Sunday, January 02, 2011

Paladins of Wessex

So I mentioned in yesterday's post that we've got a Paladin in my current Holmes D&D-based campaign. Here are the current rules for them:

class requirement: Fighter
alignment requirement: Lawful (Good or Evil)
ability score requirement: Cha 17+
basic advantages: lay on hands 2hp/level/per day, cure disease 1/week per five levels, immune to disease, +2 saving throws
advanced advantages (level 8+): dispel evil at will, detect evil 6” range
expulsion: any Chaotic act

The above rules are basically swiped wholesale from the first paragraph of the Paladin description in Supplement I: Greyhawk for OD&D.  You might remember the magic horsey and item/loot/associates restrictions from AD&D.  Greyhawk has those too but I accidentally omitted them from my summary because I was in a big hurry when I got this ready for Dane's use on Wednesday night.  I kinda like the slimmed down results of my screw-up.

One of the things that intrigues me about the Greyhawk paladin is that it's basically the first published Prestige Class, a quarter century before that term came into use.  As worded in the text you become a Pally after rolling up a fighter with a 17+ Charisma and deciding to be Lawful.  You can do so right out of the gate or at any later time.  Your basic class abilities don't change or go away and you continue to use the same hit dice, XP chart, etc.  The other two things I really dig about this class: 1) how hard it is to get into the class.  In the world of 3d6 in order not that many PCs have a 17 in friggin' anything.  2) how easy it is to get out!  After all a lot of freakin' chaos goes down in the life of the average hard luck adventurer.  It might be best for players who sign up for this class to think of it as a temporary gig.

My little summary above would probably make a pretty good template for fleshing out the other sub-classes Dr. Holmes mentions but doesn't detail: Ranger, Illusionist, Witch, Monk, Druid and Assassin.  Each subclass has a class/stat/alignment requirement to get in, three or four starting benefits (some of which scale to level) and a couple of awesome powers at high level.  Throw in a taboo that takes away the powers and Bob's your uncle.

Note I don't think the Blue Book specifies that the Monk is meant to be a Chop Socky Shaolin, so I could do that class up as a Christian ascetic.  Like the Paladin above, that would be for me a much more interesting way to bring miracles into the game instead of the default cleric.  And the spellcasting subclasses might be doable without adding a bunch of new spell lists to the game.  The trick, I think, would be to differentiate the Witch and Druid.  With one class or the other on the table I would approach it as the subclass of the pre-Christian remnant on the island.  If the Druid fits that role, is the Witch reduced to the cackling baddies of fairy tales?  Who is going to sign up to play warty-nosed old biddies?  Maybe that's why the Witch never ended up in the Players Handbook.


  1. Note I don't think the Blue Book specifies that the Monk is meant to be a Chop Socky Shaolin

    This is probably a Grognardia-type question, rather than a Gameblog-type question, but is there any evidence to suggest that Chop Socky Shaolin was not the intention of the monk class? It's always seemed a bit weird to me for this kung fu character to have wandered into the Fantasy Europe of the rest of the game.

  2. My thing on witches was:

    basically as MU can choose any cleric, druid, or MU spell but for each spell either:

    -it's a ritual so it takes like 5 minutes and really does require spell components, orrrr...

    -it's always on because it's an inherent characteristic of your witchiness. (subject to DM approval)

  3. I knew you were the go-to guy for expanding Holmes.

    An interesting choice letting the Paladin be either Lawful Good or Evil. As a stream-lined Greyhawk creature, the Blue Book almost seems to imply that good and evil are just modifiers of the original three-fold alignment model, so I dig how this fits some with that.

    As to the witch, I've been tinkering with a Holmesian version for a good long while. I was thinking a class more like Morgana ala the movie Excalibur (Helen Mirran as a hottie what a strange thing to my 2011 mind). Take a limited range of M-U, Cleric and Druid spells (mostly the charm, divination, and illusion ones) and give them a limited alchemist special abilities like a really cheap way to brew potions and poisons (very Holmes).

