Spellslinger

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Spellslinger is an obscure 3rd party campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition; created by Fantasy Flight Games as part of their Horizon "mini-settings" line, Spellslinger is a lost gem of /tg/ in that it represents the only Weird Western D&D setting to have ever been officially published. What's that mean, you ask? It means that rather than being set in our Wild West and adding fantastical elements, like Deadlands does, it takes the themes of the Wild West and applies them to a fantasy world.

Spellslinger takes place in a nebulous region called "The Territories" - this is the American Frontier analogue. Its native population are the Gray Runners - humanoid wolves and Amerindian stand-ins, sort of like the lupins of Mystara. The other, more conventional, D&D races - human, elf, dwarf, gnome, etc - are immigrants from a country to the far east, who have found this new, virgin land and are eager to exploit its opportunities for gold, land and freedom. Freedom to defend the old ways, or to destroy them. Freedom to live, and freedom to die. A harsh country... but full of opportunities for the strong and the bold.

Further emphasizing its Western themes (arguably), Spellslinger is a low-magic setting. Hundreds of years ago, it was like any ordinary fantasy world, but the magic slowly died away and the gods grew silent; clerics, druids, wizards and necromancers all lost their arts and faded away, leaving behind only the Branded: individuals marked from birth with a smaller, more intimate relationship with magic. Whether this development was prompted by the growth of technology, or technological growth accelerated to compensate, is a chicken and egg affair - unlike in Deadlands, though, Spellslinger has no steampunk elements.

Spellslinger also advertises itself as a setting that dumps alignment, and recommends PCs start out as at least 3rd level. Furthermore, it's got unique skills, classes and ignores the normal rules about Favored Classes when multiclassing.

The Races[edit]

With the exception of newcomer race, the wolf-like Gray Runners native to the Territories, all of the PHB members are here. That said, there are some setting based differences...

Humans are, of course, the most common race to arrive in the territory. Unlike in most D&D settings, though their "hat" isn't being the most flexible - it's being a bunch of territorial asshats. Seriously, their entry in the races chapter outright says that most other races give their stakes a wide berth to avoid the hassle. They're also known for being particularly racist jerks as well; they don't like the Gray Runners because they fight over land over the time, they don't like dwarves because they're better miners (unless they're employing them), they don't like elves for being better shots than they are (unless they've hired them as gunslingers), and they don't like half-orcs and half-elves for being "job-thieves" (unless they're employing them because they'll work for less). About the only races they really get on with are halflings and gnomes. Humans are most likely to bear the Magi, Blackhand and Pale Rider Brands, but only the Skinwalker Brand is particularly rare amongst their numbers.

Dwarves flocked to the Territories for one reason: money! Filthy, filthy lucre is a siren call that draws dwarves to the undead-infested Grey Mountains like iron filings to a magnet. Humans may be territorial in general, but dwarves are greedy, possessive of their claims, and mildly paranoid to boot. They get on with gnomes, in small doses, and can tolerate, but are rude to, humans, half-elves and halflings. They hate elves and gray riders, and despise half-orcs. Only the Steelheart and Padre Brands occur amongst dwarves with any frequency, and magi are almost unheard of.

Spellslinger Dwarves make the following changes to the 3e dwarf: gain Weapon Familiarity - Dwarven Scattergun (treat as Large Firearm), a +2 racial bonus on Bargain checks related to stone or metal items, a +2 racial bonus on Build/Repair checks related to stone or metal, and trade the +1 racial bonus on attack rolls vs. orcs and goblinoids for a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls vs. undead instead.

