Friday, April 14, 2017

Review of Veins Of The Earth

Patrick Stewart's Veins of the Earth is now available, after years of bated breath you can purchase the PDF here or, if like myself you prefer physical items, from the LotFP store.

I devoured the PDF version yesterday, unable to patiently wait for hardcover. Here are some of my initial impressions of the content. I may end up appending a review of the physical copy to this once it arrives from Finland.

This work is huge (300+ pages) and ambitious. It was worth the wait, and here are some of my thoughts:

After a brief introduction, the book jumps straight into a bestiary containing fifty-one underworld adversaries. Any reader familiar with Patrick/Scrap Princess’ previous work Fire On The Velvet Horizon (my lulu-replacing hardcover just arrived and it’s quite fetching) will know that monsters written/illustrated by this team are not your usual spear-fodder. They are though-provoking, captivating, and occasionally campaign inspiring. The largest difference here is probably the presentation. Unlike FotVH, Stat Blocks have been provided (largely linqua franca, and I do enjoy the AC notation of “Plate” or “Chain and Shield” rather than attempting to accommodate both the descending/ascending crowd). Another interesting item is a line for each creature noting it’s methods of seeing, which is very handy to have on hand given the light-based innovations to initiative presented later in the book. An additional welcome inclusion is sensory descriptions of most monsters beyond the visual. Sounds and Smells are frequently described in evocative detail, vitally important for situations where the visible spectrum may be limited or unavailable, but also great for incorporating organic traces and warnings for random encounters in the deep and establishing a more sensuous/less-visual descriptive corpus.

There are some very intriguing entries here, and the choice to begin the book with a bestiary is sound. This section very quickly imparts the reader with a sense that the world that contains these creatures is vastly different than the surface. Motivations, methods of predation/ecology, and physiology are all impacted by the deep and this stays in the forefront throughout VEINS. These creatures really help establish the alien expectations of the setting much more swiftly than attempting to telegraph the otherness of the underworld via several paragraphs of information. As for some examples: We have comic-relief Cambrimen, humanoid Olm, and the tragically noble Trilobite Knights. As we’ve seen previously in FotVH, there are some incredible campaign-centerpiece foes:  challenging ones that an intrepid Vein Master would have no difficulty basing an entire campaign around. I’m looking at you AntiPheonix and Civilopede, but I also adore the due-diligence geo-political ramification brainfood the Castillian Caddis Larvae description includes.



An artist gave Caddis Larva gold and precious gems to construct their cases:




This one is the size of a bus and uses gold and the steel of magic weapons.



Following the bestiary, there is another setting-sending chapter on some civilizations/cultures one could encounter in the VEINS. There are thankfully no drow and therefore no dreary Drizzt surrogates to clog your VEINS. Gone is the unfortunate evil matriarchy and arachnid worship. More than a stand-in, the Ælf-Adal could still be used by the lazy and uncreative to fulfill the role, but their motivations and origins are far more interesting. There’s an awesome flowchart to help illustrate the mindset of the Dvargir (deeper dwarfs), and the dErO receive a positively pitch-perfect, Shaver-riffic treatment in their schizophrenic section.

Again, the initial chapters work well to help engross the reader in some of the stark differences that adventures in the VEINS will entail. This is a world where cannibalism is a matter of course, light is money, and money is time.

Speaking of Light, the next chapter addresses its importance (both mechanically and flavorfully) in detail. We are given some advice on how to handle the different modes of vision in traditional fantasy games (spoiler alert: light still generally wins), a sound new way of handling initiative underground based on light source, some achingly prepossessing sample lanterns and the first appearance of an exciting new mechanical procedure that sees significant use in VEINS. For lack of a better name, I’m dubbing it the All Ability Score Check.

