Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Classes: Paladins

The Classes- Paladins
Sword of the Solar, Flail of the Fiend

Despite the awesome power the gods once wielded, rarely did they dirty their hands in dealing with their foes.  Where their clerics were often charged with educating and protecting the layfolk, each god also maintained private armies of holy warriors- commonly referred to as paladins- to execute their will in a more direct fashion.  Each was a credit to their faith; a soldier with neither fear nor peer, righting wrongs the world over with the literal blessing of their god.

Of course, that was a very long time ago.

Today, this ideal is best relegated to the annals of history, the tallest tales of bards, or the drunken ramblings of tavern regulars.  This is not to say that paladins do not exist, for they most certainly do- but they are almost universally reviled as pitiable and broken figures, carts put before dead horses.  Although it has been argued that the Shattered Pantheon has left paladins behind for a reason, no one seems to know what it might be.  None, that is, save for the paladins themselves, who will without exception angrily turn upon their detractor- be they clueless historian, degenerate jongleur, or hopeless drunkard- and explain in no uncertain terms exactly what is wrong with the world.

Paladins are born with the ability to look into another person’s soul with but a gaze, but it is a mixed blessing at best as the flaws in a person’s character play across their features in a dream-like vision.  While minor transgressions can be embarrassing or amusing- an ever-shifting and colorful array of love bites and smears of rouge along a philanderer’s neck, for example- greater ones have been known to drive men mad.  How long can one stand to see the bloody fingerprints their beloved and mysteriously widowed uncle leaves on everything he touches, or the oily smoke that escapes the lips of a gossipy older sister whose malicious slander has destroyed lives?  Some paladins instead see elements of a weakness they despise in others instead of past sins.  One who disdains charity might see a generous benefactor grow thinner and weaker with every donation they make to the poor, while a zealously free spirit might view a particularly well-organized and sober clerk might as being literally bound by the fetters of his daily routine.  No matter what a paladin sees in someone, they unilaterally feel compelled to do something about it.  Although the gods molder in their graves, those who would have been their warriors continue to fight for their ideals.

Due to the nature of a paladin’s visions, their roles within a society can easily transcend religious lines.  In fact, it is the least religious of the races that have the greatest respect for paladins.  Dwarven and Shuu specimens use their second sight to focus less on righting specific wrongs and more on ensuring that their respective communities remain free of what they see as disruptive elements, sometimes through lecture or negotiation, sometimes through ritual combat to the death.  Naturally, these paladins downplay the popular theory surrounding the source of their abilities, with dwarves viewing it as a source of embarrassment, and what few true elven paladins that deign to have conversation with other races growing angry and violent.  On the other end of this spectrum, halfling paladins eagerly play up the possibility that their abilities may be divine in nature, and often work actively with the clerical leaders of halfling society to nurture and inspire their people.  Half-orc and half-elven paladins often find that their abilities reinforce the fact that they are different from those around them, and while they usually adopt the viewpoint of the society that raised them, they also sometimes take up one that is diametrically opposed if only to rebel.  Common elven, half-dragon and human paladins are the most conflicted with respect to their abilities, as their societies have the biggest issues with the existence gods and the nature of their demise.  They either zealously embrace or utterly deny their abilities, and are very much responsible for the stereotype of the paladin as a judgmental and aimless wanderer, leaping into action only at the most inopportune and dramatic of times but with often with spectacular results. 

Because of their monochromatic worldview, paladins find most other classes wanting in some way.  Barbarians are reliably destructive but hard to direct towards useful ends, and there will always be more than a few bards and rogues that simply register as wrong in a paladin’s sight, no matter what offends them.  Those that dedicate themselves to a higher purpose, such as clerics, monks and druids, are either boon companions or bitter enemies depending on what ideals they follow.  Wizards, sorcerers and fighters are scrutinized as much as any, but tend to be viewed as individuals more so than a class.  In an adventuring party, paladins are ill-suited to leadership roles unless the party is working directly towards the paladin’s goals.  Instead, paladins excel as advisors to said leaders, using their abilities to weed out those who might not gel with the party(or themselves) on matters of morals or ethics.  It is important to note that paladins do not need to actively use their abilities to sense another paladin- they recognize each other on sight, and either greet each other warmly or attack one another viciously.

Paladin Traits:

As listed in the SRD save as follows.

Aura:  Paladins project an aura directly related to one part of their alignment.  Once the choice is made, it is permanent and always 'on'.  Neutral paladins can project any aura they wish with respect to their neutrality, but it functions as an aura projected by a paladin three levels lower, and they still cannot project an aura of an alignment opposing their own where applicable.  

Detect:  A Paladin's ability to detect an offending alignment functions within the parameters of the wizard and cleric spells of the same name, but are eternally ‘on’, and the paladin cannot turn them off(although this does not interfere with sleeping, eating or similar activities, no matter how disturbing).  The player should work with the DM to choose exactly what form their detect ability takes, whether visual (for example, detect law shows lawful people wrapped in chains, or detect good has good individuals giving off a blindingly bright light), olfactory (people of offending alignment smell bad, or perhaps all too savory), or auditory (evil people are eternally giving a litany of their sins that only the paladin can hear).  It is of the utmost importance that these abilities do not cause disruption to fellow players or the person running the game. 

Smite: A paladin's smite is an extraordinary ability that allows a character to add their paladin level to their attack modifier and damage dealt for a number of rounds equal to their Charisma modifier against the alignment the paladin detects as noted above.  As a paladin gains levels, their smiting surge gains more abilities: adding half their level to either their AC or initiative modifier at level 5, and finally their Charisma modifier to either their AC or initiative modifier at level 10.

Code of Conduct:  A paladin that moves one "step" away from their alignment with respect to their aura uses ALL of their abilities- save for detection of an offending alignment- as if they were 3 levels lower. A paladin that "falls" by moving more than one step away from their alignment with respect to their aura loses all of their abilities save for detection and gains a derangement- the player and DM should come to an agreement beforehand regarding what is and what is not acceptable and appropriate for both the character and the game.  An ex-paladin is likely a miserable person, and they will do everything they can to attempt to atone, usually with the help of a cleric that matches their original alignment, or lives in exile, far away from other people.

Associates: A paladin will be extremely ill at ease around people whose moral or ethical code they cannot abide, but can work with them for brief intervals in the face of a larger problem(under direct attack from a creature with an HD greater than the paladin's level, or passive opposition by someone or something that the paladin has solid evidence and reason to believe that a temporary alliance with an offending individual or group will allow them to overcome, for example), but will then turn on their former ally/allies as soon as the situation has been resolved.  An associate or associates who undergoes a genuine change in alignment while working with the paladin to the point that they no longer offend the paladin is exempt from this seeming betrayal.

Paladin's Mount: A paladin's mount looks like a particularly hale and robust animal associated with a god that matches the paladin's alignment. 

Paladin Alignment
Available Auras
Lawful Good
Good, Law
Chaos, Evil
Neutral Good
Good; Law or Chaos @ -3 lvl
Evil, Chaos, Law
Chaotic Good
Chaos, Good
Evil, Law
Lawful Neutral
Law; Good or Evil @ -3 lvl
Chaos, Good, Evil
True Neutral
Any @ -3 lvl
Chaotic Neutral
Chaos; Good or Evil -3 lvl
Law, Good, Evil
Lawful Evil
Law, Evil
Chaos, Good
Neutral Evil
Evil; Law or Chaos -3 lvl
Good, Chaos, Law
Chaotic Evil
Chaos, Evil
Good, Law

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Classes: Monks

Many Paths, One Fist

The people of Wune have had to defend themselves from their enemies long before the hammer and anvil were invented. Most were content to keep predators at bay with torches and simple tools pressed into service as makeshift weapons, and wild animals soon learned to fear and avoid those who wielded them. For some, this was not enough. Not all predators walked on four legs, and although true warfare was in its infancy, the use of force to take what one wanted was not. These few chose to hone their natural weapons- fists, feet, elbows, knees and reflexes- until they were a match for the primitive spears and rough blades used by their contemporaries. As iron would be tempered into steel and crude instruments were transformed into true arms and armor, so too did those that largely eschewed them refine their techniques to keep up with advances in combat. Over the course of centuries of evolution, dozens of war-monasteries- informally referred to as Traditions- were born.

Although it is highly regarded among their people, few True Elves have the time or inclination to study the intricacies of ritual hand to hand combat. Several simple yet ruthlessly effective styles have instead found great popularity with their half-human get, who find it is one of the few ways to gain respect within such an insular society. Common Elves jealously hold on to these arts as one of the few keepsakes of their heritage, and masters are paid handsomely to train the children of the affluent. Non-elven students are accepted as well, albeit at truly exorbitant rates. Either in imitation or innovation, humans have produced more Traditions than any other race on Wune. Few of these styles last more than a generation or three, but the most popular have become so widespread they are no longer styles that can be considered indicative of humanity alone, with scores of practitioners of all races across the land.

Half Orcs rarely possess the mental discipline to become Traditional monks. However, their orc brethren often force them to learn the basics of a particularly brutal style of wrestling that revolves around forcing ones opponent onto the ground and tearing out their throat. Universally dismissed as primitive and savage, its half-orc practitioners argue that there is in fact a very complex formality surrounding the sport, and that the grisly fatalities that do occur result more from ignorance on the part of the deceased than the victor’s blood-thirst. In contrast, the respect for strength and reverence for hierarchy common to many Half Dragons meshes well with the teacher-student format of the Traditions. Unfortunately, few follow this path for a great length of time as the disparity between their physical gifts and those of their instructor eventually becomes too great for their draconic instincts to ignore, and an impromptu duel with the student “accidentally” dispatching the master is a tragically common occurrence.

Despite their admiration for the ascetic lifestyle espoused by most Traditions, few dwarves study under monks. As a people, they love the forge too much to abandon its offerings to the extent this class does. Halflings also respect monks as people, but on the whole find their lifestyle far too boring to ever emulate it. Still, there are individual members of these races who wish to take their prowess with the preferred weapons of their people to new heights. These zealots train with a dedication equal to that of any monk, although their occasionally boorish attitude with respect to other races alienates many and embarrasses their kin.

Although their alignment and skill set are often defined by the monastery that trained them, there is no such thing as the “average” monk. Even disciples that trained at the same location can take very different approaches to life’s challenges. For example, one could be a simple healer apt at defending himself without weapons, while another student he trained with might roam the world as a hired assassin with a smattering of herb lore that adds a veneer of legitimacy to his income. While either would be welcome in adventuring fellowships, monks primarily join parties when they wish to accomplish something they feel they cannot complete on their own. It is up to the individual monk to determine their role in a party, but on the whole monks prefer to keep people who can do things they cannot in their company. Magic users of all sorts are the most desired in this sense, although monks rarely enjoy being the beneficiary of non-healing magics, preferring instead to trust in their own abilities. Fellow warriors are welcome companions as well, but only if the monk is certain that said warrior is possessed of greater skill than they themselves possess. Evil and chaotic monks cannot be bothered to protect those that cannot protect themselves, while lawful and even good monks would rather learn from those around them than be forced to save them when trouble crops up.

Monk Traits:

As described in the SRD.

DM’s Option: The Traditions

The fighting styles referenced in the above article can be implemented in game by making a few changes to the base Monk entry in the SRD.

The Old Way

This acrobatic style of fighting revolves around using deceptively slow movements to get past an enemy’s guard to strike at their weak points, disabling without killing. Originally created by the Shuu as a way to peacefully settle disputes; it is better suited for duels as opposed to mass combat due to its emphasis on creating negative status effects. Influences include Aikido and Ba Kua/Pa Kua/Baguazhang.

