The book will focus on both playability and historical authenticity, ideal for a fairly gritty style of D&D play. It will be viable for Sandbox play or for a more linear sort of 'historical campaign', and will feature plenty of elements for both old-school adventuring with a medieval-authentic twist, or for political-intrigue gaming in the style of everyone's favorite fantasy TV show. And just like Game of Thrones, there's a very good chance that all your favorite characters will be dead before it's over.
The layout process is up to 200 pages now, and thanks to Mr. Crouzet it looks stunningly gorgeous. It's going to be jam-packed with spectacular medieval/early-renaissance art, magnificent maps (ranging from a full-sized two-page hexmap of Albion & The Continent, to localized hexmaps of specific counties or regions), and some awesome schematics of some fairly unusual dungeons. You can find a sample of the type of setting-gazetteer material here in what was the early origins of the setting, though the print version will be widely expanded and will feature a lot of other material you won't find on that thread, not to mention looking much prettier.
It will include guidelines on rules, new magic rules (including a medieval-esque system of demon summoning), lots of material on the Continent, the evil Frogmen, the Church of the Unconquered Sun, a set of rules for managing noble houses (their resources, mechanics for using house influence, and a simple resolution system for large battles), and plenty more! There's going to be historically-based rules on law and justice, on economics and prices, social class, sumptuary laws, historically-accurate common names by region, lots of tables for random events and encounters, and house descriptions (and heraldry) for the major and minor noble houses that played a part in the Rose War.
The book will not contain its own full-blown game system. But it will have two very interesting appendices: the first, written by Dominique Crouzet, will be a conversion appendix with lots of interesting new powers and classes for his Fantastic Heroes & Witchery RPG rules! Any FH&W fan will want to take a look at this. In addition to this appendix, and all the editing/layout work, Dominque also helped co-write several of the adventure scenarios in the book, as well as some of the other sections.
The second will be "Appendix P", which are my own old-school D&D house rules. A mix of stuff I've used from a variety of sources and of my own inspiration, these house rules are pretty ideal for creating a particularly gritty game for old-school play.
Today's preview comes from these house rules, and it's my Critical hit rules. Perfect for making sure that even a great hero might die at any moment from an unlucky break (again, just like what happens to some of our most beloved characters in a certain HBO TV show..). Without further ado, here they are, straight from "Appendix P":
Optional Critical Rules (for ultra-gritty play)
Given that Dark Albion is inspired by the very bloody War of the Roses, and gamers may also be inspired by the bloodiness of certain fantasy novels and TV shows that are inspired by and have the same style as the Rose War, it may be desirable to have some rules for those types of critical hits that leave characters with terrible and often permanent disfigurement, or even instant death to even the greatest of warriors.
Whenever a natural 20 is scored on an attack roll it is a critical hit. In that case, roll 1d20, modified by Charisma. Fighters also add their level to the result. Modify the details of the results according to what is sensible for the kind of strike made.
1-3 A serious cut or bash that does an extra +1d4 damage!
4-6 A severe cut that will leave a bad scar on the body, but can be hid by clothing. +1d4 damage!
7-9 A severe strike that in some way leaves a scar or disfigurement on the face (a gash, burn, etc.); +1d4 damage AND a -1 to reaction rolls in any situation where physical beauty would matter
10-11 A very bad wound that bleeds profusely! +1d6 damage, and the character loses a further -1 hp per round from bleeding until he receives some form of first aid from a qualified person.
12 Character loses a finger on one hand (roll randomly). The character must make a saving throw to avoid dropping anything held in that hand. If it is a dominant hand, the victim will have a -1 to hit in combat until the next time they gain a level.
13 A bad injury (+1d4 damage), make a saving throw to avoid falling to the ground. The wound leaves the victim in constant pain. They only heal ½ as much from regular methods, and suffer insomnia. May turn to drugs for pain-free sleep.
14 A bad injury (+1d4 damage) to a leg; the victim falls to the ground and cannot get up without aid until healed. The victim will suffer from a permanent limp, only able to run at half-speed from then on.
15 A bad injury (+1d4 damage) to an arm (roll randomly to determine which); the victim drops anything held with that arm. If it is the dominant arm, the PC will have a -2 penalty to all to-hit rolls until they gain a level, at which point it will be reduced to a permanent -1 penalty.
16 A severe strike (+2d6 damage) to a muscle of the torso; the victim must make a saving throw to avoid collapsing in shock. The character from that point on can only carry half as many objects without penalty, and can only march for half as long in a day without suffering exhaustion.
17 A brutal strike to the groin (+1d6 damage, plus losing -1 hp per round until receiving first aid); the victim must make a saving throw to avoid collapsing in shock. Any male who survives is left permanently impotent; which will have enormous (negative) social consequences if it is known!
18 A brutal strike to the throat (+1d6 damage)! The victim must make a saving throw versus paralysis or begin to asphyxiate (they will pass out in 1d6 rounds and die in a number of rounds equal to their CON if they do not receive aid from a trained surgeon!). If the victim survives he must make a saving throw; failure means the character can no longer speak (success still leaves the voice changed).
19 A strike to the spine (+2d6 damage!); the victim falls to the ground and cannot get up, and must make a saving throw to avoid passing out from shock. If they survive the battle, a second saving throw is required; failure means the victim will never walk again (barring magical intervention).
20 A brutal strike to the head (+1d8 damage); requiring an immediate saving throw, failure means the head was sliced open or bashed in, and the victim is instantly killed. If the first saving throw succeeds, the victim falls to the ground unconscious. A second saving throw is required if the victim survives the battle; failure means they have lost the use of one eye (with penalties to perception, to hit in melee, and severe penalties to ranged attacks).
21+ An extreme and vicious blow! The victim must make a saving throw, if they fail the roll they are instantly slain (decapitated, cut in half, snapped like a twig, etc.). Even if they succeed the save they take triple the usual damage.---
Dark Albion: The Rose War should be available for sale some time in June.
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