YARC: The Ranger

I’m continuing on my quest to tweak pretty much all of the classes for my little homebrewed rules hack, YARC aka Yet Another RetroClone. This week it’s the Ranger. This class has a pretty long history in D&D and it’s gone through lots of various little tweaks. Like the rest of changes I’ve made to other classes, this one is based on my own preferences.
I think we can all pretty much agree that the origin of the Ranger starts with Aragorn. Let’s face it. He’s a badass. I’m not even going to try to emulate the character. I’m running with the badass theme.

Another thing about me. I’m an Army Vet. So when I hear Ranger. That brings up the whole Army Ranger thing. And if you dig deep into Army history, there’s the Alamo Scouts. While not technically “Army Rangers” Still badasses.
And let’s face it. I would be remiss if I’m talking about badass rangers with mentioning….

So let’s start making this class. There was a discussion on MeWe a while ago about Assassins in essence being played as Urban Rangers. Hmm. Good point. So let’s start there. Ranger Vs Assassin. There is some skill overlap in things like Stealth and perhaps general athletic ability. The Ranger is going to have the trickery/skullduggery type abilities. Rangers are might Fighter than Thief/Assassin. So, The Ranger should be better at fighting. So Fighter attack progression. A Ranger should be tougher than Assassins as well. But not quite as tough as Fighter. I mean the Fighter does have to have something special. For that, I’m looking at the original Ranger. SO 2HD at First Level but I’m down grading it a D6. Now what about damage? Old Rangers got a huge bonus against orcs, goblins, giants, and so on. Later editions gave Rangers “favored enemies”. Both of these gave bonuses that depended heavily on the campaign. So I’ll opt for something that’s a bit usable all the time but not too overpowered (I hope).
The original Ranger also had access to spells. This would good but didn’t kick in till much higher levels. In later editions, the Ranger had their own spell list. Which is kind of cool for those editions but not this. I’m trying to stick to old-school feel so no extra spell list. But I want something that’s a little bit less than casting spells at high level and I want it be useful.
The Ranger
Hit Dice: D6 (2 HD at 1st Level)
Attack Progression and Saving Throw: Per the Normal Swords & Wizardry Rules.
Class Abilities:
Hit ’em Hard: When a Ranger hits with an attack, the target attempts a Saving Throw. If the rolled failed then the Ranger does an extra d4 damage.
A Little Magic: Rangers may use cleric and magic-user spell scrolls of 2nd level and lower.
Skills: +2 in Instinct or Survival, gain +1 in the other. Also, +1 to Athletics and Stealth.

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New Episode, Patreon Intro Video and More!

This episode I channel my inner Glen Halstrom and talk about Mysteries and running them. And from the Little Brown Books guess what spell you need snow for? Oh yeah. Not everybody likes the same kind of pizza.
Check out the Episode on Anchor or wherever you happen to listen to podcasts.

And I uploaded an Intro video for the Patreon. Well, guess that starting a Youtube channel got moved up. No worries. I gots ideas.

And because you stopped by the blog. Here’s the Prototype Character Sheet for my Swords & Wizardry Hack (Yarc)

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YARC: Assassins and Thieves

I’m still working on the extra stuff for Magic_Users. So I’m moving ahead on classes. This time up Assassins and Thieves. Let’s face it. These classes are joined at the hip and in many cases quite similar. And, of course, the Thief was part of my inspiration for making a whole skill system. And for those super fans out there, they’ll might remember an old episode of Playing It Wrong where I talked about Job Vs. Class. Assassin is prime example. Any character can take money to off somebody. But there’s got to be something special about an Assassin (vs. assassin). So here you go.

Base Attack Bonuses and Saving Throws: No change from Swords & Wizardry
HD: d6 (Yes, for both the Assassin and Thief. I like my Thieves a little tougher than the d4 HD of the old games.)

Class Abilities (Thief):
Backstab: No change from Swords & Wizardry.
Skills: +2 to three of the following: Athletics, Banter, Skullduggery, Stealth, Tinker. +1 to any two other skills.
Saving Throws: +2 versus Traps and other devices.

