- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About: Totems
- Pelicar Fantasy World Physics 101, Biofields: Real World Applications
A decade of play testing, thousands of hours of play, thorough editors, dozens of wanted and unwanted opinions and what did we get? A damn good game with a few small holes left in it. We had hoped that the OGB would be able to stand alone forever, but now that things are turning up we are going to fix them, at least for those of you who visit our web site. Luckily the system itself is fine. The combat works the way we want it from awareness checks to final victory. It's a bit of the between melee stuff that we missed.
First of all check out page 57 if you're not already familiar with totems. All the information here is accurate with one exception. Recent negotiations with the heavenly merchant's guild have reduced profit margins dramatically. All across Pelicar prices are dropping. They are expected to stabilize with a pricing formula of rank square times a hundred. Hence the following chart:
|Rank||Totem Cost (bits)||Spell Cost (bits)|
Now, these prices are for empty totems. To buy a full totem costs the price of the totem plus the price of the spell. We kind of hinted at spell prices, but didn't really go into detail. The third column of the above table is good for having spells (both incantations and axioms) cast at mage shops and temples. This is merely a base rate. Many spells are more expensive or cheaper depending on the market and the cost of materials and difficulty of the spell. Spells that may be cheaper are those often given away by mercy priests or other benevolent casters and/or those available to virtually all casters. For instance, minor healing and view magic, both of which may go for as little as 250 bits in a civilized area. Note: this is a deviation from the listings on page 16. However, those prices are still very realistic for regions far from civilization.
The next issue is what it takes to make one. Many priests, both characters and personas, will have no interest in paying such high rates while also trying to finance training and equipment upgrades. About 70% of totems are fashioned from high-grade wood. Roughly 20% are made from stone. The rest come from materials such as textiles, crystals, scales, clay, or bone. We will try to note such diversions in future releases, in the meantime it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference to game play.
Two things are required to make a totem. First are the materials. Cost is 75 bits per rank of the item. This not only includes the basic material, but also: paints, dyes, low-grade alchemicals and other similar substances. The second is a skill in woodworking or whatever substance the totem is to be made of. The skill must equal or exceed 10% times the rank of the attempted totem. Even with these requirements met, there is still a chance of failure. That chance of failure equals the rank squared modified by the character's piety bonus. The time required to construct the totem is rank squared in hours.
So, Jo the woodworker is making a fourth rank totem. He has a 45% woodworking skill so he's okay there. He's a successful craftsman; thus, he can also afford the 300 bits for materials (75 bits x 4th rank), which he buys at the local adventurer's guild. For two days he labors meticulously over the detail required (4th rank squared which is 16 hours, or two 8 hour days). At the end of his work he takes the totem over to the church to have it tested and hopefully to sell it. If the totem will hold an incantation Jo is on the road to riches. The potential profit of 1300 bits is more money than he has made in his entire life. In fact more than his entire family has made in a couple generations. As the priest casts all he can think about is paying off Guido who paid for his training to such an accomplished skill level. Somewhere in the multi-universe an arbiter rolls a dice. Fifteen percent! Jo cringes, a 16 percent is required. Little does he know the gods have taken an unusual interest in his boring life. His piety of 26 gives him the 2% he needs! Hurray for Jo.
Just a few more notes to fill in the last few blank spots. First, using a totem happens in the item use mode of initiative; thus, a bow-firing warden can switch neatly from bow fire to casting of a totem. The delay is three seconds, as long as the desired totem and his arrows are all easily accessible. Which leads us to our next point.
How many totems can one carry? First to third rank totems are about the size of an action figure or a cassette tape. Fourth to seventh are more like a small lava lamp or a textbook, and higher rank totems are the size of an average boom box or a basketball. My use of such strange comparisons is intentional. There is a lot or variation from church to church and style to style. The important part is that a lightly equipped character could carry about twenty low-end totems or up to three high-rank ones.
Next issue. Higher rank totems must be more specific to the particular deity's genre. This follows the same break down as to who can use what totem listed in the OGB. Any generic totem can hold a first or second rank spell. Third to fifth rank totems must have markings in keeping with the mythos, and sixth rank and higher totems depend on preparations specific to the deity. No special skills are required to posses this knowledge, just a chance to learn or a handy reference book.
Lastly, I just noticed something that is probably obvious, but the OGB does not spell it out. A character with a 10th level church apercu may use third to fifth rank totems from within his pantheon and those with a 15th level apercu may use higher rank totems specifically from within his church.
Hopefully that fills in all the blanks.
by Lewis Nicholls
Pelicar Fantasy World Physics 101
Biofields: Real World Applications
For those who have visited our website in the past, you might remember that we had planned on writing an article explaining why someone could just not come across a sleeping person and slay them by simply slitting their throats due to the nature of how biofields work on Pelicar because numerous players at conventions we were showing the game to asked this of us.
Well, we thought about it and decided that if an Arbiter and his players thought the concept was silly, they would do what we did with rules in other game systems and simply ignore it and do things the way we wanted anyway. So, instead, we will try to better describe what a biofield is and some real world applications and examples where biofields come into play within the Fantasy World Physics of Pelicar, especially for those who do not know anything about the game system already. As such, we will be explaining our thoughts on why we really did not want someone to simply be able to come upon a sleeping person and slay them outright, especially without regard to the relative levels of the characters and how biofields come into the picture in this particular example.
For those who own a copy of Pelicar™, The Official Game Book, you might want to read through pages 120 and 121 of the Physics and Physiology section regarding Biofields as most of this is there. For those of you who do not own a copy, we will give a basic explanation of what a biofield is, hopefully without repeating the entire section of the book which might be tough. All living things on Pelicar, including undead, possess an energy field which extends slightly beyond the body. In fact, the definition of life on Pelicar is something which has a biofield. The biofield stores vital life energies, binding the mind, soul, and other energies to the body. The biofield also possesses many layers or shells each of which contains different aspects of the individual and reacts in different ways towards outside influences.
