23 August 2019

Spirit Teleportation

Most demons worth their Evil have teleport without error, and actually most Outsiders and powerful magical beings in general will have some form of teleportation, as instant relocation is just that good. This presents an option for new flavour - surely not every spirit uses the same teleportation spell?

The shape shifting trickster disappeared, but did she burst into flames, discorporate into smoke, or just blink away? A knowledgeable character might be able to tell the type of a spirit by their form of teleportation. In addition, a creature who blinks away will probably easily escape a mundane pair of shackles, but one that opens portals will have much harder time breaking free. Teleportation becomes much more fun if it has some drawbacks or requirements.

From Charmed,
some demons demonstrating varied teleportation.

...how does this spirit teleport?
  1. You never see them teleport. Maybe you blink or get momentarily distracted, and they are gone.
  2. They crumple into a pile of (d6): 1) dust, 2) sand, 3) snowflakes, 4) dry leaves, 5) cherry petals, 6) worms, only to reform elsewhere.
  3. They transform into an orb of light* and zip into distance.
  4. They step through their own shadow.
  5. A (d4): 1) cloud of smoke, 2) thick fog, 3) explosion of sparks, 4) swarm of insects envelops them, only to dissipate with no one inside.
  6. Bright white door frame appears for them to step through.
  7. They cut a thin rift in space with their weapon or claw, stepping through.
  8. A hole into black nothingness appears and sucks them in, only to eject them elsewhere.
  9. They burn up into nothing, only to reappear elsewhere in a strange backward explosion.
  10. Space seems to warp around them and they "fall" into nonexistence, stepping from another fold of space at their destination.
  11. They dissolve into a puddle of (d4): 1) water, 2) ink, 3) blood, 4) slime, only to reform from a similar puddle elsewhere.
  12. They disappear in a spray of blood, only to claw their way back to existence through the body of some hapless victim.
  13. They draw a glowing line* in midair that transforms into a window to their destination once they enclose a full circle.
  14. They turn into a statue of ice or glass, only for it to shatter as they are suddenly elsewhere.
  15. They slowly turn transparent and fade away, appearing at their destination at the same pace.
  16. They disappear and reappear in a (d4): 1) beam of light*, 2) lightning strike, 3) whirlwind, 4) rainbow descending from above.
  17. They need to draw a magical glyph, often in their own blood, and then activate it with a touch.
  18. They discorporate into pixels and flow though electric lines to their destination.
  19. A spherical force field* appears around them, exchanging the whole enclosed area with a matching area at the destination.
  20. They may walk through any door, only to walk out of completely different door.
  21. Earth cracks below their feet and swallows them, spitting them out at their destination.
  22. They need to step into a mirror, or any other reflective surface.
  23. They may walk into any living tree only to emerge from another one.
  24. They disappear in a blinding flash of light.
  25. They quickly shrink into nothing, only to grow back to their full height somewhere else.
  26. No one ever realises they teleported, as they leave behind a stationary illusion that pops the second anyone touches it.
  27. They conceal themselves in their cloak or robe, only for it to fall empty to the ground.
  28. They find magical shortcuts - going around a corner or through the bushes will take them a hundred miles.
  29. They have a handy magitek teleportation gadget with a big red button.
  30. They journey through dreams and use sleeping people as their portals.

*) Roll for a random colour.

1 August 2019

Rules Worth Stealing

Reading through the rulebook of Encounter Critical, I happened upon several rules that I wouldn't mind in the least to see adapted in other games.

Low Attributes, High Skills
Rolling low for attributes is infuriating. Sure, such character is still playable, but it's hard to shake the feeling they are bad because of the low scores.

In Encounter Critical, low attribute scores boost some of your skills - low Strength gives bonus to Logic and Scholarship, low Robotic Nature increases your chances of Seduction, etc. As you'll be rolling your skills much more often than attributes, low stats don't make your character worse, just specialised in different direction.
Adventuring party as should be!

Class Quests
Every class in Encounter Critical has its own inbuilt mini-quest that must be finished before you can increase in level. Quoth the rules:
  • A warrior cannot go up a level until he defeats an equal or more powerful foe using a new kind of weapon.
  • A criminal cannot go up a level until he commits a new kind of crime.
  • A pioneer cannot go up a level until he discovers a new locale or secret of the wild.
  • A psi witch cannot go up a level until she wins a battle blind.

There is even a place on the character sheet to write the deeds down, so the player can later review what helped them achieve their levels. Not only does this add a layer of flavour and personality, it also doubles as easy back story if you make your players come up with the deeds that raised them from 0th level NPCs to level 1 adventurers.
Cyaborg planetary ape.
Great Companion
Every warrior eventually attracts a great companion. This will be a monster mount such as griffin or space monster (25%), an equestrian mount of great endurance and intelligence (50%) or a shield mate, a warrior or like mind and half the warrior's own level, who is absolutely loyal (25%). This occurs when the warrior gains a level, but the exact time is uncertain. There is 15% odds each new level; those odds do not accumulate. Roll every time the warrior goes up in one level. The warrior's great companion is once in a lifetime.

For any swords & sorcery game, this rule is pure gold.

Amazon warrior and her great companion,
from High Couch of Silistra.

31 July 2019

The Button

"Don't press the button," the scientist screamed, "or we'll get..."
"Don't press the button," the scientist screamed, "or we'll get..."
"Don't press the button," the scientist screamed, "or we'll get..."
"Don't press the button," the scientist screamed, "or we'll get..."
"Don't press the button," the scientist screamed, "or we'll get..."

28 July 2019

Encounter Critical Resources

Encounter Critical is a science fantasy role-playing game designed by Hank Riley and Jim Ireland from Racine, Wisconsin and published in early 1978 by Battle Star Games. When first published, Encounter Critical was unusual for its realistic approach, both for setting and game mechanics. Combat system derived from deep research and actual experience, and the rules were firmly based on the principles of true scientific realism. At the same time it combined two popular settings - fantasy and science fiction - into a single game, allowing the player to choose from multiple character races including Hobling, Frankenstein or Klengon, and from six unique character classes such as Doxy or Psi Witch.
... Except not really.

Encounter Critical began as a hoax by S. John Ross of the Cumberland Games & Diversions, posted on-line as a scan of old booklet he "found". It is an affectionate parody of 70s style indie RPGs, a gonzo, funny, slightly insane and surprisingly playable game once you get used to the rules. Mr. Ross later revealed the joke and released the game for free, also gathering quite some fan following in the process.

Unfortunately, the official web page is long gone from the face of the Internet and many fan-made resources are also rather hard to find nowadays. Below I've gathered what could be scavenged from the depths of the Internet Archive, for your enjoyment:

In addition, there is a wiki that covers at least the basics of the game, the Lexicon of Vanth that expands on the setting and background information, a very nice automated character generator, a blog ring of various fan blogs, the Phasic Archives that focus on gathering art appropriate for Encounter Critical, and several issues of Phasic Fanzine.