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Attribute Scores

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 04/20/2020 - 21:13
Rut Roh.

I keep going back and tinkering with foundation concepts that underpin everything. I figure, this is my chance to do that, so I may as well at least investigate options as they come to mind.

One of the things that occurred to me last night while rolling up a fighter was attribute scores - if you are a fighter at level 1 who doesn't have STR 12, you are at a disadvantage. You are losing +1 to hit and damage every round just by dropping to 11, and +2 to hit and damage every round if you let STR slip to 9. And a fighter with STR 7? Fugeddaboutit. You are looking at a loss of +3 to both hit and damage every single time you attack.

The other issue arises at the top end. One of the intentional things in magical item design is trying to keep attribute creep under control. If you pick up an item that gives you giant strength, you have both STR 18, and +6 to attack and damage rolls in combat, which is HUGE. You are dealing tremendous damage with every swing.

What if we cut the scale down considerably, and put our break points every 4, rather than every 2, attribute points. Here's an example of how that might look:

Rating 2-5 (-1 modifier). Below average range.
Rating 6-9 (no modifier). Average range.
Rating 10-13 (+1 modifier). Exceptional range.
Rating 14-17 (+2 modifier). Heroic range.
Rating 18-21 (+3 modifier). Epic range.
Rating 22+ (+4 modifier). Beyond mortal ability.

Now, your level 1 fighter can have STR 10, 11, 12, or 13 and get +1 to attacks and damage. Or, he can have a 'lowly' STR of 6, and only be +1 back from a much stronger fighter.

It's not that your high STR doesn't matter. The game relies on a large number of checks, so your high strength score still makes a difference. Just not in combat.

Now, you can pick up a gauntlet of storm giant strength (STR 18) and rock the checks - you can rip doors off their hinges and lift huge weights. But, you are still only getting +3 to attack and damage, so it's not breaking the game in terms of bonuses. Your level still matters a lot, and your magical weapon is just as important. This keeps attributes in line with other, comparable scales.

Let's look at other implications:

For INT, this means that the formula for arcane spells would be different; your number of spells would be your tier + your INT modifier. As a tier 3 caster with INT 10, you get 4 spells of tier 1, 3 spells of tier 2, and 2 spells of tier 3 each day. If you can get that INT to 14, you get 1 more spell of each tier. It's not a game breaker, but it's a nice perk for having that exceptional intelligence. You can still be a magic user with INT 6... it's just going to be a little bit harder for you. The difference between 6 and 14 matters, but it's not an impossible difference. However, those lore checks are going to be far, far easier for the smarter magic user.

WIS and CON work the same way with their spells.

DEX modifiers to armor class would be mitigated, which keeps AC scaled a bit lower - which aligns with how AC scales for monsters a little better. I am ALMOST tempted to allow you to add your level to AC (as happens with my other games), and to make the armor you wear less important. Now we're DEEP into tinkering with the rules. However, your ability to get out of the way of damage should in large measure be a facet of experience. A magic user 1 and magic user 6 with the exact same gear should not be just as easy to hit; that second magic user has been in hundreds of battles, and has learned how to avoid being hit.

Since the game only goes to 6 levels, this is easy to mitigate. At the top end:

That magic user 6 has a ring of protection +3, and has DEX 14 (+2) from magical items. He has AC 21. In the current system, he has AC 15.
A fighter 6 has a suit of plate mail (+3) with a +3 enchantment, carries a shield (+2) with a +3 enchantment, but gets no DEX bonus because of the heavy armor. He has AC 27. In the current system, he would have AC 23.

Don't love how this is scaling. It works to add level for the supers and army ants games, because there are so few add-ons in game that contribute to AC, but here (where there is a lot of magic), that's not so much.

We could always scale back magic, too, so that there are only 2 levels of enchantment - enchanted and mystical. This would cut our magic user down to a 20 AC at level 6, and our fighter down to 25... and if we pull the AC bonus from a shield back to +1 (which makes more sense here), he's now down to AC 24. Again, your level matters more than your gear.

I'm going to let this simmer for a day or two...







