Friday, February 11, 2011

Three Companions - Class and Race

Each of the three companion books has new classes and/or races - here is a quick breakdown at the high level:

JB's B/X Companion - this book stays the closest to the Moldvay rules system and doesn't add much. He only added the Bard class. This is a class only for humans, and seems to be pretty similar to the 3rd edition take on the class. They can create spell effects through their music which can enchant, charm, etc... their listeners. These powers get stronger as they advance. Bards can only reach 8th level. A really cool idea that JB added was giving high level thieves some new abilities. I really liked this option. High level deminhumans can continue to gain experience and fighting power, although they can't gain new HP (this may have been templated from the Mentzer book).

Mentzer Companion - Mentzer keeps the core classes from his re-writing of the Moldvay rules, but adds some options for Name level characters. 9th level Neutral clerics can choose to become Druids, gaining new powers and an altered spell list, but losing some of their clerical abilities. Fighters of name level and higher can choose to become Paladins, Knights, or Avengers. Each of these choices gives the fighter some new abilities and some cool roleplaying aspects, but otherwise the fighter is mostly still a fighter. Mentzer also allows deminhumans to gain EXP beyond their max level and some fighting powers. He also added some really cool ideas on how to give the deminhumans some traditional magical items that are related to demihuman culture. I really liked this concept.

Barratarria Companion Expansion - being an "expansion" this book had a wealth of new character classes and races. I can't cover these all in detail so I will call out some highlights. They had a BARD class that can level up to LVL 36 and looked a lot like the ADD 1st/2nd edition BARD. They also had a druid class that was similar to the ADD version. They had some druidic wildwood elves - but I wasn't a major fan of this idea. I think I would have preferred they give Elves some additional "elven" spells that are nature related. I've seen Elf nature spell lists for several campaign worlds (making them different than the typical spells used by Human mages which helps to make Elves different). Gnomes again are pretty similar to dwarves & halflings with some added spell lists, I think I would rework the Gnome class if I decided to add it to my game. They also added Scouts (which are pretty much rangers) and the Half-Elf/Half-Orc class which are pretty much Scouts. They also had a separate illusionist class. All of these options are pretty close to their AD&D counterparts. This expansion gives you almost all the options of AD&D but set at the power level and rules compatibility of B/X DnD. This is very similar to the approach of the Labyrinth Lord AEC. They also had a cool Half-Ogre class - I thought about changing this class and making it into the Cyclops of the "Krull" class. I don't know why - but I'm kind of obsessed with Rel the Cyclops.

Overall -

I don't see me adding most of these Barrataria classes to my regular B/X gaming. I think I would go with the more conservative route of Mentzer - allowing some cool options at high level and no new 1st level classes. I might be tempted to add a single class from the Companion Expansion or Labyrinth Lord AEC if one of my players was really excited about playing it. I'd like to add a Gnome race, but alter it a bit from the Companion Expansion version. I'll think about that and maybe post one up online.