Sunday, August 2, 2009

More Old School Skills; the Claws of Kalis

A few of the classes that I will be including in my project are heavily tied to the Majestic Wilderlands. One of them is the Claws of Kalis. In real history the assassin wasn't a general profession like a thief but rather a specific organization located in the Middle East. It existed around the time of the Crusade and was led by the Old Man of the Mountain. Greatly feared by the crusader their name entered our language as THE term for anybody involving in trying to murder for political or ideological reasons. It even became a verb.

While I can see assassins existing in a D&D world I never liked the Assassin Guild. Too generic for my taste. In my games the "Assassin Guild" became a cult of the goddess Kalis.

Kalis is the goddess of murder, hatred, and revenge. Her goals directly conflict with those of the goddess Dannu. She revels in death and destruction. She is also known as the Blood Goddess and the Night Hag. The Claws of Kalis are among the most feared killers in the Majestic Wilderlands. Kalis is also served by her Blood Children, the Vampires and Werewolves. She has a special relationship with the god Hamakhis. Unique among the gods, she has no organized religions in the Wilderlands. She primarily worshiped by secretive cults, most of them lead by one of her Blood Children.

The Claws of Kalis.
Rogues may choose to start as members of the Claws of Kalis. The Claws are a cult of the blood goddess Kalis and dedicated to the eradication of Chaos by any means. Their favored method involves the insertion of spies into a suspect organization and then assassinating the guilty. Claws of Kalis may not be chaotic in alignment. They must possess a Dexterity of 12+. Their cult is illegal in nearly every culture, its members subject to the death penalty.

• Prime Attribute: Dexterity 15+, +15% experience.
• Gains 1d6 HP/level
• Fights using the Cleric combat table.
• Can use leather armor and shield
• Can use the following weapons: hand axe, club, dagger, light mace, staff, short sword, light crossbow, dart, sling, and short bow.
• At first level a Claw gains the following skills at skill level 1: Athletics, Climbing, Eavesdrop, Intimidate, Legerdemain, Perceive, and Stealth.
• At first level a Claw may distribute a total of twelve levels to the above skills. No more than five levels may be placed on a single skill. The remaining levels need to be split between different skills.
• At first level a Claw may add +1D6 to any hit made while attacking a surprised opponent.
• For every 4 levels the Claws gains 1 skill level in all his skills. In addition he gains 1 additional level that he may add to one skill.
• For every 3 levels a Claw may add an additional +1D6 to his surprise strike.
• At 9th level a Claw may opt to form his own cult and attract loyal followers.

The Claws have no formal hierarchy. One's standing in the Claws is based on training and experience. The Claws follow those who produce results.

In most cases a Claw has been a member since birth. New members are gained by Claws venturing out and kidnapping babies and young children. They will then bring them up as their own. Throughout childhood and youth, they are taught to obey Kalis without question. Both female and male children receive the same instruction and given the same opportunities.

From adulthood on the Claw’s life is taken up with living a cover identity, training, and undertaking missions. Typically a mission is done by a single member of the Claw. Group operations are extremely rare. Most of the Claw's killings come from paid assassinations.

It is known that in certain taverns that dropping a hint on a possible mission will bring a Claw member visiting. He will state the terms for the killing. No haggling or bargaining is allowed. If the person doesn’t accept the Claws terms, the person will marked to be used for a sacrifice to Kalis. It is common knowledge that it is not wise to call upon the Claws of Kalis unless you are prepared to pay their terms.

Climbing (Higher DEX or STR)
This skill is useful for difficult climbing tasks.

A successful roll will allow a character to climb with a rope or a steep incline.
A successful roll at a -4 modifier will allow a character to climb a sheer face.
If the character is encumbered then he is at -2 to his task roll.

Climbing with a rope is at 12 feet per round
Climbing a steep incline is at 8 feet per round
Climbing a sheer face is at 6 feet per round.

Intimidation (CHA)
This represents influencing a person through hostile action.

A successful roll will cause the target to fear the character and become cooperative.

In group situations the character may force a morale check by a successful roll. The character is -1 for every 3 people in the group he is trying to intimidate. Multiple characters with intimidation can work together to reduce this modifier. Divide the group equally between each character and calculate the modifier accordingly.

A successful roll will allow a character to force the answer to one question after an interrogation. However subtract the prisoner’s wisdom from the roll.


Note that the Intimidation skill could be abused to allow roll-play but the intent that the player roleplays his speech, interrogation, etc and then make the roll as the moment of truth.

I also tried to write the skill chapter so that it useful to DM who don't use skills. They offer guidelines to handle various situations. Rather than just posulate a universal mechanic like Castles & Crusades or other system do I try to get into specifics whenever I can.

Also note that the Climbing rule is adapted from Judges Guild's Dungeon Tac Cards. There is a series of action cards that have various rules that work well with the spirit of OD&D.


Timeshadows said...

An interesting write-up.
--I like it a lot. :)

Matthew Slepin said...

Kalis sounds rather like a certian Blood God in PoL. :)

Rob Conley said...

:D Yes I used my original creations from my Majestic Wilderlands in writing Points of Light.

Good Eye.