Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Re-inventing the Wheel

I haven't been blogging a whole lot lately for a couple of reasons, but I will try to get better. (Because I know there are teeming masses of readers who hinge on my every word!)

One of the reasons is that I've been playing a play-by-blog game of homebrew AD&D run by Alexis over at The Tao of D&D. (Which you can access off my blog roll.) I'm posting as Kazimir. It's been a lot of fun so far even if our group is off to a rocky start. (We've already killed our employer's henchman for admittedly no goddamn reason, for instance) Though we've barely gotten off the ground, the game has been quite educational. I always like to see how other DMs do their thing, plus the world is quite historical. I feel inspired to do a little research on medieval society for my next D&D or AD&D campaign. (Which admittedly is a long ways off)

Another reason is that I've been working on a modification of old D&D. Over the past month or two, there has been much wailing and gnashing of classes in blogland. People have been dissecting and/or banishing the thief and cleric. It got me thinking...

So, my rewrite is going in one of several directions. These are just some preliminary thoughts I scribbled in my notebook while riding the bus.

1. Two basic classes, fighter and magic-user, with sub-classes of each. It would look something like this:

Fighter (Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian, Raconteur)
Magic-user (Sorcerer, Priest, Channeller, Sage, Druid)

The Raconteur would be sort of a roguish character; the sneaky and glib aspects of the thief and bard without the trap disarming and whatnot. (Though he'll likely have pick pocket, sneak attack, and maybe some kind of disguise) I was considering giving him a little magic, as well. This class was inspired by the Gygax idea for the never-was revision of AD&D, plus characters like Grey Mouser and Cugel, plus the fact that I want the option of a "sneaky" character in the game.

The Sorcerer would be a summoner/pact type caster, similar to the Carcosa class but probably not going the Cthuloid route. (Maybe demons or elementals or something)The mechanics might be based on the evil cleric's ability to command undead.

Priest will basically be a magic-user with clerical spells, and perhaps Turn Undead, either as a class ability or maybe I'll make Turn Undead into a spell.

Channeller (Probably a different name) would be the spontaneous caster, an idea I liked in theory but not in the way it was presented in 3rd edition. This would essentially be a "spell point" caster who can harness magically. I might give them Druid spells, or maybe make this the default way that elves cast spells and give them a hybrid magic-user/druid spell list. This is just a basic idea and might get axed.

Druid wouldn't have the crazy ass 9th level cleric requirement. It might literally just be a magic-user with an alternate spell list and maybe a couple special abilities.

Sage would be a class that can cast any spell and probably have some legend lore abilities or the ability to analyze magic items. Option on naming this scholar, with maybe sage being the name level title.

This route was inspired by Carcosa (just fighter, just magic-user) and by the original Final Fantasy Tactics, where there were basically two routes you could go (fighter or caster), but many different branches of each. Sub-classes would all have ability requirements of some kind.

2. A modified version of the "four point" system found in the old OD&Dities fanzine. Basically, it broke characters down into five areas: hit dice, combat abilities, wizard spells, cleric spells, and thief skills. You put points into each one and that determined how good you were. It was possible to recreate any of the classes normally, if I recall. There was a different table for each race. (Dwarves had to invest a lot of points just to be crappy at wizard magic, for instance, and all the races had different possible spreads of hit die.) I'm thinking I would merge the two spells into one category, but force the character to choose "white" or "black" magic. Also thief skills would probably be replaced with some kind of d6 based "skill" system. (For hearing noise, sneaking, etc.. everyone would have some ability in it, but you could invest points to be better at it) Not sure what I'd do about races yet.

More on this as it develops


  1. You can do worse than FFT for class inspiration. Have you played FF5? It had the first and still (IMHO) best of the FF job systems.

    Reinventing wheels is one of my weaknesses. Let's hear more of these ideas!

  2. I have indeed played FFV, though not the most recent Gameboy Advance version with the extra jobs. I really like how you can customize the characters so much. (Of course, my D&D homebrew won't have class switching or anything like that.)