Category Archives: Cunning Classes

LotFP Class: Totem Magician (FFX Lulu)

A couple years back, I took some of the more interesting Final Fantasy X characters, and turned them into LotFP Classes. At the time, I’d intended to take a crack at Lulu, but she’s tough. She’s a bog-standard black mage, which is just the Final Fantasy equivalent of the Magic User. What is there to say?

Then recently, as I was writing about Fighter’s Armies, I started really digging in to the idea of class choice being more about complexity than about mechanics. I choose a fighter when I want to play something simple, I choose a magic user when I want to play something complicated. Naturally, this led me to thinking about switching those roles around. Create a complex fighter, and a simple magic user.

It’s hardly an original idea. D&D 3.5 made dozens of attempts to simplify the magic user with the Sorcerer, Warlock, Warmage, and so on. Fighters, of course, got the notorious Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic. So it doesn’t escape me that I’m on thin ice here. This is an oft-traveled road, and it has led to some truly questionable results in the past. To make matters even worse, I’m going to throw in a magical resource pool. A thing which every 12-year-old tries, and which has basically never worked. But what the hell? I do this shit for fun.

The Totem Mage
Totem Mages are faking it. They don’t have any magical powers of their own. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time to make friends with a disembodied intelligence that needed someone to carry it around. Usually this intelligence treats their host like shit though, so it’s not all good luck.

The real magician is the intelligence, which lives inside a totem. Totems can can take many forms: a teddy bear, a ceramic doll, even a sock puppet. The only real requirement is that whatever form it takes should have a mouth, so it can whisper things to its host.

If the totem is destroyed, the host will need to find a suitable replacement. Until it has a new totem to live in, the intelligence can’t cast any spells.

When the situation calls for it, totem and host can separate and move around on their own, allowing the player to functionally control 2 characters. However, the host cannot cast spells without the totem. And without the host, the totem has a movement rate of 20′(60′), an armor rating of 12, 1 hit point, and all of its saving throws require a 17 or better.

Totem mages share their hit dice and saves with the Magic User, and use the Fighter’s experience table.

Totem Mage Casting

All of the Totem Mage’s spells are evocations which deal 1d6 damage per caster level. Whenever they cast, the Totem Mage must choose what shape their spell will take, and what type of damage their spell will deal.

There are 5 possible spell shapes, most of which require the Totem Mage to spend some of their mana. For each level the Totem Mage has, they have 3 points of mana in their mana pool. The pool can only be replenished by a full night’s sleep.

Spell Shapes

Touch (0 Mana): Affects a single target after a successful melee touch attack. Since it costs 0 mana, this shape allows the Totem Mage to continue casting even after their mana pool is completely empty for the day.

Thrown (1 Mana): The caster forms a little ball in their hand, which they throw. Affects a single target after a successful ranged touch attack.

Line (2 Mana): The caster points a finger, and a line 60′ long and 5′ wide erupts from that starting point. Everyone along the line takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Cone (3 Mana): The caster splays their hands out, thumb touching thumb, and a cone of energy erupts from them. The cone is 60′ long, and spreads out to be 40′ wide at its terminus. Everyone within this area takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Sphere (4 Mana): The caster indicates a target individual or location within their line of sight. From that spot, a sphere of energy erupts out to a 30′ radius. Anything within this space takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Damage Types

Whatever shape the Totem Mage casts in, they need something to fill that space. It wouldn’t do much good to cast a cone of “gentle breeze” after all. The spell needs to pack some punch.

At every odd numbered level (1, 3, 5, 7, etc), the Totem Mage should roll to determine a new type of damage that they’ve managed to add to their repertoire. If they roll something they’ve already got, re-roll until you get something new.

At first, the Totem Mage must roll on the basic list. After level 6, however, they may choose whether they want to roll on the basic list, or the advanced list. Most of the advanced damage types allow the caster to sacrifice some number of damage dice from their roll. These sacrificed dice will lead to some additional effect on their targets.

Referee and player should both bear in mind that every damage type will have some things it is particularly effective against, and some things it may not be effective against at all.

