The Problem was a class I wrote a long time ago. You see, the idea was for the Those who Know setting that only the Agents of API had any sort of magical power, and the Understudies* would be restricted to a group of non-magical classes that resembled the stock characters in a horror movie, namely the Allure, the Investigator, the John Doe, the Alice, and the Boxer. The Problem was a late addition to that group- meant to be exactly what their name implied, a problem for everyone around them.
However, I ended up updating the Problem class to make it more simplified, and ended up giving the Problem a set of abilities too similar to vanilla Wizards, which was exactly what I wanted to avoid. So I am redesigning the Problem to be more like my Paladin class.
Repeating Those who Know over and over is confusing and irritating, so I'm just going to call humans who know about the Downworld but are not associated with API Understudies.
Problems are Understudies, formerly normal people who defiled themselves with dark power in order to become stronger. Whatever reason you did it for is your own, whether selfish or noble. However, in doing so, you spelled your own doom. A Problem's powers are fueled by darkness, but darkness hungers. The more power you draw from it, the more it will seek to swallow you. Fail to restrain your appetite for power and you will be devoured by the dark, and your character will become a monster under the control of the Referee.
Starting HP: 1/3 Con Score
FS: An amount of FS equal to 27-[current amount of Humanity Points]
Starting Equipment: scavenged weapon (1d6), possibly cursed magic item, messy clothes, suspicious wound, recklessness toward the unexplained and inexplicable
Rush of Power: By spending 1 Humanity Point, you can receive a +1 bonus to any ability check, saving throw attack or damage roll. For saving throws, the bonus instead subtracts from your roll.
Humanity Points: You start with 27 Humanity Points. You can spend these to power your abilities. If you run out of Humanity Points in an uncontrolled way, your character becomes a powerful, and likely hostile, NPC under the Referee's control.
You can regain Humanity Points by performing virtuous or heroic actions. These include things such as risking yourself in a heroic and non-foolish manner, saving people from death, or meddling where you don't belong on behalf of another. The Referee has final discretion over what counts as Heroic. If the Referee agree with the Player(s) that such an action was heroic, the Problem regains 1d6 Humanity Points.
First Fruits: You receive a special power that is dependent on what you first defiled yourself with. Consult your Dread Archetype for more information on what your power specifically is. Using this power does not take Humanity Points.
Cursed Crop: Mere dabbling is dangerous enough, but to consume darkness the way you do can cause permanent damage to your mind and body. Every time you increase a level, including this one, you must save. On a failure, you gain a Dark Conviction. If you already have a Dark Conviction, your Conviction instead worsens, growing stronger and harder to resist. If a Dark Conviction commands something, you must succeed a WIL saving throw to resist, if the opportunity to act in accordance with the Conviction presents itself.
Predator's Eye: By spending a Humanity Point, you can enhance your senses to supreme levels. At minimum, this gives you a +4 bonus to any attempt to spot hidden things, movement, or detect sneaking or hidden foes. However, depending on your Dread Archetype, it may also grant you additional senses that a Human would not possess.
Rotten Bloom: You receive another special power that is dependent on your Dread Archetype. Using this power does not require Humanity Points. It may be used at will.
Natural Born Killer: Your body twists and changes, the darkness within altering your body to give you natural weapons. Whatever these weapons are, they vary depending on your Dread Archetype.
Overdrive: You can enhance your natural weapons and attack power by drawing on the darkness within you. Whenever you spend a Humanity Point to boost an attack or damage roll, it counts for +2 instead of +1.
Malign Form: Your body twists and changes, transforming your form to become the spitting image of the Dread Archetype you first defiled yourself with. This change is permanent. Along with the changes to your form, it also boosts your natural defenses, depending on your Dread Archetype.
Foul Aura: Your soul is so polluted it inspires fear, just as the presence of great monsters do. As a full action, you may spend 1 Humanity Point to release your aura, allowing it to wash over all those who can see and hear you. All those who feel your aura must save. On a failure, they become frightened, and take 1d6 Morale damage a round. If the Morale damage they've taken ever equals or exceeds their Morale, they will flee.
