viernes, 16 de abril de 2021

Charm, Sleep, Fear, Confusion

Writing some spell lists, I've come to think about D&D's mind-altering spells in particular. Charm, Sleep, Fear, Confusion. 

They all have the potential to be encounter-skippers. Then, why choose one over the other? 
In the rules the differences are subtle: Charm might give you a temporary ally, so does Confusion by making an enemy so confuse that attacks itself or its allies. Sleep might affect more enemies. Fear makes the target flee, carrying away all treasure they might hold.

But in practice, rules as written, they speak more about how the enemies act than on how they do feel. For example: by casting fear, an NPC will never react to fear by trying desperately to befriend you, like in a charm spell (so you spare his life) or channel the fear attacking, but awkwardly, like in a confusion spell. RAW, they will always flee. So the spell effect is not as much about what does the target feel, its more about what they physically do.

So, a wizard learning Fear in wizard school, dreaming of the day in which he will subdue armies at his feet using magical fear, will be dissapointed because fear will only send them fleeing from him,

I'm thinking on having all those spells somehow mixed in one. Lets call it "Ensorcell".

When you cast it, you change the reaction of target NPC 2 steps up or down the Reaction Table. That is the effect. It's the GM who, depending on the reaction and the situation, describes which is the magical effect who caused it. Lets say that the Reaction Table its like:

A goblin who is attacking you (Immediate Attack) would be hold for some turns (confused). The GM says if its because of fear, daze, tiresomeness or maybe he is tripping balls.

A hostile one (roll of 3-5) would retire its attack completely. Maybe he is asleep or just lost his will to fight. He might not get in love with you, but will be opened to negociation.

If the monster is undecided (6-8), then you have the chance to make it your pal/waifu, as a classic Charm spell.

Possibly you can increase the power of this spell somehow, to make an Immediate Attack become an Enthusiastic Friendship by casting it twice or whatever. 

Now, I can imagine the same wizard in wizard school, memorizing lots of different theorems and tricks to be capable to ensorcell enemies someday, and adapt his spells no matter the situation. 

The bad part of this approach is that, when cast on PCs, it lacks guidelines on what should happen. The GM should interpret it based on the shown attittude of the PC towards the caster and interpret it as it was a reaction roll.

Monsters that normally cast effects on PCs, such as sirens or vampires, still work normally casting Charm or Fear, and should affect PCs just as they do in classic rules, no matter what is their attitude. They are monsters after all and work outside the PC's rules.

miércoles, 17 de marzo de 2021

One roll combat

 And when I say one roll combat, I mean to talk about when to hit and damage are resolved with a single roll. 

I am aware that making them a separate thing has its reasons, for example modelling fictionally different weapons or abilities. But as a game, one roll makes things smoother and easier, so I always implement that rule in one way or the other. But there are different ways to do it, and each way bends the combat math in a particular way.

tumblr:  shroomarts

Option A: There is the Into the Odd approach. 

Every turn you roll damage and you always hit; but armor soaks some damage. If we assume that the average damage per turn is equal to common DnD, this means that you will deal less damage every turn, but more constantly as there are lower peaks (1d6 damage can deal 6 damage if you hit; but if armor soaks 2 damage per turn, you will do damage 4/6 of the time, but can only deal 4 as a maximum). 

What does this mean? Well, this means that incresing the damage output of a weapon also increases it's capability to hit, and viceversa. This can be good or bad, depending on many factors. Also, it might seem like a minor nuisance, but it will take more pencil-writing time for GM and players as there are more and smaller "damage transactions" and displace the thrill of a big hit. Also, converting monsters and PCs to this numbers so the power levels are similar requires to ponder a lot of factors. Non- damaging attacks that require a to-hit roll can still be done by making an additional save vs effect.

Necropraxis "Degree of success as damage" and Blackrazor's "Auto-Hits" are two more essays on this approach.

Option B: Fixed damage. 

To make it a little generous we'll make it so each weapon's damage is rounded up from its classic damage die average: Fists do 2, Dagger does 3, Sword does 4 and polearms do 5 damage. Monster damage is also averaged and rounded up.

