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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Hacking LotFP classes for high fantasy

So, here's a thought. You want to run Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but you want to do so in a more high fantasy setting. Rather than coming up with a bunch of new classes - with all the potential for balance issues and mechanical problems - it's not hard to adapt the existing classes.
So here are some examples. This isn't about giving you more character options so you can minmax harder, but when a player goes 'hey, can I play a kobold', this is how you might go about it.

Orcs use fighters as their base class; they're reasonably tough but nothing special, and they're well enough experienced with combat that they can use fighter combat options. Their combat prowess comes not from training, but brute force. As such, they get the same +1 to hit-bonus as any other character. On top of this, the fighter's to-hit bonus is instead applied as a bonus to damage whenever their strength bonus would apply.
If you wanted to play a human with no real military training but who fights well - maybe a common thug, a (non-clerical) religious zealot, a raging berzerker, something like that - this also makes sense.

Goblins use the same stats as halflings, since both are small, sneaky, tricksy little gits. However, they have none of the halfling's affinity for nature but a rather worrying ability to crawl up walls, through tunnels and across treetops; instead of Bushcraft, they get an equivalent chance in Climbing. 

Ogres are big, tough and brutal. They use the same stats as dwarves; the good saves and hitpoints representing the ogre's bulk, and likewise the improved carrying capacity representing the ogre's size. Ogres aren't particularly bright, but they are good at breaking things. Replace the dwarf's Architecture skill chance with an Open Doors skill chance. Likewise, they're strong instead of tough, so they get an improved Strength bonus rather than an improved Constitution bonus.
Other big dumb brutes can also be done this way.

Various Types Of Elves
The elf in the book represents your common urban elf that can be found around human settlements. For less familiar elves, swap out the Search skill chance for a different skill, as follows.
Dark Elves: Sleight of Hand
High Elves: Languages
Subterannean Elves: Architecture
Wood Elves: Bushcraft

A paladin needs to be reasonably tough, with decent hit-points and good saves. They should ideally get some holy magic, and be a trained fighter, too. So, use an elf (with their decent saves, d6 hit-dice and ability to use fighter combat options), but restrict them to Lawful alignments, and have them use the cleric spell list rather than the magic user's. They still use a spellbook (rather than getting spells just by praying), representing a copy of the various vow's they've taken and the holy gifts granted, but otherwise cast like a cleric rather than a magic user.

Vampire Slayers
So, a vampire slayer should be resistant to supernatural nastiness (since they're blessed up to the eyes or have read about this before and know what to expect), have decent fighting skills, and be able to deal massive damage when they catch up to their target.
As a base for the class, use the halfling - the halfling's excellent saves correspond to the vampire-slayers ability to shrug off (or be prepared for) various supernatural problems. They lose the halfling's stealth, and replace it with sneak-attacks for quadruple damage. Rather than the skill in Bushcraft, a vampire slayer gets equivalent skill in Searching, as they're good at finding tracks, hidden crypts and so on. 
A vampire slayer doesn't get the halfling's bonus to AC or Dexterity, and doesn't have the halfling's weapon restrictions, since they aren't small and sneaky like a halfling. Instead, they can use fighter combat options.
Other thing-slayers might have a different skill instead of Searching. Dragon-slayers might get Architecture from all the time they spend in a dragon's underground lair. Demon-slayers might get Languages from all the nasty occult tomes they've read. Giant-slayers might get Climb what with all the time spent clambering around buildings sized for people twenty feet high.

Kobolds are small and annoying, so like goblins they use the halfling as a base. However, they aren't sneaky or good with nature, instead being expert miners and engineers. Replace the halfling's Stealth chance with Architecture, and their Bushcraft with Tinkering. They keep the halfling's extra to AC, due to the slight protection from scaly hides, but get an improved bonus to Constitution rather than Dexterity - they're tough rather than agile.
Gnomes are dumb, but if you want them in your game, use the same rules for them as for kobolds, since they occupy basically the same niche whilst being less interesting.

