Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Races for DCC RPG!

After removing the “demihuman-ness” of the Elf, Dwarf and Halfling classes from the DCC Corebook (check it here), I tried to create - forgive me for 3rd Edition jargon - small templates with races. Although of late I much prefer personalized classes (like it is done in the excellent Adventurer Conqueror King RPG), I’m not against using races. In particular, I quite like how older versions of D&D did it. In the LBBs, it can be argued that Dwarf, Elf and Hobbits/Halflings are presented as a group of modifications for the Fighting Man class (and for the Magic User if we’re talking of Elves). Holmes explains it a lot better in his D&D.

That said, here’s another “dirty and cheap” hack for those times you want an Elven Prince (Elf Warrior), a Dwarven Dungeoncrawler (Dwarf Thief) or maybe a Feral-cannibal Halfling from the Wastes (Halfling Warrior).

These races should - theoretically - work for the Cleric, Thief, Warrior and Wizard classes of the Corebook (and you can try to mix them with the Scout, Defender, Rogue and Warlock). Finally, remember: instead of choosing race separately you can still play with a normal Elf, Dwarf or Halfling class.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: A dwarf can see in the dark up to 60’.
Slow: A dwarf has a base movement speed of 20’, as opposed to 30’ for humans.
Underground Skills: Long life beneath the ground trains dwarves to detect certain kinds of construction. When underground, dwarves receive a bonus to detect traps, slanting passages, shifting walls, and other new construction equal to their class level. Additionally, a dwarf can smell gold and gems. A dwarf can tell the direction of a strong concentration of gold or gems within 100’. Smaller concentrations, down to a single coin, can still be smelled but require concentration and have scent ranges as low as 40’ (for a single coin or gem). Instead of smelling gold, you can pick one of these alternate supernatural traits for your Dwarf.

Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and a dwarven racial language.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: An elf can see in the dark up to 60’.
Immunities: Elves are immune to magical sleep and paralysis.
Vulnerabilities: Elves are extremely sensitive to the touch of iron. Direct contact over prolonged periods causes a burning sensation, and exposure at close distances makes them uncomfortable. An elf may not wear iron armor or bear the touch of iron weapons for extended periods. Prolonged contact with iron causes 1 hp of damage per day of direct contact.
Heightened Senses: Elves are astute and observant. All elf characters receive a +4 bonus to detect secret doors. Moreover, when simply passing within 10 feet of a secret door, elves are entitled to a check to detect it.

Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and an elven racial language.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: A halfling can see in the dark up to 30’.
Small size: Halflings are 2 to 4 feet tall, and the stoutest among them weights no more than 70 pounds. This small size allows them to crawl into narrow passages and through tiny holes. Because of his size, a Halfling can suffer limitation with weapons granted by some classes, like Warrior.
Breakfast before elevenses: If a Halfling eats double rations before elevenses, let him roll a d4. He recover that much in Luck. This ability can only be used once per day, obviously.
Stealth: Halflings are quite good at sneaking around. They receive a bonus to sneaking silently and hiding in shadows depending on their class level, as shown on table 1-18 of the Halfling class. This can be used in the same manner as a thief’s abilities. If you gain the ability to move silently from your class (like the Thief or the Rogue), use the best bonus.
Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and a halfling racial language.

Where is the Good Luck Charm trait?
I removed this trait because I think it doesn't mesh well with other classes - especially the Thief and the Rogue. Besides, there are plenty of potential for abuse in min/maxing Good Luck Charm with other classes, so let’s leave it as a “niche” trait of the Halfling class (but not the Halfling Race). Instead of that, those halflings that don’t follow the Halfling class (confusing… I know) gain a new trait - Breakfast before elevenses - inspired by the awesome Heroic Fantasy.

You gain the following traits:
Beloved of the gods: a human can reroll one of his check, before the Judge announces the result, once per day.

Why are the humans beloved of the gods?
To give them a little boost now that Elves, Dwarves and Halflings can carry some of their racial advantages to other classes.

According to the LBBs that is also an Elf...take that Tolkien!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs (Part III)

The final part! (Sorry, I’m late, I know…). You can read Part I and Part II if you like.

