"Reread this often and check it before posting a question. It is frustrating to post these if folks don't use them. Also, please read the turn summaries thoroughly, even if you think you know everything in it."
- Paul Westermeyer, Jammers DM
Every player must post at least once per turn, regardless of whether they want to say something or not. The first turn without a post will get a warning (personal, of course, not on the list), the second turn without a post get you removed from the game (not killed, just removed in some non-lethal manner. If for some reason you know you will not be available to post for a period, tell me in advance, that is not a problem. And, I will listen to excuses and appeals fairly leniently, but I really want people involved enough to post, otherwise your character is just dramatic deadweight. Sorry to have to be a bit harsh here, but it is difficult for me to come up with NPC actions, as well as those for PCs whose player didn't respond. Not responding is simply rude to the other players and myself.
Start each subject line with the word Jammers. Helps me keep track of what's what.
Combat will occur in two round spurts. If-then statements are encouraged. I will roll all dice. I will keep track of HPs. Your HPs will be secret from all other players and yourself unless you request I send you your current HPs. I will describe wounds relatively. Combat turn deadlines are closer together (two per week usually) and far firmer. If you have trouble with posting during a battle let me know so I won't penalize your PC.
Do not post combat actions to everyone in the group. Combat actions should always come to me.
Use the two round action format during combat. I ignore any actions not given in this way. Be realistic as to how much can be accomplished in one round. Watching how past battles have worked should make this process much easier.
Here's a good set of examples to help people understand how the 2 round actions should work.
This is unacceptable because of the way I write the combat turns:
Rounds 1-2 Conan rushes forward.
Instead it should be:
Round 1: Conan rushes forward.
Round 2: Conan rushes forward.
Better would be:
Rd1: Conan rushes forward.
Rd2: Conan rushes forward. If he reaches the knight he grabs the knight's horse's reins while parrying any attacks with his sword.
Note: Colorful narrative interspersed with actions makes my job easier and causes me to be favourably inclined towards your character. It is not a requirement however. It is just easier to modify your narrative then it is to come up with my own whole cloth.
For those used to my tabletop game (or trying to use the House Rules I posted) describing this:
Conan swings his sword mightily towards the knight's head.
Does not a called shot make unless you type:
Conan swings his sword mightily towards the knight's head. (called shot)
However, Players may post "descriptive" posts to the list. This includes verbal exchanges, visual signals, and even descriptions of what your PC is doing. However, you as players must keep track of locations and may not take advantage of information your PC wouldn't have. I will try to post guidelines on who is visible to who with each turn. (I might say, for example, "Everyone can glance at each other, except Antonio who is flying high above in the dark, and Thand who is trapped in the cave") If a player is invisible they may only post verbal actions of course. Descriptive posts should never include game stats or spell names, but do not have to include if/then concepts or round designations. They can (and should) be somewhat general, though in some cases specific actions are fine: "Thand attacks the two orcs before him viciously", "Alwyna climbs the rope until she reaches the second story, then swings onto the roof and attacks the orc from behind".
Spell names and magical effects should never be described in a descriptive post. You may describe how you cast a spell, but never describe the effects, after all someone may disrupt your casting, and the others shouldn't know which spell was ruined. Those with spellcraft NWP may ask me if they can identify a spell being cast.
I will try to post "descriptive" posts for the bad guys in battle, but I may not always remember. If I do post such remember they are not set in stone, I might alter their actions according to what you do.
Descriptive posts are not required. Players do not have to post them if they don't wish to. Descriptive posts do not replace the actions sent to me, nor do they replace if/then statements, though they do give me an additional way to judge player intent.
Actions sent to the group will be ignored, your character will take no actions instead when this occurs. This means even if you send a descriptive post you still need to send a combat post to me.
This section makes the most sense when used with the SJ Primer post.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the game. For ship movement two players essentially decide which way the ship will move. The helmsman and the sailmaster. Each round the helmsman will decide how fast or slow the ship will go by specifying speed in his/her action post; the sailmaster will decide which direction the ship will by specifying in his/her action post. These to players will need to work carefully together; using lots of verbal calls to let the other know what is planned. In general, the sailmaster determines the ship's tactics (on most ship's this is the captain's job). Ship's weaponry is also ran by teams; a gunner and 0-3 loaders according to weapon type. Below I describe what each of these positions will need to send to accomplish there actions each combat turn.
