Category Archives: Classes

YARC-Rogues & Skills

I spent a bunch of time this last week thinking about how to do skills for my little heart breaker and a couple of things popped into my head.

First, I realized that this whole project is starting to branch into two development trees; old-school based influenced by Fifth Edition, and Fifth Edition based but influenced by old-school games. This all started to come together with last week’s Let’s Go Crazy post.

First, yes, I’m running with Rogue rather than Thief. I just feel it’s got a broader definition than Thief. Second, I’m gathering a bunch of inspiration from Lamentations of the Flame Princess’ Specialist.

Skills need to broad but not vague and need to hit a sweet spot. Most “common” actions would be done with Ability checks. Things like jumping, climbing, searching, and fast talk. Class specific knowledge might or might not need a roll, depending what’s going on. So here’s my initial skill list:

  • Healing: Treating Wounds, diagnosis, herbalism
  • Monster Lore: Creatures and stuff.
  • Profession: Specific knowledge choose something when taken.
  • Languages: Decipher script, number of languages. 0 is illiterate.
  • Stealth: Moving Quietly, Hiding, Blending Into The Crowd.
  • Survival: Tracking. Foraging
  • Thievery: Picking Pockets, Locks & Traps, Sleight of Hand

Yeah. It’s a very short list.

So how am I going to handle Skill in the 5E world? Taking a page from 5E Hardcore Mode and little from my own previous thoughts. First, there’s no set attribute modifier that modifies a skill. It all just depends on what exactly the character is attempting. For example, Can I eat this plant? Roll Survival (Int). Can I skin this animal? Roll Survival (Dex). What about unskilled? Sure you can try. For that I’m going to streamline from Hardcore Mode. Just roll a d20 at Disadvantage. No attribute modifier at all. As far as progression goes, well, just do that pretty much the normal way.

For the old-school, it’s the good old x in d6 vibe similar to Lamentations of the Flame Princess. But taking a step further. X in d6 is for average difficulty. To adjust for more difficult tasks, increase the die type. So if a task is really hard instead of X in d6, it’d be x in d12. Now for progression under this there’s an idea that’s bounced around my head for a long time. Random class based skill points. So since the Rogue is the skill monkey. They get the best die. Probably a d8 while other classes would get a d4 or d6. Points can be saved from level to level. And any skill can only be improved by one per level. However, it’s not a 1 for 1 point buy. It takes the Skill Rating to go up one. So to go from 3 to 4, it costs 3 points. Like LOTFP, most skills would start off at 1 but in a case like Languages then going from 0 to 1 would cost 4.

Of course, Rogues are going to get other class tricks like sneak attack and better chances at certain checks. Plus a few other things as they pop into my head.

And in case you’re coming into these rants, mid-way through, these are my high level thoughts on the basic design. The nuts and bolt will coming later.

Keep rolling those dice and having fun!

YARC: Magic Users

Time for another class for my own little old-school heart breaker. And as before these are just the design notes and a final draft will be forth coming.

One of my goals is to make YARC quick and easy. So I dug into how spells are allocated and cast. So here we go.

Starting Number of Spells: Int Mod+2.

There’s no “memorization”. If a magic-user knows a spell then they can cast it. But they still use spell books. They are constantly scribbling down notes and observations about magic. So they still spend an equivalent amount of time on their spell books. I used 10 minutes/highest level spell known.

Spell Quirks! I’m bring this one back when I used it before the player’s loved it. So refer to this old post.

Highest Level Spell Known/Castable: 1/2 Level rounded up. This keeps to the basic, normal spell progression.

Spells per Day: OK. This is where it gets a little weird. Int Mod+ Level. That’s how many spells the Magic-User can cast each day. The specific level of each spell doesn’t matter.

I basically used this system in my last Swords & Wizardry game and the players enjoyed. It was fun with the Spell Quirks and kept down a lot of time bookkeeping.

Now, I’m going to credit where credit is due. The Spell Quirks were inspired by the Mercurial Magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics. The spells per day was inspired by the Far Away Land OSR rules.

Clerics for Barbaric!

Yes, things are crazy and I’m way behind especially on writing up some stuff for Barbaric! I’ve got an adventure, a setting and another little surprise in the works. But for this post I want to talk a little about Clerics.

