This is a collection of Alex posts on the Heroic Companion:
HC has 54,000 words written (80 pages - aiming for 96 to 112).
Here’s what is currently in Heroic Companion, Fabio:
New Healing Mechanic (variable healing from spells based on the target’s level)
New Classes: Ecclesiastic, Elven Spellsinger, Loremaster, Nobiran Champion, Nobiran Wizard, Occultist, Runemaker, Zaharan Sorcerer
New Proficiencies: Bright Lore of Aura, Ceremonial Magic, Ceremonial Focus, Destined, Farseeing, Second Sight
Heroic Fate Points
Revised Natural 20 Rules
Critical Hit Rules
Special Maneuver: Clamber
Special Maneuver: Sweeping Attack
Thievery (buffs to thieves)
Attack and Armor Penetration of Large Monsters
Shades of Magic
Ceremonial Traditions - Antiquarian, Chthonic, Liturgical, Runic, Sylvan, Shamanic, Theurgical
Eldritch Spell List - 50+ spells
New Monsters - Draugr, Hag, Haugbui, Hoarflesh, Nosferatou
Naming Arms and Armor
Pinnacles of Good & Recovery from Corruption
Custom Classes (updated rules)
Custom Spells (updated rules)
In the Heroic Companion I’m working on, both arcane and divine magic are replaced by eldritch magic. It is as good as divine in most areas, better than divine in blast, but not as good as arcane in blast or wall spells.
The trick is that you can be either an eldritch caster or an eldritch ceremonialist. Casters are identical to those in ACKS. Ceremonialists use ceremonies rather than spells, which take longer to cast - think of hermetic rituals or rune-carving. If equipped with the right selection of proficiencies, trinkets, and talismans, ceremonialists can cast spells quickly (in combat).
Eldritch magic provides class powers when you select it, and eldritch ceremonialists are built like clerics, so there’s a wide array of differentiated characters you can build with it. Here’s two examples.
In the 2015-upcoming Heroic Companion, I introduce a new type of magic called “eldritch magic”. Eldritch magic can do all the things that arcane and divine magic can do, although it is not as good at blast, wall, and similar “flashy” spells.
Eldritch magic is divided into “white”, “grey”, and “black” schools, and casting spells from the grey and black schools causes corruption in the caster, which can lead to pernicious physical and mental effects.
Eldritch magic is intended to simulate the sort of magic seen in Middle-Earth and Hyboria and it addresses the concerns you’ve raised quite well. A priest of Set is an eldritch caster, as is a wind and sea sorcerer, just with different selection of class powers and spells.
There is a document for making entire magic systems from scratch, yes, though I haven’t published it yet! I used it to create the Eldritch magic system for Heroic Companion.
I’ve been enjoying working on Heroic Companion so much that I’m of a mind to use it to run my own Auran Empire campaign setting. I think it will be compatible enough that I could do that.
The big “X factor” in my mind is whether to have strictly human casters or to only have human ceremonialists in Heroic Companion. Right now I have human ecclesiastics, human loremasters, human runecasters, and human occultists, but they are all ceremonialists. The true casters are the elven spellsinger, nobiran wizard, and zaharan sorcerer.
All of the classes in the Heroic Companion should, in theory, be balanced with classes from the Core Rulebook and Player’s Companion.
Before creating the new eldritch magic system, I created a meta-system for creating new magic types, and then used that to create new class-build values, and then built the new classes on top of that.
If I got the balance correct, then a full-progression eldritch spellcaster is approximately equal to a mage, and a full-progression eldritch ceremonialist is approximately equal to a priestess or witch.
Because of this equivalency, I am able to provide rules for converting all of the standard ACKS casting classes to use eldritch magic. So for instance to convert a shaman, you retains his class powers, hit dice, level progression, and other class traits, but instead of being a divine caster he becomes an eldritch ceremonialist of the shamanic tradition.
You would need the rules for ceremonial magic, corruption and black magic, and the eldritch spell list to make use of those classes. But in theory, a cleric and an ecclesiastic and a loremaster and a mage could all function in the same campaign.
And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in the high tide of their realm, of which all is now forgot. – Akallabêth, in The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Prime Requisite: INT and WIS
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 14
Loremasters pursue knowledge and preserve ancient wisdom handed down from time immemorial. Most loremasters live ascetic lives devoted to annotating and studying the books and scrolls collected by their predecessors. But the boldest and most ambitious become adventurers, delving into the dungeons and tombs of past kingdoms in search of knowledge which has been lost. Wielding secrets forgotten for centuries, these loremasters become the most powerful of their kind, legends whose deeds will become the subject of study by the annalists of the future.
