Author Topic: New Expert Class: The Helmsman  (Read 751 times)


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New Expert Class: The Helmsman
« on: December 23, 2014, 02:54:52 AM »
Here is an Expert class idea that was designed with LukeNukem914, trying to build off the vehicle rules and give some neat options for characters who want to run a caravan, sail a ship, or fly a carpet in a truly expert way.*
The hope with this class is that the 'travel' part of a campaign could be made more interesting, considering that it tends to be very relevant to grand-scale stories, and (as fiction has taught us) a character who specializes in transportation can be a true asset to the party.

Helmsman (Expert)
The great evil may have been slain by the holy knight, and the Riddle of Time may have been unraveled by the wizened guru, but there is always glory to be earned by the navigator who (literally) got them to where they are now. With unequaled skill in navigation and steering, the Helmsman can deftly dodge the assault of an enemy frigate and easily evade the arrows aimed at his trusty cart. Skilled at the head of any vehicle, but partial to his own signature rides, the Helmsman is also a capable crafter with more than enough understanding of what makes his ride tick, and a penchant for innovations and improvements. The Helmsman always strives to get his companions safely there and back again, and makes sure that nothing goes awry along the way.
Depending on your campaign, a Helmsman could be…
•   A dashing charlatan who cares only for his prized ship.
•   A beloved gladiator, famed champion of the chariot race.
•   The surly engineer who is developing a new kind of military vehicle.
•   The grizzly, old drunkard captain of a retired freighter.
•   A taut-nerved smuggler of illicit contraband, untraceable arms, and even a few slaves.

Party Role: Specialist/Backer. The Helmsman probably won’t be at the front of the action during a bloody battle, but when the group needs to pack up and flee the scene, the Helmsman ensures you’re already ten miles away; and still in once piece.

Requirements: Dexterity 13+, Ride 6+ ranks, Driving Basics feat
Favored Attributes: Dexterity, Wisdom
Class Skills: Blend, Crafting, Haggle, Impress, Intimidate, Notice, Prestidigitation, Ride, Search, Survival
Skill Points: 6 + Int modifier per level
Vitality: 9 + Con modifier per level

Means of Transportation: You gain a vehicle with a value of up to 250s, and of the appropriate Era. Your vehicle is replaced at the start of the next Adventure at no cost if lost or destroyed. Also, you receive a 20% discount with vehicles and vehicle-related gear.

Zero to Sixty I: You can get started at a moment's notice. At Level 1, you may use your own Initiative bonus while controlling a vehicle. Additionally, your threat range with Ride checks made while controlling a vehicle increases by 1.

Zero to Sixty II: At Level 5, you may use your own Reflex Save bonus  while controlling a vehicle. Additionally, your threat range with Ride checks made  while controlling a vehicle increases by 1 (total 2).

Zero to Sixty III: At Level 9, you may apply your Dexterity bonus to the Defense of a vehicle you are controlling. This bonus is doubled against ranged attacks. Additionally, your threat range with Ride checks made  while controlling a vehicle increases by 1 (total 3).

On the Go I: There's never a time or a need to slow down. At Level 2, you gain Always Ready, and  while controlling a vehicle, its speed is considered 5 ft. higher.

On the Go II: At Level 7, you gain the Jumpstart feat, and while controlling a vehicle, its speed is considered 5 ft. higher (total 10ft.).

Bonus Feat: At Levels 3 and 7, you gain a bonus Covert or Terrain feat.

Labor of Love: You take great care of your vehicles to ensure they take great care of you. At Level 4, each time you fail a Crafting or Ride check and don’t suffer an error, you still succeed as long as the check DC (or your opponent’s check result) is equal to or less than your Class Level + 20. If several grades of success are possible, you achieve only the lowest possible positive result.
If you gain this ability for either skill from two or more classes, add together your levels in all classes granting the ability when determining its effect.

A Few Modifications: At Levels 4 and 8, you may pick a vehicle upgrade with a value no greater than +50%. Vehicles you control are considered to possess this upgrade.

Custom Built: Your customizations tend to be as effective as they are elegant. At Level 6, at the start of each adventure, you may choose one vehicle you own. Until the end of the adventure, this vehicle gains either the Powered upgrade, or is instead mounted with a siege weapon up to one Size smaller than the vehicle at no additional cost. The chosen benefit is lost at the end of the adventure.

