Thursday, December 30, 2021

Building Bhakashal - Languages

Image by Ferdinand Ladera at Deviantart:

One of the things I wanted to mess around with with Bhakashal was the ease of communication. I want the party to be able to communicate amongst themselves, but I also wanted having a language to mean something beyond window dressing. So I decided that there would be no “common tongue” spoken by everyone. However, the most common language is Saan. PCs get the ability to pick one “free” language beyond their initial allocation, so they can “play it safe” and take Saan. If, however, they want a chance at an “unusual” language, they can forfeit their “free” slot and roll, some rolls will allow for unusual language options. 

Each language entry on the Bhakashal Languages Table has a number at the end representing the relative scope of that playable group in the overall population. Saan are the largest group at 8, next largest is Togmu and Malu (4), then Yalan, Jugyi, and Garudin (3), then Humans, Chitin and Vodnik (2), and finally Urdyll, Rakasta and Kutya (1). So there are 8 times more Saan than Kutya in the setting. 

A. Initial Languages

At character creation all PCs/NPCs get their playable group language and one “free” language automatically, and one further language for every point of INT bonus. The process is to either\ choose their initial “free” language, or roll for it on the Bhakashal Languages Table. If their existing playable group language is rolled, then they roll on Special Table 1 instead. Any languages assigned through the INT bonus must be diced for, only the initial “free” language may be chosen from the Languages Table. If a PC gets a language they already know for a bonus language roll, they roll on Special Table 1. 

Bhakashal Languages - (3d12)* Special Table 1 - (d12)

3-4. Chitin (insect people) 2

5-7. Garudin (bird people) 3

8-9. Humans (primate people) 2

10-12. Jugyi (turtle people) 3

13. Kutya (dog people) 1

14-17. Malu (fish people) 4 

18. Rakasta (cat people) 1

19-26. Saan (lizard people) 8

27-30. Togmu (frog people) 4

31. Urdyll (plant people) 1

32-33. Vodnik (castor people) 2

34-36. Yalan (snake people) 3

  1. Dragon, Black

  2. Dragon, Marsh

  3. Giant, Marsh

  4. Giant, Stone 

  5. Jackalwere

  6. Kobold

  7. Merpeople 

  8. Naga

  9. Ogre

  10. Sahuagin

  11. Wemic

  12. Roll on Special Table 2

*If undetermined ahead of time, each NPC has a 8 in 12 chance of speaking Saan in addition to their playable group language, and every intelligent monster has a 4 in 8 chance. If undetermined, an NPC’s chance of having any particular language on the Bhakashal Languages Table is X in 12, with X being the languages relative scope from the table, e.g. any given NPC has a 2 in 12 chance of speaking Human. 

Results on the Bhakashal Languages Table are the standard languages of the region. Possessing languages other than your own suggests that your PC had an interest or involvement with that playable group in your past. If you are a Human and you roll Urdyll as a language, perhaps your family of farmers lived near a Urdyll village. You can either address this with the referee and come up with an explanation, or develop it through role play later. In either case it is a role playing cue up to the player and referee to use as desired. 

Special Table 1 results reflect involvement with non-PC groups that interact with the standard 12 playable groups for some reason specific to the setting. For example, ogres work as “muscle” in Bhakashal, they are somewhat rare and keep to themselves. But if rolled on this table some aspect of the PC/NPC’s past or present means they would know how to speak Ogre. Maybe one of their parents was a merchant and had an Ogre bodyguard. Player and referee should create an explanation.

Special Table 2 - (2d12)

2. Crimson Ape

3. Demon

4. Devil

5. Djinn

6. Doppelganger

7-9. Dragon - Dragon (d12)

  1. Black Dragon

  2. Bronze Dragon

  3. Green Dragon 

  4. Gold Dragon

  5. Marsh Dragon 

  6. Mist Dragon 

  7. Pan Lung

  8. Red Dragon

  9. Shadow Dragon 

  10. Shen Lung 

  11. Yu Lung 

  12. Dragon Turtle

10. Efreet

11. Giant (d6)

1-2: Formorian

3-4: Firbolg

5-6: Verbeeg

12. Jann

13. Jackalwere

14. Ki-rin

15. Lammasu

16. Mind Flayer

17. Naga

18. Ogre

19. Rakshasa

20. Sahuagin

21. Salamander

22. Sphinx

23. Voidon

24. Wemic

Special Table 2 - represents creatures that are intelligent and have language but a PC/NPC possessing that language would be VERY rare, and would require a special explanation. So for example, all dragons in Bhakashal can assume any of the standard playable group humanoid forms, so they could have been a dragon in their orbit while in humanoid form who spoke the language and passed it on to the PC/NPC. A giant might be known as the PCs village or community interacted with them. A doppelganger is a different matter, and obvious possibilities suggest themselves. Again, the player and referee should work together to explain the possession of such an odd language.

