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Media for Game Masters and Dungeon Masters


I thought I’d share some of the best sources that helped me be a better storyteller since the question has been asked a fair amount of times.

I’ve found that just picking up some good movies, comics, and a novel or two in whatever genre that matches a new game I’m starting as a GM really helps out with the creative process even if the sources are mined just for the “vibe”. As a player learning more about a genre helps with ideas for backstory and your PC’s personality within a society in that genre.

I highly recommend any DM or GM to interact with The Evolution of Trust to get a better idea of how trust works and to look into the Prisoner’s dilemma. Understanding how trust, environment, and choice interact with each other and how certain philosophies or outlooks can flourish in one environment and then fail in another. If you’re world building this is the key that will unlock better games for you.

The strategies that your players will attempt to use are predicated on the environment you create and how you respond to them and their strategies. If all the players are murder hobos then you might think about why the gaming environment is rewarding that tactic and how you might try and build a different tactic with your players. If your players trust you then this is easier to do. Sometimes it is easier to do by changing the game environment completely with a different campaign or game system while making small changes to the current campaign may work better for other troupes or for you.

Mining media for your games is an important skill and can broaden your own imagination. Having a grounding in the genre you’re running really helps to avoid tropes or throw tropes at players in unique ways.

I’m going to list by type of media some of my favorites chosen for how much they helped me tell stories which isn’t necessarily the same as how much I enjoyed the media but usually they are roughly congruent.

Books:

Frank Herbert’s Dune books are dense and full of politics and complex ideas and really useful for Amber or Scion as they deal with the “Big” as well as the personal. Frank wrote another series of books that are often forgotten beginning with Destination: Void which is an absolute bonanza of fertile ideas for the cruelly minded GM. I ran a one-shot of Destination: Void in a Mage game with Void Engineers teaming up with Sons of Ether to make a new type of spirit using kidnapped and mindwiped Mages that was wonderful. I used the core idea in a Paranoia game and in a fantasy setting with an AI in a crystal matrix influenced by Janny Wurt’s novels that really was fun.

Fred Hoyle’s Black Cloud remains foundational to me on the many possibilities that life and mind may form. The idea that our earthbound sort of life was the unusual one was mind blowing to a 10 year old which with Simak’s City which had life in the atmosphere of Jupiter helped me run some very fun Gurps: Space games. I see the trope of the universe zipping out any mind that groks the universe in this one too. I can’t remember if this novel had the universe get more complicated in response to enlightenment like physicists playing 20 questions in the manner of the participatory universe theory but that is a fun idea you can use in your game. Reality adapts.

Roger Zelazny’s Amber books are fun and witty showing a mastery of knowing when to go into detail and when to gloss over the unimportant. He can cover a hundred duels with inferior opponents with a sentence but wax on for a chapter involving the machinations of maneuvering an enemy to step into a trap. This is hugely important for a nascent storyteller to understand. Far too often I’ve seen GM’s waste a lot of time on combat that doesn’t really matter or move the story or in social situations that the GM would be better served with a casual waving on of time passing.

If running an SF/Fantasy Immortals campaign then Lord of Light is a must read especially if you’re like me and like to inject some down and dirty politics with your wannabe gods. Frost and Fire is probably the best book of short stories I’ve ever read. Donnerjack and Lord Demon were co-written with Jane Lindskold and provide very fertile and easily adapted cosmologies.

I’ve been hugely impressed by Hannu’s Rajiemi’s writing and in particular the first book in his trilogy The Quantum Thief. If you’re looking at a Singularity/Posthuman campaign you’d be hardpressed to find a better resource. Think of it as Neal Stephenson, China Mieville or William Gibson pushed out a few hundred years past cyberpunk.

Some of my first fictional exposures to African myth was Alan Dean Foster’s Carnivores of Light and Darkness, the Al Qadim D&D setting (middle east/northern African), and South of the Sun the Ars Magica Prester John setting.

It is really important to get beyond just European and North American based ideas if you’re going to be good at creating unique worlds for your players. In Psychology class, we’d talk about how weird and atypical Americans are in human history particularly white middle-class American college students who were the most studied people. Sociology and Psychology tend to assume that these test takers are the norm and sometimes find that about a third or more studies can’t be replicated when using a different more varied sample.

Frederik Pohl’s Starburst introduced me to Godel and my friends and I would use the mathematical language to encode short acronyms with each other. 600 equals getting a cab to go somewhere if I remember correctly.

The idea of a bodiless ghost being a soliton wave of energy was another idea introduced to me by this story that I’ve used in my games before I read about St. Jack the Bodiless in Julian May’s books. The core concept of Starburst ties in pretty well with Destination: Void except rather than trying to create artificial intelligence of a higher order to the idea was to put geniuses together away from the stresses of people in a spaceship to mine them for their ideas and creativity while they journeyed.

The tv show Eureka kind of steals this idea by putting the crew of a spaceship into a VR realm in their minds so that the scientists could spend their time inventing without the real world interfering too much.

David Brin’s Earth and Existence are must-reads for near future hard SF adventures. David’s ability to predict future potential realities is a bit eerie. For more space opera campaigns I cannot recommend more his Uplift series in which humanity uplifts dolphins and chimpanzees to sentience before expanding to the stars and discovering a vast intergalactic set of civilizations built on the idea of mature spacefarers uplifting other species to sentience. We are unusual in that we uplifted ourselves and thus the other species call us the “Wolflings.”

Speaking of Wolfing that is the name of a story by Gordon R Dickson that isn’t anything amazing by itself for its writings or even general plot but it has given me a lot of story ideas to use including probably George Lucas. There is a weapon that is basically a lightsaber that you can extend in length which focuses the blade smaller like a cone and that you can retract to almost a small buckler shield. This weapon I’ve used in many of my space campaigns from Amber (Courts of Chaos), Traveller, Mage, and Gurps: Space.

Imagine if you could make a lightsaber that was as thin at the tip as a smallsword but could stretch across a room and burn a small hole through an enemy and then quickly shrink it down to an arming sword shape to dispatch a nearby foe before quickly making a small shield to block a blaster. Now imagine dual wielding and the Tower Fechtbuch or I33 sword buckler combat with weapons and shields that can switch back and forth between swords and shields at will.

The other idea I’ve borrowed from Wolfling, Star Trek, and Larry Niven’s Protector books is of various types of humans being spread across space or in the case of Star Trek seeded. I had a game in which an ancient race had made the earth a garden planet (look up hydrogen wall and Alice) and would periodically sample hominids to use as a base creature for manual skilled labor on a thousand worlds. So, when the PC’s leave earth on the first FTL (see E.E. “Doc” Smith) they end up finding a series of worlds with divergent hominids going back to Homo Erectus to neanderthals who all evolved differently over the past million years as the precursors have disappeared leaving their tools and pets behind.

In a fantasy game, I used this idea as the basis for elves, dwarves, giants, mermaids, and other races as humans who adapted to different environments as they gated from world to world. All dragons were in the beginning brown in that campaign with different dragons evolving on different planets and the big story of that campaign was learning that the brown dragon was from the homeworld of the dragons which had been isolated millennia before during a war with the Titans/Joten and now almost no one knows what brown dragons are. For another take on this check out Titan by John Varley.

Going back to Gordon R. Dickson check out the Childe Cycle particularly Soldier Ask Not and Dorsai! for military games, Young Bleys for understanding a good villain, and Necromancer for time travel.

Julian May’s The Many Colored Land and the rest of the books in the series are great fun books to read while also being fertile ground for storytellers. You have a Celtic-Germanic myth, time travel, psionic powers, sex, hybridization, and in the later series, you have telepathic coercers working for the mob and eventually galactic war between augmented cybernetic superminds and the poor aliens who welcomed us into galactic civilization. It also involves a long thread about redemption with the tale of Abaddon. I don’t want to ruin the series by providing too much more.

Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio series is another world that covers different types of humans and evolution but it is his Songs of Earth and Power which is a true wonder. I read them originally in separate stories but the newer version has them packaged together. Religion, fairies, the Serpent Mage, evolution, magic, reality hacking worlds, and this is YA enough to give to precocious young storytellers and readers. If you’ve played the Strange by Monte Cook Games I wouldn’t be surprised if it was influential in the making of that setting.

C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire series is one of my favorite SF stories as an origin for a fantasy setting with an excellent magic system. If you’re wanting to build an innovative magic system then read Janny Wurts and C.S. Friedman. If you’re wanting to delve into the mind and the alien wrapped in humanity in a hard SF setting then read This Alien Shore.

If you’re writing, designing, or running a game with swords or things that can cut then you would be well served learning about proper edge alignment and cutting techniques from Mike Edelson’s Cutting with the Medieval Sword: Theory and Application.

Moonheart by Charles de Lint provided a key chunk of my first Mage campaign and his other stories influenced my horror games and some of my lighter campaigns. He opened the way for urban fantasy to become more popular with authors like Neil Gaiman and Jim Butcher following later.

Robert A Heinlein’s Lost Legacy among others was very influential in how I have villains and villainous organizations operate in my games particular Mage and the Technocracy. The villain Nehemiah Scudder is another threat worth reading about.

Honorable Mentions include Raymond E Feist’s Midkemia series particularly the character Pug which remains the rare compassionate and caring human wizard who achieves great power but is still a good person without being an avatar or angel et cetera. Pug stands in stark contrast to DragonLance’s Raistlin Majere who was mostly selfish and cruel like an 80’s incel when he arrives into his power.

