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Monday, 16 June 2014

Creting a character for Barbarians of Lemuria in...I don't know how many, but they're easy steps!

So, I decide to go for a BoL character. And I've decided to make him a hero who can live up to the fluff of being a young Elric.
Why Elric? Because there's always enough people to play the pure swordslingers.
His name is Ashoka, I decide.
So I go and read the setting, then come up with the following. I've decided I want someone with a specialised skill in some weapon.

Malakuti golden lotus
Makes the best entertainment,
Malakuti wavey spears
Claim the most lives,
Malakuti night thieves
Bring you valued treaties,
Alchemy can make you immortal
If you survive the learning.
I am the Malakuti Alchemist!
That was the tl;dr version of his bio, actually.

Western's a province, but call anyone from there a country bumpkin, and you risk losing more than your teeth. Still, it's a place where men go to trade with the natives for herbs and drugs that are expensive elsewhere. You sail them to Malakut by boat on the small rivers, then North-East by boat towards the buyers. And if you try a bit of your own medicine? Eh, who cares, really... there's lots of it.
Ashoka is an alchemist born in Western Malakut. He learned to chew on the Lotus there, before going to the city to study his trade. Sure, he's also a thief, and can take care of a wound in a pinch, and other stuff... he even went on for a brief turn in the city watch, after finally getting in the city proper, long enough to learn some tricks with the spear. There, an older mercenary taught him the secret of combat.
The most important thing in a fight is to not get hit. He was an apt pupil and absorbed these teachings, too.
But his real love is alchemy. Some say he actually loves it too much, especially the potions...
Now, he is trying to set up his greatest invention. He's hunting for ingredients to go towards the creation of the ultimate elixir, one that might grant him immortality. Or so he hopes.
Too bad people that have such ingredients don't part with them willingly. Ah well, did we mention he's a thief, too?
Because he really is, and some people are soon going to find that out! 

Well, that's for those that aren't afraid to do a bit of reading.

So, let's proceed with the stats.
I picture him as the mean, lean and not-burdened by muscles archetype. He's also smart, but not really wholesome. And all those years of training with the spear of Malakut should have thaught him speed...
  • STR 0
  • AG 3
  • MIND 2
  • APP -1
He's all about not getting hit. Not weaker than usual, just nothing particular, when it comes to hitting other people.
Besides, I hit people with Ag+3. Speed is useful both in getting hit and in not getting hit. The edition of BoL I was using says you can put up to 4 points in a single place, so I'm not even min-maxing him as much as I could... remember: a 4/1 spread would have been cheaper to raise to 4/2 (due to non-linear XP costs). But I see him as starting with pretty even in the things he's good at.
Next, Boons and Flaws.
I decide he gets special skill in:
Malakut fighting spear and Blind combat
And he's got special Thieves' tools because remember how he started?

Of course, I've got to pay for these. I need flaws. Luckily, some of them are just so Elric-like!
Addict (Golden/Black Lotus-left to the GM to choose)

He's an addict to Lotus powder, though, and Delicate means just that. So, he gets less Lifeblood, starting with 8, less than a normal BoL character.Well, it's only proving his point about avoiding getting hit! So, his skills....
  • BRAWL 0
  • MELEE 0
  • RANGED 0
Since only Defence is subtracted from the enemies' attack, it makes sense to ramp it up. And he's now better in defence than in attack (+3 on attack with Dexterity, +4 on Defence). Perfect!
And anyone with less than +3 on attack needs an 11 or more on 2d6 to hit me. Minions can't hit me unless they get a 12, and that's a critical anyway. I decide to keep a couple Hero points to downgrade their criticals into normal strikes, and to leave the heavy hitters to the more brawny barbarians.

I get 5 hero points for attributes and all that, though. That should be enough, as long as I keep a couple spare ones in case it goes bad.

