About William James Cuffe

I am an aspiring author that was side-swiped from that destination by the purchase of a local gaming shop. I managed All The Fun Stuff for about four years, but I had been involved with the store in one way or another for over 20 years — since I worked there when I was in high school. I missed the creative outlet of writing very much, but lack the ego necessary to tout my own work to publishers. Some of my writing accomplishments are: - I have had articles printed in Polyhedron (“Stench Cow Recipies” #133, “Of Sigil and the Sea” #137) and Dragon Magazine (“Extra Healing” #269). “Of Sigil and the Sea” is of particular pride to me, as it was illustrated with a map by one of Wizards of the Coast’s Planescape setting cartographers, Rob Lazzaretti. You can find an archived, COLOR copy of the map on the D&D’s Map-a-Week page for 12/21: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mwa/archive2001 I won the 1997 RPGA Adventure Writing contest with “Heirs of Elemental Evil” that was the two-round Team Event at Origins 2000. I included the various styles of adventures — puzzle, combat, mystery, and roleplaying — all in one adventure where they meshed seamlessly. I still think of this as my best adventure written, even if the main idea is a little on the silly side — babysitting kids. The PCs from that adventure can be found here at the AD&D Hall of Heroes: http://www.hallofhero.com/npc/Etiquette.cfm?id=1 I contributed the third part to the Kargatane’s Children of the Night: Demons project with “Marasmos”. As always, this adventure was heavily edited, dropping out whole sections using the Nightmare rules and in-depth infection rules. A copy can still be found on the Kargatane’s web site: http://www.kargatane.com/ Online, you’ll find various articles and pieces written by me, ranging from the serious commentary on gaming and comics to the whimsical fanboy-ishness of filks: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/2447.html http://www.icv2.com/articles/talkback/6627.html I was one of two winners of Buccaneer Bass’ Five Fingers Contest, (“Cadaver and the Survivors”) as judged by the staff at Privateer Press: http://www.buccaneerbass.com/rls/html/ourmaterial/5fingers.htm Beside writing, another of my skills is tinkering with a pencil, as can be seen here at my Elfwood page: http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/w/j/wjcuffe/wjcuffe.html

Damage Control Company – Hound

Hound                                                                    (Pl/f githzerai/Psi6/SO/TN)
Planar Githzerai Female, 6th-level Psionicist, TN Member of the Sign of One
Kit: Psiologist (The Will and The Way, pg 25, 26) Hound of the Damage Control Company

STR:

9

35 Wt .Allow      90 Max Press     Open Door 5      Bend Bar/Lift Gate 1%
DEX:

10

CON:

16

+2 hp        System Shock 95%     Resurrection 96%
INT:

18

7 Lang
WIS:

17

Mag Def Adj +3
CHA:

14

Max Hench 6             React Adj 0*              Loyalty Base -1*

* — -2 penalty to reaction and loyalty checks (See Special Hindrances: Faction)

AC Frontal: 9

AC Rear: 10

AC Shieldless: 9

AC Non-magical: 10

Hound gains +1 to her AC by virtue of her boots of striding and springing.  She usually supplements her protection by using her psionic ability flesh armor. *

* — See Psionic Powers Descriptions: Psychometabolism — Flesh Armor.

Hp: 34                      Move: 12                   Base THAC0: 18

Alignment:                True Neutral               Age:         36

Height:                     5’8″                           Handed:   Right

Weight:                    93 lbs.

Appearance:             Thin and gaunt, it is difficult to tell Hound is female except for the timber of her voice.  She normally shaves her scalp to stubble-length hair if not bald, and has pierced her left eyebrow.  Her eyes are a pale jade-green, and she has tattoos of a downward pointing triangle in the middle of her forehead and on the apex of each cheek, over the bone.

Languages Known:   Githzerai (Native), Githyanki (Int:18)

WEAPON PROFICIENCIES:

(Adjustments for Strength, Specialization, Magical Bonus, etc., included)

Short Sword (+2 Short Sword of Quickness)

1/1

+2 Hit

+2 Dam

16

1d6+2/1d8+2

3 lbs

S

P

1*

Sling 1/1

18

-/-

** lbs

S

6

Bullet

1/1

1d4+1/1d6+1

5/10/20

½ lbs

S

B

Stone

1/1

1d6+2/1d4+2

4/8/16

½ lbs

S

B

Dagger
Held

1/1

18

1d4/1d3

1 lbs

S

P

2

Thrown

2/1

18

1d4/1d3

1/2/3

1 lbs

S

P

2

* — Short Sword of Quickness grants initiative of 1 every round.

** — These items weigh little individually: ten of these weigh approx. 1 lbs.

NON-WEAPON PROFICIENCIES:                * — See Non-Weapon Proficiency Description

Chaos Shaping (Wis:17)                              *
Contact (Wis:17)                                          *
Crystal Focus (Wis-1:16)                             *
Planar Direction Sense (Wis+1:18)             *
Harness Subconscious (Wis-1:16)             *
Hypnosis (Cha-2:12)                                    *
Meditative Focus (Wis+1:18)                       *
Mental Armor (Wis-2:16)                              *
Power Manipulation (Int-4:14)                       *
Psionic Lore (Int+1:19)                                 *
Rejuvenation (Wis-1:16)                               *
Tracking (Wis: 17)
Read/Write Githzerai (Int-1:17)

SPECIAL ABILITIES:

Racial:                                                   from The Planewalker’s Handbook, pg 75

+5% Magic Resistance per level, currently at 30%.

