Sunday, 2 November 2014

D&D 5: Classes to Class Options

I mentioned yesterday that I'd been considering how one could roll all of the "advanced" (i.e. non-core-4) class options into the core-4. Having had a more detailed look into this, it seems trivially feasible and adds a lot of really nice options to the classes without greatly increasing complexity. Here we go:

Fighter
  • The ranger Hunter archetype can be applied directly to a fighter character, with no modifications.
  • The ranger Beast Master archetype can be applied directly to a fighter character, with no modifications. Note that the "share spells" feature (at 15th level) would only apply to spells cast upon the fighter or beast by another, as the fighter class has no spell-casting capabilities of its own.
  • The barbarian Berserker path could be applied to a fighter, with the addition of the "rage" feature (using the barbarian chart for uses per day).
  • The barbarian Totem Warrior path could be applied to a fighter, with the addition of the "rage" feature (using the barbarian chart for uses per day).
  • The paladin Oath of Devotion can be taken by a fighter character. The character gains the "channel divinity" feature (under "sacred oath"). Each oath spell may be cast once per day.
  • The paladin Oath of the Ancients can be taken by a fighter character. The character gains the "channel divinity" feature (under "sacred oath"). Each oath spell may be cast once per day.
  • The paladin Oath of Vengeance can be taken by a fighter character. The character gains the "channel divinity" feature (under "sacred oath"). Each oath spell may be cast once per day.
I must say, I really like the idea of a normal fighting man being able to take a religious oath under this framework. I'd consider using this instead of the cleric class altogether, in a suitable campaign.


Rogue
  • The bard College of Lore can be applied to a rogue by adding the concept of inspiration dice (but not the full "bardic inspiration" feature), using the arcane trickster spell advancement table and the bard spell list. The bard's "magical secrets" feature could be added too.
  • The bard College of Valor can be applied to a rogue by adding the concept of inspiration dice (but not the full "bardic inspiration" feature), using the arcane trickster spell advancement table and the bard spell list. The bard's "song of rest" feature could be added too.
  • One could also consider allowing rogues to take the ranger's Hunter archetype, though I feel it fits much better as a fighter option.
Wizard
  • The warlock's Archfey Patron can be applied to a wizard, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The warlock's Fiend Patron can be applied to a wizard, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The warlock's Great Old One Patron can be applied to a wizard, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The sorcerer's Draconic Bloodline option can be applied to a wizard. The "elemental affinity" and "draconic presence" features both recharge after a long rest (no sorcery points). (Presumably, the character is a specialist in the field of draconic magic.)
  • The sorcerer's Wild Magic option can be applied to a wizard, with no modifications. (Presumably, the character is a specialist in the field of wild magic.)
Cleric
I feel that the following options are a bit more campaign-specific, but might also work:
  • The warlock's Archfey Patron can be applied to a cleric, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The warlock's Fiend Patron can be applied to a cleric, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The warlock's Great Old One Patron can be applied to a cleric, with no modifications. The character also gains the "pact boon" feature at 3rd level.
  • The druid's Circle of the Land option can be applied to a cleric, with the addition of the "channel divinity: charm plants and animals" feature from the nature domain.
  • The druid's Circle of the Moon option can be applied to a cleric, with the addition of the "channel divinity: charm plants and animals" feature from the nature domain.
Note that I've not looked at the monk class yet, so can't comment on that.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

D&D 5: Class Prejudice

Following on from my recent thoughts on how I might use the full menagerie of D&D 5 races in a campaign, I've been giving some thought to the full complex of classes presented in the new PHB. As much as I might try to reconcile them all, my feeling remains grognardy on this one.

Barbarian: this is a culture, not a class. Especially with D&D 5's great system for character backgrounds, I find the choice of including such a class pretty questionable.
Bard: I'm not a knee-jerk bard-hater -- I used to like them in AD&D 2e -- but I just don't like the mechanics of the new one. The inspiration dice are just too abstract / disconnected for my taste. I also feel that a bard type character could easily be created as a rogue or wizard with the entertainer background.
Cleric: a nice 2e-ish implementation of the class. The way the divine domains are implemented is very well done. I don't use clerics in many campaigns, but I'd be happy to use this one.
Druid: also a decent version of this class. There's a lot of overlap starting to show here, however. How is a cleric of nature different to a druid? What's the difference between a ranger, a totem warrior barbarian, and a green knight paladin? There are too many nature-oriented, magical classes, with no clear distinction or connection between them. The description of the cleric's nature domain (p. 61) is an admittance of this. It just doesn't make any coherent sense to me. Purely on the topic of the druid class, though, I'd happily use it, in the right campaign setting.
Fighter: nice. Lots of simple options to give fighter characters different flavours.
Monk: the monk... yeah... super culturally specific, doesn't mesh at all with the rest of the classes, why was this class ever included in core rules? I guess it's just historical really (somehow Greyhawk or Arduin related, perhaps?). Anyway, I must confess that I've not even read this class yet in the new PHB. I can't imagine ever using it, except if I were to run some Asian inspired campaign. (Also, for me, like the barbarian "class", it's just way too culture-specific... can anyone seriously imagine a world with dragonborn, halfling, and gnome monks or barbarians? I'm afraid I can't. Well, not a world I'd like to run a campaign in, anyway.)
Paladin: I've never seen the point of the paladin class. The cleric is a holy warrior, right? No question. So what's a paladin? This version doesn't change my feeling. More vague overlap without clear differentiation or explanation.
Ranger: I like the flavour of a wilderness-oriented warrior a lot, but feel that this archetype can be modelled very nicely with a background (outlander, for example). I don't get the need for magic either, to be honest.
Rogue: again, thankfully, a nice implementation of this classic core-4 class. I'm very happy with the options and features presented.
Sorcerer: yeah... I just never understood the need to separate an intuitive wizard from a bookish wizard, mechanically. The mechanical differences themselves are so small that I would have just made this an option under the umbrella of the wizard class. And if you really want to go for the "bloodlines" thing, why not make some racial options? Sorcerer, no thanks.
Warlock: very nice flavour, but again I'd just make this an option for wizards. Doesn't seem like it needs to be a separate class, and the mechanical differences seem (to me) just kind of forced.
Wizard: a very nice version of this class! As someone who (obviously) loves wizards, I'm glad to say that I really like the 5e class. The approach to school specialists is great.

