Jun 01 2016

Someone to Overwatch Over Me

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DVaGneech and TracerBlitz by the-gneech on DeviantArt

Taking a little break from Ghostbusters [1] to get into Overwatch. This is a fun action-oriented online game from Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft [2]) which is being described as a “hero shooter.”

What’s a “hero shooter”? I have to admit I barely understand the term myself. The shooter part is easy– the controls and interface are standard FPS. The “hero” part apparently refers to the fact that instead of controlling a single player avatar or character, you choose from a variety of characters depending on the needs of the team and the situation. So if your team needs a damage dealer to lead an assault, you might choose the jetpack-boosting soldier, but if they need to defend a point you might choose the sniping archer.

Overwatch has 21 characters currently, broadly grouped into “offense,” “defense,” and “support,” with subcategories of “tank,” “builder,” and “sniper.” Gameplay is fast and woolly: you are grouped up with five other players (either friends you’ve pre-grouped with or randomly-selected players of a similar level/rank) and tossed into an arena against a team of six other randomly-selected players (or AI foes of choosable difficulty). There are basically two missions currently: conquer waypoints, or escort/deny a moving payload.

I’m told it’s somewhat like Team Fortress 2, but as I’ve never played that, I can’t address it.

Now normally this isn’t the sort of thing I would expect to get into, being pretty much all action and no plot. The “payload” being delivered or blocked isn’t even identified beyond being a thing on a truck (it looks vaguely like a giant electromagnet). And I couldn’t tell you what made me interested in checking it out, other than a vague hole in my nerdery where LotRO and Borderlands used to be. But once I decided I wanted to play it, I found myself going on a long and painful journey into the underworld, by which I mean Windows gaming.

The Exciting Adventure of Gneech vs. His Computer

My gaming PC was quite beefy once upon a time. Specifically, around 2008 or so when I bought it to be an awesome platform for playing Lord of the Rings Online. It served me well in that capacity for a long time, and it never had the slightest problem with Borderlands 2, so I fully expected it to be capable of running Overwatch.

Ha, ha, silly me. How was I to know that Microsoft and/or NVidia had imposed mandatory retirement on my video card? (In fairness, the card design is 10+ years old, which is a very long time in the world of computers. But the thing still works! Assuming the fan motor stayed good it’d probably keep on working for 10 more years if the software would support it.) After much wailing and gnashing of teeth about not being able to afford a contemporary gaming rig, I finally took a gamble and bought a new card, basically a 2014-ish version of the same card. Any better/more powerful? Not really, as far as I can see, but it has DirectX 12 drivers, which the old one doesn’t, and that’s what was required for Overwatch to work.

However, the new card and the old system don’t really get along very well. Windows keeps polling the card like the guy in Smooth Criminal: “Video are you okay, are you okay, are you okay video? Video are you okay, are you okay, are you okay video?” But the video card, trying valiantly to render things the game is throwing at it, doesn’t answer quickly enough, so Windows decides, “Oh, the video card must have crashed, let’s reset it.” Which kills the driver, and by extension, kills the game. Usually about 10-30 seconds before the end of the match I’m currently in. -.-

Now this PC (currently on Win 7) is eligible for an upgrade to Windows 10, so I thought that might fix it. I tried to upgrade to 10 before, only to have it keep crashing on the old card, which was not supported by Windows 10 because reasons. I figured, “New card! Specifically states compatible with Windows 10 on the box! Maybe this will fix everything!”

Ha, ha, silly me. So I upgraded to Windows 10… which absolutely refused to acknowledge that there was any graphics card at all other than “Generic Display Adapter.” And you know what Generic Display Adapters don’t do very well? Render 3D objects. So, while I did eventually get Overwatch up and running under Windows 10, it was completely unplayable.

So… finally… I rolled back to Windows 7, and I’m living with a 40% chance that any given match will cause my computer to crash. 😛 The (relatively) good news is that if it’s going to crash, it usually does it early on. If I can get past five minutes in the game, it’ll probably be stable until the end of the session.

I have had a fan very generously offer to build me a new machine and bring it to BronyCon in July, for which I’m super-grateful! Let’s face it, if the worst thing about the whole situation is that I have to wait a little over a month to reliably play the most current video game, I have it pretty damn good.

The Exciting Adventure of Tracer’s Butt

Although the gameplay is fun and engaging in a pure-action kind of way, it’s really the art and character design that appeals to me about Overwatch, as evidenced by the pic at the top of my buddy Inkblitzer and me rendered as D.Va and Tracer, respectively.

And honestly, even then it’s only a few of the characters who stand out. Certainly none of the male ones: with the exception of Winston (who is still basically Beast from the X-Men) they’re all the same tired old tropes of “Weary Soldier,” “Sheriff Shooty McCowboy,” “Wangsty Grim Samurai,” “Cackling NOT-the-Joker With a Bomb” and so on. But Tracer, the game’s mascot, is a Peter Pan-style gadfly who teleports around poking her enemies with sticks (well, bullets, but still). D.Va, my particular fave, is a Korean gamer girl with a bunny on her chest and a giant pink mech who flings herself into crowds of enemies like an enormous bowling ball, knocking them all for a loop. Finally there’s Zarya, who is basically a Rule 63 version of The Heavy from Team Fortress, who deadlifts her giant plasma gun in character introduction screens and regularly invites everyone to the gun show.

The prominence of female characters in the game (and quite probably the fact that they’re way more interesting than the male characters) has of course led to all sorts of internetty nonsense about it all, most famously about a victory pose for Tracer that people decried as being too much about showing off her butt when the character generally isn’t sexualized otherwise. Given that Widowmaker (super-cliche femme fatale sniper in a skintight bodysuit) is all about her catwalk strut, and that Mercy (the healer who literally has wings and a halo) is all “tender goddess,” the complaint was basically “Can we have one female character who is not primarily rendered in terms of the male gaze for a change?”

Blizzard, to their credit, said, “it’s a fair cop” and changed the victory pose, but by then the dweeby fanboys had latched onto the whole business of butts, which can make looking for Overwatch fan art an exercise in eye-rolling as you encounter one “Durr hurr hurr!” Tracer’s Butt piece after another. :-` It’s a minor nuisance, but still causes side-eyes around a character who is otherwise fun and engaging.

Still! It’s a minor issue at best and doesn’t really impact gameplay. So far everyone I’ve encountered actually in the game has been either typically uncommunicative (it’s hard to type in the team channel and shoot at the same time) or has been very nice, with few or no dickweeds encountered so far. While the basics of the game are simple, actually going up against live players is incredibly challenging– I finally had my first victory last night, and it was very satisfying to finally feel like I was getting somewhere after my first attempts were so sad. The game rewards study and perseverance, and that’s a nice feeling I’ve been lacking for some time.

Will I still be playing in six months? I have no idea. Will anyone? It depends on where the game goes, if indeed it goes anywhere. People have been playing Team Fortress 2 for something like a decade now with no signs of stopping. With no single-player story to “beat,” the only way to play the game is in matches with other players, which can be a blessing and a curse. There is no real finish to the game, which means you don’t get people going through the single-player, being “done,” and wandering off. On the other hand, if it gets to the point where players become scarce and every match is made up of one or two humans and a bunch of AI foes, it could become a ghost town real quick.

It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out! And it’s nice to be in on something new for a change. 😉

-The Gneech

[1] Sort of. The first draft is actually finished and I’ll keep posting about it in a day or two.

[2] Can you believe there’s a movie coming out for that? XD It actually looks pretty entertaining in its own schlocky way.

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May 24 2016

Ghostbusters 5E: Equipment (First Pass)

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ghostbusters_gear
(Artwork by Dan Schoening)

Armor and Shields
Generally speaking, the only armor most Ghostbusters are proficient with are their padded jumpsuit, which is little more than a janitorial jumpsuit with heavy boots, elbow- and knee-pads, and thick protective gloves. Police and military units may have more advanced armor, and there are certainly plenty of reports of ghosts clanking around ancient castles in haunted plate mail. Training in armor proficiency costs $500 and takes six weeks per armor type (or uses the appropriate feat).

Ballistic Armor
Armor with the “ballistic” property (B) is designed to protect against bullets. In game terms, it provides resistance against piercing damage. Note that the Tactical Vest and Riot/Combat Gear armor also provide resistance against slashing damage (S).

Light Armor Cost Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Weight
Padded Jumpsuit $50 11 + Dex mod 8 lbs
Light Vest (B) $250 12 + Dex mod 5 lbs
Medium Armor
Tactical Vest (B, S) $500 14 + Dex mod Disadv. 10 lbs
Heavy Armor
Riot/Combat Gear (B, S) $750 18 Str 13 Disadv. 20 lbs
Shields
Riot Shield $50 +3 Disadv. 5 lbs

Weapons
Weapons range from fists to Mark IV proton packs with dark matter projectors. Although statistics for guns are provided here, Ghostbusters almost never use them– the stats are provided for NPCs such as police officers who might carry them. Guns and some other weapons use the ammunition, burst fire, and reload properties from page 267 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.

