Thursday, February 13, 2014

Customized Classes (part IV)

Art by Léon Bakst

Here are more classes designed via a system derived from the one presented by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh in Dragon 109 (May 1986).


The rakasta were introduced in The Isle of Dread:
The rakasta are a race of nomadic, cat-like humanoids.  They walk erect, much like humans, but are covered with soft, tawny fur and have feline heads and features.
In presenting them as a class, I decided to provide them with abilities typically associated with cats; hence three thief abilities and the feature of “feline senses” (mainly, a cat's ability to see in the dark).

Rakasta favor a weapon called “war claws,” inflicting 1-4 points of damage.  In terms of 'Weapons Allowed', I have included war claws as a distinct weapon type.  Without the war claws, rakasta can inflict 1-2 points of damage.  According to the Expert Rulebook (p. 25), this is the same amount of 'unarmed combat' damage inflicted by humans (and elves and dwarves and halflings).  However, unlike humans (and their ilk), rakasta have two claw attacks per round; they also have a bite attack (1-4 damage).  The 'additional attacks' cost covers a second claw attack as well as a bite.  Even so, I think it is appropriate for player character rakasta to suffer a -2 cumulative modifier per attack beyond the first in a round.  Additionally, I think a rakasta's armor class should be unfavorably modified by 1 during any round in which it chooses to bite.  Of course, if a rakasta elects to use a normal weapon, it is restricted to one attack per round.


Aranea were also introduced in The Isle of Dread:
Aranea are an intelligent giant spider race...The front limbs of an aranea are divided into flexible digits.  The aranea uses these to grasp prey and manipulate simple tools.
I felt the aranea should have the thief ability of 'Climb Walls'.

Aranea are web-spinners.  This is a useful ability and it would have a greater cost, but there is no evidence that aranea can produce webs so quickly for this ability to be useful in combat situations.  Naturally, aranea should be restricted regarding the amount of webs that they can produce.  Perhaps the equivalent of one wall of webs per day is an appropriate limit.

An aranea has only one (natural) attack; a bite that inflicts 1-6 points of damage.  Additionally, the bite is venomous, meaning a target must save vs. poison or die.  Such an attack may be worth more than what I indicated; however, just like with webs, there should be a limit to the amount of venom an aranea can generate.  Perhaps an aranea can generate enough venom per day for a number of bites equal to (Constitution + Level) / 3.

Most significantly, aranea are spell-casters; these are actual spells, not abilities that generate spell-like effects.  In fact, mention is made that “they spend much of their time in magic research.”  It seems to me that – in order to study and cast magic-user spells – aranea need spell books (or something very much like spell books).  Given their limited ability to use tools, I cannot imagine aranea creating spell books, nor can I imagine aranea easily obtaining spell books.  I think that aranea must weave and tie strands of web together in order to create magical documentation; something akin to quipo.  A 'read magic' spell should be sufficient for non-aranea spell-casters to decipher such a thing.

Beast Lord / Beast Lady

In Crabaugh's system, the Animal Trainer 'specialty' had a 30% cost and was evidently meant to represent the ability described for Animal Trainers in the 'Specialists and Mercenaries' section of the expert rules.  An Animal Trainer – as described in the rulebook – is limited to one type of animal; such a restriction is hardly appropriate for a player character.  Starting at first level and with each level thereafter, the Beast Lady/Lord chooses a type of animal about which she or he is knowledgeable (and can therefore train).  For the first few levels, the Beast Lady/Lord should be limited to types of animals that are commonly domesticated (e.g., dogs, horses, et al.).  Once the Beast Lady/Lord reaches sixth level (or thereabouts) she or he can start choosing more exotic animal types (e.g., reptiles, bears, hippogriffs, et al.)  Assuming the circumstances are not threatening, a Beast Lady/Lord can usually obtain a positive reaction from 'untamed' specimens of an animal type with which she or he is knowledgeable.  The information in the Animal Trainer description can be used as a rudimentary guide for the amount of time required for training.

A 'Beast Buddy' is a single animal of 2 Hit Dice or less that has an empathic connection to the Beast Lady/Lord; it is very much like a familiar, although the basic game does not provide rules for familiars.  For an animal, a Beast Buddy is uncommonly intelligent and loyal.  A Beast Lady/Lord starts the game with her or his Beast Buddy and does not need to train it.  (At the discretion of the DM, a Beast Lady/Lord might have two Beast Buddies of the same species with 1 Hit Die or less.)