Spot portal within 10′ on a roll 1 on 1d6; if searching, requiring one turn concentration per 10′ square, it requires a 1, 2, or 3 on 1d6.

Class:       +2 save vs Enchantment/Charm

Kit:                                                                  from The Will and the Way, pg 26

+2 PSP per level

Improve a devotion or science by +1 every even level (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.)

Faction:                                                       from The Factol’s Manifesto, pg 128

Automatically gains saving throw vs. spell to resist Illusionary magic, even if normally none allowed.

((Wis:17+Int:18)/2)-5 to Imagine(13) something into/out of existence — i.e., mimic any wizard or priest spell up to 3rd level — like a wizard’s minor creation spell, heal from sickness like priest’s cure disease, etc.

SPECIAL HINDRANCES:

Racial:                                                   from The Planewalker’s Handbook, pg 75

Loses plane-shift ability

Kit:                                                                  from The Will and the Way, pg 26

Hound is not allowed to wear armor of any kind.

Hound suffers an additional -1 penalty to attack rolls for weapon other than dagger, knife, staff, short sword, or sling

Hound is limited to the number of magical items she owns; she may only keep 1 magic weapon, 1 magic protective device, and 2 miscellaneous magic items.

Receiving beneficial spells (bless, haste, cure light wounds, etc.) costs -10% to experience each time, up to 50%.

Faction:                                                       from The Factol’s Manifesto, pg 128

Rolling a 1 on an Imagine check reduces Hound to 20% current hit points, can inflict only 20% damage, and cannot use racial, class, or kit abilities until another Imagine check (only once per day) is made.

Suffers a -2 penalty on all encounter reactions and loyalty checks of non-player characters.

SAVING THROWS:

Poison, Paralysis, and Death Magic       12
Rods, Staves, and Wands                        13
Petrification and Polymorph                     9
Breath Weapon                                         15
Spell                                                           14

+3 Wisdom Magic Defense Adjustment bonus to saves vs. illusions, charm, and other mental attacks.

+2 bonus to saves vs. Enchantment/Charm

PSIONICS:  MTHAC0: 13 (with +2 Int bonus) Base MAC: 6             MAC: 4

PSPs: 36                 1 Psionic attack per round

PSIONIC ATTACKS: 3

Ego Whip                                                   PSP Cost: 4
Id Insinuation                                              PSP Cost: 6
Mind Thrust                                                PSP Cost: 2

PSIONIC DEFENSES: 3

Intellect Fortress                                        PSP Cost: 4/4
Mind Blank                                                  PSP Cost: 3/3
Thought Shield                                           PSP Cost: 2/2

DISCIPLINES: 3

Telepathy — Primary
Clairsentience
Psychometabolism

SCIENCES: 3

PSYCHOMETABOLISM:

Regeneration                              MAC: 5     PSP Cost: 5/2

TELEPATHY:

Mindlink                                     MAC: 8     PSP Cost: 7+/3+
Probe                                        MAC: 8     PSP Cost: 8+/4+

DEVOTIONS: 11

CLAIRSENTIENCE

Combat Mind                             MAC: 7     PSP Cost: 4/2            *
Sensitivity to Observation            MAC: 10    PSP Cost: 5/2

PSYCHOMETABOLISM

Cell Adjustment                          MAC: 6     PSP Cost: 5+
Flesh Armor                               MAC: 7     PSP Cost: 5/2            *
Heightened Senses                     MAC: 7     PSP Cost: 3/1

TELEPATHY

ESP                                          MAC: 6     PSP Cost: 6+/3+
Identity Penetration                     MAC: 8     PSP Cost: 6/3
Life Detection                             MAC: 7     PSP Cost: 3/1
Mind Bar                                    MAC: 8     PSP Cost: 5/2            *
Send Thoughts                           MAC: 8     PSP Cost: 3+/2+
True Worship                              MAC: 10    PSP Cost: 5/2

* — Kit adjustment included (See Special Abilities: Kit ).

Magical Items:  Potion of climbing, boots of striding and springing, short sword of quickness (+2 Sigil)

Normal Equipment:  Four daggers, a leather sling with ten bullets, twelve stones, a stained suede vest, leather leggings, a pair of soft boots, a pair of full-length leather bracers, a thin link belt, wrist manacles (wearing), leg manacles (wearing), yoke (wearing), five good key locks (on each manacle and yoke), 16 keys (on link belt, none to key locks),, a shaving knife, a carved ivory sheath, a leather pack, 1 week iron rations, a full waterskin, a rose quartz (attuned to Science or Devotion of player’s choice — See Non-Weapon Proficiency: Crystal Focus ), an Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon, Sign of One badge.

Wealth: 12 ceramic pieces, 30 gp, three 5 gp rose quartz.

Background/Personality:  You were bone in Limbo to a merchant family of githzerai.  Yours was a special birth, as you were quickly marked as an Anarch, one of the few with a natural affinity to manipulate and maintain the chaotic soup that comprises the plane of Limbo.  Hailed as a harbinger of wealth and good fortune for your clan, you were brought up as a follower of Zerthimon.  Due to the nature of trade, you lived a nomadic life.  Raised almost as much on the prime world of Athas as in Limbo, you became accustomed to change and travel.  It was there, under the Dark Sun, that you were captured and your family slaughtered by Githyanki marauders.  Plundered like a sack of gold or head of cattle, you were spared immediate death by a githyanki paladin named Talos.  Instead, you were enslaved and trained by their Psionicists as a Hound — githzerai hunter whose prey are others of her own kind.  Talos paid great interest in you, and spent most of his free time seeing to your needs and wants.  As captivity went, you were treated exceedingly well, receiving fine food, accommodations, and treatment worthy of a warrior.  But slavery is still slavery.  Though you came to love him dearly, you manipulated Talos into betraying his allegiance to his lich-queen ruler, Vlaakith and convinced him to escape with you.