Basic Damage Types

  1. Fire – A self-explanatory element. The referee should note any objects in the area which may catch fire. Using the Touch spell shape, this can also be used to light candles, burn ropes, cauterize wounds, etc.
  2. Cold – Heat drains away from the area, possibly forming little crystals of ice. Can also be used to freeze water, chill drinks, stave relieve heat stroke, etc.
  3. Acid – A liquid which melts organic material, such as flesh and wood. Has no effect on minerals, such as stone or metal.
  4. Metal Shards – Little spinning shards of metal fill the space, piercing and slicing everything they touch.
  5. Electricity – Lightning arcs between every available target. A caster using the Touch spell shape may be able to feed a machine a steady stream of electricity, turning them into a kind of walking battery.
  6. Sonic – Vibrations pierce the ears of anything that can hear, shatter glass or crystal, and may even shake a few screws loose from constructs.

Advanced Damage Types

  1. Poison Gas – The caster may sacrifice half of their damage dice to require anyone who failed their save to make a second save against Poison. On failure, the targets will fall asleep.
  2. Force – A relentless bludgeoning which strikes over and over again like a thousand fists. For each die of damage the caster sacrifices, targets who are hit must move back 10′. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then they only need to move back half the total distance.
  3. Pure Arcane Magic – Ignores all elemental or physical immunities, and does not allow for misses or saves. However, instead of dealing d6s of damage, the caster must roll d4s.
  4. Gravity – Targets are slammed prone against the ground with force. For each die of damage sacrificed, the earth gives way beneath the targets, pulling them down into a pit 5′ deep for each die sacrificed. (The pit is formed by the downward force of their body, so there is no falling damage). If a target makes their save versus Breath, then any pit they make is only half as deep.
  5. Vitality Drain – Eldritch tentacles reach into the targets’ bodies and rip out their essences. For each target which takes at least 1 hit point of damage, the caster gains 1 hit point, up to their usual maximum.
  6. Earth – A hail of stones and dirt rise up from the ground to pelt the targets. If the caster sacrifices half of their damage dice, they may bury their targets up to the waist. If they sacrifice all of their damage dice, they may bury their targets entirely beneath a heap of dirt and stone. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then if they would have been completely buried, they are only half buried. And if they would have been half buried, they are not buried at all.





LotFP Class: The Exiled Prince

Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin of Northumbria; an Exiled Prince.

From the day you were born you began preparing for greatness. You were groomed to excel in war, politics, and statecraft. Every hunting trip was meant to hone you into a better warrior. Every day spent with your father was an object lesson in how to be a ruler. You’ve known all your life that someday you would be a king.

Then some fucked up shit happened. Maybe your father was ousted in a coup. Maybe one of your siblings outmaneuvered you at court. Maybe you simply lacked the political capitol to consolidate your own rule after your father’s passing. Whatever the reason, you became an exile. The land you were destined from birth to be the unquestioned master of is now the one place in the world you can never go.

Understandably, you don’t have much of an idea of what to do with your life. You never even considered doing anything other than being a great king. The loss of that future has put you in a bit of an existential crisis. But you’re clever, capable, and broke, so adventuring seems like a good idea.

Exiled Princes begin play with 3d4 * 500 starting money. Obviously “broke” is a relative concept. They have a 1d8 hit die, and save as a Fighter. They advance according to the Cleric’s experience table.

In any major city that an Exiled Prince visits, there is a 1 in 6 chance that a supporter of their dynasty lives there. At the very least, this supporter will be happy to wine and dine the prince. This supporter’s resources may not be great, and they may even be an exile themselves, but they will do what they can within the limits of their own ability, and their own private agendas. Roll 2d4 on the table below to determine what help they might offer freely:

2. They can offer no help beyond shelter and good food while you are in their company.
3. They can indicate a nearby city where a passionate supporter of your dynasty has recently arrived. If you visit, they will no doubt be happy to see you.
4. They are well connected with the local government of this city, and can provide the Exiled Prince with valuable contacts there.
5. They’ve got a beneficial potion somewhere in an old chest, and they’ll send a servant to go fetch it for you. The potion is nothing particularly special, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
6. They have a very fine piece of equipment to give you as a gift. (1. A warhorse 2. A suit of plate armor 3. A well made sword. 4. A piece of art or jewelry)
7. 1d8 * 500 money. This money does not grant any experience.
8. A fighter 1d3 levels lower than the Exiled Prince (minimum 1) is currently in their employ, which they do not presently have any use of. They will place him in your service. This hireling automatically accepts their new employment, and their loyalty is 1 greater than what the roll to determine loyalty would indicate.

