Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Yogi: A New Class for Swords & Wizardry

For a while now I've tossed around the idea of a PC class that is explicitly non-violent or that derives experience from things that aren't related to combat or treasure. I'm not wholly convinced that such a class can work in the game, but I think offering it as an option to players might be an interesting experiment and a way to coax perhaps otherwise reluctant players to join. Uncomfortable with bashing in skulls? Try the Yogi class! I can see some serious humor potential there. Also, since writing up the Yellow Order of Freyse, I've been thinking about how a player might actually want to join it and how that would work.

So, I submit here the Yogi class - nothing too complicated, but certainly very different from every other D&D class. Some qualifiers - the "yogi" as cultural phenomenon is open to many interpretations. Why should the one here be so ascetically oriented? What about the karma yogis, or bhakti yogis - not to mention such "chaotic" yogis like Milarepa? Well, I had to limit the scope of possibilities to keep it simple and in line with the lightness of the OD&D/SW:WB rules. Creating a number of subclasses of the Yogi sounds tempting though...

The Yogi Class for S&W Whitebox

The yogi (or female yogini) is concerned with three things: overcoming the illusionary and temporary nature of normally perceived reality, freedom from desires and attachment which lead to suffering, and reconnecting and merging with the source of all creation.

While most yogis respect and observe devotional practices associated with one or more deities, some worship none - or else just ambiguously refer to an omnipotent and omniscient God, Creator, or Spirit. What distinguishes yogis from clerics is their belief in the practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence, and also that their salvation depends primarily upon their own willpower and mental focus rather than faith in supernatural beings.

Yogi Advancement TableCharacter Class Abilities and Restrictions:

Yogis must begin as lawful in alignment and remain so or else lose the special powers given to them.

Possessions: Yogis are severely limited in the amount of possessions they may have - they may never possess more than what they can carry on their person, they avoid contact with gold or jewelry, and may not carry more than the equivalent of 1 gp worth of other types of treasure. They may not use magic items.

Weapon and armor restrictions: Yogis practice nonviolence - they are forbidden from using any weapons. They shun the use of armor or shields, believing that these encourage the use of weapons and threat of violence. The DM will have to be creative in awarding the yogi PC experience points - deeds which produce “good karma” for the character or party are suggested as an alternative to experience gained in combat or through treasure. Another option might be experience granted after successfully carrying out missions under a guru's direction.

Spell casting: A Yogi gains siddhis, or mental powers which correspond to some cleric and magic user spells. In order to obtain these, the yogi must spend one hour in meditation per spell, per day.

The following siddhis may be chosen:

All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Sticks to Snakes, Insect Plague, Quest, and Raise Dead.
• Magic user spells: Read Languages, Detect Invisibility, Knock, ESP, Levitate, Darkvision, Fly, Protection from Normal Missiles, Water Breathing, Wizard Eye, Contact Other Plane, Passwall, Telekinesis, Teleport, and Anti-Magic Shell.

In addition, at 3rd level the Yogi may Simulate Death, lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appearing not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 turns per level, once per day.

Saving Throw: Yogis receive a +3 bonus on saving throws vs. poison and paralysis.

Banishing Undead: Yogis can use their holiness to “Turn” the undead, causing them to flee. They do not require the use of a holy symbol for this purpose.

Charisma Bonus: At 2nd level and every level thereafter, Yogis add 1 point to their charisma score, up to a maximum score of 19.

Obtain devotees: At ninth level, the Yogi will attract a large number of loyal followers who will swear fealty to the character and wish to do good deeds in his or her name.

Experience Bonus for Wisdom and Intelligence: Wisdom and Intelligence are the prime attributes for Yogis. However, due to the Yogi’s restrictions against combat and treasure, these will only be used to calculate experience bonuses if the DM decides to codify specific examples of activities that generate good karma and to use these for experience point calculation. In that case, Yogis with both Wisdom and Intelligence scores of 15 or higher receive a 10% bonus to experience.


richard said...

why are they down a dungeon?

I'm not saying I don't love the whole idea, I'm just wondering why they're hanging out with murderhobos. Somehow proselytizing doesn't seem quite right.

ze bulette said...

@richard: To solve a koan or riddle of some sort that their guru assigned them? To help recover a holy relic? Maybe they meditate in caves and meet the rest of the party there as it bumbles through.

It's a challenge, that's for sure.

richard said...

because Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy left them there, during a fit of unenlightened pique, and have since been teleported/lost the plot/are going through long periods of personal growth/have been turned into inanimate objects until such time as it will be dramatically appropriate/funny for them to reappear.

OK, all my objections have been answered: I'm in. If I ever play a FLAILSNAILS game, I'll be a Yogi.

S. P. said...

The Buddha did not properly understand suffering until he went into the world.

As such, Yogis occasionally find themselves on lonely roads and dungeon delves, contemplating what drives the maya, the illusion we typically call reality.

Trey said...

Nice class and--uh, enlightening--discussion about the role of such a class.

Garrisonjames said...

Nice. Maybe at 10th level the Yogi can formulate a Doctrine or compose a Sutra/Tantra and establish what constitutes good karma for their followers...

Would someone retain their yogi-abilities if they switched to another class after say 4th or 5th level? Can a yogi multi-class?

Chris Wellings said...

I see someone got there before me with a "Monkey!" reference.

No violence!

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