Category Archives: Touch of Class

The Gambler | a ‘bolt on’ class for the daring-do classes; a class heavily influenced by Luck & Superstitions

Edit: A .pdf version can be found here: Link
and a template Hex Flower Engine can be found here: Template


Lucky 1.pngThe Gambler 
The Gambler is a person ruled by fates, omens and fortunes. They perceive everything through the lens of luck and chance. For a Gambler, everything happens for a reason. For a Gambler Luck: is as real as a baked potato; is cat-fickle and has a mood; is flattered by rituals and appeased by signs; is consistently unpredictable; is offended and implacable; is passionately for or against you; is never fair; is dangerous to define; is like your best friend’s lover.


Class restrictions
This bolt-on class is open to persons of physical dare-do, i.e. fighters or thieves.

Current Luck State
Every session roll 2D6 using the navigation Hex (see below) to determine the Gambler’s current Luck State (LS). The new LS Hex is determined by moving from the current LS Hex to the new LS Hex in the 2D6 navigation direction. LS is also determined if the player rolls a ‘crit’ or ‘fumble’; there’s a gamble, or if anything unusual/significant happens in the game (i.e. there is a shift in the fates).

Hex Flower Engine:

Gambler HFGambler HF Key

Luck Points
When the Gambler levels up, they gain ‘Luck Points’ (LPs) equivalent to the PC’s level (so 5 LPs a gained upon attaining 5th level); any previously hoarded LPs are lost; and they may exchange their current LS Hex for Hex 10. LPs are used to help change the outcome of the 2D6 navigation roll, hence the current Luck State. That is, after the 2D6 navigation roll is made, the player must decide if they are going to spend any LPs, to lock in the current Luck State. Spending LPs moves the 2D6 navigation direction by 1 face per LP spent. So, spending 3 LPs would in effect reverse the navigation direction. Halflings get +1 LP per level, but must take on an extra superstition at first level.

Each level the Gambler acquires a new superstition, e.g. three at 3rd level. Preferably, the superstition should be based on an event that happened during the levelling up period. Each superstition should be significant and indexed to character level, and hence should be more onerous than the last. DM input may be required here.
Breaking a superstition – all LPs are lost. If LPs are already at zero, then move to Hex 1.

If you’ve got no idea what this post is about, the below links give some context:

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea.

Infiltrator | … basically a spy ‘bolt-on’ class

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This class was written in response to +Ivan Sorensen “A Touch of Class” write a class competition with a ‘Infiltrator’ as the theme. Four people submitted something (.pdf here). Mine’s below:

InfiltratorAD&D ‘bolt-on’ class (other D&D flavours might work)
InfiltInfiltrators specialise in getting into secure locations without being noticed, and in obtaining sensitive information. An Infiltrator is not a standalone class, but is a specialisation open to the base classes, a bolt-on if you will. The specialism comes with some abilities, but at a cost to the base class.

Only humans and half-humans can be Infiltrators.

Any lawful alignment

Base class
Infiltrators can be any base class (i.e. no sub-classes like ranger, paladin, assassin or druid etc., or any dual or multi-classing) i.e. open to fighter, thief, cleric or magic user, which is permitted by their race/alignment. All limitations of the base class apply.

Ability score requirements
In addition to the minimum ability score needed by the base class, they must have a charisma score (CHR) of 14+. However, this high charisma is downplayed and concealed by the Infiltrator until/when it is needed.

Hit points
The hit dice of the character are generally downgraded by one die size for each of the base classes, i.e. fighters use a D8, clerics, thieves use D6 and magic users use a D4+1. Magic users are more hardy that normal, due to rigorous screening process of the Order (see Backstory below)

Spell casting is diminished. The spell caster gets the spell set one level below their actual level (but not lower than level 1). So a 5th level cleric gets spells normally obtainable by a 4th level cleric. This is because time is needed to hone their other skills.

Special Skills
Non-thief Infiltrators gain the following thief skills:

:- open locks
:- move silently
:- hide in shadows
:- hear noises

and all at a level matching the level of their base class. Thieves also have the above skills, but the remaining skills (i.e. ‘pick pockets’, ‘find and remove traps’, ‘climb walls’ and ‘read languages’) are at half the normal value.

