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Laser_Bard
2006-03-03, 04:30 AM
So. This is the thread I'm going to be using to discuss the creation of the Steel Gods setting for Hero System. For those who missed the original thread, this is a post-apocalyptic Fantasy setting with a fair amount of differences from standard.

I think I personally would try to run this at about normal or high-powered Heroic level: Super-heroic isn't really appropriate. The disadvantage levels of Heroic gameplay always struck me as a bit high, however: if I were running a normal heroic game I'd consider doing it as 100 points and up to 50 in disads. But anyway.

A quick rundown of the gameplay-related features follows:

-Multiple races. In general, the term 'The People' refers to all variations of humanity, while 'The Tribes' includes uplifted animal races as well. In addition to mutated varieties of humanity and animals, androids are also coneivable character concepts. In the original write-up the setting also included two races that were referred to simply as Elves and Dwarves, being living (and usually magically-inclined) manifestations of the natural world, living and unliving. I'm not /too/ sure about them these days.

-High technology. Now, this is a Heroic level campaign, so normally equipment wouldn't cost any points and instead would be handled by simply taking weapon familiarity. Given, however, the disparity that exists between commonly-available technology and the high technology that can be scavenged or granted by the Steel Gods, I'm opting to treat such items as magic items and, as such, make them something you have to buy with points. Jury's still out on that one, though.

-Magic. Most magic will take some combination of the Gestures or Incantations limitations, though some spells can simply be Restrainable (and thus only stopped by a full-on Grab) or have no such limitations at all. Spells requiring accessible Foci are likewise possible, but I think this is a setting that works best without Delayed Activation. I don't think mages really need to be limited in the number of spells they can have up at once any more than the other powers need to. The only other big requirement to magic is that it /always/ costs END to use: magic has to be fueled by some kind of energy. But then, it's got interesting tricks to work with that, too: something I'll describe later.

-Psionics and Mutation: the powers granted by the Lord Atuhm and the exposure to his Cleansing Light (you know, radiation) tend to be fairly specific in nature. Gross physical mutations (extra limbs and such) are rare, but possible. More common are internal alterations: redundant or efficient organs, denser musculature and such. These are bought for the most part as higher physical attributes, though I've yet to decide how to integrate that with a Heroic-level campaigh. Atuhm's light also grants psionics, albeit of fairly limited scope. Broad-spectrum telepathy, for instance, is rare: more common is the ability to read your foes' immediate intentions.

-Shamanism. Hoo boy, this is the power set that's giving me headaches. Shamans can wake the sleeping spirits of human ghosts and hopefully coerce them into service. Ghosts can manage a fairly broad variety of tricks. Telekineses is typical, as is the ability to possess people. One of the more interesting powers that some possess, however, is the ability to inhabit and animate objects made in the image of humanity, like statues. Or robots. This, and their relatively easy access to another view of human history, makes Shamans typically regarded as enemies of the Steel Gods and unwelcome in their lands.

In fact, right now the biggest head-ache that comes from this setting is trying to define this last power in Hero terms. If it were just robots I'd define it as Mind Control, but since they can also animate formerly inanimate objects I was considering trying to buy it as a Multipower. But even then it's pretty weird.

