"Racial" class modifiers

The Eíre setting does not have any demihuman races. The elves left, the dwarves died in their deeps, both long before the current empires.

There are not a lot in the way of non-human humanoids, either, and certainly nothing playable by humans - most of the humanoids in ACKS are being heavily re-skinned as creatures of shadow and blight, mindless and inchoate mobs summoned from Beyond, that happen to resemble vaguely humanoid shapes.

However, there will be bloodlines among humans that occasionally show up more strongly in an individual. I don’t want to have to write multiple classes for each and every bloodline, so I’m thinking of a sort-of template approach.

The current work I’ve done is in PDF format here: Eíre Bloodlines.

Below are two examples that don’t require downloading a PDF (note: the PDF has tweaked the examples below into a more final form, but the core idea remains the same).

Giant-blooded are very rare, and are usually only children. Giant-blooded cannot be arcane casters or thieves. For any other class:

  • Increase the size of the class's hit die by one step (d4 to d6, d6 to d8, d8 to d10, d10 to d12).
  • Giant-blooded stand 8 feet tall and weigh 35 stone, and increase their STR bonus by +1 (their STR remains the same; the bonus is just one higher, to a maximum of +4). They can also throw rocks up to STR×10 feet, dealing 1d6 + STR modifier.
  • At 4th, 8th, and 12th level, the giant-blooded gains a +1 to AC while unarmored.
  • At 7th level, they grow to 10 feet tall and 70 stone. They lose the increased STR bonus. Instead, they double the damage dice rolled with melee weapons; double all of their encumbrance stone; and gain a +8 on STR feats to force open doors and similar. They can throw rocks 200 feet for 2d6 + STR modifier damage.
  • At 14th level, they grow to 12 feet tall and 120 stone. Increase the rock-throwing damage to 3d6; and increase the bonus to force open doors to +16.
  • Against human-sized opponents, the bonus to forcing open doors also typically applies to wrestling and other combat tricks.

The XP costs for each level are increased for the class as follows:

2: +1,000
3: +2,000
4: +4,000
5: +8,000
6: +16,000
7: +30,000
8: +60,000
9: +120,000
10: +180,000
11: +240,000
12: +300,000

Giant-blooded reduce the maximum level for their class by 2.

Werebats can be found in small numbers in the largest cities, as they can breed true and are relatively harmless. They can be identified (somewhat) by their black eyes, long fingers, large ears, and prominent canines. Werebats must be Neutral, but can be any class:

  • Stronghold type changes to Hideout, and attracts low-level werebats of random classes. If the original type was Sanctum, it is still a hideout, but the werebat can construct a Dungeon as well, and retains the ability to do research.
  • Being a werebat is to be a criminal, of sorts. Anyone who knows the character is a werebat has a –2 penalty on reaction rolls toward the character.
  • Werebats possess Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, and Hear Noise as a thief of their class level; if their class already grants this, they reduce the throw for the thief skill by 4.
  • Werebats possess Beast Friendship, but only for bats and bat-like creatures.
  • At first level, all werebat classes can transform into the form of a giant bat (granting AC 1 hide, fly movement rate 180’, and a bite dealing 1d4 damage) and can cast summon bats. Both can be done as a one-round action, at will. While in bat form, the character can speak with bats and is immune to normal weapons (silver and magical weapons harm the character normally).
  • While not wearing armor, the werebat's AC is improved by +2, increasing by a further +1 at 7th and 13th level (this bonus to AC applies to both forms).

The XP costs for each level are increased for the class as follows:

2: +1,250
3: +2,500
4: +5,000
5: +10,000
6: +20,000
7: +40,000
8: +80,000
9: +150,000
10: +225,000
11: +300,000
12: +375,000

Werebats reduce the maximum level for their class by 2.

Summon Bats
Divine (Werebat) 1
Range 480 feet
Duration 1 turn

This spell summons 1d2 swarms (4 HD) or 1d4 giant bats within 480 feet; these swarms take 1d4 rounds to arrive, and remain and fight for the caster with Morale +4 for one turn.

That’s really cool. Out of curiosity, why did you decide to modify things the way you did and not simply make some ‘racial classes’ for these guys? Regardless, very neat idea. Was there any particular rhyme or reason to the xp costs, or did it just feel right?

Racial classes: I’m planning to have a number of custom classes in the campaign. My current class list is: alchemist, arcanist, aristocrat, diplomat, fighter, illusionist, merchant, necromancer, spellsinger, thief, witch, war wizard, … and a dozen or so god-specific priest classes. If I provided racial classes for them, there would be, at a minimum, a giant version of the aristocrat, fighter, merchant, thief, … and a dozen or so god-specific priest classes

I.e., each race would need a bunch of racial classes. It’s just easier to build a template.

