The Arts are perhaps the unification of the different concepts this blog wanders among; an unusually nonlethal GLOG hack aimed somewhere between romantic fantasy and wuxia action, with moderately heavyweight tactical combat inspired by D&D 4E, where the majority of character creation consists of something resembling designing your character’s class on the spot. Read it here.
I first posted this on Discord a while ago; but it having become unexpectedly relevant, I thought I should keep it somewhere more accessible. I suspect most or all of you have seen the comments, on various blogs, that inspired this class.
You are a SPAMPIRE, an undead creature of the night who feeds on personally identifying information.
Starting gear: Fangs, a dramatic swooshy cape, an envelope stuffed with fake ID cards, the most advanced communication device commonly available in the setting (carrier pigeon, cellphone, crystal ball…)
Skills (1d4): Writing rapidly without regard for grammar or spelling, gothic aesthetic sense, swindling, obsessive knowledge of extradition treaties
A: Drinker of Names, Harsh Light of the Sun, +1 MD
B: Immortal Transformation, +1 MD
C: Spellmarket Contacts, +1 MD
D: Lord of the Night, +1 MD
Drinker of Names: You sustain yourself by committing identity theft. Your magic dice are restored, not by resting, but by consuming identities. Merely a name, address, and appearance is enough to restore an MD once each day. Enough information to impersonate someone in writing restores up to two MD once each day. Enough information to gain control of someone’s finances will still only restore two MD, but with no daily limit. Enough information to impersonate someone in person to people who know them, if you can manage it, will instantly restore all of your MD, without restriction. You do not inherently know any spells, but if you obtain a wand, scroll, or similar device you can use your MD to cast its spell.
Harsh Light of the Sun: You cannot sleep or eat; several hours’ rest restores hit points to you as a lunch would for a mortal, and lunch is worthless to you. However, you can invest MD to regain [sum] hit points. When illuminated by sunlight, you appear obviously fake; a cardboard cutout, wax sculpture, illusion, hologram, or other imitation of life. You can invest an MD to prevent this until the next sunrise.
Immortal Transformation: You know a ritual that takes three days, requires difficult-to-source components, and can transform any non-classed living creature into a spampiric spawn. It gains the Drinker of Names and Harsh Light of the Sun abilities, with [dice] MD, and its hit point total becomes [sum]. In return, you gain the entirety of its previous mortal identity, to do with as you choose.
Spellmarket Contacts: Via the use of your communication device, you can contact the Market of Spells (variously known as the Goblin Market, the City’s Doorway, or the One Thousand Streets). By the next sunrise, any magical, sacred, profane, or ritualistic materials you require will be delivered to your precise location. Payment is required on delivery. Mortal currencies are not accepted.
Lord of the Night: You can use Immortal Transformation even on creatures with class templates; however, they are permitted to Save. They lose [dice] of their templates and gain the same number of SPAMPIRE templates. In addition to their mortal identity, you also gain any spells they lost; you may cast them once each using your MD.
You no longer have your original name, it having been consumed by the elder spampire who turned you. Instead, you’ve taken on a new title. Roll on both charts, if you want to.
- Lord [name]
- [name] the Nameless
- Director [name]
- [name] the Eternal
- Baron/ess [name]
- [name] the Impaler
- Count/ess/a [name]
- Roll again, but 1337-speak
This is an supplement of sorts for GLOGSTAR, which is in turn a collection of classes for playing spaceships as characters in the GLOG (presumably in a game where everyone is playing spaceships; I’m not quite sure how you manage a party of an Exploration Cruiser, an Orbseeker, a Gun Witch, and a Zenith-Caste Solar, but if you run that game please tell me about it).
Out on the frontier, the standardized classes of carriers, cruisers, and battleships that form the backbone of core-system fleets give way to a more eclectic array of ships. You might see a battleship with a decades-obsolete hull, hauled by the engines of the class that replaced it, and awkwardly bolted-on guns of another empire entirely—and that’ll be the closest-to-regulation ship in its fleet. Beyond such simple hacked-together variants of existing ship designs are the ship classes below—designs that can only thrive out beyond fleet regulation, standardized maintenance schedules, and common sense.
Class: Auxiliary Logistics Ship
Long operations in hostile or simply unindustrialized space can test the limits of even the best-supplied ships. The natural way around this issue is simply to bring a safe harbor with your fleet: the auxiliary logistics ship. One part mobile drydock, one part supply hauler, one part engineering drone controller, an “aux” can in theory keep a fleet active indefinitely given a few well-placed moons and asteroids to scavenge for materials.
This is a wizard school, though one that’s closer to a conventional cleric in party role.
Perk: All-Devouring Industry
You can convert raw materials into deployment dice, for your own use or an ally’s, at a rate of roughly a big metal asteroid or equivalent per die. This can’t be done in combat unless it’s a very long combat indeed, but when individual rounds aren’t being tracked consider the time negligible; certainly faster than the normal refit and repair process a typical carrier can manage.
Drawback: Lumbering Colossus
You can’t mount main guns. If a question of the form “are you maneuverable enough to ______” needs to be asked, the answer is no.