Thief 1, because he started stealing treatises.
Soldier 0, because following orders isn't his style...but he figured he ought to do his duty. And the soldiers got a special training in the Malakut spears.
Alchemist 3, because he discovered an apptitude towards the things he was reading about in treatises and such.
Physician 0

Weapons and armour are standard:
  • Malakut fighting spear (roll 1 die more, keep best) d6
  • Walking staff d6-1
  • 3 throwing daggers d3
  • Close-combat curved knife d6-2 (if the GM lets me have this one, otherwise, just a d3)
  • Fists d2 I don't like using them...
  • Very light armour d3-1

And then we get to the bonus of Alchemy. Because an alchemist gets to prepare beforehand.
I choose to make a Common preparation:

A painkiller (1d3 LB restored)

And then I also make an Uncommon preparation:
Malakut spear hidden in a walking staff
Of course, I'd only take it out against a real enemy, or as a way to show-off. But with it, I roll 3d6, take the highest two...and my enemies are much more likely to suffer a Critical. Criticals are nasty in this system.
And with that, Ashoka is ready to go adventuring. I hope to see other PCs with similar level of ability. I mean, this is a system where you can be rolling 2d6 and hitting a minion on anything that's not a 2 (Ashoka would be getting hit on 7+, but that's Ashoka Not My Face I'm Not Fit For Such Games). And you could be rolling a 3d6, take highest 2, effectively giving you a 0.5% odds to miss a minion (like, a normal soldier). Or, if you want a more sensible approach, you could be hitting them with 4+ on 3d6 take highest 2, but the minions only hit you on a 11 or 12.
Think about this-you could be Conan from the get-go, slaying enemies left and right. It is really a Swords and Sorcery game!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tonight's update...

Tonight's update is going to be short.
Finished watching the Watchmen. Need to think about it. But it was all about the different ways of looking at the world.


Dr. Manhattan sees a world where life has no meaning apart from the interaction of atoms and the improbabilities that still happen, no matter how unlikely. Except when he's depressed, in which case, these don't seem as important.
The Owl sees a world pretty much like a normal human. Well, that's in case said normal human has been fighting for so long he can no longer stop fighting and still be a person, but that's not such an uncommon state of mind, as history shows.
Rorschach sees a world in black and white where only other people can be locked in with him.
Ozymandias sees a wolrd that's better off lied to, because the truth propels it to self-destruction. So he creates a common enemy because we unite against this.
The female superheroines, mother and daughter alike, were playing The Normal Ones, because otherwise, we'd have a Sin City episode instead of The Watchmen. Sometimes, when watching Sin City, there isn't a single normal person on screen for too long.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Fairy Tales As Women Tales: Which Are The Modern Ones?

I got a link recently to this post.
Read it before you continue or half my post wouldn't make sense-or more.
Did you do that? Good. I read it myself, of course.
Of course, me being me, I set myself to analyse it as thoroughly as I could in order to get the most information on what the First Edition was like. And then I was reminded of this post. (Sorry, link -time today, read it).

Why? Because the tales, as written in the First Edition of Brother Grimm's Tales, were pop-fantasy in its purest form. Popular fantasy by popular demand... including women at the time and what they dreamed (and dreaded) for.
So it had sex, almost all consensual, and it had violence, but not mindless violence for violence's sake (although the standard for what is worth killing for was slightly different back then-more relaxed, one might say). But still, these were pretty normal characters for those people - probably mostly women, yeah - that were telling the stories.
Oh, and there was magic and superpowers. And it was probably a "tale of the day" format.
By now you might have guessed my answer to the question in this post's title. The modern-day scions of the fairy tales are the urban fantasy stories. Especially if they're series.
Dresden Files, Lost Girl, Vampire Diaries, all the Ann Rice books... and yes, Anita Blake and Fifty Shades of Whatever (there are probably enough imitations with similar titles that you can pick whatever). They feature pretty normal people that deal with the same everyday issues. And they have magic at their disposal, or against them, because many readers find magic fun.
Please note, I'm not debating which of these series actually have good or at least decent story, characters, or whatever... it's besides the point. What I'm saying is that they're filling the same niche.
The problem, and it is a problem, is when people react like the Grimms:
"Eww, sex in my gross!"
Really? Is that the best we can do? One would think sexuality should be accepted as one of the primary motivators of humanity's behaviour by now! So why should it be kept out of the stories? (And yes, it can be used poorly. Everything can. If we avoided stuff because it can be misused, we should stop telling stories right now!)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

How to make a good LotW character?

