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 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 (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.