In addition, all Infiltrators get the following abilities:

:- Shadow (equivalent score to the ‘pick pockets’ score of a thief of the same level) – ability to follow a target person without attracting attention or suspicion

:- Pass checkpoint (equivalent score to the ‘find and remove traps’ score) – ability to pass routine security-type checks, by bluff, intimidation, flattery, distraction, or other means

:- Fit in (equivalent score to the ‘climb walls’ score) – ability to naturally ‘fit in’ to their surroundings, be it a social function, strutting through the city barrack or just quietly sitting by the docks fishing. That is, they can adopt mannerisms that make them appear to naturally belong in that location/environment

:- Disguise (equivalent score to read languages score) – with adequate preparation, have the ability to prepare a convincing disguise. The disguise can fool anyone taking only a cursory inspection of the character. For example, a bowing chamber maid could mistake the character for the Lord of the keep, even at close range. However, a disguise would not fool the Lord’s daughter wishing to speak with her father

Swapping genders lowers the ability score by half. For each inch in height the character wishes to appear above (or below) their normal height, a -5% modifier applies.

Infiltrators belong to a shady organisation of Information Merchants call The Order.

The Order is an organisation that has Chapters in most capital cities. Run by grey men who accept gold for information and secrets. Kings, merchants, and even jealous wives call in at their opulent halls. The Order’s clients are a closely guarded secret. Apart from that, little is known about the Order.

The Order find, save or even abduct stray youths. Youths that will not be missed by anyone.

Most of these youths fail a rigorous screening process, and find themselves working their lives away in various projects, usually rural farms, owned by the Order.

However, a small percentage of those youths are diamonds in the rough. They are selected, polished and honed into the principle organs of the Order. That is, those that pass the stringent vetting process become the Order’s ‘Infiltrators’. The Order prefer the term ‘Investment’.

Only the most loyal and dedicated youths are trained as ‘Infiltrators’. Once their core training is done, they are released into the outside world. Some are simply given a sword a shield and a purse of gold. Others find themselves with a letter of introduction to a mages’ towers, or to a temple of a lawful Deity.

From that point on, the fledgling Infiltrators strive to achieve power and mastery in their adopted field. Fighters often find themselves in the city guard, or in positions of power in armies. Clerics, the healers to the royal court. Many simply become free-booters, honing their skills through adventure. These adventures being able to move freely in the world without question. These drifters are amongst the most useful ‘Investments’ that the Order can call on.

No matter their chosen field of pursuit (i.e. their base class), the Infiltrator always awaits the call of the Order, should they be needed (some never are). The Infiltrator will see no conflict in acting for the Order, even to the detriment of their chosen profession. Where possible, the Order try to avoid outright personal conflicts. That said, the Order accepts no betrayal, and has a team of ‘Sleepers’ used to ‘extinguish’ Infiltrators gone ”wild”.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea.

Shaman | fighting wild-men with woods magic

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

1 to 4Background:
This class stems from a fleeting idea that I put up on G+; the idea of a shaman class that could take on characteristics/abilities from defeated foes. I had some good feedback, some based on ‘feats’. I can see how feats could work well with this idea, but feat-based systems are not really my thing, so I’ve made this. I wonder if I’ve strayed too far from the core idea, but in any event, this where the idea has led me.

This is a class designed for (1e) AD&D, being a fighting wild-men/women with woods magic. They are not so much in harmony with nature as attuned to it. They are effectively a martial subclass of druid, or possibly a barbarian-druid.

