... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

X Without Spells

Back when I wrote up the illusionist without spells class, Brendan commented that he liked the adaptability of the X Without Spells paradigm and wished I'd do a magic-user without spells. My response to this is kind of complicated. Of course, *I* like the X Without Spells paradigm, too, which explains why I've done a couple of these: the cleric, the necromancer, and the vaguest hint of a bard without spells.

But I don't do it with every class: I've talked about doing the druid without spells before, but then wrote up a druid class that doesn't work entirely like that. My reason: I use the traditional "with spells" paradigm for classes with a wide range of knowledge-based powers, but use the "without spells" paradigm for those with a more limited range of powers based on commanding or bargaining with other beings.

The "without spells" approach is based on the reaction roll, and the interpretation of Turn Undead as a reaction roll: subtract the HD of the creature being commanded from the level of the character making the command, double the result, and use it to modify a 2d6 roll. On 9+, the command works. Thus:
  • 1st level Cleric turning ghoul: 2 x (1st level - 2 HD) = -2 to roll (effectively requires 11+)
  • 1st level Necromancer controlling skeleton: 2 x (1st level - 0 HD) = +2 to roll (requires 7+)
  • 1st level Beast Master controlling 2 HD wolf: 2 x ( 1st level - 2 HD) = -2 to roll
  • 1st level Bard charming 1 HD guard: 2 x (1st level - 1 HD) = +0 to roll
I don't actually get rid of the spell lists with the "without spells" approach, since I use the higher of either the target's HD or the spell's level, when trying to produce an effect other than a simple command. So, a Bard trying to put a guard to sleep has no modifier at 1st level, but a paralysis effect (Hold Person) is at -4 and thus not even remotely possible until the 2nd level. In addition, the Necromancer and the Mesmerist both can learn or research spells that fit their theme, but can't memorize them; instead, they prepare scrolls with unique features that make them distinct from standard M-U scrolls.

I wouldn't replace the M-U class with a single "M-U without spells" class with broad powers, but I could see using the Necromancer and the Mesmerist as a template for other narrow-power, themed classes, like perhaps a Conjurer or Alchemist. I may write those up at some point; I did do an alchemist once, but not using the "without spells" paradigm. But I can tell you right now that any new class that can create scrolls or another consumable magic item (like potions for alchemists) would use M-U experience/HD tables, while those that are more like limited fighters or thieves with some extra powers (like the Beast Master or Bard) would use Cleric experience/HD tables.

That's enough information to "roll your own class", so to speak.

No comments:

Post a Comment