Yesterday’s Building a Campaign article has provoked a few requests for some of the package deals that were mentioned as examples – and for a few village hero builds. Since I’ll need the package deals to build sample characters with, they’re up first.
Package deals aren’t usually all that vital; six to twelve character points is useful, but it isn’t that big a chunk at middle levels and means very little at high levels. On the other hand, for youthful villagers who are just starting out on their careers as adventurers, twelve character points can make quite a difference. Secondarily, the package deals are going to be the only reliable way to get some of those “by special permission only” abilities. After all, since each character only gets one package deal, and they’re set up by the game master, such abilities can readily be restrained to applications which won’t foul up the setting.
So here are some package deals – starting with one of the most basic:
Most villages will get a retired warrior, guardsman, or the local lord to provide some basic combat training for any of the local youngsters who show an interest – or who don’t show any others. That differs somewhat from classical medieval society, but d20 worlds have a lot more in the way of random menaces floating about than the classical medieval world did. Militia Training won’t make anyone an expert combatant, but it does provide a solid base to build on – and new guards and soldiers have to come from someplace. Of course, when the village is threatened, the troops are called up, or there’s trouble in the streets, the militia-trained are expected to deal with it.
Militia Training provides Proficiency with Light Armor, Shields, and All Simple Weapons (totaling 9 CP) plus a Specialized version of Legionary (only usable with other people with the Militia Training package, 3 CP). Characters with Militia Training are expected to help deal with all kinds of menaces.
That’s a very straightforward package, and valuable to almost any low-level warrior type, since they’d be buying most of those things anyway. While the Legionary ability won’t be a lot of use unless there are several other militia-trained characters in the party, for another 3 CP you can either eliminate the specialization or double the effect – which can make fighting as a team well worthwhile.
Hunters, trappers, woodcutters, prospectors, and gatherers of herbs and dyes – the outriders of civilization – all make their livings on the borders of the wilderness. That is a hard, dangerous, and lonely life. Civilization – the art of living in cities – is as much a protective armor as any shell, scale, or chitinous exoskeleton. It should be no surprise to find that many adventurers arise from the self-reliant ranks of those who discard that cumbersome armor to face the wilderness with their own strengths and skills. Of course, that same isolation tends to lead to most Foresters being more than a bit antisocial – and distrusted on general principles.
Foresters gain Travel/Forests (3 CP) with Trailblazing (Specialized/only in areas which they are specifically acquainted with, 3 CP), with Tracking/Wilderness (3 CP), and +3 Specialities in Survival/The Local Wilderness, Knowledge/Nature/The Local Wilderness, and Knowledge/Geography/The Local Wilderness.
Most Foresters are also acquainted with weapons, healing, and tactics for fighting common local creatures – and a few know a bit of herbal magic (Rune Magic) or other lore – but that sort of thing varies a lot with the individual involved.
Crafters are one of the most ancient roles. They’re not as primal as Mother, Father, and Child, or even as Leader, but – at least for those races with manipulative limbs – they’re usually right up there with Gatherer, Warrior-Hunter, and Shaman. They’re not usually one of the major archetypes for adventurers though, mostly thanks to modern prejudices. There isn’t much in the way of mystery or wonder about the role of a Crafter any longer.
Still, once the role of a Crafter was the role of a practical magician; someone who transformed material into tools and wealth by secret skills and arts.
Now that’s more interesting.
Crafters get Rune Magic, using some practical skill as a base. For example, blacksmiths make popular heroes (usually using the swords they’ve forged, and thus are mystically attuned to). Thus a Smith might have Smithcraft (Casting) and Smithcraft (Mastery) – and be able to cast small spells that heat metal, provide modest amounts of protection from fire, enhance blades and metal weapons, and corrode or command metal chains.
