Friday, September 2, 2011

Constructing Classes: Last Advice and Example

Last Advice
Following up from my previous posts on homebrew classes (part one and part two here), today I finish off with concrete examples from my most recent experiment. This for an eight-session fantasy campaign, with fairly fixed class roles. Each character type got a list of six class abilities, started with two of them and can buy more as the campaign advances. There are a few other class restrictions (mostly the impact of armor on spell casting). This is also the campaign where I'm experiementing with adding aspects and tags to our homebrew engine.

If there's some advice I'd give people wanting to take that leap into building their own homebrew game engine or even heavily adapting an existing set of rules. First, don't think broadly- there's often an impulse to think about the next big thing in gaming or about how to build an engine which everyone in the group can use. Think about what your GMing or play style is an consider how you support that. Think about what your players like to see- do they like points, do they want a story emphasis, do they like classes. Think about what you do at the table- are you comfortable crunching modifiers? Do you rush through combat? What things do you enjoy focusing in on and what things would you like to skip or move through faster? I hadn't quite realized what we'd accomplished in our group with the rules we use until we had a player sit in who had played with us ten years before. He said we'd managed to build a game that played to my strengths as a GM and to the players' focus as a group.

I'd also suggest that you be willing to go even more micro. Build the rules you want for the campaign you want. You should have a rough idea of how long the game is going to be and what level of power would be fun at the end of the campaign. Divide one by the other to get the average points or levels you dole out and build your experience purchase and powers accordingly. Focus on the key elements of the genre, especially if you're going to have a short run campaign. Don't be afraid to fudge/worry less about elements at the margins. Finally also be aware that if you do plan to do a long term campaign with a newly minted system, you may see stresses you hadn't expected especially in late play (after a couple of years). Figure out how you want to deal with those things and discuss that with your players.

Example Class Building from Treasure Hunters

1. Warlock Ways: Warlocks begin with the methods Strike+ and Destroy. They may choose three mediums, at least two of which must be elements. Warlocks may not learn the mediums Holy, Life or Time. As Arcane casters, Warlocks use "Mental" for their spell casting pulls.
2. Burning Mana: Warlocks may use their own essence to fuel their attack spells. By taking an additional casting wound, they may do +2d damage or add a tag to their target. This damage may not be reduced.
3. Flee Puny Minions!: Warlocks kill any mooks or minions struck by a damage spell.
4. Master Blaster: The Warlock may spend a drama point to cast two damage dealing spells in the same action.
5. Inner Fire: The Warlock does +2d damage with any attack spell. In addition, they are no longer limited to spending one wound for additional effects, but may spend multiple.
6. Master of Magics: The Warlock may choose one bonus: either they can add the modifier "Seeking" to any spell freely (meaning they don’t have to make a combat pull to hit) or they can add the modifier "Extra Damage" to any spell freely (giving them even more damage dealing). This must be chosen when this talent is taken.

1. Ninja Magic: Ninjas begin with the method Control and the mediums Light/Dark and Body. They may not learn a magical expertise and may learn a maximum of three methods and six mediums. Ninjas do not take a casting difficulty for wearing leather/light armor.
2. Ninja Movement I: The ninja may leap twice a normal distance, even straight up. He may climb at walking speed. He can run along solid surfaces without making pulls. On light surfaces, he leaves no tracks.
3. Ninja Weapons: Ninjas gain a bonus to damage depending on their proficiencies. For each of the three groups- Blades; HTH; and Ranged- they may select to do +(1w+1d), +2d or +1d.
4. Ninja Stealth: By spending a drama point, the ninja may hush and help conceal those with him. The ninja suffers no environmental penalties for hiding- he can essentially hide in plain sight if he remains still. On all moving stealth tests the ninja gains a +1 bump.
5. Ninja Movement II: The ninja can run up walls, leap prodigious distances, and balance on the most absurd surfaces (tree branches, blades). In addition, when fighting, his strikes and parries make almost no noise.
6. Ninja Strike: The ninja may spend a drama point to attack twice in a round without making an all-out attack.

1. Mighty Thews: The Barbarian does +2d damage. Always. With everything.
2. Skin Like Iron: When unarmored, the Barbarian take wounds on a 7+ and has DR1
3. None Will Stand: When making an All-Out attack (+2d or two attacks) the Barbarian gains +2 DR and does 2 wounds when he rolls a 9 or 10 on damage.
4. Towering Presence: The Barbarian kills any mook or minion he strikes. If he kills a target, he may choose to make a move or make an additional attack on a target in range. He may do this once per round.
5. Fury of the North: The Barbarian gains an additional line of five physical wound boxes. When unarmored, the Barbarian takes wounds on an 8+ and has DR2.
6. Like a Cornered Beast: The Barbarian only takes persistent wound tags for his last line. For every physical wound tag he takes, he does +1d damage. He may use his level four talent twice per round.

