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- May 2019
(PEACH) The Throes of Thran - Barbarians of Lemuria for the Giant's World
As the sun rises, King Bryce's corpse sprawls broken on the stones that pave the central square of the temple city Moontower. Yestereve above the square, the Tower of the Moon hovered and glowed pale white as always. This morning it is gone; it vanished during the night in a blue-white explosion of moonlight, shortly after Bryce the Game fell flailing and screaming from the spiral stairs that used to lead to it.
This day in the Three Kingdoms of Thran will lead to many others filled with conflict and opportunity as Bryce's two surviving half-siblings vie with his vassals for control of Fauchard, the kingdom he left bereft.
Where will you stand?
Generally - The Throes of Thran - Barbarians of Lemuria variant
SpoilerRules Synopsis: These rules are a variant of Barbarians of Lemuria, originally written by Simon Washbourne. Briefly, all attempts at tasks are resolved by rolling greater than a target number using two six-sided dice, plus character modifiers. The character modifiers include an Attribute and a Career (non-combat) or an Ability (combat). The target number usually is 9 but may be higher based on situational modifiers. An additional bonus or penalty die may be rolled in certain situations, or due to a character's Boon or Flaw; a bonus die means roll three six dice and pick the better two, a penalty die means roll three dice and pick the worse two. Characters are defined not only by their Attributes (Strength, Agility, Mind, and Appeal), Careers (four of these), and Abilities (Initiative, Unarmed, Armed, and Ranged), all of which are purchased from pools of points at the start of play, but also by their Origin, Boons, and Flaws.
Setting: The game is set in the Three Kingdoms of Thran, a world devised by Rich Burlew. Play begins in the city of Moontower, the morning after the defenestration there of Bryce the Game, ex-King of Fauchard. Unlike the rest of the Three Kingdoms, which subsist with medieval technology, Moontower and its sister city Sun Citadel have been enriched and enlivened by gnomish magic that renders a high renaissance type culture.
Rich Burlew, Order of the Stick, and Thran
Rich Burlew is a game designer and webcomic creator who is writing this very lengthy thing called Order of the Stick. It's up at giantitp.com. About 1200 pages of comic, starting off with old school rpg humor like used to be seen in Dragon, then tending more toward serious character and plot developments. Much like many old school campaigns ...
Along the way he noodled around with some setting design ideas (under "The World" at the linked page). Those are "Thran." They're the basis for what follows here, and should be read by anyone interested in playing a Barbarians of Lemuria game in Mr. Burlew's sketched out world.
Also good to read: the thread for a previous game in this setting, using different rules. It will give you an idea of some events immediately preceding the open of play in the game I propose.
Heroes of Thran - Building a Character
SpoilerHeroes are a special type of character, gifted with more impressive Attributes and greater Career accomplishment than the ordinary characters (toughs or rabble).
A tough has 2 points each to spend on Attributes, Careers, and Abilities. A hero, on the other hand, has 4 points to spend on each of Attributes, Careers, and Abilities. The points are spent to attain ranks in each of four Attributes, four Careers, and four Abilities. Rabble have no points.
In Attributes, Careers, and Abilities, ranks have the same significance:
rank -1 is subnormal (this is not a possible rank for a Career);
rank 0 is normal ability or passing familiarity;
rank 1 is above normal, a skilled worker (the journeyman);
rank 2 is superb, a master;
rank 3 is the best in the city or county;
rank 4 is the best in the region or kingdom;
rank 5 is the best in Thran (only one hero may have rank 5 in a given Attribute, Career, or Ability).
To build a hero, first determine your hero's Origin, which will affect their selection of Careers, Boons, and Flaws. Origins, Careers, Boons, and Flaws are discussed below.
Next, allocate 4 points among the Attributes of Strength, Agility, Mind, and Appeal. Strength and Agility define the hero's physical might and alacrity. Mind treats of tasks related to understanding, using, or figuring out factual information, such as medical diagnosis, crafting items, spellcasting, researching legends, etc. Appeal focuses on one's bearing and ability to favorably impress the people they encounter. It's not necessarily related to beauty but appearance is a component. No Attribute may start at higher than 3 (unless the hero has a Boon related to that Attribute). The lowest value for a starting Attribute is -1, which gives an extra point to spend on a different Attribute.
Allocate 4 points among four Careers. At least one of a hero's careers should be typical of the hero's Origin. No Career may start at a rank higher than 3 (unless the hero is a Non-Combatant). No Career may start at less than 0. Heroes may roll for any type of task, not just those associated with their Careers, but outside their careers, heroes are so ill-informed that they must roll at -1.
Next, allocate 4 points among Abilities of Initiative, Unarmed, Armed, or Ranged. The minimum starting value for an Ability is -1, which gives an extra point to spend on a different Ability. The maximum starting value is 3 (unless the hero has the Gift of Battle Boon). Ability ranks have the same significance as Career ranks.
Determine Lifeblood. The formula for starting LIfeblood is
10 + Strength + rank in any martial Career
unless the hero has the Fragile flaw, in which case the formula is
6 + Strength + rank in any martial Career.
If the hero has the Priest, Wizard, or Druid career, determine their Arcane Power. The formula is
10 + Mind + rank in the mystic Career.
Typically, a hero starts with 5 Hero Points. This number can vary depending on their Boons and Flaws.