Born Again: You are presented with a choice. You learn the method of expending your last Humanity Point in a semi-safe method. This method will involve a quest, a difficult trial, and a final test. If you succeed, you will gain all the powers of your Dread Archetype, while retaining some fragment of who you once were. However, if you fail, you will become a dangerous NPC under the control of the Referee, as your soul is lost to darkness, forever.
Alternatively, you can reject this path. This prompts a futher question. If you choose to remain where you are, balanced on the knife's edge of oblivion, then nothing about your situation changes.
Or you can choose to reject the darkness entirely, and cut yourself off from the power of darkness. If you do so, you lose all your Problem abilities, but your body retains its true form. You will never need to risk your Humanity ever again.
These are the Dread Archetypes I already wrote, detailing a few of the Monsters that the Problem is slowly turning into. You can write your own with the Template below, or just use the ones I have provided.
Natural Born Killer
A X's Dark Convictions:
You fed on the carcasses of the dead, and in doing so, gained a small sliver of power from them. You're faster, stronger, and hungrier than ever before. You need more flesh- dead or living, it doesn't matter. It's the only way to ensure your survival, your immortality. It's also the only thing that makes your insides stop hurting. You're just so, hungry.
First Fruit: If you eat the flesh of a person, living or dead, you regain 1d6+[their HD] HP. You must spend at least an action eating to gain this benefit. This causes you to heal minor wounds, but it cannot regenerate missing body parts.
Predator's Eye: You gain an enhanced sense of smell. If a person has open wounds, you can follow them across a continent. You can also distinguish someone's blood type from scent alone.
Rotten Bloom: Your hands are cold. As an action, you may touch someone with your hands. Anyone you touch must save. On a failed save, their heart stops and they start dying. On their next turn, they may save again. If they pass their second save, then their soul kick-starts their heart and they come back. But if they fail their second save, they are dead for good.
Natural Born Killer: You grow claws from your fingertips and your jaw strengthens. You can bite through bone. Your claws and jaws do 1d6+STR damage.
Malign Form: Your flesh becomes cold and pale. You no longer feel pain. Sunlight irritates your skin, making you break out in terrible rash.
Born Again: You can become a true Undead or you can become a Man once more. If you choose the former, you no longer feel physical pain, fear, or doubt. You no longer need to sleep, drink, breathe or rest. The only thing left is hunger. If you have an adequete supply of meat, you will maintain your humanity. If not, you will degenerate, first into a feral beast, then into a twitching corpse. You still won't die though. The only thing that truly lives forever is Want, and Ghouls are nothing but Want.
A Ghoul's Dark Convictions:
1- "I hunger for the flesh of man." You find yourself craving human flesh. Whenever you get the chance to indulge, you must successfully save to resist the urge.
2- "I fear the Sun, it will destroy me." You find yourself looking over your shoulder at the sun. Whenever you can, you will avoid direct sunlight, unless forced to otherwise. While in sunlight, you make fear and WIL saves with a -4 penalty.
3- "I should have never been born." You find yourself despairing over your own consciousness. Whenever given the chance to take your own life, you must seriously consider the idea or permanently lose 1 point of WIL.
4- "I've come to realize existence itself is a sick joke, played on us." You find yourself seeking to liberate others from the pain of their own existence. If you have the chance to kill someone, you must successfully save to resist the urge.
5- "I am a monster who kills everything I touch." You find yourself fearing your own abilities. You will avoid touching people unless absolutely necessary.
6- "Morality is just a useful fiction, and very few people actually follow it." You begin to find humanity's moral wretchedness disgusting. At least you're honest about being a monster. If you see someone commiting some kind of injustice in your eyes, you will be able to instantly justify attacking or killing that person.
