Archive for the ‘Mechanics’ Category

Mechanics: Relationship Rolls Revisited

December 6, 2012 2 comments

The 13th Age icon relationship system is one I feel has a lot of potential, but is really too vague to be of significant use to a long term, non-improvised campaign. I’m not the only one to feel this way, but I think I can come up with something a little more in the spirit of the thing than just changing it to work with d20s.

It forces plot points, but not in a way I really feel merits a roll. Surely just stating “I know these guys, they’ll help me out – I have a +2 relationship” would be enough? Not so because 2/3 of the time per dice nothing happens. Those guys forget who you are or aren’t in a position to do anything, in which case it’s a waste of everyone’s time.  In addition, there’s not a whole lot of information on what exactly a conflicted relationship gets you? Does it just mean it can go either way? Why is there no way to determine which way it goes? Why am I asking you when I’m writing this with the intent to come up with my own solutions? Hell if I know, let’s get to it!


Part 1 – What are Icon Rolls?


When you invoke an icon and tell the group why that relationship is going to help you, it should. Assuming you haven’t said something stupid (in which case it’s probably not going to work anyway) you should be met with some result instead of none. Something I greatly respect about the philosophy of 13th Age is the “failing forward” attitude – where a failure shouldn’t just be a dead end. It’s odd then that for some reason there’s really no guidelines on how to apply that to icons, so my solution is – every result is a success, but the number you roll determines complications.

On a general level, positive relationships will get you bonuses, insight or support form the icon or their allies, negative relationships will get you bonuses, insight and support from the icon’s enemies, conflicted relationships could have the potential to get you both. These relationships connect you and your party to the world, and allow you to achieve goals you could not normally achieve through skill alone. The idea behind them is solid and doesn’t need changing, what’s lacking is the execution. So let’s start by seeing what we can do with the rolls first – we’ll deal with the consequences later.


Part 2 – When to Roll and Why


Relationships give you two types of resources – a ‘potential success’ or a ‘banked success’. A potential success is awarded upon an extended rest or a full heal up, and may be rolled at any time during the game – it’s less frequent than “roll at the start of each session” but to be fair you’re getting better results so hear me out. A potential success represents the opportunity to roll your die in order to ‘bank’ the result. Any successes you’ve banked can then be spent during the session at an appropriate time. Usually you just roll for a success, but my version is a bit different:

Option 1: Standard Roll

Bank a potential success.

When invoking a connection with an icon, you roll a certain number of d6es equal to your relationship roll. So far so standard, but the difference her is that the number on the d6 corresponds to the kind of success you can get. The advantage of multiple rolls is not that you get multiple successes, instead you may choose which roll to go with when you spend it, so a high relationship with one gets you lots of options, a low relationship not so much. For example, you may roll a 3 and a 4. When you cash in that success you may choose which number you use. This is in keeping with the idea that icon relationships are about utility, not strength. So you don’t get more successes, you get the ability to choose how you succeed.

Note that it may be simpler for players to decide on a number to keep ahead of time, or they may get a 6 so why take any of the other numbers? That’s totally fine – just ignore the other possibilities and bank the one you want.

Option 2: Combining Rolls

Spend a potential success to pool your relationships with the same icon.

If multiple players have the same kind of relationship with the same icon (ie, both are positive)  they can add their die together (up to a maximum of 3 at any one time or 4 at epic tier) and each contributing player one may use any of the results. Each player spending a potential success may contribute any number of their own die to the pool, so long as the total does not exceed 3 (or again, 4 at epic tier).

Option 3: Altering Rolls

Spend a potential success to make another player’s dissimilar relationship with the same icon closer to your own.

A player may spend a potential success to allow another player to alter the nature of their icon relationship in the direction of their own. So a player with a positive relationship may spend a potential success to turn another player’s negative relationship to conflicted, or a conflicted roll to positive. A conflicted roll may make any other relationship conflicted, while a negative relationship may make a positive one conflicted or a conflicted one negative.

Option 4: Favoured Enemies

Spend a potential success to make an inverse, weakened roll with an opposing icon.

