Disclaimer: I make no claims that these ideas are uniquely mine. In many cases they are a merging of the best ideas culled from elsewhere, with only a hint of my own creativity. If you want to know the original sources, drop me a line: email@example.com.
Nearly any semi-humanoid, sentient creature can be a player character. In fact, it is probably your most important choice in character creation. Most Races have certain personality tendencies, and all certainly have a definite culture. Each race also has certain strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it is vital that you pick your race first, because it determines what you roll for Ability Score generation and also influences your Alignment. You may then pick any class that the race is eligible for, provided you meet minimum ability requirements. Thus, it is in your best interests, if you have a particular class in mind, to pick a race whose strengths compliment the requirements of the class. You may, of course, play an atypical member of your race, but be sure that you can explain why you are unusual in the manner that you are.
Priests: There are two general classes of Priest: the Priest and the Druid. Priests are the representatives of the Gods on Aega, while Druids draw on the fundamental strengths of the Powers. The Gods are much like on any world: omnipotent in their sphere, but otherwise merely far beyond mortal power. They appear to have objectives and motives much like mortals, or at least similar enough to be comprehended and acted on independently by the Priests. In fact, it is even possible for a particularly devout (or even lucky) Priest to invoke a miracle on the spot, in effect discovering a new Prayer to her God.
The Powers, on the other hand, are as far beyond the Gods in power and sentience, as the Gods are beyond the mortals. As such, their motives are all but inscrutable to even their worshipers. The Druids have merely learned over the eons how to invoke the might of their patron Power through ritual and ceremony. Some say that the reason the Powers are so inscrutable is that they actually aren¹t sentient at all, but merely aware. Others go so far as to claim that the Powers, rather than governing the fundamental forces of the cosmos, are merely outgrowths of these same powers, sort of super-elementals, with no free will of the sort we recognize at all. Whatever the case, it is observable that no amount of prayer on the part of even the most devout Druid will invoke a new spell or miracle. The only way to do so is through countless months (or years) of trial and error, attempting to mix and match portions of known rituals, or alter an aspect of a ceremony without rendering the rest of it ineffective.
Priests use the spell- and experience progression tables in the Players Handbook. Druids use the advancement tables from the 1st Edition Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana. While the hierarchy to 15th level varies, Druids of all faiths are known as Heirophants from 16th level on. It is as a Heirophant that the Druid truly becomes in touch with her Power, able to invoke very powerful abilities within the realm of its influence.
Psychics: The Psychic is virtually unknown, and, indeed, is banned in many areas, due to ignorance. The most well known of these is the Psionicist, a master of the conscious mind. But their are also others, who tap the deep and unknown realm of the subconscious. They are known as Dreamers and Oracles. Both have great power in their realm, but both are almost always forced to wield it passively, because they cannot draw upon it at will, as can the Psionicist. Finally there is the Monk. She devotes herself to conquering the inner self, and achieving a harmony that enables her to virtually bend the fabric of at least her own reality to her will.
The Psionicist is unchanged from the Psionics Handbook, save that she may substitute Charisma for Constitution when fulfilling the minimum requirements. The Dreamer is detailed in Dragon Magazine #132. The Oracle is detailed in Best of Dragon Magazine, Vol. V. The Monk is as detailed in the Best of Dragon Magazine, Vol. III.
Rogues: The most well known of the Rogues is the Thief, the denizen of every back alley, seedy black market, and impenetrable treasure vault. They are as portrayed in the Player¹s Handbook, with the addition of the Set Traps ability. The Bard, too, is unchanged from the standard class.
There are also two other professions that fall under the heading of Rogue. The Scout is the less-militant counterpart to the Ranger, a master of the wilderness, relying on knowledge of nature, a quick mind, and an even quicker hand to navigate the endless wilderness. The Acrobat is a master of her own body, able to perform feats that even the best trained Warrior would be amazed by.
The Scout is detailed in Dragon Magazine #161. The basic Acrobat is detailed in Unearthed Arcana.
Warriors: The most common of the Warrior caste is the Fighter, a versatile combatant, potentially ready for anything. The Ranger is a Warrior who tempers her skills with the blade with those with nature. She is most at home far from the city, indeed, far from other intelligent beings, existing within the natural world. The Sentinel and Archer are exceptionally specialized Warriors, one to defense, the other for offense. The Berserker draws upon her inner core of rage and bestiality to create a savage fighting machine, dangerous to friend and foe alike.
