Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game by Syrg Sapphire
Introduction/LoredumpOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
So once upon a time there was an author named Robert Jordan. He wrote one of the larger "epic fantasy" series of the 90s, and, despite dying, did manage to leave solid enough notes to finish the series (supposedly satisfactory - I have no idea yet. I dug out my old copies and bought the new stuff to just give it a final readthrough. I'm in the middle right now). In 2001, though, there was also a Wizards of the Coast tie-in to their rather-fresh d20 system. It is... questionable. There are highlights to it, but man, when it whiffs, it whiffs.
Just gonna say right now: if you plan to read these books, may want to skip this post, I'm gonna go over the relevant bits of lore that'll fill in the actual system posts, and it'll probably spoil big twists of the first few books for you (when this game came out, 9 of the eventual 14 had been released).
The Wheel of Time & The Pattern
The cosmos of the WoT world are formed by the titular wheel, a massive loom that spins The Pattern, tapestries of time and space which are massive chunks of history broken up by Age. The novels, and thus 99% of the material in the RPG, take place in the Third Age, but there was a lot of leadup given for how things became the way they did in the Second Age, also known as...
The Age of Legends
The Age of Legends is pretty much your perfect utopian society, lost to the disasters which ended that Age. Imagine an optimistic near-future of our world and you'll have the basis of it - among some of the stuff mentioned in the histories or shown as relics of the past were TV-like devices, weather control machinery, personal flying vehicles, a lack of wealth or currency, phones, endless lightbulbs, AC... etc. You get the point I assume.
The big difference was that there were also the Aes Sedai ("Servants of All"), men and women who could channel the One Power (we'll get there). It wasn't full-on wizard supremacy or anything - we know that there was still science and technology, but sometimes the Power would be used to further research a theory or create some of the wonders in question.
The One Power
Despite its name, there were two halves to it, and five elements. Women channeled saidar , and men saidin . Spells were "weaves", made up of the elements of power (air, earth, fire, spirit, water) "channeled" into configurations that caused an effect, thus, the common name of any spellcaster as "channelers". Men tended to be stronger in earth and fire, women in air and water. (Spirit seems to be equal among genders.) There was a single, disasterous time when the Power was truly "one", and that was...
Researchers reading the Pattern (this was an actual thing they could do, study the cloth of time and space - seriously, Aes Sedai could do some crazy shit in the Age of Legends) discovered what seemed to be "raw" energy of the One Power, neither broken into saidar/saidin. A linked pair of male and female Aes Sedai channeled it, in one amazing burst of energy... and bored a hole into the prison of the Dark One (effectively, the devil). From this point on, evil was an actual force in the world, and shit went bad, leading to...
The War of Power
Some people signed right the fuck up with the Dark One, who, while still imprisoned, was now able to affect the Pattern subtly through the hole in his prison. They came to be known as Darkfriends, and among them were some of the most potent Aes Sedai known (the Forsaken). As the Age of Legends came to a close, the battles between Darkfriends and the forces of light culminated in a man named Lews Therin Telamon ("the Dragon", and the most powerful channeler of record) leading his Thirteen Companions in an assault on the Bore against the Forsaken*. The Companions created a seal on the prison, and trapped the Forsaken inside with their master. The only problem with this, however, was the Dark One did not go quietly, and struck back before he was locked away.
* I'm doing this so late at night that only when I double-checked did I realized I had written "an assault against the Foreskin" here
The Taint/The Breaking
The Dark One ended up turning the Companions' success into a stalemate, as his backlash against the world was to leave a taint upon saidin . Within years, every male channeler* would go mad, and in their utter insanity, the Breaking of the World occurred. Cities were levelled, oceans were dried, mountains were destroyed/created, and, when even Lews Therin went mad, his rampage earned him the title "Kinslayer" for the fate he inflicted upon his wife and children. A brief moment of clarity where he realized what he had done led to the climax of the crisis: he summoned up enough of the Power to try destroying himself, but in the process, reshaped the entire face of the world. Continents split, islands sunk, climates changed, and millions were dead. "Dragonmount", a massive spire, was the final resting place of Lews Therin, his body entombed inside the peak that rose to swallow him whole.
This is actually pretty huge for the game world as it exists - this is basically the Tower of Babel of the WoT universe. Everyone still speaks the same tongue, but the nations that formed at the beginning of the Third Age would all be seperate, and become their own entities. Given that there are only two naturally occuring** races in the world, national divisions/cultures are where the 'race' choice on your character sheet comes in.
* Okay, so any Darkfriend channeler was immune.
** I don't think I need to explain that Darkfriends created some really vile shit in the War of Power. It was hard to get that genie back in the bottle once the taint became a thing.
The Third Age, in Brief
Nations rose and fell over time, and massive amounts of talents or knowledge were lost to the ages. "Aes Sedai" now refers only to female channelers, who work from the White Tower and go out into the world to try and keep order or shape events in ways that can keep the world intact. Male channelers are "gentled" (cut off from the One Power permanently) whenever found, as their fate is pretty much common knowledge at this point. Still, channelers of all stripes are ill-liked in large parts of the world, as the history paints channelers dicking around with what they shouldn't have leading to the Breaking.
Still, everyone knows, to some degree, of the Prophecies of the Dragon - that Lews Therin will be reincarnated in a new form, and rise up to reunite the nations of man before the Last Battle against the Dark One. Every once in a while, a male channeler evades notice and comes onto the scene as a mover and shaker. Nations go to war and innocents die in the wake of a "false Dragon", but as the novels/game begin, such occurances are becoming more and more frequent. The Aes Sedai know that the patch on the Dark One's prison won't hold forever, and two girls were present for another channeler's dying vision: "He is born! On the slope of Dragonmount, he comes!"
The Novels (as of the RPG)
A young man named Rand al'Thor is the Dragon Reborn, and has begun to fulfill the Prophecies of the Dragon. Reluctantly, he leaves the farming village of the Two Rivers, and is dragged into the world when a festival ends in his farm (and those of two other boys, born within days of him) being burned to the ground by Darkfriends. Talents from lost histories are beginning to reappear in humans, and the three boys, all ta'veren (they bend the Pattern around themselves, causing strange events in their vicinity... more when they're clustered together, and Rand being the strongest ever seen), are now shaking up the world massively. Nations swear fealty to him, and others prepare their knives for his head, thinking him yet another false Dragon. The Forsaken are walking the world, some of them climbing openly into positions of power to flex their muscle, others hiding and waiting for an opportunity to kill Rand. The rules take place after al'Thor has founded the Black Tower, inviting all male channelers to learn from him, and prepare for the Last Battle. Everything has gone fucking nuts and the world is going to be through a lot more misery before anything can get better...
Next time: Races, and how this license really shouldn't have been attached to d20
Backgrounds, or, "How To Do Races With Only Two Humanoid Species"Original SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
2: Backgrounds, or, "How To Do Races With Only Two Humanoid Species"
So here are the character sheets for WoT d20. These will probably look familiar to a lot of you! And if you were familiar with 3e you can already probably see where things are gonna get weird.
As I mentioned a few times, the "race" choice for this game comes down to your nationality of origin (with a single exception). The problem is that, as someone mentioned, there are some really interesting lands in this world, and a few of them just get fucked over. Humans can start out as Aiel, Atha'an Miere (any further reference to them will be by their common name, "Sea Folk" - fuck this apostrophe shit everywhere, ugh), Borderlander, Cairhienin, Domani, Ebou Dari, Illianer, Midlander, Tairen, Tar Valoner, Taraboner*, and in the lone additional book for the line ( Prophecies of the Dragon - it's 99% adventure hooks and plots, I'm just gonna cover the additional stuff in this writeup), there were rules for the Seanchan**.
* Tell me you don't giggle every time you see that name.
** According to a friend, this really is pronounced how it's spelled, if the audiobooks are anything to go by, so please, imagine the empire of the Sean-chan, kawaii desu~
Every background gives you the following: background feats (pick one, you can choose another on the list later when you have feat choices though), background skills (pick one, it becomes a class skill), a home language, a short list of bonus choices for language should you have high enough INT (utterly idiotic aside from three backgrounds' bonuses, because again, YOU ALL SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE), and three equipment packages (pick one). Aiel are locked out of ever picking a specific skill and weapon, and Sea Folk are locked INTO picking a skill so... I don't know why they have a full list. Nothing mentions a way around that choice or how to get a second choice off the skill list. Onto the nationalities, then!
This game pretty much tells you "if you are an Aiel, you are going to be this class".
The Aiel live in a massive desert known as (shockingly) the Aiel Waste. You know the Fremen, from Dune ? These are basically them. Aiel are one of the two nationalities that you would classify as "the hardest motherfuckers alive", and if you had to put it down to one they'd probably win out. They have a rather in-depth system of clans and sub-clans which don't play into this book at all, and so I'm going to just overlook that to keep from becoming That Dude Who Goes On About WoT Lore. They're generally redheaded, with some being more blonde than crimson, and have dark, tanned skin which doesn't really match how that works in our world at all. I'm gonna hit on more of their cultural stuff in the class section, given that one of the classes is virtually Aiel-exclusive, and mechanicschat will be better there.
If you are an Aiel, you are forbidden to ever wield a sword, or learn to ride*. Most of your background feats, though, are pretty solid, being "+2 to (pair of skills)" or "+1 to (save), +2 to (skill)", without any of the awful restrictions some other nations get. Overall, this game goes real low on the numbers, as you'll see, so bonuses like this are pretty solid for a long while. You'll be going stealthy (Hide, Move Silently) or scouty (Spot, Wilderness Lore) with your background skills. Then we get to language choices. Aiel get Common (Aiel) by default, and can choose from Common (Cairhien)*... or Aiel Hand-Speech. Nobody else gets this, but to keep it from being overpowered, you get to pick it for one clan or society at a time. There are 12 of each. Not so handy unless you plan to be around the Wastes a lot, but who knows, maybe your world takes place after they get involved in prophecies or start to migrate out of the desert.
* I do find it hilarious that, given their usual cultural fear of large rivers/oceans/lakes, Swim isn't the restricted skill.
** A bit of a sick joke. At the time of the books, it's been 20 years since the Aiel War, when they came out of the waste and beelined for Cairhien to murder the king who cut down a tree representing an ancient treaty. They had good trade with them once! Really!
For equipment, you're either getting:
a tent, a
(Aiel-specific armor, desert camoflage), a buckler, a waterskin, and 2 healer's balms (the right answer most of the time)
Jewelry (60 mk value)
(cash in this game works as follows: copper penny, silver penny, silver mark, gold crown - a vast majority of items are in silver marks)
- a shortbow (Aiel), 20 arrows, a buckler
Best class(es): algai'd'siswai , initiate
Atha'an Miere (Sea Folk)
Sometimes images are in frames. I don't know why either.
The Sea Folk really shouldn't have been a character race. I'm just gonna throw that out there. These dudes do not leave their ships unless forced. It's said that making them head onto land is the kind of thing that can make experienced captains cry. (For some reason there is also lore that speaks of them heading off land into rowboats to give birth should a pregnant Sea Folk woman's water break, so. That one's always confused me.) But just offhand from lore these dudes stick to their ships, won't let Aes Sedai on board their ships unless there's massive need (to hide that their Windfinders can be channelers), and are secretive to amazing degrees, having fast ships and the gall to head out into areas nobody else will (or killing anyone who heads into some of those regions, to protect their secrets).