The weapon proficiency groups for Ghostbusters are simple melee weapons, sidearms, longarms, proton packs, and slime blowers. Anything more exotic than that requires its own proficiency. The medieval-style weapons of D&D exist, of course, but are so rarely used that they require their own proficiency.

Simple Melee Cost Damage Weight Properties
Chain $5 1d4 bldg 2 lbs
Billy Club $5 1d4 bldg 2 lbs light
Dagger $15 1d4 prcg 1 lb Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60)
Hammer $5 1d4 bldg 2 lbs light, thrown (range 20/60)
Razor $5 1d4 slsh 1 lb Finesse, light
Sidearm
Pistol, automatic $100 2d6 prcg 3 lbs ammunition (range 50/150), reload (15 shots)
Revolver $75 2d8 prcg 3 lbs ammunition (range 40/120), reload (6 shots)
Longarm
Rifle, hunting $175 2d10 prcg 8 lbs ammunition (range 80/240), reload (5 shots), two-handed
Rifle, automatic $250 2d8 prcg 8 lbs ammunition (range 80/240), burst fire, reload (30 shots), two-handed
Shotgun $125 2d8 prcg 7 lbs ammunition (range 30/90), reload (2 shots), two-handed
Ghostbusting Gear
Proton Gauntlets $500 2d6 radiant 3 lbs melee, uses proton pack proficiency
Proton Pack Mk I $500 3d8 radiant 15 lbs ammunition (range 100/300), reload (30 shots), two-handed, capture
-boson dart +$200 3d8 radiant 2d6 splash 5’ radius, uses 3 shots
Mk II: PDS (slime blower) +$250 +2 lbs ammunition (range 30/60), reload (30 shots), slime
Mk III: dark matter blaster +$300 3d8 cold +2 lbs 15’ cone (DC 15 Dexterity save)
-stasis stream stasis (DC 15 Constitution save)
Mk IV: meson collider +$300 3d8 force +2 lbs 2d6 splash 5’ radius, uses 3 shots
-overload pulse 3d8 force tracking (meson collider, 3 uses), uses 3 shots
Proton Pistol ($300) 3d6 radiant 3 lbs ammunition (range 40/120), reload (50 shots), capture
Slime Blower Drum $300 5 lbs ammunition (range 50/100), reload (100 shots), slime

New Weapon Qualities
Capture. A weapon with the capture quality can be used to catch ghosts or other “trappable” creatures. Weapons with the capture quality can affect creatures on the ethereal plane from the material plane (and vice versa), but creatures on the other plane only take half damage (as if they had resistance). When the wielder of a capture weapon successfully hits a ghost with ½ its maximum hit points or less or is incapacitated that is in line of sight, they may attempt to capture the creature as a reaction. The creature must attempt a DC 15 saving throw against its Constitution or Charisma (whichever is higher). On a success, the creature is unaffected. On a failure, the creature is grappled and restrained (even creatures normally immune to such conditions, such as phantasms). The creature may attempt a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns to escape the capture effect. The wielder of the capture weapon may move the captured creature up to 15’ as an action on their turn. Capture weapons must maintain line of sight, or the capture effect is immediately broken.

Slime. Against corporeal creatures, weapons with this quality impose the slimed condition. When used against ghosts or other non-corporeal creatures, each successful hit imposes a level of exhaustion (even in creatures normally immune to exhaustion, such as specters). Corporeal creatures subject to mind-affecting influences (including possession, fear, or confusion) may immediately make a saving throw with advantage to throw off the effect. Corporeal creatures hit by the slime weapon must also make a DC 15 Wisdom save or fall into a sappy euphoria that emulates the effects of charm person for one hour. Slime can also be used to create psychokinetic effects in inanimate objects, using 1 shot for a tiny or small object, 3 shots for a medium object, 10 shots for a large object, 30 shots for a huge object, or 90 shots for a gargantuan object. Slime weapons can also close black slime portals, using the same shots/size ratio.

Splash. When a target is hit by a weapon that does splash damage, every creature within the splash radius must succeed a DC 15 Dexterity save or also take the indicated amount of damage. Large creatures who are hit by the initial weapon are also subject to the splash damage if they are within the area of effect and fail the Dexterity save.

Stasis. When a creature is hit by a stasis weapon they must make a DC 15 Constitution save. On a success they are unaffected. On a failure, their speed becomes halved, they take a -2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws. The creature may attempt another save at the end of each of its turns to remove the effect. If the creature is hit by another stasis effect during that time, they become paralyzed as well (even creatures normally immune to paralysis). A successful save ends both effects.

Tracking. A weapon with the tracking quality automatically hits a creature which has previously been hit by another weapon which marked it for a certain number of times. For example, a creature that has been hit by the meson collider of a Mk IV proton pack is “marked” for the overload pulse of the same proton pack. The next three uses of the overload pulse will automatically hit that target. This effect can go around corners and does not require line of sight, but will not penetrate barriers.

Other Ghostbusting Gear
Ecto-Goggles ($350)
These goggles give the wearer truesight 60’, but impose disadvantage on Dexterity and Charisma checks and saving throws and halve the wearer’s movement speed as they can’t really see where they’re going while wearing them and look dorky as hell. They can be put on as a bonus action on your turn and removed as a free action as long as you have a free hand.

Ghost Trap ($500)
When a ghost trap is activated, every trappable creature within the same 5’ square as the trap must make a DC 15 saving throw on their Dexterity or Charisma (whichever is greater). Any trappable creature that begins their turn in the area of effect must also attempt the save. On a failed save, the creature is restrained and paralyzed (even if it is normally immune to such conditions), and when the trap closes the creature is pulled in and held in an extradimensional space with properties similar to the “Minimus Containment” option of the imprisonment spell. On a successful save, the creature is unaffected. Most susceptible creatures will not hang around in the area of ghost trap, so you’ll probably need to use a capture stream to hold them in place for it. A trap can be placed in any spot you can see within 15’ as a bonus action. Opening a trap can be done as a bonus action or reaction, and closing the trap is a free action. Recovering a closed trap requires an action in the space where the trap is located or can be done by using 5’ of movement. Ghost traps have battery power to last up to five hours, after which time any creature still in the trap automatically escapes.

PKE Meter ($250)
This hand-held device detects and tracks psychokinetic energy (PKE) disturbances. Although its readings are often little more than “warmer/colder” in nature, a successful Intelligence (tool proficiency) check with the PKE meter can identify previously-scanned creatures or effects, or be combined with use of Ecto-Goggles to reveal information about a particular creature, including details about its origin, abilities, or weaknesses, at Ghostmaster discretion.

Franchise Upgrades
Motorcycle ($15,000)
Zippy, looks cool. Minimal cargo capacity.

Sports Car ($25,000)
Also zippy and gives you cool points. Only carries two people and gear or three people without gear, and they keep bonking their knees.

Station Wagon or SUV ($25,000)
Less zippy, but can still look badass. Station wagon can carry up to five people and their gear in relative comfort; SUV can only carry three people with gear (or four people without gear) but is much better suited for off-road or hazardous conditions.

RV or Work Van ($35,000)
The ultimate in non-zippiness. Big, bulky, awkward, dorky. But it can carry a team of six with all their gear plus a portable lab (purchased separately).

Work Boat ($50,000)
Like a work van that can go on water. Makes endearing “chug-chug” noises.

Helicopter ($150,000)
Your team acquires a GBI-branded four-passenger helicopter, how friggin’ cool is that? It comes with a small radar unit (that’s actual radar, not “Ecto-radar”), a winch and paramedic-style rescue platform, and six parachutes. You might want to make sure someone has proficiency before you take off.

Mini-Sub ($250,000)
Your team acquires a GBI-branded four-passenger mini-sub, for underwater exploration. Haunted wrecks can be very profitable.

“Ecto-1 Equipment Package” ($5,000)
“Ecto-radar” PKE sweep, recharge package, first-aid kits, GPS, integrated cellphone, roof-mounted video and infrared camcorder, and VHS/DVD player (satellite radio not included). This requires a vehicle of station wagon size or larger.

Muon Trap “Super-Slammer” ($3,000)
A vehicle-mounted ghost trap with 5’ radius area effect centered on the top of the vehicle, the Super-Slammer has a capture DC of 20 instead of 15 and can capture any number of creatures at a time. It requires a vehicle of station wagon size or larger.

Gadget List Gadgets ($500 per prodigy-level gadget slot, $750 per genius-level gadget slot)
Don’t have an inventor on your team? No sweat. With time and money, anyone with basic ghost-busting experience can cobble together new equipment. After all, that’s what the original team did! One nice thing about this option is that once the item is bought, it stays around forever (or until you lose or break it, this is why we can’t have nice things).

