Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Friday, July 16, 2010

More Monky Business

As I mentioned in a recent post, I've been struggling, of late, with the Monk class.  I want to include the class and I want to capture its spirit as described in the Blackmoor supplement, but I want it to fit in with the other, fairly parsimonious, classes of Swords & Wizardry.  This is where the Blackmoor monk failed, in my opinion.  Reading it over, it feels shoe-horned into D&D in a 'one of these things is not like the others' sort of way.

I decided that what I needed to do was pare away all the extraneous abilities and focus on just a few fundamental abilities that capture the essence of the Monk without bogging it down in a morass of tacked-on rules and way too many class features.  The trick is deciding what, exactly those essential features are and how to achieve them.  While mulling it over, I've been playing Diablo for the first time in about ten years, with the Hellfire expansion installed, which allows one to play a Monk character.  So I've been happily working through the multi-level mega dungeon, whacking monsters with my staff and immersing myself in a Monkish mindset.  I've even gone so far as to listen to my favourite British punk band:

The Monks were a fairly obscure band that never really took off, except in Canada where, for some reason, they were fairly popular and when I was in high school I played this album so often, and loudly, that I'm surprised it didn't drive my parents insane.  It's the sort of music that I would find absolutely intolerable as a parent, today.  But, I digress.

The biggest issue I needed to tackle was to bring the Monk's open hand attacks more in line with other classes.  As originally presented in Blackmoor, by 16th level, the Monk was making 4 attacks per round dealing 4-40 points of damage each!  In S&W, only the Fighter gets more than one attack per round, and even then, only against creatures of 1 HD or less, and weapon damage is capped at 1d6.  Power levels are low and I'd like to keep it that way, but I still want open hand attacks to improve in effectiveness as the Monk levels.  I use a house rule for two-handed weapon damage that I stole from Philotomy's OD&D Musings; roll 2d6 and pick the highest die roll.  This might work well for increasing open hand damage at higher levels; simply increase the number of dice rolled, allowing the player to take the highest score.  Likewise, I allow any character to dual-wield weapons, allowing them to make a single melee attack at +1 to hit (another house rule shamelessly stolen from Philotomy), and since it can be assumed that the Monk will be making unarmed attacks with hands, feet, knees, elbows, etc. they would always be assumed to be dual-wielding and will, therefore, always receive the +1 bonus to hit with open hand attacks.

I've eliminated thief abilities (the Blackmoor Monk was a better thief than the Thief), and the ability to speak with plants and animals.  I've also rolled all the various immunities to mind-controlling effects, like Geas/Quest spells into a +2 bonus to save against all mind-control effects.

So, here is what I've come up with:

The Monk Class


Level

XP

HD

Title
1

0

1

Novice
2

2,250

2

Initiate
3

4,500

3

Brother
4

9,000

3+1

Disciple
5
18,000

4

Immaculate
6

36,000

5

Master
7

72,000

6

Master of Dragons
8

144,000

6+1

Master of North Wind
9

288,000

7

Master of West Wind
10

576,000

8

Master of South Wind
11

250,000 per level
+1 hp per level

Master of East Wind
12


Master of Winter
13


Master of Autumn
14


Master of Summer
15


Master of Spring
16


Grandmaster of Flowers

Table 9: Monk Ability Table
Level

Armour Class

Move

Open Hand Damage*
Special Abilities
1

9

12”

1d6
Deflect Missiles
2

8

13”

1d6

3

8

14”

1d6

4

7

15”

1d6

5
7

16”

2d6
Feign Death; Slow Fall I
6

6

17”

2d6

7

6

18”

2d6
Heal Self
8

5

19”

2d6
Slow Fall II
9

5

20”

2d6

10

4

22”

3d6

11

4
24”

3d6
Slow Fall III
12
3
26”
3d6

13
3
28”
3d6
Quivering Palm
14
2
30”
3d6

15
1
32”
3d6

16
0
34”
3D6

* When rolling two or three dice for damage only the highest single die roll is kept; the dice totals are not added together.

Monk Abilities

Weapon/Armour Restrictions: Monks may use any weapon, but may not wear armour or carry a shield.

Vow of Poverty: A Monk may never own more than 5 magic items, and may only keep enough treasure to support himself and his followers.  All excess treasure must be donated to a church, monastery, or charitable cause.  Other player characters are not charitable causes.

Saving Throw: Monks gain a +2 bonus to save against any effect that targets the mind.

Open Hand Attacks: When fighting unarmed, any ‘to hit’ roll that succeeds by 5 or more will stun the opponent for 1d6 rounds unless they make a successful Constitution save.  When fighting unarmed, the Monk may decide whether to deal normal or subdual damage.

Deflect Missiles: The Monk may deflect any non-magical thrown or missile attacks with a successful Dexterity save.

Feign Death: Beginning at 5th level the Monk may slow his heart rate and breathing to such an extent that he appears to be dead.  He can maintain this state for a number of turns equal to 1d6 x level.

Slow Fall: Beginning at 5th level, Monks may slow their fall if within a certain distance of a vertical surface.  Slow Fall I – Monks may fall 20’ if within 2’ of a vertical surface.  Slow Fall II – Monks may fall 40’ if within 4’ of a vertical surface.  Slow Fall III – Monks may fall any distance if within 6’ of a vertical surface.

Heal Self: Once per day beginning at 7th level, a Monk may heal 1d6+1 points of damage he has sustained.  For each level above 7th, the Monk adds +1 to the amount of damage healed.

Quivering Palm: Beginning at 13th level, the Monk learns the terrible Quivering Palm technique, which can be used once per week.  If the Monk makes a successful unarmed attack upon an opponent with equal or fewer hit dice than the Monk, he may set up vibrations in the body of the victim, which he can stop at any time up to 1 day per level of the Monk, causing death.  If the time limit expires without the death command having been given, the effect wears off, causing no damage.  This technique has no effect on undead or creatures that can be hit only by magical weaponry.

Experience Bonus for Wisdom: Monks with an above average Wisdom score receive a 5% experience point bonus.

4 comments:

DH said...

From a cursory glance, it looks good. It certainly seems to accomplish what you set out to do. You're right that the Monk is incongruous with the rest of the classes, and not just setting-wise.

I would be tempted to lower the number of magic items to three, though maybe that's a little too strict. Tweaking the movement rate increase is also tempting, but I don't remember how that worked with the Blackmoor class.

BTW, in case you haven't seen, there are a lot of SW:WB classes here. Some good originals and the usual suspects as well.

Sean Robson said...

Thanks for the comments. I was thinking of knocking the movement rate down to a more reasonable speed, otherwise I'm going to have to make 'bionic' sound effects and depict them running in slow motion.

I have seen the S&W Companion classes; they are very well done, but I wanted to create my class with out being influenced by anyone else's take, so I used Blackmoor as my soul point of reference. You know what happens when you photocopy a photocopy...

Anyway, my Monk class is still a work in progress, but at least I have a working model now to fiddle with.

Shane Mangus said...

Nice work, Sean. Your write-up looks like it should work with no problems. I admire how you have stayed true to your original goal, which was to stay as close to OD&D as possible

Anonymous said...

[url=http://hairtyson.com]online Phen375[/url] are tablets that resist abridge league weight. The same of these tabs has to be captivated with drinking-water, almost 20 minutes ahead of a collation, twice a day.