Original SA post
Alright. I'm not sure how well this will go, but to hell with it. I'll give it a shot. This thread is a national treasure, and I should damn well add to it.
I'll be reviewing and messing around with this:
Yep. Powers & Perils. Avalon Hill's entry into early-80's RPGs, complete with the requisite ampersand. I've been completely fascinated (at times obsessed!) with this system for no real reason ever since I was a kid. Through some accidents of fate (and companies dumping stock onto Kay*Bee Toys) I have all three published works - the box set, the Perilous Lands box, and the Tower of the Dead adventure.
I don't know why I fucking love this game, but I do. Its combination of earnestness and terribleness hits me right in the ... well, the imagination balls if there's such a thing. It's a splendid mix of math-heavy gonzo early-80's games, high school algebra, and a weird implied setting with some real charm. It's packed full of interesting ideas because, near as I can tell, the author had no clue what he was doing and just vomited a bunch of rules into a box set, numbering them as kind of an afterthought. It didn't matter - I loved this game, made characters in it, and even figured out the system a little bit.
I could never get my friends to play it with me, though - they were convinced it was a piece of shit. And ... um ... they might be right? I'm not convinced this game was ever playtested, and I'll wager hardly anyone managed to actually play it once they bought it. I was so desperate to get people to try it out that I even
copied the fucking rules into a notebook by hand
to try and trick them into playing it. Yeah, dick move, but you should have seen the Dimension Lord my friend Brad threw at us in his D&D game.
So does this system have superpowerful elves? Check; it's even got
elves. "Faerries?" complete with a surplus 'R'? Check. An unintelligible alignment system? Yep! Both Expertise
Experience with clever abbreviations which fail to distinguish between the two? Got those, too. Several spots during character creation where you can - just by chance - get a character with super-strength or something like that? Aw, yeah.
The author still stands by this game, has written errata and FAQs, and has the complete rules up for free at
. The site says,
Powers and Perils has been described the most elegant roleplaying game, as well as the most complex game ever developed, although not by the same people.
Both are dead wrong. I ran fucking Mythus in high school, which I have to imagine was a lot more complicated than this, with probably quintuple the page count. And I have to imagine that anyone who called P&P "elegant" was either being ironic, or was the author, himself. Still, the rules are up there alongside the blatant lies, if you want to follow along.
Next post, I'll go through the intro and try to make a character. Paging through Book 1, this ah... might take a few posts. Fortunately, my pathetic high-school self photocopied an excessively optimistic quantity of character sheets and threw them in the box, so I am set.
Making a Character
Original SA post
(Intro post is
POWERS & PERILS PART I: MAKING A CHARACTER
OK. So the Character Book (Book 1). There's a brief blurb on the cover which says "yeah this is complicated; rules are presented in the order you will need them, though." Well, that's reassuring. And then it promises "a detailed fantasy environment that can be modified to fit the needs of an existing campaign or used to create a new and exciting dimension of fantasy pleasure."
Um. OK. Moving on.
After that, we find out very quickly that Powers & Perils is a game that does not fuck around. When you open the book, after a table of contents (listing ... um ... a slave chart?) you are immediately slapped in the face with a 13-step list (+9 more steps if you are a magic-user) with some very precise section numbers. No fluff or flavor to be seen, here - just what amounts to a flowchart. A
very, very detailed
For the purposes of this post, I'll make a Dwarf named Snergli. Why a Dwarf? Well, because I can, and Dwarfs (not Dwarves, here) can always be counted on to kick ass. So let's go in order.
1) Section 1.1 Characteristics, as background
Just an explanation. No dice as of yet. As an explanation, though, it's rather ... lacking. It tells you that the "native abilities" you are generating represent the "phenotypic potential" of the character, not to be confused with the "somatic potential" which you will get to later on. Yeah, now I'm more confused. So.
2) Section 1.11 Native ability. Before selecting your race, read section 1.4 and the descriptions of the Elf, Faerry, and Dwarf that are listed in Book 3.
Alright so that promise that the rules are "in order"? Yeah. Already a lie. Let's see what those have to say... Section 1.4 informs me that I get to soundlessly communicate with other dwarves, get "controllable battle fury" against racial enemies like Goblins, speak "Dwarf Elder" at "EL 80", have a starting level as a Miner or an Armorer, have a Maximum EL currently possible in Mountain Survival and "both forms" of Underground Survival, can enter the Lower World (?), and ... to look in Book 3.
So in Book 3, I find out I am also (a) Resistant to poison, disease, and plague with "triple the MDV" (the acronyms are ceaseless and maddening), resistant to fire (reduced 50% except for astral fire), and can learn smithing magic if I am at least EL 50 in armoring and pay some kind of experience cost. Also, I am not allowed to use missile weapons, except spears and daggers and maybe crossbows if the GM is nice. Also, I consider theft worse than murder.
Oh, and then there's a nice little paragraph which I'll just put here.
Only male dwarfs are taught the magic arts of their race. Females are excluded from them at all levels.
(In fact, their [sic] is no mythological precedent for the existence of female Dwarfs. They are added to allow female players that want to be Dwarfs to do so without mandatory sex reversal. There is also a logical assumption that a race, unless it is immortal, must breed to survive. The presence of divergent sexes is therefore likely.)
Yep. It's an 80's game. Needing to justify to proto-grogs why female dwarfs are even alive. This is not the last of the casual sexism to be found in Powers & Perils.
So anyway, seems like I get a bunch of goodies for being a dwarf. Cool. Back to Book 1.
OH! Now I get to roll stats. Judging by the table, there's 10 of them and I roll 2D10 for each. In order, I get
12, 14, 17, 13, 10, 6, 14, 7, 18, 14
And now I look at the table. Oh, good - different stat modifiers by sex.
. Looks like females are generally tougher and more agile, while males are stronger and ... smarter? Wow. That's a... that's a thing, right there. As a male dwarf, I am very tough and not really good at the whole personality bit.
This table was designed to help the author prove to his little sister that boys ARE smarter than girls
Those rolls, modified by the chart mean Snergli's "native abilities" are as follows...
Constitution...19 (hell yeah!)
Not a bad set of stats, really. I have above-average in almost everything physical, and my Constitution is stellar. I will be aiming for a stereotypical tough Dwarf Fighter. Tank-like, if that's even a thing. Also, I am kind of perplexed that "Eloquence" and "Empathy" are stats; it's probably part of the 80's movement to make "D&D - but
3) Section 1.111 Constitution and Appearance
Yeah, we're only on step 3.
It tells me again to roll for Constitution and Appearance. Fuck that, I like my 19, and I already rolled fair and square.
Then I roll 1D10 for my "multiplier" for each attribute. I multiply my "Native" stat times a number I grab off the table. Uh oh, looks like Snergli's future as a brick may be in peril... I roll a 10 and a 4. Wow. My Constitution gets a
multiplier, and my appearance (who cares?) gets a x2. That puts me at a Current and Maximum Constitution of a potentially game-destroying 108 and a Current and Maximum Appearance of 26.
Tank plans still in the works, let's see the next step. So far, this is all weird, but it's not exactly insane. I'm enjoying myself.
4) Section 1.13 Age and Station
Again, we're out of order. Sigh. I roll 1d100 for Age and 1d100 for Station. I get 54 (which makes me 22 years old; I guess all races use the same scale?) and 84 (which makes me Station 3). As Station 3, it says my "Coin Type" is 2 SC (silver coins?) and my class is "Merchant, noted scholar, respected artisan, landholder, low grade officers, wardens, knights, respected barbarian warriors, and shamans. Cool; it's usually better in these high-simulation sorts of games to be of a higher station. With my dexterity (assuming it means what I think it means) I'm going to go with "respected jeweller" or something along those lines.
5) Section 1.2 Special Events, if desired. As required by the result in this section, see 1.21 and/or 1.22. If a castable power results, as a Special Attribute, see section 13 and the steps for an Innate Magic User that follow in this note.
Special events kick ass. Hell yeah, I'm rolling them. There's a note that I get 1 per 10 years I have lived, rounded down, and either take all or none. So I get two rolls. The really desirable stuff is any doubles 33 or above; most of those give you Special Attributes which is where you find the gonzo stuff like super strength and talking to birds.
First roll is a
! Fuck yes! Special Attribute! Dreams of super-strength in my head, I roll a 91! High! Yes! That's got to be awesome! 91 is ... Emotional Curse?!
It's like getting a huge box on Christmas, and when you open it up it's another wrapped box, so you figure it's got to be that Nintendo game you wanted. And when you open that one up, it's like a hand-knit kleenex cozy and your parents are laughing at you and you run upstairs and slam the door of your room and swear off Christmas forever. Shit. Sadly, it doesn't mean I can emotionally curse others. Rather, it means I am "cursed with an exaggerated form of a particular emotion" which the Referee gets to pick and which gives them free latitude on screwing me hard. It may be directed or general, and could even be something like "I have zero morale and surrender in every combat." Sigh. Since I am also the GM, I'll sit on this one for a bit and figure out how to make Snergli an emotional cripple later.
On my way there, I found out what Controllable Battle Fury is, from my Dwarf description. Looks awesome. Let's hope my Referee is kind and I'm not just a dwarf surrender-monkey.
Second Special Event is an 83, which would be awesome if I were even able to cast spells and had an Intelligence of 15 or better. I don't, so instead I get a magic item. I am good with this. We'll get back to it, too.
...and I'm not even halfway done making Snergli. I'll pick it up next post with Character Creation Part II: MATH!
Making a Character - With More Math!
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS PART 1.1 MAKING A CHARACTER - WITH MORE MATH!
So a quick note on abbreviations before I start. Powers & Perils
its abbreviations. It kind of has to, with all the times they're used in formulas (which we'll see here). The thing is, all those abbreviations make no fucking sense.
Two quick examples: Strength Bonus and Stamina Bonus. They both can't be SB, right? Well, to distinguish between them, one is SB and the other is StB. Which, as you can see, is no fucking help whatsoever. For you, gentle reader, I am going to parse all this for you. I still remember it in the parts of my brain which should be occupied by useful knowledge.
Anyway! Back to business. Last time, we learned that Snergli is tough as shit, emotionally handicapped, and has a magic item of some sort. Also - I found out in a footnote that he's 22 "Lower World" years old, not human years. No clue what that means, like so much else in P&P.
6) Section 1.12 Maximum Ability. Determine your total multipliers, assign them to your modifiable characteristics, record them on your record sheet (
in the multiplier boxes
) and determine your Maximum Ability for each characteristic.
Some games roll for everything. Some use point-buy. Powers and Perils throws caution to the wind and freely combines the two in the dumbest of all forms - the Randomized Point-Buy. Here, we get the first taste. I am supposed to roll 2d6+14 to find my "total multipliers." Roll too low, and ... well, I'm fucked for life. I roll a
, which is fine; I have 20 multipliers to spend among the 8 remaining attributes in units of 0.5, and I can assign no fewer than 1.5 and no more than 4 to any one stat. So really, my first 12 multipliers are spent for me. These aren't bonuses I get now, like they were for Constitution and Appearance; these represent my "maximum potential." For these purposes, I round up.* After putting 1.5 in everything, I have 8 multipliers left.
I leave Intelligence, Eloquence, and Empathy at 1.5. I'm a dwarf and I suck at them anyway. I'm not paid to talk pretty. I increase my Strength multiplier to 4 since it's the lowest, Stamina to 3.5, Dex and Agility to 3, and Will to 2. I have no idea at this point if it's better to cheese out my best scores or be well-rounded, so I err on the side of the latter. So after that, here's Snergli:
Native Mult. Max Current
So yeah. A bad roll and you're basically screwed, in this step. If you ever want to play P&P (so help you, god) I'd recommend either giving everyone 21, or making it like 1d4+19 if you must have some randomness.
There's a table here to do the math for you, if you really need it. P&P does that a lot - gives you a complicated calculation and then turns it into a table. Which is nice, I guess, but takes up a lot of room.
7) Section 1.14, Initial Increases. Using your Age and Station, determine your combat experience, expertise, characteristic points, and wealth. Assign them to your Character, and record them on your record sheet as specified in sections 1.41, 1.142, 1.143, and 1.144
The decimal section numbers are simultaneously helpful and make you want to smash your own head in with an axe. Especially when there's a typo, as there is here.
Anyway, this part is kind of cool. It's very familiar, kind of innovative, and really makes me think the Shadowrun authors checked out Powers & Perils at one point.
OK. So to figure out what your character did before the game, they get free shit. They get an "Initial Increase Factor" of...
(Age x 2) + Station + 2D10
So wow. When I rolled for my age before? That was another random chance to get a severe "fuck you" and I didn't even know it. Station was less serious, since it's 0-10. And that damn +2D10 again... More randomized point buy. These guys... I roll my 2d10 and get a 13. (22 x 2) + 3 + 13 = 60.
You can spend from 5-30 points in each of four categories: Char. Points (to increase my abilities), Experience Points (combat experience so I don't suck in a fight), Expertise Points (weapon and nonweapon skills, but not magic ones; yes, you have a combat level
skill with specific weapons) and Wealth (for starting equipment).
I have no idea how to game this table right now, but 60 is blessedly evenly divisible by 4. So I take 15 in each category. This gives me 55 Characteristic Points, 250 Combat Experience points (putting me at Combat Experience Level 3), 300 Expertise Points, and 75*2SC = 150 silver coins of wealth. I have a feeling I got screwed by putting so much into money, but I seriously have no idea.
I'm supposed to work with the Characteristic Points first. They are added to my Native Ability, 1-for-1, and I can buy up to my maximum. I skip ahead and notice that I get my ability score +1 bonuses at 16, 31, and 51 so I'm at least not totally blind going into this. Again, I'm thinking I'll keep all my physical stats pretty close together, focusing on Strength and Stamina. After I do that, here's Snergli's final Characteristics...
Native Mult. Max Current Bonus
Strength 13 4 52 28 +1
Stamina 16 3.5 56 31 +2
Dexterity 16 3 48 26 +1
Agility 11 3 33 21 +1
Intelligence 10 1.5 15 10 --
Will 8 2 16 13 --
Eloquence 12 1.5 18 12 --
Empathy 6 1.5 9 6 --
Constitution 19 6 108 108 +5
Appearance 13 2 26 26
Whew. That's a shit-ton of work just to get some ability scores. But Powers & Perils is just getting started. My goodness, it's just getting started.
8) Section 3.7 Combat Experience Levels. Record your CEL based on the combat experience you purchased in section 1.14.
...okay? Done. Wow - an easy step without any math whatsoever? Holy shit.
9) Section 1.3, in its entirety, where appropriate. This section details the basic factors that are used in play. The formulas that are used to determine these values are listed in the Commonly Used Formulas section of each Record Sheet.
The two takeaways: (1)
There's formulas on your record sheet.
(2) 1.3 is a LONG FUCKING SECTION. If you thought this was a lot of math already, these next sections will be just
Also, demonstrating its 80's-ness, Section 1.3 doesn't just have formulas,
it has entire crucial subsystems
just kind of stuck in here alongside how to calculate them.
(1) It's the % chance to overpower an opponent, minus their own Strength. Maybe this should have been in the Combat book? Nope. It's here.
(2) To batter down doors, I use Strength. It's much like wrestling with an opponent, only the doors have Strength set by their material. Rotted wood is 0-5, and tempered metal is 61-160. (There is an optional system where you instead treat the door's strength as hit points, roll 1D10, and
divide your Strength by that die roll
; if it's not at least 25% of the door's HPV, it does nothing. I mean, what the crap? I am not dividing my ability score by a random number. At least he had the good taste to make this optional.)
(3) It's used in my Hit Points or HPV - found later.