This first appears in the section “When Lost In The Dark” (love the implication, not if, but when). The basic gist is a PC is chosen as an actor or guide and a d20 is rolled and compared to each of their Ability Scores/Statistics in sequence, with the specific consequences tied to the failure of a specific stat. This has some pretty interesting and broad applications as a mechanic, and I like it much better than a standard Skill-Check, because it incorporates interesting degrees of failure. Here’s an example of how this works (not from the book, just something I whipped up for illustrative purposes).



Table: Swimming a Sump with a Light Source (VEINS p. 226)
Stat Fail
Constitution All further fails cumulative
Strength Dropped Gear. Lose Half Equipment
Dexterity A limb is caught, will take margin of failure rounds to free.
Intelligence Unanticipated current. Pushed further and faster than expected (d6 x margin of failure feet)
Wisdom Disoriented in an Air Pocket. Lost, don’t know how to get back.
Charisma Group Separated. Even upstream, Odd downstream. Hope both groups have light.
Typically, the first failure on the list (except for the cumulative Constitution failure) interrupts the sequence of resolution.


This procedure is wonderful, and is used throughout for things like exploration and climbing that have a degree of danger and physicality instead of just a single skill check. They are dangerous, and enforce difficult choices and player’s carefully planning and thinking very hard about their strengths and weaknesses before deciding on a course of action or the actor/guide who will lead them through a challenge. This is the first I’ve seen it used (please let me know if this shows up elsewhere), but it’s really quite lovely.

In the next section is a custom VEINS Character Sheet that places some of the key perils of subterranean peregrination where it should be: front and center. Encumbrance is always an easily hand-waved subsystem, but here we find another add-on to the already easy to adjudicate LotFP standard system. On the VEINS sheet, each Stat (save Charisma) can grant a bonus item or so that you can carry comfortably. The sheet itself will likely soon be available on the LotFP website, so I’m refraining from reproducing it here, but suffice to say it really puts the appropriate attention on how Encumbrance interacts with the different movement modes and allows for very quick “eye-ball checks” of what a character would have on them NOW. UPDATE: VEINS Character Sheet. Climbing rules also receive prominent placement (prognosticating the frequency at which they will likely be invoked) and the addition of the Lamp section enforces the importance of Light. The autopsy of the character sheet segues nicely into the sections on Exploration and Climbing/Falling.

Some real procedural meat follows in the section on Generating the VEINS. Cavern and cave-mapping in traditional games has always been lacking the crucial three-dimensional aspect of cave exploration and the mapping methods outlined here attempt to address this in a novel, abstract way. I’ve yet to actually kick the tires, but it seems simple and sound enough with a bit of practice. A great boon is the Example provided in the Appendix of the book, which takes the reader step-by-step through the procedures and was very helpful for wrapping my brain around some of the more extreme cartographic paradigm shifts (like quadrants representing above/below). The map notation methods used seems serviceable, but the tables included here are incredible. There is a d50 “mix and match/read-across” table of Cave Shape/Kinds of Stone, a fantastic Smells & Sounds table (I still need to get around to posting about my Yoon-Suin smells procedures) and a d100 Encounter table full of session saving inspiration.

But the best is really saved for last here, with 100 individual cave descriptions, all replete with Patrick’s evocative style. They sometime assault the mind’s eye and hurt the brain but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I found myself re-reading several and concentrating on dredging up whispy memories of a wonder-filled and simultaneously terrifying visit to Carlsbad Caverns when I was very young. I vividly recall a point in the tour when they turned out all the lights and left us silent in the utter dark for a few moments (the Appendix section on the different kinds of Darkness resurrected this memory, and there are some interesting 4th wall breaking ideas here).

The next chapter contains interesting items, treasures and new “Speleo Spells” tailored for a subterranean campaign. I envy Patick’s ability to write about artwork in a stimulating way within the “One Hundred Treasures of The Civilopede” section.

