Dolmenwood / B/X: Hunter Class


Contemplating character classes in Dolmenwood, I've been going back and forth on whether to introduce any sub-classes. On the one hand, I love the simplicity of the core B/X classes and their flexibility in representing a broad range of archetypes. On the other hand, there are certainly some Dolmenwood-specific archetypes that would be nice to call out explicitly. The most obvious examples are: witches, knights, friars, and some kind of woodsman or hunter.

I've considered the possibility of making "prestige classes" (to use the modern terminology) for some of these character types. A knight, for example, could work nicely that way: a fighter, at some point in his or her career, swears an oath of fealty and gains some different class abilities / restrictions as a result.

Other archetypes seem to really just work better as proper classes, though.

Here's one that manifested today. (Thanks to Jeff Sparks for his blog post that inspired some of my initial thoughts on this character class.)

Hunter
Ability Scores: Minimum CON 9, minimum WIS 9
Prime Requisite: DEX
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 14
Allowed Armour: Leather, shields
Allowed Weapons: Any
Languages: Alignment language, Woldish

Hunters are humans who are at home in the wilds of the forest, being experts at stealth, tracking, and combat.

Class Abilities
Animal companions: Once per level (including at 1st level, before the character reaches 2nd level), a hunter may attempt to forge a connection with an animal. The hunter must approach the animal in a peaceful manner, and the referee must make a reaction roll (with a +1 bonus and any normal modifiers from the character’s CHA). If the result is 8 or greater, the animal becomes the hunter’s companion. Animal companions understand basic commands from the hunter (even if their species would not normally do so) and will fight to defend the hunter, never checking morale. Both wild and domestic animals may be approached in this way, but the creature may not have greater Hit Dice than the hunter. Animal companions are counted as retainers, thus the hunter’s CHA score limits how many the character may have.

Combat: Hunters can use any type of weapon, but may only wear leather armour, due to their need for stealth. They may use shields.

Foraging and hunting: A hunter’s knowledge of animal behaviour and the wilds increases his or her chance of finding food. A party that includes a hunter has a 2-in-6 chance of success when foraging and a 5-in-6 chance of encountering prey when hunting.

Hiding: With sufficient cover in the wilderness, a hunter has a 5-in-6 chance of going unnoticed when hiding. The character may also attempt to move while remaining hidden, but this requires a DEX check.

Identify fungi: A hunter has a 1-in-6 chance of being able to identify fungi (see Wormskin issue one).

Missile attack bonus: Hunters’ keen coordination grants them +1 on any missile attacks. Successful missile attacks against surprised creatures also inflict +2 damage.

Surprise: When successfully hiding, a hunter’s chance of surprising other creatures is increased by 2-in-6. (This means that most creatures -- normally surprised on 2-in-6 -- are now surprised on 4-in-6.)

Tracking: Hunters know how to read the subtle signs left by a creature’s passage through the natural environment. Under favourable conditions, a hunter can find and follow tracks without fail. More difficult conditions (e.g. if the tracks are old, cover hard ground, or are actively being concealed) require an INT check.

Trophies: After hunting down (i.e. tracking, ambushing, or chasing) and slaying a creature, a hunter may take a trophy from it (e.g. a stag’s horns, the claw of a wyrm, etc). If the hunter either keeps the trophy on his or her person or mounts it in his or her home, it acts as a charm, granting the hunter a +1 bonus to all attack rolls against other creatures of the same type and a +1 bonus to saving throws against their special attacks.

Wayfinding: A party that includes a hunter has a reduced chance of getting lost in forests, mountains, or marshes. Instead of rolling a d6 to check whether the party gets lost each day, the referee should roll a d12. (The range of results on which the party gets lost remains the same, e.g. a 2-in-12 chance in forests.)

Reaching 9th Level
Upon reaching 9th level, a hunter may establish a lodge in the wilderness. 2d4 hunters of 1st level will find their way to the lodge to serve the character.

