Showing posts with label Character Class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Character Class. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Another Character Class Idea - The Monomachos

(This is a bonus post, one I wrote back in September of 2022. I found it unposted while cleaning up.) 

Stephen Donaldson is known for using 10-dollar words when a single simple word would suffice. In his Mordant's Need series, the villain's right-hand man is The Monomach. He is one part warrior, one part assassin. 

Now I thought I knew what "monomach" meant, but it turns out I was totally wrong. I had thought it was related to nobility or being a monarch, making this guy "The Assassin King".  


It's Greek. "Monomachos" or "he who fights alone". A gladiator. That is not as cool as "The Assassin King" but makes so much more sense in context. I'd like to introduce one to a campaign. I posted as much a few years ago when I last read the series. I had a couple of ideas that I have refined over time. 

A Monomachos is like a fighter, but nothing like a regular Fighter, Elf, Dwarf, Cleric, Paladin, or Knight. They live for the fight, not for sustained warfare. 

In Donaldson's books, the Monomach is clearly evil because he assassinates people for the joy of it. When I first wrote about the character, I had a limited view of that type of character. If you didn't read that story, think of Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace without all the chattiness. Maul showed lust for fighting, maybe killing, but not for general mayhem.  

As a villain, a Monomachos only has one purpose... to cause death and terror before dying. But do they have to be the villain? 

Well, it certainly makes things easy if they are all villains. But they are not all villains.  

It was relatively easy to come up with superhero examples. Black Widow, Hawkeye, Daredevil, The Hulk, and so on come across as heroes who live for the thrill of the fight. To a lesser extent, you could add Tony Stark and Spider-Man to the list, but then also remove the MCU Black Widow because she was starting to believe the fight was too much of a bother. Hawkeye was also heading that way, only to be replaced by Kate Bishop which allowed him to leave the hero act behind. Baymax would be an interesting and scary addition to that list because he follows his programming as if it were a joy. 

Oddly, the Punisher is not a Monomachos as he has a different purpose for what he is doing. Fighting and aggression are not really his "thing". He is sorting criminal corpses into their proper circle of hell. It's a completely different purpose. He doesn't have to fight, just kill. 

So what about non-superheroes? 

Well, the list is short. Peter Pan, The Three Musketeers, Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, Legolas, and Glimly. And my brain screeches to a halt there. I guess I could name more, but that is good enough. 

The surprising people from those two lists are Spider-Man and Peter Pan because they are characters who are loved by children. It doesn't mean their drives are kid-friendly. Parker is driven to take risks and engage in violence at great personal cost. Peter Pan is slightly more disturbing. He switches sides if the fight is too easy. He kills Hook and then forgets there was a Captain Hook to kill. Both do it for the same reasons, the drive to excel with their given skill set, that are in parallel with their personal goals. 

So what commonality do these people have if we take away alignment? 

Each person is an improviser. They may use traditional weapons but are fully capable of using a brick, a candlestick, and a doorknob if necessary. They are not subject to outside influences, such as social norms and certain types of magic. Being a bit of a sociopath helps. Oddly, this deviated personality may cause them to be in more control of their feelings and desires, leading them away from wasteful fights. If the fight isn't a challenge, why do it? 

Poor or malformed social skills are a hallmark of every character listed. 

None of these characters are especially good at ordinary, everyday skills. Peter Pan and Kate Bishop can't cook. Hawkeye tends to zone out at key moments and Bruce Banner retreats from the world. Stark is made of neuroses, everything from germaphobia to being a dick even when he means to help. 

In-game, what sort of traits would these characters have? 

They should be able to use any sort of weapon and armor, even if they don't personally like specific armor and weapon types. They can also use improvised weapons. It's not their first, best option but if there is a lot of rubble around, it's better than bruising your knuckles. 

Next, they should have some unique combat skills. 

