Apprentice PDFs

By popular request, I’ve created PDF versions of Apprentice 0.70. I will update these periodically with the newest version. They are not all fully bookmarked, and I went with expediency over formatting. They should still be very useful if you want to play off-line. There are a total of 231 pages, so I can’t say I’d recommend printing them all right now.

Player’s Handbook
Narrator’s Guide
Spell Tome
Advanced Player’s Handbook

I am not updating these with our “live” playtesting changes. I’ll periodically update to the newest version of Apprentice, while keeping this version of the PDFs available.

Antholojam is live!

I said it all in a single tweet, so I’ll just share that here:

Sentia Arena Kickstarter Update

I just submitted the final order to the printer, and we have our postcards ready to send out tomorrow!

Everyone should receive shipping tracking emails once they begin shipping from the printer.

T-shirts will be a while still. They have to come from a separate printer to us, who then have to package and send out the individual shirts.

Having submitted the order gives a certain finality I wasn’t expecting. I’m so happy that you all helped me realize Sentia Arena in a very real and physical way.

Thank you!

-Daniel Richmond

DevLog #26

he final PDFs should have been received today. If you have any problems, please let me know.

We are going to send orders to the printer this week. You have 48 hours to change your mailing address, so make sure to double check your responses here on Kickstarter.

Since we finalized the limited edition cards from the Ultimate Sentia Arena Box, here is a preview of the Facestealer Boss card:

Final Facestealer card.

DevLog #25

Been focusing on Psychic for Apprentice mostly, so I wanted to show off the draft of a psionic power that the Psychic can learn, or anyone can pick up by putting points in the skill Psionics.

Name Type Base Effect
Psyblade Conjurer You can summon a psyweapon in the shape of any weapon you are proficient in as a swift action. This has all the same stats as the base weapon but deals force damage. Your psyweapon is considered a natural weapon.
Breath 1 Breath 2 Breath 3
Draining. Your psyweapon gains +1 Crit and uses your Intelligence modifier for attack and damage instead of strength or dexterity for the rest of the day. Swift Action. Add 1d6 force damage per level to your next psyweapon strike. Full Action. You summon 1d6 psyblades that float around your head for up to 1 minute. As a standard action, you can toss up to 3 of these blades as separate Ranged Touch attacks that deals 1d6 force damage per level each.

Psyblade is one of the most iconic psionic abilities to me. Our attempt to remake it was a focus on allowing all manor of weapons, including psybows and psygreatswords.

The Breath 3 ability is very interesting to me. For the most part, we’ve avoided “Summon <dice>” on spells and abilities. Rolling poorly always feels bad. In this particular case, we decided to go with it after a great deal of pleading from Robert.

A normal full action level 5 spell(which Breath 3 is equivalent in damage) should do 2d6 per level damage as a single ranged touch, making the 3d6 for a standard action seem really high. However, because this ability uses an additional action to toss the blades, the damage per turn isn’t nearly as high as you would expect.

Not factoring for Breath efficiency, this means it should deal 2d6/level +1d10/level for Full Action/Standard Action. Suddenly the average 3 d6 per level doesn’t seem so high. Now, the difference between d6 and d10(two dice types) can be used to make up the efficiency of the power. That is an average damage that is high for 3 Breath, at the cost of actions. And the chance to get 6 blades is the same as getting 1 blade, making the random number of blades a risk, but remember that any roll above a 2 is “normal” damage for a Breath 3 attack.

DevLog #25

All of our Kickstarter backers should have gotten their Sentia Arena PDFs for all but the Limited Edition cards yesterday. Let me know on Twitter (@ryringames) if you had problems with the files.

Lately been working on Apprentice, adding a class that has been requested many times: a psionic psychic.

Our first decision was to use our Breath mechanic. Basically, Breath is the power from within the caster’s own spirit/body that regenerates during a short rest. Ninjas have been using it for their ninjutsu for a long time now, and we recently added the Soul Keeper who uses breath to activate their soul abilities. Since psychics don’t use magic from gods, spirits or dragon blood, they were a good candidate for breath mechanic as well.

So we have resource. But how do we make it feel like a psychic? I mean, a pyrokinetic can summon flames, sure, but they can also spend extra power to make their flame control even more spectacular. This is often seen in media like movies, TV shows, and books. In 3.5 D&D, psionic abilities scaled with the number of power points spent.

Our current design to fit this goal is that each psionic ability learned is actually 4 abilities in one.

