Friday, October 28, 2011

The Magic value of Gold

Magical power enters the material world following several well-known channels. The primary source is, of course, the sun. The moon, planets, and stars also exert their own magical influence.

However, magic also streams upward from below. Vocanoes and natural springs, as everyone knows, are locations of powerful magic. Items that have their origins in the earth often retain powerful magical properties, such as crystals and, of course, gold.

The Magical Properties of Gold

The obsessive attraction exerted by gold upon magical creatures is well-known, and of course, felt by humans as well to a certain degree.

Dragons are the most notorious hoarders of gold, jewels, and gems. The possession of these magically-potent items appears to be connected with the longetivity of those magical beasts.

Some have speculated that dragons consume the treasures as food, but this idea is contradicted by the fact that dragon hoards never seem to shrink, only grow. The well-attested observation of dragons swallowing piles of gold seems to be explained as the method by which the dragon carries the treasure back to its lair. Presumably the treasure is regurgitated bird-style into the dragon's hoard, although this has not been observed (by anyone who lived to tell of it) to this point....

The Hoard of the Goblin King

The lure of gold upon the subterrainean goblinoids is also well known, most legendarily in the case of the hoard of the goblin king. Goblins who lair amidst the piles of gold appear to grow large and strong, perhaps owing to the magical properties of the magic-charged gold itself. The gold also appears to be used in their mating practices, as the significant presence of gold in their breeding pens attests.

The Minotaur Lords of Bullhead City

The shifting labyrynths of Bullhead City are reported to be awash in gold. The multitude of aggressive and powerful minotaur who constantly struggle for dominance there, however, has precluded much investigation.

It has been noted, however, that minotaur encountered in the wilds can be distracted and/or diverted by the surrender of bags of gold. Examination of human victims of minotaur attacks indicates that the bullmen have no interest in humans as a food source, only as a source of wealth.

The Secrets of the Dwarven Mines

As everyone knows, the Dwarven Mines are rich in two items: gold and magic weapons. How the dwarves produce magic weapons has long been a mystery, as they show no aptitude for magical ability in any other sphere.

It is suspected that the dwarfs somehow harness great magical power from the gold (and other magic susbstances) as they harvest it from the rocks in their deep caverns. This magical over-exposure may account for madness that overcomes those few humans who attempt deep delves into the Dwarven Mines. The hearty natural anti-magical resistance of the Dwarfs seem to shield them from the ill-effects associated with repeated exposure to these high concentrations of magical power.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

1e Oriental Adventures - reconsidered and reintegrated at Sin City

I am no expert on the industry, but I gather than the 1e Oriental Adventures never made that much of an impact. I remember buying it when I was 12 or so, and being excited by the possibilities (I mean, playing a NINJA or a SAMURAI, dude, sweet!!!).

Getting into it, I think we were a bit put off due to all the foreign vocabulary and never really used much from it. I think the reason it never took off, more than anything else, was that it was designed to be its own campaign world, it was not really well suited to plug-n-play into the regular D&D world.

However, re-reading it as an adult, I am really appreciating it for its amazing creativity and thoughtfulness. I do not intend to run a "oriental-only" campaign, but I have thought of some cool ways of incorporating it into my campaign milieu.

Integration into AZ Adventures

The premise of AZ Adventures is a dawn-of-civ frontier-type scenario, in which multiple colonizing groups are converging in AZ, struggling for dominance. I had previously postulated that a group of "Asya monks" had set up a monastery nearby Sin City (see here http://oldschoolpsionics.blogspot.com/2010/12/asya-monks-of-arizona-overview.html). I am going to run with that idea and expand it further: In fact, the monks are just one aspect of another major colonizing group (the Asya) approaching from the northwest.

Yakuza

Aside from being an Asya population center, Sin City will be run by Yakuza gangsters clans! Reading the description of Yakuza, it is as if they were perfectly designed to run the place. The text even says Yakuza come with 3 proficiency slots, one of which is automatically GAMING. Ha!

Ninja

And, yes -- NINJAS! Ninjas will definitely be part of the Sin City experience. They are basically Thief Acrobats with the ability to Assassinate, but they have to maintain secret identities, going by night as Ninjas but by day as something else. Special Ninja powers include walking on water, and, at a high level, passing through walls!

Samurai

Presiding of Sin City on the "official and public" level, will be one noble clan, with the family leader (Daimyo) and crew of Samurai. While they function as the public face of the city, they are not, however, the true rulers of the city, which is controlled by the Yakuza clans. Lots of intrigue, plot lines, and adventure hooks to be explored there.

Others

The Shukenja are the religious priestly-monk types, close in kind to Clerics. They have one temple in Sin City itself.

The Sohei are the warrior-priest monks, essentially like Paladins, great fighters who are able to cast cleric spells at a high level. They live with the Shukenja.

Wu-jen are powerful spell-casters, but they are more like wild shamans than civilized magic users, and they do not live in the city. Their spell abilities are like a combination of Magic User/Illusionist/Druid.

The Bushi are the low-class common fighters of the city, and the Kensai are the "sword-obsessed" martial artists. While PCs might run into a gang of bushi who would attempt to beat them up and rob them, an encounter with a Kensai would be a challenge to a one-on-one duel, like a shootout on a Wild West street....

All in all, as you can tell, Sin City would be a very fun place to adventure in.

Asya Colonizing Pressures

As a colonizing group, the Asya would be pressing in two directions: southward down the Colorodo River and eastward across Rt.666. A conflict point with the Arya would be in the river-side trade town at Blythe. Conflict with the Derjuden would be focused along the northern roads, as they Yakuza tried to move into control of the trade routes.

The Wu-jen would be naturally friendly with the shamans of the Dineh, and unfriendly towards the Druids of the Arya. Perhaps some Monmore missionaries would be present in Sin City, but not much direct contact between those groups would be evident, as they are on opposite sides of the state.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being detected while Scrying - the perils of assisted-astral travel and remote viewing

Very interesting note on page 119 of the 1e DMG:

"Various devices for seeing at a distance (such as crystal balls, various scrying devices such as dishes or pans of water or mirrors, and spells such as clairaudience) are DETECTABLE."

The astral nature of remote viewing

The explanation for this potential detectability is the fact that they scrying device is a form of assisted astral travel. The astral spirit of the remote viewer actually goes to the location being viewed. That is why someone viewing a scrying device goes into a trance while viewing, as their spirit is actually undergoing astral travel, their conscious mind cannot be with their physical body.

Countering the Scrying Attempt

If the creature being observed is a magical creature/spell user/psionic, it has a change of realising that he is being observed.

Detection of Invisibility Table, pg.59 of the DMG
detection of invisibility table

As per the DMG, if the creature realizes he is being observed, he can cast a darkness or a dispel magic upon the spot of observation (described in the DMG as a "small disturbance in the air caused by the magical viewing"), which is the location of the remote viewer's astral body.

Vulnerability to astral attack

If the creature being observed, or anyone at the remote viewing location, has psionic powers or the ability to see into the astral plane, the remote viewer would also subject to psionic attack. Attempts at "soul capture", such as a magic jar, could be conceivable as well....