Category Archives: beasts

ArM5 Whimsy: Rochetto the Black Hrool

Rochetto is based on Rocket Raccoon but reinterpreted for Mythic Europe as an exiled warrior Hrool from The Broken Covenant of Calebais, designed as a grog level character with exceptional thrown weapons skills by using the clesrada mechanics from The Contested Isle. 

raccoon thief
The Raccoon Thief (from Dark Sword Miniatures)

Rochetto the Black Hrool

Magic Might: 5 (Animal)
Season: Summer
Characteristics: Int +2, Per +1, Pre -1, Com -3, Str -1, Sta +3, Dex +2, Qik +3
Confidence: 2 (5)
Size: -3
Virtues and Flaws: Magic Human*; Improved Characteristics, Natural / Pack Leader, Perfect Balance; Feral Upbringing, Magical Friend, Oversensitive (appearance).
* Includes the Monstrous Appearance (humanoid animal) Major Magical Inferiority
Magical Qualities and Inferiorities: Fatigue Mastery; Improved Confidence, Improved Defense x3 (dodge), Improved Powers, Minor Virtue (cles – see below) x3, Minor Virtue (Tough), Personal Power (Supernatural Agility); Major Flaw (Age Quickly), Miniature; Minor Flaw (Small Frame), Susceptible to Deprivation.
Personality Traits: Hrool +3*
Combat:
     Sling*: Init: 0, Attack +8, Defense na, Damage +4

     Dodge*: Init: +3, Attack na, Defense +12, Damage na
Soak: +9 (Sta, Tough, leather)
Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1 (1-2), -3 (3-4), -5 (5-6), Incapacitated (7-8)
Abilities: Athletics 5 (climb), Awareness 2 (ambushes), Brawl 2 (dodge), Hrool 2 (orders), Leadership 4 (combat), Occitan 5 (insults), Ride 1 (combat), Stealth 2 (hide), Swim 1 (diving), Thrown Weapon 5 (sling)
Clesrada: Apple Feat, Rope Feat, Thunder Feat
(see The Contested Isle, pages 102-104 for full details of these semi-magical feats)
Powers:
      Supernatural Agility, 2 points, Init -3, Animal; this power allows the character to perform minor supernatural feats when using Athletics. These might include swiftly scaling walls, leaping from the ground onto the back of a galloping horse, and dropping great distances to the ground without harm. Costs 25 spell levels (Base 10, +2 Sun, +1 constant), 4 mastery points to reduce Initiative, 1 mastery point to reduce Might cost.

Equipment: sling, specially sharpened stones, buckler, leather harness (armour)
Vis: 1 pawn of Animal vis in teeth
Appearance: a black and white furred humanoid weasel wearing a leather harness with several pouches and a crude bandolier. 

This is where the backstory would go if I’d written it – presumably there needs to be some explanation as to why he is encountered outside of Calebais and acquired his clesrada feats but I haven’t worked one out yet so suggestions welcome…

For those of you that don’t have the Contested Isle, the Apple and Thunder clesrada feats allow Rochetto to juggle up to nine stones in one hand, throw up to three stones a round unerringly but not infallibly at an opponents head knocking them prone if it hits.  The Rope feat synergises with his constant Supernatural Agility power allowing improved acrobatics to explain his ability to move as his MCU counterpart does in the films.

Author’s Note: by explanation, he has been designed as a Magic Human rather than a Magic Animal as although his Hrool form includes numerous animal features and the core character concept is an anthropomorphic weasel (or raccoon), in ArM5 Magic Animals are animal in form, not humanoid. As a bestial variant of a Magic Human aligned to Animal rather than Corpus, Rochetto has functioning hands and can speak, unlike Magic Animals that suffer the Mute and No Hands Flaws. The obligatory Monstrous Appearance Inferiority of Magic Humans reflects his bizarre appearance – a talking humanoid animal, and one overly sensitive about his freakish nature.  

I also have some notes on a conversion of Groot as a Herbam False Elemental somewhere to expand on…

 

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Design Notes: Mythic Groot?

ArM5Rocket+Groot
Design Notes for Mythic Groot

Inspiration strikes in the strangest ways.

As I’m in between official writing projects at the moment, I’ve decided to try a few different exercises to work on the technical aspects of ArM5 writing (aka “grogging” would be the appropriate word perhaps here) that I feel I need to develop more. This basically means practice.