This class follows the druid path/restriction in the first edition PHB in all ways except:

  • The class is also open to half-humans (i.e. in addition to humans)
  • For those that believe in Demi-human level caps (like me) – Half humans are level capped at a level equal to their CHA score.
  • Instead of 15+ CHA they need 15 +CON to qualify (i.e. in addition to 12 Wisdom)
  • The druidic special abilities at 3rd and 7th level do not apply
  • There is no hierarchical level limit, and so no need to defeat a shaman of higher level to progress.
  • 12 HD (i.e. not 8HD)

They gain spells at the same rate as a druid, but they get a much smaller subset of the druidical spells to choose from (see tables below) :

There are four principle shamanic paths, each with an associated alignment restriction; these are:

  • Light & Leaf – Plant & Weather magics; alignment NG
  • Mud & Paw – Animal & Earth magics; alignment CN
  • Wet & Ash – Fire & Water magics; alignment NE
  • Blood & Mind – Life & Perception magic; alignment LN

Once the path is picked, it is set.

Shamanistic ability
At each level this class may absorb a race/species specific ability from a defeated foe.

Examples of the abilities that may be taken up by a shaman include: night/dark vision, acute sense of smell, water breathing, a venomous bite, a bear’s powerful hug, a rust monster’s corroding touch, a velociraptor’s talons etc.

Mechanic: The player must declare this ability acquisition shortly after the creature is defeated. Once the ability is taken up by the shaman it can’t be changed. If no ability is taken prior to formal levelling up, that ability slot is lost.

Clearly, there is a chance for some serious game breaking here, by overpowering the PC. Therefore, the gained ability should be approved/agreed by the DM, and ideally be level/challenge appropriate. Essentially, it should be a fair reward, without breaking the game,

As a suggested guideline, the shaman can absorb an ability from any defeated creature which has a HD up to their current shamanistic level +3. So, a 2nd level shaman can absorb an ability from creatures up to 5HD, and a 6th level shaman can absorb an ability from creatures up to 9HD, etc. Also, the ‘defeated’ creature cannot be a trivial creature like a goldfish or slug.

For example, a first level shaman does not have the shamanistic strength to adsorb a fire breathing property from an ancient red dragon, or at least at its full potency. Or, if the defeated creature is trivial, then there is insufficient property to be adsorb by the shaman. For example, killing a gecko would not give the shaman a climb wall ability. But a giant gecko is a different matter. Similarly, killing a stirge might give the ability to deploy a bloodsucking proboscis for a round or two, but not the ability to fly.

Clearly this is not a class to give to a ‘power gamer’.

Using the shamanistic ability:
Each acquired shamanistic ability is like a Vancian spell, so each acquired ability is regenerated at the same time the Shaman regains their spells, i.e. after 8 hrs rest.  So, a third level shaman might have three shamanistic abilities, e.g. climb like an ape, punch like an ogre and blink like a blink dog once per day. However, each time they use an ability, this is at the cost of one of their spell slots. So, if the Shaman has cast all of their spells that day, they cannot use any of the shamanistic abilities until they rest.

Shaman spells paths:
Below are the spells allowable under the four shaman paths:

Path of Light & Leaf – Plant & Weather magics; alignment NG

Path of Mud & Paw – Animal & Earth magics; alignment CN

Path of Wet & Ash – Fire & Water magics; alignment NE

Path of Blood & Mind – Life & Perception magic; alignment LN


Class Balance
Hopefully this class is appealing without being super appealing (as this implies it is overpowered). Ideally, apart from raw novelty, hopefully this class is no more appealing than any other class in the PHB.

The druidic powers are nerfed somewhat by lack of spell choice, but is buffed again a bit by a customizable ‘shamanistic’ monster property per level. The paths with the more aggressive spells, (or most clerical-like spells), have the fewest spell options. The most aggressive spell path also gives an evil alignment, which is not always appealing. The class  benefits from a high base HD (i.e. D12), but has the less-that-great weapon/armour choices of a druid, and fights as a druid. Therefore, it can soak up damage, but is not as good as a fighter at dealing damage out.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea.

Tuesday Toot!! | Wereman – Lycanthrope Hunter

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This class was written in response to +Ivan Sorensen “Write a Class Competition” with a ‘Werewolf Hunter’ as the theme. About 4 or 5 people submitted something. It’s more of a bolt-on class than a stand alone class. I beleive a .pdf came out, but is perhaps trapped on a Google Drive somewhere!?

