Blog Archive

Friday, 28 December 2012

Saving the Best for Last: Alternative Saving Throw Mechanism

Saving the Best for Last: Alternative Saving Throw Mechanism

Alternate saving throws are used throughout one game or one scenarios and represent the entire number of possible saves to be made through the game by an individual character. Unlike regular saves the individual chooses which one they use regardless of the effect. Most of these are their base or primary save plus an ability score modifier. They can only be used once per saving throw or game cycle.

Regular saves for example call for a distinct type of save for a given effect. But using these alternative saves the character can decide which to use and when. The benefit is that they can better manage the disadvantage is not knowing when to use their best saving throw.

Every class, except for the Monk, have a preferred Top or Primary Save and a secondary save. Always use the Top save as the base save and add the modifier as noted in the name of the saving throw.

There are two major differences between regular saves and alternative saves, the first is that like luck, it can run out. Once a preferred saves is used up, they have fewer options until only their Doom Save remains. Because of their limited nature, Alt Saves are much more shared among the whole group, and they can function in exactly the same way. When an individual is required to make a save, they can use another player's specific save. For example a Rogue with a high dexterity can use another players Save of Speed, but if the other player offers or agrees, then it is gone. This is only an option if a single character needs to make a save, players cannot cherry pick their best save every time a saving throw is required for the whole group.

Names of New Saving Throw

Save of the Insightful Mind: Primary Save plus Intelligence Modifier
Save of Bravery: Primary Save plus Strength Modifier
Save of Esoteric Knowledge: Use Primary Save plus Wisdom Modifier
Save of the Inner Self: Use Primary Save plus Charisma Modifier
Save of Speed: Use Primary Save plus Dexterity Modifier
Save of Pure Power: Use Primary Save plus Constitution Modifier
Save of the Wild: Use d6+d20 but do not add the base saving throw
Best Save: Use Primary Save + any Ability Score Modifier
Save vs Doom: Use Primary Save but no other adjustment or ability modifier


One of the challenges of using Alt Saves is knowing what is the best refresh point, this depends upon the style of game you run. If you go through 3 to 5 combats a typical game session, then refresh every session. For more dangerous gaming, refresh by dungeon regardless of how many saves the characters need to make or how many games.


If your class, race or feat selection gives a bonus to a save, gain the adjustment to one saving throw once a save cycle, i.e. until the saving throw refresh.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Tsarin Fests & Holidays

Festivals and Holidays

Tsarins have some of the best growing soil in the domain, and keep a heavy trade with the Lyrrians, some Spirelanders and even people from the Old South. Their ways are heavily linked with the growing seasons and spirits of the land.

Guarded by Lord Sarinth, Tyrant of the Valley, these people have more luxury then most others in the land. They do their best to celebrate days and events that they hold dear to them. Any day marked as a Fest or Festival will experience heavy drinking and public intoxication as an accepted part of the celebrations. Merchants are always open, guilds and towers usually do not perform official duties. Many faithful also keep days of their own, but these can be celebrated at different days at various obelisks. Guards still keep watch, but are much more loose in strict interpretation of the rules (Except during Open Eye, when everything is followed exactly.)

There are at least seventeen days dedicated to drinking through-out the year. Many of these are local or have differing names, which are not listed below.

Day of Ash: New Years Day Fest, chimneys are cleaned out and children play with dirty faces, contracts are signed or renewed.

Chancing or Day of Chancing: Games; Festival of the Fey, used to gamble, drink and have fun as they beseech the fey to appear
Druids Day: Fest Day to celebrate the old faith and of farming; lots of nudity, children dress as animals
Festival of the Flask: Fest to celebrate drinking & fertility (of cork, of the Barrel, of drunkenness, of Bacchus) *
Harmony: Fest day of Songs, Stories and Bardic rituals, one of the few days magic is cast openly

Day of Devotion: Monogamy is not widely practised, so this is day to celebrate faithfulness.
Day of Trysts: Day after devotion, when unmarried people look for "love", fake marriages and bitter jokes for unwed maids
Truce or Day of Peace: Tsarin celebrate the truce with Sarinth, High Tyrant, ruler & protector of the valley
Open Eye: Day to keep the Defense of your city active; mock battles happen, and the king is “slain”
Day of the True (Born): Day of noble rites, family obligations, namings & proclamations. Mockings are held in the evening by many non-nobles.

Festival of the Mug: celebrates drinking & fertility (of Wine, The Overflowing Cup, Laughter, Joy) *
Fools Day: Tax Day, lesser debts are called to be paid by merchants, noblemen must pay their taxes, religious their tithes; in the evening one of the best celebrations happen for those with coin in their purse
Day of Dust: Day for the true dead; visit mortuaries or leave flowers, the dead are sometimes seen but never heard
Day of Veils: Day to respect for the aged and the wise; magic is believed to be more powerful this day
Day of Masks: Fest. Mix of Halloween wearing masks with ritual orgies

Day of Burning Hope: Sometimes called Yulen Fest, a log is burnt as well as small offerings to keep the cold away; visitors are always welcomed

Bounty: Day to honour mothers and Birthdays; held once a month; as all births in the month celebrated that day.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Clockwork - PC Race


Personality: Clockworks are living constructs, created to be warriors. They have little personality except for their unwavering devotion to the military.

Physical Description: They appear as gray-skinned, lithe humans from a distance.  They have dull metal skin, with gears embedded in their metal skin where joints would be for a human. Their unique physiology prevents them from wearing standard armor, as it has to be fitted to their exacting shape. This process costs three times the regular price.

Clockworks need to be wound up periodically to continue functioning. By design, they cannot self wind nor can another construct do this winding. Different models require winding at different rates, the default is a 72 hour time block duration that requires a wind for a ten minutes per HD (4 HD = 40 minutes) . The winding dial is under a plate on their back, that they cannot reach themselves.

Relations: Clockworks are a solitary race originally created for military purposes long ago, while the process is not lost, creation of new units is rare, time consuming and expensive. They do not have specific relations with other creatures or races. Most were once part of military contingents, but the clockwork armies have long since disappeared. New ones are either repaired specimens or the experiment of a cleric or wizard in desire for a companion. They have no interactions as a whole with other races unless they are either commanding the clock-works or an enemy of their commanders.

Alignment: Neutral. Most are uncaring about anything except for following orders.

Lands: None, they are warriors who serve other masters.

Religion: None, clockworks do not worship the gods.

Language: Most will speak common or dwarf; the few who gain a new language will try to learn modron.

Adventurers: Life is battle; battle is life. Warfare is the purpose of their existence, and they live to serve their commanders. The few who get separated due to magic or injury, make due living outside their strict military orders, but they usually end up working as mercenaries and create an ad hoc military structure complete with strict command authority and operating order.

Clockwork Racial Traits
+4 on strength; +2 dexterity
-2 on charisma; -2 wisdom
+3 natural armor; Move 30 ft or 6 squares
Reduced to 1/3 movement in water and for 10 minutes afterwards
Dmg Reduction: 1/-
+5 on craft checks for blacksmithing, +5 Climb; +5 on Acrobatics; -5 on stealth checks

Immune to non-magical fire

Construct traits (Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, disease, death effects, necromancy spells or any fortitude save unless it affects objects.)

They are immune to emotion based spells (such as fear) but other enchantment charm spells work normally on them.

They are subject to critical hits; their joints are the weaker spots. Called shots on a non-joint body part will not inflict additional effect.

Clockworks gain no constitution bonus; use Charisma for Con based skills if applicable

Healing spells have no affect on them. Potions have no affect on a clockwork.

They do not sleep; they repair themselves at a rate of 1 hp/hour if they take no other action. If they are not wound up, even at full hit points, they cease functioning.

A DC 15 knowledge (engineering) check will repair a clockwork to one hit point or repair the clockworks level in hit points once a day. Once fully active, a clock work can heal itself if given enough time.

Items that fit humanoids (boots, hats, rings, etc) do not work or fit Clockwork.

Clockworks are staggered at below 0 hit points, able to take one action a round (attack & move five foot, or a half standard move action.) They cease operating at -20 hit points, and if not repaired lose 1 hit point every day that they are not repaired. At -50 hit points they are damaged beyond repair and can not be repaired short of a limited wish spell.

Racial Hit Dice: 3d10; Attack and save as fighters. CR +3

Base 6 skill points, more if they have exceptional intelligence, to be used on core skills
Core Skills: Acrobatics, Climb, Craft (Armorsmith, Blacksmith, Weaponsmith), Disable Device, Perception

Preferred & Starting Class: Fighters

Restricted: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, or Wizard

All other non-restricted non-primary magical classes are available after first level.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sugon - Magical Monument

The inspiration for this is the AD&D Players Handbook, with a group of adventurers attempting to steal a gem from a large statue. Combine this with a statue of the Buddha, seemingly ever present in many people's homes and business, an inspiration and a reminder to people to meditate, pray and keep other principles. The Sugon is a twisted version of this, reminding evil beings to inflict suffering on their enemies.

One of the cool ideas is not to tell the players, depending upon how active they are. A statue that has no meaning to them, yet their eventually find in so many dungeons that they eventually seek out a deeper understanding.

Sugon - Magical Monument

On Nyssa, a Sugon is common slang for a creature or person of immeasurable patience few realize its meaning. Adventurers and evil creatures are more aware of the true meaning of its etymology, they originate from odd statues found in remote dungeon locations through-out the world.