Thanks to their extensive martial training, Exiled Princess excel in the use of arms. Any weapon wielded by an Exiled Prince uses a damage die that is one better than normal. A weapon that would normally deal 1d4 damage instead deals 1d6; a 1d6 weapon deals 1d8; a 1d8 weapon deals 1d10; and a 1d10 weapon deals 1d12. This method allows the Exiled Prince to display a greater martial prowess than other classes, while maintaining the Fighter’s unique place as the only class that receives any to-hit bonuses as they advance in level.

When recruiting followers and hirelings, Exiled Princes roll 4d6 to determine whether employment will be accepted, and what their new recruit’s loyalty will be. This still uses the chart on page 51 of the Rules & Magic book. Any rolls over 18 are simply reduced to 18. Whether this greater degree of loyalty is due to the recruit’s awe in directly serving someone of royal blood, or if it’s the fruit of an entire life cultivating the qualities of leadership, the result is the same. An Exiled Prince’s followers are loyal, and many will happily die in service to their lord. Which, in turn, means that having a hireling die in the Exiled Prince’s service does not result in any penalties to future hiring attempts.

Political training gives the Exiled Prince a distinct advantage in maneuvering through social situations. For each level, an Exiled Prince may reroll one reaction die per session. So a 4th level Exiled Prince may reroll 1 die from 4 different reaction rolls, or both die from two reaction rolls, or any combination in between.

While most high level characters might establish a stronghold, an Exiled Prince is entitled to establish a Government in Exile. The Exiled Prince may choose a nation other than their homeland to host this body, and will be provided with accommodations suitable to his station.  The referee should bear in mind that the Government in Exile is essentially a bargaining chip/backup plan for the host government

LotFP Class: Torturer

130092_story__wpid-400guillotine17October is the month for spoopiness. Lets get spoopy.

Sometimes people don’t want to be honest with you. Sometimes they’ve got secrets that they’re determined to take to the grave. Fortunately, there are things much worse than death, and you’re intimately familiar with all of them. You can introduce these deceitful cockroaches to pains they’ve never imagined, and soon enough they’ll be telling you things they didn’t even know they knew.

Torturers have a d6 hit die. They use the fighter’s saves and experience table. In combat, Torturers lack the consistency of the fighter, but they compensate in their detailed knowledge of how to maximize suffering. The damage die of whatever weapon the Torturer uses is increased by one step. (A d6 becomes a d8, etc.)

If a Torturer deals the finishing blow to a target, then at their option, the target may be merely helpless rather than slain. Once helpless, they are ready to be plied by the Torturer’s eponymous ability.

Torture requires that a Torturer carry a kit of torturer’s tools with them, which are an encumbering item. These consist of a small variety of knives, clamps, and perhaps a thumbscrew. Once they’ve got a helpless target to play with, the Torturer may use their unique talents to receive the answer to one question per ten minutes of torture.

If there is any reasonable chance that the creature being tortured knows the correct answer to the question, then they will provide it. If you ask a footsoldier about their general’s plans, then this footsoldier just happened to be walking past the general’s tent when a few choice words were being spoken. What they can tell you might be incomplete, but it will be useful.

If there is no reasonable chance that the creature being tortured knows the correct answer (as in you picked up a random child off the street and asked them about the secret plans of a wizard half the world away), then they will lie. The referee, however, should not lie. They should tell the players that the victim doesn’t know anything, and that they’re spouting nonsense just to make the hurt stop. As an experienced Torturer, the PC knows how to spot the difference.

