Friday, April 23, 2010

Alfar Berserker

[After thinkering over the feedback I got in my first Berserker Post I decided to change things up a bit. Below I present the complete GnG Alfar Berserker class for Labyrinth Lord or B/X, BECMI, RC, whatever float your Swanboat. Needs play testing but I think I'm done messing with it before I see how it plays.]

Alfar / Elves

The Fey know them as the Alvar Vekk (Fallen|Low|Lost Fey), men call them Elves, Alfar is the name they themselves use.  Long ago they turned their backs on their Fey cousins and the Mythic World. They embraced The Mundane. Ploughed the meadows, cut the woods and mtns pilling them into cities, learned science and technology. In a word they civilized and the other Fey have never forgiven them.

Elves cluster into large family clans.  Most clans have banded together into city-states.  Elves are fiercely loyal to their clan and city-state.  Competition, raiding and out right war is common between the city-states.  Known for exploration and colonization.  Their lodges and larger colonies may be found anywhere.  Sighting the prows of their flying Swanships on the horizon presages either a violent and merciless raid or a profitable trade meet.

Although various colonies and individual elf groups have adopted most other pantheons at one time or another the majority elves follow the Asgardian pantheon. Espcially Odin+Frigg and children (Tyr, Bragi, Baldur), Thor+Sif, and Loki.  These gods have taught and influenced elves to adopt much of the culture and attitudes of Earth's Norsemen.

Alfar Traits:
  • "Slight Build" - 120lbs, 5-5.5' tall. Can wear only Light and Medium armor.
  • "Unchanging" - Long lives, thousands of years. Most elves die of heartache or misfortune before old age reaches them.
  • "Noble" - Graceful and beautiful by human standards.
  • "Sly" - Acute sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. 2 in 6.
  • "Star-eyed" - Low-light vision, see clearly with very little light.
  • "Myth Born" - No chance of using Ancient tech*. -2 saves vs magic.
  • "Look Elves!" - Loved by Hobbits, +2 reaction rolls. 
  • "Fallen" - Despised by Fey, -4 reaction with Fey including Gnomes, Dwarfs, and Unseelie. Resistant to Fey magicks, +4 on saves vs Fey magick.

Alfar Berserker (Thor's Children)
Requirements:     INT 9
Prime Requisite:  STR and CON
Max Level:        9, upon reaching 9th lvl Valkyries arrive and take you to Valhalla
Hit Dice:         d8
Combat:           as fighter, 1h d6, 2h d8, Martial Skill
Saves:            as fighter
Level:            as fighter
Languages:        Elven (low fey)
Ethos:          Red only. Most are members of Thor's Cult.

"Berserkers stand and fight because if you run, you'll only die tired."
Must have 13+ in both STR an CON to earn 5% xp bonus.  Must have a CON of 16+ and STR of 13+ to earn 10% xp bonus.  Note: high Wisdom is a detriment for Berserkers making it hard for them to work themselves into and sustain berserkergang.  All Berserkers hold Thor in great esteem for it is his hate and anger that fuels their berserkergang frenzy.  Most are active members of his cult.  If there was any doubt all Berserkers follow the Red ethos*.  A Berserker may earn the right to various titles (wolf, bear, beast, dragon).  To do so they must kill the title's creature and wear it's pelt.

Berserkergang: During combat, whenever they take damage, a Berserker may attempt to work themselves into a berserker rage by rolling 2d6+damage >= their Wisdom score (2 always fail).  Hit point damage received is added as a modifier to the berserker rage roll.  Berserkers may attempt this roll every time they are hit for damage.

Berserkergang lasts until Berserker does not attack (for whatever reason) or Berserker fails to hit at least once in a round and also fails a sustain rage roll, 2d6+lvl >= Wisdom score (2 always fail).  Berseker's level is added as a modifier to the sustain rage roll.

After the berserkergang leaves them, Berserkers are mentally and physically exhausted.  Until they rest (during post combat recovery) Berserkers suffer the following effects.  Cannot work themselves into a berserker rage.  Have a -2 penalty to all activities; to hit, skill rolls, saves including Death & Dismemberment rolls!

