Friday, April 30, 2010

B/X Beastmaster

This new character class is based on the Stephan Michael Sechi fantasy RPG supplement, The Compleat Adventurer. See these previous posts for more info.


Level.....Title.....Experience Points.....Hit Dice
4.....Feral Hero.....8800.....4D8
5.....Beast Heart.....17,000.....5D8
6.....Wild Brother/Sister.....34,000.....6D8
7.....Wild Guardian.....68,000.....7D8
8.....Wild Champion.....130,000.....8D8
9.....Wild Lord.....260,000.....9D8
10.....10th level Wild Lord.....390,000.....9D8+2*
11.....11th level Wild Lord.....520,000.....9D8+4*
12.....12th level Wild Lord.....650,000.....9D8+6*
13.....13th level Wild Lord.....780,000.....9D8+8*
14.....14th level Wild Lord.....910,000.....9D8+10*

*Constitution bonuses no longer apply.

Beastmasters are individuals with a special affinity with the natural world and beasts in particular, and all have the ability to communicate, influence, and even control many types of animal. Some beastmasters acquire these abilities by chance, being lost or abandoned in the wilds and learning the ways of the natural world. Many, however, are trained by another beastmaster, for it is the way of these individuals to pass their lore down to their offspring, father to son and mother to daughter.

The Prime Requisite of beastmasters is Strength, something nature knows and respects. Beastmasters with a 13-15 in Strength gain a +5% bonus to earned experience; those with a Strength of 16+ gain a +10% bonus. Characters must have a minimum score of 9 in both Constitution and Charisma to be a beastmaster.

RESTRICTIONS: Beastmasters use eight-sided dice (d8) to determine their hit points. Beastmasters shun the trappings of civilization and will not wear man-made armor, nor use shields. Similarly, they will only use the most primitive of weapons: spears, clubs, daggers, and short bows; any such item is assumed to have been manufactured by the beastmaster himself. When rolling for starting gold, a beastmaster character multiplies the roll of 3D6 by 5, not by 10. Beastmasters may achieve a maximum of 36th level of experience. They use the Monster Attacks matrix for combat as a creature of their same hit dice (for example, an 11th level character attacks as a 9+ hit dice monster). The use the same saving throw table as clerics. Beastmasters may use any magic item not restricted to a specific class.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Beastmasters have exceptional senses and are only surprised on a roll of a "1," not a 1-2. They hear noise like a thief of the same level. In the outdoors ONLY, beastmasters can move silently or hide in cover (equivalent of "shadows") as a thief of the same level. Beastmasters that manufacture their own weapons have a +1 to hit and damage with their weapons (though the weapons are not "magical"). They can also manufacture armor from the skins and hides of slain animals; the armor class of these pelts is the same as the original animal -1 (for example, hide armor from a grizzly bear would be AC 7, one point worse than a grizzly's natural AC). All hide armors are considered to be the same bulk as leather armor (movement rate of 90'). When foraging in the wild (see page X51 of the Expert set), Beastmasters can locate food with a 4 in 6 chance instead of a 1 in 6, and beastmasters have the ability to identify and interpret any animal tracks they find. On land, beastmasters are only ever lost on a roll of "1" in any terrain type (the normal chance of getting lost applies at sea).

The beastmaster's main ability is his rapport with animals and ability to communicate with the same. There are 12 different animal languages a beastmaster can learn (the player and DM may invent others as necessary); they are:

  • Avian (the language of birds, bats, and flying creatures)
  • Canine (the language of dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc.)
  • Elephantine (the language of elephants and their kin)
  • Feline (the language of cats, lions, tigers, etc.)
  • Mustelid (the language of weasels, badgers, wolverines, ferrets, etc.)
  • Piscean (the language of fish, whales, and creatures of the sea)
  • Rodent (the language of rats, squirrels, mice, etc. as well as rabbits)
  • Saurian (the language of lizards and amphibians)
  • Simian (the language of the apes, monkeys, and ape-like creatures)
  • Ungulate (the language "toed" or hooved herbivores, including camel, deer, cattle, giraffe, horses, pigs, rhinos, goats, hippos, etc.)
  • Ursine (the language of bears and their prehistoric kin)
  • Optional: Ancient Beast (the language of dragons and mythical beasts)

The beastmaster character knows two languages at 1st level; he or she may also spend bonus languages from a high Intelligence score to know additional languages. For every two levels of experience beastmasters gain, they may learn an additional language (so +1 language at levels 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.). If the Ancient Beast language is allowed, it is suggested that it be restricted to characters of at least Name (9th) level and higher.

Being able to communicate with animals can be useful in and of itself, and beastmasters always gain a +1 to reaction rolls when communicating with animals (in addition to their normal Charisma bonus). The ability to speak an animal's language also gives the beastmaster the ability to use three different abilities: Call, Befriend, and Master.

Calling an animal can only be done outdoors, and the DM must determine if a particular type of animal is present. By crying out in the animal's language, the beastmaster can summon any desired (and present) animal within a 1 mile radius. The hit dice of the animal summoned cannot exceed 2x the level of the beastmaster; multiple animals of the same type may be summoned as long as they do not exceed this hit dice limit. The animal will arrive in 1D10 rounds. Intelligent or magical beasts may resist the call with a save versus spells.

