HD&D: Familiars

Okay, I lied. In order to present a fully functioning Sorcerer I first need some rules for Familiars. Fortunately, these rules are also equally useful for wizards so I’m killing two birds with one stone.

The fourth edition book, Arcane Power, presented elegant rules for familiars that works very well in the context of 4e. However, for HD&D I’m looking more closely at third edition and Pathfinder for my inspiration. As with much of the 4e material, the rules are solid but they aren’t grounded in the reality of the campaign. Verisimilitude trumps utility.

What is a Familiar?

A familiar, is a creature that is chosen by an arcane spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. The spellcaster does this by selecting the Summon Familiar talent (you’ll see that talent in full when I publish the Sorcerer, but largely all it says is: you can have a familiar).

A familiar grants special abilities and benefits to its master. These vary depending on the selection of the familiar’s feats and talents. Normally, feats and talents that affect or augment familiars are selected by the familiar, and not the master. However, there are some additional talents and feats that improve familiars that are only available to the master. I’ll cover some of those in the post for the Sorcerer.

The most common types of familiars are 1st level creatures of the Animal or Vermin type. For the purposes of the upcoming playtest, these are the only familiars that will be available. This post specifically looks at the most common of these familiars: Bat, Cat, Hawk, Lizard, Monkey, Owl, Rat, Raven, Spider, Toad, Viper and Weasel.

The animal retains the Ability Scores as printed in the Monster Manual with the exception that its intelligence score is never less than 6. Skills and racial traits are unchanged. You may reassign its skill points, and also choose different feats and talents for the familiar if you wish. This allows you to select from the list of special talents and feats that are only available to familiars.

The familiar gains levels as you gain levels. It’s defences and hit points increase accordingly; it gains bonuses to ability scores and access to new feats, talents and skill points as it levels. The familiar is, to all intents and purposes, an additional player character. The difference is that most of a familiar’s feats and talents work to the benefit of the wizard, and not the familiar.

The familiar’s class skills are the same as the master’s class skills. The familiar cannot be trained in skills that are physically impossible for it to perform. Neither can be trained in skills that are not either on its list of racial skills, or are skills that the master is trained in. The familiar knows four languages or scripts that the master also knows. Any more must be purchased with the appropriate skills, but the familiar cannot know languages that the master does not.

Familiars do not have character classes. They cannot select class talents or feats. They are limited in their choice to either racial talents and feats, general talents and feats and the talents and feats that are specifically designed for familiars.

And if that all sounds a bit confusing, I explain it a little better below.

Note on more ‘Powerful’ Familiars: Other creatures such as homunculi, stirges, imps, mephits, quasits and pseudodragons can also be used as familiars; as can more powerful creatures such as wolves. However, because these creatures are higher than 1st level, they wouldn’t be readily available to 1st level characters. Of course, the GM could dial back a creature to 1st level. For example, a quasit is a third level creature but it could be generated as if it was first level (with less powers and less hit points). There’s more about this when we get onto Monsters.

In HD&D it is assumed that, at any given level, all races are equal. A 7th level wolf is considered the equal of a 7th level dragon. It’s just that a 7th level wolf would be an incredibly powerful example of its race, whereas a 7th level dragon is barely out of the egg. Therefore there’s no need for anything like an Improved Familiar talent. A wizard with a 10th level toad familiar, and a wizard with a 10th level homunculus should be on a par.

The same principles apply to the animal companions that druids and rangers hang about with. A 15th level druid with a 15th level badger companion, would find that badger every bit as useful as a 15th level dire bear companion. Even if the badger was getting on a bit, and had taken to dressing like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo.

On Monsters

I feel I need to pause here and offer some explanation of how monsters are constructed in HD&D. You are after all layering a familiar’s abilities on top of a set of monster stats, so knowing the background can only be helpful.

In the Hybrid game (as in third edition), monsters and characters are built in exactly the same way. A 1st level monster has its racial and starting bonuses to its defences, two racial traits, three talents, one feat, 12 class skills and 36 skill points just like player characters.

The talents and feats that monsters have access to will either be generic ones (like Improved Initiative) or they will be specific to the monster’s race. Thinking monsters such as trolls, giants, thri-kreen and so on can also have character classes in the same way as traditional character races. And also as with the traditional character races, they need to make a choice when balancing their class abilities and their racial abilities. For example, a generic Pit Fiend is a 20th level creature. It has 14 talents and 12 feats. Most of those will be racial talents and feats, although there’s always the option to dabble in the powers of a certain class.

A creature’s ability scores may not necessarily be obtainable using the point buy system of ability score creation. Basically HD&D offers two different systems of ability score creation: the tradition die roll (giving a result between 1-18) and the point buy system.

Player characters are generated using the point buy system. This balances ability scores between player characters: and that’s important. On the whole, NPCs (and monsters) have more variety in their stats. A player character of a monster race – such as a minotaur – still uses the point buy system. We’ll get into this later, but it’s all perfectly fair and above board (trust me on this).

What this does is illustrate the fact that NPCs (and by extension monsters) aren’t built in exactly the same way as PCs. They still adhere to the same rules, there is still parity between them. An HD&D NPC still looks and functions like an HD&D PC. There is none of the wild disparity we see in fourth edition. However, the NPC is sometimes little more than a shorthand PC.

Not all monsters necessarily have the requisite number of skill points, feats and talents. This isn’t because they don’t have them, or because they couldn’t have them – just that there’s little game-related point in assigning them. Let’s look at the common or garden bat: it has the Fly, Stealth, Perception and Unarmed Strike skills. What other skills does it need?

There’s no premium in slavishly adding many different abilities for the hell of it. Most monsters appear and die over the course of a few rounds. They may not need all the talents and feats a PC does. Some do of course, by many don’t. If it becomes important for creatures to have the full complement of abilities then they have them.

Monsters never have more talents and feats than a PC of the same level, though. That would be cheating! If I look at a monsters’ abilities and it seems that they need more talents and feats, then the right thing to do is increase their level.

There’s more to say on monsters, but I’ll leave it there as I should be talking about Familiars. What you need to remember is that the example familiars listed below are all 1st level creatures. As such they have the right to all the skills, talents and feats of any 1st level character. However, all these skills, talents and feats may not be assigned in the monster block.

As familiars, all those skills, talents and feats are definitely available. Familiars always have their full complement as they are effectively pseudo-PCs.

Example Familiars

Below are the HD&D stats for the twelve base creatures currently available as famiilars. This is the first time you’ve seen finished HD&D monster stats, so I hope you’re all suitably excited. But first, the traditional explanation:

Size: A creature’s size affects its Reflex Defence and its Mêlée and thrown attack rolls. These modifiers are included in the stat description, but see the recent post on Size and Combat for more details.

Ability Scores: The monster array is generated on a scale of 1-18 to allow for the possibility of many low ability scores. Any creature with an unusually high ability score (higher than 18 for a 1st level creature) will still need to pay for that advantage with a racial talent. Remember that if the listed intelligence is less than 6, then raise it to 6 when the creature becomes a familiar.

Hit Points: As with characters this is the creature’s Con score + 4 hit points per level (or less if they are smaller than Small size). Animals don’t get any bonus hit points from their racial talents.

Movement: The number of feet the creature can move in one Move action. Also lists additional modes of locomotion, such as flight.

Defences: Each defence starts with a Base Score of 10. One stat enjoys a +3 racial bonus. Then the creature has 6 discretionary points to apply to all three defences. You can have no more than +5 in any one defence before factoring in the creature’s ability score modifiers and size modifiers. This works just like player characters.

Racial Traits: At least two minor abilities that best sum up the race. These mirror the two racial traits that player character races have.

Talents: As with PCs. A 1st level creature should have three talents, although not all slots will necessarily be filled. As a familiar, you can delete any listed talents and replace them with any of the Familiar talents that the creature qualifies for.

Feats: This works in the same way as talents. A 1st level creature should only have one feat, but racial traits (or even talents) can be used to grant additional feats to some creatures. And yes, you can replace your familiar’s feat with anything else you choose – as long as the familiar qualifies for it.

Racial Skill Modifiers: All creatures get a +2 racial bonus to two skills: just like PCs.

Skills: The skills listed in the description are skills that are quintessential to the familiar. These are always Class Skills for the familiar. In addition, all of the master’s class skills are also the familiar’s class skills (as long as the familiar is physically capable of using that skill). A master doesn’t confer his class skill in Heavy Blades to his toad familiar, for example. The familiar starts with 36 skills points and gains an additional 12 skill points at each even numbered level – just like a player character.


Bat (Dimunitive Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 15, Con 4, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 5

Movement: 5 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Good)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 19, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +9, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Hidden by Darkness
Talents: Blindsight, Flight, Snatch
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Perception, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +5, Fly +10, Perception +9, Stealth +7 (+12), Unarmed (bite) +9: 1d2-5 damage


Cat (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 30 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 17, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +7, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Ambush Predator, Sure-footed
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Athletics, +2 Perception
Skills: Acrobatics +5 (+10), Athletics +7 (+12), Climb +10, Perception +8, Stealth +5 (+13), Unarmed (claws) +7: 1d2-4 damage


Hawk (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 6, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 60 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 20, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +10, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light vision
Talents: Dive, Flight, Superior Vision
Feats: Skill Focus (Fly)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Acrobatics, +2 Fly
Skills: Acrobatics +8, Fly +9, Perception +13, Unarmed (talons) +6: 1d4-2 damage


Lizard (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 20 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 16, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +6, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Lizardine Regeneration, Sure-Footed
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Stealth, +2 Unarmed Strike
Skills: Athletics +5 (+10), Acrobatics +5 (+10), Climb +10, Perception +6, Stealth +7, Unarmed (bite) +9: 1d4-4 damage


Monkey (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 5

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 30 ft. or Climb 30 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 19, Will 13
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +9, Will +3

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Sure-Footed, Taunt
Feat: Skill Focus (Acrobatics)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Escape Artist, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +6 (+11), Athletics +5, Climb +10, Escape Artist +7, Stealth +7, Perception +4, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-4 damage.


Owl (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 4, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 12, Reflex 20, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +2, Reflex +10, Will +4

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision
Talents: Dive, Flight, Gliding Kill
Feats: Skill Focus (Perception)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Fly, +2 Perception
Skills: Fly +8, Perception +8, Stealth +6 (+16), Unarmed (talons) +7: 1d4-3 damage.


Rat  (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 2, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 15 ft. or Climb 15 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 18, Will 11
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +8, Will +1

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Swim Speed, Natural Sneak
Feats: Skill Focus (Stealth)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Climb, +2 Swim
Skills: Acrobatics +5, Athletics +5, Climb +7, Perception +4, Stealth +12, Swim +7, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d4-3 damage


Raven (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 10 ft. or Fly 40 ft. (Average)

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 15
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +5

Racial Traits: Low-light Vision
Talents: Flight
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Fly, +2 Insight
Skills: Fly +7, Insight +7, Perception +7, Unarmed (claws) +7: 1d2-5 damage


Spider (Tiny Vermin)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 2

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 10 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 19, Will 10
Saving Throws: Fortitude +5, Reflex +9, Will +0

Racial Traits: Tremorsense, Webspinner or Jumping Spider
Talents: Ambush Predator, Climb Speed, Poison
Feats: Bonus Trait (Dextrous Athlete)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Athletics, +2 Perception
Skills: Athletics +1 (+8 Climbing, +16 Jumping Spider), Perception +5, Stealth +14, Unarmed (bite) +8: 1d3-4 damage, plus poison (DC 13).


Toad (Diminuitive Animal)
Level One

Str 1, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 14, Cha 4

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 5 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 15
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +5

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Swim Speed, Amphibious
Feats: Alertness

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Stealth, +2 Swim
Skills: Perception +6, Stealth +6, Swim +6, Unarmed +7


Viper (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 4, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2

Hit Points: 13

Movement: 15 ft. or Climb 15 ft. or Swim 15 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 13, Reflex 18, Will 14
Saving Throws: Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +4

Racial Traits: Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Poison, Swim Speed and/or Scent
Feats: Improved Initiative

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Climb, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +6, Climb +8, Stealth +8, Perception +4, Swim +6, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-3 plus poison (DC 13)


Weasel (Tiny Animal)
Level One

Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 5

Hit Points: 12

Movement: 20 ft. or Climb 20 ft.

Defences: Fortitude 15, Reflex 17, Will 12
Saving Throw: Fortitude +5, Reflex +7, Will +2

Racial Traits: Low-Light Vision, Dextrous Athlete
Talents: Climb Speed, Scent, Sure-Footed
Feats: Skill Focus (Escape Artist)

Racial Skill Bonuses (factored in): +2 Escape Artis, +2 Stealth
Skills: Acrobatics +5 (+10), Athletics +5, Climb +10, Escape Artist +8, Stealth +7, Perception +4, Unarmed (bite) +7: 1d3-4 damage.


The above twelve animals are the base creatures from which you create your familiar. I spoke of special Familiar feats and talents that can be taken instead of the talents and feats listed above. Here is a selection of them. Many of them should be familiar to third edition players.

Familiar Talents


Confer Alertness (Familiar Talent)
As long as your familiar is at hand, it’s extremely difficult to surprise you.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Close Burst 5 ft. radius
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: As long as the familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the benefit of the Alertness feat. This grants a +2 inherent bonus to Perception checks, and prevents you from granting combat advantage to your enemies during surprise rounds. The effects of this talent do not stack with the Alertness feat.


Confer Competence (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its innate skill to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Bat, Cat, Hawk, Lizard, Monkey, Owl, Raven, Spider, Viper or Wolf familiar.
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing competence in a skill in which the familiar excels. The master effectively gains the feat Skill Focus in the indicated skill. This bonus does not stack with the Skill Focus feat. For example, the master of a cat familiar couldn’t take Skill Focus (Stealth) to gain double the bonus to his Stealth checks. The bonus conferred by various familiars are follows:

  • Bat: Fly skill
  • Cat: Stealth skill
  • Hawk: Perception skill
  • Lizard: Climb skill
  • Monkey: Acrobatics skill
  • Owl: Insight skill
  • Raven: Profession (Assessor) skill
  • Spider: Intimidate skill
  • Viper: Bluff skill

Confer Resilience (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its skill in avoiding harm to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Rat or Weasel familiar
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing resilience to one of his defences. The master effectively gains a defence bolstering feat: Iron Will, Great Fortitude or Lightning Reflexes) in the indicated defence. This bonus does not stack with the other feats. For example, the master of a rat familiar couldn’t take Great Fortitude to gain double the bonus to his Fortitude defence. The bonus conferred by various familiars are follows:

  • Rat: Fortitude Defence (Great Fortitude)
  • Weasel: Reflex Defence (Lightning Reflexes)

Confer Toughness (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is able to impart some of its ability to shrug off damage to its master.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite:
Toad familiar.
Duration: Permanent
Target: Familiar’s Master

Effect: After bonding with his familiar, the master enjoys an increasing number of hit points. The master effectively gains the Toughness feat. This bonus doesn’t stack with the Toughness feat itself: so the master couldn’t take the Toughness feat to gain twice as many hit points.


Deliver Touch Spells (Familiar Talent)
The master can direct his spells through his familiar instead of risking himself.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Duration:
Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: The familiar

Effect: If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a spell with a range of “Mêlée (touch)”, he can designate the familiar to carry that spell for him. The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would, except the spell would be discharged by a physical attack using the familiar’s Unarmed Strke skill. The familiar can only hold one such spell at any one time. The spell disappears if not used within 1 round per level of the caster.


Empathic Link (Familiar Talent)
The master can understand the fears and emtions of his familiar.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Close Burst  1 mile
Target: The familiar

Effect: The master has an empathic link with his familiar to a one mile distance. The master can communicate empathically with the familiar, but cannot see through its eyes. It understands the familiar’s general emtions, but no other information is conveyed. The master has the same connection to an item or place that the familiar does.


One Step Ahead (Familiar Talent)
The familiar is better able to extricate itself from harm’s way than its master.
At-Will | Mundane
No Action
Trigger: The familiar is targeted by a close or far attack against its Reflex defence that causes half damage on a miss.
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar only takes half damage if the attack hits, and no damage at all if the attack misses. Otherwise, this ability functions in exactly the same manner as the Improved Evasion talent.


Scry via Familiar (Familiar Talent)
The most potent masters can take control of their familiar’s senses, and see what their familiar sees.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Empathic Link, Speak with Master, Telepathic Link, 13th level
Duration: 1 minute/level
Area of Effect: The familiar

Effect: Once per day, the master can seize control of his familiar’s senses. For the duration of this talent, he sees what his familiar sees, hears what his familiar hears and generally experiences the world through his familiar’s senses. Distance is not a factor in using this ability. The master establishes a Telepathic  and Empathic Link with the familiar for the duration of this power, even if it is outside the usual range of those talents.

While scrying via his familiar, the master grants Combat Advantage to his enemies. He experiences his familiar’s senses layered on top of his own. This can be quite distracting so most masters will want to close their eyes and retire to a quiet and private spot. The perception checks for a master with his eyes open are increased by +10 (as per ‘overwhelming background interference’).


Share Spells (Familiar Talent)
The master can share his most intimate magicks with his familiar.
At-Will | Magical
No Action
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: The familiar

Effect: The master may cast any spell with an Area of Effect of “Personal” on his familiar  instead of himself. This spell will function normally on the familiar, even if it does not normally affect creatures of the Familiar’s type.


Speak with Master (Familiar Talent)
The familiar can communicate with its master as if using a common language.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action

Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar can speak in a bizarre collection of chirps, whistles and growls that only its master can understand. A conversation between a master and his familiar is completely incomprehensible to outsiders. A full understanding of what the familiar is trying to say requires the empathic bond that master and familiar share. Therefore the common ‘language’ is impenetrable, even to spells such as Tongues and Comprehend Languages.


