July 01, 2004

Picking a Breed

Your character's Breed is basically their animal ancestor. All Beasts were genetically engineered from ancient, pre-Apocalypse animal species. The species that you pick will give you special Edges, Flaws and other adjustments to your character. It will also grant you a default rating in certain skills that your breed is especially good at.

The Beasts appeared in three distinct "generations", with long gaps between each one. Naturally, they went on to have children of their own, but the term "generations" is still commonly used to refer to the three distinct types of breeds.

The first generation of Beasts consisted of large and powerful animals capable of pacifying the Verde and making it safe for cubs and smaller Beasts. These Beasts are physically powerful, but still move on all fours and lack hands. Since they can't use many tools and devices, they still need the aid of the later generations.

The second generation was of small and agile animals with dextrous paws who could use tools relatively easily. They are largely similar to their ancestors, just a bit larger, but nowhere near the size of the first generation beasts. Most of them can stand on their hind feet and walk around, but have to drop to all fours to run. While they can use ancient devices, they sometimes have problems because their hands are smaller than human hands.

The third generation of Beasts is the most like Man. These breeds are fully humanoid and stand upright. They have human-like hands and can use ancient tools and devices with ease... provided that they know how. Many of them see their kind as the natural inheritors of Man's authority, since they are clearly cast in His image.

Optional Rule: Other BreedsThe basic game assumes that PCs will be limited to choosing from the standard breeds, but other breeds exist in the setting. If your GM is willing, you may be allowed to take a non-standard breed, such as one from a foreign area or an entirely new one. If you want a "rare" breed (meaning one that isn't currently written up), you'll have to create it. The standard breeds are designed to be fairly well balanced against each other, so they should be used as a reference for making a new species.

Posted by Kiz at 02:47 AM | Comments (0)

The Breeds of Beast

Here are the breeds of Beast which are found in the Verde. There are other breeds elsewhere, but these are the ones normally available as PCs.

First Generation Beasts (Wolves, Cougars, Bears and Oxen)

Wolves (total 9.5)
Free Edges: Echoing Cry (1/2), Keen Nose (1), Pack Hunter (1), Very Fast (1)
Innate Flaws: No Hands (-4)
Starting Skills: Awareness (d10), Endurance (d10), Stealth (d10), Tracking (d10), Wilderness (d10)

Wolves tend to be gregarious, social folk and rarely deal well with continued isolation. They are not as physically powerful as other First Generation breeds, but they make up for it through cooperation and clever tactics. Their mournful howls keep packs in touch even at great distances.

It's a special point of pride for most Wolves that the First Folk (supposedly the very first clan of Beasts to enter the world and the guardians of the Sacred Hills) are Wolves.

Cougars (total 8)
Free Edges: Big +1 (1), Night Vision (2), Very Fast (1)
Innate Flaws: No Hands (-4)
Starting Skills: Acrobatics (d10), Awareness (d10), Stealth (d10), Wilderness (d10)
Fiercely independent and largely self-sufficient hunters, Cougars are more powerful than Wolves but rarely work well in large groups. A Cougar is generally happier with a small group of close friends than being part of a large pack. Even when they form into clans, they generally live far enough apart that they don't feel crowded. Most of them hate living in densely populated cities.

Bears (total 8)
Free Edges: Big +2 (2), Bloodlust (2)
Innate Flaws: No Hands (-4)
Starting Skills: Endurance (d10), Herbalism (d10), Wilderness (d10), Wrestling (d10)
While these huge grizzlies aren't as fast as the other first generation Beasts, they are immensely strong and powerful. The Bear clan known as the Mountain Fangs actually claims that they were the first Beasts and that the First Folk tricked their ancestors into committing a heinous crime so that they could take their rightful place instead. This brought down a curse upon the Bears such that they would always be ruled by their anger. While only the Mountain Fangs still blame the First Folk for their condition, even modern Bears still suffer from berserk rages when injured or angered.

