Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Freeform Fantasy Races

Before I started writing this blog or publishing, I did a fair amount of writing for myself and the people with whom I gamed. I recently came across some files I'd stashed away, including the "original" NOD RPG, which was really just a mash-up of Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades, with art from Wayne Reynolds, and this little ditty about racial archetypes.

The idea was to swap out the common fantasy races for these archetypes, with options chosen by the players so that they could, in essence, build their own "race" for their character. I used some of these idea later in Space Princess for those races, and a few ideas have probably filtered into Blood & Treasure, but I thought people might enjoy seeing the original, with only a little editing for spelling. Again - assume these were for some unholy mash-up of S&W, C&C and 3rd edition.


These rules are designed to let you model races not found in the Player’s Handbook.

Attribute Modifiers
All of the archetypes in this document except Aliens, Dynamics, and Natives are allowed one attribute modifier from the following list.

• +1 Cha, -1 Wis.
• +1 Dex, -1 Con.
• +1 Int, -1 Str.
• +1 Str, -1 Int and -1 penalty to one ability score of your choice.
• +1 Con, -1 Dex.
• +1 Wis, -1 Cha.

Dynamic Characters
Dynamics are the most common form of adventurer. They rely on training and luck to win the day, not innate powers.

Senses: Normal.

Prime Attributes: Dynamic characters may choose three prime attributes instead of the usual two.

Alien Characters
Aliens are defined by strange physical and mental powers. They are probably the most versatile type of hero, after the dynamic. Virtually any kind of “super powered” hero can be realized with the alien type.

Senses: Normal – but see below.

Powers: Aliens can choose three powers from the following list.

Mental Powers
All mental powers that are derived from Jason Vey’s psionics rules follow those rules normally. The alien should be treated as a 1st level psionicist for the purpose of using the ability. If an alien takes a psionic mental power multiple times, he increases his effective level for using that power by 1. Thus, an alien that took metabolic control three times would use the power as a 3rd level psionicist.

  • Alien Mind: Creatures that try to read or control your mind must make an Intelligence save or be confused for 1 round.
  • Clairaudience: See psionics rules.
  • Clairvoyance: See psionics rules.
  • Dual-Mind: You are capable of engaging in two mental tasks at once, making an attribute check for each at -2. You cannot cast two spells or use to psionic powers simultaneously with this power. In addition, you also get to make two saving throws against mental effects. As long as one mind makes it save, you can ignore the effect, though you suffer a -2 penalty to all actions.
  • Empathy: See psionics rules.
  • Heightened Mentality: Increase one of your mental attributes (Int, Wis, or Cha) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Metabolic Control: See psionics rules.
  • Obfuscation: See psionics rules.
  • Psionically Gifted: You gain a +1 bonus to all psionic power checks.
  • Psychic Defense: See psionics rules.
  • Spell Resistance: You gain spell resistance 1. Each additional time you take this ability you increase your spell resistance by +1.
  • Telepathic Communication (Wisdom): See psionics rules.

Physical Powers

  • Chameleon: This is the ability to change the body’s colors (though not the color of items worn or carried) to match the environment. Generally it should give a bonus of +1 to +5 on hide checks.
  • Energy Resistance: You gain resistance to one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This can be power can taken more than once, but it applies to a different energy form each time you take it.
  • Extra Arms: When using two-weapon fighting, you may make two off-hand attacks instead of one. Alternatively, you may wield an additional shield in combat.
  • Extra Legs: You are a quadruped – you gain a +4 bonus to avoid being knocked over. In addition, your carrying capacity is increased by 10%.
  • Heightened Physique: Increase one of your physical attributes (Str, Con, or Dex) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Heightened Senses: You gain twilight vision, an enhanced sense of smell, and a +2 bonus to all listen checks.
  • Improved Speed: Your base land movement is increased by +5 ft. This can be taken more than once, and its benefits stack.
  • Natural Armor: You have scales, thick fur, or thick skin of some kind that give you a natural AC 12. Each additional time that you take this power you increase your natural armor by +2.
  • Natural Weapons: You either gain a bite, claw, gore, slam, slap, sting, talon, or tentacle attack that deals 1d4 damage. This attack can be used in addition to weapon attacks at no penalty. Each additional time you take this power you can either gain an additional attack form, or increase the damage of an existing attack form by one dice size.
  • Poison: You are poisonous – either through bite, skin contact, or writhing snakes on your head. Opponents who are stricken must succeed at a Constitution save or suffer 1d6 points of damage.
  • Quills/Spikes: Your outer arms, back, head, legs, etc are covered in quills or spikes. You gain a +1 bonus to AC, and can inflict 1d4 points of bonus damage when grappling or grappled. Opponents that strike you without using weapons suffer this damage automatically.
  • Regeneration: Gains fast healing 1.
  • Spider Climb: You can use spider climb, as the spell, at will.
  • Stretch: You can increase your reach by 5 ft (at the cost of 2 points of strength), and squeeze into small spaces with a dexterity check.
  • Tentacles: Tentacles emerge from some portion of your body – they may replace your arms or legs, or jut out from your chin. They grant you a slam attack that deals 1d4 damage, and grant you a +2 bonus to grappling attacks and climbing.