Another of the rare “human” wizards are Ged from Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea books and the bard Arithon and Jaric Firelord from two of Janny Wurts’s series. Too often you see the powerful lose their compassion in games, movies, and books unless they are somehow “other” such as Superman or Gandalf both of which are aliens in a world of men.

Comic Books:

Planetary by Warren Ellis is entertaining with a lot of different settings and shows really how to delay certain reveals to later points in your campaign. Don’t tell your players everything at once. Warren Ellis has a whole suite of great comics from Transmet which is great for a more fun wild story in the far future to Injection which I highly recommend for those trying to inject a “rational” system of magic in the modern day. Global Frequency I just outright stole from for a set of one-shots when I knew that some players were going to be absent. In the comic Trees, aliens come to the earth and don’t recognize us as sentient.

Saga is a must-read for entertainment but for a storyteller, it opens up a setting with a war between magic and science and a multitude of worlds and species. Well fleshed out characters and an overarching story with clearly defined story arcs under the umbrella of the love child between two species at war. Players will probably benefit the most with reading this for a little help getting a good backstory.

Beasts of Burden is a solid series over the decade involving talking dogs and cats. I’ve run a few different games with sentient animals including one inspired by Cliff Simak’s short stories bundled in City.

Hellblazer and John Constantine are pretty hard to beat for a mainstream comic book involving magic in a superhero world (DC). I’ve read at least a few hundred issues.

The Unwritten, Fables, and Ever After are fertile ground with a multitude of worlds with fictional leakage, reality hacking, and many excellent bad guys. Where are fables have become real. There is also a pretty good video game based on it. Not all the offshoots are created equal though.

Harbinger and the rest of the Valiant Universe provide solid stories and characters in a universe that strives to make sense despite being weird and containing wildly different character types. If you’re looking to make a game world with a lot of different play types and power sources then you would be well served to look here. Living alien body armor and African voodoo Loahs in the same world as psychic greek Buddhist monks from the time of Alexander the Great and CEO’s capable of taking over small nations.

Check out Paper Girls for a wild run with some young heroes traversing time and universes. Good for ideas on how to run a campaign with younger PC’s.

For fantasy, it is hard to beat Rat Queens for a good raunchy and wild time in a D&D style setting. There are two different runs with slightly different stories. I particularly like the Lovecraftian plotline and the orc side issue.

For world building, it is hard to beat Monstress. I really want to make a game in this world and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It is still new so not a whole lot has been revealed but if you’re wanting to build a world in a magic setting this is the comic to read.

If you’re going to run a superhuman game in the last century involving war then one of the two Uber series is the comic for you. During World War II the Nazis discover how to create super humans capable of leveling cities and deploy them shortly before the Allies started winning. It is violent, depressing, and gory like war would be with superhumans involved.

The Wicked and the Divine is an easy world for a storyteller to steal a campaign from. It is a normal modern world in which people become gods for two years and then die. I think this would be great for new players because they don’t know what they’re doing and neither do their characters compared to settings that demand the players know a lot to be able to function.

Garth Ennis’s The Boys is the kind of comic to read when you want to overturn everything that is the normal superhero setting. It is NSFW! I heard it is going to be made into a tv show which would be hard to manage.

Movies:

I was growing the most as a storyteller in the mid to late 90’s so it probably isn’t too big of a surprise that that is the era with the most movies for me to recommend. I will just make a short list as there is Wikipedia, IMDB, and rotten tomatoes to explain them.

Dark City is the movie I recommend most as a source of inspiration for a new GM running a solo adventure. It may also be my favorite movie which is a hard thing to pin down but it is wonderful if you haven’t seen it. Dark City had the unfortunate fate to come out at the same time as the Matrix. In that era, SF movies didn’t have a deep bench of fans that bought movie tickets and everyone was talking about the Matrix. The Thirteenth Floor and Existenz had a similar problem.

Fallen with Denzel Washington is another movie that makes for a great solo campaign as a police detective goes toe to toe with a spirit/angel/demon that can possess what it can touch. Great for ideas on how to build tension and how to reward investigation and problem-solving. Sometimes you can’t swing a sword and win a fight.

Incredibles and its sequel are just great films for running a supers game and for running kid characters with middle-aged parents.

Excalibur was my first big fantasy movie and it still has a magic that is hard to beat. Patrick Stewart in plate armor should be enough of a draw for any of my younger friends but the Merlin in this is my core base when I make a cunning and powerful good magus in my imagination. The Princess Bride I watched a few years later and is also a favorite fantasy epic.

TV Shows:

Hard to beat Babylon 5 for SF settings and for being one of the first tv series that had short, medium, long, and series-long story arcs written by JMS and Harlan Ellis mostly it had a lot of famous director’s like Neil Gaiman. As I’ve grown older I’ve rewatched the series a few times and while the first season remains the weakest I no longer see the Shadow War as the best part of the series and lean with the fifth season with Lando as the pinnacle of the show and G’kar as the character who developed the most. Delenn is my favorite woman/alien on TV as a character and is arguably the core of the show.

Rome is a gorgeous show filled with politics and intrigue. Absolutely one of the best shows and highest production values ever made. If you’re going to make or run a political game then you’d be well served by a bit of “Even you Brutus?”

Game of Thrones is probably up there with Lord of the Rings when people think fantasy worlds and both the books and the tv show are well made and entertaining. Read or watch this series to learn how to be ruthless as a GM.

Dark Matter is just “sci-fi” or SF lite but it is a great example of how to throw a bunch of characters into a world they know nothing about and just try and wing surviving it. Fun show to watch while surfing the web on your phone or reading a novel. This is an example of something that isn’t a pinnacle of storytelling still being a totally valid source for ideas.

Video Games:

Microprose’s Darklands taught me how to make campaigns that last centuries. I had a world in which I had three different campaigns and it was only at the end of the third that the players realized that all three campaigns were on the same world separated by time and geography as the heroes of the third campaign get helped before the gates of hell with an artifact that their PC’s in the first campaign had recreated. Two of the PC’s in the first campaign had retired upon having a child so the now elderly child who grew up on a different continent was the protector of the crown that opened up the way to hell and prevented the devils from attacking them.

More modern games like the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun games are a lot of fun to play, inexpensive to play, and some of the mods are very good. Older games like Psychonauts or LA Noire are still worth checking out for puzzle ideas or detective games.

The Dragon Age series is good fantasy fun with a surprisingly deep setting. The first game is more strategic while the second has a stronger focus on the personal and the third shows a more strategic perspective as the leader of a large organization rather than a ragtag band of heroes.

Civilization by Sid Meier is dear to my heart and that is how I learned about world history as a kid. I ran a Palladium Transdimensional RPG with mutant centaur-like Mongols because I played Genghis Khan in the first Civilization game. Learn about other peoples and how tech and society fit together and you’ll make better settings.

Witcher 3 goes far beyond the previous installations and is the best game which I’ve played that you control just one character. Fantastic setting.

Star Control 2 was the inspiration for my first Gurps: Space campaign with some elements of Traveller RPG which taught me hexadecimal and the idea of antigathic medicine as an 8-year old whose second PC ever died during the process of making the character. Looks like they are making a new one which I will have to try out just for nostalgia’s sake. You’re a spaceship on adventure visiting new solar systems in the game and get to upgrade your ship and learn the importance of diplomacy with aliens.

Roleplaying Games:

Don’t hesitate to try out other settings or systems for ideas.

I started out with AD&D, Gamma World, and Traveller as a little brat and in middle school moved on to TMNT, Beyond the Supernatural, AD&D 2nd Edition, and Talislanta.

In high school, Shadowrun, Ars Magica, and Amber Diceless ruled the roost and I even in one nearly fatal experiment tried out the World of Synnibar which almost clobbered one of my mates in the head after I tripped and fell forward with the book. That gamebook should be read for how NOT to design a game but it did give me a few ideas despite the system.

As an adult, I ran a very long World of Darkness campaign focused on Mage: The Awakening and continued playing Shadowrun, Amber, and Ars Magica.

Recently, as a father and having moved to a different city I mostly just read rather than run games but with Monte Cook’s “No Thank you, Evil!” that has changed giving me the opportunity to run games for my little boy.

If I was going to run a game today it would be in Bruce Cordell’s The Strange. The Cypher system is remarkably similar to a system and setting that I was working on for years but much more polished and easier to run. The Strange is closely aligned with my old Amber/Ember and Mage games and is a great setting with lots of possibilities and the same is true of the Numenara setting.

Shadowrun is a wonderful setting and I’ve loved running and playing the pen and paper games and the old and new video games in that setting but the mechanics are just not conducive to my style anymore. I’d recommend reading material for running games in any setting.

Gurps has made well researched and put together gaming books for years and if you are running a game it doesn’t hurt to pick up one of their sourcebooks that might tie-in to the genre or setting your running your game in.

Ars Magica is the setting to check out if you’re wanting to run a fantasy or grounded medieval game. When Wizards of the Coast owned D&D and Ars Magica at the same time they put out joint products and I would recommend getting Ars Magica books if you’re running a D&D or Pathfinder game. The lead designer for 3e was the lead designer of Ars Magica so a lot of ideas have already cross-pollinated.

Card Games:

Magic: The Gathering and On the Edge were great one-on-one games and Jyhad: The Eternal Struggle and Illuminati by Steve Jackson Games were a blast if you could get a few people together that were devious and had the natures of sneaky cunning weasels…so most gamers!

