Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Class: Poet / Storyteller

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1

by Kay Nielson
So, I was trying to brainstorm a class for Abasinia, the most Arabian Nights-ish place in Centerra.

At first I wanted a prince/princess, but nobility classes always get weird.  Plus, it's usually better to say "I'm a prince and a wizard" than "My class is prince".  But whatever.  I might revisit that later, in terms of Prince Without a Country, maybe.

Then, I thought about making a swordsman class, but I hate specialization (from a design standpoint).  If I gave a fighter +2 when using swords but -2 for any other weapon, then there's a huge disincentive to use any other weapon.  I like adding abilities that give players more options, not limiting themselves (even though it can be interesting and balanced, I guess).

So, then I starting thinking about Storytellers, which reminded me of bards.  So I guess this is another attempt to make bards cool.  (It's my Higgs boson.)

Digression About Clerics

I think that people dislike playing clerics because in any combat or adventure, there's a sort of tax, where at least one player needs to do the uninteresting-but-essential tasks, like healing or putting out the camel when it catches on fire.  Someone needs to do it, but it's a little boring.

It's odious for two reasons: first, you need to spend a turn doing that healing stuff, and secondly, you (are sometimes encouraged to) specialized in that.  "Well, the party needs a cleric." etc.

Anyway, this is a partial solution to the first of those two problems.

If Bob the Fighter needs healing, why should the cleric spend a turn healing him?  Why can't Bob just use the cleric's class ability to heal himself (so he spends a turn doing the boring healing, giving the cleric the option to do something else cool).

the guy in the back is Felix
he is often pointed to as an example of a Cool Bard
but he never plays a lute
that's because he's not a bard
he is a POET
Poet / Storyteller Class

Base them on the cleric in whatever system you like best, then subtract all of the spellcasting and turn undead and add this stuff.

Basic Class Abilities: Boast, Scroll Use, Literary Memory, Compositions

Every Odd-numbered Level: Language Mastery

Every Even-numbered Level: Favored Type of Poem


Whenever you finish an adventure, you can go into a tavern (or other public place full of people) and tell the story.  This is a group activity, and everyone at the table is expected to participate (like when the poet is telling about the troglodytes, the fighter could chime in to describe how bad they stunk up close).  At the end, everyone in the party gets XP equal to 10% of whatever the adventure was worth and a free round of drinks (usually).

Scroll Use
As a wizard.

Literary Memory
You are so good at memorizing and quoting books, that you have a "mental bookshelf" that can hold one book per level.  So at level 3, you've memorized three books, more-or-less.  Doesn't work on magic books or spell books.

You can compose poems / stories.  These are sort of analogous to spells.  The maximum number of compositions you can have prepared at any given time is equal to twice your poet level.

To compose a poem / story, a significant event must first happen in the game.  The term "significant" is left to the DM's discretion, but any large obstacle, life-threatening event, or significant milestone counts.  Odds are, there will be several significant events each session.  After the significant event, the poet or storyteller announces that they will be composing something, then roll on the Inspiration table to see what sort of inspiration they get (analogous to a wizard rolling to see what spell they will prepare).  Part of composing is telling it out loud.

It's a bit like the wizard casting system except you prepare them after a significant event.  They are performed (cast) the first time that they are read aloud.  It takes you 10 minutes to perform a poem.

Language Mastery
Mastering a language is more than fluency--it is the ability to to touch people's souls with your words.  Your spells (defensive or offensive or whatever) only affect targets that understand a language you have mastered.  Your poems / stories have no effect on creatures without any language.  Every odd-numbered level, you can turn one of your known languages into a mastered language.

Favored Type of Poem
Normally when you compose a poem (after a significant event), the type of the poem is chosen at random.  When you gain a favored type, pick a type of poem.  Henceforth, when you compose a poem, you can choose between composing a favored type of poem, or a random poem.  A favored poem must be from numbers 1-20 on the list below.

by Ferenc Helbing
Types of Poems
You don't always choose your own inspiration.  Roll a d20 to determine which type of poem you compose.  Every even-numbered level, you gain access to a new type of poem.  You simultaneously pick a new favored poem, so there are always 20 poems to choose from.  Remember that they all take 10 minutes to compose or perform (but only a single action to invoke).