Alignment: Any Neutral


Weapon Proficiency: Crossbow, Hand axe, Javelin; Flurry of Blows, Ki Strike (all), Unarmored Speed Bonus, Greater Flurry, Quivering Palm at level 15.


Stunning Fist at level 1(see below), Quivering Palm at level 10

Stunning Fist- Monks trained in this style receive Stunning Fist as a class ability at first level. It functions in all ways like the feat except that every four levels the monk can choose another status in addition to Stunned. The conditions available are Blinded, Deafened, Confused, Fatigued, Exhausted (monk must already have Fatigued, which this condition replaces), Nauseated, or Sickened (monk must already have Nauseated, which this condition replaces). The afflicted individual must make a save for each condition that the monk inflicts, and all conditions end on the monk’s next round as per the feat.

Class Skills:
Balance, Diplomacy, Heal, Jump, Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (any other than religion) Listen, Spot, Sense Motive, Tumble

Bonus Feats:
Level 1: Dodge or Improved Initiative
Level 2: Snatch Arrows or Combat Expertise
Level 6: Improved Feint or Improved Trip

The Empty Hand

One of the more popular fighting styles on Wune, this style transforms its practitioners into living weapons. It is unparalleled at dealing raw damage to both living creatures and objects. Unfortunately, the punishing training takes its toll on the body and the style lacks many of the esoteric abilities associated with more introspective Traditions. Influences include Kyokushin(kai) Karate and Krav Maga.

Alignment: Any Lawful


All Weapon Proficiencies, Unarmed Damage for Medium sized creatures (or Small sized creatures if monk is Small), Abundant Step, Ki Strike(Magic) at level 4, Purity of Body at level 5, Ki Strike (Lawful) at level 10, Diamond Body at level 11, Diamond Soul, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, Timeless Body, Empty Body, and Ki Strike(Adamantine) at level 16.


Unarmed Damage for a Large monk if monk is Medium (or for a Medium monk if monk is Small), Improved Sunder at level 1, Ki Strike(Magic) at level 2, Ki Strike(Lawful) at level 6, Purity of Body OR Diamond Body at level 7, Ki Strike(Adamantine) at level 12, Wholeness of Body at level 14.

Note: A monk trained in this style cannot choose to have damage from Quivering Palm take place up to a week in the future. It takes place immediately.

Class Skills:

Balance, Climb, Heal, Intimidate, Jump, Tumble

Bonus Feats:

Level 1: Great Fortitude or Iron Will
Level 2: Power Attack or Stunning Fist
Level 6: Diehard or Improved Critical- Unarmed Strike


Orc wrestling only sees regular practice in the areas they claim as their own. Few non-orcs are capable of truly mastering this style due to their lack of tusks. Influences include Pankration and Vale Tudo.

Alignment: Any non-Lawful


Unarmed Strike, Ki Strike(all), Flurry of Blows, Wholeness of Body, Improved Evasion, Slow Fall, Abundant Step, Greater Flurry, Diamond Soul, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, Quivering Palm, Empty Body, Perfect Self.


Unarmed Strike (see below), Improved Grapple at Level 1, Unarmed Strike (see below), Ki Strike (Magic) at level 6, Ki Strike (Adamantine) at level 12 (see below).

Unarmed Strike: This style of fighting is based on grappling. When in normal melee combat, a monk trained in this style only deals subdual damage as normal when fighting unarmed. The increased unarmed damage associated with this class is only done when the monk is in a grapple, and represents the monk biting their opponent. Character that lacks a natural bite attack cannot do this improved damage, however they can do lethal damage (as they still have teeth) while within a grapple without a penalty to the attack roll.

Ki Strike: The Ki Strike class ability associated with this style refers to the vicious biting that practitioners use in grapples. If a character with levels in this class that studies this style lacks a bite attack, then they cannot use this special ability.

Class Skills:
Balance, Climb, Diplomacy/Intimidate*, Escape Artist, Survival, Tumble

* The points put into the Intimidate skill represent the complex ritualized/formalized style of almost non-verbal communication within the art. It is considered Diplomacy for those who have levels in this style, and Intimidation for those who do not.

Bonus Feats:

Level 1: Improved Unarmed Strike or Weapon Focus- Bite
Level 2: Mobility or Toughness
Level 6: Spring Attack (when initiating unarmed attacks or grapples only) or Improved Critical- Bite


Admiring the discipline of the monk but not their affinity for unarmed combat, some decide to focus their skill on a particular weapon. Among the Second Races, this is either an exotic or racial weapon. They channel their abilities through their chosen weapon, without which they must rely on more mundane abilities. Influences include Bartitsu, Escrima and Tojutsu.

Alignment: Any.

Race: If a racial weapon is chosen, the monk must be of the same race.


All Weapon Proficiencies, Unarmed Damage, Purity of Body, Wholeness of Body, Diamond Body, Diamond Soul, Timeless Body, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, Perfect Self


Weapon Proficiency in any one exotic or racial weapon.

Class Skills: Craft, Jump, Knowledge (any), Knowledge (metals) Perform, Profession(smith), Spot, Tumble

Bonus Feats:

Level 1: Weapon Focus (chosen weapon) OR Improved Disarm
Level 2: Weapon Specialization (chosen weapon) OR Improved Initiative
Level 6: Greater Weapon Focus (chosen weapon) OR Improved Trip


Although they skilled herbalists and alchemists, the members of this perhaps misleadingly named tradition are most famously known and zealously sought out for their ability to heal even grievous injuries without the use of magic by tapping into the natural energies of the humanoid body. Naturally, good apothecaries use their abilities to heal, while evil ones usually become assassins par excellence. Although they are highly skilled, there are other styles that possess more potent offensive and defensive abilities. Influences include Fong Sei Yuk, Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Ninjitsu.

Alignment: Any

Remove: Slow Fall (all past 30 feet), Ki Strike (Lawful), Ki Strike (Adamantine) AC Bonus, Speed Bonus (all past 20 feet), Improved Evasion, Greater Flurry, Wholeness of Body at level 7, Diamond Body at level 11, Abundant Step at level 12.

Add: Wholeness of Body at level 1 (see below), Diamond Body at level 7, Abundant Step at level 9.

Wholeness of Body- A monk trained in this style can use the Wholeness of Body special ability to heal others. This is done simply through skin to skin contact and a potentially lengthy period of meditation, as it heals but a single point of damage per round. Despite this, a healing session counts as a single use of the special ability for that day as if the monk were healing themselves.

Class Skills: Balance, Climb, Concentration, Heal, Hide, Jump, Knowledge (Arcana), Move Silently, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, Swim, Tumble

Bonus Feats:

Level 1: Skill Focus (Heal) or Self Sufficient
Level 2: Blind Fight or Diehard
Level 6: Stunning Fist

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Classes: Fighters

Masters of War

To a smith, the sound of the forge is the pleasant song of honest labor. To a fighter, it is the stirring anthem of war itself. It is the promise that an empty hand will soon be filled with some tool of their trade- an axe, a sword, or a shield. Usually stoic in the face of those who mock them as unsophisticated or crude, the fighter can’t help but shake their head and smile when battle is joined and their detractors are left shaking in their boots with soiled smallclothes- if they survive at all. There will always be situations where grim steel is preferable to fickle diplomacy, and in those situations it is the fighter who is the first to step forward.

The life of a professional swordsman, elite mercenary, private bodyguard, or whatever title a fighter chooses to go by is dangerous but simple, and likewise calls to rough men and women who enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Some revel in creature comforts like fine wine and glittering jewels, others take satisfaction in the quiet assurance that they can choose any seat in any tavern. Perhaps it is because they are so doggedly uncomplicated that fighters are often sterling examples of both the best and worse their people have to offer. Dwarven fighters- who are renowned for their numbers just as much as their skill- are at once noble and avaricious, elven fighters graceful and arrogant, halfling fighters cheerful and vigilant to the point of paranoia, half elven fighters adaptable and cruel, half dragons and half orcs proud and brutal, and human specimens open-minded yet prone to acts of almost casual violence. It is here that a fighter’s personal ethos steps in to determine where they fall between these two extremes and define them as individuals. Evil fighters believe their abilities naturally put them in a position of authority over those weaker than themselves; chaotic evil fighters feel that they are doing others a favor by suffering their existence at all. Good characters are not so much concerned with controlling others as they are with protecting them, although they may take on the responsibility of leadership if they feel their goals can be met more rapidly by doing so, particularly if they are lawful. Neutral fighters most readily fulfill their racial stereotypes, although chaotic neutral specimens zealously resist anything that even smacks of predictability.

Iconoclasts aside, to those outside of their fraternity one rank and file warrior very much resembles another- heavily armed, heavily armored, and usually heavy-handed in social situations. ‘Loins of steel, head of lead’, as the halfling rhyme goes. While there are unfortunates whose swords are sharper than their wit will ever be, most fighters are as cunning as any of their peers, and there are a few who convincingly play the role of the dumb brute until it is time to reveal their skill. After all, monks and wizards are not the only ones with trade secrets, and fighters have an edge over their contemporaries in that many of their techniques are so quietly widespread that an opponent may not realize they are facing a master at arms until it is too late. A humble caravan guard honing an arrowhead against an oilstone could be a drudge or an expert marksman keeping a low profile. A traveler enjoying ale at a tavern with a great axe slung across their back could be a wandering champion or a clumsy novice. The sleepy wanderer bedding down in a clearing with naught but their short sword and buckler for company is either waiting to join the local food chain or has taken their place at its top. Since there is no way to tell by sight alone and so few are willing to test their mettle, the average person treats a fighter with the same amount of fear and respect that they would any obvious magic user.

Fighters see more toe-to-toe combat than anyone else in an adventuring party, and often serve as party leader by din of the hazards they face. While they can be convinced to take on other roles in the party, they prefer leadership to be in the hands of classes that put as much importance on physical combat as they do. Barbarians, monks and paladins receive the bulk of the fighter’s respect in this, although they can also be viewed askance when their respective quirks come into conflict with the fighter’s straightforward nature. Fighters prefer to keep those who rely on magic out of any major party decisions. While they are certainly useful or even vital to the party’s well-being- especially if they can provide healing or create magical weapons- their place in the rear lines of combat means that they are ill-suited to lead anything other than debates on arcane or divine theory. The average fighter saves the bulk of their scorn for those who lack the stomach for direct confrontation, which means rogues and others who rely exclusively on misdirection or stealth are kept at sword’s length.

Fighter Traits:

As stated in the SRD.

DM’s Option: Offense Vs. Defense

Monks have the fighting styles offered by their Tradition. Rangers have fighting styles based on a chosen weapon: spells, twin weapons, animal companions, bow and arrow. Fighters do not bother with anything so fancy, simply making a choice between offense and defense. Once a choice is made, it is permanent.

Offense Option: Improved Feats

When taking one of the following feats as a bonus feat, Fighters enjoy the following secondary benefits. A player should mark these feats with an asterisk on their character sheet to differentiate them from their other feats.

Blind Fight- You treat targets that are the subject of a blink spell as if they had concealment (20% miss chance).

Cleave- You can take a 5 foot step between cleave attempts.

Combat Expertise- You can exceed your base attack bonus when using this feat.

Combat Reflexes- You gain one extra attack of opportunity attempt when using this feat.

Deflect Arrows- You can deflect arrows even if you have both hands full.

