Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Alice: A PC Class for any kind of D&D

from A Red And Pleasant Land, the upcoming Alice module...
Pic by me. Clicking makes it bigger.

Alices (when male: "Alistairs" or, of either sex: "Fools") are unlike other adventurers in that they are actively sought by adventure. Alices forever find themselves falling into cursed rabbit holes, accidentally killing witches, having their half-brothers stolen by goblin kings, being willed magic rings, finding demons inserted in their chests or having armored knights ride through their homes while they are trying to sleep. Obscure gods, however, sympathize with them (they are often born to powerful families), and an Alice is a boon to any party. Some Alices wear striped stockings, some Alistairs wear pointed shoes. 

Although they begin their adventures untrained and naive, Alices are fast learners, and high level Alices are known for their sagacity and cunning.

Inserting an Alice into any system is simple--in general they are treated as thieves/rogues/specialists. Details:


Alices are always humans or halflings (though some say they are a race unto themselves). In systems which treat race as class, you could say the Aliceness of an Alice supercedes its Halflingness.

Hit Points:

Alices accumulate hit points as wizards/magic-users


Alices attack as thieves/rogues/specialists.


At first level, and usually thereafter, Alices collect skills like thieves/rogues/specialists. The automatic specialist skills in LOTFP are: Climb, Search, Find traps, Sleight of hand, Sneak attack, Stealth and Tinker. These all start at a 1 in 6 chance* and go up by one each time you add skill points. The exception is sneak attack which starts at normal damage then goes to double damage then to triple, etc. Anyway: at first level add 2 skill points anywhere you want to your skill list as opposed to the usual 4.

They search for and detect traps at +1 (if these are two distinct abilities in your system, pick 1).

If you are not using LOTFP follow that asterisk for suggestions on how to allocate your 16.6666 repeating percent improvement. Or if you're using a system with a thief-abilities-by-level chart (like AD&D), you could just interpret "using your 2 skill points" as moving up one level up on the chart. If you do this you'll eventually end up with something like a 6th level thief who performs thief functions at like 3rd level plus has a few of the below gimmicks. Not as hard to keep track of as it might seem so long as (like wizards everywhere) you write all your important stuff on your character sheet.


If you're using a 3-save system, give yourself a +1 dex save, if you're using LOTFP or another old-style Death Ray save system, give the Alice saves that are one worse than usual for a thief. In LOTFP that's: Paralyze 15, Poison 17, Breath 16, Device 15, Magic 15.


In addition, in times of unusual stress Alices may become Exasperated. This Exasperation causes fate to take notice of the Alice, and then to aid her. The Alice says or thinks something like "Oh I can't conceive how I ever fell into this deplorable circumstance!" or "We are indeed doomed and the rats will gnaw our eyes."

Practically speaking, an Alice may express Exasperation once every real-time game hour (as games focus almost exclusively on stressful times, these represent the periods during which the gods are most likely to take notice). When this happens roll the dice.

At 1-5th level roll d4, at 6-7th level roll d6, at 8-9th level roll d8, at 10-11th roll d10, at 12th level and higher roll d12:

1-A secret door is revealed where none had previously been detected. If the GM has made no provision for a secret door, it leads to the nearest unexplored area.

2-The Alice realizes she has something in her pack, her hair, or otherwise secreted about her person. The object can be anything non-magical and generic (a key, not the key) that exists in the setting and that is small enough that the Alice could reasonably have it hidden it in her current condition or smaller than a breadbox, whichever dimensions are smaller at the time. The Alice may choose what this is.

3-An ordinary animal--cat sized or smaller--appears. The Alice cannot directly control it but it will not under any circumstances hurt the Alice.

4-A fact about the situation at hand occurs to the Alice--a piece of local or monster lore, perhaps something she read or was once told in a parlor or a lesson or in a kitchen.

5-Someone of the Alice's choice falls down. (Line of sight.)

6-The weather in the immediate area changes in a way decided by the Alice--the change is general and may not be targeted (no aimed lighting bolts or gusts of wind).

