Category Archives: Classes

YARC: Classes and Races

Now that I’ve gotten a few bits done, it’s time to talk about races and classes because with old school games you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Since the first go around for YARC is going to be The Blight. characters may seem a bit under powered compared to your standard character. The Blight is grim and gritty so that’s why I’m going in that direction. And this is the point where inspirations from other editions and variants of Swords & Wizardry kick in.
I did an episode last year on Playing It Wrong about job versus class. To put it simply, just because it’s a character’s job that doesn’t mean that it’s their class. The big one is usually the assassin. I supposed technically any class can be an assassin but it takes somebody special to be an Assassin. The whole idea is if it’s a class is just a fighter who can track. Well, that’s not a Ranger. So the classes need have some distinct abilities that make them special.
Here’s the tentative list of classes:
Fighter: The most standard and yet IMHO boring class.
Cleric: Yes there will specialty priests.
Thief: Cat burglar or smiling con artist. I suppose later editions got it a little better by calling them Rogues.
Magic-User: Magic is supposed to be mysterious and interesting. Once IHMO even the original edition make them sort of video gamey. Cast the spell and boom. But things still need to be simple at the game table.
Assassin: Good at killing a single target. But still different than a Fighter or Rogue.
Druid: Hmmm. I don’t have any inspiration yet to tweak them.
Paladin: This isn’t you daddy’s prince charming noble knight. These guys are religious zealots hunting down the unclean and heretical.
Sorcerer/Warlock: Oh just check out Dice Roll Zine No. 2. That’s my primary inspiration.
I know. I always do a Bard and Barbarian. I think most of those class abilities can be easily wrapped into other classes. What about Monks? Once again I just don’t think they fit this setting. And lastly because I know someone out there is thinking it, what about Race as Class. I would say that I like both. It all depends on the campaign. If I’m emphasizing old-school play then I’ll do race as class. If there are only a few races then sure. But in this case there’s lots of possibilities for The Blight. So no race as class but races will be limited on their choices. I haven’t even gotten close finalizing that list but it will include the usual suspects as well as a few familiar faces plus a take on the one’s presented in the Swords & Wizardry version and just maybe a race or two that just captures my imagination. But more on that later when I get to races.

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YARC: Skills Part 2

Previously, I gave a little overview of how I want to do skills for Yarc and now it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
The overall mechanic is roughly skills as save. I won’t be using the character’s regular Saving Throw but instead it will be it’s own check. Roll a d20 equal to or greater than then you succeed. It’s that simple. Here’s the break down.
Skill Check
Level 1; Skill Check:18
Levels 2-3; Skill Check: 17
Levels 4-5; Skill Check: 16
Levels 6-7; Skill Check: 15
Levels 8-9; Skill Check: 14
Level 10; Skill Check: 13

First, why stop at Level 10? Well, it’s a nice round number plus lower level adventuring seem more fun than the really high level stuff. Characters can be heroic without being super heroes. Of course, the Skill Check will modified by a range of “skills” and further modified by race and class (but more on those modifiers as I do the races and classes). I’ve tried to limit the number down to it’s most basic based on what I’ve seen practically all character try to do. Each skill has rating. To determine this, average the ability score modifiers on the abilities noted for each skill. OK why average? I answered that in a previous post. Also, skills should be very broad. And here’s the list:
Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performing
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, and Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, haggling, diplomacy.
Craft (WIS & DEX): Building things, hands on DIY type stuff and healing.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting secret doors, avoiding surprise, searching, detecting lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Locks & Traps and anything mechanical.
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving quietly, blending into the crowd. (The exception to the two ability scores rule.)
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. foraging, and so on.
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore
There it is 10 skills to cover most situations and like I said races and classes will get additional modifiers but more on that when I start writing those up.