Torturers may ask a number of questions equal to their level, plus 1. After all possible questions have been asked, the victim dies from their injuries. If the Torturer stops 1 question short of their possible amount, then they can keep their victim alive. Asking the same victim any further questions requires a successful heal check, and a week of time to allow them to recover.

Speaking of: every artist needs an eraser. As such, Torturers begin play with a heal skill of 2-in-6. This automatically goes up by 1 at levels 3,  6, 9, and 12. If you do not already use the heal skill in your games, here it is reprinted for the use of the Torturer as a unique class ability:

Using the Heal skill requires a character to have a healing kit handy, which is an encumbering item. On a successful check, the injured character may roll their hit die, and recover the resulting amount of hit points. If the check is succeeded by a margin of 2 or more (for example, if a 1 is rolled when the skill is at 3-in-6), then the patient receives 2 hit dice worth of healing. If the check is succeeded by a margin of 4 or more, the patient receives 3 hit dice of healing.

Healing checks require 3 turns to perform. If a check is attempted when there is only a 1-in-6 chance of success, then failure causes 1 hit point of damage. Inexperienced hands tend to make things worse rather than better.

If the Torturer has access to a fully equipped torture chamber, they may attempt brainwashing. Such a chamber is usually underground, costs at least 10,000 silver pieces to equip, and comes complete with racks, iron maidens, and a collection of sinister alchemical concoctions. Unless the Torturer’s activities are state sanctioned, the location of their torture chamber must also remain a secret. If it is discovered, it will be mobbed and ransacked by a justifiably enraged populace.

Brainwashing requires a helpless victim with at least 1 fewer hit dice than the Torturer. A single attempt takes 1 week of time, after which the Torturer may roll 2d4 on the following table. They may add +1 for every additional 3000 silver pieces they spent stocking their torture chamber.

2. Your victim has successfully fooled you. They faked being brainwashed, and the moment you let your guard down they escaped. They will probably lead an angry mob back here promptly.
3. You overdid it, and your victim is now brain damaged. It’s not a total loss. They’re very suggestible. They’ll do pretty much anything you tell them to. Unfortunately they’ve got so little left inside their head that they’re more likely to break a dish than they are to wash it.
4-6. Stockholm Syndrome has set in hard. Your victim has become devoted to you with an almost religious zealotry. They can’t bear to be away from you for more than a couple hours at a time, and tells anyone who will listen what a great guy you are. They’ll do pretty much anything you tell them, but they’re awkward and obvious about it.
7. Your victim doesn’t really remember the torture, they just have this vague idea that at some point you invited them over for a cup of tea, and during the conversation they realized what a great dude you are. They decided at that point that it really was in their best interests to stick with you and do whatever you tell them to. They function as a henchperson with a loyalty of 11.
8. You’ve turned your victim into a sleeper agent. They will return to their lives and act completely normal. No one will know anything is different about them until a triggering event of your choosing occurs. When that happens, they will carry out whatever instructions you give them with a complete disregard for their own life or safety.

LotFP Class: Djinn Kin

Djinn Kin - Ronnie WhelanSometimes people fuck genies.

It’s gross, and it’s shameful, but there it is. And when it happens, they make horrible, affront-unto-god genie babies. Or, as they prefer to be called, “Djinn Kin.”

The skin of a Djinn Kin is tinted some unnatural color; green, blue, red, purple; so at least it’s easy to tell them apart from the rest of us. Their body temperature is also significantly higher than a proper human’s, such that it’s uncomfortable to touch one for very long. Not that any decent person would want to touch one anyway.

Djinn Kin have a d4 hit die, and they advance as specialists for experience gain and saving throws.

At first level, and each time a Djinn Kin levels up, they can make a single Wish. Their wishes must be phrased in the terms of the game world, without reference to mechanics or metagame materials. It is a desire put into words by their character, and should reflect that.

As with any wish, the referee should act in good faith. Discuss openly the outcome of the character’s wish. Be receptive to refinements of its phrasing, and suggestions for its potential effects. The referee always has the final word on when the discussion is over, and what the effects will be. However, a Wish should be a player’s blank check to make something awesome happen, not an excuse to fuck the player over.

