Showing posts with label classes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label classes. Show all posts

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Classes

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all!

Been sick as a dog the last week.  I was planning on getting some new material out to you all, but that didn't happen.  Day-job was also insane.

BUT I did find something that is filled with Holiday Cheer.

Over at the DMsGuild there is a collection of holiday-themed classes.
Now I have dealt with a very mixed bag at the DMsGuild. There is some good stuff, but also a lot of bad stuff too.  Plus most of it it seems has a lot of art ripped off of the net without regard to ownership and you all know I can't abide by that.

Those issues aside I opted to pick up The Season's Subclasses - Player Options for Winter Cheer by Levi Pressnell.

This is a fun product.
For a buck (or more) you get new class options for all the core D&D 5 classes.

Here are my favorites.
Barbarian: Dancing Lights - The power of the Aurora Borealis is at your finger-tips.  The is a seriously cool concept and one that should be ported over to other settings/games like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

Bard: College of Caroling - with a bit of a tweak you can get a Mummers Dance out of this, and that would be a lot of fun.

Cleric: Domain of Cheer - Love this concept!

Druid: Circle of the Evergreen - I like this one too, not what I thought it would have been, but still really cool.  Remove it from it's Christmas origins and now you have Eco-Protective Druids.  Think Swamp-Thing with spells.

Monk: Way of the Sugar-plum Fairy is far more awesome than a PWYW product should have.  A monk tradition. Based on the Fae?  Ah..yeah! Sign me the heck up!

Paladin: Oath of Winter - "Winter is Coming". That's all you need to say.  Gotta get a blank sheet and get my Ned Stark on.

Rogue: Chimney Lurk - major props for the name alone.  This one is really cool too.

Sorcerer: Frozen Soul - If you get the desire to sing "Let it Go" while playing this character no one will laugh at you.  They can't because you froze them in a block of ice!  Maybe one of my most favorite ones here.

The Wizard, Warlock and Fighter options are also fun, but I liked the others the best.

It's Christmas, pay more than a buck for this. 


Monday, March 20, 2017

New Releases: Hedge Witches and Prestige Witches

Today is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Ostara.
To celebrate this time I have not just one, but two new releases today.

First up:

The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG


Presenting the Hedgewitch for The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying game. Can be used with HJ or Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Complete.

Included in these 66 pages are:

  • New Race: The Gnome
  • New Professions
  • The Witch class and Hedge Witch tradition
  • 80 spells new to The Hero's Journey
  • 15 new monsters

Fully compatible with The Witch, Eldritch WitcheryThe Witch for Swords & Wizardry Light and The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.  In fact, all are designed to work together as a complete whole.  Getting these various witches to work together in your is another matter entirely.

A softcover print version is in the process of heading to the printer.  I am just waiting on OneBookShelf on this, they are taking longer than expected.

Also released is the next book in the Strange Brew series for Pathfinder.

Strange Brew: Mystical Paths & Prestige Classes


From the book:

Witches and warlocks come in all shapes, sizes, genders, philosophies, alignments, and focuses. Many of these concepts are expressed through archetypes, but some concepts require a bit ... more ... to fully be expressed.

Here are 23 Prestige Classes for your witch or warlock, allowing them to focus on specific aspects of being a witch or warlock, or a specific type of witch or warlock with more control than an archetype gives you. With them, your witch isn’t "just" a witch, she’s a Tempestarii Storm Raiser, or he isn’t "merely" a witch, but an Occult Scholar.

Help find the true destiny of your witch or warlock!

Also included are some of my favorites, the Imbolc Mage and the Queen of Witches.

Regardless of what game you prefer, I have a class for you.  Time to make some magic!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Class Struggles: Castles & Crusades Classes

It has been a while since I have done a Class Struggles post.  Normally with these I like to take a deep dive into a single expression of a class and talk about it in it's various forms in the various editions and offshoots of D&D.

Today though I want to instead look at the unique, or mostly unique, classes offerings from Castles & Crusades and other SIEGE Engine games.  My point of view though will remain the same; how to use these classes in your Fantasy RPG/D&D.

First up is the Knight.  The knight comes to us from the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook. So in this respect, it is a "core" class.  It is best to compare the Knight to the Cavalier. In fact if one were to look at the list of classes in the C&C PHB and compare that to AD&D1 PHB/UA or OSRIC the Knight stands out as being something of a unique class.  Like the UA cavalier the knight is a mounted, armored fighter type. They both follow codes of conduct and belong to various orders.  In most ways the knight appears exactly like the romance knights of King Arthur's Round Table with their code of chivalry and courtly romance.  Thankfully though the knight is a little bit more than that.
In Castles & Crusades there is the concept of Prime Abilities. Each class has one and they do about what you would imagine if you never read the rules.  For the Knight the prime ability is Charisma.  Not physical prowess, but charisma. This is the same for Paladins who are now taking more of the role of Holy Warrior.  The 5th Edition D&D Paladin is still closer to the C&C Paladin, but the C&C Knight is in many ways closest to the D&D4 Warlord. Both have leadership abilities and both appear to be more militarily trained fighters.

At this point, I must apologize for my selections of classes.  They are going to be based on the ones I know and the books I have.   I also mightnot focus on every class in the books I do have.

The Codex Celtarum is one of my favorite C&C books. I love the idea of playing in a Celtic universe and there is just so much fun stuff in this.  This book comes with a new class, The Woodwose, and a variation of a class, The Wolf Charmer. Both of these classes have a distinct Celtic flair to them.  The woodwose is a wildman of the woods and somewhere between a ranger and a barbarian in terms of role. Looking at their prime abilities, the Barbarian is Constitution, the Ranger is Strength and the Woodwose is Dexterity.  The wolf charmer is described as a pied piper of sorts for wolves.  They can be rogues or rangers and they gain some wolf charming abilities in favor of some the abilities they would have gotten for their own class.  A ranger-wolf charmer, in fact, resembles the concept of the Beastmaster I discussed in a Class Struggles a few months back.  In 3rd edition, we might have done this a Prestige Class.

It's sister product or cousin product, is the Codex Nordica.  Personally, I think both books should be used together for a greater effect to both. Yes their "worlds" are very different, but their interaction in our world is very linked.   This book offers us the Seiðkona, or sorceress.  Other books might call her a witch.  Indeed I used a lot of the same myths about the  Seiðkona, Vísendakona and Volur in my own witch books right down to using a distaff in place of a staff.  The Seiðkona uses Intelligence as her primeary ability and casts the same spells and magic as the Wizard does.  If she had used Charisma, I would naturally compare her to the Sorcerer of D&D3.   Though given her role, Intelligence (or maybe even Wisdom) is the proper choice here.  This is a class that is very much part of the mythology of the world she is in. She loses some of the things that make her special if she you dropped her into Greyhawk or the Realms.  There is also the Völva, which the clerical counterpart to the Seiðkona.  This class also serves the role of a priestess and uses a distaff.  As expected her primary ability is Wisdom.  Her gift is divination and prophecy.  So by means of a rough comparison, she is more similar to the Oracle class in Pathfinder.

Moving on to more C&C specific "worlds" we can first turn to the Tainted Lands. Now to be fair, I was pretty hard on this product when it came out.  I still find faults with it, but I am softening my approach some more.  I just ignore the "Psychic" and "Supernatural" attributes. The nice thing about this setting is it is easily back-adaptable to ad some darkness to your games.  The Tainted Lands also gives us four new classes.  The Witch Hunter (which I have converted to Wisdom), The Metals Master (which I honestly don't use), The Portal Keeper (I use Intelligence instead) and the Vampire (Strength).  Of these, I use the Witch Hunter the most.

The Haunted Highlands are next and have some classes that fit into the same horror or darkness tinged mode.  This includes the Players Guide, the Castle Keeper's Guide and the Black Libram of Naratus.  Now these books hit me right in my home.  Dark, scary, Celtic themed play?  Sign me up!  I will work on getting a full review out for the Haunted Highlands soon.  Case on point, the classes are a revised Assassin, a revised Monk, the Conjurer (Charisma based), the Necromancer (an Inteligence sub-class of the Wizard and which is also detailed at length in the Black Libram of Naratus), and the Witch (Wisdom based)! I could go on and on about the witch here, but it is a very approapriate adaptation of the concept for this setting.  Again. There is so much here to go through that I will have to devote a blog post or two about it.  But I would easily play one of these witches or necromancers.

To wrap-up my collection of Castles & Crusades specific books (and I know there are more out there) I want to look into the Castles & Crusades Players Guide to Aihrde.   What I really like about this book are some "race" specific classes. There is the Heisen Fodt (Dwarves), the Oraalau (High Elves), Ieragon (Eldritch Goblin), Hugrin dun (Gnome), and Felon Noch (Halfling). Essentially these are the racial classes closest to the Basic/Exper D&D expressions of the Race as Class classes.  Here though they have a strong cultural context and they really work.   I would add these to not only my Castles & Crusades game, but any OSR game or even D&D5.

Stretching now just a bit I want to talk about a few of the classes found in Amazing Adventures.  While AA is a Pulp or even modern RPG, there are some classes that would work well with just the tiniest of modifications.  Some of this is detailed in the books, but I want to share my opinions on the matter.  The Arcanist is basically a Wizard or Cleric.  The Gadgeteer though would make for an excellent Magical Artificer.  Use the rules here and in the Book of Powers to create your own artificer.  The Mentalist would add a psionic or psychic character to your game.  The  Socialite can be dropped in almost as-is for a Royal Courtier.   Now if we add in the Amazing Adventures Companion we get a whole new slate of character class options.   The Acrobat, the Archer, the Duelist, the Feral, the Pirate and the Soldier can all be used with only modifications to anything that involves firearms.  Depending on your game you could even add in the Gunslinger.
If you check out the Troll Lord's online shop you can also find the Demon Hunter class for AA, but easily compatible with C&C.

There are similar choices in Victorious, but I am not done reading that one yet.

All in all, nearly 30 classes you can add to your Castles & Crusades games.

I think the Troll Lords need to come out with a "Class Codex" now!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Class Stuggles: The Thaumaturge

I am a sucker for new classes, especially magic-using classes. So I was very pleased to hear that +Matthew Skail was releasing a new class designed to replace the magic-user in OSR games.
The Thaumaturge is a 20-level spell casting class in 10 pages for any OSR-like game.

The main feature of the titular class is their non-Vancian spell casting system.  Now  I will admit that I am a fan of Vancian magic. It is part and parcel of playing D&D in my mind.  That being said I have experimented with a number of non-Vancian and spell-point enabled systems over the years.   But I keep coming back to Vancian magic.   The Thaumatuge is a well thought out class though and the system has merit.  There is a bit of 3.0 in this class' DNA, namely extensive use of the ability modifiers, but not so much as to drive away die hard Grognards.

The class is well written and could easily be dropped into any OSR game.  In fact I think such things should be encouraged; different lands should have different types of magics.

The main feature of this class though is not just the spell-point system, but rather a system that gives the magic-user the means to do some dice-rolling just like the melee types.  Having seen this more in 4th and 5th edition for arcane types, this is not something to be underestimated.  People love to roll the dice to see if they hit or, in this case, a spell's success.   There is even something in this that I normally call a "repeated casting modifier" (called Overcasting here).  The idea of the "Mastered Spell" is also a nice one.   Again, nothing we all have not seen elsewhere, but still nice to have in one place.

Since this is designed to replace the standard Magic-User it still uses Intelligence as the primary ability.  I think though a strong case could be made to replace that with Charisma and make it a unique class.  They can use the same spells as the Magic-user does, much like how the magic-user and elf can in Basic, or the Wizard and Sorcerer in 3rd edition.

There are also a couple of new spells and some new magic items.  All for less money than a 20oz bottle of soda and a bag of chips.

There are some formatting issues with the document.  Page numbers would also be nice and I'd put in a manual page break over Optional Rules.

Thoughts on Expansion
While reading this I could not help but think that is actually two classes.  First, there is the stated design goal, an augmentation of the magic-user class.  But there is also a completely new class here as well.  We can call them the Thaumaturgic Wizard and the Thaumaturge respectively.  Now on paper there is no real difference here, but the concept opens up new possibilities.
The Thaumaturgic Wizard implies there can be Thaumaturgic Clerics, Thaumaturgic Illusionists or even a Thaumaturgic Witch.
The Thaumaturge, however, is a different sort of caster.  To go with the dictionary definition of Thaumaturgy you would almost need to add a little bit of clerical power to them without necissarily invoking some diety.  Or at least a couple of the cleric's spells.   Again, I'd base his spellcasting ability on Charisma at this point and make him something like a counterpoint to the witch.

This class as written would also gain some benefit from some of the ritual casting as presented in +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos.  If you use spell points then places of power is a nice logical extension.

I have to say there is a lot of ideas here, certainly more than it's page count suggests.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Class Struggles: The Cleric

Coming back to my Class Struggles series I wanted to look into the class that really got me thinking about this series to start with.  The Cleric.

There has been a lot of talk of clerics and their value in a D&D game.  This ranges from the old school of whether or not the Cleric is an appropriate trope for a fantasy game to the new school of whether a cleric is needed in a game that also has healing from long rests.

I am firmly in the camp of Clerics are as much a part of D&D as Fighters, Wizards and Thieves.

My first character ever was Father Johan Werper, Cleric of the God of the Sun, Hunter of the Undead. He was a bit of a generic cleric to be honest, and I choose the sun god because I thought that as a quasi-medieval priest  the sun would be a major feature of all the is holy, bright and good.  Plus I had been reading a bunch of Greek Myths and I thought Apollo would make for a good god.  But the real reason I choose the cleric; Turning Undead.  That was an AWESOME power in my pre-teen mind.   So that has colored my views of the cleric ever since.
(Father Werper, now St. Werper, lives on as an official Saint in COA04: Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall.)

In real life I am an atheist, but I like the play the religious character.  So clerics, witches, druids, all fascinate me.  But clerics are where it all started.

Clerics as Occult Researchers


In nearly every other game I have ever played there have been occult researchers.  There is usually someone that is the party's muscle, the magic-guy, the sneaky guy and the smart guy.  Sometime the magic guy and smart guy are the same, sometimes though they are not.  The Cleric takes on the roll of the Smart Guy or the Occult Researcher.  The books, the ill-fitting glasses, and the wisdom to know what to do is the role of the cleric.

It is fairly well known that the idea behind clerical undead turning  came from Peter Cushing's Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer Dracula films.  Why not extend the metaphor to include the rest of Van Helsing's portfolio.  As a class that puts a high value on Wisdom then the cleric should be a font of knowledge. Sure, this can also be done by the Magic-User / Wiazard,  but the cleric's input should not be understated.  Van Helsing is described as a meta-physian or what we might call a poly-math, or man of letters.  Wizards, even with schools, don't have the same "Academic" credibility as a cleric can have.  Sure the shaman could be considered a cleric in some games, and his schooling could entirely be natural or at least un-scholastic in nature.

In D&D 3, 4 and 5 knowledge of the undead fall within the Knowledge (Religion) or just Religion category.   These characters tend to have more training in this area than other characters.  While wizards are typically the font of magical knowledge, clerics should be the source of knowledge beyond the ken of mortal man and into the realm of the gods and other forms of the supernatural.

Clerics as the Party Leader
The cleric also can serve the role as the leader. While the cleric can run the gamut of influential high priest to crazy street prophet to diabolic cult leader, players typically take on the role of the cleric of the local church, usually good.  Certainly that is what D&D wants you to do and that is fine.  This type of cleric also works as the default leader, whether he/she is or not. So if this is the hand you are dealt, then play it because clerics make great leaders. Under most circumstances they access to power, money, a hierarchy and can expect a modicum of respect from the locals.  All this adds up to an instant authority figure.  Even if they are not.
While this role was stress fairly heavy in D&D4, all other versions of the game also give it tacit, implicit and even explicit lip service.  In D&D5 the divine domains of Knowledge and War make for pretty good leader types. Their better saves in Wisdom and Charisma make them less likely to charmed or otherwise controlled magically, so this can be role-played as a stronger than average mental fortitude.  Which fits the cleric well.