(4) Portage Ability, or how much I can carry. This is...
(S x 2) + (StB x 20) or (S x 2), whichever is greater
. (27 x 2) + (20 x 2) = 94 lbs. That's how much I can carry without slowing down.
(5) Lifting Ability. How much I can lift. It's
Portage Ability x 5
which means I can lift ...
Look at my rippling dwarf muscles and be jealous
1.3241 Dodging (Optional)
AB + DB
- that's Agility Bonus + Dex Bonus. For me, its 2. This is a very complicated subsystem that I just can't understand right now without context. Moving on.
1.3251 The Healing Chance
My chance to heal naturally is
(C + St)/2, rounded up.
For me, this is awesome. (108+31)/2 = 69.5, rounded up to 70%. Every morning, I have a 70% chance to heal 1D3+StB (1D3+2) points of damage. I also note that if I roll 91 or higher, I get an infection from my wounds. See what I mean about trying to be more realistic? There's nothing more fun than getting into a fight with goblins then dying of gangrene.
1.3252 Damage Tolerance
Also known as the furthest negative I can go before dying.
((C/20)+StB) x (-1), round up
. For Snergli, this is ((108/20)+2) x -1, or ... uh ... not sure what the "round up" means in this context, but it's either -7 or -8; I'll take the author at his word and go with -7.
1.3253 Energy Level
This one's easy.
C + W
, which for me is 108 + 13, or 121. This is kind of like another damage track for my mind/soul/spirit. If I were a caster, this would also cap the amount of "mana" I can spend. Thank goodness, I am not. I have a feeling soul draining will not be my main concern.
1.3254 Poison resistance
This is a bonus % chance I get to be unaffected by poison. I am unclear how this interacts with my Dwarven resistance, if at all. So much of this game is just not spelled out or organized. Anyway, it's
(CB+StB) x 2
. For me, this is (5+2) x 2, or 14. This also indicates my "general health" against disease or plague, though evidently not gangrene, judging by the Healing section.
1.3261 Mana Level
If I were a caster, this would be important.
(I + W + Em)/10
, round up. Hey, look, it's all my shitty scores all in one place! (10 + 13 + 6)/10 = 2.9, or in my case
. If I cast spells, I would suck at them. Who cares? Snergli is a fighty beatstick, goddammit.
1.32611 Magic Defense Value
care. That Mana Level is also my fighty beatstick's Magic Defense Value. Shit. Never mind what I said above about not worrying about soul drain, okay? My Magic Defense value is 3.
Turns out Dwarfs think all non-Dwarfs are ugly, and the feeling is mutual. This will further make me unable to influence anyone for any reason whatsoever,
1.331 Hit Point Value (HPV)
Now we're talking. Hit points. I should be goddamn solid here, and it turns out I am.
(S + St + C)/4, round up
(27+31+108)/4, rounded up = 42. I don't know what this number means, but the table only goes to 44, so I think it's good?
1.3321 Offensive Combat Value
How well I hit things.
Combat Experience Level (CEL) + Strength Bonus (SB) + Stamina Bonus (StB)
. For me, I'm at 3+1+2, or 6. Looks like keeping my stats kind of even was a good move.
1.3322 am i ever going to finish this fucking section Defensive Combat Value
How well I avoid getting hit.
CEL + Agility Bonus (AB) + Dexterity Bonus (DB).
3+1+1 = 5 here. Not too shabby, I think? With no frame of reference, it's just another number in a sea of numbers.
1.3331 Height (what, you thought we'd be done. ha!)
Native Strength + Native Stamina + a factor determined on a table, below
My factor is 35 as a male dwarf. 13 + 16 + 35 = 64"? 5'4"? Seems tall for a dwarf? Oh wait - for a dwarf it's 35 + ((13+16)/2). So it's 50", or 4'2". That's a lot more dwarfy.
...and reading this table... Holy shit! "If an elf is over 72" in height, he is a member of the Alfar instead of an Elf." Yes. By being tall enough (Strength + Stamina 28 or better for a male; I guess there are no female Alfar because they need 31 or better and probably have penalties to those scores) you get to be a
Ironically, with his height, Mr. Keebler does not actually qualify for Super-Elfhood.
Moving on, though...
I am a dwarf, so I have a simple table. I roll 1D10 and get 9. This gives me a factor of 3.2. I multiply my height in inches (50) x 3.2 and get 160 lbs. My 160 lb dwarf can press nearly 3x his body weight.
Food Requirements? Seriously?
A weight of 160 lbs means I need 2 "food points" per day, normally, but I'm a dwarf so I get screwed and need 3. I guess "food points" are supposed to be easier than iron rations in AD&D? No idea. And I hate this sort of thing if I'm not running Dark Sun.
This is the number of "inches" I can move in a "tactical turn." It should not surprise you that dwarves are slow. To my factor of 8, I add ... what? AB
? Why the hell didn't you just put that +1 in the table to fucking begin with?
Anyway, it's 10", whatever an inch is in this context. The book is silent on the topic.
Also known as "something I will not be doing."
Eloquence + Empathy
, or 18% for me, with a minimum chance of 25% of that, rounded down, or 2-fucking-%. This is another entire crucial subsystem just jammed into character creation. There's a table of modifiers, the way influence works, and even how you get better at the damn thing. Wasn't there a better place for this? You have section numbers that go down
four decimal places
and you couldn't find a better place for it? Jesus.
1.3431, the chance too much magical healing in a day will kill me.
Heal the shit out of me.
C x 2 - (Hit points taken x (Magic Uses for Healing -1))
So with a base of 216% to pass, it looks like I can be healed a bunch of times a day. For someone with a non-godly Constitution, this check is a bad fucking idea - failure will KILL YOU. INSTANTLY. DEAD.
1.4 .... holy crap, section 1.3 is finally over
. We made it.
And that's it for me tonight. Goddamn. I feel like I just gave birth to an emotionally crippled super-strong dwarf.
* P&P is
inconsistent in rounding up or rounding down, which further leads me to believe anyone who called this "elegant" has brain damage.
Still Making a Character Kill Me Now!
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS PART 1.2 OH GOD STILL MAKING A CHARACTER KILL ME NOW
Alright, so those formulas were 1-1/2 hours of my life I will never, ever get back. And there's still four steps to go.
If I were making a magic-using character I'd be not even half done at this point.
For the record, there's
an Excel sheet
which does the math for you. But fuck that - in 1983, I probably would have been lucky to have this:
If I were
lucky, I would have had this:
So no Excel for me, thanks.
Moving on. Snergli is 9/13 done!
10) Section 1.4 Common Knowledge. Select the Common Knowledge that is appropriate for your Character's race. If he is Human, make the selections, consulting section 2 as necessary, to define this knowledge.
OK, cool. I've been here before. Now I get to figure out how good I am at the stuff I start with.
Can communicate with other Dwarfs, wordlessly, as for a Communicate spell. MEL and EL are dependent on the Character's characteristics. If either Dwarf succeeds when the skill is used, communication occurs.
Okay. Which fucking characteristics? Thanks a bunch, book; you spent all this time on section numbers and don't use them? Wait - footnote; bottom of section. It says,
"All powers for non-human races should be treated as innate powers unless specified otherwise. To determine the starting MEL and EL, where it is not specified, see Book Two, Innate Magic. Characters, regardless of race, do not gain any equipment based on common knowledge."
(OK, so that answers my question whether or not an Alfar gets a free magic sword. Nope. Kinda nice to put that above a footnote, eh?)
So Book Two now, Section 13. 13.1 tells me that my MEL (Magic Experience Level, fyi) for my powers are based on the highest of my Intelligence, Empathy, or Will. I suck balls at all three. Will is the best, at 13, so my MEL for any innate powers is
13.2 tells me that my Starting EL (Expertise Level - basically my skill with this specific power, not to be confused with Experience Level) is ...
a function of my characteristics.
"Where a different formula for this is not specified, use the formula specified for Innate Powers in Book One to determine this factor."
I WAS JUST SENT TO BOOK TWO TO FIND THIS OUT AND YOU TELL ME IT'S IN BOOK ONE?! BOOK ONE SAYS IT'S IN BOOK TWO! I read the rest of the section, and find this gem:
YOU DON'T FUCKING SAY!
So about 10 seconds before I give up and take a 0 on it since I'll never use it anyway, and after I consult the webpage's errata thinking, "come on, this HAS to have come up before," I look in one more place. And do you remember how I mentioned there are rules just hidden everywhere? In the Special Attributes section (where Snergli became Emotionally Cursed) there's a chance to get an Innate Power. And finally I get the formula.
(W + Em)/20, rounded down.
For me, this is (13+6)/20, rounded down is... 0.
OK. What else do I get as a Dwarf, already?
Are prone to Controllable Battle Fury when they encounter a hated enemy of their race. NOTE - Goblins are the primary enemy that applies here. The Referee, at his discretion, may expand this hatred to include all Chaos and Kotohi creatures that can be encountered underground.
This is also in the Special Attributes section. Basically, I go berserk against these guys if I take more than ... 3 points of damage. (Damage x 5 has to be greater than my Will of 13). I can also try to get myself in the mood, but really, 3 damage is nothing and my Will is too low to even attempt. I am furious until I don't do damage for 3 rounds, or until the goblins and ... uh Kotohis? ... are dead. While in a fury, I don't get slowed down for damage (that's a thing here? okay...), I don't fall unconscious until I die, my DTV (that's the negative HPs I can go to) is tripled, I can't defend myself, I can't use missile weapons or magic, my Strength Bonus is increased by two, people can hit me easier, I get less accurate, and have to affect the closest enemy. phew. Seems like a lot of downsides, but I like the idea of being a berserker.
Speak Dwarf Elder at EL80
Have a starting level as a miner or armorer
OK. I pick Armorer because that seems way more useful. Maybe I encrusted weapons with gems or something, going back to my "jeweller" idea. So let's look at the skills and figure out my starting level. Check this shit out:
I have a sinking feeling that picking my skills will not be a cakewalk.
Armorer has a cost to learn of 100, a cost of 9 Expertise Points per Expertise Level, and has a Maximum Level of
I+W+(StB x 5) or 80
. Per the table, this is an "X or 80" skill, which means my Starting EL is ... the higher of Intelligence or Will? I can't imagine Stamina would count since it's just the bonus. So we'll call it 13. Between that Natural Magic note and this clusterfuck, I get the feeling right now that the author has just played an enormous practical joke on me.
Have a maximum EL currently possible in Mountain Survival and both forms of Underground Survival.
Okay. This is easier. Survival is just one skill, and the Maximum Level is
(I + Em)/10 + StB
. For Snergli, this is (10+6)/10 + 2, or (checking... round up here...) 2 + 2 = 4. I have 4 in all three of those skills.
Can enter the Lower World, MEL and EL dependent on the Character's characteristics
Ha! I goddamn know this one now. MEL = 1, EL = 0.
All of the attributes of the Dwarf that are specified in Book Three.
So ... poison and fire resistance. Check. I write these down.
And that's it for Step 10. I think I got a crash course in what Step 11 is going to be.
11) Section 2.4 Skill Table. Select the skills that your Character knows. All skills in these tables are purchased, and improved, using the Expertise Points you obtained in Section 1.14
Yep. Skills. Great. I have 300 Expertise Points with which to build Snergli into a bedazzling killing machine.
The skill table is ... Well, see for yourself.
Yes, some skills use squared values for advancement.
Two things are clear right off. (1) Every weapon group is its own skill. (2) The "Other Skills" aren't nearly as balkanized as I expected them to be. For an 80's game, I'd go so far as to call it "reasonably concise" - I think it's shorter than the 3e list.
Anyway. To become an apprentice Jeweler I will need to spend 100 of my 300 points. Goddamn. Hardly seems worth it, now, but I'll do it anyway. My Max EL in Jeweling is (W + D) or 80, which means my Starting EL is my Dexterity, or 26. If I want to improve it, it costs 10 per rank. I don't; I already feel ripped off.
Let's get some combat shit, shall we? To get EL 0 in Axe costs me 18, Shield costs me 20, and Crossbow costs a hefty 35. Then I need to improve them. Unlike Jeweler or Armorer, increasing these gets more expensive as I get better at them. Each new rank costs (New Rank x A Multiplier specific to that damn weapon). For Axe and Shield, this multiplier is 6. For Crossbow, it's 8. My maximum rank in Axe is
(S + St)/10, round up
, or 6. For Shield it's
(S + D + A)/15
, or 5. In Crossbow, it's
(S + D)/10
, or 6.
This is fucking complicated for just learning how to not suck in a fight. And remember - you can improve your attributes over time. What a goddamn
. Dear, P&P: Sometimes more math doesn't improve the "realism." Sometimes it's just
To get to EL 3 in Axes costs me 6+12+18, or 36 more points. EL 3 in Shields is also 36 points. EL 2 in a crossbow costs me 8+16, or 24 more points.
So now, out of my 300 points I've spent 100 on Jeweler, 73 in basic proficiency in three implements of pain, and 96 points in not sucking at those things for a grand total of ... uh ... 269 points, leaving me with 31. I can spend 24 more points to get better with axes or shields, or I can spread myself around a bit. Eh. I decide to use my Dexterity and buy a starting level in Locksmith for 25 points. Locksmith is an "or 80" skill, and my starting score is my Dexterity, or 26.
My remaining 6 points, I throw at my Axe. I am part-way to sucking less at it. And that's it for my Expertise and Skills.
Please say this is almost done.
12) Sections 2.5 and 2.6. The descriptions of the skills that you have chosen. All Players should familiarize themselves with these details.
Okay. My Expertise (EL) with my Axe can either subtract from my attack roll or add to the roll of a guy who attacks me. Pretty cool, actually. It also increases damage on Severe and Deadly hits; I guess I'll find out what those are later. My crossbow EL can only be used to subtract from my attack roll. (Lower rolls are usually good in P&P, except when they aren't.) My EL in my shield can be added to an opponent's attack rolls, up to its Armor Value. Cool; I feel well-rounded. Also, my Shield EL is added to my shield's Armor Value when it's hit.
Armorer and Jeweler, I doubt I will use. They look predictably ridiculous, though. Locksmith is my straight-up percentage chance to open a lock. I can also make them, as well as create or disarm lock traps. Pretty badass for 26 points. Survival is cryptic; it's "used in Hunting, Ambushing, avoiding ambushes, and avoiding encounters." Underground I is basically "caves" and Underground II is basically "Mines and Dungeons." Why didn't you say so? Why obfuscate this with the Roman numerals? Just to hurt me?
(I should note at this point that I am not altogether sure if I know a language other than Dwarf Elder. And I can't afford a new one for 30 Expertise. So ... I hope someone in the party speaks Dwarf?)
Anyway, this step is blessedly done.
13) Section 2.8 Equipment Tables. The wealth that was purchased in Section 1.14 is used here to purchase your starting equipment.
I am fairly rich with 150 silver, or 15 gold. I buy a Metal Shield (AV 13) for 6 of those gold right off the bat. Scale Mail (AV 2) costs me 3 gold. A metal helmet (AV +2 on Severe or Deadly hits) is 2 silver. A good Axe is 7 silver. A light crossbow is pricier, at 18 SC. (I am not strong enough for a heavy crossbow, I think? The table is damn unclear.) 20 quarrels costs me 60 "brass bits", or 0.6 silver. Each "food point" of food (I need 3/day) costs a brass bit and weighs a quarter of a pound, so I pick up 40 for 0.4 Silver.
Also in this section, I buy a backpack, waterskin, belt pouch, and a bunch of other fiddly shit I don't care enough to track at this point. I could also buy animals, bandages, and slaves.
should I see fit.
As a Fighting Slave, Snergli would go for 33 silver.