>Simple Poems
These are most like spells.  You "prepare" them by composing them and "cast" them when you read them.  They are sort of like scrolls that you scribe, that no one else can cast except for you.

>Glyph Poems
These are just glyphs.  You write the poem on any flat surface: piece of paper, floor tile.  You need to provide your own pen and ink.  The poem is triggered the first time it is read, or the first time a creature passes over it (within 3 feet).

>Destiny Poems
Fate favors a poet.  After this poem is performed, a certain fate is created.  A moment of unrealized potential.  Later, any one of the people who heard the poem can invoke it, which then causes the intended effect to materialize. For example, a poet could compose a poem about a critical hit on Monday, perform it on Tuesday morning, and then one of the listeners can activate it on Tuesday night to turn a hit into a critical hit.  Once a poem is performed, it must be invoked before the day is over, or it is lost.

again, a poet
not a bard
1. Simple: Command the Word - Create, destroy, rearrange, hide, or reveal any text within line of sight.

2. Simple: Tongues - As tongues.

3. Simple: Read the Word - You can read all languages, including magic stuff (as read magic).  Lasts 2 hours.

4. Simple: Universal Forgery - You create a perfect forgery of any written object, even if you don't know what the original document looks like.

5. Simple: Suggestion - As suggestion.

6. Simple: Love - Two targets compare to see who has the better save vs charm person.  Whichever one has the better save makes a save against charm person.  If they fail the save, they both fall in love with each other, permanently.

7. Simple: Commune - As commune.

8. Glyph: Curse of No Poetry - Target loses all language (spoken, written, understood) and can only communicate by representations (drawing of an apple) and not symbols (words for apple).  They have a 25% chance to fumble any spellcasting.  Save negates.

9. Glyph: Fire - Target takes 1d6 damage and catches on fire.  Save negates.

10 Glyph: Paralyzation - Target is paralyzed for 1d6 rounds (as ghoul ability).  Save negates.

11. Glyph: Sleep - Target falls asleep for 1d6 hours (as sleep).  Save negates.

12. Glyph: Weakness - Target gets -2 attack and AC until the end of the day.  Save negates.

13. Destiny: Aggression - Free action.  Invoke when you hit someone in combat.  The hit turns into a critical hit.

14. Destiny: Defense - Free action.  Invoke when an enemy hits you in combat.  The hit turns into a miss.

15. Destiny: Glory - Free action.  At the end of this encounter, everyone votes on which character was MVP.  That character gets double XP for the encounter.

16. Destiny: Survival - Free action.  Invoke to get +10 on a single save.

17. Destiny: Escape - Invoke to automatically escape from a grapple or bindings.

18. Destiny: Healing - As cure light wounds.

19. Destiny: Lucky Find - You find some minor item in some feasible location.  For example, you could declare that you are going to find a rope in the next room, and unless the next room is actually a portal to the tentacle dimension, you will.

20. Destiny: Rat - A rat approaches from someplace not infeasible.  (A rat could come out of a bush, or from a crack in the wall.  This poem is obviously much less useful in outer space.)  The rat does one round of actions that the invoker chooses (such as chew through a rope or bite someone) then behaves exactly as a wild rat would.


21. Destiny: Tiger (available at level 2) - Just like destiny: rat, except with a tiger.

22. Glyph: Transformation (available at level 4) - If the target fails a save, they are turned into a goat, monkey, camel, or a songbird (determined randomly).

23. Simple: Remove Curse (available at level 6) - As remove curse.

24. Glyph: Curse of Living Poetry (available at level 8) - If the target fails a save, they are turned into a poem printed on a piece of paper.  They are in stasis.  They are released only when the new poem is read in its entirety.

25. Simple: Mass Charm (available at level 10) - All who hear your performance must save or be charmed.

there's no reason this guy can't write magic poems on the side

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