Random Advancement Class: The Sellsword

So, as promised here, let’s have a shot with random classes. A Fighter variant should be easy enough of a starting point, I guess?

A lot of it is snatched from the previous advanced tables by Zak, Jeff et.al., so credit there where it’s due. All of this is untested, so feedback welcome.

Note: assume Lamentations of the Flame Princess as the system framework – that means that all player characters have a +1 on their to-hit by default, AC values are ascending with an unarmoured base of 12, and all that. You should know.

Also, stuff like dual-wielding and gambits and such are a thing that’s available to everyone in my table, so if you feel like something is missing, it might just be because you’re supposed to be able to do it already anyway.

Anyway, let me present to you;

THE SELLSWORD

Your class hit die is d8. Write down the following as your starting saves:

Paralyse 16, Poison 14, Breath 17, Device 15, Magic 18

That’s the “normal man” array from B/X, or -2 to the saves of a LotFP 1st-level Fighter.

Then roll twice on the table below. Every time you level up, increase hit points like you normally would, and roll twice on the table instead of checking your regular level-up schedule for attack bonus and saves.

As a martial type, you can add your Dexterity modifier to your AC for Medium or Heavy armour (or chain, or plate), and wield a weapon in each hand without checking your Strength score (the others need to have a Strength at least as high as the base AC of worn armour, or the combined total of maximum damage to pull that off – shields count as a d4 weapon for the latter).

Anyway, get rolling.

The Table:

01-30: increase all of your saves by +1.

31-53: gain +1 to hit.

54-55: In battle there is no law, but you’re kinda in charge. You can give one other player character / henchman an extra non-attack, non-spellcasting action ((i.e. anything else than “roll to hit, roll for damage” or “cast a spell”) once per fight. Re-rolling this gives one more action per fight to share.
(to clarify: that’s “one action per battle”, not “one action per character per battle”.)

56-57: Things you hit tend to stay hit. add +1 to damage you do. If you roll this again, increase the bonus by 2, so second roll is +3, third +5, fourth +7, and so on.

58-59: +2 to Breath saves (or Reflex or whatever, if you’re playing a system that uses that – the one that helps with getting out of the way).

60-61: +2 to Poison saves (or Fortitude, or whatever represents toughness and good health).

62-63: Not your first rodeo. If you observe a creature you’re fighting for a round (meaning you spend a round in melee without rolling to attack) or take the aim action for missile attacks, your next attack against that thing does triple damage (or adds two “weapon dice”, with any possible bonuses). The target creature needs to have some sort of reasonable fleshy anatomy for this to work, so no go on golems or oozes or stuff like that.
This works once per opponent, unless you roll it multiple times. In that case you get extra damage attacks equal to the number of times you’ve hit this entry. No need to observe the same target twice, either.

64-65: Dirty fighter. You know better than to fight fair. Once per encounter, you may declare that you are fighting dirty before rolling to hit – you get +2 to-hit for your next attack, and if it hits the target is stunned for d3 rounds (as if they were surprised and unable to act, so your backstabby friends might want to take advantage of that) in addition to taking regular damage due to getting sand in their eyes, a pommel to the temple, a knee to the groin etc. The target needs to have discernible weak point for this to work. If you get this again, reroll.

66-67: The sword is but a tool. Your unarmed attacks do d4+Strength modifier damage. If you roll this again, it’s d6, then d8, and so forth. Re-roll if you’d be upgrading from d12.

If you get your Strength to all damage anyway, and/or the regular unarmed is d4 already, start with a d6 or something?

68-69: All that scar tissue seems to be working out for you. +1 AC for having boot leather for skin. Reroll if you get this again – you’re just a human after all, not a goddamn lizardman.

70-71: This is my weapon. pick one type of weapon you’re familiar with. You get +2 to-hit with all weapons of that type (like swords, axes, bows etc. – keep it generic). Pick another type on re-rolls, or take advantage to damage with it. Your choice.