Strange Days and Nights in Shkizz

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 04/20/2020 - 11:00
Our 5e Azurth game continued last night with the party still on the road to the Sapphire City at the center of the Land of Azurth. After several days on the road, they were now near the northern border of Yanth Country. Tired of sleeping by the roadside, they decided to spend the night in the sound of Shkizz. Kully has heard through on the bard circuit that Shkizz is a really boring town, but a safe one.

Emblazoned on Shkizz's walls are the motto: "Blandness is Next to Godliness." The party finds out the town tries their hardest to live that by that creed. All the food is bland, the clothes unisex and colorless, and there is no alcohol to be had.

The party gets rooms at the Tranquil Glenn Inn, where they are in bed by curfew. Several hours after they are in bed (but not sleeping, suspicious of this town), they are awakened by sounds of merrymaking, and wild abandon. The people of Shkizz have traded their drab clothes for colorful carnival attire (when they are wearing clothes at all), consuming massive amounts of alcohol, and generally engaging in wanton hedonism and even criminality.

The party doesn't understand what's going on, but they do a little drinking and play some music to blend in. After a few hours, the revelers were either passed out, concussed, or secluded for amorous activities. The party took up strategic hiding places to see what happened next. As dawn begin to break, hungover workers arrive in their daytime attire to clean up the the detritus of the night's debauchery.

When the party tried to question the townsfolk they were met by icy stares--and then they were approached by guardsmen who arrested them for not disturbing the peace the night before! They were swiftly taken before a judge and found guilty of not committing any number of crimes. They're sentenced to two days in jail.

The party plans to break out at night time, thus committing a crime and obeying Shkizz's rules, but before they do, they see robed figures descending down a hidden stair in the back of the court building.

Their curiosity piqued, once they escape, they follow the mysterious figures below.

Weird Revisited: Over There

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 04/19/2020 - 14:00

Take the fairyland across the border of Lud-in-the-Mist or A Fall of Stardust. In between it and the "real world" there is a wall or barrier-- let's say an "Anti-Alien Protection Rampart" in official terminology. Instead of England on the real world side there's East Berlin and the GDR or some sutble Eastern Bloc stand-in. Drüben indeed.

While "Workers of the World, Unite Against the Faerie!" would be interesting enough, recasting the fairy presence with some Zone phenomena-like details out of Roadside Picnic and a bit of the seductiveness of the Festival from Singularity Sky: "Entertain us and we will give you want you want." Faerie should be weird and horrifying but also weird and wondrous--in a horrific way, naturally. Miracles, wonders, and abominations.

Of course, the authorities don't want anybody having interaction with the faerie, much less smuggling in their reality-warping, magical tech--and maybe they have a point. But if PCs did the smart thing they wouldn't be adventurers, would they?

Tempest

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:21
A few years ago, I directed a production of the Tempest at my school, and I made the poster. I really liked the design at the time, and I found a copy of the image online, and decided to redraw it for the TSR ruleset. It turned out AWESOME. I'm going to put this on the index page. I wanted to put it with Nature Magic (an example of weather control), but don't really have the room to do it justice, and wanted to give it like a third of a page. I thought I would share...

Decapus

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 04/17/2020 - 00:52
And to think I had originally cut the decapus from the rulebook! I ended up with some room on that page, added it back, and decided to give it an upgrade. It's now a beholder-style threat, but for lower-level characters. Probably my favorite monster now.

I'm thinking a group of level 2 characters could maybe take this guy on. He's going to attack with the tentacles for sure, but he's also got a few magical tricks up his sleeve... er, tentacle.

I like the idea that he keeps shifting his weight all the time, and attacks with a different number of tentacles each round; he's got 9, and 1d4+3 of them are attacking at any time.



Stalwart Keep

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 04/16/2020 - 19:39
And here is the starter location for our intrepid heroes. I mean, they don't have to be intrepid. Or heroes. And they don't have to START here, I guess. They could just kind of end up here. Or not.

I mean. It's a place, okay?


The Sons of Hercules Against the Giants

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:00

I have discovered that Prime Video has a decent number of Italian Sword and Sandal/peplum available, and I have been availing myself of them. It has me thinking that a D&D game with a muscle-bound heroes would be an interesting change of pace. What better place to deploy those mighty thews than--against the giants!


