Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Use This In Your Games: The White Mage Cleric Archetype

I'm getting ready to release the Enchantments of Black Tokyo mega-sourcebook, and I thought I'd preview one of the new caster-class archetypes from the book: The White Mage. This rebuild of the Cleric is a very simple but comprehensive archetype that makes the class play like the venerable 'white mage' of JRPGs like Final Fantasy.

Give it a read, play test it a bit, and if you like feel free to include it in your OGL works. Unlike other Black Tokyo content, the White Mage is completely non-erotic, and is based more around gaming tropes than hentai or folklore.

Cleric: White Mage Archetype
            The White Mage archetype creates a protective and compassionate master of positive energy, abjuration and healing. The archetype has its origins in JRPGs, particularly the long running Final Fantasy series and its many imitators. White Mages are more similar to Shinto shrine maidens than they are to the heavily armored, crusading templars that inspired traditional Clerics.

            Weapons and Armor Proficiency
            The White Mage is proficient with no form of armor and with no type of shield. If the White Mage chooses to wear armor, she suffers a chance of spell failure equal to the armor’s standard arcane failure chance. Effects that reduce arcane failure chance also reduce the White Mage’s divine failure chance.
            The White Mage is proficient with simple weapons and with her deity’s favored weapon.

            Spell Focus (abjuration)
            White Mages gain Spell Focus (abjuration) as a bonus feat. This ability replaces the cleric’s normal Weapons and Armor Proficiency.

            Channel Energy (SU)
            The White Mage must channel positive energy, and must be any non-evil alignment. The White Mage may also expend a daily use of her Channel Energy to create a White Barrier, described below. 

            White Barrier (SU)
            The White Mage can summon a gleaming ivory wall of force that protects her friends. Glowing Goetic mystical diagrams and holy sigils appear in the air around the White Barrier, hinting at its amazing protective properties.

            The White Barrier is a powerful abjuration effect that protects its recipients from physical and occult harm. The White Mage creates a White Barrier as a standard action, and doing so expends one of her daily uses of Channel Energy.

            The White Barrier remains in effect for a number of rounds equal to the dice of the White Mage’s channel energy class ability. Thus, a 9th level White Mage Cleric, who channels 5d6 points of energy, creates a White Barrier that remains in place for 5 rounds.

            The White Mage can extend the White Barrier to protect a number of allies equal to 3 + her WIS modifier. The allies must be within 30 ft of the White Mage and she must be able to clearly see them, though they can move out of this area once the White Barrier is created.

            While the White Barrier is active, recipients gain a deflection bonus to AC equal to twice the dice of the White Mage’s cleric channel energy class ability. Furthermore, they gain Spell Resistance equal to 10 + the White Mage’s cleric class level. The White Barrier is an abjuration effect with a caster level equal to the White Mage’s class level.

            White Mage Spell List
            The White Mage is dedicated to protection and healing.

            Remove all direct damage inflicting spells from the Cleric’s spell list, such as Flame Strike, as well as any spell with the Death or Evil descriptors.

            The White Mage gains access to all abjuration spells from any arcane spell list. These are considered divine spells when cast by the White Mage.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Time GMing: RIFTS

            My first time gaming was also my first time GMing, by the simple expedient that I was the one who owned the rulebook. My first RPG was RIFTs, purchased ahead of  the bigger name Dungeons and Dragons because of the awesome ads Palladium used to run in Marvel Comics, the ones that (very briefly) described the game with an accompanying illustration of either a pack of Dog Boys led by a Coalition Psi-Stalker or one robot crushing another robot’s skull. Yeah. I had no idea what Line Walkers, Juicers, Crazies or Dog Boys were, but they sounded a fuck of a lot more exciting than fighter, mage, thief.

            This was sixth or seventh grade, and for my first session, it was just myself and a single player, my oldest friend, Erik. The next year we’d find some other folks to join the game, but we played one on one for a while. Looking over the rule book, we both decided that for our first time out of the box, we wouldn’t try playing in Rifts Earth, just because that was a whole lot of cultural and world information to keep straight, all the while learning the basic mechanics of the game, and the whole concept of role-playing games in general. So I cobbled together a homebrew world, which was in many ways a precursor to Otherverse America.

            At this point, neither Erik nor myself had read any William Gibson and didn’t know the word cyberpunk, but we’d both seen plenty of James Bond movies, Robocop and very recently, a bootleg VHS tape of Bubblegum Crisis, and that was what I was going for. So first game session, and I’m homebrewing a campaign world. I decide it’s the 2020s, and Erik’s character (a high tech private detective type) would be infiltrating a mega-corp. His character by the way was another homebrew, if a fairly minor one- a City Rat’s skillset and outlook, equipped with a set of SAMAS powered armor, because we both really wanted to try out all the cool equipment.

