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Trying to find rules on tattoo magic

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  • Trying to find rules on tattoo magic

    I am developing a homebrew swords&sorcery/fantasy campaign, and I want my players to have access to tattoos that will give them the ability to use powers, albeit in a limited way.

    Is there a SW sourcebook that has rules on tattoo magic? Or do I just use the rules for arcane devices in the SWADE rulebook? Or make the players take Arcane Background: Gifted and limit their powers or power points?

    Any replies would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Moved to General Chat since this is not a specific rules question about a specific product. The community will be more helpful with this one. There's no Tattoo magic I know of specifically in SWADE or other Pinnacle product.

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    • #3
      Welcome to the forum!

      Sadly, we don't have an official tattoo magic book.
      Originally posted by Caomhin_TheCelt View Post
      I am developing a homebrew swords&sorcery/fantasy campaign, and I want my players to have access to tattoos that will give them the ability to use powers, albeit in a limited way.
      Generally you've got a few design options:
      1. Always On. These tattoos are permanent magical benefits, akin to an Edge or cybernetics. Good for tattoos that permanently increase strength, reaction time, senses, etc. but not for tattoos with temporary effects (like a spray of fire).
      2. Magical Items. The tattoo functions as a magical item, with defined powers and benefits that require activation, usually from a limited and independent pool of power points. The difficulty in taking one away would seem a problem, but it's possible that changing the skin could distort or destroy the tattoo, making scars (or even weight changes) an effective way to remove the magic.
      3. Arcane Background. The tattoos are another kind of arcane background - I would recommend basing it on Gifted - that can be used to do magic but with a price paid by the character that limits how much they can do. Note that characters can have more than one arcane background (sidebar on page 149).
      1 is the easiest to adjudicate. Just make a list of available tattoos, like you would new setting Edges or cybernetics, choose a narrative requirement to gain them, and have some kind of limit on the amount of ink a person can gain. However, it's the most likely to break the system with permanent power increases.
      2 requires you to have a consistent rule set for magical items. Possible from the Fantasy Companion, possibly some other source. It can be tricky.
      3 is my personal preference, though you might have to sweet talk your players into accepting the need of an arcane skill to use their tattoo magic.

      Good luck! I hope that helps some.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies and help. I appreciate it. After some thought, I went with this:

        For game purposes, the PC must take the New Power edge to gain a tattoo, but instead of gaining two tattoos as per the SWADE rule book, the PC gains a tattoo with a trapping and a the 'range' limitation. Each tattoo replicates the game mechanic of a power, (within the constraints of the rules) and the PC must be of the same required rank as the power. The tattoo is imbued with 5 power points, which recharge at the normal rate. To activate the tattoo, the PC must make a spirit roll, (with any appropriate wound/condition modifiers.) Activation requires some sort of physical action, i.e. slapping the tattoo, bringing two halves of a tattoo together, gripping the tattoo, clenching a fist with tattoos on fingers, etc. Players should work with the GM to create the appropriate trappings and activation action. Any further tattoos must be inscribed by a Runescriber and a new power edge taken.

        I'm thinking of some sort of limit on the number of tattoos, possibly limited to half of the spirit die, but haven't worked that all out yet.

        As an addendum, the "Dwarven Runescriber" that can create the magic tattoo has the Arcane Background: Magic and the Artificer edge. I realize that artificer-created arcane devices trap the power points of the creator until the device is used, and in the case of the tattoo, the 'device' in this case is permanent, which would imply that the Runescriber would soon run out of power points, all his energy being trapped in the tattoos he has created, but **shrug**...As the GM, I'm saying the tattoos don't drain the artificer this way. There won't be any PC Runescribers anyway, so the mechanic really doesn't matter.

        Thanks again for the help.

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        • AndrewKennett
          AndrewKennett commented
          Editing a comment
          Got to this thread a little late but the idea looks cool. One extra bit of info is that your hand is a bout 1/20 of your surface area, this might be a guide as to the size of any tattoo.

      • #5
        Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
        Welcome to the forum!

        Generally you've got a few design options:[LIST=1][*]Always On. These tattoos are permanent magical benefits, akin to an Edge or cybernetics. Good for tattoos that permanently increase strength, reaction time, senses, etc. but not for tattoos with temporary effects (like a spray of fire).
        Maybe it's been discussed before, but that's the first time I stumble into this variant and I must admit I'm loving it. You can have a natural limitation with Strain and a cool explanation like the tatoos are feeding off your vital energy. And in Sci-Fantasy settingss you can have both cybernetics and tatoos at the same time, both increasing the same Strain value.

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        • ValhallaGH
          ValhallaGH commented
          Editing a comment
          Glad I could bring that possibility to your attention.
          It works well for all kinds of permanent enhancements that characters can purchase. Magic tattoos, symbiotic organisms, gene therapies, cybernetic add-ons, or even ritual effects. Mechanically, they can all be really similar and still support the flavor you want.

        • dentris
          dentris commented
          Editing a comment
          ValhallaGH I now have another section to add to my Chtulhupunk homebrew. I already had cybernetics and madness points all adding up until you break your Sanity (Strain) and go mad. Now I can add ritual enhancements to the mix.

      • #6
        Originally posted by PEGRon View Post
        Moved to General Chat since this is not a specific rules question about a specific product. The community will be more helpful with this one. There's no Tattoo magic I know of specifically in SWADE or other Pinnacle product.
        Very cool discussion guys. Tattoo magic is will be a big part of the upcoming Atlantis and the Demon Seas for Savage Rifts, so stay tuned!

        ValhallaGH is right on the money as usual and his suggestions will work great for most settings. I like a lot of the limits discussed. Rifts has a different power level than most Savage Worlds settings so it will be quite powerful for "experts" and a nice option for "dabblers." I went with a Strain mechanic when designing them so I conceptually agree that it is a good balancing mechanism for Science Fantasy settings. I can't wait to share more with yall soon

        Sean Owen Roberson
        Line Manager, Rifts for Savage Worlds

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