December 31, 2011

A second look at Table 11: Spell Progression

This is the last table from my Customized Classes for B/X post.  I'm pushing through to finish this thing before the new year.  Here we go.


Table 11: Spell Progression
Cleric Spell Table - +120%
Magic User Spell Table - +250%



Impressive, right?

I wrote quite a bit below this in the original post.  Enough that I'd rather summarize than copy/paste it all.  If you go back and take a look you'll see that I went on to give suggestions about customized spell progression tables and their costs.  The numbers I gave assume that the highest cleric spells are 7th level, and the highest magic user spells are 9th level.  Then I mentioned how elves top out with 5th level magic user spells so they have special needs if you're jacking with custom spell progression and concerned about keeping elvish xp totals unchanged.

I don't really have anything enlightening to add.  Instead, I'll just offer an alternative method for making customized spell progression tables.  This one assumes that 6th level spells are the highest available to both clerics and MUs.  Magic users get their first spell at Lv1, clerics at Lv2.

Custom Spell Progression
Level at which you gain first spell
Level    Cost
 1    100%
 2    60%
 3    35%
 4    25%
 5    20%
 6    15%
 7    10%
8     5%
9    0%

MU spells cost +25% per max spell level attainable
Cleric spells cost +10% per max spell level attainable

Now elves just need another 25% to bring their total back up to 800%.  Giving them the MU ability to create spells, scrolls, and magic items (Magic Research at L9 - +25%) would fit rather nicely I think.


That's all I've got.  I'm pretty happy with how this project turned out.  Now I just need to turn the whole thing into a PDF.  It's a holiday though, and I'm sleepy, so don't hold your breath or anything.

Happy New Year!

A second look at Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities

The full system for building B/X customized classes is over here.  I'm going over it all again, bit by bit.  These are the non-human abilities.  Level limits are required for a custom class to get access to these.

Table 10:Beyond Human Abilities
(The highly questionable list of special abilities and their costs which are likely to be revised)

Halfling abilities - 55%
90% Hide in Wilderness (+15%)
Hide 1-2 on d6 in cavern/dungeon (+10%)
AC -2 when attacked by large creatures (+15%)
+1 initiative when alone or with other halflings (+5%)
+1 missile attacks (+10%)

Dwarf abilities - 35%
Infravision 60’ (+15%)
5 languages: Common, Dwarvish, Goblin, Gnome, Kobald (+10%)
Stone Sense: 2 in 6 for detecting masonry traps, false walls,
hidden construction, or sloped passages (+10%)

Elf abilities - 50%
Infravision 60’ (+15%)
5 languages: Common, Elvish, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, Orc (+10%)
2 in 6 for detect hidden and secret doors (+10%)
Connection to Nature: Immune to ghoul paralysis (+15%)

Infravision 60’ - +15%
Functional Wings (slow) - +50%
Aquatic Breathing/Movement (slow) - +25%
Regeneration - +100% per hp per turn, not fire/acid
Shapeshift at will, one form only - +50% per HD
Innate Ability, once per day - +10% per spell level
Innate Ability, always on - +30% per spell level
Parasitic Host Control - +50%



This table is already messy, and now I'm adding more.  At least I don't see any costs I want to change, so that's something.

I like having the dwarf, elf, and halfling abilities grouped together with the cost of each ability individually listed.  It seems informative.  All the halfling abilities relate to their small size and very fast reflexes.  Stone Sense seems like a dwarven heritage thing to me, due to countless generations living underground.  The elvish ability to detect hidden/secret doors I assume is due to their keener than human senses, and their Connection to Nature definitely seems beyond human to me.

I'll add languages over on the human side, Table 9.  I'm thinking that human common and a Native Language costs 0%.  Every other language costs 5% each.  I'll give non-humans (like dwarves and elves) an Extended Lifespan ability for 10% which allows 3 other bonus languages at 1st level.  Level limits should have perks, right?

I'll put some guidelines for special ability costs over on Table 9.  I'll have the same thing over here for non-humans, I'll just call them innate magical abilities instead.  It'll look like this.

Innate Magical Ability (once per day) - +10% per spell level equivalent
Innate Magical Ability (multiple uses per day) - +15 to 25% per spell level equivalent
Innate Magical Ability (constant) - +30% per spell level equivalent

I wish I had some clue about cost guidelines for those non-human Physiology traits.  A little lower than innate magical abilities since wings are slower and more inconvenient than a Fly spell?  A little higher because wings can't be dispelled?  The same?  I dunno, I just make up numbers.

I'll remove the questionable costs disclaimer at the top.  It's still true of course, but why draw attention to it.  I'll replace it with a note about level limits being required for this table, and then call it a day.

December 30, 2011

A second look at Table 9: Extras

Alright, now we're getting to the fun stuff.

The previous tables cover the abilities and stats that are more or less shared between all the classes. These next two tables focus on the specialized abilities, skills, and talents that can help make a class unique.

Table 9 has the special abilities and skills that even humans can master.  I tend to think of these as teachable skills.  Table 10 on the other hand is for all the abilities that require non-human physiology or heritage.  Wings, gills, and eyes that see infrared are all definitely "beyond human".

Between those two extremes is a whole host of natural talents and innate magical abilities.  I'll leave it up to the individual DMs to decide which abilities their human classes can use.  Different campaign settings are going to put different limits on human potential.  You might give humans access to psychic talents and innate magic abilities, or reserve those for non-humans only.  If human clerics have the Turn Undead ability, can other human classes channel different supernatural forces; talking to spirits, summoning djinn, or making infernal pacts?  Different worlds are going to play by different rules.  It's really up to you to draw the dividing line between human and non-human abilities.


Table 9: Extras
Open Locks - +10%
Remove Traps - +10%
Pick Pockets - +10%
Move Silently - +10%
Climb Sheer Surfaces - +10%
Hide in Shadows - +10%
Hear Noise - +10%
Backstab - +10%

Student of Linguistics - +20%
(Read Languages 80% at L4 & Arcane Scroll use 10% failure at L9)

Turn Undead - +20%

Magic Research at L9: create spells, scrolls, and items - +25%



The only abilities I have listed in Table 9 are the ones already used by the human classes in B/X.  I'm sure to make additions, but for now I want this table to just be bare bones so that I can use it as a template for almost any setting.

The costs here are all highly subjective, so feel free to ignore my numbers and make up whatever costs seem fair to you.  Even if you want to keep the B/X xp tables unchanged, you could raise Backstab and Climb Sheer Surfaces to 15%, and lower Move Silently and Hear Noise down to 5%.  Trading percentage points between Turn Undead and the Cleric Spell Progression is really easy, same with Magic Research and Magic User Spell Progression (but that applies to the Elf class too).

If you want some rough guidelines...  