I’d just finished reading Michael Crighton’s Rising Sun, and I stole the novel’s Nakamoto Tower setting and related mega-corp as the villains. The basic premise: Nakamoto was on the verge of a technological break through, and a rival mega-corp wanted the tech, and wanted Nakamoto’s own research sabotaged. In other words, the prototypical cyberpunk plot, but it worked.

Anyway, I learned my first lesson of GMing that day, that the players never do what you expect them to do. Once Erik’s City Rat was assigned the mission, I expected he’d either barge in guns blazing or else stealth his way in. Instead, he did something fucking absolutely brilliant. Using a false identity and some of the advance he got for the job, he simply rented some office space in the Nakamoto Tower! Now, while he was still several floors away from Nakamoto’s secured research facility, he had a legitimate reason to be in the building. He made up a dummy corporation on the spot, even hired a cute secretary to keep up appearances (and yes, later in the session he had a chance to bang her. In my defense I can only saw we were both 12, and hey, I previously mentioned James Bond movies as an inspiration for the mission, right?).

Over the next few days, he was able to gather tons of intel on the Nakamoto corporation, and even ship his SAMAS into the building, piece by piece, in boxes of office equipment and crates of furniture. When it came time for violence, instead of having to fight his way into the secured skyscraper, he already had his powered armor ready to go, right inside the opposition’s security cordon.  

            The violence also taught me my second lesson of GMing- sometimes you don’t need to roll for every attack or skill check, and sometimes you have to houserule something that’s missing. A powered armor dog fight over the streets of future Los Angeles, between Erik’s SAMAS and a pair of Nakamoto Flying Titans ended with one of the Titans scragged outright and the other ejecting from his blasted armor at the last possible second and trying to escape on foot. (My first houserule: that rather than dying when his Flying Titan got down to zero MDC, the pilot could eject, mainly so Erik’s City Rat would have a chance to interrogate him).

            Erik took the opportunity to question him. Oh yeah, did he ever. Ejecting from his SAMAS either out of some misguided sense of fair play, or because SAMAS versus unarmored human is too easy a fight to satisfy, Erik’s character tackled the fleeing pilot on a rooftop. He ended up sitting on the pilot’s chest, a Wilk’s laser pistol pressed to the pilot’s head. The interrogation that followed was VERY successful, and after it was all over, Erik decided to blast the guy. Because it was my first game, and I didn’t know any better, I had Erik roll to hit.
            The guy dodges.
            Erik shoots again.
            The pilot (who has a 6 ft dude squatting on his chest and a laser blaster more powerful than a tank gun pressed to his temple, mind you) dodges again. The fuck? We both have this look on our face, like we can’t believe this is happening. I realize that given the power of the laser weapon, the rooftop beneath this guy’s head is cratered, but he’s managing to squirm out of the way of every blast.

            We both start flipping through the rule book. Aren’t there any rules for point blank shots? Can’t I just kill this guy? We spend like 10 or 20 minutes looking for some kind of common sense rule about instant kills and point blank shooting. Finally I make an executive decision that yeah, Erik can just blast the pilot in that situation. He puts the pilot out of all our miseries, and I think at that point, even the pilot was relieved.

            After holing up somewhere to fix his damaged SAMAS, Erik’s character began the climactic assault on Nakamoto. (Fixing the armor was another thing I had to houserule. I just said that after a few hours of hard work, his SAMAS was back to like ¾ its maximum MDC.)

            The next few battles were a lot less memorable than the execution of that poor pilot, but were fairly satisfying to a pair of blood thirsty young gamers. The climactic twist, which I’m still fairly proud of, was the tech the Nakamoto mega-corp was working on was afterlife research. Basically, they’d created an enormous artificial rift to what they were hoping was heaven and were sending in robot probes to map it. The way I ended up describing the portal- a big metal ring with glowy tech bits- was pretty similar to the stargates from the eponymous movie and TV series (though that was a few years off at the time). Anyway, Erik’s assault destabilized the portal, and some kind of demon stepped through- I got some good use of the random demon table at the back of the Rifts corebook building that thing.

            By the time that first 4-5 hour session wrapped up, the Nakamoto Tower was in flames, Erik had a CD full of stolen data to give his employers, his SAMAS was scragged beyond repair, and his City Rat walked, scraped and cut, into the LA sunset with his arm around his secretary.

