THE TOME OF THE LICH
An Introduction to Circles
In the Tome of the Lich, every character is a well traveled adventurer, and has certainly visited his share of interesting places and met his share of interesting people. Most action in this campaign will take place within the kingdom of Chosa, an area that the party members have definitely seen most of. Each adventurer will undoubtedly have friends, enemies, and favorite places to share. In particular, more charismatic adventurers will definitely have stories to tell…
The Rules to Circles
A players circles are a new ability based on CHA which allows any character can use to take an active role in the shaping of the world. Basically, at any peaceful moment (e.g. not at the spur of the moment or within a dangerous dungeon), a PC can propose an NPC/Place. If the player succeeds a special CHARISMA check, the NPC/Place is added to world lore. This check is a d12 roll that must be less than the character’s CHARISMA divided by 2 (rounded down). The DM performs this roll behind his screen.
The CHA roll may be have an adjustment ranging from -4 to +4, depending on how farfetch’d or advantageous the NPC/Place may be. Making a character an old friend or family member, for example, may make the roll more difficult. A DM can also refuse an NPC/Place that he thinks is too good. Saying that the PC has only “heard of” a character, or being less specific with the NPC/Place’s qualities may make the check easier. A PC will always be warned of the modifier before the CHA check is performed. In every situation, a PC only has one chance to propose a character, and a PC can not propose a character/NPC if they will not affect them. Also, you may not want to badger the DM too much (more on that later).
And Now, a Recreation
DM STEVE: Your party triumphantly walks back into town, your bags full of the vast treasures of the pirate ghost’s crypt. What is everyone doing?
FIGHTER KEVIN: Damn, that flaming spear has some awesome stats. Too bad I’m not proficient in spears =( ... Hmm… I begin to ask around at the tavern if anyone knows a spear instructor.
DM STEVE: Good. What do you find?
FIGHTER KEVIN: They tell me that a grand master spearman actually lives in town!
DM STEVE: I don’t think a small town like this one is likely to have someone like that. I’ll roll, but it will be at a -4. Your charisma is 12, so that makes the stat 6, so the only chance you’ll have of this character coming true is if I roll a 1 or a 2 on a d12.
FIGHTER KEVIN: Hmm… That’s not too great. What if the spearman were a hermit who lived in the woods near the town?
DM STEVE: A little bit better, but I’d still have to make it a -3.
FIGHTER KEVIN: Dang. What would be more believable?
MAGE JOMI: What if the head guardsman was a good spearman?
DM STEVE: That’s a much more believable story. Guards usually use spears, so they probably have to be trained somewhere. I’d roll that without an adjustment, if you like the character, Kevin.
FIGHTER KEVIN: I do. but there’s still a 1 in 2 chance I won’t get the character. One of the men at the tavern mentions to me that the head guard is a crotchety old man. He would help, but he has gone a little senile.
DM STEVE: Sounds good. I’ll roll at a +2 modifier then. 8 or lower and you get your character. Any clue what you want to name this NPC?
FIGHTER KEVIN: His name’s Xander.
DM STEVE: Alright. Cool. Lemme just roll <steve> Great! Xander is usually found at the fort’s great hall. Although he might be asleep, or yelling at his nurse…
One Little Catch…
The DM does not have to announce if the roll fails. On a failure, the DM can declare that the character doesn’t exist, allow the character to exist anyway, or (if the DM rolls a 12) can “turn” the character. This means that something has happened to the character since the PC last encountered him. Perhaps he has died, or has been in a terrible accident. There is always a risk that the PC’s information isn’t too reliable. The DM should try to avoid sending the party on wild goose chases, and instead should use a turn as an opportunity to start a new quest.
MAGE BUDDY: So to get to Pirate Treasure Island, we’re going to need a ship. Apparently, that is going to cost 4800 gold. We have about half. Anyone have any get rich quick schemes?
RANGER DOUG: Last time I was in this town, I spoke to some merchants. They tend to invest in crazy business ventures like this. Maybe we’ll offer them 10% or something.
MAGE BUDDY: That’s probably our best bet right now. Do you remember anyone in particular? (Nice in-character way to propose a Circles test)
RANGER DOUG: I befriended one merchant, Bommard, after I saved his life. He said he was eternally grateful and would do any favor for me.
DM STEVE: Son of a bitch. Alright, that is pretty damn convenient, but I’ll still roll it at a -4 modifier to humor you. Your charisma is 12. If I roll a 2 or a 1, you’ll get your character. <steve> Well, it turns out Bommard exists in this world and lives in this port town.
RANGER DOUG: Sweet. I go to a classier tavern and try to find out where he lives.
DM STEVE: You find a guy <disguises>. You’re lookin’ for Bommard, eh? Few people ever see him anymore, not since he came back from the Bloodwoods. He just keeps himself boarded at his house. He especially acts queer in the daytime when there’s a full moon out, almost like the full moon we have tonight…
MAGE BUDDY: Goddamnit.