There are so many kinds of fantasy to choose from. Old D&D was a mish-mash of everything from King Arthur to Hammer films to Elric (which is why I love it), Warhammer does dark and gothic, there are the oiled up barbarians from 80’s movies, fairy and folk tales, weird fantasy and horror … and also what I would have called in my youth “girly fantasy”.
OK – don’t get up in arms over the nickname, but when I was growing up this was the stuff more girls liked than guys. I think most folks know what I’m talking about – rainbows, unicorns, pegasi, fairies, etc. Let’s call it “Rainbow Fantasy”.
While Rainbow Fantasy may have ended up in 80’s TV cartoons and on junior high school folders, it started long before that. Old fairy tales made some use of it, Baum’s OZ, where people cannot die is within this category, and the “hippies” during the psychedelic 60’s who were besotted with flowers and nature and pleasure in all its forms certainly used it. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is like a hex crawl through this sort of fantasy.
Where Rainbow Fantasy has gotten short shrift, I think, is fantasy role playing games. I remember when a few guys in the neighborhood and me starting playing some D&D back in the 80’s. We invited a neighborhood girl (a close friend of mine, practically a sister) to play. She created a Rainbow Fantasy-style elf character, and we all looked at her like she was insane. He had a cutesy name. D&D just wasn’t for cutesy names.
Well, of course D&D is for cutesy names or whatever else you want to cram into it. It’s a system, not a genre. Jeff Rients said it best when he said, “You play Conan, I play Gandalf. We team up to fight Dracula.” As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate all sorts of things I didn’t as a kid, especially something as strange and creative as Rainbow Fantasy.
With that in mind, I’m going to write a few articles to bring a little rainbow into the deep, dark dungeon. Up first is a character class called the Butterfly, inspired by an old piece of fantasy art from a magazine that had very little to do with fantasy. I’ll then discuss the ways we can treat alignment and quests in this sort of fantasy to make it work, and I’ll follow up with a discussion of how existing classes and races might work in a rainbow fantasy campaign as well as introduce one more class.
You play She-Ra, I’ll play the Last Unicorn. Dracula will never know what hit him.
The Butterfly Class
Butterflies are a mystic calling of some people. Those with a lust for wandering in wide meadows of cool grass and chatting with hummingbirds, those who wish to escape the bonds of the earth and the boundaries of the mind. They can see the beauty of life and nature despite the ugliness and sorrow, and seek to spread that beauty far and wide. The butterfly is like a light in the darkness.
|Requirements & Restrictions|
Ability Scores: Dex 11, Cha 13
Armor Permitted: None
Weapons Permitted: Club, dagger, sling, staff
Butterflies add their level to the following task checks:
Communication: Butterflies can communicate with creatures that speak languages they do not understand. Much of this is through empathy and hand gestures (but not THAT hand gesture – it’s just so crude).
Fly: Butterflies can perform all manner of aerobatic stunts while flying with their natural wings or while mounted on flying mounts.
Handle Animals: Butterflies can calm frightened and hostile animals, and tame wild animals. They can teach tame animals simple tricks.
Move Silently: Butterflies can walk slowly and lightly without making a sound.
Butterflies can see auras. This includes magic auras generated by spells, magic items and the like, and alignments (Law, Chaos and Neutrality).
A butterfly can speak with all animals and is always considered a friend by non-predatory beasts. These animals will help a butterfly whenever she requests it, as long as it does not put them in direct danger and as long as she treats them with respect and kindness. A butterfly gets a +2 bonus to reaction checks with predators, and might be able to convince them to help her given the right inducements.
A 2nd level butterfly can shrink to tiny size, about 6 inches tall, and grow butterfly wings. She can do this once per day per two levels. At this size, the butterfly can fly at a speed of 60 feet per round. In this form, she can weave magic (see below). The butterfly can remain at this size for as long as she likes, and can return to normal at will.
A 3rd level butterfly can grow butterfly wings while at full size and use them to fly at a speed of 40 feet per round. She can do this once per day per three levels.
At 4th level, a butterfly can take the form of a cloud of butterflies. She can do this once per day per four levels. Treat this as the same as a magic-user taking gaseous form.
Whenever a butterfly is flying, she leaves behind a trail of glitterdust (per the spell) which falls on any creature beneath her flight path.
Butterfly Spell List
1st level – Audible glamer, calm emotions, charm person, color spray, dancing lights, detect secret doors, faerie fire, goodberry, hypnotism, light, reduce person, sleep
2nd level – Continual light, cure light wounds, darkvision, glitterdust, hold animal, invisibility, pyrotechnics, reduce animal, summon swarm (insects only), web
3rd level – Blink, cure moderate wounds, daylight, hold person, invisibility sphere, shrink item, sleep II, speak with plants
4th level – Charm monster, cure serious wounds, false forest, giant vermin, invisibility II, rainbow pattern
Butterfly Class Table