Posts tagged Daggerfall

Using Time in Games

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Happy New Year! I hope that the holidays went over well for you and that you’re all looking forward to 2013.

This change in the new year has made me think about the passage of time in roleplaying games. In most games I’ve played, it’s generally not come up. In Dungeons & Dragons, for instance, quests may take many days to complete, but we generally don’t keep track of how many they are and don’t conceptualize larger units of time, like weeks, months, or years. Part of this of course is that in most fantasy settings, they aren’t going to be using the same names for days of the week or months and it doesn’t matter whether the year is 349 or 5192. So in order for time to be used in a roleplaying game, it must be meaninfully measured.

The simplest way to do this is to just use the Gregorian Calendar, since that’s what we use today. Some settings have used the Gregorian Calendar, but gave different names to the days of the weeks and the months. The Elder Scrolls calendar did this, as does the calendar in Low Life (although the latter changes the names out of parody). Part of the reason for this is that a different calendar with different numbers of days to the months doesn’t really add much to the game. (However, there have been a lot of efforts of calendar reform in real life to make it simpler and more logical. But aside from changing the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, none have been successful. I think the world should switch to the International Fixed Calendar, by the way).

Virtually all civilizations have, at the very least, measured the progression of time by seasons. The progression of time has to result in something changing, such as the weather. How many games have you played where your adventuring party started out in hot summer and ended in frigid winter? If you’re like most groups, not. This is partly a result of the trope that It’s Always Spring because it’s simpler to not factor in weather. But I think it’s a lot of fun to include it. Having the weather be rainy or snowy when it’s not because of Chekov’s Gun makes the world seem more alive, and the likelihood of such weather changing over time in long campaigns can add a lot of depth to the game.

Seasons of course are periodic, as are many other units of time. Historically Ancient Rome had 8 day weeks with the eighth day being a market day where everything is closed, while our modern calendar has 7 day weeks because Jews and Christians worship every seventh day. I could see a setting changing the number of days in a week for reasons such as that. And of course, we mark one year as the number of days that pass before Earth is at the same position in relation to the sun. This of course adds the possibility of annual holidays. When was the last time you celebrated a birthday or holiday in your games? You’re missing out!

In many of my games lately I’ve tried to incorporate time and it’s either been a lot of fun! For starters, I mandate that all players must have birthdays. This is done by randomly rolling a d12 for the month and a d30 for the day (if the month has 31 days and they roll a 30, then they roll odds or evens). The only time I had a birthday come up was when I ran Daring Entertainment‘s War of the Dead campaign. In the middle of the zombie outbreak, the six year old girl they rescued realized that it was her birthday and she just turned seven! There was a lot of celebration by all, even with a couple they met using up the last of their flour and eggs to bake a cake, and it really helped raise morale for the characters after all the horror they had been through with the zombies. It was a fun diversion and the players loved it.

Over the summer, I ran a roleplaying game version of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, which unlike the later games had special things happen on certain holidays. For instance during our campaign, the Warrior’s Festival came up, and as a result the player characters could purchase weaponry and training for half price for that day only. One of the players agonized over whether or not to borrow money and buy a weapon at half price or pay for it later at a greater price. I think that the feeling of having the world be more alive was fun as well.

Finally in my current The Last Sons campaign, I’m going full tilt and keeping track of each day that passes. Certain developments in the plot point campaign happen on a certain day (e.g. the national elections) as well as certain holidays. How will the posse be spending Christmas? And the weather is going to change significantly as we get closer to winter. They don’t know about it yet, but there’s also going to be a time limit to the best result of the campaign. Sure you can dawdle around on the Weird West as much as they want, but if they’re not ready on that last day, they’ll miss their shot at making things a whole lot better.

Adding time to your roleplaying games adds a lot of little moments that make the game more enjoyable. It requires a bit more tracking on the GM’s side to pull it off, but I think that it’s worth it in the end.

Playing Daggerfall, Savage Worlds Style

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The Elder Scrolls conversion for Savage Worlds that I made several months ago has been very well received! I’ve heard that several people have already been using it to run campaigns and I figure it’s high time that I let you all know about mine. I’ve taken the ambitious task of taking The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and turning it into a full Savage Worlds Plot Point Campaign.