Select Boons and Flaws. Your hero is favored by at least one of the Sun or the Moon. This favor is expressed in one or more Boons. Typically, a Boon grants a bonus die on a specific type of task roll in a specific situation (roll three dice and use the better two). For example, a hero with the Moontouched Boon would get to use Arcane Power while the Moon is in the sky. A different hero, with the Axefriend Boon, would get a bonus die on attack rolls using an axe. If your hero has more than one Boon, for each additional Boon they must either have a Flaw or give up a Hero Point. The first Boon and Flaw preferably would be selected from a small list associated with the hero's Origin. The next Boon or Flaw may be selected from the big list. A hero may have no more than three Boons and two Flaws.
Write a backstory for your hero. A good backstory has a few sentences describing the character's childhood, a few sentences describing their experience in each of their Careers, a sentence or two for each of their transitions between Careers, and probably a little bit about their Boons and Flaws.
That's it - you have built your hero.
Each hero begins with the trappings (and possibly the property) necessary for their Careers with greater than 0 rank, as well as spare change. The spare change is abstracted; when the hero wants to purchase a thing, they roll a task roll modified by their highest-ranked Career and their Appeal, with a target number set according to how wealthy a person would have to be to purchase the thing (base difficulty 9, +0 for ordinary citizen, +1 for somewhat wealthy citizen, +2 for wealthy merchant or minor nobility, +5 for wealthiest in Thran, etc.).
SpoilerThran has many cultures. Starting from the extreme northwest, and spiraling clockwise inward to the twin cities of Moontower and Sun Citadel, those cultures include:
Westlings (farmers and sea raiders);
the Valley Kingdoms (farmers and hunters and warriors);
Ayoo Tun'I (nomadic hunters);
the Children of Twelve (druidic farmers and hunters);
Redwater / the Kylnni;
Fauchard / the Stahlmen;
the Twin Cities;
Westlings: the stereotypical big bearded sea-wise raiders. Clothing: rough woolen tunics and trousers and cloaks, leather vests and belts and boots; bright colors. Shelter: wooden longhouses or turf cottages. Food and Drink: bread, root vegetables, salt fish, mutton; beer and milk. Typical Careers: Artist; Crafter; Druid; Entertainer; Farmer; Hunter; Minstrel; Noble; Sailor; Warrior; Wizard. Typical Boons: Athlete; Carouser; Forthright; Gift of Battle; Hard to Kill; Ironhanded; Seaborn; Spell resistant; Vital; Weaponfriend. Typical Flaws: Addicted to X; Apostate; Foreign; Honest to a Fault; Rude; Seabound.
Gnolls: wolves who walk on two legs and wield weapons. Not able to speak in a manner understandable to humans or gnomes. Not suitable as heroes.
Valley Kingdoms: technologically and culturally a bit behind the Three Kingdoms, these folk live in clans that they call kingdoms, in the steep-sided forest valleys of the northern parts. They subsist by farming and hunting. Clothing: rough woolen tunics and trousers and cloaks, leather vests and belts and boots; earth and forest colors. Shelter: wooden cottages. Food and Drink: bread, root vegetables, nuts, berries, river fish, rabbit, squirrel, venison; mead and milk. Typical Careers: Artist; Barbarian; Crafter; Dancer; Druid; Farmer; Fisher; Hunter; Minstrel; Warrior. Typical Boons: Artistry; Athlete; Forestborn; Gift of Battle; Keen sense; Nose for Magic; Silvertongued; Vital. Flaws: Deceptive; Fear of Wizards; Foreign; Forestbound; Illiterate; Impoverished.
Ayoo Tun'i: they live in yurts, herd reindeer, and roam the snowy scrublands in search of food. Clothing: hide and fur gowns and cloaks, sandals, undyed. Shelter: yurts. Food and Drink: reindeer, wild herbs, berries; kvass. Typical Careers: Artist; Barbarian; Crafter; Druid; Fisher; Hunter; Minstrel; Warrior. Typical Boons: Artistry; Athlete; Beastfriend; Escapist; Evasive; Immunity; Keen sense; Non-combatant; Nose for magic; Sneaky; Spell resistant; Slingfriend; Spearfriend; Tundraborn; Flaws: Addicted to alcohol; Apostate; Deceptive; Fear of Wizards; Foreign; Impoverished; Rude; Tundrabound.
Children of Twelve: they live in agrarian towns centered on communal religious structures where Wizards reign. Clothing: linen tunics and trousers, leather belts and cloaks and boots; pastels. Shelter: stone cottages. Food and Drink: bread, root vegetables, chicken, beef, fruits; wine and milk. Typical Careers: Artist; Barbarian; Crafter; Dancer; Farmer; Fisher; Hunter; Minstrel; Warrior; Wizard. Typical Boons: Alert; Artistry; Athlete; Carouser; Drunken Master; Hard to Kill; Immunity; Ironhanded; Poison resistance; Vital. Flaws: Absent-minded; Addicted to X; Apostate; Dull sense; Fear of gnomes; Foreign; Honest to a fault; Rude.
Dharta: a very different, highly urbanized civilization in a semitropical climate, where gnomes are essentially unknown. Ruled by a Wizard caste served by Nobles and Soldiers. Clothing: cotton gowns and cloaks, silk belts and leather sandals; bright colors. Shelter: brick and wooden tenements and mansions. Food and Drink: vegetable, chicken, or mutton vindaloo, masala, cheese; wine and rum. Typical Careers: Artist; Crafter; Criminal; Dancer; Farmer; Fisher; Hunter; Laborer; Mercenary; Merchant; Minstrel; Noble; Physician/Surgeon/Dentist; Sailor; Scholar; Scoundrel; Soldier; Vagabond; Wizard. Typical Boons: Artistry; Attractive; Alert; Cityborn; Deft; Escapist; Forthright; Insight; Learned; Non-Combatant; Nose for Magic; Wealthy. Flaws: Absent-minded; Addicted to X; Apostate; Citybound; Foreign.
