View Full Version : World interaction vs Built-in features of classes

2012-09-23, 10:30 AM
One of the interesting things about the Wizard class is that its abilities come from both world interaction and built-in features.

By this, I mean that the Wizard both gains spells "naturally" as the Wizard levels, and can cast higher level spells, but also can gain spells (and in theory lose spells) via interacting with the world -- finding spells, buying spells, or even losing their spellbook(s).

For the most part, other (core) classes don't have that kind of built-in world interaction mechanic.

What would that look like?

A combat style type character might be able to learn maneuvers from masters. Priest type characters might be able to gain divine favor by doing deeds that align with their gods. You could have a mechanism of "Heroic Deeds" whereby you hook into some action (like slaying a dragon and eating its heart) to gain some kind of mechanical effect.

A nice thing about the Wizard mechanic of getting spells is that there is both the "mundane" way to get spells (find someone to buy them from), and the "adventure" way to get spells (defeat someone with a spellbook, or find secret scrolls with arcane secrets in them).

On top of that, the Wizard class is functional without the world interaction -- the world interaction just boosts the class.


2012-09-23, 10:58 PM
In my campaign, characters can invent new things: materials, maneuvers, spells, items, even creature types (via modifying undead, for example). So a fighter can add a poison reservoir to their sword, or attach a rope to it for easy recovery after disarms, or whatever. When a character wants to invent something, they must either do it combinatorically (new spell = old spell 1 + old spell 2) or they must accomplish a series of tasks related to training and development.

For instance, one character wanted to gain various energy resistances through alchemically treating their scars, and so the prerequisite was that they must take a certain amount of damage from the particular energy type in one go before they could add that energy to their available list. Another character researched a way to use her familiar as a focus for certain spells - the requirement was that she had to cast a certain number of spells using foci that simultaneously included her and her familiar in their target list (as opposed to sharing spells via the familiar bond).

Its sort of like the miniature form of the 'heroic deeds' idea. Its not necessarily world-interaction though, since much of that the characters can do from the comfort of their homes/labs/etc. Another campaign I was in had this idea of 'Taints' that you could acquire via interacting with things, going to charged places, doing certain things, etc. Some were good, bad, or mixed blessings; also, we didn't know what most of them did when we were obtaining them, so there was a lot of exploration and experimentation. Since anyone could get them, they were a pure world-interaction thing. One favorite was a taint that let you hear the music the GM was playing for a scene in character, so you could get a preternatural hint that something was about to go wrong (or identify a villain's handiwork by their theme). You got that one by basically going a little bit mad. There was another one that accumulated every time you caused a time paradox somehow - it made you somewhat resilient to things that might mess with your timeline, but at a certain threshold the universe got fed up with you and you were shunted to a difficult-to-escape plane.

2012-09-24, 09:35 AM
Yep, but the issue here is that the Wizard gets it as a "baked in feature", while other class types need to do the "convince the DM" dance. And without class support, arguably anything the Fighter can do this way the Wizard could do as well (as an example, acid resistance -- both the Fighter and the Wizard can get that). And if the Fighter can research a poison applying sword, the Wizard can research new spells: what is worse is that the Wizard has a "built in" excuse for being able to research new spells, while a Fighter has to extend her competence (I'm not just a Fighter, but also an inventor!) to justify it in-world.

Even if the Fighter invents new feats, each new feat is a permanent investment ... while a new spell for a Wizard just extends the Wizards options each day. Researching a new feat and picking it could make the Fighter worse off, even if the research cost was zero -- researching a new spell for the Wizard cannot make the Wizard worse off if the research cost was zero.


Some brainstorming:
A class that enchants their weapons with effects like "Flaming". They can learn new weapon enchantments by eating them from weapons (or maybe just studying weapons), but they also pick some up as they gain levels "for free".

Maybe they can do the same with armor as well, and they can enchant their armor with resistance or DR by studying creatures with resistance/immunity/DR.


Style-based Fighter class where the Fighter's bonus feats are instead the number of feats in each Style, and the Fighter has more than one Style by default. Maybe the Fighter has a pool of "known feats", and can construct Styles from them on the fly?

This character can learn Feats from enemies they fight -- so if they Fight an Orc with Power Attack, they can learn Power Attack from that fight.