That said, they're pretty solid folk to deal with. They keep their word once given, won't fuck you on a deal, and if you travel with them, they refuse payment, instead just asking for a "gift" (which, technically, amounts to payment, but if you have great enough need, they'll probably waive fees for some sort of trade or lower "price"). Their background feats are all based on their trading or sailing skills, and skills follow the same theme (Intuit Direction, Profession (Sailor)*, Swim, Use Rope). Their additional languages all correspond to the coastal nations, since... c'mon, do I really have to explain that one? You also basically get hosed on all your starter kits as a Sea Folksman:
a rapier and an hourglass
2 healer's balms, a hooded lantern, 50ft. silk rope
- Jewelry (100 mk value)
* Profession (Sailor) is a required skill. So I'm pretty sure you just... have to take it? Unless you're one of three classes, maybe, but one of those is "Woodsman", and another locks you into channeling. Sometimes I hate d20.
Best class(es): wanderer, wilder
Have I mentioned the art is inconsistent in this book? The art is wildly inconsistent in this book.
Now these dudes are the shit. Recall when I said Aiel had competition for the hardest men alive? This is that competition. The Borderlands are four (formerly five) kingdoms* on the edge of the Blight, the region** where the "patch" on the Dark One's prison is located, and where his taint is strongest on the world. They're very poetic, actually: living so close to a brutal, unforgiving land where hordes of horrors might come down at any time, the culture prides itself on the little, peaceful moments in life. A lot of the traditions and eccentricities in the north revolve around Trying Not To Die: streets are kept fully-lit at night by any means necessary (to prevent various creatures from teleporting in via shadows), and it's illegal to cover your face in a few kingdoms (so a faceless, but otherwise human-looking Myrddraal can't go undetected).
* For ease of summary, anytime we have a 'nation' that's a mashup like this, I'm just going to cover the common ground rather than get into a bunch of seperate kingdoms worth of fashion and exports? I hope nobody minds.
** Yes, I'm going to post a map later, there's a chapter about the world and different regions I figured it'd all fit better in.
Their background feats are somewhat generic (ride horses well! sneak and hide well!) but they get one Borderlander-only feat which makes them excellent Ranger-alikes: "Shadowspawn Hunter". When fighting Trollocs (fodder-tier Shadowspawn), you get +1 on damage, and improved critical range. Take it again you can add either Draghkar or Myrddraal to the bonus effects. Take it a third time (and anytime after should you go for 4-5) and add Darkhounds or Gray Men to the choices. Those are the only 5 choices, but it's still a solid buff given that all of these are creatures you do not want to fuck around with when fighting. Every single one save Trollocs has a pretty lethal leg up on a normal human, ranging from save-or-dies, to poisonous blood you need to resist on every melee hit, to... it goes on. Their skills consist of not letting anything Shadow-spawned get the jump on you (Knowledge (Blight), Listen, Move Silently), or riding horses (Ride. Duh). In an interesting twist, they can learn Trolloc as a bonus language, for those times when you want to sneak up on a band and figure out what they're up to. Equipment, though, leans in a very specific direction...
horse (heavy), bit & bridle, military saddle, studded leather armor
horse (light), bit & bridle, riding saddle, 2 healer's balms
- a mail shirt
On the other hand, the horse and equipment can probably be sold for more equipment than a lot of starter backgrounds might net you, right?
get fucked, horsehavers
Oh. Well shit. You pretty much always want the mail shirt when not playing a Borderlander as a horsemaster: it's worth 10 gold crowns IF you don't want the strongest light armor you can get in the game.
Best class(es): armsman, woodsman
A nation of mall-goths
Cairhien's a nation that's effectively on the wane at the time of the books. They had a massive trade monopoly and routes with the Aiel and other people to the west of the world, all fucked up in a single instant by their last king's decision to cut down a tree given to them by the Aiel centuries ago. The events of the war left farms fallow, refugees still crowd some of the larger cities, and everything is spiraling downwards into further misery and poverty. The nation is mostly known at this point for its "Great Game", where the nobility are born to try and one-up/undermine all other nobles at the expense of any other activity. Everything you do, especially if you're an outlander sniffing around in Cairhien (doubly so if a foreign noble), is going to be analyzed and studied by these guys, looking for a) what's in it for you/what you might be planning, and b) how they can use it/you to their advantage.
Straight up, if you're playing a Cairhienin, you're gonna be a noble. This is another one of those times where the classes are effectively locked in for the nation you choose, and where the game suffers from being a d20 product. There are almost twice as many nationalities as classes, and it really would have been better if they weren't trying to work off of a race/class foundation, since all the "bonuses" just limit your path massively if you don't choose the right complimentary pairings. The game runs on lower-than-D&D numbers, so every bonus you squeeze out from your starting skills is going to last a while... and any gap you have will hamper you for the same period. It's also, again, another nation that kinda sucks lore-wise over some of the things overlooked.
Anyway. Your feats/skills are all going to be social, you can grease the right palms, know what districts are worth heading to if you need information, or pick up on the innuendo/motive people have when you're chatting. Your equipment also follows the theme of being some ponce from a nice house:
military saddle, longsword, small steel mirror
hourglass, 2 healer's balms
- noble's outfit, signet ring
Best class(es): noble
Next time: More backgrounds, more griping
More Backgrounds, More ProblemsOriginal SA post
Let's steamroll over that awkwardness, shall we?
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
3: More Backgrounds, More Problems
So many of these suuuuuuuck. Or their art does, anyway.
The lone time "Sexy Lady" would be appropriate art and they fuck it up somehow
The Domani are a pretty divisive people (their nation being Arad Doman). They're at war with the nation of Tarabon in the "current" time period, and a lot of their culture is... hedonistic, to summarize. The women are generally seductive and crafty, the men are similarly erotic but are more known for having tempers akin to the metaphorical bull in a china shop. Nobody really holds back in Arad Doman. They use what are pretty clearly chopsticks for their incredibly spicy food, and accept travellers right up until said outsiders give them shit about part of their culture. That said, the aforementioned war is over land between Arad Doman and Tarabon, and despite this, nobody's made a move on it, and trade continues. That's right: there is a straight-up cold war in this world.
Their background feats are actually broad - gain some weapon specializations, take a free class skill (repeatable), gain better bluff/gather info checks, and their somewhat-flawed unique feat, "Seductive", wherein they get +3 bluff/diplomacy... with the opposite sex. Gonna be honest, I know why it's limited like that (+3s are rare, especially in starting feats), but I would have just made it "with one sex (pick)" given we're dealing with the hedonist nation. Skills match this: Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Info, and, just like Seductive, the one that stands out/is innuendo-y: Perform. Equipment isn't nearly as interesting, sadly:
jeweled signet ring (70 mk value)
courtier's outfit, fine wine (2 bottles)
- masterwork musical instrument
Best class(es): noble, wanderer
Nobody gives a shit about the Ebou Dari: these are the only two pictures of them in the book, neither from the backgrounds chapter like all the others I'm using
Ebou Dar is an incredibly ordered, formal society. Duels are commonplace should you offend someone, and the general advice given dealing with them is "brush up on the rules before heading there". Also, everyone has knives, "curved daggers of distinctive shape and decoration" are an easy way to identify an Ebou Dari outside of their homeland. Probably the most interesting bit of their culture are these two facts: "Every married woman wears a dagger called a marriage knife, hanging between her breasts from a choker. It is a gift from the woman's husband, who gives it on their wedding day with a solemn instruction to stab him with it should he ever displease her." and "Ebou Dari law presumes any woman is justified in killing a man, unless proven otherwise." I realize technically by telling someone Altarians weren't in this game I was a little off, since Ebou Dar is the "capital" of the nation... but nobody outside of the city really pays them any heed at all, according to text. They're kinda their own weird thing. As a result of that, plenty of wilders seeking to avoid the White Tower hide in the city, keeping a low profile.
Their special background feat? Duelist, of course (somehow this means +2 on Diplomacy and +2 on initiative). There is seriously nothing amazing in their skills or languages (for some reason, they can get Balance or Open Lock as a background skill? I have no idea why), and the equipment is similarly odd. Am I forgetting some character from the novels who was an Ebou Dari thief?
jeweled dagger or marriage knife (60 mk value)
disguise kit, grapple hook, hemp rope 50ft.
- masterwork thieves' tools
Best class(es): wanderer, wilder
This guy is going to open source your royalty.
Illian is the closest a major nation gets to democracy as we know it. There's a king, but he's kept in check by their two other ruling authorities: the Council of Nine (noblemen who "advise: the king) and the Assemblage (merchants/shipowners who "advise" the other two). They won't force similar onto other nations, feeling that would make them the tyrants they despise, but if someone starts fucking with one of their neighbors or trying to take over, they come to the rescue ASAP. The three bodies are also hilariously petty. The Council's meeting place is known as the Great Hall - it resides across a plaza from the king's palace. The king said they could design it however the hell they liked so long as it didn't trump his house. In response, they built an exact replica of the building, 2 feet smaller on every side.
Lore sidenote: this is where the Great Hunt of the Horn begins every time the ceremony is called. Thousands from across the world show up to recieve a blessing and be declared an official Hunter of the Horn*, and then go seeking the legendary Horn of Valere, in groups or individually. The Pattern has played a massive joke on them, though - the Dragon Reborn already found it and hid it away, to keep the artifact out of Darkfriend hands before the Last Battle.
* The Horn of Valere is an ancient artifact said to call the dead heroes of legend back to life for whoever blows it. If someone does blow it, they're linked to the horn until their death, making them a prime target for any opponents wanting the thing.
Background feats are generic bonuses, and Illianers don't have a special feat of their own. Skills are Craft (pick one), Intimidate, Knowledge (pick one) or Search, and they get one of the better, broader sets of equipment to run with, fitting with the sheer variety of roles an Illianer could fill:
courtier's outfit, light crossbow
short sword, trail rations (20 days worth), 2 healer's balms
- trade goods (roll on a table in chapter 7)
Best class(es): noble, armsman, wanderer
Pretty much every character you love in the novels came out of the Midlands.
Hooooooly shit the "Midlands" region covers plenty. I'll show you on the map in chapter 12, but this is the actual text from the book: "Midlanders come from[...]: Andor, Murandy, Far Madding, Ghealdan, and villages including the Two Rivers region, Edmond's Field, and Baerlon. Characters from Amadicia and the northern regions of Altara, Illian, and Tear could also claim Midlander background." Dudes are literally too stubborn to ever give up. The villages in question were once a kingdom known as Mantheren, who fought down to the last man when the armies of the Blight tried to come down into the kingdoms of man. The scattered villages in the region are the legacy of those warriors and kings.
The big two we ought to point out in there are the Two Rivers region (where Rand al'Thor and his two ta'veren companions were raised, a place where the old blood runs strong) and Andor, a queen-headed monarchy that technically controls a lot of those villages but hasn't really bothered in ages. Andor is the only nation that sends its royal heirs to train in Tar Valon and the White Tower growing up, the women and future queens learning from their scholars (and, rarely, how to be an Aes Sedai if they can channel), and the male heirs training under the Warders to become some of the finest swordsmen and guards in the land.
They've got one of the most solid all-rounder feats in the game with Luck of Heroes: +1, all saves, no downside. Similarly, "Bullheaded" just sums up the people to a T. If, for some reason, you wanted Handle Animal as a free skill, this is the only background that can grant it. Equipment-wise, we're also scattered as hell:
horse (light), healer's kit
boar spear, longsword, leather armor, small steel shield, tent
- Two Rivers longbow
That last one is the craziest bow in the game, being a massive bow one can wield from a saddle, 110+ft. range, and solid construction allowing it to function with minimal upkeep so long as you've got some replacement strings.
Best class(es): armsman/woodsman (pretty even depending on build)
Next time: The last backgrounds, and where they get WEIRD.
No More BackgroundsOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
4: No More Backgrounds
Let's wrap this up. Thankfully, all the odd ducks were saved for last!
You'd BETTER be a male channeler if you're going to dress like a madman.
Tear is basically the anti-Illian (which is why the two are constantly at odds). Place is ruled by a group known as the High Lords, who give the finger to anyone who isn't nobility or Tairen. They can do this, and not get their damn heads stomped in, because Tear has a massive fortress known as the Stone of Tear which has fallen a grand total of 0 (zero) times, and will not, according to prophecy, until the Dragon Rebor- oh. Oh .
