04 January 2012

Additional thoughts on Non Human Spellcasters (and 1st Level Druids too!)

 Additional Thoughts on Non-Human Spellcasters

The original Non Human Spellcasters Post is Here!

It occurs to me that this system, as I presented it before, undermines the Cleric and Magic User (and Elf) classes a little bit, so here's an amendment to it:

If you have access to the books in question:
Set 4: Master Rules
Gazetteer 10, The Orcs of Thar
Gazetteer 11, The Republic of Darokin
Gazetteer 12, The Golden Khan of Ethengar
Gazetteer 14, The Atruaghin Clans
Creature Crucible 1 - Tall Tales of the Wee Folk
Creature Crucible 2 - Top Ballista
Hollow World Campaign Setting

I would definitely use the alternate spell lists given for the Non Human spellcasters, and not allow them access to spells exclusive to the Cleric, Druid, and Magic User (and Elf) in the main rule books. This goes for new spells, whether DM introduced or researched and designed by the PC, as well. Any new spell should be carefully weighed against the existing spell lists in order to determine who gets to use it. When in doubt, favor the "core" classes.

If you do not have access to these books and want to use my boiled down system for adding spellcasting to an existing class, I would make the PC choose between either the Cleric, Druid or Magic User/Elf lists, and limit them to only those spells on those lists in the core books. Don't allow them to research new spells at all, and don't give them access to any new spells you introduce to the game. There needs to be some benefit to playing a regular Cleric, Druid or Magic User.

If you only use the rules as written and never introduce any new spells or allow spell research, I'd suggest not using these optional rules at all and keeping spellcasting the exclusive ability of Cleric, Druids, Elves and Magic Users.

Druids as 1st level PCs.

I've often seen this discussed around the community, the idea that the Cruid class should be open to 1st level Clerics, since it isn't really the role of a poweful Cleric, but an alternative approach to divine magical power. I like the idea of Druids being around at all levels, so this is how I handle it.

A Druid is the same in all ways as a Cleric of equal level (hit dice, attack progression, saving throws, spells per day chart, etc) except for the following:
  • A Druid uses the Druid spell lists, not the Cleric lists, see the Companion and Master rule sets for these lists.
  • A Druid may never wear armor made from metal. Hide, leather, bone, etc are acceptable, and buckles and other incidental hardware don't count, but chain and plate mail, and similar non-standard armors are forbidden.
  • Likewise, although a druid is not bound by the Cleric's limitation on weapon use (Druids can use piercing and slashing weapons), they may not use metallic weapons, this includes weapons like arrows and maces that may be mainly composed of wood but have a metallic head. Wood, stone, bone, horn, etc are all acceptable.

Pretty simple. I see no need to create a whole new class with different saves, experience progression and other features. Just tweak the armor and weapon allowance and switch to the Druid spell list.

DemiHuman Clerics, Magic Users and Thieves (...oh my!)

As far as players that want to run Demi-Human PCs, I find the answer to be very simple. Ok, you're a halfling cleric, or dwarven thief, or whatever. Just use the human version of the class, give them their "racial abilities" (summarized below), and apply the level limit normal for their race. The level limit easily balances out the couple perks they get from their race. The racial abilities are as follows:

Dwarf: Infravision, "Mining" Detections, Language package.

Elf: Infravision, Hidden/Secret Door Detection, Immune to Ghoul paralysis, Language package.

Halfling: Combat/Defense Bonuses vs. Large Opponents, Hide in Woodlands/Shadows

Saving Throws, Hit Dice, Attack Progression, etc are based on the "human" class, not the race of the PC. It is up to the DM whether these PCs are eligible for Attack Rank or slow advancement options after reaching their level limit, but I'd recommend not.


  1. Interesting take for druids. Just Clerics with more specialized spells. Makes sense to me.

    Gotta make sure and keep druids having to battle it out like Pokeman for the higher levels though. That's right out of The Golden Bough (sort of).

  2. Hmm, I've seen various takes on reworking the druid for 1st level play over the years, but nothing quite that simple and elegant, great idea!

    And the student becomes the teacher... :-)

  3. Darva's comments in the last section, on demihumans with "human" classes is how we (she and I) decided to house rule this years ago.

    Glad to hear she's still on board with it. No need to reinvent the wheel, or add classes where none are needed.


Thanks for your comments!