Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Five

I haven't blogged about this yet, but I actually finished it up over a week ago. I went back to my old TSR-East file, and using some stuff from my condensed TSR version (Euro and Asian archetypes together, and the current rules for creating characters in my West Marches game), cobbled together something that's a little bit Chanbara, a little bit Flying Swordsmen, and a bit of its own thing. 

There are five base character classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, and Martial Artist. 

In the combined TSR, each of the four main classes has a martial arts style subclass. I took all of them and made the Martial Artist class from them, along with a bit of Flying Swordsmen to fill in some gaps and even things out. 

For the standard four classes, I removed, added, or combined some subclasses from Chanbara, and revised some of the existing ones from the combined TSR document. Since only a few people reading this blog have seen these documents, I suppose I'd better go into a bit of detail. 

The Cleric

As you'd expect, a bit of fighting, some healing/utility magic, and turning undead. Subclasses are now:

Exorcist (Onmyoji), similar to the Chanbara Mahotsukai Onmyoji subclass, but with some improved Turn Undead ability.

Shaman (Mudang), similar to the Chanbara Soryo or Flying Swordsmen Shaman minus the martial arts. They get a small boost to spell casting, and some once per day rituals. 

Warrior-Monk (Sohei), similar to the Chanbara Bushi Sohei subclass or the OA class, but with normal clerical spell casting. They have a slightly different spell list.

The Fighter

Again, as you expect - the best combat progression, hit points, and access to weapons/armor [for most subclasses]. They have special abilities from my TSR combined rules (Parry similar to "shields shall be splintered," Sweep as in AD&D, Smash from BECMI Companion, multiple attacks at high level). Subclasses are now:

Knight (Hwarang or Samurai), which is basically the Cavalier from TSR combined edition, and a bit like the Bushi Samurai in Chanbara. 

Vagabond (Ronin), which is a bit like the Chanbara Bushi Abarenbo, and a bit like the Bushi in OA, with a bit of Flying Swordsmen Thief Vagabond in there as well. 

Weapon Master (Kensei), which is of course the OA Kensai, Flying Swordsman Weapon Master, and Chanbara Bushi Kensei class you'd expect. 

The Magic-User

Spells -- lots of spells, and instead of the Holmes edition's scroll scribing ability, they get a Craft Charm ability which is really just a refluffing of the scroll ability. Subclasses are now:

Geomancer (Wu Jen or Shugenja), which is a little bit OA Wu Jen, a little bit Chanbara Mahotsukai Yamabushi, and have casting a la Flying Swordsmen's Wizard (know X number of spells per level, instead of having a spellbook, but still need to prepare from those spells known), and Taboos a la the Wu Jen. 

Scholar (Wushi), pretty much the standard Magic-User, but get bonus spells for high Int. 

Soothsayer (Suan Ming), which is brand new (but very much ripped off from the 5E Diviner specialization for Wizards). They have a slightly different spell list.

The Thief

Pretty old school, with % Thief skills instead of the d20 + mods of Flying Swordsmen or the 2d6 system of Chanbara. Backstabbing, language deciphering, scroll reading, it's all there. Subclasses are now: 

Gangster (Yakuza), which is a little bit like the OA Yakuza, but with magical tattoos that they get every third level. Pretty much straight from my original TSR-East (and combined TSR) with little modification. They get improved pickpocketing and a bribery skill (like in Flying Swordsmen).

Infiltrator (Ninja or Shinobi), which is of course similar to the Chanbara Ninja Shinobi subclass, or the 2E Complete Ninja Handbook ninja. They get improved backstab and stealth. 

Outlaw, which is based on the Flying Swordsmen Thief Outlaw subclass. They have improved trap busting and lock picking, and a ranged "backstab", plus tracking. Still haven't decided if I want to use a Chinese or Korean name for these guys. 

The Martial Artist

Like the various Monk classes or BECMI Mystic, or any class in Flying Swordsmen, these guys fight mostly bare handed, and sans armor. Instead of basing the AC on Dex scores as in Chanbara and combined TSR martial arts subclasses, or special abilities as in Flying Swordsmen, I gave them a set AC at each level, modified by Dex and magic as usual. They get a Hard or Soft fighting style, Light Step (for wuxia action), empowered strikes to damage the "magic only" monsters, and secret techniques for each subclass. Subclasses are:

Acrobat, which is a bit like the Chanbara Ninja Taijutsuka subclass. They get some thief skills, and secrets that give them expanded mobility and/or defense. 

Iron Fist, which is pretty much just the Fighter (sweep, smash, extra attack) but mostly unarmed, and with a bit of self-healing and resistance to breath weapons at high level. 

Monk, which can cast cleric spells at 1/2 level progression, and gets the "mental" abilities of other Monk classes, and poison/disease immunity at high level. 

Mystic, which can cast magic-user spells at 1/2 level progression, damage reduction a la the Flying Swordsmen Wizard Taoist subclass, and the good old "death touch" ability at high level.


Demi Humans? 

My TSR-East rules assumes human PCs, but I did make some optional demi-human races like I did for Chanbara, but not exactly the same ones. 

Dokkaebi (Korean version of oni), Koropokuru (dwarves from Ainu legend like in OA), Kumiho (fox fairies, Korean name just because, but the same as kitsune in Chanbara), Spirit Born (sort of like OA Spirit Folk, but more like Japanese legends of adopted spirit children), Tengu (crow-headed humanoids from Japanese myth, also in Chanbara), and Vanara (monkey-men from Indian myths and 3E OA).

I've revised the classes allowed and maximum levels allowed for them, but this morning I was thinking that maybe I should go back to race-as-class for this rule set, to keep the demi-humans rare. I have these demi-humans in my TSR combined rule set, and they've been more popular than humans. Of course, so far only two players have tried TSR-East options, but they've been a Koropokuru Yakuza and a Dokkaebi Shaman. 

If I go race-as-class, I probably won't include all of these. And I might bring back the Kappa or Tanuki in Flying Swordsmen if I feel like it. We'll see. Basically, it's a pain in the ass trying to decide which archetypes each demi-human could fit with all these classes/subclasses to deal with. So a single class for each race might be best. Give them as an option, but keep them rare.

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