72-73: Get an extra attack, split attack bonus between the two strikes. Re-roll if you get this result a second time.
Alternatively, if your Ref doesn’t want class abilities that fuck with the action economy: add one die to all of your your damage rolls, but also drop the lowest roll. This can be re-rolled, unlike the extra attack option. (So if you get this twice, you roll 3d8 and take the highest roll. If you do a crit with double damage, roll four and keep two – i.e. this gives you no increase to the maximum value.)

74-75: If you have a weapon in hand, you can swat away arrows, bolts and thrown weapons with it. Treat the weapon as it was a shield against missile attacks (so +2 AC). If you roll this a second time, you can snatch the missiles out of the air and throw/shoot them back if you have a hand free and succeed on a Paralysis save (two-handed weapons are fine, and why would you carry a shield if you’ve got this?). If you get this a third time, you can deflect bullets too (but still can’t snatch them). After that, re-roll.

76-77: It’s better to lose a limb than your life. You can use the Shields Shall Be Splintered! rule on a limb of your choice – a single hit that would’ve normally killed you just maims you instead (or, you know, if you’re willing to get crippled for lesser concerns – the standard negate damage taken deal applies). Lose an arm or leg of your choice.

If you re-roll this, you can “bank” an use, or if you’ve already lost a limb, it grows back the next time you get magically healed. (Essentially, you only lose the limb when all of the available uses are gone.)

78: The rumours are true – that thing you wanted? The riding panther? The Axe of Ninety Nymphs? That king totally willing you lend you his army? The parasitic extra limb that grants you immortality? That romantic subplot? It’s there. 4 sessions worth of adventure away or less. Tell your Referee, who then must place it.
You must have a fair shot at it – like any other treasure, but there’s no guarantee you will get it. If you don’t get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However, if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. your Ref needs to think up some clever reason why.

79: You inspire awe in lesser beings. You get an exceptionally (but not supernaturally) intelligent and loyal henchman, hound or horse (or any other reasonably normal pet – your choice). They cannot be slain, kidnapped or otherwise traduced offscreen by the Ref, so you get to play out any situation in which they would get into trouble. If you re-roll this result and your previous one isn’t dead yet, add one HD to your pal.

80-81: Your crit range extends by one (so you do criticals on a natural 19 and 20 when you first get this, 18-20 the second time around, and so on).

82-83: You’ve seen some shit. Immune to fear effects. If you re-roll this, your companions get +2 to saves vs. fear if they can witness your resolve, then +4 and so on.

84-86: Pick an environment you’ve spent a lot of time fighting in: city, dungeon, wilderness, desert, sea, etc. Whatever it is, you can now anticipate wandering monsters a round ahead of time in that environment and are immune to (mundane) surprise there. If you re-roll this, pick another environment or get an extra round of anticipation, your choice.

87-88: Armour is like second skin to you. Any protection you wear counts as one step less encumbering. If you can already waltz around in full plate like it wasn’t there, reroll.

(For LotFP, this would mean that medium/chain is just an encumbering item for you instead of giving a point, and plate is as chain. If you get this twice, chain is nonencumbering and plate is just one slot, and so on.)

89-90: You can either shove a creature back ten feet or knock it prone in addition of doing your regular damage on a melee hit, if you declare your intent and take a -2 penalty to hit. They can be no larger than a bear (or an ogre, or something in that ballpark) for this to work, and they get to save vs. Paralysis to just take the damage and keep their footing. If you roll this again, no more size restrictions. Re-roll the third time you’d get this.

91-92: Even a fool can see you’re not to be trifled with. You can force a morale check on an enemy group by just staring them down, even if they outnumber you (but they should probably get a bonus of some sort in that case). This takes no action, but you can do it only once per encounter. Failure means they either run away or freeze in fear (so no fighting retreats). Only works on intelligent enemies with less HD than you (or HD1, in case you get this at first level). Treat your level as one higher than it actually is in case of rerolls.

93: Well that rash was more serious than expected. Gain a random mutation from a source of your choice. (Preferably one that is beneficial or a mixed bag, it kinda sucks to be just plain crippled as an “advancement”. I recommend The Metamorphica for helping with that.)