Workshop ($5,000 per skill benefitted)
A workshop contains tools, reference materials, spare parts, and whatever else you might need to make life easier for someone working on a particular type of task. When making skill or tool proficiency checks, you have advantage in a workshop, and it takes half the usual time. The workshop types available are Electronic, Mechanical, Science, Parapsychology, and Arcana.

Staff Upgrade ($20,000)
Most GB franchises have a NPC secretary/receptionist who books jobs, does light accounting, and will empty their own wastebasket, but that’s about it. This upgrade gets you the services of a regular cleaning staff, an on-call lawyer/accountant, and a vehicular mechanic (negating up to 3 RP of environmental damage or other associated costs per session as appropriate).

Stuff You Can Buy Online (varies)
Camcorders, laptop computers, Elvis’s autograph? Prices may vary.

Whattya think? Next time… The Gadget List.

-The Gneech

Ghostbusters Posts

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May 19 2016

Ghostbusters 5E: Backgrounds

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With this piece in place, the actual creating of Ghostbuster characters is possible, although equipping them will have to wait until the next post.

Background

This is what you were before you became a Ghostbuster, your character’s “back story” as it were. It provides you with some proficiencies, a special feature, and your characteristics (Trait, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw). The ones listed here are far from exhaustive– if you have a background idea that doesn’t fall into any of these (for instance, if you wanted to play a former police detective turned Ghostbuster, who therefore has proficiency with guns and the Investigation skill), you should work with the GM to create a custom background that suits your character.

Random tables have been provided in order to quickly select characteristics, but you should not feel required to roll. Pick characteristics that suit you or make up your own. These are intended as roleplaying prompts, not a straightjacket.

Academic
You may have become a Ghostbuster straight out of college, or possibly you are still a student or professor. The point is that you’re a lot more comfortable among the books than you are taking the hard knocks of the real world.

Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, choice of: Electronics, History, Medicine, Religion, Science
Tool Proficiencies: computers
Languages: Latin, one other of your choice
Equipment: smart phone, laptop or tablet, lots and lots of books
Feature: Research Savant
You have advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks made to look up information. When you attempt to learn or recall a piece of lore, if you don’t know the information, you at least have a pretty good idea where and from whom you can obtain it, if it’s available.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) I use polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition.
2) I’ve read every book in the world’s greatest libraries– or I like to boast that I have.
3) I’m used to helping out those who aren’t as smart as I am, and I patiently explain anything and everything to others.
4) There’s nothing I like better than a good mystery.
5) I’m willing to listen to every side of an argument before I make my own judgement.
6) I… speak… slowly… when talking… to idiots… which… almost… everyone… is… compared… to me.
7) I am horribly, horribly awkward in social situations.
8) How do I stay so energetic in the lab all the time? Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee!!!

d6) Ideal
1) The Greater Good. The purpose of learning is to serve mankind.
2) Beauty. What is beautiful points us beyond itself toward what is true.
3) Logic. Emotions must not cloud our logical thinking.
4) No Limits. Nothing should fetter the infinite possibility inherent in all existence.
5) Discovery. The world is amazing! Let’s see what’s out there!
6) Aspiration. The goal of a life of study is the betterment of oneself.

d6) Bond
1) It is my duty to protect my students from the horrors lurking out there.
2) I have an ancient text that holds terrible secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands.
3) Funding is being cut, cut, cut! The only way the university will be able to keep open its doors is if we go to work.
4) My life’s work is the definitive modern rewrite of the Spates Catalog of Nameless Horrors in a 20-volume set.
5) I’ve been searching my whole life for the answer of just what that thing really was under my bed when I was six.
6) Nobody will ever again suffer the same fate as Professor Armitage. Not while I have the tools to prevent it.

d6) Flaw
1) I am easily distracted by the promise of information.
2) Most people scream and run when they see a demon. I stop and take notes on its anatomy.
3) Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization.
4) I overlook obvious solutions in favor of complicated ones.
5) I speak without really thinking through my words, invariably insulting others.
6) I can’t keep a secret to save my life, or anyone else’s.

Buckaroo
You’re a rip-roarin’ rootin’-tootin’ adventurer, busting spooks where in an another era you might have been wrangling cattle or punching Nazis over mystic artifacts. You’ve probably got a name like “Montana Smith” or “Billabong Jack” and you’re prone to wearing a hat of some variety… which looks ridiculous with a Ghostbusters jumpsuit but you wear it anyway. At least you’re dedicated.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: cars, mechanic tools, rope, a musical instrument
Equipment: pickup truck, mechanic tools, climbing gear, cowboy boots, a hat, a musical instrument
Feature: Snakeblood
You were bitten by a poisonous snake when you were a child, but you were so tough it was the one who died. Ever since then you’ve had advantage on saving throws against poison and advantage on Wisdom (Survival) check that involve dealing with critters.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personalty Trait
1) I have endless tales of the open road, of jackalopes on the prairie and sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest. Yessirree, I’ve seen it all and done it all.
2) I watch over my friends as if they were a litter of newborn pups.
3) I once punched a man so hard his kneecaps plum shot off his legs.
4) This reminds me of when I was being chased by cultists in Malaysia. Good times, good times.
5) Money and manners won’t save you from a ragin’ werewolf, sonny!
6) I’m always picking things up, absently fiddling with them, and sometimes accidentally breaking them.
7) I feel far more comfortable around animals than people.
8) I was, in fact, raised by wolves.

d6) Ideal
1) Raisin’ Hell. Yeee-haw! Life’s an adventure, let’s get at it!
2) Heroism. People need protecting, and we’re the ones to do it!
3) The Code of the West. It’s about law an’ order an’ doin’ what’s right. Eeyup.
4) I Can Lick Any Varmint In the World. Or the underworld, as the case may be!
5) Nature. Them things… they ain’t natural. The DEVIL made them things.
6) Fortune and Glory, Kid. My name in the paper and my picture on TV, and life is good.

d6) Bond
1) I reckon they’re crazier than a bucket full o’ sidewinders, but my team-mates are my family.
2) I’ll protect what’s good in this world against those things from the outside.
3) I dunno what it was destroyed the farm, all I know it was all eyes and tentacles. But it’s out there still, and I’m gonna make it pay.
4) I’m the last of a dyin’ breed, son. But I’ll make sure those that came before me are remembered in legend.
5) I’m a lonely rambler, lookin’ for a home.
6) What’ve the dern sasquatch done to YOU? I’ll protect ’em from havin’ their homes paved over one way or another.

d6) Flaw
1) Fire-water. ’nuff said.
2) Y’all think too much! It’s time for some ACTION! YEEE-haw!
3) I remember every insult I’ve received and nurse a silent resentment toward anyone who’s ever wronged me.
4) I don’t need this! I don’t need your fancy words and your crazy theories, and I don’t need YOU!
5) This is boring. I’mma go blow something up.
6) Don’t expect me to save those what can’t save themselves. It’s nature’s way for the strong to eat the weak.

Dilettante
You’re independently wealthy and have time to kill. You got into busting ghosts because it looked like a fun way to kill some time.

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, choice of one other
Tool Proficiencies: computers, cars
Languages: one of your choice
Equipment: expensive clothes, sportscar, credit cards, laptop
Feature: Wealthy
You can easily cover the cost of anything you break. No matter how many ghosts you roll, doors you kick in, or ectomobiles you crash, you never do any Environmental Damage. You are a high roller and a big tipper, welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) My eloquent flattery makes everyone I talk to feel like the most wonderful and important person in the world.
2) Ordinary people love me for my kindness and generosity.
3) No one could doubt by looking at my style and flair that I am a person of wealth and taste.
4) I always have the latest gadget, the newest toy, the flashiest thingamabob. I don’t even know what half of it is for, but who cares? It looks cool.
5) Only the best food, the finest hotels, and the most interesting people. Why waste my time with less?
6) Well, yeah, technically I am what you’d call rich but it’s no big deal really. I mean we all breathe the same air, right?
7) Could we wrap this up please? I’ve got some people coming over later to discuss my investment portfolio.
8) Wow, this nuclear acceleration technology is amazing! But it’s what, thirty years old? We need to bring ghost-busting into the 21st century!

d6) Ideal
1) Respect. Rich or poor, mighty or powerless, all people deserve to be treated with dignity.
2) Responsibility. Life’s been good to me, and I feel it’s important to use that opportunity to make the world a better place.
3) Independence. I can handle myself! I don’t need my family, or their money, watching over me all the time!
4) Getting Even Richerer. You play your cards right, ghost-busting’s a great gig. That Peter Venkman acts like a jerk, but he’s a jerk with a niiiiice retirement fund.
5) Family. I’m not going to just fritter away the family fortune. I’ve got to earn my way and prove my place.
6) Noblesse Oblige. It’s my duty to protect and care for people, because I can, and if I don’t, who will?

d6) Bond
1) I will face any challenge to win the approval of my family.
2) All of my wealth? It doesn’t mean anything against the vast wonder and horror of the cosmos…
3) My teammates are the first people who ever liked me just for me instead of just caring about my money.
4) God, America, and the Busting of Ghosts!
5) People see me as a pointless playboy. I’ll do whatever it takes to prove there’s more to me than money.
6) I’m in it for the kicks, man. What a riiiiide!

d6) Flaw
1) I secretly believe that everyone is beneath me.
2) I openly believe that everyone is beneath me.
3) I hide a truly scandalous secret that could ruin my public reputation forever.
4) Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Not necessarily in that order.
5) In fact, the world does revolve around me.
6) What does “oblivious” mean?

