Category Archives: Classes

YARC: Druids

Finally getting around to Druids. To be honest, it’s taken me a while to come up with something interesting for Druids. In very old D&D, there were monsters then they became Neutral Clerics. In 3rd Edition, they were massively overly powered. (A T Rex is my animal companion. No really saw that.) Now I did do an old post on Druids and all that still stands. Basically, they should be more than just tree huggers. Now, what to actually do with Druid in YARC. Well, not much really other than a few minor tweaks here and there. So let’s get down to the crunchy bits.
Hit Dice, Saves, and Attack & Spell Progression: Unchanged.
Class Abilities:
Shape Change: A Druid may transform into a normal mundane animal. The first time per day that a Druid does; it costs the casting a 1st Level Spell. The second time, a 2nd Level spell. The third time, a 3rd Level spell. And so on.
In Tune With Nature: Add WIS Bonus to any skill check involving nature.
Saving Throw Bonus: +2 vs elemental energy type attacks.
Druids and Metal Armor: They just can’t cast spells. Tough luck.
Druidic Language: That all depends on your campaign world. In mine, there isn’t one.

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YARC: Bards What’s in a name?

I know originally I said that I wasn’t going to do Bards but I just couldn’t resist. Why? Mainly because I like the class despite its varied history. And yes I know in official Swords & Wizardry there isn’t a Bard class.
Let’s talk first about the history and how I see the class. It was originally really hard to become a Bard. You were Fighter then a Thief then Druid (and thus becoming a Bard). It used the old dual classing rules that really were a pain in the butt. The Bard became a jack-of-all-trades in Second Edition. That was my favorite iteration of the Bard. 3.x gave us the support Bard. They really weren’t that good at anything else and had a tendency to die. And then finally in 5E, there’s sort of balance between the jack-of-all-trades and the support Bard.

For YARC, I’m running the jack-of-all-trades Bard. Because, well, that’s my personal favorite. The Bard still has that support role of being second best or better than nothing in a particular and still having sort of niche of the face of the party. I look at Bards as the dabblers in all manner of things from spells to fighting. They live by their wits and their luck. I’ve never really enjoyed the musical bard. I view it as the difference between a random priest who isn’t a cleric and minstrel who isn’t necessarily a bard. Sure they can entertain just like the priest can perform religious ceremonies. But like Clerics, the Bards should be adventurers.

Attack Progression: As Theif
Base Saving Throw Progression: As Fighter
Hit Die: D4
Class Abilities:
Power of the Written Word: Bards may use any spell scroll.
Lucky Stiff: If a Bard’s CHA is 13 or more then the character gains an additional HP/Level.
Spells: Bards may cast a limited number of Magic-Users spells each day. They may cast up to their level or the total of CHA and INT Modifiers whichever is less. Bards cannot research spells but they may attempt to transcribe spells from spell books or scrolls. This is the only way Bards may learn new spells. They face the restriction of casting in armor as a Magic-User.
World Traveler: Bards begin play with an additional language.
Skills: +2 in Appeal and Banter, and +1 to any other three skills of choice.

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YARC: Paladins

Ah. Paladins. The first time I played one, I quickly became a plain old human fighter. I deserved it. So no complaints there. But this class has me scratching my head. Originally, the Paladin was the paragon good, law, wholesomeness and all that. They were Lawful Good and had to have that high Charisma. Plus they that wonderful Detect Evil ability that could have been named Start an Argument at the Table. Of course, soon after the Anti-Paladin was published and everybody wanted to play that. Later Editions played around more with the Paladin and gave them a more loose moral standard and made them out to be divine warriors which is sort of what a cleric is, right? YMMV.
So where does that leave me with Paladins for my own little heartbreak. Well, Rangers are badasses. So are Paladins. While the Ranger is the general badass. The Paladin is the fanatical badass Witch Hunter, Undead Slayer, and Demon Hunter.
Attacks and Saves: Per Standard Swords & Wizardry rules.
Hit Die: D6 (Yes, I’m still reserving that D8 just for Fighters but see below)
Class Abilities:
Detect Unclean: With a successful Instinct check, the Paladin may detect the presence of an arcane caster, undead, or demon (or other planar and eldritch creatures) within 60 feet. It doesn’t single out an specific individual only that such a being is in the area.
Divine Favor: The Paladin may cast one First Level cleric/day. The character chooses the spell at First Level and may only change when they gain a level.
Smite: The Paladin has a pool of points to do extra damage to foes (2 HP/Level).
Zealotry: If a Paladin’s Charisma score is 13 or greater then they gain an additional HP/Level.
Skills: Paladins gain a +2 Bonus to skills pertaining to Demons and Undead.
I know this version of the Paladin takes away a lot of what has become their stock class abilities. Part of my thought on this is that I want the Paladin to be something other than a cleric who fights real well or the party’s morality compass. Though many times they need one.

