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Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

16 Bit Heroes – Two Sample Classes

I thought I’d post these – The Dilettante and the Mage. The Improvement Test tables indicate how quickly the class will advance with those abilities – the lower the Improvement Difficulty, the quicker they’ll advance. I’ll cover Improvement Tests in more detail when I’m working on the experience chapter, but essentially each level, you roll 5d10 for each ability. If you meet or exceed the ability’s Improvement Test Difficulty, that ability improves. The more you exceed the difficulty, the more the ability improves.

These are rough draft things, you understand. I just thought all five or so readers I have might be interested in seeing a couple classes, since they’re what I’m working on now.

If you’re holding out for information about Elements, I imagine I’ll be posting some in the not too distant future, but this is what I’m working on right now, so…

Dilettante

“Oh, sure – I know a bit about that.”

The Dilettante makes a career about knowing a little of everything. Most Dilettantes are a little knowledgeable about everything. They’ve experienced a lot of life, and found literally everything to be interesting – for a few minutes, anyway.

Dilettantes are great resources of knowledge and experience, although never as good as a specialist. Dilettantes can try an appropriate Ability roll at anything… with a penalty. The GM sets that penalty, but it should be at least -5, and the more specific and obscure the knowledge or activity is, the greater the penalty.

Dilettantes have neither strengths nor weaknesses. They’re okay at just about everything they try, but they aren’t great at anything. Their wealth of life experiences have left them sort of… okay.

Dilettante Class Ability: Jack of All Trades

Dilettantes never really bother to learn anything completely until they absolutely have to. They’re okay at everything off the bat, but when they decide they need to know something well, they can pick it up.

A Dilettante starts with no Skills. At 1st level, 3rd level, and every three levels thereafter (levels 6, 9, 12, and so on), he or she may make an Improvement Test against a difficulty of 25. If successful, the Dilettante learns one Skill of his or her choice. A Dilettante cannot learn any Tiered skill at a level above Tier 2.

Whenever using a magical weapon, armor, or shield he or she is not Skilled with, the Dilettante receives ½ (round down) any normal numerical bonus the item provides (so a magic Shield that provided +4 PD and 5r FIRE would provide +2 PD and 2r FIRE for a Dilettante who hadn’t picked up the Shield skill).

Dilettante Improvement Tests

Ability

1st Level Bonus

Improvement Difficulty

Strength

+4

25

Agility

+4

25

Vitality

+4

25

Intelligence

+4

25

Will

+3

25

Luck

+4

20

(Note: For all other classes, in order to gain any benefit at all from the magical bonuses of magic weapons, armor, and shields, a character must have the appropriate Skill. Gaining new Skills is also much more difficult for other classes – just to help you understand how the Dilettante works…)

Mage

“Oh, I know I’m nothing special. But my friend, here- he’s pretty good to begin with. And I make him better.”

Masters of the “gray” arts, Mages specialize in Utility Magic. Mages cast spells of all three kinds, and even dabble in combat (from a distance), but their arcane studies have been geared toward making other folks better at what they do.

Like all other spell slingers, Mages know more than a little about the arcane and magic. Mages. However, also study other forms of special power (the better to enhance it!), so they can be expected to know quite a bit about Oracle Magic, Weapon Techniques, and even stranger things.

Mages make good support characters, buffing their entire party with ease that no other spell caster can approach. They can even come in hand in ranged combat. Unfortunately, they tend toward frailty, and are close to useless in melee combat.

Mage Class Ability: Master of Utility

Mages are masters of the “gray” school of magic – utility spells. They can cast such spells with greater ease than anyone else.

All Utility spells cost a Mage 1 MP less to cast. This increases to 2 MP less to cast at level 4, 4 MP less to cast at level 8, 3 MP less to cast at level 12, and so on. All spells always cost at least 1 MP to cast.

Mage Skills

Mages have the Bow group weapon skill, Tier 3 Utility Magic, Tier 2 Offensive Magic, and Tier 1 Defensive and Summon Magic.

Mage Improvement Tests

Ability

1st Level Bonus

Improvement Difficulty

Strength

+0

40

Agility

+2

20

Vitality

+1

30

Intelligence

+5

15

Will

+5

15

Luck

+2

30

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15 thoughts on “16 Bit Heroes – Two Sample Classes

  1. So you know enough about HTML to make a table…
    .
    But not to indent.
    .
    Huh.

    (Cut-and-paste table into the visual editor? ;-P)

    The Mage class is just DYING to have a novel written about it. Imagine Grey Magic being used as a sports enhancement drug. The Knight/athlete the Mage is known to be helping dies of what has to be some sort of misuse of Grey Magic, and the Mage must find the killer before the long arm of the law snags him/her.

    God, that would be neat.

    • Oh! About the game: Nothing leaps out at me, though rolling 5d10 for stat improvements for all of my stats seems a bit… much. Just my 2 cents.