You were once human, but perfectionism is a powerful thing. After replacing a bit of your failing flesh with cold steel and sparking silicon, you could no longer abide the weaknesses of mortality. You must resist, or the person who ends up stealing your humanity might be you.
First Fruit: You have a concealed weapon in your implants. Depending on your implants, this could be anything from a small stunning device to a built-in pistol. Whatever your weapon is, it does damage as one of those weapons.
Predator's Eye: You have sensors installed in your body that allow you to interface with Wi-Fi emitters. These sensors download and translate this data into something readable by your brain. This Wi-Fi vision allows you to "see through" walls and determine the number of people in a room. If someone is wearing or carrying a phone or other device that interfaces with a Wi-Fi source, you can find them no matter what. This Wi-Fi vision only works in a place that has a Wi-Fi signal and can only affect those creatures with a physical body; Wi-Fi vision cannot detect an entity composed entirely of immaterial substances, such as a Ghost or Hallucination Monster.
Rotten Bloom: Your natural AC is boosted to 14, thanks to the artificial armor installed in your skin. You can no longer swim, though with your implants, that would be a bad idea, anyway. You can no longer wear armor as well, with the exception of shields. Other armor doesn't boost your AC any further, plus it slows you down.
Natural Born Killer: You finally give yourself an implant that is some kind of weapon. This could be anything from a buzzsaw to a giant gun to a death ray. Your weapon does 2d8 damage of the appropriate type on a hit.
Malign Form: A good chunk of your body has been replaced by cybernetics and other works of mad science. You are immune to all conventional, non-inhaled poisons. You also have a resistance to non-magical sharp and blunt damage, as well as low caliber firearms (pistols and certain small rifles). You sink like a stone in water and lose any ability to swim. Your natural AC is now 16.
Born Again: You have two choices, transcend your humanity, or embrace it. If you choose the former, your body now becomes almost entirely robotic, with only the most essential of your biological organs maintained. You are immune to small arms fire (pistols and certain small rifles) and non-magical blunt and sharp damage, unless the latter two are wielded by someone of incredible skill or with superhuman strength or speed. Your base AC is now 18. No poisons work on you, unless they somehow manage to penetrate your armor. You gain little benefit from healing spells and you do not age. You will live forever unless killed.
A Creepbot's Dark Convictions:
1- "The flesh is weak!" You must resist the urge to amputate your soft flesh and replace it with cybernetics. Every time you have an excuse or the opportunity to do so, you must successfully save to resist the urge. If someone manages to talk to you before that, you can try again if you failed your first save.
2- "Have I made a mistake [in modifying myself]?" You find yourself wondering about your choices. If one of your cybernetics is damaged, you must successfully save to repair it. On a failed save, you will merely remove the damaged part.
3- "I am terrified of mortal frailty and our final weakness, death." If you ever believe you are in danger of dying, you must save. On a failed save, you will flee immediately.
4- "Was I ever actually human? Can my memories be trusted?" You find yourself doubting your own memories. Were you ever actually a human, or just a machine programmed to be so? Even if you were human, are these your memories? You must successfully save to consult your memories (through the Referee) for information.
5- "Have I lost something I can never get back?" You find yourself beginning to wonder about the nature of humanity. You become unwilling to kill people unless you successfully save.
6- "I am depressed because I can never do [X] again." X will vary based on the nature of your implants. However, it is something that you cannot do anymore. You find yourself devoting all of your spare time to figuring out a way to reverse your defilement and redeem yourself. If you have a chance to return to being human, you will jump at the opportunity, unless you successfully save.
You made a bargain with a strange, naked person in the woods, or you spent a day as a child with a beautiful, alien creature who never spoke, only to return home and find decades had passed; or maybe one day, you just started to notice how pointed your ears and teeth were. Either way, you realized you had the old magic in your blood, the power of root and stem, the blood of the Folk. You are going to become one of them, whether you like it or not. Might as well enjoy the ride.
