Sunday, August 30, 2015

CX1: Character Class Codex Update

Because I know people will ask, there will still be an animal classes book. It will be CX2: Animal Class Codex. I do not have a date on it, but will likely be the early part of 2016. Today, I will be discussing the Character Class Codex (CX1) only.

On a side note, the Basic Psionics Handbook is moving into final editing stages, and I will be starting the illustrations for it soon. Don't want to share target release dates yet for fear of getting ahead of myself (there is, after all, that yet-to-be-announced 5e project that's getting juggled in there too). I would like for the Basic Psionics Handbook and the Character Class Codex to release at the same time so people don't have to wait on the other in order to order. That will likely be the determining factor for release date.

Okay, 'nuff housekeeping, now on to the nitty gritty...



Right now, the Character Class Codex is clocking in at 92 pages, and the content list looks something like this.



Alchemist: more of an NPC; includes descriptions for 60 potions, and information about hiring them to create potions

Archer-Rogue: follows the Robin Hood archetype (prev. shared on blog)

Bard (Version I): mixes Norse skald, Celtic bard and French jongleur; BX-only, w/ thieve's abilities and MU spells in addition to charm and lore skills

Bard (Version II): out of Welsh tradition; has druidic spellcasting (uses AEC) in addition to charm and lore abilities

Beastmaster: pretty self-explanatory (prev. shared on blog)

Bogatyr: Russian-inspired knight-errant with ability to grow to giant size (prev. shared on blog)

Challenger: a fighter class that gets better in melee the longer he fights a single opponent; also gains a sworn with each level

Dragi: class adaptation of dragon-headed spellcasters from the Creature Compendium; includes 2 new dragi spells

Elves: includes drow, gray, shadow, wild, wood and half-elf; the shadow elf includes 20 new shadow-elf-specific spells

Florentine: a two-fisted fighter class

Gnomes: includes 3 types, the grey gnome (miner/fighter/illusionists), the brown gnome (miner/thief/illusionists), and the green gnome (live in trees and use druidic magic); the first two have limited magical abilities (dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation) but no learned spells; the latter includes information for all of its 42 druid-like spells, about a dozen of which are new

Half-Orc: I'm using this to fill in the BX need for an assassin (but using a race class to do it); the half-orc also has an intimidation melee ability

Kineticist: a telekinetic psionicist with ability to use some attack/defense modes (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Martial Acrobat: an acrobat that is not a thief, but instead using tumbling and agility to deflect, evade, and attack

Metathurge: my take on the incantatrix (a spellcaster that focuses on affecting magic itself); still working on this, but will include about a dozen new spells

Ranger: the BX-only ranger I shared on the blog the other day

Runecasters: human and dwarven; introduces a new magic approach built around the runecasting; includes (spell) descriptions for 43 runes

Sauteur: a mystical combatant w/ psychoportative powers (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Savant (Version I): a clairsentient combatant (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Savant (Version II): a traditional intellectual savant; at lower levels has detection and comprehension skills; starts gaining both cleric and MU spells as mid-level

Scribe: more of an NPC type; includes costs for hiring the scribe for specific duties

Shapeshifters: 2 types... the polymorpher (able to polymorph into any type of creature) and the manimal (able to polymorph into only normal or giant animals, but not fantastic creatures)

Skald: a bardic fighter; includes a new approach to magic through the use of songs; includes (spell) descriptions for 42 songs

Spy: has most of a thief's abilities, plus escape, bluff and disguise

Steppe Shamans: 2 types (white and black); adapted from Valley of the Five Fires, but tweaked to be more BX-specific (e.g., spell durations); includes the 38 spell descriptions from the module (tweaked to BX)

Telepath: a telepathic psionicist with ability to use some attack/defense modes (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Tinkers: 2 types (human and dwarven); still working on this, but planning on giving them "contraptions" instead of spells (with requirements for materials and construction time); also function for lock-picking, trap-finding, etc.

Varlet: a deceiver based on the mentalist (TV show) archetype (prev. shared on blog)

Völva: adapted from Dragon Horde Zine #2 to be more BX-specific; includes the 20 new spells that were appeared in the zine

Warslinger: the halfling sling-master combatant (already shared on the blog)

Wenwet: an Egyptian inspired spellcaster; part priest, part MU; spells come from both lists but focus on transformation

Woodland Races: centaurs (fighters), fauns (charm and illusory magic), and satyrs (charm magic, no illusions)



There will likely be a couple of additional appendix items: one with new psionic disciplines (not included in Basic Psionics Handbook), and one with some new spells. There are a couple of other appendices I'm considering, but want to reserve sharing those yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: (Halfling) Warslinger

Okay, so the second week of "New BX/LL Classes Week" is in full swing. Today continues with the warslinger. This is an old-school adaptation of one of the few later edition prestige classes that I find "fun enough" to be old school--the Warsling Sniper (simplified by me to "warslinger").

Again, I've gone ahead and made this a downloadable PDF. Unlike some of the other classes I've done that are sprawling, multi-page affairs, all of the new classes this week have been contained on a single page. That's one of the reasons you're seeing them as PDFs rather than text content with JPG snapshots of the class tables. And--oooh... today you get an illustration on the page!

Anyway, here you go...

Click here to download a free PDF of the
Warslinger BX/LL Character Class page from MediaFire.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: The "Purely BX" Ranger

So we had some quickie storms pass through yesterday afternoon, which caused a bit of a power outage in my neighborhood. That meant I couldn't do any client work (which is all on my desktop computer), so I grabbed my laptop and my sketchbook/notebook/journal thing, and decided to knock out a ranger class. The ranger has been on my mind lately not because I had intended a ranger for the Character Class Codex (I didn't), but because I happened to recently stumble across my copy of Dragon #106 (which has new skills for rangers). That got me to thinking about doing a ranger.

I've never really liked the 2 HD at first level thing from the Strategic Review, or how they tried to adjust for it in the AD&D PHB by reducing the HD for the ranger from d10 to d8, but I figured I'd see if I could come with another answer. Which is what I've done here... giving the ranger 1d6+1 at each level rather than 1d8 as a standard BX fighter. If you think about it from a mathematical POV, all it really does it average the randomness of the ranger's hp acquisition, but I feel like it still keeps the spirit of the original somehow. (BTW, don't get me wrong. I love any character that starts at first level with 2 HD. In fact, I'm currently playing a ranger in Steve Balog's group and that extra HD has come in handy at least once!)

The other thing I wanted to do was streamline the spells into a single list, and have them come solely from BX D&D (without having to rely on the LL AEC druid spells). So I culled the list to fit my conception of what a ranger's magic should do, and shifted them around a bit knowing that the original ranger got the druid spells at 1 level sooner than the MU spells, and created a list specifically for the ranger. That makes this a "purely BX" (i.e., "non-AEC") ranger! (No druid spells, no skill checks.)

Also, don't go and get all spoiled with another PDF download today. I'm just proud of the fact that I did the ranger in one page, and I wanted to show that off! Anyway, here you go...

Click here to download a free PDF of the Ranger BX/LL Character Class page from MediaFire.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: The Dragi

Welcome to day #2 of week #2 of "New BX Classes" week! Today, instead of just posting the copy for the new class into the blog post, I'm making the entire page available as a downloadable PDF.

Those of you who own the Creature Compendium will likely recognize today's class--the dragi. Essentially, this character class is an adaptation of that creature. The dragi was never meant to be any sort of OSR version of the dragonborn. I actually originally approached the idea of a draconic humanoid race from the POV of "What kind of creature would I have created in the early 80s that would be a dragon-headed humanoid?" The dragi are generally solitary, and hate other draconic types (a party can only ever include 1 dragi). They see themselves as cultured and refined (in fact, building a stronghold costs them double the normal price because of their demands on quality and aesthetics). That's the gist. Now download the PDF!

Click here to download a free PDF of the Dragi BX/LL Character Class page from MediaFire.

You'll notice this PDF is copyrighted. When the book is completed and published,
all of the character classes I've been posting will designated as open game content at that point.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: The Bogatyr

Welcome to week #2 of "New BX Classes" week. For a while, Welbo and I have been trying to develop a steppe-warrior class--the baghatur. Today's new class obviously comes from the same root language, and has the same underlying meaning of "hero"--the bogatyr (a Russian/Slavic inspired class). The differences between the two as classes are pretty drastic, despite the similarity in name. The baghatur is mounted bowman who's eventual goal is starting his own khanate. The bogatyr is more of a knight-errant, wandering in search of adventures to prove his heroic worth.

I'm taking a little liberty with the source materials, and drawing more from the legend of Svyatogor and stretching it a bit. Though Svyatogor was a giant bogatyr, he is the antagonist of the tale, and did not change size from normal human to giant (though my bogatyr below does). I just thought that made for a cool concept--a paladin-like figure whose deeds are rewarded with the supernatural ability to grow to giant size. The concept of premonitions comes from the same legend, and the Feats of Competition come from similar stories. All around, I think this gives some nice flavor to what is otherwise a fighter class.



THE BOGATYR

The bogatyr is a paladin-like fighter akin to the knight-errant—a warrior who wanders the land in search of adventures to prove his or her chivalric virtues. Unlike normal knights, however, bogatyrs possesses a number of supernatural abilities that truly set them apart. Though bards have been known to sing the praises of bogatyrs as being demigods, there is no proof of such a thing being true.

The prime requisites for bogatyrs are Strength and Wisdom. A bogatyr who has an Strength Score greater than 12 will earn a +5% bonus on earned experience. A bogatyr with an Strength score of 13 or greater AND a Wisdom score of 15 or greater will gain a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Bogatyrs use the same attack and saving tables as fighters.

RESTRICTIONS: Bogatyrs determine their hit points with eight-sided dice (d8). They may wear any type of armor and use a shield. Bogatyrs are permitted any type of weapon, as well as any magic item normally permitted a fighter. Bogatyrs may progress beyond the 14th level of experience, but all of their special abilities (e.g., giant growth), max out at 14th level. A bogatyr must have a minimum score of 9 in Charisma.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: A bogatyr benefits from a number of special abilities as outlined below:
Premonitions. Bogatyrs are predisposed to having premonitions—dream-like visions of people, places and things they are destined to encounter. The distance and the clarity of these premonitions increase with level (e.g., a 1st level bogatyr would have a much fuzzier vision of something no more than a day or two away, while a 14th level bogatyr would have a much clearer vision of something that may not happen for months or even years). The type, clarity, and frequency of premonitions is at the discretion of the DM, but provide opportunities to create suspense and intrigue for players in the adventure or campaigns.

Giant Growth. Every day, a bogatyr is able to grow to a larger size, temporarily increasing his or her Strength and the damage caused in melee combat (similar to a potion of growth). The number of turns per day that the bogatyr may spend in giant form rises with the character’s level, as does the height to which the bogatyr may grow, and the damage done while at that size.

Feats of Competition. At each level, beginning at 1st level, the bogatyr acquires one Feat of Competition. This feat can be used to automatically defeat an opponent in a contest that might otherwise seem unwinnable by the bogatyr (e.g., footrace against a character with a movement rating greater than the bogatyr’s). The feat must be accomplished in direct competition with a single NPC (and may not be a member of the bogatyr’s party). The bogatyr may use the feat at any time he or she wishes, but once used it is permanently lost. Unused feats may be “carried over” to the next level.
At 9th (name) level, the bogatyr may petition for ennoblement to the highest ranking noble in his or her district. Those bogatyrs that have proved themselves greathearted will generally find their request fulfilled. Once the bogatyr has been designated as aristocracy, he or she may choose to build a barony (at his or her own expense) by building a palace, clearing the land around it, and maintaining control of the area (by retaining footmen, horsemen, etc.). There is a 50% chance that the king will allow the bogatyr to clear an area of his or her choosing. Otherwise, the area of land on which the bogatyr will establish his or her barony will be chosen for him, based on the strategic needs of the kingdom.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thoughts Toward a New BX Class: The Runecaster

I had originally planned to post my gnome classes today, but I've decided to extend "New BX Classes Week" into a two week event, and will posting the gnomes on Monday. Instead, what I share with you today is a partially formed (but nearly completed) class... the runecaster.

I've been trying to figure out how to do a BX runecaster for a while. On the one hand, I want to keep the concept in line with a shaper who inscribes items with runes. On the other, I know that to be viable as a PC, the class must be functional enough to bring the character's abilities to the table on a daily basis. After all, what good is a runecaster if he serves no function in the day-to-day actions of the party (e.g., dungeon crawling). I think that's one of the reasons the runecaster has oft been relegated to the role of NPC—somebody the PCs visit to request a special item, then come back to in 1d12 days to retrieve their item.

I think I've found a fairly elegant answer that solves my issues. I will say, I don't think I would have come up with this answer had I not first developed my psionics rules. It was the psionics rules that made me really think about mechanics that are "simple enough" for BX, but still retain the spirit of the underlying subject. So here are the basic concepts...
I'm essentially converting the standard "required shaping time" (which, in the past, has been a random die roll to determine the time taken, e.g. 1d6 days), and assigning the rune a "Shaping Value" (essentially a complexity rating for the individual rune). Then, the number of runes that can be shaped per hour (or per day) is determined by the level of the runecaster (see the chart below). So while adventuring, a runecaster can shape 1 hour's worth of runes (after a full 8 hours rest). While not adventuring, the runecaster can shape 8 times that amount (assuming the full day is dedicated to shaping runes).

The runecaster may only have a maximum number of active runes equal to his or her level (e.g., a 7th level runecaster could have 7 runes active at one time). The number of active runes is unrelated to the shaping value (which only determines how many runes can be shaped in one hour, based on the shaping value of the rune).

Unlike spells, the "level" of the rune doesn't reflect a power level (that's reflected by the shaping value). Instead, it simply denotes how may runes must be known as a prerequisite to that rune (e.g., a 2nd level rune requires knowledge of a particular 1st level rune, and a 3rd level rune requires knowledge of a particular 2nd level rune; I have yet to create a 4th level rune, and doubt that I will).

So that's basically it. The info below should help tie it all together. (I've also worked out the prime reqs, armor/weapon allowanced, etc., but that's generally unimportant right now. Though it should be noted, I'm really looking at upping the XP requirements for the dwarven runecaster.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New BX Character Class: The Varlet

Welcome to fourth post of "New BX Classes" week. A while back, I was talking about some character classes that I thought might complement the mystic from the Basic Psionics Handbook. This is one of those... the varlet. If you've ever watched the show "The Mentalist," the Patrick Jane character is sort of how I picture the varlet. So without further ado, here 'tis!



THE VARLET

The varlet (pron. “vär-luht”) practices the art of deception in many forms. Through the use of his or her abilities, the varlet seeks to gain access to those places which are literally and figuratively prohibited to others. The varlet is a moderately capable combatant, but is out of his or her element in the dungeon. Instead, the varlet is more valuable as an asset in personal relations and adventures where interaction is crucial.

The prime requisites of a varlet are Intelligence and Dexterity. If a varlet has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a varlet has an Intelligence of 13 or greater AND a Dexterity of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Varlets use the same attack and saving tables as theives.

RESTRICTIONS: A varlet has the same armor, shield, and weapons restrictions as a thief. A varlet must have a minimum score of 9 in Charisma.
Aliases: A varlet is never allowed to use his or her true identity, regardless of whom with the varlet interacts (including the varlet’s own party). Instead, the varlet must operate under a number of aliases. The varlet may choose as many or few aliases as he or she deems necessary. However, the varlet must have at least one alias for each assumed identity possessed by the character (see Assumed Identities below).
SPECIAL ABILITIES: The special abilities of a varlet are centered around the varlet’s goal furthering his or her agenda.
Pick Locks: As the thieves’ ability.

Pick Pockets: As the thieves’ ability.

Forge: This ability permits a varlet to make documents that appear as authentic (e.g., deeds, titles, etc.). A failed roll on this ability will result in the forgery being flawed and, therefore, easily detectable as such by any qualified person attempting to determine its authenticity. A varlet is able to forge a number of pages each day equal to their level. A varlet will never willingly accept commissions to produce forged documents. In fact, unless coerced (e.g., by charm), a varlet will never admit he or she possesses such a skill. Each forgery costs 100 gp per attempt (regardless of the attempt’s success).

Distract: This ability permits the varlet the following opportunities:
1) hold a person or monster’s attention while performing another unnoticed action

2) move a person or monster’s attention from one point to another (e.g., moving the monster’s attention away from the archer-rogue to another character)

3) intentionally draw a person or monster in motion to a specific area or object
Disguise: Allows the varlet to disguise him or herself as a general type of personage (e.g., an old lady, a priest, etc.). The percentage noted represents the chance of the varlet passing off as the alternate identity with someone familiar with the varlet. The chance of success is increased by +25% for total strangers, and by +10% for those with Intelligence scores of 8 or lower. Additionally, the varlet is able to appear as ±1" taller/shorter per level, to a maximum of 12". This ability is different than an assumed identity, in that it is used most often to have the varlet appear as someone else to someone who is familiar with the varlet, while an assumed identity is about convincing someone that the varlet is who he or she claims to be.

Assumed Identities: At each level, the varlet cultivates a new identity under which he or she may operate. This identity include details like personal history, tone of voice, mannerisms, etc. Identities will often include, but are not limited to the following: nobles, high-level classed characters, merchants & traders, and experts in various fields. The varlet gains no abilities possessed by any of these identities (e.g., posing as a high-level fighter does not give the varlet the abilities of a fighter). At first level, the varlet’s assumed identity must be a commoner, but requires no additional gp investment in clothing or accoutrements (beyond the character’s normal equipment). However, beginning at 2nd level, the varlet may choose to cultivate any type of identity, with the monetary investment required at the discretion of the GM (e.g., assuming the role of a noble may cost as much as 500 gp). The chances for a varlet to convincingly portray any of these identities among a crowd of peers (of that identity type) increases with each level gained by the varlet. The chance of the varlet convincingly portraying an identity outside of that identity’s group of peers is automatic. A peer is considered to be any character that might normally interact with that type of identity (e.g., a bishop might be considered a noble’s peer, but a parish priest might not, unless that parish priest was of noble birth).

Reaction Adjustment: Through personal experience and the ability to quickly “read” an adversary or acquaintance, varlets are able to gain positive reaction adjustments through a combination of body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Noted adjustments are in addition to any bonuses the varlet gains from a high Charisma score. This ability does not affect reactions by non-intelligent creatures.

At 4th level, a varlet is able to read languages as a thief. At 10th level, a varlet is able to read magic-user scrolls as a theif.

A varlet is never allowed to build a fortress, nor attract a group of followers. However, upon reaching 9th level, a varlet may choose to accept an apprentice, guiding that apprentice in his or her career as a varlet. Often, the master of an apprentice varlet is the only person who will know the apprentice’s true identity.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New BX Animal Classes: Canines

It took me a long time to figure out how to handle the breadth of dog breeds as anthropomorphic classes, but I think I finally have it worked out.



OVERVIEW

The types and abilities of canines vary greatly. For quick reference, a table has been provided outlining the restrictions for each breed, and set of Canine Experience Tables is used to simplify the tracking of experience points needed by each breed to gain its next level.



GENERAL RESTRICTIONS: The Hit Dice, weapons allowed, and maximum Strength score of any breed is determined by its size as outlined below:


All dogs may wear any type of armor and may use shields, and are permitted the same magic items as fighters.

GENERAL SPECIAL ABILITIES: Small breeds receive the same “to hit” bonuses for size as a halfling, and gain a –1 bonus to their AC against man-sized or larger opponents, except toys, which gain a –2 bonus to their AC against man-sized or larger opponents.



HERDING DOGS

Herding dogs are athletic and diligent, and find their greatest strength in their ability to rally others.

The prime requisites of a herding dog are Wisdom and Dexterity. If a herding dog has a score of 13 or greater in both Wisdom and Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a working dog has an Dexterity of 13 or greater AND a Wisdom of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Herding dogs use the same attack and saving throw tables as clerics.

RESTRICTIONS: Small herding dogs use Canine Experience Table A, while medium herding dogs use Canine Experience Table B. Herding dogs may advance to a maximum of 7th level of experience. A herding dog must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Herding dogs are natural leaders. The maxiumum number retainers a herding dog may have is increased by 1 for each level of experience (e.g., a 2nd level herding dog may engage the services of 2 additional retainers beyond the number normally indicated by his or her Charisma). Additionally, all of a herding dog’s retainers gain a +1 bonus to their morale (in addition to bonuses from Charisma).

Herding dogs also have the ability to rally their party, providing all of the party members +1 bonuses to their “to hit” and damage rolls, as well as their saving throws, for a duration of 1 turn. A herding dog may use this ability a number of times a day equal to his or her level.



HOUNDS

Hounds are hunters, and two distinct types exist: sight hounds (those who hunt by sight), and scent hounds (those who hunt by scent). Both types are independent. While they aren’t opposed to working with others, they will often put their own interests above their party’s.

The prime requisite of a hound is Intelligence. Hounds with an Intelligence score of 13 or greater will gain a bonus to their earned experience points.

Hounds use the same attack and saving throw tables as thieves.

RESTRICTIONS: The size of a hound determines which Canine Experience Table is to be used, as outlined below:


Hounds may advance to a maximum of 8th level of experience. A hound must have a minimum Intelligence score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The abilities of a hound are determined by whether it is a scent hound or a sight hound.
Sight Hound Abilities: Sight hounds are able to track creatures based on the smallest of visual cues left as a creature passes through an area. The base chance of success for a sight hound tracking a creature in the wilderness is 50%, with a 5% bonus per level above 1st (e.g., a 3rd level sight hound gains a 10% bonus for a total chance of success of 30%). Underground, the chances of a sight hound tracking successfully are halved. A sight hound is able to detect traps and secret doors on a 1-3 (on 1d6). Sight hounds are able to hear noise as a thief of the same level.

Scent Hound Abilities: Scent hounds are able to track creatures based on the olfactory cues left as a creature passes through an area. The base chance of success for a scent hound tracking a creature in the wilderness is 50% with a 5% bonus per level above 1st. Underground, the scent hound receives an additional 10% bonus. A scent hound is able to detect traps and secret doors on a 1-2 (on 1d6). Scent hounds are able to hear noise as a thief of the same level.



SPORTING DOGS

Sporting dogs are loyal and task-oriented.

The prime requisites of a sporting dog are Strength and Dexterity. If a sporting dog has a score of 13 or greater in both Strength and Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a working dog has a Strength of 13 or greater AND a Dexterity of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Sporting dogs use the same attack and saving throw tables as elves.

RESTRICTIONS: Medium sporting dogs determine their hit points using eight-sided dice (d8) and use Canine Experience Table B, while large sporting dogs determine their hit points using ten-sided dice (d8) and use Canine Experience Table C. Sporting dogs may advance to a maximum of 7th level of experience. A sporting dog must have a minimum score of 9 in Intelligence.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Sporting dogs are able to detect secret doors and traps on a 1-2 on 1d6.



TERRIERS

Terriers are determined, courageous and self-confident.

The prime requisite for terriers is Wisdom. Terriers with a Wisdom score of 13 or greater will gain a bonus to their earned experience points.

Terriers use the same attack and saving throw tables as dwarves.

RESTRICTIONS: Small terriers use Canine Experience Table B, while medium terriers use Canine Experience Table C. Terriers may advance to a maximum of 6th level of experience.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Terriers are able to hear noise with a 5-in-6 chance. Aditionally, they make all saves vs. fear and fear effects with a +2 bonus.



TOYS

Toy dogs are a lot in small package, having strong personalities and strong spirits.

The prime requisites of a toy are Strength and Dexterity. If a herding dog has a score of 13 or greater in either Strength or Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If both the Strength AND Dexterity scores of a toy are 13 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Toys use the same attack and saving throw tables as halflings.

RESTRICTIONS: Toys use Canine Experience Table B. Toys may advance to a maximum of 5th level of experience.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Like halflings, toys are accurate with missile weapons, enjoying a +1 bonus with them. The agility of toys provide them with a –2 bonus to AC and a +1 to initiative rolls (in addition to adjustments from Dexterity).



WORKING DOGS

Working dogs are powerfully-built, intelligent, and task-oriented.

The prime requisites of a working dog are Strength and Intelligence. If a working dog has a score of 13 or greater in both Strength and Intelligence, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a working dog has a Strength of 13 or greater AND an Intelligence of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Working dogs use the same attack and saving throw tables as fighters.

RESTRICTIONS: Medium working dogs use Canine Experience Table A, and large working dogs use Canine Experience Table X. Working dogs may advance to a maximum of 8th level of experience. A working dog must have minimum scores of 9 in both Intelligence and Constitution.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Working dogs are able to detect secret doors and traps on a 1-2 (on 1d6). Additionally, they are able to disarm traps as a thief of the same level.


Monday, August 17, 2015

New BX/LL Psionic Class: The Savant

Welcome to Day 2 of my new BX character classes week. Today's new class is a psionic-based class similar to the sauteur from last week. As mentioned in the sauteur post, I've been considering for a while the idea of several new character classes, each dedicated to one of the chakra/discipline groups (per the in-progress Basic Psionics Handbook). This is the second one I've fleshed out... what I'm calling "The Savant (Version I)." The reason I say "Version I" is because I've already written another savant (not surprisingly referred to as "Version II"). Version II is more of a general genius possessing a mix of sage/MU/cleric abilities.



THE SAVANT (VERSION I)

Please note that this character class requires use of Old School Adventures™ Accessory PX1: Basic Psionics Handbook.

The savant is a individual who has accessed his or her mystical powers of clairsentience, and applies that knowledge practically to the art of combat.

The prime requisites of a savant are Intelligence and Wisdom. If a savant has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Wisdom, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a savant has an Intelligence of 13 or greater AND a Wisdom of 16 or greater, the character will gain a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Savants use the same attack tables as fighters, and the same saving throw tables as clerics.

RESTRICTIONS: Savants determine their hit points with six-sided dice (d6). In order to access his or her abilities, the sauteur must be able to gain as much sensory perception as possible. Metal armor and shields disrupt this ability. Therefore, a savant is restricting to wearing only hide or leather armor, and may use only hide or wood shields. Furthermore, a savant may never wear a helmet. A savant may use any type of weapon, and is permitted to use any type of magic item with one exception: only those items which provide clairsentient abilities may be worn on a savant’s head. A savant may not progress beyond 14th level of experience.

When a savant reaches name (9th) level, he or she may choose to build an academy to train young clairsentients. Once constructed, the academy will attract a new “class” of 1d6 students (first level savants) every three years.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Through concentration, study, and practice, savants have learned to attune their minds into the wavelengths of the space around them, allowing them to harness the power of clairsentience. As savants rise in level, they gain access to major sciences and minor devotions in the clairsentient discipline. Additionally, they grow in the practical application of their sensory abilities and are able to apply them to combat. Because the savant is dedicated to such practial application of knowledge, savants earn PSPs at a much more restricted rate than mystics, gaining only 2 PSPs per psionic level. Savants are subject to the same “character time” requirements as other psionicists for the daily regeneration of PSPs—an undisturbed meditative period (usually about an hour) after a full-night (8 hours) of rest.

As the savant rises in level, a number of other special abilities are gained as outlined below:
Danger Sense. For all savants this ability is automatic, with a range of 10' per level, a permanent duration, and no PSP cost. From 1st through 8th level, a savant is surprised only on a 1. Beginning at 9th level, a savant is never surprised. When the psionic ability of the same name is used by a savant, it doubles the range for the duration of the ability.

Understand Enemy. The savant has an innate ability to pick up on the most minor of clues (a look, a thought, a gesture, etc.), and to understand the move that his or her enemy will take next. This provides the savant a bonus in combat for all ranged and melee attacks.

Combat Premonition. With this ability, the savant is able to know instinctually when an attack is being made against him, providing the savant an AC bonus.
Note Regarding Psionic Combat Mode Vulnerability
For the purposes of psionic Combat Modes, savants are considered to be psionic individuals. However, savants cannot possess Combat Modes (as they fall outside the clairsentient disciplines to which they have access). This makes savants particularly susceptible to psionic attacks! For DMs running psionic campaigns, this vulnerability should be kept in mind when designing encounters for characters of the savant class.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: The Archer-Rogue

Guess what kids! IT'S NEW BX CHARACTER CLASS WEEK! That's right! A week's worth of new classes for BX. Kicking it off is this Robin Hood inspired class... the archer-rogue.



THE ARCHER-ROGUE

The archer-rogue is more scoundrel than thief. Often living by a unique agenda, the archer-rogue relies mainly on cunning and deception in furtherance of his or her goals. Although archer-rogues may sometimes choose the lifestyle of a bandit, they are not trained in the same manual dexterity skills as common thieves (e.g., archer-rogues are not trained to pick pockets or pick locks).

The prime requisites of an archer-rogue are Intelligence and Dexterity. An archer-rogue with Intelligence and Dexterity scores of 13 or greater will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. An archer-rogue with an Intelligence of 13 or greater and a Dexterity of 16 or greater will gain a +10% bonus on earned experience points. Archer-rogues use the same attack and saving throw tables as thieves.

RESTRICTIONS: Archer-rogues use six-sided dice (d6) to determine their hit points. They may use any weapon with the following exception: they are prohibited from using any two-handed weapon except a quarterstaff. Archer-rogues may only wear leather armor and they may not use a shield. Archer-rogues may use only those magic items generally permitted thieves. However, archer-rogues do not gain the ability to read languages or magic, nor the ability to use existing magic-user/elf scrolls. They may advance to a maximum of 14th level. An archer-rogue must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

Like thieves, archer-rogues may not build a castle or stronghold. However, at name (9th level), they may build a hideout. Any archer-rogue that builds a hideout will attract 2-12 individuals to serve in the archer-rogue’s band. These individuals will generally be fighters of various levels. However, there is a 50% chance that one of these individuals will be a cleric, and a further 50% chance that 1-2 of these individuals will be thieves.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The ability which sets the archer-rogue apart from all others is the character’s skill in archery with the short bow and long bow. As the archer-rogue rises in level, the character becomes more proficient with these bows, providing greater chances to hit, increased damage with successful blows, and even the ability to shoot at multiple targets within the same round. Beginning at first level, the archer-rogue begins to earn “to hit” and damage bonuses for a single shot made during a melee round. Beginning at 4th level, the archer-rogue may choose to make 2 shots per round at a single target (instead of 1). Various “to hit” and damage bonuses apply to each shot in the sequence. Similarly, beginning at 9th level, the archer-rogue may choose to make 3 shots per round per round against a single target, or 2 shots per round against multiple targets within a 45° arc. Finally, at 14th level, the archer-rogue may make up to 4 shots in a single melee round vs. a single target, or up to 3 shots per round at multiple targets within a 90° arc. All indicated bonuses are in addition to those bonuses provided by a high Dexterity.

Level Single Target Multiple Targets
1-3 1 shot/round
4-8 2 shots/round
9-13 3 shots/round 2 shots/round
14 4 shots/round 3 shots/round

As an archer-rogue rises in level, the character becomes increasingly proficient in a number of of special abilities per below:
Hear Noise: As the thieves’ ability.

Detect Snares & Pits: Allows the archer-rogue to detect traps (e.g., missile traps) and pits to a distance of 10' in the direction the archer-rogue is searching.

Climb: Represents the chance of success for the archer-rogue to climb trees, rock faces, overhangs on building, or similar pinnacles. Wet surfaces will modify the attempt by -10%. Slick surfaces (e.g., covered with oil) are impossible for an archer-rogue to climb. A failed climb attempt will result in a fall (which does 1d6 per 10' fallen to a maximum of 20d6). The roll should be made for each 100' climbed.
Catwalk: This ability permits an archer-rogue to move across very narrow surfaces at their normal movement rate (even with running/fleeing). The archer-rogue is able to walk across the indicated width for their level without any chance of falling.

Hide: This works similarly to the thieves’ ability Hide in Shadows. Additionally, it allows the archer-rogue to camouflage him or herself in the wilderness and to go unnoticed when hiding behind minimal cover. All attempts should appear to succeed to the player (with the GM reacting accordingly if the attempt actually fails).

Surprise: This ability allows the archer-rogue, when standing/acting alone, to surprise opponents with a greater chance of success than normal. This ability only works if the archer-rogue is separated from his or her party, and is actively attempting to surprise a known adversary. A successfull Hide roll (see above) is required before an archer-rogue may attempt to Surprise. This ability does not apply to standard encounter surprise rolls.

Trip/Disarm: Represents the chance for an archer-rogue using a quarterstaff to trip an opponent of roughly human-size or smaller, or disarm them of a single melee weapon. There is a –25% penalty for opponents of ogre-size. An archer-rogue is unable to trip or disarm creatures of larger than ogre-size. If an archer-rogue fails in the attempt, he or she must make a Dexterity check or drop their quarterstaff.

Disguise: Allows the archer-rogue to disguise him or herself as someone else. The percentage noted represents the chance of the archer-rogue passing off as the alternate identity with someone familiar with the archer-rogue. The chance of success is increased by +25% for total strangers, and by +10% for those with Intelligence scores of 8 or lower. Additionally, the archer rogue is able to appear as ±1" taller/shorter per level, to a maximum of 12".

Distract: This ability permits the archer-rogue the following opportunities:
1) hold a person or monster’s attention while performing
another unnoticed action

2) move a person or monster’s attention from one point
to another (e.g., moving the monster’s attention away
from the archer-rogue to another character)

3) intentionally draw a person or monster in motion to
a specific area or object

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Planes Week Bonus – New Monster: Notenac

The other day on Google+, many of you likely saw my post of the illustration below (as well as the sketch, and the source material that inspired it). I went ahead and wrote it up, and decided to include it as part of my "planes week" posts.

NOTENAC



DESCRIPTION
Though it is rumored that these terrible creatures originate in the Abyss, some think it more likely they hail from the lower plane of Lethe, the Realm of Forgetfulness.

The true threat of the notenac are its dreaded touch attacks. In addition to the 1d4 of lashing damage each appendage does on a successful “to hit” roll, a failed save vs. spell against their touch causes the victim to forget everything he or she knows, including who they are, who and what they know, and their skills and abilities. Affected classed characters attack and save as if they were a 1st level character, while non-classed creatures attack and save as if they only had 1 HD (or as a Normal Man for creatures with fewer than 1 HD). Furthermore, any spellcasters who had memorized spells prior to a failed saving throw will have all of their spell slots emptied for the day, and will be unable to memorize any additional spells until the condition has been removed. This forgetful state may be nullified by the spells remove curse or dispel magic.

In addition to being able to become invisible at will, notenac also have the following spell-like abilities which they may use 3×/day each: animate dead (7 HD), lightning bolt (7d6), and haste (self only, 1 turn duration). Notenac are immune to cold, electricity, and poison, and a +1 or better weapon is required to harm them.

Description: The gray scaly, ape-like torso of the notenac features six tentacular arms, each tipped with a pair of small tendril-like fingerlings, and the two toes on each of its feet are upturned. Its furry, oversized head features a smooth, shiny-black shell covering its forehead, a pair of large, bulging black eyes, and a trio of massive teeth set in a fish-like mouth. A scent of burned flesh permeates the air around a notenac, and can often carry as far as 120' or more.

Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Very rare
NO. APPEARING: 1-3
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 9"
HIT DICE: 7+7
% IN LAIR: 10%
TREASURE TYPE: C
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4 (×6)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 25%
INTELLIGENCE: Very
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic neutral
SIZE: L (20' long)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense
Modes: Nil


BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 2
HIT DICE: 7+7**
MOVE: 90'(30')
ATTACKS: 6 tentacles
DAMAGE: 1-4 + special (×6)
NO. APPEARING: 1-3
SAVE AS: Dwarf:7
MORALE: 11
TREASURE TYPE: C
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New BX/LL "Planar" Class: The Sauteur

So I guess I'm making this "planes" week on the blog. Following Sunday's post about the hierarchy of the Abyss, and Monday's post with the new Abyssal vermin creatures, I'm using today to introduce a new character class — the sauteur (the French word for "jumper"). For a while, I've been considering the idea of several new character classes, each dedicated to one of the chakra/discipline groups (per the in-progress Basic Psionics Handbook). And given that I've decided to make this week dedicated to planar posts, I figured it was time to flesh this one out.



THE SAUTEUR

Please note that this character class requires use of Old School Adventures™ Accessory PX1: Basic Psionics Handbook.*

The sauteur is a mystical combatant capable of subverting the physical limitations of the Prime Material Plane, and accessing the powers of psychoportation.

The prime requisites of a sauteur are Strength and Wisdom. If a sauteur has a score of 13 or greater in both Strength and Wisdom, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a sauteur has a Strength of 13 or greater AND a Wisdom of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Sauteurs use the same attack and saving tables as fighters.

RESTRICTIONS: Sauteurs determine their hit points with six-sided dice (d6). In order to access his or her abilities, the sauteur must be able to “tune” his or her body into wavelengths of the various planes of existence. Metal armor and shields disrupt this ability. Therefore, a sauteur is restricting to wearing only hide or leather armor, and may use only hide or wood shields. They may use any weapon, and are permitted the same magic items as fighters. Sauteurs may not progress beyond 14th level of experience. A sauteur must have a minimum score of 9 in Constitution.

When a sauteur reaches name (9th) level, he or she may choose to build a fortress. If the sauteur has access to the major science of probability travel, he or she may construct that fortress on any plane accessible by the sauteur. The sauteur will not attract followers. However, planar natives may be hired by the sauteur to serve in the fortress. Should the sauteur’s means allow, he or she may build additional outposts in other planes as well.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Through concentration, study, and practice, sauteurs have learned to attune their bodies to the wavelengths of the various planes of existence, allowing them to harness the power of psychoportation. As sauteurs rise in level, they gain access to major sciences and minor devotions in the psychoportative discipline. Because the sautuer dedicates himself to both the physical and the mystical, sauteurs earn PSPs at a much more restricted rate than mystics, gaining only 2 PSPs per psionic level. Sauteurs are subject to the same “character time” requirements as other psionicists for the daily regeneration of PSPs—an undisturbed meditative period (usually about an hour) after a full-night (8 hours) of rest.

As the sauteur rises in level, a number of other special abilities are gained as outlined below:
See into the Ethereal. This allows the sauteur to see directly from the Material into the Ethereal Plane.

Strike Planar Natives. Through a “partial phasing" of his or her body, the sauteur is able to make a melee strike against a native of a specified plane that would otherwise require a +1 magical weapon “to hit” (e.g., at 7th level, the sauteur would be able to strike an elemental with a normal weapon).

Strike Planar Natives with Bonus. As Strike Planar Native above, except the sauteur strikes with +1 bonuses on “to hit” and damage rolls against the specified planar native. Alternately, this ability allows the sauteur to make a melee strike against a planar native that would otherwise require a +2 weapon “to hit” (but without the +1 “to hit” and damage bonuses).
Note Regarding Psionic Combat Mode Vulnerability
For the purposes of psionic Combat Modes, sauteurs are considered to be psionic individuals. However, sautuers cannot possess Combat Modes (as they fall outside the psychoportative disciplines to which they have access). This makes sauteurs particularly susceptible to psionic attacks! For DMs running psionic campaigns, this vulnerability should be kept in mind when designing encounters for characters of the sauteur class.







* And before you ask, I'm still working on it, but it's VERY close. I hope to release it in the next couple of months!

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Monster Double-shot: Abyssal "Vermin"

In yesterday's post, I wrote about my take on the demons and the demon lords of the Abyss. Today, my new monster features takes a look at what I'll refer to affectionately as "abyssal vermin." The concept of demon larvae and demon locusts aren't necessarily new ones, and I'm mainly looking at adapting them for BX/LL with my eye on a future "planes" book.



ABYSSAL LARVA


DESCRIPTION
Those men, who in their mortal life, were particularly sinful, selfish, and evil, sink to the lower planes after death and are incarnated as abyssal larvae—the fetal forms from which many demons (particularly quasits and imps) are “grown.” Abyssal larvae appear as puffy, bloated human-headed maggots of a pale and sickly whitish-yellow color.

The acids used to digest food are always present in the fangedmouth of an abyssal larva. Therefore, the bite of one of these creatures deals 2 points of acid damage in addition to the bite itself (which does 1d4 points of damage).

The mind of an abyssal larva is particularly warped, providing it protection from all mind-affecting abilities (e.g., charm, fear, illusions, etc.).

Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Common
NO. APPEARING: 10-60
ARMOR CLASS: 7
MOVE: 6"
HIT DICE: 1
% IN LAIR: 100%
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4
SPECIAL ATTACKS:
Acid damage (2 pts. per bite)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Low
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
SIZE: 6' long (M)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 7
HIT DICE: 1*
MOVE: 60'(20')
ATTACKS: 1 bite
DAMAGE: 1-4 + acid (2 pts.)
NO. APPEARING: 2-12 (10-60)
SAVE AS: Normal Man
MORALE: 7
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic



ABYSSAL LOCUST


DESCRIPTION
Those abyssal larva that mature, but are not chosen by higher demons to be bred as a particular race of demon, mature naturally into abyssal locusts. The larval coloration becomes replaced by a variety of deeper, jewel-like tones (ranging from sulphur yellow to putrid jade green to blood purple). Additionally, the mind of the larva degrades, causing the chaos of its mind to be calmed, thereby eliminating any sort of immunity to mind-affecting abilities.