:: Wereman – Lycanthrope Hunter

WeremanAbout one in a hundred people cured of lycanthropy still harbour the menace within them, albeit in a semi-benign form.

Such individuals often become lycanthrope hunters due to the innate abilities they harbour as a result of their cured lycanthropy.

These rare individuals are known as ‘Weremen’ (irrespective of their gender). Weremen are driven to eradicate lycanthropy in all its forms. In particular, they seek the kind of lycanthrope that originally infected them.

Weremen are often on the move, because they fear that if they stay in one place they could be mistaken for true lycanthropes. Weremen, thus often resort to adventure to earn a living (if they were not already so prior to the infection). Such adventures maybe any character class, although usually fighters or clerics.

Weremen are invariably chaotic good, but other non-evil alignments are possible.

Special Abilities

:: Weremen are immune to the same strain of lycanthropy they were cured of, and have a 75% chance to resist other forms of lycanthropy.

:: Like true lycanthropes, they can shape change into their animal form. This can be done at will once a day, but only during daylight hours. They will have the same HPs as they had before the change, but otherwise they have the same abilities as their animal form (see Monster Manual pages 63-64), with the exception of alignment, immunity to non-magic weapons, and being able to speak the lycanthrope languages.

:: As an unfortunate remnant of their past lycanthropy, during a full eclipse, the Wereman losses control of the beast within and they revert back to their bestial form for 24 hrs. Wereman, for obvious reasons, are very superstitious about celestial events, comets and even country folk sayings about the weather.

:: Wereman have the ability to sense Lycanthropes with 100 ft (even in their unchanged form). For example, the scars from their original infection may begin to itch then burn. However, the lycanthrope will also sense him/her in return. If the lycanthrope has never met a Wereman before, they will invariably think he/she is another lycanthrope, and may approach the Wereman out of curiosity. This is the best chance for the Wereman to identify or even slay the beast.

:: Wereman have an affliction that causes precious metals that they touch with bare skin to debase. Platinum is turned to gold, gold to silver and silver to lead. The change can be slow, but visible to the naked eye. However, silver to lead happens particularly fast. Copper, iron, steel etc are unaffected. Weremen, therefore, invariably were gloves and avoid touching coins with their barehands. Silver weapons are treated especially carefully. They prefer payment in copper, gems or in kind.

:: Belladonna is a powerful intoxicant causing a Wereman to become highly stimulated. Consuming belladonna gives a Wereman +1 hit and +2 on damage for one hour.

On the downside, belladonna is highly addictive to a Wereman. If used twice (or more) in one month it causes incessant craving for more. The craving lasts 7 days from the last use. In the 7 day craving window the use of belladonna gives no bonus and resets the 7 day craving window. Worse, if the craving is not fed each day in the 7 day craving window, there is a – 1 to hit due to withdrawal.

The only way to break the belladonna craving is to go 7 days without it. To do this the Wereman must make a wisdom save each day, else they have near irresistible urge to find and consume belladonna.

:: Domestic animals are uneasy around Weremen. Dogs and cats can be unusually aggressive although rarely attack. Horses, unless drunk, typically need at least a week to accept a Wereman as a rider.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

Shire Runner | a Halfing woodsman

SR mini
The Shire Runner is kind of Halfling woodsman designed for AD&D, being closest to the Ranger class in nature, with some early low level spell casting abilities.

Magic is something that most Halflings are not comfortable with, so invariably Shire Runners tend to live on the margins/outskirts of Halfling society. Shire runners are often self-appointing boarder watchmen/guardians. They generally track and keep undesirables out of the places where Halflings dwell

This class is open to Halflings only. These Halflings are thought to have strong vein brownie/pixie blood in them, thought to give rise to their magical potency. Shire runners are nearly exclusively from the Tall Fellow sub-race, and unusually for Halflings, prefer to live above ground. They often have red hair. Halfling race abilities/restriction/modifiers apply (e.g. see Players Handbook (PHB), page 17), except as highlighter further below.

