Thursday 20 July 2023

HoNK Rules! Character Building

 The following is a brief discussion of how characters are built in HoNK/ToNK. Character Classes are built using this system, as are 'classless' characters.

Character Building


Characters are built using Proficiency Points. Most of these points at first level are spent building the character Class but the character always has at least 10 free Proficiency Points to spend. You may not, however, ‘double up’ on any expenditures that your Class already grants


1 point of Proficiency can be spent gaining Proficiency in:

a weapon/attack style;

an armour type;

a shield;


3 points on a standard weapon group (such as light blades or medium hammers), or all shields, or an armour group*;


9 points on a full weapon group (all polearms, or all blades);


30 points for proficiency in all weapons;


8 points on all armours;


2-6 points for extra Vitality dice (2 for 1d6; 4=2d6; 6=3d6, 1 extra dice only if purchasing Vitality beyond 1st level):


5-15 points to gain a permanent bonus of 1-3 to a Specialty or a Skill (although there must be a limitation attached when applying a bonus to a Skill, see below). 5 points per point of bonus (e.g., 15 points for a permanent bonus of 3 - i.e., adding 3 to the target number - for Influence rolls, using the Specialty Haggle). If the bonus is conditional or limited (e.g., a bonus of 3 to Nature skill - Hunting, only in forests), the cost is reduced by 3 per point of bonus. This limitation must be significant, preventing the bonus from being applied in at least half of the likely situations. If a limitation is blatantly ridiculous or meaningless there is no discount.


4-8 points on a Magical Aptitude (access to a style of magic to a certain level);


6 points to increase a Skill Pool (this is known as a Boost) by 1 (once per Skill only);


9 points to purchase an extra Skill (Crafts cost 6 points; Vocations cost 8 points).


Characters gain 3 Proficiency Points per level above the first (these can be saved).


From 3rd level (Fighters, Gallants, Knights, Rangers, Berserkers, Paladins & Barbarians may do so at 2nd level) a character may spend 3 Proficiency Points (if they have them available) to gain a permanent +1 to all attacks with one weapon, combat maneuver or attack mode. Proficiency Points can be spent in this way no more than three times for a single weapon, combat maneuver or attack mode. This cost may be tripled to apply the +1 bonus to a standard weapon group. Proficiency points can only be spent in this way once for any standard weapon group, and cannot be spent this way for a full weapon group. Bonuses for standard weapon groups and individual weapons within that group do stack with each other.


 *Note that if you wish to buy proficiency in a weapon group, or armour group, or a Magical Aptitude, you must meet any prerequisites, such as having proficiency in at least one type of light armour before purchasing the chain armour group, or knowing Level 1 Witchcraft in order to learn level 2 Witchcraft


All characters begin with a Base Vitality score equivalent to their HT score plus 1d6.


There are 9 levels. Every second level (2, 4, 6 and 8), a character may attempt to increase an Attribute by 1. They must roll over the Attribute score on 1d20 to do so (they must exceed the number. Merely rolling equal is not enough). No Attribute may be boosted above 19 by this method.


Characters select their Class. This grants them a number of abilities: Skills, Proficiencies, Skill Boosts, Specialties, Weapon & Armour Proficiencies, Magical Access and access to a special Class-related Skill Pool.


Characters receive skills as per their Class. Each Skill has an associated pool of 4 points, which the character may apply on a 1-to-1 basis to increase the target number (or, in the case of Combat, add to the roll). This pool replenishes with rest, and increases by 1 every level (to a maximum of 13 or 15 for an Advanced Combat Pool).


Characters also begin play with 3 free Specialties (spent as preferred, such as a single +3, a +2 and a +1, or three +1 Specialties) over and above those they receive from their class. These are entirely the player’s choice, save for the fact that no limitations are permitted, and that Specialties already received due to Class cannot be improved (at level 1).


Characters may also purchase new skills from level 4, gaining a base pool of 3 points, which increases as normal (e.g., 3-point pool in a skill selected at 4rd level will increase to a maximum of 8, and so on).  There must be some sort of narrative justification for any skills chosen.


Advanced Combat (costs 18 points, pool = 8)

            Points may be spent in any way within a given round, and may be applied to any Attack roll, Active Defense, Initiative, any Combat Maneuvers, Wounding Strike checks.

Advanced Flexible Combat (costs 15 points, pool = 8)

            Points are allocated to either Offense or Defense each round. If nominating Offense, points may be applied to the Attack Roll, Initiative, Offensive Combat Maneuvers, Wounding Strike checks. If nominating Defense, points may be applied to Active Defense, Initiative, Defensive Combat Manuevers.