You can argue that this takes some randomness out of the game, and it is true, but that tends to soften  the more hits you need to take down an enemy. If you need 5 hits to take down a 18 hp troll with a 4 damage sword, on average it will still be very close to that number if you hit it with a d6 sword. The difference will accentuate the less hits you need to end a combat. For example, a 4 hp goblin will die on the first hit 50% of the time with a d6 sword and 25% with a d4 dagger. But with fixed damage it will Always die by the sword, and Never with the dagger, in the first round. Bear in mind that the randomness necessary so combat has still uncertainity is still on the to-hit roll (will it hit me or not?) but yeah, the numbers go wild at early levels. The pros are that this difference dissipates over time as levels go up, and that requires minimal conversion from classic rules.

Option C: Remove Hit Points. 

If HD is equal to 1d6 and so is the average weapon, they can both be removed for simplicity and make it so average attacks take out 1HD from the enemy, and proportionally increasing attacks that deal more damage. This is what I used when I made this OD&D port (still untested, fucking COVID). 

This is even more deterministic than fixed damage, as all weapons will drop your 1 HD character down in the first hit. This is not necessarily bad as there is still randomness on the "to-hit" roll: amongst two 1 HD combatants, the first that strikes through the opponent's armor wins. There is something I like a lot in that simplicity. How to increase your chances at that early levels? Get good armor and try to win initiative. 

At 0 HD, you can still rule various things to make PCs a little more durable:

- Roll in a Death and Dismember table. 

- Give them a Save VS Death.

- The famous rule of sacrificing the shield to prevent a hit, though I've never liked it much. 

- Just make fighters or other martial classes have extra HD at the start.

- Constitution bonuses give you 1 HD for each +1

- Make it so depending the viciousness of the monster, 0 HD means a different thing. A bandit might just drop you unconscious to sack your body, and a kung-fu user might just KO you to show you his superiority. A goblin might not be as merciful and you must save vs death, and an assassin will kill you straight if  he lands the last strike. Note that being KOed by a pack of wolves or similar and not having somebody to rescue you is pretty much equal to death.

- Increase a little the base AC to pay off the decreased chances of survival. This way a hit will take more to happen, but will be more decisive. Your character will die in about the same time, but in half the rolls. 

What I like most of 1 attack = 1 hd is that is simple enough that I can complicate it in different, newer ways: for example, instead of increasing damage or to-hit numbers, granting PCs ans Monsters extra attacks which can be rolled simultaneously; this way you get different damage possibilities depending on how many do hit.

The easiest way to implement it, however, is to differentiate weapons based on their chance to hit (daggers get penalties, because is harder to hit with a dagger. If you think about it makes even more sense than giving them damage penalties). 2 handed weapons however can take an extra HD if the wielder is strong (13+ strenght)

Homebrew Homunculus has written not one, nor two, but three posts building around this approach.

sábado, 13 de marzo de 2021

Trigun as an RPG (Into The Odd)

The earth is greatly fucked up or something, so a myriad of spaceships are sent into the universe towards a new place to live. They hold a mysterious technology called "Plants", which are capable of a quite potent terraformation. Due to a sabotage, most of them are destroyed and only a few manage to land safely on a desertic planet, which they will call Gunsmoke. 130 years have passed since then, and the societies built in the new planet are reminiscent of western movies but with mutants, cyborg parts and some advanced tech.

The game practically asks for hexcrawls: There are seven major cities in the planet; all of them built around the remains of a spaceship. The plants that those spaceships carried can provide limited water, food and energy in the desertic environment. All around them, however, is an unexplored wasteland illuminated by two suns and five moons. 