Riversend: in some ways, the edge of the world; the sketchy and rough-edged port where the Three Kingdoms meet Dharta, the Westlings, and the mysterious Traders. Clothing: multicultural. Shelter: wooden. Food and Drink: fish, fruit, vegetables; wine. Typical Careers: Barbarian; Crafter; Criminal; Dancer; Fisher; Laborer; Mercenary; Merchant; Minstrel; Priest; Sailor; Scoundrel; Vagabond. Typical Boons: Artistry; Alert; Carouser; Contacts; Drunken Master; Escapist; Evasive; Insight; Keen sense; Seaborn; Sneaky; Wealthy. Flaws: Addicted to X; Deceptive; Disqualified; Enemy; Fear of Foreigners; Hunted; Impoverished; Maimed; Proscribed.
Redwater / The Kylnni: habitants of jungle villages, they combine farming with hunting and gathering. Known for their skilled hunters and fierce warriors. Clothing: skins and bare feet; undyed. Shelter: mud and reed huts. Food and Drink: monkey, capybara, iguana, alligator, jungle fruits; kava. Typical Careers: Artist; Barbarian; Crafter; Druid; Farmer; Fisher; Hunter; Minstrel; Vagabond; Warrior. Typical Boons: Artistry; Athlete; Beastfriend; Bowfriend; Forthright; Immunity; Keen sense; Nose for magic; Poison resistant; Spearfriend; Jungleborn; Flaws: Addicted to alcohol; Apostate; Fear of Wizards; Foreign; Honest to a Fault; Impoverished; Junglebound; Rude.
Vertland: the most peaceable part of Thran. Clothing: linen tunics and trousers, leather belts and cloaks and boots; bright colors. Shelter: stone cottages. Food and Drink: bread, root vegetables, chicken, beef, fruits; wine and milk. Typical Careers: Artist; Constable; Crafter; Farmer; Fisher; Hunter; Laborer; Merchant; Minstrel; Noble; Priest; Scoundrel; Soldier; Vagabond. Typical Boons: Artistry; Farmborn; Forthright; Insight; Keen sense; Non-combatant; Silvertongued; Saddleborn. Flaws: Absent-minded; Farmbound; Fear of Wizards; Honest to a Fault; Illiterate; Impoverished.
Fauchard / The Stahlmen: a region of fine workmanship, strict discipline, hard labor, and totalitarianism. Clothing: woolen tunics and trousers and cloaks, leather belts and vests and boots; undyed. Shelter: stone cottages. Food and Drink: bread, root vegetables, chicken, mutton, beef; beer and whiskey. Typical Careers: Constable; Crafter; Executioner; Farmer; Hunter; Jailer; Laborer; Mercenary; Merchant; Noble; Priest; Scoundrel; Soldier. Typical Boons: Alert; Athlete; Contacts; Gift of Battle; Hard to Kill; Ironhanded; Keen sense; Mountainsborn; Spell resistant; Vital; Weaponfriend. Flaws: Addicted to X; Enemy; Fear of Wizards; Mountainsbound; Proscribed.
The Twin Cities: cosmopolitan center of intrigue, commerce, religion, and learning. Shelter: brick or wooden tenements, stone mansions. Typical Careers, Boons, and Flaws: any.
The gnomes: found throughout the Three Kingdoms. Small, mysterious, somewhat reclusive, and always influential. Clothing: linen gowns and silk vests and cloaks; leather boots. Shelter: local. Food and Drink: vegetables, chicken, fruits, cheese; wine. Typical Careers: Artist; Crafter; Merchant; Minstrel; Physician/Surgeon/Dentist; Priest; Scholar; Wizard. Typical Boons: Artistry; Cityborn; Contacts; Deft; Forthright; Immunity; Insight; Learned; Non-combatant; Nose for magic; Silvertongued; Spell resistant; Wealthy. Flaws: Absent-minded; Addicted to X; Citybound; Deceptive; Disqualified; Dull sense; Enemy; Fragile; Sensitive.
Boons and Flaws
SpoilerGenerally, a Boon grants a bonus die for a specific type of task in a specific situation (roll three dice and pick the better two). A Flaw imposes a penalty die for a specific task in a specific situation (roll three dice and pick the worse two). Sometimes, Boons or Flaws are more complex. You can use your imagination to come up with Boons or Flaws for your hero. Some examples are presented below. Some of them are setting specific or are more complicated than ordinary Boons or Flaws.
Artistry - gain a bonus die to rolls for a specific artform, whether that be painting, sculpture, gemcraft, music, or dance.
Athlete - gain a bonus die to all forms of (non-combat) physical exertion.
Attractive - gain a bonus die to rolls when looks matter.
Alert - gain a bonus die to priority rolls.
Beastfriend - gain a bonus die when interacting with animals.
Blindsight - suffer no penalties to actions taken in darkness (including combat).
Brilliance - gain +1 to starting Mind; maximum starting Mind is 4.
Carouser - gain a bonus die to social tasks when drink is flowing.
Contacts (Career) - beyond just knowing the relevant skills and business practices and who's important or influential in the chosen career, your hero is on good terms with some of those people and can call in favors. Gain a bonus die when interacting with NPCs who have that Career.