Rangers must select a species enemy, by the time they have completed their basic training [reached 1st level]. If they wish to learn the methods of combatting a creature that their mentor doesn¹t either have as a species enemy or have long-standing experience with, they must seek the creature out and learn on their own through trial and error. In this case, the ranger starts out with from +1 to +4 To Hit, but no bonus to damage. Knowledge of the species enemy will gradually bring her up to par. Once she knows the enemy [from first level for conventionally trained rangers], she gains a bonus of +4 To Hit and adds her level to all damage rolls when fighting them.
The Berserker is as detailed in Dragon Magazine #133. The Sentinel is detailed in Dragon Magazine #89. The Archer is detailed in Best of Dragon Magazine, Vol. III.
Wizards: The Wizards encompass perhaps the slightest variation. In addition to the Mage, there are Specialists in all the many Schools of Magic. Further, some choose to further specialize in multiple schools, often to the exclusion of all others.
There are those who practice other theories of Magic. The most common of these are the Elementalists. They divide the realms of Magical influence according to the classical alignment of the elements.
Additionally, there are those who rely on others to do their magic for them. Goetists bind demons, while the far less rare Sha¹ir call upon genies.
In general, a Specialist is banned from using spells of certain opposition schools, and is less competant with those spells she can use from outside her school(s) of specialization. Elementalists may either lose access to spells in opposition to their chosen element, or choose two elements to the exclusion of all other forms of magic.
In addition to the spells listed in the appropriate Spell Progression table, any Wizard except a Sha¹ir or Goetist may cast one cantrip per level, per day.
Sha¹ir are detailed in the Al Qadim rule book, as are Elementalists.
Multi-class & Dual-class: Any non-human can be multi-classed, i.e. simultaneously progress in more than one class. The limit is that no more than three classes may be followed at once, and none may be from the same class group. All experience earned is split evenly between all the classes, and then racial- and class-based adjustments are applied. The Multi-class character must abide by the more restrictive limitations on armor, but may use any weapons allowed to at least one of the classes. Hit Points are averaged based on the two classes. The better THAC0, Saving Throws, and Attack Priorities are used. Any Proficiency which is open to either class is open to the Multi-class character. Similarly, any abilities of either class may be utilized. The exception to this is priests. In general, the priesthood frowns on breaking of taboos, whatever your other profession may be.
³Dual-classed² characters are those that have pursued more than one profession sequentially. Any character can become Dual-classed, and may change professions as often as she likes. Upon changing, the character temporarily loses all abilities, excluding proficiencies and Hit Points, derived from the former class. Initially, she may not use those abilities or suffer a severe set-back in the learning of her new skills [lose all experience for the session]. Once she has surpassed her old level in the new class, she has become sufficiently versed with the new abilities to intermingle the two without penalty [she may now use abilities of the previous class]. A Multi-class character may never be Dual-classed, but anyone can give up all class abilities, and start from scratch at any time.
Dedicated Warrior: In addition to the above classes, any member of any non-Priest class can devote themselves to a particular God. If they are devout enough, they may attract her or his attention, and be granted recognition in the form of boons and granted powers, becoming a Dedicated Warrior. Such a person must be more holy than all but the holiest of Priests, for their every action is seen by the people as reflecting their God. Thus, the God is in turn much more stringent in religious matters, though often more liberal in the granting of power, in order to impress, ideally, followers of other Gods.
There are two new ability scores. Perception is a rating of how well a person discerns what they sense. While presumably everyone would see (or hear, or whatever) their surroundings about equally well, not everyone registers them to the same degree. Thus, Perception governs such tasks as realizing what proper etiquette is in new surroundings, noticing the kings finger moving towards the lever on his armrest that opens the trapdoor, or recognizing that the same hobbit has been in the crowd near you every time you¹ve looked for the last three hours. Ultimately, Perception is a factor of mental processing, not a person¹s raw senses, though they might provide a limit. (Even the most perceptive blind man can¹t see someone sneaking up on him.)
