Darkspawn Taint

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Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:15 pm

Special stunt point cost 6: Any Darkspawn creature can infect a target with the taint using this special stunt. This target must be below half health in order for it to take effect. Showing that they are both wounded. Once used the target has to immediately make a Constitution (Stamina) test vs a TN: 21. Success grants the target immunity to the Taint for 24 hours. Failure however grants them 1 Taint point. Once a person has obtained a number of taint points equal to 2 + Constitution modifier they become a Ghoul in 2 + Constitution modifier days. After a short rest a persons Taint score is reduced by one, and an extended rest by 2.

Thoughts? Sort of used the idea from the Amber Rage storyline.
Last edited by Andferne on Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:58 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby DKH » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:42 pm

Andferne wrote:Stunt point costs 4: Any Darkspawn creature can infect a target with the taint using this special stunt. Once used the target has to immediately make a Constitution (Stamina) test vs a TN: 21. Success grants the target immunity to the Taint for 24 hours. Failure however turns them into a Ghoul in 3+Con days.


Thoughts? Sort of used the idea from the Amber Rage storyline.


I wouldn't recommend making this a standard stunt. The stunt is nearly guaranteed to kill the target within a few days (unless they have an incredibly high Constitution). So if you used it as a standard stunt for darkspawn in a campaign, you'd end up with lots and lots of dead characters.

If you want to use the taint as a plot point, like the disease from Amber Rage, then I'd recommend just using GM fiat, the same way that the authors of that adventure did.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:46 pm

Edited it just a little.

Reason I have it set up this way is that I want facing Darkspawn to actually be a threat. Scary. Currently they are just like any other monster. No threat of the taint makes them like any other Orc horde. This makes the PC's think and possible double think their actions.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby DKH » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:24 pm

So your goal here is to make the darkspawn feel particularly dangerous and threatening to the players. It seems like there are two different ways you can do that.

One way would be to set the tone would be through narrative: show the players how dangerous the darkspawn are by, say, having them massacre a village or a friendly army. Show them the effects of the taint on the survivors in the town. Maybe they'll have to make a choice between trying to help the survivors, and killing them before they turn into ghouls. This is just one example. There are plenty of ways to make your players afraid of the darkspawn without changing the combat side of the equation.

The other way to set the tone is by making combat against darkspawn particularly challenging in some way. This is the way you went with it, and it's not a bad idea. But I don't suggest using the taint as a stunt, and I'll tell you why: it removes player choice from the equation. The problem is, players have no control over whether an enemy gets stunt points. It's totally up to the luck of the dice, and most players don't like losing characters due to dumb luck. No amount of strategy on the player's part can mitigate this ability, and if they get unlucky, they're dead, the end. That might be fun for some players, but I know I would be upset if it happened to one of my characters.

I'd suggest that if you want to make combat against darkspawn more challenging, you beef up the darkspawn in other ways. Either include more of them in each encounter, increase their stats, or give them tactical advantages, like letting them set traps for the players, ambush the players, or surround them on all sides. This way, the players experience a greater challenge, but their choices and strategies still matter, and if one of their characters dies, it will be because of the decisions they made, rather than a bad roll of the dice.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:43 pm

All of that is already done in my campaigns. High risks for high rewards. So to speak.

To me all the stuff you listed to make the 'darkspawn' seem like more of a threat can be done with any type of bad guy or creature. So nothing sets the darkspawn apart from any other threat. The threat of a darkspawn horde compared to a typical fantasy Orc (or whatever creature) horde is the taint. Something from a game mechanic standpoint has not rules for. The taint is what makes fighting the darkspawn dangerous. Not the numbers, not the ambushes or weaponry. Knowing that what you are fighting can infect you with just their blood is what's dangerous.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Sidmen » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:49 pm

I'm sorry; I don't see any kind of support for this mode of spreading the taint. From everything that I've read (which, granted, isn't everything thats out there) the taint corrupts the ground and air. People who turn into ghouls have had prolonged exposure to this sort of taint. (both known examples of ghouls from the videogame were made to eat tainted flesh too; and were both found deep underground)

But I've never seen any support that they can just up and taint people when they feel like it. Quite the opposite in fact; since armies can and do fight the darkspawn without all turning into ghouls.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:12 pm

The taint is said to be in their blood. Which is what the point was for. The Mabari for example at Ostagar that you can save. It was sick because it ingested too much darkspawn blood. Which is why a 'cure' had to be made.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby DKH » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:25 pm

I get what you are going for, Andferne. You want something that makes the darkspawn a unique enemy, and the taint is probably the most unique thing about them. If that is what you're going for, that's cool, but I'd suggest implementing it in a way that the players can have some control over. The main problem with the stunt, as designed, is that it is essentially an one-hit kill against any character who is unlucky enough to have a darkspawn roll well against them. The player's decisions make no difference.

