Category Archives: Classes

White Box Wednesday: Class Act

I played around with a rules hack for White Box last week. I’m still playing around with it. No idea where I’m going to end up on it. Let’s see where my craziness takes me. But I started thinking about classes.

Sure you can have plenty of fun with the basic four classes. I’ve even advocated that you really don’t need a class for every possible variant of the basic four because that’s what they end up being. One of the basic classes plus some special other ability and sometimes they have some sort of limitation.

But it’s still nice to have a way to customized that a character just a little bit more without an overpowering or burdensome system. Right now, I’m running franken-game and it’s going pretty well. I’ve stitched together a whole bunch of stuff and I’ve kicked in a couple other ideas that crawled out of my head. So as I was thinking about extra classes and customization for a White Box game, I realized that I had the start of an idea in my own house rules. You want those extra little tricks or benefits. It will cost you. XP.

Right now, I’m using a simplified XP system. Characters get 3 to 5 XP per session. It’s quite arbitrary based on how much they got done, how much fun was had, how many challenges they faced, etc. It takes 15 XP to level up. But if you want something special it costs you 7 XP or about half a level. So why don’t players just stack up on special abilities? They lose those XP and it will take the character longer to level up and that means fewer HP.

Right now, I’m just kicking around ideas to throw into my White Box hack. I also need to come up some sort of cool name for it.

So what you do think?

Fighters Are Skill Based Characters too

Here I go being crazy again. You’ve probably heard that saying that Thieves are skill based characters. Well, I want to add Fighters as skill based characters. It’s just that their skill is fighting.

Just hear me out. In most games, the Fighter just get better at hitting things. You could say that the higher Hit Die simulates an extra ability to parry or get out of the way. You could also that their proficiency with all armor and weapons gives them that extra edge. But not really. Most actual bumps to the character’s combat effectiveness come from magical gear and not any skill on the character’s part.

Yes, a player can be creative about the use of tactics but that same player with a different class character would probably be using roughly the approach no matter what class they are playing. This isn’t about player skill, it’s about character skill. And a bit of an approach to that age old problem of linear fighters and quadratic wizards.

I’ve played around with various systems and looked at rules from various games. And, well, I’m still playing around and looking. Here’s what I’m using currently in my home game:

Prowess: The character uses their action to maneuver and assess the battle and opponents to their advantage. Decide if the character is attempting to gain a bonus to Attack, AC, or Damage then roll 1d6. If the result is 1 to 3 then gain the number rolled as a bonus for 1d4 rounds. If the result is 4 to 6 then character couldn’t gain any advantage or find any openings.

It’s simple and it’s old school. Sure it doesn’t cover all those nifty combat maneuvers like disarming or feinting but I can work on that later and sort of milk my players for ideas and inspiration.

Thanks again for stopping by the blog. And roll dice. Kill monsters. And take their stuff. And have fun doing it.

What the heck is YARC?

I’ve been posting about YARC a lot so I figured I should make this Sticky Post to explain what the heck it is.

First, it’s a neat little acronym: Yet Another Retroclone. And it’s a little call back to “Bree Yark!” Google it. It started years ago as a little side project to put together different parts of various retroclones that I thought were cool but it’s evolved over the years.

YARC is now my own fantasy heart breaker, garbage punk rock, basement dweller Franken-game. I figured why not? Grab whatever mechanics that I liked from whatever game or whatever edition. Go ahead slay a couple of those sacred cows and mold it into what I and, hopefully, my players will enjoy. Astute readers will see the DNA of various ideas and concepts pop in there.

It’s very much an attempt to make play fast, efficient, and fun! And it’s very much a living project. I don’t think that it will ever be “done”. New rules and ideas pop up all the time. Things that might have worked get replaced with other things. And sometimes. Things just don’t work.

So hang on and have some fun. Roll the dice. Kill the monsters. And laugh.

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.