Sunday, September 25, 2016

A new DCC class for dwarfs: The Rune Priest

I tried do something interesting for the dwarf...well, I tried to do something interesting for all of them, but I like how the Rune Priest turned out.  He's mostly a cleric, but he's missing a few things, and has a few other things in their place.  I don't want to spoil it, so read on.



Rune Priest (Dwarf)
a DCC class


Introduction

For countless millenia, until perhaps recently, dwarfs had reason to regard the race of man with contempt.  Long-lived and stable of union, the dwarf people observed human empires that came and went, as new gods rose and fell.  For the People of the Earth, nothing could be more absurd.  They knew their gods.  They touched their gods.  Deep beneath the mountains, in cities of polished stone, the gods of the dwarfs treated with their mortal kin, freely bestowing upon them the secrets of the universe.


Among many other mysteries taught by the dwarfish gods were the secrets of Rune Magic.  This art is used by its practitioners to summon, bargain and bind various supernatural spirits.  Elementals, faerie, the souls of the dead, and even the gods themselves...the powers of Rune Magic allow dwarf priests to work miracles of power.


Despite the fact that Rune Magic does not immediately rely on the favor of the dwarf gods, the results are similar to Idol Magic.  The art is too refined to endanger the practitioner with the effects of miscasting and corruption, but it still requires, to a certain extent, pacts, obligations and the favor of various intangible beings.


Even so, there are important differences between Idol Magic and Rune Magic.  First of all, Rune Priests lack the Cleric’s ability to turn the unholy or call for divine aid.  However, there is something they gain in return: Rune Priests are able to learn Arcane Magic spells as though they were Clerical spells, and these spells have the usual Clerical downside (i.e. disapproval) instead of the risks of Wizardry (i.e. misfires and corruption).


Rune Priests are so named because of how rune magic works, which is the use of the sacred dwarf alphabet to communicate and bind agreements with various unseen spirits.  These runes may be placed anywhere that the Rune Priest would keep in contact with, so a great many bear their runes as tattoos, brands or other forms of scarification.


The function of the Rune Priest in dwarf society is multifaceted.  As a whole, the orders of Rune Priests represent the intermediaries between the wisdom of the gods and the dwarfish people.  They are the keepers of secrets and ancient rites, advisors to Kings Beneath the Sun, and chroniclers of their people’s history.


While Rune Priests are the midwives and agents of dwarfish civilization, they are equally at home fighting for that civilization on the battlefield.  As such, Rune Priests serve their gods with a fierce aspect, and so they are fierce in battle.  They are devastating warriors when equipped with two-handed weapons.


With the addition of this new dwarf class, the standard dwarf class should now be renamed the Warlord (Dwarf).


Summary

Rune Priests are a kind of dwarven Cleric.  They are functionally very similar, except they lack the ability to turn unholy or request divine aid, and they possess a limited ability to cast wizard spells.  In addition, they have special advantages when fighting with two-handed weapons.


Rules

Hit points

Rune Priests roll 1d8 for hit points every level.


Weapon training

Rune Priests are proficient at wielding clubs, hand axes, javelins, longswords, spears and warhammers.  In addition, they can be considered trained in all two-handed melee weapons that are not extremely exotic.


Choosing a god

Rune Priests do not select a single god, because they are supposed to serve all dwarf gods equally.  In general, dwarfish gods approve of any action that enhances dwarf civilization.  They disapprove of the opposite, or any action that improves another race’s standing relative to that of dwarfs.  The Rune Priest’s relationship with his god serves as a proxy for his obligations to the actual beings that he treats with.


Chaotic Rune Priests, however, serve no gods.  The whims of the beings they serve are not consistent from casting to casting.  In general, players should be discouraged from playing chaotic Rune Priests, but it can be done is all parties are willing.


Alignment

The fact that Rune Priests are supposed to serve all dwarf gods gives them the latitude to be either neutral or lawful.


