Dungeons & Delvers: Nomad Preview

The upcoming eighth issue of Appendix D is going to feature at least one psionic class (currently the nomad), as the whole psionics thing just seems to fit with the alien and robot races, high-tech gear (including space ships), and robot/alien monsters.

The Dungeons & Delvers nomad is based on the nomad class from A Sundered World, which is vaguely based on what I guess you could call the psion-nomad subtype from 3rd Edition's Expanded Psionics Handbook. Basically, it was built around the theme of moving itself, other creatures, and other objects around a lot.

In A Sundered World it does this by making an Intelligence roll to see if it can notice cracks in reality. Depending on your roll you gain a number of a "fold" currency, which you then spend to activate various abilities (some abilities might require that you have at least 1 fold to use, can't remember).

This mostly works in Dungeon World because of the general...I guess what you could call tone, or degree of rules/mechanics abstraction, which lets you get away with many things not making a whole lot of sense (or any sense at all). Plus, most classes that have limited access to various abilities tend to do so via a roll-and-hold move (such as the druid's Shapeshifter, how paladin abilities can affect Defend, and the thief's Trap Expert).

In Dungeons & Delvers the mechanics are quite different.

For example, druids don't make a check to transform, do 1-3 things in animal form, revert back, and then roll again to see how many animal things they can do (yes this is how they work in Dungeon World, and why we made our own druid): they just transform and get different stats. Clerics can use x number of miracles in a day, and can make sacrifices to use more if they want to. Wizards spend random amounts of Mana to use their spells, and if they want to risk it can even dip into their overall health.

The big thing is that we don't think anyone would want to spend a turn making an Intelligence check to see how many nomad things they can do, and then after doing perhaps 1-3 things spend another turn rolling again. We especially don't think players would play a nomad if they could also roll so poorly that not only do you not get anything (or get to do anything), but on top of it bad stuff happens based entirely on what the GM comes up with at that point in time (which is how most really bad rolls go down in Dungeon World).

So, we retained the core concept (psychic powers that manipulate space) and tweaked it.

The original draft (spoiler alert: I changed it again) had a "Ripple" die: at the start of your turn you'd roll it, and that would determine various parameters of your psychic powers (namely range and area of effect). It would change on a round-by-round basis, reflecting the shifting fabric of reality, and the higher level you got, the bigger die you rolled, and probably around 15th level you'd even start rolling multiple dice.

Some nomad talents just did something, while others were classified as "tear" talents, representing you attempting to tear apart the fabric of reality. Using these types of talents required an Intelligence check, and if you failed there was a whole table of bad shit to roll on. Each use of a tear talent, whether or not you succeeded, increased the DC of every tear talent until you took a short rest (letting your brain rest for a bit).

Finally, many talents temporarily modified the next Ripple die check: for example, one of them granted you a +1 bonus per 10 feet you move on your turn (Making Waves).

Compared to other classes (and classes with limited resources such as the monk), I think it's both far more complicated and far more risky.

First, most other spellcasting classes just mark off their currency and do something. Sorcerers and wizards are the only ones that have to usually make a dice roll, and right now illusionists are the only ones likely to have to deal with lumping several talent costs together (a non-solid, still image costs like 1d4, while making it solid adds 1, and adding animation adds another 1 or 2, etc). But illusionist isn't a core class, it's a choice, so if you don't want to deal with that little bit of math you don't have to.

Also, my recollection of the Ripple die during playtesting was that it was more hassle than it was worth, especially if you wanted to, say, teleport across a pit and you just ended up sitting there, rolling and re-rolling every round, until it comes up high enough to get you across.

Second, clerics and druids never have to worry about something bad happening while trying to use their talents: you either have the Favor or you don't. Sorcerers and wizards can potentially knock themselves out, maybe kill themselves, but you can always look at your Mana, VP, and WP total and decide if you want to risk it, and you can often go with a Mana-free Magic Missile or use a less costly talent (ie, Burning Hands or Scorching Ray instead of Fireball).

That said, what with the new mechanic of "spending more Mana to up the damage dice" in Appendix D, I think a lot of players like the idea of risking their lives unleashing a big-ass explosion spell. But again, you know that if you have 3 WP, 1 VP, and no Mana, that even a 1d4 Drain spell will possibly knock you out. It's your call.

I've since revisited the class and decided to rework it, so that it's both simpler and more reliable in comparison to other classes.

First, there's no more Ripple die. Instead you just have a scaling class feature that sets the range for many talents, though honestly I'm considering just scrapping that and giving everything a set range like you'd expect.

Second, Power Points. They function as you'd expect if you've used/read about psionics in Dungeons & Dragons before: if you want to do something, you spend one or more Power Points and it works.