Courtesy - gain +1 to starting Appeal; maximum starting Appeal is 4.
Deft - gain a bonus die for sleight of hand, pick pocketing, lock picking, juggling, fine craftwork, etc.
Drunken Master - gain a bonus die to a specific type of task rolls when intoxicated.
Escapist - nothing holds you for long; gain a bonus die to get out of difficult situations.
Evasive - your attackers roll a penalty die for attempts to hit you.
Forthright - you speak your mind plainly, and people trust you for it; gain a bonus die on any effort to convince someone of your point of view.
Gift of Battle - trade Career points for Ability points; maximum starting Ability rank is 4, maximum Career rank ever is 4.
Grace - gain +1 to starting Agility; maximum starting Agility is 4.
Hard to Kill - your attackers roll a penalty die for damage if they manage to hit you.
Immunity - you are immune to all diseases, even magical maladies.
Insight - gain a bonus die to detect falsehood.
Ironhanded - deal d6 unarmed damage.
Keen sense - gain a bonus die when using that sense (even passively); alternatively, an NPC trying to deceive that sense takes a penalty die.
Learned - you are wealthy in knowledge.
Might - gain +1 to starting Strength; maximum starting Strength is 4.
Moontouched - starting Arcane Power is 10 + Mind; use Arcane Power when the Moon is in the sky; regain Arcane Power and Lifeblood at moonrise; gain 1 Hero Point.
Non-Combatant - trade Ability points for Career points; maximum Ability rank ever is 4, maximum starting Career rank is 4.
Nose for magic - you are aware when magic happens, or has happened, nearby.
Poison resistance - gain a bonus die to resist intoxication or other poisoning.
Saddleborn - gain a bonus die to tasks involving riding beasts (other than fighting).
Seaborn - gain a bonus die to tasks aboard boats and ships (other than fighting).
Silvertongued - gain a bonus die when trying to persuade or deceive.
Sneaky - gain a bonus die for stealthy actions.
Spell resistant - impose a penalty die on anyone trying to cast a spell on you.
Suntouched - starting Arcane Power is 10 + Mind; use Arcane Power when the Sun is in the sky; regain Arcane Power and Lifeblood at sunrise; gain 1 Hero Point.
(Terrain)born - gain a bonus die to rolls for survival, foraging, tracking, or social tasks in the given terrain; "city" is an acceptable terrain type.
Vital - regain Lifeblood at sunrise and at moonrise.
(Weapon)friend - gain a bonus die to attack rolls with that type of weapon ("fist" is an acceptable weapon type and would grant a bonus die to all Unarmed attacks; "axe" or "sword" or "spear" would grant a bonus to that type of weapon in an Armed attack; "bow" or "sling" for Ranged attacks).
Wealthy - you have a significant income or vast inheritance; gain a bonus die when attempting to purchase things.
Absent-minded - when you urgently need an important fact or item, make a Mind roll to find out whether you forgot it.
Addicted to X (Compulsion) - when faced with X, make a Mind roll to resist the allure; if you succumb, make another Mind roll to determine whether you become available next time your comrades need you.
Addicted to X (Cravings) - every day you do not use a supply of X, make a Mind roll to resist your cravings; if you succumb, take a penalty die on all rolls for the rest of the day; the penalty die is relieved by partaking of X.
Apostate - formally despised by the Church of Moon and Sun, must make an Appeal roll to avoid confrontation when encountering a Priest.
Clumsy - -1 to starting Agility; take a penalty die on relevant rolls; maximum Agility or Ability ever is 4.
Deceptive - people just can't trust you; when a straight answer is needed, you're evasive and confusing; take a penalty die on efforts to persuade.
Disqualified (Career) - you have angered your colleagues by notoriously poor performance on a prestigious task; take a penalty die on all social tasks related to that Career.
Dull Sense - your sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch is subnormal in function.
Enemy (Career) - you have angered a competitor who works to oppose your interests in a particular Career.
Fear of X - in the presence of X, make a Mind roll to avoid taking a penalty die on all rolls until not in the presence of X.
Foolish - -1 to starting Mind; take a penalty die on relevant rolls; only 3 points for starting Careers; maximum Mind or Career rank ever is 4.
Foreign - unaccustomed to the mores of the Kingdoms, must make a task roll modified by the lower of Mind or Appeal in order to avoid offending NPCs at the first encounter.
Fragile - -1 to starting Strength; take a penalty die on relevant rolls; starting Lifeblood is 6 + Strength; maximum Strength ever is 4.
Honest to a Fault - you can't even utter white lies; take a penalty die on any effort to mislead or even be tactful.
Hunted - you angered someone who has the resources to recruit minions who are on the lookout for you; each time you enter a new populated area, the DM secretly rolls one die and on a roll of 1, an agent of your nemesis has found you.
Illiterate - you cannot read, write, or practice a Career that requires reading or writing.
Impoverished - you have difficulty purchasing things.
Maimed of X - take a penalty die whenever that body part would be important.
Proscribed - your name has been written in the Terminal Ledger of a Kingdom and you are subject to capture and execution; whenever you encounter an agent of the relevant Kingdom, make an Appeal roll to avoid attempts to enforce this fate.
Rude - -1 to starting Appeal; take a penalty die on relevant rolls; maximum Appeal ever is 4.
Sensitive to X - take a penalty die when exposed to X environmental stimulus.
(Terrain)bound - outside a particular terrain, you take a penalty die on survival, foraging, tracking, or social tasks. "City" is an acceptable terrain type.
