Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Demolitionist: An Expert/Specialist for 3.5E / LotFP / B/X-OSE Games


Man on horse with explosive device,
f. 133v PUBLIC DOMAIN
Today I’m adding yet another entry into my series on Experts and Specialists and 3.5E / LotFP / B/X-OSE games. In Part 1, I wrote about the origins of these ideas coming from working on writing a follow-up to the Quintessential Aristocrat book that I wrote way back in 2004, and how I never finished writing the Quintessential Expert but still wanted to share my work with the community. That post detailed two different experts/specialists, the Alchemist Apprentice and the Blacksmith. For both of these, I provided my original text and 3.5 edition rules, and also translated them into playable classes for both Lamentations of the Flame Princess and B/X style games, such as Old School Essentials.

In Part 2, I presented details on six more experts/specialists: Cartographer, Doxy, Herbalist, Historian, Scribe, and Stone Mason. In the case of these classes, I provided the 3.5 era rules but discussed how they would most likely be better treated as 0-level classes for OSR type games, as they work better as backgrounds rather than adventurers.

In this post, I’m presenting some ideas related to a new expert I developed in my original manuscript, for a Demolitionist. As I was working on writing the book, I was having a lot of trouble developing expert character concepts that seemed like they would be fun to use as adventuring classes. The original list of character concepts that the publisher provided for me to write about were pretty much what you’d expect (blacksmiths, masons, etc.), and I felt those types of character would most likely spend the majority of their time crafting items rather than adventuring, so I started developing some ideas that went beyond the more traditional view of experts. Having a character concept that focused on gunpowder sounded fun and different. At the time I was originally writing these, back in 2004, there hadn’t been a ton of work done on integrating gunpowder weapons into fantasy games (Iron Kingdoms came out in July of that year as I was working on the book, and that was really the only major work with gunpowder that I remember coming out at the time). It was in working on stuff like the sections on alchemy, gunpowder, and inventions (more on that in a future post) that I had the most fun and was able to get my creative juices flowing. Those sections also ended up being my downfall, unfortunately, as I spent way too much time on researching and not enough time writing, causing me to never fully finish my manuscript for publication.

As with my other expert concepts, you’ll find the general background (system neutral) first, and then the 3.5 rules, LotFP rules, and lastly B/X-OSE rules, so you can scroll to the section that interests you. For the 3.5 rules, I incorporated some information from d20 Modern.

Here’s the Demolitionist. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

DEMOLITIONIST

While gunpowder is non-existent in most fantasy campaign worlds, in other worlds, alchemists, scientists, and warriors have begun to discover the potential benefits of weapons made from explosive black powder compounds.  Gunpowder can eventually threaten to push magic to the side or even completely overshadow it, but for now it is most likely just as mysterious and complicated as wizardry in the mind of the average commoner.

Although most people avoid getting too close to gunpowder due to its unpredictable nature, the demolitionist instead embraces this new technology and has begun to master its various uses.  Viewed by strangers and friends alike as probably just a little bit crazy, this expert in explosives has knowledge of structures and architecture, chemistry, alchemy, and siege engineering.  If he hopes to survive past his first poorly laid explosive device, he had also better hope that he is a little bit lucky. 

Adventuring:  Most demolitionists live a constant life of adventure and travel.  Explosives and gunpowder are still very new to the world.  Many people have not yet come to accept gunpowder as beneficial, and most think it is unnecessary and unwelcome.  The expert who makes a living by blowing things up is not likely to be very popular with the local constabulary and will probably draw the animosity of any resident wizards as well.  For this reason, demolitionists usually turn to a life of travel, constantly moving from town to town, learning new techniques and acquiring new materials with which to build new and better explosives. 

