Wednesday, September 1, 2010

(*sigh*) No Illusionists

The last couple days I've been working on my OTHER new book (it's a little bizarre working on two books at once but it helps my "gamer ADD" to bounce back and forth between projects), and I've realized a couple things.

A) The classes I originally considered doing are probably not going to be the ones in the book, and

B) Regardless of whether "A" holds true or not, the Illusionist class will not be making an appearance.

Why no love for the illusionist class? Because it's already got enough love. Proctor and Goblinoid Games have already included a "B/X version" of the Illusionist in the Advanced Edition Companion. I already knew this, of course, but for whatever reason I wasn't thinking straight.

Labyrinth Lord is a retro-clone of B/X.
AEC adapts AD&D to B/X play.
AD&D contains the Illusionist class

Thus, there's no reason for me re-work the wheel.

After all, who am I to poach on Proctor's goods? My purpose in writing is NOT to spit in the eye of Goblinoid or say, 'hey, I can do this better than you.' Not only am I not interested in having the debate, I don't even care what the answer would be.

And as I said, that ain't my purpose. My purpose is to inspire people (if possible) and create books that would be useful for my own game and (hopefully) those of others as well. My purpose in writing these books is NOT to spit bile at ANYone...not even Wizards of the Coast, nor even 4th Edition "D&D."

I have a blog to do that.
; )

So much as I fantasized about taking my own stab at an illusionist class (and publishing it!) I will restrain myself. After all, there ARE other fish to fry.

For example, I was bumming around the 'net this afternoon and I ran into this little piece of Old School goodness I hadn't seen before. Hill Cantons has been around a while longer than the ol' B/X Blackrazor blog, but this is the first time I'd stumbled across it...surprisingly just doing a Google search for "LL AEC." And, man, am I glad I did because found HIS post about the Mountebank class to be completely inspiring.

So much so that the mountebank is going in the PLACE of the illusionist.

Now, I'm not a total rip-off, I don't think I am, anyway. For example, my version of the mountebank is entirely thief derived and mechanical and does not gain the ability to cast illusionist spells (sounds a little too much like that damn 2nd edition bard for my tastes). But I freely admit that if I had not come across this entry, there would only be 11 new classes slated for my book, instead of twelve.

Hmmm...maybe I should post MY version, and let y'all tell me what you think. Personally, I feel it's pretty badass...but I understand not everyone digs on the same stuff as me.
; )


  1. I wholeheartedly endorse the Mountebank class. Probably also claims any territory that might argue for a "Harlequin" class without being like having "a 'Shemp' class, but more Italian."

    Now, obviously the first question is how do they fit into the B/X facial hair paradigm? I think the Mountebank trademark is the Ringmaster/Salvador Dali type moustache, possibly curled into spirals, Mountebanks being distinguished from thieves due to immaculate freedom from stubble.

    What exactly do you mean by "mechanical?" Just "nonmagical?" or smokepowders and gadgets, etc?

    I think the danger of of a Mountebank is that he risks ending up "like the Thief, but worse."

    Abilities I could see fitting well with a mountebank might include

    - Superior saving throws? (or something like the 3e rogue's 'evasion,' an ability I always liked)

    - Some of the stuff from the much maligned thief-acrobat portfolio?

    - A limited version of the abilities of the "Alchemist" hireling? (I can't really divorce the term "mountebank" from the selling of dubious patent medicines.)

    I was going to say 1d4 HP seemed low before I remembered "well, that IS what the thief gets!" Though maybe Mountebanks are hardier due to the regular consumption of their own snake oil :)

    I leave you with this:

  2. I like the idea of the mountebank as having a certain amount of illusionist powers, but not as part of a fast talking charlatan. Instead I'm thinking of a "power behind the throne" kind of archetype, built as something of an assassin/illusionist hybrid. The illusion component is suggested by the old (and bunkum) legends of the Hashashin, where they supposedly they recruited operatives by:

    "After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is would awaken. Here, they were told by an “old” man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause."

    Not necessarily evil -- even good leaders may need the help a Chief Whip or savvy courtesan to bring people around to their way of thinking -- but certainly morally ambiguous, their particular skills would revolve around assessing people and situations, and convincing, manipulating, and possibly deceiving people. While they may not make especially dangerous opponents themselves, they would rarely be short of henchmen or assistants.

    There are many examples of the archetype in literature, from Tolkein's Wormtongue, many characters in the Song of Fire & Ice, the machinations of the Aes Sedai and Thom Merillin playing 'the great game' in the Wheel of Time, or the political manouvers of the Bene Gesserit in Dune. History gives us many other characters (who frequently veer towards literature too), such as Cesare Borgia, the blind Doge Dandolo of Venice, Cardinal Richelieu, and the many "numbers men" and spin doctors behind contemporary politics.

  3. @ PCB:

    See, I can interpret all of this with my current version of the mountebank.

    - backstabbing me that IS assassination
    - fast talk skill...doesn't have to be literal "fast talking;" the guy has a glib tongue (hence the reaction bonus, the ability to use Int instead of Cha, etc.)
    - as for the drugging...I see this as the ability to "brew potions and tonics." After all, what's a potion of delusion anyway?

    Just because the mountebank has the potential to be silly does NOT mean it has to be played that way. They can be deadly earnest manipulators and merchants of deceit...if played that way. A Chaotic mountebank would be absolutely without scruples.