Sunday, July 1, 2012

Character Classes in High Fantasy

A player character in High Fantasy can belong to one of four main classes: Warrior, Wizard, Animal Handler, or Alchemist. Characters of each class – other than Warrior – have a randomly determined “Innate Ability” score that represents the chance of success of performing class related tasks. For instance, Wizards use Innate Ability to cast spells, Animal Handlers use it to train animals, and Alchemists use it to analyze and duplicate potions.

If I could go back in time and influence development of the game, I would have liked for Warriors to have an Innate Ability. It could be used to perform special maneuvers or avoid the effects of critical hits or something along those lines. Otherwise, Warriors aren't very interesting. They get a bonus in using a certain type of weapon; every few levels, the bonus increases and they select another weapon. At higher levels, they can train troops and build fortifications.

If I'm going back in time anyway, I may as well address the method of determining Innate Ability. Per the rules, starting Innate Ability is a percentile roll +1. So a starting Wizard could have a 2% chance of successfully casting a spell. There ought to be three rolls for Innate Ability, with the highest and lowest rolls being excluded.

I won't dwell on the Wizard class in this post. Magic in High Fantasy needs more than one post.

As the reader might suspect, “Animal Masters may train creatures...” In order for a creature to be trained, it must first be subdued. There are three ways in which a creature may be subdued. (1) Attack the creature until it is stunned, then heal it. (2) Use a net. (3) “[A]sk the wizard in the party to please cast a binding spell.” (I suppose a sleep spell would also work.) Interestingly, all creatures in High Fantasy can theoretically be trained. A creature's 'Difficulty Factor' is subtracted from the Animal Master's Innate Ability to determine the chance that the creature may be trained. Most 'real' animals (such as lions) have a Difficulty Factor (DF) of zero, meaning no modification to the Animal Master's roll. A Hobgoblin (DF 50) is slightly harder to train than a Tyrannosaurus Rex (DF 40). A Balro* (DF 120) is rather difficult to train, but nowhere near as intransigent as a Valkyrie (DF 190).

An Alchemist “is automatically assumed to have in his possession a small wooden case...” The case contains a supply of chemicals with which the Alchemist can perform his (or her) class abilities. These chemicals “are made up of various minerals and herbs easily attainable in wooded areas.” As indicated above, Alchemists can analyze and “duplicate” potions. Potions, in High Fantasy, are not magical but can have effects identical to magic. Alchemists can also formulate poisons and antidotes. Lastly, only Alchemists can create the High Fantasy version of gunpowder. Only Alchemists can use gunpowder weapons. Every beginning Alchemists has an arquebus, but Alchemists can upgrade to more advanced firearms upon reaching certain experience levels.

* See how they left off the 'g' to keep the lawyers at bay?


  1. Interesting.

    Balro, though, that just doesn't have the same ring to it. I would have suggested Ba'alraug or something

    1. I agree. Interestingly, "Hobbits" are described as a playable race. Go figure.