Speak with Creatures of its Kind (Familair Talent)
The familiar is positively loquacious around other creatures of its kind.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: The familiar can communicate with animals that are approximately of the same kind as itself – including dire varieities. So a cat could talk with felines; hawks, owls and ravens with other birds and so. The conversation between the two may be limited by the intelligence of the other creature


Supreme Sacrifice (Familiar Talent)
The familiar can throw itself in the way of an attack that was meant for its master.
At-Will | Mundane
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger: The master is hit by a Mêlée or Ranged attack that deals hit point damage
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close burst 5 ft. radius

Effect: When the master is successfully hit with a mêlée or ranged attack, the familiar can instantly interpose himself between his master and the attacker. The damage is instead dealt to the familiar and the master escapes unharmed.

This talent grants the familiar no special ability to shrug off damage. If the attack kills the familiar, then the familiar is dead and can must be restored through conventional means. The player must opt to make use of this talent before the damage from the attack is rolled.


Telepathic Link (Familiar Talent)
The master and familiar can communicate telepathically.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
Free Action
Prerequisite:
Empathic Link talent, Speak with Master talent
Area of Effect: Line of Sight

Effect: As long as you can see your familiar, you can communicate with him telepathically.


Familiar Feats


Combat Familiar (Familiar Feat)
Your familiar is skilled in delivering attack spells against your foes. It fl its past their defenses to discharge its spell without leaving itself vulnerable to attack.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Deliver Touch Spells talent, must have touch spell cast upon it
Duration: As Deliver Touch Spells
Area of Effect: Mêlée (touch)
Target: Familiar

Effect: If your familiar holds the charge for a touch spell, it does not grant Combat Advantage to its enemies. Additionally, when it takes the Withdraw action it may move its Speed in feet without provoking attacks of opportunity.


Extended Telepathy (Familiar Feat)
The mental bond between master and familiar is stengthened, allowing telepathic communication over much greater distances.
At-Will | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Empathic Link talent, Telepathic Link talent
Area of Effect: Close Burst 1 mile

Effect: The range of the Telepathic Link between familiar and master increases from Line of Sight to 1 mile.


Inverted Bond (Familiar Feat)
The master is able to sacrtifice himself for the good of his familiar.
At-Will | Supernatural
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
The familiar is hit by a Mêlée or Ranged attack that deals hit point damage
Prerequisite: Supreme Sacrifice talent
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close burst 5 ft. radius

Effect: When the familiar is successfully hit with a mêlée or ranged attack, the master can instantly interpose himself between his familiar and the attacker. The damage is instead dealt to the master and the familiar escapes unharmed.

This talent grants the master no special ability to shrug off damage. If the attack kills the master, then the master is dead and can must be restored through conventional means. The player must opt to make use of this feat before the damage from the attack is rolled.


Lurking Familiar (Familiar Feat)
Your familiar hides within the folds of your robe or takes cover behind you as your opponents close in. When it moves to attack, its sudden appearance might catch your foe by surprise.
At-Will | Mundane
Move Action
Prerequisite: Deliver Touch Spells talent, Combat Familiar feat
Duration: If appropriate
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: A familiar at least two size categories smaller than its master can hide itself on its master’s person. This gives the familiar total cover (they cannot be attacked). If an attack kills the master, when the familiar is hiding in this matter, then any excess damage is inflicted on the familiar. Thi s is likely to be the least of the familiar’s worries.

If a familiar with this feat fights side by side with its master, then it gains Cover: a +4 bonus to its Reflex defence against all attacks.


Which is about it. Have a mull over these Familiar rules, and see how they work in conjunction with the Sorcerer when details of the class are posted everso everso soon.

HD&D: The Sun Sphere

A little while ago, I opened a design call on talents for clerics. Steve has come up trumps and provided details of five talents and five feats for the Sun Sphere. Well done Steve! Not one to rest on his laurels, Steve is already looking at the Luck Sphere. However, it is far from too late for anyone else to get involved. Follow the link to the previous post, pick a sphere and get cracking!

I’ll add my thoughts in the Comments section below the main post. In the meantime, I will hand over the floor to Steve:

Sun Sphere Talents

Blinding Aura (Cleric Talent)
When an opponent attempts to strike you their senses become dazzled.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
A creature is about to strike you
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere

Effect: Any opponent that attempts to strike you feels an intense burning light penetrating into their eyes, although anyone else who was observing would see no effect. Please note that this effect also applies to outsiders and undead even though they would not normally use their eyes (if they have any) to locate enemies. This talent grants an immediate interrupt of Wisdom versus Fortitude. If this succeeds the target is blinded and the penalties to hit for being unable to see your opponent apply to all attacks that they make before the start of their next turn. Undead creatures, outsiders and creatures associated with darkness or the plane of shadows are blinded until the end of their next turn. You can only make one blinding attempt against each opponent.

The Eternal Light (Cleric Talent)
You can emit sunlight from your body and cause touched objects to do the same.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action or Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Continuous Effect or 1 Day/level
Area of Effect: Personal/Creature in 20ft/1 object

Effect: This talent has two separate effects:

1) At will you can choose to emit sunlight from your body out to a range of 20ft. This effect cannot be dispelled or repressed by mortal magic and any areas of magical darkness will be repressed where it overlaps with the light. The light deals 0 points of radiant damage per round so although it will not harm most foes it will be effective against creatures which are radiant vulnerable. The light does count as natural sunlight for the purposes of creatures special weaknesses so it would be particularly effective against Drow and Vampires for example.

2) The cleric can imbue touched objects so that they emit magical light. This functions in exactly the same manner as the light spell except that the objects continue to emit light for a duration of 1 Day per level. The cleric can have many objects lit at a time subject to 1/level and the cleric can choose to end the effect on any object at any time. They can be carried an unlimited distance from the Cleric and will still function even after the Clerics death.

Searing Gaze (Cleric Talent)
You can project beams of sunlight from your eyes.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequisite:
Major Access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Target: One creature or Flammable Object

Effect: This talent grants a ranged attack from the eyes of the cleric, which can be used at will. The ranged attack can target a single flammable object or individual and is carried out using Wisdom against Reflex. Against an individual the attacks deals 2d4 + the Clerics Level in Radiant damage which ignores Armour Class. Against an object the light is mitigated by the objects hardness but this can be overcome by maintaining the beam for consecutive rounds. For each consecutive round that the beam is maintained against an object its hardness is treated as two points less. Whenever the beam exceeds the objects hardness and inflicts damage, the object catches light which causes an additional d4 damage to it each round (ignoring its hardness) until it is extinguished. Flammable objects include cloth, rope and wood.

Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Talent)
With a glance to the sky, one of your spells hurtles down from the sun itself catching your opponent unaware.
Recharge (special) | Supernatural, Radiant or Fire
Standard Action

Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of effect: As per component Spell

Effect: This talent can be applied to any spell in your repertoire with the Radiant or Fire key words once per day. You must be able to see the sky (whether the sun is visible or not) and must be able to see your target. The component spell originates in the sky above your target, instead of from you which effectively increase the range of the spell to the limit of your sight. The target does not have to be out in the open. For example, you and the target could be inside a castle but if you can see the sky through an open window and see your target then the talent can be applied. A spell that is used through this talent does not require any components, including your focus. You gain a bonus of +4 to any attack rolls to confirm a hit as the attack is somewhat unexpected. As the spell is fuelled by the energy of the sun, all damage dice are maximised.

Sunblock (Cleric Talent)
Your skin, respiratory system and other bodily functions adapt to protect you from the harmful effects of the sun.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: You become immune to all harmful effects of sun exposure including sunstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion and sun blindness. In addition, regardless of your environment you only require water enough to sustain you as if you were shaded and in a mild climate. Finally you gain resistance 10 to radiant damage. Please note that you are able to let enough light through your sunblock that you gain the customary bronze skin and bleached hair of a sun priest.

Sun Sphere Feats

Additional Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Feat)
You are able to use your Solarflare/Solarfire talent more often.
At-Will | Supernatural Radiant or Fire
Standard Action

Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: You may now use the Solarflare/Solarfire talent three times per day.

Banishing Light (Cleric Talent)
Your stunning light is so powerful that it may force unnatural enemies from this world.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
An undead creature, outider or creature of darkness succombs to stunning light.
Prerequisites: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Blinding Light talent, Stunning Light feat, 11th level

Effect: If an undead creature, outsider or creature of darkness / the shadow plane succumbs to your stunning light then you may make a third roll against them using Wisdom versus Will. If you succeed against an outsider or a creature from the shadow plane then they are banished back to their home plane and may not return for at least one day. A creature generally associated with darkness but not actually from the shadow plane is also sent to the shadow plane for a day, although they automatically return once this time has elapsed. An undead creatures link with the negative energy plane are disrupted causing all of their supernatural abilities to cease functioning for 1 round per 2 levels. Any energy drain abilities do not function for 1 round per level.

Disintegrating Gaze (Cleric Feat)
Your searing gaze can completely destroy non magical objects.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerquisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Searing Gaze talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: If you searing gaze damages a flammable non-magical object i.e. it exceeds its hardness; immediately roll 4d4 and add your level. If this total exceeds the objects remaining hit points the power of the sun completely disintegrates it without it bursting into flames. For example, this could be used against a blindfold or rope binding you and if successful would completely obliterate it without it catching light and causing any damage to you for being in contact with a flaming object.

Empowered Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Fear)
Your Solarflare/Solarfire talent now deals additional damage.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural Radiant or Fire
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: Your Solarflare/Solarfire talent now counts as empowered so deals one and a half times as much damage as it ordinarily wood.

Improved Sunblock (Cleric Feat)
The potency of your sunblock talent increases.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Sunblock talent, 4th level

Effect: Your resistance to radiant damage increases to 5 points per level.

Shattering/Vaporising Gaze (Cleric Feat)
Your searing gaze can also shatter glass and vaporise liquids.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequiste:
Major access to the Sun Sphere, Searing Gaze talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: You can target your searing gaze against glass objects. They will crack when they first take a point of damage and will shatter completely when they lose all of their hit points. Alternatively you can focus your gaze on liquids, including those in glass containers. You can vaporise a small amount of liquid such as a vial of holy water or a potion in a single round, or can ignite flammable liquids such as oil or alchemists fire. You can heat larger volumes of water over consecutive rounds causing them to heat, simmer and eventually boil.

Stunning Light (Cleric Feat)
Creatures affected by your blinding light talent may also be stunned by its potency.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
A target succombs to your Blinding Light talent.
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Blinding Light talent, 6th level

Effect: If a creature succumbs to your blinding light you may make a second attack roll against them using Wisdom versus Will. If it succeeds then they are stunned until the beginning of their next turn. The blinding effect is postponed by 1 round and now commences at the beginning of their next turn lasting for 1 round, or two rounds if they are undead, outsiders or creatures associated with darkness or the plane of shadow.

Subtle Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Feat)
You can use your Solarflare/Solarfire talent with more subtlety.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant or Fire
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent

Effect: You may now use the Solarflare/Solarfire talent when viewing your target through a portal, when scrying or while using any other divination device. In addition, you are now able to use mirrors, water and reflective surfaces to satisfy the conditions of being able to see the sky and your target.

Sunshade (Cleric Feat)
You are able to give the benefit of your Sunblock talent to your close allies.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural, Radiant
Move Action
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere, Sunblock talent, Improved Sunblock feat
Duration: 30 minutes/level to a maximum of 8 hours

Effect: Once per day as a move action you can project your sunblock talent so that it effects any allies within 10 ft. in a limited capacity. They gain all of the benefits of the talent, except that their resistance to radiant damage is half of yours.

Tokens of the sun god (Cleric Feat)
The objects which you are able to imbue with light giving properties also gain some of the effects of the light your body emits.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, The Eternal Light talent
Duration: 1 Hour / level

Effect: For a limited time the objects which emit light as per the second use of the Eternal Light talent gain some additional effects. They cannot be dispelled or repressed by mortal magic and any areas of magical darkness will be repressed where it overlaps with the light. The light deals 0 points of radiant damage per round to any creature within 5 feet, so although it will not harm most foes it will be effective against creatures which are radiant vulnerable. The light does not count as natural sunlight.

Design Call: Cleric Talents & Feats

Firstly, I’ve updated the Upcoming page with news of where I currently stand with HD&D, as well as the updates you can expect to see on the blog over the next couple of months. I’ve also set a date to begin playtesting of September 2010.

With that in mind, let’s talk about talents for the HD&D Cleric class. I don’t have any. I need some. That’s where you come in.

All about Spheres

Cleric talents are largely dependent upon the Spheres a cleric has access to. If you recall, I have a list of 46 Spheres of Influence (or Domains in 3rd ed-speak). Worship of a particular god gives the cleric access to the Spheres contained in that god’s portfolio. The more powerful the god, the more spheres the cleric has access to.

Each sphere is associated with a number of spells, and a number of talents and feats. If a cleric has access to a Sphere then he also as access to all the spells, talents and feats associated with that sphere. These are the spells that he can eventually learn, and the talents/feats he can acquire as he gains levels.

To slightly complicate matters, gods can grant minor or major access to a sphere:

Major Access: Spells of level 0-9, full access to all feats and talents.
Minor Access: Spells of level 0-4, no access to the sphere’s special feats and talents.

For game purposes each Sphere should grant access to at least five talents, and several feats (two per talent is a good guide). It’s these talents and feats that I want to look at in this design call.

Narrowing the Task

As I’m only interested (at this stage) of coming up with sufficient talents to cover the first playtest adventure I’m specifically asking for less, rather than more. Below, I present three gods from the third edition Player’s Handbook. These are not commonly worshipped on Iourn, but they will be the gods of the choice for the upcoming playtest adventure. You will notice that each of the gods grants major and minor access to particular spheres:

OlidammaraThe Laughing Rogue
Olidammara delights in wine, women, and song. He is a vagabond, a prankster, and a master of disguise. His temples are few, but many people are willing to raise a glass in his honour.

Major Spheres: All, Charm, Luck, Trickery
Minor Spheres: Healing, Shadow

PelorThe Shining One
Pelor is the creator of many good things, a supporter of those in need, and an adversary of all that is evil. He is the most commonly worshiped deity among ordinary humans, and his priests are well received wherever they go.

Major Spheres: All, Healing, Hope, Strength, Sun
Minor Spheres: Freedom, Justice

Wee JasWitch Goddess
Wee Jas is the goddess of death and magic. She is a demanding goddess who expects obedience from her followers. Her temples are few and far between, but she counts many powerful sorcerers and wizards (especially necromancers) among her worshipers.

Major Spheres: All, Elemental Death, Magic, Order
Minor Spheres: Healing, Undeath

Ingnore the minor spheres, they’re only for spell access and I’m already dealing with that. In terms of feats and talents, I need material for the following spheres:

  • Charm
  • Elemental Death
  • Healing
  • Hope
  • Luck
  • Magic
  • Order
  • Strength
  • Sun
  • Trickery

So that’s ten spheres. Each sphere should have about five talents in it, and each talent should be supported by two feats. So that’s 50 talents and 100 feats to come with between us. Dead easy!

Guide to Inventing Talents

The old post on Talents, Traits and Feats defines the difference between talents and feats, and offers some guidance on what they should look like. Remember that a Talent is the HD&D term for a class ability in third edition. They should be unique powers. Feats are not unique powers. They improve something the character can already do. In this context, a feat might improve a talent, or allow a character to use it in a different way.

Talents can be at-will abilities, continuously active or they can use the Recharge mechanic just like spells. But try to avoid making them too much like spells – clerics have a spell list, after all.

The benefit conferred by a talent may be static, or it may be possible to improve it. You decide if the effects of talent improve automatically as the cleric gains levels, if the cleric needs to choose a second related talent to unlock advanced abilities, or whether the talent can be improved by selecting feats. Sometimes all three might apply.

Try to avoid talents that confer Immunity to a particular type of attack. I’d rather see “Necrotic Resistance 10” at first level, increasing as a cleric gains levels, than I would “Necrotic Immunity”.

Please steer away from talents that Turn Undead. I’m approaching turn undead sligthly differently in HD&D, and making it a talent that is more universally available to clerics. This is in keeping with the way clerics have always functioned in the official rules, and I believe I have a rationale to make this work. Talents that let clerics blast undead, dominate undead or do anything else to undead is fine. Just leave Turning out of the equation.

If you are wondering now much damage an offensive talent should do, then use the following table as a guide. This is the baseline; there can be some variation from these figures. Attacks that affect numerous targets tend to inflict less damage, than those that target one individual:

Level

Average Damage

1

6

2

7

3

8

4

9

5

11

6

12

7

13

8

14

9

16

10

17

11

20

12

21

13

22

14

23

15

25

16

26

17

27

18

28

19

30

20

31

21

33

22

34

23

36

24

37

25

38

26

39

27

41

28

42

29

43

30

44

Finally, remember to pillage exisiting books for ideas. The domain powers from third edition, the sphere powers from second edition – and even 4e’s domain feats all offer inspiration. If you have access to Faiths & Avatars, Powers & Pantheons or Demihuman Deities then you’ll find yourself swimming in options. It’s easier to convert something that already exists than it is to invent it from whole cloth.

The Hope Sphere

The best advice I can offer is by way of example. Here are five talents and the related feats granted by the Hope Sphere.  This is one of Pelor’s spheres from the list above, so we’re already down to nine. See how easy this will be?

Talents

Bulwark Against Fear  – Cleric Talent
You are an inspiration to those around you. As long as you remain strong, then your allies will not falter.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
You are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close Burst 20 ft. radius
Target: All allies within area of effect

Effect: Add your Charisma bonus (minimum +1) as a Morale bonus to your Will defence against Fear effects. Additionally, whenever you are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect (i.e. a Fear effect that targets an area, as opposed to just you), the following rules apply:

Before you roll your saving throw (or before the result of the attack roll is known) you can call upon your allies to put their faith in you. Any companions, characters or non-player characters within twenty feet have the option to trust in you to defend them from fear.

Once your allies have decided, the GM reveals the result of the attack roll (or you make your saving throw). If a Fear attack misses you, then it automatically misses all your declared allies. But if Fear strikes you then all your declared allies are also affected.