Musk-Oxen (total 7)
Free Edges: Big +2 (2), Very Fast (1), Herd Defense (1), Cold Adaptation (1)
Innate Flaws: No Hands (-4)
Starting Skills: Endurance (d10), Herbalism (d10), Wilderness (d10)
These massive hooved Beasts sometimes seem out of place amongst their kin. Commonly referred to as just Oxen, Musk-oxen have long, heavy coats that leave them quite comfortable in even the coldest of winters. In fact, during the summers they sometimes suffer from heatstroke during the hottest days. Few predators can threaten a herd of Oxen, as they are skilled at forming an impenetrable defensive line around the weak and vulnerable. During the winter months, when heavy snowfalls hinder the travel of other breeds, the Oxen are still active and often act as messengers for less snow-worthy Beasts.

Second Generation Beasts (Mice, Squirrels, Bats and Otters)

Mice (total 11)
Free Edges: Small -2 (2)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Awareness (d8), Burrowing (d8), Contortionist (d8), Craft (d8), Stealth (d8), Thievery (d8)

Most Beasts think of Mice as meek and placid, but really they're just very cautious around larger creatures. Among themselves they can be extremely vicious, although they rarely fight to the death. Unlike most Beasts, they prefer to live underground either in burrows of their own creation or in Man-made Deeps. Many suffer from actual Agoraphobia and hate being out in the open but most are willing to travel above ground.

Mice are extremely skilled craftsmen, and their clever hands produce a large proportion of all of the woven goods in the Verde. They are a gregarious and chatty folk; it's a rare Mouse who is actively unfriendly to strangers.


Squirrels (total 11)
Free Edges: Small -2 (2)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Acrobatics (d10), Awareness (d6), Herbalism (d8), Stealth (d8), Thievery (d8), Wilderness (d8)
Much more acrobatic than Mice, Squirrels prefer to live in the treetops. They are very skilled climbers, often able to travel from tree to tree along branches that would break under the weight of a larger Beast. They tend to live in smaller groups than Mice and are often loners.

Bats (total 11.5)
Free Edges: Flight (2), Keen Ears (1), Night Vision (2), Silent Speech (1), Small -2 (2)
Innate Flaws: High Metabolism (-1)
Starting Skills: Acrobatics (d8), Awareness (d8), Wilderness (d8)
Envied by many other Beasts for their ability to fly, Bats have a privileged position as the fastest messengers in the Verde. Combined with their keen senses and ability to see in conditions of minimal light, they make extremely effective scouts, but their high metabolic rate means that they have to eat about twice as much as other Beasts of their size.

Some Bats look down upon their land-bound cousins, but most realize how difficult it would be for them to survive on their own. Their light-weight bodies are comparatively frail, making them easy prey for any predators that do manage to catch them on the ground. Because of this, most Bats prefer to nest hanging upside down from some high place difficult to reach without wings.


Otters (total 8.0)
Free Edges: Small -1 (1), Water Adaptation (1)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Herbalism (d8), Swimming (d12,d4), Wilderness (d8)
If Bats rule the sky, then Otters rule the waters. Fast and graceful in the water, baby Otters generally learn to swim before they learn to walk. The few Otters who live in dry areas tend to long for open waters and take every opportunity to swim. They are extremely skilled at detecting poisons in the water, which is good; it doesn't take much oil (or similar sludge) to ruin the insulating effect of their fur.

Otters are notorious for their playful attitudes and light hearts, but in times of crisis they generally become as grim and serious as any other Beast in danger.


Third Generation Beasts (Hyenas, Lions, Elephants and Cheetahs)

Hyenas (total 7.5)
Free Edges: Echoing Cry (1/2), Improved Bite (1), Night Vision (2), Pack Hunter (1), Scavenger (1)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Awareness (d6), Endurance (d6)

Fierce and independent as a whole but gregarious amongst themselves, Hyenas tend to chafe under the leadership of any breed but their own. They are skilled hunters and scavengers and are notable for their ability to eat even rotting meat without harm. Their powerful jaws can even chew bone, allowing them to devour their prey completely. They are notable as being the only Beasts able to survive by eating creatures and plants from the Blight.