(I would like to note that although the example lists a "pleasure slave" and notes that their value is based on Appearance and Agility (ick), "pleasure slaves" are not actually listed in the chart. Thank goodness; that would have been a bit ... ah ...
. It's good to know there's a sexism-related line that Powers & Perils decided
to cross. For the record though, it's apparently (Agility + Appearance) x 3SC. No word on the "child for 1/2" modifier; having an actual rule in the actual book regarding that would have been ... well ...
Needless to say, I do
decide to buy slaves, and pass on my slave-owning opportunity.
And then... since Snergli is not a magic-user ... Holy shit, I've successfully made a Powers & Perils character.
Whew. So a question to my hypothetical readers, assuming you are still awake... Would you rather see me roll up a Magic-User (glossing over the stuff I covered above and focusing mainly on the magic stuff) to adventure alongside Snergli before getting into examples of play, or do you just want to see Snergli in action?
Making a Wizard (Eventually)
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS SECTION 1.3: MAKING A WIZARD EVENTUALLY
Yeah. You talked me into it. This time, I'll be making a Wizard named Owein* the Magnificent so I get to play with Powers & Perils's insane mess of a magic system. I'll be fast-forwarding a lot of the detail crap I went through for Snergli and instead focus on the new and/or interesting stuff involved when being a spellcaster.
There's a separate flowchart for trained magic-users. It has nine steps in and of itself. So I know I'm in trouble when the first step is...
1) Complete the first TEN steps of setting up a Character.
So, I go back to the first 10 steps.
1-9) All those damn steps from before on fast-forward.
Now, one of the downsides of random rolling is that you can't always do what you want to do when you're making the character. So after my first two attempts are "completed" (4 Intelligence and 6 Intelligence, respectively - both promptly punched a noble in the throat to end their miserable existences), I roll up a third character who looks like he might make a decent wizard. You might call this "cheating." I would call this, "fuck you, next time
make the fucking Powers & Perils character."
OK, so the relevant rolls other than my Native Abilities were these... I lucked out on my Constitution and Appearance mutlipliers, getting another 10 (x5 for a human) and a 9 (x4), respectively. I rolled 9 on 2D6 for my "free" multipliers so I had 23 (a ton; Snergli only had 20). Owein the Magnificent just has more potential than that dwarf. I rolled a 60 for Age, and I'm 23. Station was a 35, which puts me at Station 1 (Free Man, Common Soldier, etc.; coin type is 2CC, which means I get 1/30th what Snergli got per Advance.) At least I'm not a slave!
As for Special Events (of course I rolled them!) I got 45 (Raised by Faerries) and 65 (a magic amulet, which my Referee will tell me about). No whammies, but no Super-Smarts, either.
Are you my mummy?
, I rolled a 9 on 2D10. (23 x 2) + 1 + 9 =
56 Initial Increases
. I've made a character before, so I know that I need a shit-ton of Expertise points to even become a Wizard. I spend 7 of these on Money (so I have 60 copper to my name), 22 on Characteristic Points (which gives me 74), 20 on Expertise (for 400 EP), and 7 on Combat Experience which puts me at 50 CEP, or a Combat Level of 1.
I'm strong, so I'm also tall. My Height is (17+14+46) = 77", or an impressive 6'5". Tall for a caster. Rolling my Weight, I get a 6 on my d10. I multiply 77 x my factor of 2.6 (which is on the Humans - Male - 71"-80" table) and I find I'm 200 lbs. Reasonable, but a lot of trouble for something that amounts to fluff.
Okay. So at this point, it looks like Owain was the son of a peasant who was kidnapped by Faerries and raised in the woods. Either they gave me an amulet, or I stole it - I'll figure that part out later.
Once all of this is done, here are my stats...
Native Mult. Max Current Bonus
Strength 17 1.5 17 17 +1
Stamina 14 3 42 16 +1
Dexterity 10 2.5 25 16 +1
Agility 8 2 16 8 +0
Intelligence 16 4 64 41 --
Will 15 4 60 38 --
Eloquence 10 2 20 10 --
Empathy 7 4 28 25 --
Constitution 14 5 70 70 +3
Appearance 8 4 32 32 --
My OCV (Offensive Combat Value) is 3. My DCV (Defensive Combat Value) is 2. I have 26 Hit Points - nowhere near Snergli, of course, but certainly respectable for a student of the arcane arts. I can go to -5 (DTV) before death. My Movement Rate is 10, just like Snergli. My Dodge Value is 1. My Poison Resistance is 8. My Healing Chance is 43%. My Influence Chance is a not-altogether-ridiculous 35%, with an 8% minimum after modifiers. I can carry 54 lbs, and press 270 lbs. I need 3 food points per day.
Magic-wise, my Mana Level is 11; It's
(I + W + Em)/10
. My Energy Level is a very respectable 108 (thank you, ridiculously good Constitution!). My Magic Defense Value is at least 11, but will be higher thanks to the fact that I'm a Magician.
Since I'm a spellcaster, I need to calculate my Casting Ability and Mana Regeneration Rate. I skipped these on Snergli.
1.32612 Casting Ability
Casting Ability is a function of my MEL (Magic Experience Level) and Mana Level. I have the Mana Level, but ... um ... no idea on my MEL as of yet.
I'll get back to this, I guess? Thanks for doing this in order, book.
I make one more stop here due to my Background. If I want, I can try and make an Influence Chance to see if the Faerries still love me, are amiable, or dislike me. Even though the results under my Background say there's something called "Partial Success" the rules for Influence (which, to remind you, are jammed in alongside how to calculate your Influence Chance in Book 1), I can't find it right now.
I decide to roll.
Wow. Needless to say, the Faerries don't love me. Thank goodness there's no "critical failure" for this. So, I stole my amulet, looks like.
Anyway. There we go! That's fast-forwarding through Steps 1 through 9. It doesn't seem nearly so painful this time, which leads me to believe my brain has been warped.
10) Section 1.4 Common Knowledge. Select the Common Knowledge that is appropriate for your character's race. If he is Human, make the selections, consulting Section 2 as necessary, to define this knowledge.
I am doing this because it's very different from being raised as a dwarf.
to illustrate how I expect peasants will get screwed hard.
First off, because I was raised by them, I automatically get
(the maximum) in the Faerry Sidh language. I also get EL 80 in my native tongue. Knowing this damn game, I doubt it's as easy as "Common." I save that native tongue for later.
I get to choose Civilized vs. Barbarian; it isn't rolled anywhere I can find. Civilized makes more sense, so off we go...
The maximum EL currently possible in City Survival and EL0 in Rhetoric
the maximum EL currently possible for Survival in a terrain that is contained within the boundaries of the Character's home nation and EL0 in Tracking.
Given my "farmer kidnapped by Faerries" background, I pick the latter. I have an Maximum and Current EL of
(I + Em)/10 + StB
(all skill calcuations round up). For Owain, this is (41+25)/10 + 1, or
. Checking the skill detail section, I'll say Forest. I also have EL0 in Tracking, with a maximum level of
(W + Em)/10
; for me, (38+25)/10 or 7. Improving that will cost me "NEL squared" which is as asinine as you imagine.
Then I get to look up my Station on a table. I can learn. Wow. "Forester, Husbandry, or Miner" at Full EL or any two skills costing 15 or less at starting EL." Now, Forester is actually pretty badass, and even kind of appropriate. So I snag. that. My maxmimum (and therefore current) EL is
(S + A) + (StB x 5) or 80
. In my case, this is (17+8)+(1x5) = 30.
When I see this, all I see is money.
And here's where it gets weird. In the forest, I can use Tracking to my maximum EL. So that's 7; I get that for free with the cost of Forester. I can recognize forest creatures. I know legends and rumors about my home forest. I also have a chance to learn all kinds of other shit for free.
So let's roll. Do I know Elf Sidh? 46, no. Faerry Sidh? 98; they still don't love me. EL 2 in the Axe? 54, so YES. Longbow? 73, no. Dammit; I wanted that one. And... oh. Maximum EL in forest survival, like I already had. I powergame like a bitch and change my original Survival to Swamp. So, before I even spend a point, I have the following skills:
(Human Language) 80, Faerry Sidh 60, Survival (Swamp) 8, Survival (Forest) 8, Forester 30, Axe 2, and Tracking in Forests 7.
But, that step's done! Now I skip straight to...
2) Section 8 of Book Two, Creating a Magic-User.
This section details acceptance (???), starting magic experience and expertise, and the Magic Paths a character can choose from. Pay all expertise costs and gain all benefits that are appropriate for the Magic Path that you select.
I am greeted with a warning right off the bat:
No shit. Already this is (sorry, Mythus, I changed my mind) the most absurdly complex game I've made characters in, but this is going to require a whole lot of memorization.
Alrighty. So there are three (and a half, kinda) types of magic-users in Powers & Perils.
are bookish and allied with Law, Chaos, or Balance. Their prime attribute is
have a spiritual connection with a
animal and have more limited spellcasting. They can talk with their animal, turn into it, etc. Their prime attribute is
is the ancient arts practiced by elves and faerries; those races can only be Sidh Magicians. Humans can do it too, but they kind of suck at it. Their prime attribute is
I want to be a Wizard. I have a chance of acceptance equal to
(4 x Max Intelligence) + 20
. So, 84%? Cool; I like those odds. I roll my dice.
. That's incredibly dumb. I'm making a Wizard. I have a civil conversation with my Referee and explain "I'm doing this FATAL & Friends writeup for SA, and people really want to see me tear my hair out making a Wizard." I reply to myself, "Tough shit, did you see how Snergli was emotionally crippled instead of being super-strong or immune to fire? Besides I let you roll three fucking times for ability scores. Serves you right for calling him 'Owein the Magnificent.' The universe doesn't pass up that kind of irony." "Come on, what's one more reroll? This rule is fucking stupid." "Well,
it's fucking stupid. That's the whole point. Besides, you said those Awful people wanted to see you tear your hair out! What could be more satisfying to those fucking sadists?" "Look. Let me spell it out to you. Do we REALLY want to start over from scratch? Think this one through." I reroll that bitch.
I pay 250 of my 400 Expertise and become a Wizard.
This gives me the following shit:
A) All General Skills, section 10, at EL0
Looking, this seems to be a list of basic spells. Here they go; the Base Mana Cost (basically power level?) is in parenthesis. Communicate (1), Detection (1), Divination (1), Protection (2), Purification (2), Dispell/Banish (3), Knowledge (5), Summoning (7), Permanent Magics (9). I will go over these in detail... later. When I'm spending my Expertise to improve my shit.
B) The maximum EL currently possible as a Jeweler or Armorer.
Oh, good, I can bond with Snergli over gems or armor. I will go with Armorer. The Max EL for Armorer is
I + W + (StB x 5) or 80
. Owain rocks this out. 41+38+5 is over 80, so
it is. (This would have cost me 100 + (9 x 80), or 820 Expertise Points otherwise.)
C) One Human and one Supernatural tongue at EL80 and EL60, respectively. The Wizard can speak these tongues and read and write them at the maximum EL currently possible.
OK, I'm up to two Human tongues and a Supernatural one. Time to dive into languages. The Human Languages are at the back of Book One.
let there be a Common Tongue...
there's no Common Tongue. Have you forgotten what game this is?? I vaguely remember Donara being a default homeland, so Donaran is #1. Closing my eyes and pointing, I pick Bhamotin as #2.
Home Sweet Home
As for Elder Tongues?
Tongue of Light sounds cool, so I pick that one.
I also need to pick what kind of Wizard I am. There's three kinds, separated by the Alignment system.
is basically Chaotic Evil, and their spells do nasty shit like summon hellfire, slime, and leech life force.
is generally good guys; they get some elemental spells, light, healing, and buffing.
isn't like "Unaligned" - it's Crazy Neutral, working against Law or Chaos, whoever happens to be on top. Their spell list is smaller and deals with time and planar stuff.
Since I only see Healing on the Law list, I pick Law, which has the side effect of "I'm not an asshole, and Lawful things won't attack me on sight." I learn Law spells as normal, I pay double to learn Balance and Elder spells, and I pay quadruple to learn Chaos spells.
3) Section 3.8, Magic Experience Levels.
Record your Magic Experience Points and determine your starting MEL.
This isn't really in Section 3.8 in Book One. It's
in Section 8.1, Book Two; I need to refer to Section 3.8 after referring too Section 8.1.
Anyway, I look at my Intelligence and use that to find a row on the Starting Experience and Expertise table. At 41, I have 80 Magic Experience and 125 Magic Expertise which I'll use for spells. Per Book One, Section 3.8, my Magic Experience Level is
4) Section 1.3.
Determine Mana Regeneration and Casting Ability.
OK, good. Looping back to this, only with more math!
1.32611) Magic Defense Value
Because I'm a trained magic-user, I can add
to my Mana Level for this. This gives me an MDV of 13.
1.32612) Casting Ability
Also known as my pool of Mana Points, it is equal to my
MEL x Mana Level
. As calculated before, my Mana Level is 11. 11 x 3 = 33.
1.3272) Mana Regeneration
This one's pure table; no formulas. It involves my Will and Magic Experience Level. My Will is 38. My MEL is 3. Every day, I regain 3 mana points if I've used magic that day. Wow, that's ... pretty harsh. If I cast no spells during a day, I can add my MEL to this, so there's that, but at best it'll take me the better part of a week to regain all my mana from 0.
...and that's plenty for this post. Holy shit. I still have to do all my spells and crap, and then I have to go back and spend my remaining 150 expertise points on normal skills.
Until next time, gentle readers. I still have (2D10+80)% of my hair, and ((1D10 x StB)+240)/4 % of my sanity!
* I will later forget and start calling him Owain. Then I will not care enough to correct any posts to make it consistent.
Look Closely, You Can See My Brain Dripping Out Of My Ears
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS SECTION 1.31: IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, YOU CAN SEE MY BRAIN DRIPPING OUT OF MY EARS
A typical Powers & Players player after making a character
Hokay. So first things first. Did you know Powers & Perils has
? Yeah, me either. Important things of note: Super-Elves are gone; Alfar have basically been removed as a player race, so that bit of absurdity has been ret
ired. Also of note? The very magic system I was going to mock mercilessly today has also been ...
is a strong word, so how about
made less broken
? Naturally, this was a change made because magic was - in the author's words -
In practice, it meant that Fireball was just as hard to cast as Fire Darts, and "Killing Light" - which does what it says on the label - costs the same as lighting up a room.
So let's see. When we last met, Snergli's little wizard buddy, Owein the Magnificent, was almost Owein the Magnificent Failure of Being a Wizard Which Was the Whole Point. He got his basic magic stuff and we did math.
5) Familiarize yourself with sections 6 and 7 of Book Two, the general rules that apply to magic use in play.
Fair enough. I did this. Now
have to do this. And here's the thing... At its base? The magic system
really isn't bad
. I'd go so far as to say it's pretty slick and manageable for an 80's game. Here's a table:
So how do you use it? Simple - and I actually mean it. The Line you use is your MEL (Magic Experience Level). You deduct 2x your Expertise in a spell from your line, and add in the target's MDV (Magic Defense Value). If the target wants to be affected, you instead subtract their MDV. And that's it. It's a simple system that is also used for poisons, diseases, and most stuff that's not weapons. Owein is MEL 3, so all things being equal, he succeeds at a spell on 01-44, fails on 45-93, and Fails Abysmally at 94+
Oh. Abysmal Failure?
. It makes magic kind of dangerous, which is a welcome change from most RPGs, and it has much sharper teeth than most. Casters in this setting are channeling the immortal forces behind the world's alignments, and it can get messy. Here's that table:
You deduct 2x your Expertise in the spell from this table, too. An abysmal failure can get you mana-drained, stunned, possessed, or dead. Take that, caster supremacy!