            After that, we started a fairly long running series of Rifts campaigns that ended spanning most of our high school and our college years. It wasn’t quite a contiguous campaign, as I’ve always focused on shorter, single story arcs. We’d play out one storyline for a couple of months and than wrap it up, beginning the next with (usually) different characters on a different part of Rifts Earth. The world was big enough we could shift focus whenever one of us bought a new sourcebook and given the way Rifts characters worked, leveling up wasn’t really a major consideration.

The “series of mini-series” approach worked well, and defines my style of GMing to this day. I’ve never actually had one of those epic 15 year D&D games a lot of gamers talk about, and I’m somewhat in awe of gamers who do.

During that time, we fell into a pretty regular Saturday night game, fueled by McDonalds dollar menu burgers. Our group included everything from mega-damage fairies to borgs, Sunaj Assassins, and Glitterboys to dragons to three flavors of Juicers to a hapless Conjuror (from Federation of Magic) whose powers were so completely and hilariously useless in a MDC environment that we nicknamed him the “Aquaman” of the group. The groups Dragon was being played by this rather portly powergamer (of course), but he was responsible for the most memorable line I’ve ever heard uttered in all my years of gaming.

The group had been chasing one particular Juicer through the West Virginia wilderness for a couple of sessions. Sometimes the Juicer had the advantage and singlehandedly kicked the group’s ass, sometimes he had to run like fuck. But he’d managed to really get on the group’s nerves, and had blown up their transport a couple of sessions prior. Eventually, the group (which didn’t include any Wilderness Scouts or woods savvy characters, if I recall right) gets hopelessly lost in the woods and eventually stumbles across the Juicer’s lair, at something like 6:30 AM. They find the Juicer’s ATV parked outside this old, pre-Rifts bunker he was squatting in.

            The Dragon, he tells everybody else to wait in the tree line and he strides up to the ATV in human form. Everybody knows something is going to go down, but dude’s a Dragon- whatever he starts, he’s going to be more than capable of handling. We don’t know how right that assumption is. So the dragon unscrews the ATV’s gas cap, and still in human form, spits fire right into the gas tank.
            KA-BOOM! Parts of that ATV reach low Earth orbit!

            And the Dragon’s just standing there, naked now, because all his human clothes burned away, but the fuck does he care- he’s a Dragon. The Juicer comes roaring out of his hidey hole, dressed only in his drug harness and his undies, twin laser pistols in his hands. And I see the Dragon player’s eyes light up.

            “You mean his head’s exposed?”
            Just pure glee in this fat man’s voice. Like a kid at Christmas, and I acknowledge that yeah, this guy is pretty much naked. And on Rifts Earth that’s a very bad thing.

            “Throwing stones.”    
            Okay. For those of you not familiar with the game, throwing stones is probably the weakest of the new combat spells introduced in the (fuckin’ awesome) Federation of Magic book; it’s like a MDC version of magic missile from D&D; does piddling damage, but pretty much always hits. The Dragon didn’t want to show off, he later explained, with that same grin. So one casting, one tossed magic pebble, and you had a Juicer missing his head and most of his shoulders. Bye-bye, recurring NPC.

They all come up to explore the bunker. Inside there’s a bed, the Juicer’s armor on the floor beside it, a television playing cartoons and a bowl of cereal still cold on the table. The group did give me points for verisimilitude.

Anyway, one final Rifts anecdote. A couple of weekends ago, I ventured into the civilized lands of San Antonio for a weekend with my old friends. Among other things, I hit up a lot of Half Price Bookstores while I was there. I lost most of my Rifts books over the years- my time in the Navy cost me a lot of my collection, as did a few moves and some drama between my brother and his ex-girlfriend- drama which ended with the ex making off with six boxes of RPG books and graphic novels I had entrusted my brother with. So I’ve been trying to recollect what I’ve lost, and one of the books I scored this trip was Rifts: Lone Star.

My friend Erik and his girlfriend (who is curious about RPGs and might try one the next time I’m in town) were with me. I was flipping through the book when I came across the Wayne Breaux illustration of the infant Dog Boys playing with the female. I smile- I’d forgotten about that one.
“Hey, look,” I say, holding the book open to the page, “canine kindergarten.”

The look of horror on their face was hilarious. Both Erik and his girlfriend got this look of visceral disgust. His reaction was priceless, because he’d killed quite a few Dog Boy soldiers in his years gaming with me.

            “Ugg…. I knew they had Dog Boys, but….”     
            “Yeah, man, that’s how they train ‘em. Kinda cute at that age, aren’t they?”
            And Erik’s looking at me like he’s not sure whether to feel guilty about blasting Dog Boys by the dozens back in the day, or wishing he’d blasted more of them.

