Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Experts/Specialists for 3.5/LotFP/B/X-OSE


Happy New Year! It’s time to get back to blogging. I have a few ideas that have been rattling around in my brain, mostly of the RPG variety.

Going back nearly seven years ago, I blogged about how I had started working on a class guide for Expert characters for the 3.5 Edition of the game. I never did finish that book, although I got relatively far in a few sections. Rather than let all that work go to waste, I’m going to put my ideas here in the blog. However, to give it a bit of a great appeal, I’m going to work on translating a few of the ideas to different systems. I’ll be presenting the main information still with 3.5 era mechanics, but then I’ll also include notes for using the material for both Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well as B/X D&D (which should also cover the new Old School Essentials retro-clone).

For LotFP, I’m using the original Player Core Book: Rules & Magic, and mostly translating my expert class ideas into the Specialist class, as well as including a few new skills for the game, all based on LotFP’s “1-in-6” base mechanic.

For B/X, I opted to use a modified version of an old article from Dragon magazine way back in issue #109 (May, 1986) called “Customized Classes: How to Put Together One-of-a-Kind Characters”) by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh. In the article, Paul broke down each class from BECMI D&D into its base components of hit die, level caps, allowable armor and weapons, racial abilities, magical abilities, allowable magic items, saving throws, hit progression, and also added in a new category for specialties (abilities used by specialist hirelings such as alchemists, armorers, or spies). Each class starts out at a base level of XP needed for the next level, and then each different kind of ability, armor, weapon, hit die, etc., adds a percentage XP premium (e.g., no armor is a 0% cost, but shields is +10%, leather armor is +20%, etc.). He then reverse engineers all of the basic seven classes to show how their XP tables work with his formulas. Using his formulas does change the XP tables (for example, the B/X Thief needs 1,200 XP to advance to 2nd level, whereas using Crabaugh’s formula, it requires 1,460). Using Crabaugh’s formula, some of the expert options might look like the XP is a little high, especially if you use standard B/X or OSE XP tables; in that case, just adjust the XP tables below down a bit.  

I’m keeping all my wording for my first draft of the original book, which, again, was written for 3.5 and therefore included a lot of extraneous language that OSR type games don’t use. If you’re wanting to use these ideas in a more OSR version of the game, just scroll down to the appropriate section.

Given the amount of work I’ll be doing to convert these to LotFP and B/X, I’m just going to start with two class options today and work on putting more out over the coming weeks.

Lastly, all of these options were originally created under the mantra of “enhance, but never change,” so I didn’t do anything mechanically to the Expert NPC class to make it more suitable for adventuring by increasing the hit die or giving it additional class abilities, etc. The main theme of my book was that the Expert is one of the most versatile character classes, even though it’s only an NPC class, because of its ability to select 10 different class skills at 1st level. The options I presented were mainly about how to pick those 10 skills to make interesting adventurers; later in the book, I began adding new skills and options for things like gunpowder, alchemy, and inventions, that were intended for “experts only” as a well to give them a bit of a boost without fundamentally changing the basics of the class.

(I had a lot of trouble with formatting my tables below - they look fine in my Word doc but when I copied them over into Blogger, a lot of the borders got messed up and I couldn't figure out how to fix them.)

CHARACTER CONCEPTS
 The expert class is nearly limitless in its applications.  The ability to choose any 10 skills as class skills creates the opportunity to develop all different types of experts, from craftsman and artisans to specialized scholars and scientists.  The concepts presented below are not meant to be exhaustive; rather, they are idea starters – examples to help both players and Games Masters realize the full potential of the expert class.  A book this size cannot hope to provide details on every type of expert imaginable.  Therefore, it is assumed that players may use the ideas below as the basis for creating their own expert character concepts (with the approval of their Games Master, of course!). 