Name Type Base Effect
Pyrokinesis Conjurer You summon flames with your mind that deal 1d4 per odd level fire damage as a ranged touch and causes them to Burn(take 1 fire damage per level that ignores non-typed DR each round) for 2 rounds.
Breath 1 Breath 2 Breath 3
The flames instead deal 1d6 per level and the burn lasts 5 rounds. The flames become an inferno. Instead of ranged touch, it is Reflex 1/2 damage in a 20ft burst. Deals 1d6 per level fire damage. Targets who failed their save are also burned for 5 rounds. Barely controlable flames extend out from you, striking every enemy within 60ft as a ranged touch. Deals 1d8 per level fire damage and burns them for 5 rounds.

In this example, a pyrokinetic can summon flames to attack foes as many times per day as they want. However, they can put more of their personal power(Breath) into their pyrokinesis for more powerful effects. A level 1 Psychic only has 3 Breath, and a level 10 only has 12 breath. So don’t expect them to be able to use their dramatic Breath 3 abilities every round.

Another design hurdle was all of the non-combat abilities a psychic might have like Psychometry. Why would you use the at-will version of psychometry if you could use the 3 Breath version and just take a 5-minute rest afterwards to gain it all back? So we added “Draining” to some of the abilities. Like Auras on the ninja, this reduces their total Breath for the day.

Psionics/Psychic is still in a very early stage of development. I really enjoy the design we have for it so far mechanically.

Because 420+ spells just wasn’t enough.

DevLog #24

As progress continues on Cave of the Goblin King and the Sentia Arena Kickstarter fulfillment, I wanted to take a moment to do a design discussion on a potentially game breaking ability: Telepathy.

Telepathy falls under the same category as Teleportation, Flight, Detect Alignment, Zone of Truth, and many other game breaking abilities. I say “game breaking” not because they are statistically too powerful. They are game breaking because they bypass certain parts of the game experience. Note that this isn’t automatically a bad thing.

Flight bypasses land-based units, traps, and many obstacles such as chasms and rivers. A single ability bypasses what would normally prove to be a complex problem for the party. So we have to be careful about our flight abilities. I’m not saying we have struck a perfect balance right now for flight, but we are very conscious about adding new ways for PCs to fly.

But back to Telepathy. Telepathy bypasses the need of subterfuge and the difficulties discussing plans when there are enemies around, or the party is trying to be sneaky. Message was much like this for a while in our system, until we realized it was less a cell phone as much as it was “We can talk OOC about our plans with no repercussions.” Message(a level 0 spell, no less) now requires you to speak aloud, more akin to a cell phone. But Telepathy is different. Players want mind-to-mind two way communication. Much like flight, it is cool.

Flight is partially balanced by the risks involved. If you are stunned or immobilized while in the air non-magically, you can fall. If you are flying magically and are hit with a dispel magic, you fall. There was nothing inherently risky about telepathy.

So we added a risk. We had a Psionics skill that granted short ranged telepathy and dealt with psionics and breath abilities(like ninja who use the same style “use my mental/physical fortitude to do spectacular things”). We simply added the ability to eavesdrop in on telepathy. If you are trained in Psionics and suspect someone nearby is using telepathy, you can reach out with your mind and attempt to pick up the psychic wavelengths they are talking on.

Here is the full Psionics skill listing as of 2/6 (which can be found in the skill document of Version 0.7)

Psionics(Intelligence)
Your study of psionics or ninjutsu are beyond compare. Study of psionics is rare in most countries that do not practice ninjutsu or psionics.

Telepathy: At three ranks, you gain Telepathy out to 5ft. Distance increases by 5ft for every 3 ranks after that.

Overhear Telepathy: If you discover someone around you is using telepathy to communicate, you can make a Psionics check with the DC shown below to be able to overhear their conversation. Succeeding on this check allows you to hear them speak as if they were speaking audibly.

Source Psionics DC
Psionics Skill Opposing Psionics check
Spell Spell DC
Monster Monster Will save

Breath: For every four ranks, you gain +1 Breath if you already have Breath.

Identify Technique: As an immediate interrupt, you can make a Psionics check to know what psionic or breath ability is being cast. An DC(8) tells the element or school of the ability, a DC(13) tells the name of the ability, and a DC(18) tells the details of the ability and allows you to counter a technique with a DC(18) Spellcraft check.

Monsters who are psychically trained can likewise attempt to eavesdrop with a Will save(monsters do not have skills and instead use the appropriate save in place of it). Knowing this risk(along with limiting size or duration) can go a long way to tempering the player’s willingness to rely on telepathy to discuss murdering the king in his presence.

DevLog #23

Cave of the Goblin King(CotGK) is pretty close to a “minimum viable product” stage. I mastered AI movement by spending hours researching online…then realizing I could do it with really simple code using a grid.

