Whats Hot!

The Purifiers

September 05, 2015

demoIn the Millennium of Purification, a group of Elves and Dwarves join forces to purge the world of the dark magicks they themselves once helped unleash. Is there a chance to make up for their sins of the past and restore order to the world? Find out in the serial fan fic: The Purifiers.

Most Useful

Reference Scrolls

May 05, 2015

demoSome of the most viewed pages on this site are the O.C.C. List, Race List, and Skills List, all for Palladium Fantasy. This includes material from the various books, along with which book they're located in. This is an invaluable resource for new and experienced gamers alike.

Need Help?

Checkout the Sitemap

September 05, 2015

demoWhether you're new to the site or a long time fan but can't find an old favorite, feel free to check out the Sitemap. This is a list of all the pages on this site to help navigate you through your trip into the fantasy.

Horror Factor (Expanded)

Horror/Awe Factor within the Palladium system is often a matter of some contention. A human shoves a Big Bore pistol in the face of an Ancient Dragon, and if the ancient dragon fails it becomes scared. Silly, right? Well, it can be depending on the situation. To understand this better, we'll need to look at the different types of horror factors: Mortal, Creature of Magic, and Supernatural. We'll also need to understand how to identify each type. While the concept of horror factor will remain the same, how it's handled will vary as you'll see.


Mortal Horror Factor

Various mortals such as Trolls, Ogres, and Wolfen have horror factors, as well as some man-made devices such as the Big Bore series (Rifts) of weapons. Many horror factors will fall under this category as there are a lot of mortal races out there, and can be best identified as everything that is not a Creature of Magic or a Supernatural Being. This type of horror factor represents something foreign, monstrous, and unexpected. This is also the easiest category to overcome.

A seasoned Eastern Territory (Palladium Fantasy) Soldier patrolling the Wolfen Empire isn't going to be horrified by a wolfen. Training and preparation have prepared him. Someone who travels with a troll every day as part of their adventuring party isn't going to be easily intimidated by a troll. These sights have become common and accepted. Similarly, a group of adventurers headed to the evil ogre's lair to stop some mad summoning ritual aren't going to be horrified of seeing the ogre, as they knew exactly what to expect.

Meanwhile an Eastern Territory farmer or 1st level soldier may become panicked if they've never seen one before, as wolfen have a reputation as baby-eaters (not true). An experienced adventurer who's had little experience with trolls may become temporarily horrified if a troll leaps out of the trees suddenly. The group taking on the insane ogre might become horrified if that ogre turns out to be a necromancer with grotesque limbs attached. The key here is something that's monstrous and a surprise.

This forms a good baseline, but doesn't explain everything. We still have situations where an adult dragon with a Horror Factor of 16 is faced with a Big Bore weapon with a Horror Factor of 6. While most dragons have a nice bonus to save vs. horror factor, let's say he fails. Why? First, let's understand why the Big Bore series has a horror factor and something like a rail gun or boom gun doesn't. Well, a rail gun and a boom gun are big weapons. They're easily seen from a distance, and everyone knows what to expect. The Big Bore series tends to look a little more inconspicuous, a simple handgun or shotgun. Then, when drawn and pointed in someone's face it larger than average size becomes clearer and looks more monstrous than expectations. This is sheer shock appeal, and loses any shock once opponent's become familiar with the weapon.

Now, with our dragon scenario, this would mean it's something that caught the dragon off guard and he's not familiar with. Is it magic? A Techno-Wizard device maybe? Can it hurt him? After a shot or two the dragon is likely to realize it poses a minimal threat to him, or after learning more about the weapon dismissing it. However, the first encounter with something strange and foreign can often by the most horrifying. This can be true for anyone and anything. In the end, the unknown is scary, even to a dragon.

Bonuses: In addition to standard bonuses of save vs. horror factor, characters can add in bonus equal to the attribute bonuses to save vs. psionic attack as a result of a high M.E. Psychic bonuses from other sources such as O.C.C. and race are not added to a save vs. horror factor. This is not a psychic attack, but the M.E. bonuses are the same.

Situational: Anyone properly prepared can resist this horror factor.


Creature of Magic Horror Factor

Almost every creature of magic has a natural horror factor. This horror factor combines the concepts of mortal horror factor (monstrous and unexpected) along with the magical. These are particular types of beings who live off magic such as Faeries and Dragons. Entities and the minor super power Horror Factor (Heroes Unlimited) also fall into this category even though they're not actually creatures of magic, as do magical spells. The same as mortal horror factor, individuals can become used to and accustomed to creatures of magic in every day life. Your friend the dragon who travels with you every day isn't as scary if he's your friend. In most encounters, this horror factor is handled much the same.

There is an exception to this rule however. As part of their magical nature, creatures of magic radiate their emotions and intent in their aura. This is not something individual's can detect or see without special abilities such as Empathy, but it's there. When creatures of magic become angry and harmful intentions, that is radiated in their aura and everyone in the area can sense it. The dragon who was all toothy smiles a second again now glares at the party with malicious intent, and that intent translates into a Horror Factor.