Because of their devotion to study, loremasters receive limited combat training. At first level, loremasters hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws only two points every six levels of experience (i.e. half as fast as fighters), though they advance in saving throws by two points every four levels (i.e. as clerics). They may only fight with quarterstaffs, clubs, daggers, and darts. They are unable to use shields, fight with two weapons, or wear any kind of armor. For these reasons, loremasters are quite vulnerable to physical danger, and in an adventuring group they should be protected.
The books and scrolls of interest to the loremaster are virtually never written in the Common tongue so loremasters soon become familiar with even the most obscure scripts, codes, and languages. At 1st level, a loremaster may read languages unfamiliar to them (including ciphers, treasure maps, and dead languages, but not magical writings) with a proficiency throw of 5+ on 1d20. If the roll does not succeed, the loremaster may not try to read that particular piece of writing until he reaches a higher level of experience.
for the table of ceremony progression go here: http://www.autarch.co/comment/17198#comment-17198
From careful study of ancient annals and legends, loremasters can decipher occult mysteries, remember ancient history, identify historic artifacts, and similar tasks. At 1stlevel, a loremaster must make a proficiency throw of 18+ on 1d20 to succeed inloremastery. The proficiency throw for loremastery reduces by 1 per level.
Most importantly, the scholarly pursuits of loremasters allow them to learn and perform eldritch ceremonies in the theurgical tradition. The number and levels of ceremonies the loremaster can perform in a single day is summarized on the Loremaster Ceremony Progression table.
A loremaster’s selection of ceremonies is limited to the ceremonies in his repertoire. A loremaster’s repertoire can include a number of eldritch ceremonies up to the number and level of ceremonies listed for his level, increased by his Intelligence bonus. A loremaster can use any magic items usable by mages or clerics. More information on ceremonial magic, and individual spell descriptions, can be found in the Magic chapter (p. XX).
At the start of his adventuring career, each loremaster chooses one ceremony from among those in his repertoire to be his favored ceremony. When performing his favored ceremony, the loremaster does not need his traditional implements. He may hastily perform his favored ceremony without requiring a ceremony throw provided he uses an affiliated trinket. If he does not have an affiliated trinket, he may hastily perform his favored ceremony as if he did. The loremaster gains an additional favored ceremony at 3rd level and again at 11th level. He may gain other favored ceremonies by selecting the Ceremonial Focus proficiency (see p. XX).
When a loremaster reaches 5th level (Scholar), he may begin to research ceremonies, scribe scrolls, and brew potions. Loremasters may collect and use divine power as clerics in order to fuel their magical research.
When a loremaster reaches 9th level (Loremaster), he is able to create more powerful magic items such as weapons, rings, and staffs. A loremaster may also build anathenaeum, typically a great library, when he reaches 9th level. He will then attract 1d6 apprentices of 1st-3rd level plus 2d6 normal men seeking to become loremasters. Their intelligence scores will be above average, but many will become discouraged from the rigorous mental training and quit after 1d6 months. While in the loremaster’s service, apprentices must be provided food and lodging, but need not be paid wages. If the loremaster builds a menagerie beneath or near his athenaeum, monsters may be collected therein. Loremaster’s athenaeum and menageries are otherwise identical to mages’ sanctums and dungeons, as detailed in the Campaign chapter of the ACKSRulebook.
At 11th level, a loremaster may create ceremonial artifacts (see p. XX), learn and cast ritual eldritch spells of great power (7th, 8th, and 9th level), craft magical constructs, and create magical cross-breeds. If chaotic, the loremaster may create necromantic servants and become undead.
Ecclesiastics are human men and women dedicated to the service of a religious order. If your Judge has not specified particular religious orders in his campaign, the default ecclesiastic is assumed to be a member of the Temple of the Winged Sun, devoted to Ammonar, God of Law and Light. Whatever order they serve, the majority of ecclesiastics never adventure, preferring to dedicate themselves to ministry, prayer, and sacramental duties. Only a few venture forth from their parishes into the dangers of the world, traveling as mendicants, proselytizers, missionaries, or crusaders. Most of these ecclesiastics lose their lives or their faith to darkness or decadence. Those ecclesiastics who succeed in bringing the light of faith into dark places are recorded by later generations as saints and prophets of their god.
for ecclesiastics table go here: http://www.autarch.co/comment/17197#comment-17197
Ecclesiastics receive little combat training. At first level, ecclesiastics hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws only two points every six levels of experience (i.e. the same as mages), but they advance in saving throws by two points every four levels of experience (i.e. as clerics). They may only fight with quarterstaffs, clubs, daggers, or darts. They are unable to use shields, fight with two weapons, or wear any kind of armor.