Simple Defensive Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points may be allocated to Initiative, Active Defense, Simple Defensive Maneuvers.

Simple Offensive Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points may be allocated to Initiative, Attack Rolls, Simple Offensive Maneuvers.

Simple Flexible Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points must be allocated to either Offense or Defense each round. If nominating Offense, points may be applied to the Attack Roll, Initiative, Simple Offensive Maneuvers. If nominating Defense, points may be applied to Active Defense, Initiative, Simple Defensive Manuevers.


You can only ever have access to one Combat Pool, although once you reach 3rd level, (2nd level if you are a Ranger, Berserker, Paladin or Barbarian) you can spend 9 points to upgrade any of the Simple Combat Pools to the Advanced Combat Pool or 6 points to upgrade to the Advanced Flexible Combat Pool, or 3 points to upgrade from Advanced Flexible Combat to Advanced Combat. If you bought a Boost for the previous Pool, this carries over to the Advanced Combat Pool, as do any level-related increases to that Pool.


Skills: (cost 9 points each unless otherwise specified)




Craft (costs 6 per Craft, pool = 3, no passive advancement)


















Vocation (costs 8 per Vocation, pool = 3, no passive advancement) 

Below is an example of a character class:


The Infernal Realms strive constantly to conquer and colonise the worlds of mortals, and the Diabolist is one of their mightiest servants, inserting themselves into all corners of civilization, and subverting or corrupting all that they find.


Skills: Arcana, Guile, Influence, Religion (cost: 36)

Boosts: Arcana, Guile, Influence (cost: 18)

Proficiencies: four light weapons (cost: 4)

Vitality Bonus: none

Specialties: +3 Demonology (15); +2 Diabolism (10); +1 Wizardry (5); +4 distributed between 2-4 Specialties in the Guile Skill (20); +1 Scholarship (5); +3 distributed between 2-3 Specialties in the Influence skill (15); +2 distributed between 1-2 Specialties in the Interaction skill (10).

Magical Access: Diabolism – Basic (cost: 8)

Free Points: 14

Class Talent: Fiendish Pool (10) Creates a 4-point pool (passive increase of 1 point/level, no boosts), that may be applied to any Spell casting, Countermagic, Conjury, Demonology, Diabolism or Insight check.

If the Fiendish Pool is full, all points may be expended to create a Demonfire Bolt, a ranged attack that does 1d6 Vitality damage per point in the Fiendish Pool, to a maximum of 6d6. The Bolt has range of 20’ (plus 5’ per point in the Fiendish Pool). A normal ranged Attack is required to strike with the Demonfire Bolt, and there is an attack bonus of +1 per point. Demonfire Bolt damage is magical and ‘unholy,’ and ignores ‘holy’ defenses, including Divine or Devotion Points applied to Active Defense. It cannot produce a Wounding Strike. If the damage dice roll produces 3 or more rolls of 6, the target must make a Magic Resistance check or have their alignment shifted by one factor towards that of the Diabolist (as per Conversion). Note that if the full Pool contains an odd number of points, the remaining point is nonetheless consumed by the Demonfire Bolt. If a Demonfire Bolt is used, the Pool is empty until replenished and cannot be recovered.

Fiendish Points can be used instead of Vitality points to power Diabolical spells.

The Fiendish Pool can be recovered by a normal Recovery check (Discipline), and replenishes once per day, assuming a period of full, undisturbed rest.

Monday 17 July 2023

HoNK Rules! Temperaments

 So I talked a bit about Temperaments as part of the character setup for HoNK a while ago: here is something of an elucidation of what they are, and a couple of examples.



Each character is deeply linked to one of the Eleven Elements that make up all of existence. The Elements are Air, Beast, Bough, Death, Earth, Fire, Life, Moon, Spirit, Sun and Water.  Every Element is expressed as a Temperament, as shown on the table below:


























The Temperaments


Each Temperament draws upon the metaphysical essence of its associated element: Choleric individuals are generally ‘fiery’, Phlegmatic folk tend to be flexible and easygoing, Inmitic people are often grim and stern, and so on. However, no individual is completely bound by their elemental essence: a Choleric character does not always lose their temper, attempt to take command of every situation and rush headlong into danger. Intelligence, training and experience can and do temper the expression of one’s elemental essence. In the following section, the generalities of each Temperament are outlined, along with their effect on Attribute scores, a stereotypical example of an individual possessing the Temperament and several, more complex examples illustrating the roleplaying and narrative potential of Temperament considered alongside Aptitude. 