Comeliness is a measure of physical attractiveness. Unlike Charisma, which is a matter of presence and aura, Comeliness is very much race-specific. The Comeliness score you have on your character sheet applies to humans. The original score you rolled is used for others of the same race. The Comeliness score is further adjusted when dealing with other non-human races. Generally, Comeliness has the greatest impact during short meetings, or anywhere limited contact prevents the characters from really getting to know each other. Once a person is better known, Charisma takes over in determining reactions towards her.
Proficiencies slots are not broken up into weapon and non-weapon. You may distribute them as you wish, but Proficiencies outside of your class groups are one extra slot at character creation time. In addition to those gained for advances in level, Proficiency slots can be gained by spending extra Experience Points, equal to 10% of your next level goal or 1000 Experience Points, whichever is more (though never more than 50 000).
There are some other special rules with regard to Proficiencies. While anyone can use a shield, using one well requires Proficiency. Without Shield-use Proficiency, any shield will benefit armor class by only one. The Proficiency enables the user to gain the full possible benefit for a shield. For one Proficiency Slot, anyone may learn to use a given set of paired weapons with no penalties. There are six broad classes of melee fighting style and two of missile that anyone may specialize in [at the cost of one Proficiency Slot]. These are: One-weapon, Two-weapon, Weapon and Shield, Two-handed, Mounted Melee, Cavalry, Mounted Missile, and Missile. Only Warriors may ever specialize in more than one of these styles, though anyone may double specialize in one. Also, instead of learning Weapon Proficiencies one at a time, you may take proficiency in a Tight Group (such as short blades or axes) [2 Proficiency Slots] or a Broad Group (such as blades or pole arms) [5 Proficiency Slots].
Warriors have available to them a number of other combat-related options for using Proficiency Slots. They may specialize in as many weapons as they care to spend the slots for. Limited by level, a Warrior may eventually spend up to six Proficiency Slots on specializing in a single weapon. She may Double Specialize in as many of the Fighting Styles as she wishes. Warriors may specialize in any or all of the Unarmed fighting styles, and those that can find a teacher may learn genuine Martial Arts. There is a class of semi-weapon Proficiencies generally available only to Warriors. They have arisen through the many and varied schools of fighting, available to anyone with the money, and include knowledge of various formation-fighting techniques, special adeptness in particular awkward situations (such as while mounted), and a variety of unique schools to follow and techniques to be learned. These generally give very specific bonuses, and are often dependent on both combatants¹ styles.
Wizards: In addition to the number of spells determined by level, and possibly specialization, any wizard can cast a number of cantrips per day equal to her level. In case this isn¹t enough, four cantrips may be substituted for one first level spell when memorizing. Also, wizards with high Intelligence can memorize more spells than they can cast. For every point over 14, she can memorize one extra spell level. Thus, a wizard with a 17 Intelligence could memorize three extra 1st-level spells, one extra 3d-level spell, four extra cantrips and an extra 2d-level spell, or any other combination of spells whose levels add to 3 (provided they are of levels she can cast).
In addition to identifying spells being cast, the spellcraft proficiency has another use. It may be used in some cases to figure out which school of magic, or occasionally even what spell is cast from an object. If the wizard sees a magic item in use, she can make a proficiency check to identify the school of magic, even if she¹s never seen the spell before. She can also attempt this when trying to figure out how an unknown magical item works. When investigating an enchanted object, a wizard can make a proficiency check at a +8 penalty to determine if a spell that she knows is imbued in it. If she has previously made a successful identification of the school of the spell in question, than the penalty is only +6.
Alchemy, when combined with magical research, allows a knowledgeable wizard to discover and create things that are far beyond the mundane limits of alchemy. It is perhaps even possible to reproduce some of the great alchemical feats of legend, such as creating golems and other near-living entities and transforming base metals into gold.
Any wizard of any level can attempt to invent new spells. The only absolute requirement is that she be one level higher than the minimum level to cast spells of that level. Thus a 1st-level wizard can only invent cantrips. The basic roll is on d% against the total of the wizards level and her Intelligence, minus 5 times the spell¹s level. Add the level of the highest-level similar spell the wizard knows. For every week spent in experimentation, divided by the level of the spell, add 5%. Research can also aid, though the exact adjustment depends on what is found.
