Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Level Titles, Cont'd

Just a brief follow-up, this time.

While the zombie-OSR blog-space blows up over JB's rant against ability checks (my answer to his complaints boils down to the following: (1) yes, ability checks that work by rolling under a stat on 1d20 are a bad mechanic, but that's all they are, kind of a bad idea that doesn't really work because of the math, not Everything Wrong with D&D; (2) no, a character's class should not be the sum total of how a character interacts with the game, and while D&D can certainly function without them, Secondary Skills are a Rather Good Thing™ if you want to flesh characters out a little more and give them some detail—or maybe just let a fighter build a goddamned boat, because yes Virginia sometimes heroes are MacGuyver) . . . I hereby present the table of level titles I'm now using in my weekly Barrowmaze – Caverns of Thracia – Stonehell – Isle of Dread campaign (soon to enter its 20th consecutive month; a fair number of 7th level characters now, but nobody has hit level eight yet):

Level Titles

It's weird how campaigns evolve in their own way over time. I started the game with a fairly robust but complete little spread of twelve playable classes, six human and six non-human, but someone wanted to play a dwarf-cleric, so now we have GAZ6 dwarf-clerics. And the players running spell-casters wanted access to more necromancy spells ('cuz, y'know, Barrowmaze), and so the caster classes got re-organized to include a few sub-classes. And I got really nostalgic and missed having psionicists around. So now the system looks like this:

• Human Classes: Fighter (Str), Rogue (Dex), Monk (Con), Wizard (Int*), Cleric (Wis),  Psychic (Cha).
— Wizard Sub-Classes: White Wizard (casts arcane and druidic spells), Grey Wizard (casts arcane and illusionist spells), Dark Wizard (casts arcane and necromantic spells), White, Grey, or Dark Witch (wizard of any sub-class who uses Cha instead of Int as a prime requisite.
— Cleric Sub-Classes: Priest (casts clerical and reversed necromantic spells), Druid (casts clerical and druidic spells), Bard (casts clerical and illusionist spells).
• Demi-Human Classes: High Elf (fighter/wizard), Silvan Elf (rogue/druid), Orc (fighter/rogue), Hill Gnome (bard with a bit of fighter/druid), Forest Gnome (rogue with a bit of fighter), Dwarf (fighter), Dwarf-Cleric (fighter/cleric).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Level Titles

I love level titles. They're one of those weird little aspects of D&D that make me go, "yeah, this is D&D!" whenever I see them.

I find it very, very odd that they've been absent from every version of the Advanced game since 2nd edition. I find it even stranger that they're absent from the Rules Cyclopedia (in spite of the fact that they do appear in the 90s boxed sets, the 1070 black box and the 1106 tan box, at least up to 5th level). Well, maybe it's not strange exactly, since it was obvious that by the time GAZ1 came out, the writers working on the basic D&D game did not like level titles and wanted to remove them (and as far as the Mystara setting was, the text of the gazetteers largely invalidated them).

But I like them and use them (though often in abbreviated form, say, changing a character's level title once at 4th and then again at 8th or 9th), and I thought that I might as well get around to putting them back in both my ongoing campaign and my personal rules.

I've written up a version of the monk and psychic classes that I'm using in my local Barrowmaze campaign that has level titles—yes, I've gone and added a psionic class to my basic D&D game, purely out of nostalgia for the way I played 2nd edition back in high school.

As I work through revising Engines & Empires, I've also decided to put level titles back there too. For each of the classes that are going to appear, here's what I'm thinking so far (NB, I'm re-naming the expert class to "ace" in the new edition to make the class sound more roguish and adventurous):

Fighter: Veteran, Swordsman, Duelist, Hero, Swashbuckler, Knight, Champion, Superhero, Paladin.
Ace: Apprentice, Journeyman, Tradesman, Expert, Specialist, Agent, Operative, Professional, Maverick.
Scholar: Collegiate, Baccalaureate, Master, Doctor, Fellow, Professor, Emeritus, Philosopher, Sage.
Mage: Medium, Seer, Conjurer, Magician, Enchanter, Warlock, Sorcerer, Archmage, Wizard.
Tech: Tinker, Wright, Craftsman, Machinist, Mechanic, Technician, Technologist, Engineer, Chief Engineer.

As I go through the rules, I find myself cleaning up a lot of stuff that didn't work quite right, and just plain putting a lot of stuff "back to the way it was" in the B/E editions. It's subtle in a lot of cases, but… ah, well, you'll see soon enough. Like, nixing critical hits, or putting prime requisite XP bonuses back in the game. It's just these little things that make D&D feel like D&D again.

Warm fuzzy feeling inside. You know what I mean.

Crap… this, uh, this blog post just sort of fizzled out like Strong Bad E-Mail #15.