Sailmaster: This position is odd in that the sailmaster does little in the turn except shout orders; it's his job to coordinate the ship's flight. So he/she should send out verbal actions for each round, often with if then statements. The sailmaster is one of the min crew requirement and must have seamanship or spacemanship to avoid the green crew penalties, just like the sailhands. Sailhands will usually put "Obey sailmaster's orders" for the actions until boarding occurs, so if the sailmaster gives no orders the ship simply goes straight. The sailmaster should station her/himself near the speaking tube from the bridge, otherwise the helmsman won't be able to hear the commands.
Orders are best given simply: port/starboard, forward/aft, up/down in whatever combination is needed. Adding "Hard" means the ship will do a turn as sharply as possible, otherwise it will be just one hex side at a round. Example:
Round 1: "Hard to port and up! Brace to Ram!" unless enemy dives in
which case "Steady forward, brace to ram!"
Round 2: "Steady! Brace to Ram!" unless enemy is passed, then "Slow, hard to starboard!"
Note all of these are verbal actions and should be sent to the whole group.
Helmsman: The helmsman should send a post specifying speed as shown in the example below. If/then statements are key... the helmsman can see the battle, remember, so should try to anticipate what the sailmaster will order. The helmsman also controls the ship's "pitch". SJ vessels can spin along their long axis, this is a function of the helm and is controlled by the helmsman. Most often ship's fight with the pitches aligned, top-top- this is the assumed pitch unless it is altered. Sometimes it pays to spin, so that fire can only hit your hull, for instance if you know the enemy is firing grapeshot. Regardless of what the sailmaster orders regarding speed the ship will go at the speed and pitch the helmsman indicates in his/her action post. Example (4th level mage on a Major Helm).
Round 1: Max speed, SR 2; unless ordered to slow then SR 1
Round 2: SR 2 unless ordered to slow then SR 1
If the rigging is destroyed or not crewed then the helmsman also determines direction; though at a reduced MC.
Weapon crews simply need to keep track of when they fired, so they don't try to fire on rounds when they needed to be loading. If then statements help here. They fire when they say, and only need to pay attention to the sailmaster in so far as it helps them decide when to shoot.
Separate the message in your posts between IC: in character and OOC: out of character. OOC should be used when ever you have a question for me, and when describing game mechanics.
You are encouraged to carry on IC: conversations between yourselves. These should only be posted to those present-and a copy of all Mercs related posts should be sent to me as well. These do not have to follow the turn time limits, only posts detailing actions to me should follow those limits, and feel free to make multiple action posts if the turns are several days in length (but not during combat, of course)
I need to know who has what SJ material, especially the Rock of Bral or the SJ boxed set. You are allowed to consult SJ products, but only use it as character knowledge if appropriate for your background/history. Be warned I change some things.
Excuse typos from me (poor typing) and from some of our players for whom English is a second language (they still manage to out type me )
Please. Especially the OOC parts. I take everything in the summary as PC knowledge (except on vision stuff, as noted) so not expect much sympathy if you make a mistake by not reading it. Any questions, E-mail me. If things look or are confusing ask me.
How I handle rememorizing spells (or casting spells from spellbooks).
Basically, you can rememorize spells, or cast them from spellbooks, but there is a chance of a wild magic surge. It works like this:
Sample Mage: Paul the Incredible (3rd level Mage) 2 1st and 1 2nd spell per day.
After Paul has cast his 2nd level spell, he can attempt to cast another that day in one of two ways, rememorize it or cast it from a spell book. In either case, if he tries to cast it without getting a night's rest (6-8 hours sleep) he has a 5% chance per spell level of a wild surge. This chance increase for each spell he cast beyond what he could normally cast. For instance, if Paul has cast his web spell, already, then rememorizes and casts web again, there is a 10%(2nd level *5%) chance of a wild surge. If he then tries it again, the chance would jump to 20%(2nd level *10%) and so on. This reflects his general fatigue, and the possibility that he might do something wrong or misremember a certain line. Of course, with a wild surge anything is possible.
It takes 10 minutes per spell level to memorize or pray for a spell.
I don't really recommend this, but if you feel in tight spot it is an option.
This does not work for priests, they are limited to their exact total number of spells each day. But see the priest spell rules below for some advantages they have.
Wizard, Priest group (2 slots); Int(-2)
This proficiency allows the user to cast small, simple spells or "cantrips". These are the little miracles that casters learn as part of their early training in the Art, as such it is a free bonus proficiency for all wizards (including specialists like illusionists or necromancers). Others may learn this proficiency, provided they pay the appropriate cost and find someone to teach it to them. The "Cantrip" first level spell simply allows these cantrips to be cast without the need for a proficiency check.
