Level Up (A5E) (+) Project Chronicle: Class Conceits and Narrative Role

Steampunkette

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I have known Fighting Men of good character. I have fought Murderers. I have known Sorcerers who try to conquer nations, and I have loved a quiet Enchantress who used magic to make her home beautiful. I have been to the City of Thieves and seen ancient traps and locks to make their eyes grow teary for frustration. And I have known many Priests, of cloth and of hook, of sword and blood. But never in my time, wandering this world of ours, have I know one such as you, until now.

I tremble to learn what paths you will walk as you grow.

-The Chronicler-

So here comes some -trouble-! Classes. D&D has very specific class identities for most classes, and little room to wiggle thanks to their strict mechanical separation. But what happens when that mechanical separation doesn't have a particularly strong basis for a setting?

I'm currently looking at cutting out a bunch of classes. Or heavily -heavily- refluffing them... Wanna get some opinions on it, of course.

Artificer: Torn on this one pretty hard. They'd make an excellent Inventor archetype? Could also be a nice Stand-In for a full Psionic class. Non-Musical Jack of all Trades, too. Someone who picks up a little bit of lots of things.
Barbarians: In. They're great Non-Magical Corruption-Fodder with their rages.
Bards: In. Magical Music and Storytelling are important. Scheherazade didn't survive on her looks alone, after all.
Cleric: In as Priests. Strip away their armor proficiencies, give them Monk AC Buff. Strip away any Bladed Weapons from them except for the War domain Priest.
Druid: In as the Beast's Priests. Largely keep them as they are but acknowledge that most of them are evil or at least antithetical to Civilization.
Fighter: In.
Monk: Temple-Defenders, possibly? Otherwise cut 'em out.
Paladin: Temple-Defenders, possibly? MAYBE as unique "Divinely Inspired" heroes? Otherwise cut 'em out.
Ranger: Refluff to Psionic Warrior, maybe... or try to Beastmaster them? Otherwise cut 'em out.
Rogue: In.
Sorcerer: We're only going to need one Arcane Caster to be the "Big Boy" caster... It's either Sorc or Wizard.
Warlock: In. Though possibly refluffed into a "Mage" type character as noted in a recent thread? Could be nifty. Otherwise they could be an "Evil-Only" class making pacts with Dark Powers and flinging themselves into Corruption and Transformation without hesitation.
Wizard: Samesies with Sorcerer.

KibblesTastyPsion: Possibly in. Though in retrospect I might cut Psionics from the setting altogether. There's not really a significant -need- for Psychics, here, where it really is a core conceit of Athas...

Compilation of Project Chronicle Links: Project Chronicle: Master List - The Homebrewery
 
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Thunder Brother

God Learner
For Paladins, an idea I had for my own homebrew setting was to flavor them as initiated members of what is essentially a hero cult. So their oath is based upon them following the example of a venerated ancestor from the past, like Heracles or Perseus. So, like a paladin, they are able to incarnate a small portion of their ancestor's power through sheer willpower, so long as they live their lives in their ancestor's image; slaying monsters, accomplishing great deeds, helping the helpless, going on adventures, destroying and pillaging.
 

Sorcerer: We're only going to need one Arcane Caster to be the "Big Boy" caster... It's either Sorc or Wizard.
Wizard: Samesies with Sorcerer.
How do you see magic working in the setting? Ritualistic and Formulaic? Or something that sings in the blood and that someone can be born with an affinity for fire for example, and be able to twist and control it intuitively?
 

Steampunkette

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For Paladins, an idea I had for my own homebrew setting was to flavor them as initiated members of what is essentially a hero cult. So their oath is based upon them following the example of a venerated ancestor from the past, like Heracles or Perseus. So, like a paladin, they are able to incarnate a small portion of their ancestor's power through sheer willpower, so long as they live their lives in their ancestor's image; slaying monsters, accomplishing great deeds, helping the helpless, going on adventures, destroying and pillaging.
That's basically my thoughts toward "Unique Paladins". No orders, no serious grouping. Just a Hero in the world. Like Hercules or Gilgamesh or whomever manifesting godly power.
How do you see magic working in the setting? Ritualistic and Formulaic? Or something that sings in the blood and that someone can be born with an affinity for fire for example, and be able to twist and control it intuitively?
Ritualistic more than anything. Lots of ritual trappings like Sorcery in Conan or other S&S type settings. But probably not formulaic, either. Magic isn't a bunch of carefully researched math of the universe, it's a quasi-intuitive and representational form of magic. It works because "if magic existed that would probably work". Like Voodoo Dolls and ritual sacrifices for power, or using magic to turn a Statue into a Living Monster. Imagery being more important than a series of specific gestures.
 