The forelimbs of an abyssal locust are razor sharp, doing 1d4 each. Furthermore, if all 4 forelimbs attack a single target successfully, the abyssal locust may choose to pick up any victim of human size or smaller and carry the victim away at a speed of 2/3 normal for anything dwarf-sized or smaller, and 1/3 normal for any victim larger than a dwarf. This makes abyssal locusts quite desirable as aerial support to other demons.

Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 5-20
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 6"/18"
HIT DICE: 1+1
% IN LAIR: 20%
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4
DAMAGE/ATTACK:
1-4/1-4/1-4/1-4
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard



BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 6
HIT DICE: 1+1*
MOVE: 60'(20')/180'(60')
ATTACKS: 4 forelimbs
DAMAGE: 1-4/1-4/1-4/1-4
NO. APPEARING: 1-4 (5-20)
SAVE AS: Normal Man
MORALE: 8
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic

Sunday, August 9, 2015

My BX Take on the Demons and Demon Lords of the Abyss

As I've mentioned before, I've realized that what makes sense as a followup to the Basic Psionics Handbook is some sort of "Basic Planes Manual." It actually started as an appendix to the psionics book, but I realized the space was limited, and with all I wanted to include, it warranted its own book.

A while back, I also mentioned (in a G+ comment, I think) how I really liked how Tom Moldvay handled his hierarchies of planar creatures (mostly elemental planar creatures) in Lords of Creation, and that I was going to borrow that model for the planes book.

One of the things I've been working on lately is a hierarchy for the Abyss. I know that demons are not ones to submit to a hierarchy, but it's really more to organize the strength of the demons (from weakest to strongest) so that DMs can (at-a-glance) know which demons would make suitable foes for their players (based on level, monster HD, special abilities, etc.). With that in mind, I set about trying to define the hierarchy. I took some cues both from LL and from the AD&D MM, as well as expanded the demon lords a bit to include some classic Sumerian names. Here's where I ended up.



You'll see that I don't use the same strict HD limitations for order as the LL AEC. Instead, I use a more discriminating line based on whether or not the demon has psionics. (That's not an available cutoff point for the AEC, since there are no psionics there). It also makes something like the marilith more formidable in my system than in LL. Thus MY Mason-Dixon line for standard vs. higher order demons.

As a support to the above, I started to work out my own cosmology around the different layers of the Abyss (again, with some nods to the D&D history of the Abyss, but while trying to create unique and/or OGL-able versions of the names) to "place" the demons and demon lords with their own realms. And here's what that looks like so far.



This is all work in progress, but I'm to a point where I'm done fiddling with this for now, can slide it to the back burner, and get back to the more pressing/ongoing things that SHOULD be occupying my attention.

Friday, August 7, 2015

d30 Feature of the Week: d30 Dragon Encounters

As with most of these pages of tables, the title says it all.

This set of tables generates the following:
– general appearance
– personality
– what the dragon is famous for
– the dragons current fixation/preoccupation
– protection for its lair

I'm planning on an accompanying "generator" that would quickly determine age, sex, spells, etc. Not sure when I'll have that finished up, though.

Click here to download a free PDF of d30 Dragon Encounters page from MediaFire.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New BX Character Class: The Bard (Version II)

This version of the bard character class comes mainly out of the Welsh tradition of the bard known mainly through the stories in the Mabinogion tetralogy, though it also acknowledges the illusionist connection given to the Mabinogion by more contemporary authors. This version of the bard character class requires use of AEC rules.

The bard is the quintessential entertainer—a musician, charmer, and loremaster.

The prime requisites of a bard are Intelligence and Wisdom. If a bard has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Wisdeom, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a bard has a Wisdom of 13 or greater AND an Intelligence of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Bards use the same attack table as fighters, but the same saving throw table as magic-users.

RESTRICTIONS: Bards may use any weapon with the following exceptions: they are prohibited from using any two-handed weapon except a quarterstaff, and they may not use bows of any sort (including crossbows). Bards may wear only leather armor and may use a wooden shield. However, a bard is not permitted to actively use a shield while charming (as it requires the use of both hands to play his or her instrument). Bards may only use those magic items generally permitted to fighters and thieves, any magical weapons or armor used must also adhere to the general restrictions for use by bards. A bard must always have a stringed instrument, which is required for all charming attempts (see below). A bard may not be in an adventuring party with another bard (though two or more bards may gather to practice). Like rangers, bards lead a vagabond life, and may only possess what they can carry on their person, but will buy the most exquisite instrument he or or she can afford. A bard must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The bard has command over several special capabilities, including the use of illusionist and druid spells, the power to influence others through song with the accompaniment of an instrument, an extensive knowledge of lore, and the ability to read and understand languages.
Charm: This ability provides the bard a chance, through his or her music, to mesmerize all creatures within hearing range. Undead are immune to this charm, and this ability does not affect the bard’s own party. Additionally, the chance to charm any creature is modified by –5% for each HD/level above 4. To determine if the charm attempt works, roll percentage dice. All those within hearing range whose adjusted percentage is equal to or greater than the roll will remain mesmerized as long as the bard continues performing. This ability may be used once per day per level.

Other Song Effects: Through song, the bard is able to influence others in the following ways:
Counteract Charms. The performance of a bard will automatically counteract the charms of a harpy. Additionally, the preemptive playing of a bard will provide a +1 bonus to all saving throws by the bard’s party vs. charm and charm-like effects. Use of this ability requires the bard to play his or her instrument. The benefits of this song do not begin until the second round after the bard begins the song.

Boost Morale. The bard may perform a song that boosts the morale of the members of the bard’s party, providing a +1 bonus to morale, “to hit” rolls, and damage rolls while the bard is performing. This same song will also cause enemies within hearing range to incur a –1 penalty to morale, “to hit” rolls, and damage rolls. Use of this ability requires only the bards voice, allowing the bard to engage in melee while performing this song. The benefits of this song do not begin until the second round after the bard begins singing.
Lore: Bards have a chance to know about the legends and lore surrounding people, places and things (including runes). This includes the ability to know what certain objects are, what they do, where they were manufactured, etc., including magical items (even the properties of intelligent swords). Use of the item is not required to know any information about it, as the information comes from the bard’s knowledge and experience.

Read Languages: As a bard rises in level, he or she becomes more able to read unknown languages and comprehend them. The percentage indicated notes both the chance the bard has to comprehend the language, as well as how much of what is written will be understandable by the bard should the attempt succeed. This skill does not provide the ability to speak languages or comprehend them when spoken. The bard will automatically be able to read any language that is actually known by the bard.

Additional Languages: In addition to the languages provided a bard by a high Intelligence, the bard will learn to read, write, and speak a number of additional languages. Bards with an Intelligence of 8 or less will only be able to read and write these additional language as indicated by the penalties for that Ability Score (e.g., a bard with an Intelligence of 4-5 will only be able to speak the additional language, but will not be able to read or write that language).