Although adhering to basic tenets of the expert class, these expert character concepts are somewhat more powerful than the concepts presented in other books in the Collector Series.  This was done deliberately, in an attempt to help balance the weakness of the expert non-player character class and put it at slightly more equal footing with the other classes presented in Core Rulebook I.  While each concept does include a penalty, these penalties do not necessarily always balance with the benefits provided by the concept.  Many of the concepts include the idea of benefits that scale with class level.  As such, care should be taken if applying these concepts to any other core player character class to avoid creating more powerful characters.

Some of the character concepts in this chapter also differ slightly from those found in other volumes of Mongoose Publishing’s Collectors Series in that they provide bonuses that increase with character level.  These bonuses are intended to reward players who continue taking levels in the expert class, as they will be at a disadvantage when compared to players who are using core classes from Core Rulebook I.  The bonuses only increase when the character takes another level in the expert class.  Multi-class characters do not gain these bonuses when taking levels in a non-expert class. 

Each concept below includes background information and rules-based benefits and penalties.  In addition, each concept provides a suggested list of the 10 skills the player would select at 1st level.  These skills may of course be changed to fit the particular campaign or world in which the character’s adventures take place.  As with all character concepts presented in the Collector Series, each character may take only one concept at 1st level.  

One last note about the character concepts: these concepts are intended to portray many of the archetypes of fantasy experts who would also have reason to adventure.  Player characters are the heroes of the game, while non-player characters are the people in the background – the workers, laborers, aristocrats, and guards.  Given the scope that the expert class covers, it would be impossible to include all types.  This book concentrates on those experts that would make good adventurers or add something to an adventuring party.  Other more common types of experts, such as tailors and chefs, are not included in this work.  If you desire a real role-playing challenge, feel free to create such an expert for yourself.  While you will not be very effective in combat, you’ll have some great stories to tell about how and why your tailor accompanied a group that assaulted the dragon’s lair!

APPRENTICE ALCHEMIST 

The art and science of alchemy is one that is difficult to learn.  An apprenticeship in this field usually lasts far longer than it would for another profession, and many an apprentice alchemist becomes weary of mundane responsibilities such as gathering ingredients and cleaning the laboratory.  Still, an apprentice alchemist learns many useful tasks, including how to prepare glass vials to hold his potions, dusts, and gases, and the rudimentary mixing of materials.  Part scientist and part magician, an apprentice alchemist who perseveres and continues on the path to true alchemy stands to gain much for his patience.  

Adventuring:  Alchemists find it difficult to travel, given their need for a laboratory in which to work.  Even so, when new and strange materials are needed, it is the apprentice alchemist who will be sent by his master to gather them.  An apprentice alchemist freed from his master for such a task will often discover that life is better away from the lab and out in the open world.  Most apprentice alchemists are young and still have a sense of adventure stored up inside them.  With his head for scientific methods and ability to quickly craft useful alchemical tools and items, the apprentice alchemist makes a fine addition to an adventuring party, especially one light on magical ability.

Role-Playing:  Many apprentice alchemists spend their youth under the strict tutelage of a much older, and often cantankerous, master alchemist.  The constant barrage of insults, commands, and even beatings can create a meek individual, one afraid of his own shadow and who does his best to please those whom he senses are in command.  Such characters, despite their knowledge, will often defer to the strongest person in the group when decisions need to be made and will rarely be the first to offer their opinion.  Others apprentices become so hardened by their experiences as an apprentice that they act in an opposite manner, using all of their skills and talents to prove how strong and powerful they are. 

Bonuses: The apprentice alchemist gains the Alchemical Familiarity feat for free at 1st level (see the Feats chapter for details).  Additionally, an apprentice alchemist gains the ability to craft alchemical items with superior speed.  When making Craft (alchemy) checks to create alchemical items, his daily progress is counted in silver pieces instead of copper pieces.

Penalties: While his master teaches him how to identify magical potions, the apprentice alchemist is not very learned in the ways of other types of arcane mysteries.  For all checks using the Spellcraft skill, with the exception of using it to identify potions, he takes a -2 penalty.  Additionally, the apprentice alchemist spends a lot of time in the laboratory and hardly any time in combat.  He does not gain proficiency in light armor as most other experts do.  He may spend a feat later to gain light armor proficiency if he wishes. 
 