Likewise, players should view a Wish as a blank check to make something awesome happen, not an opportunity to make themselves game-breakingly powerful. Infinite money, invincibility, more wishes, if those’re is the sort of things you wish for, you’re an asshole. Why not just wish to “win” D&D? All you’re doing is creating a situation where the referee has to figure out how to ‘beat’ you just so the game can continue.

Wish for a great big beard of iron twine that will protect you from oncoming attacks. Wish that every creature you encounter will view you as a member of its own race. Wish you could punch with the force of a battering ram. Wish that no blade could ever touch you. Wish to be able to see in every environment as though it were a brightly lit room. There’s a universe of cool possibilities.

Anyway, that’s Djinn Kin. I’ve had this idea on my mind for ages now, and wanted to share it with you. But there’s really not much to say about the thing. It’s a class that gets wishes ever level. So you also got a little rant about the proper use of the Wish spell, plus some specially commissioned art from my brother Ronnie Whelan, and the post still clocks it at under 500 words.

LotFP Class: The Windmaster

Hair blowing in the windA Windmaster is the master of the wind. They live in humble, isolated huts atop hills or by the side of the sea. Many are revered by local communities, which send gifts of food and companionship in exchange for the good will of these mysterious hermits.

Windmasters have a d8 hit die, and advance in experience as dwarfs. They save as Elves, except their save versus Breath, which advances as a halfling’s does. The physical art of wind mastery is a wild dance of constant motion, and so requires that a Windmaster wear light, loose clothing.  Often they wear only an oversize vest and a loincloth. All Windmasters have free flowing metal-hair.

In enclosed spaces, the Windmaster may use their own breath to power their wind shaping techniques. However, any dice rolled  are rolled twice, and the result less advantageous for the Windmaster is taken. Likewise, in particularly windswept areas, two dice are rolled and the more advantageous result is taken.

At first level, the Windmaster rolls 2 random wind shaping techniques from the low level table. At each subsequent level, the player gains a new technique. These are randomly determined from the low level chart until level 5, after which they may opt either to roll a technique from the high level chart, or pick a technique of their choosing from the low level chart.

Unless otherwise stated, a wind technique requires a single round to perform. There are no limits on the number of times a Windmaster may use their techniques each day.

Levels 1-4

  1. Blinding Spray: A wave of wind strikes the ground at an oblique angle, causing a spray of detritus to fly up into the air. Anyone standing in its path should save versus Breath or be blinded for 1 round.
  2. Wind Punch: Fist-sized pockets of air become suddenly high pressure, and expand outward rapidly in the desired direction. This allows the Windmaster to make unarmed attacks against anyone within their line of sight.
  3. Disarming Gust: A sudden breeze strikes a held object from the most unbalanced direction. The wielder must save versus breath or drop the object.
  4. Great Leap: Propelling themselves with the wind, the Windmaster can leap as high as 40′ up and 120′ forward in a single bound.
  5. Breath Bubble: Forms a sphere of air around the head of one person per level. This air lasts for 10 minutes before it must be replenished.
  6. Carried Message: So long as the Windmaster remains in meditation, they may perfectly guide the travel of any object light enough to feasibly be carried by a breeze. A feather, a leaf, a scrap of paper. They do not see through the object, but they know if it’s stopped, and if it reaches its destination. Objects sent in this way travel 60 miles per hour.
  7. Redirect Projectile: For every three levels, the Windmaster may guide one projectile per round. Either causing them to miss their target, or granting a +1d6 to their attack roll to hit their target.
  8. Unbalancing Blast: A sudden gust of wind strong enough cause a human target to stumble. Target takes a -3 on saving throws and attack rolls this round.