There are few places on the planes where one of Vlaakith’s power cannot reach.  Sigil was perhaps the only refuge you two could hope to find.  Fleeing to the City of Doors, you hoped to give the lich-queen the laugh.  For the first year or so, you both rarely left the dive in the Hive you called a kip.  Shy, timid, fearful, you kept to  the shadowed, ramshackle building while Talos collected your daily necessities.  Eventually you did emerge from your paranoid seclusion, and explored the Cage.  You learned of the factions that controlled the city, and of the Sign of the One, which you rapidly enlisted.

Recently, you have fallen in with a group of adventures under the banner of the Damage Control Company, a collection of experienced bloods that hire out as “Problem Solvers with Unique Solutions”.  And with credentials like that, work is not long to follow.

Brianna:  You admire her strength of will and self-esteem; yours have been crushed by years of enslavement.  You wish you could be more like her, defiant in the face of oppression, strong enough to be your own person.

Click:  How can one with such a small, brittle mind have his freedom while your vast psyche is shackled?  Talking to this wind-up toy is like trying to discuss epistemology with a cranium rat.  It isn’t fair, isn’t just.  A chunk of metal has more liberty to be itself than you, with your expansive intellect.  You will change that…

Garth:  He reminds you of your keepers, the mentalists who corralled you and trained you like a dog.  You can tell he is accustomed to wielding power over people and giving orders to vast armies.  It is this detachment to the common person that intimidates you.  You would rather do as he commands to avoid a confrontation, and you hate him for bringing that out in you.

Jyslin:  You think she is quite beautiful, and constantly judge your own femininity against hers, constantly belittling yourself for coming up short.  Where she is shapely, you are thin; while she is vivacious, you are introverted.

Oberon:  He evokes such jealousy and envy in you, with his ease in conversation and personal charm.  You dream that, had things been different in your life, you would have been much like him — the center of attention, the darling of the ball, the apple in society’s eye.

Talos:  You genuinely love Talos, despite his race, his disposition, and his chain around your neck.  He could never return your feelings, because of your race and how you used him.  You will never let him know this, and keep it hidden from all.

If only things were different, if only…

Wraith:  You sympathize with this tiefling.  You too know the pain that is caused by the absence of family and acceptance.  If only you could open him up, you are sure you could connect to him and show him that even when you fell the most alone, there is always someone there who cares.

A Quote:  “My mind is the submerged behemoth in the chaotic loch that is the turbulent multiverse…  Every ripple of thought, every speck of psyche, is simply more quarry for my mindful masters…  They have their will, and I am their way.”

Faction Philosophy:                            from A Player’s Guide to the Planes, pg 27

Every person, every individual, is unique.  This is the greatest glory of the universe — that each creature living (and dead) is different from all the others.  It’s obvious, then, that the multiverse centers around the self, or so this faction would have everyone believe.  “It’s quite simple, addle-cove,” one of these sods would say, “The world exists because the mind imagines it.  Without the self, the multiverse would cease to be.”  Therefore, each Signer is the most important person in the multiverse.  Without at least one Signer to imagine it all, the rest of the factions would cease to exist.

Better be nice to the Signers, then, berk, because they just might decide to imagine a body right out of existence.  Don’t think it can be done?  Maybe not, but then a basher’s a fool to take the risk.  Lots of folks disappear without a trace, and more than a few are enemies of the Signers.  Makes a body think, don’t it?

So, some smart cutter’ll say, what happens if two Signers don’t agree?  What if they both think different things?  Then what happens?  After all, the multiverse is the same for everybody.  The answer’s easy for a Signer.  Since he’s the center of the universe, then obviously everything else is from his imagination — simple.  Nobody else really exists except as he thinks of them, so of course the multiverse is the same.  How else could it be?

A lot of folks don’t accept this idea.  After all, they point to their own feelings and emotions, their own self, as proof the Signers are wrong.  And the Signers simply claim to have imagined it all.  What others feel and think isn’t real; only what the Signers feel is.

So exactly who is imagining the multiverse?  That part even the Signers don’t know for sure.  One of them is, but they can’t agree on which one.  The safest bet is just to fall in with their faction, because any Signer could be the source of everything.  Remember that, berk.

NON-WEAPON PROFICIENCY DESCRIPTIONS

Chaos Shaping (Wis:17)                         from The Planewalker’s Handbook, pg 99

Fortunately for travelers, the elemental nature of Limbo shapes itself to the will of a basher’s mind.  Most of the time, a basher used his conscious mind to cause bits of solid ground or other terrain to form from the soup of Limbo.  Anyone plunged into the plane’s soup can manipulate Limbo’s matter to some extent, as detailed below.  The problem is, unless a body has the chaos shaping proficiency, it all goes away when he sleeps, gets distracted, or just plain forgets.

TERRAIN MAINTENANCE TABLE

Attribute Rating*

Radius of Terrain

Type of Terrain

0

none none

1-4

10′ per attribute point(flat meadow) simple

5-10

10 yards per attribute point(hills, trees, streams) complex

11-18

100 yards per attribute point(buildings, streets) artificial

19+

1 mile per attribute point(complex buildings) includes native animals

* Intelligence for conscious maintenance by ordinary folks; Wisdom for unconscious maintenance by anarchs trained in chaos shaping (see below).

