For part one of this series, click here. For part two, click here.
With this installment, we're going to dive into the nitty-gritty of one of the coolest innovations in James Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess: The Specialist class.
One thing LotFP does better than any other B/X clone is that it streamlines the skill check system. Every character, regardless of class, has the same Base 1 in 6 chance to perform some common activities. Those activities include things like stealth, climbing sheer surfaces, and picking locks or disarming traps (combined under the name "tinkering" in Raggi's system). The assumption is that any adventurer would have been at least partially exposed to these skills, and have some chance of succeeding at them.
Compare this to giving the Thief (and only the Thief) a percentile dice check for, say, moving silently and hiding. For new players, this can create the impression that only the Thief is capable of these things (wrong), rather than that he or she is simply better at them (right). Further confusing the issue is that the Thief is using a resolution mechanic none of the other classes use. If the entire party declares that they want to hide from an approaching group of sentries, what's the best way to determine success or failure for the non-Thief characters?
Enter, the LotFP Specialist class. The Specialist starts the game with the same Base 1 in 6 skills that all player characters have, plus 4 skill points to distribute as they see fit. At each level, they gain two more skill points.
Not only does this greatly simplify the concept of "Thief skills" for new players, it also allows for plenty of player customization. Prefer playing an assassin over a standard Thief? Put all your points into Stealth, Climbing, and Sneak Attack. Want a Bard-type character steeped in dungeon lore and history? Focus on Languages, Sleight of Hand, and Architecture. Even a Ranger-type character would be feasible. Just put all your points in Bushcraft, Climbing, and Stealth.
Add to this the relative simplicity of introducing "custom" skills (seamanship for example), and just about any kind of character is possible. Even something as crazy as, say, a wall-climbing pirate captain in the Carpathian Mountains...
Not all who oppose Dracula are skilled warriors, masters of magic, or cursed half-breeds. Some are ordinary people, forced to rely on skill rather than physical might or arcane power. Most would call these souls foolish for thinking they could stand against the armies of the night. Maybe they are. But the more sentimental among Wallachia's terrified populace look to these men and women as courageous beacons of hope.
Specialists are those characters who, through vocation, background, or sheer determination, have mastered skills that most only dabble in. Some are highwaymen and criminals. Some are adventurers and explorers. Still others are simple tradesmen, applying their mastery of locks or animal trapping to the war against Dracula's minions.
Whatever their background, Specialists begin the game at the same default skill level as all other characters, plus or minus applicable modifiers. At first level, they are awarded 4 additional Skill Points to distribute as desired, and an additional two skill points per character level. Each point applied improves the skill roll by one (1 in 6 becomes 2 in 6, for example).
The exception is the Sneak Attack skill. Each point applied to Sneak Attack acts as a damage modifier. Spending no points grants no damage bonus. Spending one point multiples damage by two on a successful sneak attack. Spending two points multiples damage by three, and so on. Additionally, spending any points in Sneak Attack grants the Specialist a +2 bonus to hit on all sneak attack rolls.
If any of the Specialist's skills are rated at 6 in 6, the player rolls 2d6 for every skill check. The check fails only if the player rolls a 6 on both dice.
The Specialist must be unencumbered to use any skill that requires movement, or suffer a penalty of one skill point per point of encumbrance. Using the Tinker skill to pick locks, or disarm traps requires special tools.
Specialists begin the game with a minimum of 4 Hit Points (roll 1d6 and apply Constitution modifier, ignore any result lower than 4).
Specialist / Level 5 / Neutral
Hit Points: 17 (d6 Hit Die) Melee Attack Bonus: +2 Ranged Attack Bonus: +3
Base Armor Class: 14 (Unarmored 12, +DEX bonus)
Parry: +2 to AC
Charisma 13 ( +1 to Retainer Recruitment, Loyalty)
Constitution 12 ( +0 to Hit Points, Daily Travel Distance)
Dexterity 16 ( +2 to Armor Class, Ranged Attack Bonus, Initiative)
Intelligence 7 ( -1 to Saves vs Magic Effects, Languages)
Strength 14 ( +1 to Melee Attack Bonus, Open Doors)
Wisdom 10 ( +0 to Saves vs Non-magical Effects)
(Base 1 in 6, Plus 12 Skill Points distributed)
Architecture 3 in 6
Bushcraft 1 in 6
Climbing 6 in 6 (Roll 2d6, check fails only on a roll of 12)
Languages 0 in 6 (Base 1 in 6, minus INT penalty)
Open Doors 1 in 6
Search 1 in 6
Sleight of Hand 1 in 6
Sneak Attack damage x2, +2 to attack
Stealth 1 in 6
Tinkering 1 in 6
Seamanship 3 in 6 (New Skill, character specific)
Saving Throws: Paralyze Poison Breath Weapon Magical Device Magic
Base: 11 12 14 13 12
With bonuses: 11 12 14 14 13
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