The king of a city-state beset by giants sends a small band of heroes to put a stop to this. The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief could be reimagined as some fortress of ancient world Mediterranean "barbarians," (though in the realm of Sword and Sandal films, there's no need for strict historical accuracy!) but beyond the trappings everything else could pretty much go the same way.


Maybe using something like Exemplars & Eidolons would be suitable to give the heroes the right amount of muscle?

A Starter Dungeon

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 04/15/2020 - 19:12
My draft of the core rules for the updated and expanded Tales of the Splintered Realm has the same introductory adventure from the original rules, albeit with a few minor tweaks that ground it in the present setting more directly, and which provide some hooks for later expansion.

However, as I was working out this morning (yeah, I do that now - THANKS virus), I was thinking of a starter dungeon that was both introductory adventure and guide to designing dungeons. It was not only an adventure, but a how to with the fundamentals of things that are likely to be in a dungeon crawl.

I started to think about maps, but then found this map I made maybe a year ago. I updated it with stairs and doors, threw a grid on it, and spent an hour and a half putting in the cross hatching. I still don't know if I'm using it, but thought I'd share anyway.















Wednesday Comics: Dreadstar Returns

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/15/2020 - 11:00
Hot on the hills of the Dreadstar Omnibus, there's a new Kickstarter for a continuation of Dreadstar by Starlin himself! Check it out.

Design Challenge

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 04/14/2020 - 15:29
When I teach my students about creative writing, I explain that you need to create a framework for yourself in which to be creative; if I give a student a blank sheet of paper and say that students can write about anything, paralysis sets in. If I tell students that they have to write a story with two characters trapped in an elevator, it's 8 in the morning, and one of them keeps sneezing, I suddenly have everyone with pen to paper.
It's just how creativity works.
So, I've created the same confines for myself with the new edition of Tales. I did it with the first edition as well, with the challenge to get the complete game system into 16 pages (which I later expanded to 20 when I realized I had left out some things I really wanted in there).
For this draft, the challenge was originally 64 pages, but I have since been able to slim it down to 48. So, the challenge is to get an entire game (basically, all of the Basic and Expert rules of '81, plus my own mad creations) down to 48 pages. 
And I'm almost there. I have a solid working draft that includes the following:
- 6 races and 6 classes, for a total of 36 possible race/class combinations. And with multi-classing, this actually means that there are 720 possible character options in the core rules (gnome fighter, gnome fighter/thief, gnome fighter/thief/magic user...).- 31 Talents, including rules for alchemy, familiars, and ethereal animals (think Patronus)- 120 spells- Rules for chants- Hundreds of magical items (30 potions, 100 miscellaneous items, plus dozens of combinations of armor and weapons, and every possible spell as a scroll - and the potential that any of these is cursed).- 141 monsters (at present - might squeeze in a few more)- An overview of a campaign setting, a campaign map (in full color), a starter location map with key, an introductory adventure, and hooks for further campaign exploration.- And of course, guidelines for henchmen, hirelings, building strongholds, and 'name-level' gaming.
Whew!
I plan to release the pdf first (in a week or two) and the print version a bit later. It will be a saddle-stitched 8.5x11 book the way that nature intended.
 

Gods of Eternia

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 04/13/2020 - 11:00

Gods and titanic monsters are not uncommon in Eternia's Masters of the Universe mythology, but very little genuine Eternian religion is revealed in the stories. What little we know of what gods were actually worshipped only comes from the post-Great War epoch, though it sometimes purports to detail events from before that era, from the time referred to as "Preternia."

Trollans
Eternian myth is only passingly concerned with cosmogony. There is the vague notion of primordial, creator gods, but these are either destroyed or sacrifice themselves at the dawn of the universe. They leave things in the hand of custodial beings, which may in fact represent an advanced civilization the ancient Eternians encountered. These beings, called Trollans, occupy a space between archangels and trickster gods. By the time of the legends of the Randorian court, the Trollans had been diminished to elfin beings and comedy relief, perhaps a reflection their decreasing importance next to Goddess worship.