7-A nearby creature is charmed by the Alice for an hour. (Line of sight.)

8-An inorganic device or object of the Alice's choice breaks. (Line of sight.)

9-Something not ordinarily able to talk (GM's choice) begins to speak to the Alice.

10-Creatures present complete forget the Alice is there for as long as the Alice keeps making saves vs spell.

11-Someone is sent to fetch the Alice out of her current predicament. If there is an obvious candidate from among the local NPCs (giant eagles, a friendly knight...), that's who it is. If there isn't, then: hey GM, time to make up a weirdo. The NPC does not automatically have the ability to extricate the Alice from the situation, s/he merely appears as close as is plausible.

12-Someone or something of the Alice's choice begins to shrink at 1 foot per round down to playing-card size. (Line of sight.)

These effects are magical and can be countered as magic.
You can totally click to enlarge this, too
Leveling up:

At first level and every time you level up, roll twice on the table below. What happens if you roll a thing twice (consecutively or otherwise) is also explained.

(Some of these include stuff about ability score bonuses, if you have an ability score minus, just ignore that.)

1-20 Alice was then reminded of something she'd noticed before... +1 to all your saves.

21-70 Falling down wells really improves the hand-eye coordination: 2 skill points or just slide up to the next thief-function bracket if you're using 1e or something.

71 You're very perceptive, if nothing else. For each combat round you spend just watching someone (i.e. you're not doing anything except maybe moving and you are not being attacked yourself) you get +d10 to hit and +d10 to damage or +d10 to any attempt to trip, grab, or otherwise mess with the target when you finally do decide to attack. This only works on targets that are engaged in combat while they are being observed. The ability can only be used once per fight on anyone smart enough to notice what you're doing. Also: only works on things with organs (like, not on oozes). Re-rolling this raises the die to d12 then d20. After that you start getting 2d10 then 2d12 then 2d20 etc.

72 Alice liked pies, although sometimes people did not want her to have them. Add your level to any attempt to locate any foodstuff of any kind. Re-rolling this this just adds +1 more up to a maximum of 10. After that the bonus applies to any organic material. After that it's a wasted roll.

73 She closed her eyes and said the words as she'd been taught... You have learned one magic-user spell. It functions as if cast by a 15th level wizard or your level whichever is higher. Determine the spell randomly (d8 for level). It works once, that's it.

74 Oh, I do so apologize... You can super-easily trip any basically human-sized creature that is otherwise engaged with someone or something else on a successful roll-under dex d20 roll. This only works once per fight unless the enemy is mindless like zombies or for some reason can't see you pull off this tactic. Re-rolling this result means the trip does damage: d4, then d6, then d8 etc.

75 Her aunt had mentioned them ... +2 to recognize the faction or function of any aristocrat in any land. It maxes out at +6. After that, for each time this bonus is re-rolled, you are cousin or niece or otherwise secondhand related to the number (whatever number over 3) of NPCs encountered thereafter of your choice.

76 All that hiding in the dumbwaiter has finally paid off. You know a secret. One of two kinds of secret, to be precise: either a piece of useful lore about a legendary treasure or magic item that you encounter or an embarrassing fact about an NPC. Mechanically: once per session you may astound your party's condescending wizard by pulling this lore or rumor out of your petticoat or pantaloon by making a successful roll-under int check. If you fail, screw it, you can't do it this session. Re-rolling this means you try for this twice per session, then 3 times, etc

77 It seemed nearly everything was dangerous if handled improperly. You've become very skilled with improvised weapons--they do one die category larger than they should If you garotte someone they automatically lose a turn on a successful hit, if you drop caltrops or marbles and someone with two legs steps on them they will automatically fall down (at least the first time). Re-rolling this result adds damage to any of these +2, +4, +6 , etc

78 It was very shiny and stuck out like a soup spoon... On a successful melee hit, you may immediately make a Sleight of Hand attempt to grab an item (other than the target's weapon) off a target. This won't work twice on anyone above zombie-intelligence who sees it. Re-rolling this result means you get a bonus to the sleight roll for each re-roll +1, +2, +3 etc.