SpoilerA hero's Careers define the hero's history - how they were raised and what they have done. Different cultures (Origins) interpret each career differently, and not all origins inculcate identical careers. For those who like Risus, a Career is kind of like a cliche. For those who like ODD, a Career is like a secondary skill.
Artist: making beautiful objects that aren't very useful; being pompous about Art; preserving a mystique of creativity; acting crazy and dramatic about their life's purpose and their relationships.
Assassin / Spy: sneaking around unobserved; not being remembered; gathering information by talking to people and watching people; killing a target quickly; getting away inconspicuously.
Barbarian: coming from an uncivilized place; knowing how to survive in the wilderness; being susceptible to intoxicants; ignoring proper city manners; eating hungrily; fighting fiercely.
Crafter (e.g., Baker, Brewer, Carpenter, Chandler, Mason, Smith, or Vintner): making and repairing a particular type of utilitarian object, structure, or provender; bargaining with customers and suppliers; running a business; maintaining tools of the trade.
Constable: steady and authoritative; patrolling to prevent crime; helping to find lost animals, children, and objects; investigating crimes; arresting people; enforcing the judgments of priests and nobles; using weapons.
Criminal: having no scruples; taking what you want from anyone; obviating barriers to access; evading capture or consequences; taking a beating; keeping your mouth shut; finding out what others want to hide.
Dancer or Tumbler: supple and athletic, performing to please others; taking pride in one's skills; rehearsing obsessively; promoting oneself and one's comrades; inspiring emotion in an audience.
Druid: worshipping the Moon or Sun or both; invoking Arcane Power to benefit others; opposing or ignoring the established gnomish Church.
Executioner / Torturer: grim and cruel; finding dark delight inflicting pain; carrying out the sentence.
Farmer: tilling the earth; planting the seed; tending the crop; harvesting produce; knowing the proper seasons; caring for livestock; slaughtering livestock; bargaining in markets; maintaining tools of the trade.
Fisher: finding the right place and time to set a line or drag a net; knowing how to wait; drinking; preparing and cooking fish; bargaining in markets; boating; making and mending nets, poles, baskets, and fish-spears.
Hunter: living in harsh conditions; tracking in tough terrain; pursuing prey without rest; taming and commanding animals; making, mending, and using spears and bows.
Jailer: being brutal and repressive; disdaining convicts; being self-important; knowing where the keys are; taking bribes for favors and leniency.
Laborer: doing the dirty jobs reliably; surviving dirt poor; doing what you're told; finding the laziest way to get it done; keeping good humor in tough times.
Mercenary: selling one's sword; changing allegiance according to fortune; killing effectively; looting and pillaging; carousing; expediently running away.
Merchant: transporting, buying, and selling the goods of craftsman and farmers; navigating by starlight; conveying payment from customers to suppliers; tending to draft animals; packing and supervising repairs to carts and boats; maintaining a market or shop; lending and borrowing money; haggling.
Minstrel: knowing and loving an instrument; having a beautiful voice; memorizing and recalling all sorts of verses and melodies; performing to please an audience; inspiring emotions in an audience; promoting oneself and one's comrades.
Noble: being important and wealthy; giving orders to servants; managing funds and property; spending lavishly; knowing one's manners for different occasions; having influential friends and enemies; conspiring and gossiping.
Physician / Surgeon / Dentist: being clever and wise; identifying and treating illnesses and injuries.
Priest: serving and exploiting the hierarchy of the gnomish Church; worshipping the Moon or Sun; invoking Arcane Power to benefit the Church.
Sailor: following and giving orders; maintaining, operating, and repairing ships and boats; navigating by sun, moon, and stars; reading wind and tide and water for safe passage; getting winesick, not seasick; bargaining for pay and passage; knowing the safer places in the dock dives.
Scholar: knowing the answers; knowing where to find the answers you don't already know; being reclusive; philosophizing; traveling great distances in search of answers; explaining things as if your audience is stupid; explaining things as if your audience knows way more than they really do.
Scoundrel / Temptress: seducing people; being generally manipulative; getting loans that turn into gifts; getting what you want by any means; leaving a swath of disappointment and turmoil.
Soldier: following and giving orders; marching long distances; standing watch; packing and camping efficiently; carousing; killing people.
Vagabond: hitting the road again; living rough; foraging for food and shelter in any condition; begging effectively; frightening people; scraping by somehow.
Warrior: menacing people; injuring others with body or weapons; exhibiting valor; feasting; obsessively practicing attacks and defenses.
Wizard: serving or evading the Church; commanding spirits of the Moon or the Sun; being mysterious and scary; researching secret names of spirits.
Attempting Tasks in Thran
SpoilerIn Thran, when a hero attempts a task the hero's player rolls
2d6 + relevant Attribute + relevant Career
and compares the result to a target number. If the roll equals or exceeds the target, the hero succeeds. Usually, the target number is 9 (for tasks that would be challenging for the unskilled). No roll is required if the task would not challenge the unskilled. If a hero does not even have rank 0 in any relevant Career, they are so clueless that they roll at -1 and are likely to screw things up somehow.
The target may be modified upward for exceptionally difficult tasks. The modifier is +1 if the task would be challenging for someone skilled in it, +2 if the task would be challenging for a master, +3 if the task would challenge the best in the city, +4 if the task would challenge the best in the kingdom, and +5 if the task would challenge the best in Thran.
Two special types of tasks are attack rolls and rolls for spellcasting.