Sample Alien: Githyanki

The githyanki are descended from human slaves kept by the mind flayers. Ages ago they rebelled and escaped to the Astral Plane, where they now dwell. Githyankis have three mental powers: Alien mind, heightened mentality (+1 Int), and psionically gifted.

Beaste Characters
A concept drawn from folklore, beastes are shape shifting magical animals.

Senses: Twilight vision, enhanced sense of smell.

Alternate Form: Beastes can alternate their form between that of an animal, a humanoid, and a hybrid form. Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the beaste. In each form the character’s level and attribute scores are unchanged.

Animal Form: When in animal form the beaste is virtually undetectable from a normal animal. Beastes gain the ability to speak with normal animals when in their animal form. While in animal form, a beaste cannot use any weapons, armor, or equipment, nor can they cast spells. They can understand any language they know, but may not be able to reply.

Humanoid Form: When in humanoid form, beastes looks like a normal humanoid of a type chosen during character creation (i.e. elf, dwarf, human, orc, etc). Whatever their chosen humanoid guise, they always retain some distinctive feature of their beaste form. The choice is up to the player. In humanoid form, the beaste loses its twilight vision and enhanced sense of smell.

Hybrid Form: A beaste in hybrid form appears as a combination of animal and humanoid – their exact appearance is up to the player. In this form, they retain the special attacks and qualities of their animal form, but also have working humanoid hands, and can speak humanoid languages.

Speak To Animals: In all forms, a beaste can speak to animals at will.

Sample Beaste: Kitsune

Kitsune are fox beastes of Japanese folklore. They are capable of taking the form of a human, fox, or human-fox hybrid. They gain a +1 bonus to charisma and a -1 penalty to wisdom.

Elemental Characters
Elementals carry the blood of elementals in their veins. All elementals show this heritage in their physical appearance.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Energy Resistance: All elementals have 50% resistance to one energy type based on their elemental heritage:

Air 50% resistance to electricity
Earth 50% resistance to acid
Fire 50% resistance to fire
Water 50% resistance to cold

Elemental Power: Elementals have special abilities based on their elemental heritage.

Air: Reduce falling damage by 50%, double jump distance.
Earth: +2 AC vs. overbearing attacks, +1 natural AC
Fire: Deal 1 point of fire damage with all melee attacks.
Water: Breathe underwater, gain swim speed equal to land speed.

Sample Elemental: Fire Gnome
The fire gnomes are gnomes that dwell near volcanoes. They have 50% resistance to fire and can deal 1 extra point of damage with their melee attacks. In addition, they have the small subtype, giving them a +2 bonus to dexterity and a -2 penalty to strength. They have a +1 bonus to intelligence and a -1 penalty to strength (making a total -3 penalty to strength).

Macabre Characters
Macabres are either born from the undead (i.e. their parents were made undead while they were in the womb, or they were sired by a vampire, or there was a strange ritual involved), the result of botched resurrections on their pregnant mothers, or maybe they are actually sentient undead. Macabres can choose to be intangibles (like ghosts, shadows, or wraiths) or corporeals (like zombies, ghouls or vampires). They can be small, medium, or large.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Macabres are damaged by positive energy and healed by negative energy. Thus cure light wounds will inflict 1d8 points of damage on a macabre, while inflict light wounds will cure 1d8 points of damage.

Stunning Touch: Macabres have a touch attack that stuns living creatures for 1d4 rounds if they fail a constitution saving throw. They can use this once per day.

Intangibles: Intangible macabres can use ethereal jaunt once per day.

Corporeals: Corporeal macabres have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits.

Sample Macabre: True Ghoul
The true ghouls are a race of undead that haunts the deepest reaches of the Underworld. Unlike normal ghouls ,they are intelligent and more-or-less civilized. A true ghoul has the normal resistance to positive and negative energy and stunning touch of a macabre. As corporeal macabres, they have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits. They have a +1 bonus to constitution and a -1 penalty to dexterity.

