Thursday, April 06, 2017

Ad Astra Appendix II: The Warlock

The warlock (also called wizard, sorcerer, magus, etc. depending on the culture) is a special and unique class, which may not necessarily be applicable to every game of AD ASTRA and may not fit with every setting that uses these rules (even moreso than the psionic Knights.)  The class mechanics are also considerably more complicated than that of any other class, which may limit the degree to which GM's (or players) with to utilize the class.

Warlocks use the energy of the Outer Darkness in a more varied and broad way than Knights do.  In fact, their ability to do so is so broad and impressive that it is a class ability that effectively utilizes both of the character's class ability choices.  Or, in other words, this class ability is worth two class ability choices by itself, meaning that (mechanically, at least) all warlocks' class abilities will look exactly the same, and it cannot be mixed or matched with any other class ability.

Warlocks have a long list of powers.  As with Knights, they can use any of the powers listed on their class power list.  As with Knights, it costs hit points to use a power, as it physically exhausts the warlock to wrestle with energy from the Outer Darkness.  Unlike with Knights, however, different powers have a different cost, representing the amount of energy needed to manifest them.  This makes the warlock play very different to a Knight.  Warlocks are not particularly great at physical combat, and cannot use many powers during a single action scene, as a Knight may do, unless they are low-level powers with a low hit point cost.  More powerful powers can be used in combat, but they will tend to cost so much more in hit points to use, that the warlock has effectively already led with his best shot if he does so, and is at great risk through the remainder of the action scene.

Warlocks, on the other hand, can often do really amazing things when outside of action scenes.  Hit points might not be deducted from warlocks (or Knights) who use their powers when not in an action scene, because unless an action scene seems imminent, it won't matter—they'll have time to recover their hit points lost as normal for using their powers before they need to track hit points in a combat or other action scene.  Losing hit points during "down time" only to track their recovery is fine in a CRPG game where the program does the work for you; in this game, it's probably unnecessary book-keeping.  This is probably the only way that most warlocks can manifest the higher level powers, because in an action scene such as combat or a chase scene, or even a tense negotiation, the hit point cost would be prohibitive.

To determine the DC to resist any warlock manifested power, use the following formula: 10 + warlock level + warlock MND bonus.  

For most powers that target another creature, unless noted you must also make a successful attack roll before the effect of the power is realized.  You still bear the hit point cost of manifesting the power, but it has no effect if the attack roll misses.  The attack bonus a warlock uses with his power is equal to his normal attack bonus + MND score (instead of STR for melee attacks and DEX for ranged attacks.)