94-95: Get stronger/tougher/more limber. Increase a random physical attribute score by +1, up to your maximum value. If you would go over that, pick one of the other two to add to instead. If you’ve somehow maxed out everything already, no re-rolls.

96-97: Add an extra weapon damage die to critical hits. (or, increase multiplier by one if that sort of lingo pleases you.)

98-99: You know how to make blades go snicker-snack. If you roll a natural 20 against something with a head in melee and it’s level/HD is equal to or less than yours, it doesn’t have a head anymore. (Effectiveness of head loss may vary depending on the enemy, your Referee will tell you.)
Treat your level as one higher than it actually is (for purposes of decapitation only) for each re-roll of this.

Also, for whatever reason you can come up with, works with hammers and the like. (Maybe you just cave their heads in or something?)

00: Some of that wizardry seems to have rubbed off on you. You get a random Magic-user spell of d6 level that you can cast once per day as an action, but you have to roll Conduit of the Cosmos for it each time. No fucking around with custom effects, and if the spell level is higher than half your level, take the difference as a penalty to the conduit roll. (So, a 4th-level character trying to cast a 5th-level spell is going to roll 3d6-3 on the Conduit table and so on.)
Get a second spell known if you roll this again. You can still just cast one of them in a day.

One More Thing

Since you’re going to be keeping a tally of your kills anyway, might as well make that have an useful in-game benefit (like the Warrior does). So:

Keep a tally of monsters/combatants you kill (that is, you land the killing blow on) by species (or race, or group, or general type – Ask your Ref if killer bees and giant ants and whatnot are close enough to be the same thing or not). Once per encounter with that species, the Sellsword’s player may assess the creature. You assess by rolling a d100:

  • if the tens die is under the number slain, the player gets to know the AC, current hit points, and attack bonus of the those creatures in the encounter
  • if the whole percentile result is lower than the number slain, the player knows what the creature(s) will do in the next round of combat (action taken, and target, if any.)

Swarms don’t count for the tally, and number of kills in excess to 90 is just bragging rights.

The Light version

So, what if you’re not that hot for the random save advancement?

Just start with the regular 1st-level saves of the Fighter class in your system, and roll a d30 once on this trimmed-down table for every level you have instead of improving your attack bonus. Advance saves and hit points on schedule just like you’d do normally.

Note: the idea here is to make the class less chaotic by removing the randomized save progression. Since there’s a bit less of “extra” rolls, some specials with less-than permanent gains have been trimmed, and some results are made slightly stronger.

That kill score rule above also applies.

Light Table:

chamonkee_warrior

Source: Will Kirkby

1-10: +1 to-hit.

11: You can give one of your companions a single non-attack, non-spellcasting action once per encounter. (see 54-55 above)

12: +1 to all damage rolls. extra +2 on top of that for each re-roll.

13: If you spend one round in melee without attacking, or take the aim action for missile weapons, your next attack against that opponent deals triple damage. Only works once per opponent per fight, and the target needs to have a discernible weak point. See 62-63 above for details and what to do on rerolls.

14: Dirty fighting. You can stun enemies for d3 rounds on a successful attack with +2 to-hit once per combat, if you declare it before rolling. See entry 64-65 above for details.

15: Increase the damage die size of your unarmed attacks by one. Also add your Strength modifier to unarmed damage if it isn’t a thing already. Reroll if your damage die is already a d12.

16: +1 to AC, to a maximum of +1 – if you’ve been here already, re-roll.

17: +2 to-hit with a specific type of weapon, of your choice. On rerolls, choose a different type or get advantage to damage for an old one.

18: Gain an extra attack per round. You need to split your attack bonus between the two attacks. Re-roll if you get this again.
OR
Add one damage die to all your attacks, but drop lowest (i.e. you have 5e-type Advantage on damage rolls). This can be rolled multiple times for more dice to be rolled and dropped.

