Developer’s Journal 5: Drejk

Long time freelance writer: Wojciech “Drejk” Gruchała.

Drejk

Today I want to do a brief introduction of my first and long time freelance writer: Wojciech “Drejk” Gruchała.
Drejk, as is his Paizo messageboard name, has a blog over on Blogspot called
Shaper of Worlds. He first started his freelance career for me at Amora Game when I stumbled upon a class he was designing in the “Homebrew” section on the boards. This turned into our third product (that still sells regularly); Commander & Centurion for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

He did the Commander class and Kevin Bond did the Centurion prestige class. Drejk has come a long way in his writing and style of how he writes. I recently gave him a challenge to write a low level adventure scenario for our long dead Prepare for War adventure path. Of all the people to breath a bit of life into it, I think he is the one to do it. I’m excited to see him grow over the years in his development abilities. I can say of all of my freelancers, he receives the least revisions.

Now as a publisher, that doesn’t always do well for freelancing. I’m biased when it comes to his design work that he has done for me. So it is hard for me to see any flaws in design and go back to him with feedback. I commonly hand it off to someone else to review. This is my failure as a publisher and I recognize this, I just really enjoy his work. I will do better to give better feedback directly on this adventure.

So check out some of his work.
Under the name Drejk.
Under his name credits here.
His Patreon is here that helps to fund his free Pathfinder Monster Design Blog here.

Tentacle out!

Developer Diary/Friday Night Life: Time of Reflection 

I find myself spending the day in Hiroshima and doing layout for my Art of  War RPG and realized my artist did an incredible chapter art very similar to the photo I took above.

It’s nice to have artist and freelancers you can rely on to capture the moment. 

As far as the trip, it’s going well. I have traveled from Narita to Tokyo. Kyoto to Nara. Osaka to Hiroshima. Down the large “mainland” to this current stop and realizing there is weeks left to go.

Many shrines and temples left to find, with gardens to transverse. 

Developer’s Journal 3: Creating a Race for Savage Worlds

Construct Race for Savage Worlds – Terracotta

My gaming history started many years ago when I was just a young tentacle sitting around a table playing, if I recall: Vampire the Masquerade, but it also could have been Rifts While others might say D&D or AD&D or any other classic sword and sorcery game, my first introduction was modern day or post-apoc sci-fi tech fun. Now I make mention of this vague memory because within the last year, Savage Rifts was released using the Savage Worlds system. Which as a Pathfinder publisher, this is almost blasphemy for me to say. But I blasphemously say, I love Savage Worlds.

I always loved the d6 Star Wars game by West End Games, for it was an open ruleset to create the character you wanted. It had books and books and books of races from a 100 different planets spread across the galaxy. The openness of this ruleset reminds me of Savage Worlds.

So this week the tentacle sat down to try the race creation rules found in the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion. What I wanted to do with the playable race was to have statues that contained the ancestral spirits of the humans that had been brought to animated life. So starting with a little flavor of the above I delved into the book and followed the suggested rules and examples. Using the Construct template as the base, and adapting the flavor and a savage worlds ruleset for the upcoming Art of War , we have the Terracotta (First Draft)

Terracotta

The souls of ancestors of great reverance are entomb in the monasteries of the great cities throughout the land. Royal guards that have served an Imperial Family for at least 30 years or great leaders of rural communities can petition a secret sect of spiritual monks who hold the secrets of reincarnation. These monks guard the sacred ritual of bringing back life of those who have past, rebirthing them into statues of clay and stone. The Heavens do not always answer those who call, but if they are deemed worthy and the offerings are plentiful, the soul of the dead are pushed to animate the statues of their former likeness giving new life to the fabled fallen. These are the Terracota.
Preserved from oblivion at great cost, the terracotta are given a second chance at life. They must knowingly volunteer (or request) to an individual that must serve as a witness during the ritual. With the blessing of Heaven they return to full fill the duty they were unable to accomplish in life. Many terracotta remain in the service of the those that they served in life. Others have stood guard watching over the tombs of long enshrined Emperors they protected for centuries. Upon being brought back, terracottas negotiate their existence before the heavens and with those that bring them back. If terms are not agreed upon, the Heavens withhold their blessings and the soul passes to the afterlife.
Terracottas retain most of the memories of former lives and continue to perform their task. Many have been known to petrify in place where they stand or turn to dust upon failing in their duty. These souls are cursed and unable to pass on, leaving them to haunt the area where they failed. Those that succeed and fulfilled their contract, are given the second chance at life to explore and learn new things that they had missed out on previously.

Racial Concepts:

Immortal Soldier
Terracottas sometimes receive bodies carved from the strongest stone and hardened clay. The new bodies allowing them to take up weapons heavier than any mortal could swing. Going forth to fight again as undying soldiers in the rank and file of a Clan. Dying once only to learned from their flaws of battle and again to stand alongside the living to wage war.