The Monomachos should rarely be surprised in combat. Perhaps only a 1 in 6 chance and this is separate from the rest of the party's roll. They are itching for a fight in every situation. If the party is surprised and The Monomachos is not surprised, they move with the enemy. This could spoil their surprise round as there is one opposing person moving as they do. The enemy had to waste their surprise round to address the Monomachos. 

Their third combat ability is to refuse contact. If the Monomachos has the initiative and makes a successful attack roll, they may either proceed to the damage roll OR spoil their attacker's next roll. This also allows them to turn and face another opponent. This prevents them from being flanked, it does not permit them an extra attack. 

Fourth, they defy outside influences. They have trait that they can't utilize magic weapons to full effect. No bonuses, but the weapon still counts as magic to inflict damage. This is because they only rely on their own skills, not the assistance of a magic weapon. Of course, if the magic weapon has a secondary power or effect that is magical, like detecting evil or light, they can use that to the fullest. It's the assistive nature that they won't do. 

Armor is different, they do receive bonuses as they can't undo or refuse its basic nature to protect.  

Cursed weapons should fear the Monomachos character. These types of people aren't subject to outside influences, therefore a cursed weapon should be just as ineffective as a positive magic weapon. A cursed weapon should try to escape their clutches because the Momomachos may choose to sacrifice a weapon to win. Intelligent things fear destruction. 

I wanted something like this when I created my Swashbuckler character class but in play testing it was impractical. Based on this new character type, I will rewrite that document. 

To recap the character: 

Surprised only on a 1 in 6. They move and attack during their opponent's surprise round if not surprised themselves. 
Can use all weapons and armor, but receive no magical bonuses for weapons.
They are immune to cursed weapons.
They can also use improvised weapons if only to save their knuckles.  
Foil attacks on a hit and turn to face other opponents instead of dealing damage. 

Let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you have already purchased my Swashbuckler class. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Current situation: Reading The Cult of Diana

I’m on laundry duty tonight. However, I’ve got a good book to read. I have Timothy S. Brannan’s The Cult of Diana - The Amazon Witch Tradition

I’m posting from my phone, so this is painful and short. 

The book is a shockingly compact 25 pages but has no lacks. It was designed for Blueholme Prentice rules, nice set of retro clone rules. The art is very nice. Ok. I love the style, but don’t want to oversell you. (I have a tendency of doing that with artwork.) Some of the art appears between the columns like newer editions of D&D, while harkening back to the old school style of first Books. Tables are neatly shaded in white and blue for maximum readability. The spells are all new and suitably themed. I was particularly taken with the spell “Surocco”. It reminds me of the Bora, a gale force wind from the Alps, which helped Theodosius' forces defeat his enemies at The Battle of the Frigidus River. It strikes me as something very preternatural something only a witch could brew up. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

First Born, Unicorn

My players have demanded some unusual characters. Based on their options, I believe that AD&D is the way to go. Page 21 of the DMG offers some advice for these unusual characters. 

I started with the Unicorn Stats from Monster Manual. AC: 2, HD: 4+4, Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d12, +2 to hit dice on a charge, charge damage is 2d12. They are immune to poison, surprise on 1-5, detect opponents out to 24", they save vs. magic as an 11th level Magic User. 

The DMG suggest limits. Cool. Limit one: The best unicorns are equal to 11th level magic users. Limit 2: The best unicorns have 4+4 hit dice at max level which equates to 36 hp.

I like those numbers. If I take 36 and divide by 11, that gives me 3.27 which is close the to average of a 1d6. The one issue I have with this is, unicorns are big animals so 1d6 at first level is too small. I'll give them the basic 1d8 for monsters and fighters at level one, but then drop the die to 1d4 for subsequent levels. Without Constitution bonuses, this will max out at 48 hp. This is a third better than the monster version, but since D&D has always had "superior" versions of standard monsters, I can work with this. 

AC is tricky. I could do a scale like monks, but decided against it. Unicorns start with AC 2 and keep that number their whole life. To balance this, I will adjust the amount of damage and attacks by level and not allow them to wear barding. At low levels they can't attack with their horns because they have an aversion to touch. As they age, they learn how to use the horn as a weapon. Also, all attacks improve as they progress through levels. Initially, they start with 1 attack per round, but later on they can get in two kicks per round. Major attacks with the horn and the bucking kick are limited to once per round. 

