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Author Topic: Ancient Stones of Ancient Power: Alternate rules for Menhirs, Dolmens and Tumuli  (Read 4112 times)
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Glacialis
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« on: November 04, 2006, 06:06:26 PM »

NOTE: I have yet to draw up a table similar to the one from Fury showing how new configurations would work. Will do tonight.

Fury of Shadow, p34-35, describes standing ancient stones and burial chambers in a variety of configurations. Assuming "alethar" is a typo and they meant "eldethar", even the eldethar didn't quite understand these sites. Later in Fury, there are three feats that let a spellcaster draw upon these stones for power. While these sites can technically be found anywhere, I quote: "Throughout Erethor, but most commmonly in the north, ancient stones stand in lonely glades where a sense of hidden power pervades the air." Unless you have a campaign focused in the north, it is unlikely that any player would take all three feats. It was initially the thought of making these feats more useful that led me to this post. In it, I will rework the mechanics of standing stones and the feats that allow one to safely draw upon them. I will present original mechanics as well as my alterations to them.

As much as I would love to type out the page that describes these concepts -- wouldn't be too much work -- I don't know if FFG would appreciate me posting it. So unless I hear a "go ahead" from FFG, you'll have to get the book. Wink


Here be Rocks

First, we define what sorts of things you might find. The book has listed menhirs, dolmens, and tumuli in configurations of lone menhir, line of menhirs, single dolmen, one tumulus, and circle of stones.

An excellent visual reference (with words, too!) of menhirs, dolmens and tumuli.
http://megaliths.sherwoodonline.de/intro.html

And s'more articles.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Megalithic_Culture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaliths

To sum up, if you're too lazy to check out the link above:
Menhirs - standing stones
Dolmens - two upright stones wide enough to form a small hallway, topped by a horizontal stone; put a few of these together and you have a tomb.
Tumuli - artificial mounds used for burial purposes, the entrance to which is usually two upright stones topped with a horizontal

Potential

I think there should be more configurations, with certain arrangements having greater effects. Here's the original. Normal stones are 8' high. Spell energy and Dirge effects are altered as the stone size is. Smaller stones have half effects, and large have up to twice. So the book lists between 50%-200% as being possible ranged, and I agree with those numbers. The Dirge diameter has been converted to a radius.

Standing Stones (Fury of Shadow)
Monolith Type      Spell Energy      Recovery      Radius of Dirge
Menhir11/arc5’
Line of Menhirs44/arc20’
Dolmen84/arc40’
Tumulus162/arc80’
Circle of Stones321/day160’

I am assuming that the recover rates for Dolmen and Tumulus have been switch, and will continue with that assumption.

Somber

Now, the Dirge. I want to spice this up, but here's the original.

Fury: The Dirge of Ancient Stones: The area surrounding the haunted stones is affected by a fear spell that extends to the distance indicated in the table above. Creatures within the area of effect who fail a DC14 Will save become panicked for six rounds. A successful save indicates that the creature is shaken for one round.


So we've got four existing mechanics aspects of menhirs, dolmens and tumuli: Arrangement (amount of SE + Dirge), Variation (50%-200%), Dirge Effects, and the Draw on Power feat series. I agree with the variation in size, but I want to add to the possible arrangements, effects of the Dirge, and the feats.

With all that out of the way...


Ancient Stones

Think of Stonehenge aka "Circle of Stones/Menhirs" from Fury. That's scary stuff in Eredane -- dang it, I want to type the rest of the bits from the book to give proper atmosphere! Grr. Why are circles so special? Who knows, but I bet they're not the only shapes. Line is a good one, but how about "Shape" for triangles, squares, circles? And what about complex arrangements like patterns of lines, circles, squares and triangles? Let's call them "Complex". Does it matter what sorts of things make up the shapes? You bet it does. Standing stones are probably the most common, but if you see a circle of tumuli you'd best be on your way. Some real world sites have been proven to act as surprisingly accurate calendars, with some really funky layouts. I don't think there's anything more impressive than complex and strange arrangements when you look at sites on this planet, so I'm going with those as the top.