Yee-Haw!: With you behind the wheel, it’s not uncommon for some truly unbelievable stunts to take place. At Level 8, once per session while controlling a vehicle, you automatically succeed with 1 Ride check (DC up to 50).

Clean Getaway: You are an undisputed master of escape, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Once per Adventure, you may travel back to a location you have previously been to in the current Adventure in 1/10th the normal time required; having uncovered a brilliant escape route, a secret passage, or simply utilizing backup reserves of power (or sheer will) to expedite travel. You may bring a number of willing or helpless characters along with you equal to your starting action dice (if on foot), or you may bring the occupants of the vehicle you are on (if controlling a vehicle). Though you may travel this distance in a trivial amount of time, any pursuers still traverse the distance as normal, and suffer any appropriate penalties with Track checks or similar abilities.


Driving Basics
You understand the subtleties of high-velocity transportation.
Benefit: You may use the Maneuever action to perform Tumble checks while driving a vehicle. Additionally, vehicles you control gain DR against attacks made by standard characters equal to the number of Covert feats you possess.

Driving Mastery
Your steering skills are known far and wide.
Prerequisites: Driving Basics
Benefit: whenever you spend downtime travelling on a vehicle, you may simultaneously attempt a Foster Goodwill check using your Ride skill. Also, the Size of any vehicle you are controlling is considered 1 Size smaller when attempting to squeeze through spaces, and 1 Size larger for the purpose of Trample attacks you make.

Driving Supremacy
You dominate the road unquestioningly.
Prerequisites: Driving Mastery
Benefit: Your attacks made while controlling a vehicle gain AP 4 against other vehicles, and you gain a trick.
Slipstreaming (Vehicle Outmaneuver Trick): You may continue to perform movement actions while attempting this check. With success, you may also reduce the speed of a vehicle you can see by 10 ft. / 1 MPH until the end of the scene. You may use this effect once per vehicle per scene.


The rest of your party is just glad you haven't discovered caffeine yet.
Benefit: Your threat range with attacks made during the first two rounds of combat increases by 1, and during a surprise round you gain an additional move action.

*I am dimly aware of a similar drive-oriented class existing in SpyCraft, but unfortunately I do not have access to the system and have no idea how much this does or doesn't have in common. Please forgive me if this class is just reinventing the Wheelman.
Spoiler: show
 Pun wholly intended.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 03:07:49 AM by Curator »


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Re: New Expert Class: The Helmsman
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 07:38:55 AM »
The Wheelman became the Lancer, you're more covering the Chase aspects of the Transporter and the vehicle operation abilities of the Ace here.

As a Core ability, Means of Transportation's sorta weak. To pull from some of the vehicle oriented SC2.0 classes compare it to:

Street Knight - In the Dust: You may add your base Defense bonus to the Defense of any personal vehicle you’re operating.
Ace - Evasive Action: You have a superbly honed survival instinct. Each time you spend 1 action die to increase your Defense, you roll 2 dice to determine how long the bonus lasts.
Transporter - Watchful: Whenever you spend 1 action die to boost your Defense, you may roll the action die and add its result to your Initiative Count. (Although I have to note that the Transporter is more of a bodyguard than a vehicle operator.)
Stuntman - Adrenaline Junkie: Each time you lose 1 or more wound points due to an opponent’s attack, falling
damage, or explosive damage, you gain 1 bonus action die. If this die is not spent by the end of the current scene, it is lost. You may gain only 1 bonus action die per attack or instance of falling or explosive damage, no matter how many wound points you lose. Further, this ability may grant a maximum number of bonus action dice per session equal to your starting action dice. (Again, the Stuntman is more of a generalised daredevil and adrenaline junkie, but they have a significant vehicular component to their skill set.)

I'm guessing you somewhat based it off the Lancer's ability, but that's strength is it gives you two extra actions in combat. For the benefit from Means of Transportation I'd recommend instead making Favored Gear (Vehicle) a requirement and then take them up the chain using the B slot, the same way the Ace did, then use something like the example Core abilities. Then move the equipment feature to the A slot. This also means that all Helmsmen benefit from always having a tricked out vehicle, not just those who took it as their first Expert class.

So that leaves us at:

1: Means of Transportation, Core.
2: Signature Gear.
3: C1.
4: D1. E.
5: C2.
6: F.
7: Trademark Gear. C3.
8: D2. G.
9: C4.
10: H.