            His girl friend, meanwhile, is just baffled. Why are there dog people in this book? I explain that this one country in the game makes dog-men to be super soldiers, that they’re kind of like bipedal drug dogs. She agrees that sorta makes sense but that canine kindergarten picture is creepy as hell- it’s right in both their uncanny valleys.

            I fucking love Rifts.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Fuck the Supreme Court

Fuck the Supreme Court.
Seriously, line five of those mother fuckers up, bend 'em over and fuck them hard.
That is all.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Combined Fleet POETICA

It's been very much a Black Tokyo summer. I've got a ton of content I want to add to Black Tokyo and several major projects in the pipeline. In addition to the big magic omnibus and a few other larger works, expect several Expanded Race Books: Akaname, Nekomusume, Kami, Kitsune (which have already hit), Goryohime up next, and finally POETICA.

The POETICA book is a nice book end to the Neko sourcebook, in that they both deal with an enslaved race of artificial girls and their struggle for freedom. It explores the tropes of harem comedy and magical girlfriend anime in light of showing how much ownership of a non-human intelligence would really suck, and how morally black such ownership would be. Basically, imagine Chobits written by Fredrick Douglass. The struggle for freedom is a very fun plotline to write, and I'm hoping in home games, the player characters and their allies are finally the ones who put an end to the artifical girl slave trade running through the Black Tokyo campaign setting.

Not all POETICA are slaves though. I'm building on the Assault Witch plotline found in Black Tokyo Unlimited to introduce a set of alternate racial traits for POETICA working with the Japanese military: Combined Fleet POETICA. Take a look at the alternate traits and an NPC built with these traits.


            Combined Fleet POETICA (EX)
            Replaces: Racial Skills, Modifies Ability Score Modifiers
            You are a military model POETICA, serving the JSDF as a part of an experimental unit operating as support gunners of the nation’s new Assault Witch squads. Combined Fleet POETICA have a more rugged beauty than most of these androids, powerful integrated cannons are built into their forearms- these long barreled weapons resemble the turrets of a WWII era battleship. Most Combined Fleet POETICA dress in the standard uniform of the day for their unit- a schoolgirl outfit with an olive drab skirt and beret, accented with rank insignia and a golden lanyard for senior androids.

            Combined Fleet POETICA do not receive a racial bonus to their CHA score.

            Combined Fleet POETICA begin play with the Military starting occupation. They receive a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (tactics) checks, as they are programmed to be diehard military buffs.

            Each Combined Fleet POETICA is equipped with a set of double-barreled masterwork cannons (one set per arm). POETICA are always considered proficient with these integrated cannons. These weapons cannot be disarmed, though they can be sundered. They can be enchanted, though the POETICA must remain present for the entire process. They are considered light weapons.

Ranged Weapons
Range Increment
2d6+1 ballistic
100 ft

            Combined Fleet Training (EX)
            Replaces: Highly Skilled
            Available To: POETICA with the Combined Fleet POETICA alternate racial trait only
            You receive any Combat feat that you meet the prerequisites for as a racial bonus feat at first level. 

Combined Fleet Gunner (CR 7)
Medium LN or LG Combined Fleet POETICA Ranger 5 /Assault Witch 3
XP 3,200
Init +2       Senses Lowlight Vision, perceive unencrypted radio/television/cellular/wifi signals, Perception +13   
Languages Celestial, English, Japanese

AC 19 Touch 14 Flatfooted 17 (+2 DEX, +2 class, +4 armor, +1 shield)
HP 5d10 + 3d8 - 8 hp (38 HP)
FORT +4 REF +8 WILL +4
Immune environmental cold

Spd 30 ft Flight 60 ft (good) Travel Speed Mach 1.5
Melee +6/+6/+3 masterwork wakizashi (1d6+2 slashing, 18-20/x2)
Ranged +7/+7/+4 masterwork CF cannon (2d6+1 ballistic, 20/x2, 150 ft range increment, single shot, unlimited ammo)
Favored Enemies Outsiders (evil) +4, Undead +2
Favored Terrains Sky (unique- applies when in flight at least 50 ft above ground) 
Special Qualities Aeromusume, Favored Enemy, Favored Terrain, Hunter’s Bond, Mach One Climax, Wild Empathy
Spellcasting (CL 5th Concentration +7) 
First Level – Alarm, Resist Energy