Some talents need a specific amount to use, and some let you spend more to enhance them. Currently they recover during a long rest, but I could see them replenishing during a short rest (just have to nerf talents to account for that), or even x amount during a short rest, like sorcerer and wizard Mana.

So with all that in mind, here's the current draft of the nomad:

  • Base Wound Points: 4+Constitution
  • Wound Points at Higher Levels: +3+Constitution
  • Base Vitality Points: 2
  • Vitality Points at Higher Levels: +1
(Basically WP and VP as a rogue.)

  • Weapons: You are proficient with simple weapons.
  • Armor: You can wear armor up to a mail shirt.
  • Skills: Arcana. Choose three more skills.

(Wondering if there should be a Psionics skill, or just have Arcana cover it. Mostly I consider psionics a type of magic, just purely mental.)

You start with leather armor, two simple melee weapons, and 2d6 sp. Choose your starting gear:
  • Dungeoneer’s pack
  • Explorer’s pack

As a nomad you gain the following class features:

Power Points
You have a number of Power Points equal to your Intelligence + nomad level. When you take a long rest, you regain all spent Power Points.

Psionic Bonus
At 1st-level you gain a +1 bonus to any ability or skill check, or attack or damage roll when using a nomad talent, and the saving throw DCs of your nomad talents are increased by 1. At 5th-level this bonus increases to +2.

(Unlike a cleric or wizard, nomads don't rely on focuses.)

You start with Cutting the Fabric and Teleport. Choose an additional nomad talent you qualify for.

Will Bonus
At 1st-level you gain a +1 bonus to your Will saves. At 5th-level it increases to +2.

Spatial Ripples
Your mere presence disrupts the fabric of space. At first the ripples you create are small, but as you become more experienced they continue to widen. This distance is typically used to determine the maximum distance of many nomad talents: if a talent doesn’t specify a distance, then it can be used up to a number of feet away as determined this class feature.

(Since I didn't post the table, at 1st-level the range is 10 feet, and at 5th-level it increases to 20 feet.)

Here are some things you’ll need to know about nomad talents.
  • Disciplines: Most nomad talents are considered psychic disciplines, but follow the general rules for using talents (Black Book, page 82).
  • Saving Throws: When a nomad talent calls for a saving throw, the DC is 10+Intelligence+any other bonuses you might have (such as from a sufficiently high nomad level). Saving throws are explained in Black Book, page 83.

Along For The Ride
Prerequisite: Teleport
When you teleport, you can spend an additional Power Point to bring someone else with you that you can touch. You can spend any number of Power Points to bring more people with you, but the total number cannot exceed your nomad level.

Cutting the Fabric
You can make melee attacks against creatures up to a number of feet away as determined by your Spatial Ripples class feature, and you can use your Intelligence for the attack and damage roll.

1 Power Point: A creature suffers 3d6+Intelligence slashing damage (Fortitude save for half). You can spend an additional Power Point, increasing the damage by 2d6 for each Power Point spent, but the total damage dice cannot exceed your nomad level.

Flexible Space
As long as you have at least 1 Power Point, your Speed is increased by 10 feet.

1 Power Point: For 1 minute per nomad level, your Speed is increased by an amount equal to your Spatial Ripples class feature.

Piercing the Fabric
Prerequisite: Cutting the Fabric
When you use Cutting the Fabric (whether or not you spend Power Points), the attack gains armor piercing 2.

Spatial Dilation
Prerequisite: Spatial Distortion
Power Point: 1
The area around you is treated as difficult terrain for 1 minute per nomad level. The distance is a number of feet determined by your Spatial Ripples class feature.

+1 Power Point: Creatures that leave the area of effect are slowed until the end of their next turn.

Spatial Distortion
As long as you have at least 1 Power Point, you can use Intelligence instead of Dexterity when determining your AC and Reflex saving throws.

1 Power Point: For 10 minutes per nomad level, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC and Reflex saving throws.

You can teleport up to a number of feet as determined by your Spatial Ripples class feature. You must be able to see your destination.

1 Power Point: You teleport up to 100 feet per nomad level to a place you have been to before, and you don’t need to see your destination.

Something I thought of, that would give nomads an added risk element, but also let us use the whole psychic cascade table that we've already made, is to allow nomads (and psions in general) to attempt to use their powers even when they've run out of Power Points: you make an Intelligence check, DC probably 13 or 15, plus however many Power Points you're trying to spend

If you succeed, great, it works. Otherwise you have to roll on the cascade table, and whether or not you succeed the DC is increased by 1 or 2 points until you take a long rest.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

Also, as part of DriveThruRPG's May D&D Sale, both Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book and Appendix D have been marked down until the end of May!

After months of doing other things, we turned our attention to and released The Warden. It's based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons class of the same name, but judging by the responses we did an excellent job converting it over.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

No comments

Powered by Blogger.