If you have two or more points in a single icon, you probably associate with them well enough to know something about their enemies. Subtract one from your relationship, and invert it’s nature (positive becomes negative and vice versa, conflicted stays the same), then make the resulting roll with one of that icon’s enemies. So a rank 2 positive roll becomes a rank 1 negative roll with someone the icon has a negative relationship with. Conflicted relationships may simply subtract 1 and roll as normal.


Part 3 – The Rolls Themselves


So you’ve managed to bank a success, what does that number get you? Well that depends on the kind of relationship you rolled. Things are straightforward for a positive or negative roll, not so much for a conflicted one. Often, rolls have other consequences associated with them. Any time you cash in a roll, you need to be prepared for the stated consequences, even if you’re just using it to help someone with their roll.

Positive Rolls

Positive rolls are about aid and support – they should get you allies, but might cost you to do so.

  1. Limited Success – Your relationship with the icon can not solve your problem, but it can help. This will get you a cut down version of what you wanted to happen.
  2. Split Success – Your relationship alone cannot solve your problem, you’ll need the aid of another, allied icon to do so. This means you or one of your party members needs to spend a banked success with one of the icon’s allies to get a full result, or you’ll just get a Limited Success.
  3. Costly Success – Your relationship came through for you, but there’s a short term price attached.
  4. Fateful Success – Your relationship came through for you, but one of these days you’ll have to pay up.
  5. Straightforward Success – Your relationship got the job done! Congrats!
  6. Overwhelming Success – You didn’t just succeed, you got something extra – a bonus to your success. This kind of success grants you more than you asked for. It may not be much, but even the goodwill of an icon goes a long way. Think of it like a success plus an additional limited success.

Negative Rolls

Negative rolls are about conflict and spite – they should help you deal with the icon, but might cause retaliation.

  1. Limited Success – Your relationship isn’t helping as much as you hoped. This will get you a cut down version of what you wanted to happen.
  2. Assisted Success – Your relationship alone cannot solve your problem, you’ll need to enlist another of the icon’s enemies to get what you want. This means you or one of your party members needs to spend a banked success with one of the icon’s enemies to get a full result, or you’ll just get a Limited Success.
  3. Alarming Success – Your relationship served you well, but the icon’s forces will redouble their efforts to stop you.
  4. Infuriating Success – Your relationship came through for you, but the icon won’t forget this. They might not strike back today, or the next day, but they’ve got it in for you.
  5. Straightforward Success – Your relationship got the job done! Congrats!
  6. Profitable Success – You didn’t just succeed, you got wind of something extra – a new opportunity to profit off your foe. This kind of success grants you the opportunity to get something special during the process of screwing over your foes. It might take some extra effort but the satisfaction alone will almost certainly be worth it. Think of it like a success with the opportunity to get a second success later – a bigger reward than an overwhelming success, but with a bit more effort.

Conflicted Rolls

Why did I leave conflicted for last? Well conflicted is a wildcard. You don’t just roll a conflicted relationship – it’s too unpredictable for that. Instead you flip a coin first. If it lands on heads, you get a positive result, tales gets you a negative result. You proceed to roll the relationship as normal, and take whatever you get. Conflicted relationships should be unpredictable, but offer up a greater variety of rewards for the more adventurous players.


Part 4 – The Results


This is all well and good but what does this stuff get you? Why would you need to roll an icon result? Well ultimately you can spend relationships wherever you think it’s appropriate in the story, this is often like giving players an envelope full of money, dropping them in a mall and telling them to buy something without opening it. Successes don’t have to be rewarded immediately, and often the icons work through intermediaries, who might be alerted by the players attempts. Ideally, some successes will get help more quickly, but even the complicated ones can be efficient, provided the drawbacks are equally swift. Also note: You don’t ever have to show your hand – the player can cash in a relationship, but if there’s a complication the result might not be immediately obvious. Sure the players know what to expect, but especially with long term consequences, the suspense is in not knowing when to expect it.

