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Jo sticks, aviator shades, Slim Jims and Danger Dog

March 17, 2013 1 comment

Some character classes (like the assassin or magic user) are all about what you can do. They’re toolboxes applied to the problem of the dungeon.

Others (paladins, druids) are about the choices you make: they hold you to some ethical position and see what sparks fly when those ethics contact the spinning wheel of the adventure.

And then there are those classes that are all about taking your choices away. Forcing you to engage the game in a way you never normally would – that you could not, in fact, defend if your character weren’t making you do it. For that, I aver, there is no finer class that Chris Kutalik’s Chaos Monk.

The choices-that-are-not-choices-at-all begin at chargen. We learn that the Chaos Monk’s weapons are “bo and jo sticks, nun-chucks (sic), clubs, man catchers, bowie knives, and throwing stars.” Obviously (but not explicitly) if he has the money, the Chaos Monk must buy at least one of each – either from a dodgy mail order ad or from the kind of tourist shop that carries giant swords with half a dozen blades sticking out at odd angles, nestled among C. More Buns trucker caps and novelty bottles of rough hooch. And he must try to use as many of them as possible during play, as though selecting the right golf club for each shot.

No matter what he rolls for starting money, the Chaos Monk is always nearly destitute – not because his riches are spiritual, but because his judgment is terrible: all he ever has is badly made junk that was never meant to be actually used.

Equally obviously, the Chaos Monk is not a schemer. He doesn’t have Conan’s panther-like cunning or Cugel’s persuasive tongue. Instead he has a peculiarly demanding bravado – being Chaotic Stupid means he’s bound by iron laws of conduct.

So who’s first in marching order? The Chaos Monk, every time (fuck yeah!). First through the door? Over the parapet? Into the mystery goop?

If a monster bellows at you, enraged – do you attack or run? The Paladin can choose to retreat, nursing his strength for another opportunity, coolly judging the danger to innocents posed by a tactical withdrawal. The Chaos Monk has to have a go, even if it’s only to come tumbling grinning back a moment later, clutching his greatest treasure – a story to bullshit about later in the pub.

As a player I never have to think or weigh odds or anything. If he’s not in trouble now, he will be soon. And if he realizes he’s in too much trouble to handle… welp, just do something else mullet-headed – it’ll get better or worse.

It’s a total holiday, frankly. I have other characters with complex back-stories, unrequited drives, burning ambitions, ideas above their station and plans to hit the big time.

Not the Chaos Monk. Here’s everything I need to know about him to play him right now:

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3 variations on a Monster-in-your Pocket Trainer for LL/BX

March 4, 2013 5 comments

Be warned: long. 1 is a magic item. 2 is a character class (more or less). 3 is… me going off the deep end and kinda writing a spell that demands 17 new character classes.  Ay yi yi yi yi.

1. Bilbil’s Ravenous Phylactery (magic item)

A small handheld magic item that can appear as almost anything but most often takes the form of a clay pot or a bicoloured orb. The holder can use it to capture any non-human through a contested roll between the holder’s CHA vs the monster’s WIS or, in cases where that can’t be determined, its HD+10.  Any attack or other action the capturer undertakes on the monster increases the monster’s save chance by 1, except for SLEEP, CHARM or HYPNOTIZE, which each decrease the monster’s save by 2. If captured the monster goes into the Phylactery. It can be called forth once per game session, and may remain with the caster as a henchman until dismissed. If it fails a morale save or takes more than half its HP in damage, it retreats to the ball. Next session when it can come out again its HP will be healed, but no other status effects will be changed.

Whoever holds the phylactery may command the creature within.

Once a phylactery is filled it cannot be reused for another monster, even if the first one is killed.

2. A monster trainer class, such as Mike F requested lo these many moons ago.

The Monster Trainer is subject to an absolute taboo on violence except through the medium of trained monsters. No armour, nor weapons may be carried – so that the trainer may appear as non-threatening as possible.
Saves are at +4 (like a halfling). Prime attribute is CHA.
Hit points: at first level roll 3d6. Each level thereafter roll d6: an odd result grants +1 HP, and even result adds nothing. Advancing to 2nd level costs 500xp, doubling per level thereafter (but see below regarding monster level advancement). In addition at least 1 monster must be bound each level in order for the trainer to advance to the next level.

Monster trainers interact with the world primarily through monsters they bind to themselves. Binding a monster involves catching it in a specially prepared receptacle: this action takes one combat round, during which the trainer can take no other actions. Receptacles must be prepared ahead of time, and may be made by any trainer at a cost of 10gp. Every attempt to bind a monster uses up a new receptacle. The trainer must be within strike distance of the monster and the monster must be aware of them.