This statue is made of smoothed black or dark Gray stone, most often appears to be plump human (or elf, gargoyle or bugbear) with demonic features, sitting in a lotus position, arms upraised, its face and body covered by a cowled robe. They can be a foot tall, hidden in a cranny, or thirty feet high in the main sacrificial area. Most are medium sized, found in locations where paid or suffering is common. Their face is always looking out, and its back is up against a wall. They are never on a raised dais, always on the ground or floor. Many times small offerings of coins, bones, blood soaked cloth or mirrors are left near the statue.

One of the great mysteries of a Sugon is where they truly come from. Nobody has ever hired someone to carve a statue nor does anyone ever admit to carving one. They seem to appear at night, looking for supplicants to show respect. What is even more odd is that there a many cases where a Sugon Statue will disappear and it cannot be tracked or traced, most times if a statue does vanish, a trail of brutalized bodies will be left.

One rumour, is that the Sugon can inhabit statues of their own form at any time, so best to remain calm around them as those the statue finds offence can find themselves being pummelled to death. Another legend is that anyone that meditates in front of the statue, can gain insight into the Sugon and learn from them. What they learn is different but the more time spend in quiet contemplation in front of the statue can increase the chance. The Sugon does not seem to care who or what meditates to them, just that the statue be left unmolested. Any disrespect shown will be remembered. another story, is that the Sugon is a (demi or lesser) deity of narcissism, and as long as someone meditates and shows reverence toward it, it is placated. It does not matter, who or what is meditating on the statue, as long as someone is doing it.

Anyone with knowledge dungeoneering can gain the following insights:

10: The statue is a Sugon, a non-specific force but ever-present sight in evil dungeons. It gives a bonus to those who reside near it. It does not radiate either magic or evil.

15: The statue helps those who meditate near it, after a month of continual meditation, it grants the observant a +4 bonus to anyone type of saving throw in the statue's presence once a week

20: For the most part, a Sugon is passive, letting evil and paid happen near it without interruption. If it loses supplicants or if someone attempts to harm the statue it has the following reaction (85% leave the next night, 15% come alive and destroy anyone that angers it.)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Low-Level Dungeon Encounter Table

One of my favourite things about combat in table-top role playing games is the random encounters. I always thought it a bit nasty or mean as the DM to deliberately pick creatures that you know have counter abilities to the players, which is one of the reasons I love encounter tables – you let the dice decide. I use a variation of this to throw things into disarray or just stir the imagination pot inside my head.  This can be used for adventurers up to 10th level, but the average level increase should be 5th level.

Low Dungeon

Use this encounter Master Table in a magically active area, less than a mile deep, so true underdark type creatures (Pech, Duergar) should be rare. It should be travelled on a infrequent basis by commoners, though adventurers or patrols are still there to do what must be done.

Encounter determination should be made at pre-set times, such as when a door is opened, a group descends a level, a loud noise is made, or every three hours check for encounters. Normally the base chance is 1 / 20. For every three additional members travelling together, add +3. For loud noises, add +5. All adjustments are cumulative. So a group party with seven people smashing down a door would have 1+3+3+5= 12 / 20 to attract attention. This gives a real incentive for rogue-types to scout ahead, their chance would be 1 / 20. You may increase the base rate (normally 1) as high as 5 then add the miscellaneous adjustments.

Alternate Determination: If the current roll doesn't make sense, such as a building feature due to PCs making noise, reverse the numbers (14 into a 41). If this still doesn't work, odd roll drop down to the previous listing, even roll go to the next highest item listing.

How to use this table: You may use this table during the game for every dungeon encounter check. However, consider pre-rolling a “hot-list” of the eleven (2d6) most likely creatures encountered. This way you can use the Master Table, and the hot list changes per dungeon, without players knowing what a specific dice roll is on the Master Table. I most often use the hot-list for known threats in an area, for example, if enquiring about the dungeon, and the locals say cultists and ogres, these should go on the hot list. Anything from the Master table (actually anything in the monster books or in my head may end up in the adventure) but these are the most

Features: The encounter table has a number of environmental aspects. Just like with a creatures, if something doesn't ”make sense” to you, you don't use it. I recommend you try to incorporate it, even if something is illogical or out of place, describe it that way. If all of the other doors you find are made out of wood for medium sized creatures, suddenly you find a double set of metal doors for small creatures.

1 Collapse, Deadfall
2 Angel, Deva
3 Serpent-Folk 1 - 2
4 Rakshasa, Dandasuka
5 Demon, Babau
7 - 8 Shadow Undead 1d4
9. Bats, Dread 1d8
10 Centipedes, Fast 1d12
11 Kyton 1 or 2
12 - 13 Bugbears (2d6)
14 Feature - Stairs (60% sequestered, 30% down)
15 Grick 1d6
16 Troll 1d4
17 Cave Octopi 1d4
18 Choker 1 or 2
19 - 20 Spiders or Snakes 3 - 6
21 Dark Creeper 3 - 12
22 Rhinto (often called rhino-dog) 3 - 6
23 Feature – Burial Mound
24. Feature – Mysterious sounds (echoes, howls, screams, lull-a-byes) without a source
25 Feature - Metal Grate, Chains, Column
26 Dire Wolf 1 or 2
27 Gelatinous Cube
28 Disenchanter Template (Snake, Bear, Wolf)
29 Rust Monster 1 - 3
30. Medusa
31. Green Slime
32 Troglydyte 5-12
33. Drider 1 - 2
34. Feature - Tapestry or Animal Hides or Straw
35 Feature - Magic Circle (Stones, Mushrooms, Runes) with protection vs alignment
36 Goblins 5 - 8
37 Stirges 5-8
38 - 43 Local Humanoid Sub-Table
44. Wraiths 1-2
45 Gremlin, Jinkin 3-6
46. Piercers 3-6
47 Feature - Shrine, pool or graffiti
48 - 49 Minotaur 1 - 2
50 - Giant Slug
51 Cloaker 1 - 2
52 - 53 Ratmen 4 - 16
54 Golem (Lesser: Clay, Mud, Flesh)
55 Mimic
56 Gray Ooze
57 Faceless Stalker
58 Feature - Door (trap or secret) or Porticulis
59 - 60 Lizardmen 7-12
61 Dire Bear
62 Feature – Machinery or Levers (95% broken, 5% may open secret doorway or other effect)
63 Feature - Pit (Bones, Darkness, Dead, Refuse, Water)
64 Gibbering Mouther
65 Feature - Razor Vine (d6 dmg if touches the vine, double damage if fall on top of it)
66 Terra-Cotta soldier 2 - 5
67 - 68 Ogre 2-5
69 Gibbering Mouther
70 Feature – Magical Fungus *
71 Skeletons 2d6
72 Feature - Crates, barrels, boxes (5 % treasure)
73 - 74 Mephit 1 - 4
75. Ettin
76 Otyugh
77 Belker
78 Intellect Devourer
79 Flumph (min 3rd lev sorcerer)
80 Feature – Large Statue (Person, Deity, Creature)
81 Decampus
82 Cavefisher
83 - 85 Cultist (Roll on humanoid table twice)
86 Feature – Small Statue, Stalactite or Other Rock formation
87 Slithering Tracker
88 Basilisk
89. Vampiric Mist
90 Ghoul 2d7
91 Urdefhan 1 - 3
92 Gargoyle 2d4
93 Feature - Body parts (Bone, Head or appendages)
94. Feature -Ruined weapons or armor
95 Feature -Trap (Magical spell 1st to 3rd level Effect)
96. Lurker Above
97 Feature - Dropped Treasure (d100 coins / 10)
98 Demon, Shadow
99. Daemon, Ceustodaemon
100. Feature - Gate or Portal (must be activated to use)

Local Humanoid Sub-Table:
Race 1-7 Dwarf, 8 – 14 Human, 15 Oread, 16 - 18 Lizard Man, 19 – 20 Company (Mixed Races)
Level: 1-8 2nd level; 9-10 3rd Level, 11 4th level, 12 5th level
Class: 1-3 Cultist, 4 Monk, 5-13 Fighter, 14 - 18 Finder, 19 Sorcerer, 20 Ranger

Quick Examples

Piercer, Nyssian AC 14, 3HD, HP 19, INIT -1, +8 d6+(2d6 surprise), Perception +10, Stealth +11 CMB +7, CMD +16

Centourax (fast centipede) AC 15, Move 40, HP 7, INIT -1, +14 / +0 /+1, tentacle +4 d6, Perception +5, Stealth +8 CMB +7, CMD +16 two foot long centipede,

Rhinto AC 14, HP 2HD, 9 hp, INIT +2,Bite +4 d4+1, (Horn +6, d6 / X3) Perception +4; CMB +7, CMD +16
Medium sized; gaunt doberman pincher with Blackish-Red fur white horn in the middle of its head, fast runner.

Magical Fungus: a mold that appears on almost anything in a dungeon in a two to five foot spread; non-sentient, comes in a multitude of colours. Radiates a magical effect within a ten foot radius. If consumed, Fort Save DC 14 or take d6 temporary constitution damage as a poison. If scrapped off from the substance, the magic fades in d10 rounds. These are just the most common types of fungus, there are others.

Blue Fungus – Calming, +2 on will saves skills or saves involving mental activity or concentration
Red Fungus – Rage inducing, -4 on all will saves or skills involving involving mental activity or concentration
White Fungus - Magic Absorbing, -2 on all magical saving throws; concentration check DC 15 to cast a spell within 60 ft of a white fungus
Silver Fungus – Spells have a 25% chance of rebounding on caster, 50% if cast near someone that made their saving throw

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Nyssian Piercer

One of my favourite dungeon creatures in previous editions was the piercer, a perfectly fit creature that existed in caverns. In third edition, it was nixed or morphed into something else depending upon how you view it. I liked the stupid simplicity of the piercer; you knew what it was, where it lived and what it did. 

