Friday, January 31, 2020

Part 2: Experts/Specialists for 3.5/LotFP/B/X-OSE

Following up on my last post about different expert type characters for various editions of D&D, this presents a few more of my “character concepts” that I originally created for the 3.5 Edition. As I was working on trying to translate them to different OSR systems, I struggled with how to make some of them “adventurer worthy.” Quite a few of the concepts I created, while they work with the mechanics of the expert NPC class for the 3.5 rules, wouldn’t necessarily work in earlier version of the game without adding too many fiddly rules or new skills, which is antithetical to OSR sensibilities.

After chatting in the comments with Chris from “A Rust Monster Ate My Sword” on my last expert post, I’ve decided that these particular expert types are more likely to be good 0-level characters for OSR games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or B/X or Old School Essentials. So, in this case, I’m not going to provide stats for the OSR games, but you can still use the background information to play a 0-level character in those games if you want a challenge and to emulate something similar to the “character creation funnel” from Dungeon Crawl Classics. As Chris noted in his comments to me, “…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’.”

One last note on these; as I mentioned in my comments on the last post, the publisher at the time had originally proposed the “Doxy” as an expert type he wanted covered in the book. I wrote one up for my original proposal, but was considering not including it here until Chris mentioned in the comments to my last post that I should include it. My hope is that no one is offended by including it.

With all that out of the way, today I present the Cartographer, Doxy, Herbalist, Historian, Scribe, and Stone Mason.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and comments. I’ll have some more actual classes for LotFP and B/X-OSE in a future post.
The original uploader was SITCK at Luxembourgish Wikipedia. [Public domain]

A good cartographer can be an adventurer’s best friend.  In a world filled with magic, monsters, and treasure, it takes more than a little bit of luck to survive.  It takes knowledge.  When an adventurer hears a tale from a wizened old man in the corner of the tavern about a dragon’s treasure horde that exists in a mountain hideaway “somewhere beyond Pegasus Peak”, the first thing he’s likely to do is try to obtain a map to the area.  A well-drawn map can help a smart adventuring party find the path of least resistance to their quarry.  Cartographers often congregate in areas that are well known to adventuring parties.  Certain locales just seem to have more than their share of mysterious keeps, ancient ruins, and fantastic treasures.  Cartographers set up shop in the villages near these areas, making a tidy profit by selling maps to groups of explorers.  Many are also excellent copiers, and will offer to neatly copy an adventurer’s hastily scribbled maps for him.  The unscrupulous cartographer will also commit this information to memory so that she may create duplicate copies to sell. 

Adventuring:  Like many of the more scholarly types of experts, cartographers are not known to be adventurers.  Their trade requires a workspace complete with drawing tools, paper, atlases, globes, and other reference materials.  A cartographer who has mastered his craft can earn a tidy sum selling his maps to adventuring parties or even to armchair explorers.  For a few, though, the lure of seeing the places they have drawn becomes too great, and some cartographers will leave the safety of their study to take up the life of adventuring, seeking to offer their services to a group of well-equipped adventurers.  If they survive their first expedition outside their workshop, they may be tempted to put their map-making skills to use in a different form.  More rugged types of cartographers may become rangers, while the more studious sort might be tempted to attach themselves to a wizard for arcane training. 

Role-Playing:  The profession of cartography often involves serious schooling to learn the scientific principals of geography and geology as well as history in order to interpret ancient maps correctly.  As such, the cartographer may be among the most educated members of an adventuring party.  She will be quick to point out that she knows the quickest routes to reach the party’s destination.  However, she may become defensive when it becomes apparent to the rest of the group that her knowledge is mainly academic and that she lacks the practical, real-world experience of a guide. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  As a master of her craft, the cartographer gains a +2 bonus to all Craft (cartography) checks.  She also gains a +2 bonus to all Decipher Script checks made to recognize and interpret ancient symbols on maps.  In her role as a copier of maps, she may add ½ of her expert class level to all Forgery checks made to copy maps, and may always Take 10 on Forgery checks to copy maps, even when stress or distractions would normally prevent her from doing so. 

Penalties:  The cartographer is not a skilled combatant, and only receives the weapon proficiencies of a wizard. 