We now have three factors that determine the not-so-atmospheric bits of these odd stones. What the components are, the size of the components, and their arrangement. The Dirge and spell energy effects will be derived from these.

Components themselves are already defined and Google has shown me nothing new. Standing stone (menhir), stone tomb (dolmen), burial mound (tumuli).

Size we have already determined. Roughly 8' in height, ranging up to 16'-ish and down to 4'-ish. I don't think you'll find a tumuli or dolmen at 4', but I can't think of a reason why you'd never find one. I will also suggest that the more decorative or pristine the component, the large in "size" it should be considered. Bare stone should be default, but if particularly damaged, as little as 50%.

Arrangements are easily done. Lone, Line, Shape and Complex.

Using the table from Fury I have derived and will assume the following. The GM should remember that these numbers are flexible. Just because you have 7 menhirs in a line, doesn't mean you HAVE to have the formation be 14 SE. Math in RPGs is meant to give you a ballpark if you, the GM, so desire.

Components:
Menhirs - +1 SE - Stones marking...well, who knows?
Dolmen - +8 SE -  Of spiritual significance in the past, their power continues to resonate even now. They may be burial chambers, storage for important artifacts, for mundane items, or they may contain nothing at all and be of ceremonial value.
Tumulus - +16 SE - Due to the direct connection to Aryth through the earth, these are significantly more potent than Dolmen. The possibilities of what may lay inside are the same for Dolmen.

Effects:
Dirge - 5' radius per point of SE.
Recovery - 1/arc/4 SE.

The recovery rate may in no way be accelerated without equally ancient items, ceremonies or GM say so.

Arrangements:

Line - 100%-200% SE per component. This assumes that the Line of Menhirs in Fury is 2-4 Menhirs. It may be a line of stones a mile long but if it's not a literal line, call it a Shape.

Shape - 200%-400% SE per component. This assumes that the Circle of Stones in Fury is 8-16 Menhirs. Could have two Menhirs supporting a third across the top and that counts as three, however you want to work it.

Complex - 400%-800% SE per component. There are two ways to get the numbers here. You count each component individually and apply the 400%-800%. Or, since we're talking about a combination of single components, lines and shapes, just add up their SE values and double, triple or quadruple the value of the arrangement until you get it near 400%-800% of its component value. If this is confusing, I'll try to clarify but I think it's going to be GM artistry rather than hard numbers. There might be a central feature or there might not be. If there is, that's probably the best place to draw SE from. Or the most dangerous. I'm not sure whether individual arrangements should be able to be drained separately, but I'm leaning towards saying that you can't. There is no reference to this layout in the book, but drawing from real world sites we know that they were very important. They may be all together, spread out over a few miles or even further. Hmm. If spread out, try using the values for what's in the immediate area with a bonus.

The Dirge of Ancient Stones
The most powerful component in an arrangement determines the level of fear that may result, while the arrangement of components determines the difficulty to resist the feelings of dread and Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. On a successful save, the lesser effect is all that is felt. On a failed save, the greater effect lasts as long as the creature is within the area of the Dirge ends and for 10 rounds after. Those that are immune to [fear] effects must still make a save when confronted by an arrangement containing a Tumulus, though the effect is two degrees less (as a Menhir).

Base Dirge DC is 10. Radius of its effects is purely dependant on the total spell energy of the arrangement: +5' rad/SE

Menhir - Frightened within Dirge +10 rounds/1 minute after; Shaken 1 round
Dolmen - Panicked within Dirge +10 rounds/1 minute after; Shaken 1 round
Tumulus - Panicked within Dirge +100 rounds/10 minutes after; Shaken within Dirge

The above effects may be modified by later feats.