The book assumes we're pre-Rand, though, at least in describing their culture. He sort of flips the fucking table on them.
As assholes, Tairens don't get anything amazing feat or skill-wise, but they do get what's one of the weirder abberations (typos?) in the book with a four-but-actually-three choice list for equipment:
Horse (light), bit & bridle, riding saddle, courtier's outfit
"Money and dice or cards"
(this is how it's written in the book, but I think this was meant to be removed in favor of the next one...)
35 silver marks, dice or deck of playing cards
- mail shirt
Best class(es): If you are honestly shocked that I say "noble" here, you may have a negative INT bonus. Also, armsmen.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR
Tar Valon is a small nation, but it contains the White Tower, home of the Aes Sedai, and so it is not to be fucked with lightly. Place is beautifully constructed, mostly because it is effectively Fantasy Vatican City: when you have a population of ~1500 tops, you can keep the place in good order with ease. Not shockingly, containing some of the world's best channelers and swordsmen, it's pretty orderly, and well-learned. Also, and this should be obvious: no real bias against channelers. Female channelers, anyway.
Choose the Tar Valoner background if:
- Your father banged an Aes Sedai and you want to tell everyone
- You want to be educated without being a Noble specifically
- You want any craft/knowledge/profession skill, because they can pick one of those off the bat without any kind of restriction
Warder's Sword, studded leather armor
light crossbow, hooded lantern, small steel mirror
- 65 silver marks
What's a Warder's Sword, you ask? It's a bastard sword, they just call it that in this world.
Best class(es): Initiate, Armsman
If you want to play a Myrddraal, Tarabon is the background for you
THESE DUDES FUCKING LOVE MASKS. Poor people wear veils, everyone else has custom masks they wear when doing anything but eating/drinking. Combine this with being a poor-man's Domani in terms of excess and hedonism, and you can totally believe they don't take the things off in the bedroom. I don't think I really need to say more given the picture of Voldo up there. They're also the nation that contains the Illuminator's Guild: these dudes make fireworks and they're cool by me. Super-secretive, though.
Their background bonus feat is "Living History", because they like to think they're a remnant of old world culture. You get +2 on all knowledge checks from it. Could be worse! Skills are real thief-oriented, with Appraise, Hide, Move Silently, and Open Lock. Not shockingly, so is the equipment...
thieves' cools, hooded lantern, crowbar, small steel mirror
masterwork artisan's tools
- Illuminator's rocket (a firework, basically)
Best class(es): Wanderer wanderer wanderer holy hell make these dudes wanderers.
There are no good pictures of Seanchan in the book.
So waaaaay long ago, but after the Breaking, the legendary king Arthur Hawkwing sent his armies out across the sea to see what the world was like elsewhere after that huge clusterfuck with the reshaping of continents and all. By the time of the novels, those dudes came back. They are the Seanchan, a people with some of the strongest old blood you'll see, and tamed creatures of all sorts at their command... including channelers, kept leashed by women who, it is not well known, are ALSO channelers, or have the spark for it. Needless to say, this is a secret the ruling Seanchan will kill to protect...
These dudes are part of the very, very minor additions that came in the Prophecies of the Dragon adventure book (AKA "the only other WoT d20 book aside from core"). They gain a single new background feat others can't take: "Handler". You gain Animal Empathy as a class skill, and can pick a domestic animal (given the Seanchan, this is a broad fucking reach). You get +2 to all Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, and Ride checks involving that animal. Cool thing the Seanchan get others don't? Bonus language choice: "Old Tongue". Shit is hard as hell to learn normally, the only methods mentioned in-book involve a) being a Noble and spending 2 whole points of INT bonus to learn it (you can spend one, but then only end up knowing "a smattering" of the language), or b) see the next background. Their gear, too, is relatively exotic:
Seanchan spear, brigandine shirt
light crossbow, Seanchan scimitar
- noble's outfit, jewelry (20 mk value)
Best class(es): They can be built into damn near anything. They're not particularly strong with anything other than animal handling, though, and trying to be a Seanchan channeler would make a lore nerd's head explode.
Wait, what nation are YOU from?!
Recall when I said there were only two naturally occurring "races" in WoT-world? Ogier are the other. Dudes are BIG (8-10 feet average height). They're somewhat glacial in action, but it's more of a slow, planned state they live in. Dudes can live to be 300+, they take their time. Excellent craftsmen, some have the ability to "sing" to wood and shape it into wonderous creations... or, very, very rarely, weapons. (A staff. You're not wielding a sung-wood sword or anything.) I could go into a huge amount of loredump here but this is prooooobably all that's relevant for PC-purposes. Oh, also, very few Ogier leave their home turf (called steddings ), because to do so for long periods of time (and keep in mind, this is Ogier we're discussing, so that can be a decade or so) causes them "the Longing", where continuing to avoid a stedding may well kill them. The two are interconnected and need each other. (Incidentally, some male channelers try to stave off madness inside stedding, as the One Power cannot be sensed or channeled inside them. If you ever need to hide from Aes Sedai, an abandoned stedding is the place to be.)
Being an actual seperate race, they go through character building a little differently from all the others. They get to pick a background feat, but don't get a special one. They get to piggyback on a few others, though, including Tarabon's "Living History", as choices. To be Ogier is to be huge but clumsy (+4 STR, -4 DEX), and did I mention big (Large creatures, all). You end up with low-light vision, +2 to Fort saves, Listen checks, and Craft checks involving stonework or building construction (no, really). Ogier can also learn Old Tongue. The downside to this package, though, is you also have the most skill/feat restrictions in the game: no riding, armor proficiencies, or weapon proficiencies (save simple)... even if your class would grant it *. You cannot ever gain levels in any channeler class. You will gain no background equipment.
* You can learn these things LATER, but they cannot be gained at character creation by any means.
Ogier are a massive tradeoff and I don't know if I'd say the bonuses outweight the penalties. Very, very clearly the things you lose are meant to be "dead levels" you make up to even you out against others... but you're also losing a good chunk of DEX and being easier to hit for most things. Ogier kinda get fucked in this game, especially given that (wee-oo-wee-oo lore nerd alert) we see that Ogier can sneak pretty fucking well in the novels, as a single man and Ogier pair sneak into a full camp, haul off some treasures, and then haul ass out of there in the dead of night without a single issue. None of this clumsiness crap.
Okay, I'm done getting nitpicky for now. Scout's honor. What do you mean the post's over?
Next time: Classes, or, No Aiel? No Spearmen.
A Dearth of Class(es)Original SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
5: A Dearth of Class(es)
So WoT d20 goes pretty light on the classes. In fact, I'd argue they actually doubled-up on some of these just to fill things out. There are 7, all told, but they're pretty vague "outlines" of classes. If you want to be X thing from the books, you're probably going to require a prestige class and we'll hit those later because it's pretty much all I'm going to write up from the GM chapter. I don't recall it being in 3E D&D, but if it was, my bad for explaining this, but probably the only thing you're going to see new on some of the tables below is "Reputation Score". Most people start with a rep of 0 and gain it as they level up, Nobles begin at 3, Initiates at 1. There's an entire mechanic involved in this where you might be picked out in certain places as the score rises, and one prestige class actually... no, I'm sorry, you just need a feat (+3 rep) for it, not an actual reputation, my bad. It's an interesting idea but one that doesn't really tie into jack shit.
Closest D&D comparison: Monk? maybe, with some Rogue.
Man, I missed dead levels. Can you guess which class(es) are going to be the only ones without any? Answer's at the end of this post, since we won't get to it this time. Algai'd'siswai a) irritate the shit out of me, since their class name is written in that damn always-italicized Old Tongue, and b) are one of the most limited classes you get in the game. Check this out: If you use a sword in a battle, you gain no XP for the fight. If you wear armor, you lose all class abilities and gain no XP. (This is hilarious from a lore standpoint*, given that the sword thing is a muuuuuuch bigger deal than "I strap on some padded armor".) In fact, gear-wise, just realize you are basically going to get to use a) a shortspear and b) a buckler. That's it. For your devotion to stabbing, you gain Fast Movement (+10ft on your race's average... and nowhere does it SAY an Ogier can't be an algai , so hey, that's a hilarious mental image), an increasing bonus to initiative, the 3e feat "Uncanny Dodge" (increasing as you level), and Stealthy Movement, so you can add Reflex bonuses to any Move Silently/Hide checks.
* Is it getting annoying when I mention these? I'm trying not to drop casual spoilers here and there but if pointing these out is doing nothing for anyone I'll focus more on mechanics instead of flavor.
This is literally all they get. There's not even a good prestige class for them, since they can't qualify for most. Algai'd'siswai are probably the most overspecialized base class and as a result it's a huge kick in the teeth to want to play an Aiel.
Closest D&D comparison: These dudes are very much your stock Fighter.
They're fighter-ass fighters. The only real twists (and again, going off what I remember from 3E D&D, so I might be wrong) are their incredibly low defense (they are tied for the lowest, with the same progression as Initiates), and the Armor Compatibility feat at level 3. What does it do? Well, it lets your defense stack with the bonuses from any armor and/or shields you wear. But then if you're an archery-based Armsman, you're probably not going to have much on for DEX purpo... okay no I actually kinda like that, it's a reason to keep the archers back and out of battles where you can. Could probably use a little mechanical fine-tuning, but that's really the tagline for this game as a whole.
Closest D&D comparison: Mages.
We're covering them both because they have such overlap that it's not worth coming back to the other last and going "Go look at Initiate again". The difference between an Initiate and a Wilder comes down to this: if you were trained as part of an order (Aes Sedai, Windfinders, Wise Ones, Asha'man), you're an Initiate. If you learned on your own, you're a Wilder (which is a mixed blessing we'll get to in a little). Mechanically, it's a feat and what stat you use to channel different (initiates are INT, wilders WIS - just keep the letters in mind and you're solid).
That said, let's jump ahead a few chapters and go into the brief breakdown of how "channeling" (spellcasting) works, and what a channeler class involves compared to others. First off, you pick an affinity from the Five Powers on taking your first level of Initiate/Wilder - if you're a woman, you pick Air, Spirit, or Water. Men choose Earth, Fire, or Spirit. (Some of your channeler bonus feats from the chart above can be used to take additional affinities later, if you like.) All "weaves" (spells) have an elemental affinity to them, some multiple. Do you have the complete affinity for a weave you're casting (ie, you're attuned to EVERY element it uses)? Cast it and it'll cost a lower level slot than it would usually. Do you have only some of them? Normal level. None? Level that sucker up a slot. But some weaves can be cast at different base levels to begin with, so add that in too when you're doing these calculations. (Some spells run as wide as, say, 2-8. The weave levels comprise 0-9.) Oh, and you can actually cast shit way above your level if you like, a trick called Overchanneling. (If you're a Wilder, you gain an instant +5 on any Overchanneling attempts, and another +5 to Fortitude should you fuck up and need to take a penalty roll.) There are some items that will help you do this, or you can just try and take in much more of the One Power than you usually know how to hold as a desperate gamble. Careful, though! Fucking this up by a significant enough margin against the DC can leave you "stilled" (or "gentled" if you're a man - but either way, it means "you can no longer touch the One Power ever again"*). Did I mention that weaves are kind of ludicrously complex compared to your usual D&D spells? I'm simplifying this a bit, even.
* Unless your campaign is set far enough in the books to the point where someone has sussed out that it's possible to heal stilling/gentling. Then you just need a potent enough channeler to want to do so for you. Also, it only just hit me how a completely naff GM could use this as a shitty "ha ha you fell" Paladin kind of deal. Ugh.