Although they cannot cast spells like clerics, ecclesiastics may learn and perform eldritch ceremonies in the liturgical tradition starting at 1st level (Acolyte). The number and levels of ceremonies the ecclesiastic can perform in a single day is summarized on the Ecclesiastic Ceremony Progression table. An ecclesiastic’s selection of ceremonies is limited to the ceremonies in his repertoire. An ecclesiastic’s repertoire can include a number of eldritch ceremonies up to the number and level of ceremonies listed for his level, increased by his Intelligence bonus. More information on ceremonial magic, and individual spell descriptions, can be found in the Magic chapter (p. XX).
As they advance in level, ecclesiastics may add new ceremonies to their repertoire by visiting a temple of their order and spending one game week per ceremony. At the Judge’s discretion, the ecclesiastic’s order may require that the ecclesiastic learn particular ceremonies at each level, or refuse to teach certain ceremonies it deems sacrilegious. Ecclesiastics who wish to learn such ceremonies must find or research them on their own.
EXAMPLE: Balbus, an ecclesiastic, has advanced to 2nd level, increasing his repertoire from one to two 1st level ceremonies. He visits the local Temple of the Winged Sun and impudently inquires of his Patriarch whether he might learn darkness or weave smoke. After a stern lecture on upholding Light and Law, Balbus is offered a choice oflight or command word.
Ecclesiastics must uphold the doctrines of their faith in order to remain members of their religious order. If an ecclesiastic is found breaking the rules of his order, he may be disciplined or even separated from his order.
An ecclesiastic who is separated from his order may not return to the order when they advance in level to learn new ceremonies, and will not receive aid or followers when building a cathedral (see below). Other penalties are entirely up to the Judge.
Ecclesiastics are among the most educated and respected members of their society. All ecclesiastics learn theology at a seminary or monastery (as per the Theology proficiency). They can automatically identify religious symbols, spell signatures, trappings, and holy days of their own faith, and can recognize those of other faiths with a proficiency throw of 11+. Rare or occult cults may be harder to recognize (Judge’s discretion). An ecclesiastic may select additional ranks in the Theology proficiency to improve his proficiency throw if desired.
In order to evangelize their faith and convert others to the worship of their god, ecclesiastics are trained in diplomacy. They receive a +2 bonus on all reaction rolls when they attempt to parley with intelligent creatures (as per the Diplomacy proficiency).
Ecclesiastics can comfort and console the wounded, helping the faithful to better endure pain and suffering while they heal. The base healing rate of a character is doubled during each day of complete rest under the care of an ecclesiastic. The ecclesiastic can simultaneously comfort and console up to one character per level of experience. An ecclesiastic cannot comfort and console wounded characters of a different alignment or religion. This ability does not stack with the effects of the salving rest spell.
By reciting a sermon or singing a hymn before battle, ecclesiastics can inspire couragein the faithful. Inspiring courage requires a few moments of oration (one round), and grants the ecclesiastic’s allies within a 50’ radius a +1 bonus to attack throws, damage rolls, morale rolls (for monsters or NPCs allied with the caster), and saving throws against magical fear. The bonus lasts for 10 minutes (1 turn). An ecclesiastic can inspire courage in any given character once per day per class level. (Even the most inspiring parable gets old if you hear it twice in the same day.) An ecclesiastic cannot inspire courage in characters who are already engaged in combat or in characters of a different alignment or religion.
Finally, all ecclesiastics have the ability to turn undead, calling upon the liturgy of their faith to drive back, and even destroy, undead. Ecclesiastics turn undead as clerics of their level. There is no limit to how often an ecclesiastic may attempt to turn undead each day, but if an attempt to turn undead fails during an encounter, the ecclesiastic may not attempt to turn undead again for the remainder of that encounter. At the Judge’s discretion, some orders may teach their ecclesiastics to control undead rather than turn them.
An ecclesiastic can use any magic items usable by mages or clerics. When an ecclesiastic reaches 5th level (Vicar), he may begin to research spells, scribe scrolls, and brew potions. Ecclesiastics may collect and use divine power as clerics in order to fuel their magical research.
At 9th level (Patriarch), he is able to create more powerful magic items such as weapons, rings, and staffs. Also upon attaining 9th level (Patriarch), an ecclesiastic may establish or build a cathedral. So long as the ecclesiastic is currently a member in good standing of his order, he may buy or build his cathedral at half the normal price due to aid from his order. Once a cathedral is established, the ecclesiastic’s reputation will spread and he will attract 5d6x10 0th level soldiers armed with various weapons, plus another 1d6 ecclesiastics of 1st-3rd level of the same religion to serve the order. They are completely loyal (morale +4). While in the ecclesiastic’s service, his followers must be provided food and lodging, but need not be paid wages. The Judge determines which proportions of followers are archers, infantry, etc. Ecclesiastic’s cathedrals are otherwise identical to cleric’s fortified temples, as detailed in the Campaign chapter of the ACKS Rulebook.