Skills:  Appraise, Craft (drawing), Craft (cartography), Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Forgery, Gather Information, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (history), Profession (cartographer) 

Gerrit van Honthorst, The Procuress, 1625, oil on panel,
71 x 104 cm. Centraal Museum, Utrecht, inv. no. 10786
(artwork in the public domain) 

The world’s oldest profession?  Perhaps.  Defined as a wench with loose morals, doxies can be everything from common tarts and mistresses to more socially acceptable concubines and courtesans who might live with the more influential members of society.  What sets them apart is their ability to use the powers of seduction to their advantage. 

Professional doxies who act as courtesans may not be at the top of the social ladder, but they certainly are not at the bottom, either.  Consorting with members of the nobility tends to elevate the social status of the courtesan.  Given her financial independence, many a doxy spends her money to become educated, with an eye toward her future. 

Whether highly paid courtesan, legal concubine, street-wise tart, or professional escort, the doxy character concept covers the gamut of experts who use a combination of seduction, comeliness, and the skills of love to make their way in the world. 

Adventuring:  The life of a doxy can be tough or easy, depending upon the path that one chooses, and also on how one looks.  While the doxy profession itself has its own particular set of adventures, there are many other opportunities for adventure outside of the bedroom.  Professional courtesans with access to the nobility and other wealthy members of society become privy to highly prized secrets, and these secrets can fetch quite a price from the right bidder.  Other types of doxies may find adventures in a more mundane manner, simply by travelling to a new town to find new and (with a bit of luck) wealthier clients.     

Role-Playing:  Doxies are usually the most outgoing types of characters in the adventuring party.  This extroverted behaviour may be part of their true personality or it may simply be a means of getting the job done.  Either way, it does help them immensely when dealing with members of the opposite sex.  Some doxies are a little more discreet, keeping in the shadows but observing and noting everything of importance.  Others are outspoken, obnoxious tarts, ready to take on anything that comes their way.  In any case, one should not assume that the doxy is simply a girl with low self-esteem who never had a chance for a better life. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  As part of their profession, doxies learn how to read people, especially potential targets for their affections.  They receive a +2 bonus to all Sense Motive checks.  This distrusting nature of people, along with their own ability to charm those who find them attractive, grants the doxy a +1 bonus to all Will saves versus charms and enchantments.  Lastly, the doxy may re-roll one failed Bluff, Intimidate, or Perform check versus people who would be sexually interested in her.  She can make this check once per person every 24 hours. 

Penalties: Although she is a very captivating and alluring individual, the doxy’s seductive skills can be offensive and annoying to those who would not normally be sexually interested in her advances.  Against such individuals, she must take a -2 penalty to all Charisma-based skill checks, as they see through her “charms” and find her irritating.  The Games Master has final say on who would be sexually attracted to the doxy, but it is recommended that he allow some latitude.  Race and gender should not automatically be considered as reasons to impose the penalty on the doxy. 

Skills: Appraise, Bluff, Disguise, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Perform (character’s choice of one type), Profession (doxy), Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spot
unknown master [Public domain]

In rural areas with limited access to civilized medicine, the herbalist is the one who is trusted with the medical procedures for the community.  A creator of folk remedies, herbal potions, and various ointments, salves, and poultices, the herbalist is a combination of healer, gardener, and naturalist.  Depending upon the campaign, she may also be a chef, midwife, mystic, witch, counselor, and perhaps even town leader.

Herbs are grown for a variety of purposes.  While most uses are benign, including culinary and healing, there is a dark side to the practice of herbalism that involves poisons.  For this reason, fair or not, some people give herbalists a wide berth and are leery of trusting an herbalist, no matter how well-intentioned she may be. 

In general, despite this wariness the common folk are quick to set aside their apprehensions when they need a curative potion or the help of a midwife during childbirth.  The herbalist is happy to oblige, as her art is primarily concerned with improving the overall health of herself and her community. 

Adventuring:  An herbalist’s adventures will principally be focused on the gathering of new herbs for her concoctions.  While some herbs are quite common and readily available in most climates, some of the most powerful herbs are extremely rare and can be found in only certain areas during a specific time of year.  An herbalist may find herself needing to travel quite extensively to gather these ingredients.  She is sure to encounter many obstacles along the way, including fierce beasts, distrustful townspeople, and severe weather conditions.  A good herbalist will be prepared to face all such circumstances as needed.