Okay, now you know HOW to cast, but how do you learn more things? That's where the Weavesight skill comes in. If a channeler of your gender uses a spell near you, you can make a Weavesight roll to try and learn the skill for yourself. Earning the skill by taking a level of Initiate means you now get a +4 to any checks made to do so. (This is the bonus they get instead of Overchanneling protection.) Do this any chance you get around other channelers, it's the only way to learn new weaves unless someone deigns to demonstrate them for you. The difficulty progresses like this on checks: DC10, you can tell what elements go into it. DC15, you can ID the weave. If you know the weave, you get name and effects, if not, you get a general "It seems to do this" from the DM. DC20, you learn the weave (if it's your channeling level or lower). DC25, you learn the weave period. And now how this gets stupid: the penalties. -5 if you don't have an affinity for the elements in the weave. If nobody is currently casting/has tied off (we'll get to it) the weave, you need a special feat, Sense Residue, to see the weave, and you take greater penalties the longer ago it was (up to -15 if it was "released more than a week ago but within a month"). The same feat's the only way to discover an Inverted weave (seriously, just wait until the chapter on spells, this shit is going on forever as-is).
Baaaaaack to the classes, though. Wilders get a bonus feat! It's called "Block". It sucks ass because it means you can't channel unless you're in a heightened emotional state (they tell you to pick one, some examples given are being pissed off, super-calm, afraid, turned-on, whatever). If you're a male Wilder, you can eliminate this out the gate by just spending your level 1 feat on "Eliminate Block" and boom. Ladies have to wait until level 3 to take the same thing. Finally, we come to something both have: "Slow Aging". Once you gain this, you end up with the "ageless" look all channelers have. Divide your level by 2: the result is how many years have to go by for you to look one year older.
Finally, let's quickly head over into Man-Town, and I'll remind you that men are channeling something tainted with the Dark One's own energy which drives them fucking nuts in time. Men are more potent channelers than women by the rules (they gain bonus weaves from level 1-5, can take out their block at level 1 if a wilder), but they also have a hidden, GM-tracked "Madness" stat. The more you channel (at first...), the higher this creeps, and as it hits certain ranks, you're going to have more triggers that can set you off. Eventually, you straight up fucking crack. It's not the worst, though - there are two levels beyond "irredeemably insane". The first is a wasting disease that consumes you, forcing constant Fort rolls to keep it from kicking in. Once it does, you've got a week... and then you lose 1d3 CON daily. Forever. Until death. The second, though, is the Madness that destroyed the world. You're now an NPC, you do not give two shits about anything, and you are going to channel all of the power you can until it consumes you, not caring in the slightest about what this does to anything around you until death.
Man, that was a lighthearted scenario! Let's just leave off there and cover the final classes next time.
Next time: Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.
(Did you guess which classes got no dead levels? The Noble is the only class without a single dead level IF you ignore spell-progression. Multiple have as many as 11/20 with jack shit happening. )
Second ClassOriginal SA post
Which is unintentionally hilarious because RAW they actually age faster than a regular human until they chow down on 1000 XP.
Nope. You only get Slow Aging at level 3.
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
6: Second Class
Before we start, I just wanna throw a thing out there:
These two are totally brothers. Or related, anyway. That noble's daddy has a bastard or 20 out there.
Closest D&D comparison: Bards? Only thing I can make fit some of these skills.
Nobles, as written in this book, are an interesting class. First off, nobles aren't just the royalty of a nation - you also have generals, merchants, crime lords ... They list a diverse crew as fitting under this banner. Where it gets weird is how we turn it into mechanics. Nobles are a support class, hands-down. They're just a very, very flexible support class. Right out the gate they can pick any skill (save channeler skills) as a free class skill, with it being "unapproved" expertise they learned growing up. They're also going to get "favors" every odd level - make a CHA check, add your level to the roll. Things like "hey, loan me some money" are DC10, whereas "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence*" is muuuuch higher up there. (Generally, they say the more expensive/illegal a favor is, the higher you want to set it. 25+ once you get into things that could get you arrested/beheaded.) If you screw it up, though... you don't lose the favor. Once one succeeds, though, it's gone forever.
* The Declaration of Independence does not exist in WoT-world.
The other stuff is more genericly Bard-y: Once a day you can
Closest D&D comparison: "Closest" nothing, these dudes are Rogues in all but name.
I don't really need to add anything beyond that. They get sneak attacks, every few levels they get a free feat (Skill Emphasis) that grants +3 on a class skill, at level 2 they get a feat (The Dark One's Own Luck) to reroll a botched roll once a day. Level 1 gives you a +5 to diplomacy checks on anything involving illicit deals. Otherwise? They are Rogues. Pick locks, set/find traps, charm some dudes, sneak around and shank a man. Rogues.
Closest D&D comparison: Rangers.
First off, there's a note in their class description that "Woodsman" is kind of a misleading name. "Survivalists" might be better, but that one's got a lot more connotations. You can build a Woodsman to be based around a few different kinds of environments, though - pick one at level 1. Could be woods, swamps, mountains, or even the Aiel Waste or the Blight itself. Two things happen with this choice. 1. You can add your DEX bonus to attacks, in addition to STR, against humanoid enemies when in that region. 2. You can always apply this bonus against wild animals. Period. Not even in your favorite environs. (You get a second and third one as you level up.) You're also getting a bonus feat (Track - lets you track people, what did you think it did?) out the gate. If you're in a natural environment, you get a +2 (at level 3, becomes +4 at 12) to Hide/Move Silently. Like fighters, you get bonus feats from a list of combat skills as you get stronger.
Otherwise? Nothing really special, you're another damage-dealer class with some tricks tossed in. Keep light armor on and you get free Improved Initiative (anything heavier will cancel this).
I'm just going to ask right here: does anyone really want to hear skill descriptions, knowing most of them are just 3E skills, or should I skip that chapter and just bring up the channeler skills (all three of them) in the One Power chapter?
ScattershotOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
We're gonna go all over the place in the book this time, since there doesn't seem to be a real use to covering most of the Skills & Feats chapters when 99% of them are "it's D&D 3E". This post is the remaining 1%.
Something I forgot to mention in the Class posts - skill points are handed out very, very conservatively in this game. Only two classes don't get a base 4+INT per level, with 6 for Woodsmen, and 8 for Wanderers. Even if you're an INT-based channeler, this is gonna be chewed through real fast: Concentration, Weavesight, and, if you want to take the Aes Sedai prestige class, Composure are 3/(4+INT) out the gate, and then you're at the mercy of "oh god, will they make the aes sedai the diplomat?!" or other things you'll need to determine early.
There are three new skills which are channeler-only: Composure, Invert, and Weavesight.
Composure is a social skill: it's a check made to keep your cool and get certain bonuses from it. You can't take the skill without being taught your first rank, but afterwards, it's just practice. The suggested uses/DCs: DC15 - success grants a +2 bonus on Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate for 10 minutes in a heated social situation (an icy demeanor). DC20 - Fall asleep quickly, even if not tired. Partly handy if you're not going to get regular rest or are in trying circumstances, but this is mostly used for Dreamwalkers (which we will get to shortly...) DC25 - Remain comfortable in incredibly hot/incredibly cold temperatures, get +5 to Concentration checks against weather distractions. You're not protected from burns or frostbite or anything, but you don't SHOW any discomfort. DC20 in combat - +1 attack bonus for 5 rounds. Interesting skill, but seems reeeeeeal situational given the scarcity of skill points in this game.
Invert is the first opportunity I get to describe "lost" talents in this game. See, the Breaking and all of civilization being ground into the fucking dust to start from scratch meant a lot of tricks were lost to time, kept in documents if you were lucky, or maybe rediscovered at some point down the line by one or another person*. But because characters learn them in the novels in time, or just because they're really, really cool things you'd want to see in a book related to this world, they're listed in here with a big "YO, GMS TAKE CARE" note in the form of the "Lost" keyword. Invert lets a channeler "hide" weaves as they cast them. Instead of letting everyone else see them and possibly learn your tricks, or find a tied-off spell you've left lying around, an inverted weave is invisible to anyone who doesn't have the Sense Residue feat. Make a DC(10+weave level) check when you're creating the weave to see if it inverts properly or remains visible. Not shockingly, you can't retry this without undoing and recasting the weave entirely.
* Another way to learn things from the Age of Legends, not recommended: survive a fight with the Forsaken, who can and WILL wield lost powers against you. This method is generally fatal, but it's the kind of thing that ends up teaching a few of these skills in the novels.
Weavesight we covered under channeler classes. I apologize again for dumping that huge explanation in the one post but it sorta needed to explain how you even learned spells in this game. Other things the skill can be used for are to determine if another person (of your gender) can channel, or to counter weaves another channeler is casting.
We're gonna cover two major things from this chapter: Channeling Feats, and Lost Ability Feats.
Channelers do not work like wizards. I think I've made this clear, but one of the crazier things they can do would be taking the Multiweave feat, which will allow you to make a (rather simple, actually - DC15) Concentration check to keep one spell maintained so you can cast another. It can be taken as many times as you like, so if you want to min-max like mad, it's indeed possible to be a channeler tossing out whirlwinds while you maintain the earthquake knocking folks off their horses into the wall of fire you cast at their feet as... You get the picture.
Sense Residue lets you do two things. First, you can make a skill check to notice weaves have been cast in the area recently (and a followup check to ID/learn the weave). The second we went into right above: it's the only thing that will even let you NOTICE inverted weaves.
Tie Off Weave is a cousin of Multiweave in terms of effect. If you "tie off" a weave, it'll continue to function without needing you to hold it constantly or be in the area. They will, however, end in time (your channeler level in days, minus 4x the weave's casting level in hours). To tie off a weave will consume an attack or move action. It would allow you to perform the same effects as a talented Multiweave channeler, but it'd take you a little bit longer since it wasn't simultaneous.
Lost Abilities are... well, these are sets of feats that basically let you be your favorite character from the novels. In a couple of cases this makes sense, but some of them... we'll get there. Anyhow. How you learn a Lost Ability is a) up to the GM (they are told heavily to really, really consider giving these to a character) and b) take two (or more, if you want to Dreamwalk) feats to earn the ability itself. See, all of them are actually a feat CHAIN: you take "Latent (ability)" at one level, and then the actual feat for it later. The "Latent" feats serve absolutely no purpose other than to gate these powers off further.
Dreamwalkers can enter (warning: apostrophe alert) Tel'aran'rhiod , the world of dreams. Sort of. There's "dreaming" by being asleep, and then there's being so deeply asleep that you might unintentionally enter the world of dreams*. Dreamwalkers learn to intentionally do so, because it mirrors our world in major ways and can be used to communicate with others in your sleep across distances, or scout out the world ahead of you (remember when I mentioned wanting to go to sleep when not tired? This is a reason to do so!). The problem is, a bunch of the stuff I just mentioned requires additional feats. Just taking "Dreamwalker" (the first non-Latent feat on the chain) will only let you enter it and choose where you 'spawn' (higher DCs if you don't know the area in question). Bend Dream will let you change your appearance/summon items, or, if you make a high enough roll against another dreamwalker's Concentration, lock THEM into YOUR rules. Dream Jump will let you travel the world of dreams instantly, from spot to spot. Dreamwatch lets you see into the non- Tel'aran'rhiod dreams of sleeping people (HUGELY risky if you do it poorly - if you ENTER them instead of just scrying, you're at their unconscious whim until they wake, every move requiring a Concentration check from you. EVERY move). Finally, and this is probably obvious, Waking Dream lets you stay loosely aware of the real world around you/hold conversations with people in the real world while you're dreamwalking.
* They straight up say that some people who die mysteriously in their sleep have dreamed themselves into Tel'aran'rhiod and fell off a cliff or got mauled by a dream-lion or whatever, killing them. Yes, that's right... IF YOU DIE IN THE (world of) DREAMS YOU DIE IN REAL LIFE.