I was dead tired once running a fantasy Gurps game and just used some mana to decide on a terrain type that the PC’s were traveling on and then modded some creatures of that type to the game and made it through the game with no prep at all just winging it with some magic cards I visited while taking bathroom breaks so no one had a clue. Just have fun and use what you can. The players loved all the combat since I normally ran more intrigue and social games so they thought I was inspired instead of exhausted.

Conclusion:

If you’re a new storyteller I hope I’ve given you some ideas for media to watch to help expand your repertoire and if you’re an older storyteller or player I hope this was an enjoyable walk through memory lane. Feel free to comment and leave your favorite media below.

I hope this blog post gives you a good idea or encourages you to try out some new media for gaming ideas. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

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D&D 5e House Rules: Combat Overhaul using the OODA Loop


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Featured image of OODA Loop By Patrick Edwin Moran – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3904554

<Edit> I just found a really unique to me house rule called Variant Shared Turn Combat on Reddit on the Unearthed Arcana subreddit and I’m amazed at the production value and quality ideas.</Edit>

The above diagram is a depiction of the OODA Loop which is a tool for understanding how people make decisions. Many of the ideas I will be presenting use this framework and come from my homebrew game I’ve been designing and redesigning for years that works very well when transferred to D&D 5e.

With the OODA Loop you have four steps: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

The general structure of combat in the PHB 5e on page 189 is as follows:

  1. Determine Surprise
  2. Establish Positions
  3. Roll Initiative
  4. Take turns
  5. Begin the next round.

There are many ways the DM can handle showing combat whether with miniatures, physical or virtual maps or overlays, or purely via imagination and description.

I prefer if possible to use the fog of war during the initial setup and not let players know things they can’t perceive if possible. Having a second map or description available just to the DM can make it easier to show the movement of NPC’s in the fog of war for the DM that the PC’s do not know about. It can be fun to flank the PC’s and get the PC’s to think about flanking especially with mounts or vehicles in play.

I also would like to say that D&D is not supposed to be simulationist and works just fine as is. I offer my system to people who like a little more complexity and options in their battles and to add a bit of tactical confusion and surprise. There are some changes that can make things very different in your game as it shifts priority away from Dexterity towards Wisdom but I think that is actually more balanced.

I have not playtested this at all with D&D so if you’re interested in trying it out and letting me know what you think that would be awesome. Please just leave a comment about your experience. If I forgot something obvious please let me know as well. It is easy to make mistakes on this kind of thing.

 

My System:

  1. Determine Surprise (Keep in mind the fog of war for step 2)
  2. Observe (Explain what each PC perceives and Establish Positions)
  3. Orient (Roll Initiative)
  4. Decide (Based on Initiative and what the PC/NPC perceives then declare actions)
  5. Act (Take Turns.)
  6. Next Round

1. Determine Surprise:

Nothing changed in this step.

2. Observe:

It is important at this point to go over what each PC perceives prior to Initiative so that they can form an idea of what is going on based on their personal perspective not that of a Player who can see much more. So, if an ooze is slinking behind the wizard and the wizard doesn’t know they obviously won’t be casting a spell at it. This encourages a bit of roleplaying so the very perceptive Rogue who sees the ooze approaching his ally can take a free action to yell “Behind you Mage!” after stabbing the Orc in front of her which might confuse the Orc while alerting the wizard so they may change their mind and cast burning hands in front of them rather in front.

The DM also needs to keep in mind what the NPC’s perceive and how they react. Experienced soldiers used to working in tandem with each other are going to be much more difficult to deal with than expert duelists used to working one on one or a mob of amateurs.

3. Orient:

Here things start to depart from the PHB 5e rules.

A big change here is that in my system Initiative is how well you observe your environment and process information rather than in the PHB which focuses on how fast you can move your body. After all, why would Dexterity have anything to do with how fast and well you can observe a combat, make a decision, and say “Shazaam!”? It makes a lot more sense to use Wisdom here to represent a combination of perception, common sense decision making, intuition, and actions and reactions especially those actions that don’t have any real physical component.

D20 + (Wisdom Modifier) + Proficiency Modifier/Die

For diceless Initiative just use the PC/NPC’s Proficiency Modifier and have an automatic 20 for the roll. For more variable Initiative use the optional rule for Proficiency Dice in the DMG on Page 263 which replaces, for example, the +2 Proficiency Modifier with a +1D4.

One could even use both in a game depending on the situation. Use the variable Initiative when surprise, “boss” battles, or unusual combat is happening and for the more normal lineup of good guys here and bad guys here just use the diceless version instead.

The reasoning behind using Wisdom here instead of Dexterity I provided above and my reasoning for using the proficiency bonus is that handling and reacting to combat is a matter of experience.

For example, take a reasonably healthy and elderly Special Forces combat veteran and mentally they will be able to process a combat situation faster and in a more capable fashion than a novice character with world-class Dexterity. Leveraging that experience to process the OODA Loop is a big part of improving decision making and thus performance in combat be it social, mental, or physical and you can substitute talent only so far when competing against old age and treachery.

Once you have everyone’s Initiative totals you can either post them for all to see or you can keep them to yourself.

The highest Initiative total provides the number of Combat Phases in this Combat Turn.

For example:

Rogue: 30, Ooze: 23, Wizard 22, Orc 22.

Thus, there are 30 Phases in this turn.

If two characters are acting the turn or movement during the same phase both actions take place at the same time. Thus, you can have both characters stab each other in the heart and this happened quite commonly in history or characters charging each other would meet at some point in between the two warriors rather than one warrior charging across the battlefield while the other sits there.

Any action that would take place at 0 Phase or when the combat phase is in the negatives all happen at the same time. Thus, a character who used their entire move before swinging a sword would have their action take place on the 0 phase along with any other characters.

4. Decide:

At this point starting with this highest phase the DM has the characters decide what they are going to do in a descending fashion phase by phase allowing the characters to have started their round and have their action/s take place during or after their phase depending on the type of action.

Each action, maneuver, spell, or movement takes place during or after the round/phase the character scored in the Orient step of Combat.

Remember you still have only the actions you can do just like in the PHB even if you still have leftover Initiative after you attack or cast a spell. If you don’t use it up with actions or movement you lose it. So, if you attack during phase 15 and don’t want to move you don’t get more attacks to do later unless you have the extra attacks feature.

I am going to introduce a term called tempo which has various definitions depending on the martial tradition or master but in this case, tempo means how long it takes to complete an action. Each action has a tempo cost which tells you how much later the action actually takes place in since your Initiative score is simply how fast you were able to process the combat situation not the time it takes to perform an action.

Some martial masters have used the idea of hand, body, foot, and feet to describe combat, reaction, and initiative. This means that the tempo of moving your hand is fast, moving your body is a bit slower, moving one foot is slower than that, and moving both feet is the slowest. In other words, swinging a sword at an opponent in measure is faster than moving your torso/body back to dodge or forward on an attack. Moving a foot forward or back takes even longer and moving both feet is the slowest. In other words, it is faster to thrust a blade with just an arm movement vs an arm movement plus moving the body forward with the arm vs the arm, the body, and a foot forward such as when lunging vs the arm, body, and both feet in a shuffling strike.

To put this in perspective it takes longer for a warrior to walk 30 feet and swing a two-handed warsword than it does for the rogue to move 5 feet and backstab with a sgian dubh knife even if the warrior rolled a higher Initiative score which is how things stand now.

A character can under this system postpone their action or be indecisive. For example, a pikeman could see cavaliers and their horses charging towards him and plant her pike and ready themselves for the charge postponing their attack until the cavalier comes in range. Should the cavalier stop rather than coming into range the pikeman could charge forward instead or drop the pike and draw the loaded crossbow at their side and fire thus allowing more flexibility than the current system at the cost of more complexity for the DM and players to handle.

Actions and their Tempo:

Attacks:

For a second attack, the action takes place after the first one and any movement has subtracted from the initial Initiative. Starting Initiative of 10 and a heavy strike for on phase 7 and a second heavy strike for -3 for an attack on phase 4.

If the character is not Familiar, Proficient, or Expert with the weapon then add +2 to the Initiative Cost.

Heavy and Light Weapons have that trait listed with all others without that trait being regarded as Medium below.

Heavy Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged): 3 Initiative Cost.

Medium Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged): 2 Initiative Cost.

Light Weapon Attack (Melee or Ranged: 1 Initiative Cost. (Most Unarmed Strikes)

Loading a Weapon: 5 Initiative Cost.

Magic:

Cantrip: 1 Initiative Cost.

Spells: (1 + Spell level) Initiative Cost.

Innate Spellcasting, Legendary Actions, and Special Abilities: 1 to 5. (DM should quickly decide based on the complexity and potency of the ability or power or the complexity of the situation.)

While the spellcaster is making magic they are vulnerable just as if they are Concentrating on a spell…because they are concentrating on the spell they are casting. This means not only does it take awhile to drop a major spell and thus adds difficulty to the tactical landscape it also means it is even more important to protect the big guns because if they take damage and lose concentration it can be the difference between an easy encounter and a deadly one.

For example, the Cleric has an Initiative of 15 and is casting a 6th level spell so their spell begins on Phase 15 and ends on Phase 8. If they get hit with a barrage of arrows and Magic Missiles they could lose Concentration and have their spell fizzle out. The spellcaster doesn’t lose the spell slot if they lose Concentration because they weren’t able to marshall the magic before getting distracted.

