Sunday, August 3, 2014

Character Classes in Man, Myth & Magic (part I)

Art by Angus McBride

For random determination of characteristics, many role-playing games use a method that reflects normal distribution; Man, Myth & Magic does not.  As said previously, characteristic scores are determined by rolling percentile dice.  All results are equally common; there is no tendency for a value to be near the middle of a range.  Thus, a player character has the same chance to have an unfortunately low score as an ostensibly 'average' score.  (Even in Rolemaster players:  assign scores as wanted, re-roll anything under 20, and can adjust prime requisites.)  According to Book III, a Tyrannosaurus rex has a 25 Intelligence.  This isn't relative Intelligence, this is Intelligence “on a human scale.”  This means that when generating characters according to the rules, one-out-of-four characters will be no smarter than a dinosaur.

The ten nationalities available for AD 41 era MM&M characters are:  African, Briton, Egyptian, Gaul, Greek, Hebrew, Hibernian, Visigoth, Roman, and Oriental.  For 1375 BC era characters, only the African, Egyptian, and Hebrew nationalities are retained, but the following are added:  Babylonian, Hittite, Minoan, Philistine, and Sumerian.  Each nationality is associated with at least two classes.  As I mentioned before, determination of nationality and class is random.  Nationality may be rerolled only when a previous incarnation of the character was of the rolled nationality.  Class can be rerolled, but the second roll is final.

Here are charts showing the various classes for each nationality.

Each class has a “prime ability” which indicates the use to which the character's SKILL may be applied.  For instance, the Anakim, Barbarian, Centurion, Gladiator, Warrior, Weapon Master, and Weirding Fighter classes all have 'combat' as their prime ability.

All nationalities have a Merchant class (“the most broadly based of all character classes”), the prime ability for which is 'wealth increase'.  This means that the value of the character's treasure is modified based on Skill and Intelligence.  For every twenty points (or fraction thereof) of Skill over fifty, value is increased by 10% (or 15% for Hebrew Merchants); however, for every twenty points (or fraction thereof) of Skill under fifty, value is decreased by 5% (except Hebrew Merchants do not suffer this penalty).  For every twenty points (or fraction thereof) of Intelligence over fifty, value is increased by 5%.  In game terms, the only differences among the Merchant classes of the different nationalities (other than Hebrew) are their permitted weapons and armor.

Most nationalities have a Warrior class.  In addition to their permitted weapons and armor, each nation's Warrior class is made distinctive by special abilities.
African:  In tropical environments, +5 to hit and +10 damage; however, in Arctic conditions, the modifiers are -5 to hit and -10 damage.
Babylonian:  When fighting in a city, +5 to hit.  (technically, -5 THN)
Briton:  “Gains a +5 on damage if body and face are stained blue with woad.”
Egyptian:  In desert environments, +6 to hit and damage.  When using a bow, +5 to hit and damage.
Greek:  Via deception, has a 31% chance of gaining first strike in combat regardless of First Strike Capacity.
Hebrew:  When fighting alongside a Hebrew Priest, +5 to hit and +10 damage.  “On a roll of 85 or better...will feel compelled to offer food to an opponent.”  This means the Hebrew Warrior will not have first strike, regardless of First Strike Capacity.
Hibernian:  When fighting in the rain, +5 to hit and +10 damage; there are no negative modifiers for “fighting in fog or mist.”  Once per segment, Hibernian Warriors can heal their own wounds.  For every one POWER spent, three Life Points are regained.  When taunted, there is a 50% chance that a Hibernian Warrior will attack.
Hittite and Sumerian:  Can fight from a chariot without penalty.
Minoan:  When “fighting at sea or on board a boat,” +5 to hit.  (technically, -5 THN)

