This is something that’s been on my mind for a long, long time. Though I don’t actually intend to use it in our game, I wanted to write it up and get it out there for some feedback.
I think it’s no secret that a lot of folks have various issues with the cleric class. Despite the fact that my first-ever PC was a cleric (who killed a vampire in his first adventure) the class has never set real well with me for a number of reasons. First of all, I’m not particularly interested in the mythilogical religious aspects of the class; my games are generally fairly light on such things. Secondly, the real place for the class in the game seems sort of up in the air; some see clerics as medics while others see them as undead specialists. I’ve always looked at them as mystic warriors akin to Jedi Knights, but even that is a stretch, particularly considering the class’s weapons restrictions. Finally, I believe the experience point requirements for the class are outlandishly low given the cleric’s capabilities.
Several years back, helped by the lack of variable weapon damage in Swords & Wizardry White Box, I planned to remove the restriction on edged weapons and make clerics the mystic warriors I’d always envisioned them to be. Unfortunately, our S&W:WB game petered out and the opportunity was lost.
Now we’re playing 1e AD&D and not only is the cleric still a problem in my mind, it’s been compounded by the more-than-slightly redundant paladin. My second PC, for what it’s worth, was a paladin, but I’ve never really been a big fan of the class.
So I’ve pondered a solution that not only removes the redundancy but addresses what I dislike about the cleric: combine the two classes into one new class that mostly covers what the two original classes stand for. In a move to further distance the religious connections of the cleric class, I’ve decided to call the new class paladin. Besides, there is lot more historical precedent for the name than the standard cleric and it just sounds cooler.
Anyway, here is a draft of what I’ve come up with. I’ve written it up in 1e format and style as if it were in the PHB and I’ve left the religious aspects intact as I know most games make much more use of that sort of thing than ours does.
It retains much of what the original paladin has, and I hope it hits a good middle ground that will be potentially useful to some who dislike the cleric. My thinking is that, in most cases, anywhere it says “cleric” in the books should be read as “paladin,” with most of the weapons and items for fighters also available for this new class. (I’m sure that there are conflicts that I’ve not thought of and I’d appreciate anyone pointing them out.)
What I’m really uncertain about is the XP requirement scale, but any feedback will be very welcome. I’ve stuck with the standard paladin scale for now, with HD and most paladin abilities knocked down a bit but spell casting added at 3rd level. I think it’s probably in the right ballpark, anyway, but would not hesitate to tweak it if good reasons were given.
As I’ve said, we aren’t actually planning to run this class in our game; I’m trying hard to run a mostly-BtB AD&D game these days and though I’d love to incorporate this class, it just doesn’t fit in with what I’m after.
UPDATE: Due to conflicting file names, I think some people were getting only a link to the PDF and missing the blog post. I’ve fixed that now, and apologize for the confusion.
Since I’ve been moaning about our ever-morphing homebrew game so much lately, I thought I’d put up something actually useful for a change.
So here’s a free PDF with random spells for NPC clerics. Roll a d10, check the table, and play on without needing to spend time figuring it all out. Particularly helpful to avoid the temptation to “stack the deck,” so to speak, when choosing spells because the DM has an idea what’s about to happen in the game. This way the clerics PCs run into will have spell lists that resemble what normal clerics would normally have and not hold person three times because the DM want to immobilize the party. Well, usually not; I think I’ve got a good mix.
This uses the spell progression chart and spell list from Labyrinth Lord’s core rules; the progression is the same in the Advanced Edition Companion, but none of the extra AEC spells were used here. The result is something very similar to, but not exactly the same as, the spell progression and selection in other oldschool versions of the game.
Be sure to check out the other free Kilgore Kreations.
Just a simple DM aid that I quickly cooked up with Excel: Sheets of 144 pre-rolled hit point totals for 1 HD monsters. Gross.
Since we use d6 hit dice in our homebrew game, I made sheets for both 1d8 and 1d6:
With circles to mark off as they get hit.
I have a pile of d6s that I roll and just line up while playing, but this might be a useful alternative. I don’t have nearly enough d8s to do the same thing with d8 HD (and they don’t line up nearly so nice) so this could be a big time saver.
Also going onto the free Kreations page. I’ll cook up more sheets for higher HD as time allows.
It occurred to me that nearly everyone who wants to give Five Color Magic a try in their own game will want to tweak it a bit. So I uploaded a .doc version of the lists for you to mess with:
Last week I wondered aloud about the possibility of reorganizing the spell lists and spellcaster classes into five schools or spheres based loosely on that one card game. As I’ve thought about it some more and got my son involved, we’ve come to like the idea more and more. So, without further ado, here is the list of spell levels 1 through 5 in PDF form:
There are, I think, a lot of benefits to doing something along these lines. Most of all, it gives five fairly equally-playable classes instead of four where one (the druid) is often seen as out of place and another (the illusionist) is often not viable. Plus it solves the issue of “just what is the cleric class doing in the game, anyway?” which has always bugged me a bit. Rather than one powerful spellcaster and one supporting cast member, there are five flavors of adventuring wizard, each with strengths and weaknesses.