Dodge- You can increase your AC even when the subject of an attack you are not aware of (i.e. surprise attacks). You can still only increase your AC against one attacker, and in the event of surprise attacks from multiple attackers, this only activates against the first attack.

Exotic Weapon Proficiency- You can ignore any ability score requirements for wielding said weapon.

Far Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage on attacks that need this feat to hit. This feat stacks with other Shot feats, if applicable.

Great Cleave- You can move up to 10 feet between Cleave attempts.

Greater Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +3 bonus to your AC when wielding two weapons. This replaces the benefit from Improved Two Weapon Fighting.

Greater Weapon Focus- You gain a +3 bonus to hit, damage, and initiative modifiers when using this weapon. This replaces the benefit from Weapon Focus. This bonus does not stack if wielding more than one of the same weapon.

Greater Weapon Specialization- You gain a +4 bonus to hit, damage, and initiative modifiers when using this weapon. This replaces the benefit of Greater Weapon Focus. This bonus does not stack if wielding more than one of the same weapon.

Improved Bull Rush- If successful, you move the opponent back 10 ft.

Improved Critical- You do not have to re-roll to confirm a critical hit if you roll a 19 or 20.

Improved Disarm- The weapon is 5 feet away from the opponent in a randomly determined square.

Improved Feint- You gain a +2 bonus on all Feint attempts.

Improved Grapple- You can deal 1d6 lethal damage in a grapple if you are a medium-sized creature, or 1d4 lethal damage if you are a small-sized creature.

Improved Initiative- You gain a +1 bonus on Reflex saves.

Improved Overrun- If successful, the opponent is knocked 5 feet away in a randomly determined adjacent square.

Improved Precise Shot- You gain a +1 bonus on rolls to confirm a critical hit when using this feat. This feat stacks with other Shot feats when applicable.

Improved Shield Bash- When using a Power Attack with a shield bash, you can increase your AC by half the amount used in the Power Attack.

Improved Sunder- If the item is sundered (destroyed), the target takes damage beyond what was needed to sunder the object.

Improved Trip- You are considered one size category larger than you are with respect to trip attempts.

Improved Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +2 bonus to AC when fighting with two weapons. This replaces the benefit of Two Weapon Fighting.

Improved Unarmed Strike- Your critical threat on unarmed strikes is 19-20.

Manyshot- Any critical hits made with this feat apply to all attacks made.

Mobility- You gain a +2 bonus to hit and damage opponents using this feat against you.

Mounted Archery- You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage with this feat. It does not negate the penalties associated with mounted archery (see the feat description), but is does stack with all Shot feats.

Mounted Combat- You enjoy a +2 modifier to all Ride checks made using this feat.

Point Blank Shot- Your enjoy a +1 bonus on attempts to confirm a critical hit when using this feat.

Power Attack- You can use this feat with light weapons.

Precise Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage on attacks using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats where applicable.

Quick Draw- You can draw a hidden weapon as a free action.

Rapid Reload- You can reload a heavy crossbow as a free action.

Rapid Shot- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage when using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats.

Ride By Attack- You can make one turn when using this feat, 45 degrees to the right or the left and five feet beyond the opponent struck by this attack.

Shot on the Run- You gain a +1 bonus to hit when using this feat. This stacks with other Shot feats where applicable.

Snatch Arrows- You gain a +1 bonus to hit and damage when using arrows captured by this feat if they are used within 3 rounds of being snatched. This feat stacks with Shot feats where applicable.

Spirited Charge- Your critical threat range increases by 1 when using this feat.

Spring Attack- You are not subject to attacks of opportunity from anyone when using this feat.

Stunning Fist- You can attempt a stunning fist attack up to two times in a single round.

Trample- Your mount counts as one size category larger when making trample attacks.

Two Weapon Defense- You gain a +4 bonus when fighting defensively. This replaces the +2 bonus normally provided by this feat.

Two Weapon Fighting- You gain a +1 bonus to AC when fighting with two weapons.

Weapon Finesse- You do not suffer any penalty when using a shield.

Weapon Focus- You add a +1 bonus to your initiative.

Weapon Specialization- You add a +2 bonus to your initiative. This replaces the benefit from Weapon Focus.

Whirlwind Attack- If successful, you move all opponents you strike 5 feet away from you in a randomly determined direction.

Offense Option: Modify Weapon

A fighter can choose to modify a weapon that they have the Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats to increase its effectiveness when performing a critical hit or when it a special ability inherent to the weapon is being used. The fighter can choose to modify a weapon so that it:

Enjoys a +1 bonus when confirming critical hits;

Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage when performing a critical hit;

Enjoys a +1 bonus to resist or confirm disarm, sunder, or trip attempts (the latter only if the weapon can be used to perform trip attempts)

Increases its range increment by 5 feet if it is a thrown weapon;

Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage when being readied against a charge (if the weapon can be readied against a charge).

Enjoys a +1 bonus to damage if the weapon does double damage when being used in a charge (if the weapon does double damage when used on a charging mount).

Inflicts another type of condition upon a critical hit(if playing with the DM’s Option for masterwork weapons, this condition must be chosen from the list of conditions other masterwork weapons are capable of).

These modifications are applied to a weapon by the fighter’s player declaring that they are taking the Modify Weapon Offense Option instead of a bonus feat. A fighter must spend a number of weeks equal to the number of modifications they are applying to the weapon to modify it, and costs an amount of gold equal to the total number of modifications being made to a specific weapon x100 in materials. While a fighter can use as many of these modifications as the weapon qualifies for, a fighter CANNOT use the same one twice in a row. For example, a fighter could increase a flail’s ability to confirm a critical hit when taking their bonus feat at first level, and then increase their chance to confirm a trip attempt when using that same flail for their bonus feat at second level, but they could not increase their ability to confirm a critical hit at first level and then again at second level. If a fighter loses this weapon somehow, they can apply all of the options their original weapon had to another that meets the prerequisites provided they spend a length of time necessary to get it up to that level. The fighter can opt to have the weapon be modified with fewer bonuses if pressed for time. If a modified weapon is being wielded by a character other than the one that modified it, they can only use one of that weapons modifications in combat and even then only if they have both the Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats for that weapon, although it is an modification of their choosing. A fighter cannot modify a magical weapon, and any bonuses placed upon an item through modification are lost should the weapon ever be ever enchanted.

Defense Option: Adrenaline

Fighters are so used to physical abuse that they recover quickly from the rigors of combat. They gain a specialized version of Fast Healing with a rating equal to one third their level. This ability does not function out of combat, nor can it restore hit points beyond what a fighter had at the start of a battle. A fighter cannot attack someone or go out seeking a fight simply to reap the benefits of this special ability- the DM and player are encouraged to work together to ensure this special ability does not cause the fighter to overshadow or ignore the contribution of other players. It does NOT function against subdual damage.

Defense Option: Modify Armor

Similar to Offense Option: Modify Weapon shown above, this option applies to a specific suit of armor. It differentiates in that the fighter does not have to have Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization for the armor but it takes 2 weeks to modify armor and costs 300 gold in materials per modification made. The fighter can choose to:

Increase their speed while using this armor by 5 feet (to a maximum of the fighter’s unarmored speed);

Increase their Initiative modifier while wearing this armor by 1(to a maximum of their unarmored initiative modifier, and only if the armor affects their initiative modifier).

Sleep in the armor without being fatigued;

Halve the armor check penalty that is associated with a certain action;

Decrease the arcane spell failure chance of the armor by 5%.

Alter the type of DR offered by the armor (if the DM’s Option regarding masterwork armor is being used).

If the armor is ever lost, the fighter can modify another set of armor using the rules described under Offense Option: Modify Weapon. If another character wishes to use armor that has been modified by a fighter, they must have the proficiency for that armor and even then they can only enjoy one particular modification of their choosing. This option does not work with magical armors and all bonuses from the armor being modified are lost if the armor is ever enchanted.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Classes: Druids

Hands of the Yggdrasil

The Yggdrasil lives. Its vibrant but forbidding landscape is intimidating to all but the most accomplished yeoman, and even they avoid it save but for the most dire of circumstances. There are some, however, who feel an inexplicable connection to the Great Forest. Haunted by vivid dreams that begin sometime during puberty and rarely meshing well with their original societies to begin with, these misfits eventually succumb to wanderlust, leaving everything they have and everyone they know behind as they make their way to their new home. It is not an easy journey, and some perish without ever setting their eyes upon the Yggdrasil. In the end, only the strongest survive to attain the title of druid.

The vast majority of druids on Wune are true elves, and to them the connection with the Yggdrasil is neither unusual nor unwelcome- it is expected. They are the true children of the Yggdrasil, borne directly from it ages upon ages ago, and enjoy its blessings more so than any other people. Obviously, there is no long trek from faraway lands far to a new and alien home, but many trials await the neophyte druid nonetheless. Among the Shuu, druids are healers, protectors, magistrates and spiritual leaders; an initiate is given no latitude in shouldering these duties. Neither fools nor tyrants are suffered for long, but those who lack the capacity or drive to undertake the role permanently are never marginalized or mocked. In fact, their respect for both the office and the Yggdrasil itself often grow, and they continue upon another life path with no loss in zeal.

Even the Shuu do not claim to understand why the Yggdrasil has chosen others not of its womb to serve it as they do, though all but the most bigoted bow to her will and view those she has chosen in the same way they would view themselves. Still, this is cold comfort for half-elven druids, who are often shoehorned into becoming conduits between the two very different worlds of their parents. Those born into Shuu society are at first overjoyed to be treated as a person as opposed to an embarrassment, but are eventually dismayed to discover that their place is once again on the periphery of society, to be called upon only on the rare occasions that peaceful overtures need to be made to humans or some other creation of the Interlopers; those of Shuu blood being raised among humans (and that choose to return to human society to seek their fortune) are tolerated only so long as they keep their savage cousins at bay. Life is no easier for half-elves born of common elf stock, especially if they are being raised among said race, which has not produced a druid in generations. They often become intermediaries between not two but three very disparate worlds and the strain is enough to drive all but the most patient mad. It is no surprise then that the majority of half-elven druids to spend the majority of their time in wild shape, preferring to spend their time in the company of animals or druids who share their level of dedication.

The remaining Third Races are among the most well-adjusted non-Shuu druids. Both half-dragons and half-orcs have little trouble leaving their original worlds behind for the one offered by the Yggdrasil, and both enjoy embodying/personifying the savage side of nature. The only difference seems to be that the average half dragon eschews the use of wild shape, believing their natural form to be superior to all others, while half orcs enjoy being able to change shape when necessary, whether to avoid prejudice or to increase their options in combat.

The majority of the Second Races have trouble accepting the Great Forest’s will. None are more disquieted than halflings, who find it very hard to reconcile their religious traditions with a lifestyle that could be considered atheist. Most halfling druids prefer exile, continuing to wander on their own and returning to the Yggdrasil about once a season. Those that return to their people do their best to reconcile both sides of their life, tending to the dire animals and offering people hearth remedies when the clerics that usually do such things are unavailable. Dwarven druids do not attempt to find a happy medium between the Yggdrasil and a more mundane existence. Their inherent stoicism and stubbornness means that only those that are truly meant to become druids do so- all others list their way into an early grave, struggling in vain to force-fit themselves into regimented dwarven society. Those that become druids almost never return to their people, and rarely fair well even in the company of their fellow druids. Instead, they give themselves over body and soul to the Great Forest, meditating at a chosen spot for decades or even centuries until they physically merge with it as a woodbeard- a dwarven treant. Paradoxically, dwarven druids readily take to adventure, as their mental communion with the Yggdrasil means they are even faster than some true elves to take up arms in its preemptive defense.

