Thursday, November 10, 2016

RPM: Object Grimoires

Who says an RPM Grimoire has to be a book? an item that gives a bonus to a spell being cast is an item that gives a bonus to a spell being cast, but that a book or a banner. Books are a classic way to store magical power, but magical artifacts come in all shapes and sizes. The wheel of time features crystal swords, statues, and bowls. Harry Dresden is always using his bracelet or blasting rod to cast specific effects. And many magic items strengthen specific spells but still require a caster behind them.

How to Use Object Grimoires

Grimoires come with instructions on how to use. Actually, thematically speaking, they are instructions on how to use. Which means that an object grimoire is going to be harder to use... at least until you know what its for and how to use it. Sure this bowl is enchanted... but does it control the winds, the waves, merely predict the weather, aid a comprehensive weather control spell, or aid something completely different like summon a delicious clam chowder?

Figuring out what a grimoire object does should be as interesting as translating a dead-language or encrypted grimoire. Hidden Lore and Research have a bigger role to play in doing so. In fact, most of the time, a Hidden Lore or Research role should be followed up by a Thaumatology roll. As a general rule, the Hidden Lore roll should be penalized, but be at +2 or more when compared with a plain research roll. Higher bonuses tend to be easier to find out about (research and hidden lore) but make the Thaumatology roll harder: a +1 amulet of inflicting diarrhea is hardly worth recording in the ancient books of lore, but isn't that hard to figure out, while a +8 change to frog statue is likely to be easy to find out about but hard to figure out the exact magical use.

Of course, these are all just suggestions. When purchasing such an item its likely the dealer will know exactly how to use it, or at least be able to point you in the right direction. This will probably effect the price of the item though!

Form and Decoration

If you're not going to get creative with the form of the item, there is little point in not leaving it as an arcane volume. Object grimoires usually are decorated with hints to their purpose and the form is part of the magic. Common forms include  jewelry, decorated sticks (staffs, wands), statues,  masks, bowls and tools.  Its also common for such items to be made out of an expected material: a metal broom or a glass sword.

Pay attention to size. While the range of weights given in the RPM book are fine, some grimoire objects can be much bigger or smaller. Of particular interest is great big ones: you may be able to get a 7 foot iron statue grimoire for a great deal, but anytime you want to use it, you have to be at the statue.

Buying Object Grimoires

These grimoires shouldn't cost the same as the standard "I-have-all-the-instructions" book. If the exact function isn't known, that's probably a discount (20%? 40%?). Great big ones will reduce the cost as well, and some GM's may say that the form is more conducive to that kind of magic, giving a bonus.

Of course, much of the time an object grimoire will be found when you're searching for a book. One way to use this is as ways to mix up the results of a grimore search. You can choose between the book in akkadian or the silver monkey necklace that puts an awkward 4 lbs hanging from your neck

Using Object Grimoires

This is meant to help you mix up your grimoires, NOT to replace magic items in a campaign. These items still require a mage to use them, and the more powerful the caster, the more powerful the results. They are meant to shake up buying book after book, and to let some of that bizarre crap decorating the witch's shop actually be useful.

They're also very useful for magical traditions where writing isn't central. I actually came up with the idea when trying to work out a TL 3 society using RPM and relying heavily on grimoires. I hope you find this idea useful.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

RPM: Path of Machines

I was thinking about RPM in a TL11 setting, and I thought to myself: the path of matter is sure powerful there. It covers nanobots, computers, vehicle transmissions, robotic arms and many other things. Then I asked myself what I would say if one of my players tried to use control matter to hack into computer and get passwords out of it. Or transform matter to change what nanobots did. And what is the proper way to 'awaken' a computer? My solution is the path of machines.

The path of Machines is all about complexity. The old definition of a machine may include levers, but the path of machines needs more complexity than that. The path of machines thrives best on computers, engines, speaker systems. One interesting effect of the path of machines is that by default, it works on computer data but not on the written word -- which means written secrets are safer.

Machines that are characters in and of themselves (like an AI) resist spells normally. An active caretaker can resist many effects with the appropriate repair or use skill. Signature gear always gets a save. But for the most part, machines don't get resistance rolls.

The effects

Sense Machine: lesser sense machine can detect machines, identify a machine,  or diagnose a technical problem. Greater sense machine  can reveal a machine's purpose or get a password from a computer.
Strengthen Machine: Most commonly, this is used to increase the power of a machine, whether it be strengthening a car to get up a hill, increasing the CPU speed on a processor, making a speaker louder, or causing nanobots to act like there are twice as many of them. The difference between greater and lesser strengthen machine is one of magnitude.
Restore Machine: can perform complex repairs. Lesser effects require some nods to physically fixing the object and require all the parts and information to be present in some form. Greater effects can repair objects that are missing parts or have had the information on them completely destroyed, and do so instantly.
Control Machine: Lesser Control Machine makes the machine do something it could do with the right inputs. It can hijack the output of computers, speakers, and other media, (the resulting output has to come from somewhere though!), steer cars, and open locks. Greater Control Machine can allow a machine to move or act in ways it normally wouldn't be able to. Examples include a car walking on its wheels and a computer delivering an electric shock. Control Machine also works as Control Mind vs. AI's.
Destroy Machine: Lesser Destroy machine breaks machines in subtle and believable ways, causing fuel lines to come loose, random computer crashes, and other normal wear and tear (if faster and much more convenient). Greater Destroy machine can erase information from a computer so thoroughly it can't be gotten back or cause mechanical errors that require taking the machine completely apart before putting it back together.
Create Machine: Lesser create machine can grant a bonus to assembling or inventing a machine, or copy a machine's effects that the caster has all the information for. For example, lesser create machine could be combined with sense machine to open a lock. Greater create can awaken a computer to sentience, or assemble a machine on its own out of spare parts. It can also emulate a machine
Transform Machine: Transforms one machine into another, causing it to do something it was not designed to do. Lesser effects are subtle and still somewhat related to the machine's design, while greater effects can restructure the entire machine into something else.

In the Campaign

This path is very much designed for a high tech game, and isn't recommended for TL's less than 6. Though it could be used in a TL4 world to create clockwork constructs (effectively TL4+2^ or even higher!) It will shine best in world with lots of computers, vehicles, and machine-type weapons (like guns).

I hope you find this idea useful!