Fortelling is... prophecy. I don't think I need to sum up why this thing is hugely problematic, you know what it does, and how it's a royal pain in the ass in tabletop games. Don't give this to a PC.
Old Blood is funny as hell to me. In the novels, they usually just say that being strong in the old blood means you have a higher chance of manifesting old talents from days gone past. In the game, however, you roll a d6 and if it's a 1, you can call on your blood to give you extra skills, knowledge, or insight*. What the hell does this look like to other people, and how crazy do you look if you screw this up repeatedly? I'm imagining a random Woodsman just yelling at his veins now.
* Yeah, there's a dude in the books with similar abilities, but he ends up with it through a really, really poorly phrased deal with elves. Oh, wait, my bad, "Eelfinn". Who look like foxes. Yeah that entire goddamn subplot is weird.
Sniffers can smell violence*. Make a roll, you can track it with Search. Easier to do if the act was more terrible, harder to do the longer ago it was. It pretty much applies to crimes only, although "natural" violence, like an animal hunting or something, has a much less intense smell but does indeed show up for a sniffer.
* In the game. In the novels, it's said that Shadowspawn have a horrible stench to them which can tell you what kind they are if you've put together "X smell is Y shadowspawn" before, and where they've gone to track them.
Tree Wardens and Treesingers can only be Ogier. The former can heal trees or plants, or make them grow to an abnormally large size (once a month per tree, but it IS repeatable). The latter can "sing" to a tree to have it grow into a specific shape for them. It can make something as small as a staff, or as large as furniture or statuary. Handy stuff, and I kinda wish more of the Lost Abilities were in this vein - a cool trick that isn't going to be a full-on gamechanger.
Speaking of bullshit gamechangers: Viewing is seeing auras/prophetic images around people. This one has the Foretelling problem, and a lore problem given that a single person EVER has had this power.
The One Power, in Two PartsOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
8: The One Power, in Two Parts
Welcome to where we get into some crazy shit. Weaves! Channeler history and factions! How to cause armageddon in a few easy steps! First off there's a brief history of channelers and how they Broke the World in the last Age. We hit that in update one. What I DID skip over until now was the few groups who still take in and train/tame channelers as of the "present day".
The Aes Sedai run the island city of Tar Valon and its massive White Tower. In the modern day, this ancient term that used to describe all channelers now refers exclusively to women. Entering the tower, you become a novice, which translates to "literally everyone who isn't on cooking/cleaning can boss you around". From there, there are two ranks to climb - the Accepted are basically channeler college students, free to go about their studies however they like, but at the whim of a full Aes Sedai whenever they're found in need of assistance. Then you get promoted to the actual mantle of Aes Sedai and you get to give everyone who isn't the head of an Ajah/the Amyrlin Seat (who is King Shit of Aes Sedai Mountain) the finger if you like, and head into the world to do whatever. It's just unlikely you will, because you'll probably have been nowhere but the Tower for years, probably decades*, and odds are you're gonna go along with whatever the hell your Ajah is best at instead of doing your own thing.
* Here's how this works in some more dry detail: if you can channel, you probably come to the White Tower. If you're a wilder, you have two options - learn enough so that it won't kill you and leave, or become a novice. If you CAN be taught, though, you're fucking stuck. They really, really need recruits in the modern day, because the once-bustling organization of thousands has maybe... 500? of them in the world now. Some people suspect hunting down and killing every man who could channel has bred the talent out of mankind. Should you become a novice, you are STUCK ON THE ISLAND. PERIOD. You cannot leave as a novice, and getting raised to Accepted can take years. Accepted have a little more leeway, but you'd better have an excellent reason for fucking off outta the Tower. Accepted to Aes Sedai, though, usually takes decades . They will not promote your ass until they are SURE you're gonna act like a proper Aes Sedai should.
I actually have no idea who the hell the people watching the trial are, given that that's... not how Aes Sedai dress.
Progressing through the ranks is probably one of the most lethal things you can do in the White Tower, but not for the reason you might think. See, whenever you're judged worthy to ascend up the ladder, you've got a date with a ter'angreal (magic items which perform specific tasks) both times. Pre-Accepted deal with a set of interlocking gateways, three doors which show you "what was, what is, and what will be" - alternate lives based on decisions you might make at key points in your life. Entering strips you of all your memories but what that "you" knew, and you've got to find your way out of it to the door to our world or else be lost forever (so, basically, only the most driven and stubborn return when confronted with lost loves, or dream worlds, or dangers...). It's a harrowing experience and probably one of the most traumatizing things you will ever experience. Nobody ever asks you to tell what you saw, and many would probably quit if they were forced to.*
* book example: one promotion involved a character who grew up with/loved the Dragon Reborn seeing three fates of their lives together - "what was" involved the two of them marrying in their village, with him having worse and worse headaches over time only she could abate. She had to leave that world as he was on the floor, screaming louder than their child, in the grip of a migraine with what was easily his own unconscious channeling rending the land outside with lightning. "What is" I have forgotten offhand. "What will be" results in her having to turn her back on him again as he pleads for death, on the cusp of madness and fearing that the shadowspawn outside will turn him against his will, screaming her name.
Meanwhile, Aes Sedai have to swear on the Oath Rod, which binds them to anything they swear while holding it. The Three Oaths one must take to become a full Sister are "to speak no word that is not true", "to make no weapon with which one man may kill another"*, and "to never use the One Power as a weapon unless against Shadowspawn or Darkfriends, or in the very last extreme of defending [their] life, a Warder's life, or that of another Aes Sedai". That last one is a huge thing, and basically the only thing that keeps the Tower from being torn down by paranoid kings or armies over the ages. (The first, however, is why the common people are always wary around Aes Sedai - they can't lie, but they can totally get cagey.) Another fun fact about the Oath Rod, and how this game is superceded in so many, many places about canon: you know how any channeler of level 3+ gets the agelessness of a caster? Yeah, it's actually the Oath Rod that does that to you. Anyone who doesn't use it is gonna look just like anyone else and live no longer than your average schmuck.
* Once upon a time, Power-wrought weapons were created, which had edges that never dulled, and sometimes extras besides. They are superbly fucking rare. I think maybe 5 tops appear in the books, and that's me estimating UPWARDS based on the books I haven't read. I don't think they ever actually say why this changed between the Age of Legends and the modern times.
When you are finally promoted, you choose an Ajah to belong to: the seven branches of the Aes Sedai who each pursue their own goals. The White Ajah are philosophers, basically. The Gray are negotiators/diplomats, who do what they can to keep the nations of the world at peace when called upon. The Brown are scholars, bookworms to the very last. The Red are somewhat "zealous" about hunting down male channelers. Yellows are those who study healing, an entire corps of mage-nurses. The Blue Ajah take on plenty of causes and seek to improve the world in general, usually being the ones most likely to leave the Tower on their own agendas. Finally, the Green Ajah, also called the "Battle Ajah", concern themselves with preparing for the Last Battle, and are the only ones who are liable to take on multiple Warders. There's very little open rivalry between factions, but the Red Ajah and its die-hards are generally seen to be at-odds with the Blue and Green Ajahs. Finally, although one should never, EVER speak of it near an Aes Sedai for fear of their wrath, there is indeed an eighth, "Black Ajah" of Darkfriend sisters which exists beneath the surface.
A final note on Aes Sedai: Warders are a development that came sometime post-Age of Legends but a while before the current-day. Sisters would create a 'bond' with some of the most skilled swordsmen around, and both would benefit from the connection: becoming able to take more punishment and heal faster, while also knowing where the other was no matter the distance. The way the bond works is weird and the cross-gender thing is a very good thing, because bonding a same-sex Warder has unintended consequences you don't get normally, probably due to the similar physiology of both participants. (Yeah, it comes up in the books, and some of the shit that can be shared over the bond that way - getting drunk, emotional feedback, hunger, etc.)
So there's easily the MOST material covering Aes Sedai, but they are not even close to being the only channelers in the world. Most of the others are nation-specific, however:
Aiel Wise Ones
are where every channeler* in the Aiel clans end up, but not all Wise Ones are channelers. It's just a term for those who are women and the guiding figures of their society. Whether you can channel or not, though, you have to make two trips to the ruined city of Rhuidean over the years. The first has you... walk... into a structure with three gateways... okay this sounds familiar. Years later you go back and enter a series of glass columns which relates to you, via your ancestors' memories, the true history of the Aiel. (Rather large book spoiler:
They were originally the Tinkers, a travelling people devoted to pacifism. Some of them took up spears for revenge and went into the wastes for breaking their oaths to the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. This is the reason they DO NOT use swords. Ever. That shit was verboten as the Tinkers, and it continues to be even now.
) Dreamwalking, lost in 99% of the world, is still a common talent among the Wise Ones! So that's cool.
Sea Folk Windfinders
are where almost every channeler... yeah, same as the Wise Ones, pretty much. If your affinities don't bend towards Air/Water, you'll be sent off to the White Tower to train there instead. That, plus their usual refusal to carry Aes Sedai, is how the White Tower has never figured out their Windfinders are massively potent channelers (the few we deal with in the books tend to be able to control MASSIVE amounts of air or shift tides with ease, to speed their craft to ludicrous degrees). Some of them are not! If you're on a ship where your Windfinder can't channel, then... I actually don't know. We know some of them can't but it never comes up that I'm aware of.
** are... weird. See, in the lands of the Seanchan, they never lost the ability to create
, which is, before rediscovery in the books, a dead skill. The problem is that they use it exclusively(? that ever gets mentioned) to create
s: linked leash and bracelet combinations that allow the bracelet wearer (
) to control the leash-wearer (
). Straight up, they come through cities testing women every year to see if they fulfill either role.
are privileged and like lesser nobility, and
are akin to pets. After they're broken and trained, anyway. The term for channelers would be
("those who must be leashed"), incidentally. The big secret, as I mentioned earlier - wilders are
, and the girls who are found to wear the bracelets are who would be initiates in other lands (the women with the POTENTIAL to channel, but who don't instinctively). Keeping this secret is one of those things that many, many people will die to protect in Seanchan turf.
are mentioned in here as a "channeling tradition" because I have no idea. DO NOT FUCK WITH THE FORSAKEN. 13*** Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends who turned to the Dark One, the men protected from the taint/madness by serving him, the women being unfazed by that anyway, and all of them knowing more than any living channeler by a huge margin. Lost Talents? Ancient weapons? These dudes have it or know the general region to look in. The book does make a very smart move in never statting them out, though.
are the Dragon Reborn's corps of male channelers, founded when he shocks the world by going "Yeah, so, I'm here, and that means the Last Battle is coming. If you are a male channeler, I declare amnesty for you in lands I control, get out here and we're gonna train you. I need soldiers, damnit." In fact, that's the first rank of Rand's "Black Tower" - you become a Soldier, then a Dedicated, and finally an Asha'man. I'm sure this sounds familiar. The big difference is that there is no time held back in training them - you're pushed harder than any other channelers alive to learn to control your powers ASAP and strengthen what you can handle. It's not uncommon for some people to go mad, still themselves, or even fucking die in training, but if you make it to the upper ranks, you become a walking weapon unlike anything else you'll get on the planet, and in much less than half the time it'd take an Aes Sedai to reach those peaks.
- Wilders ... never learn from any of the above traditions. Ta-da. Dunno why they felt the need to reiterate that.
* Every female channeler. Male Aiel channelers walk north into the Blight and take as many Shadowspawn with them as they can before dying/going mad. Still pretty badass.
** Did not know where else to put this: if I had not read the first few books of this series as kids, I would easily compare the Seanchan abuse of the Old Tongue to the bullshit faux-language of Final Fantasy XIII. fal'cie cie'th l'cie bread and cie cie cie cie cie aaaaAAAAAAAGH
*** You really only need to worry about, like... 10? of them. The others are fodder†.
That is probably enough for now, and next time we'll break down the casting mechanics and get into how conservative this book can be with its lists. It's actually impressive in that regard!