Cleric as the Party Medic
The obvious role.  Clerics have healing magic in earlier editions of the game, have spontaneous healing spells in the 3.x era and can activate healing surges in 4th. The clerics of 5th edition seem to take them back more to their roots in terms of healing.  The role of the cleric cannot be overstated.  Parties without a cleric die.
During my run between 1st and 2nd Ed I created a Healer class.  It shared a number of features that my Witch class did including the ability to heal by touch as she went up in level.  Completely unneeded in 3.x of course, but in 2nd Ed it was quite a game changer.  I also made an NPC healer a pacifist.  She would never raise a weapon to any creature unless of course it was undead and then she went all Peter Cushing on them.  But running that class and character (she was the only character I ever made for that class) showed me how important the healing aspect was.  There was not just the regaining hit points, there was the player morale.  Also, since the character was an NPC it was easy not to have her fight, but the Players really did everything they could to protect her.

BTW. Her name was Celene Weper and she was the grand-daughter of Father Werper above.  Yes clerics in my world get married and have kids, since it is a life-affirming thing.
Plus keep in mind that Clerics as Healers have a long tradition even in our own world.  If ever a character decided to become a pure healing cleric and take an oath of non-violence then I would give them XP for every hitpoint cured and a share of combat XP.  I would also give them 2x the starting funds (even though they would give what they don't spend back to the church) to represent the investment their churches/hospitals have made in them.  After all, can't send a healer out into the world with shoddy armor. Reflects bad on their organization.

Clerics as Combatants?
It almost seems counter to the above, but clerics are the second best major class when it comes to fighting.  Only fighters (and their related classes) are better.  The get good saves vs. magic due to their high wisdom, or Will saves for the same reason and their saves are pretty decent to start with.   Plus they have one thing fighters don't have, the  ability to use magic.  "So what" you say, "so can Wizards and even your favorite witch."  Yes, but can they do it in field plate armor?  Clerics can.  Sure they do not get the combat spells the wizard gets, but they have a few good ones too.  Creeping Doom is a nasty little spell for Druids.  Finger of Death and reversed Heal spells can also ruin someone's day.

In games without Paladins, Clerics are the "righteous fist of (their) god".  Wizards don't smite.
Clerics can also be one of the few character types that can actually kill monsters with-out the moral hangups.  Even fighters, who get paid, and thieves, that might be working as assassins, don't get the same kind of "get out of jail free card" as do clerics operating within the doctrines of their faith and church.  Think back to the Crusades and the Inquisition, the faithful got away with murder, torture and even more horrible crimes in the name of their God and the law had little to say about it or were in collusion with them.

Clerics might then be one of the more well rounded characters in the group.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Class Struggles: Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition

Image courtesy of Tenkar
It has been a while since I have done a Class Struggles post.  I knew I wanted to do something with Basic-era D&D and had a couple of ideas, but nothing 100% yet.   I ended up talking to +Vincent Florio about the newest version of Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition, due out June 3rd.
Now Vince knows me. He knows that I love new magic using classes as much as I love anything and a new "Holmes" Basic magic-using class is just too sweet to pass up.  So he sent a copy of the new book in exchange for an honest review.  Today I am only going to focus on the new classes, I'll say more about the book as a whole later on.

Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition (M&PDE hereafter) introduces two new magic-using classes, the Enchanter and the Shaman.  They join the classic Cleric and Magic-User.   There is a design choice here to keep the Magic-User over the more widely accepted wizard and I am 100% cool with that.  If you know any version of Basic D&D (Holmes in particular) you know what the MU is all about.  The XP progression tables are lesser for this MU compared to their Holmes, B/X, AD&D counterparts. But they are more in line with what a MU actually should need (see this post on my analysis of the MU/Wizard class).   So for this alone your MU is going to have a slightly different vibe to him.  

The max spell level in 5th, but that is not a big deal since the max character level in most cases is 12th.  Again, just because of who I am I might make it 13th.  (Come to think of it this might make a good game for my War of the Witch Queens campaign.)

The first new class is the Enchanter.  The enchanter follows a similar level progression and the same spell progression as does the Magic-User.   The enchanter does have a different spell list than the Magic-User as seen below:


They also learn their spells differently from a MU with a chance of a non-enchanter going insane after reading their spell books.   I like the *idea* of the enchanter and I would certainly play one. I think though I would do something to make them a bit more different than the Magic-User.   Given the mental nature of their spells I might make their prime stat Charisma or even Wisdom.  They have some really interesting spells here and I think a lot can be done with this class.   Just give it a little more to separate it from the MU.

Next up is the Shaman.  Now the Shaman is a real treat.  First it is a "primitive" type of spell caster, so their spells reflect that.