Role-Playing:  Herbalists, like most characters, are a varied lot.  Most herbalists conform to a certain common model, being wise in the ways of the natural world but perhaps a little uncomfortable within the modern trappings of civilized society.  As the healer of the common people, the vast majority of herbalists are known to be kind, well-meaning individuals who care for the health and safety of both friends and strangers.  Given their above-average wisdom and simpler lifestyle, the herbalist brings a unique viewpoint to an adventuring party, and may question purely mercenary decisions that are made solely to gather more wealth or to harm innocents. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  The herbalist may use Craft (herbalism) to make special herbal concoctions (see the Tools of the Trade Chapter).  As a trained forager, the herbalist adds a bonus equal to ½ of her expert class level to all Survival checks she makes when foraging for materials to make herbal concoctions.  Additionally, in her role as a folk medicine healer, the herbalist gains a +2 bonus to all Heal checks she makes. 

Penalties: While the herbalist is able to make powerful herbal mixtures and usually enjoys good social status in her community, she is usually not blessed with wealth.  She starts with the minimum amount of starting gold.  Herbalists are also not known for their combat skills, and their initial weapon selection is limited to the dagger and staff only.    

Skills: Concentration, Craft (herbalism), Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nature), Profession (midwife), Sense Motive, Survival, Use Magic Device

Options: A male herbalist, or one who is less focused on assisting childbirth, may trade out Profession (midwife) for Profession (cook) or Profession (gardener).
Quentin Matsys [Public domain]

The historian devotes his life to learning the lessons of the past and then applying those lessons to modern-day life.  One of a variety of scholarly experts, the historian has a special place in many campaign worlds where the ruins of ancient civilizations dot the landscape.  Deserted dwarven strongholds, rotting elven tree cities, and the crumbling monuments left by prehistoric human cultures all await discovery and exploration.  The historian, while not necessarily equipped to brave these places on his own, is ultimately the best equipped person to pinpoint the location of such fantastic sites that may have been lost for centuries. 

Bards, and to a lesser extent wizards, both have some knowledge of history which they use on a daily basis.  Bards, however, are concerned mainly with the entertainment aspect of his knowledge, seeking to tell a good tale which will earn him a few silver pieces.  A wizard learns history mostly from a desire to improve his mastery of magic, and therefore he focuses only on the arcane secrets of the past. 

Only the historian is an expert on history, having a breadth of knowledge covering the millennia and encompassing the wisdom of many different types of sentient creatures.  Armed with this knowledge, the historian may be able to answer many questions that his adventuring companions may encounter, such as the potential powers of a mysterious magical artifact, or the reason behind the ancient feud between two warring clans. 

Adventuring: While perhaps not generating the immediate image of an adventuring hero, the historian embodies the classic “arm-chair adventurer” who one day decides to experience the adventures first-hand.  Most fantasy campaign worlds are populated with the ruins of ancient cultures and the historian is a natural for adventuring in such places, seeking to learn new secrets from the wisdom of the people who built such civilizations.  A prudent historian will not travel by himself, but will gather the most professional explorers he can to help him with his archaeological expeditions.  

Role-Playing:  The well-educated and learned historian is likely very confident in his knowledge and may even be a little smug when it comes to the topic that he knows best.  Due to his education and his expertise when it comes to knowledge of history, he is likely to be the party leader when the adventure involves journeying to old ruins, searching for ancient battlegrounds, or uncovering long lost secrets.  Given his probable lack of combat expertise, the historian will be quick to rely on the skills of his comrades when any hostile situations arise. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  The historian adds a bonus equal to ½ of his expert class level to all Knowledge (history) checks that he makes.  In addition, if multi-classed as a bard or loremaster, he gains a +2 bonus to all bardic knowledge or lore checks that he makes.  Lastly, the historian is an inheritor of ancient secrets.  These secrets take the form of four bonus skill points that can be allocated to any Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom based skills.   The normal restriction on maximum skill ranks applies to these bonus skill points. 