Certain individuals like Hound, known as anarchs, have the innate ability to shape chaos.  Untrained (those without the chaos shaping proficiency) anarchs use the table explained above.  But those designated as anarchs can learn the chaos shaping proficiency, which allows a basher’s mind to maintain the terrain, even when the character is distracted or unconscious.

The trained anarch uses the powers of the subconscious mind to maintain terrain in Limbo.  With the proficiency,  Hound uses Wisdom rather than Intelligence of the Terrain Maintenance Table, and is free to perform other actions while shaping chaos.

Contact (Wis:17)                            from Player’s Options: Skills and Powers, pg 155        This proficiency gives Hound access to the psionic attack forms necessary to open a closed mind.  Contact also allows Hound to gain psionic attacks as they become available with level advancement.

Crystal Focus (Wis-1:16)                                   from The Will and the Way, pg 30

Hound finds that she can achieve a deeper and more productive psionic trance by focusing her meditations on an inanimate object.  Crystals and gemstones are the most frequently used foci, because of their clarity and durability.  A crystal focus gives Hound a +1 bonus to MAC checks for one particular science or devotion.

To use the proficiency, Hound must first attune a crystal to one of her psionic powers.  This requires a proficiency check and two hours of meditation.  After that, she can use the +1 bonus any time she initiates the power if she has the crystal in contact with her body.  She may only attune one crystal at one time.

The crystal does not have to be very valuable — a plain quartz crystal is usually enough to establish focus.

Harness Subconscious (Wis-1:16)    from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 18

The meditative proficiency lets Hound temporarily boost her total PSPs.  In effect, the proficiency lets her tap into energy reserves that lie deep in her subconscious — reserves that are normally unavailable to her.

Before she can harness subconscious energies, Hound’s PSP total must be at its maximum.  He then must spend two days (48 consecutive hours) gathering this energy, taking only necessary breaks for eating and sleeping.  At the end of that time, Hound makes a proficiency check.  If she passes, she increases her PSP total by 20%, rounded up.

The increase in PSPs lasts 72 hours.  At the end of that time, Hound loses as many strength points as she initially gained, regardless of her current total.  This loss can never reduce her total below 0 points, however.

During the 72 hours of heightened strength, Hound cannot recover PSPs if her current total equals or exceeds her usual maximum.  Once her current total drops below her usual maximum (i.e., once she has spent all bonus points), she can begin regaining PSPs normally.  She cannot recover the lost bonus points, however; she can only recover enough points to return to her usual maximum.

Hypnosis (Cha-2:12)                    from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 18, 19

With this proficiency, Hound can hypnotise another character — placing the subject into a relaxed state in which he is very susceptible to suggestions.  However, hypnosis is not possible unless the subject is willing and knows he is being hypnotised.

Hound can hypnotise humans and demihumans with ease.  Non-humans can be hypnotised, too, but the DM will assign a penalty to the proficiency check.  The size of the penalty depends on how inhuman the subject is.  A half-orc, for example, could be hypnotised with a -2 modifier, while a lizard man could be hypnotized only with a -8 modifier to Hound’s proficiency check.

The act of hypnotizing someone takes about 5 minutes.  The subject is then very relaxed and willing to do almost anything that isn’t very dangerous or against his alignment.  Note, however, that a hypnotized subject can be easily fooled; the subject may be convinced that he is doing one thing, while he’s actually doing another.

Hypnotism can have the following (or similar) effects:

A character can be induced to remember things he has forgotten by reliving a frightening or distant event.

A character can be made calm and unafraid in the face of a specific situation that he has been prepared for.

A character can be cured of a bad habit or addiction (but not of curses or magical afflictions).

A character can be prepared to impersonate someone by thoroughly adopting that individual’s personality.

Hypnotism cannot be used to increase a character’s attributes, give him powers or abilities he does not naturally possess, let him do things that are beyond his capabilities, or give him information that he couldn’t possibly know.

Meditative Focus (Wis+1:18)           from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 19

Through this proficiency, Hound can focus her mental energy on one particular disciple.  As a result, her MAC scores in that discipline temporarily increase, while those in other disciplines decline.

The proficiency requires Hound to meditate, uninterrupted, for 12 hours.  The last four hours of this meditation are spent in a deep, sleeplike trance.  Hound can recover PSPs normally during the entire period.

When the meditation is complete, Hound makes a proficiency check.  If Hound passes the check, she has successfully focused her mind on one particular discipline (which was chosen when the process began).  All of Hound’s psionic MAC scores in that discipline are increased by two points for the next 24 hours — or until her PSPs have been reduced to zero, whichever comes first.  All of her other MAC scores in other disciplines are reduced by one for the same period.

Mental Armor (Wis-2:16)            from Player’s Options: Skills and Powers, pg 155

This proficiency allows Hound to improve her mental armor class (MAC) by +2 for each slot invested in it.  Hound has invested one, giving herself a +2 MAC.

Planar Direction Sense (Wis+1:18)         from The Planewalker’s Handbook, pg 101

Since standard compass directions as most primes know them don’t exist on the planes, this proficiency allows another method of judging direction.  Planar direction sense enables Hound to utilize landmarks and other benchmarks to keep from getting lost.  While Hound may not know which way is north, she does know how to get back to Plague-Mort, the tower of Nirrecles, or the gate to Sigil.