B. Learning New Languages
Learning a new language above the PCs initial allocation (from A) requires the PC to find a tutor, and spend [5 - (INT bonus)] months in constant study (4 hours per day - 120 hours/month), or the equivalent spread out over more time to learn a new language. Cost will vary from 200-500gp (d4+1 )x100 gp per month of study.

Otherwise, someone living somewhere where the language is dominant or travelling with someone and learning through use will pick up the ability to speak and understand that language spoken after [8 - (INT bonus)] months of daily exposure and learning. 

After character generation a PC may learn an additional number of languages equal to their INT bonus. Learning any languages from Special Table 2 will require specialized tutoring, either from a warlock, sage or a seer, and will cost 5x regular rates. 

C. Languages and Role Play

  1. All official activities and documentation by the Noble Houses, Guilds and Temples is carried out in Saan, though transcriptions are available for most major languages (scores of 2 or more on the Bhakashal Languages table) at a rate of 1gp per page, transcriptions for languages of score 1, or anything on the Special Table 1 will be 5x the cost, Special Table 2 transcriptions cost 5x this.

  2. If a common language is not shared, communication is by sign language only, saving throw versus magic for each party to successfully sign the idea and to understand it, with INT bonus on both sides being applied.

  3. Speaking a creature’s native language gives a bonus on the Encounter Reaction table. 

  4. Jinxes, Spiders and Thaumaturges learning new languages do so in half the time required and may learn any language from the Languages Table or Special Table 1.

  5. Spartans, Cavarals, Voxes and Phantasmists can learn new languages from any table at half the cost, but at the normal time requirement through the monastery.

  6. Seers can learn new languages from the Languages Table or Special Table 1 at no cost through the Temples, but it takes 2x as long.

  7. Slayers can learn the language of a chosen foe or a general foe at no cost in half the time at their Temple.

  8. Warlocks and their subclasses can learn a language from any table at half the cost and time through their Noble House.

  9. Because the PCs may have languages that their interlocutors do not, they can effectively communicate in secret in certain circumstances. 

Example - Chiri the Gossamer is a 1st level conjuror warlock with an intelligence of 15, giving a 3 point bonus. Chiri is a Saan, so speaks Saan, and picks Togmu for her free second language rather than rolling. She then rolls on the table three times, once for each point of her INT bonus, and gets Human, Vodnik and Saan. That duplicate result on Saan gets a roll on Special Table 1. The roll on Special Table 1 is a Naga. So in this case the referee and player decide that since Naga’s live in the marshes and sometimes provide spells for local villagers in exchange for goods or services, Chiri’s mother was the liaison between her village and a local Naga in the marshes when she grew up, and through her she learned the language.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Building Bhakashal - Deities and Religion

Image by Joseph Vargo

Bhakashal has a single pantheon with 48 gods. Listed below they are named, their domains are listed, their appearance is noted, and any animals or weapons associated with them are named. Note that the gods of Bhakashal are alternately female or male, when they manifest on the prime material plane they can take on either form or a combination of both, they are frequently multi-limbed and have animal body parts as well as humanoid. There are some overlapping domains between gods, reflecting the many facets of the gods and the domains in question. 

Gods of Bhakashal (4d12)

