Locked Classes

I’ve been playing with an idea for several campaign settings I’ve been thinking of. I keep thinking I read it on the forums here, but a search didn’t turn it up, so:

Locked campaign classes.

For several of my campaigns, I think it would add a dimension of exploration and mystery to “lock” certain campaign classes until they are “unlocked” in play, either by finding and recruiting as a henchman a NPC of that class, or simply by discovering the appropriate location or faction, and/or opening up good relations with them.

For instance, in my Crimson Sun campaign, there can be no PCs created or henchmen recruited with the Half-Giant Brute class until there’s a “source” of Half-Giant Brutes: they’re all the magically-created slaves of Sorcerer-Kings, so the most obvious method would be to kill a Sorcerer-King and topple his regime. (In this case, e.g. being given a half-giant slave by the King or his Templars, who serves as a henchman, wouldn’t really “unlock” the class). I might similarly ban halflings - or halflings other than Halfling Renegades, at least - until the PCs have crossed the Ringing Mountains and established friendly contacts with halflings in the Forest Ridge.

In another setting, for instance, Paladins might not be available until the PCs help re-establish the Order of Paladins in their ruined keep; or elves or dwarves might not be available until the PCs have re-discovered their sole remaining/known sanctuary in the setting; or bugbears aren’t available until the PCs have made an alliance with the bugbears.

In other campaigns, it might be simpler: e.g. Witches (the mystic guardians of the Southland, or whatever) become available once the PCs meet and recruit a Witch NPC placed by the Judge.

I’ve done this! In my previous campaign, Thrassians opened when the Chaotic wizard PC gained the allegiance of a lizardman village and machinists could only be recruited from dwarven towns. There were certain organizations that would’ve made Ruinguard available, too, but that never came to pass. In my current game, dwarven furies are only available as slaves in lizardman markets, and divine elves can only be found in the deep jungle.

I do this in my current campaign, mostly out of necessity since it started before I had access to the player’s companion. The classes in the core book are “unlocked”, travel to dwarven or elven settlements is necessary to unlock the new classes of those races, and the party is currently on a quest to a city large and old enough to still have orders of paladins and priestesses.

Are you active on rpg.net? I talked about unlocking classes in my campaign a bit here: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?686639-ACKS-My-Campaign-world-Spirits-Terror-Birds-and-Old-Kings-(advice-welcome!)

In the beginning some of my players grumbled about it - ‘but what if I want to play X?’ - but I really think it’s a good idea. It saved me a lot of workload at the start of the campaign, by not having to familiarise myself with all the classes. It also allowed me to push the theme of my campaign a bit more. Elves and lizardpeople would simply not have fit the feel of my campaign world.

Right now, we’re running through an underground city (based on B4: The Lost City). There, they have encountered a strange people, who are divided in warring factions. When I told the players all these actions had unlockable classes (that is, they could play as one of the members), there was immediate interest in playing the new classes! So I think it worked out fine in the end.

(I based this new class - the Brother of Gorm - on the Dwarven Fury. There are no dwarves in my world, but the class is too cool to leave unused. Check out my de-dwarved class here: http://droomvorm.nl/acks/class-brother-of-gorm/)

I have always used this method as well. When I ran my 3.5 fantasy Norse campaign the elfheim were secreted away in a hidden realm. The PC’s had to make a dangerous journey to their lands and establish good will with the elves in order to unlock them as a race. This really fostered non-tangible rewards and furthered exploration of the world. This is of course extra rewarding for the Judge as his players want to explore more and more of his carefully crafted world. There really is no down side.

My original group of players for this campaign complained at first but once all of them had created their tough Norse human warriors they started the first game walking towards town and started singing the opening song to Reservoir Dogs. It was classic.

Fascinating thread. I used “locked feats” and “locked prestige classes” in a 3.5 campaign and it went well. I haven’t tried it in ACKS.

I have a terrible secret desire to create a game where EVERY advancement is based on unlocking things during play.

In my campaign, I’ve also locked spells that aren’t from the ACKS main books. Casters who enter into a compact with a Spirit (no gods in my campaign - magic flows from animistic Spirits) will receive access to spells literally no-one else can have. I’ll create some spells with the ACKS guidelines or take them from OD&D books.

This is far from a novel idea (I took it from the Land of Nod magazines), but it’s great for adding some caster flavor above and beyond spell lists.