Doing magic by singing really well is daft and no sensible GM would allow it. Bards are scholars and performers, but not spellcasters because that's ridiculous.
If you want to play a Bard, take the Halfling as a base. Instead of stealth, you get 5-in-6 Languages because of your great knowledge. Instead of bushcraft, you get the same skill chance in Sleight-of-Hand due to your skill at legerdemain. Instead of the Halfling bonus to Dexterity, you get +1 to your Charisma bonus. Instead of the +1 to AC, you get an extra +1 to reaction checks and retainer/hireling loyalty and morale. Yeah, you're charming as hell.

Druids, Evil Cultists and other variant religions
Get your GM to write up a different spell list in place of the cleric spell list. Same number of spells at each level, though.
No, I can't be bothered to come up with the full spell lists, use your imagination. Druids get all naturey focused spells, evil cultists get the creepy necromancy and stuff.
Hell, if your GM is truly dedicated they'll give each religion a different spell list for their clerics.

Frank Frazetta's Barbarians
It's a fighter. A leather posing-pouch, chainmail bikini or scary helmet provide the same AC bonus as leather/chain/plate armour on a normal person, and costs the same. A barbarian can't wear normal people's armour, and visa versa.
Hell, maybe woad or whatever can give the same bonus to AC as armour if you really want.
You might also get the orc-style bonus to damage rather than to hit, if you're a rage-powered barbarian rather than a smart one like Conan.

Martial Artists
It's basically a fighter. A kung-fu master's different martial arts are represented with different 'weapons' - defensive fighting works like a shield, a flying kick works like a two-handed weapon, a sudden lunge like a spear, and so on. You can't lose these weapons or give them to somebody else. They cost the same as normal weapons, since kung-fu training means giving up worldly possessions. Because of the strain such martial arts training puts on your body, you're just as encumbered as if you had actual weapons, since you need to travel light.
If you want to throw chi blasts at people (and you're GM allows it), you can do that with crossbows or whatever.
You probably have to be lawful.

It works like a cleric, except that it has to be chaotic. The holy symbol used is probably blasphemous and horrible. Also the only spell on it's spell list is Summon, and it has Summon at every spell level. Every spell slot gets Summon prepared in it. You can make spell scrolls like a cleric, but only of Summon. You can still make holy water, protection scrolls and so on, and will probably need them. Good luck with that.

It's a specialist.Take sneak-attack.

It's a specialist.Take bushcraft.

Tieflings, Dragonborn, Kitsune
No. Play something sensible.
To preserve any but the most kitchen-sink tone, you probably don't want to have all these options all at once. A game world with (say) PC's that can be orcs and goblins as well as the 7 rulebook classes is going to feel very different to one with paladins and vampire slayers.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Hollow Ones

There are entities - in the depth of space or other worlds - that are best described as hungry. These beings are filled with a gnawing, all-consuming need to devour, to draw light and life and substance into the sucking void within them.
Thankfully, their very nature restricts them. Everything they contact directly is devoured, and their empty, formless bodies have little way to influence the world.
There are ways, however. By intangibly reaching out, they can forge a connection with thinking beings, hollowing them out within to become an extension of the all-consuming void. The hollow ones are people who have suffered this fate.

Hollow ones come in two forms. Lesser hollow ones are the vast majority, pitiful empty things constantly trying to fill the gap within them. Greater hollow ones are far more unusual. A Wendigo already understands and harnesses their hunger, so when hollowed they can use this to far greater effect. A greater hollow one forms a link to the void much like between a mystic and their patron, drawing on the emptiness to enhance their own power.

