Anatomy of a Class
A class in Harmony Drive has the following things attached:
- Lore, backstory, and information
- 12 Spell Pieces to choose from
- Five Starting Skills
- Three Abilities per level
- An Assist Pool
Obviously, you can add things or change things for your own game, but this is what the base game looks like.
*Wandering Magi – Expert trackers blessed by the god Wandering Hector, who have carried out a pilgrimage in a sun-scorched desert.*
*Monastic – Vampires who carry on and preserve the traditions of the medieval era, who live in isolation from mortals and live through art.*
*Warptouched Ace – Pilots who have spent enough time in Warp Tunnels that their hearts are attuned to the spaces between space, and a Warp Demon sits on their shoulder.*
*Violet Scaleknight – Riders of the Radiant Violet dragons, whose gentleness and beauty grants their riders a mysterious presence.*
Abilities are ways that players can customize their approach to their class.
Every class has a list of three abilities per “level”, and as characters advance they choose a new ability from their class list. This lets two characters in the same class play differently and have different strengths and weaknesses.
When writing abilities, here are some tips:
- Try writing abilities that appeal to different styles of play
- Don’t make abilities depend on each other with prerequisites, but do make them play well together.
- Use abilities to show players how you think a class should play
Good abilities are hints that lead players down certain paths. If you imagine a certain class as a defender who looks out for teammates, then give that class abilities that help them do that!
*Anchor Note: When you cast a spell or Chord, if you do so while playing music, you gain one fewer Scatter. (Tidal Navigator, Season 1)*
*Supporter: You can gain two Scatter in order to gain an additional action in a round, provided you use both your actions to increase the Advantage Pool. (Enduring Crusader, Season 2)*
*Gallantry: If there is a helpless person nearby, you gain an extra action in combat to protect them. This can be an NPC or incapacitated ally. (Windswept Cavalier, Season 4)*
*Rush of Life: Your first spell after feeding costs half as much Blood (Stalker, Season 2)*
*Dragon Eye: You can spend one Humanity to be able to perceive the world through your dragon’s senses, even if the two of you are very far apart. (Golden Scaleknight, Season 1)*
Coming up with lists of abilities can be time-consuming. Try making them one level at a time, take your time, and don’t be afraid to re-use abilities that would fit multiple classes. You might want to write Abilities that grant additional Assist Pool Abilities, too. (Read on for more about Assist Pools)
You can write abilities for as many levels as you like, but you should have at least three.
Assist Pools represent a special source of power, outside the player, that they have access to.
Characters in your game might have a sentient weapon they can connect to, or a demonic familiar, or a friend in a high place. The important thing about Assist Pools is that they represent a special power players can turn to for help. In the base game, they’re tied to classes as a central feature.
Assist Pools have the following:
- A resource pool
- Spell Pieces
- A Consequence
Assist Pool: Cloud Elk
As a Cavalier, you are accompanied by a Cloud Elk, a flying friend who will carry you on their back in battle even though they are nervous and easily frightened. They may only like you, or they may get along with your friends, but either way, you're the only one they really trust.
If anything happens to make you lose your elk (and your GM should never have this happen without talking about it with you), you can still use its Spell Pieces and Soothing Presence ability – it never really leaves you. Until you meet a new elk partner, though, you cannot fly.
Spell Pieces: Misty, Flight
Lightning Field: (2 Scatter) Your Elk creates a strong electric charge between its antlers. If you fire an arrow through this charge, it carries with it a bolt of lightning, adding 4 additional successes to your attack roll.
Soothing Presence: (1 Scatter) Your Elk spreads its beautiful wings, sheltering everyone within its wingspan. Anyone who is being prevented from using a Facet due to consequences of an attack can use that Facet this round.
Escape Route: (3 Scatter) Your Elk carries you far up, away from danger, interrupting any attack aimed at you. You can only use this ability while mounted.
Consequence: The Wild Speech
You understand animals and they understand you. The more you Scatter into this pool, however, the less other human beings understand you. If you fill your Assist Pool completely, you lose the ability to comprehend human language. You cannot speak any language, write, or use any sign language, though you can try your luck with gestures. Until this pool is emptied there will always be a barrier between you and your fellow humans.
Assist Pool: Judgement Angel
As a Parson, you are in tune with the Celestial Law that governs all things, and are observed at all times by an Angel of Judgement. This Angel does not descend unless it feels there is no other choice, but it is always there, a presence you (and certain very sensitive and unlucky others) can feel, ominous and cold and otherworldly.
As killing a Parson is forbidden by Celestial Law, if you ever reach 0 Health, the Angel will descend and immediately use force to try and end the situation. If you are killed, the Angel will hunt your killer to the ends of the Earth.
Spell Pieces: Cold, Cruel
Judgement Hammer (4) The Angel comes down hard on your foe with the full force of its cruelty, advancing Destroy once.
Number the Sins (2) The Angel recites the wrongdoings of its target. Add 1 Success to a roll to Destroy for every Health you have lost this combat.
Book of Names (1) The Angel whispers in your ear some horrible secret about a person. If they have broken Celestial Law, you know immediately. Otherwise, you know some other minor secret they keep.
Consequence: None Of You Are Without Sin
You belong more to the Law than to the World, and begin to lash out against other party members for perceived slights. You do not choose who you lash out against, but you do choose the manner. You may attack them, or you may utter a Condemnation Prayer, or you may simply deliver a brutal and neverending lecture, but your focus is on their crimes and not on the task at hand.
You might want your Assist Pools to have their own resource, or you might use your game’s Magic or Health resources. What matters here is that there’s a finite amount of power here.
In Heroic Chord, the Assist Pool has its own running total, which caps out at 5.
You might want to set some special Spell Pieces aside for the Assist Pool. If the players want to use these words to cast a spell, they need to spend 1 from their Resource Pool. These words might be very different from the class’s normal words.
These are powers that the players can use in exchange for spending their Assist Pool resource. Like the Spell Pieces, these should be different from things the players can do on their own – they represent an exceptional source of help. Otherwise, though, they’re not too different from Class Abilities.
The Abilities above are just examples. You should try and make some that are inexpensive and easy to use, and others that are more expensive and represent a greater investment.
Here are some more examples:
*Clarity: (2 Scatter) You make a minor prediction about events yet to unfold, such as where a person will be found or what kind of creature will attack. (You may need to bargain with your GM for this.) Your prediction comes true. (Wandering Magus – The Watching Stars)*
*Call Specter: (2 Scatter) A phantom appears to aid you. For the next three rounds of combat, there is a ghost present who will make attacks, using the same skills and facets as you do. The phantom is no one you recognize, a fallen warrior from the place's history, and they do not speak. (Enduring Crusader – The Fallen)*
*Conjure Tunnel: (3 Grounding) You immediately create a Warp Tunnel. Where it leads is up to the GM, but it will definitely deliver you from the situation you find yourself in. (Warptouched Ace – Warp Demon)*
For every Assist Pool, there is a pool of some kind of resource. There should also be a unique consequence that happens when the player runs out of their resource.
Think about what happens when your characters get too close to this special source of power. In the example above, a Windswept Cavalier who becomes too close to their animal friend becomes further away from their fellow human beings.
This is a great way to add flavor to your classes, and to encourage your players to make dramatic choices, so take your time to make these special and interesting.
To Do – Classes
What are the different paths to power in your world?
Are you using classes? If not, how will players get abilities?
What kinds of abilities do players of every class have to choose from?
If you’re not using the default advancement system, when do players choose abilities?
What extra powers can the players call on?
What are the powers they gain from this? What are the consequences?