Saturday, December 7, 2013

Challenge Accepted (sort of): The White Monk Class for ACKS

Okay, so I did a post recently on some quick and easy alternatives for divine classes if you ditched the cleric class.  This was based on some interesting musings on the cleric over at Rachel Bonuses.  But in a response to that (which I totally can't find now to link for you) I was chided for my lack of real creativity in coming up with alternatives to the cleric.  Point taken.  One of the reasons I play Pathfinder is what I call "completeness".  There's so much material already there that you can usually modify or mix-and-match existing stuff to get where you want to go--and then get on with play.

But then I thought that maybe I should take that up as a challenge to create something.  Well unfortunately Pathfinder suffers from the same core problem which has plagued all editions of D&D since the beginning: there are no built-in in mechanics for building stuff.  If you want to make a new class, or magic spell, or monster there are few guidelines.  It's as much an art as a science.  But not so with the retro-clone Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) which I have been perusing of late.  The ACKS Player's Companion includes a great DIY toolkit for making new classes.  So I decided to use this as an opportunity to try making an ACKS class.

But instead of making some sort of cleric substitute, I decided to do a version of a class which has fascinated me for some time: the White Monk from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.  The White Monk is a blend of monk and paladin--not coincidentally one of the classes I proposed for my preferred entries in the upcoming Advanced Class Guide for Pathfinder.

The White Monk for ACKS

Bangaa___FFTA2___by_CrazyCowCo (

So, the first thing with a new ACKS class is that you start with 4 Build Points (BP) which are allocated to the main class characteristics.  I figured one should go into Hit Dice Value because they are a tough melee fighting class, two into Fighting, and finally one into Divine.

So 1 BP into Hit Dice Value buys a d6 for HD per level:

Hit Dice Value:    d6    [1 BP; 500 XP]
HP per level after 9th Level: 2 HP

Then since the White Monk is primarily a melee fighter type, 2 BP into Fighting:

Fighting: 2        [2 BP; 750 XP]

And that led to some modifications of the characteristics for Fighting 2 because a monk is a specialized type of fighter:

Attack Throws    Weapons    Armor        Styles    DamBonus    Cleaves        XP Cost
+2/3 levels         Restricted*    Forbidden    2**    +1/3 levels    1/level          1000
*Weapons: claw-weapons (see below); dart,bolas, net
**Basic Style: claw-weapons; dart, bolas, net

Reducing the Weapons by 3 buys 3 custom powers, reducing the armor by 3 buys 4 custom powers, and reducing the styles by 1 buys 1 custom power, for a total of 8 custom powers (which we'll get to in a moment)

Because the White Monk is a holy type, I put my final BP into Divine (I put no BP into into Thievery or Arcane).

Divine: 1        [1 BP; XP 250]Divine 1 allows the class to cast spells as a cleric of half current level, with a spell list of 5 spells per level; I also eliminated the Turn Undead ability, which bought another custom power

Saving Throws: as Cleric (since it's a holy class concept)

Prime Requisite: CON (monks should be tough)

Now came the tricky part: the custom powers.  From my not-necessarily-correct calculations above I came up with a total of 9 custom powers.  Since some of the custom powers are actually essentially proficiencies used as class abilities I skipped ahead to throw together a set of 28 proficiencies (a standard amount) selected from the Cleric and Fighter lists and then put together a list of candidate custom powers which avoided duplicating anything in the proficiency list.  So far, so good.  However, there is a very non-intuitive chart which allows you to trade off  taking skills at a certain level (this section confusingly uses "skill" and "power" interchangeably) in exchange for more skills at higher levels.  For instance you can trade one initial skill to gain one skill at 5th and another at 9th, or one skill at 10th level for one each at 12th and 13th.  I found this trade-off chart both helpful and confusing.  But here's how my calculations and powers for the class's levels came out:

With 9 custom powers to start (from calculations above), then some trade-offs:
-1 initial skill to gain 1 skill at 2nd and 1 skill at 12th level
-1 initial skill to gain 1 skill at 3rd and 1 skill at 11th level
-1 initial skill to gain 1 skill at 4th and 1 skill at 10th level
-1 initial skill to gain 1 skill at 5th and 1 skill at 9th level
-1 initial skill to gain 1 skill at 6th and 1 skill at 8th level

Selecting powers appropriate to the class and allocating them to the levels results in:
1    Flesh-Runes (counts as 3 skills), Aura of Protection
2    Arcane Striking
3    Meditative Focus
4    Initiative
5    Lay on Hands
6    Spell Storing
8    Blade Dancing
9    Battlefield Prowess
10  Savage Resilience
11  Resistant to Illusion
12  Longevity

Proficiencies: (28, drawn from Fighter and Cleric)
Acrobatics, Alertness, Battle Magic, Berserkergang, Blind Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (force back, overrun, sunder), Command, Contemplation, Divine Blessing, Divine Health, Dungeon Bashing, Endurance, Healing, Intimidation, Knowledge (philosophy), Laying on Hands, Leadership, Manual of Arms, Martial Training (darts/bolas/nets), Prophecy, Running, Sensing Evil, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling, Theology, Unflappable Casting, Weapon Focus

Then the spell lists.  Putting 1 BP into Divine allows casting as if a cleric of half that level.  By my inexpert reckonings that comes out to:

Spell Lists (from the Cleric lists)
1st Level Spells (gained at 4th level)

Cure Light Wounds
Detect Magic
Protection from Evil
Resist Cold

2nd Level Spells (gained at 8th level)
Hold Person
Resist Fire
Spiritual Weapon

3rd Level Spells (gained at 12th level)
Cure Disease
Feign Death
Remove Curse
Speak with Dead

 Each class gets a stronghold.  The chart for this makes it clear that you go with the class in which you have the most build points.  The White Monk, being a divine type really should have Fortified Church (monastery), but instead must do with a Castle instead.  It's not a big deal, but doesn't feel right for the class.  So I'll just rename the castle a "Fortified Monastery".

Stronghold Type: Fortified Monastery (Castle)

XP Per Level
So now we calculate XP per level for advancement using the base costs from Hit Dice Value (500 XP), Fighting (750 XP), and Divine (250 XP):
1    0
2    1,500
3    3,000
4    6,000
5    12,000
6    24,000
7    50,000 <-- rounded up to 50,000 from 48,000 according to the smoothing rule
8    100,000
9    120,000
10    120,000
11    120,000
12    120,000
13    120,000
14    120,000

White Monk Special Weapons
White Monks primarily use hand techniques (punches) and have developed a set of weapons worn like gloves with claws on them to use with these techniques.  There are also magic versions of these unique weapons.
Hard Knuckles    1d4
Cat Claws            1d6 (requires extra training at Level 3)
Tiger Claws         1d8 (requires extra training at Level 7)
Dragon Claws    1d10 (requires extra training at Level 10)

Holy Claw Weapons
01-40  Cat Claws +1
41-45  Cat Claws +1, constant Resist Cold on wearer
46-50  Cat Claws +1, constant Resist Fire on wearer
51-55  Cat Claws +1, of Striking
55-60  Cat Claws +1, can cast Cure Light Wounds on wearer once per day
61-64  Cat or Tiger Claws +2
65-68  Cat or Tiger Claws +2, constant Resist Cold on wearer
69-72  Cat or Tiger Claws +2, constant Resist Fire on wearer
73-76  Cat or Tiger Claws +2, of Striking
77-80  Cat or Tiger Claws +2, can cast Spritual Weapon once per day
81-84  Cat or Tiger Claws +2, can cast Cure Light Wounds on wearer twice per day
85-88  Cat or Tiger or Dragon Claws +3
89-91  Tiger or Dragon Claws +3, of Striking
92-94  Tiger or Dragon Claws +3, constant Resist Cold and Fire on wearer
95-97  Tiger or Dragon Claws +3, can cast Spritual Weapon three times per day
98-100 Tiger or Dragon Claws +3, can cast Cure Light Wounds on wearer twice per day

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