Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hack: An Overview of the Classes

These are the classes I am thinking of for my hack. You'll see some familiar ideas here. Note that in my system, you are required to have a minimum of a 9 (+0) modifier and a 13 (+1 modifier) in order to have a playable character in a standard campaign. Increase those numbers to 13 (+1) and 16 (+2) respectively for a high-powered epic.



INT-Spell Matrix





Eldritch Knights










You'll notice that each class has a pattern.
STR based subtype: The most melee capable. Expected to be able to give and recieve punishment up close and personal, they guard weaker party members. Has the capability to wear heavier armor and carry a wide variety of weapons without being encumbered. In order to contribute to the game world, STR-types are often builders. They tend to establish strongholds. Additionally, they tend to be drawn to memorable and unique magic arms and armor.
DEX based subtype: The most mobile. Often highly tactical and reliant on positioning to be most effective. These mobile traveling types contribute to the game world by knowing -- whether it be through a Swashbuckler's contacts, an arcanist's research/divinations, or a Monk's time in the library, these characters are likely to know something useful.
CHA based subtype: The most team-oriented. Contributes through others, whether those others be men-at-arms, familiars/conjured creatures, or teammates. Contributes to the game world by fleshing out NPC followers.

The fighting man is a stout warrior who excels in combat with weapons. CON directly effects durability, so all fighting men are capable of taking significant punishment. They tend to be effective all day long and have fewer resources to manage than other types. All fighting men fall into one of three sub-classes. They must meet both ability score requirements.

The primary mechanic used by Fighting Men is the D20 linear to-hit roll (or, in simple games, a D6 linear roll). That is, a Fighting Man usually rolls a D20, applies modifiers, and hopes for a high result.

Warriors (Req't: 13 STR)
Warriors are strong, stout combatants who favor the "German" school of Swordsmanship. That is, they hit hard while keeping it simple and offensively focused.

Swashbucklers (Req't: 13 DEX)
Swashbucklers are nimble, dashing, and quick. They favor the "Italian" school of Swordsmanship, putting an emphasis on the defense and mobility.

Skalds (Req't: 13 CHA)
Skalds are leaders of men. They are acceptable fighters in their own right, but their true strength lies in organizing and inspiring others to achieve great things.

The magic-user is a cunning strategist who employs a variety of magic to achieve his or her goals. INT directly effects magical Power Words known, so Magic-Users all tend to have a wide variety of spells at their finger tips. One of the challenges of being a magic-user is facing limited resources; magic-users have only so many spells per adventure and must ration their use carefully. Like fighting-men, magic-users all fall into one of three sub-classes and must meet both ability requirements.

The Magic-User's core mechanic is the Spell Matrix. The magic-user "weaves" a spell using a D6 dice pool based system. This is the most complicated mechanic in my ODnD variant but allows for more flexibility and creativity.

The Eldritch Knight (Req't: 13 STR)
Eldritch Knights choose to blend arcane and physical might into a unique and potent fighting style. Lacking some of the straightforward capability of Warriors, Eldritch Knights are nonetheless capable on the front lines. They tend to employ magical attacks with pin-prick accuracy instead of using brute force like a Warrior might or blind faith like a Paladin.

The Wizard (Req't: 13 DEX)
Wizards are traditional arcanists who use a variety of magic to achieve their ends. While they are usually physically frail, wizards make up for it with their versatility and effectiveness in arcane combat.

The Beguiler (Req't: 13 CHA)
Beguilers model witches, sorcerers, illusionists, and other such twisters of minds and reality. Often accompanied by a familiar, conjured servant, or brainwashed flunky, Beguilers work best by manipulating others.

Clerics are devoted to their faith; channelers of the divine and keepers of the holy of holies. Wisdom is helpful when dealing with fateful situations, making clerics handy in a pinch. Clerics are particularly effective against certain types of enemy. They are versatile and have more resources to manage than a fighting man, but fewer than a magic-user.

Clerics often use a 2d6 core mechanic similar to the old-school Turn Undead rules.

The Paladin (Req't: 13 STR)
Justiciars on a quest to destroy their patron's foes, Paladins are heavily armed and and armored.

The Monk (Req't: 13 DEX)
Monks are ascetics who seek to perfect themselves physically and mentally. They tend to favor agility over brute force.

The Priest (Req't: 13 CHA)
Priests are holy men who focus on protecting and restoring their flock. They call upon angelic messengers for aid and often gather crusaders to help them confront challenges.

A note on balanced groups

A "balanced" group should ideally have one of each sub-class type and one of each class. The "stereotypical" group consisting of a Warrior, Wizard, and Priest will be highly effective and versatile. A group consisting of a Skald, an Eldritch Knight, and a Monk would likewise be highly versatile.

However, so long as you have a good mix of classes and/or sub-classes, things should be ok, especially if the group can play to their strengths. That is, you could have a Warrior, a Paladin, and an Eldritch Knight (all three melee-capable adventurers, capable of dealing with hand to hand combat quite effectively); or a Warrior, Swashbuckler, and Skald (three durable adventurers capable of persevering through particularly long adventures); or some similar combination.

Indeed, this makes for interesting campaign possibilities; the DM might only allow Fighting-Men (a Company), or only Magic-Users (a Cabal), or only Clerics (a Crusade), and the game should still be viable.

Who Gets Left Out?

Rangers are not explicitly mentioned. However, I think they can be modeled well enough as paladins/crusaders (if you want to focus on their efficacy against a chosen foe) or warriors/swashbucklers.

Thieves are not really mentioned either. However, Swashbucklers more than fill the void. Assassins are left out but they are warriors or swashbucklers as well.

Druids are not explicitly mentioned, but I think a Neutral-aligned cleric with special interest in the Natural/Animal sphere would do just fine in that niche.

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