The outermost shell of the biofield protects the individual from area of effect spells, such as streams of fire and protection spells such as protection from fire will bond themselves to this shell. This part of the biofield also stores the Beauty attribute. This explains how some critical hits can do permanent scaring and reduce the Beauty attribute by 1. The blow actually damages or alters the energies of the biofield, resulting in a loss to the attribute score. Since the outermost shell extends beyond the body by about half a meter, it also protects the individual's items as well (more on this aspect later). The inner shell protects against more directed spells such as restrain. The inner shell also contains information about a creature's origin, class, sub-class, and species. Most of the attributes (Strength, Reflexes, Stamina, Senses, and Sanity) and incantations granted by the deities to Priests are also stored in the inner shell as well. The core of the biofield stores information on the individual such as profession (Conqueror or Mage for instance) and level as well as the Piety and Mentality attributes. The deepest part of the core possibly contains soul energy as well. Only races able to advance in levels as deemed by the gods will contain soul energies. Even zero level members of such a race will contain soul energies; however, it is simply not as strong as a higher level member.
Why are my items not damaged?
The character I'm playing, Chewsac which is a white-haired Mon-Qui, is wandering through the woods with a leather backpack, some pouches, a long-bow and wooden arrows, and a short sword, when all of a sudden, I am blasted by a streams of fire spell. I take a few points of damage and rush head long after the mage that cast it, hoping to get into melee combat with him before anymore spells are cast. Luckily, I catch up with the mage using my natural brachiation skills (vine swinging) and defeat him in melee combat. After the combat, I check my belongings which are all still intact and in perfect condition and brush my hair off a little.
Under similar circumstances on Earth, if you stepped into an explosion, you'd be lucky to live through it, much less walk away with all your equipment in one piece. On Pelicar, it is the biofield which not only protects the being itself but his possessions as well. If you remember, we mentioned that the biofield extends about half a meter outside the body; therefore, Chewsac's leather backpack, pouches, and wooden arrows all survived without the need to make survival or similar checks. There is one exception to this, however. When a character's health falls below one fourth their maximum, their biofield has become too weak to protect their items. Only then will item survival checks come into play (see pages 142 - 143 of the OGB).
This also explains why Chewsac's items also become invisible when the mage in his adventuring party casts invisibility on him. If Chewsac picks up another item, bringing it into his biofield, that item will also turn invisible. Now, there is a limit, of course. If Chewsac grabs the corner of a building, the entire building is not going to become invisible, nor would it cause a dent or hole in the corner of the building.
George, is that you?
In the spirit of Halloween on Earth (I'm writing this on October 31st, couldn't help it), the Temple of Dalius in Arrows Landing, where Chewsac lives, is throwing a costume party. Chewsac decides to Morph himself into a mummified minotaur. After awhile, he notices one of his adventuring buddies come into the temple. He notices Varlon casting something and figures that Varlon is casting some spell to disguise himself; however, his appearance doesn't change. Instead, Varlon looks around the room awhile and then stares straight at Chewsac and comes walking up to him and starts to whisper something in his ear and they both leave together to take care of some business.
So, how did Varlon recognize who Chewsac was when Chewsac was morphed into a mummified minotaur (remember, Chewsac is a mon-qui.)? Well, Varlon cast the spell Identify Biofield and together with his Biofield Lore trade skill was able to identify who Chewsac was because the Biofield acts like a "finger print". While the Morph spell did attach itself to Chewsac's outermost biofield shell, the Identify Biofield was able to see beyond this, showing the unique traits of Chewsac's biofield.
"Hey! I ate the same roasted pog as everyone else here, why am I the only one that's sick now?!"
On Pelicar, diseases are energy and spiritual forces which bind themselves to the biofield and disturb the natural functioning of the energies stored there. For those who are not aware (don't own the book or missed that section), diseases are energy forces because there are no such things as cells (blood cells, skin cells, etc.) on Pelicar; therefore, there is no such thing as a bacteria or virus. As such, diseases are typically designed to attack certain areas and types of energies in the biofield. It is conceivable for a disease to only affect a certain race, profession, rank of mage, or only tigaras in age class III that are 1.5 meters tall with black facial hair. It is even entirely possible for an accomplished mage with high enough skills in the alchemy multi-skill to concoct some disease or poison that affects a specified person based on the individual's unique biofield characteristics.
"The guy's just sleeping why can't I just slit his throat or whack his silly head off?"
Yep, you guessed it. The nature of the biofield and how it behaves with the surrounding environment prevents this, at least, automatically. The biofield, as you'll remember, extends about a half meter or so around the body. When the outer shell of the biofield is violated by an attacker, or anything else for that matter, it essentially warns the rest of the would be victim via various energy exchanges and processes which allow them an awareness check. If the awareness check is made, the sleeping person awakes and can defend themselves against the attack. If the person fails the awareness check, they do remain sleeping; however, the attack is like any other, from a game mechanics point of view - it simply causes damage. Granted, if enough damage is caused during the attack, the victim can die. From a visual perspective, if enough damage is done in one swing to kill the victim, their silly head could indeed be whacked off!
Also, what we've tried to do is make it effectively impossible for say a 3rd level character to come upon a 15th level character and kill them in one shot just because they managed to catch them sleeping. In a fantasy world of super heroes, this just sounded silly to us.
Besides, the way Pelicar physics and biology manifest themselves, who is to say that the head is nothing more than a sensory and food ingesting appendage that an 8th rank Regenerate spell can grow back if someone happens to "loose their head" so to speak.
by Mark Headrick