(Roll 2d6 to paint hexes)

2 - Major city (has got a plant)
3 - Small Town (2 in 6 chance of being abandoned)
4 - Mountain Cave
5 - Canyon 
6 - Desert
7 - Mountain or canyon if there is one adjacent. Else, desert
8 - Desert
9 - Mountain or Butte
10 - Small outpost (1-water farm, 2-well 3-Shelter 4- Radio tower 5-6: roll again, but its unhabited)
11 - Scraps (fallen city or remains of spaceship)
12 - Full Crashed Spaceship (Map as dungeon)

2d6 to see what is lurking here, if there are encounters

2 - Sand worms
3 - Robot Guardians
4 - Sandstorm, 1d4 turns
5 - Caravan (special rules to determine size and composition)
6 - Common bandits (1-3), bounty hunters (4-5) or both (6)
7 - Mark off one water use!
8 - Merchant/Wanderers (1d6). Criminals might mask as those.
9 - Already known NPC
10 - Tough bandits (gung-ho guns or trained cultists)
11 - Telepathic Insects
12 - Alien Abomination (1-sleeping eldritch type, 2-lion ant type 3- radscorpion type 4-doppelganger type)

deviantart: jasperk stoneking

XP for gold was invented for this kind of setting: as the world is pretty much lawless beyond city sheriffs, crime is dealt with basically by bountyhunting and every known criminal has a prize in doubledollars (Gunsmoke's currency) The game is easily to focus around hunting bandits meanwhile a bigger plot appears. 

The classic Trigun foes (tough bandits on above table) are a step or two above human capabilities: they have increased size and strenght, superhuman reflexes, psychic powers, implanted sensors or weapons or the like. If you haven't see the series, think that any foe from Metal Gear Solid could be swapped for one, and viceversa. Another way to create them is to pick names and skills from D&D monsters: John the Displacer always appears to be 2 meters from where he is, which is an awesome trick when you duel 1v1. Paul the Blink, however, can disappear and reappear anywhere nearby.

armor: +3

Though I haven't ever played Into The Odd, I think that it can fit perfectly with some changes (the free edition can be found here. I think I like it better than the follow up Electric Bastionland

You start with 2 randomized gifts from a list (pending) of gears and weird abilities. There must be some big guns, some mutations, some psychic abilities like telekinesis and mind manipulation (will saves allowing) naturally enhanced abilities (super-hearing, tracking water, etc) and biological/mechanical implants.

You roll 1d6 for hp.

HP 1: choose 2 extra objects  
HP 2: choose 1 extra psychic ability 
HP 3: choose 1 extra object
HP 4: you start with a free handgun (d8 damage) or katana (d8 damage). Yeah there are samurais on it.
HP 5: you start with any cybernetic implant 
HP 6: you are a plant. You can summon angel arm (d10 damage in area, blast). Make will save to avoid a mishap.

You roll 3d6 for stats (STR, DEX, WILL). One thing that I don't understand in Into the Odd is that stats don't ever grant you any active bonuses or widen your possibilities of approaching problems, they function mostly as passive saves. So I want to add this:

If STR is higher than 14, you deal +1 die size damage with melee weapons, and can attempt to break sturdy doors.

If  DEX is higher than 14, you get +1 armor when you're unrestrained. Dex contests are also used to shoot first in duels!!!

If WIL is higher than 14, you can re-roll any roll once per rest

It is important to know about the mysterious nature of the Plants. They are actually sentient, womanlike beings who live inside the lightbulb-shaped things. They are providers of life, just like if they were in a sense "fertility goddesses". Vash and Knives (protagonist and antagonist) are the counterpart: male plants who can walk the earth, but have a great capacity of destruction, more in tune with Ares. Their body can mutate into angel guns able to destroy cities, even make a crater on the moon. 

If there was any scientific record regarding the creation or the metabolism of plants, that information is not known today. Plants look exactly like normal humans, though they are always blonde. They are still alive and look around late 20s or 30 something even though more than a century has passed from the landing. How much time can they last is a question blowing in the wind.

two plants meet each other

Though this setting can look like Fallout or Mad max at first sight, the tones are kind of different: on them, the plots often revolve around "the world before the war", and all the cities and denizens are permeated of a certain cynicism and hopelesness. In Trigun, the world is harsh and dangerous, but it feels healed. As Vash says, "the future is a blank paper"; and the world around them reflects this view. 

viernes, 5 de marzo de 2021

CLASS AS RACE IV: Barbarians, Bards, Alchemists

 This is part of a series about each class belonging exclusivelly to a race or tribe, look them up!