I should say that this list is not exaclty what we’ve come up with for our own game. We’ve added a few spells (such as a full complement of cure wounds spells) and some other minor tweaking along the way. I wanted a fairly standard list for others, though, so I’ve removed our own spells and used the standard names from Labyrinth Lord’s Advanced Edition Companion.
One thing we’ve done on our own list is to slightly adjust the spell’s flavor to better suit the color it ended up in. For instance, in our list the illusionist spell obscuring mist is in the red list so we changed it to obscuring smoke to better match red’s theme of fire. And some of the overtly-religious spells have also been re-named while keeping the same mechanical effect. Bless, for instance, became rally.
Some of the slotting decisions were arbitrary, and no doubt others will want to adjust things to their liking before giving it a try. Our own list is still in a state of flux and will probably continue to be so for some time as we keep tinkering. One thing that I did leave in from our take are the separate elemental conjuration spells (as the druid handles it) rather than the all-in-one conjure elemental magic-user spell. Splitting up the conjuration and banishment of elementals from the various elemental planes really plays to the strength of the color-based system, so I included it here.
Our basic idea is to use five wizard classes, one for each color. A wizard will only be able to cast spells of his own color or from the “colorless” list which consists of general magical function spells. An optional idea is to allow wizards of higher levels to begin getting access to lower-level spells from the two sympathetic colors (white and red for green, for instance). We haven’t quite worked out how we’ll manage that.
Another thing we’ve been thinking about is making spells of seventh-level and above require cooperative casting by wizards from two or more colors.
One thing I should say is that this does not at all, I think, turn D&D into some sort of Magic: The Roleplaying Game. The spells themselves remain the same as in the original game and the number cast per day is unchanged. This is simply an attempt to look at an alternative class system for spellcasting adventurers.
Take a look if interested and, by all means, give me some feedback on this. It has gone from something done out of curiosity to something that is looking more and more worthwhile to use in our game. In fact, my son’s enthusiasm for the idea has us working on taking some of these ideas beyond just the magic system and re-tooling our homebrew game in a more significant manner. I’ll have more on that in the near future if we keep at it.
Here is a one-page PDF of the Roll to Advance system I introduced last week. Obviously, the one-page format does not allow for in-depth explanation or discussion of the system, but it does provide the basics needed to use it in play.
This PDF currently uses the original racial modifiers despite the fact that I still suspect that they may be slightly too high.
A number of readers have expressed interest in trying this in their games. I would LOVE to hear feedback from those that do, particularly about adjustments that you’ve made and your experiences with the multi-class methods.
For our adventures in the Forbidden Jungle, we’ve had to modify our Labyrinth Minions system to include the native tribesmen who are hiring themselves out to hunters, explorers, and adventurers.
There is a steady stream of people from the settled lands across the sea arriving in the crowded town at the mouth of the huge river which snakes up into the Heart of Darkness. Many of these (which we call “old worlders”) arrive with hopes of gold, ivory, and glory but soon find themselves with nothing but a rusty sword and an empty stomach. They are only too willing to hire themselves out as porters, torch bearers, or men-at-arms to an expedition.
Also, the word has spread among the native tribes that gold can be earned by working for these crazy old worlders. So there is usually no shortage of natives looking for work as well. Unlike most campaigns I’ve run, in the Forbidden Jungle there is no shortage of potential hirelings.
And it’s a good thing, as the Forbidden Jungle is a deadly place. The natives know and accept this with a grim determination. The newcomers maybe don’t, but with no family on the continent there is no one to complain if someone heads out on an expedition but never returns. Most of the old worlders who don’t return are never missed by anyone. It’s sad, but the jungle has no sympathy.
Here is the modified version of the Minions sheet:
The native tribesmen are more lightly armed and armored than the old-worlders but are a bit hardier in the environment as reflected by their slightly better hit points. The scale mail for the tribesmen can represent either new world scale mail or perhaps some special tribal construction.
Was rummaging through some old 2e stuff and came across this sheet I cooked up back in the day using MS Excel:
Though it’s obviously crammed full of all sorts of stuff compared to the sheets I’ve gotten used to for Labyrinth Lord, this sheet actually served pretty well. The only changes I made from the old days were to add a Kilgore badge in the lower corner and to switch the ammo and food/water boxes to circles because the little boxes I was using weren’t coming through correctly in the PDF conversion.
This was actually the second full-fledged 2e sheet I created, done in around 1998 or 1999. The first one was done in Lotus 1-2-3 around 1990, I believe, and printed on 9-pin tractor feed printers. Those were the days. I’m sure that sheet is on an old floppy somewhere, but I’m not going to go looking for it right now.
Not sure if anyone is interested or not, but I’ll toss this one up into the collection of free Kilgore Kreations. I’ll put it next to the digest-sized White Box sheet for an at-a-glance look at how different the two systems are.