Classes (Years of Gold)
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Here are listed the classes available to players, as well as the changes made to them to fit them into the setting. At the Dungeon Master's discretion, classes from other sources can be included as well, but care should be taken especially with spellcaster classes. The low-magic setting of Years of Gold is balanced around the modified cleric, sorcerer and wizard spellcaster classes.
The classes outlined here are just the framework for your character, not a cut-and-paste identity you have to follow. The barbarian doesn't have to come from the cold north (and the north isn't even cold in Pansaer): he could very well be an athletic aristocrat that loses control when he drinks too much. Think of ways the class could represent your character, not the other way around.
- Common races: human, goliath
The many wild folks of Pansaer train as barbarians to increase their deadliness. The human marauder tribes that live in the rugged prairie of Remoras are feared in the west, and goliaths have a long tradition of powerful, animist warriors. Especially those among the goliath numbers who are born with the blessing of lycantrophy make excellent warriors when trained as barbarians.
The barbarian class is identical to the standard D&D barbarian class, and fills the same role: that of heavy melee hitter and hit point tank. With the downshifting of the spellcasting classes, barbarian becomes a more viable option as damage dealers, and are a great main fighter in any adventuring party.
Mechanically: As the barbarian class outlined in the Player's Handbook
|Some clerics, such as this goliath |
reject the comforts of society.
- Found mostly in the western and eastern kingdoms
- Common races: human, dwarf
The clerics follow one of the titan pantheon's gods, with Auri and Ahti being the most common. Some naturally-occurring clerics exist, receiving power from the gods without understanding the source: they serve as priests or sages in places where the clerical profession is unknown. How they receive their power is not fully understood - since the titan-gods are indifferent to the plight of humans, it seems odd that they'd lend their hand to them so freely.
Clerics are the protective, buffing spellcasters of Years of Gold, and have lost some of their usual kick, what with the smaller spell list, just one domain and no turning undead. This seeks to make the class both more balanced (it's still plenty strong, mind you) and to focus the flavor and mechanics as healers, protectors and tanks.
Mechanically: As the cleric class outlined in the Player's Handbook, except as follows:
- Undead on Pansaer are not animated by some magical force that permeates the world, but by case-by-case arcane devices and tricks. Thus, clerics can't turn or rebuke undead, except for clerics of Auri with the Sun domain, who can use the domain's greater turning power as normal.
- The lack of an universal alignment system means that clerics have no aura of alignment.
- Clerics only choose one domain from the deity they serve.
- A cleric chooses whether he or she channels positive or negative energy when entering the class. Traditionally, clerics of Auri, Mieli and Morran channel positive energy and clerics of Luni, Ahti and Groke channel negative energy, but it is not enforced. The two energy types generally carry no stigma in Pansaer, with some exceptions.
- The cleric spell list is as follows:
- 0: all from Player's Handbook and Player's Handbook II except detect magic
- 1st: all except blade of bloodPHB2 and summon monster I
- 4th: all except bleaknessPHB2, blessing of the righteousPHB2 and summon monster IV
- 5th: all except summon monster V
- 9th: all except summon monster IX
In addition, see the list of changes to spells under Spells.
- Common races: human, dwarf, dunner, goliath
The fighters of Pansaer come in many flavors: some are boorish city guards or noble's escorts of the decadent western metropolises; others are the elite soldiers of the battlefields of Remoras; and others still are the dervish warriors of the Red Wastes. Wherever they come from, fighters are respected for their prowess in battle and for their devotion to improving themselves.
Fighters in standard D&D are feat-monkeys and build-enablers, as well as a sensible class choice in and of themselves. In a low-magic setting, a fighter packs more of a punch and can easily be the main damage dealer of an adventuring party, but can also work as secondary warrior, enabling flanks and harassing foes with tricks (tripping, disarming and so on)
Mechanically: As the fighter class outlined in the Player's Handbook
- Common races: human, goliath
Gladiator is a hyperonym for all the various kinds of heroes and villains who fight for glory and for money. They are masterful combatants, relying less on brute force and more on overcoming foes with superior displays of swordsmanship and tactics. They are also capable manipulators of people's emotions, crumbling a foe's confidence through jeers and threats.