They also have Atonement and Spirit Guardian abilities.  Atonement gives them the ability to spiritually link to a weapon.   I have to admit the first thought I had was of Rafiki the baboon shaman from The Lion King.  Trust me, this is a good thing.   My only "house rule" I would add to this is that the Shaman's weapon acts as a magical weapon for purposes of hiting undead creatures. Not a +1 but more like a "+0".
The spirit guardian is a very interesting ability.  I don't think it would be game breaking if the spirit animal could attack as a 1HD monster, but it is a guardian afterall.  As a DM I would love to do a lot of cool things with this animal. Hell, it would make for a great "patronus" like spell.  Also I would have the shaman need to go on a "vision quest" to find their spirit animal.  Get all new-agey with it.
The shaman fills the same niche as does the druid in other OSR/D&D games, but is not really 100% the same thing.  This is good, a game could be run that has both druids and shamen in it and still be plenty for them both to do.

Which class to play will often be determined I think by their spell lists. If I were to play the Enchanter I might want to supplement some of his spells.  Maybe grab a few illusionist spells some more Enchantment spells from the 3.x SRD. The Shaman works great out of the box.
I would play both to be honest.   Heck, I have a "Basic" game coming up that might be interesting to try out one or both of these.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Werewolves For Basic Era Games

Tomorrow night is Walpurgis Night.  A night when witches, vampires, and werewolves are known to be out.
I have already given you Witches and Vampires so now I present Werewolves.



Werewolves: The Beast Within is a 10/20 level race-as-a-class class for your favorite Basic Era OSR game.

From the back cover:

Werewolves…
The fear to loose control and become a hungry, blood lusted
beast has haunted our nightmares since we clutched together
in the dark. It has also been the secret desire of others.

Lycanthropes been a staple of role-playing villains, monsters, and
anti-heroes since the dawn of the role-playing hobby.

Now you can play these fearsome monsters of horror tales and
movies in your Basic-Era style games.

Presented here is a full 20 level class with all the classic
werewolf powers.

Fully compatible with the werewolf monsters you have been
using for nearly 40 years.

Also fully compatible with my books for Witches and Vampires.

This one is a buck, but that is really just to pay for the art.

So celebrate "Half-aween" (half way to Halloween) with some classic monsters.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Class Struggles: Clerics, Wizards and Witches

This is Zohir Totek. Is she a cleric, wizard or witch?
Ok so stop me if you have heard this one before...
a Cleric, a Wizard and a Witch walk into a dungeon...

ok, you likely haven't heard that one before.  Why? Well there is still some confusion over what roles each of these character classes play.

I mean we all, old-school gamers and new-school, seem to have a good grasp on the concept of what a wizard does, or at least can do.  They cast spells. They are the "smart guys" in the group. So I am not going into detail about them just yet.

Clerics also cast spells.  But they also heal and are better at bashing in skulls and killing undead.  Some old-school blogs in the past have posted things about not needing clerics in games. I believe that Lamentations of the Flame Princess doesn't even have a Cleric class.   I have seen other posts over the years that also attest to this anti-Cleric vibe.    This is not even getting into the divide between clerics, druids, mystics and invokers.   I never quite got this. My first character was a cleric.  For me he was a hunter of the Undead and later demons.  While certainly there is the "party medic" part to the cleric's job, there is the "occult" aspect too.  When you stop fighting orcs and goblins and move to ghouls, vampires and demons then you are going to need/want a cleric in your group.  Yes. Wizards can and should cover some of this as well.

It is fairly well known that the idea behind clerical undead turning  came from Peter Cushing's Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer Dracula films.  Why not extend the metaphor to include the rest of Van Helsing's portfolio.  As a class that puts a high value on Wisdom then the cleric should be a font of knowledge. Sure, this can also be done by the Wizard,  but the cleric's input should not be understated.  For me I guess I look at what is the prime attribute of the any-school Cleric.  Wisdom. Always has been, likely always will be.   Compare this to the equally constant Wizard; Intelligence, always has been, likely always will be too.
For me, if your cleric and wizard are not getting into heated arguments in the game then you are missing out on some good roleplaying experiences.

Matters become more complicated when you through in a witch or a warlock (as I am wont to do). Or even and Oracle (Pathfinder), Druid (any), Invoker (D&D4), and/or a Sorcerer (Post D&D3).  It can quickly become a mess really.

I have talked at great length on what the roles and powers of a witch are or should be:
so I am not going to recount those all here.

In my book The Witch I have an appendix of things you can do with the Magic-User to make it more Wizard like.  I know this goes against the central conceit of the "magic-user" but it is what has worked for me. Yes you can play a by-the-book magic-user and give her "witch" spells.  I have done this for every edition of D&D I have ever played to be honest.  I spend a lot of time and energy on this topic.

So here are some rough guidelines.  These are based on my games really and focused on my own particular flavor of Old-School.  So your mileage will vary.

Clerics (Wisdom, Divine): Max spell level 7, some powers (turning undead, healing magic in other editions), greater combat ability and greater hit points.  Knowledge of outer planes and evil magical monsters.  Worship and follow their gods.  Best healing spells.
See also Mystics, Druids, Healers, Invokers.

Wizards (Intelligence, Arcane): Max spell level 9, not a lot of extra powers (I give them Read Magic for free). Weak combat ability, best at knowledge on monsters.  No special attention is paid to gods.  Best at spell research and magic item creation.  Best damage dealing spells.
See also Sorcerers, Illusionists.