Role-Playing:  The typical demolitionist is probably just a little bit “off” in terms of his personality.  He may be boastful and outgoing, relying on the power of his knowledge in explosives to keep him out of trouble, or he may be quiet and introverted, using gunpowder weapons to strike back at those people whom he feels have caused him suffering throughout the years.  Very rarely do socially well-adjusted people take to the role of the demolitionist.  Gunpowder is just too volatile to be used on a regular basis by any normal person. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  The demolitionist gains the Alchemical Familiarity feat for free at 1st level [originally this referred to the reader to see the Feats chapter for details; I’ve provided the feat below].  The demolitionist also learns how to avoid the unpleasant side-effects when he fails to properly set his explosives and they go off prematurely.  He gains a +2 bonus to his Reflex saves to avoid being damaged by explosives.  He has also built up a bit of a tolerance to taking damage from explosives and gains a good Fortitude save progression, the same as a fighter. 

Penalties:  The demolitionist, while studious, does not have the willpower of other types of experts.  His Will save progression is poor, similar to that of a fighter.  Additionally, most people simply do not react well to people who make a living from using explosives.  When his profession as a demolitionist is known, he must take a -2 penalty to all Charisma-based skill checks (except for Intimidate) he makes. 

Skills:  Concentration, Craft (alchemy), Craft (explosives), Disable Device, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Listen, Profession (demolitionist), Spot

NEW SKILLS
Craft (INT)
New Use: Alchemy (trained only). Characters with ranks in the Craft (alchemy) skill may create gunpowder for use in firearms, cannons, and explosives. [In my original draft, I referred the reader to the Equipment section for details on the costs for creating gunpowder. I’ll post these details later on the blog with a link back.]

Creating gunpowder from scratch is dangerous, as there is always the possibility that it will detonate during the crafting process. If the Craft (alchemy) check fails by 5 or more, the gunpowder explodes as it is being made, dealing 4d6 damage [equivalent of a powder keg’s worth, which is what can be made with a single Craft (alchemy) check.] to the crafter.

Otherwise, using the skill to create gunpowder is identical to the process laid out in Core Rulebook I. The character must still pay 1/3 of the item’s price in raw materials (a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, charcoal, and other special alchemical items) and make a Craft check representing one week’s worth of work.

Special: Experts have access to the Alchemical Familiarity feat, which allows them to buy ranks in Craft (alchemy) even though they do not have spellcasting levels.  

New Use: Explosives (trained only). This skill covers the creation and basic use of explosive devices. A successful check indicates that the character has created the desired explosive. As with crafting gunpowder, building an explosive device can be very hazardous to one’s health. Failing the Craft (explosives) check ruins the raw materials being used to create the explosive device. Failing the check by 5 or more causes an explosion, as the devices detonates as it is being made. The resulting explosion deals half of the device’s intended damage to the builder and to anyone else in the device’s blast radius.

Explosive devices do not include a fuse or detonator. Adding a fuse or detonator and properly placing the explosive device requires a separate Profession (demolitionist) check.

Special: A character cannot take 20 when using the Craft (explosives) skills. A character without a demolitions kit takes a -4 penalty on all Craft (explosives) checks. The gunpowder required for the explosive device is made using the Craft (alchemy) skill (see above).

Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Craft (alchemy), you get a +2 synergy bonus on all Craft (explosives) checks to build an explosive device. A character with 5 or more ranks in Craft (explosives) receives a +2 synergy bonus on Disable Device checks made to disable mechanical traps that involve explosives.

Disable Device (INT, Trained Only)
Normal Use: You can jam, rig, or otherwise disarm traps.

New Use: Disarm Explosive Device. With a successful Disable Device check, the character may disarm an explosive device that has been set to go off. Only characters able to disable devices with DCs higher than 20 can attempt to disarm an explosive device. The DC for this check is typically 10 unless the person who set the detonator chose a higher disarm DC; see the Profession (demolitionist) skill for details. If the character fails the check, he has not disarmed the explosive. If the character fails by more than 5, the explosive goes off, causing its regular damage in its usual blast radius.  