If you’re still confused as to what you want your roll to mean, feel free to roll 1d6 to determine exactly what kind of favour you got.

So here are some suggestions for what to spend your banked successes on:

Option 1: Success through experience

You may spend a banked success to reroll a d20 once for each point you have in a relationship, and then take the highest number.

I actually do like Adam Dray’s solution and encourage you to read more about it on his blog. This is fairly self explanatory, the key difference being that here, the consequences are tied to the d6 roll, not the d20 roll. On an overwhelming success you may want to roll another d20, while you might want to roll one fewer on a limited success. If this means you aren’t rolling any extra, give the person the opportunity to take 10 even on a roll they couldn’t normally do that on. Feel free to use this in combat against a named foe for for that climactic finishing blow!

Option 2: Success through equipment

Your connections came through, giving you an icon-appropriate item of equal to or lower than your level.

An overwhelming success might get you something slightly better or more than one of whatever you need. You aren’t going to get super special magic items like this, but extra health potions, adventuring gear, weapons or armour are fair game. Stuff that fits thematically for your icon might be of better quality than generic items. If you cash this in upon arriving at a new area, feel free to throw in a “by the way, I ran into some friendly faces/loyalist scum who gave me this item when I had a friendly conversation with them/pried it from their cold dead limbs”. Use whichever applies.

Option 3: Success through aid

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – you’ve managed to get a shortcut or a distraction necessary for your quest out of one of the icon’s followers.

This is pretty simple – sometimes it’s dangerous to go in unprepared, but if you know a guy (or gal) who can help out, they can pave the way for you, either metaphorically or otherwise. Again, bludgeoning the important information out of a hapless stooge is a perfectly acceptable way to use a negative relationship. This can range from opening a door to paying off a guard – anything a specific person can do to aid you.

Option 4:  Success through favour

It’s a one in a million shot and it’d be great for someone to tip the odds in your favour.

All the icons are powerful, and even the ones who aren’t inherently magical have access to it. As such, you might find yourself blessed by someone who has taken an interest in you. The icons need adventurers to succeed to further their own agendas and they’re not totally above giving them an intangible benefit to do so. You’re not going to get this from a negative relationship, but the right distraction might cause them to turn their eyes away from their own forces, cutting off their support and making them easier to deal with.

Option 5: Success through wisdom

The difference between a fortune cookie and an actual prophecy, is one of them is a cookie, the other is useful.

Sometimes, the best gift is that of words, not deeds – a flash of inspiration making sense of an old cryptic rhyme, or a dream providing meaning to a confusing sequence of events could be the difference between a hero prevailing and floundering around in the dark for several days, hopelessly lost. Luckily, the icons tend to run ancient, expansive orders with eyes everywhere, so chances are someone is going to know someone who has something to contribute.

Option 6: Success through information

Knowing is half the battle and a luxury adventurers are rarely afforded.

Rather than solicit the ongoing aid of an icon’s agent, you call in a one off favour for a piece of information. This can range from a map, guard schedules, the combination to a safe – a piece of vital information that can make your quest that much easier. This is rarely going to provide you an outright advantage the way a shortcut would, but instead offers up various opportunities for a player that likes to plan ahead.


Part 5 – Summary


Ideally this system should flesh out the icon relationships for both players and GMs. With this, players know ahead of time the kind of results they have to expect, the advantages they can get, and can try to plan accordingly, while GMs know the tools at their disposal and can try to anticipate the results. While the rules-light nature of 13th Age is one of its biggest strengths, having suggestions like this should be able to keep the game flowing for less experienced players, or those less comfortable with improvisation. The mechanics allowing rolls to affect one another or pool together are designed to encourage players to work together as a group, help them establish shared histories and generally turn the relationships into a more useful, reliable tool in their arsenal. In doing so I’ve had to ration the points more than usual, but it fits that not every adventure will have every icon so consistently involved at all times, so I think this is a more natural way of doing things. In a campaign that’s high on improv and deals with multiple icons on a regular basis, the GM might be happier to award them more often – indeed doing favours for an icon should be a viable way of recharging your potential successes, but this should still alleviate the problem of 2/3 failures that can make icon rolls disappointing in the main game.

