Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Scoundrel, Part 15: Some Loose Ends

So, it's kinda nice to be on this side of all that work. I now have 12 Scoundrel abilities and seven skills, available to all classes. Nice.

Also nice, in my opinion, is how easy this system is to adjust. As the ref, do you not like a few of the abilities? Strike 'em; there's plenty more, so there will be plenty of choices left over. Want other abilities? Add 'em. Don't like d12s? The skill system will work well with most dice, I think. d4s and d% probably wouldn't be so great, but I think the skill system would probably be viable with anything from a d6 to a d30. Don't want the skill system at all? There are enough Scoundrel abilities that a ref could, if he wanted to, yank the skills and still have plenty of choices for viable Scoundrels. (Of course, he'd have to find another way to adjudicate things like picking locks… but we've already had that discussion.)

Anyway, I think I'm almost done, but there are at least two items I still need to address. The first is how to adjudicate abilities. I really like the mechanic I proposed for the magic scrolls in an earlier post: to succeed at the ability, roll at or under the relevant attribute + character level +/- relevant modifier. Of course, refs could substitute their own methods of adjudicating, ranging from harder methods to just ruling that the Scoundrel succeeds whenever attempting an ability. Personally, I'd probably use a mix of automatic success and the attribute+level+/-modifier system. Backstab, for example, should always be automatic, while there should always be a chance of failure for using magic. In between those ends of the spectrum, I would probably rule that ability success is automatic when not trying to do something super-hard or super-quick or with resistance. For example, letting a Scoundrel automatically succeed in doing first aid on another character after they are safely back in town, and when the character was only down to 80% of their hit points in the first place is something I'd see as reasonable, while trying to keep a character from dying in the middle of a battle when they just had their leg chopped off because they rolled poorly on the Table of Death and Dismemberment would require a roll, I think. As another example, earning a little money on the side with sleight-of-hand when not adventuring should be automatically successful, while keeping a ring hidden from some guards that are searching the Scoundrel should require a roll to succeed.

The second is what happens when a Scoundrel fumbles when trying to use magic. Going the way of DCC and having a chart for each spell is… for more dedicated men than me. I'm thinking a simple chart could work for most, if not all, spells. Something like…

1: Roll again on table 1d4 times and combine results
2: Change target to self/enemy as appropriate
3: Change target to ally/enemy/self as appropriate
4: Increase scale of spell effect
5: Humorous effect only thematically related to spell
6: Reverse spell effect

Actually, let's stop here and open this table up for some Gygaxian Democracy. Post other very, very general ways that spells could go wrong in the comments and I'll (probably) include them (and credit you) in the final result.


  1. I'll limit myself to 6 since that's how many you threw into the pot:

    7: Totally different spell of the same level is cast instead. (Determine randomly)
    8: Spells looks and sounds like it has been cast, but none of the actual effects occur. (Treat as nondamaging illusion)
    9: Spell becomes a Living Spell, a monster with Hit Dice equal to the spell's level that can produce a version of the spell's effects at will.
    10: Spell becomes permanent.
    11: Caster acquires a curse thematically related to the spell. (ex: Sleep -> Caster is always tired)
    12: Target acquires a curse thematically linked to the spell. (As above)

  2. Awesome man, been following along with this series and digging it.

  3. I know this is a old thread, but I've been on a S&W kick, and want to share a couple of (long) thoughts.

    I read through all your Scoundrel posts, including your thoughts on skills and abilities.I like what you've written, and I agree that there is a fourth archetype, "I solve problems with trickery, subterfuge, and misdirection."

    However, I think I went farther afield in my definition of the trickster class. I like your class name Scoundrel, but I feel trickster is the most neutral definition between Rascal (Lawful), Rogue (Neutral), and Scoundrel (Chaotic).

    I chose Charisma as the Prime Requisite for the Trickster, as I feel that trickery and misdirection don't apply to inanimate objects (locks), but to people. Cugel is certainly a charismatic trickster.

    Finally, I based the class off of the Illusionist, instead of the thief:

    The Trickster
    You are a rascal or scoundrel, solving life’s problems through trickery, stealth, or misdirection. Perhaps you are a wandering minstrel, a deceitful mountebank, a colorful jester, mysterious gypsy, an immoral assassin, or a greedy thief. Whatever your cover story, your weapons are deceit, your armor is misdirection, and your power is subtlety. Tricksters rarely rise to positions of absolute authority, and are more often shadowy powers behind the throne or flagrant anti-authority figures.

    Prime Attribute: Charisma, 13+ (5% experience)
    Hit Dice: 1d6 (Gains 1 hp/level after 9th level.)
    Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather/Buckler.
    Weapons Permitted: One-handed melee weapons, except the Bastard Sword, and any missile weapon, except Heavy Crossbow, and Longbow.

    Trickster Class Abilities
    Misdirection: The Trickster receives a +1 bonus on dice rolls to misdirect or go unnoticed.
    Spell Casting: Like the Magic-User, Tricksters learn a cast spells specializing in illusion, misdirection, and confusion.
    Troupe (9th): At ninth level, a Trickster may establish a troupe and attract a body of like-minded individuals who swear fealty to him or his cause. The troupe will most likely have a convincing, seemingly legitimate facade.

    I use a "Describe what your character does, then I'll let you roll dice" game style and rely on a simple 2d6 over 8 mechanic (aka. Traveller Task Resolution). So the Misdirection ability might apply to Sneaking, Bluffing, or picking locks.

    Lastly, I'll let anyone try to pick a lock. I need to work out some random lock mechanics that will trigger a dice attempt when the player uses the right description for what he's doing.