Through the sciences of alchemy, magic, and astrology, combined with a certain knowledge of engineering and/or anatomy, and driven by a strong will, nearly every supposed limit on the realm of magic can be transcended. Though spells may be limited, their applications are not.
Priests: Priests do not need to memorize their spells ahead of time. Instead, they are merely taught a series of prayers with which to call upon the favor of their deity. Only their faith is required, so no augmentation in the form of material components (other than their holy symbol) is needed to muster the magical energy to invoke a spell. In fact, particularly devout priests have been known to call upon their deity more than their allotted number of times in a day, and others have been known to pray for previously unheard-of effects, and have them manifest. Note that Druids can not do this, as the nature of a power is such that only very specific rituals work. Improvising is pointless, since there is no one to appeal to.
Material Components: The material components for a Wizard¹s spell are there to lessen the amount of effort required by the caster. They do so by invoking the fundamental laws of the science of Magic. The two most basic of these are Sympathy: that which appears alike is alike; and Contagion: once together, always together. Thus, if a Wizard is in dire straits, a substitute component can be used, provided one or both of these laws is met. In some cases, a new material component will greatly boost or repress the effect of a spell, while in other cases, the new component will produce a modified effect, or even an entirely new one.
Since a Priest or Druid has the aid of a divinity, and isn¹t limited to what her mortal shell can channel, she has no need of material components, beyond the Priest¹s holy symbol.
Wild Magic: Wild magic is no more common an occurence than any other magical phenomenon. Which is to say, it is known about, but the typical mage is unlikely to ever encounter it, unless she goes looking. Magic-dead zones are also known about, but similarly uncommon. If it is possible to create or manipulate either, the techniques are unknown.
In this world, psychic talent is rather common. A sizable portion, perhaps 25%, of nearly every race is at least a wild talent. And there are no mammalian player-character races that can not possess psychic ability. Many a person has had psionic ability awakened within them by a talented psionicist or dreamer, and some say this is because all have the latent possibility, and all it requires it recognition and training. While it is possible that that is the case, most sages and philosophers prefer to say that many more have a talent for psychic abilities than ever realize or use it. These people are the ones that can be awakened to their inner abilities, while there are some that could never learn such powers.
Attack Priority: Attack Priority is instead of initiative, and also accounts for number of attacks; all Warrior group classes add their level to all Attack Priorities. It is dependent primarily on the weapon¹s wieldiness and reach. Dexterity and other factors can also influence it. There are three types of Attack Priority, dependent on the type of combat: Closing, Melee, and Missile [denoted Closing/Melee (Missile)]. The Closing Attack Priority is used for joining combat, when the combatants start the round out of range for hand-to-hand combat. The greatest consideration at this point is weapon reach. Melee Attack Priority is used all subsequent rounds, as the combatants are presumably now at a relatively comfortable distance, and the wieldiness and speed of the weapon are the biggest considerations. Missile Attack Priority is always used with missile weapons. Note that some missile weapons have two numbers for attack priority. In this case, the first is for a readied weapon, and the second takes into consideration loading time.
To use Attack Priority, roll a d10 and apply the appropriate Attack Priority. This is your rank for initiative purposes, i.e., when your first attack comes in the round. Only when Closing, a non-positive number indicates that the attacker is still out of range, and must continue to use the Closing Attack Priority. In all other cases a zero or lower on the initial roll still allows an attack. If this number is greater than 10, subtract 20 and use this number as a modifier to a new roll (d10). Provided it is positive, this new roll represents an additional attack in the initiative sequence. This process continues until a number less than or equal to 10 is generated (provided it is positive, it still counts as an attack). Here crossbows present an exception: subtract 50 instead of 20 on subsequent rolls in the same round, to reflect their high loading time.
Wounds: Wounds are a way to simulate the fact that a single large wound is often more debilitating than many small wounds. Your Threshold of Pain is calculated as a percentage of your total Hit Points, based on race, Constitution, and training. The actual number thus calculated is the minimum threshold for a wound. Any single attack that does damage equal to or greater than this number causes a wound. Occasionally, damage will be designated as a Wound, even though it doesn¹t exceed the Threshold of Pain. Wounds should be recorded separately, in addition to being subtracted from the total Hit Points. Each Wound causes a cumulative -1 on all rolls except for Saving Throws.