First, a quick background of Daggerfall. After the modest success of The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Bethesda Softworks created an incredibly ambitious sequel with a non-linear main quest and a game world equal to twice the size of Great Britain (although it was randomly generated). Taking place in the provinces of High Rock and Hammerfell, the player is sent on a mission initially to exorcise the spirit of King Lysandus that haunts the streets of Daggerfall, but it eventually develops into something much more. The game also started off with an awesome live-action cutscene (embedded below). Interestingly, it’s also the only game in the series where you don’t start out as a prisoner.

The majority of the Elder Scrolls lore that we know and love today was introduced in Daggerfall, including the Fighters and Thieves guilds, the Dark Brotherhood, the Aedric gods, the Daedric princes, vampirism, and lycanthropy (in two different flavors: werewolf and wereboar). This was also the first game that allowed Orcs as a playable race and included lore books to read, many of which were reused in later games as well.

The nice thing about doing a retelling of the Daggerfall is that all the quests are already written with full descriptions of them available online. Basically, I’ve been adapting them for use as part of a multi-party campagin (and in many cases expounding on them to provide a more interesting situation that wasn’t possible with the original game engine). The open-ended nature and non-linear main plot also provide a structure that works well with Pinnacle Entertainment’s Plot Point Campaigns in which the players decide to go to a certain location and the GM can flip to the information about that area and see what adventures are available.

There are two main challenges I’ve been having with running Daggerfall as a campaign. The first has been unraveling Daggerfall‘s somewhat messy plot line. It’s a fascinating story, but there are a lot of subtleties in it and “mandatory” quests that don’t really do much in the way of advancing the storyline. There’s also some things that flat out don’t make any sense. So I’ve been simplifying the main quest and making it clearer what things actually lead to others.

The second is creating a good balance between politics and combat. Make no mistake, Daggerfall involves more court intrigue than any other Elder Scrolls game. Some players find drawn out debates with the nobles interesting, others find it boring. Right now I’m struggling a little bit with players who would rather be out fighting. I’m also struggling with the fact that most of the missions in the original game involved crawling through a random dungeon to find some quest item, which can get very monotonous very quickly.

Still, the plot point campaign is working out well overall. I’m typing up my notes and copying information from The Unoffical Elder Scrolls Pages to create a document with a cohesive plot point campaign (or at least a bare bones one) that I hope to release on this site at some point.

If you’re wondering, the following characters are in the group:

  • Sir Alabane T. Mordore, Breton Battlemage (from the court of Northpoint in High Rock)
  • Elaroth Oakenbow, Bosmer Archer
  • Hrothgar Ice-Veins, Nord Battlemage
  • Ri’saad Alakbar, Khajiit Nightstalker

To keep things together, they are all part of the Blades and nobody is allowed to join the Dark Brotherhood. So far, the group has had mixed results in social situations where they either wind up beloved or reviled, but not in the middle. This will probably make some later parts of the main quest more difficult, but we’ll see. Most recently, they also pulled off “The Great Moonsugar Heist” in which they broke into a greenhouse, stole moonsugar cane, and made it look as though animals had broken in. They later ground it up into moonsugar and sold it in a different city. Not bad for several hours; work and I’m sure the local Thieves Guild will have taken notice of it.

I imagine that the campaign will continue until the end of the summer, so I’ll be sure to let you all know how that turns out.

The Elder Scrolls: A Savage Worlds Conversion

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The Elder Scrolls: A Savage Worlds Conversion

I’m very pleased to announce the completion of several months labor: The Elder Scrolls: A Savage Worlds Conversion. This is a massive, 50-page 74 page conversion to bring the world of The Elder Scrolls video games into Savage Worlds.

Why Savage Worlds? Although it is mechanically quite different from The Elder Scrolls video games, I think it does a great job of telling the fantastic stories of heroes who make a difference in the land. My goal is to not replicate the feel of the games, but the feel of the world and what it would be like to have adventures there. I’ve taken elements from all the games, Arena through Skyrim, and created this awesome conversion.

