Alternative magic for the Dungeon Fantasy faithful

So, I think I've found a good plan for Wizards for my slightly non-traditional DF game, but now I need to figure out what do with the rest of the spell-casters.

Everyone has recommended Divine Favor as the only real option for Clerics, and having acquired a copy of the supplement I must say that I agree, wholeheartedly. Not sure how I feel about the Saint and Warrior-Saint fixes in Pyramid 3/36 - they're entirely workable, of course, and +Antoni Ten Monr√≥s does good work in the new learned prayers as well - but I tend to be the sort to tackle such changes myself, and what I've up with is this:


Drop base IQ to 12 [-40] and Will to 13 [5]; Replace all Power Investiture with Power Investiture (Divine Favor) [0]; Remove all points spent in spells [-20]; Add Divine Favor 9; Add Learned Prayers to the list of optional Advantages; Add Divine Favor 10 [15] and Additional Levels of Divine Favor [20/level] to the list of optional Advantages as well.

This version helps to maintain a little of the Will appropriate to a Cleric, and leaves the player the option to invest in their choice if increased Divine Favor, Learned Prayers or Holy abilities. This ought to apply to any type of Cleric from DF 7 as well as the base model in DF 1, perhaps with minor tweaks, but it's very flexibility should make it serve.

The only difference for Druids is flavor: perhaps something akin to Nature's Favor, varying only in the focus of the prayers that can be called upon. This will require the player and/or GM to come up with more flavorful learned prayers that are suitable to a protector of the wild.

The Bard requires a bit more tweaking, and I'm not sure I'm the guy to do the job. As I alluded in a discussion with +Mark Langsdorf on his blog, the Bard as typically depicted - tights-wearing, lute strumming and puffy-hat wearing - leaves me utterly cold. Most any other musical tradition, and I can start to get back on-board. Where I find myself wondering is Bardic Talent: if we eliminate the three colleges of spells from the list, and only provide a bonus to Bard-Song rolls, what is it worth, per level?


  1. Without the spells, Bard-Song is at best a power talent worth 5 pts/level.

    As I think I alluded to, there's at least 3 models for an acceptable bard:
    1) Low magic diplomat/skirmisher. He may have a lute, but he doesn't sing in battle (though he might captivate savage beasts through song). Think of Fflewdur Fflam of Prydain or Faramir of LotR. Probably best made by combining the DF15: Henchmen template for Agent with the Veteran advancement and maybe getting some Enthrallment skills.
    2) Mage-thief. Don't buy any bard-song abilties and upgrade Bardic Talent to real Magery. Buy some better spels, too.
    2a) Gandalf, which is just a higher powered mage-thief, I think.
    3) Viking skald/warchanter, taking Song of Alarum and Song of Triumph as alternate abilities of each other, ditching much of the diplomatic skills, and wearing a horned hat.
    4) Celtic wise man, which I think is a druid lensed with sage or something. Still, no bard-song.

    The Viking skald is one of the few good models for a guy who calls himself a bard and sings in battle, and it's very different from the DF template.

    All that comes down to: why do you need a bard template if you don't think you want people singing in battle? And if you want people singing in battle, how do you need to change the template to make that work?

    1. I think it comes down to my own desire not to play such a singing bard myself, rather than a desire to preclude others from the option. I suspect the half-way meeting point is to rebuild the bard archetype into something that I would want to see portrayed in my game, as well as something I think others would like as well. A bit more lore-mastery, maybe.

  2. First pass on a Loremaster bard: Replace Bardic Talent 2 [16], Voice [10] and Musical Ability 2 [10] with Magery 2 [25] and Charisma 3 [+10]. Remove Bard-Song abilities from the list of options. Remove Musical Instrument [2], Performance [1], Singing [1], and Musical Composition [1] from the list of skills. Open the weapon options to any one-handed weapon or Staff. Add 16 points in Hidden Lore, Thaumatology, and Naturalist to the skill list. Add 15 points in spells to the spell list, restricted to Communication/Empathy, Illusion, Knowledge, Light/Darkness, and Mind Control colleges.

    The lore-master is not quite a wizard, not nearly a swashbuckler, and isn't quite a sage. He can identify most monsters, much of the time, contribute on the edges of the front line, and cast a couple of useful spells, but not nearly as well as the wizard. He's still a diplomat, and many delving bands will think his greatest ability is the way he can interrogate prisoners and figure out they're lying. (AFAIK, bard is the only template with Interrogation and Detect Lies...)

    1. How would you tweak it if you wanted to explicitly avoid the default magic system?

    2. I'd replace Magery with whatever I was replacing Magery with, and replace the spell list with whatever I was replacing the spell list with.

      An example using MH RPM: Replace Magery 2 with Ritual Path Magery 2. Add Path of Crossroads, Path of Mind and Thaumatology to the list of optional skills. Important note: Without Path of Magic, bards cannot prepare charms, so ALL of their magic takes a great deal of time.

      They'd also be good candidates for advantage based magic with a lot of modifiers to make their spells take a long time to cast, but the specifics of that kind of system is a post or three in itself.


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