The skill I think needs the most work is stat blocks – when it comes to a choice of “crunch” (mechanics), I’ll take “fluff” any day… partly because I think there are enough mechanics and sub systems already but mainly to avoid stat blocks.

So to make this more fun, I’ve  decided to undertake a more whimsical project – I’m intending to interpret two of popular culture’s more recent misfits, Rocket and Groot, in ArM5 terms, but not just as a straight conversion, I want to represent this oddball pair in the Mythic Europe paradigm as characters that could be used in a default Saga.

I’ve started with Groot, mainly because I’ve been interested in the concept of Loamwalkers and their relationship to the Redcaps of The Broken Branches but also because I believe I can use the Elementals from Realms of Power: Magic as a starting point and then deconstruct and carve out a “Herbam Quasi-Elemental” from it, literally whittling out the Character Guide / Description from the rough block. He’s basically a lumbering giant made of bark and wood, with powers relating to changing parts of his form through growth and twisting, so I think I can replicate those elements readily enough with existing Powers and creative use of the Hibernian warrior feats or clesrada introduced in The Contested Isle (see pages 102-104) while still remaining within the ArM5 paradigm.

My initial design notes for Groot, sketched onto a promotional graphic can be found in the annotated image above, and the completed block will be uploaded shortly.

As to Rocket, a major stumbling block is that raccoons are not native to Mythic Europe (although have been introduced in later years apparently) and the morphologically similar raccoon dog is only found in the Far East… so unless I invoke a Criamon Greco-Buddhist mystic travelling back from a pilgrimage along the Silk Road with an exotic familiar I’m seemingly out of luck.

Fortunately Timothy has given me a great suggestion for the anthropomorphic weapons master that makes great sense and links the pair into Ars canon and history nicely…

Scions of the Rhone

220px-Drac_alat_al_carrer_Sorní_de_València
Stone Drac (Wikimedia Commons)

Originally the Drac of Beucaire concept was much more extensive than the material presented in the various paragraphs, Character Guide and Story Seed inserts in Faith and Flame, pages 116-119.

In fact, at one stage when Antagonists came out I thought of expanding the material into a whole chapter for that book but lacked the time to fully develop Aucassin mechanically to my satisfaction or explore the apotheosis mechanics of the Mystery path and the representation of the Elder Drac living in a Vestige in the Magic Realm.

Too Dark Sun for ArM5? Perhaps…

See the various cut paragraphs here:

Mythic Africa Announced!

So finally, my fourth book for ArM5 is on its way (December)! I was privileged to contribute some concepts and ideas to the latest opus crafted by Ben, Mark and Timothy.

The 2nd “Not-Tribunal Book”, Between Sand and Sea, deals with North Africa… well, everything along the southern Meditteranean littoral except Egypt actually (or as Timothy would say: “Guaranteed to Contain No Egypt at No Extra Charge!”)

Although we’re all bound by NDA, I can say that this supplement is full of great material and ideas to allow your characters to explore another exotic set of locales or create characters from the lands outside the core heartland of Mythic Europe.

If you liked the potential and possibilities of exploring beyond the boundaries of Hermetic influence presented in The Cradle and the Crescent, you’ll likely not be disappointed and find hours of inspiration and enjoyment!

Oh, the cover art is shaping up to look great too…

 

Between Sand & Sea: Mythic Africa

Everyone knows Egypt, but Egypt is just one corner of Africa. Between the sand of the Great Desert and the sea of the Mediterranean lie the great cities of Marrakesh and Fes, home to merchants, scholars, and thieves. The Atlas mountains and the plains of the Tell are home to Tuareg and Berber nomads and raiders, and the ruins of Rome and Carthage still await exploration. Not all of the inhabitants of this land are human: the Blemmyae have no heads, bearing their faces on their chests, while the Panotii have ears so large that they can fly, and the isle of monkeys tolerates nothing human on its shores. Trade caravans from all cultures cross the Great Desert, but none know what lies beyond, or where the slaves brought north come from.

Beyond the Bounds of the Order

This book provides cultural and magical details for the lands of Mythic Africa west of, but not including, Egypt. From the jnun to the dark gods of old Carthage, from the bustling cities of the Tell to the wind-haunted mountains and deserts, this is a land that will take magi away from the familiar. Whether building a new covenant outside the Tribunals, or visiting in search of magical secrets, there is something for every maga between sand and sea.

