Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Replacing the Halfling - The Fated


          As detailed in my posts about the Spellsword & Stalwart , I've been removing racial classes from my OSR game. I've finally moved on to replacing the Halfling, which has always been my least favorite of the core classes, being that it is in many ways a less interesting and more specific Thief/Specialist. I pulled some of the modern tropes of Halflings into this class, with the hopes of differentiating it from Specialist.

The Fated

          There are those in this life whom Fortuna seems to favor. Whether vicious or virtuous, some folk never have to see the true consequences of their actions. To the frustration of both their fellows and enemies, fate seems to conspire to keep them safe and happy - or at least never bored. These men and women take risks that strike others as mad, seemingly without regard to the outcomes. Some are simply lucky in some inexplicable way, while others have seemingly honed their innate luck into some sort of quasi-magical skill. Regardless of the source of their ability to warp probability, these folk are known by many names, many of them specific to the culture or people from whom they hail, but the most common is Fated. Fated make for ideal adventuring companions, their inborn talents for luck allowing them to wriggle out of situations which would otherwise doom themselves and their friends. The fact that the Fated is often responsible for the predicament in the first place is generally not lost on them.


Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Knack
Kismet
1
0
1d6
10
8
13
9
12
2-in-6
1/day, +1/-1
2
2,000
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
2-in-6
1/day, +1/-1
3
4,000
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
3-in-6
2/day, +2/-2
4
8,000
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
3-in-6
2/day, +2/-2
5
16,000
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
4-in-6
3/day, +3/-3
6
32,000
1d6
4
2
4
3
6
4-in-6
3/day, +3/-3
7
64,000
1d6
4
2
4
3
6
5-in-6
4/day, +3/-2
8
128,000
1d6
2
2
2
2
4
5-in-6
4/day, +3/-2
9
256,000
1d6
2
2
2
2
4
6-in-6
5/day, +3/-1
10
+128,000/lvl
+2*/lvl
2
2
2
2
4
6-in-6
5/day, +3/-1
*: Constitution modifiers no longer apply.


B/X & OSE Rules
Requirements
Minimum DEX 9, CHA 9
Prime Requisite
DEX and CHA
Hit Dice
d6
Maximum Level
10
Armor
Any, including shields
Weapons
Any
Languages
Alignment, Common


          Lacking any formal training, Fated rely on their strangely positive relationship with chance to win the day for them. To represent their oddly effective flailing, the Fated may use the Defensive Fighting (+2 to AC/ -4 to Attack) option while in combat. Fated can bend the laws of probability around them to a certain extent (generally unconsciously, but some Fated are aware of their abilities) with an ability known as Kismet. Kismet takes the form of a re-roll, followed by a coin flip. Fated may use Kismet a number times per day as denoted by their class table. Kismet can be used after a roll has been made which affects a PC (whether that be a save, attack or damage roll)x but before results have been declared. The use of Kismet is expended, and then the Fated flips a coin; on a heads the Fated adds the first number in their Kismet table as a bonus to the re-roll, on a tails they add the second number as a penalty to the re-roll. Any particular roll may only be affected once by Kismet or an effect similar to it. The Fated must accept the results of the second roll, even if it is worse.


          Living a life reliant on luck means Fated are well traveled enough that they've been forced through necessity to develop skills beyond that of the average person. Though unable to match the breadth of the Specialist, Fated may choose a single skill from the Specialist's skill list as their Knack, with the exception of Sneak Attack. That skill automatically improves as they gain levels, as detailed in their class table above.

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Few of my Favorite Things - Four Classes from the OSR-sphere



         At this point it should be fairly obvious that I enjoy making classes. I derive an odd amount of enjoyment from making new avenues for my players to explore, and I find the search for new archetypes and novel mechanics to be akin to solving a puzzle. Classes to me are something than be generalized, or extremely specific as the situation merit. As a result I've read a lot of classes over the years, including many in the wider OSR community and with this article I want to spotlight a few of my favorites!


by Bernie the Flumph

          This class is great - 1/2 Eugen Sandow, 1/2 Shaw Bros. Studio Protagonist, all martial arts hijinx. At base the class gets a full attack bonus as per fighter...as long as they're not wielding any weapons. This, along with the fact that they add their Con to their AC, means that you can effectively act as the unarmed and unarmored archetype that the class is aspiring towards. The class also gains access to sets of fighting techniques known as stances, which allow them to vary their approach enough to still be useful when say, a flying enemy or a golem shows up.