Next time: How to Ruin the Pattern in Ten Weaves!
† WEIRD SPERGY LORE THING I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE ELSE TO PUT/semi-minor? book spoiler: they say quite a few times the Dark One has power over the dead, and one of the firsthand examples of it are when he takes the souls of a couple of dead Forsaken and puts them into living bodies (stolen from the Borderlands). Both of them died as men. One came back, since it was the easiest body to acquire, as a woman. Despite this, dude still channeled saidin ! So that's kind of a weird metaphysics thing about the Wheel of Time world, and answered the question that I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wondered about : "how the hell does a transgendered channeler work?"
BalefireOriginal SA post
I can't sleep so I finished this section.
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
C'mon. Any of you book readers know that one's the big gun in the weave list, no matter what else is in here.
But first, mechanics. I've tried to introduce things throughout the writeup, because channeling is easily the most complex system in the game. First up, the whole saidin / saidar divide (men/women for those who forgot!), then the Five Powers (of the One Power... yeah, I know) and Affinities for each, then Talents, then individual weaves, but wait, you can cast them at different power levels, so we need to break those down...
...and then there are the ways you can RAISE your power level, and I'm not just talking about Overchanneling here! See, there's that, too, but that shit's risky, even for a Wilder. Remember last time when I mentioned ter'angreal , little magic items with specific purposes? Well, those are only one class out of three such creations. The other are angreal , which can bolster your ability to channel beyond your body's limits, and their more potent cousins, sa'angreal . How do you do it? Well, uh... you touch it, while you're channeling. That's it. No rolls, no risk, by the rules, these things just let you overchannel 1-3 (with angreal ) or 4-10 ( sa'angreal ) levels above the slot you're casting from. There's also Linking, which... jesus christ, that is a MESS.
And every single person involved has to make Concentration checks. No, I'm not kidding.
Linking is another one of those "balancing men/women" things. Women are REQUIRED to Link - two men can't do shit. But beyond 13 (one of those magic numbers in this setting, recall! 13 women can do some POTENT shit, like still/gentle you without any resistance) you need men in the circle. If your circle is a) one man/one woman, b) 13 people but 2+ are men, or c) 72 channelers, the leader has to be a man. Otherwise, it's whoever wants that shit on their head, either gender. To successfully link, you need to do the following:
Everyone has to embrace the One Power (take a full round to fill yourself with it)
then makes a Concentration check, the leader at DC (20 + 1/4 the total number of participants), the others at (5 + 1/4th the number of participants)
and IF you succeeded on that (a single failure means "fuck you, start from one"), then
the leader casts a weave. Repeat this step all you like until
- the leader becomes distracted (fail a DC [weave level + interruption DC] Concentration check - table below for this shit) OR chooses to break the link. It continues until the leader stops it, so let's hope you didn't just make a secret Black Ajah member the boss!
I seriously hate all the tables involved in channeling. And there are many, many more I'm glossing over, trust me.
Back to vanilla casting, though: how do we use a weave? Well, to begin with, I hope you have the required Talent for that weave (Talents being similar to spell schools from D&D wizardry). If you don't, then we need to check the level of the weave, and your class. Wilders can cast 0-2nd level weaves from an unfamiliar Talent, but Initiates can only cast 0-level. If you DO have it, though, then this doesn't matter at all. Let's cast a spell now!
First, check the elemental Affinities! Do you have 1+, but not all of, them? Okay, cast it normally. Do you possess them all? Cast it from a lower spell slot than you're casting it at by 1. Do you possess none? Reverse that (cast from +1 level slot compared to the weave level, so a level 2 weave takes a level 3 slot). Do this again when determining effect! If you have the affinities, make it more potent for less cost, and vice versa.
Okay, does your spell affect items ON a target? (Only a couple of them do, so this one's rarer.) Well, in that case, have them hit things in order on this convenient table!
So goddamn many tables. Not shown in this writeup, two from the page opposite this one.
So. There's no convenient list of Talents in here, so I'm just going to go over them and then point out the interesting weaves from each where needed.
- Lost Talent. Lets you cast Balefire. We are going to get to this crazy motherfucker last.
- Common Talent. Weather magic. Not really anything amazing here, but contains some handy and impressive skills like calling lightning, warming/cooling the region around you, or summoning thick fog in impressively-large areas when you're at higher levels.
- Common Talent, some Lost weaves. This is where "Bond Warder" lies, but it's got some interesting skills like False Trail/Trace, or Sense Shadowspawn. The big one we'll hit below, though.
- Common Talent. Sense metals in the earth, create earthquakes or rend the ground beneath someone,
make a fucking grenade
. You know. Earth stuff.
- Common Talent, some Lost weaves. Take this, period. Walls of fire, barriers of air, redirect rivers or conjure tides, but also handy fucking things like "Light", "Tool of Air" (a Mage Hand-alike), and nifty utility spells. Also where you find "Fly" but that's Lost. Suck it, encounter-ruiners!
- Common Talent, some Lost weaves. Contains your "cure" spell (the Heal weave) and its counterparts, the Rare (one of only 3 weaves to get this classification!) "Rend". We'll touch on this tree a little later, especially with its massive oversight.
- Common Talent, one Lost weave. Disguises, projections, and skills to spy on people from afar.
- Lost Talent. Teleportation, creating gateways across the surface of the world, and the use of Portal Stones.
- Warding - Common Talent, one Lost weave. Nothing to do with Warders, ironically, it's the art of making barriers, and some long range detection spells (ie, "let me know when X crosses a certain threshold").
Some of the more interesting tricks in here, be it lore-wise or effect-wise:
False Trail is a Conjunction weave that can be used to hide your tracks, by creating a false path in whatever direction you point when casting the weave. I mostly bring it up because of the hilarious effect where "...the false trail extends in a straight line, through all intervening terrain. Trackers who are aware of this power may become suspicious if your trail extends straight over rivers, cliffs, buildings, and the like." Sadly, there is no art in the book of this Looney Tunes-level spell effect.
Arms of Air is Elementalism, and a bit loopy: see, you can hold an increasing amount of weight with an invisible hand depending on caster level. Specifically, "you can manipulate an object as if with one hand". It can "perform a simple task, if the force required is within the weight limit for the casting level". Let's take a look at some of those weight limits...
Hmm. Well, we can't make a diamond, buuuuuut...
You can also use this skill to throw someone violently through the air! If you do, it's treated as if they took a 10 foot fall (1d6 damage). Tossing a larger item does 1d6 points per 25 pounds if you hit them with it. Ooooooor you can just ask your DM if making a fist is a "simple action" and be a real bastard when you point out holding someone and going "squish" at level 4 or above is a guaranteed kill. Maybe lower if you haggle. And it has no saving through, plus a "Medium" range (100 feet + another 10 per level). So congrats, you can just force crush motherfuckers from across a battlefield for a single action! Not even a full round casting time.
Cutting Lines of Fire is also Elementalism, definitely Lost, and lets you be Omega Red. 30-70 feet (by caster level) of whiplike lines from your hand that "neatly cut through stone, metal, wood, and other materials to their maximum range", also doing 2d12 points of damage to any person within the area of effect. Despite it saying that "where they strike flesh, they cleanly cut through that as well". Face it, this would turn a dude into french fries as the flavor text is written.
Wand of Fire is an asshole's dream spell. "You imbue an otherwise harmless branch, wand, or switch with a powerful charge of fire. Although the wand does not appear to be burning, a successful melee touch attack deals 1d8 points of fire damage +1 point per channeler level (max +20), and flames spring up as the wand touches combustible materials." So basically, you can take a branch, spend a single action on this weave, and then turn it into an instant hot potato. You could also argue that this spell + Arms of Air would make for a great way for the party to disguise themselves in travelling. "Come see the Amazing Floating Firestick! Watch it burn down your goddamn village if nobody pays up."
Restore the Power is where I'm going to put a rant I've had in mind for a lot of this sourcebook: it's really, really weird in how it treats the books' plot. See, this isn't even a "Lost" weave, a character straight up DISCOVERS this for the first time in the novels, and around the middle of the books (I'm gaining on the event in my reread, prob. book 6/7?) at that. But we also have the RPG dancing around shit that happened waaaaay earlier in the novels, like some of the "Major NPCs" it stats up in the DM chapter have been dead for a while, or are described as they appear at first (channelers before they learned how to, characters described as fresh-faced when they're now world-shaping players, etc.). But then, major plot-wise, we have the Black Tower in here, but aren't caught up to what was the newest book at the time of publication. It's really weird and it's why I keep trying to put a lid on what lore I bring up in this writeup just because it seems to want to be someone's introduction to the novels at the same time it spoils major twists and ignores others for the then-current reader.
Also the prior weave restores the spellcasting of a stilled/gentled channeler. If you suck at casting it, they can lose a few caster levels. If you don't, they're perfectly fine. Handily, though, you can recast it and keep restoring their ability, so it's not an "oops, rolled low, you're fucked forever".
Finally, we have Balefire .
Balefire is a nasty motherfucker of a (Lost) weave. See, taken at face value, it was created in the War of Power, and everyone thought "Oh, we now have a Disintegrate spell. Okay, handy." There are a total of two things* impervious to balefire in the world, neither of them common. It has a single save: Reflex, meaning "you dodged or you didn't". If you are touched by balefire, you are fucking gone. Period. No weaves can stop it, nothing will return you from a death by it, and not even the Dark One can revive you if killed by it. This is probably where you go "Wait, how the hell did this thing get lost, this seems like something everyone would want to know or be aware of". Well, that's the rub - it is super illegal to even learn this thing now, and BOTH sides stopped using it in the War of Power when they figured out what it really did. Yes, even the Dreadlords/Forsaken.
* Those items are cuendillar (a material from the Age of Legends which is impervious to all damage and just absorbs energy thrown at it) and a creature we'll hit on in a few updates.
Let's cut back to the first update loredump. Recall when I said it was straight up fact that in this universe, time and space were weaved into tapestries (the Age Laces of the Pattern)? Balefire does not just disintegrate you. Balefire removes the thread of your existence, and your very soul, from the Pattern. Same with anything it touches. But there's an even more fucked up twist to this: it removes you in reverse .
The more power you put into using balefire, the further back in time your target is WIPED OUT OF EXISTENCE. See, people will know you were there, and what you did, but as far as the Pattern is concerned, you vanish from (point of being hit by balefire + however far back your thread is burned out) and none of it ever happened, memories or no. This can range from "five seconds" to "ten days", and that's just by the rules of the game. The novels point out entire villages vanished or were recreated, and some battles suddenly ended or restarted depending on mad use of this weave. Oops, we just offed the leader who fucked up a battle a year ago and suddenly there's a new army revived, and... Entire chunks of the Pattern vanished into nothingness, creating rips and holes in space and time. Once this was figured out, EVERYONE set that shit down. Even the Dark One doesn't ask his channelers to use it in the novels until shit really hits the fan*. So if you ever want to just nuke the campaign, let me tell you, there are fewer amazing ways to go out than balefiring the shit out of everything around you. Just act nice long enough for the GM to give that shit to you first.
* A scene with one of the Forsaken convening with him includes asking said individual "Would you even use balefire in My service?".
Next time: The Prestige
Channeling Out, Channeling OutOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
10: Channeling Out, Channeling Out
The GM chapter is, overall, nothing special. There's a lot of advice on how to run a game, be careful what you houserule without thinking it through, you might break something, it's not you-vs.-players, so on, so forth. Clearly the game was assuming that somehow people were going to come into this from the novels without already being the kind of turbo-nerds who are familiar with tabletop games. But it also has prestige classes, or, to put it more appropriately, "So You Want To Be (Character Name Here)".