- Struck by lightning: for this Augur I’m going to avoid the Positive/Negative descriptions because the main idea here is the same - you survived an impossible situation. Call it a lightning, a meteor strike, a dragon attack etc. You survived something that should have killed your PC. Get creative. Extrapolate. If your Luck is a positive modifier, the Judge is encouraged to flavor the description, saying how your PC, of the entire party, is the one that usually get out of a situation unscatched. If you have a neutral or negative Luck modifier, then Death is still trying to even the score.
- Lived through famine: Another “Grim & Perilous” Augur! (Positive) You survived the Plague! Or the Great Famine (and the following “Ghoul Spring”). Or a nuclear winter! Actually, maybe you were raised by orcs/goblins/insert-here-unsanitary-humanoids. Either way, you survived in a place where civilized folk usually die. How you managed that? A dark pact or divine blessing? A mysterious MacGuffin? Some weird birthmark? (Negative) OK, maybe you didn’t literally survived through the famine. Not whole, at least. Maybe you and Death are now tavern buddies (you have a bone white complexion and hardly seems to breath). Or maybe you actually died and was brought back… changed. Do you require any special medicine or weird ritual to be kept alive? Perhaps you’re now Death-touched, doomed to return as one of the Damned or Un-Dead (a vampire?).
- Resisted temptation: (Positive) You’re a pious soul… if there were paladins in DCC you would be one (actually, it’s a great idea if you KNOW that you could have been a paladin but they don’t exist). Maybe you were touched by an angel or blessed by a Champion of Law with iron will. Another interesting option is that you’re (constantly) tempted by a devil. So far you’ve resisted, but the infernal is still following you around for some reason. (Negative) You sold your soul! (You were young and stupid, and at the time it was so edgy). Maybe your PC is addicted to some dark narcotic from the fallen East (purple lotus, that weird worm-spice or maybe demonblood - literally demonblood!). If you like a comedic approach your PC can have a simpler vice - you’re lecherous (human), gluttonous (halfling), greedy (dwarf) or just ridiculously vain (elf).
- Charmed house: (Positive) You have a guardian angel (not necessarily a celestial… could be a faire, an ancestor, a living spell, a very headstrong familiar). You have a phylactery and part of your soul is stored in it. You’re not completely human (if a Warrior, Cleric, Wizard or Thief) or demihuman (perhaps a dwarf with a clockwork heart or an elf with demon-blood). In Brazil we’ve the expression “corpo fechado” (closed body), which is used to describe people with supernatural protection who can’t be hurt in ordinary conditions (if you saw Unbreakable you know what I mean). If you go for a literal approach, maybe you were born in a very special or holy place, and bit of that magic is still carried by you (Rivendell, Myth Drannor, Mount Olympus, the Deadhouse etc.). (Negative) You are as fragile as glass (Unbreakable!). Maybe you’re too small or too big for your race. If you’re an Elf maybe you’re plant-like and more fragile; if you’re a Dwarf you could literally have crystalline bones. Or you could be just an elderly adventurer. Perhaps you belong to an elder race that is slowing fading from the world (a degenerated atlantean, valyrian or eldar… who knows). Perhaps the Gods hate you and want you dead or a demon lord cursed your bloodline to DOOM! (it is really very easy to come up with some weird reason for a low AC).
- Speed of the Cobra: (Positive) You do EVERYTHING fast… talk, eat, sleep (!), etc. Never stay silent or in the same place for long. If you drive your party mad, congratulations! You could be a Cleric of Mercurius, a Thief-acrobat, an amazon/rider/maratonist Warrior, a changeling (Wizard with fey blood), a fox or squirrel polymorphed in a Halfling, a Dark Sun Elf! (If you like these suggestions, allows Speed of the Cobra to also increase Speed). (Negative) If your Judge allows play an Ent (use Warrior stats)! You’re really slow, either because you always plan and ponder an action before doing it, or because you’re too big. You could play a half-earth elemental Dwarf (or just a big/old dwarf), a half-giant (Warrior), a Halfling fugitive with an adamantine ball and chain in his legs or maybe a Elf from an alternate reality who experiences problems acting in our three dimensional world. Or you could just play a REALLY stupid and slow thinking barbarian...
- Bountiful harvest: (Positive) You had to flee your home village because the locals thought you were the avatar of the spring goddess. If you’re a Cleric or an Elf, maybe life springs around you… with flowers blowing, small animals passing by etc. Maybe your excessive life force is the result a pact made by your parents with the King of Elfland or other supernatural power. If you’re a Dwarf you could be Half-Troll (and very ugly). (Negative) You look like a corpse (perhaps minus the smell). You were born in the Underworld. One of your parents was an un-dead. Maybe your bloodline was cursed by the forces of Law or Chaos. Also, read the Negative aspects of the augur Charmed House.
