Presentation

Posted: May 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Introduction | Comments Off on Presentation

The Lost Roads of Lociam is a fantasy roleplaying game set in the fictitious world of Lociam, where the forces of Order can Chaos battle for supremacy.
The mortal races, championed by the numerous human peoples, are constantly struggling to survive as these diametrically opposed forces clash all around them. Neither Order nor Chaos can directly act upon Lociam, so they influence the mortal races to fight for them. Seas churn and skies burn as the champions and armies of Order or Chaos engage in war after war. When the world was created Order had the upper hand, but as time has worn on, so has the defenses of Lociam eroded under the relentless assault of Chaos, and Chaos can now project and make manifest demons, mortal projections of its power, into the world.

The struggle has had a magnificent by-product; magic seeps through everything, and nearly all living things can use magic in one form or another, ranging from a scholarly wizard able to transform his (or someone else’s) physical form as he wishes, or hurl streams of fire from his fingertips, all the way down to a carpenter able to mend his tools with a simple touch and a focused thought. Even plants and rocks contain a small measure of magic, and carefully studied, craftsmen and alchemists can extract this magic into wondrous things.

The creators of the mortal races have not abandoned them in their struggle to survive. The gods are part of everyday life for the devout, and they can pray to their deity for advice, support or a miracle. Some are even elevated to higher standings, able to make manifest the will of the god they champion.

The humans of Lociam are divided into nine races, spread across all of the known world, and they have taken it from the older races that used to rule it. The humans now number greater than most other sentient creatures combined, and their many kingdoms reach across entire continents. They form communities, realms and congregations, expand and explore, invent and toil, war and marvel at the world they inhabit.


Bound into kingdoms modeled on the First Kingdom founded now almost fifteen hundred years ago, humans now strive to uphold a higher standard then they once did. Gone are the darker ages of slavery and oppression, and now, under the guidance of their churches and rules, human kingdoms flourish and grow more powerful with each passing year.

Nearly all humans have an active faith, and while some practice it with a greater devoutness than others, the powers of the gods are not to be denied on Lociam. They are very real indeed, and their influence reaches far. The most powerful religious organizations among humans is the Salvation-church, founded by a near-mythical human over thirteen centuries ago, walking the land to stop an all-consuming war which was raging at that time. This church has formed cathedrals and congregations everywhere, and one of the mightiest cities known to man is formed around the very mausoleum of the fallen savior.

Not all of the older races are gone from the world of Lociam. Hidden away in their secret realms can still be found elves; immortal keepers of nature, dwarves; tempered fury with cunning crafts, and the animal-peoples; half form of each realm. Trolls still wander the back roads, and giants can be found in the high hills. Rumors of dragons stirring mingle with tales of new horrors; demons of chaos, walking dead and giant beasts that would feast on a human should they encounter them. The vigil of the humans of Lociam is never ending.

Lociam is a world of a million opportunities, if one is cunning, courageous, crafty or conniving enough. Groups of adventurers seeks their fortune in far-away lands, and bring home both riches uncounted and stories almost too impossible to believe. Some study their entire lives to perform a task for their church or king, while others just leave their homely hearth to seek glory or gold in foreign lands. Some are strong of arms, others carry magic to blast or smooth out opposition. Epic tales of adventurers are handed down generation to generation, inspiring many young folk to seek their fortune away from their homelands.

This, is the world of Lociam, where the Lost Roads are found, and traveled.

The Lost Roads of Lociam is a fantasy-roleplaying game built on a sturdy and very flexible rules-engine using the hundred-sided dice (D100). It has been scaled back to be as small as possible, and not get in the way of play, while still able to handle diverse situations that player-characters can get into.

The Core Rulebook contains everything you need to start playing, and this Core set is then possible to expand with later publications, including adventures, background-material, new rules and epic campaigns.

Character creation is large and varied, where random chance is combined with choices to let you form an interesting character. Parts of the character creation can be done a few different ways, to give you more or less control over how the character forms. It is all up to the players and gamemaster. The skills-chapter details all the normal skills of the game, ranging from the mundane searching and climbing, stabbing and sneaking, to the exotic, such as the age-old magical language and higher magic, as well as meditation, the ability to foretell the future, and lots more.