Early in my dungeon and monster creation days, I scoured almost every book I had at home, looking for inspiration. I noticed a wickedly similar creature in the old Star Wars Marvel comics, except they lived outside, and rather then falling down, they “jumped” up out of the ground. This seemed like a much better version of what the piercer should have here is my melding of old, not-so-old and just a cool idea to use as a living hazard. It's done in Pathfinder but easy enough to convert.

A stalagmite thrusts upwards, tearing your ally apart, all around you dozens of similar stalagmites jump out of the ground, impaling your traveling party.

Nyssian Piercer CR 3
N Medium aberration
Init -2; Senses Tremorsense 60 ft., Perception +13


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 17 (+4 Natural Shielding, +3 natural)
hp 19 (3d8+6)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +3


Speed 10 ft.
Melee bite +4 d6 + 2d6 Surprise attack *


Str 8, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk +1; CMB +4; CMD 13
Feats Improved Initiative
Skills Stealth +19*, Perception +13
SQ Tremorsense, Damage Reduction (5/-)

The piercer appears as a stone stalagmite, the smallest being around four-feet tall. This is its outer shell. Inside, the piercer appears as a slug-like creature with a long tail. Two tiny eye-stalks protrude from its sides.


The piercer attacks by thrusting upwards on unsuspecting individuals and impaling them with its shell. While one piercer is not too threatening, they usually exist in colonies, anywhere from a dozen to one hundred piercers stretching out covering a range of over a thousand yard radius. Piercers often attack creatures when the meal is in the middle of their colony, presenting a hazard for creatures unable to fly or otherwise escape from the middle of the colony.

They are not too bright, but their tactics are effective when they have surprise. They exist in any environment that they can tunnel into. When their attacks no longer bring sufficient food, they begin their slow journey to richer pastures, they have hearty constitutions so they can survive for months without proper nutrition. Many evil creatures deliberately lure them to act as living hazards to protect locations. If you know where they are, you can can easily avoid them while walking close to their lunging spot. They generally don't care for intruders as long as the colony has enough to eat.

Surprise Attack: If their victims are not aware of the piercers, on the surprise round they inflict damage as a surprise, same as a rogue of their HD. 

Dmg Reduction: When piercers are below ground, they receive a 5/- dmg reduction as they are fully shielded. Out of the ground, they lose this protection.

Tremorsense: Piercers can sense any creature larger than 20 pounds within a 30 ft radius if they are moving while touching the ground.

Skills: The piercer receives a +8 racial bonus to Perception checks. The piercer receives a +15 racial bonus to Stealth checks when below the surface .

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Charr - Barbarian with supernatural tribal weapon (PC Race)

My tribal raider race that resides in some of the harshest conditions in the world. Due to their faith and community are able to summon a tribal weapon. They are both raiders and helpers depending upon the condition of the tribe when they are met.

These barbarians humanoids travel the freezing wastelands and raid others to help them survive the bleak conditions, not for personal gain. Each can call upon ancient traditions to summon a primitive weapon from their dreams.

Personality: Gruff, violent with few socially redeeming qualities. Friends call them dependable allies, someone you may not want to share a drink with but will want on your side during battle. Theirs is not a true egalitarian society, but strong women often emerge, and once they are proven in battle or raids are treated as an equal. Weak boys rarely live past puberty if they do not prove themselves fit or useful in some way. Charr are pragmatists, the elderly or injured who are unable to keep pace with the tribe, are abandoned without ceremony or warning; anything that weakens the tribe is a threat to all tribe members.

Their tribes may have one or two families, up to a hundred or so members travelling together. Tribes always determine supremacy among the leaders when they meet, then immediate accept the ranking and work as one. Petty squabbling or politics is not the Charr way. Their foes are the environment, the weather and anyone that does the tribe harm, not each other.

Physical Description: They are heavily muscled, pale-blue skinned humanoids with deep red hair, who wear heavy furs and a backpack filled with everything they may need to survive in the wilds. They ritually brand themselves as physical reminders of personal oaths and victories. Men tend to braid their hair; women cut it short when weaning otherwise flowing long. Women tend to be taller and thinner then men and excel at archery and running, but once they are mothers they refrain from active raid participation.

Relations: Other races give them their due, as virtually everyone has a story that involves the Charr coming to aid their people in need, as they help those weaker than themselves if they have enough on hand. When possible you avoid the Charr, and hope they will do the same. Some groups make it relatively easy for the Charr to raid their towns as they are horrible allies but the wastelands are safer with them being there. Some Charr tribes collect and stash magic trinkets, and may be open to
sharing their treasures depending upon the circumstance.

Alignment: Wild, violent and unpredictable. They greatly tend towards both chaos and neutrality,as nothing they do is personal, and will not inflict injury unless they must. But if anything is in their way, that is an obstacle that will be overcome without hesitation.

Lands: Charr are nomads; they travel the wasteland in a predetermined path, hunting and resting in a predictable pattern. They do not claim the wasteland, it is merely their path, and woe to those who get in their way.

Religion: Surprisingly, these brutes tend towards peaceful and nurturing deities. Often their leaders are druids who help the tribes survive without harming the already fragile balance. Some tribes have shamans (sorcerers) who act as advisers, though they may never lead the tribe or raids but are greatly respected and are their primary spokesman for relations with other peoples.

Language: They speak their own language, shamans often know common, faerie, giant or dwarven;

Adventurers: For the Charr, life is an adventure. In their struggle for survival, they battle the elements, tyrants, undead and anything else in the wasteland. It is quite common for individuals to leave the tribe to seek their fortune for a period of time. They are not derided in this choice; it is celebrated, as many of the tribe's best leaders have sought experience outside the tribe.

Charr Racial Traits
+2 on climb, survival and Knowledge (Nature or Wastelands Geography)
Gain Endurance as a free feat
Call Tribal Weapon (supernatural ability, see below)
+2 strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
Racial Hit Dice: 2d8; Attack, Hit Dice, Saves, and Skills as a fighter of the same level
Base 4 skill points, more if they have exceptional intelligence, to be used on core skills only:

Core Racial Skills: Acrobatics, Climb, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Knowledge (local, geography, nature), Perception, Ride, Stealth, Survival, Swim (core skills are always available)

Level Adjustment: +1 CR Gain +4 skill points, 8 hp, feat at second level and every two levels afterwards

1 HD Youth or Elderly
2 HD Gain Tribal Weapon; +2 to strength or Constitution
3 HD gain damage reduction 1 / -
4 HD +2 to strength or Constitution
5 HD specialized in their tribal weapon; gain damage reduction 2 / -
6 HD +2 to strength or Constitution
7 HD Divine Bond with their tribal weapon as paladin ability of the same level
8 HD +2 to strength or Constitution
9 HD gain damage reduction 4 / -

Advancement by HD levels; most do not gain class levels until 10th; most select Barbarian, Fighter, Ranger, Sorcerer. If they select a standard class before 10th, they cannot advance further on this table.

Tribal Weapon: Is a spiritual weapon, that all Charr learn to summon as youth in times of danger. It exists as long as they are conscious and are holding it. They must pick their weapon type below which can never change. (75% choose dagger, the rest usually choose Hammer.)

Psychic Dagger: Damage 1-6, Critical: 17-20 / X 2 dmg, Special: None / Check DC 8
Psychic Hammer: Damage: 1-8, Critical: 20, Special: X 4 damage to constructs, objects & undead. / Check DC 13
Psychic Whip, Damage: 1-10, Critical: 20, Special: Improved Disarm / Check DC 16

In normal times, a Charr can summon his tribal weapon without difficulty as a free action, however during stressed times, (calling upon the weapon with less than 20% max HP, or when grappled and does not already have the weapon summoned or situations determined by the DM) they must make a concentration check at the DC listed. If they fail they must wait until they are longer in a stressed environment.

They cannot ever lose access to the weapon, thus If they are disarmed or try to throw the dagger the weapon dissipates. If both hands are not free, or if they cannot call out to their dreams, they cannot summon the tribal weapon.

Each tribal weapon from the same type from the same tribe looks identical, even down to small chips on the blade. They cannot describe where the weapon comes from, the best description is their dreams.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Obelisks of the Faithful (Magical Monuments)

It is a common belief that magical energy (Chra or Mana) comes from the gods whether it is given to the faithful (Priests) or directly tapped into (wizards). How the energy is received has long been questioned, but it has always been assumed that the obelisks are the key.

Obelisks are stone structures anywhere from five to fifty feet in height that are dedicated to one of the gods. They act as altars and worship sites, but they are much more that this, they are mana conduits.  Vitae Laenum Nem I, whose source is unknown and veracity unquestioned, explains that mana is a life energy that inhabits every living thing. This energy can be given or taken with significant consequences; if taken away, the living will die. When given in great quantities manipulation of reality and meta-physical laws is possible, this practise, is better known as magic.

Every creature has a finite amount of frequency that is contained within their life force. Creatures from other worlds have an “excess” of this energy they need and can bestow it to another without being harmed. The mana from the gods is incomprehensible, and they radiate it outward from the heavens. it is important to note that the gods do not give magic, only the energy used to cast spells.  Mortals can sense this energy most often through their hearing, seeming to be a soft heavenly chorus of humming known as the frequency, and is the most recognized telltale sign of magic. After manipulation of the energy fields, there is often a kaleidoscopic rainbow-like swirl around either the source or affect that lasts for a few minutes.  