A gladiator can serve both as the main fighter or the support fighter of the group, depending on his gear, feat choices and party makeup. While a gladiator can do many things, they are nonetheless best when supported by other classes: a bulkier warrior to take the edge off of combat; a cleric to buff and heal; or a spellcaster to weaken enemies for him.
Mechanically: As the gladiator class
- Found mostly in Fort Brunid, Dharuum, Carag Vorn
- Common races: human, dwarf
The honorable warrior-lords of the civilized lands, knights of old were respected as heroes of the people. But with the king's decline in the west and the sultan's indifference in the east, the knightly orders have lost much of their old glory. Only the dwarven knights of Carag Vorn, called hammerbearers, still hold on to their status.
Knights are a great support-warrior hybrid, and the lower level of magic means their abilities feel more special and important. The changes to the gaming system and to other classes, as well as the lack of a strict alignment system, should make the normally fairly unwieldy class a little easier and more pleasant to play.
Mechanically: As the knight class outlined in the Player's Handbook II
|Those with enough prowess|
may resemble monks in skill,
even if not formally trained.
- Common races: human, dunner
Monks are extremely rare on the continent, with the only monasteries that train martial monks being in the twin cities of Irid and Eros. However, the flavor of monks is pliable: a monk character could very well be a dunner sailor from Calimport, who has reached nearly superhuman levels of dexterity and focus from decades at sea.
With no piles of magic items to support them, other classes pale at comparison when looking at the AC and durability of a monk. Early levels with monks are often somewhat boring in standard D&D (with low attack bonus and few tricks at your disposal), but this should be somewhat revamped in Years of Gold, which seeks to concentrate on the early levels.
Mechanically: As the monk class outlined in the Player's Handbook, except as follows:
- Since the alignment system isn't in use, the normal restriction of only lawful creatures becoming monks is void. This also means the monk's Ki Strike ability does not make his or her attacks lawful.
- Monks don't gain Ethereal Body at level 19, and when gaining Perfect Self at level 20, the monk retains his or her normal types and subtypes instead of becoming an outsider.
- Monks have full base attack bonus (as fighter) instead of their usual base attack bonus gain, and receive AC bonus according to the table below. In a world with few magic items and low gold levels, monks are even more feeble than they'd normally be, and thus their base abilities are higher to balance it out.
|Level||AC Bonus||Level||AC Bonus|
- Found mostly in Dunas, Chestwood, the Red Wastes
- Common races: human, dunner, goliath, goblin
The hardy men of the wilderness, rangers in Pansaer are a common sight; in some areas perhaps even more common than fighters. They are the scouts, spies and wanderers of the land, each with their own agenda and specific set of skills. With their animal companions they make an effective tag team.
Unlike their standard D&D counterpart, rangers in Years of Gold have no magical abilities, freeing you to concentrate on building an effective tracker and combatant. The animal companion gained at level one makes the ranger superb for tag-team tactics, and the perfect secondary warrior.
Mechanically: As the ranger class outlined in the Player's Handbook, except as follows:
- Rangers have no spellcasting abilities, and can't cast spells. They instead receive their animal companion at first level to compensate for the lowered effectiveness, and their effective druid level for the ability is equal to their ranger level.
- Common races: dunner, goblin
Rogues are especially common in port towns and in Dharuum, where the sultan employs their kind as assassins and scouts. Legendary rogues, those who sneak into a church of Auri, steal the abbot's scepter, lay with his daughter and smear the god-statue with mud are a source of joy to the downtrodden people of the continent.
The small races of dunners and goblins dominate the rogue field, but creatures from all races can train themselves in the shadowy arts. Rogues still dominate as skill-monkeys and sneak attackers, and in a world with nerfed spellcasters, can occasionally actually use their roguish abilities.