This can give a quick character a chance to use Arcana to recognize the spell the big baddie is casting and yell for the Archer to shoot the Wizard before they drop a Meteor Swarm on them. It also makes Counterspelling a bit more fun which counts as a Reaction below so it only has a 0 IC.

Skills, grappling, and non-combat actions like help, search, ): DM may add or subtract depending on the complexity of the skill use. This represents the simple automatic speed that develops from increased competency at a task. Picking a lock when you’re an expert and under pressure in combat is much faster than if you’re not an expert.

Unfamiliar: 4 Initiative Cost

Familiar: 3 Initiative Cost. (Jack of All Trades, Remarkable Athlete, or my house rule linked above.)

Proficient: 2 Initiative Cost.

Expert: 1 Initiative Cost.

Movement:

Walking (base movement): 3 Initiative Cost per 5 feet

Dash: 2 Initiative Cost per 5 feet.

Sprint: 1 Initiative Cost per 5 feet. (Dash without gear, weapons, or any substantial encumbrance such as dropping everything and running for your life from the greek fire armory that a mage dropped a delayed blast fireball inside.)

Breaking up your move:

Walk 15 feet for a 15 Initiative Cost then cast a spell and use the remaining X (15) feet to get back undercover on the 0 Phase.

Use Object: 1 to 5 Initiative Cost based on the complexity of the object. Opening a stuck door may take longer than pressing a button.

Mounting: 10 – Dexterity Modifier

Dropping Prone: 1 Initiative Cost.

Standing up from “Prone”: 10 – Dexterity Modifier

Disengage: 1 Initiative Cost.

Dodge: 0 Initiative Cost.

Free actions: 1 Initiative Cost.

Quick Look Around: 1 Initiative Cost. Let’s the character get a quick scan of the environment for obvious things that don’t require a roll. Since things change dynamically during the round this can be important.

Reactions like Opportunity Attacks: Usually have a 0 Initiative Cost and take place at effectively the same time as the action that caused the reaction such as a Shield spell blocking an arrow.

Bonus Actions: Can take place before, after, or at the same time. For example, a Shield Master could do a shove before they do their attack or after. A Two-Weapon fighter could thrust forward with both daggers in simultaneously on the same phase or one after the other.

5. Act

Using the earlier example: Rogue: 30, Ooze: 23, Wizard 22, Orc 22. Thus, there are 30 Combat Phases.

Starting with the highest Initiative Score have the highest scorer decide what they want to do. So, the Rogue at Phase 30 would say I am probably moving 5 feet forward to stab the Orc after a quick look around. On Phase 29 the DM would tell the Rogue that an Ooze is slouching towards the Wizard but about 30 feet away. The Rogue has to decide whether to tell the Wizard and alert the orc or move forward and backstab the orc. She decides he should be fine and walks toward the orc and sneak attacks. So, the DM would go through Phase 28, 27, 26 (sneak attack with sgian dubh a light weapon -1 IC) and on Phase 25 rolls for damage and kills the orc. Now on phase 24, she yells at the wizard “Behind you!”.

On phase 23 the Ooze starts sliming up to the Wizard but is 30 feet away. It will have closed five feet by phase 20. The Wizard on phase 22 panics and flings a firebolt cantrip at the Ooze without thinking and hits without killing the ooze. The cantrip had a cost of 1 IC so on phase 21 the Wizard turns and walks toward the Rogue keeping an eye on the ooze. Both the Wizard and Rogue move back to keep their distance from the creepy looking Ooze which decides to Dash on its remaining move to close the distance.

The DM would map out the movement as the phases would drop one by one. Any remaining movement would be used during Phase 0 for all three creatures.

Next Round:

The next round would start with either a new roll if the DM thinks the situation is very different like new creatures enter the combat arena or dynamically in a different “scene” or if the situation is relatively static just reuse the same totals from the previous rounds.

Hope this gives you some ideas on how to spice up your combat! Keep in mind that this system does penalize movement and powerful spellcasting the most. It does encourage more active protection of your spellcasters when they are casting spells and makes it a bit harder to unleash the big guns when not protected by the tanks/front line.

 

D&D House Rules:

Origin of the Abyss

Combat Overhaul

Shields

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity, Proficiency, and Expertise

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake

Counterattacking

 

 

 

D&D 5e House Rules: Character Focus


The idea for this House Rule grew out of my original idea to develop Half-Elves as more of unique and variable race given their hybrid status. An Half-Elf raised among rural Humans is going to be culturally different than one raised in a cosmopolitan planar city like Sigil or raised among the Fey Lords in the Feywild or in the forests of Silvanesti. That is just the cultural differences which wouldn’t take into account variations in biology. A Liger is very different than a Tigon despite both being half lion and half tiger. I also remember a version of D&D that had a whole lot of options at character creation using a GURPS style point system. Anyway, before I digress any further here is my idea. The addition of Character Focus below is not enough to make the pc’s substantially more dangerous and can be easily countered by having important NPC’s partake as well. It is really for flavor, roleplaying, and differentiation between PC’s. Using these traits as a guide it should be fairly easy for a player and a gm to invent their own character foci too.

Before I go into Focus I just wanted to highlight a character trait that should actually have a big impact on pc’s in your game.

Advantage of the Majority: This trait is free to all members of the dominant race, sex, religion, or caste in a given region. The character is more likely to blend in and not attract attention and enjoys many privileges from having easy access to foods, gear, weapons, and armor for their size and shape to having the right to vote or wield certain weapons or wear certain clothes or colors. The character’s advantages may be invisible to them and should the character go into an area in which they no longer have this background applied to them they may find things to be very strange and have a hard time adapting. In most worlds this applies to human PC’s.

Character Focus:

Each PC gets access to one Character Focus that shows a key part of who they are and what they spend their down time doing. A Rogue who is well connected in a legal merchant guild is going to roleplay differently than a Rogue who is a Savant with thieves tools. A Paladin carrying his father’s shield blessed by Brennan the demigod of protecting children is going to have a different feel than the Paladin Weapon Specialist.

Well Connected: Based on your character’s background you have a wide range of contacts giving you an “in” and respectability within that field or organization and a constant source of general information that can be turned towards specific information at a price. A guild member will know the gossip in the guild and a secret or two and easily find themselves well ensconced in a new city and probably find a few leads on guild and adventure work. A criminal knows the major players in the shadows and recent critical events from the point of view of the underworld. A noble knows that Baron Schwine has the finest hawks in the Marches and recently decided that he would pay a fortune to the noble adventurer who brings him a griffin egg. A travelling Sage who was well connected would be welcomed upon arrival at Candlekeep. At GM discretion the PC can have advantage on certain social or investigative rolls involving their social circle and can use the group’s influence in certain social interactions with outsiders. A lowly street gang member is easier to intimidate by a made thief of the Guild than a random no name thief. It is wise for the Well Connected PC to share time, knowledge, and money on her contacts even if it is just a drink or lunch or an hunch. The more lubricated the contacts the better the gossip flows back. The difference between a well connected Noble and a Noble with just the background would be that the Noble knows the daughter of the Duke and has maybe exchanged words once or twice but can’t get invited to her party while the well connected Noble who had never met the daughter of the Duke could in an afternoon of conversation at a local Baron’s luncheon find themselves with an invitation upon arrival back home. The DM is encouraged to have random NPC’s recognize the PC and to have heard stories about them throughout the game. The PC just knows people who know people.

Wealthy: The PC starts with an additional 100 gold pieces or adventuring equipment worth an equivalent amount, or tradeable goods worth at least 250 gold pieces that would need to be sold a sizable distance away and includes an hireling and a mule and wagon for overland travel or part of a cargo hold for overseas travel. The Wealthy PC would of course be wise to hire protection on such a journey. Wealthy PC’s tend to attract wealth but need to spend it as well and don’t take well to modest lifestyles. A Wealthy PC knows how to act and dress higher status and knows the best inn in Waterdeep before she had ever been there. If the PC’s want to sell a minor magical item legally the wealthy PC might know who would be interested and who would be able to afford it. The DM is encouraged to have money flow in the direction of this PC and the PC is encouraged to spend freely and often.

Heirloom: The PC has one very expensive and valuable piece of property that they inherited and treasure. They would never sell the item or allow the item to be taken from them. It could be a mastercrafted sword or a suit of half plate worn by a famous Paladin ancestor that inspired the PC to take on the adventuring life or even a minor magical item passed on by a loved one when they died. It should be an item that would grow in power with the PC and their legend. One cannot picture Raistlin Majere without the Staff of Magius even if the only magic he could do with the staff was a light spell at 3rd level. Torvald’s father’s battleaxe soaked in the acidic blood and soul of the adult black dragon he had slain and from that day dealt acidic damage on his foes and later slew a demi-lich forming a strong antipathic resonance against the undead. The DM should find some sort of excuse or work with the player to make the heirloom scale and remain a key part of the PC as they become more legendary. Torvald after all had passed up on some pretty looking axes with heavy enchantments on them when they arrived in Sigil.

Weapon Specialist: The warrior has a favored weapon that they spend inordinate amounts of time mastering to the exclusion of a vast chunk of their social life. With a specific weapon type the PC has a +X added to their attack with X representing the number of normal attacks they can do in a round. At first level this would be a +1 bonus but a fifth level fighter would be +2 because they have two attacks. When the PC increases their bonus they gain an additional favored weapon.

Acrobatic Defender: +1 bonus to AC as long as the character has freedom of movement.

