Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hail the Evolutionary [New Class]

I had reason this week to think about the old science-fiction novel Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. In this seminal work, Stapledon explores the future evolution of mankind, through 18 different forms, many of them of our own creation using genetic engineering. Now, I will admit that I haven't yet read the book (it's waiting in line behind about six others), but the idea inspired me, so with a little research on Wikipedia (which I think is usually sufficient when preparing game material - any more information than that and you become too obsessed with making things perfect instead of fudging things for the sake of playability) I present this rather odd little class ... the Evolutionary.

Evolutionaries are strange men and women who devote themselves to the writings of a mad monk who described, in startling detail, the physical path that led from the basic oozes (i.e. oozes begat plants with begat vermin which begat animals which begat magical beasts which begat monstrous humanoids with begat humanoids which begat humans) to the human form. Within their bodies, he claims, lies the potential for stepping into future stops on this mystic path, allowing these evolutionaries to actually change their form as they learn and grow. With each form, they gain new abilities.

Hit Dice: d8 (+3 hit points per level after 9th)

Attack As: Clerics

Weapons Permitted: Any

Armor Permitted: Leather armor, ring armor and shields.

All evolutionaries must be humans to start with. They tend to be arrogant and overbearing, for they believe they know a truth beyond truth. It is for this reason that their relations with clerics and druids are somewhat strained, though they acknowledge their power and accept their blessings. Evolutionaries adventure that they might grow and collect monies to support their church and its sage fathers and mothers, the “Last Men”.

Level XP HD Save Title
1 0 1d8 15 First Man
2 2,000 2d8 14 Second Man
3 4,000 3d8 13 Third Man
4 8,000 4d8 12 Fourth Man
5 16,000 5d8 11 Fifth Man
6 35,000 6d8 10 Sixth Man
7 70,000 7d8 9 Seventh Man
8 150,000 8d8 8 Eighth Man
9 300,000 9d8 7 Ninth Man
10 500,000 10d8 6 Last Man
11 700,000 9d8+6 5 Last Man
12+ 900,000  9d8+9 4 Last Man

Note - The level titles reference "man", but can just as easily be read as "First Woman", for the class is open to either gender.

At each level, an evolutionary changes his or her physical form. All evolutionaries enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. polymorph and other effects that would forcibly transmogrify them. If an evolutionary is killed and reincarnated (per the spell), they always lose one level and return to the form of a sub-man (see below).

An evolutionary’s ability scores remain stable from form to form (though some forms increase or decrease them slightly), and their memories and personality remain fairly stable as well.

First Man (1st level): The first men and women are humans. They learn insights in defeating the ancient forms of humanity. At first level, this gives them a +1 bonus to hit and damage oozes and a +2 bonus to save against the special attacks of oozes.

Second Man (2nd level): Upon attaining the second level, the evolutionary’s form changes. They become taller, adding at least 3 feet to their forms. Their necks thicken and their heads grow over-large for their bodies (improve Wisdom by 1 to a maximum of 18), their legs become as stout as a dwarf’s and their toes merge together. The second man’s skin becomes as firm as carved granite and finely molded, their skin luminous and their eyes large and the color of jade. A second man gains the ability to use ESP three times per day and gains combat insights against plants.

Third Man (3rd level): The third man shrinks in stature, becoming slight and lithe (improve Dexterity by 1 to a maximum of 18). He has sunny brown skin covered by downy red gold hair. His eyes are golden, his face compact and with a cat-like muzzle, with full lips and distinctive large ears. The third man’s six fingers are long and supple, like antennae of living steel. The third man loses the ESP ability of the second man, but gains a thief’s ability (as a 3rd level thief) to move silently, climb and pick pockets.

Fourth Man (4th level): The fourth man makes a startling transformation into a giant, floating brain. The fourth man improves his intelligence and wisdom scores by 1 (to a maximum of 18) and gain the ability to cast spells as a 4th level magic-users. They store their spells in their minds, rather than spellbooks, and begin with as many spells as they can cast per day, determined randomly. Fourth men move by flying at the normal movement rate and can levitate in place. Since they have no bodies or hands, they cannot wear armor or use weapons or other forms of equipment. Their thick skins give them an armor bonus of +2 and they can attack by slamming into opponents, dealing 1d4 points of damage. As in previous forms, they gain combat insights against vermin.