Mechanically: As the rogue class outlined in the Player's Handbook
|This unfortunate sorcerer|
was born with
- Found in all regions of Pansaer
- Common races: all
Anomalies from birth, sorcerers are people born with a variety of supernatural abilities that defy explanation. Every sorcerer is unique: no two share the same exact abilities, and more importantly no two execute their "magic" the same way. They often exhibit physical signs of their inner powers: strange colors of hair or eyes, unnatural beauty or casting no shadow. Some unfortunate ones even have outright deformities.
Sorcerers come from all races and walks of life, and each reacts to them in their own fashion: for example, dwarves shun and mistreat their sorcerers, while goblin consider their powers a boon to be used. Feel free to roleplay your powers uniquely: for example, your sorcerer could use his powers by entering a short trance and speaking in tongues, and be called a witch.
Sorcerers have been nerfed fairly hard, with their spell list receiving a major overhaul and them losing the familiar (though more for flavor reasons). They're still a fantastic offensive spellcaster choice, which the revamped spell list represents perfectly: they receive few protective spells, focusing on the flashy stuff like fireball and enlarge person. Remember that since sorcery is a natural mutation, it should be explained as such in character creation, whether you take the class at first level or at a later time.
Mechanically: As the sorcerer class outlined in the Player's Handbook, except as follows:
- Sorcerers have no familiar. They're a natural phenomenon of the world, and neither attract nor seek out an animal to bend to their will; that's a wizard's trick.
- The sorcerer spell list is as follows (new spells bolded):
- 2nd: acid arrow, fog cloud, glitterdust, web, daze monster, touch of idiocy, darkness, flaming sphere, gust of wind, scorching ray, shatter, blindness/deafness, ghoul touch, spectral hand, alter self, pyrotechnics, cloud of knivesPHB2, mage's grave mistPHB2, black karma cursePHB2, whelming blastPHB2, striking fistPHB2, warding handPHB2, electric vengeancePHB2, seeking rayPHB2, blinding color surgePHB2, lesser energy surgePHB2
In addition, see the list of changes to spells under Spells. Note that sorcerer spells are inherently different from wizard spells in that sorcerer spells are natural powers whereas wizard spells are the result of a complicated thought process and study. This means that sorcerer spells have no spell school and don't count as the same spell as a similar spell cast by a wizard, although they can be dispelled as normal.
- Found in Dunas, the Spire
- Common races: human, dwarf, goblin
There is no unseen force of magic that flows through Pansaer; creatures with "magical" powers are exhibiting supernatural abilities unique to those creatures, instead of aping some spell or other. The only exception to this rule is wizards. They've discovered that the world runs on two metaphorical principles: the Word and the Law. The Word is the set of rules that governs the world right down to the minuscule details: things fall downwards at a certain velocity, fire is so-and-so degrees if burning coal and so forth - its what you'd call the laws of physics.
The Law is the universal force that makes the things outlined in the Word happen. The world knows that a spear, thrust at human skin and muscle, should penetrate that flesh in a certain way, but it is the Law that makes those things happen. It's what you'd call actual physics. Wizards have discovered that if one knows perfectly, down to the last detail, how the Word of a certain phenomenon works, they can use their force of will to rewrite the Word, and then the Law takes care of the rest. A wizard might, for example, study every facet of heat, burning, desiccation and warmth, and then momentarily rewrite the Word to state that fire does not burn him, and the Law makes it so.
Wizards, as a spellcasting class in a low-magic setting, have received a large revamp and have been fairly nerfed. They remain a strong spellcaster option, but their new spell list focuses more on wizardly effects, supporting acts and buffs than it does on outright force and, basically, everything.
Mechanically: As the wizard class outlined in the Player's Handbook, except as follows:
- Wizards don't receive Scribe Scroll at first level, nor do they receive bonus feats every five levels; the spellcasting options presented ought to give enough room for interesting gameplay, and the low-magic world of Pansaer doesn't lend itself well to magic item creation anyhow.
- All wizards choose three schools to draw their spells from, since attempting to study every facet of the Word would be impossible, even if a creature had ten lifetimes. Wizards can never cast spells from outside their chosen schools, except for universal spells. A wizard can choose to have a school specialization, but in that case can only ever learn spells from that school. Flavorfully, wizards have invariably trained either at the academy of the Spire or under the tutelage of a Spire-trained wizard, and aren't considered true members of the order before they've passed the examinations there.
