Tag Archives: game

Treasury of Games: Bad Decisions in Technology

This is the card list for the 330 additional cards on the theme of “technology” which will go into the first completed edition of Bad Decisions.

Stories:

1 Today’s inter-office email explains our shocking announcement of [crisis], and why this resulted when [fool] [bad decision].

2 Pardon our dust. [fool][bad decision], which is why you’re seeing [crisis].

3 Did you hear about [crisis] at that new tech company? They really [bad decision]! I blame [fool].

4 [fool] trusted that [crisis] would never happen, but then someone [bad decision].

5 I admit, I [bad decision]. I couldn’t deal with [crisis] caused by [fool]!

6 Nobody [bad decision] quite like [fool]. That caused the [crisis] in the industry today.

7 [fool] showed me the worst way to deal with [crisis] yesterday: they [bad decision]!

8 [crisis], then they [bad decision]. That’s [fool] in a nutshell.

9 If you [bad decision], you might be [fool]. That’s the leading cause of [crisis].

10 When [fool][bad decision], it made [crisis] that much worse.

11 It’s bad enough to have [crisis], but now [fool][bad decision].

12 Why would anyone have [bad decision]? [crisis] can’t be all. Not even [fool] would use that excuse.

13 Because they [bad decision], [fool] was unprepared for [crisis].

14 [crisis] caught us all by surprise, especially those who [bad decision], such as [fool]!

15 [fool] + [crisis] = [bad decision]

16 When [fool] ignored [crisis], we couldn’t avoid [bad decision].

17 [crisis] will be the end of [fool], all because they [bad decision].

18 To have [bad decision], [fool] must have an allergic reaction [crisis]

19 Only [fool] ever [bad decision] because of [crisis].

20 How did [crisis] mean someone [bad decision]? Ask [fool].

21 When we [bad decision], it led to [crisis]. [fool] led us in the wrong direction.

22 [fool] looked like the hero, until [crisis] revealed how the “hero” [bad decision]

23 [crisis] wasn’t bad enough. First [fool] played around, and then [bad decision]

24 This company [bad decision] under the leadership of [fool]; we can’t afford to ignore [crisis] at this point

25 Because [fool] once again [bad decision], we still have to deal with [crisis].

26 The leading cause of [crisis]? If you [bad decision], that would cause it. [fool] didn’t know, and paid for it.

27 [bad decision]? Don’t react to [crisis] the way [fool] did.

28 [fool] [bad decision]. Nobody considered [crisis] first, like they should have.

29 [crisis] came upon [fool] suddenly, which precipitated having [bad decision]

30 Someone who [bad decision] should expect [crisis]. [fool] didn’t. It happened anyway.

Fools:

1 The Majority Share-Holder Of 27 Major Companies

2 Your Tech-Impaired Boss

3 The Chair of the Senate Technology Committee

4 The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee

5 An Apple Fanboy

6 A Techno-Peasant

7 A Selfie-Obsessed Teenager

8 A Distracted Driver

9 That Rare Sociable Engineer

10 A Coffee-Deprived Programmer

11 The Underpaid Office Intern

12 Image-Obsessed Parents

13 the MPAA* *Motion Picture Association of America

14 the RIAA* *Recording Industry Association of America

15 the FDA* *American Food and Drug Administration

16 A Short-sighted Inventor

17 An Aggressive Gadget Sales-Person

18 An Ignorant Investor

19 Anti-Technology Protesters

20 A Fatigued High-Energy Physicist

21 An Irritated End-User

22 The CEO of Tumblr

23 An Anonymous Hacktivist

24 A Social Justice Warrior

25 A Would-Be Game Changer

26 An Obscene Online Chat User

27 The New Popular Online Social Network

28 A Russian Driver With a Dash-Cam

29 That Guy Who Live-Tweets Everything

30 Some Internet Pervert

31 A Straw-Man For Hire

32 The Flat Earth Society

33 A WebMD Hypochondriac

34 A Gullible Email Reader

35 An Artificial Celebrity

36 The “History” Channel* *Which primarily shows programs about aliens and pawn shops.

37 “Music” Television* *Which hosts programs about sex and drugs, but little to no rock and roll.

38 A Guy Who Wants To “Fight IRL”

39 A Cowardly Anonymous Bully

40 An E-Sports Fan Who Won’t Shut Up

41 An Irritable Open-Source Developer

42 A Professional Gamer

43 An Underpaid QA* Tester *Quality Assurance

44 An Overpaid IP* Attorney *Intellectual Property, such as Copyright and Trademark

45 The Default Video Game Protagonist* *Almost always a stereotypical white male

46 An Unemployed Graphic Artist

47 Someone Carrying a Suitcase Full of Money

48 A Suspicious Looking Character

49 An Embodied Racial Stereotype

50 A Foul-Mouthed Podcaster

51 An Identity Thief

52 A Fatigued Trucker

53 This Guy Who Won’t Shut Up About Trains

54 A Subway Train Conductor

55 A Robotic Fish

56 An Overbooked Computer Repair Service

57 An Unskilled Cable Installer

58 An Overworked Technician

59 A Clueless Co-Worker

60 NASA* *The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration

61 CERN* *Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire in French, or European Council for Nuclear Research in English

62 The Mayo Clinic

63 The FCC* *The United States Federal Communication Commission

64 IBM

65 Microsoft

66 Apple, Inc.

67 Sony

68 A Major Auto Manufacturer

69 The Aerospace Industry

70 The Military-Industrial Complex

71 Big Oil

72 An Unethical Blog-”Journalist”

73 A Sysadmin-Ninja

74 An Irate Tech-Support Caller

75 A Willfully Obstinate Jerk

76 The Same Person Twelve Times in a Row

77 A Scientist With Several Ph.D.s

78 An Unhelpful Help-desk

79 A Caller On Hold Long Enough To Hallucinate

80 A Different Company’s Customer

81 An Online Trash-Talker

82 A Total N00b* *new or unskilled player

83 An Elderly Web-Surfer

84 A Computer Science Teacher

85 A Concerned Parent

86 Teenage Mall Punks

87 A First-Year College Student

88 A Smothering Mother

89 An Amish Youth On a Rumspringa Journey

90 A Zoned-Out Phone Browser

91 A Coworker Straight Out Of Dilbert

92 The Company Social Media Coordinator

93 A Celebrity Hired For Publicity Reasons

94 An International Criminal Genius

95 The Idiot Responsible For This Mess

96 An Anti-Vax Blogger

97 A Slovenly & Inept Plumber

98 The CTO Of A Major Bank

99 Microsoft Bob™

100 An Uncreative Product Developer

Crises:

1 running out of RAM

2 memory leaks

3 the ultimate nightmare of customer service

4 horribly tangled cables

5 spilling soda on the motherboard

6 planned obsolescence* *objects designed to fail so you must buy new ones

7 new technology rendering older household electronics useless

8 being falsely red-flagged in an FBI database

9 the dreaded Blue Screen of Death

10 texting while driving

11 a website with many broken links

12 smartphones becoming the new digital nannies

13 an expensive laptop screen repair

14 finding child porn on a customer’s hard drive

15 illegal downloads hurting music sales

16 an “out of ink” printer error

17 the emergency cutoff switch failing

18 a cell phone battery dying in half an hour

19 rising oil prices

20 globalization creating a new babel* online *place where nobody understands each others’ language

21 software bugs hiding from debuggers

22 teens sexting with online predators

23 an easily-abusable software exploit

24 firearm lethality outpacing owners’ safety practices

25 new standards require replacing expensive equipment

26 driving cross country, non-stop

27 paying extra for airline “food” on a 15 hour flight

28 answering just one more email

29 the phone ringing non-stop

30 getting sucked into a wiki-dive* *when you just keep clicking one more informational link after another on a site such as wikipedia

31 another pseudo-documentary on “historical alien contact”

32 receiving online death threats

33 accidentally installing malware* *malicious software which takes away control of your computer

34 sending a nasty email to the whole company

35 glimpsing a co-worker’s search history

36 having engine trouble

37 losing an online game

38 cheating on a standardized test

39 nothing happening, when something should

40 a circuit overloading

41 a collapse in the price of bitcoin

42 a hoax about a “miracle cure”

43 an exploding poop plant* *anaerobic digester which produces methane power from human/animal waste

44 fire at the gas station

45 having to put out a literal fire in the company servers

46 a flood of error messages

47 motor oil getting everywhere* *yes, even THERE!

48 the LHC* actually triggering the formation of a black hole *Large Hadron Collider

49 television ads which are actually controlling minds

50 falling into the Kola borehole* *The deepest hole made by humans.

51 a random number generator seeming too predictable

52 the device not being plugged in

53 figuring out an 18% gratuity

54 forgetting the password

55 defective brakes failing on a slope

56 a GPS failing in the middle of nowhere

57 running out of gas

58 zero cell phone signal bars

59 unsafe radiation levels

60 a toxic chemical spill

61 not knowing how to google

62 a barrage of un-explained internet initialisms

63 an incestuous tangle of old AV cables

64 the inevitable robot uprising

65 the self-checkout register failing to ring up an item

66 a digital billboard showing a windows error message

67 a broken ATM* spewing out all its receipt tape *Automatic Teller Machine

68 the Google street view car catching a public urinator

69 Windows’ own restart process preventing a restart

70 an error message declaring failure to find an error message

71 a customer trying to scam tech support

72 the male-dominated STEM* field *Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

73 CAPS LOCK BEING TURNED ON BY MISTAKE

74 aggressive dogs bothering the installation tech

75 not knowing what “backup” means

76 accidentally setting the background image to an incriminating photo

77 a problem which could be easily solved with a quick web search

78 components being installed without removing all the packaging

79 not getting a connection for unknown reasons

80 the presence of chemicals in literally everything

81 battered tech support specialist syndrome

82 the latest stupid reality TV show

83 a realistic game being mistaken for reality

84 a long list of codes to memorize

85 shoved a credit card in the disk drive

86 knowing the solution due to past illegal acts

87 receiving parts for the wrong device

88 an improperly installed part

89 a breach in network security

90 misleading acronyms

91 mass firings and layoffs in the company

92 a diaper tweeting when it gets soiled

93 hazardous chemicals leaking into the public water supply

94 new computers smelling like cat pee

95 having to pay extra for that

96 missing a crucial piece of hardware

97 dumping physical memory

98 mixing up the blackwater and greywater pipes

99 heat conducting from the parts to the person’s skin

100 a complete loss of banking data

Bad Decisions:

1 promised to make thousands of microchips in a home garage

2 installed Linux on the microwave oven

3 discouraged invention in favor of profits

4 declined to fund the new product (which hits it big next year)

5 bought the newest thing just because it’s new

6 deleted an important email (and emptied the trash)

7 violated privacy rights with new brain-scanner devices

8 texted someone sitting in the same room

9 took a video for YouTube instead of helping

10 watched the GPS instead of the road

11 made changes to the live code without source protection* *a backup which stores previous versions of the code to restore to in case of failure.

12 allowed children unsupervised internet access

13 deleted an important email, then emptied the trash

14 didn’t try a simple web-search before complaining

15 handed a hard drive full of illegal pornography in at a store for malware cleaning

16 didn’t pressure test the boiler

17 assumed the new invention would never be misused

18 pre-sold millions in vaporware*, then went bankrupt *a product, especially software, which doesn’t actually exist.

19 sold the patent rights to the next big thing for chump change

20 tried to hold back technology with lawsuits

21 sold the bugs in the code as “features”

22 stayed up for the midnight gadget launch on a work night

23 allowed anonymous users to edit the official website

24 failed to keep equipment up to code

25 ignored dozens of customer complaints

26 played online games for 36 hours without moving

27 freaked out over un-answered text messages

28 texted 400 times in an hour

29 left a clingy voice-mail message

30 programmed while drunk, leaving cryptic comments in the code

31 kicked it until it worked (or broke worse)

32 watched porn videos at full volume on public transit

33 asked, “who the hell do you think I am!?”

34 ran away while police cruisers slowly rolled along behind

35 believed sketchy gadget advertisements

36 drove off with a motorcycle gang

37 looted and set fires during the blackout

38 failed to deliver on the hype

39 talked smack with no intention to back up the words

40 trusted an email from a “nigerian prince” requesting a bank account

41 convinced usenet the universe is actually a plutonium atom

42 launched an IPO* without an actual product *Initial Public Offering of stock shares

43 badmouthed the boss without hanging up the earpiece phone-call

44 put the cotton shirts in the hot water wash cycle

45 meddled with things humans should leave alone

46 played dice with the universe

47 put kerosene* in a gasoline engine *jet fuel

48 threw away the user manual without reading it

49 literally threw a wrench in the works

50 literally ground their gears

51 plugged it into the wrong socket

52 took a photo of the smartphone screen

53 printed phone app screenshots at the photo center

54 stuck a game DVD in an old Nintendo Entertainment System

55 took photos of the delicious restaurant meal until it got cold

56 relied on unproven systems

57 fudged the data for profit

58 put a screen door on the submarine

59 installed a jet engine on a compact car

60 expected the map to match the territory

61 ignored the project specifications

62 mistook HTML* for an STD* *HyperText Markup Language, which is not a Sexually Transmitted Disease

63 developed a prototype pizza, which was inedible

64 wouldn’t stop playing games on the tablet for the family christmas photo

65 named the wifi “hack this if you can”

66 trusted autocomplete while texting

67 used an obviously shopped photo for a profile picture

68 took a phone selfie while acting in a period re-enactment

69 asked Google how to Google

70 tried to insert a CD into an iPad

71 shot the computer in frustration

72 assumed a woman couldn’t be an engineer

73 damaged the device, then returned it, claiming it was faulty

74 tried to seduce the tech for a discount

75 downloaded a car

76 called the IT helpdesk for a blocked toilet

77 demanded their ISP* make them friends on a social network *Internet Service Provider

78 put the hard drive in the dishwasher to do disk cleanup

79 lied on the internet, assuming nobody would fact-check it

80 assumed the recorded message was incorrect

81 believed airplane mode was for talking to airplanes

82 clicked the wrong button repeatedly

83 asked a Ph.D. to perform basic adult tasks

84 set the browser home page to porn

85 lied about having sent emails and made phone calls

86 demanded a physical object be sent by fax

87 shouted at someone who wasn’t at fault

88 tried to pay the victim with his own stolen credit card

89 blamed foreign government hackers

90 did not read any of the clearly-marked signs

91 erased the hard drive with a sledgehammer

92 drove drunk and bragged about it

93 re-sold the same network capacity multiple times

94 ran an offensive attack ad

95 made an inappropriate joke, which went viral

96 said “it’s impossible.”

97 acted smart but didn’t fix anything

98 ignored smoke and sparks

99 refused to vaccinate the children

100 didn’t panic soon enough

Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project, which successfully funded, and an interactive website!

TREASURY OF GAMES: ALTERNATE ADVENTURING FIGHTER

While Wizards cast different spells, and Clerics are granted various miraculous powers, Fighters train in the skills of combat. There are three areas of training for a fighter:

– Dueling, which deals with single opponents. The passive bonus of Dueling adds to Defense.
– Duelists are also skilled in witty banter, womanizing, riding, athletic feats, attack rolls for fancy maneuvers, medium sized weapons, paired weapons, civilized gambling (baccarat, bridge, etc.), and fine cuisine (both identifying and preparing).

– Brawling, which deals with multiple opponents. The passive bonus of Brawling allows the fighter to attack multiple opponents of lower hit dice.
– Brawlers are skilled in grappling, unarmed fighting, improvised weapons, small weapons, drinking without passing out, bar bets, whoring, low gambling, and bad food that won’t kill you (identifying or preparing).

– Killing, which teaches how opponents may be slain – or incapacitated (it is necessary to know what kills to avoid doing it accidentally). The passive bonus of Killing adds to attack (and sometimes damage) rolls.
– Killers are skilled with all weapons, not only attacking with them but caring for and cleaning them. Killers know how to negotiate a price, and how to intimidate others. Killers aren’t necessarily stealthy, but they do know how to conceal their weapons about their person, even larger ones sometimes (though this is difficult, and requires props large enough to disguise the weapons).

Fighters learn one skill each level. At level 1, the fighter gets a passive bonus from the specialization tree he or she learned a skill from. Fighters above level 1 who have no skills outside of one tree gain the full passive bonus (equal to level), full level bonus in the skill checks of that specialization, plus extra depending on the specialization.
– Dueling adds the ability to taunt an opponent into single combat, requiring that opponent to make a save or else accept the challenge.
– Brawling adds defense when fighting multiple opponents.
– Killing adds its bonus to damage rolls as well as attack rolls.

Fighters with skills in multiple specializations get the full passive bonus and skill check bonus in the one with the most skills, half of them in the one with the second most, and none of the passive bonus (half level skill check bonus with at least one skill) in the other. None of the extra bonuses are gained, because versatility sacrifices the benefits of exclusive focus. Fighters who have learned a Master level skill in a specialization may gain its extra bonus even if they have skills in another specialization. The secondary and tertiary specializations remain unchanged in how much bonus they get.

Hit Die: d8

Fighter skills are organized into tiers of skill, based on how deep into a specialization the fighter must be to learn them:
Tier Skills Required
Novice 0
Student 2
Advanced 6
Master 14

//Skills per tier:
//Novice – 3
//Student – 5
//Advanced – 7
//Master – 2

Dueling Novice Skills

Parry-Riposte
– When an attack misses the fighter, he may make his attack on the enemy who missed him immediately, instead of waiting for his next combat turn; this uses his combat turn, and he may not do this if he has taken an action this round.