Profession (WIS)
New Use: Demolitionist. Demolitionists are professionals who specialize in placing explosive devices in order to cause maximum damage. Their area of expertise also extends to detonators and fuses for their devices.

Setting the Fuse: A skilled demolitionist knows how to estimate the length of the fuse required for the job. Connecting a fuse to an explosive device requires a Profession (demolitionist) check at DC 10 and is a full round action. Failing this check indicates that the explosive fails to go off as planned. Failure by 10 or more means the explosive goes off as the fuse is being installed, causing half its regular damage to the demolitionist and anyone else caught in the blast radius.

When setting the fuse, a character may voluntarily increase the Profession (demolitionist) DC to create an explosive that is more difficult to disarm than usual. The character may add any increment of 10 to the check. The result becomes the new Profession (demolitionist) DC to set the fuse and also acts as the DC that must be beat with a successful Disable Device check to disarm the explosive.

Placing the Explosive: Carefully placing an explosive against a fixed structure (a stationary, unattended inanimate object) can maximize the damage dealt by exploiting vulnerabilities in the structure’s construction. Placing an explosive in this manner takes at least one full minute. More complex jobs require more time, as determined by the Games Master.

The Games Master makes the check on behalf of the player, hiding the result so the character does not know how well he placed the device. On a result of 15 or higher, the explosive damage deals double damage to the structure against which it is placed. On a result of 25 or higher, it deals triple damage to the structure. In all cases, it deals normal damage to all other targets within the burst radius.

Type of Explosive

Gunpowder Cost in GP2

Craft DC
Reflex DC
(save for half damage)3
Time
Improvised (1d6/5 feet) 1
10 gp
10
10
1 round
Simple (2d6/5 feet)
40 gp
15
12
10 min.
Moderate (4d6/10 feet)
160 gp
20
12
1 hr.
Complex (6d6/15 feet)
320 gp
25
15
3 hr.
Powerful (8d6/20 feet)
640 gp
30
15
12 hr.
Devastating (10d6/25 feet)
1,280 gp
35
18
24 hr.
1 The figures in parentheses are typical damage/burst radius for each type of explosive
2 Prices assume gunpowder is relatively rare in the world; adjust prices up or down as needed
3 Damage may be either Bludgeoning, Fire, or Piercing, depending on the type of explosive device created


FEAT: Alchemical Familiarity (General)
You were exposed to the secrets of creating alchemical items, and retained that knowledge even though you have not mastered the art of magic. 

Pre-Requisites: Intelligence 13+

Benefit: You are able to use Craft (alchemy) to craft alchemical items, even if you have no spellcaster levels.

Normal: Only characters with spellcaster levels can use Craft (alchemy) to create the alchemical items listed in Core Rulebook I. 

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Version
Use the Specialist class as a base. As with the Alchemist Apprentice presented in Part 1, you’ll need to add a new Craft skill to the game; I suggested using one from the blog Blood, Death, Satan & Metal, as it was created specifically for LotFP. Using this system, your demolitionist specialist would add “Craft” to his available skill options and would then select Craft (alchemy) for making gunpowder, and Craft (explosives) to cover the creation and basic use of explosive devices, such as setting a fuse. As with the rules for Crafting per the post linked to above, characters do not automatically have a 1 in 6 to make a successful craft skill check; they would need to allot specialist skill points to the skill to be able to make a check.  

Other skills that make sense for the LotFP demolitionist include Architecture and Tinkering.

When creating gunpowder using Craft (alchemy), building or placing explosive using Craft (explosives), or attempting to disarm an explosive device using Tinkering, the Referee may want to apply a rule that a roll of a 6 (or a double 6, if the character has a “6 in 6” skill rank) results in an explosion due to the volatile nature of primitive gunpowder and explosives. In this case, the explosion causes full damage on an unsuccessful save or half damage on a successful save. This explosive failure rule could also be applied to any Alchemist Apprentice character who attempts to make gunpowder.