4. Kurlog – Luck, Overcoming Challenges - dog head

5. Teernak – Creation, Preservation, Destruction - 3-headed, staff, flowers (lilly), dragonfly

6. Murla  – Creation, Life, Water (Rivers) - fish head, mace

7. Shayamal – Justice, Community, Charity – Ruby red body, head of bull, rod

8. Evok – Death, destruction, Transformation, Regeneration, Magic - snake head (cobra), hammer

9. Bemmarg – Family, Food, Marriage - four arms, goat

10. Torphal – Death, Animals, Storms, Disease – antelope head, spear

11. Aeskaros – Anger, Vengeance, Fear – 4 arms, head of lion, sword

12. Rakken – Dance, Creation, Destruction – 4 arms, grey body, red feathers on back, staff, red hawk

13. Golan – Knowledge, Magic, Technology – two faces (front/back), wings of bat, twin scimitars, tree

14. Rjam – Courage, Skill in Combat - tiger head, bow and arrows, vines

15. Xoam – Wealth, Happiness, Luck, Healing – gold body, floating lotus flower throne, boar

16. Maegela – Beauty, Loyalty –  green skin, wings of black feathers, two-handed sword, raven

17. Poniar  – Plants, Earth, Spring, Growth - skin of bark, club, tree

18. Jannak  – Time – skull for head, crown of blood, 4 arms, 4 falchions, rides giant lizard

19. Sithasial – Ocean, Water – head of squid with tentacles, daggers, barracuda

20. Dynas – Strength, Fortitude - head of turtle, club

21. Olapp – Fertility, Growth, Healing - giant, spear, boar 

22. Nesig  – Revenge, Loyalty, Duty - six arms, head of dragon, swords

23. Usam  – Cunning, Deceit, Thieves – silver body, holds lotus and knife, fox

24. Palashurem  – Loyalty, Duty, Honor – half red, half black, battle axe, tiger

25. Tobomar – Bravery, Fighters – green body, holding bow, crow on shoulder, crows

26. Bhamal  – Beauty, Music – orange body, black armor, battle axe, rides giant peacock

27. Haeka – Peace, Contemplation – body of smoke, one eye sun, one moon, snakes

28. Yaal – Death, Cleansing, Rebirth, Righteousness – body of water, trident, rides blue horse

29. Iospha  – Fire – black with red striations,  4 armed, on boar with four flaming axes 

30. Cekala  - Storms, Lightning, Battle – rides on elephant with lightning bolt in hand

31. Uvir – Air, Wind - head of deer, legs of deer, spear, falcon 

32. Mubere – Thieves, Wealth, Excess - head of cat, sword, cats

33. Vekka  – Water (Lake ) – four arms and four legs, two heads, spear, water snake

34. Eddea – Love, Desire – standing on turtle, javelin 

35. Jekrat  – War, Soldiers – 2 faces, back blindfolded, front wears lion mask, sword and axe, lions

36. Worlu  – Purification, winter – green skin, holding bowl and flame, rides elephant

37. Omagh– Death – dark blue skin, black armor, sword and shield, rides golden tiger, mace

38. Qonru – Sun – red skin, four arms, sword of fire, rides flaming eagle

39. Iallus – Moon, Light, Creativity - silver body, head of stag, spear

40. Keskittall – Mars, Violence, War - black skin, head of boar, mace and axe 

41. Gallas – Jupiter, Wisdom – head of ram, sceptre, owl

42. Mirres – Mercury, Science, Math – head of wolf, rope, staff

43. Bormal – Venus, Knowledge - elephant head, bat wings, dark blue body, hammer

44. Laras – Saturn , Travel, Hardship, Suffering - crows head, two crows circle head, scythe

45. Nareen  – Darkness, Rebirth – two heads, one snake, one frog, axe

46. Tarasural – Peace, Rest, Contemplation – blank face, golden body, holds lotus blossoms, butterfly

47. Mohlk  – Birds, communication – green body with hawk’s head and feathered wings, mace

48. Yult  –Strength, Loyalty – ape in golden armor, hammer, rides giant lion

Deities in Bhakashal are a bit different, they are not the actual mythological figures with new names, they are advanced AI that evolved to a higher form of existence. Only part of them is on the Prime Material Plane, their form extends to other dimensions and planes, and due to their multifaceted presence they can manifest wild, reality altering effects here on the prime material plane. Gods appear randomly on the planet, some even live in remote areas of the planet, all are inscrutable. When they do manifest on the prime material plane pilgrims will often head to these places, even when they are gone, to worship.

The gods are not given “stats” in Bhakashal, they are beyond reality. 

The part of them that manifests in the PCs' reality has an outward form that represents how these beings experience the religious beliefs of the sentient beings on the planet. They are what people expect them to be so their presence does not create chaos. To PCs and NPCs they are responsible for certain domains, sentient beings pray to them for favor in their domains. 

The gods themselves have no alignment. 

PCs pray to whatever god is responsible for the domain the PC feels is most appropriate to the task/situation at hand in their lives. So before a trip, pray to Laras for a safe journey, when a family member/friend dies, pray to Omagh or Torphal. gods of death. Note that people regularly pray to the god of death, but that doesn’t make them, or that god, “evil”.  