- The wizard spell list is as follows:
- 0: all from Player's Handbook and Player's Handbook II
- 1st: all
- 2nd: all
- 3rd: all
- 4th: all
- 5th: all
- 7th: all
- 8th: all except temporal stasis
- 9th: all
In addition, see the list of changes to spells under Spells.
- Found in all regions of Pansaer
- Common races: all
The rank-and-file of the world do not reach the level of competency player characters have, and thus advance by NPC class (adept, aristocrat, commoner, expert and warrior) as in standard D&D. Players still can't advance in NPC classes - they are reserved for the lesser folk.
Of note is that adepts represent a variety of roles in the setting: some might be lesser forms of sorcerers, with lower powers; others, wizards who haven't quite reached the level of their colleagues; and others still, people with magical powers that come from one of the gods or a being of equal power - for example, a dragon.
from the east.
- Common races: dunner, goblin
Where there's nobles, there's assassins. Someone always needs a throat cut or a goblet poisoned, and when the street thugs and common rogues are no longer enough, a wealthy man hires an assassin. There are several assassin's guilds and similar organizations on Pansaer, but they all share a common theme: a man's life is worth something, and can be bought.
Assassins are a natural extension of a rogue's abilities, but can also be a wonderful addition to any other melee combatant. Remember that roleplaying is key: if you're only becoming an assassin to further empower your character, you're missing out. Joining an assassin's guild is wonderful ground for interaction with NPCs, and the reactions of other player characters to your choice of profession can be equally interesting.
Mechanically: As the assassin prestige class outlined in the Player's Handbook II, except as follows:
- Since the alignment system isn't in use, the normal restriction of only evil creatures becoming assassins is void.
- Assassins have no spellcasting ability, but instead choose one of the following at each level: cat's grace, disguise self, detect poison, feather fall, freedom of movement, ghost sound, glibness, jump, obscuring mist, pass without trace, spider climb and true strike. The assassin can use the chosen ability as an extraordinary ability once per day. The assassin can choose to gain another daily use of an ability he or she knows instead of gaining a new ability. These represent natural abilities honed to perfection instead of supernatural powers: for example, true strike could be played to represent incredible concentration or dumb luck, while detect poison could represent supreme olfactory powers.
- Common races: human, dunner
In a world where magic is subdued, a master of swordplay can shine. Duelists are the shiniest examples of such blademasters: they can represent pirate captains, roguish nobles, heartless killers and more. Dunners from various walks of life are especially common as duelists, since their small size, city-sized ego and quick reflexes make them natural fencers.
Duelists are a good way for a fighter, a gladiator, a rogue or even a monk to continue their development. Since there are no official duelist schools or guilds (due to the class representing a wide variety of roles), the roleplaying opportunities are great as well: are you being trained by a world-weary swordmaster of Remoras? Do you copy your trade from following in the footsteps of your dastardly idol?
Mechanically: As the duelist prestige class outlined in the Player's Handbook II
- Common races: dwarf, goliath
Defenders are the epitome of defensive might and the culmination of intense training. Defenders are usually the finest and most experienced knights and warriors of cities and tribes, used to holding their ground against those who would push them around. They are especially common among the goliaths of Ghaer and recently of Tull, since they traditionally practice games like king of the hill where the ability to stand still is paramount.
As long as there's a logical explanation for your character to be the kind of warrior who counts as a defender, he can take up the prestige class. A defender is the ultimate tank, and should strive to fulfill that role alongside a more traditional damage dealer.
Mechanically: As the dwarven defender prestige class outlined in the Player's Handbook II, except as follows:
- There's no need for a defender to be dwarven.
- Since the alignment system isn't in use, the normal restriction of only lawful creatures becoming defenders is void.
- Found mostly in Fort Brunid, Carag Vorn
- Common races: dwarf
The mightiest and most devoted of dwarven fighters and knights (and occasionally those of other races, if the lords of Carag Vorn allow it) can train to become hammerers: bringers of justice and destroyers of the enemies of dwarven civilization. Hammerers use their namesake weapon to deadly effect, allowing them to take down foes that resist even the toughest blows.
