Friday, February 19, 2016

New Class: Dungeon Hacker

by Yoshitaka Amano
You are a dungeon hacker.  You hack dungeons.  You do this by lying to ghosts.

Design Notes: What does a hacker do in Shadowrun?  I don't know; I've never even played it.  But I imagine a very information-based class, with perhaps a little bit of control thrown in.  A class that is powerful within a narrow domain (computers, places with video cameras stuck on the walls and electronic doors) and sort of useless outside of that.  So, this is a D&D version of that same concept.

I would say base this class on the thief, but use the XP progression of the fighter.

Level 1 - Speak With Dead, Bottled Ghosts
Level 2 - Hack And Slash

Speak With Dead

You can cast speak with dead a number of times per day equal to your level.

Bottled Ghosts

Bottled ghosts are the source of your power.  You start with two bottled ghosts.  Your bottled ghosts are basically spells: you let them out of their bottles to use them, and they return at the witching hour.

Each time you reach a new dungeon (or any place someone has died), you can acquire a new bottled ghost.  Suitable areas include: dungeons (because people have always died in dungeons), old battlegrounds, and cemeteries.

The first time you enter one of these areas, you can contact the friendliest ghost (or at least, the least unfriendly) who will join you if you perform a service for them.  It basically goes like this:

You: "Hail, ghost!  I am a cleric of your religion or perhaps a descendant of yours!  I've come to set things right!"

Ghost: "Oh good, I was starting to get lose all hope and sanity.  Well, now that you're here, I'm sure you'll. . . " [roll a d6]

1. Give me an appropriate burial.
2. Give someone else an inappropriate burial.
3. Avenge me!
4. Transport my remains.
5. Bring some item to my surviving family.
6. Consecrate some room in the dungeon.

by Andrew Chen
In this context, an (1) appropriate burial can be as simple as finding their bones (now scattered across a cavern and gnawed by piercers) and burying them outside the dungeon, accompanied by a small funeral.  You must have a funeral.  That's the most important part.

Also remember that the ghost can be the spirit of a person who has been raised as undead.  ("See that skeleton!  That's my skeleton!  Go get it to stop walking around and go put it back in coffin #22 in the diamond-shaped tomb!  Then say some nice words--I wasn't a jerk when I was alive.)

The ghost might want you to bury themselves, or they might want an appropriate burial for their friend.  Or they might want (2) someone else desecrated.  If you were killed by an orc who later died in the same dungeon, wouldn't you want someone to dig up his corpse, piss on him, and re-bury him upside down?

DM Advice: Just pick a random bunch of humanoid remains in your dungeon, and slap a name on them.  Either pick the most interesting corpse in the dungeon, or compile a list of all the corpses in the dungeon and then roll for one randomly.  Remember that animate undead count as corpses.

If the ghost wants you to avenge it, pick a monster randomly in the dungeon.  That's the monster that killed your friendly ghost.  You must kill it and desecrate its corpse.

They might want you to (4) transport their remains back to their home town, so they can be buried alongside their wife, or whatever.  Similar to this is (5) transporting their belongings back.

DM Advice: Roll a d6 to see how close the town is, with 1 being the closest town and 6 being on the other fucking side of the world.  Decide on the item the same way you decided on a corpse.  Slap a hat pin on it, if need be, and make sure that there is someone at the far side to receive the item (like a tearfully-grateful orphan and her three-legged dog).

If you must (6) consecrate a room in the dungeon, this means you need to clean out all the evil altars and glowing skulls, and instead construct a altar to the same god as the ghost worshiped in life.  This usually requires a day of work.  You also have to smash the evil altar to smithereens.

DM Advice: Which room requires consecration?  Why, it's the room with the evil altar of course.  If multiple rooms have evil altars, roll for it.  If there is no room with an evil altar, pick whichever one seems most mystical OR whichever one would be the biggest pain in the ass.  Not necessarily the deepest room where the balor lives--it's better to reconsecrate the room of the morlock priest.

Hack And Slash

When you roll initiative in a combat, pick one of the undead enemies and roll a d10.  For every point less than your HD, you get a +1 to hit and damage against that enemy.  For example, if you roll a 2 and your level is 4, you get +2 to hit and damage against the undead you designated.  This represents your preternatural exploitation of its weaknesses based on your prior knowledge, and/or the interference of local ghosts.