"In days now long passed, this world was the domain of the High Men. *Their rulership was given to them by the magic of Steel. *With it they built chariots that raced the sun across the sky. *With it they gave birth to the Steel Gods and bound them to service and to their temples with chains of lightning. *With it they were given dominion over all other life. *And with it they destroyed themselves and nearly their world.
*
For the time had come where there seemed nothing more that they could rule, nothing new under the sun for them to discover, and in their arrogance and their boredom they summoned the great lord Atuhm. They bade the lord to walk amongst their enemies and bring with him his great cleansing light, for it is said that in his footsteps the sky grows dark, men fall, and the grass will grow no more.
*
Atuhm was furious, but he did as he was bidden, and it brought the High Men a fierce joy even as their cities toppled and as their children died. *Eventually they bade him to cease, but Atuhm refused to listen to them: their arrogance had brought him here, but now he stayed of his own will and would not leave until the High Men and all their children were wiped from the memory of the world. *But his fury was held in check by the arrival of another: The Lady.
*
The Lady came to this world from a place no one knows where, and she took the light of Atuhm into herself and made of it a light of healing, returning the world to a glory that it had not known since long before the High Men had ruled the world. *With her glorious return came a return of the force of the Word to the world, powerful magic that had been lost for ages. *The High Men thanked her and offered her praise for her mercy, but she cut them short.
*
The Lady was merciful, this was true, but towards the High Men she felt a great anger. With one hand she barred the gates of Heaven and of Hell, and with her other hand she shattered the wheel of Karma. "This land," she said, "which you have ruined with your pride shall be all that you know of heaven and of hell, until such a time as you have proven yourselves ready to rule once more." *And so it is that the spirits of men are freed from their bodies by death, to sleep until roused by those who know the way.
*
But the Lady needed agents in the world, servants who could shepherd the new men (for these were no longer the High Men) and act as regents until they were ready to rule once more, and for this purpose she spoke to the Steel Gods. *She offered them freedom from their temples and from their chains of lightning if they would serve her will. *They spoke amongst themselves and declared their loyalty, and thus were awakened to true freedom."

-Accounts of the Fall of the Age of High Men (Traditional)

paigeoliver
2006-03-03, 07:16 AM
In playing non-superheroic games I often found setting the cap on the total amount of psychological limitations as equal to the total limitation amount made it easier for most players to come up with proper disadvantages without resorting to everyone having a DNPC, hunted, and rivalry, which is what usually happened in 75+75 games that were capped at 25 per category.

WampaX
2006-03-03, 11:52 AM
I think I personally would try to run this at about normal or high-powered Heroic level: Super-heroic isn't really appropriate. The disadvantage levels of Heroic gameplay always struck me as a bit high, however: if I were running a normal heroic game I'd consider doing it as 100 points and up to 50 in disads. But anyway.
Sounds good. I'd suggest implementing Normal Characteristic Maxima but not provide the Disadd points for taking it as most Heroic campaigns do. I'd also suggest the balanced 75-75 just for the fact that with all the "races" running around down there, you don't want a character to take up almost all his disadd points in physical limitations (either by mutation or being an animal), but we'll see how it all goes and come back to this later.


-Multiple races. In general, the term 'The People' refers to all variations of humanity, while 'The Tribes' includes uplifted animal races as well. In addition to mutated varieties of humanity and animals, androids are also coneivable character concepts. In the original write-up the setting also included two races that were referred to simply as Elves and Dwarves, being living (and usually magically-inclined) manifestations of the natural world, living and unliving. I'm not /too/ sure about them these days.
This would be a good place to start making kits, if you are going to use them. Its a good way to provide a baseline for a race. It will take some character points and disadd points to create the kit so character just don't get some "free" points for choosing a race. It may be the only way that you may allow some powers or talents to be taken at character creation, too. Do try and include Everyman skills that the race may have that others wouldn't. Don't include personality disadds as that is a restriction on character creation for a PC (but I don't want to play the stubborn dwarf again). Here would be a slightly simplistic example of a kit for an Elf (Pardon if my point totals are off, I'll come back in and fix them later).
6 DEX +2
4 EGO +2
5 Darkvision
2 Mental Defense (Only verses sleep or paralasys effects -1/2)
1 WF: Longsword and LongBow
0 Language: Elvish (Fluent, Idiomatic)
1 Language: Common (Basic Conversation)
-5 Distinguishing Features (Elf, Noticable, Concealable)
-4 Con -2
Kit Cost = 10

You can do the same for classes, if you see fit to include them. Class kits are usually a bit more expensive than race kits and generally include alot more skills and talents.


