Sunday 12 February 2017

New B/X class: the faerie

One thing I rather liked about Mazes and Minotaurs was the idea of having 'nymph' as one of the core character classes. If you're aiming to evoke Greek mythology, then this makes pretty good sense: nymphs turn up everywhere in those stories, to the point where there might be almost as many nymphs in Greek myths as there are actual human women. (Take a look at the sheer length of the list here, for example.) At the same time, though, as a character concept it comes with a lot of limitations: you have to be female, you have to be beautiful, you're probably going to spend a lot of time swimming around naked, and so on. It made me wonder: what might a less restrictive version of the 'sexy nature spirit' concept look like as a character class? And then I got thinking about how the D&D elf really has very little in common with the elfin knights and fae ladies of medieval literature and folklore, and I came up with this...

Image result for la belle dame sans merci

The Faerie

To-hit and hit dice: As per cleric.

Saves: As per elf.

Weapons and armour: Faeries can use any weapons, but are too frail to fight effectively in metal armour.

XP per level: As per elf.

Fae Traits: All faeries bear some physical marks of their inhuman heritage, marks which become more pronouced as they increase in power. Roll 1d20 on the following table at level one, and again at each subsequent level. If you roll the same trait more than once, it becomes much more pronounced (e.g. green-tinted skin becomes leaf green, hip-length hair becomes ankle length, and so on). High level faeries tend to look both freaky and fabulous. 

  1. Inhuman hair colour (e.g. blue, green, violet).
  2. Inhuman skin tone (e.g. tinted green, blue, or purple). 
  3. Flowers grow naturally in your hair in all seasons.
  4. Songbirds and butterflies follow you around whenever possible.
  5. You eyes resemble those of a cat, brilliant green with a vertical slit pupil. 
  6. Your body has a pleasant but distinctive floral aroma, noticeable whenever you walk into a room.
  7. You are extremely androgynous, and could easily pass as male or female unless completely naked.
  8. You have extremely long hair (hip-length or longer) - if cut it grows back at 1d6 inches per day.
  9. Your smile literally lights up the room. (Illumination equivalent to a candle, although it's uncomfortable to maintain it for too long.)
  10. You are very, very tall. 
  11. You are very, very thin.
  12. You appear slightly translucent when seen in moonlight or starlight.
  13. You have extremely long fingernails, which oddly do not interfere with your manual dexterity.
  14. Instead of tears, you weep tiny, transparent crystals, which shatter when they hit the floor.
  15. Your shadow takes the shape of different wild animals, depending on your current mood.
  16. When happy, you start to levitate several inches off the ground.
  17. Your limbs are extraordinarily flexible, as though they had several additional joints.
  18. Your ears are long and sharply pointed.
  19. Your teeth are long and sharply pointed.
  20. Whenever your blood falls upon the earth, stands of beautiful, vivid-red flowers spring up 1d6 minutes later.
Image result for jareth the goblin king

Night Vision: Even the faintest moonlight or starlight allow you to see as well as full sunlight, although complete darkness will still blind you.

Soulless: You cast no reflection in mirrors, and suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls while standing on ground consecrated to a Lawful deity. Beneficial cleric spells (including Cure spells) have only half their normal effect when cast upon you.

Glamour: Glamour is the illusion-magic of the fae. You have a number of Glamour points equal to your level: a Charisma of 13 or higher grants +1, and a Charisma of 16 or higher grants +2. You may spend one point of glamour to entrance someone with your otherworldly charisma, as per a Charm Person spell. Your glamour pool refreshes each day at sunset.
  • At level 2, you may spend 1 Glamour to cast Sleep.
  • At level 3, you may spend 1 Glamour to cast Phantasmal Force.
  • At level 4, you may spend 1 Glamour to cast Obscuring Mists.
  • At level 5, you may spend 2 Glamour to cast Hold Person.
  • At level 6, you may spend 2 Glamour to cast Invisibility.
  • At level 7, you may spend 2 Glamour to cast Mirror Image or Suggestion.
  • At level 8, you may spend 2 Glamour to cast Confusion.
  • At level 9, you may spend 3 Glamour to cast Hallucinatory Terrain.
  • At level 10, you may spend 3 Glamour to cast Invisibility 10' Radius.
  • At level 11, you may spend 3 Glamour to cast Massmorph.
  • At level 12, you may spend 4 Glamour to cast Geas.
  • At level 13, you may spend 4 Glamour to cast Mass Invisibility.
  • At level 14, you may spend 4 Glamour to cast Polymorph Self or Polymorph Other.
  • At level 15, you may spend 5 Glamour to cast Mass Charm or Power Word Blind.

