Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Classes from Barrel Rider Games

I love new classes.  I love all sorts of new options. So when the chance comes around to get my hands on a new class, especially if it is for my current favorite version of D&D (Basic/Expert) or clone (Labyrinth Lord/Basic Fantasy).

So I have been picking up a few from Barrel Rider Gameshttp://barrelridergames.com/

Barrel Rider Games (and I will admit I love this name) is in the biz (so far) of producing a new class for a buck. Not a bad biz to be in really. There is always a new class that can be made, there is demand and people will part with a dollar pretty easy.

In nearly every case you get a class, some art (usually just cover art), descriptions, and the LL compatibility license and the OGL.  Also, I am afraid to admit they are usually missing the Saving Throws table and sometimes how the class gains To Hit rolls.  This is not a huge deal for most of them since it usually pretty obvious what they should be, it would still be nice if they had them.

Here are few I have tried out.

The Bounty Hunter

In many ways the Bounty Hunter (class) is a better class for "Basic" Era Games than the Assassin is.  The Assassin has a history in the "Advanced" Era and it has it's place, but a game aimed at simpler rules might not be it.   That is why the Bounty Hunter (this book) is a good choice for Labyrinth Lord or any other Basic-era compatible game.

Like all the books from Barrel Rider Games this book presents a class, reasons why it can be used, and the associated skills and tables.  The Bounty Hunter (class) then is part thief, part assassin and part tracker/ranger.  Honestly it might well be the best of all the BRG classes.

Also, though, like the other classes, this one is missing some key information.  Namely this book is missing the saving throw tables and to hit tables for the Bounty Hunter.  I would suggest using the thief tables in both cases.

Other than that, this is a solid class.

The Undead Slayer

I love undead and all the classes and trappings that go around them; so slayers and necromancers are great in my book.

This class is a very specialized one, against other monsters it has the fighting prowess of the a thief (which isn't bad), but it shines against Undead. I felt the powers it received were fine, I think I would have started them at lower levels to be honest. The feel of this class is akin to the ranger. It has some sneaking ability, some magic and bonuses to fight undead.
If the Cleric is modeled off of the Hammer-era Van Helsing, then this class is more along the lines of a Captain Kronos.

The class might be a little under powered in some respects to be honest. But that is only a read-through and the proof would be in the playing. For example it does have some thief abilities that would aid a party in non-undead adventures.

In earlier reviews of products from Barrel Rider Game I mentioned that I didn't see the Labyrinth Lord Compatibility License. That was an error. It is very clear on the same page as the OGL. This book has it.
I also mentioned that in some of the other classes that I could not find the to-hit and saving throw progression for the classes. I also could not find it in this one. There is only about a page and half of text and about a page of tables. I am sure I would have seen it. I suspect that the undead slayer uses the Clerical to hit and saving throw tables.

I would like to try this class out sometime. I think it would work well in the right kind of adventure. Care though needs to be given that it does not interfere with the cleric's role of hunter of the dead.

The Assassin

I don't expect a lot for a buck. Can't buy a bottle of Mt. Dew or a cup of coffee for a buck anymore. But you can buy a class.

This is the classic "1st Edition" class for Labyrinth Lord, but should be compatible with any number of other Old School RPGs.
You get a cover page (oddly formatted, but hey), fours pages of the class and the OGL statement.

The class has what you would expect, tables for advancement and assassinations. Also there is a bit on the use of poisons.

There are, unfortunely a few things missing.

In the missing must haves there is no saving throw advancement tables and no to hit advancement tables. I would use the Thief for these.
In the missing like to haves there is nothing on new weapons unique to the assassin. Nothing for example about the garrote, the time honored classic of all assassin weapons. This is almost a missing "must have" to be honest.
So it has a lot of potential, but the publisher really needs to fix these omissions.

The Dragon

Again, I don't expect a lot for a buck. Barrel Rider Games though gives you a whole class for a buck.

This one is a bout Dragons as a class/race. Not Dragonborn or Dragonfolk, but full blown dragons.
Now my first thought is these characters could be unwieldy in a group of adventurers or even overpowered. That is best left to the Labyrinth Lord to decide really.

The book is five pages: Cover, 2 pages for the class, and 2 pages for the OGL.
This one does have the Labyrinth Lord compatibility notice.

There seems to be a bit missing though.
For starters there is no "To Hit AC" tables for the Dragon. Nor are there any Saving Throw tables.
Kind of need these in order to play the character.  In this case I don't have any suggestions.

I would have liked have seen a little on how to play this character class and what motivates them to adventure.

Smith and Scholar

This book is only a buck and it is very simple. But don't let "Simple" translate into "not worth it". This book is filled with ideas for all the Basic/LL core classes. They are billed as professions, but if you are familiar with the old 2nd Ed "Kits" then these are very similar.
There are 6 per class and all provide some background, history and some mechanical bonus for the character. There is no balance issue from what I can see if everyone in the game opts for one or if there is some sort of DM-enforced obligation attached. For example the Exorcist Cleric should be obligated to investigate any claim of possession he/she hears. The other Professions can work the same way.

These are set out as flavor, but I think in the right hands these can really brighten up what would be an ordinary game into something very interesting.

They have other books that I have not tried yet as well.  The Barbarian, the Swashbuckler, Half-Orc, Half-Elf and Dark Elf.

I say give them a look.

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