Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voidjammer: Scientist Class

This class is posted here with permission by John Stater over at The Land of Nod. It and other excellent classes are detailed in The Nod Companion along with spells, races and other features for use in the Blood and Treasure RPG.

The scientist is an intellectual who has dedicated his or her life to the pursuit of knowledge. They are inventors, alchemists, mathematicians, and lifelong students of natural philosophy. They study the nature of the multiverse in the hope of unlocking its myriad secrets. In laymen’s terms, what the magic‐user does with spells, the scientist does with gadgets, gizmos and chemical formulas.
Scientists (often called Philosophers) and stories about them have been around for a very long time. These strange, dedicated men (and even women!) were often lumped in with magic-users, and were usually vilified like Prospero from Shakespeare's The Tempest. But a few were seen as great adventurers and thinkers, representing the best of human ingenuity. 
In Voidjammer, the default technology of space-going civilization is roughly around that of mid-to-late 1700's (just before The Revolutionary War). And so a good representative of The Scientist class would be Benjamin Franklin. Other excellent historic Scientists who would be comfortable in the Voidjammer universe are Sir Isaac Newton (who might have some levels in Cleric), Erasmus Darwin, and Leonardo da Vinci to name a few. 
In era and setting appropriate fiction, a number of notable scientists come to mind. Ras Thavas was the greatest scientific mind of Barsoom (Mars), whose mad creations were often more trouble than they were worth. The mad Captain Nemo, who could easily be translated into a space-going antihero. And Man At Arms from the He-Man cartoon (clearly a Dual-Classed Fighter-Scientist) whose weird magical technology made a strange setting stranger.

-Intelligence of 13+


-Club, dagger, dart, hand crossbow, light crossbow, quarterstaff

- *Communication, Decipher Codes, Find Secret Doors, Find Traps, *Identify Specimens, Open Locks, Remove Traps


  • Scientists begin play with one small invention or three formulas (see below) and only 1d6 x 10 gp to spend on equipment. They must own a journal, their equivalent to the magic-user's spell book.
  • Scientists spend most of their lives reading books and absorbing all sorts of knowledge and wisdom. Scientists can use the legend lore ability as bards of half their scientist level.
  • A scientist’s fascination with minutia makes them more likely to be surprised than others. They are surprised on 1 to 2 on 1d6.
  • A scientist is capable of brewing formulas (i.e. potions) and discovering and creating new inventions (see below).
  • When a scientist reaches 9th level (genius), he can build a laboratory overlooking a city or town. If he does so, he attracts 1d4 men-at-arms per level, 1d6 first level scientists who wish to train under him, and one third level scientist to act as his lab assistant. These scientists should be rolled up as characters under the control of the scientist PC.

Gulliver discovers Laputa, the flying island.
Scientists are capable of building machines and brewing chemical formulas that duplicate the effect of magic-ser spells. Formulas are single‐use items that work like potions. Inventions are multiple use items that must be powered by “batteries” of the sort Ben Franklin invented (or miniature versions of the same). An invention can be used 1 time plus 1 time per scientist level minus the level of the duplicated spell before it must be recharged overnight.
Before a scientist can brew a formula or build an invention, he must discover how to do it. This process of discovery costs 1,000 gp per spell level to be duplicated for standard spells, and 2,000 gp per spell level for entirely new creations. One week is required per spell level, with a chance of success equal to 25% plus 5% per level of the scientist minus 10% per level of the spell. The maximum chance of success is 95%.
Inventions and formulas must be discovered separately, even if they have the same effect.
Inventions come in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Small inventions can be held in one hand and rarely weigh more than 10 pounds. Medium sized inventions can be moved about clumsily by man‐sized creatures using both their hands. A medium-ized invention uses 10 times the materials of a small invention, and costs 10 times as much to build. A large invention will fit (or nearly fit) inside a 10’ x 10’ room. Large inventions use 100 times the materials of small inventions, and cost 100 times as much to build. Formulas are treated as small inventions and weigh as much a standard coin or gem.
The level of spell a scientist can "fit" into an invention of a given size is as follows:
Scientists of level one to three can fit level one spells into small inventions, level two spells into medium inventions and level three spells into large inventions.
Scientists of level four to six can fit level one and two spells into small inventions, level three spells into medium inventions and level four spells into large inventions.
Scientists of level seven to nine can fit level one to three spells into small inventions, level four spells into medium inventions and level five spells into large inventions. Scientist of level ten to twelve can fit level one to four spells into small inventions, level five spells into medium inventions and level six spells into large inventions.
Brewing a formula costs 25 gp times the spell level times the level of the scientist. A level one formula brewed by a level three scientist, for example, costs 25 x 1 x 3 gp, or 75 gp, to concoct. A level four formula brewed by a level nine scientist costs 25 x 4 x 9 gp, or 900 gp, to concoct. The Referee may want to create a list of rare ingredients for each formula the scientist discovers in lieu of the scientist just making a check.
Inventions cost 500 gp per spell level to create, and their manufacture requires five days plus two days per spell level. Thus, an invention that duplicates the level two spell acid arrow would cost 1,000 gp and require nine days of work to realize.
Players and TKs should come up with fantastic, quasi-scientific names for a scientist’s inventions, whether they are inspired by the natural philosophers of the Renaissance or the mad scientists from pulp fiction.

*New Skills

This task involves communicating with sentient creatures with which you do not share a common language. When attempting to understand such a creature, you make a Will saving throw modified by your Intelligence modifier. When trying to make yourself understood, you make a Will saving throw modified by your Charisma modifier. Communication of this sort must be short and simple – no deep philosophical discussions are possible.
Note, this task could also be used for charades and other forms of silent communication.
DIFFICULTIES: Communicating with a non‐humanoid creature.
FAILURE: A failure to communicate usually results in neither side comprehending what the other side is attempting to convey. A spectacular failure (rolling a “1” on 1d20) could result in a miscommunication
(i.e. believing you understood the creature, but actually getting their message very wrong.)
KNACK: Half‐Elves

This task covers a general knowledge of animal and plant life, including monsters. An identify specimen check permits a character to recall one specific fact about a creature or plant they have encountered. If seeking information about a monster, the player must specifically request one of the following data points:
Hit Dice, Armor Class, Movement Rate, Attacks and Damage, Special Attacks, Special Defenses or Special Abilities (each ability counting as a separate fact).
FAILURE: The adventurer does not know the information, and any additional task check they wish to make to recall different information about the same specimen is made at a ‐2 penalty.

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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan