Adamant Apex

4th edition

well, they did it.

They denied it for ages, now it’s official. 4th edition. Hmmm.


I’ve had a look at the insider stuff demo.. cool!

Magic System

What it needs:

A skill roll to cast. Modified by armour and things that would affect concentration. Probably scrap concentration. Chance of nasty failure. Probably not the simple “it does the opposite” of Iron Heroes.

In Conan terms your Adept level becomes your magic attack roll. This can actually be a neater way of describing power levels.

Schools or trees of abilities. Some might be limited by pre-requisites including magic attack bonus other simply by difficulty.

The question becomes, what can a person attain as a result of entry into this school, what do they use on a daily basis and what is the penultimate goal of this school?

For example, an alchemist gains the ability to identify and craft exotic materials. A sort of epic expansion to the craft skill. Then depending on bent he either cures or poisons folks, strengthens or weakens and transmutes materials. Finally he either manufactures a philosopher’s stone or a Frankenstein-like monster

The most diverse and powerful magically would have 4 skill points per level, poor attack bonus and good will save. 4 feats from lv @ 1st gives say familiar, scribe scroll and 2 spells.

A list of mechanics I'd like to have i

True 20 for classes, can use fantasy paths, even the creation methods if you want to tweak.

Mind you, having a look at the True20 magic system, it’s a bit flavourless and dodgy. But I think I can fix that. Even a vancian system isn’t too bad as long as there is flavor

OGL Ancients armour on top of defense- so if you don’t beat the “to hit” by the coverage number you get the appropriate damage reduction.

3 extra feats- Between the cracks: When you use a Piercing weapon with finesse you get to subtract 2 from coverage provided by your target’s armour

Slice the Armour When you use a Slashing weapon you add 2 to the damage you do to armour

Armour Optimisation Any time your armour is providing you with coverage against a weapon that is partially bludgeoning you add 2 to the coverage of your armour

Main changes in True20:- minor increase in feat progression and more starting feats for some classes. 2 more skill points per level. No Prestige classes. A strong emphasis on not multiclassing (there is total class building for those that can’t find a class that fits). Spells are feats.(sort of). Conviction replaces alignment and provides hero points. Even progression, better balance.

Not sure about heroic character arch-types. Seem to just provide some more uses for conviction and some differentiation of roles. Might need some more roles or different names.

Add Iron Heroes regional traits for humans only.

Permanent Magic: Iron Heroes “magical items” and Melnibone “demon-gear”, Weapons of Legacy, crafting of exceptional things from exceptional materials, charms-magical buildings-constructs and similar effects based on the will of the creator- the conan rule: the caster dies, the magic fails, alchemy.

Magic organized into schools based on local knowledge. Astronomy, Tarot + other divination, Alchemy, Summoning, Miracles, Turning, Rebuking, Necroscope, Telepathy, Possession/Binding/Spirit Channeling,

“Empire” realm system.

Monsters from Call of Cthulhu (as well as the basic ones)

There will be plenty of templates floating around that can be acquired based on diseases, curses, titles and mystical sites.

A bronze age, young races world, late Mesopotamia (Sorcerer King, Gilgamesh etc)

Early greek city states, some asian and conan influences (sort of Ancients Plus), a bit dark sun. Rather than “dragon kings” however we have a couple of Iron Kingdoms dragons, some titans, a demon prince, living priest god-king, lich, an epic minotaur, etc Also a bit Talislantia

Devils as a single truenaming race.

DnD pantheon + gith + devils + elder gods

Bronze is the basic gear Iron is generally masterworked, used for longsword and above sized blades. Some items such as a greataxe can be any materials. Iron also bends occasionally. Then there is steel, mithral, adamantite, red-steel, green star-metal and other really rare materials.

Flesh Wood Stone Bronze Iron Steel Mithril/Black Alloy Adamantite Laen Eog

Consequences of not having enough magical items

It occurred to me that a particular slanting of the DnD system occurs when you remove magical items- make them less common, remove the monstrous buff spells..