Spell-casters tap into the frequency to cast spells, manipulating this energy via various means: clerics use their holy symbol, wizards invoke ancient words of power, sorcerers seems to be mini-conduits themselves. Clerics believe wizards directly steal the frequency, and for this reason there is a bad blood between the two. There are no gods of magic or wizards known on Nyssa for this reason. Sorcerers are tolerated, as they are believed to be gifted. Wizards tolerate clerics, they think the faithful are toadies that offer coin and hollow words for favours, yet they know that if clerics ceased their acts of piety, the energy for magic, potentially would fade away.

It was the gods, wanting to help their followers, that began to send some of this energy to the mortal plane. Because these heavenly beings are unable to directly enter the mortal planes, they sent their angelic hosts to teach their followers how to build the first and maintain control of the obelisks. In the space between, the chra or raw magical energy is in oceans, swirling in currents and eddies of raw unblemished energies. (Mana comes from living creatures, chra does not, but it can be used just the same.)

Even if unmanned, obelisks conduits tap into the astral to release the energy in the mortal plane as a small outward invisible stream. Interestingly even though obelisks are dedicated to one power, all priests regardless of the god worshipped can gather the energy through any obelisk. Many are virtual temples with hundreds or thousands of faithful coming daily or weekly to give praise and sacrifices to the power they worship. Some do not have resident priests and may be visited only once or twice in a year. They are always outside, though they may have buildings near it. Most are in cities often within site of other obelisks dedicated to other gods.

It is the reliance on obelisks which is both a strength and hindrance for clerics. Many obelisks can give increased energy, power or insight, especially to their faithful. But as they get farther away from obelisk, a priest`s power wanes. There are places, such as in the Hopeless Sea, that magic cannot be cast simply because there is no nearby connection to the obelisks. While wizards and sorcerers are far less reliant on these devices, they too can fall prey to being far enough away from an obelisk that they start to lose their capacity for highest levels of magic.

Obelisks can be created in various ways, the most practical is to carve one out of stone, then have a priest bless it. These are the most common and are often great works of art, sculpted over a long time and financed by the faithful. They often have pictures of the gods or their forms on one side as well as the “common” located on another. Others appear due to wondrous acts of faith, appearing overnight as a sign of favour from the god. Lastly they can be created through spell for high-level priests who wish to spread their religion or begin a monastery.

Yet, as important spiritually as they are, an obelisk does have a physical form and it can be destroyed. It will not happen by magical or natural means. Lightning will not strike it and spells cast to harm it merely reabsorbs the energy used to cast the spell itself.  Deliberate acts of violence by mortals can destroy the obelisk as if it were a mere stone monument. Most have the faithful as well as other guardians protecting them and it is only after a long protracted struggle could most obelisks be left vulnerable to such attacks.

Every obelisk can be used as a exiting teleportation site by any outer planar creature. Creatures can only step through if they are allied to the dedicated god and there is a cleric willing the creature to step thru. There are other unique magics such as resurrection spells which can only be cast near an obelisk.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Nyssarian Languages

At some point many years ago, when creating my own campaign world, I thought that there was too little emphasis on languages. If it's a world, a big world, shouldn't there be lots of them. The problem, of course, is that it can get in the way of in-game action.

Most creatures speak at least two languages, their own and the most common language of the area, so a party with a human, dwarf and elf can be almost anywhere in the world and find someone in a town or tribe that they can speak with.

For script, if in a human town use Nyssarian. If in the forest, use faerie. Everywhere else, assume they use the Dwarven script, exceptions noted.

General Languages Guide

The common tongue is also known as Nysarian; approximately 90% of all humans know this as their home-speech, as do those humanoids who reside near human communities such as gnomes & halflings. Many integrated races do not have a racial language.

Elves speak Faerie, the language of the fey. Bardic music is written in faerie script.

The language that mortals call Draconic is actually Lizardith. Dragon is a language that only dragons can speak and few scholars understand. It is believed Dragon has no script. Most adult dragons know at least three languages, but if you are pleading for mercy, do so in Celestial.

Lizardith is the standard tongue and script of all lizard-men and all other intelligent reptiles. Lizardith has a script that is 99% the same as Dwarven, but they claim it as their own. Lizard-men rarely use magical runes, they prefer talismans.

Dwarven is widely used and recognized. Most mountainous regions & creatures in the spirelands speak Dwarven. It has a script that is virtually identical to Lizardith and both claim it as their own. It is by far the most common written language, as almost 90% of all magical runes are in this script.

Hembrian is the language of the old magical empire that once spanned the domain. Only wizards may learn this out of campaign; in game, characters may learn under the right circumstances, it takes two slots to learn both the verbal and written forms. (4 skill slots in total) This is the equivalent of read magic as a skill not spell.

Celestial is the language of the holy heavens, used in parts of the Spirelands and the Phastian desert; the faithful of Japeth and Quanna also learn this for use in their rituals

Oromian is known as the trade tongue or simply Trade; Oromians prefer speaking Nysarian. On the Isle of Oromos, Oromians speak this to the native elves.

Dral: sound-less hand code, named after the honoured elves of the same name. Only elves may learn this out of campaign; in game, characters may learn under the right circumstances. The gestures are so subtle, non-fluent watchers must make a Sense Motive Check (DC 12) to even realize some sort of message was sent.

Shaerl: oriental language of the far east. Unlike Nyssarian magic, Shaerl magic is also written in their native tongue, thus anyone can activate these runes by speaking the command words.

Phastian: language and script for the southern desert lands, some speak Lizardith or celestial as well.

Minotaur: Often called Horn; standard language for the Knossil, Jahlen, Orynix and Ferrasil. When needed they use Fae script, but none of these races use written communication regularly.

Druidic: An evolved version of Faerie, uses a different script as well. There is total comprehension between the two. Awakened animals can apparently understand druid but cannot fathom Faerie.

Sylvan: non-existent; replaced by Faerie

Phaetox: same as Auran

Ignan: non-existent

Giant: Evolved Giants use the Dwarven language and script. Unevolved giants speak their own gutteral language without script

Terran: Equivalent to Dwarven

Infernal: Commonly used in Keranic ceremonies; it is rumoured Oromian merchants write contracts between themselves in Infernal

Abyssal: some areas of spirelands use this; there is no known script but runes are common for simple messages or warnings.

Shellar: language of psionic humans; do not use a written script but a telepathic one. For the Shellar, a picture can say far more than a million words. Non-natives simply get the mood of the picture or hear instrumental music.

Most used languages (in order of usage): Nysarian, Dwarven, Lizardith, Faerie, Minotaur

Most used Alphabets:  Dwarven, Nysarian, Faerie

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reincarnation Table with side effects

In honour of All Saint's Day, with so many souls still hanging about after their fun in this world, here are some ideas on using reincarnation in your games so we can try to shove them back in a different flesh bag.

Many of these are my original creatures. Some have racial levels only which means they won`t attain a true class until 11th level or so, others gain class levels like the standard races. Will be doing my best to post these in the weeks and months to come.  Both Druids and Clerics can reincarnate and it is the cheapest option if you are truly killed (another longer post as to what being dead means in my world.)  Also, this list is the general available, there are specific groves that deal with fewer body types so you can cherry-pick what you want, or potentially you can.

Unlike the standard spell, these are not mystically generated new bodies, they are the bodies of someone that has died AND agreed to have their body used for this purpose. In a weird way, this is similar to modern people who give up their bodies for modern scientific research. If a PC signs a contract with the druids, their body will be harvested for someone else and thus will not be available to be raised from the dead.

When someone pays the druids fee and very often provide a service for them, they are given a new body upgrade with full memories and class abilties. Their new body will only give them physical adjustments, mental abilities can be adjusted downward but never the other way around.. There is a minimum of six months between someone's death and their eventual harvesting. However someone's soul can be given a replacement body in as little as a few days after their death. It is believed there are a certain number of reincarnates druids will provide for any given soul, that number whether finite or not is not known and may be variable for any given individual.

Bastard creatures (such as half-elves) are not trueborn and their bodies cannot be reborn via this process. Likewise creatures must be native-born to Nyssaria. Monsters or magical creatures that are above 5 HD are also generally not available. Remember the creature must have made a deal with a druid to harvest their body, if they are so savage or extreme, this agreement will not be an option.

While the process has been used for a long used one, there are some known side-effects which are listed below. Unless otherwise noted these last 1-3 weeks after the new soul has been implanted.