The next chapter is on game mechanics, detailing the rule-engine for the game, movement, spotting hidden things, breaking open doors, persuading people, getting scared, all the good things that can happen to you during the course of the game.

We then get to the combat-chapter, which handles timing-issues, how to land a punch, how to evade one, damage, armor, healing and a lot more. The entire system is designed and built to be quick enough to not take up the entire evening’s of play, but still deadly enough for players not to get into combat lightly.

Magic comes next, and it contains the general rules for magic, as well as a listing of the so-called “Lower Magic” learned as many other professional skills, depending on your chosen path of education. Then follows the five first Spheres of Higher Magic, used by those that devote real studies to the use of magic. There are more spheres in later publications as well.

Then we are at religions and gods. This chapter contains rules for prayers, offerings and such, and then a listing and description of the nine most common human faiths on Lociam. Each description comes with a chapter from the religious text, a sermon or lesson from that religion as well.

This is followed by a chapter on the human races of Lociam, known as “The Second People”. The chapter contains some of their history, their differences and their similarities. The human races of Lociam are diverse, even though they all stem from the same ancestry, they gain strength from their diversity, as the races band together.

Once the humans have gotten their time in the spotlight there is a chapter on the the other creatures of Lociam; a collection of monsters that can be encountered in the wild. More monsters will follow in later publications as well, along with articles about other sentient creatures like the elves, dwarves and animal-people as well as the mortal half-demons. This chapter also details a lot of gear, weapons, armor, services, and a lot of other equipment, everything an adventurer could ever need. This is accompanied by some rules on carrying heavy loads and how money works.

The rulebook is richly illustrated by a diverse collection of artists and contains several optional rules to make the game more interesting, without being vital to running the game itself.

The game has been playtested by hundreds of players worldwide, and while the rules work, there is always room for improvements, and in later publications the game will expand, including more races, more magic, more monsters and more adventure. For a start the first adventure; “Lights in Old Houses”, is available on the page right now, for free.

Welcome to the Lost Roads of Lociam.


Rules

Posted: May 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Introduction | Comments Off on Rules

Originally the rules for the Lost Roads of Lociam were far from uniform and a bit of a mess. With revisions being made the rules were streamlined and simplified, and finally made into a bit more of a cohesive whole.

The base of the rules-engine is the hundred-sided die, or the D100. This is normally rolled with two ten-sided dice (D10), with the darker one being the multiple of ten and the lighter one the single digit (so that the dark die landing on 8 and the lighter on 4 would result in an 84 and so on). The D100-test is used for all skill-tests, all basic attribute-test and a lot more. There are some exceptions, but using two ten-sided dice you can get through all of them.

Attributes for humans are rolled with 2D10 (rolling two dice and adding the results together) meaning that the attributes range from 2 to 20. The values obtained for the eight attributes are then used to calculate attribute-rolls which are used when no skills can be applied to a certain situation, like breaking up a door or spotting a lie when you get told a fib.

Player characters have eight attributes

  • Strength – reflects the physical strength of a character. Feats like breaking up doors and lifting heavy loads are dependent on this attribute.
  • Dexterity – This attribute describes how nimble and coordinated a character is. This is used for such things as stacking card-houses or undoing a knot you have tied in your pocket with only one hand.
  • Speed – This is fairly simple; a measure of the physical speed and reactions. When a character is involved in a contest of reaction (like the hand-slapping game) or when you want to try to grab a snake before it bites you.
  • Constitution – is a measure of the physical endurance of the character, stamina, resistances to disease, exposure and pain. When you want to stay away all night or engaging in long-distance running this is the attribute to test against.
  • Wisdom – This attribute is all about the smarts and knowledge of the character. It is not about intelligence or problem-solving, only about information the character has gathered. T is used to determine what is the best place to make a campfire (“I wonder if this will result in the fire spreading”) or which material best used for a blanket (“This fiber is loosely stitched, but it might attract the damp”) for instance.
  • Perception – Is also fairly simple; it is all about the senses of the character, sharpness of eye and general alertness, for instance. You can use this to spot a lie when you get it told to you, or recognizing a single in a crowd speaking all at once.
  • Charisma – Charm, weight of personality and talents of persuasion are all included in this attribute. When you want to intimidate someone or bluff them, this is the attribute you test against.
  • Mana – The final attribute is that of magical power. It is used as a base for a character’s magical talent, reservoir of magical energy and resistance to magic used against him/her. It is used for a few different magical tests, including magical perception and resistances.