Instead, perhaps you could reduce the stunt point cost so that the stunt would occur more frequently, but make the effects more gradual. The consequences of being exposed to the taint could gradually increase over the course of a battle as a character is exposed to the taint more times. The first time, it would only cause some minor stat penalties, but the more times the character is exposed in a fight, the weaker it makes them, and if they are exposed enough times, they eventually run the risk of becoming ghouls. This way, the darkspawn still get to be uniquely dangerous enemies, but players aren't penalized heavily for bad luck. Instead, they get the chance to make an important decision when fighting darkspawn: do they flee after being exposed to the taint to avoid the risk of becoming ghouls, or do they press their luck in battle, knowing that further exposure leads to increasingly high risks?
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:38 pm

I like the idea of implementing it as a gradual thing, combined with multiple infections getting worse. Perhaps starting off with a -1 to any physical activity for the first exposure. Then second exposure places a -2. Upon a third exposure you must make the required save or become infected by the Taint.

Another idea (to try and help Con a more favored attribute) is that maybe a PC can take up to his Con score in Taint exposure before he is tainted. This number resets after a 5 minute rest.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Cyberwolf » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:29 am

Or let them get a con-based save against any of the three "stages of infection" you have there. So that you actually have to fail three saves to be at real risk - which I wouldn't tell the players. ;)
I think that might have the better effect. Because then you have the behavior of your players (or their characters) effect what happens to them again. Cause if you fail the first or second save, you can decide wether you shout "ONWARDS!" and throw yourself into the next wave of darkspawn (probably finding a heroic yet violent death sooner or later), or if you try to stay out of battle until you've been cured.

You should have in mind though, that making the taint a stronger threat might result in every one of your player wanting to become a grey warden at level 6 (for which set 2 seems to provide the stat boni and a rather soft rule on how long the trainee period is). On the other hand, since at least the beta-text states "normally only those who have proved themselves are given the chance to join its ranks", maybe that will enforce some heroic behavior on them. And not every one survives the joining ritual...
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Lyger » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:59 am

I just have one question. What's the defense?

If Fred the Fighter understands that he's going into a situation where he can wind up Tainted, and that being Tainted is effectively a death sentence, how does he mitigate against that risk? If Fred's a reasonably intelligent person, he's going to take whatever steps he can. If there are no steps to be taken, it doesn't make sense for Fred to willingly/knowingly get into a fight with anything that carries the Taint unless it's a life-or-death situation to begin with.

To be fair to you, Andferne, I've seen a few proposed Stunts that work along these lines, and that have the same problem - they presume that the primary (or only) defense against them is a difficulty in obtaining the required number of Stunt Points.

So my advice would be that you can reset the Stunt Point cost to 4, but provide a way that characters can proactively prepare for/defend themselves from being tainted that would require that the Darkspawn actively work to overcome it.

And... with all of that said, I expect that Taint rules are going to be in Box 2, given the fact that Gray Wardens are immune to the Taint, and that power was specifically noted for them in the Box 3 Beta rules. And they're likely to change the tenor of games. From what I understand of the Dragon Age console/PC games, you don't go around interacting much with Darkspawn until AFTER you become a Gray Warden, so the Taint is never really that much of an issue.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Elfie » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:12 am

I'd have to agree that something that comes down to a roll of the dice (or series of them) that can eventually just flat out end the character is pretty brutal, but it's not unprecedented. The preview rules about failed spellcasting include the possibility that the mage is sucked into fade and eventually becomes an abomination. Game Over, Man.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:33 am

Cyberwolf wrote:Or let them get a con-based save against any of the three "stages of infection" you have there.

I thought about that after I wrote it. lol
Other idea that I was thinking to keep it Con-based was to set it up similar to dying rules. So a character must be infected with the Taint stunt a number of times equal to 2 + Con score. A 5 minutes rest resets this.
Along with adding that both the Darkpawn and the target/victim must be at half health or below. To simulate that they both have open woulds where the blood might transfer over.

DKH wrote:If you want to use the taint as a plot point, like the disease from Amber Rage, then I'd recommend just using GM fiat, the same way that the authors of that adventure did.

The Amber Rage quest does exactly what I am proposing.
Page 4: A character can resist the amber rage, but this is nigh-impossible; it requires passing a TN 21 Constitution (Stamina) test.
Page 13: (Under Powers for the Ragers statistics)
Poisonous Bite: A rager that bites a victim may transmit the amber rage with a 3 SP stunt. Untreated the character becomes a rager in 3 + Constitution hours.
Amber Poison: Weapon coated with amber poison is more potent than the bite, infecting a victim with a stunt that only costs 1SP.