Unexpected or not, nothing can prepare for this magical effect. This means knowing you're going into the dragon's lair doesn't help, because this is a magical attack. Even if a friend, if that dark intent is directed at the character a save is required. However, allies not the source of the harmful intent may feel unnerved by the sudden change in their friend, but do not require a save vs. horror factor.

Bonuses: In addition to standard bonuses of save vs. horror factor, characters can add in bonus equal to the attribute bonuses to save vs. magic as a result of a high P.E. Magic bonuses from other sources such as O.C.C. and race are not added to a save vs. horror factor. While this is aura is magical in nature, it is also based on emotion and intent.

Situational: Creatures of magic tend to be rather at ease around other creatures of magic and receive a +2 to save vs. horror factor against another creature of magic. No save is required if it's a creature of the same type. Mortals and supernatural beings receive no bonuses. Even though supernatural beings tend to be more powerful, creatures of magic and supernatural beings do not tend to get along well together and the supernatural can succumb to this magical aura the same as anyone else.

Note: Just because two creatures of magic are the same classification does not mean they're the same type. Two faeries might both be faeries, but if one is a Puck and the other is a Nymph, they're still different. Apply the +2 only.


Supernatural Horror Factor

While supernatural horror factor has similarities to other types, it also is quite unique. Supernatural beings typically refer to demons and gods, but can refer to any immortal being from an alien reality and outside our plane of existence. These beings do not think or behave like mortals or even creatures of magic, and will never even truly understand how humans and other mortals think or act. These beings naturally radiate this inhuman aura that's always present. This aura also contains an indication of their power and, more often than not, evil intent.

Only characters with powers such as See Aura or Sense Evil can pick up on this aura in any tangible manner, but it affects everyone regardless. Those who encounter a supernatural being feel this oppressive, crushing aura trying to suppress their spirit. For those not accustomed to it this can be one of the most horrifying experiences of their lives, as if the very presence could consume their souls! No amount of training can ever truly steady someone against this type of encounter, but training and a strong spirit can prepare someone to persevere. These spirited individuals feel the same oppressive aura, but push through so that it doesn't stop them.

Bonuses: Save vs. horror factor only. This is a combination of monstrous appearance, magical aura, inhuman nature, and supernatural in every way that defies true explanation.

Situational: Supernatural beings radiate their power and nature as part of this supernatural aura. Other supernatural beings can naturally pick this up. Supernatural beings with a higher horror factor do not need to roll against a supernatural being with a lower horror factor. For two supernatural beings with equal horror factors, experience level plays the deciding factor (with the higher experienced being not needing to roll) if the two are trying to intimidate each other. Beings with equal horror factors rarely try to intimidate each other and would much rather pick on those weaker. This horror factor plays a role in the interactions between these supernatural beings.

Even if a god had a horror factor of 12, and a lesser demon had a horror factor of 16, the god would need to make the save vs. horror factor while the lesser demon does not. While this may seem weird to mortals, this is simply part of their inhuman nature and mentality that mortals will never fully understand. Modifiers to Horror Factor (see below) should also be factored in.


Group Horror Factors

There are times when a large group of enemies can be more intimidating than a single enemy. Encountering a single wolfen while you're alone may not be too frightening, but encountering 20 of them can be far scarier. However, by the same concept, if you're with 20 other adventurers and you encounter four wolfen, probably not too big of a threat. While numbers alone can't defeat the purpose of a horror factor, they can reduce the affect of large numbers of them.

If the characters outnumber or equal the enemy numbers with horror factors, then there are no modifiers. If the enemies with the horror factor outnumber the group, even by just one, then increase the enemy horror factor by +1. Greater numbers can be even more horrifying. Now, it's important to keep scale. Adding a +1 for every extra of the enemy can get out of hand quickly, especially considering size. A group of 1,000 human soldiers vs. an army of 1,020 wolfen soldiers shouldn't give the wolfen a +20! That's just silly. In this case, I suggest size comparison modifiers.

Every time the enemy with the horror factor doubles the group's horror factor, add another +1. So 20 adventurers against 40 wolfen will give the wolfen a +2 (+1 for larger and another +1 for doubling their size, or simply thinking of it as group x2 and notice how the last number is the same as the bonus), and 60 wolfen would give that same group of adventurers a +3 (+1 for larger and +2 for tripling their numbers, or simply thinking of it as group x3). Facing a group of horrific monsters that outnumber you 10 to 1 should be scary, and this is symbolized well with the +10 to their horror factor.

Any character who fails this modified horror factor has the natural instinct to flee/retreat. There's a 01-60% chance that average individuals will attempt to flee the area. Trained soldiers and adventurers might be able to resist the urge to run if ordered to stay or they think they're fighting for a good cause, but they'll still think retreat is the best option, even if for no other reason than to regroup and/or buy time for reinforcements.

