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Big announcement about the Jolrhos Field Guide.  I've gotten it about 90% rough writing done, and should have the first pass complete by the end of April.  There will be a lot of work to do after that, but I'm hoping for a Fall release.

 

However, the big news is that I'm working with someone to do a kickstarter for the book.  If this goes through I'll be able to reach a broader audience and maybe even get a nice painted cover from a major artist.  Hopefully with enough funding I can put out a version for Savage Worlds and even D&D.  I don't want to get ahead of myself, but keep an eye out for more news.

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How to pronounce Jolrhos is largely up to you but I pronounce it like this:

"Jall-hrosse"  (like the -ose in sugrose and jall like "ball").  The name came about by scrambling letters of me and my brother's first to names when we created our game worlds.  He got some of the letters, I got the rest, and we made them into words :)

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How to pronounce Jolrhos is largely up to you but I pronounce it like this:

"Jall-hrosse"  (like the -ose in sugrose and jall like "ball").  The name came about by scrambling letters of me and my brother's first to names when we created our game worlds.  He got some of the letters, I got the rest, and we made them into words :)

Oh, sure, that makes perfect sense. I don't know why I didn't come up with that myself.

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Tombsand: No one is sure what causes this strange mineral to form, although many suspect dark magic being used in an area can create it.  Tombsand appears to be made up of tiny human-like skulls, each a centimeter or less across.  Beds of this sand can be found, bone white, d6 meters across.  The borders are usually darker as if the sand and dirt nearby blackened.  Any snow or hail that lands on Tombsand melts immediately.

 

Tombsand kills any plants that it encounters.  Animals find it uncomfortable and disturbing, and will avoid it as well, creating a void of any life on the sand.  Each kilo of Tombsand (roughly a liter) will do a 1d6 AVAD (does body) killing attack that only affects plants.  The damage is dealt in 3 increments 5 hours apart, so its not very useful in combat, but simply displaying Tombsand is a +2d6 bonus to presence attacks against plant-based creatures, assuming they have any mind or ability to recognize the stuff.  Casting any Necromantic spell standing on a patch of Tombsand grants a +1 magic skill roll and reduces the Body cost by 1 (minimum still 1).  Tombsand sells for d6 silver per liter, and 10d6 liters may be discovered in any one patch.

 

However, carrying Tombsand is very disturbing and uncomfortable, causing a loss of 5 points defense against presence attacks (whether presence or ego is used), and gives nightmares to all within 4 meters which halves healing of Long Term Endurance and Mana.

 

Tombsand is found only on beaches, deserts, and open, dry plains areas, of any climate.

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There is no four-season regularity in Jolrhos; no winter, no summer.  The planet has a very peculiar rotation and orbit around the sun, resulting in no regular patterns of weather.  In fact, it can be summer one day, week, or month, and winter another.

 

As a result, there is no predictable, easily anticipated pattern of weather and climate.  However, like sailors at sea, people are ready to accept this, as they are in places in on Earth where the weather can be very unpredictable.

 

In practical terms, this means that characters can expect to see just about any kind of weather in just about any sort of area, rather than planning on certain climate.

 

Complicating matters, however, is magic.  Some areas are protected by long-established, ancient elven magic and other effects so that they tend to reduce and minimize extreme weather and significant changes.  Most of the country of Morien, for instance, is shielded by magic so that severe swings in weather and extreme storms are rare.  The Wrenlands are protected by Druids and tend to have a single, steady temperate climate.  Other areas in Jolrhos are less protected and can be very wild.

 

What this means is that for most of the people living in Morien, they have a series of growing “seasons” which cycle through with little interruption allowing crops to be gathered regularly and life to function more or less normally, aside from dragons and such.

 

In fact, some extremely magical areas have artificial seasons, periods of growth separated by winter-like conditions, creating a pattern of winter, spring, summer, winter, and so on for growth and rest for fields and people.  These periods mimic a year in a matter of a few months, cycling more than once in a single year.

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This is part of the Enchanting section on creating magical items

 

COMPLICATIONS

And finally, magic items often have Complications.  Not ordinary problems, but rather the Hero System method of offsetting points in characters.  Magical items can have Distinctive Appearance: they seem valuable, powerful, and desirable.  That super cool sword you made that has glowing runes?  It looks cool to everyone else, particularly thieves.

 

Some items may have a personality and awareness of their own (particularly those made with very powerful spirits in the “Spirit Binding” spell).  With that can come Psychological Complications. There are other options as well: an item might be cursed with a hunted (things keep showing up to attack the owner), or be particularly vulnerable to a kind of attack.

 

These complications will help offset the total cost of an item, and give the GM something to have fun with in games as well.

