Saturday, April 4, 2020

D12 Experts/Specialists for B/X or Old School Essentials

I've been talking about this a lot lately, but way back in 2004/2005, I was working on a follow-up proposal to my first class guide for an RPG, the Quintessential Aristocrat, for the 3.5 system. The publisher agreed to let me work on a proposal for the Quintessential Expert, and I worked on it for years, trying to get it "just right," but then in 2008, D&D 4th Edition was released, and not only was it so completely different from 3.5, but it also didn't include NPC classes like Experts any longer, so I shelved my project.

I've been digging out a lot of this old material, dusting it off, and putting it up here on my blog in either the original format for 3.5, or modifying it to work with OSR type games such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Old School Essentials.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a series of posts by Dyson Logos called "D12 Subclasses" in which he posted a variety of different subclasses for all of the main B/X and 1st Edition AD&D classes, making very small tweaks to the base class (adding an extra ability or two). In his system, every player would need to take a subclass, or create a new one, and if the player chooses not to, then the "Focused" version of that class is used, meaning that the character gains +10% XP when adventuring. This really inspired me to begin working on some of my own class modifications.

It occurred to me that one fun way of presenting a lot of the classes I had created for my 3.5 Quintessential Expert proposal for an OSR system such as Old School Essentials would be to present them as subclasses. One of the chapters I had included in my proposal was for "Multi-Class Combinations" - the idea was that a character would multi-class as an expert and another core class (cleric, fighter, etc.), and I provided suggestions on level progressions between the two classes, skills and feats that should be taken, and created some "class ability swaps" (which, while not all that novel, was a rather new thing at the time for the 3.5 version of the game). It allowed the core classes to give up some of their standard class abilities in exchange for other abilities that were more appropriate to the concept. For example, one of my cleric multi-class expert combinations was an Artifact Seeker. In addition to suggesting which skills and feats to take, the proposal recommended that the player could give up the ability to spontaneously cast cure spells in order to gain a rogue's trapfinding ability.

Earlier this week, it hit me that these "ability swaps" could be the core mechanic for me adapting some of my expert classes to Old School Essentials, via the "D12 Subclasses" framework. Below is a table I came up, organized by main class (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief).

Before the table, here is a list of the original class material material I wrote for my Quintessential Expert proposal, organized by chapter. Some of these are not on the table below, but will either appear in future "D12 Subclasses" tables, or have already been detailed here on the blog, such as the Alchemist Apprentice and Blacksmith, Demolitionist, and Inventor.

  • Character Concepts 
    • (these were like backgrounds, or a stripped-down version of 2nd Edition AD&D "kits" - giving a small bonus and a small hindrance to the main class, and providing some role-playing information - I detailed a few of these in this post)
    • Apprentice Alchemist
    • Blacksmith
    • Cartographer
    • Demolitionist
    • Doxy
    • Guide
    • Herbalist
    • Historian
    • Inventor
    • Monster Specialist
    • Sailor
    • Scribe
    • Stone Mason
    • Trader
  • The Multi-Class Expert
    • I mentioned that Barbarians, Bards, Druids, Monks, Rangers, and Rogues make poor multi-class experts, because they all have more skill points per level than the other classes noted below, and increased skill points and variety of skills was one of the main features of the Expert class
    • Cleric / Paladin: Artifact Seeker
    • Fighter: Arms Crafter, Artillerist, Sapper
    • Sorcerer: Arcane Investigator
      • This was envisioned as a kind of "Agent Mulder" character, investigating strange phenomena
    • Wizard: Arcane Artisan
  • The Prestige Expert
    • Apothecary
    • Engineer
    • Explorer
    • Forger
    • Judge
    • Master Alchemist
    • Merchant
    • Saboteur
    • Sage
    • Scout
    • Ship's Captain
    • Siege Engineer
Special thanks to Cory Cepelak who provide comments and suggestions to my rough draft of these subclasses on my Facebook post, and to Kyrinn S. Eis and Phil Viverito who also provided comments and suggestions to my post on MeWe. Using their comments, I tweaked a few things on the subclasses below, but also got inspired to make a whole new series of subclasses that I'll be posting later.

Here is the table for D12 Expert/Specialist Subclasses. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Fernet Branca
Listening: "That's the Way" by Led Zeppelin, from "Led Zeppelin III"

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