Comparison of Classes

One of my favorite authors for Dragon Magazine was Paul Crabaugh. For the handful of articles he wrote for D&D, I always appreciated his Class and Monster Generators. One the stated goals for Andras was to have a similar class creation system for DMs to use to better customize their world.

In 2e, a system was presented, but it states very plainly in the beginning that existing classes cannot be re-created using this system. In fairness, the same was true for Crabuagh's Customized Classes In Dragon #8. In some ways, it never felt right that I couldn't just re-create existing classes.

After a few months of experimenting with various systems, the conclusion is that the xp numbers are largely arbitrary. That may not be a surprise to anyone, but I thought that there might be a way to get reasonable close to the numbers, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.

Oddly enough, I can reach the numbers exactly for Basic Fantasy. Just not anything similar to 2e.

In the various experiments, there was a tension between the value of combat prowess versus the value of magical access. If combat was undervalued, the warrior group gained levels rapidly and the rogue group tended to have too many skills for the same xp levels. If magic was undervalued, there was little incentive to be a magic-user.

So as I wind down to a final version of the class generator, I find that Priests and Psionicists have the same XP progression level. Personally, I like that because I tend to characterize Psionic characters as anti-clerics. In other words, in function, they appear to generate magic in the same way, the difference is the source. Priests gain power from a deity and a psionic character gains power from within. It serves to make the psionic characters a persecuted group and also allows for deities to grant more anti-psionic miracles.

However, when the specific mythoi options for priests are used, their progression is a bit faster in my customized class system than a standard cleric. The main reason is that a specific mythos priest has access to half of the miracles that a cleric can access. In 2e parlance, that 8 schools with major access and 1 school with minor access versus 3-4 schools with major access and 1-3 schools with minor access.

The effect is not as pronounced with mages versus specialty wizards because of the bonuses that specialists gain.

In case you are wondering, my system makes the standard 2e paladin need almost 3000 xp to reach second level. Needless to say, I'll probably end up re-doing the paladin anyway. I want a battle priest/paladin/avenger class where alignment isn't so much a restriction as the specific deity served.

Maybe most surprising of all may be the fact that psionic powers are the most expensive form of magic.

I hope to have the generator ready in spreadsheet, pdf and php format soon. If anyone is interested, I will be happy to share the current working spreadsheet. I would upload it to the site, but it changes daily as I crunch numbers.

Cryptic Note Saves Day

While creating the massive table of skills for the OSR project, I found a note written in my 2e Player's Handbook.

Here's the pertinent section - it is found when describing the skills a Rogue uses:

To determine the initial value of each
skill, start with the base scores listed on
Table 26. To these base scores, add (or subtract)
any appropriate modifiers for race,
Dexterity, and armor worn (given on Tables
27, 28, and 29, respectively).

The scores arrived at in the preceding paragraph
do not reflect the effort a thief has
spent honing his skills. To simulate this
extra training, all thieves at 1st level receive
60 discretionary percentage points that they
can add to their base scores. No more than
30 points can be assigned to any single skill.
Other than this restriction, the player can
distribute the points however he wants.

Each time the thief rises a level in experience,
the player receives another 30 points
to distribute. No more than 15 points per
level can be assigned to a single skill, and no
skill can be raised above 95 percent, including
all adjustments for Dexterity, race, and
armor.

In other words, there is no table in 2e because there are base skills, Dexterity and Racial modifiers and discretionary points. I saw a note written in the margin that says "Neat!" and now I remember why. It allowed us to have a 5th level Thief (we never called them rogues) with really high abilities to certain skills in order to create interesting subclasses. We had a trapmaster that was great at finding and removing traps, a ninja that could move silently and climb walls, or an urban thief that was a great pickpocket and lockbreaker.

So our skill table will look something like this:

Pick Pockets 15%
Open Locks 15 %
Find/Remove Traps 15%
Move Silently 15%
Hide in Shadows 15%
Detect Noise 15%
Climb Walls 60%
Read Languages 0%
Read Magic 0%
Catch/Batt Away Object 15%
Acrobatics 50%

For Each Skill a player chooses for their class, the player is give 7.5 discretionary points (Round up). The player may use these points to boost skill percentages in any or all skills. An individual skill cannot receive more than half the total discretionary point pool.

Remember that all character classes can attempt these skills on a 1 in 8 dice roll (12.5%). Only those that take them as a focus can increase their abilities. The balancing feature that prevents someone from taking 'every' skill is the XP cost. Each skill has an XP cost that makes in more difficult to advance in levels.

Two side notes: Fighters in the pre-built classes have one skill, catch object. At first level, a Fighter has a 23% chance of catching/batting away a thrown object - this can include certain spells. At 11th level, they can be pretty difficult to hit from a distance. Magic-Users purchase the Read Magic ability at 100% in a different part of character creation.