The following psionic powers cost 3 hit points to use:
  • Attraction: You plant a compelling attraction in the mind of the subject. The attraction can be toward a particular person or an object. The subject will take reasonable steps to meet, get close to, attend, or find the object of its implanted attraction. For the purpose of this power, "reasonable" means that, while attracted, the subject doesn't suffer from blind obsession. He will act on this attraction only when not engaged in combat. The subject won’t perform obviously suicidal actions. He can still recognize danger but will not flee unless the threat is immediate. If you make the subject feel an attraction to yourself, you can't command him indiscriminately, although he will be willing to listen to you (even if he disagrees). This power grants you a +4 bonus on any interaction checks you make involving the subject. Lasts for 1 hour per warlock level.
  • Catfall: You recover instantly from a fall and can absorb some damage from falling. You land on your feet no matter how far you fall, and you take damage as if the fall were 10 feet shorter than it actually is. This power affects you and anything you carry or hold (up to your maximum load). You can manifest this power with an instant thought, quickly enough to gain the benefit of the power while you fall. Manifesting the power is an immediate action. You can manifest this power even when it isn’t your turn.
  • Crystal Shard: Upon manifesting this power, you propel a razor-sharp crystal shard at your target. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack with the ray to deal damage to a target. The ray deals 1d6 points of piercing damage.
  • Daze: Target creature of 4 HD or less loses next action.
  • Deceleration: You warp space around an individual, hindering the subject’s ability to move. The subject's speed (in any movement mode it possesses) is halved. On it's turn, it only gets one action instead of the normal two.  Lasts for 1 minute per warlock level.
  • Dissipating Touch: Your mere touch can disperse the surface material of a foe or object, sending a tiny portion of it far away. This effect is disruptive; thus, your successful melee attack deals 1d6 points of damage. This attack ignores the effects of armor.
  • Distract: Target has -4 penalty on any check to notice the warlock (or his allies.)
  • Empathy: Warlock can perceive target's surface emotion.  Grants a +3 bonus to any check to sense motive, bluff, intimidate, or use persuasion or diplomacy.
  • Entangling Ectoplasm: You draw forth a glob of ectoplasmic goo from the Outer Darkness and immediately throw it as a ranged touch attack at any creature in range. On a successful hit, the subject is covered in goo and becomes entangled. The goo evaporates at the end of the power's duration.
  • Missive: Send a one way telepathic message to a subject.
  • Precognition: For 1 minute per warlock level, you can increase either your To Hit bonus by +1 or your AC by +1.  You can double the cost paid and increase both in the same action, however, if you wish.
  • Telekinesis: as the Knight power with the same name.
  • Telempathic Projection: For 1 minute per warlock level, you can alter the mood of a target, giving yourself a +3 bonus to influence or persuade him.
The following powers cost 6 hit points to use.
  • Biofeedback: Gain damage reduction 2/- for 1 minute per warlock level.
  • Cloud Mind: For 1 minute per warlock level, you make yourself completely undetectable to the subject by erasing all awareness of your presence from its mind. This power has the following effects: First, you are invisible and inaudible to the creature. It cannot pinpoint your location by any means. Second, the subject remains unaware of your actions, provided you do not make any attacks or cause any obvious or directly threatening changes in the subject’s environment. If you attack the subject creature, the effect ends.  If you take an action that creates a sustained and obvious change in the subject's environment—for example, attacking a creature aside from the subject or moving a large or attended object the subject can see—the subject immediately gains a new attempt to resist this power. An ally of the subject creature that is able to see or perceive you can use a move action to warn the subject and thereby grant it a new saving throw.
  • Control Sound: For up to 1 minute per warlock level, you shape and alter existing sounds. You can target one sound, such as a person speaking or singing, or a group of related sounds, such as the patter of many raindrops or the tramp of soldiers passing by. A sound as quiet as a snapping finger can be controlled. You can substitute any sound you have heard for the target sound. If you attempt to exactly duplicate the voice of a specific individual, or an inherently terrifying sound (such as a dragon's roar), you must succeed on a MIND + Subterfuge check with a +5 circumstance bonus opposed by the intended listener's same check check to avoid arousing suspicion. You can entirely muffle a noise or magnify a sound to such loudness that it drowns out all other conversation in the immediate area. In this way, you can provide yourself or any with a +4 circumstance bonus on attempts to avoid detection by listening.  Alternatively, you can use up the power in an instant. You do this by modulating a sound into a one-time destructive impetus that shatters objects of crystal, glass, ceramics, or porcelain (vials, bottles, flasks, jugs, mirrors, and so forth) in the area.
  • Mass Massive: Send a one way telepathic message to all subjects in a small area (about 50'x50')
  • Mental Disruption:  As Daze above, except that it impacts all creatures within 10 feet of you.
  • Mind Thrust: You instantly deliver a massive assault on the thought pathways of any one creature, dealing 1d10 points of damage to it.
  • Swarm of Crystals: Thousands of tiny crystal shards spray forth in an arc from your hand. These razorlike crystals slice everything in their path. Anyone caught in the cone takes 3d4 points of slashing damage.
