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12/16/2016 1:28 pm  #1

BoL Bloodlust

So when that video of the French version of BoL came out, it reminded me of Bloodlust.
It was a game that was set in a wonderfully savage Swords & Sorcery setting in which the various nations and tribes engaged in ceaseless war and bloodshed.

One big reason that characters in Bloodlust slaughter everyone with gleeful abandon is that they carry sentient weapons that egg them on to greater and greater violence, a la Stormbringer. The conceit of the setting is that these sentient weapons are gods that have decided to manifest in the physical world so that they can experience and indulge their passions through the bearer. These "god weapons" always choose their bearer and if they don't like the person who has picked them up, they will arrange for their untimely demise. This leads to a situation where the will of the bearer is often pitted against the desires of the weapon.

So naturally, I've decided to adapt the central idea of Bloodlust to BoL.
I'm not looking to create a straight conversion of the entire game. Instead, I just want to create a method of introducing the notion of these "god weapons", which for the purposes of this project I've decided to dub "Avatars" into BoL. Those characters which wield these weapons will be termed "Harbingers", because wherever they go, carnage and bloodshed are sure to follow. One small thing to keep in mind; in the original Bloodlust game, there were no sorcerers per say. The only source of magical power were Avatars. But because I love BoL sorcery so much, I would never dream of getting rid of it. Rather, I'd just hand wave it and say that Avatars loathe sorcerers, which they see as usurping power that doesn't belong to mortals. Any character wielding an Avatar adds their Magician career ranks as an additional penalty when making MIND checks against the Avatars Urge. The Avatar will seek any opportunity to have a sorcerer wielding it slain.  

The basic idea is to come up with a simple, point based mechanic to build an Avatar. I'll use the basic BoL Mythic character format for Avatars to maintain symmetry.

My approach will be as follows:
1- An Avatar can be a light, medium, or heavy weapon, or a helmet (in homage to Frazetta's Death Dealer). Each of these provides a variable number of "Avatar Points" or APs, which will later be used to purchase powers.

As an initial, stream of consciousness offering without any additional thought or consideration, lets say this:
- Heavy weapons provide 0 APs
- Medium weapons provide 1 AP
- Light weapons provide 2 APs
- Helms provide 3 APs

2- Next, each Avatar is assigned its "Urges".
They are, in no particular order:
- Knowledge: This represents the Avatars desire to learn secrets, seek out new lands, delve into forbidden or forgotten ruins, caves or dungeons. An Avatar with a high Knowledge Urge will drive its Harbinger to wander the earth far and wide and will push them to seek out any lost lore. Any time an opportunity presents itself for the Harbinger to get involved in exploration, the Avatar will attempt to push them to embrace it.

- Pleasure: The Avatar wishes to experience all the pleasures that life has to offer. It pushes its Harbinger to indulge in excessive eating, drinking, singing, sex, substance abuse (all the different kinds of Lotus for instance), or any other pleasurable sensation available. The higher the Avatars Pleasure Urge, the more it will push its Harbinger to indulge in extreme and debased excesses and will resist any attempt by the Harbinger to exercise moderation. 

- Violence: The Avatar wishes nothing more than to exult in the carnage and primal rage of combat. It pushes the Harbinger to violence at every opportunity and is never more pleased than when it is atop a mound of its dead foes. The higher the Urge for Violence, the more the Harbinger will be encouraged to respond to every minor provocation with...well, violence. The Avatar will seek to involve the Harbinger into any strife it can and will use them to exacerbate the conflict as much as possible.

- Greed: The Avatar wishes to hoard vast wealth and amass endless treasure. Its avarice is never sated and will push its Harbinger to seek out and claim all the treasures of the world. Note that it has no patience for the tedium of trade. It wants the instant gratification of finding silver and gold and jewels and claiming it for itself. If that means stealing it from temples, raiding merchant caravans, or sacking cities to loot the imperial treasury, so be it. It is also loathe to allow its Harbinger to spend any of it, which is a problem since this is how BoL characters advance.

Each Avatar begins with a 1 in each of its Urges, and these can be increased in various ways. As you might have guessed by now, whenever the Harbinger character wants to do something that runs counter to the Avatars desires, a MIND check is made with the appropriate Urge as a modifier. 

3- Now, this next bit is why I've decided to post this here, as I'd like the opinion of you lot of murderous scoundrels.
I'm thinking of two potential ways to increase both Urge and buy powers for the Avatars.

First, the powers simply have an AP cost. An Avatar gets more points by increasing its Urges on a 1 for 1 basis.
So for example, if a player wanted to buy the "Shoots Fire" power for his Avatar, and said power had an AP cost of 3, the player could buy it without increasing any Urge if the Avatar was a Helm. But they would have to increase an Urge by 1 if it were a light weapon, increase Urge by 2 points for a medium weapon (either two Urges are increased by 1 point each, or a single Urge is increased by 2), or increase Urge by 3 points for a heavy weapon.

This method is perhaps the easiest and most straight forward, but I suspect it will lead to Urge increases being spread around so no one Urge is much higher than the rest. So alternately, we could do this:

The powers have an AP cost as above, but also have a tagged Urge. When that power is purchased, the associated Urge goes up by the AP cost. So in the example above, the "Shoots Fire" power with an AP cost of 3 is also tagged to the Violence Urge. If the Avatar is a Helm, the player uses the 3 free AP points to buy the power with no Urge increase. But an Avatar that is a light, medium or heavy weapon would have to increase the Violence Urge by 1, 2, or 3 points respectively to make up the difference. So a starting character with a heavy weapon Avatar that shoots fire will have to resist its calls to violence with a MIND check @ -4 to the roll. That's one angry great axe...

Anyway, just some initial thoughts.  


12/17/2016 7:46 am  #2

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Cool. Very interested in Bloodlust - I was close to joining a campaign a few years back but it fell through. Love the concept, the heavy metal fantasy style and the lemuria-in-Antarctica setting!

Som really interesting ideas for using it for BoL above. Are you going to use the circular player-weapon system from Bloodlust (you play your neighbours weapon) or will it be a more static relationship based on the urges?

I think the option of giving each power a specific urge makes sense - more likely to give the PCs difficult choices.

I think having a range of free AP from 0-3 can be a challenge to balancing. Having a helmet becomes a LOT better than having a two handed axe in terms of escalating urges. After all, the Pc could just have a helmet and a non divine heavy weapon...

I think the solution might lie in the weapon powers. If these are directly linked to the weapons, and support dealing a lot of.damage then that might balance it out. Things like flaming weapons, weapons that drink enemies souls if killed in one stroke or multipliers to damage might make sense

Just some immediate thoughts. Very interested to see how this pans out (also for my own purposes for en Named Weapons in my little hack). I would be very interested to see what you pull together

Last edited by Peter (12/17/2016 7:48 am)


12/17/2016 8:13 am  #3

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Peter wrote:

Are you going to use the circular player-weapon system from Bloodlust (you play your neighbours weapon) or will it be a more static relationship based on the urges?

Thanks Peter. I was asking myself that exact same question when I started thinking about this, and the truth is, I'd like to come up with a means that can support both styles of play, based on the preferences of any given play group. 

Peter wrote:

I think having a range of free AP from 0-3 can be a challenge to balancing. Having a helmet becomes a LOT better than having a two handed axe in terms of escalating urges. After all, the Pc could just have a helmet and a non divine heavy weapon...

You make an excellent point. Maybe I need to rethink the basic approach.
Perhaps instead of having four separate Urges, the Avatar has only one stat, called Urge, that represents the general will of the Avatar.

And instead of offering free points, maybe the starting Urge is determined by the type of Avatar, so a Helmet starts with an Urge of -1, light weapons start with 0, medium weapons with 1, and heavy weapons with 2.

Then player buy whatever powers they want for the Avatar, but each power increases the Urge stat by a certain amount, and certain powers can not be bought for the Helmet, while other can only be bought for the helmet...  

I need to mull this over.

     Thread Starter

12/17/2016 9:17 am  #4

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Hate to be difficult but if you just give them different starting values, then you run the opposite risk - players will just 'buy off' the advantage by a couple of uses at the beginning, and then it becomes a !ot worse having a helmet rather than a double axe. Especially if it gives you access to fewer damage dealing powers.

I don't think either option is 'right' or 'wrong' - it might help to widen or narrow the range between helmet and heavy weapon. And a lot of it is down to the nature and character of the powers.

You may want to reflect as well on to what extent items just unlock general powers for the PCs and to what extent powers are directly tied to the weapon. Can you combine powers with his using other, mundane weapons? Do they improve the effectiveness of the divine weapon? Or do they just give the PC a special ability?

One thing you may wish to reflect on as well is whether it is the urges that are interesting - or the transgressions. The reader doesn't mind Stormbringers blood- and soullust when Elric is slaughtering droves of enemies or chaos creatures - it is when it drinks the souls of Cymoril or the Red Archer that the tension between Elrics wishes and the influence of the Black Blade come to a head. Maybe it could be the difficult moral choices and personal sacrifices - when the weapon pushes the PC to do something he would never otherwise do, that can provide power points for the weapon. That way the PC also always has a choice - is never forced by the weapon and the rules to play in a certain way.

