Monday, March 28, 2022

Strange Ways

 I have kept myself very busy this week! Once I finished work on The Queen of Decay, I decided to create another project. Namely, I decided to grab all the classes with I have created over the past few years that added their own twist on the magic system for Dungeons & Dragons and gave them a serious overhaul, and bound them in a single PDF entitled Strange Ways.

 My created classes have been all over the map in terms of how they are presented. They have been done for different systems, written using different conventions, and often created to work only on the context of a given game. 

I decided to change that first. Each class has been rejiggered to work with TSR era systems and retroclones without any serious messing around. They use familiar tables and designs:

In some cases this alone required some heavy editing in some places, but worth it. So long as you are dealing with a system grounded in TSR Dungeons & Dragons this should be pretty easy to adapt.

I altered the classes so that more of their abilities came in at the low levels. Where really impressive abilities come into play later, I tended to move them upward a bit. And I added some Dominion play for each class. 

Some games were built for systems with a heavy reliance on skill systems or Ability Checks. Where possible I pared back reliance on skill systems or information that you wouldn't find on a B)X clone's character sheet to make it more in keeping with the earliest editions.

And, of course, I had to do an embarassing amount of editing.

So, let's talk about what's in it 

The Alchemist Class from Ær was a test class that I shared over a year ago. It was designed as a substitute healer to the Cleric in a world where the gods have gone into hiding. I built it out of bits and pieces of an older Alchemist I'd made for D&D3e, Pathfinder 2r's Alchemist, and quite a few newer ideas, like the idea of addictive potions.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist relies on potions, drugs, bombs, and poison to deal with danger. They carry a bag of glue strips, oil, acid, sleeping potions, and explosives that they can use to support allies, soften up enemies, and manipulate the battlefield. Out of combat, surgery and poison let them patch up the wounded. It is a class built on planning, foresight, and resource management.

The new version is tidier, uses generic D&D stats and saves, has an standard OSR level progression, and spreads progression out over 20 rather than 10 levels.

The Incinerator

Sienna Fuegonassus fan art by Spader7
Inspired by movies like Carrie, Hellboy and Firestarter, as well as by the character of Sienna Fuegonassus from the Warhammer Fantasy; Vermintide games, the incinerator is about equal to a cleric in terms of armor, weapons, saves, and hit dice, but rather than have the clerics array of healing, divination, and boosting spells, they have a night unlimited supply of low level fire effects that enhance their damage, let them do minor damage to a lot of enemies at once, and grant them a few unusual powers. However, they are constantly at risk of losing control and burning everything around them. Players constantly have to balance between the temptation to use their powers and the mounting danger they represent.

 I had originally designed this class for a very magic heavy campaign of Low Fantasy Gaming. To make it work for any OSR game, I had to add in an experience progression chart, saving throws that made sense for the class, and strip out some class features that are very specific to LFG. I also had to spread things out a little thinner, loading more of their abilities at the front of the progression, and pushing back their more impressive abilities too much higher levels.

The Psion

Designed for my Golden Heresy campaign, the Psion draws a lot of its mechanical inspiration from Machinations of the Space Princess, but redesigned to use the D&D3e psionic discipline concept, and primarily used powers that have been included in most editions of D&D.

Originally for Swords & Wizardry, this class required the least amount of work to convert for generic OSR play. I mostly had to give them five, rather than one saving throw. Powers were also adjusted to reflect the five-save system.


The Sorcerer class was inspired by a special Magic-User class from The Dozen Dooms by Baldrage, one of my all-time favorite sourcebooks.  It is a class that allows the character to improvise magical effects instead of knowing spells... But do so at great risk to themselves, with chaotic side-effects and dangerous mishaps a frequent danger.

In the hands of a fair DM and a creative player this can be one hell of a ride!

Like other classes inspired by alternative magic systems in books I have read, my adaptation is deliberately crunchy and more constrained than the original. I light my magic carefully constrained and tied to existing mechanics.

This was another one originally made for Low Fantasy Gaming, and so needed a lot of tweaks to make it fit in with a more generic OSR modality: different dice, saving throws, and stripping out of extra abilities was it a start 

I also took some time to hone and tidy my infamous Wild Magic Effects table.

The Voidwarped

This was a class I created for Crawling the Purple Isles, my solo play project using BECMI and Venger Satanis's The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence. When a PC cleric threw himself into a random portal during a crisis of faith, was cast into the Plane of Pure Dissolution and devoured by a Great Old one, then returned to life thanks to a fluke divine intervention (from the wrong god), I needed a new class to capture what that must have done to him.

The Voidwarped get strange and terrifying powers, as well as horrid mutations as they slowly Lise their mind and, as they level, transform into a terrible alien entity. Great fun for a certain kind of player.

This version of the Voidwarped is lightweight, with cleaner titles, and tidier tables. It also has its own save tables which changes the probabilities in play slightly.

(With a surprisingly open culture illustration by the legendary Geier!

The Witch

One of the most awesome creations I have reviewed here is Lucas Rolim's Pacts & Blades, and it's sourcebook Salamandur Household. Pacts & Blades features a very freeform magic system involving making bargains with alien spirits. It is a powerful, risky system that I used for a my first solo play blog (and I ran and blogged about three, solo P&B games,) as well as reviewing them.

I wanted to create a system that did something similar, but that worked with OSR mechanics, as Pacts & Blades is essentially a rules overlay that has little to do with existing mechanics.

And I have done so with significant crunch for what is a relatively freeform system. The GM doesn't have to guess at how much damage they are going to do, how many targets they can affect, or but the range of the spell is. All of that is taken care of in the mechanic section.

My first version of it was made for Ær, and so used a different stance, had fixed hit point totals, no experience point tables, different saves, and a 10 level limit. It also relied heavily on advantage and disadvantage mechanics rather than numerical bonuses and penalties.

Accordingly, I had to essentially rewrite this whole class. Editing every mechanic to fit a totally different play paradigm. The only section that hasn't been at least partially rewritten is the list of known spirits.

This is a really wild creation that I enjoyed immensely at my table in the hands of players.

Want to see more?

This is by far the prettiest book I have made, too with a ton of art from open sources all over, and painstaking work to lay things out for ease of reading, I am very proud of it.

It is currently available on .

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