Humans rarely become druids, but as with most vocations they pursue, once they decide to go ahead with it, they do so with reckless abandon. Almost every human returns to their people after their first pilgrimage to the Great Forest, and preaches its virtues with every bit of sincerity as a cleric preaches about their god (or godhood). Depending on the makeup and boorishness of the original community, said druid is either welcomed, tolerated as an alternative to a (or dismissed as another type of) cleric, or run out of town with the promise of execution should they return. This last scenario is common in areas that have suffered at the hands of true elves, where the average person assumes the druid “changeling” was kidnapped and ensorcelled by the savages at a young age.
In an adventuring party, only the ranger sees a druid as a true companion, the other classes mirror humanity’s outlook. Unless the party is entirely composed of Shuu, the druid will be a perpetual outsider, trusted by few. However, the ruthless practicality of the adventurer’s life will eventually change most of their attitudes for the better. Fighters and reavers enjoy the druid’s healing abilities and occasionally find their other magical abilities less ostentatious than those of wizards or sorcerers. Monks and paladins admire the informal code that druids live by, while the druid’s primal nature resonates positively with the barbarian. Bards, clerics, rogues, sorcerers and wizards usually lack common ground with the druid as a class and must find camaraderie with them as an individual. This is also the level upon which druids in turn see other classes, save for rangers and fellow druids. A lifetime spent seeing things through the lens of what is best for the Yggdrasil sometimes means the druid looks upon other classes as a farmer views new plant growth in his garden: beneficial entities are tolerated or even cultivated, while destructive ones are eliminated stem and root.

Druid Traits:

As the Druid entry in the SRD, save as follows.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Druids may not use any metal weapons or wear metal armor. Although they continue to be proficient with the club, dagger, dart, quarterstaff, scimitar, sickle, sling, spear and shortspear, these and any other weapons or armor the druid employs must be made out of materials other than metal. Wood is usually the medium of choice, and it is often treated with the ironwood spell to increase its effectiveness. Bone, stone, and other natural materials are also acceptable. A druid that wears a prohibited armor or wields a prohibited weapon or shield cannot cast any of their druid spells or use their druid supernatural or spell-like abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter.

Evil, Good and Lawful Spells: A druid cannot cast spells of an alignment opposed to their own. The Yggdrasil’s alignment is considered neutral with respect to spellcasting.

Bonus Languages: Druidic is a special, non-verbal language that all druids automatically know. It is uses a combination of hand-signs and overall body language to converse. A druid cannot “speak” druidic if they are bound hand and foot, although they can understand it and respond verbally or through other forms of non-verbal speech (nods, shrugs, etc.).

Animal Companion: Much like wild shape, a druid can only choose an animal that they are familiar with as a companion. In game terms, they must choose an animal that appears on the list for random encounters for the region in which they live. Said animal must meet all the other requirements for an animal companion as listed for druids.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Classes: Clerics

Servants and Scions of the Shattered Pantheon

Are the gods truly dead? Most believe that the dragons and the First Races slew the gods to the least demiurge during the Divine War, and accept their demise as a part of everyday life with varying degrees of enthusiasm. While there are those who dispute this, the greater part of this minority are agnostics who beseech the gods only in times of crisis and return their faith to providence once the seas calm. Clerics are a breed apart from these foul-weather faithful. Staunch in their belief that the gods yet live, they channel this faith through the Covenant- the semi-sentient battery of Divine energy that the gods left behind when they abandoned their corporeal bodies during the Great Betrayal- and use it to work genuine miracles that impudent bards can only envy and arcane practitioners are wise to fear. For only a cleric can open or seal wounds with but a kiss, restore lost limbs at a whisper, and grant the restless dead eternal peace through prayer. Their abilities are not nearly as important as their message, clerics warn, which states that the gods will one day return to avenge themselves upon their treacherous creations, and that those who bend the knee now will be the first to enjoy the fruits of the glorious new age to come. However, clerics are of two minds regarding this day of reckoning.

Clerics who style themselves as heralds of a particular god believe they must do all they can to bring this day to pass as soon as possible. Although derided as hopelessly antiquated by unbelievers, the path of a somewhat cloistered priest is still respected by many, particularly in rare areas of religion tolerance or that are in great need of their abilities. Heralds often become lynchpins of their community, their innate sagacity making them natural counselors and advisors. That they can save the souls of those who are willing to placate their patron deity is enough for the sedentary, but clerics given over to adventuring go even further, actively hunting down the First Races in the hopes that more aggressive service will make the so-called Shattered Pantheon a power recognized in the world once more.

Then, there are the mad. Clerics who claim to be an avatar of the Shattered Pantheon believe that the gods have already returned to pass judgment upon the world, albeit in a new form: their own. They contend that they are the living reincarnation of a fallen god- a ludicrous claim that would have them put to death in some places if not for the considerable power they wield. Held in contempt by those who share their calling and treated gingerly even by skeptics, they too have their faithful: the desperate, the naïve, and those just as crazy as they are. They are wanderers both by design and by desire, as few places will suffer even the most charming lunatic for long, and many avatars enjoy traveling from place to place ministering to their flock. However, only the most unhinged go out into the world looking for trouble- it usually finds them they go about “reclaiming” their portfolio.

Regardless of their sanity, all clerics are prized by the halflings of Wune. A people of great faith even in these dark times, their heralds are branded upstanding citizens almost from the day they first don their vestments, and are encouraged to take up positions of responsibility within the community. Even avatars are humored to an extent, sometimes honored as emissaries of the gods they claim to be when they are not being treated with the gentle care the unbalanced often require.

Although they are quick to censure the insane, many humans are willing to give clerics the benefit of the doubt. Sure, there’s lots of evidence to prove that the gods are dead and gone, but most of that is in moldy old books, whereas the evidence that runs contrary is an active force in the world today. Humans also enjoy debate more so than any other people, making them open to conversion in the eyes of an optimistic cleric. Dwarves point to this as an example of humanity’s obnoxious naïveté. Although they retain a handful of priests to upkeep decaying temples in the name of tradition, as a people they prefer to leave the gods in the past.

Other races are more ambivalent with regards to religion. Common elves and their half-elf kin are especially conflicted, as it was their ancestors that brought about the downfall of the gods, and yet there are those who insist they have been called to serve…or commanded to atone for their sins by holy specters only they can see and hear. Still others believe that the divine blood on their hands has seeped into their veins and that they have inherited the power that shaped the world. Many half-dragons echo this sentiment, believing they are of semi-divine origin through their draconic parent, although the very few heralds they produce are paragons of pious humility.

Only two peoples are outright hostile towards clerics and the idea of organized religion- the Shuu (and the half-elves they occasionally raise), and half-orcs. The former does so because they believe the gods themselves to be utterly fraudulent and consider their servants little more than hucksters, while the latter is raised on stories of the indignities one half of their ancestry suffered at the hands of fickle deities.

As described above, the life of a cleric of either persuasion alternates wildly between frenetic activity and dismal boredom. Many seek adventure in an attempt to reconcile the two extremes, and adventurers in turn are duly grateful to have the services of a cleric in the party, even if they are a little batty. The opinion of a cleric towards his companions is colored by their dogma: the priest of a god of warfare would probably look favorably upon the fighters and barbarians in his company even as they scorn the rogues and reavers that the servant of a god of subtlety would embrace as kin. The only class clerics can universally agree upon are bards. No one knows exactly how these defilers gained access to the Covenant (which they blasphemously refer to as the Divine Song), but all agree they are anathema- even the Covenant itself attempts to eliminate these interlopers. Although priests of rival faiths and opposing callings will temporarily suspend hostilities to stand united against bards, methods vary on dealing with them vary wildly. Some demand that they cease and desist, going so far as to slice vocal cords and break fingers, while others believe that they are simply wrongheaded, and take great strains to turn these lost “potentials” to the cloth.

The biggest challenge a cleric faces in day-to-day life is that posed by other clerics. Religious faith is uncommon in the land of Wune as it flies in the face of both conventional wisdom and documented history. Men and women of even casual devotion are jealously courted by clerics of all stripes, and even priests of the same god may come to blows over congrational leadership. However, the most dire challenge is one that stems from within. Many people, clerics included, believe that the mortal mind was never meant to contemplate the divine, and that continued exposure to such energies in the absence of a deity’s guiding hand have a detrimental effect on the psyche over time. Avatars are oblivious (though not immune) to any further damage to their mind, but heralds struggle valiantly against the occasional bouts of madness that make their demanding lifestyle even more arduous.

Cleric Traits:

As described in the PHB, save as follows:

Clerics use the spell progression listed below.

Cleric Level/Spell Level
6 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 5

Domain Spells: Clerics can drop a prepared spell of any level to cast a domain spell of an equivalent level. This ability replaces the ability to drop a spell to cast an equivalent cure/cause wounds.

Boons and Burdens: A cleric can attempt to deplete or restore a number of hit points equal to their class level a number of times per day equal to their Charisma modifier + 3. The DC to save against this effect is equal to 10 plus their current Wisdom modifier (Fort negates). The range is close (25 ft. + 5 ft per 2 levels of cleric), and the character must have line of sight to the target. This is always accompanied by a secondary effect: one of several Boons(if a target is being healed) or Burdens(if a target is being damaged). The boons and burdens available to a cleric vary depending on which deity they worship, and although a cleric can choose a new boon or burden at the first level of cleric, the second level of cleric, and every even cleric level afterwards. A separate save must be made against a burden(or boon, if a target resists). This replaces the turn/rebuke undead ability and can be used by clerics of all alignments.

DM’s Option: Miracle- Clerics can push themselves beyond their limits to eke out a Miracle- a Boon or Burden forged from the raw energies of the Covenant itself. This can only be attempted when a cleric has exhausted their supply of Boons and Burdens for the day, and is done by sacrificing a point of one of their mental attributes, determined at random by rolling 1d3: 1= Intelligence, 2 = Wisdom, 3 = Charisma. Although use of this ability results in ability damage, the amount of points restored per day is equal to 1 plus the cleric’s current Charisma modifier- a strong sense of self helps one wend their way through madness and back to sanity. It should be noted that the idea of the character’s sanity waning as their mental scores diminish should be an important part of roleplaying the character- it is not a punishment meant to discourage players from using this optional ability. Players should work with their DM to choose a particular derangement (see below) at character creation, taking care that their choice will not disrupt play or annoy fellow players (or the DM, for that matter). Heralds gravitate towards mental illnesses such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and the like, while avatars are more prone to schizophrenia, mania, and gender identity disorder (if reincarnated as the opposite sex), as well as personality disorders such as schizotypal (which by definition they already suffer), histrionic, and borderline personality disorders. A good rule of thumb is to think of the character’s particular flavor of insanity like a whirlpool within their stream of consciousness. Heralds swim desperately against the current, while avatars sit back and enjoy the ride until they drown in madness.

Role-Playing Insanity: Realism, Management Strategies, & Suggestions for Play

By Callista

Many D&D players have played characters who would be termed “insane”, whether or not they set out to do so. Examples of characters with mental illnesses include the serial-killer cleric of Erythnul, the quirky wizard, and the paladin with depression. Mental illness can be a big feature of the character, or just a minor problem. It can strike characters of all races, genders, and alignments, though obviously the race or alignment changes which mental illness the character is most vulnerable to. DMs can use the following suggestions, too. In fact, with an NPC, monster, or even BBEG, you can go much further than what’s sensible for a PC.