Elves have flocked to the wild and untamed regions of the Territories, due to the increasingly overcrowded and industrialized nature of the old world having bred a longing for purer times. It goes without saying that they're much more misanthropic than normal elves, and tend to become scouts and hermits. That said, they have bowed to the inevitable in one field: the elven knack for archery has given way to mastering the use of rifles, and the elven longbarrel is infamous for its range and accuracy - longbarrel-toting elves have won every major sharp-shooting competition for the past 30 years. Of all the races, they retain a strong connection to magic, with the three potent Brands (Magi, Padre, Skinwalker) being the most common of elven brands. Inversely, the technology-assisting Steelheart Brand, and the magic-defeating Blackhand Brand, are rare and all but unheard of, respectively - Blackhanded elves are shunned by their fellows, who regard them superstitiously as living destroyers of the world's magical potential.

Spellslinger Elves make the following changes to the 3e elf: Gain the bonus feat Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Elven Longbarrel), and Listen/Search/Spot skills are consolidated into a single Senses skill.

Gnomes have flocked to the Territories for intellectual freedom, so they can explore whatever avenue their fevered brains can cook up. This has given them a well-deserved reputation as mad scientists, and nobody fully trusts a gnome. Inversely, gnomes don't really dislike anyone, although they come closest to being irked by elves and gray runners, whose prattlings about nature can be tiresome. Ironically, whilst their technological focus makes them very prone to Steelhearts, they also retain a strong connection to the lingering forces of arcane magic, and there are many gnomish Magi. That said, their disinterest in spiritual matters means few bear the Brands of the Padre or the Skinwalker.

Spellslinger Gnomes gain the racial trait Weapon Familiarity: Gnomish Contraption (treat as Small Firearm), a +2 racial bonus on Build/Repair checks, and replace their +2 Listen bonus with +2 Senses checks.

Half-Elves, ironically, are the setting's primary rabble-rousers and trouble-makers; persecuted as unsavory, wild and irresponsible in the old world, they've come to the Territories seeking freedom... and generally live down to their reputation. Not helping is that they are most strongly Branded by the two most sinister powers; Blackhands and Pale Riders. Strangely, very few half-elves are ever Branded with the marks of the Padre or Magi.

Spellslinger Half-Elves gain the Weapon Familiarity: Elven Longbarrel trait (treat as Large Firearm), a +1 racial bonus on Senses checks, a +2 racial bonus on Chat checks.

Half-Orcs have flocked to the Territories, seeking to escae the stigma of their orcish blood. Whilst still perceived as explosively temperamental and naturally violent, in the rugged and oft-dangerous lands of the Territories, that's not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, their strength and stamina makes them useful as laborers, ranchers and other performers of rugged and dangerous work. The only Brands that half-orcs bear frequently are the Pale Rider and the Skinwalker; all of the others are extremely rare.

Spellslinger Half-Orcs gain the racial trait of Weapon Familiarity - Orcish Hand Cannon, treating such weapons as Large Firearms rather than Exotic Weapons.

Halflings have figured out that the Territories are a golden opportunity to get rich without having to do dangerous or demanding work. All these new frontier towns need shopkeeps, bankers, barbers and other such roles, and halflings are good at things like that. That said, this being a somewhat gritty setting, a lot of halflings get too greedy, and the race has picked up a not-underserved reputation for being thieves, cheats and con artists. Branded Halflings are rarer than some races, and predominantly Padres and Blackhands. The Pale Rider Brand is almost never seen on a halfling.

Spellslinger Halflings gain Weapon Familiarity - Halfling Throwing Knife (treat as Brawling Weapon) and a +2 racial bonus on Athletics, Creep and Senses checks.

Gray Runners[edit]

These are basically expies of the "tribal" Lupins of Mystara, and it shows. They're described as 6-7ft tall humanoid wolves, similar to gnolls or hybrid-form werewolves, though sleeker and more graceful than either race.

Their culture is basically a mix of Amerindian and lupine stereotypes. For one, they're a quiet people who believe strongly in an animistic view of the world, where one must always show nature respect and be careful what one takes, lest the angry spirits punish you for your misdeeds. For another, they're a strongly pack-orientated society; they establish clear pecking orders of prominence within the tribe, raise children communally, mate for life and prefer to hunt in groups.

