Friday, December 30, 2011

B/X - the Half-Orc

I am a huge fan of B/X D&D.  To me it hits the sweet spot between OD&D and AD&D in terms of simplicity, elegance, character choice, and PC power.  You can still get robust characters and get a fair number of choices of class and race, but it's not nearly as complex as AD&D.  Also - I'm a sucker for Race as Class.  I just think it adds a cool flavor.  So if you're an Elf, you must be a hybrid F/MU.  If you're a Dwarf or Halfling, you are a Fighter with some extra abilities thrown in the mix.

But the one class that is missing to me is the F/Th combination.  I don't think the Thief class is very robust in B/X (with the d4 for hit dice and the terrible thieving skills).  So my solution is to introduce the Half-Orc.  The Half-Orc is essentially a F/Th.  Here is the full description:

HALF-ORC:
Half-orcs are stocky, brutish figures with a ruddy complexion and coarse black hair covering much of their body.  Half-orcs sport a set of sharp fangs as well.  Most half-orcs have an affinity for violence and deception.  There are certain exceptions to this (such as when infant half-orcs are abandoned by their human mothers and taken in by monasteries, etc), but even in these cases nature often wins out over nurture in the long run.  Half-orcs are completely non-proficient with magic, but excel at combat and thievery. 
The prime requisites for a half-orc are Strength and Dexterity.  If a half-orc has a score of 13 or greater in both Strength and Dexterity, the character will gain a 5% bonus on earned experience points.  If both scores are 13 or higher and either one of them is 16 or higher, the character will gain a 10% bonus on earned experience points.
Half-orcs use d7 to determine their hit points.  Roll a d8 and subtract 1 (re-rolling any resulting zeros).  They may advance to a maximum of 12th level.  Half-orcs have the benefits of both Fighters and Thieves in most cases (except armor).  They may use the Thief ability chart.  They can use any melee weapon, even when “thieving.”  However, they may NOT use the Cleave ability (see my BX house rules).  Additionally, they can only use up to leather armor when using Thief abilities (up to chainmail when not using thief abilities).  Magic armor is the exception.  Half-orcs can use magic armor up to chainmail and still use thief skills A character must have both a Strength and Dexterity of 9 or greater to be a half-orc.
Half-orcs have a fearsome, monstrous fighting style.  They tend to fly into bloodthirsty rages, swinging in high-arching sweeps and go-for-broke lunges, looking to sever limbs and crack skulls with each swing.  As such, half-orcs can choose to go “berserk” at will, adding from +1 to +3 bonus (player’s choice) to their damage roll and taking an offsetting -1 to -3 penalty on either “To Hit” or Armor Class.  Players must declare that they are “berserk” (and whether their penalty is on “To Hit” or AC) during the declaration phase – prior to initiative roll.  (Note: Half-orcs use the Fighter/Dwarf “To Hit” column and use the Fighter/Dwarf variable weapon damage).  Half-orcs have infravision and can see 60’ in the dark.  Half-orcs have excellent saving throws, although not as good as Dwarves.  All Half-orcs speak Common, Orcish, and the Alignment tongue of the character.


Following are Half-orc  XP chart and Saving Throw chart:
Half-Orc Experience Table
Level
Title
Exp. Points
Hit Dice
Spells
1
Ruffian
1d7
none
2
Rogue
3,000
2d7
none
3
Brigand
6,000
3d7
none
4
Clubber
12,000
4d7
none
5
Slasher
24,000
5d7
none
6
Skull Cracker
48,000
6d7
none
7
Splinterer
90,000
7d7
none
8
Backstabber
190,000
8d7
none
9
Master Backstabber
300,000
9d7
none
10
10th Level Master Backstabber
450,000
9d7+2
none
11
11th Level Master Backstabber
600,000
9d7+4
none
12
12th Level Master Backstabber
750,000
9d7+6
none



Half-Orc Saving Throws




Level
Death Ray or Poison
Magic Wands
Paralysis or Turn to Stone
Dragon Breath
Rods, Staves, or Spells
1-3
10
11
12
14
14
4-6
8
9
10
12
12
7-9
6
7
8
9
10
10-12
4
5
6
7
8

11 comments:

  1. Cool! I love B/X, and respect the Half-Orc. They aren't as easy to love. They're like the original (but less sexy) Tieflings. Thanks for sharing this.