So, apart from the core-4 classes, the only ones which come anywhere near to desirable, in my mind are the druid and warlock. Luckily I like the core-4 classes a lot in 5e, so I'd be perfectly happy to run a campaign with just those.

I've also had some thoughts on taking the options from the non-core-4 classes and rolling them into the core-4. It seems like this would be perfectly possible... but that's a topic for another post.

Edit: I noticed that I'd totally forgotten to mention the monk class. Shows how far off my radar it is! Added above.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

D&D 5: Accepting All Races

Thinking about trying out D&D 5 as-is (i.e. without succumbing to the urge to massively house rule it before I've even played it once!), but I can't stomach the generic modern fantasy vibe. Here are some explanations which I find more palatable for all those races.

Dwarves: men from the Iron Planet who descend to Earth to trade metals.
Dragonborn: slaves spawned in the vats of wizards. All are male.
Tieflings: victims of the shadow plague, their appearance becomes more inhuman as the disease progresses. Eventually disappear into shadow and smoke.
Halflings: gibbering semi-sentients which stalk the wastes in search of living prey to sacrifice to their idols. Among nobles of the City, it is the height of fashion to rear a captive halfling as a pet, teaching it to mimic civilised, human behaviours.
Gnomes: space pirates from the asteroid belt. Sometimes fall to Earth in meteor storms.
Elves: the construction of homunculi was once the prime mode of magical endeavour in the City. Elves are homunculi gone rogue, evolved into beings of human stature over centuries spent lurking in the shadows.
Half-elves: elves can only reproduce with descendents of their creator. Who would mate with such a being?
Half-orcs: men whose souls have been consumed by the ravenous spirits of the wastelands (known as orcs). Their bodies warped and bestial, their minds torn between humanity and depravity.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Vivimantic Sale at RPGNow!

"Why let necromancers have all the fun?" -- indeed, especially at Halloween. Tis the season to get the vats brewing, splice up some genes, and warp some innocent flesh.

Thus: a sale on The Complete Vivimancer at RPGNow!

Sale prices
PDF: $3.99
Print: $6.99
Print + PDF: $9.99

Get it while it lasts!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wizardzine #1: Unleashed

Sorcerers, warlocks, witches, savants, and seers of all persuasions -- rejoice!

The tome known as Wizardzine #1 is upon us!

Behold:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product/138643/

The theme of this inaugural issue is the magic of the vast, landless oceans and the abyssal depths of the seas.
 
Perfect spice for anyone interested in running campaigns featuring subaquatic adventures, seafaring, island hopping, piracy, smuggling, or other forms of nautical derring-do.
 
Contains:
  • 30 new spells
  • 12 magical tomes
  • 5 new magic items
  • 3 new monsters
  • Detailed information on Ephenedrine the Sirene, oceanic sorceress
  • Appendices with tables for aquatic summoning and a complete sea wizard spell list.
Note: a print-on-demand version will be coming shortly, in a convenient A5 format.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Project Updates: Wizards, Vats, Elementalists, Dolmenwood

A quick progress update on the major projects which I have in the works.

I've just finalised the text for the first issue of Wizardzine. In the end, I made the decision to cut back the amount of content somewhat, in order to get this thing out of the door. I think I made the mistake, early on, of getting too carried away with reams of ideas and thinking that I should elaborate them all in a single issue. This isn't necessary -- there will be future issues and I already have about 40 pages of content, which is, I think, more than enough for an issue of a zine!

As for From the Vats, it's been lingering for quite some months but I'm pleased to say that I've started with the layout now. Shouldn't be too much longer! Thanks again, everyone, for your submissions.

With both of those things looking like they'll be leaving home soon to make their own way in the world, my list of ongoing projects is getting back down to more manageable levels. The Complete Elementalist remains bubbling away on the back burner -- I'm just adding ideas to it as and when they come, taking things slowly. I must say, though, I'm really pleased with what I have so far. My intention was always to create an elementalist class with its own special vibe (which I fail to find words to describe really, but which has always been clear in my imagination), avoiding the kind of "fifty different ways to kill people with fire" cliche. (See here for some of the new spells I have lined up for the book so far.)

Finally, the Dolmenwood project with Greg Gorgonmilk continues apace. As Greg mentioned recently, we're currently working on an initial publication which will contain player-oriented content for use with the setting (or, for that matter, in any other campaign where root vegetables are a viable sentient race and druid types have a penchant for human sacrifice). You can expect in the region of 6 to 10 classes, reams of background tables, plus loads of weird spells.

So, I think that's all of the main writing / publishing projects I have underway... Apart, naturally, from the dozens of seeds of things which may someday blossom.

Fight on!