I think if this is an A5E setting, we should try to include all of the classes and make them work. This is a completely fresh world, and with some of your lore, we can easily fit in Monks and both Sorcerers and Wizards.

Wizards are THE Chronicler. They don't study in the open or in towers, but they travel, learning knowledge, studying the past, seeing what corruption does, and make their spells based off of their insights and their research. They chronicle everything that they see in their spellbooks and by coming to understand the patterns in creation through which magic and power flows they create powerful spells that risk corruption too. Make a Chronicler Wizard subclass and easy.

Monks are those who have seen corruption and who fight it within themselves. Monks believe that through an internal power called ki, or life, they are capable of rebuking Corruption and surviving the terrible world in which they live. Different orders of these monks study in the savanna, making cabals underneath the sun or in the shades of boa trees, becoming in tune with the world and by doing so understanding their own ki better. Then they use this ki to root corruption out of their flesh, and to fight back against their many foes.

Paladins survive because this is a world where people need hope. An oath is a powerful thing; it is said that an oath can keep back Corruption, and that by keeping a true oath in your mind that you are able to rebuke evil and remain whole. So, Paladins sometimes appear who make these oaths and believe in them with such conviction that they raise to a new class. Many become temple-defenders, but other unique Paladins appear too, where they serve as rolemodels in society that many a cruel tyrant wishes to expunge and humiliate.
 

Steampunkette

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I think if this is an A5E setting, we should try to include all of the classes and make them work. This is a completely fresh world, and with some of your lore, we can easily fit in Monks and both Sorcerers and Wizards.

Wizards are THE Chronicler. They don't study in the open or in towers, but they travel, learning knowledge, studying the past, seeing what corruption does, and make their spells based off of their insights and their research. They chronicle everything that they see in their spellbooks and by coming to understand the patterns in creation through which magic and power flows they create powerful spells that risk corruption too. Make a Chronicler Wizard subclass and easy.

Monks are those who have seen corruption and who fight it within themselves. Monks believe that through an internal power called ki, or life, they are capable of rebuking Corruption and surviving the terrible world in which they live. Different orders of these monks study in the savanna, making cabals underneath the sun or in the shades of boa trees, becoming in tune with the world and by doing so understanding their own ki better. Then they use this ki to root corruption out of their flesh, and to fight back against their many foes.

Paladins survive because this is a world where people need hope. An oath is a powerful thing; it is said that an oath can keep back Corruption, and that by keeping a true oath in your mind that you are able to rebuke evil and remain whole. So, Paladins sometimes appear who make these oaths and believe in them with such conviction that they raise to a new class. Many become temple-defenders, but other unique Paladins appear too, where they serve as rolemodels in society that many a cruel tyrant wishes to expunge and humiliate.
I often find Monks to be too Orientalist. Using fragments of Eastern Philosophy and hokey names for various class features just feels prickly for me. That's the only reason I suggested either Temple Defenders or cut altogether. Giving them a focus on "Ki/Life Energy/Chi" just really slams into that frustrating aspect for me.

If Wizards are Chroniclers, then what are Sorcerers and Warlocks? Therein lies the trouble. You wind up with too many classes trying to jump into the same bandwagon of identity. And the only real differences between them are mechanics that you need to come up with an excuse to shoehorn into the setting.

Overall, though... I think you might be right that we -have- to get all these classes into the setting to showcase A5e's design philosophies and how they can each interact with Sword and Sorcery. Loathe as I am to admit it...

So... Here's my thoughts on making them all fit. Thankfully there's some changes in A5e...

Adept: Thankfully they got rid of the "Ki" focus for A5e Monks and went with the generic Exertion mechanic that Fighters, Rangers, and Warlords all use. I'm still fairly against setting them up in Monasteries outside of the communities or under trees doing breathing exercises and trying to "Center Themselves". Temple Defenders works well for them, I think, to keep them in a religious sort of position. Though I could also see a whole Gladiatorial style built around unarmed combat for brutal ring fighters. So that could also be an option.