So that was simple! And kind of neat! How's the rest of the system? Just as easy?
Fuck you, this is Powers & Perils. It is going to be complicated, involve formulas, and you'll like it. So let's look through the rest of the section...
Here's the basics. Every spell I know is more or less a separate skill I pay a cost to learn at EL 0. Some spells come in "families"; you pay a single cost to learn a group of spells at EL 0, but after that, they advance individually, too.
7.3 Gaining New Spells
. So how much does it cost to learn a new spell?
(Base Mana Cost +1) squared
Yes, squared. What, you don't want to square numbers in an RPG? Well, too bad. A spell with a BMC of 1 costs 4, and a spell with a BMC of 9 costs 100.
But wait! There's more!
If you have an instructor, that's cut in half. It is silent on whether or not I have an instructor when buying my beginning spells; I will assume I do because I only have 125 EP and trust me - they do not go very far.
7.1 Casting Cost
. Let's say I want to cast a spell. How much mana will it cost me?
Base Mana Cost + (EL x 2)
. That's the EL I actually cast the spell at; I can reduce this if needed. So if a spell has a Base Mana Cost of 1, and I cast it at EL 2, it will cost 5 mana out of my Casting Ability. Could it be that simple? Fuck you, this is Powers & Perils. Of course, it's not that easy.
7.2 Casting Speed
. So my spell costs 5 mana. How much time does it take to cast a spell? All tactical combat is done in Phases; one Phase is enough to move 1/4 of your movement and attack in melee or else shoot a bow, basically. If my spell is expensive, it might take more than one Phase to cast, and if I'm interrupted by being damaged, I lose my mana and the spell fails. The speed I cast at is
(MEL + EL)/2, round up
. (3 + 2)/2 = 3, rounded up. So each Phase I can cast 3 mana. It will take me two Phases to cast a 5 mana spell; I hope I don't get shot in the middle of it. (If I cast it at EL 1, it only costs 3 mana, and I'll be able to shoot it off in a single phase.) This is pretty complicated, yeah, but I really like the concept, here.
7.4 Increased Expertise
. So how much Expertise does it cost to improve a spell I know?
Casting Cost x (New EL + 3)
. Since Casting Cost is also a formula, the whole thing is
(Base Mana cost + (Current EL x 2)) x (New EL + 3)
Thank goodness there's a table, because that's an abomination.
7.43 EL Maximums
(Prime Attribute + MEL)/10, round down.
For me it's (41+3)/10, or 4, rounded down. Increasing even a cheapass spell to EL 4 costs 142 points, so it's not an issue. No discounts for instruction, here. I get the feeling that learning a shitload of spells at EL0 will be the way to do it.
...and that's the "basics" such as they are.
The "language" must have been the clusterfuck of the English language found in the rulebooks.
6) Determine your starting benefits based on the Magic Path that you selected for your character.
Whoops. Already did that one.
7) Sections 10 and 11 of Book Two. Using the expertise gained in section 8.1 of Book Two. Using the Expertise Points gained in Section 8.1 of Book Two ONLY, select your starting spell knowledge and increase your ELs if desired. See any restrictions that apply towards your Magic Path. See Section 7 of Book Two for the rules and tables that are used.
Okay. I have 125 Expertise to spend. I am going to stick with Law Powers, for starters, using the errata I mentioned above. Fire Powers (BMC 2), Healing (BMC 1), Might (BMC 1), Storm Powers (BMC 3), Invisibility (BMC 2) and Light Powers (BMC 3). This costs me... 32 Expertise, assuming I have an instructor. See all those things with "Powers" though? As I mentioned above, each of them gives me several spells. Right now, my spells are as follows...
Name BMC EL
Communicate 1 0
Detection 1 0
Divination 1 0
Protection* 2 0
Purification 2 0
Dispell/Banish* 3 0
Knowledge 5 0
Summoning (Law) 7 0
Enhancement 5 0
Enchantment 6 0
Curse or Ban 8 0
Ensorcellment 10 0
Enchanted Dedication 10 0
Ward Pacts 15 0
Healing 1 0
Might 1 0
Fire Powers (2)
Combustion 1 0
Fire Detection 1 0
Fire Darts 2 0
Fire Showers 3 0
Fire Ball 4 0
Light Powers (3)
Light 1 0
Radiant Light 3 0
Killing Light 5 0
Storm Powers (3)
Wind 1 0
Flight 2 0
Lightning Swarm 3 0
Lightning 4 0
Thunderhead 8 0
* This is really 4 spells; one for each alignment Law, Chaos, Balance, Elder.
Okay. So now I get to spend my remaining 95 points on improving some spells. Everything else stays at EL 0, which means I can cast it, but kind of as a novice.
So let's see... I
to improve Healing, Protection (Chaos), Protection (Elder), Fire Darts, Fire Ball, and Dispell/Banish (Chaos). Let's see if that's feasible.... Nope. so I content myself with...
Fire Darts to EL 2 (16+30=46), Fire Ball to EL 1 (20), Protection (Chaos) to EL 1 (16), and Healing to EL 1 (12). That adds up to 94, which leaves me with 1 extra Expertise. I can't buy any new spells for that, so I put it towards Light.
Name BMC EL
Communicate 1 0
Detection 1 0
Divination 1 0
Protection (Chaos) 2 1
Purification 2 0
Dispell/Banish* 3 0
Knowledge 5 0
Summoning (Law) 7 0
Enhancement 5 0
Enchantment 6 0
Curse or Ban 8 0
Ensorcellment 10 0
Enchanted Dedication 10 0
Ward Pacts 15 0
Healing 1 1
Might 1 0
Fire Powers (2)
Combustion 1 0
Fire Detection 1 0
Fire Darts 2 2
Fire Showers 3 0
Fire Ball 4 1
Light Powers (3)
Light 1 0
Radiant Light 3 0
Killing Light 5 0
Storm Powers (3)
Wind 1 0
Flight 2 0
Lightning Swarm 3 0
Lightning 4 0
Thunderhead 8 0
I really wanted to improve Killing Light, too, but it was too goddramn expensive. I am sad my Lazer Beam isn't up to snuff.
Now keep in mind - I can still
all those spells I have at EL 0; I'm just not great at them. I will get better with practice. I could explain what all these spells do, but ... wow. I'll just note that the Magic Book is a goddamn mess.
8) Section 12 in Book Two, familiarize yourself with the attributes of the spells that you have selected. The Player is responsible for retaining this knowledge as fluently as possible. (
) See Section 7.5 of Book Two for the basic EL modifiers that apply to these spells.
I think that's a nice dream, book. A nice dream.
9) Complete Steps 11 to 13 in setting up a character.
11) Section 2.4 Skill Table. Select the skills that your Character knows. All skills in these tables are purchased, and improved, using the expertise points you gained in Section 1.14
Oh yeah. I still have my real skills to buy up. I have 150 Expertise left.
Let's make this quick. I pick up
because it looks like I won't be relying completely on spells. It costs 15 to learn, and the cost to improve is
My Max rank is
(S + St + A + D)/20, round up.
For Owain, this is 3. Getting Rank 3 only costs 1 + 4 + 9 or 14 more points; a bargain, really.
Next, I decide I probably need to be able to talk with Snergli. I pick up Dwarf Elder for 30; it starts at
(my Empathy). The cost to improve is 3 per rank, so I toss 9 more points at it to improve to 28.
Finally, Herbalism looks good. It costs 80. My Max Rank is
(I + Em) or 80
. My Int of 41 is my starting skill, and that will do for now. I've spent 148 of my 150 points, so Herbalist gets 2 partial expertise.
So now Owein's non-magic skills are...
Languages: Donaran 80, Bhamotin 80, Faerry Sidh 60, Tongue of Light 60, Dwarf Elder 28
Weapons: War Staff 3, Axe 2
Other Skills: Survival (Swamp) 8, Survival (Forest) 8, Forester 30, Tracking in Forests 7, Armorer 80, Herbalist 41.
12) Sections 2.5 and 2.6.... shit, I already did this. NEXT
13) BUYING SHIT!
I have 60 copper. 10 of them go to my War Staff. 10 more go to Leather Armor, having not seen any restrictions to that effect. The rest goes to shit like food and basic clothes.
I am not making the rest of these shitheads.
So, just a few closing details...
: He still has that amulet. Book Four lists a generation method for amulets that I spent 10 minutes looking for. I roll D100 and get 45, so it's a Protection amulet. Badass. 2D6 tells me its MEL is 6. 1D10 tells me its EL is 4. It's very simple - while wearing it prominently, Owein gets +4 to his MDV and enemies have to add 4 to their rolls when attacking him.
"Okay. So your emotional curse is that you're a terrified little man-child who gets paralyzed with fear at the sight of blood." "The fuck? Do I need to spend two more hours making a new Dwarf?" "Wait! - you see, your magic item is a talisman in the shape of a feather. It has the power to suppress curses! As long as you wear it, your pathetic fear is negated!" "...So I'm Dumbo, basically?" "No. Dumbo could fly."
That's two characters down, zero to go.
NEXT: We go Adventurin' and Monster-Killin' and learn something about the P&P setting on the way.
In Which I Play Powers & Perils With Myself
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS SECTION 2.0: IN WHICH I PLAY POWERS & PERILS WITH MYSELF
It's going to be hard to top Halloween Jack's Immortal writeup for sheer idiocy of combat, but P&P will try.
So, Snergli and Owein are traipsing around the woods, when they are set upon by four Brigands! Brigands are not found in the Monster book; instead they are in the Human Encounters & Treasure book. Two of the brigands are armed with bows, and the other two have crude maces and ragged wooden shields! All are wearing worn leather armor.
Here's their basic stat block...
This is for males. As you could probably guess, females are worse at combat. Fortunately, they aren't dumber this time.
Now, according to Book Four, they might have some stuff to modify those. I will not bother.
We start with Owein trying to Influence them not to attack. His Influence Chance has a base of 35%. So I consult the simple Influence tab... uh...
The only persuasion here is persuading me not to bother with Influence.
And just in case that was too easy, there's the following order of operations (this is taken straight from the book):
-X The factor is subtracted after all percentage factors have been applied.
-X% The factor is subtracted after all positive percentages have been applied.
+X This factor is added before any other modification.
+X% This factor is added after any +X factors.
So it's +X, +X%, -X%, -X, put into a less ridiculous order.
The applicable modifiers are... +5 because Owein is "Average" with his Appearance of 32, -10% because I am a stranger. I am not threatening them yet (the other way around) and I don't think I'm specifically their enemy except in the vague "they want to kill me and rob my corpse" sort of way. So
(32+5) x 0.9
= 34%. I roll a ... 94.
Next time, it's swords first. That was dumb.
Here's how we look now, ignoring trees and shit because this is about to get crazy.
So! Let's find out how to fight.
Tactical combat is divided into Phases. Four Phases makes a Turn. Each phase follows the following goddamn steps:
I) Mana Allocation
II) Missile Fire
III) Magic Effect
IV) Movement and Melee
Within each phase, order is based on your Phase Movement Rate. Remember how you have a movement rate - which is movement per turn? Yeah. That stat is a lie. Shit's about to go downhill. You see, Snergli and Owein both have 10; the Brigands have 9. You see, that movement rate is for a
and these are
(of which there are four in a turn) so you divide movement by 4. Oh, neither 10 nor 9 are divisible by 4? Tough shit. You get to look at a table. Snergli and Owain move 3 in the first phase, 2 in the second, 3 in the third, and 2 in the fourth. The bandits go 3-2-2-2.
That gives you your PMR, or Phase Movement Rate, which is the actual initiative order. Ties go to Players, so there's that.
A) Mana Allocation
Owain needs to decide on a spell now. He will cast Fire Darts at EL2. His Casting Rate with Fire Darts (MEL 3, EL 2) is
, but the spell will cost him
mana. He spends 3 mana on getting his spell ready. Because he did this, he cannot move this phase. If he takes damage, it's lost.
B) Missile Fire
The two brigands armed with bows see Owain start casting. They decide to do something about it. They are at ranges 7 and 6, and Owein in both cases has cover from the mace-wielding brigands. So let's look up the missile fire and range tables, shall we?
taking a deep breath...
Bows have a Base Range of 20. A range of 6-10 hexes counts as "Medium" range, normally. However! The obstruction means I double the range, which means both are in the Long category, so I use Combat Base Line -18. What's combat base line? I knew you'd ask!
If the archers had any Expertise, they could deduct it from their rolls. If Owein had a shield, he could add his Expertise in it to their roll. Neither is true. So they roll! Wow,
! Two bigtime misses, even before adding in +4 from Owain's amulet. Owain breathes a sigh of relief. Missile weapon phase done.
C) Magic Effect
D) Movement and Melee
Here's where Snergli and the mace-wielding brigands get to play. Neither the archers nor Owain get to move this phase; their actions earlier preclude it. Snergli moves 3 this phase, so he heads 3 straight forward towards the pair. Is there facing in this game?
Of course there's fucking facing in this game. This is Powers & Perils.
Abstractions are for lesser games. There are no rules for turning, but eh. He can face both of them, so we're good.
He is technically "charging" this round, which is meaningless for him, but might be meaningful with the right weapon. He wishes to fight; because he is faster than the two brigands, they have no choice in this matter and don't get to move. (If they were faster, one could escape the dwarf.) So we enter the melee. Who gets to go first? Well, it should be
no fucking surprise whatsoever
that this process is rather complicated. I'mma put this right here...
As you can see Axe > Mace, so Snergli gets to swing first. Remember that combat table up above? We get to find what line we're on. Snergli has an Offensive Combat Value (OCV) of 6. The Brigands have a Defensive Combat Value (DCV) of 2. Subtracting the DCV from the OCV gives us a result of 4, so Snergli is attacking on Line 4. He uses his Axe Expertise of 3 to subtract from his roll. He rolls...
Crap. A miss.
The Brigands get to counter-attack now. They are OCV 2, and Snergli is DCV 5, so we're attacking on Line -3. They have no Expertise, but they outnumber Snergli so each gets to subtract 5 from their rolls. Snergli uses his Shield EL of 3 to add to Brigand 1's roll. Brigand 1 rolls
, -5 for the advantage, +3 gives us
Astonishingly, the Shield EL turns a Shield Hit into a full Miss. Brigand 2 solidly misses with an 89.
A) Mana Allocation
Owain adds 3 more Mana to his Fire Darts spell. The casting is complete.
B) Missile Fire
Both brigands still have their views obstructed and rightly decide this is bullshit. They choose not to fire this phase.
C) Magic Effects
Owain's spell complete, he now gets to target his Fire Darts. He targets one of the Mace-wielders. He rolls on Magic Base Line 3 (from the previous post), subtracts double his spell's EL (-4) and adds his enemy's MDV (4). So it's a wash. He rolls for his spell...
! Crap! (oh - and he was also out of range. doh!)
D) Movement and Melee
The archers move around. Snergli wants to fight. The mace-wielders are stuck. Snergli attacks again.
, minus his Axe EL of 3 is a
24, which is a HIT.
On a Hit, anyone does
1D6 + SB + WSB
damage. He only rolls a 2. So he does 2 + his Strength Bonus of 1 + his Weapon Strength Bonus of 1, or 4 damage. The brigand's armor deducts 1 from this, so it's 3 damage. That brigand has 7 hit points left.
The Brigands attack. Snergli adds +3 to Brigand 1 again for his shield.
is the roll, -5 for outnumbering, +3 for Snergli's Shield EL gives us 16 total. 16 is a normal Hit. Brigand 2 rolls a
, -5 for outnumbering is still a miss at 52 total. Brigand 1 rolls damage. 2, plus his SB of 1 and his WSB of 1, equals 4. Snergli's Armor is AV 2, so he takes a paltry 2 damage from his 42 hit points.