Consecrated Strike – Cleric Talent
You can focus the holy power of your god to sanctify your mêlée attacks. You deal additional damage to the heinous denizens of infamy.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: Your mêlée attacks are particularly effective against creatures that carry Taint. All demons, devils and the undead are somewhat tainted, but beings of all races have the potential to be so corrupted.

If you attack a Tainted creature (with either your natural attacks, or with a mêlée weapon) you inflict an additional 1d6 damage per attack. This damage increases to 2d6 at level 11, and 3d6 at level 21.

You are considered armed when making attacks with your natural weapons against  a Tainted creature. If your natural attacks normally inflict subdual damage, they inflict lethal damage against Tainted foes.

Simply touching (not attacking) a Tainted creature causes tainted flesh to sizzle and burn inflicting 1d4 damage. Tainted creatures try to avoid shaking hands with clerics with access to the Hope sphere.

One Good Turn – Cleric Talent
You reap the rewards of performing good deeds for others, and can use this positive karma to your own advantage.
Recharge | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere

Effect: When you spend an Action Point to help or aid another character, you gain another Action Point at the beginning of your next turn. The definition of ‘helping another character’ is deliberately broad, and open to interpretation by the GM. Such help might include:

  • Attacking a foe who is assaulting your ally.
  • Casting a protective spell on your ally.
  • Taunting or causing an enemy to disengage from your ally and target you instead.
  • Using a power or ability that somehow mitigates or negates damage to your ally.
  • Utilising an effect that allows your ally to make a saving throw.
  • Performing an act that practically helps your ally – e.g. pushing them in a river if they’re on fire.

After you use this talent, you must take a short rest before you can use it again.

Sanctified Aura – Cleric Talent
You are surrounded by a holy aura of pearly goodness, that keeps out evil creatures and protects you from harm.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
Standard Action
Prerequisite:
Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: 1 round/level.
Area of Effect: Personal
Target: You.

Effect: At will, you can surround yourself in an opalescent aura of divine power. This aura is antithetical to Tainted creatures, who will not approach or physically lay a hand on you if they can avoid it. All demons, devils and the undead are somewhat tainted, but beings of all races have the potential to be so corrupted.

Tainted creatures of a lower level than the caster recoil from the warded creature, and will not make mêlée attacks against you. They can still make ranged, close or far attacks against you. If you make a mêlée attack against a Tainted creature, or you try to force the aura against a tainted creature that cannot physically get away, then the Sanctified Aura automatically ends. It can still be restored with a standard action.

Tainted creatures of equal or greater level, may still recoil from the sanctified aura. However, they may also choose to make mêlée attacks. Every round in phase one of their turn, a tainted attacker may make a Will saving throw to follow throw with its mêlée attacks for the round. They must make this saving throw every round they wish to attack.

A tainted attacker takes 1d6 damage with each mêlée attack it makes against you in a round (regardless of whether the attacks were successful or not). Attacking a tainted creature that attacks you, still causes the Sanctified Aura to end.

Soothing Words – Cleric Talent
The power of your god manifests in your words, allowing you to soothe and pacify the uruly and aggressive with the sound of your voice.
At-Will |Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Concentration + 1 round/level
Area of Effect: Close Burst 20 ft. radius
Target: All creatures in area of effect
Attack: Spellcraft vs. Will

Effect: The sound of your words suppresses bases emotions such as anger, rage and hostility. You may use Soothing Words on creatures that have initiated hostile action against you or your companions, but the power will not work if you or your companions initiated combat, or fought back when attacked.

If your attack roll is successful then the target’s negative hostile emotions are suppressed. Their attitude shifts to Indifferent. Indifferent characters do not care much about you one way or the other; they will deliver any socially expected interaction, but won’t go out of their way to do you any favours .

The effect lasts for as long as you spend a standard each round to continue speaking + a further 1 round per level. You must also remain withing twenty feet of all the targets of this power.

At the end of the duration, the targets’ original emotions and intent reassert themselves.

Feats

Brutal Consecration – Cleric Feat
Your mêlée attacks inflict even more damage against opponents.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Consecrated Strike talent.
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: Add one die to the extra damage inflicted with the Consecrated Strike talent. In addition all mêlée attacks against Tainted creatures gain the Brutal quality.

In the event of a critical hit, attacks with Brutal weapons roll the damage die in addition to maximising the damage result. For example, a 7th level cleric with Str 14, Consecrated Strike and Brutal Consecration attacking with a mace would inflict 1d8+1d6+2 damage. In the event of a critical hit, he would inflict 1d8+16 damage.

The effects of Brutal Consecration and Critical Consecration stack.

Critical Consecration – Cleric Feat
Your mêlée attacks have a greater chance of scoring a critical hit if you direct them at Tainted foes.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite:
Major access to the Hope sphere, Consecrated Strike talent
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: When attacking with the Consecrated Strike talent roll d8s for he extra damage, instead of d6s. In addition, all mêlée attacks against Tainted creatures gain the High Crit quality.

High Crit weapons score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20, instead of just a natural 20. The 19 must otherwise be a hit for it to be a critical hit.

The effects of Critical Consecration and Brutal Consecration stack.

Exalted Mists of Sanctity – Cleric Feat
You can increase the intensity of sanctified aura, to obscure you from harm and attacks.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
Move Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Sanctified Aura talent.
Duration: For the remaining duration of Sanctified Aura talent

Effect: As a move action, you thicken your Sanctified Aura turning it from an opalescent shene into a thick swirling silver mist. All creatures within the Sanctified Aura gain concealment from everyone outside the Sanctified Aura. You may spend a Move action to raise or lower concealment at any point during the duration of the Sanctified Aura talent.

Concealment grants a +2 bonus to Reflex defence against mêlée and ranged attacks, but not against Close or Far attacks.

Persistant Words – Cleric Feat
When you speak, your words can have a profound and lasting effect on your subjects.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Soothing Words talent.

Effect: When you use your Soothing Words talent, there is a chance that your targets’ new emotional state persists after the duration of the talent expires.

Soothing Words lasts for as many rounds as you are willing to commit a standard action to its upkeep, plus one round per level. At the end of this time, all targets must make a Will Saving throw against a DC equal to your Passive Spellcraft. If they fail, then their new attitude toward you persists.

Those who fail the saving throw, may make an additional saving throw once every day until they eventually shake off the effects of this talent.

Reliable Bulwark – Cleric Feat
You are even more adept at inspiring your allies to stand firm in the face of bowel-clenching terror.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Free Action
Trigger:
You are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Bulawark Against Fear talent.

Effect: When you are affected by a Close or Far Fear effect (i.e. a Fear effect that affects an area as opposed to just you), you gain a second chance to resist it. If this effect is a Fear attack, you may force the attacker to reroll the attack. If this effect forces you to make a Fear saving throw, you may reroll the saving throw.

Two Good Turns – Cleric Feat
You are able to benefit from karmic good fortune more often than other clerics.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: 11th level, major access to the Hope sphere, One Good Turn talent.

Effect: You may use your One Good Turn talent twice before taking a short rest. You may not spend more than one Action Point in a round.

Wide Arms of Sanctity – Cleric Feat
You can use the divine power of your god to protect innocents from the unholy touch of the tainted.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Sanctified Aura talent.
Duration: 1 round/level
Area of Effect: Close Burst 10 ft radius
Target: All creatures in area of effect

Effect: When you use your Sanctified Aura talent, you can choose to widen the effect of the aura to emcompass all non-tainted creatures within a ten foot radius of you. Tainted creatures will not now approach within ten feet of you, and cannot make mêlée attacks into the area of effect of this feat.

As with Sanctified Aura, any mêlée attack against a tainted creature or attempt to force a tainted creature up against a barrier prematurely ends the aura. This restriction applies to all those sheltering within the widened aura. If one of your companions makes a mêlée attack against a tainted creature when inside the aura, then the aura ends for everybody.

The ten foot radius of this aura is centred on you, and moves with you when you move. Anyone in the area of effect would also have to move to keep up, if they want to retain the aura’s benefits.

Winning Words – Cleric Feat
The honeyed words of your god are particularly pleasing to the ear.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Soothing Words talent.

Effect: When you successivefully use your Soothing Words talent you are able to shift  the attitude of the targets to Friendly instead of Indifferent. Friendly characters are happy to chat, advise and stand up for your interests. They will help in your endeavours, but draw the line at any activity that risks their lives or wellbeing. All other effects of the Soothing Words talent are unchanged. 

Over to You

Looking at the work that needs to be done to get the playtest ready for September, I could really use some help with this. Clerics represent the single largest amount of work of any of the character classes. Any help that anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Design Call: Website Logos

No new rules today, just an appeal for assistance.

I am starting to put together the third version of the Iourn website, and I am looking for some new logos to jazz it up, and make it look slightly less amateurish. While I could spend hours bashing away at Paint Shop Pro in the hope of turning out something half-decent, I’m sure that any number of you could do a much better job in about an eighth of the time.

So I’m asking for help. A design call to come up with a new doody logo in GIF or JPEG format. Or more specifically, a number of logos – as each of the various sub-sites of Iourn.com will require one.

