Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fantasy Hack: Appendix II

Because of the simplicity of the rules and the consistent structure that they have, it is fairly easy to "hack" or modify them to taste.  While the basic rules are meant to replicate a bit more faithfully "the most famous role-playing game in the world" in terms of their implied setting, I’ve used the rules for settings that are more divergent, and used some different rules as such.  These are now added as examples of the kind of modifications that you can make yourself to use these rules for your own personal settings, or to use as is.  They change very little of how the game itself works, but there are significantly expanded rules for more races and classes in particular.

New Races
Several of these races are listed as monsters.  There isn’t really a philosophical difference between a "monster" and an antagonist, however.  If it fits with your GM’s setting and expectations for the campaign, it might be conceivable that certain "monstrous" non-humans are entirely appropriate for use as PC races as well.  Many of these are not appropriate to the tone of every game, however, which is why they are relegated to the Appendices rather than presented as part of the basic rules.
  • Goblin: Small, often perceived of by others as ugly and untrustworthy, goblins are to orcs much the same as halflings are to humans.  They usually have a greenish or brownish leathery skin, pointed ears and teeth, and average 3-4 feet tall.  They are rangy and wiry most of the time.  +1 DEX and a +2 to the Subterfuge skill.
  • Jann: The jann present themselves as humans with just a touch of ifrit ancestry, which affects their physical appearance, personality and abilities.  The jann have brick-red skin, but pale, wispy yellow-orange hair that dances around their heads like a flame.  They have piercing yellow eyes, and tend to be hot-headed and passionate in their personality.  The jann gain a +1 to any 2 skills, and also have the fire strike ability; they can infuse one attack per day with the power of the ifrit and their weapon will burst into flame doing an additional 2d6 damage for 5 rounds.
  • Kemlings: Like the jann, the kemlings are humans with just a touch of exotic ancestry, in this case daemonic.  This has not allowed the kemlings to be seen as desirable or trustworthy neighbors by others, so in the past, they had powerful Imperial polities in the north.  Those days are past, and the old kemling empire, Baal Hamazi, is now a Balkanized land of warring city-states.  In many, the kemlings no longer hold social and political sway as much as they did in the past, as the formerly oppressed human (and other) underclasses have wrested power from them.  Many kemlings have fled the turmoil in their homeland and now live elsewhere as part of a massive kemling diaspora.  Kemlings have soot dark skin, tiny horns poking up through their hair, and yellow "predator" eyes (think of Nightcrawler and Darth Maul combined).  Kemlings gain +1 to DEX, a racial affinity for Stealth, and the ability to see in the dark with a biological equivalent to night vision goggles.
  • Nephilim: Another "human, but touched with a small bit of exotic ancestry" are the nephilim (both plural and singular).  They claim that their exotic ancestry is angelic, and they do look the part, with beautiful, well proportioned bodies, pale skin, silver-white hair, chrome eyes and clear voices.  However, some point out that if angels left progeny amongst mortals, then they must, by definition, be fallen angels…  They gain a +1 to MND and a +1 to Knowledge and Communication.
  • Wose: The woses were, according to legend, once werewolves, but the power of their lycanthropic "gifts" faded over generations, until they became merely a race of hardy outdoorsmen with a few bestial physical features and abilities.  They fare poorly in civilization for the most part (although ghettos of them serving as muscle for organized crime are not unknown in many cities) but live in small holdings and "packs" in the wilderness.  They are a bit shorter than humans on average, and often walk with a stoop, sometimes putting a hand to the ground as they move.  They are covered in short brownish hair, or even fur, and have yellow wolf-like eyes, as well as pointed ears and teeth.  Their nails are often almost claw-like and they rarely wear shoes or boots.  Woses gain +3 to STR, -1 to MND, +1 to their Survival Skill, and -1 to their Communication skill.
  • More races:  If you need more options, creating a race is an a la carte option endeavor that's relatively easy to do. Use two Racial Template Points (RTP) and add them to your character at creation. The same RTP can be taken, if desired, more than once. One RTP is equal to either:
    • A +1 Stat bonus. This could also include a +1 to AC as natural armor, even though AC isn't normally a "stat" per se. 
    • Two skill points (i.e., +2 to one skill of your choice, or +1 to two skill bonuses of your choice.) 
    • A special trait or ability (usually an affinity, as described above in the Expert class. If a character has the same affinity for both race and class, allow them to reroll twice! They clearly really want to be good in that area, and are spending character generation capital to do so at the expense of something else.) 
    • Another special ability, which can be designed to suit, if desired.  Here are a few samples: 
      • The ability to breath water as well as air. 
      • Retractable claws which allow you to climb vertical surfaces.
      • The ability to see in the dark as if you have biological night vision goggles. 
      • The ability to run twice as fast as a regular humanoid creature (+10 to chase rolls.)
    • Subject to GM approval, some races may give up the equivalent of a negative RTP to gain an effective third RTP, but I wouldn't do much of this (the wose is an example who has a negative stat bonus and a negative skill bonus.) Otherwise, however, players are strongly encouraged to play around with this race system to create the customized version of their character that they want. 
New Classes
Classes can be customized to a great degree.  Three of the basic rules classes have a major and a minor class ability; the Outdoorsman has three minor class abilities.  You can easily mix and match different minor abilities to customize your class, and even (if you wish) give it a different label.  As with the Outdoorsman, instead of using one major and one minor, you can also combine three minor abilities to create a customized class.  All such classes default to allowing light armor and light, medium and ranged weapons.  If you include the +1 to Attack and Damage minor class ability, you also gain the ability to use medium armor.  If you pick the full attack and damage bonus of the Fighter, you gain proficiency with all weapons, armor and shields.