First Fruit: You can communicate to wild plants and animals as if you shared a language. It's not that you're talking, per say, but you can understand their thoughts. You can also understand domesticated plants and animals, but they never have anything good to say to you. Domesticated animals either avoid you or they don't like you anymore- unless they had a strong relationship with you before this, they will dislike you on sight.
Predator's Eye: You gain the ability to detect infrared radiation. You can see in perfect darkness and find living creatures easily. However, your infrared vision can only work if the environment is not as hot as the thing you are looking at, and if there are objects with similar heat signatures, that can give you useless information.
Rotten Bloom: You gain the ability to weave illusions out of stardust and strong feelings. When you make an illusion, you must select an object or creature by touching it. Once you have done this, the object or creature you touched changes appearance. You can disguise the object or creature as an object or creature of similar size, such as a broom as a sword or a stone as a jewel. You can also weave illusions to camoflague something or render it invisible. However, your illusions are not perfect, and if someone succeeds on a WIS saving throw, they will be able to see through them, to what is hidden underneath.
Natural Born Killer: You gain the ability to transform your body into a terrifying, dangerous monster form. in your Monster form, you STR, CON and WIL increase by +2 or to 16(+2), whatever is higher. You also get a +10 bonus to FS in this form. This FS is not refreshed every time you transform, and recovers with the rest of your FS. You also receive natural weapons in this form, such as horns, antler, talons or claws. Pick one when you first unlock this ability.
Malign Form: Your normal body becomes astonishingly beautiful and slightly alien in appearance. You're stunning, but clearly inhuman.
Born Again: You can reject your humanity or learn to love it. If you choose the former, you become a Faerie, truly one of the timeless Folk. You become unable to bear the touch of iron and unable to tell a lie. You also stop aging and gain the ability to cast spells as a Wizard.
A Fey-touched's Dark Convictions:
1- "I hate these silly toys you play with." You find yourself coming to despise the physical artifacts of civilization, such as clothes, furniture, drapes, doileys, silverware and etc. If given the chance, you must save to resist destroying them.
2- "You are not my master. I bow to no one." You find yourself coming to reject these ludicrous excuses for hierarchy. You see no reason why you must respect any hierarchy where the leader is not stronger than you. If given an opportunity, you must save to resist disrespecting the human hierarchy.
3- "You are all fools; either too stupid to see your own enslavement or too broken to want to be free." You find yourself coming to pity or despise those people who are comfortable in civilization.
4- "I am no man." You find yourself becoming savage in your mannerisms. You must successfully save to act in a manner civilized people would. On a failed save, you will be as rude and uncivilized as a drunken Conan the Barbarian at a formal gala.
5- "Like the sun, do not look upon me directly, or you will die." Given the first opportunity, you must save or begin describing your greatness to anyone who will listen. You become proud.
6- "I like killing." You feel the urge to kill for fun. Given the opportunity, save to resist.
You drank the golden ichor of the sun, or bathed in the strange radiation of a Heavenly One. You emerged changed. Smarter, stronger, less human. You absorb the light of the sun, it turns you gold and platinum. You can sometimes pass for human, but even then, people regard you strangely. You seem odd to them- too bright, too hopeful, too noble. Something isn't right about you. And the way you look up into the starry sky, for some reason, you seem so sad.
First Fruit: You absorb sun and starlight through your skin. For every hour you spend under a clear sky, you regain 1d6 FS, up to your maximum. You never really get tired, unless you're underground or its cloudy. If you spend at least 8 hours under an open, clear sky, you don't need to eat or drink. However, if you are deprived of sun or starlight for a number of days equal to your level, you sicken and weaken, then abruptly die.
Predator's Eye: You can see people's souls. To your eyes, a soul is a small flame burning at the center of a person's chest, radiating light throughout their body. From looking at this small flame and the light it produces, you can roughly determine someone's physical and emotional state. For example: "Healthy and angry; wounded and scared; dying and happy." If someone was also especially wicked or noble, you can see that as well, but they are neither incredibly good nor incredibly evil, you cannot tell.