One of the hardest Temperaments to pin down, the Aetheric individual is most closely linked with the element of Spirit - that nebulous force that powers the mind and binds and unifies magical effects. Aetheric types are generally very cerebral in their approach to life, often finding patterns that others do not (or that do not exist at all - the Aetheric individual must take care not to overthink). They treat others as types, due to their rather taxonomic view of people and things. They have a great respect for facts and a fear of the overly emotional - although this bias does not mean the Aetheric character has a mind any stronger than other types. In general terms, they are rather distant and hard to know (and often don’t care) and tend to overlook the health of their own bodies.


Modifiers: Characters with the Aetheric Temperament add +1 to Arcana and Lore checks, and +1 to Resistance checks against Spirit magic. They subtract 1 from their Fellowship score but add 1 to their Knowledge score.


Stereotypical Example: a smelly, slovenly, unhealthy sage, pursuing an arcane - and possibly pointless - interest with a passion that seems almost crazed.


Elaborations by Aptitude

Bravo - an alderwoman known for her mastery of legal procedure and efficient bookkeeping skills, but with a reputation as one not to be crossed: when not trouncing her targets with harsh rhetoric, she likes to bury her opponents in extremely abstruse legal claims, which she pursues with brutal persistence, accepting nothing but complete surrender.

Companion - a military surgeon attached to one of the better mercenary companies, whose rigorous approach to the healing arts has made him very effective. His bedside manner is somewhat awkward and aloof, although he is highly valued for his rather dispassionate approach to advice in matters of policy and strategy.

Priest - a temple historian with a passion for studying old heresies and a preference for the company of books over people. His patient researches - in addition to giving him a permanent cough due to excess inhalation of dust and reading mouldy scrolls - have deluded him with the belief that there is an underlying pattern to historical heresies that reveals the greatness of a hitherto undiscovered God, and that this God speaks to him in dreams (in reality he is the object of a Dream Demon’s attentions).

Technician - a minor daughter of a noble house, refusing to accept her designated future as drawing-room decoration and closeted broodmare, becoming a high-society poisoner with a sideline in demonology. She knows the names of several of the Epigones, and, thanks to her efficacious research techniques, is closing in on the true name of an Infernal Power.



Burdened (or liberated) by one of the most misunderstood of the Temperaments, the Inmitic individual is attuned to - and influenced by the essence of the most feared Element, Death (or, as might better describe it: Negation). Although these folk are typified as grim and pessimistic, this is not always, or even mostly so. Many folk use their understanding of, and feel for, the mortality of all things in an empowering way, whether to free themselves of undue attachments to transient things or to serve others in the face of the ultimate end. Some do not even consider Death as an enemy, viewing it instead as a necessary philosophical counterpart of Life and Being. Easily stereotyped, but often complex and compassionate, Inmitic folk are marked out by a general air of reserve, but whether this veils a spirit of malevolence or goodwill is by their own choice, not an inevitable consequence of their elemental nature. 


Modifiers: Characters with the Inmitic Temperament add 1 to Detection and Religion skill checks and Resistance checks against Death magic. They subtract 1 from their Appearance score and add 1 to their Piety score.


Stereotype: a gaunt and pale necromancer in an isolated tower, surrounded by grisly abominations of their own creation.


Elaborations by Aptitude

Adventurer - a daredevil acrobat and tightrope artist, constantly drawn to the greatest and most challenging risks, seeking an ever-closer embrace with death - yet also driven to affirm to all onlookers that with skill, calm and confidence, death can be successfully stared down, if only for a while. 

Companion - a young Novice of Adesh, born into a plague-ravaged region, who has turned her fear of death and disease to a positive end by providing quiet counsel and comfort to the grieving and the dying.

Rogue - a serf’s son in Lhanai, who has seen too many folk crushed under the brutal yoke of the decadent and brutal aristocracy there. Now, he stalks the chateaux of the nobility, delivering a painful end to those who thrive on oppression and exploitation. 

Stalwart – a Tiavesthan oracle, driven to near-madness by horrific communications from those poor souls tormented, slain and then raised as Undead by the Necromancers of Trukko, who now patrols the borders of that ill-omened land defending the scattered farmers and herders from the Undead that plague the region.