by KingBrackish

          I find this class to be notable for a few reasons, the first is that it is the inspiration for my own approach to classes (I use the same naming structure for instance) and the second is that I am fascinated by the idea of rolling the rest of your abilities on a table at character creation. The Immolated is based around the idea that your character has given themselves to the F L A M E S by literally lighting themselves on fire before the game begins. The number of bonuses and abilities they receive - as well as penalties - is based around this roll at the beginning. The abilities themselves are quite neat, and fit with the overall theme of self-sacrifice through flames.


by The Lawful Neutral

         I'm not part of the GLOGsphere, but I will occasionally read classes that I come across, and this one really stood out in how novel the central mechanics are. The character is a slime! A yummy one! Which has a distinct effect on game play, as your fellow party members can use the potions, rations and scrolls (by taking some of your HP) on themselves which have been stored in the slime's body. The slime itself grows larger in tandem with it's HP pool, letting it split that pool among various effects. I adore this class so much that I want to try and adapt something similar for LotFP & B/X.


by The Merry Mushmen

         A sort of potpourri of various abilities which all shake out to increased survival and utility, the Ne'er-do-Well is aping one of my favorite archetypes in all of fiction - the dirty scoundrel, lovable rogue or dirty coward - all variations on a non-combat focused Specialist. Charisma, being a largely forgotten stat outside of hirelings, actually get some use in this class. It also has a fairly elegant and low-impact luck mechanic which I could see being used without seeming onerous.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Drake - LotFP Custom Class

          Everyone who has ever run a game of D&D has been asked The Question by a player at one point, "Well it's called Dungeons and Dragons, so why can't I play one?" There have been various attempts to answer this question with an affirmative response over the years, most notably with 3.X/4th Edition's Dragonborn (which themselves had their likely genesis in Dragonlance's Draconians), as well as Council of Wyrms, which was a box-set for Dragons as PCs for AD&D. I thought that given my propensity to endlessly create classes, I should add to these questionably thought out attempts with one of my own for OD&D. Referees are of course encouraged to consider the implications of allowing a Drake PC in their games.


          Figures of dread and oppression to the world around them, Dragons are perhaps the most powerful creatures on most prime material planes, with perhaps only Giants being able to challenge them. But they don't start off that way. Dragons grow in power and size as they acquire wealth, not through simple age, and while what is considered to be "wealth" may change from society to society, the effect it has on them is the same. As a result, young Dragons, known as Wyrmlings or Drakes are uncommon, but not completely unknown sights within civilized areas. While most Dragons build their wealth by what amounts to banditry, others are drawn to the hustle and bustle of towns and cities by the prosperity which exists there. Restraining (some) of their natural greed, these Drakes can become fixtures in the communities which they choose to become a part of. Their natural toughness, ability to fly and breathe fire makes them ideal enforcers, guards, and even adventurers. Given the long lifespan of their race, this arrangement can last for decades, even centuries.

Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Flight
Thick Hide
Puff
1
0
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
5'
+0
3-in-6
2
3,500
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
5'
+0
3-in-6
3
7,000
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
10'
+1
3-in-6
4
14,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
10'
+1
4-in-6
5
28,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
15'
+1
4-in-6
6
56,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
15'
+2
4-in-6
7
112,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
20'
+2
4-in-6
8
224,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
20'
+2
5-in-6
9
448,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
25'
+3
5-in-6
10
672,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
25'
+3
5-in-6
11
912,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
30'
+3
5-in-6
12
1,152,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
30'
+4
6-in-6
13
1,392,000
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
35'
+4
6-in-6
14
1,632,000
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
35'
+4
6-in-6
15+
+224,000/lvl
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
40'
+4
6-in-6
*: Constitution modifiers no longer apply.

B/X & OSE Rules
Requirements
Minimum STR 14
Prime Requisite
STR
Hit Dice
d10
Maximum Level
14
Armor
None
Weapons
None
Languages
Alignment, Common, Draconic


          Drakes physically grow larger as they level, starting at roughly the size of an average dog at level 1 and ending up a little larger than a fully-grown bull by around level 12. Drakes have a movement speed of 30, and they can see in the dark as Dwarves.

          Befitting their status as the juvenile form of Dragons, Drakes are possessed with several powerful abilities unique to their class, as well as several important restrictions. Drakes cannot use equipment which was designed for humanoids, most notably weapons, clothing and armor, including magical items of that nature. Drakes are also restricted in how they are able to spend their lucre, being forced to stockpile any gold, gems or other notably valuable and non-perishable goods. They must amass this wealth in a central location, which eventually will become the center of their hoard when they grow older. There is no inherent mechanical penalty for losing part or all of this hoard, but the Drake will almost certain want it back and the Referee is encouraged to give an XP penalty to or even stop the advancement of a Drake who makes no attempt to regain or rebuild their hoard.