The final proper chapter deals with the gnawing, persistent Hunger and looming madness that await explorers of the VEINS. The procedures outlined for dealing with Rations are a welcome departure from the meticulous tick-mark record keeping and long shopping-sprees that come from tracking consumables to the meal. Marching a provision-laden mule through the intensely anti-navigable VEINS is foolhardy, and would probably just serve as a supper invitation for Spotlight Dogs. Instead we’re presented with a simple three-stage minimal system that oozes gravity. You will be hungry, cannibalization becomes mechanically attractive (informing play), and starvation is a very real danger. It once more stresses that the act of exploring the VEINS necessitates travelling light and is dangerous to the body (in more ways than one). The remainder of the chapter (save a small section on Hypothermia) deals with the gifts the VEINS can bestow upon said body (in the form of mutations/adaptations) and damage to mental state. The treatment of cave madness within VEINS is excellently chilling.

Now a word about the art. This book is absolutely brimming with illustrations and paintings by Scrap Princess. The style will be familiar to any readers who are familiar with the Deep Carbon Observatory, or FotVH. It is fluid, frenetic, and frequent, with some extremely lovely colored frontspiece paintings sprinkled between chapters. Every. Monster. Is. Illustrated. Some more than once, and even though your sensibilities may veer more toward the traditional when it comes to more typically prolix RPG artwork, this style marries quite well with the text in my option. Things in the VEINS are rarely static, and rarely seen with any detail, the impressions conveyed by the illustrations and paintings work well to convey the sometimes-unsettling desperation that pervades this extensive ecosystem. I cannot wait to see some of these pieces within their proper context within a physical book, because artwork of this frequency has another very underrated and added benefit: It is bookmarks.

I can often navigate an RPG book to locate a specific table or rule/procedure by its proximity/placement to artwork. Physical bookmarks quickly become redundant or fall out and dogearing makes me sad. Instead, I can zip directly to the information I need with a simple scan and the thumb/forefinger rapid page-flip, stopping when I see art that I know to be near the object of my intent. I really believe that the sheer amount of distinctive artwork within VEINS will really facilitate the location of information for reference.

I’ll admit that the style itself may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it’s a welcome change from the recycled Sidney Sime/Public Domain chestnuts or artists who only seem to ape Elmore or clumsily imitate Franzetta. I do tend to prefer art that springboards the imagination, to art that seems shoved in for the sake of breaking up text or contaminates the mind’s eye with a specific gloss or vocabulary. Scraps’ art evokes more than dictates, it forces the reader to fill in blanks, which is what a good Vein Master should probably be practicing at every opportunity.

It’s a very good read, even on screen (which is something I seldom have any desire to do).  The layout is lovely.  The PDF proved to be well-crafted, bookmarked, and has a robust index. If you are interested in running games that extend below the surface, I’d put this on a must-have list for the sheer amount of inspiration and research it condenses alone. Your player’s will not crawl out the same way the marched in.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review of Perdition

I received my copy of Perdition from Lulu a few days ago, and wanted to share a few thoughts. I don’t normally review things, so bear with me.

I like it. It smells good. I liked the PDF enough to whip up a character sheet:


I tend to do this for new systems/games frequently, since the Character Sheet is an important component of how the Player ends up experiencing the game. Even if a talented Game Master/Agonarch can reliably hijack the interceding nerve receptors for imaginary eyes/ears/tongues/noses during play, Character Sheets are still the silver cord that ties the player to the plane of play.

The catechistic act of creating a Character Sheet is also often the easiest way for me to develop a deeper understanding of the mechanics and system. This is especially useful for something that diverges quite a bit from traditional D&D ruleset like Perdition. Not too far mind you, just far enough that falling back to previous system experience could result in the reader failing to implement important and interesting bits.