Rpg orcs have always moved beween a line of "irredemably evil, possibly souless, self spawning cannon fodder" to "just a musunderstood tribe of noble savage". When I went deep analyzing what was the archetypal energy of the orc, I found it was a lot about painting the view that a tribe has of "the others": the tribe A thinks that tribe B has awful, disgusting or heretic customs, and tribe B thinks the same about tribe A; so both are human tribes thinking that their neighbours are the orcs.

Their other defining core trait that both approaches seem to share is rage. Orcs tend to appear as crazy bersekers if, at least, in their tougher members. So, we can say that common orcs are level 0 to 1 barbarians, with Uruk hai / Bugbears being the Level 4+ ones.

This is an orc. They can be green if you want, 
but they dont need to in order to be "different". 
It's your choice.

The divergences between Trow Fighters and Orc Barbarians imply a radically different approach to life. While Trow build fortresses and have, in general, a thematic of "civilizing" the world around them, Orcs are more similar to earth's raiding tribes (vikings, polynesian raiders, mongols). As this defines them as a race, it makes it clear that they live in a permanent, never ending raid.

Orc tribes have their settlements on a big chain of barren islands at the north; which are relativelly protected from monsters thanks to their geographical situation (maybe there are bigger monsters at the sea that prevent the continent's monsters to reach there). They could probably survive there, but they have an inner rage that drives them inexorably to lust for battle. This is so that the (more sensible) orc women send them out the islands once they reach fighting age; or else they would start wars amongst them. There is a great spring party at that times, where the women that want to have kids search for the best warriors just before their departure. Often they encourage them to gather riches in the mainland for her, an ancestral custom which secretly serves the purpose of making the berserker orcs more stubborn to persist in their raid and possibly never return. The rites end with all the women saying goodbye to their lovers, brothers and sons as the longboats step into the sea, probably to never return, just like the highschool girls did back in the WW2 with the japanese kamikazes.

Orc women are barbarians after all, so they can defend their homes on their own from invaders (often other orcs). They are known to use luring tactics with flashlights to make ships crash into the rocks. The few visitors that have actually met orc settlements talk of their athletic but alluring beauty and usually are known as Amazons.

But, back at orc men, most of them will never return to their homes. Their innate drive to war and their abstract obsession with "glory" makes them engage never ending battles, mostly with trow, and try to raze as much bounty as they can. This is very cool from a gamist perspective because it gives answers to many in-game assumptions from D&D: 

What are orcs doing in dungeons and why do they store gold? they are raising a bounty, possibly they use the dungeon as shelter because they are not fond of building complex stuff

Why are not orc women on LOTR or D&D? because they're back at their homes. Also, that is why orcs in the 80s were so fond of capturing princesses.

Why are orc settlements always messy and post-apocalyptic? because they have possibly killed all their last occupants, sacked the city and occupied it as a center of operations. Its not that they built it to live in there or anything.

Why you always end up fighting orcs? Because they are always fucking around. Sometimes they will also enslave or blackmail other tribes, like hobbits, in order to get supplies (much easier than planting your own crops) and other shit like that. Of course, you can point that the Trow do the same thing with hobbits. But that's tribe A thinking tribe B are orcs.

Sometimes, orcs achieve to get back home with lots of bounty. They are greatly respected, their treasures cause great wonder in the island, as do his tales of battle amongst the younger kin. Altough some might decide to stay and reign (tough his power is in great part nominal, as the islands biorrythms have structured around amazons and it won't change as easily as wishing it) most of them just stay for a year of leisure, reveling in their success, and embark on the next raid as the leader of the younger warriors.


Bards, as they are depicted in most rpgs, are almost as cheesy and zany as Dwarves, and I don't understand the appeal of having a guy playing the lute in battle. Still, if we stick to the concept of bard as depicted by this and this, which is basically make them lesser thieves with some charisma (and don't give them spells, at least not at low levels) I can work something from them.

Do you remember the classic trope in videogames of the merchant that sells equipment and appears anywhere on the map, even when the zone around is infested by enemies? Cardinal Quest for example has them. Secret of mana has them being cat people called nekos, and Dragon Warrior has them even as a playable class. 

there he is! 

Furries or not, I will center here more in the nature of their tribe and organization. So, Merchants level up like Bards.