These are used to calculate secondary attributes like movement-rate, initiative, alertness and a lot more.

Then there are some tertiary attributes, which reflect the player’s interaction with the character. One of these are Karma; the favor the character has with his/her chosen deity, used to check if a prayer is answered or a miracle performed. Another is Common sense, which fills in the gaps in knowledge between the character and the player (naturally, a character will know more about the world he/she lives than the player who only plays a game in the same world every once in a while).

Combat in the game is divided into rounds, where the speed of the character and his/her combat-experience factor in in determining the order of actions in that round. The order is then followed down the turn. Each combat-action (like the swing of a sword for instance) has a roll to see if it hits, another to see if the target manages to get out of the way or block it in some way, a roll to check how bad the damage is, and finally, if the target has a suit of armor, checking if this mitigates some of the damage. With only four principal rolls to make per action, the pace can get high enough to impart the feeling of a quick and deadly conflict, which adds to the excitement.
The tide of battle can be turned with a few good rolls, and can be very deadly. For a player character is is a lot easier to get knocked out than killed though (heroes tend to get knocked out rather than killed, whereas henchmen and monsters die like flies). This keeps the combats interesting, and as natural healing is slow when not augmented by magic, one has to think both once and twice before getting into an armed scrape. An arrow from a longbow, for instance, if it hits, is not avoided or mitigated by armor will knock most anyone out, and the same goes for a good solid bash with a big mace, or the stomp of a 3-meter troll’s massive foot. To quote one of the playtesters; “Incapacitated does not mean decapitated, but once incapacitated it is hard to defend yourself against anyone’s intentions of taking your head off.”
The combat rules also include rules for such diverse situations as drowning, falling, fire, natural disasters, poisons and starvation.

The magic rules have been streamlined to minimize the number of rolls, both for Lower magic (which is part of most everyone’s professional education) and Higher magic (which is the more complex arcane art used by magicians and others that study it in more depth). The magic rules are mostly concerned with these two kinds of magic and with rules for spotting/sensing magic nearby. These are dependent on the innate magical talent of a character, both for their type and range.
Lower magic is learned as part of a character’s education; thieves have one kind, warriors another, traders a third, and so on. If you want to learn more magic you can study the entire “package” of another education, and, depending on your talent, master some or all of them.
Higher magic is divided into Spheres, each concerned with a specific topic. The Core Rulebook contains five Spheres; Change, Fire, the Body, Water and Wind. In this game you do not learn one spell at a time, but an entire Sphere at a time. However, that is not enough. You also have to study the magical language Arcane, and the greater your proficiency in this language the more effects of the Sphere will you be able to use. You can therefore have a character with a great deal of study and time invested in a Sphere and able to only do a few of its effects (but succeeding more often than not) because of his poor training in Arcane, whereas if the positions are reversed, the magician would know a lot of the Sphere’s effects, but fail on most attempts to use them due to lack of training in the actual Sphere.
Lower magic is commonly quick, immediate and low-powered; useful in situations you get into in your professional life, but not more. Higher magic, on the other hand, can literally move mountains, given enough study, preparation, energy and time. The quicker and more subtle the effect, the lesser power can be used through it, normally. Higher magic is divided into Thoughts (which require no vocal component to take effect), Spells (which require speech and moving of arms), Runes (which you have to write down) and Rituals (which can take hours of chanting). The more powerful effect, the more energy the magic will claim from the user.