Ergo, Crafters get four extra skill points to spend on their chosen Casting and Mastery skills (4 CP), Immunity/May use their chosen Casting and Mastery skills in place of the actual craft skill (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP), and Magician (allowing them to use bonus spell slots to cast a few such charms each day, 6 CP).
Immunity is on the special permission list of course, but this particular application seems rather unlikely to break the game.
Hedge Magi, Wisewomen, and Cunning Men have learned the practical low magic which makes village life so much easier – simple spells that draw on their own energies and those of the world around them, rather than the searing extraplanar forces tapped by the high magic of Wizards and Sorcerers. While adventuresome cottage magi often go on to wield high magic, the wise will not forget their original training.
Of course, when some magical problem comes up, or there’s a haunting, or rumors of a curse, the local hedge mage will be expected to deal with it – even if he or she has few powers of any use in doing so.
The Hedge Magic feat could simply be imported from The Practical Enchanter. After all, like all non-Eclipse feats you simply need the approval of the game master and six character points to spend – but I prefer to build things in Eclipse, especially when making examples. That’s more bother, but it’s pretty much always possible. So what does that feat actually do?
The Hedge Magic feat adds a lot of minor, noncombative, spells to a characters spell list. Sets of themed spells are purchased via the Domain/Path ability. Ergo; a Path (Hedge Wizardry) will add those spells. In this case we’ll be adding a lot more spells than usual, but the hedge wizardry list only goes up to level two (and quite a lot of them have no likely applications in adventuring), which seems fair enough.
The Hedge Magic feat also provides a version of Create Item, that allows the creation of minor, utilitarian, items using the Hedge Wizardry spell list and the “Utilitarian, fragile, village magic” modifier (half cost). Given that Hedge Magic is limited to level two, and that modifiers may be applied during item creation without any special Feat, that seems like a reasonable variant. Create Item is on the “Special Permission Only” list for this campaign – but this version seems quite acceptable.
A Path and Create Item would normally cost 6 CP each, but essentially noncombative abilities in a standard d20 setting can (quite reasonably) be considered Specialized – reducing the cost to 3 CP each. That’s 6 CP in total, or the basic cost of a Feat.
Now, we want those spells used. So our Hedge Wizard will also need.
One Base Caster Level, Specialized in Hedge Wizardry (3 CP). That’s a direct – if small – benefit for any character who wants to go on to develop some form of High Magic; it will save them a few points.
1d6 Mana as 2d4 Generic Spell Levels, Specialized; only usable for the spontaneous casting of Hedge Wizardry spells (3 CP).
OK, a hedge wizard should probably have some herbcraft, some knowledge/arcana, and some other skills – and possibly ritual magic – but that doesn’t have to be part of the package; a serious wizard will invest a few points for such things anyway.
Many youngsters dream of high adventure, epic heroism, and personally confronting the forces of darkness.
Then they grow up a bit, and realize just how suicidal that is, and the vast majority of them go and do something else for a living.
There are a few though, who never lose that idea – who listen to every tale, and practice odd skills and impractical maneuvers, and dream of becoming mighty heroes.
Most of them die of course, but some few will go on to inspire other youngsters in their turn. – and to inspire their companions with a constant stream of heroic tales – and possible locations for them to look for treasure.
Sadly, everyone else is likely to consider the Wannabee an impractical dreamer.
Wannabees get Lore (Creatures, Treasures, and Tales of Adventure, 6 CP) and Presence (High Morale, the Wannabee – and any of his companions who regularly spend time listening to him – will enjoy a +1 Morale Bonus to attacks, saves, checks, and damage.
I considered giving Wannabees Action Hero/Stunts to allow them to occasionally duplicate their favorite heroic tales, but that tends to disrupt the atmosphere of a low-level game – which is why it’s on the “special permission only” list. Similarly, an inherent spell that provided bonuses when trying dramatic stunts might work – but it would tend to show up the other characters. Presence is also on the special permission only list – but a small bonus to the party is acceptable, where some of the later abilities on that list wouldn’t work at all.