En Garde
– Against one opponent, the fighter is ready to defend; when that opponent would hit, the fighter may roll an opposed check against the attack roll. If the fighter beats the attacker’s roll, the attack is parried, and does not hit.

Feint
– Opponents of lower level cannot get a bonus to defense based on their level against this fighter.

Dueling Student Skills

Disarm
– When attempting to disarm an opponent, the fighter may dictate what happens to the disarmed weapon on a success – it can be taken in a free hand, flung to a particular place on the battlefield or to an ally with a free hand, etc. (Normally the GM would dictate what happens to a disarmed weapon)

Trip
– The fighter may attempt to trip an opponent with any weapon, not just weapons which are well suited to it.

Blind
– Instead of a damaging attack, the fighter can attack to get something in the opponent’s eyes (describe appropriately for setting; dust, a bedsheet, burning cinders, etc. all work equally well). The opponent will fight as if blind for 1d4 rounds (1d6 or 1d8 if the GM considers the blinding tool especially effective) if the attack hits.

Stun
– A swift jab with a blunt part of the weapon or with the fighter’s body knocks the opponent off balance in some way – whether leaving him breathless, senseless, or wobbling, the effect is the same. That opponent skips his next turn in combat due to recovering (instead of taking damage), if this special attack is successful.

Grapple
– The fighter has trained to use any melee weapon to damage an opponent in a grapple, not just specialized grappling aids.

Dueling Advanced Skills

High Ground
– When taking advantage of a bonus granted by terrain, this fighter is so adept that the bonus is doubled.

Leaping Attack
– When executing a leaping attack, the fighter’s weapon(s) is(are) considered one size larger for damage.

Strike and Move
– When successfully striking an opponent, the fighter may take an extra movement to a spot just outside that opponent’s reach.

Unexpected Angle
– This fighter has trained so that he charges from an oblique angle, and does not lose any defense for charging.

Inside the Guard
– If this fighter remains adjacent to an opponent after attacking in melee, then on the next turn her attack against that opponent ignores any skill or agility based defense bonuses.

Feign Weakness
– For a combat turn, the fighter drops his defense bonus from level. He gains a counterattack against any opponents who attack him while he uses this stance, which does not require his action. (if used with parry-riposte, it IS possible to counterattack the same enemy twice; it IS possible to both Feign Weakness and be En Garde against the same opponent – just remember that Feign Weakness applies to all opponents, while En Garde applies to only one)

Instant Readiness
– It does not take this fighter an action to read her weapons, and she loses no defense against surprise attacks.

Dueling Master Skills

Minimum Effort
– This master duelist suffers no defense penalty for engaging in strenuous or attention-focusing tasks like lifting heavy objects or engaging in delicate negotiations. These tasks are also not penalized for defending against attacks.

Coup de Gras
– If the opponent is suffering any kind of penalty to defense, this master duelist may exploit it; foregoing any damage, attacks against such opponents may cause them to die on a failed save.

Brawling Novice Skills

Skull Crack
– Skulls sound like hollow coconuts when cracked together. That discovery is inherent in discovering this skill: how to grapple two opponents at once.

Shoulder Throw
– Also known as a hip check, hard shove, etc. The skill of moving an opponent, violently. When voluntarily ending a grapple, this fighter can throw an opponent (level + strength bonus) meters in a straight line. Any attack may forego damage to push the opponent half that far.

Reverse Strike
– In a crowd, there are always enemies behind you. The fighter with this skill has tricks to counter them, and suffers no penalties to attacking or defending for being flanked.

Brawling Student Skills

Dual Strike
– So many enemies, so little time! This fighter has such experience fighting groups that any time he attacks one enemy in melee, he may attack a second one as well. This doubles each attack made with the passive brawling bonus.

Send Them On
– When an opponent misses her, this fighter may throw that opponent as if with Shoulder Throw.

Borrowed Weapons
– When voluntarily ending a grapple, this fighter may steal an opponent’s weapon with any free hand.

Crowd Chaos
– For each combatant – ally or enemy – adjacent to him, this fighter gains +1 defense.

Single Out
– Some opponents are more important than others; this skill allows a fighter to forego damage to maneuver an opponent into a corner or other disadvantageous position – and, most importantly, a position where no other combatant can assist him without going through the fighter.

Brawling Advanced Skills

Triple Strike
– This refinement of brawling allows a fighter to strike simultaneously with every limb she isn’t standing on. This fighter must first know Dual Strike; upon learning Triple Strike, the number of opponents hit at once in melee becomes three instead of two.

Keep Distance
– Some crowds, you don’t want to mingle with. Using dirty tricks and thrown detritus, the fighter may attack – foregoing damage – against the highest defense in a crowd adjacent to him; on hit, a gap of (level) meters is opened between the fighter and the nearest enemy, putting the fighter in a safe spot. If enemies would be forced to move to open this distance, they may be put in unsafe spots.

Double Shot
– One arrow or javelin just won’t do when there’s an onrushing mob, so this fighter has learned to launch multiples. She may attack two enemies at once with ranged weapons; this applies to each attack made with the brawling passive as well, just as with Dual Strike.

Tangle
– The brawler knows that multiple foes can hinder each other. Upon successfully tripping one foe, this fighter may immediately try to trip any foes adjacent to that enemy.

Coming Through
– Enemies may not block this fighter’s movement without grappling or tripping him.

Crashing Charge
– When charging and striking more than one enemy, treat weapon damage as if one size larger.

Team Up
– This fighter gets an extra +2 to hit and +1 to damage when an ally is flanking the target of her attack.

Brawling Master Skills

Whirlwind Strike
– This master, trained in Triple Strike, has reached apotheosis; each attack made in melee strikes all enemies in reach. This does mean that the master may exploit the defensive weaknesses of lesser foes crowding him to make multiple attacks which also hit an equal or greater foe – a feat which Dual and Triple strike did not allow.

Volley
– This master, trained in Dual Shot, has learned that even the most skilled defender has little chance against an arrow from afar. The brawling passive applies to ranged attacks against enemies of any hit dice for this fighter.

Killing Novice Skills

Steady Hand
– This represents the training to consistently strike the same spot over and over. A fighter with this training halves penalties for called shots.

Strike Deep
– All armor can be pierced, from the right angle, with the right pressure. This training in penetration allows the fighter to halve the (non-magical) defense benefit of enemy armor.

Reckless Attack
– Sometimes there is advantage in foregoing caution. This fighter can accept up to his level in penalty to defense in return for the same amount of bonus to damage.

Killing Student Skills

Painful Blows
– Striking pressure points for pain instead of trying to kill, this fighter can forego rolling damage with an attack to instead inflict a -2 penalty to actions and defense on the opponent struck.

Exploit Opening
– For every -1 penalty to defense an opponent is suffering, this fighter gets +1 damage against that opponent.

Bleeding Wound
– When rolling damage, instead of inflicting all of it at once, the fighter may opt for half damage and a bleeding wound. The wound will bleed for 2 damage each turn, for a number of turns equal to the amount of damage actually dealt.

Infected Wound
– When striking an injured enemy, the fighter knows where to strike to cause internal injuries to infect each other. This sort of attack deals half damage, but forces the opponent to save; failed saves result in sepsis, gangrene, or other infection appropriate to the wound location.

Poisoned Weapon
– There are few methods more sure to kill than lacing a weapon with poison. This fighter knows how to do so without risking herself. Any hit from a poisoned weapon requires a save against the poison’s effects.

Killing Advanced Skills

Heart Pierce
– With a called shot, using a stabbing or cutting weapon, the fighter may instantly kill any creature with a heart, if the attack does damage. The creature may save, and live on a success.

Heart Stop
– With a blunt weapon, this fighter may cause a creature with a heart to go into a coma if an attack to the torso does damage. The creature may save to retain consciousness.

Concuss
– With a blunt attack to the head, this fighter may stun any target with a brain if the attack does damage.

Brain Pierce
– Attacking the head with a sharp weapon, this training allows a fighter to kill the target with any damage on a failed save if the target has a brain.

Skull Crush
– If the target has a brain, then a successful attack to the head with a blunt weapon and this skill allows a permanent -2 to all actions to be imposed if damage is dealt. This penalty may be stacked up with further crushing.

Lung Pierce
– If the enemy needs to breathe, then by attacking the torso with a sharp weapon and dealing any damage, the fighter may cause it to take 1 damage per round until it dies or gets medical treatment.

Throat Crush
– On a target which needs to breathe, this fighter may cause it to begin to suffocate with any damaging attack to the throat. The suffocation will continue until it dies or receives medical treatment.

Killing Master Skills

Paralysis
– This attack strikes several nerve clusters, causing intense pain. The total penalty is -10 (halved by Steady Hand) to strike these nerve clusters with one attack. This attack causes no damage, but instead causes total paralysis in the enemy. After 1d4 rounds, the enemy may attempt a save to escape the paralysis, with each failed save extending it by 1d4 rounds. If the fighter re-applies the nerve strikes (requiring no roll against a paralyzed target), then the save timer is reset.

