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Thread: Star Spawn

  1. #1
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    Default Star Spawn

    Working on the antagonist for an upcoming game, we've made characters but the first session isn't for a few more days. Thought I'd post it here for feedback...

    Concept- The brood of a star, which has come to earth in larval form. It uses its mental powers to dominate the weak-willed or forge an alliance with the ambitious, with the goal of being worshipped as a god.

    Beliefs
    -I will dominate the minds of the weak, they will worship me as a god.
    -I will seduce the ambitious with promises of power.
    Instincts
    -Always take on the form of the divine.
    -Flare up when my true form is exposed.

    Traits
    Celestial Sight, Wreathed in Flame, Spirit Nature, Doppelganger, Gift of Babel, Silent Voice, Wingless Flight, The Tongue

    Star Form (A glowing ball of colorful and brilliant light)
    Terrible Beauty (Make a Wonderment Steel check upon seeing it’s true form for the first time. +1 Ob to rolls in it’s presence due to the blinding light.)
    Dream Parasite (Can enter/shape the dreams of those who sleep nearby. In dreams has access to any knowledge (perception rooted skills) of the dreamer. Once per night can make a Will vs. Will test, if it wins it subtracts the margin of success from targets Will. Lost will is recovered at a rate of one per week if they leave the area.)
    Empathic (Can FoRK Will into Social skills, can help Social skills with Will. When helping in this way, may count test as the helped social skill rather than Will for advancement.)
    Mind-Link (Can forge a mind-link with a character if their player is willing. Can communicate telepathically with linked character as any distance, can help social skills using Empathic, can read surface thoughts.)
    Psychic Duel (Can start a DoW with those in its presence or which it is mind-linked to, even without their permission. May set the changing of BITs as the terms of a duel.)

    Will G4*
    Perception B4*
    Power B4
    Forte B4
    Agility B4
    Speed B4
    *The first Star Spawn the players encounter will be weak and hungry, those with an active link and followers will have a high Will and slightly higher perception.

    Star-wise B5, Astronomy B5, Flare G4
    Flare (As Fire Fan spell, no tax)

    Health B8
    Reflexes B4
    MW B10
    Steel B3

    A couple of thoughts
    -I kept the skill list short because the idea is that it quickly learns the social skills of anyone it forges a link with, and will thus take on a very different character depending on who that is. This list is for a newborn, a mature one would pick up social and knowledge skills through exposure.
    -I wasn't sure how to assign the physical stats since it doesn't do much with it's body, but I do need to be able to calculate its reflexes and MW for if it's attacked. I figured normal human defaults was a good way to go.
    -Any ideas for a good telltale for Doppleganger?

  2. #2
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    Here's my thoughts:
    1, Doppelganger sign should be that the body is faintly luminous, but that that's only noticeable in the dark
    2, being able to add 2-4 dice to every social roll seems like a really really high bonus, especially as any opened social skill will be grey. This thing opens at G2 Persuasion, and adds in 2. AA worshipped version (G7) opens at G3 and adds 4. 7 gray dice without trying, or help from its worshippers, will make mincemeat of the PCs, especially as they're taking +1 Ob to all rolls.
    3, the ability to enter a DoW without recourse for the opponents makes little sense. Does it get to set both terms? What if the PCs choose to escalate to physical conflict? What if they lose, but just act against their beliefs, or wiggle somehow?
    4, if the PCs escalate to magical conflict, this miniature sun will die in the first volley. It has no armour, and any spell will do the trick.
    5, it needs a third belief, and it should hurt the PCs with what it wants.
    6, what is "the area" for Will recovery?

    All in all, I think it goes too far in several directions, but not far enough in others.

    If you want it to be supernatural, give it gray forte and power so it doesn't die easy. Or just some nice armour.
    And take away the ability to do gray damage if you want combat to happen, otherwise PCs will just vanish (but a sorceror or a ranged attacker with spirit weapons will take it down)

    If you want it to be really scary in talky encounters, and have cool mind control powers, then give it the Force of Will spell, and allow it to control minds using that and The Tongue (give it access to carefully rules. And declare that sleeping creatures count as having 0 Will, or let it sap their will first) main benefit: clearer and simpler rules.

    Take out the unique DoW abilities, and tone down its ability to roll umpteen dice socially. Just rely on the magic and the gray dice, anything more makes it boringly unassailable. Cool, but a curbstomp for anything but the oldest of elves.