The XP costs … I tried to aim for similar to the racial build XP costs in Player’s Companion, but I am having to go a lot by “feels right.”

Bumping hit die by one step is 500 XP. That’s straight from PC. The other giant abilities were harder to adjudicate, and I may tweak the final XP cost later, once I’ve built more of these racial class add-ons.

I’m also working on a proficiency variant that can be taken at first level, which provides an even more limited subset of the giant’s traits, but only requires a General proficiency, and as such is available to zero-level characters.

I’ve added a PDF of the current bloodlines I’ve worked out. All of the non-shapeshifters are done at this point: Eíre Bloodlines.

Example: Janice rolls [11,15,11,14,10,16] and wants to play a thief with a nymph bloodline. She drops her STR to 9 to push DEX to 16, but otherwise goes with the character as is. The Judge gives max hit points at first level.

Sinnead, Nymph-Blooded Thief-1 STR 9, DEX 16 (+2), CON 11, INT 14 (+1), WIS 10, CHA 16 (+2); hp 3; move 120’; ageless and immune to paralysis. Proficiencies: Diplomacy, Leadership, Swashbuckling (C).

We discuss whether land bond requires the character to actually rule the domain, and decide it doesn’t. (We also decide that an urban center counts as a separate domain, since it is treated as a domain by the rules.) This isn’t relevant to first level, but Janice wants to know if “nymph” blood is wasted on thieves.

Sinnead will advance in levels very slightly behind a normal thief (reaching her max of 13th level only a hair before the other thieves hit their max of 14th), but will have substantially improved henchman morale, and a fantastic ability to parley. At 7th level, she will be able to just about charm at will when parleying.

On the other hand, she will be averaging 1.5 hit points per level—even the mages will think she’s crunchy. Avoiding combat via charm and diplomacy would seem to be the way to go.

Example 2: Brent rolls [18,10,13,8,9,10] and decides to play a giant-blooded fighter.

Alan, Giant-Blooded Fighter-1 STR 18 (+4*), DEX 10, CON 13 (+1), INT 8 (–1), WIS 9, CHA 10; hp 11*; move 120’; +4 on feats of STR, throw rocks 180 ft. for 1d6+4. Proficiencies: Endurance, Fighting Style (Two-Handed Weapon) (C). Alan arms himself with a polearm (1d10+5 damage, can attack from second rank).

Alan will be a bit behind normal fighters in level (reaching the max of 12th level just ahead of the other fighters reaching their max of 14th), but will be absolutely devastating in a frontal assault. At higher levels, the polearm’s damage will increase to 2d10+4, and rock-throwing will increase to 2d6+3 and then 3d6+3.

As a fighter, Alan won’t usually worry about his unarmored AC, although that time in the Pit when he was stripped of gear was a lot easier with giant-like hide! Alan will worry about encumbrance - the ability to carry 16 stone at higher levels without being encumbered is excellent!

Really cool stuff!

One question - It seems like Giant Blooded characters have a maximum class level of 12, but they get an additional class benefit at 14. Is that an error or did I miss something?

It is an error - the PDF corrected it, and I haven’t had time to go through and re-edit the post to match the PDF.

I really, really, really like this.

A HUGE advantage of doing it this way is that you could apply these to non-human races (in a traditional setting) and end up with Dragonblooded elves, elemental dwarves, etc.

Few questions though:
The Nymph…their weakness is /harsh/. On top of that, I don’t understand why you spread the advantages of a single Prof over several levels (Mystic Aura). Why not give that to them to start with and possibly better things along the way?

The Armor ability…why does that only work when unarmored? I assume balance but things like the Thrassians get it all the time and (while they are powerful) it doesn’t break things too much. It also seems more logical (if its hard to hurt me unarmored, it’s even harder to hurt me when I have more layers on.

Anyway, other than that, I love it. I’m totally stealing this idea. I might use your idea and modify a few/create a few of my own for my blog (giving you credit and linkage of course) if that’s ok?

Stealing: Please do.

Applying to nonhumans: If you add it to an existing nonhuman, you will want to modify the maximum level by both subtractions - the way I built these templates was by giving them hidden class build points and then reducing their maximum class level appropriately.

So, for example, a dragon-blooded craftpriest is effectively constructed on 12 class build points, and would have a maximum level of 6. Which is ouch :-).

I would probably limit that to classes that end up with at least 10 levels like the Player’s Companion does (so a dragon-blooded craftpriest is not legal, but an earth-blooded vaultguard is).

There are also human class/bloodline combinations that don’t work well, of course: a dragon-blooded cleric won’t be able to make constructs or research ritual spells; and a giant-blooded mage loses a lot of XP to inadequately buffed fighter abilities.

Nymph weakness: It is pretty harsh! But overall, a nymph character who is getting hit isn’t using the charisma abilities correctly ;-).