Power Manipulation (Int-4:14)               modified from The Will and the Way, pg 31

Power manipulation is the skill of amplifying a psionic science or devotion.  This proficiency can only be used to manipulate powers in Hounds primary discipline, Telepathy.  When Hound initiates or maintains a psionic power, she may use power manipulation to boost its effects.  First she initiates the power with a normal MTHAC0 roll.  Then she may attempt power manipulation by making a proficiency check.  The attempt incurs an additional cost of 5 PSPs, whether she succeeds or fails.   If Hound makes a successful proficiency check, the PSP cost and maintenance for the target science or devotion is halved (rounding down fractions), the range is doubled, or the results are doubled (duration,.effects, etc.)

Psionic Lore (Int+1:19)                                     from The Will and the Way, pg 31

This proficiency represents the study of famous masters of the Way and the methodology of developing mental powers.  Hound is versed in the standard powers and effects.  With a successful proficiency check, the character can identify the general effects of any psionic devotion or science.  For example, Hound encounters a dwarf walking across a silt basin without sinking.  With a successful check, she can determine that the dwarf is using the Body Equilibrium devotion.

The second benefit of this proficiency is the ability to recognize attack patterns in mental combat.  If Hound makes a proficiency check with a -4 penalty, she is able to guess which attack and defense modes her opponent will be using that round and select her own modes accordingly.  The DM will make this check in secret; if Hound fails the check, the DM randomly decides which powers she thinks her opponent is using.

If two characters with psionic lore engage in mental combat, the character with the highest successful proficiency check is able to read the opponent’s intentions.  If the proficiency checks are the same, neither character gains any information.

Rejuvenation (Wis-1:16)                  from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 19

This proficiency allows Hound to recover PSPs while she meditates, as quickly as if she were sleeping.  She achieves a state of deep concentration, in which she focuses and regains her energies.  She is still conscious and aware of her surroundings, so she does not suffer any penalties on surprise or initiative rolls, and she is not helpless if attacked (She still cannot expend PSPs, however).

PSIONIC ATTACK DESCRIPTIONS

All MAC/PSP Cost statistics from Player’s Option: Skills and Powers, pg 146, 147

Ego Whip                                                             from Dragon Annual #2, pg 23

MAC: Target’s + range variable                     Range: 40/80/120

PSP Cost: 4                                               Area of Effect: One Creature

This attack assaults a target’s self-esteem and individuality.  It strikes like a glowing whip, its crack slicing open the wells of inferiority and worthlessness buried deep behind a target’s defenses.   For every 4 PSPs put into the attack, up to 24 PSPs (declared before a successful attack roll is made), Hound rolls 1d6+1 to determine psionic damage against her foe.  If hit, the defender loses that many PSPs or has his mind opened to further psionic contact if no PSPs remain.  A failed attack costs one-half of the declared PSPs.

Ego whip has three ranges: short (40 yards), medium (80 yards), and long (120 yards).  At medium range, the defender receives a +2 bonus to his MAC; at long range, the bonus is +5.

If used against an open mind, ego whip leaves the target dazed for 1d4 rounds, costing Hound 4 PSPs.  Though no psionic defenses remain, Hound must still roll the defender’s MAC to successfully hit (with a +2 bonus to the attack roll).  While dazed, all of a character’s die rolls (attack rolls, saving throws, etc.) receive a -5 penalty, and the character can’t cast spells above 3rd level.

Id Insinuation                                                      from Dragon Annual #2, pg. 23

MAC: Target’s + range variable                     Range: 60/120/180

PSP Cost: 6                                               Area of Effect: One Creature

This attack assaults a target’s subconscious, like a mental battering ram tearing through the walls that separate primitive needs from social constraints.  For every 6 PSPs put into the attack, up to 36 PSPS (declared before a successful attack roll is made), Hound rolls 1d8+2 to determine psionic damage against her foe.  If hit, the defender loses that many PSPs or has his mind opened to further psionic contact if no PSPs remain.  A failed attack costs one-half of the declared PSPs.

Id insinuation has three ranges: short (60 yards), medium (120 yards), and long (180 yards).  At medium range, the defender receives a +2 bonus to his MAC; at long range, the bonus is +5.

If used against an open mind, id insinuation leaves its victim confused and powerless to act for 1d4 rounds.  While no psionic defenses remain, Hound must still roll the defender’s MAC to successfully hit (with a +2 bonus to the attack roll).  This use of the attack costs 6 PSPs.

Mind Thrust                                                        from Dragon Annual #2, pg. 23

MAC: Target’s + range variable                     Range: 30/60/90

PSP Cost: 2                                               Area of Effect: One Creature

This attack stabs the mind of the defender, piercing thoughts and memories.  For every 2 PSPs put into the attack, up to 12 PSPs (declared before a successful attack roll is made), Hound rolls 1d4 to determine psionic damage against her foe.  If hit, the defender loses that many PSPs or has his mind opened to further psionic contact if no PSPs remain.  A failed attack costs one-half of the declared PSPs.

Mind thrust has three ranges: short (30 yards), medium (60 yards), and long (90 yards).  At medium range, the defender receives a +2 bonus to his MAC; at long range, the bonus is +5.

If used against an open mind, mind thrust causes the target to lose the use of one psionic power (chosen randomly) for 1d6 days.  While no psionic defenses remain, Hound must still roll the defender’s MAC to successfully hit (with a +2 bonus to the attack roll).  This use of the attack costs 2 PSPs.  Beyond opening a closed mind, mind thrust has no effect on non-psionic minds.