I realises recently a lot of people are having issues with character generation in some of my favourite Wuxia systems. Which is a shame, because both Legend of the Wulin and Weapons of the Gods are great!
I actually like the WotG setting marginally better, but it's still a very close call. And I'm going to talk about the LotW chargen now.

So, let's just follow the steps on p.15 and the next few. I'll make another character as we go, for the sake of example.

Step 1: Concept.
A female xía character who fights to improve the lot of women in Shen Zhou would be nice. (And to insert a touch of reality, she has learned how to use the advantages of women when it comes to violence, and her teachers taught her to negate the female weaknesses...much like a male character would have to do, too).

Step 2: Rank:
Starting rank is Fourth Rank. Lake 7, River 2, Chi Replenishment 2, maximum Chi Aura
2, and a maximum Skill Bonus of +10.

Step 3: Archetype
She's bucking all the expected roles. I pick Warrior, as that's the least likely in Shen Zhou. Therefore, she starts with Hardiness, and begins play with Secret Arts of the Warrior.
(That's going to be fun. Just believe me).

Step 4: Skills
I've got 20 points to spend.
• Confidence 5, because she's got to be confident. And because she's got to have some defence against Courtiers.
• Finesse 10
• Hardiness 10, Chi Breath, Injuries
• Might 5 - years of training, people. When everybody is assuming your might is weak, you'd better learn to us it...I'd put 10 on it, but Finesse is more useful, and I want Stealth, too.
• Perform, Politics - not at the start.
• Stealth 5
• Tactics 10

Step 5: Virtues
Well, what do I see her striving towards? I want to give higher ratings to these, in order to get more Joss and Entanglement from them, whenever I get a Deed.
She's trying to improve the lot of women. 
Benevolence (Kuan) 4

She's efficient, not bloodthirsty. Yet she wants to prove her strength, but not by killing, and wouldn't mind proving it without having to beat anyone.
Ferocity (Bao) 1
Force (Ba) 4
She's also quite selfless, as I see here.
Individualism (Si) 2
Honor is a strong point. She is trying to persuade people to make the lot of half the people in the setting, remember? So she would try to push for laws at some point.
Honor (Xin) 4
She's not obsessively pursuing things, though.
Obsession (Chan) 1
However, she is supremely loyal!
Loyalty (Zhong) 4
Revenge is another "bloodthirsty" Corrupt Virtue. We leave it down.
Revenge (Chou) 1
I can see her dealing with law-breakers, but that's not her main goal. And I haven't got more points anyway.
Righteousness (Yi) 3
Well, that's easy. We said she's not ruthless. And pursuing the goal of "better fare for the women in Shen Zhou" "at the expense of others"...well, let's say I don't want a MRA stereotype, mmmkay?
Ruthlessness (Hen) 1

Step 6: Disadvantages
None. I'll pick some in play, or from Loresheets, in order to be sure they'd come up.

Step 7: Kung-fu
External: Subtle force. She's into ending it with minimum casualties...and just as importantly, this is a style that fits very well with Secret Arts of the Warrior!
Her Internal is, of course, Fox-Spirit Song! The most neglected style I know...with no good reason.
Which also means she starts with 11 Normal Chi so far.

Step 8: Final Touches
...I want Flexible, but it's not useful with Subtle Force. So she will take a sword, because classics. And she can always revert to Unarmed.

