Tag Archives: lamentations of the flame princess

Weird Cleric Magic: Oddities

Augustine of Hippo was kind of a douchebag

The Glory from God system as established before now stands perfectly well on its own. If the stuff that already exists is all you want to play with, that works great. But, if you’d like the magic to be a little more chaotic, you can play with these casting oddities, which add an element of risk and reward to players considering rolling more dice than they need to in order to cast a spell.

When dice are rolled to cast a spell, if any of those dice share the same face, the player must roll on the oddities table. Which number is showing doubles determines which of the tables below the player must roll on. Each set of doubles must be resolved, so if a player rolls 4 dice, and they roll two 3s and two 4s, then they must roll on both of those tables.

In the event that the player rolls triples, treat that as rolling two sets of doubles of the same number. So if a player rolls three 1s, they must roll on the 1s oddities table twice. They must likewise roll three times for quads, four times for a quintet, and so on.

There are essentially three types of oddities. Good things, bad things, and things which may be good, bad, or irrelevant depending on the specific situation in which they occur. The subtables for lower numbered doubles are weighted more in favor of bad things, and the subtables for higher numbered doubles are weighted in favor of good things.

It should be noted that the success or failure of a spell is determined before any dice are rolled on the oddities table. Nothing that happens on the oddities table can change the fact that the spell did or did not succeed. (Though it can lower or improve the spell’s efficacy if the spell did succeed).

Snake Eyes (Double 1s)

  1. You have made a deeply offensive error in your casting. Your god curses you. Roll a random curse.
  2. Your interference in this matter has come to the attention of a rival god. Your deity and this one are now struggling for influence over this place, and clerical magic from either one of them will be blocked until the contest is resolved. (1-in-6 chance each round. 50/50 chance whose god will win.)
  3. Though it may not be immediately apparent to the caster, their religious superior (currently deep in prayer) has been told by god that the cleric is a disappointment. In the coming weeks they will be called before this superior, and it will be demanded that some failing in their character be corrected.
  4. The caster briefly experiences a nirvana-like state in which they cease to exist. To others, it appears that they simply disappear. They reapper 1d4 rounds later, with no memory of what they experienced, save for a vague sense that they ultimately proved unworthy of some great gift.
  5. The caster’s appearance changes slightly, and permanently. Their nose gets a little wider, their hair changes color. They grow taller or shorter, thinner or fatter. In rare cases they may even change gender entirely. The specific alteration is decided on by the referee.
  6. A special zeal was noticed in your casting. The spell goes off as normal, and is 50% more effective than it ought to be.

Double 2s

  1. Your faith is shaken. Treat this spell as though it were one level higher for the purposes of determining which spell dice are lost.
  2. The caster realizes they have made an error, and must seek penance. (1. They must go without food for a week, suffering any penalties that entails. 2. They must self-flaggelate, dealing 1d3 damage, each morning for a week. 3. They must publicly announce their sin to their companions. All of their hirelings have their loyalty reduced by one. 4. They must spend one entire haven turn in prayer, undertaking no other activity. )
  3. The caster has been deceived! The prayer they just uttered was taught them by a demon, and is deeply offensive to god. They may not attempt to cast this spell again until they’ve spent a week in prayer learning the proper version of it.
  4. Everyone in a 30′ radius feels their hands twitch and spasm, and they drop anything they’re holding.
  5. All animals within 100′ of the caster stop whatever they’re doing and kneel down in reverence to the god whose presence they are in. They will accept no commands until a turn has passed.
  6. A nearby NPC who is neutrally or better disposed towards you is inspired by your faith. Your reaction with them increases by 1, and they want to learn about your god.

Double 3s

  1. The white hot fire of your god exceeds your own zeal. Your holy symbol becomes too hot to touch. You must either drop the holy symbol (and cannot cast until you recover it) or take 1d4 damage.
  2. The vulgar nature of your god has disgusted some NPC. Their reaction to you is lowered by one.
  3. A nearby source of water becomes holy water.
  4. Nearby plants flourish and grow into their most vibrant selves, or wither and die, whichever is more appropriate to indicate your god’s presence.
  5. Your god grants you a moment of foresight. You’re meant to step slightly to one side. Next round you have +2 AC, and if you are hit, the damage taken is halved.
  6. Guided by the wisdom of a saint, a random skill is raised to 6-in-6 until it is next used.