Level Progression Chart





Saving Throws
Level
XP
HD
AC0
Death
Wands
Paralysis
Breath
Spells
1
0
1d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
2
2,000
2d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
3
4,000
3d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
4
8,000
4d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
5
16,000
5d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
6
32,000
6d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
7
64,000
7d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
8
120,000
8d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
9
240,000
9d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
10
360,000
9d6+2
12
6
7
8
8
10
11
480,000
9d6+4
12
6
7
8
8
10
12
600,000
9d6+6
12
6
7
8
8
10
13
720,000
9d6+8
10
4
5
6
5
8
14
840,000
9d6+10
10
4
5
6
5
8
Work in Progress...
  • As with the Dolmenwood elf class that I posted recently, this class is (so far) entirely un-playtested.
  • All feedback is most welcome!

9 comments:

  1. Nice! I like the lodge idea for name level.

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  2. I assume the hit die is for basic LL and d8 would be for advanced.

    How many trophies can a Hunter have active at the same time? I do not mean multiples, but rather of differing species.

    If you have the original Unearthed Arcana, Gavin, read the acrobat for what is probably the first prestige class. It might give you some ideas on how to design your own old school style.

    And I really like the idea of animals as retainers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, if you were using this class in an advanced game, d8 HD would be suitable.

      There's no limit on the number of trophies. That makes me wonder about making the class' basic THAC0 progression slightly slower, though, so that hunters don't overtake fighters.

      Yes, I do have UA. I'll check out the acrobat again. It's a while since I looked at it.

      Delete
  3. There's something charming about a hunter class that benefits from high Cha and Int instead of Wis. Less like Aragorn, more crafty, larger-than-life, prone to death by hubris.

    Not sure if hunters should be better at missile attacks than fighters? I prefer a game where a player who wants to roll up an archer, but balks at the relatively long hunter class description, can make a fighter without feeling like they're missing out. Maybe it's balanced out by d6 hit die and leather armor though *shrugs*

    Success chance for fungi identification is surprisingly low, particularly since it never advances as-written.

    I like the Animal Companion rules, and while I'm not a fan of "favored enemy" abilities, Trophy at least avoids my major bugbears with them. :-)

    Is there a reason you didn't present this as a short list of talents to plug into your BX Rogue and BX Warrior works?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Re: the attack ability compared to fighters, it's something I've been thinking about since posting this. I'm thinking I'll slow down the hunter's basic thaco progression so they don't outdo fighters at their own game.

      The fungi identification was pulled from The first issue of the Wormskin zine, where there's a list of the chances various types of character have at identifying fungi. There it already states that hunters have a 1-in-6 chance.

      Yeah, I originally was thinking of a favoured enemy approach, but then came up with the trophies idea while writing, which seemed nicer, mechanically, and a lot more fun.

      The reason I didn't do this to fit in with the B/X Rogue / Warrior was that I don't want those books to be prerequisites for Dolmenwood games, which this class is intended for.

      Delete
  4. I forgot one thing- you need to define animal for the companion feature. I don't think there will be many non-Earthly species in the forest, but that is really up to you.

    And does foraging only apply to food plants or can it be used for others as well (fibers for clothing and traps, spell components, bait that is toxic to humans, etc.)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I'd leave the ruling on what exactly constitutes an animal down to each referee. I don't want to get all 3e about things ;)

      Foraging refers solely to the standard Expert rule for finding food in the wild. (Though a referee could certainly expand that to include other things as well.)

      Delete
    2. If you aren't going to define animal, then you should mention that with the class' final write up. Otherwise you probably will get emails and posts asking what is and isn't an animal in Wormskin.

      And with a hunting lodge, can the master give one or more trophies to followers?

      Delete
    3. I think it's just one of those B/X areas the referee has to rule on. There's no "official line" on what's an animal, and it should be pretty intuitively obvious. I might add "non-magical", however, to make it a bit clearer.

      I'd say each hunter has to achieve his or her own trophies, but could store them in the master's lodge.

      Delete