At level 1 they can read scrolls, have some lore and maybe some bonus to charisma. It makes sense they have it providing they live on selling stuff. It is also implied that it is the way they solve trouble in their travels, given that they are not a full combatant class. It also suits them when the game rules give luck bonuses to bards, though its not necessary. 

At higher levels they do know spells which make them supernatural merchants. Those are the kind that might dare to appear at the mouth of the endgame evil fortress to sell you your missing potions.

Despite being based on the bards, they do not need to carry an instrument with them, or even sing. But of course, some of them might. Some of them might even charge money for songs or dances instead of wares. They might charge you for writing a song about your deeds (fake or real), bringing a message to a far away city or identifying items. Of course, and as with other races, this doesn't mean that other races cannot go trading across the world, but they are just not Merchants from the Merchant culture and they don't advance as bards. 

Male and female versions of the merchant PC class
in Dragon Quest III. They actually look very bardy.

As a culture of their own they are pretty much nomads. But there IS a merchant home, and its very very cool in my mind. Hear this: They call it Mirage City. It can be found when one is lost in the desert, wavering like if it was reflected in the water on a pool. But even if it seems close, non-initiated visitors will never achieve to get in, only walk towards it forever. What is the trick exactly, I leave it to you.

Tumblr: binglebeb

Inside the city all the merchants make deals and re-locate their loots among themselves, preparing for their next routes. Its a city of music and dances, intrigues and heists. Basically your classical arabian, city of brass setting filled with Arabian Nights topics. As it is a good place for a den of thieves, it makes sense that there are Hobbits living amongst them too (both of the honest hard-working class and the thief kind) in their accustomed symbiotic bond of assistants. 


As I mentioned in the first post marginally, gnomes are the alchemists of this land. They build underground cities which I picture very colorful and weird, like I remember the Nome Kingdom in the Wizard of Oz anime: Strange glowing things in all colors making a very bright underdark; crazy dreamscapes combined with pools of lava, gemstone ornaments, wonderful treasure and deadly traps. Which is cool because this is a game about dungeons.

Alchemists charge gold, gemstones and surface ingredients and give you potions and maybe other kinds of James Bond gadgets. As a tribe, they won't sell indiscriminatelly and will feel out potential customers to know they won't use their technology against their interests, preferring to make long-lasting business relationships. Individually, there are some more greedy than others. 

There are not many games that have alchemist as a class, but I think that, as I would use the alchemist market as an integral part of the game loop, it makes sense that if you end up playing an alchemist PC you should have some advantage crafting this kind of items. Lets say that an ingredient is 100 gp worth, and a potion is 1000 gp, you should have a chance to create a potion with said ingredient proportional to your alchemist level, so you can effectivelly create cheap potions during downtime, also without having to return to the potion shop back at base. consider to use this in addition or instead of any alchemist class abilities you find around. 

Gnomes (which I mix with kobolds a little) are also great guides when you're going underdark. If using things like darkvision, they should be the ones that get it. They are not aggressive people but they are not cowards either and will attack miners that try to dig too deep into their kingdom. Personally I will rip off lots of things for their tribe from the Miners Guild as it appears at the unofficial, unfinished Loom sequel, Forge:

Making firewine from grapes that only grow under the light of the lava river

Pet canaries can warn you if oxygen is dropping low at the street

Look at that fucking dome. They got an underground garden 
in there. And the light comes from magically woven tapestries 
(see Wizards in the previous entry)

domingo, 28 de febrero de 2021

CLASS AS RACE III: Wizards and Monks

 Part of a series on worldbuilding around the idea of classes forming homogeneous races and tribes. This contextualizes classes and the constraint creates a world that might be interesting to imagine. All the surface world is a dangerous wilderness, filled with monsters and extreme weather hazards. That is why all civilized races sough protection though fortesses, numbers, alliances or other diversions.


Ogres, however, rely solely on their strength. Hardships of the world are welcome to them, because this trains their muscles and their wills. When you play an ogre (or Oni, Cyclops, Troll, etc. Any of those big brutes) just take the monk class.

On their natural habitats, they do all the clichés about breaking forests into lumber or mountains into quarries in order to test their skills, or meditating interposing their titanic bodies against a waterfall. The quirky thing about their civilization is that they are of the few that dare to live by themselves without any nearby help.