White Box Thieves

I just can’t leave things alone. A couple of weeks ago, I did some tweaks to the White Box Fighter and those tweaks could be used in other Old School Type games. This time I’m going after the Thief.
White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game did a great job with the Thieves and their skills. They made it one skill Thievery. But in my own little mind, I want to expand it a little more and add just a whee bit of customization.
For my variant, I decided on two skills rather than one. Thievery and Skullduggery. So what does what?
Skullduggery: Disguise, Picking Pockets, Deception, Forgery, Sleight of Hand, Streetwise. When in doubt use Skullduggery when it some to knowledge and interacting with people.
Thievery: Disable and Find Traps, Climb, Pick Locks, Stealth. Thievery is for interacting with devices and the environment.
The skills still work off the x in d6 mechanic and here’s the break down.
Level 1: 1 in 6
Levels 2 to 4: 2 in 6
Levels 5 to 7: 3 in 6
Levels 8 to 10: 4 in 6
At first level, the character chooses which one they are better at and gets a +1 to the skill. And there you go. The rest of the Thief is the same.

White Box Warriors or Fighters Are Boring

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on White Box. But there was a request and I’ve got a few things in my back pocket while I was prepping for the possibility of running it. So why not do a few posts about it?

My Favorite White Box Cover

Let me start with messing with the good old fighter. Why? Because they are kind of boring. They get the best armor, weapons, HP, and to-hit bonuses and that’s it. There’s very little of what I would cool factor. You run up and you hit stuff. So how about adding a little bling to the fighter.
First, drop the Combat Fury. That’s the extra attacks against opponents of 1 HD or less. I’ve found it not very useful. Instead go for the “Chop Til You Drop” Rule. Legend has it that it was Dave Arneson’s house rules in the very early days so I say it stands up to the OSR purity test. It runs like this basically. Kill an opponent. Get an extra attack. The character can only get a number of extra attacks equal to their level. It’s much more useful over the level range of the character without being overpowered. But that’s just opinion.
Next. Why should thieves have all the fun with skills? So give Fighters a skill. I call it Prowess. I could throw in a little chart but just turn the Thief page in your rule book and look at their Thievery progression. A Fighter’s Prowess follows the same progression.
So what do you do with it? Want to do some neat trick in combat. Roll Prowess. That’s the catch all. However, I expanded it a bit more for more mechanic based effects. First, the player declares what they want to do. Most of thing time this would break down to three things. It it harder, not get hit, and make sure you hit. Mechanically speaking this breaks down to bonus to Damage, Armor Class, or To-Hit. So roll that Prowess. Fail. Too bad no bonus. Success! In that case the number rolled is the bonus. So low level Fighters won’t be getting huge bonuses and they won’t get them that often. Higher level fighters have a better chance of getting a bonus but then there’s still a chance that it might only +1 which at higher levels might not help that much.
So what do you think? Should I do more of these? Let me know folks.

The Gifted Expanded

I’m still working on a bunch of stuff for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. I wanted to play around a bit with the Gifted Class to define it a little more precisely for how it would fit into New Bay City. The class pretty much stands as it but where I’m really tweaking it is in the area of Supernatural Heritages. I’m putting them into three broad groups or dare I say sub-classes. The Gifted, The Blooded and The Cursed.
First, instead of rolling the player gets to choose and I’m doing a few little tweaks and changes to their specific boons too. So here’s the list.
The Gifted
Magic-User (Witch, Warlock, Sorcerer, Shaman, Wizard, etc): Same as The Witch in the Core Book. But remember player may be a bit more creative with Familiars.
Psychic: Gain the Minor Psychic ability as I blogged about before.
The Blooded
Nephilim: As Celestial in the Core Book.
Cambion: As Daemon in the Core Book.
Changeling: As Serpent Man from the Core Book.
The Cursed
Vampire: As Vampire in the Core Book.
Lycanthrope: Keen senses. Gain Positive Die to perception tests a number times per session equal to half their level/HD.
The Magic-User and Psychic run as they would straight out of the book. But the others get a few little extra setbacks and tweaks. Of course, all of this is up to the GM’s discretion. First up Powers. It needs to fit with the concept of the character. Change Body doesn’t make sense for Werewolf but Ferocity or Augmented Strength does. Some gifts should be redefined as “Self Only”. Continuing on with the previous of example, sure that Werewolf could have Augmented Strength but they couldn’t “cast” it on another character. So when a Power is redefined as Self Only, the character gains a Positive Die activate it. All other rules to using Powers apply.
Backlash and Corruption: Here’s where I think that it gets interesting. Like the Powers, Backlash and Corruption should fit the character’s theme. Werewolves get more feral, hirsute, affected by the phases of the moon, animals may start to react badly to them, silver may become a problem. And, well, Vampires will there’s a whole laundry list things a creative GM could use. There’s plenty of lore.
That’s bleeding beta of the idea. Sure there will probably be some changes before the dice hit the table.

