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Alternate Race and Class mechanics

by Cab Davidson

The 'race class' concept never sat right for me. Its quick, its easy, but ultimately its not quite as interesting or believable as allowing members of different races to pick up whichever classes make most sense within a campaign. So quite a long time ago I scribbled down how I would split the two; after many years of continual playtesting I can say that the following works, at least in my own game.

1. Class and Race Combinations

Really, it doesn't matter what races and classes you allow, its all down to how things work in your campaign. Do you want to allow elves to be clerics? Fine. Dwarf mages? Okay. Doesn't matter, if thats your game world or subsetting then allow it. But be consistent; think through what race and class combinations make sense and stick with it. Come up with a sensible selection and allow your players to choose from among them.

2. Hit Points

Members of different races may, in your campaign, get different HP totals. Simply put, I shift dice down one for 'small' races (halflings, kobolds, gnomes), medium sized races get the same hit point rolls as for humans of each class, and large races get a +1 dice shift. The smallest dice used is a d4, the largest a d10. For example, a halfling thief, magic user or cleric would get 1d4hp per level, whereas a halfling fighter would get 1d6. A dwaf-giant mage (should such an entity make sense in your campaign) would get 1d6 per level, whereas a fighter would get 1d10.

3. Ability Scores

When characters are generated, I allow players to modify ability scores according to race, according to the following table (although I haven't figured the table thing yet... :

  Strength Intelligence Wisdom Dexterity Constitution Charisma
Halfling -1 0 0 +1 0 0
Kobold -1 0 +1 +1 0 -1
Orc 0 0 0 0 0 -1
Elf 0 +1 -1 0 0 0
Dwarf +1 0 0 -1 +1 -1
Human 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rakasta +2 -1 -2 +1 +1 0
Lupin +1 0 -1 -1 +1 +1
Gnome -1 0 +1 +1 -1 0

4. Saving Throws

I use saving throws based entirely on race rather than class. Makes things easy. However different races do use tables modified from the class tables in the RC. In the standard order for saves (death ray or poison, wands, paralysis, breath, rod/staff/spell

Halfling - Thief saves +3 +3 +3 +2 +3
Kobold - Use fighter -1 -2 -2 -2 -1
Orc - Use fighter          
Elf - Use MU +2 +2 +1 +1 +2
Dwarf - Use fighter +3 +3 +3 +2 +3
Human - Use fighter          
Rakasta - Use fighter +1 -1 -1 +1 +1
Lupin - Use fighter +1 -1 +1 -1 +1
Gnome - Use thief +3 +3 +3 +2 +3

Note that no basic saving throw can be modified below a 2.

5. Racial abilities

Demi-human races get the standard racial abilities from the RC. Gnomes get the dwarven detection suite, 90' infravision. Rakasta and lupins gain abilities as outlined in Dragon magazine. Orcs and kobolds get 60' infravision, kobolds get free skills 'trap engineering' and 'set snares'

6. Experience

I allow every character to advance as far as level 36, but it isn't as easy for every race. Each gets a modifier to the XP total required for each level, thus:

Halfling +5%
Kobold no modifier
Orc no modifier
Elf +10%
Dwarf +10%
Human no modifier
Rakasta +10%
Lupin +10%
Gnome +5%