Witch (Charisma, Occult): Max spell level 8, extra powers. Spells are overall weaker than a wizard. Weak combat ability.   Knowledge of supernatural and fey creatures.  Learn spells from patrons via familiars.  Might call them gods, but they are not necessarily so.  Best change of condition/state spells (curses, polymorphs) that may or may not cause direct (HP) damage.
See also Warlocks.

I can see a relationship that goes like this:




Of course, this is overly simple. But I can see other magic using classes here.
I wonder what is in the center?  Any ideas or guesses?

Compare to this RPG Archetypes graphic I saw on facebook, G+ and recently over at Observations of the Fox.

Click for much larger



I love graphics like this.  I could do the next 10-12 Class Struggles on that triangle alone.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mail Call!

Look what came in the mail yesterday!


Hardcovers of White Star from +James Spahn, Between Star & Void by +Matthew Skail and a softcover of the B/X Rogue from +Gavin Norman.

They all look great and since they came in at the same time I am thinking a Plays Well With Others is in order.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Class Struggles: B/X Classes

The last few weeks I have been focussing on various classes and it dawns on me that I need something along the lines of a B/X Class Compendium for myself.  Not to publish or anything, but just my own use.   I also have to admit that I have been following (but commenting as much as I would like) +Jonathan Becker's analysis of the Holmes classes and subclasses.  If you have not read it, please do, it is great stuff.  Yeah it might be nostalgia and navel-gazing, but who cares, it is fun stuff.

Like Becker I am a fan of B/X, aka Moldvay/Cook/March era D&D.  So my class choices will be ones that are largely compatible with that.  It's also no big surprise that most of the classes I like also tend to be magic ones.

Lets see what I have.

Witch
Covered many times and many places here.  Yes, I am partial to my own witch, but I am also rather fond of the witches from other designers. While some have this class as a sub-class of the Magic-User but I have the Witch as her own thing.
Warlocks have always been problematic for me.  It was not till I started working on for Pathfinder. I looked a few of these as well.  I am still not 100% certain which is my favorite to be honest.  Maybe the one from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
But if I am going to have witches and warlocks then I am going to need a witch hunter.  I looked at a few, but I think I will have to go with the one from Jonathan Becker's The Complete B/X Adventurer.

Fighters
I have maybe played two fighters, proper fighters, in the last 36 years.  But I really enjoy rangers and paladins.
Knights/Cavaliers.  I have not covered these guys yet, but I am rather fond of the Castle & Crusades Knights.
Beastmasters. I rather like these guys and my favorite is from The Complete B/X Adventurer.
If I am going to have a paladin then I am going to want an Anti-Paladin. My favorite is the one from the ACKS Player's Companion.

Rogue
Covered yesterday, the B/X Rouge could be a replacement for the normal thief class.  With this class I can make a thief, a bard, an arcane-trickster, or any other thief like class. There some templates though I can look at.
The Bard is of particular interest to me really.  A really good bard would be great.
The Occultist is a class from Fantastic Heroes & Witchery is another rogue-like class that I could build using the rogue.

Magic-Users
I would opt for the Wizard alternate I have in my Witch book.
For Illusionists I am going with the Basic Illusionist  from +Nathan Irving. I think it is the best choice.
For Necromancers there are so many choices, I might have to make my own.

Psionics
For psychic classes, +Richard LeBlanc has me covered with his Basic Psionics Handbook. That gives me a Mystic and a Monk.

Clerics
I have always been fond of clerics. They were the first class I ever played.  I would keep them as is, with the additional rule that they can use the same weapon as their god.
I will also keep Druids and add in a Healer class I made back in the early 80s.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: The B/X Rogue

I love new B/X classes. If I have demonstrated nothing else here it is that.  So when +Gavin Norman of the excellent City of Iron blog and Necrotic Gnome Productions came out with a new B/X class, well I had to get it.
Gavin has already given us some great classes in his Theorems & Thaumaturgy and The Complete Vivimancer. Now he takes on the thief archetype in The B/X Rogue.

I say archetype because what this book tries (and succeeds, but more on that in a bit) to do is create a Rogue class that encompasses all of the various "sub-classes" we have seen on the thief over the years.  How he does it is both very elegant and very, very basic, if not Basic.

Like the thief the rogue has a number of talents at his/her disposal.  Instead of a percentile (or d20) roll the rogue is assumed to be fully proficient in their talent.  The differences lie in the choice of talents and some of the talents themselves.  The example given is the iconic Remove Traps.  If a rogue has this at 1st level then they can remove or disable a trap 100% of the time.  However the types of traps are now changed.  The rogue can only disable small mechanical traps. Not huge pits in the floor.

The rogue class begins with 4 talents. This increases by 1 per level.  Some talents have prerequisites and can only be taken at 5th level (Expert Talents, love the split of Basic and Expert Talents here).  Outside of that the class it remarkably like the B/X thief.  

The bulk of the book describe the 36 talents a rogue might take.  This allows for near infinite (or close enough for the amount of character sheets I'll print out) rogue types.  There are even magical talents for the Bards and Arcane Tricksters out there. Of course I immediately went to the magic section and quickly figured out an Occult Scholar, a rogue that raids tombs and libraries for bits of arcane knowledge and some spells to help them out. Won't help you when you need an orc killed, unless he has a scroll for it.

There is also a very useful table to help you with your archetypes.  Want an assassin? Great, take back-stab, hide, garotte, move quietly at 1st level.  There are 10 of these, so a d10 will also get you up and going fast.  Don't want a magic-one? Easy. Roll a d8 instead.

