Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Last of Your Kind

I understand the need and use of classes but they do give the sense that the world can be pretty cleanly categorized and cataloged.  But what if you could play a weird one-off?  This idea is for experienced players who have played all the traditional classes many times.

I'm thinking kind of like Elric, kind of like Ishi.  It's a melancholy, last-days type of thing, but also you have abilities and knowledge no one else has anymore.  But I don't have those details worked out.  I thought I'd throw it out to you. 

You could let people pick singular spells (like levitate) that they can do once a day, but then make them take a limitation normally assigned that class (no armor).  But that would make the Last One feel pretty familiar, like a hodgepodge fighter-mage.  I'm thinking something weirder.

What about mixing abilities with means.  So you might have thief''s abilities but they functions as spells (you have to pick a few each day, not all.  Do you want to be able to climb today?).  Or maybe the fighter's ability to hit multiples of low-HD creatures, but you must petition a power for it, like a miracle.

That's a little weirder.  How about we let this Last One use a monster power, like the Umber Hulk look or a siren song?

If the player is experienced they may have always wanted something-- like the beastmaster's ability to see through the eyes of animals. Sure, why not.  The idea of this is to let them do something different and new.  You could also make a chart with a lot of these possibilities and just roll randomly.

I would say they cannot train anyone in these abilities and, even if they have offspring, the traits will not be passed on.  They really are doomed to be the last.  Maybe even make it impossible for other experienced players to pick the same set of traits later.

I also feel we could make it a little more doomed by giving them something like a curse (and this could be from a chart too).  Something like: you can't die in combat but if you would have someone fighting next to you (or someone you know) dies instead.  Though it sounds powerful, that could be a real challenge to play out in a party.

What non-traditional abilities would you want if you had your choice?


  1. Not exactly what you're looking for, but I liked the system to create your own class included in the ACKS Player Companion. It gives great flexibility to merge race, classes and powers.

  2. I think what you would want to do is create a list of "minor" abilities and powers, such as low level spells, thief skills and so on, and those could be duplicated from player to player, but the "major" powers, such as higher level spell effects, and the cool class or race abilities would be one shot. Then the player picks x minor abilities, and 1 major one, and go at it. A proper setting, where the world is ending and changing all at once seems necessary for it to work properly.

  3. The Voice from Dune (or Preacher) would be cool.

    1. Miles Teg's speed-trance-thing from Heretics of Dune.
      Or even just Paul's kick-in-the-heart from the first book. That would be one kick-ass monk skill.

  4. I want to be a unicorn starfighter airbender with a Mohican.

  5. Thanks for the great comments.

    @Carlos: I'll have to check it out.

    @Lasgunpacker: I like the idea that only one person per campaign will get certain powers.

    @Andrew/Zavi: You've got me thinking of the Shout form the Riddlemaster of Hed. That would be cool to shatter a whole skeleton army with.

    @Roger: Ok . . . but you're the last! :)

  6. The Hed books so rock

  7. Frankly, some of the "extraordinary" classes are already kind of like this: paladins, rangers, druids, so on. But since they're standard fare in the books, they don't seem weird enough. I think that kind of links back to JB's discussion on subclasses and variants.

    I really like the idea of taking the standard abilities of one class, turning them sideways, and looking at them from the perspective of another class, like in your example with the theif's Climb Walls (though this seems a little like Knock as well?). For example, a barbarian type might do a lot of divination-type magic by using the charms her shaman gave her to communicate with spirits. Legend Lore, for example, or scrying.

    That curse... it's like a horrible interpretation of It Gets Worse. Devious stuff. :)

  8. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, the subclasses sort of are the same thing but familiar from years of use I suppose. And yeah, I like trying to mix categories to see if anything new comes up, something not necessarily tied to an archetype. Though, I guess a lot of this ground has been covered.

  9. When you mentioned monster abilities, Telecanter, I immediately started thinking of things that would have both benefits and drawbacks. The main one I can think of would be touch attacks, like a carrion crawler's paralysis or a rust monster's rusting ability. These would not be able to be "toggled" by the player, so one with the latter ability can't wear metal armor or hold metal objects, but would be a whiz at breaking locks. Likewize, it's hard to really interact with people if you risk paralyzing them with a handshake.

    Some other ideas: Attacks delivered through a bite would be incredibly difficult to use, and also require the character nto wear a helmet. Ray beams would probably not be approprate unless the character were like X-Men's Cyclops.

  10. A touch effect that can't be turned off is a great one, could be very tragic. And your right mutants from the comics are a nice place to look for these kind of things. Thanks!

  11. I've been trying to think a bit about "anti-classes" recently anti-illusionist could be interesting. Or an anti-magic user (possibly one of the interpretations of the barbarian - immune to magic of all kinds or can "turn" magic). Shuffling abilities sideways sounds very interesting but then you need a shelf of special class abilities (the fighter comes up short here) and also to think about why spells are limited and thief skills aren't.....

    My favourite thing from the past year is the Blue Mage, which uses the game environment as a tool:
    so far I haven't come up with many other ways to do this but it seems to me the approach has legs. A class based on adaptation to the events that happen or one which can really benefit from its environment, rather than being always in the position of the know-nothing invader. Some spells (notably Charm Person) seem to suggest a completely different approach and challenge from the usual setup - what if you had a character that could make friends with anyone? That never fought? What kinds of adventures would they have? Or someone who could build, quickly and for context - a real engineer, with sufficient materiel to make a bridge over that chasm?

    which monster ability would you like to have
    I think doppelganger could be very interesting, but it suggests a different model of play (undercover spying) not well suited to the classic motley party.

  12. Thanks for the interesting comment. I missed the Blue mage and the anti-druid, dang it! Work has been crazy, but hopefully is looking up. That blue mage is a class I'd love to try. Though, I really don't like keeping track of points. As for peaceful, do you remember ze Bulette's Yogi idea? Not sure how it would work in dungeon play but I'd be happy to let someone try it.