Friday, May 10, 2013

Search, Swim, Telepathy, Tracking

Search skill uses vision, touch and vibratory sense to identify hidden opponents or terrain features. Unlike a surprise or initiative check (p.24) which is passive (the DM rolls the die), a searching player must declare intent, then wait for DMs acknowledgment before rolling the die and obtaining a result.  Searching is an active process and consumes all of a character’s attention, he must stop his searc if he desires to converse, fight, flee or use another skill. Sometimes search checks are an opposed roll; the   PC compares his result to opponent’s infiltrate check.

      This skill is used to detect hidden or concealed objects.  It usually takes 1 xat to search a 1 ad by 1 ad by 1 ad map square or a complex object such as chest, desk, etc.).  Successful use of search skill also allows you to detect and bypass traps.   Walking within 5 sofads of a trap has a 50% chance of triggering most traps (pits, crossbows, etc.), while actively searching for traps has an 84% (5 in 6) chance of triggering a trap. 

     DC for searching for traps is reduced two if searching with bare hands, but searcher will always be affected by triggered taps.  If character is searching with a crowbar (1sc, 2#) or the proverbial 10 foot pole (3bc, 8#), there is only a 66 % or 33% chance, respectively, that a triggered trap will hit the searcher.  If you roll a natural -1- when searching then either the hand or the item in hand is crushed  (d4 damage) or shattered (p.48).

 10        detect a routine trap or  pit 
 12       find a secret door
 15       find and avoid a challenging trap       
 20       explosive runes, glyph, symbol, etc.
 25       find a ‘needle in a haystack’
 30       master work trap                                            

            A second successful search throw allows a criminal (only) to disarm, disable or reset a mechanical lock, trap or device placed by another.

“At first I could see nothing, but presently I caught a glimpse of a bit of smooth and glossy green moving amongst the scarlet and purple of the vegetation.  Motioning Woola to remain quietly where he was,          I creep forward to investigate, and from behind the bole of a great tree I saw a long line of the hideous green warriors of the dead sea bottoms hiding in the dense jungle beside the road. There could be one explanation.  The green men were expecting an exodus of a body of red troops from the nearest city gate, and they were lying in ambush to leap upon them.”            (WM VI)



SWIM  skill measures the capacity to move and float in water or liquid. Characters with high swim skill rank are well versed with marine life and are trained to avoid drowning, exhaustion and hypothermia. Typical DC for swim skill are: 

   9                calm water
  12               rough water
  15               stormy water
  20               quick sand              

            A character must make a swim check every xat he is in the water. If successful, swim movement per round is 1/3rd normal land speed.  If a character fails his swim skill check by five or more, he has begun to drown. If a character is drowning or intentionally chooses to stay below the surface, he will take drowning damage once he is out of breath.                 A character can hold his breath under water in combat or other stressful activity for a number of rounds equal to his Constitution score. This duration is multiplied by d4 if prepared, undisturbed and if purposely conserving energy/ air. 

Damage for drowning is 1 hit point per round without air.  As long you do not go into negative hit points, drowning damage is non-lethal and heals at the rate of one hit point per xat (simulated) of rest.

Unless they have technological or magical assistance (i.e.,  ethereal), characters fighting in water/ liquid add AP to attack roll.  When fighting in liquid, characters roll d12 to hit (instead of d20) adding the standard attack modifiers and also add their Armor Penalty and swim skill rank to this result.  Damage inflicted by all non-piercing weapons is halved.   Swim skill does not affect weapon damage rolls.

i.e., Roo Tan is 4th  level warrior who has STR score of 15 (+1), is  wearing a fiber (AP is  -1) and has a swim skill rank of two (+2);    If  he is attacking in or underwater with +1 saber; attack is d12 + 7 (4 + 1 -1 +2 +1) and damage inflicted is half the sum of d6 +1.

            Not only does a swimming character add his AP to Swim check die roll, he also subtracts the square root of the mass (#) of additional carried equipment.

     i.e., Roo Tan is dressed in fiber armor (AP -1) and carries 12# of other gear (SQ*RT of 12 = 3.4)  He steps into quicksand; his  Swim check penalty for armor & equipment is four (-4= -1 -3).  He does not have time to get out of his fiber armor so if Roo Tan drops all his stuff except his dagger (1#), THEN his total penalty to the d20 roll is one     (-1 = -1 -1).  Had he decided to keep his 3# saber instead THEN his total penalty to the d20 roll would have been three (-2 = -1 –1.7, rounding fractions normally). 

“Before the last company filed from the chamber the water was ankle deep, and that the men were nervous was quite evident.  Entirely unaccustomed to water except in quantities sufficient for drinking and bathing purposes the red Martians instinctively shrank from it in such formidable depths and menacing activity.  That they were undaunted  while it swirled and eddied about their ankles, spoke well for their bravery and discipline.”                           (GM XXI)

TELEPATHY skill measures the ability to communicate without sensory perception.   In addition to the ability to ‘read minds’, telepaths also have control over their own mental machinery so that they can block others who try to read their minds without permission. Telepathy is not available to Black Pirates or Yellow Martians. 


  9          mood or disposition
 12        simple thoughts or instructions
 15        complex thoughts or instructions      
 18        motives or desires     
 21        deep secrets or espionage

 +1   per ad of distance between beings
ADD  half target’s wisdom score if ‘blocking’    _

“This power is wonderfully developed in all Martians, and accounts largely for the simplicity of their language and the relatively few spoken words exchanged even in long conversations. It’s the universal language of Mars, through the medium of which the higher and lower animals of this world of paradoxes are able to communicate to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the intellectual sphere of the species and the development of the individual.”                        (PM  VII)



TRACKING skill is checked once per haad or every time the trail becomes difficult or crosses a canal or highway.  A slight impression in the ground, a drop of blood or a discarded ornament; these are potentially valuable clues when pursuing or chasing an adversary or hunting game -   the DC for tracking skill is based upon the  type of terrain traversed.

  9           wet mud, snow, crops, loose stones
 12          dry mud, forest, hills,  damp surface
 15          ochre moss, polished surface
 20          solid rock, interior or tiled floors     


Tracking characters move at normal walking speed, sample DC modifiers:


    +1    Every zode since trail made
    +2    Fog or snowing (poles)
    +3    for each zode of rain (forests)               
    +4    Moonlight, dawn, dusk   
    +5    Tracked party covers trail  
    +6    Dark or moonless night                       
-1                 per 3 beings in tracked group
-2                 thoats or zitadars in tracked group
-3                 tracked party contains captives or spies
    -4                 using a calot to help you track    _        

                “A soft purr like that of a great cat, indicated that Woola understood, and then, with a word to him to follow, I turned to the right along the ledge, but scarcely had I done so that I felt his mighty fangs tugging at my leathern harness.”

“As I turned to discover the cause of his act he continued to pull me steadily in the opposite direction, nor would he desist until I had turned about and indicated that I would follow him voluntarily.

“Never had I known him to make an error in a matter of tracking, so it was with a feeling of entire security that I moved cautiously in the huge beast’s wake.  Through Cimmerian darkness he moved along the narrow ledge beside the boiling rapids.”    (WM II)

Artwork from
  Kris Todd

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Clovis, thanks for stopping by my blog. I have heard of your Red Planet RPG before, but I never quite found where can I purchase it or download it. You mentioned a free offering on my post about print on demand RPGS, but I could not find where I would get it. So, should I send you an email?