When making new abilities, I usually try to imagine what level of spell could create that same effect, then I set the cost at around 15% per spell level.  If the effectiveness of the ability is scaling based on character level (like thief skills and turn undead) or it doesn't start until the character reaches 4th level, I reduce that cost to about 1/2.  If the ability isn't gained until level 9, I reduce the cost to 1/4.

Good luck, and have fun!

December 26, 2011

A second look at Table 8: Magic Items

This table shows the costs to use the various types of magical items.  Magic users can't use normal armor, so they obviously do not need to pay the 5% to use magical armor.  Magic users can use magical robes and clothing because those are Miscellaneous Magic Items, just like the boots and cloaks.

I basically ignored Mr. Crabaugh's magic item table once I saw that he was using a single category for Potions/Rings and another for Wands/Staves/Rods.  Mine is divided into more item types and has different costs.  I find it interesting that we both arrived at a total cost of 70% for a class who can use all types of magic items.  I hadn't noticed that until a moment ago.


Table 8: Magic Items
Weapons - +5%
Armor - +5%
Potions - +5%
Rings - +5%
Protection Scrolls - +5%
Misc. Magic Items - +5%
Staves&Rods - +0% (but these often have class restrictions)
Wands - +10%
Divine Scrolls - +10%
Arcane Scrolls - +20%


I can imagine all sorts of magic item restrictions for various custom classes.  If Robot was a class I doubt they could drink potions.  A class of walking octopodes ("Walktopus"?) might have trouble wearing magic rings, or not; I guess it depends on the DM.  How about a class of limbless psionic worms who levitate and use telekinesis to wield weapons?  I bet they have trouble using magic rings.  There are a lot of options out there, that's why I wanted more categories.

I can think of two ways to make a class unable to use any magic items (and pay 0% on this table).  They could have an anti-magic aura, but I imagine that would have a rather high cost on the Beyond Human Abilities table.  The other would be to give the class some kind of allergy to magic.  I think I would set the cost of a magical allergy ability to 0%.  It would be like a free Detect Magic ability due to the rashes and uncontrollable itching when a magic item gets too close, but spells cast against them might do extra damage and even healing magic might send them into fits for a time.  I'm not sure how fun it would be to play such a class, but to each their own.

I set Staves&Rods to 0% because of a single item, the Rod of Cancellation.  I think a class that can't use any magic items should still be able to use a device that un-magics items.  If there is a Rod of Cancellation I don't see why you can't have one in the form of a staff or pole.  Some magic items you want to un-magic from a distance, right?

Overall I've kept the costs on this table pretty low.  I considered raising the costs for cleric and magic user scrolls in order to lower the costs of their spell casting tables.  Putting the cost of single use scrolls at about 1/10th the cost of daily spellcasting seems fair to me, but if your campaign setting has an abundance of scrolls you might like to adjust those costs.

Looking over all this again, I have found a couple of improvements I should make.  I'm raising the cost of using magic weapons to 10%.  A lot of monsters require the use of magic weapons to hurt them.  I think that being restricted from using magical weapons is more of a detriment than being restricted from using potions, or magic armor.  The other change is to lower protection scrolls to 0%.  I believe that all classes should be able to use the warding scrolls, even the guys with magical allergies.  You could rationalize it by ruling that the warding scrolls are non-magical writs and contracts that have been signed via magic by demi-gods or demon lords.  Reading them aloud (or presenting the scroll to the monster?) causes those powerful entities to fulfill the agreement by protecting the reader.  Or not.  Maybe you want those protection scrolls to be highly magical, and those PCs who are illiterate or allergic to magic will just have to suck it up and go uncompensated for not being able to use them.  They can probably just stand next to their buddy while he reads it anyway.

So, here are the changes.

Weapons are raised to 10%
Protection Scrolls lowered to 0%

Not a big change, but moving that 5% could matter to some pacifistic class who never uses any weapons.  I bet they'll deserve it.  I'll go edit the original post now.

December 24, 2011

A second look at Table 7: Weapons

The basic idea here is that if a class can use any of the individual weapons listed in parentheses, then they should pay the cost for the category. 

I did my best to break the weapons into sensible categories.  If a class can use one of the weapons in a category, they can probably use them all.  Given the infinite number of possible classes there is bound to be the odd exception. Like how robots can't use blowguns unless they have an air compressor.  It's hard to account for the infinite number of possible species and shapes.  Also, the existing classes forced the creation of some categories. The clerics wanted me to split the blunt weapons from the sharps.  Magic users needed daggers split from short swords.  The dwarves and halflings want the short bows split from the long bows.  Maybe I should split the bows again so the small folk can just pay 5% for the short bows? Hmm.

I can't seem to stop making changes to this table.  I keep splitting and combining categories and changing costs.  Something about this table just doesn't feel right, you know?  I'll look it all over one last time and see if I can finally let it go.

Table 7: Weapons
~Freebies~
+0% - Fist/Finger (brass knuckles, war fan, spiked gauntlet, bagh nakh)
+0% - Thrown Blunt (boomerang, stick, stone, flask)
+0% - Thrown Sharp (dart, throwing knife, shuriken)
+0% - Point & Shoot (blowgun, slingshot, wand)
~Ranged Weapons~
+5% - Mechanical (catapult, crossbow, ballista)
+5% - Thrown Poles (spear, javelin, trident)
+10% - Bows (short bow, long bow)
~One-Handed Weapons~
+5% - Blades (dagger, knife, kukri, sickle)
+5% - Blunt (club, hammer, mace, sap)
+5% - Flexible (flail, sling, whip, spiked chain, bola, net, nunchaku)
+10% - Choppers (hand axe, light pick, kama, spiked mace)
+15% - Swords (short sword, long sword, scimitar)
~Two-Handed Weapons~
+5% - Quarterstaff
+10% - Heavy Weapons (heavy version of any used one-handed weapon)
+15% - Pole Arms (pike, glaive, morning star, lance)
----------------------------------------------------------------
+90% - Any Weapon

Freebies is the section for weapons that are low damage and just dead easy to use.  They all cost 0% because I didn't feel that a class should have to pay extra xp to use this stuff.  I thought categories might still be useful though.  Clerics can't use the Thrown Sharps.  Fist/Finger weapons are hard to use when you only have tentacles.  A creature whose primary sense is smell might not be able aim at enough distance to use Point & Shoot.

Mechanicals are those weapons that require a bit of preparation.  They need to be wound up, pulled back, have the spring set into place, ect.  I imagine that some species just aren't bright enough to ever use this stuff, like trolls and ogres maybe.  Crossbows aren't available to magic users, I assume for being too cumbersome as opposed to too complicated.  Oh, and here is the part where I realize that I forgot to ever give Clerics access to catapults.  Nooooooooooooo.  Looks like I'm doing another revision at the end of this post.  Should magic users be able to use catapults?  Depends on the situation, right? Hmm, maybe the siege weapons should all cost 0%. 

I could probably do a whole post about why the pole weapons are split into Thrown Poles, Quarterstaff, and Pole Arms.  The short answer is that a Halfling can use a spear or javelin, but the other poles are too big; while a Hawkman (or Snail-dude) can use a Quarterstaff, but the back end of spears and pole arms would knock against their wings (or shell).

I ended up combining the short and long bows into Bows.  I think if you can use one then you know how to use the other.  I'd argue that halflings and dwarves can use longbows, they'd just need to stand on a table.  Oh wait!  Their short arms probably couldn't pull the string back far enough.  Huh, I guess I should split these up again.

The Blunt and Choppers I almost combined because they all use the same swinging arm motion.  I suppose that the Choppers do require a little more control to keep the blade pointed forward.  Honestly though I find it hard to imagine any class except cleric who would use one type but not the other.  Anti-clerics who use only edged weapons?  I'd best just leave it alone.

Flexible weapons require a fair amount of coordination to use.  If you're building an especially clumsy class, they probably can't use any of these without hurting themselves.

I set the cost for Swords a little higher than other weapons.  Swords are versatile.  They can slash, stab, or bash with the pommel (that's where the word "pummel" originated).  Besides that, the best magical weapons tend to be swords.  I think the cost is justified.  If your class can't use swords you probably deserve a little more xp than the class that can't use bows, right? Maybe? Hmm.  Maybe I should split the short swords from the long swords again.  I can imagine species able to use one but not the other.

I rather like the way that Heavy Weapons are set up now.  Use of a heavy flail requires Flexibles and Heavy Weapons.  A two-handed sword requires Swords and Heavy Weapons.  It does force a giant class to pay for categories of weapons that might be too small for them to actually use, but they'll be able to hold a great sword in one hand and a shield in the other so I bet they'll get over it.

Revision time again.

I'm going to rename ~Freebies~ to ~Very Small Weapons~
I'm going to remove any mention of siege weapons and just rename Mechanical to Crossbows 5%
I'm splitting the swords into short swords 5% and long (and bastard) swords 10%
I'm splitting the bows into short bows 5% and long bows 5%
I'm raising all the Level Limit costs 5%, so I can make a custom class that tops out at 7th level
I'm making Magic Users pay for Flexibles 5%, I figure they can use nets and maybe whips or slings
I'm reducing the cost of Magic User Spell Table to 250%, because I've always wanted to

Now I'm going back to edit the original post again.  My sense of aesthetics wants this weapon table to be more streamlined, but it seems to work best when it's messy and full of options.  It feels finished now, so hopeful I can leave it alone.

December 22, 2011

A second look at Table 6: Armor

Not the most exciting table, but I'm really happy with it how it turned out.  I started with the intention of putting the cost for using Any Armor at two-thirds the cost of Any Weapon, so I'm glad my recent revisions brought back that 2:3 ratio.  I'm not sure why I think it's a good ratio, but I'll just trust my gut and rationalize it later.  You know, the usual.

Table 6: Armor
None - +0%
Padded or Leather - +5%
Studded Leather - +5%
Scale or Hide - +5%
Chain - +10%
Banded or Splint - +10%
Plate - +15%
Shield (wood or metal) - +10%
------------------------
Any - +60%
Stealthy armor only (padded, leather, studded) - +10%

The only cost I see on this table that might be questionable is the 10% for shields.  I set shields at 10% because they're versatile and can be used with any type of armor, also because magical shields stack with magic armor.  Magic shields tend to get more special effects than magical armors (at least at the tables where I play).  If your class can't use shields then you're probably giving up some cool protection effect at later levels, in addition to the +whatever on the shield.

A lot of people also use house rules so that shields do more than just improve AC by 1.  That's not why I set the cost at 10%, but I'm just saying.  If using Shields Shall be Splintered or an alternate AC/Armor table helps you feel better about the 10% cost, that's a pretty easy fix.  If you must change shields to 5%, then raising Splint/Banded to 15% would put all seven classes back at the same xp totals... and make me groan in disgust.  It's your game though, do as you will.  Moving on.

In my original post I almost put a few extra options below "Stealthy armor only".  I decided against it because I felt that the costs should vary based on how different DMs implement the options.  Say you decide to make a class who were all decidedly vegan, they refuse to use anything made from animals at all.  Since they can still use padded or scale armors, the only cost to subtract is the 5% for Studded Leather, so according to the chart they'd pay 55% total.  Maybe 50% is more appropriate if you assume that Leather and Hide armor are both worth 2.5% each.  Also, the DM could decide that replacing leather straps with different materials makes vegan plate armor less effective.  If some of their armors are getting AC penalties, then maybe 40 or 45% would be fair.  It's all open to interpretation.

One last example.  Say you decide to make a B/X Druid class.  I'm not sure why they think metal is unnatural, but they're against using it; fine.  Padded & Leather, Studded, Hide, and wooden Shields comes to 25%, but what if they get creative.  What's the cost for bone splint, or wooden plate, and what's the AC?  I'd give them 35% total and AC near chain, but that's just me.  It's all rather subjective, but I hope this table provides a good framework for DMs to build onto.

December 21, 2011

A second look at Table 5: Saves

This table surprised me by being the one I spent the most time on.  Saves are weird.  I spent a long time trying to find the best way to quantify and compare them all.  Eventually, I felt that I got the cost ratios balanced to reflect the effectiveness of each save table.  I was happy.  A few days later I decided to revamp my weapons, armor, saves, and hit progression tables all at once.  The ratios inside each table were fine, but the costs for the weapons and armor were really high compared to the low costs in the saves and hit progression tables, so I knew I had to even it all out.  As a result my precious save cost ratios got screwed up.  I meant to go back and fix it later, but that is a very tangled web to weave.  Maybe I'll have one last go at it.

Here's how it looks right now...

Table 5: Saves
Normal Man - +0%
Magic User +10%
Thief - +10%
Cleric - +20%
Fighter - +30%
Elf - +35%
Dwarf/Halfling - +60%
 
Not to shabby.  The cost of the Cleric saves bothers me a little, but I can live with it.  I should probably explain how I went about comparing all these save tables.

At first I was going to have poison and spell saves be more valuable than the other types, but I changed my mind.  I imagine that poison and spell saves get rolled more often than the other types, but it really just depends on the individual DM and the enemies and challenges they place into the setting.  If Blue DM likes to use venomous creatures, and Green DM is running a Hogwarts campaign where everyone is using wands, while Red DM uses a lot of area effect traps that require Dragon Breath saves, then it gets really hard to quantify how much better save vs. poison is compared to save vs. wands, if at all.  I gave it all up and decided to just assume that all save types were created equal.  I doubt it's true, but it does make comparing the save tables easier.

Assuming that all save types are equal also makes it easier to create new customized save tables.  You could take numbers from one type of save and spread them into the other types in the same row.  So long as the totals are equal, then the new save table costs the same as the original.  Keep it within reason though.  I'd suggest not letting any save category drop more than one per character level.  Like, fighter saves drop every three levels, so I wouldn't reduce any save by more than three each time.  I don't advise fiddling with the Dwarf saves, they're crazy enough already.

In the end, I weighed all the save tables against each other simply by adding the five saves in each row together.  Then I compared all the first level totals against each other, second level totals against each other, and so on.  Low score wins.  Here's the summary of how that worked out.

  • Normal Man saves start awful and never improve at all.  Cost = 0%  
  • Magic User saves cost 10%.  That gap will leave room for a "worse than MU" custom save table used by some new and accident prone class.
  • Magic User and Thief save totals are usually even or very close.  Thieves have better saves at levels 5, 9, and 10, but magic users have an edge at 6,7,8, and are way better off at levels 11 and 12.  I think it's a tie, so I made their costs equal.
  • The gap between Thief saves and Cleric saves is far greater than the tiny gap between Cleric and Fighter save totals.  Like around three times greater.  Cleric saves seem to start off better and progress at a faster pace than any of the others.  I'm guessing that they get some kind of bonus for being buddies with a deity.
  • Elf saves are the same as fighter saves, except that elves are a bit more resistant to spells and petrification.  Cost = (Fighter save cost +5%).
  • Dwarf/Halfling saves are equal to fighter saves if you skip the first two tiers, except Dragon Breath which just skips one tier.  On average Dwarf saves are about one and a half times better than Fighter saves for any given level, but considering that their saves at first level are ridiculous good; I'd put the cost somewhere around 1.75 times the cost of Fighter saves.

So, what I really want to do is raise the cleric saves by 5% and lower Dwarf/Halfling saves by 5%.  That would put a 15% gap between the Thief and Cleric saves, 5% between Cleric and Fighter saves, and a 10% gap between Cleric and Elf saves.  It would also put Dwarf/Halfling saves close to 1.85 times the cost of Fighter saves.  Yeah, that all lines up with the ratios nicely.

The trouble is finding different costs to lower without messing up the other tables.  The whole reason I started doing this was to get the final xp totals at the end to match the B/X books, so for every 5% I add to a class I need to lower 5% somewhere else.  Since a lot of the abilities are shared by multiple classes, changing any cost can start a kind of chain reaction.  Oh, and it'd be nice if all the ability costs looked reasonably balanced once I'm finished.

I'm just rambling now because I'm not quite sure how to pull this off.

I'd always meant to rework the weapons table a bit.  Also, I had an idea yesterday to lower the cost of some of the armor types.  I know that some people prefer to play with ascending AC and allow PCs to use Dex as AC if unarmored.  I think I can get these armor costs to look good whether you play that way or not.  If I can just get all these changes to line up so that the costs all balance...

*Days Later*

OK, got it.  This is probably my last revision.  I managed to fix (almost) every cost that bothered me.  I even got Climb Walls and Backstab back at 10% each, which is where I secretly preferred them.  Here's the rundown of all the changes.

Cleric saves 20%, now 25%
Dwarf/Halfling saves 60%, now 55%
Short Bow 5% and Long Bows 5%, now Bows 10%
Short Swords 5% and Long Swords 5%, now Swords 15%
Massive Blunt 5% and Massive Sharp 10%, now Heavy Weapons 10%
Choppers 5%, now Choppers 10%
Pole Arms 10%, now Pole Arms 15%
Scale and Hide Armor 10%, now 5%
Banded and Splint Armor 15%, now 10%
Climb Walls 15%, now 10%
Backstab 15%, now 10%

Now I'm off to edit the original post.

December 16, 2011

A second look at Table 4: Level Limit

Level limits!  Everyone's favorite topic. Let's skip the part where I wax poetic about humanity's potential for greatness vs. other species.  B/X has level limits, so my system for creating customized B/X classes includes a table with their costs.

If you want to use this system but don't want to use level limits, you can!  Just throw this table out, increase the cost of infravision to 25%, and increase the dwarf Stone Sense ability to 20% (those seem a tad high, but not by much).  Fair enough?  

If you do want to incorporate level limits into your custom classes, here is what I came up with.

Table 4: Level Limit
(Humans pay 0% for no cap)
8 - +0%
9 - +5%
10 - +10%
11 - +15%
12 - +20%

This table bothered me for the longest time.  It just seemed so unfair that the humans were paying 0% while the dwarves, elves, and halflings were paying a fee for level caps.  It didn't make any sense... until about an hour ago when the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.

Level limits are the price you pay for access to Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities.

The cost is based upon the level where you cap.  If your class caps at level 8, then access to Table 10 costs you nothing.  Otherwise, access to the abilities in Table 10 costs (max level-8)*5%.

That's why humans pay 0%.  They don't have access to all the cool stuff in Table 10.  Infravision, wings that let you fly, innate magical abilities, tremor sense, bonus AC vs. large creatures due to your small size, immunities, resistances, water breathing, and gods know what else.

So, if you make a species like, I dunno... Andorians.  You decide that their antenna and blue skin are only cosmetic changes that grant no special abilities.  You give them some Extras from Table 9 but nothing from Table 10; then Andorians don't need a level limit.

On the other hand you can also make a class for Hawkmen and declare that they don't hit their level cap until 12th.  They would pay 20% ([12-8]*5%) for access to the functional wings in Table 10, plus the cost of the wings.  I think I listed slow functional wings as costing 50%, I imagine hawkmen as being swift but not super agile fliers so maybe 60-65%.

I think it's fairly easy to tell which abilities are "Beyond Human" and which aren't.  I'm not going to worry right now about listing every possible ability in it's proper table.  The real question I have is if 12th is the highest possible level cap.  Can a class pay 60% for a level cap at 20th?  I'm still undecided, but ultimately it doesn't matter.  Individual DMs are going to decide for themselves anyhow.

OK, so...

In the original post I'm changing the sentence under Table 4 from "(Humans pay 0% for no cap)" to "(Level limits grant access to Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities)".  Then I'm moving the dwarf, elf, and halfling abilities from Table 9 to Table 10.  Some of that stuff (like bonus languages) belongs in Table 9, but most of it doesn't.  I'll expand those tables and clean them up in a few days.

December 15, 2011

A second look at Table 3: Hit Progression

Here's what I'm taking another look at.


Table 3: Hit Progression and Hit Points after level 9
Normal Man - +0% (+1hp after L9)
Magic User - +15% (+1hp after L9)
Cleric/Thief - +30% (+1hp after L9)
Fighting Man - +70% (+2hp after L9)

Bonus Hp after L9
(in addition to the standard amount listed above, will also raise xp for L10+)

Bonus +1hp - +10%


Ignoring the hit points after level nine for a moment, I'll try to explain where I got the costs for the hit progression tables.  Normal Men never progress at all and are nearly as skilled as a first level magic user, so I gave them the lowest possible cost of 0%.  Magic Users suck at combat, but they're far better than Normal Men who never progress at all, so I put their hit chart cost at 15%.  This cost gap will accommodate a couple of new and awful hit charts that I might inflict on cross-eyed brownies, blind mole people, or others whose combat skills fall between a normal man and mage.  Then I just doubled the cost for the Cleric/Thief (30%), and doubled it again for the Fighter progression (60%).  Later I added another 10% to the fighter's table to account for the additional hp after level nine and general awesomeness.

I justified all this to myself much later.  If you care to crunch down all the numbers, round profusely, and basically ignore the first few levels; fighters are sort of almost twice as effective at hitting baddies as clerics and three times as effective as magic users.  Costs of 20-30-60 seem appropriate based on those ratios. Once I considered that the basics of combat training are far easier to learn than the advanced maneuvers, the 15-30-70 costs made sense to me.

Back to those hit points now.  This was originally two different tables, one for hit progression and another for hit points after level nine.  I combined them shortly after Table 1 took it's current form.  Mainly this came about because at the time I was requiring Halflings to pay for the "after name level" hit points even though they topped out at eighth level.  Then I saw that the higher "after name level" xp requirements of Dwarves and Thieves could be blamed on them gaining a hp in addition to those of their combat peers.  It all made sense in a weird moment of clarity, so I tied the "after name level" hit points to combat proficiency.  Normal Men get +1hp after L9 because I thought it would be sad to level a character from 9th to 10th and not gain a hit point.  I'm generous like that.  If you decide that Normal Men combatants don't deserve it and should get +0hp after 9th, I wouldn't think less of you.

Now somebody out there is going to ask about the cost of that Bonus +1hp (because I know I did). "Why are thieves and dwarves paying +10% every level in addition to the higher xp after name level?"  I'm not sure honestly.  This discrepancy convinced me make a new house rule for my own games.  Thieves get a minimum of 2hp per level.  Dwarves get a minimum of 3hp per level.  So, if one of those guys goes up a level and rolls a 1 or 2 for hp, then they get the minimum instead.  I mean they're paying for those hp every level, right?  It makes sense to me.

Another alternative is reducing the cost of the bonus +1 hp after L9 to 0% (but it still raises xp for level 10+), then raise thief and dwarf special ability costs to compensate.  Climb Walls starts off pretty high, so maybe it should cost 15%.  Backstab might also deserve to cost 15%.  For the Dwarves I'd raise their language skills up to 10% (to match the elves), and their Infravision up to 15%.  Then elf Infravision goes up to 15% to match the dwarves, so I'd lower the elves Connection to Nature down to 15%.  Hmmm...  That looks good actually.  Really good.  Crap.  I wish I'd have thought of this sooner.  I'm going back to edit the original post again with these new changes.  I'm scrapping the minimum hp house rule that I mentioned a moment ago, I think these changes work out better all around.

Dear IT guys at my work,

I realize that you're probably just "following orders" or whatever, but every time you upgrade the website blocking software or disable certain functions on my computer I end up wasting a lot of time figuring out how to bypass it so that I can post on my blog and look at Zak S's site.

It's starting to cut into my productivity.

It really becomes exponential at some point when you think about all the time you've spent blocking my access to the web, and all the time I've spent worming my way through the cracks.  Imagine all that we could have accomplished for the company if we hadn't wasted that time and energy.  I realize that we can never really join forces, but can't we at least stop this arms race?  Couldn't you just turn a blind eye so long as I'm getting my work done and continuing to find ways to make the business more efficient? 

Thanks for listening, and have a lovely day.

Sincerely,
The Spoiled Brat

December 14, 2011

A second look at Table 2: Hit Dice

Overall, I like how this table turned out.  The +30,+40,+50 cost progression feels right somehow. 
 
Table 2: Hit Dice
d3 - +0%
d4 - +30%
d6 - +70%
d8 - +120%
d10 - +180%
d12 - +250%

I see that I did make an obvious mistake.  The number of sides on those dice are changing by 2 each step.  So, the step before d4 should actually be d2 - +0%.  If your cheapo class doesn't want to pay for hit points then you don't roll a die, you flip a damn coin.  I like that.  I'll go back and correct the original post. I'll even add another step below that, d0 - (-20%).  Then any DM with an interest can get the costs for the odd dice by finding the mid point between the steps.  Like this.

d1 - (-10%)
d3 - 15%
d5 - 50%
d7 - 95%
d9 - 150%
d11 - 215%

I'm not sure what kind of madman builds a class with d11 for hit dice, but I'm here to facilitate not to judge.

Crabaugh's hit dice table had the costs doubling for each higher die, which some of you will like better I'm sure.  I changed it mainly because I wanted the step between d4 and d6 to cost more.  Also, I know I'm going to use a d12 at some point for a Cyclops or giantish class, and I thought that the cost doubling method made the cost for d12 too high.

I suppose I might like Crabaugh's costs better if I allowed my players to reroll 1s or start their 1st level characters with max hit points.  There is an argument to be made that d10 and d12 hit dice should cost more than I have listed, but if that big hulking class still has a possibility of starting first level with 1hp then I think these costs are fine.

December 10, 2011

A second look at customized classes, Table 1: Base XP

The plan seemed simple enough.  Take Crabaugh's system and tweak it "just a little" so that it would spit out the xp tables in the B/X books if you plug in the seven existing classes.  I said, "I'll just reverse engineer the classes into their base components.  It can't be that hard". 

That was weeks ago.  

The brick wall that I kept running into was the unified base xp table.  I really wanted it to work, but the Thieves and Elves conspired against it.  Once I made the decision to let go of the unified table, everything fell into place rather quickly.

It was easy to see that the arcane magic used by Elves and MUs was costing them.  Their offensive spells cost them more than the helpful prayers of clerics.  In addition to that the versatility of spellbooks, sharing spells, and the potential to keep a library full of magical options seemed to put them up into a whole new tax bracket.

The thieves and clerics confused me though.  Their xp tables were obviously playing by different rules, but it took me long time to see what those two classes had in common.  Eventually I stumbled across a discussion online about how thieves were assumed to belong to a guild and required to fork over 10% of their gold, just like clerics donating to their churches.  I don't remember ever using that rule in play.  I wish I had my old B/X books so that I could verify it.  Labyrinth Lord seems to agree though, so I labeled their base xp as "10% tithers" and moved on.  It makes sense to me.  They pay their dues and in exchange they get some training from their peers.  It's also interesting to note that if they broke away from these organizations and kept their gold, thieves would need 1600xp for level 2 and clerics would have the same xp requirements as fighters.  I like that.

Clerics and thieves are also responsible for the Level 10+ section.  Thieves have lower xp requirements than clerics every step of the way until after name level.  At that point clerics need 100k per level and thieves need 120k... what the hell?  And don't even get me started about the dwarves.  I gave up, truncated the tables at level 9, and decided to just blame the rest on hit points.

... and that's where this three headed monster came from.


Table 1: Base XP
 10% Tithers    Standard     Base XP     Spellbook Users
0 ------------ 0 --------- Level 1 --------------- 0
300 -------- 400 ------- Level 2 ------------ 500
600 -------- 800 ------- Level 3 ---------- 1000
1200 ------ 1600 ------ Level 4 ---------- 2000
2400 ------ 3200 ------ Level 5 ---------- 4000
5000 ------ 6400 ------ Level 6 ---------- 8000
10000 ---- 12800 ----- Level 7 --------- 16000
20000 ---- 24000 ----- Level 8 --------- 25000
40000 ---- 48000 ----- Level 9 --------- 50000
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 10+
Add a flat amount to the total based upon hp gained
10% Tithers      Standard                 Spellbook Users
+100,000 --- +100,000 --- +1 hp/level --- +150,000
+120,000 --- +120,000 --- +2 hp/level --- +200,000
+130,000 --- +130,000 --- +3 hp/level --- +250,000
 
 Like many of the tables in this class building system, I don't really like it but it seems to work.  If I can find a way to simplify or improve it I'll go back and update the original post.

December 9, 2011

Customized Classes for B/X

Based in part on Paul Crabaugh's excellent "Customized Classes" from Dragon #109, but altered and reworked so that xp values for the seven canonical classes remain unchanged.

Basically you just start with 100%, then add all the percentages for the skills, abilities, and equipment you want the class to have access to.  That's your multiplier for the appropriate base xp chart (the first table), those results are your customized xp table.

10% Tithers    Standard     Base XP     Spellbook Users
0 ------------ 0 --------- Level 1 --------------- 0
300 -------- 400 ------- Level 2 ------------ 500
600 -------- 800 ------- Level 3 ---------- 1000
1200 ------ 1600 ------ Level 4 ---------- 2000
2400 ------ 3200 ------ Level 5 ---------- 4000
5000 ------ 6400 ------ Level 6 ---------- 8000
10000 ---- 12800 ----- Level 7 --------- 16000
20000 ---- 24000 ----- Level 8 --------- 25000
40000 ---- 48000 ----- Level 9 --------- 50000
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 10+
Add a flat amount to the total based upon hp gained
10% Tithers      Standard                 Spellbook Users
+100,000 --- +100,000 --- +1 hp/level --- +150,000
+120,000 --- +120,000 --- +2 hp/level --- +200,000
+130,000 --- +130,000 --- +3 hp/level --- +250,000


Table 2: Hit Dice
d0 - (-20%)
d2 - +0%
d4 - +30%
d6 - +70%
d8 - +120%
d10 - +180%
d12 - +250%


 Table 3: Hit Progression and Hit Points after level 9
Normal Man - +0% (+1hp after L9)
Magic User - +15% (+1hp after L9)
Cleric/Thief - +30% (+1hp after L9)
Fighter types- +70% (+2hp after L9)
Bonus Hp after L9
(in addition to the standard amount listed above, will also raise xp for L10+)
Bonus +1hp - +0%


Table 4: Level Limit
(Level limits grant access to Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities)
7 - +0%
8 - +5%
9 - +10%
10 - +15%
11 - +20%
12 - +25%


Table 5: Saves
Normal Man - +0%
Magic User +10%
Thief - +10%
Cleric - +25%
Fighter - +30%
Elf - +35%
Dwarf/Halfling - +55%


Table 6: Armor
None - +0%
Padded or Leather - +5%
Studded Leather - +5%
Scale or Hide - +5%
Chain - +10%
Banded or Splint - +10%
Plate - +15%
Shield (wood or metal) - +10%
------------------------
Any - +60%
Stealthy armor only (padded, leather, studded) - +10%


Table 7: Weapons
~Very Light Weapons~
+0% - Fist/Finger (brass knuckles, war fan, spiked gauntlet, bagh nakh)
+0% - Thrown Blunt (boomerang, stick, stone, flask)
+0% - Thrown Sharp (dart, throwing knife, shuriken)
+0% - Point & Shoot (blowgun, slingshot, wand)
~Ranged Weapons~
+5% - Crossbows
+5% - Short Bows
+5% - Long Bows 
+5% - Thrown Poles (spear, javelin, trident) 
~One-Handed Weapons~
+5% - Blades (dagger, kukri, sickle)
+5% - Short Swords
+5% - Blunt (club, hammer, mace)
+5% - Flexible (flail, sling, whip, spiked chain, bola, net, nunchaku)
+10% - Choppers (hand axe, light pick, kama, spiked mace)
+10% - Long Swords (long sword, scimitar, bastard sword)
~Two-Handed Weapons~
+5% - Quarterstaff
+10% - Heavy Weapons (heavy version of any used one-handed weapon)
+15% - Pole Arms (pike, glaive, morning star, lance)
----------------------------------------------------------------
+90% - Any Weapon


Table 8: Magic Items
Weapons - +10%
Armor - +5%
Potions - +5%
Rings - +5%
Misc. Magic Items - +5%
Staves&Rods - +0% (but these often have class restrictions)
Protection Scrolls - +0%
Cleric Scrolls - +10%
Magic User Scrolls - +20%
Wands - +10%

  
Table 9: Extras
Common and Native Languages - +0%
Bonus Language - 5%

Student of Linguistics - +20%
(Read Languages 80% at L4 & Arcane Scroll use 10% failure at L9)
Open Locks - +10%
Remove Traps - +10%
Pick Pockets - +10%
Move Silently - +10%
Climb Sheer Surfaces - +10%
Hide in Shadows - +10%
Hear Noise - +10%
Backstab - +10%

Turn Undead - +30%

Magic Research at L9 - +25%
(create spells, scrolls, and magical items) 

Custom Abilities
Special Ability (once per day) - +10% per spell level equivalent
Special Ability (multiple per day) - +15 to 25% per spell level equivalent
Special Ability (constant) - +30% per spell level equivalent


Table 10:Beyond Human Abilities
(These abilities require Table 4: Level Limit)

Halfling abilities - 55%
90% Hide in Wilderness (+15%)
Hide 1-2 on d6 in cavern/dungeon (+10%)
AC -2 when attacked by large creatures (+15%)
+1 initiative when alone or with other halflings (+5%)
+1 missile attacks (+10%)

Dwarf abilities - 35%
Infravision 60’ (+15%)
5 languages: Common, Dwarvish, Goblin, Gnome, Kobald (+10%)
Stone Sense: 2 in 6 for detecting masonry traps, false walls,
hidden construction, or sloped passages (+10%)

Elf abilities - 50%
Infravision 60’ (+15%)
5 languages: Common, Elvish, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, Orc (+10%)
2 in 6 for detect hidden and secret doors (+10%)
Connection to Nature: Immune to ghoul paralysis (+15%)

Custom Abilities
Innate Magical Ability (once per day) - +10% per spell level
Innate Magical Ability (multiple per day) - +15 to 25% per spell level
Innate Magical Ability (constant) - +30% per spell level 

Physiology 
Infravision 60’ - +15%
Functional Wings (slow) - +50%
Aquatic Breathing/Movement (slow) - +25%
Shapeshift at will, one form only - +50% per HD
Regeneration - +100% per hp per turn, not fire/acid
Parasitic Host Control (restricted use, painful removal) - +50%
Extended Lifespan (native, common, and 3 bonus languages) - +10% 

Cleric Spell Table - +120%
Magic User Spell Table - +250%

The spell progression values above give results in line with B/X.

