Sunday, May 4, 2014

Father/Daughter Worldbuilding - Aether's Light - Session 4

The Science Fiction Companion Update!

Since our last post we've had a couple of updates, several of which are linked to my recent purchase of the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion.  What a phenomenal book!  With updated rules for creating new races and species, robots, mechs, ships, and creatures, Carrie and I should have no problem picking and choosing what fits best in our setting and what should be saved for future campaigns.  We've also updated the name of the central gas giant planet from Aether to Sidon.  I thought that Aether, while not original as a term, was still a pretty cool name for a magic-generating planet.  Well, I booted up Metroid Prime 2 this week, since I own it but have never played it, and found out that the planet in that game is called "Aether."  Oops!  For the last two weeks, however, I've been playing in a friend's Numenera campaign.  If you have never played Numenera, it is a phenomenal game system and campaign setting by Monte Cook Games.  In my friend Jeremy's campaign I play Sidon-Barrex, a Lattimor Jack who Entertains.  Since Lattimors are a symbiotic species, with two separate aliens merged into one, each "side" has it's own name and personality.  Sidon being the outgoing charismatic aspect of the character, I thought "Sidon" was a great name for our world.  Who knows, maybe the name Barrex will show up somewhere else, as it is well known that I enjoy Easter-Eggs in my pen and paper RPG's!  We are still going to refer to the setting as "Aether's Light", with the term describing the effect the planetary glow has on the rest of the system.  

Finalized Species Abilities

Carrie and I have agreed upon all of the positive and negative racial abilities/traits for our six starting races/species for Aether's Light.  While we have only featured background information for the Inkami and Ajordo so far, we chose to share the details for all of our playable creatures here in this post.  You'll see that we've made a few changes to the Ajordo to reflect some of the awesome traits that we found in the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion.

Agreoni (Human):  Adaptable 

Lunarian (Lune-Native Human):  Adaptable, Low-G Worlder, Start play with a d6 in chosen spellcasting skill.

Inkami:  Small, Infravision, Start play with a d6 in Stealth, Start play with a d6 in Spirit

Grelth (Doglike Mercenary):  Outsider, Keen Scent, Pace +2, Parry +1 (because of that tail!)

Quallum (Amphibious Space Merchant):  Additional Action (4 arms), Semi-Aquatic, Charisma +2, Attribute Penalty Spirit -1, Pace 5

Ajordo:  Pacifist (Minor), Cannot Speak, Strength starts at a d6, Low Tech, Cautious, Size +2, Environmental Resistance (Heat), Environmental Resistance (Radiation)

The Grelth Cosplay Photo Shoot

Carrie and I have done quite a bit of work on the Grelth/Growler species so far.  We know that they are a mercenary race that lives on the very large moon of Bolera and that originally Goethan colonists clashed with the Grelth as their holdings expanded.  When Zaenaan set their eyes on Bolera they used the Grelth as pawns, aiding the "Growler" race against their common enemy.  Once the proxy war was over, however, the humans of Zaenaan didn't leave, and instead absorbed the Grelth nations against their will.  We have several pictures drawn of these warrior-pups, both from Carrie and myself.

But how great would it be to get a real model for these pictures and do a photo-shoot?  

Our five year old Goldendoodle Ridley (so named for the second boss in Metroid) was more than willing to volunteer to stand in as the first "Alpha" of the Grelth people!

Battle Armor Alpha ready to defend his cohort!

Growler Power!

Savaging a "Draw" System and a "Gaia" System

First I have to thank +Richard Woolcock for directing me to Savage Arcanum and +Kristian Serrano for giving us some excellent creative feedback that led to how we wanted to manage "spirit" magic!  Savage Arcanum is a fantastic fan-crafted resource that allows GM's to create new and exciting means of spellcasting.  I know that we wanted to create something new and interesting for Aether's Light, but also that there had to be a careful balance so as not to topple the Savage Worlds system mechanics.  Our "Arcane" source of magic will fuel what we are right now calling a "Draw Method" (an homage to Final Fantasy VIII) and the "Primal" source a "Gaia Method".  Obviously both systems need to be subjected to the rigors of play before we could attest to how the rules stack up against other characters, but at lease we have a starting point.  