Rangers: A5e takes their Magic so they're pretty much just exploration-centric fighters. They don't really have much niche in any setting except as slightly less combat-competent fighters who travel and track "Real Good". Bounty Hunters, perhaps? Maybe a general-purpose Detective type role... call 'em Judges and set 'em loose with the Rules of Hammurabi and it'd be an interesting time?

Sorcerers: If Wizards are Chroniclers then Sorcerers are wicked spellcasters, by and large. Rather than go out and gather all kinds of information they're descended of Corrupt Bloodlines which have been tainted by the Witch's touch... Though they can always rebel against their family "Curse" essentially. Strive to be better than their forebears? Could also touch on characters like Elora Dannon from Willow. Characters destined from birth to have great power, and great tribulations...

Warlock: Either the Mage suggestion or absolutely -drenched- in corruption. Not sure there's any middle ground for them.

Heralds: Without the weight of Paladinly orders as a concept, the Herald could be anything from a servant of the gods to one of their wayward children. Still definitely leaning away from having any kind of organization for Heralds, and having them be lone and unique examples of heroics... Or villainy.

Warlord: Works just fine.
 

As a practicing Buddhist (which influenced a lot of Asian mysticism), I've found that the belief in "Ki" to be a pretty global belief. The Mesoamericans called it tonalli, the heat of the blood, and by keeping it in balance and cultivating it, they believed they could work sorceries and empower the teotl (gods) through blood sacrifice. A different direction of Ki, but ultimately the same concept — life force.

So, while you don't have to keep the East Asian aesthetics to it, the concept itself is ubiquitous. You see it in Haitian Voudoun as well (where they use passion instead of ki or tonalli), through many forms of African mysticism, and also in the Middle East (both pre- and post-Islam). So, I think the idea of the trees, the shade, the will of life, fighting against corruption, etc, and internal power isn't something that you should consider only an East Asian invention, and that you can pretty easily divest the monk of those stereotypes and move it into new territory.
 

Steampunkette

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While I recognize that a lot of different cultural traditions do deal in the idea of there being a form of life energy, there's no tradition that does:

Ki-Empowered Strikes
Deflect Missiles
Stunning Strikes
Stillness of Mind
Purity of Body
Tongue of the Sun and Moon
Diamond Soul
Timeless Body
Empty Body
Perfect Self.

Ki is just one aspect of my overall problem with the monk class as a concept, which is largely in how the western world slathered some orientalism onto unarmed fighters.

Fortunately, A5e did some changes. The only core class trait they've got to take that holds that kind of ... weight (that we know of) is Empty Mind at 7th. (They've only shown the first 10 levels so far)

That said, they've still got Pressure Point Secrets, Hooked Sword Dance, and Water Walk as Foci and Knacks so it's not perfect... still better, overall.

To be 100% Clear: I'm not saying anyone is "bad" for liking Monks as they exist in 5e or any previous edition of D&D/Pathfinder/Whatever. Nor for liking A5e's Adepts or the various flavorings of their class abilities and optional class abilities. It's just something that makes me, personally, uncomfortable. And if I'm going to be putting it into a setting I'm writing I'm gonna change the narrative to be less uncomfortable for me as a writer.
 

I haven't read the Adept yet, so I guess I need to give it a reason :eek: I don't want to come up with ideas for Chronicle that don't use the exact class fluff or spin upon it.
 

Steampunkette

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Part of the playtest describes the Archetypes of the Adept:
Archetypes
We’ll talk more about archetypes later, but the adept comes with archetypes which cover a range of character types, including the classic warrior-monk of O5E, the brawler, and an Olympian-style athlete.
So while the classic Warrior-Monk is an option, there's also a range of other options.

Frustratingly, however, there's an intense focus on "Your Master" in the class's initial description content. So even Olympic Athletes have Masters, I guess? And "Walk the path of Perfection" as well...

That said... we do have a unique opportunity on these boards to speak with the head of the team himself.

Hey, @Morrus! What are your thoughts on this S&S setting specifically using Adepts outside of the Fighting-Monk style, as well as Wizards who are Chroniclers of reality rather than tower-dwelling librarians who spend their time in laboratories after years of study under older and more experienced Wizards?
 

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