by Ramanan Sivaranjan on August 12, 2012
Update: You can read about final version of this class in my follow-up post: Rune Knights for Baroviania.
My favourite character from the game Final Fantasy 6 was Celes. The character was a warrior crossed with a magic user. Her special ability was called Runic: when used as an action it would negate the effect of the next spell cast in combat; Celes would gain hit points equal to the magic points the spell cost to cast. I could write pages and pages about how FF6 is the greatest game ever, and even more about the fact Celes is the best character in that game, but I won’t. You’ll just have to trust me.
I wanted to make a Rune Knight class for Reynaldo’s D&D campaign world Baroviania so I could play some variation of Celes in his game. I was originally thinking a Rune Knight would be some sort of cleric, but Reynaldo suggested I look at the elf from D&D. I always forget about the demi-humans in D&D. Elves are actually a pretty good fit for the class: a plate wearing magic user does sound like Celes.
Rune knights are genetically enhanced warriors from the Dark Capital. They are artificially infused with magic. This grants them the ability to cast spells like a wizard. Their ties to the dark forces of the world leads others to regard them with suspicion and mistrust. Rune knights are often introverts and loners.
The prime requisites for a rune knight are Strength and Intelligence. They receive a 5% bonus to earned experience points if they have a 13 or more in both skills. They receive a 10% bonus to earned experience points if they have at least a 13 Strength and an Intelligence score of at least 16.
Rune knights progress in levels at the same rate as Elves. (In other words, slowly.)
RESTRICTIONS: Rune knights gain 1D6 hit points per level. Rune knights gain all the advantages of both fighters and magic-users. They may use shields, can wear any type of armour, and may fight with any kind of weapon. They can also cast spells like a magic-user, and use the same spell list. A character must have an intelligence score of at least 9 to be a rune knight.
SPECIAL ABILITIES: Rune Knights can dispel any magic cast in their vicinity using the Runic ability.
As mentioned above, in FF6 Celes’ Runic ability dispels the next spell cast after it has been activated, regardless of its strength. An anti-magic ability like this in D&D seems quite powerful, though this is in some ways balanced out by the fact the ability must be used before a spell is cast (it’s preventative) and that most low-level D&D monsters don’t actually cast a lot of magic.
Option 1: One take on the Runic ability is to use the exact same mechanics from FF6, more or less. On a character’s turn they may declare they are using their Runic ability. Any magical spell or ability that is used before the characters next turn is immediately dispelled and has no effect whatsoever. The character gains 1 hit point for each level of the spell. The ability may only nullify one spell per round. The character may activate the ability again on their next turn.
Option 2: An alternative take would be to make the ability more useful in combat by making it reactive, at the cost of making it less reliable. After a magical spell or ability is used the player may declare they are using their Runic ability. They may only do so if they have not yet acted in the round. The Runic ability will replace the action the character had declared they would make. (So the character may only nullify one spell per round.) The character makes a Save vs. Magic: on success the spell or magical ability has no effect whatsoever, and the character gains 1 hit point for each level of the spell; on a fail the spell or ability proceeds as usual.
Another idea would be to make the player and the monster do some sort of opposed roll, rather than a save. You could also add critical success and failure results: on a critical fail (a roll of 1) the character takes 1 damage for each level of the spell, on a critical hit (a roll of 20) the spell is reflected back at the caster.
One thing I was thinking of doing was requiring a rune knights have charisma scores lower than 9, so they always have a negative reaction roll. That seems inline with how Celes is treated in FF6. I don’t think I’ve seen classes with maximum requirements on their ability scores, though. I also need to figure out how the character would fit in the actual game world.
If you have any thoughts about the class, let me know.