Every time your obligation or oath comes up in a scene.
2 XP: Every time your oath brings you humiliation or discomfort.
5 XP: Every time your oath disrupts the chance to get what you really want.
Buyoff: Break your oath, and face the repercussions.

Key of Epsirit-De-Corps
You have served your time in the armies of Maldor, and draw your sense of self from your time as a soldier or officer.
1 XP: Whenever you share a meaningful scene with fellow soldiers or military superiors.
2 XP: Any time your loyalty to your fellow soldiers or your superior officers causes you inconvenience.
5 XP: Any time your loyalty to your fellow soldiers or your superior officers brings danger or harm.
Buyoff: Break faith with your men or disobey an order.

Key of the Veteran<Buyoff: Resist an opportunity for honor or glory.

Okay. That's it for now. Comments, suggestions, criticisms, and more are all welcome, but I'm not fishing for them, really. This is mostly for the benefit of others who've asked about it over boards and e-mail.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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