I’m afraid I’m not ready to share screencaps yet. It is literally two icons moving around a white grid. I’m trying not to spend too much time on details right now, but focusing on getting a working prototype.

Apprentice received another focus testing for some new spells. Here is the 1st draft of one of the spells:

Dark Vessel: You gain a shield against all damage equal to 4 per level. When the spell ends or is broken, make a ranged touch attack as a immediate reaction towards a foe that deals 4 per level minus any remaining shield.

As you can see, at this point, we don’t have any spell level or classes chosen. That will change the number of the shield and the resulting attack. I’m waffling between it being Abjuration(spell school focused on shields/etc) or Necromancy(Life/Death). I’m leaning towards Abjuration, because that school has very few(if any) ways to deal damage, and this is a good way to do it that fits the theme of the school.

Another important thing to consider is the amount. We currently have protection spells that negate specific types of damage(typically in one of three groups: spells, elements, or weapons). This spell protects against them all and has a cool effect, so it would need to protect much less than a shield of the same level.

Here is one of the level 3 protection spells:

Protection from Energy
Abjuration – Level 3 – Arcane, Druid, Priest, Paladin, Shaman, Weaver
Shields target for 10 HP/level against of two types of energy for 1 hour.

So if I made Dark Vessel a level 3 spell, I’d be tempted to start at 5 HP/level. It is potentially a bit stronger, since it CAN deal the same amount of damage and blocks all damage instead of two energy types, but Dark Vessel would only last 5 rounds (meaning it’d take a combat action rather than out of combat action). And if you are not damaged for those 5 rounds, the spell is wasted, while the Protection from Energy will continue on for an hour.

DevLog #22

Today was mostly spent on Apprentice. We have finally went through and polished up Rituals. Basically, when we were going over the 3.5 SRD spell lists, any spell that seemed to lack any combat oriented ability was tossed into a document called Rituals. I set up some primary rules for how they might work, but they basically sat in that document for almost two years virtually untouched.

This week I’ve spent a lot of time weeding out bad rituals, adding new ones, and generally focusing on refining the experience. If you are curious, you can check out the document in our 0.7 folder here(Dropbox link).

A lot of my design around rituals is informed by my over a decade DMing. I’ve limited game breaking things like Scrying, or long-range teleportation.

Many tracking rituals like Scrying now require a “tag-lock.” This is a type of focus that has to be tied to a specific target. It can be hair, blood, truename, or an object held dear to them. You might be able to track down the Lich with his phylactery, but you need one of these valuable pieces first. A knife a murderer used won’t be enough to track down the murderer immediately and ruin the adventure.

Rituals don’t come without a cost. Learning a ritual can cost as much as 75% of an equivalent level item. And actually using the ritual can either require a reusable Focus worth 12.5% of a magic item, or 1-time use components worth 2.5% of that item level’s worth.

Example: A level 1 ritual costs 45g to learn. Below are two level 1 rituals:

 

Locate Object or Creature

 

Senses the direction and distance towards an object or creature within 30 miles.

Focus: Tag-lock.

Focus: Silver compass worth 5g.

Magic Mouth Leave a message with a condition to activate. When activated, the message is spoken aloud. Can be triggered multiple times. Lasts 1 week. Component: Small silver horn worth 1g

As you can see, “Locate Object or Creature” uses a compass and tag-lock that can be used over and over again, while Magic Mouth requires multiple silver horns if you plan on casting it a lot.

This is something that I loved in 3.5 spells thematically that worked atrociously mechanically. Fireball required “A tiny ball of bat guano and sulfur.” which was thematically cool…but then you realized that your level 20 wizard had to carry around pounds of guano and smelled constantly, suddenly the material component thing didn’t seem so great.

We got rid of material components. There is no 5g “Spell component pouch” that had infinite quantities of guano in them. You can cast your Fireball as long as you have the spell slots (and free hand if your class uses somatic components).

Rituals seemed like the place to bring these back. The cost associated with components also helps limit rituals from being overused. The costs are not huge(2.5% if it’s your level), but they are there. I’ve also tried to have some overlap when possible (multiple rituals use magic chalk) and keep the items typically small(lots of charms and figurines) to keep a heavy ritual caster from being overburdened with too much stuff.

And if you want to be a lazy ritualist, just make sure to keep some diamond powder handy and spend some time with the Minor Creation ritual:

Minor Creation

 

Create one object up to 1 cubic feet per level.

Component: Diamond powder worth the cost of the created object.

We did it!

dancingRebaWe made it to 131% on our Sentia Arena Kickstarter!

Thank you everyone for your support!

-Daniel Richmond