Double 4s

  1. You are struck blind for 1d6 turns.
  2. The caster begins speaking in tongues. They babble nonsense that occasionally brushes with religious themes at the top of their voice for the next hour, and cannot say anything else. This doesn’t prevent them from casting spells.
  3. Everything the caster says echoes loudly, as if they are speaking with a dozen voices at once. This lasts for 1d4 hours. During this time they are incapable of whispering.
  4. The cleric’s body appears to catch fire, but no harm is done to them. The fire is not hot and does not burn anything, but provides light equivalent to a large bonfire. The fire slowly dwindles to nothing over the course of 1 exploration turn.
  5. If the spell cast was beneficial, the wearer gains the mark of the god. Anyone who loves the cleric’s god will do that person favors for 1 month. Conversely, if the spell was harmful, the target gains the mark of the god inverted. Anyone who loves the god will shun this person, and pelt them with stones, for 1 month.
  6. A soft veil of light descends over the cleric’s allies. They all get a +1 benefit to whatever their next roll is.

Double 5s

  1. The power of the spell knocks you off of your feet and you land flat on your back.
  2. The target of a beneficial spell becomes notably more attractive. The target of a harmful spell becomes notably less attractive.
  3. The earth shakes with the casting of the spell, felt by people up to a mile away.
  4. Along with the spell, a bolt of lightning strikes down from the sky dealing 1d6 damage to whomever the caster wants. They are branded with some appropriate passage from the god’s holy words.
  5. The cleric is affected by the serenity of being so close to their god. Their next reaction roll gets a +1 bonus.
  6. Your faith is strengthened. Return a lost die to your pool, or add an extra one for the day if one has not yet been expended.

Boxcars (Double 6s)

  1. A lack of zeal has been noticed in your casting. The spell works as intended, but is only half as effective as it ought to be.
  2. All damage taken and dealt by anyone this round is halved.
  3. A flash of insight allows the cleric to ask the referee one yes-or-no question, and receive an honest answer. This must be done immediately, and cannot be saved for later.
  4. An angel of god comes down and participates in the combat for a single round. They’re astonishingly effective. No one sees it except the cleric, everyone else is just a little baffled as to why something completely unexpected just happened.
  5. The spell is considered one level lower for the purpose of determining which dice are removed from the dice pool.
  6. The spell goes off twice, affecting the intended target, as well as a second target indicated by the caster.

And that concludes my foray into tinkering with Clerical magic. At least until I’m able to test the system a bit, or have some new idea. I hope you enjoyed it! Next week, I’ll be presenting you with a piece I am immensely proud of: Better Magic Wands + d100 Magic Wands. This is easily one of the best things I’ve written in the last couple months, and I cannot wait to share it. If you’re interested, it’s already available on my advance feed for anyone who pledges $5/month to my Patreon campaign. Hint hint.

Magic Words Don’t Need No Spell Levels

Ritual MagicSpell levels. What are those about?

I maintained spell levels in the Magic Words system because I wanted to make the system as compatible as possible with existing spell lists. If you craft a 3rd level spell with the words “Fire” and “Ball,” I want that spell to function exactly as you thought it would. The point of Magic Words was never to get rid of the classic old spells. The classic old spells are great. I just wanted to encourage more magical creativity.

Almost immediately I recognized that spell levels were going to be the most complicated part of putting the system into practice. What really is the difference between a 3rd level spell and a 4th level spell? If I were to create a new spell of middling power, and asked you to assign a level to it, would you know right away what level it should have? I would have to think about it, compare it to spells on the core spell lists, and ultimately hazard a guess as to what level it ought to be. I wouldn’t even be very confident in my guess.