Anyway - these are just some thoughts and I would be very interested to see the out come of your reflections

Last edited by Peter (12/17/2016 9:23 am)


12/17/2016 12:16 pm  #5

Re: BoL Bloodlust

You're not being difficult. I appreciate the feedback. This is exactly why I chose to post my idea here, to have it challenged and get points of view I might not otherwise have considered.

Ok, so how about this; all Avatars only have the one Urge stat. Furthermore, all Avatar types start with an Urge of 0. Then, I come up with a list of say, 5 or 6 powers per Avatar type. Each power taken then increases the Urge.

So maybe the helmet can have a selection of powers like:
- Titan Strength, +1 Urge per Strength point increase (ignores racial strength limits)
- Iron Skin, +1 Urge increase per point of natural armor (added to normal armor) 
- Reaper's Bane, +1 Urge increase per Defense point increase (ignores racial limits)
- True Sight, +1 Urge, allows the Harbinger to see spirits, see through illusions, see things and people made invisible through sorcery, see with perfect clarity in utter darkness...etc. 
-Infernal Gaze, the Helmet can emit a blast of hellish flame from the eyes, +1 Urge for D6L, +2 Urge for D6, and +3 Urge for D6H damage. Each use might require a MIND check to see if the Avatar takes over.

Meanwhile, an Avatar in the form of a light weapon may have powers that assist in being stealthy and increased movement. A medium weapon might be a flaming sword, or a hammer that returns to the wielder when thrown. I imagine heavy weapons will have powers that increase damage output, maybe add a bonus in warfare or something. I'll have to do some brain storming. 

Peter wrote:

One thing you may wish to reflect on as well is whether it is the urges that are interesting - or the transgressions.

I agree, which is why I think multiple Urge types might not be needed. A single Urge stat to represent the will of the Avatar should suffice. The GM can call for Urge checks when the desires of the Avatar go counter those of the Harbinger and when there is narrative payoff for forcing his/her hand.

I think it pays to remember that these sentient items are not human, and have desires and drives that can often be bizarre, unhealthy, and dangerous.  
Anyway, just some more random thoughts.

Last edited by nerosfiddle (12/17/2016 12:34 pm)

     Thread Starter

12/17/2016 12:45 pm  #6

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Just to clarify; to my mind, when an Urge check is failed and the Avatar takes over, it's not simply for a number of turns, but rather for the remainder of the scene. It's entirely possible for the character to come to having only a spotty memory (or no memory...or absolutely perfect memory) of what took place while the Avatar was running the show and discover that they've done the one thing they would never do otherwise (kill their loved one, betrayed the king, eat kale).

     Thread Starter

9/11/2017 10:39 am  #7

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Sorry for the necro - just curious if you've taken this very cool concept any further?


9/14/2017 12:03 pm  #8

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Peter wrote:

Sorry for the necro - just curious if you've taken this very cool concept any further?

Not exactly. 
I ran a BoL game that used the basic idea, but I really just hand waived the powers of the Avatars. It seemed to work out well. I just used one Stat for the Avatars called "Urge" which I simply represented as a situational penalty to the Mind check the PC had to succeed against to resist the will of the item.
So for example, one of my player was using "Goregorge the Glutton" a powerful axe that would, on occasion, urge its wielder to drop everything and try to devour the bodies of fallen foes, right there on the battlefield, in the middle of the heat of combat. To resist, the PC would have to succeed on a Mind check. In this case, I had the penalty be -2. But later, after the battle, they would have to succeed again but this time the difficulty was -4. And later still, just because I'm a jerk, I'd have the PC make a mind check with a penalty of -6 to keep Goregorge from making the PC attempt to kill eat and group of kids the group had just rescued from slavers    

If there's ever an interest in a formal rules set, I'd be open to revisiting the idea, but for now, a hand wave approach seemed quite sufficient.

     Thread Starter

9/18/2017 10:19 am  #9

Re: BoL Bloodlust

Thank you for the read out from your campaign. Sort of raises the question whether you really need rules for this kind of stuff - at the end of the day it's about what ideas the GM wants to use and how they are interpreted  in the game. Maybe what really matters is people being sold on the concep

But then that's me speaking as someone who is a firm believer in GMs (and players...) fiat...

Last edited by Peter (9/18/2017 11:39 am)


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