In roleplaying terms, a player character can become a hammerer only through being trained by an elder dwarven hammerer. Usually, only dwarves are allowed to follow this path, but recently the gold of Fort Brunid has bought the opportunity to some humans and even a few members of other races. Hammerers serve as superb damage dealers, and an enterprising fighter or knight who desires roleplaying opportunities and a kick-ass weapon should look no further.
Mechanically: As the hammerer prestige class
- Found mostly in Remoras, the Red Wastes
- Common races: human, goblin
Sun and shadow play tricks on the mind of those who dwell in the northern side of Caragos Eavorn. A gifted few are born with the ability to manipulate their shadow, as well as shadows near them. This strange mutation, similar to the one sorcerers possess (see above), gives them supernatural powers, but makes them widely feared and hated. As a result, many join cults for acceptance and a chance to use their powers without fear of repercussion. Some clerics and other chosen of Groke Who Is Cold are known to possess this mutation, either as a god-given gift or as an arcane trick.
Only those who are born with the shadowy gift or those granted such powers by a divine being can become shadowdancers: it's a good idea to roleplay this upcoming choice from the start. A rogue or monk who becomes a shadowdancer is a credible threat, but keep in mind that in the low-magic setting of Years of Gold, magical spectacles are an unwanted thing - keep your powers hidden.
Mechanically: As the shadowdancer prestige class outlined in the Player's Handbook II, except as follows:
- A character doesn't need five ranks in Perform (dance) to become a shadowdancer. In this, the name is misleading.
- Common races: goliath
The distant reaches of the Tumbling Fells and Ghaer hide the eldest goliath tribes, who claim direct lineage from the titan gods. Among them, the secrets of an ancient art are nurtured: those born under a patron animal, whether goliath by birth or by culture, can take on the visage of their beastly deity. They are the skinwalkers, respected and feared alike.
The art of skinwalking isn't a form of magic or a racial quirk, but rather a blessing from the animist deities the goliaths venerate. Thus, anyone born and raised in goliath culture (and in exceedingly rare situations those inducted into the race) can become skinwalkers. They are superb close combat fighters, and give any class that wouldn't normally participate in the fray a touch of melee happiness.
Mechanically: As the skinwalker prestige class
- Bard: In the low-magic, grim fantasy setting of Years of Gold, a side-lined, music-themed spellcaster is neither flavorfully or mechanically appropriate. As a support class, players will find cleric to be more interesting.
- Beguiler: Much of the same reasons for excluding beguilers hold true as they do for the bard: an illusionist with roguish tendencies can be played as a wizard, or as a rogue if magic is not the focus.
- Dragon Shaman: The revamped flavor of dragons doesn't lend itself well to including this class, and the features of dragon shamans are too fantastical for the setting. Dungeon Masters can use the class as a foe, however, perhaps as the enchanted champion of a dragon.
- Druid: Much of the same reasons for excluding druids hold true as they do for the bard: the savage themes of the druid can be roleplayed with barbarians (and clerics, if magic is part of the charm) and the shapechanging is the exclusive domain of the skinwalkers.
- Duskblade: Much of the same reasons for excluding duskblades hold true as they do for the bard: the feel of magical fighters is off, going into high fantasy territory that the setting does not strive for.
- Paladin: A rigorous, alignment-oriented class of semi-spellcasters does not fit the setting, especially mechanically. There is no need for the class in the setting, and in most cases the cleric can substitute. If a tank is what you want, consider playing a knight.
- Expanded classes: The expanded classes outlined in Player's Handbook II are strongly advised against, but if the Dungeon Master allows it, you can choose one. Those expanded classes the improve the spellcasting of a class or increase its magical potential are right out.
- Prestige classes: Most of the prestige classes outlined in the Player's Handbook II are not included as choice for players in Years of Gold, mostly for flavor reasons but also for balance. Dungeon Masters are allowed and even encouraged to build custom prestige classes, perhaps using the prestige classes of other books as a base while keeping in mind the setting.