At 11th level, an ecclesiastic may create ceremonial artifacts (see p. XX), may learn and cast ritual divine spells of great power (6th and 7th level), craft magical constructs, and create magical cross-breads. If chaotic, the ecclesiastic will become able to create necromantic servants and even become undead himself.
As noted in the linked thread, alchemists are able to create potions as if they were 5th level mages. In lieu of having a repertoire of spells to draw on, they create potions at twice the base cost and time. If they have a formula or sample, they do so at half the base cost and time (as usual).
While the rules are not explicit that an alchemist would be limited to 3rd level spells when creating potions, I think that is an admirable rule which I will adopt myself.
In the Heroic Companion, I have added the following rules to Alchemy: “A spellcaster of 5th level or higher with Alchemy proficiency may add his Alchemy ranks to his Magic Research throws when brewing potions. If he has selected the proficiency three times, he can brew potions at half the usual base time and cost.”
Minimum Hit Points for Unadventurous XP Accumulation
Please consider the following rule and share your feedback. It is intended for ACKS-Heroic Companion as an optional rule to allow for Conan to choke the King of Aquilonia to death on the throne, Beowulf/Hrothgar type, and similar situations, although it can be readily purposed for any campaign.
If more than half the XP a character earns at any given level of experience are from unadventurous sources, the character automatically rolls the minimum result on any hit dice gained when advancing to the next level of experience. For purposes of this rule, unadventurous sources of XP include:
- XP earned from ruling a domain that the character received from inheritance or gift, rather than settling or conquest
- XP earned from magic research performed as an assistant
- XP earned from hijinks performed for a boss
A character who is actively adventuring or on campaign may decline to accept experience points from unadventurous sources if desired in order to make sure he does not go over 50%.
EXAMPLE: Sedentavik is a 9th level fighter. He has reached 9th level entirely through managing the vast estate he inherited from his father, and has never adventured, gone to war, or conquered or founded new settlements. Born with STR 13, INT 12, WIS 9, DEX 11, CON 13, CHA 11, he is now middle-aged, reducing him to STR 11, DEX 9, CON 11. At 1st level, he rolled 5hp. Since then he has earned the minimum hp at each level, putting him at (5+8) 13hp. He has not lacked for training from the finest sword-masters, so his attack throw is 5+ and he deals 1d6+4 damage with his sword.
Meanwhile, Aektivar is a 4th level fighter who has adventured his entire career. He has STR 16, INT 11, WIS 10, DEX 10, CON 13, CHA 9 and 22 hit points. His attack throw is 6+ (base 8+, modified by 2) and he hits for 1d6+4 damage (+2 from class, +2 from STR) with his sword. Aektivar travels to Sedentavik’s great hall and challenges him to a duel for the throne, according to the traditions of these people I have invented for this example. Even though Sedentavik is many levels higher, Aektivar wins by virtue of his superior ability scores and hp.
After winning the throne, Aektivar retires from adventuring. He advances over the years to 9th level himself, all from unadventurous sources. When he hits middle age, his STR erodes to 14, his DEX to 8, and his CON to 11. He has only (22-4 from lowered CON) + (1/level from levels 5-9) 23hp. His attack throw is 4+ and he deals 1d6+5 damage. He is still a formidable combatant from the point of view of a normal man. But he is nowhere as mighty as he would have been had he continued adventuring and reached 9th level as a young man.
Here is a slightly different take on this.
Wealth and luxury makes a man soft and weak. During the winter season of each year, inactive characters must roll on the Civilized Decadence table. A character is considered to be inactive if, in the prior year, he did not earn at least 10% of his current experience from adventuring or warfare.
EXAMPLE: Marcus is a 7th level fighter with 70,000 XP. He spends most of Imperial Year 381 ruling a county he has claimed from past deeds. In Spring 381, however, when his county is menaced by a dragon, he slays the creature and captures its hoard, earning 9,000 XP. Marcus has avoided civilized decadence.
Civilized Decadence table (roll 2d6)
2 Decrepitude: Luxurious living devours your youth. Age 10 years.
3-5 Weakness: Lose 1 point of STR permanently.
6-8 Decadence: Lose 1 hp permanently.
9-11 Laziness: Lose 1 point of CON permanently.
12: Exhaustion. Civilized life has sapped your vigor. Lose 1 hit point per level.
[NEED FEEDBACK ON TABLE!!! - creative input solicited]
Characters can recover from civilized decadence by earning XP from adventuring or war. Each 10% of their current XP earned removes one penalty. Penalties are removed in the order they were gained.
Some high-level casters are able to curse characters with decadence, and/or remove such curses.