PSIONIC DEFENSE DESCRIPTIONS

All MAC/PSP Cost statistics from Player’s Option: Skills and Powers, pg 148

Intellect Fortress                           from Player’s Option: Skill and Powers, pg 148

MAC: –                                      PSP Cost: 4/4

This defense encases the mind in a powerful keep of mental energy to protect it from psionic attack.  Intellect fortress provides the best protection against ego whip, but is extremely vulnerable to psionic blast.  The cost is 4 PSPs per round to use this defense.

Attacker’s

Mind Thrust

Ego Whip

Id Insinuation

Psychic Crush

Psionic Blast

Roll Adj

-3

-4

+2

-1

+4

Mind Blank                                    from Player’s Option: Skill and Powers, pg 148

MAC: –                                      PSP Cost: 3/3

This defense hides the mind from psionic attack, forming a vast, featureless area that makes it harder to target the closed mind.  Mind blank protects best against id insinuation, while mind thrust easily slices through the defensive fog.  The cost is 3 PSPs per round to use this defense.

Attacker’s

Mind Thrust

Ego Whip

Id Insinuation

Psychic Crush

Psionic Blast

Roll Adj

+5

+3

-5

+1

-3

Thought Shield                             from Player’s Option: Skill and Powers, pg 148

MAC: –                                      PSP Cost: 2/2

This defense forms a glowing shield to turn away a psionic attack.  Thought shield defends most effectively against psychic crush, but is vulnerable to ego whip.  The cost is 2 PSPs per round to use this defense.

Attacker’s

Mind Thrust

Ego Whip

Id Insinuation

Psychic Crush

Psionic Blast

Roll Adj

+3

+4

-3

-4

+2

PSIONIC POWER DESCRIPTIONS

All MAC/PSP Cost statistics from Player’s Option: Skills and Powers, pp 175-177

SCIENCES:

PSYCHOMETABOLISM:

Regeneration                                                  from The Will and The Way, pg 76

MAC: 5                                     Range: Touch

PSP Cost: 5/2                            Area of Effect: One Creature

With this power Hound can repair permanent injuries that natural healing can not restore.  Severed limbs can be regrown, blindness or deafness repaired, and even paralyzing injuries to the brain or spinal cord can be healed.  Hound is capable of healing such injuries in herself as well as in others if the need arises.

Regeneration is a slow and tedious process.  It requires one full turn to repair minor damage such as the loss of a finger, a broken bone, or non-destructive los of eyesight or hearing.  Three full turns are required to heal a badly broken bone or regenerate a mangled hand or foot, and as many as six turns to regenerate an arm severed at the elbow or eyes that where physically destroyed.  The DM should use his best judgement in deciding how long it will take to repair any given injury.

Regeneration can be used to repair the damage caused by a disease, but cannot cure the disease itself.  It can also restore lost ability points (Constitution, Dexterity, etc.) that may have been lost to the ravages of disease or injury.  Regenerate cannot improve a person beyond their original condition, so growing extra arms, for example, is not possible.

TELEPATHY:

Mindlink                                      from Player’s Options: Skill and Powers, pg 172

MAC: 8                                     Range: Unlimited

PSP Cost: 7+/3+                         Area of Effect: One creature

Mindlink can only be used on an open mind, allowing Hound to communicate wordlessly with any intelligent creature she can contact (Intelligence 5 or greater on human scale).  This is two-way communication.  It is not the same as mind-reading because Hound only receives thoughts which the other party wants to send.  Language is not a barrier.  The PSP cost is determined by the target’s level, as shown below:

Target’s Level/HD

PSP Cost

1-5

7/3

6-10

8/4

11-15

9/5

16-20

11/6

21+

12/6

Probe                                     from Player’s Options: Skill and Powers, pg 172, 173

MAC: 8                                     Range: 2 yards

PSP Cost: 8+/4+                         Area of Effect: One creature

A probe is similar to ESP in that it is only effect against an open mind, but a probe allows Hound to dig much deeper into a subject’s subconscious.  If the subject fails a saving throw vs. spells, then all his memories and knowledge are accessible to Hound — from memories deep below the surface to those still fresh in the subject’s mind.  Information gained is not necessarily true, but it is true as far as the subject knows.

Hound can learn the answer to one question per round.  DMs have some discretion in determining this rate.  I f the questions (or answers) become too complicated, each may take longer than one round to resolve.

Hound can probe a subject who is conscious, as well as one who resists.  A probe can even be carried out in the midst of melee, provided Hound can get close enough and the target’s mind is open.  If a probed wizard or cleric tries casting a spell, Hound knows both that a spell is being cast and what the general effects of that spell are.

The PSP cost is per the target’s level, as shown below:

Target’s Level/HD

PSP Cost

1-5

8/4

6-10

9/5

11-15

10/5

16-20

11/6

21+

13/7

DEVOTIONS: 11

CLAIRSENTIENCE

Combat Mind                                 from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 33

MAC: 6                                     Range: 0

PSP Cost: 4/2                            Area of Effect: Hound

Using this power, Hound has an unusually keen understanding of her enemies and their fighting tactics.  As a result, Hound’s side in combat gains a -1 bonus when making initiative die rolls.  This is cumulative with any other modifiers which may apply.