19: You can deflect missiles. When you have a weapon in hand, it counts as a shield for missile attacks. See entry 74-75 above for elaboration and what to do with rerolls.

20: Can use Shields Shall be Splintered! on a limb. See entry 76-77 above for details.

21: Like second skin. Armour is less encumbering for you. See 87-88.

22: You can stare down a group of enemies to force a morale check on them. See entry 91-92 for details.

23: Critical hit range extends by one.

24: Immune to fear. Companions that can see you get +2 to their saves vs. fear for each re-roll.

25: Pick an environment. (city, dungeon, desert etc.) You cannot be surprised there, and can anticipate wandering monsters one round ahead of time. If you re-roll this, pick another environment. (Also, see entry 84-86.)

26: You can shove or knock prone an opponent in addition to dealing damage, like in entry 89-90 above.

27: +1 to a random physical attribute score. If the new score would be greater than your maximum value (usually 18, but I’ve no idea what sort of house rules you’re running so you do you), pick one out of the other two and increase that instead.

28: Critical hit multiplier goes up by one / crits do an extra weapon die of damage.

29: Attacks with a natural 20 decapitate, or cave heads in or whatever. see entry 98-99 above.

30: Learn a spell, see entry 00 above.

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Cutting up the Random Classes

(Mathnerding inbound, the exciting bits to be posted later.)

The random advancement classes by Zak have gotten quite popular in the last couple of months – Jeff and a couple of others have filled out the roster of standard classes, and added all sorts of racial prestige classes and whatnot there as well. Check it.

Edit: here’s the fighter variant.

I thought I’d have a critical look of the originals and try to improve them a bit. Without further ado:

The Basics

In general, when using a random advancement class, the following things are replaced by rolling on a table:

Linear save progression rates – Fighters and demihumans (with the exception of LotFP halfling) improve their saves every three levels, Specialists and Clerics every four levels, and Magic-users every five levels, as illustrated below.

LotFP_save_cheatsheet

click here for a comparison of LotFP & Moldvay B/X save charts and the breakdown of their advancement.

Saves generally improve by +2 with increases in every category, with some exceptions –  most of that deviation is at the higher levels anyway, and you’re probably going to die in some horrible cave before hitting name level so making notes of the advancements of double-digit levels is mostly academic. Not going to bother with that, the focus should be in low-level play.

Anyway, this means that for a class to stay in the expected track, they probably need to get two save advances for each bracket.

Class niche abilities – Fighters have their +1 to attacks every level, Thieves have their thief ability charts, Specialists have skill points, Clerics and Magic-users (and Elves) have spell slots. Zak didn’t do demihumans, and Dwarves/Halflings pretty much just have better saves (and some neat extras like darkvision or extra stat modifiers or level-dependent skill ranks in LotFP) right out of the gate anyway. Because of that, let’s focus on the human classes.

Fighter

(or Warrior, see also Zak’s Barbarian and Ranger, and Reynaldo’s Paladin and Anti-Paladin since they’re pretty much the same.)

So. Zak’s Fighter variant…

  • assumes LotFP as the base system
  • starts out with the normal 0-level hit points and saves.
  • rolls twice on the d100 table at first level and every time they level up instead of referencing the level charts on schedule
  • get an extra class hit die every level, like usual.

There is an immediate issue with the 0-level base – LotFP array for the saves there is:

Paralyse 16, Poison 16, Breath 16, Device 15, Magic 18

and the 1st-level standard saves are:

Paralyse 14, Poison 12, Breath 15, Device 13, Magic 16

…meaning that the required rolls for for equivalency would be, at first level (assuming the LotFP “all PC’s get +1 to hit, Fighters get one extra”):

  • 1x +1 to hit (30% chance, entries 01-30)
  • 1x +2 to saves vs. Poison (2% chance, entries 60-61)
  • 2x +1 to all saves (20% chance each, entries 31-50)

…which simply cannot be done with just two rolls (as a sidenote: the Breath save would be 1 step better with those rolls). Theoretically, the Warrior could have full equivalency at 3rd level, by rolling the “+1  to-hit” advance twice with the remaining rolls, but they’d be lagging behind a bit. Also, as a minor sidenote, the 0-level LotFP Fighter has d6 for hit points.