  • Translate: By using limited telepathy, you can interpret the spoken words of any intelligent creature speaking to you, regardless of language.
The following powers cost 9 hit points to manifest.
  • Dispel Psionics: You can end any psionic power that is manifested, even if someone else manifested it.  If you are attempting to cancel the manifestation of a Knight or Warlock who is present, then you must succeed on a contested MND + Psionics check to successfully end it.
  • Energy Bolt: Deal 5d6 energy damage in 120-ft. line.
  • Energy Burst: Deal 5d6 energy damage in 40-ft. burst.
  • Share Pain: Anything that causes you to take hit point damage (except for the manifestation of psionic powers) splits the effect between you and a target, so that you each only take half damage. This is resisted by a MND + Psionics check, but if the target is willing, no check is necessary.
  • Sixth Sense: Even in total darkness, you can perceive all around you within 60 feet as if it were brightly lit. This also allows you to see targets hidden by psionic means, as with a cloud mind effect.
The following powers cost 12 hit points to manifest.
  • Correspond: Hold mental telepathic communication with another subject at any distance (although thoughts do not travel faster than speed of light.)
  • Death Urge: You plant a hidden death-urge impulse in the subject's unconscious. On the subject's next turn, it looks for the quickest method to end its life and attempts to do so. The subject takes no other action on its turn except attempting to harm itself.  If armed, the subject attacks itself as a full-round action. The attack automatically succeeds and deals damage as a critical hit (x2 damage). A subject close to an immediate and lethal hazard such as a cliff or a fire might hurl itself off the cliff or into the fire instead of striking itself with a weapon.  If the subject is unarmed and no hazard is nearby, the subject simply does nothing at all. 
  • Intellect Fortress: You encase yourself and your allies in a shimmering fortress of telekinetic force. All damage from powers and psionic abilities taken by subjects inside the area of the intellect fortress is halved. You can manifest this power instantly, quickly enough to gain its benefits in an emergency. Manifesting the power is an immediate action. You can use this power even when it’s not your turn.
  • Mindwipe: Target forgets everything that happened to it for a period of the warlock's choosing, up to 1 week.  The process also leaves the target extremely disoriented and confused; for 1 hour per warlock level, it suffers a -4 to any attack or check roll (basically, anything that he would roll a d20 for.)
The following powers cost 15 hit points to manifest.
  • Adapt Body: For 1 hour per warlock level, your body automatically adapts to hostile environments. You can adapt to underwater, extremely hot, extremely cold, poisonous gas or airless environments, allowing you to survive as if you were a creature native to that environment. You can breathe and move (though penalties to movement and attacks, if any for a particular environment, remain), and you take no damage simply from being in that environment. You need not specify what environment you are adapting to when you manifest this power; simply activate it, and your body will instantly adapt to any hostile environment as needed throughout the duration. You can somewhat adapt to extreme environmental features such as acid, lava, fire, and electricity. Any environmental feature that normally directly deals 1 or more dice of damage per round deals you only half the usual amount of damage.
  • Control Gravity: Without reference to mass and actual gravitic effect, you can create an environment that simulates the native gravity that you desire.  This will affect an area about the size of a house or Large sized spaceship.  For larger spaceships, the amount of manifestations necessary to effect the entire ship is multiplied by 2 for every step up from Large that the ship goes.  This only lasts 1 hour per warlock level, unless it is also followed by a manifestation of incarnate while it is still active.  For the most part, this power is one that is already embued on a spaceship, for instance, and not one that needs to be cast very often.  Warlocks can, however, temporarily supersede the effect of an earlier control gravity but when this new effect wears off, the previous one will remanifest again.
  • Incarnate: Can make certain powers permanent on an inanimate object; i.e., you can embue a bulk drive with the ability to plane shift or a spaceship with the ability to control gravity, for instance.  Another particularly popular use is small earpieces that have a permanent translate manifested on them.
  • Plane Shift: Allows target to pierce the membrane of the regular universe and enter the Outer Darkness.  This does not give the target the ability to survive in the Outer Darkness, so it is usually only cast on a spaceship that is sealed, and the contents therein.  This is the way in which spaceships make bulk jumps.  After traveling, the warlock will need to cast this again to shift back into regular space at a different location.  While warlocks can do this manually with a spaceship of up to Large size (two warlocks working in tandem can do so for a Huge spaceship, four for a Gargantuan ship and eight for a Colossal ship—legendary stories about psionic prodigies or large groups of warlocks moving entire planets into the Outer Darkness persist, but these are just legends) for the most part, this ability is put onto bulk drives using incarnate and the bulk drives actually do the work of traveling into and out of the Outer Darkness rather than a warlock.
  • Psychic Crush: Your will abruptly and brutally crushes the mental acumen of a target.  The target makes a MND + Psionics save.  If it succeeds, it takes 3d6 points of damage.  If it fails, it falls immediately to -1 hit points and is at risk for imminent death.

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