Effects of berserkergang:
  • Must opt for direct melee attacks over other activities. I.e. will not use ranged weapons, tricky combat maneuvers, stop to drink potion, stand still to receive healing, seek cover, withdraw, etc.
  • Will use their most damaging preferably two-handed weapon.
  • Will not use a shield other than to bash with. Does not gain any defensive benefit from shields.
  • Receives a bonus to saves vs charm, friends, command, fear, etc. and moral checks equal to their level.
  • Does 2x damage.  I.e. Roll normal damage die, multiply by 2, add modifiers.
  • If required to roll on Death and Dismemberment Table, may roll twice taking best result and ignores stunned and knocked out results
  • Gains "Bloodlust"* and "Slaughterhouse"*.

Berserker Pelt
Berserker's who kill a wolf, bear, beast, or dragon earn the title wolf|bear|etc-slayer and the right to wear it's pelt.  A Berserker who drenches their pelt in the blood of 99 battles and takes it to 9 places holy to Thor may sacrifice themselves with this pelt.  If Thor is pleased he will return Berserker to Midgard as a shapeshifter able to transform into the creature matching the pelt.

Commentary & Notes 

Too many dice rolls?  A couple 2nd ed Kits, Berserker and Battlerager are very similar to my other Berserker Post, including the attacking friends FU.   Compared to Fighters, Berserkers are limited to medium armor, will be benefiting from shields less, do slightly less 2h damage (but 2x when berserk), two prime stats for xp bonus, susceptible to magic, and no ancient tech.  High damage, but likely to burn through hit points.  Maybe a bit like the combat version of magic user, in that they hit hard but quickly blow their wad and need to go home and rest.

Some numbers on entering/sustaining berserkergang.

Ancient tech -- the air cars, the laser pistols and the other kick-ass stuff are genetically coded to only work for the Ancients (or those possessing enough Ancients' DNA).

Red ethos refers to the five color MtG "alignments" Red, Green, Blue, Black, White.  Best translation is probably Chaos/CG.

"Bloodlust" -- After dropping an opponent in melee, receive free attack on nearby target.

"Slaughterhouse" -- When in melee with opponents who are all 1/2 your level or less, roll one attack and X damage dice where X is your level.  Damage dice may be split (one die per target) amongst opponents 1/2 your level or less that are "close".  It is assumed the warrior is hacking his way through this fodder and thus can reach enemies who aren't directly adjacent.


    1. While I'm not sure of the exact version of LL/BX you're playing (obviously) I LOVE berserker elves. When I DID play 3rd edition (O The Shame!) my absolute favorite character was a Wood Elf Barbarian with "two-fisted hand axe action." Your little alfar berserk would be a nice way to translate him into B/X, and for that I thank you!

      RE: the pelt

      Nice that you have a little mythos to go with your campaign world...I totally dig that and think more people should incorporate these things (one of the few things I miss from AD&D play is the DDG and these kind of outside-the-system systems). My Norse language skills are a little shabby, but it's my understanding that the term "berserk" actually comes from the phrase "bear sark" meaning 'bear shirt.' In other words, you didn't get the right to be called a berserk until you'd already earned your pelt (kind of a pre-req). Did you just make it a "quest thing" so that players would be able to choose their animal "totem" (e.g. wolf instead of bear)? Just curios.

    2. @JB the pelt.

      I read the wearing of pelts thing on wiki and made a note to use wolf, bear, etc as "level" titles. I've always associated shapeshifters and vikings/berserkers. As I was writing this up the pelt "magic item" just came to me and I just went with it (One of the joys of actually writing things out for blog is that it often kicks off new ideas (at least for me)).

      Well I sort of assumed lower level, wolf. higher level bear, higher still beast, etc. And a berserker would get each in turn. But, since wolf and bear are both not that hard to beat and 99 battles is a lot I'm sure many players will skip wolf and go straight for bear. Some may prefer a "weaker" wolf since it can track, blend in better (could pass as dog), travel farther/faster.

      '99' cause it seems like one of the "weird" sorts of requirements real-life "magic" has compared to the rationally balanced requirements D&D and other games tend to use. I don't really like the 9 temples thing but I wanted to tie it to Thor and have it be more than just stand at the crossroads and slaughter everything that comes by for 99 days or whatever.

    3. So it's been a year since this was posted (almost to the day!) and I only just stumbled upon it! I've been playing around with some world-building and I have some elves for whom hunting and bloodshed is a major cultural component. I'd stalled out a bit on it for various reasons, but this post is very inspiring and I will probably borrow bits and pieces. Especially for the cultists under the City of Stone Trees who are trying to bring about the return of their dead Hunter-God. Thanks!


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