The difficulty of an attack roll is
9 + target's Agility + target's Ability;
the attack roll is
2d6 + attacker's Agility + attacker's Ability.
The difficulty of a Wizard's spellcasting roll is
for a cantrip 9
for a first order binding 10
for a second order binding 12
for a third order binding 14
+ reduction in maximum Arcane Power cost or - increase in Arcane Power cost
- number of rituals accomplished;
the spellcasting roll is
2d6 + Mind + Wizard rank.
Assistance: Heroes may assist each other in attempting tasks. Each assistant who has a Career relevant to the task may roll two dice, and any die less than or equal to their Career rank is added to the principal hero's task roll (for an assistant with Career rank 0, just add 1 to the principal hero's roll). This applies equally to combat, although in that case, it is the relevant Ability rank that matters. Anyone assisting in spellcasting will spend Arcane Power that equals their contribution to the task roll, and the principal may distribute some of their own cost onto assistants.
Rolling a 2: a 2 always fails. If you choose to subject your hero to woe, you can make a roll of 2 a Calamitous Failure and narrate how badly things go wrong. The benefit of doing this is that your hero immediately regains 1 Hero Point.
Rolling a 12: a 12 always succeeds, even if the target number is greater than 12. If you roll a 12 when the target number is less than 12, this is a Mighty Success. Basically an ordinary success, plus an extra effect. The extra effect will depend on what type of task you were trying to achieve. You can spend 1 Hero Point to make an ordinary success a Mighty Success. If you already have a Mighty Success, you can spend 1 Hero Point to make it a Legendary Success (a Mighty Success, plus another Mighty Success).
Armaments and Combat in Thran
SpoilerCombat in Thran is resolved by making attack rolls (a special sort of task roll) to hit an opponent, and applying damage to the opponent's Lifeblood when an attack is successful.
Attack rolls are made in descending order of priority, which is rolled once at the beginning of combat as
2d6 + Initiative + Mind.
The target number for an attack roll is
9 + target's relevant Combat ability + target's Agility.
The roll itself is
2d6 + attacker's relevant Combat ability + attacker's Agility.
The relevant Combat ability is determined by what type of weapon the character is using. The three potential abilities are Unarmed, Armed, and Ranged. Either Unarmed or Armed can contribute to the target number for an attack that is directed at the character. If a character has a shield, they use their Armed ability.
A damage roll is
weapon dice + hero's Strength (or Agility for a finesse weapon).
There are six classes of weaponry in the Two Lands:
unarmed = d3;
light armed = d6L (lower of 2d6);
medium armed = d6;
medium ranged = d6;
heavy armed = d6H;
heavy ranged = d6H.
A light weapon is something wielded or thrown with one hand, easily concealable or innocuous, not war-like. Some light weapons are finesse weapons. A small shield is a light weapon; so is a dagger.
A medium weapon typically can be wielded with one hand, but generally is not concealable and is obviously intended for hurting people or animals. A large shield is a medium weapon; so is a smallsword, a rapier, a broadsword, a hatchet, a spear, a shortbow, or a sling.
A heavy weapon requires two hands (cannot be used with a shield) and is unquestionably meant to be deadly with a single blow. A greatsword, a war axe, or a longbow are heavy weapons.
There are three classes of armor:
light armor deducts 1 from damage received;
medium armor deducts 2 from damage received and also deducts 1 from Agility; and
heavy armor deducts 3 from damage received and inflicts a penalty die on Agility rolls (including attack rolls).
There are two classes of shields:
a small shield deducts 1 from attack rolls by or against you;
a large shield inflicts a penalty die on attack rolls by or against you.
Calamitous Failures for Combat: Lose your next action; Take a penalty die on your next attack; Grant a bonus die to the next attack against you; Lose your nerve and flee.
Mighty Successes for Combat: Gain an extra attack; Gain a bonus die to your next attack; Gain a bonus die to your damage roll; Impose a penalty die to the next attack against you; The target of your attack loses their next action; Your attack permanently detracts from your target's abilities; One ally of your target loses their nerve and flees.
Aggressive stance: Add 1 to your attack roll and to each opponent's attack against you.
All-out attack: Grant a bonus die to your attack roll and to each opponent's attack against you.
Bypass armor: Subtract the target's armor protection from your attack roll, but gain a bonus die to your damage roll and ignore armor protection if you hit.
Defensive stance: Subtract 1 from your attack roll and from each opponent's attack against you.
Sunder: Take a penalty die from your attack roll, on a successful attack you do no damage but you destroy your opponent's shield, armor, or weapon (pick one).
Total defense: Take a penalty die from your attack roll and from each opponent's attack against you.
Power of the Moon and Sun
SpoilerThran has a unique magic system that is neither strictly "arcane" nor "divine" in D&D terms. Instead, all the magic of the Three Kingdoms descends from the counterbalancing powers of the Moon and Sun.
The Moon is a mostly good-natured trickster who transforms himself each night and leaves the world in darkness once a month. His power transmutes, conceals, restores, amuses. He is the patron of researchers, physicians, entertainers, artists, hunters, fishers, sailors, and lawyers. His domains include, for example, love and sex, illness and recovery, pharmacy, deception, seduction and persuasion, natural death, creativity and madness, knowledge, bodies of water and air, and animals.