 

 

The Islands of Goats (More Genoa Material)

I’ve added some more material to the Mythic Genoa section, a short gazetteer page on the Tuscan Archipelago – the group of islands offshore of Pisa and between Corsica that comprises Elba, Montecristo and several smaller islands. The group forms a loose southern boundary to the Ligurian Sea tightly controlled by Genoa’s galleys. In 1220 is guarded by the ships of nearby Pisa, which patrol the waters between the rocky outcrops in an attempt to prevent their Genoese rivals taking the shorter route to the Levant through the Tyrrhenian Sea rather than having to skirt around the rocky western coasts of Corsica and Sardinia.

Adopting the styling of The Sundered Eagle, Chapter 6: the Islands, the page details the geography and notes some of the local sites of potential interest to Hermetic magi. Similar to my comments on some of the smaller Aeolian islands, the Tuscan Archipelago may potentially hide the villa of Fortunata, the theurgical archmaga detailed in Chapter 3 of Legends of Hermes, or contain suitable isolated sites for Mystery cult initiations.

As wild goats are particularly common on these rocky islets, I’ve also dug out my ArM5 statistics for wild goats from my cutfiles (a 500 word piece of writing that so far has been cut from 3 supplements to save space). While not as fearsome as some mundane beasts, wild goats seemed an unfortunate omission from the ArM5 Mundane Book of Beasts PDF and would make suitable Heartbeasts for Bjornaer magi, pack animals, Hermetic or hedge wizard familiars, (Magic) animal companions, and/or low-level foes for Grog-based stories. Perhaps even a transformed goat as a somewhat dim-witted grog…

#6 Birds of a Feather

Feather Parts (Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been interested in falconry for a while now, although given it’s really more of a lifestyle or art than a mere hobby and it’s virtually impossible practice while technically legal in Australia, my chances of flying any form of raptor unfortunately approaches very close to zero…

This interest helped me write the short Arab Falconry Insert for The Cradle and the Crescent (extrapolating somewhat from the ideas presented in Lords of Men), something I wish I could have expanded on if we’d had words, but regardless of any regrets, the research for that short section was a whole lot of fun and I collected a surplus of ideas and reference material that I knew I’d end up using at some stage.

As further background, the concept of the Milvi Antiquiti, the group of Redcaps that transform into raptors to deliver their messages, has always been a fascinating one to me. The concept however creates an essential problem for the standard Redcap build – what do the Redcaps that can shapeshift into kites using non-Hermetic magic (the Skinchanger Virtue or similar inherent magical powers from Blood of Heroes or hedge magic effects) use for magic items? Just using the available spell levels of enchantment for transformation magic seems inflexible, even at the price of assigning a Minor Virtue to account for the shapeshifting role.

Sure, there are some ideas in the ArM5 corebook that were later expanded on in the Bjornaer section of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults for dealing with magic items that shift with their wearer or are usable in animal form, but the focus was not really on items useful to Redcaps IMO. I’d therefore started started doodling around with developing the Lady of Doves, a Mythic Companion Redcap concept themed around doves based on some hedge magic ideas of Timothy’s from an upcoming supplement, and the various magical avian accessories grew organically out of that.

The 30 Redcap Magic Items NaGaDeMon attempt gave me a reason to develop these further, although I hadn’t quite worked out what I was trying to achieve with the concepts – I realise now that more than just providing a “shopping list” for Redcap characters I wanted to push the boundaries of the idea of Redcap equipment beyond the standard magic cloak / magic food preparation device / magic  travel device combination that seems to have become a default.

I think these avian items go some way towards achieving this, but I haven’t stopped there and have some wilder ideas still to come…

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?… or rather not)

Fennec Fox (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

I’m not sure exactly how they sound, but I’m pretty sure they don’t sound like this Norwegian song fortunately.

A more accurate representation might be found here or perhaps this description would help, but regardless of exactly how they vocalise, I think foxes are an interesting critter, particulary the markedly diminutive and somewhat adorable Fennec native to the North African deserts.

I’ve added ArM5 statistics for mundane foxes to the Mythic Arabia pages.