Categories: Mechanics

Session 4: The Duel that Never Happened?

October 28, 2012 9 comments

The session started with Crias making a fumbled attempt to get Zasahl’s shock stick. He was intimidated into submission and spent the rest of the session cowering in a corner.

Fun fact: Intimidate is a straight up roll vs Will, and Zasahl has a godly intimidate bonus!

From there things got a bit strange – Zasahl and Knostril  began to see each other as enemies and began a fight to the death. Both were well armoured and had trouble doing any real damage to one another, and any time that Zasahl was hit he simply healed himself. The two fought through the lobby, wearing each other down slowly, as their battle spilled into the hall. Zasahl retreated into the Faraday memorial room hoping that its enchantments would distract his foe. Unfortunately the room’s effects only render its contents uninteresting, not its occupants, and Knostril found himself free of distraction and utterly focused on Zasahl’s end. Realizing his mistake, Zasahl allowed the psionic effects of the room to free his mind of distraction as well, and the two began beating each other bloody (repeatedly). Before the final blow could be struck, Knostril hesitated, unwilling to gamble what little energy he had left on one last attack.

As he began to make his move, the two found themselves floating in a stellar void, before being returned to the lobby  – apparently the Astrosage had her own agenda with this fight. Thinking no more of it, Knostril charged, only to miss, as he no longer had the focus the Faraday room provided. Zasahl went to burn him with a sacred flame only to find that he had not been fighting Knostril after all – he had just shattered the Psionic Nexus of a Faraday Corps defense construct. The machine had sensed the damaged Arcane battery, and detected intruders, using its psionic abilities to wipe the minds of most of the party, and project hallucinations into the mind of the remaining two. Knostril’s final blow and Zasahl’s holy fire had shattered the source of its power, breaking the illusion and narrowly averting disaster. After salvaging the shards of its nexus and the twin daggers it wielded, the two threw its body into the Arcane fire, and the conflicting magical power sources reacted to slow its spread. With any luck, the party should now have enough time to come up with an escape plan, but they won’t be able to depend on any healing from Zasahl.

Bonus Feat for Zasahl and Knostril: Fire-Forged Friendship

Through their duel, Zasahl and Knostril gained an intuitive understanding of each others’ fighting styles and capabilities. Now when they aid one another, either through a skill check or in combat (through flanking etc), they get a +3 bonus instead of +2.

New Mechanic: Escalation Die

In addition, we’re going to use the Escalation die mechanic from 13th Age in combat – each round of combat with a successful hit increments a d6 by 1. The value on the die (1-6) is added to all attack rolls the party makes. So if the ED is 4 everyone gets +4 to hit. Enemies don’t – it represents the party learning their foes’ weaknesses and being able to better circumvent them.


That was a fun fight but a lot of people were busy today and couldn’t make it. Would it be more convenient to move the game back a day to Friday (US etc)/Saturday (NZ/Australia)?

So the next session would be 6 days from now instead of a week.

Let me know if you can make it.

Categories: Mechanics, News, Session Log

Mechanics: Skills and Power Sources

October 7, 2012 6 comments

I really like the design of Fourth Edition – it’s elegant, and intuitive, despite its lack of flexibility in some areas, but every so often that lack of flexibility makes things a bit awkward.

Take skills for example – Unlike 3.5, the knowledge skills are straightforward and each one corresponds to one of the power sources:

  • History is Martial
  • Arcana is Arcane
  • Nature is Primal
  • Religion is Divine
  • Arcana is Psionics


The addition of Psionics in PHB3 broke the system, and so even though Psionics and Arcana aren’t the same thing, they share the same skill. So Wizards understand the theory behind psionics, but druids and clerics don’t. Conversely, psions understand the principles behind Arcane magic which makes little sense. And then they added Shadow magic and that’s something else entirely with no real skill analogue.

So what if we want to add a Psionics skill to Arcanauts?