Serpos
Serpos was titanic, three-head serpent worshipped by the Snake folk, a people said to have been created by a renegade Trollan. The Snake folk are said to have unless their god to level entire cities in their bid for conquest. The Snake folk dominated much of Eternia in the Preternian period and after their defeat and purported exile, Serpos was reinterpreted as either a destructive primitive aspect of the Goddess or her offspring.

The Goddess
The Goddess was typically depicted wearing a cobra headdress and sometimes with green skin. While some scholars have connected the headdress with Serpos and the Snake folk, others view it as predating the Snake folk's arrival. The green skin possibly links her with vegetation and life, allying her with the forest deity who appears in the mythos as Moss Man.

The serpent-themed Goddess initially seems predominant in the Eternos region, but immigrants from the northern plains identified her instead with an Eternian bird of prey. By the Randorian era, the Sorceress of Grayskull, held to be the Goddess' living incarnation and oracle, was garbed in feathered raiment.
Art by Gerald Parel

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 04/12/2020 - 18:54
First of all, Happy Easter!

Now, on to gaming...

In going through my draft for Tales of the Splintered Realm, which is coming along nicely, I was trying to clean up the archetypes. I had twelve different archetypes going, and was trying to get them to not look so ... messy.
Then I realized that I've made this a LOT more complicated than it needs to be. I decided to go with the 3E option (which might be in 5E... I have no idea) that each level you can advance in a different class, and that we go back to race and class as two separate options. I know that I've made race and class a hybrid thing for this game, and I may revise the 'basic rules' to do that, but the main rulebook is going to have the mix and match option. This cleans things up, and lets me build every character I could want to build. I want to make a gnome trickster who has more arcane magic than thievery... fine. He's going to progress 2x in magic user for every level of thief, and ultimately wants to end up as a magic user 4/thief 2. Exactly the character I want. This caused me to revisit a few core concepts.

1. Class Progression and Attribute Increases are changed.
You select a class and a race. Every time you level up, you can progress in your current class, or you can take 1 level in another class. At level 1, Mimsby was a magic user 1. At level 2, he became a magic user 1/thief 1. At level 3, he took another level of magic user, becoming a magic user 2/thief 1.

Ever level, there is a chance that you have an attribute score increase. Roll 1d6. If you roll equal to or above the current attribute modifier, you increase the rating +1. For example, Mimsby moves to level 4, and takes 1 level of magic user. He currently has INT 11 (+2). He rolls 1d6; if he rolls 2 or above, his INT increases to 12. If he rolls a 1, it stays where it is. Any rating of 9 or lower automatically will increase; once you get up around 15 (+4), it gets less and less likely to see that increase.

2. Classes and Races are simplified.
They each give a few specific benefits. When you hit level 4, you trigger a special ability for your class. For example:

- Magic User gives you the lore talent, and 1 tier of arcane magic every level. You have a chance of increasing INT every level. At level 4, you get to cast one instant spell each turn.

- Elf gives you +1 to INT at level 1. You add +2 to sense Feats. You have darkvision.

That's it.
And by the way, I took shield use away as a separate ability. It comes included with medium armor access. However, a fighter with two weapons can choose to use the shield as his second weapon; he gets the benefit of the armor class bonus, but also gets to bash enemies with the shield every round for a little bit of damage (1d4). However, he'd get to add magical shield bonuses to attack and damage rolls, so it's a pretty nifty combo. Fighters are now much more awesome. I need to upgrade the two-handed talent by giving an extra +1 to attack rolls just to offset this; the two weapons ability for a fighter is SWEET if you go sword and shield. You get two attacks per round and +2 to AC at level 1. Good stuff, but only fighters get it. Of course, anyone can take one level of fighter just to do it...
3. Attributes and how they link to magic are moved around.
I bumped WIS back to faith magic, because Healer is now the default class for that. I bumped nature magic over to CON, since it makes sense that your ability to channel nature would be based on your personal endurance; you are channeling a lightning bolt through yourself, so you better be hardy. This allowed me to free up CHA for the bard, and to include chants as part of the core rules, which I am very happy about. It also gave me a class to link CON to, since I was having trouble with that. STR is the fighter, INT is the magic user, DEX is the thief… it was the other three I couldn’t firm up. Now I have.
And now I can make my dream stoutling bard character who picks up one level of fighter. Bwahahaha.