Reincarnate Table

01-02 Necrite        Ghoul like appearance but fully alive
03-04 Slaadaz       Walking slimes
05-07 Primal         Powerful beast form
08-10 Corlth         Awakened Psionic outlander
11-13 Leaf-Kin     Plant Person
14-16 Jahlen          Golden Horn ram Humanoid
17-19 Minotaur  
20-22 Orynix    Silver Horned Gazelle Humanoid
23-25 Satyr        
26-28 Ratmen        See Pathfinder Website
29-30 Prickett       Antler headed forest dwelling humanoid
31-33      Quillian        Peaceful Humanoid porcupine
33-36 Ogre
37-40 Bugbear
41-44 Orc
45-48 Human
49-55 Lizardmen
56-60 Halfling
61-64 Goblin
65-68 Gnoll
69-72       Kenku
73-75 Elf
76-80 Dwarf
81-82 Jackalla           Jackal Headed humanoid, follower of Anuibis
83-88 Cat-Kin           Cat People
89-91 Charr               Savage tribal Wastelander
92-93 Changelings     See Pathfinder Website
94-96 Samsarans       See Pathfinder Website
97         Nerradine        Leathery skinned humanoids that absorb others features
98         Dossadai         Gray skinned, silver hair & eyes astral jumpers
99         Phaetox           Flame Winged Humanoid; physically cannot lie
100         Player Choice

Known Side Effects

01-10   Undead attack them in preference to anyone else in the area
11-15   Real memories of the deceased flash intermittently (5% potentially useful, 20% interesting, 75% mundane)
16-60  No side effect noticed
51- 60  Glimpse past dreams of the deceased past lives, no specific memories or useful details
61-65   Haunted by visions of their own demise
66-70   Still see their old body in any sort of refection
71-75   Haunted by the spirit of the deceased, will whisper instructions during tense moments (5% potentially helpful;, 15% wrong,                      80% not applicable)
76-80   Smell of the corpse lingers for 1 - 6 months afterwards
81-95   The new soul may leave the body and wander 20 yards or less from the body when sleeping (10% chance any given night)
96-100  The body has Unfinished Business and will compel the new inhabitant to complete its task

Friday, 19 October 2012

Jahlen - Golden Horned Ram Humanoid (PC Race)

At one point when designing my game world, I tried to totally avoid the most common races found elsewhere. I eventually relented as I could see the benefit of having these there, but they are usually in the background. One of my "original" races, apart of the horned kin, which fits a more beastial aspect to certain
areas of my world.

What are these guys - well think bighorn sheep humanoids, with golden horns. They are fiercely devoted to their horns, both as a weapon & because it represents their tribe. The same way the animals butt heads, so too with this fantasy counter-parts, they are playful and sporty, always ready to jump into battle, traversing the high mountain cliffs with steadfast hooves. Why golden horns...not really sure why at this point, its just who these are.

Jahlen - Golden Horned Ram Humanoid

Personality: Stubborn and determined, jahlen are hardy warriors who are fiercely loyal to both family and their independence. As strict vegetarians, they maintain balance of the land while caring for their own needs. These humanoid rams are playful beings, excelling in sports such as head butting, jumping, climbing and riding. Enjoying the camaraderie, they are never shamed to lose in a fair contest, and use it as a means to judge their own abilities and to train for battle.

Physical Description: These ram humanoids are six and a half feet tall, with thick, curled golden horns with short white, gray or brown fur, hooves instead of feet. They have four digits: two fingers and two opposable thumbs, Most wear some clothing but only need to do so in harsh weather. Their horns are pure gold at birth, but as they grow, it thins becoming an outward coloured sheen only, though there are legends that the oldest tribe members have pure golden horns.

Relations: Jahlen try not to get too involved with other races. They maintain a level of trust with elves and halflings, understanding their nature but not necessarily their methods. They often have a cordial relationship with dwarves; they share territory but not temperament. They are wary of humans mostly because of raiders who attack them for their golden horns. Jahlen  mistrust Minotaurs, their large brutish cousins, who they have often struggled with due to territorial wars in the past.

Alignment: They are individualists, disposed towards independence. CG is the most common alignment with CN, N and NG the next prevalent. Tribes are ruled by the oldest or the most charismatic and most decisions are voted on by tribes the elders.

Lands: Their homes are mountain regions and spires; wanting vast areas of grazing lands and certainly liking sparse rural areas to heavily populated areas. Many tribes are nomadic by choice, some do settle in villages if they can be defended with a suitable food supply nearby. They are spread thin, they have a strong connection with other clans, and come together for shared defense quickly.

Religion: Druidic faiths predominate; they worship the spirits of the land.

Language: Jahlen, Minotaur, Dwarven & the common tongue.

Adventurers: Jahlen have many reasons to adventure, but it usually comes down to them being wanderers by temperament. They seem to find excitement wherever they go, hooking up with adventuring companies to delve, profit and drive back the common enemy. They always return to the tribes, eventually when it is time.

Jahlen Racial Traits

Golden Horns. Hardness 20
+2 constitution, +2 strength
+5 climb, +5 acrobatics
Racial Hit Dice: 2d8; Attack Bonus and saving throws as Fighter
Natural Attack: Headbutt d6 dmg; weapon Focus (Horns)
Base 8 skill points, more if they have exceptional intelligence, to be used on core skills only
Core Skills: Acrobatics, Climb, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (local), Perception, Ride, Sense Motive, Stealth, Survival
Level Adjustment: +2 CR
Preferred Classes: Druid, Fighter, Ranger, Rouge, Sorcerer
Limitation: Jahlen do not use large bladed weapons. They prefer blunt weapons or their horns in melee, bows or spears otherwise.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My Sorta Halloween Cthulhu Themed Adventure

Day of Masks – My Sorta Halloween Cthulhu Themed Adventure

My gaming group has just begun a new adventure, the first outside the mountains, in a farmland town during the Day of Masks Festival. Asked to find a missing woman, they quickly realize that she is a sacrifice, which they determine is needed to appease a Cthulhu-esque entity. It is actually a reverse style cult scenario as they need to find the woman to make sure the entity is not awoken, and if she isn't found, then her newborn and unnamed child will be used instead. Those from the town who try to escape, are attacked by a dream-stalker (Mothman creature from Pathfinder Bestiary) which they have seen the evidence of, but probably will not have to face. The adventurers have been told that they can leave without repercussion, as it is only the villages who are blessed by the bounty must face the outcome of a sacrifice-less fest, which will destroy the town and much of the region.

During the fest nights everyone in town wears an identical mask and different coloured robe for the sexes. Adults imbibe outrageous amounts of alcohol and participate in masked orgies..all off-screen. Children engage in mock murders of the Ogre-Queen, which has fruits in a similar fashion as a pinata. They also sing a somewhat familiar song, “Ogre Queen is coming soon, coming soon, coming soon, Ogre Queen is coming soon best get ready” sung to the tune of London Bridge. (They are probably going to think they may need to face the ogre queen, this is a red herring that I hope doesn't delay the story or sequence.)

The mountain towns may have the same feasts as the farm towns, but Nobles & Men of Means, prefer the rustic villages during fests, because of the sheer audacity of the townsfolk and to free themselves of social norms. While people in this pseudo-medieval setting are pagan, the townsfolk i.e. every no-name NPC in this town are shit face drunk pretty much all the time. The players were fairly amused when after the first night in town, hundreds of townsfolk all gathered at the local obelisk (center of worship) and had a minor acolyte cast Remove Ailment, to remove everyone's hangover, so they can start work. *even better than coffee!!!

The group used trickery to find the Dark Dreamers Cult HQ in an abandoned building but it won't be simple to get through. I wonder what will they do if they can't find the victim? Will they seek aid, from the Not-So-Evil Church that has significant wealth? Everything is leading to finding the cult members, holding the woman prisoner, and deciding whether or not to hand her over to the druid.

Looking forward to seeing how the heroes face the challenges at our next game.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Quick & Dirty Duel Rules

One game night a character was ignoring every hint and pushing his luck with the local authorities. As a player he should be able to do what he wanted, but if it was two hours earlier, I could have run the scene differently with them putting the beat down on him. I didn't want to tell him not to do it but I didn't have a way to immediately put the decision to the dice in a “proper way” at that point in the game night. We did a straight d20 vs. d20 roll, he won, the character got away with being a smart-ass and we moved on. In retrospect, I wanted a quick, easy way to determine appropriate results, thus my Q&D Duel Rules were born.

Q&D Duel Rules
Used for quick resolution between one PC (called the primary) and at least one more foe. The primary always uses one dice. The other side uses one or more dice. The total number of dice rolled should always add up to 20. While called duel rules, it just means situations where only one player will roll. If more than one PCs get involved, these rules should not be used.

Dice to Use
If opponents are within 2 HD or level of PC, both use a d10 each
Primary is more than 3 - 4 HD or levels higher, Primary = d12, foe = d8
Primary is 3 - 4 HD or level less than their opponent, Primary = d8, foe = d12
If Primary taking on a group and HD is between 5 HD or levels more than primary attacker, use primary d4 vs foe = 4d4

This decision to use Q&D rules should be jointly made by both DM and player. The PC should not know which dice they will roll beforehand. It is an unplanned action, they cannot buff-up using spells, it happens right then in game at the table, during the story.

Add total BAB & Strength bonus + dice roll; (Total BAB of each side, highest strength bonus of any individual.)

Rogues & Monks (or anyone with a dexterity feat), may substitute dexterity bonus for strength if they are the primary. The Opponent will always use strength unless it is a one on one duel, in which case they may use Dexterity bonus.

Whoever scores higher wins, knocks the other foe (s) out. If the primary wins, they may declare their enemies either dead or unconscious. Take whatever is higher between HD + BAB or the dice roll as the damage the winner receives, but they never have fewer than 1 hp. If the PC loses, they have dropped below zero hit points and are bleeding. Assume they have five rounds before death, unless they are stabilized or healed.

