Monday 24 May 2021

Mentors - Retiring Your Character to NG+ and Multi-Class

Any long-running game can eventually run into a problem.
What to do with all these high level characters?

This is especially obvious when you're running a game where new characters start at level 1.
Sure, I know that in exponential exp terms a character catches up quick, but lower levels are my vibe!

The "normal" way to cycle to the next character is for your current one to die, but that's extra hard when the character is at a beefy high level and relatively safe.

And so, Mentors.
The classic retired adventurer trope, except it's your old character and they can retire to a happy life of an innkeeper, mountaintop dojo sensei, tower wizard, spooky mansion full of weird shit owner, or whatever else they'd want to do once their adventuring days are over.
Most importantly, future characters get a special bonus because they've been trained by the old (or not that old) master, and the ability to multi-class.

(Shoutout to the Retired Adventurer)


When you reach Level 6 you can retire to become a Mentor.

Mentors give a starting boost to new characters and grant them the ability to multi-class into the Mentor's class in classic D&D style.

Starting Mentor bonuses are picked from the class-based list below, plus an extra character-based one you work out with the DM.
Multi-classing is fairly straightforward for now. Fucked if I know what happens when a multi-classed character retires to become a Mentor. A worry for another time, perhaps!

Naturally there are roleplaying impacts from playing a character with a Mentor. "Ah yes, I knew your mother well" or "curse you scion of POWERLAD!" or "but Lorn au Arcos swore never to train another swordsman!".
That's up to you though.

When the newbie asks you if you know their mentor

Starting Mentor Bonuses

When you retire your character to become a Mentor, new characters can have trained under you to gain a starting bonus.
They can pick one of the standard class bonuses below, or the special character bonus you work out with your DM.

Standard Class Bonus:

- Gain +1 to base attack bonus.
- Gain the Weapon Mastery class bonus: Fighter powers based on your weapon.
- When you kill a creature, get a free Cleave attack against another creature nearby.

- Gain +1 Mana.
- Choose a spell the Mentor knows. You can cast this once per day.
- You have your Mentor's Familiar. It can't cast spells unless you can, but otherwise acts as a Magic-User's Familiar. If you die, it returns to your Mentor. 

- +2 Skill Points.
- Instead of getting skill points at char gen, choose a skill your Mentor has maxed out and max it out yourself.
- Gain the Sharp Eye class bonus: no random targets when you fire into melee.

- Count as +1 level for Faith rolls.
- Choose a Miracle your Mentor has access to. You can call forth this Miracle once per day.
- Gain the Lead Prayer class bonus: Sermons always succeed.

- Gain one of your Mentor's Barbarian abilities.
- When you're at 0HP, gain +1 attack.
- Gain +4 AC when you're not wearing armour and you always count as protected against extreme weather.

- Gain +1 Mana
- Choose a spell the Mentor knows. You can cast this once per day.
- You can raise a single skeleton, zombie, or skin kite given 10 minutes and a Last Breath. Max 1 at a time.

Muscle Wizard:
- Gain +1 Mana.
- Choose a spell the Mentor knows. You can instantly punch-cast this once per day.
- Your fists deal 1d4 damage and count as Shanky weapons. If you can cast spells, you can cast them via a punch attack.

- +1 HD of HP at first level.
- Choose a first level Lorebond your Mentor has unlocked. You have that ability and drawback.
- You always succeed at Arcana checks to bond to a new Glyph.

- Gain +1 Mana.
- You can cast your Mentor's Heartspell once per day. Until you cast it, you have their tier 1 Elf ability and mutation.
- Once per day, at will, you can release a Chaos Burst.

- +1 Dexterity
- +2 to Stealth while in dungeon or urban environments.
- Gain a Goblin Minion. It follows your orders to the letter but not the spirit, and if killed it always falls down something and will show up a week later like nothing happened.

- +1 Charisma
- +2 to Stealth while in outdoor or wilderness environments.
- Once per day, you can give someone an order that they will unwittingly follow for the next 5 seconds at least. If they wouldn't want to do it, they'll stop after the 5 seconds and be all "wait a second".

- Gain +1 Meat Point.
- Choose a Mutation your Mentor has. You can use this once per day. Until you do, you have the associated passive ability.
- You can eat any dead creature smaller than you like a Ration, healing 1d6 HP over ten minutes of horrifying digestion.

- You gain a 1d6 damage Bite attack.
- You have a rat friend who thinks you're cool and can talk to you. You can't speak to other rats, but your rat can always liaise on your behalf.
- Once per day, you can summon a swarm of 10 rats that swarms over you and tanks damage. Each point of damage you receive kills a rat.

