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Monday, May 3, 2010

Racial Spell-Like Abilities

As much as I like that latest suggestion of using racial abilities as replacement class abilities (effectively treating race as class,) I'd like the option of integrating the easy approach to racial spell-like abilities into the new approach, or at least giving other people the option of using either or both. Fortunately, I've got the Gifted class to suggest the way: a race with an innate power (1st level equivalent) is a lot like a Gifted character limited to 1st level. So: let races with a single innate ability function as a Gifted characters with a penalty to the Con save equal to the power level of their ability.

Example: I gave a -6 level cap to Halflings to pay for their +4 save bonus and innate Invisibility. Let's drop the save bonus and focus on the "little people who can hide in plain sight" archetype: that's a -2 adjustment. Under this scheme, a Halfling can turn invisible at will, but must make a Con -2 save or potentially lose up to 4 hit points from the effort (roll 2d6, each die result less than or equal to 2 counts as damage.)

An option to the damage roll, especially for races with multiple abilities at different power levels, is to treat failed Con rolls as causing sleep deprivation, with a penalty to action if it reaches the severe level.

If you trust the original race's power balance, this actually allows quick conversions of AD&D races:
  • subtract the race's level cap from 12 to get the level adjustment;
  • subtract level adjustment from Con rolls when using innate powers.
Of course, I'm going to meddle with the races, so expect to see follow-up posts...


  1. Hmmm, not sure how I feel about a unique save mechanic for special Classes and Races, such as described here and in the Gifted post.

    I think personally I would go with a x/day approach. I mean, the special power is already based on a spell, so why not just allow them to do their special thing as many times a day as a caster of the same level would be able to?


  2. If you prefer that approach, go for it. I object to it myself, because then there's no real difference between the Gifted and the Magic-User.

    A simpler approach would be to have a Con save or take 1d6 damage, but that makes the cost steeper for 1st level Gifted or races with innate powers, and much easier for higher level characters.

  3. True, and I hadn't thought of that. What if, and I am just throwing this out as a knee jerk reaction, the casting of the Gift's spells cost Constitution points ala Microlite20? I initially thought of the HP cost, but with S&W:WB and 0D&D that seems too costly.

    I am just brainstorming here, as I really like your ideas. If I am stepping on your creative toes, or you would prefer to develop this on your own, please let me know.


  4. No prob, these things are still transitional.

    Microlite20 actually uses hp, not Con, to power spells; cost is 1hp + double the spell level. This is higher than my proposed cost, but I'll have to save a more detailed commentary and possible alternatives for tomorrow's post; Blogger just freaked out over my first attempt to reply.