Of course, combat classes that aren't Warriors also have distinctions.  Gallic Barbarians receive +10 Courage (not to exceed 100).  Visigoth Barbarians get +10 Courage and Strength; additionally, when at least three are fighting together, they have +5 to hit and +10 damage. Philistine Anakim use a special table for determining hight and weight.  Opponents must succeed with a Courage roll to gain first strike, regardless of First Strike Capacity; however, Anakim may not use magical artifacts.  “Roman Centurions are entitled to hire and lead up to 100 mercenaries.”  A Centurion in combat may spend 10 POWER to make a percentile roll.  With a result of 26 - 60, allies receive +5 to hit and damage for the remainder of the combat; if the result is over 60, the modifier is +10.  Roman Gladiators get +5 to Courage, Skill, Speed, and Strength characteristics.  They never suffer combat penalties but they must fight (at least) once in the Arena between adventures.  The THN of a Hittite Weapon Master can never exceed 45.  Weapon Masters can train other characters how to use weapons they would not normally be allowed to use.  Finally, Oriental Weirding Fighters receive +10 to Speed and Endurance.  Bare hand damage is at +15, “while kicks with his feet strike at +25 damage.”  At a cost of 10 POWER, a Weirding Fighter can paralyze an opponent long enough to attack him twice; this is accomplished by ch'i energy.

The Astrologer, Seer, Soothsayer, Sybil, and Zen Lama classes all have “psychic” as their prime ability.  This means that – by spending POWER – they have access to the following eleven psychic talents.
Body Blow:  Automatically inflict damage on any one human within ten feet of the character; damage equals POWER spent.
Glimpse:  The character gains vague information about a distant or future event.
Hunch:  The character can “determine if a given course of action will prove dangerous or beneficial.”
Illusions:  By means of “mass hypnosis,” 1 - 100 humans see something that doesn't actually exist.  Someone not subject to the illusion can convince someone who is subject that the illusion is not real; however, the subject character must have at least 50 Intelligence.
Mind Reading:  The character can determine the main concern of any one person within twenty feet.
Tulpa Creation:  The character can “create an illusionary human or animal” that will act independently for one segment.  (rabbit hole)
Teleport:  The character can “mentally transport any inanimate object through any non-magical barrier.”
Telepathy:  The character can transmit information (in the form of words) “to any willing subject over any distance.”
Demoralize:  Once per turn, any one character within twenty feet must succeed with a 'courage check' or else flee.
Mirror Image:  The character can create a number of illusionary duplicates.
Empathy:  By handling an object, the character can determine what its owner was feeling when last in contact with the object.

Astrologers have a chance of identifying “the use of any artifact.”  On a clear night, they can study the stars to “predict whether a given course of action will prove harmful or beneficial.”  This is like the 'hunch' talent (above), only without the POWER cost.  Of course, Astrologers can devise horoscopes to obtain the answers to three yes/no questions “regarding the future of certain propositions.”

Hittite Seers must dance until exhausted (losing 20 Life Points) once per week.  They can commune with birds.  Perhaps more importantly, the Seer can engage in “Healing Empathy.”  Essentially, this allows the Seer to restore an injured character's Life Points by transferring his or her own Life Points.

The Soothsayer class has the ability of prophecy.  If used, the Lore Master must provide “a short, obscure rhyming prophecy pertaining to dangerous or unpleasant aspects of the current situation or...the next danger or unpleasantness the party is likely to encounter.”  However, when this ability is used, there is a 6% chance that the character “will lose the prophetic ability for three segments.”  Another ability of this class is a 31% chance of repelling “any chosen character” to a distance of fifty feet.

The Sybil is one of two MM&M classes that require the character to be female.  Each segment, there is a 2% chance that a Sybil will fall into a trance for an unknown length of time.  The Sybil has a 'prophecy' ability like the Soothsayer; however, unlike the Soothsayer, the Sybil's 'prophecy' must be about the current situation.  Also, a Sybil can 'infatuate' any one male at a chance of 41% (or 6% against Leprechauns).

A Zen Lama has +50 Endurance (not to exceed 100) by virtue of lung-gom-pa and has +10 to hit and damage in freezing conditions as a result of “tumo.”  The special ability of this class is “The Glance of Death.”  Once per segment, the character has a 6% chance of causing the instant death of any one opponent by scrambling his/her/its brain waves.

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