We’ve got plenty of players, so there’s skill overlap, which means it’s in our interest to give people diverse roles to play. So to that end, it needs to have a distinct use, but have support in terms of feats. The most simple way is to reskin Arcana for psychic characters, but that would preclude arcane knowledge, so that doesn’t work.

We need a new skill.

When I designed Astronomy, I had similar concerns, opting to replace an existing (but less useful) skill. However, what we can do is parent it to another skill. Before I go any further I know characters have been created, so if we go ahead with these rules, I’ll allow a free switch to keep characters builds constant.

To start with the new skills need to be parented to similarly functioning skills. This means that feats applying to the parent skill can be applied to the child skill with minimal reskinning, and any class that gets the parent skill gets the child skill. Functionally, this means parenting Psionics to Arcana, because feats boosting Psionics are based on Arcana.

So mechanically you could train in Arcana or Psionics, or both, and anything that requires Arcana training could also be gained through psionic training. Feats that are specific to arcane magic won’t be taken by psionics, so that seems like a simple solution.

But should Psionics be INT? The classes in PHB3 use CHA, CON, DEX and INT for their attacks, which doesn’t tie it functionally down to any given skill. Psionics to me seem like they should be based on willpower, which keys off WIS or CHA, whichever is highest, so those are certainly possibilities if any INT requirements for psionic feats are adjusted to the new skill.

(This is something I love about 13th Age – backgrounds are extremely flexible, and can key off any ability. Why don’t I marry if if I love it so much you ask? MAYBE I ALREADY DID.)

Looking at the skill balance, there’s already a tonne of WIS skills, but only one Knowledge skill is CHA. The downside is that while our Psion’s CHA is pretty decent, so he’s losing one point to his check, and his abilities key off INT, so it loses that inherent synergy. But flavour wise it works best as a willpower skill, so I like the idea of using CHA from a flavour perspective.

What about Astronomy?

If we can add a child skill to an existing skill, we don’t have to get rid of Dungeoneering, and because each class that gets dungeoneering has the potential to get Astronomy, every class who has it now can retain it.

We can do the same thing with Astronomy, meaning we either get Astronomy (WIS) as a child skill, or we reassign it a new ability that’s more flavourful.

And that ability should be INT. Because from the perspective of a land-bound creature, nothing about astronomy is intuitive – it’s all hard science. You can learn about nature by spending time in it, but for much of Earth’s history, we had no clue about Astronomy.

What does it all mean?

  • Arcana (INT)
    • Psionics (CHA)
  • Dungeoneering (WIS)
    • Astronomy (INT)

What do you think? Is keying them off different abilities for flavour reasons too much? Or is the fact you have to pick between training in one or the other too limiting?

Let me know in the comments.

Categories: Mechanics

Mechanics: Icon Relationships

September 25, 2012 8 comments

The 13 Major Players, or Icons as I probably should call them because it’s way catchier, they’re a pretty important part of the setting, and that’s what 13th Age where I stole the system from which inspired me in a completely non-plagiaristic way called them. You’ll be working for or against them most of the time, unless it’s something personal, and even then they have a tendency to meddle.

But how does that work mechanically? Well it’s pretty simple.

You each start out with 3 relationship points that represent your character’s “footprint” in the galaxy so far. You can spend these points on each of the 12 known icons to gain either positive (+), negative (-) or conflicted (~) relationships with them. The form this takes is up to you – it might be a familiarity with their practices, they might be your sworn enemy, or you might have a troubled past with them and their followers. Whatever the case, you’ve got some experience with them.

An example might be a space pirate who occasionally raided The World Builder’s ships (-1), and frequently found herself in business with the Huntsman’s agents while doing so (+2).

Your relationship value determine the number of d6es you can roll to invoke it. You’re hoping for 5s (complicated success) or 6s (outright success).