79 She was not such a mouse as she used to be. +1 Dex to racial max, excess goes to Str or Con.

80 Alice then did something quite astonishing... You are surprising. +(entire charisma score) to hit with any suddenly improvised weapon the first time you strike against any intelligent foe (who knew what you could do with a gingerbread man?) and add your whole charisma score to the damage. This trick only works once per fight. Re-rolling this adds +2, then +3, then +4 to the damage, etc.

81 The blue one certainly did make you taller, of that Alice was sure... You are +1 to identify drugs and plants with drug-like properties for each time you roll this.

82 She could be very charming when she needed to be. Your silver tongue gives you a +2 charisma bonus to lying. If charisma checks don't come up much in your game, just say someone of ordinary intelligence you can talk to will pretty much automatically believe one lie you tell per day. If you re-roll this result it goes +2 more, +4, +6 etc. or extra lies per day.

83 "It really was curious," she thought--"How many times could this kind of thing happen?" You may escape death or another equally awful fate exactly once. You must spend at least a round playing possum to build tension but....surprise, you jumped out of the way just in time! Re-rolling this means you get to do it again.

84 She knew to curtsey at times like this, and so she did. Despite the low company you keep, you've been working on your manners. Members of the upper classes instinctively recognize you as one of their own. +1 to charisma rolls or reaction checks when dealing with them for every time you roll this.

85 It was so lovely, and--according to the book--it was right there. The dress made of manticoreflesh, the house full of lilacs, the magical fishgutting knife---whatever the thing that you always wanted is, it's there. 4 sessions worth of adventure away or less. Tell your GM, who then must place it.

You must have a fair shot at it--like any other reward, but there's no guarantee you will get it. If you don't get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. GM think up some clever reason why.

86 She had not known her mother's cousin very well, and decided that it was a bad thing that she had died...You have been willed 5000 units of the local currency (GP? SP? Kroner?) worth of random mundane (nonmagical) objects. Here's how it works: you have exactly ten seconds real time to say what you bought. You now have all that stuff, assuming it adds up to less than 5000gp. You do not get xp for this treasure.

87 They kept talking as though Alice was a rhododendron in a pot. Add 2 to your stealth each time you roll this. If you max out, that's that.

88 She knew from school what the word meant, but did not know if it was rude or not. Add 2 to languages skill or choose a new language to read and speak.

89 Alice quite liked drawing, and had an impressive box of crayons at home. You are adept at forgery.  It's a your Int vs. their Wis roll, assuming you have access to about 40 gp worth of stuff or the kind of materials you'd find in a civilized area. Every time you re-roll this you get +2 to the check.

90 She thought it might be a saltcellar, or at least that seemed like the right word for it. You can appraise treasure to a nontrivial and nonboring degree: you can estimate the value of nonmagical things flawlessly and if a piece of treasure is not what it seems on any level you will get an inkling. As in, you'll go "Is this not what it seems?" and the GM will go "Yeah, you've seen a lot of jade urns in your day and this is not what it seems somehow--you're not sure how." If a treasure has some unusual or hidden feature of a mechanical or physical nature you will sense that it is there on a successful Int roll. You won't know what it is, but you'll sense that it is there. You also have an extra +1 (in 6) and + int bonus (if any) chance to notice unusual features or traps in rooms if you are familiar with the culture that built the room. If you re-roll this result you are reading now, just roll again.

91-93 She did seem to offend people (and animals) wherever she went. You've become adept at dueling. You may add your dexterity bonus instead of your strength bonus to hit with a foil, rapier or similar weapon (if the mechanics of your game already allow that, you can add it to damage). Each time you roll this result thereafter, you are at +1 to hit in any formal (challenged and accepted) duel with any dueling weapon you have used as a weapon before. r.

94 They all listened attentively as Alice told her tale. +1 Cha. to racial max, excess goes to Wis or Int.

95 They began to throw stones, and Alice began to avoid them  +2 to reflex save or whatever saves can plausibly be derived from "jumping out of the way" in your system. If a save normally means you take half damage, you take none.