Since different people use different charts, I’ll leave it to you to break the spell progression tables down into their component parts and costs if you want to build custom spell progression tables for new classes.  If it was me, I prefer having Clerics get no spell at first level and peak with 7th level spells, Magic-Users peak with 9th level spells.  So, I’d break it up like this.

Custom Spell Progression
Level at which you gain first spell
Level    Cost
 1    70%
 2    50%
 3    35%
 4    25%
 5    20%
 6    15%
 7    10%
8     5%
9    0%

MU spells cost +20% per max spell level attainable
Cleric spells cost +10% per max spell level attainable


Guidelines for Building Custom Spell Progression Tables
Once you begin to learn spellcasting, gain 1 spell each time you level
After learning your second 3rd level spell, gain 2 spells each time you level
After learning your second 6th level spell, gain 3 spells each time you level
After learning your second 9th level spell, gain 4 spells each time you level

The number of spells per spell level must be within 1 of adjacent spell levels
(ignore zeroes)

Only gain a new spell level after learning 2 spells of the previous spell level


A note on Elves
Currently Elves are paying the same for their spells as Magic Users.  Once I start messing with custom spell progression tables, Elves are going be an issue.  Because of their level limit Elves top out with 5th level MU spells, so if I’m going to reduce the cost of their spell table by 80% I need to give them something extra to bring their xp total back up to B/X standard.  I’ll probably just bump up the cost of their “Connection to Nature” ability and have it do more than give immunity to ghoul paralysis.  Possibilities include: resistance or immunity to sleep and/or charm, improved reaction rolls with woodland creatures, bonus languages/beastspeach.  They might also gain the ability to create spells and magic items like Magic Users, I just haven’t decided yet.

------------------------------------------------------

Fighter
100 Base
120 Hit Dice: d8
70   Hit Progression: Fighter (+2hp after L9)
30   Fighter saves
60   Armor: Any
90   Weapons: Any
30   Magic: no wands, no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls
 

Standard Base Experience X Fighter Class 500%
0 ----------- Level 1 ------------ 0
400 -------- Level 2 ------  2000
800 -------- Level 3 ------  4000
1600 ------ Level 4 ------   8000
3200 ------ Level 5 -----  16000
6400 ------ Level 6 -----  32000
12800 ----- Level 7 -----  64000
24000 ----- Level 8 ---- 120000
48000 ----- Level 9 ---- 240000
________ Level 10+ ________
2hp/Level = +120,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 1,560,000

 ------------------------------------------------------


Thief
100 Base
30   Hit Dice: d4
30   Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
0     Bonus +1hp after L9
10   Thief saves
10   Armor: Padded, Leather, Studded
90   Weapons: Any
30   Magic: no wands, no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls
80   Thieving Abilities: all 8 at L1
20   Student of Linguistics (Read Languages 80% at L4 and, L9 arcane scroll use 10% fail)
 

Tithe to Guild Base Experience X Thief Class 400%
0 ----------- Level 1 ------------- 0
300 -------- Level 2 -------  1200
600 -------- Level 3 -------  2400
1200 ------ Level 4 -------- 4800
2400 ------ Level 5 -------- 9600
5000 ------ Level 6 ------  20000
10000 ---- Level 7 ------- 40000
20000 ---- Level 8 ------- 80000
40000 ---- Level 9 ------ 160000
________ Level 10+ ________
2hp/Level = +120,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 1,480,000     

------------------------------------------------------


Cleric
100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
30   Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
25   Cleric saves
60   Armor: Any
25   Weapons: Thrown Blunt, Blunt,
Flexible, Quarterstaff, Heavy Weapons
40   Magic: no wands, no arcane scrolls
30   Turn Undead
120 Spells: Cleric Spell Progression at Lv2

Tithe to Church Base Experience X Cleric Class 500%
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
300 --------Level 2 -------  1500
600 --------Level 3 -------  3000
1200 ------ Level 4 -------  6000
2400 ------ Level 5 -----  12000
5000 ------ Level 6 -----  25000
10000 -----Level 7 -----  50000
20000 -----Level 8 ----- 100000
40000 -----Level 9 ----  200000
________ Level 10+ ________
1hp/Level = +100,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 1,300,000         

------------------------------------------------------


Magic User
100 Base
30   Hit Dice: d4
15   Hit Progression: MU (+1 hp after L9)
10    MU saves
0     Armor: none
15   Weapons:   Blades, Quarterstaff, and Flexible (restricted to light weapons)
55   Magic: no armor, no divine scrolls
25   Magic Research at L9, able to create spells, magical weapons, armor, wands, potions, ect.
250 Spells:
Magic User Spell Progression at Lv1
 
Spellbook User Base Experience X Magic User Class 500%
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
500 --------Level 2 -------  2500
1000 --------Level 3 ------ 5000
2000------ Level 4 ------  10000
4000 ------ Level 5 -----  20000
8000 ------ Level 6 -----  40000
16000 -----Level 7 -----  80000
25000 -----Level 8 ----- 150000
50000 -----Level 9 ----  300000
________ Level 10+ ________
1hp/Level = +150,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 20 @ 2,050,000   

------------------------------------------------------


Dwarf
100 Base
120 Hit Dice: d8
70   Hit Table: Fighter (+2hp after L9)
0     Bonus +1hp after L9
25   Max Level: 12th
55   Dwarf Saves
60   Armor: Any
55   Weapons: no 2-handed weapons, or longbows
30   Magic: no wands, no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls
35   Dwarf Abilities


Standard Base Experience X Dwarf Class 550%
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
400 --------Level 2 -------- 2200
800 --------Level 3 -------- 4400
1600 ------ Level 4 -------  8800
3200 ------ Level 5 ------ 17600
6400 ------ Level 6 ------ 35200
12800 -----Level 7 -------70400
24000 -----Level 8 ------132000
48000 -----Level 9 ------264000
________ Level 10+ ________
3hp/Level = +130,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
------------ Level 10 ---- 394000
-------------Level 11 ---- 524000
-------------Level 12 ---- 654000         

