Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Paladin Options: Blackguard and the like (3.5E, 4E, PF). Also: Diseases

Class Options allow you to add particular classes into 13th Age without the need of extensive reinventing of the wheel, so to speak.  Instead of having to make an entirely new class, re-flavoring and adding of a few talents and powers here and there would allow you to faithfully render the class you want, with less effort.

The Blackguard, Anti-Paladin, Paladin of Tyranny and Paladin of Slaughter all have one thing in common: we have no stinkin' righteous goody-two-shoes lurking over here.  They all are considered "evil" one way or another, but their intentions might make them more "non-good" rather than outright evil.  Because the Paladins of 13th Age aren't really alignment-restricted anyway, I felt that making these classes key off the Paladin was simply appropriate.

Re-Tweaking Suggestions

Allow the Paladin to take the Ranger's Animal Companion talent and the Rogue's Sneak Attack class feature, as well as the Defender Aura talent found in my blog (see it here); the only mechanical adjustment needed for the Ranger's Animal Companion might be to add the "undead" trait to them.

Reflavor the Paladin's Challenge as a talent that inflicts fear on your foes, so long as they avoid attacking you.  Also, reflavor the auto-kill of Turn Undead so that the undead become permanently rebuked, fleeing from battle and never coming back; it's a much simpler option than trying to manage a situation where PCs take control of entire undead armies, or even the Lich King... but if you're up to the challenge, feel free to changed "destroyed" to "confused (21+ impossible save ends if the creature is your level or lower, 16+ hard save ends if the creature is up to two levels higher than you, and 11+ save ends for creatures more than two levels higher than you)" and allow the creatures to stay confused even after battle.

Summoning of creatures and imbuing magical effects on equipment do not exist yet in 13th Age, but feel free to take talents and spells that let you do just that, trading one talent for one spell if needed.

New Talents

Corrupting Touch

Special: You cannot take this talent if you took Lay on Hands.
Twice per day as a quick action, you can corrupt a creature with a successful touch.  Make a Strength vs. PD attack against one engaged enemy.  On a success you lose one recovery and the target takes negative energy damage equal to your recovery value. On a failure you still lose one recovery, but the target takes half the damage you would've normally dealt, and after a short rest can use this talent one more time during the day.
(Adventurer Feat): On a success, the target also takes ongoing damage equal to your Charisma modifier.  Increase the ongoing damage to twice your Charisma modifier at level 5, and thrice your Charisma modifier at level 8.
(Champion Feat): On a success, the target is also weakened (save ends both).
(Epic Feat): You can sacrifice one recovery or use of this talent to also stun the target (save ends all).
GM Note: Feel free to allow this to work like Lay on Hands for undead type creatures.  Given the lack of disease rules in 13th Age, you can also allow the player to give up one use of Corrupting Touch to instead inflict a disease that you and the player agree upon, using the same attack as mentioned above.  See Diseases rule below.

Shroud of Darkness

The first time an enemy hits with an attack against you each battle, that enemy must reroll with a -2 penalty to hit as a free action.
(Adventurer Feat): Once per day, deal negative energy damage equal to twice your Charisma modifier against the triggering attacker.
(Champion Feat): If the reroll still hits, you have resistance 12+ against that attack.
(Epic Feat): The reroll's penalty to hit is now -4, instead of -2.


Using D&D 4E as inspiration, contracting a disease usually takes effect after a scene.  After being exposed to any contagions in an area -- be it an attack by a diseased enemy, or a cloud of toxins, the PCs must make a d20 roll and add their Constitution modifier to it.  Usually on either a 16+ or a 21+ they are safe, but rare diseases might need a 26+ to avoid being exposed.

Diseases have four stages:

  • Cured Stage, where the disease is removed.
  • Initial Stage, where the disease is initially contracted or heavily suppressed.
  • Worsened Stage, where the disease matures but isn't fatal or permanent in effect (yet).
  • Final Stage, which is usually fatal or permanent in effect, unless a powerful spell or ritual is used to fully restore you, like Resurrection.
Going up or down these stages requires an ability check pertaining to treating or shrugging off diseases, typically one attempt per diseased PC per daily heal-up (although more fatal diseases might require attempts to be made during each short rest AND daily heal-up instead!).  The DC to improve by one stage is usually hard or VERY hard, and dependent on the disease's environmental origin.  The more lenient DMs can choose to make the disease worsen only on a natural 1, but the default assumption is the same as that of death saving throws: failing to treat the illness immediately can result in fatalities.

Herbs and simple rituals can be used to remove the need to roll, but most diseases picked up while adventuring in champion or epic environments can only be maintained at best -- meaning creatures don't get worse, but they don't get better either -- and would likely require a more powerful solution to improve by at least one stage without having to make treatment/survival checks, usually in the form of elaborate rituals with hard-to-find components, or exotic herbs from far-away lands that are either expensive or hard to acquire (usually both).

With regards to diseases and Corrupting Touch, while it might not make sense to inflict diseases when enemies are killed off on a regular basis, for those who might want to play in a less combat-intensive campaign as a darker anti-hero, or an outright villain, they might want to reserve the ability to spread diseases with a touch for non-combat scenes.  Also, DMs can rule that either the creature's corpse, or even the creature itself should the PCs choose to simply knock them out of the fight rather than kill them outright, would become the disease's carrier.  In any case, the disease-related portion of Corrupting Touch is obviously campaign-specific, so it's not written as part of the talent's default effects.