A) Mana Allocation
Owain is not casting this phase.
B) Missile Fire
The two Archers now have clear shots at Range 5. This is Short range, so they attack on the +4 line. Ouch. This could get messy.
are the rolls - 44 and 40 after the amulet is applied. If Owain had a shield, they'd both be shield hits and he'd get to use his Shield's AV. He does not, so they are both Hits. Their SB does not apply and their bows' WSB is 0, so they roll straight D6's for damage, deducting 1 from each.
, reduced to 2 and 4, mean that Owain is down to 20 of his 26 hit points.
C) Magic Effects
D) Movement and Melee
The Archers are good where they are. Owain moves, however, moving 3 this phase.
, -3 for his EL, gives a 23 for another solid HIT. The D6 is a
+1 for SB, +1 for WSB, -1 for the Brigand's AV gives us 7 more damage, taking that Brigand out of the fight before he can swing. Brigand 2 swings, no longer outnumbering Snergli. Snergli uses his Shield EL. 11; bad news. +3 = 14. A normal hit. 5 on the damage roll, +1 for SB, +1 for WSB, -2 for armor gives us a straight 5. Snergli is down to 35 hit points.
Phase 4 (will it ever end?)
A) Mana Allocation.
Owain declares Fire Darts again, casting at EL 2. 3 mana is spent. He has 24 mana left.
B) Missile Fire.
Those goddamn archers shoot at my man Owain again. Same range. Owain lucks out;
+4. Both miss.
C) Magic effects
D) Movement and Melee
Everyone's good where they are. Snergli attacks the Brigand.
-3, a miss.
Brigand attacks Snergli.
, +3 for the Shield EL pushes us to 23, which is a Shield Hit. That means Snergli gets to use his Shield's AV of 16 (13 base, +3 for his Expertise). 1D6 gives us
damage, +2, so nowhere near Snergli's AV. (If the Brigand had done 8 points - half the Shield's AV - the shield's AV would have been permanently reduced by 1.)
A) Mana Allocation.
3 more mana to Fire Darts.
B) Missile Fire.
The archer to Snergli's right decides to shoot at him, point blank. The other keeps up the good fight on Owain.
+4 vs. Owain is a solid miss. The archer shooting at Snergli gets to use BL +11 now. Snergli chooses to use his Shield EL against him.
, +3, gives us 63 - another Shield Hit. The archer sticks a worthless feather in Snergli's mighty shield.
C) Magic Effects
Owain's spell is complete. He targets the remaining guy with the shield. Magic Base Line 3, -4 for Expertise, +4 for MDV.
- a solid success. His Fire Darts do an impressive 3D6 damage; he rolls a
I am not sure if the Brigand's armor affects this or not; either way he's toast.
D) Movement and Melee
Snergli smiles and charges one of the Archers - the one in point blank with him. That archer has no shield and cannot counterattack; he is busy switching weapons.
-3, still on BL +4, gives us a Severe Hit!
Severe Hits do
1D10 + SB + WSB + (EL/2), round up
is the roll. +2 for SB/WSB, and +2 more for EL gives us 13 damage. The Archer gets his leg severed and bleeds to death noisily.
No mana, no missiles, no spells. The remaining archer runs off; neither Snergli nor Owain pursue.
Combat is over.
My main takeaways:
I'll be completely honest - this was way,
smoother than I expected. At a table with engaged players, it probably would have gone just great.
Shields are BAD ASS. I would never play a melee dude without a shield in this game, now.
Magic is fairly weak and slow, which is fine with me. (Owain could have cast Fire Darts at a pathetic EL0 every round, but why bother?)
Missile weapons are completely deadly even in nearly untrained hands because their attack is based only on their range. Skill matters, yeah, but overall a bunch of dudes with crossbows pointed at your face is every bit as scary as it should be.
FIGHTER LOCKDOWN, several decades before I expected to see it. Snergli was able to control the opposing brigands' movement just by being next to them. (Assuming I understood the rules properly...)
Diceless Initiative. Yep, I made fun of the table, but honestly? It gives you a reason to pick up a spear.
A critical hit system with some teeth; Severe and Deadly hits are fun.
I leave this combat ... impressed ... with how this works out.
So how much experience do these two intrepid adventurers get? How long will it take them to recover from a simple fight against brigands?
Next post - How idiotic can an advancement system get? You will have your answer.
Edited to add some stuff I forgot, like Owain's amulet and some stuff I liked.
Once Combat is Done, You Still Have to Fight The Rules
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS SECTION 2.1: ONCE COMBAT IS DONE, YOU STILL HAVE TO FIGHT THE RULES
Alright, so last time we met, Snergli and Owain just dispatched four brigands in a surprisingly decent combat system, taking only light wounds in the process.
This has nothing to do with that fight, but how awesome would this have been?
So first on all players' minds after a brisk fight are two concerns: "How much XP did I get?" And "Did they have any treasure?" We'll tackle these in order. It should be no surprise at this point that P&P isn't content to simply hand out experience points. For this, I need to handle the PCs separately. Yes, it's going to get bad.
Snergli was engaged in weapon-based combat, rather than magic. First, we have to calculate his ...
126.96.36.199) Combat Experience Points.
"Per Hit Point scored on an opponent, excluding any damage scored with a spell, the Character scoring the damage will receive the target's CDF in Combat Experience Points."
Okay... That's just idiotic. The degree of tracking involved is utterly asinine, and it implies that you get better at getting experience when you get better at fighting, which seems kind of backwards to me. There's also rules, by the way, which make sure you don't get too much experience if you over-kill something. We're pretty good here because Snergli took on two by himself, but if we'd had a few extra combatants, it would have been ridiculous.
There are so many better ways to do this. Say, multiply the monsters' HPs by their CDF and divide it up among anyone who fought. Or give CEP values in the stat blocks. Also, not getting XP for the guy who retreated is nonsense - defeat is defeat, dammit. Cut it in half if you wish, or whatever - but 0 is bogus.
OK, rant over. The Brigands' CDF (Creature Difficulty Factor) is 1, and each had 10 Hit Points. He did a total of 10 damage to one, and 13 to another. However, only 12 of those damage count because the Brigand died at -2. Scoring 22 damage then gives him
. He started with 250 CEP; he will be Combat Experience Level 4 once he hits 450.
188.8.131.52) Expertise Gains
"For each skill used in combat, except magic, the Character will receive
CDF x 2
. If the skill is used against targets with varying CDF values, the Highest CDF will be used.
Well, this one is at least easy. Snergli gains 2 Expertise Points in each of Shield and Axe. He has a ways to go; he had 6 Expertise in Axe after character creation, and this just puts him at 8. He needs a total of 24 (NEL x 6) Expertise to hit EL 4, so there's 16 to go. Same with his shield (NEL x 6), but these are his first two Expertise points, so there's 22 to go.
That's right - every single skill has its own EP to track, its own sub-experience table, its own maximum limits, and it's altogether a tracking clusterfuck.
184.108.40.206) Characteristic Points
"Per 50 Combat Experience Points that a character gains in Combat, he may increase any modifiable characteristic by 1. In determining the number of points earned, round up."
I wasn't clear on this at first, but it means what it says - most fights, you get to add at least 1 to your Characteristics. Just from fighting some brigands, which is a bit of a culture shock coming from D&D. (There's a note that you have to get at least 10 in a combat to get any; I got 22, so I'm good.) Snergli puts his Characteristic Point it into Strength, which pushes it to 29.
(There's a note that if you get 2 or more Characteristic Points in a battle, you can put no more than 50% of them (round up) into a single Characteristic. So that's a bit of a throttle on rapidly advancing a single stat.)
And then after this? I get to check (a) if there's a Bonus change (there's not; that comes at 31), and (b)
every single Max EL on every one of my skills to see if it changed.
Still, I kind of like this. It's bookkeeping, but it gives a pretty good sense of progress, at least.
So, Owain cast Fire Darts at EL 2 twice. The first time he missed, and the second time he barbecued a Brigand. Let's see how this works out...
220.127.116.11) Magic Experience Points
Any time Owain casts a spell, in or out of combat, he gains Magic Experience Points.
If the spell is used offensively against an enemy, he gains
Victim's MDV x (EL + 2)
. The Brigands' MDV (magic defense value) was an impressive 4. He gains nothing for the spell that failed (this time), but he gains an impressive 16 from the brigand flambe.
A dramatic re-enactment of Owain's impressive spell
Owain started with 80 MEP, and this puts him at 96. He will advance to Magic Experience Level 4 when he hits 150, so he starts looking for more brigands to shoot.
18.104.22.168) Magic Expertise Points
Just like with skills,
has its own Expertise track. Fortunately, they all have the same Maximum EL.
When he successfully hits something with Fire Darts, he gains the Target's
MDV x 2
as Expertise in the spell. When he fails, he gains 1 anyway. So he gains 9 Expertise in Fire Darts. Along with the 1 he had from character creation, he has 10. He needs 48 total to push his spell to EL3. He's got a while, yet.
22.214.171.124) Characteristic Points
Per 25 Magic Experience Points Owain gains, rounded up, he gets 1 Characteristic Point that may be spent on anything but Strength, Agility, Constitution, or Appearance. Wow, okay! We push Intelligence to 43.
...and that's it for advancement. It feels like a lot of progress, actually, for a simple encounter.
So now we come to treasure. Powers & Perils certainly has a thoroughly detailed and realistic system regarding how to generate treasure, but apart from knowing these guys each have "one item" (their weapons?) it's impossible to determine how much coinage each of these guys have. I'm going with "none".
Well, now that that's bullshitted past, we get to recovery. Fights are hard work, after all. Now, Snergli and Owain are certainly good to adventure for quite a bit longer, but first they want to know how their resources will be. So let's see how this goes...
As is standard for RPGs, there's Magical and Non-Magical healing. Unlike in most RPGs, too much magical healing can
Owain is down 6 hit points of his 26 maximum. Snergli is down to 40 out of 42. Snergli's fine, but Owain figures he should heal himself.
126.96.36.199) Magical Healing
Owain casts his Healing spell. He's only down 6, so he will cast the spell at EL 0. Since it's Base Mana Cost is 1, this costs 1 Mana. He still gets to use his full EL on the casting roll, so I roll my D100, subtract 2 for his EL. His MDV is 13; because he is a willing target he gets to
that from the roll. He tries once...
, even -15, is a failure. 1 mana down the drain. He tries again...
-15 is a success on the chart. He gets to heal 1D6+StB+EL hit points. He rolls a
, +1 for his Stamina Bonus and +0 for the Spell EL means he heals 4 hit points immediately and is now at 24/26. He also gets a -5 bonus on his Healing Chance (see below) overnight.
Now. For a non-offensive spell, he gets Experience and Expertise even out of a combat. Experience is
(Base Mana Cost) x (EL spell was cast at + 2)
. So he gets 2 more Experience. He also gets
Base Mana Cost x 2
in Expertise for the successful spell, plus 1 more for the failed one. It takes 25 EP to get from EL1 to EL2 in a spell with a BMC of 1, so he has 22 more Expertise to go.
The book is silent on whether or not he gets
stat increase from just casting a simple Healing spell. I am going with ... no? Then again, you can increase your Eloquence or Empathy for just succeeding on an Influence check, so ...
188.8.131.52) Natural Healing and Mana Recovery
So after traveling for the remainder of the day, Snergli and Owain camp out. In the morning, the following things happen...
(1) Snergli and Owain both roll their Healing Chances, which was defined as
(C + St)/2, rounded up.
Owain's is 43% and Snergli's is 70%. They get to deduct their Stamina Bonus from the roll (both have +1), and Owain gets to deduct 5 more from his magical healing on the previous day. They roll...
Owain gets a
, which is enough even before his deductions. Snergli gets a
, which is well under 70. Each heals 1D3+StB damage. Owain gets a 1, and heals 2 damage, which brings him back to full. Snergli rolls a 3, and is also back at full.
(2) Owain recovers some mana. Because of his MEL and Will, he recovers
mana points. So he's still down a lot - he spent 12 in the fight, and 2 recovering from it, so he's got 10 more to go. If he doesn't spend any mana today, he'll get to recover another 4, plus 3 extra (based on his MEL). He doesn't need to make any bullshit rolls to make this happen, fortunately - it just does at the start of his day.
...And that's the basics of the play mechanics. I think that's most or all of the player-facing stuff apart from actual skill rolls. Which are usually boring. I mean, every single one is a separate sub-system generally divorced from the game as a whole, just like most early 80's games.
Next time, we'll look at Alignments, Cosmology, and maybe the Setting a bit!
A Non-Crappy Alignment System
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS SECTION 3.0: A NON-CRAPPY ALIGNMENT SYSTEM
Alright, so I think I should mention - I basically hate alignment in RPGs. I don't mind it being part of a setting, and if done really well like in Warhammer, it can be awesome. But the idea of attaching simplistic alignments to PCs (followed by asinine discussions about the alignments of real-world people and any conversation that includes the word "paladin") just turns me completely off.
The pig is "law". Get it? Get it?
Believe it or not, Powers & Perils has actually my favorite alignment system out of any RPG I can think of - that is, for games which actually
an alignment system. I think it may have been the first RPG to embrace something like
. While I'd ordinarly just pass Alignment by with nary a word, this one's different enough it deserves some comment.
There are four main alignments, but one of them is split into four branches.
- It's pretty much Law, Order, Good, and the destruction of chaos. It's generally the good guys, but not always. Love, mercy, and generosity are prized, as is the elimination of disorder.
- The opposite of Law. Strives for the elimination of order, and prizes evil, selfishness, etc. Ultimate goal is the return of reality to primeval nothingness, so there doesn't seem to be a future in it.
- Rather than the basic "disinterested" Neutral, this is an actual position, also often called "Stupid Neutral." It works against both Law and Chaos in a drive for self-preservation. They fight whoever's strongest.
Alright so simple and kinda boring, right? Well, that's when things get weird.
- A group of alignments, which often conflict with each other. These are the alignments of the world's primeval forces.
- Primarily dedicated to preserving what remains of their domains. They risk little, but may expand when their enemies are weak. The Sidh are in constant conflict with the Kotothi. More Elf than Faerry, but some of both.
- Capricious and fey, much like myths of the fair folk. They can be friendly, deadly, or mischievous for impenetrable reasons. They mostly relate to others as they related to them. More Faerry than Elf, but some of both.
- Mostly concerned with animal life and the preservation of nature. They are mostly indifferent to other conflicts, except when it affects them. They are often in conflict with Law and Chaos, because both seek to subvert the natural world.
- The "children and major creations" of Kototh, the Serpent God. They are wicked, greedy, and cruel - jealous of the other races. These were either subverted by Kototh or else created by him. He has at times been an ally of the Elder forces, but now largely opposes them. The feeling is mutual. Among Kototh's creations are goblins, ogres, trolls, and (especially) dragons. Unlike Chaos, they don't seek an end to order or the end of the world, simply to reign supreme.
The Eldest Serpent, three-headed Lord of Doom, Father of Races, Lord of Jealousy, God of Cunning and Wit, the Lusting Serpent, he who hungers for the Sun, Patron of Theft, Greed and Trickery, Lord and Father of Dragons, Serpents and Worms, he whose jest is Death, Master of the Arcane, Receptacle of Dark Knowledge, Quester after Light, the Eldest Elder, Lord of Wild Growth and Choking Moisture, Partner in Chaos
OK, so how do humans fit in? Well, the best part of all of this (IMO) is that these alignments generally describe the forces at work in the universe, rather than PCs. Humans, born out of a direct conflict among the gods, are not the children of any alignment. Instead, they have free will and get to do as they wish, unless they intentionally ally with one of the alignments (say, by becoming a spellcaster or priest).
