d100 Magic Words: Body Parts & Simple Actions

Trampier - A Wizard casting a Web spellTwo more d100 lists of Magic Words! If you’re not familiar with what’s happening here, check out the posts in the Magic Word category, probably starting with the basic system outline.

“Body Parts” is pretty self explanatory. It’s a list of words that name parts of the bodies of living creatures. “Simple Actions” is stuff you can do with just your body, or at most very minimal tools.

If anybody else is actually using the system, by the by, I’d be fascinated to know what magic words are active in your game, and what spells your players have crafted. Email me!

d100 Body Parts

  1. Antennae
  2. Antler
  3. Appendage
  4. Appendix
  5. Arm
  6. Artery
  7. Back
  8. Beak
  9. Beard
  10. Belly
  11. Bladder
  12. Blood
  13. Bone
  14. Brain
  15. Breast
  16. Carapace
  17. Claw
  18. Cloaca
  19. Digestion
  20. Ear
  21. Egg
  22. Elbow
  23. Exoskeleton
  24. Eye
  25. Fang
  26. Fat
  27. Feather
  28. Fin
  29. Finger
  30. Fist
  31. Flesh
  32. Foot
  33. Fur
  34. Gentiles
  35. Gill
  36. Gland
  37. Hair
  38. Hand
  39. Heart
  40. Heel
  41. Hips
  42. Hoof
  43. Horn
  44. Intestine
  45. Iris
  46. Jaw
  47. Joint
  48. Knee
  49. Knuckle
  50. Leg
  51. Lips
  52. Liver
  53. Lung
  54. Mane
  55. Mouth
  56. Mucus
  57. Muscle
  58. Nails
  59. Navel
  60. Neck
  61. Nerve
  62. Nipple
  63. Nose
  64. Organ
  65. Orifice
  66. Palm
  67. Phallus
  68. Pheromones
  69. Pores
  70. Proboscis
  71. Quill
  72. Rectum
  73. Rib
  74. Scale
  75. Shell
  76. Skeleton
  77. Skin
  78. Skull
  79. Soul
  80. Sphincter
  81. Spine
  82. Sting
  83. Sucker
  84. Sweat
  85. Tail
  86. Talon
  87. Teeth
  88. Tendril
  89. Tentacle
  90. Throat
  91. Toe
  92. Tongue
  93. Tusk
  94. Uterus
  95. Vagina
  96. Vein
  97. Web
  98. Whisker
  99. Wing
  100. Wrist

d100 Simple Actions

  1. Ask
  2. Attack
  3. Awaken
  4. Belch
  5. Bellow
  6. Bite
  7. Blink
  8. Blow
  9. Breathe
  10. Build
  11. Carry
  12. Clap
  13. Comb
  14. Come
  15. Contemplate
  16. Cough
  17. Crawl
  18. Crouch
  19. Cry
  20. Dance
  21. Defend
  22. Dig
  23. Draw
  24. Drink
  25. Eat
  26. Excrete
  27. Exercise
  28. Fart
  29. Flap
  30. Flee
  31. Flex
  32. Flick
  33. Frown
  34. Give
  35. Glare
  36. Go
  37. Grind
  38. Grip
  39. Hear
  40. Hold
  41. Hug
  42. Jump
  43. Kick
  44. Kiss
  45. Laugh
  46. Lean
  47. Leap
  48. Learn
  49. Lick
  50. Lift
  51. Look
  52. Make
  53. Move
  54. Pat
  55. Play
  56. Point
  57. Pound
  58. Pull
  59. Punch
  60. Push
  61. Reach
  62. Read
  63. Recoil
  64. Release
  65. Rub
  66. Run
  67. Say
  68. Scratch
  69. Shake
  70. Sit
  71. Slap
  72. Sleep
  73. Slither
  74. Smile
  75. Snap
  76. Sneeze
  77. Speak
  78. Spin
  79. Spit
  80. Squeeze
  81. Stack
  82. Stand
  83. Stare
  84. Step
  85. Stomp
  86. Strain
  87. Stretch
  88. Strike
  89. Stroke
  90. Swallow
  91. Swing
  92. Tap
  93. Tear
  94. Think
  95. Touch
  96. Use
  97. Walk
  98. Wave
  99. Wiggle
  100. Write

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.