Magical Characters
Magical characters have magical power flowing through their veins. This is usually due to a fey, planar, or draconic heritage.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Magicals can choose to have 25% resistance to any three energy types of their choice, 90% resistance to sleep and charm effects, or a flat magic resistance of 10%.

Spells: Magicals can choose four 0-level spells, two 1st level spells, or one 2nd level spell to cast as spell-like abilities once per day. The magical character has a caster level of 1 with his spell-like abilities.

The list a magical character chooses his spell-like abilities from often corresponds to his heritage: wizard for draconics, illusionist or druid for feys, and cleric for planars.

The spells chosen must be approved by the CK.

Sample Magical: Tiefling
Tieflings have fiendish blood in their veins. They have 25% resistance to cold, fire and poison damage, and can cast darkness once per day. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Native Characters
The native is tied to where he has grown to adulthood, whether he is a barbarian of the forests or a city slicker.

Senses: Normal.

Native Environment: Natives must designate one “environment” as their native environment. A native can choose from the following environments: Aquatic, Arctic, Desert, Forest, Jungle, Hills, Marsh, Mountains, Plains, Underground, and Urban. Man-made dungeons do not count as an urban or underground environment.

All natives receive a +1 bonus to initiative, attribute checks that would benefit from familiarity with an area, and +10 ft to movement when in their native environment.

In addition, natives can choose to get either a +1 bonus to hit three traditional enemies of their people (chosen with CK’s approval), or a +1 bonus to hit with a traditional weapon of their people.

Finally, natives get a +2 bonus to AC when fighting large creatures native to their native environment.

Sample Native: Cimmerian
The Cimmerians of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian tales are native to a land of steep, rugged hills. In such environments they gain a +1 bonus to initiative and attribute checks, a +10’ to their movement. Their traditional enemies are the Picts, Vanir, and Hyperboreans, against whom they are +1 to hit. Against large creatures native to Cimmeria they have a +2 bonus to AC.

Promethean Characters
Monkbot, from HERE
Note: I think I snagged this from somewhere else - maybe Jason Vey - if anyone knows, let me know

Prometheans are creatures that are manufactured by other creatures. They are sentient, and as capable of emotion as their player wishes them to be. Prometheans can be built from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, stone, clay, porcelain, or even unliving flesh.

Constructed: Prometheans are immune to any effect that requires a constitution save that doesn’t normally affect objects. They do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, although they can benefit from imbibing a magical potion.

Outer Shell: Prometheans gains special abilities based on the composition of their outer shell. Choose one.

Ceramic: +2 to charisma checks
Cloth: +2 to dexterity checks
Metal: Natural AC 12
Wax: Change self once per day, vulnerable to fire
Wood: Natural AC 11, swim speed equal to half their land speed

Innards: Prometheans gain special abilities based on their innards. Choose one.

Clockwork: +2 to grapple attacks and to disarm AC due to the ability to lock their grasp
Cotton: Cold resistance equal to 25%
Hollow: Conceal objects one size category smaller within its body
Sand: Fire resistance equal to 25%
Sawdust: Acid resistance equal to 25%
Solid: 25% chance to negate extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits

Sample Promethean: Karakuri
In real life, karakuri are primitive Japanese clockwork automatons. In a fantasy game they can be prometheans of ceramic composition and clockwork innards. This gives them a +2 to charisma checks, a +2 bonus to grapple attacks, and a +2 bonus to AC vs. disarming attacks. Since they are constructs, they need not eat, sleep, or breath. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Racial Subtypes
The following subtypes can be added to any racial type.

Aquatic: Aquatic creatures can breath underwater and gain a swim speed equal to their land speed. They must immerse their bodies in water at least once per day or lose 1 point of Constitution to dehydration.

Avian: Avian creatures have working wings; they gain a fly speed equal to their land speed, but suffer a -2 penalty to Constitution due to their hollow bones.

Insectoid: An insectoid’s antenna give it the ability to fight without the benefit of sight. They suffer half the normal penalty when fighting blind.

Subterranean: Subterranean creatures have darkvision to 60 feet, but are -1 to hit in bright light. Alternatively, they can have deepvision to 120 feet, but suffer a -3 penalty to hit in bright light.

Size: A creature’s size is assumed to be Medium, i.e. between 5 and 7 feet in height. Optionally, it can be Tiny, Small, or Large.

  • Tiny (1-2 ft): +4 Dex, -4 Str, 50% reduced carrying capacity
  • Small (3-4 ft): +2 Dex, -2 Str, 25% reduced carrying capacity
  • Large (8-12 ft): +2 Str, -2 Dex, 25% increased carrying capacity

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