Class Skills: Appraise, Craft (alchemy), Craft (glassblowing), Decipher Script, Heal, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (metallurgy), Knowledge (nature), Spellcraft, Use Magic Device

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Version
Use the Specialist class as a base. You’ll need to add a new Craft skill to the game; there’s a good one already made specifically for LotFP at the blog Blood, Death, Satan & Metal. Using that skill system, your Specialist could put the most points into Craft (Alchemy) and Craft (glassblowing), and then pick whatever other skills the character wishes from the list as presented in the LotFP rulebook (page 17); Languages would be a logical first choice.

In the 3.5 version of the rules, Craft (alchemy) was mainly for creating items like Acid, Alchemist’s Fire, Smokesticks, Tindertwigs, Antitoxins, Sunrods, Tanglefoot Bags, and Thunderstones. These items as presented don’t exist in the LotFP rules; instead, characters with this skill might make items such as Drugs and Poisons (LotFP, page 36). In some games, the character may even be able to craft some low-level potions that replicate first-level spells (LotFP, page 81) such as Comprehend Languages or Cure Light Wounds. In this specific case, the Alchemist Apprentice would be allowed to craft low-level potions like this even though he doesn’t have any spellcasting levels.

Other than ability to use the Craft (alchemy) skill, the character would otherwise be treated like a Specialist and follow the normal rules for that class.

B/X Version
For this version, using the “Customized Classes” article, I came up with the following:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alchemist.png
See page for author [Public domain] 

·        Requirements: None
·        Prime Requisite: INT
·        Hit Dice: d4
·        Maximum Level: 14
·        Armor: Leather, No Shields
·        Weapons: Clubs, Crossbows, Daggers, Hammers, Maces, Slings, Spears, Staves
·        Languages: Alignment, Common










Alchemist Apprentice Level Progression




Saving Throws
Level
XP
HD
THACO
Death/ Poison
Wands
Paralysis/ Petrify
Breath Attacks
Spells/ Rods/ Staves
1
0
1d4
19
13
14
13
16
15
2
1,240
2d4
19
13
14
13
16
15
3
2,480
3d4
19
13
14
13
16
15
4
4,960
4d4
19
13
14
13
16
15
5
9,920
5d4
17
12
13
11
14
13
6
19,840
6d4
17
12
13
11
14
13
7
39,680
7d4
17
12
8
11
14
13
8
77,500
8d4
17
12
13
11
14
13
9
155,000
9d4
14
10
11
9
12
10
10
232,500
9d4 +2*
14
10
11
9
12
10
11
385,000
9d4 +4*
14
10
11
9
12
10
12
481,250
9d4 +6*
14
10
11
9
12
10
13
625,625
9d4 +8*
12
8
9
7
10
8
14
770,000
9d4 +10*
12
8
9
7
10
8
* Modifiers from CON no longer apply






Alchemy Check Bonuses
Level
Bonus to INT Check
1
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
5
-1
6
-1
7
-1
8
-1
9
-2
10
-2
11
-2
12
-2
13
-3
14
-3


Class Abilities:
·        Magic Items Allowed: Weapons, Potions/Rings, Miscellaneous Magic
·        Alchemy: The alchemist apprentice has the ability to recognize and identify common alchemical substances, potions, and poisons. A successful check will allow the character to create an antidote potion for one specific type of poison (with DM approval). Additionally, if given a formula or a sample, an alchemist may make a duplicate potion at half the normal time and cost. Alchemists may also conduct research into different types of potions at twice the cost and time required for a magic-user. Using alchemy requires an ability check against the alchemist apprentice’s INT score (roll a d20 and compare to INT; if the result is equal to or less than the alchemist apprentice’s INT score, the alchemy check succeeds). Each different use of alchemy requires a separate check.

BLACKSMITH

The blacksmith is a staple of fantasy literature and medieval adventure stories, such as the character Kate the Farrier from the movie A Knight’s Tale.  The blacksmith is skilled at working with iron and steel, and also might work with more exotic metals such as mithral or adamantine.  A maker of tools, horseshoes and other mundane items made of metal, the blacksmith expert class is also knowledgeable in the craft of making weapons and armor.  Usually one of the more important members of a community, the blacksmith is almost never out of work. 

Adventuring:  A good blacksmith can make a very decent living in his hometown, and therefore seldom has much incentive to leave the comforts of home for the dangerous life of the adventurer.  Some blacksmiths, however, desire to travel and see more of the world.  Others seek out the challenge of finding rare metals to create specialized items worth thousands of gold pieces.  Lastly, adventuring parties often hire blacksmiths who have an adventurous streak in them.  Weapons and armor always need to be repaired while on a quest; having a blacksmith along helps keep items in proper working condition. 

Role-Playing:  Working at the forge all day is very hard work; consequently, many blacksmiths have short tempers.  This gruff exterior is rarely indicative of the blacksmith’s true nature, however, which is usually friendly and helpful.  At one point or another, most people in the town will find a need for the blacksmith’s services, and a good blacksmith learns the art of dealing with all types of people.  In his role as a maker of horseshoes, the blacksmith also gains a certain affinity for working with and training horses.  Blacksmithing requires a mixture of art and science, and both sides are equally represented in the blacksmith’s personality. 

Bonuses:  The blacksmith uses a lot of tools, but one of the most important is his hammer.  Blacksmiths are automatically proficient in the use of the light hammer and warhammer.  Additionally, if a blacksmith makes any other martial weapon himself, the non-proficiency penalty for using the weapon is reduced to –2 (instead of the normal –4 penalty).  Lastly, working at the forge all day provides the blacksmith with a certain tolerance for heat.  Beginning at 2nd level, the blacksmith gains Fire Resistance equal to ½ his expert class level (rounded down) to a total of Fire Resistance 10 at 20th level.

Penalties:  The blacksmith must concentrate on his skills, and therefore must put maximum ranks into Craft (blacksmithing) and one other Craft skill, such as Craft (weaponsmithing) or Craft (armorsmithing).  While working at the forge provides the blacksmith with a tolerance to heat, the constant pounding gradually reduces his hearing.  He takes a –4 penalty to all Listen checks. 

Skills:  Appraise, Concentration, Craft (armorsmithing), Craft (blacksmithing), Craft (weaponsmithing), Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Knowledge (metallurgy), Profession (farrier)

Options: In some campaigns, the blacksmith might also be skilled at making gunpowder weapons, and the player may want to switch out one of his other skills for Craft (gunsmithing), with Games Master approval. 


Lamentations of the Flame Princess Version
Use the Specialist class as a base. You’ll need to add a new Craft skill to the game; there’s a good one already made specifically for LotFP at the blog Blood, Death, Satan & Metal. Using that skill system, your Specialist would put the most points into Craft (Armorer), Craft (Blacksmithing) and Craft (Weaponmaking), and then pick whatever other skills the character wishes from the list as presented in the LotFP rulebook (page 17); Architecture and Tinker could make sense depending on the concept for your blacksmith.

Other than using the new Craft skill as defined above, the character would otherwise be treated like a Specialist and follow the normal rules for that class.

B/X Version
 
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_fragua.jpg
Francisco Goya [Public domain]
·        Requirements: None
·        Prime Requisite: INT
·        Hit Dice: d6
·        Maximum Level: 14
·        Armor: Leather, No Shields
·        Weapons: Clubs, Daggers, Hammers, Maces, Swords
·        Languages: Alignment, Common




















Blacksmith Level Progression




Saving Throws
Level
XP
HD
THACO
Death/ Poison
Wands
Paralysis/ Petrify
Breath Attacks
Spells/ Rods/ Staves
1

