"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

He May Be A Monster, But He’s OUR Monster: Part I

Okay - I will go into this. I would like a more detailed blogpost on the Half-Breed and their possible interaction with the rest of the party. Would the class be playable in a Hammer-like setting? After all - you are a monster of some sort and the more devoted members of the party would probably still kill you. Also more info on the monster powers and being half-something etc. Is this chosen at attaining first level or not?-- Zdanman

I solicited topics for a new blogpost on the DCC Transylvanian Adventures forum on the Goodman Games website and Zdanman came through with a good one. Zdanman wants more information on the Half-Breed and I can't blame him. The Half-Breed is one of the most enigmatic classes in The Transylvanian Grimoire. Here's why Zdanman's question is a fantastic topic for a blogpost

  • The Half-Breed is the only class in Transylvanian Adventures that qualifies as non-human. It's sort of a demihuman class/race but, before we grow too concerned about a class-race mix, I'd like to assure everyone that the Half-Breed deserves its own class.
  • The Half-Breed, Charger and Theorist are the only classes in TA/TG that aren't well-represented in the source material. Transylvanian Adventures is inspired by the Hammer Horror films of the 50s, 60s and 70s as well as Gothic fiction from the 18th through 20th centuries. How does the more modern notion of a half-vampire or half-werewolf fly with the tropes of older source material? Better than the Charger, in my experience.
  • The Half-Breed isn't the only class with extraordinary abilities but is one of the only classes whose abilities are without-a-doubt supernatural. There is no way a Half-Breed with his mojo working is going be mistaken for a normal person doing something cool.
  • Following my last playtest, I had to do a rewrite of the character classes in TA/TG and the Half-Breed is one of those classes that got a significant overhaul. This post will give me an opportunity to show a little bit of what changed.

Can't We All Just Get Along

Zdanman asks how the Half-Breed interacts with the rest of the party, given his demi-monstrous nature. Zdanman also points out that a zealous party-member might be inspired to kill the Half-Breed because of its unnatural parentage and wonders how that would affect the party social dynamic.

In the last playtest, we had a player who played a Half-Breed. Most of the complications for his character were from interactions outside the party -- NPCs and such. There was very little friction within the party. A lot of this has to do with how the Half-Breed is played and who is playing it. In a traditional game of D&D, many people have experienced that guy who is playing the Barbarian who hates magic and, at some point, tries to slug, kill or maim the party's spellcaster. 

I think it's possible that a player who is playing a Hunter or Polymath to the hilt might want to go down the same path. So a little bit is in the Judge's/DM's hands to gently remind the player that we're all working together to have fun. It's not necessarily fun for someone to have their character marked for death by another player's character. But TA/TG doesn't force party cohesion on any group of characters. It's just as easy for a zealous Polymath to want to off a Theorist. Or a xenophobic Valiant to want to off the Exotic. Or a righteous Paladin to want to off a Thief. Or a Wizard.

But, regarding the state of their monstrous nature, I think it's important to remind the party of a few things about the Half-Breed.
  • Half-Breeds are really useful. They can see in the dark. They're really fast. They can be a trump card for the party against the forces of “evil”. Especially when the torches go out.
  • Half-Breeds aren't unholy. Despite their demi-monstrous heritage, Half-Breeds cannot be Turned and are not harmed by holy water, etc. If they were really bad monster things, you could turn them. And holy water would mess them up too.
  • Adventuring in TA/TG is such that the party is likely working on behalf of a larger organization. The party will not always be able to choose its traveling companions. Think about Alucard from the Hellsing anime. Even though he's a straight up vampire, the characters in the show work alongside him. A TA/TG party may have a similar relationship with their Half-Breed. He may be a monster. But he's our monster.
  • If a player is hung up on the Half-Breed being a “monster”, it might be worth it to remind the party what a REAL monster is like. Cue random encounter featuring a monster that has 5 Hit Dice more than the party’s level. "Oh yeah, I totally agree. Marc's character is absolutely tainted with the mark of Satan and we should really just kill him here and now especially since he's tied up.... OHMIGODITZANUMBERHULKRUN!!!!" You'd be surprised how much of an icebreaker that can be.
More info on the Half-Breed in Part II tomorrow...

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