With this established, you can start to use those relationships to your advantage. Our Pirate might be in a spot of trouble with some Whetstone-Tuatha mercenaries, and willing to make a deal with the Huntsman’s lackeys to throw her pursuers off her trail. So she’d roll 2d6 based on her relationship with the Huntsman. If a 5 turns up, the pirate might encounter one of his agents she previously antagonized, still sore about losing a contract. He’d give chase, only to run headlong into the people already pursuing her, allowing her to slip away in the confusion if she’s quick enough. If a 6 turns up however, things go a lot more smoothly – one of her fences agrees to let her hide out for a few days, for  a reasonable price. If both show up, well, maybe that price wasn’t so reasonable after all.

Of course,  if neither come up and the time is right – say she rolled snake eyes – it might be because something else happened entirely. There’s a chance one of the other icons did something unexpected, and she’d best hope it wasn’t the World Builder.

In other news:

Ranneko has completed a character sheet for Lachlan – a human thief seeking his true love and a fortune to go with her.

He’s travelled from his remote colony to Ferossa to attend the Touchdown Festival – the 50th anniversary of Ferrosa’s founding, and a momentous occasion for Whetstone-Tuatha. This event is significant enough that The World Builder himself – Lord Ceylon Tuatha will be in attendance. As a wise and powerful druid, people from all corners of the galaxy will be gathering to hopefully partake in his unique insight. The colony will be unusually crowded, but the chance to seek the council of Lord Tuatha and perhaps help himself to the guest’s valuables are too much to resist.*

*Unless he decides to change any of the above motivations or details.

That’s the scene as it’s set at the start of the campaign. You’ll all be aware of it, and it should help explain what you’re all doing at the time.

In order to better figure out relationships and motivations, I’ll be hosting a meeting in what I hope to be the session time slot within the Roll20 app, which should also help everyone get familiar with it before we play. I’m thinking 9am Sunday my time (GMT+12), which translates to:

  • 9am Sunday (GMT+12) – Me
  • 4pm Saturday (GMT-5) – Specktre
  • 7am Sunday (GMT+10) – Ranneko
  • 4pm Saturday (GMT-5) – Aldowyn
  • 11pm Saturday (GMT+2) – Jarenth
  • 4pm Saturday (GMT-5) – JPH
  • 3pm Saturday (GMT-6) – Krellen
  • 4pm Saturday (GMT-5) – Desgardes

Let me know if I’ve gotten any time zones wrong, failed to take into account Daylight Savings etc , but that’s probably the most reasonable set of times I can come up with. It’s still pushing it a bit, but we’ve got people right across the board here.

So let me know corrections, suggestions or questions in the comments.

Edit x2: Looks like time slot #2 won, it’s not perfect so we’ll probably have the meeting at least using those times.

Categories: Mechanics, News

Rules: Feathered Dragonborn

August 13, 2012 2 comments

“Our ancestors took to the stars, now we take our rightful place among them”

Who are they?

When the dragonborn discovered their long-abandoned homeworld, they discovered another civilization living in their place.

Feathered dragonborn (or Orin as they refer to themselves) are a proud, yet peaceful race who lived with a lack of technology for the majority of their existance, relying on primal magic to improve their way of life. They tend to be smaller and weaker than regular dragonborn, making up for it with improved agility and a more thoughtful nature. Their lightly coloured feathers often compliment their cool, blue-green scales and enable them to blend into the tropical jungles of their homeworld, Avorus. These dragonborn grew more adept at tool use than their cousins, losing their breath weapon, but by the mountainous reagions they dwell in pushed them to regrow their once-vestigial wings. Despite their agility, they lack the capability for true, sustained flight, only being able to stay aloft in short bursts.

They look upon the new, interstellar civilization with great curiosity and take a special (though not always appreciated) interest in their scaled cousins, seeking to understand their place in the cosmos.  They greatly favour natural or agile classes such as rogues or rangers, knowing they must rely on their wits to adapt and survive in a new environment. Because their natural language (Oran)is a derivative of ancient Draconic, they often have an easy time picking it up, meaning most Orin speak it with a fair degree of competance.

Characters who speak Oran and grew up among draconic speakers or vice versa can learn the other language for free.

