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Author Topic: A Possible Setting for Burning Wheel  (Read 9120 times)
Lxndr
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« on: January 01, 2004, 10:48:55 AM »

I've got a number of homegrown fantasy settings sitting around (who doesn't, right?), and it's occurred to me that Burning Wheel might be the right home for one of them.  It's probably not as original as I think it is, but I still think it's a nice little fantasy setting.  Its name is Hazaril, thanks to a random name generator, some tweaking, and a little luck.

   There used to be two worlds, now there is one - the other destroyed by a goddess in a fit of grief and rage.  The door had only recently been opened between the two worlds, and the destruction of one caused a cataclysm in the other.  Much was lost, but since then an empire has rose and fell, and a new Renaissance seems poised to begin.

   To be short, Hazaril is a world on the brink of an invasion - from space.  Yeah, I liked Spelljammer and I fell in love with Space: 1889, so I stole liberally from it, so sue me.  Anyway, the nifty thing about this particular space invasion is that the invaders are (more or less) the exact same races as the people of Hazaril.  This is due to some of the cosmology - basically, the "Mannish Races" were spread across the cosmos.

   At the purported "baseline moment" of the setting, agents of the invaders are already on Hazaril, but secretly, making alliances, sowing unrest and other such things while collecting intelligence for the invasion.  So there's been a growing instability in the pseudo-medieval area where the players start.

-----------------

   Putting Hazaril into Burning Wheel requires some changes.  None of them I believe are "major", but they're still "significant" (i.e. more than just minor).

   First off, there are the races and species (and yes, I need to separate them like that).  Humans more-or-less remain the same, but none of the other races in the Character Burner exist on Hazaril.  There are five "races" that are related to humanity (in point of fact, they are all part of humanity, just differing by the addition of an element - which is why they are "races"), and all of them would/should use the Human lifepaths.  (Yes, there are the "inspired by elves", "inspired by dwarves", and "inspired by orcs" analogues in this area.)

   However, all the non-plain-human species get only half the Trait Points from a lifepath (round down), because of their inborn racial abilities.

   Beyond the various races of mankind, there are several other intelligent species, each of them the children of a pairing of gods.  The current proposal is:

   * Great Spiders
   * Great Bats
   * Great Foxes
   * Outsiders
   * Dragons
   * Dolphins
   * Numina (more-or-less chaotic nature spirits, each with a different form)
   * Sidhe (one interpretation of "fae", the deities of which they are children control ice, dreams, passion, prophecy, royalty, and nobility between them)

   The first creature on the list is really rather simple - all I need to do is change the Undernest to reflect a slightly different nature.  In fact, until I saw the Great Spiders, I was struggling with what this particular god pair should have as children.

   The rest, though, I more-or-less need to build from scratch.  A long project, to say the least.  But one that I think I'll wind up doing, at least if there's any interest.

-----------------

   The next thing that needs to be changed are Abstractions.  The five integral elements of Hazaril are as follows:

* Air
* Earth
* Fire
* Night
* Water

   Any astute reader (and most others) will notice that there are four elements missing from this list, and one element added that isn't on this list.  The four missing elements are Anima, Arcana, Heaven, and White.  The new element is Night.

   Now, Arcana I'm willing to keep and leave un-changed, and for the moment I'm willing to leave Anima untouched too.  For both Heaven and White, see below.

   Night is the "luminous ether", the element that mostly exists between the stars, but which also pervades the atmosphere.  (The closer to the planet, the less ether there is, and there's more ether at night than in the day.)  It's part "cosmic rays", part "the sea of space," and part "quantum foam."  Ether is, historically, "the medium through which light travels."

   Thus, it seems to me that Night could potentially do double-duty as both Heaven (as a light-medium) and White (through the cosmic stuff).  That gives us seven elements instead of eight.  We'll cost Night as equal to White.

   But... in order for the Magic Wheel to work appropriately, each layer should have a differing # of choices.  By reducing the # of elements to seven, we bring it in line with the # of available Impetus choices.  Luckily, I'm interested in adding one to that group, oddly enough by coincidence.

   And that new one is taken out of the pages of Ars Magica - Intellego, or Knowing.  In Hazaril, there are spells of pure knowledge - there is an Impetus that allows insight.  We'll cost it equal to Heaven, since that way "buying every single abstraction" still costs the same.  I understand Luke's choice for keeping out of basic BW magic, but there's nothing wrong with altering such things for the purposes of setting emulation, is there?