Goth
Ghosts, vampires, the walking dead… it feels like home. You made a promise to only bust the bad ones, and in the meantime you’re going to stick with wearing black until you find something darker.

Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, Religion
Language: Latin
Equipment: lots of black makeup, lots of black clothes, Joy Division CD
Feature: Creepy
You tend to creep out the living, gaining advantage on Charisma (Intimidate) checks against them; on the other hand, spooks, otherworldly creatures and the like are “your crowd,” giving you advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks against them. Go fig.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) Don’t let the black eyeliner fool you, I actually hate Tim Burton movies. Such a poser.
2) I see omens in every event and action. The Powers try to speak to us, we just need to listen.
3) I have pockets lined with smaller pockets, and there’s a bangle, trinket, or small wad of money in every one. I also wear striped fingerless gloves with my Ghostbuster uniform.
4) I am tiny, scrawny, and thin, and seem for all the world to be little more than a layer of skin around a wire frame. My flexibility weirds people out.
5) I can stare down a hellhound without flinching. Like, whatever.
6) I am the happiest, perkiest goth you’ve ever met. I like butterflies with skull heads on their wings.
7) I write painfully beautiful poetry and leave it in coffeeshops for people to find and weep over.
8) I’m a hopeless romantic, always searching for that “special someone.”

d6) Ideal
1) Beauty. There can be no light without darkness… therefore the light shines purest into the dark places of the world.
2) Justice. It’s a hard life for those on the fringes of the world. Maybe I can find a way to make it better.
3) Live and Let Live. Hey, as long as the ghouls aren’t actually hurting anybody…
4) Freedom. Just because you don’t understand me, doesn’t give you the right to say I’m wrong.
5) Balance. I seek to comfort the disturbed… and to disturb the comfortable.
6) Sincerity. This makeup and these clothes are the real me. Deal with it.

d6) Bond
1) I have in me the greatest work of literature yet to be written… I just need to find someone worthy to dedicate it to.
2) My teammates accept me for who I am. That’s worth everything.
3) Yes, it’s true. I fell in love with a ghost. It’s not easy for either of us.
4) It was supposed to be a game. We didn’t expect to be answered by a real demon. And now I have to undo our horrible mistake.
5) Sure, a lot of it’s for show. But there are real secrets, dark secrets, that I must keep out of the grasp of evil… things.
6) Ghostbusters get all the hottest chicks. Or dudes. Or both. Both is good.

d6) Flaw
1) My affinity for the darker side sometimes blinds me to real danger.
2) I can barely conceal my contempt for “norms,” and often don’t bother to try.
3) Everything to excess! Moderation is for monks.
4) Some people say I’m a flake. Whatever.
5) I am suspicious of strangers and expect the worst of them.
6) I don’t have flaws! YOU have flaws. You ALL have flaws! Nobody understands me!

Hustler
You’ve got the moves, you’ve got the moxie. Or at least you think you do.

Skill Proficiencies: two from Deception, Persuasion, or Stealth
Tool Proficiencies: choice of: cars, computers, playing cards, or a musical instrument
Equipment: rusted out car, some cigarettes or cheap booze, a TV set
Feature: Streetwise
You have advantage on all Intelligence (Investigation) checks to find illicit goods, criminal activity, or people hiding out in urban environments, as well as Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to convince criminals or other shady types that you are safe to interact with.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) I fall in and out of love easily, and am always pursuing someone.
2) I have a joke for every occasion, especially occasions where humor is inappropriate.
3) Flattery is my preferred method of getting what I want.
4) The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it.
5) Anything you want… for a price.
6) Sarcasm and insults are my weapons of choice.
7) An enemy says nice things to your face and nasty things behind your back. A friend is the exact opposite.
8) I’d be late for my own funeral. Preferably, I’d skip it all together.

d6) Ideal
1) Independence. I am a free spirit– nobody tells me what to do.
2) Fairness. I never take advantage of people who can’t afford it… or don’t deserve it.
3) People. I’m loyal to my friends, not to my ideals. And everyone else can lump it.
4) Creativity. I never use the same bit twice.
5) Redemption. People don’t think much of me… but I’m going to prove myself.
6) Fun. Life’s too short to not be having a blast.

d6) Bond
1) I’m trying to pay off an old debt to somebody, whether they want me to or not.
2) I owe everything to my mentor– a horrible person who’s probably rotting in jail somewhere.
3) Hey, I may crack wise, but when the chips are down, I’m a professional.
4) Someday, my name will be in lights. I’ll be one of the greats.
5) I made a mistake… and somebody got hurt. I’m not gonna let that happen again.
6) Maybe you don’t like me. Maybe I don’t like me either. But my friends like me. So I’m not gonna let ’em down.

d6) Flaw
1) I just can’t shut up. It drives people crazy the way I go on and on about anything and everything that comes into my head for hours and hours, even when it’s perfectly clear I’ve made my point and there’s no need for me to keep talking about it any longer.
2) If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.
3) I’m right behind you, all the way. Like, literally. You go first.
4) I’m convinced there’s no way anybody could fool me as easily as I fool others.
5) If somebody gets on my nerves, I’ll do whatever it takes to make their life miserable.
6) I’ll take any risk, no matter how life-threateningly stupid, if there’s a big enough payoff.

Scientist
Egghead, professor, doc, Mr. Wizard, science guy… you get the idea.
Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Science
Tool Proficiencies: chemistry tools, electronics tools
Equipment: chemistry tools, electronics tools, scientific library, a personal laboratory
Feature: Discovery
Your scientific researches have given you access to a unique and powerful discovery. The exact nature of this revelation depends on the nature of your research. It might be a great truth about the cosmos, a fantastic invention from the Gadget List, or some relic of the past that could rewrite history. Work with the GM to determine the details of your discovery and its impact on the campaign.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) I’ve spent so long being wrapped up in my studies that I rarely speak, preferring gestures and the occasional grunt. I do send a lot of texts, though, with perfect grammar and spelling.
2) I am too busy being fascinated by the traits of the monster to notice when it tries to eat my head.
3) One of my old professors told me something very interesting about this very topic and I’m going to tell you all about it in great detail now.
4) I speak in a low monotone. I raise my eyebrow when I get truly excited.
5) I determine the numeric probability of success or failure for every action before taking it. This occasionally makes crossing the street difficult.
6) I’m sorry, what were you saying? I was calculating trajectories in my head. It relaxes me.
7) THAT. WAS. AWESOME. Scrape up the pieces, let’s get some readings!
8) I’m not going to waste time trying to explain this to someone who was educated with a banana and an inner tube.

d6) Ideal
1) Greater Good. The advances of science are meant to be shared for the good of all humanity, not the profit of one single person or group.
2) Logic. Emotions cloud our sense of what is right and true, which is why I had mine surgically removed.
3) Free Thinking. Inquiry and curiosity are the pillars of progress.
4) Power. They call me mad. But soon they will fear my name!
5) Truth. There are those who fear the universe to be a place of sheer cold terror. Even if it is, we must learn to understand it.
6) SCIENCE! ’nuff said.

d6) Bond
1) My discovery will change the world! And I’ll make sure it does!
2) Ia! Ftagn! (cough) I mean, fascinating.
3) There is more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy. Let’s find out what it is, shall we?
4) I can’t go any further on theory– now I must put my discoveries into practice.
5) I obliterated my family fortune to pay for my discovery. So that’s a problem.
6) Einstein, Tesla, Curie… and me!

d6) Flaw
1) I like keeping secrets and won’t share them with anyone.
2) Science can fix anything! Or anyone. Even if they aren’t broken.
3) I can tell you anything about fusion, but I wouldn’t notice if my best friend were heartbroken.
4) I let my need to win arguments overshadow friendships and harmony.
5) Anyone not as smart as I am, is an idiot. Which means almost everyone.
6) My mind has been dominated by an alien intelligence since I was five.

Wannabe Hero
There’s bad stuff out there, and somebody’s gotta protect people! So who ya gonna call?