Assume that the all duel action is handled within five total rounds.  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Cold Mountain Random Encounter Table

Cold Mountain

d%         Encounter
1 – 4      Avalanche or Rock Fall
4 - 7      1d2 Nyssian Troll
8 – 10     2d3 harpies
11 - 13    Building (50% dilapadated, 40% abanadoned, 10% Inhabited, roll on humanoid table)
14 – 17    2d6 Snow Faeries
18 - 20    1d8 ice Gargoyle
21 – 23    1d4 Wrapping Deaths
24 – 34    Undead See subtable 1
35 – 38 1d3 Mephit (Air, Earth or Ice)
39 - 42    Inclement weather  (1 -3 Freezing Rain, 4 -6 Snow Squal, 7 - 8 Fog, 9 - 10 Hail)    
43 – 46    2d6 Snow Ray
47 – 57    Humanoids *See subtable 2 & 3
58 – 60    2d3 Peryton
61 – 62    Dire Animal (Bear, Tiger, Wolf)
63 – 67    1d4 giant furred spiders
68 – 72    1d3 Lesser Oni or 1 Spire Giant
73 – 77    1d8 Yeti
78 – 81    1d6 Ice Salamander
82 – 87    1d3 Frost Fiend
88 – 90    1-2 Frost drakes or Wyverns
91 - 93    2d4 winter wolves
94 - 96    Ice Hag
97– 100    Sylph

Sub-table 1: (Undead) d8 Ghoul, 2d6 Cadaver, 1d3 True, d8 skeletal champions

Sub-table 2: (Local Race): 2-4 Phaetox, 5 - 8 Dwarves, 9 - 12 Humans, 13 - 14 Hobgoblin, 15 - 17 Jahlen, 18 - 20 Charr

Sub-table 3 (Purpose): 2-3 Religious Pilgrims; 4-6 Miners, 7-10 Merchants; 11-14 Patrol; 15-18 Bandits; 19-20 Explorers

Religious Pilgrims: will be either on their way or coming back to a pilgrimage. There are usually 10d10 d2 level cultists. There are usually, 25% of their number in warriors protecting them. They may be lead by a classed individual. Use the subtables under patrol.
Alignment 1-2 LG, 3-5 NG, 7-9 LN, 10-12 LE, 13 - 14 NE, 15 - 16 CE, 17 - 18 CN, 19 - 20 CG

Miners: Temporary work camp, with tents or log cabins. Roll 5d10 to determine number . Add 10 % their base numbers in warriors accompanying them.

Merchants: On their way to trade. Roll to determine product they are selling:

01 - 05 Fabrics,
06 – 15 Foodstuffs
16 – 35 Alcohol
36 – 40 Livestock,
41 – 50 Armor,
51 – 65 Weapons,
66 – 75 Fine Goods,
76 – 85 Alchemist Created,
86 – 90 Magical Items (Potions,Scrolls, Talismans only)
91 - 100 Basic Trader (Anything non-magical in the PHB, potentially)

Roll 2d10 to determine number of merchants (treat as d3 level Aristocrat). Add 50% of their base numbers in 1-2 level level warriors accompanying them.

Patrol: Warriors who will not attack unless the group unless they show hostility. usually 2d12 +10 of 2nd or 3rd level. They are lead by a individual of 4th to 6th level.
Alignment 1-2 LG, 3-5 NG, 7-9 LN, 10-12 LE, 13 - 14 NE, 15 - 16 CE, 17 - 18 CN, 19 - 20 CG
Class 1-2 Paladin, 3-5 Cleric, 7-8 Monk, 10-14 Fighter, 15 - 16 Finder, 17 - 18 Sorcerer, CN, 19 - 20 Ranger

Bandits: Will usually encounter a smaller group of scouts, usually 2d4 individuals of d3 levels, apart of a larger group of 5d10+20 bandits.
Alignment 2-6 LE, 7 - 10 NE, 11 - 13 CE, 14 - 16 CN
Leaders Class 1-5 Cleric, 7-8 Monk, 10-13 Fighter, 14 - 18 Finder, 19 Sorcerer, 20 Ranger

Explorers: Adventures, that are on a mission of discovery. Most likely (90%) they are company men, professional sell-swords. Use the table from patrol for alignment and class. There are never less than five members under normal circumstances. They never start off as hostile, but they often do not share any information about their given task.
Level (d12): 1-8 2nd level; 9-10 3rd Level, 11 4th level, 12 5th level

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Tsarin – Player available knowledge

Tsarin – Player available knowledge

This info is available to the players, both in game and with the use of Skill Checks, either local or history. In game terms, when appropriate to the situation or if a player asks, they can roll to determine if they know. Rumors, of information with a DC higher than 15 is unknown unless a player has some skill ranks in that area and investigates as appropriate, its never learned by accident. There is no guarantee whether these are true, but when needed I can use these without inventing it up on the spot. 

The Tsarin is a vast valley in the northern portion of the Dwarven Reaches. One of the few territories spared from the cold by a unique protector - the Ice Tyrant Sarinth. How and why so many races live peacefully beside a tyrant without being either destroyed or harassed is a mystery. He has claimed this territory as his own for the last 1200 years, the last nine hundred years uncontested. The land is his hunting grounds, yet he leaves the intelligent humanoids alone, as long as they do the same to him. This is quite unlike the instincts of every other known tyrant, feared due to their tendency to enslave or destroy every other creature around them. Yet a multitude of humanoid races all exist and thrive in his personal "space". In fact, except for periodic reminders of his presence such as ice statues erected overnight in a farmer's field, or the corpses of an invading army, the people are barely aware of his presence. (DC 5)

Other tyrants openly despise him for his tolerance of lesser creatures, and are quite eager to show their displeasure. Each attempt has failed, as Sarinth, obliterates anyone who dares question his authority. For his benevolence, the cities honour him with a yearly tribute, but he seems to care little for this attention. At least twice Cryssanis has failed to pay this tribute, and there has been no repercussion. Only those who invade his lair or stop him from hunting get his personal attention. He shows no interest for politics, at least seven human dynasties have fallen during his reign. The people, live, work, war and die around this great beast, just as ants do with a human. (DC 12)

Four races make up the majority of humanoids: dwarves, jahlen, gamorec, and human. The human presence comes mostly from the noble and commoners that exist in the mountain and valley, half comprised of farmers, miners or soldiers. The current Noble Family that rules is the Flavarian (Flav) Empire. Technically all Nobles and as well as merchant houses pay a yearly tax and swear fealty to the crown. With a well-organized military, and a Green Griffon Sash Knighthood, which helps to maintain order and patrol the wilder regions, the Flavs maintain a peaceful presence. Holding lawful principles, they encourage the people to be independent but loyal. 
Their taxes are considerably high for non-lawful churches as well as other noble families but their rule has been remarkably stable as the laws are published, and lesser nobles can be deposed for harsh edicts. (DC 6)

Most people here are traditional Sarithines, a conservative and pious people with a dedication to principles of freedom and non-interference. The nation has strong alliances with dwarves & jahlen, and are working to build up treaties with the elves and the lizardith population as they were recently non-aligned to the nation. Tenderfeet (halflings) are considered full citizens, though they tend toward the town villages, rather then the cities. (DC 5)

Flavs have been in power for less than two hundred years, as they over-threw the previously despotic Pollanic regime. This human dominated noble family was a military powerhouse that had earned the loyalty of the people with strict laws and obvious shows of military strength. Expansionists at heart, they fought almost everyone around to carve out the human territory, which is still the core of the current Flav nation. They also knew how to make peace, as the Pollanics were true to their word as long as it benefited themselves. They highly favoured the dark god Keran (Lord of Fear, Domination & Darkness, LE, Black), who paid no taxes and was the non-official state religion. They allied themselves with the Mandorrians from the Old South, and battle contingents often came to the peaceful valley to patrol or train. (DC 12)

They were also corrupt. They used their influence with many of the unseemly races to brutalize peaceful neighbors and used mind-magics to subvert anyone who might oppose them. This led to the Uprising, when three noble houses (Flavian, Grentic & Lenth) staged a military coup, to depose the Pollanic family and establish a just nation. Hathalio Pollan, the Royal Prince disintegrated the crown and rather then plunge the nation to war, retreated to Ecolas, their home-city. (DC 11)

**Rumor Pollanics have tried many times to regain the throne secretly, but have failed thus far and never through direct revolt, though many of their clan folk have called for it. (DC 15)

Though loyal to the “new crown,” the people remain stuck in the old ways, resisting the changes of the Flavs. Many speak secretly for the harsh rule of the Pollanics to return as they felt safer with obvious shows of military strength but so far, a popular revolt hasn't happened. (DC 11)

Closely allied to the Flavs is the Jahlen population. This humanoid-ram race actually controls more territory than either the Flavs or the Dwarves but the Natalle Jahlen are far less aggressive. They are natural pacifists with a druidic tradition, fighting in defense only. Hurting them is their lack of organized armies, and a decentralized population, spread out over such a huge mountain territory. However, their clans quickly come together for mutual defense, and they can spelunk or climb faster than any other race, and use this speed to make guerrilla attacks. The Flavs and the Natalle are working together, knowing that each can exist peacefully together, whereas many other races merely breed carnage. (8)

Gamorecs (orc-kin in the common tongue) do not come close in numbers to either the humans or jahlen, but make up for it by being stronger one-on-one. Two types exist; the first are barbarian nomads, living in small tribes roaming the valley's forests and plains. Except for occasional raids on merchants or farmers, are mostly harmless. The other type is a ruthless warrior, fanatics who desire the destruction of the elven and jahlen peoples. Their war-bands comprise 5 - 50 soldiers equipped with armor, weapons and sometimes mounts that make lightning fast and savage attacks. For now the Gamorec soldiers concentrate on jahlen towns and wandering tribes. War-bands found by a Flav patrol can be dispatched, but spotting one of these war-bands is growing increasingly difficult. Many are wondering when they will begin to make direct raids on Flavian lands. (DC 11)