In order to cast a cantrip the caster must roll his/her Intelligence -2 or less on a 20-sided die. If the cantrip is cast at another being, who wishes to avoid its affect, then a standard save versus spell is allowed. A cantrip is incapable of causing more than 1 pt of damage directly, but can disrupt spell casting. For this PBeM, non-combat cantrips that are not cast at someone are always considered to work (i.e. conjuring a small light to read by). For combat, or if a save is involved, I'll roll the appropriate dice and tell you the results.
Some possible cantrip effects: create a "light" about the size of a candle, shoot a 1"-6" jet of flame from a finger, cut a thin rope, make someone sneeze, belch or fart, slightly alter your hair color, cause hair to grow 1-12", cause a low rattling of chains to be heard, kill a normal mouse or insect, open a simple lock. The list is not exhaustive, for ideas consult TSR's Unearthed Arcana for 1st edition or Kenzerco's Hackmaster: Player's Handbook. Always err on the side of less power when doing something with this, especially for those "no roll needed" non-combat castings.
Note: ALL mages, wizards, etc. in the party have this ability immediately (you've actually always had it just becomes more prevalent now) Others may learn it latter if they wish. Be creative with this, it is a great way to do some creative role playing.
The first will include your stats, appearance and history, things like proficiencies, age, height, weight, racial, class, and kit abilities etc. Basically everything your stat post already included except equipment and spellbooks. This post should have "mercs: (Name): Stats" as its subject line. I will keep one of these on file at all times and so should you. If something on this post changes I will want you to send me not a simple one line say "this changed" but rather edit the entire post and send it to me with the changes within the post. Then I will delete the old post and place the new one in its place.
The second post will hold only equipment and spellbooks (this is where mages tell me what is in their spellbooks, the stats post tells me how many spells they can memorize per day). This post should have the subject line "mercs: (Name): Equip". I will keep one of these on file as well, and it will be updated in the same way the stats post is updated. Everything owned by the PC should appear here, whether carried or not, along with its location. Traps and other stuff set on belongings should also appear here. If a given item doesn't appear on this list when you try to use it, you don't have it. Keeping my copy of this list up to date is the player's responsibility.
Giving XP out at the end of 'adventures' takes way too long, and doesn't give you folks enough feedback.
I now award XP on the 1st of each month. These monthly awards will be lower then in the past. In general, my 'base' amount has been based on how much XP a PC would need to go up one level (using different bases if many PCs were of widely varying levels). Now, the base will be about 20% or so of the amount needed to go up a level.
I do tie game participation into XP. If a players has only met the posting requirements for that month's turns (1 IC post per turn, plus a spell list if a spellcaster) then the award will be less then normal.
Those who let me know about absences in advance won't be penalized.
Level advancement follows the following rules:
Roll your own HPs, I trust you. (Multiclass should roll whenever a level is gained for a class, but divide by 2 rounding up)
New Thief skill points can be added to whatever skills you choose.
New proficiency slots can only be filled if there is someone available to teach the prof, unless it is self taught. I'll handle these through role-playing and one on one. This applies to both weapon and nonweapon profs. Weapon slots can be spent on nonweapon and vice versa.
If you choose to specialize (meaning you are a single class fighter) in a weapon you are already prof with, the specialization can just happen at once.
Mages do not get a new spell for their books just because they went up a level. New spells can only be traded, bought or found in spellbooks (or through spell research). If you can suddenly memorize a 2nd level spell but have none in your books, you can memorize one(1) 1st level spell in its place. The same applies on up, a lower level spell can always be memorized in place of a higher level but it is an even one to one trade (even if replacing a 9th level spell with a 1st level spell only one 1st level spell can be memorized in place of the 9th level slot).
Priestly new spells and granted abilities become immediately apparent, and available.
Other class abilities (ranger's stealth, Paladin's lay on hands, etc.) change at once.
We will use the Complete Psionics Handbook and The Will and the Way to handle psionics in this game. Non-psionicists who have these two rulebooks and wish to try for a psionic wild talent should contact me, I'll figure out the chance and roll to see if it works.
All kits and proficiencies described in those two works are available. One proficiency in particular is available to all PCs and is described below:
Slots 2, Wis -2
This allows a rudimentary defence against psionic attack. It is not as effective as a psionic defence mode but it does offer some protection against contact or the psionic attack modes. The specifics aren't needed to take this, just be aware that a determined psionic attacker will eventually get through. This proficiency allows its user a round or three where he/she can use a spell or weapon attack before becoming vulnerable psionically. This prof can be used in the same round a character takes another action. This is generally a waste of time for psionicists to take this prof, as Mind Blank works better and is "free".
