Appendix A - Classes and NPCs
CHOOSING A CLASS (p. 7)
There are only four professions in which a human character (demi-humans are classed by birth, but rarely exercise their innate talents out in the world) earns experience that allows him to progress through generic, standardized levels and attain skills the same way everyone else in his profession does. These are the so-called adventuring professions, whose ranks are limited to fighting men, thieves, clerics, and magic-users. There are no such things as third level farmers or fifth level diplomats, or any of that nonsense. When it comes to classes and levels there are only fighters, thieves, clerics, and magic-users.
How the universe knows to put which individuals in which slot (or any slot at all) is a mystery, but we can guess.
It’s easiest with clerics, as no cleric is allowed to draw on the powers of his god before he’s been inducted into his cult’s mysteries (or whatever). Nobody just ups and says, “Today I’m a cleric,” and immediately starts firing off “Light” or “Purify Food and Drink” because he’s suddenly feeling pious. The gods don’t play that way.
It’s trickier with magic-users. Anybody can use a magic item, but chugging a potion or reading off a scroll doesn’t mark one as a magic user. Learning the mysteries of magic and finally obtaining the skill to begin casting good, old-fashioned “Vancian” spells does. But this learning takes years; it can be many years from one’s first lesson to finally being able to cast a spell. For this reason, almost all magic-users get their training as apprentices to other magic-users, who, while still being composed mostly of loners, understand the value of having a dedicated gopher on hand.
The question arises: Once one has been marked by the universe as being a magic-user, how does the universe know when he stops acting as a magic-Well, magic-users have a pretty strict lifestyle code. The universe is going to know when a magic-user falls off the wagon.
It reaches the height of tricky with thieves. They have a pretty wide spread of skills in their class. Is a person who relies on merely one or possibly two of those skills at some point marked as a thief? If someone climbs a wall for some reason, does the universe say “Hey! We got a thief here!”? We intuit here that the universe only brands as “Thief” those characters that use all of the skills on the table, for good or ill. You may be a shifty, thuggish punk who likes stealing from kids or you can be an honorable man doing spy work for your country in a time of war: if those are your primary skills, you’re a thief, period, whether you’re in a guild or not.
The default class is Fighter. If you’ve received enough training in a weapon to use it without killing yourself, the universe marks you as a first level fighter. Note that the universe will mark you as something else if you gravitate to any of the other three classes. This universe hates multi-classing, and doesn’t allow it.
Also note that this means that while clerics and magic-users are by their training quite clear about what they are, the world has lots of “classed” fighters and thieves who have no idea that they are, in fact, “classed” and leveled fighters and thieves.
We call these people and their less-ignorant comrades NPCs. Your referee has had to invent a large variety of class-related NPCs for the simple fact that he wants lots guys around who are capable of kicking his players’ butts, but he really, really dislikes the idea that the world is full of so dang many active and retired adventurers. Really, in your typical RPG city, the dungeon-to-adventurer ratio must be so lopsided that whenever a new dungeon is discovered there’s a “Christmas Eve at the Department Store” scene where 500 greedy and starving adventurers, each one wanting to be the first one to the kill the bugbear, basically massacre each other outside the front door.
Not in this world, thank you. The referee wants his players and the other full-time adventurers in the world to be truly the rarest of the rare.
In all four classes, there are four types of characters. From top to bottom they are:
One Hit Dandies
These are the characters listed in the Labyrinth Lord rulebook. Your character may only be a full-time professional. Once his activity level changes, he risks being permanently retired as a lower-type NPC. It is only this type of adventurer that will seek out danger, enter the monster-filled depths, explore haunted ruins, and seek out mysterious islands just for fun and, sometimes, profit. Even at low levels these insane individuals can be known by name.
The difference between a class professional and a full-time adventurer comes down to (1) hit points and toughness, and (2) class professionals don’t adventure.
It is possible in this universe to advance in levels and earn XP solely through training without having to adventure at all. In fact, this can only make sense when one considers how many members there of each class, but how dangerous the world would have to be in order to account for them to increase in levels. The Church of Healing needs clerics and pastoral support. They can’t be getting decent additions to their ranks by sending the newbies out to the dungeons to kill enough orcs so that they reach a point where they become useful in the hospital. Imagine the attrition rate! So it makes sense that one doesn’t need to adventure to raise in level. The fantasy world needs to be greased with more than monster blood in order to work like a fantasy world should.
What the class professional also lacks, besides the insanity that drives men underground to fight monsters, is the kind of HP count and toughness his full-time adventuring counterpart has. The universe leaves it up to itself to decide what the gap is on an encounter-to-encounter basis.
Some class professionals, it should be mentioned, will by virtue of their experience and history be de facto full-time professionals. Think of policemen in a large, tough town. They may have never seen an orc, but they can still bust heads as well as you can. Think of the mad wizard who hasn’t left his tower since he entered it 137 years ago as a teenage apprentice. He, too, has never adventured, but he’s effectively a 20th level magic-user by virtue of his lifetime of study and training. Mess with him at your own risk since a mage like that doesn’t need a high hit point count to deal with the likes of you. You can’t say you weren’t warned.
ONE HIT DANDIES (or, 1HD)
Most non-adventurers fall into this type. These are best exemplified by the hordes of young lords and minor royalty who learn all their swordplay in the gymnasiums of the city, advancing in skill but not at all in hp or toughness. They are in love with the duel. And they can fight well, primarily against each other. Against a full-time adventurer they can still be dangerous. If a fifth level full-time fighter squares of against thirteenth level 1HD, the 1HD will go down on the first hit, but the chances of that hit occurring before the 1HD has carved the fifth level fighter up aren’t too great.
By and large One Hit Dandies die messily, but put up a heck of a fight before they go down.
The guy who can fight like a 10th level paladin and take abuse like he has 100 hit points, and who’s been like that since he was a kid? He’s a savant. He’ll never progress, though.
The members of the royal line of the Kingdom of Deus Ex Machina who all seem born with the ability to cast powerful magic? Savants.
Savants quietly and usually unknowingly dot the landscape. It s argued by sages that they are actually more rare than full-time adventurers. Whatever the case, they exist, and the universe will occasionally use them to flesh out otherwise less-interesting parts of the world.
YOU CAN’T TELL BY LOOKING AT THEM WHICH IS WHICH
And this is important to know when you’re someplace like in a rowdy bar. In this campaign, I’ll give you a dungeon to explore, but I won’t force you into situations you’re not ready for. Instead, I’ll simply give you a choice of doors, suggest to you that Door A is the one you want, but I won’t prevent you from walking through Door B. I also won’t take the dragon that waits behind Door B into change him into a more level-appropriate encounter just to make your life easier. Ya picks your door, ya takes your chances.
In that same spirit, I’m not going to tailor a bar for your level of experience. The patron list of a bar is drawn up before you even think about entering. My level spread in the cities is 1 through 20. You won’t know if the guy you just insulted is a 2nd level thief or a 15th level cleric of the Church of Insane Hatred of Adventurers until the fight starts.
It’s all to keep you on your toes.
And to keep things fun for me.