So for me, it's the best of all worlds - a cosmological stage which the players don't need to pick sides for, but which can motivate adventures. I can't tell you what a revelation it was to me that you could have alignments be something other than D&D's list, and that they could be kind of alien and incomprehensible.
Okay. Now that we have alignments, how about the cosmology?
I'll get to the "earthly" setting, Perilous Lands, in a later post. Let's talk about the planes. After all, we know that Snergli can (poorly, unreliably) use "Lower World Travel" so we should probably figure out what the Lower World and Upper World are.
None of these places really sound inviting.
The Upper World is the home of most Gods and the supernatural homes of Law, Chaos, and Balance. The Elder alignment also has some representation here - remember the Alfar Super-Elves from a few posts back?
Chaos lands are described as "twisted, stunted, and laid out in a senseless manner." Law lands are "sterile well-being" except where the ruling God decides otherwise. Balance lands include fluctuations of fate.
Time in the Upper World is quirky. Humans age slowly here; 40 Upper-World days is equal to 1 Middle-World day. So it's a good route for virtual immortality, if you can handle it.
The Lower World, on the other hand, is the home of the Elder alignments and races. Sidh, Kotothi, Dwarves, Faerries, Elves, and so on. It's a lot more varied, and includes elemental kingdoms, shamanic totem animals, and the like. It's a lot scarier than the Upper World - 1 Lower World day equals 100 Middle World days. So a character who spends 40 days there can quickly lose over 10 years of their lifespan on return to the Middle World. So if you go there - don't stay long. There are fewer details than for the Upper World, but it's basically Faerie, so I think it might not need it.
I like including trolls, ogres, goblins and the like into the Faerie "fold" - even as Kototh's creations. It seems pretty fitting and somewhat in tune with folklore.
I'll end this here - it's a shorter post, but there's a lot to talk about with Perilous Lands. It's one of the things about P&P that I like, almost unreservedly. I'll get to it in a few days, but until then, I'll put this here:
WARNING! HUGE IMAGE!
Perilous Lands Overview
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS 4.0.
4.0.1 Perilous Lands Overview
Also known as, 'Let's Un-Abandon This Shit'
Wow, so Powers & Perils. You may or may not remember my
many moons back. If you need to re-read it to remind yourself, go ahead. I'll be here. Waiting.
Anyway, Lemon Curdistan's excellent Eberron write-up has reminded me of two things: (1) I really need to read those Eberron books I bought a long time ago, and (2) I have a setting write-up of my own I need to finish.
If you just can't wait to read more about it, you can
review this extensive wiki thing
. But take heed! As it says on the page,
"NOTE - Players of P&P should note that these pages may contain background material unsuited for their eyes. Check with your GM first."
So to the approximately three dozen players of this early 80's masterpiece,
Any resemblance to Eurasia and parts of Africa is ... well, yeah, that's what it is.
(The image above links to a 7.5mb excellent resolution .jpg of the entire map, FYI. Read on to find out why it looks funky and why it's a big deal.)
Because Powers & Perils was supposed to be Avalon Hill's D&D, I suppose Perilous Lands would be Powers & Perils' Greyhawk. It's a vast, sprawling sandboxy/hexcrawly sort of place, with dungeon sites scattered here and there. It's essentially what you expected out of a setting in the 80's; a loose veil of cultures and a whole lot of dungeons to explore. The box set contains three books...
I dunno what's up with the Michelin Man armor, don't ask.
184.108.40.206 The Culture Book
This is a 68-page staple-bound book which mixes freely between too-fucking-much detail and not-nearly-enough. It's comprehensive, dry as all shit, and mostly reads like an encyclopedia with a few random entries to talk about powerful magic items the players will never get to use. It's rough, and it's where I stalled on this review a few months back.
The men read the maps, the women dress like belly dancers. This is because men have bonuses to Strength
Intelligence in Powers & Perils
220.127.116.11 The Site Book
Okay, now this one is really cool. In keeping with the general sandboxy nature of the setting, this has details on fifteen (seventeen?) adventure sites - more or less mini dungeons that fit into the world. It's the sort of thing I like to have around even as a modern kind of DM, but for a sandbox it's golden.
Confusingly, it also contains stuff about gods and calendars. So ... we'll have to get to that.
Oy. What can I say about the Map Book? Sadly, nothing good. It's brilliant and innovative and makes this whole damn setting nearly unusable and unreadable.
Take a nice, functional map. Cut it up into pages. Staple them together in a rather unfathomable and counter-intuitive order. Why do you want to do this? I dunno, but it's the 80's so, printing costs? It makes it hard to read the setting because you can't put the lands in context and a single nation is usually spread out over many pages, including some cases where it's just a few hexes. It makes it hard to run because you have to flip through the book to see where you're going. It's Powers & Perils, so it's not like you expect it to be easy in any way, but still! This is needlessly cumbersome even by Powers & Perils standards. Check this sage advice...
So yes, as presented, the maps go south to north in columns. If you head east from Map 1, you go to Map 4. Oh, and that thing about the edge rows of hexes lining up? It's a lie. Utter bullshit. Don't believe me? Click on that map I posted above and check out all the areas where nothing lines up at all. On the plus side, it has some pretty maps.
As a result, I'll be referring frequently to that 7.5 mb jpeg I linked to above. It's the first time I've ever been able to put all this shit in context, despite owning it for 30 years.
So that's Perilous Lands, and what I'll be poking through for the next few posts. Much like the rest of Powers & Perils, there's many ways in which it's terrible, but ... I just can't quit her, you know? P&P continues to fascinate me; it's an evolutionary dead-end in RPGs, and I can't think of too many games which are even similar. It's the
of RPGs. And for all its boringness and uncanny resemblance to Eurasia, Perilous Lands is still one of my favorite settings.
Anyway, we'll see how it goes this time, eh?
Culture Book Intro, A to B: Frustrating from the first damn page.
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS 4.1 Culture Book Intro, A to B: Frustrating from the first damn page.
The Culture Book starts out with notes about how things are alphabetized and lets you know that if an entry starts with "The" it's a Barbarian land
an Empire. Glad we could ... narrow that down? (No word on why everything has apostrophes; I'm still trying to figure that one out.)
It also notes that players can use it to figure out what culture they're from, along with a fairly complex (of course!) method of figuring out what their starting languages are.
And then we start going insane
. Wow, that didn't take long at all. No, really, I can't begin to imagine what kind of world-simulation BS spawned this next idea, but certainly ease of use was never factored into it.
There are 28 calendars. Twenty eight. To go from one to another, you need to add or subtract, except for a few weird ones where you don't. As a sort of footnote, this would be kind of
but inoffensive. However, since this is Powers & Perils, these calendars are used throughout the sourcebook. If you are reading about A'Korchu, all dates in the entry will be in the A'Korchu calendar. Fomoria? The Fomorian calendar. And since the nations tend to interact by conquering one another, it's a clusterfuck. I know this might resemble historical reality; fine. But in the setting book, they could at least keep the damn thing consistent. A guy
re-wrote it and fixed the dates
- P&P's fans are pretty ardent about the game - but I won't be cheating by referencing it.
So let's get started! As the mood strikes, I might try to make parallels to real-world Eurasian cultures; feel free to fill in any blanks. I'll put in maps of each country; each hex is noted as 20 miles across.
4.1.1 The A'Ha'Kacili
First off, this image is from that big mega-jpg I linked to, last post. You can see all the weirdness and obvious places where there are mistakes at the edges. So yeah, quality work, folks! In the Map Book, you'd need to reference 4 different maps to get this kind of overview, on pages 2, 4, 5, and 8.
organization with that map book, guys.
The A'Ha'Korcili are nomadic religious fanatics. They have a holy city, Kacli, that non-believers can only be in from 8am to noon. If they're there after that, it's execution time. They worship the Peri (detailed in the Site Book), and placate Eblis. So they're kind of middle-eastern, but location-wise you'd expect these guys to be not-Tuareg or something. They're also complete assholes; three times a year, they sacrifice "[c]aptives, criminals and select virgins" to placate Eblis, the jinn, and ifreet. They're really good at being slavers, and as a result have strained relations with their neighbors. Oh, and women have no status. Women are only of value based on what strong sons she has. Polygamy is the rule, as you'd expect.
Anyway, the legal system is whack. Except for religious crimes, all crimes are tried through contests of skill or combat. Which seems kind of unfair, you know? But I guess expected for religious fanatics, maybe? Religious crimes are sentenced by the Mullahs.
So we're off to a great start, here - misogyny, slavery, and human sacrifice - it's like the grimdark trifecta. We'll see if we get any better...
Based on location, I was expecting this to be not-England. Boy was I off base. If the A'Ha'Kacili are assholes, the A'Korchi are king-kamehameha assholes. They used to have a great empire, but it's been on the decline forever. Now, their holdings are their island and a few other smaller islands. The royal family is apparently murder-happy; the first few paragraphs talk about how every emperor killed his brother/father/cousin, until A'chori the Great killed basically his whole family and proclaimed himself God Emperor, and was the first one to survive to die of natural causes. Then this is thrown in...
: The Korchi royal dynasty is half-human, long-lived, usually brilliant and often insane. In them flows the essence of the Beasts of Chaos.
So um... they're Melnibonean? Okay, cool. (Edit: Yep. Found on the web page,
"The Korchi are a unique and ancient people. They tend to be dark-haired with pale complexions and light-builds.
Pure-blooded Korchi are often albinos
They're self-sufficient and hate everyone, especially their neighbors. It's a "wealthy, industrious, and totalitarian realm that lives for conquest and the conversion of 'savages' to the wonders of the Korchi faith." So tell me about this faith!
"A'Korchu worship the Courts of Abbadon, especially its master. Their religion is steeped in ancient traditions that demand human sacrifice and strange ritual practices." So while the A'ha'korcili will kill infidels who are in their city at the wrong time, the A'korchi will forcibly convert you to Satan.
Culturally, you basically have to be a sociopath to advance; the attainment of power is all anyone wants. Legal system? Ha, what legal system? The ruling classes have no laws. For the non-elites, they're basically all slaves and every crime is punishable by death, ranging from a "simple spearing" to ritual sacrifice.
So wow, so far Perilous Lands seems full of assholes.
4.1.3 The Aratad Confederacy
These guys were part of the Empire of Ced until 1213
. This correlates to 831
, which is means it was 269 years ago and fuck you, Powers & Perils. Anyway, at that point, they were invaded and occupied and their Empire never really pushed the invaders out. Instead, they allied with a few others and did it themselves, crowning their own king in 1231
. When asked to re-join the Empire of Ced they said, "Um, no." They remained independent for about 68 years until they decided to invade Clima and got conquered in turn. They then turned into terrorists and eventually drove the Climans out under the leadership of the brilliant Phiros I; afterwards they declared a Confederacy and that's where we are now. Their current autocrat, Agnar the Invincible (son of Phiros I), is a pretty stand-up dude; his own son Phiros the Navigator is a brilliant Admiral, and will follow his daddy's footsteps.
Anyway, the Aratad Confederacy is a bit of a breath of fresh air after 2/2 entries featured human sacrifice. For one thing, they worship the Elf Sidh gods; it's a crime to attack an Elf here. The citizens are "uncompromising and militant" and always ready to turn a profit. Unlike the other places, it has a functional legal system that applies evenly to everyone, even the rulers. They're maybe a bit sadistic - it notes that punishments often fit crimes in an "ironic" way, like how rapists are blinded and castrated, arsonists are burned alive, etc. They only imprison people until sentenced, and they treat their prisoners well. It does not allow slavery, torture, or forced servitude. All things considered, it sounds like a decent place, and I'm glad it's not all grimdark.
4.1.4 The Assiran
The "The" indicates it's another barbarian tribe, much like the "The" in "The Aratad Confederacy" indicates it's ... um... well, these guys are a barbarian tribe, okay?
Anyway, think landbound mountain vikings. See that green patch in the map? That's Valheim, which is a civilized place. Most of these barbarians worship the Valhani Mysteries (think Norse Gods, including Tyr and Odin) and serve as Valheim's line of defense from the outside world. They're easy to get along with, so long as you don't violate any taboos. That's really all their is to say about them; they're barbarian tribes that protect a propserous land.
4.1.5 The Bal'Sani
Another Barbarian tribe with mountain/hill dwellers. These guys have four major divisions; three get along with each other and fight against the Empire of Ced. The fourth, the Col'ka, are allied with the Empire so the rest of their tribe hates them. All of them consider their mountains sacred; they worship the elder forces of earth, with Domiel as their chief god.
They're pretty savage, all things considered, and don't take prisoners ever. Each family is responsible for deciding and enforcing laws on their own land. They aren't ones for frontal assaults; they kill those who invade their sacred lands in efficient ways to minimize their losses. It notes that they're talented bandits, night fighters, and trackers. So essentially, they're terrifying murderers and you'd have to be insane to ever trespass in the Bal'sani Highlands.
Ba'rual has had a hard existence. It seceded from an Empire which I think no longer exists. It was being invaded by Cholcharans, so allied with the nearby Zen'Da tribes to thwart the invaders. It's this friendship with the tribesfolk that's basically the entire reason it still exists. It's also led to problems...
When the Zen'Da tribes started invading nearby Marentia, Ba'ru served as a base of operations and its armies helped out. After those hostilities ended, it was peaceful and prosperous until L'p'nth, apparently jealous of all Ba'Rual's vowels, decided to invade. Only a year later, the Marentians liberated them and Ba'Rual joined in Marentia's war against L'p'nth. Then the L'p'nth sacked Ba'Ru again. Marentia liberated it again and "in exuberance" ... sacked Ba'Ru themselves. And now Ba'Ru is a "tributary ally" of Marentia. They're trying to get free.
Anyway, the Ba'Ruians (?) seem like nice, honest people. They worship the Gods of Law and are "incorruptible, intelligent, and literate." Yay, more countries that don't do the human sacrifice thing!
On the map, Bhamotin is somewhere around Israel/Palestine/etc. in the real world, so you'd kind of expect something of that nature, no? You be the judge...
In the year 0
), a column of fire fell from heaven and, speaking in tongues, ordered the warrior Bhamot to carry its message into the world. This was the Miracle of Bhamot, one of the cornerstones of the Bhamoti faith. For over 100 years after this event, the Bhamoti spread their new faith to the people on their island and sent missionaries into the hill around Lake Bhamot.
In the year 128
a Rogizini Emir attempted to invade the island to check the spread of the new faith. His army was decimated and the Bhamoti seized the hills south of Lake Bhamot. After their victory, the Bhamoti expanded into the Black Forest, converted its people and built a civilization. In the year 136
, they founded Kasha to celebrate their victories for the faith. Three generations of peace followed the founding of Kasha.
Radical theologians believe that this peace, when Adonai wished that his word be spread, caused the century of pain that followed. Beginning around the year 197
, Bhamotin suffered from serious plagues, Climan raids and Rogizini ambushes. In the year 313
they fought a major war with the Cerulean Empire and were badly beaten. For the next 45 years, they paid the Ceruleans a yearly tribute in order to retain their independence.
I mean, if you call your chief god
, you're not even trying to hide your influences. But it's kind of like they took that, but had Crusaders conquer the Holy Land because their army is made of 15 Chivalrous Orders, wearing Plate, Chain, lots of cavalry, etc. They are noted as "fanatically Lawful" in service to Metatron (again, not hiding anything) and are intolerant of all other faiths. Heresy, sacrilege, and other religious crimes are the worst thing you can do. Nevertheless, the people tend to be both generous and devout unless (I'm guessing) you worship another god or something.