- Fleet Logistics Hub: You, personally, cannot run out of supplies. As long as you’ve used All-Devouring Industry within the past dozen duty cycles, neither can [templates] capital ships and proportional light escorts under your care; if you need to care for more, divide the frequency of raw material consumption accordingly.
- Dedicated Engineering Team: Your crew can fabricate from spare supply any device simpler than a jump drive and smaller than a shuttle. This takes about a duty cycle, less if you devote your full focus to it.
- Decompilation: Your crew can convert an unknown piece of technology, or the wreckage thereof, into schematics for that device. This has a [templates]-in-6 chance of working at all on wreckage, and the same chance of not turning a previously working piece of technology into wreckage.
- EVA Repairs (R short, T one capital-scale target or a squadron of escorts, D instantaneous)
Restore up to [sum] hull to or divided among the target(s).
- Hostile Environment Support (R medium, T [dice] capital-scale targets or escort squadrons, D command)
Grant the targets +[dice] to saves against a particular type of environmental condition.
- Thermochemical Boosters (R long, T one ship, D [sum] rounds or [dice] landing + takeoff sequences)
Grant the target doubled movement in space combat, or the ability to land and take off again in a gravity well it is not normally designed for (most capital ships can’t land on anything bigger than a large moon).
- Arsenal Pods (R medium, T up to [dice] capital-scale targets, D command)
Assign the rolled dice to targets; they each deal +1 damage with missile attacks, ticking their die down by one for each shot, ending when it reaches 0. You can also add a special tag of your choice to attacks modified this way; something like “incendiary” or “sensor-jamming” that doesn’t give direct bonuses but does imply things about what types of defense are applicable or what happens to someone who gets hit.
- Chaff Generators (R long, T up to [dice] capital-scale targets, D command)
Grant the targets +[dice] to AC and stealth.
- Ablative Swarm (R medium, T one ship, D command)
Absorbs the next [sum] hull or crew damage the target would take from external sources.
- ECM Drones (R [sum] su, T whole area in range, D command)
Conceals the area from standard sensors. Sensors of exceptional quality may be able to pierce the ECM field. Looking out the window still works.
- Isolation Field (R long, T one ship, D command)
Target must save at -[dice] or be entirely cut off from all communications.
- Jump Solution Optimizer (R long, T up to [sum] total ships, D instantaneous)
Allows all the targets to make an FTL jump without any further preparation. If this does not cover all the desired targets, the jump may be canceled without consequence beyond wasted dice.
- Psychohistorical Simulation Network (R self, T something highly connected and significant, D [lowest] hours)
Provides up to [dice] relevant predictions about the future behavior of the target.
- Capital Drydock (R touch, T one ship, D one duty cycle)
You can salvage and restore even a destroyed ship from wreckage, at least temporarily. The first [die] recovers the ship’s black-box. The second [die] recovers up to [sum] crew. The third [die] restores the ship to limited functionality, but it can’t be restored above 0 hit points without a full rebuild. The fourth [die] restores the ship to true functionality with up to [sum] maximum hull, but reduces your maximum deployment dice by one as long as you need to keep it functioning. The fifth [die], if you can somehow acquire it, truly and completely restores the ship.
- Improvised Weapon Paradigm (R self, T self, D [sum] rounds)
With a ship full of engineers, everything is a weapon. For the duration, you do not take damage from capital-ship or lesser weapons, your attacks deal maximum damage, and your attacks against targets of HD/level less than [dice] cannot miss.
Take a mostly-obsolete light battleship. Rip out most of the armor—it’s just slowing you down. Fill the space you’ve opened up with more guns and thrusters. Behold: the battlecruiser, a ship with the speed and armor of a cruiser, the rough size and crew of a battleship, and the broadside armament of a dreadnought, the ultimate in hit-and-run tactics.
This is, to a very rough approximation, a monk.
A: Battle of Maneuver
B: Broadside, Point Defense
C: Excessive Thrust
D: Broadside!, Injection Burn
Battle of Maneuver
Positioning wins battles; timing wins wars. As long as your armor is no heavier than bulkheads, as part of an attack or combat maneuver, you can name and describe a unique naval tactic. This stunt allows you to ignore [templates] AC or difficulty, and if applicable also add [templates] to damage. Record named stunts; you can use it in the future when circumstances permit, avoiding the need to invent a new stunt, but only once per battle.
An unfairly large fraction of your mass is dedicated to heavy artillery. With two templates, add +1d6 damage to any attack you make when you have a perfectly clear shot at your target (no circumstantial improvements to their defense, say). With four, add another +1d6.
By replacing your armor with more guns, you both can and must shoot down projectiles a true battleship would simply shrug off—assuming you have time to react. Unless something is impeding your movement or targeting, you can protect yourself and other ships within 5 su of you from any projectiles launched from more than 30 su away.
If a piece of fancy piloting work would be feasible for a subcapital ship but laughable for a capital ship, you have a 2 in 6 chance of being able to pull it off anyway. If you consider it a round in advance so your crew can precalculate the maneuver, you can roll before deciding whether or not to try it.