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: cars, one other of your choice
Equipment: tools matching your proficiency choice, economy car
Feature: Friend of the People
In your years of helping people out, you’ve earned a lot of favors. Maybe it’s Mrs. McGinty, who sends you cookies every Christmas. Maybe it’s that cop you helped out on a case and who’ll let you peek into the files now and again. Maybe it’s the creepy gal who works the night shift at the library and has access to the special collection. Whenever you need something, there’s probably somebody in town who can give you a hand.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) If someone is in trouble, you know I’ll be there to help.
2) When I set my mind to something, I follow through no matter what gets in my way.
3) I have a strong sense of fair play and always try to find the most equitable solution to arguments.
4) I’m confident in my own abilities and do what I can to instill confidence in others.
5) I’m cheerful but not always the brightest. Kind of like a giant, adorable dog.
6) This is no time to talk! Someone needs help!
7) I make loud pronouncements about myself! It boosts morale and adds courage!
8) Tell the truth? Ghosts are just neat.

d6) Ideal
1) Respect. Treat other people the way you’d want to be treated. That’s just basic courtesy.
2) Sincerity. There’s no good in pretending to be something I’m not.
3) Community. We can build a better world– together!
4) Charity. We have to do what we can to make things right for people– or ghosts– in trouble.
5) People. What can I say? I love everybody, and I want to make their lives better.
6) Glory. I can hold my head up high, because I know I’m somebody. I’m a Ghostbuster!

d6) Bond
1) Your team? They’re like your family. You watch out for each other, and you’ll all be okay.
2) When I was just a little kid, a spook called “The Bogeyman” carried me off to another dimension! It was the Ghostbusters who saved me. I’m just carrying on the torch.
3) There’s somebody special in my life, and I hope to prove myself worthy of them.
4) My little sister looks up to me! I’ve got to show her what it means to do the right thing.
5) I was weak and afraid once. Never again. Never. Again.
6) I don’t know what these things we fight really are, but I know that they want to cause chaos and destruction, and I’m not going to let that happen!

d6) Flaw
1) I can handle anything! By myself if I have to! Nothing’s too big for me!
2) I have no idea what I’m doing.
3) So what if I can’t keep a secret? Secrets are for losers anyhow! And I do NOT have a big mouth!
4) My big talk is just to cover my crushing insecurity and loneliness.
5) I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, you take that back!
6) Honestly? I’m totally afraid of ghosts.

Weirdo
You make the scientist look like a well-adjusted and mainstream member of society. You ramble about conspiracies, talk to the shadows, and make people really uncomfortable. The worst part? Is when the shadows talk back.

Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, choice of Religion or Science
Languages: choice of German, Greek, or Latin
Equipment: ritual knife, a copy of the Necronomicon or other tome, a lot of aluminum foil
Feature: On the Fringe
You are connected with a vast network of people on the edges of society… or beyond it. Researchers, crackpots, lunatics and visionaries, all dismissed by ordinary people, but all willing to help out fellow “seekers” like themselves with information that may or may not be useful, strange inventions or items that may or may not actually do anything, or even just someone to watch your back when you go down into the tunnels of the mole people. The truth is out there… and these people will help you find it.

Suggested Characteristics
d8) Personality Trait
1) I’m haunted by the memory of… things I cannot and must not recall!
2) I seem perfectly normal until I begin to explain to you calmly and rationally about the cats who live on the moon and come down at night to whisper to you in your dreams.
3) I. Never. Stop. Smiling.
4) Well of course I wear an aluminum foil hat, who in their right mind doesn’t? But do you know about lining your SHOES?
5) I have a crippling, irrational fear of pickles.
6) I have a crippling, rational fear of pickles.
7) I wipe everything down with antiseptic spray. Including my lunch. And the people I’m talking to.
8) I pick up things and pocket them. I also pull strange things out of my pocket and leave them in random places. It has to do with the feng shui, you see.

d6) Ideal
1) Truth. I shall find it. I shall reveal it. Whether it saves us or destroys us, hardly matters, as long as we face it.
2) Comfort. I know what it is to feel isolated, confused, and alone. I shall do what I can to prevent anyone else from knowing that pain.
3) Security. If the whole world knew the truth of the cosmos, humanity would run screaming into the peace and comfort of a new dark age. We are their bulwark.
4) Determination. There are secrets out there, secrets that are being kept from me. I will know the truth, or die trying!
5) Greater Good. Learning the true nature of the cosmos may be a painful wrench at first, but in the long run it’s necessary to face the truth and learn to cope.
6) Power. Trapping ghosts is merely phase one. These “Ghostbuster” fools have only begun to scratch the surface!

d6) Bond
1) I lost loved ones to unnameable, unknowable things. While I live, never again!
2) Yes, my friends think I’m crazy. Let them laugh. But I shall protect them in spite of themselves.
3) Battling the demons that haunt others, helps me battle the demons that haunt myself.
4) One day I shall be strong enough to return to that cursed place, and destroy the thing that whispers to me in the night.
5) This book holds all the secrets of the cosmos! Unfortunately, it’s written in no Earthly language. Darn.
6) I vow that I shall drive back the darkness that gnaws at the edges of reality!

d6) Flaw
1) Where to start?
2) We are all just pawns in a giant cosmic chess game. If it is our place to fall, we shall fall. It is inevitable.
3) Why are you disturbing me with trifles! “Take a shower. Pay the rent. Your hair is on fire.” Can’t you see I’m busy?
4) I sometimes doubt my own sanity. Other times, I doubt yours.
5) I must go. My planet needs me.
6) I’m a werewolf. Don’t tell the guys.

Working Joe
It’s not just an adventure! It’s a job.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, choice of: Athletics, Electronics, Investigation, Mechanics, Medicine, Parapsychology, Perception, Stealth, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: cars, two others of your choice
Feature: Sane
No matter how world-class weird it gets in your line of work, you stay grounded and relatable. That doesn’t mean you don’t freak out every now and again, but even when you freak out you keep your head about it. When you are subject to confusion effects, you roll twice and take the preferred result. Furthermore, in situations where having a “voice of reason” would be beneficial, you or any ally within 30′ that can hear you has advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks.

d8) Personality Trait
1) I’m always polite and respectful.
2) I didn’t have a lot of school, but my momma didn’t raise no fool.
3) I face problems head-on. A simple, direct solution is almost always the best path to success.
4) Zap ’em, cap ’em, trap ’em. It’s Miller Time.
5) I’m the strong, silent type.
6) Check out this badass gear! Do I look awesome or what?
7) I come up with funny names for everybody, including and especially the spooks we bust.
8) I’m snarky, but with a heart of gold. Well, silver, anyway.

d6) Ideal
1) Teamwork. I got their backs, they got mine. Glory’s good, but getting’ the job done is better.
2) Pride. I do a good job, that earns me respect and an honest living.
3) Kickin’ Undead Butt. Those spooks have gotta be busted, and I’m the one for the job!
4) Doing the Right Thing. Sometimes it just feels good to lend a hand, y’know?
5) Toys! I don’t even know what a thermoplasmic interphaser is, but I totally want to smoke some spuds with it.
6) Action. You get to blare a siren, see horrifying monsters, blast a proton pack, dodge flying debris, and swing from cables… and that’s just orientation! This is the best job ever!

d6) Bond
1) All my life I’ve wanted to be really good at something. Maybe this will be it.
2) Gettin’ some thrills while I pay the bills, baby! WOOOOHOO!
3) We do important work. I’m proud to be a Ghostbuster.
4) Don’t tell the guys I said so, but I love ’em all, the giant bozos.
5) I’m not letting any moldy Babylonian god bring about the end-times in MY town!
6) If there’s a steady paycheck in it? I’ll believe anything you say.

d6) Flaw
1) I do what the boss says… even if I think they’re wrong.
2) I quickly lose patience with anything too complex, subtle, or just plain boring.
3) I’m prone to run away first, and ask questions later.
4) I’d say anything to avoid doing a little extra work.
5) I’m easily talked or intimidated into doing the stuff nobody else wants to do, and I resent it.
6) Can we cut all the chatter and BLAST something please?

Well that should keep you roleplaying nerds busy for a while! 😉 Next time: equipment.

-The Gneech

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May 11 2016

Ghostbusters 5E: Guts Class (First Draft)

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Hah! Think you can defeat me, moving? I still have a keyboard and a personal hotspot, therefore I shall continue to geek out on gaming stuff! Time for the heart of the team.

