Archive for January, 2015

Hearts and Hooves

January 31, 2015

I’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic lately…

Like many tabletop gamers, my introduction to RPGs came from Dungeons & Dragons. More specifically, I came to the game with Basic D&D, using the black “board game” starter set, before transitioning to the Rules Cyclopedia.

From there, I eventually made the jump to AD&D 2nd Edition, and in many ways I never really moved on from there. I say that fondly, as I consider 2E to have been the game’s high point when it comes to setting development. Never before nor since has D&D made so many worlds, or developed them so richly (the closest we’ve seen since then is Eberron in Third Edition).

Of course, Second Edition’s mechanics were far less cohesive than those of the subsequent Third Edition. Still, even that was inspirational in a way; less structure meant more freedom in what was presented, and there were some truly inspirational – and bizarre – things to be found across the spectrum of 2E products.

Unfortunately, none of those things included statistics for deities, something which always bothered me. I’ve always looked askance on the idea that statistics for gods are somehow inherently “unbalanced” in D&D, mostly because nobody can seem to come to a consensus what “balance” means anyway (let alone find a way to measure it). Likewise, cries of “but that promotes munchkin-levels of optimization!” are also poor excuses to me – the min-maxers are going to do what they do, regardless of what they have to draw upon.

It also seemed particularly unfair, given that every other edition of D&D has stats for gods. After all, Basic has its Immortals, First Edition and Third Edition have their respective Deities and Demigods books (which are basically divine monster supplements), and even Fourth Edition had stat blocks for gods in various supplements and adventures. Only in Second Edition were we told “gods are beyond stats. Sorry.”

The irony was that, it would be well into the life of Third Edition before I found out that a third-party company named Wizards of the Coast put out a sourcebook designed specifically to address this very deficiency: The Primal Order.

Presenting a universal set of rules with appendices covering their specific implementation in well over a dozen different RPGs – something they called the “capstone system” – The Primal Order remains one of the best (if not the very best) book about how to make gods a natural, tightly-integrated part of your campaign. The insights it presents, and the rules that back them up, are required reading for any GM that wants to make their deities be active, dynamic facets of the game world.

Once I found out about this book, I had to acquire it. Having picked up a used copy of the first printing (the book has since become available for download and print-on-demand, but that’s only for the second printing, which excised the D&D materials) early last year – as well as all three supplements – I’m able to create stats for gods using the AD&D Second Edition rules at last. They may not be “official,” but for me they’re close enough.

As such, since I’ve recently given myself permission to post non-Pathfinder-related RPG materials here, I’ve decided that this post will have AD&D 2E stats for a Primal Order-style deity.

Riding in On a Pink Horse

…which brings us to the ponies (apparently I can’t seem to stop referencing this topic).

Though I haven’t mentioned it since I first started making pony-related posts, there’s a(n unofficial) pony sourcebook for Pathfinder called Ponyfinder, released by Silver Games. Even considering my burnout on Pathfinder supplements, I’m quite fond of Ponyfinder, since I find it fascinating how it takes a more grownup view of what ponies would be like if they were from a world with Pathfinder-based monsters and magic.

Moreover, Silver Games hasn’t sat idle since releasing the campaign setting. Several mini-releases have followed, the latest one being Forgotten Gods of Everglow, detailing two “new” deities for the game world.

As such, this struck me as the perfect opportunity to back-convert one of the deities here and give them AD&D 2E/TPO statistics. As such, allow me to present my own version of:

Lashtada, Goddess of Love

On the young world of Everglow, a particular tribe of ponies were the primary worshippers of Lashtada, the goddess of romantic love. While her status as the patron deity of a particular society guaranteed her a stable body of followers, her lack of cross-cultural recognition ultimately proved to be her undoing.

When Queen Iliana formed her great Empire, it was built on several wars that served to unify – or conquer, depending on whom you asked – the diverse pony tribes. Turning her attention to the minor tribe of Lashtada-worshippers, Iliana offered them a place among the ponies of the Empire. Uncomfortable with how she had used strong-arming rather than kind feelings to bring the ponies together, the tribe rebuffed her offer, though they feared the worst in doing so.

Their fears came true, but not in the way that they expected. Tired of war, the Queen surprised many by respecting the tribe’s wishes, leaving them to their own devices without any imperial oversight…or protection.

Iliana’s wars had not only reshaped the structure of pony society on Everglow, but had the secondary effect of taming the wilds, pushing back the primitive humanoids that had theretofore roamed freely. Forced to look elsewhere for prey, gnoll raiders thus caught the Lashtadans completely unaware, wiping out their society virtually overnight.

With her primary worshippers eradicated, Lashtada’s religion quickly faded away completely, and today the Goddess of Love is all but forgotten, with the dark goddess Kara incorporating love into her portfolio of seduction and manipulation. However, things may be about to change…

Lashtada, demigod C20/B10; AC 6 (-4 Dex); MV 9; hp 78; THAC0 8; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2 (hoof); SA primal powers; SD primal powers, immortality; MR 30%; SZ S (3’ tall); ML 14; AL N.

Detect Noise 65%; Hide in Shadows 45%; Move Silently 35%; Read Languages 40%.

Saving Throws: PPD 1; RSW 4; PP 3; BW 6; S 5.