 

Complications can be quite significant in point value, often far more than a small item is worth in real points.  As a result, GMs may wish to limit their use to only the greatest items of power or those particularly noteworthy and impressive.  Having a mithril sword will tend to attract thieves and attention, but not any more than any other mithril sword; so the GM may rule that only a particularly impressive and awesome looking one gains Distinctive Appearance.

 

However, since magical items are transitory and can be lost, destroyed, or stolen, GMs may rule that a few complications to offset their experience point cost are reasonable.  Why charge the character permanent points for something that will be lost?  GMs should be very careful about letting characters lower the experience points cost of an item to zero, however.

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In one of the old JRPGs (Dragon Warrior III). There was an item you could acquire called the Golden Claw. As long as it was in your inventory, it doubled your chances of random encounters. Your mention of items with their own Hunted Complications associated with them reminded me of it.

 

I'm not really very fond of the idea of the GM charging characters for equipment (even magical equipment) they find in a campaign that the GM is going to permanently take away. I don't believe a character should ever be docked points due to in-game circumstances, if a character cannot replace the lost item they paid for, they should get the points they spent back. That is one of the reasons I like Resource Points so much, they strike a nice balance between the Heroic and Superheroic rules for equipment.

 

I do really like the idea of attaching Complications to Equipment though (regardless of whether or not players are actually paying for said equipment with CP).

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Part of the philosophy behind enchanting in the Field Guide is that points are never taken away permanently.  You can lose some points for a time, in the context of an adventure but always either get them back or replaced with something equivalent.  Using points to make a magic item (one of several ways given) is a method of controlling their introduction into the game and giving them a special feeling - this cost something!  rather than a cost in Hero terms.

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That makes sense, and temporary CP losses/investments seem like a reasonable meta-cost. For in-world cost the most appropriate system that I can think of is to require special material components you can control the availability of.

 

I am rather fond of the "Alternate Magical Item Creation" rules from Fantasy Hero (which are the same in both the 5th and 6th edition versions of the book) for enforcing a meta-cost for producing magical items in campaigns where such things don't normally cost CP to own. But I've never really had a chance to play-test their impact on a campaign.

My current line of thinking on wondrous items (which I employed in the creation of the Necromancer in the Downloads section), is that paying CP for a wondrous item generally gives the character the 'right' to make or acquire replacements of it*. If they choose not to replace it, they sell it off and get the CP back. If they choose to make extras for their allies, or an enemy steals and keeps it, the ally/enemy must pay CP for it too. The in-game explanation for the cost might be that you must invest a certain amount of time/energy in a wondrous item to bond with it and unlock its abilities or learn how it works (this is especially appropriate for items that 'choose their owners' or have 'mental command words' that only the item itself can teach you).

*Sort of like how Captain Cold in the Flash TV Show stole his freeze-gun, but learned how to repair/rebuild it if the original is damaged or destroyed.

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Of the various tradeskills (professional skills) presented and detailed in the Field Guide, I'm considering adding cooking/baking.  The idea is that it would allow characters to create food with magical benefits and bonuses as well as travel rations etc.  But that is an added layer of complexity to the game and travel I'm not sure I want to bother with.  It wouldn't be hard to do, given the template I've created for the others, I'm just not convinced players and GMs care that much about it or want to bother with it.

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Of the various tradeskills (professional skills) presented and detailed in the Field Guide, I'm considering adding cooking/baking.  The idea is that it would allow characters to create food with magical benefits and bonuses as well as travel rations etc.  But that is an added layer of complexity to the game and travel I'm not sure I want to bother with.  It wouldn't be hard to do, given the template I've created for the others, I'm just not convinced players and GMs care that much about it or want to bother with it.

I like the idea of magical food. While not every GM would use it, it feels like a really nice element to add depth to a setting. The Kingdom of Grischun (FHC's included Setting) makes mention of Makers (artisan-spellcasters) who Make magical food and drink. It even includes a few examples, such as Sweet Beer​ (Healing END), and Waybread ​(LS: Does Not Eat for 1 Day). Briefly my wife worked on a campaign idea that involved the party investigating an island with magically altered plants whose berries were mutating the local animals.

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I think I'll put it in, a short section, because there's so much in the world to take advantage of while traveling it makes sense to be at least there for GMs and players to take advantage of if they want.  I'll need to expand the environmental hazards section to specify food and drink use so a simple, easy to track method is in place.

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Eygen:

 

While the Eygen butterfly is a pretty sight in yellow, green, and black, it is the chrysalis stage of the insect which is the most useful.  Eygen caterpillars will eat minerals as well as plant matter, and transform this into minute amounts of adamantine which are then spun into their chrysalis form.  

 

These can then be harvested for the bright metallic cases once the insect hatches into a full butterfly, gathering 1/10th an ingot of adamantine in its base form, able to be heated and shaped before solidifying into incredible hardness.  As adamantine is extremely difficult to make, this natural source is highly sought after.