------------------------------------------------------


Halfling
100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
70   Hit Progression: Fighter (+2hp after L9)
5     Max Level: 8th
55   Dwarf/Halfling saves
60  Armor: Any
55   Weapons: no 2-handed weapons or longbows
30   Magic: no wands, no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls
55   Halfling Abilities
Standard Base Experience X Halfling Class 500%
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
400 --------Level 2 -------  2000
800 --------Level 3 -------  4000
1600 ------ Level 4 ------   8000
3200 ------ Level 5 -----   16000
6400 ------ Level 6 -----   32000
12800 -----Level 7 -----   64000
24000 -----Level 8 ----- 120000

------------------------------------------------------


Elf
100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
70   Hit Progression: Fighter (+2 hp after L9)
15   Max Level: 10th
35  Elf saves
60   Armor: Any
90   Weapons: Any
60   Magic: no divine scrolls
 
50   Elf Abilities
250 Spells: Magic User Spell Progression at Lv 1
 
Spellbook User Base Experience X Elf Class 800%
0 -----------Level 1 ------------- 0
500 --------Level 2 -------  4000
1000 -------Level 3 ------- 8000
2000------- Level 4 -----  16000
4000 ------ Level 5 ------ 32000
8000 ------ Level 6 -----  64000
16000 -----Level 7 ---- 128,000
25000 -----Level 8 ---- 200,000
50000 -----Level 9 ---  400,000
________ Level 10+ ________
2hp/Level = +200,000 each
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Level 10 @ 600,000

------------------------------------------------------

Customized Classes for Ezzin

Here's an excerpt from the character creation document I'll be giving to my players.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pick a Class: Any Character can be any of the human classes (Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Magic-User) without restriction. Having an ability score below 9 allows the option to play as one of the non-human classes. 



Ability Score 8 or less ----  Available Class
Strength  --------------------------  Halfling
Intelligence -----------------------  Nagual
Wisdom ---------------------------  Dwarf or Gnome
Dexterity -------------------------  Cyclops
Constitution ----------------------  Elf
Charisma -------------------------  Haniver 


An ability score of 4 or 5 also allows you the choice to play as a beast man, any sort of human/animal hybrid, a fey creature, an intelligent dire animal, or somesuch thing. Your choice. Just make sure it fits with the low score you rolled. Strength 4 fits with a Pixie, Frogling, or Ratling. A talking Dire Wolf or Minotaur fits better with a low Int, Wis, or Cha. This is your chance to play a goblin, patherman, fairy, serpentaur, spiderfreak, or whatever. No Dragons, Djinn, Divine or Demonic beings. Email me with your choice and any ideas you have about culture, skills, and background. I’ll make the custom class and XP chart for you and send back a link to the new class document.

If you roll a 3 for any of your six ability scores, you may play a dragon. The life of a young dragon is no picnic. Email me, we’ll roll on the dragon charts and see what you get.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------


So instead of giving myself just a handful of custom classes to create and balance, I might also need to create a new class whenever a player rolls a crappy Ability Score.  I enjoy a challenge.  The easiest road would be to just make up classes/races on the fly and build xp tables with my gut, but I second guess myself far too much for that.  What I needed was a system, a class creation formula, so I set about looking for it.

Paul Crabaugh's excellent "Customized Classes" from Dragon #109 was almost exactly what I was looking for.  The only thing was that I wanted the xp charts for the original seven classes to remain unchanged.  Not that I disagree with Crabaugh's results.  I just don't want to have to justify those results to others.  I seems to me that if the customized class formula could recreate the xp tables of the seven canonical classes, then it somehow lends an air of authenticity to any newly created classes.  I want to be able to sidestep the "Why does my Wizardly Wolf-Man need 5000xp for level 2?" discussions by simply pointing at the B/X book and saying "it's based on those xp tables".  Somehow it just feels more fair if the xp tables are already in print, I dunno why.

So I set about tweaking Crabaugh's system.  "It can't be that difficult" I said to myself.  Besides, reverse engineering the B/X classes seemed like it would be a fun mental exercise that might give me some insight about why those xp charts seem to vary so wildly.  Here is a summary of my process.

Step 1: Assume the xp tables in B/X are implicitly correct.
Step 2: Assume that all skills and abilities have values based upon their usefulness/fun
Step 3: Waste hours and hours of your free time struggling to find method in the madness
Step 4: Make your wife question your sanity by mumbling gibberish mixed with numbers... for days
Step 5: Nail down all the numbers and share the whole thing on your blog
Step 6: Sit in the rocking chair and sip a brandy while feelings of smug satisfaction wash over you


I'm on Step 5 now.  My next post will be just the raw tables and numbers without any detailed instructions or explanation.  Sorry, but I want to hurry along to step 6.

Basically you just start with 100%, then add all the percentages for the skills, abilities, and equipment you want the class to have access to.  That's your multiplier for the appropriate base xp chart (the first table), those results are your customized xp table.

It's not perfect.  I know that.  Heck, I don't even own any B/X books anymore due to a fit of generosity a few years back.  A lot of this is from bits and pieces I found on the web and memory, so buyer beware.  I think it turned out pretty well though, especially if you're willing to do a little rounding for the Dwarves and look the other way when Elves get to level 7 and 8. 

Later on I might write a post about each of the tables, discuss how I came to the numbers and other such minutia.  For now though I'm just excited to set it all aside for a couple of days.  Someone else can play and tinker with it if they like while I enjoy my drink.

December 1, 2011

Don't do what Elfy Don't does!

DM: "You're all walking along toward the dungeon.  Suddenly, a shadow passes over you.  You all look up and see a large, winged, serpentine..."

Elfy Don't: "I cast Magic Missile at it!"

Everyone Else: "No, Elfy!  DON'T!"

Elfy Don't: *rolls for damage*
-----------------------------------------

I honestly don't know why my brain called up the image of that giant, flying, venomous snake that we saw in the caves a few sessions ago.   Once Jeff said the word "dragon" I had to resist the urge to crawl under the table in shame.

As most of the party dove into the bushes for cover, Elfy Don't stood his ground and readied a wand. (Don't do that)


Ready for the Pro Tips?
  1. Dragon Breath has greater range than a Wand of Paralyzation.
  2. Check your sheet for the Potion of Fire Resistance that you forgot about.
  3. When the DM says that one of the henchmen stands slack-jawed staring at the dragon, HIDE!  Let the hench-patsy suffer the dragon's wrath.
  4. You're probably dead anyway.  Running away from the rest of your party might save their lives.
  5. Drop magic items as you run.  You might get rezzed, your items won't.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by:  a remorseful, impoverished, 2nd level elf in a loincloth