Friday, 11 April 2014

Simple Psionics: Wild Talents and the Psychic Class

The recently published The Complete Vivimancer contains an appendix which describes a simple system of psionic powers. I included these rules because several of the new vivimancer spells in the book grant the ability to use psionic powers, either temporarily or permanently. I didn't want to just assume that everyone using the book already has a set of psionics rules which they use (one of the goals of the book was, after all, that it should be complete in itself, without reference to other rule books), so I wanted to include a simple system which could be used in lieu of a full psionics system, should the referee desire it.

I've used this kind of system in games in the past, and its simplicity and speed at the table has been a pleasure, especially when compared to some of the more esoteric psionics systems which exist (AD& 1e anyone?).

The psionics appendix in The Complete Vivimancer is only referred to by a few spells, but it's the kind of appendix which can easily be used as the basis for a wider system of psionics. Here are some ideas.

Wild Talents
Some characters possess a natural talent for psionics, whether it be due to genetics, happenstance, mutation, or exposure to weird energies. Such characters, known as "wild talents", are not true psionicists, but have the ability to use a single psionic power.

Several methods can be used to determine whether a PC is a psionic wild talent:
  • Sum INT, WIS, and CHA.Roll under this value on d%.
  • Roll under highest mental attribute (INT, WIS, or CHA) on 1d20.
  • For particularly alien or gonzo campaigns: all PCs have a wild talent!

If a character possesses a wild talent, the player should randomly determine which power is known, rolling on the chart in Appendix I. A wild talent may be used once per day.

Option: for really wild wild talents, roll each morning to see which power the character may use that day.

True Psionicists
While wild talents have a knack for the psychic, other characters have trained this innate ability to a much higher degree, making it the focus of their adventuring careers. Here's one such class, statted up for Labyrinth Lord.

The Psychic

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: INT and CHA
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: None

Psychics are characters who have developed psionic abilities which can help them during adventures. Depending on the powers they use and the society they come from, psychics are sometimes known by names such as: seers, clairvoyants, telepaths, empaths, and so on. They are able to learn the full range of psionic powers, and devote most of their time to developing their psychic abilities. Some psychics are naturally gifted, while others may belong to a guild or academy where psionic powers are taught.

Due to their focus on perfecting the mind, psychics have limited combat ability. They use the magic-user saving throw and attack progression charts, and can only use leather armour and simple weapons: club, dagger, dart, hand axe, light crossbow, short sword, sling, quarterstaff.

A psychic with 13 or higher in both prime requisites gains a +5% experience bonus. An INT or CHA of 16 in one prime requisite grants the full 10% bonus. Note that, as psychics have CHA as a prime requisite, they are able to raise that score during character creation via point swapping.

Psionic Powers: A psychic knows a number of psionic powers dependant on his level. The player can choose which powers his character knows. The number of times a psychic's powers may be used each day also depends on his level.

Psychic Burn: In times of desperation, when he has used his psychic powers as many times as is allowed in one day, a psychic can draw from deep psycho-physical reserves in order to activate a psionic power. This is known as psychic burn. It can be performed by a psychic only once per day, and results in the immediate loss of 1d4 hit points. If only a single point of damage is inflicted by the psychic burn, a saving throw versus spells must also be made, with failure indicating that the psychic permanently loses one point of CON or WIS (50% chance of each).

Reaching 9th level: Upon reaching 9th level, a psychic may establish an academy where he teaches his skills to students. The psychic will attract 1d6 apprentices, who are of level 1d4.

Psychic Level Advancement Table
The table lists the experience points required for each level, along with the Hit Dice, known powers and uses per day. Uses per day is global, not per-power. So, for example, a 1st level psychic may know the telekinesis and psionic blast powers. She may choose to use either power once during the day.