There are a few rare chaotic Rune Priests.  These practitioners have learned the secrets of the runes, but they have turned away from the dwarfish gods.  Such a thing could never happen in times of old.


Caster level

Caster level is a measurement of a Rune Priest’s power in channeling spiritual energy. A Rune Priest’s caster level is usually his level as a Rune Priest, but this may be modified under certain circumstances. Many Rune Priests adventure in search of holy relics that bring them spiritual authority, and thus increase their effective caster levels.


Magic

A Rune Priest can call upon the reserves of favors owed to him through bargains and rites of binding, instead of channeling the power of their gods; this is a good thing, too, since they haven’t seen their gods in some years. Successful invocation of these debts allows a Rune Priest to channel the power of supernatural beings as a magical spell. A Rune Priest has access to the spells of his god as noted on table 1-5.


To cast a spell, a Rune Priest makes a spell check (see page 106). The spell check is made like any other check: roll 1d20 + Personality modifier + caster level. If the Rune Priest succeeds, his god attends to his request – not always predictably, but with generally positive results.


If the Rune Priest fails he risks disapproval.  His supernatural credit was insufficient, or some form of a contract was violated.  The effects of this are essentially identical to the disapproval suffered by clerics.


These rules apply to Rune Priest magic:


  • Natural 1 means disapproval. On a natural 1 during a spell check, a Rune Priest discovers that he has somehow gained the disapproval of his deity. The spell check automatically fails, and the Rune Priest must roll on the Disapproval Table (see page 122).
  • Each failed spell check increases the chance of disapproval. After his first spell check fails in a day, a Rune Priest’s range of disapproval increases to a natural roll of 1 or 2. Thereafter, on any natural roll of 1 or 2, the spell automatically fails, and the Rune Priest must roll on the Disapproval Table. After a second spell check fails, a Rune Priest’s range of disapproval increases to a natural roll of 1 through 3. And so on. The range continues increasing, and any natural roll within that range automatically fails. This means that a Rune Priest could potentially reach a point where normally suc - cessful rolls automatically fail because they are in the disapproval range. For example, a Rune Priest who fails 12 spell checks in a day would automatically fail any future spell check on a roll of 1 through 13, even though a roll of 13 would normally mean success on 1st-level spells. When the Rune Priest regains spells on the following day, his disapproval range is reset to a natural 1. Probably. Rune Priests who test their gods may find they are not always forgiving.
  • Penalties can be offset by sacrifices. Once a Rune Priest’s range of disapproval increases beyond a natural 1, he can reduce that range by offering sacrifices to his deity. See below for more information.
  • Sinful use of spiritual power. A Rune Priest may be capable of using his powers in ways that displease the dwarf gods. Doing so is a sin. Sinful activities include anything that is not in accordance with the glory of dwarfish civilization; healing a character of an opposed alignment or healing or aiding a character of an opposed to the dwarfs (even if of the same alignment); failing to support followers of the same beliefs when they are in need; and so on. When a Rune Priest commits a sinful act, he may incur an additional increase in his disapproval range. This could amount to an increase of +1 for minor infractions all the way up to +10 for significant transgressions. These additional penalties are always at the judge’s discretion, and may manifest accompanied by thunder and lightning, plagues of locusts, water running uphill, and other signs of divine displeasure.


Sacrifices

A Rune Priest may make sacrifices to the dwarf gods in order to regain favor. Any offering of material wealth counts. Other acts may count as well, at the discretion of the judge.


Sacrificing wealth means the items must be burned, melted down, donated to the needy, contributed to a temple, or otherwise relieved from the character’s possession. They may be donated as part of a special rite or simply added to a temple’s coffers. This is not a rapid combat action; it requires a minimum time of at least one turn and the Rune Priest’s full concentration.


For every 100 gp (not 50 gp!) of sacrificed goods, a Rune Priest “cancels” one point of normal disapproval range. For example, a disapproval range of 1 through 4 can be reduced to 1 though 3. A natural 1 still counts as automatic failure and disapproval. A great deed, quest, or service to a deity may also count as a sacrifice, at the judge’s discretion.