Befriending an animal requires the beastmaster to actually speak with the creature in person. The creature (or creatures) cannot have hit dice exceeding 2x the beastmaster's level. Make a standard reaction roll (including the beastmaster's +1 bonus and any Charisma bonus). On a successful roll (9+) the animal will agree to serve the beastmaster for 24 hours, acting to the best of its ability. An animal with hit dice less than or equal to the beastmaster may be automatically befriended without a reaction roll.

Mastering is making a beast the equivalent of a permanent retainer. The beastmaster must be able to speak with the creature and the beast cannot have total hit dice greater than the beastmaster's level. Make a standard Retainer Reaction check (see page B21 of the Basic set) adding the beastmaster's +1 bonus and Charisma modifier (if any). If successful, the beast becomes a permanent and loyal retainer of the character. The total number of mastered animals a beastmaster can possess is determined by his or her Charisma score; a mastered animal can be released from service and will remain friendly, but can never again be mastered by that particular beastmaster.

Beastmasters never have normal hirelings or retainers and never build strongholds. A beastmaster that reaches 9th level (Wild Lord) may claim a particular stretch of wilderness as his domain that he guards and protects. This can be a forest, a mountain, an island or any area that he can travel the length of in a single day and night. All beasts within this protectorate know and respect the beastmaster and the Wild Lord may automatically befriend any animal in the area (no roll) whose hit dice do not exceed 2x his or her level.


  1. Of course we had a Beastmaster class back in the day too. Different from this, but same idea.

    I am going to have to re-build good old Absom Sark as one of your beastmasters and see how he does.

    Very cool.

  2. Ha! Are you going to cover all of the old classics from that venerable tome? Bounty Hunter Bounty Hunter!

  3. I like it!

    A couple questions for consideration...

    Why not Constitution instead of Strength as the prime rquisite? I am thinking of how most of the Beastmasters from the inspirational sources definitely have above average Strength, but they also seem to be much more hardy and resistant to pain than they are strong.

    Why not allow them to use all weapons? Keep the bonus +1 with their personally-made weapons but allow them the opportunity to use those random magic items as well.

  4. Some AWESOME Ideas, definitely going to crib this! For my money, this is a bit too fiddly for a B/X class, I'd think you could really simplify a few pieces and get this down to a few paragraphs:

    - requisite stats are a bit wonky, I'd just tie it all back to CHA - seems like a beastmaster could easily be strong, agile or smart.
    - Align attack progression, xp, saves with existing human class.
    - remove the equipment crafting mechanic and gold limits - this doesn't really bring much to the table
    - language progression seems a bit overcomplicated, seems like you could just know a number of animals relative to level - similar to a spell progression.
    - I'm inclined to say hid dice should be d6

  5. Good stuff.

    Attacks and Saves as Fighter I presume?

    My one objection is that the 4th level title doesn't really seem to suit the tone established by the rest. David Bellamy is a naturalist...

  6. @ The Myth: In B/X D&D, prime requisites may be raised by lowering other ability scores but "Constitution and Charisma may not be raised or lowered;" logically, it follows that Con and Cha cannot be prime requisites. To model their hardiness (something I agree with) I give them D8 hit dice like a monster.

    Even though Marc Singer uses swords, most "beastmasters" found in literature (all the ones I can think of anyway) do not. But you can certainly modify the class!

    @ Lord B: man, don't make me doubt myself! The last thing I want is for the class to be "too fiddly!" I'd be happy to do away with the gold mechanic, but with the armor/weapon restrictions I couldn't figure out what else a 1st level beastmaster would need to buy! I suppose that doesn't hurt the magic-user class, though...the language progression IS simpler than a spell list, IMO (even a 1st level magic-user has 12 choices of spell; I don't have more than 12 choices of language!) and is much simplified from the original tables/systems present in The Compleat Adventurer.

    @ Chris: Fights as a monster, saves as a cleric (see Restrictions above). The attack matrix is the "savage" side of the class...the beastmaster will have better attack progression up till 9th or 10th level, and then taper off. My original idea was to add some more complicated rules (like dividing the bonus hit points above 9th level by 4.5 to add extra HD finding a better attack matrix), but up to 14th level (max for most B/X players) it works plenty fine like this (a 9+ HD monster fights equivalent to a 13th level fighter or 17th level cleric).

    The attacks and saves are as per the original write-up in TCA, by the way.

    As for the level title...yeah, 4th level is a little weak (though I was thinking about the naturalist Mr. David Crockett). I considered "beast man" or "forest friend" but thought these were a bit weak also. I'll think about it a bit, and edit when I come up with something better...hopefully BEFORE anyone using the class reaches 4th level!

    - Natural or Savage Hero?
    - Stalker?
    - Predator?
    - Ape Man?
    - "Bararian?"
    - "Missing Link?"

    Hey, I'm open to suggestions, too!
    : )

  7. ***EDIT: Okay, changed the 4th and 5th level titles; I believe they're a bit more suitable now.
    : )