- Choose a Named Character from your Mentor mob. They're your sidekick now. If they would die, you can drop to 0HP to save them but it must be in a dramatic fashion.
- Once per day, take a second action on your turn.
- Once per session, when you are dropped to 0HP, stay on 0HP because the bulk of the damage was taken by your stunt double

Special Character Bonus:

Character bonuses should be be cool unique stuff, as unique as your character was!

You retire as a weird unique class, so a new character can start as that weird unique class.
You retire to be a father for your new swarm of giant spider-teens, so a new character can have spider-teen henchmen.
You retire with a fantasy fast food empire, so a new character gets free meals for the party from any of their outlets.
You retire after becoming a vast blooming flesh-Yggdrasil, so a new character can start with mutant superpowers.

All completely normal examples of things that happen in games.


Multi-Classing is simple and probably works how you would expect. This may change if it turns out it fucks up even the fairly loose balance between classes we currently have.

The upside is you get to be a fun admixture of two different classes. Especially weird if you mix race-classes. Idk how that works in fiction, that's on you.
The downside is that the multi-class side is a weaker version of what you'd normally get if you mainlined a class.

I'll call the Mentor's class your Off-Class, to show that it's kind of askance to your main class.

- Upside: Gives you the cool thing that the Off-Class gets on level.
- Downside: Off-Class Hit Die reduced one size.
- Implicit downside: You don't get stuff that the Off-Class would have started with.

Also you might notice that mixing casters is a bit of a shit deal. This is on purpose!
I didn't want to get into a whole thing with how different Mana pools interact or blend or whatever, so off-class casters just get an extra once/day spell.

So here goes -

+1d6 HP
+1 to base attack bonus

+1d2 HP
+Gain a spell your Mentor knows. You can cast this once per day.

+ 1d4 HP
+2 Skill Points.

+1d4 HP
+1d6 Lay on Hands. (Roll 1d6 per Cleric level at dawn. This is your Healing Pool. As an Action, you can Lay on Hands to heal someone from your Healing Pool)

+1d6 HP
+Gain one of your Mentor's Barbarian abilities.

+1d2 HP
+Gain a spell your Mentor knows. You can cast this once per day.

Muscle Wizard:
+1d2 HP
+Gain a spell your Mentor knows. You can punch-cast this once per day.

+ 1d8 HP
+ Unlock or advance a Lorebond your Mentor has unlocked. You gain the ability and drawback.

+1d4 HP
+You can cast your Mentor's Heartspell once per day. Until you cast it, you have their tier 1 Elf ability and mutation. This stacks - more uncast heartspells mean you get more of their mutations and abilities.

+1d4 HP
+1 Goblin Buddy who loves you. If killed, they somehow respawn next time you sleep outdoors.

+1d4 HP
+1 to Domination rolls. If you couldn't before, you can now! Please note that if you're not a true Halfling, your mind-slave will always break out of your control if you are vulnerable and/or unconscious and/or forgot to mention them until halfway into the session.

+1d4 HP
+ Choose a Mutation your Mentor has. You can use this once per day. Until you do, you have the associated passive ability.

+ 1d4 HP
+ You can summon 1 rat per Ratman level squared. You can speak to them and your rats act as a Ratman's rats.

+1d10 HP
+Gain an Extra who can do one extra thing on your turn. If they die, they are killed off-screen and return somehow the next time you take Downtime.

One Last Job

This is the classic, right?
Retired hero gets brought back in by the old gang for a final heist or maybe someone kills their dog.
Or the other classic, your mentor dies saving you from some deadly foe or tragic self-made mistake.

I was thiiiiis close to mechanising it (by which I mean, I wrote and rewrote a bunch of shit) before I realised that it was a dead end.

Instead I simply suggest that in moments of great narrative resonance, when the stars and tropes align into a powerful force of myth and portent, that Mentors may be used to perform great metanarrative acts.

My original drafts had phrases like "once per Mentor" and "if you reach 0HP" and "afterwards they cannot be used as a Mentor" in there, along with a perfunctory table of Mentor tropes, but I don't think that's necessary.
If you've got a Mentor, you've got a license to fuck with the DM by bringing back an old character to enact a classic genre trope. Everything else is up to you!


  1. Retired characters giving bonuses to new ones is a great idea! Good to see you posting stuff again!

    1. Good to be back! Lockdown's finally beginning to roll back, which means the ol' brain cylinders are finally back to firing!