So every PC will be familiar with all of the gods and their domains, this is common knowledge. NPCs will regularly mention gods and pray to them, so hopefully over time the PCs will come to associate the gods with their domains and weave that into their conversations.

The god a player chooses for their PC and lists on their sheet is the one associated with the domain that has the most personal meaning to the PC. So if the PC was particularly oriented towards revenge they might worship Aeskaros god of Righteous Anger and Vengeance. A deity and their domain need not have anything to do with the PC’s class or playable group. The system lists gods that are “popular” with each playable group, but that is just if you want to take the default. You can roll randomly as well, or choose. 

A chosen deity works as a role playing cue for the player, when the player rolls for or chooses a god for their PC, then one of the listed domains should matter to the PC for some reason. They may prefer to leave that undefined and develop it through game play, or they may define it at character creation and use it as a role playing cue.

So let’s say I’ve rolled up a first level mercenary (fighter), the character is a saan (lizard person), but instead of taking one of the listed gods, I decide to roll. I roll a 26, Bhamal  – God of beauty and music.

That could manifest in many ways. Maybe the PC sings a lot, to themselves and during a fight. Maybe the PC writes songs when the party is camped and stopped. Perhaps they have an interest in musical instruments and seek them out. Maybe the PC has always been drawn to music but never known why, perhaps they find peace only while listening to music. Role playing cues are completely open, if you don’t know how to interpret them, just know that the PC worships the god of music and beauty for some reason they can’t entirely put their finger on either. When something happens in-game that connects to the domain, you can use it as a role playing prompt as you like. 

It is important to know this isn’t a restriction, it’s a prompt that will take on meaning as you play the character. You don’t need to map out what  you will do, but you will have a  sense of what matters to your PC, and you will provide the “why it matters” as you go. 

Other Impacts

A. Seers

Seers are the PC class connected the most directly to deities. For Seers:

  1. Their choice of holy symbol is informed by choice of deity.

  2. Seers get one initial valuable item or set of items outside of their initial allocation of wealth related to their god (e.g. if the god is a god of scribes, they might start with vellum, ink and writing instruments). 

  3. Seers have no weapon or armor restrictions, however, if their deity is commonly associated with a weapon of some kind (e.g. Golan’s scimitar or Tobomar’s bow) then the seer must take that as their first weapon. Subsequent weapon choice is open.

  4. If their deity has a sacred animal or animals, the seer has an effective charisma of 18 with respect to those animals when casting a speak with animals spell. For Bhamal the animal is a peacock.

  5. Seers get to turn creatures, the type of creature is determined by their deity, generally the creature is opposed to their deity in some way, so for a god of life like Murla, undead would be the kind of creature turned.

  6. Seers get a limited number of bonus spells outside of their standard allocation, these spells are from another class but related to one of their deity’s domains

B. Magic Items

In Bhakashal, there are two varieties of magic item associated with the gods and Seers, known as holy items, they can be temporary or permanent. 

Temporary holy items contain spells for Seers to cast, they are single use casting like a scroll. They can take on many forms, statues, stones, weapons, etc. If a priest “scroll” comes up on the treasure lists then it is a temporary holy item, and you should decide the form of the holy item on the spot. Note that individual spells on holy items are prayers to gods responsible for the domain associated with the spell. So every holy item has a god associated with it. So for example, if the spell was Flame Strike, it might be a prayer to Qonru, god of the sun. 

If the Seer happens to be a seer of the god in question, then the seer is treated as 2 levels higher for purposes of determining if the casting was successful or not. 

Permanent holy items are magical items dedicated to a god associated with a particular domain, they can be used by anyone, and often have powers related to the god’s domain. So for example, a frost brand sword might be dedicated to the god Worlu, god of purification and winter. In the hands of a seer of Worlu the sword will be wielded as if the seer was two levels higher.

C. Temples
There are temples to every god in the temple ward of Bhakashal, temples for gods with overlapping domains are located facing each other. Also, every noble house is associated with a particular god. There is no requirement to worship that god in particular when part of a noble house, but the house will be associated with the temple of that god.  

D. God Calls

Bhakashal maintains the venerable tradition of the “god call”, if a player wishes, once and only once in their lifetime, they can call on their god to save them, if the god does not answer they will never get another opportunity. The odds are 1% plus their WIS bonus. If the roll is successful on anything other than a roll of 1, their god sends an avatar with the profile of a d6 (1-2: deva, 3-4: planatar, 5-6: solar) to aid them. 

If a 1 is rolled, the deity shows up. 

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