Rumor: Some in the Flavian military are sporting the idea of hunting down and sacking the Gamorec tribes but for now the nobility want a peaceful solution. The Pollanics openly scold them for their weakness and call to war (DC 15)

Elves are significantly smaller in population than the other races, wild (Naric) and high elves (Noren) dominate the Lucian Forest in the southern part of the valley. The Naric are more than three times in number the population of their settled cousins, and have a great reputation for sweeping raids against evil foes. There is no animosity between the two groups, intermarriage is common, and many elves vary between the two paths throughout their entire lives. Elves more openly embrace sorcery magic than their allies, so many Military Contingents often have an Elven adviser, most Elves are dual classed, with ranger and rogue most likely the secondary class, assume all elves are minimum one level of sorcerer. The Elves avoid human politics, as they simply want to do their part in common defense as per the signed treaties, in return the humans honour their part to leave the Lucian Forest alone. (DC 8)

The elves once had a far greater influence in the valley, before the three century war with the gargoyles that created a pox to destroy their Elven enemies. The pox did its job quite well, decimating the fey population by more than 50%. The elves, along with their Dwarven, human and Jahlen allies then turned on the gargoyle driving them out of the valley. This was more than 150 years ago, and the Gargoyles still have an open bounty on their heads. It was due to the Gargoyles drop in position that has caused the Gamorecs to rise in prominence and the elves becoming involved in the human patrols. (DC 12)

Rumor: Though it is generally assumed the pox was cured, this is an inconvenient lie. The claim is that elves are now immune, but the pox can be transmitted, and this is why the Lucian Forest remains forbidden to outsiders (DC 15)

Even fewer in number then the Elves, Lizardith control three small swamps in the region, all neighboring on the mountains. These yellow-greenish scaled humanoid lizards are incredibly civilized, and perhaps are the even more magically inclined then the Elves. They are aggressive in raids when it comes to magic or treasure, but care little for pastureland or mountainous terrain. They have never been allied or enemies with the humans. One of the unique features of these beings switch genders between the male to female (and back) during certain ordained events, meaning at times, 80% of their population is one gender. Some claim these Lizardith influence the dragon Sarinth, or perhaps something far more dire. (DC 20)

There are two distinct dwarven traditions, the most numerous are the Thoric that live beneath the mountains and the the Jhoric who are land-less dwarves inside the valley. Jhoric once the undisputed rulers of the valley but wars with the Oni made them retreat to the point that they have never yet recovered from. The dwarves still keep up trade with their allies, especially the elves and Flavs, yet their age of glory is past. Some of the dwarves are branching away from their "racial" empires and embracing the Flav ways in the cities. Using their knowledge in stone working and sapping (tunnel making) they know they can give their human comrades a huge tactical advantage. So far their numbers are small, but their positioning within the Flavian society can only grow. (DC 10)

A newer presence has started moving into the valley, the flame-winged Phaetox have been arriving in the human mountain towns. They are refugees from Dacia, a Spireland nation more than 100 days travel North-West, due to a war with the Ice Salamanders. These incredibly lawfully bound beings tend to live in cities, and this is the closest locale for them to fit in. But some fear what this will mean to the population and the power struggles. (DC 13)

Rumor: stories about of one or more phaetox war-jammers or flying warships in the valley. This is disturbing to the Flavians for two reasons, one is obviously the unknown reason why the Phaetox would come with a war vessel, but the second is that jammer technology is unknown to the valley, and the generals know their defenses are ill equipped for such a battle. Are they planning to take over a city for their own use? (DC 20)

A multitude of animals that inhabit the valley, the Tyrant Lord Sarinth keeps this valley free of the cold as a private hunting preserve, and though he allows the lesser creatures to hunt, he has on occasion punished groups that would disturb the balance of the valley. The forest and the animals are his to use, and his cult keep his control absolute over anything that would threaten this gentle balance. Just as there are many animals, various magical beasts crowd the valley and the mountainside. Manticore, wyverns, trolls and giants all have their places in the caves and crevices of the valley. It is dangerous to get off the well-worn path, as these beasts are ready to pounce on the wary traveler. (DC 10)

Rumor: Many Lore-Masters in Axidin the City of Merchants claim that this is directly due to Sarinth as well, claiming the dragon’s ravenous hunger, has led him to devour whole tribes of trolls or ogres when he awakes from his wintery slumbers. (DC 15)

Rumor: Far north in the valley, close to the Sphinx Spires, several rogue wizard’s crystalline creatures wreck havoc. Zuashi, mysterious androgynous beings were once a fantastic source of both magical items and rumors. They have disappeared, leaving these killing entities uncontrolled, and attacking any spell caster that approaches them. (DC 15)

Just like every other locale on Nyssa, undead continually make forays into civilized areas. Luckily, a large contingent of slayers and Jackalla reside with Axidin, prepared for the undead hordes. In recent years the undead numbers have been shrinking, however, many unique and stronger undead have been noticed. (DC 8)
Rumor: Strangely, many slayers claim that the undead are drawn here by the remnants of necromantic cult centered in the city of Ecolas. Nokkaria, a Jackalla warrior known throughout the valley is claiming that a lich has awoken and calling his army. (DC 15)

There are four large towns and two cities: Ecalos, the Pollanic home city, Cryssanis, Axidin, in the south near the Lucian forest, Tou`vari (high mountainous town of mixed jahlen, human & dwarf), Nothan, Sarranos-Attell (the capital.) each has a mix of nobles, military men, merchants and commoners. Nobility were once undisputed lords of the land, but they still have significant rights or marks that are uncontested by law. Though taxes are significant for nobility, they own most of the cities and buildings and inflict a heavy toll and rents. Most towns would fall into disarray if it wasn't for the noble taxes, and they use their influence in every way they can. (DC 5)

Rumor: There are black towers in each the larger towns that are virtually invisible or just unnoticable as a cloud at night. Called Diablos, these buildings have no doors or other obvious ways to get in and radiate protection from all divination. Yet, there are things that periodically escape from these dark places, many say, from the other worlds beyond this one. Graybeards say the gates open every 700 years, daemons will stream forth to kill everything or take them back to hell and the timing is just perfect for the next Diablo Carnivale. (DC 25)

The best word to describe the rural peoples of the valley are traditional, with beliefs that stretch back thousands of years. One of their peculiar traits is that of druidic sacrifices of human volunteers. This was not done with evil, but practicality,as there are rituals that summon elemental beasts to serve the faithful or to keep other entities at bay. The Flavs from the start of their rule have minimized the public rites, but the Pollanics used these activities to further their own ends, often to execute their foes and made a great fanfare about the public spectacle. (DC 8)

Rumor: Sacrifices used to happen 15 times a year, at the end of every month. It then changed to four times a year during the equinoxes, then once a year, and now officially once every seven years. Flavs are trying to show that these old rites were never actually needed. Cultists hold to the old ways, and many claim the sleeping elder entities are now ready to awaken, and are planning a great event to unleash an unfathomable ancient being to wreak havoc. (DC 20)

Other than for the tyrant that bears the name of the valley, this region is best known for the alcohol & drunken festivities during the cycle turns. It is through these wild celebrations that most of the domain has heard about the Flavian wines and brandies. Several epic Bacchanal parties have literally torn towns apart in frenzies beyond imagining. Flavians are doing all they can to minimize the possibility of drunken rages, but are not trying to outlaw the events. (DC 12)

Rumor: None of the wild festivities just happened, a cult of the vine, is using these fests to manipulate events. This cult is growing and very easy to hide in a society where alcohol is so widely used. Fears of who is in this cult is starting to grow, especially in the capital.

The inner Circle is another secret cult that practices within Tsarinth. It consists of many former nobles who lost their power to first the Pollanic nobles. They try to weaken the rule of the monarchy to bring back the rule of Lords, when the individual land barons controlled the valley. They have many rogues and wizards in their service, however, their biggest problem has always been getting these greedy, self interested nobles to work together, their division is legendary. (DC 13)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

T’Sarin Themes & Idea

The current game is in a section of my world called Tsarin, which is a relatively peaceful valley that is renown for its vast pasture lands, its alcohol production (& consumption) and its protected by a unique individual, Sarinth an ice dragon. It is surrounded by the Reach Mountains which supports Thoric Dwarven lands beneath and the golden-horned ram-minotaur humanoids called, Jahlen on the upper region.

Sarinth exists as background, and should be simply impossible to reach until the characters get to be extremely high level. Just as humans ignore ants, Sarinth ignores the valleys inhabitants, their activities and politics as long as they do the same to him. He does have a secretive cult dedicated to his service, but it is unknown if it is true or just a bunch of fanatics that believe they serve him. (I'm unsure at this point.)

The main inspirations for the valley is Innsmouth, the coastal village in Lovecraft’s Shadow Over Innsmouth. Terrible secrets the citizens hold, that without sacrifices, a Cthulhu-esque creature will escape, crops will fail, and the peace end. While the ffolk are correct, a traditional sacrificing is needed, how and when is of significant interest to a lot of groups.