Shield Specialist: The character adds their Proficiency +1 to their AC when using a Shield instead of the +2 to AC a Shield normally provides. Whenever an attacker misses the Shield Specialist by more than 10 they open themselves up to a bonus action called a shield bash which is an attack that uses the shield and does 1d4 + Strength damage. A Magical Shield provides the AC bonus to the attack and damage rolls just as if the Shield was a magical weapon.

Elemental Affinity: PC is resistant to a type of energy damage like acid, fire, cold, or thunder. The PC gains a +1 bonus to Skill rolls involving the element and +1 damage when using weapons or magic involving the element. For example a PC with a fire affinity would have a talent for starting the camp fire, wielding a flaming sword, or casting a fireball. More exotic resistances are possible with DM approval and PC background such as being a Fire Priest’s acolyte or being a distant descendant of a race resistant to that type of energy.

Magical Prodigy: The PC is extremely talented with a school of magic and gains an extra cantrip and an extra level 1 spell slot for that school. For those without a spellcasting class they gain just a cantrip. Should the Prodigy ever get trained in a spellcasting class and gain a level they would then gain access to the extra level 1 spell slot.

Studious Spellcaster: The PC has worked very hard to learn how her magic works and how to stretch her capabilities. Her Spell save DC has a bonus of +1 and she learns 1 additional spell at character creation.

Battlemage: The PC is talented with combat spells and cantrips. The PC adds their Dexterity Modifier to their Spell Attack Modifer for combat magic that needs a spell attack roll.

Savant: Character is extremely proficient at the basics of a skill or tool or instrument. The Savant counts a roll of 7 or less as a 7 with any tasks involving that skill.

Attractive: The attractive PC has advantage on social rolls with someone who finds them attractive at the DM’s discretion based on the social situation at that time. The PC spends an inordinate amount of time focused on highlighting their beauty or handsomeness at least from the point of view of the Weapon Specialist. The PC might be reluctant to undertake tasks that might diminish their attractiveness like crawl around in a sewer. A troubadour, artist, or actor can really leverage their attractiveness when performing and often earn more pay than other entertainers of greater skill.

Gifted Healer: Any use of a Healer’s kit or Herbalist’s kit or magic to provide aid to an injured or otherwise hurt individual gains the injured character a bonus hit point per die rolled.

Fleet Footed: Speed increases by 10 feet. The PC spends much of their spare time running or swimming and can also run longer distances as well compared to less focused characters.

Green Thumb: The PC has a special knack with plants and has advantage with all rolls using an herbalism kit or Nature rolls involving growing or tending plants. Plants just seem to be brighter and healthier around them. Sentient and semi sentient plants react positively to the PC who has Advantage on any social rolls involving plant creatures.

Tough: Has an extra 2 Hit Points at character creation and an additional 2 HP per level afterwards.

Sentinel: +5 bonus to passive Perception rolls. Pick one sense and have advantage on all rolls using it.

Well Traveled: Familiar and comfortable with different cultures and races the PC has a very cosmopolitan view of the world. The PC is unlikely to make a  faux pas when interacting with exotic beings, foreigners, nobles, and rustic folks and counts a 5 or lower as a 5 with all skills they are proficient in that involve interacting socially or involving academic knowledge of them and their traditions. Common among traveling sages who can become quite valuable to leaders and merchants hoping to begin diplomacy or trade with little known peoples. Well traveled PC’s gain an extra language and have an easier time learning new languages as they can learn without the need of an instructor if they are immersed in an area with the language and culture. Their training time is also cut in half.

Darkvision: A PC of a race that doesn’t have this trait gains Darkvision of 60′. It may be as a result of pact with infernal or fey beings or as a result of an ancestor from another race or from exposure to wild magic or even an experimental potion.

D&D House Rules:

Origin of the Abyss

Combat Overhaul

Shields

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity, Proficiency, and Expertise

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake

Counterattacking

D&D 5e House Rules: Half-Elf Variants


My phone and tablet broke so I haven’t been able to update this and I’ve been too tired to get on my pc for those few moments it isn’t in use. I am scrapping much of the core ideas involved with this for some new ideas. I will be back. 
When growing up most Half-Elves learn how to diffuse social problems around them and come to grips with their mixed race heritage and the problems it can cause. Another path is to simply acknowledge the difference and rather than dive into the social sea and master it these Half-Elven pursue mastery  in whatever drives their passion. From their human parent they gain drive and ambition with a focus on the short term and attention to detail with a long term view from their elven parent allowing them to excel far beyond their peers. This pursuit of excellence provides some social protection or at least gets the Half-Elf out of the mainstream and thus out of the attentions of those who might cause harm social or otherwise.
Most Half-Elven Savants come from backgrounds involving libraries, temples devoted to gods of knowledge, universities, and master craftsmen or artists. Exposure to books or people with a love in what they do touches and influences both sides of their nature turning them from studying the people around them and their differences as most Half-Elves do and towards finding that kind of love of knowledge or passion in their own lives. As a consequence they learn to disarm or avoid difficult social situations with their intelligence and excellence.
Some Half Elven Savants fall in love with languages and often end up as a diplomats or go betweens as a result of their learning rather than their charisma and social skills.
There is a small drawback for these Half-Elven which is a tendency to slip into Reverie and day dream when pondering particularly complex ideas, solving subtle puzzles or riddles, creating masterpieces of art or war, or researching a topic pushing the bounds of current knowledge. This can be inconvenient when time is an issue. It is a drawback of their elven blood and their tendency to ignore time constraints and a drawback of their human blood and their tendency for vibrant and powerful imaginations and dreams.
Half Elf Savant Traits
Your half-elf character shares some qualities with its parents and some that are unique to them whether they are Savants or other variants.
Age: Half-Elves mature at the same rate as humans do but age slower because of their elven blood sometimes approaching their second century.
Alignment: Savants tend to be of a less chaotic bent and more influenced by the human traditions if raised amongst humans or mastery of an art or form if raised amongst elves. This greater discipline and patience can be advantageous when dealing with finicky and eccentric sages, artists, and master craftsmen. They might chafe and resent rules or demands but cast that aside as unimportant while in pursuit of their passion or goals. As a result Savants are more reliable and predictable than their more common cousins.
Size: Half-Elves tend to inherit their height from their human parentage while tending to inherit the lean and wiry frame of their elven parentage. This is just a tendency though and half elves have a great range in how they express their unique ancestry both in their physicality and in their minds. Your size is medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision: Thanks to your elven blood you gain the ability to see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. Color can’t be discerned in darkness only shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry: Thanks to your elven blood you gain advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magically induced sleep. The powerful dreams of the savant weaken their resistance to sleep magic.
Life Long Learning: Starting at first level the Half-Elven Savant gains proficiency and expertise in one skill or tool or starts with 5 extra languages. Whenever the Savant has an Ability Score Improvement they also gain proficiency in a new skill or tool or they can gain 3 more languages. At 11th level they can gain Expertise in a second skill or tool.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common, Elvish, and one extra language of your choice.
Reverie: When undergoing a task with a skill or tool they have Expertise in with a Difficulty Class of Hard (20) or greater the Savant must make a Wisdom (10 + DC greater than 20) saving throw to avoid spending twice as long on the task as strictly necessary.  A task with a DC of (25) would require a Wisdom saving throw of (15) for example. During this time the Savant can be irritable upon interruption or less perceptive to outside and extraneous details as a flaw should the player decide to roleplay this. Savants tend to enjoy dreaming and can sometimes solve difficult problems while sleeping allowing a 1d4 to be added to a task roll if the Savant takes a short rest and a nap before attempting it or after a long rest if the Savant consciously decides to focus on a problem before bed. Savants tend to sleep deeply as a consequence and are difficult to awaken and have disadvantage on any tasks rolled on their turn immediately after awakening or for being woken up.

Shadowrun Overhaul: Magical Dueling


There are several ways that the ancient tradition of dueling as re-entered society as we go deeper into the Sixth World. Dueling pervades all strata of society and takes many forms from taking credit for an idea to get promoted over your rival at the office to a little amateur urban brawl action so your bike chummers think you’re chill to outright blazing guns and headless enemies. One of the most common forms of dueling is through proxies in which the rich and powerful pit their chosen against each other sometimes with challenges and sometimes in gladiator style combat.

The first is the basic duel in which the magicians choose a melee weapon and can use magic but nothing prepared beforehand and can only wear obvious armor if agreed to before the duel starts. This is more common for Adepts but the occasional magician or mystical adept has dueled in this way. The problem with this form of dueling is that it tends to be injurious to both duelists and possibly even deadly. Even with each duelist having a second to protect bystanders and their charges from errant magic it is just too easy for things to go wrong.

The second involves combat in the Astral realm which is evolving very rapidly as it becomes more popular. Hidden Arenas in Domains linked to the Battle metaplace have spread like wildfire in the past two years with the arrival of tempo and the rising popularity of spirit vs spirit combat. It is rumored that a cabal of free spirits has inordinate influence on the dueling scene one of whom takes the form of an older african male with wild and crazy hair.

With the introduction of the first martial art form created for Awakened Orks and by Awakened Orks: Hez Errit’grumrutra has changed the landscape for magical duels. Masters of this new martial art have dominated the metahuman combat leagues while sparking interest in Astral Combat official competitions and the magical society Egran’den Er’rek Wejoto has profited greatly despite suffering from half a dozen deadly attacks on its Jrikrek or school building by unknown but powerful magical assailants. The Egran’den are made up of an unique blend of ex-military or mercenary Orks with extensive Awakened combat experience and street shamans with a bent towards social justice. Many of the new outer circle members are former gang toughs who are being rehabilitated with tough love from the military crowd and a little wise gentleness from the street shamans.