The PDF itself is 26 pages; a front cover, a back cover and two page OGL, all for a $1.50.  Not a bad deal at all really, especially when consider how flexible this class is now.

If you are a fan of the theif class, B/X or Gavin's other classes then this is a must buy.

Plays Well With Others
With the options of adding magic to the Rogue to come up with other classes (Bards, Dabbler's and Arcane Tricksters) you can add other powers to make even more classes.

Grab +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook and use some of the wild talents for rogue talents to create a Psychic Dabbler or a Charlantan with some actual clairvoyance.

Take the Arcanve Dabbler and replace the magic-user spell at 1st level with a witch spell and then a minor or least occult power at 5th level and now you have a Hedge Witch.

I could go on and on, but for cheaper than a 20 oz Mt. Dew at the gas station you can have this book and make up your own!

I can see this replacing the theif in my B/X games easily.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Demon Hunter Class for AA (and C&C)

Just in time for Halloween (but I just found it now) Jason Vey has put out a new Demon Hunter class for his SIEGE Engine Amazing Adventures RPG.

http://bit.ly/aafreeclass

While designed for the Pulp-era adventures of Amazing Adventures this class also would work fantastic with Castles and Crusades.

The class is much more "Buffy" than it is "Solomon Kane" but you could do either with it.  Mostly though it reminds me of John Gregory, the Spook, from the "Last Apprentice" book series.

It compares well to the Paladin really, except it doesn't have healing, spells or a special mount. It does have supernatural senses and a special weapon.

Just another reminder that I need to play more Castles & Crusades.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Will the Great Pumpkin Bring You?

Still buried in projects include my day job.

But I always get myself something gaming related for Halloween.  Not sure what I am getting myself this year, I got a lot of really cool books at Gen Con that I have barely cracked open.

One thing that has me interested in The Demonolater from +Joseph Bloch.
http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2015/10/31-days-of-halloween-dark-offering.html

His Darker Paths books for the Witch and the Necromancer were a lot of fun and I expect this to be the same.

What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Class Struggles: The Occultist & Skylla

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery has crazy number of classes. There were  so many to choose from and this is even given the fact that there is no "cleric" class to speak of.    I wanted to address this and talk about the Wiseman/Wisewoman and maybe I still will, later down the road.  But today I want to focus on the Occultist.

The Occultist is a magic-using character that ends up having a lot of dealings with various fiendish creatures.  The class is one of the "Weird Tales" era classes presented in the book, but there is no reason it could not be used with other dungeon crawling types of classes.  It is not the strongest character on the block and it's spell selection and use is a little limited, but it has some nice features.

To begin with the Occultist will be the undeniable expert on anything fiendish.  Demons, Devils, whatever your world has, they will know about it.  They can add their level to any skill check involving demonic/fiendish lore.  This applies to any skill. The example given are survival checks when crossing a hellish-plane or a charisma check when dealing with demons.  Not too shabby really.
At third level then even get secret knowledge of the demon slayers to aid them.
As the occultist gets higher levels they can even banish a demonic creature al together. Much like a cleric turning undead.

But all of this comes at a price.  The occultist is tainted by corruption.   The abyss staring back at you.
As they earn higher levels they have to make a Wisdom save vs. corruption or move closer and closer to chaos.  A nice idea really.

Occultists learn spells from books or other occultists.  But unlike wizards they do not have a number of spells per level they know, but rather a total number of spells and the highest level they can learn.  So a 7th level Occultist knows 7 spells and the maximum spell level of 4th.  Of those seven spells all can be 1st level or some other mix. It depends what the occultist can find in their travels.
Personally I would modify that up based on Intelligence, but that is me. The Occultist uses "Black Magic" spells, but I wonder if starting occultists could get away with using Grey magic too.  At least until they fail more saves and become chaotic.

In many ways this spell casting system is the same as what you see in the Witch from The Complete B/X Adventurer.  There are in fact many similarities in tone and the manner in which they get spells.  I can see some overlap in these classes.


Which gives me an idea.

Skylla, 7th Level Occultist

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 13

Hit Points:  20 (d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

Special Abilities
1st: Dark Lore (+7 to fiend-based/related skill checks)
3rd: Secret knowledge of demonslayers
6th: banish fiend 1/day

Spells
Maximum Spell Level: 3rd
Number of Spells known: 6
1st Level: Read Magic, Cause Fear, Chill Touch, Find Familar
2nd Level: Black Lightning
3rd Level:  Bestow Curse

Not bad, I only gave her the minimum spells, but she would likely have more secreted away in a tome for later learning.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day: Multiclassing




For this Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day I want to put out something I have been playing around with.

For the record I am using the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook from Frog God Games.

Swords & Wizardry Multiclassing

I LOVE the old school games. B/X, AD&D, BECMI, and the clones.  But the one thing I always felt 3.x Edition did better than any other edition, past or future, was multiclassing.  The rules were easy, you could multiclass into a lot of great combinations to get that character concept you really wanted.
With many of the OSR games (original and clone) the multiclassing rules were less than optimal in my mind.

So I wanted to bring 3e style multiclassing to the clone world. The biggest issue with doing this though is 3e made the classed more alike in terms of advancement.  Now people will complain that this attempt at game balance "ruined" the class's uniqueness. I say rubbish.  So the classes are bit more balanced than before, that's not a bug, it's a feature.  I was looking over SW and I realized I could do what I wanted easily.

