Chthonic Codex is going to be many things: a lot of full page illustrations, monsters and weird magical stuff. Let’s say something less known: it’s going to be a proper campaign setting too.
It’s going to be delivered in ways usually not trodden by settings books: written in character by a dude in the setting. The book is going to be statted for AFG (get yourself a copy here) but compatible with other OSR games (I suggest Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but they’re pretty much swappable unless you’re in New Feierland).
And the PCs will typically be Casters attending classes at a College. Taking inspiration from my experience at Glasgow University Postgrad school, with the liberal addition of magic, reckless experimenting, bad politics and environments even more hostile than Western Scotland, Chthonic Codex will be the Murderhobo’s Vademecum to School of Magic
Don’t think of wand-wielding Warner Bros brats.
FLAILSNAILS VISITS MAGIC ACADEMY, TORCHES LABS, CRASHES PARTIES
Anyway, sometimes you want a knowledgeable PC that is not really a caster. Ivan Sorensen from the Daily OSR Fix (it’s good! visit it!) came up with the Loremaster, a new Labyrinth Lord compatible class. After asking his permission I swiped the class and punched it in the face until it complied to my bidding.
Because sometimes you just want to play a smartass nerd that thinks that Casters are posers and hipsters and “pretend erudites”. They need magic because they don’t trust their knowledge.
Anyway, here’s the Chthonic Codex version of Ivan’s class. In case you wonder, a Tier is a group of three levels: Tier 1 is level 1 to 3, Tier 2 is level 4 to 6, up to Tier 4.
Sages: the Way of Knowledge
Characters who embark on the Way of Knowledge are known as Sages. The Way of Knowledge focuses on reading and copying gigantic piles of books. Also by listening to knowledgeable people taking a whole lot of notes. Sages may be scribes, historians, librarians, bards or even scientists. Sages roll 1d6 to determine Hits for each level gained in the Way of Knowledge and can use medium armours.
Sages can write at the same speed as they can speak, and can read four times as fast. When copying spells Sages don’t need to learn the spell beforehand and treat the level of the spell as reduced by 1 per Tier in the Way of Knowledge, and they never fail.
Utter Love for the Written Form
Sages may decipher foreign or ancient languages. Roll a 5MORE with a modifier of -1, plus a +1 per Tier in the Way of Knowledge. Test the first time the language is encountered, and if successful, the character may add it to his character sheet. It’s possible to re-attempt failed languages once a new Tier in the Way of Knowledge is gained and the character is exposed to that language again.
I Read it in a Book
When examining a magical item, Sages may identify it. Roll as per Utter Love for the Written Form: if successful, the caster will know some vague detail about the item and might gain additional insights from further examination. After 1 hour more of study attempt another roll: if successful, the item is fully identified and its powers revealed.
I didn’t just study Calligraphy
Sages may learn spells and even cast them from fetishes. Each level in the Way of Knowledge counts as a level in the Way of Magic for casting purposes only. The Way of Knowledge does not grant spells or mana.
Death by Culture
Culture doesn’t hurt, but could make you a more formidable opponent. When encountering an unknown monster, roll as per Utter Love for the Written Form: if successful the sage can determine one ability, immunity or vulnerability of the monster.
Lore Best Forgotten
Sages are completely immune to negative effects of written magical items, such as manuals, glyphs, cursed scrolls or loss of sanity, dismissing them as cultural garbage with extreme snobbery and prejudice.