Level 5+

  1. Navigator: The Windmaster can fill the sails of a ship by bending the wind from whichever direction it is normally going. This allows the ship to travel at sailing speed regardless of the wind’s direction. Alternatively, if the wind is already favorable, using this ability increases the ship’s speed by 50%.
  2. Steal Breath: The Windmaster takes hold of the air around a person’s nose and mouth, either preventing it from entering their body, or forcing it into their body. The target may save versus Breath to resist. On failure they must make a constitution check with a mounting -3 cumulative penalty each round to avoid passing out. So long as they are conscious, they may only take a half action (move or attack). If they move out of the Windmaster’s range, the effect ends.
  3. Flight: The Windmaster gains the power of flight at will, moving at their normal move speed. If the Windmaster already has “Great Leap,” gaining Flight allows them to manipulate the wind to allow one willing target to make a Great Leap per round.
  4. Become Wind: For a number of turns equal to their level, the Windmaster becomes a gust of wind. They are invisible, invulnerable, and travel at 60mph. They may not use any of their other techniques in this state, but their movements have a force roughly equivalent to a strong gust of wind on a blustery day. Forcing themselves out of their physical form is exhausting work, and they require a full night’s rest after using up their daily allotment.
  5. Wind Assisted Movement: In combat, The Windmaster’s every dodge and jab is subtly assisted by gusts of wind. They gain a permanent +2 to their AC and attack rolls, and their unarmed attacks use a damage die 1 step higher up the chain. (1d4 becomes 1d6, 1d6 becomes 1d8, etc)
  6. Tidal Wave: In a ritual requiring at least 30 minutes of dancing, the Windmaster summons winds sufficient to create a tidal wave. The wave’s height is equal to the Windmaster’s level multiplied by 30′. Obviously, a body of water is required for this spell to work.
  7. Knockback: The Windmaster uses an intense blast of air to push their target 40′ in a given direction. If the target hits anything, they take fall damage equal to 1d6 for every 10′ they didn’t travel out of the full 40′.
  8. Tornado Trap: A buffeting cylinder of wind surrounds a target. Any movement they try to take is countered by the wind, knocking their legs and arms about and preventing them from acting. The target is entitled to a save versus Breath to leap out of the tornado before it becomes too powerful to resist, otherwise they are trapped until the Windmaster releases them.
  9. Befriend Air Elemental: The Windmaster develops a close friendship with an Air Elemental, which will be happy to adventure alongside the Windmaster as a henchperson. It does not mind being put in danger, since being destroyed will merely send it back to its home plane. Not too bad a price to pay for helping such a good friend! If the elemental is sent home, it will take 1d6 months for the Windmaster to befriend another.
  10. Push to Safety: If any of the Windmaster’s companions fails a save versus Breath, the Windmaster can also make a save. If they succeed, they’re quick enough to summon a gust of wind to push their companion to safety, essentially passing their save for them.

LotFP Class: The Spy

The SpyAs long as there has been humans, there has been distrust. And as long as there has been distrust, people have resorted to spying on one another to find out what’s really going on. When humans built their kingdoms and empires, spying became an art practiced at a high level by a dedicated few. Steeped in the depths of human distrust and deceit, these truth-finders ironically gained a reputation for being untrustworthy. Captured spies are not afforded the dignity of captured soldiers, and spies who learn too much are easily disposed of by nervous masters. Knowing when to abandon your post and strike out on your own is perhaps the spy’s most important skill.

Spies are a sort of non-magical divination class. They advance as Specialists in most respects. Their hit dice, saves, and experience progression is identical.

They have two skills, Listen and Stealth. Both of these begin with a 2-in-6 chance, and advance by 1 each level, reaching the full 6-in-6 chance at level 5. Stealth works as normal, but savvy readers might note that LotFP does not have a listen skill. Particularly dedicated readers may even recall that I have a personal distaste for the skill myself. The skill possessed here by the Spy is a kind of “Super Listen.”

The spy presses their ear to the floor, or wall, and does not need to make any stealth checks that this activity might normally call for. If the check succeeds, the referee must give them some piece of information about their environment. The referee is free to give them any information seems relevant. However, if no information comes to mind, this table may be useful:

  1. Roll a monster from your encounter table. The spy hears this creature some distance away, allowing them either to avoid it, or gain a bonus in attempting to surprise it. This creature is the next random encounter the players would have faced, and if they avoid or kill it, then the next time the encounter die indicates that a monster should be rolled, don’t. That monster was already dealt with. This remains true even if you don’t roll an encounter until the players are in a vastly different place at a different time. Dealing with a monster in this way is a sort of “get out of one encounter free” card.
  2. The Spy identifies the location of a nearby trap by hearing the clicking of gears, the straining of wood, or the subtle wobbling of a loose pressure plate. They know precisely where the trap is located and how to activate it, but do not necessarily know how to avoid it or deactivate it.
  3. Something, somewhere brushes against a piece of treasure. Perhaps a rat, or just a gust of wind. There is a barely audible clink of precious metal on precious metal. Even if it’s just a handful of copper coins, the Spy knows precisely where to find it. They don’t necessarily know how to get there, or how to access it.
  4. With listening skills so refined they approach echolocation, the spy is able to determine the layout of the nearest unexplored room. It should be described to them as though it were brightly lit, and they were standing in the center of it. Color may be omitted if the referee thinks it is relevant to do so.
  5. With a less focused variation of the same echolocation-like ability described above, the spy gains knowledge of the layout of the surrounding area. The referee should sketch a rough map of the corridors, rooms, stairways, and doors nearby. Out to a roughly 300′ radius.
  6. The spy overhears someone speaking. What they’re talking about is completely unrelated to anything the players are currently doing, but it sounds as though it might be worth a look…

In addition to their two skills, Spies have two other notable abilities: Scout, and Disguise.

Disguise: If the spy is being pursued, and they manage to get out of sight of their pursuer, then they can disguise themselves. Doing so requires that they remain out of sight for a full round as they frantically modify their appearance using whatever is handy. If there is time, they may also attempt to disguise any companions who might be fleeing with them. Each companion requires 2 rounds of attention to be fully disguised. Once the job is done, disguised characters can wander out of hiding without being noticed at all. Any prolonged interaction with their pursuer will cause the disguise to fail, but it will otherwise stand up to casual inspection.

Disguise has no effect against pursuers who track primarily by scent. Nor will it prevent a creature who attacks all living things from attacking this ‘new’ living thing, simply because they don’t recognize it. Disguise is effective enough to fool pursuers in unpopulated environments. If the Spy is fleeing from a band of orcs in a dungeon corridor, they won’t see through the disguise simply because there’s no one else around.

Scout: By spending 8 hours away from the party, the Spy can find out a lot that they’d never have learned while burdened by their less subtle companions. Due to the time required, scouting may require the Spy to sacrifice some sleep. Additionally, scouting must be done as part of play, rather than between sessions.

When a Spy returns from scouting, they may opt either to ask the referee 3 yes-or-no questions, or ask a single question with a full sentence as an answer. The spy is entitled to ask anything they like, and they are entitled to the truth.

The referee should strive to provide good, useful information after a scouting run. Yes-or-no questions should never be answered with ‘maybe.’ Full-sentence questions should be answered with information that would not otherwise have been available at this point in the game. Scouting should not be used as a vehicle to deliver quest hooks players would have gotten anyway. For example, if a Spy asks “How do we kill the Gigalich?” telling them “Gregory the Wise Man knows” would probably be a bad answer. That’s the sort of information any player would be able to find out if they went into town and asked the tavern keeper. It wouldn’t require 8 hours, or the expertise of a professional Spy.

A better answer might be the exact location of the Lich’s phylactery. They’ll still need to adventure to reach the phylactery, and may even need to adventure still further to destroy it after it’s found. Another good option would be to provide them with red herring information in conjunction with the real information. The Spy might learn that the Gigalich is weak against either fire, water, or stale baguettes. Under no circumstances should you lie to your players, but there’s no problem with obfuscating the truth.

In rare circumstances, the referee might tell a player that they should ask a different question. This should be resorted to only in the rarest circumstance, as it devalues the player’s choice of class. However, if the player is being a twat, asking increasingly specific, contract-with-the-devil style questions, it may be warranted. It may also be called for if the player persists along a single line of questioning with repeated scouting. There is a limit to how much can be learned about a single subject. If the Gigalich is weak against either fire, water, or stale baguettes, then that is what is known. The Spy can’t narrow it down by scouting again to ask a yes-or-no question about each of those possibilities.

(Thanks to master diviner Mad Bill Danger for sharing expertise. )

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