   Thoughts on this?  This is probably the biggest change.

-----------------

   Third, Hazaril is slightly higher-magic than the standard Burning Wheel setting.  Thus, all humans (and other humanoid races) can cast spells without the need of a particular Trait.  Abstraction still requires a Trait, and only the plain humans can do it (none of the other races).  Certain other species might be able to abstraction-like things (spiders and webs as a big one).

   (I'm torn on summoning, because I hadn't really thought about it in Hazaril terms and still need to consider the ramifications of summoning existing at all.  Will get back to y'all on that.)

   "Popular spellcasting" comes with some restrictions.  First, there are very few spells that are "open knowledge" - knowing the Sorcery skill only gives access IN CHARACTER GENERATION to a small number of spells - the commonly known ones.  Additional spells at chargen require either (a) an affiliation in a group that'll teach it to you, or (b) some sort of Trait that gives you access to it.  Spells are secret and hoarded.  Furthermore, popular spellcasters can never MAKE a new spell - they can only learn existing ones.  
   Only certain people have the power to create new spells, and they're the ones who can use abstractions (new spells can also occasionally happen naturally, but this is rare).  In addition, these same people can BREAK an existing spell, so that nobody can ever cast it again, or CHANGE an existing spell so that it causes a different effect.

   (Theoretically, "making" a spell is an extra step after distilling it.  Think of the magical core of the world as an operating system.  The Gifted can manipulate the operating system directly, but everyone else needs a User Interface.  That's what the normal spells are - already-distilled constructs with a user-interface.  Which is why botching normally leads to harmless dissipation, rather than the garbled transmission of using abstractions.

   ("Making" a spell (or changing or breaking it) is meant to be an undertaking that, in BW terms, can permanently reduce your Forte, or even kill you.  The system I create will/should allow the Sorcerer to change the # of syllables in the final product, or the Ob.  Thus, the spells people ACTUALLY cast might be different from the spells that the Abstractionist can cast.  He can try to make it easier, or make it take longer, or make it harder... all sorts of options.)

----------------

   Similarly, I'm not sure exactly how to work it yet, but prayers with =actual effects= are more common, even for those who aren't Faithful (and yes, all of the human races can be Faithful).  My current thought is to have each working prayer be a special-skill like the elven songs, etc.  But instead of having a root attribute, just have them all open at the same value regardless of attribute, thus suggesting equality before the gods.

   Thoughts?

-----------------

   Anyway, that's my initial thoughts right now.  Is anyone interested, or are you all gaping in horror at how much I'm massacring your beloved game?
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2004, 09:02:01 PM »

This sounds good, Alexander. I think you are doing the right thing with these rules -- modifying them, picking and choosing, to suit your needs.

In all honesty, most of the changes you mention are minor. Especially the changes to abstraction. If you're willing to keep the same # of facets with the same or similar ob/syllables then you're really changing names, concepts and end results. The mechanics can serve as they are.

Your system for "core spell manipulation" is a little more drastic, IMO. You're going to have to come up with a novel system for this that doesn't also break the game -- which I think is possible when toying with the already potent font of magic.

The elimination of a trait-buy for basic casting is fine. We've toyed with this same concept, and mechanically it works fine. You just have to anticipate how this will affect play. (ie, horrendous potential for abuse).

I would even go one step further and ditch ALL OTHER FORMS OF MAGIC except sorcery. Ditch "faith" -- call them miracles, but use sorcery mechanics. Ditch summoning if it doesn't fit, you don't need it. Howls/Songs are a bit more subtle than Faith and Summoning, but if you don't need them, ditch them. I think your setting will benefit from tight design rather than expansive choices that threaten to ruin or break it.

I really and truly intended all these magic systems to be a "pick and choose" set up. You don't have to (and aren't supposed to) use them all.

The addition of all those races is definitely a major task, but I am working on something right now that will hopefully make it easier. And honestly, I find "species creation" in BW to be rather enjoyable.


Thanks for your time and input, I'd be interested in hearing more about this as it develops.

-L
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Lxndr
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2004, 07:03:04 AM »

Well, while I'm keeping the same # of facets in abstractions, with the same costs, I'm "moving" one of the cost-structures between categories.  I'll be interested to see how that plays out, but you're right in that it's relatively minor.  As for spell manipulation, I'm sure there'll be a lot of odds-testing and play-testing with that one, once I get that far.

Quote
The elimination of a trait-buy for basic casting is fine. We've toyed with this same concept, and mechanically it works fine. You just have to anticipate how this will affect play. (ie, horrendous potential for abuse).