The Sun is straightforward, reliable, always the same, always on the verge of anger. Her power illumines, reveals, coaxes growth and gives life, but sometimes wreaks havoc. She is the patron of craftworkers, soldiers and nobility, farmers, laborers, and merchants. Her domains include, for example, plants, birth, hard truths, surgery and healing, dentistry, warfare and executions, growth, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, commerce, bodies of earth and fire, and all skilled trades.
Mystic characters access the powers of the Moon and Sun in different ways. Some are Priests, some are Druids, others are Wizards. All of them have Arcane Power but use and recover it in different ways. All of them must have one of the Moontouched or Suntouched Boons.
A mystic character's starting Arcane Power is
10 + Mind + highest rank in a mystic Career.
Priests: Priests are accepted as members of the religious and political structures that dominate the Three Kingdoms. Priests always are gnomes. They use their Arcane Power as Hero Points for themselves or other characters. All their uses of Arcane Power manifest according to the powers of the entity they have chosen, whether lunar or solar. By worshipping the Sun or Moon at a holy location, for some time immediately before sunrise or moonrise, a Priest can regain Arcane Power at sunrise or moonrise at a rate of 1 point per hour of worship. A Priest cannot worship effectively for longer than one hour more than their rank in the Career (a 0-ranked Priest can worship only for 1 hour). Longer periods of worship require more involved rituals:
1 hour can be silent meditation or prayer;
2 hours requires chanting and drawing of mandalas;
3 or more hours requires organizing a group of d6H worshippers to participate in chanting and mandalas;
5 or more hours also requires a sacrifice of d6H Lifeblood.
Druids: Druids are like outlaw Priests, usually gnomes but sometimes human. They automatically have the Apostate flaw and a counterbalancing second Boon. Their power is the same as that of Priests. Sometimes they are both Moontouched and Suntouched - a condition that is unthinkable for Priests.
Wizards: Wizards usually are gnomes but sometimes are human. Gnome wizards always serve the Priests. On the other hand, a human wizard often will have the Apostate Flaw. Wizards use their Arcane Power to attempt cantrips or bindings of first, second, or third order. The Wizard's Arcane Power is spent regardless whether they succeed at casting the cantrip or forming the binding. A Wizard recovers d3 Arcane Power at moonrise and/or sunrise (depending on how they are Touched), without having to perform any sort of rituals.
A wizard's cantrips and bindings are limited to aspects of their ruling deity - depending whether they are Moontouched or Suntouched, they can do different things. Cantrips and bindings can be formed in a short time, about as long as it might take to attack in combat. The defunct Tower of the Moon was constructed and maintained by second and third order bindings, which were disrupted during the assassination of King Bryce.
Cantrips: A cantrip urges a spirit of the Moon or Sun to perform a task that the wizard could do themself in a small amount of time. Casting a cantrip is simple even for a 0-ranked Wizard. The target difficulty is 9 and the cost in Arcane Power is the difference between the two dice rolled for the task.
First order bindings: A binding of the first order commands the spirit to complete, in the time that it takes to cast the binding, a task that could be done within the wizard's lifespan by a single skilled worker using appropriate tools. A first order binding is challenging for a Wizard of first rank. The target difficulty is 10 and the cost in Arcane Power is equal to the lower of the two dice rolled for the task.
Second order bindings: A second order binding compels the spirit to do something that could be accomplished by a natural process but not by an ordinary person, or to maintain an unnatural condition for as long as the wizard focuses their will on the binding. A second order binding is challenging for a Wizard of third rank. The target difficulty is 12 and the cost in Arcane Power is equal to the higher of the two dice rolled for the task. While concentrating on a second order binding, a wizard cannot recover the Arcane Power tied up in the binding.
Third order bindings: A binding of the third order constrains the spirit to continue a particular task or to assume a specific form for as long as the wizard lives, even if that task or form is beyond what is natural. A third order binding is challenging even for a Wizard of fifth rank. The target difficulty is 14 and the cost in Arcane Power is equal to the total of the two dice rolled for the task. When a third order binding has been made, the wizard cannot recover the Arcane Power of the binding without first dismissing it.
Trading difficulty for Arcane Power: Maximum Arcane Power cost can be reduced 1-for-1 (before rolling) by increasing the target difficulty of the roll for the cantrip or binding. The difficulty of a cantrip or binding can be reduced 1-for-1 (before rolling) by adding to the Arcane Power cost that is rolled. For example, a cantrip of difficulty 6 would cost 3 to 8 Arcane Power (0 to 5, plus 3); a cantrip of difficulty 12 would cost 0 to 2 Arcane Power (0 to 5, minus 3).
Mana burn (trading Lifeblood for Arcane Power): If the cost of a binding exceeds a Wizard's available Arcane Power, that cost is taken from the Wizard's Lifeblood.
Ritual (trading time for difficulty): By performing various rituals before casting a cantrip or forming a binding, a Wizard can reduce the difficulty of the cantrip or binding. Each ritual that is performed reduces the difficulty by 1.
chanting or gesturing (obvious technique) for d6L minutes;
establishing visual contact with the target;
holding an item that has had significant contact with the target;
drawing diagrams or mandalas for d6L hours;
ritual self-cleaning for d6L hours;
writing out the binding for d6H minutes;
reading the binding from notes for d6L minutes;
researching the binding for d6L days;
submitting to a personal ordeal or penance for d6L days.
Mighty Successes for Spellcasting: Arcane Power cost is one level less (i.e. a third order binding would cost only the higher of the two dice rolled); gain a bonus die to next spellcasting roll; this spell counts as a ritual toward casting next spell.