You win initiative. You are not surprised. You are too maneuverable to properly outflank or line up raking fire against; no benefits are gained from these and similar types of maneuver against you.
There are legends of fighters who have stood against capital ships and won, weaving between the lines of battle, one with their pilots. Those are not mere tall tales; you are that ship, cunning and grace incarnated in the smallest of durasteel frames.
This is… a raven?
A: Wings of Glory, Lethal Precision
B: Targeting Interlock // Squadron Commander, Electronic Countermeasures
C: Zero Profile
D: Specialized Payload
Wings of Glory
You are a personal spacecraft in a world dominated by capital ships, with all that entails. Regardless of your stats and templates, you only have one crew member, and accordingly a single hit point. You can’t mount any armor or capital-ship weapons, you have one bay (inventory slot) and even that’s smaller than usual, but you’re twice as fast as a capital ship and effectively infinitely more agile. The good news is that although you really can’t survive a hit from a capital ship gun, your size and evasive maneuvers also make you an incredibly difficult target to hit; you only take damage from critical hits. You don’t carry supply for long-term independent operations, normally, and are instead based on an allied capital ship, from which you can launch or land as your movement in a round.
You couldn’t possibly carry a weapon capable of blasting through capital ship armor. You don’t need to; there’s all kinds of deliciously vulnerable systems that have to be partially outside the armor to work, and you have the maneuverability to get in close enough to actually target those weak points. Instead of making attack rolls and dealing hull damage, your attacks (at point-blank range only) have a [templates]-in-6 chance of shattering a random vital system. Roll (not choose) the same system twice, and you’ve knocked out the power core, plus save vs. rapid unscheduled disassembly.
- Main Weapon
- Life Support (1d6 crew damage)
- Choose One
Targeting Interlock (Based on Combat or Specialist Ship)
Your targeting computer is designed to act as a spotter for the far heavier guns of your allies. Whenever you use your Lethal Precision, whether you hit or miss, your base ship can make a free attack against the same target.
Squadron Commander (Based on Carrier or Support Ship)
Your communications array is designed to coordinate a full wing of other light ships. Whenever you use your Lethal Precision, whether you hit or miss, your target rolls saving throws against your base ship’s small craft twice and takes the worse result. Alternatively, you can take your action to focus fully on command, allowing your base ship to reroll a single deployment die while launching small craft this turn.
You can credibly and reliably spoof any communication you have the proper authorization codes for, and have a [templates]-in-6 chance of disrupting a target’s scans or communications at point-blank range. You roll saves against electronic attacks twice, taking the better result.
You can, as a free action once per round, shut down or reactivate all your systems. While shut down, you can’t move other than gliding, or take any other action besides passive observation; but you are also invisible to any sensors more sophisticated than literally looking out the window.
Spend up to four full duty cycles aboard your base ship loading a special payload, replacing either your inventory slot or your weapons. This payload can be deployed and consumed, with effect as if you personally were a unit of small craft (choose and modify-if-needed a spell, including a legendary spell, from whatever source you want), with one deployment die per duty cycle of preparation. You can restore yourself to your normal configuration in 1d6 rounds on your base ship.
- Blaspheme Profusely Against Light and Law, a light (2d3) crystalline-mithril makhaira set with tiny agates. She has studied a wide variety of heretical theologies, and will expound at length on her ontological ideas whenever not sheathed. She has a 1 in 12 chance of knowing the true name of any demon encountered.
- Personal Conflicts of Interest, a light (2d3) meteoric-steel saber with a teak pommel. He constantly points out opportunities, however farfetched, for advantage, and knows the rough market value of anything his blade touches. He affects a drawl, but drops it when talking business.
- Shut Up and Roll the Dice, a pair of light (2d3) cold iron hookswords. A character carrying one of the sisters will never succeed at any kind of acrobatic stunt; a character carrying both still won’t, but will also never suffer harm in attempting one. They finish each other’s sentences, which are usually references to media nobody else has ever heard of.
- Militant Disregard for Common Sense, a light (2d3) Imperial Gold parrying dagger. They will bicker endlessly with a sword wielded alongside them, but have a grudging respect for axes. If they’re used to sever a rope, both cut ends will immediately knot themselves.
- I Seriously Doubt That Possibility, a medium (2d4) jade-and-bronze jian with an oversized crossbar. Those cut by him and still bleeding can see the invisible and touch the intangible. He is fond of epic poetry, and his blade glints brighter when the wielder’s actions remind him of a particularly dramatic scene.
- Wake Me Up When You Have a Better Idea, a medium (2d4) ringsword of coruscating adamant. They are unbreakably linked to the global gossip network, and any kill they aid in will instantly be widely attributed to the wielder.
- Another Day Another Blasphemy, a medium (2d4) glasssteel scimitar with a wing motif on the crossguard. He condescends to any wielder incapable of magic use, and incorrectly assumes his knowledge of hydromancy is equalled in any other discipline. He does actually have a magic die he will deign to allow the use of in spells dealing with water.