      • Oh, sorry… About the Stat Improvements: 5d10 is the standard roll for the game. All “tests” are resolved that way. You don’t just add the result to your stats…

      • Yeah, but that’s still six 5d10 rolls per level up. Isn’t that excessive? Or am I that out of touch with Table Top RPGs?

        (That’s kind of a rhetorical question – I read the fourth D and D rules and say “Huh?” more than half the time. Were I to play, I’d definitely have to scope out a For Dumbies book at the same time.

        (I might do better once a computer game version comes out. Maybe…)

    • Did… did you just compare Grey Magic to steroids?

      • It’s enhancing things, isn’t it? I’m not suggesting its a bad thing like steroids (though depending on the story/game it could be). I’s just something about the description fired the imagination.

        Hope that hasn’t ruined the class for you; it wasn’t my intent. I just got Writer Excited is all.

      • Oh good. I didn’t close my italics. What a noob.

  2. If it bothers you so much, edit the post.

    No – I find the idea of Gray Magic as Steroids as compelling as you do. It’s conceptually fascinating. I think I might’ve been making the same unconscious comparison when I made the class in the first place (either that, or I just made the class so that all the forms of Magic I’m using for the game have an associated specialist class… which is probably a more accurate assessment…)
    Rolling at all for level ups is excessive for a modern RPG. in 4th Edition D&D, you don’t even roll for HP, you just get more at each level.
    But in those classic 8 and 16 Bit console RPGs, the stat improvements seem almost random; Warriors can be expected to get Strength upgrades of a larger amount and more frequently than Wizards, but those improvements might be +3, +7, or +1 at any given level. Rolling on level-up is intended to simulate that,
    That having been said, there will be an optional, non-random improvement method as well where your character’s abilities improve at every even level an amount equal to their initial Level 1 bonus, while Race will provide similar improvement on every odd level. The random method is for groups that want to stay true to the genre.

    • I can’t edit my posts on your site any more than you can edit your post on my site. That power is reserved to the person running your site. Now if you want to grace me with that power over your site, cool beans. I just think you’re better off learning the HTML to indent yourself, rather than have me go through your site for you. :-)

      I’m thinking that there has to be a better way of emulating that random factor than having so many rolls. For instance, assign each class with three MAIN ABILITIES, rated in importance (for here let’s call them A, B, and C). Also make one stat a NOGAIN ABILITY. Then create a chart to roll on that will give a different amount to the Main Abilities depending upon what you roll (between 1 and 3, say). The No Gain will, of course, not gain anything. The remaining stats will go up a set number (1 say, though I can see a chart that randomizes that, too.) Thus not only do you have one roll, you have only one chart, too, without removing the feel you’re trying to get.

      Part of the problem I’m seeing with things the way they are now is that you’re making something that should be really simple more complex than need be. To be a bit extreme in the comparison, to me you’re making MERP when you should be shooting for Fighting Fantasy.

  3. Alright – I just fixed your tags. For the record, you tried to close an i with a b… which works about as well as you might expect. I don’t usually use HTML in comments, and I proofread before I hit post, so I always assumed that I could go back and edit if I wanted to… I just never wanted to.

    I’m not going to deny that charts would make things a bit easier – but so would using 2d6 instead of 5d10 as the task resolution roll, and I won’t do that. I like my method better because there are no charts. Rolling dice and comparing them to a matrix every time you level up seems tedious to me, and would require the reprinting of the improvement matrix on the character sheet at early levels (as in the old console games, early levels go by fairly quickly).

    I don’t like matrices in RPGs. For one thing, they’re out of date (I haven’t seen one since Marvel Superheroes). For another, I think they’re a poor substitute for a simple dice mechanic or a more direct algorithm. Having to frequently cross-reference on charts causes eyestrain…

    You are right, I suppose, that rolling six times is excessive, especially since separate rolls are required for things like new spells. Instead, how about rolling once and using that result for all your Ability Improvement? That way, there’s no matrix, but your singe-roll idea is preserved. I could retain the one-roll-per-ability as an optional improvement method for people that really like rolling dice.

    How does that sound?

    • B instead of I… Jaysus.

      I think one chart in the entire game wouldn’t break things, but if you don’t like ’em, you don’t like ’em. Hell, even it might have been too much of a much.

      Another idea is brewing in my pointy head, but right now Yakty Sax is playing on my play list and I can’t stop thinking of partially dress women. Let me get back to you on that later…

      Double checking HTML… and hitting post…

  4. While I am eager to hear about your idea… I find it vaguely interesting that you didn’t seem to have an opinion about mine. I think it’s a pretty good one, but I’d love some feedback. Of course, I’m still miles from the Experience chapter where this will be handled, so it’s not like there’s a time crunch…but still.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « student 20 Productions

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