Sand and Dreams II: Barakah Mechanics and Rules

Any specific companies and games are mentioned only within the context of examples, and no challenge to trademark is intended.

Fitting the Barakah into Your Rules

As stated in the first article of this series, Barakah are half-human and half-jinn, and in many ways are human. This means that, for the most part, you can give them the same statistics and rules that you would give any other human-like character in your game. The only problem now is what to do about their “special” abilities.

Adaptation Options

Powers

If possible, fit the Barakah’s powers into the structure of the rules system you’re already using. It will make it easier for you to determine experience point costs and related issues.

For example, if you’re playing a game of White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse, you could write up the abilities as Gifts. You could use the pre-existing system of character generation costs, freebie point costs, and experience point costs.

If you’re playing Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition, then write the powers up as spells or feats. Create cascades of feats that depend on each other, or a chart of how many “spells” the Barakah can use at which level. Or, use as a guide the various innate abilities possessed by races and monsters or conferred by items. These often have a certain chance of working or can be activated a certain number of times per day. And so on.

By translating the Barakah’s powers into something like spells, you aren’t saying that her powers are spells. You’re using the existing system as a meta-system. It allows you to more easily balance the Barakah’s powers to work with those of other player characters (PCs) without having to start from scratch.

Influences

Innate properties are passive and constant things, not active abilities. For example, if a Barakah is immune to damage from fire, that is an innate property. It isn’t something the Barakah can choose to activate or deactivate; it simply is. Weaknesses act similarly. All of these things influence the character’s life, so we’ll term them influences.

Many systems already contain the means to introduce such influences. White Wolf’s Storyteller system uses merits and flaws. GURPS uses advantages and disadvantages. HackMaster applies race-based bonuses and penalties, as well as quirks, flaws, and talents. Where possible, simply translate influences into these ready-made systems.

You could also choose to leave influences out altogether. I prefer to have them, as I feel they add a strong element of atmosphere to playing a non-human race.

Vestiges

Vestiges are noticeable traces of the Barakah’s jinn ancestry. Again, I feel they add a valuable bit of atmosphere to a character and game. They should be barely noticeable or absent for the children of low-powered jinn and much more noticeable for the children of high-powered jinn; they grow in strength as the Barakah grows in power.

Vestiges should affect nothing in game other than how recognizable a Barakah is as something other than human. You can add them in without any kind of system at all because of this, or you could allow a player whose character possesses strong and noticeable vestiges to take a couple of points of influences representing the difficulty they’ll have blending in.

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