- A Royal Lesson in Rhetoric, a medium (2d4) cutlass of some strange Hyperzephyrean alloy. Exceptionally well-versed in military protocol, courtly etiquette, and the Pirate’s Code. They parry siege-weapon shots as readily as other blades.
- Let’s Give It Another Go, a heavy (2d6) ulfire flamberge, her hilt wrapped in dreamsilk. She has an extensive knowledge of history, but is a refugee from a highly divergent timeline, limiting its applicability. Against other creatures of that timeline, she always deals maximum damage.
- Please Consult Your License Agreement for Further Details, a heavy (2d6) sigil-inscribed worldwood and darksteel glaive. They speak slowly, picking their words with care and precision, and can find loopholes in any contract by cutting a bit of the paper it’s written on.
- Perhaps That was a More Than Sufficient Amount of Blasphemy, a heavy (2d6) screaming soulforged sword more reminiscent of a bulldozer blade than anything designed to be actually wielded. She is overly critical of her wielder’s social missteps, but one who takes her seriously will actually improve in such niceties, gaining the Savoir Faire skill.
- Should Have Considered the Arthropods, a heavy (2d6) steel zhanmadao with green jade inlays. He can speak with stones, and translate their speech; for a while after doing so, his normally nervous demeanor shifts more calm and resigned.
The following classes, each based on a Pathfinder prestige class, all lack an A template. They cannot be taken by a starting character; instead, they each have a special requirement that must be met to train in them. Even if your GLOG hack of choice doesn’t otherwise have generous retraining rules, you can overwrite up to three of your existing templates with advanced-class templates; but regardless you must always keep an A template from some source.
From the boundary between life and death, you glimpsed a shining truth—true mastery of death comes not without, but within. Shunning armies of the damned, you seek to perfect the magic of life and death in your own body and soul, and ascend beyond the cycles of the natural world.
Δ: View from the Brink
B: Lich’s Grasp, Eldritch Transgression, +1 MD
C: Deathly Misdirection, Scholar of the End, +1 MD
D: Flesh Falls Away, +1 MD
View from the Brink
You must have slain a living creature, restored life or unlife to a dead one, and won a game with your soul as the stakes.
Your touch is a weapon that deals [sum] damage to the living and restore the same amount of health to the undead.
Your spells that affect living, dead, or undead creatures now affect all three.
If you capture a ghost or other spirit, you can use it as a mask, replacing any or all information divinations might find about you with the result the mask-spirit would have. (For example, a spell that detects living creatures could fail to find you, as the mask-spirit is dead; a spell scrying for your location would still work, as the mask-spirit is in the same place.)
Scholar of the End
The secrets of life and death know their rightful master. After you see a spell that deals in life or death cast, you can call it to you, and it will abandon its former mage and join you instead. Thereafter, you can cast it with your MD as normal.
Flesh Falls Away
Your secrets are assembled; your mind and soul are prepared; your body has lost its former relevance. Your transcendence begins. Choose one of the following or research and invent your own. Regardless of your choice, you can see in the darkest night, you no longer age, sleep, hunger, or thirst, and you are, technically speaking, dead.
- Your flesh is gone; only bone and sorcery remain, tough as chainmail.
- You fear no chill or storm; neither cold nor electricity will harm you.
- Your soul is stored externally to your body; in the event your body is destroyed, it will regenerate a new one in 1d10 days.
- Your Lich’s Grasp paralyzes creatures if you roll a 6 on any of the damage dice.
- Your flesh is cold and hard as steel plates.
- You cannot be killed except by a stake through the heart, sunlight, or immersion in running water.
- You can take the form of a mundane bat, wolf, or cloud of fog.
- Your Lich’s Grasp can also be delivered through a bite instead of a touch; if it is, you regain hit points equal to the damage dealt.
- Your physical form is no longer material; you can walk through walls and so forth.
- While in shadow, you can neither be seen nor harmed by any physical attack.
- You can step into one shadow and out of another nearby.
- When you kill a creature with your Lich’s Grasp, you steal its shadow. Up to three stolen shadows will serve you as loyal minions.
They say there will always be tyrants, and you know better than most. As the machinery of empire pushed ever outward into the frontier, you stood before it, and a hunter of beasts became a hunter of tyrants. People hungry for freedom look to the woods for your sign, emperors tremble, and armies move against you.
Δ: Signs of a Champion
B: Woodland Affinity, Guerrilla Tactics, +1 MD/VD or +1 Damage
C: Heart of Freedom, +1 MD/VD or +1 Damage
D: Phantom Strike, +1 MD/VD or +1 Damage
Signs of a Champion
You must have made your own armor by combining the horns or hide of a great beast with the regalia of an Imperial high officer, both slain by your hand.
While in wilderness terrain, you gain the following benefits.
- You can intuitively sense hidden snares and ambushes.
- The weather is at worst annoying to you, never truly harmful.
- You can’t be tracked.
- The wind and fog move at your sign.
- You can see through darkness and thick foliage clearly.
When you attack from ambush or outflank your foes, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage on a hit, automatically knock down or disarm a humanoid enemy, or disappear back into cover before your position becomes clear.
