Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Letting my players create their own Classes

In my current Labyrinth Lord home game I let my players create their own Character Classes.

One of the main reasons I started running Labyrinth Lord (essentially b/x d&d) is because of the astonishingly large wealth of content roaming the blogosphere at large. In terms of sheer mass of stuff to inject into your game, there has never been a better time in history to be playing d&d. There is near limitless new ideas, monsters, rules, settings, character classes, etc, etc getting pumped out of the innumerable quality blogs/zines/pdfs all over the internet, every single day. 

My players don't really read blogs though. I let them know they could trawl the internet for any class that tickles their fancy and vaguely fits into B/X d&d and bring it to the table. Unfortunately that didn't  happen and I got thinly veiled complaints about the stifling simplicity of the base Labyrinth Lord character classes.

I extolled to them the virtues of the OSR philosophy of actual interaction with the game world, as opposed to New School character builds, skill sets and feats and how simplified character creation facilitates that...but they weren't getting it.

So, I let them know they could make their own Character Classes. And that they did.

I provided them with my simplified "Quick and Easy Player Handbook for Old School D&D / Labyrinth Lord"  which gave them the general template for a B/X character class.

Basically all I required before unleashing a new character class unto my game is the following:
  • The HP dice they use (normally d4-d8).
  • The XP they need to get to level 2 (any where from the Thief's 1250 to the Elf's 4000).
  • The class's armor and weapon restrictions (if any).
  • The class's special abilities.
It's been the case so far that first three points are used to counterbalance the wild and whacky ideas that are implemented in the fourth. My players seem to really like wild and whacky special abilities. 

I generally decide on which of the original classes baseline To Hit Bonus and Saving Throws the new class will use. I obviously also make a few changes, edits and power balancing to the class before it's good to go.

It's proved to be a great exercise.The players with their own customer character classes are much more invested in their characters. As a GM who likes to see players create their own goals, rather than me giving them specific quests and adventures, I' excited to already see long term goals be formulated and extrapolated from the core mechanics of the custom classes. I also like the new classes, because weird character classes make the game more entertaining for me to run.

I've also now got access to three new Labyrinth Lord / B/X compatible character classes out of the deal, which I'm going to put up on my blog for the world to enjoy. Those being;

  • A Shaman with a randomized "healing" mechanic. 
  • A Psionic warrior who forms mental bonds with his targets, which cause mental stress and disorder when said bond is broken at the death of a target. 
  •  An Arachnomancer, which is basically a thief with spider abilities rather than thief abilities. 
Expect to see them on the blog soon!

Am I crazy? How do you feel about letting your player's bring their own creations to the table?