 

Unfortunately, they do not thrive in captivity and are extremely difficult to domesticize, and the shed chrysalis only will survive a few days before crumbling to dust.  They can be found hanging under branches and rock ledges in small numbers.

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For unique gems in Jolrhos I went to old Biblical translations and found the names for jewels used by Hebrews thousands of years ago most of which nobody can identify or knows to this day.  Gems are innately magical in the game world, and can greatly assist in enchanting (which is why magical items are so often crusted with gems).  Some even glow slightly in the dark, an idea I got from Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories.

 

ChodChod: A precious gem of two colors, always blue and white.  The blue section is rich and deep blue and transparent with bright refraction and great beauty.  It is bisected with a white section of almost quartz-like opaque crystal that is of dazzling beauty, embedded into the gem with a profile like trees or spires jutting up into the blue.
 
ChodChod has the innate property of granting +1 to constitution rolls and +1 to any defense used against a poison attack (rPD, power defense, etc).

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A sample food from the Cooking section:
 

Craft Raptor Omelet
Description: A fluffy folded confection of eggs, cheese, and vegetables that feeds a crowd.  Each gains ½ End Cost to running up to 20m and leaping up to 14m.
Success: Creates a Dinner type food (spoils within 2 days of ordinary travel)
Cost: 7 copper
Components: Giant Raptor egg, Yale cheese, Onions, Peppers, Charcoal heat, Fine Cooking Tools
Time: 1 hour
Roll: -3

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The cost is per batch, but its only for the work not the parts.  Cost is for time, maintainance, etc.  The real cost comes in obtaining the ingredients.

 

I broke down types of food into categories
Snack: enough for one part of a meal

Meal: enough for one entire meal

Hearty Meal: enough for one day's food/drink (they start getting to be enchanted at this point)

Dinner: enough for one meal for up to six people

Banquet: enough for one day's food/drink for six people

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You could call it a "Group Meal" instead of a "Dinner" then, since the latter term defines when the meal is served, not how many​ it serves. Group Meal is sort of generic I'll grant you, but categories tend to be like that so I don't think it has to be overly flowery.

 

Banquet also has evening-time connotations, but less strongly, maybe you could use "Hearty Group Meal" instead. Which is also is less flavorful, but follows the convention established by the previous entries that "Hearty" means "Enough For All Day" and "Group" means "Serves Up To Six".

 

That would leave you with Snack, Meal, Hearty Meal, Group Meal, and Hearty Group Meal as categories.

 

I wouldn't go so far as to suggest breaking down snacks into "Hearty" and "Group" categories though, because the lowest category for "magical food" is the Hearty Meal, so players won't really care about Snacks and Meals as long as they aren't literally starving.

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I'm kinda iffy on the Snack category, I want something that minor, but Its sort of meaningless as is.  What else do you need to eat to make it part of this nutritious meal?  It only makes sense as a useful food if it has enchantment.  Like, potato chips you eat along with your rations that gives you +1 PD.  Because if it provides no other bonus, its meaningless.

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Most "Snacks" should simply be considered a fraction of a meal (such as 1/2 or 1/3 of a Meal). I think they'd generally only be important when you need to eat now, but for whatever reason don't have time or ability to prepare a full meal (such as before battle, or in a dungeon). Snacks packed by adventurers would usually be preserved or otherwise long-lasting, and require little to no effort to go from stowed to edible. Tactically though, the only time players will care about them is if they provide some kind short term benefit (such as +1 REC for 1 Hour after consumption). However at the same time, you have to be sure that whatever short term benefits Snacks provide is outweighed (and doesn't stack with) the longer-term benefits of full Meals. Otherwise your PCs will subsist on "Junk-food" and shun taking the time to prepare full meals or gorge themselves for "maximum power".

 

Of course all this talk of meal categories and fractions of a meal are kind of overboard considering that the Hero System doesn't really have detailed rules for eating, drinking, and starvation. So ideally any Campaign covering food in enough detail to make such distinctions worthwhile will also need some optional rules for Nutrition and Starvation  the GM can use to up the grittiness of the campaign and justify having a robust nutrition and starvation resolution system.

 

Personally, I really like it when a fantasy story deals with the necessity of food and drink appropriately. Examples of such stories that come to mind are The Hobbit, Drowtales (http://www.drowtales.com/), and Dungeon Meshi (http://www.readmanga.eu/manga/42398/Dungeon-Meshi).

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I like those categories better than the ones I was using, I'll have to shift some things around to use them instead.  And throw you some credit :)

 

Working on Armorsmithing again, I had it all done then did some more research.  I'm trying to keep things as real and historically valid as possible (no "studded leather" armor).  I've contacted David Baker (historic weapons recreation specialist, on Forged in Fire and other shows) trying to get a better grasp on smithing and weapon types but he's reticent to answer some random jobu's mail.

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