Sensitivity to Observation                               from The Will and The Way, pg 69

MAC: 10                                    Range: 0

PSP Cost: 5/2                            Area of Effect: Special

Hound has the uncanny ability to know when she is being watched.  Sensitivity to observation is a devotion that is triggered by the intense attention of another person or creature.  Any time Hound is under such scrutiny, she may attempt a MTHAC0 roll to see if she notices the attention.  This power is always active unless consciously suppressed.

A successful MTHAC0 roll does not reveal the location of the watcher; it merely confirms Hound’s suspicion that she is being observed.  If the observer is using clairvoyance or clairaudience to monitor Hound, she may attempt to obscure the watcher’s scrying by winning a psychic contest against the watcher.  If successful, the watcher cannot scry against the psionicist for 1d4 hours.

Since the player will know Hound is under observation when called upon to make this check, the DM should occasionally provide false alarms or make the character’s MTHAC0 roll for him in secret.

PSYCHOMETABOLISM

Cell Adjustment                           from Player’s Options: Skill and Powers, pg 167

MAC: 6                                     Range: Touch

PSP Cost: 5+                             Area of Effect: Hound

Cell adjustment allows Hound to heal wounds and cure diseases.  Any sort of wound can be healed, but only nonmagical diseases are affected (e.g., this power cannot heal mummy rot, nor can it cure a lycanthropic curse).  Hound can cure a disease in one round by spending 5 PSPs and making a successful MTHAC0 roll.  If the roll fails, the disease is too widespread; she must continue spending another 5 PSPs each round until she succeeds in activating the power.  Note that a  “cure”  performed through this power does not automatically restore hit points.  However, Hound can heal up to 4 points of damage in each subsequent round by spending 5 PSPs per hit point recovered (4 hit points for 20 PSPs per round maximum).  She cannot cure the disease and restore hit points during the same round.

Flesh Armor                                  from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 60

MAC: 6                                     Range: 0

PSP Cost: 5/2                            Area of Effect: Hound

Hound transforms her own skin into nonmagical armor.  No one can see the change, but it is as if she had actually acquired some type of armor.  The type of armor her body mimics depends of the result of the MTHAC0 roll, as shown on the following table:

10+

AC 9

Left hand functions as a shield

11

AC 8

Leather

12-13

AC 7

Ring mail

14-15

AC 6

Scale mail

16-17

AC 5

Chain mail

18-19

AC 4

Banded mail

20

AC 3

Plate mail

Because this armor is part of her body, Hound can enjoy its benefits without suffering any penalty she might have is she were actually wearing that type of armor.  The armor created by this power weighs nothing, has no magical properties, and in no way encumber Hound.  Its effects may be combined with a ring of protection or similar magical item.

Heightened Senses                        from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 61

MAC: 7                                     Range: 0

PSP Cost: 3/1                            Area of Effect: Hound

By means of this devotion, Hound sharpens all five of her normal senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.  This has several effects, which are described below.  The DM may allow additional applications as he sees fit.

First, Hound has a good chance to notice thieves who are hiding in shadows or moving silently.  The thief’s skill chance is halved when someone with heightened senses is observing him.  Even if the thief is already hidden, he must roll again when Hound uses heightened senses.

Second, Hound can track someone like a bloodhound.  She must make an Intelligence (18) check every turn to stay on the trail or recover the trail if it is lost.  Her movement rate when tracking is 6.  The trail can be no more than 24 hours old.

Third, Hound’s ranges for hearing and seeing are tripled.  He can, for example, identify a person (in daylight) at a range of 400 yards.

Fourth, Hound can taste poisons or other impurities in quantities which are much too small to cause any harm.

Fifth, Hound can identify almost anything by touch.  She can, for example, tell two gold pieces from each other after previously having handled just one of them.  She can also tell if something has been handled in the last five minutes simply by handling it herself.

TELEPATHY

ESP                                          from Player’s Options: Skills and Powers, pg 174

MAC: 6                                     Range: Unlimited

PSP Cost: 6+/3+                         Area of Effect: One creature

Extrasensory perception, or ESP allows Hound to read someone else’s open mind.  Hound can only perceive surface or active thoughts.  She cannot use ESP to explore someone’s memories or delve into their subconscious.  Most intelligent creatures tend to think in words, so language is a barrier to understanding.  Unintelligent creatures think in pictures.  Magical thought, such as a wizard uses in casting spells, is also unintelligible.  However, Hound can easily recognize such thoughts as part of the spell-casting process.

The PSP cost is show below:

Target’s Level/HD

PSP Cost

1-5

6/3

6-10

7/4

11-15

8/4

16-20

9/5

21+

11/6

Identity Penetration                       from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 85

MAC: 8                                     Range: Unlimited

PSP Cost: 6/3                            Area of Effect: One creature

Identity penetration allows Hound to determine the target’s true identity in spite of polymorphs, illusions, disguises, etc.

Life Detection                              from Player’s Options: Skills and Powers, pg 87

MAC: 7                                     Range: 100 yards

PSP Cost: 3/1                            Area of Effect: Varies

Hound can detect the presence of living, thinking creatures within a limited area.  She must scan like radar.  If she is scanning at short range, she can cover a large angle.  At long range, the angle is significantly reduced.  He can scan through 180  to a range of 40 yards, 90  to a range of 60 yards, or 30  to a range of 100 yards.  One round of scanning will detect humans, demihumans, humanoids, mammals, and monsters with 8 or more HD.  A second round of scanning will detect birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and monsters with less than 8 HD.  In either case Hound gets an accurate count of the creatures.

The DM should make this MTHAC0 roll and keep the result secret from the player.  If Hound doesn’t detect anything, the player will not know whether that means there is nothing there, or the power did not work.