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Guts Class (First Draft)

Hit Die: d12
Saving Throws: Con, Cha
Proficiencies: Padded Jumpsuit, Proton Pack, Slime Blower, a toolset or language of your choice
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, Driving, Electronics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Mechanics, Occult, Perception, Pilot, Religion, Science

Level Prof. Features
1 +2 Adrenalin Rush, Durable
2 +2 Got Your Back
3 +2 Specialty
4 +2 Personal Development
5 +3 Fast Movement, Bravery
6 +3 Frenzy
7 +3 Specialty
8 +3 Personal Development
9 +3 Fearless Presence
10 +4 Wild Ride
11 +4 Still Got Your Back
12 +4 Specialty
13 +5 Payback
14 +5 Recovery
15 +5 Personal Development
16 +5 Charmed Life
17 +6 In This Together
18 +6 Specialty
19 +6 Walk It Off
20 +6 Personal Development

Adrenalin Rush
You rush into action before putting too much thought into how dangerous it is, going on the adrenalin rush. You may enter an adrenaline rush on your turn as a bonus action. During an adrenalin rush, you gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws.
  • You add a Ghost Die of damage to all successful attacks in combat.
  • You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

During an adrenaline rush, you are unable to do anything requiring concentration (including casting spells). The rush lasts for one minute, but it ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t attacked a hostile creature, taken damage, or expended a hit die since your last turn. You may also choose to end the adrenaline rush on your turn as a free action.

You may enter an adrenaline rush a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. Once they are expended, you must finish a long rest before you can go into a rush again.

Durable
You add your Constitution bonus to your AC, as well as your Dexterity bonus.

Got Your Back
Starting at 2nd level, on your turn you may take a bonus action to aid a friendly creature that you can touch. By expending one or more of your own hit dice (as if recovering hit points during a short rest), you may choose to give the creature a free saving throw plus a Ghost Die to end any one condition it is suffering, or the creature can immediately regain hit points equal to 1d12 + their Constitution modifier for every hit die expended, plus a Ghost Die. (Note that you do not regain any hit points from this action.) Your hit dice are recovered at the end of a long rest, as normal.

Specialty
At 3rd level, you choose a specialty for character. The choices are Big Lug, or Danger Magnet. You immediately gain the first benefit associated with that specialty, and gain another benefit at 7th, 12th, and 18th level.

Personal Development
Whenever this option comes up, you have your choice of one of the following options: increase one ability score of your choice by +2, increase two ability scores of your choice by +1 each, or gain a feat.

Fast Movement
Starting at 5th level, your movement speed increases by 10′ as long as you aren’t wearing heavy armor or under any other condition that would reduce your normal movement speed.

Bravery
Beginning at 5th level you have advantage on all saving throws to resist the effects of fear.

Frenzy
Beginning at 6th level, during an adrenaline rush you make two attacks with the Attack action instead of one. Other than the adrenaline rush requirement, this is similar to the Extra Attack of the Brawn class.

Fearless Presence
Beginning at 9th level, all friendly creatures within 60′ who can see or hear you (not including yourself) may add a Ghost Die to any saving throws made to resist fear.

Wild Ride
Starting at 10th level, you become a lot harder to knock out. Whenever you are at 0 hit points, you may choose to go into an adrenaline rush as a reaction. During an adrenaline rush, if you are reduced to 0 hit points, you may choose to remain conscious and active. However, you automatically fail all death saves to avoid going Down For the Count. While on this wild ride, your adrenaline rush will not end prematurely regardless of whether you attack anyone, take damage, or expend hit dice. (If your adrenaline rush expires due to coming to the end of a minute, you may enter another rush as a reaction, unless you have no more adrenaline rushes to enter.) If your adrenaline rush ends, you fall unconscious immediately.

Still Got Your Back
Starting at 11th level, when you expend your hit dice to help a friendly creature, they regain hit points equal to 2d12 + their Constitution modifier per hit die, plus a Ghost Die.

Payback
Beginning at 13th level, when you land a successful hit on a foe who has inflicted damage on you or any friendly creature during this combat, it is considered to automatically be a critical hit.

Recovery
Beginning at 14th level, if you have expended any of your hit dice to help a friendly creature, you may roll a Ghost Die at the beginning of a short rest and recover a number of spent hit dice up to the result. (The hit dice recovered do not have to have been spent to help a friendly creature, you simply must have spent one or more dice to do so.) These recovered hit dice are available immediately and can be spent to recover your own hit points during the short rest if desired. If you Roll a Ghost during this recovery, you regain all of your spent hit dice, no matter how many.

Charmed Life
At 16th level, you gain proficiency with all saving throws.

In This Together
Beginning at 17th level, when you expend one of your hit dice to help a friendly creature, you also regain hit points as if you had expended the hit die during a long rest (regaining hit points equal to 1d12 + your Constitution modifier). If the friendly creature Rolls a Ghost on their Ghost Die, you also gain the benefit of a maximum roll.

Walk It Off
Starting at 19th level, you no longer go Down For the Count. You no longer have to worry about failing death saving throws, but you must still roll them in order to potentially come back from the brink. You can be revived by anything that restores you to at least 1 hit point.

Specialties
Big Lug
Heart of the Team: Beginning at 3rd level, when you expend one of your hit dice to aid a friendly creature, you add your proficiency bonus to the number of hit points recovered. Also, if you Roll a Ghost doing this, you immediately recover the hit die expended as if you had finished a long rest.

Come At Me! Starting at 3rd level, when you are adjacent to a friendly creature, all attacks against that creature are made at a disadvantage.

Get Outa Dodge: Beginning at 7th level, you may take Dodge or Disengage actions as a bonus action on your turn.

Look Out! Beginning at 12th level, when a single friendly creature that you can see is called to make a saving throw, as a reaction you may also make the same saving throw, and the friendly creature may take whichever result they choose.

Take One for the Team: At 18th level, when a friendly creature adjacent to you is hit by an attack or fails a saving throw, you may choose to take the damage or effects instead. You may choose to use this ability before or after the attack, damage, or saving throw is rolled. You must finish a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

Danger Magnet
Fools Rush In: At 3rd level, when you are surprised on the first round of combat, you may still choose to act on your initiative. If you do, all attacks made against you have advantage, and you have disadvantage on all saving throws until the beginning of your next turn.

Also, whenever random chance determines who will be attacked or suffer the effects of a spell, trap, or other hazard, and you are one of the potential targets of the effect, you can simply claim it.

Lucky: Beginning at 3rd level, whenever you roll a 1 on a d20 roll, you may immediately re-roll it and take the better result.

Evasion: Beginning at 7th level, when you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Gotta Go Through Me First: Beginning at 12th level, as a bonus action on your turn, you may choose a number of friendly creatures equal to your proficiency bonus who are within 10′ of you. These creatures gain resistance to all damage as long as they stay within 10′ of you, but when they take damage you lose the same number of hit points they do. (For instance, if the friendly creature is hit for 25 points of damage, both you and they lose 12 hit points.) For you only, this resistance “stacks” with any other damage resistance you may already have, including the resistance granted by Adrenaline Rush. (Thus, in the previous example, if you were in an adrenaline rush and your ally was hit for 25 points of slashing damage, they would lose 12 hit points and you would lose 6.)

Missed Me! At 18th level, when you are hit by an attack, you may turn it into a miss. Alternatively, if you fail a saving throw, you may turn it into a success. You may declare this before or after the damage is rolled or the effects of the saving throw are revealed. You must complete a short or long rest before using this ability again.

Whattya think? Next time, Moves.

-The Gneech

Brains Class
Brawn Class

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May 01 2016

Ghostbusters 5E First Pass: Brains

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(Image created by @MajorSheep)

Honestly, I like Savage Worlds as a home for a Ghostbusters game, but the honest truth is that switching back and forth between systems gets tiresome and we keep forgetting the rules. ¬.¬ And besides, 5E is just awesome. So, it’s worth it.

Still, it’s no small task. I kinda have to reinvent most of d20 Modern along the way in order to make it work, and then tweak it to fit the weird flavor of Ghostbusters. Since I’m a lot less confident of my 5E mastery than I was of previous iterations, I’m gonna send up pieces of it as I go in case anyone has feedback or suggestions, starting today with the Brains class– after a few preliminary notes which are necessary to understand some of the class mechanics. (The other classes– Brawn, Guts, Moves, and Wits– will come in future posts.)

Preliminary: Hit Points or Death (Or Lack Thereof)

Ghostbusters is light-hearted comedy action fare, so characters almost never actually “die”. Thus, hit points explicitly do not represent physical wounds in Ghostbusters. When you lose hit points, you get banged up, scratched, frazzled and stressed out, maybe some wear and tear on your clothes, but you aren’t really hurt, at least until you run out. When characters get reduced to 0 hp, they are knocked out. After three failed “death saves,” characters don’t really die, but they are put “Down For the Count,” which sends them to the hospital. Genuine injuries, when they occur, are represented by conditions, particularly the poisoned or exhaustion conditions.

Also Preliminary: The Ghost Die

Previous versions of Ghostbusters (going all the way back to the original WEG game back in 1985) had the “Ghost Die,” which was a d6 in which the 6 was replaced by a Ghostbusters logo. This die acted as a kind of wild card– whenever the ghost showed up, some crazy bad thing happened. But after some years of playing that way… honestly? It’s not as fun as it sounds. It makes the players hate to roll the dice, which is something that in a tabletop RPG should just not happen. So in my 5E conversion, Ghost Dice are different.