This will not however allow you to understand more than a few words of one just by speaking the other.

What are their stats?

Average Height: 5’8″-6’6″

Average Weight: 180-240lbs

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom

Size: Medium

Speed: 6 squares

Vision: Normal

Languages: Common, Draconic, Oran

Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature +2 Acrobatics

Feature – Dragonborn Agility: When you’re bloodied, you gain a +1 racial bonus to reflex saves and also to armour class if you’re wearing light or no armour.

Feature – Draconic Heritage: Your healing surge value is equal to one-quarter of your maximum hit points + your Constitution modifier.

Ability – Draconic Flight: Encounter Power (Move action, Personal Range)

Effect: Fly a number of squares equal to your speed. At the end of your turn, you float down to the ground if you aren’t already there. If you are falling at a harmful velocity this will allow you to land without taking damage.

Categories: Mechanics, Races, Setting

Mechanics: Astronomy

August 11, 2012 2 comments

In space you really don’t spend a huge amount of time exploring dungeons – although dungeons and cave systems still exist, they’re not considered important enough to be their own field of study. On the other hand, knowing how the cosmos work is increasingly valuable in a time like this. If there are any particular questions, do ask.

What about Dungeoneering?

In vanilla Fourth Edition, dungeoneering allows you to:

  • Forage for food underground
  • Identify aberrant or subterranean monsters
  • Identifying subterranean flora
  • Navigate underground (both in terms of altitude and cardinal directions)
  • Noticing changes in your environment from recent construction

Basically, all this stuff is an underground version of Nature so most of these effects can simply be folded into that skill. Identifying Aberrant monsters will be part of astronomy though.

Changes to Nature

In addition to folding the stuff from Dungeoneering into it, nature has the ability to analyze an alien creature you’re unfamiliar with. Creatures on new planets won’t have been studied or classified the way they were on the Motherrock, but knowledge of nature and evolution can give you some insight into its physical capabilities.

Astronomy Does…

Astronomy is the study of the cosmos, celestial bodies and the cold vacuum of space.

It governs:

  • Navigating a space ship or similar vehicle (Navigation in general, plus principles of motion including gravitational slingshotting around large bodies to save fuel. Actually operating it is Arcana)
  • Identifying cosmic phenomena (Celestial bodies, nebulae, gamma bursts, different types of stars etc)
  • Navigation in space (Orienteering via the stars, not getting lost in an asteroid belt etc. This can be used in the traditional sense to navigate at night when there are no nearby landmarks.)
  • Identifying the properties of a celestial body (Does a planet have a breathable atmosphere etc)
  • Understanding cosmic space-time phenomena (Relativity, gravitational effects, Newtonian dynamics etc)
  • Identify the system you’re in or the planet you’re on via the starry sky.
  • Familiarity with Wyrmhole locations (To get from where you are to Wyrmweb station)
  • Analyze aberrant monsters (So does everything weird live underground in D&D or something? It doesn’t any more – it’s aliens now.)

Astronomy Sample Skill Checks


You can identify the nearby stars to orientate yourself – it’s an easy check to note nearby constellations and remember them, but identifying specific systems might vary in difficulty depending on how well-known the local area is. You get a circumstance bonus on astronomy checks for orientation in when using a star chart.

On the ground you can use this information to navigate on a clear night.


Piloting a vehicle is going to be easier or harder depending on the maneuverability of the ship, and the complexity of the action, but a successful astronomy check can get you where you need to be. In addition, you’ll need to use astronomy to aim weaponry making this a very important skill for a navigator.


You can use astronomy to identify a cosmic phenomena or discern the properties of a cosmic body. You have to be able to see or sense the phenomenon in question so it would be very hard to identify dark matter unless your ship was actually being affected by its gravitational field. Identifying the properties of a planet is generally a really good idea before deciding to land on it or breathe in its atmosphere , but as always caution is advised. Most planets with known life have breathable atmospheres within certain parameters, so although you’ll be able to survive, a successful astronomy check might identify specific effects on different races.

Categories: Mechanics