The raw blasting spells become a greater part of the PC damage dealing arsenal. Without magical enhancement bonuses to weapons plus bulls strength plus a belt of strength etc , the fighter only has a few points of attack bonus ahead of the mage. However, the mage is very fragile. Very. Without magical bracers, shield spell etc you are looking at a single digit of bonus.

With magical items the wizard has almost (maybe one more) the same number of spells. Perhaps he gets a caster lv bonus and he most certainly will have a higher stat making saves less likely

Further afield

Went and had a look at Amber diceless RPG and while reading reviews of it, it struck me that I was sort of contemplating something GURPS-ish. But GURPS always struck me as bland, un-inspiring, un-structured. So that would have to be something to avoid…

Maybe the settings books, which I never really read with the rules, solve that issue.


After some thought I have discovered that the aim of this page is to develop both setting ideas (recording relevant crunch as I go) and rules//structure.

It seems that Iron Heroes addresses a problem- the intrusion of magical items and spell buffs into the role-playing environment in DnD 3.5, where they have become something required by the system for balance as it stands.

Well. I agree this a problem. And a solution where the PC’s number’s get a bump adds drama and feeds the inner munchkin. And I agree that more feats provides character variables beyond classes. However. The bigger the numbers the slower the math. Sure stunts are a great idea. Skill groups however are maybe not so great. Magical items having drawbacks or being really rare. Tick. Not having to calculate whether the following stack

  • cloak of charisma
  • persistent eagles splendour
  • circlet of persuasion
  • motivate charisma aura
  • assist skill from another PC
  • skill focus diplomacy
  • 1/2 elf racial bonus
  • persuasive
  • honeyed tongue (from urban vestige)
  • collar of diplomacy (add +5 to a skill like boots do to move silently)

...I mean really…if they do stack that’s an effective +31 to the skill.. mind you that would be a marshal 1, binder 7 but hey..

Character Construction
free-form character

This is a little thought about how character construction might avoid all the unbalancing issues and associated garbage of splat-book creep while allowing access to any type of character

First the player produces 2 paragraphs of description of the character with 3 concepts embedded to describe the character’s attributes

concepts might be-
  • fast moving
  • Brimming with wrath
  • arcane casting
  • A well of peace & serenity
  • steeped in necromancy
  • physically toughened
  • schooled in transcendental meditation
  • heavily armoured
  • quiet and un-obtrusive
  • filled with holy radiance

It would be possible to ascribe the “ludicrous” or “insanely” modifier to one of these concepts per character to push them to their limits, however the character will need to be balanced, obviously. The Flash and the agents in the matrix are insanely fast for example.

then the GM asks a qualifier: this is a sort of limiter –so the character is superbly skilled with a sword- not other weapons? And did he get that skill on the battle field or in a training hall? Generally examining how a character arrived at those capabilities will limit them. Generally 2 questions with 2 options each.

After reviewing the qualifier the GM poses the balancer: so your character has gained a peak of skill with swords and a few other common weapons due to constant exposure to a hostile environment where he/she has had to fight for life on a daily basis- so it would be fair to say that your character has not the skills to negotiate peaceful resolutions and has such little social influence in the wider scheme of things as to be constantly on the “front line” and in fact has been a merciless if lucky killer for a decade, his/her hands soaked in blood, having given little thought to change or redemption for endless murders at someone else’s orders…

The GM then assesses the choices and either asks for a set of example stats or submits a draft d20 set of stats. These are aimed at a mid range ECL/CR 10 however the actual bonuses may go off heavily in one direction or another. The player then berates the GM and the stats get a concessional bump :)

By stats this includes hit points, save bonuses, touch armour class, with appropriate descriptors of where the bonuses come from- ie a +2 profane bonus to will saves, a +1 insight bonus to armour class. Trying to avoid un-named bonuses.

Comments suggestions ideas rotten tomatoes?


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