The trainer may keep no more than 4 + CHA bonus monsters with them – they may store more in a specially prepared storage facility. Attempts to exceed this total will result in a simple failure to catch/bind further monsters. If a trainer is loaded with too many monsters then interference among the receptacles will result in the excess +1d4 monsters slipping their bindings.

The act of binding is a contested roll between the trainer and monster – the trainer must roll higher than the monster on a d20 to succeed in binding. This roll is modified by:

  • the trainer’s CHA bonus (13-15 = +1, 16-17 = +2, 18= +3)
  • the difference in level/HD between trainer and monster
  • the monster’s current HP: if the monster is on full HP, it gets +3 to the roll. If on half or less, +2, if on 10% or less, no bonus.
  • Any special modifier the DM imposes based on the specific characteristics of the monster – intelligent monsters may get a bonus, or rare ones, or dragons…

Bound monsters are considered “charmed;” they treat the trainer as an ally and follow their instructions, and they will fight for the trainer until half their HP are used up, at which point they retreat to the receptacle and must be healed. Healing can be done by simple rest (heals 20% of HP per day) or by a healing machine (costs 5000gp to make, may be made by trainers of 5th level or above, weighs 400lbs). Each time a monster is forced back to the receptacle through damage it gets a chance to save vs charm. It takes 3 consecutive saves vs charm for the monster to break entirely free of the trainer. With one or two saves the monster can resist the trainer’s commands but cannot do anything actively against the trainer or hurt them.

The trainer may donate xp to their bound monsters to level them up. The leveling table used should depend on the monster in question – a gnoll or other goblinoid might advance on the Cleric table, a dragon on the elf table. Level limits… you decide. The point being here that a trainer with a varied portfolio of monsters is likely to be able to do all sorts of stuff, but they’ll also have to split their xp in many different directions.

3. Find A Strangely Familiar Familiar (1st level MU/Spirit Trainer spell)

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The caster may enchant a phylactery at a cost of 200gp/level of the familiar to be summoned. Once a creature has been summoned it must be bound into the phylactery: the caster rolls against their CHA while the monster rolls against its WIS or, in cases where that can’t be determined, its HD+10: the one who succeeds by the greater margin wins. Only one creature may be so bound per level – ie. the caster must level up before they can bind a second creature into another phylactery. If the creature is not bound the phylactery is wasted – but the chance to bind a creature is not, and as long as a summoned creature is not reduced to 0 HP and/or does not flee, the caster may attempt to bind it multiple times, as long as they have phylacteries to use. A new phylactery may be enchanted by paying the cost again and assembling new ingredients.

The HD of the creature summoned may not exceed the caster’s level -1. Summoned, bound creatures (hereafter “pocket-familiars”) may share in xp and level up, using the Fighter table. Pocket-familiars may roam around with the caster or be stored in their phylacteries at will. They heal at the same rate as any PC, whether in or out of their phylactery. The morale of a pocket familiar depends on its caster’s treatment of it: each time it wins a fight it gets +1 to morale, each time it is reduced to 0 HP it gets -3 morale. If a pocket familiar has negative morale, its caster/binder must save vs CHA each time it is deployed in order to command it.

The creature summoned may be determined by rolling on the following table. This roll may be influenced by the kind of ENVIRONMENT in which the summoning takes place (either roll d20 for totally random summoning or d6/d8 on one of the subtables contained within it). All pocket familiars have 3d6 in order for stats. The rest of their stats are below: fight and save as the character class noted [in brackets]. Hit die type comes next, then AC, size/weight in {curly brackets}, natural attack (some pocket-familiars might be able to wear armour or carry weapons: DM’s prerogative), special attacks (each special attack may be used once only per session), the level at which they mutate/develop into another form, that form’s special attacks, and any other special comment. Special attacks are learned one per level.

SPOOKY  (D6)