    If you were to do the above, you'd end up with a creature which was either a threat physically or a dangerous and potent foe who can only truly be slain by heroic weapons. It will be able to quickly subjugate normal people, and when the PCs attack it will be able to sow confusion whilst gravely wounding them. In a DoW it would be formidable (gray dice) but a lucky party might tip the odds if they set things up well.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply,

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    2, being able to add 2-4 dice to every social roll seems like a really really high bonus, especially as any opened social skill will be grey. This thing opens at G2 Persuasion, and adds in 2. AA worshipped version (G7) opens at G3 and adds 4. 7 gray dice without trying, or help from its worshippers, will make mincemeat of the PCs, especially as they're taking +1 Ob to all rolls.
    I'm confused where 2-4 dice is coming from. Just to be clear, it can't help itself. So at G4 Will it would be getting one bonus FoRK die, and give one helping die. At G5 it would give a second helping die, and at G7 it would get a second FoRK die. Basically it acts like it has a skill equal to its Will which counts as a FoRK or Help for any social skill. I thought it would be simpler to just say it could use its Will directly, but maybe it would be less confusing to make it a skill? I got the idea for this based on how Psychology works in Burning Empires.

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    3, the ability to enter a DoW without recourse for the opponents makes little sense. Does it get to set both terms? What if the PCs choose to escalate to physical conflict? What if they lose, but just act against their beliefs, or wiggle somehow?
    This is another idea I got from the Psychology rules in Burning Empires, but maybe there are some differences between the games such that it wouldn't work as well here. It needs some kind of "hard" control power for dominating others after reducing their Will. I liked the idea of changing beliefs because that acts like a "harder" control power against NPCs but a "softer"*one against PCs, but I'm not married to it if you think Force of Will would be simpler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    4, if the PCs escalate to magical conflict, this miniature sun will die in the first volley. It has no armour, and any spell will do the trick.
    I want it to be somewhat vulnerable in a direct physical conflict, relying on its allies to protect it. None of my players have Sorcery, though we do have a Sword Singer who could hurt it up close. That said, I don't want it to be completely anti-climactic if they get into a fight so maybe toughening it up a little would be good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    6, what is "the area" for Will recovery?
    I'm thinking large enough to influence those sleeping in the same building, maybe a function of its Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    If you want it to be supernatural, give it gray forte and power so it doesn't die easy. Or just some nice armour.
    Grey Forte and Power seems a little tougher than I had in mind. What do you think about making its Forte go up with its Will, so the weak ones go down really easily but one with followers could be a little tougher? I'm not averse to giving it armor either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    And take away the ability to do gray damage if you want combat to happen, otherwise PCs will just vanish (but a sorceror or a ranged attacker with spirit weapons will take it down)
    I did not mean to give it the ability to do gray damage. I had thought it needed a special trait to do that, but I see I was mistaken and having a Gray Will plus a sorcerous attack is enough. What do you think about tying the Flare attack to its Forte instead, so that it does black damage but still scales with its power?

    Quote Originally Posted by Why View Post
    If you want it to be really scary in talky encounters, and have cool mind control powers, then give it the Force of Will spell, and allow it to control minds using that and The Tongue (give it access to carefully rules. And declare that sleeping creatures count as having 0 Will, or let it sap their will first) main benefit: clearer and simpler rules.
    Clearer and simpler was one of the things I was hoping for out of posting it here, I'd like to find a way to have it do what it needs to do with less weird rules.
    My only concern about Force of Will is that it doesn't look like it will be able to pull it off, even working carefully. If it reduces its target to Will 1 first, thats an Ob 7 check, working carefully it could only get 8 grey dice which I don't think is enough. I'll crunch some numbers, maybe the odds aren't as bad as I'm imagining.

    What do you think of the Will draining power?

  4. #4
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    I really like the Will draining ability. It conjures up the image of a Sun taking a glowing form, surrounded by hordes of semi-mindless sycophants, with one or two demagogues allied with the Sun, whipping up the chattel for it.

    I like your idea for switching Flare damage to Forte.
    The Sword Singer won't/might not be able to damage it without dying. Wreathed in flame also does Gray damage. Maybe tone that down to scale with Power (so it'll be quite low, but not insignificant.

    Now I get how its DoW mechanics work, I like them much more. +2D is less insurmountable. Until you pair this creature with a Bishop/Zealous convert, at which point it's a match made in heaven.

    The force DoW still isn't awesome, because it slightly warps most of how Burning Wheel works. I think that maybe ruling that it can do it once per time encountered, and that it has a pretty significant consequence for it if it fails, would work.

    I had a thought about the Force of Will still being hard to cast: allow it to gain bonus dice from Dream Parasite. If it has drained 3D Will, then it has +3D for FoW on that creature for the remainder of the night. That gives it 11D vs Ob 7. A 71% success rate.

  5. #5
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    Dominate the weak willed, and form alliances with the ambitious (with the goal to be worshipped as a god) seems to me that the weak willed who encountered a star spawn would gain the Believer trait, while those who have an ambitious lust for power could be granted the Faithful trait. This would allow the Star Spawn to be fed helping dice by the Faithful and Believers in their temple (Star Chamber?) or from those who travel with it.
    The Faithful whose Fate attribute is above exponent six could begin to show more and more signs of a type of "celestial corruption" until their final convertion into a form of pure power (exponent ten) that they were promised in the beginning, They are then sucked into the Star Spawn as nourishment for the spawn.

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