Wild talents and Psionicists will keep track of their own PSPs, sending me the running total each turn (as mentioned in the spellcasters post). For recovery of PSPs use the standard rules found in the CPsHB on page 14.
Defence modes may only be learned when Table 4 on pg 12 of the Complete Psionics Handbook indicates. They cannot be used to fill other devotion or science slots.
We will be using the harbingers and constructs rules from The Will and the Way.
Gaining Constructs follows the following rules:
Each time a PC learns a new defence mode he learns one construct in that mode. Moreover he can learn one additional construct each time he goes up a level. On levels where he learns a new defence more he cannot learn a second construct. This means a psionicist will have as many constructs as he has levels, and will have at least one construct for each defence mode.
Gaining Harbingers follows the following rules:
Whenever a psionicist learns a new attack mode he will learn one harbinger in that attack mode. He may also learn one harbinger per level, for one of the attack modes he already knows. He can thus gain two or more harbingers in one level, depending on how many attack modes he learns that level.
Psionicists have immediate access to any new powers they receive when gaining a level, no training or learning is required at that time.
But psionicists should include a section in their Stats post describing the powers they are studying for their next level. The assumption is that during meditation and other non-described "downtime" they are mentally working on/preparing/exploring these new dimensions of their abilities. Also, in order to learn any powers from a discipline that they don't already have a power in (excluding telepathic defenses) they must have an instructor with whom they spend a significant amount of time (I will determine what "significant amount of time" means on a case by case basis).
For example, "Jack" is a third level psionicist. He has 2 sciences and 7 devotions currently, plus 2 def modes. His sciences and devotions are split between 2 disciplines, psychometabolic and psychokinetic. At fourth level he gets two more devotions. He would have a line something like this:
Powers Currently Studying:
Levitation, Absorb Disease
Construct: The Will
I will describe the combat in the public summaries, though it takes place in a "mindscape". Those not involved in the combat should ignore that as OOC knowledge. Feel free to get very creative when describing combat in the mindscape, it should be somewhat surreal since it is all symbolic.
Psionicists and those with the Psychic Defense proficiency are never surprised, if attacked they can instantly raise a defense. Per the CPsHB attack modes can be used twice per turn; a player can use a defence while taking another action as well (i.e.: fence and defend psionically, attack twice with an attack mode while defending psionically, etc.).
Once someone has established contact (either through the contact devotion or by forcing three tangents through your defenses) you are "open" and can do nothing to stop them except destroy them first (there is a science which is an exception to this). Once you allow contact to drop, however, you have to fight your way back in again if you wish contact again against that person's will.
Engaging in Psionic combat does not tell you who your opponent is in the "real" world, but it does tell you their mental "signature" so that whenever you fight or contact their mind you will recognize them. It's thus possible to fight out a vicious mental combat in a crowded bar, for instance, and never know what your opponent looked like.
Unless viewing some obvious sign, Psionicist don't recognize each other until they try to contact and hit the defense.
It takes 8 hours per spell level to learn a new spell. Studying "straight" (i.e. 24 hours with no break for a 3rd level spell) will reduce your % to learn. -1% for every hour over 8 without a break. Once the time has been spent let me know, I'll roll your % to learn new spell and let you know the result. Once you get it I will need an updated Equip post, of course
It takes 1 hour per spell level to copy a spell from a scroll or book to another scroll or book (not the same as making a magical scroll, of course) You do not need to "know" a spell to copy it and assuming normal conditions no roll to succeed is needed. Again let me know when this happens by sending me an updated equip post
A Read Magic spell must be cast to read strange spell books, scrolls, and magical writings. It only need be cast once on a given book, after that point the mage's "shorthand" is known. Also, if the books writer is present he/she can tell the needed clues so that a Read Magic is not needed. Note, only the writer knows this shorthand well enough, those he can read a book because of RM cannot assist others in that way.
The explanation here is that all mages use a private form of shorthand in their books, as a security precaution and for other, magical reasons as well. Also note, that some mages may even further confuse things by basing their shorthand on elven or dwarven or some other language other then common, requiring that the reader be able to read in that language in addition to casting read magic.
Concerning the mundane spell components (butter for the Grease spell, sand or rose petals for the Sleep spell, etc.) I assume the players always have sufficient components unless circumstances suggest otherwise (you are naked in a prison, for instance). There is no need to keep track of such components on your equip list.