          Drakes possess four abilities as part of their very beings, and cannot be stripped from them by any means short of maiming, all of which grow in power along with them as they level:
  • Attack with their natural claws and teeth as a d4 (as opposed to the normal d2), this die increases to a d6 at level 5, and once more to a d8 at level 10.
  • May fly, with the distance that they're allowed in a single turn given in their class table. Drakes may not hover, though they need not use their entire movement in a single turn. Any movement used while flying also counts against their movement on the ground.
  • Enjoy the benefits of natural armor, with their Thick Hide rating in their class table acting as a bonus to AC.
  • Can exhale a gout of flame as a ranged attack. The Drake makes a skill roll against their Puff skill as detailed in their class table. On a successful skill check, the Drake is allowed a ranged attack roll at a max range of 180', on a hit the Drake deals 1d6 fire damage. This damage increases to 2d6 at level 6, then to 3d6 at level 12. For the purposes of overcoming resistance, this damage is considered magical.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Dying Earth Monsters Part III - Pelgrane


         
          
          In this third entry on my series on the denizens of the Dying Earth, I'm going over everybody's favorite evil flying predators, Pelgrane. While the Deodand are Vance's go to threat whenever he needed an inhuman enemy to bedevil his characters on the ground, Pelgrane are the ever present threat which makes travel across the Dying Earth as hazardous as the setting's name suggests.

          Our pal Cugel is nearly eaten by one while he is flying through the sky on a magic bed he had stolen from a wizard's manse:

"A black shadow fluttered across the sun; a heavy black object swooped down to alight at the foot of Cugel's bed; a pelgrane of middle years, to judge by the silky gray hair of its globular abdomen. Its head, two feet long, was carved of black horn, like that of a stag-beetle and white fangs curled up past its snout. Perching on the bedstead it regarded Cugel with both avidity and amusement. "Today I shall breakfast in bed," said the pelgrane. "Not often do I so indulge myself.""

          In a similar scene, Etarr and T'sais are threatened by one's approach in their tale:

They walked on in silence. Suddenly he grasped her arm and pulled her low in the furze. Three great shapes went flapping across the afterglow. "The pelgrane!"
They flew close overhead—gargoyle creatures, with wings creaking like rusty hinges. T'sais caught a glimpse of hard leathern body, great hatchet beak, leering eyes in a wizened face. She shrank against Etarr.
The pelgrane flapped across the forest.”


          Rhialto, when sent to another time period in the setting's history, is warned of a creature similar to a Pelgrane by one of his wizard fellows:
"The Grand Gazetteer lists only six magicians currently active, the nearest far to the north, in the present Land of Cutz. A flying creature known as the 'dyvolt' rules the skies; it resembles a pelgrane with a long nasal horn and uses the common language."

         Unfortunately these are the only direct mentions of the Pelgranes description which I could find, otherwise they're simply interacted with or mentioned by name. Like many of Vance's creatures, their actual looks are left up mostly to the reader's imagination. As a result of these somewhat contrary details, the truth of their appearance is somewhat murky beyond the fact that they are large, have the ability to fly, and like all of Vance's creatures, the ability to engage in witty banter. This allows us to draw one of a few conclusions:


  • Each Pelgrane is unique, or otherwise extremely diverse in appearance aside from a few general traits.
  • Pelgrane refers to a range of flying creatures which menace the Dying Earth.
  • The seemingly at odds descriptions are taken at face value. Pelgrane are gargoyle-like creatures with leathery hides, who eventually grow silky grey hair on their abdomens in middle age. They have hatchet beaks, filled with white fangs.

          None of these would make Pelgrane the strangest creature in the setting. While the situation is ambiguous, i'd go with the first option if I were going to include them in my own game; the variation in their looks would serve to further play up the bizarre nature of the Dying Earth. Anyway, let's move on to stats!


B/X Stats:

HD: 4 (HP 28)
Armor: As Leather
Move: 20', Fly 50'
Attacks: 1 Bite, 2d4+2
Special: Nimble Flyer; a Pelgrane may attack at any time before or after it's movement.


5th Edition Stats:

Large Monstrosity, Chaotic Evil
Armor Class: 14 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points: 42 (6d10 + 12)
Speed: 20 ft., fly 60 ft.
Abilities: Str 16 (+3), Dex 17 (+3), Con 14 (+2), Int 11 (+0), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 7 (-2)
Saving Throws: Dex +5
Skills: Perception +4
Damage Resistances: None
Condition Immunities: None
Senses: passive Perception 16
Languages: Common
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)
Flyby. Pelgranes do not provoke an opportunity attack when it flies out of an enemy's reach.

Actions

Multiattack. Pelgrane make two bite attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3)

All art is the property of it's respective owners.