Monday, January 6, 2014

Defiler Magic

Blood & Bone is name I'm giving to Dark Sun like campaign I'll be running using old school rules. A key element will be the conflict between Defiler (representing easy power, exploitation, destruction, selfishness) and Preserver (self-sacrifice, preservation, creation). I've decided to adapt the Dark/Light side mechanic from recent Star Wars RPG. Explained below. But first, fluff!

The world was once vibrantly green. Full of diverse and gentle living things. Then wizards learned how to harness this life essence into what is now called defiler magic. Wizards being greedy and selfish exploited this source of power until they sucked nearly all life out of the planet.

The people rose up against these defilers. Forming the fledgling cults that eventually grew into the preserver priesthood of today. The wizards swatted away the people and their priests like so many ineffectual pests. But, people are tenacious and they endured under the wizard's tyranny while preserving what they could.

Over millennia, the once verdant paradise was transformed into the burnt wasteland we live in. The defilers had sapped and squandered the very power they had craved. No one will ever come close to the power that the wizards of old wielded. The life to fuel that level of magic no longer exists.

The few arch-defilers surviving the last mage wars agreed (out of fear of mutual self-destruction) to, finally, limit their planet killing wizardry. We know them as the Defiler-Tyrants who each rule one of the Seven Cities. They all scheme, plot, and search for some advantage or source of power that will provide the means to subjugate or destroy the other Tyrants. Meanwhile, they've tasked their Templars with hunting down and eliminating rogue defilers. And have allowed the preservers to flourish and continue with their hopeless task of restoring the planet.

Defiler Magic

Defiler magic is easy and seductive. Anyone can tap into its raw power. And those with training can mold it into powerful Defiler Spells.

At the start of the game session the Referee will place a number of disks on the table. One side represents "Preserver", the other "Defiler". At any time a player may flip over a disk showing its Preserver side. At any time the Referee may flip over a disk showing its Defiler side. Doing so gains the flipper one of the following abilities.

 - roll d30 in place of any single dice roll (of yours). Note: in place of all dice of one roll.
 - re-roll any one die (of yours). Note: in one die, not dice roll.
 - act immediately (rather than wait for initiative)
 - automatically succeed with a skill check.
 - gain d8+level hit points (can't exceed maximum).
 - heal any one wound or affliction (disease, poison, paralization, blindness etc.)

The number of disks and initial side are based on who is playing. Templar: 2x Defiler. Preserver: 2x Preserver. Non-preserver demi-human: 1x Preserver. Others: 50% chance of either side.

Defiler Spell Casting

Anyone can learn and cast any defiler spell which is 1/2 their level or less (round up). For example a 3rd level character could learn to cast 1st and/or 2nd level Defiler spells. Talk with Referee if you are interested in pursuing this path.

Unless you have a patron channeling to you (such as Templar's Defiler-Tyrant) or if you lust for more magic than your master deigns to pass on, you must sacrifice 1 + twice the spell level in wounds. These wounds can not be healed faster than 1 per day (even with magic). Although, these wounds don't have to be yours. And why should they be? You are the one with the skill and talent. The plebeians should thank you for the opportunity to power your greatness with their ritualized death. "Hey torchbearer. Could you come back here for a minute..."

Creatures, humanoids and especially magical beasts may be sacrificed to power Defiler Spells. This is a highly evil and worse, illegal act. Sure to bring the attention of the Templars. Unless, of course, you are a Templar. Then, I'm sure you did it for the betterment of your Defiler-Tyrant, right? Each sacrifice provides a die roll worth of "wounds" to power Defiler Spells. Animals d1 (that is 0-1). Humans, demi-humans, humanoids d4. Something like a Unicorn, as if any still lived, would be d20.

Sacrifice is all or nothing, no mixing. You must take all the wounds yourself. Or, get them from near simultaneous sacrifice. No saving or storing sacrifices for use later. Powerful defilers, such as Tyrants, can just suck the life out of anything near them. Others need to use a more hands on approach. Obsidian daggers are popular.

[Note on wounds: I typically houserule hit points as luck/fate/skill and wounds as actual injury. After hit points are gone, further injury is recorded as wounds. When wounds are >= to Constitution death occurs. In pure HP system I'd replace each wound with d4 or d6 hit points. ]

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