Wise Hermit
After fulfilling their terms, they seek to continue to learn and research the things they were not able to do. Terracottas that play it safe live long and out last many generations of life to pass on the previous teachings to the next. Holding up in libraries and studying the lost arts or applying past techniques to new technologies, they are scholars willing to teach their skills to anyone that will listen.

Racial Traits:

Chi Dependent-2: Terracottas must align their chi for one hour out of every 24 hours to maintain the proper balance of control over their new form with a successful Meditation check. Failing to do so results in Fatigue each day that can lead to Incapacitation. Each level is  recovered with an hour of meditation. At Incapacitation the spirit separates the spirit from the husk and they perish. Alternatively, a terracotta can spend 2 chi points to skip this hour of meditation.
Created: Terracottas are constructs created of stone and clay. They receive +2 to recover from being Shaken, ignore one level of wound modifiers, don’t breathe, and are immune to disease and poison. They cannot heal naturally but must be Repaired (and ignore the “Golden Hour”).
Extreme Weather Sensitivity-2: Terracottas suffers a –4 penalty to resist a extreme heat and cold environmental conditions. It causes their skin to dry out, freeze and crack. If they suffer damage from an attack of these sources, this penalty acts as a bonus to damage.
Flesh of Stone: Their hardened material make up grant Terracottas a +2 Toughness at creation.
Heavenly Mandate-1: Terracottas are still bond to the heavens to serve a purpose after being freed from their initial reasons for rebirth. The being that agreed to fulfill their contract also gains a pawn on the material plane. This divine pact varies, but the terracotta must fulfill this duty. When there’s a chance to complete this goal, they’ll do anything, and take any risk to achieve it.
Inflexible & Heavy-3: Being made of hardened minerals makes it difficult for the terracota to move quickly. They suffer a -1 penalty to all Agility rolls. Their Pace is reduced by 2” and have a run d4 run die.
Unnatural-1: Death should be final for the soul so they can complete the cycle. Those that are rebirthed are seen as an interruption in this process. Not everyone favors the presence of the Terracottas and many view them as outside that natural order. They have the Outsider Hindrance suffer a -2 modifier to Charisma when dealing with those unaccustomed to Terracottas.

 

Overall: The concept of design when using SW is fairly easy for this race. The hardest part was the decision making on the translation of idea to mechanics. I’ll try to go over that next Wednesday for the Developer’s Journal.

Developer’s Journal 2: Rise of the Tiger Clan

Rise of the Tiger Clan

In this edition of Developer’s Journal we look at the 2nd draft copy of the history section of one of the three clans found in our forthcoming RPG Art of War.  This focuses on the the rise of the Tiger Clan


Tiger Clan

Clan Family Names: Date, Huang, Khan, Lao, Luo, Luong, Ma, Sakai, Shingen, Sun, Yu, Zhang, Zhao

Common Tenets: Benevolence, Harmony

Common Concepts: Buxist, Youxia

Common Descriptors: Caregiver, Elemental, Fluid, Monk, White-hare

Clan Technique: Deflect Arrow, Ground Breaker, or Moon Rabbit Leap

Rise of the Stripped Tiger

The story of the Tiger Clan begins just as any other points in history where the oppressed bind together to stand against tyranny of any form. The clan comes from the former nomadic traditions of the vibrant communities across all of the Hanxia Plains. Farming villages that hold to seasonal festivals to celebrate the life of the common people. They believe in the practice of a balance of living in harmony with nature and each other.

They came into their own when the surrounding barbaric warlords threatened their quiet life with raiding and pillaging. Warlords living in the Wylds looking to expand their territory ravaged the land with constant displays of violence. Sending hordes of raiders to raze crops, demolish rival warlord’s villages, the slaughter livestock, enslave those who didn’t pay tribute and desecrate sacred shrines of the Enlightened Way.

It was the keepers of these holy places, the Buxist of the Enlightened Way, were the first to speak out against the imbalances of oppression. These monks of virtue trained in the use of chi, developed physical techniques to align with the mind to perform great feats of marvel. The Buxist taught the basics of these techniques to the local villages in order to help defend against the raiding bandits. They trained while they harvested and fortified their homes with the offerings that the Plains provided to them.

It wasn’t long until the warlord by the name of Black Jade heard of a village that learned the secrets of the balanced path and looked bend it to his will. Arriving in the village, Black jade, went looking for the senior monk that is said to have mastered shattering swords with his fist. To his dismay, the monk had moved onto the next village, leaving behind only his wisdom. Black Jade pressed the village elders for the location of the scrolls the he had left. Offering first with money, than protection from the other warlords, and finally he used intimidation.

