Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arcane Patron Generation and an Obscure Patron

My last blog post spawned a few questions about the half-baked Patron Generator that I posted. I started explaining in the comments, but it probably would do best with an actual example.

+Edgar Johnson +J├╝rgen Mayer +Eadwin Tomlinson

The first patron I wrote for Angels, Daemons and Beings Between was Tareus, an obscure little patron found in an asteroid crater on the Ateo plains. I actually used the generator to drag out some ideas before I developed it. The idea of this generator (and any random generation of content) -- at least for me -- is to get the soup to a slow boil. Especially when I'm sitting down to a blank page with a vague requirement and little context. Tareus wasn't used in that book, so it's a good example of how this whole "generator" came about and what it produced.

The generation tool that I banged together sets up a basic system for determining a patron's reach and influence in relation to other patrons. Some patrons are spirits of a specific grove of bamboo, while others are nearly (or actually) major deities. The table on Tab 1 merely codifies what it means in game terms to be a patron of obscure, petty, minor, etc. reach and influence. The idea of supernatural being power level was cribbed, incidentally, from the Wilderness Hexplorer Revised (random PDF from the internet) which was in turn cribbed from various Judge's Guild books. I was looking for a way to describe lesser powered patrons, and that was most helpful.

So for Tareus, I decided he's an Obscure patron. The second table on Tab 1 gives an indication of what an obscure patron's reach/influence is as well as some indication of game-rule type stuff.

As an obscure patron, Tareus only has 1 or 2 Invoke Patron results (see below), no patron spells, no other known spells, and only a 5% chance to obtain any given spell at any given time. The obscure patron has one Sphere, which is merely an aspect of reality that is intimately tied to the patron... Spheres...

The intention was to create a graduated table of spheres (from Petty to "Concept") that could define the patron in a kind of god-like way. So, like Thor is the god of Thunder, Tareus is closely associated with Fire and Ash. Not directly like a god, but more of a being of that substance, concept, etc. This is more to get your brain going on how the patron appears, interacts with reality, and this probably also informs Invoke Patron results, spells, etc. Anyway, I never got to the graduated part of the Sphere table.

So, Tab 2 is merely a bunch of concepts grouped under a heading. So, for instance, there are Elemental spheres, Geographic, etc. Tareus ended up with aspects of fire and ash, which led me to think of a crater and an alien asteroid inhabited by some being.

The Generator tab (Tab 3) takes the concept of Invoke Patron results and breaks it down into broad concepts. First, an explanation of the table.

Roll Level refers to the level of results on the Invoke Patron table:

Roll Level Invoke Patron Result
1 12-13
2 14-17
3 18-19
4 20-23
5 24-27
6 28-29
7 30-31
8 32+

So, Tareus, as an obscure patron, only has two Invoke Patron results. Meaning if your wizard's Spell Check is 18 or higher, there's no additional result.

The left column of the Invoke Patron results table show broad classes of manifest powers when your patron is invoked. So, Boost might mean an ability is increased, an attack or damage bonus is gained, hit points are increased, etc. Attack and Protection are self-explanatory. Escalation just means that the previous result is enhanced in some way (as seen in any DCC spell). Summoning brings some servant of the patron to the wizard's aid -- attack, defense, whatever. And Control is the class of mind-affecting results: charm, etc.

You can roll on this table or just use it to get the juices flowing.

I created the classes of results by taking all of the existing patrons in the DCC book and breaking down the Invoke Patron results, stacking them, sorting them and classifying them. Deep deep nerd shit. I'm seriously surprised that a woman ever kissed me, much less married me and conceived children with me...

Back to Tareus, as a being of ash and flame, I chose to give him an attack and a defensive result for his two invoke patron results.

Also consider that if your patron is less powerful than the "standard" patron (so anything less than "major" using this system) then reduce the number of Patron Taint and custom Spellburn results, as well.

And when considering reach/influence of the patron -- think about its whole concept. Tareus came to the world in an asteroid and his power is generally confined to the area of the crater where it landed. However, should the wizard create a special container from the asteroid and conduct a ritual, the wizard has a handy "god in a bowl" that can extend Tareus' reach. This quickly becomes a built in motivation for the patron -- using its servants to increase its power, influence and reach.

So, this is Tareus, in all his might and glory. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's a Patron Generation

Back when I wrote for Angels, Daemons and Beings Between, a book chock full of patrons for DCC, I started out by analyzing the extant patrons in the core book and the few fan made ones that existed. I did this by stacking all the like results and pulling out some common data for each: Power, Type, Duration, and any "specials" which were results or extra effects that didn't fit. This, surprisingly, produced a bit of a pattern, at least to my eyes.

Taking that data, I built a rosetta stone to randomly generate Invoke Patron results for a given patron. I used it a little bit and didn't necessarily like the results, but the data pattern was still really useful in thinking about how to build something as complex as a patron. It might actually be useful for building spells, as well (I haven't thought about this), but +David Baity asked about spells, and I thought of this tool.

Anyway, I pitched it up on Google Drive for anyone that wants to see some of the behind the scenes madness that I started out with to come up with 20 or so patrons, and still use to some degree, today. What I found: Making Patrons interesting, unique and, more importantly, playable, was not easy. But, ended up being fun.

My suggestion: Don't make a patron outside the context of your campaign. Think about how that supernatural being, competing with various other supernatural beings in the world for servants, fits in that world -- and how does it compare to others. They should not all be at the same "power level." And they should NOT follow a pattern. So, forget I said that.

Patron Worksheet -- Enjoy!