Rotten Bloom: You can release the light energy in your body in a single, blazing wave that ripples out from you in a dazzling wave of light and heat. To do this, select as many points of FS as you wish to sacrifice. Then you lose this, and everyone within 10*[the amount of FS sacrificed] feet takes fire damage equaivalent to [the amount of FS sacrificed], save for half.
Natural Born Killer: Your strength is boosted to superhuman levels. You gain a STR of 18(+3). You can also bend steel bars, lift very heavy things, and break people's bones with a punch.
Malign Form: You are transformed into a creature of the sun. Your hair turns the color of gold, silver or platinum, and your eyes change color and sparkle like jewels. Your skin changes color as well, becoming bone-white or golden-brown or some other elegant tone (Referee's Discretion). You are completely inhuman but also quite beautiful. Now, when you take in sun or starlight, you regain double the amount of FS and you can regenerate HP as well. Missing body parts will regrow themselves in time.
Born Again: You can choose to embrace divinity and perfection, but lose the whole world; or to remain finite and flawed, but also maintain your existence in the world of Becoming. If you choose the former, you gain the ability to fly and to hear the music of creation. You come to realize how insignificant things on Earth are, and wish to ascend. When you reach this level, you must save. On a failed save, you say good-bye to your friends and family and ascend into the Heavens, vanishing forever into the sky. Even if you succeed the save though, you will continue to have doubts, and if something terrible happens, you will have to save again to resist leaving this world behind.
A Star-child's Dark Convictions:
1- "Everything on Earth is so unimportant." The mundane bores you. If asked to do something mundane, you must save or blow it off, as it doesn't really matter.
2- "I want to die [so I can go home]." You become convinced that if you kill yourself, you will be able to leave this place, and be taken to a better one. If given the opportunity to kill yourself in a mostly painless or otherwise convenient way, you must save or do it.
3- "I must help these poor, blind animals to see the truth." You will attempt to help other people see the truth you now bear witness to. At the first opportunity, you must save or attempt to enlighten people. This can be anything from preaching the Way of Solar Righteousness to purchasing large amounts of dangerous, psychedelic drugs to give to people.
4- "Humans are unworthy of my help. It is wasted on them." You find the moral depravity of Man, as well as his short-sighted irrationality, disgusting. You will no longer help them, you have decided. You must successfully save to aid any human in an altruistic manner.
5- "The world is hell [and I want out]." You want to leave this world, but cannot find the will to kill yourself. So you have decided to endanger yourself. When confronted with multiple ways of solving a solution, you must successfully save or choose the most dangerous option.
6- "I cannot understand humans or their ways anymore." When two or more humans do something that is peculiar to humans, such as a custom or quirk, you must save to remember what you should do in that situation.
Dead Man Walking
You were supposed to die, but didn't. The noose they used to hang you broke, or the lethal injection wasn't so lethal after all, or the bullet fired by the firing squad bounced off your ribs, or the last minute pardon from the governor arrived one minute too late, and they threw the switch on ol's sparky; however they tried, it didn't kill you. Now you stand, perfectly balanced between life and death, a living shade, a dead soul.
First Fruit: You count as either technically alive or technically dead, depending on your will. You can also choose to "play dead" for as long as you like. While playing dead you cannot move or do anything, but you do not age, breathe, or give off any sign of life, and are indistinguishable from a corpse.
Predator's Eye: By touching someone, you can see how they will die. Your grisly visions are always true.
Rotten Bloom: As an action, you can turn off your ability to feel pain. When you take non-magical damage while your ability to feel pain is off, roll a CON saving throw. If you succeed, you take no damage. If you fail, the damage does lasting damage to your body, lowering your ability to move.
Natural Born Killer: As an action, you can turn on your Corpse Vision, as per Predator's Eye, allowing you to see how everyone around you will die. If you attack someone with the source of damage that will kill them, they take double damage. However, during this time, you can see your own fatal wounds, and damage that corresponds with that wound will do double damage to you. You may switch off your Corpse Vision as a free action.