Fifth Man (5th level): In the form of the fifth man, the evolutionary regains a humanoid form, twice the height of a human being (+1 bonus to Strength, to a maximum of 18). Armor in this form costs twice as much as normal and they are capable of using two-handed swords in one hand. They have eight fingers on their hands (the sixth finger of their third form splits in this form into two tiny fingers and a thumb), and regain the ability to pick pockets as a 5th level thief. A fifth man has no hair other than a thick skull cap of ruddy brown hair and large eyebrows to shade their eyes. The fifth men gain resistance to fire and combat insights against normal and giant-sized animals.

Sixth Man (6th level): The sixth form of an evolutionary is a bit of a throwback. They become much reduced in stature, to roughly the size of a halfling or dwarf, and their Intelligence and Strength are both reduced by 1 point (to a minimum of 3), while their Dexterity and Constitution increase by 1 point (to a maximum of 18). Sixth men are expert hunters, gaining the ability to track as a ranger of 6th level, and their combat insights extend to magical beasts.

Seventh Man (7th level): The seventh man increases in height, being about as tall as an elf, and his bones become hollow (-1 penalty to Strength and Constitution, to a minimum of 3). In this lighter form, they suffer only half damage from falls. He develops skin flaps under his arms, which give him the ability to fly at twice his normal movement rate. He also improves his Dexterity score by 1 point (to a maximum of 18). These folk must wear specially prepared armor (costs double normal) if they are to fly while armored. Their vision becomes exceedingly keen, allowing them to see in darkness as well as a dwarf and to find secret doors as well as an elf. They retain the sixth man’s ability to track as a ranger, and their combat insights extend to monstrous humanoids.

Eighth Man (8th level): The eighth form of an evolutionary is that of a substantial humanoid (+1 to Strength and Constitution, to a maximum of 18) with a long, narrow head (-1 to Wisdom and Charisma). Eighth men are rather pedestrian and conservative in their views, and have a straight-forward attitude pleasing to dwarves. Their minds are logical and their insights piercing them, giving them a +2 bonus to save vs. illusions and mind-controlling or altering effects, and the ability to find and remove traps as a thief of 8th level. Their combat insights extend to all non-human humanoids, and they gain the ability to modify a human being (per polymorph) into any other humanoid form once per day with a successful touch attack.

Ninth Man (9th level): The form of the ninth men is that of a dwarfish human, almost as broad as he is tall. They are thickly muscled (+2 bonus to Strength, to a maximum of 18) and have thick skin that provides an additional +2 armor bonus. Ninth men have a +2 bonus to save vs. hold spells and any effect that would check a person’s progress or hinder their ability to move. Their combat insights apply to all humanoids, including humans. They are immune to poison. They retain the eighth man's ability to polymorph human beings, but can now do so with their gaze rather than touch.

Last Man (10th level): The last man is the final form of the evolutionary, the end of all his struggles and tribulations. The final form is highly variable. It is always humanoid in form, but its precise form is determined by the player.

Last men exist in a group mind with all other last men, giving them an effective bonus of +2 to intelligence, wisdom and charisma, to a maximum of 18. They can communicate telepathically to a range of 1 mile, and can set up a telepathic group mind with up to six other humanoid creatures once per day, allowing them to communicate telepathically with one another at a range of up to 1 mile.

The last men’s group mind also allows them to contact other plane once per day, asking the group mind questions as though they were actually contacting a higher power.

Last men have an alien mindset that gives them a +2 bonus to save vs. mind reading and mind control. They can use ESP one per day on other humanoid creatures, and can use polymorph other once per day on any non-humanoid creature, though its new form must be in of type only one level higher or lower than its original type (i.e. a plant could be polymorphed into an ooze or a vermin form).

The Last man is immune to polymorph and shapechange.

SUB-MEN: The sub-men are brutish humanoids who stand about the size of an elf, but are much broader and bulky. They have a +1 bonus to starting Strength and Constitution (to a maximum of 18) and a -1 penalty to starting intelligence and wisdom (to a minimum of 3). Sub-men may advance as fighters.


  1. Hey Matt, I'm sorry this comment is not on your post, but wanted to say when I wrote my post the other day I hadn't realized until then about not trying out Land of Now. I just purchases issue #5 because of your article on Medieval Mining. Fantastic! Wanted to let you know I will correcting that oversight of mine in the future and start collecting the back issues of Land of Nod.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it - and thank you!

  2. I'm going to carefully steal this & adapt it for some DM evil! Nice work!

  3. Glad you like it. I was originally thinking of doing something with those evolutions for Space Princess, but then I came up with this this morning and went with it.

  4. Can I take the Odd John prestige class?

  5. Ha! Odd John is going to show up in Space Princess as Homo Superior.


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