Yeah, I can see the potential for abuse.  But there are a number of limiters on that abuse:

1.  Anything the players can do, so can GM characters.  After all, the "anyone can cast spells" concept is just that - ANYONE.  
2.  You need to be a member of an affiliation to learn more than just the basic spells, and affiliations are secretive about who gets to learn them (not to mention costing RPs).  Note that abstractions CAN be learned without an affiliation.
3.  As a result of #2, if your character is a member of an affiliation, and teaches his spells to non-members, and they get found out...  well, let's just insert an evil GM chuckle here.
4.  Finally, Sorcery is more commonly available, but the skill itself is still limited to a few focused lifepaths.  So unless the characters want to take those lifepaths, they'll have to spend their precious General Skill Points.

Of course, 2 and 3 are somewhat easy to get around.  All you need is one guy with the Gift, and have him make spells for you.  Assuming that works out, then the player group has effectively started founding their own affiliation, which has its benefits and penalties.  A lot of them political.

Quote
Your system for "core spell manipulation" is a little more drastic, IMO. You're going to have to come up with a novel system for this that doesn't also break the game -- which I think is possible when toying with the already potent font of magic.


Yeah, I know, and I'm dreading it.  But it fits the concept behind Hazaril sorcery, which is "a few people can actually make spells, everyone else just has to use whatever they make."  Also, making a new spell is taxing, potentially permanently - I'm going to need a system where the caster risks injury, permanent attribute loss, or death... EVEN on successfully making the spell (and in addition, purposefully increasing the chance of injury or death, i.e. feeding your life into the spell, should reduce the obstacle).

The big part is deciding obstacles for destroying spells so nobody can cast them anymore, obstacles for changing a spell so that casting it causes a different effect, and of course obstacles for affecting the obstacle/syllable/etc. of the final spell product.  I'm looking forward to it with both excitement and dread.

Quote
I would even go one step further and ditch ALL OTHER FORMS OF MAGIC except sorcery. Ditch "faith" -- call them miracles, but use sorcery mechanics. Ditch summoning if it doesn't fit, you don't need it. Howls/Songs are a bit more subtle than Faith and Summoning, but if you don't need them, ditch them. I think your setting will benefit from tight design rather than expansive choices that threaten to ruin or break it.


One of the big things for me in this setting is the dichotomy between the three forms of magic:  sorcerous, divine, and imbued.  Sorcerous magic is already pretty well handled using Sorcery and Abstractions as they are in the book, barring the changes mentioned above.

"Imbued" magic is going to be handled a lot like the current Elven Songs, etc., combined with race-specific Traits.  If Orcs had Hatred in my world, it'd fall under "Imbued."

Finally, Divine magic has two levels, when it comes to the Mannish races (as does Sorcerous, with spells vs. Abstractions).  At the lower level, there are prayers that ANYONE can do - little rituals that are the fantasy version of "now I lay me down to sleep" or "our father, who art in heaven" only with a bit more punch.  Anyone who does the little ritual gets the benefit - unless the god has a fit and decides that prayer doesn't work anymore, which they can do at any time (as they can create new ones at any time).  At the higher level, you have people who have devoted themselves to a single deity, which is where Faith comes in.  

In fact, I'd been looking for a Faith-like system for a while, and tried to do my own a few times in a few times, in a few games.  But your version of Faith is what I'm looking for.  I'm just debating various methods on how to handle the "lesser" prayers.  Making them work like sorcerous spells doesn't feel right - which is why I'm considering just having them be skills whose root attribute is the exact same number for all races.

In other words, I'm keeping Faith.  :)  As for Summoning - as much as I love the idea of summoning, you're right in that I probably don't need it.  There's no place to really fit it into my current cosmology, and I don't want to break the cosmology.

(And as there's at least SOME space-travel possible in this setting, I should mention how that interacts with these three methods.  Besides, I really like how the three interact:

* Imbued magic always works, no matter where you are.
* Abstractions work on any planet, but spells only work on the planet where they were "made" out of an Abstraction.  (There are Ob penalties for trying them on the moons, and generally speaking there's too little sorcerous energy in the black of space for them to work at all.)
* Divine magics work under the same star as the god(s) that give them.  Gods are not omnipotent, and each "sun" has its own set of deities.  

Incidentally, this means each sun has its own set of god-children, so none of the non-Mannish species are on any other planet - even if some other star system has Great Spiders, for instance, they've probably got a different set of default Traits, because they don't share the same lineage.)

Quote
The addition of all those races is definitely a major task, but I am working on something right now that will hopefully make it easier. And honestly, I find "species creation" in BW to be rather enjoyable.


Very neat that you're working on something!  Of course, I'm still waiting for the Horse Burner.  ;)

But seriously, I'm looking forward to working on them - some of them are still vaguely form-less in my head, and statting them out helps me get a handle on them.  Obviously the first order of business are the Mannish races, since they're mainly the ones I see people playing (or allowing them to play).  Everything else comes later.

(Each of the non-human Mannish races has three genders.  Just a random note I feel compelled to mention here.)
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2004, 02:01:58 PM »

Herein find an in-depth look at Hazarilan races other than human, for your perusal.  I'm hoping to have at least first draft rules of these guys ready in 3 weeks, so I can present them to my group.  I am adamant that all these races should use the same lifepaths already available for humanity - cultures are cosmopolitan, and all the races thus are a part of the same tapestry.  Even so, there might be "sub-categories" for these races, if appropriate.

Technically, all of the Five Races share the same DNA with each other, and with humans.  The only difference is a metaphysical one - the elements, which affect how the DNA is interpreted and so on.  Of course, all this is beyond the common knowledge of the people of the day.  But it has some interesting fallout.

First, there are no half-breeds - each member of each race is fully committed to being a member of that race.  How does this work?  Easily - if two different non-human races breed, a human is the result.  If a member of a non-human race breeds with a human, the result is the member of that non-human race.  This is due to elements - in the former case, the two differing elements cancel each other out, leaving a human; in the latter case, the human has no element to contribute, so the element from the contributing parent is strong.  (All this is barrning magical or natural intervention).  To put it in terms of common races, if you breed an elf and an orc, you get a human.  An elf and a human, you get an elf.

Second, all the non-human races have three physical genders, more or less - in addition to the male and female, there's a neuter sex generally called the "elemental."  The "elemental" exacerbates the features of their race, as they are suffused with the element, and generally commands powers above and beyond their kin.  (This is the equivalent of "Gifted" for the non-human races - and technically, "Gifted" is the third gender of humanity, but it doesn't halt normal sexual development, so nobody's realized this yet).

Thirdly, each of the non-human races has some form of racial magic related to its element.  Humans completely miss out on this one, because they are element-less, but they are more flexible.  This is the reason for the ruling I gave above:  non-humans get half the Trait points that humans do for each lifepath.  Calculated separately, and always round DOWN.

The five non-human races (organized according to element) are:

Night - Deneri - These were originally conceived as mind-flayers, but have long since abandoned that role.  Deneri are fragile albinos who can survive in the ether unaided.  Beyond that, my interpretation of them keeps changing, but it's generally good to imagine the kid from that movie Powder.  Their racial magic is still undetermined, but I'm thinking some sort of probability control.  Their elemental form is the Flenser, who can rend a person's mind apart from the inside out.

Air - Avalir - The avalir are winged humans who can't fly (but can glide).  They have sharp minds, hollow bones (and thus, somewhat fragile bodies), and excellent voices.  Following from that, their racial magic is in songs - think of a combination of Luke's excellent Elven Songs and the singing abilities of the Angels of Samaria, from Sharon Shinn's excellent books.  Their elemental form is the Shrike, who can actually fly.

Water - Vetal - Don't call them "Elves", they hate it, but the elf concept is what inspired these guys.  It's been a long, hard road since then, though.  First off, they are biologically incapable of eating meat - they eat vegetables, and can (must) drink blood.  In fact, unless they drink blood, they won't live forever in the way that elves do.  Vetal are almost always born in pairs or higher, and contain strong life-links to their twin-siblings - if that sibling dies, they have a "phantom twin" that occasionally gives them visions.  Vetal can also breathe water as easily as air, and move through the water as easily as the land.  Their racial magic is blood-based.  Their elemental form is the Wampyr, who eat nothing but blood, and whose first victim is always their twins, while in the womb.

Earth - Tarrax - Inspired by the dwarves, but unlike the Vetal you can call a Tarrax "dwarf" with impunity - to them, the other races are impossibly tall, and the Tarrax are just the right size (they are impossibly dense, as well).  Unlike most dwarf analogues, Tarrax cannot see in the dark, and in fact have uncorrectable astigmatism.  Instead, they have excellent hearing - to put it in Champions terms, it is Targeting.  They can "Earthsculpt" (move natural soil and rock away) with their hands, and have a distinctive sense of what lies beneath the soil.  Their racial magic is in their crafts and construction - the things that last.  Their elemental form is the Troll, who stands twice as tall as a human, and can "Rockswim" (which is basically what it sounds like).