The third involves direct magic to magic battle extreme. There are two methods by which this duel takes place. The first involves the duelists channeling their power and essence into a centerpoint until it gels into a form and a duelists dominates it. The second option involves a Ritual which is cast by a neutral third party that has evolved into the popular collegiate game Astral Total War.

The Arcane Duel

 Traditionally the two duelists face off with their seconds watching for treachery and their thirds creating mana barriers up to prevent accidental harm to bystanders. Each bows towards each other and stand within 10 meters of each other. Now both cast the Arcane Duel spell targeting the area between them. The Force of the spell acts as a limit to most Tests between the Duelists and the spellcaster can pick whatever Force they want but they have to handle the Drain from the spell which is quite demanding so they risk gaining penalties from before the actual duel for higher potentials. The spellcasters decide whether the duel shall use Sorcery, Conjury, or Enchanting.

The two duelists continue to pour power and weave threads into the center of the dueling area which slowly takes on an appearance based on the personalities of the duelists, the Skills involved in the duel, whatever mentor spirits they might have, and their Tradition.

In battles between master conjurers the audience can watch two pseudo-elementals slug it out for their amusement while another might involve a single elemental that both conjurers are trying to control. A duel between two Chinese sorcerers may play out visually as a game of go played by two elaborately designed Shen. It was once common amongst Hermetics familiar with the Old Matrix sculpting for their duels to take on the clear lines and geometric shapes of the Old Matrix protocols but that has become rarer in the modern day.

There is a moment when the spell gels and combat can begin usually sometime after the combined total of the two spell’s Force x 3 Seconds but can happen earlier or later depending on how difficult it is for the spell to find an appropriate venue. The better duelist at Assensing tends to win first action which is a big advantage as from then on the duel goes back and forth between the duelists until the victory conditions are met.

The duelists trade blows or moves back and forth until victory is achieved. For the vindictive they prefer to deal several light to medium blows to weaken the mage before hitting them hard so as to “Scorch” their opponent and possibly cause permanent damage to a magical faculty or mental facility.

Victory conditions can be the collapse of the opponent or first blood or first to five damage boxes dealt.

Weapon Foci bonded to a duelist provide an increase in DV by the rating of the Focus. Power or Spell/Spirit/Enchanting Foci add to the Attack or Defense Totals by choice of the duelist at the beginning of combat. For a duelist with two Foci one could be applied to Attack while another to Defense or both to Attack or both to Defense.

 

Initiative: Intuition + Assensing Opposed Test (only rolled once at the beginning of the duel; after that it goes back and forth)

Attack: Logic + (Spellcasting/Summoning/Alchemy) + (Power Focus or appropriate Focus such as a Spell Focus for a Sorcery duel) [Force]

Defense: Intuition + (Counterspelling/Banishing/Disenchanting) (Power Focus or appropriate Focus) [Force]

Damage Value: Charisma + Net Hits on Attack + Weapon Focus Rating + (Ritual Spellcasting/Binding/Artificing)

Resistance: Willpower + Arcana

Boxes of damage: Magic Rating x 2 (If damages overflows and is greater than Willpower then the mage is knocked unconscious (Stun Damage) and her astral form is disrupted which can cause permanent psychological or magical problems and is called Scorching your opponent.)

Edge: The Special Attribute of Edge is replaced by the Mage’s Grade. A non-initiate has a Grade of 0 and thus would act as if they had no Edge throughout the duel. “Edge” spent on the duel has no impact on the Edge Special Attribute.

-Don’t forget Wound penalties from before and during the duel.

-Reagents can’t be spent during the duel itself to alter Limits.

Arcane Duel Technique:

This arcane technique costs no karma to learn and can be taught in an hour or two with a good instructor. The Arcane Duel doesn’t conform to the standard categorizations of spells and rituals as it involves parts of all five spell categories and some of the steps of a ritual. Both duelists must have this Quality for the Duel to work. Some of the principles of Attunement are used as well as the anchoring technique of Ritual Spellcasting. Rumor has it that this technique involves elements of ancient and foreign magics.

Both duelists must be within 10 meters of each other. Both duelists expend Reagents equal to the Force of they choose for themselves at the same time which creates a temporary magical lodge just for the purposes of this duel in a sphere surrounding the two duelists. The initial prep time can usually takes about a minute. Each attack takes a full minute after which the other duelist begins their attack which lasts a full minute.

Drain is handled normally for your tradition as if casting a spell with a Drain Code of Force and Centering can be used.

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Astral Total War


Today on Magicknet!

Astral Total War college semifinals: MIT&M’s blue doubles team faces UW’s purple doubles team live in the meat world and the astral at Three Crones in Boston at 7 PM East Coast Time tonight! {Buy Meat Tickets} {Buy Astral Tickets} {Watch on high definition Trideo}

How the Fashion spell can make a smelly loser into a winner with the ladies. {Buy Article} {Buy Spell Formula}

Ryan Two Tusks takes on Kamol “The Smasher” in Mixed Martial Adept Arts for the Ork heavyweight Championship next week. {Watch Live} {Buy Tickets}

Can too much magic lead to a radical change of personality? -By Martina Novoliska {Read Opinion Piece}

How to deal with the inherent difficulty of applying micro effects in a wide area. -Essay by Thomas Bonesage {Read Journal}

 

Astral Total War:

Astral Total War is a relatively new and very popular game that has spread like wildfire and has been very quickly codified and organized into various teams on every campus with a major magical program in North America, Japan, Australia, and Northern Europe. The standard freeform or professional game involves five players called pentacle games and a Ritual team that acts as judges, casts the ritual, and prevents outside interference. University play focuses almost entirely on doubles games with many Universities putting out several collegiate teams which compete against each other within the same conferences that they compete in with sports and matrix games.

The Ritual begins by the lead Sorcerer beginning the ritual and using the Attunement Metamagic to link via mana threads to each player and to an item usually a large cup or award at the center that acts as an anchor for the ritual. The players arrange themselves around the cup. The Force of the Ritual is decided with higher Force Rituals giving an advantage to stronger magicians and lower Force Rituals giving an advantage to weaker magicians as the Force of the Ritual acts as a Limit for each player for their magical actions. Once the Force has been decided then the Ritual leader begins the spell and each player begins to astrally craft his or her defenses, offensive forces, and sculpt their terrain which is visible from the Astral but each player is blocked by a Mana Barrier that prevents their observation of what their opponents are doing. From above in the astral a pentacle game looks like a pizza with five pieces with the people playing with miniatures.

The ritual is fully ready when Force x hours are spent with the setup. The moment that happens the Judge orders the mana barriers dropped and combat begins. There are various rules for winning range from having the most astral territory to who has the most Wizard’s Towers to control of the heart or area around the Cup in the center of the players. Some games have a built in time limit while others go until there is only one magician standing. Each player has a Wizard’s Tower which is key to their connection to the Ritual which if an enemy takes makes it impossible for the player to create or craft any new servitors and makes it harder to handle drain on any spells cast into the game.

The audience can watch in the physical realm since part of the ritual is a variation of the Trid Entertainment Illusion which makes an exact co-locational duplicate of the Astral Realm in the play area within the physical realm for those who can’t astrally perceive and for viewers on their commlinks or home trid player. The audience can zoom in and watch a single battle between champions called Tactical View or enjoy a fanned out Strategic view showing a Phalanx of melee troops fighting cavalry units. In pentacle games viewers will have alerts on their commlinks about surprise attacks or treacherous dealings going on. It can be hard to keep up with all the action. In doubles play it tends to be less chaotic then your typical pentacle game.

The kind of troops, defenses, creatures, and spells the Wizard can cast in his Tower depend on his skill set.

 

Ritual: Astral Total War: (Material Link, Spells, Anchored, Leader must have the Attunement Metamagic)

The Ritual Leader casts the Ritual which includes for the initial part a mana barrier in the form of a five fingered starfish for a standard individuals game (pentacle game), quarters for a standard double duel partner’s game, or a single barrier for personal duels and once the ritual is complete the Trid Entertainment spell which reflects the goings on in the Astral Realm so those without Astral Perception can watch the game. The Ritual Leader also has a Material Link for each player and for the cup which binds the players together.

The game concludes based on whatever the rules of the event say is a winning requirement. Standard collegiate rules are that the winner of a pentacle game is a player with three Wizard’s Towers. For a doubles partner game it is when you have both Wizard’s Towers of your opponent.

Rules of the Game:

The force of the Ritual is chosen. High School play is capped at Force 3 to prevent the chance of players passing out from Drain. Collegiate Student play is capped at Force 6. Professional games tend to sit at Force 8 or 9 when the players are all Initiates especially duels between Professors.

Each hour prior to the game is time that the mage uses his magickal skills to the fullest spending time shaping terrain, building units, spy networks, defenses, traps, creating champions, and the infrastructure to support them. The game copies many factors from popular Matrix games like Civilization 23 Orichalcum Edition and Age of the Fourth World: Total Conquest.

Once the prep is done then game play begins with most games lasting one to three hours. Many games involve treachery and social skills especially Leadership for partners games. Often the most powerful magician in University play ends up falling first to more subtle players in pentacle games as they tend to lack the diversity of skills and knowledges the sneakier players tend to master. In doubles play it is extremely common for teams to pair up as a powerful magician and a jack of all trades or a powerful magician and a face.