Instant Death
– Any damaging attack from this fighter may be fatal. What seems a slight scratch might have avoided nerves, but opened an artery. An opponent who receives damage from any attack made by this master must save or die, in addition to any other saves provoked by the attack.

Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project live now!

Treasury of Games: Alternate adventuring cleric.

This is a mostly edition-agnostic alternative cleric for D&D.

Adventuring Clerics (priests, holy men, etc.) gain in the power and confidence of Heaven as they level up. One power may be selected per level (including first), but the powers available are restricted based on what level was gained.

Level – Title – Meaning
1-5 – Initiate – The cleric has just begun in the faith.
6-10 – Acolyte – The mysteries of faith begin to unfold.
11-15 – Ordained – Ordained clerics learn by teaching.
16-20 – Prophet/Mystic – The cleric speaks with God directly.

Each day, the cleric may invoke divine blessing when using these powers once per level. Initiate powers have a constant effect and a blessed effect. Acolyte powers also have a Righteous effect, which activates every time the cleric does a certain kind of good deed. Ordained powers also have a Minimum Standard; if the cleric takes certain kinds of evil actions, the power ceases functioning (including the constant ability) for the rest of the day. Prophetic powers have all this, and also Divine Fiat; a special extra power which only comes into play when the GM determines that it is God’s will.

Any time a cleric power references giving extra experience points, an Initiate power will give 1xp, an Acolyte power 2xp, 3xp for Ordained, and 4xp for Prophetic.

Hit Die: d6

Initiate Powers

1 Heal
Always: By laying hands on someone and praying with them for one minute, the subject is healed 1hp/level.
Blessed: The healing is 1d6/level, and takes only one turn in combat.

2 Repel the Unclean
Always: The cleric gains +(level) to Defense against demons, undead, and other beings tied to evil powers.
Blessed: All inherently evil creatures within the cleric’s line of sight must save or flee; those which save receive -(half level) on attack rolls agains the cleric’s allies (including the cleric).

3 Inspire
Always: Spending his action giving words of encouragement, the cleric grants half his level as a bonus to an ally’s d20 roll.
Blessed: Praying for guidance in his heart, the cleric is answered with a reinforcement of his ally’s morale; one chosen ally may re-roll a d20 check which just failed, and use the new result if it is better.

4 Provide
Always: The cleric and her allies never need worry about supplies of food and water. Divine providence will ensure clean and nutritious supplies.
Blessed: Food and water is provided for a greater number of people – up to 20/level.

5 Purify
Always: The cleric is immune to non-magical poisons and diseases.
Blessed: By laying on hands and praying for one minute, the cleric purges any poisons or diseases from an ally, including magical ones.

6 Smite
Always: Inherently evil enemies take double damage from the cleric’s attacks.
Blessed: The cleric indicates a foe, cursing it before God. The foe is blasted from the heavens for 1d6/level damage, unless it makes its save. Inherently evil creatures may only save for half damage.

7 Guidance
Always: The cleric never loses track of where she is in relation to known places.
Blessed: Asking a question of God, the cleric is answered yes or no, truthfully (though not always helpfully).

8 Endurance
Always: The cleric gains 1 bonus HP per level, retroactively as well as from gaining this power forwards.
Blessed: The cleric and his allies are refreshed as if they had a full night’s rest. This even restores a magic user’s mystical power.

9 Strength
Always: The cleric’s Strength gains 2 points permanently on learning this power.
Blessed: The cleric grants an ally sufficient Strength to complete any one task requiring it; if the task is combat, the ally’s Strength becomes 18 or is raised by 2, whichever is greater, for the rest of the fight.

10 Lighted Path
Always: The cleric may see in the dark, and may glow softy at will to allow allies to see.
Blessed: The cleric and her allies may walk safely across an unstable surface such as water or thin ice, or a tightrope. Each blessed use of this power allows transit only one way. It ends the next time the cleric and her allies step on a stable surface.

11 Righteousness
Always: The cleric may remain un-tempted by earthly pleasures. Nobody gains a bonus to a non-magical roll to seduce, bribe, or otherwise tempt him.
Blessed: With a few words of wisdom and a blessing, the cleric grants one of his allies this temptation-resisting righteousness.

12 Charity
Always: The kindness the cleric sows reaps threefold kindnesses in return. She receives double her level bonus to any attempt to persuade someone she has recently materially helped to help her in some way, until that person has done her three favors of equal expense (or one of greater expense).
Blessed: If someone refuses to return her kindness, the cleric may give up any bonus to persuade that person and instead experience the blessing of kindness un-looked-for. Someone else who happens into the cleric’s life will provide something which helps her with the needs she was trying to meet.

13 Peace
Always: If the cleric and his allies do not initiate violence, then it requires a successful save against this power to initiate violence against them.
Blessed: Once violence has broken out, the cleric may invoke this blessing to force it to stop. Those who wish to continue fighting must save against this effect to do so, but those who do not save against it will try to restrain their allies.

14 Patience
Always: Any mind-affecting saving throws the cleric makes always receive twice her level bonus, due to her conviction that all troubles are temporary.
Blessed: One ally of the cleric’s choice may be exhorted to patience (including exhorting herself), granting immunity to mind affecting magic until the ally falls asleep or otherwise loses consciousness.

15 Unfailing
Always: The cleric never lets others down. When attempting any action requiring a d20 check on another person’s behalf, any failure may be re-rolled once. The failure may be re-rolled a second time if necessary, if the action is to the benefit of the cleric’s enemies, despite their crimes against him.
Blessed: Praying for blessing, the cleric may grant an ally a bonus of his (the cleric’s) level on one d20 check. An enemy may be caused to automatically succeed at such a check by this blessing.

Acolyte Powers

1 Taming the Tongue
Always: The cleric adds her wisdom bonus to any charisma check to persuade others, due to her honesty and clean, plain speech.
Blessed: Invoked as a blessing, this power prevents anyone who fails a save against it from lying to the cleric. This lasts the whole day.
Lesson: Whenever she tells an uncomfortable truth which needs to be told, or speaks kindly when it is tempting to be harsh, this power’s blessing may be invoked without spending one of the day’s blessings. If it is already in effect, then the target number for the saving throw against it increases by 1 for the rest of the day.

2 Love and Chastity
Always: Because of his pure heart, the cleric enjoys +2 to Strength and Constitution.
Blessed: A loving union may be blessed so that a child (or children) definitely will, or will not, result – according to the needs of the lovers.
Lesson: Each time the cleric passes up the opportunity for unwholesome sexual pleasures, or engages in faithful and loving sex with a life-long lover, he gains an additional blessing for the day.

3 Giving Up Greed
Always: Because she is sustained by faith, the cleric no longer needs to eat or drink. She may still do so for enjoyment.
Blessed: The cleric may accomplish any one task which would normally require a substantial sum of money, such as buying passage for a long trip, purchasing a house or other expensive property, etc. Either the money becomes available just in time, or the owner of the item/provider of the service decides to give it to the cleric for free.
Lesson: If she lives in moderation, taking no extravagant luxuries for herself, the cleric may extend her ability to go without food and drink to anyone who lives with her.

4 Discovering Contentment
Always: Each time the cleric fails a d20 roll, he stores one automatic success for a later d20 roll which he could possibly succeed at; up to his level in successes may be stored this way.
Blessed: One of the cleric’s stored successes may be granted to another person whom he encourages as the action is being taken.
Lesson: Each time the cleric voluntarily passes up a chance to improve his own lot, allowing someone else to take the chance instead, he stores a success for this power as if he had failed a d20 roll.

5 Rising Above Despair
Always: The cleric radiates hope and joy, giving everybody within her line of sight (even enemies, unless they are inherently evil creatures; also including herself) a bonus to save against magical effects (but not cleric powers) equal to her level.
Blessed: Removes a curse or other harmful magic from an individual the cleric lays her hands on and prays for, over the course of one hour.
Lesson: When she gives hope to someone who had lost it through her actions, the cleric gains extra experience points above and beyond the usual bonus for acting in accordance with her class. [exact amount TBD with experience rules, pending]

6 Love Replacing Anger
Always: The cleric takes 1 less damage per level, each time he would be hurt.
Blessed: Prevent all damage by an event (such as an attack, or a turn of touching fire) the cleric witnesses, by a miraculous occurrence.
Lesson: If the blessing of this power is used to save an enemy, that enemy is affected as though by the Magic User spell Mystic Charm (single target effect of full cast), unless a successful save negates this.