Penalties: As he has devoted his life to study and education rather than more physical pursuits, the historian uses only a d4 for hit dice instead of the normal d6. 

Skills:  Concentration, Craft (writing), Decipher Script, Gather Information, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nobility & royalty), Knowledge (religion), Profession (historian), Search, Speak Language

Options: Some historians are less chroniclers than they are storytellers.  As such, you may decide to swap out Craft (writing) for Perform (storytelling).  Additionally, depending upon the historian’s area of focus, you may wish to change out Knowledge (nobility & royalty) and Knowledge (religion) for other pertinent knowledge topics that relate to history, such as Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (geography).
Jean Le Tavernier [Public domain]

The creation of identification papers, the drafting of letters of mark, the writing of laws, the copying of religious texts, and the inscribing of magical scrolls – all require the services of a trained and educated scribe.  In some worlds, the scribe is simply another professional, performing his daily duties by copying texts or chronicling political and legal events.  However, the scribe can do so much more beyond just these simple mundane tasks. 

In certain worlds, the scribe may be the only literate profession, capable of reading the lost secrets of a bygone age and copying the information down for posterity’s sake.  Some tyrannical governments may wish to keep certain facts from history hidden from public scrutiny, forcing the scribe underground where she protects her precious copies of these important documents. 

Religious orders, too, require the services of scribes to chronicle the history and rituals of their faith.  Some orders may even require all of their priests to have some basic knowledge and training as scribes before they advance to the priesthood. 

Many other organizations, from guilds to military orders to legal professionals all require the services of a scribe for record-keeping purposes.  Whatever the particular case, scribes have unique skills that are bound to be needed by an adventuring party sooner or later. 

Adventuring: Scribes are some of the least likely people to go adventuring.  Their skills, while extremely useful, are not necessarily applicable to a life of danger and adventure.  Despite this, a few scribes do indeed go on adventures.  Some religious scribes are sent by their orders to serve new temples.  Others are sent by their employers to oversee the record-keeping for new areas of operations.  A small few other scribes operate independently and may choose to go adventuring simply to add some spice to their otherwise relatively mundane lives.

Many scribes have found themselves embroiled in a dangerous adventure merely by happening to translate an ancient text.  Before she knows it, the innocent scribe is being hunted by secret organizations, bent on finding out exactly what she uncovered before other societies track her down to try to find out the same information. 

Role-Playing:  The cliché image of the scribe is somewhat bookish and meek, and does not paint the picture of the classic hero in most worlds.  As such, most scribes will defer to their comrades to make decisions during combat or other tense situations.  Even when it comes to more intellectual decisions that must be made, the mild and introverted scribe is likely to remain quiet.  Overall, the scribe knows that she relies on her fellow party members to keep her safe, so she would be unwise to upset them. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  The scribe gains a +1 bonus to all Decipher Script, Forgery, and Profession (scribe) checks that she makes.  She also gains read magic as a spell-like ability that she can use once per day per three levels in the expert class.  While using her read magic ability, the scribe may make a Profession (scribe) check versus DC 20.  If this check is successful, then she may make a Forgery check versus DC 15 plus the level of the spell.  If this check is also successful, the scribe may copy the spell from a scroll or spellbook to a new scroll or spellbook.  She cannot use the scroll herself, but she can sell it for a fee.  This ability is otherwise identical to the scribe scroll feat as detailed in Core Rulebook I, including the XP expenditure to write the scroll.  If the scribe fails the Forgery check to copy a spell, she has made a mistake, but she might not be aware of her mistake until she tries to sell the item.   

Penalties: The scribe is a poorly trained combatant and receives proficiencies only in the weapons that wizards can use.

Skills:  Appraise, Concentration, Craft (calligraphy), Craft (illumination), Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Forgery, Knowledge (nobility & royalty), Profession (scribe), Speak Language

Option: Religious scribes may trade out Speak Language or Knowledge (nobility & royalty) for Knowledge (religion).
Rueland Frueauf the Younger [Public domain]

Builders of defensive fortifications, vast cathedrals, and important monuments, stone masons are some of the most important craftspeople of society and often move within social circles of the nobility.  While massive protective walls, castles, aqueducts, and temples are usually the most visible works of the stone mason, many are also skilled artists and can work with rock and stone to create elegant statuary and elaborately carved decorative friezes.  The best and most famous stone masons may be commissioned by members of the aristocracy to create funerary monuments and other memorials.  It is also among the stone masons that many believe the very concept of the guild structure was created and codified.  While most types of skilled workers have since banded together to form powerful guilds, the Stone Mason’s Guild is thought to be the most powerful of all.