Heart of Freedom
You can roll twice and take the better result when saving against fear and compulsion attacks. Those who follow your banner gain this benefit, and the same benefit on morale checks. Furthermore, once each round when one of your enemies in range attacks one of your allies (who does not have a similar feature), you can return fire immediately.
Your movement is not hampered by terrain or poor visibility. In addition, when you successfully attack from ambush, your target must save, or choose whether to flee or cower in panic (in addition to any morale check that may be required).
Out on the frontier, the law is weak and desperate; its reach no more than the range your keen eye and fine weapon permit. Stagecoach robbers, reagent smugglers, renegade thaumaturges—they thought nobody could stop them, and nobody could until you reached out and did.
Δ: Long Arm of the Law
B: Bulletproof, Labyrinth Commando, +1 Attack
C: Deadeye, +1 Attack
D: Under the Gun, +1 Attack
Long Arm of the Law
You must have been deputized, led a posse, and brought in a notorious outlaw dead or alive.
You take minimum damage from all ranged attacks, and when you succeed at a saving throw for half damage you take none instead.
While in urban terrain, you cannot become lost, you always win initiative, and opening or kicking down doors doesn’t interfere with your movement.
Your ranged attacks ignore cover and armor, and you can’t inadvertently kill someone you’re trying to take down alive.
Under the Gun
Creatures your weapon is pointed at cannot lie or attempt to deceive you in any way unless they are immune to fear.
I have been thinking, off and on essentially all year, about removing the cleric part of the 5e cleric domains—really, the cleric is the uninteresting part, the domains are mostly good fun. And so here I have six GLOG classes for the gods’ Chosen; perhaps you could use them to model a demigod, or simply some sort of champion, or anyone else with a fair bit of divine will but not really a cleric as such. Any Chosen gets +1 to saving throws per template, plus the features below.
Starts with: A sword, a set of scales, a legal text, a magnifying lens, a formal robe, a holy symbol, obligations to your superiors and inferiors
A: You can give away your attack in combat. If you do and the gift is accepted, you choose the target of the attack. Any unlawful attack against your person meets resistance as if you were wearing plate armor.
B: When you make a demand backed by some form of legal authority, creatures must save vs spells or comply for at least 1 minute.
C: Any action you and your companions take against abominations, demons, and similar creatures of Chaos is legally sanctioned, both with respect to your A and B templates, and the reaction of any society you find yourself in.
D: When a creature hits with an attack granted by your A template, it rolls the damage twice and takes the better result. Once per week, if you spend ten minutes praying to the one who chose you, they will seal away indefinitely a creature you kept in your presence for the duration of the prayer.
Starts with: A backpack full of esoteric texts, a mostly blank notebook, writing implements, a walking staff, a holy symbol, an academic rival
A: You speak whatever languages are relevant. When you gain this template, choose two highly specific areas of study; you know whatever information would be useful or interesting about those fields. Pick another field at each template.
B: Carefully examining an object always allows you to determine its purpose and method of use; if it is broken, you can determine what’s wrong with it, though not necessarily what to do about that.
C: You can pick up the surface thoughts of creatures you interact socially with. You can attempt to alter those thoughts, injecting an idea or impulse of your choice, but a save vs spells is permitted, and you can’t do so again until you rest or eat lunch.
D: You can carefully examine an area to gain a vision of any recent and significant event that may have happened there. When you pray to the one who chose you, you learn what you need to know, though rarely what you want to know.
Starts with: A sword, a heavy shield with inscribed holy symbol, shining mail armor, firestarting supplies, a golden necklace, a necromantic conspiracy tracking you
A: Above and behind your head is a halo that shines as brightly as a lantern. You can also briefly flare it substantially brighter than that, once per rest or lunch; not brightly enough to blind someone properly, but enough to force them to reroll an attack that would otherwise hit you, for example.
B: Magical darkness effects you touch are shattered. When you flare your halo, each enemy within 30 feet must save vs. spells or take 2d10 damage from the searing light.
C: You can shroud one weapon at a time in holy light. Such a weapon benefits from Wisdom as a normal weapon would from Strength and/or Dexterity.
D: Your halo shines as brightly as sunlight. Fires it illuminates cannot be extinguished by water. When you pray to the one who chose you, it will be answered with light that burns away darkness and deception.
Starts with: An axe or hammer, a suit of non-conductive armor, a book with a lightning-charred cover, a holy symbol, a giant’s enmity
A: When a creature damages you with a melee attack, it must save vs breath weapon or take the same damage from lightning.
B: Your melee attacks are accompanied with deafening crashes of thunder that knock enemies flying backwards.
C: If you’re not happy with a damage roll, you can choose to deal maximum damage instead. If you do, the difference is made up with electricity damage, and you can’t do so again until you rest or eat lunch.
D: You can fly as easily as walking, even in heavy armor. Once per week, if you spend ten minutes praying to the one who chose you, they’ll make lightning strike at the fixed location of your choice.
Starts with: Three sets of identification papers with different names, a coin that always flips tails, a dagger, a mask, a holy symbol, a bounty on your head
A: You are twice as likely to surprise creatures you encounter, and your movement is completely silent. You can loan this feature to a creature you anoint for one hour, but can’t use it until then.