From there on, the only deviation from the norm is the 7th-level jump for breath saves, which is possible to get from a single result on the table (entries 58-59). Effectively, the Warrior needs really specific results (namely, the both of the 2%-chance +2 to Breath and to Poison) on the table to get the same outcome as a vanilla Fighter, and even then they catch up at the late levels of each bracket until double digits.

An easy fix for this would be to use the B/X “normal man” saves as a starting base, as it is conveniently:

Paralyse 16, Poison 14, Breath 17, Device 15, Magic 18

Which makes it one point worse for Breath, evening out the initial “+1 to all saves” disparity, and is two points better for Poison, removing the need to get a low-probability result to catch up (and to spend a roll on it). Also, I’m a bit adverse to the idea of the (allegedly) toughest motherfucker in the room being as likely to drop dead from a snakebite that the Specialist (and considerably more likely than the elf or the mage.)

Other possible alternative would be to use the same structure as the Thief is using (i.e. -1 to all saves of 1st level as base) but that would make the variant stronger than the regular vanilla flavour, which isn’t really desireable either.

The 20% (+2×2%) chance of increase seems to be close enough – statistically, the Fighter should get a 2-in-6 / ~33% chance to improve their saves by one to stay on track (2 increases out of 6 rolls, bracket being 3 levels). But you’d probably be using the tables to get the special funstuff, so weighing the results too heavily towards normal is a bit dull. Attack bonus progression is also sort of close to the statistical average of 50%, considering that it’s the perceived thing to be replaced by the special results. Also, “+1 to-hit” is a boring advance, and there should be less of that – it’s a waste on a regular Fighter at higher levels anyway.

Aside from the save progression, the special entries themselves need work. There are a bunch of specific combat manoeuvres that could be just adjudicated with Gambits (see 1, 2, 3) – admittedly, that concept wasn’t around when the class was written. Some special abilities are literally worse than default combat options in the assumed baseline (see Impetuous Immortal Leaping Strike, entry 91-92 – compare and contrast LotFP charge). The “+X to Y” advances (like intimidation, hit from horseback/in unarmed combat/etc.) don’t really mesh well into the way I play games, but that might just be a different strokes for different boats – type deal going on here. And I really don’t like giving characters permanent extra attacks, as it completely fucks up the action economy.

In general, the increase damage, increase critical threat range, increase critical damage multiplier, vorpal strikes, general weird stuff (like learning a spell) and the (noncombat) abilities that aren’t overtly situational are all good.

Conclusion for improvement:

  • Use the B/X normal man saves instead of LotFP 0-level Fighter saves before rolling for advances
  • Swap the save and attack bonus probabilities – 30% and then some to saves is spot on for expected progression, plain +1 to-hit is the more boring entry.
  • Get rid of the sub-par special abilities (like leaping strike)
  • Axe or tone down the distrupting special abilities (like extra attacks)

Thief

(original table by Zak is here. Also see Alice from a Red and Pleasant Land which is kind of close.)

Like Fighters, Thieves roll twice at first level and when leveling up instead of referencing a class table for their saves and getting their class niche, which is get 2 skill points. They start with 1st-level saving throws reduced by one, and get 2 skill points with no roll at first level.

The Thief special ability tables are subject to the same general issues as the Fighter, as stated above – “+X to Y“, generic allowances for stuff that could be gambits, and so on. However, there’s a good number of actual special moves and situationally useful abilities that are good. Special mentions for bad filled go to the following entries:

  • 81: level-up advancement that gives you rather trivial stuff.
  • 86: get an expensive thing.
  • 87: assuming LotFP as base once again, this is just letting you do a thing you can already do with less restriction.

