Campaign of the Month: November 2007

Bodhisattva Complex

Update Journal #1 - It's About Time

My last update was three months ago? Wow, time certainly flies. In any event, this is the first of what I hope will be many (but not too many) entries documenting Bodhisattva Complex’s transition from 3.5e to 4e mechanics.

So far I’ve gotten some major work done on Incarnum, which pleases me because I thought it’d be a stubborn beast and refuse to work with me. I found that 4e’s role system worked very much in my favor for this, allowing me to categorize each soulmeld by role rather than class. In the end, Incarnum will be different from its original identity in two major ways: no longer dependent on class and no longer hampered by alignment. I always thought that was 3.5 Incarnum’s biggest drawback, anyway; the Incarnate could have been such an amazing class if it weren’t held back by the older editions’ antiquated and mechanically overindulgent concept of alignment.

As I said, I spent a few days pouring over the soulmeld list and dividing them all into defender, leader, striker, and controller categories. It was actually pretty hard for controller soulmelds to stack up in comparison to the other three, but it worked out in the end. Some soulmelds obviously overlapped, which is fine, and some of them had uses that were very relevant in 3.5 but seem either redundant or not worth the effort to use them in 4e, so those had to go too. I tried to avoid scrapping too many soulmelds, keeping player choice as my largest concern there. Anyway, my next task in that department is to turn each soulmeld into a 4e-styled power. I’ll get to that shortly, mostly because there are some more pressing matters at hand. The most pressing is the Asura system, since it’s the cornerstone of Complex’s custom mechanics and the avenue for Incarnum anyway.

As of right now, this is how the Asura system will work. During character creation a player chooses an Asura and builds it to his tastes by choosing a role, an aspect, and a gift. Roles are self-explanatory, but are the backbone of an Asura’s build. I’ll use Hyuga as an example here for clarity’s sake.

Hyuga’s role is defender, since his defining characteristic is protecting people. With that in mind I would choose an aspect (a passive ability such as dark vision or increased land speed) and a gift (a simulated power like a counterattack or a once-per-encounter guaranteed critical hit) from the list of aspects and gifts with the “defender” keyword.

Hyuga is, of course, my avenue into Incarnum use, so he grants me soulmelds on certain levels. Altogether a character gets one at-will soulmeld, two encounters, one utility, and one daily from their Asura. A player prepares soulmelds every time he takes an extended rest with the ability to use any soulmeld from their role’s list. Of course I’m making some custom feats that allow a character to substitute some of their class powers with soulmelds in case they want to be more of a full-time animist. Not to mention there will be some paragon paths specifically made for a player who really wants to dive into Incarnum.

The aspects and gifts are mostly done, since I made them for 3.5 and they almost all translate directly into 4e without any power creep or mechanical incompatibility. So Incarnum is about halfway done, thankfully. I thought it’d take me forever, but somebody upstairs knows it’s my favorite supplement and has made it easier for me =)

In the next entry I’ll discuss Fortune points, a.k.a causing 3.5 elitists to scream “YOU WANT EVERYONE TO BE A STAR PACT WARLOCK?” Also, Bard and Shaman; integral to Complex, but should I make my own or wait until January?

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