Here are a few thoughts:

Setting as Mechanics is an ambitious goal, and this is one of the first attempts I’ve seen and more importantly enjoyed. I’ve personally grown quite weary of books bogged down with setting information that never seems to be truly player accessible. The alternative (“just rules”) is usually completely devoid of setting, and this genericism can leave one uninspired. Perdition isn’t strictly an attempt to compromise between these methods, nor is it a hybridization of both approaches, it’s a novel and artful mutation from standard presuppositions of what a role-playing game book should do.

In Perdition the pitch is short, to the point, and although the premise may not appeal to every table, it is expertly telegraphed through the choices players make as they generate their characters, the equipment list, and codified within how the rules are invoked.

The discovery of Perdition's setting is one that takes place incrementally throughout, for as one encounters new rules and mechanics these in turn perform a double duty by dovetailing directly into the world. A game that treats “Wickedness” as an Ability Score or features rules for adjudicating Infernal Contracts immediately intimates some stark setting implications.

This process of setting exploration as one reads through the rules was pleasurable to me. Perusing Perdition for setting acquaintanceship is akin to eating an artichoke. You start on the outside, pulling off petals and scraping the small pulpy portion between your teeth for a trifling taste of the heart here and there. With each ensuing bract, you’re getting more to ruminate.

This is not to say the setting is spoon-fed or parsimoniously trickled out, it’s simply persistently present within the very tools you will be using to play the game, as opposed to padding the page-count with prose. Setting investiture for players needs these sorts of short cuts. Handouts or homework seldom work for the majority of gaming groups. Perdition's lack of roadside attraction fluff-prose may be a bit jarring at first, but the sly marriage of mechanics and setting consecrated here is a very elegant way to arrive at the destination.

To reiterate: This isn't an "implied setting" in any sense, it percolates throughout, emulsified within the rules you use to explore the very world portrayed. It's nifty that way.

I also appreciate the candor of voice, and any reader of Courtney’s blog probably has at least a passing familiarity with his writing style. Perdition’s text is refreshingly frank and uncompromising, especially in terms of the tidbits of advice for the Agonarch incorporated throughout. There's even a bit of humor here and there.

It’s the primary tone of the text that could cause some to ruffle quills at a perceived didacticism creeping in intermittently, but I think it’s important to read on, and see that the motives behind the occasional sweeping intransigent statement are frequently succinctly provided. This is quite nice. Rather than simply admonishing the reader to “Do this” there are frequent explanations as to the “why it’s important.” I don’t find it condescending – it’s an improvement over the normal homebrew heartbreaker, which can sometimes err on the side of almost too chummy elbow-rib-jabbing. This in turn can result in something that may be easy to read, but is either honeycombed with lacuna or largely consists of prosaic and repetitive advice for its own sake.

I’d be remiss to fail to mention that there are also some contributions from the exceptional Arnold K. I could be mistaken, but his fingerprints seem to be all over the especially evocative Fiendish Patrons. The accompanying illustrations had a cockle-warming familiarity to them at first glance, and imagine my surprise to discover they were by none other than the marvelous Russ Nicholson. It's one of many examples of a lovely interblending of the new and old here.

I tend to find insight into the design process to be useful and fascinating, and would like to see more of it. Anyone familiar with some of the great things to come out of game development over the last several years with the Old School Renaissance will  see some things that hearken to it. I particularly liked the “Sombreros May Be Splintered” permutation. 

Even if the recommendations and rules are not all new and groundbreaking, they are still a bit like the joy of discovering a new pocket in an old overcoat. Perdition provides a splendid blend between the old, comfortable familiarity of this style of play alongside multiple neoteric and thought-provoking morsels.

I’m still digesting, but so far my gripes are surprisingly few and mostly on the side of nit-picky. I enjoy the implementation of Physical and Mental Hit Die, and Struggles may finally be the grappling/psionic rule solution I loot first.

The near-symmetry of some things system-wise may prove a minor bother though, as some may be spoiled by more unified mechanics. This came to light in the character sheet design, as I noticed that some components of the system clicked in ingeniously similar ways, but others still stood out, seemingly disconnected at first glance.