As they gain levels, they also "naturally" add feats to the Fighter Style Pool.

Building a new style might take an hour of time (to emulate the ability for Wizards to swap out their spells after a night's reset), and they can have a certain number of styles mastered at one time, which they can switch between on the fly.


Aforesaid Champion class. The class has Heroic Deeds in broad categories, each one of which has a chain of abilities like a domain spell list. Champions start play with one Heroic Deed in their past, and can accumulate new ones as they adventure. Champions have sets of abilities they can use, and they pick them from the abilities that their Heroic Deeds unlock (also restricted by their level). I'm not sure how to justify, in-game, the ability to swap out which abilities you have active on a daily basis -- and I'm not sure that this is required? The Champion might be able to retrain an ability with lots of effort (or use some other kind of in-game excuse), but would be stuck with whatever abilities they have for the most part. Acquiring more Heroic Deeds gives the Champion more abilities to pick between when the Champion levels up...

Now, we could throw in an Action Point type system, and each Heroic Deed would have both passive (always-on) benefits that the Champion has to statically choose, and active benefits that the Champion has to fuel with Action Points. Then having more Heroic Deeds gives you more types of things you can spend your Action Points on... which is a nice broadening of competence with more world-interacting boosts.

By Heroic Deed, I'd include everything from slaying a dragon to spending a year learning how to catch flies with chopsticks (intense training) to rescuing a town from a ghost's curse to doing a favor for a fey lord.


I'm not sure how to apply this kind of thing to a Trickster/Rogue type class.


Assassins are obvious -- poisons. They could harvest recipes for special attacks based on monster abilities as they slay them...


A Ranger/Hunter type class where the favored enemy subsystem becomes a "familiar enemy" system, and they can accumulate information about the weaknesses of an enemy as they fight them, as well as gaining automatic training as they level up against an enemy of their choice, would qualify.


I could imagine a Smith class that makes their own weapons and armor. When defeating monsters, they can harvest the natural weapons and armor of said creatures and construct superior weapons and armor for their own use... Of course, this could be a kind of Heroic Deed for a Champion class, as it seems to be a lot to hang a class on.


Paladins could match the Champion style Heroic Deed system.


Clerics might have a miracle subsystem. Or they could gain access to new "domain spells" they could cast spontaneously as they do things for their god. Maybe they could find holy relics with similar properties? Sadly, these are all adventure-facing things, nothing like the ability for a Wizard to spend money on buying new spells. . . I guess investing money in the Church and/or Charity might be a subsystem whereby the Cleric could literally buy favour with their god?

2012-09-24, 10:35 PM
Just throwing in that I did something like this with my Primordialist (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237502) and Solar Hero (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=240706) classes.

The former meditates on certain items that thematically relate to the Lovecraftian god-world which they draw their kung fu from, and can innovate new maneuvers that previously did not exist in their discipline (but are still within its theme, and the theme of the being the discipline is based on). Likewise, they can learn these 'new' maneuvers cheaper and faster if there is another Primordialist teaching them.

Similar thing for the Solar Hero, but instead of just 'meditate on meaningful stuff', the Charm they create requires some kind of training implements. So, a Charm for bypassing damage reduction might require Adamantine plates to repeatedly hack at until one unlocks the secret and can cleave them in twain.

Everyone should get some kind of feature like this, I think. The problem being that, then everyone would have to actually have a sub-system of things they could do, rather than some classes just being of the 'move+attack' variety.

2012-09-25, 06:50 AM
The difficulty of creating a different subsystem for every class is sort of why I'm in favor of things that aren't really about your class, like the Taint system I mentioned. Yes, the wizard will have X+1 while everyone else has X, but if X is big enough then thats not a huge deal really.

I mean, you could do it as simply as saying 'Part of my campaign is inventing new things - everyone is an inventor. Invent new feats, new classes, new maneuvers, new spells, whatever you like.' Make retraining cheap and easy, and you might find fighters switching out feat sets the same way wizards switch out spells. For example, have 'feats known', which require either in-character training, research, or spending one of your free level-up feats on something. You can swap your feats to/from the Known list each day for free, but adding a new feat to the known list takes say a week and the normal feat retraining cost of 50gp.