This conversion includes everything you could ever want in an Elder Scrolls conversion:

  • All ten races
  • All thirteen birthsigns
  • A revised magic system that replicates the feel of magic in the video games
  • At least one Racial Edge for each race (including one that allows Nords to do dragon shouts)
  • Sinning tables for all of the Nine Divines
  • Rules for having gear made of a variety of materials
  • Several new Professional Edges
  • A bestiary with everything from Mudcrabs to Dremora Lords
  • Over thirty artifacts
  • Vampirism and lycanthropy

Download

The current version is The Elder Scrolls for Savage Worlds v1.2 (750 KB PDF). I greatly encourage feedback, so put any suggestions you have below in the comments or contact me!

This work is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 and the Savage Worlds fan license. The Elder Scrolls and all related trademarks are the property of Bethesda Softworks. I seek no profit and it is my intention that rather than inhibiting sales, the creation of this product will encourage sales of both Savage Worlds and The Elder Scrolls products.

Character Sheets

Here are some character sheets that have been made for this setting:

Changelog

Version 1.2 (5 September 2012)

New Features

  • Created the Savant Professional Edge, allowing well-educated characters to receive +2 to Common Knowledge rolls
  • Created the Moth Priest Professional Edge, allowing for a character to learn Elder Scrolls prophecy
  • New artifacts: Auriel’s Bow, Auriel’s Shield, Blade of Woe, Chrysamere, Daedric Crescent, Helm of Oreyn Bearclaw, Scourge, Spear of Bitter Mercy, and Warlock’s Ring. All of the “classic” artifacts from Arena and Daggerfall are now included as well as just about all of the ones appearing in two or more of the later games.
  • Added a Racial Edge for Imperials, Luck of the Emperor, which lets Imperials spend a benny to add +1d6 to their trait roll once per day
  • Dai-katanas, darts, and throwing stars have been added to the weapons section
  • Created a table with the prices for every spell in Savage Worlds Deluxe as a spell tome, potion/scroll, and enchantment (with the formulae in Appendix B).
  • Added gear listings for beverages, transportation, and moon sugar/skooma
  • Added Falmer, Dwarven Automata, Mazken, and Rats to the Bestiary
  • Added descriptions for Dragons, Ghosts, Goblins, Liches, Minotaurs, Skeletons, Trolls, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies with instructions to look at their stats in Savage Worlds Deluxe
  • Created Appendix A containing information for using the Fantasy Companion with The Elder Scrolls.

