Category Archives: Classes

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:

Skills
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.

Like this post or others? Then check out the They Might Be Gazebos Patreon.

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.

Like this post or others? Then please consider the They Might Be Gazebos Patreon.

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.

Like this post or others? Then please consider the They Might Be Gazebos Patreon.

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.

If you liked this post or others then please visit the Patreon.

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.