And I’ve already got years of experience with the D&D magic system to contextualize what the various spell levels mean. I have no idea how a newcomer would even begin trying to assign levels to newly created spells. It’s a system that basically requires the user to already be an expert before they even attempt to use it. That’s not inherently a bad thing, not everything needs to be accessible to newcomers. But if a game system isn’t going to be accessible, then I need a good justification for it. I need to be getting some cool benefit in exchange for the assumption of expert-level knowledge.

Delineating spells by level is hardly a cool benefit.

So Magic Words doesn’t use spell levels anymore. All spells exist on an equal footing, and could be learned by even a 1st level Magic User. Some spells might be better or worse than other spells, but that’s just magic. Not every spell is created equal, but that doesn’t mean the good spells require any greater ability to cast.

Removing spell levels does introduce some new problems for the Magic Words system which we gotta tackle.

  • If every spell is available at first level, then how do we prevent a high level Magic User from having a repertoire of weak, useless spells?
  • How would this system handle really powerful spells that are totally inappropriate for a first level character to have access to?
  • If we’re not using spell levels anymore, that means we’re not using the “Spells per level” chart which tells us how many spells a magic user can cast per day. So how many spells can a magic user cast per day?

Lets tackle each of those individually. There’s a TL;DR at the end.

How do we prevent a high level MU from having a repertoire of useless spells?

Taking our cues from the LotFP Playtest booklet, we just need to include more variables in spells that are dependent on caster level. So instead of a spell dealing 1d6 damage, perhaps it deals 1d6 damage per 2 caster levels. Tons of elements in a spell can be made variable: the time it takes to cast the spell, the duration of the spell, the range of the spell, the number of targets the spell effects.

Variable elements don’t need to be limited to numbers. Take, for example, a spell which causes people to become confused and choose the targets of their attacks at random. This spell could have a note that if the caster is above level 5, then the victim of the spell has double the normal chance of attacking their allies. As another example, the traditional spell “Invisibility” might automatically become “Greater Invisibility” if the caster is beyond a certain level.

Alternatively, some spells could function based on a difference in hit dice between the caster and the target. Consider a spell which causes the target to make a save, or die of a heart attack. If the spell only works on targets “With 3 or more fewer hit dice than the caster,” then the spell grows in power as the character levels. Simply by virtue of the fact that they will encounter more targets who fall within the spell’s description.

How do we handle spells too powerful for a first level character to have access to?

In my current campaign, my players hope to get a space ship one day. When they do, they want to place a time-dilation effect over the dead earth, and fast-forward its geological development to the point where it again becomes habitable. If I wanted to include this spell in my campaign, I don’t see a good way to make it variable. I suppose I could create really slow, really small time dilation bubbles that grow in both size and rate of acceleration. But that feels like unnecessarily shoehorning a cool idea into a limited system just for the sake of consistency.

Any number of spells might feel “too big” to allow easy access: summoning Godzilla, making a Wish, creating human life in your vats. These spells can be restricted by making them rituals, and rituals have all sorts of nutty requirements. So while the spell itself can be learned by a first level MU, actually casting it requires resources beyond the meager means of any first level character.

For example, lets take my world-scale time dilation bubble. The MU in my current campaign could, if they had the appropriate words, research that spell right now. But, if they want to cast it, they’ll need 3 months of continuous casting time, 300 virgin sacrifices, and 100,000 gold pieces worth of ceremonial accoutrements. Not to mention that some good guy somewhere might take umbrage to all that virgin sacrificing, and try to stop them.

Magic in my games tends toward inherently evil, or at least amoral. Magic Users proceed at their own risk, the referee cannot be held responsible for the loss of your soul.

How many spells can a Magic User cast per day?

I was stumped on this question for awhile. My first instinct was to check Wonder & Wickedness. Brendan’s spells are levelless, and designed to be compatible with the standard game. That’s the same thing I’m trying to do here! I figured he probably came up with a good way to resolve this.

According to W&W, Magic Users can cast a number of spells per day equal to their level. If they want, they can try to cast more than that, but they risk spell failure (more colorfully referred to as catastrophes in Brendan’s words). This struck me as all wrong. That’s way too few spells per level! It smacks of what I was talking about the other day when I introduced spell failure into the Magic Words system. It makes casting feel too punishing.