Making Languages Relevant

Loading Ready Run ForeverDoes anybody actually use language mechanics? I suppose there must be some not-insignificant number of people who do. There wouldn’t be so many games that include languages if nobody was using them. But the people using them sure aren’t playing with me. I can’t recall the last time I encountered an NPC who only spoke some specific non-common language. Occasionally I’ve encountered non-common inscriptions or writings. Usually, though, those seem to be intended as set dressing, rather than as something meant to have an impact on the game. That’s a poor justification for having a language skill.

It makes sense. Both why we have languages in the game, and why nobody uses them. Language barriers are intrinsic to the sort of genre fiction a lot of us have in mind when we play D&D. But games and fiction are different things. In a game sense, language barriers don’t work out to be very fun for anybody.

For players, encountering a language you don’t know generally means you’re going to miss out on information that is helpful, but not strictly necessary to move forward. You could waste time finding a translator, or you could waste a spell slot carrying around “Comprehend Languages,” but usually there’s an easier way around the problem.

For the referee, why bother doing anything in any language other than common? If your players do speak Elvish, then the only benefits from adding anything Elvish to the game are:
1. Atmosphere, and
2. to validate the usefulness of speaking Elvish.
On the flip side of things, if none of your players speak Elvish, you’ve either got to put work into making something interesting that they’ll probably never see, or you’ve got to validate their apathy by making something trivial.

None of which is to say that languages can’t work in their current form. I realize that the above criticisms are an oversimplification. But I do think it’s a reasonable assessment of how languages work in practice. So instead of modifying the way we play to accommodate the rules system, I thought I’d take a shot at modifying the rules system to accommodate the way we (I?) play. I have two proposals.

The first is to divide languages into two groups. There are the languages of the common folk, and the languages of the uncommon folk.

Common folk are any species that has a widespread, peaceful presence in the game world. In a standard fantasy setting that’d be stuff like elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, humans, and so on. Every single member of all of these races speak Common. There will never be any language barrier to talking with them. However, everybody prefers to speak in their native languages when possible. If you meet a dwarf, and you speak to them in the dwarf tongue, it will be taken as a sign of respect. Speaking to a member of a common race that is not your own in their native tongue grants a +1 bonus on reaction rolls and social actions.

The uncommon folk are the sorts of things that aren’t part of normal society. The creatures your players don’t normally talk to. Oozes, Dragons, Beholders, Orcs, Goblins, etc. These creatures only speak their native tongues. So if you want to parley with them, you’ll need to speak it as well.

Using this system, knowing a commonplace language grants the player a significant, logical benefit, without requiring that the referee change the way they prepare their game in the slightest. Meanwhile, knowing an uncommon language ‘unlocks’ the ability to speak with a whole group of monsters. There’s no need to make an individual orc particularly interesting to make knowing Orcish worthwhile. The very fact that you can talk to any orc ever at all is the interesting thing.

Alternatively, language could be used as a kind of fence. A way to keep your players penned into an easy to manage area without being too heavy handed. After all, this is pretty much how language works in the real world.

Ya see, here they speak English. You can undersatand what everybody is saying. Because of that, you can function effectively in this part of the world. If you go too far to the east, then everybody will speak French. You don’t speak French, so you won’t be able to understand anybody in that area. You can go there if you want, but it’s unlikely anybody will want to hire you, and even if they do you’ll have a hard time understanding what they want. Probably easiest just to stay within these English-speaking hexes here.

If you were to use language this way you’d probably want to alter the language system to be more limited. I’d start players off speaking only their native language. They could spend X amount of time and gold to learn a new language, thus allowing them to go to a territory which speaks that language without difficulty. (Not to mention giving me some lead-time to prepare interesting stuff to go there).


d100 Objects of Moderate Value

Wooden Elephant StatuetteWe already know that coins are boring treasure. I mean, a sack of gold is fine now and again, but in general, treasure is a lot cooler when it’s some kind of valuable object.

I’ve got this bad habit, though. Anytime I go to make a treasure object, I make something of phenomenal quality. An item whose manufacture exceeds what ought to be possible with the technology available in my game world. It’s fun to let your imagination run wild, and describe solid gold cat statue of perfect lifelike quality. But when you go wild describing an object, you’ve got to give it an impressive value in coins to match. And before you know it you’ve unbalanced your game’s economy again.