I understand why there are no Social Hit Dice, or a true Social Armor Class to compliment the Physical and Mental counterparts, but this may seem to some a little like a missed opportunity to streamline the ruleset a little further. Still, I do feel that the persistence of the 2D6 bell curve and Courtney’s excellent previous work mechanizing Social Interaction with the Reaction Roll and Social Encounters in On the Non-Player Character are important, and this lack of unification doesn’t come across as a tall poppy or proud nail. Most fans of the older games are not averse to the inclusion of subsystems, and like the wonderful dice-pool Magic System, it helps set these “attack types” apart. In a good way.

Could it be raided for new rules/ideas? Absolutely. Grab the PDF if you are curious and I think there are some Free Basic Rules in the works. There are several very interesting and different approaches within this book (I’m still wrapping my head around the way Initiative Dice are handled) and most will fit in fine with D&D of all flavors, streamlining where necessary and elsewhere plugging directly into the chassis where additional subsystems are wanted. Is it possible to reskin or extract all the underlying rules and run this game using a different setting? I don’t really think so. The truly intriguing thing about Perdition is how intrinsically symbiotic most of the the mechanics seem to be to the setting, and I fear that the painstaking process of extracting one from the other wouldn’t result in anything with near as much flavor and function. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Skill Systems: Tweaking "The Middle Road"

Inspired to stitch together this post out of my languishing House Rules document by this post over on Papers & Pencils.

I also like to use The Middle Road approach, with a few modifications:

Skill Rating
Skill Die/Dice
UNABLE
1d4
ROOKIE
1d6
NOVICE
1d8
VERSED
1d10
EXPERT
1d12
MASTER
2d6
LEGEND
3d6

The Ratings are expanded a little bit, success is still on a 5 or more (making UNABLE impossible for the player without circumstantial modifiers...which are generally kept low/stingy). The bell-curve comes into play with MASTER which really increases the chance of success, but with a cost.

I don't tie skill improvement to level in any meaningful way most of the time. This is mostly to mitigate the “20 HD MASTER Blacksmith NPC” and “I gained a level and am suddenly an EXPERT at Tracking” issues, although Thief classes and formal training-as-cash/time-siphon can open up some additional improvement avenues during downtime with some good fictional explanations. Instead I like to tie Skill Rating improvement to actual play.

Any successful Skill Roll (5+) prompts for another skill roll immediately, and on a maximum die/dice result, the first letter of the next Rating is written down. Once you spell it out, you've achieved the next Rating (this is why all Ratings have 6 letters).

This has diminishing returns: It becomes more difficult to improve/master a skill as you get better as the chances of success increase, the chances of rolling the maximum also decrease. I also like that improvement is actually tied to Doing the thing, so players are encouraged to attempt it, even if the odds may not be great (Practice makes perfect!).

Skill Rating
Success Chance
Improve Chance
UNABLE
-
25%
ROOKIE
33.3%
16.67
NOVICE
50%
12.5%
VERSED
60%
10%
EXPERT
66.7%
8.33%
MASTER
83.33%
2.78%
LEGEND
98.15%
.46%

 If it's too harsh, you could also allow improvement on a “max roll” on the attempt itself, but this could possibly increase the speed of advancement a bit and homogenize expertise more quickly.
Thief types have some additional Rating advancement options to help protect their niche, and to ameliorate the malevolence of the fickle dice gods. Upon gaining a level, the Thief may choose one:
  •                 Immediately Roll on All Skills for a Letter
  •                 Three free letters to be distributed to any skill or skills the player chooses.

If they are part of a guild structure, they may also have easier access to Teacher/Mentor types for certain, non-competitive skills.

If you use class-based XP advancement (with faster advancing Thieves), another option is to allow Thief types the option of immediately spending 100 XP for an additional improvement roll on a Skill success. But my feeling is generally these Classes will likely be making the most Skill attempts anyway, their opportunities for improvement occur more often.