There's a big part about some crazy huge prison work camp where people die a lot. It's kinda weird, just stuck in here, but I guess okay for adventuring? I dunno. Despite the religious fanaticism, it's definitely a nicer place than, say, A'Korchu.
...and that's it for A and B.
Next time, C (is for Clima)!
A Lot of Countries Start with "C".
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS 4.2 Culture Book C: A Lot of Countries Start with "C".
Caldo's pretty damn tiny, but it's more thoroughly detailed than most Empires.
Anyway, they're a tiny Mary Sue nation that hates trolls and is allied with some barbarians. For a while, Donara tried to conquer them, but the "Dagger Legion" kicked the Donarans' asses and stole some of their land.
They have two clans from their barbarian past, Clan Bara and Clan Caldo (which notably rules from a castle built by giants
). They have a huge military for the size of the country, with compulsory military service. And somewhere in that tiny country, they have huge herds of livestock and make awesome armor. Huh. They are kind and generous, though also compulsive gamblers.
Anyway, it then jumps into way more detail than is necessary about the royal lineage. The male leader of Clan Caldo (the Dagger of Caldo) marries the female leader of Clan Bara (The Jewel of Caldo). The Dagger controls the military except for the Jewel Guard, and the Jewel controls domestic affairs. They rule until the heirs both turn at least 18, at which point they step down and pass off their incredibly powerful artifacts.
Justice is kinda crazy and shitty. An accused is held prisoner for 10 days (which is hilariously called a 'fortnight') without being told what their charges are. For 10 days, people put in testimony. Testimony is examined by 3 judges; the first time the accused knows what they're accused of is when the sentence is read, so holy shit. Oh, and the accused can appeal with trial by combat or trial by fire, so there's that.
Um, wow, there's a lot about Caldo. No Caldan kids are illegitimate because marriage is for alliances and not for bearing kids. Male kids are always members of their father's clan, and female kids are members of their mother's.
Oh, and those artifacts are helpfully detailed here. The Dagger, in addition to +20 Strength and +2 PMR (I forget what this means) can give the wielder the memories of all the ancestral spirits. The Jewel doubles the bearer's Casting Ability and can ask the ancestors for information.
Anyway ... it's weird to have this tiny Mary Sue of a nation taking up almost two pages. Was there a planned novel? Was it just the author's favorite? No idea.
4.2.2 The Empire of Ced
This is a tiny, shitty remnant of a former great empire. It was incredibly mismanaged for centuries, with rulers either focusing on the fleet or the army and ignoring the other. They've basically been the region's punching bag for about five centuries, which is fine because they seem like huge assholes.
They grow flax and blow glass, so that's industry for you. And they tend to be "harsh, boorish, and arrogant" which seems kinda silly for a crappy remnant empire. But somehow they're also honorable and honest, so there's that? It's ruled by a Triumvirate, so I'm thinking it's sort of a Rome-after-the-fall deal.
4.2.3 The Cerulean Empire
It's India and doesn't pretend to be otherwise. After a befuddling series of conquerings and rulers, one of their leaders was called Dhaji the Supple, which makes me giggle for some reason. Unlike the Empire of Ced where the crappy rulers drove their Empire into the ground...
Aym’briz was a weakling who lived in constant terror of his father. He was in the Valley of Shame during the final battle against Bhamotin. At a crucial point in this battle he was terrified by the approach of a horribly-wounded, gore-splattered knight bearing a flaming sword. He fled, contributing that his father had come from hell to slay him. The Marshal killed him on the spot and left him for the vultures.
After killing Aym’briz, Marshal Ho’aza Dalya seized the throne as Regent for the Patani heirs. With the support of the army, he dedicated his reign to training the Patani heirs. With the support of the army, he dedicated his reign to training the Patani heirs and reorganizing the Empire. His reign (850 - 873) forced discipline on the Empire and led to the Satrap system as it is today. Since his death, the Cerulean Empire has remained a disciplined, stable and prosperous land.
...they've managed their own affairs. It's huge, impossibly wealthy, and aggressively expansionist. But they're superstitious and scared of ghosts and the supernatural. In a game where you can be Wizards, this seems a bit odd - like being an atheist in the Forgotten Realms - but there you have it. Do magic tricks and they run away. Oh, and yeah, there's a caste system of sorts but it's not really dwelt upon here, probably for the best.
Anyway, since it's big, it's divided into Satrapys ruled by Satraps (hereditary local government) and Viceroys (chosen by the Empire for 4-8 year terms). On top of that, the Empire has a huge and scary secret police/spy/assassin ring.
But that's basically it. They're a huge, rich, powerful empire that most neighboring nations fear.
A tiny, shitty little nation that's screwed hard in most every way. It's a semi-independent Duchy of Donara, once part of the Empire of Ced. It's broke.
There's a duke in Donara, Duke Salin of Pelara, that essentially rules the land. He controls most of the nation's wealth, including 70% of their mines. The Duke of Chiros owes him 40,000 Gold, or six times the nation's GDP. As a result, Duke Salin of Pelara controls the military, the justice system, and basically everything else; one of his enemies was executed for spitting on a public street.
Chiros's people are "treacherous, hedonistic liars" who are only productive when basically coerced into it. Sounds ... pretty racist? I dunno, they worship Dionysus, so maybe that's their deal. They love to gamble (obviously) and consider failure to pay a debt about the worst of all crimes. Hence, their screwage.
...and now we head East. Way East. This is like Kamchatka of the Perilous Lands. It's a harsh land, rich in furs and timber, but not much else. As a result, the people are pretty laid back about everything but survival. They willingly sacrifice for the good of the nation and help each other out ... because if they didn't they'd all die in a weird Powers & Perils 10-day "fortnight." They can be unforgiving, as you'd expect. For most everything else, the book almost literally says, "See Katai" so we'll get to it I guess.
This one's around Thailand or thereabouts. It's a feudal nation where the nobles are strong ("cunning, affluent hedonists") and the emperor is weak. And the commoners basically keep their heads down and try not to get noticed by the nobles, since they're basically property. They're independent of the larger, stronger Katai, but they pay Katai 10,000 gold a year to stay that way (after a rather disastrous invasion attempt).
They likewise pay the Fomorian Empire (we'll get to them... boy howdy...) 5,000 gold per year after they invaded a Fomorian land - the Kingdom of the East - also pretty disastrously. So they're paying for a lot of big mistakes, and only still exist because they play their two tributary allies against one another masterfully.
Oh, and the nobles use most of their fleets for piracy, which is considered only rational. I mean, what else do you do with huge fleets when you're paying off your only enemies?
Clima is another terrible island nation worshipping the gods of Chaos, along with A'Korchu. It was once a freeport, but about 900 years ago, fanatics of the Dark Temples killed all the nobles and like a quarter of the populace. Thirteen priestesses have ruled more or less ever since, called "Immortal Ghova" one and all. The current Immortal Ghova has started expanding again with her 160 scary warships, and it basically rules the entire totally-not-Mediterranean Sea by now. They're pretty much pirates, as you'd expect, and that's where they get most of their wealth - that, and the various lands they've conquered.
As you'd expect from Chaos-worshipping pirates ... well, I'll quote directly again...
The main gods of Clima are Sammael, Tiamat and Aeshma Daeva. Group ritual plays an important part in the Climan faith. On feast days entire cities join in the revels and human sacrifice is practiced with enthusiasm. The Climan faith is exuberant, perverse and evil. It is practiced by the vast majority of the populace.
...so yep, more human sacrifice in a perverse, exuberant faith. It's notable that the one matriarchal society we've seen is deranged and wicked. If I remember right, this is not the only time we'll see this.
4.2.6 The Confederation of Shanda
At one time, this was a group of barbarian tribes who warred against one another. However, although it's not on this map, Fomoria is like right off the coast, so they banded together to drive off the Empire. The allies have only recently formed something of a nation, drawn together by a Great Shaman in 316
in the "normal" dates because fuck you, that's why). The book further notes he's 72 years old, so he's
a time traveler because 955 was
145 years ago
The Great Shaman
Oh, and the Confederation will basically dissolve once he dies, presumably unless he regenerates into a new body.
The five tribes (the Shanda, the Perda, the A'Chalani, the Gholani, and the Sherlani) also each have their own totem animals. (PRO TIP: If you have a bunch of howling wolf t-shirts, the Gholani are your tribe.) There's a Council of Chiefs - two from each tribe - and a Duke from their one big city, who all vote on stuff. Prisoners are considered innocent until proven guilty, which is a nice change from most of this other bullshit. Anyway, they're apparently trying extra-hard to be civilized because at heart, they're one step removed from barbarism.
...and that's it for "C". Is this at all interesting to anyone but me? I'd love to get back to some fucked-up rules, but I haven't found a comprehensive overview of Perilous Lands anywhere and kind of want to stick with it.
D & E (there is no E)
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS 4.3 Culture Book D & E (there is no E)
Dawana go there? Naah, I Dawana.
...And now we head East. Waaay East. Over to the island of Lemasa which is basically Australia but also kind of Lemuria. And perched on the north coast is ... Tibet
? I am not an expert, so maybe someone can fill in the gaps here. Regardless, I don't think it sounds like Australia. Maybe it's where the
Anyway, it was once part of Lema (the formerly dominant nation on Lemasa) until they found religion and seceded. They got re-conquered in a bloody war, and remained that way until Fomoria (we'll get to them...) conquered Lema. And then? The monastic orders took over. No, I'm serious - they formed a Council of Lamas and elected the first Holy Dawan.
Their life is their religion, now, and it's divided into three basic orders. There's the Holy Order, which is formal and contemplative and doesn't really proselytize. There's the Militant Order - basically Shaolin Monks who learn ass-kicking and snow tiger style alongside "peace." And there's the Missionary Order which is like the Holy Order, but less strict, and they travel to convert others to their faith. Each Lama rules the lands about their temple, but the "Holy Dawan, the Lama of Dawana
(say that five times fast)
, and the Lama of Dai Mound" can order the lesser Lamas around a bit.
Otherwise, the people are basically pacifists. Seriously - they do whatever is possible to avoid taking life, even in war or self defense. (They can kill animals for food, but that's it.) They don't even punish criminals; they shun them and hope they leave on their own. And if they're serious crimes, the offender is banished (so much for not punishing them?) until they do enough good to make up for it. It's kind of a breath of fresh air after most nations being huge assholes.
Speaking of assholes! Dechat is a tiny little shithole tributary of the Cerulean Empire, stuck right up next to the Bal'sani (remember those bandits who assassinate you for stepping in the wrong valley?). It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy, only with fewer aliens and more dark alleys to get murdered in. Its economy is based on slavery, smuggling, and piracy. And trade, somewhere in there. It has four major and nine minor Pirate Lords who each get a percent of the nation's take, so apparently they're Socialist pirates? They can't be bothered to give a shit about religion, since they're so busy slaving and being dicks. That's probably a good thing; at least they don't practice any overt human sacrifice. See? A silver lining!
Anyway, the people of Dechat are
all assholes, "untrustworthy and sadistic hedonists who love treachery and seek corruption." There's basically no legal system other than what wealth and influence can purchase; everyone's on their own, and they know it. Oh, and ship owners' word is absolute law on board their vessels, so they can kill the whole crew if they want without punishment. So um... yeah, it's a chaotic shithole but at least there's no dark gods in play.
Dirillar's a former colony of A'Korchu, the totally-not-Melniboneans who live on sorta-Britain. After winning its independence, it was ruled by a council of Mages-
. This is interesting. Looking back, apart from those crazy artifacts in Caldo, this is about the first the book has acknowledged there's magic floating about in the world. Dwarfs have been mentioned exactly once - again, in Caldo; and monsters a few times (mostly Caldo, again). And there have been a few mentions of shamans, but not in association with magic or spellcasting but Overall other than dark gods and the occasional Melnibonean, there's hasn't been much to indicate this is a fantasy setting as opposed to a pseudo-medieval one. Interesting.
, the council of mages is mostly notable because one of them by the name of Nilgeranthrib killed the other ones and ruled until he was deposed. He's still liching around somewhere, if I remember the Tower of the Dead mega-adventure, so it's pretty neat to put him in context. Anyway, he ruled until the Fomorians (them again) ousted him after a big civil war. And because of all that nonsense, Dirillar hasn't gotten over the hate and fear of magic in all forms. That's really their defining character trait - hatred and fear of the supernatural. Oh, and they want to make money, I guess, but mostly they hate magic.
They're the best blockade runners out there, since nearby A'korchu still wants to crush them to dust and tends to post ships to destroy their vessels. These blockade runners often become the Duke, because they're awesome.
You see, Dirillar is ruled by a Council of Thirteen, usually merchants, elected to eight-year terms. And a Duke, elected for life. In peace, the Duke has basically no power. In times of war, though, his power is absolute. They hold orderly elections, kind of, and any citizen can vote for a silver coin. (A hefty amount, for what it's worth; it notes that the candidates often buy quite a lot of votes.) Outside of this, their legal system tends to be weak, so most disputes are handled personally in duels. Or by vigilantes, which is kind of awesome and sounds like a fun campaign idea.
4.3.4 The Djakschil
There is nothing interesting about the Djakschil. Seriously, it's just a pair of barbarian clans in not-Siberia who mostly keep to themselves. The book doesn't even try to make them sound interesting.
Djanesborg is totally--not-Denmark. Because it's also kind of Scotland. They were once barbarians living in the now-dead Empire del Nord, who got themselves all civilized after the Empire fell. They were ruled by a series of Dukes, until one was assassinated by a A'Korchu
puppet. The Djanes took their land back from the Korchu, only to be invaded like
three hundred fucking years later
in revenge. (Don't make A'korchu mad, in other words.) This war continued for years, until the Djanes enlisted help from our favorite Mary Sues of Caldo, including the Dagger of Caldo himself. Since then, they've been firm enemies of A'korchu, as basically everyone else is. They went so far as to establish a major colony on Not-Ireland to keep pressure on their foes from both sides.
It should be noted that the Djanes now are basically Vikings. It even says so in the book. Their chief god is Odin, but other Norse gods are worshipped quite a bit, too. They're obstinate, but loyal, and also
utterly terrible to women
, continuing in the general misogyny of the setting. This is what passes for philosophy in Djanesborg:
“Women are a warm fire, bringing pleasure to a cold and joyless night. A good lord or loyal sword-brother is food for a hungry soul. Fire is a comfort that may come or go, but will surely come again. Food is a need that powers the soul and gives meaning to life.”
...That's the Viking version of "Bros before Hos." Women are only protected by the fact that their man basically owns them. But ... um ... if a man "takes" a woman they are honor bound to provide and protect for her. So, Djanish women, don't worry! If you're not married and you're "taken" by an awesome Djanish man, the "taker" has to pretty much marry you, you lucky gal, you! (Foreign women and harlots don't count, fyi, and can presumably be "taken" at will.)
What puzzle me here is that this is (at least, as I understand it, and my understanding may be flawed) substantially
than actual Viking women had it, what with shieldmaidens, valkyries, Sif, etc. So the typical, "versimiltude! realism! history wasn't nice!" defenses doesn't even work. Blargh, too depressing. Let's move on.
So with that bit of pleasantness left behind, we get to the utter peach that is Donara. Donara's kind of a totally-not-Italy. They're led by a Don who is supported by a council of Dukes. Those Dukes tend to have, in the balance of things, more power than the Don ... if you remember last post, the Duke of Pelara (a Donaran Principality) more or less owns the entire small nation of Chiros. Welp, he's basically in the driver's seat in Donara, too, unsurprisingly.