The rules for religions govern what sort of things certain deities consider to be good offerings, rules of conduct and traditions, along with how prayers and miracles work. Prayers are rolled with 2D10 rather 1D100, adding a character’s Karma, to overcome a difficulty; the greater the favor asked of the deity the higher the result must be. Asking for your god to make you a copper coin so that you don’t starve a devout follower can succeed with about four tries out of five. However, the same follower asking for the god to make him/her a private floating island would take a month of prayer and fasting, a suitable offering and a one in one hundred roll.

The rules are easy to learn, and there are examples to the more complex rules in the rulebook itself. In addition to this, there are several examples on the homepage, of both character creation and combat, to walk you through the process, and make it even easier to learn.


FAQ

Posted: May 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Introduction | Comments Off on FAQ
  1. Why did you write this?
  2. Where can I get hold of this game?
  3. Is the game done?
  4. How do I participate in this project?
  5. How do I get up-to-date information regarding this project?
  6. Where are the [insert favorite race/monster/magic here]?
  7. What do I do if I find an error in the game or on the page??
  8. How do I get in touch with you?

Q: Why did you write this?

A: I wrote (and I am still writing) this game because it is the kind of game I would like to play, that I would love for someone else to have written. I have tried to stay as true to my vision of the world and the rules as possible, while making it a playable game. You can read more about all of this in the Design-part of this page.

Q: Where can I get hold of this game?

A: You can order it through this homepage, I put it up on eBay from time to time, some hobbystores carry it (but very very few) and if you visit a Roleplaying-convention I am attending I am likely to have set up a table selling it there too.

Q: Is the game done?

A: Yes and no. The Core ruleset is done, and you can buy it here. However, the game is far from done, and there is a lot more of it to come. You can read a bit about it in the Future-part of the page.

Q: How do I participate in this project?

A: I am always on the lookout for new talent to add to this project. Particularly I am looking for skilled illustrators that would not mind drawing a few of the pictures for the upcoming expansions and adventures. If you are interested in joining in you can email me.

There are other things you can do to help as well, and these will be posted as the openings appear; playtesters, writers, artists, coders and a lot more.

Otherwise you can donate a buck or two to the project, as it has no corporate backing, and relies solely on the author’s funds to get off the ground.

Q: How do I get up-to-date information regarding this project?

A: The best way is to keep an eye on this page, but you can also join our Facebook-page as it gets updated with all major happenings. There you can also connect to other fans of the project.

Q: Where are the [insert favorite race/monster/magic here]?

A: The game is still growing, and while I would have loved to include everything that Lociam has to offer in the Core rules it would simply have been too much to read or play with at once. The Core rulebook would have been a thousand pages long, which would have been too much. However, there are several planned expansions, and more information coming out, and if there is something you feel is missing please feel free to ask.

Q: What do I do if I find an error in the game or on the page??

A: The forums are the best way to go about it, as it gets monitored reguarly. This page also has a webmaster, but mailing there can leave you filed with all the spam it gets, so the forums are recommended.

Q:How do I get in touch with you?

A: The best way is to register on the forums and send a message to Rasmus over the private messages. If you are unable to you can mail “webmaster (squiggly) lociam.com”


Design History

Posted: February 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Introduction | Comments Off on Design History

Designer’s Notes

A lot of things have been asked about the work I have made called ”Lost Roads of Lociam”. I thought I would answer some, and expand on a few points. As more questions arise I will attempt to explain my reasons behind them as well.

Why did you write this?

Well, I have always liked roleplaying games, and have always been fascinated by the challenge, the interaction, the stories and the twists in the game-mechanics, rules and settings that come with them. I have always felt compelled to try to make some improvements to some of the games, adding an article here and there, and adjusting a rule where I find it is missing. For instance I have written several articles, adventures, monsters, texts, campaigns and alternative rules for “Vampire – the Masquerade”, “Middle-Earth Roleplaying”, “GURPS” as well as several Swedish systems of roleplaying, like “Drakar och Demoner”, “Eon”, “Mutant” and a few others. It is something I enjoy doing.

I have been writing roleplaying-games since I started playing back in 1982, and most of them were really bad. They were loose ideas that I tried putting on paper. Back in 1990 I started on a game I called Silent Fighters, a really bad idea about aliens and magic and all sorts of things. I quickly abandoned the idea for the world, but parts of the rules stuck with me. I started reworking the world, and expanding on the rules. This leads us into the design history that I will elaborate further on later.