    A couple questions for you. Can Half-Orcs use shields? If "berserk" were a spell that lasted for multiple encounters, what level spell would you make it?

    I'm tinkering with a class building system, and I'm curious to see what kind of xp table it would give these guys. Not because I disagree with your xp totals. I'm just testing the system to see how the numbers shake out.

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  2. Can't say I've ever seen a half-orc as class. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Aargh! I had a nice post written up and somehow deleted it. So I'll try to replicate it:

    @ Quibish: Thanks! Glad to share. I would say "No" on the shields. Since "Berserk" has both pros and cons to it (but slightly more pros than cons), I'd call it 2nd level if it was a spell.

    By the way, the "Berserk" rule feels a little out of the normal B/X spirit, so I'm on the fence about it. But I'll still use it when I run B/X.

    Please share your XP results. I'm eager to find out what you calc as a fair advancement for the B/X Half-Orc. I think I've seen this kind of thing somewhere in the past but I can't remember where.

    By the way, I just went over and followed your blog. Looks very cool. When I get a chance this weekend, I'll take a closer look.

    @ Simon: No problem. Glad to share. I went over to your blog and it looks super cool, but I can't figure out if there's a way to Follow your blog. Got any tips for that? Thanks.

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  4. "Please share your XP results."

    Can do.

    100%- Base XP (center column)
    95% - d7 Hit Dice (+2hp after Lv9)
    70% - Fighter Hit Progression
    25% - Level Limit 12
    45% - Half-Orc Saves
    25% - Armor (Chain or less, no shield)
    90% - Any Weapon
    30% - Magic Items (same as fighters)
    0% -- Common and Native Languages
    80% - Thief Skills (including backstab)
    50% - Berserk Ability(at will)
    15% - Infravision
    ------
    625% - Total

    1st --- 0
    2nd --- 2500
    3rd --- 5000
    4th -- 10000
    5th -- 20000
    6th -- 40000
    7th -- 80000
    8th - 150000
    9th - 300000
    10th- 420000
    11th- 540000
    12th- 660000

    Looks like I'd give them Magic User XP, except they have an easier time after name level. Lower totals than yours overall, but at least we agree on the XP for Lv9. Cool.

    I'm definitely swiping this race/class for my games. I might alter Berserk, but I'll try using it as listed for a while and see how it goes. Thanks!

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  5. Quibish - you know what's funny? I was thinking 3,000xp might be a little high for 2nd level, but I kept it anyway.

    I think I may split the difference and use 2,750xp for 2nd level.

    Glad you're swiping it! I still need to go check out your blog more thoroughly. I love the numbers/stats side of gaming and it seems that you do too.

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  6. Very nice!
    I love B/X and half-orcs...but I don't know about the berserking. I'd drop that part and use the M-U xp progression. (Actually in my own B/X campaign I was just treating half orcs as regular fighters or thieves...being half-orc or half-elf is just a background thing with no mechanical effect.)
    The only other B/X style half-orc I've seen is the "half human" in the Companion Expansion by Batarria (sp?).

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  7. Mike - thanks for the feedback! I've also received feedback over at Dragonsfoot about dropping the Berserking. I may rethink this aspect of the class and find a more "stealthy" skill instead of berserking. I think I will go with 2,750xp to 2nd level (depending on what skill I substitute for berserking). This is much lower than the 4,000xp required for an Elf, but this is a less powerful multi-class.

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  8. Just stumbled on this half-orc and I'm digging it! I agree that 3,000xp for level 2 seems a bit high.

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  9. Jeff - thanks for checking out the blog! Glad you like it. I think I will issue an edited Half-Orc writeup soon.

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  10. This is growing on me. Crazy idea for an addition: what if the bite of the half-orc also causes the berserk in others? That would add an interesting bestial aspect to them. In fact, further idea: half-orcs are not created by interbreeding between orcs and humans, but by orc bites that are not quickly treated! Hmm, I may run with this.

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  11. Cool idea Brendan! That would give a fun twist to the orcs.

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