Rabbits and Eggs in Azurth

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 04/12/2020 - 14:00
This post has become my lazy Easter blog tradition...


There is, in the Land of Azurth, a magical treasure peculiar to the Hara or Rabbit Folk and celebrated in their legends. A number (though no one knows the exact number) of eggs in variegated pastels are forever being lost and rediscovered; they are objects of quests for great heroes and the catalyst for small folk to elevated their station. They are associated with both just rulers and holy madmen.

The eggs are said to have been crafted on the Moon by the rabbit goddess the Bright Lady as gifts to favored mortals or saints on the occasion of the birth of spring. The shell of each egg is held to not be mere eggshell but ceramic made from moonstuff. The eggs have moved down through history, sought, horded, and fought over for their beauty and their magic power--each egg has a unique arcane property. One might have the power to heal, while another the ability to command others to do the bearer's bidding. Still another might allow one to see the future.

The Rabbit Folk sometimes make their own mundane eggs for vernal celebrations in honor of the goddess, while unscrupulous relic-dealers occasional try to pass off fakes as the real artifacts. The abundance of imitations has only increased the difficulty of finding the real thing.

It is said that Lapin XXII, King of the Warrens of the Hara, has several of the eggs in his possession, stored in a ceremonial basket.

Back Cover Map

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 04/11/2020 - 19:31
I normally don't put much thought into back covers. I was actually very happy for a while to have a great looking pre-made advertisement for Blue Dungeon Tiles to put on my releases. However, for the new book, I decided the back cover would be the perfect place to put the campaign map. I went completely old school with this one, doing my best World of Greyhawk riff.

I am so excited that this is going to be the back cover, and that it is going to be presented in glorious full color.

By the way, this is the western side of the continent that has been my campaign map for 20+ years. It connects to the rest of the Splintered Realm I've already detailed ad nauseum, but it is a hitherto unexplored area.

Eternian Armsmen

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 04/09/2020 - 11:00
At the onset of the Eternian Dark Ages, warbands swept across much of the so-called Light Hemisphere, disrupting the struggling remnants of civilization and destabilizing fledgling powers on the rise. Their ranks were drawn from the displaced or rootless warriors of an entire continent. Their equipment came from salvage; these soldier-scavengers targeted the ruins and ruin-adjacent settlements with the largest deposits of metals and technology. Tools from the time before the Great War were reconfigured into weapons, and raw material were beat into armor, making the Armsmen, as they came to be called, the most formidable military force of the era. They struck quickly as savagely, some by aircraft ("the Wind Raiders") and others employing an assort of land vehicles.

Within two centuries the Armsmen underwent significant changes. While many still served as mercenaries, they had developed into a quasi-religious military order with the technology of the Ancients venerated as relics. Technical manuals were treated almost as liturgical texts. While the Armsmen were still formidable fighters, their focus was more on the location and recovery of lost technology.


By the time of the folk hero "He-Man," it is believed they the Armsmen no longer existed as a cohesive cultural group, but some families and small sects held to some or all of the Armsmen's practices. The Man-At-Arms of the Masters of the Universe legends represents a hermitic example of the dwindling, latter day Armsmen.

The elite Eternian Guard of the Randorian era were depicted dressed in the "classical" armor of the Armsmen, though most scholars believe any lingering Armsmen belief were at best vestigial by that point, a testament to the Armsmen's enduring cultural cachet.


Wednesday Comics: Free Comics

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/08/2020 - 11:00

While you're sheltering in place, some comics companies are making some titles available to you for free.

Humanoids has some comics this week you can read for free in memoriam of Juan Giménez. This includes the Jodorowsky/Gimenez epic Metabarons.

2000AD has made 400 pages of Judge Dredd available for free download!

Finally, Marvel Unlimited is offering some free comics in the Mighty Marvel manner for a limited time.

Cover Layout

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 14:09
I decided to go with a blood moon. And I remembered that in the Splintered Realm, the moon is broken, so that was kind of important. Here is a revised version that I absolutely love.


