Friday, January 24, 2020

Thieves' World - LotFP House Rules

I'm still clearing out my backlog of unfinished posts and old ideas. I've become a bit of an amateur fan of the Thieves' World fantasy setting recently, and I've been thinking about running a campaign using the old Chaosium Box Set at some point. I plan to write a more extensive and enthusiastic post about this in the future.

I was originally planning to use the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules to run this campaign. However, I'm starting to drift away from that line of products, in part because I am no longer as satisfied with their response to certain recent controversies as I once was. I'm not going to rehash the whole thing right here and now; I'm probably going to write another post soon addressing my changing attitude toward LotFP. For now, suffice it to say that I'm most likely going to use a different game to run Thieves' World, assuming I ever get around to it at all.

In the meantime, I had these LotFP house rules sitting around that I'd written up specifically for Thieves' World. Maybe there are some good ideas here that could be ported to another system - I don't know. It's not like James Raggi owns the concept of 1 in 6 skill checks. One could theoretically pull out some of the best bits of LotFP and use them in another system without violating any copyright laws or whatever. Or maybe some folks out there don't plan on supporting future LotFP releases, but they already bought the core rules or some other books, and they figure it doesn't harm anyone to privately make use of what they already own and paid for. It's not like I've thrown my books in the garbage or anything. Or heck, maybe Mr. Raggi will change his mind about certain things in the future and try to undo any harm he may have caused, and I'll feel comfortable supporting his business again. Who knows?

Anyway, do with these as you will, I guess. I still posted them, after all.

"New" Class: Blue Star Adept
Replaces the Cleric class. Works just like the Cleric, with the following exceptions:
  • The Adept sports a blue star tattoo on their forehead, which is used in lieu of a holy symbol for channeling magic. The Adept does not need to obtain or brandish a holy symbol in order to cast spells. Instead, the Adept must either have one hand free (as per the Elf class), or have one hand occupied by no more than a relatively light object - no larger or heavier than a small weapon.
  • The tattoo tends to make the Adept an impressive and imposing figure among the common rabble, but it also makes it difficult for the Adept to hide their identity or blend in with a crowd. Commoners tend to treat Adepts with a mixture of respect, awe, desire, fear, and superstitious hatred or prejudice, in wildly-varying proportions. They stand out.
  • The Adept is immortal and is not subject to magical aging, as per the Elf class.
  • The Adept does not need to memorize multiple copies of one spell at the same time; see "Other Tentative House Rules" below.
  • The Adept must keep a Secret and obey a Taboo. Failure to do so results in the loss of all spell-casting abilities and immortality.
Other Tentative House Rules
  • 784,000 XP Limit - Blue Star Adept level 14, Fighter level 13, Magic-User level 12, Specialist level 15
    • EDIT: Another option would be a limit of 896,000 XP - Blue Star Adept level 15, Fighter level 14, Magic-User level 13, Specialist level 16
    • In this case, Specialists always make saving throws as if they are one level higher. For example, a level 16 Specialist uses the saving throws listed for level 17.
    • If a Specialist gains any skill points after all of their skills are "maxed out" at 6, they gain 2 HP per additional skill point instead.
  • Critical hits (natural 20 on attack rolls) do maximum weapon damage.
  • At level 10, Fighters do double their maximum weapon damage on critical hits. This increases to 3x at level 11, 4x at level 12, and 5x at level 13.
    • EDIT: If the 896,000 XP limit is used, level 14 Fighters do 6x damage on a critical hit.
  • Per VAM: "The Magic-User can cast any number of prepared spells in any combination up to their casting limit before they must prepare spells again." In other words, there is no need to memorize multiple copies of the same spell at once. Magic-Users (and Blue Star Adepts) can memorize one spell per slot, but can cast any spell memorized that day as long as they have a remaining spell slot of the appropriate level.*
  • Magic-Users (and not Blue Star Adepts) can perform "Risky Casting" as per VAM. For the purposes of modifiers to the requisite saving throw vs. magic, "Casting a spell after the usual level-based casting limit has been reached," is replaced with two separate conditions: "Casting a spell without expending a spell slot of the appropriate level" and "Casting a spell without expending a spell slot at all."
  • The spell Read Magic is removed, as per VAM and EC.
  • Specialists start with 8 skill points at level 1 (instead of 4 skill points).
  • The Sleight of Hand skill is now modified by Dexterity.
  • Combine Climbing and Open Doors (and the Swim skill from Veins of the Earth) into one skill called Athletics (modified by Strength) as per We've Got No Class version 2.5.
  • Replace Search skill with Medicine skill (see Playtest Document and EC).
  • Add Luck skill from the Playtest Document with the following modifications: Only Specialists have access to the Luck skill. This skill cannot be increased by spending skill points the way other skills can. Instead, Specialists start with 1 point in Luck at first level, and gain an additional point in Luck at levels 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15.
  • Human classes only. (This could change if the players gain access to another world.)
*Note that I am still using spell levels, unlike VAM and EC.

Generic OSR Thieves' World Takeaways?
  1. Blue Star Adepts could actually work pretty well as the setting's Cleric class. Lawful magic warriors that still get up to murderhobo shenanigans.
  2. It's Thieve's World, so it's pretty darn important that the Thief class not suck.
  3. There are a lot of healers and medical "professionals" in the setting, but not necessarily a lot of explicitly magical healing (outside of Tempus' regeneration). Some kind of healing or medicinal skill is probably called for.
  4. To keep the proper amount of grit in the game, it probably wouldn't hurt to keep things rather low-level in classic OSR fasion - hence the possibility of level limits. That said, there are some pretty powerful beings in the setting, so what do I know?
  5. It wouldn't hurt to loosen up on the typical OSR game's "Vancian" nature of magic in this setting. Magic is weird in Thieves' World, and it comes in a lot of varieties and is hard to pin down with one single system of spellcasting. Not that it shouldn't be systemized at all, but I don't think the typical D&D approach meshes too well with this setting.

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