10 April 2014

Expedition to the Borderlands?

A discussion on the Dragonsfoot Classic D&D forum about turning B2's Caves of Chaos into a proper megadungeon entry got me looking at the Caves of Chaos maps, and to my amusement, I noticed that the rubble filled "expand here as you wish" tunnelon the map is labelled "Area 51".  What if the author was trying to subtly suggest a link to another famous module he wrote? Area 51...Crashed Alien Ships...

I doubt it, but it was a fun idea I threw together real quick.

If I was going to do anything with it, I'd probably get out the old DA series Blackmoor modules for on the fly conversion of the space opera tech stuff. City of the Gods in particular had a ton of it.



Click for fullsize image.

Classic D&D Class Options List

Over the years, one of the common topics of discussion among BECMI, and those of the other Classic D&D editions, players has been the "limited" class options in the game. It's always tempting to write up a bunch of homebrew classes, or try and split up the races and classes like AD&D did, but it occurs to me that if we take a look at what's really there for the game, some of that temptation. Let's flip through the various books and review, then we can decide what, if anything, is missing.


 One thing about NPC classes: Sometimes, a class presented in Dragon magazine is quite obviously better suited to use with an NPC. This is simply because the character type is ill suited to adventuring life, combat, etc. We do not hold to the idea that a player should be barred from using a class, however ill suited  it is, just because TSR said it was for NPCs only. If we ban a class from PC use, like the Samurai from Dragon Magazine, they are not going to meet any NPC Samurais either. Goose and gander, fair is fair. NPC classes are included in this list with that in mind.

"Core" Classic Rulebooks:
Basic: 
Cleric
Fighter
Magic User
Thief
Dwarf
Elf
Halfling

OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk
Dwarf Fighter
Dwarf Cleric (technically presented as an NPC option, but I won't tell TSR if you let your players use it)
Dwarf Thief
Dwarf Fighter/Thief
Elf Fighter
Elf Cleric
Elf Thief
Elf Fighter/Magic-User/Thief
Half-Elf (Treat as the standard Elf class, but note the level limits vary)
Half-Elf Fighter/Magic-User/Cleric (with lofty ability score requirements)
Hobbit (Halfling) Fighter
Hobbit Thief
Paladin (1st level start, different than the standard Companion Rules "prestige class")

OD&D Supplement II: Blackmoor
Monk
Assassin

OD&D Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry
Druid
EW is also the source of the Classic D&D rules for PC psionics, If you care to adopt them.

Companion:Druid (high level Cleric subclass)
Knight (high level Fighter subclass)
Paladin (high level Fighter subclass)
Avenger (high level Fighter subclass)
Magist (high level Magic User "subclass", more of a role than a class, no real unique abilities)
Magus (high level Magic User "subclass", more of a role than a class, no real unique abilities)
Guildmaster  (high level Thief "subclass", more of a role than a class, no real unique abilities)
Rogue  (high level Thief "subclass", more of a role than a class, no real unique abilities)

Master:
Mystic (sort of a cloistered monk class)
Guidelines for non-human (and non-elf) spellcasters, handy if you use one of the spellcasting add ons for shaman types found in the books below.

Immortals:
This set obviously introduces a bunch of new options for ultra-high level PCs, but these are beyond the scope of basic class options.

Gazetteer 2, The Emireates of Ylaruam
Dervish (a desert themed druid variant)

Gazetteer 3, The Principalities of Glantri
Magic Crafts: (variant "specialty" class options for magic users)
Alchemist
Dracologist
Elementalist
Illusionist
Necromancer
Cryptomancer
Witch
Radiant

Gazetteer 5, The Elves of Alfheim
Special rules for "splitting" the elf class to focus on either fighting or magic use

Gazetteer 6, The Dwarves of Rockhome
Dwarf Cleric

Gazetteer 8, The Five Shires
Halfling Master (Spellcasting class for Halflings)

Gazetteer 9, The Minrothad Guilds
Merchant Prince (seafaring spellcaster with a pirate flavor)

Gazetteer 10, The Orcs of Thar
Kobold
Goblin
Orc
Hobgoblin
Gnoll
Bugbear
Ogre
Troll
These are all basically fighter type classes for the various humanoid races.
Shaman (this is an add on to the race based classes above, giving them minor cleric spellcasting)
Wicca (this is an add on to the race based classes above, giving them minor magic user spellcasting)

Gazetteer 11, The Republic of Darokin
Merchant (a travelling trader with minor spellcasting)

Gazetteer 12, The Golden Khan of Ethengar
Horse Warrior (a fighter subclass for the mounted warrior)
Bratak (a thief subclass with a penchant for spying, diplomacy and riding)
Hakomon (a magic user variant)
Shaman (a cleric variant for the less civilized)

Gazetter 13, The Shadow Elves
Shadow Elf (a minor variation on standard elves)

Gazetteer 14, The Atruaghin Clans
Shamani (another totemic cleric variant)

Dawn of the Emperors Gazetteer (Boxed Set)
Forester (a human version of the magic using fighter elf class)
Rake (a thief variant geared toward burglary and adventuring instead of backstabbing and muggings)

Creature Crucible 1 - Tall Tales of the Wee Folk
Centaur
Dryad
Faun
Hsiao
Treant
Wood Imp
Brownie
Leprechaun
Pixie
Sprite
Pooka
Sidhe
Woodrake
These are, with a couple exceptions, just the typical "fighter" versions of these races, but as with the Orcs of Thar, rules are included for adding on to the class to grant some spellcasting abilities as well.