Obviously, as the obligatory disgruntled natives stand-in of the setting, Gray Runners don't like any of the newcomer races very much. Elves feign a semblance of respect for nature, but consider themselves it's master, free to dominate and twist plants and animals as they see fit. Humans claim ownership over the land, a concept the Gray Runners find laughable - which of course is absolute rubbish when you consider that a strongly lupine-orientated mentality should easily understand the concept of "territory". But the races they truly dislike are the dwarves, who tear the land apart and befoul everything to create their mines, and the gnomes, who tend to pollute and wreck the land around them in order to create their railroads.

Still, many gray runners do enter colonized lands, either for revenge, or because they're wise enough to understand that their peoples must learn to understand each other and make peace, before the colonists destroy the natives with their superior technology.

+2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +4 Wisdom, -2 Intelligence
Medium Sized
Base Speed of 40 feet
Scent
Weapon Familiarity: Treat Tomahawks as Brawling weapons rather than as Exotic weapons
Track by Scent
Bite Attack: 1d6+Strength bonus
+4 Racial Bonus to Knowledge (The Pack) checks
Nature's Brotherhood: When a Gray Runner casts a spell that has the Natural descriptor, that spell ignores Spell Resistance and cannot be dispelled
Level Adjustment: +1

The Classes[edit]

Aside from the Brands, which have their own unique interaction with the class system, there re only three classes in Spellslinger; the Gunfighter, the Maverick, and the Trailblazer. The setting also uses two unique mechanisms for D&D.

Firstly, to encourage players not to run around in setting-inappropriate heavy armor, all classes receive a dodge bonus to their AC based on the class in question and the level of the class.

Secondly, the concept of "core abilities"; each class provides a special ability that can only be gained if you take the class at first level. Multiclassing in at a later point, or taking a Brand, prevents you from gaining this core ability.

Spellslinger's classes also grant level & class-based bonuses to Initiative rolls and have some unusual save & BAB progressions compared to more traditional 3e classes.

The Gunfighter is the Fighter analogue of the setting, a hired muscle who specialiozes in killing quick and fast with lethally accurate firearms. It keys predominantly off of Dexterity and Constitution, but given this was the era of MAD, alas, Strength and Wisdom are also important for their skills. Their Core Ability is True Grit: a Gunfighter with this trait is immune to fear effects and morale penalties, is immune to Intimidation unless the user is at least 4 levels/hit dice higher than they are, and can choose one of the three saves (Fort/Ref/Will): they gain a +2 class bonus to that chosen save and, when they make that kind of save, they get to roll two dice and keep the best result.

The Maverick is the thinking man's class; whilst they have some elements of the Rogue, mostly in that they're naturall good at stealing and conning, their primary use is as a Skill Monkey class, with lots and lots of Int, Dex and Charisma skills to fill in vital roles for the party. Indeed, their Core Ability is Jack of All Trades, which gives them +8 skill points at 1st level, +2 skill points at each level thereafter, the ability to use any skill untrained, and a favored skill. This skill, chosen from the Maverick's class skills, gains a +3 class bonus and when it's checked, the Maverick rolls two dice and keeps the better result.

The Trailblazer is an odd duck; this is the nature master class, closer to the Scout than the Ranger in that it's focused on survival in the wilderness and killing people quick and stealthy. They're also minor tanks; at D10 hit dice, they're technically inferior to the D20 HD'd Gunfighter, but they've got class features to bolster their toughness. Aside from the ability to pick up universal damage reduction, their Core Ability is Clean Living: a Trailblazer with this feature can always act during surprise rounds and when they gain new hit dice, they roll the die twice and take the better result, ensuring their maximum hit dice are always pushed up plenty high. You know, unless the dice gods really screw you over.

