Category Archives: Classes

Forgotten Tales of Sword & sorcery: Wanderers

Last time it was the Warriors and combat. This time, I talk about Wanderers and skills.
The Wanderer replaces the Thief class in many aspects. It’s the so-called Skill Monkey class. As I look at so many Sword and Sorcery characters, they often have a wide range of abilities and skills. There’s not such an implied niche for what a character can do. So many of those things that were considered things that just the Thief did, are things that any character can try. Anybody can back stab with bonuses, anybody can check for traps or try to open locks.
The system for this is pretty simple. You’ve probably noticed that each of the pre-gens has a check next to each Attribute (x in d6). The GM picks the appropriate Ability for the task and the player rolls for success. Pretty easy. You may have also noticed that the Checks don’t seem consistent. That’s because a character’s Checks improve based on their level and class.
But some characters are better at certain things than other characters. That’s where the Specializations come in. Specializations, as you can see on the examples, aren’t specific skills but much broader categories of knowledge and abilities. You might think of them as careers or professions.
Specializations work very simply. When a character attempts a task and fails their initial roll, if they have an appropriate Specialization then they can re-roll the Check but with a 2 in d6 chance for success. This gives them an edge over other characters but still keeps the probabilities on a more heroic rather than super heroic scale. It’s simple and flexible.
So how are Wanderers the Skill Monkeys? First, each character gains one Specialization plus more based on their Intelligence score. Wanderers gain an additional Specialization at 1st level and are the only class that gains more Specializations as they advance in level. Forgotten Tales doesn’t take an approach where characters achieve “mythic” or “epic” skill levels. Instead, a character can have a broad range of abilities which when used imaginatively create that heroic feel.

NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.

First Preview: Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery

My thoughts on doing these previews is to show some pre-generated characters at various levels and then highlight any relevant changes. So first up are a pair of Warriors; Cain the Slayer and Anya the Red. Yes, they may seem familiar. There are three classes for Forgotten Tales of Sword and Sorcery; The Warrior which is basically the Fighter, The Wanderer which is like a Thief/Rogue/Skill Monkey, and the Sorcerer which is the magic using class.

There’s a couple of things I want to highlight with this preview. First is Weapons & Armor. Like in the original White Box, all weapons do 1d6. We took that one step further and all Armor provides a -2[+2] bonus to AC. Not only does that keep the overall tone of the original edition, it also makes damage and Armor Class more a function of the character rather than the equipment. There aren’t magic shops and +1 weapons and armor readily available. Magic items are very rare and will often have unfortunate side effects. And since this all about Sword & Sorcery based around comics and B movies. Nobody wears practical armor.

Which leads us to Combat Bonus. This replaces the standard Attack Bonus. It’s used as an Attack Bonus and a bonus to AC. It also provides a bonus to Damage for Warriors.

NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.

Skills Revisited

The Swords & Wizardry game is going well and as you may remember I did a whole home brewed skill system. But when the dice met the table, I wasn’t that happy with it. The characters just felt too incompetent at low level. The math seemed to work but like I said I wasn’t totally happy with it. So I brainstormed a little more and came up with a little tweak to it. And you know I love tweaking rules.
The system remains basically unchanged. See the Attack Save Cheat Sheet. The only differences are how the skills bonuses are figured and reduce the Skill “Save” by two.
NOTE: What I’ve been doing for monsters and NPC’s is that if it was “good” at something then there’s advantage on the roll, if they were “bad” at then disadvantage. You know like 5E. Remember, one of the axioms of old-school gaming. Monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. So for the player characters:

Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performance.
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, Haggling, Diplomacy.
Healing (WIS & DEX): Treating Wounds, Diagnosis.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting Secret Doors, Avoiding Surprise, Searching, Detecting Lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Building Things, Locks & Traps, Anything Mechanical
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Deception, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving Quietly, Hiding, Blending Into The Crowd.
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. Foraging
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore

A character gains +1 to the starting score if either of the linked Attributes below are above 13. The starting score is further modified by Race and class as below (This part has remained basically unchanged):

Class Bonuses:
Assassin: +2 to three of the following Appeal, Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, Tinker. +2 to any skill check involving poison.*
Cleric: +1 Wits or Healing
Druid: +1 to any skill check involving Nature if WIS above 13.*
Fighter: +1 to two of the following: Athletics, Survival, or Instinct.
Magic-User: +2 to any skill roll related to magic and arcane lore.*
Monk: +1 to Athletics, Instinct, and Stealth.
Paladin: +2 Bonus to any skill check pertaining to Demons and Undead.*
Ranger: +2 Instinct or Survival, gain +1 in the other. Also, +1 to Athletics and Stealth.
Thief: +3 to three of the following: Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, or Tinker. +1 to the others.

Racial Bonuses (Yes, I’m using more races in home game but this gets you started):
All player characters gain +1 to skills of choice.
Humans: +1 to three skills of choice.
Elf: +1 Wits or Instinct.
Dwarf: +2 to any skill roll involving Stonework.*
Half-Elf: +1 Allure or Banter.
Half-Orc: +1 Athletics or Survival.

*These are not bonuses to a specific skill, only a bonus to a skill under the right conditions.

Skill Checks:
Roll a d20 add the skill modifier.

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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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