7 Justice, Not Vengeance
Always: The cleric does +1 damage/level with any attack she makes.
Blessed: The cleric may look into her enemies’ hearts and know if the crimes she believes they committed were truly theirs. This reveals the hidden nature of any concealed inherently evil creatures.
Lesson: When the cleric forgives someone who actually intentionally wronged her, she may heal herself and that person of all HP damage and associated penalties less severe than amputation. She must heal both; this is a sign of the forgiveness.

8 Acts of Mercy
Always: The cleric may speak and understand the language of anyone he is actively helping.
Blessed: A deadly enemy who has defeated the cleric and/or his allies must spare their lives when this blessing is invoked; a saving throw is possible, but if it is made, then the cleric and his allies are healed of all HP damage and wounds less severe than amputation.
Lesson: When the cleric spares a defeated enemy’s life, or convinces an ally to do so, not only must that enemy honor its surrender (no save), but forever afterwards the cleric and all his allies who were present for the occasion get +2 to peacefully persuade that enemy, so long as they do not initiate hostilities. If they are then attacked, it is possible to keep stacking this bonus; but the bonus goes away for any person who starts a fight with that enemy.

9 Speaking the Word
Always: When the cleric speaks the truth, it is obvious; none may honestly disbelieve her when she speaks without falsehood. They may know her to be mistaken, but never take her for a liar.
Blessed: Mediating between Heaven and Earth, the cleric may gain heavenly messages to pass on. The will of God determines these messages, not that of the cleric; the answers which the cleric and the allies she mediates for seek may not be what they need most. Messages from Heaven gained by this spell are always helpful, but not always easy.
Lesson: Any time she shares dire news gained from this spell, and helps the recipient prepare for it, the cleric will gain access to an additional blessing she normally does not have until the prophecy comes to pass.

10 Humble Piety
Always: By divine providence rather than his own merit, the cleric is unable to critically fail on d20 rolls.
Blessed: Putting another before himself, the cleric moves his action to the bottom of the initiative order in combat, moving another person’s to the top.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric refuses to take credit or compensation for his good deeds, he stores up a chance to use this power’s blessing without moving his own initiative count down.

11 Divine Humor
Always: Seeing the humor inherent in misfortune often lessens it. The cleric may negate up to her level in penalties do any combination of d20 rolls each combat turn.
Blessed: Irony is said to be one of the highest forms of humor; at the cleric’s request, something terrible happens at the best possible time (or, depending on perspective, something excellent happens at the worst possible time. The coincidences caused by this blessing are within the bounds of possibility under the mundane course of events, but highly unlikely – such as a sword breaking on an opponent’s parry, but just right so that the broken part flies off and strikes the throat of the far more dangerous evil mage.
Lesson: When the cleric is able to laugh at her own misfortune, she may call upon this blessing to find a silver lining in the dark clouds; the misfortune turns out to have good aspects which at least equal the bad. (This never negates the bad, only counterbalances it.)

12 Holy Mission
Always: The cleric cannot be delayed in his good works; nothing physical nor magical can impede his movement. Difficult terrain, an amputated foot, or a magical spell of slowness – none will deter him from moving (though ill effects might be applied for doing so, such as bleeding from the wounded limb). If an impediment makes progress impossible, such as a sheer cliff, then this effect does not help.
Blessed: Seeming impossible obstacles to travel will be removed by this blessing, in what seems a miraculous coincidence. These coincidences may seem dangerous at the time, but will never harm the cleric or his allies. In the example of a sheer clif face blocking the cleric’s journey, a rockslide could occur to create a usable path – which, despite appearances, would be stable.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric pursues his mission for God – which may have been imparted by the Speaking the Word blessing or other divine contact, or could be the more general clerical mission of ministering to the needs of body and soul for others – at the cost of some potential personal gain, he may invoke this blessing to make the missed opportunity present itself as still possible, and possible to share with others. For example, if the cleric missed the opportunity to romance his sweetheart because he was tending the sick and poor when she called at his home, this lesson could cause her to hear about where he is and nudge her to decide to join him in his work.

13 Cast Out the Unclean
Always: The cleric, and her allies within line of sight, reroll any failed saves against the powers of inherently evil creatures.
Blessed: All inherently evil creatures who behold the cleric are paralyzed by fear of the holy power suffusing her. If within line of sight and wishing to continue acting without beholding her must voluntarily act under blindness penalties, regardless of any special senses, to avoid beholding the divine glory.
Lesson: When the cleric shuns a friend who is behaving in an unacceptable manner, she grants that person the ability to resist temptation as though benefiting from the always-on effect of the Righteousness Initiate power.

14 Rebuke for the Wise
Always: Heroes traveling with an Acolyte soon learn to listen to his advice. Allies gain the cleric’s level as a bonus to d20 rolls so long as they have not refused his ethical or moral advice that day.
Blessed: Choosing one target, the cleric sets up a condition which lasts for the rest of the day – if a certain evil act is performed, that target will take three times the cleric’s level points of damage. There is no save allowed, because the target chose its fate.
Lesson: An ally who has comitted an evil act against the cleric’s advice may be chastised verbally; if the ally repents of and makes an effort to amend the evil deed, then that ally gains experience points. This may also be applied if the act in question was considered, but avoided based on the cleric’s advice.

15 Seek Wisdom
Always: Whenever there is an unanswered question of facts, the cleric may pray for a revelation. On a successful d20 check based on Wisdom, the necessary information will be revealed somehow within the day. This check may be attempted only once for any given question, and the GM may automatically fail thinly veiled variations; if it is God’s will to keep the truth hidden for now, then so it shall be.
Blessed: instead of being revealed during the following day through come miraculous coincidence, the knowledge is imparted directly to the cleric’s mind instantly in a divine vision. This also automatically makes the check successful.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric and her allies are able to overcome a major obstacle of knowledge (whether or not this power was used), all gain extra experience points. Extra bonus if there was an alternative to fight or steal or some other morally less attractive option, which was avoided by gaining knowledge.

Ordained Cleric Powers

1 Sign of Jonah
Always: Any evil creature, or person who the cleric witnesses perfoming evil acts, who the cleric can see may be inflicted with supernatural fear on a failed save. This takes one turn per creature in combat.
Blessed: Simultaneously inflict fear on all evil enemies in line of sight as one action. No save versus the blessed power.
Lesson: While fighting alongside one or more former enemies who have been converted away from evil and become allies, the cleric also makes all allies immune to fear when using this power’s blessing.
Ethics: If the cleric ever kills someone (excluding creatures of inherently evil types) without giving that person a chance to repent, he loses a level, and this power.

2 Lazarus is Sleeping
Always: The cleric is immune to death by disease, poison, or spells causing instant death. She will never succumb to her wounds, and must be finished off by an enemy’s action.
Blessed: The benefits of this power are extended to one of the cleric’s allies for the rest of the day.
Lesson: When an ally dies in service of a holy cause (such as defending the innocent), this blessing may be used to restore that ally to life.
Ethics: If the cleric attempts to revive an ally who is undeserving, a demon will instead possess the dead body, which will attack the cleric and her allies as punishment.

3 Touching His Robe
Always: Anyone who takes an action to touch the cleric’s vestments and pray will be healed as if by the Initiate power Heal’s blessed effect. It is possible to withhold this effect, but note the Ethics of this power.
Blessed: When the cleric takes a combat turn to pray for healing over someone, that person is fully healed of all wounds except death.
Lesson: Every time the cleric heals someone with this power, he learns that person’s name, what he or she is currently thinking, and the secret buried deepest in his or her heart.
Ethics: This power requires the cleric to have the Initiate power Heal. If the cleric ever refuses to use his healing abilities when asked, he loses them until he agrees to heal the person he refused. If that person dies, then the cleric loses a level, and this power.

4 Pick up Your Cross
Always: The cleric can carry up to double the maximum encumbrance her attributes would suggest, and will never tire any faster for doing so.
Blessed: The cleric and all allies who spend a few minutes praying with her are refreshed, both mentally and physically. For the next day they will need no food or sleep, and will be mentally at their best no matter what horrors they have faced or will encounter. This also includes a +2 bonus to all attributes.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric voluntarily accepts a hardship on behalf of another, she gains her level as an extra bonus to any rolls required to make it through the hardship. If she accepts death on behalf of another, she may not be raised, but the person or people for whom she died will be blessed so that they cannot be killed, lasting until they next reach a safe place.
Ethics: If the cleric ever tries to shirk a duty which is rightfully hers, she loses use of this power and tires twice as quickly from all activities until she completes the duty and makes up for any loss incurred because of her tardiness in her duty.

5 Transfiguration
Always: Creatures of evil cannot bear to look upon the cleric. The blessed effect of Cast Out the Unclean is always on instead of requiring a blessing.
Blessed: The cleric’s body and equipment become holy as those of an angel. His attacks deal double damage to inherently evil creatures, and he adds his level to his defense bonus and saving throws against such fiends. This lasts until there are no evil creatures remaining in his presence.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric or one of his allies in his line of sight slays an inherently evil creature, restore one of the cleric’s used blessings for the day.
Ethics: This power requires the cleric to have both the Repel the Unclean and Cast Out the Unclean powers. If the cleric ever allows an inherently evil being to live by choice, he loses this power until he hunts that being down and destroys it.

