Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dragon #3 part 3

A PLETHORA OF OBSCURE SUBCLASSES: This article presents a bunch of new classes for D&D. The editor is quick to note that none of these are to be considered official, and that DMs shouls exercise caution when allowing them into the game. In light of this, the following classes will generally be reserved for NPCs (unless a player really really really wants to take one on).

HEALERS: As the name implies, this class's speciality is the healing of other characters. They are not restricted by race, but must have high scores in Intelligence, Wisdom and Dexterity, and are also forbidden from Chaotic alignment.

Otherwise, the Healer is a spellcaster with a mixture of Cleric and Magic-User spells, and their main draw is that they get a bunch of powerful healing spells earlier than Clerics do.

In addition, the Healer gets a number of spells that are new. Detect Poison and Detect Disease show the presence and type of each. Detect Phase shows treasure or creatures that are out of phase. Cure Blindness does what it says. Energy is a spell to restore levels lost to energy drain. Cure Lycanthropy heals that affliction. Wake Spell awakens anyone put to sleep by various means, which seems pretty weak for a 4th level spell. Cure Paralysis does just that. Longevity takes ten years from the target's age. Size Control negates magical effects that shrink or enlarge the target. Improved Cure Serious Wounds is a better healing spell, and seems remarkably similar to what will eventually be known as Cure Critical Wounds. Sterilize cleanses a room of slimes, molds or infections. Neutralize Gas clears an area of harmful gases. Remove Charm and Cure Deafness both work as advertised.

SCRIBES: Scribes are said to rare and expensive specialists with the ability to scribe magic from scrolls and books into the spell books of the PCs. In fact they are said here to be the only ones capable of doing so without being driven insane, but this is patently untrue. I will chalk it up to propaganda from the Guild of Scribes as a way to drum up extra business.

The rest of the class write-up is devoted to how much it costs to hire one, how likely they are to succeed at the job, and how likely they are to go insane in the course of said job.

SAMURAI: Ah, the insidious Eastern influence creeps in... This version of the Samurai (the first of many) is presented as a sub-class of Fighter, needing only a Dexterity of 15 or higher to qualify. The Samurai prefers to carry a katana and wakizashi (Japanese swords) and a composite bow. If anyone takes his katana, the Samurai must pursue the thief or else commit suicide.

The major ability of the Samurai is to strike critical blows with his special swords. This is done by rolling a certain number over the required target to hit, and the result is that the target loses either a quarter, half, or all of his hit points. A look at the critical chart also shows that severed limbs are frequent. Rad, especially considering it's going to exclusively for NPCs (heh heh heh).

Samurai also get an increase in Dexterity upon reaching certain numbers of experience points. This is a weird mechanic in itself, relying on XP total rather than level. It's not unheard of in later D&D, but it is a rarity.

Samurai armour is then detailed, ranging in quality from AC6 to AC3. In general it is lighter than regular D&D armours.

Samurai also know judo, which means they can throw their opponents about and stun them for 1 or 2 turns.

The write-up ends with a look at the Yumi, the Samurai's composite longbow, and it's abilities.

BERSERKER: You have to love a class that opens with a special warning from the editor. Berserkers are a Fighter sub-class, requiring an above-average Constitution and a below-average Intelligence. They aren't allowed an AC better than 6 at 1st level, and they can't use magical shields and armour, or develop psionics. But they do get double XP for killing stuff, at least until they get their wereshape. (Yep, wereshape.)

Each berserker belongs to a clan dedicated to one of the various types of lycanthrope. Once the berserker gets high enough level to have a wereshape, that is the form he takes when going berserk. The DM determines when conditions are right for a good berserking, but certain conditions can cause it automatically, or at least raise the chances. A berserk character causes opponents to check morale, gets +2 to hit and damage, is immune to psionics and adds 6 to his level when wielding a magic sword. However, they may not withdraw from combat, is weakened after his fit ends, and has a chance to lay into his teammates.

In addition to this, their Armor Class gets a boost every couple of levels, attributed to the gods themselves. At 4th level their chance of being surprised is reduced. At 6th they can detect hidden and invisible enemies, and gain a follower who is either a fighter or a bard. At 10th level they are finally allowed to hire people, being prohibited from this before.

Each of the clans has a single Clanmaster, and the usual duel is required if a character wants to progress to that level.

Given the Bardic connection intimated above, I'll probably tie this class into the same clans that the Druids belong to.

A NEW VIEW OF DWARVES: This article expands on the abilities of Dwarves, giving them a much more Tolkien flavour. It's fairly compatible with Dwarves as they already exist in OD&D, but from this point this article will be taking precedence.

The first thing we get is a chart for Dwarven Fighting-Men, now with their own level titles. Level 9 is listed as 'Dwarf King'. There are said to only be seven families of Dwarves, and so there can only be seven Dwarf Kings in the world at any one time. One of these families is said to be the line of Durin, which fits nicely with my Middle Earth theories espoused in earlier posts. There are currently no Dwarf Kings, so the first characters to take the titles will fill the role.

Dwarven Clerics are now allowed as PCs, so long as they have a Wisdom of 15 or higher. Dwarven Thieves now roll a 6-sided die for hit points, instead of 4. They are also expressly forbidden from becoming Magic-Users, Assassins, Monks, Paladins, Illusionists, Rangers or Sages.

A number of Dwarven abilities are listed next. The first five are simply those already given to Dwarves in OD&D. The rest involve Dwarves being able to appraise gems, detect magical arms and armour, and work as smiths, armourers and engineers (all provided their ability scores are high enough). Dwarves are restricted to the use of short bows or crossbows, and are given a penalty when using larger melee weapons. They need an extremely high Dexterity to know how to swim, and a high Intelligence to consider riding a horse.

There's a short section of how Dwarves relate to other races, and it goes along the usual lines. They will attack Orcs and Goblins, they dislike elves and men, are neutral to hobbits and react well to other dwarves. It's interesting to see they are neutral to 'Noldor' Elves, further cementing the Tolkien influence on the game and the setting.

COMBAT MODIFICATIONS FOR DEXTERITY: This chart gives combat modifiers (missile and melee) for Dexterity, taking into account the existence of Exceptional Dexterity from an earlier issue of The Dragon. I'm inclined to keep this option strictly for the Thief class, and certainly not to let it stack with Strength modifiers. A PC can have his Strength modifier or his Dexterity modifier, but not both at the same time.

Next: I delve back into the world of mass combat, with Swords & Spells.

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