    I think it would be distinctive enough from a Druid for Lampreys to work.

  4. I've been toying with the idea that all Witches are female and all Druids are male.

    Also, if you stay Old School, Witches would be Lawful or Chaotic, but Druids must remain Neutral.

    As to actual implementation, you'd have to decide which incarnation of the Witch (they appear in about 3 places in early issues of The Dragon) and the Druid (Greyhawk Cleric/MU with shapechanging or Eldritch Wizardry version) to use.

  5. kelvin:

    I don't have a citation handy but the Monk was a Kung Fu guy from the get go. I'm pretty sure it was as simple as "Hey, let's add some kung fu!"

  6. Even if the fantasy or quasi-medieval ‘church’ is considered by most to be stifling or repressive; it supports the best the ancient world has to offer - community, art, literature, healing, law and orderly succession of monarchy.

    I am not a catholic but I understand...

    “Sometimes what is second best is actually best,
    because what is best is impossible.”
    Cardinal Neumann

  7. I would appreciate it if someone would expand Holmes for me . . .

    Before you undertake such a LARGE project, understand that some of the home work has ALREADY been done for you by LotFP

  8. Can a Paladin once expelled return to his lawful lifestyle and regain his Paladinly powers? I'm thinking specifically of Three Hearts and Three Lions, wherein the Dane's powers wax and wane with his actions.

    I dig the simpler style of this class.

  9. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Weird synchronicity. I was just thinking yesterday about Paladins and how they should be Lawful but not necessarily Good.

    I pretty sure the TV show Kung Fu inspired Monks for D&D. It was on TV '72-'75.

  10. I think that the witch could be something between a cleric and magic user, specializing in spells like Charms, Divinations, and Blessings/Curses, maybe with a bit of potion-making ability in addition ("eye of newt") - or even with the potions as the main source of their magic and so have fewer available spells in the normal sense (maybe like clerics getting spells at 2nd level, and advancing them even more slowly). That wouldn't work so well doing the pseudo-prestige class thing, though, so probably not a workable idea.

    Making them a magic user who gets special potion abilities and access to appropriate cleric spells might work, though.

  11. The Monk:
    This is based on the modern day martial arts/spy/terrorist killer/whatever at the moment pulp series: The Destroyer(made into a movie in 1985: Remo Williams). Brian Blume, one of THE Blumes, was apparently a huge fan. I read a few of these before I got into RPGs, oddly enough. Never saw the reason it was adapted myself...

    Witches: I had players who insisted their magic users should be called this as a class. Had no effect in game. Never understood why. Then again, I had a guy who would only play a Dwarf Barbarian who could NEVER use magic.(Which was kinda awesome; especially in Dwarf and/or Barbarian-less games!) *shrug*.

    Expanding Holmes: I have heard of at least 2 other sources that do just that:

    1)The Holmes
    Blue Book Companion
    A Classic Adventure Game Supplement

    2)'Meepo's Blue Book, (also on Philotemy Jurament's site.)

    I learned of these by way of Grognardia.

  12. velaran: There is also the Grey Book, if you can find the pdf anymore.

  13. @faoladh: Due to your mentioning this, I found a copy I downloaded from Retro Roleplaying last year. (I had it in my generic D&D folder rather than OD&D.) It's called Consolidated D&D here though. I did a cursory search(permuataions of Grey Book; Holmes + PDF, and such like.), and checked first five pages of each result, and didn't find a PDF, but it's probably out there.

    Representation (without art) of ODND on the Web.

  14. Similar to The_Myth's post, I was thinking that druids could be neutral and witches chaotic (ie druids are the 'hippie nature' type witches, and witches are the 'evil satanic' type witches).

    Or witches could have a combination of druid and reversed cleric spells.

  15. Huh. I can't find a working link to the Pinnell book or the gray book.

  16. Theodric: Try either Meepo's thing or The Holmes Treasury:

    After thinking about it a while, I've come to the conclusion that The Grey Book is pretty much just AD&D in a slightly different form, anyway, not really an expansion of Homes.