Channeler prestige classes are all very, very alike, and I honestly don't know why they didn't make one (maybe two) and go "choose who your boss is - take appropriate feats as a result". Here are the things which are identical between them!
All require the following skills to enter: 4 ranks Composure, 4* ranks Weavesight, 8 ranks Concentration.
All require the following feats to enter: Multiweave, Sense Residue, Tie Off Weave**.
Level 1 gets you the Iron Will feat, plus (your class here) Presence. The presence feat is just +4 on Intimidation checks.
Aes Sedai and Windfinders share the same progression table (stat-wise), as do Asha'man and Wise Ones.
All of them, although at different levels, will end up with "(type) Control" and "Improved (type) Control" bonus feats, which grant +5/10 to overchanneling on weaves of (type).
Every one of them will gain one extra Affinity somewhere in their levels.
- Each class just adds to your prior channeling class in terms of calculating bonus weaves. Initiate 3/Aes Sedai 3 just means "Initiate 6" in terms of weaves per day, they always add to the prior one and do not grant weaves of their own.
* Asha'man only need 3 ranks of Weavesight. Also, I don't think I need to point this out, but Asha'man is the only prestige class male channelers can take, the others are all female-only.
** Wise Ones do not need Tie Off Weave.
Now the differences!
Aes Sedai are what 99% of the world are going to think of when you hear of channelers. As a result, most of their specific skills are related to that notoriety: they gain a Noble-like ability to call in favors when abroad (better success rate in larger cities than country shacks), and gets the most generic bonuses of all channeler prestiges. Their Control skill is just "within your Affinities", they will gain an additional Talent as they level, and their bonus effect is being able to channel as if they had +2/4 (7th/10th level) WIS on any weaves.
Hilariously enough, there's actually nothing in the class description that says you need to pick an Ajah or swear on the Oath Rod, so if you tricked the dude who doesn't know WoT into GMing, you can get away with a lot more than your usual Tower-trained channeler. "No, it's cool, Steve, nothing in the rules says I can't lightning this dude a bit to get a better deal."
Okay, this one is just embarassing.
Asha'man are living weapons. Period. As a result, they combine the Aes Sedai's formal standards and progression methods with an all-out offensive approach to channeling. Their Control skill is "Offensive Control": +5/10 when overchanneling on weaves "that target foes directly, or include them in their area of effect". But in addition to this, they gain Asha'man Combat Casting (which DOES stack with standard Combat Casting...): +5/6 on Concentration checks while channeling. They end up with the Resolve feat as well, so an effective +2/4 on WIS when channeling.
Probably the most 1:1 book-to-RPG prestige class - these dudes get run through Magical Boot Camp and learn how to kill. They also have the only non-channeler requirement to join (you need to know how to use a sword), but gain every simple/martial weapon proficiency as a bonus, which is ALSO non-standard for channeler classes. Seriously, though, you're not training as one of these dudes if you want to become a healer.
Not from this chapter, but it IS marked as a Windfinder from elsewhere in the book.
Windfinders , if you recall, were a Sea Folk ranking, with one on every ship. But! They weren't always channelers. The book points this out and goes "...but you obviously don't wanna be those guys, right? Right." and the prestige class is just for casting as a result. Windfinders have two specializations: weather magic and multitasking. They gain 3 bonus Multiweave feats through levelling (meaning that you'll be able to handle 5 MINIMUM at max Windfinder), and their Control is +5/10 to work on weather-based weaves. However, they also get a rather abusable trick along the way: "(Improved) Open Sky" allows you to double, and then quadruple, the range and area of weather-based weaves.
Keep in mind what this involves: even if we just stick to the Cloud Dancing set of weaves, you've got the power to create flesh-stripping winds, create up to 200 feet of lightning storms at a time, or flash-freeze/burn people in an instant . (No, really, the Warmth weave can do this, allowing you to instantaneously change the temperature to under 15 degrees/above 135 degrees at level 3 .) If you want to get nitpicky, some of the Elementalism stuff seems like it should be allowable too (Current, Move Water, Whirlpool), which gives you even more potential to be a world-destroying witch queen.
I swear to god that they didn't wear anything this gaudy in the novels, and the other art I found backs this recollection up. Only thing the book has, though!
Wise Ones , finally, were the Aiel's channeler corps, despite, again, not every Wise One being a channeler (but every Aiel channeler being a Wise One). Same thing applies - channelers only in the prestige class. They get the same generic "Control" as Aes Sedai, an extra Affinity, and then all of the dreamwalker feats. Well, alright, not Waking Dream. But otherwise, they are straight up the only ones who get any Lost skills with such ease/no downside in the entire book.
Next time: Those Dudes What Use Swords
Prestige is OverratedOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
11: Prestige is Overrated
Okay, now these start getting a little silly.
The most nonsensical table in the book.
Blademasters are probably one of the more lore-heavy classes but damn if you aren't gonna want to just write down effects instead of power names on your sheet. See, all of those nonsense phrases written on that chart above are, in fact, sword forms which come up in the novels! But we never really hear what a single one of them IS, just names and sometimes "X counters Y". Let's play a game: I'm going to name these, you guess what they do before hovering over the spoiler!
Parting the Silk:
Instantly deal max damage on a hit. Have to roll for Power Attack/Sneak Attack/other bonus damage still, though.
Increased Multiplier: okay this one you probably know, raise your crit multiplier by 1.
Superior Weapon Focus: also a bit obvious, add +1 to anything you have Weapon Focus with.
Eyes of the Crane (yes, it's a typo on the table):
Delay your attack for the round. If someone attacks you, you can spring the attack at a +2 attack/damage bonus on them. Will also stack with Parting the Silk.
Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose:
You gain the Improved Critical feat. No, really. Not even "something akin to it", just take the feat.
- Heron Spreads His Wings: Whirlwind Attack is now an attack action rather than full action.
Commanders are what Nobles become if you're more of a leader than a rich prick. Most of your abilities are going to come down to your CHA bonus, and you can buff allies (getting them to do things like travel faster, fight better, or just not get hit). Their final skill, "To The Bitter End", lets anyone within 30 feet of the Commander fight while dying without any issue, finally keeling over at -10HP.
Gee, I wonder what this guy does.
Gleemen are bards. Travelling bards, court bards, but they're entertainers and most are going to have some sort of instrument they play, and maybe an extra trick or two they can pull out for a tough crowd. It's pretty close to what you'd expect from a bard: they get Gleeman's Lore early on to ID things or pull out information that folks might not commonly know, they can distract folks in battle for an attack bonus, and the rest of their levels are all "take X as a bonus feat" or "you play a song that buffs allies/debuffs enemies".
Thief-Takers , in a nutshell, are bounty hunters. It's a little more complicated than that, but basically they're mercenaries you can hire to track a thief, or use shady skills for more honorable purposes. Think of them as Thief-Plus: they get higher Sneak Attack bonuses, can begin choosing skills that they can instantly take 10 on (even in rough conditions), cripple an opponent to deal (temporary) stat damage, or roll away from a lethal strike to lessen damage/reposition themselves. They can even get to where they can disarm One Power-fueled traps at higher ranks. Pretty damn good.
A "color-changing cloak" on a Warder.
Warders are the men bonded to an Aes Sedai. You really aren't gonna find anyone who gets trained harder in the art of weaponry and (physical) fighting than these guys. That said, they're basically just a Fighter prestige class (get a bunch of Cleave feats!) aside from their DEX-based dodge bonuses as they level (immune to flanking, reaction bonuses, etc.). They also have cloaks which are basically camoflage in damn near any environment. I don't think anyone ever really explains how these things are made? Maybe it's Power-wrought, but it's just the kind of thing that you only get from the White Tower, and having one without being a Warder is a huge red flag to anyone who knows what it is.
Prerequisite: Shitty Grooming
Wolfbrothers are the other big prestige class to get Lost skills, but they take it at a huge cost. First off, their requirements are flexible. You need Animal Empathy (8 ranks), Listen (5 ranks), Spot (5 ranks), Wilderness Lore (5 ranks), and the Animal Affinity + Latent Dreamer feats... or you can ignore up to 3 of these for 1d6 points of Madness per requirement you skip.
That's right, Wolfbrothers (and, for the record, you can also be a Wolfsister, no gender lock) are the only non-male-channeler class in the game to use the Madness stat! You don't risk the rotting illness, but instead, every time you level up, the GM rolls another d6 to raise your stat, and it represents how much of your consciousness you've lost to the wolf-state. Hitting too high a level will render you feral entirely, but keep in mind, the higher it gets, the more things can trigger you to just flip your shit outta nowhere.
Now, that said? Wolfbrothers are a damn solid class. There really isn't an underwhelming level bonus for these dudes at any point. One level in this class will net you the power to talk to wolves telepathically (for a 10 mile x your level range - note it just says YOUR LEVEL, not "your Wolfbrother level") and perfectly identify all plants you ever see and any effects they have with unerring accuracy, as well as instantly identify if a source of water is safe, or in any way tampered with (poisoned, polluted, cursed, etc.). One level. Take a second and suddenly you gain low-light vision, the ability to smell things at a massive range and get a bonus to tracking, and golden irises which grant you a permanent +2 to Intimidate. Third level? You can physically enter the world of dreams . Fourth lets you start calling a pack of wolves to your aid at any time, fifth lets you smell the emotions of the people around you (bonus to Sense Motive and you can just take a Spot check at DC15 to instantly tell someone's emotional state). 6-8 are the "quiet" levels (stat bonuses, tracking bonuses), then 9 nets you an enhanced regeneration, and at 10th, you get a buffed Call Wolves, no longer needing to make an Animal Empathy check to win them over, summoning larger amounts, and they'll obey you even to the death.
Wolfbrothers are pretty fucking keen.
Next Time: Serious Flaws
The Deadliest MessOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
12: The Deadliest Mess
After the GM chapter is "Encounters", and oh man, this chapter is pretty broke in a lot of ways.
Challenge codes! Man, who the hell ever missed those? I sure don't. The worst part of this is that you may notice the only examples it gives are all PC-classed enemies, not, say, the creatures from the end of the chapter (who don't go above rank G, and only one is this high) or have good explanations of how to combine codes/enemies to classify them properly. Also, what size party are we dealing with here? Nowhere in the chapter does it clarify this. We continue to use A-I all throughout the chapter despite this, even for "hazard challenges".
This table still fills me with rage.
This is probably the highest damage listed in the game on this table. But again: nothing really explains when you should use one code over another. If you're at this for the first time, nothing is guiding you to an appropriate level for your crew that might just utterly wipe them. They seriously list this as what you should use for trap damage, the sole guide!
Then we come to the biggest oversight in the game as of this book: Poisons & Diseases.
See, both of them follow this format: a DC to resist them, then, if you fail that, an initial stat damage, and then a secondary effect (usually larger amounts of stat damage) if you fail a second saving throw later. In the case of diseases, they're a shitload nastier. First off, the secondary effect takes two saves if you fail the first - failing the second permanently strips you of a stat point*, instead of just damaging you in a healable fashion. You don't get over a disease as easily, as well: until you succeed at two saves in a row, you're still diseased. They also break up the diseases into "Type I/Type II/Animal-based/Spore-based"... buuuuuut nothing sums up what makes Type I/II distinct from one another, nor is there a list of diseases anywhere in the book. (Poisons have a table as well, but they're all named and in one place.)
* Animal and Spore-based diseases actually require THREE saves, because you can lose TWO stat points per day permanently, one each on different stats.
Oh, and there's no way to heal these offhand in the core book .