Creature Crucible 2 - Top Ballista
Faenare
Gnome
Skygnome
Gremlin
Harpy
Nagpa
Pegataur
Sphinx
Tabi
These are, with a couple exceptions, just the typical "fighter" versions of these races, but as with the Orcs of Thar, rules are included for adding on to the class to grant some spellcasting abilities as well.

Creature Crucible 3 - The Sea Folk
Aquatic Elf
Kna
Kopru
Merrow
Nixie
Sea Giant
Shark Kin
Triton

Creature Crucible 4 - Night Howlers
Werewolf
Werebat
Werebear
Wereboar
Werefox
Wereseal
Wereshark
Weretiger
Devil Swine
Wererat



Hollow World Campaign Setting
Warrior Elf (an elf variant with no magical ability)
Beastman
Bruteman
Hutaakan
Krugel Orc
Kubitt (actually just a variant human "race", they use the normal human classes but have racial modifiers and abilities)
Malpheggi Lizardman
Once again, rules are included for adding on to the class to grant some spellcasting abilities as well.

Hollow World, Kingdom of Nithia Sourcebook
Archer
Charioteer
Heavyman
Spearman
Runner
Khopesh
These are all just variant fighters, with specific bonuses offset by reduced general abilities
War Cleric
This is just a variant cleric, with specific bonuses offset by reduced general abilities
Mage Scribe
Montoth
Templar
These are all just variant magic users, with specific bonuses offset by reduced general abilities
Royal Seal Bearer
Lockmaster
Guardian
These are all just variant thieves, with specific bonuses offset by reduced general abilities

Hollow World, Milenian Empire Sourcebook
Cleric of Halav
Cleric of Matera
Cleric of Petra
Cleric of Protius
These are all just variant clerics, with specific bonuses offset by reduced general abilities
Griffon Rider (A variant fighter class)

TSR Magazines
Strategic Review Magazine #2
Ranger

Strategic Review Magazine #4
Illusionist

Strategic Review Magazine #6
Bard

(The) Dragon Magazine #2
Alchemist

(The) Dragon Magazine #3
Woman Fighter
Woman Magic-User
Woman Thief
Woman Cleric
Apparently Len Lakofka's campaign setting has no female Elves, Dwarves or Halflings ... harumph! All kidding aside, I included these for completeness, I doubt anyone would actually use them in 2014 :)
Healer
Scribe
Samurai
Dwarf Fighter
Dwarf Thief
Dwarf Cleric
Berserker
Idiot
Jester

(The) Dragon Magazine #12
Illusionist

(The) Dragon Magazine #16
Ninja

(The) Dragon Magazine #20
Witch

(The) Dragon Magazine #26
Mugger (A class for a D&D variant based in "inner city 1979")

Dragon Magazine #158
N'djatwa - Magic-User(A weird half elf/half ogre hybrid race)
N'djatwa - Druid


Dragon Magazine #176
Robrenn Druid (A first level druid variant)
Druidic Knight (A druid-fighter hybrid Companion-rules style "prestige class")
Bard

Dragon Magazine #178
Elven Cleric
Elven Paladin (A Companion-rules style "prestige class")
Elven Avenger (A Companion-rules style "prestige class")
Elven Knight  (A Companion-rules style "prestige class")
Half-Elf (A template of sorts, applied to the human classes to reflect the racial differences)

Dragon Magazine #181
Lupin (A template of sorts, applied to the human classes to reflect the racial differences)
Rakasta (A template of sorts, applied to the human classes to reflect the racial differences)

Dragon Magazine #183
Aranea

Dragon Magazine #185
Lizard-Man
Cay-Man
Gator-Man
These are all the fighter type class for their respective race. The article also includes notes on using the Shaman or Wicca (At this point renamed Wokani) options for spellcasting individuals, as in the Orcs of Thar Gazetteer.

Dragon Magazine #186 
Chameleon-Man
Chameleon-Man Medicine Man

Dragon Magazine #187
Phanaton
Phanaton Shaman

Imagine Magazine #27
Freeman/Freewoman (A class for commoners)

Imagine Magazine #28
Lycanthrope (Dual stats for D&D and AD&D)



Wow! That's a ton of options. It has never really made a lot of sense to me why people complain that the options are limited. I understand that some players want totally customized, unique characters, but BECMI, and other early editions of D&D assume that characters will fit into some genre archetype.

If you expand the optional rules for humanoid shamans and wiccas (that allow them to take spellcasting abilities in addition to their normal class abilities in exchange for an increased experience cost to gain levels) to allow any of the non-human classes to purchase minor cleric or magic user spellcasting, a huge bunch of new options opens up, probably satisfying most players. Remember though, as soon as a character adopts the methods of a cleric or magic user, he should be bound by the same armor and weapon restrictions that those classes are, he may still use barred weapons and armor without penalty, but can't cast spells while doing so.

White Dwarf and other magazines, and products from early 3rd party publishers like Judges Guild, Games Workshop, Mayfair Games and others may also present new options, but I haven't went through them and checked.

If you don't have access to the OD&D books and other sources I bring up here, I'd recommend checking into some of the OSR 'clone' games. Swords & Wizardry and Mazes & Perils in particular are very OD&D friendly and revisit a lot of the same material via the Open Game License.

The OSR stuff can be an excellent source of new options and material too! Again, I dont have a detailed list yet, but things like Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dark Dungeons and the supplements for those and other games offer some new choices not available in published form 30 years ago.