The elemental essence known to most as “Moon” - due to that luminary’s association with the forces at work - is one of change and mutability. It is associated with lycanthropy and faerie, and those who bear this Temperament often show the whimsical and wild nature of both. Lunar folk are unpredictable, emotional, self-indulgent and insightful, often showing a high degree of talent in artistic endeavours. They nonetheless represent a dynamic force in the world, as their ability to express themselves and strive against dangerous patterns of custom can lead to healthy progress - or chaotic revolt and collapse. Sometimes, both.


Modifiers: Characters with the Lunar Temperament add 1 to Deception and Expression checks and +1 to Resistance checks against Moon magic. They subtract 1 from their Concentration score and add 1 to their Receptivity score.


Stereotype: a wild-hearted animistic dancer, sporting and cavorting with wild Fey in moonlit forest glades.


Elaborations by Aptitude

Bravo - an Arinyaka magi, steeped in the ancient contemplative lore of the woods-folk but driven by inner, unaccountable voices to take on bestial powers and rage through the forest on moonless nights, striking down those who desecrate the wilds and using the blood so gathered to mend the blighted spirit of the damaged land.

Dandy - an Avronakiyan aesthete, born to a decadent merchant family of Old Throners, this somewhat enfeebled young man pursues a career as a poet, writing tormented and cryptic verse about the corrupt and cruel ruling class. Although he believes that his poetry is revelatory and, in some sense, rebellious (by holding a mirror to high society), it is actually magically contagious, deepening and nurturing any evil in those who read - and hear it.

Knave - a backstreet quacksalver, who happily fleeces the better-off people of her crumbling city, selling useless love potions, toxic cosmetics and soul-wracking drugs, using the money she makes to fund struggling musicians and artists, and blackmailing some of her high-class addicts to grant her proteges access to the clique-dominated aristocratic arts scene. 

Warrior - a Fighting-Monk sworn to Siakhara, this aged woman teaches dance to the miserable peasantry of the County of Kull, travelling the back ways where the Count’s representatives are seldom seen. As part of her teaching, her students learn basic martial techniques in unarmed combat, and her most promising pupils learn some of the ritual techniques that adepts of the Silver Dancer use to heal themselves and inspire others. She hopes that one day, when the time is right, her students will lead a revolt to remove the Count - a petty, if mostly ineffectual, tyrant - from rule.



Burdened by the weight and sobriety of the element of Earth, those who share in this elemental essence are often regarded as prone to despair at worst, cynical and pessimistic conservativism at best. Like all generalisations, this belief hides more than it reveals. Those of the Melancholy Temperament are among society’s most acute and effective critics, with an eye for finding flaws that few others even suspect. Even those who are the most correct and observant of norms and laws in their behaviour remain restless examiners of the world around them, constantly measuring the world they find against the world as it ought to be.


Modifiers: Characters with the Melancholy Temperament add 1 to Discipline and Interaction checks and +1 to Resistance checks against Earth magic. They subtract 1 from their Presence score but add 1 to their Perception score.


Stereotype: a sour old soldier, full of mistrust and engloomed by the memory of the shadow of war.


Elaborations by Aptitude

Adventurer - a doleful minstrel, disillusioned with endless tales of chivalry and romance, wandering the world skewering the higher orders with merciless wit, and carrying messages for the Conclave Against Thrones.

Mendicant - tired of witnessing the torments of the poor, this young nobleman has retreated into the wilds, where he cultivates stillness of mind and communion with nature, only to find himself defending the trees and beasts from the encroachments of civilisation.

Rogue - a Ferromancer who is ruthless in his search for the best means to enchant the weapons he makes so that they may be used effectively against the minions of the Hegemon of Thwarted Light that enslave so many of his people. 

Scholar – this studious lampwright’s daughter spends her days working with her father making fine lamps for the gentry and her nights researching magic that might reverse blindness.


Sunday 9 July 2023

South of Kambyra: The Plagued Island of Yerrunoch

 HEX 2


The Isle of Yerunnoch

This hex is mostly open water - although quite shallow. There are two major reefs where the Cowdray Shoals (Hex 1) draw near to the dominant feature of the hex, the small isle of Yerunnoch. This is a low-lying isle, oriented NNE-SSW. It is ellipsoid in form, some two miles long and a mile and a half wide at its widest point. It is anchored at either end by two hillocks: that at the NNE end is a grassy, treeless and windswept rise (attaining the lofty height of 100’) that ends in steep cliffs of crumbling loess. A mostly ruined lighthouse stands above the cliffs, and provides the best vantage on the whole island.