The major class abilities that define each class are as follows:
  • The attack and damage bonus associated with the Fighter (+1 to Attack and Damage; increases to +2 at 4th level, and +3 at 8th level.)
  • The sneak attack associated with the Rogue.
  • The affinities associated with the Expert.
The minor class abilities that can be switched are as follows:
  • A +3 skill bonus to any skill.
  • 1 affinity as per the Expert class, although when used as a minor ability, you only ever get the one.
  • An additional +1 to attack and damage with ONE weapon type (the Outdoorsman comes with this in Ranged weapons.)
  • An animal companion as per the Outdoorsman.
A few examples of customized classes, not meant to be exhaustive:
  • A sorcerer or witch could be made by combining a single affinity (Sorcery) with an animal companion (a familiar!) and +3 to the Knowledge skill to better learn spells.
  • A gunslinger or sniper could be created by using the Fighter’s combat bonus plus the Outdoorsman’s bonus to Ranged Weapons.  On the other hand, if you took another weapon type, you could make him a duelist, gladiator or weapons-master.
  • A ranger could be created by using the Fighter’s combat bonus with an animal companion.  A scout could be a slight variation on the Outdoorsman where instead of +3 to Survival, he has an affinity for Wilderness Survival.
  • The wizard or mage could be created by taking the Expert’s major affinity (but selecting Sorcery every single time) and a familiar.
And there is one other optional class: the Shadow Sword.  This is a rare finding in the setting; representing a character who has learned to manifest a magical weapon out of the Shadow itself; a metaphorical name for the very stuff of magic.  Created by a tyrant-mage in the distant past, knowledge of how to become a Shadow Sword is rare, and closely guarded.  Because the abilities of the Shadow Sword don’t exactly match up with the major and minor abilities listed above, the Shadow Sword is not a customizable class.

The most iconic ability of Shadow Swords is the ability to manifest a weapon of pure Shadow at will.  Despite the name I've used to represent the class, this weapon can actually be any weapon that the character desires (although curved sabers seem to be among the most popular).  This includes missile weapons, even—though not any complicated mechanical weapon, such as a firearm.  Any melee weapon, any thrown weapon, and any missile weapon other than firearms can be manifested as desired by the character, summoned at a moment's notice, and then "banished" again back into the Shadow as desired.  Otherwise swords, tomahawks, bows, and even Captain America-style shields have all been seen in action as the manifestation of the Shadow Sword's "sword."

This weapon is usually a cool, matte black in appearance, and often seems to seep or exude darkness almost like smoke.  Some Shadow Swords, however, cultivate a non-shiny, translucent glass-like look for their mystic weapon.  Nobody but the Shadow Sword himself can use this weapon (i.e., he can't hand it to anyone else, and nobody else can pick it up if it's thrown, for instance—usually if it's thrown, the weapon will immediately disperse after its attack and reappear back into his hand again as soon as it has done its damage.)

Because a Shadow Sword is always armed, even if he appears not to be, those with this ability have naturally gravitated towards "black ops" type professions and assassination, to which this ability is remarkably well suited, but this is a trend not an obligation to those who belong to this class, naturally.

Shadow Blade: Gains combat bonus advantages to attack and damage (as per the Fighter class), but only when using a shadow sword; a weapon of pure shadow substance that can be summoned at a moment's notice. Also, any unarmored character with this ability can add ½ of his character level to AC (rounded down.)  This is in addition to the ½ level added to AC that all character already have.

Shadow Swords also can cloak themselves in Shadow, which makes them difficult to spot.  When doing so, they gain a class bonus of +3 to any Subterfuge + DEX checks.

New Equipment
Sometimes a more "pure" Medievalesque fantasy is desired, but I also really like fantasy based on the frontier times in America or the Golden Age of Piracy.  The biggest difference here, of course, is the presence of flintlock or wheelock type firearms. Firearms are, of course, ranged weapons and meet all of the characterizations of such weapons as described in the basic rules for equipment.  They also have some unique features.  The following are the two abstracted forms of firearms available, if the GM so desires, for use:
  • Pistol - cost is 150 gp. Damage is 2d6, range is 100 ft. Must take an entire turn to reload after firing. 
  • Rifle - cost is 200 gp. Damage is 2d8, range is 300 ft. Must take an entire turn to reload after firing. 

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