Those that were present during the initial altercation are said to have been divided. Some stood in fear, unable to move, while others instinctively responded with flight. Then there were those that responded with a type of aggression of vengeance. Vengeance against those who didn’t follow the basic tenets of balance, those that followed corruption, power and tyranny.

Those that responded became known as the 13 Heroes of the Cleansing Jade. They traveled from village to village spreading their interpretation of the old teachings and training them in defense against invaders. These teachings united villages into larger communities that began to take the names of the heroes as their own. Bring about the 13 established families.

As news spread of the fall of warlord after warlord, so did the Emperor’s eye turn toward the plains. Rumors and fear of revolt spread throughout the court, and under encouragement of Kitsune Samurai of the court, the Emperor dispatched a royal military unit to suppress any threats of the empire. Upon arriving at the village of Lao, it seemed as though life was proceeding as normal. The troops of the Kitsune Clan attache were welcomed with loyal cheers. When village elders meet with the diplomats, they informed them that a resolution was already in hand, and all the Hanxia Plains villages remained loyal to the Empire.

As the royal army traveled to secure further territory from the savagery of the remaining warbands, they found similar stories with each village. The royal emissary called for each hero to return with the Kitsune Clan as honored guest to tell their story to the Emperor. Those that agreed, arrived in the capital to a grand ceremony with an audience to appear in front of the royal family. It was here that, the Emperor annotated each of them minor noble standing. He called the collection of heroes representing each village in attendance the Tiger Clan for their calm and fierce demeanor. All members of the Tiger Clan were assigned the duty of protecting the realm from injustice, preserving the code of BuXia, and keeping the kingdom in balance.

icon-2-tiger-clan-monk

Developer’s Journal 1: Art of War

In this tentacle’s free time it makes RPG supplements or hires freelancers to do so under the company name that you can find in the widget to the right of your screen (click the logo).  Now we have made several different type of products, mostly focusing on the Pathfinder Compatible system. This tentacle originally wanted to create an Asian fusion campaign world inspired by anime, Three Kingdoms of China and the Warring States of Japan.

This project was originally called Project BuXia and was to be developed for the Pathfinder d20 system, but as things went along the mechanics didn’t feel proper for world setting. So we started to look at other gaming systems. One was Savage Worlds, which offers a free from character development and would be fast and easy to jump right in. The issue was multiple types of dice. This tentacle wanted to keep the system simple. Multiple dice served their function for the system of Savage Worlds really well, but we didn’t want players worrying about having to keep track of different dice.

We looked at OVA: the Anime Roleplaying System from Wise Turtle Games. It uses a d6 base and already has rules centered around anime fun. This tentacle loves this system, and everyone has d6s lying around from either Monopoly or Yahtzee. However trying to squeeze the world we wanted into this system felt forced. So we tried again.

We looked back at past systems to find Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd Edition. A classic system using an updated rules from the Tri-Stat System which we loved using growing up. Again it had everything we wanted and the game is designed for the Anime/Manga RPG fans alike. Expanded skill sets for customization of characters and templates for anime influenced build outs. The ability to scale the dice to the power level you wanted is great from GMs and Players alike. Our issue was the point build numbers were to large and as this tentacle fleshed out the world it wanted to create, we realized this was too anime. Our flavor text and world merging ended up more based on the martial arts films and samurai tragedies of the movies.

This shifted our focus to drop the anime feel and focus on a rich dynamic setting. We wanted to keep the original goal in mind of having a simple system using the same die type and no more than a handful of them. The game mechanics should be simple, open, and easy to  understand while offering enough character customization to have in depth backgrounds. So we looked at the base rule set of the standard Tri-Stat system and found our answer.

A simple 2d10 base mechanic system with a modified point build structure for character and rules. We came up with a house ruled system we call BuXia. This gave rise to the writing the introduction to the book (soon to be kickstarter) Art of War. The opening (unedited) text is below. It includes a brief introduction, theme & tone, along with what we call BuXia Code, similar to the Bushido or Wuxia code.

—————————————

Welcome to the world of The San Empire.

Art of War is a world setting where bushido meets wuxia. Martial arts, katas, and Chi are as commonplace to the farmer as it is to the Emperor. Youxia wander the lands protecting its people from burdening lords, as the samurai hold their ground against the Oni warlord armies. Feats of wushu masters running up bamboo trees and punching holes into walls, while a ninja clan moves swiftly along the moon clad roads skirting patrols as they infiltrate a castle. Elemental benders of the village summoned by the council to intercept and negotiate with the demon possessed monks that torment local farmers, all while avoiding hungry ghost of the forest.

Join me for an evening of listening to the guqin and shamisen. If we are lucky, we might see a geisha dance this time.