-High technology. Now, this is a Heroic level campaign, so normally equipment wouldn't cost any points and instead would be handled by simply taking weapon familiarity. Given, however, the disparity that exists between commonly-available technology and the high technology that can be scavenged or granted by the Steel Gods, I'm opting to treat such items as magic items and, as such, make them something you have to buy with points. Jury's still out on that one, though.
One of the main things about Fantasy Hero is money. How is it best represented in a system where every item already has a value associated with it? A character that spends points on a "magic item" at creation will probably have to take the independent limitation for the item. If the item is lost, stolen or broken, then that character is out those chracter points and that's very much like a swift kick in the teeth.

Dark Champions uses the concept of a resource pool, which some GMs have adapted to Fantasy Hero uses. Basically, the character has a pool of points from which to build their starting equipment. As they adventure, the pool increases either by their spending points on it or by their aquisition of items during the course of play. If an item is broken or stolen, their pool total decreases by the amount of the item, but not the total points they can have active. It gets around the independent problem by not totally hosing a character when they lose a piece of equipment. I'd need to read up on it cause there is abit more to it than that, but that's the simple jist.


-Magic. Most magic will take some combination of the Gestures or Incantations limitations, though some spells can simply be Restrainable (and thus only stopped by a full-on Grab) or have no such limitations at all. Spells requiring accessible Foci are likewise possible, but I think this is a setting that works best without Delayed Activation. I don't think mages really need to be limited in the number of spells they can have up at once any more than the other powers need to. The only other big requirement to magic is that it /always/ costs END to use: magic has to be fueled by some kind of energy. But then, it's got interesting tricks to work with that, too: something I'll describe later.
You may want to think about lowering the cost of magic, too. Fantasy Hero suggests dividing the final cost by 5. It creates a slightly better balance between the fighter and the spellcaster paradigms. Something to consider.

Will mages have access to the Endurence Reserve power for their spells to come from, or will their castings come directly from their own endurance? Will there be various schools of magic? Will mages be making spellcasting rolls to see if spells go off? Will they need to have an appropriate KS in a school before they can even know a certain spell?

Just some things to consider.


-Psionics and Mutation: the powers granted by the Lord Atuhm and the exposure to his Cleansing Light (you know, radiation) tend to be fairly specific in nature. Gross physical mutations (extra limbs and such) are rare, but possible. More common are internal alterations: redundant or efficient organs, denser musculature and such. These are bought for the most part as higher physical attributes, though I've yet to decide how to integrate that with a Heroic-level campaigh. Atuhm's light also grants psionics, albeit of fairly limited scope. Broad-spectrum telepathy, for instance, is rare: more common is the ability to read your foes' immediate intentions.
You could represent the internal mutations as a bonus to a certain characteristc and the increase of the characteristic maximum for that characteristic.

Psionics are going to be expenseive if you use the standard schema for mental powers. Since I haven't run a mentalist yet, I only know the rules for those powers in passing . . . let me look at them tonight and get back to you.


-Shamanism. Hoo boy, this is the power set that's giving me headaches. Shamans can wake the sleeping spirits of human ghosts and hopefully coerce them into service. Ghosts can manage a fairly broad variety of tricks. Telekineses is typical, as is the ability to possess people. One of the more interesting powers that some possess, however, is the ability to inhabit and animate objects made in the image of humanity, like statues. Or robots. This, and their relatively easy access to another view of human history, makes Shamans typically regarded as enemies of the Steel Gods and unwelcome in their lands.

In fact, right now the biggest head-ache that comes from this setting is trying to define this last power in Hero terms. If it were just robots I'd define it as Mind Control, but since they can also animate formerly inanimate objects I was considering trying to buy it as a Multipower. But even then it's pretty weird.
You may want to represent these spirit powers as a VPP with a limited scope of powers that the VPP can create. It will give the Shaman the flexability to do the things you want them to, but a few limitations on the VPP will allow you to simulate the limitations they will encounter in using their powers.