- Warrrior’s arm: (Positive) You’re the kind of adventurer that enjoys gore and bloodlust too much for your own good. Maybe you’re a failed apprentice of the assassin guild (that’s a cool new occupation by the way), a fugitive torturer (idem) or the unsonged son/daughter of a famous barbarian warlord (that was cast aside because you disappointed Dad-Conan). (Negative) You’re not a pacifist, but you hate killing. Or perhaps you can’t stand the sight of blood (perfect for a Cleric). You could also be a lousy fighter. [Warrior’s arm and Spellcasters: in my games I let this augur also affect spellcasting. So, if your spellcaster rolled a natural 20, you get to add the Luck modifier to the final result.]
- Unholy house: (Positive) Your resistance to Corruption could derive from celestial blood (aasimar anyone?) or more probably because you swallowed the Finger of St. Cuthbert some years ago when the plague hit you (run from the Law churches). Maybe you have a guardian angel (literally) that constantly preaches the “benefits” of a righteous and caste life. A very wicked background is that you have a perfect twin… all your Corruption is actually passed to him (a campaign villain). (Negative) The perfect augur for Wizards! If you’re a Wizard please play the cliché evil necromancer (don’t forget the maniacal laughter). If you’re a Cleric consider playing a Chaotic PC. If you’re an Elf, consider actually that you’re an evil outsider banished from the Overworld (the mutations provoked by Corruption are actually revealing your true form!). If you’re a Halfling, play Gollum! [Variant Unholy House: why let only Wizards and Elves have all the fun? If a non-arcane spellcaster rolled this augur I would give him a special ability - he can burn Stamina to gain bonuses, like Luck. Burned Stamina would return like Spellburning damage. However, every time you burn Stamina roll a d20 plus your Luck modifier against a DC of 15. If you fail, you gain a (roll 1d6) - 1-3 minor corruption, 4-5 major corruption, 6 greater corruption.]
- The Broken Star: (Positive) You escape from perils that kill or maim most persons. Why? Maybe you hid your true name or entrusted it to a supernatural patron. Or maybe you’re obsessed with your own death, so you carry an absurd amount of luck charms (and somehow all that junk works). You could be a polymorphed white rabbit. You could have four-leaf clovers on your head instead of hair (?!). Maybe you’re the only cheerful and optimistic Dwarf in the world. Or you could play a dark Elf who stole the luck of your clan through a magic mishap. (Negative) When you fail you do it epically. Maybe you’re really DOOOMED! And you know it (you did something terrible in your past). If you’re a Wizard, a Cleric of the Old Ones or an Elf, maybe Reality itself hates you and wants you dead (you’re an unnatural being after all). Because Fumbles are rolled usually only in combat, maybe you’re just craven, so check the Negative aspect of Warrior’s arm. [Variant Broken Star for Halflings: Halflings have a Good Luck Charm ability, so lets tinker with that. Maybe there are some Halflings that aren’t born lucky. They’re born wrong and are usually exiled from their boring pastoral villages. They’re cursed and called names like Redcap, Boggart or Pooka and have the Evil Eye (they’re usually also bastards). Maybe Goblins are just that… wrong Halflings. Anyway, these Halflings can only burn Luck to penalize other’s rolls.]
- Birdsong: (Positive) You have an innate knack with languages. Maybe you’re a sage, a foreign from some weird and exotic empire, or maybe a wizard did something to your head. I like to let players with this augur pick their languages during play. It’s awesome (if you saw the Antonio Bandera’s scene around the fire from the great The 13th Warrior movie you know what I’m talking about). Another cool way to personalize PCs with this augur is to pick weird languages. DCC Core Rulebook gives great ideas, like knowing to talk with horses, wolves or spiders. Go crazy from there! What if you PC could talk to rivers, trees or doors? (OK, the last one is a bit overpowered, unless the Judge rightfully determines that dungeon door are sneaky and evils liars, besides dungeon door also talk with dungeon monsters so you PC is in trouble… doors hate eavesdropping). (Negative) This one is really weird because, except for Wizards, it is difficult for most PCs to talk lots of languages. The Judge could instead declare that PCs with this augur are illiterates. But let’s make things interesting: what if your PC is cursed to only speak one language? What if that language is Demonic? If you want to make things funnier (and the PC is of particular low Intelligence), establish that he starts game knowing only 1d6+2 words. The good news? He gain +1 word per level! (Perfect for your neanderthal Warrior!).
- Wild Child: If you liked my suggestion for the Speed of the Cobra entry, which extends the Luck modifier to Speed, so please also boost Wild Child - now it increases Speed and also grants a bonus to climbing, jumping and vine swinging. (Positive) You were raised in the jungle or among a culture that considers riding to be unmanly (or a sin, because animals are sacred). You could be a Halfling Shire postman, a Dwarf tunnel runner (messengers used to run through the long and dark passages of the Underworld) or an Elf from the Sea of Grass. Play a Cleric of the Olympiad! If you’re a Wizard, play Rincewind. (Negative) OK, you’re slow. Check the Speed of the Cobra entry for ideas. Let’s take another approach here. If the “Wild Child” theme implies that someone who lives in the Wilds is fast, then play the most urbane, “sophisticated” (I mean dandy) and gregarious fellow possible (a british accent is encouraged). Criticize your “frontier” friends for their lack of manners and never forget the hour of the tea (curiously, this is the perfect augur for a “Tolkienian” Halfling).