You can use this ability against non-undead foes, if desired, but the bonus to hit and damage is halved (round down).

by mondracon


In some dungeons, it may be prohibitively difficult to obtain the ghost.  Perhaps the body is buried too deeply, or the room to be consecrated is too dangerous.  That's okay.  That's part of the class.

But, if you do bottle that ghost, you can slap that bottle onto your bandolier, and now you've got a new daily spell.

Here are the spells. [d6]

1. Analyze
2. Clairvoyance
3. Control
4. Lighting
5. Lock
6. Map

Analyze -- By expending an Analyze ghost, you can designate any (known) monster in the dungeon, and learn either (a) it's greatest weakness, (b) it's greatest power, (c) what it desires most of all.  If you expend two Analyze ghosts, you can learn all three of these things.  If you have at least three Analyze ghosts on your belt (expended or not) you can tell if a monster has more, less, or equal HD than you, with only a glance.

Clairvoyance -- By expending a Clairvoyance ghost, you can see through any known point within the dungeon (the far side of a door or wall counts as a known point).  You can also just ask to see a random room (the DM will roll for it).  If you expend two Clairvoyance ghosts, you can also hear through the clairvoyance sensor, and your sight includes darkvision.  If you have at least three Clairvoyance ghosts on your belt (expended or not), you no longer have any penalties for fighting unseen opponents (although you still cannot see them).

Control -- By expending a Control ghost, you can cause an unintelligent, corporeal undead to obey your commands if it fails a save; this lasts as long as you are willing to lie on the ground like a limp noodle.  By expending two Control ghosts, you can cause an unintelligent, corporeal undead to obey your commands permanently if it fails a save.  Alternatively, you can use two Control ghosts to cast charm undead.  If you have at least three Control ghosts on your belt (expended or not), you can use speak with dead at will.

Lighting -- By expending a Lighting ghost, you can light or extinguish all of the light sources in a room.  If a room has no potential light sources (no torch sconces on the walls), a glowing orb will appear in the center of the room.  By expending two Lightning ghosts, you can illuminate a room with such intensity that it functions as a turn undead effect (as if cast by a cleric of your level).  All of these lightning effects last for two hours.  If you have at least three Lighting ghosts on your belt (expended or not), you have darkvision.

Lock -- By expending a Lock ghost, you can lock or unlock any (known) door in the dungeon, as knock and wizard lock respectively.  By expending two Lock ghosts, you can "tame" a door, so that it is always unlocked for you and locked for monsters (and trapped, if applicable).  If you have at least three Lock ghosts on your belt (expended or not), you can tell if a door is locked with a glance, as well as the quality of the lock.

Map -- By expending a Map ghost, you can map out three new rooms on the map.  (Basically just pick an unopened door, and the DM will map the room behind that door.  Then do that two more times.)  By expending two Map ghosts, this will also reveal any secret doors.  These effects just manifest as ink lines appearing in the party's map.  If you have at least three Map ghosts on your belt (expended or not), you can cast shitty teleport at will.

New Spells

Shitty Teleport
Level 2 Wizard Spell
Teleports the caster, and creatures touching the caster, out of the dungeon.  Each creature teleported in this way has a 50% chance of losing a random item, which remains in the room that was teleported from.  Those teleported arrive scattered within a mile of each other.  Each person has a 1-in-6 chance of arriving 1d6*1d6 hours later (with no perception of the lost time).

by Yoshitaka Amano


  1. Bottled ghost, I think there was a Tim Powers book that included that as a concept.

  2. So ghosts never go away? Are you afraid of that getting out of control power wise?

    1. I'm actually more worried about the hacker being underpowered. At high level, the wizard is disintegrating doors and casting wall of stone, while the dungeon hacker is still just locking and unlocking doors.

      Besides, bottles are items that can be broken or stolen or lost (such as by the shitty teleport).

    2. Is there a limit to the number of bottled ghosts that can be kept at any one time?

  3. Is this a typo?
    "Analyze -- By expending a Lock ghost, "

  4. I like the shitty teleport spell. Very awesome. :)

  5. Please consider: writing on the walls with blood, remotely breaking fragile objects, and preventing dungeon inhabitants from getting a good night's sleep via nightmare, apparition, or racket. Perhaps at higher levels (7th+? ) there could be a separate table with abilities relating to inflicting fear or paralysis, possession of living enemies, cursing objects upon which your foes rely, and inflicting death curses (like, they lose 1 hp per hour for days at a time, only heal half the normal amount when magically healed, something like that).

    1. Also, like, that shitty teleport spell is what this game has needed basically forever.