Skills and Classes for the Younger Set

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Two players from my old Dungeon World group are looking to play something different. They have expressed interest in either my White Star house rules (but fantasy) or 5e. They don’t know that my White Star game house rules are essentially Swords & Wizardry classes with The Black Hack mechanics. The only concern for my old school proclivities was a lack of differentiation between characters of the same class.

I know, I know. I believe the memories of a characters’ exploits make them different from other characters, not the character sheet. Yes, it took me many months to train them to stop staring at the character sheet to see what they could do. Still, I feel like it would help them if they had a system that felt more like 5e. Selfishly, I think it would also help me ease into running a 5e game, so maybe we can all win.

I am considering a skill system bolt-on that adds only two rules:

  • You can try a skill, roll per normal rules against the attribute the GM names.
  • If you have the skill, add +2 bonus to the attribute being tested, a roll of 20 is always a failure.
  • You can add a new skill every 3 levels.

The list of skills would be the standard from 5e, but wouldn’t be tied to an attribute. On the character index card, skills would be listed next to special abilities. Since I haven’t had a game go beyond 10th level yet, three skills doesn’t feel like too many. At higher levels, since their primary attribute will likely be 17 to 20, it encourages skills for weaker attributes. This fits with the goal of making characters of the same class feel very different mechanically.

The only difference mechanically between a character with a skill and a special ability is that a character with a special ability rolls with advantage. More specifically, a Conjurer with the skill can roll under Dexterity for Sleight of Hand (which could mean picking pockets, palming a coin, or something) while a Thief rolls the same task with advantage. In fact, using the 5e skills (because they are more broad than 3.5 skills) also gives me tools for building classes.

A Bard is a character that rolls with advantage (Charisma) for Persuasion and Performance tests. An Ranger rolls Perception tests with advantage. Thieves could range in abilities (roll with advantage to deceive, or to gather food while adventuring outdoors.

The benefit I see mechanically occurs at lower level, but the bonus is low enough that it might encourage diversification. I’ll have to play with this some more.

A Wizard Duel Minigame

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I saw Eli’s post about his entry into the 200 word RPG this year. It inspired me to create a variant.

License

This game is protected under the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License. This is based on the game Caltrops by Eli Kurtz, found here. I made changes to the theme of his game, the dice used (d6 instead of d4), expanded the rock-paper-scissors mechanic to seven items, and added rules for gaining items over time.

Rules

You are two wizards locked in a magic duel. Both wizards must choose whether or not the duel is to the death.

Requires: 2 players, 8d6, 20-60 minutes

Each Wizards starts with seven spells under their command:

  • Stone Fist: Earth Magic; Advantage vs Fire, Blade, and Arid Magic
  • Burning Bolt: Fire Magic; Advantage vs Blade, Wood, and Arid Magic
  • One Thousand Knives: Blade Magic; Advantage vs. Wind, Wood, and Arid Magic
  • Withering Blast: Arid Magic; Advantage vs. Wood, Wind, and Ice Magic
  • Choking Vines: Wood Magic; Advantage vs. Wind, Earth, and Ice Magic
  • Hurricane Wind: Wind Magic; Advantage vs. Fire, Earth, and Ice Magic
  • Shards of Ice: Ice Magic; Advantage vs. Earth, Fire, and Blade Magic

Each wizards secretly chooses a spell to attack their opponent. Both wizards reveal their spells at the same time and determine the number of dice to throw:

  • Standard Spell: 1d6
  • Name and describe a new spell: +1d6 (must be an existing form of magic)
  • Roleplay the duel before casting the spell: +1d6
  • Advantage over enemy spell: +1d6

Throw your dice to start the battle! Whoever rolls highest is the victor, and may describe the battle. The loser may describe their injury.

A wizard with three injuries is defeated or dead.

text

It strikes me that the game would be simpler with five schools of magic instead of seven. I think next post will offer a five magic base set of rules with two extra schools available as a variant.

What also strikes me is how easily this would be to made into a more detailed game:

  • Vary the power levels of the wizards by changing the number of spells available. Newer wizards would have fewer spells, older ones would have more (or all seven).
  • Provide an alternate wizard that will eliminate the advantage die. This wizard would have an eighth school of magic. It would important to name new spells for both combatants.
  • Provide an alternate wizard that starts with 2d6 for a standard spell at the cost of three additional schools of magic. In a standard game, this wizard would have access to three schools of magic at 1d6 and the specialist school at 2d6. In a game with varying power levels, it could be quite interesting.
  • Add different dice to represent a small advantage/disadvantage. These could be the instruction of a specific teacher, growing up poor, bonds with an extraplanar power, or a host of other things.
  • Provide an alternate combatant whose power is to nullify magic. This could be an anti-magic priest, or wizard hunter. The wizard hunter wins a battle, the wizard loses a spell. Yikes!

It almost feels like an Ars Magica game because the focus is entirely on wizards. Between duels, the grogs and companions help the wizard they serve. It could be fighting non-magical creatures, searching for magical artifacts or ingredients. It’s also possible to add non-magical combatants with different ways to add dice. I could imagine a barbarian that starts with a 1d10 and adds a 1d10 for describing his/her unique hatred for wizards.

I could also see this as a subsystem for a more traditional RPG. S&W could bolt it on fairly easily. I’d use all but necromancy from the d20 schools of magic for the seven forms of magic and use necromancy as the eighth as an alternative wizard. In the Black Hack, this could be the rules for a wizard duel. I’d probably give it a Dog Latin spell name and have characters search for new dueling spells to allow them to get a bonus 1d6 for a new spell.

If you use this game or tinker with it, let me know.

Testing Open Live Writer

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Essentially, it is a tool that allows me to save local copies to my computer to then upload to my site.

The interface is more like word, and more importantly, I can work on posts without being logged into my site. I can even put in a table quite easily. As a test, here’s what a table looks like:

Choice 1 Choice 2
This one is good This one is also good

 

Well, here is the deal. If this works, it will become significantly easier to post, thus, more posting activity.