I have played a lot of games, and found some things lacking from them, things I felt were needed to make a good game.

Why? What’s wrong with [insert favourite game here]?

Nothing, I guess, but I have felt some things missing from a few games, and I really wanted to make sure they were part of something fresh that I could get to play, or maybe even share with someone else. I also never truly liked games based on books or movies, as they were too “set” for me. I wanted freedom to explore.

1. In most fantasy-worlds there are plenty of monks, priests, churches and religions around, but being written largely by people who have no faith themselves, or trying to be politically correct and not offend anyone, they really don’t do much. Except for the occasional “hunt and kill” the gods make a very small or no appearance at all in most fantasy-games. You get to kill some, but they don’t affect the people on the farms. I always thought this was odd. Why would the communities support the churches if they did nothing in return? They can’t all be secular landowners, can they?
This game has active gods. You can sit down and pray to them, and sometimes they will answer. About one time in one hundred if you are not a devout follower, and a lot better if you are a faithful. Even a farmer can get rain if he prays, and a hero can conjure an angel when one is most needed. Gods play an active, but not personal, part in the game.

2. In most fantasy-games magic is something reserved for the select few. A special caste of characters or people is able to use magic, whereas most others are barred from it. This was always such a shame, I thought. In a high-magic world, or a magic-rich world, magic should be something natural for most beings to use. So magic, in this game, is for virtually everyone. Some trolls and animals are not clever enough, but the average carpenter, city-guard or mayor-clerk will have some magical skills at least. Then there are some who specialise in magic, and grow more powerful, of course. But few are barred from magic, and most can learn it, if they have the time and energy to spare.

3. I never liked the big complicated combat-rules. When people fight in roleplaying-games all the elaborate tables for hitting, wounding and saving show up, and it slows the action to a trickle. I thought this was a shame as well. This game has exactly one table to keep track of. The rest are skillrolls, and basic math. If you want to you can add modifiers and optional rules, but the basic system is really quite simple. It is also pretty dramatic, and deadly. If you get in a fight chances are you are going to wind up hurt. That’s part of the deal. If you want to hurt someone else you have to stake your own skin on it.

Now that we have covered the three basic things I wanted to address, we might as well get to some of the smaller points as well.

4. Why are there always big monsters available everywhere as opposition for the player-characters? Is there not enough evil in the human heart to make good bad guys? The movie “Willow” was such an astounding example of how this could work that I cut out most of the monsters from the basic game, and left the humans in there. There are some monsters in the basic adventures, there needs to be; this is a fantasy-world, but most of the antagonists are humans, just like the characters are.

5. Most games cannot handle “ordinary life ™” at all. The skills of a normal hunter or farmer can’t fit into the scheme of things, with heroes and magicians running around as player-characters. I thought this a great shame, and have proven that even blacksmiths make great heroes (right Stig?) and that they can go back to their forge and make a few more horseshoes after saving the kingdom. The rulesystem is designed to hold up to the pressure of ordinary life, so that fishermen can be fishermen, and carpenters can be carpenters, as it were.

6. Finally, a few games I have seen out there try to be too big at once. They try to encompass everything you might possibly every need, and in the process grow utterly unwieldy. The core rulebook for this game is really slim, and streamlined, outlining the things you need to start playing and inventing stuff on your own, not every conceivable rule you might need for every situation, nor hordes of monsters, or detailed descriptions of loads of races to play. There will be more information of that sort in the adventures and expansions. This is not a marketing-trick either; it’s not like I am trying to get you to buy more stuff (even though I would appreciate it if you did), but if you read the Design-history below you will find that this game was once far too massive to actually play. Better make it leaner and playable, than “complete” and utterly impossible to enjoy. The elves are coming, but they are not in the core rulebook. The same goes for the illusionists, and demon-spawn (for those of you who want to play bad-guys), and a lot of other things. A lot will also be given out free on the web as the project progresses.

Design-history
Here is a small note on the “evolution” of the game. This moves from a simple form to a better, hopefully a more complete version has only been possible through the tireless work of all my playtesters, even those not mentioned in the credits. I thank you all.

