Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing a new OSR Game, Part Three: Classes

Part Three: Classes

Many months ago, I took on the challenge of writing a Tekumel game for the OSR. Now as I begin playtesting, I thought I'd share the design process.

Part One: Attributes is here.
Part Two: Skills is here.

In the Part Two, I wrote that what the system lacked was how to emulate the specialization of the classes into combat and magic types, and how to tie skills into the classes.

Classes

Also mentioned in the previous post were the Professional skills for the classes. In EPT, there are three classes: Warrior, Magic User, and Priest. These were translations of the OD&D classes: Fighter, Magic User, and Cleric. The only problem is that the Priest class, able to wield weapons and cast spells, doesn't emulate how things work on Tekumel. The Tsolyani society, where most characters start, is very conservative, and thinks that the proper way things are done is to stick to one thing, whether weapons or magic. Social pressure to not blend them in pretty strong. Once you take weapons away from Priests, then Priests are just Magic Users with a few languages. So I collapsed the Priest class into the Magic User class and stuck with the OD&D name of Fighter for the Warrior. 

When you look at the Professional skills in EPT, you see how Professor Barker tied skills to classes. The Professional skills of the Warrior are all weapons and military knowledge and those of the Magic User are all spells. So looking at the skills, I thought an sensible way to go would be to divide the skills into categories, such as Knowledge or Weapon skills. Then, if I required Fighters to take Weapon skills and prohibited them from taking spells, and if I required Magic Users to take spells and restricted them from taking weapons, the balance of the old classes would remain. 

So, now each class has a preferred set of skill categories, a set of prohibited skill categories, and a set of skills that are restricted in some way. By requiring players to spend half their skill points on preferred skills, a decent selection of skills related to one's class as well as skills to round out the character can be taken. 

I added another class to capture all other character types, borrowing from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, an OSR game based off of the B/X edition of D&D -- the Specialist. This class cannot take spells or much in the way of weapons, but they can take any of the other skills and be expert in them, if they wish. This is where bureaucrats, tomb robbers, clan elders, and other character types come into the mix. This is also useful for priests that don't use magic, such as historians, language experts, and administrators.

A New Class

While reading The Tekumel Sourcebook, I noticed a sentence that lead to a new character class.

"Nobles and the wealthy are welcome to play at learning both sorcery and physical combat if they wish, of course, but it is axiomatic that the dilettante can never achieve the level of the true professional."  -- Swords and Glory, Volume I, The Tekumel Sourcebook, p, 117.

Thus was the Dilettante Class inspired. The rich can afford to hire whatever tutors they want; what they lose is the ability to take Expert level skills in weapons or magic, and they are limited to easy 1-point spells. Their prime requisite is Appearance, since having a coterie of sycophants is perfect for the true Dilettante, and they get a +1 reaction bonus on top of their APP Mod. They can also take the Expert level of social skills and they have access to large sums of money. Just the kind of character to go on well-funded expeditions.

Finishing Off the Classes

Each class also gets a few special abilities to them fill out. Fighters can take extra attacks if they vanquish a foe, and Magic Users can sense magic if they look for it. All classes have a domain special ability when they reach 9th level: a fiefdom for Fighters, a wizard's tower for Magic Users, clan elder or a government post for Specialists, and an inheritance for Dilettantes.

Also, since one of the traditional ways Tekumel has been played is to have all the players start as uncivilized barbarians, so the characters are as clueless about Tsolyani society as new players are. To build tribal barbarians into character creation, each class has a Tribal variant. The Tribal Fighter gets an extra set of exotic weapons to choose from, such as bolas and blowguns, the Tribal Magic User (AKA Shaman) has a few extra spells to choose from, and all the non-preferred skills are taken from a Tribal Support skills group.

So with no further ado, I present the Heroic Age: Tekumel classes.