At this point I figured I’d hit a dead end. Time to innovate! I came up with some functional possibilities, but none of them were elegant. I was just getting frustrated when it struck me that I should reference the rules-as-written spells-per-level table to get a baseline idea of how many overall spells an MU of each level can cast. All I would have to do is convert all of the MU’s spell slots to first level, add them up, and see how their overall number of spell slots increased at each level.

At levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, a Magic User has…a number of spell slots equal to their level.

Apparently Brendan had the same idea I did.

After level 4, the rate of spell acquisition increases at a weirdly explosive rate. At levels 5 and 6 the MU has one more spell slot than they do levels. Every level after that, the gap widens by 1. At level 7 you have 2 slots more than your level, at level 8 you have 3 slots more than your level, at level 9 you have 4 more than your level, and at level 10 you have 5 more than your level.

This seems backwards to me. The game at low levels is a much more tightly designed experience. A big concern about higher level play is that the texture of the game gets lost beneath all of the player’s growing power and wealth. Many referees struggle to keep up with it, so why would the growth of spellcasting ability accelerate at higher levels?

Apparently Brendan’s solution is not so austere as it first seemed to me. Particularly when you take into account the option to cast beyond the strict limits of your ability at the risk of spell failure. So casters could prepare a number of spells per day equal to their level, and cast them without risk of failure. If they wish they can cast unprepared spells (or recast expended spells), but doing so risks spell failure.

I realize this is nothing more than a lengthy way of saying “I’m just gonna copy Wonder & Wickedness.” I considered saving you the time of reading this, and myself the time of writing it, by saying so up front. However, given my reaction to the W&W rule, I think the thought process that led me to adopting it is valuable. I doubt I’m the only person who saw “1 spell slot per level” and thought it was too restrictive to be fun.

TL;DR: What I’m changing about Magic Words.

  • Spells no longer have any spell levels associated with them. Every spell can be learned by a 1st level Magic User.
  • The majority of spells should have elements that are variable depending on the caster’s level, so that they become more powerful as the caster levels up.
  • Some particularly powerful spells can have ritual requirements that place them beyond the ability of most low level casters to actually perform.
  • Magic Users may prepare a number of spells per day equal to their level. These spells may be cast freely, without any risk of spell failure.
  • Casters may cast spells not currently prepared, or re-cast a prepared spell that has already been expended. Doing so risks spell failure.

Colorful Characters 27: Bric Shilic

This is honestly EXACTLY what I pictured Bric Shilic's cart looking like. Right down to the umbrella and the bicycle wheels.
This product photo is EXACTLY what I was picturing in my head when I first described Bric Shelic to my players. The only difference would be a whole lot more dents, dings, grime, and grease.

I never expected to write another Colorful Characters post, but here we are. There’s no way I could keep this fuckin’ guy to myself.

Bric Shilic is a parts vendor. Human parts. He meanders through the back alleys of large cities. The ones that the locals have learned to avoid. When he sees someone with a serious injury or disfigurement, he calls out to them with a practiced friendliness that seems at odds with his gravelly voice. He likes to say “An arm or a leg won’t cost you an arm and a leg!” It’s a witticism he’s proud of coming up with.

He speaks speaks with all the bluster, fast-talk, and suspicious confidence of a successful street vendor. All of it comes through a foreign accent so thick it’s sometimes too dense to penetrate, but you get what he’s saying by context. I went with a stereotypical middle eastern accent myself.

Also present is Bric Shilic’s cart, covered in dried blood and grease, buzzing with gnats and flies. Inside of it, Bric Shilic has one of everything, but only one. If you’re missing an eye, he has one eye, if you’re missing a thumb, he’s got one thumb, and if you’re missing 12′ of intestine, well he’s got 14′, but he’s willing to cut it down for you. Special deal.

His prices are:

1,000 money for any small, mostly cosmetic graft. Noses, fingers, ears, etc.
2,000 money for major grafts. Arms, hands, legs, eyes, genitals, etc.
3,000 money for anything that has to go inside of you. Livers, lungs, bones, etc.

There are usually little stories to go along with each piece. “Nose came from little boy. Die in terrible accident. Was hit by…stick. Stick wielded by bad man. Not Bric Shilic. You buy. You buy.”

For any parts that are not internal, the player should be given some idea of what they look like. After all, the character is lucky just to have found someone willing to sell them a right hand. Who are they to complain that the hand comes from someone of a different age, sex, or ethnicity? It will function just fine, of course. Bric Shilic does not sell shoddy merchandise. But if the character is gonna look like a frankenstein, they oughta know it.

Flip a coin to determine the sex of the person the donated part is from. Roll 1d8 – 1 to determine the decade of life the donor was in when the part was harvested. Parts have a 1-in-6 chance to match the recipient’s ethnicity, otherwise the skin is of a noticeably different color.

Parts are attached by using Bric Shilic’s body fluids as an adhesive. He’s sensitive about explaining why this works, but the results are undeniable. If you need a new nose, Bric Shilic just licks the back of it, then presses it against your face for a few seconds. The process burns a little, but when he removes his hand you’ll be able to sniff,sneeze, and smell with the best of them! Of course, installing internal parts is a little more of an involved process that will require Bric Shelic to shove his entire arm down your throat. He’ll ask some of your friends to hold you down if a procedure like that is necessary.

Bric Shilic is a 6th level Magic User. If attacked, he primarily uses spells like Hold Person and Sleep.

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.

Crafting as Jury Rigged Equipment

MacGyber Title cardGuys, guys guys, I’ve got an idea.

Crafting is cool, otherwise it wouldn’t be as persistent in gaming as it is. But cool as it is in theory, pretty much every implementation of it that I’ve ever encountered sucks. It seems like all of them are either an overpowered, overcomplicated mess, or they’re bland. This has literally been bothering me for almost 4 years now,  and my attempts to solve the problem represent some of the most rigorous game design I’ve attempted. But despite my best efforts, I’ve been stymied as to how to make crafting work in a way I could be happy with.

But this might be kinda cool:

Crafting is a skill, with advancement, and success/failure determined like any other skill. A player who wishes to use the craft skill must first determine the type of crafting they are trained in. Options include (but are not limited to): Blacksmith, Leatherworker, Clothier, Painter, Sculptor, Glassblower, Cook, Silver/Goldsmith, Carpenter, Stonemason, Toolmaker.

Characters who intend to use their skill should also add some amount of nondescript “raw materials” to their equipment list. Raw materials take up as much or as little encumbrance as the player wishes. The more they have on hand, the more use they will be able to get out of the skill. Materials should also cost some amount of money. Perhaps 100sp per point of encumbrance.

Whenever the player wants, they can declare that they’re attempting to create some item that falls within the purview of their chosen craft.  The referee then tells them how much encumbrance that item would take to carry. If they have an equal amount of raw materials, then they can make a skill check to attempt to craft the item they described. Succeed or fail, the attempt takes 3 turns, and the raw materials are used up.

Essentially, the craft skill becomes a sort of equipment “wildcard.” Lets say your profession is glassblower. You don’t need to bring a magnifying glass, and a lens, and a mirror, and a jar into the dungeon. You can just take a lump of raw materials, and create whatever you end up needing whenever you realize that you need it.

Obviously this system is an abstraction. Something perhaps better suited to a board or video game. On the other hand, the really neat thing about the system is the tactical infinity of it. Something that can really only exist in a TRPG.

If a character turning a lump of steel into a dagger without a forge or an anvil to work with bothers you, I totes get it. It kinda bothers me too. But consider: if the character DID have a forge and an anvil, that probably means they’re safe in town. And towns have shops, where daggers can easily be bought.

I’d still like to see a crafting system that works the way I’ve always imagined. Something that allows players to express their creativity, and provides real benefits without requiring an encyclopedia of rules. Maybe it’s about time I took another crack at writing a system like that. But as an option, this “Equipment Wildcard” system intrigues me.