Since they are magical and sneaky, they will have the ability to move silently like thieves, cast spells as a natural ability and lay hands like paladins. 

I was going to type out everything, but I think a schedule will do. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fighter, Cleric, Monk, Swashbuckler

I wrote up a character class for D&D and AD&D for Swashbucklers. What the heck is a Swashbuckler?

They are fighting men who have come down from on high to lead the masses of little people in the trenches. They are trained in sword fighting. Swashbucklers name their swords, their daggers and their junk. They like to drink and have high society type parties, even if they are not of that social standing. They might have tattoos of Payton the Runner, Pele the Asskicker, or other famous fighters on their person. They can dance around in combat, picking and poking people left and right, without killing anything. They can't be flanked or backstabbed when dancing about like this, nor can magic users concentrate when in close quarters with them.

In fact, the only way they can kill is by rolling a natural 20, monologuing for bit and if the person doesn't run away or surrender during "The Talk", they will stab them through the heart for double damage. On the off-chance they are forced to use lethal combat, they fight like thieves and clerics, without the backstabbing, heavy armor and magic.

So how does that compare to Clerics, Fighters, and Monks? Let's join the conversation, shall we?

Fighter: All that junk you do?
Swashbuckler: Yeah, pretty great uh?
Fighter: No, it's called sparring.
Swashbuckler: Really? That sounds like fighting words.
Fighter: No. Fighting words are said at the funeral. Better if they can't talk back.
Cleric: Both of you need to come to church.
Swashbuckler: Alleluia, brother!
Cleric: I'm a woman and I follow Kos. So, no on both accounts.
Fighter: Have you ever been on campaign?
Swashbuckler: I think so, was there booze?
Fighter: No, only watery ale and roasted smeerp. The ones with the 9 tentacles, not the ones with funny ears.
Swashbuckler: Sounds dreadful.
Fighter: Have you ever eaten iron rations?
Monk: Yes. I eat food, I just don't enjoy it.
Swashbuckler: So, brutha, what do you think of my moves? Pretty great, right?
Monk: It's all kabuki.
Fighter and cleric: Snort.
Monk: See this thumb? This one, not the other one.
Swashbuckler: Yeah?
Monk: This one goes in your eye and the other goes in your bum. Then I kill you.
Swashbuckler: How uncivilized.
Cleric: It's all relative.
Swashbuckler: You get it sister, we don't draw blood until we have to.
Cleric: Have you ever seen a flail?
Fighter and Monk: Snort.
Swashbuckler: I think the important thing is, we are all different and have our places in the world.
Fighter, Monk and Cleric: Chuckle.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Product Launch - Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

I rarely create new character classes for my campaigns, but I felt I needed a different sort of character for seaborne adventures. The Swashbuckler character class was born.

This pamphlet was intended to add flavor to any campaign without creating overpowering skills or mechanics. Very often, new classes are game breaking and I have sought to avoid this.

Initially, the plan was to create one section for Basic D&D and another for AD&D. Since the Swashbuckler does not require extraordinary abilities, nor to they have level dependent skills, I was able to combine the two.

It had occurred to me to give the Swashbuckler some of the skills of thieves, paladins, monks and acrobats but these characters are not the type to engage in professional level skills. They are more charismatic enablers, they don’t develop useful professional skills, they capitalize on other people’s skills.

I would encourage DMs and players to play towards the humorous aspects of Errol Flynn shenanigans. Many times, this style of play revolves around the needed belief in success rather than the actual outcome. Swashbuckling success features going to Plan B, then C and D and so on.

This product contains two files, the character class description suitable for D&D and AD&D, plus a set of 6 pre-generated characters. This product would work well with both my AD&D Character Sheet and the book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. 

Click here to purchase from DriveThruRPG, for a suggested price of $0.99 or PWYW.