Friday, April 23, 2010

Castle of the Mad Archmage April Release Now Available!

Hear ye! Hear ye! Three months have gone by, but I am pleased to present to you three complete levels of the Castle of the Archmage in recompense for your weekend reading pleasure. (So I'm actually right on schedule!) Once you start reading the file, you'll see why I needed to release levels 9, 10, and 11 together.

The Lesser and Greater Caves and Caverns all come together in a massive cavern-- the fungus forest-- and there are openings into it throughout all three levels. Lots of cross-movement is built into this section, and so I thought it would be appropriate to release them together. I hope you all approve.

There are a few touches I am especially proud of. A certain prominent bad-guy from the Gord the Rogue novels makes a pseudonymical appearance, along with two of his closest pals. The gates to other worlds for which the original Castle was so famous are here in strength, both those well-known to aficionados and some new ones to befuddle your players who think they know what to expect. More new monsters (beetles!), and a passel of new spells (many to accommodate a singularly odd inhabitant of the fungus forest), and hopefully lots of pleasant surprises for you and your players.

As always, feedback is more than welcome, and if you ever end up actually running this for your players, either as part of your regular campaign or at a convention, please do let me know.

Just two more levels to go, my lovelies! The catacombs and then the maze await, wherein lies the deepest depths of the dungeons, and the secret of the whole. We're on track to have the whole complete to you by Midsummer. Stay tuned!

Download the whole thing --> HERE <--

Secondary Skills in Emprise!™

As a follow-up to my previous post on character skills, here is the current list of secondary skills in Emprise!™
  • Alchemy
  • Ambush
  • Animal Training and Handling
  • Armor Making
  • Artist
  • Blacksmithing
  • Bullying
  • Business
  • Construction
  • Detection
  • Forgery
  • Generalship
  • Healing
  • Horsemanship
  • Jeweler
  • Judgement
  • Knowledge (specific area)
  • Seamanship
  • Suborning
  • Swindling
  • Thespianism
  • Woodcraft
Some of these (woodcraft, forgery, etc.) come from or are similar to character class abilities, but most of them are not. Some might not even be something that most characters would want to spend x.p. on. The list is by no means finalized, but it will give you some idea of where I'm heading with the system. Basically, characters spend x.p. to gain a skill level in a particular skill (or a speciality within the skill, such as the music speciality within the artist skill). It is possible to gain more than one skill level, making it easier to do really impressive things with that skill, or do everyday things that much better.

I think this will turn out better than the non-weapon proficiency system in the Dungeoneers and Wilderness Survival Guides, for the reason that those two books just gave characters slots for proficiencies as they rose in level, automatically. So players (at least in my experience) were left to keep filling up the slots with proficiencies just for the sake of doing so, leading to characters walking around like Christmas trees decked out with all sorts of non-sensical non-weapon proficiencies, just because they had to fill the slots. In the Emprise™ system, taking secondary skills is not only a conscious decision, but one that drains x.p., so it's a real choice.

Bear in mind that the skill system isn't exclusive; that is, it is not the case that unless you have taken the seamanship (swimming) skill, you can't swim. (Well, that might apply to something like alchemy, but that's a special case, and common sense must prevail.) But characters that have invested in an actual skill level in something are recognized to be better at that thing, and so could swim longer, or faster, or deeper, than someone who had not taken the skill level.

And as a bonus, it forms the basis of the NPC hireling system. Win-win!