If you suffer a number of wounds equal to your Overwhelming Pain, you are incapacitated due to the pain. A Wisdom check will enable you to stay conscious, but you will be unable to do anything besides speak (or scream). A character is rendered unconscious upon reaching 0 Hit Points. Death occurs if further damage equal to the character¹s Constitution is done. Natural healing occurs at the rate of 1 Hit Point per day, plus the character¹s Constitution Hit Point Adjustment. All other damage is healed before damage from Wounds. Healing is divided equally between all Wounds.
Adjusted Armor Class: There are several circumstances in which a character¹s effective Armor Class will differ from the base. When attacked from behind, neither shield nor Dexterity bonus apply. When surprised, Dexterity bonus doesn¹t apply. There are three other adjusted Armor Classes. These are based on the relative effectiveness of certain types of weapons against certain armors. In general, report the AC that you think is appropriate against an attack. It¹s not very critical if you accidentally get it wrong. Slashing is used when the attack comes from a broad-bladed weapon, such as a sword or ax. Piercing attacks come from pointed weapons, such as daggers and arrows, and Bludgeoning attacks are made with blunt weapons, such as clubs and staves.
Combat Options: Here is a summary of the basic combat options that anyone can employ. If you want to try something not detailed here, feel free to. These are just here to give you an idea of some of the basics, not to limit you in tactics.
Your overall combat strategy can be adjusted. Normally, you are assumed to be putting a balanced emphasis on both attack and defense. However, sometimes you are more concerned with one or the other. Thus you can assume four other combat strategies: Active Defense, Full Defense, Active Attack, and Full Attack. With Active Defense, you are assumed to be giving up risky shots in order to better defend yourself [-2 Attack Priority, -2 Armor Class, -2 To Hit]. On Full Defense, you forfeit all attacks, in the hopes of avoiding being hit yourself [-4 Armor Class, no attacks]. On Active Attack, you are more concerned with hitting your opponent than stopping her from hitting you [no mantlet, +2 Attack Priority, +2 Armor Class, +2 To Hit]. With Full Attack, you give up any pretense at defending yourself, in order to hurt your opponent as much as possible [no shield, +4 Attack Priority, +4 To Hit, +4 Armor Class].
There are several specific circumstances that can also modify your combat rolls. Being blinded or otherwise unable to see your opponent incurs a -4 penalty To Hit and no Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, as does being prone. Simply very bright or dim conditions incur penalties of -2 to Attack Priority and -2 To Hit. Sitting also prevents Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and causes a -2 penalty To Hit. Kneeling puts you at -1 To Hit. For similar reasons, using a weapon in your off hand incurs a -2 To Hit penalty. Firing a missile weapon from a moving mount is at a -2 on Attack Priority and a -4 penalty To Hit.
Finally, here is a sampling of other combat maneuvers you can use. A Called Shot enables you to try and strike a more vulnerable point on an opponent [-2 Attack Priority, -4 To Hit]. The same adjustments are used when striking something your opponent is holding/carrying, or using your attack to do something flashy, like staple her sleeve to the wall, cut the tie on his breeches, etc. Similarly, you can attempt to pin your opponent¹s weapon [-4 To Hit, no penalty on Attack Priority]. You can sacrifice an attack to Parry an incoming blow [on a successful Dexterity check at -(specialization degree), Warriors subtract level from AC, all others subtract 1/2 level]. You can fight with two weapons, but at a slight penalty on To Hit rolls [-2 with the good hand, -4 with the off hand]. By Feinting an attack at your opponent¹s shield flank, you can overbalance her for your next attack [-4 To Hit, opponent gets no shield bonus to AC for remainder of round]. If you are desperate for an extra attack, you can use a shield-punch [no Armor Class bonus from shield for remainder of round]. Oftentimes, you may wish to disarm your opponent [-4 To Hit]. In some cases this is even possible with a thrown weapon [-4 To Hit with a Large weapon, -6 To Hit with a Medium or Small weapon]. To really make an impression, you can not only disarm her, but put the weapon where you want it [-1 Attack Priority, -8 To Hit]. And then you can deliver the final blow with all your might [using two hands with a one-handed weapon causes +2 damage]; if you¹re more