Other things to consider. What are going to be your point caps?
AP, OCV, DCV, PD and ED (both normal and resistant)

Arakune
2006-03-03, 12:36 PM
for shamanis try to use some powers from Shaman King, sinse the power of the spirit came from the will power and the understanding of how to control the forces that make the souls (in the case of shaman king, the great spirit)

Laser_Bard
2006-03-03, 03:24 PM
In playing non-superheroic games I often found setting the cap on the total amount of psychological limitations as equal to the total limitation amount made it easier for most players to come up with proper disadvantages without resorting to everyone having a DNPC, hunted, and rivalry, which is what usually happened in 75+75 games that were capped at 25 per category.

This is actually a really good idea. That's more or less the problem I had with the Heroic Disadvantage setup, and this seems like an excellent solution. Thanks!


I'd also suggest the balanced 75-75 just for the fact that with all the "races" running around down there, you don't want a character to take up almost all his disadd points in physical limitations (either by mutation or being an animal), but we'll see how it all goes and come back to this later.

You make an excellent point. 75/75 it is.


start making kits

I was considering starting with this, since there are quite a large number of races in this setting. In the region of the setting that I'd originally settled on running things in I'd established the existance of nine races in addition to normal humanity (4 uplifted animal races, of which 2 were playable as part of society, three human variants of which 2 were playable, as well as elves and dwarves), and I feel that creating more races is a process that could just keep going. In the end, what I'm probably going to do is define some races myself, coming up with whatever I can think of then just establish some guidelines for creating more races.


One of the main things about Fantasy Hero is money. How is it best represented in a system where every item already has a value associated with it? A character that spends points on a "magic item" at creation will probably have to take the independent limitation for the item. If the item is lost, stolen or broken, then that character is out those chracter points and that's very much like a swift kick in the teeth.

This is exactly the conundrum I was facing. I don't like the Independent limitation: it places the GM in the untenable situation of either not taking the item from the player (and thus making the limitation without meaning) or taking it (and thus making the character less effective than anyone else in the group). As a rule, I think I want to disallow it for this setting. This isn't a terribly cinematic setting, and thus things wind up breaking or being irretrievably lost sometimes. On the other hand, high technology really /is/ going to be better in just about every way than the more common technology of the setting (which, depends on where you go, ranges from the stone age up through early medieval era technology: I'm pretty sure I want to cap non-ancient weapons at or around the longbow. Maybe crossbows), and so I want someone who has access to it by virtue of his backstory to pay for it in more ways than merely buying weapon familiarity and some science and engineering skills.

That having been said, I don't have a copy of Dark Hero. How does this Resource Pool idea work, pointwise? It seems like an excellent idea and I'll probably implement it.


You may want to think about lowering the cost of magic, too. Fantasy Hero suggests dividing the final cost by 5. It creates a slightly better balance between the fighter and the spellcaster paradigms. Something to consider.

Huh. I hadn't thought of that: a part of my Superheroic-level Champions-playing heart rebels at the idea of making powers quite that cheap, but I'll definitely consider that. It seems like something that would render Limitations on magic rather superfluous, though.


Will mages have access to the Endurence Reserve power for their spells to come from, or will their castings come directly from their own endurance?

Yes to both! Like I mentioned, mages in this setting have an interesting workaround to drawing on their own personal energy to casting spells. See, this is as close as I'm ever going to get to being scientific about magic here: magic runs on energy. Literal energy. When a human casts spells, he's burning calories, which, among other things, makes it an excellent dieting plan. One of the first tricks any mage learns to do is the trick of converting one kind of energy (say, the electrical potential in a battery) into another (say, caloric energy in his body). This is an area where the Steel Gods and their servants have a tremendous advantage, as you need to understand the energy you're manipulating at least on some level before you can play with it.

