Thursday, July 7, 2016

Expanding on the Professional - An Idea for Classless LotFP

This is a follow up to my post about a proposed Professional class for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is itself a sort of follow up to my Fighters=Thieves post regarding old-school D&D in general. In response to my "Professional" post, Yora wrote an interesting and helpful comment that included the following: "I think when you go down that road you might as well go classless." Meanwhile, my friend Rob, who plays in our Lamentations of the Fallen Lords campaign, has expressed much interest in classless systems in RPGs. Now, there are two different classless systems presented in The Undercroft, one in Issue #4 and one in Issue #9*, and I like both of them and would like to discuss them in the future. However, since I like to tinker with the rules myself, I figure I might as well jot down one of my ideas for a classless system here, which is basically an expansion of the Professional class.

Everyone Thinks They're a Professional

HP as Specialist (d6 HD). Minimum HP at first level is 6. Experience Table as Fighter. Spells that can be memorized/cast per level/day as Magic-User. Alignment can probably be ignored, but if not, treat all PCs who do not know any spells as Neutral and any who know at least one spell as Chaotic.

All Saves are 17 minus the character's level, capped at a minimum of 2 (you can easily make this 3 or 4 if you feel that 2 is too generous). I'm fairly sure I got this idea from a comment by MarkS (posted on February 9, 2014) on a blog post at Papers & Pencils. EDIT: I've also heard that Swords & Wizardry has a similar saving throw system, but I think different classes get bonuses in different situations. I haven't played it yet, myself.

At character creation, a player may choose to start with either a free blank spellbook or a free set of specialist's tools and two free maps (one of the local area and one of the kingdom, nation, or greater area). The character also receives the normal amount of random starting money, which can be spent on starting equipment as usual.

Characters start with 4 Skill Points at first level and gain 2 Skill Points at every level after that, like the Specialist. Skill Points can be spent in the following ways:
  • They can be invested in skills, as per the Specialist.
  • For two Skill Points, the character can buy the Fighter's full set of Combat Options: Press, Defensive Fighting, and the improved version of Parry.
  • For one Skill Point, the character can increase his or her Base Attack Bonus by 1. This can only be done once per level, and the Base Attack Bonus cannot exceed +10.
  • For one Skill Point, the character can increase his or her HP by 2. This can only be done once per level.
  • For two Skill Points, the character can learn three random spells. The spells must be randomly selected from a list containing only spells that a Magic-User of the character's level could memorize (e.g. second level spells could not be learned in this manner by a character below level 3).
  • For two Skill Points, the character can learn one spell of their choice, as long as that spell can be found within the Rules & Magic book (or another book that the DM wishes to include, at their discretion). The spell selected must be one that a Magic-User of the character's level could memorize (e.g. second level spells could not be learned in this manner by a character below level 3).
If firearms are available, any character who has either a Base Attack Bonus of at least +2 or the Fighter's Combat Options is treated as a Fighter when reloading a firearm (see pages 159 and 161 of the Rules & Magic book).

When a character learns a spell by spending Skill Points, they learn it through a supernatural flash of insight and can copy it down into their spellbook within an hour (per spell) and at no monetary cost, instead of taking the usual time and money to do so.

The spell Read Magic is removed from the game, and characters with spellbooks may choose to write their spells in a dead or obscure language, or perhaps using a cipher.

No PC automatically starts with any spells. An empty spellbook can be bought (see Rules & Magic page 30). Any PC can copy spells from scrolls and from other books into their personal spellbook (or a blank spellbook, which then becomes their personal spellbook) like a Magic-User (see Rules & Magic pages 80 and 82). However, a character can only perform the following actions once they have already learned at least one spell (i.e. transcribed it into their spellbook, either upon leveling up or by copying it from a scroll or another spellbook):

  • Cast a spell from a scroll, wand, or staff.
  • Research a spell.
  • Create a scroll, potion, wand, or staff.
Spells can only be memorized from a PC's own personal spellbook and not one written by someone else. Likewise, PCs can only create a scroll, potion, wand, or staff using spells from their own personal spellbook. However, a PC can use multiple personal spellbooks if they buy or make blank ones and transcribe spells to them from scratch, so it is possible to have a "backup" book if the necessary time and money are spent.

If a character learns a spell by spending Skill Points, but does not have a personal spellbook (or a blank one to use as such) at the time of leveling up, at the DM's discretion they may add the spell to such a spellbook the next time they have one. Otherwise, a character without a personal or blank spellbook cannot choose to learn spells by spending Skill Points.

If the DM wishes, some or all of the Cleric spells can simply be treated as Magic-User spells and added to the list of available spells in the game. If the spell Bless is included in the game, a character who knows that spell may make holy water (see Rules & Magic page 76) at the DM's discretion.

Note 1: If you don't like the whole "personal spellbooks vs. other spellbooks" thing (which I believe is pretty much included in the Playtest Document), you can drop that easily enough and use the spellbook rules from Rules & Magic. I included this idea to make learning spells a little harder to offset the ease of buying spells with Skill Points or transcribing them without casting Read Magic, and to make it easier to portray spellbooks as highly personalized artifacts that reflect the psychology of the wizards who wrote them.

Note 2: If you want magic to be more like in Call of Cthulh, in which no one gets to just start with spells and those crazy enough to want them must seek them out or stumble upon them, you could disallow players from buying spells with Skill Points while still allowing any character to otherwise learn spells as described above. Perhaps you could also inflict some penalty for learning spells - madness, mutations, etc.

*You can also read this one HERE, although I highly recommend picking up The Undercroft #9.

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