Swords & Wizardry classes are largely like 3e ones now.  The unified Save and Ascending AC make saves and to hits much easier to deal with.  I just need to see if something like this is feasible.

So I dumped it all into Google Sheets. Which I am sharing below.



The tabs are where I worked out median XP vaules, base to hit and base saving throws.
The final analysis is on tab SW Level Advancement.

So like 3e, this has all the classes  use the same level advancement table.  Base Saving Throw is based on Character Level (not Class Level).  Classes then add what ever bonuses they need.
Now if you are adding things up in your head you can see a problem right now.  Take a level of Ranger and improve your total saves.  I thought about that.  My solution is not elegant, but it works.  I will get to that in a moment.

So how does it all work?  Simple you take a class just like you do in SW when you get enough XP to level up you can keep going in that class and get the advantages listed for that class you you can take another class.  Your hit points are determined by your Class Levels.  Saves are based on Character Levels.

So if you are a Fighter 3/Magic-User 2 you have at least 16,000xp, your Base Save is 11.
Your hit points are 3d8 + 2d4 + Constitution Modifier x 5 (class level).
With these rules this character can still use a sword and cast spells.  He can't wear armor since that is a restriction of the Magic-user class.

There are a couple of logical next steps here.

First this opens up a wide variety of choices for demi-human characters.  Keep level caps if you like, but I think there are not enough game-design reasons to do this.  If you want to "balance" things out give humans +1 on any two ability scores of their choice and +1 on saves.  Call it Human Resilience.

The other logical leap is this would allow Prestige Classes in SW.

Prestige Classes in Swords & Wizardry

Here is an example of the Loremaster.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/prestigeClasses/loremaster.htm

Requirements
To qualify to become a loremaster, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Skills
Knowledge (any two) 10 ranks in each.

Feats
Any three metamagic or item creation feats, plus Skill Focus (Knowledge [any individual Knowledge skill]).

Spells
Able to cast seven different divination spells, one of which must be 3rd level or higher.

These would have to change to something more fitting to S&W.

Requirements
To qualify to become a loremaster, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Character Level: 6th
Intelligence Score of 16 or higher.
Wisdom Score of 14 or higher.
The ability to cast five different divination spells, one of which must be 3rd level or higher.

Loremaster
Level Attack  Special Spells
1 +0 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class 
2 +0 Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
3 +1 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
4 +1 Bonus Language      Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
5 +2 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
6 +2 Greater Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
7 +3 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
8 +3 Bonus Language Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
9 +4 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
10 +5 True Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class

Saving throws are based on Character Level, not Class Level.
Level is obvious.  Attack just adds to the attacks as the base class (like Cleric or Magic-User).  Spells are also obvious, keep advancing in spells as you normally would.

The Special will need some work.

From the SRD:
Class Features
All of the following are Class Features of the loremaster prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Loremasters gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day/Spells Known
When a new loremaster level is gained, the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if she had also gained a level in a spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds the level of loremaster to the level of some other spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.

Secret
At 1st level and every two levels higher than 1st (3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th), the loremaster chooses one secret from the table below. Her loremaster level plus Intelligence modifier determines the secrets from which she can choose. She can’t choose the same secret twice.

Loremaster Secrets
Level +Int Modifier Secret Effect
1 Instant mastery 4 ranks of a skill in which the character has no ranks
2 Secret health +3 hit points
3 Secrets of inner strength +2 bonus on Will saves
4 The lore of true stamina +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
5 Secret knowledge of avoidance +2 bonus on Reflex saves
6 Weapon trick +1 bonus on attack rolls
7 Dodge trick +1 dodge bonus to AC
8 Applicable knowledge Any one feat
9 Newfound arcana 1 bonus 1st-level spell
10 More newfound arcana 1 bonus 2nd-level spell

Lore
At 2nd level, a loremaster gains the ability to know legends or information regarding various topics, just as a bard can with bardic knowledge. The loremaster adds her level and her Intelligence modifier to the lore check, which functions otherwise exactly like a bardic knowledge check.

Bonus Languages
A loremaster can choose any new language at 4th and 8th level.

Greater Lore (Ex)
At 6th level, a loremaster gains the ability to understand magic items, as with the identify spell.

True Lore (Ex)
At 10th level, once per day a loremaster can use her knowledge to gain the effect of a legend lore spell or an analyze dweomer spell.

So items in red need to be redone.  In order:
+4 to any check involving Intelligence on a previously unknown topic.
+2 on Saving throws vs. Mind control, ESP and Charm.
+2 on Saving throws vs. Petrify or Polymorph
+2 on Saving throws vs. moving out of the way.
Applicable Knowledge = Something like Secondary Skills.

Each prestige class would require some tweaking.  But at least now there is a place for them in S&W.

Earlier I mentioned the Ranger and Paladin are a bit too much (despite the fact that the median XP per level is the same as the Paladins).  My solution is make them Prestige Classes.

You would have to be a fighter first before moving into the vocation of Paladin or Ranger.  There is some precedent for this in Rules Cyclopedia and even Unearthed Aracana.

It would take some cleaning up, but I think this is a solid system.  It would still have the same feel as S&W while giving you the flexibility of 3e.

What do you all think?
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