 

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Shielding Metamagical Qualities


Shielding Metamagical Qualities:

After character creation and the Initiate learning the Shielding Metamagic she can develop new techniques that improve her ability to Shield herself from magic or develop new enhancements to her Shielding. These Qualities can be taken together and combined for additional effect.

Mass Shielding:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. The Initiate can protect an area with her Counterspelling equal to her Magic Rating + Grade in meters or a number of individuals within LOS equal to twice her Magic Rating + her Grade. This is a popular Quality amongst military and mercenary magicians.

Absorption:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. The Initiate gains the ability to absorb magical energy directed at her and channel it into her sorcery. Whenever the magician uses her Shielding/Counterspelling she may add the net hits from that Test up to and equal to her Grade as a dice pool bonus for her Spellcasting and Drain Tests on a single spell cast within that Combat Turn or the next Combat Turn.

State of the Art Shielding:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. It allows the Initiate to apply her Grade in dice as a defense against any type of magical effect from any source.

Reflection:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. This Quality allows the magician to use her Counterspelling ability to redirect a Spell back at the original caster. The magician must be aware of the spell, be within LOS of the caster or target or be a target of the spell or within the area of the spell’s effect, and have an Arcana equal or greater than the Force of the spell in order for her to be able to comprehend the spell, unravel control of the spell, and send it back to its original caster. Attempting to Reflect a spell is an Interrupt action at -10.

The first step is to check if the magician succeeds on a Counterspelling + Grade [Magic] v Spellcasting + Magic [Force] Opposed Test (Add +3 Dice to the Counterspelling if the spell was cast recklessly). If she fails she still blunts the attack by subtracting her net hits from the Spellcaster’s net hits and goes on to take a defense test as normal. If she succeeds then the spell is sent back to the caster. The Force of the returning Spell is equal to the Grade of the Initiate with any net hits on the Reflecting Test acting as net hits for the spell. The targets completely evade the original spell and the reflected spell goes off as if it was a normal spell of whatever type the original caster cast. Area effect spells go off but do not harm any of the individuals protected by the Initiate with her Counterspelling which is a number equal to her Magic Rating.

Hermes Portal and Ars Magica


Here are pdf’s of the articles I contributed to for Hermes Portal an ezine for Ars Magica by Atlas Games.

 

Portal_US_11 Portal_US_10 Portal_US_9 Portal_US_15

 

If you’re interested in more check out Hermes Portal which has 1 through 15 issues downloadable for free.

Check out my blogroll on the right and check out Sub Rosa which is continuing the tradition of high quality Ars Magica articles.

Shadowrun Overhaul: Metamagics in Fifth Edition


With a soft cap in 5th edition on achieving high grades of Initiation because of the Grade being limited by the Initiate’s Magic Rating and because I think Metamagics should do more than just one thing I have added quite a few new and old metamagics with idea of looking at what the metamagic does directly and what it might offer access to for the Initiate’s Magical Skills to do that a regular practitioner wouldn’t be able to do. Also, I am expanding on Metamagical Qualities that are learned in gameplay that offer neat expanded abilities or enhanced abilities within the purview of a metamagic.

Adept Centering: (SR5 p 325)

Centering: (SR5 p 325)

Fixation: (SR5 p 325)

Flexible Signature: (SR5 p 325 and p 326) {Astral Impersonation Quality and rituals detecting astral traces}

Masking: (SR5 p 326) {Astral Impersonation Quality and Rituals that involve manipulating Awakened Astral Forms}

Power Point: (SR5 p 326)

Quickening: (SR5 p 326)

Spell Shaping: (SR5 p 326)

Shielding: (SR5 p326) {Absorption and Reflecting Qualities}

 

New Metamagics:

Possessing: {Requires Attunement}

This Metamagic is rare and banned by most governments and corporations. It grants access to powerful new rituals and qualities which can allow the Initiate to possess or help others possess prepared Constructs or Vessels, animals, and unwilling mundane targets. With the metamagic alone however the Initiate can only possess dual natured beings that are unconscious or willing. The most common way the possessor dominates a victim is by defeating them in astral combat using stun damage which disrupts the astral body and knocks the victim unconscious.  The victim doesn’t begin recovery of the stun damage until the possessor dismounts from the body.

The Initiate can possess a body equal to their Grade in hours but must be careful as that time counts as Astrally Projecting time for the Initiate. An Astrally Projecting magician can’t be possessed this way as they aren’t dual natured when projected or protruded unless they should be knocked unconscious while projecting.

The possessor only has access to the puppet’s physical abilities and innate magical capabilities. The victim will usually not remember anything about any activities done while possessed though they might have dreams about it. If the Initiate casts magic while possessing a target their drain is automatically physical and any mana based magic that targets the possessor effects the Initiate normally however physical damage only blemishes the host.

Research has shown that heavy use of this metamagic can be mentally destabilizing and lead to heightened ratings of the Dark Tetrad traits of Sadism, Pyschopathy, Narcissicism and Machaivellianism. There are rumors of Initiates who master this metamagic capable of transcending death and permanently inhabiting bodies though that might be equating magicians with shedim or the children of the shedim but probably involves dangerous spirit pacts or other metamagics.

Ceremonial Magic:

Ceremonial Magic allows the Initiate to use already attuned Sympathetic Links and Symbolic Links as a substitute for Material links when performing Ritual Sorcery and offers access to learning or creating many new and more powerful Rituals that work with Conjuration or Enchanting. If the leader of a ritual has this Metamagic and spends an hour training any participants in the ceremonial practices of a specific Ritual then the -2 Dice Penalty for participants having a  different Tradition is eliminated for the Teamwork Test. (For more info on Sympathetic and Symbolic Links check page 29 of Street Magic and the Attunement Metamagic.)

Attunement:

Attunement is a Metamagic that allows the Initiate to create or enhance astral connections between items, people, and locations. Sympathetic and Symbolic Links are attuned for Ritual Sorcery as a replacement for Material Links (without Ceremonial Metamagic the Initiate would be unable to personally use the Links for Ritual Sorcery purposes.) With Attunement many new and powerful Rituals become possible as well as the purchase of new Qualities. Adepts can learn some of these Qualities which involve connecting deeply with a type of animal or item or even a location (see Home Ground).

Exotic Metamagic:

Gives the Initiate access to a new unusual power including those of spirits and critters.  There has to be good reason for the magic and a source for the magic such as an hermetic mage writing their phd thesis on some new type of magic he has invented or a Dragon teaching his Drakes Dragonspeech. The GM and the player should sit down and make up the rules on how it works. It also makes for more interesting bad guys who have unique abilities not seen before. As a general rule for Critter Powers is a number of uses per day equal to the Initiate’s Magic Rating with the GM deciding if instead the number of uses should be based on Grade per day if the Critter power looks imbalancing. As a general rule for moderately powered abilities the Force is equal to the Initiate’s Magic rating and for very powerful critter powers equal to the Initiate’s Grade.

Examples: Shapeshifting, Dragonspeech for Drakes, Movement, and Walk Through Earth.

Blood Magic: 

This metamagic focuses on sacrifice, blood, life, essence, and death. Twisted magicians use this for blood rites, animal and human sacrifice, and tap into forbidden sources of magic to increase their power. Other less tainted magicians use Blood Magic to empower their own spells with parts of their own self which allows them to surpass their limitations though it is a dark road they take which leads most who walk it to the Tainted and Corrupted Paths. Blood magic by itself opens up a few magics and qualities but really begins to shine when combined with attunement and ceremonial magic in particular. With Quickening the Initiate can sacrifice a sapient life form and take its permanent Edge rating as Karma to be spent on quickening the spell. The Blood Mage who masters Invoking can summon Great Form Blood Spirits into the world. With Divining the Blood Mage can read the future in the bowels of animals and sentients as they bleed to death to give a few examples of how blood magic complements other metamagics. The most feared of the Twisted magicians master Blood Magic and Nethermancy and are capable of feats beyond the pale of most magician’s imaginations.

Self sacrificing grants 10 reagents worth of magic to a spell cast as the Blood Mage self injures themselves as a combined complex action. This does one box worth of damage that must heal naturally or the Blood Mage loses a Karma point for every sacrificed box healed with magic.

 

Divining: {Requires Attunement and Geomancy}

With Divining the Initiate learns how to access even more information through their ability to Assense mana, astral forms, and astral/emotional residue. It opens up many new spells, rituals, preparations, constructs, and qualities that involve reading past events, predicting future events, seeing far off events, or detecting specific items or signatures such as the Dowsing Quality, Psychometry Spell, Hunch Preparation, Enhanced Danger Sense/Combat Sense Adept Powers, The Third Eye Quality which lets the Diviner add to their Assensing Dice Pool their Grade, Magical Forensics Rituals, access to a superior remote viewing ritual and clairaudience/clairvoyance spells, uncontrolled visions, with Dream magic the Diviner can get glimpses, omens, and clues about events or futures through the veil of dreams, and create constructs involving divination like I Ching, runes, tarot cards and such.

Invoking: {Requires Ceremonial Magic}

This metamagic provides advanced conjuring techniques and access to new Conjuration Rituals. The most popular uses of this art is for the Ally Conjuration Ritual, Summoning and Binding Great Form Spirits Rituals, Calling the Wild Hunt or the faerie Rituals, and summoning spirits from the deep metaplanes like the shedim or insect spirits as well as helping said spirits handle evanescence and metamorphosis.