Gameplay Changes

  • Characters no longer receive any free powers, but start with 10 Magicka
  • The All Thumbs Hindrance is now forbidden
  • Khajiit now receive +2 to Streetwise checks to find moon sugar or skooma (this is being counted as a +0 racial ability because it has such as specific use)
  • The Breton “Excessive Eccentricity” has been changed. They now pick any two of several Minor Hindrances
  • Sinning Tables for Dibella, Kynareth, and Mara have been adjusted
  • The requirements for Wizard and Soul Drain were changed to remove references to the Spellcasting skill
  • Adept, Champion, and Holy Warrior now require the Mysticism skill instead of Restoration
  • The Arcane Resistance Edge can now be taken by characters
  • Potent Adrenaline Rush Edge had is rank requirement reduced to Seasoned (was Veteran)
  • Strong Dragonskin now only requires Vigor d6+ (was Vigor d8+) and provides only +1 Armor, but it can stack with other armor.
  • Way of the Voice now allows any power to be taken and the penalties for rolling a 1 are reduced.
  • The Serpent Birthsign is simplified to just require a Touch Attack
  • The Shadow Birthsign now just provides the invisibility power; no separate pool for its use.
  • The Lord Birthsign has been changed to allow those born under it to spend a Benny to automatically heal one wound
  • Enchanting is simpler: enchanted artifacts get a pool of Magicka equal to 5 times the power needed to cast the spell.
  • Changed the range of Jump to Touch and reduced the Magicka required to 2
  • Divine Intervention is now its own power (was previously a modifier for Teleport)
  • Water Walking is now a function of Environmental Protection instead of Elemental Manipulation
  • All Vampires now gain a bite attack dealing Str+d4 damage
  • Sunlight is drastically more lethal to vampires, resulting in a Fatigue level every hour, minute, three rounds, and round of exposure for the first through fourth days respectively.
  • The positive benefits of Vampirism after the fourth day without feeding have been changed to gaining the Undead monstrous ability and temporarily gaining the invisibility power that only works at night.
  • Clanfear have Agility d8 (was d6)
  • Daedroth have Agility d6 and Smarts d4(A) (was Agility d8 and Smarts d8(A))
  • Dremora have Smarts d10 (was d8)
  • Dremora Lords have Smarts d12 (was d10)
  • Dreugh have Intimidation d6 (was d4) and no longer have animal intelligence
  • Frost Atronachs have Strength d6 (was d4) and a Frostbolt ability to match the Flame Atronach’s Firebolt ability.
  • Golden Saints have Intimidate d6 (was untrained)
  • Hunger’s “Devour Metal” special ability now uses the Breaking Things rule in Savage Worlds Deluxe.
  • Scamps no longer have Shooting d4.
  • Slaughterfish are now a Swarm, rather than an individual creature
  • Spriggan now have Smarts d8 (was d10), Claws, and Fast Regeneration
  • Storm Atronachs now have Smarts d10 (was d8) and a Shockbolt ability to match the Flame Atronach’s Firebolt ability.
  • The Ebony Mail now only prevents three of the most common offensive powers from working, rather than all powers from the Destruction school.
  • Wabbajack transformations now only last for 1d6 hours instead of 1d6 days
  • The Elder Scrolls artifact has been modified due to the addition of the Moth Priest Edge.

Textual Changes

  • Went through every page with a red pen, making hundreds of text revisions and clarifications
  • Moved information about powers from the Fantasy Companion to the newly formed Appendix A

Version 1.1 (31 March 2012)

New Features

  • Created a new “Necromancer” Professional Edge, which provides a cheaper way of summoning Skeletons, allows the use of the zombie power, and allows the creation of Black Soul Gems
  • Created a new “Wizard of War” Professional Edge, which allows an individual to make both a Destruction and Fighting attack in the same round and apply a –2 penalty to just one of them
  • Added the jump power originally printed as the leap power in SharkBytes Vol. 1, Issue 3, pg. 36

Gameplay Changes

  • The Alteration, Destruction, and Restoration skills are linked with Spirit, rather than Smarts
  • In order to better replicate the games, additional Powers are now purchased with money, rather than learned as part of the New Power Edge.
  • Altmer take a –2 Toughness versus Fire, Cold, and Electric attacks
  • Khajiit now have a d6 Stealth at character creation
  • The Steed birthsign now grants a bonus when running
  • Scrolls with ranged spells target with a Smarts roll, rather than a Shooting roll
  • The zombie power is now limited to those who have the Necromancer Professional Edge
  • Slightly improved the Scamp’s Pace and bite/claw attack and fixed an error in calculating its Toughness
  • The Mace of Molag Bal now actually has its damage listed (Str+d8+2)
  • A duplicate entry for Volendrug (with different statistics!) has been removed

Textual Changes

  • Clarified text of Dunmer’s “Grim Demeanor” racial feature to make it clearer that the Mean hindrance does not apply to other Dunmer
  • Made the Khajiit climbing bonus listed separately from the Natural Claws racial feature.
  • Clarified the Redguard Adrenaline Rush text to make it more obvious that Mighty Blow and other Wild Card Edges cannot be used
  • Clarified the text of The Warrior birthsign to indicate that it can’t be used to boost damage
  • Made it clearer that most, but not all, attack powers bottled in a potion will require a Throwing roll to activate
  • Added a missing “not” to the Enchantment text
  • Added mark to note that Bless/Curse is found in the Fantasy Companion
  • Gave the falling rate in game inches for the Slowfall power
  • Clarified text of Azura’s Star to make it clear that a creature must have the soul trap spell active upon it for it to be trapped

Version 1.0 (5 March 2012)

  • Initial Release
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