Str 12 Dex 14 Con 9 Int 13 Wis 15 Cha 13
Base Atk +7 CMB +8 CMD 20
Feats Aircraft Operations, Armor Proficiency (light, medium), Broken Doll, Deadly Aim, Far Shot, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Personal Firearms Proficiency,  Two Weapon Defense, Two Weapon Fighting
Skills Fly +14, Knowledge (arcana) +13,  Knowledge (geography) +12, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (tactics) +14, Knowledge (nature) +12, Perception +13, Pilot +8, Survival +13
Gear armored leggings, parade armor, two mwk. wakizashi, potion of cure light wounds, iPhone

Environment any (stationed at Misawa AFB, in Northern Japan)
Organization solitary, pair or wing (3d6) sometimes accompanied by senior human officers (high level fighter/rangers or Powered Heroes)
Treasure standard

Special Abilities
Aeromusume (SU)
As a full round action, the Combined Fleet Gunner strips away her uniform, her legs and virginal pussy becoming steel and aluminum. When fully transformed, the young girl is almost naked, except for the warplane components sheathing her legs like a vixen’s lacy stockings.
            While transformed, the Combined Fleet Gunner gains a flight speed of 60 ft (good maneuverability). On any round she takes a double move and flies at least 100 ft, the CF Gunner may add her CHA modifier (currently +1) as a deflection bonus to her Armor Class. This bonus remains for one round after she completes her movement.

            If the CF Gunner is knocked unconscious, falls asleep or is slain she returns to her human form. The CF Gunner can otherwise remain in her Aeromusumne form indefinitely. While transformed, she is immune to environmental cold, and though she still needs to breathe, she can do so easily at supersonic speeds and doesn’t suffer any ill effects from fighting.

Angelic Little Loli (SU)
            The Combined Fleet Gunner gains a +1 holy bonus on Saves against evil outsiders and undead.    Hostile creatures of those types who confirm a melee critical hit against the Combined Fleet Gunner must succeed at a DC 12 WILL Save (or be shaken for as long as they remain in your presence and for 1 round after they leave it. Once a creature saves against this effect, it cannot be affected by your purity again for 24 hours.

            Limitation: The Combined Fleet Gunner loses the benefit of this talent for 24 hours if she engages in consensual penetrative sex, though she can engage in masturbation, oral or fetish acts with a lover.

            Arcane Ace (EX)
            The Combined Fleet Gunner adds half her Assault Witch level (currently +1) on Fly and Knowledge (arcana) checks.

Hunter’s Bond (EX)
The Combined Fleet Gunner bonds to her companion, and acts as an advanced scout. She may spend a move action to grant half her favored enemy bonus against a single target of the appropriate type to all allies within 30 ft who can see or hear her. This bonus lasts for two rounds and does not stack with any favored enemy bonuses possessed by her allies. Use whichever bonus is higher.

Mach One Climax (SU)
If the Combined Fleet Gunner masturbates to orgasm immediately before take off, she gains the ability to travel at supersonic speeds outside of combat and gains the stamina to take advantage of her range.

            At Mach 1.5, her maximum air speed, the Combined Fleet Gunner can reach anywhere in Japan in an hour or two, and can be anywhere in the world in a day’s travel. This enhancement does not affect her tactical speed or maneuverability.

By spending an action point (and/or hero point) and touching a willing creature no more than one size category larger than herself, the Combined Fleet Gunner gains the ability to carry this person as a passenger at supersonic speeds. Her passenger is protected from suffocation, cold and wind injuries by a magical aura, so long as he or she clings tightly to the airplane-girl. This enhancement lasts for the duration of a single journey.

            Track (EX)
            The Combined Fleet Gunner adds half her Ranger level (currently +2) on Survival skill checks to follow tracks.

            The Combined Fleet Gunner is one of the highly trained and exuberantly patriotic warrior androids assembled by the Japanese Self Defense Force and quartered at the sprawling air base at Misawa, Japan. She is a proud member of an Assault Witch sentai, and uses a combination of Tantric martial arts training and arcane cyber-systems to take to the air with the speed and agility of a next-gen joint strike fighter.

            Combined Fleet Gunners, like this one here, are assigned to anti-supernatural warfare duties, and see it as their duty to protect their nation and its citizens from supernatural evil. This particular CF Gunner was an accomplished special forces troop before being accepted into the Assault Witch program, and thus is a lot more pragmatic, a lot more comfortable in the wilderness, and a lot more willing to get her hands dirty than the typical POETICA.

            She’s a lovely and imposing sight in her immaculate Combined Fleet duty uniform. Twin cannons adorn each fire arm, while high tech polymer composite armor plating protects the bio-jet systems she transforms her legs into when she fights. She carries twin wakizashi slung low on her hips, heirloom weapons bought at auction that once belonged to Japanese Imperial army officers of some renown. She’s as proud of the swords as she is every facet of her heritage and history.