What we currently have

At present there is one unique logo on www.iourn.com and it is this one:

I made this about five years ago. The font is Morpheus, which can be downloaded for free from here. The image taking the place of the “O” is the holy symbol of the god, Io. A large version of that image can be found on the Wizards website. I’ve always been fairly pleased with how the logo turned out, although I could probably have done with emboldening the font before saving it as an image.

However, I’m not wedded to the idea of using an updated version of this logo if any of you can come up with a better idea. I’d be so thrilled by anyone taking any interest in this at all that probably accept pretty much anything.

What we need

The site is going to need quite a few unique logos to mark the six of the seven website sections. I’ll be keeping an archive of all the third edition house rules and material that’s currently online as the D&D part of the website, but that can just use the standard third edition “Dungeons and Dragons” logo as it does now. Here’s how it all breaks down.

Top Level Gateway

Just as now, heading to www.iourn.com takes you to a top level site from which you can drill down to all the various available subsections and sub-sites. I need a logo for this portion of the site. At the moment, I have a teacosy. This is a holdover from the time the site could be found at http://www.teacosy.demon.co.uk. That site’s no longer live, by the way.

As the site is now called Iourn.com, I would imagine we need to see the word “Iourn” somewhere in the logo. But it needs to be distinct from logo we have for the Iourn section itself. Perhaps it could be called the “Iourn Gateway” or “Iourn Hub”? I have no firm preferences.

Iourn

As discussed above.

HD&D

The HD&D section will probably need a few logos. I’ve had a thought that the logo could be based along the old 1st and 2nd edition logos for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, as so:

The word “Advanced” would be replaced with the word “Hybrid”.  That could look quite good on the website, and in any accompanying HD&D literature that I print for the sessions. And I’m sorry I haven’t found particularly good images of the two examples above, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I would also require a second logo in the same general design of the first that simply says “HD&D”.

Karris’Mohr

Marc’s current 4e campaign setting needs its own logo. Unless of course Marc has created one in secret?

Hurssia

Jack’s AD&D/third edition setting will also require something.

FBI Evidence Response

Various options here for the old CoC game. Something incorporating the official FBI logo would be welcome. As far the text goes it could say “FBI Evidence Response” or “The Grey Case Files” or “COUNTINT-AN-R3 CODENAME BRAILLE”…. or indeed any combination of the three.

The Technical Bit

All the logos are designed to fit into a space on the website that is about 480 pixels long by 110 pixels high. Therefore anything in a length:height ratio of about 4:1 would be suitable for the purpose.

The background colour behind each of the logos will be white, unless you choose to colour it differently.

The HD&D logo (as opposed to the longer “Hybrid Dungeons and Dragons” logo) can be of any dimensions, as long as it is square.

Finally, every update to the site in the What’s New or similar section is going to be demarcated with a small image that relates to each website section. The image is only going to be about 50 × 50 pixels in size. Therefore each of the main logos needs have have a corresponding 50 × 50 image that is thematically similar to the larger logo, and easily identified as something that is derrived from it. If this is too tricky I could simply colour-code the entries, but I wanted to give the image route a try first.

Any Takers?

Obviously, this is a little diffrerent from the various design calls of the past. Any help would be especially welcome, as this is not even remotely my area of expertise. The first of the new sites to go live will be the Karris’Mohr one (probably in July). That will be followed by the HD&D site later in the year, with the others trailing along at some point in 2011. Although I could very quickly convert Hurssia if the opportunity presented itself.

Karris’Mohr is therefore the priority if anyone wants to have a stab.

Anyone?

HD&D: The Dwarf II

A while ago I published my take on the HD&D dwarf. Well, Graham’s been playing a dwarf in my ongoing campaign for the best part of nine years, so he thought he’d take a stab at them as well. This post illustrates something Daniel and I have been discussing in the comment thread of the HD&D Gnome, namely that my take on the HD&D mechanics is far more extreme and 4e-like than Daniel’s. Graham’s ideas here are also much more understated. Have a look, compare the two and see what you think.

The only comment I’ll add at the moment is that Dwarven Resolve needs to give 4 hit points instead of 3. It was 3 on earlier drafts, so Graham may be working from that. It should also only apply to talents and not feat. I’m pleased to see that Graham remembered to include Stonecunning, as I completely forgot about that! I’ll add further comments when I get the chance. Busy, busy at the moment!

The HD&D Dwarf

I present my attempt at the Dwarf. A sturdy race that are slow to laugh or jest and suspicious of strangers, yet generous to those they trust. Dwarves as a race are a varied people ranging from fierce warriors to master craftsmen. They value fine art, jewellery, gems gold and simply a good fight.

Average Height: 4’-4’6”
Average Weight: 160-230lbs

Ability Scores: +2 to Con and +2 to Str or Wis
Size: Medium
Speed: 25 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack: Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d6 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skills: +2 to Craft (Stone and Metal) and +2 to Survival
Defence: +1 to Fortitude

Racial Traits

Stout Body
The dwarven immune system is adept at fighting off poisons of all kinds
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect:  You gain a +2 racial bonus to Fortitude Defence versus poison.

Stout Mind
The dwarven mind  is practiced at resisting magic
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect:  You gain a +2 racial bonus to Will Defence versus spells.

Racial Talents

Appraisal
You are skilled at determining the value of items
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus on checks to determine the value of items.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Homeland Defender
You have trained long and hard to protect the dwarven homelands from their traditional enemies
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 morale bonus to weapon skill rolls against orcs and goblinoids.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Stability
You are exceptionally stable on your feet
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +5 bonus on checks to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing firmly on the ground.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Stonecunning
Years of living around stone have heightened your senses at spotting the unusual
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf
Area of effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework. Merely by coming within 10 feet of unusual stonework allows you to make a check to notice it as if you were actively searching.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Racial Feats

Art Critic
You know how to value fne art
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf: Appraisal talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus on checks to determine the value of fine art, jewellery and gems. This stacks with the bonus from the appraisal talent.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Dodge Giants
A history of enmity with the giantish races has given you the happy knack of avoiding the attacks of larger foes.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf or Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 racial bonus to Reflex Defence against the attacks of Large or larger foes.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Underground Explorer
Years of living around stone have taught you how to navigate through it
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Dwarf: Stonecunning talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You can sense approximately how far underground you are as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. You gain a +2 bonus to survival when navigating underground.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Weapon Familiarity
You know how to use the weapons of your people
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite:
Dwarf
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 racial bonus to weapon skill rolls for dwarven weapons.
Dwarven Resolve: You gain 3 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

HD&D: The Gnome

Not to be outdone, Daniel has now finished his first draft of the HD&D gnome. Sadly, I don’t have chance to add my comments right away today, I’ll post to the comments thread in due course. That said, I will let Daniel speak for himself:

The HD&D Gnome

 Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Gnome.  A creature of great variety and potential.  Full of contradictions, yet unquestionably Gnomish in all that they do.  Gnomes are beings tied to the natural, magical and manufactured worlds all at the same time. 

Gnomes have an instinctive and humble understanding of the natural world, yet they are also highly intellectual and inquisitive, gathering wild theories and obscure knowledge wherever they can find it.  They can become great masters of Wizardry or can use their innate magic as a simple plaything.  Gnomes are great artists and artisans and love to create physical objects of beauty, usefulness and ingenuity.  They are driven by a constant sense of wonder at the world around them – what it is now and what they can make from it.

This is a first draft of course.  I’ve got plenty more ideas for Gnomes but this is clearly enough for now.  Most of the ideas are from third edition, with a smattering of 2nd and 4th and few from my own brain.  Seal the Breach and it’s derivatives form the base of a prestige class ( the Breach Gnome from Races of Faerun) and could be used as such again.  Anyway, let me know what you think.

Forest Gnome (Stonebark)

Average Height: 3’-3’6”
Average Weight: 40-45lbs

Ability Scores: +2 to Con and Int
Size: Small
Speed: 25 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack: Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d4 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skills: +2 to Perception and Stealth
Defence: +1 to Fortitude

Rock Gnome (Five Colour Kingdom)

Average Height: 3’-3’6”
Average Weight: 40-45lbs

Ability Scores: +2 to Con and Int
Size: Small
Speed: 25 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack: Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d4 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skills: +2 to Craft and Alchemy
Defence: +1 to Fortitude

Tinker Gnome (Walhoon)

Average Height: 3’-3’6”
Average Weight: 40-45lbs

Ability Scores: +2 to Con and Int
Size: Small
Speed: 25 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack: Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d4 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skills: +2 to Craft and Disable Device
Defence: +1 to Fortitude

Racial Traits

Natural Trickster
Magic runs through your blood and you can create minor magical effects with consummate ease
Standard Action | Magical
Prerequisite:
Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal or target
Effect:  You can use the spells Prestidigitation, Ghost Sound and Dancing Lights once each per day, as a spernatural ability.

Animal Friend
You have a close affinity with the small animals which share your home
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite:
Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus to Handle Animal checks and can speak the language of small burrowing mammals.

