Quadrophenia

Stormlight Archive d20, or How to Turn Sanderson's Epic into a Homebrew D&D Game

68 posts in this topic

I'd like to just say this isn't really a recruitment post. I'm not sure when I'll ever do that here. 

First, introductions: Hi! I'm a walking reference to a classic album by The Who... or just call me Fel, I go by both pronouns, it's shorter and easier, and there are two things you ought to know about me. 1) I love tabletop gaming. I've been playing D&D 3.5e and Pathfinder, and few homebrews, for a few years now (and I'd like to thank Dan Harmon for getting me into tabletop gaming, hip hip for Community and Harmontown!). 2) I love homebrewing d20 campaign settings, classes and so forth based on fantasy series I've always felt would make for some terrific gaming. 

For instance, some friends and I have already done a game set in the Berserk universe (that ended disastrously, nightmarishly and horribly; so, you know, appropriately). At the moment, we're even planning to run games set in the universes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda and Super Mario. Those last three aren't my ideas, but the first one is.

Oh! And we're currently running a game in the Disney Canon! No, seriously! A homebrew game where we fight the machinations of every Disney baddie and monster, from the obscure to the mainstream. It's amazing! My character even got the chance to shank the Evil Queen from Snow White in a surprise attack! How? Long story, but it involved my Rogue utilising her Disguise check to pass off... as a comatose Snow White herself. The Evil Queen came to gloat for a villainous monologue... and... 

STAB STAB STAB!

Good times were had! Aaahhh... good times were had.

Now, in my usual group, only a few have read anything by Brandon Sanderson and even fewer have read The Stormlight Archive, but slowly but surely I'm getting them into the greater Cosmere, and it had occurred to me during that, ahem, "conversion" process... that, well, damnation, Stormlight Archive would make for an awesome tabletop game, wouldn't it? It has everything a good D&D-esque game could possibly need:

  • A smorgasbord of races with unique and quantifiable traits (Alethi, Horneaters, Parshendi, etc).
  • A worthy Monster Manual supplement: Chasmfiends, Whitespines, Spren of all types, Voidbringers, Thunderclasts, The Unmade, Larkins, Santhids, Midnight Essence...
  • Potential for distinct homebrew classes: Shardbearers, Windrunners, Lightweavers, Worldsingers...
  • Old gods or god-like entities, always a must for these sort of things. 
  • Landscapes fraught with danger, excitement and mystery, from as mundane as simple bandits to the upcoming apocalypse of the Everstorm. Plenty of opportunity for a party to go about and get lost on all sorts of adventures. 

Mistborn got the licensed RPG treatment, so why not Stormlight Archive? It's a match made in Heaven... right?

I realise, of course, that the Sand-man's penchant for esoteric magic systems, makes any conversion to a d20 system especially difficult. For instance, how does one convert Lashings into d20 mechanics? Or absorbing Stormlight to fuel Surgebinding and the subsequent drainage? How does that work mechanically? Soulcasting can be easily reworked by relying on transformation/conjuration spell lists from D&D, at least, but how could you balance Shardblades (you know, the soul-cutting superweapons that are one-hit-ko's to muggles) without being so OP?

Someone had said to me other day... and on another website... that it'd just be easier to work with a more freeform style, like FATE or OVA. Which is true! ... But I'm not familiar with either. Besides, I'm entertained by the intellectual (well, intellectual as this can possibly get) exercise. A little metaphorical elbow grease and this could work. 

What do you guys think? What are your two cents, who'd like to help me along with this? I know there's already a sort of loose SA d20 game on this site (Desolations & Dungeons, something like that?), but in terms of creating a hardcore Stormlight d20 D&D game, would anyone be up for not only helping me... but maybe even giving it a go as a game in of itself? 

... Or, hey, ask me about some of my crazy other D&D stories and endeavours, heh heh. Avatar: The Last Airbender, Berserk, Disney d20, I do my best.

Edited by Quadrophenia
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I'd be happy to help out with my limited knowledge: I play D&D 5th Edition with a few friends (I'm a Rogue) and have previously GM-ed for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, but I've never attempted to create entirely-new game mechanics. This sounds like a blast.

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8 minutes ago, Elenion said:

I'd be happy to help out with my limited knowledge: I play D&D 5th Edition with a few friends (I'm a Rogue) and have previously GM-ed for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, but I've never attempted to create entirely-new game mechanics. This sounds like a blast.