Fighter Class

Fighters can be legionaries or other military personnel, bodyguards, temple guards, city guards, barbarians, and gladiators. They can wear any armor and wield any weapons they have the skills for.


Fighter Skills

Preferred: Weapon, Soldier, and Military skill groups.
Restricted: Fighters can only take Military skills at Level 5+.
Prohibited: Spell and Spellcaster skill groups.


Fighter Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Fighters gain a +2 on saving throws against poisons and paralysis.
Follow Through: If a fighter defeats an opponent (unconscious or dead), they can take one step and attack again. Warriors can attack as many opponents in one round as their Level.
All-Out Defense: Fighters can fight on the defensive, parrying enemy blows and dodging attacks instead of attacking. When completely on the defensive, the Fighter adds +4 to their AC on all attacks coming their way.
Weapon Master: Fighters can take an Expert skill level in one or more particular weapons, becoming a master of the chosen weapon. This gives the Fighter the option of adding +2 to their attack roll, +2 to their damage roll, or +2 to their Armor Class at the time of combat.
Fiefdom (9th Level): At 9th Level, a Fighter may receive a fief from a king or his clan. They may also gather soldiers and advisors.


Fighter Experience Table

Level
Fighting
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1d8
0-2000
2
2
2d8
2001-4000
3
3
3d8
4001-8000
4
4
4d8
8001-1600
5
5
5d8
16001-32000
6
6
6d8
32001-64000
7
7
7d8
64001-125000
8
8
8d8
125001-250000
9
9
9d8
250001-375,000
10
10
9d8+2
375,001-500,000

Each additional Level requires 125,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +2 per Level.

Tribal Warriors add Tribal Weapon Skills to their Preferred skill groups, but all non-Preferred skills must be from the Tribal Support Skills group.

Magic User Class

Magic Users study magic in all of its forms. They can cast great spells that can heal or kill. Anyone who casts spells is considered a Magic User. 

Magic Users can wear any armor, but casting spells requires freedom of movement. A spellcaster cannot cast spells when carrying a shield or wearing more than leather armor—a maximum AC of 14 before adding the DEX Mod. This does not mean that a Magic User cannot wield a shield, but must remove the shield before any before spell casting commences.

Magic User Skills

Preferred: Spell and Spellcaster skill groups.
Restricted: Magic Users can only take 1-point spells at 1st and 2nd Level, 2-point spells at 3rd and 4th Level, and 3-point spells at Level 5+, and they can only take Spellcaster skills at Level 5+. They can only take Dagger and Staff weapon skills (see Magic User Restrictions below).
Prohibited: Soldier and Military skill groups.

Magic User Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Magic Users gain a +2 on saving throws against spells and magic devices.
Magic Sense: Similar to finding secret doors, spellcasters have a chance of noticing magical auras and spell casting within 10 feet if they spend a turn looking. Roll a d6—a 1-2 result gives the spellcaster general information about the presence of magic or spell casting. To get more detailed information, the spellcaster will need to cast a Detect Magic spell.
Spell Recognition: A Magic User can recognize the gestures and incantations of spells they know from their own school of magic. They also get a spell roll to recognize a similar spell (same base spell) from another school of magic. For instance, an opponent is casting Sparks of the Sun, a customized Magic Missile spell, and the target knows Bumblebee Dart, another Magic Missile spell, so they get a spell roll to recognize what their enemy is casting before the spell is finished, giving them a chance to dispel it.
Spell Master: Spellcasters can take a second level in one or more particular spells, becoming a master of that chosen spell.  This gives the Magic User the option of adding +2 to the spell roll, +2 to the saving throw difficulty, or +2 to the damage roll (for spells that do damage).
Wizard's Tower (9th Level): At 9th Level, a magic user can build a stronghold to contain the necessary libraries and laboratories required by a high Level mage. Such a powerful sorcerer will attract a mixed bag of mercenaries, strange servants (some with odd abilities and deformities from experimentation), and perhaps even a few monsters. In general, such an edifice will encompass a small territory around the tower as well—whatever quantity of wilderness the Magic-User chooses to tame and protect.