Regarding terminology: Technically, “insanity” is too narrow a term: Most mental illnesses do not include any loss of touch with reality. “Mental illness”, despite the politically correct formality of the term, is the best phrase I can come up with to cover the problems I’m talking about—but even then, “mental illness” doesn’t cover many developmental and neurological conditions! So when I say “mental illness” or “insanity”, just consider it to mean anything which can be treated or monitored by a psychologist or psychiatrist in today’s world, as well as anything of the same nature in the D&D world—for example, magical insanity, various curses, or mundane mental illnesses with extraordinary causes (really, do you think anyone comes away from a stint as Undead completely unchanged?).A discussion of insanity and mental illness is available in Unearthed Arcana; but if your DM is not using the sanity loss variant, or if you want your character to have a permanent mental illness as part of his personality and backstory, it’s better to define your character’s problem for yourself.

If You’re Considering Playing a Character with a Mental Illness, Remember:

1. Experts Only. If you’re not a good role-player, if you’re not an experienced DM, or if you’re looking for a character who’s easy to play, don’t give your PC or NPC a mental illness. The roots and results of mental illness are complex, and improperly played, insanity can cause a game to collapse. You’re playing with fire; and whether you’ll end up with a useful tool or a destructive problem is all dependent on how you play.

2. Be Considerate. Mental illness in our society is quite common, ranging from a child’s ADHD to the homeless guy with schizophrenia. In between those extremes are many people—in fact, most people—in our society. About 60% of Americans will deal with a mental illness sometime during their lives; and this means that chances are good that someone in your group has already done so. When you play your character, remember that someone in your group, or someone in their family, may have the actual mental illness you are mimicking. Be aware that mental illness can be a way of spotlight-hogging. Don’t take over the game—let the other players have their turns, too. Be sure you will neither unbalance the game nor burden the party with your character’s disability. If your character wouldn’t be able to hold a job in the real world because he’s so overwhelmed by his problems, that’s a good indication he shouldn’t be an adventurer, either. And be prepared to retire your character if he becomes a problem—that’s true for any character, but doubly true for one with a mental illness. You’re there to have fun, not to force your fellow players to accept a character who ruins the game for them, and by extension, ruins the game for you too.

3. He’s a Character—Not a Disease. D&D characters are primarily heroes (or villains). That means that your character should be a full person rather than a representation of the mental illness you’ve given him. It’s just one feature of your character; and though it may overwhelm everything else sometimes, he should have a backstory, a personality, and a life beyond just that mental illness. Say you’ve decided to play someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and you’re writing his description: Don’t just say, “My character…” and then describe his obsessions and compulsions. No—create that character first, personality and everything, and THEN determine how his mental illness affects him. (Some mental illnesses do change the personality, especially those present from childhood. But that doesn’t give you license to create a character who is defined by his mental illness… that is, unless you really WANT to play something copied from a psychology book!)

4. Research Before You Play. Ideally, if you played a character modeled after King Arthur, you would first read a few legends about him; if you played a character from an Oriental setting, you might read up on feudal Japan or ancient China. The same goes for mental illnesses: You need to research them before you play a character who has one. Why? Because, when you rely upon real information, you end up with a more realistic, well-played character with real depth---instead of just the gimmick that, “My character is nuts.”

It needn’t be any great amount of research. A Google search, a psychology text, or a library book will do. In fact, I highly recommend library books written for adolescents because these are usually quite simple and fast to read. (Books written for adults often assume you have some experience with the particular disorder you’re reading about; but many have a first chapter which discusses the disorder thoroughly.) In total, it shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to figure out the main characteristics of the disorder you want to use, and maybe half an hour more to create the character’s personality and background with the mental illness integrated into it.

One resource you really can’t do without is the DSM-IV. This is a list of disorders and their symptoms which is used to diagnose mental illnesses. You can find it at the library; or you can search the Internet with the term DSM-IV and the name of the disorder you’re looking for. Generally, the pages that come up will have a DSM-IV excerpt with the list of symptoms. Wikipedia pages on mental illnesses also usually have a list of symptoms from the DSM-IV and/or the ICD-10 (another list of symptoms and disorders).

5. My Insanity Pet Peeve. There is a difference between schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, and if you play one or the other, don’t confuse them. Schizophrenia does not involve multiple personalities. Rather, it involves hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thought. Multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder) involves various personalities in one person; it is usually caused by extreme trauma and does not involve a loss of touch with reality (other than amnesia).

6. Talk to Your DM. Before you play a character with a mental illness, run it by your DM. Don’t just say, “I wanna play a crazy guy, is that OK?” because most DMs will have nightmares about your ruining their games and immediately ban it. Give him specifics: What type of mental illness; how it will affect the character; and whether you want to make any mechanical changes. I don’t advise playing somebody with a mental illness as the first character for a DM—let him see you play a more normal character first, so that he knows you’re willing to RP well and work with him to create your story. Some forms of mental illness may qualify as flaws; but ask your DM before you take an extra feat.

Mental Illness and Alignment

If you’re of the opinion that Insane=Evil, you shouldn’t be playing a mentally ill character in the first place. Obviously, some insane people are Evil; but most aren’t; and some Good people are insane, too. The vast majority of mental illnesses can apply to any alignment; in fact, I can think of only one—Antisocial Personality Disorder (also known as sociopathy)—which requires an alignment of Evil.

Neither does Insane = Chaotic. Again, some insane people are chaotic, but some are Lawful; and some Lawful characters are insane. Some mental illnesses strike more Lawfuls, and others more Chaotics… obsessive-compulsive disorder is much more likely to occur in a Lawful mind; various impulse-control disorders, in the chaotic mind. There are, however, exceptions. In fact, these exceptions could be interesting to explore, since a Lawful mind with an impulse-control disorder would be forever struggling against itself—a fascinating character trait to play, if you can manage it. (For example, some adults with ADHD are actually extremely organized—because if they don’t organize the world around them, they succumb to the mental chaos to which ADHD makes them prone. Unfortunately, this means they have to spend a lot of time organizing...)

One last thing: An evil act committed by someone with a mental illness is usually completely voluntary; and that means your DM won’t (or at least shouldn’t) give your character much slack when it comes to class powers. Only if the character was unaware of what they were doing, or unaware that it was evil, or under mental control or magical influence, can the act be considered involuntary. In that case, an Atonement spell does not require an XP component or (usually) a quest. In all other cases, be prepared to convince that Cleric not only that you’re really, truly sorry, but that yes, you will Get Help.

Mental Illnesses and Non-Human Cultures

Some mental illnesses are more likely in some cultures. The causes are diverse; but essentially this occurs because various sorts of environmental, genetic, and biological influences interact to cause vulnerabilities to mental illnesses. In D&D, magical causes, such as a family curse, can also be a factor.

There are some races in which something which would be insanity in a human is so prevalent that the absence of it can be called a mental illness. The best example is the Derro, who have racial insanity. Indicators of such a race are: An ability modifier which drastically lowers a mental ability score; A race which originates on a plane other than the Prime Material; Extreme (“Always”) alignment tendency (I make an exception for NG, LG, and CG “Always” alignments. Good represents the ideal of human behavior, and is thus not considered insane by the human culture.). Characters of these races are not actually insane by their race’s standards—though, by human standards, they would be. Exceptional characters of these races who are not insane by human standards would be considered insane by their own races.

A note on “Always” alignments: Generally, these only result in what would be called a “personality disorder” in a human. However, remember that for that particular race, that behavior is normal. A CE demon cannot be called “insane” for behaving in a sociopathic manner… though a CE human who behaved in the same way might be called so.

Different cultures also treat mental illnesses differently. Depending on the specifics, and depending on your DM and his world, your character may face anything from execution to a position as a tribal shaman!

Mental Illness and Magic

Because D&D campaigns are set in a magical world, insanity can have more causes and cures than there are available in our mundane world. Some spells directly cause insanity (in the form of a continuous Confusion effect; but your DM may substitute a severe mental illness—see Unearthed Arcana for rules regarding this). Some spells cause hallucinations or delusions, or involve mind-control. Some spells affect mental ability scores.

The magic and monsters in D&D can cause insanity indirectly as well. In the life of the adventurer, there are many traumatic experiences available to cause the nightmares and flashbacks of post-traumatic stress disorder; there are many losses which can cause depression. Being turned to stone for a thousand years, spending time under a mind-flayer’s control, being affected by a magical spell which forces you to kill a comrade, being affected by a dragon’s fear effect… all these will affect a character’s mind, and may (if the character is under enough strain) cause a mental illness. Basically, it’s a matter of what the character can handle—and what goes over that level---and what happens when it does. (Rules for Sanity loss are also in Unearthed Arcana, if you wish to quantify it. You may not want to, though; it takes your character’s mental illness out of your control and puts it in the hands of chance. That may lead to a thoroughly undramatic cure, or else having to deal with the effects of insanity when you can’t afford it.)

D&D insanity of the non-magical sort can be cured in the same way as it is in our world: Therapy, either formal therapy or simply talking with a good friend; support by friends and family; time away in a peaceful environment; or, in the last extremity, care in an institution. (Naturally, you don’t want that last one—it turns your character into an NPC.) Depending on your world, alchemical treatments may also be available.

Clerics can treat many forms of insanity—Unearthed Arcana has rules for insanity and its cure—and Wizards can intervene when the cause is magical. When all else fails, a Miracle or Wish can usually cure insanity; but not always—especially when the cause is a personality disorder or an unusually low mental ability score. Which brings us to…

Mental Illnesses and Ability Scores

Physical ability scores generally don’t have much to do with mental illness (exceptions are noted in the descriptions of various types of mental illness, below). However, mental ability scores are different. Intelligence has to do with thinking, problem-solving, and logic: A very low score can be played as some form of mental retardation. Wisdom involves the perception and interpretation of the world around you: A very low score can cause an illness involving hallucinations or delusions; a moderately low score simply means a lack of common sense (also a consequence of some types of mental illness). And Charisma means interpersonal skills, used either to intimidate or befriend others: Very low Charisma can cause a lack of these skills, and not much interaction with others; moderately low Charisma can mean social clumsiness, rudeness, or some other trouble with interaction.

If your character has a low mental ability score, it means he is more vulnerable to mental illness; but that doesn’t mean he has to be mentally ill (unless his score is actually 0).

For most mental illnesses, it is not necessary to have a low ability score, though a moderately low Wisdom is common. Exceptions are noted below.

Specific Mental Illnesses, and Suggestions for Play

In this section, I’m going to list some of the more common mental illnesses. The information I give about them is not by any means comprehensive enough to play a character with that disorder, but it should be enough for you to make a choice about whether or not to do further research.

Addictions; Substance Abuse/Dependence

Substance abuse is the use of a drug, despite problems arising from that use. Substance dependence requires the presence of withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped. Addictions to various things other than a substance can exist, such as gambling or magic. Certain spells, such as Good Hope, create positive feelings to which a PC may become addicted.
Suitability for PCs: Only in mature groups.
Mechanical Suggestions: Rules for drug addiction can be found in the Book of Vile Darkness; rules for intoxication, in Unearthed Arcana.
Alignment Suggestions: Usually Neutral or Evil, but can be Good.
Likely Ability Scores: Fluctuate, due to the constant effect of the substance and its withdrawal effects. Addiction to something which isn’t a drug occurs more often in those with low Will saves.
Race/Class Notes: If a certain race makes and consumes an intoxicating substance, members of that race are usually more likely to have been exposed to, and then addicted to, that substance.