 

Rogues for life!

Like, imagine coming up with unique mechanics for Lashings, or just stat-ing the awesomeness that is the Chasmfiend...

And how cool would a Chasmfiend be for a boss?

Oh, hell-

The Stormlight Archive is to Brandon Sanderson's body of work what The Dark Tower was to Stephen King's: a sneaky mega-crossover of all the major and minor stories of that cosmology. We've _seen_ Allomancy performed on Roshar, we've seen Hoid at least allude to putting his Awakening powers from Warbreaker to good use (chasmfiend chorus, yay!), and somehow Vasher and Nightblood wounded up on the same world separated, with the latter in the hands of a psychotic immortal Inspector Javert... and then given to the world's greatest assassin. 

There are entire communities and organisations of Worldhoppers, from the 17th Shard to the Ghostbloods (assuming they aren't the same organization). 

Should we open the possibility for players to want to play as a Worldhopping Elantrian, Allomancer or Awakener?

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Good idea, bad idea-

Using Stormlight: Surgebinders have a set number of Stormlight "Points," i.e. the number of charged spheres they have in their inventory. Say it's 50. Using a Surgebinding bit of magic requires spending one point. More complex or demanding forms of Surgebinding requires spending more points (say, five points). So the player will have a limiter placed on their character for narrative and gameplay tension, forces them to consider how to apply their powers carefully and conserve stormlight... 

"What determines the quantity of charged spheres the player owns?"

Hm. Social status + level + Cha mod?

"What if I play a thief and I just steal spheres?"

Fair point.

"Also, in the middle of combat, could I sense any other nearby sources of stormlight?"

Sure! I was thinking of making it an automatic Feat for Surgebinders.

"Buuuut... in the thick of battle, could I drain those nearby sources if my own private stash is depleting faster than I can effectively employ?"

I don't see why not. 

What do you guys think?

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I've set up an RP that sounds a lot like this called Desolations and Dustbringers. One of our players hasn't been on for a while and may not do it. If he doesn't, you might find it fun to join. 

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Just now, Assassin in Burgundy said:

I've set up an RP that sounds a lot like this called Desolations and Dustbringers. One of our players hasn't been on for a while and may not do it. If he doesn't, you might find it fun to join. 

 

I read the set up you had. Didn't you say it's kind of a more loose application of the d20 system? Any tips you might have for how you approached some of the core mechanics of SA from a d20 perspective would be awesome!

And sure, I'll keep that in mind. 

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For lashings it's loosely based on saving throws. For example, a windrunner trying to stick someone to the wall would first have to have the creature make a saving throw. This would be somewhat up to you to decide. For example, a heavily armored human weighed down by weapons and gear would have a harder time making the saving throw versus a skyeel. For the other surges such as soulcasting, I would probably treat it the same way. There's always the chance that the door you're trying to vaporize will just say "I am a door" over and over. As for actually gaining Stormlight, I would assign a certain amount of Stormlight that can be replenished for each sphere. 

I hope this answers some of your questions. 

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4 minutes ago, Assassin in Burgundy said:

For lashings it's loosely based on saving throws. For example, a windrunner trying to stick someone to the wall would first have to have the creature make a saving throw. This would be somewhat up to you to decide. For example, a heavily armored human weighed down by weapons and gear would have a harder time making the saving throw versus a skyeel. For the other surges such as soulcasting, I would probably treat it the same way. There's always the chance that the door you're trying to vaporize will just say "I am a door" over and over. As for actually gaining Stormlight, I would assign a certain amount of Stormlight that can be replenished for each sphere. 

I hope this answers some of your questions. 

 

It does! I like the angle you had with the Lashings. For Soulcasting, I was just going to jury rig D&D's Conjuration/Transmutation spell list for convenience, but I had forgotten to include the whole "psychic communicating with denizens of Shadesmar" aspect. In which case, Lightweavers would need to have seriously high Cha mods... 

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7 minutes ago, Assassin in Burgundy said:

For lashings it's loosely based on saving throws. For example, a windrunner trying to stick someone to the wall would first have to have the creature make a saving throw. This would be somewhat up to you to decide. For example, a heavily armored human weighed down by weapons and gear would have a harder time making the saving throw versus a skyeel. For the other surges such as soulcasting, I would probably treat it the same way. There's always the chance that the door you're trying to vaporize will just say "I am a door" over and over. As for actually gaining Stormlight, I would assign a certain amount of Stormlight that can be replenished for each sphere. 