Monday, January 8, 2018

DCC Human Classes for Sword & Sorcery

This is a “dirty and cheap” hack for playing DCC RPG in a “pure” Sword & Sorcery setting. No fuss. It all started with the idea of using races as a templates instead of classes. During my hacks for “racial templates” I came up with some “substitutes” for old demihuman classes. Yes, by “pure” S&S I mean a human setting. Here is how I would do it.

Keep the core 4 classes: Cleric, Thief, Warrior and Wizard. DCC RPG’s Cleric is so ‘hardcore’ that I don’t mind keeping it in a S&S setting (the Disapproval rule is perfect for that and if you need fluff ideas for S&S deities, please check this).

The Defender/Guardian/Protector: this is your not-Dwarf. Remove all racial stuff like Infravision, Slow and Underground Skill (specially smelling gold). Instead of that you can use your shield bash also to protect adjacent allies. When an adjacent ally is attacked, you can use your shield bash dice (a d14 at 1st) to block the enemy’s attack. If your roll is equal to or higher than the enemy’s, then your ally (our yourself!) is protected. I’m also thinking about allowing you to block attacks against your character.

The Rogue/Scoundrel: this is your not-Halfling. You’re Grey Mouser, basically. Un urbane trickster, able to fight with two weapons and how knows a little bit of magic. Remove racial stuff (Infravision and Small). You can use your Sneak & Hide bonus to cast spells from scrolls (use a d10 instead of a d20), disguise and to gathering rumors and informations while on cities. Finally, you know about curses and minor magics - this is a “reskinned” version of the Halfling’s Good Luck Charm. They’re used here to represent cantrips and minor hexes (yes, you can use Good Luck Charm to inflict penalties on your enemies’ rolls). However, every time you use this knacks you must roll a d10 - if a ‘1’ comes up you suffer some kind of misfire or backlash (as decided by the Judge). Personally, if the character was casting a hex (i.e. inflicting penalties on adversaries), I would roll a minor corruption if a ‘1’ came up. (Actually, during my first drafts with a not-Halfling class I was trying to come up with a Ranger… I couldn’t make it work. However, if you’re happy with a Scout, here is one).

The Warlock/Sorcerer: the not-Elf. As usual, remove the racial traits of Immunities, Heightened Senses and Vulnerabilities. But please, do keep Infrasion (let’s call it “Darkborn”) and add the Hide in Shadows skill from a Lawful Thief (call it “Cloak of Darkness”). You start with one Patron Taint. This class is for those that sold their souls in exchange of eldritch power, but works perfectly for heretics and “Left-Hand” adepts in general. Those that took the “easy” way. They can only use magic through a Patron.