It took a while to get off the ground, but I'm three sessions into my first Savage Rifts campaign. (Expect a post on my general feels regarding the experience soon--I want to get a couple more sessions under my belt first.)
One of my players obligingly made a Chiang-Ku Dragon Hatchling as their character. This, combined with the fact that it's going to be an Atlantis-facing campaign, motivated me to nail down a system for Tattoo Magic.
As is often the case, the internet provided me someone who has already done most of the work: I found this post by sittingduck1313 that pretty much matched what I wanted to do, so I nicked it. The only thing I substantively changed was the underlying mechanism of Arcane Background: Tattoo Magic. I see magic tattoos as being closer to superpowers, so my approach is similar to that particular AB--each tattoo requires its own activation skill, but there is no penalty to rolling a natural "1" on the trait die. Otherwise, I simply copied sittingduck1313's excellent write-up pretty much verbatim. I present it here for posterity.
Arcane Background (T-Man)
Requirements: Novice, Human or Ogre, Spirit d6+, Vigor d6+
Arcane Skill: Special (Spirit)
Starting PPE: 15
Starting Powers: summon ally or summon weapon and two others
Available Powers: armor*, blind, bolt, boost trait*, damage field*, darksight*, deflection*, detect arcana, elemental manipulation (air and fire only), environmental protection*, farsight*, fly*, greater healing, healing, quickness*, smite*, speak language*, speed*, summon ally**, summon weapon**, warrior’s gift*
Tattoo magic traces its origins to the now nearly extinct Chiang-Ku dragons, who in turn taught it to the True Atlanteans. Since then, its secrets have been acquired by the Splurgorth, who use it for the enhancement of slave warriors. Unless indoctrinated from an early age, most T-Men chafe under such bondage and will escape if and when the opportunity presents itself. Therefore, rogue T-Men aren’t especially unusual.
Tattoo magic works in the standard fashion for Arcane Backgrounds. However, it is necessary to directly touch the tattoo to activate it. This means that most forms of worn armor will interfere with the use of tattoo magic (but see Inner Focus below). A T-Man’s armor power does not get in the way. The armor power from other Arcane Backgrounds may or may not depending on the trappings.
A tattoo that is currently activated cannot be activated a second time while it is active (this is especially important regarding the summon ally and summon weapon powers).
Tattoos work like the Superpower background in that each tattoo requires its own skill to activate. All such skills are linked to Spirit. As with AB: Superpowers, there is no penalty for rolling a “1” on the trait die.
Atlanteans and Chiang-ku dragons receive the “Marks of Heritage” (summon weapon—a sword with the “fire” [armor piercing] and “light” [glow] trappings and the Mega-damage Edge—and speak language) as part of their racial packages, but do not have this Arcane Background unless they choose it as part of character creation or advancement. All characters may receive up to two magic tattoos without needing to take this Arcane Background; more than two tattoos qualifies the character as a T-Man and requires this Arcane Background for the third and later tattoos. Any character receiving a magic tattoo must still meet the minimum requirements for this Arcane Background.
Finding someone to apply new tattoos can be a tricky proposition. The only place where such services are readily available is Atlantis. Should the T-Man be an escaped slave, this could bring up some complications. Even if this isn’t an issue, unless there is a monstrous being to vouch for him, the T-Man should expect to pay through the nose. The only other option is to attempt to locate a True Atlantean alchemist, typically in a sizable magic community like Lazlo.
Getting a magic tattoo hurts a lot more than a regular tattoo. When receiving modification to the summon ally and summon weapon powers (see power descriptions for details), the T-Man takes a level of Fatigue. This is automatically recovered after a full day of rest. Otherwise, a successful Vigor roll at the end of the day is needed, with a -2 being applied if the T-Man engaged in any heavy exertion. Receiving any other power results in a Wound. Any skill roll made to immediately treat the Wound have an additional -1 applied.
New and Modified Powers
This works identically to the power from the Savage Worlds Core Book, but with the following modifications:
The power is restricted to non-sentient creatures, both normal animals and more monstrous creatures. The creature summoned is actually an ectoplasmic construct, which gets the Construct and Fearless abilities in addition to its normal abilities. When this power is first taken, the T-Man has six points to spend in determining what creatures he has tattooed on himself and can therefore bring forth. Each animal costs one point while each monster (defined as a non-sentient creatures that weren’t known to exist on Earth during the Time of Man) costs two points. Multiple tattoos of the same creature cannot be taken. The Mega Power variant is called Summon Greater Ally. For an additional three PPE, the summoned creature is a Wild Card.
The following table determines how much PPE and what rank is needed to acquire a creature as a tattoo (monsters cost an additional point of PPE to activate):
|3||Novice||Human-sized or smaller|
|4||Seasoned||Up to Size +3|
|5||Veteran||Up to Size +5|
|6||Heroic||Up to Size +8|
|7||Legendary||Up to Size +10|
Power Points: 1 + Edges/Trappings
Duration: 3/1 per round
When activated, the weapon depicted in the tattoo appears in the T-Man’s hand. The type of weapons that can be summoned are restricted to melee weapons that rely on muscle power to inflict damage (no vibroblades or neural maces). When this power is first taken, the T-Man has six points to spend in determining what weapons he has tattooed on himself and can therefore bring forth. Each weapon costs one point. For an additional point, a weapon will provide a Combat Edge or Trapping appropriate for the weapon for the wielder, with a maximum of three to a weapon. Each Combat Edge or Trapping so chosen adds 1 PPE point to the summoning cost. In the case of tiered Edges, the base Edge must be applied first to take the Improved version.
A T-Man cannot have two completely identical weapons. For instance, he couldn’t have two short swords with Improved Frenzy and Block, but could have a short sword with Improved Frenzy and Block and another short sword with Improved Frenzy and First Strike. The Mega Power variant is called Summon Magic Weapon. For an additional two PPE, the weapon will inflict Mega Damage.
Requirements: Novice, Vigor d8+
The magic energies which infuse your tattoos have enhanced the durability of your skin. You have two points of M.D.C. Armor, which stacks with other armor.
Improved Hardened Skin
Requirements: Seasoned, Hardened Skin
As above, but you have four points of M.D.C. Armor.
Requirements: Veteran, Spirit d8+
The T-Man is so in tune with the mystic energies of his tattoos that he no longer needs to touch them to activate them.
You get four more points to spend on additional creatures to summon with your Summon Ally power. This Edge can be taken multiple times.
You get four more points to spend on additional weapons and Edges for your Summon Weapon power. This Edge can be taken multiple times.
Requirements: Novice, Summon Weapon power
If you get a raise on the Tattoo’s Activation roll when summoning a weapon, it counts as a Free Action.