The history of Donara has a lot of small-scale conflict intermixed with amazing displays of sociopathy. I'll let the book tell this story because damn...
Under Don III (149
because fuck consistent calendars, that's why
) Donara committed itself to the destruction of Salaq. In the early years of his reign he took lands to the north, meeting little resistance. Emboldened by this, he invaded Salaq in force. The war that followed (963 - 980) was a bloody stalemate until Don’s own error (980) led to the rout of his army. After this debacle he was forced to sue for peace. It was granted when Don journeyed, alone and unarmed (in the robes of a penitent), to the city of Salaq and promised its king that he would never attack again. Don III’s pride was shattered by this humiliation. In the year 989, an old and bitter man, he committed suicide.
The reign of Don IV (989 - 1014) saw the defeat of Salaq through conniving and treachery. In the “Rape of Salaq” more than 60,000 Salaqi, including the entire royal family except for one girl, were killed or enslaved. The remainder of the population lived as exiles or became Donaran serfs. The victory was total and one of the bloodiest incidents in recorded history. On his deathbed, Don IV stated that his greatest accomplishment was the ruin of Salaq, which so successfully avenged his father’s honor.
So anyway, the current Duke of Salaq is a ball-less puppet of the Don, but his son for some reason is helping the "Star Society" rebellion. Like he's unhappy with the Donarans or something; can't guess why.
Anyway, in part because of this, Caldo more or less (correctly) thinks Donara's full of amoral idiots. Donara's tried to conquer them a few times, but no dice so far. (Caldo doesn't invade them because Mary Sues don't do that.)
As for personality and religion, Donara's basically an amalgamation of a bunch of different subjugated cultures. The Donarans themselves worship Lawful gods of War like Ashur. Other areas differ. But the book notes that
Donarans aren't sociopaths. Don IV certainly was, as is the current Duke of Pelara, but the majority (while still kinda violent) are rather honorable and moral. It's an incredibly rich country, and that wealth has actually filtered down to the citizenry (except, of course, for Salaq). To their credit, they only punish criminals who confess their crimes. But with one step forward and two steps back, they torture confessions out of accused people. This is supposed to be "proportional" to the crime they're accused of, but ... well, you know how that works. Once they're sure you did it, they will continue torturing you until you actually confess. Awesome.
The first adventure for Powers & Perils - the one in the box set, County Mordara - is set in Donara, so it's kind of a natural kick-off point for campaigns. Yay.
...and that's it for D and (by default) E.
Next time, we cover the Fomorian Empire!
F, the Fomorian Empire
Original SA post
POWERS & PERILS 4.4 Culture Book F, the Fomorian Empire
So far, we've seen two kinds of empires. The first one, the Empire of Ced, is basically just a small country dreaming of its days of former glory. The second is the massive and rich Cerulean Empire, mostly contiguous, rich, and enormous. The Fomorian Empire is a third kind - the sort the sun never sets on. Its Kingdoms are scattered all over the map ... and we'll check in on all of them. In addition to the Ten Kingdoms, it has a Principality, which will be another story altogether... It may not be the biggest or most powerful Empire in the Perilous Lands, but it's among the most important and most widespread.
While each of the Kingdoms has something of its own personality, by and large, it's a Lawful nation and most are not altogether terrible neighbors. And most of the Kingdoms share some commonalities, including a shared religion and language; if there's a Common Tongue
(hah, of course there's no common tongue, this is Powers & Perils!)
it's Fomorian. And it's got a neat history, with actual, like,
Less than a thousand years ago, Fomoria was an island subjugated by A'Korchu. The Korchi were huge assholes, like normal, so the Fomorians' chief god, Enki, intervened. See that big lake in the middle of the island? Apparently there's a Spirit there. Enki woke that spirit up, which caused earthquakes and basically killed or drove off all the Korchi. After this, he cloaked the Island in mist for 10 years. He set up a "golden stele" with a code of laws - I'm thinking Hammurabi here - and raised up ten Kings among the natives. A long as they obeyed Enki's laws, they would prosper.
Within two centuries, every King (or I'm guessing their heirs?) had carved out a Kingdom of their own somewhere in the world. And then ... they mostly stopped expanding.
Fomoria proper is a big rocky island with a central lake. Also under its direct rule is a mainland colony, Fort Inan. There's a few large cities - including Fomoria itself - and somehow 730,000 people live on the island. It's got some quirks, as you'd expect... The island's almost impossibly rich, as befits the seat of a globe-spanning empire. One of the sources of its wealth is right in the middle of the lake; see the Island of Mirdan? It's the only known source of ORICHALUM (the book capitalizes it; no idea why). Oh, and see the little blue-green patch right outside the city? This is something called the Fertile Circle, an area of land where 60,000 farmers use advanced irrigation techniques to feed basically the entire island.
It's not just rich, it's powerful, too, with vast armies and the most impressive (though not the largest) fleet in the world. 150 warships (with at least 50 triremes or quadremes), 50 huge troop transports... it's a good thing they're not focused outwards, because they'd be a pretty substantial threat. As it stands, it's more than enough to keep that creepy A'korchu away.
Want to visit Fomoria? Well, be prepared to use the local coinage. And those coins, no surprise, are made (at least in part) of Orichalum. Visitors need to convert all their coinage; failure to do so is a pretty serious crime. So try not to bring your life savings unless you plan on staying for a while.
Fomoria needs that gold and silver, you see, because they make yearly sacrifices to the Spirit of the Lake. Unlike many island nations in the Perilous Lands, this sacrifice is of riches rather than, say,
or something. There's a rumor that well over a million gold is resting at the bottom of the lake now, but every Fomorian knows it's ... well guarded.
Legally, it's pretty damn advanced, all things considered. You see, Fomoria has remembered that this is a fantasy world rather than actually like Europe, so they don't torture. Instead, they rely on evidence gathering backed up by the use of magical interrogation techniques. Mind reading, basically. Yep, it's kinda Big Brothery, but when the alternative is what we've seen so far...
Oh, and the King? Basically an enforced shut-in. He gets to leave the Palace once per year on a pilgrimage to make the above-mentioned sacrifices at the lake. Otherwise, the only people he ever gets to see are his family, other kings, high-ranking military officials, and the high priests of Fomoria's temples. Sounds kinda shitty, really, so let's move on to the second Kingdom!
Aredan is in the far southeast of not-Africa. It's a relatively inoffensive nation, but nearby Shurikal is devoted to wiping them out. It seems what is now Aredan used to be part of Shurikal, and most of the natives were Shurani, so it doesn't seem unreasonable they'd be kind of holding a grudge? Anyway, it's been engaged in this war for centuries. As a result, 2/3 of the inhabitants are female because clearly ... women can't fight or something?
Come on, book.
This is Fantasy Eurasia, not the real thing! If you can fight, you too can live in a Fomorian Kingdom because they need the help.
Otherwise, they get along well with most other Fomorian Kingdoms (especially nearby Ashudan). However, they hate the principality of Port Doman... and more on
in a second.
Ashudan is an archipelago Kingdom off the coast of Aredan, and hence off the coast of not-Africa. It's almost embarrassingly wealthy and secure - kind of a fantasy Dubai - so it's gotten a bit spoiled. They have no major enemies, except Shurikal by proxy and the regional pirates. Their 50+ warships tend to keep them safe enough.
Atler is somewhere around where not-Portugal should be. They're fairly peaceful and inoffensive, but their presence on the penninsula offends A'Korchu. The Korchi have raided Atler on occasion, which has caused strain between them and the very nearby Kingdom of the Islands because ... they're kind of in the way and should maybe do something about all these raiders? They have a paltry 10 warships, and has close ties with nearby Xan.
4.45 The Kingdom of the East
The Kingdom of the East is almost a little sub-Empire; the King even considers Fomoria itself to be kind of irrelevant. They're way off around where not-Malaysia and not-Australia are, so they're pretty well separated from all the other Kingdoms and kind of go their own way. We've heard about them before, in the entry for Chunrey.
The original Kingdom was based on the island with Pildan on it - Hunki Island - but soon expanded to Tyan. They competed for trade with the Lemasans, until Lemasa had enough and did crazy stuff like massacre everyone on Tyan. This was back in the early days of the Empire, back when all the Fomorians still got along, so the collective Empire sent its military might to utterly annihilate Lemasa. It then occupied ten islands and Lemdan on the Island of Lemara itself.
So that's where things stood for 50 years, until the immensely powerful Katai (not-China) decided to start raising the Fomorians' rent. Still flush off their victories, the Kingdom of the East fought back and invaded in turn. That led to the Fomorians conquering a whole stretch of the mainland, around what was then Coasa and is now Ocedan. After a hundred and fifty years of relative peace, they allied with Chunrey to attack Katai; this war ended when Chunrey made peace with Katai without consulting their allies (thus showing some hints of how they play the KoE and Katai against one another).
About two hundred years after the original conquest, the hereditary Duke of Coasa/Ocedan invaded the Kingdom of the East. This didn't go so well for him, and the Fomorian Kingdom ended up with the entire peninsula plus a few more cities. Immediately after this, opportunistic Chunrey invaded the Kingdom, thinking they had their pants around their ankles. This ended predictably - with Chunrey losing more land and the Kingdom growing bigger.
The moral of the story is, "Don't fuck with the Kingdom of the East."
Since then, they've had less luck. They couldn't conquer anyone else, and even a pretty good plan to conquer Lemasa fell apart when their allies reneged. So for about 200 years, it's just been content with its domain.
Now, all isn't sunshine and roses in the Kingdom of the East. Most of its lands have been relatively recent conquests, and as a result only about 20% of its total populace is native Fomorian. Those Fomorians tend to be terribly racist; only Fomorians can be citizens, and non-citizens have a much harsher system of justice. Simply put, they think the natives lack their intelligence, insight, and divine fortune. They'll probably be surprised when an inevitable rebellion breaks out.
The Kingdom of the East has almost no relations with the other Kingdoms. They'd probably be just as happy if the rest of them fell into the ocean at this point.
4.46 The Kingdom of the Islands
The Kingdom of the Islands is almost just an offshoot of mainland Fomoria. It occupies the islands between Fomoria and Atler. Apart from their 60 warships, there's not much to say. Atler resents them because of the aforementioned A'Korchu issues.
Musira occupies the forested coast off the West coast of not-Africa. It's a rather poor Kingdom, and is frequently raided by the nearby tribes, despite ostensibly being at peace with them. They are resentful of the richer Kingdoms. Some radical elements would prefer to revolt; they think they're being kept largely defenseless to make them a more attractive raid target than the richer kingdoms to the north, like Xan. Oh, and they hate/mistrust foreigners.
4.48 Port Doman
So, because Perilous Lands is much like a kinda-sorta real world, you knew eventually we'd run into some ... sensitive ... issues. And, given all the misogyny kind of floating around in the setting, I'll bet you were all wondering how Perilous Lands would deal with serious issues of race and the ugly history of slavery! (I mean, after all, the rulebook lets you buy
) Well, Port Doman provides the first hint of an answer. To the setting's credit, it's at least not intentionally offensive so much as completely oblivious. Like, it knows that bigotry and slavery are
, but it just doesn't reach any conclusions beyond that.
For example, the book over and over again refers to "the blacks" and "whites." Given that it was written in 1983, I think this is kind of normal? Please correct me if I'm wrong. but it's kind of jarring nonetheless. And it has
absolutely no problem
in making adventures that - not even joking here - consist of adventurers killing dark-skinned, jungle-dwelling, spear-wielding, demon-worshipping savages.
...Back to Port Doman, because I'm sure we'll have plenty more opportunities to revisit this topic. Port Doman is around where Ghana should be, but it looks more or less like South Africa during apartheid.
Unlike the rest of the Kingdoms, Port Doman is a principality. It was established first as a trading post but later as something more after a Fomorian General was raised to Princehood after dealing with the local (black-skinned, naturally) barbarians. Once established, they played their enemies against one another by supplying weapons to both sides, until they were the only real force in the area. Gradually, they converted some of the locals to their religions, and enlisted their help in enslaving their fellow tribesmen.
And that's where we are right now. Port Doman has been gradually becoming more and more evil and depraved for centuries, and is one of the chief sources of slaves in the world. Only about a third of the inhabitants are white-skinned Fomorians; the rest are (mostly) native slaves with a handful of not-yet-enslaved natives. But really, they might as well be slaves already because...
The Fomorian justice system applies for non-blacks. Blacks in this land, free or slave, are without rights. A fomorian can do whatever he pleases to them. If his action damages a citizen’s property, he must pay that person damages. Blacks who are found guilty of any crime are enslaved. If they are already a slave, or the crime is major, they are sold outside of Port Doman. The basic status of blacks in this land is only somewhat better than that of a valuable animal.
To their credit, the rest of the Fomorians don't really care much for Port Doman anymore. Two Kingdoms - Aredan and Shestar - are even working to get their charter for self-rule revoked so they can put an end to Port Doman's horrible policies.
So now's a good time to talk about...
Shestar is just slightly down the west coast of not-Africa from Port Doman. They didn't start out much better than Port Doman is now; they made an agreement with the then-dominant Nylasi Empire (the same Empire Port Doman helped tear itself apart). After the Empire's fall, Shestar gleefully annihilated a bunch of natives and took their land to expand 1further. They still want to expand, but they've found a bit of enlightenment since those days and pretty much feel just
about all that murder.
They are currently good allies with the nations surrounding them, and both Fomorians and natives expect equal treatment under the law. So that's better at least? Also, they hate Port Doman and wouldn't mind maybe annexing it.
Vahear is off (and actually on) the East coast of not-Africa. They're pretty horrible, usually, both "arrogant and hedonistic." They're stuck between two big powerhouses - the Cerulean Empire (who we've seen) and the Rogizini Empire (not yet). Both kinda sorta want Vahear's island for themselves and the Fomorians out of their back yard. They also are best buddies with the Lemasans, because see that Olphar bit on the map on not-Africa's mainland? That used to be a Lemasan colony. Those pirate dickheads in Dechat are also not big fans, because the Vahearans more or less curb-stomp any of their pirate craft who come within their range.
You see, Vahear may be disliked and hard to deal with, but their fleet of 120 warships (40 of which or more are ships of the line) make them a bit hard to ignore. Also, they're allied with Bhamotin, Teos, and No'mal.
Interestingly, there's a note stuck in near the end:
NOTE: In the near future a war may break out. The participants will be Vahear, Bhamotin, the Rizeela, No’mal and the Bal’sani, on one side, and the Rogizini Empire, the Cerulean Empire and Dechat on the other. (The main battlefields in the war are likely to be Dechat, Olphar, Bhamotin and the seas.)
So, kinda neat. It gives you plot hooks.
...and we round up our tour of Fomria with Xan. Xan's a bit of a weird Kingdom with no clear parallel. While on our world, the Straits of Gibraltar link the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean, the country of Xan is stuck in between the Sea of Tears and the Endless Ocean. Unsurprisingly, its chief industries are Trade (since they have access to both the Sea and the Ocean) and mining (because mountains, duh).
Because they are in good position to piss off both the demon-worshipping Climans and the demon-worshipping A'Korchi, they are a very militaristic and aggressive Kingdom. They don't seem to mind slavery, though, since slaves are a big sign of status. They're an extremely powerful Kingdom, second only to Fomoria proper, and are closely tied with all the other nearby Kingdoms except Musira. Who, we noted earlier, resents Xan's wealth.
So... that's Fomoria. With one more exception. Because this is Powers and Fucking Perils, we need
Consult this simple chart to determine what one Fomorian Kingdom thinks of another one, and how likely they are to come to their aid!
Don't ask me if you read across or down. I dunno.
Whew. We're done.