This allows them to do some things that other tribes would think twice to attempt: To lead flocks of sheep and cattle across long routes, to build monuments in the middle of the nothing or to mantain hives of giant bees for trading with the mead and honey, among others. Merchants make trade routes towards their dwellings to get their valuable supplies.

Low level monks are your classic Ogre foes, or maybe just young ones that have not grown up yet. Sometimes, mostly when ogres are fond of gold and earthly pleasures instead of spiritual paths, they gather in small mob-style gangs. 

 High level monks can be masters and might even get students if they pass some test (but makes sense that if they do, they still level up as their respective class). On a gamist perspective they are great PCs, NPCs and Monsters which is the important thing.

Ogres do not gather in cities, but they do build. Their architecture is often inhabited and scattered across the land: Temples, shrines, dojos, apiaries, towers, mills, bridges, dams, shelters for shepards, memorials and tombs (which again, gives many in-game possibilities for putting interesting shit on the game). Sometimes, making them is part of a training, as, for example, a sensei ordering young students to build a dojo before they can be trained; but then they discover that building it they gained lots of strenght that was needed for applying the teachings. 

Ogres are however very frugal when builing their own homes. The classical lair of a mountain monk is a stone chimney and half a cabin built against the rock, and nearby shishi odoshi:


You know about Swan Maidens? Those girls that bathe in the river, then a prince steals their swan dress and must marry him to get it back? And that are also on D&D bestiaries? Well, that is a concept that ties well into wizardry via one of my recurrent obsessions: Loom (the LucasFilm game). 

In that game, there is a tribe called The Weavers, which are functionally their world "magic men". They weave spells, using lots of spinning and weaving themes and terminology. They also related to birds, specially swans, as one of their highest spells allows them to shapeshift into this animal. 

Their tribe or tribes take the shape of disheveled tents on the outside, but on the inside they have "folding" spells that make of them big and sophisticated if they need. I imagine their elders casting spells of hiding and distracting the senses in order to protect the village.

They use distaffs and put spells on things, mostly in clothes. To learn their spells they must observe the world around them and look for patterns hidden on certain things. This is a good motivation for adventuring, for characters that are to be PC's hirelings (and eventually PCs)

Transformation in bird is a spell on the list, not too low level, not to high either. It might not be tied to a Swan specifically, but other similar birds depending on the personality of the caster. In oriental folklore, the myths feature crane maidens instead.

The weaving themes can also be tied to the norns and fate. The wandering, lonely nature of the wizards also bears resemblances with the norse völvas.

It would have been easier to make it so all wizards live on a high-towered wizardry school, like in Earthsea. But we are making it so all classes are sort of "born into it" and wizard schools imply the opposite. It takes out some of the class endogamy.

martes, 23 de febrero de 2021

CLASS AS RACE II: Rangers, Druids and Clerics

 Part of a series on worldbuilding making whole races inspired directly by a class, each one having their own tactics to survive in a harsh world. In this entry we cover tribes which live a step further into the wilds.


When you play an elf, you get the ranger class, be it the ones from 5E, the playbook from Dungeon World, your homebrew or any else: adapt to it. These kind of elves are plant-based, and take elements from greek dryads and japanese kodama: just as Adventure Time huntress wizard, they have leaves for hair and their skin can be green and smooth like a stem or barky like a trunk when elves are older (or have leveled up enough).

Elves are greatly autosufficient in their forests and do not need for much outside them: they have a marked biorrhythm in which they are born, they form a family and they teach their kids to protect their sacred groves. Then they slowly become treants and then, one day they "die" and become sacred trees themselves. Normal trees are fond to grow around them, and this way the forest expands. As talk with trees is sometimes a ranger spell (when rangers are allowed spells), this means that elves can usually speak with their deceased elders providing they are still "awake" (When they cannot, they make use of druids: see below). Then the younglings protect their elder's slumber until their spirit finds some eternal rest or who knows when, and the cycle goes on.

from Stevesketches (twitter)

Until that moment, elves live according to their natural principles which consist in hunting and studying the Tao. All the things that Taoism and meditation suggest you are true for elves: they meditate, cultivate their spirits and try to flow with the path as much as they can. If you ever heard the thing about zen arrows, this is the secret of why they are so good shooters and fighters in general. They are contempt to live this way and to assume their place in the food chain. Sometimes young elves hire themselves as bodyguards or even assasins, which suits them perfectly.