Arrangement contains a: Menhir DC +0; Dolmen DC +4; Tumulus DC +8
Line - DC +2
Shape - DC +6
Complex - DC +10
Smaller - DC -1 to -2
More powerful - DC +2 to +4

I figured that this little system can handle a lot, but that the upper end without GM fiat is DC32. That should keep people away for a very long time, but the rewards if properly tapped are immense.

Speaking of which...

Ancient Power

Besides scary landmarks, what are these things for? I'm glad you asked my friend, because your PCs will both love and hate you for these scary power nexi. That's right, as if you couldn't guess by the inclusion of numerous references to spell energy. Each arrangement acts as an artificial power nexus. Now, Fury makes no mention of using these places to create items, but I see no problem with it. The process will just be very slow. I think each GM will come up with different reasons for the existance and power of these sites so I don't see a point in me giving them affinities. For my game, they will have none.

Here are the feats from the book, courtesy of Darkness Falls.

Quote
Draw on Earth Power: Minor [General]
Prerequisites: Wisdom 13+, Concentration.
Benefit: While within the sphere of influence of an ancient menhir or dolmen, you may tap the arcane energy that is concentrated by the old stones. You may utilize up to your Wisdom bonus worth of spell energy from this source each day. You may not access the arcane energy collected by more powerful monoliths (tumuli and standing stones), which you find overwhelming and dangerous.
Source: Fury of Shadow, p. 148

Draw on Earth Power: Lesser [General]
Prerequisites: Wisdom 15+, Concentration, Draw on Earth Power: Minor.
Benefit: While within their sphere of influence, you may tap the arcane energy that is concentrated by ancient menhirs, dolmens, and tumuli. You may utilize up to twice your Wisdom bonus worth of spell energy from these sources each day. The arcane flows of the mighty stone circles are still beyond your reach.
Source: Fury of Shadow, p. 148

Draw on Earth Power: Greater [General]
Prerequisites: Wisdom 17+, Concentration, Draw on Earth Power: Minor, Draw on Earth Power: Lesser.
Benefit: While within its sphere of influence, you may tap the arcane energy from any ancient monolith and utilize up to three times your Wisdom bonus worth of spell energy from these sources each day.
Source: Fury of Shadow, p. 149

I dislike requiring feats to access these places of power. How about this.

You can attempt to siphon off of just about any arrangement, but you can only safely channel spell energy equal to half your character level rounded up per day. You may channel your full character level's worth per day, but this requires a Will save with DC equal to the Dirge save +4. Success allows use of the spell energy and hits your primary spellcasting ability score for two points of ability damage that heals at the rate of one per week (twice that if at complete rest). Failure drops your primary spellcasting ability score to 8 for a number of weeks equal to that ability's undamaged modifier. Failure by 5 or more makes this effect permanent, as well as making the character Insane as the spell. Creating magic items takes twice as long.

(I'm definitely up for suggestions on this part, since I'm insure about the numbers.)

Yes, Legates may draw from these places as well, but only if they possess Sup the Flow. They may power any spell that they have memorized or spontaneously cast at a cost of 2 SE per spell level.

The following feats modify everything I just said.

Quote
Sup the Flow [General]
Prerequisites: Wisdom 13+, Concentration 8 ranks
Benefit: You are able to more safely channel the arcane energy that is concentrated by ancient menhirs, dolmens and tumuli. While within the effect of the Dirge of Ancient Stones, you may use spell energy up to your character level per day, which may be used for spellcasting or magical item creation. Magical item creation proceeds at the normal rate for power nexi. Though you do not understand what these sites means, you are familiar with them. The effects of the Dirge are one level less for you, which may reduce the effects to zero. You do not suffer the +4 DC modifier when siphoning energy. There are alternate ways to use this energy as well. Any living character with this feat may gain a +2 bonus to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence or Charisma for one hour by channeling 1 point of spell energy from the monoliths. This is a full-round action. A character may be under the effect of a number of applications of this ability equal to their Intelligence modifier (minimum 1), but may only safely be affected a number of times equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum 1). Beyond this, make a saving throw as if you had channeled more spell energy than is safe. Damage is applied to the ability that was to be increased.