1. Wizard Lore: Wizards begin with their choice of two methods and four mediums. As Arcane casters, Wizards use "Mental" for their spell casting pulls.
2. Magical Specialist: The Wizard may choose one method to gain an expertise (+) in. The Wizard gains a familiar, which has four wounds- any damage from casting spells may be applied to the familiar instead.
3. Mystic Training: The Wizard may choose two mediums- when casting spells of those types, the Wizard gains an extra repull. Additionally, the Wizard takes one less wound when casting spells of that type.
4. Intense Study: The Wizard gains a +1 bump to all spell-casting pulls.
5. Magical Dueling: The Wizard gains armor 7+ with 3DR versus any magical damage. Additionally, if the Wizard has not acted this round, they may attempt to intercept a spell cast in their vision as an action. This is done as a contested mental pull.
6. Master Wizard: The potency of the Wizard’s spells mean that they do +2d damage and give a -1 penalty to all resistance attempts.

1. Druidic Channels: Druids begin with the methods Imbue+ and Defend. They begin with the mediums Nature and Holy, plus one more of their choice. Druids may not learn the mediums Fire, Demon or Time. As Divine casters, Druids use "Social" for their spell casting pulls.
2. Strength of Oak: When a Druid casts a "buff" they may add an extra target to the casting for free. In addition, the Druid’s buffs gain a bonus (add extra damage, prevent more damage, last longer, add a tag) of their choice.
3. Pet: The Druid gains a pet. They share a mind-link, allowing the Druid to pass commands to it and see through the pet’s eyes. In combat, the pet functions as an additional aspect (which may be targeted by an opponent).
4. Animal Form: The Druid selects one of the following animal forms which they may then freely transform into as an action. While in this form, the Druid may not cast other spells: Bear Form: gain ten temporary wounds, claw attack does 4w +5d, armor 7+ DR 2; Wolf Form: fast running, tracking and discriminatory scent; Hawk Form: flight, small size, and keen vision.
5. War-Druid: The Druid adds +1d to all forms of attack. When casting an offensive spell, the Druid may freely add a tag to the target if the spell lands.
6. Arch-Druid: The Druid gains +1 DR to all forms of damage. Additionally, they may learn a second animal form. As a free action, the Druid may spend a drama point to heal either five points of damage to themselves or remove a non-persistent wound tag.

1. Jack of All Trades: The Rogue does +1d damage with a weapon type of his choice (swords, daggers, bows, etc). Additionally he gains +1DR to both physical and mental damage.
2. Acrobat: The Rogue may attack and then move. He can land without damage for any fall of 30’ or less. If he successfully makes a Dodge pull vs. area attacks, he take no damage instead of half damage.
3. Larceny: The rogue may choose two specialties from the following list: pickpocket, detect traps, lockpicking, disarm traps, shadowing and hide. Each specialty gives him a +1 bump to attempts. Additionally when "casing a place" the Rogue may use his assessment attempt to add two tags instead of one.
4. Combat Trickery: When attacking a surprised target, the rogue may "backstab." Each successful rolled die of damage does 2 points instead of 1. Additionally, when the Rogue invokes an aspect to do extra damage he adds +3d instead of +2d.
5. Striker: The Rogue now does another +2d damage with attacks. If in Light Armor, he gains +1DR to any physical attacks he’s aware of. As well, a successful fast talk/persuasion attempt by the Rogue may add a free tag or effect.
6. Tricksy Minx: The Rogue may make an extra free move each round. He gains a +1 bump to all Dodge, Parry and Block attempts. The Rogue may attempt to pickpocket an aware opponent- even in combat- instead of a movement action.


  1. Reading through your class construction posts, you might find interest in the "Pie Piece" system of Neoclassical Geek Revival. It would need to be tweaked to go with the main archetypes you are looking for, but it may be a cleaner way than needing to create additional classes on the fly while still allowing the class construction you are looking for.

    If you would like a PDF copy shoot me an email at liberinterdico from Google's mail provider.

  2. I'd add one more piece of advice to designers, don't be afraid to learn that others don't like your stuff. Whatever level you've delved into with your game, won't appeal to everyone. If you can, find out why it's not liked and open yourself up to tweaks that would make it appealing to others. Creation in a total vacuum is bad.

    Interesting thoughts, sir and I think I want to bang on these classes for awhile and see what I notice in regards to game play balance, perceived or unperceived.

  3. @Zzarcho: Sounds interesting, I'll send you an email.

    @Derek: Agreed- and I'd say one interesting thing to take from building your game based on the actual campaign & play that you want, is that you can play with the balance importance knob pretty seriously. If your players aren't as concerned about parity, or if the games low-combat, then certain kinds of balance won't be an issue. As well, the shorter the campaign, the less 'balance' is really an issue- or at least provided there aren't huge deviations, the few times for those things to become an issue.

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