merciful, you might use the flat of your blade to merely knock her unconscious [weapon must have non-lethal portion (flat of blade, butt of haft, etc.), (damage ¥5, minus Constitution) percent chance of knock-out]. With any missile weapon, you can take extra time to target a shot [-10 Attack Priority, +2 To Hit]. Two techniques that are best performed with a pole arm are dismounting and fending. To dismount someone, you must have a long enough weapon to give you leverage and reach, and you use your attack to knock her from her steed, instead of harming her [-2 Attack Priority, -2 To Hit, 1-2 (incidental) damage]. Charging into combat guarantees that you will be in range beginning the next round, but leaves you more open to attack [+1 AC with no Dexterity Defensive Adjustment; attack allowed even on non-positive Closing roll]. Fending is the act of keeping your opponent at Closing range through use of a longer weapon [must be using the longer weapon; subract Closing Attack Priority modifier from opponent¹s Attack Priority roll; roll unmodified Attack Priority, -2 To Hit]. Retreating involves backpedaling during melee so as to put a longer weapon to greater advantage while still engaging the opponent [-2 Attack Priority, --1 To Hit, Retreating party moves back up to 1/2 Movement Rate, plus 1-4, in feet]. So as to avoid constantly trying to Close with your opponent, you may Press [-1 To Hit, Pressing party moves up to 1/2 Movement Rate, plus 1-4, in feet].
Armor is slightly different than as listed in the Player's Handbook. The types of armor, in order of increasing protection, are: Hide [AC 9]; Leather or Padded [AC 8]; Accordion mail or Cuir-bouilli [AC 7]; Brigandine or Scale [AC 6]; Mail, Segmented, Splint, or Bar-link Mail [AC 5]; Banded Mail, Bronze Plate, or Scale Mail [AC 4]; Double Mail or Plate Mail [AC 3]; Plated Mail [AC 2]; Field Plate [AC 1]; and Full Plate [AC 0]. There are also several types of shields. Each of these betters Armor Class by one if used by a non-proficient character, no matter how effective they might be in the hands of a skilled warrior. A Buckler improves Armor Class by one for everyone. A Small Shield improves Armor Class by two, a Large Shield by three, and a Mantlet by Four.
Armor is also damaged by attacks. To reflect this, every type of armor has a certain number of Damage Points. Any successful attack causes one Damage Point for every five Hit Points of damage. For every ten Damage Points lost, armor worsens in Armor Class by one. Minor damage (no more than 10% of total) can be repaired by simple maintenance, which anyone can perform. A suit of armor at half its original total can still be repaired, but beyond this point it will require reworking of large portions of it, and will never have the same resiliency it had when new [- 1-10 Damage Points from total]. It is often cheaper and more effective at this point to just make a new suit of armor.
Everyone has a base number of hero points equal to their level (or highest level plus one for every other class, if Multi-classed or Dual-classed). These can be spent to improve or worsen any roll that the character has some influence on. They are worth 1 point per Hero Point on rolls on a d20 or smaller, and 5% per Hero Point on percentile rolls. A character¹s Hero Points are renewed each gaming session. Occasionally, extra Hero Points will be awarded when experience is awarded. Once these are spent, they are not renewed; the character returns to the amount determined by their level.
Infravision: Infravision works by sensing heat. Very cold things are a very deep red. As things get hotter, they become bluer, until the very hottest things are a brilliant blue-violet. At a given temperature, things will appear brighter and lighter as you get closer. Remember also that highly radiative areas give off more heat than insulated ones, whatever their internal temperature, so the would be brighter, but the same color. So a person might be a yellowish blob with two blue-green spots at it¹s fringe (hands) and topped by a bright blue spot (uncovered head). Not all of the races listed in the Player¹s Handbook as having infravision possess it. Instead many of them have Night Vision. This is the ability to see normally in very low light conditions. Just like human vision in dim conditions, everything appears in shades of gray. Other than this, it functions identically to daylight vision. The possessor sees normally in any circumstance where there is any light at all. It functions in a manner similar to an owl¹s or cat¹s night vision, so the user¹s eyes will appear to shine from certain perspectives.
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