Step 9: Additional Destiny (and Entanglement)
I've got 20 more Destiny. That's easy: I go to my External first. I take Correct Approach and Heart-Cutting Strike for a total of 4 Destiny. I can inflict temporary injuries with my attacks, even with the sword.And I can stab you in the meridians to inflict a Disrupt Marvel, using my Attack roll.
Then I go to Secret Arts. I get Secret Art of Battle.
I get immediately Unassailable Battle Saint Technique, and Controlling Outer Force, for another 8 points. What this means is that, A) I can start with a Fire combat approach that gives me a +10 Action bonus, and B) If I succeed critically on a roll to inflict a Disrupt marvel, I can Flood a die to increase the penalty to -10. Now, check my External again?
Yeah, she can do that with her Strike. Good luck defending that!
I've got 8 Destiny left.

Next, Internals! I get Fox Leaves No Tracks for free, because the first technique was given when we choosed the Internal in Step 7.
I also get  Mirthful Fox Plays With Her Shadow and Parting the Grass for 4 points without a second thought. One of them gives me a Dodge bonus, and the other one gives me a Laughs at and Fears bonus on my attack. Granted, it's just a +10 bonus (usable for Disrupts!), but more importantly...
It denies the enemy any chance to use a Laughs at in this defence (Subtle Hand has no Fears)! Oh, and it means it stacks with other Internal Strike boosters. Which is very good, because normally, you only take the highest Internal modifier.
Also, normally Subtle Hand can't get a Laughs At bonus at all (the price for having no Fears). Internal techniques disregard that, though...

After some consideration, I decide to go for a Formless technique instead, and take a - you got it - a level 4 Strike Booster!
Now, if I feel confident, I can activate all my attack techniques, and I'd get a +20 total attack, while the defence can't get Laughs At and Fears bonuses. My total Strike is +45 in this case, after accounting for the Combat approach.
Not bad, given that I'd have the same if I had joined the Small Forest sect, too. Granted, it would have been cheaper in Chi, but within 3 Destiny, I can get another Technique, and become more efficient in picking whether to use any Internals. Then I can get a 4th-level technique that adds a +20 to my Disrupt and Disorient attempts. Somewhere along the way I should pick Disrupting Inner Force, in order to screw up Secret Artists that try to use Quickwork. And there are other Secret Warrior Techniques, too - one of them allows me to transfer my Combat Approach on an ally (useful if the ally was going to have a duel). And one of the most important parts of LotW is to have everyone in the party be a Secret Artist that gives you Action Bonuses and Chi Breath for the times when it really matters (Predictionists rule, since they can also stack your enemies with penalties, before even meeting them - no wonder they need to expend Joss at that).
Oh, and the best news? All 20 Destiny goes towards my Cultivation, raising my Chi.
I've got now 12 Chi.

Well, I buy the Loresheet for The Resplendent Phoenix Society for 3 Destiny. I spend another 3 Destiny on Status (Deeds would no doubt raise that). And I get a discount tor Daoist Sexual Techniques, which I'm planning to put to good use later - but I'm not getting it yet. When she has a partner that needs help with his or her Cultivation, she could learn it, though. (I haven't decided on her orientation yet, but I'm leaning towards hetero-Lesbian Stripper Ninja are overdone! And it would reinforce the theme that she doesn't hate men, she just wants the women that aren't Xia to be treated better!)
I could get Sun-Draining Talons, because it's a nice complement to my Unarmed combat, should I ever need to use it. But the truth is, I want to use other Loresheets!
Then I go to the Loresheet I was inspired by. The Woman's life, and "The Three Solutions", of course!
I get the Warrior's solution. She's the successor of the green-eyed daughter!
In practical terms, it means I get a +10 bonus to make people I have fought smitten with me after the fight. She's not a Courtier all right... but fighting her tends to make people well-disposed towards her!

I also decide she has 3 Corrupt Joss, because I'd expect her to gain Virtuous Joss more easily.

She's done, and ready to kick ass for greater equality!