However, when a spell requires expensive components (the 100gp pearl of the identify spell, or the 2000 gps of herbs and incense needed for Find Familiar, for example) I do require that the items be present on the equip sheet. So, spell casters, please check carefully concerning these problems and let me know if there is any question
Each and every turn players of spell-casting characters must send me a list of their currently memorized spells. Psionic characters must send me their current PSP total as well as any powers they are "maintaining". PCs will keep track of their own PSPs as they spend them, but I will be periodically checking up to keep the totals honest
If a player hasn't sent me a spell list he won't be able to cast any spells that turn. Same applies to psionics.
This does not apply if you have informed me in advance that you will be away from your computer and will be unable to post, and I will listen to excuses.
Even if you do not currently have any spells memorized you must send a spell list in each turn if you are a spellcaster!
Sorry to yell, but past exp has shown I need to make that point very clear.
Priests memorize spells just like mages. Priest may not cast more spells in one day then their normal allotment, they may not rememorize with a chance of failure (as wizards may do per Rememorizing spells above).
At will priests may exchange memorized spells for spells of the All and Healing priest spell spheres (provided their deity allows them access to that sphere). The spells exchanged must be of the same level and it includes reversed healing sphere spells.
Note in practical terms this means priests should not bother memorizing healing or All sphere spells, as they have access to them when ever they need them. This gives priests more flexibility without losing their ability to act as healers. The All sphere also has several of the most used priest spells and so it also gives some nice flexibility.
Healing spells now have a bonus. The priest may add their level to the die roll when healing. A Cure Light Wounds spell now heals 1d8 + 1 pt/lvl, for example. This makes higher level priest more efficient healers. I often forget this rule, so I encourage priest class players to remind me of it when casting a healing spell.
Priests are permitted to memorize priest spells from the Players' Handbook, the Tome of Magic, and Players Option: Spells & Magic, provided of course their deity grants them access to the appropriate sphere (if a spell is within two spheres, you only need access to one of them). Priest may also have access to the Faith specific spells listed in Faiths & Avatars, Powers & Pantheons, and Demihuman Deities provided they follow the appropriate deity. Priests who have access to mage spells (such as Mystran, Azuthian, or Akadian priests) may only choose those from the Players Handbook, unless they've witnessed a spell from another source in use several times (in this case DM approval is needed). Other sources are possible on an individual basis, check with the DM.
Spellbooks are rated according to the number of pages they hold. Each page can hold one spell level (a 1st level spell takes one page, a 7th level spell takes 7 pages).
'Standard' Blank spell books have parchment pages and cost the following:
25 pages 50 gp
50 pages 90 gp
75 pages 125 gp
100 pages 175 gp
200 pages 300 gp
500 pages 725 gp
Books with an odd number of pages exist, are even common, this is just to make things a bit simpler. The prices are straight from Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog and the other prices in the scribe section there apply as well.
Unless it is specifically stated, all 'found' spellbooks have only 25 pages. If the number of spell levels exceeds 25, then the spellbook has as many pages as needed but no additional 'blank' pages.
Spells can also simply be recorded on loose leaf pages, prices per the Phb. Of course, their saves are horrible.
Spellbooks do not require any special 'ink' or 'quills', 16 gp worth of the two is enough to fill 25 pages with spells. (spell scrolls do require special inks still, of course).
Prices are, of course, doubled on Bral for the Jammers game.
Mages, please send me an updated Equipment sheet showing how your books are organized. To start with, assume you have a spellbook with 25 pages. If you don't have enough room for all your spells then add a second 25 pages, and a third, until you have space for all your spells. These additional pages can be all in the same book, or in separate books.
For example: Jack Ryan the Mage has 10 first level spells, 5 2nd level spells, and 5 3rd level spells learned, for a total of 35 spell levels. He thus gets 50 pages for his spellbook. That could be one 50 page book with all his spells in it, or 2 25 page books with his spells split between them. Regardless, he has 10 empty pages which he can fill with any new spells he learns.
I've decided to make some use of one of the nicest things I've noticed about the new Hackmaster rules: the spell charts for low level mages and priests. We all know that 1st level mages are more then a little lame The Hackmaster rules make the logical adjustment (though I admit it never occurred to me!) of simply allowing them to memorize a few additional 1st level spells. The relative power of 1st level spells is so low that this makes very little difference, especially since the higher levels are unchanged on the chart (as far as I can tell, someone more obsessed then I may have actually compared all the charts level to level)
So, all Mages, Specialty Mages, and Priests get 2 additional 1st level spells they can memorize/use each day. That's the only change, just add two to the number of spells you can use.
Bards, Rangers, and Paladins may not have this addition. Quite properly Hackmaster doesn't adjust for them, as their spellcasting is, and should be, peripheral to their other class abilities.