Attributes: S 15; D 19; C 17; I 15; W 20; Ch 18.

Cleric Spells:

7th (x2): restoration, succor.

6th (x5): command monster (PO:SM), find the path, forbiddance, heal, heroes’ feast.

5th (x7): atonement, blessed abundance (ToM), cure critical wounds, consequence (ToM), magic font, quest, true seeing.

4th (x10): cloak of bravery, cure serious wounds, detect lie, free action, imbue with spell ability (x2), neutralize poison, reflecting pool, spell immunity, unfailing endurance (PO:SM).

3rd (x11): create food and water, cure blindness or deafness, cure disease, dispel magic, emotion control (ToM) (x2), glyph of warding (x2), prayer, remove curse, repair injury (PO:SM).

2nd (x11): aid, barkskin, charm person or mammal, detect charm (x2), enthrall (x2), mystic transfer (ToM) (x2), restore strength (PO:SM), withdraw.

1st (x12): bless (x2), blessed watchfulness (PO:SM), cure light wounds, dispel fatigue (PO:SM) (x2), orison (PO:SM), purify food and drink, sacred guardian (ToM) (x2), sanctuary (x2).

Bard Spells:

4th (x1): emotion.

3rd (x2): slow, spirit armor (ToM).

2nd (x3): bind, ESP, Tasha’s uncontrollable hideous laughter.

1st (x3): friends, hypnotism, sleep.

Lashtada’s Primal Base

Source Amount Notes
Miniplanes 200 Lashtada’s current residence
Rank 300 Demigoddess
Spheres -170 Love sphere, cause/dispel love and matchmaking powers
Evolution 2,500 Five hundred years of life
Servitors -250 Has created five servitors
Minions -10 Has created one minion
Total 2,570 Points of Primal Base

Lashtada’s Primal Flux

Source Amount Notes
Base 257 10% of 2,570 primal base
Worshippers 70 These are dead worshippers in her divine realm
Miniplanes 200 Lashtada’s current residence
Consecrated Ground 2 The “Dungeon of Love”
Servitors -25 Primally supporting five servitors
Minions -10 Primally supporting one minion
Priests -1 Primally supporting one level 1 priest
Total 493 Points of Primal Flux

While the previous exposition makes it clear that the above stats use The Primal Order, it’s worth putting that into a practical context.

Specifically, Lashtada is made under the normal rules for AD&D 2E characters (save that I changed what thief skills were available to her as a bard; things like “climb walls” don’t make much sense for a pony), and then has the TPO rules overlain on her stat block. As such, the materials for what powers and limitations Second Edition gods typically have (as laid out in Legends & Lore) don’t apply here. Since Lashtada is using the TPO rules for gods, we’re not applying any other rules.

(Also, for her spells, note that some have parenthetical notations for where they’re printed. ToM denotes the Tome of Magic, while PO:SM is Player’s Option: Spells & Magic).

As it is, the specific implementations of the TPO rules on Lashtada’s stat block are comparatively few. Mainly, they’ve improved her ability scores and her saving throws, as well as given her magic resistance.

Beyond that, the main implementation of The Primal Order is found in calculating her primal base and primal flux, which grant her an extraordinary amount of power, at least compared to mortals (compared to other gods, she’s very much a bit player). Unfortunately, it would take far and away too much space to reprint what can be done with primal energy, so I’ll briefly go over the major aspects below:

Primal blast: Spending 1 point of primal flux allows Lashtada to throw a primal blast, which always hits, allows no saving throw, and overcomes all defenses (except a primal shield, see below), inflicting 10 points of damage. This can be increased by another 10 points of damage for every additional point of primal flux spent, with no upper limit (save for her total primal flux available).

Primal shield: Lashtada can raise a primal shield by spending 1 or more points of primal flux. Each point allows the shield to stop 10 points of damage, or five spell levels (for non-damaging spells) – this is an ablative effect, so if a 1-point shield stops 10 spell levels, it then collapses unless given further primal flux. A primal shield also stops all forms of passive information-gathering spells (e.g. true seeing) without compromising the shield’s integrity.

Spells: Lashtada can cast any spell by silent act of will by spending a number of points of primal flux equal to the spell’s level. This is separate from her personal spellcasting ability (e.g. the spells listed in her stat block) and allows her to use any spell on any spell list, though she must know what the spell is first. Spells cast in this manner always hit, do not allow saving throws, and overcome all non-primal defenses.

Primal Lacing: When casting spells normally (e.g. from her spells listed in her stat block), Lashtada can “lace” a spell with a single point of primal flux. Doing so causes the spell to affect its target(s) without any to-hit roll or saving throw, and overcome all non-primal defenses.

Immortality: Lashtada cannot be slain so long as any of her primal base remains intact. Removing her primal base requires attacking her with primal abilities, or otherwise undermining her divinity (e.g. causing her to lose her demigod status).

Cause/Dispel Love: Lashtada can create or destroy romantic love between two individuals, though doing so requires her to spend 40 primal flux. These feelings are not artificial, as the love between the targeted individuals grows (or decays) naturally over time.

Matchmaking: By spending 30 primal flux, Lashtada can instantly determine whom the perfect romantic partner for a particular individual would be.