Another option for all classes is to seek out a Teacher/Mentor of a higher Skill Rating in the same skill that is amenable to training the character (often an adventure in itself once you’re seeking EXPERTs and above). After a week of downtime training, the Teacher rolls their Skill die/dice, and on a success the player is permitted to make a Skill roll.

If successful (over 5), they gain 1 letter, if unsuccessful they lose a letter as they have to shed or “unlearn” bad technique. If they roll the maximum (as for standard improvement), they gain 1 letter for each step in Rating difference (so a MASTER would grant the NOVICE three letters). This can be repeated (within reason, and time/resources permitting…training isn’t always cheap or free…I enjoy quest-dispensing Mentors), until the Teacher fails their Skill Roll, or the player reaches the Rating directly below the Teacher. At which point, the Teacher has no new wisdom to impart the student. I’d probably also prevent further training if a player is ever reduced to UNABLE in this way due to poor rolls. No risk, no reward.

Another option is to make the player hunt down a Teacher/Mentor with not only sufficient higher Rating in the Skill the player wishes to train, but also a TEACHER skill high enough to reduce the chances of failure. By using the TEACHER skill to transfer knowledge, instead of the skill itself the learning process becomes much more dicey. This makes finding a good Teacher almost as important as a proficient one. 

All starting characters receive 1 Skill at NOVICE based on Background, they can improve this skill to VERSED and/or take another at NOVICE by taking a voluntary UNABLE in a Skill (max 2 UNABLE skills). Anything else attempted is done at the ROOKIE rating. I’ve toyed with the idea of replacing/supplementing Ability Score modifiers with additional skills or letters (so someone with a -2 in Strength has to take two UNABLE skills involving Strength… or  someone with a +3 in Dexterity gets three free Ratings or letters to a skill or skills involving DEX). Thieves get more starting skill options, but I’ll probably need to cover that in a separate Class post.

I do still really like the idea of a Skill system emphasizing what the player's Can't Do rather than what they can (which I touched on here)...to prevent that character sheet paralysis that occurs with really granular skill systems and an invisible DC. When the odds of success are telegraphed to the player with everything they can attempt they may not even attempt the thing. Even though very little resolution is intended to be Player Facing in older versions of D&D (I touch on this problem in this ancient post), when improvement is tied to attempts, players may be more likely to try.

I briefly flirted with expanding Ratings a bit more, but I'm still not sure of the die/dice I would use:

ROOKIE              
TAUGHT
NOVICE              
TESTED             
ADROIT
VERSED
EXPERT             
MENTOR           
MASTER             
LEGEND             
SAVANT


As always, I’m open to thoughts/suggestions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Spending, Clerics: Third Level Shrines

Third Level Shrines


o   Primary Benefit: Level 3 Cleric/Druid Spells
o   Activate: Turning Check vs Vampire
o   Area of Influence: 1 Hex


Level Three Shrines are generally impressive and elaborate structures, sometimes easily exceeding 50 square feet in area. Almost always featuring a building of some sort (get your Stronghold Building Rules handy) or simply massive in scale (think Stonehenge).


o   Level Three Shrine Components:

In addition to requiring an Altar valued at least 2,000 gold pieces (usually metal and etched/decorated, but expensive/imported stone is acceptable for Druids), and at least 5,000 gold pieces invested in statuary/stonework (as Level Two Shrines), they nearly always also include at least one or more of the following very expensive features:


Components
Cost (in gold pieces)
Finely Carved Stone Columns,
religiously significant number
5,000 each
Stained Glass of breathtaking beauty:
2,500 per window
Bronze/Metal Statuary
triple price of the 2nd Level Shrine Prices
Brobdingnagian Statuary/Menhir/Dolmen
ten times the 2nd Level Shrine Prices
Add-Ons
Cost (in gold pieces)
Apply gilding
+500 gold pieces per square foot of surface area
Inlay with Gems or Precious Stones:
+50 gold pieces each (does not include price of gemstones, which add value/count as money spent)
Attract Treant Attendant (can animate other trees in defense of the Shrine)  
+10,000 gold pieces and a major adventure
Embed sentient Undead (up to Vampire)
Go find one. Fee is negotiable and typically quite dear.