6 No One Shall Know
Always: Those with evil intentions cannot track the cleric, and will not find information about her whereabouts when questioning witnesses. Spells of scrying and divination cast with evil intentions also fail to find her.
Blessed: All enemies in the cleric’s line of sight are struck blind unless they make a saving throw. Inherenly evil creatures get no save.
Lesson: Always preparing for eternity, when the cleric gains experience for class-appropriate heroic deeds, the amount is increased.
Ethics: If the cleric compromises on an important moral issue, she is struck blind until she takes a firm stand on that issue instead.

7 Faith, Hope and Love
Always: The cleric and his allies are filled with hope and love because of his faith, leaving no room for the manipulations of others. All mind-affecting magic fails, and mental trauma fails to harm.
Blessed: Cures any insanity, curse, or detrimental magic affecting someone for whom the cleric prays (whether that person is present or not when the prayer occurs, the cleric must simply know the person is afflicted).
Lesson: When the cleric gives of his own resources (enough to make an impact on them) to help a stranger or an enemy, he gains the attention of an angel. This angel (who is at least twice the cleric’s HD) will use one of its powers to help the cleric out at some later time, usually to prevent the cleric or one of his allies from coming to serious harm or dying. The cleric may have multiple favors from angels stored up like this, up to his level.
Ethics: Requires the Patience initiate power. Any hurtful word the cleric speaks against another person in anger inflicts one HP damage on him. Anger at evil actions is allowable, but saying unkind things about the person responsible is not – unless the person responsible is an inherently evil creature, in which case these restrictions do not apply.

8 Gideon’s Miracle
Always: The cleric can see even in complete darkness, and she adds her level to save against illusions.
Blessed: All allies within the cleric’s line of sight are granted this power’s constant effect for the rest of the day.
Lesson: While she sees a long-term holy mission to its end, the cleric may not be ambushed or caught off guard.
Ethics: This power requires both the Guidance and Speaking the Word powers. If she doubts her mission, even after receiving divine messages through the prerequisite powers, the cleric loses ALL class abilities until she repents and takes up the mission once more.

9 March of Joshua
Always: The cleric has a supernatural ability to lead and inspire. Any time a roll would be called for to inspire or gain the trust or cooperation of loyal soldiers, the cleric instead automatically succeeds.
Blessed: Praying and playing worshipful music for an hour, the cleric may destroy an entire building and everything and everyone in it. This may affect even a fortress.
Lesson: When an enemy commits a blasphemy or unforgivable sin, the cleric may use this blessing to instantly cause that enemy to die on a failed save.
Ethics: This power requires the Initiate power Smite. If the cleric fails to chastise an ally who commits an evil action, he loses a level, and this power.

10 Curse of Cain
Always: The cleric’s attacks do double damage (whether physical or spell), but may never slay an enemy of a race which is not inherently evil.
Blessed: In the moment it would be slain, a creature of an inherently evil race is instead redeemed, turning it into a mortal of an appropriate race according to its original race. For example, orcs would become elves, goblins would become dwarves, and demons would become humans. Undead are a special case – in the case of bodies animated by magic, this blessing cannot affect them. In the case of unquiet spirits, they are sent on to the afterlife in peace.
Lesson: When the cleric uncovers a crime done in secret, she may force the criminal to confess on a failed save.
Ethics: The cleric must take responsibility for investigating wrongs she hears of – or at least making sure a responsible authority is doing so, or else she will suffer double damage from all attacks until she follows up on the investigations.

Prophetic Cleric Powers
Prophetic powers are granted by archangels. If one archangel abandons a cleric, all of them do; this reduces the cleric’s level back to 15 and removes all prophetic powers.

1 Gabriel
Messenger, explains God’s will
Always: The cleric gets Guidance automatically on all questions, and any time he prays, he may speak with Gabriel directly as through the blessing of Speaking the Word.
Blessed: Through a blessing, Gabriel directly imparts a divine message to someone of the cleric’s choosing. It is impossible to disbelieve this message, though it is possible to deny it. Those who choose to deny the message will automatically fail any action they take which opposes its dictates.
Lesson: Gabriel teaches humble listening. Whenever one of the cleric’s allies follows through with a divine mission shared by the cleric, Gabriel grants that ally experience points.
Ethics: Gabriel watches over only clerics who bear Gideon’s Miracle. Gabriel requires his charges to boldly speak the Word of God to all – including creatures of pure evil. If his charges falter in this, he will abandon them.
Divine Intervention: Gabriel will, when there is an important divine message to be shared, appear to proclaim it. When Gabriel appears, witnesses will be convicted utterly of his message. Gabriel may even convert creatures of inherent evil into mortal races, and convince them to join the side of good.

2 Michael
Warrior, leads God’s armies
Always: The cleric gains a bonus to all attacks, as if she were a fighter.
Blessed: One attack made by the cleric or one of her allies automatically hits.
Lesson: The cleric and any of her allies may elect to take an attack intended for an ally, before the attack is rolled. If this is done, the attack automatically hits the new target, for minimum possible damage.
Ethics: Michael never retreats from battle, and holds her charges to the same standard. She abandons anyone who retreats or otherwise acts from cowardice rather than courage in God.
Divine Intervention: Michael may show up personally on the battlefield from time to time, or send one of the angelic hosts. Michael is a 25-HD archangel with numerous holy powers and a flaming sword which instantly slays whatever it hits. His angelic hosts consist of 200 15-HD angels, each wielding a shining weapon which deals 1d10 + 5 damage. This intervention is especially likely against overwhelming odds of inherently evil creatures.

3 Raphael
Healer, brings God’s mercy
Always: Allies in the cleric’s line of sight heal his level in HP each combat turn. Amputated body parts re-grow after HP are full, as if they had a value of 10% of the person’s HP. Lost attribute points re-grow as if worth 10 HP apiece. While in the cleric’s line of sight, no disease may overwhelm and no poison may kill, all will eventually be recovered if the cleric continues watching.
Blessed: All disease and wounds and poison and curses and harmful magic is purged from the cleric’s line of sight.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric shows mercy to an enemy, that enemy must make a successful save to again attempt an evil act. Once a successful save is made, this effect ends – but failed saves prevent the evil action (which may not be attempted again), and also continue the effect so that the next such act considered prompts another save, and so on.
Ethics: Raphael only guards bearers of the powers Touching His Robes and Curse of Cain. Raphael does not condone murder. If one of his charges allows an ally to kill any person of a non-inherently-evil race, Raphael abandons him.
Divine Intervention: Raphael will intervene to prevent the death of his charge unless it is God’s will that he die. No amount of damage may kill the cleric, nor any hazard of magic or what may come. Only when God decides it may the cleric die.

4 Azrael
Angel of Death, destroys the wicked
Always: Creatures of inherently evil races must save each turn they are in the line of sight of a cleric guarded by Azrael; on a failed save, they take 1d6/level damage.
Blessed: With this blessing, the cleric may kill any number of plants or nonsentient beasts. This may blight a forest, ruin a crop, slay livestock or war animals, or whatever the situation calls for.
Lesson: If an enemy is given a chance to repent, and refuses, the cleric may call upon Azrael to transform that enemy into an appropriate inherently evil race.
Ethics: Only takes clerics blessed with the March of Joshua as her charges. If any innocent person should die as a result of the blessing granted by Azrael, she leaves the side of the cleric who invoked that blessing. Causing hardship to a land is one thing, but killing the innocent through starvation is horrible and detestable.
Divine Intervention: When an enemy is truly evil, but beyond the cleric’s reach or that of her allies even with all the miracles and powers at their disposal, Azrael will occasionally take matters into her own hands – slaying the tyrant, and any of his or her most evil followers.

5 Uriel
Protector, saves the innocent
Always: The cleric may prevent his choice of 10 damage per level per round. He chooses the damage which is negated as it would happen, after relevant rolls are made.
Blessed: The cleric may choose one person to become immune to damage for the remainder of a dangerous encounter (such as combat) – that is, until the danger has passed and the target has had a chance to rest.
Lesson: Whenever the cleric and her allies save one or more innocent lives, Uriel gives them a significant XP bonus.
Ethics: Uriel will no longer guard a cleric who intentionally harms, or allows to come to harm through inaction, any person of a non-inherently-evil race who has not just sinned against the cleric or his allies.
Divine Intervention: Uriel guards his charges from harm in extreme cases. If untold destruction would be wrought, and no mortal hand could stop it, Uriel may intervene on behalf of one of his charges to prevent the catastrophe.