Until the Prophecies of the Dragon adventure book a year later, there was absolutely no way aside from making your saves to cure these. They mentioned that someone with Craft (herbalism) could do so but also didn't mention how it would do so or what could even be made with the skill in the base book. Similarly, the Healing talent had no weaves to fix these, and thus if you just sneezed on someone, you had a better chance to kill a PC than cutting them open - Aes Sedai were unable to stop your mad plan. (Same went for healing non-permanent ability damage: no weave until that book came out, you only got 1 point back a day AFTER you kicked the disease/poison.)
Next Time: Beastiological Studies
Conquerers' Creature CatalogueOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
13: Conquerers' Creature Catalogue
So there actually aren't that many creatures in here, and it makes sense. Most of the series, anything that isn't a human threat comes from two rather limited sources: Shadowspawn, engineered monsters from the War of Power way back when, or "exotic creatures" that the Seanchan armies brought with them. Humans are statted up pretty solidly in the classes, as the game sees it, so you get a total of 17* creatures in here, and 4 of those are animals you'd see in real life (mountain cats, wolves, horses, and, you guessed it, RATS, under "vermin").
* Give or take. You could argue you get a few more given that some of these come in child/adult or greater/lesser varieties.
Well, except I kind of lied, because most of the Seanchan stuff is "(animal) but (spiky/bigger)". Sometimes I feel lazy in these writeups and most of these don't have any cool tricks, so... comedy creature cavalcade!
Imagine a herd of these things running across a plain and try not to bust out laughing.
A Corlm is a chocobo. We cool on that? Okay, good. Don't ride it, these things are vicious and smell you coming for a mile off.
Too bad we have a smug Smaug already or this'd be the perfect face for "prick-ass reptile"
Grolm are battle-frogs. Not even kidding: "A Grolm is roughly the same shape as a frog but [...] has three fierce eyes protected by a horned ridge, a horny beak, and clawed, six-toed feet." +10 to Jump and somehow they have trip as a special attack. Imagine how much shit you catch from other soldiers if this thing somehow trips you in the middle of a battle, they describe these things in the novels as being "bear-sized". Seriously, does it just leap at you and then sweep your leg? How does that even...
Lopar are described as "the most dangerous Seanchan creature". I have abso-fucking-lutely no idea how they came to this conclusion, given it's a "C" rank, and given that s'redit exist. (More on them shortly.) These things aren't incredibly bright, but tend to be rather friendly, and are used as bodyguards for nobles: you get the lopar used to the kid early, and they'll fight to defend them with their lives as they grow. The kids might hit 6 feet, but the lopar's gonna hit 10+ and weigh roughly a ton. I like to think of them as nature's bouncer given another descriptor: "When used for battle, lopar are normally fitted with a leather coat (+2 Defense) that protect's the creature's spine, chest, and belly." Imagine this thing in a leather jacket outside of a club turning people away. C'mon. It's pretty funny.
Let's be honest with ourselves here: riding drake.
Raken are flying horses, more or less. Horse-sized, carry small jockeys who wield spears, can be ridden to death.
S'redit arFUCK YOU THAT'S AN ELEPHANT
Somehow it is shameful to ride this, when compared to their crappy cousins. I dunno either.
To'raken are the raken's bigger, meaner relative. Huger, longer range, and can fly 200 miles without stopping with 1000 pounds of cargo in its grasp, rider be damned . These guys are large enough you can fit multiple riders on them, it mentions sometimes there's a pilot and then crossbowmen (yes, plural) just seated behind them. How the fuck do they find LEADING CRAZY AERIAL COMMANDO DEATH RAIDS to be the less honorable option than "riding the moped of the sky"? Seanchan are weird.
Yet another riding lizard. "Exotic" my ass
Finally, Torm are an offshoot of Grolm that have solid stamina and run long distances instead of leaping. Also you can ride 'em. This is made even stupider, if you ask me, by the fact that Grolm can LEAP ACROSS BATTLEFIELDS (get a dude with a spear on there are you all idiots, you'd literally have a Dragoon Corps) as a specialty, and meanwhile Torm will actually start to frenzy if they're in a fight for long, attacking everyone but their rider and an especially close trainer. So in the middle of a battle suddenly you've got all your cavalry turning berserker and cutting up anyone nearby indiscriminately, maybe cutting through your OWN people. Good show, you tactical twits.
I'm just saying, there's probably a reason these guys have all these animals nobody on this continent has ever seen before, and yet still get fucking schooled most of the time. Spoilers, I guess.
Next Time: Shadowspawn!
Actual ThreatsOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
14: Actual Threats
We're going to play a game this time! Instead of putting them down alphabetically, I'm going to rank the remaining monsters (all Shadowspawn, recall) from least-deadly to most-deadly, and explain why I put who where. Then I'll tell you what the challenge codes for each are when we're done. The answers might surprise you!
Goat-Boy's dick cousin
Trollocs are pretty much your standard tier-one orc/goblin/etc. of the setting: a hybrid of men and various beasts (boars, goats, wildcats, etc.) to create BEASTS OF EVIL which could be made en masse as cannon fodder for the armies of the Dark One. They don't like daylight, as you might expect, taking a -2 attack penalty when engaged in it. They might actually be WORSE than your generic orc due to the fact that a lot of the time, to keep them in line, they have to be bonded to a Myrddraal as a master, 1d6+20 can be serving a single Myrddraal. Kill the boss and all the Trollocs under them drop to the ground and die in a round or two. Gruesomely, too, they convulse and writhe before croaking.
No but seriously the artist in this book really used quite a lot of "reference material" for the creature chapter
Nosferatu up there is a Draghkar , who can't attack worth shit (1d6 from a claw) but have two abilities you can straight up murder dudes with: "Captivating Song" is a charming melody that you get a single save against - if you're safe, you get to be immune to it for a day. If you fuck it up, you're in its power until it stops singing, period*. You're headed directly towards the creature via the shortest path possible, which is when it will probably use its Kiss, a melee touch that provokes opportunity. Make a fortitude save every round of the kiss or lose 1d6 points of Wisdom permanently. Needless to say, this is going to kill you very quickly if you can't roll Fort worth a damn. Combine this with flight to escape should your fellow party members come to assist and these things are a damn vicious creature. Luckily they get 16HP tops.
* Sort of. If it tries leading you into dangerous terrain (through fire, off a cliff, etc.) you get one more chance to save, but that's the last chance.
Bland.jpg - it's cool, it's on purpose
Gray Men actually aren't quite the same as the other Shadowspawn, instead being people convinced to not only serve the Dark One, but straight up give their souls away. Their bodies end up as husks, somehow making them seem completely bland and fitting wherever they are - perfect assassins. Mechanics-wise, this means +8 to Hide/Move Silently checks as a racial bonus (they already have +13 Hide and +10 Move Silent in their statblock! this is pretty crazy!), and can Hide at any time if they aren't engaged in combat. Just go walking around completely unnoticed by guards, party members, etc. Not good for their targets, they get Sneak Attack dice as well as a three-rounds-of-study Death Attack to straight up save-or-die someone. And studying a target doesn't count as an "out of the ordinary" action to make them visible.
Again, did I mention that this is a game where numbers are usually LOW? And that these guys can be sent in groups of 1-4 according to the "Organization" chunk of the statblock? They're pretty potent. However, in what's one of my favorite little bits of "the villains aren't idiots" lore chunks, if a Gray Man (group?) fails to kill a target, nobody sends another set. That's just wasteful if you know it doesn't work.
You're facing entirely the wrong way to bark at the moon, what the hell, Greg
are the only Shadowspawn to come in "Lesser" and "Greater" varieties
come in packs of 2-8
have poisonous blood that anyone using a non-Large, non-ranged weapon is going to get splashed with on every attack they hit with (remember, nothing cures poison in this book, so each hit is gonna do 1d6 STR and maybe 1d6 CON damage if you fuck up a save!)
which are even nastier than the blood (one bad save = 1d6 CON damage, two bad saves = DEAD), this is their only attack
- are even nastier sumbitches in their Greater form: add another hit die, regen/5, and a complete inability to be killed with anything other than the One Power . If you cut them down and do not channel them to death, they just get right the hell up again.
Honestly, the only reason I'm not ranking these dudes higher than the next guy on the list has to do with the fact that "lesser" Darkhounds exist + the one-two punch the next guys have to fuck up your saves.
No, those aren't wings, it's a really weird drawing
Remember when I said that Trollocs were usually linked to another creature to order them around? Meet the Myrddraal . Let's keep that Trollocs-as-orcs metaphor from earlier going: if a Trolloc breeds with anything that's not a Trolloc, one of two things happens: the animal half is more dominant in the offspring and it dies, or the human half is stronger and we get a Myrddraal (just referred to as a Fade for the rest of this writeup because it's a common nickname in the novels/it's a lot easier for me to not fuck up and misspell). That's right, a Fade is this setting's answer to half-orcs. These dudes just look like a somewhat-tall human male aside from, you know. No eyes at all. Entire cultures up near the Blight have developed around not letting these dudes in to fuck people up: it's illegal to cover your face within most city walls, and the streets are kept blindingly lit at night because oh did I mention they can also instantly travel through shadows to any other shadow within miles ?
They've also got Blight-forged blades that both inflict a wasting disease (1d6 CON every day after you get struck by it), and also deal damage which cannot be recovered in any way but Power-based healing . No potions, no herbs, nothing but a channeler is fixing you up if that sword hits skin. In addition, there's an also-Blight-forged armor that's individually fitted per Fade (+4 AC, +6 DEX bonus max... hey guess how much of a DEX bonus they all get, c'mon, take a guess!), and the ability to "see" the One Power being weaved - if one of these is on your trail, channeling will lead them right on top of you. Usually with 20 or so Trollocs. I saved even worse for last: if you are within 30 feet of a Fade, make a Will save or take 1d6 minutes of fear (-2 to all rolls/saves). If you kill a Fade, tough luck, buddy: these dudes stay alive until the next sunset. No matter what time of day it is when you kill them, they have a chance someone will get them back up until the sun goes down, even if you burn them, behead them, whatever. (It does, however, mention that they can't heal on their own when below -10, so that's a plus, they need assistance. Maybe, like... 20 Trollocs worth of assistance.)
Yes, there's something even worse than this.
This dude takes out one of my favorite characters in the novels.
Lore-wise, you're probably never going to sic a Gholam on your crew. This is one of those things that got created during the War of Power that made everybody nervous: even the Forsaken didn't want too many of these kicking around, and so only 6 were ever created, 3 of each gender. They are straight up channeler-killers. These are the only living thing in the setting immune to balefire , and, in fact, all weaves. Period. They are also immune to criticals/sneak attacks, being completely boneless, and that anatomical oddity means they can squeeze through any hole 1/16th inch thick with no problem. Similarly, it lets them move quite quietly: +8 racial bonus to Move Silently (and a +19 skillset for it). They take class levels too if you think they're not lethal enough! So that can be added onto the pile, with a damage reduction 5/+1 to boot.
The concept of these dudes is actually really cool, but damn if they are not basically a massive "fuck you" to anyone who ever has to bring one down. Rather high HP for the game (not counting class levels, again), the only DR in the entire creature chapter, and by the description, they make sure to go for non-channelers first since the mages can't do shit to them. Pairing one of these up with ANYTHING is probably going to off some PCs.
So! Let's get back to that game I mentioned: here are the challenge codes for each of these creatures, and I'm gonna add the "challenging" (ie, average) level that the chapter gives for an encounter like this beside as a reminder.
Darkhound: D/E (6-8/9-11)
Draghkar: C (3-5)
Gholam: G (15-17)
Gray Man: E (9-11)
Myrddraal: E (9-11)
Trolloc: A (1-2 on "simple", it's not even recommended to toss at a "challenging" encounter. DESPITE THE GROUPS OF 2-6 IF THERE'S NO FULL BATALLION/FADE)
I still fucking hate that challenge code system.
Next Time: Artwork Roundup!
The EndOriginal SA post
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game
Really nothing more left in the book to work with, consider it killed here.