It’s more interesting if treasure is down to earth. Something the player can expect to earn a few hundred coin for; but not the lost opus of some ancient master craftsperson. In the end it just makes sense if most valuable objects are a little bit mundane.

  1. An unfinished painting comissioned for a duchess who died before it could be completed. The painting is only a little more than half done.
  2. A tribal mask from a far off land, carved from a single piece of wood.
  3. A brass tree, with many twisting branches of thick wire. Tree is flat, meant to hang on a wall.
  4. An ancient clay vase, cracked down the side. Was clearly decorated at one time, but most of the paint has chipped off.
  5. A 4′ picture frame of mahogany, inlained with pearls at each corner. No picture inside of it.
  6. An intact piece of old correspondence which sheds some light on a minor historical mystery.
  7. An erotic candelabra depicting a nude woman with her back arched, and her breasts pointing straight up. A pair of candles can be mounted where her areola ought to be.
  8. The embroidered green vestments a priest might wear on special holy days.
  9. An erotic sundial depicting a man reclining, with a large erection casting a shadow on the disc.
  10. A jewlery box of birch, with braided steel trim. The box is empty.
  11. A fine wood chalice with gold inlaid on the interior of the cup. Religious symbols are carved into the base.
  12. A steel monstrance with eight rays radiating from the center. The hinge is rusted shut.
  13. An oversized stein, large enough that it would be difficult to lift safely to your lips with one hand. Decorated with art of men on horseback hunting a boar.
  14. A small ivory bust depicting a veiled woman on one side, and a skeleton on the other.
  15. A silver hairbrush, decorated with spiral ivy patterns. Most of the bristles are missing.
  16. A jade comb with a simple spiral pattern at the center. Has one missing tooth.
  17. Steel thinning-shears with a gold handle.
  18. A steel hand mirror with a handle shaped to look like an angel. The angels wings rise up on either side to frame the glass, their points meeting at the top. The glass is cracked, but usable.
  19. A decorative dagger sheath, with silver inlays, and spiral patterns imprinted into the leather.
  20. A decorative longsword scabbard, dyed blue with a crisscrossing lattice of gold thread binding it.
  21. A single tile, clearly meant to be one of many. It depicts a castle tower, with a guard standing on it. The side of a tree is also visible. The art is superb.
  22. A stack of decorative tiles, decorated with swirling blue patterns. A few are cracked, but most are in perfect condition.
  23. An oversized, ornamental key made of tin. Clearly meant as a trophy, rather than as a functional key.
  24. A steel chamberpot. It has been embossed to look like the head of some villainous person or other in caricature. It’s unlikely you’d be able to find anyone who was familiar with the person depicted, and it’s probably the result of some personal grudge.
  25. A lyre, carved with small depictions of birds along the left side of it.
  26. A birdcage of brass wire, twisted to look similar to wood. An occasional brass leaf protrudes from the wire.
  27. A cross made of several woods, which have been polished and pressed together.
  28. A marble bust of Virgil.
  29. A woodcarving of a bear with a sword in its mouth. Meant to hang on a wall.
  30. A distinct warbanner, colored green with two strikes of yellow and one of black. This is one of many once used by a famous army of conquest, which many of the player’s grandparents likely fought with, or against.
  31. A 1′ by 8″ portrait of a woman, perhaps a merchant’s wife. It is painted with skill, but the subject is of no great significance.
  32. A bronze elephant, raising its trunk into the air. It is hollow, and made with no great skill, but still attractive.
  33. A clay circle inlaid with a variety of smooth stones. The stones form a simple spiral, with larger stones towards the center. The item has no obvious function.
  34. A ceramic pitcher, painted tan and brown, and adorned with a simple painting depicting the coronation of a king.
  35. A wooden statuette of a ram, about 1.5′ long. It’s light weight, and painted to more closely resemble the animal.
  36. A single arm, broken off of a lovely chandelier. Brass, plated with gold, decorated with a dangling chain of crystal from the tip.