B: You can create a perfect illusionary copy of yourself that lasts for a minute. It can’t fight, but you can control its movement, and it’s distracting enough to flank creatures. Alternatively, you can turn invisible by concentrating, remaining invisible until you breathe or attack. Once you use one of these features, you can’t use either again until you rest or eat lunch.
C: You can treat any weapon you wield as if it were poisoned. This poison works even on the undead.
D: You can create four copies instead of one with the B template, and you can use it twice (in any combination of the two modes) before resting or eating lunch. When you pray to the one who chose you, they will always answer, but never honestly.
Starts with: Two weapons of your choice, an imposing suit of plate, a bloodstained map, a holy symbol, an old war wound
A: You can wield any object you can lift as if it were a deadly weapon of war. You are as nimble in heavy armor as in ordinary clothes, and as protected in ordinary clothes as in heavy armor. When you drop a foe, you can cleave through it to deal any excess damage to another.
B: When you or a warrior under your command misses with an attack, you can choose for that attack to hit instead. If you do, you can’t do so again until you rest or eat lunch.
C: Each round of combat, you can deal 1d8 collateral damage to a weaker enemy within your reach. This doesn’t require an attack roll, and happens in addition to and as a side effect of whatever else you’re doing with your turn.
D: You take half as much damage from weapons, rounded down. When you pray to the one who chose you for reinforcements, they will arrive, but after the battle you can expect them to make demands of you.
The below classes—fighter, thief, magic-user, cleric—are probably familiar to everyone reading this blog. Their incarnations here, however, might not be; they lean heavily into choice of class as choice of playstyle. This spawned from the idea that the fighter class should be designed such that the correct response to a player who’s concerned by the “combat is deadly and should be avoided if possible” ethos of the OSR is just “oh, you should play a fighter!” Similarly, the thief here supports a risk-taking, “trust the dice to solve my problems” playstyle; the magic-user supports careful research and preparation followed up by precise execution of a plan; and the cleric supports careful shepherding of resources and logistical thought. All of these are reasonable ways to play D&D, and I conjecture a fair amount of party friction and even edition-warring comes from systems providing mechanics that push everyone towards that system’s favored playstyle. Having each class pushing everyone towards a different playstyle, I further conjecture, may alleviate some of that tension.
Let the cleric weigh their hit-points against the enemy’s attack, the thief maneuver knowing they’ll be splattered by an unlucky hit, the magic-user mutter about combat being a failure state. Problems can be solved by sufficient amounts of violence, and you are violence.
A: Arsenal of All, Toughness
B: Signature Techniques
C: Warden of Battle
Arsenal of All
You can wield any weapon and wear any armor. This applies even if it was not originally designed with that purpose in mind; if you can lift it, you can kill with it.
If your maximum hit point total would be less than 10, instead it’s 10. When you run out of hit points, don’t roll on the Death and Dismemberment table; instead, you’re out of the fight, maybe bleeding out a little, but basically fine. On each of your turns thereafter, save vs. death; if you fail three saves before either someone spends their turn patching you up or you succeed three saves, then it’s Death and Dismemberment time. Otherwise, you can get back up with 1 hit point after the fight ends. Additionally, you get all your hit points back when you rest for the night, and can do so once per day when you rest for at least an hour.
You have mastered two signature techniques that epitomize your fighting style, chosen from the list below or invented with your referee’s approval. They only work on enemies that haven’t seen you use them already; the element of surprise is crucial. When you attack with a signature technique, add an extra die of damage if you hit, in addition to any other effects here.
- The foe is knocked down.
- The foe is knocked flying backwards.
- You can swap places with the foe.
- The foe can’t move next turn.
- The foe must attack you next turn if it can.
- The foe’s disarmed.
- The foe must roll its next attack twice and take the worse result.
- The foe can’t use magic next turn.
- The next ally to attack the foe rolls twice and takes the better result.
- Your enemies must immediately check morale.
Warden of Battle
When you dedicate your whole turn to getting someone willing out of a fight, they’re out. You can only use this feature on yourself if you’re fighting alone. You have remarkable leeway on how to manage this feat, though it generally doesn’t accomplish anything else in the process—when the thief’s surrounded by skeletons, you can knock them aside to clear an escape route, but won’t instantly shatter them; when the bridge behind you has collapsed, you can hurl the cleric back across; when you’re alone on the crashing airship with the evil archmage, a savvy hero always remembers to pack a grappling hook. This doesn’t stop pursuit after combat ends, naturally.
Your non-signature attacks also add an extra die of damage if you hit. When your attacks deal more damage than your target has hit points, the remaining damage spills over onto nearby foes, as many as necessary until all the damage is absorbed.
Let the fighter walk out of every fight battered to a pulp, the magic-user do nothing more interesting than they expect, the cleric stand certain in their faith. You live to feel the rush of fortune, to risk it all and never back down, to gamble your life against the treasures of the underworld.