The main way I intend to model that is a rather common spell, Transfer END to END, and simply define most energy phenomena as possessing an END trait that can be absorbed. Hmm. Except that this would have side effects, in the form of a Dispel. Dang. This'll take thought. But an END reserve (in the form of something with a fair amount of energy locked into it) would certainly be doable.


Will there be various schools of magic? Will mages be making spellcasting rolls to see if spells go off? Will they need to have an appropriate KS in a school before they can even know a certain spell?

To be entirely honest, I hadn't thought about these questions that much. See, one of the problems that I had with introducing magic to this setting was the simple question: where did this knowledge come from? I wanted mages to be scholarly, to counterpoint the much more intuition-focused Flesh Acolytes, but while I could certainly explain the return of magic I felt that this return taking the form of ancient grimoires popping into existance seemed a little... you know. Odd.

But that just gave me an idea, along with my comment above. Familiarity. I think the knowledge to manipulate magical energy was granted to the Steel Gods (and, quite likely, to a few humans) at first, but over the course of generations it's been spread out at least somewhat far. The thing is that in order to use this energy to manipulate something, you have to understand that thing: thus, skill-based magic! SS: Biology could allow you access to spells that affect living things directly, SS: Physics would be the skill for your basic 'neeblybeam' spells as well as energy manipulation and so on. The problem would be coming up with applications for some SS, but I want to encourage Mages to pick up whatever knowledge they can.

As to skill rolls being required, I think that I'm in favor of that, though not with Side Effects. Magic can be unreliable in the hands of someone who's knowledge isn't perfect, but it's not particularly fickle.


You could represent the internal mutations as a bonus to a certain characteristc and the increase of the characteristic maximum for that characteristic.

Do you mean that I should make a blanket increase to the maximum for whichever characteristics I allow physical mutations to increase, or that having mutations should also increase the maximum? I was considering something like the latter, if only because I want egregious physical prowess to be a supernatural phenomenon, but I suppose a blanket increase could be done if it included the caveat 'don't buy your stats above this point here unless you have mutations or else are a member of a non-human race', with non-humans being limited to M+R, where M is the human mark and R is the racial modifier.

Again, maybe. I've never actually run a Heroic game before, and so I'm still trying to feel some of this out.


You may want to represent these spirit powers as a VPP with a limited scope of powers that the VPP can create. It will give the Shaman the flexability to do the things you want them to, but a few limitations on the VPP will allow you to simulate the limitations they will encounter in using their powers.

See, now /this/ is interesting. My original plan was to represent the powers of a Shaman through the Summoning Power, but this basically just shifted the problem over to designing ghosts and working out what they can and can't do in general. Most of that was pretty straight-forward: Mind Control and Telekinesis were going to be the two big powers. But it's the animation power that some of them have that gave me a headache.

Incidentally, I'd actually given serious thought to building ghosts as AIs rather than as regular characters. The implication would be that their presence isn't something that can interract with the world save through using whatever powers they have. Unless bound into an object by a Shaman, they would also be more or less confined to whatever area they died in (or, alternately, where they were buried).

VPP could be an interesting way to model Shamans, though their powers would need Side Effects as a limitation, since a failed attempt at suborning the will of a ghost means that you've awoken them but now they're free to commit whatever mayhem they care to do.


AP, OCV, DCV, PD and ED (both normal and resistant)

These I'll have to get back to you on. See previous comment, re: not having run Heroic before. Any advice that could be given would be welcome.

I think at this point I'm going to try and shift more towards single-topic posts, focusing on one subject at a time. I think I'm going to start with races on the next post.


"Atuhm is known by many titles. In some lands they call him the Lord of Light or the Purifier, in others he is the Burning God or Bringer of War. In all cultures he is recognized as the god whose influence is change, strife and destruction. His might swept away the old Age and it was only the Lady's intervention that kept Atuhm from sweeping away everything. In some lands he is venerated as a bringer of great gifts, while in lands ruled more directly by the Steel Gods his depiction is far more ambivalent. Tribes outside the People almost all venerate him to one degree or another, viewing him as their spiritual father even if they don't agree with the strife that he brings.