  37. An artist’s sketchbook. The artist is signed “H.G.,” and doesn’t conform to any widely known style. But some of the pieces are quite good.
  38. A parish bible, complete with painted scenes, fancy lettering, and gilded pages.
  39. An unpublished Hymn, written in the handwriting of a moderately well known composer of hymns from 60 years ago.
  40. A lost manuscript written by Catherine Parr, titled “The Lamentations of a Gleeful Sinner.” Apparently an early draft of her later published work.
  41. An ancient game. There’s a block of wood with six peg holes in a circle, one peg carved from ivory, and four dice, each of which is painted with a skull on a single side. Evidently there are some missing pieces.
  42. A lantern with small paintings of birds on the glass. When lit, these birds appear as shadows on the walls.
  43. A recipe for preparing halibut with cabbage, sugar, and pigs feet. A note, scrawled at the bottom like a signature, reads “Fit for a king!”
  44. A bronze sphere of exceeding smoothness. It is remarkable in just how perfectly spherical it is.
  45. A leather scroll, on which is printed an ancient formulation of a mathematical proof. A proof which was lost, and only rediscovered a dozen or so years prior to now.
  46. A leather satchel with gold-colored silk inlays, a silver tie cord, and an intricate braid pattern pyrographed around the outside.
  47. A marble head. The neck is jagged, and was clearly broken off of a larger statue. Knowledgeable players may recognize the head as being a depiction of a man whose memory was banned 150 years ago. While the law is still technically on the books, no one takes it seriously anymore.
  48. A richly appointed pair of trousers. Dyed black, with a pair of gold braided cords down the right leg, and a single red braided cord down the left leg.
  49. A neck chain with thick, heavy links. Mounted on the chain is a large cross of polished mahogany.
  50. A hanging wooden sign for the Cobbler’s Knee Pub, stolen long ago from the establishment where an infamous assassination took place, setting off a decade long war.
  51. A refracted glass cylinder with small wooden birds and cotton clouds within it. As you walk around it, the refraction of the glass make it appear to contain gently drifting clouds.
  52. A belt buckle depicting a cheerful dog. The belt coming through the buckle would look like the dog’s tongue.
  53. A pair of ceramic hands mounted to a base. Between the fingers is a silver thread, held in an elaborate string-figure pattern.
  54. A chunk of marble from what was once a beautiful statue. It depicts a hand grasping some piece of flesh. The way the fingers indent the flesh shows exceedingly superb craftsmanship.
  55. A housecat-sized statue of an ant, made from tin. The statue is mounted on a cedar base, and has pearls for eyes.
  56. A key, the handle of which depicts a blacksmith swinging two hammers. The shaft and teeth of the key depict the haft and head of the hammers.
  57. A censer shaped to resemble a funeral pyre. The ‘body’ can be raised to fill the container with incense, and the smoke rises from slats between the ‘wood’.
  58. A small collection of 2d6 pewter figures of knights in armor, shown  in different battle postures.
  59. A glass bottle with a tiny cottage built inside of it. There is dirt, and fake grass. The cottage is simple, of the sort that people lived in a few hundred years ago.
  60. A bit of silver shaped to look exactly like an acorn. Exactly.
  61. A fragment of a tablet. Something is written on it in a pictograph language. The language is known, but has never yet been translated.
  62. A coin purse filled with false teeth. There are ivory, wood, steel, silver, and gold teeth. Several of each.
  63. A ceramic statue of a horse, about 4′ tall. It is crudely shaped, limited by the artistic expertise of an earlier era, but that history lends it a sense of gravitas.
  64. A fine box with a silver clasp and velvet lining. The box contains a crystal inkwell, a small knife meant for cutting quills, and a small book detailing the best way to pick and to cut quills.
  65. The nameplate of a ship. Players with any knowledge of history may recognize the ship’s name as being among 77 that were sunk during a great battle some 25 years ago.
  66. A simple brick mounted on a plaque. The plate indicates that this brick was once part of a very famous building, demolished some 43 years ago.