Class abilities
By default, everything applying to the Ranger class (see PHB, pages 24 to 25) applies to this class (e.g. qualifying statistics, attacks, saving throws, weapon selection, XP for level progression), except:

  • They have a D6 hit dice (optionally, the DM might permit two HD at first level, i.e. like the Ranger class)
  • Level Limit is 7th level (8th level if charisma is 15 or above)
  • Armour restrictions like the Druid class (i.e. leather armor and wooden shields, see PHB, page 21), that is, if they wish to cast any spells
  • Druid-like leveling abilities, i.e. at 3rd and 7th level (see page 21 of the PHB, to see in full); and not the Ranger leveling abilities (i.e. as listed as 1 to 7 on page 24 of PHB), e.g.:

3rd level – identify woodland plants; identify woodland animals; identify clean water; move without trace in the woodland areas

7th level – immune to charm spells cast by woodland creatures; and change form three times a day to a woodland or domestic mammal (e.g. vole, cat, otter, wolf, or horse)

  • They are also exceptionally good outdoor trackers.

This class has some spell casting abilities. At 1st level they can cast a single 1st level Druid spell. Upon attaining 2nd level, the Shire Runner has two progression paths open to them. Either to become a ‘Woodsman‘ or ‘Rambler‘ (see below). The path once chosen cannot be changed.

Woodsmanfor those that love the wilds and woods – use the paladin spell table on page 24 of the PHB, but where these spells equate to Druidic spells (i.e. not clerical spells), and where spells are gained starting at 1st (and not 9th) level (see below):

Number of Druidic spells per spell level

Druidic spell level
Character Level 1 2 3 4
1 1
2 2
3 2 1
4 2 2
5 2 2 1
6 3 2 1
7 3 2 1 1
8 3 3 1 1

So at 7th level the character has 7 druidic spells.

Rambler is for those that like to venture beyond the wilds – use the Ranger spell table on page 25 of the PHB, but where spells (Druid and then magic-user) are gained starting at 1st (and not 8th) level (see below):

Number of Druidic and Magic-User spells per spell level

Druidic spell level   Magic-user spell level*
Character Level 1 2   1 2
1 1
2 1 1
3 2 1
4 2 2
5 2 1 2
6 2 1 2 1
7 2 2 2 1
8 2 2 2 2

*  = For magic-user spells, the character must check as to which spells they can learn, just as if they were a magic-user.

So at 7th level the character has 4 druidic spells and 3 magic-user spells.

When it comes to spell casting, it can be seen that the Rambler is more of a generalist compared to the Woodsman, so the Rambler get more variety of spells, but these are less powerful.

The Woodsman (path) must be LN, tN or CN alignment. The Rambler (path) may be any alignment except tN. It is very rare for them to be evil, though a bit more common in those that choose a life of ‘adventure’.

Level titles

Level Level Title XPs
1 Scrumper 0 – 2,250
2 Hedgeman 2,251 – 4,500
3 Boarderman 4,501 – 10,000
4 Fell Watchman 10,001 – 20,000
5 Leaf Master 20,001 – 40,0000
6 Sheriff 40,001 – 90,000
7 Glade Runner 90,001 – 150,000
8 Shireman 150,001+

Weapon – Bow Staff
Shire Runners are specialist with the staff and get double attacks with staff (or spear) when faced with more than one foe. Usually, they notch their staffs at each end, and can string the staff to form a bow (performing like a composite short bow).

Thanks to Marcin S for use of the art. 

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

Tuesday Toot!! | Catabolyist (Ketomancer | Crumble Wizard)

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This class variant is not going to appeal to a power gamer. Instead it might appeal to calculating players that like the flexibility of the class, and  to risk taking player who might like to gabble with their PC’s skin (literally). This class was never finalized (and needs a re-write); but this is essentially where it was left at on G+ sometime in early 2018. Thanks to K Yani for useful discussion back then.

:: Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard)

Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard)These magic users pay for their power in sinew, cell and soul. They squeeze their body, pith and marrow like an alchemical battery.

With mastery, the Catabolyist can trim and tap the body and psyche of those parts that will renew themselves in time. Sometimes, the Catabolyist wagers too much, drink too deep or clumsily, they irreplaceably strip the body of their nonrenewable ‘sauce’, and they pay the price, to which lurches them ever grave-wards.