96 She began to feel somewhat neglected. If you are attacked in a round that you spend doing nothing but dodging and your attacker misses, s/he or it will not only miss but fuck up and lose his or her next turn (if s/he or it has multiple attacks, s/he will lose a number of attacks equal to your level). This only works once on anything of better than zombie intelligence that sees it happen. If you re-roll this result, you get it twice, then three times, then four, etc.

97-98 She tried to remember what she knew about stoats. +1 to reaction checks or charisma rolls from all ordinary animals and talking-but-otherwise-ordinary animals.

99-00 Alice had seen so many unusual things lately, it had become usual. You've seen and done so much that nothing phases you--you are immune to insanity or confusion in any form. Even mind-altering cosmic horrors from the far edge of the cosmos are like whatever. You still do fear. Fear is good. Fear keeps you alive. Re-rolling this means any allies who can see you likewise get a bonus (+2) to their saves on account of your steady eye.

The Alice player must not become dizzied by this wonderland of combat options. You get 10 seconds to pick what you're doing once it's your turn.

*Note on using the LOTFP skill advancement in other systems:

So the LOTFP skill system is--Base skill (everybody has this): 1 in 6, If you are a specialist and level up a skill you get 2 in 6 then 3 in 6 etc...

That's about a 16.6% improvement per advance.
Here are some slightly-more-ability-score-sensitive versions with fairly similar (not exactly the same) math if you want 'em...

.In a D20 DC-style system: Add your stat bonus for every advance. If you want to match LOTFP, assume the DC is usually 20 and the starting point for anybody is a roll + stat bonus.

.In a D20 DC-style system but you're still using the old style ability bonuses (i.e. 13-15 is +1, 16-17 +2 etc) then add stat bonus x 2 for every advance. If you want to match LOTFP, assume the DC is usually 20 and the starting point for anybody is a roll + 2x stat bonus.

.Roll-under: Roll under stat minus 10. Add +d6 to your stat for purposes of this skill for every advance.

. Percentile: You start at (your ability score)% chance and add your ability score again every advance.)


Timothy S. Brannan said...

I like this. There is enough weirdness and yet playability in it to make it worthwhile.

Of course the first thing I'd do is move it over to Unisystem for WitchCraft/Ghosts of Albion/Buffy.

Unknown said...

PERFECTo -- my character is about to adopt an orphan, now I know what the class will be -- Eagerly anticipating the new book.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

Too brilliant. I'm another looking forward to the upcoming amazement.

anarchist said...

If Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker's Guide series is counted as one of these guys, I'd add to 1 that in wilderness the 'secret door' will also be a teleporting sofa, and in outer space it will be a passing spaceship.

Jonas said...

I dig Labyrinth reference, that film has influenced by D&D games way too much over the years. I got hankering to run an all "Alice" game with pre-made PC's secretly based on the palyers themselves.

airbornegrove26 said...

This is so cool. Not sure how I am going to use it, but am determined to put it to use,of course that is not a bad idea.

"PERFECTo -- my character is about to adopt an orphan, now I know what the class will be -- Eagerly anticipating the new book. "

Doomsdave said...

This class will get immediate use in our campaign. Most likely by my youngest son. Thanks.

anarchist said...

Another idea for this class: if they successfully search for a secret door, there's always one there.

Unknown said...

This was the first day of play using the Alice for one of our players in our D20 based fallout game. It has been interesting converting the class to fit, and exasperation didn't get used as often as it should but I think it will work out well in the end.

Though we will be using the Alice leveling roll every other level to replace feats, and still allowing our player to gain an in system Talent on the alternate levels.

Next time I get to play instead of run, I am hoping to use the Bar Bare Eee Unn myself.

Enzo said...

Wow, those illustrations are amazing!

Dan said...

I missed this when you first posted it, but I think it's one my favourite things you've ever done. And I love the fiction references (hooray for Time Bandits).

It's got me thinking about other Jungian/Campbellian/Tarot/fairytale archetypes that can be written up as classes (and of course the classic 4 are these already)

Dan said...

This is really cool! Also, your art is great, as usual.