So unless the GM is fudging rolls and or not using those stunts more than likely several PC's would become infected with the Rage. The same exact system albeit changed just slightly (more to the PC's advantage mind you) is what I recommended for the Taint.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Lyger » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:28 pm

The difference is that the Amber Rage can be treated within the context of the adventure. Old Stoyanka's brew effectively holds off the onset of full Rage for the duration of the adventure. Therefore, there is a viable defense against the Stunt, and smart players have been known to inquire about some of the potion to either inoculate others or to take on the road.

That fact makes all the difference.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby ElJefe » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:40 am

I'm liking the magic mishap rules in the beta for this. They basically make failing the magic test nil, and give the player control by allowing for the mana expenditure, but it still remains a lurking threat to the mage. Not much of one, but nonetheless there.

I try to remember to 'follow the fun'. A bad roll that ends a PC is pretty much off my list, save moments of high story, which I usually try to warn the players about so they can opt out or take extra precautions. Remember, bad rolls hurting characters demotivate players; barely passed rolls that save the day at the last moment: talked about forever. I try to fudge, fake, and insert the latter whenever I can, it makes the players talk more about the good times and gets them excited to follow the story, hunting for more 'epic' moments, even if the moments are not necessarily epic in nature.

I'd think too, that the more peripheral the threat of the taint, the more horrifying. The fear of it happening should serve you much more than the actuality of having it happen. Maybe keep the stunt at 4 points, and let it happen reasonably often, but let the players make a test to avoid; you don't have to give them a TN or a static TN. Maybe the TN is based on the type of creature, +1 or more for elites even. That way, the player never quite knows how close they came to getting tainted, but in actuality, you retain complete control as the GM.

Edit: Half-baked follow-up thought...I try to avoid extra rolling whenever possible, it slows the game down. Perhaps tying the Darkspawn's Dragon Die vs the target's Con somehow? That'd make Con a little less of a dumper and eliminate the extra rolls.

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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Hellebore » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:00 am

You could have the players accrue taint points as they fight dark spawn, getting dark spawn blood in their wounds etc.

Once the points have accrued to a certain point the character becomes a ghoul.

Perhaps if their taint value ever reachs half their health they start suffering physical and mental problems and if their taint value ever reaches their full health level they become a ghoul.

Or just set an abritrary value, like 10 taint = ghoul with each infection event requiring a Con (stamina) test to avoid receiving it.

Reducing Taint could be an adventure hook in itself. Perhaps you need to see a blood mage to get it done, submit to cleansing at a chantry or eat raw lyrium to drive the sickness away. Maybe a quack mage believes that lyrium infused leeches will work.

Certainly it should be possible for characters to reduce their taint level somewhat, but it shouldn't be easy.

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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby ElJefe » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:26 am

Hellebore wrote:Reducing Taint could be an adventure hook in itself. Perhaps you need to see a blood mage to get it done, submit to cleansing at a chantry or eat raw lyrium to drive the sickness away. Maybe a quack mage believes that lyrium infused leeches will work.

Hellebore


In support of the above, if you haven't seen the Heroes of Horror from DnD, I highly recommend it.

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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Andferne » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:00 am

I like the idea of a Taint score and once it reaches a certain point is when things get worse. Edited the OP just a little to reflect that. It almost reminds me of the Dark Side score system for the Star Wars D20 system. lol
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby rschweik » Sun May 13, 2012 12:52 pm

Are mages immune to the taint, and if not, are there mage ghouls, or rogue ghouls? Are there Elven or Dwarven ghouls? Did anyone create stats for a Genlock or ghoul stealthy rogue?
In a campaign I am going to run from level 1, I need a darkspawn (intelligent or not) or intelligent creature on behalf of the darkspawn (a ghoul) to thieve a particular item from a caravan and then escape with said item, with the utmost stealth as possible. This encounter is the 1st combat encounter of the whole campaign, being waylaid at night by as single enemy on an item recovery run as the PCs guard a caravan on their way to...wherever.

note: I threw this question in Darkspawn Taint because of the Ghoul angle.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Lynata » Sun May 13, 2012 7:09 pm

I don't think anyone but Grey Wardens is entirely immune to the taint, and I'm fairly sure I heard of a dwarven Brood Mother once.

As for your Darkspawn thief - you could maybe utilize a Disciple if it fits your angle. Or perhaps a Shriek, although this one should definitively leave a bloody mess behind in addition to disappearing with the item.