Malign Form: Nothing about you changes; yet at the same time, everything does. Your presence unnerves people, your touch is cold, your eyes, they see too much. As an action, you can draw the Reaper close to you. His long shadow falls across all of those who can see or hear you. Each round, everyone must save vs death in order of initiative. If you are not in combat, then go in descending order of HD from highest to lowest. The first person to fail their save dies.
Born Again: You must choose, life or death. If you choose life, you live again. If you choose death, then a Psychopomp will arrive to ferry your soul to the afterlife. If you fight him off, you may remain in your body as an Undead. However, you are a special type of Undead, as your soul is free from your body. You may cast it forth or withdraw it back into your body as you see fit.
A Dead Man's Dark Convictions:
1- "I should be dead."
2- "I should be alive."
3- "Everyone is doomed, what's the point."
4- "Everyone else has something I don't, I despise them."
5- "I fear death."
6- "I welcome death."
Some stupid fool summoned an Outsider, and gave you to it to function as a host body. However, through virtue, sin, magical talent, magic-conducting wards on your body, sheer force of will or some combination of any of the aforementioned things, you managed to retain control. Now you have an Outsider riding shotgun in your body. You can hear it talking in your mind- whispering things only you can hear. What it wants is likely to vary, but the first goal of any Outsider is that it wants to be free.
First Fruit: If you grant the Outsider permission, it can change the shape and size of your body, though it can only stretch what flesh exists, and not radically alter your size. It can make you taller, but not double your height.
Predator's Eye: If you have the Outsider's permission, you may see as it does. Outsiders have Angel Eyes or Demon Vision, what mortals call Sight Beyond Sight. This is a form of sensing that pierces any illusion, reveals the true forms of anyone who is looked at, and shows you things as they truly are- without pretense or deception. To mortals, it is incredibly invasive, as mortals are conflicted and divided, attempting neutrality in the middle of a spiritual war. To Outsiders, on the other hand, this is nothing to be concerned about. Outsiders embody either virtues, vices, strong dreams, or other things. They are pure consciousness, so it is all but impossible for them to change who they are or how they feel.
Rotten Bloom: If you have the Outsider's permission, you may borrow one of its Demonic Gifts. Roll to see what Demonic Gifts the Outsider has. You may only borrow one of the Outsider's gifts at once, and you may only do so if it has permission.
Natural Born Killer: If you have the Outsider's permission, you may borrow one of its Spirit Weapons. An Outsider's spirit weapon is a weapon that is molded from and fused with the soul of its wielder- it is more comparable to a limb than a tool. To use one is a great honor and a terrible burden. All Spirit Weapons do damage as if the Outsider was attacking with them.
Malign Form: If you have the Outsider's permission, you may transform your body partiailly to resemble the Outsider's true form. This doubles the numbers of attacks you can make, and gives you Damage Threshold equal to half the Outsider's normal Damage Threshold.
Born Again: You can choose to expel the Outsider from your body, or you can choose to continue your current relationship. If you choose the former, you lose all your Problem abilities, but gain freedom. If you choose the latter, you must be careful. If you hit zero Humanity Points with an Outsider in your body, it will seize control of you, and you will become its tool.
A Daemonhost's Dark Convictions:
I will not be including a table of Dark Convictions for the Daemonhost. This is for two reasons. The first reason is that all Outsiders are different, and it would be too difficult to write a table diverse enough to fit them all. Secondly, it is because the presence of another mind in the character's body is interesting enough as it is. So have the Outsider whisper in the Daemonhost's ear, trying to convince them to act as the Outsider would, in whatever way the Outsider would prefer. Give them power from the Outsider, all while extracting promises and oaths from them. Try to influence them and string you along. But most of all, all Outsiders want to control the Daemonhost. The Outsider could (probably) leave any time it wanted to, but it hasn't, because it still thinks you might be controllable.
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