Fire - Khan - Vaguely inspired by orcs, the fire quickens the Khan - they reach maturity earlier, and die young, and in between they almost never stop.  Where the dwarfs are smaller by almost a foot, the Khan are larger by the same amount - and possessed of a terrible hunger.  Their bodies are hard as steel fresh from the forge, their eyes can see the fire in others (heat vision), and their sense of smell is powerful (as are their odors).  Unfortunately for their reputation, the Khan possess a temper that occasionally explodes.  The Khan's racial magic is physical - think of Shadowrun's physical adepts.  Their elemental form is the Ogre, as tall over the Khan as they are over the other Races (but still shorter than the Troll).  Ogres possess four arms which they can use with equal skill.

So, that's that with that.
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2004, 10:50:57 PM »

Nice color and background. Evocative and cool. But let's talk turkey, baby!

We need wheel to meet road: Common Traits, Lifepaths, Lifepath Traits, Special Traits, Special Skills and Magic.

Start small: Pick one aspect of one species and detail it out.

Rock me.
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2004, 07:11:00 AM »

Bah.  You slavedriver!

Okay, first:  as I mentioned before, for the human-races (we're not into species yet - THESE are races, the spiders and foxes and Outsiders and the like are other species, but these are just "races" - minor variations on humanity itself, which is all a "race" really is).  I want them to use the mannish Lifepaths out of the book, with only a few minor modifications (at most a different "sub-setting" for each race).  That'll be one of the last things I do.

I've been on-again/off-again tinkering with a few different races in re: Burning Wheel, hoping to get something ready by the 24th.  Before I tackle a specific race in detail (I want to start with the Avalir first), let me get some non-Avalir-related notes off my chest.  They won't take too long:

* Vetal (elves) have "The Craving" - blood can be addictive to them, kind of like alcohol to humanity (only imagine if the alcohol ACTUALLY gave you magic powers and would let you live forever).  I figure this "Craving" would be sort of like the Grief of current Elves - and my current thought is "for each Lifepath the Vetal takes, barring a special few from their personal sub-Setting, their Craving goes up by one, unless they manage to eschew it and thus take on the penalties of aging."  The Craving value would add to their Blood Magic, much the way Will adds to Sorcery, and there will be a list of things that would cause Craving tests.

* I don't think Hazaril really needs a "vile language", so cross that off any list.

Okay, Avalir Common Traits

Wings

What really sets the peacocks apart from the other human races are the feathery wings rising from just below their shoulderblades, always of scintillating colours (in fact, Avalir of both genders are often bald - so wings replace hair as a source of vanity).  As children, they learn to fly before they can walk, but by puberty most are too large to be carried.  Nonetheless, adult Avalir can use their wings to leap - they can leap upward 1 pace per success on a Speed test, or forward 1 pace from a standstill (2 from running).  Leaping counts as a physical action in an exchange.

Additionally, Avalir can learn the Gliding skill, and can use it to, well, glide.  Obstacles and other mechanics can be found there, once I write them.  Other races can learn this skill as well, but need a gliding harness on which they must hang.

Hollow Bones

The Avalir body is light, quick, and agile - this, however, leaves them easily broken (yet no more difficult to outright kill).  Reduce the Superficial Wound of the Avalir by one.  An Avalir's maximum stats before bonuses are:  Perception B10, Will B9, Agility B9, Speed B9, Power B6, Forte B6.

Eagle Eyes

Avalir have exceptional sight, able to catch things at far distances.  (Note to self: look up the "Good Sight" Trait in Character Burner to have an idea about how this would play out.)  Between their fragile bodies and their good eyesight, Avalir prefer ranged weapons - reduce all range-related penalties by one for a missile wepaon in the Avalir's hands.

Perfect Pitch

Avalir have excellent singing voices, and good, strong ears as well.  They may call on this trait for any musical tests, and any tests involving the acuity of their hearing.
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2004, 06:50:20 AM »

Notes on Avalir Sight and Hearing

I've got the Character Burner with me now, and have finally remembered to look stuff up.  From Keen Hearing, they have "Ear for Voices" pretty much as written, and from Keen Sight they have something halfway between "Penetrating Gaze" and "Eagle Eyes" - reduce ALL vision-based penalties by one.