Magic User Experience Table                                                                                                                                               

Level
Combat
Level
Spell
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1
1d4
0-2000
2
1
2
2d4
2001-4000
3
1
3
3d4
4001-8000
4
2
4
4d4
8001-16000
5
2
5
5d4
16001-32000
6
2
6
6d4
32001-64000
7
3
7
7d4
64001-125000
8
3
8
8d4
125000-250000
9
3
9
9d4
250001-375000
10
3
9
9d4+1
375001-500000

Each additional Level requires 125,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per Level.

Tribal Shaman must take all non-Preferred skills from the Tribal Support Skills group. They also have access to any special Shaman-only spells.


Dilettante Class

Dilettantes are the scions of the rich and powerful families and clans of very high status. They are rich enough to pay whatever tutors they want, to teach them whatever they want; but dilettantes are dabblers—they never learn anything in depth. The Dilettante is the only class that has access to weapons as well as spells.

Dilettante Skills

Preferred: Weapon, Soldier, Spell, and Social skill groups.
Restricted: Dilettantes can only take 1-point spells.
Prohibited: Military and Spellcaster skill groups.

Dilettante Special Abilities

Reaction Bonus: Dilettantes get a +1 on reaction rolls, due to their social graces.
Resources: The Dilettante has money at their fingertips, provided by their wealthy clans or families. Their servants can buy most anything that can be bought, and they know where to get them -- though the Dilettante is unlikely to know such mundane details. Dilettantes also receive double starting cash.
Social Mastery: Dilettantes can take a second level in one or more particular social skills, thus becoming an expert of the field. This gives the Dilettante a +2 to their skill roll.
Inheritance (9th Level): At 9th Level, a Dilettante may receive a fief or estate from the kingdom or his clan. This will attract sycophants and groupies to the Dilettante—and after that, the party never ends.


Dilettante Experience Table

Level
Combat
Level
Spell
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1
1d6
0-2500
2
1
1
2d6
2501-5000
3
2
2
3d6
5001-10000
4
2
2
4d6
10,001-20000
5
3
3
5d6
20001-40000
6
4
4
7d6
80001-160000
8
4
4
8d6
160000-320000
9
5
5
9d6
320001-480000
10
5
5
9d6+1
480001-640000

Each additional Level requires 160,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per level.

There are no tribal Dilettantes.


Specialist Class

Specialists fill all the other roles within society. Government officials, clan leaders, craftsmen, laborers, thieves, and any other occupation within the empire.

Specialist Skills

Preferred: All skill groups, except Weapon, Soldier, Military, Spell, and Spellcaster.
Restricted: Specialists can take up to two Weapon skills.
Prohibited: Soldier, Military, Spell, and Spellcaster skill groups.

Specialist Special Abilities

Saving Throw Bonus: Specialists gain a +2 on saving throws against Breath Weapons and Area Effects.
Skill Mastery: Specialists can take Expert level skills in all categories, except Weapons, Soldier, Military, Spells, or Spellcaster groups.
Clan Elder or Imperial Post (9th Level): At 9th Level, the Specialist can become a clan elder or be granted an Imperial post.

Specialist Experience Level Table

Level
Combat
Level
Hit Dice
Experience
1
1
1d6
0-1,500
2
1
2d6
1,501-3,000
3
1
3d6
3,001-6,000
4
2
4d6
6,001-12,000
5
2
5d6
12,001-24,000
6
2
6d6
24,001-48,000
7
3
7d6
48,001-100,000
8
3
8d6
100,001-200,000
9
3
9d6
200,001-300,000
10
3
9d6+1
300,001-400,000

Each additional Level requires 100,000 experience points more than the last. The Hit Dice go up by +1 per level after level 9.

Tribal Specialists use Tribal Support Skills as their Preferred skill group.