1d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
2
1,300
2d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
3
2,600
3d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
4
5,200
4d6
19
10
11
12
13
14
5
10,400
5d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
6
20,800
6d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
7
41,600
7d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
8
81,250
8d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
9
162,500
9d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
10
243,750
9d6 +1*
14
6
7
8
8
10
11
325,000
9d6 +2*
14
6
7
8
8
10
12
406,250
9d6 +3*
14
6
7
8
8
10
13
487,500
9d6 +4*
12
4
5
6
5
8
14
568,750
9d6 +5*
12
4
5
6
5
8
* Modifiers from CON no longer apply






Class Abilities:
·        Magic Items Allowed: Armor, Weapons
·        Smithing: The blacksmith may make nonmagical armor and weapons at the rate of one suit of armor, three shields, or five weapons per month of non-adventuring time. The blacksmith may also make smaller items such as nails, horseshoes, shovels, cooking equipment, and complex wrought iron items if desired.  Using smithing requires an ability check against the blacksmith’s INT score (roll a d20 and compare to INT; if the result is equal to or less than the blacksmith’s INT score, the smithing check succeeds).
·        Horse Training: The blacksmith has a familiarity working with horses, and knows how to raise, train, and care for all types of horses. The blacksmith may teach a horse simple tricks or orders. The first trick or command taught requires one month of training; subsequent commands require two additional weeks of training per command. Using horse training requires an ability check against the blacksmith’s WIS score. A separate check is required for each trick.
·        Fire Resistance: A blacksmith has a -1 bonus to all saving throws made against attacks involving fire.



That’s all for today. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions on these experts. 


Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Earlier today I had a Hanky Panky (a classic pre-Prohibition cocktail) and a Eagle Rock Brewery Populist IPA
Listening: "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James, from "Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions"

5 comments:

  1. Holy cow - that's a lot of development work! Thanks for this!

    These feel very much like the entry-level careers in WFRP.

    I've had similar characters in my B/X game, but I chose to keep things as simple as possible - rather than provide a complete rules structure to support them, I treated them as 0-level, class-less characters until they got a little experience, then funneled them into the class that made the most sense. (Fighter acted as the default class.) As for their special talents, we just kept in mind where they started from and "played it by ear." :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chris!

      That's actually a great way to handle these, now that I think about it. I have a bunch of other concepts that honestly wouldn't make great adventurers, such as the Cartographer, Herbalist, Historian, Scribe, and stone Mason. For the Cartographer and Historian, specifically, I was having trouble figuring out how best to translate them into B/X or LotFP classes without having to create a bunch of new skills for those games, which wasn't my goal. But, I think your idea of treating them as 0-level background professions makes a lot of sense.

      Then I had a few other class concepts that I think could make some interesting adventurer types, including a Demolitionist (for games that use gunpowder weapons), Guide, Inventor (and there were rules for creating inventions), Monster Specialist (has studied extensively about certain monster categories/types), Sailor, and Trader. I felt that those, along with the Alchemist Apprentice, were a little more prone to being adventurer archetypes.

      In the original proposal, the owner of Mongoose had also included "Doxy" as a concept he wanted to develop, so I made one of those in my original treatment, but not sure I'd want to include it any longer.

      Lastly, I had a pretty neat section on multi-classing Experts with other classes, particularly Clerics & Paladins (artifact seekers; they traded out some class abilities to gain a rogue's trapfinding ability), Fighters (sappers, artillerists, and arms crafters), sorcerers (arcane investigators), and wizards (arcane artisans).

      I think those might also be fun to write up on the blog and then figure out how to recreate them in OSR games like OSE-B/X and LotFP.

      Delete
    2. Yup... definitely sounding like WFRP basic careers. :)

      As for the doxy, I vote to keep it - it may seem non-politically correct, but feminism in a medieval setting means women making their way anyway they can in a brutal man's world. Doxies, tavern wenches, etc. could bring a whole new aspect of strength, defiance, and social skills to a party. IMHO. :)

      Delete
    3. Let me know what you think of the 0-level characters I posted last week. Per your suggestion, I kept the doxy.

      Delete
    4. Awesome! Don't know why I didn't see these posts - I'll set aside some time this weekend to give 'em a read. :)

      Delete

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