Notes on Wings

Wings make armor and clothing more difficult to wear and build.  Most simply, a set of clothes costs 2 Rp for an Avalir instead of one.  In addition, wings themselves resist being armored - and Avalir have found that there are only two choices.  The first, binding the wings beneath a coat of armor, is uncomfortable for many Avalir - subtract one die from all their activities while the wings are bound.  The latter - having a coat of armor made to handle their wings (which costs 1 extra Rp) - is more common, but it leaves the wings unarmored, and completely open for called shots.  Called shots to an Avalir's wings is a +2 Ob.

Beautiful

In addition to the above listed traits, all Avalir are considered beautiful - by far the most comely of the Five Races.  Avalir women are the most sought-after for harems, and Avalir men can generally cause heads to turn.  This can breed resentment and jealousy, however, and often does.  It doesn't help that Avalir are eternally young - they still age on the inside, but it never shows on their skin.  (In other words, keep using the human aging tables for stat penalties).

Vain

The downside of their beauty, Avalir are vain, sometimes insufferably so - this, plus their plumage, is what has earned them the derogatory name "peacocks."  For those who've read the books, this particular trait was partly inspired by Dr. Tachyon of the Wild Cards series.

Avalir Song-Magic

Everyone can use the same magic - Sorcery.  No abstractions, but spells.  I'm brainstorming the "making a spell" system, and do plan on posting a first draft soon.  But all the races have their own racial magic as well, and for Avalir, it's singing.

My initial thoughts on the matter are to have Avalir songs work similarly to Great Spider Web-Wyrding - in other words, a Training skill with its root in "Singing".  This gives the Avalir access to all the Abstractions, but the Avalir may never distill them, or "make" spells for others to use.

General Magic Notes

Oh yeah, I decided that there's no "Unwanted Summoning" in Hazaril, since there's no regular-summoning.  So, normal spellcasting's DOF is now:

1-2: Garbled Transmission
3-6: Harmless Dissipation

Abstract spellcasting's DOF is now:

1-2: Outright Tax
3-6: Harmless Dissipation

Finally

I would like to hear commentary from the "peanut gallery" (so to speak) before I go on.  Thank you, Luke, for encouraging me to come this far. :)
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2004, 08:28:53 AM »

This far? You've just taken the first step!

Honestly, I think that this process is more important than any other in BW setting generation. The characters are where the rubber meets road, creating unique races/species really evokes setting and influences play.

That said, you're on the right track. And the details you are adding are nice, but you don't need them yet. Try to do a rough sketch of all the bonuses/penalties and color (in a word or two) of the common traits of all the races. Then once you have everything mapped out on the page in front of you, you can got back and tweak and add more detail.

that's how i do it, but that's just me.

-L
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2004, 08:46:11 AM »

"This far" is still "more than nothing."  There's still a long way to go, and yes I'm at the beginning.  But that doesn't mean I haven't moved.  :)

And, btw, I totally agree.  Races/Species (and their Lifepaths!) are super-important for a game like BW, and even though I don't plan on much in the way of Racial lifepaths, linking them to humans apart from a sub-Setting, that alone tells a lot about the setting, no?

I'm not sure what you mean by a "rough sketch" though.  Could you give me an example - maybe the rough sketches you drew up for the wolves or something?  I'm more naturally drawn to taking one race, stabbing at it for a while, then wandering on to another, but I'm not averse to at least looking at other techniques to see what I missed.  

Of course, the Avalir are just at the forefront of my mind right now because I think that, of the Five Races, if I didn't play a human in Hazaril, I'd play an Avalir.  Not that it matters too much, since I'm running the game, but that's my motivation and I should at least be up-front about it.
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2004, 09:01:45 AM »

You're doing great! I hope my last post didn't sound harsh.

I just mean you should take it easy on yourself and do lists and shorthand for now, rather than your wonderful rationalizations and descriptions.

Here's an example (off the top of my head) using trolls:
Clawed   
if a troll has another character in a Lock and chooses to do damage (rather than increase the Lock) add +1 Power to the damage of the attack

Fanged   
on the Inside. +1 Power, VA –, Slow weapon.

Night Blooded   
Exposure to sunlight kills troll

Night-Eyed   
no penalty for darkness, +1 Ob in "bright light"

Massive Stature
 Minimum Power and Forte of 4. The maximum Power is 9 and Forte is 10. The maximum Agility and Speed is 5.

