Monday, September 1, 2014

Answers to some of your questions concerningmy BX Psionics System andMystic Class

After my post yesterday, many of you had some good questions that you shared via comments on a couple of different G+ posts. So I've decided to address them here, today, so everyone can see the answers (and the questions).

What about the crown chakra?
I really debated this during the development of my chakra-discipline concept. My feeling was that the first six chakras coincided rather seamlessly with the 6 established psionic disciplines. I have not included the crown as of this moment, but here's my general thinking regarding the 7th (crown) chakra... the powers granted through knowledge of the 7th chakra will be part and parcel of the pathway to becoming immortal (and therefore, are not accessible by most mortal creatures). Will I ever flesh out this "immortal pathway for mystics"? Shakes Magic 8-ball... "Ask again later." For now, it will likely be a reference to the idea and concept of a 7th (crown) chakra, but without mechanics.

Will it support wild psionics?
They way I see it, any system will support wild psionics, because they're wild (and, therefore, outside the context of standard rules). The real question is, "Should it support wild psionics?" My simple answer to that question is, "No, because it goes against the simplicity that I love about BX D&D." To me, wild psionics are like feats and player options... if I wanted them, I'd use 2e. Now, that being said, there will likely be an appendix for determining wild psionic abilities, because I think a lot of DMs would like to include them. Besides, how much space could it take to say, "If your INT and WIS are this, and your class is this, and you roll this on table I, then roll on table II and... BAM! You've got a wild psionic power."

Where does it fit, powerwise between 1st (wild and all over the place) and 2nd edition (too few points to accomplish much of anything compared to even low level casters)?
This is where I think I've really hit the sweet spot... a nice balance between the two. Mystics gain abilities over time (like spellcasters), accessing different types and grades of abilities as they grow in experience level. The Psionic Strength Point (PSP) cost for powers are much more "value-oriented" than 2e (meaning, the PSP costs are generally more reasonable, there are little-to-no "maintenance" costs, and the duration of many of the abilities are more akin to Oe and 1e than the terribly stripped back 2e versions). The real key to the system is the determination of PSPs, which is treated similarly to determining hit points (with the die being used determined by the mystic's WIS score)—a mechanic which is generally more liberal with PSPs than 2e, unless you have a really low WIS score (in which case you have no business choosing to be a mystic anyway).

And now answers to a couple of questions you haven't asked yet, but are bound to...

Why is Mental Class (MC) based on Intelligence rather than Wisdom?
In some contexts, I could definitely see Wisdom related to concepts like Willpower, and using WIS to determine MC might make sense. However, I began by looking deeply at why saving throws vs. psionic attacks in Oe/1e were based on Intelligence*. My take on this is that the concept of "awareness" is related to Intelligence (the ability to "note" things, to me, is a function of knowledge... "knowing what"; this is "reactive" function related to comprehension). Wisdom, by comparison, is more a function of "knowing why" (a "proactive" function which relates to focus and devotion). So in the case of noting a mental attack, it is more important to know "what" (i.e., "an attack") and be reactive, then to know "why" ("because the person attacking you has psionic ability") and be proactive. Therefore, in this system, INT affects defense (reaction) against mental attacks, while WIS affects accuracy and damage (proaction) with mental attacks. (I well expect that many of you will see these two concepts as exactly opposite the way I see them.)

* It's worthy to note the first appearance of the Intelligence-based psionic saving throw dates to the introduction of the Mind Flayer in Strategic Review #1 in the Spring of 1975; this is approximately the same time the mystic class was suggested to EGG by Steve Marsh for the inclusion in Blackmoor; the mystic was ultimately not included in Blackmoor, and psionics was made available to "everyone" except elves in Eldritch Wizardry; I have no confirmation the INT-based save came from Mr. Marsh, and instead assume it was EGG's invention; but I will look for some clarification on this from Mr. Marsh. in the near future.

How can the psionic combat system be "optional"?
Simple. Steve Marsh's original mystic class didn't have psionic combat (just psionic abilities; they were akin to sub-continental Indian cleric). Gary Gygax was working on the "devines" in order to have a psionic combat class. Tim Kask cut and pasted the two into one big kludgey system for Eldritch Wizardry. So... you can obviously have psionic abilities without needing psionic combat... UNLESS you're coming up against psionic monsters (especially psionic monsters from other editions that have psionic attack and defense modes), THEN you need psionic combat. The system I've developed for psionic combat is much simplified from 1e (and more akin to 2e), but easily allows DMs to take existing psionic monsters and use them in a BX game. (This is one of those little things I'm very proud of... a "conversion" system to port monsters in from Oe and 1e.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

BX Psionics Update

I've been plugging along steadily with my BX mystic class and psionics system (along with a ton of other gaming projects and diversions). But, as of this morning, I'm feeling particularly accomplished. I just finished writing the fifth section of the psionic disciplines.

