- Jun 2005 -
19235 Posts

Lucky Power 1: A New Power Source for Easy Play and Advanced Roleplay

In this series of blogs, I am going to introduce a new power source, which is intended to combine easy to understand mechanics with a form of roleplay that I have never seen previously in D&D. The other blogs in this series are:
Lucky Power 1: A New Power Source
Lucky Power 2: Buffoons, the Lucky Strikers
Lucky Power 3: Mascots, the Lucky Leaders
Lucky Power 4: Jinxes, the Lucky Defenders
Lucky Power 5: Savants, the Lucky Controllers
Lucky Power 6: Hybrids and Multiclassing

A common complaint I hear, particularly those who played D&D during the TSR years, is that all of the classes in 4e are very complicated. Every class has powers, and feats, and skill selections. Every round of battle, a character must choose between three or four equally viable and balanced choices. There is no option akin to the Fighting Man, who every round would merely declare “I run up and hit it!”

To me, this is a problem. Creating a character in 4e is a serious investment of time. Even the use of digital tools like the Character Builder only does so much to reduce that time. Sometimes you just want to create a character in a few minutes that is balanced and easy to understand and play. 4e should be able to accommodate this.

At the same time, I’ve been contemplating the separation of character and player knowledge. 4e is a game of abstractions. Hit points are an obvious abstraction, but so are skill DCs, and even daily and encounter powers (for martial characters, particularly). The player knows it is a game and must have the character act is if real. Right now, the separation is moderate. A player knows his character is low on hit points; the character does not know hit points, but knows there is trouble.

I have created four classes, one for each class role, that is both simple to generate and run, but also a challenge to roleplay because it requires an unprecedented amount of separation of player and character knowledge. All four classes belong to a power source called “Luck”.

It’s Better to be Lucky than Good
Some people lead a charmed life. They don’t have any special aptitudes. They aren’t well-trained. They don’t wield arcane or elemental powers. They are not favored by the gods (except perhaps gods of luck, like Avandra). They may not even be literate. But they are lucky. These characters may not think of themselves as special or adventurers. In fact, they may see themselves as cursed, with monsters and traps around every corner. And yet, even though they always appear to be in circumstances over their heads, and surrounded by seemingly more powerful allies whose powers they only dimly comprehend, these characters manage to survive from adventure to adventure, contributing at crucial moments and saving the day. These characters are lucky.

Lucky Inspiration
The lucky character is well-established in literature. These characters are bunglers, demonstrating little if any skill, either an inflated sense of self, or a total lack of self-esteem, a general lack of agility, and, of course, more than a little luck. Some characters from popular culture that exhibit these traits include the Pink Panther’s Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Scooby Doo’s Shaggy, The Lord of the Rings’ Merry and Pippin, DIC Entertainment’s Inspector Gadget, Disney’s Goofy, The Wizard of Oz’ Dorothy Gale, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Arthur Dent, Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, UPA’s Mister Magoo, and, more than occasionally, Homer Simpson.

Lucky Players
A lucky character provides an additional challenge when roleplaying because lucky characters generally do not know that they have any powers. A lucky character will feel hapless and powerless amidst enemies that seem insurmountable and allies who appear godlike to them. However, the player knows the character has powers that keep the character on par with other traditional characters. The challenge of playing a lucky character is keeping player knowledge separate from character knowledge.

Players of lucky characters should reflavor liberally. Lucky characters not only believe themselves to be powerless, but also unskilled, even though lucky characters each have at least three skills in which they are considered trained. A player should feel free to describe the results of their abilities, skills and powers as a result of luck, not skill. A character trained in Arcane need not actively detect magic. He might merely stumble upon the magic sigil. The character with a high Reflex defense is not necessarily dexterous; rather, he stumbles through life, and the obstacles manage to avoid hitting him through sheer luck. DMs and players should cooperate in describing the lucky character’s actions so they match the mechanics but still remain true to the character’s haphazard flavor.

If you prefer to play a more traditional character but still want the simple mechanics of the lucky power source, you’re in luck (so to speak). Each of the lucky classes will contain instructions on how to alter the flavor and mechanics (without overcomplicating matters) so that the class can be played as a more traditional martial or arcane class.

Lucky DMs
Dungeon Masters must work with the player of a lucky character to ensure that the character functions properly. Never has “Say yes” been as important as a DM with a lucky character. DMs should work with the player to devise ways for the manifestation of the lucky PC’s abilities, skills, and powers to appear to be the result of fortune and karma than any inherent skill or learning. Such DMs should be tolerant and creative. However, for an ambitious DM, a lucky character adds a lot of fun and spontaneity to the table.

Lucky Mechanics
Each class of the Luck power source has similar mechanics designed to make them easy to generate and play.

Abilities: Lucky characters choose abilities like everyone else. Thos abilities also advance like everybody else. Charisma will be the primary ability for all lucky characters. Charisma, in this instance, will represent the force that luck plays in the character’s life. Each character will also have a secondary ability that affects their play. When abilities increase with level, it is highly recommended that Charisma and the character’s secondary ability be increased as well.

Skills: Lucky characters do not choose skills. They are each given three skills at which they are considered trained. Additional skills can be added with feats. A character who gains a bonus skill due to race (such as human) may choose any skill in which to be trained. A character who adds a skill to his class skill list with a Background or other mechanic may automatically swap one trained skill with a different skill. Lucky characters cannot retrain Skills using retraining rules.

Feats: Lucky characters are given pre-selected feats at each level. Most of these feats have static bonuses that do not require the need to track contingencies. If a character gains a bonus feat, they may choose any feat for which they are qualified. If they choose a feat the class will obtain at a later level, when that level is achieved, the character may choose any feat for which the character is qualified. Feats, however, can be retrained using the retraining rules. In this way, a player can create a more mechanically complex character if he so chooses.

Powers: Lucky characters do not get any encounter, utility, or daily powers. Rather, a lucky character gets two predetermined at-will powers. (Lucky Powers are called “Knacks”.) They also get a series of minor and major “boosts” and “flourishes” that are applied to these at-will powers as a free action and grant additional benefits and effects. Lucky characters get minor boosts at 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 13th level. Lucky characters get major boosts at 1st, 5th, 9th, and 15th level. Lucky characters may choose a new flourish at 2nd, 6th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 22nd, 26th, and 30th levels. If a character gains an extra at-will due to a racial power, they merely gain an extra minor boost. Flourishes can be retrained as if they were utility powers.

Paths and Destinies: Lucky characters do not choose Paragon Paths or Epic Destinies. Rather, they gain new class features at 11th, 16th, 21st, 24th, and 30th level, which are detailed in the class description.

Hybrids and Multiclassing: Lucky characters require special rules for multiclassing and hybrids. These will be presented in a separate blog after the four classes have been presented.

I know this sounds complicated right now, but do not worry. Once you see the write-up for the individual classes, the easy play of these classes will become clearer. So stay tuned for my next blog, when I introduce the lucky striker: the Buffoon.

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