Swords & Wizardry Classes

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I love to dream up classes for S&W. The main reason is to create interesting NPCs. Although I've never been challenged on it, I like to have the rules setup ahead of time when a party encounters an "alternate" spellcaster or a fighting-man that seems to do a whole lot of damage.

The guidelines I follow are as follows:

  • Start with Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User classes. Also include a tweaked Thief class.
  • All skills of a class are handled per Thieves' Skills (roll on d6 or roll d%)
  • Limited Special Abilities are handled per Turn Undead table using various dice,'X' number of times a day or Spellcasting tables.
  • Other Special Qualities are "always-on" abilities (like Fighter's Parry), Stronghold/Keep/Guild at name level.
  • One other mechanic I use is a custom mechanic for handling psionic combat. I hope to adapt it to handle things like wizards' duels, clerics' tests of faith and sanity checks.
  • There are no abilities unlocked at certain levels with the exception of name level. This is why the Thief is tweaked to always be able to Read Languages, though he or she will have a limited chance at 1st and 2nd levels.
  • Hit Dice are d3,d4,d6,d8 and d10.
  • Name Level occurs at Up to level 13 for d3, Up to level 11 for d4, Up to level 9 for d6 and d8, Up to level 7 for d10.
  • Extra hit points after name level are +1 for d3,d4,d6 and +2 for d8,d10
  • One and only one ability score is used to provide a bonus to XP.
  • One +2 bonus to a type of Saving Throw bonus.
  • I have a custom system for weapons allowed. I allow anyone to throw flaming oil and use slings.

Looking at the core classes, they breakdown as follows.

Cleric:

d6 tops off at 9th level
Wisdom provides bonus to XP
Weapons Restriction: Blunt Weapons + oil and sling.
Limited Special Abilities: Turn Undead, Cast Spells per table,
Special Quality: Stronghold at name level.

Fighter:

d8 tops off at 9th level
Strength provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: NONE
Limited Special Abilities: NONE
Special Qualities: Multiple Attacks, Parry, Stronghold at name level.

Magic-User:

d4 tops of at 11th Level
Intelligence provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: Small list of weapons + oil and sling. No armor.
Skill: Knowing Spells, Making Magic Items
Limited Special Abilities: Casting spells per spell table
Special Quality: Tower at name level.

Thief:

d4 tops out at 10th level
Dexterity provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: One-handed weapons Leather Armor only.
Skills: Climb Walls, Delicate Tasks and Traps, Hear Sounds, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Open Locks, Read Languages
Limited Special Abilities: NONE
Special Qualities: Backstab (always-on), Read Magic (gains at name level)

The biggest changes from S&W Complete is that the Thief gains the ability to Read languages any time, but cannot read magic until 10th level.

It's not so much a change, but since there is no explicit rule, I have the Magic-User able to make magic items any time. One part of my rationale is due a house rule I have about XP gained on money spent. Making magic items gives M-U's a reason to spend money.

And Now for Something Kinda Different

So how does this work with custom classes? It is not as limiting as it may appear. Notice that no one has an "X" number of times ability. There's all kinds of ways to modify spell tables (half the spells of an M-U, change the spell levels possible, custom spell lists, etc.) In other words, there are many possibilities, but a limited number of ways to express them.

For an example of how these fit together, let's look at the Hewcaster:

Hewcaster:

d4 tops of at 11th Level
Intelligence provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: Small list of weapons + oil and sling. No armor.
Skill: Knowing Spells
Limited Special Abilities: Casting spells per spell table, Extracting Essence per Turn Undead table, Making Elixirs per spell table.
Special Quality: Alchemists' Lab at name level.

If I wanted a Barbarian, I'd do this:

Barbarian:

d10 tops off at 7th level
Constitution provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: Two-handed weapons only
Limited Special Abilities: Rage up to level times a day
Special Qualities: Multiple Attacks (Crom count the dead!), Stronghold at name level.

+2 to Saving Throws from spells and spell-like effects

If I wanted a Psionicist, I'd do this:

Psionicist:

d6 tops off at 9th level
Charisma provides bonus to XP
Weapons Restriction: Small list of weapons + oil and sling. No armor.
Skills: Learning Psionic Techniques, Grapple Incorporeal Foes
Limited Special Abilities: Uses Psionic Abilities per table, Psionic Attacks per table
Special Quality: Psionic defense (always-on), Academy at name level.

+2 to Saving Throws from Charm and other mind-effecting spells.

For an Assassin:

d4 tops out at 11th level or d3 tops out at 13th level
Intelligence provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: One-handed weapons Leather Armor only. Can use shields.
Skills: Climb Walls, Delicate Tasks Disguise Self, and Traps, Hear Sounds, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Open Locks, Read Languages
Limited Special Abilities: NONE
Special Qualities: Backstab (always-on), Make Poison, Read Magic (gains at name level)

+2 to Saving Throws from poison and paralysis

For a Ranger:

d8 tops off at 8th level
Strength provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: NONE
Skill: Tracking
Limited Special Abilities: NONE
Special Qualities: Bonus damage to Giant and Goblin types (always on), Alertness (always on), Casting spells per spell table at Name Level, Use of Healing, Scrying and Travel based magic items at Name level, Fortress at name level.

+2 to Saving Throws from spells that alter the senses or sense of balance.

For a Bard:

d4 tops out at 9th level
Charisma provides bonus to XP
Weapon Restriction: Any weaponsa and shields, but Leather Armor only.
Skills: Hear Sounds, Hide in Shadows, Lore (Identify Magic Items, know the location of dungeon, etc), Move Silently, Read Languages, Read Magic
Limited Special Abilities: Casting spells per spell table
Special Qualities: Psionic Defense (always on), Guild at Name Level

+2 to Saving Throws from charm and mind-affecting spells.

Okay, so that's a bunch of stuff that everyone already has in various forms or another, except the Hewcaster. Could I do a Monk class? Honestly, I would feel the need to add a martial arts sub-system to do classes like the Monk. I'll give it a shot on the next post.