Lay on hands

Rune Priests heal the faithful. By making a spell check, a Rune Priest may lay on hands to heal damage to any living creature. The Rune Priest may not heal undead, animated objects (e.g., living statues), extraplanar creatures (e.g., demons, devils, elementals, etc.), or constructs (e.g., golems) in this manner. The Rune Priest must physically touch the wounds of the faithful and concentrate for 1 action. The spell check is made as any other: roll 1d20 + Personality modifier + caster level. Failure increases disapproval range, as noted above.


The damage healed varies according to several factors.


  • It is always a number of dice, with the type of dice determined by the hit die of the creature to be healed. For example, a warrior uses a d12 hit die, so a warrior would be healed with d12 dice.
  • The number of dice healed cannot exceed the target’s hit dice or class level. For example, a Rune Priest healing a 1st-level character cannot heal with more than 1 die, even if he rolls well on his check.
  • Finally, before rolling his spell check, the Rune Priest may elect to heal a specific condition instead of hit points. Healed dice translate to conditions as noted below. In this case, the target’s hit dice or class level do not act as a ceiling. If the Rune Priest heals the indicated dice, the damaging condition is alleviated. “Overflow” hit dice do not become normal healing, and if the healed dice are too low, there is no effect.
    • Broken limbs: 1 die
    • Organ damage: 2 dice
    • Disease: 2 dice
    • Paralysis: 3 dice
    • Poison: 3 dice
    • Blindness or deafness: 4 dice


The Rune Priest’s alignment further influences the results, as follows:


  • If Rune Priest and subject are the same alignment, they count as “same” on the table below.
  • If Rune Priest and subject differ in alignment by one step (e.g., one is neutral and the other is lawful or chaotic), or have different but not antithetical gods, they count as “adjacent” on the table below. Such a healing action may constitute sin if not done in service of the faith.
  • If Rune Priest and subject are of opposed alignment (e.g., one is lawful and one is chaotic), or have rival gods, they count as “opposed” on the table below. Such a healing almost always counts as a sin unless it is an extraordinary event in the service of the deity.
  • All dwarfs are considered “same,” except for chaotic dwarves, who are considered “opposed.”
  • Non-dwarfs cannot be considered better than “adjacent,” while elves are always considered “opposed.”
  • For Chaotic Rune Priests, there are no race-based considerations.


Then have the Rune Priest make a spell check and reference the table below.


Spell check
Same
Adjacent
Opposed
1-11
Failure
Failure
Failure
12-13
2
1
1
14-19
3
2
1
20-21
4
3
2
22+
5
4
3


Learning wizard spells

Unlike human clerics, Rune Priests are able to learn wizard spells.  When the Rune Priest goes up in level, he get to choose a wizard spells to learn.  The levels of these wizard spells cannot be higher than the Rune Priest’s highest castable cleric spell level.  A Rune Priest starts the game knowing one randomly determined wizard spell.


The cleric spells that a Rune Priest learns are determined randomly.  As for wizard spells, however, the  Rune Priest selects these freely, but to actually learn each such spell, he must complete a quest.  The judge determines what the quest will be, as usual.  The Rune Priest is able to divine what he needs to do for a quest, though not in detail.  He may only know enough to get started.  There are plenty of opportunities for surprises.


Use of wizard spells

When a Rune Priest casts a wizard spell, the resolution combines aspects of cleric and wizard mechanics.  The usual spell check is rolled (i.e. Personality modifier + CL).  If the casting is a failure, then in addition to the spell not going off, the disapproval range increases by one.  If the failure was a roll of 1-11, then the Rune Priest also loses the spell for the day.  


Finally, if the roll is a fumble, then the caster first suffers the effects of deity disapproval.  On top of that, the Rune Priest automatically receives a request from the dwarfish gods, and until this request is fulfilled, his or her disapproval range will not decrease.  If the same caster accrues multiple requests in this fashion, then they must all be fulfilled before the range can be lowered.