Brands[edit]

Because of the low-magic setting, spellcasting classes in Spellslinger are replaced by "Brands", which are mini-classes; you give up your first level to take 1 Brand, which affects your class skills and hit dice, but gives you access to magical abilities based on that Brand, which you gain at the appropriate levels - your secondary class is "counted as" for levels, so a Magi 1/Gunslinger 9 is treated as a 10th level Magi. Three Brands directly correlate to the original classes; for these, you need to take the "X Circle" feats to give yourself spells (1st Circle for 1st level spells, through to 5th Circle for their most powerful (5th level) spells, and they all cast spontaneously and without the need for material components. The other Brands just have access to feats that build upon their magical traits.

All Branded characters need to display their stigma, the physical manifestation of their magical talent, before they can use their powers.

Blackhands are anti-mages, marked by a jet-black hand and the innate ability to detect magic, bestow the Magekiller property to weapons, and resist spells. Any weapon a Blackhand wields counts as a Magekiller, but they can bestow this ability temporarily on other weapons by smearing them with their own blood. Feats augment them with the ability to cast Greater Dispel Magic, augmenting that trait, permanently draining the magic from enchanted items to heal themselves, and increased spell resistance.

Magi correlate to the Wizard class of old; marked by a milky-white "evil eye", they can detect magic at will and are the only Brand to have cantrip spells. Magi spells focus on destruction, mind control and unnatural forms of travel. Their feats augment their evil eye, allowing them to hypnotise others, unleash bursts of force, and see through illusions.

Padres are the legacy of the Cleric class; welcomed wherever they go, the "divine spark" (a flame-like birthmark on the forehead) is a welcome sign, as they have an innate healing touch and the ability to bless allies and their own weapons, even without acquiring Padre spells. Padre spells focus on healing, cleansing and empowering. Their feats augment their healing touch and blessing abilities, and allow them to scry via mirrors.

Pale Riders are the closest things in the Spellslinger universe to Necromancers. Marked by a blatant ghost-white handprint on their face, they can kill with a touch, have a terrifying glance, and can summon ghostly steeds to ride them, hence the name. They can gain the ability to sense life and death at will via a feat, but most of their feats focus on improving their killing touch and ghostly steed.

Skinwalkers are the Druid counterpart to the Magi and Padres; a crescent moon mark is present on their forehead at all times, and even when shapeshifted, they can't get rid of it. They have lesser shapeshifting abilities, akin to the Alter Self spell. Skinwalker spells focus on animal, plant and a handful of elemental magics. They use their feats to augment their ability to shapeshift, mainly to turn into animals and talk to animals.

Steelhearts are marked by a large hammer-print birthmark on their chests and have a preternatural affinity for metal and technology. Working metal comes naturally to them, whether to make things, fix things, or even break things, and they have the inherent ability to create magical items despite not casting spells. They can acquire feats to heat metal with a touch and turn their skin into super-hard steel.

Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Settings
Basic D&D: Mystara (Blackmoor) - Pelinore
AD&D: Birthright - Council of Wyrms - Dark Sun - Dragonlance
Forgotten Realms (Al-Qadim - The Horde - Icewind Dale - Kara-Tur - Maztica)
Greyhawk - Jakandor - Mystara (Hollow World - Red Steel - Savage Coast)
Planescape - Ravenloft (Masque of the Red Death) - Spelljammer
3rd/3.5 Edition: Blackmoor - Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms
Ghostwalk - Greyhawk (Sundered Empire) - Ravenloft
4th Edition: Blackmoor - Dark Sun - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Nentir Vale
5th Edition: Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Greyhawk
Nentir Vale - Ravenloft - Ravnica - Spelljammer
Third Party: Dragonmech (3E) - Dragonstar (3E) - Kingdoms of Kalamar (2E/3E/4E)
Midnight (3E/4E) - Ptolus (3E) - Scarred Lands (3E/5E) - Spellslinger (3E)
Wilderlands of High Fantasy (Basic)