I hope this answers some of your questions. 

 

Actually, just wanted to ask: comparing and contrasting a skinny guy with no armour and a fat guy loaded with gear, would the former having a saving throw of, say, DC 10 and the other DC 15? 20 if in Shardplate or really heavy armor? 

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1 minute ago, Quadrophenia said:

Actually, just wanted to ask: comparing and contrasting a skinny guy with no armour and a fat guy loaded with gear, would the former having a saving throw of, say, DC 10 and the other DC 15? 20 if in Shardplate or really heavy armor? 

Yeah. But also remember that Shards are pretty much immune to Surges. 

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2 minutes ago, Assassin in Burgundy said:

Yeah. But also remember that Shards are pretty much immune to Surges. 

Right, right, forgot about that.

Now, crazy question, but for your game have you opened the door for Worldhopper characters? For magic users or visitors from other Shardworlds as, say, members of the Ghostbloods or some such?

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3 minutes ago, Quadrophenia said:

Right, right, forgot about that.

Now, crazy question, but for your game have you opened the door for Worldhopper characters? For magic users or visitors from other Shardworlds as, say, members of the Ghostbloods or some such?

I've thought about it. Players probably not, but maybe some NPC's. 

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Just now, Assassin in Burgundy said:

I've thought about it. Players probably not, but maybe some NPC's. 

Do you find it'd cause a power imbalance if you allowed Allomantic/Awakened/Elantrian players into the mix?

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Just now, Quadrophenia said:

Do you find it'd cause a power imbalance if you allowed Allomantic/Awakened/Elantrian players into the mix?

I don't know. I may be wrong, but j think that Investiture only works on its planet, I.E. Allomancy only on Scadrial, Awakening only on Nalthis. 

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Just now, Assassin in Burgundy said:

I don't know. I may be wrong, but j think that Investiture only works on its planet, I.E. Allomancy only on Scadrial, Awakening only on Nalthis. 

But we've seen evidence of Hoid using Allomancy and Awakening on Roshar. Nightblood (presumably) functions perfectly fine in Roshar despite being utterly out of its native element (otherwise why would Nale give it to Szeth?). In one of the Wax and Wayne books, we see a cameo of Khriss's long suffering assistant Nahz fire an apparently magic gun that shoots ghosts at people.

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Just now, Quadrophenia said:

But we've seen evidence of Hoid using Allomancy and Awakening on Roshar. Nightblood (presumably) functions perfectly fine in Roshar despite being utterly out of its native element (otherwise why would Nale give it to Szeth?). In one of the Wax and Wayne books, we see a cameo of Khriss's long suffering assistant Nahz fire an apparently magic gun that shoots ghosts at people.

True. Realmatic Theorh isn't my strong suit. Btw, what book was that?

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Just now, Assassin in Burgundy said:

True. Realmatic Theorh isn't my strong suit. Btw, what book was that?

Lemme see... Bands of Mourning, I do believe. In one of the Broadsheet sections, a story written by a lady adventurer.

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Just now, Quadrophenia said:

Lemme see... Bands of Mourning, I do believe. In one of the Broadsheet sections, a story written by a lady adventurer.

Oh... Yes I do remember that. I need to pay closer attention to the newspaper clippings. 

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One idea I had was to make Shardbearers a full class in their own right. Granted, they'd be glorified Fighters... 

Albeit in magical Iron Man suits enhancing all their physical attributes. They'd each have two automatic Feats:

Shardplate Proficiency, Shardblade Proficiency. Throughout SA, we've seen characters with one, the other or both, so I thought I'd reflect that by having some characters only possess the Proficiency for one. Depends on the player. 

Incidentally, for Shardblades... best idea I've come up with for the sake of balance is giving Shardblades a 25% Crit Rate increase and the ability to deal Con damage. Oh, and ignore AC. How did you approach Shardblades?

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I know it's a side note, but the magic systems can work anywhere. Its mainly a matter of fuel. Roshar doesn't sell Allomancer's Pewter (to give one example). Brandon has said that Awakening can be powered by stormlight, but that nobody's really figured out how yet.

I see getting a Shardblade as something like Fighter to Swordmaster/Warrior, and Plate going towards Berserker(something like that). Having both would be like a Knight (the RPG type, not Radiant :)) Closest I've gotten to RPG's is Fire Emblem games, so fair warning if I say something stupid. Well, KOTOR 2 had some RPG elements to it..