6 Raguel
Marshall, delivers God’s justice
Always: The cleric’s words may bind. Whatever she delcares bound is bound. This may seal any opning (such as a door or cave mouth or window) so that it may not be passed, or any living being so that it cannot move or do anything. It can be allowed to speak, but only if the cleric wishes it. It is allowed a saving throw when this is applied.
Blessed: Through this blessing, hearts and minds may also be bound. The cleric may bind someone’s heart with any of the ethical principles required of her because of her miraculous powers. If the person so bound acts against this binding, then he or she loses a level.
Lesson: When the cleric confronts someone with evidence they have sinned, that person must either repent and try to right the wrong, or face punishment. The punishment for sin is death, but the cleric may specify some lesser punishment such as a debilitating curse or disease.
Ethics: Raguel requires her charges to act when they find evidence of wrongdoing. Sinners must be confronted, and she will forsake those who do not have the courage to do so.
Divine Intervention: Raguel will often intervene in small ways, far more often than most angels intervene; through her power, the cleric will never fail to gain insight or clues to an investigation. If all else has failed, Raguel’s intervention will ensure a miraculous revelation at the last moment.

7 Saraqael
Soul Shepherd, angel of the resurrection
Always: The cleric no longer uses a blessing to invoke the Lesson of Lazarus is Sleeping. He may also interrogate the soul of the dead person he wishes to raise, who must truthfully answer – so it is no longer possible for the cleric to attempt to raise the undeserving, and be punished with a demon in the flesh instead.
Blessed: A dead body may have a demon bound into it in the cleric’s service. This servant has terrible strength and endurance – treat as an undead with d12 HD equal to the cleric’s level, which deals 2d10 + 10 damage on hit. It automatically succeeds at feats of strength which would normally require a roll; if an opposed roll is involved, it adds +20. The demon-animated body must obey everything the cleric tells it to do.
Lesson: If the cleric wishes, he may speak with the demon. If he convinces the demon of the worthiness of following God, then the demon is converted into a human soul, and along with the body it animates, it is resurrected as a member of an adventuring class.
Ethics: Saraqael only guards clerics blessed with Lazarus is Sleeping. If the cleric allows a demon bound with Saraqael’s blessing to perform an evil act, Saraqael will withdraw his favor.
Divine Intervention: Saraqael may resurrect anyone he sees fit; sometimes, though the death of one of the cleric’s allies was unrighteous, Saraqael may decide to raise that ally anyway – so that the cleric may continue to teach his friend a better way for a while longer.

8 Remiel
Angel of Hope, guards God’s chosen
Always: Remiel allows her chosen clerics to change one initiate power for a different one whenever they pray for a minute to do so.
Blessed: With a blessing, an acolyte or ordained power may be changed out instead.
Lesson: When none of the cleric’s powers will help, but she still does not give up hope and keeps trying, Remiel intercedes and the cleric may ask for help from a different archangel than usually watches over her.
Ethics: To be guarded by Remiel, the cleric must already have the power Rising Above Despair. Remiel cannot abide self-pity, angst, or depression. Her chosen clerics must guard themselves against such attitudes, or she will forsake them.
Divine Intervention: Before abandoning a charge, Remiel will personally appear to offer tidings of hope. If the cleric still refuses to take heart, then Remiel will leave her.

9 Zadkiel
Liberator, breaks unjust bonds
Always: What the cleric declares opened is unbound. Any portal may be forced (whether physically or magically sealed), and any binding (similarly, physical or magical) may be removed, simply by the cleric’s word.
Blessed: Hearts and minds may be similarly freed by this blessing. If an idea or a relationship is oppressing or harming someone, this blessing reveals that to the victim and oppressor alike. If magic binds a person’s behavior, that magic is eliminated.
Lesson: When the cleric confronts an oppressor with the slaves she has freed from bondage, the oppressor must relinquish any claim to those she has freed. If any continued relationship is desired, then the oppressor must become an equal, and give up whatever desires caused him or her to bind his or her victims in the first place.
Ethics: Zadkiel forsakes any cleric who places another in bondage for any reason other than preventing further evil actions.
Divine Intervention: Rather than intervening directly, the power Zadkiel grants simply cannot be opposed. Only power such as could defeat the magic of a 25-HD archangel may bind what a cleric guarded by Zadkiel wishes loosened.

10 Jophiel
Teacher, delivers language and law to God’s people
Always: The cleric may communicate with any being which has a language, as if no barrier of language differences existed. While the cleric is present, everybody understands each others’ words – it is not even possible to use coded messages to obscure meaning.
Blessed: Perfect understanding of intention is granted between the cleric and one person for one conversation. If it is possible for either to convince the other, the means for that will be laid bare.
Lesson: When the cleric resolves a conflict with someone whose intention was known to be completely hostile, without resorting to violence, then that formerly hostile person will become a friend permanently. If that person was a creature of inherent evil, this undoes that nature, turning the creature mortal and friendly.
Ethics: Jophiel only guards bearers of Taming the Tongue. Jophiel leaves the side of any cleric who resorts to violence before negotiation.
Divine Intervention: Jophiel may decide to intervene behind the scenes when enemies of her chosen prophets scheme and plot and lay honeyed words against them. The sweet words of schemers are turned to bitter ashes, and just when the evil plots would trap the cleric they instead collapse on themselves.

Besides the powers bestowed on them, clerics are skilled in knowledge of history and mystical truths. They always have a kind word to share, or a rebuke for bad behavior. Clerics can always read and write, and often make beautiful illuminated works of calligraphy or other pieces of art as acts of worship. Higher level clerics gain skill in anything necessary to teach the lessons their powers call them to teach.

Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project live now!

Treasury of Games: The Spirit Chase

Today, the treasury releases a developer notebook scribble for a future board game, “Kitsune: the Spirit Chase.”

The two sets of fox twins, Cori and Akira and Ai and Midori, are fighting over who gets the last piece of inarizushi (fried tofu wrapped around sweet rice), when they knock over a spirit jar at the fox shrine. This jar contained the essence of the sins they had purified from fools to earn their tails – and the spirits of those sins have now escaped! If the young foxes don’t recapture the sins before their elders find out, they will be stripped of their recently earned nine tails for sure!

Board Locations:

Black Tortoise Gate: In the north, this gate symbolizes longevity, and sins which have been expelled and must be subdued.

Sun Gate: In the east, guarded by an azure dragon, this gate symbolizes rulership and beginnings.

Phoenix Gate: in the south, this gate is associated with femininity and virtue.

Moon Gate: In the west, guarded by a white tiger, this gate is associated with the dead and punishment.

Golden Dragon Gate: In the center, this gate is associated with heaven, masculinity, and spirituality.

All gates have the ability: activate to move to any other gate. The gates may also be traversed through adjacency (north is not adjacent to south, nor east to west) using movement.

Fox Shrine: Connected to the Golden Dragon and Phoenix gates, this is where the kitsune live. Ability – hoshi-no-tama – seal away mortal sins in your soul pearl so other foxes can’t steal the credit from you.

Heaven: Connected to the Golden Dragon Gate only, this is where the fate of the mortal world is decided. Ability – guide fate – spend your movement to move sins.

Hell: Connected to the Moon Gate only, this is where demons torment the souls of sinners. Ability – judge sin – spend your mischief to discard sins from the board.

Palace: Connected to the Sun Gate and Golden Dragon Gate, this represents the seat of mortal authority. Ability – injunction – ban foxes from moving to a location, only one location may be subject to this at a time. May be used to lift the injunction so all spaces are moveable again.

Grand Temple: Connected to the Golden Dragon Gate and the Black Tortoise Gate, this is where mortals go to conquer their sins. Ability – purify – ban sins from moving to a location. May not choose the Black Tortoise Gate, and only one location may be purified at a time.

Bank: Connected to the Sun Gate, the Bank controls money, which is also symbolic of spiritual energy. Ability – cash in – restore a foxfire (effectively, trade mischief this turn for foxfire stored; magic is still the maximum for foxfire)

Market: Connected to the Sun Gate and the Bank, the center of trade is very important to the flow of the mortal world. Ability – stock up – invest foxfire in movement or mischief, and this foxfire will not regenerate, but continues to give a bonus every turn.

Mischief: number of non-movement actions per turn. Actions possible per point of mischief: capture a sin at the same location, steal a sin from a fox at the same location, shift the blame to a fox at the same location, activate a location’s ability.

Movement: number of spaces to move per turn.

Magic: foxfire which can be spent to increase mischief or movement, or activate fox power.

(Each player gets 9 points to distribute between these three attributes, represented by tail tokens)

Ai: Cunning trickster – activate to interact with another fox at an adjacent instead of the same location.

Midori: Elegance – activate to capture a sin at an adjacent location instead of the same location.

Akira: Energy – once per turn, activate to add +2 Movement or Mischief, or +1 each to Movement and Mischief.

Cori: Enthusiasm – activate to use the ability of an adjacent location instead of the current one.