More on Kits for BX and other games

I made a post last week about using the concept of kits for a BX game. And I’ve had some time to think more on it.
My first impression was to do the whole run of subclasses as kits. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I put pen to paper, looked over some rule books and traveled deep into quagmire that is my brain. While the base classes are pretty standard across the board, the subclasses aren’t. There are many an interpretation as well as my own. So lots of options.
This all doesn’t mean I’m not working on a crunchier way of doing this. But I’ve got the quick ersatz way of doing it right now and like many good things it’s pretty simple.
If you’re running a game that only has the four basics and don’t really feel like adding in more classes. Start by talking to the players and negotiate a little. At first level, the characters would start off as the base class. Let’s face it. Most of the subclasses have pretty much the same abilities as the core classes plus some extra bennies. And after that bit haggling and discussion, the GM and the player should have some idea on what direction the character is headed. At second level, the character is headed down that special path then at third they start getting whatever cool stuff added in.
Now, I do want to make an exception for the so called specialist wizards. You want to be illusionist. Hunt out and learn illusion spells. Necromancer. Same thing. And there’s always spell research.
As far as clerics go, this should be something at first level. Because in my humble opinion, all of the cleric’s abilities derive from their faith. Now they may pick something cool based on divine quests.
So there you more rants and thoughts on another project that I’ve got on the fire. And more specifics are on the way.

Kits for BX and Earlier Editions

Well, why not? This idea popped into my head while listening to a podcast. I’m not sure which one. I think THAC0’s Hammer. I remember the kits of Second Edition. In case you don’t here’s the low down.
Basically, kits were specializations for each class. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, TSR did go kind of overboard with kits for every class and some of them were overpowered while others were just plain meh. What I’m thinking here is something much more simple and expands on the idea of sub-classes.
First, we start with the four basic classes; Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User and Thief. Then we apply the “kit” concept to make the “Advanced” classes. Now, I did talk about something similar in one of the early episodes of Playing It Wrong where I talked about Class Vs Job. And I guess this expands on this concept. To apply this, it’s a game of give and take. The base class has to lose something in order to gain some other special ability.
Let’s look at the Fighter. OK, the class as written is pretty boring. Most hit points. Best Armor and best To-Progression. That’s it. Most retroclones and some house rules give the Fighter something extra beyond the fore mentioned. For my games, I use the “Chop While Drop” rule and the “Shattered Shield” rules as extras for the fighter. So for the Fighter kits, the character losses those two abilities. For Kits, we’ll start off with the two most common. Ranger and Paladin.
Rangers are know for Tracking, Survival, being a badass (in the old school games), some spell casting at high level, and doing extra damage to some foes. For this exercise, we’ll focus on the Tracking/Survival and extra damage. Let’s give the Ranger a new “skill” called Hunter and it’s rated at 4 in 6. Use this for tracking, foraging, and even stealth check’s if you want. Then like some versions, then they also get a damage bonus equal to half their level against goblinoids. And there you go.
I’m not going through every class in this post. This is just a sample/proof of concept for the idea. What do you think?