Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Classes of Wessex

Fighter - The class of knights, members of the lower class whose efficiency in acts of brutality are sufficient to allow for some upward mobility in these trying times and foreign mercenaries (principally Welsh archers and Flemish crossbowmen). These folks will work exactly like you'd expect, allowing for some extra flash along the lines of yesterday's post or maybe the Empire of the Petal Throne multiple attacks rules.

Magic-Users - Start with the standard MU in all its Vancian glory, revamp the spells available (including the addition of many effects previously reserved for clerics) and add in an overcasting system whereby you can cast more spells than memorized and/or spells you can't otherwise cast. I'll probably do a separate post on the latter.

Scoundrels - I'm not a big fan of the Thief as implemented, but I like the idea of a class for the have-nots of society, whereby wits and trickery replaces swordplay or spellslinging. Still thinking about how to approach this mechanically.

Changelings - The class for fairy folk raised by human parents, humans raised by fairies, cambions, half-elves, half-orcs, descendants of the Nephilim and etc. Meant as a single class catch-all to replace the standard halfling, dwarves and elves. This class will probably end up with some spells, but they won't use spellbooks or Vancian magic.

Clerics as a class will not be allowed. Priests may or may not have a mechanical function, depending if I implement something like the Sin Point system previously proposed. But conjuring up miracles on command is not the province of the clergy, especially during a period so miserable that one chronicler note that Christ and his saints seemed to be asleep. For miracles you need someone like a Miracle Max or perhaps a Hildegard Von Bingen.

I'm also thinking of abolishing/modifying the normal weapons and armor restrictions. If I stick with d6 damage for everything, who really cares if the local Gandalf has a sword or not? I'd even allow armor to be worn, with the following penalties:
  • helmet & coif (which, owing to the lack of platemail in the period, will be worth +1 AC) - Can't listen at doors, 1 in 6 more likely to be surprised.
  • shield - Forget about spellcasting with that thing on your arm, buddy.
  • chain hauberk - Must rest twice as often.  Also, the fighters will be able to outrun you. If the whole party is being pursued by the Legendary Black Beast of Argh guess who gets eaten?


  1. indeed cleric should get out of the game for a more Sword and Sorcery feel... as for vancian magic, I am all for it as long as the mage have more spell at lower levels and far less spell at hight ones....

  2. See... I always saw the original cleric as a holy warrior type. When the paladin appeared, I was confused.

    Priests... those seemed to be something different (and more Charisma based than Wisdom based).

  3. I'm actually a bit confused by your elimination of the Cleric. The one context in which it does make sense is Medieval Europe.

    They're usually the first thing I buck but if you want to have a setting with a monotheistic church and a god that performs miracles Clerics fit fine.

  4. I should say that otherwise I like it, and I have changelings in my campaign as well.

    Might I suggest using LotFP's Specialist class for your scoundrel?

  5. For the scoundrel - just give them an increased chance of using the "skills" that come with the old versions of the game - listening at doors, surprise, avoiding surprise, finding secret doors - basically a 2 in 6 chance instead of 1 in 6 chance kind of thing. Keeps things simple and makes them the "crafty survivor" class.

  6. That is an excellent line of thought, Matt.

  7. I would imagine that a large percentage of magic users would also be clerics in this setting - monks, medieval scholars, surviving druids and other pagans. Clerical "magic" or miracles could take place using some sort of divine intervention rules.

  8. I am TOTALLY not trying to pull your chain here, but I am enough of a fan that this reminds me of something this guy wrote once...

    "Even a guy like me, who like robots and lasers in his D&D, occasionally gets on this funk where I consider trimming down the character build options to achieve some sort of artsy-fartsy effect. You know the drill. "I want to do something Arthurian, so no Asian-flavored classes in this campaign." or "This is going to be all Conan-y with the swords & the sorcery, so no demi-humans in this campaign." Although I truly, deeply understand the profound artistic reasons for such an approach, let me simply say: fuck that shit. We're talking about D&D here. If you can't fold themes and motifs into a game starring an elf ninja, a halfling bard, and two ill-tempered gnome wizards then you should be writing bad fan fiction, not running actual games for real players."

  9. A perfectly legit think to bring up dude. Let me tell you a secret: The class options I offer players are always descriptive rather than proscriptive.

    If somebody wants to play a cyborg ninja I'm not going to say no. I probably would take such a request as a signal that interacting with the Pretentious portions of the milieu is not a priority and get on with my life as best as I could.

  10. Zak,

    Yes, I've been there, but doesn;t that mean that you are always playing the same damn game ? I mean, when the half draconic tiefling monk-swashbuckler shows up everywhere, where's the flavor? I mean, yes, D&D is its own genre, but it isn;t the only one, nor the least pretentious or art-driven (lots would argue otherwise, actually) It's like "tabasco on everything" cooking. Yeah, sure its a different base, but it all tastes the same. Still, if my games attracted the group yours does, I'd probably be unwilling to change gears, also..;)

  11. Anonymous6:11 PM

    I'd keep some kind of cleric/priest class (and not just as subclass of Scoundrel). Traveling friars, militant orders, etc. would have a place. I'd greatly extend "turning" powers (maybe something more akin to protection from evil) to cover monsters generally, fey folk included, not just undead. And mostly drop clerical spells. Maybe make them miracles that can be cast on occasion but daily events. One miracle request per level per adventure, and just setting limits according to the most powerful spell a cleric of that level can cast in ordinary rules. Just an idea.

    I like the idea of squeezing all demihumans into "changeling," esp. for a semi-historical game.

  12. @ Doc Grognard, Zak's quote was an older post from Jeff.

    I don't see the big deal with getting rid of the cleric. I don't know many players that actually enjoy playing one, and in my recent D&D campaigns, no one selected a cleric by choice.

  13. Anonymous1:11 AM

    Re: over-casting spells. In my campaign, my rule is: "When a spell has been memorized, it can be safely cast once per day. You can cast it again whenever you like, but lose 1d6 hit points. Good luck." Idunno if you've got any other thoughts, but I've found it works okay so far. 1st level M-Us have been very reluctant to risk it, but i anticipate that at higher levels they'll regard it as a useful ability, but not one that will ever be relied on as a go-to option.

  14. “I have lived long enough to know what I did not at one time believe-
    that no society can be upheld in happiness and honor without the sentiment of religion.”
    Marquis Pierre La Place

    Clerics have a role in a game world, but as pillars or anchors for societal structure; NOT as adventurers or PCs.

  15. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Nice. I am totally diggin' your catchall Changeling category.

    One of the most amusing elements to it is that Vance has a literal changeling in Madouc (the eponymous heroine), and she uses "non-Vancian" magic, having been taught a couple of minor spells which she can use over and over. Classic Vance names for her fairy cantrips, too: "The Sissle-Way" and "The Tinkle-Toe Imp Spring". :)