Theme and Tone

The Art of War takes place on the continent of XX, which is home to many bright cultures and traditions. Art of War focuses only one of these empires, the San Empire that is made up of three states joined under the current reign of the Emperor Wu Zhang. Under the Mandate of Heaven, he directs the sacred lands of the people controlled by the three Great Clans: Kitsune, Tiger, and Serpent.

What is the Art of War influences?

Art of War is a 32mm narrative miniatures skirmish game that pulls its inspiration from parts of Eastern History. The first being the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history that took place between the end of the Eastern Han and beginning of the Jin Dynasty. This period is often referenced as the Three Kingdoms period of Wei, Wu, and Shu.

The second influence comes from the warring states of Japan, known as the Sengoku period. Before the unification by the Tokugawa shogunate, the years of these warring states spans from the beginning of the Onin War and ending with Siege of Osaka. This setting also pulls elements from the Nara and Kamakura periods of Japan’s history.

The Kingdom of Joseon of Korea, the Tru’ng Sisters of Vietnam, the Tibetan Empire, and many other parts of history have inspired the tapestry in the creation of this imaginary world.

This is an imaginary world pulled and created from many aspects of history, but is in no way a representation or a perfect mirror of these rich cultures. It is a make believe place that is a mesh of ideas, thoughts, and historical aspects sewn together to created this project.

What is the BuXia Code?

BuXia takes its names from both the Bushido Code of the samurai and the Wuxia Code of the martial arts. Combining these two codes and infusing it with a mix of anime inspiration, kung-fu epics, and ronin sagas we create the world of Art of War. A world where individual members from one of the major clans come together to prove their might against each other to earn honor through experience or to face a good death. The following are the prominent tenets of BuXia.

1.     Benevolence: Those who follow the Path of BuXia look to help others whenever possible. It is a warrior’s duty to protect and guide those in need. In its simplest form, benevolence teaches that offering military protection against bandits, tending to the poor, helping farmers mill the fields when drought or sickness overwhelms them, and helping friends when in need. This tenet is the most prominent and widely respected of the all codes of the Path.

2.     Courage: The tenet of courage to a warrior is the willingness to confront hardship, pain, danger, intimidation and and the uncertainty of death to do what must be done. In BuXia, courage sometimes meets conflict on the battlefield for some warriors. Samurai concept hold courage as a central focus of their belief and are more prepared to fight and die without hesitation, be it by orders or from an unavoidable situation. However one of the shinobi concept will recognize that having a path to retreat takes courage when backed into a corner and fighting against unfavorable odds. A youxia recognize surrendering and accepting defeat in a duel takes more courage than losing face by not standing back up when knocked down.

3.     Harmony: Balance in the world, everyday living, between the body and mind are notable ideals that are not always obtained. Perfect Harmony is the highest state of enlightenment that very few have achieved in the world that surrounds the warrior and is is difficult to achieve. The practice of a kata but never wanting to use it if possible is the most common struggle for a warrior given that they are drawn to seek justice, which often lends to violence.

Those along the Path seek to achieve at least one aspect of their life to be in balance. A fortune and glory hunter will often lean heavily on their following of the Benevolence code handing their riches ones that need it. A swordsman may master deadly chi techniques, yet only use non-lethal force on others of lower skillsets.

The kingdom as a whole will balance their living with that of nature by incorporating gardens into their cities and only expanding when they need to for population purposes. The empire builds roads around thick woods to preserve a species of bird, and will knead the soil of the plains to cultivate farm land. Daily life supports the give and take needed to have harmony.

4.     Honor: Honor teaches that every warrior stands in judgment over himself at all times regardless of the circumstances. A warrior cannot truly follow the Path of BuXia if he acts as one expects, and not as his own sense of honor dictates. A warrior with true honor will follow the philosophy of BuXia even as every aspect of society around him falls corrupt. He will act justly even if he is commanded to behave dishonorably by a superior.

5.     Respect and Courtesy: The showing of admiration to wise elders, peers that battle alongside a warrior, or even those that may be less skilled but strive to be great are worthy of some respect. This virtue is a trademark of the Code in the San Empire. Concept Warriors are civilized heroes and are unlike the savage barbarians.  Respect and courtesy with proper manners at all times sets concept warriors apart from animals. A warrior who shows excess undue emotion and rudeness not only violates this code but can result in losing face, while respecting those around them and shaming himself.

Respect is a virtue that mixes with honor and plays a vital role in court. A warrior who suffers a failure of respect from those of higher status, demonstrates honor by enduring provocations and avoids drawing attention to other’s failures. In order to maintain face, many make a point to shun those that engage in uncouth spectacles and improper behavior, since to draw attention to discourteous behaviors can make matters worse.