The northern coast consists, for the most part, of steeply shelved gravel beaches, whilst the southern shore is primarily rocky and treacherous, but for two shallow coves of rough sand. That at the southern end of the isle is partially sheltered by a large rocky outcrop (the second of the Isle’s two ‘heights’, a magisterial 80’), which glowers down on the meagre anchorage and a collection of crude but tidily-kept cottages where the thirty-seven islanders dwell in a hamlet that is simply called ‘Town’.

Most of the folk here survive by fishing, beachcombing and (in normal times) maintaining a few sheep and chickens across the rest of the island. Each cottage has a small vegetable patch, but the climate and salt-laden air tend to create small yields. Somewhat oddly, to those who come upon it in the normal way (by sea, from the south), the hamlet is protected on the landward side by a low fence of driftwood and fishing nets, fronted with a shallow but wide moat. Even more oddly is the fact that these rudimentary defences are patrolled at any time by three pairs of villagers, each wearing leather armour and armed with slings, long daggers and various pole arms (spears, harpoons and tridents, for the most part).

The reason for the defences is fairly obvious to anyone who actually sets down on the island anywhere outside of Town. The island has been overrun by giant vermin of various kinds, sent as something of an experiment by Khattriyuba (see Hex 7). This villainous renegade wishes to control the Malstedt Isles, and the first stage in his plans is to conquer Yerunnoch, Horn (Hex 5) and Zaar (Hex 6). The folk of these three islands have rejected Khattriyuba’s overtures and threats, previously considering him quite mad. Khattriyuba responded by sending out two rowboats laden with oversized vermin against Yerunnoch - the weakest and least defensible of the three.

The rowboats were grounded on the northern coast of Yerunnoch some four weeks before the commencement of this adventure, and the vermin quickly swept across the small island. Within two days, there was no livestock left outside of Town, and the villagers had - after driving off several oversized nasties - quickly erected their defensive structures. The rest of the island has been left to the vermin - many of which are now dead, having killed each other out of hunger once the livestock were consumed.

Nonetheless, several remain, most of which are beyond the ability of the villagers to deal with, other than to keep them away from Town. The following creatures remain, wandering the island (several others are detailed in particular locations):

1 Giant Bombardier Beetle Type: Vermin; Size: Medium; HD: 1 (hp 4); AC: 16; Attacks: bite (1d8); MV: 30’; Save: 16; INT: Non-; AL: N; NA: 1; XP/CL: 100/2; SA - acidic vapour (10’ cone, save or deafened and stunned 1 minute).

3 Giant Centipedes Type: Vermin; Size: Tiny; HD: 1/2 (hp 1, 2,2); AC: 11; Attacks: bite (1 + Poison II); MV: 50’; Save: 17; INT: Non-; AL: N; NA: 3; XP/CL: 50/1.

2 Giant Spiders (Hunter) Type: Vermin; Size: Medium; HD: 2 (hp 4, 8); AC: 14; Attacks: bite (1d6 + Poison II); MV: 40’ (30’ climb); Save: 16; INT: Animal; AL: N; NA: 1; XP/CL: 200/3.

A Giant Tick has set itself up in the ruins of the lighthouse, whilst a Storm Crab (one of Khattriyuba’s more able ‘lieutenants’) is menacing the north coast, and is considering moving to the southern coast and summoning up a storm to bewilder and demoralise the people of Town. The Storm Crab is a unique creature, born when a pirate ship was wrecked off the coast of Gelderi (Hex 9). Most of the crew drowned, including the captain - who clung to existence as a Draugr, only to be consumed by a Giant Crab. The result was some sort of unholy merging that resulted in a clever and cunning Giant Crab with the ability to affect the weather and a taste for the destruction of passing ships. Khattriyuba met this creature and promised it new opportunities for carnage, and it has - thus far - served him well.

Storm Crab Type: Monster; Size: Medium; HD: 4 (hp 14); AC: 18; Attacks: 2 claws (1d6 + constrict); MV: 20’ (10’ swim); Save: 14; INT: Average; AL: CE; NA: 1; XP/CL: 1800/6; SP - control weather (1/day); SD - resistance (fire).

Giant Tick Type: Vermin; Size: Small; HD: 3 (hp 13); AC: 16; Attacks: bite (1d4 + blood drain + disease); MV: 10’: Save: 15; INT: Non-; AL: N; NA: 1; XP/CL: 300/4.

Wolves of War: The Ulfarga for Blood & Treasure (& RMFRP)

  Ulfarga (Lupine Beastkin) Wild-hearted but honourable wolf-like humanoids, Ulfarga represent one of the largest populations of any Beastki...