When forest people is in need of some religious or magical services, they recur to the Nymphs (Nixes, undines, sirens, etc). These aquatic ladies have magical powers and level up as druids (so depending in the rules you use, probably have a second shape and a good gang of animals to scout for them). They speak with trees when elves need to communicate with their elders; but they charge prices for that.

Nymphs are extremelly covetous and hoard treasure in their aquatic lairs. This treasure might be from gold to the most weird things: Corpses, weapons, mundane tools... etc. As people that don't like to abandon their rivers, lakes and shores, all signs of civilization hold some capacity of wonder. However, for the sake of making them playable, they can spend time outside of water providing they take baths in fresh water from time to time (its their equivalent of a long rest). 

It is mandatory for a good setting with Nymphs to have them play music, and if allowed by your version of class spells, they will try to charm listeners in order to find lovers or slaves. If Rangers and Druids are too similar in the rules you are using, you can always make Nymphs the Illusionist instead.

Level 1 nymphs are usually the males, which have not much magic and, because of that, are more prone to physical combat (AKA their role is cannon fodder for combat encounters). 

Level 6+ nymphs are renowned priestesses that offer spiritual services to all forest dwellers and are greatly respected. Which in that aspect makes them very similar, but not the same as our next guest class.


If you want to play a cleric, that is OK, but you have to be this:

That is a kirin, or quilin, a sort of chinese unicorn with divine power. They are not common, but really rare, as Gandalf's kin in LOTR. And as the istari, once they have leveled up a little they are gamechangers to any faction they decide to help. Luckily for you, you can assume human form! It would be hard to roleplay otherwise. In fact, you might have lost the ability to become a horse as part of the natural clerical training and might have to grind a little until you recover it.

Other races might have clerics in the sense that they have their priests and priestesses who carry their ritual endeavors, banish evil and maybe healing some diseases; but kirins are the only ones that progress beyond level 1. In fact, if another cleric does, it will be revealed that he has kirin blood or something, or be granted kirinhood. This manifests by assuming the shape in dreams first. It is the sign to continue developing your devotion (towards level 2 and beyond my friend).

I'm sure that a place in which all Kirins have a "village" of their own exists, which is probably designed for horses more than for people, but maybe its set in a mystic valley so otherwordly that it is in fact other plane of existance. Who knows. Its probably very extense as they love to run from one place to the other. But I do guess that is probably safe from monsters due to high level clerical spells: Blessing the perimeter regularly, a river used as a moat which they cross using Water Walk, or a forest filled with sticks that can turn to snakes if orc invaders set their foot on it.

This bitch is supposed to appear in naruto? I dont remember. I just googled "kirin human form"

Kirin that decide to develop their natural powers are blessed after a long career with powerful magics as reincarnation, raise dead, etc. Whatever your cleric rules allow to. But please no more stupid medieval monks with superpowers.

Part 3 soon. 

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2021

Trow Fortress: Class As Race part I: Fighters and Thieves.

There are some different approaches that one can take about fantasy races in settings or in games. They work great in books and movies where they play NPCs, incarnating all the mythic archetypes the hero has to meet across its tale. But in the way of making them playable, it is easy to end up turning them into humans of a slightly different size, color or accent. 
In many works of fiction, non-humans have classically assigned a "kingdom" on the map, and they build civilizations with their equivalent of towns, pyramids, inns or schools (Sometimes, like in Warcraft 2 which is otherwise very cool, the settlements are mirrored 1:1). This is cool sometimes, but to contrast, all the folk tales commonly use dwarves, goblins, elves, etc as inhabitors of the mythical forest, representing the uncivilized peoples that lurk beyond the rational, civilized domains of man.

You got to find a middle point if you want to use them as playable races in a game, though. You want ideally to feel "different", but you cannot use something entirelly alien because, "you know", somebody human actually has to interpret that guy.