Note: Anyone who rolls a Natural 1 might flee regardless. This is best symbolized in the movies when a soldier turns and runs, and then their commanding officer kills the deserter while he's trying to flee. All the other soldiers, perhaps wanting to flee just as bad, hold their ground because they don't want to be the next to die, or perhaps they all flee and the commander just can't keep order even if he kills a few. This can be a great tension builder and help set the mood, but if it distracts from the game, then ditch it.


Multiple Horror Factors

A Dragon, three Imps, and five Big Bores walk into a bar, the bartender yawns. If you're not the bartender, how do you handle the situation? This is a little different than group horror factors, as there are multiple types of horror factors involved instead of the same type multiple times. I'm personally a fan of just taking the highest horror factor (in this case the dragon with a Horror Factor 16) and having the players roll just once to save time. Either they're intimidated, or they're not. To me this also makes more sense, as I find it illogical that someone can be horrified and horrified and horrified all at the same second. If you're horrified, then you're horrified and end of story.

It doesn't matter why you're scared or which monster did it, the characters is temporarily stunned and suffers the penalties of a failed roll. In a case such as this, the character is unable to defend against the first attack from any of the enemies. After the first attack, regardless of who makes it or if it succeeds, the character is snapped out of it and can respond against the next attacker. Also, have someone roll enough times and odds say they're bound to fail at least once. In the above example, that's nine rolls. So instead of trying to guarantee failure, I prefer to leave it only a single roll.

Though for those who really want a scarier game, to continue saving time I suggest dividing them each up into groups. So, in this example, you roll once for the dragon, once for the imps, and once for the Big Bores. Even though there are nine possible threats, this cuts down the rolls to only three. This makes the encounter more manageable, saves time to keep the game moving, and keeps the odds more favorable for the characters (as opposed to the potential nine rolls).


Modifiers to Horror Factor

In addition to the above bonuses and situational modifiers, there are other factors to include as well. This includes environmental factors as well as mentality. While this is far from an exhaustive list, it is designed to help give a framework and concepts for any modifiers a G.M. may feel is appropriate.


Environmental (penalties):

-1: Dimly lit.

-2: Extremely dark.

-1: Lots of hiding places (what might be around the next corner?!)

-2: Confined area (no where to run!)

-1: Around others that are already scared.

-1: Hearing horror stories about the place/area ahead of time.

-2: Witnessing multiple supernatural (or unexplained) occurrences shortly before the encounter.


Character (bonuses):

Men of Arms O.C.C.: Fighting monsters is what they do, even if not their primary profession. All men of arms receive a +1 bonus at levels 4, 8, and 12. This bonus applies even to O.C.C. that receive class bonuses such as Cyber-Knights and Palladins.

Practitioners of Magic O.C.C.: Skilled in the mystic arts, often dealing with supernatural beings. Their experience grants a +1 bonus at levels 5 and 10. This bonus applies even to O.C.C. that receive class bonuses such as Shifters, Necromancers, and Summoners.

Other O.C.C.: Other classes are just not as trained to combat such horrors, but experience still plays a factor. All other character classes receive a +1 bonus at level 7.

Single Focus: In addition to the above bonuses, some O.C.C. have a very single-minded purpose. An example of this is the Demon Queller (Rifts Japan) and Demon Hunter (Mystic China). These characters are specifically trained to fight demons. As a result, when facing a demon, they receive an additional +2 bonus (in addition to any other bonuses). This bonus applies only when facing demons though, and does not apply against creatures of magic, mortals, or even other supernatural beings such as gods. Vampire Hunters (Rifts Vampire Kingdoms; Revised) receive this bonus against vampires only. Note: Characters such as Palladins and Cyber-Knights are general monster hunters and do not receive this special bonus.


Increasing Horror Factor:

High M.A.: Characters with a high M.A. are capable of temporarily boosting their perceived horror factor. This is all about body language and intimidation. Characters with an exceptional M.A. can roll their Trust/Intimidate skill and, if successful, add a bonus to their horror factor depending on their attribute. 16-20: +1, 21-25: +2, 26-30: +3, 31 or higher: +4 with an additional +1 for every 5 points. Note: This only applies to characters that already possess a horror factor, but cannot create a horror factor by itself.

High P.B.: Characters with a high P.B. are capable of temporarily boosting their perceived awe factor. Their tremendous beauty only adds to their awe. Characters with an exceptional P.B. can roll their Charm/Impress skill and, if successful, add a bonus to their horror factor depending on their attribute. 16-23: +1, 24-30: +2, 31 or higher: +4 with an additional +1 for every 7 points. This does not apply to horror factor. Note: This only applies to characters that already possess an awe factor, but cannot create an awe factor by itself.

Skills: Various skills may add to a given situation, such as Performance or Public Speaking. A successful skill check results in a +1 bonus per skill. Other applicable skills are dependent on the situation and G.M. discretion. If role-played well, the G.M. may want to reward an extra +1 bonus. Note: This only applies to characters that already possess a horror factor, but cannot create a horror factor by itself.

Insanities: Insane individuals can be even scarier than others, because there's no reasoning with them and they can be highly unpredictable. Add a +1 bonus per insanity. Note: This only applies to characters that already possess a horror factor, but cannot create a horror factor by itself.