To watch a Catabolyist fail in their magic is ugly. Like the touch of a ghost, their hair enwhitens, sloughs off, eyes sink, yellow and cloud, teeth fall out in the half and quarter score, liver spots erupt and spread like brown puddles, capillaries suffuse their face in fans, hands curl into arthritic claws. In short, the Catabolyist lurches forward in time by years in broken seconds. Death’s embrace is all but a missed spell away.

The Catabolyist secrets are their own. Some think their magics taps into the primitive magic of Life itself. Others think they have made a pact with a Supernatural for power, pawning their souls one lot at a time; in the end, it’s said the pawn shop always tricks the profit.

No matter what, one thing holds true, a Catabolyist’s body is their temple. Not all are evil, but chaos is the constant.

Catabolyists are greatly attracted to anything that extends life or rejuvenates.

This character class would suit a player who likes a bit of a gamble. There is no reason for the Catabolyist to risk spell failure, except for the temptation of power alone! The Catabolyist has more flexibility in casting spells, but can cast fewer spells – safely.

:: Rules for AD&D ::

:: Magic User subclass – Catabolyist are treated and act as magic users, except in the ways detailed below.

:: Race – anyone willing to pay in bone, body, spit and blood can access this primitive magic power. As a rule, this excludes the fair races, like those carrying elven, halfling or gnomish blood. This is a field of magic that Dwarves value, imbuing their life and brawn into forged weapons.

:: Alignment – chaotic of any stripe.

:: Prime Attributes – while Intelligence is important, Constitution is a Catabolyist’s prime requisite. They require at least 14 CON and 9 INT to qualify for the class.

:: Hit dice – D6 (not D4); its practitioners are desirous to be hearty and hale. Time spent in exercise and calisthenics, with less time spent with a nose in a book!

:: Learning spells – Catabolyist learn spells like any other magic user. However, they do not carry spell books and do not need to memorize spells to cast them. Once learnt, the spells are knitted into their fibre and pulp. For the same reason, they do not need spell components (i.e. they are their spell components). For at least this reason other magic users loath them, thinking them heretic. The %chance of learning a spell and the minimum/maximum number of spells (coming from intelligence) still apply to Catabolyist magic users.

:: Spell limits – no matter the Catabolyist’s level, they can cast magic user spells of any level, and can cast these spells as many times as they like … EXCEPT

:: Spell failure – each time they cast a spell, there is a chance of failure (see Table 1), and if they fail there is the possibility they will unnaturally age (see Table 2); at some point this could be unto death. After spell failure, they must rest (e.g. 8 hrs sleep) for their body to recharge and to be fit to cast spells again.

%Spell failure – {ed. see the table. If you like maths read on} … is equal to the square of the spell levels that they have cast that day (i.e. since resting) MINUS the square of the PC’s level. But this value is never greater than 95%. Spell failure testing is done after completion of the casting of the spell. Below is a Table doing the maths, and rounded to fit a D20 target number. From the Table, it is apparent that the Catabolyist has a safe zone where there is no risk of spell failure, a wise Catabolyist stays within its bounds. This number is equal to the PC’s level.

:: Save vs ageing – When/if a spell fails, the Catabolyist has the chance to recover the botched spell, to draw back the magics into their body, recovering it before it is lost forever. Failing the save leads to lost vitality and ageing (see next).

%Chance of Ageing – {ed. see the table. If you like maths read on …} is to: 100% – (5 x PC level). So a 2nd level Catabolyist will age 90% of the time (100 – 2×5 = 90%), and a 10th level Catabolyist will age only 50% of the time. The chance is never lower than 5%. Again, the Table below does the maths. It is reiterated that spell failure ends the ability of the Catabolyist to cast spells until a rest is taken (e.g. 8 hrs sleep).

Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard) SAVES

:: Age/Ageing – the Catabolyist’s ‘SSS’ score (derived from CON) defines the Catabolyist’s remaining life span as a percentage. For example a 14 CON gives a SSS of 88%. So the Catabolyist has used about 12% of his natural life up to date (probably through natural aging) and has 88% life left. When the Catabolyist fails to save vs ageing, the SSS score is lowered by the total number of spell levels that the PC had cast that day. The Catabolyist’s CON score is changed to match the current SSS score. When their SSS is zero, the Catabolyist crumples dying of old age.

:: SSS and Levelling – the Catabolyist gains some SSS back when levels are gained. Roll a die (or best approximate to) equal to the PC’s new level, i.e. if attainting 6th level, the Catabolyist gains D6 SSS points. This may result in a corresponding increase in the PC’s CON score.

:: Example 1 ::

A 7th level Catabolyist casts a 4th level spell (after already successfully casting a 2nd and 1st level spell in that day), so the total number of spell levels cast in the day is = (2 + 1 + 4) = 7.

Using Table 1 (and glossing over the maths) it is apparent that a 7th level Catabolyist can cast up to 7 levels of spell levels in one day (prior to rest) without needing to make any check.

:: Example 2 ::

Next, in dire need, the same Catabolyist decides to cast a 2nd level spell (without resting). Now the total number of spell levels cast that day is (2 + 1 + 4 + 2) = 9.

Again, glossing over the maths and using the Table, this gives a target number of 7 (or above) on a D20 to avoid spell failure. A D20 is rolled and a 4 comes up, and so the spell fails (she also can cast no more spells until she rests).

Next, does the Catabolyist age as a result of the botched spell? With reference to Table 2, it can be seen that a 7th level Catabolyist has a target number of 14 (or above) to avoid ageing.

A 12 is rolled and she is wracked in pain and sorrow. Her SSS score is decreased by 9 (the total of the spell levels cast that day). Her SSS score of 88 is now 79. She only has 79% of her life reaming to be lived! And her CON drops from 14 to 11 (see page 12 of the PHB).

:: Power Creep ::

Power creep

How does the Catabolyist stack up against a ‘standard’ AD&D magic user. They start about even (albeit the Catabolyist can gamble life for spells) having free acess to the same number of ‘total spell levels’. Later the AD&D magic user get far more spells hence more ‘total spell levels’; but they must memorise these, whereas a fewer apt spells might be useful. Consider a falling 20th level magic user who know 162 levels worth of spells but who has not memorized the feather fall spell, they may well be dead; but the Catabolyist will live on to see another day despite having fewer overall spells to cast.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

Tuesday Toot!! | Augur Dwarf

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

:: Augur Dwarf ::

augur dwarf (npc class)Summary
A venerated niche-class of dwarf. They have enhance underground skills especially (precious) metal detection.

Plot Hook
Raid into the Augurary

Augurs shave their beards. This visually sets them apart from normal dwarven society.

Augur Apprentices are permitted to shave their top lips, whereas Augur Masters are completely clean shaven. There are serveral tiers between Apprentice and Master, each tier having a beard type which reflects their status.

Augurs tend to be less muscular than normal dwarves, as they do not handle metal and do little manual labour.

Society – clanless
Augurs are little known outside dwarven society. Indeed, they are somewhat of a secret, and when seen by outsiders, they are often mistaken for gnomes.

Augurs are revered in dwarven society, but are outside of the usual clan structures. Beard shaving emblematic of their separation.

In youth, when their special skills are first spotted, Augurs must forgo their clan and travel to secret locations (Augurary) to train as an Augur. As they progress in skill, they travel to ever more secret centres to continue their training.

Partly this is done to isolate Augurs from metals, which can interfere with their metal-sense. The other part being that Augurs guard their secrets well and their wealth better.

The initial testing involves asking a youth to locate a gold coin hidden under one of 5 cups, usually the test is repeated 5 times. If they can meet the task (a very rare occurrence), they can keep the coin. Within the next year a summons to the clan chief sees them on their way to the first of the Augur Schools.

Those that have a weak talent or fail to progress in skill, usually enter into the armed Augur Guard, or become servants. Augurs like lucky dwarves, and so those that fluked the test are usually trained as recruiters.