Draw Method

Arcane spellcasting in Aether's Light functions the same as Arcane Background: Magic with the following additions:

  • In the Aether's Light campaign setting arcane power comes from one of two sources: The Aether generated by Sidon and it's rings or the Marrow mined from the dark and ominous Husk.  There will be two separate lists of powers, one for each source.  
  • Players must choose whether or not their character starts play as an Aetherite Caster or Marrow Caster.  The player receives a -2 penalty to casting a power from their non-preferred power type.
  • Characters begin play with their 3 powers (all from their preferred power source), but also gain 1 additional power in something called a "Draw Slot".  Characters gain 1 additional draw slot at each rank of play.
  • Characters can fill their Draw Slot in one of three ways. First, when a character defeats an arcane opponent the character can Draw their choice of power as the Aetherite or Marrow dissipates from the opposing spellcaster's body.  Second, a spellcaster can choose to give up the power in their Draw Slot to another spellcaster, either by choice or intimidation.  Finally there are places of magic throughout the Sidon System where a player can draw particular powers.  The character is still limited in that the power drawn must be available their Rank.  Also, powers can only be drawn from other Magic casters, not Gaia Spiritualists. The Draw Slot can be filled with an opposing magic type (an Aetherite Caster can draw a Marrow power), but would still be subjected to the -2 casting penalty.  
  • Additional powers gained through edges may be fueled either by Aetherite or Marrow, again keeping in mind the preferred power source.  
  • As per Savage Arcanum a player must have a "Spell Focus" created from either Aetherite or Marrow to cast their spells.  Typically this is a piece of material mounted in a staff, rod, or gauntlet.  Casting without the Spell Focus is an additional -2 penalty to Spellcasting (on top of any penalty based on the power source).  Switching Spell Foci is just as difficult as swapping weapons and would require an action.  

Gaia Method

Each world of the Sidon System is home to a particular Gaia Spirit [Name subject to change], as each world is "alive".  There are those that can channel this type of spiritual power, gaining access to the native powers of the world to use in order to protect or subjugate the weak, to heal the friend or hurt the foe, or just to better oneself for a particular situation.  The spirits of each world are not good or evil, although powers may be wielded for any cause.  Those that channel the might of the incredible entities don't rely upon religious fervor but strength of will and attuning to the spiritual forces that flow throughout the world.  This does not mean that many people, such as the Inkami, do not turn this manner of casting into a type of religion.  

  • The Gaia Method of spellcasting is nearly identical to the Miracles system found in the Deadlands Player's Guide
  • The player puts ranks into the Spirit based skill "Gaia Ritual" to use the powers, with the difficulty based on the rank of the power (-2 for Novice, -4 for Seasoned, etc.)  
  • The character does not use Power Points
  • Each world has it's own power list to choose from and the character has access to all of the powers at any given time.
  • If a player rolls a "1" on the Gaia Ritual die, regardless of the wild die, they have broken their connection to the Gaia Spirit, take a point of fatigue, and cannot cast again until a full evening spent reconnecting to the Gaia Spirit (a ritual that takes 4 hours minus 30 minutes for each rank over Novice.)  
  • Since much of the action in Aether's Light takes place in the far reaches of space, when a character is traversing the heavens they can actually draw from the incredibly powerful Gaia Spirit of Sidon itself.  This has it's own power list, but the drawback to breaking the connection is much more dangerous.  Should a player roll a "1" on the Gaia Ritual die, regardless of the wild die, they are Shaken and take 1 wound.  Naturally if they are already Shaken they take 2 wounds.  

Next Steps

In our next post I plan on discussing a bit more about history and driving political forces of our setting.  I'm injecting a bit of a history lesson about colonialism/imperialism for Carrie by setting up the human species as both the main heroic people as well as the principal villains. We'll be working on brief write-ups for all three of the major human nations, Zaenaan, Goetha, and the Lunarians.  We also hope to go into some more details about the   setting rules that we've thought would work best for the game.  

We're also looking for feedback on what to call the Draw and Gaia systems and their spell casters, so please feel free to leave us a comment below!  

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Carrie's Corner

I remember on Friday I asked the class who liked RPG games, and boy, was I surprised with the results!  I remember looking at 11 hands pop up, and I wanted to faint.  Me and dad are still deciding on three people, but I think this will be amazing when it's done!  Dad will also get to bring some grown-up friends to play as well. Go, Aether's Light!!!

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