Since I've tried to go back to Steve Marsh's original concept for psionics (mental abilities based on a character class inspired by Indian mystics), the different groups of disciplines (which Steve Winter did a great job of breaking out in 2e's Complete Psionics Handbook) into 6 different chakras (a concept which, IIUC, Steve Marsh originally intended before Tim Kask hacked up the concept in Eldritch Wizardry).

From an email I received from Steve Marsh: "Major powers correspond to the chachras and the traditional powers so that each character had a consistent core."

This led me to attempt to define the disciplines by chakra (my preferred spelling). All chakras are not open to the first level mystic. New chakras are accessed as the mystic attains new experience levels. (This concept will likely seem familiar to those with knowledge of the 2e psionicist.)

The six chakras I've defined (based on metaphysical teachings,
and hopefully true to SM's ideas) correspond pretty well to the 2e groupings...

1. The Root (Psychometabolic) Chakra provides the mystic power over his or her own body, granting control over its physical aspects.

2. The Sacral (Clairsentient) Chakra connects the mystic to knowledge and information, including the past, present, and future.

3. The Plexus (Psychokinetic) Chakra supplies the mystic with dominion over different forms of matter, including its movement and its state of being.

4. The Heart (Telepathic) Chakra provides the mystic the abilities of communication and thought, including control over emotions and desires.

5. The Throat (Psychoportative) Chakra permits the mystic to access other dimensions and allows the mystic to travel through space and time.

6. The Third Eye (Metapsionic) Chakra is accessible only by a mystic who has accessed the the other five. This chakra is interdisciplinary, and allows the mystic to combine the powers and energies of the other chakras.

As of this morning, I finished the fifth group of disciplines (throat/psychoportative). That means the following sections are complete: 1) the mystic class, 2) the first five groups of disciplines, and 3) the "optional" psionic combat system.

So what's left to write? 1) the third eye/metapsionic disciplines, 2) BX stats for psionic monsters (including the psionic creatures I've written for the Creature Compendium), 3) a "Planar Primer", 4) the "Planar Travel Guide" (planar travel and adventure is HUGE part of Steve Marsh's original concept for the mystic class), and 5) a section on creation and use of astras (supernatural weapons and artifacts related to specific deities, which I see as part of extra-planar adventuring).

The book is likely to come in at 40 pages (plus cover), and I feel like I'm about 80% of the way there with the content (even if that leaves a BUNCH of illustrations to do).

No target on publication, but I imagine I'll start reaching out for some playtesting in the next few weeks. Updates to follow.

(BTW, before you ask about the Creature Compendium... I'm close. Just a few more illustrations to finish up. I just haven't had the time to concentrate on them.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why my 10% OFF sale is better than Lulu's 20% OFF sale!

Below is a comparison of the pricing for single titles at the NBD Storefront vs. Lulu. I'm also including Lulu's 20% off discount for the Labor Day weekend, and the 10% off discount at the NBD Storefront for the Labor Day weekend (w/ the code LD2014 at checkout).

Title Standard
Lulu Price
Lulu Price
w/ 20% Discount
NBD Price
NBD Price
w/ 10% Discount
d30 DM Companion $9.95 $7.96 $7.95 $7.15!
d30 Sandbox Companion $11.95 $9.56 $9.95 $8.95!
Valley of the Five Fires $11.95 $9.56 $9.95 $8.95!
Ogress of Anubis $5.95 $4.76 $4.95 $4.45!

And if you buy products in bundles from the New Big Dragon Square Storefront, you'll save even more! Now, consider that Lulu doesn't sell print copies of the Dragon Horde zine, and that anyone who orders from the New Big Dragon Square Storefront this weekend also gets a free sheet of Order of the d30 stickers, it's a win-win-win! (My apologies to buyers outside the U.S., you'll have to buy through Lulu, as my storefront does not yet offer international shipping... but I hope to soon!)

d30 Feature of the Week: Statue Generator (2 Parts!!)

I'm trying to get back in the swing of regular d30 Friday posts. I've just been swamped with work lately, and it's really jacking with my schedule. So I'm trying to make up for my d30 slacking with today's 2-parter (separate downloads for each part; scroll down to see them).

Click here to download a free PDF of d30 Statue Generator, Part 1 page from MediaFire.

Click here to download a free PDF of d30 Statue Generator, Part 2 page from MediaFire.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New BX/LL Character Class: Siamangs
("Type B" Intelligent Animal")

Given everyone's interest in the ape classes I did a couple of weeks ago, and given that I could see an entire game world using nothing but ape classes, I decided to fill out the classes. I've decided to add siamangs and bonobos. While siamangs are (arguably) just gibbons, and bonobos are a chimp variant, they are each different enough from their related standard types, that some break them out classification-wise. Today is the siamang, and if I get my crap together for tomorrow, you should see the bonobo then.


