Monday, May 20, 2013

'Edition-neutral' Class Abilities

This blog isn’t dead, but my spare time has surely been in the Underworld for the last month. Well, I hope to reorganize myself soon (I also hope to find time to prepare the 24th game session of our Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign). Well, excuses aside, I was thinking last week about “Edition-neutral” class abilities. In the spirit of the (original) idea/marketing behind D&D 5th/Next, I tried to write class abilities that could – theoretically – work in any D&D edition (besides Pathfinder, retro-clones and some other d20 games).

You can use these basic ideas (I hope) as new feats, class features, class abilities, kit, variants etc. (or as “free” mechanical rewards). Some of these abilities may already been used in one or other version for D&D.

Here is what I could think so far. Please, feel free to post your own ideas. [A funny thing that I noticed – it is for me a lot easier to create “neutral” abilities for non-spellcaster classes]

Fighter (Fighting-man)

  • You can spend an action to known the target’s actual Hit Points or his total HPs. You must be fighting him for at least 1 round to use this ability.
  • When is your turn to act, all enemies and allies that go after you in the initiative order must declare their actions (if you’re using group initiative, then you must choose one target from the other side to declare his action; you can choose a different target every round).

Rogue (Thief)

  • Once per day, if you fail a non-attack or save throw, you can try a different thing as a free action. You’re the perfect opportunist. For example: you try to pick a target’s pocket and fail. Before the DM describes how you failed, you can instead use this ability and do something else. You could, for example, attempt a backstab, try to tie the target’s shoes, disarm him or even tap him in the shoulders and attempt a bluff. You must do something.
  • Talkers go first! If you attempt an action dealing with diplomacy, bluff, persuade or any other social stuff, you automatically win initiative. This only works in the first round of combat and only if you want to talk (no command words, prepare weapons etc.).

Wizard (Magic-user)

  • You can feel the flows of magic. You can’t pinpoint it origins, determine its school of magic etc. but you can known when too much magic is used in the area, if something weird is happening or if the region has a wizard tower or other dweomer-rich location.
  • You have amazing memorization talents (it isn’t easy to prepare/memorize spells). You can memorize perfectly one piece of information: a map, a document, a text (or very small book or a part of a book), a conversation (even in other language) or a sequence of images or symbols (yes, wizards can count cards… and thieves know it).


  • You can feel the presence of otherworldy beings (any extraplanar/fey creature) and priests of rival faiths in the area (no pinpoint or tracking).
  • You can offer a sacrifice and pray to gain a small (cryptic) guidance from your deity or a random spell or boon (usually 1st-3rd level of power). This last option can only be used after all your spells are spent. Using this more than once in a day is a sure way of receiving a godly curse. Examples of sacrifices: all the XP from an important combat, one full Hit Dice of damage that can’t be healed through magic, a magic item, killing something ritualistic, giving tons of gems/gold to a temple or to build a new altar/shrine).

I’ll try to come up with more Edition-neutral stuff.