  1. The first version of this game was “Silent Fighters” and never got completed. It was all of 16 pages when it was abandoned. Good riddance. This was in late 1990, as I recall.
  2. I tried my hand at “Silent Fighters” again, and completed it at a staggering 26 pages. It was still mostly rubbish.
  3. The third try at “Silent Fighters” was, believe it or not, a slimmed version, but included religions for the first time. 16 pages.
  4. Fourth try was in Swedish, and was called “Solgård” which is pretty close to “Solar Halo” but not quite. It was 60 pages and had twice as many races and monsters as any other version. It still had some big flaws, and not even the sci-fi version of the game corrected those. We are now up to 1994-1995.
  5. Now the game changed a bit, and turned back to English in “Roads of Xiam” (this was before I figured out Xiam is an alternate spelling for the old name of Thailand). This was a whopping 160 pages of text, packed with things, like twice the number of skills, triple the magic, a total of 26 religions and a lot more. It was terrible to read or find anything in.
  6. I never knew when to stop. The sixth try was even bigger. It was 167 pages of smaller text, adding more and more contents. It was now spiralling out of control. It had over two hundred magicforms in total, as well as 53 races to choose from.
  7. The seventh version, 1996-1997, added a few more skills, but didn’t much improve things overall. A lot of mistakes were corrected, but even more new ones were added.
  8. By the middle of 1997 the eight version, now named “Lost Roads of Lociam” was a massive tome of 253 pages of pure text, and included far too much material to possibly be playable by anyone but myself. No one else could grasp the thing. It had nearly 300 forms of magic, over 80 playable races, nearly 50 monsters roaming the lands, and a lot of other confusing bits.
  9. Version nine was still a tome, now 261 pages with some basic layout and still not a single illustration. It had much of the basic rulesystem we have today, but it was just far too big to manage.
  10. In 1999 version ten was ready. It was just 107 pages, as I had decided to make a lot of the material into expansions rather than try to cram it all into a single volume. It was slimmed down but still missing a few key ingredients compared to what we have now. Still, for instance, magic was learned one spell at a time rather than in spheres. This made magicians terribly weak, even the good ones like the playtesters tried they hands with.
  11. The eleventh version was the first with the magical spheres, and was 108 pages thick. It had still to face one of its worst tests to date though; Santa Claus.
  12. By version 12, in 2001, playtesting was progressing weekly, and more and more bugs and flaws were discovered in every adventure. I had begun drafting the expansions at this time, but the system had still some basic mechanical flaws. One of the playtesters, nicknamed “Santa Claus” which is a pun in Swedish I suspect few of you will get, had troubles getting through the math of the game, particularly when testing attributes in gameplay. At first this was discounted as an error on her part (yes, Santa Claus is a she) but I soon realised this was a key to improvement. By streamlining the system into containing nearly exclusively D100-rolls the game was smoother and better. Thanks for that, Santa Claus. The manuscript for this version I gave to my brother-in-law, hoping he would test it out further with his groups, but he is a lazy bugger sometimes and I kept testing as I proceeded to the 13th version.
  13. Now we are up to 2003, and version 13. This was about as well as I thought I was going to get it, and I started asking around for illustrations, and illustrators. The feedback I got was very positive, and after some tweaking, a few very long delays, and some bouts with inactivity and other projects, this is now the version that is going to print. The material from that 261-page tome is now split into expansions and expansions-to-be and will be printed as well, later on. The game has been playtested by a total of playtesters exceeding a hundred, in multiple settings and adventures, some of which will turn into printed works for you all to enjoy, and others better forgotten.
  14. This version, version 14, is what I hope to present to you all. It is in essence just a re-formatted version 13 with some more kinks ironed out, and some additional planning and expansions changing the order of some articles in adventures and supplements. The current version, 14.2 is version 14 with some errata smoothed out, correcting mostly errors in typesetting for the printing and some minor errata and typos handled.

I hope you enjoy the game, as I have enjoyed bringing it this far. It is all up to you now to see how the game develops from this point on.