When instructed by the GM, you roll the Ghost Die with the other dice and add it to the total, unless it comes up a 6. When you roll a 6 on the Ghost Die (also called “rolling a ghost”), the rest of the dice in the roll are considered to be the highest possible roll. For instance, if you add a Ghost Die to a d20 roll and roll a ghost, the d20 is considered to have rolled a 20, and the total of the roll is (20 + 6 =) 26. If you add a Ghost Die to a 2d8 roll and roll a ghost, each d8 is considered to have rolled an 8, and the total of the roll is (8 + 8 + 6 =) 22.

Some circumstances may give your character multiple Ghost Dice, which you may use on various things. You may also be instructed to roll a Ghost Die by the GM due to the actions of an NPC, creature, or other circumstance. However, you only roll one Ghost Die at a time, regardless of how many things may be happening to prompt the Ghost Die roll. You may roll any number of Ghost Dice called for on a turn, but only one at a time.

Brains Class (First Draft)

Hit Die: d6
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Saving Throws: Int, Wis
Proficiencies: Electronic Tools, Scientific Equipment, two additional languages or toolset of your choice
Skills: Choose four from Electronics, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Occult, Parapsychology, Religion, Science

Level Prof. Bonus Features
1 +2 Expertise, Know-It-All
2 +2 Plan (one use)
3 +2 Specialty
4 +2 Personal Development
5 +3 Retrograde Maneuvers, See It Coming (one use)
6 +3 Specialty
7 +3 Exploit Weakness
8 +3 Personal Development
9 +4 Plan (two uses)
10 +4 Specialty
11 +4 See It Coming (two uses)
12 +4 Personal Development
13 +5 The Horrible Truth
14 +5 Specialty
15 +5 Jinkies
16 +5 Personal Development
17 +6 Plan (three uses)
18 +6 Anticipation
19 +6 Personal Development
20 +6 Specialty

Expertise
At 1st level, choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one skill proficiency and one tool proficiency. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.

Know-It-All
Starting at 1st level, you can add half of your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any Intelligence check you make that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.

Plan
Starting at 2nd level, you can take an action to formulate a plan. Choose up to six creatures (including yourself) who can hear and understand you to include in the plan. In the next minute, each creature who is part of the plan may choose to roll a Ghost Die with their choice of any one attack roll or ability check per turn (this does not effect any other Ghost Dice they may be rolling on their turn for other reasons). You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. At 9th and 17th level, you gain additional uses of this ability before must rest.

Specialty
At 3rd level, you choose a specialty for character. The specialties for a “traditional” Ghosbusters campaign the specialties are Anatomist, Inventor, and Professor. However, for a “Gonzo Ghostbusters!” campaign (see Campaigns in the Ghostmastering section) you may also choose Arcanist or Psychic. You immediately gain the first benefit associated with that specialty, and gain another benefit at 6th, 10th, 14th, and 20th level.

Personal Development
Whenever this option comes up, you have your choice of one of the following options: increase one ability score of your choice by +2, increase two ability scores of your choice by +1 each, or gain a feat.

Retrograde Manuevers
Starting at 5th level, you may take the Disengage action as a bonus action.

See It Coming
Starting at 5th level, when you are instructed to make a saving throw, add a Ghost Die. You must have a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. You gain another use of this ability between rests at 11th level.

Exploit Weakness
Starting at 7th level, you can use a bonus action to assess a creature’s weakness. Add your Intelligence bonus to all attack rolls, damage rolls, and ability checks against that creature for one minute. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

The Horrible Truth
Starting at 13th level, you have learned so many strange and terrifying things in your studies that nothing phases you any more: you now have advantage on all Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma saving throws.

Jinkies
At 15th level, your ability to analyze information and make deductive leaps is honed to a razor’s edge. When investigating a situation, looking for evidence or clues, or attempting to solve a puzzle or confusing situation, you automatically find all relevant information. Alternatively, as a free action on your turn, you may ask the Ghostmaster to answer up to three questions, which must be answerable with: “Yes,” “No,” “Good,” “Bad,” “Yes and No,” “Good and Bad,” or “Indeterminate.” Alternatively, the GM may choose to provide you with hints or suggestions of their own devising, such as, “The emphasis on ‘Keymaster’ and ‘Gatekeeper’ suggests the opening of a portal.” You must take a short or long rest before using this ability again.

Anticipation
Starting at 18th level, if any d20 roll you make results in a failure (including ability checks, attack rolls, or saving throws), you may declare that you anticipated this event and planned for it. You may immediately make the roll again, and take the better of the two results. You must have a short or long rest before using this ability again.

Specialties
Anatomist
First Aid: You are trained in the art healing. At 3rd level, you gain proficiency with Wisdom (Medicine) if you do not already have it. As an action, on your turn, you may attempt to heal an adjacent character (or yourself) who has taken damage in combat, restoring 1d8 hit points + your Intelligence bonus. You may do this a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier, but then must have a short or long rest before you can use this ability again. You must have a first aid kit or in your possession or be at some sort of medical facility to use this ability.

You may also use your knowledge to help revitalize your allies during a short rest. If you or any friendly creatures you can attend to regain hit points at the end of the short rest, each of those creatures regains an extra Ghost Die worth of hit points as well. You must have a first aid kit or in your possession or be at some sort of medical facility to use this ability.

Finally, your enhanced knowledge of anatomy enables you to hit ’em where it hurts. Whenever you make an attack roll against a humanoid, beast, or other creature with a discernible anatomy, you score a critical hit against that creature on a roll of 19 or 20. This does not apply to oozes, incorporeal undead, or most aberrations, but does apply to things like zombies, ghouls, vampires, and terror dogs.

A Real Doctor: Beginning at 6th level, when you use your ability to administer first aid, you roll 2d8 + your Intelligence bonus. Alternatively, you may use your healing ability to remove one disease or any one of the following conditions from the afflicted creature: blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned. (Similar to the lesser restoration spell.)

Also, your knowledge of anatomy increases your ability to land effective blows in combat. Whenever you score a hit in combat (critical or otherwise) against a humanoid, beast, or other creature with a discernible anatomy, you roll a Ghost Die of additional damage. This does not apply to oozes, incorporeal undead, or most aberrations, but does apply to things like zombies, ghouls, vampires, and terror dogs.

Back On Your Feet! At 10th level, you have become such an accomplished healer that you can revive an ally who has been Knocked Out or put Down For the Count within the past minute (10 rounds). The ally is fully conscious and stable at 1 hit point and may act again as soon as their turn comes up again on the initiative count. When you administer first aid, you roll 3d8 + your Intelligence bonus.

Also your delvings into the weird anatomies of eldritch and otherworldly beings are so advanced that your critical hit chances and extra damage apply to all creature types.

Tampering in God’s Domain
Beginning at 14th level, your advanced weird studies have begun to unlock the secrets of life and death. You may now reanimate dead tissues, creating effects equal to the animate dead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. Alternatively, you may temporarily restore a semblance of life to a dead creature (or inert undead creature), creating effects equal to the speak with dead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. Be warned that neither of these activities are likely to be met with a sympathetic public. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.

When you administer first aid, you may choose to provide true healing: the patient regains 70 hit points, and all blindness, deafness, and diseases affecting the target are removed. You must have a long rest before using this ability again (but it only counts against one of your uses of first aid).
Also, your knowledge of anatomy is so advanced that when you successfully make a critical hit in combat, you may choose to force the target to make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence bonus. On a failed save, the target takes 14d6 necrotic damage, or half as much damage on a successful save. The damage can’t reduce the target’s hit points below zero. You must have a long rest before using this ability again.

Reanimator
Beginning at 20th level, you have become a true reanimator. In addition to the abilities granted by your tampering in God’s domain, you may create effects equal to the create undead spell as if cast at a level equal to your proficiency bonus. You must have a long rest before using this ability again, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re destroyed by your own creations, you monster.
You also gain the ability to use your enhanced healing and combat damage abilities under the Tampering in God’s Domain abilities twice each before requiring a long rest.

Inventor
Gadgets: At 3rd level, you learn how to build amazing gadgets. You may choose a number of Prodigy-level gadgets from the Gadget List equal to your intelligence bonus (or come up with your own using the Custom Gadget). These gadgets are persistent items which you may add to your inventory, loan to friends or allies, etc. You may also leave “gadget slots” open indefinitely until such time as you decide to build a new gadget. If you have filled all your gadget slots and decide you want to build another gadget, you must first break down an existing gadget for parts. You must have a gadget in your possession to break it down.

Some gadgets are modifiers, rather than stand-alone items. “Elemental Modulation” allows an existing weapon to change its damage type on the fly for example. In that case, the final gadget (an elementally-modulated energy ray) actually counts against two gadget slots.