  1. 0 XP, 1 HD, 2 known powers, 1 uses per day.
  2. 2,201 XP, 2 HD, 2 known powers, 2 uses per day.
  3. 4,401 XP, 3 HD, 3 known powers, 3 uses per day.
  4. 9,001 XP, 4 HD, 3 known powers, 4 uses per day.
  5. 18,001 XP, 5 HD, 4 known powers, 5 uses per day.
  6. 36,001 XP, 6 HD, 4 known powers, 6 uses per day.
  7. 72,001 XP, 7 HD, 5 known powers, 7 uses per day.
  8. 150,001 XP, 8 HD, 5 known powers, 8 uses per day.
  9. 300,001 XP, 9 HD, 6 known powers, 9 uses per day.
  10. 450,001 XP, +1 hp, 6 known powers, 10 uses per day.
  11. 600,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 11 uses per day.
  12. 750,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 12 uses per day.
  13. 900,001 XP, +1 hp, 7 known powers, 13 uses per day.
  14. 1,050,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 14 uses per day.
  15. 1,200,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 15 uses per day.
  16. 1,350,001 XP, +1 hp, 8 known powers, 16 uses per day.
  17. 1,500,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 17 uses per day.
  18. 1,650,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 18 uses per day.
  19. 1,800,001 XP, +1 hp, 9 known powers, 19 uses per day.
  20. 1,950,001 XP, +1 hp, 10 known powers, 20 uses per day.

Note: I'm going to compile this kind of extra bonus material, along with contributions from others on the subject of vivimantic magic, into a free PDF entitled "From the Vats" -- coming soon! If you have any ideas for a submission, please get in touch!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Complete Vivimancer: On Sale Now!

The Complete Vivimancer, my to-date magnum opus of weird magic, is now available for sale at RPGNow!

Currently only the modern PDF format is available. The setup for the print version is going to require a wee bit more time, so bear with me if you seek paper inscribed with vivimantic secrets.

A few facts...

How many spells are in this thing?


If you have Theorems & Thaumaturgy (and you should... it's free!), that's 75 additional spells for the vivimancer class. The old spell list was a bit sparse, especially at high, mid and low levels. The new list is now seriously rounded. See here for the complete spell list.

If you only have the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, that's over 130 additional spells to play with.

Many of the spells taken from the AEC or Th&Th have been newly edited, expanded, clarified and spruced. So even the old is now new!

And what about magic items?


Weird number. It was originally a nice round 40, but then I found some more space and squeezed two more in there.

Previously there were a grand total of 0 vivimantic items in Th&Th, and maybe 2 in the AEC (the wand of polymorphing and the chime of cannibalism are pretty vivimantic).

These are some examples of the sort of weird and wonderful items among those 42: brain leeches, cerebral spider, worm of poison absorption, apparatus of organ transference, brain vat, lens of blinding, blood tree, solvent of androgyny, staff of flesh dissolution.

What's it look like?

Heavily illustrated.

A5 for convenient, hold-in-your-hand (or on your tablet) use at the table.

And speaking of convenience

Remember that this is a complete reference on all matters vivimantic. (I didn't call it the "complete" vivimancer for nothing.) That means that you don't need to look anything up in other rulebooks. All your character's spells are here in one handy tome.

You should probably go to RPGNow and check it out now!

ps. If you're interested in the print version AND the PDF version, I'm going to try to set up some kind of discount so you can buy the PDF now and then cheaply "upgrade" to the print version when it's available. This publishing on RPGNow lark is all new to me, so it might take a bit of fiddling around. I am assured that it is possible though.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Complete Vivimancer: Tantalisation

It's so close I can feel the slime dripping off it!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Complete Vivimancer: Sample Illustration

Here's a further advanced (I don't think quite finished) version of the illustration for the decay spell, the rough draft of which I posted a few days ago.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Elementalist: Specialists and 1st Level Spell List

While waiting for the completion of the illustrations for The Complete Vivimancer, I've been playing around with some ideas for my follow-up project The Complete Elementalist.