Augur Guardsman are rarely released from service, but being unable to return to their clans, often become adventures. They progress like fighters but with some basic metal detecting skills (bit like a Locate Object spell, but for concentrations of metals). However, to make use of this skill they must have armour and weapons that are free of metal, e.g. bone or stone axes and leather armour.

IMG_8490The Augurs earn a good living by getting commissions from detecting seams of precious metals. Masters Augurs can earn huge commission when discovering such seams. The more valuable the metal, the more the commission they get. Most often Augurs are called in by Dwavish clans to locate new metal seams, particularly when a mine has apparently run dry. Master Augurs are few, and in great demand by dwarven leaders. Lower ranking Augurs charge less commission but have less skill.

Augur accept non-metallic payment only, e.g. gems, pearls, art, silk, ivory or other precious materials. Metal-less magic items are highly prized.

Most Augurs have skills in detecting bulk ‘base’ metals, like iron, tin, copper (even as ores). The most esteemed, and highest advancing are Augurs that can detect the ‘noblest’ metals like gold, platinum, and mithral.

Master Augurs also have high sensitivity. For example, a Master Augur could detect a thread-sized seam of mithral buried 30 feet within stone. An adept could detect a thicker seem of gold much closer to the surface e.g. 6 feet.

To make use of their talent, especially when looking for sparse and deeply buried metals, the Augur must be free of all metal distractions. Such metals interfere with their metal-senses, giving a ‘false signal’. It’s like trying to listen out for a faint sound while a lute is playing in your ear.

Augurs therefore wear clothes and carry gear free of any metal, e.g. with bone/wooden buttons/buckles etc.

The Augur Guardsman, for the reasons given above, also wear only leather armour and carry stone, wood, bone, antler or ivory weapons. To the uninitiated, they might look like primitives.

Sometimes, an Augur will need to venture into a mine alone (without distractions) to find a precious metal seam. In the wild places this can be dangerous. Augurs therefore also train in some of the thief skills (Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Hear Noise, Climb Walls), and progress as a thief sub-class (the above skills at two levels higher than their actual level).

Companion Beasts
Augurs also keep two unusual beasts, and pay high prices for both.

denzelianSometimes, if potential rewards are high, Augurs ‘scour’ the rocks of a mine with Denzelians (Fiend Folio; page 25). Denzelians eat away at the outer surface of the rocks, free metals dropping to the floor. Next the mine is swept (precious metals of course bring collected and removed). Next hungry Rust Monsters (Monster Manual I; Page 83) are sent into the mine to scavenge and feed off any leftover metal traces. Augur(s) can then scan the ‘scoured’ mine for new metal seams with less surface interference.

200px-rust_monsterRarely, Augurs act for non-dwarves, usually monarch commissions. The non-dwarves who witness their activities are deliberately left with the impression that the Denzelians are the true metal sleuths, and the beardless dwarves merely their (poor) minders/handlers. Outsiders are often too scared of Rust Monsters to ask too many questions about their use. Rust Monsters also make useful Augur ‘guard-dogs’ (always alert for metal bearing intruders).

Testing Chamber
Augurs have a special testing chamber called The Cube. There are in fact several Cubes. These comprise a platform in a cube shaped room. On the platform a cube of dense stone blocks are built up. Within the cube, blocks with seams of precious metals are inserted. Blocks joining up to form a seam of metal in the cube. The testee can walk under, over, and around the cube of stone and indeed climb its sides.  After such a scan, the testee must sketch out how the metal seam is distributed in the blocks. Finer metal seams and more dense rocks can be used to increase the challenge, to examine more advanced testees. Decoy metal seams e.g. copper seams can be added to the cube in an attempt to confuse the true metal signal being looked for. Testees only get a few chances to prove themselves.

An Augur Master must be able to detect a single thread of a noble metal (gold, or higher value metal) within a 60 foot test cube.

A novice may be tested where the metal-seam is 6 inches thick in a 10 foot test cube.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

James V West Gexit
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”
Fight on dear Gexit
(drawing by James V West)