A lesser hollow one remains like the character they once were, with a few exceptions.
  • They require three times as much food each day to avoid starvation; three full meals worth.
  • They heal slowly. They never heal more than a single point of damage from any source of healing (including Medicine rolls, rest, spells, herbalism and so on).
  • They are emotionally numb. Any magic that would influence their emotions automatically fails.
  • Their unarmed attacks deal normal damage, but also stand a chance of hollowing out the victim. The victim must make a Save against Magic. If they fail, they immediately take d20 damage to their Charisma score. If this damage is enough to kill them, their body crumbles to ash and is utterly destroyed. If they survive, then they are hollowed out and become another hollow one (greater if they are a wendigo, or lesser otherwise).
  • If they are a Mystic, then their connection to their patron is devoured and the void becomes their patron. Re-roll all of their spells immediately. The next time they attempt to cast a spell, the Charm roll fails and they must roll on the Fickle Whims of the Divine table automatically.
  • If they are a Magician or Morlock, the Void seeps into their minds and infects their ability to cast spells. Whenever, they would suffer Magical Backlash from casting unsafe or experimental spells, they must also roll for the Fickle Whims of the Divine.
  • They are infertile. They will never have any children, and cannot be cloned or resurrected. Consuming their flesh gives a wendigo or hollow one no benefit. 
  • A hollow one can be easily identified as 'wrong' on casual observation. They are gaunt, pallid and anaemic looking, and are constantly hungry. The precise nature of the problem is not clear unless the observer is already familiar with hollow ones, of course.
A greater hollow one has all the effects of a lesser hollow one, as detailed above. A wendigo can, however, still heal fully by consuming human flesh like normal. Furthermore, whenever they deal charisma damage with their unarmed attacks, their condition progresses further.
Each time their condition progresses, their unarmed damage goes up a dice-size. First d4, then d6, d8, d10, d12 and finally d20.
  • After the first progression, the void overtakes their ability to cast spells. From this point on, rather than choosing spells, they pick a spell level and then roll a random spell. They can avoid taking damage when they cast a spell by rolling on the Fickle Whims of the Divine table.
  • After the second progression, the hollow one heals fully whenever they hollow out a victim of their unarmed damage, just as if they'd consumed human flesh.
  • After the third progression, they can command other hollow ones around them. A lesser hollow one must obey any order given to them by the greater hollow one, much like if the spell Command had been cast. At this point, the void infects their mind fully, slowing their ability to grow; all their XP costs to gain levels are doubled.
  • After the fourth progression, the hollow one automatically devours the magic from any magical item they touch. The magic item becomes completely mundane, and the hollow one heals fully just like they'd consumed human flesh.
  • After the fourth progression, no save can be made to avoid being hollowed out. A victim who is damaged by the hollow one's unarmed attack takes charisma damage automatically and is hollowed out if they survive.
  • After the fifth progression, anybody who touches the hollow one is automatically hollowed themselves. They only take charisma damage if they were attacked.
  • After the sixth progression, the hollow one no longer heals by any means (including magic, rest and consuming human flesh). The only exception to this is when they hollow out a person, which heals them fully as before. After this, there is no further progression to the hollow one; they have achieved their maximum potential.
Like Driders and Eloi, becoming a hollow one is another means of sideways progression for the game, at least for Wendigos. Of course, as well as this, an outbreak of hollow ones can become a horrible threat to the local community, so they make excellent monsters too.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Drider Teeth

A magic item from my weekly WP&WS game.

Drider Teeth are found in sets of six. Each is a glossy black chitin false-tooth, essentially shaped like human teeth but longer and sharper.

Each tooth fits into a single tooth-socket in the gums. Extracting a tooth (so that the socket is free for the false tooth to fit into) deals a single point of damage: if your system uses flesh and grit, the damage goes directly to flesh. Once placed in the gums, the wound rapidly heals over, and the Drider Tooth becomes part of the user's normal dentition. 
Each tooth has a different effect on the wearer. If they haven't been identified, then which tooth is selected will be random: roll a d6 to see which tooth is selected first (and then a d5 for the second tooth, a d4 for the third and so on). 