Lions (total 6.5)
Free Edges: Big +1 (+2 for males), Echoing Cry (1/2), Night Vision (2), Pack Hunter (1)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Awareness (d6), Stealth (d6) [females receive Wilderness d6 as well]
Fierce and proud but prone to infighting, Lions prize both independence and loyalty to the group at the same time. The males are generally bigger and lazier than the females. It's common for a pride to have a male Alpha but a female Lorekeeper, with the Lorekeeper being the power behind the throne.

Moreso than most other breeds, Lions often settle internal conflicts with hand-to-hand combat, usually wrestling. The loser submits and the winner gets their way. These conflicts rarely end in serious harm; low-ranking lions who injure or cripple a fellow Beast in such a combat will often be cast out of the pride, and they know it.


Elephants (total 7.5)
Free Edges: Big +2 (2), Echoing Cry (1/2), Keen Ears (1), Prehensile Trunk (1), Tusks (1)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Endurance (d6), Herbalism (d6)
While Elephants are enormously strong and possess human-like hands, their massive size actually hinders their ability to use ancient human devices. Their fingers are often too large to use buttons or triggers, at least not without first modifying the device. Furthermore, since they walk upright they have lost a lot of their ancestors' ability to travel great distances.

Elephants are herbivores and require an enormous amount of roughage to survive. Most Elephants live in small families, often as part of a mixed-breed clan or tribe. There are very few all-Elephant tribes... they have too much trouble finding enough food to feed everyone for it to be practical. Elephants tend to be very soft-spoken and polite, but they can be very dangerous when crossed.


Cheetahs (total 8)
Free Edges: Burst of Speed (2), Keen Ears (1), Keen Eyes (1), Night Vision (2)
Innate Flaws: None
Starting Skills: Awareness (d6), Stealth (d6)
Over a short burst, even first generation Beasts can't match a Cheetah for pure speed. They are very skilled and independent hunters, sneaking up to close range with their prey, then running them down. Tribes and clans tend to consist of small, nuclear families scattered over a wide area.

Even the most well-fed of Cheetahs tend to be thin and lanky due to their metabolic rate. Most are quiet and thoughtful folk, preferring their own company to that of large groups.

[Cost note: Right now I'm assuming that a d6 is worth 1, a d10 is 2, and Edges are either 1 or 2. The totals are just rough guesses at the moment, since the values of various Edges may change. My original version said that a starting skill was always worth 1, regardless of how big it was... that may change. The idea is to eventually use these values to balance out the races. I want them all to be roughly equal, instead of using the Ironclaw method of having them cost different amounts.]

Posted by Kiz at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2004

Example Edges

Big (Minor, Restricted): this Edge indicates that your breed is simply bigger than other breeds of Beast. If you don't have Big or Small, then your breed is roughly human-sized.

Big gives you a lot of bonuses and penalties. Add your Big rating to your Muscles die whenever you use it. Unfortunately, you also have to subtract it from the following skills: Acrobatics, Contortionist, Craft, Stealth, Swimming and Thievery. These adjustments happen all of the time, so you'll probably just want to write them next to the ratings in question.

Big can also penalize you under certain other circumstances. It's subtracted from your ability to use certain technological devices (ones where your oversized fingers would have difficulty using them), although you may be able to have them modified to accomodate your larger hands. Similarly, armor and food is liable to be more expensive.

Finally, it's subtracted from your defense rolls in ranged combat even if you aren't dodging (if you are dodging, just apply the penalty once). Big targets are simply easier to hit.