Spell Use: Bards are able to use a number of illusionist and druid spells. Although the bardic ability to charm requires only the use of the bard’s instrument, the use of spells is subject to the same requirements as the spell type being used by the bard (i.e., rest and memorization for illusionist spells, or rest and prayer for druid spells).
A bard is cannot employ hirelings or henchmen until he or she reaches name (9th) level.

Upon reaching 10th level (Master Bard), a bard is able to assume an animal shape (as a druid), three times a day.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

New BX Character Class: The Bard (Version I)

This version of the bard character class incorporates aspects of the norse ‘skald’ (a warrior/historian), the celtic ‘bard’ (from the druidic tradition), and the southern european ‘minstrel’ along with the French jongleur (both entertainers and sometime scoundrels). This version of the bard is differentiated from the other in that this version possesses thieves’ abilities.

The bard is nothing if not versatile—a jack-of-all-trades and a font of knowledge, capable of both combat and and magic.

The prime requisites of a bard are Dexterity and Intelligence. If a bard has a score of 13 or greater in both Intelligence and Dexterity, the character will gain a +5% bonus on earned experience points. If a bard has a Dexterity of 13 or greater AND an Intelligence of 16 or greater, the character will earn a +10% bonus on earned experience.

Bards use the same attack and saving tables as thieves.

RESTRICTIONS: Bards may use any weapon with the following exceptions: they are prohibited from using any two-handed weapon except a quarterstaff, and they may not use bows of any sort (including crossbows). Bards may not use a shield. Bards may wear only leather armor, except they may wear magical or elfin chain. However, wearing chain armor (even magical or elfin) reduces the bard’s chances to move silently and climb sheer services to 0%. Bards may only use those magic items generally permitted to fighters and thieves, any magical weapons or armor used must also adhere to the general restrictions for use by bards. Bards get no “to hit” or damage bonus when striking from behind. A bard must always have a stringed instrument, which is required for all charming attempts (see below). A bard must have a minimum Charisma score of 9.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The bard is both an amateur thief and magic-user, and the bard’s music has the ability to charm.
Charm: This ability provides the bard a chance, through his or her music, to mesmerize all creatures within hearing range. Undead are immune to this charm, and this ability does not affect the bard’s own party. Additionally, the chance to charm any creature is modified by –5% for each HD/level above 4. To determine if the charm attempt works, roll percentage dice. All those within hearing range whose adjusted percentage is equal to or greater than the roll will remain mesmerized as long as the bard continues performing. This ability may be used once per day per level.

Lore: Bards have a chance to know about the legends and lore surrounding people, places and things (including runes). This includes the ability to know what certain objects are, what they do, where they were manufactured, etc., including magical items (even the properties of intelligent swords). Use of the item is not required to know any information about it, as the information comes from the bard’s knowledge and experience.

Read Magic: This percentage represents the chance for a bard to be able to read and cast spells from magic-user/elf scrolls. A failed roll indicates that unexpected result happens when the scroll is read, creating potentially disastrous effects (at the DM’s discretion).

Comprehend Languages: As a bard rises in level, he or she becomes more able to comprehend unknown languages when they are spoken. The percentage noted is the chance the bard will accurately comprehend any single use of a language which is unknown to the bard, even if the bard has heard the language used before. This skill does not provide the ability to read or write languages. The bard will automatically comprehend any language that is actually known by the bard.

Additional Languages: In addition to the languages provided a bard by a high Intelligence, the bard will learn to read, write, and speak a number of additional languages. Bards with an Intelligence of 8 or less will only be able to read and write these additional language as indicated by the penalties for that Ability Score (e.g., a bard with an Intelligence of 4-5 will only be able to speak the additional language, but will not be able to read or write that language).

Spell Use: Bards are able to use a number of magic-user spells (or druid spells, if using AEC rules). Although the bardic ability to charm requires only the use of the bard’s instrument, the use of spells is subject to the same requirements as the spell type being used by the bard (i.e., rest and memorization for magic-user spells, or rest and prayer for druid spells).

Thieves’ Abilities: Bards are able to perform thieves’ abilities at a skill level of approximately half that of thieves (e.g., a 6th level bard uses thieves’ abilities about as well as a 3rd level thief).
As a bard rises in experience level, he or she will attract a number of wayfarers who will follow (and serve) the bard on his or her journeys. Every three levels, beginning at 4th level (i.e., at 4th, 7th, 10th, and so on) the bard should roll on the appropriate table below to determine the type of wayfarer attracted:
BX/LL (roll 1d10)
1-4bard
5-6elf
7-8fighter
9magic-user
10thief
AEC (roll 1d10)
1-3bard
4-6druid
7-8fighter
9magic-user
10thief
The wayfarer will join the bard as a first level character, and remain in the bard’s company until the character (or the bard) dies. Wayfarers need not be paid (though the bard may choose to pay them or share treasure with them). Furthermore, should a wayfarer die, he or she will never be replaced. All of a bard’s followers (including hired henchmen and other retainers) benefit from a +3 loyalty bonus (in addition to the bard’s standard Charisma modifiers).

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Some BX Bardic Considerations Day 3:
The Jeff Goelz Bard

On Day 1 of these BX bardic considerations, I took a look at the original bard created by Doug Schwegman in The Strategic Review Vol. 2, No. 1 (that became the foundation for the AD&D bard that appears in an altered form in the 1e PHB). On Day 2, I took a look at the possibility of a harpist class as Steve Marsh's answer to the AD&D bard (though the conclusion of that post remains incomplete). Today, I'm taking a look at the bard as envisioned by Jeff Goelz in Dragon magazine #56.
"In planning a revision of the the bard class, a path could have been chosen toward one of the two possible extremes: either to rework the material in the Players Handbook without altering any of the basic structure underlying the class, or to literally start from scratch and design an entire new class, perhaps having only its name and a few of the most basic characteristics in common with the official version. In the end, the path chosen lies between the extremes but ends up closer to the second one than the first."

From "Singing a New Tune," Dragon #56 (December 1981)
So where does Goelz find his bardic inspiration? From the celtic bard, particularly Evangeline Walton’s of the Welsh Mabinogion tetralogy (which gives it a particularly illusionist bent). Goelz also points out that the Welsh would never see the bard as a thieving type, especially (as he points out) given the connotations associated with "Welshing" on a bet, and the British propensity to think of the Welsh as thieves.

So what we have in Goelz's bard is a quintessential entertainer—a musician, charmer, inspirer, and loremaster, capable of both illusionist and druid spells.

In reviewing this version of the bard, it seemed only right to create a BX/LL version of it as well (in addition to the BX/LL version I created based on Schwegman's original). I have done that, with some tweaks to fall in line with the other version. The Schwegman-inspired version I'm calling "The Bard (Version I)," and it can be used with or without the LL AEC rules (without, the bard has MU spells; with, the bard has druid spells). The Goelz-inspired version requires use of the LL AEC rules (at least for spells, since it uses both illusionist and druid spells). I'm still thinking through my vision of the Marsh-inspired harpist class (which will likely require an entire set of spells created specifically for it). The first two should be appearing on the blog early in this coming week. If I'm lucky, the harpist (or some form of it) will come later in the week, or the beginning of the week following.