Explosive devices in an LotFP game might use either the Breath Weapon or the Device Saving Throw category, at the discretion of the Referee. In any case, a demolitionist character should receive a -1 bonus when making a saving throw against such devices. To compensate, demolitionists receive a -1 penalty to their Charisma score, as they find that many potential hirelings are skittish working for someone so involved with dangerous explosives.

Explosive devices in a LotFP game could be categorized into different sizes based on the amount of gunpowder needed to create them. A standard barrel of gunpowder does 5d8 points of damage to everyone within 30’ if it explodes (save versus Breath Weapon for half damage) and costs 150 sp. The Referee may extrapolate from this for smaller or larger devices. The Referee determines how long it takes to set the fuse for each type of device.

B/X Version

·        Requirements: None
·        Prime Requisite: INT
·        Hit Dice: d6
·        Maximum Level: 14
·        Armor: Leather, No Shields
·        Weapons: Any but Pole Arms or Staves
·        Languages: Alignment, Common


Demolitionist 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
1,240
2d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
3
2,480
3d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
4
4,960
4d6
19
10
11
12
13
14
5
9,920
5d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
6
19,840
6d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
7
39,860
7d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
8
77,500
8d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
9
155,000
9d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
10
232,500
9d6 +1*
14
6
7
8
8
10
11
310,000
9d6 +2*
14
6
7
8
8
10
12
387,500
9d6 +3*
14
6
7
8
8
10
13
465,000
9d6 +4*
12
4
5
6
5
8
14
542,500
9d6 +5*
12
4
5
6
5
8
* Modifiers from CON no longer apply






Explosives Check Bonuses
Demolitionist Skills Chance of Success
Level
Bonus to INT Check
Find or
Remove Traps
1
0
10
2
0
15
3
0
20
4
0
25
5
-1
30
6
-1
40
7
-1
50
8
-1
60
9
-2
70
10
-2
80
11
-2
90
12
-2
95
13
-3
97
14
-3
99


Class Abilities:
·        Magic Items Allowed: Armor, Weapons
·        Explosives: The demolitionist has the ability to create gunpowder and explosive devices that utilize gunpowder, and to properly set the explosive device with a fuse. A successful check will allow the character to create one keg’s worth of gunpowder, which weighs 200 coins and causes 4d6 points of damage within a range of 30’ if it explodes. A keg of gunpowder costs 300 gp. [This cost assumes that gunpowder is very rare in the game world; the Referee may adjust the cost up or down to suit his own game world.] Using explosives requires an ability check against the demolitionist’ INT score (roll a d20 and compare to INT; if the result is equal to or less than the demolitionist’s INT score, the explosives check succeeds). Each different use of explosives requires a separate check; creating an explosive device and setting the fuse for it to explode at the proper time are two separate checks. A result of 20 on an explosives check means the gunpowder or explosive device has exploded accidentally, causing its full damage to anyone in the blast radius. A successful save versus Breath Weapons will halve the amount of damage.
·        Explosives Resistance: A demolitionist’s saving throw versus Breath Weapons is 1 lower than shown on the table above when saving against explosive devices.
·        Find or Remove Traps: A demolitionist may use this skill at the same rate of success as a thief, but its use includes disarming explosive devices. If the demolitionist fails the roll to disarm an explosive device, there is a 10% chance the device explodes and causes its normal damage to the demolitionist and anyone within range.

Other:
·        Explosive Devices: The Referee may create other types of explosive devices by extrapolating the size and damage, using the information above regarding a standard gunpowder keg (4d6 damage; 200 coin weight; 30’ range; save versus Breath Weapon for half damage). The majority of the cost for an explosive device is based on the amount of gunpowder used.


Hanging: Combination of my home office and yesterday at my local pub while my daughter was at a ballet lesson (both times on my laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "B-Boy Theme" by Emapea, from the compilation "This Is How It Should Be Done, Vol. 3"


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