Barbaric! is a solid sword & sorcery game. But since many come from the world of d20’s, they’ll notice there’s no equivalent to clerics. There’s just magic. Sure it does the same things but it’s all cast into the same bucket. This is perfectly fine depending on your setting and what tone the GM wants in the game.

There’s a couple of ways that I’ve thought of that you could do this. First, there’s the easy way. Just divide up to the spell list. These spells are for clerics and the others for sorcerers/magic-users. How exactly you break that list down once again will depend on the specific world.

The second method that I thought is via “Blessings”. “Blessings” are just traits. The GM will still make a list dependent on the setting/gods/pantheon. Each “spell” is a separate Blessing, for example, there would be a Respite Blessing and a Convalescence Blessing and so on through the spell list. Each Blessing retains the same TN to cast as the respective spell but the caster/cleric would make a Lore Check. To give this idea an even more different feel, don’t use the Spell Mishaps. Instead, each failure incurs a cumulative – 1 DM on further attempts until the character’s total roll is a 2 or less. Then the character cannot cast/pray for any further Blessings that day. The character’s casting DM is reset after 8 hours of rest+1 hour of prayer/meditation per -1 DM. So a -2 DM would take two hours of prayer.

Yes, I know this a bare bones post. It’s an idea for GM’s to run with use how they see fit for their campaign and setting. Of course, you can also use a similar system for cultists or druids. Enjoy!

Xoth, Not Forgotten

It’s been way too long since I wrote anything about Xoth and it’s coming back to my mind with a vengeance. In case you’ve been keeping up, I’m trying to get the old gaming group back together.

I’ll admit that I have nothing against the Standard D&D type game and I can even tolerate the Cantina Scene type parties. But then there’s times when I want to go all Swords & Sorcery. For me, that means Conan and Robert E Howard. So it’s back to Xoth as one of my pitches.

I had picked some of the stuff way back when during the days of Pathfinder 1St Edition. Sure I played Pathfinder but I never would want to run it. But I liked the writing and changes so much that it always stayed in the back of mind.

This gets me to where we are today. I was searching the Internets and lo, there’s a 5E Player’s Guide for Xoth. Now this could be interesting and it is. This takes the 5E rules and makes them perfectly friendly to a grimmer more down to earth type of campaign.

Let me break the basics down for you. First, Races & Classes. It’s all human but there’s still various “cultures” that replace the mechanics of Race. There’s the Savage, Civilized, Enlightened, Decadent, and Degenerate. Each gets a stat boost and some neat skill-boosts/tricks. But each as a disadvantage. And their pretty big disadvantages. Like the Savage. +2 Strength, +1 AC, Advantage on Perception Checks. Cool right? Oh wait. You also take disadvantage on attack rolls against aberrations, undead, and fiends. It’s a cool tweak.

Then there’s classes. Of course, all of the classes aren’t allowed because they just don’t fit the setting. So, there’s no Bards, Clerics, Paladins, Wizards, and Sorcerers. The remaining have some tweaks. No archetypes that have any magical or “super” abilities. No Eldritch Knights or Arcane Tricksters. Rangers don’t have spells but they get some other tricks. And the Druid and Warlock have some additional tweaks to them. And there’s three new classes: Conqueror (sort of the Paladin replacement), Cultist (as close as you’re going to get to a cleric), and Courtesan (Bard/Social class).

And of course there some rules tweaks on spells, magic items, healing and combat. All of it giving the campaign that Howard type feel. Oh and the best part the Players Guide to Xoth is free. Available on Xoth.net and DrivethruRPG. Note: On DrivethruRPG, you’ll have to login since it’s behind the adult filter because there be boobies.

If you want a more detailed review you can check this one out.

So back to what I might do with this. Of course, I could just use it with 5E. It’s the RPG that most of the players are familiar with. But then I’m a crazy OSR guy. So I can pull up Swords & Wizardry, Crypts & Things, or even my own Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery and run with that. Sure I’ll do some tweaking and house rules and all of those rules are kissing cousins. But since I’ve got a bunch of Pathfinder and now 5E stuff, it’s really easy to convert that material into an old school game. But then Barbaric! is another of my newly found favorites. Sure it’s easy on the rules crunch and character generation but conversion will take some doing.

What’s actually going to happen? I dunno. But I’ll keep posting about it here and we’ll see what happens.

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.