1. OOPS: the caster is dragged into the phylactery and can subsequently be called forth or dismissed by whoever holds it. The caster cannot touch the phylactery with their bare skin – if they do, they get sucked into it immediately. Equipment is not taken into the phylactery: the caster is naked in there. Although they do keep cyborg implants etc
2. DARK: SABLEYE [thief] HD: d6. AC 5. {size:halfling} Natural attack: 1d6 Shadow sneak (one melee attack from up to level x 10′ away, automatically wins initiative), Knock off (removes an item from opponent), blind (for 1d10 turns), foul play (uses opponent’s special attack against them)
3. GHOST: GASTLY [mu] HD: d4. AC 7. +1 initiative. {size:halfling} Natural attack: 1d4. Each consecutive increases the die one size (d6, d8, d10…)  Confuse (save or be at -3 for d6 rounds), sucker punch (melee attack automatically wins initiative). At level 4 becomes HAUNTER: {size:human} Natural attack: 1d8 (and increase as before). Curse (Haunter reduced to 0hp/returns to ball, target has to save each round for next 8 rounds or lose 20% of their HP that round). Changes to Gengar at level 8. {size:halfling} Natural attack: 1d8 + increase. Shadow punch (Gengar disappears for one round, then melee strikes the next round without chance for retaliation except from targets that can hit ethereal beings. May reappear up to 30’ away).
4. PSYCHIC: MUNNA [mu] d6. AC 9. {size:cat} Natural attack: 1d4. Each consecutive increases the die one size (d6, d8, d10…) Sleep, psybeam (target forgets what they were doing, reroll reaction). At level 4 changes to Musharna, {size:halfling} Natural attack: 1d8 + increase.  Nightmare (save vs paralysis for a sleeping target: lasts until Musharna revokes it), dream eater (reduces sleeping target to 1d6 HP)
5. BUG: SHEDINJA [cleric] 1 hp only. Ever. AC 6. {size:cat} Natural attack: 1d4 + save vs poison or extra 1d4. Totally immune to fire, magic, ice, poisons, electricity. Sand attack (target gets -2 to hit for 2d6 rounds), confuse (save or be at -3 for d6 rounds), heal block, bug buzz (target deaf, takes 1d3 x Shedinja’s level in damage)
6. ICE: SNEASEL [fighter] d6. AC 4 {size:halfling} +2 initiative. Natural attack: 1d8. Quick attack (always wins init), faint attack (as melee attack but guaranteed not to reduce target below 1hp). Changes to Weavile at level 7 {size:human} Natural attack: 1d12. Ice shard (save or freeze + 2d12 damage), night slash (d4 x level damage)

NATURE RESPLENDENT (D6)

7/1. FIRE: CHARMANDER . [fighter] d8. AC 6. {size:halfling} Natural attack: 1d8 + save or flammable stuff catches fire. Ember (1d6 damage, save each round for a number of rounds equal to Charmander’s level or take another d6). Changes to Charmeleon at level 3. {size:human} Natural attack: 1d10. Fire fang (as ember but does 3d6 damage on first attack). Changes to Charizard at level 7 {size:horse} Natural attack: 2d8. Inferno (fireball), Wing Attack (melee attack delivered from up to 50′ away)
8/2. FLYING: STARLY [fighter] d8. AC 5. {size:cat} Natural attack: 1d4. Aerial ace (one attack guaranteed to hit), changes to Staravia {size:human} at level 3. Natural attack: 1d12. Brave bird (5d6 damage, Staravia also takes 1d10 damage) Changes to Staraptor {size:elephant} at level 7. Natural attack: 1d20 .Fly (Staraptor can fly and carry up to 2 human-sized passengers), Endeavour (target must save or have their HP adjusted to equal Staraptor’s HP).
9/3. GRASS: TREECKO D6, AC 5. {size:halfling} +1 initiative. Natural attack: 1d8. Quick attack (automatic win initiative). Changes to Grovyle {size:halfling} at level 5. Natural attack: 1d12. +2 initiative. Mega drain (2d8 damage, half of which is given to Grovyle in healing), Changes to Sceptile {size:human} at level 8. Natural attack: 2d8. Giga drain (2d12 +2 damage, half of which heals Sceptile), Razor leaf (3d8 damage, never misses).
10/4. GLITCH: instead of a creature you bind a spell, which is randomly chosen and takes effect whenever you open the phylactery (once per session only). The spell is any MU, druid, illusionist or cleric spell your level would entitle you to cast if you were the right class.
11/5. WATER: MAGIKARP. [mu but no fighting at all] d12. AC 10. {size:halfling}. No natural attack. At level 6 becomes Gyarados [fighter, levels as an elf but no level limit] d12+2. AC 3 {size:elephant}. Natural attack: 3d6, +3 to hit and damage. May carry up to 2 human-sized passengers across water, tirelessly and indefinitely. Ice fang (double damage, save or be frozen for d6 rounds), surf (d20 damage to all present except Gyarados and caster, location flooded), iron tail (3d6 damage and target must save or be stunned and lose next attack), dragon dance (no attack this round but get +1 to hit and damage for rest of combat. May be done as many times as Gyarados’ current level).
12/6. GROUND: GIBLE [fighter] d10. AC 5{size:human}. Natural attack: 1d10. Sand attack (target gets -1 to hit. May be repeated as many times as Gible’s level), Sand tomb (save or take1d6 damage every round for 5 rounds). Changes to Gabite at level 6. AC 4 {size:horse}. Natural attack: 1d10. Earthquake (all present take 3d6 damage except Gabite and anyone mounted on it – only levitating/flying creatures may act for the rest of the combat round). Changes to Garchomp {size:great white shark} at level 11. AC 3. Natural attack: 2d8. Dig (may carry up to 2 human passengers through level x 10’ of solid earth/rock as passwall)

WEIRD (D8)