Racial Talents

Master of Illusions
Arcane trickery and obfuscation come naturally to you giving you a deep understanding of the nature of illusions.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Prerequisite: Gnome
Area of effect: Personal or target
Effect:  You gain a +2 bonus to spellcraft rolls when using Illusion spells and a +2 bonus to your Will defence against the Illusions of others.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Obsessive Tinkerer
Your expertise in the crafts is unmatched but you can’t resist tinkering with your creations
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Artistry and artisanship go hand in hand for Gnome craftsmen.  A Gnome’s industrious nature is revealed best when they are given free reign to express themselves in their creations.  When using a Craft skill to build either a mundane or magic item, you may add 10% to the cost of the base materials, as you can’t resist adding extra materials to the item.   These extras are superfluous, decorative or overcomplicated additions that do not increase the practical uses of the item and include such things as gemstones worked into the base material, fine carving in exotic woods or unnecessarily complicated clockworks or hydraulics.  These alterations add 10% to the finished value of the item, and the crafting takes only 75% of the time normally required to build the item.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Protector of the Burrows
You have trained long and hard to protect the Gnomish homelands from their traditional enemies.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite:
Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 morale bonus to weapon skill rolls against Kobolds and Goblinoids.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Spirit of the Woods
You are kin to the woodland fey and one with the boundless forests.
Continuous Effect or Recharge | Mundane + Magical
No Action or Standard Action
Prerequisite: Forest Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Your racial bonus to Stealth increases by a further +2 when in woodland (i.e. from +2 to +4).  You may use the spell Pass Without Trace, on yourself only, once per short rest as a spell-like ability.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Trivial Knowledge
You are deeply inquisitive and have gained a vast knowledge of obscure and miscellaneous lore.
Recharge – long rest | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Once a day, when you make a Knowledge skill or Bardic Knowledge check you may roll twice and choose the highest roll.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Seal The Breach
You are a protector of the Gnomish community and are highly skilled at defending the tunnels that criss-cross Gnome burrows.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Prerequisite: Gnome, level 11
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 dodge bonus to Reflex Defence when you are adjacent to at least one solid vertical surface (a wall, tree, wagon etc).  When adjacent to two such surfaces, the bonus increases to +4.
Gnomish Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Racial Feats

Dodge Giants
A history of enmity with the giantish races has given you the happy knack of avoiding the attacks of larger foes.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Prerequisite: Dwarf or Gnome
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 racial bonus to Reflex Defence against the attacks of Large or larger foes.

Compulsive Recycler
You always have spare parts and raw materials lying around, ready to be put to better use in new and unusual ways.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome; Obsessive Tinkerer talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Whenever you use the Obsessive Tinkerer talent you do not have to pay the extra 10% to your costs as you already have enough spare parts to improve the item you are building.  Its sale value is still increased by 10%.

Foe-Killer
You have decided that attack is the best form of defence and have focussed your combat training on killing as many of your traditional enemies as possible
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome, Protector of the Burrows talent.
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: You gain a +2 morale bonus to damage whenever you hit a Kobold or Goblinoid with a weapon attack.

Insidious Illusions
Your illusions are so convincing that even magical means may not reveal them.
Continuous Effect | Magical
Prerequisite: Gnome, level 11, Master of Illusions talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: When your illusions are targeted or come within the area of effect of a divination that may reveal them to be an illusion, such as Detect Magic, Detect Invisibility or True Seeing, the caster of the divination must succeed at an opposed Spellcraft roll in order to detect anything magical or illusory.

The Immovable Object
When you set yourself to defend your people, you will not be moved from that duty.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome, level 11, Seal the Breach talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Whenever you gain the Reflex Defence bonus from your Seal the Breach talent, you gain a +5 bonus to any attack that might try to move you or knock you over.  This includes bulrush, overrun or trip attempts as well as spells such as Gust of Wind.

None Shall Pass
You become a living barrier, protecting those whom you have vowed to protect.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome, level 11, Seal the Breach talent
Area of Effect: reach
Effect: You gain a +2 morale bonus to hit any creature that attempts to move through your threatened area.  In addition, any tumble attempts to move through your threatened area receive a penalty of +10 to their DCs.

Furious Industry
You love of craftsmanship is all consuming and when you set yourself a task you will not stop until you finish it.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Prerequisite: Gnome; Obsessive Tinkerer talent
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: When you use your Obsessive Tinkerer talent to enhance an item the time it takes to complete the item is reduced to 50% rather than 75% of the normal time.

HD&D: The Half-Elf

The first results of the recent Design Call are in. Steve has laboured to create an HD&D version of the half-elf. All the details are below, reformatted for inclusion in the body of the post (as opposed to being bundled into a PDF). I hope it’s all legible. I’ll have my say at the end, but for now I’ll let Steve take the floor:

The HD&D Half-Elf

The half-elf has been depicted with two opposite outlooks in previous editions – the isolated loner and the charming socialite. In my view neither of these outlooks should be built into the ‘generic’ half-elf as standard. It is true that half-elves do not have lands of their own and as such have to fit into the lands and societies of others, and that any outsider attempting to fit into another society would either try to charm their way through or to keep their head down and survive on their own. However, I think that each half-elf is an individual and that this should not be prescribed for every member of the race.

I was originally planning to have half-elf specific Racial Traits but after I created a couple I felt that it was making the half-elf two powerful. They already have 6 to choose from (2 human and 4 elf). Looking at all of the pre-4th ed published material, half-elves standard racial traits were always a simple mix of human and elf anyway. I quite like each half-elf to pick one human trait and one elven trait. Consequently I moved the traits I had created up to talents. Of their 4th edition traits Dilettante definitely belongs among talents, and dual heritage among the feats. As mentioned I don’t think all half-elves should be natural diplomats so group diplomacy should be more of an optional feat

I quite like the Social Confidence talent as I think in practice the half-elf player could keep a list of everybody they had bested in the past. I would quite enjoy that anyway, but I do like lists and bookkeeping.

Average Height: 5’5″ – 6’2″
Average Weight: 130 – 200lbs

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 to ability of your choice
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack:Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d4 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skill Bonuses: +2 (Diplomacy or Survival); +2 to any other skill of choice
Defence Bonus: +1 to Defence of your choice

Racial Traits

Elven Heritage (Half-Elf Trait)
You exhibit one of the traits of your elven ancestor
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action

Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Choose one Elf Racial Trait

Human Heritage (Half-Elf Trait)
You exhibit one of the traits of your human parent
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Choose one Human Racial Trait

Racial Talents

Dilettante (Half-Elf Talent)
You take a great interest in other classes and gain an amateur knowledge of how one of them functions.
Varies | Varies
Trigger: Varies
Prerequisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect:You may choose one Class Talent for another class without the need for purchasing a multi – class feat, Please note that if you wish to take more than one talent from another class you will need a multi-class feat as usual. You are required to meet any pre-requisites for the talent and class as usual. You may also take any class specific feats that have the talent as a pre-requisite as long as you meet all other requirements.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Social Confidence (Half-Elf Talent)
Half-elves are always outsiders and have become accustomed to fitting in among other cultures and people either through charm or a thick skin. You are both particularly sure of yourself and particularly difficult to unnerve. This can be unsettling to those who are trying to gain an advantage over you with words.
Varies (See below) | Mundane
Trigger: (i) Somebody attempts to intimidate you. (ii) Somebody attempts and fails to use a social skill against you.
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effects:(i) You gain a +2 bonus to avoid being intimidated, but not when trying to intimidate others. This remains in continuous effect. (ii) If somebody attempts to use a social skill against you (initimidate, diplomacy, bluff, streetwise) and you beat them in an opposed roll, they suffer a -4 penalty to use any of these skills in the future against you or an ally, as long as you are present. This penalty will persist as long as your goals or bargaining positions remain opposed, relative to each other. The penalty could remain in effect for many years, your adversary unable to forget being bested in your previous meetings. This use of the talent requires recharging i.e. only one opponent you beat in an opposed roll each encounter will suffer the ongoing penalty.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Outsider’s Alertness (Half-Elf Talent)
After years as a loner without anyone to watch over you, your senses are particularly alert to danger when others would let down their guard.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Trigger: (i) a perception check is required when you are asleep, distracted or fascinated. (ii) An attack is made against you when you would ordinarily lose your dexterity bonus to your reflex defence.
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effects: (i) You can continue to make perception checks without penalty even when you are asleep, distracted or fascinated. This effect is continuously active. (ii) When an opponent has combat advantage against you because you are surprised, flanked or unaware of them, they do not gain the usual +2 Bonus to Attack Rolls. Special attacks such as a rogues sneak attack which require combat advantage still function, providing they hit. To use this effect again you must take a short rest.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent

Racial Feats

Additional Elven Trait (General Feat)
Your elven blood shines through more strongly than for a typical half-elf.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may choose a second elven racial trait

Additional Human Trait (General Feat)
Your human blood shines through more strongly than for a typical half-elf.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may choose a second human racial trait

Awakened Elven Blood (Half-Elf Feat)
You can exhibit some of the stronger racial talents of your elven ancestor
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Once this feat has been chosen you may select elven Racial Talents and feats, as if you were a full blooded elf