Burst of Speed (Major, Restricted): your breed is capable of incredible bursts of speed for a very brief period. You can use this ability to grant you a whopping +6 bonus to a single chase test or to add an extra d12+1 to a charge attack, but afterwards you won't be able to use this ability again until after you've had a chance to eat and rest for at least one hour.

Herd Defender (Minor, Restricted): your breed travels in herds and you instinctively know how to aid each other when defending against such attacks. You receive an extra d8 to your defense rolls against Melee attacks if you have a defending ally on one side and an extra d12 if you have one on both sides.

[For normal characters, this bonus is d6 for one ally and d8 for two.]

Improved Stat (Major): one of your stat dice is increased by a single level.

Keen Ears (Minor): you receive a +2 bonus to all Listen tests. You can also hear sounds too high or low pitched for normal Beasts.

Keen Eyes (Minor): you receive a +2 bonus to all Spot tests. You can make out small details (such as writing) at ranges that other Beasts cannot.

Keen Nose (Minor): you receive a +2 bonus to all Smell tests. You can even track normal creatures by their scent alone, which normal Beasts cannot.

Keen Taste (Minor): you receive a +4 bonus to all Taste tests, such as rolls to notice toxins in food or water or to identify chemicals by taste. You get a roll to detect even normally "tasteless" chemicals.

Night Vision (Major): so long as there is at least minimal lighting, you can see in the dark, ignoring penalties of up to -3. Your eyes are also extremely reflective and seem to glow if light is shined in them.

Pack Hunter (Minor, Restricted): your breed hunts in groups, and you instinctively know how to take advantage of it. You can include additional dice with all Melee attacks based upon how many allies you have aiding you against the same target. The bonus is d6 for one ally, d10 for two, d12 & d4 for three, d12 & d8 for four and 2d12 for five or more.

[For normal characters, the benefit is d4 for one, d6 for 2, d8 for 3, d10 for 4 and d12 for 5+.]

Psychic Power (Minor/Major): this Edge grants your character a new Psychic Power. This is a special skill, named after the Power chosen, which represents your skill at using that Power. A Psychic Skill starts with no dice.

This edge can be taken multiple times if desired; each time it grants you access to a new psychic power and a new psychic skill to use it. Your first Psychic Power is a Major Edge. Additional powers are Minor Edges. Someone without this Edge has no Psychic Powers or Psychic Skills at all.

See the Psychic Powers section for a description of the various powers available and how to use them.

Small (Minor, Restricted): the opposite of Big, having one or more levels of Small indicates that your breed is notably smaller than others. If you don't have Big or Small, then your breed is roughly human-sized.

Small gives you a lot of bonuses and penalties. First, it subtracts from your Muscles die whenever you roll it. Apply it as a bonus to the following skills: Acrobatics, Contortionist, Craft, Stealth, Swimming and Thievery. These adjustments apply all of the time, so it's probably easiest to write them down next to the ratings in question.

Similar to Big, sometimes you'll be penalized when your hands are just too small to effectively use some devices (standard-sized firearms, in particular, will generally have too much recoil for you). Armor and food are generally less expensive (although not as much as you might think; small critters often have to eat a lot more in comparison to their body-weight).

Finally, whenever you are rolling defense dice against a ranged attack, you can add your Small rating as a bonus to the roll even if you aren't dodging (if you are dodging, the bonus still only applies once).

Posted by Kiz at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Example Flaws

High Metabolism (Minor): your character's metabolism is faster than normal. You need to eat twice as much as normal for a Beast your size.

No Hands (Dramatic, Restricted): your breed simply doesn't have hands. You can manipulate objects with your mouth or paws, but without thumbs (or even agile fingers), there are many things you simply can't do. Penalties range from -2 for actions where hands would help, but aren't essential to -4 for actions where hands are vital, to -8 where the task is practically impossible otherwise.