A: Last Chance, Infiltrator
B: Ambush Expertise
C: Master Infiltrator
D: Thief of Fates
You always get a saving throw. If something is going to kill you or cause you other catastrophic and/or permanent harm, you will always have at least one opportunity to roll a die, and be basically fine if you roll high enough. Poison needle in the lock? A giant’s fist dealing more damage than you will ever have hit points? The inescapable curse of a great wyrm? Thrown into the sun? You get a saving throw against that. (This feature doesn’t give you a second saving throw if you’d already get one, but it does mean that if your doom resulted entirely from other people’s die rolls, you also get a chance to seal or escape your fate with your own hands.)
When terrain features obstruct your party’s passage, you are 25% likely to be able to render the obstruction irrelevant with minimal effort. Locked doors spring open, sheer cliffs are easily surmounted with rope and a grapple, chasms are leapt or bridged, eldritch seals are broken with a single smudged line.
While you’re scouting alone, you surprise monsters on a roll of 1-4 out of 6. When you and/or your party surprises monsters, if you choose to flee rather than fight, the monsters never notice. Your attacks deal an extra die of damage during the surprise round, and if you deal half or more of your target’s hit points in damage during a surprise round you silently knock it out.
Your infiltrator feature works every time, 50% of the time.
Thief of Fates
When you critically hit a creature in combat, or spend a minute unnoticed within reach outside of combat, you can roll twice on the following table of possessions and choose one to steal.
- The Show
- 1d12 Years
Let the thief hope to get lucky, the cleric pray for salvation after everything’s gone wrong, the fighter charge in recklessly. You brought something into the dungeon more powerful than even your sorcery—you brought a plan.
A: Arcane Blast, Prepared Spells
B: Light ‘em Up
C: Superior Spells
D: Bespoke Arcanum
You can throw magic to attack, with range and effectiveness comparable to throwing an enchanted dagger. Instead of you needing to roll to hit, the target can save vs. spells to halve the damage. In order to use this ability, you need to consume flashpowder; a belt-pouch full costs a gold piece, suffices for 20 blasts, and is ruined if it gets even slightly wet. With the referee’s permission, when you create your character you can substitute a more thematically-appropriate reagent with the same cost and a similarly inconvenient restriction.
After you rest for the night, choose one of the following problems for each magic-user template you have. You can cast a spell to bypass or otherwise solve each chosen problem once in the following day. You need to be able to speak and have both hands free to cast a spell.
- It’s on fire.
- It isn’t on fire.
- You don’t speak or understand the relevant language.
- It’s too dark to see.
- You don’t know what it does.
- It’s not big enough.
- It won’t fit.
- The fall will kill you.
- Although the foes are weak, they are far too numerous.
- You can’t reach it.
- It’s too heavy to lift.
- It’s broken.
- It’s too slippery to climb.
Light ‘em Up
You can burn all but one dose of your flashpowder (or other arcane blast reagent) to make an arcane blast attack against every enemy you can see at once. It doesn’t matter how much you have, as long as you’re using at least some; after you go all out, you’ve only got one shot left.
You can additionally choose from the following problems when you prepare spells.
- You can’t unlock it.
- It’s right behind you and you can’t escape.
- You can’t consult with your party.
- It’s invisible.
- You don’t know where it is.
- There’s nowhere safe to rest.
- You can’t see behind it.
- You have to breathe.
- You’re too slow.
- They’ll notice you immediately.
- You’ll be shot to death before you can get close enough.
- Your arguments are unconvincing.
- An isolated guardian is impractical to fight.
After you rest for the night, you may secretly record a detailed description of a specific situation you expect to find yourself in the following day. Reveal the description to resolve that situation with a spell you devised or recalled for exactly that purpose; the situation is resolved as completely as it was described. If any detail you described doesn’t match, the spell fails.
Let the fighter take the brunt of the charge, the thief risk their skin tampering with fiendish devices, the magic-user answer the threats they knew about in advance. When everything inevitably comes crashing down, you and your god will be the ones pulling them from the fires of hell back to safety.
A: Turn Undead, Divine Power (5)
B: Armor of Faith, Divine Power (10)
C: Eminent Divine Power (20)
D: Celestial Smite, Divine Power (35)
Your attacks, magic, and presence cause undead creatures to check morale as if they were ordinary humanoid troops with the same number of hit dice; so skeletons flee if green recruits would, and vampires hold their ground against you as well as hill-giant mercenaries. Additionally, fiends, occultists, anti-paladins, and similar creatures of sinister supernatural power must roll their morale checks caused by your attacks, magic, and presence twice, taking the worse result.
You have a reservoir of divine energy, described by a number of points increasing with further templates, and restored to full with a night’s rest. You can expend this divine energy to restore the same number of hit points to a creature, closing minor wounds and restoring stamina with a touch, up to one point per cleric template per round. You can also expend this energy to accomplish other effects.
- Create food and water — 1 point per person per day
- Create light, as a torch — 1 point
- Check something for curses, possession, and other evil magics — 3 points
- Double an attack’s damage against a fiend or undead creature — 3 points
- Remove magical fear, or restore broken morale — 5 points per person
- Protect from extreme temperatures — 5 points per person per day
Armor of Faith
Whatever you wear, you are as well-protected as if you were armored in heavy plate.
