Friday, May 29, 2020

B/X Species-Classes as Templates

I mentioned that I made these rules on the OSR Discord and somebody asked me for them so I'm formally writing them up and posting them here--this one's for you, Justin Hamilton.

So we all like separating species from class, but I don't particularly love the AD&D implementation. My goal here was to implement a way to attach species traits to characters of any class (so you could have, for instance, a dwarven Cleric or a halfling Thief) while still preserving the mechanical core of the game.

My starting point was to treat the Dwarf species-class as a dwarven Fighter, the Halfling species-class as a halfling Fighter, and the Elf species-class as either an elven Fighter or an elven M-U. After that, I extrapolated and generalized. I also made minor edits in places where I felt like the Basic rules don't make sense or are a bit too inelegant for my tastes (halfling weapon restrictions, turning the halfling's ability to hide in underbrush into a 5-in-6 instead of a 10% chance, etc...).

Here are the rules. You can append these templates onto characters of any existing class. For added fun, let people use these templates on the canon B/X species-classes so you can be a dwarven Elf or an elven Halfling (or a double-Dwarf???) 

Credit: Larry Elmore


Dwarf


XP: Dwarves require 200 extra XP points to reach 2nd level, doubling at every subsequent level in the same manner as the ordinary XP progression.

Maximum Level: Dwarves may only advance to a maximum of the 12th level of experience. The Dungeon Master may choose to waive this limitation.

Restrictions: Dwarves cannot use longbows and two-handed swords because of their short stature. Dwarves must have a minimum of 9 Constitution.

Special Abilities: Dwarves have infravision in a 60' range, and have a 2-in-6 chance to detect anomalous architecture (slanting passages, traps, shifting walls, and new construction) when looking for them.

Saving Throws: Dwarves replace their class's saving throw progression with the Dwarf/Halfling saving throw progression (see chart at the end).

Languages: In addition to the Common Tongue, their alignment language, and any bonus languages granted by their Intelligence score, dwarves are able to speak Dwarvish and the languages of gnomes, kobolds, and goblins.


Halfling


XP: No increase or decrease in XP required to level.

Maximum Level: Halflings may only advance to a maximum of the 8th level of experience. The Dungeon Master may choose to waive this limitation.

Restrictions: Halflings may only use armor, weapons, and shields that have been "cut down to size," preventing them from wielding longbows, battleaxes, two-handed swords, and pole-arms. Halflings must have a minimum of 9 Dexterity.

Saving Throws: Halflings replace their class's saving throw progression with the Dwarf/Halfling saving throw progression (see chart at the end).

Special Abilities: Halflings gain a +1 to-hit with missile weapons. They gain a -2 adjustment to AC against foes larger than woman-sized. If rolling for individual initiative, halflings gain a +1 bonus. Halflings have a 5-in-6 chance to hide with some cover in natural environments, or a 2-in-6 chance to hide with some cover in indoors environments so long as they stand still and stay quiet.


Elf


XP: Fighter, Thief, and Cleric elves require 2,000 extra XP points to reach 2nd level, doubling at every subsequent level in the same manner as the ordinary XP progression. Magic-User elves only require an extra 1,500 XP points to reach 2nd level, again doubling at every subsequent level.

Maximum Level: Elves may only advance to a maximum of the 10th level of experience. The Dungeon Master may choose to waive this limitation.

Restrictions: Elves must have a minimum of 9 Strength (if progressing as a Fighter) or 9 Intelligence (if progressing as a Magic-User).

Special Abilities: In addition to their ordinary class abilities, elves may choose to progress as either a Fighter or a Magic-User. If they choose to progress as a Fighter they gain the Fighter's to-hit/THAC0 progression, as well as the ability to use all weapons, armor, and shields. If they choose to progress as a Magic-User they gain the ability to cast spells as a Magic-User of equivalent level, with all attendant restrictions. Elven Fighters must choose to progress as Magic-Users, and elven Magic-Users must choose to progress as Fighters.

Elves have a d6 Hit Die regardless of class. Elves have infravision in a 60' range, and a 2-in-6 chance to find secret and hidden doors when looking for them. They cannot be paralyzed by the attacks of ghouls.

Language: In addition to the Common Tongue, their alignment language, and any bonus languages granted by their Intelligence score, elves are able to speak Elvish and the languages of orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls.