Adventuring:  A typical stone mason has very little reason to go adventuring.  Their skills, while valuable to society, are not as useful to the average band of adventurers.  While a few may seek out buried monuments to learn the building secrets of the ancients or to find new types of building materials, the vast majority are content to stay in their home village where their fame as a great builder can earn them a very comfortable living.  Still, life in a small provincial town can become tedious to some, and they may leave to find more exotic contracts in faraway lands.  His stout back and muscular arms can lend some much needed strength to a group of novice adventurers.

Role-Playing:  Although the stone mason is often physically strong, he has also had some schooling, learning principals of architecture and engineering.  As such, they are usually a good combination of brains and brawn.  The most artistic types of stone masons are often a little eccentric in nature, putting their craft above all other pursuits in life.  A sculptor, for example, may become distracted during a battle in an ancient, ruined temple if he spots an antique statue in the back of the room.  Those stone masons who are members of the Stone Mason’s Guild often may betray a sense of entitlement that comes from knowing they belong to one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the world.

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses: A stone mason is very proficient in the tools of his craft, and gains free martial weapon proficiency with both the light hammer and the light pick.  At 1st level, he gains a +2 bonus to all Craft (stonemasonry) checks that he makes.  If the stone mason continues advancing in the expert class, he gains the ability to reduce the cost of the masonry jobs he undertakes.  At 5th level in the expert class, before the stone mason begins a job that involves working with stone or rock, he may make a Craft (stonemasonry) check versus DC 20.  If the check is successful, he may reduce the cost of that particular project by 10%.  This percentage increases by 10% every five levels thereafter (20% at 10th level, 30% at 15th level, and 40% at 20th level).  This reduction in cost represents the stone mason having access to inexpensive labor and materials through his ties to the Stone Mason’s Guild or another similar organization or wealthy patron.

Penalties:  As a master of his craft, the stone mason must put maximum skill ranks into Craft (stonemasonry) and Knowledge (architecture & engineering).  Additionally, while he has a keen eye when it comes to judging the quality of stone, he lacks the broader knowledge of the value of other goods.  He takes a -2 penalty to all Appraise checks that do not deal specifically with judging the value of stone used in construction.

Skills:  Appraise, Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft (draftsmanship), Craft (stonemasonry), Handle Animal, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Knowledge (history), Use Rope

Options: A more artistic stone mason may wish to trade Craft (draftsmanship) for Craft (sculpture) and Handle Animal (which a typical stone mason uses to coax draft animals to pull heavy amounts of stone to the worksite) for Knowledge (fine arts) (this skill is explained in The Quintessential Aristocrat).  Stone masons who build religious monuments may wish to trade out Knowledge (history) for Knowledge (religion).

That's all for today, everyone. Thanks for reading and commenting. 

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "Nardis" from "The Legendary Bill Evans Trio: The 1960 Birdland Sessions" 


  1. Finally got a few minutes to read this - very cool!

    I definitely like the rule-lite vs. rules crunchy format. I used to be all about the crunch, but as I get older I find I also get lazier. Rules lite means less work for me, which is always good. :D (It also plays better with the improvisational method I use to run my games - the less structure to get in the way of the immersion I'm creating as a DM, the better!)

    Also glad to see the doxy made the cut! Thank you!

    1. Ha! Thanks! I had to implement a new "moderation" factor on my comments because I keep getting spammed by some Indonesian gambling site! So, I didn't see that this was awaiting moderation.

      Yeah, I definitely like the rules-light approach as well as I'm getting older. In terms of total hours of play, I've played more 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder than anything else, and probably know that system better than any other, but in terms of being creative and developing new content, I'm finding it more fun to do so with games like OSE now.

      More content coming... I just posted an Inventor class for OSE-B/X and LotFP!



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