Saturday, 26 January 2013

4th Edition Science Fiction

Dominic Matte
I randomly had a couple of fun thoughts on how to reflavour the D&D 4e classes to fit into a science fiction setting. These ideas are by no means complete, so I'd love to see anything you might come up with in the comments.

Martial classes are unchanged - fighter, ranger, rogue, warlord. That's pretty easy. None of them use any magic, so there's nothing to fix there. Just reflavour bows as guns and you're good to go. Though if you really want an explanation as to why there are still melee fighters when there are advanced projectile weapons, you could maybe steal something from Dune, modified slightly: personal shields are common. But unlike Dune, they're not very good - all they can do is slow down small objects, aka bullets. They're pretty much useless for anything else. They're handy, and pretty much everybody has one, but they're not effective enough to put a stop the use of guns.

The psionic classes exist, but they're very rare for one simple reason: psions are mutants, and the mutation that gives one psychic powers also causes infertility. Psions can't reproduce, so there are only a few of them in any given population. Some areas are more prone to mutation than others, but for the most part psions are very rare - though well-trained ones often earn a high place in their society or military.

Wizards don't use magic. They're physicists who study the conversion and redirection of energy and matter into other forms. Since the math and science are so complex, it takes over ten years just to learn cantrips, and as a result, physicists are somewhat rare and tend to be at least middle-aged. Most physicists are researchers and academics, but there are always some who enjoy field research and applied science. The easiest conversions involve temperature and the molecules in the air. Those who study these elements manipulate fire and ice, and are called thermodynamicists.

On the other end of the spectrum, sorcerers are people with an instinctive understanding and ability for these advanced physics, but no conscious knowledge of how or why they can do these things. Sorcerers are seen as dangerous and undisciplined, especially by physicists, who have studied for decades to achieve any level of ability in their field. In some societies, sorcerers are mere curiosities who never achieve any real level of competence; in others, they're quietly respected; but in most societies where physicists have some standing, sorcerers are feared and taken from their families at a young age to be properly trained into or out of their abilities.

The swordmage and artificer traditions are practical applications of physics to other disciplines - namely, martial combat and technology. Swordmages are responsible for the discovery of shields and teleportation; while artificers are the ones who created much of the advanced technology used in spaceships.

And that's all I've got for now. At the moment I don't have any ideas on how to fit in the other arcane classes (warlock and bard) or any of the primal or divine. If you have any thoughts, leave a comment!

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