Drink of Ancient Might [General]
Prerequisites: Wisdom 15+, Concentration 15 ranks, Sup the Flow
Benefit: Your ability to channel ancient arcane energies is greatly improved. These stones hold little fear for you, though many mysteries remain. The effects of the Dirge are two levels less for you, which may reduce the effects to zero. While within the effects of the Dirge, you may use spell energy up to twice your character level per day, which may be used for spellcasting or magical item creation. Magical item creation proceeds at an accelerated rate, 150% the normal rate for power nexi. Your saving throw to siphon the energy receives a +4 bonus. There are alternate ways to use this energy as well. Any living character with this feat may gain a +2 bonus to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence or Charisma for one hour by channeling 1 point of spell energy from the monoliths. This is a full-round action. A character may be under the effect of a number of applications of this ability equal to three times their Intelligence modifier (minimum 1), but may only safely be affected a number of times equal to twice their Wisdom modifier (minimum 1). Beyond this, make a saving throw as if you had channeled more spell energy than is safe. Upon failing, the character's Wisdom and the ability that was to be increased are reduced by 1 per round until they reach 0. This damage requires one week per point to heal, if the character survives.


Ancient Peril
Quote from: Fury of Shadow
However, while many of the menhirs and dolmens still thrum with vital power, the druids say that others have been "forgotten" and warn that they should be avoided. The Whisper is quiet in the glades that hold such stones, but the spirits of the Lost gather thickly around the ancient monoliths: for those with the sight to see, a swirling maelstrom of ghostly forms that silently mouth screams and warnings.

I'll leave most of this up to the GM. I don't think that merely draining an arrangement of stones will destroy its power, but as Legates collect the essence power nexi and drain them dry, it might just be possible in this Last Age. Some earlier cataclysm must have destroyed the potency of these places, yet they still hold some even more mysterious power. To attract the Lost like that? I don't have any ideas though I'd certainly love to hear yours



Aaaand done.

As with all of my other programming and gaming efforts, I try to make my projects modular so you can add, alter and remove what you wish without disrupting the rest of it.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2006, 06:21:45 PM by Glacialis » Logged
smeagol
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2006, 03:52:54 AM »

Nice job, Glacialis!

I personally use the "ancient stones" only as plot devices, with actually almost no rules(except setting a mysterious, dark and mysterious atmosphere), since the PCs usually will have no way to figure really what is the true potential of the ancient stones anyway.

Have a cookie.
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Nifelhein
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2006, 08:12:15 AM »

Maaan this is huge... and messy. i will have to read through this carefully, gonna print it first, will return with comments once I am done with it. Wink
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Glacialis
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2006, 09:34:28 AM »

Thanks guys. Smiley Smeagol you have a good point -- if they're mostly plot devices, why have three feats to use their power? I'm running a game that's going to be in the Veradeen for quite a while, with a quick run down to chat with Aradil. Then, back up to the Veradeen. So for me, this is great.

I know it's messy, but it was done all in one sitting with very little editing. I tried to go though the thought processes on paper too since I wanted to kick this out in one day rather than sitting on it and rewriting a few times. I will make a followup post with only the results.
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Bleak Knight
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2006, 09:47:54 AM »

Looks good. Too complex for my desires (I just set SE, recovery and save DC as needed), but you've got some good ideas.

I assume you want this tied into the item you requested?
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Glacialis
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2006, 09:51:33 AM »

Actually I think you should go off of the original material, not the stuff I tack onto it. The links might give you some visuals that might help, though. One could easily do as you do and just set the values, but I've had a fascination with megaliths for many years now.

One of the things I wanted to see in game was a Legate tapping extra power to defeat the PCs, power that should be used very carefully. He pumps up his ability scores and ends up scarycrazy, and the PCs suddenly have a very difficult encounter where they had a desperate but manageable Legate before. Grin
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Bleak Knight
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2006, 09:56:35 AM »

I can dig scarycrazy. Smiley
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