My plan is to include rules for a generalist elementalist as well as specialists in each individual element. What I have in mind is the following:
  • An elementalist may at any point in his career choose to focus his study on one of the cardinal elements. Once made, this decision cannot be reversed.
  • Elemental specialists can only memorize spells which are directly related to their chosen element, though this includes sub-elements. For example, a fire specialist could also memorize sub-elemental spells of ash or magma.
  • Elemental specialists can cast spells relating to other elements from scrolls, but are absolutely restricted from casting spells of the element opposed to their chosen speciality, including sub-elements. For example, a fire elementalist cannot cast water-related spells from scrolls, even spells of steam (a sub-element of fire and water).
  • The advantage of a narrow focus is that an elemental specialist casts and memorizes spells at one experience level higher than his true level.
This ability to specialise on a single element means, of course, that the spell lists will need to be balanced, providing a decent selection of spells for each element. Ideally I'd like to make the spell list exactly balanced.

I've been working on the 1st level spells, and so far this has worked out. Here's the list as it stands.

All 1st Level Spells
1. Burning hands
2. Create water
3. Crystal resonance
4. Domination of lesser elementines
5. Dust blast
6. Feather fall
7. Feet of stone
8. Firelight
9. Firewreath
10. Fist of stone
11. Flickerflame
12. Hush
13. Ignite
14. Lasting breath
15. Lodestone
16. Manipulate fire
17. Message
18. Mudflow
19. Purify
20. Ray of fire / ice
21. Resist cold
22. Rusting grasp
23. Seasong / windsong / firesong
24. Shapes
25. Sound the deeps
26. Stalagmites / stalactites
27. Stoneskin
28. Unburn
29. Wall of vapour
30. Windwreath

1st Level Air Spells
1. Domination of lesser elementines
2. Dust blast
3. Feather fall
4. Flickerflame
5. Hush
6. Lasting breath
7. Message
8. Purify
9. Seasong / windsong / firesong
10. Shapes
11. Wall of vapour
12. Windwreath

1st Level Earth Spells
1. Crystal resonance
2. Domination of lesser elementines
3. Dust blast
4. Feet of stone
5. Fist of stone
6. Lodestone
7. Mudflow
8. Purify
9. Shapes
10. Sound the deeps
11. Stalagmites / stalactites
12. Stoneskin

1st Level Fire Spells
1. Burning hands
2. Domination of lesser elementines
3. Firelight
4. Firewreath
5. Flickerflame
6. Ignite
7. Manipulate fire
8. Purify
9. Ray of fire / ice
10. Seasong / windsong / firesong
11. Shapes
12. Unburn

1st Level Water Spells
1. Create water
2. Domination of lesser elementines
3. Lasting breath
4. Mudflow
5. Purify
6. Ray of fire / ice
7. Resist cold
8. Rusting grasp
9. Seasong / windsong / firesong
10. Shapes
11. Sound the deeps
12. Wall of vapour

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Complete Vivimancer: Mind Fungus

Due to a small layout mistake I've just discovered I've got a little bit of space to squeeze a small amount of extra material into The Complete Vivimancer. Thus, an extra magic item:

Mind Fungus
Reminiscent of a fist-sized human brain, a single specimen of this species of robust magical mushroom is the fruit of a lengthy procedure of growth under carefully controlled conditions. The mushrooms must be grown on a medium of neural matter, and are fed a solution of magically treated spinal fluid. A character who consumes one of these rare fruits gains a permanent +1 bonus to INT, but must also roll a side-effect on the following table, as the psychic echoes of the minds which fed the fungus interact with the character's neural structure.

1-2: None
3: -1d3 WIS
4: -1d3 CHA
5: Re-roll WIS (3d6)
6: Re-roll CHA (3d6)
7: Alignment change – randomly determined (roll again if no change)
8: Insanity (as per the 4th level spell)
9: Radical personality change
10: Memory warp – long periods of the character's memory are either erased or replaced with events which did not occur (50% of each)