Class Abilities (Assassin):
Backstab: No change from Swords & Wizardry.
Poison: +2 to Skill Checks that involve Poisons.
Know Where To Hit Them: An Assassin may apply their Intelligence modifier to damage rolls.
Skills: +1 to 3 of the following Allure, Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, Tinker
Saving Throws: +2 vs Poison

Hey but what about Thief Skills and armor? Yep, anything heavier than Leather provides a -4 penalty to Athletics and Stealth. Other modifiers based on the GM’s discretion and the situation.

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Making 5E More Dangerous

When I was doing my initial brainstorming about running The Blight, I did a lot of thinking about how to make 5E more deadly and grimmer. But my players decided that they wanted to do Swords & Wizardry so I’m cool with that. But I still had these ideas. so I figured what the heck share them.
I wanted to do something that fit within the existing rules and didn’t screw around too much with everything else. For lack of better terms, I came up with two ideas. Let’s call them strategic and tactical.
For strategic, I’m thinking long term effects of game play over the campaign and this one is pretty simple. Slow down character progression. Keep the characters at lower levels longer. I’m thinking about twice as long. This keeps those low-level threats still threats even longer. And the higher level ones be even more dangerous. Simple.
Then for the tactical side. This for something that actually effects the characters as they are adventuring. I didn’t want to mess with long and short rests. Heck. Let those stay the way they are. There’s a lot of class abilities that are tied to those and I didn’t want to mess with all that. I didn’t want to nerf the healing abilities because there are so damned many. So I started thinking and flipping through the Players Handbook for ideas. Then it struck me. Exhaustion. And here’s what I come up with.
For each failed Death Save, the character takes one level of Exhaustion.
Sure a character can get all their HP back but they ain’t going to feeling that great. This becomes really dangerous when you break it down and the following isn’t stuff I’m making up. It’s right there in the PHB. At 6 levels of Exhaustion, the character dies. For levels 1 to 5, the character has more and more penalties as their combat capabilities are reduced. A Long Rest recovers one level of Exhaustion. A Cleric can “heal” one level of Exhaustion with Greater Restoration (A fifth level spell).
And that’s it.

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Playing It Wrong: Fusion Gaming

Yes, I keep talking about Swords & Wizardry. I know. But it is great for Fusion Gaming. That is mixing up and melding various rules together. And yes, I heard that rumor too about a Kickstarter. In D&D Boot Camp, it’s all about playing what you want and mentoring. And the reading from the Ancient Tomes are hitting the new Magic-User Spells in Greyhawk.

So give this Episode a listen.