13/1. POISON: GRIMER  [thief] HD: d8. AC 9 {size:human}. Natural attack: 1d6. Poison (save or take d4 damage the first round. Save again the next round or take d6 damage… continues to increase until a save is made), mud shot (target gets -2 to hit for 3 rounds). Changes to Muk {size:elephant} at 5th level. Natural attack: 1d10. Sludge bomb (2d8 damage + effects of poison), acid armour (if hit in melee, assailant takes damage equal to that taken by Muk).
14/2. STEEL: BRONZOR [cleric] d10. AC 4 {size:hand mirror}.Natural attack: 1d6.  -1 initiative. Immune to poisons. Metal Sound (deafens target, save each round or be incapable of action that round for d6 rounds), iron defense (lower AC by 1, may be repeated d4 times). Changes to Bronzong {size:phone box} at level 6. AC 1. Natural attack: 1d10. Mirror Shot (attacker’s attack rebounds on them, sve or be blinded for d4 rounds), Heavy Slam (2d20 damage, Bronzong must save vs spells or attack random targets for the next 3 turns).
15/3. ROCK: CRANIDOS [fighter] d6. AC 4{size:horse}. Natural attack: 1d12. Rock polish (+1 initiative. May be used d4 times), Zen Headbutt (target must save or – d4: sleep, berserk, be charmed, be stunned ie. lose next action). Changes to Rampardos {size:Allosaurus} at level 7. AC 2. Natural attack: 2d10. Head Smash (3d12 damage and target knocked back an equal number of feet) Fissure (ground opens to swallow one target. Target saves vs spells or is dropped 60’ into the ground which closes over them the next round)
16/4. DRAGON: BAGON [cleric] d10. AC 8 {size:halfling}. Natural attack: 1d4. vulnerable to ice. Dragon rage (does 10+level damage). Changes to Shelgon {size:human} at level 5. AC 4. Natural attack: 1d8. Hoard (provides a useful item from Shelgon’s shell, like a cartoon character’s hammerspace pocket). Changes to Rayquaza (surprise!) at level 11. AC 1 {flying snale 100’ long}. Natural attack: 3d6. Draco Meteor (2d20 damage to all present except Rayquaza and those in physical contact with it. Reduced to 1d10 underground but also causes cave-in of a random neighboring square/hex). Teleport/Gate (may transport up to 20 human-size characters but for each passenger roll once on the Hilarious Teleport Mishaps table (TBD by Jason Sholtis))
17/5. NORMAL: SOLOSIS (yes I know it’s a psychic shut up) [MU] d6. AC 7 {size:cat}. Natural attack: 1d4. Can squeeze through surprisingly narrow gaps like an octopus. Jelly shot (save or be blinded for d4 rounds), lick (as Cure Light Wounds but also causes confusion for d6 turns, will not recognise friends or foes, at -3 to all actions, on a failure does the opposite of what they intended). Changes to Duosion at level 5 {size:halfling}. Natural attack: 1d6. Absorb (save vs paralysis, absorbs stuff as Gelatinous Cube but does not dissolve things absorbed: instead absorbed creatures are kept in state of suspended animation until freed) Changes to Reuniclus at level 9{size:horse}. Natural attack: 1d8. Splatter (cone effect. Save or be blinded, deafened, glued in place with STR 20 glue and intoxicated ie -1to  all actions per round, accumulating, for d8 rounds)
18/6. ELECTRIC: MAREEP (cannot touch the ground: levitates above it) [cleric] d6. AC 7 {size:halfling}. Natural attack: 1d6 (electric). Shocking grasp (or touch, really). Electromagnet (attracts all ferrous objects within 10’ w STR = levelx4 attraction. STR of attraction is doubled for physical contact, halved up to 20’ from Mareep). Flaaffy {size:human} (cannot touch the ground: must be carried). Natural attack: 1d6. Lightning (d3 x level damage). Ampharos (can touch the ground). Natural attack: 2d8 Call lightning (all present must save or be hit by Lightning each round for the next d3 rounds, except those touching Ampharos {size:human}, who take automatic d8/round in contact. Shelter is possible inside a Faraday cage)
19/7. FIGHT: MANKEY [fighter (duh)] d8. AC 7 {size:human}. Natural attack 1d8. protection from evil. 2 attacks per round from level 2. Changes to Vigoroth (surprise!) at level 5 {size:gorilla}. d12. Natural attack 1d12. Immune to sleep, confusion. Focus punch (must go last, cannot be hit during round: if these conditions are met, can cause level x d12 damage), Counter (inflicts double the damage received this round by Vigoroth). Changes to Kong (double surprise!!) at level 9 {size:orca}. d20. Natural attack 1d20. Reversal (does damage equal to the difference between Kong’s current HP and maximum HP x2).
20/8. IMPRESSIONABLE YOUNG SHOGGOTH

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