Sins spawn at the gates during play, after an initial wave at the Fox Shrine (equal to number of players for the initial wave). The gate associated with the color drawn on each turn’s sin draw is where the new sin spawns if a sin is spawning on the turn. Sins move based on a draw from a deck at the end of each fox’s turn. Sins spawn based on sins ending a turn in non-gate locations. Location abilities are disabled while a sin is there, and any location which is not a gate can trigger more sin entering the world – one sin enters the world if any non-gate locations have a sin.

Objective of the game: Capture all the sins before the sin movement deck is empty – which is when the elder kitsune shows up! In competitive play, the fox with the blame loses and other foxes compare how many sins they’ve accrued. In cooperative play, all sins must have been captured by foxes who do not have the blame (or be stored in that fox’s hoshi-no-tama).

The blame: a fox with the blame causes sin to spawn just like a sin would. One fox will always have the blame. Determine this randomly at the start of the game. The fox with the blame goes first.

Sin Deck: 5 directions (north, south, east, west, center). 4 of each “move 1.” 2 of each “move 2.”

When told to move in a direction, move along the path colored for that direction in the direction of the arrow, unless already as far in that direction as possible. In that case, move the indicated amount away from the nearest fox, as long as this does not take the sin closer to a fox. Failing that, move into a location to allow another sin to spawn. Each path will have arrows for each color labeled with the direction name so it will be obvious what paths comprise each direction.

At the end of each fox’s turn, draw a sin card and that fox chooses one sin to move accordingly. A sin also spawns if any non-gate locations have sins on them, at the gate corresponding to the card drawn. On the turn of the fox with the blame, do this twice. (Shifting the blame does prevent you from ending your turn with it and drawing twice!)

Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project live now!

The Treasurer Reviews – Hearthstone: Not a Game

Hearthstone, by Blizzard Entertainment, looks like a game. It interacts with its users as though it is a game, and tournaments are held of it as though it were. The original concept for this article was to explain why Hearthstone is a bad game, but after analyzing the elements of it, I reached a different conclusion: Hearthstone is not, primarily, a game. The reason for its failings as a game is that it is designed mainly with ulterior motives in mind, with enough game elements to masquerade as something other than its true identity: a malevolent marketing Skinner Box.

A Skinner Box is any scenario designed to keep someone doing a repetitive task with the minimum reward necessary to keep it interesting, based on the principle that infrequent rewards are actually more addicting to the human mind than reliable rewards. Hearthstone uses these principles: you only get rewards if you win, and only a limited amount, which tapers off over more play. Wins are not guaranteed, nor entirely in the player’s control (something I will touch on more later), which adds to the unreliability of the reward – and the strength of the operant conditioning. If you keep coming back to it day after day, you will be randomly assigned “quests,” which could let you get extra rewards for certain kinds of victories, or possibly make some progress even without victories. These additional breadcrumbs further enhance the addictive effect of the operant conditioning.

The marketing purpose of Hearthstone is clear on one level – convincing players to buy the cards, or attempts in the “Arena” mode to possibly earn more cards than otherwise. This is incentivized by a clear imbalance in the power of the cards themselves within the game framework of Hearthstone. Rare cards give more power for their in-game cost than common cards, which give more power than the basic cards everyone has access to. There are also even rarer “epic” and “legendary” cards which give even more disparate levels of return on investment of in-game resources. The design is also inconsistent in these power level assignments, leading to a clear stratification of cards which outclass others. Little is done to address this by the game developers, because it is ultimately beneficial to their short and medium-term aims. Long-term, this situation would be toxic to a game – and that is one reason I can’t classify Hearthstone primarily as one.

The secondary level of marketing in Hearthstone is not aimed at sales in Hearthstone itself, but bringing players to Blizzard’s other products. By addicting players to a free-to-play game, which bombards them with imagery from their subscription game (World of Warcraft), they gain a channel for continuous marketing communication to potential customers. It’s difficult to determine the effectiveness of this marketing channel, particularly due to its release simultaneously with the pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor, the newest expansion for the other game – but that similarity in timing is telling of the effect Activision and Blizzard wanted it to have. They lost 800,000 subscribers over the same period that they picked up 1.5 million pre-orders for the expansion, the period immediately following Hearthstone’s release, and had been losing subscribers steadily before that as well. From its peak of over 13 million subscribers in 2009, World of Warcraft has declined to as few as 7 million, though the last two expansions both drew in enough re-subscriptions and new subscriptions to boost that number over 10 million again for some time. The tie-ins with World of Warcraft range from using the same characters and world IP to in-game perks in WoW for playing Hearthstone, to using the same launcher tool so that every time a player launches Hearthstone, they are reminded that Blizzard’s other games are there, and they could be playing them. This also applies to some extent to Diablo III, Starcraft 2, and Heroes of the Storm, which share slots on the Blizzard launcher.

I call Hearthstone malevolent because, from interface to card balance, it is designed to harm the user. The emote system, for example, is designed to allow the players to annoy each other, without allowing direct interaction which could be complained of as harassment. As a result of this lack of direct interaction, there is no feature to report another player, so the various abuses which are possible in the system are guaranteed not to be punished. There is an option to squelch an opponent, but it cannot be set up as a default option – it has to be manually set each time a game starts. The animations and sounds on victory and defeat are typical “this is good” and “this is bad” reinforcement – but human beings have an inherent negativity bias, so the overall effect of these animations is to punish users when they lose more than rewarding them when they win. The animations also can’t be entirely skipped or turned off, so there is again no opt-out of this conditioning mechanic.

The card balance may simply be negligent, but I find it more likely to be intentionally painful to the user who hasn’t spent more money than his or her opponent.  I already mentioned the power differential between basic, common, rare, epic, and legendary cards; for example, for 6 mana you can get the following minions:

Basic – Boulderfist Ogre – a 6/7 minion with no special abilities.

Common – Temple Enforcer – a 6/6 minion which gives another minion +0/+3 when it comes into play. (2 more health on the field for the cost compared to the basic card)

Rare – Savannah Highmane – a 6/5 minion which spawns two 2/2 minions on death (a total of 10/9 in stats, +4/+2 compared to the basic minion)

Epic – Piloted Sky Golem – A 6/4 minion which spawns a random 4-cost minion on death (potentially a 5/6 Pit Lord or a 4/3 Piloted Shredder which itself could spawn a 4/4 Milhouse Manastorm – so at maximum a +8/+4 increase in attributes compared to the basic minion)

Legendary – Iron Juggernaut is 6/5 (+0/-2 compared to the basic minion), but it shuffles an Iron Mine into the enemy deck, for 10 damage when drawn (+10/-2), and this mechanic can be repeated with common cards which return the Juggernaut to your hand (an incomparable increase in power). The Black Knight is a 4/5 which destroys an opposing minion with Taunt when it enters play – which could destroy a 6/5 Lord of the Arena, making the Knight worth 10/10 in attributes between what it gives its player and what it takes away from the opponent. It could also destroy a 6/6 divine shield Tirion Fordring, making it worth at least 11/11 (since divine shield takes at least 1 point of damage to pop) but effectively much more (since taunt is a powerful ability itself, and divine shield could potentially block any amount of damage).

These examples focus on the obvious raw attribute advantage of the rarer cards. Notably,spending enough money on the game allows obtaining these cards for certain – duplicated of already-owned cards can be traded in for credit towards unowned cards, with a system where common cards are cheap and rare, epic, and legendary cards are expensive. It’s possible to earn all the cards through play, eventually – but the previously mentioned psychological tools are working to punish you the whole way, and meanwhile the option to pay to get the better cards is on the table the entire time.

If Hearthstone were designed as a game, it would not be designed with these obvious power disparities. Take Magic: The Gathering, for example, since it is the game Hearthstone imitates. The giant difference between Magic and Hearthstone is that once you have a physical magic card, the company which published it can’t control whether or not you give it to someone else. Hearthstone, being a fully online system, takes full control of what cards a player has available to them. Once the packs are randomly filled and sent out to stores, on the other hand, Wizards of the Coast has no further control over who receives what cards in Magic. Wizards of the Coast also realized early on in Magic’s history (as early as 1995) that rarity and power could not directly correlate for their game to be healthy. Richard Garfield, the award-winning game designer who created Magic, said it himself: “rarity should not be equated with power.”

If you enjoy playing Hearthstone, whether competitively or as a pastime in between other activities, don’t let me stop you. However, do be wary of the psychological armlock you are being put in, before deciding to spend any money on it. Hearthstone is a program designed first to extract your money, and secondarily to be a game. If you’re interested in competitive card games online, you could actually play Magic, or get into an even better designed game, Android: Netrunner. A:NR dispenses with the random card acquisition entirely, allowing all players to design decks from a completely even standing. It also has a unique asymmetrical style of play, where the Runner and Corp players are playing different games against each other, allowing for a change of pace depending on which side of the board a player wishes to take.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project coming March 6th!