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YARC: Clerics for The Blight

Agh.  The Cleric is a thorn in my side.  It’s not that it’s unbalanced or bad class. I just have some weird ideas when it comes to the class. There’s just a lot of little things that bug me.

Let’s start with a couple of the simple and basic things. I always thought the idea of “blunt” weapons that don’t draw blood was silly. Hey, I smashed your skull but didn’t “draw blood”.  Huh?  I understand that in the old game that Fighters needed something to make them special but this little rule bugged me and is already taken care with the little “everybody can use any weapon” rules. Another little thing that is later addition to they way clerics are viewed is making Turn Undead a 1st level spell.  I’m all for that.  I know that in the old days our clerics as healbots was a secondary thing.  The reason they were there was for the party to push them out front as soon as undead showed. Especially, those nasty level drainers.

There’s a couple more things that really bug me and this where things do all crazy in my head.  First, I was never that fond of cleric’s praying to their god for a list of the spells each day. Part of me wants them to almost like a Televangelist and just call down those powers as needed.  I thought about using that option for a while and well. Threw it aside.  Mainly, it’ll really slow down play while the cleric player flips through the rule book for just the right spell. With that being said, there should be an option for cleric’s to call down or switch a spell in an emergency but there has to be some risk and a cost. There’s another great option out there and that’s the Cultist class from Low Fantasy Gaming.  Instead of “spells”, the class gets the standard array of cleric powers as class abilities.

Those are the little things.  Here’s the big one.  Out of all the classes, the cleric is most tied to the campaign setting.  The cleric gets their power for their god and that god should be a part of the setting and despite different worlds and gods, the clerics were the same. The only effect the god was as a RP element. Later editions gave us Specialty Clerics and Domains.  Those took care of some of the blandness of clerics. But in essence they were still the same.  If you want to go all crazy, and maybe some one has but I suppose you could make a cleric class for each god.  But I think that’s a bit of overkill. Now I’ve thought of two ways to approach this.  One is the sort of “generic” cleric.  The cleric acts as a conduit of the power of the gods.  Need healing then cleric prays to the God of Healing. Need protection in battle then go to the God of War.  I like the idea but I feel it’s a good option depending on the setting.

Since I’m using Swords & Wizardry as my base there’s no specialty clerics so I’m going to go off on my own little tangent here sort of make them.  Basically, the cleric gets some extra ability or bonus based on their god.  However to qualify, the cleric will need a WIS of greater than 15.  Along with the other little changes at the beginning of this post, I think that’s about all I need to mess with on the cleric.  What’s makes them special is the gift that they get from their god.  So like I said earlier, I’m getting ready to run The Blight.  So, here’s my ideas for clerics for some of the Gods of The Blight.

Mother Grace: The Holy Mother, Mother of All, Goddess of Family, Order, and Tradition: Extra 1st Level Spell.

Brine: Ocean’s Anger, Fish-Brother, God of the Sea and Unsea: Can breathe under water for WIS Bonus Turns per day.

Father Canker: Brother Choke, The Silent Assassin, God of Poison, Silence and Smog:  Gain bonus to Save versus Poison equal to WIS Bonus.

Lord Shingles: The Shadow on the Rooftop, Sovereign of the Heights, God of Builders, Gables, Rooftops and the Sky: Add WIS Bonus to skill checks involving buildings or architecture.

Mithras: Lord Storm, The Battle, The Soldier God, Mithrae Invicto, God of War, Battles, and Soldiers: May use WIS Bonus in place of STR (Melee) or DEX (Ranged) bonuses on Attack Rolls.

Papyri: The Archivist, The Quiet One, The Lost Apprentice, The Thoughtful Silence, Goddess of the Written Word: Add WIS Bonus to Wits. Gain additional languages based on WIS Score.

Sister Shadows: The Unseen, Goddess of Alleys, Streets, Piers and Pathways: Add WIS Bonus to Stealth and to any skill checks involving navigating within a large city.

The Ash Queen: Queen of Whores, The Hunger, Goddess of Lust, Nature, and Witchcraft: Add WIS Bonus to Appeal and Survival skill checks.

I know these aren’t all the Gods of the Blight but it’s a start. And, of course, to make complete sense of this you’ll just have read your way through the Blight. And it’s still very much a work in progress.

 

 

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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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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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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