The exorbitant prices are intentional. The ramifications of “free” Cure Disease, Remove Curse, and Call Lightning Spells bear careful consideration. 

Level Three Shrines take at least a week to construct per 1,000 gold pieces used in their construction, and as with all Shrines must be thrice-Blessed Daily (only first and last Blessing need be provided by the Character). The extensive amount of time and manpower required to construct a Level Three shrine can create something akin to a tiny hamlet near the Site during construction, with all the associated and mouths to feed and inevitable threats to face down.
o   Third Level  Shrine Offerings:


In addition to the typical offerings above for Shrine Levels 1 and 2 (which are required to be worth at least 10 gold pieces and 20 gold pieces respectively, and are not optional), the following sample Offering types are appropriate for a Level Three Shrine:


Typical Level Three Offerings (value by type)
Silver, Gold or Electrum Religious Crafts (should be valued at least 30 gold pieces)
Livestock (at least 30 gold pieces in value, at least 3 HD worth)
Sacrifice/Bloodshed (1HD, or at least 3d6 HPs worth of self-inflicted bloodshed)


To Cast or Benefit from the Spell:  Make a Turning Check versus 8 HD (as Vampire) with a bonus of +1 per 30 gold pieces/3 HD/3d6 HP spent on Votive Offerings (they are burnt/destroyed/consumed in the process). If successful, the altar grants the prayer. This ability can be activated once per month period for every 1,000 gold pieces spent in the construction of the Shrine (minimum one, and 30,000+ gold pieces investment will make it a daily Shrine).
     
Optional Secondary Benefit: As long as the Cleric is within one hex of a given Shrine that they’ve created they also enjoy a +3 to Reaction Rolls (as long as Alignment is at least a single step away).


Optional Tertiary Benefit: In addition pick one of these options when the shrine is constructed (these benefits also only function within one hex of the Shrine, and only if an offering was made to the shrine within 24 hours):
  • All of Turning Checks versus Undead made by your faith are made with 2d12 instead of 2d6.
  • All “naturally occurring” and animated undead are turned as 3 category higher.
  • You are no longer subject to Surprise.

o   Third Level Shrine Influence:


Level Three Shrines of opposing faiths/pantheons cannot be constructed within one hex of each other. Any lower level Shrines of Opposing faiths within a hex cease to function as long as the value of their construction is exceeded by this one.


Shrines of this Level also begin passively attracting Pilgrims and Permanent Attendants and can even be used a source of income (Oh drat, more money to spend!) for the more unscrupulous types. Pilgrimage is another Player money-spending scheme I’ll try to cover in a future post, but until then:


Chance To Attract Pilgrims: cumulative 5% each time the shrine is activated, I’d just use Rules Cyclopedia Nomads (Page 193). This resets every season.


Chance to Attract an Attendant: cumulative 1% each time Shrine is activated. This resets if the attendant is driven off or slain. Typical Attendants are Clerics of the Shrine’s faith, of a minimal level of six.


This is also when Shrines typically start garnering attention from Petty Gods. Add one to the Random Encounter Table for this hex/area.

Third Level Shrines very often also become part of the Reliquary/Relic Circuit (to be covered in Pilgrimage).

Level Three Shrines with attendants that have attracted Pilgrims have a tendency to accumulate Treasure as Type U in the form of donations, melted slag metal from offerings, etc. Check once a month. This money is typically funneled back into offerings and upkeep for the Shrine, but many a spendthrift Cleric has had to raid their Shrine’s coffers in desperation.