Calamitous Failures for Spellcasting: Arcane Power cost is one level more (i.e. for a third order binding roll an additional die and use the higher two); take a penalty die from next spellcasting roll; must perform at least one ritual to cast next spell.
Gaining Arcane Power (Priests, Druids, and Wizards): Advancement Points can be traded to increase a hero's maximum Arcane Power 1-for-1. Advancement Points will be discussed under Character Growth.
SpoilerLifeblood measures a hero's mortality - or that of any other character. It can be gained and lost through adventuring and can be recovered by resting during or between adventures. When Lifeblood drops to zero, a hero is incapacitated. If it drops below zero, the hero is dying and will be dead by the next sunset unless the hero's Lifeblood is restored above zero.
A hero's (or a villain's) maximum Lifeblood is
10 + Strength + highest rank in a martial Career.
A tough has d6H Lifeblood. A rabble has d6L Lifeblood.
Lifeblood is lost to injuries or illnesses, mundane or magical. Each injury in combat can take anywhere from 1-6 Lifeblood. An illness typically takes d6L Lifeblood at each sunset until cure or recovery. Recovery from an illness happens when the hero regains more Lifeblood at moonrise than they lost at the previous sunset.
One special type of injury is mana burn, which Wizards suffer when they form a binding that demands more Arcane Power than they possess. Then they trade Lifeblood for Arcane Power, one for one.
Each hero normally regains d3 Lifeblood at sunrise, if they were wounded, or at moonrise, if they are ill. A hero who is wounded and ill recovers only 1 Lifeblood at sunrise and 1 Lifeblood at moonrise. A hero at less than zero Lifeblood does not regain Lifeblood without treatment.
A successful treatment task roll by a physician can restore a hero at less than zero Lifeblood to Lifeblood equal to the physician's Career rank, or can increase a hero's rate of recovery by adding one Lifeblood and additional LIfeblood equal to the physician's Career rank; e.g., a Physician-3 can restore a near-dead hero to 3 Lifeblood, or can enhance a hero's recovery by 4 Lifeblood. Only one roll can be made per day no matter how many physicians attempt to treat the hero, and the physician must choose whether to treat illness or injury. Physicians can assist each other according to the normal rules.
SpoilerEach hero begins with 5 Hero Points. However, when a hero is built Hero Points can be exchanged 1-for-1 for Boons (subtract a point) or Flaws (add a point).
After a hero has been built, their remaining Hero Points can be spent during an adventure and are regained in full during the downtime between adventures.
When a Hero Point is spent during an adventure, the hero gains a favor from the Moon or Sun that helps them in their adventuring.
Typical favors include:
Celestial Luck: re-roll your most recent roll. Keep the second roll.
Cheat Death: if at less than zero Lifeblood, stabilize at zero and regain Lifeblood normally. To all observers the hero appears dead, so that no effort is wasted on a coup de grace.
Guided by Starlight: add a bonus die to your next roll.
Legendary Success: turn a rolled Mighty Success into a Legendary Success (two special results instead of one).
Mighty Success: turn a rolled success into a Mighty Success (a special result).
Shake off Wounds: immediately recover d6 Lifeblood.
Twist of Fate: state one fact that does not contradict established narrative. This fact becomes part of the world.
Growing a Hero
SpoilerThe issue of character advancement or self-improvement is (from a simulationist perspective) a glaring defect of roleplaying games generally - the idea that by engaging in a few hours or days of fast-paced action, one can immediately enhance one's strength or intelligence or professional skills.
Barbarians of Lemuria handles self-improvement in downtime, between adventures, and takes an indeterminate time that can be adjudicated by the GM. Adventuring gives a boost to self-improvement, in terms of 2 Advancement Points per adventure survived. The Advancement Points are awarded after the player narrates their hero's activities during the downtime following an adventure. An extra point is awarded for particularly creative uses of downtime, especially for a narrative that offers up a new adventure hook.
Character advancement works like this in Thran, as well. Advancement Points may be traded (during extended downtime) for enhancements to Attributes, Careers, or Combat Abilities, to buy a new Boon, or to get rid of a Flaw when that makes sense.
gaining a Boon or a Hero Point costs 1 Advancement Point plus 1 for the first Boon that the hero has already, plus 2 for the second Boon, etc. (so gaining a third Boon, or gaining a Hero Point for a hero with two Boons, would cost 4 Advancement Points);
buying off a Flaw costs the same as gaining a Boon (so a hero with 2 Boons would pay 4 Advancement Points to buy off a Flaw);
gaining one rank in an Attribute costs Advancement Points = new rank (so going from rank 3 to rank 4 costs 4 Points);
gaining one rank in a Career or Combat Ability costs Advancement Points = old rank, minimum 1 (going up one rank from -1, 0, or 1 will cost 1 Point, going from rank 3 to rank 4 will cost 3 Points);
downtime is about 1 month for the first Point that is spent, about 2 months for the second Point, 3 for the third, etc. (so about 10 months to go from rank 3 to rank 4 in an Attribute, or about 6 months in a Career or Combat Ability).
Last edited by Tibbius; 2020-01-10 at 11:32 AM. Reason: opened for commentsProfile
"I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile."..."I know what youíre thinking now. Youíre thinking 'Oh my god, thatís treating other people with respect gone mad!'" - Neil Gaiman
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"I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile."..."I know what youíre thinking now. Youíre thinking 'Oh my god, thatís treating other people with respect gone mad!'" - Neil Gaiman
DTRPG and itch
The Knife - Fusils, Swords, and Alchemy! Long reign the Queen!