Anyhow, I've been thinking about a setting without humans; by trying to add to every race a different facet of mankind, and keeping them as much as possible into that niche. I've had fun imagining how does each of the races organize themselves and which place they hold in the world. Also, each class is meant to advance mechanically as though if all their members had the same specific class, making them, as the title says, class as race. Let's start!


The titular trow are the feudal, warrior race. They live into mountain halls and stone fortresses to protect themselves from the terrible surface monsters, and in there they form monarchies who rule over a certain land. They replace dwarves in that aspect, but instead of hairy midgets they are a little taller and elegant as if they were drawn by Leiji Matsumoto. 
When you play a Trow, you level up as a fighter (doesn't matter which rules you use, if your game uses classes, pick the fighter sheet). The king in your fortress is also probably a high level fighter.

Following the inspiring entry about backloading complexity at Necropraxis, all PCs start as young Trow Knights, and further PCs will be taken from the hireling pool, so, to play a new race you must get them as a hireling first.

Trow Castles have a retinue of knights that are in charge of dealing with important tasks: They are a mix of arthurian knights, samurais, the MI6 and Final Fantasy 8 seeds (meaning that I can go there for inspiration on how to run them). 
Their main mission is, however, going into the sandbox wilderness  to collect treasure in the form of gold, monster parts and ingredients, which are later sold to gnome alchemists for their potions (and you get XP for that, it is basically the game premise). That potions are basically one-use spells and is the only access to magic for new characters, so if you get one as starting equipment, cherish it like if it was Q giving James Bond a gadget. In-game, the ingredient and potion economy might be also vital to the fortress itself.

I imagine them behaving and looking a lot like Korean nobles of the Joseon era, with that studded armors and wide brim hats (I've just watched the show Kingdom, is very very good)
They represent the way humans have organized themselves in complex hierarchies, and also the "honorable knight" facet that is many times exclusive of humans in many rpgs (humans are white in magic the gathering). 


When you play a Hobbit, you level up as a Thief. They have a knack for hiding after all: because they are level 1 thieves. Those low level hobbits are not regarded as thieves by other people, of course. That is just some meta-knowledge. On the other hand, there is probably a legendary rogue out there that has lots of incredible adventurers and has performed legendary heists, that is just a high level hobbit.

They are weak fighters so, to protect themselves from orcs and other menaces they normally live in a relationship of vassalage with trow lords. They live on villages and tend the lord's fields in exchange of protection, or maybe perform as squires or assistans: They are the first hirelings that will be available to PCs, be it as servants, or as freelance hobbits searching themselves for treasure. 

I imagine this little fuckers being good navigators and swimmers, riding oxen for transport in the summer, celebrating their holidays around the harvest seasons and staying comfy at home in winter nights. They are the rural peoples in oposition to the court peoples, and neither trow or hobbits cross their respective lines on a meaningful manner.
Even though most hobbits OK with their symbiotic relationship, they are potentially tough and adventurous people and they are who posess the mankind's ability to expand and conquer all biomes. No matter the terrain or the distance, it is always possible to find a hobbit cabin or outpost somewhere. They have that unique drive to expand and go further. Their key concept is adaptation. They develop symbiosis with trow, but maybe they could adapt to other lords, situations or dangers.
For their role of domestic helpers, I'm tempted to call them Kobolds instead.

And now, a note on goblins: They also fit the same thieve role as hobbits. In fact I cannot think of another fitting class for them. So I've thought that, though you can use them if you want, it makes more sense that, whenever an adventure calls for goblins, you substitute them for evil hobbits: bandits who turn their natural skill to find profit, and that may even form clandestine Thief Guilds. 

this episode is a good place to get inspiration for one

It makes much more sense that a single race is capable of both law and chaos; than to have an "always good" race and an "always evil" race. The best is that Tolkien also thought about that by showing us that Gollum, in the end, was just a hobbit turned evil; and his goblins are in the end just another name for orcs (which will be covered later as Barbarians)

These two are the starting point, the most human-like maybe, in the sense that they both belong to the most "civilized" states of the world. Beyond here, peoples get more wild, gregarious, strange and crazy. 

Stay tuned for part 2