OK, for weeks now I’ve been reading the threads and one of the most consistent criticisms of the system is the “Dwindling Luck Supply” and Spellburn accumulation problems. They afflict spellcasters & non-spellcasters alike, but unlike Clerics, a Wizard’s patron doesn’t always have a vested interest in keeping the caster alive. And non-casters don’t even get that much. Many have suggested that there should be some sort of mechanism of Luck return… I disagree. To me the Luck Stat represents a characters ability to “cheat Fate.” It kind of reminds me of the Oingo Boingo song “No one lives forever!”:
“I'm so happy dancing while the grim reaper
Cuts, cuts, cuts
But he can't get me (I'm as)
Clever as can be, and I'm very quick, but don't forget
You’ve only got so many tricks,
No one lives forever!!!”
So how do I address these issues? For new characters I’m considering the “Beginner’s Luck” rule that I’ve proposed elsewhere, but tweaked a bit into the following:
Starting level of PC Roll min / ave / max
0…………………….10+1d8…..11 / 14.5 / 18
1…………………….8+1d10…...9 / 13.5 / 18
2…………………….8+1d8…….9 / 12.5 / 16
3…………………….7+1d8…….8 / 11.5 / 15
4…………………….7+1d6…….8 / 10.5 / 13
5…………………….6+1d6…….7 / 9.5 / 12
This is to represent (Thematically at least) in my game because Myna the Goddess of Luck has a Soft heart for “Newbies.” As such, she has a tendency to favor beginners a bit so that they have a chance to become grizzled veteran adventurers. The available Luck goes down to simulate the rigors of the adventuring life when a player just wants to run a 5th level character.
In general, I think the best method for Luck return in a campaign is as a function of story awards. If any type of “machination” is employed at all, then treat Luck in the same manner as Force Points in the Star Wars 1e (the d6 version). For those unfamiliar with the concept: in Star Wars you start with 1 Force point. If you spend your Force Point and the heroic action that you used it for succeeds, then you get the point back. Sometimes you get that point +1 more for being a really awesome hero.
In the DCC RPG setting I think this would translate best as: Character burns Luck Score to affect a change in fate, if successful then the PC gets half the expended points returned; 1 minimum. This would have the effect of making small expenditures more popular, while enhancing the powers of Thieves & Halflings over the course of a long campaign. Story awards would then be the way Gods tell characters that they approve of what is being done in their name.
Then I started to wonder… Might there be a way of increasing the available supply of luck and minimizing the wear and tear from Permanent Stat burn? For me the answer is yes; & along the way, I found a solution for one of the other consistent criticisms: Wizards get powerful (if random) magic, but in all other respects the Class gets screwed. Poor Hit Points, Poor Combat Ability, Random Magic that will make your Stats go up and down faster than a Hooker at a frat party… assuming it doesn’t back fire and kill you, or turn you into a tentacled horror. Oh yah, and there’s no place for you in the society because the system bias is that wizards are nasty old codgers that are best burned at the stake.
The find familiar spell for example… historically, in literature, & in D&D it has been a nearly iconic symbol of the magic user. In this system it is the equivalent of adding a “Suicide Switch” to an already fragile character build. Double damage for losing a familiar on a PC that will average 12.5 HP at best, but could be as low as 6hp at 5th level! Yep, that’s suicide. Its only saving grace as a spell is that all the lines for effect read “Per Judge.” I got irritated at first, but then I thought, “It’s difficult enough to keep a Wizard candidate alive through the Character Funnel… what could I offer a player that would entice them to take the horrifying risk of adding a Familiar?”
Answer: The Wizard may chose to burn their Familiars Stats & Luck in place of their own. All animals/ monsters have defined Stat Scores [random & fixed] and their Luck Score is 9 unless their entry says otherwise.
This approach immediately offers some interesting paths… evil spells that can drain a target of their Luck & transfer it to the caster, or sacred/profane rites of sacrifice to gain Stat & Luck bonuses, etc. Additionally, when I was writing up the “monster entries” for the various Familiars, I was able to introduce some additional mechanics to upgrade a Wizards survivability factor. For example, on the first familiar table there is one animal for each of the Stat scores that will give Wizards a +1d3 boost to that Stat score as long as the bond is unbroken…
6. Dove: Wizard gains +1d3 Luck (18 max), heals HP & Spellburn at double the normal rate; Luck heals 1 pt/ night of rest (both apply to all who sleep for a night within 40ft of the dove); Wizard is a pacifist so -6 with all weapons unless defending against Evil beings/monsters or defending the innocent. Wizard must choose Good Alignment.