Diverse Dilettante
You take a broarder amateur interest in other classes
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Dilettante Racial Talent, 11th level
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect:You may now choose talents from your first ‘Dilettante’ class as if you had purchased a multi-classing feat. In addition you may choose a single additional class talent for two further classes. Like your first dilettante talent, you are required to meet any pre-requisites for these additional talents

Group Social Confidence (Half-Elf Feat)
When you are within a group, the united façade you exhibit is even more unsettling for others
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf, Social Confidence talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect:All effected allies receive your +4 bonus to avoid being intimidated. Furthermore you may use your Social Confidence talent, if an opponent attempts to use a social skill (initimidate, diplomacy, bluff, streetwise) against one of your effected allies and is beaten by an opposed roll. The opponent will suffer future penalties to their social skills when you are present just as if it was you that beaten them in the opposed roll. If used in this way, you will need to take a short rest before using the talent again

Improved Outsider’s Awareness (Half-Elf Feat)
You remain alert more frequently
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Outsiders Alertness talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may use the Outsiders Alertness talent three times before you require a short rest to recharge the power

Lasting Impression (Half-Elf Feat)
When you have beaten an adversary in a war of words, they will not be able to forget it for a long time
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf, Social Confidence talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: When you have successfully used the Social Confidence talent on an opponent, their penalty for future interactions while you are present is increased to -6

Prominent Human Blood (Half-Elf Feat)
You can exhibit some of the stronger racial talents of your human parent.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Once this feat has been chosen you may select human Racial Talents and feats, as if you were a full blooded human

Versatile Outsider’s Alertness
You remain fully alert when others would let down their guard
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Outsiders Alertness talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Your attacker loses the +2 Bonus to attack rolls from combat advantage when you are balancing, blinded, climbing, dazed, prone, squeezing or unable to see the attacker.

My Initial Thoughts

Well, firstly thanks very much to Steve for taking the time to do this, and for being the first to submit. Secondly, I’d like to say how much more liberating it is to see this process from the other side. I think I like it. Now onto my critique, I’ll undoubtedly change my mind as the ensuing discussion takes flight.

It was my intention to give the half-elf its own racial traits, to try and give the race a greater identity than simply half an elf. However, your approach works equally well. It will be interesting to see what INdran does with the half-orc. I think we should have a consistant approach to all the various half-races that have cropped up in D&D.

Fourth edition positions the half-elf as the most versatile multiclasser, and the only race that can pick up powers from more than two classes (at least until the bard class was published in PHB2). You are hanging onto that element here, which is a perfectly acceptable way to go.

In the Iourn setting, half-elves are survivors. Whether they live lives of solitude in the wilderness, or whether they live by their wits in urban areas, half-elves need to be supremely adaptable to anything that life throws at them. My initial thought is that it would be nice to have a  racial trait that reflects that in some way. Of course, I’m not sure what it is, so I’m not being overly helpful here.

Perhaps there could be a way to work he ‘Dilettante’ aspect back into the racial traits, perhaps dividing it into two traits. Maybe something along the lines of: “A half-elf selects a second class. He can choose talents and traits from that class as if he had selected a multi-class feat.” That may actually be a slightly underpowered trait, as it would be less powerful than a standard multiclass feat. Hmmm. Maybe the half-elf just gets a free multi-class feat of his choice?

On Racial Attributes

I’m perfectly happy with most of this. The human aspect of the half-elf gives it versatility and this is reflected in greater freedom of where to apply skill and defence bonuses. One prescribed skill bonus is still a good idea, but I like that half-elves still get to choose where that goes. This reflects the Woodsy vs Urban conflict well. I think it’s debatable whether diplomacy or insight is a more appropriate skill, but that’s a small thing.

Regarding ability scores, I think it’s right that the half-elf has one prescribed score and one score that the player can choose. This should be the case with all half-humans. Of course, it may be the case with all races if the trend on the poll continues. However, I don’t think I would have chosen Dexterity.

If I had to think of an ability score that most exemplified the half-elf I think I would have gone for Charisma. However, I may be in the minority here. Thoughts anyone?

On Racial Talents

I shall take these individually if I may. Dilettante is probably not powerful enough to be a talent in its own right. Basically it’s a not-quite-as-good version of a multiclass feat. Talents need to be better than feats. I’ve suggested folding Dilettante down to Racial Trait level; I’m becoming more convinced that would be best.

Social Confidence is very good. It says a lot about the half-elf (or a lot about the half-elf who chooses to take this talent). I definitely want to keep this in the final draft. My only concern is that the mechanics might become a little tricky to remember. Rather than giving the half-elf a +2 to avoid being intimidated, we could just give the half-elf the power to make foes reroll intimidate checks against him. That actually equates to about a +5 bonus, but has the advantage of not increasing the maximum DC the half-elf could attain. It might also be easier to remember than a +2 in certain circumstances.

The other use of Social Confidence is also a good one, and probably required as without it the talent may be slightly underpowered. I’m unsure whether this should apply to Bluff and Diplomacy as well as Intimidate? Maybe I could be convinced on Bluff, but Diplomacy is the skill of convincing people to do things by being nice and reasonable. Should half-elves be against that?

I would increase the penalty from -4 to -5, as bonuses and penalties in blocks of five are more common in HD&D. I would also add that it must be the player’s responsibility to record which NPCs are ‘marked’ with this lack of confidence. But you already convered that.

What I really like is the way the two halves of this talent work together. It’s very hard to intimidate a half-elf, and if you try (and fail) then you are likely to be shaken by the experience, and carry bitter resentment of the failure around with you for some time. Nice.

Outsider’s Alertness could easily be renamed Half-Elven Paranoia, and it could certainly be played that way. Perception checks when “sleeping, distracted or fascinated”… well, I’ll certainly keep the flavour of that, but as the rules for fascination haven’t been set (there may not even be such a term in HD&D) the application may change somewhat. That’s inevitable at this stage in the design process.

The secondary use of this talent is also spot on the money. This makes it useful for all classes, and I like the way that it doesn’t scupper a rogue’s Sneak Attack power. I’m not sure that this needs to be a Recharge power. I think it could work as a “Continuous Effect” without breaking the game. In any event, this is a good, solid talent.

On Racial Feats

On the whole the feats you have devised to alter or augment the racial talents are fine. Improved Outsider’s Awareness is a no-brainer if we keep the ‘recharge’ aspect of the talent (although I’m not sure we have to). Versatile Ousider’s Awareness allows you to retain awareness in more circumstances. This is fine, but the actual circumstances may change depending on the final form of the HD&D rules. Group Social Confidence is interesting. I think it would have to be playtested, but I like the idea a lot. Lasting Impression is also fine, but I would increase the penalty to -10 and make 11th level a prerequisite.

Now we get onto the feats that allow a half-elf to mutliclass and take on the abilities and powers of humans and elves. This is where I think the mechanics fall down slightly, largely because they are dependent on Dilettante being a talent, which I don’t think it deserves to be.

There’s no reason you could have known this, as I haven’t told anyone, but it’s my intention that multiclass feats do slightly more than just let you multiclass. If you take a multiclass feat you can select class talents and class feats of a second class, as if you were a member of that class. You also add one still from that class’s list of favoured skills to your list of class skills. So basically, multiclass feats let you multiclass and give the benefits of a more highly focused Skill Training feat.

I had hoped to approach half-races in the same way. Half-races should be able to select feats that allow them to “multirace” – that is gain access to the racial talents and racial feats of other races. Half-elves, should be able to multirace into Elf or Human. But like multiclass feats, multirace feats need to do more than simply permit multiracing.

My idea is this: multirace feats are limited to certain races. Half-elves could only ever take Human or Elf, half-orcs could take Human or Orc. Arguably, Genbassi could select any multirace feat. Taking a multirace feat gives you several benefits:

Firstly, it let’s you select racial talents and racial feats as if you were a member of that race. Secondly, you gain a racial trait of that race. Thirdly, you can (in the future) select additional racial traits from that race as if they were normal feats.

So, Illyan the half-elf decides he wants some extra skill points. He takes the Human multirace feat (that I might well call Prominent Human Blood). He decides to gain the trait Human Endeavour which gives him one extra skill point per level. He can now also select human feats and human talents as if he was a human. If we wanted to, he could also take the other human trait, Human Perspicacity as if it was a feat. (Yes, obviously there wouldn’t be any point because Human Perspicacity just gives you a feat, but you get the idea!)

The feats you invented (Awaken Elven Blood, Prominent Human Blood, Additional Human Trait and Additional Elven Trait) do exactly the same job. It’s just a slightly different way of presenting the same mechanics. Obviously, I prefer my version or I wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I will throw this open to debate.

Perhaps a half-elf should receive one multiclass feat and one multirace feat as his two Racial Traits? Just a thought.

To Conclude

Inevitably, when you critique something you dwell on the negative points. However, on the whole you’ve given the half-elf a pretty comprehensive package. The mechanics you suggest give the half-elf an identity, and something to hang the roleplaying off – which is what it’s all about. Well done, Steve. Now – when can I have the halfling?