Stone’s Age   
A troll may not have a Perception or Will exponent higher than 6.

Tough   
Round up when factoring Mortal Wound.

Troll Skin   
   It provides 6D of DN 6 armor protection.

Voracious Carnivore   
Must eat a lot. Trolls are not picky so long as there is a lot of it.

This way you give yourself short lists you can compare to each other to make sure that each race is unique enough to justify its existence.

-L
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2004, 12:26:04 PM »

Lxndr trying the "short list" process:

Deneri (still very IN PROGRESS)
-----------
1. Albino - Being creatures of the night, the Deneri are not accustomed to the fires of the sun.  They are at +1Ob for all activities in bright light, and -1D for all activities in direct sunlight (cumulative).
2. Frail - The Deneri can ever go above B6 in their physical attributes, or B10 in their mental attributes.  Furthermore, Deneri may move any points from their base physical pool to their base mental pool (this does not apply to LP bonuses).
3. Starchildren - Deneri can survive unaided in the unfriendly ether beyond the sky.  In addition, being in the ether revitalizes them - do not count the years for certain LPs against aging.  Finally, they always know the position of the stars, giving them a perfect internal clock, as well as a bonus die to call on for Astrology.
4. Anosmia - For whatever reason, the Deneri cannot smell or taste anything.
5. Night-Eyes - The Deneri can see even in pitchest blackness, but are forever blind to colors.
6. Sixth Sense - Deneri have a fully-developed Sixth Sense, as per the Trait.
7. Night-Magic - Deneri can perform abstractions, but only in areas where the ether is strong (stronger at night than during the day, and stronger up higher than down low, come up with a table).  They add the strength of the local ether to their Will.
8. Suspicious - This works both ways - Deneri are naturally suspicious of everything, and everyone else suspects the Deneri.  Can be called upon for Stealthy tests.

Avalir
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1. Song-Magic - The racial magic of the Avalir shows up in songs
2. Wings - leaping, plus hang-gliding with the skill
3. Hollow Bones - Perception B10, Will B9, Agility B9, Speed B9, Power B6, Forte B6
4. Eagle Eyes - reduce all vision/distance penalties by one
5. Perfect Pitch - call-on for Singing, Mimicry, Music, etc., can always remember a voice and can recognize conversations over distances/noise
6. Beautiful - Avalir are pretty, and coveted by the other races, and are eternally young
7. Vain - Unfortunately, Avalir know they're pretty and coveted, and act it

Note:  Avalir men are generally dominant, and women submissive.

Vetal
-----------
1. Borne of Water - Vetal can move as easily in the water as on land, and can breathe water.  Switching from water to air takes time as expelling water from the lungs isn't easy (going from air to water is instantaneous).
2. Special Diet - Vetal do not have the proper enzymes to digest meat and get incredibly sick if they even try.
3. Sanguine - Vetal can perform blood magic (requiring the blood of different animals), and simply drinking blood keeps them young.
4. Craving - The other side of Sanguine, blood is addictive to Vetal (the more so because it makes them feel powerful), and the blood of the other Five Races being the strongest.
5. Twinlink* - Vetal are almost always born in pairs (and most of those pairs are opposite in gender).  These twins always share a mindlink - they know where they are across distances, can send thought and images, and feel each other's pain.
6. Lifeline - Vetal are strongly linked to life energy (blood and sap), and can sense it around them its the most general sense.  With training, they can even learn to manipulate their own life energy to communicate in a sort of Morse Code.  Call on for certain forms of Perception, and for medical skills.
7. Inscrutable - Really, it's just a personality trait.  Vetal can see the flows of life around them, and have a direct, constant peek into someone else's head.  Add that to their lifespan, and it's natural that they're a bit difficult to comprehend.

*Note:  Traits will be written for an elf with a dead twin, as well as elfs who were born in triplicate or more.

Tarrax
-----------
1. Sight of the Bat - Tarrax can sense their surroundings perfectly clearly in the dark, by right of their over-developed ears - anything that makes a sound, the dwarf can hear.  They also have the eyes of a bat - very poorly developed; all vision penalties are doubled.
2. Like a Rock - Tarrax have dense bodies - they may not go above Agility 7, Speed 6, Forte 10, Power 10.  Mental attributes are 8s.  They have the same speed multipliers as standard BW Dwarves.
3. Sinks like a Stone - Tarrax do not float - they are much, much denser than water and will always sink to the bottom.  Fortunately for them, they can hold their breath a long time (um, need BW drowning rules?)
4. Rock of Ages - Tarrax will not die of old age, but unlike Avalir, will show it.  They still age per the standard human aging table.  They are also very patient, and generally stoic, and sleep longer at night.
5. Unerring Compass - Tarrax know the lines of the Earth, and can always determine which way North lies.
6. Earthsculpting - Tarrax can move through natural soil and rock half as quickly as they can walk on the surface.  They may choose to leave a tunnel behind them, or may close it behind them.
7. Racial Magic - Something craft-related.  Specifics TBD, but generally speaking its their items/buildings that are imbued, not themselves.

