Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classes in the Twilight Empire

Designer's Notes

The Twilight Empire  campaign uses the four standard OD&D character classes, but each class has received a few tweaks, and in addition to choosing a class a player chooses a training package for his character, which grants a few bonus skills and items and one or more minor powers.

Clerics are not presumed to have military training unless they take the Templar training package. As such, the standard cleric uses only 4-sided hit dice, attacks as a magic-user, and has no armor proficiency and limited weapon proficiency. In exchange, they are given a lay on hands power, and the turn undead power has been expanded so that it includes other types of spirits besides "spirits of the dead".

Fighters receive a "fighter ability", which is a low-powered skill or feat giving them training in a particular weapon or attack form, such as jousting or grappling.

Mages have been given the power to create magical talismans given sufficient time and money; these function as standard OD&D scrolls, but the physical item used to create a talisman (such as a medallion or fetish) can be re-enchanted after the stored spell has been expended (although additional time and money must be spent to re-enchant the item).

Thieves have been given superior hit dice and attack progression, and most of their thief abilities are treated as skills. In Twilight Empire, skills are tested with a simple ability roll, with a bonus equal to the character's experience level. De facto, this gives low-level thieves a much higher chance to use their abilities successfully than standard OD&D thieves.

Characters are also given ability bonuses and bonus skills as they advance in level. The ability bonuses help compensate for the fact that 1st level characters often have low ability scores (rolled on 3d6--or assign the following scores as desired: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13), and to reflect the fact that higher level characters customarily have higher ability scores in published OD&D supplements. 

Advancing in level gives a character a small number of "elective skills". Skills represent background knowledge or non-adventuring knowledge gained through experience; mechanically, as mentioned, they give a bonus to relevant ability rolls at the referee's discretion. 

All classes use the same experience table (adapted from Empire of the Petal Throne, p. 27). The table stops at 9th level; I haven't decided what to do yet with higher level characters, but additional hit dice will probably stop around 9th level (to be replaced with a fixed bonus, as in standard OD&D), and the XP needed to increase a level will start increasing arithmetically rather than geometrically at the same time. 

The motivations for these tweaks are various. Clerics had to be changed to more accurately reflect priests in most traditional societies; OD&D-style warrior priests did exist, but they're less common in history than their non-militant brethren, whether Christian canons, Jewish rabbis, Muslim clerics, Buddhist monks and nuns, or what have you. The fighter powers are a less-overpowered version of the feats from later editions of D&D, and selecting a power adds a little background or depth to the fighter character. Talismans can usefully make up for the fact that low-level mages cast very few spells per day. Thieves have been amplified across the board to make them more balanced with other classes, especially at mid-level and above. The standard XP table was chosen mainly to make it easier to try to balance members of classes at each XP level, and so that the table could be easily memorized.

Classes Overview

Class Statistics Table

Class
Prime
Requisite
Hit
Dice
Base Attack
Bonus
Armor
Proficiency
Weapon
Proficiency
Class
Powers
Cleric (C)
wisdom
1d4
+1 per 3 levels
none
club
dagger
mace
staff
cast spells
lay on hands
spirit ward
Fighter (F)
strength
1d8
+1 per level
all
all
abilities
Mage (M)
intelligence
1d4
+1 per 3 levels
none
dagger
staff
cast spells
create magic items
create talismans
Thief (T)
dexterity
1d6
+1 per 2 levels
brigandine
helmet
quilted
all
backstab
detect secret bonus
hear noise bonus
thief skills

Prime Requisite

A character must have a score of 9 or higher in his class’s prime requisite.

Hit Dice (HD)

The type of die rolled to determine the character’s maximum hit points score. A character receives one hit die of the stated type per experience level. For example, a 9th level cleric has 9d4 hit points.

Each hit die roll is modified by a character’s constitution adjustment. However, a negative constitution adjustment does not reduce a hit die roll below 1.

A character’s current hit points fall below his maximum hit points score when he takes damage.

Base Attack Bonus (BAB)

A character’s class determines the rate at which his base attack bonus increases. BAB is added to a character’s attack roll along with other modifiers.

Armor Proficiency

A character’s class determines which kids of armor he is proficient with. If a character wears non-proficient armor, he suffers a -2 penalty to rolls involving physical actions (including attack rolls, constitution rolls, dexterity rolls, and strength rolls, but not including damage rolls).

A cleric or mage who wears non-proficient armor is unable to cast spells. Nonhuman multi-classed clerics or mages are able to cast spells if using proficient armor.

Weapon Proficiency

A character receives a -2 penalty on attack rolls when attacking with a non-proficient weapon.


Experience Level

Experience Points

Player characters earn experience points (XP) by winning treasure and defeating foes. The reward is 1 XP per 1 groat worth of treasure, or 10 XP per hit die of foe defeated.

Earning experience points increases a character’s experience level in a class. This increases the character’s number of hit dice, base attack bonus, ability bonuses, elective skills, and class powers (such as casting spells).

A character receives one hit die and one ability bonus per experience level. A character receives one elective skill at 1st level and an additional elective skill for every four levels advanced. Improvements in class powers vary by class.

Experience Table

XP Level
XP Required
Ability
Bonuses
Elective
Skills
1
0
1
1
2
2,000
2
1
3
4,000
3
1
4
8,000
4
1
5
16,000
5
2
6
32,000
6
2
7
64,000
7
2
8
128,000
8
2
9
256,000
9
3

Elective Skills

An elective skill is chosen by the player rather than being determined by his character’s race, background package, class, or training package. A character’s elective skill at 1st level must be one that he could have learned based on his homeland, background, and social level (referee’s discretion). Subsequent elective skills can be learned either through self-study or through training at the hands of an expert. In general, it takes at least three months of training to learn a skill, or at least a year of self-study.

Ability Bonuses

An ability bonus is a +1 bonus to one ability score. A character’s ability bonus at 1st level is determined by his race or background package. Subsequent ability bonuses can be chosen by the player, but must either match his use of abilities during play (referee’s discretion) or be else be preceded by a period of deliberate training or self-study, as for learning an elective skill.

Tiers

Player characters are divided into four tiers based on experience level: low-level (1-4), mid-level (5-8), high-level (9-12), and very high level (13+). These tiers are useful for the referee when designing dungeons and other places of adventure.