For chaotic Rune Priests, the nature of the request is completely random, since the caster does not proxy his spiritual debts through the dwarf gods.


Two-handed weapon fighting

Rune Priests gain certain advantages when fighting with two-handed weapons.  First of all, they roll 1d20 for initiative, instead of the 1d16 that is usually used for two-handed weapons.  Second of all, Rune Priests gain +1d when rolling damage for a two-handed weapon.


Infravision

Dwarfs may see up to 60’ in the dark.


Slow

Due to their stout stature, dwarfs have a base movement speed of 20’ per round instead of the 30’ per round of humans.


Underground Skills

Long life beneath the ground trains dwarves to detect certain kinds of construction. When underground, dwarves receive a bonus to detect traps, slanting passages, shifting walls, and other new construction equal to their class level. Additionally, a dwarf can smell gold and gems. A dwarf can tell the direction of a strong concentration of gold or gems within 100’. Smaller concentrations, down to a single coin, can still be smelled but require concentration and have scent ranges as low as 40’ (for a single coin or gem).


Luck

At first level, a Rune Priest’s Luck modifier applies to attack rolls with one specific kind of weapon (e.g., “greatsword,” not “sword”), just as a warrior’s does. This kind of weapon must be chosen at 1st level, and the modifier remains fixed over time, even if the dwarf’s Luck score changes, and it must be two-handed.


Languages

At 1st-level, a Rune Priest automatically knows Common, the dwarf racial language, plus one additional randomly determined language. A dwarf knows one additional language for every point of Int modifier, as described in Appendix L of the DCC core rules.


Action dice

A Rune Priest’s action dice can be used for attacks or spell checks.


Table I: Rune Priest Progression

Level
Attack
Crit Die
Crit Table
Action Dice
Ref
Fort
Will
1
+0
1d8
III
1d20
+0
+1
+1
2
+1
1d8
III
1d20
+0
+1
+1
3
+2
1d10
III
1d20
+1
+2
+2
4
+2
1d10
III
1d20
+1
+2
+2
5
+3
1d12
III
1d20
+1
+3
+3
6
+4
1d12
III
1d20 +1d14
+2
+4
+4
7
+5
1d14
III
1d20 +1d16
+2
+4
+4
8
+5
1d14
III
1d20 + 1d20
+2
+5
+5
9
+6
1d16
III
1d20 + 1d20
+3
+5
+5
10
+7
1d16
III
1d20 + 1d20
+3
+6
+6


Table II: Rune Priest Known Spells

Level
Known Wizard Spells
Known Cleric Spells By Level
1
2
3
4
5
1
1
3
-
-
-
-
2
2
3
-
-
-
-
3
3
3
2
-
-
-
4
4
4
2
-
-
-
5
5
4
3
1
-
-
6
6
5
3
1
-
-
7
7
5
4
2
-
-
8
8
5
4
2
1
-
9
9
5
5
2
2
-
10
10
6
5
3
2
1


Table III: Rune Priest Titles

Level
Title (all alignments)
1
Scholar
2
Scribe
3
Poet
4
Seer
5
Sage

2 comments:

  1. Does a Rune Priest roll on the Mercurial Magic table for Wizard Spells, and can the use Spellburn as a Wizard, rather than the more limited form used by Clerics?

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  2. To be honest I hadn't considered mercurial magic, although I was assuming that there's no spellburn. The impact of mercurial magic is, on average, pretty small, so I'd say that you could use that if you like.

    Spellburn is a bit trickier, because it essentially gives Wizards the "glass cannon" option. Allowing it would make the Rune Priest a little more powerful, but on second thought, I'd be inclined to do so, because it's fun and flavorful. After all, DCC isn't a stickler for balance. One of my players is running a Rune Priest in our current campaign, and he chose Enlarge for his first Wizard spell. It could be a lot of fun to see him spellburn that!

    Of course, these are just my homebrew ideas, so if you use them, you can do whatever you like.

    ReplyDelete