STR 2; AGIL 13; STAM 16; INT 2; PERS 16; Luck 12+1d6; Init. +1; Attack 1d14-5 beak or talon attack for 1 pt damage; AC 12; HD 1d3+2; Act 1d20; Move 4inch hop, or 200ft fly speed/ accel = 40ft (vertical= ½); Special Powers= Righteous fury- when attacking evil creatures, the dove gets +4 AC, makes attacks with 1d24+4, & does 3 points damage & for Crits- rolls 1d8/ table III. A Wizard may burn the dove’s Luck instead of his own, but the doves Luck doesn’t heal; SV Fort +3, Reflex +4, Will +4; Doves normally roll 1d2/ table I; Alignment G; EXP Value= -10/hp & -1d3 Luck if you kill one.
Here’s the spell (minus the rather lengthy tables of Familiars):
Name: Find Familiar
Casting Time: 1 week
General: This lengthy ritual prepares you to bond with a Familiar. The Familiar makes itself known during the ceremony 50% of the time; otherwise, you make its acquaintance in the weeks following the ritual. The spell check is made upon completion of the ritual, and a minimum spellburn of 10 points is required to cast the spell.
You gain hit points equal to the Familiar’s as well as other powers, depending on the type of creature. Regardless of type, the familiar gains: +6 INT, +2 PERS unless there is a variable value stated (i.e. xdx+x) in the creatures entry. They gain the ability to communicate telepathically with master @ a distance of 1 mile per level, but doesn’t allow the Wizard to see, hear, or otherwise sense anything but words and emotions. Additionally, all familiars can deliver a touch spell for their master & have similar manifestation effects. The Wizard may opt to transfer spellburn or Luck burn to the familiar; who heals their stat damage normally, but luck burn is permanent as always. Animals have a Luck Score of 9 unless entry says otherwise; if there is a bonus then the Familiar applies it to the same things as Master does. With any entry which allows a player to choose the Familiar type, this choice does not extend to “sub-table choices.” (i.e. a Wizard may choose “Animated Item,” but not which type is attracted by the spell)
Some results allow the wizard to Borrow or Graft abilities of the Familiar:
Lesser powers: any 1 of the creature’s senses or skills, thick fur or hide (including amphibious adaptation), claws or horns, travel modes: swim & climb, etc.
Greater powers: travel modes: burrowing & flight, borrowing a Stat Score, sonar, venoms, regeneration, breath weapon, etc.
If your Familiar dies, you immediately keel over in intense pain, lose twice the Familiars hit points permanently & suffer a -5 spell check penalty until the next full moon… assuming you survived…
1-11: Failure; and 1 month before you may try again.
12-15: Familiar table 1: roll 1d30. Every Familiar gains the benefits listed under the General Heading, but each Wizard gains boons from the Familiar based on Familiar type. These gifts are always in effect as long as the bond remains unbroken. Additionally, a Wizard may invoke one of the Familiar’s lesser attributes or abilities for 1 minute + 1 minute/ level. Ex: the night vision of the raccoon or cat, or the speed of a snake (+to initiative), or a bats keen sense of hearing, etc.; but no powers that rely upon other attributes for their functioning. The chosen ability may be determined when invoked. This power may be used 1x/day & causes some form of minor (& temporary) transfiguration of the wizard.
16-18: Roll on Familiar table 1: as entry for 12-15; Wizard may invoke one of the Familiar’s lesser powers for 1 turn + 1 turn/ level.
19-23: Roll on Familiar table 1: as 16-17, except 2x/day; may choose from lesser or greater powers of familiar.
24-27: Familiar Table 2: roll 1d20; or, choose any 1 creature from table 1. Wizard may invoke one of the Familiar’s lesser or greater abilities for 1 turn + 1 turn/ level. These abilities may be determined each time they are invoked. This power may be used 2x/day & causes some form of minor (& temporary) transfiguration of the wizard. Additionally a Wizard may choose 1 lesser power to be permanently applied, though this causes an equally permanent “corruption.”
28- 29: Roll on Familiar table 2, or roll twice on table 1: Wizard may invoke 2 of the Familiar’s Greater or lesser powers for 1hr/ level. The chosen ability may be determined when invoked. Wizard may choose 1 lesser & 1 greater ability to be permanent, though this will cause the equivalent of corruption & a permanent +1/ power added to the Fort DC for polymorph ability. The DM will determine any adverse effects of this transition after the wizard has decided. The Wizard may transform into familiar type for 1 minute+1 minute/ level, but may be ended at any time. During the transformation, the Wizard retains his INT, PERS, & Luck scores, but gains all of the creatures other stats and abilities. At the end of the transformation, the Wizard rolls a Fortitude save with DC= 9+1/ minute [or fraction] of alteration; failure= the Wizard is stuck in the transformed state for 1 more minute, then repeat the save: the process continues until the save is made or the DC=20. If the DC= 20 then the transformation has become permanent & the Wizard has permanently forgotten who they are, loses Class features & all stats revert to creature/monster maximums. This is a curse & is removed in the same way. These powers may be used 2x/day;
30-31: Roll 1d20 on Familiar Table 3; or choose 2 creatures from Familiar Table 1, or choose 1 creature from Familiar Table 2. Wizard may invoke 3 familiar powers/abilities for 2hrs/ level. These powers may be chosen when invoked. The Wizard may choose 2 lesser & 1 greater power to be permanent, though this will cause the equivalent of corruption & a permanent +1/ power added to the Fort DC for polymorph ability. The DM will determine any adverse effects of this transition after the wizard has decided. The Wizard may transform into familiar type for 1 turn+1 turn/ level, but may be ended at any time. During the transformation, the Wizard retains his INT, PERS, & Luck scores, but attains all of the creatures other stats and abilities. At the end of the transformation, the Wizard rolls a Fortitude save with DC= 11+1/ turn [or fraction] of alteration; failure= the Wizard is stuck in the transformed state for 1 more turn then repeat the save: the process continues until the save is made or the DC=20. If the DC= 20 then the transformation has become permanent & the Wizard has permanently forgotten who they are, loses Class features & all stats revert to creature/monster maximums. This is a curse & is removed in the same way. These powers may be used 2x/day;
32+ Roll twice on Familiar table 3 & pick the one you want; or, twice on Familiar Table 2; or pick 3 from table 1: Wizard may invoke 3 Familiar attributes or abilities for 3hr/ level. The chosen ability may be determined when invoked. Additionally, the Wizard may choose 3 lesser & 2 greater attributes or abilities to be permanent, though this will cause the equivalent of corruption & each power adds a permanent +1 to the Fort Save DC for polymorph ability. These powers may be used 3x/day. The Wizard may transform into familiar type for 1 day+1 day/ level, but may be ended at any time. During the transformation, the Wizard retains his INT, PERS, & Luck scores & the ability to speak normally, but otherwise attains all of the creatures other stats and abilities. At the end of the transformation, the Wizard rolls a Fortitude save with DC= 13+1/ day [or fraction] of alteration; if the time was less than a day then; failure requires the Wizard to roll on the Corruption table. If the duration was longer than 1 day; failure= the Wizard is stuck in the transformed state for 1 more day then repeat the save: the process continues until the save is made or the DC=20. If the DC= 20 then the transformation has become permanent. The Wizard is stuck with their stats as they are (retaining speech & memories), but losing all other Class features. The curse cannot be removed short of Deific involvment…
NOTE: on the rare occasions when there are multiple Familiar’s, the wizard may not accept a result that would place natural enemies side by side. Ex: owls & squirrels/ skunks, or Dogs and Cats, etc. Multiples of the same familiar types are acceptable.
The spell is deliberately set up so that a “cautious” Wizard will not graft any powers, and stick with “invoked” powers and abilities governed by duration of effect… but the possibility exists for the player to take their magic user into “freak” territory while giving both types of player some interesting non-spell related ways to contribute to the party. In other words… reasons for the party to risk having a Wizard around.
The tables are many pages long (& aren’t finished yet), but here’s one of the most powerful Familiars from Table 1:
13. Homunculus, lesser: Wizard gains a great deal from this Familiar bond: 5 of the 10 points spent in casting the Find Familiar Spell are permanently lost. In exchange, the spell animates a humanoid being no more than 3ft tall from the materials provided or the surrounding environment in which the Familiar is first encountered. A Homunculus has the following Statistics: STR =8+1d8, AGIL 8+1d8, STAM 8+1d8, INT = to Masters, PERS = to Masters, Luck = 9; move 40ft; Masters Base Attacks & Saves, Action Dice, Weapon Skills & Gen. Skill sets @ time of creation, but uses own stats; 1d10+Stamina Bonus HP; Attack damage by weapon or 1d6+STR bludgeoning damage with fist; Immune to piercing, poisoning, suffocation damage & takes ½ damage from everything else but fire. Fire does normal damage, but the Homunculus isn’t flammable. An Homunculus cannot speak, but understands any language that its master knows. If targeted by a Dispel Magic spell, it gets a Fort save vs. the spell check DC for the Dispel Magic spell or it’s paralyzed for the duration of the Dispelling. A Lesser Homunculus may be trained as a Fighter or Thief if it’s Master sacrifices the EXP. NOTE: Wizard may not polymorph into this type of familiar; though, greater & lesser powers may be derived from the abilities & powers of the Homunculus. Killing one gives EXP= 10/hp; & Its Wizard most likely dies, but if the Wizard dies first, the Homunculus Familiar has an 80% chance to outlive its Wizard.