  67. A sword, rusted into complete uselessness. Notably, the design of the sword is one that has not been common for some 500+ years. Despite it’s condition, it is a valuable antique.
  68. A wooden box filled with carefully organized tools of good quality–drills, a hammer, files, and the like. These are a set of carpenter’s tools for a true craftsman. The sort of set that would be purchased once, and used throughout their whole lives, then be passed on to their children.
  69. A ceramic teapot of great delicacy, with a meadow scene painted on the side of it.
  70. A clay tablet with the cycles of the moon etched into it. Beneath that is a depiction of a lunar calendar plotted out for several hundred years. The last year plotted was 18 years prior.
  71. A glasswork lightning bolt, tinted a metallic sort of yellow. The bolt is fused to a clear, flat base, also made of glass.
  72. A chamber pot with a primitive depiction of pooping kings all around the outside of it.
  73. A steel bell embossed with images of clumsy stupid servants running around, failing to perform their duties competently.
  74. A milking stool of unusual quality. It has a padded seat, gold tassels, and ornately carved legs resembling praying cows.
  75. A birdcage of delicate reeds, arranged with perfection.
  76. A quilt large enough to cover any bed the players have ever seen three times over. Each patch is completely unique, and depicts some scene from rural life.
  77. A heavy steel lock. In inscription, in Latin, warns thieves to stay away or be struck down by Mars.
  78. A crude fasces. Several of the rods are cracked at the base, but it is otherwise in good condition.
  79. A blue Mitre, with knee-length tassels dangling from either side, and an embroidered white sun on the front.
  80. A single chess pawn. It obviously comes from what would have been an amazingly ornate chess set. Even this single small piece is crafted in bronze, affixed with a wireframe soldier on one side, and capped with a large pearl.
  81. A pair of manacles ill-suited to restraint. The links are loops of silk, and the cuffs themselves are polished wood, padded with cloth on the inside, and closed with leather straps.
  82. A roll of cloth containing a collection of 33 stone knives. The knives range from apparently very old and dull, to relatively recent and sharp.
  83. A phallus of leather and clay, with a wooden core. Stitched to perfection.
  84. An arrow of red, with peacock-feather fetching, and a heart-shaped ruby tip. Obviously non-functional.
  85. A large glass jug, sealed with a cork. Within is a functioning miniature biome, complete with dirt, plants, and a moisture cycle.
  86. A cylindrical steel container, shaped like a tiny angry man. The top of his head can be pulled off to open the container.
  87. A paintbrush with a jade handle, encircled with a braid pattern. The bristles are horse hair.
  88. A life-size statue of a woman, which appears to be made of stone. It’s crudely done, but notable in that it is remarkably light. Perhaps enchanted in some way, or made of some unknown material. It can easily be carried by a single person, though it is still oversize and awkward to hold.
  89. A handwritten & illustrated book describing some 350 fictional monsters. The disturbed ravings of a madman, but none the less an item of intense curiosity to the right buyer.
  90. A dogwhistle shaped like a running dog,
  91. A false nose, made of ivory, and held to the face by two leather straps that go around behind the head.
  92. A barometer, along with a leather-bound book written by an unknown German woman who experimented extensively with the strange device she inadvertently invented.
  93. A taxidermy mouse with tiny diamonds for eyes.
  94. A freestanding suit of plate armor, 3′ tall, with human proportions.
  95. A set of table silverware. Each spoon, fork, and knife has a tiny human face carved into the pommel. Each face is unique, and they display a range of emotions.
  96. A Grecian wine bowl, with pornographic images at the bottom. When you tilt the bowl back to drink, you also get to see dicks and tits!
  97.  A reproduction of a famous piece of art. It’s not really convincing enough to fool any but the completely uncultured.
  98. A map made by an ancient people of a now well-populated area. The map is crude, but has historical value.
  99. A sadomasochistic erotic novel written by Isabella of Castile
  100. A star chart on a roll of leather. Clearly made by a people who did not need to use leather, but chose to for ceremonial reasons.