Yee-Haw! is pretty much the same as the Ace's Slick Moves ability. The Ace splits the C slots and puts it at C2 and C4, with the C4 slot granting a second use, so that seems like a good spot for that. Personally I'd prefer to change the name to That's Impossible! but that's just the nostalgia talking. ;) Now for the other C slots, A Few Modifications seems to fit there nicely, so now we get to:

1: Means of Transportation, Core.
2: Signature Gear.
3: A Few Modifications.
4: D1. E.
5: Yee-Haw!
6: F.
7: Trademark Gear, A Few Modifications.
8: D2. G.
9: Yee-Haw!
10: H.

On the Go fits nicely into the D slots. Or you could stick A Few Modifications in D and On the Go in C slots I stuck it in. I'd also either role the benefits of Jumpstart into the ability, or ditch On the Go entirely and make the slots in question Bonus Feats.

So that leaves us with E, F, and G. You already have Labor of Love at E, and Custom Built at F, which leaves G open. But this still leaves your Zero to Sixty hanging, so I think shifting Custom Built to G while picking a Core ability to cover one aspect of that ability chain sticking the other two benefits with a little pruning into F smooths that out, so:

1: Means of Transportation, Core.
2: Signature Gear.
3: A Few Modifications.
4: On the Go I. Labor of Love.
5: Yee-Haw! (1/session)
6: Zero to Sixty.
7: Trademark Gear, A Few Modifications.
8: On the Go II. Custom Built.
9: Yee-Haw! (2/session)
10: H.

That just leaves H, the Game breaker. If you see the class as more transportation, staying back on the ship while the rest of the party does stuff I guess Clean Getaway is Ok if a little weak. If you want the Helmsman in mixing it up and exploiting his mastery of vehicles with the rest of the party you'll want something else. Even in the former I'd consider something else since it's so limited.

Now excuse me, it's time for me to go back to the Krensky-cave for another six weeks. ;)
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 07:47:58 AM by Krensky »
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Re: New Expert Class: The Helmsman
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 10:42:58 AM »
The idea of the Favored Gear line crossed our minds, but we quickly threw it out as we realized that was not how we wanted the class to work at all. FG focuses on being good with your particular piece of gear, like how the Rune Knight is especially good with his rune'd weapon. The Helmsman is good with all sorts of vehicles. Need to steal a wagon on your way out of town? Helmsman's got it. Parked the boat offshore but still need a chariot to the temple? Helmsman's got it. If we add Favored Gear, then it's about a man and his vehicle, not about the man and his driving skills.


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Re: New Expert Class: The Helmsman
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 01:08:07 PM »
Looks like a pretty neat class. I do think Krensky's suggestions have some definite merit, though I could go either way on the Favored Gear line being part of it.

Whatever changes this class may go through, I definitely think that Zero to Sixty's initiative and Ref save benefits (if nothing else) are important to keep in, simply because vehicles have pretty poor values for those. Mounted combat rules (which vehicles also use) in Fantasy Craft are pretty nasty about that sort of thing.

On a somewhat related note, I think it would be more appropriate for this to have moderate BAB and Defense progressions rather than low BAB and high Def. Mounted combat mechanics mean the high Def will be meaningless while driving and driving is what the class is all about, and having a reasonable combat-capable BAB will help the class pull its weight better when driving the car isn't necessary. It's also important for running people down with those vehicular Overrun attacks...

The gamebreaker could definitely use some more oomph. One thing that could help fill it out would be an ability to have a vehicle ready and on hand at a moment's notice, so if your wagon's parked on the other side of town you don't need to go all that way to get it. Sort of a "summon vehicle" effect, except based on retconning/narrative convenience rather than magic. Even adding that to the 10x speed getaway would still be a bit on the weak side, but it'd definitely help, anyway. You could probably also make the gamebreaker usable more often than 1/adventure without too much issue; if your campaign has Miracles and/or Sorcery, a caster of either flavor can potentially have the ability to Teleport you to a previously-visited location at least once per scene well before gamebreaker level, so I don't think letting an expert class whose whole schtick is vehicle use transport the party at 10x normal speed once per session or even once per scene would be at all gamebreaking.

Finally, isn't the Foster Goodwill benefit on Driving Mastery kind of pointless? Long-distance travel is considered downtime and allows downtime checks by default anyway, so you can Foster Goodwill on the road even without the feat.