Turning Other Species-Classes Into Templates


Since a lot of B/X species-classes are just one of the core four classes (Fighter, Thief, Cleric, M-U) with some adjustments and restrictions, it's pretty easy to turn species-classes into species templates. To tie this in with my last post, I'll turn two of the three elf classes I made into templates (the first was just reskinning Clerics into Elves, so it doesn't exactly work here).


Iron-Averse Elves


XP: Fighter, Thief, & Cleric elves require an extra 800 XP points to reach 2nd level, doubling at every subsequent level in the same manner as the ordinary XP progression. Magic-User elves only require an extra 300 XP points to reach 2nd level, again doubling at every subsequent level.

Maximum Level: Elves may only advance to a maximum of the 12th level of experience. The Dungeon Master may choose to waive this limitation.

Restrictions: Elves may not use equipment made of iron, steel, or adamantine. Elves must have a minimum of 9 Dexterity (if progressing as a Fighter) or 9 Wisdom (if progressing as a Magic-User).

Special Abilities: In addition to their ordinary class abilities, elves may choose to progress as either a Fighter or a Magic-User. If they choose to progress as a Fighter they gain the Fighter's to-hit/THAC0 progression, as well as the ability to use all weapons, armor, and shields that are not made of iron, steel, or adamantine. If they choose to progress as a Magic-User they gain the ability to cast spells as a Magic-User of equivalent level, with all attendant restrictions. Elven Fighters must choose to progress as Magic-Users, and elven Magic-Users must choose to progress as Fighters.

Elves have a d6 Hit Die regardless of class. Elves take +1 damage per die from weapons made of iron or steel, and +2 damage per die from adamantine weapons, as a consequence of their iron aversion. Elves may see by starlight as if it were bright sunlight. They gain a +1 to-hit with missile weapons. They have only a 10% chance to be spotted in a natural environment when wearing an elven cloak.

Languages: In addition to the Common Tongue and their alignment language, elves speak Elvish.


Tolkienian Song-Magic Elves


XP: Elves require an extra 800 XP points to reach 2nd level, doubling at every subsequent level in the same manner as the ordinary XP progression.

Maximum Level: Elves may only advance to a maximum of the 10th level of experience. The Dungeon Master may choose to waive this limitation.

Restrictions: Elves must be able to speak to sing magic songs. Elves must have a minimum of 9 Wisdom.

Special Abilities: Elves can see by starlight as if it were bright sunlight. They have only a 10% chance to be spotted in a natural environment when wearing an elven cloak. 

They have the ability to sing magic songs; they learn one song per level, either rolled randomly or selected by the player at the Dungeon Master's discretion. Elves may sing for up to one exploration turn per level. When the elf stops singing a magic song, they are unable to sing it again until they get a full night's sleep. The Dungeon Master should increase encounter chance while the elf is singing most songs. At 7th level, the elf learns to add a minor theme to their song, allowing them to sing two songs simultaneously.

The following songs are available to elves: 

1. Song of Elbereth: Causes fear in intelligent enemies, giving them a 1+[1/3 level] penalty to morale.

2. Song of Slaying: Gain a +1 to-hit and damage for each enemy slain in the previous combat round.

3. Song of Silence: Muffles all sound within 60'. Communication cannot be carried out at distance. Thieves gain a +[5 x level]% boost to Move Silently.

4. Song of Freedom: Elf Saves vs. Paralysis/Petrification at +4, gains +2 to Force Doors, and traps and locked doors within 60' have an [level]% chance each to disarm or unlock themselves.

5. Song of the Trees: Elf is illuminated from within, casting a pure clean light that shines up to 30' brightly and 60' dimly. Any light sources the elf carries double their illuminated radius.

6. Song of Staying: Elf reduces incoming damage by [1/2 level], minimum 1.

7. Song of Lorien: Foes are lulled into unwariness, and are twice as likely to be surprised. Anyone who listens to this song for a whole exploration turn must Save vs. Magic Spells or be put to sleep.

8. Song of Este: Recover [1/3 level] HP per exploration turn. Elf Saves vs. Death & Poison at +2.

9. Song of Sharpness: Edged weapons gain [1/2 level] bonus to-hit against armored enemies, minimum +1.

10. Song of Mastery: Foes within 30' must Save vs. Paralysis/Petrification each combat round or fail to take any action.



This whole thing where I converted my elf species-classes to templates was done entirely on a whim while I was typing up this post and took me no more than 15 minutes. If you like to nerd out about B/X like me, give it a try with your own favorite species-classes! 

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B/X Species-Classes as Templates

I mentioned that I made these rules on the OSR Discord and somebody asked me for them so I'm formally writing them up and posting them h...