Friday, July 17, 2015

Classes in Lamentations of the Flame Princess

We started a new Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign the other day. I really love the system, and it's become my go-to for OSR style play. As my players get into it though, I find the itch to tinker again. I always have the itch to tinker. Right now, my attention is on classes.

(TL;DR, skip down to "What I'm Thinking.")

What I love about LotFP Classes:

There is an extremely fine balance between the classes in the game. Each of the four human classes are good at and completely own a specific niche.
  • Clerics are the only ones with access to clerical magic, which already grants them a lot of really cool stuff including the extremely important healing abilities and turn undead. 
  • Fighters are the only class that gains AB as they go, as well as having access to better combat options (AC+4 on parry, Press and Defensive fighting). This is the only version of a D&D style game I've played where Fighters really feel indispensable as the fighting class.
  • Magic-users get all of the eldritch goodies you'd expect, and some extremely flavorful spells.
  • Specialists are the best thief variant I've seen in an OSR game. The ability to put dots where you please lets you play them as the ranger, the cat-burgler, the explorer, the assassin, or whatever else. More importantly, they are the only class who gets points to spend in increasing abilities. 

The demi-human classes are somewhat less impressive, but each feel like a hybrid of something above.
  • Elves are essentially fighter-mages, as they usually are. The interesting thing is that they don't get advancing AB the way Fighters do, but they do get the extra melee options.They do however get an ascending Search die as they level.
  • Dwarves are treated much the same. No advancing AB, but they get the extra melee options, a larger hit-die, and can carry around more stuff. Stonecunning takes the form of an advancing Architecture skill.
  • Halflings.. uh.. are. halflings. In LotFP, they wind up with a 5-in-6 Stealth skill, an ascending Bushcraft skill, and a bonus to their dex and AC. [Edit: Raggi himself dropped a comment on my G+ for leaving out the halfling's saving throw bonuses! Woops.]

What I Hate about LotFP Classes:

Each class is indisputably the best at it's specific niche, but those niches are fairly narrowly defined. In normal B/x, it's pretty easy to add in new classes because every class already gets better at multiple things. In LotFP as written, it would be extremely hard to introduce another combat class that wouldn't step on the Fighter's toes. Giving other classes much in the way of skills winds up making the Specialist a little less.. special.

What I Want to Do:

I've got a few things I want to tinker around with but have held off because LotFP is on its own a pretty well-oiled machine. For instance - letting a character have some additional points to spend in their skills based on Intelligence modifier (Fighters wanting bushcraft is an obvious one. A dwarf in our current campaign made that exact request). I've also wanted to tinker in letting players specialize their character in one way or another - a Specialist variant that gets more offensive capabilities in exchange for reduced skill points; Paladin, Ranger, or Barbarian being Fighter variants that gain extra abilities in exchange for giving up some Fighter prowess; Variant or specialized magic users or clerics, and so on.

What I'm Thinking:

Fighter and Specialist are the two classes I'm most concerned with, as their whole value comes from being the sole class that advances in their niche. If I give another class AB, or another class skills, their relative value goes down. To solve this, I'm considering the following:

When the class in question is doing the thing they are supposed to do, they roll two dice and take the better result. Fighters would roll 2d20 on their attack rolls, keeping the higher. Specialists would get 2d6 on every skill roll, only failing if both fail.

A Paladin class then could take on Lay on Hands or a similar feature and still have advancing AB, but lose their 2d20 roll. Other classes could have skills, or an Assassin class could exist with its own features, but only get 1d6 for skill rolls. It would also make the Specialist better at whatever skill than any of the demi-humans using that same skill.

I can't decide if this is the way I want to do it. I'm not sure if it would make the classes too good by comparison, but it's definitely something I want to play around with.

Update: I have since come up with some potential solutions for all of this.

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