Building a new gadget (including breaking down an existing gadget, if required) requires a workshop and applicable tools, and takes two hours per gadget slot modified. (For instance, to break down an elementally-modulated energy ray would take four hours; to then use those parts to build another gadget would take an additional two hours.) The time does not have to be spent consecutively, it can be broken up over the course of days or weeks as desired. Up to four hours of this time can be combined with a long rest without interfering with the rest.

Unless specified otherwise, activating a gadget requires an action. You are always considered proficient with your own gadgets; however, you may also decide what other proficiencies apply to a gadget, subject to common sense and Ghostmaster approval. For example, a modified proton pack probably works with the proton pack proficiency. Rocket skates, on the other hand, would probably require their own proficiency.

If a gadget is lost or destroyed, that gadget slot cannot be reclaimed until the end of your next long rest. Gadgets loaned to friends or allies are not considered “lost” unless that friend or ally is also somehow “lost” and cannot (or will not) return the item to you.

Genius: At 6th level, you have figured out how to build Genius-level gadgets. Also, the time required to modify Prodigy-level gadgets is halved (to one hour per gadget slot).

Perfected: At 10th level, you may choose three gadget slots’ worth of gadgets. You have perfected those designs and may fabricate those gadgets as needed, without expending gadget slots on them. It takes twelve hours per gadget slot to fabricate a perfected gadget.

Mastermind: At 14th level, you have figured out how to build Mastermind-level gadgets. Also, the time required to modify Genius-level gadgets is halved (to one hour per gadget slot) and the time required to modify Prodigy-level gadgets is quartered (to half an hour per gadget slot).

Prolific Fabricator: At 20th level, you are no longer restricted by gadget slots. You may simply fabricate as many gadgets as you need (although the time required to create the gadgets is unchanged).

[Gadget List not included in post. Just assume that it’s full of awesome gadgety goodness.]

Professor
Specialized Knowledge: At 3rd level, choose two new proficiencies, whether skills, tool proficiencies, or languages. Also, choose two more skills for which you gain the benefits of Expertise. Also, when making a Wisdom (Insight), Intelligence (Investigation), or Wisdom (Perception) check, you may roll a Ghost Die and add it to the results of that check.

Cunning Action: At 6th level, you may use the Dash, Disengage, or Hide actions as a bonus action on your turn in combat.

Correlating Contents: At 10th level, your investigations and breakthroughs have enabled you to form a network of like-minded contacts throughout the world, putting vast stores of knowledge at your disposal. By taking half an hour to research a topic and “consult your brain trust,” you may unerringly: translate a passage of text or speech in any terrestrial language; decipher a code; discover hidden links in seemingly-unrelated data points (if any); discover the last known location of an item, piece of experimental equipment, or artifact; find all available information on the background of a person, location, or thing; discover official documents related to a person, location, or thing (including building blueprints, tracking vehicle license plates, etc.); or gather the complete text of any book or other literary work, including different editions or draft variations. This activity may be combined with a short rest. This ability can only retrieve information that actually exists: if a string of text is just nonsense letters for instance, no amount of “deciphering the code” will resolve it into meaningful data.

Font of Knowledge: Starting at 14th level, you studies have led you to memorize vast amounts of information and you can quickly recall and apply it. You can make Wisdom (Insight), Intelligence (Investigation), or Wisdom (Perception) checks as a bonus action, and you do not need any reference materials or other implements for any Intelligence check.

Superior Anticipation: At 20th level, whenever one or more of your class abilities are expended until taking a rest, you regain one use of one such ability of your choice when you roll initiative. (For instance, if you have used your Exploit Weakness ability already, you could choose to regain the use of this ability.)

Next time: The Brawn class.

-The Gneech

Brawn Class
Guts Class

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Apr 11 2016

Zootopia and 7-Point Structure

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So sometime last week Matt Trepal (creator of Fight Cast or Evade) pointed me at a writing technique called “7-Point Structure.” It’s not that far removed from the Snowflake Method/Five Act Structure I’ve already been using, but it is different enough that it can give you new insights on a story.

The best breakdown of it I’ve found comes from the person who first popularized it, Dan Wells, and you can see that here:

In order to sort of teach myself the ins and outs of it, I decided to make a 7-point breakdown of Zootopia, as that’s fresh in my mind and a remarkably-tight story considering the “toss everything out and start again” way it came together. I mentioned it on Twitter and had several folks express interest, so I’ve decided to post it here, because I love you.

WARNING! ZOOTOPIA SPOILERS AHEAD! BECAUSE DUH.

This discussion assumes you already have the gist of 7-point structure. If not, go watch those videos and come back. 😉 Also, Zootopia (in italics) refers to the story/movie, while Zootopia (not in italics) refers to the city itself.

As John Lasseter so aptly put it, Zootopia‘s real subject is bias, both how it effects people and how they deal with it. As I started dissecting Zootopia I rapidly came to the conclusion that it has three major arcs, to wit Judy Hopps’ arc, Nick Wilde’s arc, and an overall Zootopia’s Promise arc. They are all connected by bias: Judy’s having to cope with bias against the idea of a bunny cop as well as her own bias on the subject of foxes, Nick having internalized the bias against foxes as well as his own bias on the subject of Zootopia’s failure to live up to its own ideals, and all of Zootopia’s struggle with the messy intersection of its stated ideals and the reality of life.

In light of that, the true plot points of Zootopia aren’t necessarily a simple list of “A happened, then B happened, then C happened” but of the characters’ progression. Zootopia is a character-based story, not an event-based one. And here’s how it falls out:

Starting Point Hopps: Hopps is discounted as a police officer (by Bogo and Nick)
Nick: Nick is convinced there’s no point to being anything but “a shifty fox”
Zootopia: Zootopia claims to be “where anybody can be anything” but is far from that in reality

 

Plot Turn 1 Hopps and Nick: Hopps recruits Nick to help her search for Emmet
Zootopia: 14 animals are missing

 

Pinch 1 Hopps and Nick: Captured by Mr. Big
Zootopia: Manches goes savage

 

Midpoint Hopps: Nick stands up to Bogo for Hopps
Nick: Hopps saves Nick’s life during the Manches chase and shows him respect and compassion
Zootopia: Lionheart is arrested, revealing that all the missing animals are predators turned savage

 

Pinch 2 Hopps: Hopps resigns from ZPD in despair
Nick: Nick feels betrayed and breaks off his friendship w/ Hopps
Zootopia: Zootopia is violent and full of prejudice

 

Plot Turn 2 Hopps: Hopps figures out the mystery
Nick: Nick realizes Hopps truly values his friendship and forgives her
Zootopia: Bellweather’s plot is revealed

 

Resolution Hopps and Nick: They become respected police and equal partners
Zootopia: Zootopia lives up to its promise, even though “life is messy”

 
The way the 7-point structure works is that you start with your desired end state and from there you make the start the opposite of that. Thus, if the end state is “Judy and Nick are partners and Zootopia is making progress on its ideals” then the beginning has to be “Judy and Nick are enemies and Zootopia is failing or actively working against its ideals.” In this particular case, it’s Bellweather who’s actively working against Zootopia’s ideals, but she wouldn’t be able to succeed if the rest of the city didn’t already have the underlying tensions that she exploits.

Each plot turn or pinch, therefore, is a stepping stone from the starting point to the resolution. An interesting thing to note is that a lot of scenes or moments that stand out about Zootopia do not actually register in terms of plot: the character of Flash for instance, while an awesome piece of set dressing, doesn’t really impact the story at all except as a plot device to burn up some of Judy’s timer and add dramatic tension to the “Nick stands up to Bogo” moment. The character of Gazelle, despite her incredibly catchy song, is not important to the plot at all except as a sort of mouthpiece for the ideals that Zootopia is failing to live up to.

This kind of analysis can show you hidden things about your story, such as empowerment issues. For instance, if you have a story full of “strong women,” but all of the plot points are driven by male characters, guess what? You still have a patriarchal story. (Not a problem in the case of Zootopia, but one I did find in another piece I applied this method to.) It can also help you boil down your story to the most essential elements, and show you where things need to be stronger.

For instance, if your resolution is “Luke becomes a fully trained Jedi” and your starting point is “Luke is a mostly-trained Jedi,” this is gonna be a pretty weaksauce arc. On the other hand, if your resolution is “Luke becomes a fully trained Jedi” and your starting point is “Luke is a powerless nobody in the middle of nowhere,” you’ve got a lot more to work with!

In the case of Zootopia, they did a really good job intertwining the characters’ arcs with the thematic (“Zootopia’s Promise”) arc. Judy and Nick have to be friends and equals at the end: therefore they have to be enemies and socially-disparate at the beginning. But the reason they are enemies is because Zootopia isn’t living up to its ideals.

Dude. That’s some tight plotting.

This, more than any adorable furry critters or catchy songs, is why Zootopia works. It’s just damn well written!

-The Gneech

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