Roll a 1: The tooth gives the host perfect tremmorsense. They can feel any movement on the surface they are standing on, accurately pinpointing its location by tracking subtle vibrations.

Roll a 2: The host's saliva can spin webs. A small gland under the tongue allows the host to 'spit' strands of silk. This silk is as tough as normal silk, and can be woven into ropes, cloth and so on. The host can produce an area ten feet across of woven silk, or fifty feet of silk chord or rope, before their glands run dry and need a day's rest to recharge.
Roll a 3: The host's bite is poisonous. They deal no more damage than normal unarmed attacks, but enemies taking damage from an unarmed attack must pass a save vs poison or else suffer an addition 15 extra damage.
Roll a 4: The host can walk up walls and over ceilings just as if Spider Climb had been cast.
Roll a 5: The tooth lets the host move without creating any vibrations, and prevents them ever being trapped in webs. 
Roll a 6: The tooth allows the host to talk to spiders as if Speak With Animals had been cast on them. 

In addition, the teeth cause the host to be physically transformed; the more teeth in their mouth, the more their body is altered. The body naturally rejects these transformations; at two stages in the process, the host makes saves against magic as their body rebels against their transformation into a Drider. Failure indicates that the transformation continues to warp them, whilst a successful save results in the body fighting-back against being mutated.
With only one tooth, small chelicerae unfold from within the host's cheeks. These can be kept concealed inside the mouth normally, but emerge from the corners of the mouth if they wish to spin webs, use their poisonous bite or convers with spiders.
When a second tooth is worn, a Save vs Magic must be made; success means that the second tooth falls from the gum and is not worn. Another tooth must be extracted to put the tooth into its socket if the applicant is really keen. With a second tooth, the host's eyes split into eight pairs, around their head. They have an arc of vision far wider than most people, and can see to their sides as well as in front of them. This makes them quite hard to flank and gives them accurate peripheral vision. At this stage, the host's transformation begins to cause them difficulties; the XP costs for each additional level is doubles.
Once a third tooth is worn, the host's limbs extend and develop a third joint, causing them to bend in odd ways. This may give an advantage (+1 on a d6, +3 on a d20, or +15 on a d%) on rolls to wriggle through spaces.
When a fourth tooth is worn, the host's arms split length-ways, giving them two sets of arms. This lets them carry either: a ranged weapon like a bow as well as their close-combat weapons; two ranged weapons (letting them make two shots rather than one); a two-handed weapon AND a shield; several melee weapons (letting them attack twice in close-combat); or else weapons and utility items such as torches or holy symbols.
When five teeth are worn, the host's skin thickens into a glossy black exoskeleton, giving them +3 AC.
Like when two teeth are put in, trying to put a sixth tooth results in a Save vs Magic. Again, failure results in the tooth 'sticking' and further transformation. A successful save shows the body has made a last-ditch effort to return to its natural state; all six teeth fall from the host's mouth, and all benefits from the teeth are lost. When all six teeth are worn, the host's lower legs likewise split into multiple limbs. They sprout a bulbous lower abdomen, and their body re-arranges itself to resemble the classic 'Drider' anatomy. They gain an extra Hit Dice of their normal size (this will be a Flesh dice if your game uses flesh and grit). They no longer gain any benefits from gaining levels save for extra Hit Dice (which will all be Flesh Dice if your system uses them) and improved saves.

Drider teeth can be extracted once worn, undoing the transformation they cause.

(For reference, a full Drider has the following alterations from a normal character:
Permanent Spider Climb and Speak With Animals (spider only). Spin webs. Tremor-sense. Immunity to webs and causing vibrations. Poison bite for 15 damage. +1 hit dice. +3 AC. Multiple arms (potentially allowing two attacks). A bonus to wriggling. Double XP costs and no benefits save for hit-dice and saves from the point the teeth are put in.)

Like the Eloi I mentioned in a previous post, this is a sort of 'sideways advancement' that takes the character in a different direction compared to imply gaining levels.