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0th Level Characters

Vespucci

Villager
I've been doing some groundwork for a Trailblazer game. One of the things hinted at in Trailblazer is a return to the values of the 'old school', while still making use of the more elegant d20 mechanics. (If that's not the Bad Axe design philosophy - well, they've certainly done a fine job of making space for it, and I approve! :D)

One thing that's really fallen away in 3e is henchmen and hirelings. Oh, I know, there was Leadership, but it seemed incredibly arbitrary - and it happened too late. The PCs need trap fodder... I mean, allies, from 1st level. And those allies need to be the kind of guys who can evolve into PCs when their paymasters (or whatever) get their heads staved in by giants. That means NPC classes won't work - nobody wants to play a Commoner 5/Sorcerer 1. Or even a Warrior 2/Fighter 1!

Thanks to the Trailblazer tune-up of 1st level characters, there's actually enough design space for 0th level. I have in mind:

Elite Array (+6 to be assigned at 1st level)
HP = Con score
BAB & BMB +0
Two "strong" saves at +1
2 + Int skill points - but no class skills
Simple Weapon proficiencies

They also need to get armor proficiency and perhaps access to a spell list, depending on their type of 0th level.

Is that going to be useful in a "shell out some silvers each day (or deal into a share of the loot) to have around" kind of way?
 

Vespucci

Villager
On languages:

All characters know how to speak Common. A dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, or halfling also speaks a racial language, as appropriate. A character who has an Intelligence bonus at 1st level speaks other languages as well, one extra language per point of Intelligence bonus as a starting character. (d20 SRD - and Trailblazer)

The point that would need to be clarified is which of the clauses underlined takes precedence. IMO, the "at 1st level" is the precise definition, with "as a starting character" being a loose paraphrase. As 0th level characters haven't hit 1st level yet, they don't get the bonus languages, but they do speak Common and their racial language. (Taking the contrary interpretation isn't going to cause your hair to fall out, though it does mean locking certain characters out of their language options from character class.)

After having slept on it, class differentiation is useful for the PCs - they'll need henchmen and hirelings with some additional abilities. Here's a sketch:

Acrobat: Disable Device and Search as class skills, trapfinding, entry into Monk and Rogue. 1st-level PCs, especially in small play groups, will get plenty of use out of these guys.

Dilettante: Bardic spellcaster, light armor proficiency, entry into Bard and bard half-caster. I suspect this will be used more frequently than the Arcane Initiate, but I wouldn't hire him. :p

Fighting Man: Light and medium armor proficiency, shield proficiency, one martial weapon proficiency (any), entry into Barbarian and Fighter. The bread-and-butter of Henchmen and Hirelings.

Guide: Survival as a class skill, Druidic spellcaster, light armor proficiency (hasn't taken a druid's oath yet), shield proficiency, entry into Druid and Ranger. If nobody has Survival, you need a guide. If somebody has Survival, you don't.

Initiate: Clerical spellcaster, light armor proficiency, shield proficiency, martial weapon proficiency in deity's favored weapon, entry into Cleric, Paladin, and any fashionably late clerical spellcasters. Reasonably useful. In some ways a poor man's Fighting Man, but sometimes prepared to work for Salvation instead of silver. :D

Magic User: Spellcraft as a class skill, arcane spellcaster (choose Int or Cha for key attribute - seriously, it doesn't matter), no armor proficiency, no additional weapon proficiencies, entry into Sorcerer, Wizard and their half-casting friends. Minimal use, included for completeness.

0th level characters start play with one outfit and, say, 80gp, almost entirely in gear. They're poor enough to sign on with neophyte adventurers, after all! All of these guys will demand at least 3sp per day, plus incentives. More once the PCs have a history of getting their hirelings killed.
 

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