Geomancy: {Requires Attunement}

Geomancers see and manipulate the flow of mana around them. With the Arcana Skill and its new specialization Geomasonry; the Geomancer can alter mana flows by altering a landscape or designing various shapes or buildings that channel the mana. Things such as building artificial lakes, cathedrals, Wuxing skyscrapers, roads, pyramids, walls, and bridges which work with the Geomancer’s magic in manipulating mana flows and causing or preventing Sha and Shen events, mana storms, and other phenomena. Common uses of Geomancy involve the Create Domain Ritual, Harden Regional Mana Ritual, the Sensing Quality, Home Ground Quality, Filter Matrix Spell, Cleansing Ritual, Patronage Quality, Steward of the Land Ritual, Constructs which influence or cleanse mana, and the Dam the River Ritual. The Geomancer automatically detects when Assensing the Background Count of the region and the amount of Ambient Mana and degree of Aspected Mana at their locale if their Grade is equal or higher than their rating.

Shaping: [Attunement]

Shapers are master artisans and craftsmen who can create magical constructs called Objets d’art. Objets d’art can be so powerful to astral perceivers as to enthrall them and can even alter mana flows and aspect based on the theme of the art. While someone is influenced by an Objet d’art the artisan can add the rating of the piece as extra dice to any mundane or magical test involving influencing that individual as long as that influence goes with the theme of the Objet. The rating of the Objet’s aspected mana is equal to their Grade plus any net hits on an Intuition + Artisan [Lodge] Test. The range of the Aspected Mana is equal to the artisan’s Magic rating in meters though the range drops precipitously if recently moved. Shapers also can add their Grade to the rating of any Telesma or Lynchpin Art they craft for Artificing purposes.

Bardic Metamagic: {Requires Attunement}

Bards are able to use their Performance + Charisma + Grade [Magic] to cast a slow form of sorcery called Spellbinding that takes minutes x Force rather than a Complex action to cast. The bard slowly weaves mana into her performance and becomes the focus of the audience. Those who are actively unwilling to focus on the performance are able to do so with no roll. Once paying attention the target audience is distracted from paying attention to anything else and suffers a -4 penalty to Perception tests during the performance. The effect can mimic any Manipulation [Mental] or Illusion [Mana] spell and can only effect an individual or group who are actively paying attention or enthralled by the bard.  The bard handles drain just like a sorcerer would if they cast whatever spell the bard chose. The Performance has to match the desired goal of the spell such as a thrash metal ban controlling a mob to be violent with each other or a play about greed or lust encouraging that emotion or action inspired by that emotion. Adepts can learn this metamagic and in fact be amazing at it.

Nethermancy: {GM decision on Requirements though it should include Attunement, Dreaming, Masking, and Fate’s Edge}

The rarest of the known metamagics Nethermancy is an art covered in rumor and supposition. It deals with Essence, metaplanes particularly the deep metaplanes, aberrant and wild spirits, veils, pathways, and the boundary of life and death. It opens up many new magics including the highly secretive and powerful cybermantic rituals and constructs used in creating cyberzombies and the advanced magics used to handle faerie ways in Tir Nan Og.

Exorcism:

Metamagic that enhances Banishing by severing the bond of a spirit to this plane which painfully wrenches the spirit out of the Gaiasphere and back to its home metaplane or metaplace. Once Exorcized the spirit can’t return to the Gaisphere for 28 days per hit on the Exorcizing test. There are rituals, preparations, and constructs that the Exorcist can learn that can more permanently banish or destroy spirits especially should they have the spirit’s true name. The exorcist can add their Grade to Banishment Tests and can banish possessing spirits. There are rumors of an Ares Ceremonial Magic Ritual that has a chance of reversing an unfinished Metamorphosis into an Invae. The Sylvestrine Order has mastered several spells, rituals, and constructs that aid in dealing with the Shedim.

Dreaming: {Requires Attunement}

Dreamers can enter the dreams of other people for short periods of time with Dream spells that can find out information without being noticed like Mind Probe (Dream) or Mind Link (Dream) which lets you pass on information to a dreaming person to be recalled at a later time. For longer dream walking Rituals are required. Certain constructs can protect against Dream Magic.

Fate’s Edge: {Requires Attunement}

This somewhat rare metamagic allows manipulation of Edge, blessings, curses, and karma. New spells, rituals, constructs (luck charms), and preparations are opened up upon learning this art that are either more powerful than the versions known to vanilla magicians or allow the Initiate to do things that are seemingly impossible. This art is most often practiced by the gypsy clans, a sect within the Order of St. Sylvester that focuses on apotropaic blessings, magical societies that have extensive truck with free spirits as this metamagic allows rituals that can transfer karma, wiccans/hedge witches, and houngans.

Astral Protrusion: {Requires Astral Perception Adept Power}

This metamagic allows an Adept or Mystic Adept to manipulate their astral form and have it leave the physical body. To learn this metamagic the Adept or Mystic Adept must purchase Astral Perception as an Adept Power as a requirement. This Metamagic was developed by the Great Dragon Professor Schwartzkopf’s research team at the Charles University of Prague that has been focusing on a Grand Unifying Theory of Magic for decades and lead to the discovery by MIT&M in 2075 on how Adepts and Mystic Adepts can learn the Power of Astral Projection.

With this metamagic the Initiate can Astrally Protrude for free for the Initiate’s Grade in minutes a day and after that the character has a limit of her Magic Rating in minutes a day before her astral form starts to degrade which can lead to death or psychosis. This time doesn’t recover until the character gets a full 8 hours of rest. The Initiate’s astral form is connected to their physical body by a different colored cords or threads with at least one being silver which represents the character’s awakened gift. This astral thread can be attacked with Astral Combat or by a dual natured strike from the physical realm but since the thread has a natural sense of self preservation it gets a chance to defend itself normally though the character cannot use an interrupt defensive action. The speed of the astral form is limited to 100 meters a Combat Turn.

The Initiate uses their Physical Realm Initiative instead of the normal Astral Realm Initiative typical of a magician astrally projecting as they are so tied to the limitations and capabilities of their physical bodies that it transfers over to their astral bodies.The Adept Power Astral Projection requires this metamagic.

This metamagic also opens up more functionality with other Adept Powers in the Astral Realm.

If the Adept had Improved Strength +2 than that would also augment their Astral Form giving a +2 to their Charisma Rating to find out their Astral Strength. Traceless Walk transfers usefulness to the Astral Realm with the Adept leaving little or no traces of astral passage or trail and being undetectable to some forms of Astral Security by exerting control over her astral presence and the reaction of the astral realm’s mana to her form. Some Improved Senses work in the Astral Realm giving the Adept such as increasing visual acuity or transferring usefulness like heightened sense of smell allowing the Initiate to pick up a “smell or odor” when a particular type of spirit was in the area for example.

The Initiate can learn Astral Combat Martial Art Maneuvers and use them with their astral form.

For example the maneuver Ghost Lightning Strike allows the Adept to take advantage of the blinding speed of her astral form and strike a distant opponent with a close combat attack as long as they are within Magic Rating x 2 Meters. This strike can use Killing Hands or a Weapon Focus and the target must be an astral form or dual natured form to have any effect. This strike uses the Astral Combat Skill.

(This maneuver has the visual appearance of the Lord Marshall from the Chronicles of Riddick movie)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqtCfbLQug

Shadowrun Overhaul: New Metamagical Quality: Astral Impersonation


Astral Impersonation:

This is a positive Quality that costs 10 Karma after character creation and requires the Metamagic Masking and/or Flexible Signature and the ability of Astral Projection or the Adept Metamagic Astral Protrusion. With this Quality the Initiate can alter her astral form (with Masking) and/or astral signature (with Flexible Signature) to match that of another being that they have Assensed with 4 net hits or have an Material Link or an Artifact made by the target. With Ceremonial Metamagic and a Magical Lodge the Initiate can use a Sympathetic or Symbolic Link after an Assensing + Intuition [Magical Lodge] Test with 4 net hits. An Initiate with this Quality automatically succeeds in impersonation with Spirits if she knows the Spirit’s Formula or True Name.

The Initiate performs an Impersonation + Charisma  [Astral] Test with the number of hits providing the base threshold to see through the disguise of their Astral Form when the Initiate opposes an Assensing Test with their Magic + Grade.

For forging Astral Signatures add Arcana + Grade to the threshold of detecting a forged astral signature. Thus, the Forensic Magician would make an Assensing Test on a forged signature using this formula: Assensing + Magic + Grade [Astral] 3* + (Arcana/3) + Grade Test. They would see the false signature with 3* net hits and would need to match the forger’s Arcana bonus added to their Grade to see through the forged signature.

Depending on how familiar the entity is that the Initiate is trying to pretend to become there are penalties to the above total that need to be applied. A GM may rule that the Adept Power Voice Control can provide bonus dice per level to the Impersonation Test above.

Different Gender: -1 Die

Different Tradition: -1 Die

Different Species: -1 to -3 Dice. A vampire was once human so would get a -1 while a Blackberry cat would get a -2 as it is still a mammal and a Dragon would get a -3 as they are radically different than metahumanity.

Different Plane of existence: -4 to -10 Dice. A spirit close to metahumanity like a Guidance spirit might get a -4 while a Shedim would get a -10.

 

By Impersonating the Astral Form of another astral being the Initiate can bypass magical security as if they were the creator and even spoof commands to astral servitors like Watchers or Spirits that they can visibly interact with.

By Impersonating the Astral Signature of another astral being the Initiate can remove the actions of themselves or another and forge their astral signature to look like something completely different such as a spirit for example.