Or perhaps better yet: Use a human thief who is part of a Darkspawn Cult. These used to exist "back then", so why shouldn't new ones pop up in a current Blight? Said human could even be part of your caravan, keeping his true agenda hidden until one night he murders one or two of the guards and escapes with his prize to deliver it to his masters, who may or may not work directly with the Darkspawn (meaning an intelligent being like a Disciple or something like Corypheus - or simply trying to barter with them, offering the robbed item as leverage and them being killed for their foolishness).
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby rschweik » Sun May 13, 2012 7:39 pm

Lynata wrote:you could maybe utilize a Disciple if it fits your angle. Or perhaps a Shriek, although this one should definitively leave a bloody mess behind in addition to disappearing with the item.
Or perhaps better yet: Use a human thief who is part of a Darkspawn Cult.



A Disciple is definitely a possibility. I was already thinking about intelligent darkspawn, but didn't know the name for them. Shrieks are demons, and demons don't fit my campaign start-up adventure. A cult would be cut down by darkspawn, not embraced by one, which is why am extremely curious about the "Ghoul". Thanks for the thought, though.

Anybody with any Ghoul ideas?
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Loswaith » Sun May 13, 2012 7:54 pm

I wouldnt think mages are immune to the taint, though what is created from that could be anything.

I would presume anything can become a ghoul too, as though you get something close in DA:O with a dwarf in the deeproads called Ruck, who's mother is looking for him.

He is the closest thing to a dwarven ghoul around but whether dwarves simply take longer to turn or the amount of taint he has is fairly new to his system (as there is mention of him eating darkspawn) is uncertain.

I'm not certain why darkspawn would bother doing anything stealthly unless they were somewhat self aware, akin to the Architect, rather than just raiding the caravan for whatever they may want.

As to your note, you may have been better off with a new post, rather than reviving this one from over 12 months ago. :)
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Elfie » Mon May 14, 2012 1:30 am

Shrieks aren't demons. They are darkspawn made from an elven broodmother (and they're definitely stealthy). Just as genlocks are made from a dwarven broodmother, hurlocks are made from a human broodmother, and orgres are made from a kossith broodmother.

As for ghouls, they are people who "survived" the taint long enough to be completely corrupted by it. There is no reason not to have them be any race you want or any level of intelligence you want depending on the advancement of the corruption. Keep in mind that if they have intelligence, it is the intelligence they had before being tainted, so it's not like they would work together to form a band of thieves or anything. But perhaps this ghoul was a bandit in his pre-tainted life and he's got just enough of himself left to remember that this is what he used to do. Maybe he's even got a small hoard of stolen goods somewhere.

And mages are absolutely not immune to the taint. SPOILER ALERT: Play Dragon age 2 and take your sister into the deep roads with you.
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby Zapp » Mon May 14, 2012 2:01 am

First off, this is a necroed thread.

Secondly, now that I see it, I would suggest looking at how disease and poison have been handled by various games out there. Taint is effectively the same idea as disease/poison.

Two suggestions:
Dungeons & Dragons 4: here you get a "damage track", where taint would have stages, allowing characters a modicum of "fair warning" before they succumb to the taint (no singular "save vs death"). This idea has been touched upon above as well.

Legend of the Five Rings: which specifically have a mechanism for Taint (named Taint even). As far as I remember, you get a Taints score, which allows you - again - some control over the risks you take. You can abort missions and withdraw out of Tainted territory, you can try to find Jade artifacts that allow you to "soak" more Taint, and so on...

Essentially, whatever solution you use (and this is very general advice for any "detrimental long-lasting status effect" ;-) ):
* don't make it simple single save vs death and the like
* don't assign simple and boring straight penalties: getting a -2 to everyting just because you're tainted (or poisoned, or diseased) doesn't make you more interesting, it just makes you worse.

One idea would be to tie into stunts, with involuntary stunts: say you're tainted (in some way or another), then there's a 1SP stunt that forces you to mess yourself with the blood of any fallen opponent (to take a simple example). Not only would this implicate roleplayingdifficulties, it would also in effect mean a stunt point tax (since you would always have 1 sp less left to use).
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Re: Darkspawn Taint

Postby shonuff » Mon May 14, 2012 2:36 am

There are elven and dwarven ghouls. As mentioned above, Ruck from DA:O is a dwarven ghoul -- the reason for the small numbers is that the dwarves are segregated from the darkspawn, and they do not come into contact with the taint and live, generally.

As to broodmothers, dwarven broodmothers are the most common, they give birth to Genlocks.

It seems possible that the taint can be sped or slowed via magic. The taint is sped along through magic in The Stolen Throne, and Avernus is able to successfully slow it in DA:O. However, it is probably only possible via blood magic.
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