Image result for tilda swinton only lovers

The Old Speech: You gain the ability to speak to birds at level 2; at level 4 this extends to other animals, at level 6 to insects, and at level 8 to plants. Any creature you can talk to (including giant and magical versions) with hit dice equal to or less than your own also counts as a 'person' for the purposes of your Charm Person and Hold Person abilities. Suitably large charmed animals will usually consent to be used as mounts.

Weave Gossamer: At level 3, you gain the ability to weave flowers, leaves, and spiderwebs into fantastical garments that never tear, never get creased or muddy, and look amazing. Any time you wear gossamer garments instead of armour, you get +1 to reaction rolls from all intelligent creatures. If anyone other than you attempts to wear your gossamer clothes, they will instantly realise that they aren't nearly pretty enough to pull off your look successfully, and must save or be thrown into a deep depression for 1d6 hours. Making a set of gossamer clothes takes 12 hours.

Changeling: At level 5, you gain the ability to change your appearance to match someone else's. Spending 1 Glamour allows you to maintain this disguise for a number of hours equal to your level. Spending 1 additional Glamour also allows you to mimic their voice for the duration.

Makeshift Men: At level 7, you can spend one hour and 1 Glamour sculpting a heap of leaves, sticks, and mud into a roughly-humanoid shape, which then comes to life as an ugly, goblin-like being. Makeshift men have the same statistics as goblins, and maintaining their animation costs 1 Glamour per day. They're not very bright, but will obey you to the best of their ability, because they know that their continued existence depends upon your will. If killed or de-animated, they collapse back into twigs and dirt.

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  1. This is wonderful, although I have trouble envisaging how one of these otherworldly guys would rub along with a bunch of prosaic PCs whose focus is killing monsters and nicking stuff. Probably just my lack of imagination, however.

    1. Well, if they're anything like folkloric faeries they're probably whimsical, cheerfully amoral, and easily bored, so 'let's go and steal pretty and/or cool stuff from someone horribly dangerous' probably sounds like their idea of a good time. In terms of party roles, they're basically mage-thief types: they deal with diplomacy, information gathering, subterfuge, and stealth. I think they should fit into the average band of dungeon-delving loons without too much strain, if only because most 'normal' PCs are likely to be almost as weird and crazy as they are...

  2. I think the archetype I think you're trying to evoke might be a hard one to play satisfyingly. To me, one of the key qualities that goes with it is incomprehensibility - fairies in stories usually specialise in sourceless information - "you must travel for three days, striking off the head of everyone who helps you, and when pursued you must throw down your comb" and such like.

    "Humans in funny suits" is usually used as a pejorative, but I think it's a virtue - for me, and I suspect a lot of people, to enjoy playing a PC, they have to be human enough for me to be able to supply an inner monologue.

    That said, there are all sorts of other tropes - the half-fey or changelings that are staples of modern urban fantasy, for example, or your original examples of Greek nymphs - that I think you could use this for and that might be more relatable than the fairies of medieval European folklore.

    1. I think the rules I've outlined here could be used to model half-fae, changelings, mortal users of faerie magic, and so on, just as easily as full-on, honest-to-Oberon faeries. Even if you are playing the latter, though, it's only a problem if your setting has already established that such creatures are genuinely Alien and Unknowable, rather than 'just a bit odd'.

      I agree that playing a truly Alien and Unknowable character would be a challenge, though. Maybe just roll every few minutes on an 'inexplicable faerie actions' table?

    2. On the contrary I think that having a super "Other" character is a lot of fun. It allows you to work in what otherwise might be metagame remarks in a more immersive manner.

      It really depends on your group though, some people are not down.