*Note:  Tarrax men are traditionally craftsmen, and their women warriors.

Khan
------------------
1. Forged in Flame - Khannish bodies are strong and large - both Power and Forte may reach B10.  They are also taller than the rest of the Five Races.  Their skin is like steel - subtract one from the damage of any weapon (I,M,S).
2. Wildfire - Khannish bodies are quick - round up when calculating Reflexes.  They are also hyperactive and impulsive, and may call on this trait to add a die to perform the first action that pops into their heads.
3. Hungry Blaze - Khans are eternally hungry, fueling the machine that is their body.  They also sleep less - generally requiring no more than 4 hours a night.
4. Burning Eyes - Khannish eyes can see beyond what human eyes can, glimpsing the fire that burns within all things.
5. Blowing Smoke - Khannish noses are very sensitive, able to discern one individual from another by scent alone, and track as well as a wolfhound.  This is basically verbatim from "Wolf's Snout" of the Great Wolves.
6. Rage - The fire that defines the Khans is insidious, and burns inside them, occasionally overflowing in Rage.
7. Racial Magic - At first I was thinking some sort of physical adept type thing, but a recent thread at burningwheel.org is now making me seriously consider tantric magic.  Bah.
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2004, 05:18:54 PM »

FUCKING AWESOME MAN!

GOD DAMN, YOU DID IT!

Now you are really really on to something. Wait, all of these use the Stat Chart for men, right? If that's true, then you are 90% done!

What's more, rather than giving us your cool prose to drool over, you've moved more toward inspiring us and firing our imaginations. Less is more!

I would recommend whipping up a "short form" set of LPs for each "race." No more than 6 each. (You should be able to do 30 LPs in a night, easy).

But I would also like to warn against strictly "racial" LPs. LPs really are cultural (as I will soon show).

Rock on.
-L
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2004, 06:52:29 PM »

Yup, they all use the stat chart from men, and the lifepaths too apart from some sub-cultural things (and long before lifepaths and BW, I decided that each of the Five Races have certain subcultures, so a Racial sub-Setting is fitting).  Heck, originally I was going to have a two-part "Adolescent development" way back when this game was in Rolemaster - the first part the "racial subsection" and the second the "cultural subsection".  But lifepaths make it work so much better, and allow the two sections to interweave and collide.  So, yay!

My mom's just recently arrived in town, so I'm rather swamped tonight, but I'll do some work on their LPs tomorrow.

Do these races as written seem... well, "balanced" against each other, and against Man?  "Coherent"?  "Overpowered"? Any commentary on the parts that I wrote up that remain... well, unfilled?  (Khannish and Tarrax racial magic, mostly, but also the Vetal cravings).
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2004, 07:09:07 PM »

Quote
Do these races as written seem... well, "balanced" against each other, and against Man? "Coherent"? "Overpowered"?

Abzu stated somewhere that it wasn't his intention to "balance everything" in Character Burner, and i'm fine with this point of view, so you sould not be concerned about that. Anyway noone expect that different races should be balanced against each other, just look at humans/dwarfs/orcs/elfs.

But returning to your question note that Humans from CB do not have specific racial traits (as Dwarfs, Elfs and Orcs), so comparing them to your creations i would say rather overpowered, of course you can make them more coherent, by not giving them as much trait points as generic humans recieve for same lifepaths, but i think this would not be ok. Against each other defineatly coherent - of course some of them are more powerfull than others, but each of them have some unique flavor to it - and that is what really counts for me.

Dro
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2004, 06:22:02 AM »

Well, yeah, I put "balanced" in quotes for that very reason.  :)

Although I have "balanced" humans vs. the other races by declaring that, although they use the lifepaths for Men, they get half the Trait Points for any lifepath, always rounding down.  The benefit of Men are their versality, especially in large numbers.

I'm curious now, though - if you had to rank these five races in terms of "most powerful" to "least powerful", how would you do it and why?
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