There is an ongoing battle of cultural values going on. Less than two hundred years ago, the valley, or actually the mountain town had a mini-revolution, when the Flavs took over. These are lawful good do-gooders, who believed the previous regime (Pollanics) was overly cruel to benefit from the situation. The Pollanics were in power for more than five hundred years and used the beliefs of the farmers, to push their regimes goals. For example they rigged the sacrificial voting process to execute traitors or clerics to unfavoured dieities. The Flavs are trying to minimize the killings but often turn a blind eye if its done privately. They are coming down very harshly on anyone who uses the old ways for personal benefit, though. Flavs have very clear, posted public laws, which is the only reason why they have a grudging respect from most other noble families.

To make matters even worse, villagers severely resent city-folk. Good intentioned they come to the town and are shunned because they are not kin. While Tsarines have long worked with Dwarves, Elves, Jahlen during times of war; the rural farmers shun anyone that is not like them in the villages and around their farms. The only group the farmers do not resent are Halflings and Fey. Halflings are kin, citizens and brothers, living side-by-side. The fey are everywhere and the farmers do not try to intervene with most of these mischievous beings as they are believed to bring luck.

Towns have both druids and clerics; listening to the druids for their advice to ensure crops fertility, but utilize the healing and other benefits that the clerics provide. Clerics are almost exclusively city-folk, assigned to an obelisk (focus of all faiths, replaces church buildings, literal source of divine magic) dedicated to mostly lawful deities. The farmers resent the continuous requests for tithing and prayers but are dutiful. The druids require little, seasonal sacrifice of grains, livestock and a yearly live sacrifice. People are generally pagan, so they worship multiple deities, so balancing is rarely a problem for them.

Just as beneath the sea there are dangerous leviathans, beneath the high grains that grow there are the secret societies with nefarious agendas. One cannot go into the towns without eventually interacting with them. Cults of strength (Duelling), Snake (Transformation), Dark Dreamers (Cthulhu awakening), Door (Fey), Moon (Lycanthropes) just to name a few. These cults exist in the city, but they seem that much larger and more menacing in the small towns. In fact some of the towns are completely controlled by these groups, so they don't just shun strangers but openly try to convert or kill them.

Alcohol is the primary product of the farming region as there are ales & whiskeys from Tsarin available throughout the domain. Each region has its own distinctive tastes and are sought out. Because it is so plentiful it is also cheap. Lyrrians say, 17 out of the 23 Tsarin fests involve praising alcohol, its consumption and its blessings – the other six days are just drinking contests. Twice a month wild Bacchanalia festivals happen, most correspond to the holy days just out of convenience. They love to drink to excess!

A small group of  Tethinners, (essentially tea-totallers) watching the ffolk when they drink. Fey also watch over their mates, who would be lost without their friendly, ever ready to be tricked good souls. But the biggest reason why Tsarines are safe are the loyal hounds at their side. As they say: Some men can be happy with a woman, many are miserable with them, but every man needs a loyal dog at their side. The hounds are identical to German Sheppards, but with a magical sense of smell. Many men have a dog at their side virtually every hour of the day. The wives often have a stable of bitches and pups at their side at the home.

The larger towns are always in the mountains, more sophisticated, or they try to be, as they are growing with people, profits and opportunities. Aristocrats and the merchant class vie for profits, going on long caravans. Towns are heavily fortified, and are prepared for periodic incursions of nasty folk from beneath the surface or the mountains. Only merchants and nobles are taxed, the ffolk pay with their time in the military if called upon service.

There's only one major city in the region, the former capital and home to the Pollanic Clan, Ecalos, it is the opposite of solace. Here the evil church of Keran (Spheres: Domination, Darkness, Fright, Preferred Colour Black, LE) runs alongside the Pollanics as necromancy, summoners and the many cults run afoul of each other. Every evil scheme seems to come back to this place. Fortunately, they are their own worst enemies. While there have been multiple secret attempts, no outright rebellion has occurred and this is still a loyal city officially. It is the only place where arcane spell casters can be found, though not too open.

Most adventurers are Company Men, hired swordsmen who accompany trade caravans and delve into the mountains for both treasure and to wage war on the goblin, troll, & gargoyle threats. Magic is omnipresent, but devices are rare. Only nobles have the right to use weapons or travel, but Company Men go on behalf of the company, skirting these rules. Farms and villages show adventurers a good time if they just pass through, but if they overstay their welcome, they are quickly shunned.

All PCs start as Company Men, but as they level up they will have the chance to strike out on their own, there are benefits for doing it both ways. Right now 90%+ of their booty is given to the company as they get a miserable salary, but they are ignored by the local authorities and given the basic needs, including healing. Eventually, they will probably establish either themselves as their own company or a permanent base, (fort or tower) on the frontier or just take over a small town. Or this is what I am expecting will happen.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Morale Checks

One of the rules I miss for later editions is morale. It always seemed to heighten tensions during battle, and then a relief at the end when the foes depart. There was a sense of believability that not all monsters fight until dead.

While some bloggers and forum posters say, that they decide when enemies flee, I really don't like doing it that way. I want that decision to be taken out of my hands as sometimes I am "too fair" or even "too mean." depending upon my mood and may not even be aware of it.  This is a game where chance determines outcome, and to take the dice out of morale, is equivalent to taking dice away from saving throws or even attacks. Set up the scenario, run the scenario and then see what happens based on the player's decisions and rolls, that is the game I want to run not to arbitrarily making every decision at every turn.

I fiddled around with the morale rules previously, but found that I had too many modifiers, which slowed the game. Instead this uses a starting base, default adjustments and situational ones. The trick is using just enough to give a sense of realism but not too many to slow things down. Once you have the starting morale check number you only need to track the seven listed situational ones, so there's not a lot to keep track of so book-keeping should be kept to a minimum.

Morale Checks

Battle often occurs randomly, when unknown, unprepared foes face each other. In many of these cases, individuals often don't fight until they are dead, instead they flee when scared from the battle site. While PCs never need to check for morale, retainers & hirelings will if threatened; companion creatures should never flee.

Morale checks happen when PCs fight groups of four or more individuals, if less then that, the DM should determine based circumstances, not dice rolls. Some types of creatures, such as animals, constructs & undead never check morale, as they do not think about their own well being in this manner. If the DM decides a creature should stop engaging in battle, rolls should not prompt that decision.

When to check Morale: After a quarter of the enemies have fallen or every four rounds whichever happens first. The DM should roll secretly, if the number rolled is higher then their current morale, the group will disband and immediately flee the scene.

Starting Morale

10 + HD + Best of any either Wisdom or Strength bonuses + default modifiers

After the first round of combat add the situational modifiers mentioned below to any morale check, this is important to track if a PC decides to use intimidate skill.

Groups use the highest or strongest individual among them from their standard race, for example if an ogre is heading a group of orcs, the ogre could fight until it chose to depart, but the orcs squad leader would make it for the orcs. The roll is applied, and since some individuals might be injured, some may flee while others will stay.

Default Modifiers are known at the start of combat and usually applied to all creatures on one of the sides and generally do not change. They always encourage foes to withstand

Situational Modifiers change as individuals are hurt or affected by the individual circumstance, these you need to roughly track.

Default Modifiers
Lawful                                 +  2
Defending Home                             +  3
Hungry or desperate                        +  2
Dedicated Cause, Brave or Elite      +  3
Outnumber foes by X to 1 ratio       +  X

Situational Modifiers
Exhausted                                      -  1
Minor Injuries (25% or less)           -  2
Serious Injuries (50% or more)       -  5
Fallen Leader                                 -  8
Fallen Spell-caster                          -  4
Shaken                                           -  4
Spectacular Display                         -  2

Raging & creatures immune to fear never fail morale
Intimidated: See Below

If rolling morale checks for groups that include NPCs, do not include the default modifiers, only the conditional ones plus wisdom bonus.

Cleric, Druid or Monk, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard: 10 + level + conditional modifiers
Fighter: 12 + 10 + conditional modifiers
Rogue: 8 + 10 + conditional modifiers
Paladin: 16 + 10 + conditional modifiers

Modifier Descriptions

Brave, Dedicated Cause or Elite: If considered elite in their race, known for bravery or on a special dedicated cause, the DM can give a bonus to their morale check. This should only apply to the best ranks, not all particular creatures.

Defending Home: If in their lair, creatures will put up a braver response, as they probably have no other place to go, so their only real hope is to win the battle.

Fallen Leader or Spell-caster: once such an important person is seen to have fallen in battle or left the battle scene, this will demoralize the troops, and make it much more likely they will flee. Note if in a unit where there is more than one spell-caster, this penalty would only be appropriate for the considered best or highest classed spell-caster. These are cumulative, so a spell-casting commander's death would inflict -12 on their morale checks.

Hungry or desperate: If so hungry or in a desperate situation , they have no other option, so they put just a little bit more into the battle, unwilling to flee

Intimidate: Normally morale is checked at specific time during the battle, however PCs can enforce a morale check on individuals by making an intimidation check vs someones Morale Number. This can be done after the first combat round. If the PC beats the creatures morale check, the creature flees.

Lawful: If aligned LG, LN, LE they add +2 on their morale checks, as their dedication to a cause makes them less likely to desert the battle

Outnumber foes by X ratio: If the foes outnumber the PCs, use the same ration as a base additional to morale. For example if there are four PCs and eight enemies, the enemies gain +2 to their default modifier. If there are twenty enemies to four PCs, change that to +5.

Shaken creatures are already trying to hold on to their wits to remain in battle, they are often the first to flee.

Spectacular Display: If the DM decides the PCs or their allies put on a display of awesome or particularly frightening sight (decapitation, unique weapon , magic weapon, etc) an additional penalty can be given to the party trying to muster their morale.