Color Version

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:06
Here is my working cover design for the deluxe edition of Tales of the Splintered Realm. In my mind, it's like my version of the D+D rules compendium. Or at least the Basic and Expert sets combined.
We'll see where it goes. My target is 128 pages, and I have lots of free time. Only about half of that is created right now, so I have miles to go before I sleep or some such.
If you have a wish list for what the game might include, comment away.

I Guess It's a Thing

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 03:32
Here is the cover design for the deluxe edition of Tales of the Splintered Realm.

This is the black and white version. The color version will be forthcoming... all that time I spent looking at Mike Mignola art tonight is starting to pay off.


Actions Per Round

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 18:21
One of the key changes to combat between the other iterations of the current game engine (The TSR engine is my nomenclature) and the Army Ants variation is the number of attacks per round. I decided that ants and other insects act often but don't do much damage; an ant can attack a number of times per round equal to his level; a level 5 ant gets off 5 shots per round, or can run, shoot, throw a grenade, run, and shoot some more. Or any combination like that.

I really, really like this. It makes gameplay fast, but also makes winning initiative at higher levels tremendously important. Your fighter 6 is swinging that sword 6 times per round. This means that damage probably needs to get scaled back to offset this.

  • Small weapons deal 1d4 damage
  • Medium weapons deal 1d6 damage (1d8 when two-handed)
  • Large weapons deal 1d8 damage (1d10 when two-handed)

A level 6 fighter with STR 18 (+6) and a good magic sword is attacking at 1s/+12/1d10+12. Against a foe with AC 16, he is hitting 5 out of 6 times, dealing an average total of 85 points of damage. Yeah. That's a LOT. But he's an endgame character with max abilities and gear. I might need to figure out how to mitigate this some.

In Army Ants, the difference between bugs and predators is that huge predators only attack once per round, but their damage is much higher. So, I was thinking of a variation on this that creates more strategy and variety to combat, but which might require more paperwork. Here it is...

  • You have a number of attack segments each round equal to your level. The default is that you make one attack/take one action with each segment.
  • Huge weapons (like a ballista) require more than one segment. A level 2 character can fire a ballista once per round, but a level 4 can fire it twice a round. 
  • Spells take a number of segments equal to their tier. A tier 1 spell requires 1 segment; a tier 6 spell requires 6 segments. So, a wizard 6 could cast one tier 6 spell on his action, two tier 3 spells, or a tier 2 spell, a tier 3 spell, and fire his sling. You have strategic options every round, and every spell 'feels' different in terms of how long it takes to cast.
  • A quick weapon grants +4 to initiative. Small weapons are quick. (or d4 damage?)
  • A slow weapon imposes -4 to initiative. Any weapon wielded 2-handed is slow. (or d12 damage?)
  • Monster attacks would be tiered in a similar way; a bear 4 might have a bite that has a rating of S2, while its claws have S1. It could bite twice in a round, attack with 4 claws, or do a classic claw/claw/bite. A huge dragon 6 could have a bite S4 and claws S1. Breath weapons work the same way; every die the creature uses is S1. A dragon 4 might have a breath weapon pool of 9d10, but can only use up to 4d10 at a time. If it uses a 1d10 breath weapon, it takes 1 sequence, but if it uses the full 4d10, it uses all 4 of its segments that round. 
  • Ghouls are level 2, but their claw attack is only S1, so they get to claw twice a round. The creature is coded so that its rate of attack and options are hard-wired into the system, and don't have to be explained.  
EDIT: I just thought of a permutation that solves a lot of problems. Your initiative is the order in which you act, but you only get one action per rotation, regardless of how many of your segments you use. So, a wizard 4 gets 4 segments per round. If on his first segment he casts a tier 1 spell, he still has 3 segments left, but has to wait until a full rotation (everyone else gets to act once) before acting again. This means you can layer in other options easily. You can always use a segment to defend, increasing your AC by +1 for the rest of the round, or to ready attacks, taking +1 to all remaining attacks the rest of the round. There are so many strategic options! If you have battle cry (for instance), you use 1 segment to activate your battle cry, but then all enemies within range suffer a penalty for the rest of the round. Nifty stuff. This means that level 1 sucks because you only get 1 action per round, so drinking a potion or moving a short distance is a killer, especially against a foe of higher level that gets multiple actions.

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