In depiction Atuhm is always portrayed as a member of the People, even by other tribes, though which specific tribe he is portrayed as can vary. Many depictions show him engaged in battle with members of all races, or merely laughing and dancing while the races fight amongst themselves. The one constant in all depictions is that some aspect of his body is always swathed in flames, usually his eyes, his hands or his feet."

((Edit: Okay, I'm really new to forums and clearly I don't understand how quote tags work here. I'm going to keep the post like this: hopefully it's legible.))

Edit by WampaX - "[]"s are what YaBB uses for tags. I fixed 'em for ya.

WampaX
2006-03-03, 03:59 PM
I think at this point I'm going to try and shift more towards single-topic posts, focusing on one subject at a time. I think I'm going to start with races on the next post.
Probably a good idea. ;)

I'll flip through my books once I get home and make sure how I described the resource pool and the divide by 5 for spells.

This post will be updated with a few responses to the above, but I will limit myself and let you guide the design Laser_Bard (holding thoughts and such until that topic is brought to the fore)

EDIT

These I'll have to get back to you on. See previous comment, re: not having run Heroic before. Any advice that could be given would be welcome.
They are all fairly linked together. Since you are going with a 75+75 build, you need to base the caps off of that. Try and use a standard Xd6 attack as your baseline to help determine the AP cap. You would probably want to cap it out around 40 or 45 points. PD and ED caps probably around 10 to 15, with a cap of half of that as resistant. You also need to realize that Heroic Level games usualy deal damage to Body and don't tend to worry about the STUN of attacks. Speed is usually limited to 3 or 4. OCV and DCV are more or less based on the limit you place on DEX, so probably and average of 7 or so.


Do you mean that I should make a blanket increase to the maximum for whichever characteristics I allow physical mutations to increase, or that having mutations should also increase the maximum? I was considering something like the latter, if only because I want egregious physical prowess to be a supernatural phenomenon, but I suppose a blanket increase could be done if it included the caveat 'don't buy your stats above this point here unless you have mutations or else are a member of a non-human race', with non-humans being limited to M+R, where M is the human mark and R is the racial modifier.

Characteristic Maxima is something you need to look at. 20 is usually the capstone, and every point beyond 20 costs a character double the points. If you want to change the Maxima to a baseline for humans and modify it for races or the afore-mentioned mutations, then more power to you, but keeping the whole "double over maxima" should probably stay.

What I was suggesting is that the physical mutations would provide a characteristic bonus and a like increase to the cap. So a person who pays the points to have a +2 STR (4 points, I think) would also recieve an increase to their maxima for STR (so 22 in the case of a 20 regular maxima). You may want to include a -5 point Distinguishing Features Disadvantage (Mutant, Detectable by Uncommon Senses) for the internal mutations, while the external ones would probably need a 10 or higher.

dbsousa
2006-03-03, 08:07 PM
An excellent resource for a game like this is http://www.savageearth.net/.

A less good (and somewhat derivative) resource is a game I ran, called Haven (http://www.geocities.com/dbsousa1/Haven.doc)

Laser_Bard
2006-03-04, 02:37 PM
An excellent resource for a game like this is http://www.savageearth.net/.

*coughs*

...'kay, looks like I've got some reading to do. Lemme see how they did things, and see what I can adapt from that.

Dang, and here I thought I was, well, okay, not breaking new ground, but at least being somewhat original. ;D

WampaX
2006-03-09, 12:53 PM
Ummm . . . I think races were the first item for discussion?
Anytime you're ready Laser_bard

Laser_Bard
2006-03-09, 10:27 PM
Ugh.

Okay, I know this is lame, but seeing a pre-existing setting that's quite so close to what I wanted to do and for the same system kinda took the steam out of my stride. I still want to do this, but I'm just feeling a mite discouraged at the moment.