"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

Friday, May 11, 2012

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

With Great Power…

The Half-Breed is one of the more interesting classes when it comes to abilities or "class  features". What separates it from other classes is that its class features and upgrades can be chosen randomly. They don't have to be. But for some players, there's an element of fun in not knowing what the Half-Breed can do. The only other class that has this element of randomness available to them is the Exotic -- who can randomly add Exotic Weapon upgrades in the same fashion.

There are a few common abilities that all Half-Breeds share. All Half-Breeds can jump farther and move faster than normal humans -- a class feature I've called "Spring-Heeled Jack" for now. All Half-Breeds have low-light vision and are the only class to have that ability in TA/TG. All Half-Breeds have also picked up a Sneak Attack/Backstab ability in the last re-write that should be familiar to most.

The flagship of being a Half-Breed, though, are the abilities it has inherited from its "other" parent. You know, the one with the fangs, scales and bad attitude. I've called these "Dark Gifts" for now. And they're pretty bank. I'll list them below:
  • With "Harrier", the Half-Breed gets a boost to Initiative and a better chance to ignore free whacks. As the name suggests, this allows the Half-Breed to zip around the field of combat like a ferret on “V”.
  • With "Supernatural Linguist", the Half-Breed acquires the ability to speak with one random creature based on the Half-Breed's alignment. Maybe the Half-Breed can talk with snakes or rocks or cats or ravens. Or corpses or ghosts or demons. Or Owls. “Who’s on first?” never gets old for them.
  • With "Leech", the Half-Breed gets the one power that everyone is most interested in -- the half-vampire power. The Half-Breed gets a limited capacity to heal herself by drinking blood from a living human and a nerfed sort of immunity to some mortal concerns.
  • With "Dark Shadows", the Half-Breed gets the ability to meld into shadows and move unseen under the cover of the night. Creepy, no?
  • With "Feral", the Half-Breed sprouts claws (retractable or not).
  • With "Elemental", the Half-Breed takes a step towards being impervious to the effects of heat and cold. This ability also allows the Half-Breed to survive underwater for a length of time -- breathing or not as the player decides.

…Comes Even Greater Power

And then there's the upgrades. Each class has the opportunity to select which abilities it wants to upgrade. Multiple upgrades can be used on almost any class feature, up to a maximum of four upgrades on any one feature. It just gets silly after that point and, really, the usefulness of the upgrade flattens out past that point. Here's some indication of how the abilities listed below become more awesome with upgrades…

  • Low-Light Vision -- called "My Dark Eyes" at this time -- upgrades to all sorts of weird. There is, of course, the obligatory darkvision upgrade. But the Half-Breed also can upgrade to see around corners (without looking around them) and other weird things like that.
  • With the second upgrade to "Feral", the Half-Breed acquires the ability to change into an animal form. This is the path to becoming a Half-Werebadger.
  • Other abilities become more generally useful and easier to use successfully with upgrades. Jump farther, move faster, roll higher. All that stuff.

Who's Your Daddy?

And now to the last question that Zdanman had: How do you determine what you're half of? The unsatisfyingly vague answer is "It depends on the player". If a player wants to be a "half-demon", he could grab "Feral" and "Dark Shadows" as his 1st Level Dark Gifts and have a go at it. On the other hand, the player could, instead, roll his Dark Gifts randomly and, say, end up with "Supernatural Linguist" and "Elemental". Let's assume he rolls such that his character can talk to Snakes. So now he's got something that could easily be a Half-Serpentman. Or another Half-Demon. Or a Half-Eelman-From-The-Deep.

It's entirely possible that a player decides he doesn't know what his character's other half is. And he just rolls randomly on the Dark Gifts table for new powers and upgrades each time he spends an upgrade on Dark Gifts. Maybe it's a storyline he wants to explore over time.

Or maybe not. Maybe the player just wants to play a Dhampir. In which case, "Leech", "Harrier" and maybe "Feral" are where he’s headed.

That's why I say a Half-Breed is like a box of chocolates. As a Judge, you never know what you're going to get.

P.S. The Dark Gifts table is in a constant state of flux with new abilities added, removed or amended fairly regularly. Just an FYI. There's no guarantee that any one will make it into the Transylvanian Grimoire unchanged. And there's a good likelihood that new ones will be added over time.

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