And here’s one of my favorites for Table 2:
1. Animated Item Spirit, sm.: The Wizard gains no specific boons from this type of Familiar in the traditional sense. The wizard simply gains the benefits of having a specific item that is “alive.” Roll 1d6: 1-4= mundane item, 5= shield, 6= weapon. Animated objects are made when the Wizard invests a small amount of their spirit into the item; 3 of the spellburn points used in summoning are permanent. These spirits inhabit the item the same way a hermit crab lives in its shell save that the residence is permanent until destroyed; as such they have a % chance of not dieing when the items are destroyed. Animated objects have no need of sleep, food, or air, though an items special powers may be contingent upon mitigating factors; additionally, they cannot heal HP damage on their own. The Wizard may sacrifice HP (1:1) to heal the animated item. The Wizards HP heals as normal. All Animated Objects roll Crits as their Master does & have a 50% chance of outliving their masters.
Mundane items have the following Characteristics: No larger than 1 cubic foot/level, animated objects have
a Luck Score of 9 like animals, but other Stat Scores are = 1d8+5. Init. Stat +1; Attack= 1d3+STR damage; AC 10+stat; HD= max 1d8+stat; Act 1d20; Move= per DM; Special Powers= Extremely durable- if the item is destroyed there is a 40% chance the spirit isn’t dead. If the Item Spirit survives then it will inhabit the next item of similar type whenever the Wizard finds/buys/steals one. Some types of items might gain special attacks; SV Fort= stat bonus, Reflex= stat bonus, Will= stat bonus; Alignment= as Master; Crit= As Master; EXP Value= 3/hp, or 4/hp if it has special powers or it can fly, & its master most likely dies.
Animated Shield Spirit:
Animated shield are the most powerful & durable of the Animated Object Familiars. They have a Luck Score of 8+1d4, but other Stat Scores are = 1d8+8. Init. Stat +2; Attack- max damage= STR bonus, 1 minimum; AC 12 + stat bonus; HD= 2d6+stat bonus; Act 1d20; Move= Floats and operate as if wielded by a humanoid of the Master’s type. Special Powers= extremely durable- if Shield is destroyed there is a 75% chance the spirit isn’t dead. If it survives then the spirit will inhabit the next shield when the Wizard finds/buys/steals one. NOTE- when applying the “Shields shall be splintered Rule,” The # of times the shield can perform this function is 1 w/ +1 use per magic bonus to AC, and the shield may always choose to burn its own Luck to avoid final destruction; SV Fort= stat bonus +1, Reflex= stat bonus +1, Will= stat bonus +1; Alignment= as Master; Crt= As Master; EXP Value= 4/hp & its master most likely dies.
Animated Weapon Spirit, roll 1d20 & consult table 3-1 p.57. [Battleaxe= 1]
Animated weapons have a Luck Score of 9, but other Stat Scores are = 1d8+6. Init. Stat +1; Attack= as a fighter of the Wizards level, max damage= weapon+ STR bonus; AC 11+stat; HD= max 1d10+stat; Act 1d20; Move= Javelins, pole-arms, spears & staves move in a snake like fashion unless they are launching themselves. All others float and operate as if wielded by a humanoid of the Master’s type. Special Powers= extremely durable- if weapon is destroyed there is a 50% chance the spirit isn’t dead. If it survives then the spirit will inhabit the next weapon of similar type when the wizard finds/buys/steals one; SV Fort= stat bonus, Reflex= stat bonus, Will= stat bonus; Alignment= as Fighter of Masters Level; Crit= As Master; EXP Value= 3/hp, or 4/hp if it has special powers or it can fly, & its master most likely dies.
Table 3 has stuff like Unicorns, Dragons, Angels, Devils, & Greater Homunculus, etc… but you have to roll 31+ to gain access to the list. None of those have been written yet.