Eminent Divine Power
You can also use your divine power to accomplish the following effects.
- Check something for magical and mechanical traps — 10 points
- Ask the referee whether a plan is sound or foolhardy — 10 points
- Check any divine and/or occult allegiances a creature may have — 10 points
- Save a creature poisoned within the past 10 minutes — 10 points
- Create light, as the sun — 20 points
- Cure blindness, deafness, or nonmagical disease — 20 points
- Break curses and enchantments — 20 points
- Seal a door or passage against the supernatural — 20 points
- Exorcise a possessed creature — 30 points
You can make an attack that blazes like the sun, deals two additional dice of damage, and automatically banishes summoned and/or bound creatures it hits. When you do, each of your other allies that attacks this round also gets +1 to hit with their attack. Once you use this feature twice, you can’t do so again until you rest for the night.
From these inspirations…
ふかひれスープ: I have no idea what lo-fi fantasy is(On the OSR Discord.)
ふかひれスープ: It makes me think everyone has radios and sony walkmans
ふかひれスープ: knockoff sony walkmans
… I present a GLOG class in the tradition of Phlox’s GLOG Fighter.
You are a LO-FI PALADIN, a knight-errant of the deep city, a rootless wanderer of steel and song.
Starting gear: Heavy armor, a zweihander, a knockoff walkman, a cassette tape labeled “lofi hip hop beats to smite/relax to”
Skills (1d4): Dance, DIY armorsmithing/audio engineering, unshakeable calm, authenticity
A: Rhythm Combat, Blessed Armor
B: Improv Tech
D: Legend of the Underground
Rhythm Combat: As long as you’re listening to music that drowns out the chaos of combat, you can attack on both your turn and the enemy’s (if you’re using individual initiative instead of side initiative, roll initiative twice, take a full turn on one initiative count and just an attack on the other).
Blessed Armor: Armor you wear protects you against magic, bad vibes, and economic forces just as effectively as it protects you from physical harm.
Improv Tech: You can build anything you can dream of with a fraction of the materials it should require, but it’ll look like trash and work only slightly better.
Smite/Relax: When fighting someone richer than you, stronger than you, or higher-tech than you, your attacks knock enemies flying in the direction of your choice, and your successful dodges let you change places with your attacker.
Legend of the Underground: You have an amp and speaker, with an aux cord compatible with your knockoff walkman. It’s heavy and you have to set it down to use it, but when you play your theme song on it enemies will recognize it and check morale every round.
I’ve converted, very roughly, the Pathfinder gunslinger to 4E, mostly as practice to get the hang of building 4E classes. TauNeutrino, Tolan, Boomer with a Hard R, and erachima on the 4E Discord server all provided crucial advice and feedback in the design; many thanks to them. You can download the class here.
For those of you who might be following this blog for the OSR side of things, don’t worry! This hasn’t entirely turned into a 4E blog, I’ll be posting more old-school material soon too, it’s just not (and was never intended to be) exclusively old school.
There are a number of good reasons to move away from choice of species as a key mechanical element of character creation; far more eloquent things have been said about it by better-informed people (James Mendez Hodes, for example, if you’re looking for somewhere to start), so I will simply summarize. Having “races” of characters with shared psychological and cultural traits easily gets uncomfortably bio-essentialist; the specific choices of those traits in the standard Tokein-descendant fantasy canon often directly invoke real-world racial and ethnic stereotypes; and, even aside from the cultural/moral concerns, from a purely practical DM’s perspective elves, dwarves, and orcs simply don’t fit in many settings.
Flipping to the other side of the nature-nurture spectrum, and taking several leaves out of 5e’s book, I propose backgrounds as a replacement system that fills the same role. The unpleasant implications of “Eladrin are just smarter than everyone else” aren’t present in “Sages are just smarter than everyone else;” intelligent people are more likely to be attracted to the profession, and the experience and training of a sage also undoubtably benefits a character in ways generally classified under “intelligence.”
Additionally, 5e’s background features help patch what I see as one of the weaknesses of the 4e system; for those not familiar, each 5e background comes with a significant albeit mechanically-vague benefit, which makes the character extremely effective at solving specific kinds of non-combat problems. For example, a Sailor’s contacts allow them to call in favors to get free transportation by ship for the party. The ritual system in 4e (and the related martial practice system) give 4e characters some tools of this type, but they are not nearly sufficient for my tastes. I’ll likely elaborate more on this point in a future post, but for now suffice it to say that giving characters more ability to specialize in solving specific types of non-combat problems—just as classes and roles let characters specialize in specific types of combat problems—is another benefit of the background system.
You can get my current version of the backgrounds here. Most of them are bits and pieces of 4e races cut apart and re-assembled with 5e background features stapled on. They’ve worked fairly well thus far in playtesting. None of my playtesters have chosen the official yet but it’s one I’m mildly concerned about in power level, due to the interaction between the official’s Authoritative feature and the Polearm Momentum feat (Martial Power); I may post an update if needed.