I Hate Choice

X-COM Second Wave Select ScreenA long time ago I wrote a series called “Pathfinder Class Analysis.” Basically, I would read over an individual Pathfinder class, then I’d write outlandish blog posts about what I would do differently if I were the one designing it. At the time I probably would have said I was criticizing Pathfinder because I loved it and wanted to see it improve. In retrospect, the whole series was kind of my parting shot at the whole 3.X family of systems. I had already started to play in OSR games at that point, and was enjoying the hobby more than I ever had before. It wasn’t too much later that I stopped writing about Pathfinder entirely.

But in many ways, Papers & Pencils is still much more popular as a Pathfinder website than it is as an OSR one. The Class Analysis posts in particular draw a lot of traffic, and produce a lot of comments. Some are surprisingly positive, but nearly all of them posit some serious disagreement . The most consistent criticism is directed at my frequent assertion that some class choices ought to be made randomly, rather than left to the player’s discretion.

It’s a belief I’ve only doubled down on. Many of the classes I’ve drafted for you this year have randomized powers, The Windmaster and The Slasher are two examples that come immediately to mind. I love randomized class options, but a lot of folks seem to think that’s a pretty weird thing to love. So lets dig into just why I love them.

There are two arguments I find compelling in favor of randomizing character options. The first is an argument against choice, the second is an argument for randomization.

Choice is good. But like all things, it’s only good in moderation. The human brain is really only capable of weighing so many options before it reaches a point of choice paralysis. This is doubly true when the effects of those options aren’t readily apparent. If you’re trying to learn a new game, you can’t know if +1 to your Blamf is better than +1 to your Flumph.

Most players don’t enjoy creating their character. Oh, sure, there are some who do. They’re the sort of folks who go online to talk about their favorite games. The ones who just can’t get enough D&D. They get together on forums or subreddits and it’s easy to assume they represent the entire player base for tabletop games. But I don’t think I’ve ever met one of those people outside the Internet.

Every player I’ve ever played with in real life just wants to play the game. Every choice the character creation process gives them is an extra step they have to take before they get to do the thing they actually want to do. But they won’t rush the choice, because they don’t want to make a bad choice. So they agonize over options they don’t really understand, that are too numerous to be explained to them in any meaningful way. When they finally do choose, it’s more out of exasperation than anything else. Then they spend the next several months asking the referee “so…what does this do again?”

This is not because players are lazy. This is because complicated, choice-heavy character creation is only fun for a small minority of people. For everybody else, you might as well gate the fun behind tax forms.

None of this is to say that character creation should never include any choices. Far from it, I think a small number of options that can be made quickly and understood easily are a great way to make a player feel like their character is really their own. But many rules-heavy games labor under the false assumption that more choice is always better. Quite the contrary, too much choice is poison to fun.

Courtney Campbell is particularly adept striking a good balance with this. Many of his games fall on what I would call the rules-heavy side of the spectrum. But his character creation processes strictly control the number of choices a player is asked to make at first level. I wish I could talk more about his upcoming “Perdition” in this post, as it really exemplifies this design philosophy. I’ll have to settle for telling you to be excited for its upcoming release.

So that’s why I don’t like (excessive) choice. It’s a barrier that prevents new or casual players from enjoying the game. But what makes randomized options so appealing?

If there’s a list of 10 class options, and the player is allowed to pick whichever one they want, they’re going to try to pick the one that will give them the most success in the game. That’s a completely reasonable thing for them to do. It’s what I would do. Most likely 1-3 of those 10 options will seem obviously superior to the rest. It’s not that any of the options are bad, but no array of powers are all created equal. Not unless they’re painfully bland. (+1 to attack during the day, +1 to attack at night, +1 to attack underground, +1 to attack indoors, yawn.)

If, on the other hand, the player must roll a d10 to determine their power, then there’s a good chance they’ll end up with something they don’t have a good idea of how to use. It’s a perfectly functional ability, there’s nothing wrong with it. But it’s not what they would have picked, and now they need to figure out how to make the most of it. There is a true artistry and beauty in figuring out how to excel with the cards you’ve been dealt.

If you’ve got a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. And in a world full of nails, you might be inclined to pick the hammer every time. But what do you do when someone hands you a hacksaw instead? Maybe you cut the nail in half, maybe you cut the board that’s supporting the nail, or maybe you realize some of your problems were never nails in the first place.

In other words: you get creative.

Randomization breeds creativity in players. It forces them to be clever. To think. To explore options they never would have considered otherwise. That creativity is the kind of thing they’re going to be proud of, and tell stories about.

So that’s why I said the Sorcerer’s spells should be randomized in Pathfinder. It’s also why anyone playing a Slasher in my games wouldn’t get to pick their own quirk. Choices made during character creation are a slow, alienating, unnecessary process; and randomized character options elevate play to artistry.

Come at me, bruh.

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.

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Thoughts and theories on tabletop games.