Phobia (Minor/Major): your character is deathly afraid of something. You will avoid contact with the source of your fear whenever possible. Whenever you are forced to interact with it, you have to roll a Willpower test (with the difficulty depending upon how strongly present the object of your fear is) to avoid freezing up or retreating. Even when you succeed, you'll often be at a -1 penalty due to distraction.

Whether this is a Minor or Major flaw depends upon what you are afraid of and how often it is likely to interfere with your life. Being terrified of something that ought to frighten you is more minor than being scared of something beneficial.

Some examples are:

  • Open Spaces (Major): you are afraid of open spaces and hate being exposed to the sky. If you have to travel in the open, stick as close as possible to walls or trees. Never go out into the middle of a flat, open area.
  • Fire (Minor): you are afraid of fire. A campfire or candle won't bother you so long as it remains under control, but uncontrolled fires terrify you.
  • Psychic Powers (Minor): you can't stand it when other people use psychic powers on you. Sendings terrify you and even Empathic Healing seems like a horrific thing to undergo. This doesn't apply to powers that you use on yourself, or powers that other people use on themselves, just the idea of someone else using a power on you.

Radiation Blindness (Major): unlike most creatures, Beast senses can pick up signs of radioactivity. Their eyes perceive it as a faint green glow, their nasal passages burn when there is radioactive dust in the air, and their very skin crawls when something dangerously radioactive touches them. This helps keep them alive in the wastes. A Beast with this flaw loses this ability completely. This can be quite lethal, because by the time you can feel the damage being done by radiation, it's usually much too late to save yourself.

Posted by Kiz at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

Rending

The power of Rending is the ability to disrupt flesh or other materials by touch. It was the first Gift manifested by the Beasts and proved instrumental in driving away the horrors that were ravaging the Verde. First generation Beasts tend to use Rending more than their fellows since they can't wield normal weapons.

Invoking RendingInvoking Rending can take up to a full-turn action. A really good roll can reduce the time required, but only the most skilled of users can depend on that. Roll Spirit & Rending.

ResultEffect
Botchyou waste a full action but fail. You cannot try again until after you have gotten a good night's rest.
Failureyou waste a full action trying to invoke it, but fail.
Partial Success Rending is invoked, but it takes a full action and will only last until the end of the next combat round.
Successthe character can choose between taking a half-action to invoke it for one round, or they can take a full action to invoke it for the rest of the scene.
Critical Successthe character can choose between taking a free action to invoke it for one round, or a half-action to invoke it for the scene.
Extraordinary Successthe character can invoke it for the scene as a free action.

Once Rending has been successfully invoked, the character can include their Rending dice with the damage dice for any successful hit with a natural weapon (including plain old punches and kicks). They can even choose to lightly touch a foe (which would normally inflict no damage) and just roll their Rending dice. Even while it's active, doing damage with Rending requires a conscious act; you can still pick up items, scratch your head, touch a friend, etc., without using it.

When Rending is pushed, the normal effect (include your Rending dice with damage) works even when using a melee weapon. If you strike someone with a natural weapon, your Rending dice now inflict damage separately from your regular damage dice. Roll regular damage normally (not including your Rending dice). Afterwards, you'll roll your Rending dice vs the target's Soak, ignoring their armor dice. Even if your regular attack bounces off of them harmlessly, your Power may tear apart their flesh anyway.

Finally, Rending can be double-pushed by pushing again while it is still active. This grants you a +4 bonus to your Rending damage if you're using a natural weapon, allows you to roll your Rending dice separately even if using a melee weapon, and allows you to include your unmodified Rending dice with the damage of a thrown weapon (there is no way to make Rending work through a projectile weapon like a bow or firearm).

While the effects of invoking Rending are normally invisible to the naked eye, when you double-push this Power folks will actually be able to see a faint, flickering aura around your body and you will no longer be able to touch objects with your hands and feet without damaging them. Even your footprints will be burned into the ground.

Posted by Kiz at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)