Action X – Still Ruminating on Classes

In a nutshell – With Action X, I’m trying to do with the Modern SRD what Blood & Treasure did with the fantasy SRD. The challenge – the SRD has a lot of history behind it – many editions of D&D with all the wonderful nonsense that goes along with it. The Modern SRD does not and, even worse, it’s just so damn boring and mechanical. Worse yet – it keeps making my writing boring and mechanical.

So – I bring an appeal to all of the geniuses that read this blog – what are the modern archetypes you’d like to see in a fun role-playing game not set in a fantasy milieu. By “modern”, I pretty much mean from Victorian times to today (or beyond into the near hard sci-fi future or even pulp sci-fi future).

I started with numerous classes, then boiled them way down and now I’m left feeling uninspired by them. Now I’m beginning to turn back to my original idea of a dozen classes that really hit the archetypes of modern action/adventure. I can’t hit every archetype of course, and new classes can always be added, but I’d like to get a strong core of fun classes that will spark people’s imaginations.

Some ideas (some of which are advanced classes in the Modern SRD, but which will need some TLC to make them anything more than collections of dry, boring bonuses to dice rolls) and some ideas for inspiration:

Brute (Mr. T) – hate the name; love Amazon, but that only applies to the ladies

Daredevil (Clyde Beatty, Howling Mad Murdock, Allan Quatermain)

Detective (Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Jim Rockford, Thomas Magnum)

Gangster (Bonny & Clyde, Tony Montana)

Gunslinger (Lone Ranger, anyone from a John Woo flick)

Hacker (they abound in the news these days)

Martial Artist (Bruce Lee) – the name is so boring, though, but ninja and kung-fu master are too specific

Psion (Prof. X)

Scientist (Professor from Giligan’s Island, Spock) – maybe Brainiac would be a better name

Soldier (Sgt. Rock, Captain America, Hannibal Smith)

Sorcerer (Willow, Dr. Strange)

Spy (James Bond, Mata Hari)

I’ve thought about throwing in some odd balls as well – Cyborg, Mutant, Vampire – stuff like that. Almost a “race as class” concept for modern gaming.

So – any additional ideas out there? Let me know in the comments. Dangit – I want to make a fun modern RPG!

My Corner

Thought I’d share a picture of a corner of my study (no, I don’t have a man-cave – I’m sick of this trend of making men appear foolish or primitive to boost the fragile egos of modern women – come on ladies, I’d like to think you’re better than that).

I don’t know if it’s geeky enough (and I don’t care – I’ve never been one for sub-cultures), but it’s where I keep my role-playing game nonsense and a few comic book and comic strip collections I enjoy, as well as my grandfather’s chair, a map of the heraldry of Scotland (Scottish, English and Welsh on my mother’s side, German and English on my father’s), a few prints from Jeff Dee’s kickstarters (Morgan Ironwolf became the source of a husband-wife grudge match not seen since the Old Man got his major award), a globe I got for Christmas when I was a wee lad, a coonskin cap from Disneyland and an old sailing ship that used to grace the old Curtis Mathis in my childhood home.

I guess the funny thing is, I rarely work or write in my study these days, preferring to use my laptop out in the family room with, you guessed it, the family. My study is now primarily where I exercise – the treadmill is just to right of the lamp, and I have a pair of dumbbells and a kettle bell just out of sight by the chair.

Okay – back to work. I have quarterly reports to concoct, an issue of NOD to complete and a NOD Companion to work on.

Prepared Spells Without the Preparation

Demonologist by Jon Kaufman, for the NOD Companion

I just had an idea – probably not a new one – and I thought it would be worth a mention.

When I’m writing NOD or Hexcrawls, I usually do not write down the prepared spells for the various spellcasters. There are a few reasons for this, but the top two are (1) it often takes up too much room and (2) it makes some people who run games feel locked in with those spells. Tonight, while writing character stat blocks for the Virgin Woode (progress continues a bit more slowly than I’d like), a notion occurred to me for allowing on-the-fly spell preparation for game masters.

The basic idea is this: The GM picks a spell they want the caster to have. They roll 1d20. If they roll under the caster’s Intelligence score (you can substitute Wisdom for clerics and druids, if you prefer), then it means the caster had the wherewithal to prepare that particular spell for that particular day. Easy as pie.

So – I have a 4th level NPC magic-user with a 14 intelligence. He gets into a scuffle with the player characters and I decide I want him to cast magic missile. I roll the d20, get a 13, and that means he prepared magic missile that day. If he wants to cast it again, I need to roll again to see if he was smart enough to prepare it twice.

Now – you might be saying, “Yes, but what if I have an evil cleric NPC and it turns out she didn’t prepare a basic spell like cure light wounds or inflict light wounds. That’s stupid.”

To get around this, it probably makes sense to scribble down a few spells, especially low level spells, that we don’t have to roll for to check, at least for clerics and druids, who have all the spells at their disposal. For magic-user, it’s arguable that the only spell they certainly have in the spellbooks is read magic.

So – 3 basic spells (using spells from Blood & Treasure – your system may vary) of each of the low levels that we can assume a cleric and druid and magic-user would have prepared:

Cleric (Lawful)
1st level – bless, cure light wounds, protection from evil
2nd level – cure moderate wounds, hold person, silence
3rd level – cure serious wounds, dispel magic, prayer

Cleric (Chaotic)
1st level – cause fear, inflict light wounds, protection from good
2nd level – inflict moderate wounds, hold person, silence
3rd level – animate dead, blindness, dispel magic

1st level – cure light wounds, entangle, produce flame
2nd level – barkskin, delay poison, resist energy
3rd level – dominate animal, poison, wind wall

1st level – detect magic, read magic, sleep
2nd level – detect thoughts, levitate, web
3rd level – dispel magic, fly, suggestion

Of course, if you don’t want to go through this exercise, it’s always acceptable for the GM to simply decide, on the fly, that the cleric has cure light wounds prepared, and I’m not going to bother rolling for it.