Acute Stress Disorder

Much like PTSD, but only occurs for a short time after a traumatic event. Stops within a month, but can turn into PTSD.
Suitability for PCs: Can happen to any PC who’s just had to go through something overwhelming—torture, the death of a comrade, mental or physical violation, capture, exposure to undead, extraplanar creatures, or demons/devils, or a dangerous battle.
Mechanical Suggestions: Same as PTSD.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: PCs with higher Wisdom recover faster.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia

Dementia is a mental symptom of many physical illnesses.Alzheimer’s is a deterioration of the brain which occurs mostly in the elderly (Venerable age category). Memory loss is the first symptom, followed by difficulties with speech, movement, and abstract thought. The course of Alzheimer’s is progressive, going from mild forgetfulness to complete disability and death. Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are other diseases which cause progressive dementia. Non-progressive dementia can be caused by a stroke or head injury.
Suitability for PCs: Progressive dementia only in the early stages; non-progressive dementia is fine.
Mechanical Suggestions: For NPCs with progressive dementia, reduce DEX, INT, WIS, and CHA by one each year. Non-progressive dementia can be represented by a one-time loss in one or more of these scores. PCs with Alzheimer’s or another form of progressive dementia should remain in the early stages, with forgetfulness being the primary symptom, throughout the campaign.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: See above. In characters of Venerable age, one or more low ability scores can be explained in the backstory by a history of a stroke; any character’s low DEX or mental ability score, by an old head injury. Because INT and WIS actually rise in with, a character in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may have no ability score deficits—his experience in life is compensating for the memory loss.
Race/Class Notes: The stereotype of the “senile old wizard” is difficult to reconcile with the actual problems of Alzheimer’s, which take away the very mental abilities necessary to cast spells. However, if you wish, it’s possible to play a character like this—just don’t let the disease progress. But remember to be sensitive. Making your forgetful character a laughingstock and then finding out a fellow player has a parent or grandparent with Alzheimer’s could be extremely embarrassing.

Amnesia and Dissociative Fugue

Amnesia can be caused by a physical injury or be psychological in nature. It can be either the inability to remember the past, or the inability to remember new information. Dissociative Fugue is a rare type of amnesia in which the person suddenly moves away and lives somewhere else as a completely different person which does not remember and is not aware that the old personality ever existed.
Suitability for PCs: Being unable to remember the past, either due to amnesia or a dissociative fugue, can open doors for an evil DM. However, if you trust your DM, feel free to create a character with amnesia. One huge caution about amnesia is that you should never, ever use it as an excuse to create a character without writing a background. A character with amnesia still has a personality (in fact, dissociative fugue creates a new personality which does not remember the old!); and that personality will react in some way to not being able to remember the past. Instead of an actual background, then, write about the character’s reaction to his amnesia, how he is trying to survive, and whether or not (and how) the character is attempting to recover his memories.Being unable to remember new information is not recommended for PCs, since such memory is necessary to gain experience as an adventurer, both mechanically and for character development.
Mechanical Suggestions: None. Amnesia is RP-only. However, there are some skills the character may not know he has, and is only aware of once he uses them automatically. This usually means trained-only skills, as well as most magical powers and some class abilities.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: None.


Anorexia is an eating disorder in which a person, in an attempt to control his life, restricts food intake and loses dangerous amounts of weight.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable, if you can deal with the stat limitations.
Mechanical Suggestions: Apply the penalties for starvation. Subtract 20% from the lowest possible weight for your character’s height and race.
Alignment Suggestions: Usually Lawful.
Likely Ability Scores: STR of 8 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Monks and lawful Clerics are especially prone to anorexia, since their environment praises control (Paladins, who must also be lawful, concentrate too much on physical strength and skills to make anorexia common). In fact, the denial of food can be seen to the religious character as something which brings him closer to his deity. Various magical means of sustenance may or may not be accepted by an anorexic character; but it is possible to play an extremely religious cleric who goes without food entirely, sustained only by his deity’s power. Whether or not this is a mental illness is debatable, since the character is not in danger from starvation, as an anorexic in the real world would be.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is technically a neurological condition, not a mental illness.
Common belief that this is a childhood disorder belies the fact that many ADHD children become ADHD adults. Though less hyperactive and more mature, adults with ADHD are still affected by the same symptoms: Difficulty maintaining attention on something that isn’t extremely interesting; hyperactivity; impulsive actions; and chronic disorganization. Some people with ADHD are not hyperactive and, instead, tend to daydream rather than paying attention. Non-hyperactive ADHD can manifest as forgetfulness and disorganization.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. In fact, ADHD may be more common among adventurers, since the ADHD mind thrives on the intensity of adventuring.
Mechanical Suggestions: Take Improved Initiative and the Inattentive trait.
Alignment Suggestions: Often Chaotic.
Likely Ability Scores: No modifications. However, people with ADHD and WIS of 10 or lower tend to be more impulsive. Those with A WIS of 14 or higher (or a good mentor) often try to compensate for disorganization by using lists, planners, and other aids.
Race/Class Notes: Kender have ADHD as a racial trait. Classes which require study, such as the Wizard; and classes which require discipline, such as the Monk and Paladin; are probably not very well suited to someone with ADHD (unless that person is compensating by being extremely organized).

Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Autism is a developmental disorder (not a mental illness) which causes problems in interaction with other people. It is present from birth or begins in the first years of life. Autistic characters have difficulty with speech and nonverbal communication (body language/eye contact), with social skills, and with the understanding of others needed to form friendships. The IQs of autistic people can range from 20 to 200, and their skills range from extremely delayed to extremely precocious (often in the same person; when this occurs, the extremely precocious skill is called a “splinter skill” or “savant skill”). They may move in a repetitive manner (rocking, spinning, etc.). They may be preoccupied with a certain type of object or with learning information about a certain subject. They often insist on a certain routine or environment and are bothered by intense stimuli such as bright light, strong smells, and loud sounds. Asperger Syndrome, a milder form of autism, is diagnosed when there is normal or higher intelligence and no delay in language. People with Asperger’s are eccentric, known for their special interests—topics which fascinate them, in which they usually become experts—and their social (and often physical) clumsiness.
Suitability for PCs: Autism needs to be played carefully; Asperger Syndrome should present no problems. However, beware the trap of playing a “loner” character whose lack of interaction with others leaves you with nothing to do. It’s better to have him interact, but be characteristically clumsy about it.
Mechanical Suggestions: The low CHA of an autistic character should provide the necessary deficits; but an additional penalty to Sense Motive, which is based on WIS, is suggested. A character with a splinter skill or special interest should receive a bonus to the relevant Knowledge, Perform, or Craft skill (but ask your DM—in case of a “no”, you may simply use the usual skill points to reflect a special ability or interest).
Alignment Suggestions: Autistic and Asperger’s characters tend towards Lawful, but (especially in the case of Asperger’s) can be Chaotic since they do not easily become part of the culture around them.
Likely Ability Scores: Autism: CHA of 6 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Obviously, unless you want him to be dropped off at the next inn, don’t create a character whose class depends on Charisma and then give him autism. PCs with autism, especially Asperger’s, are likely to become Wizards because of the combination of high intelligence and intense focus needed to learn magic. Psionics are also a possibility; so is the profession of Ranger or Druid, which involve interacting primarily with the natural world, where the autistic’s low social skills don’t matter so much.

Bipolar Disorder and Cyclothymia

A person with bipolar disorder has both depression (see entry for Depression) and mania in alternating cycles, interspersed with periods of normal mood. Mania is an extremely euphoric mood; the thoughts race, activity increases, little sleep is needed, and the person becomes reckless, impulsive, and grandiose. At its worst, mania causes hallucinations and delusions, and the person will do things which are suicidally reckless or even violent. Depression and mania can cycle as slowly as every six months, or as quickly as every few days (rapid-cycling bipolar disorder). A less severe form of bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, results in swings between dysthymia (mild depression) and hypomania (mild mania—simple euphoria without delusions, hallucinations, or dangerously reckless or impulsive actions).
Suitability for PCs: Bipolar disorder is not suitable for PCs, since either depression or mania keeps the PC from functioning as an adventurer; cyclothymia is OK.
Mechanical Suggestions: Determine the approximate length of the manic, depressed, and normal moods; then randomly roll for mood during each time period. Mania increases Initiative and cuts the need for sleep in half; but it also reduces concentration, and effectively reduces Wisdom. Hypomania is a milder form of mania.
Alignment Suggestions: PCs with this mood disorder tend to be chaotic.Likely Ability Scores: You may decide to reduce Wisdom drastically when the character is in a manic state.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A relatively uncommon disorder in the real world, BDD causes someone to be convinced that some part of his body (usually quite normal) is hideously disfigured. In D&D, this disorder could be much more common, triggered by the experience or threat of a polymorph spell or some other form of shapechanging, a magical effect that changes gender or appearance, an illusion spell that changes appearance, or the experience of being Reincarnated into a different body. The PC may begin to desperately seek a “remedy” for his “disfigurement”; a character capable of shapechange on his own may either stay away from such magic, or else use it constantly.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable—just don’t make a Druid who is worried about his own Wildshape ability!
Mechanical Suggestions: None.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: Wisdom of 10 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Any race or class with natural shapechange or illusion powers is vulnerable.


A character with bulimia eats large amounts of food and then, to keep his weight down, induces vomiting, uses laxatives, exercises excessively, or fasts.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable.
Mechanical Suggestions: None.
Alignment Suggestions: Often Chaotic.
Likely Ability Scores: CON of 12 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: None

Depression and Dysthymia

Depression is not just a sad mood; it’s a lack of energy, motivation, and enjoyment of life. It lasts for months rather than just days. The person sleeps and eats poorly or too much, becomes hopeless and has poor self-esteem. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are possible. Dysthymia is a form of depression which is relatively mild but long-term; it lasts for years rather than months. Some people with dysthymia have episodes of major depression as well.
Suitability for PCs: Depression is a crippling illness; it generally keeps a character from being an adventurer. However, depression does occur as an adjustment reaction—that is, after some major change in life, usually a loss, normal grief can stay around and turn into depression. In these cases, you may decide to have your PC become depressed. Dysthymia, however, is OK for PCs; it results in a character who is constantly sad, unmotivated, and withdrawn, but is capable of continuing to function.
Mechanical Suggestions: Dysthymia has no mechanical effects. For major depression, treat the PC as under a constant Crushing Despair effect. You may also wish to apply penalties to initiative. If your character becomes depressed enough to attempt suicide, remember that it is possible to voluntarily fail saves—but that not all characters attempting suicide will do so. In most cases, your DM should give nearby PCs the chance to find your character before he dies. If you decide to have a character commit suicide, beware that fellow players or your DM may have had to deal with a friend who has attempted suicide (or they may even have attempted it themselves)—be considerate.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: None.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Popularized by the movie Sybil, in which a young woman is treated for multiple personalities, DID is one of the most colorful and controversial of the psychological disorders. It is classed as a dissociative disorder, not a psychotic disorder—the various personalities usually do not lose touch with reality. The personalities may be aware or unaware of each other; and amnesia while another personality is in control is common, though not ubiquitous. DID is often caused by extreme, long-term childhood abuse. Personalities have different functions; they may be different ages and genders; in D&D, they may be different classes, races, and alignments as well.
Suitability for PCs: Unsuitable, unless the personalities have access to the same character sheet. Otherwise, the character is essentially a multiclass character who cannot use skills from more than one class at a time—a real hindrance to the party. If you create a character with DID, discuss with the DM who will determine when the personalities “switch”. Do not create a character with more than two, or at most three, personalities.
Mechanical Suggestions: A save DC versus switching personalities in a stressful situation may be useful. NPCs with DID may have different mental ability scores for each personality, but I do not recommend this for PCs. If you do want to switch the mental ability scores, make sure the point buy is the same, and keep separate character sheets for each personality so that it’s not necessary to constantly recalculate modifiers. Switching mental ability scores can be a real asset to the character if done at will (i.e., it may make him too strong), so if you do this, have the DM determine when your character changes personalities.
Alignment Suggestions: The main personality is likely to be True Neutral, with the more extreme alignment tendencies “handled” by alter personalities.
Likely Ability Scores: Wisdom of 10 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Classes with alignment restrictions are not recommended for a character with DID. Any character who uses psionic powers is likely to be aware of his multiple personalities, and thus eventually cured of the disorder.