As the Specialist has a 4-level advancement bracket, the chance to get an overall save increase hit should be 1-in-4 (with 2 rolls per level). 20% for overall and 1% each for Poison +2 and Breath +2 (albeit with added utility for both) feels a bit slim. The 50% for skill points is also as expected. The starting save array as “LotFP Specialist with -1 to all” works out fine, though there is a weird anomaly with saves vs. Paralysis as the Thief can’t get that 5th-level bump from anywhere. Anyway, for reference, the reduced saves are:

Paralyse 15, Poison 17, Breath 16, Device 15, Magic 15

If we were to “fix” that wonkiness with the Paralysis (and Poison, which is scheduled to be bumped up at 5th level), the B/X tables make for a good substitute as-is, as the Thief saves with -1 there would be:

Paralyse 14, Poison 14, Breath 17, Device 15, Magic 16

…maybe mixing and matching there would be in order there.

The fact that Random Thieves have 4 levels to get +2 to all saves and they got less to catch up than fighters means that they have more things than a regular vanilla thief would (out of the eight rolls, two can go to whatever and they’re still just as good) but on the other hand, thieves kinda suck by default and they probably need that edge.

As a matter of taste, the Thief table is more on the thuggery and burglary side of thief business than being a generic Specialist, but I’ll notch that up to design choice.

Conclusion for improving Thieves:

  • Fine-tune the base saves a bit, and/or make an entry for that neglected Paralysis advance
  • Slightly raise the chance of save improvements (take from axed specials or from the skills) towards 25%
  • Maybe lower the skill improvement chance a bit – 50% takes a lot of space from the tables, and most characters using the LotFP skill rank system are quickly “good enough” in the things they want to do with their skills.
  • Get rid of the entries that do nothing or give trivial material gains.
  • Maybe do a bunch of alternate classes with their own flavour of special abilities?

Magic-user

(or Wizard/Witch)

Unlike the Warrior or Thief, Wizards progress normally on their saves and only roll when they would get a spell slot. Which is sort of boring. Why not just make their save advances random too, and have them roll more?

MU_spellslots

Spell slots.

As apparent from that table above, Wizards get a roughly one spell slot per level at low levels, and if their saves were to advance by rolling, the expected rate would be 1-in-6 in their bracket. Like Fighters and Specialists/Thieves, “get your hit points and roll twice” would be fine, with a possible reduction in the saves like Thieves have.

Maybe have them roll once at first level and give one guaranteed spell slot, mirroring the Thief structure.

In general, the Wizard list seems to have relatively high change of getting stuff that is bad, and something could be done to the entries to alleviate that.

I’m not a fan of spell slots in general (Maleficars are way more fun), but the get the spell slot as usual could be split to separate entries – get a spell slot of half caster level, get a couple of lower-level slots, and so on?

In conclusion:

  • More rolls, more random
  • Bake saves into advancement tables
  • Special entries should be interesting, yes, but not purely bad (see taboos, witch table, and such).
  • As with classes above, no permissions to do shit you can already do.

 

Clerics

Clerics are basically Wizards, with Specialist save rates.

 

I’ll try to do better shortly. Expect random core classes to start with.

Silver Standard Treasure Tables

I’ve always disliked the traditional gold standard of D&D – having five different types coinage is fiddly and the granularity of it tends to be more trouble than it’s worth. Also, it has a ridiculously low value for gold, and it’s nice to have treasures of the stuff to actually mean something.

So, instead of 100 coppers to 10 silver to 2 electrum to 1 gold to fifth of a platinum, I use Raggi’s Lamentations of the Flame Princess silver standard of 500 coppers to 50 silver to 1 gold, with silver being the thing that converts to experience on a 1:1 basis. As a bonus of doing that (in addition to value of the money making sense) there is no need for exotic bullshit currency for handling and hauling around high-value possessions.

The problem with this is that the B/X treasure type listings aren’t usable without going through several steps of conversion – so here’s a pre-converted table for simple silver-standard. (see link in caption.)

I might be redoing this with cleaner entries and maybe inclusion of trade goods/art objects etc. later, but I guess that a direct translation might be of use while you wait.