Saturday, July 5, 2014

New OGL d20 rules: Feather Charms

This entire post is presented under the Open Game License. It may be reproduced under the terms described here. Copyright Steve Miller 2014.

Game Design: Steve Miller 
Copyright Steve Miller 2014

When we published Warrior Maiden Starlight, I wanted to include some Native American themed OGL d20 rules in the book... but no ideas I came up with felt right, or even worked. Eventually, I gave the impatient editor something I felt was worth publishing and we released the book. I continued to mull over ideas... and then it struck me: Feathers!
   The symbolism of feathers is central to many traditional Native American cultural beliefs and practices, and they are referred to in Warrior Maiden Starlight several times as valued badges of honor and symbols of accomplishment. Incorporating feathers as magic items and as part of the awards system seemed like a fine idea for some game rules. After a little tinkering and back-andf-forth with Hundal, it still seemed like a good idea, so here it is, presented for your consideration. (Feedback is welcomed... that's why there's an email address listed at the bottom of the page and why there is a comments section.)

OGL d20: Feather Charms
These rules are loosely inspired by traditional Native American belief systems, in which birds are generally viewed as messengers from the spirits, bringers of change, and symbols of freedom. Feathers are also important symbols, and they are worn as badges of honor by warriors and leaders who have defeated foes through strength or cleverness, and who have been of great service to their people.

General Information About Feather Charms
A feather charm never detects as magical, nor do they grant any benefit for anyone but the character to whom it was awarded. Feather charms looted from dead foes are little more than cool looking headdresses and armbands.
   Feather charms can be used by members of any class.
   When interacting with members from a culture who recognize the inherent authority of the powerful beings who grant feather charms, wearers of feather charms have instant status and respect. For each feather charm worn, the hero gains a +1 bonus to all Charisma-based skill checks, up to a maximum of +8, directed at these people. For allies, he also enjoys a one-step positive reaction adjustment. See "Using Feather Charms" for additional details.
   Feather charms must be attached to armbands, boot cuffs, headgear (such as bonnets, helmets, or masks) melee weapons, polearms, or staves. An unlimited number of feather charms can be worn or displayed on a hero's melee weapons at any time, but their game effect is limited.
   The bonus granted by feather charms varies with the type of feather. They follow regular stacking rules. See "Using Feather Charms" for details.

Gaining Feather Charms
Feather charms are not made using magic item creation rules--they are granted by the spirits and the gods. PCs acquire them as rewards at the end of adventures or key encounters, either from an NPC or directly from the GM with the feather falling to the ground near the player it is being rewarded to.
   They can replace any +1 magic item in a treasure reward, or they can be given in addition to listed items. The feather rewarded should always related to something exceptional or impactful that the PC did during the adventure or encounter.

Starlight earns her first feather in a scene from Warrior Maiden Starlight.
(Script by Ann Adams. Art by Ralph Mayo)

Using Feather Charms
Feather charms must be worn openly by the hero to whom they were granted for the benefits to be enjoyed. When not worn, the feather charms must be carefully placed in some open area where they can be viewed by all; the hero will continue to gain the benefits from them so long as he is within line-of-sight of the feather charms. If they are ever placed in a chest or a closet or otherwise locked away in a small and confined space by their owner, all magic is permanently drained from them.
   If NPCs have reasons to think a hero is wearing or displaying a feather charm that he did not earn, they may demand the character tell the tale of how it was awarded to him. The hero gains a +1 bonus to the appropriate skill check when relating his deeds, and if the check is successful, he gains the full Charisma benefit going forward.
Specific Feather Charms
Here are the specific feather charms and the bonus they grant. Similar feathers stack with other feathers to a maximum of +5. If two feathers give bonuses to the same skills, their effects stacks.
   Crow Feather: Represents skill and cunning. Grants a +1 bonus to Disable Device, Hide, Move Silently, Search, and Sense Motive skill checks.
   Dove Feather: Represents the more gentle side of humanity, such as love, kindness, and nurturing.  Love and gentleness. Grants a +1 bonus to Animal Handling, Diplomacy, and Treat Injury (Heal in some OGL d20 versions).
   Eagle Feather: Represents bravery and strength of will. Grants a +1 bonus to Will saving throws, as well as a +1 bonus to Diplomacy skill checks.
   Falcon Feather: Represents speed and agility. Grants a +1 bonus to Reflex saving throws, as well as a +1 bonus to Tumble skill checks.
   Hawk Feather: Represents strength and protection through force. Grants a +1 bonus to Fortitude saving throws, as well as a +1 bonus to Intimidate skill checks.
   Heron Feather: Represents grace and confidence . Grants a +1 bonus to all Perform skill checks, as well as a +1 bonus to Concentration and Disable Device skill checks.
   Owl Feather: Represents a mind capable of keen insights and the ability to see things as they truly are. Grants low-light vision of 12 feet (increases 10 feet for each Owl feather, up to a maximum of distance of 60 feet at five feathers possessed), as well a +1 bonus to Search, Sense Motive, and Spot skill checks.
   Raven Feather: Represents creativity and knowledge. Grants a +1 bonus to all Knowledge and Craft skill checks.

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