Friday, April 19, 2013

Exceptional B/X Classes (P. 2)

[continued from here...sorry about the delayed gratification but the post was getting long]

Each basic class needs their standard abilities and restrictions carefully considered as each exceptional variant will still be based on one of these base classes. Let’s see:


Prime Requisite: STR. Hit Dice: D8 (+2 HP per level after nine). No restriction on armor or weapons; training in shields. +1 attack bonus per HD.


Prime Requisite: WIS. Hit Dice: D6 (+1 HP per level after nine). No restriction on armor; simple (blunt) weapons and daggers only. +1 attack bonus per two HD (rounded up). Divine spells up to 5th level. Lawful holy men can turn undead; Chaotic holy men can use reverse spells; Neutral holy men choose one or the other.


Prime Requisite: INT. Hit Dice: D4 (+1 HP per level after nine). Abilities restricted by armor; simple (blunt) weapons and daggers only. +1 attack bonus per two HD (rounded up), but subtract one from overall attack bonus. Magician spells up to 7th level (‘cause that’s just how I roll). Magicians of 9th level can engage in magic item creation.


Prime Requisite: DEX. Hit Dice: D4 (+2 HP per level after nine). Abilities restricted by armor; simple (blunt) weapons and daggers only. +1 attack bonus per two HD (rounded up). Thief abilities and bushwhack (i.e. backstab) ability.

That is, of course, the brief synopsis of each basic class...any actual rule book would better define stuff for the newbie user. XP tables would be about the same, but I’m not totally sure about that. Since it’s my version of the B/X game, I’d probably add a bunch of 5AKisms like “fighting styles” for fighters and automatic “detect magic” ability in magicians…but for now, this will do.

NOW, we get to the fun part: exceptional variants. Each variant class should add to the basic class, giving a number of cool bonuses that the average Joe doesn’t get, perhaps with a minor tradeoff or two. However, each class should also have filters to keep the class undesirable to anyone not truly dedicated to the concept. Here are the “fantasy” classes I’d consider for each basic class (I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these):

-        Amazon
-        Barbarian
-        Beast Master

-        Druid
-        Paladin
-        Witch Hunter

-        Bard
-        Sorcerer
-        Witch

-        Assassin
-        Mountebank
-        Thief-Acrobat

Each exceptional class should take a 10% hit in earned XP; in addition, while all exceptional classes have the same prime requisite as their base class, they do NOT receive bonuses for high prime requisites (only penalties). Characters with exceptional classes tend to advance SLOWER than base classes.

Now don’t assume these would look anything like their previous write-ups (in AEC or TCBXA)…like I said, the point is to make them exceptional, NOT balanced. The assassin for example would be much closer to its OD&D counterpart:

Weak sauce? No.
Assassin advantages: auto-kill on successful bushwhack attack (opponent save vs. death); training in shields and all weapons; +2 bonus to save versus poison; manufacture poison at 4th level; disguise added ability. Trade-off: thief abilities (other than bushwhack) as if a thief two levels lower than actual level.

Not much of a trade-off, right? Who wouldn’t want such a character? You’re basically a low-HP fighter with back-stabbing ability and a bonus to poison saves until 3rd level, when you really start to rock n' roll...which is why you need to apply FILTERS:
  • One-half of all treasure found is to be given to the guild master for use in guild activities (mainly bribes to local officials). Roll 2D8 for each magic item found; if roll is LESS THAN the character’s level, the guild master desires the item for his own (give it up, pal). For truly special or unique items, DM should roll 2D6 or 2D4. 
  • Every adventure roll D6; if the result is six or more the character has a “special assignment” he’s required to fulfill during the adventure (assigned by the DM). Failure indicates no XP is awarded for adventure. Every session that goes by without a mission, add a cumulative +1 to the D6 roll.
  • Characters are expected to stay in good standing with guild; any failure to hand over treasure or failure in special assignments require a check for possible expulsion (cumulative 10% chance per offense). Expulsion results in the assassin being hunted by his former guild mates (one in six chance of being ambushed during any given adventure session by group of D6 assassins; the lead assassin will have D12 levels of experience; other assassins in the ambush party will have half as many levels as the lead). Pursuit only ends with the destruction of old guild (death of the guild master will not end pursuit as a lieutenant will take up the master's mantle).

Sweet, huh?
: )


  1. I want to play that assassin. O.O If this is the kind of thing we're going to see in 5AK, count me in.

  2. That's awesome. The assassin sounds like a great way to enable games and to make actions have consequences. I'd love to see what you'd do with some of those other variant classes!

  3. Superb stuff, as always. I really like where this is going. You can't leave us hanging *now*, JB! We gotta see those exceptional variants fleshed out!

  4. I like a lot of how you're handling classes. I hate subclasses with the theme "like the main class, only more awesome." In some ways this reminds me of the Vault of Pandius bx class template - - there's a similar underlying logic that there are trade offs and no class is clearly superior to any other. Have you looked at that?

  5. @ Infornic:

    I'm very familiar with Vault of Pandius, having even written a few articles for it, back when I was in love with BECMI (oh, yes...I was!). days I find it a little too generic and bland for my tastes.

    Just my opinion.

  6. I like it. Suggestion though...make the lead assassin 6+d6 level, or 4+d8. Guarentee some 1st level noob isn't sent after the offender!