Sunday, March 31, 2013

Of Epic Destinies (4E)

In my post explaining my personal conversion guidelines, I mentioned the following:
Epic destinies and equivalent I would not want to touch mechanically, as I prefer them to be story-driven elements that, alongside with their Relationship Dice, One Unique Thing, motives and backgrounds, eventually become the pinnacle of character development, with story-based and rulings-based benefits.
Now I'd like to revisit this, since I've already homebrewed multiclassing anyway.  This may also aid 4E DMs not only in converting their groups to 13th Age, but also in conceptualizing mechanical benefits for players who, through story, are able to access these features.

But first, a bit of overview on D&D 4E's Epic Destinies mechanically:

  • Level 21 is a mechanical benefit, usually specific to each epic destiny
  • Level 24 is usually an anti-death feature (with lots of exceptions)
  • Level 26 is usually a utility power
  • Level 30 is at least supposed to be the most "broken" feature of an epic destiny, something that would make it all worth the effort
  • Epic destinies are all about writing down the end of your character's tale, in the most glorious fashion possible: by fitting them into the universe in a way that's most appropriate to them
  • One of the most ignored aspects of epic destinies -- Immortality -- provides the tale of your character's lasting memory to the world, something that they will always be remembered for
Here are the problems:
  • Sometimes it doesn't make sense that a certain feature -- being a Demi-God for instance -- only appears when you're level 21; it's as if the epic destiny would have to be wedged into the character's story
  • In the more extreme sense, it's difficult to swallow something like a Fighter who became an Archmage solely because he multiclassed into being a Wizard (especially if he did the multiclassing at level 20)
The fixes to these problems can already be found in my above quote -- utilizing Relationship Dice, Unique Things, etc. -- but I do realize that some people really like their mechanics, especially if the flavor is enticing and thematically appropriate.  

So here are two epic destinies for your perusal and enjoyment.

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Prerequisite: Depending on how the Archmage is usually chosen in the campaign world.  Is it a test of skill between spellcasters?  Is it an attempt to learn magic so advanced that even the most prominent of casters fail to achieve it?  Is it a ritual so profound that a few, if any, know of its existence in hearsay, but is so powerful that it would literally open your soul to the infinite vastness of magic? Is it only achieved through appointment, meaning that only by being the most trusted, gifted and powerful apprentice are you able to truly have a chance at gaining the title of "Archmage"?

Immortality: You have a choice: as the title-bearer of "Archmage", you have a responsibility towards the Dragon Empire and the Emperor himself, as well as your predecessor who has had the responsibilities of handling the various wards that keeps everyone alive and safe from various threats.  As the wielder of the Archmage's power, you have every incentive to explore the vastness of magic, even the possibility of attaining complete god-like immortality is very real for you.

Talent: Archmage. During each heal-up, choose one of your daily wizard (or sorcerer) spells. You can use that spell twice between heal-ups.
Epic Feat. Once per day when you die, you can choose to become a spirit of pure magic for 5 minutes or until the battle ends.  While in spirit form, you gain the Ghostly attribute (resist 16+ all except force and can move through solid objects during your turn), and can only cast at-will and per-battle spells.  Dying in spirit form is permanent.
If your body goes missing when the battle ends, you can continue to adventure as a spirit.
Epic Feat. You can spend a standard action to recover a spell you have used this day.  The first time you use this between heal-ups it works automatically, but for each additional attempt you must roll a hard save to succeed.
Epic Feat. Choose one of your daily wizard spells.  This spell is now a per-battle spell instead.

Thief of Legend

Prerequisite: Must be able to figure out how to steal the intangible.  Either that, or at the very least, try to one up the Prince of Shadow in his own game (being a better thief than the best thief in the world).

Immortality: Even though the Thief of Legend has claimed to have the ability to steal laughter, the colors of the rainbow, or even the dice of Fate, there is always that last challenge that's too tempting not to undertake. The question is, what can't the Thief of Legend steal?

Talent: Thief of Legend. You can choose to steal an intangible aspect of any creature you reduce to 0 HP -- a memory, a color, etc. -- with specific benefits as discussed between you and the DM.
Epic Feat. Whenever you die and are not raised after one hour, your body and all its possessions vanish. The next time a heal-up takes place, you can reappear alive and at full hit points at any place you are familiar with and is at the same plane that you died in.
Epic Feat. Once per day you can cause an unattended object or vehicle to disappear and reappear elsewhere (so long as the destination is in the same plane, and you're familiar with the destination).  Whether this is through magical teleportation or a very intricate network of spies and trusted folk, only you know.
Epic Feat. Level 10 only. If you do not have Shadow Walk, you gain it.  If you already have Shadow Walk, you can choose to take 10 instead of roll your Charisma to remove yourself from play.  In both cases, you can appear at any spot in the area (instead of just nearby your previous location), and can choose to sustain removal from play instead of taking an action.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

DM Idea: Relationships on a Fumble

Taking a few ideas from , whenever a PC fumbles, the player gets to choose which relationship to use to explain how he fumbled.

  • If he rolls a 6, the relationship actually saves him from the fumble, allowing him a favorable effect when fumbling
  • If he rolls a 5, the relationship explains why he fumbled (overall minor disadvantageous effect related to the Icon of choice)
  • If he rolls a 4-2, I roll a d12 to determine which influence had fumbled his roll (overall minor disadvantageous effect related to the resulting roll, instead of the Icon of choice; if the d12 result is the same as that of the selected icon, then it's the Prince of Shadows that influenced the roll)
  • If he rolls a 1, I roll a d12 to determine which influence had fumbled his roll (major disadvantageous effect related to the resulting roll, instead of the Icon of choice)

So if for instance you fumbled and you rolled your relationship with the Archmage...

  • a 6 might have caused a magical spark to come off your weapon, causing your opponent to stumble and fall to the ground (which explains why your attack missed completely).  Enemy is stuck and dazed for a round.
  • a 5 might have caused the same magical spark to come off your weapon, but the experience numbed your hand causing you to shout in pain as if you were jolted by lightning.  You are constrained for a round (or take a little damage).
  • a 4-2 would have me roll a different Icon.  Perhaps with the Crusader causing you to fumble you actually tripped.  You are dazed for a round.
  • a 1 would have me roll a different Icon.  Perhaps with the Crusader causing you to break your weapon.  Weapon downgrades to simple (but if already simple, weapon becomes unusable) until repaired, since you can still use your broken weapon as an improvised one.
When a monster fumbles, the nearest PC can roll a relationship to determine how bad the monster's fumble is.
  • A 6 would result in a major disadvantage for the monster, whose effect is related to the chosen Icon
  • A 5 would result in an overall minor disadvantage for the monster, whose effect is related to the chosen Icon
  • A 4-1 would result in an overall minor disadvantage for the monster, whose effect is related to a different Icon
Unlike PCs, monsters would not gain any advantages for their fumbles, but for DMs who want a more "fair" treatment of their monsters, the natural 1 would result in an overall minor advantage for their monsters.

I'll update this after I run this through with my players, but feel free to comment on this idea, especially if you've tried it already on your table.

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Overall minor disadvantage refers to a combination of an advantage and a disadvantage given to the creature in question: perhaps a major disadvantage is made less problematic by the introduction of a compensation factor, or perhaps the disadvantage is clearly minor.  For instance, maybe you can't make an attack (major disadvantage), but nearby enemies are dazed when attacking you (compensation)... or maybe you can't benefit from the Escalation Die momentarily (minor disadvantage).

Overall minor advantage refers to a combination of an advantage and a complication factor given to the creature in question, not so different from rolling a 5 in a relationship die roll.