Sunday, 29 March 2015

Classes in There is Therefore a Strange Land: Preliminary Thoughts

There is Therefore a Strange Land has four classes:

The Dilettante, a dabbler who has no special abilities, akin to a rogue or fighter.

The Tarot Reader, who uses the major arcana to cast spells.

The Cleric or Satanist, who uses the power of prayer to summon supernatural aid.

The Alchemist, who brews potions and creates materials to bestow special abilities.

The rough idea for the Alchemist is as follows.

Renaissance alchemy had, I believe, four different 'stages' - Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas and Rubedo, corresponding to black, white, yellow and red. So the Alchemist class follows this progression. The easiest stage is nigredo, which involves harming the environment or other beings. Albedo involves healing and purification. Citrinitas involves transmutation and polymorphing. And Rubedo is the truly powerful, awe-inspiring secret abilities of the Alchemist who has completed his or her magnum opus.

Each stage has its own ability list, which is partly completely new spells and partly re-skinnings of existing D&D ones. In order to use the abilities, the Alchemist has to have access to materials which he can combine in advance before use. So playing as an Alchemist is all about pre-preparing your potions, oils, greases and so on for use on a given adventure, discovering what materials are needed for other new abilities, and finding/buying those materials.

The Tarot Reader uses the major arcana in a standard tarot deck in various combinations to cast spells. Before any given adventure, he or she draws a number of major arcana from the deck as if reading the tarot, depending on his or her level (3 cards for level 1, say, 5 cards for level 3, etc.). The tarot reader can then combine the cards in his possession into various pre-determined combinations for existing spells - or try to come up with unique combinations for spell-like effects agreed with the DM.

The Cleric or Satanist performs rituals in order to gain powers. These could be prayers or masses, sacrifices, or even attempts to summon angels or demons respectively. The cleric is not a healer, but one who calls on the power of his or her divinity to smite enemies or provide services. In There is Therefore a Strange Land, Christianity is a real thing, but the theology of Christianity is subject to conflict.

The Dilettante is somebody who is investigating portals to the Strange Land primarily from a sense of adventure or to earn money. They have no special abilities, but they gain levels quickly, and are typically the strongest in a fight.


  1. I just recieved Yoon Suin last week and am quite enjoying it! I'm curious as to the idea behind There is Therefore a Strange Land. I like the ideas I see so far (especially the portal table)...

    1. The idea behind There is Therefore a Strange Land is basically Planescape meets William Blake, crossed with The Magician's Nephew. The PCs begin as inheritors or discoverers of the study of somebody who has been investigating a portal or portals to another world. There are other investigators out there, and the game is as much about what happens in the real world between adventures - there is a big social web of scholars, patrons, collectors, fences, and rival investigators who are also interested in what is beyond these mysterious secret doorways.

  2. What game rules are you using?