Gender Identity Disorder

Many people do not consider this to be a mental illness, but a lifestyle choice. However, because of the distress it causes to the person involved, this condition is still included on the list of mental illnesses.

A character with Gender Identity Disorder (also called a transsexual) believes that his physical gender is incorrect—that he really ought to be the opposite gender. In D&D, this can be extended to include races: For example, someone who believes that he is an elf, despite his human body. GID is not a delusion; the character is aware of the reality of his physical body; he just sees that his mind does not match it. In a world with shape-changing magic, reincarnation, and curses, there may be more than just a subjective feeling to determine the presence of such a problem, and a much more effective treatment.

Note that if your character takes this illness as a flaw, he loses the associated feat if he gains the ability to shapechange, especially permanently.

Suitability for PCs: A PC who has been polymorphed into another race or gender is fine in any group, up to the point at which that new race is suitable for the campaign. Play transsexuals in mature groups or not at all.
Mechanical Suggestions: None.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The PC worries about everything—literally. Even something which has a very small chance of happening may cause him to worry. However, his fears are not completely irrational, and he remains in touch with reality.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. This disorder involves mostly role-playing, though the player must be careful that the character’s constant anxiety does not keep him from being a useful part of the party.
Mechanical Suggestions: No mechanical effect.
Alignment Suggestions: Lawful characters are a little more likely to suffer from GAD. GAD often results from a fear of uncontrolled events, and the Lawful person seeks control and order both in himself and his environment.
Likely Ability Scores: WIS of 12 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Any race immune to fear is also immune to GAD.


The PC is over-sensitive to his own body, and interprets small symptoms as indicative of major illnesses. In D&D, he may be convinced he has been poisoned, affected by a spell, or affected by a supernatural disease when all he has is indigestion, a headache, or a cold.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. Make sure you tell the party Cleric that you are playing a hypochondriac, or he may waste Cure and Remove Disease spells on you. (With high Wisdom and a good Healing skill, the cleric can usually tell that your character does not actually have a major disease, but the player may not think to have his character check.)
Mechanical Suggestions: None.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: Moderately high Wisdom—being extremely alert means the PC will notice his body’s symptoms more; but very high Wisdom would allow him to understand that they are not serious.
Race/Class Notes: None.


A persistent difficulty either going to sleep or staying asleep.
Suitability for PCs: Not recommended for spellcasters; should work out fine for anyone else. Can actually give an RP boost: Sleepless PCs may have the chance to have conversations with whoever is on watch, or else take watch themselves. A PC who can’t get to sleep could see an ambush coming when the enemy would normally expect him to be asleep.
Mechanical Suggestions: Determine how severe your character’s insomnia is, and either roll percentile dice or save against an appropriate DC. Your character may spend sleepless nights and end up fatigued; but, if your DM allows, he may also receive a bonus to saves against Sleep spells and effects.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: Any race which does not sleep—elves, for example—probably does not suffer from insomnia. Difficulty getting into a proper trance could be substituted, though.

Learning Disorder

A learning disorder is a difficulty with a specific aspect of learning that isn’t explained by overall low intelligence. Dyslexia (reading difficulty) is the most common; others include difficulty with spelling, mathematics, or written communication. Learning disorders are not mental illnesses.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable, except for dyslexia in classes which depend heavily on written spells.
Mechanical Suggestions: Dyslexic characters may be given the barbarian’s Illiteracy class feature, with the complication that it takes 4 skill points to learn to read. Otherwise, simply note the learning disorder and give your character a -4 (adjust up or down for severity) on any check requiring the skill in question.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: Wizards cannot be illiterate. Barbarians always start illiterate, but they are simply untaught, not dyslexic.

Mental Retardation

Mental retardation, also called developmental delay, is diagnosed in anyone who has an IQ under 70, as well as problems in daily life. It is not a psychological disorder, but reflects biological, neurological, and developmental problems.

Mild MR: IQ 50-70. Can finish high school, live independently, and hold semiskilled jobs.

Moderate MR: IQ 35-50. Can achieve a second-grade education and hold unskilled jobs.

Severe MR: IQ 20-35. Can feed and dress self; can speak in two- or three-word sentences.

Profound MR: IQ under 20. Requires full-time care; speaks in single words or not at all.

Suitability for PCs: Depends on severity. PCs with mild or moderate MR can do well, if other PCs are willing to help them along; severe and profound MR disqualifies a character from becoming an adventurer.
Mechanical Suggestions: The low intelligence score of a character with MR is all that’s necessary, since the lack of skill points reflects the problems such a character faces in learning things.
Alignment Suggestions: Mild to moderate: None. Severe to profound: Usually True Neutral.
Likely Ability Scores: Depending on how your INT-to-IQ formula goes, assume mental retardation is likely for a character whose INT is below 6; definitely if it’s below 4. A character with an INT of 1 or 2 is not a PC, and can be assumed to have severe or profound mental retardation.
Race/Class Notes: An INT-dependent class like the Wizard should not have mental retardation. (Obviously.) Only play a character as though he had MR if his INT score is in the 3-6 range before (not after) racial modifiers; remember, if a low intelligence is normal for a race (such as an orc or a troll), then they are generally well-adapted to it and do not meet the “problems in daily life” criteria for MR.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The character’s mind tends to “stick” on an obsession, which he can’t stop thinking of. This obsession can be a word, an idea, or a fear. He also feels compelled to do things repeatedly, such as counting, washing, or checking things. He is aware that these things are nonsensical but cannot force himself to stop doing and thinking them.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. Be careful not to introduce an obsession which will interfere with the party or nullify your character’s usefulness.
Mechanical Suggestions: Use a relatively high Will save if your character wants to keep from performing a compulsion.
Alignment Suggestions: Tends to affect Lawfuls. Chaotic characters, however, are more distressed by OCD, since Chaotics are lovers of freedom and do not like to be compelled to do anything, even by their own minds.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Panic Disorder

The PC suffers from panic attacks, and may develop agoraphobia. Some panic attacks have no apparent cause; some have a trigger.
Suitability for PCs: Moderately suitable. A panic attack during battle can be quite crippling, so be sure you know what you’re doing. Agoraphobia is not suitable for PCs, since a refusal to leave one’s house interferes with travel!
Mechanical Suggestions: A panic attack generally lasts a few minutes; no longer than an hour. Depending on how long you want your character’s to last, have him go from shaken to frightened to panicked during the first half of the panic attack, and then back down the scale during the second half. You may choose not to go all the way to Panicked (most real-life panic attacks don’t actually cause the sufferer to run away). Agoraphobia can be treated like any other phobia.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: A low Will save is likely.
Race/Class Notes: Any race immune to fear is also immune to panic disorder.


The PC is extremely frightened of an event, item, or situation. He will avoid the object of his fear at all costs, by any means possible. Common phobias include animals, storms, heights, water, flying, small spaces, blood, embarrassing oneself, or being in a place other than one’s home (agoraphobia). In D&D, fear of magic, the undead, demons, or a type of monster may also be common.
Suitability for PCs: Depends on which phobia, really. Being frightened of cats may be entertaining, but what if your party has to defeat a dire lion, and the party fighter is panicked? Be prepared for these situations. While being afraid of cats is manageable, a fear of blood would not be—it would cripple the party fighter.
Mechanical Suggestions: A character with a phobia can make a save to be shaken (or frightened) instead of frightened (or panicked) when he encounters the object of his fear. Adjust the fear level to the severity of the phobia.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: A low Will save is likely.
Race/Class Notes: Any race immune to fear is also immune to phobias.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Caused by trauma, this is possibly the most common psychological disorder among PCs. While a PC who has experienced a traumatic event does not have to have PTSD, a PC with PTSD must have experienced a traumatic event. The primary problems such a PC has include nightmares, flashbacks, problems remembering (or refusal to remember) the event, trouble talking about the event, insomnia, panic attacks, irritability, constant vigilance, automatic response to threats, and being very easily startled. Consider PTSD for a PC with a traumatic background, or for an established PC who has experienced something more than the typical dangers faced by an adventurer. Research also the effects of PTSD on Vietnam veterans.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. Do avoid the clichéd “my village was raided by orcs” background, unless you can think of a way to make it interesting.
Mechanical Suggestions: A PC who is reminded of the event that caused his PTSD can be considered Shaken.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: Wisdom of14 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: None.


When you think of “insanity”, you are probably thinking of schizophrenia, arguably the most severe of the mental disorders. A very diverse illness, schizophrenia can involve delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (false sensations), and disorganized thought and action. It is episodic—someone who has schizophrenia can have normal thought processes sometimes, and sometimes be completely out of touch with reality. Since it usually has an onset in young adulthood, adventurers are exactly in the right age range to become schizophrenic.
Suitability for PCs: Probably unsuitable, except in narrow situations. The disorganized thought and delusions of the schizophrenic mind can really interfere with the party’s purposes—the hallucinations wouldn’t be so bad by themselves. A modified or milder form of schizophrenia, involving just hallucinations along with the delusion that they really exist might create a quirky but useful character; still, it takes both a good DM and a capable role-player who knows how not to take over the game!
Mechanical Suggestions: None.
Alignment Suggestions: Lawful characters are more likely to be extremely distressed by the onset of schizophrenia; but schizophrenia is genetic and can affect anyone.
Likely Ability Scores: Wisdom of 4 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: None.


Getting up from bed and walking around during the night while still asleep. Sleepwalkers can be safely awakened, but are disoriented for a minute afterwards.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable, unless you have an evil DM. A sleepwalking PC may blunder into danger or trigger alarms set to keep the party safe—but a clever DM can also use him to help the party discover plot hooks.
Mechanical Suggestions: Roll a percentile die at night to determine the chance of sleepwalking. Your character is either under the DM’s control or yours while sleepwalking—determine this beforehand. Sleepwalkers do not generally do things which are extremely dangerous, though injury is possible in unfamiliar environments.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications.
Race/Class Notes: None.

Somatization Disorder

The PC’s psychological distress is expressed in physical symptoms, such as numbness or paralysis in a part of the body, pain, nausea, digestive symptoms, or impairment in balance, vision, hearing, etc.
Suitability for PCs: Can be quite suitable or totally unsuitable—this depends on exactly what kind of somatization occurs.
Mechanical Suggestions: Treat as though the impairment were physical.
Alignment Suggestions: Lawfuls much more likely to suffer from somatization disorder. Since they are more likely to believe that calling attention to themselves and their troubles is unacceptable, Lawful characters may subconsciously express such problems in a more acceptable physical manner.
Likely Ability Scores: This is an exception to the rule that mental illnesses usually have no effect on physical symptoms: STR and DEX can both be affected by this disorder when it causes numbness, paralysis, dizziness, or pain.
Race/Class Notes: Over-controlled Monks and Paladins may be vulnerable.