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YARC: Magic-Users

This week on my craziness to mess with every class, I’m going to talk about Magic-Users. Now part of this whole thought process comes from later games. So what’s the difference between a Wizard, a Sorcerer, and a Warlock? Well, let’s see at it most basic in order it’s Spell Book, Blood, and Deal. Three different sources of power that play out much the same way. Now, I like the way Dungeon Crawl Classics does it and the Magic-User classes does feel like a combination of all of them. Heck, in their Lankhmar setting, you don’t even need to be a Magic-User to sign a pact and gain a Patron. So in many ways, the idea of the Warlock can be easily something that’s pegged onto another class. Just sign the dotted line and don’t read the fine print.
That leaves me with Sorcerers. I know I said in the beginning I was going to include and I may still. But for right now, my inclination is that spells due to bloodlines sound more like a class feature rather than a class.
What about specialist Wizards? On this subject, I’m really old-school. Want to be an Illusionist? Then learn and research Illusion spells. Want to be a Necromancer? Well…. You get the idea. Ok. Now on to the class itself.
Hit Dice, Saves, Attack Bonus: No change from Swords & Wizardry
Skills: +2 to skill rolls related to magic and arcane lore (This isn’t a bonus to any specific skill but is applied at the GM discretion based on the task at hand).
Spell Casting: This should be fun, interesting and just a whee bit dangerous.
Spells Per Day: Intelligence Mod+Level. I know this is way out the ordinary. But I’ve this philosophy for Magic-Users. If they know a spell then they can cast it. And the normal Vancian progression just doesn’t quite fit my idea of how magic should work.
Max Safe Level: There’s still a lot of limits on Magic-Users. This is one. This maximum safe level. I’ll do the whole chart when I write all these notes but for now just look at the regular spell progression chart and find the highest level spell. That’s the Max Safe Level. Casting above the Max Safe Level is dangerous and can be done. The Magic-User attempts a Saving Throw with a penalty equal to the spell’s level.
Casting In Armor: Can Magic-Users cast in Armor? Maybe. For YARC, I’m lifting a rule from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Any class can use any weapon or wear any armor. So sure your Magic-User with a d4 Hit Die can run into melee combat. See how that goes. For Magic-Users, they can’t use shields and cast spells but they can wear any armor and try. Since I’m using Ascending AC, it’s pretty easy. The Armor’s bonus is the chance in d6 that the spell will fail and there will be a Magical Mishap (That chart is forth coming). For example Leather Armor (+2) has a 2 in 6 chance of causing things to crazy.
Starting Spells: At first level, the character has two first level spells of choice plus one random first level spell and one random second level spell.
Learning Spells and Spell Research: I haven’t gotten this completely written and this is long enough to be it’s own post. But once again I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
Making spell casting interesting: It’s just my opinion that magic just isn’t mysterious, interesting, and dangerous enough. But I’ve got a few ideas on that.
Spell Books: Yes, if a Magic-User knows a spell then they know/have it memorized but they still must study their spell books daily to keep the chaos of magic straight in their mortal brains. Additionally, they are constantly scribbling down notes and attempting the refine the spells they already know. Spell books are magical and unique to each caster. So if you read my thoughts on Mazes & Perils yesterday then I’m lifting from that a bit. If a non-Magic-User attempts to read a spell book then there is a Magic-User’s level x 5 chance that the character will go insane. A Saving throw makes this only temporary. If a Magic-User attempts to read (and they will to gain new spells) the percent chance is (Book’s Owner Level x 2)-Reader’s Level. The reader attempts a Saving Throw at +2 to avoid permanent insanity.
Spell Components: This is a great way to make spell casting interesting and I’ve already written about it here and here.
Spell Quirks: This is another chart that I need to write up yet but I’m getting inspiration from the Mercurial Magic of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

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Mazes and Perils

You know me. I like rant about old games and not just the originals but digging up something that’s been out a couple of years but just doesn’t seem to be getting much notice. So yeah. Here’s Mazes & Perils.
I’ll admit that this one of those PDF’s that sat there on my hard drive for years. Yeah, just another makeover of Basic. Sigh. So I didn’t pay that much attention to it. Then came along Anchor.fm and I started listening to a lot more RPG related podcasts and one that stumbled upon was World of Arkonis. (And in case anyone with that is reading, more episodes please?) So this brought Mazes and Perils back to my mind and I bit the bullet (OK took advantage of Drivethru’s Deal of the Day) and got the Deluxe Edition. And that dear readers is how we got to today.
So the Deluxe Edition is where the meat is at giving two new classes: The Enchanter and the Shaman. The Enchanter is sort of like an Illusionist but not quite. While the Shaman is sort of like a Druid but not quite. Both these classes stick to simple and easy design that comes along with using the Basic style rules. Each has their own spell list and most of the spells are unique to the class while some are similar to other spells. And each has their little other quirks. Non-Enchanters attempting to read an Enchanter’s spell book have a chance of going insane. While the Shaman has a quick self healing ability (Atunement) and can summon a Spirit Guardian that attacks like a watch dog. So there’s some neat stuff there.
So what else in there? Well. Variable HD and variable weapon damage are listed as optional rules. Yes that’s right optional. So just use a d6 if you’re going very old school. I’m one of those folks who go through retroclones looking for neat little stuff that adds an interesting tweak to the rules. And there’s a couple in there like Magic-Users being able to use their spell book like a scroll. And speaking of magic there are some pretty cool rules for casting spells in combat. Attack rolls on spells. Hmm. I kind of like that. There’s no race as class but there are racial class restrictions except for humans and halflings. Yep, you read that right. Halflings can be any class.
So overall, Mazes and Perils is another old school clone with some cool twists and tweaks. The Deluxe Edition clocks in at 75 pages so if have a hard copy it’s a fairly portable and complete game to throw into bag. If you’re like me and just love rules hacks and putting all sorts of rules together in a freaky frankengame, then oh yeah there’s some hand bits in there.
You can check out the Original or Deluxe editions on Drivethru. And note. The Enchanter and Shaman are only in the Deluxe Edition.

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Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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