Level Title Exp. Points Hit Dice
1 Siamang Medium 0 1d4
2 Siamang Seer 3,000 2d4
3 Siamang Conjurer/ess 6,000 3d4
4 Siamang Magician 12,000 4d4
5 Siamang Enchanter/ress 25,000 5d4
6 Siamang Warlock/Witch 50,000 6d4
7 Siamang Sorcerer/ess 100,000 7d4
8 Siamang Necromancer 200,000 8d4
8 Siamang Wizard/ess 300,000 9d4
8 10th Level Siamang Wizard/ess 400,000 9d4+1*
* Constitution adjustments no longer apply

Siamangs are larger species of gibbon, different enough from gibbons to be classified separately. Several features make them distinctly different from standard gibbons. First, siamangs are often twice the size of standard gibbons, having longer, denser shaggy hair, often quite dark in color. Second, the first two digits of each of a siamang’s feet feature a thin connecting membrane. Finally, siamangs have a gular sac, a large throat pouch that can be inflated to the size of its head. This gular sac enables the siamang to make loud, resonating calls and songs. It is this sac (through these powerful calls and songs) that enables them to be quite capable spellcasters.

The prime requisite for an siamang is Intelligence. Siamangs with an Intellgigence score of 13 or greater will gain a +10% bonus to earned experience points.

RESTRICTIONS: Siamangs determine their hit points using four-sided dice (d4). They may advance to a maximum of 10th level of experience. Siamangs are prohibited from wearing any type of armor or using a shield, and may only use a dagger as a weapon.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Siamangs fight and save as magic-users of the same level, and may use the same magic items permitted to magic users. Siamangs also use spells as a magic-user of the same level and are able to climb trees as a thief of the same level. Like other apes, siamangs are able to swing through trees at a rate equal to their standard movement, and may hang from trees by their arms and use their feet attack and defend with -1 “to hit” and +1 AC penalties (respectively). In addition to common, Siamangs speak the language of apes, and use the sign language understood by apes, but are able to use the sign language “dialect” of gibbons.

Beginning at 9th level, siamangs gain the ability to create magic items (as a magic-user).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Productivity and the
Bottomless Cavern of the Infinite Commute

I've often been asked by a couple of folks how I continue to produce so much gaming output. And while I usually answer with a fairly stock answer (which I wholeheartedly believed was the reason), I got a great big confirmation on it this week. My stock answer is this... I have the HUGE benefit of working from home. First off, that means the same computer with my work-work is also the enabler of my gaming stuff, so I can bounce back and forth at will from work files to gaming files. More importantly, my commute is officially the 27 steps from my bedroom to the chair in my office (ironically, it is also 27 steps from my chair to the coffee maker in the kitchen; I counted).

My wife gets up early and usually leaves the house by 7 a.m. (she's a teacher and assistant principal). I try to fix her breakfast and pack her lunch every day. That means I'm usually ready to get my day started about 7 a.m. I don't really need to get cracking on work stuff most days until 8:30 or 9. That pretty much means while you're commuting, I'm working on game stuff. And if it's a slow work day, I don't have to look busy until I clock out at 5. I can hop over to one of about a dozen things that are currently occupying my time, and work on those. Now consider I only need about 6 hours a night of sleep (more than that, I'm sleepy during the day) and my wife is usually in bed by 8:30. That leaves me time from about 8:30 to midnight to do... whatever.

For the last couple of days, I've been on a photo shoot for a client. Today, the drive from my house to the photographer's studio was about 45 minutes, and the drive home was about the same. Yesterday, I missed a turn because of traffic and the drive to the studio was nearly an hour, and the drive home was almost as bad. In the days of the job I had just before I went back to work for myself (I have worked from home during 2 different distinct career periods), the office I shared with my 2 business partners was near the same part of town as the photographer's studio. It wasn't as far away as the studio, but, at the time, there were massive amounts of road construction near our office (they were installing a new rail line). So even though the office was technically closer, it still took at least 45 minutes each day... each day. Considering a 5-day week, that's 8 hours a week (or more) in traffic. That's a full day's work!!! Plus, take part in a Dallas-area commute any day and you will find yourself mentally drained. The last thing you'll want to do when you get home is to keep working... on anything! Because of this photo shoot, my sum gaming production total for the last two days has been 5 one-sentence-long descriptions for some magic items I intend for the next Dragon Horde zine. I'm just glad I only have one of these photo-shoots every year.

Tomorrow my schedule should get back normal.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time is Running Out: Win Dead Tree Copies of the
d30 Sandbox Companion and d30 DM Companion

d30 Dead Tree Giveaway
Time is running on on the New Big Dragon/Tenkar's Tavern GenCon Jet Lag Giveaway.
Get the details on your chance to win print copies of the d30 Sandbox Companion or d30 DM Companion over here...

d30 Sandbox Companion Flash Sale
And until tomorrow (Tuesday) night at midnight CST,
the d30 Sandbox Companion .PDF is 33% OFF at RPGNow.