Speech Impediments

Various forms of speech impediments exist, including deficits in pronunciation, an abnormally small vocabulary, or stuttering. A simple vocabulary or a speech impediment does not mean that the character’s intelligence is low—for an example, look at Pikel from the Cleric Quintet (Salvatore), who has normal intelligence and a severe speech impediment. Speech impediments are not usually psychological in origin, though they can cause low self-esteem. Stuttering, while it usually worsens with anxiety, probably has a neurological cause. Selective mutism is a psychological speech disorder in which someone who is able to speak, for some reason (usually trauma) does not speak.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable, if you’re willing to RP it.
Mechanical Suggestions: You may impose a penalty on Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Bluff.
Alignment Suggestions: None.
Likely Ability Scores: CHA of 14 or lower.
Race/Class Notes: Any class which depends on spoken spells should not have a speech impediment, unless you are willing to take Silent Spell as well, or else have a very good explanation (for example, a stutterer who learned magic and found that spells were the only time he didn’t stutter).

Personality Disorders

Rather than being classic mental illnesses (in which the brain does not function properly), personality disorders are diagnosed when a person’s outlook, way of thinking, and way of life causes distress for him and/or others. Some have argued that the personality disorders are not mental illness at all, but extreme variations of normal personality traits.The personality disorders are the main exception to “Any alignment can have any mental illness”. Because personality disorders are extreme versions of personality traits, and because alignment is closely associated with personality, some of these disorders occur only within certain alignments.

Paranoid Personality Disorder: Chronic mistrust and suspicion of other people, without any good reason to be suspicious.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. PCs often do have a good reason to be suspicious, though—meaning that not every paranoid PC actually has this disorder.
Alignment Suggestions: None, though Lawful people will often be suspicious of people plotting against the party (or some other organization they belong to), while Chaotic people will suspect everyone of plotting against them, personally.
Likely Ability Scores: CHA of 8 or loweer.

Schizoid Personality Disorder: This stereotypical “loner” cares little about other people, or about having any relationships with them. He takes little pleasure in life and does not have strong emotions.
Suitability for PCs: Not very suitable—not because it’s disruptive, but because playing a loner means missing the biggest part of role-play: Interacting with other PCs and the environment.
Alignment Suggestions: True Neutral or CN; unlikely to be either Good or Evil.
Likely Ability Scores: CHA of 8 or lower.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder: An eccentric person who behaves inappropriately in social situations, has strange beliefs, and speaks in a disorganized manner.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. If you want to play a schizophrenic character but don’t want to disrupt the game too much, SPD is a good choice.
Likely Ability Scores: CHA of 8 or lower.
Alignment Suggestions: CN.

Antisocial Personality Disorder: A pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others, as well as criminal behavior. Most serial killers have Antisocial Personality Disorder; but this is not necessary—some are simply ruthless businessmen, bullies, or jerks. People with APD can, however, be quite charming and manipulative—when they get something out of it.
Suitability for PCs: Only where Evil characters are allowed, and only when played by someone who can handle playing someone with essentially no conscience. Remember that an antisocial person cares most about himself, however; and that he will not commit an Evil act if he can see that it will not benefit him.
Likely Ability Scores: No Modifications. Likely to have high CHA and INT.
Alignment Suggestions: Always any Evil, especially CE. Consider someone with APD to be cured if he changes alignment away from Evil.

Borderline Personality Disorder: This person has unstable moods and does not have a stable self-concept. He tends to be impulsive and to define himself by his relationships with others, which are usually intense, chaotic, and brief. Low self-esteem is common.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable, but be prepared for other PCs to think your character is pretty annoying.
Likely Ability Scores: WIS of 8 or lower.
Alignment Suggestions: Always Chaotic.

Histrionic Personality Disorder: This person’s self-esteem depends on what others think of him. His moods shift rapidly; and his behavior is dramatic and often overly seductive.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable—but unlike your character, be careful that you do not demand the spotlight at all times.
Likely Ability Scores: WIS of 8 or lower.
Alignment Suggestions: Always Chaotic.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Believes that he is extremely important; very high self-esteem. Arrogant; willing to exploit others to benefit himself.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. Be prepared for the other PCs to think yours is pretty annoying—or else funny. Depends on how you play it!
Likely Ability Scores: Likely to have high INT and/or CHA.
Alignment Suggestions: Always Chaotic; usually non-Good.

Avoidant Personality Disorder: He’s constantly afraid you won’t like him, or that he’ll do something to embarrass himself. Chronically shy and nervous.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable.
Likely Ability Scores: CHA of 6 or lower.
Alignment Suggestions: None.

Dependent Personality Disorder: He’ll do anything for anyone—to the point of ignoring his own needs completely. The problem is, he can’t make decisions for himself, or take initiative for himself without someone else to depend on for advice and decision-making.
Suitability for PCs: Suitable. Talk to and arrange things with a fellow PC who is willing to help you play out this character’s extreme dependency.
Likely Ability Scores: WIS of 8 or lower.
Alignment Suggestions: Usually Good; sometimes Neutral; almost never Evil (though may end up in a relationship with an Evil character, as friend or partner, and be seduced, sometimes literally, into Evil).

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Extreme rigidity in way of life, routine, organization, and social interaction. Usually stiff and formal. Anxious about having his routine disturbed. (Note: Not the same as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.)
Suitability for PCs: Suitable.
Likely Ability Scores: No modifications.
Alignment Suggestions: Always Lawful.

Gods of the Shattered Pantheon

Denoth, God of the Sun /Arbiter of the Dawn
Sobriquets: The Dawnstar, The First(Dwarven), Bright-Face(Elven)
Symbol: A sunburst pierced through the center with a sword
Alignment: LG  / LN
Portfolio: The sun, just rule, leadership, the Shattered Pantheon / The sun, regulations, protection, the Shattered Pantheon
Worshippers: Nobles, aristocrats(or those who wish they were), some adventurers
Domains: Sun, Knowledge, Law, Fire
Favored Weapon: Divine Right (short sword) / Divine Right (light mace)

Aina, Herald of the Dawn /Daughter of the Sun
Sobriquets: The Shieldmaiden, Sun's Daughter(Elven)
Symbol: Denoth's symbol upon a tower shield
Alignment: CG / LG
Portfolio: Dawn, triumph, youth, healing / Family relations(particularly children respecting their parents), the morning hours, protection, youth
Worshippers: Female warriors, athletes, only children
Domains: Strength, Healing, Luck, Sun
Favored Weapon: A ray of sunlight (light hammer) / Denoth’s Hand (shield bash)

Gaden, The Sword of the Horizon / Lord of Twilight
Sobriquets: Warden of Shadows, Eve-blade(Elven), The Setting Sun(Dwarven and Halfling)
Symbol: The sun setting into a horizontal bastard sword
Alignment: LN  / N
Portfolio: Sunset/evening, battle, protection, the hearth/Vigilance, duels, fire(particularly watch-fires)
Worshippers: Adventurers, career soldiers, some duelists
Domains: Fire, Law, Protection, War
Favored Weapon: First Watch (bastard sword) / Horizon (longsword)

Wune, Father of the Gods
Sobriquets: The Hermit, Cliff-Dweller(Elven), Peakbeard(Dwarven)
Symbol: Any notched and worn weapon sticking out of the ground
Alignment: N
Portfolio: Retirement, reflection, perfection, fatherhood
Worshippers: Retired warriors/professionals, fathers, community elders, human monks
Domains: Knowledge, Earth, Law, Chaos
Favored Weapon: Old Friend (any one non-exotic weapon of the cleric’s choosing)

Turnskull, God of Death
Sobriquets: The Gardener(Halfling), The Strange One(Elven)
Symbol: A shovel sticking out of the earth
Alignment: LN
Portfolio: Death, flowers, patience, endings
Worshippers: Those who tend to the dead, farmers, some monks, warriors, and assassins
Domains: Death, Law, Plant, Earth
Favored Weapon: A shovel (cudgel)

Talasha/Nasha, Twin Goddesses of the Moons
Sobriquets: The Twins, The Moons, The Fickle, Star-sisters(Elven), Sky-Miners(Dwarven)
Symbol: Two women's faces: one whispering into another's ear.
Alignment: CN
Portoilio: Forbidden knowledge, fertility, the moons
Worshippers: Women, wizards, midwives, herbalists, astronomers, some rogues
Domains: Magic, Chaos, Healing, Knowledge
Favored Weapon: A Full Moon(sickle)/ A Starless Night(garrote)

Haloush, God of the Wind / The Eternal Gale
Sobriquets: The Winged One, Leafrustler(Elven), Mountainsong(Dwarven)
Symbol: A smiling man's face with wings for ears
Alignment: CN / N
Portfolio: Swift travel, freedom, birds, male sexuality / Strong winds, autumn, music(particularly wind instruments), hunting
Worshippers: Young men, archers, farmers,  hunters, travelers, some assassins and sailors
Domains: Air, Travel, Animal (birds only), Chaos
Favored Weapon: A bird in flight (short bow) /A whirlwind(throwing axe)

Saldol, Star-Thief/Dweller in Darkness
Sobriquets: The Night Sky, Scion of Secrets
Symbol: Several many-pointed silver stars against a black background
Alignment: CN / NE
Portfolio: Secrets, thievery, night, gems
Worshippers: Rogues, unfaithful lovers, blackmailers, miners, spies
Domains: Trickery, Chaos, Knowledge, Luck
Favored Weapon: A twinkle (dagger) / darkness (garrote)

Zane, Scion of Storms
Sobriquets: The Fury, Sky-Fire(Elven), Stormhammer(Dwarven)
Symbol: A rainbow
Alignment: CE
Portfolio: Natural disasters, thunderstorms, random misfortune, rainbows
Worshippers: Survivors of natural disasters, bloodthirsty warriors, some military strategists
Domains: Destruction, Luck, War, Strength
Favored Weapon: A rainbow (spiked chain)

Usharia, The Sea-Mother / Goddess of the Rain
Sobriquets: Weeping Maiden(Elven)
Symbol: A seashell
Alignment: NG / LG
Portfolio: The sea, motherhood, family, female sexuality (post-motherhood) / Rain, agriculture, fertility, marriage
Worshippers: Mothers, legitimate lovers(married, handfasted, etc.), any who rely on the sea
Domains: Water, Chaos(Law), Healing, Protection
Favored Weapon: A seashell (dagger) / A teardrop (sling)

Surrussus, The Stillborn / The Fisherman
Sobriquets: The Drowned Lord, The Forgotten
Symbol: A scaly hand gripping a conch shell
Alignment: NE / N
Portfolio: Scars, deep marine life, anger/hatred, the unborn, life at sea
Worshippers: The disfigured, sailors, expecting mothers, the rejected, some barbarians
Domains: Destruction, Animal (non-mammalian sea life only), Water, Strength
Favored Weapon: A broken heart(trident)/ Sorrow (net)

Mithia, Goddess of the Cresting Wave/Foamdancer
Sobriquets: The Mastmaiden
Symbol: A wave crashing upon the shore
Alignment: CG / CN
Portfolio: Exploration, marine life(particularly mammals), female sexuality(pre-motherhood)  / Sailing, dance, music, seduction
Worshippers: Young women, explorers(particularly seagoing ones), bards, some adventurers
Domains: Protection, Luck, Travel, Chaos
Favored Weapon: Waverider (cutlass) / A smile(dagger)