Mystic Aura: That custom power only gives a bonus to impress or intimidate, and does not benefit Morale at all. The nymph’s ability affects reaction rolls of all kinds (but only the first one) and improves Morale as well, making the 3rd level benefit roughly equivalent to Mystic Aura; and the 5th level benefit more powerful. If you rolled a good CHA and CON (to offset the hp penalty), a nymph-blooded fighter with Command would have absolutely fanatical followers by 5th level.

Armor: The Thrassian scaly hide ability says this: “The character has a scaly hide which increases his unarmored AC to 1 or more” (emphasis mine).

Stealing: Awesome, thanks!

Level Limits: Yeah, I can see that. Personally, I’m not a huge fan (of level limits) so I probably wouldn’t add them together (just take the worst of each). In my own game, I’ve noticed that the large amount of XP needed to hit level 2 has been such a deterrent that the PCs in my game are overwhelmingly human. Adding more to it would just increase that hesitation, so I’m fine with it.

On Mystic Aura’s limitations: Yeah…I’ve not read it that way. Yes, it does state that, but I think most social rolls a PC would be called on to make kind of fall into one of those two broad activities (not every social activity, just the ones you actually bother to break out mechanics for). You got me on the morale part of course. :wink:

I like the Nymph Fighter idea, or Nymph paladin…that’d be pretty sweet.

Would their abilities stack with Mystic Aura if they were in a class that could use it?

Armor: See, I read that differently from the way you state it. A human/dwarf/elf/etc unarmored AC is 0. Scaly Hide ‘increases his unarmored AC to 1 or more’. Taking Thrassian 3 to make a custom class results in: ’ Scaly Hide: The character’s base unarmored AC is 3 instead of 0.’

That means. to me anyway, that your AC starts at X and goes up if you add armor and shields.

Certainly, that text is very different from specifically stating: ‘When unarmored…’

Mystic Aura: I would certainly allow them to stack, but my campaigns often have one or two charisma-monsters, and I’ve got a lot of experience with dealing with them and making appropriate challenges for them.

Armor: I can see that interpretation. I will do some builds and see how scary it turns out (AC monsters, unlike Charisma monsters, are a lot more difficult to deal with, because threats to them are even bigger threats to everyone else).

Ah…I knew it was in there somewhere. The Thrassian Gladiator explicitly states that armor adds to their natural armor ability.

Yeah tell me about it…the Nar in my group has a 13 AC at level two (because the party let him grab the +2 cloak of protection they found on top of his plate. Very hard to hurt him, but things that prompt saves are still good.

I rolled this: [STR 10, DEX 16, CON 8, INT 13, WIS 12, CHA 11]

And decided to go with a dragon-blooded fighter, Gish. Starting with 90 gold, Gish buys mail armor, shield, and sword; leaving 30 gold for "other stuff." He takes the proficiencies Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Naturalism, and Navigation.

level 1: HP 7; AC 9 (DEX 2, scales 1, mail 4, shield 2); Move 90’.

level 2: HP 10; AC 12 (DEX 2, scales 1, plate 7, shield 2); Move 60’. Gish bought some quality plate (+1 AC).

level 3: HP 16; AC 10 (DEX 2, scales 2, leather 3, shield 2, swash 1); move 120’. Gish bought some quality leather (+1 AC).

level 5: HP 23; AC 12 (DEX 2, scales 3, leather 4, shield 2, swash 1); move 120’. Gish got leather +2.

level 7: HP 31; AC 16 (DEX 2, scales 4, leather 4, shield 3, swash 2, prot 1); move 120’. Gish got a shield +1, ring of protection +1.

level 9: HP 36; AC 20 (DEX 3, scales 5, leather 4, shield 5, swash 2, prot 1); move 120’. Gish gets a shield +3, and two wishes to bump his DEX.

level 10: HP 40; AC 24 (DEX 3, scales 5, plate 9, shield 5, swash 2); move 60’. Gish swaps his leathers for plate +3 and gives away the ring of protection.

While it would be possible to scrape together another +5 in AC bonuses from elsewhere if I didn’t let the armor and scales stack, Gish would have to work a lot harder to get to reach the point where a 21+ HD monster only hits on a natural 20.

On the other hand, isn’t that the point of a class advantage? To be advantageous?

I dunno. I think I may let hide AC stack with armor … but restrict magical armors and shields to +2, and eliminate stacking between rings and cloaks of protection. That would cut Gish-10 down to 23 if he kept the ring, which would let the 21+ HD monster hit him on a 19. And considering that his whole build is around DEX and AC, I think that’s reasonably fair.

Level 10 would be 22 as Swashbuckler won’t work with plate.

If it’s a huge concern you could reduce the amount the ability grants. maybe have it work like Swashbuckler?