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1 minute ago, The One Who Connects said:

I know it's a side note, but the magic systems can work anywhere. Its mainly a matter of fuel. Roshar doesn't sell Allomancer's Pewter (to give one example). Brandon has said that Awakening can be powered by stormlight, but that nobody's really figured out how yet.

I see getting a Shardblade as something like Fighter to Swordmaster/Warrior, and Plate going towards Berserker(something like that). Having both would be like a Knight (the RPG type, not Radiant :)) Closest I've gotten to RPG's is Fire Emblem games, so fair warning if I say something stupid. Well, KOTOR 2 had some RPG elements to it..

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Nah, s'all good, I get ya. 

Matter of fact, a friend of mine is running a Fire Emblem d20 game. I'm playing a Pegasus Knight!

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I get off for three hours and... wow. Okay, here's my analysis:

Stormlight could be represented with a value: each chip has 1 Stormlight, each mark 2, and each broam 4 Stormlight. Each round a player loses 5% of their stormlight (rounded down) due to loss to the air.

As for classes, I like the idea of each order being a class. At odd-numbered levels they gain a "skill point" in one of their surges, and at even levels they gain a point in the other. Skill points allow for bigger surges, finer control, greater chance of hitting, etc. Here's a few examples that I'm thinking of (spoilered for space):

Spoiler

Surge of Illumination

To Cast: Spend three Stormlight to create an illusion no larger than a one-meter cube. This illusion lasts until dismissed.

Passive Forced: At the end of each round that Surge of Illumination is active, expend one Stormlight. This replaces the usual 5% loss.

Passive Optional: When you cast Surge of Illumination, you may expend X additional Stormlight. If you do so, increase the size of the illusion by X meters in all directions. X cannot be greater than the number of Skill Points that you have in Illumination.

 

Surge of Division:

To Cast: Spend five Stormlight to make a ranged spell attack using your Surgebinding skill. This attack has a range of 80 meters and a long range of 200 meters. If this attack hits, it deals Xd8 Radiant damage, where X is the number of skill points you have in Division.

 

Surge of Abrasion:

To Cast: Spend four stormlight to choose one (not both) of the following effects:

Decrease Friction: Willing creature within 10 meters gains +X Dexterity until the end of that character's next turn, where X is the casters Skill Points in Abrasion. This character gains advantage on all Dexterity saving throws while this effect lasts.

Increase Friction: Target creature within 10 meters must make a Strength or Dexterity (your choice) saving throw. On a failure, the target is knocked prone. The DC for the saving throw is equal to 10 plus double your Skill Points in Abrasion.

 

Surge of Transportation:

To Cast: Spend X Stormlight to move 5 meters per Stormlight spent in any direction. X cannot exceed your Skill Points in Transportation. As an alternative, the user may spend 3 Stormlight to enter Shadesmar. Regardless of effect chosen, the player may spend 1 Stormlight to bring any willing creature within 5 meters with them. The maximum number of additional creatures brought is equal to half of the user's level, rounded down.

I don't like the idea of having Shardbearer as a separate faction, but I also don't want everyone to have the ability. One option would be to make a Feat that grants proficiency with Shardblade and Shardplate. As for the weapons themselves, I'd suggest giving Shardplate a long don/doff time but a relatively-short lifespan, so that the user has to weight mobility and preparedness versus raw power. Shardblades could be nerfed by making them unusable to anyone who does not have proficiency and by making the Blades themselves rare.

As for alternative players like Worldhoppers, I think that we should keep them out, at least for the first version. One we've got the mechanics all nicely oiled-up then we can look into expanding the character options.

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I've never played D&D before... but I'm willing to try it.

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6 hours ago, Elenion said:

@Quadrophenia is on but he's not following the topic, so I'll poke him.

SHEEE!!! jk (no seriously, she's a she)

13 hours ago, Quadrophenia said:

smorgasbord

I have high hopes for you as far as my friends go :) 

Back on track. Sounds interesting Quad (I have strange urges to call you Quetzalcoatl. Why? I have no idea)  But I'm afraid I only know how to use the d20 system not much else. I'll let you guys do the work, then I'll come along and join in when I have free time. (3 RP games, school,sleep,food,funerals,assignments,food,gaming,drawing,ISIS, among alooot more take up my time)

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