In addition to a Beast Buddy, a Beast Lady/Lord can have “animal retainers.”  Although not as intelligent as a Beast Buddy and without an empathic connection, animal retainers are loyal enough to sacrifice themselves for the Beast Lady/Lord.  A Beast Lady/Lord does not start the game with animal retainers; they must be found and trained during play.  The maximum number of animal retainers a Beast Lady/Lord may have is the same as the maximum number of human(-oid) retainers based on the character's Charisma score.  (e.g., A Beast Lord with a Charisma score of 13 can have five animal retainers and five 'human' retainers.)  If an animal retainer dies in the service of a Beast Lady/Lord, the Beast Lady/Lord should lose experience points –perhaps the Hit Dice of the lost animal retainer times 10% of the character's current level requirement.

The 'heal animal' feature allows the Beast Lady/Lord to restore 1 - 4 hit points to an animal; the Beast Lady/Lord must touch the animal to accomplish this.  The 'speak with animals' feature functions just like the cleric spell.  The 'charm animal' feature functions just like magic-user 'Charm Person' spell except that it only affects animals.

Aquatic Elf

The aquatic elf actually requires less experience to advance compared to regular elves. There are several reasons for this: ‘hit progression’ is less frequent, ‘spell progression’ is less powerful, the only ‘armor allowed’ is a shield, and the aquatic elves would have little use for the languages of orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls. Instead, aquatic elves can breathe underwater, have an impressive swimming movement rate, and they know the language of dolphins. (According to the Rules Cyclopedia, “Dolphins are intelligent and have their own…language.” Thus, using game logic, communication with dolphins should not require a ‘speak with animals’ spell.)

Since aquatic elves are ‘magic-user’ spellcasters, they ought to have spell books, just like their land-lubber cousins. Books, of course, are not practical for a submarine environment. I imagine that aquatic elves, when they need to record information, engrave symbols upon sea shells. As such, an aquatic elf would have a collection of shells in place of a spell book.

 Falcon People

These beings appear like humans except with a falcon's head, wings, and talons (all in proportion to the human form).  Because of low bone density, they use a d4 for Hit Dice.  They posses the visual acuity of birds of prey.

The 'additional attacks' feature refers to one beak attack (1-4 damage) and two talon attacks (1-6 damage each) per round.  The talon attacks do not suffer the multiple attack penalty that applies to rakasta, but they can only be used while the character is flying.  The beak attack is subject to the same armor class modifier as a rakasta's bite and does suffer the multiple attack penalty if used in the same round as the talon attacks.

Regarding the 'great eagle' language, the Creature Catalogue states, “great eagles are much more intelligent [than their normal cousins].”  Additionally, “They have their own rudimentary language.”  Just as with aquatic elves and dolphins, it is reasonable to think that bird people can communicate with great eagles in their own language.


These entities were one of the original four player character races in Star Frontiers :
Dralasites are short, rubbery, aliens that have no bones or hard body parts. Their skin is a flexible membrane that is very tough and scratchy. It is generally dull gray and lines with dark veins that meet at the Dralasite’s two eye spots…The Dralasite’s central nerve bundle (brain), numerous small hearts and other internal organs float in a pudding-like mixture of protein and organic fluids. Dralasites breathe by absorbing oxygen directly through their skin, so they have no lungs. They are omnivores, but eat by surrounding their food and absorbing it, so they have no digestive tract or intestines.
Why stat them as a Basic D&D class? Why not?  Maybe they're descendants of an expedition that was stranded on the campaign planet ages ago.

If shapechange can be used to shift into an alternate form, I assume it can represent Dralasite malleability.  A Dralasite doesn't actually acquire an alternate form, but it is able to modify its body; for instance, it can generate a number of limbs equal to ([STR + DEX] / 5) + 2.  'Fashioning' its body requires several minutes, so 'adapting' in the middle of combat or emergencies is not likely.

Dralasites have a keen sense of smell, so 'heightened olfactory sense' is appropriate.  A Dralasite's lie detection ability does not work like the Detect Deception skill.  A first level Dralasite has a 5% chance of detecting a lie; this chance is increased by 5% every level to a 90% chance maximum.  If a roll is successful, the Dralasite receives a cumulative +10% bonus on additional attempts upon the same target on the same day (to a maximum chance of 90%).  On the other hand, if a roll is failed with regard to a certain target, the Dralasite character cannot successfully use this ability upon that target again that day.  Of course, the DM should make all lie detection rolls so that the player doesn't know if the Dralasite character failed.

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Green Martian (male)

These beings were first described in Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars.  Given their huge size and four arms, 'normal' armor will not accommodate them.  The 'leather' listed as 'Armor Allowed' refers to straps and belts a Green Martian warrior might wear; enough material for two full suits of 'normal' leather armor must be tailored for the Green Martian form.  Upon reaching fourth level, it is assumed that a Green Martian has collected enough metal from his fallen foes so that – when worn – it is the equivalent of chainmail.  By virtue of his eye stalks, a Green Martian warrior can only be surprised on a roll of 1 instead of 1-2.  His tusks do 1-6 damage in lieu of any other attack in a given round.


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