Mind Bar                                       from The Complete Psionics Handbook, pg 88

MAC: 7                                     Range: 0

PSP Cost: 5/2                            Area of Effect:

Mind bar is a magician’s bane and the telepath’s boon.  It gives Hound 75% magic resistance against charm, confusion, ESP, fear, feeblemind, magic jar, sleep, and suggestion spells.  It also offers complete protection against possession of any sort.

In addition, mind bar protects Hound against all the telepathic powers, except the five contact-establishing psionic attack modes.  No telepathic power can affect a barred mind unless the telepathic attack prevails in a psychic contest (the defender uses mind bar.

Send Thoughts                         from Player’s Options: Skills and Powers, pg 175

MAC: 8                                     Range: Unlimited

PSP Cost: 3+/2+                         Area of Effect: One creature

Send thoughts only works on an open mind.  This is one-way communication, allowing Hound to send her own thoughts to someone else’s mind.  Hound can send information or simply distract the target.  If the target is a wizard casting a spell, he must make a saving throw vs. spells.  If this save fails, the wizard’s concentration is broken and the spell is spoiled.  If the target being distracted is someone involved in melee, he has a -2  penalty on all attack rolls (but not damage rolls).

The PSP cost is show below:

Target’s Level/HD

PSP Cost

1-5

5/3

6-10

6/3

11-15

7/4

16-20

8/4

21+

10/5

True Worship                                        modified from Dragon Kings, pg 152, 153

MAC: 10                                    Range: 10 yards

PSP Cost: 5/2                            Area of Effect: One creature

Hound can pinpoint the focus of worship for any individual character with this power.  True worship gives her different information, depending on the class of the target creature.

Cleric: True worship identifies the cleric’s sphere of worship.

Druid: True worship identifies the general nature of the druid’s guarded lands (jungle, planes, swamp, etc.), but not their location.

Specialty Priest: True worship identifies the portfolio of the character’s power.

For non-priests, True worship correctly identifies the character as such.  Hound knows the character’s devotion and faith, if any, and also that he does not worship to gain magical spells.  Hound further learns the following dependent on the creatures planar origins:

Prime: True worship identifies the prime material alias of the character’s power/pantheon, if any.

Planar: True worship identifies the plane the character is native to (which lower plane for tieflings, which upper plane for aasimar, which elemental plane of genasi, etc.)

Petitioner: True worship identifies the plane/layer/realm of the character’s power.

Proxy:  True worship identifies the various aliases, including the one most commonly used, of the character’s power.

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Damage Control Company – Talos

The Missing Dynamic

When I submitted Heirs of Elemental Evil to the RPGA, they asked of just one change.  For a writer, a single edit on a project is a pretty rare occourance.  Usually there are many small details that need to be altered before acceptance by an editor. Unfortunately that single change was to delete the relationship between the Player Characters Talos and Hound.  I can understand their reasoning, and didn’t fight them on their request.

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Planar Sites — Biome

Throughout 1998, Dragon Magazine ran a design contest in every issue.  A spell, a type of undead, a magic item, the subject of said contest changed with each issue, but it was open to anyone with an idea and the verve to write it down.  When issue #253 hit the stands, blazoned across the top was a banner reading: “WIN!  The Inner Planes – AD&D Contest”.  Being the obsessed Planescape fanboy that I was — and still am — I knew I wanted to win.  When I read what the contest was, I knew I *had* to win.

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Children of the Night: Demons — Marasmos

Marasmos, Lord of Suppuration

The Planescape setting was ambitious, leveraging itself up as a meta-campaign that encapsulated all the other Advanced Dungeons & Dragons settings into a coherent narrative. That was no easy task, when some settings like Dark Sun and Spelljammer worked very hard at being isolationist.  Even Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms tried to withdraw from the framework set in place by the Planescape setting.  That reluctance was not reciprocated, as the writers of the Planescape setting made herculean efforts to fold not just the rules of the other settings, but their characters, plots, and history.  However, some campaign worlds where exceedingly difficult to work with, especially the Ravenloft setting.

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Cadaver, the Survivor

It’s not uncommon for a writer to re-purpose something he wrote previously that went unused.  Ironically, one character I created found new life in a different setting…

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RPGA Adventures – Heirs of Elemental Evil

In 1997, TSR published Polyhedron #126, and therein ran a one page advertisement for the “RPGA Network Adventure Design Contest `97”.  The RPGA was a part of TSR that concentrated on producing and running adventures for the company’s game lines at conventions, both locally and nationally.  They maintained the ongoing Living Campaigns (after which this blog derives its name),  as well a more one shot adventures.  The purpose of the contest was to generate some new encounters for the voracious fans of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and I took them up on the challenge. However, there were some preliminary rules to which submissions had to adhere:

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Of Sigil and the Sea — The Ditch

 

Map of the Ditch, from "Of Sigil and the Sea", Polyhedron #137I was lucky enough to have a Planescape article accepted by Polyhedron Magazine.  Entitled “Of Sigil and the Sea“, it was published in issue #137.  Imagine my delight when I saw an accompanying map draw by the illustrious Rob Lazzaretti, cartographer of many of the actual campaign setting’s poster maps.  Wizards of the Coast posted a color version of the map on their “Map of the Week” page for the date of 12/20/2001.

Planescape Timeline v1.1 – Post Faction War

Planescape Timeline v1.1 – Post-Sigil

Planescape Timeline v1.1 – Pre-Sigil