LotFP Class: Bear in Disguise

Bear in DisguiseJust because you’re a bear, doesn’t mean anybody has to know it.

As any sophisticated, sensible ursine knows, humans are ill equipped to deal with our kind. They are not stupid, per se, but they have narrow definitions of intelligence, civilization, and even personhood. That we poop in the woods and prefer the taste of freshly caught fish to that of crushed weed-meal seems to the human an excellent argument for our lack of moral and intellectual agency. And yet they have done remarkable things, those humans, despite their well documented lack of soul. We must give credit where it is due.

A most notable attribute of humans is their adventurous sensibility. They have a true adventurer culture, something lacking in the lands of bears. Perhaps this is due to the greater number of problems in their communities which require extra-legal solutions. Whatever the reason, the adventurous lifestyle is an attractive one. It is therefore not uncommon for a young bear to travel among humans for a time. Of course, to avoid agitating the humans, it is necessary to employ disguise. But that is simple enough to accomplish, and need not be discussed in detail here.

The technique employed by a Bear in Disguise defies explanation. Very little actually changes about their appearance or mannerisms. They may wear a hat, or a suit of armor, but they do not alter their face to appear more human. They do not shave their fur. They do not use any illusory magic. Likewise, their vocal range is restricted to the same growls and roars of any bear. And yet somehow this disguise is almost completely impenetrable. Something about the way they carry themselves, or the way they modulate their voice, or something, makes a bear seem–in all respects–to be a human in good standing.

Which isn’t to say the disguise is perfect. For each NPC encountered, the referee should roll 1d20 to test that NPC’s perceptive abilities. On a roll of 20, that NPC sees the bear as they are, and will usually be understandably distressed by the presence of a ferocious wild animal. Others will likely think this perceptive individual is crazy. Though, if a particularly compelling argument is made, NPCs who failed their first perception check may be allowed another d20 roll. No NPC should ever get more than these 2 perception rolls, regardless of circumstance.

Further, only NPCs that can reasonably be said to be paying direct attention to the Bear in Disguise receive this roll. If the bear is walking down a crowded street, there is no need to roll a check for each individual on that street. Only the vendors who target the group would need to be rolled. Although, if the bear were the center of attention (say, the guest of honor at a banquet), that would require a large number of checks. Use your best judgement to determine who is paying attention to the bear, and who merely casts a casual glance in their direction.

In any circumstance, the true nature of a Bear in Disguise is never known to their own companions. The other PCs are all assumed to have failed their checks, otherwise they would never have been chosen as companions in the first place!

A Bear in Disguise has a d12 hit die, and levels as a fighter for the purposes of experience and saves. Bears in Disguise have no special limitations for weapon or armor usage; though clothing and armor must be specially fitted for them to wear it.

Bears in Disguise are always treated as though they are 1 encumbrance step lower than they are. When they are lightly encumbered, they act as though they were unencumbered; when heavily encumbered, they act as though lightly encumbered, and so on.

When grappling, Bears in Disguise are treated as 2 levels higher than they are. Or, if you are using the base LotFP grappling system, Bears in Disguise receive half of the melee attack bonus a fighter of their level would receive during a grapple.

Beginning at first level, all Bears in Disguise have a 6-in-6 Bushcraft skill.

While a Bear in Disguise may opt to use a weapon, they are primarily skilled as unarmed combatants. They may make two claw attacks each round against a single opponent. If both of these claw attacks hit, then they may make a third attack using their bite.

  • At first level their claws deal 1d4 damage, and their bite deals 1d8.
  • At fourth level, their claws deal 1d6 damage, and their bite deals 1d10.
  • At seventh level, their claws deal 1d8 damage, and their bite deals 1d12.

While bears are occasionally aggressive towards humans, they are strictly peaceful with one another. A Bear in Disguise may never turn their claws on another of their kind. If they do, they are marked for death, and will be the target of bearsassins for the rest of their days, without any hope of appeal. If a bear is encountered by the party, the Bear in Disguise may speak with this bear and attempt to negotiate a settlement amenable to both groups. If hostilities break out regardless, they are within their rights to remain neutral in the combat.




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